January 27, 2008

Dream Girls

I know I'm not the only one who dreams of girls who are off limits. I've dreamed of Stephi plenty of times (and told her so because I have no shame). But I raise the issue now because, for the past five days, I had dreams of a different woman each night. And they're all dreams I can recall even a while after having them. I'll bet you all would agree that it's hard to recall vivid details of dreams after waking up.

The first night, I dreamed of a slender blonde beauty who always dresses in black despite being a Light Spirit. I didn't work directly with her, but I've crossed her path often at my last job. We weren't what you would call "friends", but we peacefully co-existed nonetheless. Which is why I can't figure out why she took center stage in one of my dreams. Within that dream, she seemed to be crazy over me, and she talked with a very seductive tone. We were at a party that seemed to be set in my grandfather's old house for some unknown reason (it was a dream, remember) and we sought refuge in a bathroom in order to have alone time. I won't go in to too much detail on what happened there, but she seemed to have a sudden dislike in my pants in that she wanted to get them off me. And there was also a shower scene. Sorry, too much information.

Second night. I found myself in the past at my old school bus stop in front of the fire station. Two girls, one being my second biggest real-life crush (we'll call her Em), and a friend of hers who I used to also associate with (who we'll call Tee), were also there. Just like now, I was not on speaking terms with this crush. Then the "bus" comes, a large, square-shaped vehicle that could only exist in the dream world. The bus' interior had chairs in the middle and padded ones lining the sides. I occupied one of the cushy seats, and Tee sits two chairs away from me. She has the intention of getting Em to sit between us. But other kids are piling onto the bus and one girl takes the seat. Then Em arrives, and both her and Tee argue with the bitch and demand that she get her ass to another seat. So she does, and Em takes her "rightful" place. Without even sharing any words, Em and I begin to play the flirty "I'm tired, can I rest my head on your shoulder?" game, alternating with each other. We even have our heads together at one point. While my old crush's appearance is different now, she had a look I was more familiar with from years past in this dream. You try to forget old relationships and then your mind has to pull crap like this.

Third night starred a beauty I'm sure many are familiar with. None other than 2008 Australian Open tennis champion Maria Sharapova. While it isn't out of the ordinary for one to fantasize about being with the young Russian tennis babe, she was way out of character here. The good news is that she was interested in me, the bad news is that she wasn't that bright, and prone to fits of crying whenever she did something to make her realize that fact. I guess she was overly frustrated. But in good boyfriend fashion, I was there to comfort and reassure her. Wouldn't you? I also vaguely recall driving another "dream exclusive" vehicle that was so big I couldn't even go under underpasses. Hmmm... "under underpasses". Can I say that?

Dream four. There's a Dark Spirit who works at a record store I frequent often who's "hide in a corner of the store so I can steal glances at her without her noticing" hot. She's been there for as long as I've been visiting, which has been years. I always look out for her as soon as I enter. Oh yeah, the dream. One night, I enter the record store, and all seems normal. But then the next day when I go there, it underwent a slight change. It was gutted and transformed into a beauty salon, and the girl was the owner. And the only one who worked there. Very odd indeed. Now that I think about it, she also made appearances in other dreams as a worker in variations of the same store.

Last night's dream featured another slim blonde babe. Famous for her appearances in World Wrestling Entertainment and Dancing With the Stars... and a cameo in Bubble Boy... none other than Stacy Keibler. A lady known mostly for her exquisite legs, but it's not like the rest of her isn't worthy of equal attention. I mostly remember us meeting, and in a bizarre twist, me offering her my autograph. She didn't turn it down, for what it's worth. But the pen I was using to sign paper was very strange. I would try to write "To Stacy Keibler", but for whatever reason, the letters came out so big it covered the entire paper. No room to write "From James Gannon" on it. So I would try another sheet, but same results. I went through a lot of paper, and to her credit, Stacy was very patient. I guess she really wanted a no name writer's autograph. I think I did finally manage to get what I wanted written down with that "dream pen".

Five nights in a row, five different girls. That's business as usual for "players", but these encounters were only in my mind. If I my slate of luck continues for six nights or more, I'll alter this entry to include them. Until then, have pleasant dreams. I know I will.

And that's just the way it is.

The Mechakaiju War

Every kaijuphile's dream almost comes true in Marc Cerasini's fourth and final book in his Godzilla series. I'm sure we all fantasized about the ginormous tussle that would take place if Toho's stable of robot monsters were to come together in one story. While budget constraints may have prevented Toho from realizing this dream, it's no extra cost to include many complex kaiju in a book. Unless you count licensing fees. Godzilla vs. The Robot Monsters employs Mechagodzilla, MOGUERA, and Mecha-King Ghidorah, each metal monstrosity controlled by a different nation for their own purposes. Throw in Godzilla, Anguirus, and a couple others, and you have the makings of a man vs. nature epic unlike any kaiju story before it. But something went wrong.
While Godzilla at World's End was awesome because it had one great plot, Robot Monsters takes a hit because of the problem that plagued Godzilla 2000: One too many storylines going on at once. Although the problem wasn't as bad as 2000's, plus most of the storylines eventually combined with the main one. So while it starts out in branches, it heads to the same path.
This book contains forty pages less than the previous one and offers one less kaiju. Well, technically two, since I consider Ghidorah and Mecha-Ghidorah to be one.

