Archive for August, 2009

Marvel VS Capcom VS Disney… Come on, You Know You Would Play It

I fully understand that this is the stock picture that everyone uses for Marvel. Shut up.

FROM RYAN’S NEW DORM ROOM: Oh, hello there. It has been a while. Not only am I back, but I have some news/speculation/rants to share.

It was announced today (31/8/09) that Disney is buying Marvel for around 4 billion dollars (to put that into perspective, Disney is spending around 1 billion to remake Disney’s California Adventure into a worth while park and spent 7.4 billion to buy Pixar). Here’s the actual press release:

DISNEY TO ACQUIRE MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT

Worldwide leader in family entertainment agrees to acquire Marvel and its portfolio of over 5,000 characters

Acquisition highlights Disney’s strategic focus on quality branded content, technological innovation and international expansion to build long-term shareholder value

Burbank, CA and New York, NY, August 31, 2009 —Building on its strategy of delivering quality branded content to people around the world, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) has agreed to acquire Marvel Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:MVL) in a stock and cash transaction, the companies announced today.

Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney on August 28, 2009, Marvel shareholders would receive a total of $30 per share in cash plus approximately 0.745 Disney shares for each Marvel share they own. At closing, the amount of cash and stock will be adjusted if necessary so that the total value of the Disney stock issued as merger consideration based on its trading value at that time is not less than 40% of the total merger consideration.

Based on the closing price of Disney stock on Friday, August 28, the transaction value is $50 per Marvel share or approximately $4 billion.

“This transaction combines Marvel’s strong global brand and world-renowned library of characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor with Disney’s creative skills, unparalleled global portfolio of entertainment properties, and a business structure that maximizes the value of creative properties across multiple platforms and territories,” said Robert A. Iger, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. “Ike Perlmutter and his team have done an impressive job of nurturing these properties and have created significant value. We are pleased to bring this talent and these great assets to Disney.”

“We believe that adding Marvel to Disney’s unique portfolio of brands provides significant opportunities for long-term growth and value creation,” Iger said.

“Disney is the perfect home for Marvel’s fantastic library of characters given its proven ability to expand content creation and licensing businesses,” said Ike Perlmutter, Marvel’s Chief Executive Officer. “This is an unparalleled opportunity for Marvel to build upon its vibrant brand and character properties by accessing Disney’s tremendous global organization and infrastructure around the world.”

Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Marvel including its more than 5,000 Marvel characters. Mr. Perlmutter will oversee the Marvel properties, and will work directly with Disney’s global lines of business to build and further integrate Marvel’s properties.

The Boards of Directors of Disney and Marvel have each approved the transaction, which is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, certain non-United States merger control regulations, effectiveness of a registration statement with respect to Disney shares issued in the transaction and other customary closing conditions. The agreement will require the approval of Marvel shareholders. Marvel was advised on the transaction by BofA Merrill Lynch.

The amount raises some questions in my mind. Is that all that Marvel is really worth? I understand that the comic industry is having some major issues at the moment, but 4 billion? That’s a steal considering how expensive Pixar was! The internet is abuzz with people either stating that Disney is going to ruin Marvel (I propose that it was all Stan Lee’s horrible writing, but that’s besides the point) and that it marks the end of the comic industry as we know it or that it is the second coming.

If you haven't read this, what the hell is wrong with you?

I personally think that this will end up being a good thing for both parties (but not for Universal, but more on that later). When Disney absorbed Pixar into it’s ever expanding empire, the mouse kept it’s hands off of John Lasseter’s baby. Pixar continued to be Pixar and continued to create the pinnacle of American cinema and has only gotten better with time, with Disney just controlling the distribution and the massive merchandising blitzkriegs. I forsee that the situation with Marvel will be the same. I just hope that Disney will use this venture to make more Disney comics and that the Marvel animated films will actually be worth a viewing. But seriously, the world needs more Uncle Scrooge comics on the level of the Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.

