Geek Proud, GeekOut.

Posts tagged “Assassins Creed

Top 10 – Complex Protagonists

GeekOut Top 10s

By way of varying circumstances, these characters are all uniquely complex. They are all the protagonists of their stories, letting you follow them and their journeys. They may not always fight for the right reasons, but this is precisely why we love them. They represent a mixed bag of philosophies, fighting styles, thought patterns and more. Today, we’re celebrating our Top 10 Complex Protagonists. (more…)


Top 10 – Series That Went On To Long

GeekOut Top 10s

A series that goes on too long can be a terrible thing; from an unnecessary deviation from the plot, through to repetition of the show. What may have had a promising start, ultimately, is turning into a slog, rather than an enjoyable show to continue watching. Naturally, a series isn’t even limited to film and TV, but rather all mediums.

You are all a strange bunch, as you all picked this Top 10 after last week’s Series That Ended Too Soon. So, from getting soppy at last week’s list, to us going “Oh god, why is/was that going on so long”, this week’s Top 10 Series That Went On Too Long is all thanks to you. Thanks, folks. Let’s begin the list!

(more…)


Top 10 – Video Game Films

GeekOut Top 10s

“Wow, this game’s story is so complex, it’d make a great movie!” – Ancient proverb.

Okay, so the above isn’t really an ancient proverb, but let’s be honest: You’ve heard a gamer say this at least once in your life. I know I’ve heard it a dozen times and nine times out of ten, this ends up being a bad decision. However, sometimes we get something that’s a little bit special. Video Games are interactive media, as opposed to a static media, which means the stories they tell can be varied and even of branching plots.

Whatever you think about video game movies, we’re here to discuss the Top 10 Video Game Movies. Before we get into the actual list, this means that the film must have a game as well. The film doesn’t have to be based on the game or the game doesn’t have to be based on the film, but the actual setting and world needs to be used in one capacity or the other.


Top 10

10) Ratchet and Clank

For the uninitiated, Ratchet and Clank are two very strange fellows indeed. A mechanic ‘Lombax’, a cat-like fictional race made for the purposes of the franchise, becomes friends with this adorable little robot who he names Clank. Ratchet having learned of an alien race known as the Blarg, who were going around on a ship called the deplanetiser, wanted to join a resistance group against them, but is ultimately rejected. Still keen to ensure the safety of his planet, Ratchet goes on a mission.

This was a box office flop, so even if you’re a fan of the games this could not go any higher than this. The fact of the matter is, a lot of people will barely know this film exists, but we had to make a mention to it. The film was released in 2016 and whilst critics panned it and it wasn’t profitable (indeed losing money), it was cute enough to be considered for the list. But it wasn’t just because it’s cute; The film was made of pretty well done CGI, but more importantly, it used game assets to make the film. This really was a non-playable version of the game.

9) Angry Birds Movie

Let me begin by saying that I wanted this spot to go to Max Payne! But somehow, SOMEHOW both the box office and the critics disagreed! I understand that Angry Birds is a more popular game (which is just… I mean it was done to death before the game was even released) and that Max Payne is something of a brutal game series lacking in “family friendliness” but there’s no question which was the better film.

Parents of rabid children who are allowed to get at mummy and daddy’s iPad were dragged to a puerile plot beleaguered with fart jokes and characters thinner than the premise, whose announcement was greeted by disbelief by both fans and detractors. That popularity earns it a place at #9 on our list, and is probably to blame for the Emoji movie that’s on it’s way.

8) Mortal Kombat vs Street Fighter

There can only be one true fighting game film.

Mortal Kombat is well known for having reached number one in the US box office for three weeks! We look back at this film and can barely believe it, as it’s such a cheesefest. The plot of the film basically revolves around the tournament, featuring all of your favourite characters, such as Raiden, Liu Kang and a guy who basically says he’s Johnny Cage (I don’t know what I was expecting really). It’s a tournament of goodies vs baddies; if the baddies win, Shao Khan will be able to invade and take over Earth. Marvellous!

Conversely to Mortal Kombat then, we have Street Fighter. Featuring some massive names, such as Kylie Minogue as Cammy, Jean-Claude Van Damme as Guile and Raúl Juliá (known for being Gomez Addams in the first two Addams Family films) as M. Bison. Cheese galore, character roles are switched up as Ryu and Ken become swindlers and BANG – You’ve got yourself a film that was a humongous flop in the box office; costing 35 million and earning them less than a million. Yeowch!

But, it’s all about the impact these films left on you – Which of these two packed the most punch?

7) Super Mario Bros.

An early example of video game films going bad, Super Mario Bros. was a film based on the hyper successful video game franchise of Mario. Featuring Bob Hoskins as Mario and John Leguizamo as Luigi, the two brothers find a parallel universe, where King Koopa (Bowser as we better know him) is a ruthless ruler. Upon finding out about both universes, King Koopa wants to merge them to rule over them both. The Mario Bros. team up with Princess Daisy to stop King Koopa in his tracks.

Okay, so this film was a flop, being criticised on almost every front. It still managed to win some awards and in some cases, it won our hearts. It’s somewhat of a cult classic these days, which isn’t too surprising when you think about it. But, overall, this wacky film just wasn’t the best way to adapt the plumber brothers to the big screen. A crying shame too, as the cast was actually pretty good!

6) Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Jerry Bruckheimer brought Dastan to the big screen, and while it was amongst the first big titles to be spat at for Hollywood whitewashing, Jake Gyllenhaal is rarely bad in anything. In effect Sands of Time may have ended up something more akin to a repaint of Pirates of the Caribbean, but it managed to give us the wall running, fast paced action one might expect of a platformer, an edge of the mythic, a Disney love story, and ostrich racing.

The plot is transparent and incoherent in equal measure, the action sequences are beautiful if a little over-padded to fill run time and give us stronger ties to the game, and yet the final result is a video game that got real blockbuster attention long before Assassin’s Creed or Warcraft. Ok, a forgettable blockbuster amongst a flood of bland blockbusters, but it got its own Lego set.

5) Assassin’s Creed

We’re under no illusions here, despite the massively award winning cast and the enormous franchise it built upon, Assassin’s Creed isn’t going to be winning any awards of its own. It suffers a lot of the same issues harboured by a lot of video game films, but did a lot of very positive things for the format. It played well to the core concept, took an original stance without destroying everything that came before, and made the sensible decision to include an original central character.

The enormous animus arm offered a more dramatic take on the link between host and memories, and gave us a very “video game moment” for the final escape from the Templar compound. The narrative may have been very rushed but it was fairly well executed, may have been a little over-reliant on people knowing the games, but overall it was a well presented and stylish spectacle that may very well have helped the video game blockbuster along just a little more.

4) Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

Cloud Strife, Tifa Lockhart and friends return, two years after the events of Final Fantasy VII. With Sephiroth gone, a trio have been found kidnapping children, inflicting upon them a dreadful disease. After being summoned to a meeting, Cloud and co find out that the trio were a physical manifestation of Sephiroth’s soul, which was inflicting serious damage. The crew get back together to find and stop the trio.

Stunning; truly stunning is what I’d call this. The animation was fantastic, even if the plot itself was a little bit lacking. You also need to take into account that the film was made back in 2005, which eventually got remastered in 2009. Over the years, the animation quality got more and more impressive, seriously spurring on some top quality CGI that could make even Pixar cry. Yes it’s true; we can’t rate it higher, as really this is a pretty niche game to put in the list – Especially since the film was a Direct-to-DVD release.

3) Resident Evil vs Silent Hill

Our second versus in one article; there can only be one horror video game movie!

Resident Evil

Resident Evil has been a constant success in the box office; the first film alone more than tripled the production cost. The Umbrella Corporation, with a lab underneath Racoon City, called The Hive, are doing genetic research; creating the ultimate lifeform. When a thief tries to steal the formula, the Red Queen awakens, sealing The Hive and killing everyone who was inside. In an attempt to get an antivirus to stop the now spreading gasses which were causing the dead to walk!

Resident Evil is a bit of a weird one to place in this list, if only because it’s sometimes hard to think back about the films. In 2016, the franchise of films was finally finished with a film decisively called “The Final Chapter”. Okay, see you again in a few more years then, Resident Evil production team! I jest, but honestly, the films have gone up and down in ratings over the years, but none can deny the amazing scene in Resident Evil 2 where Alice rides through a Church window on a God damn motorbike. Holy mother of God, that scene is cool!

Silent Hill

The nightmarish world of Silent Hill lends itself beautifully to the big screen, a visually haunting spectacle that directly impacts the character who appears therein. In the case of the film it becomes a town enslaved to the malice and vengeance of a little girl burned for witchcraft, the zealous monsters within trapped forever by monsters born of her worst nightmares.

Lots of monologuing makes for a hard sold plot in between visual spectacle, and the less said about Sean Bean’s accent the better, but we were presented with the classic imagery of the game franchise, and all of the monsters who dwell in its fog ridden streets. It’s even a very watchable film, positively enjoyable, but ties to the game may have gotten a little too tenuous for some fans to tolerate.

2) DOOM

Dwayne Johnson and Karl Urban head up a team of expendable jarheads played by equally expendable actors, but between them and Rosamund Pike we get some comfortably high quality performances plunged into a very FPS style narrative complete with horrifying demon monsters. The film suffers in AvP Requiem style darkness to hide the rubbery monsters, cheese levels spare us such horrors as “wooshing” torches, but spare no cliches on dialogues, crappy jump scares and unlovable one-dimensional characters, but DOOM didn’t get this far in our list by being adequate.

DOOM has been cited as a prime example of “what not to do” when adapting a video game to film, but take a moment to really consider some of the key components and you may come to appreciate what was being attempted. A group of combatants are given a quest, to sweep a compound and secure three servers for data, important information is drip fed to them gradually, giving a slow burning horror, culminating in the film going full on First-Person for Urban’s final showdown against big-boss The Demon-Rock Johnson. In many ways the content would have made for some fantastic video game moments, but did not make for a terrific film. Not bad for 2005, but at the time we saw a glimpse of what might be…

1) Warcraft

With the Fel Orcs tearing apart their homeworld, the Warlock Gul’Dan looks to expand his people’s homes into a new world – Azeroth. The Guardian of Tirisfel, Medivh, is warned by a young mage, Khadgar, about the fel energies that were appearing. The Frostwolf Clan who came with the Fel Orcs try to liaise with the humans to warn them of the dangers coming their way – Only for them to be ambushed. With such tension between Orcs and Humans, the World of Warcraft’s story has begun in a big way.

