I’ve been playing video games for most of my life. In that time, I’ve played many games that felt like a long, tedious grind. It’s not just about getting to the end of a level and beating the final boss. Some games are bigger, broader, and more complex. A lot of modern games are like that these days. They’re not something you can beat over the span of an afternoon or over a weekend.
As much a grind they are, it’s still so satisfying when you finally win. That’s a feeling that even casual gamers can appreciate. That’s also how I felt when I recently accomplished something amazing in a game I’ve been playing for years now, Marvel Strike Force. I’ve mentioned before that I started posting captured videos of me playing this game on my YouTube Channel, Jack’s World. Since then, I’ve refined that craft.
As a result, I’ve put together a lengthy playlist of me navigating the Dark Dimension IV levels of the game. If you’re at all familiar with Marvel Strike Force, you know it as one of the toughest runs of the game. I already completed the first run. Now, I’ve completed the timed run and it was quite a harrowing experience. I made sure to capture that experience from start to finish.
Again, it was a hell of a grind, but it was incredibly satisfying when I finished it. Enjoy!
It’s been almost a year since I began my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. Then again, a lot of the work I put into this channel happened during the last year’s extended COVID-19 lockdowns. Hence, I can totally believe it’s been that long.
In that time, I’ve learned a great deal about the art, process, and particulars that go into making YouTube videos. I assumed it was a lot harder than successful YouTubers made it seemed. I was right on many levels. At the same time, I was somewhat relieved that the tools you need were readily available and learning to use them did not require going back to college.
I hope that those who have been following my channel since it began have seen an uptick in overall quality. Some of that uptick is largely due to hardware. If you listen to my first video, you’ll hear some fairly poor audio quality. That’s because I used a cheap USB microphone to record it. Compare that to my more recent videos and the difference should be clear. That’s the benefit of investing in a better mic.
One such improvement involves my recent foray into video game footage. If you’re subscribed to my channel, you’ve seen me posting screen recordings of me playing a video game called Marvel Strike Force. I’ve created an entire playlist from it. I’ve even had a little fun adding epic music in the background and doing large mash-ups of extended gameplay.
The problem is that I’m finding it more and more difficult to refine that content. Aside from just recording the gameplay and putting music behind it, I’ve been struggling to add much more to it. At one point, I wanted to do some audio commentary during the gameplay. I found that to be difficult because these screen recordings come from my iPhone and I can’t use my fancy new mic on that.
Since I use a PC and not a Mac, I can’t really take advantage of better hardware on my main computer where I do all my video editing. I’ve also taken up a lot of space with some of the footage I’ve recorded and that’s on a relatively new device. Clearly, if I’m going to keep providing this kind of content, I’ll need to find a better way. I’m considering a software like Blue Stacks.
However, I’d like to take things a bit further than the games I play on my iPad and iPhone. At some point, I want to start doing gameplay from my PS4 and, eventually, a PS5 whenever I get one. With games like “Resident Evil Village” and “Mass Effect: Legendary Edition” coming out, I want to be able to stream longer and more extensive gameplay.
I know there are established ways to do that. I’m just not sure what form it’ll ultimately take on my channel. Will I use this gameplay as a means of offering background footage while I offer commentary? Will I just leave it alone and just show the footage? Will I use the footage to mash it up into something more creative?
I don’t know yet and I’m certainly open to suggestions. For now, one of the most immediate solutions I can pursue is getting a large external hard drive that I can use to store footage from both my iPad and my PS4. Another is to simply upgrade my iPad so that the resolution is better.
It really depends on what I feel will make a better video, in the long run. I’ll still do plenty of videos breaking down my favorite TV shows, movies, and thought experiments. My channel is still young with less than 100 videos. I’m also still building my audience. I don’t know how big it’s going to get or if I’ll hit a limit, as I’ve done with my many other creative endeavors. Only time will tell.