Kaiju Cast
Godzilla- After clawing out of the earth from an active volcano, Godzilla returns home to Japan to defend his turf from a "new" foe.
Mecha-King Ghidorah- The extraterrestrial terror is revived and suited with mechanical components. Now a cyborg under control of a ruthless Mongolian warlord, the tri-headed dragon is more evil than ever.
Anguirus- Russia's own kaiju threat, this time the spiked beast takes on the role of destructor rather than savior.
Baragon- Awakened by an underground mine blast, this dinosaur-like kaiju has a monster-sized hunger that seemingly can't be satisfied. With a glowing horn and incredible jumping and burrowing abilities, this mythical beast terrorizes an Indian reservation.
Mechagodzilla- A robotic double of the King of the Monsters, developed jointly by America and Japan. This super-weapon is operated via mind control for top maneuverability.
MOGUERA- Mobile Operation Godzilla Universal Expert Robot Aero-type. A mechanical monster built by the Russians for defending their homeland.
Fire Rodan- Mutated pteranodon with the ability to fly at Mach 1.5. Suspiciously fertile.

The story begins a year after King Ghidorah's defeat at Godzilla's hands. Apparently, he was too battered to survive, especially since he lost his middle head. It's unknown how he did manage to live for twelve months, and where he spent this time, but he crash lands in Mongolia in a comatose state. On cue, a brutal Mongolian tyrant and his troops appear and claim the fallen space monster. Meanwhile, a weakened Godzilla wanders beneath the Earth's crust following his duel with Biollante in the previous book. While looking for a way out, he collapses in a river of lava and would surely have perished if he didn't flow into an underground chamber rich with radioactive ore.
A Russian oil drilling station in the Caspian Sea draws the attention of Anguirus, who plows through the naval defense force before wiping out the structure itself. This prompts the Russian government to launch their kaiju-like war machine MOGUERA ahead of schedule. Their intention is to capture him alive in a containment facility to symbolize the power of the new Russia.
While MOGUERA is given a few test runs through an obstacle course in preparation, another mech is being built in a Mongolian robot factory. In the three years since the remains of King Ghidorah is seized, he was slowly being turned into a cyborg. The intention is to use a young girl to link her mind with the gold dragon's in order to control it. But there are difficulties, as the free-willed monster snaps out of its electronically induced trance and nearly trashes the facility. A few lives are lost before its half-conscious state is restored.
Anguirus climbs out of the Caspian Sea after being attracted by the sounds of a pumping oil field. It was merely a trap to draw the spiky shelled dinosaur into battle with MOGUERA. The two monstrosities begin to grapple, with the flesh and bone kaiju overwhelming his metal attacker. After being stunned by electricity-based mazer attacks and falling over after destroying a tower, Anguirus is finally injected with a sedative by MOGUERA, which quickly takes effect and puts the aggressive creature to sleep.
A volcano on the island of Krakatau explodes, unleashing the King of the Monsters to the surface of the Earth once more. When he heads into the water, he is immediately tailed by a French warship, the captain of which was inadvertently responsible for waking Godzilla about a decade earlier. After difficulties in getting Godzilla at the proper distance in order to safely launch their nuclear payload, the radioactive dinosaur creeps upon the ship and smashes it like a brittle piece of Styrofoam.
The unconscious Anguirus is tied to giant helium balloons and transported towards the containment facility by helicopters. But while flying over the city of Moscow, terrorists fire rockets at the airborne supports, taking out enough of them to send the quadrupedal lizard plummeting to the busy capital below.
On an Indian reservation in Montana, an explosion in a uranium mine disturbs the rest of the prehistoric kaiju known as Baragon. After such a long hibernation period, he begins to seek out food to satisfy his hunger, terrorizing animals and humans alike.
Fire Rodan is spotted flying towards U.S. soil from the Atlantic Ocean, taking out a naval destroyer on the way. He eventually heads to Pittsburgh, landing in a baseball stadium and causing many casualties among spectators and ballplayers. He eventually decides upon a peak in the Appalachian mountains to build a new nest.
Now awake, Anguirus starts to tear Moscow up while Russian military units try to lead it toward the prepared containment unit. They are successful, and MOGUERA shows up to put him down once more and lock him up at last.
When the Chinese military starts to strike the border of Mongolia, Mecha-King Ghidorah appears and easily devastates the whole of them. The Mongolian warlord decides that his super cyborg has the ability to conquer the world, and begins by attacking Beijing.
In the town of Denning, the medicine man of the Blackfoot Indian tribe stands up to Baragon. Using the magic arts possessed by his ancestors, he strikes the large lizard with a concentrated bolt of lightning from the heavens above, sending the monster into retreat. But Baragon's troubles are only beginning when Mechagodzilla confronts him. Despite a valiant effort to take the heavy robot down with bites and leaps, the mutated dinosaur is injected with shock cables and zapped with millions of volts of electricity. Unable to overcome the King of Robot Monsters, Baragon escapes by burrowing miles into the Earth from whence it came.
The Mongolian dictator declares war on Japan, prompting Mechagodzilla and MOGUERA to fly to Tokyo to fight off the cyborg kaiju as a team. When Mecha-King Ghidorah finally arrives, it's an all-out war of colliding metal and searing beams. The phenomenally powerful Ghidorah fights off his enemies very well... until Godzilla, who has finally returned "home", joins the battle. The kaiju king resumes his battle with Ghidorah, this time in the capital of Japan instead of America. But to the surprise of all, MOGUERA turns its attack towards the newcomer and fires injection needles into Godzilla's flesh, pumping him full of a powerful toxin. It turns out the Russian Colonel, who commandeered the controls from the main MOGUERA crew, has killing off the King of the Monsters as his top priority. But the battle is far from over as Godzilla overtakes the traitorous robot, pinning it against a building and tearing it to pieces with his claws and radioactive fire. As this happens, Mechagodzilla is getting trampled by Mecha-King Ghidorah, but the distracted Mongolian machine is eventually knocked down by Godzilla. With his powerful foe down, the nuclear dinosaur starts to tear him to bits as well, as the uprighted Mechagodzilla chips in with a barrage of explosives. In a last ditch effort, Mecha-King Ghidorah breaks away and flies towards the Sea of Japan. The young girl who piloted the three-headed cyborg finally comes to her senses and crashes her vessel into the flagship that housed the Mongolian dictator, taking him out, as well as herself and King Ghidorah once and for all.