Anyone who saw this blockbuster will be filled with hope; that video game films are finally on the horizon of becoming a massive thing. Blizzard put so much love and care into this film, that honestly, you could feel like this was a love letter to their fans. This was the sort of tip of the hat we expect from Blizzard when they’re not being complacent. This is the Blizzard we love; and this film was their thank you to their fans. Hopefully, this film made a few new fans… and I can’t wait for the next film. Want to know more? Check out our full review of Warcraft. Also, let’s not forget the fact – This is the highest grossing video game movie adaptation of all time as of the time of writing.


Honourable Mentions

Now it’s over to the less popular opinions; the honourable mentions. These we felt deserved to be included, because they might not quite fit our criteria, or they were just absolutely dreadful. It’s worth noting however, these still basically count for the video game movie category we’ve defined, it’s just they kind of fall outside of the direct criteria.

Wreck-It-Ralph

It may not be entirely possible to summarise the whole of the arcade gaming world in a film so elegantly as Wreck-It-Ralph. Not only were there cameos from diehard classics like Cubert, Sonic, and Pac-Man, but we also got a heartwarming story from the perspective of a bad-guy about how much easier it is for other people to accept us when we accept ourselves.

While Ralph may not be based on any real in-game character like his friends were, there’s a rather obvious parallel to Donkey Kong, whose nemesis was a plumber rather than a builder, the game-style is very similar, and of course Donkey also went on to be a heroic character himself. Even without that transparent homage we’d be doing this list a disservice by omitting this one.

Pokemon Movie

Relegated to the honourable mentions section because – let’s be honest with ourselves here – the Pokemon film is more directly linked to the supporting anime series, a tie-in to a tie-in if you will. We’d still be incredibly callous to leave it out. In this standalone story we follow the origins of Mewtwo, derived from the genetics of Mew. In an unsurprising Mary Shelley twist, creation turns on creator, and a civil war of sorts ensues.

Unapologetically heartbreaking, the film sets out to give us a lesson of unity and togetherness as Mewtwo comes to realise that he has become everything he despised in his master, and that that can be genuine love between Man and Mon. If only Ultron could have seen Pikachu trying to wake up Ash, I bet his vibranium heart would have melted.

A Dishonourable Mention

Just one, despite a dearth of bad films, many of which receiving bigger praise than they deserve here, I must spontaneously bring to bear the one name that all will hold aloft as the curse wrought upon the marriage of video game and film industries, and the only director whose name I curse more highly than Zack Snyder. Mercifully retired, but a blemish that shall linger, courtesy of Bloodrayne, In the Name of the King, and Alone in the Dark. Many of his films were somehow crowdfunded, meaning people wanted to see them happen!

If you gave money to Uwe Bol, you are an accessory to Uwe Bol. Let us say no more.


That’s it, your time is up and it’s now game over! Time for us to count the scores for the potential list for next week, so click on the one you most want to see listed and we’ll be sure to throw together another high quality article… At least, we’ll push our articles through our Quality Assurance guys. What? There’s a bug in our articles? NOOO!

We’ve seen enough video game movies to last a lifetime, however we hope that with the recent rise in quality of video game movies, we start to see the medium taken even more seriously. Perhaps video games will be the next comic movies? Or perhaps not. What did you make of our list? Did the best ones get in? Did we forget any really big video game movie? Is our order right? As always, let us know what you thought in the comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.

 


Playing Chaotic Good

Meet the Robin Hood of the D&D moral alignment system. Here we find the vigilantes, the renegades, and the rebels willing to stand up for what’s right in a world gone tragically wrong, and most importantly the heroes of freedom. For those who swing towards chaos on the side of goodness and the rights of the people the call to heroism comes when tyrants, slavers and oppressors threaten the people and their ability to live their lives in peace and quiet, without the demands of others to intrude. Sticking up for the little guy has the potential to lead people into trouble, and a tendency to run afoul of the law, but that’s all part of the fun for a CG character.

It’s one of the easiest alignments to play, but it’s worth looking into how to play Chaotic Good well. (more…)


Games And Movies – An Unhappy Marriage

We know it all, we’ve seen it all happen over the last few years so I’ll skip the spiel and get into the heart of the matter. It fails in both directions:

Licensed Titles

Now the problem here is a matter of timing. Licensed titles are designed to be released shortly before the film upon which they’re based, but because the projects start roughly when the production of the film is well under way it cuts deeply into the production time, leaving us with rushed messes filled with glitches and lacking any kind of innovation as the development team try their hardest to cobble together something that will roughly match the feel of the film or the general themes.

ts

And that’s the other side of the problem. It’s very difficult to take a fixed and flowing narrative and wedge in some interactivity. It’s easier to take the characters and the world that they occupy and put them into a more game-oriented story than it is to try taking a story and gamifying it. For example, American McGee’s Alice took the characters from Lewis Carroll’s surrealist story and made a modern day classic. Telltale’s Walking Dead and Game of Thrones series have both taken the worlds and themes and created original adventures within them.

Gaming Films

Uwe Bol may be bringing down the standards, but he’s really only adding to a far larger problem. Paul W.S. Anderson too, but it’s not exactly his fault.

