Batman ‘66: The TV Stories
COMICS & SUPERHEROES - SPECIAL EDITION!
SAVE THE DATE!
WELCOME TO LIVE! Welcome to May’s edition of Live Magazine. This month it’s all about super heroes and the comics, movies and TV shows that bring them to life. Superheros are always popular, whether they are appearing in movies, on TV or of course in comics or graphic novels. These larger then life characters have been an established part of popular culture since the early 20th century when the word superhero made its first appearance. Movies, both good and bad are based on them, so too with TV show, though often with less success. But it is in comics that we first learn of them. Where they come from, why they are who they are, their strengths, their weaknesses and of course their nemesis, often coming in multiples. Superheroes are big business, with big budget movies being turned into movie franchises that now get a reboot every few years. Add to that merchandising, games and much more and you’ve got a very big business indeed that we, the consumer, devours with a passion. So kick back and enjoy our look at those superheroes, the comics, the movies and of course, the games... Have fun!
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Top 10 Comic Book characters The History of Comics
THE LIVE TEAM Publisher: Rob Jenkins (Gametraders Operations Centre) Art Director: Giselle Capozza (Gametraders Operations Centre) Game Review & Preview Editors: Nick Getley & Kylie Tuttle (Sticky Trigger) Retro Writer: Paul Monopoli Retro Writer: David Kudrev UK Writer: Elliott Buddo US Writer: Serwa Aboagye Sticky Trigger Writers: Kylie Tuttle Nick Getley Alex Holmes Sam Babu Nick Pearce Aaron Milligan Ben Rachow Elliott Buddo Bridget Sweeney Sean Fox Miranda Nelson Dom Mallett
Front cover: TM & (C) DC Comics. Copyright from Batman ‘66: The TV Stories. Cover art by: Amanda Conner. This issue available at Gametraders stores.
First Saturday of May, 3rd May, is Free Comic Book Day & Gametraders is joining the fun by offering customers a free co
C BOOK DAY!
omic! Selected stores only, while stocks last! Ask staff for details.
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WHAT’S WOLFENSTEIN: THE NEW ORDER
It all started in 1981 when Silas Warner wrote Castle Wolfenstein, a 2D adventure game for the Apple II. In 1984 the sequel was released - Beyond Castle Wolfenstein and in 1992 a 3D version was released and is credited as the first real first person shooter. Over the next 20 years a number of versions were released and the newest game, Wolfenstein: The New Order, arrives in stores on May 22nd. The New Order is set in an alternate reality which sees the Nazi’s having won World War II and our hero, B.J. Blazkowicz launches a counter offensive against the Nazi regime. The game is a visually stunning using id Software’s Tech 5 engine. Fans who preorder the game will get access to the Doom beta (the latest instalment of the Doom franchise). This game promises to be another amazing adventure for first person shoot fans and should graphically push the new consoles from Microsoft and Sony, giving us detailed environment and spectacular effects. One for the fans! Interesting note: In Germany the game will see an alternate version where there are no references to the Nazi regime and swastikas will be replaced by the Wolfenstein logo.
LOVE YOUR BLU-RAY? DON’T GET TOO ATTACHED… Rumour has it that Sony and Panasonic are working on a replacement format that will give us 300GB discs by 2015. The full report can be seen on T3 Australia’s website here What does this mean for gamers and movie lovers? Simply more content to show off on your shiny new 4K TV screen. Yes those are now available at your larger tech retailer and the first 4K film, Timescapes by Tom Lowe will take up 160GB of data according to a report on The Register in the U.K. Imagine the realism of movies coming out on these formats! It’s an exciting time to love technology.
Here’s what’s hot at the moment and what’s likely to be popular with gamers and tech lovers!
CORTANA IMAGES LEAKED! The new digital assistant from Microsoft, Cortana, isn’t too far away for users and it seems that someone’s leaked images. The Verge has shown off images that you can see from their website (linked below). Cortana is a character from Microsoft’s game, Halo. The character is the AI that players get help from as they play through the game. In Halo 4 we see the character as designed by Lorraine McLees and is based on the Egyptian queen Nefertiti. Microsoft will be hoping that Cortana will be what Siri is to iOS users.
IWATCH RUMOURS HEAT UP! The hottest rumour from Apple is the rumoured iWatch. While we have nothing official from Apple, rumours regularly sweep across the internet and the hope is they will announce something at WWDC in June this year ready for a September launch date. There’s a very cool little video report you can check out at T3 or jump on YouTube here. Is this important to gamers? It could be a device that can link in with games on the Apple TV or your iPhone or iPad. But not too many secondary devices seemed to have made the leap from novelty to must have gamer device. Even the Kinect and the PS Move haven’t yet been used to their fullest and the Wii U pad that Nintendo released with the Wii U didn’t set the gaming world on fire despite the fact that the unit has the potential to add new and exciting game play options. Will some sort of watch fair any better? We’ll just have to wait and see.
gaming in the US
San Diego Comic Con
Since 1938 with the release of the very first comic book on to the US market, comic books play a huge part in the US culture. Whether you are a reader or a collector, the comic book culture in the US is a booming market!
Comic Con International was started as an event for likeminded comic book fans to get together and about their interests. Starting in a small basement of a hotel with around 100 people attending, it was set up as a fundraiser to allow for bigger events to occur. Skip forward to today and
Attending the event also has incredible bonuses! Many comic book distributors and toy designer companies often create one of kind exclusives which can only be obtained from attending the ‘Con. One off prints of comics, toys, DVD’s and posters are highly sought after by
“ONE OFF PRINTS OF COMICS, TOYS, DVDS AND POSTERS ARE HIGHLY SOUGHT AFTER BY FANS AND COLLECTORS.” The US has one of the best events for comic book fans to explore interests and this is the annual Comic Con International convention held in San Diego each year.
Comic Con International now has over 130,000 attendees who walk through the halls of the San Diego Convention Centre over the four day event.
fans and collectors. Many of these exclusives often end up in online auctions where the sell for insanely high prices after a ‘fan bidding’ war erupts!
Since 1970, fans and groups worldwide have been flocking to the convention to see creators of their favourite comic books, actors from movies and television shows adapted from comic books and the multitude of cosplayers.
Originally, Comic Con International was just a show case for comic books, however as the years have passed and the culture has changed, Comic Con International now shows a variety of not only comic books, but also anime, manga, toys, collectibles, trading card games, movies, web comics and more!
If you a fan of comic books, cosplay, and meeting people with a common interest or interested in experience and the vibe that can be had at Comic Con International, head to San Diego in March 2015 for the ultimate comic fan experience!
Written by Serwa Aboagye www.fruitjungle.wordpress.com
Image from Wikipidea. PopCultureGeek.com
Image from Wikipidea. CoolKid1993 at en.Wikipedia
Image from Wikipidea. Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, USA
gaming in the UK
U.K. News Round Up
Starting on 23rd May, Manchester is set to hold the annual MCM London Comic Con. MCM Comic Con brings together at every show a selection of special guests from the world of entertainment, TV, movies, video games and comics. MCM Comic Con is like a travelling show that moves to major cities in the UK such as Manchester, Birmingham and Scotland. MCM Comic Con is the no.1 pop cultural show in the UK! ‘Comic Village’ is the place to be at MCM if you are a huge comic book fan! Here you will stalls and stalls
event. Cosplay is HUGE in the UK and Europe so it will be very interesting to see who will come dressed as what this year! The amount of time, effort and skill that some of the performers put in to their creation are mind blowing and sometimes mind boggling! Making an appearance this year will be Steam Punk – bringing the past to the future! This is also another area of the Con that I can’t wait to see! MCM has an incredibly huge variety of activities for attendees to do. The
“COSPLAY IS HUGE IN THE UK AND EUROPE..” of some of the top names the comic world be it a comic writer, comic artist or comic creator, this is the place to be! Comic Village at MCM is the ultimate comic book fans place to be! I can hear my bank account crying already! Similar to the infamous San Diego Comic Con, MCM also features cosplayers. MCM has the EuroCosplay Championships. The Championship comprises of qualifying events held all over Europe. Those lucky enough to make the final will find out who the winner will be at the London MCM
MEMORABILIA area at allows fans to rub shoulders with stars of the big and small screen from the past. Dealer stalls from not only the UK and Europe, but also the world will bring you some of the BEST collectibles, anime, trading cards, games, DVD’s, comics, toys and more to buy! Again, I hear my bank account crying! MCM will also feature a few eSport events where some of the best gamers will play in tournaments live in the arena!
But if that wasn’t enough, MCM throw a huge party on the Saturday night of each Con which allows attendees to get together, eat, drink and be merry for the evening! There is so much more than what I have listed above, but these would be my highlights! MCM really is the ultimate place to be for UK comic fans! If you can get to one of the Con’s, I highly recommend it as it is well and truly worth the experience. For more information, head over to: www.mcmcomiccon.com/
Written by Elliott Buddo
Image from Wikipidea. Author: Senseiich
BATTLE OF THE COMIC BOOK SEXES! TOP 5 MALE AND FEMALE COMIC BOOK CHARACTERS
The following are a list of what I consider to be the best male and female comic book characters, with regards to superheroes. It is worth pointing out the reader that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to what comics you like, Superhero or no, so please head on down to your local comic book shop and ask your friendly staff to recommend you a title based on whatever you want to read about! I can guarantee you there’s already a comic book waiting for you right now! But then why the focus on superheroes you ask? Well, given the dominance of the genre in the medium and in pop culture right now, I felt it best to examine them all alongside each other and pick the best, which is something you cannot do with indie comics where each exist in a myriad of genres and in them characters too unique to be compared. But if you want a tip to finding out about more exciting books, find the name of a writer or an artist whose comics you like and check out their other work, and see where the various threads take you. You might something amazing you never thought you would! I’d also like to acknowledge that I am a white heterosexual man, and as such can only view these characters through that lense – chances are you’re of a different cultural background, sexual persuasion, or in some way different from me, and that’s fine. There is no right answer to question of best heroes or movies, only opinion and what matters to you. I have tried to be as inclusive as possible in considering my choices, hence our even split between male characters and female characters. But the fact remains that I am a white straight man, and a lot of comic heroes and prominent characters are straight white men, created by white straight men. This, thankfully, is slowly changing, and if you don’t like my choices or these characters that is totally fine and you should never be judged for it. Find the characters that matter to you, for whatever reason, and enjoy them. For what it’s worth though, I hope you enjoy my analysis and choices.
Top 5 Comic Book Characters (Male) and honourable mentions.* *For honourable characters that only seem to shine when certain creators get a hold of them were chosen. These particular creators end up tapping the true potential of what might be a more fascinating character than the original creator intended; the character has been expressed in a truly excellent way, but other writers seem unable to repeat this feat.
1. Spider-Man/Peter Parker Why is Spider-Man the greatest comic book dude of all time? Well, it’s because he’s Peter Parker. Peter Parker is an unpopular guy who has every legitimate reason to make money of his powers in a selfish way – he’s not loved by society, and his family is pretty poor. But learning the hardest of lessons from the death of his Uncle Ben, Peter learns that with great power comes great responsibility. Peter is like Superman in that he fights for what is right no matter the personal cost to his own life, but more often than not his personal cost is extreme. He can get badly hurt, he has to hide his identity for fear of hurting his loved ones, his web slinging makes it hard for him to hold down a job, let alone life a life of any sort, and he’s not always loved by the city he protects. He perfected the template for all the flawed Marvel heroes to flow, and while Superman and Batman feel like true heroes of mythological stories, but Spider-Man and Peter Parker is a truly relatable hero and a better one for it. With their fantastic creation Stan Lee and Steve Ditko taught the world that even if society doesn’t care about you, and even shuns you, that if you have the power to do good it is your responsibility to do it. Created by: Stan Lee and Steve Ditko Read: Spider-Man: Blue by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
2. Superman/Clark Kent Superman is the superhero. The original and arguably the best, Superman set the template for countless imitators in years to follow, but was never overshadowed. It’s hard to believe that comics’ first superhero arrived this perfectly formed – an immigrant story, the man with the power to do anything who does what is right but doesn’t force people to follow what he believes. Superman is a symbol of hope, of truth and justice. One of the most recognisable characters in the world thanks to his iconic S shield and outfit, Superman might not be as cool as Batman in today’s pop narrative but if you look beyond your preconceptions you’ll find a startlingly deep hero who provides endless inspiration to do good. Created by: Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster Read: All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly
3. Batman/Bruce Wayne Batman is Batman, and that’s why he’s the best. Endlessly able to be reinvented Batman can be a campy crusader as well as a dark knight and still feel true to the character. Batman’s ability to span cosmic Olympics to dark detective stories, to even the next generation of Batmen on more than one occasion prove how potent a symbol he is as character in both a in universe sense and on a greater meta-textual level. Batman can be the ultimate fantasy for kids – cool gadgets, a butler, and an endless array of fascinating villains to face off against. But he can also be the haunted street detective for adults – weary, yet determined, facing off against villains he himself created. Batman’s endless potential for re-invention makes him both endlessly relevant, and endlessly entertaining. Created by: Bill Finger and Bob Kane Read: Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli
4. Magneto/Max Eisenhardt Magneto, despite being the X-Men’s primary antagonist for many years, has often proved a more compelling protagonist and character than any of his oft enemies and occasional allies. His origin story is key: a holocaust survivor who has seen the power and cruelty of unchecked bigotry, he feels completely justified in doing what he can to stop mutants being hurt. And who can blame the man, after what he’s been through? What makes Magneto such an endlessly compelling character is that as readers we can find it hard to condemn his actions. Yes, it is wrong to try to destroy the world…but can you really blame him sometimes? Importantly the more identifiable Magneto is, the more important is the choice of which mutants side with – the X-Men or Magneto. If Magneto were a straight up villain, easily condemnable, then he’d be easy to understand fighting against. But so understandable is his position of mistrust, of rage, it is hard to fault his feelings even if one disagrees with his methods. The master of magnetism is just that – a magnetic character of vast depth. One could easily say that without Magneto, The X-Men would be at least as half as interesting – even when he’s not their he’s their perfect ideological foil, and a convincing one at that. Created by: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby Read: X-Men: Magneto Testament by Greg Pak and Carmine Di Giandomenico
5. Daredevil/Matt Murdoch/Erik Lehnsherr Frank Miller has it right: Matt Murdock has every right to be a villain – robbed of his sight at a young age, his father and mother taken from him by awful circumstances, raised in the infamous Hell’s Kitchen. But somehow, Matt isn’t a villain, he’s a hero. Daredevil is character that was long under rated before Frank Millers all-but definitive take on the character. In the right hands Daredevil dabbled in street noir, courtroom drama, and martial arts finesse. Like the best Marvel heroes, Matt Murdoch always seems to have the board stacked against him, often overwhelmingly so and he never gives up. His determination to do what is right by the law during the day and a vigilante during the night ensures Matt is a fascinating character who has endless potential. From swashbuckler to demon in the night Matt Murdoch is out and out of Marvel’s best characters and one of the best ever period. Created by Stan Lee, Bill Everett, and Jack Kirby Read: Daredevil: The Man Without Fear by Frank Miller and John Romita Jr.
Honourable mentions The Punisher/Frank Castle Frank Castle is not a superhero, hero, or maybe even an anti-hero. People say that Frank is similar to Magento in that he has a sympathetic back story – his family were senselessly murdered in front of him by sheer chance, and he’s spent the better part of the rest of his life. Still when one thinks about it, if this were a reasonable response there would be a lot of real life Punishers. In the right hands (namely those of Garth Ennis) Frank Castle is a fascinating study in what drives a man to become The Punisher, and what makes us, the reader, root for him when he performs truly awful acts upon the worst kind of people. Frank is also surprisingly malleable, being able to easily cover range from darkly comic, straight up action, or serious crime thriller. However, the best Punisher stories allow the reader to examine a dark mirror of themselves, and you’d best be careful staring into that abyss, lest it stare back. Created by: Gerry Conway, John Romita Sr, Ross Andru and Stan Lee. Read: Welcome Back, Frank by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, Punisher MAX by Garth Ennis
Colonel Nick Fury Nick Fury is Marvel’s answer to James Bond and all the spy trickery. He’s a damn cool fellow, as seen in Steranko’s Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. He gets all the hot ladies, the crazy spy gadgets and clandestine adventures all filled with a art pop cool sensibility. Fury also works as the man who makes the hard choices in the Marvel Universe – in a world filled with heroes who won’t kill and wear their ideals on their sleeves, Fury provides an often refreshing, if cynical, realpolitik view to the Marvel Universe - sometimes hard choices have to be made and Fury is the man that makes them, knowing his place is in the shadows rather than the spotlight of heroism. A special mention should go to Garth Ennis’ MAX version of Fury – who is a true cold war warrior, unsure of why he is fighting deep down and is worried that the only reason he fights for the US and the UN is because it’s the only thing he’s good at the only thing he enjoys. Despite rarely getting the spotlight, Fury is absolutely one of Marvel’s best characters and an integral part of the Marvel universe. Created by: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby Read: Fury: My War Gone By by Garth Ennis and Parlov and Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D by Steranoko
Top 5 Comic Book Characters (FEMALE) and honourable mentions.* *For honourable characters that only seem to shine when certain creators get a hold of them were chosen. These particular creators end up tapping the true potential of what might be a more fascinating character than the original creator intended; the character has been expressed in a truly excellent way, but other writers seem unable to repeat this feat.
1. Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers Captain Marvel, AKA Carol Danvers, the former Ms Marvel, might seem like an odd choice for the best heroine in comics, and there’s a good chance you might not have heard of her before. Carol Danvers is an Air Force officer who gained her powers of flight, superhuman strength, speed, and a good degree of invulnerability as well as the ability to blast out energy from her hands. Carol demonstrates everything that is best about Superhero comics and the heroes themselves with her compassion, warmth, sarcastic wit and her willingness to help her friends out, no matter her personal cost. Carol is determined and stubborn, almost to a fault, and can occasionally try and handle matters beyond her own (vast) capability because she doesn’t want to trouble her friends. She can also be cocky in assuming her ability to take on threats much larger than herself. But all her faults stem from her desire to be the best, to take care of her friends and carry as much of their burdens as such can. Oh, and she’s an ace fighter pilot too. If you want further proof of her awesomeness and her power to inspire, especially under fan-favourite current writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, google the Carol Corps. You’ll be welcomed with open arms. Created by: Roy Thomas and Gene Colan Read: Avengers: The Enemy Within by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Filipe Andrade, Scott Hepburn, Matteo Buffagni, Pepe Larraz, and Gerardo Sandoval
2. Wonder Woman/ Princess Diana Like the other members of DC’s Trinity, Wonder Woman is more than a character, she is a symbol. Perhaps the most famous heroine of comic books known to the rest of the world, Wonder Woman represents that strength does not exclude femininity, and bad assery has nothing to do with being a man. But as well as showing kick ass and taking names were not the sole province of male heroes Wonder Woman does not shy away from her feminity – after all she is born of clay to her mother. Wonder Woman also uses truth as her weapon – her lasso literally compels those in its grasp to tell nothing but the truth – as well as a sword and shield Wonder Woman represents a multifaceted view of women, and rightly so. And importantly, she’s Wonder Woman – not a girl, not an off shoot character – she stands tall with Batman and Superman amongst DCs heroes and with good reason. Creators: William Moulton Marston Read: Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia by Greg Rucka and J.G. Jones.
3. Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat Starting out with the X-Men as a 13 year old girl Kitty Pryde AKA Shadowcat is one of the best X-Men characters ever, and easily one of the best heroines ever to grace our four colour cartoons. Kitty is like the best Marvel heroes – she’s flawed but still gives her best to do the right thing. The other thing that has helped Kitty stand apart is the growth she’s been allowed. Many legacy characters remain ageless in order keep the story telling ongoing, but Kitty has grown from a young lady into an adult woman before our very eyes. Along the way we’ve seen her follies and her triumphs and given that she’s such a warm relatable character, they’ve felt all the more ours. Kitty is headstrong but not arrogant, firm but not harsh, kind but not naïve, and will sacrifice everything to save her friends and adopted family. The girl can phase through anything, but she can’t escape our hearts. Created by: Chris Claremont and John Byrne Read: Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday
4. Kate Bishop/Hawkeye Kate Bishop is the newest character created to be on this list, and there’s a reason for that. Kate was/is the Young Avengers’ Hawkeye – the greatest sharpshooter in the world. Self-trained, Kate is a boss when it comes to shooting arrows and one of the more tactically minded teens who populate the Marvel universe. But what makes Kate such a great character, as often is the case, is her relatable nature. Kate has a lot going for her in her life – she comes from a rich family, she’s got a lot of her life together, and she is very nifty with a bow and arrow not to mention some hand to hand skills. But Kate can also insecure, often looking for validation for her actions, and her desire to make her own way in the world can often get her into trouble. But that’s what so great about her – she acts the way all teenagers act, and even adult readers can identify a lot with Kate’s predicaments and feelings – we’ve all been down the road of appearing confident but inside being just a little bit terrified. But Kate trusts herself and her ability to get through the tougher times, and that’s what makes her such a great hero. Created by: Allan Heinberg and Jim Chung Read: Hawkeye V1 by Matt Fraction, David Aja, and Javier Pulido
3. Oracle/Batgirl/Barbara Gordon Barbara Gordon, like Kitty Pryde, has had the luxury of evolving over the years. Starting out as James Gordon’s daughter she became Batgirl, becoming one of Batman’s most trusted allies. Sneaking out from under her Dad’s nose, Babs joined Batman in his fight against crime. Robin was a great audience subsitute – he lived with Batman, but Babs’ situation hit much closer to home as she really had to take care of her secret identity. However, with the game changing comic The Killing Joke, Barbara was paralysed from the waist down. But that did that stop her being a hero? Heck no. Renaming herself Oracle, Babs became one of the lynchpin heroes of the DCU, providing tactical and technical information to not only Batman, but the entire Justice League. Barbara’s such a great character because as a young lady she pushes against the constraints we all feel from time to time, and as a woman she decided to still do what she could to help others, despite her disability. Truly an inspiration, Babs proved that no matter one’s physical state, you could still be just as much a hero as anyone else. Created by: Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino Read: Batgirl/Robin: Year One by Scott Beatty, Chuck Dixon, Marcos Martin, and Javier Pulido & Birds of Prey by Gail Simone
Honourable mentions Kamala Kahn/Ms Marvel Kamala is an honourable mention by virtue of the fact that she only has 3 issues out at the moment…ever. 3! And yet she makes it to this list, albeit in an honorary capacity. Well, why might you ask? Well Kamala is one of the first teen heroes that actually idolises her heroes in ways that fit more with our modern era – she writes Avengers fanfic, and very much wants to be just like her hero Captain Marvel. But Kamala faces a lot of the issues normal teens face, like trying to cope with ideals her family thinks she should hold that she doesn’t quite understand (she’s a young Muslim lady), trying to fit in to feel cool even though she doesn’t succeed at it, and just generally trying to find herself. Kamala is instantly identifiable if you’ve ever been at teenager, and with only 3 issues in let’s hope she’s around to stay some more. Oh yeah, and her powers are the ability to shape shift. Create by: Sana Amanat, G. Willow Wilson, and Adrian Alphona Read: Ms Marvel Volume 1 (forth coming)
Batwoman/Kate Kane Kate Kane holds the title of Batwoman and though there have been previous Batwomen, and under Greg Ruck’s pen none have been as awesome or as more important as Kate. Kate is a lesbian, kicked out of the Marine college of WestPoint for not wanting to lie about her sexuality. Still, her desire to serve justice and protect the innocence leads to her teaming up with her career military father to serve the citizens of Gotham City. Importantly, though she has co-opted Batman’s symbol, she does not seek his approval nor does she need it. Kate also distinguishes herself from Batman by running a very paramilitary operation, though she does not kill. Though she does not have a rogue’s gallery as iconic as Batman’s Kate has faced arguably more personal demons than Bruce Wayne has and come out on top. But what makes Kate a true hero is that she never stops being who she is or what she wants to be with regards not only to her sexuality, but also her entire life. Kate Kane is a true example that heroes really are anybody who cares about others and acts on that feeling. Created by: Greg Rucka, Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, and Ken Lashley Read: Batwoman: Elergy by Greg Rucka and J.H.Williams III
Written by Alex Holmes
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The History of Comic Books To celebrate Free Comic Book Day on Saturday May 3 we proudly present to you, dear reader, a concise history of comic books, the top comic book characters out there, and a list of the best comic book movies. Enjoy, but most of all check out your local store on May 3rd! Comic books – let’s be clear we’re talking about American comic books, and superhero comics in particular (as both Europe and Asia have long traditions of equally excellent books) – have a long and fascinating history that is far too long to be told in a few paragraphs. However, a general summary of the 20th’s century comic book history is worth having not only for knowledge’s sake alone but for placing many books in their proper context and drawing and understand of the evolution of this most fascinating of mediums. So where to begin? Well, with the first Superhero: Superman!
Golden Age (1938 - 1950)
Superman was created in 1933 by two teens: Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Published in the Action Comics #1 in 1938 Superman’s popularity and the popularity and viability of comics as an art form exploded and started what is now known as the Golden Age of Comics. Many of today’s most iconic heroes were created in that time as well: Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Captain America to name a few. During this time the archetypes of the superhero were tested and defined and shaped. Due to the onset of World War II comics also gained popularity as cheap, easy to carry tales of good triumphing over evil popular with both soldiers on the front as they were with their audiences back home. Other genres of comic book story telling also began to appear: western, horror, and romance all made splashes in the new exciting medium. However, following World War II the popularity of the once thriving superhero comic had taken a dive, resulting in a further diversification of genre, and many superhero books were cancelled or changed to other genres.
The Comics Code Authority (1954) In 1954 the United States government was concerned about the effect that comic books were having on children, due to the publication of a book called “The Seduction of the Innocent” by a man called Fredric Wertham. As a result comics publishers entered into self-imposed censorship, lest the government do it for them. The downside of this was that many of the flourishing genres that had more adult audiences such as horror comics, romance comics, war comics etc. were greatly diminished and often left by the way side as publisher’s returned to Superhero comics – money makers they knew would still be popular and able to abide by the code.
Silver Age (1956-1970)
The Silver Age of Comic Books was the second period that marked the success and significant change in the American comics’ scene, once again within the superhero genre. The Golden Age, though full of important writers and artists, had rarely seen them given proper credit for their work as creators and the Silver Age thus resulted in creators becoming more widely known as writers and artists pushed for further recognition. Indeed, the Silver Age contained many writers and artists who both defined and defied expectations about comic book art, structure, and writing. The Silver Age is said to begin with the introduction of the new Flash – the one we know today. This was because many Golden Age heroes (with the exceptions of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman) had lapsed in their publication and the publisher wished to update them for the modern audiences – The Flash, Green Lantern and others were to be published by DC comics as new more atomic age versions of these heroes. This was also ground zero for Marvel Comics, with Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko putting together a deliberate shared universe – though DC’s characters all
existed in the same universe this was because DC tended to buy other companies and their characters rather than creating a universe that was as deliberate and realistic as Marvel’s. Almost all of Marvel’s classic characters got their start here: Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor, the X-Men, Ant-Man, Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and even Captain America (dusted off from his cancellation to lead the Avengers). Many of the characters of the era were imbued with a positive can-do type of attitude, and many of the more quirky and most classic wacky or weird “comic book” type stories emerged from this era, like when Superman’s best friend Jimmy Olsen became a woman for one story. The Silver Age’s nominal end was the death of Spider-Man’s then girlfriend Gwen Stacey, representing an end to the innocence and light hearted feel of that age.
The Bronze Age of Comic Books began around 1970 and is used to reference the change in tone in comics from the more light hearted tone of the Silver Age stories, to stories that dealt with more realistic problems such as drug abuse, alcoholism, and even racism. Though the attempts were noble the execution at the start was often clumsy but by the mid 80’s comics were dealing with more complex issues with increasing deftness and were starting to come out of the self-censored shell from which they had retreated.
The Modern Age of Comic Books runs from 1985 till the current date. During this time comics and their characters have become darker and more psychologically complex and the rise of independent publishers, perhaps best exemplified by Image Comics and its flagship series The Walking Dead, have shown that the comics medium still has much potential left untapped. During this time creators have, fortunately, gained both more rights and recognition and comic creators are now often gather fanbases of their own that rival even some of the characters they right. The maturing of comics as an artistic medium in the hands of such talented creators as Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, Jim Lee, Todd MacFarlane, Matt Fraction, Greg Rucka, David Aja, Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale, Warren Ellis, Mark Millar, Bryan Hitch, Frank Quietly, John Romita Jr, Darwyn Cooke and many other talented creators was a blessing in terms of allowing comics to explore themes and ideas as thoroughly as any other artistic medium (the comics code was abandoned by all publishers by 2011). The downside of this is that many publishers and creators mistook “mature” for “dark and gritty” and included violence for violence’s sake thinking that it auto-
This isn’t to say that stories from the Silver Age weren’t great – they were – but the Bronze Age marked the start from when creators could start to explore their medium once again and examine themes and images that would have previously been too taboo. The Bronze Age also saw the revival of the X-Men under writer Chris Claremont and artists Dave Cockrum and John Byrne. Exploding in popularity due to their superhero soap meshed with action and minority metaphor the X-Men, defunct since the late 60’s, were back as a pop culture force to stay. Another important milestone from this time was the publishing of the first true “graphic novel” – that is a story told in a sin-
gle volume as told by comics – by the legendary Will Eisner. This was followed by Art Spiegelman’s Maus, the only comic yet to win a Pulitzer Prize. Slowly coming back to the medium were more and more indie and self-published comics, slowly making waves in the pond that was now dominated by Marvel and DC. The shift from the Bronze Age to the Modern age is often regarded as just before the seminal works Watchmen and the Dark Knight Returns, which fulfilled the promise of more mature storytelling from the Bronze Age.
matically conferred adulthood on the young medium. This resulted in a glut of comics trying to ride the darker themed fad, masquerading as mature. The comics industry itself almost crashed in the mid 90’s with the speculator boom (Google it) causing comics to be sold and ordered at more than their actual worth was. Thankfully the industry survived, but not without learning that printing glow in the dark foil exclusive first issues might not be the best way to further the medium. From the mid 90’s onward time creator owned work from Image (founded by 5 disgruntled super star artists who were not happy with their treatment at Marvel) and Vertigo (owned by DC comics but allowed almost total creative freedom) saw the start of a renaissance in non-superhero comics, among the most famous being Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, Garth Ennis’ Preacher, Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan, and Brian K. Vaughn’s Y: The Last Man. Over time the field of non-superhero comics has flourished and many
excellent and diverse indie perform well on the market, the outstanding success story that is The Walking Dead being the ultimate validation of creator driven content and allow comics freedom of expression. Hopefully little jaunt in the way back machine has given you fresh insight into the world of comics and got you more interested in maybe some more classic stories, or perhaps some of the more modern indie comics. Whatever it is you want to read, go on down to your local comic shop and ask the staff. They’ll fix you up!
Written by Alex Holmes
What makes a good Comic Book Film? You might want to know my criteria before you read: a good comic book film is true to its base but is not beholden to them, and adapts them well for the medium of cinema. Movies, drawing on the rich history of the characters, are often able to synthesize some of the best stories together to create new exciting tales, or to offer old tales told in a different way.
The Dark Knight (2008) Directed by Christopher Nola
The Dark Knight needs no introduction. The best comic book film, and a fantastic film in its own right, Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece weaves iconic performances from the entire cast with breathtaking action and a subtle but ultimately deep look into what makes Batman important as well as a plethora of post 9/11 security issues. The Dark Knight was lightning in a bottle, one of those so hard to come by pop culture “moments”. It was the movie everyone saw and talked about when it came out. It solidified Nolan’s reputation as a maker of high concept blockbusters, and proved that mature writing
and themes had a place in blockbusters and in comic book movies. This was the movie that proved definitively that movies based on comic books, and even superheroes, could be elevated to true artistic greatness with the right vision. Not since Star Wars has a blockbuster film been more critically and culturally significant, nor its impact so important to the rest of the movie making world.
(1978) Directed by Richard Donner This was it, the first real Superhero movie, and with what better character start with than the legend himself, Superman? It appears to be one of cinema’s great ironies that a character that is so often claimed as “hard to get right” by DC and Warner, and has since seen so many misfires in film, was actually nailed in this movie. Director Richard Donner put his heart and soul into this film was able to make you believe a man could fly all the way back in 1978 with special effects that hold up if you squint, an iconic score from John Williams and the benefit of having Superman play himself. Well star Christopher Reeve might not have actually been Superman but he captured the character’s humanity, heart, integrity, grace and total and utter goodness in a way that was not camp but totally genuine. There is yet to be a Superman movie better and arguably few other better superhero movies that are better at all.
(2004) Directed by Sam Raimi Spider-Man 2 manages to do what Richard Donner’s Superman did all the way back in 1978 – take a perfectly realised version of the character and place them on the silver screen. Sam Raimi’s direction brings to life Spidey’s New York to life, direct from the Silver Age of comics. Each character is almost perfectly cast, with Tobey Maguire, Alfred Molina and JK Simmons in particular putting in iconic performances. A magnetic yet sympathetic villain in Aflred Molina’s Doctor Octopus offers a great contest for Peter, and really puts him on the ropes. Raimi turns Peter Parker’s story into what it should be – a larger than life story about how with great power comes great responsibility. Peter’s struggle to live a normal life and carry on his Spiderific heroics is a key theme of the film and it’s Peter, the everyman, the shy nerd, who is willing to give up everything he holds dear to honour the memory of his Uncle Ben shows us who a true hero is.
(2012) Directed by Joss Whedon Joss Whedon managed to achieve what none had previously thought possible – he assembled the Avengers. Putting Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Nick Fury all in the same film was a gutsy move on Marvel’s part but Joss Whedon set cinematic precedent buy not only pulling the movie of, but buy exploding the Avengers into the collective pop culture consciousness of the world. The banter is witty, the heroes are flawed in true Marvel style, the action is outstanding, and the share epic feel and joy of a shared universe finally
merging in a way few thought would ever happen is palpable. The entire cast on are their finest form, but it is Tom Hiddleston that steals the show as a fantastically villainous Loki. Whedon expertly balances all the heroes tales so none feel though as they truly steal the movie, and the result is a superb superhero team up. Avengers isn’t perhaps the deepest superhero film out there, but is a true joy to watch and insanely fun.
X-Men First Class
(2011) Directed by Matthew Vaughn The X-Men movies have always been, an admittedly imperfect, parable for minorities. None have succeeded more in bringing this analogy to the fore than the wonderful X-Men first class. Directed with an intense energy by Mathew Vaughn, the time is the 60’s and a young Xavier and Magneto are the focus. By distilling the X-Cast (and relegating Wolverine to an excellent cameo) Vaughn is able to really hit hard with his points whilst still providing a film that is part superhero movie, part classic Bond, and part civil rights film and all regenisis of the X-franchise. Powering this movie are James MacAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Xavier and Magneto respectively. Each are able to find new depth and nuance to their characters both solo and in their fantastic bromance relationship. By taking pre-existing characters in a new direction X-Men First Class tells an exciting and relevant story. It also gave us hope and a burning desire for a “Magneto: Nazi Hunter” spinoff film series. Make it happen, Fox.
(2008) Directed by Jon Favreau There are a few watersheds in comic book movie history. X-Men, Spider-Man and Batman Begins all heralded something important within the making of comic book films. Iron Man didn’t break any significant moulds in terms of film making, but it did herald what we now know as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Iron Man, along with The Incredible Hulk, was a test by the new Marvel Studios to see if the world was going to welcome its brand of comic book movies. Audiences ate it up. Robert Downey Jr. turned in a character and career defining performance as Tony Stark and Director John Favearu delivered a movie with fantastic dialogue, great action, exciting characters, tangible sense of freshness and a surprising amount of comic book sensibility. The stinger at the end was a huge shock and delight for fans, but Iron Man made movie goers aware of the former B-List hero and catapulted Tony Stark and Robert Downey Jr into the stratosphere, taking the fledgling Marvel Universe along with it.
8. V for Vendetta
(2005) Directed by James McTeigue Perhaps the only decent adaptation of legendary comic scribe Alan Moore’s work (his other brilliant works turned to Hollywood pulp include From Hell and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), V for Vendetta at least makes up for the others by being a compelling and moving movie about the nature of the power of ideas, and the natures of the powerful and the powerless. Despite being hidden throughout the entire movie beneath the now iconic Guy Fawkes mask, Hugo Weaving delivers a stellar performance as V totally nailing the characters eviscerating and enigmatic way of talking as well as his seductive and mysterious charm. Natalie Portman is on fine form as audience stand in Eve and they are joined by a plethora of fantastic British actors including John Hurt and Stephen Fry. Taking on an adaptation of a tale of a modern day fascist Britain is pretty brave as far as blockbusters go, but changing various plot elements and transforming the story into something new but just as valid and important is wholly impressive feat in of itself. If you want to know why the Guy Fawkes mask is so popular, start here.
