You remember those days when you were playing Battleship with your brother in the summer of ’86? Well board games have gone a long way since then and from the line of Battleship comes the so-called “Hidden Movement” genre which takes the concept of a hidden play field but has you running around in a game of cat and mouse trying to track down the opponent and eat him (or escape).
The game is played out on one map of a space station per player. Each player has the same map, and they are dealt a secret card to determine if they are an alien or a human. Each turn, a player moves secretly from a starting location. Humans can only move one space, but aliens can move two — or choose to hide this by moving only once space.
Certain hexes on the map will cause to draw a card, which can force you to announce your location, or a fake location anywhere on the map, or even provide you with a one use effect to help you survive. The humans who manage to get to a working escape pod wins, or an alien that manages to track you down and can try to eat you. Be careful though! Aliens can also mistakenly eat each other.
It’s a great game of strategic bluffing, secret identities and hidden movement, and the game can surprisingly create a palpable sense of dread. It’s a great game to take out during Halloween or after you just had an Aliens movie marathon.
The Ultimate Edition you see above is a big improvement as well over the original game. The original game was played with cardboard maps and pencils. In fact, you can actually just print this game out yourself with a PDF you get from Osprey Games, if you were inclined to save a few dollars. But the Ultimate Edition has map books that are laminated and work with non-permanent markers, much like the Telestrations booklets, and are really a huge convenience and make the game much easier to play.
If you are into the whole “Hidden Identity” genre of table top games like Resistance, Werewolf and the ilk, this game offers a great experience that really borders on the supernatural, so to speak.
If this sounds like your thin, please go pick up a copy from Amazon and help support us by clicking on the link below.
Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is one of those hard to find games that was going for $100 to $200 previously because it was out of print. Based on a Chinese game called CS Files, Deception is the North American version of the game but otherwise plays identical.
I love this game, it’s a Hidden Roles game like Resistance or Werewolf, where the players take on the role of investigators trying to solve a murder. One player is the Forensic Scientist and another is the Murderer (and if enough people are playing, an Accomplice and a Witness). The Forensics exert knows who the murderer is, but nobody else does.
Each player has a whole bunch of different cards are dealt out that can either be the murder weapon or evidence to how they could possibly have killed the victim, and what clues they left behind. The Murderer chooses one combination of murder weapon and clue cards, and the Forensics Expert has knowledge of this at setup. A bunch of category cards are then given out like “Cause of Death” or “Location of Crime” or “Murderer’s Personality” which are drawn randomly.
The Forensic Investigator is silent but guides the investigators to the murder by placing bullet indicators on the categories that he feels relate to the murder weapon and evidence left behind by the murderer. It lends to a lot of social bluffing as the murderer and his accomplice try to steer people towards the wrong set of clues and murder weapon, while the Witness and the investigators are trying to puzzle out the Forensics Expert’s cryptic hints.
If the investigators are unable to pin the murder down after a set number of rounds, the murderer makes his getaway and wins the game. It’s a very, very good game although the forensic investigator may or may not find his role underwhelming and feel a little left out.
In many ways, the game is a mashup of Mysterium and Resistance, which is not a bad thing. It does however have the same problems wherein the Ghost in Mysterium and the Forensic Investigator have less engagement with the rest of the group, and we have the same “close yes open your eyes” setup tedium that Resistance/Werewolf games have.
On the other hand, the game sets up a lot faster and easier than Mysterium does, and doesn’t take as long as a convoluted game of Resistance Avalon when there are a lot of special identities thrown into the mix like Percival, Mordred, Morgana and the like.
All in all, it’s a worthy addition to any gamer’s shelf, especially for big groups of 6 or more. I can’t really recommend playing this game with 4 or less people, but it’s great at parties or with big groups.
Makoto Shinkai has been called the New Miyazaki for quite a while, and that’s some high praise. Shinkai has this knack for animating with such attention to detail that you can’t help but compare it to Studio Ghibli’s painstaking attention to detail when handcrafting their films and series. The penchant for evoking emotions is also there, but there are some major differences between the two. (Which I’ll get to later).
