A Katamari by Any Other Name

With the King of the Cosmos under some strange influence all the stars in the sky have been destroyed, and it is his son’s (The Prince) job to fix everything!

Almost fifteen years passing since the original release on the PlayStation 2, Katamari Damacy gets an HD re-release on the Nintendo Switch. While this won’t be Katamari’s first console change, it will be the first time on Nintendo’s main console. Reroll is available in both physical and digital forms with a launch price of $29.99 USD plus tax.

Most notable is the update to the graphics; a full HD makeover was given not only to in-game graphics, but to all the cut scenes as well. There is a bit more roundness to some characters, as the Prince seems less edgy in better resolution, but retains some familiar jerky motions while adding more vibrant lush colors.

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The controls are usable and by no means inhibit game play from the original. However, they feel a bit less coordinated having smaller knobs and they are separated considerably more than when the original concept was conceived. Having the Joy-Cons free of the console seems to be the way to go unless the pro controller is available, which handles a little closer to the original game. A two-player mode is also available in split screen versus, and a local co-op mode that unfortunately I did not try.

As far as game play goes, it’s the original map out. Notable features, such as the ability to jump, that became popular in some of the sequels aren’t present. This could be to keep the levels a challenge as they were originally meant to be challenged, but it did take some adjustment not having a jump and a less forgiving speed roll.

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Listening to the game was a joy as always, with the game’s distinct soundtrack along with its charmingly quirky sound effects, Katamari ReRoll is a game that absolutely must be played with the original music. Every stage the track can start off as a relaxing start to a round and adding to the frantic disposition of only being only a few cm short while the timer ticks down to the limit.

The only disappoint with audio was a personal one, as there is no option to have the side videos in English like they were on the PlayStation release. Although I fully support exposure to the Japanese culture that inspired this gem of a game, the original English dubs were hilarious to listen to, and I wish there was an option to turn them on.

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Conclusively, this game is a gem even fourteen years after its launch. With a low price for a HD re-release of a gem with good replay-ability, this game is a great grab for either fans of the series or newcomers looking for a relaxing and quirky game.

Pros:
-The updates are an eye to behold.
-It feels right to have this title on the Switch.

Cons:
-Slightly inferior control handling.
-Missing features from other sequels may take a small adjustment from those who haven’t played the original in a while.

Final Score: 4 out of 5

The Pros and Cons of 2018

With the year winding down and just a few weeks left (still plenty of time for more surprises to be fair) let’s look at some of the notable events that occurred this year.


Gaming

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Pros:

Red Dead Redemption 2: A world that not only meets the status quo of Rockstar, but exceeds it with the amount of detail, depth of story, and seemingly endless hours of game play (with online still on the way).

Synchronizing online play: Despite some disputes on how it will all work, there has been a rise in cross-platform online play. While Fortnite is currently the only game to work across all platforms, Rocket League, Minecraft, and Hover are examples of games that play with more than the platform you may own them on.

With Microsoft supporting purchases across PC and Xbox with their play anywhere initiative, it looks to be a positive future regardless of your platform of choice.

SSBU: Possibly the final entry in the series (at least with Masahiro Sakari at the helm), this game delivers every single good thing you’ve experienced in a Smash Bros game and then some.  Touting an epic proportioned story mode and the largest cast of fighters yet, this is a must grab for any Switch owner out there.

Spider-Man: Although this is only for the PS4, when a Spider-man game is good, it’s great! Everything you could hope for in a sandbox superhero game and a bit more.

Cons:

Tell Tale: The company hit it big years ago with their Walking Dead series and came out with some promising titles after including their takes on Minecraft, Batman, and Game of Thrones. However, their lack of game play variation and poor management saw a very ugly end to the company.

Fall Out 76: This game was either going to be a hit or a miss.  Unfortunately, the launch was a huge miss.  Between the messy BETA, the amount of glitches, and the over reliance of multiplayer to compensate for the lack of story and NPC’s, the launch has been messy to say the least. It’s now lead many players to wait until Bethesda can provide more incentive to dive into their new Fall Out experiment.