(2005) Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller Comics are a visual medium that most don’t realise the potential of. Frank Miller is not one of those people – his self-pencilled and written series “Sin City” was a neo noir classic and a visually striking one at that with his white lines on black backgrounds. Robert Rodriguez made the wise choose to enlist Miller as his co-director for this adaptation of an anthology of Millers stories. Filled with hot dames, hero cops, anti-hero murders who wear red converse sneakers, deadly prostitutes, and a ton load of sweet coats Sin City is a visual feast for the eyes that does what Miller’s comic did best: synthesize the best elements of noir and hardboiled detective fiction into something that is both familiar and fresh. If you don’t like you stories narrated with a sharp dry wit, your ladies hot, or your violence explicit then you won’t enjoy. Otherwise, Sin City is a damn good treat.
X2: X-Men United (2003) Directed by Brian Singer
X2: X-Men United is the definitive film version of the classic X-Men team. Adapting the acclaimed story of “God Loves, Man Kills” by Chris Claremont, X2 sees the team joining up with Magento to save the world from Col. Stryker. More than ever before the X-Men have to fight against the very people they are trying to save, and they have to fight harder than ever before to save themselves from the same people. The entire cast puts in classic performances but its Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine who steals the spotlight. A wonderful script – who can forget that great line “Have you tried not being a mutant?” – is X2’s secret weapon. Combined with great action and high stakes X2 is a classic X-Men film like no other. The energy and originality of First Class might make it a superior movie, but if you want a great take on the comics in the same vein as Spider-Man and Superman then X2 supplies you in spades.
(2012) Directed by Pete Travis Dredd isn’t ashamed of its source material, and nor does it try to hide it. Set in the dystopian world of Mega-City 1 Dredd follows the titular Judge Dredd on endless quest to dispense justice. However on a training session with a rookie Dredd gets trapped inside a 200 story apartment block and has to fight his way to the top to get out. This movie isn’t going for deep and meaningful but it sure as heck piles on the fantastic action. This movie doesn’t shy away from the character’s violent roots – Dredd is a violent violent man and his movie suits him as such with its copious amounts of blood and bullet wounds. Karl Urban delivers an understand but pitch perfect performance as everyone’s favourite Judge, his scowling voice and face never crossing into parody or ridicule despite the character’s previous cinematic outing (who could forget Stallone’s awful I AM THE LAW?). There’s a drug everyone takes in the movie just to slow down time, and that’s fine because the slowed down action scenes look great too. Dredd performed poorly at the cinemas but has found new lease on DVD and Blu-ray. Go grab a copy to support the campaign for a sequel and get not just a fantastic comic book movie, but also a great action flick like they just don’t make anymore.
Written by Alex Holmes
Paper vs. Pixels and Beyond “The time’s they are a changin’”, wise words from Bob Dylan back in 1964. Words that are still very much applicable to everything in the world today, including comic books. It is an ever changing, evolving medium that is enjoyed by billions of people every year. Like most things these days, it has reached a very interesting and pivotal cross-roads in this age of technology. Paper or digital distribution? Books are now moving into digital formats. E-Readers, iPads and Kindles make it more convenient to buy, read and store your personal library. With the cost of living rising and storage harder to come by, you can see why these options are appealing. But the effects are clear. Stores like Bor-
However, it is my personal opinion that this is the wrong way to go about reading them. You can watch movies on your phone, but you should go to a cinema to experience the film in it’s intended space. You can take photos on your phone, but you should just use a camera for optimum picture quality. You can text your mum for her birthday, but you should call her for the personal touch, because you are not a terrible son or daughter, right? But enough about phones. The point is, comics should be read in a paper format, otherwise you are simply not getting the real experience. For example, a comic book is really a thing of beauty. They have their own smell, their own feel. It is
can only read frame by frame, on my iPad Mini. But... I can’t show you right now because it’s battery went flat.”. There is something tangible about print. It’s like comparing vinyl to MP3’s. It’s there, in your hands. Digital versions never gain value, they never gain rarity, they simply exist. They can be deleted or can become corrupted. The physical copy (when treated right) will never lose value; it will never stop being that great, exciting item you picked up. The other major issue is comic books are not the size of an iPad, they are much bigger. You can’t truly appreciate them frame by
“THE PHYSICAL COPY (WHEN TREATED RIGHT) WILL NEVER LOSE VALUE; IT WILL NEVER STOP BEING THAT GREAT, EXCITING ITEM YOU PICKED UP.” ders and Angus & Robertson have been closing doors nationwide over the last few years. Digital distribution isn’t the only cause for this, online shopping is certainly taking it’s toll on retailers. In the case of comic books, there has been a massive shift. In Australia, comic book stores are few and far between, so digital copies of comics have become many people’s way to get their comic book fill.
something to be treasured, looked after and passed on. Collecting comics is a great hobby. Frankly, being able to say to your associates, “I just picked up a copy of the fifty year old Fantastic 4 Annual #2, in near mint condition with only miner crimping for my epic and amazing comic book collection”, is much more impressive than saying, “I just got a crapy scan of Fantastic Four Annual #2 that I
frame. You need to see the whole page laid out. Artists don’t design the comic to be read the way comic book apps allow you to read them. Splash pages, (full two page art spreads, for those of you who don’t know) can only be fully appreciated when you can see both pages of art at one time. It’s just not doing the artist justice by trying to view them on a handheld device.
Whenever I try to think about this issue, Jim Steranko’s run on “Nick Fury: Agent of Shield” comes to mind. Steranko, who is an extremely experimental artist, would often design amazing page layouts, where Nick Fury our hero, would be trapped in a maze. You the reader, would have to navigate your way through a maze printed across two pages by turning the book around and upside down to work out what panel came next. It was highly imaginative, ground breaking work at the time. That comic, on and iPad, would just be no fun at all. The immersiveness of that experience can only be enjoyed with the printed copy, in your hands. It is simply the only way to experience his work. Marvel comics, for a few years now have been doing something pretty great. When you buy your monthly issue of whatever book you are reading, there is a code printed in the back of the issue. This code allows you to download the digital version of the book you just read. So, once you have read the paper version, you can bag and board it, put it safely away in your collection and then you can go on to read it again on your digital device. This is
a great solution the issue at hand, the best of both worlds. As you can tell I am rather passionate about the comic book experience. I have been collecting comics for years and I do feel that they can never truly be appreciated in digital form. That said it can be an expensive hobby. Digital is at least cheaper than paper. But you never really feel as though you get to enjoy the rewards of your hard spent money. For some people though, they simply prefer digital. It’s really a matter of preference. But I implore you. Go out, buy a single comic or collected graphic novel and enjoy it the way it’s meant to be enjoyed. I promise you, it will be a far more rewarding experience. Back to our theme of “time’s changin’”. Where are comics going? I really don’t know. It is a medium that has certainly passed the test of time and I am sure will continue to grow. At the moment the major majority of action films hitting cinemas are based on comic book materials. Geeks are finally out of the basement and lapping it up. Comics are now mainstream, Hollywood style blockbusters. Marvel’s The Avengers, is the third highest grossing film of all time. Iron Man 3 is the fifth highest grossing film of all time.
“THE ONLY THING I AM SURE OF IS COMICS, PRINT OR DIGITAL, THEY ARE HERE TO STAY!” The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises also find themselves amongst the eighteen films ever to make over billion dollars at the international box office. We had Superman return to silver screens last year. Television shows like Marvel’s Agents of Shield and the incredible work being done with Arrow (based on DC’s The Green Arrow) are chewing up the ratings. This is truly the age of the comic book. It’s simple, comic books make great movies. This alone will push the industry further into the future. Comic book sales have been up, fan basses have been growing. People who may never have even thought about picking up a comic book before have been spurred on by wanting to learn more about their new cinematic heroes. Comic book adaptations of other films and television programs have taken off worldwide. Game Of Thrones, Revenge, Dr Who, Star Wars, Conan The Barbarian, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Jay And Silent
Bob, Blade Runner, Godzilla, Evil Dead, Alien and Predator (just to name a few) are all enjoying prolonged comic book spin-offs and tie-ins. It’s a booming cross-media extravaganza! It is all going off for comic books worldwide at the moment. The future may be far away, but it is looking bright. Even with my damning opinion of digital comics, at least it’s a way for these texts to reach people and keep the industry going. So, when you walk out of theatres this week, after seeing Captain America: The Winter Soldier or The Amazing Spider-Man 2 go pick up the comic book and like your forefathers, feel the paper, smell the ink, expand your mind and read all about your heroes. The only thing I am sure of is comics, print or digital, they are here to stay!
Written by Scott F. Sowter
Doomwar (Marvel Comics) “Event Comics” as they are known are huge, multi character crossovers, that may span several months of the comic book cycle. Marvel Comics typically does one a year, events like Civil War, Siege, House Of M, Age Of Ultron, Avengers Vs XMen, just to name a few. Big stories that usually effect the universe as a whole. One of the more obscure ones, is Doomwar. Doomwar tells the story of the occupation of Wakanda. Wakanda is a (fictional) nation in Africa, home to The Black Panther. A great Marvel hero who was the first ever African or Black character ever to grace comics. A groundbreaking achievement for Marvel Comics in a time of racial tension in the United States. The Black Panther became a hero to African-American citizens. The Black Panther resides in Wakanda, a powerful nation, with advanced technology and home to the worlds only, large, supply of vibranium, the same material that Captain America’s shield is made out of. Wakanda is also the only nation on Earth never to be conquered... Till now. The only man crazy enough to invade Wakanda and succeed, Marvel’s big bad, Victor Von Doom, aka Doctor Doom. That’s right, after hundreds of years of being free, Dr Doom takes over Wakanda, his goal, to take the vibranium for himself. To
make an indestructible suit and rule the world (as most super-villains do). Doomwar is one of those simple guilty pleasure reads. It is a fun, flowing storyline that grabs you from the start and is very easy to consume. It brings together many of the Marvel Universe’s characters together to face a common foe. It is one of those great over the top stories that will certainly entertain, but ultimately does little for the intellect, not that there is anything wrong with that. Jonathan Maberry creates a fun tale, that keeps a great pace and never becomes boring. Scot Eaton’s art is
just sensational. A great, polished art style that became very popular in the late 90’s, early 2000’s at Marvel and really does work for this story. It creates an over the top, fun vibe that never lets up throughout it’s action packed storyline. Doomwar might not be one of the best comics you ever read. But it will leave you smiling.
Written by Scott F. Sowter
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“MY ALL TIME FAVORITE SUPERHERO IS MARVEL’S HARDHITTING, KREE-INFUSED POWERHOUSE, CAROL DANVERS, A.K.A THE NEW CAPTAIN MARVEL.” I have a lot of love to share around a variety of comic book heroes, but when asked my favourite, there is no second thought. My all time favorite superhero is Marvel’s hard-hitting, Kreeinfused powerhouse, Carol Danvers, A.K.A the new Captain Marvel.
she calls out Tony Stark on his absurdity, and her snarky conversations with her best friend Spider Woman.
While the former air force pilot turned Avenger has gone through a number of code names (including Warbird, Binary, and my personal favourite, Cheeseburger), it was her change from Ms. to Captain caught my attention. I had always liked Carol, and I was extraordinarily pleased to see her finally inheriting the legacy she has rightfully deserved for so long. Her latest title, helmed by the extraordinarily talented Kelly Sue Deconnick, quickly elevated Captain Marvel from a character I liked, to being my undisputed favourite.
Carol Danvers has suffered through tremendous adversity through the years. Whether through circumstance or misogynistic writing (or both), Carol’s life has had hard times and low moments. But what makes her so amazing is that she refuses to let these moments hold her back. I admire Captain marvel because in the wake of a difficult life, she is always fighting to be the best she can be. She tells us we can all fight to be best we can be.
It’s hard to pin down exactly what I love about the good Captain Whizbang. Her love of Stars Wars and her cat (appropriately named Chewie) come to mind, as I can surely relate. I love that
But what I admire about her the most is her perseverance.
I admire Captain Marvel because she tells the vastly under represented female comic community that they can punch holes in the sky.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE SUPERHERO/ COMIC CHARACTER & WHY? INDUSTRY COMMENT.. “SPIDER-MAN HAS SURVIVED AND THRIVED OVER THE LAST 52 YEARS..” “Spider-Man, Spider-Man does whatever a Spider can.” ..... A cartoon theme song does not get any better than this. If you were a young child in the late 60’s or early 70’s you could not help singing this song out loud as you pretended to shoot imaginary webs out of your hands, taking aim at your brothers or sisters and annoying your parents no end. Along side reading the latest edition of Amazing Spider-Man comic book, bought from your local newsagent for 15 or 20c, it sums up my introduction to the greatest comic book character ever created Spider-Man. Spider-Man has survived and thrived over the last 52 years since his creation in 1962 by writer Stan Lee and Artist Steve Ditko. They gave a voice to the awkward young teenagers all over the world and brought realism and relevance to characters by giving them real life problems, such as family issues, school bullying and young teenage drama. Any young reader could lose themselves in the part of Spider-Man’s real life alter ego Peter Parker and embark on an adventure against the Green Goblin or the Lizard while still sitting in the safety of their own lounge room. I am now reaching my 50th year on this planet and have seen Spider-Man become even more popular than ever before. Movies, games, figures and of course comic books have seen Spider-Man grow into an iconic figure now known all around the world. It seems as though SpiderMan has always been there and as long as there are young kids running around spinning webs any size there will always be a Spider-Man. Nuff said.
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“SUPERMAN IS MORE THAN THE SUM OF HIS POWERS.” My favourite superhero is Superman. Why? Maybe surprisingly enough it’s not even about the powers, abilities don’t make the man. Superman is more than the sum of his powers. He challenges our ideas of what it means to be a hero. Forget for a second that it’s the greatest fantasy in the world, I remember in the 1978 Richard Donner film Superman said something that resonated with me, “I never lie” although I knew I’d never be able to shoot heat vision out of my eyes, the man was someone I could aspire to be!
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WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE SUPERHERO/ COMIC CHARACTER & WHY? INDUSTRY COMMENT.. “..THIS UNKNOWN ASPECT IS WHAT DREW ME TO ADAM AND HIS STORY.” Much like John Carter, Adam Strange was an ordinary guy, until one day he was hit by a mysterious light known as a Zeta-beam which transported him to a world called Rann. A planet in need of a protector from alien threats. Taking up arms, Adam grew to love this new world and fell in love with a native, Alanna (naturally). But ultimately and without warning, the zeta-beam would transport him back to earth. This unknown aspect is what drew me to Adam and his story, the idea that at any point the extraordinary could happen and then suddenly it could all be taken away. So why is Adam Strange my fav hero? Because he not only deals with this loss as a man, but lives with the hope that he’ll return and be the hero. The man of change, the man of 2 worlds! The lesson? Life is precious! Appreciate what you have now, because you never know when a zeta-beam will take you away from it.
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“I’M GONNA HAVE TO GO WITH DOCTOR DOOM AS MY PERSONAL CHOICE.” I’m gonna have to go with Doctor Doom as my personal choice. He’s a character who has walked a fine line between outright villainy and surprising virtue at times, is always a compelling thorn in the side of whoever he goes up against, and has the ability to completely change the world if he so chooses. Plus c’mon, any classic comic book character should always refer to themselves in the third person right?
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Super Mario.. Super Hero or funny little plumber? Who says heroes have to wear capes, be faster then a speeding bullet and be able to fly? Why can’t a cute little Italian plumber who wears red and blue be a hero. Well to some he is. Mario repeatedly saves Princess Peach from Bowser and battles other enemies such as Donkey Kong and Wario. But where did our smaller hero originate? This month we decided to take a look at Mario and find out a bit more about one of the most loved video game icons of all time. Mario was created by Japanese video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto and since then has appeared in 200 video games, in movies and books. Miyamoto created Mario whilst working on Donkey Kong. He wanted to create a character that would be remembered and was originally named Mr Video. The name Mario, came from the warehouse landlord Mario Segale, so the story goes and originally was a carpenter when he first appeared in the Donkey Kong game. In the game, Mario Bros, his occupation was changed to plumber to fit with the game story. With a big nose, Italian accent and moustache, Mario resembled a plumber and so the new occupation suited perfectly. Mario’s game debut was in 1981 where he appeared in the Donkey
Kong games as Jumpman. In 1982 the character was renamed as Mario for the game Donkey Kong Junior. In 1983 the game Mario Bros featured Mario and brother Luigi who had to battle creatures from the New York sewers. When the Nintendo 64 arrived, Mario appeared for the first time in 3D in the game, Super Mario 64. The game was widely acclaimed and went on to be the best selling N64 game selling over 11 according to VG Chartz. The game sees Mario being invited by Princess Peach to her castle for cake but then finds that Bowser has imprisoned her. Mario then has to explore the castle and using paintings on the wall to transport himself to other worlds, he recovers enough stars to eventually battle with Bowser. Mario has been a busy character and has appeared in a huge number of games. There’s a list here if you have an hour or two spare. Mario also has appeared both on TV and movies. There was the Super Mario Bros. Super Show and the movie, Super Mario Bros featuring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo. Sadly the movie didn’t fair so well with critics or at the box office. The
little plumber also appeared in a series of Nintendo Gamebooks that were published between 1991 and 1992. Mario has been the backbone of Nintendo for many years and perhaps now the little plumber, more then ever, needs to come to the rescue. Nintendo had a tough year in 2013 with the Wii U not selling in huge numbers and facing strong competition from tablets, smartphones and the new systems from Microsoft and Sony. Will Mario save the day? Only time will tell, But one thing is certain, Mario is loved by gamers all over the world wether he’s in a game, or on a shelf as a toy or collectable.
