Category Archives: Video Games

Everything video game related goes under here

Update on Life

It’s been a little bit since I’ve made a post, but I’ve been busy fighting for that mythical full-time job. Good news though, totally got one! If you remember, I interviewed Becky Jewell of Graphicly a while back. I was really intrigued by their work and I wanted to get involved with their company somehow. Flash forward a bit and now I’m working as one of their Panel Cutters, slicing up comic/book pages for the optimum viewing experience on digital devices. Yessssss!

Also, less important, but it was my birthday two weeks ago. I’m now the venerable old age of 26, and the only thing that I really wanted was an El Gato video game capture doohickey. My lovely lady totally delivered. Now I can record my fighting game exploits in HD instead of balancing my phone on a DVD tower. Man that was annoying… I’ve already started recording some of my Injustice matches and I may go back to UMvC3, but hot dog is this thing fun to use. Here’s an example of what I’m up to and watch out for more fighting game stuff in the very near future!

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The Power of Shazam – An Injustice Tutorial – Harnessing the Lightning

Billy Batson and Shazam
SHAZAM!

Shazam, Captain Marvel that was, is by far and away my favorite DC hero and when I heard that he was going to be a playable character in Injustice, well I was more than a little excited. I’ve played over a thousand matches using Earth’s Mightiest Mortal and I think I’ve got enough experience under my belt to help anyone out who wants to give the character a try.

I’m going to break this up into a series of posts, starting with an overview of the character, what I think makes him fun to play, and a breakdown of his strengths and weakness. Let’s get this party started, time to level up your game! SHAZAM!

Quick Overview
Billy Batson’s alter ego is all about the vortex. His skills are best put to use from two character lengths away and closer, that way he’s always in range for his unblockable, and unforunately crouchable, Herculian Rush. He’s a medium/high risk, medium reward character that relies on rushdown and great guesses to do the majority of his damage. If you can read your opponent and have a couple of meters stocked, he can do well over 70% damage in a flash. He’s got relatively easy combos and options to mixup opponents once he’s in close, but he’s at a serious disadvantage a screen away.

In short: Shazam is a mobile grappler/vortex character that requires quick reflexes and good reads to play effectively. Online it can be difficult to crank out victories because there’s no time to adjust to your opponents playstyle. But the wins are absolutely worth it.

Why Play Shazam?
First ask yourself a few questions. Do you like Shazam? Do you like putting people in a blender of pain? Hate zoning? Like unblockable command grabs? Like easy combos? Do you like resets? Do you despise the top tier? If you answered yes to any of the above then I think it’s pretty safe to say that you’ll enjoy playing as Earth’s Mightiest Mortal.

He is not an easy mode character by any stretch of the imagination, so if you’re looking for Superman’s F2,3 you should try someone else. Like I said above, he’s one of the more challenging characters to use, but oh so satisfying.

shazam_____colors___by_andre_vaz-d4wh7xeStrengths
Let’s talk about what makes Shazam a formidable fighting force that inspires fear when used to his full potential.

Impressive Mobility:
Shazam has a pretty decent forward and back dash that cover space quickly. He also has access to Advancing/Retreating Mercury, teleports that turn him completely intangible for a brief moment, allowing him to bypass projectiles and cross up opponents on the ground. His teleports are incredible on wakeup, capable of escaping most enemy’s jump-ins.

The Vortex: Shazam’s game revolves around getting up close and assaulting the opponent with his unblockable command grabs. Herculian Rush grabs standing opponents from surprising range, while Achilles Clutch grabs crouchers. He has all the tools he needs to start the pain, with an above average sweep, nice J1, ambiguous J2, and some exceptional overheads that lead into grabs. After a knockdown he has a host of options with which to plague his enemies, but keep in mind that the majority of them lose to wakeup attacks.

Useful Specials: All of Shazam’s special moves have a place in his game plan. None of them are useless. We’ll talk about them more in subsequent posts.