Another aspect of this merger that people are raising a shit-storm about is what is going to happen to the Marvel video games when the licenses are up with Activision, THQ, and Sega. Considering that every Marvel game that isn’t Marvel VS Capcom 2, Marvel Ultimate Alliance (Ultimate Alliance 2 looks freaking awesome, by the way), X-Men Legends, and Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction has been unmitigated shite, I don’t give a crap. Disney will most likely just buy up the licenses and continue to make abysmal super hero games with a few diamonds in the sea of poop.

Imagine a less gaudy version of this in a Disney park... awesome.

What really interests me is the future of Marvel Super Hero Island at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando. With Disney now having control of the reigns, might this land be going away? I kind of hope so. Imagine the Marvel characters coming to the Hollywood Studios, or possibly even getting their own park at Walt Disney World? Having the Imagineers designing the area would enable there to be a lot more coherence to the whole area and the thought of being able to ride the Amazing Adventures of Spider Man at a Disney park is just too awesome to be believed.

This is of course, all arm-chair speculation. I would assume that Disney, Marvel, and Universal will be in talks for the next few months trying to work out some sort of agreement, but the future installations of the Spider Man attraction (in Singapore, Dubai, and South Korea) are all probably in production hell right now and will most likely be there for a while. If Universal were to lose the rights to the Marvel characters, I would forsee that the addition of the Harry Potter characters to the Islands of Adventure park might be able to offset the increased amount of people going to Walt Disney World for the new Marvel attractions.

I will probably update this article as new news is announced, but as stated above, all of this (besides the actual acquisition news) is all speculation and should be regarded as such.

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I Like Watching Things Go Boom…

…especially when they turn into steaks and ham when done so.

FROM THAT SMALL WHITE AS-CLOSE-TO-OWNING-A-PC-AS-HE’S-GOING-TO-BE-FOR-A-LONG-TIME IN RYAN’S BASEMENT: I have had a raging love fest recently for the XBox Live Arcade, most likely started by Target’s sale on the point cards (buy a 1600 point card and get a $5 gift card). This trend continued with the release of ‘Splosion Man, an Arcade exclusive release and the first release of the Arcade’s Summer of Arcade 2009 celebration-type-thingie.

Taken from the description on Xbox.com: Fools they were, to tread where knowledge should stay forbidden. For what emerged was not a man—it was Splosion Man™. “And all who saw him were ‘sploded, for he was the fire and they were but meat.” Able to ‘splode himself at will, Splosion Man launches his way through levels, an uncontainable force. From Twisted Pixel Games, developer of the award-winning The Maw, comes a single- or co-op multiplayer experience that ‘splodes like no other.

As stated so succinctly above, the game was created by Twisted Pixel Games (who also created The Maw, which I am now going to have to check out) and was unleashed upon the world with a bang on July 22nd. The game is an action platformer, but more on the Bionic Commando side of the spectrum, but in this game… the main character doesn’t have a robotic arm, he just explodes and propels himself through the air blowing up robots and scientists in the process!

D'aw, well ain't that cute...

Yes, you play a character that explodes. That’s it. He is a completely demented character that looks like he’s made of lava and is voiced by the great Sonny Strait (yes, the Sonny Strait who did the voice of Kuririn in the Dragon Ball franchise and Maes Hughes in Fullmetal Alchemist). His only motivation in life is to blow shit up and that’s all he will ever do. He gets a great joy and satisfaction out of his calling, and that’s probably all someone needs in life. ‘Splosion Man is not the kind of character who can drive a narrative, he’s very one dimensional, but I just can’t help but love him. Whether he’s spouting out lines from Schwarzenegger movies (my favourite being “Get to the choppa!”), giggling manically while chasing a scientist into a pit of acid, or getting depressed when running through a cloud of icy mist and loosing his powers… only to get them back after leaving the mist to continue to spread his wave of destruction!

What really surprised me about the game was how both incredibly simple, yet complex it is. The controls basically amount to run and explode. All of the face buttons make you explode, that’s it. Exploding is your jump, wall jump, attack, and stopping power. You have three explosions before you have to recharge, and it can be done so by either standing still or sliding down walls (sort of like a match). The whole experience so delightfully simple, but where the game really shines is with the additions made to the formula with every level. There is always something new in each level, whether it be a new enemy (my current favourite being a robot that shoots blades out of it’s back that you have to knock back at it), a new obstacle, or a new thing to help you (such as flamethrowers that instantly recharge your blasting power).

