Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quotes from the Couch II

"I killed him in the penis."-Ian

"We called it the 'gumbo shooter'."-Gil

Gil-"It's a vagina coffin."
Jeremi-"Dicks go in, they don't come out."

"The force fucked her!"-Gil

"Midget RAGE!!!!"-Jeremi

"Work your smagic!"- Gil

"Oh. My. God. You can see Mario's back!"-Gil

"Stop it! That's awkward, you were yelling at my vagina."-Kim

"Way to throw a baby into a lake of freezing water, Gil."-Jeremi

"They don't let guys stay over after a certain age, because sex could happen. But, sex can happen no matter what."-Gil

In Which the Left Side is Bored...

I decided to blog while waiting for my homework to render.

I am bored.

AND I'll tell you a little secret. We at Observations from the Other Side of the Couch, have NO couch. We have a blanket on the floor. I miss the couch.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Uncharted 2: Among the Right Side

In 1993 I played my first video game, Sonic 2 for the Sega Genesis. I loved that game... it was fast, fun, the music was great, and my Dad and I would spend hours playing the 2-player races. I always loved going back to that game, I still do. For 16 years, it held the title of my favorite game of all time. Then in 2007, Naughty Dog released Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. I almost passed this game up, I'm not a huge fan of shooters, but then I saw a trailer for the game and I thought "This trailer feels like a movie trailer" and I was instantly intrigued. Also, seeing the Naughty Dog logo assured me that it would be a quality game.

I played the heck out of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, I mastered the Crushing difficulty, and played through the story at least 13 times. The story was great, the acting was top-notch, and the characters were amazingly well rounded. The graphics were great, and the sound design was completely satisfying. My only problem with the first game was a somewhat anti-climactic final boss. But the pros FAR outweighed the cons for me.
Needless to say I was beyond excited when the sequel, Among Thieves was announced. I anticipated this game's release for almost a year, reading every news story about it, looking at every screenshot, watching the epic-ly cinematic trailer over and over again, playing the multiplayer beta for months until, finally, on October 13th, I finally had the game in my hands. I started playing it at Noon, and couldn't stop playing until I beat it at 3:30 in the morning. The story is amazing. The graphics are stellar, the characters are just great, and the acting raised the bar. The next day I started my second play through.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves officially took the crown of my favorite game from Sonic 2. The first Uncharted came close, but Sonic stayed dear to my heart... but after beating the second game I couldn't deny that Sonic had finally been beaten.
The game feels like an action movie, one that you can control. The game is linear, which is usually a fault, but not in this case. The controls are tight, the aiming is better than the first, the animations are smoother and more complex. The music is grand in scale, and the sounds are more dynamic in range. The game is longer, and the story more engaging. The visuals are astounding, often compelling me to explore and look at every little detail. The cutscenes, they are amazing. It's hard to go back to other games and watch their cutscenes because they just aren't as well done as this game's.

Every character in this game is interesting. The main character Nathan Drake is, of course, amazing. And every man, a breath of fresh air from all the faceless space marines, piles of muscles, and macho men that usually star in action games. He feels pain, and he doesn't take things too seriously. He's a smart ass, without being annoying or unlikeable. He's relatable. The villain, Serbian war criminal Lazarevic is an awesome character. He's intimidating, and piercing, with a twinge of insanity just under the surface, threatening to escape. The women of the game are just as interesting, Elena, a returning character from the first game, is spunky and feisty. She's not some buxom blonde like you'd expect, and she's also not there simply to be the damsel in distress, she's a good foil for Drake, and it's easy to see how a relationship could blossom between the two. Chloe, a new Australian love interest for Drake, is a more promiscuous character, it's hard to tell who's side she's on most of the time, but she serves to add a well played level of tension to many scenes, she's just a great character. Of course there's also Sulley, Drake's father figure and returning character from the first game. He's the lovable, dirty old man, with a cigar in his mouth and debt collectors on his tail at all times. Each character keeps things interesting, and the cutscenes are acted out so well that the interactions between the characters are extremely believable. There are many more characters, but I won't go into depth on every one, as I would hope for everyone to experience this game for themselves. Anyway, the single player story of this game is extremely satisfying, and does not suffer from the problem I had with the last game of an anti-climactic final battle. This game has many moments of action, and high energy
gameplay. I felt my adrenaline pumping at many points, I've never had that with any other game before. I've already played through it almost 7 times. I would have been perfectly happy with the game if the single player experience was all it had to offer, but Naughty Dog really went the extra mile and added in multiplayer.
When I first heard this game was going to have multiplayer, I was skeptical. I felt it would be a tacked on addition, and that it would not hold my interest for more than a few weeks. But my concerns were quickly put to rest once I was able to play some. This is not a tacked on multiplayer addition. It is fun. It is deep. It is addicting.

