March 2018 in Summary

March is a period of time noted to instill madness, or at least that’s what the NCAA would have you believe. I myself am not fully convinced.

Films watched in theaters:

I remarked last month that February isn’t a particularly great time of year when it comes to films. March doesn’t fare any better as evidenced by the fact that, despite being 31 days long, I only managed to see a single film within that time.

Love, Simon – This is a great coming of age film that provides an interesting take on the typical gay romance plot in that the reason the protagonist hasn’t told anyone about his secret has nothing to do him being afraid of being scorned by his community. |Indeed, when the secret is revealed, people are mostly mad at him for not telling them sooner. It also doesn’t end in tragedy, which is rare for the genre.|

Films watched at home:

Not being bound by the annoying limitation of what are commonly referred to as dump months in show business, I managed to see quite a lot of films at home. Indeed, by this point, I’ve made it a habit to see at least one per weekend. Interestingly, in March of 2018 every single film I watched was produced abroad.

Rashomon (1950) – Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon is one of those films that left such a profound impact on pop culture that even those who have never seen it know what kind of story it is. A samurai is found murdered, and the three people involved in the incident, the bandit, the samurai’s wife, and the samurai himself via a medium, give self-serving testimonies at the trial. Unlike in many parodies, however, there are several consistent details, though by the end, it’s not entirely clear which account is correct |– even when the woodcutter who discovered the body tells his own story after the trial|.

The Three Colors Trilogy (1993-1994) – Consisting of Blue, White, and Red, the namesake of acclaimed director Krzysztof Kieślowski’s final project alludes to the three colors of France’s flag. They’re intended to symbolize the three political ideals of the French republic: liberty, equality, fraternity. Blue chronicles how a woman copes with the death of her husband and child following a tragic car accident and the emotional liberty that came with it. White chronicles a man’s bizarre odyssey through France and Poland in an elaborate revenge scheme with the intent on bringing equality to his life. Red follows a part-time model as she deals with her difficult relationships, managing to form a new one with somebody she otherwise had nothing in common. They’ve also been described as an anti-tragedy, anti-comedy, and an anti-romance respectively, and watching the films with that in mind reveals exactly what those descriptions entail.

M (1931) – Fritz Lang’s M has the honor of being the oldest film I have watched as of this writing. It’s about a community and police force working in different ways to catch a serial killer who has been targeting children on the streets of Berlin. It touches upon themes that were remarkably forward-looking – indeed, I was astounded how well it has held up nearly ninety years later. |The best moment is at the end when the mobsters call the child killer reprehensible during a mock trial, he rightly calls them out on their myopic morality. It makes the case that being better than the worst of the worst doesn’t make you good.|

Games Reviewed:

This is what the average person playing this game will look like by the end.

Haze – Proving that I still did not learn my lesson when I decided to review a woefully subpar first-person shooter at the end of February (or the bottom-of-the-barrel double feature from January), I decided begin March by reviewing another woefully subpar first-person shooter. With its deconstructive plot, Haze tried to pull a Spec Ops: The Line five years before the latter had a chance to surface. In all honesty, I don’t think either are good games, though while Haze isn’t as scornful of its audience as Spec Ops: The Line, I have little doubt it’s the inferior title. The execution of Haze is so poor that it stands as something no deconstruction should ever be: markedly worse than a normal example of the genre the creators targeted. This would be like if Michael Bay criticized one of Stephen Spielberg’s films.

Shadow of the Colossus – I decided to review Shadow of the Colossus to celebrate its remake’s release. Part of what amazes me about it is that, not unlike Dragon Quest V and emotionally driven narratives, it manages to stand above roughly 90% of the games it directly or indirectly inspired. Though I wouldn’t go as far as declaring it among the absolute best of the best, it definitely has its place in history for being one of the only releases (mainstream or otherwise) to nail what a game should be when it deliberately tries to be an art piece.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney – I think Apollo Justice is one of those games in which it payed to be a latecomer. Much of the animosity fans of the game had toward this particular installment stemmed from controversial decisions regarding the previous protagonist, Phoenix Wright. Knowing that the sequels managed to alleviate these decisions, albeit at the cost of backpedaling quite a bit, granted Apollo Justice a lot of goodwill it didn’t have when it was the chronological endpoint. That said, it remains my least favorite game in the series. It’s not bad by any means, nor is it difficult to get through, but between having the single dumbest episode in the series followed up with the weakest finale the franchise has offered so far, my friend Aether was spot on when he said the series did not put its best foot forward for this post-trilogy era.

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords AdventuresFour Swords Adventures is an interesting case where I didn’t notice anything particularly untoward about an experience until I read up on how it was developed. As I researched it, I learned that the story was changed around quite a bit up until the final weeks of the project. This went a long way in explaining why the plot was something of a jumbled mess, though the fact that it’s still comprehensible is amazing. I think the reason I didn’t notice it earlier is because the game itself didn’t feel like a jumbled mess, though it’s still quite dull if you’re playing it alone. Multiplayer sessions are much more exciting, but good luck getting the necessary resources to start one.

