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Though quite familiar with the production headaches of A New Hope, I was totally ignorant of the behind-the-scenes nightmares, and huge financial risk, that went into the strongest Star Wars installment, The Empire Strikes Back. Did you know both the second unit director and the first screenwriter died during production? And I thought Mark Hamill’s car accident was rough…

Anyway, this information comes courtesy of a new dork-like-me-coffee-table-book The Making Of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back by J.W. Rinzler. All the production dish sounds great,  but of course I am drawn to the rare concept art.

By the way, why am I so in love with concept art? I couldn’t quite say… I’m a somewhat amateur artist, and my creations most resemble those of concept artists (and actually, fashion designer sketches – though I have no such experience), in that they are  rough-around-the-edges, with an emphasis on atmosphere and events – concepts, as it were. Perhaps I just enjoy that early stage of creative thinking… but anyway, io9 has even more pictures of the iconic Vader-Luke duel, if you’re inclined to take a look.

Oh, another bit of trivia? Yoda was originally named Buffy; and Vader wasn’t even Luke’s father in early script drafts. Hard to imagine now, huh?

…and I will fall for the company’s latest money-sucker.

Is Capcom milking this franchise? Probably. Is it a strong enough game to support such obvious squeezing? Most definitely…at least for me. Since we all still have to wait for Tekken x Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Capcom has given its Super Street Fighter IV lovers a little download-able somethin-somethin.

Most notably, Yin and Yang from the arcade version will more than likely come to consoles. Yin and Yang, introduced in Street Fighter III are well and good as characters, but they already nosed their way into Street Fighter Alpha – are they that interesting? Now a SSF4 version of Elena, Q, R. Mika or (dare I say it and lose all credibility?) Skullomania – that would get me going…

Anyway, as far as new, downloadable costumes go, the clear winner is Chun Li’s original Street Fighter Alpha workout getup; and the clear loser is C. Viper‘s stupid nurse/lab-tech outfit.

The first set of costumes will be available (for however much Capcom feels like charging) on October 26; but the costumes will be released in stages (hence the milking), starting with meh-level characters Hakan, Makoto, Guy, Dudley and (ugh) Dee Jay.

Of course I’m waiting for the ladies (Chun-Li and Viper included) to come out in November.

Video games based on movies have a deservedly horrible reputation; however, the Knights of The Old Republic games for XBOX and PC impressed me so much, I venture their events, characters and settings surpass anything George Lucas ever came up with. Yeah, I said it.

The D&D-style gameplay was well-executed, the customization and battles were both engaging in their own ways, but most of all, the installments – especially the sequel The Sith Lords (ah, so woefully rushed) – presented incredible sci-fi concepts… the Sith Triumverate? Particularly Kreia/Darth Traya? Trying to destroy The Force itself?

…but I should save my gushings for another post. I am happy a solid creative team is bringing back the Old Republic franchise, but I am infuriated it’s a god-damned MMORPG, meaning story takes a back seat to interacting with idiots on the Internet (no offense). Developers promised plot would remain front-and-center, but I think this new trailer, while it does reference the central character of Knights, Darth Revan, as well as the HK-47 assassin droid, reveals what the game will actually be like: blasting battles and fetch quests, with no real story surrounding the playable character and his entourage.

This frustrates me because the cinematic trailers for Old Republic, such as “Deceived” one embedded after the jump, capture that fantastic Star Wars essence, but the cinematics can never translate to an MMORPG’s gameplay.

Why doesn’t anyone realize this?

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Since Castlevania titles have followed a slight trend as of late, the time is ripe to discover and share the title that belongs to you, you miserable little pile of secrets.

Are you a whip-wielding Belmont bent on temporarily destroying Dracula? Or perhaps a Belnades witch or a self-loathing vampire … also bent on temporarily destroying Dracula? Enter your name and Castlevania persona  to find out your very own morose game title – guaranteed to be as empty as your soul.

Have at you!

Let us know what you got in the comments…

In the hokey tradition of X-Men vs. Street Fighter, or the even more inclusive Marvel vs. Capcom, a new fighting game crossover is in the works: At San Diego Comic Con, Capcom announced (well, Namco as well, I suppose) the development of Street Fighter X Tekken. …I know. While it’s not due for two years or so, this clip below from the Con will tide me over for a while; seeing a Street Fighter-ified Nina Williams grappling Ryu while Kazuya twirls in for an electric uppercut, that’s plain incredible. I get why those guys are screaming. I do.

As you can see from the clip, the game will feature 2-vs.-2 fighting style. And while this game is obviously on Capcom’s court, the crossover will be a two-game deal: Namco will be releasing its own version, if a little later … which I’m not as excited about, but I’ll certainly buy it.

