RIP Switchblade Comb

posted by Mojo Marshall

Switchblade Comb

The gang here at Switchblade Comb has decided to close up shop. With our families, careers, schooling, and other projects taking precedence we just don’t have the time and energy to dedicate to posting stories on a regular basis like we once did in the past. Thank you to the hard work of all the contributors past and present for making the site so special. Thank you to all of our readers for not letting our rants and raves fall on deaf ears. And thank you to anyone that has helped support the site over the years. We can’t say thank you enough. Peace.


posted by Andrew Cross

Coldplay at the Hollywood Bowl. May 4th 2012. The day of Adam Yauch’s death.

Movie Of The Decade: Zombie Ass

posted by Andrew Cross

Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead.

Whatever you say Japan.

Video Game Music On The Current

posted by Andrew Cross

In case you missed it, The Current Presents did an episode in which they played nothing but video game music. The show was hosted by Emily Reese and if you haven’t checked out her gaming music podcast called Top Score on Classical MPR, please do so. She’s great and the podcast is fantastic.

Diablo III Will Be Out May 15th

posted by Andrew Cross

The Holy Grail of hack & slash loot gaming has gotten a drop date of May 15th on PC.

Downloadable: Quantum Conundrum

posted by Andrew Cross

Quantum Conundrum is an upcoming puzzle/adventure FPS from Airtight Games and Square Enix. The creative director on the Conundrum is Kim Swift, who was the lead designer on a little Valve game called Portal. You know, that one with the portals?

In the above video, Swift lays out the unique puzzle elements of the game. It’s expected to show up on Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Network, and PC sometime this summer.

Source: IGN

Late 2 The Game – Rochard

posted by Andrew Cross

When first setting your eye upon Rochard, you would be quick and wrong to dismiss it as “one of those little games.” You know what I mean. Anything that is downloadable off the PlayStation Network or Xbox LIVE, and whatever can be played on a smart phone. Games that gestate from the bosom of the internet have the unwarranted stigma from ignorant gamers as being less then fulfilling gaming experiences. True, there is a lot of crap out there for less than 5 bucks, but don’t forget the worse garbage that costs $60. Downloads can be very rich, focused — and most of all — fun ways to spend your time. They’re made with as much passion as anything that comes on a DVD or Blu-ray, and the results can be truly awesome sometimes.

Rochard is from Recoil Games. It’s a 2D sidescroller built with 3D polygons, so the worlds don’t look completely flat. The background and foreground strikingly stand out in whatever location you’re running through. The game has a soft, Saturday morning cartoon look to it. Structures and ships have a lifelike feel to them (as much as anything built in futuristic space can), while characters are very much cartoons.

You play as big-gutted astro-miner, John Rochard, who leads a crew of other roughnecks in the oldest pursuit known to man — striking pay dirt. While drilling on an asteroid under the foot of the Skyrig Corporation, John and his crew stumble upon an ancient alien temple. As is the case with most alien hardware, everyone wants a piece of it for their own petty devices. So before you know it, John and his crew have to fight off space thugs and corporate agents who will laser anyone in their way of harnessing the power of the alien artifact.

The only thing John has to fight back with is his G-Lifter, a gravity manipulator gun that can easily move heavy objects by projecting a beam onto them. Using the right shoulder buttons and the right analog stick, you can latch onto most inanimate objects and easily swing them around. You use this as a way to solve physics-based puzzles and to launch heavy things at oncoming attackers. Over the course of the game, the G-Lifter gets upgraded to carry a variety of bombs and a laser gun of sorts. We are told the bombs and laser are used as “mining tools” during regular use, but they make as much practical sense as the Gatling gun on the rover in Armageddon.

John also has the ability to tap into the gravity generators of whatever rock he is on and turn said gravity off. You do this by holding down the L1 button, and you can keep it pressed for the whole game if you want. You aren’t limited its use. This is helpful when jumping to higher platforms and moving boxes that even the G-Lifter can’t move in weightier gravity.

The meat of Rochard is in the versatility of the G-Lifter. The game throws a variety of puzzles at you that aren’t very complicated, but they do require a healthy dose of lateral thinking. When you start out, you’re given only a few tools to get from one place to another. “I’ve got what I’ve got, so work with it,” was the philosophy I went with as I ran through Rochard. Figuring out ways to manipulate gravity, get through shields with different protective qualities, and fight off goons all at the same time can be a little daunting. A little frustrating too, but never not fun. As with any puzzle game, once you solve the conundrum, the satisfaction is immense.

