Thoughts About Stuff: Voice Actors

We love video games, we love cartoons, and we love animated things in general, so how have we not praised the hell out of good voice actors yet? Okay, so we have praised them quite a bit in different articles, especially when I’ve discussed panels for DC Animated movies like Assault on Arkham and Justice League: Gods and Monsters. Voice actors are so key and important to making an animated feature or game come to life, there is a reason that Andrea Romano always asks if Kevin Conroy is free when she needs a voice for Batman, and it isn’t just because he’s the most well-known voice. It’s because he gave Batman a voice that defined him for a generation of fans, and a voice that showed that Batman was the main character and Bruce Wayne was the mask. I along with many others would say that when I read Batman comics I hear Kevin Conroy’s voice, and that is a very special praise.

There are so many different things you can praise voice actors for, and I want to try and cover all of them, because it is really impressive.

For example, have you ever really noticed how many different voices and characters are actually played by the same actors? It’s pretty incredible when you do some digging and see how much range some voice actors really have. For example, did you know that the voice of Bender in Futurama is also the voice of Wakka and Kimahri in Final Fantasy X, as well as the voice of Dr. Drakken in Kim Possible?

Bender

They’re all voiced by the incredible John DiMaggio, who has made his entire career on voice acting. If you’re familiar with all of those characters then you know how different and dramatic the differences in the voices are for John DiMaggio, and you should be even more impressed.

What about female voice actors? Don’t they deserve some shine too? Well if you’re talking about female voice actors it’s almost necessary you talk about Jennifer Hale. She’s the voice of Female Shepard in Mass Effect, Killer Frost in Assault on Arkham, and Jean Grey in multiple animated iterations. That’s really just scratching the surface of Hale’s incredible list of work.

Femshep

How about we talk about some actors that you may or may not have known also did voice work? Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad fame is the voice of Todd on the Netflix original show Bojack Horseman (bitch!) J.K. Simmons who played J Jonah Jameson in the Sam Raimi trilogy of Spider-Man is also the voice of the Yellow M&M as well as Tenzin from The Legend of Korra. How about that one singer that said you had a “Beautiful Soul”, did you know he’s the voice of Roxas in Kingdom Hearts and Nightwing in Young Justice? Maybe you knew those things, but maybe you didn’t, and that’s credit to these actors being able to act in many different styles and mediums.

This is a tiny and small sample of the voice actors I’ve come to like and respect dearly, and I just thought they deserved a shoutout. There are so many more that I could give examples of how they’re great, like Troy Baker, Laura Bailey, Nolan North, Tara Strong, David Hayter, and so many more.

All I’m saying is, the next time you’re watching something animated or playing a game, consider who is helping to bring that character to life for you.

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Funko POP – Funko POP Everywhere

Funko POP Vinyl Figures can be found everywhere,  You may have noticed that there are POPs for just about every franchise known to man,  If you can name a franchise that isn’t in POP form, chances are it will be soon.

What is it that makes these 3.75 inch figures so adorable and collection worthy?  Really, it’s a number of reasons.  The usual price tag is $9.99 and the availability throughout retail stores helps.  Their lines include popular franchises such as Star Wars, Breaking Bad and Harry Potter.  In addition, notice the huge, square head with black beady eyes and no visible mouth.  These figures can pretty much sit in an office, a room or in a box amongst others of its kind.

vegeta

For those that are serious collectors, the figures in an unopened box are a must.  Some figures have been discontinued while others were distributed in limited quantities.  At San Diego Comic Con (SDCC), Conan O’Brien held his TV show and distributed four variations of his persona in POP form to members of the audience. Each one goes for at least $100 on eBay and the set of four is easily listed at $600 or more.

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Think this is crazy? Check out some of the Freddy Funko POP variations.  These are usually released every year at SDCC in extremely limited quantities.  As the years go by, the usual asking price on eBay is a whopping $1000 or more!

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 12.40.53 PM

Nerd Swole recently experienced the long lines and craze for Funko POPs in our recent trip to SDCC.  We were given a checklist of which Funkos we wanted and in the end, we got most of the items on our list.  Sadly, some POPs sell out rather quickly.  The tiny SDCC sticker on the box is what makes them so sought after as they are labeled as “exclusives”.

Notice the SDCC logo
Notice the SDCC logo

While we could never dream of possibly ever collecting all the POPs variations in existence, we do feel these figures make a great gift for any age.