Music

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Pros:

Honestly, this has been a great year for music in this writer’s opinion.  With releases like Kid Cudi’s Kids See Ghost,Anderson Paak’s Oxnard, Pusha T’s Daytona, Idles Joy as an Act of Resistance, Portal’s Ion, Sophie’s Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides, Kanye’s Ye, and Brockhampton’s Iridescence to name a few album titles there was really at least two albums in most genres this year that were great to amazing to listen to.

Cons:

The cons aren’t long in length, aside from some inflated drama with celebrities, the biggest hits came in those who passed in 2018.  One of the most tragic losses being that of Mac Miller who passed away due to an accidental overdose. Mac Miller’s untimely passing was felt by many, and his positive influence on the world will be missed even by those who never got the chance to meet him.


Cinema and Showtime

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Pros:

Marvel, hands down the current king on the super hero genre and Infinity War was a true epic to everything that had come before, with more to come this next year.  Worth catching in the theaters and a fresh take on the whole Avengers formula.

Broly is coming, again.  With the mixed success of Dragon Ball Super, a new movie is on its way and while it has yet to hit, the impact of the trailers alone is palpable and is promising an anime movie release to rival that of the Pokémon franchise.

Whether it’s via broadcast or streaming service, television shows may be at its peak right now.  The only real problem is there may be too much worthwhile content.  It’s hard to keep up with things on Netflix, Hulu, and network shows from Fox, NBC, Showtime and so on.

With a controversial split between Marvel and Guardians of the Galaxy’s director James Gunn, Warner Bros. wasted no time in penning Gunn as the new director of the sequel to Suicide Squad. One of the silver linings of the fall out is the sequel to one of DC’s bigger disappointments is getting a promising upgrade in direction.

Cons:

Marvel is also on the con side of things.  The whole franchise is huge and has plans to keep growing, but the burn out can be felt by some casual movie goers and fans alike.

To bookend the Marvel expansion issue, is the seeming end of the Netflix Marvel universe with the end of Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Daredevil, all announced this year.  It’s not too surprising considering Disney is now going forward with their own streaming service, but is still a blow to those that enjoyed what some of these series offered on the service.

YouTube may not be considered a television or movie source (at least not legally), but it is becoming harder for new content creators to be interested in coming to the site. YouTube’s ability to pay its creators has been coming under repeated scrutiny over the past few years it does not seem to be heading for a positive resolution, especially with the EU’s Article 13 (see more here). There is some worry about any appeal to this platform’s future.


Conclusion

All in all it has been an eventful year yet again in all types of ways. We had so much to be thankful for with new groud breaking in all areas of pop culture. The bad always comes with the good and it can only be taken in stride as we continue to see and enjoy the  innovation in what we as consumers enjoy so much. We can only hope for more of the good (without more of the bad) as 2019 quickly approaches. So lets say a so long to 2018 and embrace the new year with open arms.

Embrace the New Year and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for the latest news @tehlunchboxpub!

Happy 20th Anniversary Half-Life from Wookiefragger Gaming!

Hello to all of our followers and newcomers. Here’s a special piece from our friend over at Wookiefragger Gaming.


The First-Person shooter is one of the most popular and enduring game genres, with a rich history that includes some of the most important video games ever made. In the 2000s, shooters would come to flood the market, and with each passing year, it became more difficult for the cream to rise to the top, but in the 1990s, the genre was marked by mighty classics that stood out like redwoods among the bushes. I’m referring to games like Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem 3D, Goldeneye… and Half-Life.


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“A person seemingly with no voice, the character of Gordon Freeman only emerges through his actions, and with no morality -or lack thereof ascribed to him by anything other than the decisions of the player”

During that decade, realtime 3D graphics were going through some rapid growth spurts, and standing apart from the rest of the pack was often accomplished by trying out new ideas as the technology allowed, but sometimes, a game could distinguish itself by polishing ideas that were previously explored, but limited by hardware constraints, and Half-Life is pretty much the exemplar of this. Some of the greatest strengths of the first-person genre are its intensity, instant gratification, and its ability to immerse players into the mindset of the game, and Valve, the developers of played to these strengths by designing the game as one long, continuous environment, broken up only by the occasional loading screen. But never a level transition.

