Friday, November 28, 2014

Enter: The Broad Saber



The Internet exploded today with the release of the teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams hotly anticipated sequel in the Star Wars series. Check out the trailer below.


I've been avoiding as much news on this as I possibly could, because I've heard a lot of spoiler talk is making its way around the Web, but a teaser trailer is something I could not ignore.

Seeing images of X-Wings, TIE Fighters and the Millennium Falcon doing a loopdy-loop in mid-battle had me absolutely giddy, but like everyone else the focal point of the teaser is the introduction of a dark figure with a - now - infamous new light saber.

The Broad Saber
I don't know what the Internet, as a whole, is calling this new weapon, but I'm calling it The Broad Saber, because it looks like a huge broad sword. There is a lot of complaining and joking going on that the design makes no sense and will only end up in the wielder cutting his or her hands off, but I wholly disagree.

If you think about it, a broad sword always has a huge hilt and crossguard, to block opposing blades from cutting the swordsman's hands. Wouldn't it make sense that a light saber would need a guard just like that to block other light sabers?

MINOR SPOILERS AND WILD SPECULATION TO FOLLOW

This final piece is complete conjecture on my part, but I'd like to surmise why this cloaked Jedi/Sith is using a light saber like this; I believe we're seeing Luke Skywalker. It's often quoted that in the Expanded Universe, Luke Skywalker walks the line of the Light and Dark sides of The Force. If this film continues to play with this idea, I don't think it would be out of character for Luke to brandish a red light saber, even though you would expect it to be blue or green.

Also, I think this is J.J. Abrams' and/or Lawrence Kasdan's clever idea to explain light saber battles between the Prequel Trilogy and the Original Trilogy. In the Prequel Trilogy, we see Jedi and Sith trained by the absolute best from a young age to battle with the light saber, so that explains why the fights are so much more fast and intense. In the Original Trilogy, we're seeing an ageing Obi-wan try to quickly teach Luke how to use the Jedi's weapon in a matter of days. As to why Darth Vader fights so sluggishly after we've seen Anakin Skywalker at work, you can try and fill that gap yourself. Maybe it's the new body after the events of Revenge of the Sith? I dunno. Moving on, though, one way to explain the way that Luke continues to fight in such a sluggish style would be if he were fighting as if he were using a large broad sword, which would require less flourishes and would be a much slower weapon.

Anyway, like I said this is total conjecture and just an idea I had after a few viewings of the teaser trailer. Regardless, I haven't been this excited for a movie in a long time and I don't know how I'm going to wait a whole year for Star Wars: The Force Awakens to finally hit the big screen. This certainly won't be the last Star Wars post you'll see on the blog in the next 12 months.

Hope you enjoyed,
R

EDIT - 04-12-2014: I just accidentally saw more concept art for The Force Awakens that throws my theory above out the window. I really need to stop searching for anything Star Wars related on the web. Anyway, I won't say too much and spoil anything, but I saw some early concept art of the Broad Saber and the character holding it, which clearly shows it isn't Luke Skywalker, but another character from the expanded universe. I'll hide the name here, so it'll be up to you to uncover, should you choose to: Revan

I still think the Broad Saber's origins lie in the original concept that Light Sabers were to be wielded like broadswords, but my ideas on the character holding the weapon are completely out the window.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Castlevania (1987) - Nintendo Entertainment System

Ouch! That hit me right in the nostalgia.
Note: I intended this to be out for October and Halloween, but I got sidetracked by life and it's a few days late. Sorry for all the Halloween-y references!

I've had a tradition now for quite a few years. Every October I play through Castlevania: Symphony of the Night in its entirety. Last year I kind of overdid it playing multiple speed runs of the game, so I made the decision that I wouldn't play through SOTN for October 2014.

I wanted to play something in my spare time this October, though, and I made the decision to go with something from the NES-era. Now in a shocking turn of events, you won't believe what game I decided to play... Castlevania!

I couldn't help myself! Castlevania is like the epitome of Halloween. It's a video game set in Transylvania at the turn of the 18th Century, which features bosses based on Universal monsters! The bosses include The Mummy, Frankenstein's monster, a vampire bat, Medusa, the Grim Reaper, and Igor. And most importantly, The Count himself! These are the kinds of images I thought of as a kid whenever October rolled around and the cool winds of Autumn started rustling the leaves from the trees.

One thing I didn't remember in my sentimental reminiscence is how damn hard this game is. I've been getting my ass handed to me every step of the way! To be honest, although I did play Castlevania as a kid, I actually more often played its sequel, Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest, made infamous by the Angry Video Game Nerd. As a result, I'm no damn good at Castlevania. That's half the fun, though!

It's kind of like I'm playing Castlevania for the first time. I remember a lot of things; the music, basically
The first boss is driving me... batty! Hey-ohhh!
everything from the first stage, the basics of the gameplay, but by the time I made it to the third stage everything started getting hazy. I remember fighting the bosses, but it's like I've never seen some of these stages before.

One other thing I'm enjoying is seeing all the familiar enemies from later in the series, in their original 8-bit glory. I didn't even realize how many of them have carried forward in the series over the years.

With all this good does come some bad, though. For example, the controls leave a little to be desired. They are clunky, and jumping can be a downright nightmare. When you jump in either direction, you're basically committed to that jump. There's no way to control how far you go. It is a set arc, so once you go for the jump, you better hope everything works out.

I can't do much complaining about the game, though. And honestly, it's almost 30 years old and a pretty early NES release. Everything from the games aesthetic, gameplay, and that incredible soundtrack make it an absolute must-play for any and all gamers.

It's time to wrap this boss fight up! Hey-ohhh!
Castlevania is one of my favourite video game franchises of all time, and I truly hold it near and dear to my heart. It makes me kind of sad to know that Konami has moved on with the remake of the series with Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, released in 2010, and that the franchise will almost certainly never return to its original roots. The series, however, has spawned many sequels and must have one of the highest ratios of great games in any franchise history. There are a lot of amazing Castlevania games out there to play and this game started it all.

You can pick Castlevania up on the Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and Wii Virtual Console services and physical copies certainly aren't difficult to find on eBay. Make sure to check it out, whether it's for Halloween or not!

Hope you enjoy,
R