Japan Adds Breasts, Wins At Charity Forever

If you happened to be in Tokyo this past weekend – and please let us know why if you were because I love weird little happenstances like that – chances are you missed the charity event of the century while you were buzzing all the normal tourist spots.

The aptly-named fundraiser Erotica Will Save The World offered several intriguing attractions during its two-day span, though I doubt any of them turned heads quite like the “Breast Event”. To break the matter down succinctly: flash some ID, donate a little yen to the cause (AIDS awareness, and not for breast cancer as one might expect), wash your hands, and get your grope on.

Apparently you were allowed to rinse-repeat the process if the two-squeeze maximum wasn’t enough for you. Assuming that the minimum donation wasn’t too crazy, and knowing that there were ten actresses available, it’s safe to say that a lot of wallets were emptied that day.

I’m not sure what this adds or subtracts from the whole “Japan and the objectification of women” discussion. Maybe we can give this one a pass if there’s charity involved?

Well, whatever. You can keep your quaint bikini car washes, America! Japan is now the champion of sexy fundraising. Your move, rest of the world.

Source: RocketNews24

Go Home And Be A Family Man With Skyrim’s Hearthfire DLC

“CF writer who refers to himself as Delsaber, are you posting this just so you could make an old Street Fighter joke?” Why yes, dear reader, I am. But if you insist on me making this a little more substantive than just “here’s a meme, haha!” then I suppose I can give it a shot.

Fun Fact #1: I wish you could just stake a claim to any random spot on the map and homestead on it, rather than buying deeds to what I assume are predetermined plots.

Fun Fact #2: Aside from occasional vendor dumps, this will probably eliminate the need for a “home city” for most players.

Fun Fact #3: You can move your spouse into the home you just built and adopt children, but you can’t make children yourself? Aww…

Fun Fact #4: If there is no upper limit for these adoptions, then those invading giants can expect to be met by waves upon waves of orphan minions, Zap Brannigan style.

Hearthfire will be available September 4th on Xbox Live; presumably about a month later on PC. PS3 users… well, maybe light a candle, start a few incantations, and hope for the best.

Source: Giant Bomb / Image: YouTube

Remembering WipEout: The Psygnosis/Studio Liverpool Memorial Playlist

Earlier today the news came down about Sony’s closure of Studio Liverpool, formerly Psygnosis, and the potential end of the storied WipEout franchise. I already spoke my piece on the subject, but obviously I’m not quite done with this yet. These things happen when significant personal influences vanish unexpectedly.

As I touched on in that previous article, one of WipEout‘s defining characteristics was its pioneering use of “real world” electronic music. Long before dubstep wub-wubbed its way into everything from SSX to trailers for Sega & Sonic All-Stars Goddamned Racing, WipEout was one of the first video game franchises to sign major recording artists, a big accomplishment in an age when game soundtracks were often mocked for their “beeps and bloops”.

So with the preamble out of the way, here’s my favourite track from each of the WipEout games, 1995 – 2012. With a possible extra at the end…

WipEout (1995): CoLD SToRAGE – Cold Comfort

WipEout 2097/XL (1996): Fluke – Atom Bomb

Wip3out (1999): Sasha – Xpander

WipEout Fusion (2002): Cut La Roc – Bassheads

WipEout Pure (2005): Photek – C Note

WipEout Pulse (2007): Noisia – Seven Stitches

WipEout HD/Fury (2008): The Crystal Method – Acetone

WipEout 2048 (2012): The Future Sound of London – We Have Explosive (2011 Rebuild)

Finally, here’s a quick pick from Colony Wars: Vengeance, stuck in my head for over a decade now. If I remember correctly, it was composed by Tim Wright, AKA CoLD SToRAGE, in a dramatic departure from his WipEout style.

Sony Shutters WipEout-Dev Studio Liverpool

Normally when I find myself sulking endlessly in another stupid, depressed fugue state, my lousy state of mind can be traced back to one or more of the following causes:

1) A woman, and/or the lack thereof;

2) I thought I had a beer left in the fridge but I drank it the day before and forgot;

3) I woke up earlier than usual and am stuck in the “long, dark teatime of the soul”

So imagine my surprise – the horrible, crushing surprise – when I woke up this morning to discover that Sony has closed Studio Liverpool.

Quoth VG24/7:

WipEout developer Studio Liverpool has been closed and all of its projects cancelled, Sony has confirmed. Sony has also issued a statement explaining the outfit’s closure, and has cancelled all of the studio’s projects including – according to fresh rumours – a next-gen WipEout game for PS4.

“Liverpool Studio has been an important part of SCE Worldwide Studios since the outset of PlayStation, and have contributed greatly to PlayStation over the years. Everyone connected with Liverpool Studio, past and present, can be very proud of their achievements.”

Liverpool, formerly known as Psygnosis during the halcyon days of the original Playstation, has always been my favourite of Sony’s internal developers. Regardless of whether or not The Designer’s Republic and other hangers-on were involved, Psygnosis/Liverpool had style, perhaps even swagger, innovated in every area, put forward a rare aesthetic sense across the board, and were typically the only first-party team under the Sony aegis whose projects didn’t bore me to tears on a regular basis.

