Tag Archive: video games


Review by C.J. Bunce

If you agree with us that the biggest landmark in the visual representation of futurism in science fiction over the last several years was Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow, Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and Netflix’s Altered Carbon, then you might also see something similarly new and refreshing–and yet new and different–happening with the new Paramount+ series Halo As I described it last month here at borg, Halo’s first episode was a dense set-up of a series opener, establishing the world building, the opposing factions and key characters in this new universe extracted from the video game franchise.  But the series’ second episode, titled “Unbound,” doesn’t miss a beat in showing viewers an even more layered science fiction story is in play, with plenty of visual surprises.

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Tekken is a fighting video arcade game franchise from Bandai Namco that premiered in 1994–one of the first fighting games to use 3D animation.  The game has gone through seven main games over the years, Tekken 3 (the one that gets named-dropped in Shaun of the Dead) notable as the third best-selling fighting game of all time behind two Super Smash Bros. games.  Tekken has seen several spinoff games, as well as movie adaptations, both in animated (Tekken: The Motion Picture and Tekken: Blood Vengeance) and live action (Tekken), form, and in comic book adaptations.  Netflix is bringing the next iteration of the franchise to life in the animated series Tekken: Bloodline–fans of the games will understand the “bloodline” reference.  Check out the first trailer for the series below.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

At $6.5 billion in sales, Halo, the 77th biggest media franchise, is nothing to sneeze at.  So what took the video game franchise so long to make it to a major live-action production?  It was just stuck in development stages.  But for both those who never played the games and those who have, Halo is now a live-action series joining sci-fi’s Star Trek franchise on Paramount+.  The series opener is full of all the pew-pew action you’d expect of a first-person shooter game.  Neither a continuation, adaptation, or prequel to the games, the show is meant to be a standalone world.  It’s Lost in Space meets Ender’s Game and Star Wars: The Clone Wars, with similar plotting to Dune and Gears of War, a non-human threat like Ender’s Game and Starship Troopers, a 26th century mad scientist’s super squad with Edge of Tomorrow armor and guys in them that talk and stomp around like Jayne in Firefly.

Fortunately the pilot comes together like the short mini-series that touched off the successful Battlestar Galactica reboot.  Yes, this is a military sci-fi genre series to check out, and one you’ll likely return for next week.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

In a pre-pandemic world we all would have seen Free Guy in the theater by now and everyone would have been raving about it since August.  Now it’s arrived for a wider audience on streaming platform Disney Plus.  Is it worth your time?  Absolutely.  It’s so much better than advertised, you’re certain to be surprised at the layers of storytelling found in this mix of Ready Player One (but 50 times better) Tron: Legacy, Mr. ROBOT, The Truman Show, The LEGO Movie, Elf, Sleeping Beauty, and lots of other great shows.  Yes, it’s another video game movie, but it’s bigger.  It’s another Ryan Reynolds action movie.  But lots more fun.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Guardians of the Galaxy–the game–is space fantasy action with comedy notes, available now at Amazon for PS4, PS5, XBox, and more.  A new tie-novel is a prequel to the game, and it’s not a book to be overlooked.  After more than a decade of reviewing nearly every tie-in novel produced by Marvel and DC, I’m going to say M.K. England’s Guardians of the Galaxy: No Guts, No Glory is a contender for the top spot.  You need to get a lot right when you’re crafting a tie-in for familiar characters–one wrong bit of dialogue and you’re sunk.  It’s going to be more of a challenge if the team you’re writing about is as diverse and different as the members of the crew of the spaceship Milano.  You don’t need to know anything about the game to jump right in, and readers will find the characters and their backstories are 99% consistent with the characters as seen on the big screen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  And fans of the comics can look forward to 300 pages of humorous banter among these beloved space adventurers.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

