Friday, April 26, 2013



    When I saw Injustice Gods Among Us available for free on the iPad, I couldn’t resist. It’s one of the hottest games out this season, and I’m always up for a good comic book-based fighting game. I get to punch people? As a superhero/villain? Sign me up. At best, it will be almost as good as the home console version. At worst, it’ll be a cheesy knock-off, littered with pay-to-play content that I‘ll just avoid like Kryptonite. I don’t have instant access to a home console so for me, this was too good to pass up. It makes me want to try the home console version!
A short tutorial explains the basics of combat. To my surprise, it isn’t really turn-based combat; but neither is it exactly real-time. Rather there seems to be an amount of time attacks can take. The rest depends on tap speed and swipes for “hard” attacks. The most difficult for me is to block, which requires pressing two fingers down quickly on the iPad. Typically, I solve this by turning the iPad more towards me so that my two fingers register, instead of my two fingernails. But, as reaction time is a factor, it’s still an issue, but I’m learning ways around it. I guess you could say, one advantage of the iPad version is that the characters are usually in fixed positions, unless knocked down or performing a superpower. This, for me, is advantage; I don’t worry about moving AND attacking. But, it is obviously a limitation of the iPad game, and I’d like to see the “real game.”

   Thus, it’s not really a fighting game, but then few iPad games are. It’s more like a fighting game/role-playing game, where you buy equipment, and level up to improve stats, attacks, and superpowers. The superpowers are fun to watch! And you unlock more (Up to three.) as you level up. Mercifully, characters can be gained by winning fights, but it’s a bummer that all characters aren’t readily available. Unless…guess what? You pay or get in-game points! No thanks, I‘ll wait to get Batman and Superman; even though that’s HALF the reasons anyone will GET the game. So, finding out my starting roster was Green Arrow, Green Lantern, and Solomon Grundy…yeah, I was a little mad. But, my faith in the game was renewed when I unlocked Catwoman after 2 fights. I never claimed that this was better than the actual game; I just wanted to see the superpowers and the fights!

   The superpowers are activated by tapping the superpower bar once you’ve dealt enough damage and it fills up. Now, here’s where some accessibility issues come in for me. Obviously, I’ve got to do swipes for hard attacks, but that’s not too difficult, although probably any other game I would’ve been more harsh on, but I just love a good fighting game/comic book throw-down. I can usually get away with just tapping as fast as I can, and then attempting a swipe at the end, for a knockdown blow. The superpowers on the other hand require different motions to deal more damage; but they typically do a lot of damage regardless if you increase the damage with the motions or not; plus, they’re fun to watch, and add some strategy to the game as to when to use them. There’s a tag-team system (three heroes each fight) where you tap on a character to bring him/her in. And idle heroes heal, too, when not fighting…so it adds a little more accessibility, in that if things get tough, just bring in the “Tank”; or use a superpower for a knockdown and tag out.

     For example, two of my favorites right now are Green Lantern and Catwoman. Lantern’s “Turbine Engine” superpower (He rams an engine of green ring energy into the opponents face!) increases damage with rapid taps. Catwoman’s cat claws increase damage with vertical and horizontal swipes. Of the characters I have, Green Arrow’s “Electric Arrow” is probably the easiest, and usually does about 53 damage regardless. When activated, a cross-hair appears, and it just says, “Tap to shoot”. Well, okay then! I can do that. The hardest and most powerful thus far is my Solomon Grundy, but, he’s obviously a “Tank”. Catwoman is DPS. I’ve won fights just by tapping really fast with the cat claws. Each fighter has their own strategies, but if you play RPGs…it’s easy enough to handle.