With Hoshi o Ou Kodomo, you’ll see that Shinkai is clearly paying tribute to Miyazaki. The film is rife with imagery that is clearly inspired by, if not outright stolen from, Miyazaki’s classic Laputa: Castle in the Sky and Princess Mononoke. It also has shades of Shadow of the Colossus, a game which itself I consider to be derived from Miyazaki’s works.
So what is this movie about? Released in 2011, it’s garnered some rave reviews, but I just got around to watching it today, five years later. Why so late? Well I’ve never been a huge fan of Shinkai’s works. Two things really characterize Shinkai’s works for me: they are always about some kind of Separation, and they are always Boring.
Those are very loaded statements, so let’s just talk about the film and I may be able to explain them better.
It opens with a girl who likes going out into the woods, climbing mountains and being away from her absentee mother and her dead father. As she stays on a mountain ledge listening to her weird radio contraption with a curious blue stone acting like some kind of futuristic vinyl record, you get the impression that she is not entirely of this world, that she doesn’t exactly belong.
As we spend the first ten minutes watching this girl, Asuna, we simply get this strange feeling that she’s simply out of sorts.
This is further re-affirmed when a classmate offers to walk home with her, and she refuses curtly but politely, saying she is in a hurry, although it’s clear she is in no such hurry shortly after the fact. All she does is do some quick chores then run back off into the woods, where she encounters the only bump of excitement for the full thirty minutes of the opening act.
And in those thirty minutes, you’ll see exactly those two themes that characterize Shinkai’s works. The Sense of Separation Asuna feels with the world, and the unfortunate fact that Shinkai is horrible at pacing, liking to focus a little too much on the mundane details of life to the point that it gets excruciatingly Boring.
I realize some people may like that kind of attention to detail and slow style, but while it might work (debatable, but maybe it would) in Shinkai’s other works that are just shorts about the ordinary lives of two people (like in 5cm per Second), it really has no place in an adventure genre film like Hoshi Kodomo. You can see that Shinkai can’t resist but indulge in his masturbation of visual finery, which he truly is a prodigy at, but he needs to better integrate it into the narrative and not just have it gratuitously like we do for the first thirty minutes of nothing. You know it’s bad when Shinkai shows you a scene of two dragonflies having sex, for really no reason at all (except maybe to symbolize Asuna’s growing lust for the new man in her life). He is just gratuitously pining along with his visual imagery and mood creation. What he doesn’t realize is that it’s just flat out Boring and completely unnecessary.
In those thirty minutes we see another theme of separation — that of Asuna losing her newfound lover Shun almost as soon as they meet. This is typical of Makoto Shinkai works, probably because Shinkai has no idea how to actually write a relationship where the two people are, you know, actually together. He’s really good at depicting loss and separation, but you’ll see later on in the film that he is absolutely terrible at developing a narrative where people are together.
The act ends when Asuna meets her substitute teacher Morisaki, who reads a passage on the Separation of Japanese deities Izanagi and Izanami. Again, another theme of Separation, and Morisaki himself is another character who shows us yet another theme of Separation in this movie — that of a man separated from his dead wife.
The Rising Action
Thankfully, the boring part of the movie is all over. While there was a lot of groundwork to be laid out in the first part to set the theme of the movie, I can’t say it was artfully done, and if anything it put me to sleep for the sheer effort it took me to get through it. But now that it’s over with, we can introduce some new characters, like Shin, who bring a lot of dynamic energy into the movie.
The movie now kicks into gear heading into the wonderful land of Agartha, which is apparently really advanced in technology, but when we get to it we see a people so backwards that they still live in crude stone huts, with nothing but horses for travel and no plumbing or even electric lights. It’s rather laughable that Shinkai actually expects us to believe that these people were once so advanced that the great empires of our world actually raided it for its riches and its technology.
But at least we are now thrust into the actual adventure part of the story, which will draw shades of comparison to Miyazaki’s aforementioned works. Still, you’ll find that there are some major problems. The first is the inability of the film to write meaningful dialogue between the expanded cast of characters. It becomes painfully apparent that Shinkai’s style of keeping a small cast of two characters (along with long stretches with little dialogue between the two, relying way too much on imagery, tension and atmosphere) has severely atrophied his ability to write group dynamics.