Uncharted 2's multiplayer consists of the usual fare; deathmatch, elimination, king of the hill and the like. But the climbing mechanics and vertical platforming from the single player carry over into this system, giving it something unique. It adds a level of strategy and I really enjoy it. Unfortunately I'm not much of a competitive type... But that's not a problem here, because Uncharted 2 also has several 3 player co-operative modes, and I am loving them!
Co-operative mode is the mode I play the most online, it consists of objective story missions, survival arenas, and gold rush arenas (a sort of capture the flag game type). Survival is my favorite. It pits you and your team against 10 waves of AI, of increasing difficulty. It's hard when you don't communicate, but with a good team and a good strategy it's a piece of cake. I plan on writing several posts about my strategies for each respective map here in the next few weeks.

Also in the game, Naughty Dog has provided several tools for Machinima, which is an added bonus, giving you some minor editing options, the best of which is a green screen option. I plan to use those tools for upcoming posts as well.

Naughty Dog has not only implemented a ranking system, but also an incentive system. Using in game cash earned in multiplayer and single player, you can buy skins for death match, upgrades for co-op, taunts, etc. This is the most I've played any game online, I plan on reaching the top rank, and buying all these items. So far Naughty Dog has done a good job of supporting the game with additional content post release, and I really hope it continues.

There's so much more I'd like to say about this game, but this post is already running a little long, and I have several more on this topic planned, so I'll save some of it for then.

I'd also like to announce that I am planning on starting a weekly comic on the blog using screenshots from the game. The first of which will probably be in January. If they go well, I will turn them into a series, if that goes well, a machinima series.

Uncharted 2 is an amazing game, I have never enjoyed playing a game this much in my life. If you have a Playstation 3, it's a must have. And please join me online!
Uncharted 2 Stats Card by JAKPRO.net - Rated-G

Coming up will be my post about The Simpsons, as well as the first in my series of co-op strategies, and possibly the first comic.

By the way, congratulations to Naughty Dog on Uncharted 2: Among Thieves winning not only best PS3 game, and best graphics, but taking home Game of the Year at Spike's 2009 Video Game Awards this evening!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Right Side and the Frog

I know I said my next post would be about Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, but Kim and I attended a midnight showing of Disney's new traditional animated film, The Princess and the Frog, last night, and I had to write about it.

The film was tremendous! The animation was beautiful, the songs were great, the acting was good! I'm going to keep this post spoiler free since the film is new, but the movie was very inspiring for me. The story was good, the humor was more contemporary, but still funny. It felt like a true return for Disney, a return to their roots. This film offers more to both sexes than most Princess films. For one, the Prince was actually an interesting character, and the Princess herself wasn't a complete girly-girl. All of the secondary characters were interesting, and brought something to the table.

The effects animation in the film was spectacular! The use of CG was minimal, only to help accentuate certain lighting effects and other minor things. The colors were vibrant, and the backgrounds gorgeous. Each character had their own unique quirk to the way they were animated, and it was very effective!
One of my favorite characters was Lois, the alligator. The animation on this character was quick, energetic, and exaggerated, and the voice they chose for this character really stood out. Every scene with this guy in it was a joy to look at. Really the whole film was, but Lois really appealed to me. Another great character was Charlotte, a friend of the main character, Tiana, the animation on Charlotte was extremely energetic and snappy, reminiscent of characters like Darla Dimple of Cats Don't Dance, and just about every character in the Emperor's New Groove.
But above all, I loved the villain, Dr. Facilier, the Shadow Man. The animation on this guy was a lot like Lois, exaggerated and energetic, but while Lois was snappy in his movements, the Dr. was smooth and loose. His facial expressions were neatly done, and his lip-sync was interesting to watch. Keith David lent his voice to Dr. Facilier, you may recognize the voice as the arbiter from the Halo series. and this was clearly a good choice. His voice has power and intimidation working in it's favor, and I had no idea he could use it for anything even remotely referred to as singing. But he did, and it was great. The character reminded me of Oogie Boogie, from the Nightmare Before Christmas, from the purples and greens used for him, to the voice, even down to his musical number.

