Empire of the Imagination by Michael Witwer (Book Review)

Gary Gygax played a huge role in gaming history and his contribution is still felt to this day across many tables and platforms. Find out more about this rarely spoken of legend and read what we think of the book.

Written by: Michael K Grymm

“I would like the world to remember me as the guy who really enjoyed playing games and sharing his knowledge and his fun pastimes with everybody else”.

Gary Gyax,

Author, Game Designer & Legend

Unlike many of the contributors and bloggers online today who write at length on the subject of tabletop RPGs from a long history of gaming I came late to the party so to speak (forgive the pun). Though I was first introduced to Dungeons & Dragons through the cartoon that was airing on KTV2 in the early 90’s, which introduced me to basic lore and class concepts of the game despite it being severely watered down I got the idea of what fantasy as genre was.

Being a young boy in that era, growing up with tapes of Conan the Barbarian, The Hobbit animated film and the Heroic Legend of Arslan my mind already had awesome imagery populating the depths of my imagination. Heroic swordsmen dueling for the honor of their people and mages casting powerful magic against unholy demons were but a few of the cool scenarios I already had in my head running to a metal soundtrack.

            The cartoon was campy even for me as a child but I loved the idea of a group of friends coming together to defeat evil, if only around a table in a ‘let’s play pretend’ fashion. Being born and raised in Kuwait until I was 13 getting your hands on the game was next to impossible as most content in the country is still censored and certain board games, books and movies were not available. This would not be the case for videos games and movies as much because piracy was a big thing in the Middle East but nobody was pirating D&D to my knowledge.

The first copy I ever saw of the Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide were when a new American family moved into the building and one of their kids played 3.5 with their friends back home. Sadly we never got around to playing but I remember being fascinated by the class options while also being intimidated by all the charts and numbers. It was not until my mid teens where I would get a firmer grasp on what RPG systems would become thanks to computer and video games having the global impact they did in the mid 90s to mid 00’s. I can still remember playing Blizzard’ Diablo on the Sony Playstation and later Diablo II on PC before getting hooked on Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 1 & 2 for the PS 2. The Dungeons & Dragons novels and the Dragonlance books would allow me to quest further into imaginary realms with heroes and villains doing epic magical battle and added more material for our talks in the playground. These ingredients would be the fabric of day dreams and short stories my brother and I would write in our primary school education, some would even win my brother his first writing awards. Fantasy will continue to be a big part of our pastime and content we enjoy even now as adults and Gary Gygax played a part in it much like he did for millions of others.

            All these great memories and feelings of nostalgia can in a large part be contributed to work of 2 men, Gary Gygax and David Arneson. Two avid, imaginative and almost obsessed creative giants whose talents we lost far too soon. This article will focus more on Gygax, the man who would co-found Tactical Simulation Rules in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin with a few friends and change the nature and shape of gaming and entertainment forever by publishing the still popular and relevant Dungeons & Dragons tabletop rpg system.

            I first heard about this book the first year it was published but only got it to read it the following year. Myself being a huge fan of history in general I find that I too love learning about the history of authors and the games that made my childhood so interesting and colorful. This autobiography chronicling the life of a man who I feel generations owe a lot to first emerged as the thesis for author’s Master Thesis at the University of Chicago.

            The author, Michael Witwer has been in writing professionally for most of his post graduate life but also is an accomplished stage performer with a history in community service and healthcare. Michael also has a blog and has appeared on several blogs and videocasts where he not only talks about the process of writing Empire of Imagination but also the stories surrounding that time and what could not make the book. I suggest checking out his appearance on Matt Chat to find out more about our author and get some other tasty pieces of information.

            I pushed play on this audio book knowing more than the average nerd about the origins of D&D and it’s creators. Having read whatever I could find online as well as the documentary ‘Secrets of Blackmoor: The True History of Dungeons & Dragons’, the review, which will be published on Nerd Dimension next week. Familiar with Gary’s troubled past at TSR (Tactical Studies Rules) and the legal feud between himself and Dave Arneson was also something that I hoped would be cleared up through the passages of Empire of Imagination. The author did his homework and attempted his best to deliver a man’s life story with great care to his legacy while also staying the course on keeping it balanced and true to events that surrounded this overlooked legend. This was no easy task when you consider that the author had a subject that had already passed by the time he started his research and had to find contacts and sources who could still testify to the events and Gary’s character. Some of the key actors in the drama would obviously avoid making comment, namely the conniving Blume brothers who this writer feels personally and directly contributed to many of the financial headaches of TSR prior to Lorraine Williams’ arrival at the company.

            Empire of the Imagination is a collection of authentic accounts in which the reader is taken through the life and times of a simple man, not a hero fighting in a war against a maniacal tyrant nor a political leader who captivated the hearts and minds of millions. Gary Gygax for the most part was a storyteller and gamer in a time where neither would get you far in life. The man spent half of his life working a 9 – 5 struggling to get by to feed his family of 4, which would continue to grow but it is this very struggle and his optimistic attitude that endears him to the reader. Witwer would write about the highs and the lows and the moments that molded Gary in his youth to his actions and digressions in adulthood. This expose of sorts brought home to me the nature of this man and how he truly cared about gamers and the game when RPGs, videogames and publishers looked at the genre as a whole as a fad and a niche that would eventually fizzle out. He started conventions and collaborated with people via snail mail and long distance phone calls just to enhance the experience for not just his players but also all players.

            Hearing about how Gary and his war gamer buddies went from reenacting historic military battles to designing an entirely new way to play and create a format of entertainment is inspirational and warms your heart to those independent creators out there today doing the same thing. You can identify with the working class man still devoted to his passion and seeing it come to fruition left me with a good feeling.

            This book is a must read for anybody who is a fan of the RPGs and classic Dungeons & Dragons as much as it is for the novice player just entering the universe that is RPGs. The story is gripping from beginning to end and you will feel for not only Gary but also for those around him while learning what it took to keep the game going for as long as he did. His determination and drive and eternal boyish nature would allow him to repeatedly pick himself up from any thing from financial ruin which would cripple anyone else to the emotional desolation of two divorces this small and great man would rise and be responsible for how we spend countless hours of our lives today. The book is well worth the purchase and I warmly recommend it to anybody who is thinking of getting to rpgs and not just a MUST read for writer and creators already in the industry.

I will have to give this book an 8 out of 10 and is worth having as I myself have revisited it 3 times until now and every time I pick up something new.

Why you should – or shouldn’t – play Warhammer 40k in 2021

I’ve been out of the Warhammer game for over 15 years at the time of me writing this article. I have however continued reading the books, and tried to keep up to date with the lore – but being the massive universe that it is, it’s a challenge just to keep up with the basics.

When I found myself with some more free time between work, iI’d already decided on one thing I wanted to do – get back into Warhammer. 

Playing Warhammer when you’re a teen can be tricky. First of all, Warhammer can be a very expensive hobby to participate in – at least insofar as the tabletop miniature game goes. As a teen, you usually don’t have the financial means to collect, play or engage in the hobby to the extent that you might want to. This could be the reason why the game did not gain as much traction to become a mainstream IP until the last two decades which have now made it one of the biggest gaming franchises in history. 

