Tuesday, July 24, 2012

best of 2012, miscellaneous edition: part 1

Well, 2012 is more than half over...

(pause to wonder how in the freakin' hell THAT happened)

...and I've already got a ton of goodies in my helpful Word document titled "2012radshit", so let me tell you about the first few items in the miscellaneous category. There will be a part 2, probably in November, but I hope this list provides you with at least one or two things to keep you busy until then.

A few notes before I begin:

  • Not all of these things made their debut in 2012, but that's when I first watched/played/enjoyed them.
  • These aren't in order of preference, but more of a loose chronological order.
  • Photobucket is acting up, so some of the pictures are huge even though I resized them. No idea what's going on with that.
  • Your mileage may vary.

Madoka Kaname is a normal schoolgirl who is visited by a strange creature named Kyubey. He offers her the chance to have one wish fulfilled, but in return, she must become a magical girl and fight "witches", who are more like monsters than the witches we tend to think of. These witches are responsible for spreading grief seeds throughout the world, which lead to murders and suicides. Madoka hesitates to take Kyubey up on his Faustian bargain, but as she watches her friends become magical girls, she wonders how much longer she can resist.

Hey, see that art up there? Isn't it cute? Well, make no mistake: this series gets fucking DARK. I know it sounds funny to say that Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a realistic take on the magical girl genre, but it kind of is. I can't really say more without spoiling some major shit, so you'll have to take my word on it.

With an intriguing storyline and absolutely gorgeous animation (including some of the most beautifully bizarre art design I've ever seen; imagine if Salvador Dali and Hieronymous Bosch teamed up on an anime series), PMMM is well worth your time if you're an anime fan, and maybe even if you're not. (Available on Hulu)

This BBC documentary series shows how humans have adapted to even the most trying conditions on Earth, covering everything from African tribesmen boldly stealing a lion's kill right in front of its face to Indonesian people building treehouses 115 feet above the ground. It's produced by the same people behind Planet Earth, so you know right off the bat that the cinematography is top notch. A really fascinating look at our world. (Advisory: some disturbing content involving animal slaughter.)

Six months after TV personality/wildlife expert Emmet Cole disappears in the Amazon jungle, his wife receives notification that his emergency beacon has been set off. The producer of his TV show agrees to fund the rescue mission, but only if Emmet's wife allows him to film a documentary about the trip. But he gets more than he bargained for when supernatural forces seem to be impeding their journey.

This show was created by Oren Peli, the same dude behind Paranormal Activity, and like that movie, it's done in found footage style. It's got more than its fair share of goofy plot points, but it also has some great twists and turns and a couple of genuinely scary moments. Turn your brain off and enjoy, but watch out for this guy:

...hold me.

This puzzle game is crack and should probably be outlawed. Even as I type this, my fingers ache to play the Diamond Mine level again. Goddamn you, PopCap, you brilliant video game druglords. GodDAMN you!

In this prequel, Professor Layton receives a letter from his old friend Clark, the mayor of Misthallery, asking for help. When Layton and his intrepid assistant Emmy travel to Misthallery, they discover that it's being visited almost every night by a mysterious destructive creature. With the help of Clark's son Luke, a fellow puzzle fiend, Professor Layton must solve the mystery before Misthallery is destroyed for good.

This is the fourth game in the series, and to be honest, it's my least favorite because the story doesn't really stand up. But it's still got the same charming characters, unique Triplets of Belleville styled animation, and tons of puzzles that will either make you feel very smart or very stupid. But remember, a true gentleman never quits!

In this adaptation of a Danish TV series, the body of Seattle teenager Rosie Larsen is found in the trunk of a mayoral campaign car. As they dig deeper into the case, homicide detective Sarah Linden and her partner Stephen Holder discover secrets that should have stayed buried. But Linden is far too emotionally involved to give up, even if it costs her everything.

I absolutely mainlined the first season of this show because I was intrigued by the mystery and thought Linden and Holder were awesome characters. (I have a particular soft spot for Holder thanks to wisecracks such as this one, when he's being roughed up by a casino security guard: "Hey, we haven't decided on a safe word yet!") And although the second season suffered in comparison, I think it was a worthy watch. (Available on Netflix instant)

Okay, remember when I said Bejeweled 3 was like crack? Game of Thrones is like crack, heroin, meth, and "bath salts" all rolled up into one. It's pretty much impossible to discuss here without writing a novella and/or spoiling shit, so I'll keep it brief.

In the medieval kingdom of Westeros, several noble families fight to control the Iron Throne.

...yeah, that's all I'm telling you because holy damn do you need to watch this for yourself. Tons of sex, epic battle scenes, BAMF Peter Dinklage, pretty emo virgin Jon Snow, dragons, creepy black shadow babies, awesome costumes...TV just doesn't get any better than this. HBO, I need season 3 immediately please and thanks.

In the latest installment of my favorite video game series of all evertime, you play convict Murphy Pendleton, who looks like he could be the hard-living older brother of Henry Townshend, SH4's sexy emo protagonist. Murphy's being transferred to a maximum security facility, but on the way there, the prison bus gets in an accident. When Murphy comes to, he manages to escape the wreckage and flee.

Lucky break, right? Well, not so much, because---you guessed it---Murphy's arrived in Silent Hill, a place which makes prison look like Happy Kitten Orgasmoland. He must atone for his sins and find a way out before the town's twisted inhabitants kill him. But they multiply and get stronger in bad weather, and it's rainy season in Silent Hill.

This game certainly isn't perfect, in no small part thanks to major framerate issues, poorly planned autosaves, and some tedious backtracking. But it has some gloriously creepy sidequests, tons of fanservice for even the most dedicated Silent Hill fanatic, and a gripping story. I shall remain an SH loyalist to the very end.