Month in Review [February 2014]

Eric @ The Warning SignBooks, Movies, Television, Video GamesLeave a Comment

In order of viewing:
1) First Blood [1982] - 7/10
First Blood [1982]

2) Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky [1991] - 8/10
Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky [1991]

3) Miami Connection [1987]* - 8/10
Miami Connection [1987]

4) On the Road [2012] - 6/10
On the Road [2012]

5) No Country for Old Men [2007]* - 10/10
No Country for Old Men [2007]

6) Good Night, and Good Luck. [2005] - 8/10
Good Night, and Good Luck. [2005]

7) Say Anything… [1989] - 8/10
Say Anything… [1989]

8) Drug War [2013] - 8/10
Drug War [2013]

9) Fast Times at Ridgemont High [1982] - 8/10
Fast Times at Ridgemont High [1982]

10) The King of Comedy [1982] - 9/10
The King of Comedy [1982]

11) Election [2005] - 7/10
Election [2005]

* denotes rewatch

Video Games Completed:
1) DmC: Devil May Cry [PS3] - 8/10
DmC: Devil May Cry [PS3]

2) F.E.A.R. 3 [Xbox 360] - 6/10
F.E.A.R. 3 [Xbox 360]

3) Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken [PS Vita] - 5/10
Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken [PS Vita]

TV Shows Finished:
1) The Sopranos [Season 6A] - 10/10
The Sopranos [Season 6A]

2) The Sopranos [Season 6B] - 10/10
The Sopranos [Season 6B]

3) Dexter [Season 7] - 5/10
Dexter [Season 7]

4) Eastbound and Down [Season 2] - 7/10
Eastbound and Down [Season 2]

Books Read:
1) “No Country for Old Men” by Cormac McCarthy - 10/10
"No Country for Old Men" by Cormac McCarthy

Best of the Month: Ignoring rewatches, the best film I watched was easily The King of Comedy. My take on that one will be up later this week. I was also quite impressed with Johnnie To’s Drug War, which would likely make my top 10 of 2013 if I revised my list. For games, DmC was a nice surprise: a hack ‘n slash adventure with a deep combat system. And, of course, the final season-and-a-half of The Sopranos was incredible. The ending was absolutely perfect.

Worst of the Month: On the Road was a mediocre adaptation of one of my favorite novels. Rocketbird was a painfully mediocre side-scroller that I only finished due to its short length. The worst offender last month, however, was clearly Dexter. I’m only finishing the series for the sake of completionism, but I am regretting that decision every second. Amazingly, as bad as season 7 was, the finale is even worse. What a shame.

Eric @ The Warning SignMonth in Review [February 2014]

Movie Project #4: Fast Times at Ridgemont High [1982]

Eric @ The Warning SignMoviesLeave a Comment

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High [1982]

Fast Times at Ridgemont High [1982] Director: Amy Heckerling
Writer: Cameron Crowe
Country: USA
Genre: Comedy
Starring: Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Robert Romanus, Brian Backer, Phoebe Cates
Running Time: 90 minutes

Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a fun movie. It’s a bit strange saying that about a film involving statutory rape and an abortion, but there’s something to be said about its assortment of entertaining characters and future movie stars.

Based on Cameron Crowe’s novel in which he went undercover at a California high school, Fast Times covers the whole spectrum of student types. Jocks, stoners, nerds, middle-class kids and sexual deviants all have an equal amount of time to show us a glimpse into their worlds.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High [1982]

There’s Brad Hamilton (Judge Reinhold), a fast food manager who hates wearing their awful uniforms. Nevertheless, he is a strong older brother to Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a 15-year-old virgin who becomes obsessed with sex thanks to her best friend Linda’s (Phoebe Cates) constant praise of it. Stacy has a budding relationship with nice guy Mark Ratner (Brian Backner), though he may be too shy for his own good. Mark’s buddy, Mike Damone (Robert Romanus), a ticket-scalping slacker, tries to help him with the ladies.