There seemed to be no less than six storylines going on at the same time, although equal time was certainly not devoted to all of them: Godzilla's return. Rodan reproducing. Ghidorah's revival. Baragon grazing. Anguirus and MOGUERA's feud. Mechagodzilla's controller impatient about finally getting to control Mechagodzilla. The only monster battles in the entire book are Anguirus vs. MOGUERA, Baragon vs. Mechagodzilla, and Mecha-King Ghidorah vs. Mechagodzilla, MOGUERA, and Godzilla. Disappointing after World's End, which had more fights than the line-up of Wrestlemania 2000.

The main monsters, according to page time they received, were Baragon, MOGUERA, and Anguirus, in that order. And Baragon only appears after half the book is over. But if we want to talk about who stars in the book as far as exposure goes, it has to go to the crew members of MOGUERA and the Indians of the Blackfoot tribe. To borrow and alter a quote from Ian Malcolm of the first Jurassic Park movie: "Now eventually you might have MONSTERS in your MONSTER book, right?" That might be a slight exaggeration, but really, why did we pick up this book in the first place?

The storylines that received the most page time were Baragon's ravaging of Montana and the MOGUERA unit itself. The giant horned lizard's attempt to turn the Blackfoot Indian reservation into his own all-you-can-eat buffet was the high-point of the entire book. Cattle, buffalo, cowboys, Indians, and business men were indiscriminately pounced on and devoured. With Mechagodzilla's crew on a promotional tour of Russia, there was no force in America that could fend the beast off, but then the book takes a mystical turn when one of the characters finally decides to take up the mantle of shaman for his tribe.

The motivation behind Anguirus' attack is never explained. Sure, a wild kaiju doesn't really need a reason to run amok, but in the previous story, he existed only in legend before surfacing for the first time with the sole purpose of defeating Gigan. He was an earth defender last time, so why does he start destroying real estate for the hell of it?

Fire Rodan returns from Godzilla 2000. It was his offspring that was featured in Word's End, remember? Papa Rodan had absolutely no reason to be in this book, as all he did was mimic his also pointless role from last time. He flew to America, destroyed a structure or two, laid an egg, and flew back home with his brood. That's it. He participated in no storyline, thus contributed nothing. His offspring had a much more limited role in the last book, but it actually played a part in the outcome by saving the humans from being grounded by Battra. But despite this gripe, what little he did was a bit of a good read. He landed in the new ballpark of the Pittsburgh Pirates, probably thinking it to be a concrete nest. Cerasini does a good job showing what would happen if this airborne kaiju were to touch down in a stadium, with much detail paid to the accidental death and destruction his mass and wings would cause. It's worth noting that Cerasini is a native of Pittsburgh, so this may be a tribute, albeit a twisted one, to his hometown. I'm sure if I wrote a story where the Boston Red Sox were crushed to death, my fellow New Englanders would string me up like a pinata.

My last major disagreement with the way this story was handled concerns Mechagodzilla, who only shows up towards the end. Mechagodzilla is one of the most popular monsters in Toho's kaiju catalog who should have had a lot more effort put into his first appearance in this Godzilla book series. The robot monster's pilot is given more attention, and as I stated in a previous review, no one looks at Godzilla media for the human cast, they want the monsters. The least we could have asked for was a first meeting between Godzilla and his metal clone so more time could have been devoted to them, as they are featured prominently on the book's cover. Speaking of the cover, another masterpiece by artist Bob Eggleton, it depicts Godzilla and Mechagodzilla facing off over a Russian landscape as Anguirus is bombarded with missiles in the foreground. So just by looking at it in the store, you'd probably expect a grand battle between the two akin to their movie counterparts somewhere within its fifteen chapters. But no, they don't even as much as scratch each other, but battle on the same side. This would have been fine, considering the fact that both monsters are varying degrees of "good" who face a common enemy, but again, the cover foreshadows a conflict, and the name of the book itself is Godzilla vs. The Robot Monsters, and the one monster he battled was only half robot. Everything about the presentation was misleading.

G-Force returns from Godzilla 2000, as The Big G is viewed as an immediate worry as opposed to the last book where there were more immanent kaiju threats to take care of. The flying ship Garuda from the film Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II makes an appearance to aid MechaG in his travels. After three books, Nick Gordon is finally dropped even though his character was finally turned tolerable in the last book. But we do see the return of the first book's main character, Brian Shimura, who covers the conclusive battle and just happens to be the uncle of a member of G-Force.