Half of the problem is the exact reverse of the licensed game issue. The appeal of games is the interactivity, and the fact that a game can reveal a great deal more through the hours of gameplay than it can in those periods of time dedicated to story-telling. Much like a book adaptation, much of a game’s content is condensed or removed altogether to allow for time constraints, leaving fans unfulfilled. Doom and Max Payne appear to have suffered most heavily under this issue, both films demonstrated at the very least a respectable attempt at bring their games to big screen, but felt clumsy and lacking (right up until Carl Urban’s FPS scene in Doom).

mortal-kombat-still

Worse is the all-to-common issue of the writers, directors and producers not fully understanding the title that they’re working with. Boll may be a travesty of a director but at least he seems to enjoy games, whereas other attempts seem to be cobbling together plot from cutscenes or simply joining dots on what they’ve been told about it.

Hope

At least one film has been made that came close to a true representation of the game upon which it was based: Silent Hill. All the key elements were there, the fog, the horror, the themes, even the story came very close, but even that had it’s critical flaw. Where the games created nightmares from the innermost corruption of the main character, the film constructed a narrative where the young girl had created a private hell for those who had condemned her, sending away a better part of herself to drag someone new in so that the audience had someone to follow. Even then, Silent Hill was a good film, and not a horrendous sequel either.

And so to the future! Warcraft has a film incoming, and while we’ve seen promising trailers let us down in the past (looking at you Agent 47) we may yet have the beginnings of a revolution on our hands. It took a long time for the comic book hero to see proper representation on the silver screen, and games have a similarly long burn to get through, trial and error, lots of error, until finally we begin to strike gold.

Sidenote, I think Assassin’s Creed has potential to make a good film, but a lot of other games have had potential and failed hideously. There are some thing Michael Fassbender just can’t fix, and the lousy relationship between video games and films will take more than a couple of successes.


Running With An Idea

There’s a difference between flogging an intellectual property until everyone hates it, and having an idea that just keeps getting bigger until you can’t slow down.

Mario

The obvious example of the former, with each successive console supporting several new Mario titles in some form or another, either as the featured attraction or simply making a celebrity appearance such as in Smash Bros. or randomly showing his face in a Legend of Zelda game. The original format is spectacular, and it’s great that’s it’s maintained such a legacy, but there’s no denying that the squat italian is overstaying his welcome a little. Ever notice that you hardly ever see anything with Mickey Mouse as the main character these days? Disney knows when to retire a character better than Nintendo do.

WGCfE

Mario has had some variety, and is quick to pick up the best adaptions the platforming genre picks up as time goes on (where Sonic has rather failed), so it’s not to say that he’s grown stale over the years. He’s become the staple, the go-to, and while Nintedo’s catalogue grows ever wider there’s no denying that between the quantity, fluctuating quality, and exposure of Mario that they’re hitting a certain infuriating saturation point.

But they’ll keep Mario alive while the name and sexy, sexy moustache are still bringing in the money. While it’s nice that a new generation also get to experience the joys of stomping mushrooms and dragon-turtles to death, they’ll also get to experience getting sick of it like the rest of us…

… Me.


 

Let me hold that up against another, more recent IP that’s seems to have overrun the market.

Assassin’s Creed

Maybe this is a huge cash-cow for Ubisoft, but at its core you can practically hear the echoes of the original conversation. Constantly reincarnating as an assassin working for the same order throughout history, appearing in every major culture as a pivotal figure in the ongoing war between the Templar and the Creed, a storyline that spans lifetimes, just the thought of that could spawn so many ideas, most of which you’d never be able to tie to a single narrative arc.

6973334-assassins-creed-evolution

The story of Desmond Miles may be long over, but the nature of the idea still has a lot to offer. Taking the same raw concept and plunging it into the greatest civilizations of the world at their height creates stories almost organically, even if at times certain historical figures are shoehorned into place. With the recent addition of the Chronicles series that detail the stories of the lesser players in the many lives of the serial assassin, it’s given the creators chance to really delve deeper into that episodic narrative that their big-budget features wouldn’t normally allow.

And maybe some of us are sick of seeing it, to be honest the gameplay never gripped me but the concept I enjoy thoroughly. There are places where the zeal of the publisher shines through and the rushed titles suffer a little much like poor old Mario, but there’s still places where genuine warmth and affection for the core design and idea still resonates.


 

I’m not saying there’s not still love in the world for the old and overdone titles, least of all in the studios creating the games in question. Pokémon and Zelda both show profound love for the basic concept in (almost) every title. By comparison the Sims is eternally run out of the box like it’s fresh and new, and it’s just the same thing with a fresh coat of mesh, the title is a boundless well for random DLC concepts.

Love for a title shines through no matter how old that title becomes, and an idea that sparks in the head of one person that catches real fire can spread to other people, and it’s a beautiful thing to see. I’m sure most of you have had that one idea that doesn’t let you go until you’ve seen it to its eventual conclusion – or burn out, and know the thrills it can bring to see those ideas come to life. Now imagine you have a Triple-A budget behind that idea.

What a life that must be.


Top 10 Heroes We Hate!

And so we bring the trilogy to a conclusion! Misunderstood villains, anti-heroes and finally…

Caped crusaders and righteous paladins leaping to save the day to the tune of victorious fanfares and screaming groupies, then they leap from the fray, utterly unscathed and twinkling everywhere a hero should twinkle. Doesn’t it make you sick?

Some do-gooders do so much good you start to wonder. Nobody’s perfect, so what’s wrong with them that they aren’t telling us. Or maybe their flaw is so obvious and insipid that no matter how many lives they save we just can’t bring ourselves to let them off the hook.