As an adult, however, while you usually have the financial means, you may lack the time needed to fully invest yourself in your Warhammer hobby or have the required spaces to host the battles. When I started my hobby back up again, I knew I had to moderate my expectations. While I could buy all the models and supplies I wanted, I knew that it would take significant time to paint them to a standard I’d be satisfied with. A long project, as it were.

Still, despite it being a long project, I believe there are reasons why you as a gamer, as a hobbyist, a sci-fi/fantasy enthusiast, should want to play or engage in the massively interesting hobby that is Warhammer – and in this case, specifically, Warhammer 40k.

In this article, I’m going to plead my case if you will – and also mention some of the cons and arguments of why you maybe would want to consider not getting into the hobby.

The game

Warhammer/Warhammer 40k is a miniatures war game that’s mainly aimed at a demographic of 15-50 years old – most of them male though their big boom in the late 80\s and early 90’s saw it grow in popularity with younger players as well, as young as 12-13 in some instances. The company that makes the game, Games Workshop, was founded 40 years ago in the UK and has since then become a company valued in the billions. While other toy companies are failing, and people are losing interest in many physical toys as opposed to digital ones, Warhammer and Warhammer 40k is thriving in ways it never has before. Aside from an resurgence in tabletop/classic gaming overall, Warhammer is thriving even more and growing its fanbase.

How can this be?

1. The Setting/Universe & Peripheral lore products

The detailed setting of, in particular, Warhammer 40,000 is a rich setting filled with literally hundreds of novels/books, and tens of thousands of hours worth of lore, content, artwork, audiobooks, and products to feast on. The Warhammer 40,000 universe makes almost every other setting appear underdeveloped by comparison. Star Trek is a joke when holding the details and attention paid to the universe Games Workshop have nurtured for decades. Star Wars may be fleshed out well in some ways – if you include comics and novels – but Warhammer dwarves their catalogue. Dungeons & Dragons isn’t a setting in itself, and Warhammer 40k easily eclipses popular settings like Faerûn and Eberron. The Warhammer 40,000 lore is bigger than Star Trek and Star Wars combined. 

Top 10: The largest and coolest Warhammer miniatures - Geek Indeed

I’ll go so far as to say that no setting is as well-fleshed out as is Warhammer 40,000 (just my opinion, crucify me in the comments if you must!). While Warhammer fantasy (or AoC) has a well-thought-out setting, the background pales next to what exists for 40,000, which is one of the reasons you find more people leaning towards 40k rather than AoC. That, and how Space Marines have always appeared cooler to boys and were designed and marketed in that way.

The backstory and lore is rich, and it’s easy to get caught up in it – at least how I see it. The peripheral lore, books, and settings that go with it make it one of the deepest settings in existence, in my opinion. Certain settings aren’t that interesting to get into if you’re not engaged in the playing of the game but nonetheless the settings are there. In my opinion, the Warhammer 40,000 universe by itself is good enough to captivate, even if you don’t play the miniature game with its dystopian and dark futuristic narrative.

2. The models

How the models look is a big part of the success of the game – and the fact that the company employs, and holds a competition for master miniature painters to achieve results like above, and showing players what they could do, is a big part of the popularity of the game and why it has maintained a steady player base.

3. More than a game – Games Workshop knows its stuff

Do it the way you want to.

Warhammer 40,000 is:

  • A miniatures game.
  • A tournament game
  • A painting/collecting hobby
  • Books/Audiobooks/Comics
  • Computer games

The fact is, Games Workshop has done a masterful job of creating what is essentially crack for the middle-class nerd with disposable income, and a hobby that younger nerds look to and may want to play or just awe at in store displays. It hasn’t always been this way for the company –  over a decade ago, it was in a slump and it seemed doubtful whether the business would survive or not. 

However, leadership adjusted, the company grew, invested, and expanded, and now we’re looking at a company that essentially “owns” both its setting rights, the production supply of miniatures, the books and everything having to do with Warhammer itself.

And they’re executing their plan to get people involved in a masterful way while making impressive profits.

These, I believe, are some of the main reasons why Warhammer is so successful. 

However, why should you play the game? Why should you get into, or take an interest in the massive setting that is Warhammer? Here, I’m going to be talking mainly about the miniatures game – but many of the arguments can be used for the books or peripheral products as well.

Let’s take things point by point – Why you should play Warhammer.

1. Increases Attention Span & decision-making skills, patience, and Fine motor skills

2016's Miniature of Year - Warhammer Community

Working with Warhammer miniatures can be a mundane and grueling task to some. The detail required in assembling and painting the things will test your patience, fine motor skills, and attention span. Good results here will depend on your ability to handle both fine tasks, and repetitive tasks – any of these things are valuable skills both inside Warhammer 40k  and in the real world. This point is of course not unique to WH40k, but other miniature games may not have the same combination of media, or the wealth that Warhammer offers to players. 

Simply working with the miniatures and doing your best to assemble and prepare them in a way that’s attractive will improve the skills you have.

2. Actual practice of skills, such as math

What is Mathematics? | Live Science

Actually playing with the figures will require different skill sets. The measuring, memorization, and the sheer amount of rules to remember, dice rolls in the dozens, and to quickly crunch relatively simple algebra will still offer opportunities to improve such skills while playing a game. This differs markedly from playing the same game online or digitally, which to me is a huge bonus.

Depending on what level you play the game – everything from casual to tournaments – it will tax different levels of your strategic thinking and other, related skills, all of which are transferrable to the real world as well. In the end, playing a game like Warhammer brings with it many of the same boons we see in playing sports (although the physical exercise won’t be all that significant here).

For this reason alone, it could be an argument to play strategic board games, even if you don’t play Warhammer.

3. A community spanning several age groups/categories and exists in most places

Home - Warhammer Community

Few communities for board and miniature games rival that of Warhammer. The community is global, with clubs even in mid-sized towns, and the hobby popular in many European countries and the US. You’ll usually (outside of Covid-19) have a relatively easy time finding people to enjoy your hobby with. 

What’s more, these people will typically be of all ages and many different backgrounds. Now being nearly 40 years old, many of the people who began playing are in their 40’s or 50’s now, with many of them still playing the game to some extent. It’s always a great hobby, and a great outlet, when people of all age groups can enjoy the same hobby and get together in the same setting. 

Overall, the community which can bring people together is another reason in favor of Warhammer. 

4. An artistic hobby & creative outlet

Creative Assembly får Warhammer-licens. Spännande! | Feber / Spel

Obviously, working with Warhammer will cater to your creative side. The painting, the modeling, the building of your army – all of it works to encourage your fantasy and imagination. You can play the way you want, model your army the way you want. The rules even have support for creating your own specialized army setups, and the company actively works with you if you want to customize your models further, providing details and tools for you to do so.

Warhammer is like lego for adults – your imagination, not much else, sets the limitations here.

5. A non-digital hobby in a digital age

In an ever-increasing digital age with our children and friends spending more and more time in front of screens, I view it as important to encourage hobbies that take us away from the digital world and the screens. While parts of Warhammer can be made easier through the use of modern technology, it is the low tech of the board game that I find appealing here. 

I believe it crucial that we spend more time with each other – not through screens and digital media, but around a table, or in groups, engaging in socializing, games, thinking, and just plain fun. Warhammer is a hobby that offers all of these things and offers it to all demographics and categories of people. 

