How I love my liberty, there are no strings on me…

My web sense has been tingling for days now! When the Avengers: Age of Ultron teaser trailer hit social media went ballistic, as is often the case. I checked it out, and was reasonably impressed.

Obviously I’d much rather see the film than the teaser, but all good things come to those who wait. And wait I shall, I love these flicks. Good storytelling, lots of action, humour, you name it. It’s all there for all to enjoy.

Now I’m not just writing this article to re-post an already over-viewed trailer to our blog. I’m writing it to re-post an extended cut of said over-viewed trailer. I kid, but seriously.

I was asked today – by a coworker – if I had seen the extended cut of the trailer yet, and I hadn’t. Don’t be alarmed, this doesn’t happen often. We all get one or two, right? So please bear with me. He took the time to watch me watch the clip, and was then kind enough to make me watch it again.

His name is John, incidentally. So John points out that at 0:31 you hear Mjölnir creak against the (thankfully) solid material of the table on which it rests. It shudders, ever so slightly, to Thor’s dismay. At this point, Thor’s face literally looks as though he’s about to lose the kingdom to the riff-raff from out-of-town. Which begs the question: doesn’t the hammer require the wielder to be worthy? Like the legendary sword Excalibur, once it is placed in the stone only he who was fit to be king could release it from its tomb. Knowing this, at what point does an Irish kid from Brooklyn become worthy of this Asgårdian relic? No amount of strength is going to account for this. If you doubt me, please refer to the scene in Avengers when Hulk (Bruce) tries to lift Mjölnir off the floor of the aircraft. It cannot be done. Assuming we’re working with Earth-199999 (Marvel Cinematic Universe Earth) this must remain true.

So I started thinking, as dangerous as that can be sometimes. What if – Steve Rogers’ Super-Soldier Serum contained trace amounts of Asgårdian blood, or other DNA? Nobody has ever really explained where his powers come from. Some intravenous and oral fluids, buffed up with #VitaRays. Really? That’s it? That’s so 1941. I want answers man, I want the sort of data we get today through Google and other credible scientific sources. I need the Neil deGrasse Tyson of the Marvel Universe to explain this to me. But I digress.

The trailer goes on to show us the beaten and battered form of Ultron, the lead antagonist of the film. One can only assume that all of these shenanigans with Mjölnir, while drinking, come while celebrating an untimely win. Too soon guys, too soon. Ultron regains strength and goes on a rampage. This all seems rather normal for a sociopathic, science-fiction robot, no? Well, it would – except he spends actual screen time (being a proper lunatic, I might add) voicing a lyric from “I’ve got no strings” from 1940’s Pinocchio, by Disney. Wait – Disney owns Marvel Studios. Marvel Studios films can now safely reference Disney content. Ultron and the Ultron Sentinels were once under duress by forces unknown, they now feel free to carry out their will, and have regained a form of liberty. Brilliant.

One more reason why Disney’s acquisition of Marvel Studios has made our lives better, in a very nerdy way.

One daily dose of nerd, delivered. Cheers.

To be, or not to be… Mewtwo

Friday’s Nintendo Direct hit me like a ton of bricks. If I’m honest, I only just came to. It focused its whirlwind of energy on the upcoming release of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, as I’m sure you’re aware. It blew more than a few people’s minds by revealing features like 8-player Smash and the appearance of Mewtwo.

Here are my thoughts on just a few of the features mentioned in the video:
(Please assume anything in italics can be said in the Announcer’s Voice!)

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I wonder if 8-player Smash gets this intense when you zoom in!?

8-player Smash
While it is nice that we’ll be able to play 5-player and 6-player Smash the world is currently buzzing about 8-player. There’s good reason for that – it’s the greatest number of players on-screen in any Smash Bros. game ever. You might be thinking: ‘Hey announcer, why can’t I play online?’ Well that’s actually rather simple. You can’t play online because it’s just too much information to be sharing over the Nintendo servers at one time. A brawler like Smash cannot afford even one iota of lag. Let’s be perfectly honest, this kind of feature will work best in a party setting anyway. As an added bonus, Nintendo has already singled out the arenas you can play 8-player Smash in. Why is this good? I’m glad you asked. It’s good because they’ve taken the guesswork out of fighting in an arena that won’t mess you over in an 8-player skirmish. I trust their judgment here.

Master Fortress
Although I’m really excited to be writing about this now – I must say that I’m a bit upset they spoiled this one. Like every good game worth its salt, a final boss needs many forms and the Master Hand is no exception. Too bad they didn’t leave it as a surprise to the lucky cohort of players to get this on launch day. How many blogs, Facebook timelines and Twitter feeds do you think would’ve been jam packed with this information upon revelation?

Ridley
Ridley is another item I would’ve left out as a shock value element. To be revealed upon playing the game thoroughly, for the first or second time. But something tells me this one just screamed the words: ‘SELLING POINT!’