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Thoughts About Stuff: Arkham Knight PC Port Issue

This “Thoughts About Stuff” has been one I’ve been thinking about for quite some time, but I was just reminded how serious an issue it can be considering how disastrous things are going for Batman: Arkham Knight on PC. While Rocksteady’s third and final installment in the Arkham franchise has gotten glowing reviews for it’s new innovations, solid story, and always incredible gameplay, they are getting absolutely trashed for the Steam version of Batman: Arkham Knight. 

And it is understandably so. The list of known issues is quite long. Things like repeated crashing, multiple glitches, maxing at 30 fps (unless modded), and just poor performance in general. The reviews are as bad as 31% positive on Steam, which for a beloved franchise like the Arkham one, it’s very hard to believe that the game is that bad. Rocksteady in general has just had a really great rapport and history with their fans and the games they developed.

Rocksteady has gone on record as saying their monitoring the situation closely and are discussing it with the group the outsourced the PC port to. So, on the one hand you can’t blame Rocksteady directly for the issues that have occurred, but on the other, they seemed to have brought in a group that did an incredibly poor job, and released a game that simply was not ready to be released. So Rocksteady is at least a little bit at fault, but it honestly very surprising that an issue such as PC porting is still such a problem.

Especially for a game that was expected to be as large and popular as Batman: Arkham Knight. Consider how popular Batman Arkham Asylum and Arkham City were on summer sales/humble bundles and it’s simply startling that Rocksteady would allow a product that couldn’t be further from complete to be released on PC. On top of this consider how many games are completely trashed for their PC ports (Resident Evil 4, GTA IV, etc) you’d think that Rocksteady would understand the importance of having a good PC launch as well. Apparently not.

At the end of the day, a game that looks this beautiful on one platform

should at least be in the same ballpark on another engine. Hopefully this drives home the lesson for developers about PC ports.

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Thoughts About Stuff: eSports Betting

You can bet on eSports. How crazy is that? I don’t even mean like go to Vegas and find crazy odds and interesting bets, you can go to various different websites and bet virtual items on games or real money on some sites. That’s how big gaming and eSports has become. Crazy. I’ve discussed before how impressed with the eSports scene in general I am, but this is another level. So let’s talk some eSports betting.

Obviously there has been a rise in multiple fantasy sports (football, basketball, baseball), and that probably has a hand in creating the current scene we have on eSports betting. People make thousands upon thousands of dollars picking the correct players in sports that are primed to score some points. Then people realized that there is such an audience already for eSports, why not start a betting website, and there is even ingame currency, so why not use that? So then eSports betting was created.

Let’s really consider how crazy that is. There are people who play video games as a profession for their work. There are also people who do not play at a professional level, and are full time streamers making a living. There are some people that are full time commentators on games. Now there are people making thousands of dollars betting on eSports because of how popular that is. Crazy!

I’ve only recently began betting small gun skins on Counter Strike: Global Offensive, but there are people making bets worth thousands of dollars combining their knowledge of betting/gambling and just the pro scene in general. This isn’t just for CS:GO though it’s across most eSports games. Which really just increases the interest of people in the game, because now there is even more incentive to watch the pro scene of games, and it’ll only grow the scene.

Overall, I think these betting sites are good for the games AS LONG as PROFESSIONAL INTEGRITY is kept in check and nobody finds ways to rig games (which has already happened and those players were banned from the game). This audience becomes invested in the game and just spreads the word about how they won, from there the scene only grows, which is great! I’ve said it before, but it is certainly an interesting and fun time to be a gamer.

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Pokémon Origins is Everything

Being Friday, I would like to flashback to an exciting time in our childhoods.  Remember playing and beating Pokémon Red and Blue for the first time?  Then, when it came to the anime, Ash was a scrub and lost at the Indigo League.

You had one job
You had one job

Fast forward to late 2013 with the 6th generation release in Pokémon X and Y.  While these games were amazing and I loved the mega evolution concept, I felt that my childhood concluded with the release of the 4 episode special titled Pokémon Origins.

Red and Blue( or Green in Japan)
Red and Blue( or Green in Japan)

This special was everything I wanted it to be.  Right of the bat, Red picks Charmander as his starter.  In the first battle with Blue, Charmander is easily defeated by Squirtle.  I hated losing to the rival in the games but here I think it was necessary because the rival is always supposed to be one step ahead. I was even more stoked when Red faced Brock and had a Nidoran (male) with the move double kick.  I recall that approach so well in my early days.

