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God from the Machine: Five Cybernetically Awesome Video Game Characters

God from the Machine: Five Cybernetically Awesome Video Game Characters   (photo)

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One of science fiction’s greatest promises is the melding of man and machine. For decades, authors and creators have imagined what humans would be like with all of our free will bonded to inexhaustible carbon alloys or polymers that would replace bone and muscle. Of course, the question arises as to just how human a person is when silicon circuitry commingles with blood circulation.

In some fictions, there’s no angst whatsoever, Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers seemed pretty well-adjusted for being 40% (or whatever) robot, in the classic 1970s TV series “The Six-Million Dollar Man” and “The Bionic Woman.” On the other hand, “Robocop” showed future Chicago police officer Alex Murphy’s humanity as deeply submerged under all that plating.

In video games, cyborgs have prowled the virtual worlds of arcade machines and home consoles since almost the very beginning. “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” features Adam Jensen, the latest machine-augmented hero in the storied cyberpunk franchise. Jensen follows in the footsteps of J.C. Denton, the protagonist of the original Deus Ex. While both seek to root conspiracies in their stories, Jensen’s tech is a generation or two behind Denton’s, since “DXHR” is a prequel to the 2000 release. These two characters aren’t alone, though. Below, you’ll find a list of some of the most memorable bionic warriors to show up in video games.

Nate ‘Rad’ Spencer from “Bionic Commando”

If he’s not the first cyborg hero in video game history, then he’s definitely the most memorable. The 1987 arcade title featured a special agent The gimmick in Bionic Commando was that the playable character couldn’t jump–a rarity in those days–and instead had to navigate the game’s tiered platforms with the grapple hook attached to his arm. The excellent “Bionic Commando Rearmed” remake in 2008 hit the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, and the downloadble hit featured co-op play so two people could get their hook on. (There was also a modern, gritty 3D update in 2009 that, frankly, sucked.)

The Big Daddies from “BioShock”

Any game rises and falls by its antagonists and one of the reasons that “BioShock” is regarded as a classic is because of the Big Daddies. These hulking monstrosities had their organs transplanted into armored diving suits so that they could protect the creepy Little Sisters who harvest the ADAM substance require for genetic splicing. You often heard them before you saw them in the iconic underwater city of Rapture and any encounter with them was brutal and often humiliating. “BioShock 2” casts you as a prototype Big Daddy with free who searched for the Little Sister he was once paired with. For as much as they’re fearsome figures, the Daddies are also a pitiable example of the cyborg’s lost humanity.

Master Chief from “Halo”

Arguably the most recognizable cyborg in all of video games, the hero of Microsoft’s “Halo” franchise is the one-man army players control in a massive war against an invading alien collective. Also known as John-117, he’s the last of the Spartans, cybernetic supersoldiers who represented humanity’s best hope against the Covenant, a marauding alliance of various extraterrestrial races. The Chief is a terse character, but shows some depth when relating to Cortana, the AI who guides him through most of the games. Microsoft’s putting out “Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary” to celebrate the 10th birthday of the game that started it all. And the Chief’s story will continue in “Halo 4,” announced this year at E3.

Jax from “Mortal Kombat”

Magic gets all the attention in the gory, long-running fighting series but the human warriors of Earthrealm have a few super-science stalwarts who can hold their own against Outworld’s demons. Chief amongst them is Major Jackson Briggs, better known as Jax. He’s a special ops agent who gets embroiled in the extradimensional conflict while searching for his partner, the leggy and lethal Sonya Blade. Jax’s robot arms give him superhuman strength and the ability to launch ranged enemy attacks. His Fatality finishers generally involve pounding the stuffing out of the poor fool who lost their fight, proving that this guy’s gun show is no joke.

Yoshimitsu from “Tekken”

Ninja + robot parts = awesome. The bionic shadow warrior in Namco’s hallowed martial arts franchise conforms the Robin Hood archetype and his reasons for entering the King of Iron Fist tournament usually have to do with fist-to-face wealth distribution. The radical changes in Yoshimitsu’s appearance from game to game get explained as various redesigns of his chassis. He’s the only character in the game who wields a weapon which make him just a bit cooler than the rest of “Tekken” crew.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.


IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.



IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….


IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.


IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

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

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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