Again, I’m open to suggestions and tips. If you have any, please feel free to share them. In the meantime, enjoy this footage of me beating Dark Dimension IV in Marvel Strike Force.
The following are a couple of new videos for my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. These videos are actually an experiment, of sorts. Since I’ve started my channel, I’ve explored all sorts of topics to discuss. I’m still not entirely sure what I’ll focus on with this channel, but I do want that focus to be on something I love.
As it just so happens, I do love video games. One game, in particular, is a mobile game called “Marvel Strike Force.” I’ve been playing it for years and I really enjoy it. I’ve also seen a number of other channels stream themselves doing various types of gameplay. Having just recently learned the right kind of video editing software, I thought I’d give it a try.
The two videos below are me making my way through the Dark Dimension IV levels of Marvel Strike Force. These are some of the hardest parts of the game and it took a long time, just to develop my team to a point where I could manage. I do plan on sharing the gameplay from other nodes. I didn’t include any commentary, but if you’d like me to add that in future videos, please let me know.
Here is me completing Node 11. This one was trickier and I forgot to turn off notifications, so you’ll see some graphics here and there. To those playing this game at this level, I hope it helps!
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s the latest entry in my ongoing Jack’s Comic Gems series in which I highlight a quality gem from the world of comics. This one brings to light a gem from the world of Duke Nukem, a video game character who hasn’t been relevant since the 90s. However, he still managed to be part of an unexpectedly good comic. I was surprised too, but in a good way. Enjoy!
For years, it was difficult to get too excited about movies based on video games. To say the track record of those movies is sub-par would be exceedingly generous. Unlike superhero movies, there weren’t any real gems that set too high a bar. There was no classic 1978 style “Superman” to point to as a gold standard or even a high point from a previous era.
By and large, video game movies have always sucked. I say that as someone who saw multiple “Resident Evil” movies in theaters. Trust me. That money would’ve been better spent renting the old games.
However, that finally seemed to change last year with the success of “Sonic The Hedgehog.” For the first time, a movie based on a video game was genuinely enjoyable for both casual movie-goers and fans of the game. It captured the spirit of the characters, told a compelling story, and was generally entertaining from start to finish.
Now, video game franchises have an example in which a movie based on a game didn’t suck. It gave me real hope that this could start a large trend. Finally, when Hollywood decides to make a movie based on a popular video game, we don’t have to assume it’ll be awful, underwhelming, or a wasted opportunity.
That’s why I dared myself to have high hopes for “Mortal Kombat.” When I saw the first trailer, I felt like this movie had the right look, effects, and story capture everything that makes this franchise so iconic. It was distinctly different from the previoustwo movies that came out in the 1990s. Those movies were cheesy as hell and did plenty to water down the violence.
This movie had a chance to embrace the bloody, brutal aesthetics to the utmost. As such, this legendary fighting game, known for its graphic violence and pissing off certain politicians, was in a good position to further the trend that “Sonic The Hedgehog” started. I made it a point to set up my living room, just as I did for Zack Snyder’s “Justice League,” to take it all in. I went into this movie with a hopeful optimism that I never once dared for a video game movie.
Unfortunately, I think I might have been too optimistic.
I’ll even go a step further. I may have let my love of “Sonic The Hedgehog” make me forget how difficult it is to translate a video game franchise into a movie.
That’s because, by and large, I was very underwhelmed by “Mortal Kombat.” It wasn’t awful. This movie was certainly no “Super Mario Brothers.” It was just so frustratingly mediocre. The basics are there, but not much more than that. If you were expecting something bigger, bolder, or innovative with this movie, you’re going to be disappointed.
In terms of the story, there won’t be any surprises to those with a passing familiarity of Mortal Kombat lore. For centuries, there has been a secret tournament featuring the best fighters in all of Earthrealm and Outworld. The forces of Outworld, led by Shang Tsunge and Shoa Khan, seek to invade and conquer Earthrealm. In order to achieve this, they need to win one more tournament.
