Hardcore Henry

Who needs plot when you have guns

Also known as Every Shooter Ever: the Movie.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

I don’t remember when I first came upon Hardcore Henry. I want to say 2012, but the first teaser I can find is from 2014. Regardless, I remember this scene quite clearly, and was very interested in the first person perspective. Back then, it was titled Hardcore; the “Henry” wasn’t added until the movie’s first full-length trailer.

Anyway, Hardcore Henry is a fresh take on the action movie genre. There’s quite honestly very little in the way of drama or dialogue or any of that boring character development stuff; Henry has blood on his hands (literally) pretty much in the first ten minutes, and it stays there until the credits roll.

More than that, though, is the first person perspective. Those who know me know that I’m primarily a shooter player; I usually put about fifty hours into the annual Call of Duty and a smattering of other titles here and there. As a result, Hardcore Henry‘s unique camera angle intrigued me. After the film came out, I remember dismissing reviews saying how the first person camera was confusing and nauseating; after all, I assumed that these reviewers simply never played a shooter.

I quickly realized that the reviewers were right, though. One thing that a lot of gamers (myself included) take for granted is view stabilization. Our brains automatically stabilize our views when running (or moving at all), and game developers replicate that in-engine. However, strapping a GoPro to a bobbing head means that the camera picks up everything, including the aforementioned view bobbing. Of course, when the actor is running this is further exacerbated, and at full sprint it becomes hard to see anything at all. I like to think I play a lot of FPS games, and yet the view bob was almost too much for me, often devolving into random streaks of color intertwined with bloody squishes and gunshots.

That being said, the movie was still a fun watch. The characters may have been boring and the view a little hard to handle at times, but the near-constant flow of gore, action, and slapstick comedy made the journey enjoyable nonetheless (quite memorable is the wrong drawer scene in the strip club). I particularly liked the music usage, especially with the random Magnificent Seven soundtrack and the last killing spree set to “Don’t Stop Me Now”.

Hardcore Henry isn’t for everyone. It’s gory, it’s bloody, it’s ridiculous, and it could legitimately incite motion sickness. But for those that can handle it, it’s an enjoyable mess of fighting and action, with few things as mundane as plot or writing or romance. Gamers will appreciate the references and elements taken from shooters, and even non-gamers who like a gory mess will still find fun.

Kindred Spirits on the Roof: Another Yuritopia

More fluffy yuri.

People who know me know about my obsession with this series. It’s fluffy, it’s cute, it’s real, it’s meaningful, it’s enticing, it’s emotional – as I’ve said before, there’s something about the series that stays with you long after finishing it.

But enough about that; I’ve written enough about all those aspects. The reason I’m writing about it again is because yesterday I finally received the official manga sequel, titled Another Yuritopia. And really…there’s not much to say about it. It’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect a KSotR manga to be, with all of the same elements that made the visual novel so adorable. The book itself comes with two new stories set in the world, and both take cues from the visual novel in their own distinct art styles (with single-page drawings from Peg, who did all of the art for the game). I particularly like all the appearances/references to all of the characters in the game; Side A, set just one year after the visual novel, is the direct sequel (Aki’s a guitarist now!), while I believe Side B to be set one more  year after that.

Side note, the two main characters in Side B appear to be character reincarnations of Sachi and Megumi based on their personalities. This is also strengthened further by their similar physical appearances.

Anyway, I won’t talk about the stories, because you really won’t care unless you’ve actually played through the visual novel. But it is out there if, for some reason, you’re as obsessed as I am and just want to continue Yuritopia.

Rogue One: a step in the right direction

Focusing on the little ones in the Star Wars universe.

So it’s been a while. Exams, War Thunder, and Pokémon Moon have been eating up my time.

Anyway, I saw Rogue One earlier this month. For those of you living underneath a rock, Rogue One is the first in Star Wars Anthology series, detailing the team of Rebels that actually went and stole the plans for the Death Star.