MARIO AT GAMETRADERS! 7” PLUSH
The Witch & The Hundred Knight When I first saw the trailer for ‘The Witch and the Hundred Knight’, I was pretty excited to say the least. A Nippon Ichi Software game that combines elements from rogue like games (Diablo, Torchlight) and JRPGs can only be amazing right, dood? Unfortunately, this mix of influences feels as though it has proven too much for NIS to handle, as The Witch and the Hundred Knight won’t be received favourably by NIS fans or newcomers. The Witch and The Hundred Knight (which shall be referred to as TWATHK for the sake of brevity) tells the story of Metallia (Metallica in Japan), a power mad witch who is trapped in her swamp realm. She wishes to take over the entire world, but can only hold power in swampy areas, so she plans to expand the
has been sealed away (but for how long?) The player assumes the role of the Hundred Knight throughout the game. Like most RPGs, TWATHK features a tutorial. This tutorial however, perplexes me, as it is unbearably long and TWATHK isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel. Like most other action-RPGs, TWATHK involves running, attacking, dodging and other oft-used gameplay staples, so there isn’t really a need to make a tutorial this long. It does introduce the player to a handful of story elements, such as the Hundred Knight learning absolutely everything about existing. At the start of the tutorial, he can only move, and then learns to talk, and then learns about obedience (or disobedience, depending on the player’s choice), but due to the nature of
Hundred Knight (despite being controlled by the player) is in fact a tool of Metallia’s. It completely misses the mark, but I believe the intentions were there. Thankfully, once you complete the tutorial and the game’s opening quests, the game’s quality dramatically improves. Metallia tasks the Hundred Knight with expanding her realm, through the activation of pillars littered throughout the game’s various locations. These pillars are large plant-like stalks that “bloom” when the player attacks them. The result is an eruption of fluorescent green goo and swamp water that completely changes the surrounding area. The story moves past the pillars (though they are a frequent and constant goal) and onto the rivalry between Metallia and Malia, the
“THE WITCH AND THE HUNDRED KNIGHT MIGHT HAVE SOUNDED LIKE A GREAT IDEA WHEN IT WAS FIRST BEING PLANNED, BUT A SERIES OF POOR DESIGN CHOICES HAVE SUCKED A GREAT DEAL OF THE APPEAL AND FUN OUT OF THE GAME.” swamp across the world. Enter the Hundred Knight, who Metallia has summoned to aid her in her quest. Though he is small in appearance, the knight can wield large weapons and cast powerful magic. He holds even greater power, though it
the tutorial (as well as Metallia) any enjoyment the player might have felt will be lost in frustration. I believe that the tutorial is also meant to go hand in hand with the story, in that it is meant to illustrate that the
Forest Witch. Malia hopes to protect the forest, not because it’s her realm, but because she is a goodhearted person, and cares about living creatures. Metallia despises Malia, though only because she (Metallia) is an evil and twisted per-
son, and Malia stands in her way. The Witch and the Hundred Knight offers a pretty mixed take on actionRPG with some good and bad points that stand out. Firstly, the Hundred Knight has a constantly depleting energy bar, which determines everything from how far he can explore, to how well he can fight and dodge. Everything you do on a mission depletes your Giga calories (often referred to as Gcals) and careful management of your Gcals is crucial to completing some missions. I say some because quite often when you first explore an area there is little to do except for the mission objective itself, and these are quite often easily completed. Re-entering a mission area a second time or more will unlock new areas and paths to
explore, and this is where TWATHK finally begins to feel like an actual RPG. The Hundred Knight is able to wield many weapons and spells, and can level them up simply by using them. Each standard weapon has up to ten levels, and rare weapons have up to 30. Combining this with the unlockable paths and extra areas in missions feels like a rewarding experience to the player, if they dedicate themselves to the game. NIS veterans might expect a fun and charming story involving interesting characters, comedic writing and the occasional immature insult, but just like other key elements to the game, The Witch and the Hundred
Knight gets the execution of these wrong. For one thing, Metallia is a foul-mouthed, bratty and annoying tramp. Her vulgar language might have proven entertaining if it were at least funny, or if she had some redeeming qualities about her, but I felt that no matter the situation, Metallia just infuriated me. She’s a far cry from the likable Laharl from Disgaea, who is both hilarious and that special breed of likeable evil. Visually, The Witch and the Hundred Knight is a major departure from NIS’s usual 2.5D art direction (2.5 being 2D sprites on 3D environments). While I was at first excited to see NIS’s 3D take on an actionRPG, visually, things are quite bland. The environments lack any sort of flair and feel very repetitive, and the same can be said for the game’s monsters (except for perhaps a few of the game’s bosses). To make matter worse, there are quite often times where the environments look unrefined and jagged. I know NIS have less experience with 3D graphics than other developers, but a mushroom is meant to be round and smooth, not jagged and/or grainy. The Witch and the Hundred Knight might have sounded like a great idea
when it was first being planned, but a series of poor design choices have sucked a great deal of the appeal and fun out of the game. With that being said, action-RPG fans might find the nutty NIS sense of humour and design a refreshing take on a genre that quite often fails to find innovation and originality. An ambitious game from a developer with such deeply-rooted design traditions was bound to be met with a few problems, and should a sequel be announced, I’m confident that NIS will improve upon the Witch and the Hundred Knight’s mixed results.
Written by Nick Getley
Breaks NIS tradition with an ambitious new franchise
CONS • • •
Under-developed story and characters Bland graphics
Poorly executed gameplay features.
Professor Layton Vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney The Professor Layton and Ace Attorney series are both game series known for their plot-driven stories and puzzle-orientated gameplay. It’s only natural that these two series should cross-over due to being a perfect match, and that is exactly what Level-5 and Capcom decided to do with Professor Layton Vs Phoenix Wright. The story begins on a stormy night in modern day London. Archaeologist Professor Hershel Layton and his assistant Luke Triton are stuck in the Professor’s study solving puzzles waiting for the weather to clear up when a mysterious girl shows up at their door. She introduces herself as Espella Cantabella, and informs them she was sent by Carmine, one of the professor’s former students, and that only the professor can help
man known as the Storyteller. After she explains her ordeal, one of the witches breaks into the study and kidnaps her. Layton and Luke decide to go and search for her, where they encounter the Scotland Yard (British police) and help them with the investigation of an unusual car crash. During this investigation, they find Espella and help her escape from the witches, only to be sucked into the mysterious Historia Labrynthia. Elsewhere, Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright and his assistant Maya Fey are in England on the Legal League of Attorneys exchange program. As luck would have it, Phoenix ends up having to defend someone in court, much to his annoyance. Oddly enough, the defendant is none other than Espella, who does not seem to remember anything of the incident (nor what happened to her prior). As
food while testifying. After winning the case, Phoenix and Maya see that Espella dropped the Historia Labrynthia, and they, like Layton and Luke before, are sucked in too. The professor and Luke wake up in the back of a horse-drawn wagon, where they are taken to the very town depicted in the mysterious book. After arriving in the town they
“PUZZLES SERVE AS THE MAIN ATTRACTION HERE, AND THEY CAN RANGE FROM NICE AND SIMPLE TO TRICKY AND COMPLICATED. HINT COINS CAN BE FOUND, WHICH CAN BE USED TO RECEIVE HINTS ON PUZZLES..” her. Espella tells the duo of how she is being pursued by witches, and how she has a mysterious book in her possession, the Historia Labrynthia; a book about Espella’s hometown of Labrynthia, a strange town whose fate is literally written by a
per the Ace Attorney tradition, Phoenix solve the case in court by crossexamining some amusingly quirky characters that’d fit in perfectly in a regular Ace Attorney game, such as ship’s cook who peels potatoes and attempts to prepare live sea
attempt to investigate, and run into Espella, who remembers the London incident but not anything after it. She takes them to the bakery run by her aunt, and Layton and Luke encounter her two employees: Phoenix Wright and Maya Fey, who seem to have no recollection of their
lives before becoming bakers. Later that night, Espella is walking home in the dark, and when apprehended by two thugs, a mysterious spell is cast, causing them to be incinerated by an inferno. She is arrested by the Knights of the Inquisition and is to be trialled and executed as a witch, and it is up to Phoenix and Layton to save her. The gameplay is split into two kinds. The first kind is based on the gameplay of the Professor Layton series, where you investigate the environment to find clues, talk to people, and solve puzzles. Puzzles serve as the main attraction here, and they can range from nice and simple to tricky and complicated. Hint Coins can be found, which can be used to receive hints on puzzles (and during trials too, a welcome addition), which can be useful if you are stuck on one. Examining certain places can also provide some
dialogue from the characters, but it tends to be rather basic. The other half of the gameplay is the Witch Trials, which play like the court sessions in the Ace Attorney games. In these trials, Phoenix is up against Inquisitor Barnham (think Edgeworth but a tad less smug), where he must convince the judge that his client is innocent by cross-examining witnesses and pointing out contradictions in their testimonies by presenting the appropriate evidence. A new feature that previous court sessions in Ace Attorney lacked is that multiple witnesses testify and are crossexamined at once, allowing offer new strategies such as seeing if one witness’ testimony contradicts another’s. These trials tend to be more difficult than the puzzle sections, and require thinking outside of the box every now and then.
ing voiced for some of the dialogue and immediately ceasing a few text boxes later. The art style is rather charming, featuring 3D modelled characters (a first for the Ace Attorney series but not for Layton) and detailed backgrounds that feature 2D elements on 3D environments. It runs pretty smoothly too, although the frame note noticeably drops in the last chapters of the game.
The game features multiple gorgeously animated cutscenes made by studio BONES, each accompanied by full voice acting. It’s better to watch these with the 3D off however, as sadly, some objects and characters appear to be floating above the ground when it is on, spoiling the immersion. The voice acting is also used in-game too, but appears rather sporadically and only in important moments, causing jarring situations where the characters are be-
The plot is divided into several chapters, which serve to break up the puzzle and trial sections. The plot throws many twists and turns that keep you compelled to play to the end. The final plot twist though, while massive and unexpected, unfortunately feels rather convoluted and leaves a few questions, and it feels as if it does not do the rest of the plot justice. The last chapter also drags on a bit, lasting at least three or four hours, and even when you’ve
Overall, Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright’s first team-up is a solid effort from Level-5 and Capcom. The puzzles and trials are challenging, the story is engaging, and the animated cutscenes are spot-on. It’s a shame though that the ending is somewhat of a sore spot. Here’s hoping the two famous gaming inquisitors team up again in the future.
proved your client is innocent and the final twist is unveiled, you can still have her found guilty if you present any incorrect evidence to later testimonies, which appears to be an oversight of the development team. Additionally, with the exception of a small role of a few Layton characters at the start, no other characters from the Layton or Ace Attorney series appears in the story, which feels like a wasted opportunity. The game also features bonus content, such as concept art and extra episodes, which can be unlocked depending on how many Picarats (basically points gained from puzzles and trial credibility) you earned through the story. These features are nice additions that will provide players with extra content after they’ve finished the main game.
Professor Layton Vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is great game filled with captivating plot twists, beautiful cutscenes, solid voice acting, charming puzzles and devious trials. It offers lots to love for both Layton and Ace Attorney fans, and newcomers will find something to enjoy too. The plot is marred by its final revelations, but aside from that, the game provides a great service to fans and newcomers alike. Any objections?
Written by Jacob Getley
Gorgeous animated cutscenes
Puzzles and CrossExaminations provide a good challenge
Great voice acting
Hint Coins for Trials
CONS • • • •
Voice acting occurs sporadically
3D looks off in cutscenes
Frame rate drops around thirdact Ending is a tad convoluted and drags on a bit
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is a strange beast. It showcases exiting new gameplay for the Metal Gear series, boasts astounding graphics, excellent atmosphere, and plays like a dream. What then, might hold you back from purchasing such an excellent package? To start with the bad: the area GZ deserves the most criticism is in the story department. Though technically a prologue for the next “proper” MGS instalment, MGSV: The Phantom Pain, Ground Zeroes only barely manages to qualify as a prologue – the major events that happen could be summed up in around two or three sentences, and the game feels even more like a epilogue to the last Metal Gear game, Peace Walker, than it does to The Phantom Pain. Speaking of which, what does the light plot offer? Well Big Boss has
Big Boss (AKA Snake) must infiltrate and extract them. The events following set up the coming Phantom Pain in an admittedly grandiose fashion. However, the problem is that for a game franchise that is so (wonderfully, I might add) often concerned with narrative there is very little that happens in Ground Zeroes that hasn’t actually already been revealed by series creator Hideo Kojima or Konami in interviews or trailers. Here in lies part of Ground Zeroes’ dilemma: a short game like this was going to appeal best to hard-core fans like myself, why have most of the plot already revealed, one or two character fates aside? It just makes it that much harder to justify purchasing this game at full price. The story that is presented is compelling enough, but given only a small snippet makes it hard to justify on that reason alone.
“THIRD PERSON SHOOTING CONTROLS HAVE BEEN REFINED TO ALLOW YOU TO SEE THE EFFECTIVE DISTANCE OF YOUR WEAPONS..” gone to Cuba in 1975 (one year after the events of Peace Walker) to rescue two of his compatriots – Chico and Paz, both originally appearing in Peace Walker. They’re both being held at Camp Omega, a Guantanamo Bay like facility in Cuba, and
Fans in the know will also be aware that Kiefer Sutherland (of Jack Bauer fame) has taken over the role of voicing Big Boss from long time actor David Hayter. Suffice to say that Sutherland does a serviceable job, but there’s just not enough narrative
meat here to really gauge whether he measures up as well as the iconic Hayter. To continue with the good: The other reason Kojima has released Ground Zeroes earlier than the Phantom Pain is to allegedly get the players used to the new way to play Metal Gear – does the Gameplay compensate for the lack of narrative content? Well, Metal Gear gameplay has never been better. Taking place in the open world Camp Omega, players are basically left to find the ways to complete their missions in whatever way they choose, though of course the stealthier the better. Big Boss’ transitions between standing running or walking, crouch walking or running, and crawling are all seamless and now occur on the fly. He can now dive instead of the awesome, yet ridiculous roll from previous games. Players can dive from crouching or walking to crawling, or dive across an area and keep the same movement type as before. Third person shooting controls have been refined to allow you to see the effective distance of your weapons, and thankfully first person shooting is much easier and now no longer the mess it was in MGS4. CQC has also taken an additional upgrade with your options now clearly displayed to you when you grab a hold of some-
one, instead of having to remember absurd combinations to get guards to talk. Moving guards is also a lot easier now, Big Boss being able to sling guards (or rescued prisoners) over his shoulder for quick movement of bodies instead of dragging them slowly. Metal Gear veterans will also notice some other big changes to the series – the iconic left and right item and weapon selection bars are now gone with the d-pad and controller buttons doing all your work for you in real time. Also gone are rations – Big Boss now regenerates his health. A controversial new addition called “Reflex Mode” also makes an appearance – when guards are alerted to your presence there is about a 10 second slow time even that gives you the chance to silence them before the alarm is raised. If all this sounds worrying to Metal Gear Veterans then do not fret – the gameplay is the best it’s ever been and despite
the new additions and removals of old control styles the game feels better, and more intuitive than ever. Kojima says he’s finally realised the Metal Gear stealth gameplay he’s always wanted to create with each new game, but with this outing I think might finally achieved dream. And if you really don’t like the addition of “Reflex Mode” it can also be turned off at the main menu. For all its boons the game is almost unforgivably short with the main mission, and only canon story content, clocking at between 90 minutes to 2 hours. The addition of 5 extra ops missions to hone your new gameplay skills on is welcome, but even then new content is exhausted in around a total of 4 hours. You can extend the time by a couple more hours if you’re intent on getting S rankings on all the missions on all difficulties, but that’s a tough ask for most players. To sweeten the deal Konami have dropped the price of MGSV: GZ to $50 retail (theoretically half the normal game price), and that does go some way to making the pill less bitter to swallow. If you’ve never played Metal Gear Solid and you’re looking to get into this seminal series I’d recommend the Legacy Collection if you’ve got a PS3 or the HD Collection if you’re on Xbox. You’ll find at least 3 full games and much more bang for
your buck. If the Phantom Pain is like a full game version of Ground Zeroes, as Kojima contends, the next Metal Gear game will be an instant cassic. However, even with this price drop, MGSV: GZ is a hard game to justify purchasing if you’re anything but the most hard core Metal Gear Solid fan – and if that’s the case you’ve probably got it already.
Written by Alex Holmes
6/10 PROS • •
Great refined gameplay
Mission structures allow for player exploration and experimentation.
Only one story mission
Cost does not justify purchase at release for most gamers
Story that is present is thin
LEGO: The Hobbit How many Lego games are too many Lego games? It seems like fewer and fewer time gets in between each release of the Lego games, and while they haven’t always been great leaps forward, the more recent titles each have their own identity and take on the smash-and-build gameplay found in the series. ‘Lego The Hobbit’ is the latest game in the long-running Lego series, and as you may have guessed, it’s based on the latest two of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. I have to admit, I felt as though I was going to grow tired of the Lego games and probably not enjoy Lego The Hobbit based on my own numerous experiences with the Lego games, but I’m happy to say there is enough unique gameplay on offer here to satisfy
and precious gems. Erebor looks amazing recreated in Lego, and the amount of NPCs gathering gems and wandering about really helps the player get immersed in the game. Players begin the game as Thorin Oakenshield (the dwarf leader from the films) but will quickly come to unlock the other dwarves as well. Each dwarf has their own special ability too. Oakenshield is a combat-centric character, who can unleash a spinning attack similar to Link from The Legend of Zelda. Other dwarves are better at gathering resources, or have the ability to shoot switches with ranged attacks. The characters will prove more useful than characters in previous Lego games, as they come in handy in more situations than before, and can learn more abilities than what they begin with. Sure, Mr Fantastic could
than previous games), gathering and crafting to go hand in hand with the more useful characters. The crafting isn’t difficult, and doesn’t require grinding, and it will appeal to kids who love Minecraft, because it provides a sense of accomplishment for all your smashing, mining and exploration. I’m pretty thorough in exploring games, and it was nice that I could make most solutions to puzzle doors without having to venture too far. As with most other Lego games, multiplayer is guaranteed to get the most out of your game, and all your favourite movie characters are present. There are quite often puzzles that require numerous players, and these are best handled by a pair of friends as opposed to a single player swapping back and forth between different characters.
“..YOUNGER GAMERS MIGHT FIND THEIR ATTENTION SPANS WAINING DUE TO THE LACK OF VARIETY THAT CAN SOMETIMES OCCUR IN LEVELS.” both fans of LoTR and previous Lego games. Lego The Hobbit begins before the major events of the films, when the Dwarves still lived in Erebor, the immense underground city and mine where they gathered their resources
turn into a key, but Bombur can solve puzzles, gather ores, craft keys and hold his own in a fight. Take that Mr Teapot! As I mentioned earlier, there are now additional gameplay elements such as puzzles (different kinds of puzzles
While it might sound like Lego The Hobbit is the perfect game and doesn’t miss a beat, it’s not all diamonds and rubies. For one thing, the games in recent years have taken a more combat-hevay twist, with most boss fights having a puzzle element or method to beat-
ing them. The frustrating overuse of puzzles in previous titles such as Lego Indiana Jones were done away with, at least, until now. Lego The Hobbit on occasion feels out of balance. There are plenty of times where you can go without fighting an enemy for an extended period of time, and younger gamers might find their attention spans waining due to the lack of variety that can sometimes occur in levels. As I’m a grown man I might be underestimating kids these days. Then again, I might be right on the money with my assumptions that if a younger gamer is missing one piece of wood to craft something and they have harvested everything from the area they are in, they might grow bored of Lego The Hobbit quicker than other games..