There is a noticable error in the time line between this book and the predecessor. Godzilla at World's End ended on January 22nd, 2001, but this book begins December 13th, 2000. While I at first figured that the prologue featuring the discovery of King Ghidorah could have occurred during the events of the previous book, it tells us that "at that moment", Godzilla is wandering through the center of the Earth where he was left at the conclusion of the last book.

Something that caught my eye was a brief scene to illustrate Godzilla finally setting "foot" on Japanese soil once again. It featured two factory workers named Ken and Ryu. A reference to the two main fighters of the Street Fighter video game series? Then Ryu states "I'd rather be driving my car than spending time with my girlfriend, any day." There aren't really any guys who think like that, are there?

Once again, the book's main selling point occurs in the last couple of chapters. But overall, the story was still good, but it was a wasted opportunity. The Baragon and Anguirus segments play a big part in entertainment value. Godzilla and Mechagodzilla fight on the same side for the first time in any Toho endorsed lore. Unless you count video games where two players could choose those monsters and compete as a team. Which I don't and neither should you. This book is also the first in the series where Mothra doesn't make any appearance, but it's fine because her help wasn't needed. And despite everything going on, it would have been better if the book was longer to devote more attention to those storylines which received little. Generally, Godzilla vs. The Robot Monsters should have contained more scenes of Godzilla versing robot monsters.

Book Roles vs. Movie Roles
The norm of Cerasini's Godzilla novels is that he invents unique new origins for existing monsters. Here's some small descriptions of the parts they played in the movies that inspired their appearances here:
-Mecha-King Ghidorah was originally a hero. After Godzilla whipped his tail in a fight that also saw the three-headed monster lose his central head, visitors from the future revived the carcass with their modern technology, and a few robotic enhancements, to put a stop to Godzilla's rampage.
-The G-Force Mechagodzilla was created solely by Japan out of the scraps of Mecha-King Ghidorah. So this story could never occur in the Heisei series since one monster is made out of the remains of another.
-MOGUERA was also a Japanese G-Force creation. In the films, he could split into two different mechs; one airborne and a ground-based vehicle that could tunnel underground.

Godzilla vs. The Robot Monsters ends with several unique prospects for future installments. Godzilla is poisoned by a concoction cooked up by the Russians, leaving us to wonder how it will effect him in a sequel. Baragon is supposedly buried underground once more, but we can all assume that a massive monster who can burrow like a mole could resurface any time he pleases. Anguirus is contained within a pen in Russia, but you know such a hostile kaiju can't remain imprisoned for long. Mechagodzilla, MOGUERA, and Mecha-King Ghidorah are destroyed forever, but who's to say the two robot monsters can't be rebuilt again? And Rodan is home at the North Pole once more, waiting to appear in every other book to do nothing more than lay eggs. I just can't wait to see what's cooked up for the fifth book.

Sadly, waiting and seeing isn't even an option anymore. Although a fifth was planned, Toho's deal with Random House expired. It's too bad, because we'll never find out how much offspring a single Rodan can yield in its lifetime. Godzilla and The Lost Continent was the planned sequel, which would have seen the returns of Varan, Manda, and Battra. Though they got their tails (or abdomens) kicked, we never actually see them perish. I also wonder if Gigan or Megalon would have shown up, two others who disappeared without us truly discovering their fates. The premise is that a new Texas-sized continent surfaces from beneath the ocean. So naturally the world's nations decide to play "finder's keepers" with their weapons at the forefront. But the aforementioned monsters have already claimed it as their own. The hook here is that ancient ruins are discovered, as well as survivors of a nearly extinct race. Not only that, what's described as "a totally new monster" shows up with the power to devastate all the world's armies. Would this be a brand new Cerasini created kaiju? Or just a Toho creation that hasn't shown up in the novels yet? The idea of an ancient civilization coming back to life harkens back to Godzilla at World's End, the best book in the series, so I would like to think that this new story would have been at least as good. but I guess we'll never find out...

My favorite novels in this series from best to worst are Godzilla at World's End, Godzilla Returns, Godzilla vs. The Robot Monsters, and Godzilla 2000. You might probably judge by my reviews of a couple of these books that I hated them, but that is far from the truth. I've basically been reviewing them for what they were: Godzilla adventures. For what they were, the numerous human portions of the stories were excellent, but if I wanted a people story, I would have picked one out. I'll probably go back to these books and read them again someday. It's a crime to think these fantastic books were priced from 4.99 (the first) to 5.99 (the rest). For their quality, they were worth much more.

Then again, who's to say that a lot of the problems I griped about were even Cerasini's original intentions? If anyone's ever paid attention to the development processes of Godzilla ventures handled by outside companies, you would know how controlling (compassionate) Toho is about their lunch tickets. They are very particular about how their kaiju are handled, so who's to say that potentially great books like 2000 and Robot Monsters were heavily altered by the Toho reps? Sure, it's an unnecessary handicap when the franchise is in the capable hands of an obvious fan like Cerasini, but Toho's guidelines are also required to prevent Godzilla's good name to be sullied by the likes of Sony/Tristar's 1998 Zilla movie. The reason why it was such a blasphemous deviation is because Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich took the Godzilla guidelines and basically used them as emergency wipes in case their trailers ran out of toilet paper. So while admitted non-Godzilla fans like Devlin and Emmerich could have used the guidelines, I think giving Cerasini a bit more rope to do his own thing would have made his already awesome works far more enjoyable. Speaking of that abomination against Godzilla, rumor has it that the reason why Random House didn't release the final Godzilla book before their rights expired is due to the poor reaction to the Zilla movie. So not only did that mutated iguana kill the real G's image in America, it also made sure that the paper used to print out copies of Lost Continent remained in the trees.

