Why Imagination Is My Greatest Writing Tool + Upcoming Spooky Short Stories

People often have different tools when it comes to writing. Sometimes it’s their typing speed, or sometimes it’s their ability to spend pages upon pages describing something insignificant in excruciating detail. My biggest writing tool happens to by my imagination.

I love to imagine fun scenarios and write about them, though I sadly haven’t written many short stories this year. I want to change that, so throughout all of October I’ll be writing some amazing short stories for you all! I’m going to get back into the groove and let my imagination take control. Prepares yourself for some of the best short stories ever made!

Din’s Curse Review: Diablo With Murderous Townsfolk

It’s time to delve into the unending dungeon known as “obscure Indie games”. These are games that are made by independent developers and unfortunately get swept under the rug by bigger releases. Today’s subject is an underground cult classic, “Din’s Curse”. Din’s Curse is a “dungeon-crawling RPG”, one that was released in 2010 for PC and Mac.

Din’s Curse is certainly one of the more interesting dungeon-crawlers I’ve ever played. The plays very similar to the first Diablo game. You start in a small town and have to ascend a dungeon comprised of multiple floors, while fighting various monsters along the way. You gain new weapons, armor, and various items along the way.

It sounds pretty standard, right? Well, Din’s Curse throws in a pretty good twist: Randomly generated dungeons and towns. Each town is different from the last, with its own NPC villagers and town layout. On top of that, each dungeon is randomly generated based on a number of different tile-sets. What this means is that a lot of the dungeons you romp through will have different layouts than the ones you’ve done previously.

Because of the randomness, you’ll also have different quest objectives and monsters to fight. Some towns will feature different things in them, or feature completely different quests. For example, one town I went to suffered from the constant threat of starvation, while another was plagued by escaped prisoners roaming the dungeon.

There’s honestly a lot of randomness into the game, which I dig completely. For example, there was a really silly event in my game where one of my villagers MURDERED the local Armor-Smith for no reason. I was so confused as to why this happened! Was that armor-smith some kind of “mysterious shady individual”? Nah, this appeared to be some kind of random event that just happened.

I was never given an in-game explanation as to why a villager up and murdered my Armor-Smith. Said villager later died of starvation anyways, so it was no skin off my back! Honestly, I think that’s the best part of the game: That it’s also a town management game.

Doing quests benefits the town in various ways and you have to make sure there are no nefarious individuals causing crap in your neck of the woods. Traitors could enter the village, even set up traps. The amount of variables in each different town makes for a fun and unique play-through every time!

Couple that with the fact that you can tweak a ton of settings before creating your own village and you’ve got a game built on experimentation and fun. Unfortunately, not all is sunshine and rainbows with this game. For one thing, the random nature of the game also relates to how to win it. You see, you need to do a random number of “key quests” in order to successfully save a town.

The problem? The game doesn’t tell you what constitutes a “key quest” and how many you need to do to win. As such, you’re just doing random quests as quick as you can in an attempt to reach the goal. While this is fun, the lack of any clear goals makes it hard to know what to do next.

It doesn’t help that killing the final boss of a town’s dungeon doesn’t really change anything. You’d think beating the main bad would save the village, but you also have to sort out a million other trivial problems on top of that. Because of this, it feels like success is completely random and based on how many trivial tasks you can do before the game decides to hand you a win.

On top of this, sometimes a town can out-stay it’s welcome. While some towns can be beaten in 20 minutes, some can last as long as two hours. This means that a cool-looking town could easily outstay its welcome after a while. Regardless of its flaws, the game is a ton of fun! It doesn’t do anything too unique for the genre, but it offers up enough to stand on its own.

You’re not getting a wholly unique experience, or something revolutionary. Instead, you’re getting a well-crafted RPG with some unique game-play twists. Sure, the random nature of the game can cause headaches at times, but I still dig it. Then again, I dig anything that’s experimental!

 

Sans In Smash Bros?!

Sans!
Man, that is one nice hoodie…

Anybody ever play the game known as “Undertale”? I imagine everyone who’s currently reading this have at least heard of it. It’s a modern Indie “classic” about a young boy getting lost in a world filled with monsters and pun-tastic skeletons. This game became insanely popular in a surprisingly short amount of time. It became so popular that people were demanding the character of “Sans” be put into the major crossover fighting game known as “Smash Bros.”.

Sans is a hoodie-wearing skeleton and one of the most popular characters to come out of the game, so it’s only natural he represent it in this huge crossover! The game’s creator, Toby Fox, didn’t really want to have his Undertale characters playable in Smash. However, they did find a workaround for this.