6. It’s just fun.

Space Marines Showcase: Darcy's Imperial Fists - Warhammer Community

Playing the game is just plain fun. I play an Imperial Fist army in the 40k universe and setting my majestic, sun-yellow warriors of terra against a Xenos horde or the traitor Astartes is always a fun time. Strategizing and trying to outthink, outflank and use my resources better than my opponent. Cheering the dice rolls when they go my way, and cursing them when they do not. Build amazing battlefields that we can play, and enjoy.

All of it is great fun – and this is the main reason the game should be played and enjoyed. A hobby that wasn’t fun, or this much fun, I would spend neither the time nor the money on.

7. You will be constantly challenged

Review Roundup – Imperial Fists, Salamanders and Aeldari – Goonhammer

You can expect a constant challenge when playing Warhammer. The rulebook alone is several hundred pages long, and scenarios will always bring up questions regarding situations, or how to interpret the rules or how to make something as fun as possible. This is not even mentioning the challenge you will find yourself in if you start looking at tournament play, which is of course an entirely different ballgame. 

I myself haven’t always enjoyed being challenged – but everything from the assembling and painting to the playing is a challenging endeavor with Warhammer and in a very good way. That’s also a reason why I find playing Warhammer to be worth my time. 

The flip side

Like with any hobby, there are downsides to Warhammer as well. It wouldn’t be a balanced nor even an attempt at an objective piece without getting into the cons of the game, and the hobby. 

I’m going to keep it simple here, however, as I really believe it is a quite simple side of cons.

There are two main reasons why you should consider not getting into at least the miniatures side of the game. 

1. The cost

Games Workshop has made certain that if you want to play Warhammer, they’ll get your money somehow. It doesn’t really matter to what extent – if you want the miniatures, the paints and supplies, the books, the peripheral products, everything is priced accordingly and for many can add up to a kings ransom for something which is designed to get you hooked. Warhammer is miniatures war game and your units determine the strength and scope of your attacks and nobody wants to be the guy who shows up with 4 infantry men against an armored cavalry. 

While the company has of course spent billions (likely) to perfect its manufacturing techniques, it does hurt to pay $80 for less than a pound of plastic pieces that come in the shape of a space marine chapter master. 

40K: Mortarion Unboxing - Bell of Lost Souls
Games Workshop Webstore

Even the main troops aren’t exactly cheap. Running a 1000 point army will quickly push the price tag above $200. Include the supplies you need for painting, and if you want the company’s paints, that bill goes above $400. With rulebooks, sets of things that you, strictly speaking, do need to enjoy the game, very few people can properly start the hobby below $500.

Most spend far, far more.

To some, and certainly to most kids, this is prohibitively expensive. There are of course ways to cut the costs through package deals and similar things, but the fact is – this stuff looks good, and it costs even more. The end results may be very impressive, but getting there will take heavy, bloody chunks out of your wallet. 

Don’t listen to anyone telling you that you can start “on the cheap”. Warhammer is an expensive hobby, and if you get into it, you’ll find yourself either spending a lot of money or cursing yourself that you don’t have the money to spend.

2. The time dedication

Secondly, Warhammer takes time. This is less of a problem for many people, but it may be a problem to some. Not everyone has the time to spend dozens and hours (and it will take dozens) to prepare an entire army. The games usually take between 2-4 hours depending on size, which is something that for many people still can be handled – but you do need to realize that the game will take some of your time if you get into it – and if you decide that you like it, it’ll take a lot of time.

Therefore, the ideal player for Warhammer that I see, is someone with a decent job, some disposable income, and plenty of time on their hands. That’s a slim group, so most of us have to make do with some shortcoming in this list – but it’s usually something that we can work around.

3. The Nature of Miniatures Game

With more alternatives Games Workshop has managed to adapt to the industry but it is not the miniatures alone that are lining their koffers, moreso it is the IP which has been licensed out for anything from mobiles games to remastered pc games. Miniature games are focused on collecting units and going to war with your opponent and mobile pvp can provide that for far less of a time and money invesment.

There is no story to speak of as you are in a skirmish or conflict opposed to a campaign where you see narratives and plotlines unfold. You do not level up rather you buy stronger units and this mode of play is not for everyone especially if you are the kind of person who dislikes pay to play games or do not have the time and resources. Miniature games are linear and are a time investment when playing similar to tabletop rpgs but whereas D&D is a social, cooperative and collaborative experience Warhammer on the other hand is competitive and does not have as many players.

In the end, nothing should really stop you from enjoying the hobby if it’s something you find that’s to your liking other than finances.

To play or not to play Warhammer? I see it as an easy choice, at least for myself. I love the game, I love the setting, I love the lore, I have a great job and I’ll be playing and enjoying the game for many years to come.

I hope to see you around, fielding your own armies, and that we will meet in joyous battle (or alliance) one day.

Podlight: The Lovecraft Tapes (Podcast Recommendation)

Four years ago I was looking for a way to get into the tabletop RPG Call of Cthulhu, having already familiarized myself with the basics of a D100 system and was always a fan of HP Lovecraft’s work it sounded like it could prove to be a fun thing to run for my group someday as we all enjoyed horror as a genre of game, novel and film.

While scouring YouTube and Facebook for something worth checking out I actually stumbled upon The Lovecraft Tapes in the podcast app later that day on my cellphone. I decided to start from the first case / season (Lights, Cameras, Chaos)episode and never looked back.

The Lovecraft Tapes Logo (awesome Tees in the merch store)

The podcast is an actual-play series with a video and audio component in which the Keeper / Host Jeremy runs sessions of the Call of Cthulhu, with Matt, Bryan and George playing the roles of investigators in an episodic format. With George mysteriously disappearing after a case the boys would recruit the talents of Gabe to continue their investigative efforts. Jeremy’s narration and chemistry with the players make for enjoyable listening but also helps in explaining how the mechanics in the game works for novice players. The party banter never gets stale and the way they approach the problem solving keeps the game fresh from episode to episode.

The boys at Lovecraft Tapes have grown through the years and have an impressive back catalogue of content worth checking out for anybody who is a fan of COC or someone new to the system and looking for a fun way to figure out how you could run the game. Jeremy never overcorrects and lets his players doom themselves but that is what is the fun in this specific game, the party seldom makes it to next week yet here they manage to survive to laugh another day…for the most part.

Apart from providing listeners with the podcast they also have Recommendos where the guys review and recommend video games, movies and a wide range of other cool stuff worth checking out. They always give a shout out to indie stuff when they can and are very responsive to queries and emails which I can vouch for myself. I can only apologize that it took me this long to get around to doing a piece on these guys. I salute their commitment to the culture and fun and hope to hear more from them for many years to come. Even how they would interject comedic ancient one commercials would bring cool intermissions between bad rolls and horrific consequences was but one of the many ways the team crafted brilliant entertainment for all fans of the genre. If you are somebody who cannot get enough of COC or HP Lovecraft this could be that casual listening for your down time between plotting sessions or reading novels.

When I first started listening I must have binged through the first 3 investigations in no time as I was working a warehouse job which was tedious to put it mildly somewhere in the countryside of Sweden. With a nagging supervisor and coworkers who did not care too much about the new Slav I was left to my own devices and forklift. Jeremy and the guys played a huge part in me not letting the company’s BS affect me as much during the day to day grind as the provided enough humor and intrigue to keep me going through eps. I soon found myself downloading 2-3 episodes at home and looking forward to work just cause I knew I would go through more of the adventures. For that I am indebted to you bros and supremely grateful.

