Skewed 'n Reviewed Movie News and Reviews 2014-11-21T13:02:02Z http://sknr.net/feed/atom/ gareth <![CDATA[The Best Casino Themed Levels of Sonic The Hedgehog]]> http://sknr.net/?p=76323 2014-11-21T12:35:52Z 2014-11-21T12:35:52Z It is somewhat ironic that the latest addition to the expanding plethora of features offered by online casinos are themed games, considering that back in the 16-bit era it was video-games that used the casino’s glitzy and neon setting as the backdrop to their levels. Way before websites like SuperCasino started placing superheroes within their casino games, it was Sega’s Sonic The Hedgehog who was the first virtual creation to be seen running around slot-machines and pinging about like a pinball.

 

It is undeniable that if there is any one video-game series that has most utilised the colourful and vibrant setting of casino games, Sonic The Hedgehog is it. Since the now classic Casino Nights stage was introduced in 1992’s Sonic The Hedgehog 2, the speedy blue hedgehog has barely had a game where he has not been surrounded by flashing lights and electronic beeps reminiscent of Las Vegas’ finest establishments. So in honour of this, here are the two best casino themed stages from Sonic’s astoundingly large canon of outings.

 

Casino Nights (Sonic The Hedgehog 2, 1992)

 

Perhaps the finest entry in Sonic The Hedgehog’s history, this mega-drive classic is as close to 2D platforming perfection as you can get. Taking the speedy pace and complex level design of the original Sonic The Hedgehog, this sequel delivers all the thrills of the original whilst adding additional honing and embellishments. The edition of fan-favourite sidekick Miles ‘Tails’ Prower, with his ability to spin his dual-tails like the blades of a helicopter, added an extra dimension to exploring stages. This ability to switch seamlessly between the lightening quick sonic and the gravity defying Tails created an unbeatable quick-fire platforming experience.

 

Nowhere was this ability more useful than during the Casino Nights stage. This neon maze of bouncy pinball style sections is perhaps the most famous of all of Sonic’s backdrops. These stages were as frustrating as they were exhilarating as you desperately tried to direct the bouncing characters through the tiny gaps in the walls that led to the next section. The jazzy backing music and piercing boing, as you ricochet of the walls, perhaps sticking in the minds of gamers more than anything else.

 

Casinopolis (Sonic Adventure, 2003)

 

Sonic suffered a bumpy landing in to the world of 3D gaming, this 2D master never quite matching Mario’s smooth jump into the next generation. However, the Dreamcast launch title of Sonic Adventure still has its moments.  This 2003 platformer is mostly let down by its clumsy and uninteresting hub-world and the addition of questionable new types of gameplay, including the mindbogglingly dull fishing levels of Big the Cat.

 

It is the action-stages concerning Sonic himself where the game get back on track. These fantastical virtual roller-coasters are an almost perfect transference of the blitzing side-scrolling fun of earlier games, if only slightly let down by a wayward camera at certain points. The game, reflecting its then new platform, is keen to replicate as many of Sonic’s classic stages as possible. Therefore, it is no surprise that the Casino Nights influenced Casinopolis appears early on. This 3D recreation is another speedy rush of neon, with the shimmering background of colourful lights rushing past as you bounce around life-sized versions of pinball machines and roulette wheels. Although some segments are rather trickily designed, which breaks up the pacing of the level, the stage mostly balances seamless gliding and intricate manoeuvring without a hitch.

 

 

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Jennifer Fiduccia <![CDATA[The Hunger Games: Mockingjay PT. 1]]> http://sknr.net/?p=76318 2014-11-21T13:02:02Z 2014-11-21T07:01:41Z The newest installment of The Hunger Games series brings us to District 13 after Katniss Everdeen has been rescued from the Games and whisked off to supposed safety.

The movie is huge and sweeping and grabs the viewer from the very start.

Unlike the first two films, it could conceivably stand alone, and the viewer would ‘get it’ without having read the books.

I read all 3 books back to back in 15 hours, back before the first movie was released. The Mockingjay – Part 1 makes me want to go re-read the books all over again.

All the main characters are back; Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen,  Liam Hemsworth as Gail Hawthorne, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark,  Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, Elizabeth Banks as Effie, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch,
and Donald Sutherland as President Snow.  Mockingjay introduces Julianne Moore as President Coin.