Where the game really shines, though, is it’s humour. I’m both wondering, and kind of hoping that the game will reach meme levels on the internet like Portal did. The game even has a song created for it, and it is so bizarre that the only way to describe it is for you to hear it:

The song loops over and over while you carry around fat scientists to use as shields from the deadly lasers. I dare you to not get the song stuck in your head after hearing it. I dare you. The game’s achievements are also brilliant. Most achievements are completely pointless, such as Resident Evil 5 with it’s achievement for the completion of every freaking level or the newest Prince of Persia where it seems that you get an achievement every 5 minutes of play, but the achievements in ‘Splosion Man are hilarious! Lets look at the list of them (if you think that reading about the achievements and how to get them constitutes a spoiler, skip ahead):

I will first get the more traditional achievements out of the way:

You’re the Best Around!: Beat single player.

A Little Help From Your Friends: A nice Beatles reference, but fairly standard. You get it by beating the multiplayer campaign

All Hail the Splode King: Once again, standard. Beat the single player campaign on Hardcore difficulty.

Eventual Destruction of a Galaxy: Easter egg achievement.

Modern science with either save the world or kill us all (Alternative caption: Back off man, I'm a scientist)

Here’s where they start getting interesting:

Get Over Yourselves: This is when they start getting interesting, you have to watch the entire credits and indulge in the creator’s self-indulgent fantasies in order to get this one.

Get Them Out of Our Schools: This will probably please any incredibly religious readers (though I sort of doubt any of you would read this blog with any sort of intensity), but here is the actual description of the achievement: “Eliminate 10 scientists and stop them from spreading their filthy lies.” I’ll give you a moment for this to sink in…

Lay Off the Caffeine: play like your super-hyper little brother would play, namely by exploding almost every second you can.

Master of Controls: This one is making fun of the simplicity of the controls, mess around with the control menu.

Not a Portal Reference: The funny thing is that it acutally is a Portal reference. Collect all 47 pieces of the cake that is not a lie.

Omaha Steaks?, Delicious!: This one is like the “Get Them Out of Our Schools” achievement and is accomplished by killing off enough scientists to create 5000 pieces of meat.

Only Ghandi Would be Proud: This is probably the hardest achievement to get, you have to beat a level without killing any scientists. Good luck.

Anyone up for a barbeque? My treat!

Sugar High: Exactly like the Portal reference, but for multiplayer!

The only other item of merit I need to speak about are the bosses, and to put it simply, they’re special. I’m talking short-yellow-bus-special, but they present a bit of a challenge and are nevertheless funny. But anyway, if you like platformers, you own a 360, and you have a spare $10 lying around the house, pick up Splosion Man. You’ll have a fun time, and like most good games on the 360, it’s better than Halo. (Let the hate mail commence.)

Waiting is Boring

TOTALLY POSTED IN BETWEEN GAMES OF THE LEGENDARY STARFY AND TURTLES IN TIME RE-SHELLED: Life just keeps getting in the way of making these posts! This time it was my sociology class combined with work, but I’m done with the class now, so I should be able to stay regular. Now on to the topic at hand, I actually mixed up my days in the last part of this series. Day 2 is not the Magic Kingdom, but rather the Hollywood Studios (formerly the Disney-MGM Studios).

Day 2

8:17 AM: Disney’s Hollywood Studios is in sight, as is the massive security line. Yay. Considering how thoroughly they check people’s bags, I’m surprised that there haven’t been any accidents at the parks. If someone really wanted to, they could easily sneak in some sort of weapon.
8:20 AM: The park hasn’t been open for too long and the Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror already has a 20 minute wait? The park literally just opened for it’s Extra Magic Hours! This does not bode well for the rest of the day…
8:23 AM: I love, love, love the queue for the Tower of Terror. The garden is so delightfully creepy (especially when it is hot out or at night when they have the mist blowers going) and when I actually reach the building, I always feel like I’m being watched. It almost makes me feel like the hotel itself is alive (sort of like the Haunted Mansion)

8:29 AM: The wait time was wrong. I’m going to do it again.
8:53 AM: Okay, the wait time was correct this time. Now it’s saying 50 minutes, definitely not going to ride it now. Time for the Rock n’ Roller Coaster Featuring Aerosmith! Party on!
8:55 AM: Yeesh, the wait isn’t much better here! Thank you single rider line!