Amiibo Figures
Though I’ve been rather positive in my run-down of the upcoming release of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. I can’t help but be a little biased when I talk about the Amiibo concept. There was a time when video games were expensive enough as it is without having to buy exterior content to fully enjoy all of a game’s features. To be fair though, Nintendo is doing a good job of leaving it open as a feature, and not making it mandatory. Similar to the ability to connect GBA games to the GameCube. You had the choice, but weren’t forced to do so if budget or interest weren’t permitting. One argument I’ve formulated in favour of these toys is as follows: Most kids are going to put both videogames and figures on their wish lists this Holiday Season, why not have them all work together?

Nintendo Direct_2
Here you see a four-player board game feature, that makes interesting use of the items.

Collectibles
Challenges, trophies and masterpieces already have me itching to play a copy of this beast. There’s just the right amount of want mixed with a double-dash of need. This is a perfect recipe for a game with a metric tonne of replay value.

Nintendo Direct_3
Nintendo promises free download of Mewtwo with the purchase of both Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and for Wii U!

Mewtwo
This collectible is a no brainer. There really isn’t any debating the fact that this is a nice gesture. You buy both of the games (as many Nintendo fans are going to want to) and you get something in return. Good on them! Unfortunate that he’s still in production though – would be nice to crack open your freshly baked copy and download straight away.

Controls
Nintendo has done us all a service with this one; they listened to the needs of the Nintendotaku and they answered back. It is common knowledge that if you are to be at your best while playing a competitive title – you need the right controller! If you have your weapon of choice, there’s nothing stopping you from becoming supreme champion! I know a lot of people disagree, and they think it’s just a matter of people moaning when they’re having a bad day. I get that, I really do. Believe me, I do. Though, I think there’s something to be said for fan appreciation in this sense. Recently on a competing console I was given Street Fighter for free through their subscription program. Using the base controller for that system simply does-not-work for that game. It’s horribly designed for that kind of side-scrolling warfare. Leave it to the Big N to step up to the plate for the Home-Run Contest by giving you a choice of any controller from the last decade. Without missing a beat, both versions of the 3DS are included in that number. I know you know this, but hear me out this one came with some serious forethought on the part of HQ. Not only are you able to control the Wii U version of Smash Bros. by using the device you’ve just spent over a month mastering, but you’re proactively inviting all of your friends to bring their 3DS over for other Nintendo related mayhem! So now your friends have just shown up with a multi-player gaming device, a StreetPass machine and a controller. So nobody has to worry about having enough handsets for 8-player Smash!? There you have it folks; bringing it full-circle for the win.

Unless you do a smash attack, those will help you win too.

ASUS S1 Pocket Projector Review

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With functionality, portability, and style in mind, ASUS has created a mini projector that delivers on all fronts. Weighing in at 0.75lbs, this powerful projector is great for many applications from boardroom meetings to family movie nights at the cottage. The image is crystal clear with up to 200 lumens of brightness and at just one meter away the image projected is an impressive 41”.

It is able to connect to any compatible device (check your compatibility at www.mhlconsortium.org) with an HDMI and MHL port and has a built-in USB port as well making it great to connect and begin viewing immediately. The user interface is simple and straight forward with easy-access menu buttons on the top of the projector and a focus wheel beside the lens. The menu is very user-friendly, allowing you to change the aspect ratio, brightness, tonal value, and position of the display.

Partnering the video display, the audio playback quality on the device is excellent considering its size and weight. ASUS has installed a 2-watt speaker that produces decent sound on its own without compromising the design. With an earphone plug located in the back of the projector, it allows you to watch video with high fidelity sound in privacy so as not to disturb other people around you. The battery life is excellent as well, with a built in 6,000mAh battery built in allowing you to use the projector for up to 3 hours. Another great feature included is that the battery acts as a power bank for your mobile devices, allowing them to charge even when the projector is turned off.

Portability in mind, the projector comes with a nice leather pouch for protecting the aluminum casing and a larger, yet still compact, nylon carrying case to bring the projector and accompanying power and HDMI/MHL cables with you wherever you go.

 

When I received the ASUS S1 Projector I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had never used a projector before and hadn’t thought of buying one for my own personal use, so when I took it out of the box I was looking at it with a completely fresh view. My first instinct was to connect it to my Xbox 360 and turn on a game to see how it handled. I was pleasantly surprised. After a moment to select the language option on the S1 and turning on my Xbox 360 the system intro loaded up in crisp, clear colour instantly and I was greeted by the familiar startup sound. I honestly hadn’t expected the sound to come through the projector so well and I was excited to see I could play with headphones also. It took me a moment but I noticed that the fan inside the projector was extremely quiet and if I hadn’t been specifically listening for any humming or whirring I wouldn’t have heard it at all. As my game loaded, and I began playing, I tested the view of the display from various distances around my room. With a quick flick of the focus wheel I was able to clearly see the screen and read all of the text perfectly. My only concern was that I could see a rainbow effect or artifacts on the image once in a while which I could overlook as it did not take away from my viewing experience.

All in all, I was extremely impressed by the ASUS S1 Mobile LED Projector. It has the flexibility of being able to connect to many devices allowing you to use it for just about anything from business meetings to acting as a secondary TV for that impromptu gaming session with your friends. The ASUS S1 retails for approximately $350 making it a great gift idea for that techie in your family this Christmas.

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