Beyond: Two Souls – I actually got my copy of Beyond: Two Souls nearly a year prior, though I didn’t get around to finishing it until January. I also have to admit I went into the game for much of the same reason why I went into Haze and Call of Duty: Ghosts; I wanted to discuss a subpar game that would give me several good talking points. I found myself opposed to David Cage’s overall ethos as expressed in interviews, but I didn’t want to criticize his work without experiencing it firsthand.  In all honesty, I didn’t dislike it as much as I thought I would; I can even say that I liked the premise. That said, it definitely isn’t a masterfully executed title between relying on quick-time events in an era when everyone was sick of them and being a game that seems to actively hate being a game. It is a product of its time through and through.

Featured articles:

The Otaku Judge wrote an article of an anime series I should probably get into at some point: Attack on Titan. Specifically, he reviewed the show’s second season. It’s a great, succinct take on one of the decade’s most acclaimed works.

Over at AmbiGaming, Athena, having finished her playthrough of Chrono Trigger, formed the controversial opinion that it is not the greatest game ever made. I can actually agree with that, as quite a few works have surpassed it since 1995. It’s still a classic, but I can safely say that declaring it the best of the best wouldn’t do the medium’s later accomplishments justice.

Snow levels are a nice change of pace, aren’t they? pix1001 of Shoot the Rookie certainly agrees, having written an article of the best snow levels in gaming.

As horror games became popular, it didn’t take long for several annoying trends to manifest.  The Video Game Auditor chronicles five of them, making a great case as to why they need to be given a rest.

Lightning Ellen over at Lightning Ellen’s release wrote a great, varied piece on the various times across several mediums in which works succeeded or failed to live up to the hype. Thanks for the kind gesture. I’m glad you enjoyed answering those questions I proposed!

What’s next?

My next review will be Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, and as per my pattern, it will be followed up with the next Zelda installment, The Minish Cap. After reading The Shameful Narcissist’s take on Rakuen, I’ve decided to follow suit with my own review, which will follow my post on The Minish Cap. It’s the second RPG Maker game I’ve completed, continuing the trend of RPG Maker games that don’t feature any combat starting with OneShot.

Links to my reviews:

Links to my other posts:

Well, that’s all I have for this month. Have any of you been up to anything interesting lately?

27 thoughts on “March 2018 in Summary

      • Haha, I actually ended up looking for Silent Service only to get a page on the NES game. For a brief second, I thought it may have gotten a terrible reboot. But yeah, auto-correct is great except when it’s ridiculously insufferable.

        For the sake of variety, I’m always seeking out more bad/mediocre games to review, so I might end up looking into those ones you mentioned.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Thank you so much for the shout out! What a great variety of stuff you’ve been doing! Interesting reading about that Ace Attorney game, I’ve never played any of the games in the series but am very interested in trying them out so it’s good to hear opinions on the various games!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome! That was a good article you wrote. I especially think the Hebra region from Breath of the Wild was a solid choice.

      Though not all of the Ace Attorney installments have received passing grades from me, I do recommend playing every single game in the series. It has had its ups and downs over the years, but it never gets boring. I think what helps is that it offers a wholly unique experience. Others have tried to pull off something similar, but I don’t think I’ve seen them capture that certain something even the weaker Ace Attorney installments get.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the shout out. Attack on Titan is a good anime. I highly recommend checking it out. With respect to David Cage, I can’t say that I am a fan of the guy. He comes across as someone who wants to make movies, but begrudgingly has to settle for games. I think Until Dawn and Telltale make “interactive movie” style games better than Cage does.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome! I’ve always enjoyed your reviews on the various stuff you’ve watched/played. There’s a great variety to the stuff you talk about.

      I have the first season of Attack on Titan on Blu-Ray! Now I just need to set the time aside to actually watch it.

      I can’t say I’m a particularly big fan of David Cage or Quantic Dream either. To an even greater extent than Naughty Dog, they strike me as being too complacent with being a medium sized fish in a small pond, not wishing to improve their storytelling abilities in the face of what they believe to be easy competition. I also saw snippets of an interview with Mr. Cage and he honestly doesn’t strike me as someone who has much respect for the medium. I think it would be interesting to see how well he would fare if he were to direct a film.

      From what I’ve seen of Telltale’s output, they seem to realize why interactivity is so important for the medium, taking the best elements of classic adventure games rather than trying to follow the leads of films.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean. It features a minimalistic cast with a small-scale story, yet it leaves an impact on you many epics couldn’t. It definitely deserves the accolades it has received over the years. It has made me interested in checking out more of Akira Kurosawa’s films.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think it has less to do with desensitization of the masses than it does horror being a very difficult thing to pull off in any medium. What is and isn’t scary is highly subjective, meaning a film one person finds terrifying may leave another scratching their head. With games, it’s even worse because not everyone has the exact same experience. There could be an area that features a minefield of jump scares, but it’s ruined if a player somehow takes the right path to avoid them. Either way, I feel horror in games has to come about from methods creators don’t typically consider. Atmosphere is certainly important, but I think creators should also look into what would make a game terrifying specifically. This means embracing the medium’s oddities rather than push them away in favor of implementing film-specific tropes.

      Liked by 1 person

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