The biggest part of that was WipEout, which remains one of my biggest influences in the video game space. I never cared about racing games until WipEout and to this day it remains the only futuristic racer of any relevance whatsoever. Its heavy use of licensed electronic music was more than just a unique feature, it was a formative experience for me; playing those first few games with the likes of The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy pounding out from underneath completely changed the trajectory of my musical interests, the effects of which are still strongly felt today.

Beyond the WipEout franchise, Psygnosis/Liverpool also had several other important hits: Destruction Derby, G-Police, and Colony Wars come to mind immediately. Colony Wars in particular was a huge high watermark for its time, hamstrung only by the ultimate fate of the space combat genre at large, which not even Freespace 2 and a bunch of quality Star Wars-licensed games could save. Even now, it remains very high on my list of missed franchises that I’d love to see refreshed the most.

So now I’m left wondering what’s next. The official Sony company line on the matter is full of rote PRspeak and no real answers to my most pressing questions, namely “what happens to WipEout now?” It’s still one of the strongest Playstation brands out there with nearly twenty years of history. It’s the king of its genre that not even Nintendo’s F-Zero could dethrone. At a time when Sony desperately needs all the marquee franchises it can muster, I can’t image that they’ll just sit on WipEout as they have so many other forgotten IPs of yesteryear.

If I’m wrong and Sony does toss WipEout into the vault alongside far less iconic properties like Medieval, then congratulations guys: you really didn’t know what you had. You have become Sega #2. Take a bow!

Source: CF Forums (gee, thanks ard, way to go, YES I AM SHOOTING THE MESSENGER). Image credit: Electric Blue Skies

Fantasy Casting The “All-Female Expendables”

In case you missed it: The Expendables (and its sequel, out now-ish) is an all-star collection of past and present action movie superstars brought together to revive, or at least pay homage to, the old-school ass-kicking brains-optional fun-as-hell action romps of the 80s and 90s. Everyone from Sylvester Stallone to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was in it. Sometimes, I’m still surprised that it took until 2010 for such a beast to be produced.

Speculation about a women’s-only version of The Expendables has been pretty common ever since, and now it looks like that’s exactly what’s happening.

Quoth Hollywood.com:

An all-female version of the hit franchise The Expendables — the action star-packed testosterone-fest starring, well, just about everybody — will officially be backed by The Grey producer Adi Shankar. Variety has confirmed that Shankar’s banner, 1984 Private Defense Contractors, has tapped Dutch Southern to write the script, and that the company is already in talks with several bankable actresses.

They’ve got their own list of picks over there, with several entries that just can’t be argued. There’s no reason that we can’t roll our own, of course!

For the sake of brevity, I’ll skim over the undisputed choices: Pam Grier, Sigourney Weaver, Linda Hamilton, Milla Jovovich, Lucy Lawless, Michelle Yeoh, and Angelina Jolie. When one ponders lead actresses in action movies of yore, most of these names should come to mind by reflex, so I would be really shocked if more than a couple are missing. I would only add that after her turn on Battlestar Galactica, I’m hoping for Lucy Lawless to keep the blonde hair.

And now, our list proper.

uma thurman the bride

Uma Thurman

Her Resumé: Just about anything with both her name and Quentin Tarantino’s attached.

Does it surprise anyone else that Uma’s name hasn’t been a more common fixation on these lists? You’d think that two Kill Bill movies (and a possible third?) would be enough. Well, whatever. She doesn’t necessarily need to bring the sword and jumpsuit combination back, but damn, wouldn’t that be cool?

Her Role: The leader’s right hand, assuming she isn’t headlining this thing herself. Honestly, just give her something to do and we’ll all be happy.

michelle rodriguez

Michelle Rodriguez

Her Resumé: It would be easier just to take a glance at her IMDB profile.

Since the era of Vin Diesel and cheesy nu-metal soundtracks has mostly come to a close, Rodriguez might not be as busy as the others on this list. For better or for worse, she pretty much built a career out of typecasting herself into tough-chick roles, which makes her addition here a total no-brainer. Think of it this way: if the male Expendables were to add a female member for whatever reason, she would probably be the first choice.

An all-female Expendables without Michelle Rodriguez would be like the original without Stallone or the sequel without Schwarzenegger. This is kind of what she does.

Her Role: Heavy weapons, and/or the lead baddie’s dragon.

kate beckinsale underworld

Kate Beckinsale

Her Resumé: More Underworld movies than anyone really needed.

Is it enough to just say “leather pants” and move on? No? Alright. If all those Underworld flicks proved anything it’s that Beckinsale can easily carry an action franchise even if there isn’t really much else going for it, and the slicker the production, the better she comes off in it. And there’s no doubting that an all-female Expendables will be slick.

Her Role: Probably the run ‘n’ gunner of the bunch, especially if Milla Jovovich is absent.

sarah michelle gellar buffy

Sarah Michelle Gellar

Her Resumé: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, obviously.