The director will see you now...

9:30 AM: I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy! I didn’t get the front! The coaster is much better in the front due completely to the launch, it’s far to benign when you’re in the middle. I wonder when Mr. Bill and Daniel are going to get here?
9:33 AM: Ooh, Streetmosphere performer! He seems to be a director, maybe this could be my big break?
9:39 AM: Heh, he says I have an incredible shirt. Funny, funny. (I was wearing my Incredibles shirt)

I like this new marquee over the old one. I love it because it falls into my slight obsession with Fantasia.

10:00 AM: Got into the first showing of the animation presentation, time to watch some hilarious Mushu antics. I kind of miss the old Robin Williams/Walter Cronkite movie, though. Peter Pan was always one of my favourite Disney films, so seeing Robin Williams being put into that world was really special for me.

Kevin!

10:12 AM: Oh mans, they have an exhibit showing off concept art and maquettes for Up!
10:30 AM: Damn it, the first Animation Academy is full. I don’t really feel like waiting around for the next one, maybe I’ll play around with the exhibits a bit here.
10:47 AM: The audio exhibit must be busted. My Christopher Walken rendition of Iago sounded like something out of the Exorcist. Must need more cowbell.
11:00 AM: I think I’m going to see the 11:30 Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and save seats for the Reisfelds. They said that they want to see it, and I would like someone to be there if I can be an extra.

Yours truly... in a turban. Do you have a problem with that?

11:03 AM: I hope that isn’t the line to get in! It’s huge! Looks like it’s going all the way back to Star Tours!
11:04 AM: I hate always being right, it is the line to get in.
11:07 AM: I have aisle seats in the second row on the far left side of the theatre. Now if only they will get here on time.
11:15 AM: They aren’t here yet and Mr. Bill isn’t picking up his phone. This isn’t good.

11:21 AM: I hope they get here soon. I feel bad telling people that the seats are taken when there aren’t seats anywhere else in the theatre.
11:30 AM: The show is starting, they aren’t here, and I feel like an ass.
11:32 AM: I got selected to be an extra! I just had to scream myself hoarse! Ow.
12:03 PM: Being an extra is so fun, but so hot. I got stuck in robes made of wool that don’t breathe and I was sweating like crazy! The turban was comfortable, though.

I used to be on the Red Team, but posing is so much more fun than fighting Blues.

12:16 PM: I was just recruited into the Green Army and got to do some Green Army Man poses (I did the minesweeper and commander guy with the walkie-talkie). It’s kind of a shame that this whole little streetmosphere performance was just an advertisement for the Block Party Bash parade.

12:18 PM: 45 minute wait for the Great Movie Ride? I don’t think so! Love the large audio-animatronic shows and all, but there are few attractions at any of the Disney parks that I will wait 45 minutes for. The only one I can think about off the top of my head is the Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye (and you thought Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was a long name) at Disneyland. It’s a damn shame that Disney will never install this attraction anywhere in Walt Disney World as it uses the exact same ride system (and track layout) as Countdown to Extinction, sorry Dinosaur at the Animal Kingdom.

Also, I would have loved to have a picture of the Chinese Theatre inserted into this post, but it’s practically impossible to get a picture of the Hollywood Studios version because of the freaking Sorcerer’s Hat! The thing is an eyesore and can be seen from most places around the park! It was put in for the 100 Years of Magic Celebration in 2001 and should have been torn down right afterwards (like the wand that used tomuck up the subtle beauty of Spaceship Earth that was added during the same celebration and was removed in 2007).

My sources tell me that Pixar Place looks very similar to the actual Pixar Studios, so if I go there and don't see toys hanging all over the buildings I will be very upset.