At the center of it all is Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn), a surfer dude who has been “stoned since the third grade.” He is the best character in the film, hands down, mostly due to Penn’s hilarious performance. Spicoli is the kind of guy who just goes with the flow, getting high with his buds while showing up to class whenever he gets around to it. His constant truancy is the cause of a feud between him and his history teacher, Mr. Hand (Ray Walston), leading to some of the film’s most amusing moments.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High [1982]

There are a lot of characters to keep track of, and many of the random subplots are left unresolved, but the film never fails to be engaging. Much of this can be attributed to the screenplay, as well as its impressive cast of young actors. Fast Times served as a bit of a launching pad for so many careers. Aside from those listed earlier, others with memorable parts include the likes of Forest Whitaker, Eric Stoltz and James Russo. There’s even a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role from Nicolas Cage (then Nicolas Coppola).

Although Cameron Crowe did not direct the film, his musical fingerprints are all over it. The music — which includes the likes of Jackson Browne, Don Henley and Billy Squier — is spot-on for its time period. There is a satisfactory amount of raunchiness, a seemingly obligatory part of any good teen film, with the highlight being one of the most paused scenes in movie history: Phoebe Cates emerging from the water and deciding her bikini top was no longer necessary. Fast Times at Ridgemont High is very much an 80s film and very much a teen film, but it earns high marks as both.

8/10

Fun fact: three actors in this film would go on to win an Oscar for Best Actor: Nicolas Cage, Forest Whitaker and Sean Penn.

Eric @ The Warning SignMovie Project #4: Fast Times at Ridgemont High [1982]

Movie Project #3: Say Anything… [1989]

Eric @ The Warning SignMoviesLeave a Comment

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

Say Anything... [1989]

Say Anything… [1989] Director: Cameron Crowe
Writer: Cameron Crowe
Country: USA
Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance
Starring: John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney, Lili Taylor
Running Time: 100 minutes

Is there a more iconic image of 1980s teenage romance than a young John Cusack standing outside of his ex-girlfriend’s window while holding a boombox over his head? Going into Say Anything…, that scene was pretty much all I knew about the film. It was a bit of a surprise then that this scene was so short. I sat there waiting for this magical moment, and then… she didn’t even look out the window! That’s cold, man. Cold.

John Cusack is Lloyd Dobler, a recent high school grad who is all about punk rock and kickboxing. On graduation day, he gets a wild idea: he decides to ask out Diane Court (Iona Skye), the smartest girl in school. His friends, a group of girls including Corey Flood (Lili Taylor), scoff at his idea, but he’s a man on a mission. He works up the courage to make a phone call and gets her dad, James (John Mahoney), instead. They have an awkward conversation (it ends with Lloyd saying “Good afternoon” in response to the dad’s “Good luck”), but it proves to be fruitful as she calls him back the next day. Much to Lloyd’s (and everyone else’s) surprise, she accepts his invitation to a party later that night.

Say Anything... [1989]

The two of them hit it off immediately and fall into a heated romance. However, there are two obstacles in the way of their relationship: 1) her overprotective father, and 2) Diane is moving to England after the summer. Her father means well — he has even taken certain illegal risks to make sure she can be as successful as possible — but he immediately looks down at the “basic” Lloyd. It’s a matter of two completely different social classes coming together due to an undeniable connection, but it’s a relationship that is difficult to sustain.

What impressed me about this conventional tale is that Lloyd is genuinely a great guy. Sure, he may not be sure what he wants to do with his life, but he knows how to treat a girl. Diane realizes this, too, but it’s her that has to do some growing here. It’s rare that a guy in romantic comedies comes across so well, so it’s refreshing to see things from this perspective.

Say Anything… [1989]

For this being a Cameron Crowe film, I was a little surprised to see music take a bit of a backseat here. There’s the seminal boombox scene in which Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” is the main focus, but other than that, the soundtrack is rather subtle. This is not a fault at all, just a bit unexpected.

There is a bit of melodrama near the end that feels caked on, but for the most part, Say Anything… hits all the right notes. It also certainly says something that such a small scene in the film has made an incredible lasting impression over the years.