While she hasn’t had the strongest action career since Buffy ended in 2003, no amount of Grudges and random TV roles can take her original pedigree away from her. She will always be the Slayer, and that should be a good enough reason for inclusion on anyone’s list.

In the event that Gellar is busy or uninterested, Eliza Dushku becomes the obvious fallback option. Five-by-five and all that.

Her Role: If somehow both Milla Jovovich and Michelle Yeoh are missing, then Gellar likely takes the martial arts card. It’s hard to imagine her relying on a gun after seven years of Buffy.

summer glau terminator

Summer Glau

Her Resumé: Firefly and Serenity, but mainly Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

The chances of coming up on the wrong side of a Summer Glau character and surviving the night are pretty dire, perhaps more so than with anyone else here. As River Tam, she injured, maimed, and killed with swords, axes, fists, dance moves, bottles, crotch-grabs, by “doing the math”, and once threatened Jayne Cobb with her brain. As Cameron, she could do all that plus squish windpipes like grapes with her bare hands.

Her Role: A good choice for any position and one of the few who could pull off the Big Bad role. Wherever she ends up, I’m quietly hoping that she’ll be the one manning Terry Crews’ impossible shotgun thing.

keira knightley domino

Keira Knightley

Her Resumé: Domino.

Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino. Domino.

Her Role: Domino.

noomi rapace dragon tattoo

Noomi Rapace

Her Resumé: The original Dragon Tattoo trilogy; Prometheus.

Okay, I’ll admit that this is an oddball pick and probably one hell of a longshot. However, if my recent sojourn through the Swedish Dragon Tattoo films taught me anything (aside from that whole “powerful men are all total dicks” thing) it’s that no one – no one – can pull off that strong, silent, piercing “I’m thinking of all the ways I’m going to kill you” stare quite like Noomi Rapace. And that translates very easily to a kickass action role, and thus a spot on this list, wildcard or not.

Her Role: Indirect fire. She’ll be the one running around planting C4 and generally just doing an awesome job of being underestimated. If a weapon does fall into her hands, chances are she’ll be the one sauntering across the battlefield headshotting everyone without even blinking. For that reason, her character is probably also the most likely casualty.

Source: CF Forums (thanks, ard!) Image sources: We Are Movie Geeks, She Knows, Horror Movies.ca, Anti-Girlfriend, Infinite Futures, Babe Scarlett’s Blog, Screen Crave.

Fashion Hazard, Gender Roles, And Why Pandering Doesn’t Sell

The somewhat tangential preamble to this little post: there is an arcade game about fashion runway models now.

Quoth Yahoo!:

“Fashion Hazard” is an arcade-style video game for the iPad and iPhone that lets gamers choose a fashion model avatar and then guide her down an action-packed runway, dodging obstacles like red paint, flying lattes, and other antagonistic models.

It’s being introduced as a sort of antidote to the typical video games for girls that are all about running a cupcake store or dressing up dolls. “Fashion Hazard” is clearly trying to make the statement that girls like action, too, and arcade-style games are not just for boys.

Well then! Back to the drawing board for that antidote, I suppose. They didn’t just miss the mark here; their shot somehow landed several kilometres in the opposite direction.

To continue Yahoo’s train of thought: video games, like any other artistic medium, don’t need to pander to specific demographics in order to be successful and relevant. A good game is a good game and can theoretically be enjoyed by all, while bad games can (and should) be derided by all. There’s no need to create divisions where none really existed before.

The only real limiter at play is whether or not a person is still labouring under certain age-old misconceptions, the most prevalent being “games are for kids” and “games are for men”. In those cases, those folks probably aren’t going to be sold anyway, so the effort is ultimately self-defeating.

With Fashion Hazard‘s confused mission statement as an example, if “girls like action too” then presumably these girls already play and enjoy action games that don’t have any pre-established gender stereotyping. Therefore, any further pigeonholing only comes off as unnecessary and entirely counter-productive. “For these people, rather than those other people” is an immediate turn-off, even an insult at times, to those who were already enjoying their hobby to begin with.

Tell me: what was it about Temple Run that made someone say, “well, this is great and all, but the ladies won’t play it unless lattes are involved?” Is there something in particular about Space Invaders or Pac Man that prevents girls from having fun with them as much as guys do? Would Sonic the Hedgehog have sold more copies to women if Sonic were pink instead of blue?

The problem goes beyond conceptual fallacies and continues into the marketing realm, of course. Commercialized language along the lines of “it’s a game for girls!” or “THIS X AIN’T YER FATHER’S Y” always strikes me as pointless and exclusionary. Creators should really be focussed on creating the best product they can, while the marketers should just back off as much as possible while still justifying their existence. Preferably, the creators and the marketers shouldn’t be the same people. Let the end result speak for itself, let people know about it, and good things will usually happen.

Unfortunately, if the world really worked like that, all those poor PR folks would either be out of a job or shipped-off on that space ark Douglas Adams was talking about, the one with all the hairdressers and telephone sanitizers. Then we’d all be in a lot of trouble.

Source: CF Forums (thanks, DHerder!) Image source: Fashion Tribes