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Live Blogs Let's Watch: Select Episodes of Cinematech (The Original Series)
BearyScary2015-01-25 01:56:10

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Cinematech Episode 304: “E3 at the Gate”

Trailers from games featured at E3 2006.

Timecode: 0:10: The trailer for Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Wii. It showed off how some of the most recognizable characters, such as Mario, Link, Kirby, and Pikachu were enhanced graphically over their Melee counterparts, the new Smash Ball item that let you use super moves, and some of the new characters, such as Pit (Kid Icarus), Meta Knight, and Wario. Wario's introduction was particularly funny for everyone else's super-dramatic and serious reaction to it.

At the end, they showed The Reveal that Solid Snake would join the Brawl. Campbell called him up to tell him that he received an invitation to the Brawl, and Snake acted hesitant at first... but he was actually already there on the battlefield, blending in with his trademark cardboard box.

Solid Snake: It's showtime!

How did this come about? Hideo Kojima loves Nintendo, for one, but it was also because his son wanted to play a game featuring his dad's characters that was age-appropriate for him. Aww.

2:38: A trailer for Vampire Rain, a stealth game about hunting vampires that bombed. The trailer ends with the phrase “Something worse than death”, which is just plain ironic considering the game's eventual reception.

3:44: A trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), a game which was supposed to be a leap forward for the series, but was shoved out the door too early to be properly tested for bugs and quality assurance. The trailer itself isn't even bad, so it's a shame that they didn't give the game that polish it needed. Yuji Naka actually left SEGA and Sonic Team in the middle of development, which did not help.

Sonic '06 is perhaps best known for inspiring several Let's Plays, such as the one by a bunch of goons from Something Awful.

11:11: A trailer for Rockstar Games Presents: Table Tennis. Did anyone expect this to be Rockstar's first next-gen game? It sure did look good, though.

17:32: Clips from Spore, a game that was supposed to be Wil Wright's big follow-up to The Sims, but seemed to fall into relative obscurity, unlike The Sims with its enduring popularity. Peanut Butter Gamer reviewed it years later.

Cinematech Episode 306: “Wii Believe”

An ep that showed some of the E3 2006 trailers for early Nintendo Wii games, which tried to show off the systems' motion controls, such as Red Steel. Like some of the other Wii demonstration videos, this trailer is simply precious in its overly dramatic narmfulness. It shows a guy who somewhat resembles David Hayter, as he controls a character that's trying to defeat yakuza baddies. One moment shows him shooting a TV with a pistol wielded Gangsta Style.

RS was later advertised in magazines with this really unsettling-looking old master-type character that kind of looked like one of the humanoid cat people from Wing Commander. Look at it. Look at it. I WANT ALL OF YOU TO LOOK AT IT!!!

Cinematech Episode 307: “KHII Spoilers"

Exactly What It Says on the Tin. I love this game so much, it's one of my favorite Kingdom Hearts game. It was such an improvement over the original game, and has so many cool moments, that it's practically next-gen, arguably moreso than many actual next-gen sequels of the seventh generation of gaming.

It starts off by showing clips from the game's TRON world, “Space Paranoids”. This level received some criticism, but I liked it, even though I don't remember ever watching the film. It had Sora battling Heartless on a light cycle, which is rad no matter what you are or are not familiar with in this scenario.

After the world is cleared, Tron sends Sora, Goofy, and Donald a cute thank you message that looks like retro JRPG sprites. I loved that little touch.

Timecode: 8:48: A trailer for the canceled Coded Arms: Assault from Konami, which was supposed to be a PS3 sequel to the PSP FPS Coded Arms. It looks decent for an early PS3 game. One of the cool things shown in the trailer appears to be a giant boss that consists of glowing orange bodies. When shot, the bodies would fall down with dramatic physics. Then, it showed this hot chick shouldering a huge BFG and saying, “Real death awaits you beyond. Go home to the real world.” Then, she shoots you.

12:58: Spoiler alert! The final bosses and ending of KHII.

Sora reunited with his friend Riku and King Mickey. They used their keyblades to open up the door that led to Xemnas, a member of Organization XIII and the Big Bad. Sora, Donald, Goofy, Riku, and Mickey traversed a strange and dark city to reach Xemnas, who turned into a giant dragon. Sora and Riku caught up to him on a ship, and they found him in the heart of the dragon. Once defeated, Sora and Riku were left alone in the strange world. But Riku got a letter and handed it to Sora.

Riku: Sora? I think it's for you.
Sora: “Thinking of you, wherever you are. We pray for our sorrows to end, and hope that our hearts will blend. Now I will step forward to realize this wish. And who knows: Starting a new journey may not be so hard or maybe it has already begun. There are many worlds, but they share the same sky – one sky, one destiny.”

Suddenly, a beam of light appeared over the ocean.

Riku: Light...
Sora: The door to light...

Sora stood up and offered his hand to Riku.

Sora: We'll go together.
Riku: ...Yeah.

They walked into the door together, and the next thing they knew, they fell into the ocean.

Kairi: Sora! Riku!

Kairi waved to them as she stood on the shore of the Destiny Islands, their home. Sora ran to her, but Goofy and Donald ran into and hugged him. Mickey ran over to Riku, who picked him up.

Kairi smiled at Sora, who pulled the flower-shaped Wayfinder lucky charm out of his pocket. Suddenly, they turned into Namine and Roxas, their respective Nobodies. Even apart, Namine/Kairi tried to help Sora/Roxas.