     Overall, my biggest letdown is that you have to unlock characters/skills with points and (No thank you.) real money. I’ve been imagining these fights forever in my head, as I imagine most others have. My fantasy battles though didn’t exactly include Solomon Grundy vs. Nightwing. I wanted to see Superman vs. Batman, like everyone else! But, the game is so engaging to me, that I’m willing to get through it all, and unlock them. I’d be more harsh on the game’s block mechanism, if I didn’t like seeing the fights so much. My own bias, but there you go! I’m going to have some great DIY physical therapy with the game’s fast-paced battles. There are a few dexterity issues such as superpower moves, but I’ll learn quickly, or else just outsmart the iPad and hold it at different angles. That said, I really like the game, but would prefer it had more heroes and more fighting-game elements than RPG elements. Injustice, indeed!

    In conclusion, I’m mostly satisfied with the game because I get to see comic book fights. But, I’d rather not spend points and money for equipment, skills, and characters. (Though I don’t know if that also applies to the home console versions.) In addition, I’ve developed my own strategies around some iPad accessibility issues; and I WANT to master them! Which is saying a lot. But, in my opinion, one of the advantages of a 100% fighting game is being able to dive right in and fight, even if you just button mash. Some say cheap, I say accessible! So, in the end, it’s a great game visually, with some dexterity issues, and some iPad limitations. Some of these (like fixed fighting positions.) are good; others (like blocking and supermoves.) are difficult, and still others (like pay-to-play content.) are unforgivably unjust!

   But, I can learn ways around the difficult things. In fact, I want to. It’s a small obstacle for having this great little comic book fight simulator in my hand. I just have to work at unlocking characters and finding out which combos of hero teams works best. If the game has a Kryptonite though, it would be not letting me start the game with Superman and Batman! And I haven’t even unlocked Superman…so perhaps I should say…yellow ring? No, it’s just not the same!  Also, all the heroes profiles are represented by cards. Why’s everything in an RPG have to be a card now? I blame Magic: The Gathering. Still have to see the “real game”!

FINAL GRADE: C+ (Great visuals, but…Pay-to-play content; multiple dexterity issues; RPG

ACCESSIBILITY GRADE: C (Can tag-out to heal at least; use superpowers for knockdowns, hold at different angles to make sure fingers touch screen.)

FORGIVENESS FACTOR: C (50/50. Unlimited continues, but limited starting roster. Fixed positions, but no difficulty settings.)

TOUCHSCREEN CONTROL: B (Rapid taps/swipes; two-finger blocks, swipe-based attacks.)


                                                  (Performing Nightwing's hard attack!)

                                         (Green Arrow attacks with his bow, for some reason.)

(Cat claw superpower!)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Doctor Who: Cold War

Doctor Who: Cold War 

“Hair, shoulder pads, nukes. It's the 80s. Everything's bigger.”

-The Doctor 

How do you make Clara relevant? Add David Warner! David Warner in this episode plays a Soviet crewmember/mechanic on a nuclear sub where a frozen Ice Warrior has been discovered. Clara is amazed that she can speak Russian, so the Doctor has to explain that the TARDIS translates, again. Anyway, the Doctor had planned for a Las Vegas trip but mistakenly arrives on this Russian nuclear sub in the 80s, and the Ice Warrior perceives it is captured, and discovers the missile abroad which could start WW3.

   David Warner’s mechanic is obsessed with Western culture and rock music. He serves as an intermediary to the Russians and the Doc’s Crew and convinces the captain they aren’t British spies (as originally thought.) For once, the Doctor tells the truth that he’s an alien. David Warner inspects the screwdriver and says maybe they’re telling the truth. Clara acts like a dope and confronts the alien but not before the Doctor explains that maybe now’s not the best time for questions. (Again, she doesn’t understand that theoretically the world could end in the 80s.) But, The Doctor is discovered while Clara again asks The Doctor what to say to the giant alien warrior.