So for any of you looking to get a fix of audio horror within a comedic yet interesting narrative look no further than The Lovercraft Tapes. It is hard to bring light to unspeakable dark cosmic horrors such as the ones contained in the tomes printed by Chaosium and Delta Green but this team will bring you out the end of it with some good laughs and a smile on your face.

The site offers several tiers of support from a Student of Miskatonic to The Dreamlands granting you different levels of access from prior rewards and benefits to including opportunities to play videogames with the guys and even the chance to play an NPC in an episode of the podcast! This group of gamers have truly been able to translate their passion into something great that can be monetized and inspire us here at Nerd Dimension to stick with our passions and make sure to have fun on the journey.

If you would like to find out more about The Lovecraft Tapes and see how you could support them please do click the links bellow and make sure you like their page and subscribe. There is a ton of cool content on their website and more information about the now expanded team of contributors and players.

Patreon

YouTube Channel

Twitter

Discord

Lords of the Cosmos #4 Kickstarter reminder!

We are exited to announce that the Kickstarter for the next issue of your favorite extreme metal futuristic dystopian fantasy is right around the corner!!! Check out more about the series and the artist Jason Lenox here.

Comic Book Men (TV Series)- Recommendation & Review

all images are copyright and ownership of Jason Lennox & rightsholders of the IP

If you have been following the site in recent years you will know that we are fans and supporters of the series and the art and writing is different to what has been popular with mainstream publishers which is one of the reasons we enjoy Jason’s work. This grimmer, darker series with a unique setting make for thrilling reads and lets us appreciate the art of the panels giving me the vibes of hand drawn classics but not aged. The villains are fleshed out antagonists that you feel with at times while at others you just are in awe of the evil. In the last issue the creators introduced some cool unconventional heroes such as Bees with shotguns, Eagles with comms to plants operating mechs, the team truly deliver on giving us something wild and engaging without jeopardizing the cruel reality of the setting or sacrificing immersion. I can promise you that it will read like no comic you read recently, especially if you are thinking of returning to the hobby it is this kind of book that takes you back to the edgy creativity of a time gone. Having read the previous 3 it is a must I pledge and get behind the project but I encourage anyone interested to look into this Kickstarter.

Jason is a pretty humble guy and he is not all over social media like a lot other folks in the industry but his work ethic and openness impressed me from day one when I first reached out. He was prompt with his response and polite, making time for a small time site like us really is a testament to him wanting to help out smaller creators. A family man with his handful most days it is no small feat for him to consistently deliver on Lords of the Cosmos and I do hope that we see many more issues of this epic adventure while wishing Mr. Lennox nothing but great success in his future endeavors.

Thanks for reading, please check out Jason’s social media and website to stay up to date on all the great work he is doing.

Comic Book Men (TV Series)- Recommendation & Review

Check out what we think of a unique piece of TV history that sadly ended a few years ago. For those of you who missed it make sure you check out why we recommend Comic Book Men

I recall when I first stumbled upon Comic Book Men and was excited by the concept of a semi-scripted reality show about comics produced by fellow fan man Kevin Smith. Having grown up with his movies and being a fan of his podcast I had a good feeling it could prove to be enjoyable viewing. Kevin Smith is a slept on talent from the era of nostalgia to many in my generation. He inspired a lot of people with his success in movies after releasing an independent film called ‘Clerks’ and the rest is a profanity laced joy ride in celluloid history.

Out the gate the first season had me hooked and my buddy Boris of the Bash Bros started watching shortly after we watched a few episodes at my place. The first season had longer episodes than most shows in that format but were funny and informative with a cast of ‘real’ people that made it feel like more of an authentic show on first watch. It did not feel like a reality show, it felt like Clerks with comics and their wacky and genuine humor always made me sad to see Kev call it an episode and pull down the faders on the mixer. The show would go on to have 7 seasons along with the companion podcast and would have guests ranging from from rap icon Method Man of Wu Tang Clan to Billie Dee Williams who played Lando in the original Star Wars trilogy.

comic-book-men-stan-the-man

I would have to say the timing of the series cancellation was pretty cold blooded seeing that AMC would pull the plug 4 episodes shy of the 100th and not too long after Kevin Smith’s heart attack in 2018. Stating that it did not make much sense financially to the studio the show was taken off the air. In another move Fatman on Batman has seen Kevin also remove his first 50 episodes including the classic Conroy episode which is an all time favorite of fans of Smith and Batman the Animated Series. It is peculiar how with the fading of the Marvel and DC movies it is as if the whole wave is beginning to subside as I am finding it harder to find good shows on nerd culture on TV with decent production value.  Do not get me wrong, I enjoy YouTube content as much as the next guy but I still like the production of a network show and you will be hard pressed to replicate what Comic Book Men did because at it’s core it is about friends believing in each other and living a shared dream and that is what I think made me enjoy it as much as I did.

I am writing about this because I feel that the show was a cool way to get people interested in comics and their history. It made total sense having a show like CBM on TV what with Marvel and DC controlling the box office for the past decade Smith used the times to shoehorn in a show for us. Kevin and his gang at Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash would give you the stories behind some of the best and most influential characters and artists in comics and the culture. Having a component like Pawn Stars the average person could also see the real price of certain items and learn some history in the process that would only add to the nostalgia of each episode. All in all the show is entertaining and informative and I truly recommend it if you can stream it where you are because you will get some laughs and it will take older viewers back to their childhood. For those of you outside of the United States make sure to check out some of the VPN options.

I can tell our readers who may not be familiar with Kevin Smith and his contributions to cinema that I cannot recommend enough the following films:

Clerks , Dogma, Mallrats, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back & Chasing Amy.

The Death of Superman and the Reign of Supermen – Lightning did not strike twice !

In the 90s my generation witnessed the death of an iconic character. Today the newer generations get to relive that momumental moment in the medium of comics. Read what how we feel about the new itiration and take on the comics that changed the path of Superman and brought him into the modern era.

Having grown up in the 90s I was lucky to have watched some of the best-animated features and series in the history of television and got to read some of the runs in comics. To me, it is my favorite era of comics because of the sheer volume of content being produced when it came to comics and action figures and kids of my generation really had a lot to see and pine over. One of the big things of the 90’s was also something that rattled comic book fans all over the planet as we first heard that DC comics were going to kill Superman! The comic itself is said to have contributed to the subsequent downward spiral in comic book sales as at the time there was a boom in which niether publisher lost time capitalizing on. To speak on this we must also discuss when this orginally came to be to compare previous installments.

Graphic Novel Cover
Cover of the Graphic Novel

The comic, titled ‘Doomsday’ (Dan Jurgens & Roger Stern) was discussed on national television and in the press when it dropped in 93 and apart from flying off the shelves Warner Bros and DC comics would fail capitalize, waiting until 2007 with it arriving on DVD in 2008 called Superman: Doomsday. Fun fact Kevin Smith has a cameo playing himself poking fun at the time he worked on a Superman script. Even the talent of legends Bruce Timm (Batman Animated Series and Justice League) and Duane Capizzi ( Transformers: Prime, Darkwing Duck, and The Batman).The animated feature was well-drawn but differed from the source material which is a pattern that would follow in the decades to come. The problem was that Warner Bros should have released this movie in the early 90’s when the comics were out to have fully capitalized as Superman: Doomsday was not released to rave reviews and was not making anyone’s top 10 list anytime soon. Superman dying is a big deal and coming late to the party may have affected the interest of the masses in this animated film but it was a decent release and if you can find it somewhere for cheap it is a decent addition to any collection for the sake of nostalgia.