Before we go further, let me say now: SPOILERS AHEAD.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film, because I believe it provided a much-needed perspective into the grittier parts of the Star Wars universe. So far, all we’ve had in the new canon has been grand and epic, focusing on a Skywalker and the family’s effects on the galaxy as a whole. Rogue One steps away from that. Instead of showing us the Jedi and their status as elites with their control over the Force and blaster-impermeable lightsabers, the film focuses on a small, abrasive group of normal soldiers. In the weeks leading up to the film, I saw a description of Rogue One as a WWII film set in Star Wars, and I agree. There are parts of the film that seem bleak and impassable, and I could draw some analogies between the Empire and Nazi Germany. Moreover, this is the first Star Wars film to have a truly painful ending. Up until then, every single film had ended on some sort of positive note; Empire Strikes Back had the Skywalker twins gaze out upon the galaxy as grand, majestic chords play in the background, and Revenge of the Sith still had a fairly long section of hope following Vader’s duel with Kenobi. In Rogue One, though the film ends on CG Leia’s declaration of hope (rest in peace, Mrs. Fisher), the moments up until then were frantic and terrified, as Vader cuts down Rebel troops without even pausing (which I’ll get into later). It’s also the first film to have the entire main cast die in various ways, further showing just how against the wall the Rebel Alliance is at this point and reminding us (as the audience) of the everyday grunt that routinely takes a back seat to the story of the Jedi. It’s powerful, and despite the grimmer tone still feels like Star Wars.

I’ll admit, I liked almost strictly everything about this film, but there were two things I didn’t. First was Vader. In the original trilogy, Darth Vader was a terrifying figure. In A New Hope, he was Tarkin’s enforcer; under his control, but fear-inspiring nonetheless. In the rest of the original trilogy, he directly served the Emperor and killed his own officers in cold blood. In Rogue One, he’s…feminine. And sassy. There’s certainly more hip sway than I would have liked, and though I enjoyed the sarcasm I think it was a little much coming from Vader. That being said, there were two fantastic Vader moments: first, his bacta tank scene sans prosthetics that reminded us of his humanity lost, and the heart-wrenching, terrible moment when he slowly slaughters a hallway full of doomed Rebel troops. The deathly silence, the mechanical breathing, and the red lightsaber – it was the cold, ruthless side of Darth Vader never before seen after his confinement to the black armor.

Anyway, the second thing I didn’t like was the lack of real development given to the rest of the crew (that is, other than Cassian and Jyn). Donnie Yen may have had the best line in all of Star Wars (“Are you kidding me, I’m blind!”), and yet I walked out of the theater not having really learned much about his character (I don’t even remember his name). Now one could make the argument that the characters in-universe had little time to get to know one another and therefore could not really delve deeply into each other’s past, but this results in these characters’ deaths feeling forced or insubstantial.

Aside from these two points, I loved Rogue One. I loved the way that the soundtrack teased John Williams’ score, showing how it’s part of the same universe yet is different from the grandiose epics of the main series. I love K-2SO and his acerbic wit. I love how this film makes me feel the desperation of the Rebel Alliance and the way Empire movements forces its hand in ways it doesn’t want. It’s a step in the right direction; Star Wars is big and flashy, and sometimes it’s nice to have a look at the smaller stories.

I finished transcribing “I Burn (Jazz Remix)”!

Never miss a beat.

The title says it all. Of course, RWBY isn’t originally a video game franchise (even though now they have Grimm Eclipse), but I am active outside of video gaming (see: engineer and musician). I started transcribing it in June or whenever the first “clean” version of the song (meaning, just the soundtrack and no audio from the episode) came out on RT4c or some similar YouTube channel, innocently thinking it’d be easier than some the score I did for Castle Crashers. Then I remembered the breakdown part. Honestly, up until then it was fairly easy, because it was almost completely in the key of E minor, but I think the breakdown is supposed to mirror Jeff Williams’ tritone-based first guitar solo in the original song, and as such was extremely difficult to transcribe by ear.

All in all, though, it was a very satisfying project. My next project is to analyze and/or transcribe the soundtrack to Kindred Spirits on the Roof, in preparation for the r/VisualNovels subreddit’s discussion on visual novel soundtracks. After that, depending on my schedule, I’ll either finish transcribing the soundtrack (if I haven’t already), or move on to Undertale‘s “Snowdin Town”.

You can find my transcription of I Burn (Jazz Remix) here.