Welcome, you judgemental band of thugs, to our Top 10 hateful heroes!

Top10 Banner


Top 10

10) Desmond Miles – Assassins Creed

desmond_miles_wallpaper-other

Axed after only three of the… where are we now, seven games (not including the smaller titles). Alright so in his third appearance he was actually quite interesting, but the only purpose he’d served until then was to be the reason for telling the stories of assassins throughout history. Short sections of the game made to feel torturously long by the dramatic loss of action and sudden upswing in long dialogue in which your role is to get off one bed, go to another, and back again in the morning.

Desmond Miles may not be utterly loathsome in himself, but there’s no denying that his participation in the narrative seriously breaks up the flow of the action. For the bulk of the series he’s taken a back seat, his story being complete, and him being dead and whatnot. His DNA strand continues with a little narration every now and again to remind you why the later games are better.

9) Ash Ketchum – Pokemon

Ash_XY

Get this: The opening theme to the original series of the Pokemon anime went and said words like “I wanna be the very best, like no-one ever was.” Then why, pray tell, do we have Ash Ketchum? He’s nowhere near the very best, in fact, he’s amongst the very worst in the whole of the Pokemon universe. Many people feel this way about him, that he wasn’t exactly the winning Pokemon Master that we wanted to see in our Pokemon anime.

In the manga, we had Red, who legitimately was a brilliant trainer. So then to be given Ash instead of Red, it feels like something of an insult. He might want to be the very best, but he’s only ever won one Pokemon League and that wasn’t even a main one. Bah, my character in Pokemon Black and White was a better trainer than him!

Also he hasn’t aged.

8) Captain Amazing – Mystery Men

The great and mighty guardian of Champion City, swooping in to save the day whenever it’s in peril and he’ll get good publicity out of it, for himself and his many, many… many sponsors. How else could he afford all of the arms, armour and the cool jetpack that just keep him so very amazing? I mean, he’s good friends with billionaire philanthropist Lance Hunt, sure, but Lance has his own life to lead, doing… come back to that one.

Anyway, this is the man who intentionally allowed super-villain Casanova Frankenstein back on the streets in order to raise his public profile; apparently the multi-storey statue wasn’t cutting it any more. It may be a little bit of a cheat, including the hero we’re supposed to hate on this list, but Mystery Men does such a good job of setting up this loathsome little fall-guy that it really makes you really think hard about the heroes you blindly accept as “the good guys”.

7) Wrathion – WoW

Wrathion

I was recently introduced to this character having dropped out of World of Warcraft… And I can’t find a single redeeming feature about him. He’s childish, he’s brash, he’s arrogant and he’s a god damned child hero. This is never a good mix. The only plausibly redeeming factor he has, is he may one day grow up… And the world (of Warcraft) will rejoice in unison at this little scamp when he stops being such a poor, typical character.

It’s all well and good wanting to draw in younger audiences, which this guy will easily do. He’s likable in that you know he means well but does so in arrogant ways. It caters well to a younger, more rebellious audience. But to the rest of us, he’s just a spoilt brat of a kid who doesn’t actually understand the direness of the situation the world is in. Urgh.

6) Alice – Resident Evil Films

alice_resident_evil-396701

“Alice? Who’s that?” says the fan of the Resident Evil game series who rightfully avoided the films, “OH!” They continue, “You mean that character who doesn’t exist in the games, has no personality, and was basically just an excuse for Paul W.S. Anderson to wiggle his wife into six films? Sure, I know Alice.” This is followed by a look of withering sarcasm.

Milla Jovovich is a more capable actress than the Resident Evil series would have you believe, and clearly she’s enjoying the whole mutant/zombie slaying rush that the role of the mysterious and ~cough~ enigmatic Alice offers. But while it’s always more fun to watch an actor in a role that they like than it is to watch an actor bored blind, there comes a time when ego stroking and self-aggrandizing gets seriously dull. And yet somehow they keep making money! At least the next one’s called “The Final Chapter”

5) Mario – Nintendo

MarioSMBW

Hear us out here. We all love Mario, this is undeniable is it? However he really is an utterly contemptible little man, because there’s another man in this equation… And several peaceful individuals are also ruined by his constant presence and his corny catchphrases. Let’s take the obvious route first and talk about his younger brother, Luigi. Mario is the poster boy of Nintendo: Super Mario Bros, Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine; you get the point. What does Luigi get? An admittedly cool vacuum cleaner, but it’s still a vacuum none-the-less. Mario gets to chase the princess whilst Luigi gets to be haunted by ghosts.

So even if his brother doesn’t like him, what about all of the Goombas he’s running around and stomping on? Don’t forget all those shrooms he’s taking. Mario, you’re one pitiful, nasty little slime ball of a plumber and I hope you DO wear a tie (bonus points to anyone who gets this reference. Comment on the reference below.)

4) Scott Summers – X-Men

2652906-avx_zone_011

So on the list of loathsome slimes with superpowers, introducing the guy who cheated on his telepathic wife with another telepath! Really smart move there Cyclops. The ability to shoot force blasts out of your eyes does not make you useful and the shades make you look like a douchey frat-boy. And someone put this idiot in charge of a school? Nope. He vapourized former head of the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters, Charles Xavier.

