Two women

LAST October my mother died.

A superb addition to the franchise

WHEN noted video game producer Keiji Inafune left Capcom at the turn of the decade, not a few quarters figured the Mega Man franchise, to whose success he contributed much, would grind to a virtual halt. And, for a while, those from the outside looking in were right; longtime developers in the company understood that the responsibility of taking on a successful intellectual property required following in giant footsteps. Only until Koji Oda of Resident Evil fame decided to do so last year did longtime followers entertain hope for a revival of the series.

Spreading unity through music

A HARMONIOUS string instrumental of “Habanera” from George Bizet’s opera, Carmen filled the living room of the Gaston Mansion in Silay City, Negros Occidental — considered as “the seat of arts and culture in Western Visayas.”

A good man with a gun

SAY THE name “Jacques Tourneur” and the first word come to mind for most folks is “horror” (the second is possibly “cat”). Tourneur had been directing since 1931, mainly shorts, finally made a splash early ’40s working for producer Val Lewton in Cat People (low budget, eerily beautiful) and I Walked With a Zombie (despite the pulpy title, my favorite adaptation of Jane Eyre). Say “Tourneur” and the word “westerns” rarely pops up -- but some of his westerns do in fact represent his finest work.

An easy recommend for all and sundry

MOST GAMERS are familiar with the modern dungeon crawler, with the likes of Diablo III, Torchlight II, and Path of Exile proving to be critical and commercial successes. That’s not to say that every release in the category follows the same formula; such notables as Class of Heroes, The Dark Spire, and The Lost Child are superb takes on turn-based exploration and fighting in elaborate milieus. They’re not for everyone, though; while compelling, they generally rely on the slow burn of an interesting story to keep players hooked, and their often-complicated battle systems can be a doozy to navigate through, especially for newcomers to the genre.

An unforgettable city

“STOP MASS TOURISM.” The bright red letters were stencilled on a tourist map sign near the Roman Wall ruins in Barcelona’s Ciutat Vella (Old Town).

Springtime for Hitler

ERNST LUBITSCH’s To Be or Not to Be opened to mixed reviews and so-so box office. A picture that poked fun at Nazism and Adolf Hitler? At a time when fascism threatened to swallow the world (Pearl Harbor happened a few months before)?

A wonderful blast from the past

WHEN producer Souhei Niikawa and principal programmer Yoshitsuna Kobayashi set out to make Disgaea: Hour of Darkness from scratch, they had no idea that it would stand the test of time. True, they were determined to meet the objectives set forth by publisher Nippon Ishi Software; they aimed to come up with a role-playing game that both adhered to popular mechanics and pushed the envelope in terms of execution. Even as they succeeded in doing so, however, they could not have envisioned an outcome that exceeded their highest expectations.

Discovering Surabaya’s spices and steams

AS THE crow flies, or an airplane would, Surabaya in Indonesia’s Java Island would just be two hours away from my hometown of Davao in the Philippines’ southern island of Mindanao.

Catanduanes: heritage, surfing, and island hopping

CATANDUANES — located in the archipelago’s Pacific seaboard off mainland Bicol region — promises pleasant surprises and lives up to its moniker as “The Happy Island” despite its seeming obscurity.

Islands of memory and imagining

IN THE bleak winter of 1989, as a graduate student living in a windswept campus on the edge of the Scottish highlands, I found in a tiny bookstore a copy of James Hamilton-Paterson’s Playing With Water, which at that time had the subtitle Alone On a Philippine Island. Just another one of those vacation travel books, I thought. But at least it’s about home. I started reading it that evening, and finished the book in the gray light of dawn, close to tears -- and grateful at having been gifted with such a wonderful and unsettling read.

Time has not been kind

LONGTIME gamers remember Shenmue fondly for what it tried to achieve. The open-world adventure brawler was revolutionary in its ideas, trying its hardest to blend an engaging narrative, extensive exploration sprinkled with minigames of various types, quick time events, and combat sequences. Released back in 1999 as a Sega Dreamcast exclusive, it met with extremely positive praise, but somehow failed to parlay its critical acclaim into commercial appeal.
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