A much-needed update

CONSIDERING that Metal Max Xeno is just the second in the series to be released in the West after Metal Saga on the PlayStation 2, it’s hard to believe that 27 years have passed since the original Metal Max made its way to the Nintendo Family Computer. And how the title evolved from concept to fruition is a story in and of itself. Following the dismal sales of Metal Max 4: Gekko No Diva (3DS, 2013) and of the mixed reception to Metal Max: Fireworks (smartphone, 2015), publisher Kadokawa Games saw fit to swing the pendulum back to consoles and green-lit the latest iteration for the PS4.

Aiming to please

AT THE TURN of the millennium, SNK Corp. came out with the two-dimensional SNK Gals’ Fighters on the Neo Geo Pocket Color. Designed to be the female version of the hugely successful The King of Fighters series, it was released near the end of the handheld’s life cycle. Needless to say, it was an attempt to boost flagging sales; it tried to widen the user base by making 10 distaff characters from popular licenses its protagonists under proven gameplay mechanics.

The undisputed king

LET’S FACE IT. The NBA 2K franchise is a venerable one built on both the intrinsic pull of its source material and the collective talent of its developers. Never has the National Basketball Association (NBA) been more popular, and its already immense global reach -- propped up by outstanding leadership and instantly recognizable marquee names -- continues to grow by the day. Meanwhile, Visual Concepts has turned the otherwise-vicarious experience of appreciating matches at the sport’s highest level into an extremely impressive undertaking.

Children’s book writer fights the stigma of HIV-AIDS

ENZO, Gab, Chuchay, and Luis join a support group on social media under their online alter egos. Enzo starts a group chat and sets a date to meet with the group’s other members. At a coffee shop one day, they all get together because of something called “Pete.”

The finest by far

WHEN Microsoft sought to expand the reach of its acclaimed Forza series shortly after the turn of the decade, it chose to tap another developer for the purpose. Early in the millennium, it formed Turn 10 Studios precisely to build a franchise that would not just rival, but better, the competition on any gaming platform. And, having seen the immensely positive results, it didn’t want its creative arm to be distracted from continuing to improve Forza Motorsport; after all, it was one thing to get to the top, and quite another to stay there.

Monster, Inc.

By Noel Vera Video Review My Neighbor Totoro Directed by Hayao Miyazaki (CAUTION: plot and narrative twists — which aren’t all that much and anyway aren’t the heart...

Good intentions

THERE’S NO QUESTION that the Gundam franchise has become huge to the point of ubiquity. These days, offshoots of animation studio Sunrise’s intellectual property can be found practically anywhere, way beyond the small and big screens and into toy establishments, hobby shops, book and video game stores, and collectors’ corners. It has become so ingrained in popular culture that a 65-foot-tall Unicorn mecha in Odaiba stands as one of Japan’s biggest — literally and figuratively — tourist attractions.

Tom Hardy brings out Marvel’s darker side in new movie Venom

LOS ANGELES — In the new movie Venom, British actor Tom Hardy plays an investigative journalist whose body is invaded by an alien with violent instincts who feeds on a diet of human flesh.

Family plot

WITH all the horror films that popped out last year (and continue to emerge this year) few if any come close to being as bizarre as Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

A love letter of longing and living

WHEN KADOKAWA GAMES released God Wars: Future Past on the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 last year, it put forth a tactical role-playing game awash in Japanese lore. Its story, which began with a Queen’s sacrifice of a daughter to appease the gods and continued with the other daughter striving to find out why, offered a stunning look into the history of the Shinto-steeped Land of the Rising Sun. Parenthetically, the hope that the narrative would pull in and not alienate Western audiences was answered with success on retail shelves.

Memory play

MICHAEL Almereyda’s Marjorie Prime (2017) adapts Jordan Harrison’s Pulitzer-nominated play to the big screen in a small way, and it’s marvelous. Eighty-five year old Marjorie (Lois Smith, who played the role in two previous stage productions) suffers the initial symptoms of Alzheimer’s; to help her deal with the memory loss, her daughter Tess (Geena Davis) and son-in-law Jon (Tim Robbins) have installed a “Prime” — a hologram-projected Artificial Intelligence (AI) — representing Marjorie’s husband Walter (Jon Hamm) when he was a relatively young 40.

Far from perfect, still…

CLOSE to the turn of the decade, animator Pendleton Ward developed an idea that took root back when he was still enrolled at the California Institute of the Arts and germinated from a short that subsequently aired on Nicktoons. Inspired by his experience working on The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, he fine-tuned his concept and steered it to fruition. His creation wound up being an immensely successful Cartoon Network series. Indeed, Adventure Time pulled in a loyal viewership that generated high ratings across all age demographics, with the young ones, the young once, and those in between appreciating its unique blend of cutting-edge humor, hand-drawn visuals, and storyboard-driven narratives that tugged at the heartstrings.
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