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Podcast: Nostalgia Pilots Bonus 02

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Bonus Episode 2: Gundam Versus

Hugh and Jason take a break from regular Nostalgia Pilots duties to discuss the latest PS4 Gundam offering: Gundam Versus! Get their reviews, impressions, and what they felt was missing in the game. Hint: it’s a horse piloting a horse mobile suit.

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Hugh Likes Video Games: Steamworld Heist

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Steamworld Heist
Published by Image & Form
Played on PS4/PS VIta

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The Skinny: Take command of a ragtag crew of space pirates in this surprising strategy RPG.

‘Steamworld Heist’ is an unusual choice for a follow up to indie studio Image & Form’s well-received exploratory platformer ‘Steamworld DIg.’ In this installment, the developers take their lighthearted steampunk aesthetic into new directions: Space, and the tactics genre.
The plot centers around Captain Piper Faraday as she rebuilds her crew and goes for scores in The Outskirts. When a gang of outlaws called the Scrappers start menacing innocent bots, Piper steps in to steal from the bandits, and get to the bottom of the strange occurrences in the Outskirts.
The series maintains much of the humor and aesthetic from Dig, and keeps a side-on perspective that makes navigation easy. Each enemy ship is a level, and levels can be replayed for better loot and experience. The combat system actually works very well. Each bot gets a set amount of movement, and can attack or perform unique actions. Shooting requires a steady aim, which adds some skill into the mix. Failure costs gallons, but doesn’t throw off the pace of the game, and isn’t too penalizing. Players can always go back and level up or try for better gear and try again.
With plenty to do and collect, and a well-rounded roster that grows over the course of the game, ‘Steamworld Heist’ is a pleasant and addictive little tactical adventure that does everything right. The game has a good length of about 25 hours. The writing is charming and doesn’t outstay its welcome. It gets my full recommendation.
‘Steamworld Heist’ is available from Steam, or for most Nintendo and Sony consoles.

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Podcast: Nostalgia Pilots 08

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Episode 8: More Like The Sanctimonious Kingdom

Welcome to Nostalgia Pilots!

Today Hugh, Jason and Jurd examine Gundam Wing Episode 8: The Treize assassination!

In which Treize is both stronger and fancier than Wu Fei, Lady Une learns a valuable lesson about not blowing up California, and Zechs goes on a stealth mission.

Plus, Heero has a 10% chance of success but he can definitely do it.

Thanks for listening!

Podcast: CCR40: The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

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The Chrononauts descend to the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera house and go horseback riding with Erik in this silent horror classic.

Click HERE to listen to the podcast!

and HERE to watch the movie on Youtube!

Chrononaut Cinema Reviews is presented by http://skinner.fm and http://hughjodonnell.com, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

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Fiction: The Halloween Gig

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“What the p’nong is this?” I said, slamming the plastic crate onto polished a synthsteel table. Amy, the bartender, turned around from where she was hanging some kind of banner.
“It’s your costume for tonight, sweetie.” She went back to the hanging, a pattern of orange circles, white ovals, and black crescents, each with a crude printed face. The shapes vibrated gently in station gravity.
“Costume for what?” I picked up the box with my lower arms and riffled through it with my upper ones. It was a length of cheap black plasticloth. I examined it for a minute before figuring out it was a sort of cloak, with holes for my head and all six appendages. The sleeves were all tattered and trailing, and the hood was so deep my head wouldn’t even be visible. It seemed a terrible choice for a musician.
“It’s Halloween, silly!” She didn’t even turn this time. “You agreed to play holidays.”
“Proper holidays,” I said, grimacing. “The Eclipse Festival, Harmonics Night, Harvest of Poetry.” I knew I was being petulant, but I made an attempt. Humans expected it from their musicians.
“It’s a big party night on Earth, we’re expecting a lot of traffic, so wear the costume.” That was when I noticed her face paint. It was a vivid shade of green. She was wearing an impractical black gown instead of her usual ship suit. A pointed black hat rested on the bar.
“Then why haven’t you cleaned properly?” I asked, taking in the room for the first time. The counters and corners were covered with wispy strands of white plant fiber. The stage was dusty, and the edifice of a ruin had been left there.
“Those are decorations, Ch’Brun.”
“They’re unsettling.”
“I was going for spooky.”
“Just what kind of holiday is this?” I asked. My elders thought I was crazy to run off to human space chasing gigs. Sometimes I agreed with them.
“For some humans, it’s a day of remembrance for the dead, but for others it’s a day for dressing up, eating candy, and getting scared.”
“Wait, your civilization frightens itself for fun?” I wasn’t surprised. Humanity seemed to have a collective fetish for destructive behavior. But since I was already working in an establishment that served weak poison as a recreational activity, this didn’t seem out of character for the species. “That’s so human. Give me a few standard hours to research and I’ll see what I can do.”
A few hours later, I took the stage. It was dark, it was grimy, and the house was full, just as she said. There were humans in all kinds of costumes, mostly mythological archetypes like Amy’s witch and a variety of living corpses. Humans have a ton of hangups about death, I guess. There were also costumes based on characters from popular entertainment programs, historical figures, and even elaborate jokes. It was all very weird, but it made a kind of sense. The humans came from a world with only one sun, which meant they had as much darkness as light. They lived in a world that developed scientific understanding of the universe relatively late, and was delayed by a few notable collapses of civilization. They had a talent for stories. So they found ways to laugh at the darkness. They practiced scaring themselves so they wouldn’t be afraid.
I fluttered my robe dramatically as I sat down on the fake step and pulled out my instrument. It was a fretted, stringed instrument similar to human ones, but it had multiple resonating chambers and was meant to be played with all six hands. Amy nick-named it the Ultra-Cello, and it kind of stuck, although my music teacher back home would probably have fits if they heard. In deference to the holiday, I had placed a representation of a human skull over the pegbox.
I flourished my arms, waiting for silence, then began to perform an ancient traditional hymn I discovered in my afternoon’s research. I sang out, a voice shouting against the darkness. The crowd cheered in recognition and glee, and sang along with religious enthusiasm.
“I was working in the lab late one night…”