Great Ways to Punish Turtlers: Down back really isn’t an option against a good Shazam. He has his low-hitting Achilles Clutch grab, but also F1,2 – B2 – F3 and 2,2 which can be used to hide command grabs. Your opponents will soon realize that standing is a much better option, though that opens the door to Herculian Rushes and electrocution.

Decent Character Trait: Under the right circumstances, his trait can ratchet up his combo damage enormously, sometimes upwards of 10% even on longer combos. It powers up his punch attacks, adding more chip damage as well, and as long as you can turn it on and manage to land a hit, you’re in the money. It’s just that landing a hit part…

InfiniteCrisis4

Weaknesses
Unfortunately Shazam does have quite a few more weaknesses than he does strengths, but don’t let that deter you from picking him up. They are all more than manageable if you’re smart.

No Wakeup Game: One of the most glaring weaknesses pre-patch, Shazam now can use his teleports to get out of sticky wakeup situations. However, that’s really all he’s got. I suppose in a pinch you can do a wakeup Herculian Rush to kind of move you out of harms way, but stick to Advancing Mercury.

Loses at Range: Shazam stands no chance at range. His lightning bolt trades in the enemy’s favor at best. His dash is good enough that you can close the distance quickly, but you still have to be very, very patient. Also, while the teleport seems like a great way to get in fast, timing it so that Shazam dodges completely through projectiles is tricky in most cases and impossible in others.

No Low Threats: Honest to goodness, I think this is Shazam’s biggest weakness, there is virtually no reason why your opponent should be blocking low unless you’ve been beasting them with your command grab. He has a grand total of two, yes 2, low attacks: B 1,2,3 where the final hit is low, and his sweep. The first can be rolled out of and the second causes an untechable knockdown, but sweet Christmas, he has virtually no real high-low game. You need to make people FEAR the grab.

Normals Lack Range: Aside from 2,2 the Big Red Cheese needs to be right up in their face to hit people. He can’t poke in any real sense of the word, and aside from B2,3 which is duckable on the second hit, he has no attack that threatens more than a character length away. Unlike a majority of the cast whose B3 covers serious distance to wallop foes (Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman anyone?) Shazam sways back and punches right in front of his face, going nowhere.

No Easy Confirms: Unlike Superman and Batman, Shazam doesn’t have any easy confirms or strings that lead to big damage.

This fight is hard!
This fight is hard!

Meter Hungry: To do any real damage, you need meter. Badly. Even then, off of a raw meter burned Herculian Rush you’re only doing 37% with no trait. He needs to meter burn on all of his specials for damage and positioning, so in the second round meter management becomes much trickier depending on whether or not you want to save up for a wager.

In Conclusion
Hopefully you guys have some sort of idea about what Shazam is capable of, his playstyle, and his strengths and weaknesses. If you’re interested in picking up the character or you have any questions or comments, feel free to type them up below. Next time we’re going to be talking about strategy, his normals, and his specials, and what an ideal match looks like. Stay tuned!

TMNT: Out of the Shadows – Michelangelo Spotlight

1371396451_michelangelo_669339Today we’re shining the strobe lights on the Turtles’ premier party dude, the magnificent Michelangelo.  He’s the youngest of the four, and undoubtedly the most spry. He flips, spins, and dodges Foot Ninjas with the greatest of ease, as his nunchuks e thwack and clunk off the unfortunate skulls of his enemies. He’s got speed sure, but what else does the orange-banded terapin have to offer the TMNT faithful? Let’s check it out!

Despite the heavy editing in the trailer, and the slowdown to show off Mikey’s awesome animations, you can still see how quick he moves. He’s a flurry of nunchuk-spinning pain.

Countering
Again we get a taste of the turtles’ defensive capabilities, as Mikey counters not one, but two Foot ninja attackers at once (:15)! This might indicate that Red Fly has taken a page out of the Batman book and allowed for multiple parries at once. Cowa-freaking-bunga. Is it as easy as just pushing a button?