    Well, this makes the creature angry and it busts free to find the missile. Since the TARDIS vanished away in defense mode when the Russians shot at it upon arrival, they can’t just zoom away from the nuclear crisis. David Warner makes funny remarks and asks what happens to Ultravox in the future. He has a stylish walkman. The Doctor finally confronts the alien and tells it that it has no honor, which is an affront to his warrior code. Meanwhile, with the creature’s cooperation, The Doctor shuts down the missile, but not before the mad Russian captain attacks it with a machine gun; The Doctor tells him to stop though, and eventually the Ice Warrior mothership arrives, the problem is resolved. The TARDIS materializes (Wa, wa, waa…) in the South Pole and The Doctor asks for a lift as Clara and the Russians laugh off this near-Armageddon episode in Classic Doctor Who manner.

  A nice funny episode which reintroduces newbies to the Ice Warriors and concepts like the TARDIS translation matrix. Unfortunately, it still makes Clara look like a newbie, but David Warner’s giddy Russian portrayal at least excuses and expertly equals her naïve behavior. The dénouement  with the ice warrior’s code of honor being invoked felt particularly classic, as did the laugh-it-off ending. So 80s. Although the 7th Doctor hated the Ice Warriors, here we see a Doctor with the knowledge that the Cold War can end peacefully, and so he negotiates with them, instead of vowing their destruction. A nice mix of old and new that’s been a theme this season; no doubt for the 50th anniversary!

Sunday, April 14, 2013



Oz: "I might not actually be a wizard..."

Glinda: "Yes, but they don't know that."

Oscar Diggs is a bombastic carnival magician in 1905 in the midst of a levitation trick. He woos the audience by cutting down visible wires and yet his assistant still “floats”. When suddenly, a little girl in a wheelchair has a request: “Make me walk.” But, the once-proud magician is flummoxed. He’s a fraud. He can’t do it. Close curtain. He then goes back to being a selfish womanizer backstage, despite the fact that he really does want to be a good man. A GREAT MAN.

    His opportunity comes when he is whisked off via tornado while escaping the wrath of a jealous carnival strongman to the Land of Oz, where he’s greeted by a charming witch, told where he is, and to beware the flying monkeys and river faeries. He’s a bit naïve, so he’s promptly attacked by both. And then, he’s betrayed by the witch, who thinks the Good witch is the bad witch. Yes, he does it all for money even though he knows he’s not a real wizard.

The interesting part for me, is the friends he makes along the way.  The rest seems straight out of World of Warcraft. See, he saves a good flying monkey named Flynn. As in The Wizard of Oz, each companion I believe symbolizes a real world companion and Oz is it’s psychological counterpart in the imagination. So, Finley is actually Frank, his stagehand and assistant, who he never respected, but here he becomes good friends with. When their adventure leads them to China Town (Where everything and everyone is made of fragile China.) he encounters the seemingly David Bowie-inspired Little China Girl who lost her legs when the flying primates attacked. She’s the little girl in the wheelchair.

   It’d be easy for me to be offended when Oscar/Oz glues her legs back on, but this is his adventure. He wanted to help the girl in the wheelchair, but he couldn’t so in his mind he made her the Little China Girl. That’s part of his quest to discover he’s a great man. In fact, it’s the China Girl who later asks if there are any real wizards where he comes from, and he responds Thomas Alva Edison; which gives him the idea to become Oz The Great And Powerful. True, there is an element of pity in the depiction of disability, but it is the disabled characters that inspire him to use technology to defeat the witches, overcome his own limits, and become great.

As I said, the rest of the movie seems straight out of World of Warcraft with Oz and munchkins using fireworks and a steam machine to make him appear as The Wizard of Oz. I kept waiting for James Franco to say: “I am Oz! The great and powerful!” but it never happens, so instead we get: “It is I, the great and powerful Wizard of Oz!” and I had to think, “Does MGM have that phrase copyrighted?” I mean, the title is Oz the Great and Powerful, so it would’ve fit perfect in just that way. But, it never comes. For shame!

    There are some great homages to the original 1939 Wizard of Oz, such as the black and white film beginning in Kansas (But, never once do we hear that he’s not in Kansas anymore!) or the Poppy Fields being an important battleground. But overall, it reminds me of Oz-cum-World of Warcraft, with Mila Kunis’s green-skinned witch standing in for an orc, and munchkins for gnomish tinkers.