8/10

Eric @ The Warning SignMovie Project #3: Say Anything… [1989]

Movie Project #2: Good Night, and Good Luck. [2005]

Eric @ The Warning SignMoviesLeave a Comment

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

Good Night, and Good Luck. [2005]

Good Night, and Good Luck. [2005] Director: George Clooney
Writers: George Clooney, Grant Heslov
Country: USA
Genre: Drama/History
Starring: David Strathairn, George Clooney, Patricia Clarkson, Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Daniels, Frank Langella, Ray Wise
Running Time: 93 minutes

Good Night, and Good Luck takes us back to darker times in the United States, specifically the 1950s when the fear of Communism was running wild. The notorious Senator Joseph McCarthy only added to the hysteria by claiming that large numbers of Soviet spies had infiltrated the U.S. Government. This led to anyone with any connection to Communism, no matter how minute (or even non-existant), getting shunned by those in charge. Who knows what would have happened if CBS newscaster Edward R. Murrow didn’t call him out on his bullshit?

George Clooney’s second directorial effort tells the story of this very public feud between Murrow (David Strathairn) and McCarthy. Murrow first targets the senator’s unlawful attack against Milo Radulovich, a Michigan man who was forced to resign from the US Air Force merely because his father subscribed to a Serbian newspaper. This is only the tip of the iceberg, as the trial of Annie Lee Moss, an alleged spy inside the Pentagon, makes the news. Soon McCarthy is attacking Murrow directly, making false accusations about the newscaster being a past member of a communist organization.

Good Night, and Good Luck. [2005]

To Murrow’s credit, he is able to remain calm and level-headed even as he is knee-deep in McCarthy’s pile of lies. He is especially impressive in how he is able to convince his superiors — those who risk damaging certain professional relationships — to stick with him as he fights back against the delusional anti-Communism parade. His rational and sensible demeanor is expertly portrayed by David Strathairn, who got a well-deserved Oscar nomination for his performance.

While much of the focus is on Murrow and McCarthy (the latter of whom is only seen in archival footage), there are two other subplots involving those within CBS. Robert Downey Jr. and Patricia Clarkson play a married couple who are forced to keep their relationship secret due to laws within the company. Also, Ray Wise plays Don Hollenbeck, the host of the CBS News show that follows Murrow, as he struggles to deal with an often slanderous press. The latter storyline fits in perfectly with the overarching theme of the film, but the RDJ/Clarkson subplot received perhaps a bit too much attention. The film is relatively short — just 93 minutes — and it almost feels like their story arc was included to pad things out a bit. The rest of the newsroom is fleshed out with small, but crucial performances from the likes of Clooney himself, Frank Langella and Jeff Daniels.

Good Night, and Good Luck. [2005]

The film is authentic in its approach, with gorgeous black-and-white cinematography interspersed with actual news footage from the era. This provides an almost documentary-like feel to the proceedings, adding even more to the immersion into that era. You can almost smell the smoke-tinged air as everyone puffs away at their Kent-branded cigarettes. For the realism alone, the film succeeds.

It’s said that history repeats itself. Perhaps in 40-50 years, we’ll get another film of a similar nature, this time documenting the frenzy caused by the National Security Agency’s breach of privacy that is happening today. Perhaps now, more than ever, we need an Edward R. Murrow.

8/10

Eric @ The Warning SignMovie Project #2: Good Night, and Good Luck. [2005]

Movie Project #1: First Blood [1982]

Eric @ The Warning SignMoviesLeave a Comment

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

First Blood [1982]

First Blood [1982] Director: Ted Kotcheff
Writers: David Morrell (novel), Michael Kozoll (screenplay), William Sackheim (screenplay), Sylvester Stallone (screenplay)
Country: USA
Genre: Action/Adventure/Drama
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Brian Dennehy, Richard Crenna
Running Time: 93 minutes

Before watching First Blood, I envisioned the character of John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) to be a shirtless, testosterone-fueled one man army armed with a machine gun and endless ammunition. This is the image that I had been fed through the pop culture canon over the years. I was a bit surprised, then, to find a mentally damaged Vietnam War veteran in place of the fearless commando I thought I knew.

First Blood begins with a shaggy-looking Rambo wandering the streets of a small town in the Pacific Northwest. The local sheriff, Will Teasle (Brian Dennehy), notices him walking about and forcefully “offers” a ride out of his town. After being dropped off, Rambo simply starts walking back the way he came, drawing the ire of the sheriff. Teasle arrests him for vagrancy and drives him back for a night in jail. Once there, the rest of the police force joins in on giving Rambo a hard time for no good reason. A few officers attempt to give him some unwanted grooming; when a razor is pulled out, Rambo has a flashback to being tortured in ‘Nam, and he panics. He fights his way through the entire building, steals a dirtbike and heads deep into the mountains, now a wanted fugitive.