Written by Kylie Tuttle
PROS • •
New takes on classic Lego gameplay
Goes through both The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Desolation of Smaug, with the third movie possibly as future DLC
CONS • • •
Older Lego fans might find the formula stale, despite new features Occasional misstep in level design
Sampled dialogue from the movies leaves little opportunity for comedy
Deception IV: Blood Ties The Deception series has always been a favourite of mine, though I never thought in my wildest imagination I would be getting a game in the series after Trapt. It’s not the Deception series’ fault, though, but rather some circumstances surrounding it. For one thing, Japanese are nowhere near as popular in the West as they used to be. Another reason is that the Deception games, despite being great fun, are very much a unique type of game, and that in itself can be dangerous in the game’s industry. Despite all these, we gamers are extremely lucky to have a new Deception game, ‘Deception IV: Blood Ties’ just released on the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita. All those human sacrifices must’ve paid off... You can be forgiven for not knowing what the Deception series is, and for that reason, I will quickly explain its premise. Deception is a
forts. A skilled player will link these traps together to form combos, leading to even more Warl rewarded. The series is particularly dark, though there is also a sense of comedy in the game, especially in Deception IV: Blood Ties. Parents, this game isn’t for young children though you yourselves might laugh yourself silly at shooting people out of cannons into fireplaces.
“..AND WHILE THEY MIGHT KNOW THE BASICS, THERE’S A COUPLE OF EXCITING CHANGES TO THE FORMULA TO TAKE NOTICE OF.” series where the player cannot defend themselves against waves of intruders, but can set deadly traps for them instead. When these traps kill the enemy, their souls are sacrificed to a devil, with the player being awarded Warl(currency) for their ef-
Before I get into the heart of my review, I would like to say this: some other websites have stated that Deception IV is “offers the same gameplay as the rest of the series”, apparently without any evolution or refinement. Those people need to
have a boulder dropped on their head, because there is plenty new! As a Deception fan, I couldn’t be happier with Deception IV: Blood Ties. Deception IV casts players as the Devil’s daughter, who under the guidance of her three witch guardians, will learn how to bait and trap human sacrifices in order to resurrect her father. 12 saints sealed away the Devil in what came to be known as the Holy Verses, and Laegrinna (the player) has to obtain the verses in order to accomplish her goal. Throughout her dark journey, Laegrinna will encounter many enemies. Each has their own motives, but their fates will be Laegrinna’s to decide. When I was anime tastic,
I first fired up Deception IV, pleasantly surprised by an cut scene intro. It looks fanand really got me excited
to start the game. The rest of the game’s story is presented with still anime images met with voice acting. It feels a lot better than the almost goofy in-game cut scenes of Trapt, and it allows for much more dialogue to be presented to the player without feeling overwhelming or long-winded. Gameplay-wise, series regulars might feel they already know what to expect in Deception IV: Blood Ties, and while they might know the basics, there’s a couple of exciting changes to the formula to take notice of. Like previous entries in the series, Deception IV sees players unable to directly attack their enemies, but rather setting traps around the game’s various locales. There are ceiling, wall and floor traps as well as environment traps that can be combined for maximum damage
and score. While Deception IV offers the standard three-part combo to begin with, players are free to create their combos from a mix of wall, ceiling and floor traps. For example, you can have three wall traps, two floor traps and a ceiling trap, or any other combination you desire. Where Deception IV really has me hooked though, is the fact you eventually un-
pleting a deadly sequence of events. The chariot knight uppercuts your enemy into the air, and they are then impaled on a spike that adorns the nearby fountain.
In addition to the trap mobiles, Laegrinna can also unlock various abilities to aid her in battle. These aren’t anything too spectacular but they do
Museum Mode - where you can watch recorded replays of your missions and even add laugh tracks, screams and cheers to them before uploading them to YouTube. A pretty cool feature!
Cross-Quest Mode - where you can create your own challenging missions and share them with Deception IV’s online community, or choose to download other player’s created missions.
Free Battle Mode - here you can create missions with any rules you wish. You can even have duplicate enemies, and place enemies in any level you desire. A great mode for practicing with your newly-acquired traps and learning new combos.
Mission Mode - Mission Mode sees the player clear a variety of challenges. Some are simple, and some can be pretty complex. Some can take a while to complete, and others have extremely short time limits. A great mode for honing your skills.
“DECEPTION FANS SHOULDN’T HESITATE TO PICK UP A COPY OF THE GAME, AS SHOULD INEXPERIENCED GAMERS..” lock additional combo slots, meaning you can have three, four, five or six-part combos (get excited, Deception fans!) Unlike the other Deception games though, there are now trap mobiles in place of Trapt’s Dark Illusions, which are pretty much the same thing, though without being secret and frustrating to trigger. The earliest trap mobile you encounter, is a knight/chariot automaton, which drives around its area in a big loop, able to hit players with its weapons and run them over. When an enemy with low health his hit by a trap mobile, a QTE (quick-time-event) begins, with a successful input com-
make a difference and can help players pull through a particularly difficult level. Some of these abilities penalise the player though, so be careful before you buy and use them. Healing can be used three times per level, and doesn’t penalise the player at all, but auto-dodging will result in the player earning half the Warl they would without it. There’s also dash, which allows Laegrinna to sprint away from her enemies, a defensive roll, and the enrage beam, which causes the enemy to recklessly run into traps. In addition to the game’s story (which is pretty lengthy), there are also other numerous game modes:
I only take issue with a few things in Deception IV, the first being the frustration felt from some of the lengthier story mode missions. You can literally spend an hour or two trapt (See what I did there?) on the
same level, because there are times where every time you kill an enemy, another enemy or group arrive at your location to kill you. One mission looked as though there would only be three enemies to face, but I ended up killing around 9, some of the enemies proving to be quite difficult. When this happens, it makes you question whether or not to play another mission, as you may end up stuck unable to save for another hour or two. Another annoyance (and this didn’t annoy me as much previous Deception games) is the constant interruption you will face when playing. If someone enters the level, dies, escapes, or takes off their hat the game feels the need to show you a close up of whatever they are saying. Sure, a lot of these are welcome or satisfying (particularly when you defeat a really annoying enemy) but they can also cause you to miss the timing of arming your traps, usually resulting in you receiving a broadsword to the back of the head. They can also stop you from running away from an enemy, and if you aren’t quick on your sticks, you will probably be set on fire, lose direction or receive a broadsword somewhere else.
Visually, Deception IV: Blood Ties is a dramatic leap forward since Trapt on the PS2. While this may sound obvious, far too often Japanese developers lag behind in the visual department. Deception IV might not wow people like other recent titles, but it is a decent looking game, with a balance between normal 3D graphics and cell-shading, the cellshading complementing the animestyle cut scenes.
8.5/10 PROS •
Deception IV: Blood Ties stays faithful to the series’ roots while offering a few welcome tweaks to the formula. Deception fans shouldn’t hesitate to pick up a copy of the game, as should inexperienced gamers looking for a different type of strategy game.
Written by Nick Getley
A unique take on actionstrategy
Rewarding and fun game play Dark and disturbing, should appeal to fans of games like Manhunt.
Lengthy missions can be frustrating
The camera can be testing on occasions
Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition When Dynasty Warriors 2 released 14 years ago, they very much seemed state-of-the-art. Huge battlefields, intense action and a staggering amount of enemies on screen at once made the series an instant classic, akin to a modern day Golden Axe or Double Dragon. It can be hard to constantly please fans and critics with each release, and it seems that the Warriors games have had their fair share of bad games as well as well-received ones. The latest release in the series is ‘Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition’ for the PlayStation 4 and the PS Vita, and it combines the standalone Dynasty Warriors 8 with its Xtreme Legends expansion
Dynasty Warriors casts players are various soldiers that belong to different forces during the troubled Three Kingdoms era of China. Once, China was divided into various states, with three different forces (Wei, Wu and Shu) all vying for control. Dynasty Warriors is an action-heavy action series, with a few sprinklings of RPG elements. In it, players will unlock new costumes, equipment, and advance in experience levels as rewards for their bravery and skill in combat. While it may sound like a boring history lesson, the series is well-known for its larger-than-life (okay, superhuman) characters and events. Throughout your time with Dynasty Warriors you will dispatch
“..QUITE POSSIBLY THE BEST DYNASTY WARRIORS GAME IN THE SERIES.” as well as some brand new content. Is this a triumphant entry in the longrunning series? Or will fans be disappointed?
New to Dynasty Warriors? Read this intro! Okay, so not everyone will be familiar with Dynasty Warriors, and for that reason I will introduce the two of you. A retelling of the beloved book, Romance of the Three Kingdoms,
countless foes in a number of very stylish ways. If you’ve ever wanted to experience what its like to be a legendary hero, the Dynasty Warriors games can provide that experience.
So what’s new in Xtreme Legends Complete Edition? Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends Complete Edition adds a number of new features, most notably an entire
campaign dedicated to the legend of Lu Bu and his companions, as well as an extra EX-attack for every character (EX-attacks are special attacks unique to each character that follow up a charge attack). There are also 5 new characters (bringing the total number to 82), as well as several tweaks to existing characters. What kind of tweaks? Well for one thing, most clone characters have been eliminated or given their own unique combos, weapons and musou moves. This makes for a refreshing change from past Warriors games where several characters were identical to each other. DW8XLCE retains a lot of the best features introduced in previous games, such as Dynasty Warriors 7 and Dynasty Warriors 8. The “three-point” system returns, where weapons contain either an affinity of Heaven, Earth or Man. These three elements act in a “Rock, Paper, Scissors” fashion, and can trigger several abilities during combat. When you hold an advantage over a certain type of enemy, you can trigger a Storm Rush, which is a flurry of overpowered rapid-fire strikes. It makes whooping the tar out of a weaker enemy feel more satisfying than a tedious and regular fight. If you are at a disadvantage in a fight, you are given the opportunity
to counter your enemies charge attacks and get a few uninterrupted hits into them. To put things bluntly, Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends contains more strategy and depth than any previous entry in the series. Long-time fans will be delighted by the new features and newcomers will find the game more accessible without being too daunting. Also new (though it should be expected) is the graphical upgrade on the PS4 version of the game. While it isn’t a dramatic leap, the processing power of the PlayStation 4 does mean that the game has a greater draw distance, improved graphics, and is capable of delivering an experience which I believe to be more faithful to Omega Force’s original vision. When I played as Lu Bu, I was launching numerous enemies into the air, some of them didn’t stop flying until they hit the castle wall some 50 metres away from me. Enemies don’t disappear before they hit the ground (or shortly after), and overall the scenery and characters are much more crisp and defined than ever before. It won’t “wow” most non-Dynasty Warriors fans,
but series regulars will appreciate DW8XLCE’s pretty coat and newlyfound draw distance. I wasn’t a fan of Dynasty Warriors 6, 7, the Fist of the North Star spinoff or the Dynasty Warriors Gundam spinoff, but both Dynasty Warriors 8 and Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends Complete Edition have impressed me greatly. So much so that I would say that DW8XLCE is quite possibly the best Dynasty Warriors game in the series. There are a ton of characters and new maps, as well as strategy and depth for those who wish to truly dive into the game. All I need now is a new Samurai Warriors game or a character creator so I can make my own mark on ancient China.
Written by Nick Getley
PROS • •
Great value for its price
Great graphics & presentation
inFamous Second Son Sucker Punch games have a reputation for turning out quality games. After their debut title, Rocket Robot on Wheels (on Nintendo 64), the studio was quickly snapped up by Sony, and they then went on to create the beloved Sly Cooper series on the PlayStation 2. Their next series, Infamous, became an instant classic on the PlayStation 3, and fans have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of ‘Infamous: Second Son’ on the PlayStation 4 since its announcement in February 2013. Infamous: Second Son has finally arrived, and while players would be correct to assume that it offers similar gameplay as previous Infamous titles, it also manages to refine that gameplay and offer up the best Infamous experience yet.
seven years after the events of the previous Infamous games, including the death of Cole MacGrath. During this time, the Department of Unified Protection is formed with the goal of protecting the public from Conduits, who they label as “bio-terrorists”. At the beginning of the game, Delsin is vandalising a billboard of his brother (and being arrested for it) when a prison van containing three Conduit prisoners crashes nearby. Reggie runs off to investigate and Delsin drags a Conduit survivor out of the flaming vehicle before it kills them. Upon touching him, powers are awakened in Delsin, with visions of fire and smoke flashing before his eyes. Delsin struggles to both remain calm and control these powers, and gives pursuit to the Conduit
“..THE STORY IN SECOND SON MANAGES TO BE BOTH ENTERTAINING AND EMOTIONALLYENGAGING” Infamous casts players as Delsin Rowe, a mischievous graffiti artist who is also a member of the Akomish tribe of Native Americans. His brother, Reggie, is the local sheriff and therefore, frequently arrests Delsin for his art crimes. Infamous: Second Son takes place
in order to gain some much needed answers. Showing great skill (and enthusiasm), Delsin quickly masters his new “smoke” powers. It has to be said, that while superpowers are nothing new in games (or entertainment), but Second Son’s take on them is refreshing, and very exciting. Leaping from building to build-
ing, whipping enemies with a chain infused with smoke, ash and flame and teleporting through chainlink fences and other surfaces is exhilarating when you first experience it, and the enjoyment only increases when you gain additional powers. It isn’t long before Delsin encounters the head of the D.U.P., Ausgustine. She is also a Conduit, and has the ability to turn people to concrete. If Augustine wasn’t terrifying enough, she has also found a way to transfer some of her power to her Conduit-converted soldiers, who invade the Akomish property like an army. After interrogating Delsin, Augustine tortures the remainder of the Akomish tribe, her technique meaning a painful death for the Akomish tribe - but there is hope - If Delsin can gain control over Augustine’s powers, he may be able to save them. The story in Second Son manages to be both entertaining and emotionally-engaging, an increasingly difficult thing to achieve in video games today. Too often, games either portray people so realistically that the story feels mundane, or they create characters so unrealistic that it is impossible to relate to them or emotionally invest in them. Worse yet, some games leave their characters deliberately blank or uninspired (Mass Effect’s Commander Shepard, various FPS grunts) so that
players can more easily “project” themselves onto them (see themselves as the character). Second Son avoids all these traps by delivering realistic and engaging characters that will captivate players. My only complaint with Infamous: SS’s story, is with the sudden moral dilemmas that are abruptly thrown your way. You will be watching a cutscene or completing a mission, when you are confronted with a huge decision. While these might test some players, I felt as though I was well and truly committed to being a hero rather than a villain from the minute I got my powers. I was never in a grey area, nor was I challenged by any moral choice in the game. These are usually as simple as “sacrifice this good person to revel in your evilness” or “turn yourself in because you’re a stand up guy like that”, with no option in between. Given that you will spend your experience unlocking abilities that depend on a particular moral leaning (such as increased damage due to your obvious badassery), its unlikely that players will deviate from their set path considering this will mean they are unable to keep those benefits from a high moral level. In addition to the story missions, Infamous: Second Son also offers a
wealth of side activities to partake in: Graffiti missions: where the player holds the PS4 controller on its side and mimics the shaking and spraying of a spray-paint can (which is actually quite cool) in order to bomb a large piece of scenery. Players can choose either a positive or rebellious artwork, which accelerates their moral progress as well. I have to say, I’m very impressed with the art used for the graffiti side activity, and though it is a blatant ripoff (or inspired by, your call) of Banksy’s style, I couldn’t think of a more perfect graffiti artist to imitate. Drug Busts: Throughout the city, Delsin will encounter drug deals where he can mercilessly kill every criminal, or knock them out and destroy the drugs. These are fun, but what annoys me about these is that the criminals simply stand around holding their guns, without any variation in their behaviour. Everything begins and ends with Delsin’s intervention too, which is a shame. I would have liked to have had the ability to wait around for a few minutes (or longer) and witnessed the actual deal go down, as it would be a far greater achievement (in my mind) to take down both sides of the drug deal, instead of just the dealers. That, or perhaps after completing 10 or 20 drug deals, the opportunity to destroy the drug syndicate itself
would arrive, giving a greater overall sense of accomplishment to the Drug Busts. D.U.P. Spy Missions: The D.U.P. has hidden spies in the general public. These Conduits are gathering intel and Delsin has to spot them out in the crowd with a photo he’s provided. These can be quite a challenge if the player is unprepared, as the Conduits will escape using their powers, such as running through walls or leaping over scenery. Once you get used to them, these are a blast to do. District Takedowns: There a number of actions and activities that cause the D.U.P. to lose power in a particular area. Freeing captive Conduits, destroying intelligence drones, strongholds, APCs (Armoured Personal Carriers), as well as other side missions all lead to a District Showdown, where Delsin taunts the D.U.P. into a battle for control of a district. Sometimes, there are squads of D.U.P. Conduits who vastly outnumber Delsin. Other times, there is a heavily-armed helicopter, or both. In addition to these side missions, there are also protest rallies (protesting “bioterrorists”), busking musicians, gang members and sign twirlers, which can be interacted with by the player. There isn’t really anything to it, you can either kill everyone or break up the activity non-lethally, which might sound rather
pointless but they add some variety to the game nonetheless. Completing side activities and story missions awards the player with energy shards, which can be used to upgrade Delsin’s abilities. These upgrades can include perks being added to abilities (such as larger explosive radii on projectile attacks), or simple upgrades to health and ammunition. He will also encounter other Conduits throughout the game, who will provide him with different powers. Each of these are equally awesome, and I can’t remember the last time I was this impressed with an open-world game’s story and gameplay. I honestly can’t remember the last time I was impressed with an open-world game. Infamous: Second Son manages to look gorgeous, play brilliantly and enthral players with its unique and darker take on super humans and society. Easily a must-have title for the PlayStation 4, Second Son is well worth a purchase.