Less of a ladies' man, more of a serious leader
Less of a ladies’ man, more of a serious leader

Being a short special,  most of the other gym leader battles weren’t shown.  However, special events like the Fossil Maniac at Mt. Moon and the Lavender Tower rescue of Mr. Fuji were shown.  The latter is also Red’s first run-in with Team Rocket.  The death of Cubone’s mother Marowak was explicitly stated which is something I’m sure the original anime could not have done.

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My favorite sequence involves Red infiltrating and rescuing the Silph Company.  He receives a Lapras from the employees and goes on to face Team Rocket boss Giovanni.  Giovanni wins the battle with his Nidoqueen, allowing him to escape. I think this loss simply sets up the gym leader fight in Virdian City.  In a way, it illustrates how far Red has come and how fearless he is in the face of adversity.  Oh, and Red receives the all powerful Master Ball for his heroism.  One thing that stood out to me is the fact that the Red character is supposed to be 10 years old but looks more like a teenager in this special. cue Pokémon war theories

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In the 8th gym battle, Red triumphs over Giovanni with Charizard defeating Rhydon.  Giovanni admires Red’s strength and decides to disband Team Rocket for good.  Red then ventures off to face the Elite Four and rival Blue to become the Champion.  Just like the games, Blue’s title reign is shortlived.  Now, not only did Red complete the storyline quest but he managed to capture 149 known entries in the PokéDex.

Could not agree more with this
Could not agree more with this

Alas, the final nod to the games finds Red in the Unknown dungeon.   He is there to capture the 150th Pokémon in Mewtwo. Initially, we see Mewtwo wipe the floor on all Red’s Pokémon but in comes in Charizard.  Here we see what I believe is the intent of Pokémon Origins.  Charizard mega evolves into Mega Charizard X and its enormous power boosts weakens Mewtwo, allowing Red to catch it with an ultra ball.

TL;DR version: I relived my childhood playing Pokémon Red when watching Pokémon Origins.  However, I felt the special was made to promote Mega Evolution for X/Y.

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Thoughts About Stuff: E3 2015

I’m going to go ahead and say it. You could make the argument that E3 2015 is the best E3 ever. Many people will be unsatisfied with this and want to say I’m stupid or some kind of fan boy, but in terms of fan service and hype I think E3 2015 is unmatched. The list of things to be excited for and the constant explosions of trending on the internet will tell you that there were a lot of announcements, expected or not, that just brought the house down.

By and large at this point in the current era of gaming I find that people will always complain about not having enough new Intellectual Properties (IPs) and that’s just something that I think is fine, because last year featured a fair amount of new IPs and arguably the best game of 2014 was a new IP (Destiny). So just taking a look at this year’s E3 thus far it’s hard not to be incredibly impressed with all of the companies, publishers, and developers.

To be absolutely honest with you, I didn’t have a moment during any of the conferences I watched where I just sat there scratching my head or just outright laughing at how bad or poorly executed a conference was. Which can’t be said for any of the other previous years I’ve watched. Microsoft 2013 comes to mind and EA’s 2014 smoke and fire during their conference is right there as well.

As for things that were hype train worthy, you can take your pick. Fallout 4Uncharted 4, Final Fantasy VII remake, Dishonored IIShenmue, Star Fox Zero, Xbox’s backwards compatibility, a new not so shabby looking Star Wars game, The Division, Kingdom Hearts 3, so on and so forth man.

I will say that one thing that has been a little disappointing is Nintendo. This is especially because I had them winning the conference last year. A lot of people will say they’re unsatisfied or just downright done with Nintendo after Nintendo’s conference, and overall I’m a little bit disappointed as well. That’s not really unusual for Nintendo fans though, simply because they have such large fanbases for their different flagship franchises. So obviously Metroid fans are upset, but Star Fox fans have to be ecstatic. Honestly I would have settled for a Splatoon multiplayer update (online matchmaking with friends or offline split screen). So things were very uneven for Nintendo but not downright terrible.

In spite of that, overall, I’m very satisfied with E3 2015 so far. Of course there is still time for this E3 to completely implode and become the worst thing ever, but right now this E3 deserves credit where credit is due.