Smash Bros. has the “Mii Fighters”, which you may remember me talking about in my recent post on Miitopia. What makes the Mii Fighters so interesting is that they can wear many different costumes, some of which you have to buy. Surprisingly enough, Sans was made as a costume for Mii Fighters!

That’s right, you can now essentially play as Sans in the game! He even comes with a remixed version of his theme song, “Megalovania”, which was featured in his reveal trailer. Honestly, I’m not a fan of Undertale in the slightest. I played Deltarune and dug it, but I never really had any desire to go out and play the game.

However, when I saw this costume, something just clicked in me. I knew I had to have it, just because of how adorable and well-designed it was. The additional song that it came with was also very much appreciated, since I’ve always been a fan of Megalovania. I’ve never really found myself getting excited about a character’s costume before, but I found this one to be super appealing.

It probably helps that it dropped at the same time as one of the biggest “Nintendo Directs” in recent memory. Honestly, I’m glad this costume DLC was released and I’m glad I bought it! I dig fun acknowledgements of Indie games in bigger titles and I’m glad Undertale got some representation! Here’s hoping we see more awesome costumes like this down the road.

Mystery Men: The Superhero Film That Will Never Truly Die

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love superhero films! I’ve always been a huge fan of superheroes and I dig it when I can sit down and enjoy something with masked vigilantes in it! Of course, we’ve gotten to a point where there are TOO MANY superhero films. At least 8-10 are pumped out on a yearly basis by many different studios. It’s gotten pretty ridiculous, but it wasn’t always this way.

In fact, superhero films were floundering quite a bit in the 90s. Audiences found the cheesy concepts of these superhero films to be a bit too much to handle and this resulted in a lot of said films floundering in the box-office. Today’s subject is no different, since it’s yet another victim of the general audience’s disinterest with superhero films in the 90s. So, let’s talk about “Mystery Men”, the best superhero film that nobody saw.

Let’s flashback to 1999, a time when cinema was in an awkward transition period. Big budget blockbusters had become a mainstay and everyone was lining up to see films like “The Sixth Sense”, “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me”, and “Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace”.

During the summer was when we got a truly interesting and underappreciated film, the aforementioned “Mystery Men”. Mystery Men told the story of a bunch of loser superheroes with lame powers, all of whom had very little skill in fighting crime. The original team consisted of Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), The Shoveler (William H. Macy), and The Blue Raja (played by Hank Azaria).

The film revolves around these three heroes forming a larger team filled with other lame superheroes, all so they can stop an evil villain named “Casanova Frankenstein”. I always dug “underdog stories”, especially when said underdogs are incompetent. The film shows these heroes stepping up and learning how to work better as a team, while also honing their bizarre super-powers.

Oh right, I forgot to mention their powers! This film features some of the most ridiculous super-powers of all time. For example, Blue Raja is literally just Bullseye from Marvel’s Daredevil comics, but he throws kitchen utensils instead of ninja stars. There’s also “Invisible Boy”, who can only turn invisible when nobody’s looking.

These powers and abilities definitely made these heroes stand out, while also painting them as rather goofy caricatures of classic superhero stereotypes. In fact, parodying superhero cliches is what this film does best! One notable scene in the film involved an argument about whether or not wearing glasses can disguise a superhero, which was a good knock against classic Superman stories.

I also dig how the film combines a futuristic sci-fi setting with a more mundane and modern (at least for 1999) setting. This world has high-tech gadgets and a city of the future, but people still listen to disco and Smash-Mouth. To be fair, who doesn’t listen to Smash-Mouth?

The film had a pretty basic story, but the silly and zany characters peppered throughout made up for it. While the effects and costumes may not have aged super well, it’s still a fun watch for any fan of superhero films. While I do enjoy this film, I was always annoyed that it flopped in theaters.

People just were not interested in another superhero film, especially one that reminded them of “Batman & Robin”. That being said, Mystery Men is still a fantastic film and is considered a cult classic by many people. Heck, the film even gets screenings at the “Alamo Drafthouse”!

I feel Mystery Men is a film worth watching. It’s some good light-hearted fun and is generally a good watch. Sure, it’s not on the same levels as Deadpool or Spiderman films, but it’s still great! If you’re looking for a fun Ben Stiller superhero comedy, then this is your film!

The Insane Ending To “Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated”

Scooby-Doo is a series that will never truly die. We’re talking about a show that has been going strong for over 50 years and will most likely not end any time soon. Heck, the same voice actor who played Fred Jones in the original series is STILL playing him to this very day! Scooby-Doo is just a show that’s easy to replicate and create new adaptations of, due to its simplistic formula.