Written by Nick Getley
9/10 PROS • • •
Fresh gameplay in an otherwise tired genre
Great characters, story and writing
Amazing graphics and lighting
Moral decisions too shallow and obvious
Kinect Sport Rivals It’s getting harder and harder for Microsoft to justify the Kinect on the Xbox One. Sure, it has some pretty cool optional features, but outside of the voice controls at the Xbox One dashboard, the motion control peripheral’s prospects are pretty bleak. The Xbox 360’s Kinect wasn’t anywhere near as successful as Microsoft had hoped, but it at least had some prety enjoyable titles in Dance Central, Kinect Sports and Kinect Disneyland Adventures. Just Dance 2014 released last December and while is a great game, dancing isn’t for everyone, so a game with a broader appeal is needed. Enter ‘Kinect Sports Rivals’ from Rare, which could have been a simple sequel to the Xbox 360 games, but is instead a “complete reimagining” of the motion-controlled sports franchise. While it is a fun game,
When you first start Kinect Sports Rivals, you are tasked with creating your in-game avatar. This is a pretty slick process, as the Kinect sensor scans every inch and detail of your face. It can pick up your facial features, overall face shape and even what type of haircut or beard you’re sporting (should you have hair of a beard, that is). While I think I look nothing like my in-game avatar, I can definitely say that my friends
“..SOME OF THESE MINI-GAMES ARE PRETTY DIFFERENT FROM THEIR ACTUAL REAL-LIFE COUNTERPARTS.” some activities are more fun than others, and the amount of fun had with it can range from a room full of friends laughing and cheering, to an individual swearing and threatening their Kinect sensor.
who have also played Kinect Sports Rivals absolutely look like their ingame avatars. When you’re done tinkering with your cartoon double, you’re introduced to Coach, who will in turn introduce you
to every activity in Kinect Sports Rivals, whether you want him to or not. I’m not saying he’s annoying (I actually find him quite charming), but I did at several points want to jump straight into the game, or repeat a certain activity instead of proceeding through the frustratingly long tutorial, which simply wasn’t possible. Instead, you will be meeting each and every character in the game, as well as being forced to try out every sport, a follow-up mission, as well as other features like the Rivals hub and the in-game shop. As I mentioned before this can be quite lengthy, and when my friends came over for a multiplayer session they were also forced to complete each of these tasks individually. It took a few hours of creating our characters and learning before we had free reign over the island. Now onto the sports themselves. Instead of offering the same sports as
last generation’s Kinect Sports and Kinect Sports: Season 2, Kinect Sports Rivals completely reinterprets some sports (such as Soccer) while offering sports completely new to the franchise, such as Target Shooting. Here is a list of all the sports available: • Bowling • Jet Ski Racing • Rock Climbing • Soccer • Target Shooting • Tennis Now while I may seem a tad harsh on the lengthy tutorial, my gripe with it was that I had no option at any point to do what I wanted. The tutorial itself is absolutely necessary, as some of these mini-games are pretty different from their actual real-life counterparts. For one thing, some of the games have futuristic elements to them, and there is also
the addition of various power ups you can unlock and equip. Bowling is probably the most intuitive mini-game in the mix, as players will have a rough idea of how to play before they play it. Holding an openhand to your left or right will choose which hand you wish to bowl with, and closing that hand will grab the ball. From there, it is as simple as mimicking the action of bowling as best you can, by taking a few steps forward and hurling that imaginary ball in your hand at your TV. You can add a little spin on it, which is easy to mess up, but difficult to master. Bowling actually proves to be quite fun, though it feels as though Rivals wants you to win, as getting a strike can be as simple as chucking the ball as fast as you can. Jet Ski Racing can prove to be awkward at first, but persevere and you will discover a fun game that requires small and precise movements to ensure success in every race. You can also perform various tricks off of waves and ramps in a race, though these are pretty limited. Most people will open their hands and lean back to perform a no-handed backflip,
which awards the most boost. Filling up your boost gauge means that you can unleash a turbo, either by shouting “power-up” at your Kinect (with varied success) or by stomping your foot, the latter of which I would recommend. Rock Climbing is my personal favourite of all the mini-games on offer, but it also happens to be the most difficult and frustrating. Why is my enjoyment so inconsistent? Well, frankly, the Kinect controls and recognition themselves are inconsistent, which can make the game an absolute blast or downright infuriating. Reaching towards the different holds on the rock wall with an open hand highlights that hold, and closing your hand will then grab onto that hold. From there you must lower
well, but the trickier walls require climbing from left to right along a particular route, and this is one action that rarely works out well for the player. Despite having an adequate Kinect space in my living room, Kinect would often lose track of my hands as I crossed them in front of my chest, meaning that I would stop moving completely (my avatar tweaking and glitching about) or I would begin to climb backwards from where I came. You can also jump gaps on the wall by actually jumping in front of the Kinect, but once again, this has very limited success rate. Soccer would have to be the most detached from its real-life counter-
“YOU CAN ALSO JUMP GAPS ON THE WALL BY ACTUALLY JUMPING IN FRONT OF THE KINECT, BUT ONCE AGAIN, THIS HAS VERY LIMITED SUCCESS RATE.” your hand to your chest or hips to simulate the act of climbing. On the easier walls, this works particularly
part, as you don’t run at all, nor do you fight over possession of the ball. Instead, players take it in turns
at passing the ball amongst players on their team and shooting at the goal, like an overly-protective grade school where “everybody wins” and kids get medals just for playing. I can’t say Soccer is much fun, as it feels like you can’t even control what type of shot you take at goal. You basically just move your leg as it happens to glide towards your team mates. Combine that with an almost total lack of competition and Soccer feels pretty stale. The ball also moves pretty slow, thus making it pretty difficult for myself (and a few real-life Soccer players I know) to feel in control of the ball and decent at the game. With a game that offers sports-themed fantasy gameplay, it should have at least have the basics down, as well as make the player feel like Pele. Target Shooting is the weirdest entry in the game. Not so much because of its semi-futuristic take on the sport, but because you literally just stand in front of the Kinect pointing at the screen. I will say that I was impressed by how well Kinect tracked my fingers as they pointed to onscreen targets, but when I thought about it, how impressive is that really? I sure as hell wouldn’t want to play a full game based on pointing, let alone Target Shooting in Kinect Sports Rivals. Needless to say, the appeal of Target Shooting won’t last
long for new players. Tennis is the last sport on our list, and I’m sorry if anyone was expecting a comeback of sorts here, but it’s also pretty lackluster. Similar to the tutorial, tennis also has a distinct lack of choice that will irk the player. The game itself will determine whether you are going to attempt a backhand or front hand shot, and lobbies and smashes are pre-determined. Surely a simple change in footing could have allowed the player to decide these shots for themselves, but alas, it isn’t so. In addition to the local and online multiplayer options available, there is also a single player story, and if you thought Rock Climbing already sounded frustrating, try getting yelled at throughout the whole ordeal by a middle-aged white guy who insists on being the leader of a tribe because he wears face paint and has dreadlocks. In all fairness, I understand that these characters are meant to be family-friendly, but they really do come across as amateur and unlikable. Everyone is meant to come across as confident, but they all strike me as narcissistic jerks. There are three teams, and eventually you have to decide between joining the white armour-clad sports stars, the geek stereotypes (ugh) and the primitive white tribals,
who I’m assuming are Caucasian because they would be offensive otherwise. There is also the Rivals system and its hub, where players will be presented with opportunities to beat their friends’ ghosts, or challenge their friends online. I’m assuming it’s based on the average of your performances, because I’ve played a lot of Rock Climbing and can prove to be quite a challenge to my friends online, though I’ve played significantly less Jet Ski Racing and in that sport I’m a pushover. Like so many recent titles, Kinect sports Rivals would be an instant classic if it didn’t feel rushed. On one hand, some of the sports can be fun when they work and on the other hand, other sports feel like they were developed in a single lunch break at Rare’s offices. KSR feels like a tech demo that if was meant to be a full game, should have gotten a hell of a lot more development. Seeing as Rare is owned by Microsoft, there isn’t an excuse for a game of such poor quality to have been released as the first Kinect party/sports game. With future installments however, I can foresee a vast improvement, if given the proper development time and quality needed.
Written by Nick Getley
5/10 PROS • • •
Rock Climbing, Jet Ski Racing and Bowling are fun The Rivals system can prove fun if you are the competitive type
Nothing like it on the Xbox One
CONS • • •
Rock Climbing frequently won’t work
Target Shooting, Tennis and Soccer aren’t fun, or get old quick Annoying characters and tutorial.
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Weâ€™re your filter, finding the hidden gems, the quirky cult classics and guilty pleasures on iOS.
Tengami I can still remember being genuinely enthralled with pop-up books as a kid. I was fascinated by the way you could touch, slide and pull on pieces of these fantasy worlds to reveal their inner secrets and complex machinations. Tengami beautifully highlights the way that video games and popup books are so similar in their interactivity. Developer NyamYam has successfully captured that feeling of childlike wonder, if only for a brief and fleeting moment. Tengami is a cryptic tale of one man’s journey to restore a cherry blossom tree to its former glory. It’s drenched in metaphor and I won’t spoil what Tengami is really about (partly for the sake of your experience and partly because I’m still contemplating what
ber from the pop-up books of your youth, but elegantly updated for a modern context. Instead of tugging at delicate paper wisps (that were doomed to tear at the hands of so many careless children), Tengami opts for an uncluttered and minimal user interface. Gently pulsing rings of light emanate from points of interest and the complexity in the puzzles doesn’t really start with discovering what it is in the scene you can touch. All the puzzles elements are clearly illuminated in Tengami; the challenge (and the fun) comes from using your mind to solve the puzzles and not your fingers to perform gymnastics. The way that the visual style and the gameplay inform each other feels like a true work of art: the pop-up
The one criticism I have of Tengami is that, like so much haiku poetry, it’s over very quickly. It’s true that iOS titles have a penchant for being on the brisk side (and that’s reflected by their miniscule price), but Tengami felt short even by these standards. I completed the whole game in under two hours, and it’s ultimately testament to NyamYam’s expertly crafted game, that I wanted it to go on for much longer. Tengami is a near perfect experience from start to finish. The expertly crafted world and streamlined gameplay are married so effectively and delivered so competently on
“EACH PUZZLE FELT REFRESHING AND SEEMED TO BRING A NEW CONCEPT INTO THE MIX, WHILE BUILDING ON WHAT HAD COME BEFORE.” it’s truly about myself), but it features a lone wanderer journeying through the shifting landscapes of a dreamlike origami Japan. Richly coloured and expertly textured, Tengami’s visual style imparts a unique sense of majesty and wonder throughout every page. The gameplay evokes the page turning and tab sliding you might remem-
imagery collapsing and expanding as you manipulate the sophisticated world. Each puzzle felt refreshing and seemed to bring a new concept into the mix, while building on what had come before. Some of the puzzles later in the game were quite challenging due to the number of steps they took to solve, but I found the sense of escalating difficulty rewarding.
a small touchscreen that Tengami stands out as one of the strongest releases so far this year. I wanted Tengami to go on forever, but like all good things (haiku poetry, pop-up books and childhood) NyamYam’s finely crafted Tengami had to come to an end.
Click here to purchase! Written by Jesse Miles www.grabitmagazine.com
9/10 PROS • •
Gameplay captures the pop-up book feel. Stunning art style.
CONS • •
Angry Birds Epic Over the last four years, Rovio’s Angry Birds series has built an army of fans hundreds of millions strong, and I suspect - given the arcade quick-fire nature of the core experience - that many of those devotees have never played a full-blooded role-playing game before. It feels very much like Rovio has designed its newest outing - Angry Birds Epic - with this fact in mind. Working on dual levels, Angry Birds Epic has elements that will ease newcomers into the genre’s mechanics, but smartly, Rovio hasn’t ostracised existing RPG fans in the process. There is enough here to offer veterans a challenging experience. I wouldn’t call it a deep RPG, but I would say that it has depth.
The level of detail and care put into the game’s animation also extends to the whole pirate themed setting of Piggy Island. Treasure chests, islands, coves, reefs, ports, grottoes, caves and much more dot the map - the majority of which is initially hidden in a fog that gradually lifts as you progress through the game. The bulk of your time in Angry Birds Epic will be spent within its turnbased battles - once won, you unlock the next dot point on the map. Starting out in the tutorial levels with only one bird to fight with eases you into the basic mechanics. Eventually you’ll unlock additional birds until you have more than you can take into battle at any one time.
base coming from casual beginnings, it may sound like an overwhelming style of play, but Rovio has built a clearly defined and scalable learning curve. Once it all starts to click, it’s satisfying to discover the tactics that work in difficult battles and snapping victory from the jaws of defeat. It’s a little like slingshotting your Angry Birds at Green Pigs structures until you finally find that sweet spot that brings the whole thing crashing down. An example: I came up against five pigs that would come back to life two turns after I had knocked them out. Eventually I learned not to try and kill them one by one, but instead to take down their health equally, then
“..ANGRY BIRDS EPIC IS A FANTASTIC NEW ADDITION TO THE FRANCHISE..” RPGs are known for their storylines and Rovio has managed to create a fun narrative despite the fact the characters don’t speak. It does this through awesome animation. The simple story of Green Pigs finding new and interesting ways to steal the Angry Birds’ eggs unfolds through animated cutscenes that play out between chapters and events. All the birds and pigs are fantastically drawn with expressive eyes and facial features, never leaving you in doubt as to their intentions.
It’s at this point the game’s depth starts to reveal itself. By this stage you’ll be adept in crafting and forging magical items, weapons and shields from gathered loot, and will also be exploring the strengths and weaknesses of combining different birds in battle. All this new-found knowledge will be pitted against an imaginative array of Green Pig enemies, each of which have their own strengths and weaknesses to be countered. For that half of the Angry Birds fan-
at the end execute my Bomb Bird’s special skill - which does a great amount of damage to every enemy at once - finishing them all off together. Thankfully, for those concerned about IAPs in a free-to-play game, I haven’t come across a battle I couldn’t win without eventually finding the right tactic. The ads that pop up after some battles do feel intrusive and I could certainly live without those, but that’s my only issue
with the business model presented. In fact, I feel Rovio has done a great job making the player feel like they are always unlocking or earning something new. Even if you lose a battle, you’ll get a consolation prize. I did find the constant chattering and squealing of the birds to be annoying and the lack of any quick and easy way to compare new items with old items is a missed chance to further streamline the experience. Navigating between the menu to decide what to forge or craft, and back to your inventory to see what you already have is not ideal. These small issues aside, Angry Birds Epic is a fantastic new addition to the franchise that lays out the welcome mat for casual gamers to try hardcore things, while offering a solid backbone for existing RPG fans. Furthermore, I get the impression that Rovio is attempting to create a persistent universe with this offering. The map is so large and varied that once the main quest is complete, there is a huge playground available for future content.
PROS • •
Surprisingly deep RPG for Angry Birds. Super polished
Click here to purchase!
Written by Gary Balogh
The SFX can get annoying. Menu shuffling.
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Hot Toys 1/6th scale Amazing Spiderman The Amazing Spiderman figure perhaps takes the record as the longest delayed Hot Toys figure of all time. From initial preorder announcement to final release was around 18 months I believe, with delay after delay with no apparent reason provided by Hot Toys. Fans’ patience was wearing thin, and the hype was pretty much over by the time it was released overseas in October 2013. And you’d think with such a long delay, the release would be smooth, but it was anything but! Initial batches were plagued with the now infamous “broken shoulders” issue, which caused further delays due to a rumoured recall by Hot Toys. It was not until around February 2014 that the figure finally found its way to Australian stores, and is now in stock at local retailers such as Gametraders. Was it worth the wait? Read ahead and you’ll find out my thoughts on the matter :)
Packaging As with most Hot Toys releases, the box art is very nice, with this one following its Spiderman predecessors with a shoe box style package. The front has some very nice artwork, unfortunately showcasing a pose that is nearly impossible to achieve with the figure itself. The rear has a great photo of the figure itself in a nice web-slinging pose, and the cardboard insert within the box also has a great pose of the figure. How they achieved that pose is beyond me because I certainly wouldn’t recommend stretching the suit to achieve it (see further down on my thoughts on the suit and articulation).
Accessories The set of extras with this figure is very similar to the previous Tobey Maguire Spiderman figures. You get the usual array of hands in all sorts of pose options, from relaxed palms, to clenched fists, to jazz hands, to web slinging hands. The sculpting on the hands is really detailed, showing off the different textures. It also comes with some strands of webbing that can be used to mimic him shooting out the webs or hanging on them. They attached to the wrist by removing the hand and place the loop over the peg and then putting the hand back in. The effect is decent, but probably not too good for long term posing as the end of the web tends to dig into the suit, and the web also starts to sag due to its weight.
The main accessory of course is the unmasked head sculpt of Andrew Garfield. I think the likeness is pretty good actually, and the swapping mechanism of the head sculpts is much better than the previous Black Suit Spiderman. Iâ€™m not sure why Hot Toys decided to give him a few scratches on his cheek for the battle damaged look, since nothing else about the figure is battle damaged. But either way, itâ€™s a nice display option if you want.
Figure The first impressions upon taking the figure out is the apparent lack of size! The figure is definitely thin and shorter than the previous Spiderman figures, but actually quite accurately reflects the look in the movie. In fact, I think the previous Tobey Maguire Spiderman figures are probably a little oversized. The suit is definitely the highlight for me, with a gorgeous texture that’s very much like a thin version of a basketball. The suit has different texture across the different coloured sections, and is very flexible. It doesn’t really hinder articulation at all, but despite its flexibility, can be quite fragile. There have been instances where the figure has been placed in very dynamic flying poses (as you would for a Spiderman figure), but leaving it in such poses over time leaves stretch marks and other damage on the suit. So I would not recommend leaving it in those poses for long. The masked head is done nicely, and is fully enclosed in the rubber suit. Moving the head from side to side creates a nice realistic fold to the neck area, but I would be careful with the seam on the suit and also the glued part underneath where it attaches to the body.
On the point of articulation, the main sticking point with this figure are the fragile shoulders. As I mentioned before, the first batch of the figures had a number of instances where moving or rotating the shoulders caused breakages at the joint. Apparently this caused a recall from Hot Toys (which I don’t really believe as it would’ve been far too late to re-engineer the shoulders for future releases in my opinion), and it was said that later batches did not exhibit the fragile shoulders. Well, when I first got my figure, there was indeed a broken shoulder! At first I didn’t realise, but was annoyed that the left shoulder would not sit correctly with the arms at the sides. As this was because the shoulder had broken and there was no strength in the joint to hold the arm down! I did get an exchange, and the 2nd figure was perfect, so I think it’s all down to luck really. To move the arms, you just need to be really careful and gentle, and make sure you hold that shoulder joint in place with one hand while moving the arm with the other. This should help minimise any potential breakage at that joint. If you’re careful, you can actually get quite a bit of movement out of the arms and get lots of great poses. Swapping out the heads is very easy with their newly designed neck joint. It does create a seam at the neck area that is visible, but I prefer this to the normal head swap technique on the Black Suit Spiderman figure that resulted in many neck joints being pulled out altogether!