When Asuna, Morisaki and Shin get into a situation where they actually need to talk to each other and make it clear what their objectives are and resolve conflicts between them, all Shinkai can come up with is a lazy, “Katte ni Shiro” (Do as you like.) We’ll see this repeated again later. Asuna and Morisaki are trying to get some kind of father/daughter relationship going on, and Asuna and Shin are trying to get some kind of lover relationship going, but none of them really know how to make it work, it’s not unlike two children who have a crush on each other but have no idea how to make the first move. The relationships between the characters are so childishly and naively handled, with no delicacy, believability or even sense that it’s embarrassing for someone of Shinkai’s stature to have produced such a mess. Or perhaps not? Shinkai’s relationships in his past works have all been rather the childish, immature views of people who just look at the object of their desire from afar, unable to really take the first step. This feels a lot like what’s happening here as well.
We’ll also see Shinkai’s penchant for separation theatrics over and over, something that you really start to get sick of in the two hours you’ll be going through this movie. The middle act ends with another separation as Asuna separates from her pet Teto, er- Mimi forever.
The Final Act
I’ll try to keep from spoiling the climax, as it could have been a really good one. But as the movie attempts to resolve the conflict of Separation between the characters in the final scene, we’re left with a resolution that really just makes us wonder, “What was the freaking point of it all?” I felt like the story went nowhere, everything was for naught and the film didn’t really have any meaning. Asuna remains a character whose various themes of Separation are completely unresolved — her separation from the surface world, her mother, her father, her school life, from Shun, and everything else.
None of the themes surrounding her are resolved, the movie doesn’t even bother to try to tie it up. Why was she even chosen as the main character? They resolved Morisaki’s separation in a rather ugly way, but at least it was resolved. Asuna’s was left completely untouched, other than a quick scene crying over Shun that I suppose was supposed to “show” that Asuna had grieved and gotten over him. Which, you know, is really just stretching it and me trying to pretend that the movie even attempted to resolve the conflict there. The scene was brushed over almost as soon as it began, anyway.
The movie closes with an ending that is played throughout the closing credits, in a way similar to how Nausicaa’s ending played out. It’s much longer here, though, and there’s a post-credits scene that serves to close everything. I’m just greatly disappointed that the post-credits ending was a lazy, “and everything goes back to how it was, life goes on” kind of deal that really just reeks of third-rate storytelling.
I guess it’s all just so disappointing, because the movie looks so gorgeous and breathtakingly beautiful, but in the end feels like a hollow hack of greater films like Laputa and Mononoke. It’s perhaps fitting that the ending of a Shinkai film is nothing but yet another Separation.
Final Thoughts on Issues with the Movie
One of the biggest problems with the movie, other than the rather awkward story-telling and the sheer pointlessness of it all, is a huge glaring plot hole. Early on in the middle act Asuna is captured by a tribe of cursed monsters known as the Izoku. They drag her off in the night and when the next day comes it’s near sunset and Asuna wakes up trapped in a ruined building with a little girl. As the sun sets, the Izoku once again show up and attack her, but the stupidity of this scene becomes apparent when we find out later on that the motives of the Izoku is to eat people like her (half breeds of topsiders — people from the surface world — and people from Agartha) and the little child.
This begs the question: why did the Izoku whisk her away only to leave her in the middle of the ruins for no reason, along with another girl who they were supposed to eat, whom they had also captured two days earlier? The Izoku spend the rest of the movie just trying to capture her again (and completely ignore the other little girl) and when they do they try to eat her on sight. So why did they leave the two of them out to dry in the ruins again and not just eat them when they were first kidnapped? It makes absolutely no sense by the laws dictated by the setting, and was just a stupid plot device used to get the already questionable plot to advance.
The movie even conveniently glosses over her heritage, that it was not so subtly hinting at right from the start — that Asuna’s father was from Agartha and that he had died because Agarthians don’t last long in the surface world. I was totally expecting the movie to make something of it, especially since a good chunk of the movie is about the Izoku hunting her because she’s a half breed. But again, the movie fails to do anything meaningful with that thread and just leaves it to lay in the dust.