Special Attacks
For supposedly being the turtle with the worst single enemy damage output, Michelangelo has more than a few ways to deal with crowds. Check out one beefy spin cycle at :44 and a shell sliding spin attack at :46. Mikey spins around with nunchuks out, laying low anyone in his way. Does it look like the handstand version clashes with a Foot attack? Are we seeing a little invincibility there, or did Mikey just knock him out of his animation?

teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-michaelangeloThen we have the nut cracker, the oh so beautiful nut cracker (:36). I think it might be the highlight of this little vignette and I love it. Mikey also has a flash kick (:22), though he does it without the help of a bo staff. I’m not quite sure how the special moves work in this game, IGN seemed to think that they were mapped to the right stick, thus I don’t know if this is a special move or possibly a combo ender. Or maybe a command normal?

Then we’ve got the attack at :41, which I’m going to be calling the Turtle Tower, just for giggles. Mikey breaks one ninja’s guard with a powerful rising uppercut, then sweeps the leg for a knockdown while his opponent is reeling. Might be useful for those turtling enemies. Heh.

Environmental Attacks
In Raphael’s vignette we saw him leap off of a truck and embark on a beatdown of epic proportions. Mikey shows off some acrobatic flair of his own, swinging around a sign post wailing on dudes (:25). So now we know that the turtles are more than capable of using the environment to their advantage. I wonder what else they’ll be able to play with?

ZE END!
There was a lot less for me to talk about in the Mikey video, I think mostly because we talked about a lot of it in the previous posts. He’s fast, agile, and brings a whirlwind of pain to the creeps dumb enough to get in his way. He also brings the party. Cowabunga.

TMNT: Out of the Shadows – Talking Raphael

comics-teenage_00365201Raphael, the turtle with the ‘tude, gets the special I Speak Comics treatment today. We’ll be looking at the furious hero’s Out of the Shadows trailer in an attempt to dissect his playstyle and see what makes him tick. Hopefully we won’t be getting a sai in the eye for our trouble. As I stated in the previous Donatello breakdown, take everything you see and read here with a HUGE grain of salt. Biggest one you can find. This is based on what? Pre-alpha footage? Everything here is subject to change. But let’s get started shall we? Check out the trailer below!

Unlike Donnie, who can use his bo staff to lay the smack down from a distance, Raphael is an in your face sort of guy, someone who likes to get up close and personal while shelling out the pain. In TMNT: Out of the Shadows, the turtles’ resident bad boy appears to be the token grappler, with a host of throws ready to send foes into a whole new galaxy of pain. Add in some brutal knees, elbows, and sais and you’ve got one mutant you do not want to mess with.

Green Zangief?
What intrigues me most here is the sheer number of different throws Raphael has at his disposal. Let’s dig into this video, the first throw we see is an awesome looking izuna drop (:15). Next up is what looks like a modified, extra brutal Osoto Gari (:19). Did I mention he has a power bomb too? Check out 21 seconds in. Oh and Raph has no problem grabbing a leg and straight up giant swinging a baddie into next Tuesday (:25)! Also if you look at a few other videos, namely the IGN breakdown video, you can see him doing a suplex of sorts at 2:26 into a ground pound. It even looks like you can combo into these throws, as you can see at :29 in the Raph trailer.

He also has a throw, possibly a special move/contextual where he face slams a duo of punks into the pavement (:47). Finally, like Donnie’s parry/counter, Raph has one too. However, instead parrying and landing a single strike, Raphael counters and tosses his opponent away (:45). I like we’re seeing a different flavor of counter for each character. Just adds to the awesome.

Now that we know he has all these awesome throws, the question becomes, are they safe? So many of these have a ton of startup and the animations, while super cool, take forever to complete. Can enemies knock Raphael out of his throws? Because if so, using them will be incredibly dangerous unless you’re finishing off a lone enemy.

teenage_mutant_ninja_turtles_by_deemonproductionsMuai Thai Master
Raph’s fighting style looks heavily influenced by Muai Thai forms. The attack he does right after that first izuna drop at 15 seconds is a picture perfect copy of Sagat’s focus attack in Street Fighter 4. Maybe a little Brian fromAll you need to do is look at all those huge elbows and knees he’s dropping on fools to know Raph’s watched more than a couple of Tony Ja’s flicks. If we were going to compare these big knees to Batman, I have a feeling that they’re momentum based. The more you whomp on guys without getting hit and keeping your combo going, the easier it is to put down bad guys with one hit.

