What Day Is It?!

Oh you think you know what day it is! If you think today is only Friday, you’re only half right. It’s not just Friday, it’s Fringe Friday!!

That’s right! Fringe kicks off its fifth and final season tonight, and I can’t wait for the beginning of its end. I’ve only watched Fringe for one full season (last season) but I’ve been hooked on the show ever since I began watching it regularly. Honestly, I’m a little sad that the show is ending, and I wish I paid it more mind during its early years. However, there’s no sense in looking back when there is so much to look forward to for this season! I’ll be glued to the screen come 8 tonight!
Peace & Pixels

16-Bit New School: The Border Lands

Today, Borderlands 2 will be released in North America. Admittedly, I don’t know much about this game nor its predecessor because I don’t play many current-gen titles. However, I did do some research on Borderlands 2 mainly because of some the videos I’ve seen of it on Gamespot as well as the game’s delightfully zany live action trailer.

Yesterday, I went on the game’s official website and saw The Border Lands, a web game that takes the action of Borderlands and puts it in a 16-bit package. To be succinct, the game is lot of fun. It’s graphical style and gameplay reminds me of many of the action games I played as a youth on the Sega Genesis. You play as one of four characters, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. After selecting a character, you are dropped onto an alien world (Pandora, I believe) and must battle waves of enemies that come from the east, west, north and south sides of the screen while gaining loot and experience points. The game is easy to play; it has a simple control scheme that uses the arrow keys for movement and the space bar for firing weapons. The controls can be a little cumbersome at times, but not enough to mar the game’s enjoyability.

After playing The Border Lands, I am actually considering getting a current-gen system to play Borderlands 1 and 2 once the cash flow gets right. I thought I’d just stick to the classics,  but games (and ad campaigns) like Borderlands have helped to change my mind. Until next time.

Peace & Pixels

Rainbow Road Retrospective

As many of you may already know, Super Mario Kart recently turned twenty years old from the time of its Japanese release.

Released on the Super Nintendo, Super Mario Kart represents the first entry in the racing branch of the venerable Mario franchise. Known for its daft combination of kart racing and cartoonish combat, Super Mario Kart would become a massive hit, eventually selling over eight million copies worldwide and firmly establishing the “kart racer” as a sub-genre of racing games. The 2009 edition of Guinness World Records named the game as the greatest of all console titles based on its initial impact and legacy, which has endured across several other Nintendo platforms and even in the arcades.

But enough of the pleasantries; let’s get real.

For all the felicity surrounding Super Mario Kart, there remains a seed of iniquity sown deep in the bowels of its coding. When found, it sprouts into a hell flower of a road course, suspended in darkness yet paved in bright colors. People, this track might very well be the path of evil itself.

That track is called Rainbow Road.

AAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!! Pic comes mariokart.wkika.com

Rarely has such ebullient nomenclature been labeled on something so harrowing. Rainbow Road sounds like a children’s show, one that would likely include talking cars and smiling suns. But there’s none of that here; Rainbow Road is anything but welcoming. Paved in tiles reminiscent of the disco floor in Saturday Night Fever, Rainbow Road hovers in a dark corner of the cosmos that even Brian Greene wouldn’t traverse. If you fall off the grid here, you fall into the abyss.

And you will fall. Rainbow Road has no guardrails, so you’re either going to stay on the track or meet the black. You can be driving along, knuckles white with fear as you’re just trying to stay in next to last place. Then suddenly “POW!” someone bumps you off the road and there you go, sailing into nothingness while being lapped.

Such evil…

It would have been merciful of Nintendo to leave Rainbow Road in the past, left with high-top fades, Skip-its, and British Knights. Oh no, that would have been too much like right! Rainbow Road came back. Again. And again. And again. In fact, there is no incarnation of Mario Kart that doesn’t contain a version of this tortuous track!

Happy Anniversary Super Mario Kart! And my prayers go to all who drive on that Road of Wiles…Rainbow Road.

Armstrong Laid to Rest, Thoughts on Tony Scott

This month, we lost two people who were some of my heroes growing up. They were thrill seekers, one on film and one in space. Those people were Tony Scott and Neil Armstrong.

Tony Scott was one of my favorite directors. I loved watching his films for their kinetic energy and explosiveness. His films were escapist epics; he took you on a 90 minute tour of heroism and havoc. Scott directed with an adroit eye, creating films that were visually and sonically striking. Watching his movies were like watching a long music video set to an orchestra. Two of my favorite films by Scott were also two of Tom Cruise’s earliest hits: 1990’s Days of Thunder and 1986’s Top Gun.

Top Gun is a classic.  It’s the film that instilled a love of fighter jets in many kids during its time. We would be outside, arms outstretched, whirling around and making gun sounds while calling ourselves Maverick and Goose (sadly, no one wanted to be Iceman). Top Gun had two games on the NES, one of them being Top Gun: The Second Mission which I owned. I played that game for hours, dogfighting enemy jets and having flashbacks that obviously weren’t real.

A man that had seen real war time was Neil Armstrong. A member of the US Air Force, Armstrong flew in over 70 combat missions during the Korean War. He would later join the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1962,  with his first space flight occurring in 1966. Three years later, he would take a trip that has been immortalized in history when he and Buzz Aldrin journeyed to the moon.

I admired Neil Armstrong and his Apollo 11 partner Buzz Aldrin as a boy. They were otherworldly to me because they had seen the Earth from the heavens. Sometimes, when my family would go to the Museum of Science and Industry here in Chicago, I would get a wax space shuttle from a machine at the space exhibit. I’d take the space shuttle and fly it around our living room, imaging myself navigating through an asteroid field or landing on Pluto.

Tony Scott ended his life in the midst of a bout with brain cancer. Nearly a week ago Armstrong lost his life to complications to blocked coronary arteries. He was laid to rest at a ceremony held earlier today. It’s amazing how cruel irony can be sometimes. Not only did we lose the director of Top Gun, we lost one real life Top Gun as well.