A lot of the movie is based on Katniss watching screens to see what is going on in the capital, but there are enough outside action scenes throughout the film to ensure you don’t just feel like you’re watching a film of someone watching tv.

I didn’t, and don’t think anyone in the theatre had any teary eyed moments like I did in the first two films.  This movie was less emotionally heart wrenching, and had much more of a ‘rally the troops’ feel, but that’s what the goal was.  I certainly was rooting for Katniss in the action scenes and at several points in the film I jumped in my seat.

I didn’t really ‘like’ the ending scene, but understand why it was ended there.  Mockingjay part 1 completely builds suspense for what will be Mockingjay 2, and again, drives me to want to re-read the books.

I would give this movie 4.75 out of 5 stars.

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gareth <![CDATA[Nintendo Holiday Preview]]> http://sknr.net/?p=76308 2014-11-20T17:44:06Z 2014-11-20T17:44:06Z Michael Foz got up close and hands on with some great new Nintendo items as part of his Holiday Preview coverage. I drove to Seattle to attend a screening of some of the most anticipated videogames coming this holiday season from Nintendo. Nintendo representative Demetrius met me outside the Airstream, a trailer marked with large, iconic images of Mario and Luigi, and led me through a walkthrough of the upcoming titles. Preloaded on different 3DS XLs and 2DS were Pokemon Omega Ruby, Alpha Sapphire, Super Smash Bros for the 3DS, Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal, Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, Ultimate NES Remix and various other new titles. On the Wii U, Demetrius showed off the recently released Bayonetta 2 and Hyrule Warriors along with the upcoming Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and Super Smash Bros for the Wii U. There was an emphasis on brand new tech called Amiibo, little Nintendo characters on an NFC chip embedded stand, that when pressed against the Wii U Gamepad would bring the character to life within certain compatible games. The player would then be able to level up that character in games like Super Smash Bros. Nintendo is also coming out with a brand new see through blue 2DS with a new price drop of $99 for the handheld. This holiday season, Nintendo plans to have a little something for everyone and finish the year with momentum entering into 2015.

 

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gareth <![CDATA[Destiny Reveals The EV-30 Sparrow]]> http://sknr.net/?p=76304 2014-11-19T19:21:27Z 2014-11-19T19:21:27Z Guardians who purchase and redeem Destiny Expansion Pass or Destiny Expansion I: The Dark Below by January 15, 2015 will receive the EV-30 Tumbler Sparrow, enabling its riders to drive fast, take flight, and perform a set of mid-air tricks.

 

See the EV-30 Tumbler Sparrow in action here:



 

 

 

 

Guardians who have already purchased or will purchase and redeem Destiny Expansion Pass will receive the EV-30 Tumbler Sparrow from the in-game Postmaster at the time of redemption.

 

Guardians who have already purchased or will purchase and redeem Destiny Expansion I: The Dark Below will receive the EV-30 Tumbler Sparrow from the in-game Postmaster starting on December 9, 2014.

 

Guardians can interact directly with the developers at www.Bungie.net, www.facebook.com/Bungie and @Bungie on Twitter. For game information, they can visit www.DestinyTheGame.com and follow the official Destiny social channels at www.facebook.com/DestinyTheGame and @DestinyTheGame on Twitter.

 

Destiny game required to play, sold separately.

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gareth <![CDATA[Nintendo: 2014 Holiday Tour Images From Seattle Stop]]> http://sknr.net/?p=76301 2014-11-19T20:10:36Z 2014-11-19T19:07:40Z We sent Michel Foz to cover the Seattle stop for the Nintendo Holiday Tour. Ahead of his write up, here are the images he had of the good stuff that was on hand.

 

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Ryan Guerra <![CDATA[Foxcatcher]]> http://sknr.net/?p=76315 2014-11-21T12:32:22Z 2014-11-19T15:00:49Z Please note that the film has opened in select cities at this time. It is scheduled to open in Phoenix on December 19th so please check your local listings for release information.

 

Famous for Capote and Moneyball, Director Bennett Miller has been known to direct his actors to Oscar nominated performances. Which is why it not surprising that his new film Foxcatcher, is no different. The trio of Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo all deliver stellar performances that will elevate each of their acting profiles to new levels. Most notably for Carell who gains the most by showing that he is more than just a comedic actor.