The show revolves around four teens and their talking dog, who happens to be the titular “Scooby-Doo”. The four teenagers are Shaggy, Velma, Daphne, and Fred, all of whom have their own unique personalities and quirks. The five have to work together in order to solve “mysteries” on a weekly basis, which includes looking for clues and analyzing the finer details of the many situations they get into.

The original Scooby-Doo had a pretty basic and simplistic formula: Kids go somewhere, find a monster, dig for clues, and then unmask the monster at the end. It remained like this up until “The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo”. This was the first Scooby-Doo show to focus entirely on “real” ghosts, even if some of the previous shows did pull the supernatural into them on occasion.

13 Ghosts was also the first entry in the franchise to feature a series-wide story arc. After the show ended, the series wouldn’t be referenced again for nearly 30 years. During that time, Scooby-Doo continued forward with a ton of weird and interesting iterations and spin-offs. Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island would revitalize the series in the mid-90s, leading the show to become popular once more.

Why do I bring all this up? Well, I bring up these many iterations for one simple reason: They aren’t connected at all. Despite being part of the franchise, each iteration of Scooby-Doo remains relatively separate and in its own universe. ThisĀ all changed with “Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated”, which created a rather interesting reason as to why the Scooby-Doo continuity seemingly resets with each new show.

Keep in mind that I will be discussing HEAVY SPOILERS for Mystery Incorporated. If you’ve never seen it, then do yourself a favor and binge it when you get the chance. Honestly, it’s one of the best animated shows ever made and it’s got something for everyone. Anyway, Mystery Incorporated was a show revolving around the Mystery Gang doing their usual mystery solving shtick.

It started out like any other iteration of the series, but became gradually more darker and complex as the series went on. This culminated in a battle against an otherworldly horror, who was promptly destroyed by the gang working together. The destruction of this horrible creature lead to the entire universe resetting! With the Scooby-Doo universe rebooted, the gang finds themselves in a much better world, one that is devoid of horrific monsters and entities.

However, what happens next completely changed how many fans viewed the series. The gang receive a message from “Mr. E”, a mysterious individual who claims to be aware of every time reality resets. Yes, this has happened many times before! The scene is also punctuated with an out-of-place laugh track, similar to the original show.

In some ways, it felt almost like a prequel to the original series. Surprisingly enough, that’s exactly what the creators were going for! Mystery Incorporated’s ending was billed as a prequel to not only the original, but almost all subsequent entries as well! The main implication is that the various incarnations spun-off from the Mystery Incorporated timeline during its many resets.

Of course, there are some plot holes with this ending, like how elements and characters from earlier shows appear before the universal reset. Regardless, this was an interesting twist on the classic Scooby-Doo formula. It was nice seeing them change up the lore of a popular franchise into something truly unique.

It was honestly a cool concept for an ending to arguably the best entry in the franchise. While it doesn’t make a lot of sense as a prequel to everything in the Scooby-Doo series, it does offer quite a bit of food for thought. Honestly, I’m still surprised a Scooby-Doo show went for an ending like this. This ending feels more like something out of the Devilman series, rather than that of a franchise aimed at kids. It just goes to show that a good series with a good ending can trump any preconceived notions.

Mazes & Monsters: Tom Hanks’ Forgotten First Movie

Acting is an art, at least from what I can tell. Slipping into the shoes of another person through acting alone is definitely a daunting task. However, it can be rewarding if you land the right roles. Famous actors get mountains of cash, the admiration of their colleagues, and the adoration of their fans. Of course, it’s a long and winding road to stardom.

You gotta start at the bottom to get to the top and the actor known as “Tom Hanks” is no exception. People will remember Tom Hanks for his roles in the Toy Story films, Forrest Gump, Castaway, and many others. Tom Hanks has done 91 films at this point, but he has 1 film that nobody really talks about anymore.

This was his first starring role in anything and it was in an obscure film meant to bash a board-game. Let’s talk about “Mazes & Monsters”. Mazes & Monsters was made in a strange time period when parents thought Dungeons & Dragons was “satanic” and “evil”. Naturally, this TV film was made as a propaganda piece, just so the creators could bank off the D&D hate train.

Oddly enough, Mazes & Monsters is less about demonizing the game itself and more about demonizing people who get addicted to the game and lose themselves in it. This is where Tom Hanks comes in to play. In the film, Tom Hanks’ character is introduced as this awkward social outcast who gets accepted into a group of fellow teens, all of whom play the titular “Mazes & Monsters”.

After a LARP (Live-Action Roleplay) session goes awry, Tom Hanks’ character goes insane and starts believing that he’s his character from the game. The film then follows his character, Robbie (and his alter-ego, Pardieu) as he slowly descends into madness. Believe it or not, Mazes & Monsters was Tom Hanks’ first leading film role.