And that's just the way it is.

January 19, 2008

Writer, Cartoonist... Game Designer?

I've written a full novel, with dozens more in development. I've written a few comic strips with about a hundred more in reserve. But I never would have dreamed that my first paid writing gig would be in interactive media.

A little bit more than a week ago, I received an e-mail from a man I've never met before, but a man I knew plenty. Without giving away too much info, I'll just say he is the promoter of a product that I'm a fan of. I posted quite a few detailed comments about his product on a web site petaining to it, thinking nothing more of it than just showing my support. But the promoter himself read what I wrote regarding his product and decided to contact me. The e-mail he sent asked me nothing more than to call him, supplying both his land line and cell numbers.

So I called the guy up and he told me that he liked the stuff I wrote, thinking I had a good mind for his product. He revealed to me that he was planning on creating a video game based on it, and thought I would be a good choice to take some core ideas he had for it and expand it into a story he could use to sell the game idea to game developers and publishers. I was quite taken aback at being given this opportunity, especially since I'm an unproven commodity in the writing world. Still, what an opportunity it was, so I accepted his proposal. I took an afternoon to flex my creative muscle, and I had to because this was the first time I wrote a story based on someone else's ideas. After crafting five pages of story, beefing up the existing ideas with some of my own, I submitted it to the promoter. It was only my first effort and I am fortunate that he liked what he saw, saying he would show it to some associates. Hopefully my work will go a long way in helping to gain approval for the project.

In the end, the promoter told me that he would like to keep me on the project when it goes forward, on a creative level. He's also cutting me a check for the story treatment. I don't know how much, but it blows my mind that I'm finally getting paid for doing something I love instead of from some spirit-draining 9-5. And it only too me an afternoon to do it. I always figured that, somewhere in my writing career, that I would end up aiding in the development of video games based on my own intellectual properties. I just never dreamed it would take place this soon, and for someone else's I.P., the owner of which liked my writing enough to take a gamble on me.

A little bit more into this promoter's future plans for his product: as of now, it's only seen within a limited area, but aside from this game, there's also plans for a reality TV show, possibly shown on Spike, E!, MTV, or one of several other channels. The show could go a long way in promoting the game when it's ready, and the publishing company being tossed around as accepting rights is Electronic Arts, the largest producer of video game software. The promoter told me there's a good chance I could make a lot of money from this when all is said and done.

And just when I thought I couldn't get rich doin' this shit.

And that's just the way it is.

Wishes Do Come True... At Hotel Dusk

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 is a sort of point and click adventure for the Nintendo DS. It can be accurately described as an interactive mystery novel. Hell, you even have to hold the DS on its side as if it were a book. It's a linear design, meaning there is a set path of actions you must follow to complete it. You manually control the main character through his adventure, interacting with key areas within the setting in search of clues and items that you can use to progress. You also spend a good amount of time talking to the many colorful characters that populate the game. If you already played another DS game called Trace Memory, you will already have an idea on how this one will play out. Indeed, they were both made by Cing, a Japanese developer that was also responsible for a mobile phone game conversion of Harvest Moon, as well as some bizarre "virtual girlfriend" program for phones in Japan. While Hotel Dusk came after Trace Memory, this game contains more text and fewer puzzles than its predecessor.
If you're like me, you're the kind of person who will want to examine every single friggin' object in the game, and EVERYTHING is can be examined. But to the credit of the writers, even items that are identical to each other, such as boxes and lamps, have different descriptions. I mean, there are more than a dozen toilets in the hotel, and looking at each one will yield different commentaries from your character. He is a very witty person, as clicking on one particular roll of toilet paper will have him call it "man's best friend". And who am I to argue with that?

Rated Teen for the following:
Mild Language- No sugarcoating in this game. Crap, hell, ass. Now this blog entry is rated "T". Fuck. DAMN, now it's "AO"! That means this won't be viewable on a Nintendo console!
Mild Violence- Flashbacks to gun play, as well as some manually induced headaches.
Use of Alcohol- Hotel's got a bar, and the main character has a long night. He needs a pick-me-up or two.


December 28th, 1979, Nevada. A former New York cop named Kyle Hyde checks into a rundown joint called Hotel Dusk. Posing as a traveling salesman, he is secretly on the hunt for his ex-partner Brian Bradley, searching for answers on why he betrayed him three years ago. The hotel manager puts him up in Room 215, also called "The Wish Room". Word is that people who stay in that room have their greatest wish come true before they check out. Kyle has a feeling that this ramshackle hotel will help him find out what happened to Bradley, so he snoops around the premises and interrogates all the guests and employees.