12:27 PM: Ugh, I have to leave the Walt Disney exhibit to go meet up with the Reisfeld’s. Maybe we’ll do something fun.
12:30 PM: Okay, we have 50 minutes to get across the park and into the most crowded show on property and it only has two showings today. It’s time to be a dick and push through some crowds!
12:42 PM: Waiting for Lights, Motors, Action! The crowds at EPCOT yesterday were fairly light, and I can’t say I wasn’t surprised, but everyone seems to be out in force today. Crowds everywhere, and it’s ridiculously hot. I’m not talking about normal Florida or summer hot, I’m talking 100 degrees hot with a metric shit-ton of humidity hot. I think the sun is trying to kill us.
1:02 PM: Still waiting…

1:55 PM: Lights, Motors, Action! is pretty cool, but having very serious discussions of how the stunts work after getting you’re adrenaline pumping is a bad idea. Especially when the viewer did not get a lot of sleep the night before(I nodded off a few times). It’s also a shame about what happened to the Back Lot Tour. It seems like every time the park gets something new, the attraction gets smaller and shorter. It used to be a huge, 3-hour long experience that was part walking and part riding and it just kept getting gutted. The riding section would actually start where the Animation Building is now and the warehouses in Pixar Place were actually used for production of movies and TV shows instead of attractions. The most recent chop was the destruction of Residential Street for the construction of the Lights, Motors, Action! show, now all that’s left of the tour is the Boneyard and Catastrophe Canyon.

2:00 PM: We split up, oh well.

2:08 PM: Over in Pixar Place (formerly Mickey Avenue) they just added in a 6 foot tall Luxo Jr. audio-animatronic and the cast member said that he comes out every 15 minutes. Here’s hoping.

(Just as a note, if you are going to watch the video below, turn down the volume on your computer. The microphone on my camera is very strong, so it is very loud. And yes, for once I’m posting a video that I actually filmed!)

I love the attraction...

...but not the wait. NOT A FAN!

2:18 PM: I was greatly surprised at how funny the little show was! The Imagineers need to continue with the living character initiative, this is definitely the future of walk around characters. They also need to bring back the other living characters (Lucky the Dinosaur, the Muppet Mobile Lab, Wall-E (who never actually made it to any of the parks, only in some very lucky science centres), and an accurate-to-canon-sized Remy) who only show up in the parks for a few months, then probably go into storage never to be seen again.
2:45 PM: I really want to see Block Party Bash, but it’s so damn hot (milk was a bad choice) and I don’t really know if I can stay in the direct sunlight for too long. Oh wait, I can stand next to the merchendise booth outside of the Chinese Theatre. Ahh… shade…
3:24 PM: That was a fun parade and it’s nice to see Heimlich in something. I would have liked the parade better if the Incredibles had their own float rather than coming out of the movie introduction floats near the end. I could only see Elastigirl well.
3:30 PM: Waiting to see the American Idol Experience. Kind of boring.
3:55 PM: The guy who does the pre-show was really funny today. Very high-energy and possibly insane, I think further study is needed. It’s interesting if you get to the theatre early enough to see them filming the crowd reactions to some of the contestants. They actually go out and tell the crowd to chant for one of the performers and rope a small child into telling the contestant that was chanted for that “you are my American Idol.” I’m ashamed to say that I got into the chanting in a very “one of us” hive mind sort of way.

The whimsy, it is in full force!

4:26 PM: I enjoy the daytime shows, but the finale show is what is really worth the time. The only part I don’t like is the Jordin Sparks commercial for the park that you are already in, it is completely stupid and pointless. The girl who won was astoundingly good, but I think it might have been partly because of her song choice. She was a big lady and she sang”Reflection” from Mulan, so it was rather fitting.
4:30 PM: Ooh, no wait for the Great Move Ride! Now it’s time to go on it!
4:58 PM: I got to see the bank robbery scene instead of the gangster scene. That was the only one I saw the last time I was at WDW, of course they were only running the second train at a time then.
5:39 PM: I just found the security booth with the key under the mat at MuppetVision 3D. I have been coming here since I was 2 1/2 and I have never found this and I feel bad about it. The cast member told me not to tell anyone about it, like it was some huge secret. I love it when they actually get into their roles. Just as a tip, when you go to see MuppeVision 3D be sure to see the entire pre-show video. It’s funnier than the actual show, not kidding.