Carell delivers in his portal of millionaire John Du Pont. His subtle and nuanced performance is palpable to display the eccentricities that Du Pont has developed while living his whole life with money and power, only to be a loner who is constantly seeking his mother’s approval. This goal has him attempting to “inspire and bring hope” back to America by sponsoring and “coaching” a wrestling team with a goal to win Olympic gold. Du Pont backs gold medal winner Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) to put together a team and win. Tatum’s portrayal of Schultz as an unaccepted loner living in his brother’s shadow is solid and balances across from Carell as the two develop an unlikely friendship. The performance between these two is nuanced to the point where they seem to balance each other out. It isn’t until Mark Ruffalo, As David Shultz, joins the team that we really begin to see just how messed up this whole situation is. Ruffalo delivers the best performance in the film as he is the humanizing force between both Mark Shultz and John Du Pont. It will be a shame if he is overlooked for this performance because of Carell’s departure from his previous work.

Now acting aside, while watching this film I realized that the “critic” in me is supposed to like it. The subtle nuanced emotions brought about by fantastic performances and somber lighting and framing feel and look like an “art film.” However that is where my praise of this film stops. Perhaps it is my lack of knowledge of these real life people or of the sport of wrestling, but I never really connect or care about these characters. Sure the actor’s performances are amazing but at the end of the day, the story is not really that fascinating. As a result, I felt the film drag at several points throughout and the pacing seemed to be ambiguously slow in an attempt to be insightful. However rather than thinking longer than necessary about the characters plight, I instead used the time caused by that slow pacing to question just how much of this film is “based on a true story.” Something I rarely do for films of this type. With a running time of 2 hours and 14 minutes you certainly feel it.

In the end I am of two minds for this film. If you are someone who enjoys seeing great performances and likes to study character, then you will want to check it out at some point. The trio of Carell, Tatum and Ruffalo all deliver. However if you are looking for a moving and thought provoking film, you may be disappointed.

2.5 stars out of 5

 

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gareth <![CDATA[3 Gaming Worlds That Can Hold Their Own To Middle-earth]]> http://sknr.net/?p=76298 2014-11-18T00:01:23Z 2014-11-18T00:01:23Z A huge part of why video games are so appealing is the ability to escape into a different world developed by an army of programmers, designers and artists. What started with warp pipe journeys in “Mario Bros.” has become intricate worlds comparable to novels and movies. Game developers no longer pride themselves on level-by-level linear gameplay. Free ranging worlds where players can follow their own path and make their own decisions to affect the outcome are now coveted by Gen 4 gamers. J.R.R Toliken’s Middle-earth is expansive but the gaming worlds of today are more than qualified for feature films given there are 32 adaptations in the works. Let’s take a look at three worlds where gamers can explore, learn and, of course, pillage.

Nirn (The Elder Scrolls)

There are few game worlds as intricately crafted as the world of Nirn from the “Elder Scrolls” franchise of games. The games to date have focused heavily on the events that occur on the continent of Tamriel over several thousand years, the world outside of Tamriel is detailed in-game in books and histories. Over the extensive history of the Elder Scrolls games, players have been able to walk the ash-caked wilds of Morrowind, explore the Imperial City, climb the Throat of the World in the province of Skyrim and explore the entire Imperium’s nooks and crannies. Elder Scrolls Online offers a map of the entire continent to help players understand the vast scale of the world.

It isn’t just the size of the world, however – Tamriel is a world rich in history, language, culture, flora and fauna that have been crafted by the hands of many talented writers and developers over the years. The legends of the world are so rich that they can be considered philosophical statements on creativity itself – The Imperial Library explores how the “Thirty-Six Lessons of Vivec,” a collection of in-game books from “Morrowind,” explores ideas concerning theories of game design and player interaction disguised as religious gospels from the Dark Elven folk religion. Not every game goes that deep.

Thedas (Dragon Age)

A huge continent in the southern hemisphere, Thedas is the primary location that all the Dragon Age games are set in. While we know there is a world outside of Thedas since the Qunari are from a northern land, much of it is shrouded in mystery. Thedas however, is made up of a dozen nations ranging from the fallen Feralden lost during The Blight to the magocratic Tevintar Imperium. “Dragon Age: Inquisition” is slated to come out November 18th and requires 26 GB of hard drive space on PC. Players are set to explore a whole new facet of Thedas.