Kyle Hyde- New York cop who turned in his badge after supposedly killing his trechorous partner Bradley. Now posing as a salesman, he wants to find out what happened to his former friend.
Brian Bradley- Your ex-partner that you shot and saw fall into the Hudson River when he tried to escape after being confronted about his defection to the enemy's side. You believe he's still alive, and want to track him down to discover the reason for his betrayal.
Ed Vincent- Your boss. Using his sales business as a front to his real business of "finding things that don't want to be found". The only one who knows of Kyle's relentless search for his missing partner.
Rachel- Ed's secretary and your main contact. Helps Kyle out by doing research for him.
Dunning Smith- Hotel Dusk's owner. Doesn't tolerate suspicious characters at his establishment.
Louis "Louie" DeNonno- Hotel employee who was a pickpocket that crossed paths with Kyle on more than one occasion during his cop days. He claims to be reformed.
Mila- A mysterious young girl who can't speak. She is wearing a bracelet that Kyle last saw around the wrist of Bradley.
Rosa Fox- Hotel maid who handles most of the work. Has a big heart within her big frame and knowledgeable of Hotel Dusk's shady history.
Jeff Angel- Rich kid who seeks excitement in all the wrong ways.
Helen Parker- One-eyed elderly woman who can hold her own against anyone at the bar. Tried to get booked into the Wish Room, but Kyle got it first.
Martin Summer- Novelist who tends to engage in long-winded conversations with anyone unfortunate enough to be nearby. Wrote many books, but only his first achieved best-seller status.
Iris- Movie star who has her posh reality shattered when she doesn't get the princess treatment she feels she is entitled to. Doesn't take kindly to your gruff personality.
Melissa Woodward- Child that acts in typical brat fashion until you listen to her problems. Claims to hate her father.
Kevin Woodward- Melissa's negligent father. A doctor with an estranged wife.

While all nine of the hotel's occupants seem to be normal upon meeting them, a little prying will reveal that they're tied to Kyle's investigation in startling ways. You'll also investigate practically every room in the hotel, even those limited to staff members. You'll discover evidence that Bradley stayed at the hotel six months earlier using your name. There's also an angel motif that runs throughout the game, such as the last name of a character, a design on a lost pen, the decoration on a bookmark, the name of a room, and most important, a stolen painting called Angel Opening a Door.
As for the ending... this isn't a spoiler, but you know how Super Mario 64 ended with the hero getting cake? Well, this game ends with the hero getting "pie". You'll have to play through the game yourself to get what I mean.

The environment you transverse is 3D, and in full color. You have the ability to swing the camera around in close-up mode in order to search the scenery from different sides. The character and cut-scene graphics, however, are shown in black and white 2D (with few instances of color) that have a highly detailed, hand drawn appearance. It sort of resembles "Squigglevision", as seen on TV shows like Dr. Katz and Home Movies, except here the lines stay straight. There isn't much animation for the characters, but they have cycles that display different emotions, such as happiness, surprise, anger, and sadness.

When navigating the hotel, you get a bird's eye view of the section you're in. Dragging the stylus across the floor moves your character, and touching certain areas allows you to get a close-up view in order for you to investigate. You'll open doors by touching the handle (if it's open) or tapping the door itself to "knock", which may get a response from whoever's inside. Utilizing the unique features of the Nintendo DS to solve puzzles, you'll rub and tap the screen, close the DS itself, blow the microphone, and other touch-screen interactions. You'll scrape away paint, blow dust, and flip objects over. One such puzzle involves finding a pair of pliers to cut a thick wire hanger off a wall rack to help jimmy open your suitcase after your key broke inside the lock. You'll get a close-up view of the lock and will manually navigate the wire inside of it to push all the interior levers aside.
Kyle is equipped with a memo pad to hold information pertaining to your investigation, such as character info, a hotel map, your inventory, summaries of past chapters, and even a few blank pieces of paper you can use to write down your own notes. I personally only needed to take notes on three occassions, but you might find more uses for this convenience.
You'll close out each chapter with a tough interrogation on one of the hotel's occupants, this game's equivelant of a boss battle. Here, you'll ask the hard questions that'll get people to spill their deepest hidden secrets that will give you valuable info on your mission. Be on your toes, because saying the wrong thing will screw up your interrogation and the game will end for you.
Speaking of game overs, aside from incorrectly interrogating someone, there are other ways. When having normal conversations with people, you are usually given a couple of choices of what to say. Some phrases are civil, others snappy. If you say too many wrong things that get whomever you're talking to angry, they might go complain to Dunning and he'll throw you out on your ass. Another way is if you're caught carrying something that you "borrowed" from someone else. To prevent this, you'll either have to stash the items in your suitcase or return them to where you found them.
As for how long this game will last you, my first play through was 20 hours, many of which were grouped into multi-hour sessions. I completed it inside of a month.

Here's a few things you should keep in mind when you begin playing that I wish I knew before I did.
-Save often, especially if you're unsure of what's in store for you. If you get a game over, you'll restart at the beginning of the last time increment that passed. Each chapter is measured in an hour of time and divided into twenty-minute parts. It will be a buzz-killer to have to repeat a lot of the dialog you just got done reading if you have to start over. And there's a lot of dialog.
-Apparently, if you beat the game without getting a game over, there's an extra scene at the end. So always save at a point where it's "do or die" and reset the game if you accidentally get a game over so the game won't record it.
-I also read that there's a point at the beginning of Chapter 4 where you get coins for a vending machine which enables you to obtain something. If you miss it, it won't ruin your game as I can attest to, but I'd like to know what happens if you get it.

In Closing
Don't buy this if you play video games because they're not literature. If you enjoy reading, point and click adventures, and a good mystery, then by all means track this one down. As a writer, I would love to create a game like this based on my own properties. I would even chip in with static illustrations.

Maybe if I get involved with the video game industry somehow, someway...

And that's just the way it is.