Entertaining and heavy on the “anything’s possible theme”, but also nice to see some disabled main characters, and side characters as well. (The Powerchair Munchkin Tinker!) Cheesy, yes, but sometimes we need to believe in ourselves to become great! Or just have flying monkey battles! Whichever you prefer…like an old-time carnival attraction, it’s got a little something for everyone!

    "Make me walk."    

"I want to come with you!"

Friday, April 12, 2013



"Listen, there is one thing you need to know about traveling with me. Well, one thing, apart from the blue box and the two hearts. You don't walk away."

- The Doctor in The Rings of Akhenaten

I really don’t know what to make of The Doctor’s new companion Clara. She seems to have the same attitude as Amy, without any character development. The last episode The Rings of Akhenaten was good, and yet I couldn’t bring myself to relate to Clara or even like what she was doing in that episode. The reality: I fear the same “She’s your secret Time Lord daughter plot” they’ve been repeating since the 10th Doctor. Clara appears in different times before she started traveling before she met the Doctor, unless that means she is just caught in a time loop.

Spoilers: Clara doesn’t even have that much mystery surrounding her. We know she’s a Dalek. A converted Dalek. The only way you wouldn’t know that is if you didn’t watch the last season with Amy in Asylum of The Daleks. So, all this “Who is Clara Oswald?” business is just hype. We know who she is. Plot points are already repeating. Not that I’m not glad to see The Doctor again, and The Rings of Akhenaten was a great tribute to previous Doctors (with allusions to the 1st, 4th, and 10th Doctors adventures; even Indiana Jones.)

   Consider: The Doctor dropped in on Amy as a little girl. Clara Oswald just sort of latched onto him from what I can figure, after The Snowmen. And the worst thing is that plot points have been repeating ever since. The premiere episode The Bells of Saint John seemed to me to be a rehash of The Snowmen, but with The Great Intelligence controlling the wi-fi instead of snow. And for all we know, the Dalek episode may well happen at the end, which is the beginning! Although I really hope it doesn’t.

    Look, I know one plot point about Clara’s character: eventually, she’ll be a Dalek. What’s the mystery? Why does The Doctor keep her around knowing this? And she wants to walk away on their 2nd adventure? (of season 7.) Crazy! Plus, if The Rings of Akhenaten’s intro is any indication, she’s probably in a time loop. So, that leaves me with two possibilities: 1. She’s a Dalek. 2. She’s a Time Lord…which would be even worse, as you might recognize this as every plot since the 10th Doctor. It made sense when the 4th Doctor did it; but the 9th Doctor stated he (The Doctor) was  now the last Time Lord. Are we supposed to say he’s lying?

    I’m willing to give Clara a chance, but if they pull that River Song-type “She’s your daughter.” plot then it will be…well, hard for me to like her. I recently threatened to stop watching the show, but I cant…Matt Smith is just too good, and wacky! He’s got a good character in the 11th Doctor. I can’t walk away. (Literally or figuratively!) But, Clara. Come on. You need to get an attitude adjustment. And I really hope you’re not secretly River Song. Give me something new!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Game of Thrones Update: Season 3 Episode 2

Game of Thrones Update:

Jojen: “You can’t kill him, you know.”

Bran: “How do you know?”

Jojen: “Because the raven is you.”

    Bran’s dream of hunting a raven becomes real when he’s approached by strangers. Should I say spoilers? SPOILERS! I knew Bran had strong dreams ever since the show decided to push him out a window, but this new episode of Game of Thrones turns the knob all the way to 11. He can see through the eyes of animals and into the future. I’m particularly fond of the interactions between him and his caretakers. But, it seems someone got past him, his “aides” and his pet wolf on the way out of Winterfell, where he told him the news of his magic.

