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DID YOU READ

The Last Guardian Prepares to Melt Hearts for Holiday 2011

The Last Guardian Prepares to Melt Hearts for Holiday 2011 (photo)

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Team Ico has never made a bad game. Granted, the Sony-affiliated dev studio has only created two games over the last nine years, but each one stands as an inarguable classic of modern gaming. Their first title “Ico” delivered a poignant, dark fable about a banished, horned boy and a wan girl trying to escape a labyrinthine, crumbling castle, pursued by creepy shadow creatures. The spiritual sequel “Shadow of the Colossus” centered on a boy who stalks 16 giant mythological creatures so as to harness their life energy and bring his deceased love back to life. Keep in mind these quick summaries do no justice to the clever, spare and affecting experiences that the games offer.

Both “Ico” and “Shadow of the Colossus” appeared on the PS2 and fans have been eager to see what the studio’s moody, slight medieval aesthetic would look like on the more powerful PS3 hardware. Rumors of a new game have persisted for years and its existence was finally established at 2009’s E3. However, ever since it was officially announced, there’s been little news on “The Last Guardian.” Thankfully, this year’s Tokyo Game show held a bonanza for Team Ico acolytes. Not only did the faithful get new gameplay footage from “The Last Guardian,” but Sony also confirmed brewing speculation that the studio’s previous games would be getting high-definition reissues for the PS3. The “Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection” should be available in the spring of next year.

As for “Last Guardian,” little is known by way of plot details but there’s clearly a special bond between the young man in the game and his eagle/goat/dog/chicken companion. Last year’s E3 trailer for the game showed the mash-up creature chained in captivity, later freed and gamely venturing forth with the title’s plucky, presumable hero. This new clip shows off gameplay, not cutscenes, and testifies to the dev studio’s continued mastery of lighting. Both of their previous games boasted beautifully lit worlds and the play of sunshine and dust particles in the new LG trailer indicates that they’ve taking the environmental illumination to a new level.

Team Ico’s works have also made much of turning relationships and physical closeness into gameplay mechanics. In “Ico,” the title character has to constantly hold the hand of his enervated charge Yorda to keep her moving and their grasps and tugs were replicated by gentle vibrations in the controller. “Shadow of the Colossus” required players to climb and grip most of the Colossi’s hair or skin in the game’s sweeping battles. This mechanic put you in the paradoxical position of having to cling for dear life on the very thing you were trying to kill. There looks to be the same kind of spatial intimacy going on in the glimpses of “The Last Guardian” that I’ve seen so far and it’s almost a sure bet that the game’s emotional dynamics will be extremely heartfelt. And it’s gonna look hella pretty, too. “The Last Guardian” will be out exclusively for the Playstation 3 in the holiday season of 2011.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.