The primary setting of the game (the Black Mesa Research facility), is a fully realized setting, with dark secrets, strange quirks, and a cold, cynical logic in its design. Much like Shadow Moses Island in Metal Gear Solid, Black Mesa is a place where the left hand was never intended to know what the right hand was doing, and now that things have gone wrong, the powers responsible are still trying to manipulate events from the shadows, with the player caught in the middle.

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“The primary setting of the game (the Black Mesa Research facility), is a fully realized setting, with dark secrets, strange quirks, and a cold, cynical logic in its design”

In Metal Gear, this meant Solid Snake, but in Half-Life, this just means you. Well, technically it means Gordon Freeman, (Half-Life’s protagonist) but Gordon is a character devoid of characterization. A person seemingly with no voice, the character of Gordon Freeman only emerges through his actions, and with no morality -or lack thereof ascribed to him by anything other than the decisions of the player. While the game mostly only lets you interact with situations and people in terms of violence, not everyone in the game is an enemy, and the possibility for selfishness exists in these interactions with friendly non-player characters. Do you try to save the scientists, or just try to survive? Do you ask the guard to accompany you, or do you take his weapon for yourself? In terms of the greater plot, these moments don’t count for much, but, assuming that you finish the game, how you played it will have defined whether or not Gordon was a hero, or just a survivor.


Half-Life’s impact on first-person game design really cannot be overstated. The game made heavy use of scripted sequences in order to advance its plot as well as to shock, astound, or otherwise provide satisfaction to the player, and all of this without ever resorting to the use of cut scenes. While games at large wouldn’t ultimately treat in-game scripted sequences as an alternative to cinematics, their use became a staple of the medium in the years following Half-Life’s arrival, and these kinds of sequences are often among the most memorable parts of any game. It certainly -obviously- wasn’t the first game to marry the progression of a game’s story with the actual act of playing the game, and that’s not the kind of credit I’m trying to give it here. However, it did it all so expertly that once the game proved to be a commercial triumph, an entire industry snapped to attention and started taking notes.

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“Half-Life’s impact on first-person game design really cannot be overstated. The game made heavy use of scripted sequences in order to advance its plot as well as to shock, astound, or otherwise provide satisfaction to the player”

When compared to the other classic shooters of its day, Half-Life didn’t distinguish itself through its technical or gameplay innovations. Instead, it was distinguished by its craft. A frantic and chaotic thrill ride with an eerie science-fiction yarn, and sold by detailed environments and intense scenarios it sparked positive changes in first-person game design. It is still a source of pure excitement for gamers, as well as inspiration for developers. Every part of what made Half-Life great could be seen in other games before its arrival, but collected and employed in the service of Gordon Freeman’s harrowing adventure, each separate element sings together in harmony. It is this culmination of possibilities that makes Half-Life a shining example of the genre, and to this day, it still stands as one of the finest testaments to the potential of the first-person shooter.


Thanks again to Wookiefragger Gaming! Subscribe to his YouTube channel for more if you liked what you read. And feel free to follow us on twitter @TehLunchboxPub!

Best of E3 2018

Since E3 has ended, it’s given me some time to contemplate the games I found that stood out to me the most. It was tough. We were treated to so many announcements, but there were some definitive trailers that have caught my eye.

Image result for assassins creed odysseyAssassin’s Creed Odyssey

Set within the glorious Greece timeline, we’re introduced to familiar but fresh combat systems and flexibility with a whole new twist on our main character and the overall development they acquire from the trailer.
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2018’s Electronic Entertainment Expo: Best in Show?

Another E3 has come and gone with surprising annoucements, reveals, and more games to be looking forward to later this year and the following year, it’s that time again to discuss which game truly stood and which conference takes the gold.


At this year’s E3, many games were shown off that grabbed our attention, and our wallets, although only a handful of titles truly deserved it.

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Fighting Familiar Puzzles

 

I need to start this review with a warning, this game is meant to be addictive and does have gambling elements to it. If you are aware of being susceptible to any form of gambling or have issues spending money in-game to the point it impacts your everyday life; then please turn away now. I am not putting this here as a slight against Puzzle Fighter alone, but this cash grab model that is in most of the mobile games out there. I would feel disingenuous without giving attention to this aspect of the game.