It would be more than a decade later before DC and Warner Bros would revisit the storyline, this time opting to remain closer to the source material by including Superboy, the Eradicator, and Steel. I am reviewing the combo pack release in which you have the option of watching both titles back to back in on sitting.  My buddy and I from the board game club watched it and though it felt like it dragged on. We were two different demographics watching this movie, for him, it was his first time watching or hearing about Superman dying. It then hit me that the younger generation have grown up with blockbuster movies and loads of shows and movies and comics themselves were not mainstream for ages. This means my friend Lenny never really got into comics growing up and now in his late teens is diving deeper into the history of these characters he grew up with.

The casting of talent was spot on with Hollywood names such as Nathan Fillion (Firefly & Castle) voicing Hal’s Green Lantern, Rebecca Romjin   (X-men Trilogy, Punisher & The Librarians) as Lois Lane and Rosario Dawson (Daredevil and Iron Fist) as Wonder Woman. I have no complaints on their voiceacting and the dialogue proved to be convincing enough but it did not have the style and look of the 2007 adaptation. I was pleasantly surprized when I sutmbled upon the BluRay Double Feature release where you could get and stream both movies back to back.

As someone who is a huge Bruce Timm and Paul Dini fan I would have preferred if they tried to keep some of the original look from the 90s and early 00s but I will not hold it against them. Warner Brothers have been consistently releasing at least 1 animated feature a year if not more while continuing to support live action shows such as Super Girl, Green Arrow and Titans. Despite their major motion pictures earning big bucks at theaters but the negative critiques and feedback from fans following the Justice League movie and the how Aquaman failed to capture the the interest of many older viewers. With a new man in charge and at the helm of future Warner Brothers releases with a growing interest in appealling to the Chinese market the studio needs to be wise  to avoid the blunders of the past and the mistakes other corproations are making in appeasing the Eastern market.

Warner Brothers are wise to keep the fans happy with content over the years and this release will scratch an itch and does give you a story worth watching. The first part of the story (The Death of Superman) will have you watching Supes give it all his all as the Justice League struggle against the arrival of Doomsday. They carnage and desperation is paced well throughout and the inevitable ending does leave you wondering what would happen next. The Regin of the Supermen would see our first itiration of the comic series where in the absence of Kalel other ‘Supermen’ would rise up and attempt to fill that void. As to not spoil too much of it but we get to see Luthor still angling to be the most powerful man on the planet by introducing Superboy as other ‘versions’ of the former hero rose up including the Eradictor and Steel weaving an interesting narrative. The more adult tone of the story does well in immersing the viewer in what is going on. You have Darksied appearing and watching the heroes and citizens try to make sense of this new era where heroes compete over the top spot while new evils find their way to our blue marble with villianous intentions.

Reing of the Supermen Comic cover
Cover for the Graphic Novel

The second part of the arc plays out better than the previous installment and watching the dynamics between the different characters and the attention paid to the minute details of each of the ‘supermen’ added more to the feature. The writers and producers attempted to include as much as they could from the source material and do not make it a campy feature and touch on issues such as self belief, betrayal and revenge in a way we have not experienced in their perevious animated features.  I can warmly recommend watching these two features back to back when you have 3 hours to kill however I sadly will not recommend it as a purchase.

 

Despite being different to what most fans have grown accustomed and used to from WB Animations it does not go deep enough for me to want to re-watch it any time soon. For that reason I would have to give it a 6.5 out of 10 as it is a double feature package and it would be unfair to judge them as standalone releases (which you still can get seperately). It is good fun for Superman fans and fans of the genre in general but not worth the money as I do not see it adding much value or replay value to most collections.

Until next time I would like to wish all of our nerds and nerdettes the best possible week and just ask for you to invite some friends to our Facebook page and hit the like button so we know you enjoy our content. If you would like to suggest a topic for us to cover or a creator you think would care to be interviewed do not hesistate to send us an email after liking our FB page.

 

*Nerd Dimension claim no ownership or copyrights over the images or IPs described and reviewed in our posts. We utilize any materials under fair use for news and review purposes .  

 

 

..not as good as the comic

NerdDimension.Com presents the BATMAN: HUSH Film Review
by Talon

BATMAN: HUSH Film Review

by Talon

Batman: Hush is an animated film by Warner Bros. Animation based off an 8 issue Comic Book story arc of the same name written by Jim Lee & Jeph Loeb which ran from 2002-2003, the feature directed by Justin Copeland was premiered at San Diego Comic-Con of 2019. The leads of the film are voiced by Jason O’Mara, Batman, & Jennifer Morrison voicing Selina Kyle aka Catwoman.

Jeph, Justin, Jim, Jennifer and Jason
Right to Left: Jeph Loeb, Justin Copeland, Jim Lee, Jennifer Morrison & Jason O’Mara

This adaptation leaves much to be desired by true fans of the source material but will likely appeal to those new to the story as the writer and film team have taken liberties and creative licenses as with most movie adaptations today, especially comic related ones. Judging the film on its own merits Batman:Hush is good but not as good as the comic.

For those who are not familiar Batman: Hush is one the most popular and critically praised graphic novels of all time but most certainly of the last two decades (IGN Ranking it 11th in their top 25 list) evidenced by the first issue having 113,061 pre-orders in October 2002 placing it at the peak of the Top 300 comics charts. Going into the project Loeb, a fan favourite having done justice to the character in previous iterations, this time teamed up with maestro artist Jim Lee by both shaking up the status quo and making a few unexpected decisions creatively they succeeded in creating buzz and controversy .

comic cover hush
Original Comic Book Cover of Batman: Hush

Returning to the animation, DC has been consistent with its art style since the Flashpoint offerings creating a sort of baseline to illustrate the connectedness of the different films. This isn’t bad, but the style isn’t up to snuff compared to Batman: The Animated Series or Jim Lee’s masterful pieces in the original comic. This movie like countless other adaptations and reboots of the last decade plus suffers from the animation writing staff putting their own touches on the story. This approach hasn’t made great projects where possibly Teen Titans: The Judas Contract and The Death of Superman are exceptions which reinforce the rule. Unfortunately most writers make big alterations to great stories in an attempt to keep the story ‘fresh’ to fans who know the original story, whilst this can work in seldom cases it did not by and large in the New 52 era or for writer Ernie Altbacker in the case of Batman: Hush.

BTAS, TEEN TITANS DEATH OF SUPES
Left to Right Box Art of Teen Titans The Judas Contract, Batman The Animated Series & The Death of Superman

The film begins with Bruce Wayne making an appearance at an evening banquet where he bumps into an old school friend Thomas Elliot (Maury Sterling) and sees Selina Kyle which gets him thinking about giving their relationship a shot again.

Shortly thereafter he stumbles upon a conspiracy involving a kidnapped young boy who is being held by Bane (Adam Gifford), as he foils the plot Catwoman makes away with the ransom money promptly delivering it to Poison Ivy (Peyton List).

As Batman attempts to catch Catwoman his grappling line is torn by a sniper shot from the titular villain sending Batman crashing to the street. Luckily there are some good people to stave off encroaching threats.