Special Moves
At the beginning of the video we see Raph send himself careening into foes, sais out (:11). You can bet this is a shout out to Tournament Fighters. It looks great for tagging folks and closing the distance quickly, but there is some start up on the attack so you don’t want to just throw this out while surrounded in a brawl. Also this video gives us the first real example of a turtle using the environment to attack. At 38 seconds Raph wall runs on a big ol’ truck trailer, leaps off and sais a dude in the face. He looks like he actually throws his weapons too, which is a little odd?

The Numbers Game
Finally, remember how we were messing around and broke down Donnie’s stats relative to the rest of turtles in power, range, mobility, and speed? Well if we do that for Raph, purely based on what we see here in the videos he might be – Power: 3, Range: 1, Mobility: 2, Speed: 3. You know now that I think about it, it might be better to do a 5 point scale, just so that Leo can be a 3 in ever category… Ah well.

Final Thoughts
I think Raph is going to be a lot of fun to play as and brings some interesting things to the table. His throws look devastating, all his moves are brutal; he definitely appears to be channeling his rage into people’s faces. If you guys dug this little bit snippet of turtle soup, I’m going to be putting up a Mikey breakdown in the very near future, so keep your eyes peeled!

TMNT: Out of the Shadows – Donatello Breakdown

tmnt-donatelloOn the NES he was everyone’s go to turtle because of that beautiful bo staff, that’s right folks, today we’re talking the mean machine-lover Donatello! We still have a couple of weeks until Out of the Shadows drops, so that means here at I Speak Comics we’re going to scrutinize every character trailer, break down what’s going down, and make a lot of baseless assumptions about combat and gameplay mechanics. Take EVERYTHING here with a huge helping of salt. Sound good?

Before we get started, let’s put a few things on the table. From what I’ve been hearing, TMNT: Out of the Shadows will have combat that resembles the Batman: Arkham series. There are some very choice moments in all the clips where I can very much see that being possible, so I’m going to base a lot of the language and comparisons I use around Arkham. Cool? So without further ado, let’s talk about the Testudine techie, Donnie!

Numerical Values!
As of right now it seems like we can break the turtles down into having four unique characteristics: power, range, mobility, speedPower indicates the strength of their attacks, range indicates the distance from which they can hit enemies, mobility is their movement speed and ability to dodge, and speed is how quickly they can chain attacks together. Going from everything we’ve heard, and assigning some arbitrary and again, baseless, numbers, we might suppose Donnie would look a little like – Power: 4, Range: 4, Mobility: 1, Speed: 1. Obviously, the higher the number the better the turtle is in that aspect so here he’s capable of dealing the most damage from furthest away, but he’s a real clunker.

Let’s Talk Attacks
Now let’s get down to the actual nitty gritty pixels we saw in the trailer above. First thing, I want to draw your eye quickly to 12 seconds in, just before the first big power blow. Notice how the enemy is sort of keeled over? I think this indicates that enemies can be stunned. Will it be like Batman hitting thugs in the face with his cape, a brief period of dizziness allowing for a free attack? Will every turtle have access to an attack like this?

The next thing of note is at 15 seconds, where Donnie utilizes his launcher. He immediately follows it up with a spike. First let me say I’m geeked for launchers. That opens up a whole new dimension of aerial combat that was absent from Arkham’s wholly ground-focused gameplay. I’m curious though, can you choose to avoid the spike and simply leave them to fall into a juggle combo? That’d be a addition to the combo system.

Screen shot 2013-06-11 at 1.26.58 PM

Specials Attacks? Who knows!
At right around 20 seconds you’ll see him spin the bo staff around his neck. If it’s an attack I don’t know how much range it would have or how useful it could be, but god does it look sweet! Then comes one of the coolest attacks in the trailer, Donnie channels a little Neo, planting his staff, jumping, and running on faces (:21). If you’ll notice, every enemy he kicks in the face falls down, likely freeing Donnie up some space for extra punishment. Crowd clearing anyone?