Final Thoughts Together with the previous Spiderman figures, you get a real appreciation for the unique style and design of the suit from The Amazing Spiderman. That’s the main selling point for me on this figure, as it’s different enough to generate some interest in the display, as opposed to having the same old comic styled suit all the time! Overall, I would still recommend this figure, especially if you like the movie or are a Spiderman fan. The only main issue is the fragile shoulders, but if there’s no issue with the figure you receive, the joint should be good as long as you’re fairly careful when moving the arms. The suit, head sculpt, and overall playability of the figure is still great, and it certainly complements the other figures nicely. If you want to see the full video review of the figure, head on over to the Kool Kollectibles youtube channel! Hope you can check it out, subscribe, and comment with your own thoughts! :) Written by Khai at Kool Kollectibles www.koolkollectibles.net www.facebook.com/KoolKollectibles www.youtube.com/user/ckly76
Hot Toys 1/6th scale Man of Steel When the reboot of Superman was announced, and pictures shown of the star Henry Cavill in the new suit, fans around the world were divided into those that craved for the past, and those that loved the vision of the future. For me before I saw the movie, I was certainly the former, where I disliked the suit and thought he didn’t match the look of Superman at all. But after seeing the movie, I was totally converted! I loved the movie, save for the last 15 minutes of the Superman/Zod climactic battle, which I thought was overblown and unnecessary. But pretty much everything up to that point had me hooked and sold - the history told in flashbacks, the new sharp and sassy Lois Lane, the relationship with his earth parents, Zod and his horde of Kryptonian rejects - I loved all of it! And I really felt that Henry Cavill made the role his, and was the perfect start to a new era of Superman. My excitement was a little dimmed when Hot Toys first showed their prototype pictures of the Man of Steel figure. It was clear that something was wrong with the body, which looked very bloated and too “rotund” for Superman, especially compared to the buff form of Cavill in that suit. But as always, Hot Toys tweaked
and fixed certains things from the prototype to the final released product, and for the most part, the new figure is pretty amazing! There are some quibbles though, which I’ll go into below - so read on if you’re interested in how this 200th MMS release from Hot Toys turned out.
Packaging I was actually a little disappointed with the box art and packaging. The previous Christopher Reeve Superman figure came packaged in a gorgeous art box shaped like the Ssymbol which remains one of their all-time best box designs. Some other MMS releases feature a shoe box design with a large art/photo cardboard insert. Unfortunately, the Man of Steel figure comes in a simple fold out design which you then have to open up to access the figure. It’s simple enough, but just doesn’t convey the class/style that I was hoping for in this major release. The cover art is pretty lacklustre with only a view of the sky and the logo, which again is no where near as display worthy as the Reeve Superman box. But I guess the critical thing is how the contents turned out, so let’s move on! :)
Accessories Accessories wise, the figure is pretty light on in this department too, but I guess it’s hard to see what else they could’ve included with the figure from the movie. The figure comes with the usual array of hands for appropriate poses such as the wide jazz hands to the flying hands to relaxed hands or fists. It also comes with a very large (too large!) stand emblazoned with the new Superman logo. This stand is special in that it is the new dynamic stand design that Hot Toys also released separately to allow for posing figures in flight. It’s a shame the base is just too large for its own good, and really takes up a lot of critical space in the display shelf. The flight pole itself is quite long and is essentially a long steel rod that is flexible enough to be bent into position. The only issue is that Hot Toys did not provide their usual “crotch grabber” stand for the situation where you just want the figure standing on the ground! Luckily the figure seems very sturdy, with strong ankle joints, so toppling off the display shelf should be rare. I would not recommend having the figure held up on the flight stand for long periods of time though. The se-
curing device is padded with foam, but the figure is quite heavy and long term posing in flight will leave marks on the very delicate suit (more on that later!) So I would use the flight stand only for the odd photo opportunity, and have him stand for most of the time. One nice display option with the flight pole is to bend it down so that the cape can be draped over it to give the natural wind blown effect to the cape. The last two accessories are identical save for the fact they are in different scales. Hot Toys provided the command key in 1:1 scale in a nice metallic finish, and also created the 1/6th scale version for the figure to hold. Overall the paint app and design are nice, but there aren’t that many display options for these.
so as not to damage the suit. Raising the arms into flight poses definitely needs some patience to gradually move the suit into position as you move the arm to prevent tearing. There have already been numerous photos posted online of tears to the suit, especially under the arms, where the suit was just stressed too much when moving into those poses.
Figure The figure itself has some amazing standout features, but also has some flaws. Starting with the positives, the head sculpt on this figure is amazing, and is a pretty spot on likeness to Henry Cavill. The paint app is very realistic, and gives the figure a great stoic and heroic presence on display. The other stand out feature (which is also its curse), is the suit. The material, texture, and overall aesthetic of the suit is superb, and looks like it just stepped out of the movie into your lap. The incredible patterning applied to the suit is extremely detailed. It seems like a very similar technique to that used for their previous Black Suit Spiderman figure, this time without the sticky feel. Despite the awesomeness of the suit material, there are a couple of issues with it. The suit is sewn on, and has a very skin tight fit over the figure. Articulation is pretty great with the base body, but a lot of care is needed to get the figure into decent poses
The other issue with the suit relates to some of the patterning over the top of the suit. Areas such as the belt buckle and black/yellow line markings on the sides of the hips and torso, are all glued on top of the suit, and the symmetry and quality of the glueing down will vary from figure to figure. On mine, the tip of one of the hip line marking was coming away from the suit. A little tiny bit of craft glue fixed that problem, but it was still an annoying fault on such an expensive item. But all of these areas may be affected by dynamic poses that you would want to place the figure, so be very careful in how you twist and turn the torso and suit. Otherwise you may find these areas of the suit becoming unglued very quickly. The cape is pretty good though, this time with no wire to assist in holding those flying poses. However, due to no wire, the cape does flow and sit much more naturally over the back, which is good. The cape is made from a nice soft felt-like material and drapes well over the flight pole.
Perhaps the biggest issue with this figure can probably be seen in the photo above of the two Superman figures together. The size of the Man of Steel figure seems to too large, as though the scale is slightly larger than 1/6th scale. Either that or many of the previous figures were all too small! The Man of Steel stands significantly taller than the Reeve Superman figure, despite the fact that Reeve was taller than Cavill in real life! You can see from the photos that the legs of the figures are almost identical in length, but it’s the key torso area where the new Man of Steel figure totally outsizes its predecessors. The height difference is even more marked when posing the Man of Steel next to the DX12 Dark Knight figure! Here in my display, it’s fortunate that the Batman figure has a rather tall stand which gives the impression that the figures are roughly the same height. But if both figures were standing toe to toe, the Man of Steel literally towers over the Batman figure, and it just doesn’t look right. Another minor issue with the suit has had many brave customisers making modifications to the suit. You may have noticed that the collar of the
neckline is raised above the chest s-symbol such that there is a fairly wide gap. In the movie, there are very little gap, with the neck line pretty much at the top of the s-symbol. So many collectors have taken to removing the collar and cutting away some of the suit and essentially lowering the collar to that s-symbol line. The mod certainly makes the figure more movie-accurate, but I for one have zero skill in that sort of customising, so I won’t risk ruining the figure to make that change.
Final Thoughts Despite the issues Iâ€™ve mentioned above, the figure is still an amazing piece of art. If youâ€™re displaying it alone in your display, it will command significant presence, and looks amazing in all lighting conditions. With the combination of an incredibly accurate head sculpt, to the beautiful material of the suit, and the natural drape of the cape, the figure will most definitely make an awesome addition to your collection! If you want to see the full video review of the figure, head on over to the Kool Kollectibles YouTube channel! Hope you can check it out, subscribe, and comment with your own thoughts! :) Written by Khai at Kool Kollectibles www.koolkollectibles.net www.facebook.com/KoolKollectibles www.youtube.com/user/ckly76
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Comic & retro video game crossovers As a gamer (retro and modern), I unintentionally tend to dismiss comics in my daily routines. I know I’m missing out on a lot of really amazing comics, graphic novels and manga out there, but I simply do not have the time! With that written, I do appreciate the medium and of what I have read in the past and games that I’ve played based on comics have been a good exposure overall. Here’s just some aspects where comics and video games clash in either direction.
Comix Zone Comix Zone is a unique specimen released on the SEGA Mega Drive in 1995 in which you play as a comic book artist who gets sucked in to a book that he’s working on in which he must defeat the villains and rescue General Alissa Cyan. What makes the game so unique is that it is a beat’em up but each section of the stages are panels of a comic book with puzzles or challenging obstacles along with hordes of enemies to fight off. To be fair, before I declare that this is the only game with this style of gameplay, let us not forget the next game to more or less introduce this style of level structure..
Batman: The Caped Crusader Released in 1989 on the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Amiga and DOS by Ocean, this game was one of the first of many games based on comic books that had replay value and lesser neglect. The premise is, is that there are two parts to the game storyline, one where Batman faces The Joker and the other where he faces The Penguin. Just like Comix Zone, this game has loads of enemies to battle through and puzzles to solve. One I recommend you chase down for your 8bit home computer of choice!
Scott Pilgrim VS The World: The Game Developed by Ubisoft in collaboration with eccentric animator Paul Robertson with a gorgeous 8bit Soundtrack by Anamanaguchi, this Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network release pays tributes to so many games in the form of a side scrolling beat’em up. The graphic novels written by Brian Lee O’ Malley are littered with video game references obscure or otherwise like the intro title screens to both Bonk’s Adventure on PC Engine along with Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
For those of you who haven’t played the game, read the novels or seen the film, the premise is that Scott Pilgrim is unemployed and is in a band with his high school crush Kim Pine and Stephen Stills who went to university with him. Along came along Ramona Flowers who has swept Scott off his feet and just had to date her. Only that to go out with her, Scott has to defeat 7 of her evil exes. With a love story and featuring cynical characters you can’t help but laugh at and love, it is a great graphic novel series, and a great fun game to boot.
Of course there are so many more video games based on comics and games that are films or animations that based on comics which are great games too! Here are just some of many notable suggestions: X-Men 1 & 2 (SEGA Mega Drive)
Asterix (Arcade, SNES, SEGA Master System)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time (SNES)
Marvel VS Capcom series (Arcade/PlayStation/ Dreamcast/Saturn)
Batman Returns (SNES)
Sam & Max: Hit the Road (DOS/Mac OS) Spy VS Spy
Aliens VS Predator (PC, Jaguar, Arcade and ignore the SNES release)
Written by David Kudrev: www.retrospekt.com
Batman: Videogame Origins The Caped Crusader has been battling his many varied enemies since 1939, when he first graced the pages of “Detective Comics”. He has been reinvented many times over the years, from the campy Adam West 1960’s TV series, to the more serious Michael Keaton reinvention of the late 80s. However, DC fans worldwide had to wait until 1986, when Ocean Software answered the call and finally gave gamers an opportunity to play everyone’s favourite crime fighting millionaire playboy. Jon Ritman and Bernie Drummond were the two men responsible for the first ever Batman computer game (simply called “Batman”). Debuting on the Amstrad CPC, Amstrad PCW, MSX and Spectrum computers, this isometric 3D game had you finding the pieces of the Batmobile so you can rescue Robin. Along the
Adam West series made me feel immediately at home. Ritman and Drummond later released a spiritual successor called “Head over Heels”, which had nothing to do with Batman but features the same gameplay. Ritman has allowed both games to be freely avalable in recent years, and both “Batman” and “Head Over Heels” have been remade by homebrew developers. The Batman remake is available as free legal download here: http://retrospec.sgn.net/game-links. php?link=batman Two years later Ocean Software decided that their next Batman game would follow the comic books. I mean this in the most literal sense as in “Batman: The Caped Crusader” each screen looks like a comic book panel, and as you walk out of one
Unlike the first game, “The Caped Crusader” allows you to punch, kick or Batarang your enemies into submission. While the game was released on Amstrad, Commodore and Spectrum, this was Batman’s first foray into the 16-bit world, as the game was also released on the Amiga and Atari ST.
“..THIS WAS BATMAN’S FIRST FORAY INTO THE 16-BIT WORLD, AS THE GAME WAS ALSO RELEASED ON THE AMIGA AND ATARI ST.” way you would power up Batman’s abilities and avoid the various enemies throughout the rooms of the Batcave. I have no idea why there are so many enemies in the Batcave though. The game features a brief scratchy rendition of the 1960’s theme song, which as a fan of the
of these panels another one opens up as you continue your quest. The game is split into two parts, where you battle the Penguin and the Joker. While they can be played in any order, the Penguin is normally considered to be part 1, while the rescuing Robin from the Joker is part 2.
During the late 80s, Ocean Software were the masters of movie licensing. As well as that, they were also quite big on multi platform games, where one level is completely different to the next. “Ghostbusters 2” and “Batman: The Movie” both received this treatment when released in
1989. The first level of “Batman: The Movie” was a platformer, requiring you to navigate through Axis Chemicals, find Jack Napier and dump him in a vat of chemicals. The second level had you driving the streets of Gotham in the Batmobile, the third level was a puzzler involving the mixing of chemicals, the fourth level had you flying the Batwing, while the last level was another platformer that had you scaling the cathedral to reach The Joker. While Ocean Software obtained the rights to develop the computer game based on the movie, Sunsoft had the license to develop for consoles. “Batman: The Movie” is a very different experience on each of the systems it was developed for. The
Nintendo Entertainment System and Gameboy iterations are platformers, though different to each other. The Sega Megadrive version is closer to the Ocean interpretation and allows you to ride Batman’s vehicles. The PC Engine version is the most interesting, as Sunsoft decided to create an overhead puzzle game based on the film. All versions are very playable and come highly recommended. Batman has appeared in many other video games over the years, and continues to do so, from “Return of the Joker” to the upcoming “Arkham Knight”. Do you have a favourite? Let us know on the Gametraders Facebook page!
Written by Paul Monopoli
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Margie Cox Cosplayer from Atlanta! Margie is a Cosplayer from Atlanta, USA. Not only is she a cosplayer, but also has an etsy store created from her love of comics, selling “geeky cookware and accessories” that she’s made. Margie also does charity work for Heroes Alliance with her cosplay. Tell us a bit about yourself, where you are based and how you got into Cosplay. I’m so honored to be interviewed by Live Magazine! Thank you so much for your interest in me and my work. My name is Margie Cox. Beyond being a costume designer and comics fan, in my real world adventure, I’m a Corrective Exercise Specialist at Fitness Studio 108 in Atlanta and I’ve been studying acting for over a year at Professional Actor’s Studio. I also have an Etsy Store where I make and sell homemade geeky cookware and accessories. I got into Cosplay because I got into comics, you can probably tell by the pictures that when I get into something, I really go for broke. I was moved by my husband’s request to help him with a Batman costume to visit a children’s hospital with a group called Heroes Alliance. It was incredibly powerful seeing that they could create a “reallife” superhero experience for some of the kids. I’ve been sold on Cosplay ever since.
You make your own costumes, how long does it take to create a costume and what’s the most complex one you’ve made? I do. It takes me quite a while because I really try to make sure I’m making it right and I enjoy the creative process and the possibilities of how it could look. I probably spend much more time choosing materials and colors than other people. It takes me months sometimes. The actual construction process maybe takes a few weeks though. The most complex costume I’ve made was probably Injustice Wonder Woman. I had to work with leather, spandex, worbla, plastics and everything was custom. You’ve won a number of awards for your cosplay, tell us a bit about that. What prompted you to enter and why? I suppose I have. Most notably, I won 3rd in the Wizard Magazine contest years ago with Star Sapphire. My husband enters me, if I get entered in anything. It’s definitely nice to be recognized for so much hard work and I do like for other people to see it. Winning the Wizard contest was particularly nice though because I won an original Wonder Woman sketch from Phil Jimenez. I have a nice collection of original art that artists have given me. George Perez
gave me one of two pieces he had which were original from his Wonder Woman run. Martheus Wade gave me a piece of Jetta cover art that I had posed for and Billy Tucci asked me to model for a piece for Shi. I’ve gotten so many personal messages from creators and illustrators about how much they enjoy my interpretations of the characters. The really cool thing about contests and having an internet presence is that you get to meet a lot of people who also find the characters provocative and inspiring.
You also do a lot of charity work, we see this with groups like the 501st who cosplay as Star Wars characters and donate to charity, how can cosplayers get involved in this? I coordinate events for Heroes Alliance Georgia. I’m part of a national group, but getting involved in charity as a cosplayer is as simple as reaching out to children’s charity coordinators and offering to help out. Our website is heroesalliance.org. There you can see pictures of our events and our Standard Operating Procedures.
Do you visit many of the “cons” during the year and which are your favourite? No, not really. I think I just pretty much attend DragonCon now. I used to go to MegaCon, but I was cast in a project that I’m contractually obligated to shooting 2 days a week until the beginning of June. It’s hard for me to attend many conventions now. I just don’t have that much free time. Also, have you had any funny moments you can share from a con event?
I think the funniest thing that’s happened to me was when I was stopped by a highly inebriated woman on the way back to my hotel at DragonCon dressed as Wonder Woman. She was so incredibly taken back that I was in front of her. I thought she was lost. When she became less confused, she asked if she could borrow my cell phone. She did and then proceeded to curse someone out using my phone. We awkwardly parted ways and a few days after DragonCon, I was back in my apartment in Tampa when I received a phone call from an angry
Margie Cox girlfriend asking why I had called her boyfriend at 1 am. I call a lot of people and it’s a very late night convention, so I asked “Who’s your boyfriend?” She told me a very common name and I was trying to place it and asked “Is that the guy who dresses as ________?” She became very upset with me because I think she initially thought I was trying to play dumb or I was covering something up. In an angry huff, she explained that she had a right to know why I had called her boyfriend at 1 am. I again expressed that I wasn’t entirely sure who her boyfriend was and that perhaps it was the woman who was inebriated who used my phone when I was going back to my hotel. She seemed incredibly off-put by the explanation and we decided to mutually end the conversation because it’s was becoming uncivil on her end. She called me back a little later and asked me for a description of the woman. After giving her a description of the woman where my words to describe her were ”leathery, biker, falling on her ass drunk” and a brief description of what she was wearing, the woman on the phone says “Oh my god, I’m so embarrassed. That was me. It’s not that I don’t trust him…” I spent the next 20 minutes of my life giving her relationship advice.
Cosplay involves photo shoots too, what do you do to prepare for a shoot? Maybe give us a run down of how it starts from concept to finish. You know, I just make sure that the costume is ready for planned non convention shoots. For the shoots at DragonCon, I do a competitors nutrition plan and train like a fitness competitor. The main reason is because a lot of the people who shoot me at conventions are shooting large groups. Everyone has to look their best because they can’t arrange a shoot so that my cellulite doesn’t show in photos or whatever the insecurity may be. At non-convention shoots, it’s going to be with a photographer that I trust and I know that they’re going to make me look good. I may train right before to get a nice pump in my arms and legs, but for the most part, I just show up and a hair and make-up artist works on me. I get in costume and we just have a great time. There’s something about getting into costume and really feeling like you are that character. What advice can you give to those who are new to cosplay for attending an event or doing a photo shoot?
“I COORDINATE EVENTS FOR HEROES ALLIANCE GEORGIA. I’M PART OF A NATIONAL GROUP, BUT GETTING INVOLVED IN CHARITY AS A COSPLAYER IS AS SIMPLE AS REACHING OUT TO CHILDREN’S CHARITY COORDINATORS AND OFFERING TO HELP OUT.” Have a fun time, connect with great people, and never read the comments on 4chan and you’ll be fine! Finally, where can our readers go to find out more about you? This is my Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/pages/Margie-Cox/141429712591364
Click here to visit Margie on Facebook!