Officially the lamest of the entire Summers bloodline, which includes Cable, Havok, Vulcan and the power-mimic Hope Summers. Poster-boy for the X-Men and devoted pupil to Xavier, Scott may very well have recruited hundreds of kids to the sanctuary of the school and the safety he never had as a child. He then proceeded to turn the place into a super-soap-opera.

3) Shinji Ikari – Neon Genesis Evangelion

Eva027

Whine and whine, this is all this little boy does… But the thing is, we hate him for it. He’s not a compelling character and the worst part of all of this is that we don’t hate him just because he whines. We hate him because he is what we all hate about ourselves.

Think about it. If you’ve been faced with perils of the entire universe, that only you in your limited knowledge of this ship that no one else can control. So pray tell, why is it that the first thing you think isn’t “I must stop the baddies” but more “I must curl into foetal position and cry this nightmare away”? The reason we hate Shinji so damn much isn’t because he’s whiny, or pathetic or even weak… But he’s an accurate representation of the vast majority of humanity in a nutshell. Many of us, even the proudest, will not find the inner strength to save whole worlds.

Still, if you’re up for reading something NSFW, check out this classic post of Shini vs A Wet Tissue by the famous Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Crosshaw of The Escapist fame.

2) Superman – DC

What? How did this happen? Number 2?

586_superman-comic-1-560x754

Yes, DC’s Swiss Army Super Hero may be one of the most irritating retcon engines in comic book history with a battery of powers so complete that the possibility of him losing in any situation seem as laughable as wearing your pants on the outside (underpants for our American readers). He’s not without his weaknesses of course, not just the shiny green rocks that are so rare that only billionaires and people who really want it can find it. He’s also quite vulnerable to magic and a lack of vitamin D.

He died once y’know! Just popped right back up again. That’s the top of a list of disappointments: glasses as a disguise, cape, powers “because aliens I guess”. It’s so bad it’s practically a meme! Most of us are still waiting on a decent reboot but with Zack Snyder at the helm that’s not likely to happen for another decade or so.  So how did the All-American-Boyscout get beaten to the number one slot?

1) Bella Swan – Twilight

Here is where I deeply crack my knuckles.

I have read excerpts, wikis and summaries of Twilight, its’ sequels and unauthorised spin-off, and that’s about the limit of investiture I’m willing to put into it. I’m prepared to give the quality of the writing, the weaving narrative, the supporting cast of characters (who I hear are actually fairly interesting) the benefit of the doubt. But I am utterly stymied by the sparkly vampires, weirdly predatory relationship behaviour, and above it all the unabashed, sickening and utterly characterless Mary-Sue “protagonist” Bella Swan.

tumblr_lni6u4je6k1qj7icro1_500

Loathsome? Certainly, but how do we derive hero? It’s the name we often falsely ascribe to those people around whom the story revolves, and Myers – sorry – Swan does nothing heroic to speak of. She does obtain an array of powers after her transformation into a vampire, but here’s the interesting thing: As a mortal she’s noted to be clumsy and a bad liar, afterwards she becomes uncommonly agile even for a vampire, and she also has the ability to shield herself from psychic powers, and therefore hide her thoughts.

Thus completing the role of blank canvas that any girl can pretend is really her, and super mysterious guys with rippling everything will love them. Lesson for everyone, male or female: Interesting is attractive, cardboard cutouts are not.


Honourable Mentions

We have never meant the word “Honourable” less. You can leap to the rescue as much as you like, you can’t win ’em all, you’re not winning us, and you didn’t even win a spot on the list! You’re just sad.

Here’s a couple of schmucks we decided to throw a bone to. You’re welcome.

Anakin Skywalker – Star Wars

Anakin_Skywalker_RotS

We once did Top 10 Sci-Fi Cliches. When we did that article, we listed Child Geniuses as one of the Sci-Fi Cliches that we feel is done to death and is just not fun. So Anakin fits this mould perfectly and is one of the most cookie cutter characters created. Honestly, if you watch Episode 1, he’s far too young to be doing anything of the sorts that he does… But hey, he brought in a young audience right..?

Is that really such a good thing, though? I mean apparently, this little kid built C-3P0!? Sure, he later on becomes a cool character, in the name of being a brilliant bad guy. However the young Anakin in Phantom Menace is an inexcusable mess.

Romeo

Romeo_and_juliet_brown

Romeo, o Romeo, where for art thou, Romeo?

This dude is really just out there man. I mean, the whole tragedy could have been avoided if he wasn’t such a crazy guy who likely had attachment issues. Honestly, think about the story for a minute and you’ll come to realise that if he had literally waited for a bit and mourned his “loss”, then not all would have been lost. But then all was lost, because he goes ahead and offs himself. Don’t question why I gave such a massive spoiler there, this is Romeo and Juliet, everyone knows the “spoiler”.

Rocks Fall, Everybody Dies. Only this time, Juliet falls, Romeo (then Juliet) dies!


 

Ok, we’re done hating for today. Next week, no super heroism! Maybe super-heroism, but we’ll try and cut down, we promise. In order to remain on your good-side, and keep ourselves off this very list – or worse, the honourable mentions – get to voting for our next Top 10!

Didn’t see your most hated hero? Disagree with our ordering? Disagree with us in general? Or maybe you just want to chat? That’s ok, we’re here for you buddy, take a seat, I’ll get the kettle on. Join the discussion in the comments down below, and on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.


Cosplayer Highlight – Andy Valentine

Cosplayer Highlight

Welcome back once more ladies and gents to another week of Cosplayer Highlight.