The police force, equal parts stubborn and embarrassed, refuse to back down, and soon tracking dogs, the State Patrol and the National Guard are all brought in. Little do they know that Rambo is a former member of an elite Special Forces unit, and the odds are actually against *them* to survive. Rambo’s mentor, Colonel Sam Trautman (Richard Crenna), arrives in an attempt to talk sense into both sides, but by then it’s all too late — this is war.

First Blood [1982]

The idea of Rambo taking on an entire town’s worth of enemies is a bit ridiculous, but it never feels as outlandish as other 80s action flicks. Stallone does a tremendous job of getting us to be on his side, even as he lays waste to a poor, innocent town. He even gets to show off his acting chops in a surprisingly touching final act. The closing scene with his Colonel is what really pulls everything together, and it provides some sort of meaning to what had until that point been a relatively run-of-the-mill action film.

First Blood still has its issues — the policemen are stereotypical villains with no depth, for one — but damn if it didn’t leave on a high note. Now if only that godawful “It’s a Long Road” song didn’t play over the end credits…

7/10

Eric @ The Warning SignMovie Project #1: First Blood [1982]

Month in Review [January 2014]

Eric @ The Warning SignBooks, Movies, Television, Video GamesLeave a Comment

In order of viewing:
1) Sightseers [2012] - 7/10
Sightseers [2012]

2) Disconnect [2012]- 8/10
Disconnect [2012]

3) Don Jon [2013] - 7/10
Don Jon [2013]

4) The Last Stand [2013] - 7/10
The Last Stand [2013]

5) Oblivion [2013] - 6/10
Oblivion [2013]

6) Resolution [2013] - 6/10
Resolution [2013]

7) Her [2013] - 8/10
Her [2013]

8) Dallas Buyers Club [2013] - 8/10
Dallas Buyers Club [2013]

9) We’re the Millers [2013] - 6/10
We're the Millers [2013]

10) The Wolf of Wall Street [2013] - 9/10
The Wolf of Wall Street [2013]

11) Upstream Color [2013] - mindfuck/10
Upstream Color [2013]

12) Ain’t Them Bodies Saints [2013] - 7/10
Ain't Them Bodies Saints [2013]

13) Short Term 12 [2013] - 7/10
Short Term 12 [2013]

14) The Act of Killing [2013] - 8/10
The Act of Killing [2013]

15) Fruitvale Station [2013] - 8/10
Fruitvale Station [2013]

16) The Spectacular Now [2013] - 7/10
The Spectacular Now [2013]

17) Prisoners [2013] - 8/10
Prisoners [2013]

Video Games Completed:
1) Assassin’s Creed II [Xbox 360] - 8/10
Assassin's Creed II [Xbox 360]

2) Gone Home [PC] - 9/10
Gone Home [PC]

3) Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons [Xbox 360] - 8/10
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons [Xbox 360]

4) Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate [PS Vita] - 6/10
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate [PS Vita]

5) Outlast [PC] - 8/10
Outlast [PC]

6) Resistance: Burning Skies [PS Vita] - 5/10
Resistance: Burning Skies [PS Vita]

TV Shows Finished:
1) The Sopranos [Season 5] - 10/10
The Sopranos [Season 5]

2) 30 Rock [Season 6] - 8/10
30 Rock [Season 6]

Books Finished:
1) “Life Itself” by Roger Ebert - 9/10
"Life Itself" by Roger Ebert

Best of the Month: For movies, The Wolf of Wall Street was every bit as crazy as I hoped. It came in at #4 in my top 10 films of 2013 list. I spent a fair amount of January catching up on last year’s films via Redbox and Netflix, of which Disconnect, The Act of Killing, Fruitvale Station and Prisoners impressed me the most. For video games, I absolutely loved Gone Home. It’s a short playthrough — about the length of a movie — but it provided an unforgettable experience.

Worst of the Month: I hesitate to call it the *worst*, but Upstream Color completely baffled me. I may have to give it another go someday, especially after reading Alex Withrow’s great interview with the actor, Andrew Sensenig. Nothing I watched last month was inherently bad, but Oblivion and We’re the Millers were run-of-the-mill sci-fi and comedy films, respectively. For video games, Resistance: Burning Skies was an uninspired FPS that I only completed due to its very short length. When compared to Killzone: Mercenary, its weaknesses are especially glaring.