There’s actually a lot more history and complexity to that story, which the games have masterfully fleshed out over the years. However, there’s none of that in this movie. For the most part, it only tells first parts of that story with just a handful of familiar characters.
Plenty of the classics are there, such as Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Sonya Blade, Jax, Kano, Liu Kang, Kung Lao, and Raiden. The problem is they’re really no the driving force of that story. It’s mostly driven by Cole Young, who is not a character from any of the games. While he is a descendant of Scorpion, his story is just so plain and generic. He’s basically a Diet-Scorpion, minus the flaming skull and hell-warrior persona.
In other words, Cole lacks pretty much all of Scorpion’s most awesome traits. Yet, the movie gives him the most screen time?
I’ve got nothing against Cole. He was a decent catalyst for the events of the movie. He just was not that interesting. He was not someone who would get lifelong Mortal Kombat fans excited. If anything the opening sequence that told Scorpion’s origin story comes off as an elaborate misdirect.
You thought you were going to see Scorpion’s story play out in this movie? Well, you’re mistaken. He doesn’t show up again until the end and he’s basically just a Deus Ex Machina for the plot. As someone who wasted many quarters playing Scorpion in the arcades back in the 1990s, I felt like he deserved better.
On top of that, Cole being the protagonist basically ensured this movie did a lot of telling rather than showing. He just gets dragged along the plot with other characters basically telling him everything he needs to know about Mortal Kombat. There’s not much in terms of world-building or exploration. It’s just some exposition followed by some brutal fight scenes.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Those fight scenes are awesome. They’re probably the best part of this movie. They’re much better done than previous Mortal Kombat movies and the R-rating ensures nothing is watered down. You do get to see blood, gore, and bodily entrails, not unlike those of an appropriately brutal fatality from the game. That much, this movie gets right. It just doesn’t get much more right beyond than that.
It’s also very clear from the ending that this movie is meant to set up future movies. At this moment, no sequel has been confirmed. Given the scale and breadth of Mortal Kombat, as a franchise, I think it needs to be multiple movies. You just can’t fit the whole story into one film. This movie didn’t try to do that, but it still feels like it could’ve done a lot more to stand on its own.
After watching it, it still left me wanting to see the sequel. However, I doubt I’ll go into that movie with the same hopeful optimism I did with this one. If I had to score “Mortal Kombat,” I would give it a 2 out of 5 at most. It’s one of those movies that’s not worth going to the theaters to see, but still worth watching on premium cable or a streaming service.
In that sense, I’m very thankful that HBO Max made it available. That saved me the cost of a movie ticket and overpriced snacks.
Not long ago, any movie based on a video game franchise was met with a mix of skepticism and cringe. There was a very good reason for this. Historically, movies based on video games suck. Just look at the infamous “Super Mario Bros” movie and you’ll see just how bad it got.
Then, the “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie came along and finally, someone cracked the code. We finally had proof that movies based on video games don’t have to suck. Now, like superhero movies before them, movies based on video games have the potential to open entirely new worlds that can both delight audiences and make millions at the box office.
As someone who still remembers watching the “Super Mario Bros” movie, I applaud this shift. It’s way overdue.
This brings me to the latest “Mortal Kombat” movie. Recently, the trailer for a new iteration of the classic video game franchise came out and, in the interest of transparency, I thought it was glorious. As someone who was a kid in the 1990s when this game first came out, this was just perfect. If you haven’t seen it, definitely check it out. Just don’t do it if you have a weak stomach.
Now, this isn’t the first time Mortal Kombat has been turned into a movie. There was two previous movies in the late 90s, one just called “Mortal Kombat” and its sequel, “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.” Both those movies had their moments, but they were cheesy as hell, poorly acted, and captured none of the elaborate lore of the games. Then again, that just made them on par with most movies based on video games.