Bruce decides to begin dating Selina, and when they attend the Opera the are met by Harley Quinn (Hynden Walch) who claims that she must kill Bruce Wayne in order to free her boyfriend The Joker (Jason Spisak).

To spare you readers as many spoilers as possible I ll just add that yes Catwoman and Batman get involved, yes.

Ernie, and Co
Left to Right: Ernie Altbacker, Jason Spisak, Maury Sterling, Adam Gifford, Peyton List & Hynden Walch

In essence the viewer is treated to large portion of the classic Batman rogues gallery thanking to the stratagem of Hush, a new player on the scene who is mind controlling the lot of them. The cast is solid but both leads would have been better served if they were voiced by Kevin Conroy & Adrienne Barbeau respectively. Other welcome voices to the troop to reprise their roles would have been Arleen Sorkin as Harley, Mark Hamill as The Joker, Loren Lester as Dick Grayson/Nightwing and Richard Moll as Harvey Dent.

Conroy & Co
From Top Left to Right: Adrienne Barbeau, Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Arleen Sorkin & Loren Lester.

Fans of the source material will not be thrilled by certain changes made to the story, most being trivial and unnecessary (like switching Killer Croc with Bane or Huntress with Batgirl which basically ends Oracles role in the story) which eat away at the robust story itself but one which probably does detract from the story is the love affair between Bruce and Selina taking centre stage more so than in the comic books. Whilst this is the only aspect which is perhaps an improvement on the source material, the movie is not called Catwoman & Batman but Batman: Hush. That being said Damian Wayne’s (Stuart Allen) response to the pairing is probably the most memorable moment of the feature. Most changes feel to have been done to make the film fit in the current DC Animated universe, much like what Marvel has been doing the last decade or so, but with source material as strong as this is clearly not the best idea.

DAMIAN WAYNE CHAT
Screenshot of Damian Wayne played by Stuart Allen

The animation does feel a little generic and the above average fight scenes do not mask the misstep. Another thing I feel old school fans will be disappointed by is the seemingly forced use of profane language in an attempt to make the feature edgier, as is the sexual innuendo which feels static as it suggests O’Mara and Morrison lack adequate chemistry to pull off the romance in a believable manner.

The ending itself feels rushed and leaves one feeling anticlimactic and that the huge choices Batman made throughout the film are insignificant, which they are not. This story arc could have been better served if they spread the story into a two feature series or even three, instead we are left with numerous red herrings and you simply don’t feel Hush is a worthy opponent of the caped crusader.

This movie, unlike the beginning of Warner Bros. Animation, suffers from what most movies suffer from – too much meddling with what works. Batman: The Animated Series was a watershed moment and a classic which stands out today just because Jean MacCurdy (the company in this instance) allowed the creative team of Bruce Timm, Paul Dini & Mitch Brian to do what THEY felt was BEST.

WB DREAM TEAM
The Warner Bros Animation Dream Team Left to Right: Jean McCurdy, Bruce Timm, Paul Dini & Mitch Brian

This feature much like most films inspired by comics feels like making money was far and wide the top priority which there is nothing wrong with but by banking on an existing fan-base to support it without giving any fan service in return doesn’t seem fair. It is likely a sign of the times where everything must appeal to as many consumers as possible disrupting the organic quality of the storytelling in the process.

The animation is crisp and presented in 2160p in the Blu-ray and the DTS-HD 5.1 audio is just as quality so that is alright.

In closing its nice to see that DC continues to bring back some classic stories into the animated realm, unfortunately like others they are guilty of trying to ‘fix’ a working recipe. The original comic arc was built on a clever detective story, provided interesting plots twists and intelligent characterization from the writer and stellar artwork by the illustrator making it a classic which is still impressive today.

Worth praising is DC’s attempt to create a semblance of a continuity but I feel most fans would rather not have this done at the expense of the source material. The worse thing I felt upon finishing the film, and days later, was how generic it felt. As a big fan of Batman this leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Batman: Hush will most likely appeal most to casual fans and a public which have no foreknowledge of the comic, as it is a good animated feature but for true fans of the original work who have been waiting for it to grace the small screen format it will very likely be a serious disappointment.

We give this film a score :

2.5 / 5

All images used are property of DC Comics, StarReel Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation, Atlas Oceanic Sound & Picture, NE4U, Salami Studios and their associate/affiliates as well as numerous media outlets and I claim no rights over them.

Dungeons & Dragons : Shadows Over Mystarra – Coop Arcade fun for 4 (Xbox, PC)

I can recall first the first time I watched the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon in the early 90’s and loved the idea of heroes adventuring in a fantasy world. Not comprehending the complexities of tabletop RPGs I just loved the stories and that was enough. Then I remember going to the arcades with my brother and we loved playing coop games like Metal Slug and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles which even allowed for up to 4 players. I would read about Dungeons & Dragons Tower of Doom that was released in 1993/94 for the legendary CPS-2 machine by Capcom, a developer and publisher all kids we all too familiar with. Tower of Doom would not be the first D&D game released by Capcom with TSR after signing their deal in 1990 which resulted shortly after in the porting of Eye of the Beholder to the SNES.

arcande cabinet220px-Tower_of_Doom_sales_flyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The artwork in the magazine was evocative and the cover featured the standard party with the Dwarf, Cleric, Warrior and Elf. At the time races were classes as they were using the AD&D Rules Cyclopedia rules when designing the game which also made it unlike any other side scrolling beat em up game. Not only had they gotten the rights from TSR for the system but they also were using a popular setting from the AD&D books. At the time fans of D&D had gold box computer games and other iterations of their favorite tabletop game ported to the PC but nothing that looked as good as what Capcom released and no game allowed for up to 4 players couch coop! The game would eventually see it packed with the sequel Shadows of Mystarra (Dungeons & Dragons Collection 1999) for the failed Sega Saturn console but only Japan with the removal of 4 player capabilities.

tower of doom opening screen

The things that made this a different gaming experience for arcade goers was that it allowed players to do more than just simple attacks, infact Capcom wanted to remain true to the abilities existing fans of the tabeltop game loved so much.  Capcom would enlist the talents of video game and anime concept illustrator Kinu Nishimura (Street Fighter games and Capcom Vs SNK) while leaving the writing duties to Alex Jiminez who did great in translating the feel and narrative of Dungeons & Dragons to a more mainstream audience. Players would be able to select abilities and feats while picking up items and loot which was stowed in their inventory. Prior to this inventory functionality and the differentiation of what each character to do made this a gamechanger in the early 90’s, the last era of arcades still being relavent in gaming culture globally.

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The game had miles of depth on the competition at the time, it was hard to complete and it played different depending on the choices the players made in game. A store and and the addition of a block function helped players survive a few more kobolds. D&D fans coming to arcade would be pscyhed when they saw the inclusion of their favorite spells including, magic missile, fireball, cloudkill and invisibility along with the same limitations from the book meant their exzisting knowledge would allow for them to get the game from the first quarter. Levelling up and loss of gold and points when dying made it a game where you had to think more than your would for other beat em ups like Fatal Fury or the Simpsons. The replayability of Tower of Doom and its difficulty had us dumping money into the cabinets and for those who got to see the ending at the 7th level we were amped after seeing the cliffhanger ending which hinted at a sequel.