As a whole the film was just amazing, it felt great to see Disney return to traditional animation. I hope this movie does well, so the studio will be encouraged to continue doing so.

I highly recommend this film to anyone, and if you have an appreciation for traditional animation I DEMAND you go see this film. I'm already wanting to go for a second viewing!

Next will be Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Who Framed the Right Side?

"I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way."

There are so many great films, so many awesome animated features, and live-action films out there. But how many combine live-action, beautiful animation, and a great, original story? Many have tried, but in my opinion, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is the one film that succeeded in creating a work of art out of all of these media.

If you've never seen this film, watch it. It's worth your time. This film was made before computers were used for animation. Each frame of live action footage was printed out in black and white, and animated over on cells. Then inked and painted, and then taken to Industrial Light and Magic to be highlighted and shaded in order to fit the lighting of the live action environment.

Live action props in an animated characters hands were manipulated by strings like puppets. Live action actors like Bob Hoskins would act to these props, makeshift representations of characters, and in most cases thin air. One of the more brilliant scenes in the movie has Bob Hoskins' character, Eddie Valiant, handcuffed to the titular character, Roger Rabbit. The acting, animation and effects all come together to create one of the most convincing scenes of hybrid live-action and animation EVER. This film was made in the late 80's, and it looks far better than the attempts at combining the two that have been made since then. When this is attempted nowadays, the use of green screen is obvious, and the image just falls flat. The effects in this film still hold up today.

Despite my gushing, it is by no means a perfect film. There are a few scenes that show some disregard for the 5 C's, and there's some confusing shot flow in the Piano Duel scene at the Ink and Paint club, despite the tremendous animation. No doubt this is a result of the studios involved being somewhat cautious of how to plan the effects shots. But I still am captivated by the film's charm and amazed by the end result. Nothing is perfect, and to be honest, the flaws in the film make it all the more endearing as a whole.

Either way, this movie is an inspiration to me, the animation is beautiful, smooth and complex, Richard Williams' touch is clearly apparent throughout. The acting is great, the humor is spot on and the story is well-written. Even if this film is not your bag, you still have to give credit to the amount of work that went into this masterpiece. The original characters in this movie have seen their fair share of popularity since the films release. Roger himself was well received. Who could forget Baby Herman? And EVERYONE remembers Jessica Rabbit... Not forgetting that this film marks the first (and so far only) time that Donald and Daffy Duck have been on screen together. Better still, this film ALSO marks the first (and also so far only) time that Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse have been on screen together.

History, you've just been MADE.

This is my favorite film because every time I finish watching it, I remember why I'm studying animation, and why I'm going into this industry. There are several films that do this for me, but Who Framed Roger Rabbit is the one that comes to mind the most.

Next post I will be taking a look at my favorite video game: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.

Also boobs.
"Dabbling in watercolors, Eddie?"

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Up with the Left side.

As you can tell by our posts so far, Gil is a bit more organized than I am. I'm a bit more of a "free spirit", and he's kinda buttoned down, kinda. We both have artistic minds and "Peter Pan" dreams. We're both animators, and being animators means have a kid like imagination and sense of adventure. Which brings me to a movie that means a lot to us. Pixar's Up.

We went to see this movie together, about a week before the LBP confession( he made me much more girly than I was, there was no gushing.) Once we had begun dating we talked about what had cemented the idea of us being together. Gil had gone to see Up by himself. As he sat there watching that beautiful montage about a two people and their life together; alone, surrounded by couples, he wanted me there beside him. When we went together he had intended to ask me out, but some how passed up that great opportunity. ;)

The Married Life montage gave Gil and I a look into a life we would want to live. A couple that loves each other through good times and bad, growing old together, wanting each other to be happy. That is the life we want together. Up inspires our love on a constant basis. When we get married we plan on having an Up themed wedding.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Quotes from the Couch

"Physics, I slap my dick on you!"-Jeremi

"I'll ask him later, 'cause I don't want to yell at him while he's on the pot."-Kim