We’re slowly coming towards an end of this series *Audible groan of sadness from everyone*. Yes, it’s sad I know. But don’t worry – We’ve got another 5 great interviews including todays one which is with the awesome Andy Valentine. We’ll then be wrapping up the series at Alcon where we’ll grab a bunch of cosplayers and do a podcast. Oh yes, we will! If you’re coming to Alcon, drop me an e-mail at GeekOutSW@gmail.com and we’ll get you involved! Otherwise, I might just randomly run up to people and get them involved in some way!

Andy has been taking commissions for a while now and has been gaining more and more popularity, even being asked to be a guest for some conventions. He sells props and costumes via his store which is powered by Etsy. Genuinely an interested and interesting individual who I noticed is attending Alcon, Andy took the time to sit down and have an interview with us. Let’s see what he has to offer!


Interview with the Cosplayer – Andy Valentine

 

Q: Welcome to GeekOut South-West! In case our readers are unaware who you are, could you give us an introduction of yourself?

A: Hey. I’m Andy Valentine of Valentine Cosplay. I’m obviously a cosplayer, but also a prop and costume maker based out of Bristol.

 

Q: I’d first like to thank you – I’ve known about your cosplays since I started cosplaying (last year) and I find them incredible. When did it all start for you? What were the driving factors behind your first costume?

A: Actually not all that long ago in the scheme of things. I went to my first con mid 2013 so have only really been on the circuit for a little over a year. My first cosplay was a version of Ezio from Assassin’s Creed 2 which I’d just replayed in the weeks leading up to it and re-discovered a love for the character. At the time, I’d never used a sewing machine, never hammered, cut, or finished leather, never made foam armour; none of the things I needed to do in order to construct the outfit, so it was a major learning curve and threw me right in at the deep end.

 

Q: How proud were you of your Ezio costume, have you modified it since and would you do anything more on it?

A: Initially, not proud at all. When I finished the build, I stood back and looked at it, then looked at the skills I’d picked up along the way, and decided that I could definitely make it better, so I started the whole thing again. By the time I got to the end of version two, I was proud with what I’d done. The first time I put it all on and looked in a mirror I thought “Damn, I can’t believe this was a pile of fabric a few weeks ago”. I still love that feeling.

Since the con, I’ve sold that outfit, so there won’t be anything more done to it. Not by me anyway. Version one I still wear out sometimes though. I installed EL wire around the trim of the outer tunic so that it glows at night and wore it to BrisFest last year. That thing got a lot of love amongst the drunks.

 

Q: Your Facebook page shows just how professionally and seriously you take cosplaying and it’s a real delight to read through. We recently did an article on the upcoming calendar: Men vs Cosplay. When did you decide you wanted to take that next step in your costume work? Was the step from hobbyist to a more professional level tricky?

A: To be honest, I still entirely consider myself a hobbyist, albeit a hobbyist that is getting some amazing opportunities. Being ‘successful’ within the community isn’t all that difficult I find. Obviously, being able to construct quality cosplays is a must, but also it’s an attitude thing. If you’re a decent human being and other people like you, they’ll share your stuff and you’ll get more exposure. If the professional photographers like you, they’ll want to photograph you in your outfits, meaning the quality of the photos taken of you increases, and thus the cycle of increased sharing begins again. This wheel keeps turning and eventually the right person will see your stuff and want to work with you. This is how I got asked to be in the Men vs Cosplay calendar. The organiser saw a photo of mine taken by the very reputable photographer Lucas from Super Cosplay Guys / Girls and invited me to be a part of it, so obviously I jumped at the chance. That’s the other tip: make yourself available.

One of Andys WIPs at the moment

 

Q: We ask this question of all of the cosplayers who do interviews with us here on GeekOut South-West: What costumes have you done; which were your proudest and least favourites?

A: Ok… so, in chronological order:

Ezio – Assassin’s Creed 2
Commander Shepard – Mass Effect 2
NCR Veteran – Fallout New Vegas
Vaas – Far Cry 3
Prince of Persia – Warrior Within
The Lone Wanderer – Fallout 3
Kurt Cobain – Nirvana
Tom Raider (Rule 63 Lara Croft) – Tomb Raider
“Dick in a Box” – Lonely Island Music Video

Andy as Tom Raider (Rule 63 for those who don’t know is for any fictional character of any gender, you will be able to find the same character as the opposite gender).

Fortunately I can still remember them all considering it’s only been a year. What a fun year it’s been though!

My favourite one to date was the Fallout Lone Wanderer. I tried to take that outfit to as “other level” as I could and had tonnes of little details in it, including a glowing Nuka Cola Quantum, my business cards were in a Mentats tin, full leather armour, screen accurate 10mm Pistol, and a massive AER-9 Laser Rifle. I had a bunch of photoshoots with some amazing photographers in that attire and was so overwhelmed by the results. The attention it got on convention floors was unbelievable too. Definitely a franchise I intend to revisit, costume wise.

Worst moment was probably Prince of Persia. The armour and whatnot was fine, but I made some bad fabric choices for the trousers and wrap, as well as using a poor quality wig, and now looking back at it I can’t help but see the issues. We all learn from out mistakes though, so onwards and upwards from there.

Ooh, very er… glow-y! Thanks to this Instructable for this picture!

