Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Retro Video Review # 1: "Spawn"

One of the great things about my bedroom "entertainment centre" (TM.1997), is that for the first time in many years, I have a VCR! I actually gave about 100 videos to charity shops about a year ago, but I did keep hold of a few essential titles. Videos are so cheap these days, that I will also be picking up a few more classics as I travel along life's highway over the next few weeks and months...

So I thought, "hey, why not give each of my newly watched videos a very short review? So here goes... Spawn was one of the first comic cross-over films I can remember (after Christopher Reeve's 'Superman' and Tim Burton's 'Batman'. Pre-dating the celluloid reinvention of X Men, Spiderman, Hulk, Daredevil et al, Spawn represents a darker side of the comic-film crossover. Whilst Hellboy might flirt a little with the 'anti-hero' persona, Spawn did it first and IMHO, did it better.

To do an ultra-quick synopsis, Spawn is the story of a war between the forces of heaven and hell, with our hero recruited for the dark side. Of course the hero wasn't always a servant of Beelzebub, but was once 'special ops.' agent Al Simmons (Michael Jai White). Simmons is unfortunately betrayed by his squad's colonel and fried to a crisp. Once suitably dead charred and hideous, (plus losing his wife to trusted colleague Terry Fitzgerald (J.B. Sweeney) he is drawn into Hell's army by the Clown/Violator (John Leguizamo). For the rest of the movie our protagonist has to wrestle back the humanity of Simmons from the clutches of the ethereal Spawn, by making suitable moral choices, not letting off a deadly virus (and then wasting people in a variety of ways!)

There is also a fine performance by Martin Sheen, as duplicitous squad leader Jason Wynn, the ultimate incarnation of "the man". 100% bastard, Wynn has made a hellish pact with the Clown, who is playing him against Spawn in the hopes that he himself will get to lead Satans army. Confused? So you should be, LOL!

"Wanna see some puppies?"

As a character Spawn is way cool! He is a dark superhero with an 'ectoplasmic skeleton' which can shapeshift in a handy a variety of ways, and he has a propensity for manifesting chains, barbs and hooks from various parts of his body, which then stick into various parts of other people's bodies...

But Clown's character is where the movie is really at... Obnoxiously humorous and very disgusting, Clown stops Spawn form degenerating into a shmaltzy 'good vs. evil' morality tale (although there is a depressing amount of 'cute puppy/saving orphans' sub-plots in the movie.
Watching the film again with fresh eyes, I did wonder whether Mike Myers had used some of Clown's character traits for Fat Bastard from the Austin Powers films...

Overall a total winner. Pick yourself a VCR and some old tapes for peanuts... Video cassettes are the new vinyl!
FK Verdict 8/10

Friday, September 18, 2009

Kingdom Hearts? Meh...

Sappy? Crappy? Just a little bit too fluffy and lavendar? Pass me the sick bucket...

There have been scant 'good days' during 2009 for me so far, but one that would definitely class as a GREAT day, was the day I gave up on Kingdom Hearts forever!
I'll explain... during the summer, I cleared loads of old crap out of the house. Whilst sorting through all the rooms, I cobbled together a nice little set up for my newly replenished bedroom. It consists of a fairly big TV, a video, and a Ps2 (and therefore DVD), all of which were given to me for free at one time or another. I bought a digi-box for £20 and lo and behold I've got me a little "entertainment centre", state of the art for 2001... lol!

Mrs. K loves it too, and I can now escape to the PS2 in my bedroom, whilst Ted commands the 360 in the main living room and Martin continues his love affair with the PS3 in his festering pit. So, I found myself in my room more and more as the summer progressed, and I decided to clear my backlog of 'bought-but-un-played' PS2 games. These included Kingdom Hearts, Devil May Cry 1 & 3, Yakuza II, Scarface and Okami amongst others, in short, plenty to keep me going over the summer. Yakuza II was the first game that I played, and what an absolute joy it was, from start to finish

Now this is a man's game... LOL!

The next project needed to be something very different to Yakuza II though, (it's quite intense at times) so I decided on Kingdom Hearts - Now for some reason, all the saves on my memory card were gone, so it meant starting the game again from scratch. I got to both the Alice In Wonderland world and the Hercules world, and then just got stuck, getting continually wiped out just at the end of battles, making the whole thing tedious, frustrating and repetitious.
OOH! NICE! I want one!!!

Eventually after a few days of play I just got pissed off. I hate abandoning a game unfinished these days, so it was a big decision. I decided to try Scarface. It took me a while to get going on it, but now I cannot stop playing it. I want to complete everything in it, the overall appeal of the game is excellent. Graphics, voice acting and soundtrack are superb, and the story unfolds nicely. The selling of drugs and ownership of turf are paramount to your success as Tony Montana, and this element reminded me very much of GTA China Town Wars. There is also respect points awarded for the purchase of "exotics", luxury items, decor, cars, henchmen and works of art, whose ostentatious acquisition is a key element of boosting status. The violence is frequent, bloody and extremely enjoyable. Lock on with L1, shoot with L2, it couldn't be simpler!

In fact, you could say that Scarface, in reality a GTA clone, compares extremely favourably with it's progenitor. It's worth remembering that this game sat at the top of the gamer's retail charts in the UK, throughout the month of October in 2006, shifting over a million units in its lifespan, and eventually making it's debut in the current gen as a title for the Wii. Despite the very bad rep which movie-tie in games have, I would thoroughly recommend this title to any GTA fan and any lovers of action games in general. And to Sora, Donald,Goofy and the rest of those big shoed, spiky haired, Square Enix inspired sissies, I say what Senor Montana would say: "Hey! F**ck you Chico! Say hello to my little friend..." LOL!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Good God! Gargantuan Gaming Gridlock!

When I look back across the archives of FKWS for 2009, it is not an impressive one in terms of blogging. In fact I've just about managed to keep hanging onto the tenuous grip I have on the blogosphere in terms of my own blogs and those of my dear brothers.

That being said, it has been quite a mad year, in terms of my health and the adjustments we have had to make as a family unit. And just as I was ready to start back at work full time for the new academic year, the docs tell me I am in grave danger of shuffling off this mortal coil if I don't have a major heart operation... within the next two weeks... HOLY AORTIC CAVITIES BATMAN!

So I have decided to use my time off work as an opportunity to reconnect with this epistle and those of my blogging chums. No grand promises however, I'm far too slack for that...

So, rather than drone on for ages about my gaming past since GTA China Town Wars, I thought I'd present it in list form and perhaps expand on individual titles if I wish to later... I will however post a little link to websites for each of them in case you are intrigued. Ready? Here goes...
GTA IV (again) (360)
Lost and Damned (360)
GTA San Andreas (360)
50 Cent BOTS (PS3)
Yakuza II (PS2)
Kingdom Hearts ...meh...(PS2)
Scarface (PS2)
Sega Rally Revo (PSP)
Soul Calibur (PSP)
Stranglehold (360)

Now I've looked at it, it seems pretty short as lists go, but that is also because I've been enjoying time with my family, tidying, de-cluttering, and decorating the house, getting my eldest off to university and spending time with non-gaming friends, so I'm happy that it's short. Any way, "keep it brief" is my new mantra for posts. Tata!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


October 28th is the official release date. Hopefully I'll have added some new stuff to the blog before then. Just thought I'd dip a toe in the water...