Shadow_over_Mystara_sales_flyer

Shadows over Mystarra would be the second Dungeons & Dragons game released for arcades in 1996, adding more to the game and expanding the choices for playable classes. The thief and magic user class were added to the joy of many D&D players. Each class had alternate costumes so two players could play as the same class if they wanted to and believe me have two casters is nothing to sneeze at in this game. Capcom also jammed in more combos for the fighting classes and threw in more spells along with diverging paths for specific classes and alternate endings added more replayability to that game that already did it right the first time around.  By far the 4 possible endings for each class is something I think no game has done since.

 

001-dnd-shadows-over-mystara-player-selection-min

Now that we have laid on the praise real thick with our nostalgia goggles on it is time to get into what we don’t like about the games. Seeing as the games were originally designed for the arcades it was common practise for developers for have money grab levels and cheap bosses who were so hard that you would HAVE to have a fair amount of coinage to survive. Pay to pay at it’s finest but this is truly visible when fighting the Red Dragon in the first game where you do not even see his health bar after a barrage of hits connect and his insta-death fire breath killed many one second into the encounter. Also, there were glitches in the sequeal where you could cheat through entering certain words when given the choice of naming your character along with a few other glitches which could give you powerful items helped some cheaters get their names on the highscore charts. Other than that my gripe is more with Capcom than it is with TSR which was going through hell in the 90s.

Imagine if Capcom did not sacrifice the 4 player option for the Saturn, better yet try picture them releasing these game on the Sony Playstation as a bundle in 1996? I could not find any explaination as to why Capcom would not pursue it further, one of the reasons could be that D&D did not catch on as fast or grow as much as it did in the west. Alex Jiminez who wrote the scenario for Capcom said the Japanese staff were not understanding the concept or much of the mechanics behind D&D. The heads in Tokyo even were debating whether the game should have a Western or Eastern theme prior to Alex’s arrival.

Let us recall that RPG fans in the early 90s had slim pickings for games especially when discussing consoles with Diablo 1 coming to the Playstation in 1998 with only a two player option, beating Capcom by a year for their collection which was exclusive to Japan. Baldurs Gate would not hit PCs until 1998 meaning Capcom had more than enough time to capitalize on a severely under served genre with most of the titles remaining exclusive to PC platforms. Waiting as long as 2013 to repackage and release the collection globally on most platforms seemed like a long wait and I’m pretty sure if they had ported it to the Playstation, PS2, Dreamcast, or Xbox they could have gotten some more sales and perhaps rekindled the interest of Wizards of the Coast in a time where consoles were not even a thought for developers. Proof of this is that we had to wait until 2001 before console gamers would recieve the critically acclaimed ‘Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance’.

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REMINDER: The titles listed were gamechangers and all came towards the end of the 90s, not to say there were not games on the PC and Playstation that did not have Dungeons & Dragons licensing but these products fell short of the mark when it came to graphics, replayability and never made the arcade. With the exception of Eye of the Beholder which was well reviewed no D&D computer game would make a splash prior to Baldurs Gate in 1998.

Hoping you enjoyed reading this post and we cannot recommend this enough if you have 15$ lying around give the game a shot as it is packed with nostalgia while also providing hour of fun in a familiar setting.  I give this collection 9 out of 10. 

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Funny Zombies.. Welcome to ZOMBIELAND!!

Talon presents on behalf of NerdDimension.Com The Zombieland Film Review [ThrowbackThursday]

ZOMBIELAND Film Review

by Talon

 

Zombieland is a R-Rated adventure horror comedy (now Zomedy or Zom Com) written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and directed by Ruben Fleischer released in 2009. The movie earned Best Horror Movie, Best Cameo (Bill Murray) and Best Ensemble at the Scream Awards. The film was shot and brought to market for $23.6 million then smashed the box office earning $102.4 million making it the most successful zombie movie ever released at the time. The winning ensemble comprises Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson as leads supported by Emma Stone with Abigail Breslin and we are treated to appearances by Bill Murray, and Amber Heard in a brief scene which really kick starts the movie.

Team
Paul Wernick, Rhett Reeese, Ruben Fleischer & Amber Heard

A road movie at heart set in a post apocalyptic earth thanks to an outbreak of a virus, related to Mad Cow Disease, which turns people into zombies. The ingredients of this film could have resulted in boring product but surprisingly the film works as an entertainment piece. Zombieland cemented its legacy along with Shaun of The Dead as one of few films which brought the Zomedy genre commercial success and prominence in the mainstream western market, as the far east especially Japan had been releasing zombie related games, literature and even zombie comedies throughout the 90s and early 00s.

F EAST
The House of The Dead, Versus, Resident Evil (Bio Hazard) & Bio Zombie

The movie begins with narrator Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), a student at the University of Texas, one of the few non-infected people as he breaks down his various rules for survival. Shortly we find him walking down a highway strewn with abandon cars when he encounters Tallahasse (Woody Harrelson), who is on a quest to reach Florida killing as many zombies en route as he can and if possible secure himself a Twinkie supply.

The two agree to team up for a portion of the journey before deciding to examine a grocery store in hopes of finding some Twinkie’s. After fighting off several zombies and finding no Twinkies they meet sisters Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) in the back of the shop, trying to help the ladies feigning distress our leads are conned and left without weapons or transport.

Shortly thereafter Tallahassee and Columbus in an attempt to set things straight track down their stolen SUV, where thanks to cliche Back Seat Inviso-Syndrome (where impossibly characters cant see people in the back-seat) the girls once more play the two leads. Fortunately Tallahassee swiftly turns the tables on the realistically outmatched femme duo and they decide to stick together until LA.

BILLY MURRAY
Bill Murray’s Residence, Ghostbusters Original Movie Poster & Bill Murray

The foursome arriving in Hollywood decide to find Billy Murray’s house using maps to the stars. Reaching the expansive Beverly Hills residence the crew split up, Columbus opting to show Little Rock Ghostbusters to show her who is the actor whose home they are squatting in, whilst also probing the kid for relationship info regarding her big sister. It is during this time we receive one of the most memorable cameos in film history but I do not wish to spoil it or the movie for you guys.

Unlike many movies of the horror genre Zombieland doesn’t suffer from overly pointless gory scenes, don’t get me wrong there is violence a plenty but the team doses it just right making the scenes amusing as they are action packed. Barring the back-seat reversal the cliches work well and are welcome, as is the kindling of potential romance between characters which doesn’t feel forced or contrived. There are seldom moments you feel for the characters and understand somewhat their intent adding needed respite from action and gags heightening the contrast between scenes.

Zombieland must have surprised both Columbia Pictures and Relativity Media with its box office success, both due to the genre being still fairly untapped in the US as well it being the feature film debut of Ruben Fleischer. I think because of the somewhat humble budget and a strong script (rewritten multiple times) the fairly established cast decided to sign on and I feel both production and cast pulled it off and am surprised the sequel came out just this year (2019).

The cinematography was spot on thanks to Michael Bonvillain, smart camera movement, angles and use of distance shots. The sound and score also helped bolster the theme and feel of film so a thumbs up to David Sardy and the Sound Deparment. The editing too was well done courtesy of Alan Baumgarten making Zombieland flow smoothly with no clutter, tight and compact.

crewwww
Alan Baumgarten, David Sardy & Michael Bonvillain

Eisenberg and Woody are both good actors and they pull off their roles masterfully. You believe that Jesse is the awkward nerd who compiled the rules list which pop up on screen throughout the film and Harrelson feels authentic as the macho tough guy on a rampage of vengeance.