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Cover photo by Derek Hatfield, used under a Creative Commons, Attribution license.

Podcast: NP07-Murderholics Anonymous

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Episode 7: Murderholics Anonymous

Welcome back to another episode of Nostalgia Pilots!

This week, the crew watches Gunadm Wing Episode 7: Scenario For Bloodshed!

In which General Septum has a terrible voice actor, Lady Une is so good at her job she defies physics, and Wu Fei is the voice of reason?

Plus, Relena engages in extreme flower arranging, and the Nostalgia Pilots fall down several rabbit holes.

Hugh Likes Fiction: Vampire Hunter D

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Vampire Hunter D
Written by Hideyuki Kikuchi
Illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano
Translated by Kevin Leahy
Published by DH Books

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The Skinny: Kikuchi blends Horror, Sci-FI, and Western tropes into an exciting novel, but the penny dreadful style keeps it a guilty pleasure.

It’s Dracula Season once again! The time of year when I turn my blog over to all manner of spooky content. And today we’re looking at Hideyuki Kikuchi’s original novel, Vampire Hunter D.
In the year 12,090 A.D, post-nuclear war humanity rises from the ashes, only to be enslaved by ancient horrors, the vampires. But even their immortal reign is not absolute, and as their empire crumbles, a single vampire hunter, half-human and half-vampire, rides the frontier. When he meets a teenage girl on the side of the road, a victim of her local vampire lord, he becomes embroiled in saving her from the count, his daughter, and the fearful townsfolk.
Vampire Hunter D is a whole-hearted embrace of genre. It mixes Western, Horror, and Science Fictions aesthetics to create something both iconic and familiar. Kikuchi’s love for black-and-white horror movies is evident, and the book is sprinkled with cameos and references, beginning with the villainous Count Lee. The sci-fi tropes stand up surprisingly well alongside the horror aspects. The world of the frontier is grim, and humanity lives mostly in the ruins, first of the modern world, then of the fantastic one created by the vampire civilization. But as powerless and preyed upon as they are, Kikuchi’s vision of humanity is still resilient and relentless, ready to conquer the challenges in front of them no matter how long it takes. D, the mysterious rider in black, takes up most of the oxygen in the story, but the world building is constantly surprising and delightful.
Unfortunately, not all of the tropes Kikuchi takes stock in are as amusing. His female characters in particular come up short. Doris is at turns shown as strong, smart, and capable, but she is constantly in need of rescue, and is almost totally valued as an object. In this short novel, she’s stark naked at least twice, and is threatened with rape more than once. These tropes also go back to the tone and trappings of the Western and Horror genres that Kikuchi revels in, but the sexism in this book leaves a bitter aftertaste to the more engaging parts.
The book is also illustrated by powerhouse artist Yoshitaka Amano, and he brings a heavier pen and ink style to these illustrations that are a stark contrast to the watercolors he is more generally known for, such as his character designs.
Vampire Hunter D is a thrilling adventure novel with genre trappings, over the top prose, and some problematic choices on the part of the author. You can find it in ebook and print from your favorite retailer.

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