How about you? What was your favorite film/game from last month?

Eric @ The Warning SignMonth in Review [January 2014]

Top 10 Albums of 2013

Eric @ The Warning SignMusicLeave a Comment

Last year was full of unexpected comebacks in the music scene — Daft Punk, Boards of Canada and My Bloody Valentine all put out new material for the first time in years — and it resulted in one of the best years in some time. Here are my personal favorites:

Honorable Mentions: Bonobo – The North Borders, Gold Panda – Half of Where You Live, Mayer Hawthorne – Where Does This Door Go

10) !!! – Thr!!!er
!!! - Thr!!!er
9) Moderat – II
Moderat - II
8) Kanye West – Yeezus
Kanye West - Yeezus
7) Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest
6) Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus
Fuck Buttons - Slow Focus
5) The Field – Cupid’s Head
The Field - Cupid's Head
4) Arcade Fire – Reflektor
Arcade Fire - Reflektor
3) Disclosure – Settle
Disclosure - Settle
2) The National – Trouble Will Find Me
The National - Trouble Will Find Me
1) Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

Individual tracks from each album:
!!! – “Slyd
Moderat – “Versions
Kanye West – “Blood on the Leaves
Boards of Canada – “Jacquard Causeway
Fuck Buttons – “Brainfreeze
The Field – “Cupid’s Head
Arcade Fire – “Here Comes the Night Time
Disclosure – “White Noise
The National – “Don’t Swallow the Cap
Daft Punk – “Lose Yourself to Dance

For once, I actually agree with the Grammys. How about you? What are your favorite albums from last year?

Eric @ The Warning SignTop 10 Albums of 2013

Top 10 Video Games of 2013

Eric @ The Warning SignVideo GamesLeave a Comment

Last year was another terrific one for gaming, as no less than three games received perfect scores from me. It was another strong year for indies as well, especially on the PC and PS Vita. There were still plenty of titles that I didn’t get to play (Assassin’s Creed IV, Saints Row IV, XCom: Enemy Within, and pretty much every Nintendo game), so this may have to be updated at some point. For now, here are my top 10 video games of 2013:

Honorable mentions: Tomb Raider, BattleBlock Theater, The Stanley Parable, Killzone: Mercenary, Muramasa Rebirth

#10 – Rogue Legacy
Rogue Legacy
#9 – Tearaway
Tearaway [2013, PS Vita]
#8 – Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons [Xbox 360]
#7 – Defiance
Defiance [Xbox 360, 2013]
#6 – Outlast
Outlast [PC]
#5 – Dragon’s Crown
Dragon's Crown [PS Vita/PS3, 2013]
#4 – Gone Home
Gone Home [PC]
#3 – Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V [Xbox 360]
#2 – Bioshock Infinite
Bioshock Infinite [Xbox 360, 2013]
#1 – The Last of Us
The Last of Us [PS3]

What was your favorite game of 2013?

Eric @ The Warning SignTop 10 Video Games of 2013

Top 10 Films of 2013

Eric @ The Warning SignMoviesLeave a Comment

Brace yourselves, folks, because the top 10 lists are going to be running wild here this week! First up is my list of favorite films from 2013. There are still quite a few I want to see from last year (i.e. Blue is the Warmest Color, American Hustle, Inside Llewyn Davis), but I couldn’t wait any longer to share this top 10.

Honorable Mentions: Fruitvale Station, Frances Ha, Dallas Buyers Club, Mud, The Conjuring

#10 – Gimme the Loot
Gimme the Loot [2012]
#9 – Stoker
Stoker [2013]
#8 – The Place Beyond the Pines
The Place Beyond the Pines [2013]
#7 – Gravity
Gravity [2013]
#6 – Her
Her [2013]
#5 – Nebraska
Nebraska [2013]
#4 – The Wolf of Wall Street
The Wolf of Wall Street [2013]
#3 – The Hunt
The Hunt [2013]
#2 – Before Midnight
Before Midnight [2013]
#1 – 12 Years a Slave
12 Years a Slave [2013]

How about you? What’s your favorite film from 2013?

