Looking Back on… My Rant on XPW (Wrestling, 2/18/03)

My rant on XPW, or, why you can’t sell the same thing over again. (I’m italicizing my modern comments since this is already bolded. Anyway, fucking XPW man. Originally a terrible, fifth-rate ECW knock-off with some of the worst “talent” in the business and a bunch of ECW castoffs, run by porn producer Rob Black, they SOMEHOW decided to just BECOME ECW, caused a shitload of problems in the Philly wrestling area, then died off when Black was run through the wringer because of “obscenity charges.” This means porn with peeing and I HOPE IMPLIED murder scenes, so, yeah. Anyway, the whole sordid mess is here on Wikipedia, if you’re bored, and apparently Black wants to bring it back AGAIN so God knows, we may be back here in a few years.)

(A note in advance: first, to those of you who know nothing about XPW, though I loathe plugging those I ridicule, visit xpwrestling.com to give yourself a better idea of those I write about here, if you’re curious. Second, if one Mr. Black is to read this: Consider this publicity. If you want to pull a Jay Bower on me, please do, but remember to link me, god knows I could use the traffic.) (Jay Bower was some dude who wrote for Smarks.com, for reference; we’ll get to him in a little bit.)

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Random Song of the Day – 4/24/15

Let’s finish out this week of weird Asian music with the prince of Visual Key*, Gackt:

You almost certainly have some idea who Gackt is if you like Square Enix games; he’s supplied a few theme songs for their work, and was Genesis in Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, so you’d probably be able to pick him out. Even if you don’t, though, he’s somewhat notable in the US, mostly due to his extensive body of work, and while he’s not a musician on the level of popularity of someone like Utada Hikaru, he is notable amongst, well, dork circles for a bunch of reasons.

I tend to like his work because he’s not really pigeon-holed by the fact that his original band, Malice Mizer (seriously) made metal music and dressed like Victorian clown hookers (seriously), as shown above. While he still makes metal music as needed, as well as the odd but expected piano ballad, he’s not afraid to make himself look like Cloud Strife and experiment with horns and goofy pop melodies when the need arises or he’s particularly bored. He’s also dabbled in acting and has a shitload of soundtrack credits to his name, because that’s how he do, and it helps him sell his shit on iTunes I suppose, so hey, more power to him.

* Assuming you consider X to be the respective kings of it, and most people (myself included) do. I like Gackt and all, but Hide was the fucking man, fuck you.

If that sounded like “dork dork dork dork” to you, I’m not surprised, I promise.

Random Song of the Day – 4/23/15

Today, Suicide Ali:

For those who are playing along at home, this is the band I didn’t discover through nerdy shit; instead, J. Rose called me up one day and basically said, “YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS SHIT,” and from there, I was on board. I don’t care about the style of the band; it’s a specific style called Visual Key, which I’ve been aware of since I got into X back in the 90’s, so that’s not really a thing (though I appreciate anyone who puts this much effort into their look, I’ll say that much). No, I like Suicide Ali because their name is stupid as hell, and their music is bizarre, even for Visual Key. When your music is so weird even other bands in your genre look askance at you, I’m probably at least willing to give it a try.

Looking Back on… Review: WWE Raw 2 (Microsoft Xbox)

WWE Raw 2
Console: X-Box
Genre: Sports (Wrestling)
Developer: Anchor
Publisher: THQ (We have about one more YHCOR review left before we have to finish up the other content, ugh, which will then bring us into the DHGF content. Lord knows how long that’ll take to get through, but let’s find out.)

Hey, what’s better than wrestling? (These days, lots of stuff.) More wrestling! THQ, the proud parents of the Smackdown franchise of games, have recently released Raw 2, the second in Anchor’s WWE games series for the X-Box. Now, I don’t want to sound negative or anything, but Raw… well… it had some issues, to put it politely, (It fucking sucked, to put it less so.) and Anchor swore they would take great pains to work out the bugs on the second go-round and produce a superior gaming experience in all possible respects.

Did it work? Well, I think so, but to be fair, the game still isn’t as good as it could’ve been. (They fixed everything but the gameplay, basically.)

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Random Song of the Day – 4/22/15

Today, to continue the theme, 4Minute:

Let’s address the obvious point here: the disconnect between the visual imagery and the people actually performing the song is… confusing to say the least. That aside, compare this to yesterday’s video for a second. While South Korean pop acts seem to have a weird fascination with Western urban culture*, the rest of the video is okay, but not anything new; it’s a bunch of choreography, black-and-white with bits of color, and dance steps. The song though, that’s interesting; it’s got an interesting and non-conventional structure, and the vocal progression is interesting and surprisingly hard to get out of your head whether you like it or not. I don’t have a specific point here, since KARA, 4Minute and f(x) are all super successful in South Korea; I just find the different approaches to production interesting.