You are Star-Lord in the new Eidos-Montreal video game based on the infamous Marvel Comics band of misfits, the Guardians of the Galaxy.  The third person, action-adventure has players calling the shots as the team tries to save the universe again, but not before you cause a chain of events to make it all unravel.  Guardians of the Galaxy–the game–is space fantasy action with comedy notes, available now at Amazon for PS4, PS5, XBox, and more.  There’s even a purple llama.  And if you like the game, or you want to know what it’s like to be a voice actor for video games, don’t miss the behind-the-scenes guidebook, Guardians of the Galaxy: The Art of the Game, just out from Titan Books.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Not many books give you goosebumps as they take you back to a moment in time.  How do you create not only a new game, but a new industry?  Your next time travel adventure needs to be Arjan Terpstra and Tim Lapetino’s giant look back at not only Pac-Man but the rise of video games.  It’s Pac-Man: Birth of an Icon, simply an incredible, deep dive into the development of the video game and all its incarnations from its beginnings as Puck-Man, almost called Paku-emon (sound familiar?).  From development via pinball, coin-op, and theme park companies Namco, Bally, and Midway (and side-dances with Atari), fans of 1970s and 1980s nostalgia will see how a few key players in Japan created Pac-Man, and even more around the world expanded it into an icon–all out of 111 yellow flashes of light on a computer screen.  The giant book is full of vintage photographs, marketing materials, corporate and engineering design notes, and much more.  Pac-Man: Birth of an Icon might be the best video game history yet, and it’s now available here at Amazon.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

At one level you know exactly what to expect when you select a movie based on a video game.  Any film worth its production costs needs to bring general audiences into the world, the director and writers need to then build that world, establish heroes, fight battles, provide over-the-top action and effects, and the hero(es) must achieve some kind of goal.  The stakes are high, often the fate of the entire world.  And that rarely leaves room for character development.  Entries include Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed, Resident Evil, Warcraft, Monster Hunter, Prince of Persia, Rampage, Sonic the Hedgehog, and a slew of Pokémon movies, and they go back decades to the original concept film Tron, which had a video game at its center that players didn’t get to play until after the movie.  Lesser rated entries include movies like Hitman, Max Payne, Doom, Street Fighter, and In the Name of the King.

This year’s big-budget release Mortal Kombat, both a remake and a reboot and adaptation of a series of martial arts fantasy games going back to 1992, leans heavily into Asian action movie culture.  It arrives in a growing marketplace for API and AAPI films, in a year including Raya and the Last Dragon, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins.  

So where does Mortal Kombat land in comparison?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Video game dabblers and players turn into game company entrepreneurs in Netflix’s latest retro fix, High Score, a documentary in the vein of shows like VH1’s Behind the Music and The Toys That Made Us.  Pioneer designers and creators like Space Invaders creator Tomohiro Nishikado, Nintendo’s Hirokazu Tanaka, and Atari’s Nolan Bushnell piece together a brief history of video games with an emphasis on home play in this new six-episode, limited series now streaming on Netflix.  The series goes through the development and rise of games moving from upright consoles to the television set, with Mystery House, Space Invaders, Star Fox, Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, Madden Football, Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, and Doom rising to the top as the touchstones of this modern corner of history.

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Eight years ago this week, LucasArts revealed footage for a next-generation video game, Star Wars 1313.  It looked like it was going to be incredible (we previewed it here at borg).  It had cutting edge graphics, but it got cancelled as a result of Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars.  Flash forward to today, and after 17 other franchise game releases now the latest game preview for Star Wars is here: Star Wars: Squadrons.  It arrives with some nice visual effects and a mirroring of play options.  Players play one of five Rebel “New Republic” X-Wing pilots, including a Trandoshan alien (like the bounty hunter Bossk) or one of five members of an Imperial TIE-Fighter squadron.  Lucasfilm and EA/Electronic Arts have partnered to create this first-person space combat game for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, and playable via virtual reality (VR) on PlayStation 4 and PC.  It is set after the events of Return of the Jedi.

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