Eric @ The Warning SignTop 10 Films of 2013

Video Game Review: OlliOlli [PS Vita]

Eric @ The Warning SignVideo GamesLeave a Comment

OlliOlli [PS Vita]

OlliOlli
System: PS Vita
Genre: Skateboarding
Developer: Roll7
Publisher: Roll7
Price: $12.99 ($10.39 for Playstation Plus members)
Release Date: January 21, 2013

OlliOlli, a rare PS Vita exclusive, is a 2D skateboarding game that could potentially revitalize a genre that has laid dormant for years. Skating games reached the point of oversaturation years ago; who would have guessed that a small indie title like this could manage to be such a breath of fresh air?

It’s amazing how much OlliOlli does with so little. The control scheme is reduced to what is essentially two buttons: the left analog stick and the X button (with the left and right bumpers being used to rotate the skater, if desired). This seemingly simplistic method is actually deceptively complex. The left stick is used to perform tricks and grinds (of which there are over 120 total), while the X button is used to stick the landings. This takes some getting used to — after years of playing Tony Hawk, it feels weird not to use X to ollie — but it really doesn’t take long to start to feel natural.

The decision to require an extra button press in order to perfectly land a trick or grind is a stroke of genius. By hitting X at the last possible second, you will get a “perfect” rating that delivers the most points possible. This adds a whole new element to the gameplay, as you can pull off the world’s best combo but get little in the way of points if you don’t nail the landing. The game also keeps you on your toes by requiring the analog stick to be pushed down in order to achieve a “perfect” grind. Again, there is a little bit of a learning curve here, but once everything clicks, it’s as smooth as can be.

OlliOlli [PS Vita]

There are 50 levels in total, and each one has a set of five challenges to complete. These are similar to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater in that some challenges are for hitting a certain point total (both overall and for combos specifically), picking up spray cans scattered through a level, hitting certain gaps or pulling off a specific trick. At first, they start off innocently enough, but it doesn’t take long for the requests to get more and more difficult.

If you’re able to complete all five challenges on an “amateur” level, you will have access to its corresponding “pro” level. If you’re able to five star every single level in the game, you unlock the extremely challenging RAD mode. Good luck with that.

There are also “Spots” that can be unlocked by completing each level. These are basically condensed stages that are set up to maximize combo potential. The idea is to string together as many tricks and grinds as possible before you either hit the ground or reach the end of the stage. The game will take note of your best score and tell you your current position on the world leaderboards. I managed to make it in the top 20 once or twice, but surely that will go down as more and more people start playing. It’s fun to see just how far off you are from the world leader, but it would be even better if there were a way to compare your scores with those on your friends list. Perhaps this is something that could be added in with a patch?

There’s also a neat little mode called Daily Grind that’s reminiscent of Spelunky‘s daily challenges. A new level is crafted every day where you get one chance to pull off as big of a combo as possible. You can practice as much as you like, but only your “official” run counts. It’s a fun way to keep the competition going.

OlliOlli [PS Vita]

While there is plenty of content to offer, what makes the overall package so great is that it is so easy to pick up and play. Each level lasts for about a minute, and there is a big yellow button in the left hand corner of the screen that can be used to restart at a whim’s notice. Trust me, you’ll get well acquainted with this button. Everything also starts immediately — there are no delays whatsoever. By keeping everything streamlined so well, this just adds to the addictive nature of the game. It’s one of those “oh, I’ll just play one more level” type games where it’s easy to get sucked in and play for hours without knowing it (a la Super Meat Boy).

In terms of its presentation, OlliOlli offers little in the way of eye candy. The graphics aren’t anything special, and it’s often difficult to differentiate between certain tricks. However, Roll7 really nailed the soundtrack. Its mix of upbeat and chill electronica has a certain hypnotic feeling to it. Quite the contrast from the raucous punk rock songs in Tony Hawk, but it works surprisingly well.

With its twitch gameplay, precise controls and seemingly unlimited replay value, OlliOlli pretty much hits all the right notes. It could benefit from friend leaderboards and more customization options, but these omissions hardly detract from what is an overall addictive and enjoyable experience. If this game is any indication, 2014 is shaping up to be a hell of a year for PS Vita owners.

8.5/10

(A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review.)

Eric @ The Warning SignVideo Game Review: OlliOlli [PS Vita]