All photographs by Andrew Michael Phillips www.AndrewMichaelPhillips.com
DANQUISH WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/OFFICIALDANQUISH Elysiam Entertainment (Kayhettin) | www.facebook.com/elysiamguild
Danquish Canadian Cosplayer! Danquish is a Canadian Cosplayer based in Seattle. His costumes are insanely detailed and he makes them all himself with a variety of materials. He’s attended various cons including DragonCon in Atlanta which he describes as “simply unreal”.. Read on to find out more! Welcome to Live Magazine Danquish, tell us a bit about yourself and where you’re from. Thank you! it’s my pleasure! I am a Canadian nerd/fanboy who was raised on giant robots, ninjas and sci fi. Consequently, these influences play a large role on my cosplays and my hobbies. What got you into Cosplay? You could say that I have *always* been a cosplayer in that when I was a kid I’d make my own props and costumes in an effort to recreate whatever I was into at the time. Naturally, Hallowe’en was always my favorite time of year and so when I discovered the opportunity to cosplay more than just once a year the addiction went into overdrive. Tell us a bit about your favourite characters that you cosplay and how you create the costumes. All my cosplays are based on my favorite characters, and so I strive to do the very best I can to recreate
them as my way of saying “Thank You” to the characters creators. I was always a Mortal Kombat fan, and so MKII Reptile was my first cosplay. I scoured the net for ref images and made the cosplay as authentic as my resources would allow. Ryu Hayabusa was a challenge because before Sam Gideon, it was my most ambitious cosplay project to date. Ryu is my FAVORITE Ninja of all time, so I wanted to recreate him to the best of my ability. I used a statue I had in my collection as reference and gleaned all the details from it. Custom sewing the suit was the most difficult part because it was my first time sewing an item of that type. Sam Gideon is by far my favorite cosplay so far and it truly is my *dream* cosplay; it took me 6 months to make everything for it and put everything I had creatively into it. You’ve got some amazing props including weapons - where do you get them? Thank you! The swords for my various Ninjas are all acquired from various retailers online, but everything else I make myself from a variety of materials.
“SOME PHOTOGRAPHERS MAY NOT BE FAMILIAR WITH WHO YOU ARE COSPLAYING, SO YOU NEED TO DO WHAT YOU CAN TO REPRESENT YOUR CHARACTER IN THE MOST DYNAMIC AND EXPRESSIVE WAY SO THAT THE FINAL IMAGE REALLY CAPTURES THE ESSENCE OF YOUR CHARACTER.” I’m a big fan of EVA foam and sintra board as they are lightweight and easy to work with. Most cosplayers will do a professional photo shoot at one stage and often do many. Tell us about your experience working with photographers and do you have any tips for those doing their first shoot. I have been fortunate enough to work with a lot of really great photographers over the years, and for that I am very thankful. A good photographer will take what you have made and really make it incredible simply by their use of light, angles and editing. When doing a shoot, it’s important to have a good rapport with the photographer so that you both feel at ease - it shows in the end result for sure. It’s important to KNOW your character: know the mannerisms, the pos-
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es, the “attitude” as it were. Some photographers may not be familiar with who you are cosplaying, so you need to do what you can to represent your character in the most dynamic and expressive way so that the final image really captures the essence of your character. What “cons” are you going to this year and do you have any favourites?? In just a few days I will be attending SakuraCon followed by Vancouver Fan Expo. A few days later I will be in Calgary for their Fan Expo and then it’s Anime Expo in LA in July.
was talking to cosplayers there they were telling me about “SupaNova” and now I DESPERATELY want to return to Australia for that. Cosplayers+Aussie accents= PARADISE. <3 Any funny experiences at cons you can share? LOL....wow, where to begin. I think my favorite experiences are random interactions with attendees. Everyone at a con is always in such great spirits and they are just there to laugh and have fun.
My favourite con by far is DragonCon in Atlanta.....it’s simply unreal.....it’s madness and wall to wall, but the level of creativity and cosplay on display there is simply astonishing.
Some of my best memories though are from when I see the look on some childs face.....because I *recognize* that look. (I had the same look on my face when I saw Pacific Rim for the first time).
A few years ago I attended the EB games expo in Sydney and when I
One time at Emerald City Comic con I was walking the floor and a Mother
asked me if I would mind posing for a pic with her kids. As she got her camera ready I felt this tiny hand reach up and take mine and when I looked down there was Supergirl looking up at me......my heart completely melted and I grinned like a fool as I crouched down for the pic. Finally where can our readers go to find out more about you? You can follow my various cosplay adventures on Facebook at:
www.facebook.com/OfficialDanquish I am also in Instagram:
www.instagram.com/danqu15h & Twitter
Eurobeat Kasumi Photography | www.facebook.com/pages/Eurobeat-Kasumi-Photography/181144498573739
Franรงous | www.facebook.com/pages/Franรงous/181964501863617
Martin Wong | www.facebook.com/martinwongphotography
“..WHEN I WAS TALKING TO COSPLAYERS THERE THEY WERE TELLING ME ABOUT “SUPANOVA” AND NOW I DESPERATELY WANT TO RETURN TO AUSTRALIA FOR THAT. COSPLAYERS+AUSSIE ACCENTS= PARADISE.”
Siren’s Belle Cosplayer from Brisbane This month we interviewed Siren’s Belle, a Cosplayer from Brisbane, Australia! Siren makes all her own costumes, is a fan of videogames, anime & comics and has a love for retro characters such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Sub Zero & more.. Check it out!
angles. I then study the costume and write a list of things I will need to buy. I plan how I will make it, including making sketches and patterns. Then I just go from there!
Firstly thanks for being part of Live Magazine. Can you tell us a bit about you. Where you are based and how you got into cosplay?
Yes, I buy my wigs for colour accuracy and then style them to my liking; I feel it gives a more personal touch.
My pleasure, thank you for having me! I am an 18 year old Brisbane based Cosplayer. I am a big fan of videogames, comics, movies and anime! Back in 2011 my friends, knowing my love for all things pop culture, invited me to go to Brisbane Supanova. After convincing my parents to take me, I made a Lara Croft outfit the night before. The next day I attended and I’ve been hooked ever since! You also make your own costumes can you tell us how you go about this? What’s the first steps to creating a costume? I do! In 2012 I got my first sewing machine and taught myself how to sew. The first steps I take when making a costume would be to search for various reference images of the character from a number of different
What about wigs, do you buy a wig then style it to suite the character?
And what sort of characters are your favourites and why? It’s so hard to choose a favourite! I have a passionate love for retro characters like; Sonic the hedgehog and Tails, Sub Zero and Scorpion, Vegeta and Goku, and Officer Jenny and Nurse Joy. Whenever I see them I get all nostalgic and happy! I also love strong characters with emotion and personality, as I find it easier to understand the character and it draws me into their story more. Master Chief, Cade Skywalker, The Joker, Elizabeth and Booker and Lara Croft are just some of my favourites! Most cosplayers we interview visit the various “cons” - do you have any particular events you go and are planning to go to this year? I attend Supanova Gold Coast and
“THE MOST COMPLEX WOULD BE COSTUMES THAT INVOLVE ARMOUR, BUT THEY ARE MY FAVOURITE!” Supanova Brisbane every year, but this year I am planning to venture out for interstate conventions like Sydney Supanova and Pax Melbourne. Any funny moments from a con you can share? Too many to count! My most recent would have to be at Gold Coast Supanova when I was cosplaying a Twi’lek Sith and people would ask “Can I stroke your tentacles!” (More commonly known as Lekku) It was such a hilarious thing to ask! Photography is a big part of cosplay, have you done any photo shoots yet and who with? I have done a few. They are so much fun! My most recent would have to be a shoot I did with Chris Volk, who is a very passionate Brisbane based photographer. I have more photoshoots coming up with some awesome photographers, namely Blake Image Photography as well as another shoot with Carlos Mayenco Photography! Tell us about what goes into a photo shoot. How long does it take for you to prepare? The first step I take when preparing for a photo shoot is coming up with concepts with my photographer and sending them pictures of
Volk Photography | www.facebook.com/pages/Volk-Photography/744779925556311
the character for inspiration, along with researching the finer details of the characters personality and expressions. Then preparing the costume and making sure every piece is ready! Preparation usually happens a day or two before the shoot.
My best friends are all cosplayers! It’s thanks to cosplay that I have such a large and supportive network of friends.
You’ve got quite a few favourite characters you love to cosplay, can you tell us which are the most complex costumes to create?
I recently started a Facebook page called Siren’s Belle, along with an Instagram and Youtube account all under the same name!
Retro characters are pretty easy to put together for me as their outfits aren’t very intricate in detail, the hardest bit would be making the pattern. The most complex would be costumes that involve armour, but they are my favourite! Do you have many friends who also cosplay or is it a bit of a solitary passion?
Finally where can readers go to find out more about you..
“I HAVE A PASSIONATE LOVE FOR RETRO CHARACTERS LIKE; SONIC THE HEDGEHOG, SUB ZERO, OFFICER JENNY AND NURSE JOY. WHENEVER I SEE THEM I GET ALL NOSTALGIC AND HAPPY!”
JMJ83 | www.facebook.com/jmjphotoequine
Andrew Michael Phillips Cosplay Photographer This month Live Magazine talked to the amazing Dru Phillips, a photographer based in Atlanta. He loves cosplay photography and shares some of his background including how he got started as a cosplay photographer. Firstly Dru tell us a bit about yourself and what you do. Well I am Andrew Michael Phillips but everyone just calls me Dru. I am a portrait and Fashion photographer located in Atlanta Ga. On a regular day I teach photography at the Showcase School of Photography and then hit the gym for a few hours and finally I head to my friends studio and spend way too many hours playing Street Fighter online and making people upset. How did you get involved with Cosplay photography? Well I would always go to conventions to get pictures of people in costume to use as reference for my illustrations. I met up with a group of girls that had a little cosplay thing going on and I mentioned to them that I would like to do work with them but they ignored me. SO I was like, OK, I will just do it on my own and I emailed Margie Cox and a few others through FaceBook and it went great from there.
Tell us a bit about a cosplay shoot - what goes into planning the shoot and then doing the shoot on the day? So the process of doing a cosplay shoot really starts by me asking which character the model has and is willing to get photographed. Then I figure out a lighting set up for that character. I actually treat it exactly how I treat my fashion shoots. I am very interested in the craftsmanship of the costume and the way the person wears it. Of course each person is different and some get into character so that’s a bonus. You’ve worked with a few different cosplayers who have different characters, tell us what types of cosplay you enjoy the most. I am spoiled by the cosplayers I work with because they are so good at making me believe they are really who they are portraying also the costume is so good it adds to the fantasy. So if I had to choose I will say I am a fan of the elaborate costumes that cosplayers such as Yaya Han wears or Margie Cox’s Lady Sif. It gives me a lot to work with as far as creative lighting. Do you attend any of the cosplay or video game events?
If so, which ones? I am a regular at DragonCon and MomoCon but I have also been to MegaCon and Florida ComicCon. I also attend a few of the mini ones that don’t have names lol. Do you shoot there and how do you approach people to shoot? When I am at the conventions I am more in a documentary mode. I am not a big fan of photographing with the con backgrounds but every now and then some of the people who know me ask if I can do a private shoot with them so I do. But If I see someone who looks awesome I usually complement their attire and then politely give them a business card and explain who I am and that if they are interested I would like to get them in some studio shots. Some times it works, other times they are not from Atlanta so it’s a no go. Your Heroes in and out series shows people in and out of costume, tell us a bit about that project.. So the Heroes In and Out came about when I started hanging out with the cosplayers outside of conventions. I would always say, Hey you know I am a portrait photographer you should let me take your “regular” portrait. So I decided to do
“I AM SPOILED BY THE COSPLAYERS I WORK WITH BECAUSE THEY ARE SO GOOD AT MAKING ME BELIEVE THEY ARE REALLY WHO THEY ARE PORTRAYING ALSO THE COSTUME IS SO GOOD IT ADDS TO THE FANTASY.” the diptychs to show that people who cosplay are normal people like everyone else, except cooler. I had a really great response from that series so I plan on continuing it. What sort of gear do you use and if you were giving advice to a person starting out in cosplay photography, what advice would that be? The gear I use for majority of my shoots is A canon 5d Mark 2 or Nikon D800, Profoto and elenchrom studio lights with a variety of modifiers such as octabanks, grids, medium soft boxes and umbrellas. If I had advice for anyone getting started it
I would say first and foremost know what you want as an end result. Cosplayers hate uncertainty on set in my experience. Have a lighting idea you want to try and maybe some poses you want to see so you can direct the model and get them in the groove. Don’t be afraid to be creative but be very respectful. What I mean by that is don’t just go up to the model and start touching and fixing things. Ask them to do it. If you can’t afford the studio lighting its not the end of the world. You can do natural lighting but again have a plan. So I guess at the end of it all my advice is to just plan.
Finally, where can our readers go to see more of your work? Readers can view my work in a number of places, they can do my website ofcourse: www.AndrewMichaelPhillips.com Deviant Art: moshunman.deviantart.com Tumblr is where I post most: www.tumblr.com/AMPCosplay and every now and then I drop something on Twitter: www.twitter.com/idruthat
“IF I HAD ADVICE FOR ANYONE GETTING STARTED IN IT I WOULD SAY FIRST AND FOREMOST KNOW WHAT YOU WANT AS AN END RESULT. COSPLAYERS HATE UNCERTAINTY ON SET IN MY EXPERIENCE.”
HEROES IN & OUT
HEROES IN & OUT Models featured in Andrew Michael Phillips images: Margie Cox, Yaya Han, Sherita Dunbar, Danny Kelley, Riki LeCotey, Katie George, Ariel Clough, Patrick Lance,
Michael Cox, Jonathan Carroll, Bill Aishmen and Victoria Lee Centeno.
Hexlord Cosplay Photographer Hexlord is a cosplay photographer based in Malaysia! His work has been featured in a number of exhibitions. Read on to find out how Hexlord creates these capturing photos. First up tell us a bit about yourself - where you’re from and when you started with cosplay photography. Hi everyone, this is Hexlord here. I am a cosplay photographer currently based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I started off with cosplay photography around 2005 when I was still in Singapore for work & study purposes. Back then, cosplay photographers are relatively rare so I decided to help some of my cosplaying friends in taking photos of them in costumes. And in doing that, I started to learn more about photography and taking this interest a bit more seriously. The rest as you can say is history. You’ve featured in a number of exhibitions, tell us about those,, Well, the exhibitions were organised by passionate organisations which are keen to showcase the many different genres of photography. I was invited to showcase my works for these events, and I am currently preparing for another exhibition in the coming month of April. Here are the exhibitions which I took part in the past:
• • • • •
4th Ngee Ann Photographic Exhibition (2008) 5th Ngee Ann Photographic Exhibition (2010) PhotoMalaysia’s 4th Annual Photography Exhibition (2011) 1st Guerilla Photography Exhibition (2012) 3rd Guerilla Photography Exhibition (2014)
Photographers tend to develop a style over time, tell us a bit about your style of cosplay photography. My style remains (till today) ever changing. I generally like to incorporate a little bit of storytelling and emotions into the photos that I take, so I spend quite a bit of time studying not just photography works, but artworks as well. Mediums like television, movies and music also influence the way I take my photographs. The more emotionally involved the mediums are the better. I am also a photographer that believe in bringing realism to a series rather than adding artificial or fantasy elements, unless it is very relevant to the series. 2D to 3D, rarely the other way round.
What’s a typical cosplay shoot like - when do you start preparing and what happens on the day.. A cosplay shoot usually begin with the initial proposal or invitation from/ to the cosplayers, which will then lead to a round of research and further discussions on the series the cosplayers plan to do. Logistics planning is also very important because choosing the right location can add depth to the photographs taken, and transportation is one of the very crucial aspects of ensuring that the photoshoot be successful. It also helps to have a few fall-back plans in case of any unforeseen emergencies. Once these matters are settled, the photoshoot itself is a relatively easy thing to manage (at least for me). The usual methodology in my case would be to get solo photos of each cosplayers involved, followed by the pairings or group shots. After that (depending on the readiness of the cosplayers), there will be time to do shots requested by the cosplayers as well as the concept/story shots that were planned for previously. One of the reasons I get the generic portraiture shots done first is to get the cosplayers to relax so that the requests/concepts shots get exe-
“I AM ALSO A PHOTOGRAPHER THAT BELIEVE IN BRINGING REALISM TO A SERIES RATHER THAN ADDING ARTIFICIAL OR FANTASY ELEMENTS, UNLESS IT IS VERY RELEVANT TO THE SERIES. 2D TO 3D, RARELY THE OTHER WAY ROUND.”
cuted better. There are also behindthe-scene shots (omake) that help to break the ice in a way. A successful shoot lies with good communication, so a friendly atmosphere helps. Do you have assistants helping you? For most of the time, we have friends to help out during the photoshoots. It can be either mutual friends or those that the cosplayers personally know and invited for the shoot. What about make up and styling? Does the model/cosplayer do all that themselves? The cosplayers usually handle their own make up and styling. Sometimes their friends chip in to help. With your work you tend to have locations that suit the photo session. Do you spend time scouting places to shoot? Yes. I do my research and scouting for most of these locations, taking advantage of easy availability of location images on the Internet and then making an early visit (if possible) to see if the location is suitable for that particular shoot.
There are also times when I happen to stumble upon new locations by pure luck. So I did a bit of a detour in this case, haha.
Raistlin Koh | www.facebook.com/raistlin03.cosplay Cute Michiyo | www.facebook.com/pages/CuteMichiyo-Cosplay/401453449893180?fref=ts
What gear do you use on a typical shoot? Currently, I am using a Nikon D600 which is a full-frame camera for the enthusiast photographer. I use a range of prime lenses (35mm, 50mm, 85mm) and a single flash for off-shoe flash photography. For some rare occasions I will bring out my UWA lens (the Tokina 11-16mm f2.8), but I hope to get a decent FX variant in the near future. On other occasions I will fall back to my older camera body which is the Nikon D300s, due to its burst mode (important for action shots) and longer battery life due to the extra grip which I bought previously. Any thoughts on the mirror less trend that growing in photography? I guess that if mirrorless allow more people to be interested in photography and to start practising it, why not? Itâ€™s a good thing because mirrorless cameras have their own set of advantages which allows one to get the right shot in a much easier way. They are also smaller which will allow those with small hands to have an easier time with their photography.
Finally, where can people go to see more of your work? You can view more of my works from the following sites:
www.facebook.com/BlackRabbitPhotography www.hexlord.deviantart.com www.500px.com/hexlord
Cosplayer : Byou Ika-xin | www.facebook.com/IkaXinCosplay
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