Sky Crawlers

I’ve only got a few missions left before finish the story section of Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces (since writing this I’ve finished) and I’m somewhat at a loss for what to say about it. This is partially due to my not really having a reference point to judge it against. I haven’t played too many flight sims. I did enjoy Sky Crawlers, for the most part, but I could believe that other games do the flight thing better than this one. I also don’t have much to say about the story. I haven’t seen the movie this is based on, though I understand that the stories aren’t really connected. (Is the movie still on Netflix? I should watch it.) Its anime nonsense. Enjoyable anime nonsense, but nonsense nonetheless. I just can’t take a story seriously when it features pubescent super-pilots called ‘Kildren.” Its just not possible.

I can at least make a note of the controls. I think it would be fair to call me a fan of the Wii’s motion controls. For most games they add to the experience despite the inherent slight loss of precision. So listen to me when I say that the default controls in Sky Crawlers are an unforgivable crime. Their problems are numerous and glaring. First, the game wants the player to put the Wiimote into their left hand and the nunchuck in the right. Yes, it wants you to hold it opposite of every other Wii game ever. Its akin to an NES game telling the player to play with the controller upside down. In Sky Crawlers, the wiimote operates as the throttle. The actual steering is left to the nun chuck. But the nunchuck flat doesn’t work as its supposed to. No part of this control scheme is useable, let alone intuitive. It is simply awful. After the tutorial, I realized the complete failure of the motion control and switched to a wavebird and never looked back.

The only other thing of note are the tactical maneuvers. If you can stay close enough to an enemy long enough you can execute a special maneuver the puts the player right behind them. There are three levels, but I have never found a reason to wait past the first one. Sure, higher levels actually get you behind some of the tougher enemies, but for 90% of the game you could have shot down the enemy 4 or 5 times while you wait for the meter to fill up. I don’t like the system because instead of letting the player pull off amazing moves, like flips and barrel rolls in Star Fox, the player pushes one button and the game does it for them. Still, even with it the dog fights are fun.

Sky Crawlers is a decently enjoyable game. Not worth full price, but its worth digging out of a bargain bin. Its not like there are a lot of flight sim options out there for the Wii. And who knows, you might like this games nonsensical anime stylings.

Comic Reviews for Late February

So I guess I’m doing comic reviews again. We’ll see if I can keep this consistent or if it is doomed to be a sporadic thing. Not too many titles this week.

Justice League #6: The new Justice League’s first story comes to its cacophonous conclusion. I’m not jumping on the rapidly filling up hate train for this title, but I would say that this story didn’t quite come together as well as it could have. In the end it is all empty noise and confusion. Lee’s art is as explosive as usual and John’s has a strong handle on the team’s various personalities, so its not all bad just a touch incoherent and soulless. C+

The Flash #6: The art in this titles remains as impressive as it has been since Manapul took over drawing it at the start of the previous Flash title. The story, while less exceptional than the art, is solid. The Flash is one of the few books on the shelves that actually lets the hero’s out of costume life actually play a part as of late. The love triangle among Barry, Iris and Patty is as entertaining as the quite good superheroics, even though I am fairly certain that Barry will end up with the woman who was until recently Mrs. Flash. A-

Aquaman #6: Prado does finishes over Reis breakdowns instead of just inking this issue, but it is not that significant a departure other than some wonky faces. Aquaman takes an issue off as we focus on his wife Mera. Johns really needs to turn the volume on this issue down. In big hero v villain fights his eschewing of subtlety is often a plus, but this issue could stand to be much less bombastic. Mera breaking the wrist of a handsy pervert would be more effective than her crushing all of the bones in his arm. For all its overloud warts, this is an effective if blunt bit of character work for Mera. B-

All-Star Western #6: This issue reinforces that Jonah Hex is an awful bastard. He is cowboy Punisher, a man the reader can only root for because his enemies are even worse than he is. The highlight of this issue is the extended gunfight between Hex and some child slavers, where Palmiotti and Gray step back and let Bernet tell the story with his art. Which he does beautifully and gruesomely. The back-up story is just as good as main one, bringing this story about the Barbary Ghost to a close, but leaving the door open for her to return in either another back-up or in the main story. This is an excellent comic. A

The Ray #3: This series has been a bright spot amongst a sea of darker titles. A ray of light, if you will. This issue turns a bit darker, but is still primarily fun, classic superheroics. The villain is a man who makes reality his own movie, a fitting villain for a book set in Southern California. I’m sad that this is only a four issue series. Good stuff here. B

The Shade #5: This is one of the best books on the stands. Robinson, teamed with a variety of excellent artists like this issue”s Javier Pulido, has recaptured the magic of his Starman run from a decade ago. His work since has been hit-or-miss, but he has yet to go wrong when writing the Shade. Here we meet La Sangre, the Shade’s adopted vampire daughter, and have an adventure in Barcelona searching for a vial of the Shade’s blood. The art is beautiful and the writing is intelligent and highly literate. A

New Mutants #38: Marvel’s double shipping policy means a change of artist, but it is not that big of a problem. This series is on the verge of being as fun as it should be, but for some reason I’m just not engaged. Maybe it’s the cast. I’m a fan of the classic New Mutants, I like Doug, Dani and Bobby and I’m okay with Amara, but I just don’t care for Warlock or Nate Grey. Warlock is supposed to be a joke character, but even with his goofy way of speaking he isn’t that funny and Nate is just aggressively boring. Plus, this issue tries to bring back Bird-Brain, one of the worst characters in X-Men history, which is saying something. C+

Voodoo #6: This title always seems to be just on the verge of taking off and being truly good. But it never quite gets there. Still, at the end of every issue I’m eager for the next one, ready for everything to fall into place so I can proclaim this series truly excellent. Basri is a terrific artist with a clear, fine style. With Williamson taking over for Marz the title has shifted from being a Sci-Fi tinged spy story to a spy tinged Sci-Fi story. Hopefully soon Voodoo will get it together and give readers some answers. B-

Next week look for the next VGA and for my reread of The Dragon Reborn, as well as some musings on my present video game playing and lack thereof.