Killer Bods From Outer Space

From the planet Unebula, The Glow Girls came to Earth to party and hook up with guys. Resembling our planet's female humans, each is a hot-bodied athlete unlike any babe you've ever seen. The customary attire of their home world includes hot pants and tall boots, colored neon green with orange stripes, although they occasionally shed all that in favor of bikinis. All isn't fun and games for these eye-catching extraterrestrials, as they have to keep a lookout for the mutant alien L.E.N. who desires to control them and eventually take over our world. Another interesting note is that the girls seem to feed off radioactive energy... just like Godzilla! Except for them it comes in soda cans, much easier to consume that way than busting open a nuclear reactor. They're also finding out that Earth boys are easy.

In reality, The Glow Girls are a team of twenty or so beauties who can do more than stand around and look pretty. They are currently utilized in the promotion of products, companies, and events, such as the Total Fighting Alliance. The part of their evil alien nemesis is played by Lenward L. Holness Jr., the promoter of the women. A successful business man, he lived a life of luxury. His endeavors included music, fashion, photography, and finance. He's lived in New York, Boston, Hong Kong, and now California. He grew up with Steve Tyler and Joe Perry. Then one day he grew tired of the countless business and social meetings that consumed his life. Fuck all that shit, he wanted to drive around in luxury vehicles and hang around with young scantily clad babes. And he could, because he has the influence and cash. This is his version of retirement: being single and surrounded by women. And even with this venture, it looks like King Midas is about to make gold again.

I, along with a few million others, discovered The Glow Girls on YouTube. Their video channel offered no explanation on what their purpose was, but that was far from everyone's mind because their videos featured them dancing, playing, and exercising in their tight and revealing outfits. But like all tantalizing content on YouTube, the videos and the Glow Girl channel itself was soon deleted. I guess they had to make way for such brilliant content like the nausea inducing "leave Britney alone" parodies, episodes of Naruto, and the video blog of a ditz who goes on and on about why men are such shallow cretins, and yet has a vid where she states the most important qualities of a potential boyfriend are being good looking and having a high-paying job so she doesn't have to work.

The girls came back with two new channels, but the new videos play it safe by not being as arousing as before. But I still couldn't suppress the feeling that there was more to them then dancing for three minute video clips. I looked for the girls on MySpace and the search came out positive. This led me to more information about what they were truly about, which I already described to you earlier in this blog entry. Other interesting facts about the GGs is that they have a canine mascot named Bentley, who also wears a neon green jacket. They have their own personalized "Glow Mobile", an Aptera typ-1 rugged electric hybrid with a neon green paint job. They even have a theme song by MC Funky.

The Glow Girls and L.E.N. have met California govener Arnold Schwarzenegger, the mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa, Chinese actress Bai Ling, reality show and MySpace celebrity Tila Tequila, and for some reason, Danny Bonaduce. But even greater than the Govenator himself, they met JON F'N LOVITZ. I'd get breasts implanted in my chest and slip on hot pants just to meet that guy!

The Glow Girls are currently exclusive to personal appearances on the west coast, but a little alien told me that they have some pretty big projects planned in the future. I can't reveal who my informant is, or L.E.N. may come for me.

And that's just the way it is.

January 8, 2008

Godzilla and the End of the World

G-Zilla returns to rack up more collateral damage in an effort to save mankind in Godzilla at World's End, the third novel in Marc Cerasini's Godzilla series of books. After the underwhelming Godzilla 2000, which had about five different plots going on at once, this book forgivingly revolves around a single calamity. Once again dealing with a threat to all life on Earth, our worries originate from below us as opposed to above.

While 2000 only had a kaiju count of six, World's End employs a whopping ten monsters to battle over Earth's future. And the scary thing is, even though the same amount of pages are used in this book and the previous, Cerasini does a much more satisfying job utilizing the kaiju this time around, even though there were four more of them to worry about. The havoc is also spread more across the globe, rather than brief stopovers in France and Britain before focusing on the States.

Kaiju Cast
Godzilla- rises up from the ocean depths to defend Nature from those who seek to harm her.
Mothra- once more appears in a single character's dream sequence to clue her in on the true cause of the kaiju uprising.
Anguirus- a monster thought only to exist in legend, the spiked saurian defends his apparent homeland Russia from monster invaders.
Rodan- the hatchling from the previous book has done some growing up and takes up the mantle of "Defender of the Skies".
Gigan- a viscious cyborg with sharp limbs that seeks to eliminate the world's satellite communications.
Manda- a traditional-looking Chinese dragon who goes medieval in Shanghai.
Megalon- the towering cockroach with drill hands rains his lightning on South America.
Hedorah- an extremely lethal monster comprised of toxic sludge and gas, he has the ability to go airborne to spread poisonous death across the populace, or transverse the ground for a more direct approach to those who may threaten him.
Battra- a sinister looking insect monster who is a dark parallel to Mothra, both in appearance and intentions.
Biollante- the ultimate weapon employed by the mysterious warmongers to wipe out humanity once and for all. A massive plant kaiju with a monstrous maw and ever-growing vine tendrils.