* Which is fine, because it’s become so over-saturated at this point that anyone can do it in their music videos, and it’s no longer interesting and doesn’t really mean anything, but it’s funny that a band like 4Minute is using it in a way that seems intent on conveying a specific thing (how crazy they are) when KARA did it years prior to convey a different thing (something about a dude).

Random Song of the Day – 4/21/15

Today, f(x):

My exposure to Japanese singers mostly comes from either hearing something they did for a nerd project (IE gaming, anime, etc) or finding them through that association (with one exception), but my exposure to Korean music almost entirely comes from listening to PSY. That seems weird, but it’s actually pretty basic: every so often, PSY will release a new video, I’ll watch it, and then I’ll go down the clickhole for an hour watching whatever videos pop up as associated to the video I just watched. That’s how I discovered Hyuna and 4Minute*, as well as today’s highlight, f(x), and I recommend it if you have an hour to waste and eclectic tastes in music.

Anyway, f(x) is interesting, in that they have an eclectic visual style to their presentation, but their music is kind of hit-or-miss as pop/hip-hop/whatever music goes. While KARA and 4Minute tend to make videos that are far more basic, their music is a bit more conventionally pleasant. f(x) makes videos that are more interesting color and presentation-wise (let’s be honest, it’s all pop choreography here) but songs I’m kind of eh with. This song is one of the more interesting of the lot, though, and I enjoy it quite a bit, so here you go.

* KARA, oddly, is the exception here; I discovered them through a weird Korean rhythm game, DJMax Technika Tune, which featured a bunch of their songs and videos. I got nothing.

On multiplayer in Bloodborne, and why no one cares about your whining.

Okay, one more post about Bloodborne, for now.

Multiplayer in the Souls series has always been kind of an odd duck. It’s there, and it works, but it’s not the thing that attracts most people to the experience. The idea is certainly novel, in theory; your “world” is open to anyone from another world, be they hostile or helpful, and while you can choose to summon in helpful people whenever you wish, hostile invaders can enter whenever they wish and make your life hell. This has always been an evolving process, of course; in Demon’s Souls invaders could only invade you when you were “whole,” and killing you meant they could become whole, thus putting them at risk in turn, while in Dark Souls, invasion was simply a matter of being in human form, but there were also a whole lot of covenant options available to players who wanted to customize their invasions or even act as spirits of vengeance. Dark Souls 2 took this concept even further, creating covenants and entire zones where invasion was basically a thing that was always going to happen, though it also implemented a concept called “Soul Memory” which retained your total accumulated souls, thus limiting invasion options, which hasn’t been very popular with online players.

Bloodborne takes this a step further, by not only prompting the player at launch of the game if they even want to be online in the first place, but also by limiting the availability of invasions to specific set zones in the game (two “nightmare” zones and some Chalice dungeons), unless you’re summoning help (or invasions) in which case bets are off, which has players up in arms on various posting boards. The general argument seems to b, on the pro side, that the online in Bloodborne is not very good, due to the extensive limitations placed on it because of the “whining” of the “casuals”* and how it’s a huge cop-out and so on, and on the con side, that they’re fine with this, but would prefer alternate options. For the most part, this argument isn’t generally compelling to me, for various reasons, but I wasn’t really sure why I wasn’t really on-board for either side. The fact that I don’t particularly like the online component in Souls games makes sense as to why I didn’t care about the pro online side, but the anti-online side isn’t especially compelling either, frankly, because… well honestly, they don’t really understand the situation, I don’t think.

Let’s start with the pro online side, which can be summed up by the following completely real quote I extracted from GameFAQs that sums up a lot of the arguments in favor of the invasion system in one easily digested sentence:

“I want to be able to invade your game and halt your progress whether you wanted me there or not.”

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Random Song of the Day – 4/14/15

Today, Die Antwoord:

Music from other countries is really interesting to me, because it’s either completely different from anything that’s ever been popular in the US, or because it’s exactly like what’s been popular in the US, but several years after the fact. Die Antwoord is basically a crossbreed of those two concepts, marrying a musical style and aesthetic that stopped being popular years ago, but in a way that’s wholly different from anything the US ever made popular, which has helped them become surprisingly popular in the US. In a lot of respects, they represent everything that’s right with the music scene, as they’ve made themselves popular through hard work and talent rather than marketing and appearance, because really, exactly how much do you expect a US label would’ve marketed a South African rave hip-hop act that looks, well, like they do?

Also Flea and Marilyn Manson make cameos in this video for some reason, so there’s that.