Greg Hunter

Late to the Rack: A Godzilla Vs. Barkley play-by-play

In Comics on January 22, 2010 at 3:04 AM

DC Comics recently announced plans to re-release 1978’s Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali, a beloved piece of pop cheese, in a new hardcover edition. With any luck, this will inspire Dark Horse Comics to reprint their major contribution to novelty comic books featuring famous athletes, Godzilla Vs. Barkley. This single-issue special was put out in December 1993, not long after Barkley was awarded the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award but before Shut Up and Jam!. The story—scripted by Eisner-winner (but not for this comic) Mike Baron—follows Matthew, a spirited preteen, as he cajoles his hero into facing certain death.

Poking fun at a comic like Godzilla Vs. Barkley might seem about as challenging as dunking on a five-foot tall hoop. Baron and his collaborators are no doubt aware of how goofy their premise is, so why bother? Well, the funniest thing about GVB is not the actual Barkley-Godzilla face-off–though Barkley does get in a couple good jabs about Godzilla’s breath. It’s the comic’s relentless depiction of Charles Barkley and Matthew as total creeps. At the end of a story about a superstar athlete, the plucky boy who inspires him, and Godzilla, Godzilla looks like the best person.

TV Review: Caprica

In Film and Television on January 16, 2010 at 9:42 PM

Esai Morales (left) and Eric Stoltz

For the duration of Ronald D. Moore’s Battlestar Galactica, two constants propelled the narrative forward: the fleet was always looking for something, being chased, or both.  The show was sometimes overstuffed, but never stagnant.  Battlestar spinoff Caprica–premering January 22 on SyFy, available now on Hulu–is set fifty-eight years before the near-obliteration of the human species that inaugurated BSG.  It promises to trace the rise of the Cylons, humanoid machines that did the chasing in BSG, and as such, Caprica is unavoidably the beginning of a story we already know the ending to.  Caprica‘s premiere hints at what might give the show momentum, but also where it might stall.

Hoggy vs. VVVVVV

In Games on January 12, 2010 at 6:54 PM

It is too much for them to imagine that a discovery as remarkable as the telephone could arise in two places at once. But five people came up with the steamboat, and nine people came up with the telescope, and, if Gray had fallen into the Grand River along with Bell, some Joe Smith somewhere would likely have come up with the telephone instead and Ma Smith would have run the show. -Malcolm Gladwell, “In the Air”

If game design is an academic subject—and, let’s stop kidding ourselves: it isn’t—then John Raptis and Terry Cavanagh are this season’s Newton and Leibniz. Both recently released platform games (Raptis’s Hoggy and Cavanagh’s VVVVVV) centered around one single mechanic: instead of being able to jump, you have the ability to flip gravity, sending your protagonist from the floor to the ceiling or vice-versa. But while their central concept is the same, the two games really couldn’t be more different in execution.

As you'll note in this level, Hoggy's gravity-flipping doesn't affect enemies or other objects.

Hoggy, released a few months ago for the iPhone and iPod Touch, is very much a puzzle-platformer, and you guys know how I feel about puzzle-platformers (hint: I love them). The game comprises some 45 levels, which are accessed by jumping into jars scattered throughout a cavernous overworld, much like more recent Mario games. Each level holds some number of fruit, and the eponymous hero’s goal is to eat all of them.

The gameplay leans much more heavily towards puzzles rather than action. Hoggy moves left and right when you tilt the device, so Raptis kindly refrains from throwing too many timing- and precision-oriented challenges at you. In particular, the protagonist will refuse to ever jump off of an edge. Sometimes this is helpful, but often it forces you to take more circuitous routes via gravity-flipping.

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