 

Q: I’ve noticed you are extremely engaged with all of your fans, how often do you get approached by newer cosplayers who are looking for advice and inspiration to move to that next level?

A: Roughly three or four times a day. I get a lot of messages on my page from people wanting advice or tips, or just wanting me to plug their new page (not something I do, but that’s a side point). I think engagement with your followers is key. Heck, I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for the love and support I get from those guys, so I owe them everything. That’s why I like to give back whenever I can, and I’m always happy to help someone out if I can.

Snake? SNAKE!? — I’m not finishing this joke.

 

Q: In this interview so far, we’ve discussed your costumes and your geekdoms. We know about the costumes you’ve made but the next question we have revolves around the convention scene. Which have you attended? Do you think the convention scene is important for cosplayers and why?

A: As far as conventions go, I go to pretty much as many as I can afford, though that’s getting easier now that I’m being approached to go as a guest more often. I’ve been to loads all up and down the UK: too many to list really. I’ve haven’t really got any preference of the kind of event, so like to try and explore as many different ones as I can.

Not only is it important for a cosplayer to get “out there” and have your work seen, but they’re a hell of a lot of fun. I get to spend a weekend surrounded by awesome people who like the same stuff that I do, chilling out, having a few drinks and laughs, meeting my followers, and admiring everyone else’s cosplays. If nothing else, you can pick up loads of inspiration from what other people have made too.

 

Q: When the costume is off, what are you like as a person? Do you feel any different when you are wearing a costume?

A: I’m wouldn’t say I’m a different person really. Maybe a tad milder when I’m at home, but not a lot. If I’m not strutting around in cosplay, I’m typically making it, or planning it, or exploring one of the geekdoms that lead me to it. Also, I flutter between feelings of finding it weird how often I get recognised as a con with strangers coming up to me who know me, through to finding it odd that people don’t recognise me in my regular life (and why would they, really?). It’s like I’m living two lives sometimes, but I quite like that.

 

Q: We love to celebrate Geekdoms of all kinds and we like to get together and discuss. Stepping away from cosplay for a moment then: What other geeky hobbies do you have? Would you say it’s fairly common amongst fellow cosplayers?

A: 100%. At the end of the day, something lead us all down this path, and I don’t think it matters what it was, just that we all got here. Personally, outside of cosplay, I also LARP, although I’m super new to that and still finding my place in the world there, but it’s super fun and certainly something I’m looking forward to exploring more. I’m a big gaming fan too – hence so many of my cosplays being based on computer game characters. I play a lot of PlayStation and Xbox online with my friends and love collaborative gameplay. Other than that, I’m a bit of a sci-fi nerd. I’m actually working on a full sleeve tattoo of all the Star Wars bounty hunters at the moment. That tells you quite a lot about me really. If it’s got Boba Fett on it, I want it.

 

Q: Thank you for your time with us so far. This is the last question but please: Humour us here. This week, you are our “Super Sensei Guru” and a cosplayer wants to take the next step in making costumes and props, they also want to start working with more complex materials. They’re unsure how to get started and they don’t have much space. How important is it to have your own space and tools to work with more complex materials?

A: Unfortunately, it can often be pretty vital. Wood especially. Take it from someone who set up his first workshop in his spare room: sawdust gets everywhere. If you have a small amount of outdoor space it’s ideal. I tend to do my woodwork in the garden now that the weather is better, and it means the house stays in a much better shape. As for tools, you can get off the ground with pretty inexpensive equipment. I always recommend starting with any old jigsaw and mouse hand sander (about £20 a time) but then the best dremel (official Dremel tools) that you can afford, as that is the most used item in my toolbox by a mile. I use a Dremel 3000 (which are still only about £45) with an extension shaft and it’s amazing for creating smooth curves in wood, finishing foam, trimming clay, cutting metal; just everything that any budding cosplayer and prop maker might need. The good ones come with long warrantees too, which trust me, you’ll be thankful for.

Once you have your tools, get on YouTube. There is such a wealth of information on that site that it’s really easy to find out how to do things. That’s pretty much how I learnt most of what I know now. That plus trial and error. Don’t be afraid to mess something up nine times, as the tenth time you may well nail it. Practice, practice, practice and you’ll get there eventually.

 


I’d like to extend my thanks to Andy Valentine for taking his time to have this interview with us today.

Getting to that “next stage” is something that not every cosplayer would want to do. For me, I’d like to get to the point where all of my costumes look relatively professional – But not necessarily to the stage where I’d be taken from place to place. I love the interaction between fans – Even the interaction between the people and the costumes. Ultimately, it’s down to what you want to get out of cosplay; be it a chance to mingle or a chance to be seen. It’s always amazing to think that with a costume on, you’re not just a face in the crowd, but instead a distinguishable character.

An interesting point Andy raised in the above interview was the power of YouTube for information. Everything I’ve done has been from watching YouTube, including knowing what kind of materials to get. Then there’s the case of using the correct tools for the job. Thanks to this interview I went out and got myself a “wannabe Dremel” after having looked it all up. Money gets tight, so you never know – Perhaps having a wannabe Dremel (which cost me a mere £20) will then lead to me getting an actual Dremel. I also finally got myself something a bit more than a single surgical knife because it got quite tiresome cutting foam and fabrics with that tiny little thing!

Join us again next week for another awesome Cosplayer Highlight, where we’re rejoined by a lovely member of the Anime League forums.