So what exactly was the point of this movie? It’s about children who listen to lost voices, right? If we look at who the children are — Asuna, Shin and Morisaki, you’ll see that they all were listening to the voices of dead people (lost voices) and were looking to probably bring them back or otherwise gain closure. In the movie Asuna and Shin got some closure — albeit a really lazily setup closure, and Shin’s listening wasn’t even developed at all. It wasn’t even part of his character throughout the film, and yet he got that scene near the end, which just reminds us how lazily that scene was put together. Asuna’s closure was totally lazy. I’ll just cry about it and it’s done! Let’s move on. There was no objective correlative that occurred to show us how her conflict was resolved. Morisaki was the only one who had his conflict given proper time and effort to resolve, but in the end, it didn’t even matter. It was pretty disappointing.
You know a movie’s story is bad when its main “antagonist,” Morisaki, ends up being the main protagonist, and is the only one whose character conflict is actually resolved.
Shinkai vs. Miyazaki
And herein are the differences between Shinkai and Miyazaki. First, while Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli in general outright refuse to modernize and go completely old school hand drawing every single cel and frame of their works, Shinkai started off with CGI and continues to do so. However, this does not take away from either of them. I think it’s quite commendable that Miyazaki utterly refuses to go the path of CGI (although his son has no such compunctions, to disastrous effect), and I think that Shinkai has found a way to combine modern CGI with that hand-crafted warmth that makes his films and Studio Ghibli’s so special.
Second, Miyazaki understands the value of pacing. Had Miyazaki been the one directing this movie, he would have likely started it off thirty minutes in, and avoided that 30-minute mess at the start. He could have filled out the rest of the backstory somehow in a more compact package, and deftly handled the pacing and action as they went along to Agartha. Take for instance how Laputa kicked off, with a high-action chase scene in the air ending with a girl plummeting down thousands of feet to the ground. People may groan at the obvious hook, but hooks are important in storytelling for a reason, and this is something Shinkai does not understand. Miyazaki learned the value of this after working on movies that felt like they had plot deficiencies, but even a movie like Horus: Prince of the Sun started off with a hook. To make matters worse, Shinkai is unable to maintain a rising action throughout a long feature film as his characters keep dipping into stretches of morose lethargy.
This is the third major difference: Miyazaki uses playful interactions between characters that are meaningful even as they are often light-hearted and fluffy. This is because Miyazaki breathes life into his characters, not deflate them into emo caricatures who are nothing more than pity magnets. One of Shinkai’s greatest strengths is his ability to evoke sadness in a situation, but while this may work in certain genres that he has worked on previously, it just doesn’t work in a full-length adventure film. All throughout the movie, I never really felt a connection with any of these characters, other than to pity them for being sad, sorry human beings. I never admired them the way I admired Nausicaa for her nobility and bravery, or Pazu for his pure-hearted amibition, or Kiki for her hard-working attitude. They’re all just emo bumpkins I don’t really care about. Asuna, a female character, isn’t anything like the strong women who take the lead role in Miyazaki’s clearly feminist films. She’s nothing more than a token helpless princess who for some reason was slotted into the main role, despite being nothing but a whiny airhead who needs to be rescued time and time again. She had no idea why she even went to Agartha, and took nothing from the experience whatsoever.
Until Shinkai can conquer this penchant of his for drawing nothing but somber caricatures of people, he will never gain the versatility to really branch out into other genres. He’ll also need to work on writing more than two characters; when he stars broadening the scope of his story, it just falls apart under its own weight. He’ll get better for sure if he keeps it up, in fact I should check out his 2013 work, Garden of Words, just to be fair. But it looks like that film relapses back into Shinkai’s comfort zone of two characters, a short story and a theme of separation. This film, if anything just proves that Shinkai is nothing but a one-trick pony who can only do shorts about the sadness and separation between two people.
I don’t know if his 2016 work, Your Name, will be any different. Which is a shame really, because while Shinkai may have the talent to really produce visual tapestries of sheer awesomeness, he really can’t tell a story well enough to be the next Hayao Miyazaki.
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A whole new world and new set of unconventional new heroes with incredible powers will rise in the upcoming movie fantasy adventure “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” based on the bestselling adventurous novel of the same title by author Ransom Riggs.