Also enjoyable is the various ways in which the zombies are executed by the cast using a wide spectrum of equipment from guns to baseball bats and even gardening tools. There are even some truly bizarre comic instances which are rewarding to viewer.

The first time director possesses a great sense of timing and injects clever wit throughout the bloodbath of a film. As praised the cinematography is spot on really adding much to the feel of the film providing great visuals of different areas after the apocalypse. There are some poignant moments but don’t feel forced as mentioned and do not take away from the movies main goal which is to garner laughs.

The writers turned out a genre savy script and the meta feel of some scenes will be relished by cinephiles. I applaud most Bill Murray’s amazing cameo appearance which really steals the movie and is maybe one of the best cameos ever.

I feel the movie needed a little bit more something, maybe a little more character study or development but aside from that this movie succeeded in what it set out to do which is to entertain. This movie will be interesting to comedy fans especially of Zom Coms but also classic horror film aficionados.

I give the movie a score of :

3.75 / 5

All images used are property of Columbia Pictures, Relativity Media, Pariah and their associate/affiliates as well as numerous media outlets and I claim no rights over them.

Diablo IV is coming ! So lets talk about it!

Nerd Dimension tell you what they think about the announcement from Blizzard and what we hope the game could look like. So far it does not bode well for the veteran publisher which has seen an avalanche of backlash on social media. Nerd Dimension cut out the bs and get to the guts so read on to see if you should be excited about Diablo IV!

Front_End_Campfire_small
Diablo IV as of now has 3 playable classes in the demo

 

written & edited by Mykal Grimm

Many YouTube feeds have been flooded with initial impressions and reactions to Blizzard’s announcement at Blizzcon that a forth installment in the classic series of Diablo was on the way…kinda. The publisher has released an well produced trailer including gameplay but also allowed attendees to play a demo while streamers were given 5 minutes to stream it for their fans. With the recent dark cloud hanging over Blizzard involving censoring and banning players who were vocal on the current political situation in Hong Kong to recent failures that the fans are not letting go of teasing gamers with Diablo IV could buy them some much needed time to try save face.

The last Diablo game announced by Blizzard was Diablo Immortal which disappointed fans wolrd wide with the news that it would be a mobile device only game. What added to the sting was how the company leading up to the announcement were very vague and appeared to ignore feedback from the community after the announcement. Fans of Diablo have been asking Blizzard for a HD remaster of the older the titles as now Baldurs Gate has been ported to all current gen consoles offering fans more product at affordable prices. Immortal would be pushed back and no hype was really generated and with the talks of it having a 2019 release I don’t see it bringing in the big bucks for Blizzard any time soon. The success of the Warcraft movie in China saw the franchise double up for a sequel further promoting their world to more potential players in the largest growing market while the the return of World of Warcraft Classic saw them capitalize on the nostalgia of the previous generations of PC gamers. Though many feel that WOW charging 14$ a month for a subscription and then charging you 60$ for expansions is a bit steep but who are we dictate their pricing policy.

The announcement of Diablo IV comes as a breath of fresh air to fans of the franchise, especially those who grew up playing the PC games and were waiting to see what a forth title would like after our disappointment with Reaper of Souls. What worries many gamers who are fond of the older games and all too familiar with Blizzard track record of missing deadlines the company did not even hint at a possible release date. This is not a good sign because Baldurs Gate 3 was the talk of cyberspace the past two months and are confident that they will have the game out in 2020 and that it will be on most platforms.

Other things we did not like reading was that Blizzard intend on making it playable online only! This writer believes that games that have campaign and solo content must be playable offline however developers have now made the online component critical to a lot of the game mechanics and not just skins and customizations. I may like to also remind folks that Blizzard’s online store was marred with scandal when real money was changing hands and pay to win became prevalent, not to mention the dealys for the first 48 hours and enduring download times should have taught them something.

Combat_Ancients_Multiplayer_Ghouls_small
Diablo IV will offer multiplayer but have not been fortcoming with information

Something of the promising things on first glance is that this game looks closer to the original design and art style of the earlier games. The cinematis and gameplay still looks like Diablo but it is darker and not as smooth as in Reaper of Souls. The 3 playable glasses we saw in the gameplay footage online showed a Druid closer to that of Celtic legends while the Sorceress and _Barbarian did not look too different from the older games. The graphics and visuals for certain spells including the overall mapping of the controls seemed streamlined and intutitive. The introduction of mounts does raise eyebrows, though developing the game to be more open world than previous editions the needs to accelrated travel makes sense but steads and mounts are also common place in mmorpgs, something that Diablo is not…or so they the want us to think.

For our readers who might be new to the Diablo series in general I can recommed everything from the litrature to the games as they can provide hours of entertainment and ooze nostalgia of a simpler time in gaming. The games are action rpgs for the most part where you take on the role of a character with a specfici set of skills belonging to a certain class with accompanying talents. Many games would be inspired by Diablo in decades to come and is pretty simple to understand with stories that do lead you wanting to see the conclusions…for the first two games at least. Diablo III is still availible on all consoles with couch & online coop modes which allows for you to quest with friends while for those more techy savy you can throw a lan party and quest with your buddies through Diablo II: Lord of Destruction which is considered the definitive Diablo game. If you are more of the tabletop enthusiast Wizards of the Coast would release a setting for their D20 system which allows your party to play out adventures from the games that are easy to incorporate in Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition and Pathfinder.

Diablo IV Combat Nerd DImension Review
The effects and visuals for spells and abilities are a huge step up from previous games

Now to to get in the cause for concern for some of the older players. Diablo 3 was a drastic change from the previous games which did not prove make it a better game. The game is one of the bestselling games of all time but also a debacle. Blizzard has long parted ways with the creators of Diablo David Brevik and Eric and Max Schaefer and with the return of Allen Adham to Blizzard they need Diablo IV to be big. With the hits Ubisoft and EA have taken in previous years all executives are sweating bullets with so much money invested into these projects failure can be devasting. The peculiar timing has helped Blizzcon by giving attendees and those of us at home something big and unexpected like a Diablo IV announcement.

Our gripes with Diablo III ranged from reducing the customization options for play, the lack of modding ability for PC versions to the killing off of characters and a short campaign and dull end game. If Blizzard can address these issuess perhaps we can be given a game with a long life and support from the publisher but despite not mentionning Diablo IV as an MMO we cannot help but feel that is could be the direction we are going similar to Neverwinter and Paths of Exile instead of going the Original Sin Divinity route which had proven to be better titles.

I can recall hours in lan parties playing Diablo 2 and have fond memories of carefully distributing my points in the skills tree to debating with my comrades which class to select to make for a better party.  The feeling of triumph after slaying demons with my friends through what felt like endless caves and finally saving the folks of Kingdom of Khanduras. Yes, good times indeed and hope that my scribblings may encourage you to give Diablo a chance and perhaps enjoy the game and setting that changed gaming forever. We hope to write more content on the series and the story behind Diablo so feel free to request and article to expedite our efforts.

 

You can purchase Diablo on GOG including the Hellfire expansion HERE

You can buy Diablo II base game from Blizzard HERE

 

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*Nerd Dimension claims no ownership or copyrights of Diablo or any Blizzard properties