"He has a box dick. I mean, really, it's like a cheese wheel."-Kim about stupid guys on Yahoo!Answers

"Why do they keep casting Nicholas Cage as an action hero? Nicholas Cage doesn't scream action hero to me,
he screams pussy."-Gil

"I would totally put that in my pants and jump around." -Gil

"It's dark. My boobs hurt!"-Kim

"Ooooooh! That makes my nipples toasty!"-Gil

"NO! Don't drink that. It's my dipping milk."-Kim

"Farting on peoples' teeth is horrible."-Ashley

"So, your defying gravity and death all at the same time."-Candace

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Welcome to the RIGHT Side.

I decided to help my girlfriend out with this blog in the hopes that we could appeal to both sexes, and perhaps provide a little more variety in the kind of things we post.

Here's a little bit about me, not a lot, as I'm sure I will reveal more about myself in the coming posts.

I'm Gil, I'm an artist, and an aspiring animator. I love Kim (the Left Side), movies, and playing video games.

My favorite movie is Who Framed Roger Rabbit

My favorite game is Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

My favorite show is The Simpsons

And my favorite book is Watchmen

I plan to analyze why these things appeal to me personally in dedicated posts for each respective item of interest in the coming weeks.

Of this generation of consoles I currently own a Playstation 3. I'm online a lot, so you can add me, my PSN handle is Rated-G.

Introduction aside, I'd like to express my appreciation for a game that is particularly close to my heart: LittleBigPlanet.

This is one of the most entertaining games I've played this generation, it is pure, lighthearted fun. It has brought my friends and I together many times for hours of laughter, yelling, and sack slapping.

But the main reason I hold this game close is because it pulled Kim and I closer together. We started playing this before we had both admitted to our mutual feelings together, and after playing through it one day, trying to Ace all the levels and collect all the items, cheering for each other when our lives were limited, and high-fiving whenever we completed difficult challenges together; Kim paused the game and spilled her feelings toward me. I was shocked at the suddenness of it all, but admitted I felt the same way. There was some awkwardness as she said "Ok!" and un-paused the game. We continued playing as we were, a great team.

It's because of her help that I was able to collect the last few items, and her encouragement that I survived all the levels without dying. It's just a game, but it's a game that helped bring her and I together. We've completed the game already, but we still love going back and playing through the game, trying out some user created levels online. This game helped us see how well we work together as a team, and we have maintained that strong team ethic ever since.

If you have feelings for someone; sit them down, play a game of LBP. It's the perfect game to pick up and play, you can run it in bite-sized chunks, it's simple and challenging, and even non-gamers can enjoy it and catch onto it. The lack of a split-screen option for multiplayer forces you to stick together, and the many opportunities for teamwork will give you a little peek at how well you two might work together.

An idea that I haven't even tried yet is creating a level together, expressing your creativity and building something with each other, for other people to enjoy could be tremendously rewarding! Give it a go!


As a game itself, LittleBigPlanet is a great throwback to side scrolling games of past console generations; Sonic, Mario, Mega Man, and the like, whilst still retaining a certain freshness. The story mode doesn't offer a very deep narrative, but it has a sense of direction. There are plenty of levels on the disc itself, well built, and carefully planned to provide just the right level of challenge with a finely crafted learning curve. And when you're bored of those, you can jump online to see what other people have created. Some haven't put as much effort into their levels as others, but there are quite a few gems out there to be discovered.

The game has a handmade style to it, everything having a fabric, or craft element look to it. It's all very endearing and makes the game really stand out. The graphics are great as well, you can feel the texture of the fabrics in the game, and it's just realistic enough to further enhance the hand crafted style of the game.

Sound design is excellent, lots of quirky sound effects, a wide range without any feeling out of place. And the music choices are also excellent, some licensed, some original, all catchy and beautiful.

Oh, and it's narrated by Stephen Fry... need I say more?

If you own a PS3, and you have loved ones, kids, or kids at heart, you owe it to yourself to pick this fantastic game up. It's been out for just over a year, and I still enjoy the heck out of it.

Also, for those who have the game, check out my levels! Search for my screen name in the game and give me some feedback!

Next post I will discuss Who Framed Roger Rabbit, as I start to dissect my favorites.