Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe

Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe from Midway GamesMaybe I’m late to the party, but I just got wind of the next MK series — Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe — which will debut on the PS3 & XBOX 360. Opinions very, Ricardo Torres over at Gamespot thinks the game will surprise you, and Ben Kuchera with Ars Technica reveals his disinterest in a long forgotten fighting series. I caught the teaser video for MK vs DC over at Gamespot.

While both reviews weigh in on the concept of Mortal Kombat characters taking on the likes of Batman or Superman, neither really emphasizes what I feel is paramount to making a successful fight game – the combat system.

A combat system succeeds in the potential number of strikes & combinations a character can produce matched against the player’s ability to pull them off. In my experience, a good fight game can be as entertaining to those watching, as it is to the people actually playing. The trouble is finding the balance in making the gameplay challenging, but accessible to the widest possible audience. When the Dreamcast came out with its four-player console, the instant hit at any party was Power Stone, due mainly to its crazy animated action. The key selling point was the combat controls were so simple (maybe too much so), even folks who didn’t gravitate towards fight games could jump right in. (And really, who doesn’t love bashing other players with a big hammer?) Evil Zone on the PS2 is another fight game that mixed simple playability with entertaining animated segues. (I could mention the success of the Wii console, but that’s an article for another time)

Titles in the Tekken & Mortal Kombat series have had a roller coaster ride of popularity. Throughout their evolution the titles have improved their visual appeal, and been hit or miss when adjusting player controls. Common complaints when a fight game is tweaked in release are characters becoming too powerful or downgraded. Mortal Kombat Gold was a bust to some, but in my immediate circle we appreciated the faster game play over the original Soul Caliber title. Sure Quan Chi’s teleport stomp was a cheap move, but nothing got the crowd riled up quicker than pulling it off successfully or have another player freeze/zap Quan Chi mid-stomp.

The idea of mixing comic characters within the realm of a fight game is nothing new. I could see today that comments are already being tossed back in forth that this is a poor man’s Marvel vs. Capcom wrapped in a 3D package. However, even with the argument that the idea is not so original, the real question is are the characters compelling enough to draw interest? More importantly, will the game generate the necessary buzz with a strong combat system as fatalities (one of MK’s identifying trademarks) have been removed? Midway Games needs a hit, and given its recent struggles some could argue the new MK game is quite a gamble.

Personally, I’m more excited about the next Soul Caliber IV release coming in June. Sure guest fighters Darth Vader & Yoda are a stretch in the mythology of the game, but I enjoyed being able to play Heihachi, Link & Spawn in Soul Caliber II. It’s enough to make me think about buying a PS3 and/or XBOX 360.

I missed it… DAMMIT.

On Thursday, October 14th my sister Lesli (of the infamous Ms. Led) faced off against Kurt Block of Young Fresh Fellows/Fastbacks in IRON COMPOSER. This live songwriting competition held at The Crocodile Cafe & presented by the Seattle Rock School tested each contestant as they moved through an aural obstacle course.

One audience member, randomly chosen as the “secret ingredient,” gushed on about his or her current state of affairs (or nefarious past) in a five-minute interview. Each composer then drew inspiration from the personal life-details provided by the “secret ingredient” and incorporated them into an original song.

Each IRON COMPOSER was equipped with “musical kitchens” with the following accoutrements: one guitar, one piano, paper and pencil and one Sous Chef Line Musician. The Sous Chef relayed all information to the house band in parts and conducted live rehearsals with the band on stage. The composers only communicated with the band via the Sous Chef, and had direct access to the band only once, during the final performance.

While most would pshaw at the ease of this particular task the entire 45-minute competition was divided into five nine-minute segments. Each segment contained “Mystery Chaos,” performed by The Interloper (Korby Sears of Seattle School) which attempted to distract the composers from his or her work. As added molasses, each composer drank a shot of liquor at the beginning of each round, consuming five shots in the course of 45 minutes. Only after such consumption did each perform his or her composition.

Needless to say LESLI KICKED ASS!!! Not only did she do the five shots well within the time limit, she had a sixth shot just before her performance and many celebrated toasts after winning. I don’t know many who can write music AND drink everyone under the table.

There are times it really sucks being here in Dallas.

Concert Night In Austin!

If you’re wonderin’ where the Azarok crew will be tonight, well, that would be Austin! Tonight I’ll be poundin’ shots of whiskey with my sister Lesli AFTER her band Ms. Led kicks some punk rock butt at Emo’s.

Ladyfest has come to Texas and my sis finally decided she would venture south from Seattle and cross state lines. Should be a rockin’ show if her success in New York, Oregon & California are any indication.

So if by any chance you know somebody, who knows somebody, who might actually be in Austin tonight – SEND THEM TO EMO’s!!!

Ms. Led will hit the outdoor stage at 11:30PM.

Emo’s – Austin
603 Red River
Austin, TX
(512) 477-EMOS

Movie Review – Kill Bill Vol 2.

The Plot – “The Bride” has already dispensed with Vernita Green & O-Ren Ishii, but there’s still Budd & Elle to deal with. Already a footnote in her memory, the audience will get a recap of events before the lady is off to Kill Bill.

The Review – As many know I’ve been waiting for this sequel ever since I reviewed Kill Bill Vol 1. The plastic wrap hadn’t even been broken on my DVD yet and Mich3lle & I were at the theatre last Friday for the premiere. Where the first movie was a whirlwind of action sequences Vol 2. firmly chokes up the reigns for a storytelling pace. Here the encounters are even more personal, the deaths seemingly more deserving, the overall tone more conflicted. “The Bride” seems less invincible this time around and we learn a little more of the back story via flashback. We also get to meet Bill.

One has to wonder if Quentin Tarantino might resurrect another career. Anyone catch David Carradine on Alias tonight? He was perfectly cast in this volume. I can’t imagine anyone else pulling off the role of Bill. Maybe you remember him as Kwai Chang Caine on the Kung Fu TV series, but I recall he played a sly villain opposite Chuck Norris back in 1983. And who could forget Death Race 2000 or Shane? No apologies for being a cult film guy.

The fact this isn’t the hack & slash fest the first movie is might throw some people, but I felt it complimented the overall story very well. It had predictable moments, but I thought the delivery by its cast well done. The kung fu training sequences were a humorous nod to that genre and yours truly is probably one of a few people that owns Shogun Assassin which was a character favorite in the film. (Imagine this totally geek moment – OMIGOD I HAVE THAT DVD! I KNOW WHAT DVD THEY’RE PLAYING!) Once again, no apologies for watching late night kung fu theatre as a kid.

Grade: B+ (It did have some slow moments)