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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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.