The story begins eight years in the past at the literal "end of the world", Antarctica. A young explorer discovers her frozen-to-death father at the bottom of a pit. After being menaced by giant plant vines, an earthquake opens up the ground beneath her and consumes both her and her father's corpse.
In the present time, America is still trying to rebuild itself after the devastation caused by Godzilla's rumble with King Ghidorah. Also, a technologically advanced flying airship called Destiny Explorer is being prepped for its maiden flight to Antarctica.
At the same time, the South Pole is hit with disaster as a giant abyss opens up from within the earth and the gigantic cyborg Gigan is set loose upon the world. It's first mission is to fly into the atmosphere and destroy all the Earth's satellites in an effort to cripple communications. Russia launches a nuclear missile in response, but all it succeeds in doing is drawing the monster to them in retaliation.
Bursting from the crust of Peru, insectoid kaiju Megalon tears up a small settlement in Lima. Burrowing up from an unfinished tunnel in China, the serpentine dragon Manda puts the squeeze on Shanghai. Each country's respective militaries fail to repel their monster threats, and it seems those countries are about to crumble when the Earth's own defenders arrive to counter the threats. Godzilla rises from the East China Sea to grapple with Manda. The spiky Anguirus surfaces from the Caspian Sea to tackle Gigan. After trying battles, both of the saurian sea monsters successfully dragged their unconscious foes into the churning waves, no longer a threat for the foreseeable future. The combined U.S. and Peru militaries manage to drive Megalon into the Amazon rain forest.
But the mysterious forces from within the earth that unleashed the previous terrors aren't finished. Launching from the Pacific Ocean and flying over Osaka, the smog monster Hedorah begins to choke out the populace with his toxic gas and sludge. The repulsive moth Battra chases the Destiny Explorer in Chile. Instinctively, Godzilla hones in on Hedorah, and Rodan's offspring arrives to fight off Battra. Both dispatch their opponents with ease.
The climax sees the Destiny Explorer fly into the earth itself through the abyss created in the South Pole, with Godzilla hot on its heels. Who or what are the unknown aggressors to mankind's livelihood? And will they be successful in their war when they play their trump card in the form of Biollante?

In the spirit of the Showa series of films, it's great to see Godzilla and his running buddies Rodan and Anguirus fighting against the forces of evil. However they all fight solo instead of the tag team battles usually seen in the films.

It's revealed that the evil kaiju that attack humanity were created by those that dwell at the center of the world in an effort to retake the surface for themselves. Author Cerasini had to look through the back catalog of Toho kaiju and select six monsters he best felt could have been manufactured by a subterranean race of creatures. I feel he chose well, as the creatures he chose are too unnatural to have been born by normal means, although I'd like to think that Manda and Battra already existed and were being mind-controlled by "the ancient ones". Let's have a quick review of the original origins of the sinister monsters: Gigan was a weapon created by aliens from Space Hunter Nebula M. Hedorah was an alien tadpole that fell from space from a meteor and grew into a pollution-based monster after feeding on Earth's refuse. Megalon and Manda were originally gods of the undersea kingdoms of Seatopia and Mu respectively. Battra was the dark parallel of Mothra, both of whom had a serious quarrel at the beginning of time. His goal was to defend the earth, but from human threats as opposed to kaiju. Biollante was created by a scientist combining the DNA of Godzilla, a rose, and his deceased daughter.

Other problems in the previous book have been addressed, such as a smaller human cast to care about, no elaborate back stories on people who exist only to expire in a few pages, and no overpowered military beating the supposed-to-be indestructible kaiju within an inch of their lives. However, if there were a couple of parts I could still change, it would be to have the cast spend more time in the underground city, as opposed to the final two chapters. Cerasini repeatedly compares Godzilla's head to that of a cat's. The only thing remotely cat-like about Godzilla's head is his nose. He also seems to want us to believe that Megalon and Battra resemble each other, but anyone who's ever actually seen them before will wonder what he is on about. Nick Gordon returns once more in a bigger role, but it appears his character has matured since the first book as he no longer spouts off line after line of annoying remarks. There's also two small and interesting side plots about a Russian patrol ship following Godzilla in an effort to secure samples of his blood, as well as the Big G attacking a freighter to consume its plutonium cargo.

The unnamed President of the United States in the story is eerily similar to the current real-life one, George W. Bush. It wasn't intentional, as this book was published before Dubya entered office. After major crisis strikes, he fails to adequately respond to and rebuild the areas damaged. The administration is referred to as arrogant and introduces programs which will not solve the problems facing the country. They wasted billions of taxpayer dollars several times over, fuel prices rocketed, and Americans were forced to adopt new rules and regulations that adversely affected their lives. This fictional President goes on to declare a state of emergency, puts the country under martial law, and suspends the upcoming elections. Hopefully that action won't be echoed by the real President.
I can't believe I just used a review on a Godzilla book to take potshots at Bush Jr. But I'll be damned if Godzilla didn't cause as much devastation on the fictional America than Dubya did on the real one.

The exquisite front cover of the book was once again crafted by Bob Eggleton. It features Godzilla, Biollante, and the Destiny Explorer airship within the earth's icy interior. On the back cover, it appears the synopsis was made before the final story was sent to the printers. It says that Megalon attacks Russia and Gigan invades South America, but the reverse is true. Of course, this could also just be an honest mistake. I just had to point this out because I'm a prick.

There seems to be a "moral" embedded within the human portion of the story. Not one, not two, but three young female characters have been spending their lives trying to imitate their father's aspirations. It also leads to be the key faults in their personalities. So remember kids: You don't have to follow exactly in your parent's footsteps; do what you want to do with your life.

Godzilla at World's End is the best book so far, and one I would love to see in movie form.

And that's just the way it is.