Heimlich is the man, he chills out in a saxophone.

6:14 PM: I don’t really have any thing else to do, might as well go wait for the finale show.
6:16 PM: Do I really want to wait 45 minutes for the show? Time to check.
6:18 PM: Yes, yes I do. That’s a lot of people.
6:34 PM: Bored.
6:39 PM: Bored.
6:43 PM: Bored.
6:45 PM: Entertained.
7:37 PM: The lady who sang Reflections won! No commercial for the park I’m already in! The finale show is great!

8:02 PM: Considering how the crowds have been today, I might as well go to the Hollywood Hills Amphitheatre and get a seat for Fantasmic! I am not saving a seat for Mr. Bill and Daniel this time, besides, they probably went back to the hotel by now.

Best. Security. Ever.

8:10 PM: Jesus tap-dancing Christ, the theatre is already almost full! The cast members are already filling in the seats on the far side of the amphitheatre and there’s still 50 minutes before the show starts! What the hell?

8:13 PM: Oh the joys of coming alone. I got a seat two rows back from the front in the Mickey section (that’s the section in the middle of the theatre for the uninitiated). I’ve got my Cheez-its, I’ve got my iPod, and I’ve got my Imagineering Field Guide books to keep me busy. I just wish Disney would release the Field Guide to the Hollywood Studios, it was scheduled to come out in April, then it was pushed back to June, now it’s been pushed back to sometime next year! Get the lead out Disney!

8:39 PM: Bored.

8:43 PM: Bored.

8:47 PM: Bored.

8:55 PM: 5 minutes!

9:00 PM: I can see Illuminations going off from behind the stage for Fantasmic!, but no show in front of me. What the hell?

The name on this merchendise stand always makes me smile. HEY YOU GUYS!

9:03 PM: Spoke too soon.

9:29 PM: I love Fantasmic, it’s just so different from everything else and so uniquely Disney… it also doesn’t help that I love practically everything that has any reference to Fantasia.  The story is fun, the music is great and catchy (expecially the theme for the show), but what’s really interesting is the water screens. For anyone who hasn’t seen it (what the hell is wrong with you?), Disney has a system that allows water to be sprayed up in a fan shape and they project clips from some Disney animate films right onto the water. It doesn’t sound like much when being described through text, but the screens are quite impressive in person. Fantasmic is performed on both coasts, but I think the Disneyland version is better and here’s why:

  1. There is a Peter Pan scene instead of a Pocahontas scene
  2. Disney just upgraded the sound, lighting, pyrotechnics and cameras in for the water screens with HD cameras.
  3. By the end of the year, there will be a 45 foot tall, audio-animatronic Maleficent dragon instead of the stupid looking puppet one they have now with glittery black and purple streamers hanging off of it to hide the mechanisms inside. The Maleficent dragon has always been one of my major gripes with the show, it just looks so out of place from everything else and has never looked threatening… EVER!

Poor monkey, he doesn't have spring loaded wings to cut him loose.

This is not to say that the version at Walt Disney World is bad, they made the show longer when it opened at the Studios and added in some fountains with nice lighting effects and more villains.

9:35 PM: No wait for the Tower of Terror, sounds good to me.

9:55 PM: You know, I used to hate the fact that Disney replaced the lab bars with seatbelts. Now, not so much. Guests used to be able to hold onto the lap bar if they felt scared, now they have to hold onto each other. So, when there is a fairly attractive member of the opposite sex hanging onto your arm because he/she is scared, it is definitely considered to be a win/win scenario. Oh well, that is all internet. Good night.

Be looking forward to some sort of gaming related article on Monday or Tuesday. I’m getting my wisdom teeth removed today (being 7 August 2009), so there may be a delay on the post depending on how I feel this weekend.

EDIT (31/8/09): The new Maleficent dragon has finally made it’s appearance.

Maleficent dragon, you’re doing it right!