At :32 we’ve got the toe tap, aka dance monkey, aka one of Kilik’s most annoying attacks from Soul Calibur. Maybe this is a way to open up turtling (heh) opponents? I can’t imagine many uses for it besides to style on fools. Then at :33 he’s got a bo staff flash kick, an homage to the one and only Guile of Street Fighter fame. Don’t forget about the whirlwind, as Donnie takes a page out of Guan Yu’s book and cosplays a whirlwind (:37), swinging his staff in two huge circles with massive range. For all it’s range, this doesn’t look spammable, as you’ll notice one of the Foot soldiers blocking the attack.

Countering
I’m very happy to say that it also looks like our turtles have a parry/counter move. Check at about 40 seconds in, Don blocks an attack from behind and then whips around and lands a crushing blow to his nefarious ninja opponent. I know there’s not a lot to go on here, but look closely. There’s a brief flash of light, then the Foot’s arms go up in the air along with his sword, a very “countered” stance. Though I could absolutely be wrong. I don’t think I am though… Anyway!

Throws
One of the best examples of the free-flow combat we might see in Out of the Shadows is right at :28, where Donnie knocks a ninja down, then immediately turns and throws an enemy that’s standing behind him. Very Batman. I wonder though, is there a throw button? We’ve heard that there’s a weapon attack button and a kick button, and likely a dodge/roll button, but what triggers a throw? Could you throw in Batman, or was that only when the combo counter got high enough? I can’t remember, but hey, we’ve got awesome looking throws!

Not the End!
So that’s it for this entry, I hope you guys enjoyed it and took a look at the trailer a little more closely. There’s a bunch of stuff in there to get you hyped for this game, and more specifically for our favorite staff-wielding turtle. He’s got power and range, a slew of awesome attacks, and more than enough style to swing a stick at. I’m going to be doing Raphael tomorrow, so look out for that. Grab some pizza and I’ll see you soon!

Follow me on Twitter @kingofbreaker for more turtles, comics, and video game goodness!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows – Some Thoughts

tmnt_group

TMNT: Out of Shadows is the latest in a long line of ninja turtle video games, currently in development from Red Fly Studios. After a slew of thoroughly underwhelming showings for the four Testudine heroes, aka anything after Turtles in Time and Tournament Warriors on the SNES, could TMNT: Out of the Shadows be the game to turn the franchise around?

Unfortunately I can’t make a very good judgement call at this point because there’s very very little information out on the game. If I go with my gut I’ll say yes, this is gonna be a great turtles experience. The graphics look phenomenal, combat looks just varied enough that I’m tempted to say “deep,” and the videos almost ooze fun (see what I did there?). But Red Fly only has a TMNT Facebook page and a Youtube Channel. That’s it, which is weird when you consider the game is coming out, supposedly, at the end of this month.

I would love to see some gameplay breakdowns, character tutorials, mechanics explanations, a little something, but the best that’s out there is a five minute IGN video that does some in-depth analysis of the pre-alpha build and a little article from thesixthaxis. Beggars can’t be choosers I guess. Check out the video below.

So what can we glean from this?

COMBAT: Makes it or Breaks it
There’s a weapon attack button, a kick button, and special moves that are performed with the right stick according to that video. I wonder if the special moves are tied in any way to a “meter” system. That’s the fighting gamer in me talking. There’s no HUD present in any of the videos, so it’s not clear if the special moves will be available at all times (I hope), contextual, or meter-dependent. I’d be willing to bet that because this is a downloadable title aimed at what I assume to be a very broad audience, the special moves will be available any time, which should spice up the ninja action nicely.