Puzzle Fighter from Capcom, has been one of the bigger puzzle games in history. Nothing too special about it, it is a Tetris-style game with exploding gems instead of pre-shaped blocks, break the blocks down to attack your opponent and first one to cause their opponent to overstack wins. This game gained fandom by featuring Pocket Fighter renditions of Street Fighter and Dark Stalkers characters as playable avatars just clicked.

The game has been re-released and has had some slight tweaks to gameplay since its original PlayStation release. Some of them consist of it includes being available for download on the Playstation Store (PS3) and Xbox Marketplace (360). However, the mobile release now features 3D character models and a roster expanding with more Capcom characters such as Viewtiful Joe, Dante, Nash, and Phoenix Wright.


GamePlay Change

With it being a mobile game you obviously can’t have matches going on too long, and I think that this aspect of the game is pretty interesting. With the inclusion of health bars you need to cause enough damage through breaking chains of gems, as well as combine larger gems to accumulate enough damage to defeat your opponent. Also, destroying enough gems will build your special bar which will allow you to perform a single press Super Attack that deals direct damage to your opponent. And to keep your opponents guessing, the moves your avatar performs can be changed out to perform more damage or cause status changes to make the matches a bit more strategic and dynamic. To top all of that off, you play with a team of 3 and their affinities and assists will help to add wrinkles to your gameplay style.

Gameplay isn’t flawless though. A level up system has been added, along with a card collecting aspect to level up your avatars and their moves. However, unlocking characters seems to be done so by pure luck. To add to that, you have to rank up to gain access for the chance to unlock a new character at random. All of these aspects are built in as a clear attempt to make the game pay to play. Annnnd, it kinda does?


Randomizing

There is a level of excitement to be had in getting something at random. It makes getting the thing you want feel more significant than if you could just purchase it (hopefully with in game currency), but the game has so many randomized elements it grows tiring really quickly. You see, part of the appeal of this franchise is playing as your favorite character and playing with your skill to compete or just play a quick mindless game. When the player has to worry about leveling up their character constantly to stay relevant or have to use characters they do not want to in the hopes of unlocking MegaMan X through ranking up it lessens the experience. Winning enough boats and chests, or paying for an in game loot-box(chest) that will guarantee a character and some random cards and in game coins doesn’t seem very exciting either. To add frustration to anxiety, in order to upgrade a character; not only must an increasing amount of cards be collected to keep level up a character’s moveset, an in game currency is required to upgrade those moves. The standard pay out of these items is definitely tipped to make you either grind to unlock what you want, or cave and pay to be the best.

Really there is just too much randomized chance in this game and not enough player choice. If you have a friend or look online for people to post their ID Names to add them, you can choose to play with someone from your friend list if they are online as well, but the search option isn’t a search option. You’d need to know the exact ID to add someone and cannot search for active players. The Rank up matches would be your only access to other players online. And since winning those matches comes with prizes, that would most likely be the best option for a quick player vs player match.

To be completely fair, there are some milestone chests that can be unlocked through doing daily missions, playing the mission matches, and playing lots of PvP ranked games. Season and Mid-Season chests given to every player to which the contents vary depending on the player’s rank which break up the monotony. And there’s also a fair amount of drops for every kind of item in the game that makes it feel a bit fair. The high spikes in costs for items however, (you’ll start hitting them around level 6 for most characters) quickly unbalances the game with level caps at 15.


Satisfaction

The gameplay itself stays true to the series. Customizable characters, an expanded roster help a lot. And the addition of supers as well as a health based win system feels different in a good way. However, it’s slowed down by the money grab being done by Capcom with the game’s grind/pay to play nature. I still enjoy having a game or two if it’s just for a couple of minutes and if I am worried about my connection, I can do a mission for a for sure quick uninterrupted game. On a side note, I’d recommend this on tablet over the phone, as interruptions can ruin some PvP matches.

For those who do not like the changes, there are occasional classic style events where you can win up to 12 matches, but if you lose more than 3 you are out. I really like the set up of these tournaments, and while every player has their character set to max level to even the playing field, you are still limited to characters and moves you have already unlocked. But it is an event so it is not always available.


