Today’s Commentary #1

Modern Retro – Nintendo Wii

The Classic Controller is the highlight of the Wii’s retro gaming experience as it dramatically increases the old school feel of games. Add to that the Wii’s classic games compilations, the Wii’s ability to play the Gamecube library and the Wii Virtual Console and you’ll find the Wii is a major player in retro goodness. But there are disappointments as well. Some games that would benefit from the Classic Controller are incompatible. And, sadly but understandably, Nintendo no longer allows downloading from its massive Wii Virtual Console library.

Classic Controller compatible Wii games I own:

Baroque, Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon, Kirby’s Dream Collection: Special Edition, The Last Story, Namco Museum Remix, SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1, Tournament of Legends

Wii games I own that I wish were compatible:

Alien Syndrome, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, MadWorld, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Sin & Punishment: Star Successor

The Influence of Wolfbane

I believe Wolfbane (1957), a novel by Frederick Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth, had an enormous impact on the creation of The Matrix film by the Wachowskis. Perhaps this didn’t happen directly and I’m not saying that the Wachowskis are hacks. All great ideas are built on others. Regardless, there are so many vivid images in the Pohl and Kornbluth novel that come to life in much the same way as the Wachowskis movie that I have to call it out. I plan to write more about that in the future but in my most recent reading of this novel, something else occurred to me. There is a strong connection between Wolfbane and the television show Sense8. Here is a line from the Wolfbane wikipedia page in the plot summary of the novel:

“… eight minds joined together to facilitate more complex tasks than a single human Component could manage.”

Could you summarize Sense8 any better than that? Who are the creators of Sense8? Yep, the Wachowskis. Again, not a knock on them but an opportunity to lift up a great novel that has outsized influence when compared to its popularity.

Comics – The Last Heroes

The Last Heroes is a comic book compilation of issues #1 – 4 of Edge by Steven Grant and Gil Kane. The first three issues were released by Malibu Comics in the mid-1990s. Issue #4 was not released until this compilation in 2004. It’s a gritty, dark story with a slick, bright art style. Steven Grant writes in the Afterword, “Despite the earnest trappings, I always viewed The Last Heroes as a comedy.” Sometimes contradictions like these work but not in this case. There is an adequate vision for the project (superheroes originate in a lab but the chance of creating any new superheroes is destroyed) however the execution is lacking. First of all, nearly every superhero has a cosmetic change (hair and/or costume) in a four issue series. Not cool. I am repeatedly confused as to who is doing what. Even in the last panel. Second, in a sea of fantastic super powers, the guy taking out super heroes is doing so by shooting tiny needles from his wrist. He never once uses the laser pistol or short sword that hang at his side. He just uses the needles again and again from the first issue to the last, until someone eventually comes up with a brilliant plan to put on a suit of armor the needles can’t pierce. Lame. Finally, the story simply falls flat even when the art succeeds. The speech given at the end the series is a prime example. Mr. Ultimate looks impassioned with fist clenched, mouth wide and eyes filled with madness, but it doesn’t match his ending words, “We accept nothing short of victory, but true victory requires help. We want the best for everyone. Trust us.” No crescendo. Time to move on. Rating: 386