Sora: We-We're back.

Kairi held her hand out to him.

Kairi: You're home.

Lucky charm still in hand, Sora grabbed hers.

They skipped the credits and showed a scene after them where Sora and Riku talk about how the Destiny Islands have not changed at all.

Riku: What a small world.
Sora: But part of one that's much bigger.
Riku: Yeah.
Sora: Hey, Riku... what do you think it was – the door to the light?

Riku tapped Sora's chest.

Riku: This.
Sora: This?
Riku: Yeah. It's always closer than you think.

Sora smiled. Kairi ran up to the boys with a bottle in hand. The bottle had a note in it with Mickey's distinctive symbol. Sora and Riku eagerly read it as Kairi looked concerned. Then, they showed the ending screen, which featured the same image as the title screen.

The next KH game to continue Sora and Riku's story would be Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance on the Nintendo 3DS in 2012. After KHII, there were two prequels released: Kingdom Hearts 358 Over 2 Days, which was a prequel to KHII that told the story of Roxas' time as a member of Organization XIII, and the forgotten 14th member; and Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, a prequel to the whole saga which was about three young Keyblade Masters.

Kingdom Hearts III is still on the horizon, and is supposed to be released some time (probably a long time) after Final Fantasy XV. Since Disney bought Marvel, KH creator Tetsuya Nomura has expressed a desire to put Marvel Comics characters into KHIII. If they can pull that off, the internet may very well explode. Tumblr would never be the same, given the site's users' general love and obsession with Marvel properties.

Cinematech Episode 308: “Aftermath”

6:48: A montage of video games based on the tabletop game Shadowrun, starting with the Genesis version. All of the three SR games for the Genesis, Super NES, and the SEGA CD are RPGs, but are all very different from each other.

The Genesis version is the one that I'm the most familiar with, because I watched my dad play it, and it was massively entertaining. The world of SR is a fascinating, gritty, Cyberpunk world with underground hackers, magic, Native American mysticism, and races usually reserved for fantasy universes, such as orcs and elves. The creators of SR took everything they liked about fantasy and sci-fi, threw it in a blender, and the result is a Cult Classic.

The Genesis version is a top-down, open-world RPG taking place in Seattle in the year 2050, where you play as a young man named Joshua who sets out on an adventure to find out what happened to his mercenary brother. At the start of the game, you have to choose a class for him: Samurai (warrior), Decker (hacker), or Gator Shaman (mage). From there, he can pursue his main quest, or, more likely, build up his skills and equipment by tackling smaller quests.

Part of the appeal of SR (Genesis) is just how random it could be, and how advanced some of its options were that were clearly influenced by computer RPGs instead of typical JRPGs. You could be attacked by a gang, or approached by someone who can sell you illegal guns or grenades – which can get you in trouble with the local authorities wandering around. Fast travel between areas was made possible by cabbies. For more miscellaneous quests, cyberspace is a challenge unto itself, and presented in a very cool fashion. It can be hacked from any vidphone. Deckers can improve their cyberdecks and hacking abilities to allow deeper probing of cyberspace, and greater protection against system defenses.

Every runner, no matter how skilled, will need help sometimes, which is where the other runners come in. Distinctive party members can be hired for one quest or for life. This can be useful, depending on whether or not you need someone to cover the gaps in Joshua's abilities. Need a decker to hack cyberspace, a shaman to heal you or curse your enemies with various afflictions, or just some good, old-fashioned muscle? Pop into a bar and try to find someone to fill your needs!

So, SR is a cool example of an open-world RPG, the likes of which console gamers wouldn't be able to find for a long time. SR is cyberpunk, it's random, and it's just plain cool without being too much of one of those strangely dated, Unintentional Period Pieces about the future. Even the title screen is cool!

7:12: The Japan-only, SEGA CD version of SR from 1996 that I didn't know about until I saw this ep. All of the text is in Japanese, so I have no idea what the story is about. The character portraits have a mature anime style. I recall reading about this version in Game Informer, and they said that the game's lack of respawning enemies made grinding tedious. The game's art style was actually influenced by a Japan-only manga based on the SR universe. MobyGames said that it was the last official SEGA CD game to be released in Japan.

7:26: A trailer for the multiplayer-focused, FPS SR game that was announced at E3 2006. It was released on the Xbox 360 to lukewarm reviews, but this trailer has some cool music. It introduces the different races in the game.

8:54: Gameplay from the SNES SR game. It briefly shows the intro of the game, which shows a somewhat dystopian future version of Seattle with tall buildings that shoot flames out of the steeples on top of them, for some reason. A bit of Blade Runner influence, perhaps? Like its Genesis counterpart, the game took place in the year 2050.

The story of this game has you playing as some poor schmoe named Jake Armitage who was nearly killed by hitmen, but revived by a kitsune fox spirit. Unfortunately, he lost his memory, and had to embark on a quest for identity and discover who wanted him dead and why. It was ultimately revealed that Jake carried data in his head that posed a threat to an evil AI. Holy Johnny Mnemonic!

I recall reading in a games magazine that this version of SR had some censorship along the lines of Nintendo's heavy guidelines at the time. Sexual innuendo and references to violence and morbidity were cut or altered.

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Comments

Jan 11th 2015 at 8:49:50 PM
Hwody! Just found your liveblogs, this is amazing. I was a producer on Cinematech and C:NE back in the day, I have to ask, do you have all the episodes backed up somewhere? Please, feel free to DM on twitter.... @otherwhitetofu
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