This movie looks much more promising. From the trailer alone, it’s clear that Warner Brothers putting in the time, money, and effort to make this movie the catalyst for a whole new franchise. The precedent was set with “Sonic the Hedgehog,” but given the sheer breadth of Mortal Kombat’s history and story, this could be a franchise with enough content to launch its own cinematic universe.
Personally, I hope it succeeds. The more video game movies that succeed, the better. I think it’s good for movies and video games alike if these franchises succeed in multiple mediums. It can only serve to help both.
In addition, there’s another aspect about this movie and this franchise that intrigues me. It actually has nothing to do with the movie itself or the impact it could have on the entertainment landscape. Unlike previous video game movies, this one is based off the one video game that my mother personally didn’t like and was reluctant to let me play.
Now, my mother is a wonderful, amazing woman. She’s the sweetest, most loving person on this planet. That, I’m sure of. Growing up, she was not the kind of mother who would try to shelter me from media violence. She even let me watch R-rated movies as a kid from time to time. I still remember watching the first Terminator movie with her.
Between the blood and the fatalities, my mom refused to let me ever buy that game. Even if I saved up money and bought it myself, she wouldn’t let me have it or any of the sequels. I did try to persuade her at times. I never succeeded. My mom is a woman of principle. There’s just no way around that.
Ultimately, I never did buy the game. However, I still had plenty of chances to play it. I had friends and cousins who had the game. It was a popular arcade game, as well. I wasn’t completely forbidden from experiencing it. In hindsight, it seemed like a solid compromise. For that, I commend my mother’s parenting skills.
I don’t know if that aspect of this game will affect how I see this movie. A part of me will always see Mortal Kombat as the one game that my mother would not let me buy. Maybe that’ll never go away. Maybe this franchise will always have that mystique to it. Whatever the case, I just hope it’s a good movie and one that continues to raise the bar.
Plus, I’ll never get tired of Scorpion yelling “Get over here!”
The following is a video for my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s both a tribute and an exploration of Final Fantasy X, the first video game I played that was a genuinely emotional experience. Having played video games all my life, there aren’t many games that have had such a profound impact on me. This is one of them and I still feel the extent of that impact today.
In the time I’ve been playing games and following the industry, I’ve seen many games that were heavily hyped. I vividly remember how games like “No Man’s Sky” and “Spore” were supposed to revolutionize the industry. Most of the time, the game was a letdown, relative to said hype. A few managed to deliver. Franchises like Zelda and Grand Theft Auto keep finding a way.
However, I’ve yet to see a game garner as much hype as “Cyberpunk 2077.” I’ve also yet to see a game garner such a mixed reaction in conjunction with such a chaotic launch. Now granted, some of that might be due to the general chaos of 2020, but the story surrounding this game has been a special kind of messy.
The long and short of that story is this.
The game itself was announced was announced back in May 2012 by CD Projekt Red.
The game was originally slated for release in April 2020, but was delayed twice.
Once the game finally did come out, it was found to be glitchy and buggy. Some older gaming systems, like the Playstation 4, could not effectively run it and even robust gaming PC’s struggled to play it.
Due to the bugs and messy release, fans and critics alike were outraged. Some demanded refunds and Sony even removed the digital version of the game from its store.
Again, there’s a lot more to the story behind this game and how its release was handled, but those are the basics. I won’t get into the meaty details. Others more qualified than me have handled that far better and I’ll defer to them for more insight.
The reason I’m talking about “Cyberpunk 2077” has less to do with the game itself and more to do with the emerging trends behind it. This isn’t the first game to endure a messy, glitchy launch. It’s also not the first to invite massive backlash from fans and customers. I doubt it’ll be the last, either.
It all comes down to this.
Nobody should be surprised that a game as big, ambitious, and complex as “Cyberpunk 2077” had glitches at launch.
Nobody should be surprised when any game that runs on powerful, complex gaming systems aren’t perfect from the beginning.
Everyone should expect patches and fixes that come out years after a game comes out. They’re practically unavoidable.