The fact that the turtles play differently excites me, though I’m surprised that Donatello does the most damage, is the slowest, and has the longest range. If we think about it, I suppose we could liken him to Astaroth in SoulCalibur. Sick range, tons of power, slightly slower than the rest of the cast. If anything I assumed that Raph was going to be doing the most damage, especially since he needs to get in close to put the hurt on. Wait, lemme stop there. I’ll be talking a little more about each turtle’s trailer in subsequent posts, so for now I just want to say I’m pleased that each of our green ninjas has their own unique fighting style.

Donnie channeling Neo
Donnie channeling Neo

Getting down to the nitty gritty mechanics stuff, you’ll notice that the turtles can block, hard to tell with all that action going on,  but they can and that makes me happy. Those fights can get pretty hairy, with a veritable host of enemies ready to thwomp on our lovable reptiles, and if there wasn’t a way to block, dodge, or parry… But the brothers can leap and tumble around foes as well as block, so I think we’re set.

The heroes in half shells can also perform team attacks. You’ll notice Donatello swinging Mikey around at the end of his staff, Mikey ducking down so that Leo can trip up one of the foot, and an awesome little ode to the live-action movies with a quadruple team shell slam. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that there’s gotta be at least some cool down on those team attacks, otherwise what’s to keep players from spamming them all day? Donatello teamed with anyone could create a whirlwind of pain with insane range, turning the game into an easy mode mash fest.

No doubt tons of fun for you and up to three friends, but I wonder, because the game seems to be all about four turtles at a time, will be an option to just play on your lonesome? As in just one turtle on the screen? The combo system looks, right now, very fluid and fun and I don’t necessarily want to worry about AI controlled teammates messing up my combo flow.

Foot meet floor!
Foot meet floor!

The Sixthaxis Article likens the combat system to the Batman: Arkham series, and if that’s the case consider me hyped. That system was so ridiculously simple, and yet ludicrously difficult to master, and if this game provides even half the fun I had whomping on thugs as the caped crusader I’ll consider it a success.

And that’s it for now. Check back for individual character breakdowns in the next couple of days, but until then, stay classy errybody!

Taking A Look Back at My Top 10 in Injustice

A few weeks (months?) ago I posted a little wish list to the fine people at DC Comics and NetherRealm Studios regarding their upcoming collaboration, Injustice: Gods Among Us. Since then we’ve seen some awesome character reveals, rounding out what is shaping up to be a formidable roster of do gooders and ne’er do wells.

injustice-gods-among-us-09-1

That being said, my wish list is slowly getting filled out. If you follow me on Twitter at all (@kingofbreaker) you might remember I predicted everyone from MK vs. DC was going to be making it back for round two. That wasn’t hard to figure though, I mean NetherRealm already had character models and move sets to work with. Why throw the baby out with the bathwater you know? With that being said, my wish list didn’t include Batman, Superman, the obvious big guns that would be making their inevitable appearance and instead I tried to think a little out of the box. How did I do?

Well for heroes I wanted: Shazam (Captain Marvel), Guy Gardner, Aquaman, Hawkman (Hawkwoman/Hawkgirl), Beastboy (Animal Man, Vixen), Swamp Thing, Black Canary, Zatanna, Starfire, and Etrigan. For villains I was looking for: Lobo, Black Adam, Sinestro, Metallo (Cyborg Superman), Darkseid, Doomsday, Gorilla Grodd, Cheetah, Poison Ivy, and Clayface.

Shazam, Aquaman, and Hawkwoman have been confirmed, so I got a couple right, which is awesome. It doesn’t look like very many of my villains will be seeing the light, and that may be just due to the fact that in Injustice, some heroes are acting as the baddies. I did guess Sinestro and Doomsday though, and I’m hoping that we see a little more variety in future villain reveals.

Who do we have right now? Joker, Harley Quinn, Sinestro, Solomon Grundy, Bane, Lex Luthor, and Doomsday. That makes four Batman villains (I’m including Grundy just for the fact that he lives in Gotham), two Superman villains, and a Green Lantern villain. Let’s see what DC and NetherRealm have in store for us.

I don’t know about you guys but I’m very excited for April. I’m more than ready to blast people with lightning as Shazam, shove tridents where the sun don’t shine, and shoot people in the face with arrows! Come on April!