Dom Reviews: Cuphead

Just as the internet commotion covering Cuphead‘s huge success, intense fan community, and difficulty has finally seemed to die down, I’ve had a chance to complete it. Long story short, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it checks many of the boxes that make it a great experience both in style and mechanical substance.

(all photos courtesy the author)

The game’s complete name, Cuphead: Don’t Deal With the Devil, handily explains what you’re getting into. Cuphead and his pal Mugman stumble upon a casino where they make a lot of money. However, they (more specifically Cuphead) fall into the trap of gambling against the Devil. Losing their bet, they beg for an alternative. In order to save their own souls, they must hunt down other debtor’s soul contracts, which comes down to getting in lots of fights.

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Sonic Mania: A Nostalgic Return to Form

(screencapped from Sonic Mania)

2017 has been a hell of a year for video games. One could argue it has been the best year in quite a while! We’ve seemingly had at least one Game of the Year contender every month, with no sign of that stopping as we approach the end of the year. We’ve had new franchises crop up such as Horizon: Zero Dawn, older franchises getting rejuvenated such as Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and the continuous drip of indie games such as Night in the Woods and the upcoming Cuphead. Quite honestly, many avid game players are overwhelmed with options in a good way. Nostalgia trips haven’t been left out either. As I said, Zelda has come back into play and pixel based indie games are as popular as ever. The perfect crossover here, for me, was the release of Sonic Mania.

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Throwback Thursdays: The Pagemaster

On my latest pre-Halloween adventure through the realm of nostalgia, I decided to revisit a movie that—for some reason—absolutely terrified me as a kid: 1994’s The Pagemaster. To say that any movie terrified me is really something, considering that I saw Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom at age five and Jurassic Park was my favorite movie at age six, but evidently watching a tiny, animated Macaulay Culkin scamper through an uncanny valley of living books was on another level of disturbing.

This uniquely 90s nugget of media is about a boy named Richard who is terrified of absolutely everything until he has to go on an adventure to escape from a library that has somehow been turned into a fantasy realm full of monsters and dragons and pirates and such. Helping him along the way are three anthropomorphized living books with creepy faces and weird little arms and legs. Are you not shaking in your boots yet? Come on.

pagemaster-books-animation

I’m screaming inside but trying to be cool about it.

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Trailer Tuesdays: Beauty and the Beast Teaser Trailer

Disney has recently been remaking some of their classic movies as live action movies. First, we had Maleficent, which was a remake of Sleeping Beauty from the villain’s perspective. Then there are Cinderella and Jungle Book, which, unlike Maleficent, seem to be more or less pretty straightforward retellings of the animated moviesthough I presume Jungle Book had a little more going on since there was very little story in the animated movie. (I haven’t seen it yet.) Then there is Pete’s Dragon, which looks to be a dark retelling of the Disney movie. And now, there is Beauty and the Beast.

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Throwback Thursdays: Dragon Flyz

The 90’s was a weird time for animated children’s shows. Voice acting and animation standards were both painfully low, but because shoddy production didn’t cost much, it seems like if you could throw together a concept in under twenty seconds, network executives would give you a primetime spot. In 1995, Anthony and John Gentile, living as they did in this golden age of anything-goes production, presumably hit a massive blunt and then pitched something along the lines of “What if… Mad Max, except like throw in some Star Wars shit and like… there are dragons”. Out of this visionary dream came Dragon Flyz, a children’ show about a barren earth shattered by nuclear war, where a tiny group of survivors has built a floating city to escape the irradiated wreckage of what they call “Old Earth”. Also dragons exist now and you can ride them. How? Nuclear mutation. Don’t think about it too hard, okay, there are just dragons now and they understand English and it’s cool as hell. They eat lava.

dragon flyz vhs

This is very 90’s-level cool.

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Nostalgia as a Driving Force

In recent years, nostalgia has been a driving force in the geek industry. Reboots, remakes, and old properties have dominated sales to a considerable degree. This is interesting, but a lot has already been said about why we feel nostalgia (and here, via Science Friday). I want to focus more on how this effect is important.

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Ghibli Month: My Neighbor Totoro

Tsunderin: Soooo yeah, as you can probably tell this definitely is not Grave of the Fireflies. It fact, it may even be its polar opposite. If you were looking forward to reading our review of the World War 2 tragedy, I apologize. Luckily for you, Ace has already written a piece on the film, so all is not lost!

As much as the film is beautiful and for all the impact and wonderful storytelling Isao Takahata gives us, there’s just a certain amount of emotion one has to be willing to expend when preparing to watch this movie. I think many people will agree with me in saying that Grave of the Fireflies is an important movie, a movie that everyone should see, but it’s difficult to watch it more than once. As someone who’s seen it twice, I think I’ve reached my quota of watching children starve to death.

my neighbor totoroSo let’s move on to something a little more lighthearted and more expressive about the joys of childhood, instead. Yes, it’s My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro), and if you know anything about me, know this: I fucking love Totoro. So does Ace. In fact, while Ace and I were both studying abroad in Japan we managed to find our way into a Ghibli store and met with the largest stuffed Totoro I’ve ever seen (she would have bought it, too, if not for the fact it wouldn’t have fit on the plane home). In short, this is the movie I was warning you for regarding concerns of our nostalgia getting the better of us.

Of course, even if you haven’t seen the film before, it would be difficult to not feel some sense of nostalgia for it as every aspect of the film works its hardest to portray a sense of comfort, a sense of safety that makes people long for the ‘good old days’.

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