Now which characters from each roster will make the cut? Here’s hoping for Lei (Tekken) and C. Viper Street Fighter.

watchmen

Sorry, you're dead to him, guys




Ah, how refreshing when an artist isn’t in it for the money; they really can say whatever they want. As you may know, writer and ceremonial magician Alan Moore wanted nothing to do with the Watchmen film adaptation (really, he got none of that $185 million); and now that the “damage is done,” Moore has shunned his own franchise.


Moore told Wired (and apparently there’s more to come):

“[DC Comics] offered me the rights to Watchmen back, if I would agree to some dopey prequels and sequels … I don’t even have a copy of Watchmen in the house anymore. The comics world has lots of unpleasant connections, when I think back over it, many of them to do with Watchmen.”

“So I just told them that if they said that 10 years ago, when I asked them for that, then yeah it might have worked. But these days I don’t want Watchmen back. Certainly, I don’t want it back under those kinds of terms.”



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Trailer for Let Me In, the U.S. remake



I recall a friend’s manic endorsement of the Swedish movie Let The Right One In when it came out in 2008, which, along with a glance at the synopsis, actually pushed me to postpone a viewing and read the book. As I understood it, Let The Right One In presented a haunting, unusual treatment of the vampire mythos – and I’ve already re-read Anne Rice more times than I’m willing to admit – so I wanted to experience the real deal.

I found the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, which he only wrote in 2004 (if only things could move this quickly for me if/when I get published), unfocused and difficult to get through – and it was in translation, which always irks me as a reader. Perhaps I was primed for something else from the author – I fear because of the current Twilight craze I hold my ears to – but the vampire elements took a backseat to a bloated cast of characters and endless angst from the human child protagonist. I am also leery of novels with child protagonists.

Anyway, only two years later, Cloverfield director Matt Reeves and Hammer Films are releasing a U.S. remake of the Swedish hit. The new trailer looks solid – like a faithful, though polished-up adaptation – but for some reason they renamed it Let Me In; I’m not sure why, as I actually loved the original title.


Watch the trailer for the ’08, Swedish Let The Right One In film after the jump, for your comparison…


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And so goes the new Castlevania


The clouds of nerd dust have settled; E32010, with its some 45,600 attendees from 90 countries, has come to a close. We’ve all processed the new arrivals (as well as the no-shows), so which titles have stood the test of a few days of reflection?

Be warned: My own narrow interests influence my decisions, as I am an RPG and action-adventure-RPG-gamer at heart…

That being said, the standouts fell into a few convenient categories – so let’s discuss:

“I Would Be Excited, But It’s for a Handheld”:


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Alas I have failed William Gibson’s Neuromancer; and alas I made it only to page 90, a violation of my “at least get to the 100 mark” rule of reading. I picked up the punk, sci-fi classic in part for its bestowed status, but more so for its Ghost in The Shell-esque premise – which bears a similarity to my own sci-fi concepts (as I am an imaginary novelist) to a degree I had to read up on my competition.

I found Gibson’s novel borderline unreadable, however. The author sets up this grungy, futuristic Japan, but fails to focus on characters, to have characters drive the events of the novel. Having sacrificed the human element, you would think Gibson could explain his sci-fi conceits, but he fails there as well: Too often I had no idea what was happening or even who was speaking. I enjoyed the infiltration of the Sense/Net building, but I remember thinking, Oh, this is kind of cool, but I feel completely out of the loop.

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Would Jeri Ryan bring a little tortured, 24th-century cyborg realness to the role?



As of now you’ve probably savored the 8-minute “teaser”/pitch YouTube video of Mortal Kombat Rebirth, a gritty, contemporary re-imagining of the fighting series for the big screen. While the image of “Reptile” gnawing on a frozen tongue certainly had effect, the part we’ll all remember is, of course, Jeri Ryan as Sonya Blade. (I did appreciate the staple of any Mortal Kombat incarnation: killing off Johnny Cage in the first minute; he’s like Kenny up in here.)

Alas Jeri Ryan Twitter-ed away a few hopes: The short, shot over two months, is only a pitch for a possible movie deal…

“Okay, so… Mortal Kombat. It’s not a game trailer. Actually was made for the director to sell WB on his vision for a reimagined MK film … I did it as a favor to a friend. No idea yet what WB’s reaction to it was. And I’m not sure how you can contact WB to push them to make it. But you guys are resourceful…!”

Thanks for calling us all nerds, Jeri. And favor or no, I want Jeri cast if this movie deal goes through; and the YouTube buzz has to be grabbing some WB executive attention. Although the makers of the last film plan to file a lawsuit, as they still hold rights to a sequel – ouch.

In the meantime, Warner Brothers announced via E3 its next video game installment of the series, Mortal Kombat 9, as well as a 2011 release. The next incarnation goes for a Street Fighter IV-style 2-D engine, and actually looks pretty sweet. Watch the trailer below…





After the jump, let us relive the many incarnations of Sonya Blade, in film and otherwise; and watch the infamous Mortal Kombat pitch, if you haven’t seen it…

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