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Thoughts About Stuff – Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles

We’ve covered Justice League: Gods and Monsters a couple of times now, discussing Bruce Timm, as well as showing the trailer. Over the course of a bout a week, Machinima has been releasing the Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles which has let us get to know the new Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman in 6 minute shorts. And they are quite different, as in really crazy different. When the trailer came out, a lot of people questioned the direction, but Nerd Swole always has faith in Bruce Timm, and it appears to have paid off, the shorts are quite popular and are building anticipation for the animated movie. Lets check out the Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles.

First there is “Twisted” featuring our new Batman voiced by Michael C. Hall.

And then there is “Bomb” featuring the new Superman voiced by Benjamin Bratt.

And finally, “Big” with Wonder Woman being voiced by Tamara Taylor.

Well, if you just looked at the thumbnails, you’ll probably see that this is for a much more mature audience than the classic Justice League. Then if you watched the shorts, you know it’s even more mature, dark, and morally gray than you even expected probably.

Just rethink about what just happened. Batman straight up caught and killed Harley Quinn by biting her neck, Superman fried the brain of a baby Brainiac with a minor second thought, and Wonder Woman just has fun murdering people. Pretty crazy.

DC has always excelled at multiversal stories, and while this doesn’t include another universe (yet?) it is just very interesting and fun to see such deviations from the characters we’re used to from the DC Trinity.

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Thoughts About Stuff: Jon Bernthal As The Punisher

If you haven’t heard, Jon Bernthal was cast as Frank Castle (The Punisher) for season 2 of Daredevil. Here was Bernthal’s response.

Marvel gets it man. What’s not to like as Jon Bernthal as The Punisher? Even if Daredevil were to fall flat in season 2 (there is no reason to believe will happen), you couldn’t argue at this very moment that Jon Bernthal is not a great choice for Frank Castle. You may know him from various things, but most likely as Shane from The Walking Dead. That role will likely tell you all you need to know about Bernthal’s ability to play The Punisher. Firstly, he’s certainly got the look, and while he’s not Italian, I don’t think that’s a big deal. The Punisher by and large just needs to be an in shape guy that looks intimidating with guns, which by all accounts Shane Walsh was, so Jon Bernthal already has that under his belt. The PunisherShane WalshFrank Castle as a character is a vigilante who intends to right the wrongs done to him by cleaning up the streets, by whatever means necessary. He requires a level of intensity and zealot-like commitment to his cause, and both those traits are things I think Bernthal has in spades. He’ll have to show some compassion, because Frank Castle is also incredibly compassionate to those he deems as innocent civilians. Castle also has a very painful past, should the show decide to delve into his character as more than a end-justifies-means vigilante, Bernthal will need to show some range. I’d imagine Frank Castle and Matt Murdock will clash on the issue of how Castle handles his problems (killing) and how Matt tries to handle his matters after his discussions with Foggy toward the end of season one. I’m not exactly sure how long The Punisher’s arc will be, but I’d imagine Castle will be in at least 2-3 episodes. Just to top it off here are a couple of reactions from Hollywood, including the man playing Crossbones in Captain America: Civil War.  

 

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Thoughts About Stuff: Kung Fury

You may or may not have seen me have a little bit of trouble describing Nintendo’s new game Splatoon yesterday, but Kung Fury is not difficult at all to describe. Kung Fury is a ridiculously over-the-top action comedy, that lightly spoofs a bunch of 80’s tropes and the like, with crazy and lots of times nonsensical(but super fun to watch) action.

If you ever imagined what it might be like for Johnny Cage from Mortal Kombat might actually be like in his movies, I’d imagine it was Kung Fury. The movie is 30 minutes long, and here it is if you want to watch it before I talk about it a bit. Be prepared for violence, gore, and language.

As advertised, am I right?

It’s crazy, ridiculous, and wonderful all at the same time, it’s kind of incredible how much happens in such a short time when a story doesn’t have fillers/unnecessary subplots. I have to say my personal favorite moment would definitely have to be him ripping an arm off a Nazi attaching it to his pistol and spinning it to fly in the air, nothing else was as “WTF” as that moment for me.

Kung Fury was famously crowdfunded and raised a staggering $630,000 which is incredible, but LaserUnicorn delivered exactly the product they promised, and Kung Fury didn’t let down. At all.

I don’t know if I wanted to be friends with a triceracop, viking girls with assault weapons, a T-rex, and Thor before, but I do now.