I know that sounds like a broad generalization. It may even sound like I’m making excuses for game developers like CD Projekt Red. I promise that’s not the case. This is just me sharing my perspective and I feel it’s worth sharing in the current era of AAA gaming.
Like it or not, the gaming industry has evolved a lot since the days of Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and the first Playstation. It’s not just that the industry has become more consolidated and more impacted by games people play on their phones. That is also part of it, but let’s take a moment to appreciate the bigger picture here.
A game like “Tetris” or “Super Mario Bros” is much less complex than a game like “Grand Theft Auto V” or “Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.” I’m not just talking about the story or gameplay, either. These games require a lot more in terms of development, polishing, and refinement to go from the drawing board to a finished product.
The hardware is more powerful.
The mechanics are more complex.
The logistics are far greater.
You didn’t used to have to hire top quality voice acting talent on the level of Keanu Reeves to develop a game. You just had text boxes and sound effects. That’s all games like “Legends of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” and the first Pokémon games needed.
However, those games couldn’t come out now and be as successful. They were products of their time, limited by the hardware and software needed to develop them. It still took time and effort, but let’s not lose perspective here. The entire size of those games could comfortably fit on a $10 flash drive.
In essence, a game like “Cyberpunk 2077” is to “Super Mario Brothers” what a Saturn V rocket is to a standard wheel. It has far more moving parts, far more complexities, and far more investment needed in order to make work.
When you have something that complex, things aren’t always going to go smoothly. Patches and tweaks will be necessary. It’s just a matter of extent. Even top-rated games like “Grand Theft Auto V” needed a few patches to make work. Other games like “Destiny 2” required so many patches that the game was basically overhauled.
In both cases, the games were better because of this. Even if it wasn’t perfect on launch, it created the foundation from which a truly awesome experience could emerge. That’s the best way to approach games like “Cyberpunk 2077.” Regardless of what the release date says, assume that’s just the beginning and not the end.
At the same time, some games are so mired by their launch that nobody notices or appreciates it when the game is ultimately fixed. That’s what happened to “Mass Effect: Andromeda,” a game that was also plagued by a glitchy and messy launch. However, several patches helped fix many of the issues. Now, I can confirm that the game in its most updated form is a genuinely solid gaming experience.
Unfortunately, fans gave up on that game, and many like it, too quickly. I feel like others didn’t even give it a chance because they listened to those who made such a big deal about the glitches at launch. It would be like people avoiding cars for the rest of their lives because the first few crashed or didn’t run well enough.
For this reason, I’ve gotten into the habit of not buying any AAA game at launch. Unless it’s a remaster, I always wait at least three to four months before I consider investing in it. That usually affords enough time to work out the kinks and get the necessary patches in place for the game to realize its full potential.
Sometimes, it’s still a letdown. Games like “Anthem” have never really taken hold, no matter how many patches and tweaks they get.
For the most part, though, there’s a benefit to waiting until months after launch. The hardest part is not letting negative reviews from people bemoaning the early glitches color your opinion of the game. That’s what helped me enjoy “Mass Effect: Andromeda.” I never would’ve gotten that experience had I read all the complaints about the earlier version of the game.
Sometimes, you need to exercise a little patience to get the gaming experience you seek. That’s not easy these days, especially as the gaming industry has grown into a multi-billion dollar entertainment behemoth. I remember just how visceral some of the reactions were when “Cyberpunk 2077.” Now, some of those same people are whining about the game appearing to have been rushed.
It’s the kind of hypocrisy that makes you want to punch your computer screen.
On top of that, game development these days is subject to significant strain among developers. It’s what fuels a less-than-pleasant aspect of the industry called crunch. When a company is eager to get a product to the market or to meet a deadline, it’ll lean heavily on its workers. Many times, those workers will suffer as a result.