In fact, this actually became the selling point for the film over time. Heck, the DVD release even had a picture of Tom Hanks front and center! I’m honestly surprised that this film keeps getting re-released, considering how obscure it is.. Aside from Tom Hanks being in it and the Dungeons & Dragons theme, there’s not much of an appeal here.

The film itself is very bland and there’s a ton of scenes that don’t really factor into the plot that much. The film’s overall low budget and lack of likable characters is what keeps it from being a good movie. Regardless, it’s still entertaining. The dialogue is deliciously hammy and the concept of someone losing themselves to a game completely is interesting.

I also like that the film makes it clear that Robbie’s insanity is due to his own mental issues and over-obsession with his favorite game, rather than him being “turned evil” by the board-game. The film is trying to demonize D&D, but it ends up painting a story about letting one’s obsessions grow out of control and the ramifications that comes with that instead.

With that being said, would I recommend this film? Well, only if you’re morbidly curious and have some friends to watch it with. It’s a silly film to poke fun at, but it’s not an interesting watch for a solo viewer. Tom Hanks doesn’t do a good job of carrying this film, due to him being rather new to acting at the time. There’s tons of bad designs choices and the film overall is a pretty forgettable production. Still, I feel like there’s a bit of “bile fascination” when it comes to this movie. It’s terrible, but in an enjoyable way.

Amazing Spider-Man 2012 Review

Well, it’s time to talk another divisive film in the Spider-Man series. If you thought fan’s perceptions were split on Spider-Man 3, then you haven’t seen anything yet! I’ll get this out of the way first: I don’t hate this movie. Amazing Spider-Man actually has some great things in it, but it’s watered down by its bad writing and bland plot.

The film is a reboot of the Sam Raimi trilogy’s continuity, giving us an all new Spider-Man and storyline in the process. The story revolves around a “hipper” and “cooler” version of Peter Parker, one who’s dealing with high-school and girl problems. Peter gets bitten by a radioactive spider (again), loses his uncle (again), learns a lesson in responsibility (again), and becomes Spider-Man to stop an evil green guy (again). In essence, the film feels like a retread of the first film from 10 year prior.

Oddly enough though, the film is a retread that’s afraid to be a retread. I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but hear me out: This film does a lot of similar stuff to the first Spider-Man movie, but makes unnecessary changes in an attempt to be “unique”. One of the oddest changes was that Uncle Ben gets shot outside of a grocery store, as opposed to being shot outside of a wrestling arena like in the original.

Peter then goes on a crazy revenge mission to track down the killer, falls into A WRESTLING ARENA for some reason, and then decides that he needs a mask. So, they had a wrestling arena to film in, yet they only use it for this random unrelated scene? Maybe they planned to film a wrestling scene similar to the first movie, but it got cut out in an attempt to make the origin “different”.

I’m all for making something different, but that’s hard to do when you’re already retreading something that came out a decade ago. The film is too focused on telling a story we already know, while also trying to make it somewhat different in a very awkward manner. There’s also the matter of the film’s special effects and suit designs, which aren’t very good at all.

For some reason, they give Spider-Man this weird rubbery suit. He honestly looks more like a rejected X-Men movie villain than he does a superhero. It’s certainly not as good as the suits from the previous film, even if some of those looked awkward as well. Speaking of designs, what the heck did they do to Curt Connor’s Lizard form?!

In the comics, The Lizard was a mutated reptile-man with a large snout and ripped clothing. In this movie, he’s just a giant naked lizard man without a snout. Heck, his face isn’t really that reptilian at all! I get wanting to update the design as to not alienate audiences, but it still feels like a far cry from how the character looked in past incarnations.

I’ve harped on the film enough, but what about the good stuff? Well, Amazing Spider-Man does do some stuff that I genuinely enjoy. The fights against The Lizard are fairly entertaining and energetic, especially the one inside the school. Seeing Spidey crawl over the Lizard and wrap him in webbing like an actual spider would do is both hilarious and creepy.

On top of this, the film’s finale is pretty intense and entertaining. While the finale does have its fair share of dumb moments, it does a good job of elevating the stakes. In short, Amazing Spider-Man is a film that doesn’t really live up to its title. It isn’t an “amazing” film at all, but rather a mediocre one.

It’s certainly not the worst Spider-Man film and it does have redeeming merits, but they’re buried under a pile of poor writing choices that hampers the viewing experience. Amazing Spider-Man was definitely a misstep, but it wasn’t one that ruined the franchise. That honor would go to this film’s sequel…