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Thoughts About Stuff: Splatoon

Splatoon is a third person shooter. Er, well, a third person paint shooter. Um, well, it’s a tactical third person paint shooter. Actually, Splatoon is some kind of game, with really pretty unique mechanics, and in all honesty, a brilliant new intellectual property from Nintendo. In a manner of speaking it is a third person shooter game, but you’re shooting paint to claim more map than the other team, however you can also splat the enemy to make them wait the 4 seconds to respawn.

So Splatoon has a lot of things going for it, and some things that are a little disappointing and I hope to cover most of it, and really break down this new wonderful game from Nintendo. If you’re wondering how the game works or what you can do in it, you can watch this Nintendo Direct that will answer those questions.

Splatoon, The Good

It’s just a crap ton of fun, seriously. You’re shooting/rolling/calling air strikes of paint and splatting other squid humanoid things while trying to cover up more ground. Plus, there are roles for everyone, let’s say you’re not a good controller aimer (not unlike myself) you can choose to be a paint roller.

splatoon_paint_layPaint rollers have the advantages of covering more ground with paint, but generally speaking guns/rifles have a range advantage, so they have dueling advantages. The game has a very well thought out arsenal as far as I can tell right now. You can even customize equipment to bolster your strengths or hide your weaknesses.

This game also caters to a pretty large audience, whether you’re looking to be a casual player or a serious paint ace, there is an audience for you, the game features levels and a more competitive game setting once you reach level 10. Plus, young or old, it’s just a fun game to look at, squid humanoids shooting vibrant paint colors and covering ground as well as eliminating enemies is just cool at any age. So while the audience is quite large, I’m sure you’ll still find yourself a game/lobby where you can enjoy yourself.

Splatoon

The single player is also a fun, challenging, and excellent way to learn the basics of the game. It starts off as a pretty basic tutorial, but the bosses you fight essentially demand that you put all the skills you learned to work. The first boss fight feels almost Zelda-esque considering it takes 3 critical hits, and each hit is harder to get, due to a slightly new obstacle.

Another great thing, is that the game appears to have dedicated online servers, none of my games that I played (and I played quite a few) felt laggy at all, which is great, because considering the issues with Smash Wii U/3DS.

Finally, the controls are pretty straightforward, and the game is fairly intuitive, so what could be wrong with this game?

Splatoon, The Bad

If you’ve read or watched any other Splatoon reviews, you already know where this is going. Splatoon is lacking the one single thing that Nintendo is usually loved and appreciated for, local multiplayer. It’s simply surprising to say the very least, and I understand that it is heavily tablet/pad integrated, but there are certainly ways they could have worked around this. Local split screen 2v2 or 4v4 against computers would have made this game a complete and absolute home-run by Nintendo. I remember when I first discovered that the game didn’t have local 4-player multiplayer, my reaction couldn’t have been better summed up than this gif.

There are so many unused buttons that it they could have easily translated the touch functions(the teleport could have a button, and another to scroll through available teammates to launch to) of the pad into controller buttons and displayed a minimap of paint in the center of the split screen (especially considering the size of the average TV nowadays) like Mario Kart does. On that note, I’m surprised that they also do not allow you to have two people go online from the same Wii U, another function that Mario Kart 8 does have. And while they are different games, these things seem like translatable concepts.

It’s just a little bit disappointing that the thing that attracted a lot of Nintendo’s fan base as kids and young gamers is the thing that is missing from this game. You can’t necessarily blame them, because so many games nowadays are relegated to only online multiplayer, but somehow, I just hoped Nintendo wouldn’t ever do it. And while I’m aware that there is a 1v1 multiplayer, it’s so different from the rest of the game that it just feels like a minigame and not the local multiplayer you were really hoping for.

Splatoon, The Questions

I wonder how long it’ll be until we see inklings in Smash Bros? On top of that, I wonder what other DLC is coming toward Splatoon, maybe that multiplayer will find it’s way in, and then Splatoon will transform into that top tier Nintendo franchise it was destined to be.

In the end, Splatoon, is an incredibly enjoyable game, very fun, and it gives you goals because you want to level up and equip your character. However, it falls just shy of being knockout game it could have been, due to the lack of local multiplayer options. Please, prove me wrong Nintendo and make a quick sequel/DLC pack that allows this and I’ll snatch it up right away.

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