Thedas is a living world in which events from one game deeply shape the world of later games, a trademark characteristic of the “Dragon Age” franchise that has made players feel like a part of an ever-growing mythology. As more games in the franchise are released, Thedas will grow and each players experience of it will be different and unique.

The Continent (The Witcher)

The world of the Witcher is a strange one – much has been said of its inhabitants, geography, and languages, but the world itself has never actually received a name. Originally created by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski, the world of “The Witcher” game franchise takes place on a continent only known as “The Continent” by its inhabitants.

The continent is inhabited by the Northern Kingdoms and the Nilfgaard Empire, other races are forced to live in second-class enclaves or dangerous wilderness. Over the last few centuries, much of the land has been claimed by the expanding empire of Nilfgaard while the Northern Kingdoms suffer. “The Witcher” series takes place after a massive war between these powers. Geralt of Rivia will return in the “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” due for release in February of 2015. Players who purchase the physical copy will receive a detailed map of The Continent.

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Justin Smith <![CDATA[Super Smash Bros: Nintendo 3DS]]> http://sknr.net/?p=76285 2014-11-17T17:51:05Z 2014-11-15T20:30:54Z Some of you might be able to remember back when Super Smash Brothers for the Nintendo 64 came out. At the time it was huge to have such a massive crossover game of so many franchises. And who has more perfect pantheon of stars than Nintendo? It was amazing just to see Mario, Link and Samus on the same screen.  Not only that but for a fighting game it was surprisingly fresh – an emphasis on mobility and fun over combos and clunky controls. The first Super Smash Bros. had twelve characters and it amazed us. Flash forward 15 years and we now have the franchise on handheld and with 50+ characters!

It’s the same quick-moving, high-mobility fighting style the series has triumphed at with some minor additions to the gameplay. Certain modes allow for  customizble character movesets which is a series first. It also creates a huge amount of depth when you figure each character has custom moves to unlock and there are over 50 characters to choose from. Probably the most impressive part of the game is just how jam packed with content it is. It’s sad to see the Subspace Emissary from the last game go (For those who don’t know, it was a full fledged story mode with co-op that played a bit like Kirby Super Star). But in its place we have a crazy amount of new modes.

There’s your classic Smash mode which everyone is familiar with. You set the rules and items and just duke it out on a chosen level with 1-3 enemies. You can set up teams as well to make it a 2v2. There’s also Classic mode which works a little like a campaign, which has you choosing a character and advancing through a series of fights and you get to choose the path of the fights. All-Star Mode allows you to advance through a series of fights with every character in the game. Home-Run Contest you try to get a dummy to fly as far as possible. Target Blast you try to navigate through a level in time to destroy all targets. Multi-Man Mode where you try to defeat as many enemies as possible before you get overwhelmed. And these are all just the singleplayer modes.

For multiplayer you can play over wi-fi and play a VS mode which follows the rules of classic Smash, and an exclusive mode called Smash Run which has players advancing through a level defeating AI opponents and collecing power ups, and when the time runs out all players fight eachother with said power ups.

So, as you can see it’s an impressively huge game especially for a handheld. But, it’s not without a few issues. On the technical side the internet matches I played were very laggy. This might be fixed with patches but almost every match was incredibly laggy. And for a fighting game that can really hamper the experience. Likewise, being on such a small device it can be hard to keep track of your character as the screen is so small. This is particularly true on larger maps which has the map zoom out if players are far apart.

I also hate to complain about the huge amount of characters in the roster simply because they give you so many, but I can’t help but feel a bit bummed about the overall additions. While pretty much all your favorites from Brawl return, if you compare the additions from that game (like Diddy, Meta Knight, Dedede, Sonic) to this one there aren’t as many huge characters, with a bit more emphasis on lesser-knowns. It’s a minor nit pick because some of the additions are excellent and I’m still blown away by Mega Man’s inclusion. But I still can’t help but feel there are a few characters from our beloved pasts that should make an appearance.

If you like Smash, you’ll love Smash Bros for the 3DS. And think, you can play it just about anywehre now that it’s on a handheld. That format does hold it back a bit in terms of screen size and lag but it’s a small price to play for such a content-filled game of undiluted fun. Indeed, the Wii U version coming out at the end of the month will be the larger and more complete version, but this one should be a definate compliment if you are a Smash or Nintendo fan.