Final Thoughts

The game itself is good for a quick match every now and then. I turn off the notifications and just play it when I have an itch. If you have friends that are into this game it’ll be fun to play with them from time to time, and the gameplay is enjoyable, just some of the mechanics are broken purely for greed.


Recommends

Honestly, I think this game shouldn’t be free. I would have been willing to pay mabey $3-$5(?) for a complete offline mode of this game to really enjoy quick matches on the go with optional online features. I’d also either remove the level up system or make it less of a hassle to do. I wouldn’t even have everything unlocked right away either.

Bring back in-game unlockables. I mean, there’s no better feeling than pulling off a combo, or beating a certain opponent, or completing a character’s arcade mode run. Then there’s the added bonus of getting a reward in the form of a new character or a secret special move. Unlocakbles don’t need to be insane to achieve, and I’m sure there would be people to double their payment to unlock everything. But honestly, both those ideas beat the all to common loot box scheme going on everywhere else.


Pros:

Updated gameplay that stays faithful to the series
Large cast of characters (Still expanding as of the writing of this article)
Strategic layers
Easy to pick up and put down

Cons:

Pay to win
Limited Player Choice at first
Hard to make friends in-game
3D models (This is my preference, but the 2D models from previous entries are superior)


Riley R. is a contributing writer for Teh Lunchbox Publications! For all your news, up to date information, previews, and reviews on the entertainment world, keep it here on tehlunchboxpub.wordpress.com and LIKE and FOLLOW us on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch!

Lights Out: This Summer’s Scare

Martin is experiencing a horrifying apparition every time the lights are out in his home. He tries to convince and ask for help from his mom, but doing so he is told to go to back to bed. His grades and sanity are jeopardized because of his night time scares, and his older sister tries to take custody over him when his mother doesn’t pick him up from school. We find out that his sister has been having these troubles in her past as well. The apparition the two are seeing has come from their mothers past an torment their family.

As soon as the movie starts, you get the jump scares. The jump scare scenes are actually disturbingly creepy although pretty well done. We get mannequins for the first jump scare, and it doesn’t disappoint. There are really only two scenes that really scared me. I was only anticipating the scare and the characters trying to protect themselves from the apparition.

Now the plot was pretty fast paced. We get an explanation of the monster and the relation to the characters back-story in 3 scenes and we get the characters trying to figure out how to stop the creature for the rest of the film. The pacing of the story was pretty good among the jump scares. The creature was not designed very well, however, she had a grudge kinda look and an obscured face with only glowing eyes showing. That’s a lazy kind of design right there if you ask me. Another problem I have is that the movie feels rushed. We did get everything we needed for the movie, but it just felt really short which is not a bad thing. It was well done however; it had nothing new to put out to the horror genre.

Lights out gets 3 out of 5

+ exceedingly creepy ideas put to scare

+ gave the creature purpose and backstory

+setup is creepy

-needed more plot and character development

– feels rushed

-something more interesting needed to be added


 10628120_1145366598809304_2350042831562140609_nGaylene A. is the lead artist and contributing writer for Teh Lunchbox Publications! For all your news, up to date information, previews, and reviews on the entertainment world, keep it here on tehlunchboxpub.wordpress.com and LIKE and FOLLOW us on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch!

Sausage Party: Scar You for Life

The R- rated animated film that no kid should ever see… or anybody who has any sanity left. Sausage Party is about a world of processed food items living their cushy lives until they finally get picked by the gods, (which are humans). To be taken to the other side (which is outside the grocery store) which they were told that they will be taken to a better place. However their world is turned upside down after Frank (Seth Rogan) learns the truth about going to the outside. After warning the grocery store and his pals, he must devise a plan to escape the humans.


Jumping into this movie I’m not going to lie, I did do some research on spoiler free YouTube reviews. What I got from it is that, this movie was supposed to parody Disney and Pixar movies. Low and behold it did. Now, I may be crucified for typing this but, this movie was not as bad as many (such as myself) thought it would be. Let me start with the good, the highlight of this movie is the jokes. And holy cow are they done well. There was a lot of raunchy sex, religion, stereotype, and rape jokes, a lot of pop culture references that made the jokes make sense in the movie. The jokes were done very well.