   And Bran isn’t the only one! There were a ton of new characters introduced in this episode, one of whom beyond The Wall is the same kind of wizard as Bran (Who is also disabled, but he has been since day one; so he’s a second favorite of mine!) Of course, my first favorite is Tyrion. Sadly, he still hasn’t shown me really that he’s back in the game, so to speak. He tells his confidante that she shouldn’t come into his room without permission from his father, but she does anyway. Such deference to the law worries me; isn’t normal for him.

   Sansa is having to act happy about not being married to the King. Could it be a sign of House Stark coming together? Tyrion has already suggested that any man can have her now that she’s not married. Meanwhile Geoffrey is still setting up the wedding and generally flaunting his new wife to Sansa; and we learn that Sansa’s grandmother’s not too keen on him doing so. Geoffrey may have to face revolution from the inside, and I like it, but that’s my wishful thinking.

Sadly, there’s no Khaleesi or Milisandre in this episode, but I don’t think it means their armies are going away. I see this episode mainly as focusing on strengthening the ex-Starks. Arya is traveling with vagabond warriors known as the Brothers without Banners who seem impressed by her escape. It appears they’ve also found Brienne. With the ex-Starks gaining allies, and some of them new powers, it might be enough to topple Geoffrey. But, he seems as arrogant as ever, and I doubt he even cares what his people think of his scandals.  

In this episode, I was particularly taken by Bran’s development that he’s a wizard. He could possibly see a future in his dreams where this journey pays off. Speaking as a disabled man, I often find that my dreams compensate for not being able to physically act on all my thoughts…curiously, in his dreams, as in mine, he is able-bodied. So, I hope that symbolizes some power or influence left in him. All in all, a hopeful episode, assuming the Brothers Without Banners are friendly. I just hope my outlook isn’t misplaced! Nice Stark development, but I can’t wait to get back to The Queen of Dragons.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013



Game of Thrones Season 3 is off to a good start! The only thing I didn’t like about it was that the dwarf Tyrion remains stripped of power. Meanwhile, the Khaleesi is raising an army, and it appears that a big battle is about to happen. Those dragons are growing up. Logic tells me they wouldn’t bother to develop the dragons without seeing them fully grown and in battle. Khaleesi has a ragtag army put together. I don't know whether to root for her, Tyrion, or the ex-Starks, but definitely not Stannis Brartheon for me! I secretly wish Tyrion would rule Westeros, but it doesn't look likely; I was crushed at the end of Season 2. I'm divided.

Meanwhile, in House Brartheon, it seems Milisandre the sorceress is also trying to go on another attack! There should be another huge battle. And Robert Baratheon has defected to the Khaleesi. I can only hope that Khaleesi’s recent successes don’t foreshadow an early death.She appears to have avoided an early death already from a scorpion-thing. Robert was quick about that!Anyway, it makes me wonder with Robert being an expert swordsman, will he train the Khaleesi’s army? And will the Lannister’s be able to hold King’s Landing from Stannis without Tyrion? I hope Tyrion comes back in full form!

 In supernatural news, I also hope John Snow will be fighting white walkers very soon! He, in my view, could be the one to bring House Stark back, if only he were legitimate. He’s already made allies beyond The Wall!

So, my overall review of the premiere? Anywhere from great to really great. I just hope Tyrion can regain his honor. Then, again, as House Stark proved, honor doesn’t mean much in George R.R. Martin’s world. But, maybe the Stark’s will come back too. Who knows?  People who read the books, I know!

I know there are books to read. I should most definitely read them. But at this point it would just seem like cheating. I might read them when the show is over. Depending on how depressed/uplifted I am by the show’s finale. Though I don’t imagine I’ll be disappointed either way. Say what you will about the immorality of Game of Thrones, whatever conclusion it comes to will fit together logically within the show‘s premise. It is fundamentally, after all, a show about power; and not always who wields it justly. In the Game of Thrones, “you win or you die.”