What I was most pleased with while playing Rochard is that amount of new perks it would throw at me. Just when I got a handle on a new function of the G-Lifter, I would be presented with something new. For example, nearly halfway through the game, John is able to upgrade his G-Lifter so that he can tether to crates hanging from conveyer belts. This gave me a whole new way to traverse areas — and it didn’t happen until over halfway through! I was also given a short section to learn how to properly use my new tether so that I wouldn’t feel lost. The game never just gives you a tool and tells you to piss off. You get time to become a badass with it.

Rochard was about a 6 hour time sink for me, and it never felt like it was repeating itself. I always had the sense that, as John, I was figuring out new and creative ways to solve any problem thrown at me —be it an enemy or a blocked path.

The only instances when the game really got to me were in some of the later levels when you have to fight off waves of enemies. John isn’t too quick on his feet and doesn’t favor large amounts of body armor. The controls can be cumbersome when put into a situation that requires you to act fast. Whenever I was put into a section where I had to lay the hammer down, I found myself dying off several times because some flying drone got in a lucky pot shot. I wouldn’t say the game is broken, but at times I wish John was wearing a miner’s helmet instead of a really spiffy trucker hat.

The story itself is also a bit of a wash. The voice acting and character designs are great, but the plot escalates the mythology of the hidden temple a little too far. The chief villain, Maximillion, is underdeveloped and is just evil for evil’s sake. John and he are supposed to have a back history, but I never fell for the betrayal, as I could see it coming light years away. John Rochard is a great character though, with his blue collar attitude and less than typical lead hero physique. He’s a great change of pace in an industry that favors macho sensibilities. It’s nice to play as someone who is relatable to some of us with everyday jobs.

If you have ten bucks burning a hole in your pocket, download Rochard. It continues the trend that not all downloadables are throwaway experiences. You get an action game and great puzzle game all rolled into one with this baby, and that isn’t anything to look down upon. It’s a bargain.

Developed by: Recoil Games
For: Download on PlayStation Network, Steam, and Mac App Store

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The Announcement Of A New SimCity

posted by Andrew Cross

Tonight at the 2012 Game Developers Conference, EA unveiled a brand new edition of SimCity from Maxis. They basically just announced its existence and 2013 release on PC, but word is the game with have some sort of massive online social function to it. Like, your city will effect other neighboring player’s cities.

The Reveal Of Assassin’s Creed III

posted by Andrew Cross

No gameplay footage, but you get a sense of the new direction this series taking. I’m just happy you’ll still be able to Parkour your way around the landscape you’re playing in. This time, via the beautiful trees of the Mohawk Valley near upstate New York. Just saying, I want things to change in this series, but some staples should remain.

Assassin’s Creed III is coming out October 31st, 2012 on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. It’s even coming to the Wii U at some point.

The Making Of Halo 4

posted by Andrew Cross

Halo 4 is on its way for a Holiday 2012 release on Xbox 360. After watching this First Look video about the creation of the game, I almost expect a financier to say at the end of it, “Total cost: One. Billion. Dollars.” Seriously. This game looks HUGE.

The Weekend Movie Recap: 3/2/12

posted by Rolocop

THE LORAX – Dr. Suess’ children’s books haven’t had a very good track record translating to the big screen.  THE GRINCH was a giant turd that captured none of Suess’ wit and spirit, full of inappropriate pop culture references and an awful off-the-cuff performance by Jim Carrey.  HORTON HEARS A WHO, though a vast improvement, still suffered from modern storytelling cliches.  Also, it felt like there was a lot of unneeded material added to expand the short story into a feature.  Since this latest one was from the makers of the criminally overrated kids movie, DESPICABLE ME, I had very little hope for this one.