A lot of the characters were also themselves puns for the jokes in the movie. There’s a lot I can say about the jokes that fit into the movie. The Villain, was also the highlight of the movie. I can’t say a lot about him without spoiling the movie but, his character literally is a ‘joke’ he’s written and his voice actor did a fantastic job. Now, the animation is pretty decent. It’s not hideous (Only the humans are cg’d pretty hideously) every single detail made into the characters, the backgrounds are bright and pleasing for every situational scene made. The only animated scene that was visually unlikable was the “certain” CRINGEY scene you get at the end. I’m just gonna say this, that scene really didn’t need to be in this movie at all. Overall, the only thing that didn’t set well with my stomach was that scene and other cringe scenes. I think that scene was the only thing that was keeping people from watching it. This movie wasn’t bad, just don’t expect to see food the same way again.

Sausage Party gets 3.5 out of 5

+ The jokes were amazing

+ The twist at the end was great

+ Very entertaining if you turn off your brain

-Not for everyone

– The cringe scene was real

– Sometimes the jokes ran on too long

10628120_1145366598809304_2350042831562140609_nGaylene A. is the lead artist and contributing writer for Teh Lunchbox Publications! For all your news, up to date information, previews, and reviews on the entertainment world, keep it here on tehlunchboxpub.wordpress.com and LIKE and FOLLOW us on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch!

Krampus Christmas: Naughty, Nice, or maybe Not?

This horror-comedy Christmas tale, beckons a tale of a huge holiday family reunion gone horribly wrong. Young Max and his dysfunctional family, get an overwhelming visit from their Aunt Linda, Uncle Howard, their three annoying children and obnoxious Aunt Dorothy. Max, wanting to have a wholesome good Christmas with his whole family is constantly brought down by the hijinks and Christmas commotion of his “charismatic” visitors and his parents, snaps and shuts himself in his room.  Max loses hope in having a good Christmas and rips up his letter to Santa in which chaos ensues.

A massive blizzard appears the upcoming day and Krampus’s nightmarish minions seize the entire neighborhood and close into Max’s family. Now, they must fight against these nightmarish creatures and fight for survival and protect each other.

If anyone has ever heard or read the tale of Krampus, forget about it because it is nothing like the movie. While watching this movie, you have to remember, it’s a comedy-horror. This movie battled both with its comedic and horror parts. When it comes to comedy and horror combined, it was really hard to take anything seriously even when they were trying to be serious. Although when they did have serious moments, it was really hard to care for the characters because of its inconsistent characterization. Having high expectations for this movie I was quite disappointed, but I can say it had great effects as the monsters looked amazingly creepy. The acting was fine (If you’ve ever seen anything with David Koechner), the progression of the movie was weak and expected, but the final turnout of the movie stayed true to the horror concept.

Final verdict: I am ashamed that they didn’t use actual folklore for the movie. I’m just nit-picking but they could’ve done a better job with  storytelling and credibility.  I can say that it is entertaining holiday movie and if you’re into black comedy, check out Krampus.

Krampus gets 3 out of 5

+ The monsters are creepy! (Krampus’s creature model is perfect)

+ Tries to have creative storytelling

+  Something to watch for the holidays

Inconsistent characterization

Needs better execution of overall story

Jump scares were cut out, or not as effective


10628120_1145366598809304_2350042831562140609_nGaylene A. is the lead artist and contributing writer for Teh Lunchbox Publications! For all your news, up to date information, previews, and reviews on the entertainment world, keep it here on tehlunchboxpub.wordpress.com and LIKE and FOLLOW us on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch!

 

The Gulf (All You Can Eat): From the Staff

As an individual that enjoys pop culture, I actually don’t frequent many conventions (when I say I don’t frequent them I 1 001mean I don’t enjoy them much at all). There’s a myriad of reasons why, but that’s not what this is about. What it is about though is this amazing annual convention that I went to in Small Press Expo (SPX). Since its inaugural year in 1994, SPX has become well renowned as a longstanding festival for writers and artists from all over the world to share their own independent comics and artwork. The intimacy of the festival in addition to being an outlet for these artists to present and sell their works that aren’t accessible through more commercial means is what instantly piqued my interest. As I made my way through the small (but immensely crowded) venue, I made it to this small booth in the corner of the room and here is this young and charming indie artist by the name of Nguyen Khoi Nguyen. I walk up assuming to do the same thing I always do at these things (or the few I have been to); browse around, window shop a little… and walk away (I’m broke, sue me). But this time was different. It didn’t take long at all for him to ingratiate himself as opposed to simply shilling whatever he had on display. Our short conversation did inevitably (as it should have) lead to his current work and what I found out is that sometimes less really is more.