Directed by Tim Burton and written by Jane Goldman, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” stars Eva Green in the titular role who heads the special home and protects the children living in it who possess extraordinary abilities. The movie also stars Asa Butterfield, Judi Dench, Rupert Everett, Ella Purnell, Allison Janney, Kim Dickens and Samuel L. Jackson.
The movie introduces us to Jake (Buttefield) and his newfound world and friends when he discovers clues to a mystery that spans alternate realities and times, he uncovers a secret refuge known as Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As he learns about the residents and their unusual abilities, Jake realizes that safety is an illusion, and danger lurks in the form of powerful, hidden enemies. Jake must figure out who is real, who can be trusted, and who he really is and the amazing power that he possesses.
As predicted, Nate Diaz demolished Connor McGregor and turned him into a pancake.
In a performance that was not unlike his brother Nick’s demolition of Takanori Gomi years earlier, Nate stands and trades with Connor and eventually rocks him with a left hook in Round 2, stunning the Irishman and giving Nate the opportunity to do his trademark taunt.
He then proceeds to continue pummeling McGregor into Oblivion, clinching, pushing him up against the fence, smashing him with a knee, and Connor finally tries for a takedown in desperation.
Nate stuffs it easily and flattens connor like a pancake, and gets to work. In a few seconds Connor is mounted, being pounded within an inch of his life, and as he squirms to escape he is choked out with a tight choke.
Ah, that made my week, was a great way to end Yakisoba Week. Connor will now realize that he can bully the little guys at Featherweight, but he can’t hang with the big boys.
In other news, Sherdog.com just exploded because of this earth-shattering win, and I can’t even log on to gloat over all the butt-heart Connor fanboys. I’ll have to wait until later.
Nick ends the night telling Rogan, “I’m not surprised, mother fuckers.” Hahaha! Awesome Nate, awesome. Thank you for a wonderful evening.
They say that geek is the new sexy. Pop culture is filled with geeks. The Geek shall inherit the earth, and this has been proven time and again, look at Bill Gates, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Steve Wosniak, the list goes on and on. That nerdy kid that got bullied in school? He’s now the boss of a million dollar corporation employeeing the jocks to do the grunt work.
And if you’re on this site, chances are, you are a geek, too. Or you have many geek friends. Or both. Ideally.
Although most of the time geeks are serious thinkers, they will never say no to smart jokes. With Veems’ new feature, Secret SMS, users can now send nerdy pick-up lines as free anonymous SMS. Why would you want to send one? Because it’s fun! And because you can!
You can send them to your geek friends as a prank, orsend them to your geek crush.
Besides the Geek category, there are more categories such as Miss, Love, Cute, and Crush.
Veems is an Israel-based, Pinoy-dominated social app. Currently, it has almost half a million users in the Philippines. Secret SMS is just only one of the many features that allow users to freely express their feelings. Users can also share public status as private message and join anonymous public chats.
Download Veems on Google Play and start sending Secret SMS!
I know. I couldn’t believe it myself. But it’s true. I saw this listing for a 200GB MicroSD card on Amazon. As of this writing it’ll cost you a cool $80, but that’s a whole 200GB!
I am a little confused at the strange denomination. Thanks to the bit system which ramps things up in multiples of two, we are used to seeing byte capacity go up in base-2 denominations going up from 2-bits, doubling up to 4-bit, 8-bit, 16-bit, and so on…. 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, ad infinitum.
So why is the next capacity SD card 200GB, and not 256GB?
Well… according to Sandisk, the circuitry can’t accomodate more than 200GB at this time. What we are seeing probably is a 128GB chip paired with a 64GB chip for 192GB.
Well, that’s still a lot of bytes. In practice you will see about 185GB usable in your OS explorer browser. But that should be good enough for anyone.
If you like what you see, please consider supporting this site by ordering one from this link, and I’ll thank you for your support in keeping this site up.
The first of the last part of the bestselling trilogy “The Divergent Series” book-to-movie blockbuster franchise, “The Divergent Series: Allegiant” is about to explode with epic action scenes, spectacular vistas and unexpected twists in cinemas on March 9, one week advance of its US release.