4 stars out of 5

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Justin Smith <![CDATA[Nintendo Holiday 2014 And Beyond Preview Tour]]> http://sknr.net/?p=76283 2014-11-17T18:36:26Z 2014-11-15T20:27:18Z Nintendo has an interesting marketing department. It’s a bit different from everyone else which I think for them has been both their strength and weakness. Everyone remembers the Wii days when everyone thought Nintendo had sunk its ship by going in the opposite direction of its competitors but instead triumphed that entire generation. I’ve written in the past about the Nintendo bus tours, and it made a stop again this November in Phoenix which I was fortunate enough to attend. As said, it’s a different strategy, but I like the idea. They go around the country in a bus full of awesome Nintendo stuff and plant the seeds locally. The Wii U might not be doing the best in sales right now but they might be doing a heck of a lot worse without these folks, because what better way to raise interest in something than show it in person?

 

Anywho, they showed off a large amount of holiday offerings in the bus this year. Some of which is already out in stores, so I chose to stick with stuff I had not experienced yet. Bayonetta 2 is a recently released title for the Wii U, and anyone who has played the first game will know exactly what it’s like. For those who haven’t, it’s a cult classic by Hideki Kamiya, creator of Devil May Cry. It’s sort of his spiritual successor to the Devil May Cry series as it does play largely the same. But, it’s got its own unique charm to it. Very unique actually and even that might be an understatement. It runs smooth and is absolutely gorgeous, and it takes the craziness to an 11. Maybe even further than that.

 

I also got to play a bit of Ultimate NES Remix which is sort of a collection of various Nintendo NES titles but with twists. You can play a version of the original Super Mario sped up to two times speed. Or even just try to beat your time in completing the first level of any game. Each title in the Remix has modifiers and challenges to complete so for anyone who experienced the retro days it’s a great way to test your skill. You’ll probably find out you aren’t nearly as good as you were when you were younger, which I learned the hard way.

 

Probably the star of the show was Smash Bros. for the Wii U. While the 3DS version is currently out and available, the Wii U version is widely considered the “main” version of the game. Smash Bros. has always been best played on a console and this doesn’t change for this version. It looks beautiful in HD and runs incredibly smoothly. Not to mention the Wii U version has its own exclusive levels and game modes. And you can play it with your Gamecube controllers with a USB adapter. I was also shown the Amiibo products, small Nintendo figurines of various characters. They’re of pretty high quality and would be an excellent present for kids who will have Smash Bros. for the Wii U. The trick with the Amiibos is that there’s a small chip in the base of the figure that communicates with the Wii U gamepad. This allows owners to store “their character” in the figure and bring it anywhere they go. Tapping the base on the gamepad loads the character, its stats, and customizations making it feel like their companion. It’s a nifty idea and I think kids will love the sort of thing. It will also work with other titles as well going forward, so there is a reason to collect them all.

 

With Smash Bros I think Nintendo has a strong holiday lineup. Going back they also have the relatively fresh Hyrule Warriors and Bayonetta 2 to strengthen their lineup. I can definitely see momentum building for them and with more ideas like the Amiibo I think Nintendo is on course for some huge success. I sincerely thank the Nintendo bus tour for the opportunity to look at their products and I commend the strategy. Do more of these sort of things as its something the competitors don’t.

 

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gareth <![CDATA[BuyVia CEO: Norman Fong Offers Cyber Monday Tips]]> http://sknr.net/?p=76280 2014-11-17T18:36:29Z 2014-11-14T14:15:48Z Black Friday may get all the headlines, but Cyber Monday has become a massive part of the Holiday Shopping Season. Several retailers offer up savings on par with, or even better than they do on the day after Thanksgiving, and as such, BuyVia CEO Norman Fong offers up his suggestions to get the best deals.

 

 

Because CyberMonday is an online only sale, you will not see what is on sale until Monday. Sales often start at Midnight Eastern Time, so logon then.

Visit your favorite stores looking to see what is on sale.  Create an account with your credit card to speed checkout

Make a list of what you want to buy, along with target prices.

Visit sites that watch sales at a wide variety of stores. It is time consuming for an individual to do the same thing.

Hopefully this advise will help you survive the crazy times and get some great deal in the process.
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