Now many want to try to share their vision with the world through the extraordinary. Fantasy
and fiction rule the world of comics and graphic novels with an iron fist. Buyers (like me) consume their fill of super-powered heroes struggling against whatever opposition floats the author’s boat. We all by our share of illustrations depicting people in extenuating circumstances whether it be a post-apocalyptic land of mutant people or a futuristic setting where the planet is taken over by a technologically advanced overlord. Tales of life, death, love, action, and adventure, get told over and over in these works and while always fun, can be overwhelming (or underwhelming). For a serene break from the norm, I suggest The Gulf (All You Can Eat).

2 002This multimedia graphic novel illustrates the life (both past and present) of author, Nguyen Khoi Nguyen and his Vietnamese-American family. It may seem unassuming at first glance, but it is filled with interesting hidden gems of humor and captivates you in a fascinating way when you finish. Even the chapters themselves flip both between the author’s life as a young child growing up in Cape Coral, Florida in 1987 and a fairly interesting conversation had between his brother and sister in his current home of Washington D.C. Now as a hyper-exuberant kid whose family owns a Chinese buffet restaurant, one would expect the hi jinks to ensue a fair amount… and you’d be right. 2 004It is so funny to see these young siblings (his brother and sister are very prominent characters) and never fails to put a smile on my face as it resembles my own siblings a great deal. The art seems simple in the beginning, but the subtle use of music and traditional vernacular all help to bring life to the panels and the story in an original way. The dialogue is honest and endears you to the characters as if you know them yourself (or know people like them in your life).

In the scene of modern-day art (of any genre), ego reigns supreme and everyone is trying to make the biggest story alive in a thinly veiled attempt to make themselves a larger name. Sometimes, it’s creating the most convoluted piece you can, and sometimes it’s pandering to the lowest common denominator (and those things don’t have to be mutually exclusive). “Pretentious” can be a common word for me to use, but rarely could I use the word “humble” 2 003for a lot of works that I’ve seen. Fortunately for me, The Gulf is the embodiment of the term “humble”. So many times we pick up a book and use it to escape reality and whatever problems we have. While it can be fun and therapeutic, sometimes we become so disconnected from what reality is we lose sight of what is important. Nguyen Khoi Nguyen has created a piece of work in which its strongest asset and appeal isn’t the flash and flare of other comics or novels. It isn’t the grandiose and intimidating expansion of its world. It isn’t any of the common tropes of other written works (highly regarded or not). It is the intrinsic ability minimize the experience for the reader and relate to the common experiences of people through the life of the author and his family. It’s a reminder of the importance of love and family and that maybe the escape that people are looking for can be found in the catacombs of one’s fond memories of their youth (and we all have our fair share).It’s definitely what I would describe as a “colorful” autobiography shaped in the form of a graphic novel. The chapters (4 available, 10 total scheduled) are short in length, but gives you your fill of fun and a bit of introspection. It’s not an ambitious read at all, and why should it be? It’s fun stories about a guy and his family bound together by the business of food and personal experiences. It is reflective in its own right and for me, it’s got everything I need when I want to take a break from what I usually read. It’s a good read and I am happy that I got a chance to pick it up when I did. Nguyen Khoi Nguyen is an intriguing man. He’s a jazz musician and a filmmaker on top of his aptitude for comic art. If you want to purchase his work, you can find it on iBooks or tiny.cc/nguyenmade. To learn more, check out his website at ngknguyen.com. I think it’ll be worth anyone’s time.


Stephon W. is a contributing Editor for Teh Lunchbox Publications and sorry, he doesn’t do social media. But you can follow the team on facebook (Teh Lunchbox Publications), and on twitter @tehlunchboxpub