“The Divergent Series: Allegiant follows Tris, Four and their comrades as they escape the walled city of Chicago and embark on their most astonishing adventure yet. With Chicago on the verge of an all-out civil war, Tris (Shailene Woodley) leads Four (Theo James), Christina (Zoë Kravitz), Peter (Miles Teller), Tori (Maggie Q) and Caleb (Ansel Elgort) on a harrowing escape from the walled city, chased by armed guards loyal to self-appointed leader EVELYN (Naomi Watts). Outside Chicago for the first time in their lives, the five find themselves being pursued by EDGAR (Jonny Weston) through a toxic wasteland known as the Fringe before being rescued and escorted to the ultra-high-tech compound of the Bureau of Genetic Welfare.
Once there, Bureau mastermind David (Jeff Daniels) singles out Tris for being genetically “pure” and enlists her to champion his mysterious cause. While Tris receives special treatment, including access to “memory tabs” that enable her to relive her own family history, Four joins Bureau soldiers on a supposedly humanitarian mission to remove children from a ragtag Fringe encampment.
Discovering that David plans to use the Bureau’s astonishing technologies for inhumane ends, Tris hijacks his private aircraft and returns with her team to Chicago. Faced with a shocking betrayal, they must try to stop Evelyn before she unleashes a memory-erasing gas on the city’s entire population, including the Allegiant rebel force led by Johanna (Octavia Spencer).
At the heels of the previously released hit movies from the books by author Veronica Roth, “The Divergent” and “Insurgent,” the latest instalment “The Divergent Series: Allegiant” goes on a different world for the heroic team to finally discover what being a Divergent truly means.
Woodley, too, relished the challenge of pushing her character toward new horizons. “When we first met Tris in Divergent, she empowered herself,” says the actress. “In Insurgent, she’s guilt-ridden and winds up being betrayed by her brother Caleb. In Allegiant, Tris goes outside of Chicago because she feels like it’s part of her destiny.”
Director Robert Schwentke wanted to immerse audiences in the world beyond Chicago by filling the screen with bigger visual effects, more monumental vistas and more exciting action sequences than anything featured in the previous films. Between set-ups, cast members were literally left hanging. “You’d just be there for hours,” Woodley laughs. “It’s not very comfortable.”
Woodley, James, Kravitz, Teller, Elgort and Q, spent three days at the quarry, plus five more days shooting on a smaller, less steeply angled wall built to make it easier for the actors to say their lines while climbing. Elgort, an experienced rock climber in real life, had to forget everything he knew to portray his character properly. “Running up a real wall vertically was pretty sick,” he recalls. “My challenge was making it look like I didn’t know what I was doing because Caleb can’t run and climb. I had to slam my body against the wall. I wore all these pads so it didn’t cut me up, but those scenes completely chewed up my costume.”
“The Divergent Series: Allegiant” opens March 9 in cinemas nationwide from Pioneer Films.
When I posted an image from game night of a session of Coup: The Dystopian Universe, I got a quick inquiry about what sleeves I was using on my Coup cards.
As it turns out, Coup has some rather large-sized cards; much larger than the regular CCG size that Magic: The Gathering made popular. I should know, none of my old Ultra Pros fit. So I had to buy a special large-sized Ultra Pro sleeve, as shown here:
Coup is one of my favorite games. It’s fast, it’s furious, and you don’t feel so bad even if you get killed early on. But the secret is that you need to have the cards protected so that they don’t become marked; the game is all about bluffing what card you have and if the cards are marked, it becomes harder to play it correctly without any cheating as someone tries to figure out what card you have in your hand.
Some kind of card sleeve is necessary. I would have liked to use a Top Loader for the best protection, but I can’t find any Top Loader that is big enough. Regular sleeves though were availabe. Ultra Pro recognized the growing market for board games, and created a special 65x100mm size of card sleeve just for board gamers.
That’s what you want — there are several other brands that offer 65x100mm sleeves, but Ultra Pro is one of the more recognizable and well-stocked brands. So get this size of sleeve if you want to protect your Coup cards.
If you can’t find it in stock at your local hobby store, consider ordering from my affiliate link to help support this site. Thanks!