It’s a distressing part of the industry, but one I doubt will go away anytime soon. As long as there’s demand for AAA games on par with “Cyberpunk 2077,” we’re going to endure things like this. Games are going to be launched with bugs. Game developers are going to be overworked to death to meet a deadline rather than risk angering the consumer base.
Until these trends and dynamics change, it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. In the meantime, I’m still going to be patient with “Cyberpunk 2077.” I don’t think I’ll get it until several months have gone by, complete with patches, and I have a new Playstation 5 to play it on.
The past few years have been uneventful in this annual celebration of this beloved sci-fi series. This year is very different. Not only did we get confirmation of a remastered version of the original trilogy that I spent so many hours lost in, Bioware announced another game is officially in the works!
Not much is known about the next installment in BioWare’s epic space opera, but the studio says a team of veterans at the company is working on it. Do not expect the game to come out anytime soon as BioWare general manager Casey Hudson noted in a blog post that the game is in “early stages” of development and the studio cannot share any additional details at this time.
As a fan of all things “Mass Effect,” I couldn’t be more excited. This year has sucked on so many levels. This announcement helps make it feel just a bit less awful.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must start calibrating myself for the arrival of this game.
For that reason, “Destroy All Humans,” a colorful remaster from an equally colorful video game from the mid-2000s, might be the most precious reprieve you can get for under $50 these days. In a year when pools are closed, concerts are cancelled, and movie theaters are going bankrupt, this is the kind of game we need right now. It’s so seriously unserious that it works better now than it did in the mid-2000s.
The premise is as absurd as it is fun. You play an alien named Crypto-137, a member of the highly advanced Furon race. You’re sent to Earth in 1959 after your predecessor, Crypto-136, dies on a mission and is captured by the United States Government. You’re job is to infiltrate Earth, study the humans, gather DNA, and eventually take the whole planet over.
This is not a story about humanity rising to the challenge and triumphing over an overwhelmingly advanced opponent.
In fact, humanity in “Destroy All Humans” are so cartoonishly ignorant and childlike that they hardly seem worth conquering at times. Being able to infiltrate, manipulate, and destroy them with advanced alien technology isn’t that great a challenge, logistically speaking.
That doesn’t stop the game from being wildly fun. You’re not a hero or a villain. You’re not part of some complex, convoluted story that requires deep introspection on right, wrong, and everything in between. “Destroy All Humans” is basically the perfect antidote to those still fuming over “The Last of Us Part 2.”
You’re part of an alien race. Conquering Earth and subduing humanity is just a necessary effort for the good of the Furon race. Along the way, you do encounter humans who are more challenging than others, namely the Men In Black rip-off group, Majestic. They provide much of the game’s puzzles and challenges. However, most other characters are ignorant caricatures that rip off every 1950s tropes.
On top of that, there’s plenty of crude humor and innuendo. Yes, that includes anal probes and cow shit at times. “Destroy All Humans” is not a game that tries to redefine its humor for 2020 sensibilities. It sticks to the basics and makes them work. You’ll laugh. You’ll be disgusted. You’ll even be offended a few times, but only to the extent that you’re part of a species as dumb as humans.
At the same time, you’ll have loads of fun.
That’s what makes this game worth playing. It’s just fun at its most pure and crude. You zap things with blasters. You levitate things with your mind. You use anal probes as weapons. You lay waste to towns and cities in a giant UFO. There is a story along the way, but it’s a simple story that only serves to motivate the mayhem.
That’s what made the game worth playing when it first came out. Now, this remastered version has provided some updated graphic and improved controls. If you already played the game when it came out on the Playstation 2, you won’t see anything you haven’t seen before. It’s just in glorious HD with a much better color pallet.
If you’ve never played “Destroy All Humans” and are in need of something to pass the time for the rest of this miserable summer, then you’re in luck. This game is pure, unserious entertainment for a franchise that’s ripe for rebirth. I highly recommend it and if you can stomach the use of anal probes, you’ll enjoy this.
No go forth, stir-crazy gamers of the world. Go forth and destroy all humans!