I don’t remember too much of this book, but I think I liked it.  I generally love Dr. Suess.  In this adaptation, the story takes place in a town that is 100% artificial.  All of the trees and grass are made of plastic.  A pre-teen named Ted has a crush on his neighbor Audrey, who fantasizes about a world where real trees exist.  She convinces Ted that trees did in fact exist, but it’s a complete mystery as to what happened to them.  Determined to discover the truth, Ted journeys to the outer portions of the city where a creature called the Once-ler lives.  This mysterious being tells Ted the story about The Lorax, a creature who is the guardian of mother earth.  Ted learns how the Once-ler unwittingly destroyed nature, but is there a way to restore it?  Oh yeah, there is also a villain who runs the town that doesn’t want anything to do with real trees, since it would ruin his scheme of profiting from canned air, which he sells.

From watching the trailers, I was prepared for a loud and obnoxious time as the Danny DeVito voiced Lorax made smart-ass comments and improvised his way through this supposed kids movie.  Thankfully, the movie is nothing like the trailers.  Imagine my surprise within the first 2 minutes, there was an all out huge musical number that introduces the town.  It was lively energetic, full of color and witty humor, much like most of the film.

Voiced by Zac Efron, Ted is a likable enough character to bring you into the story.  But most of the film is told in flashback when the Once-ler was younger and meets The Lorax (who surprisingly isn’t in the movie all too much).  He makes friends with animals as he follows his dream to make hats out of trees.  This portion was cute as most of the animals are absolutely adorable.  I loved the teddy bears and the singing fish (who have the perfect Suess look).  There’s lots of precious moments of cuteness provided by the animals.  The design of the city is also quite imaginative, as it should be considering the source.

But, just like the book, it has a nice moral message about preserving the environment.  DeVito keeps it pretty subtle as The Lorax.  I kept waiting for his character to become pretty goofy because of the advertisements, but the extent of his silliness ends with the trailers.  He’s actually quite serious.  The ending is satisfying enough and actually made me shed a tear.  However, don’t think it’s super preachy.  It’s not.  My only real complaint about the movie is the villain.  He’s not really funny (and the character attempts to be) and I found him unnecessary.  However, it’s not that awful of a character that he ruins the whole movie.

This is a nice, sweet, slightly whimsical, and short (86 minutes) family film that will entertain the youngsters and their parents alike.  Finally, a Dr. Suess adaptation that didn’t embarrass itself.  Wide release  Rating:


Also opening this weekend:

W.E. – Well, Madonna’s second film as a director is light years better than her debut (FILTH & WISDOM).  It focuses on two romances: The affair between King Edward VIII & Wallis Simpson, and it parallels with a romance between a married woman (named after Wallis) and a Russian security guard.  The performances are quite good (especially Andrea Riseborough as Wallis) and Madonna is showing promise as a visual storyteller.  Unfortunately, there  are some pacing issues toward the end, and a lackluster coda that kept me from fully recommending it.  Now playing at The Edina.  Rating:

CORIOLANUS – Ralph Fiennes stars and directs this modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s play of the same name.  It’s definitely ambitious to take the play’s original settings and replace them with the backdrop of the current middle eastern conflict.  There are some good performances (especially from Vanessa Redgrave), but Gerard Butler is completely clueless as Fiennes enemy. The direction gets sloppy many times (too much shaky cam and choppy editing).  But the main problem is that this unique approach doesn’t suit the material (which isn’t Shakespeare’s best by any means), and doesn’t translate well to the screen at all.  Opens at The Lagoon.  Rating:

PROJECT X – A found footage movie.  This time it’s not a horror film or a super hero movie, but a raunchy teen comedy.  Kids throw a giant party and try to get laid.  That’s it!  The lead characters are incredibly unlikable, the found footage gimmick doesn’t make any sense and fails on every level.  Besides 2 or 3 awkward chuckles, every joke in this dismal comedy falls flat on it’s face.  This was not a fun movie to sit though.  One of the worst of the year.  It also has the worst moral ever: “It doesn’t matter if you destroy the entire neighborhood while throwing an irresponsibly huge party, just as long as it makes you popular”.  I might let that moral slide if the film were actually funny.  It’s not.  Wide release.  Rating:

CRAZY HORSE – Was not screened for me.  At The Lagoon.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA – Was not screened for me.  At St. Anthony.

Anticipated Films: FRANKENWEENIE

posted by Rolocop

Tim Burton’s latest Stop-Motion animated film (based on his 1984 short) arrives on October 5th.  This looks like classic Burton.  I do think it’s funny that this trailer is released before the trailer for DARK SHADOWS, which comes out in just 2 months.   Weird.

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