The Culture HUD

The Culture HUD’s Fightin’ February!!

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In my time as a gamer, I never gave fighting games the attention that they probably deserved. I am talking about an entire industry that was innovating, expanding and most importantly, having a really fun time, all while I was off playing narratively-compelling walking simulators. So I decided to talk a journey to the opposite side of the spectrum with Injustice: Gods Among Us, and had really good time doing do. It was a tough to get the hang of an entirely new style, especially one based on constant practice and the pursuit of mastery, but I found myself thoroughly enamored with this once distant genre.

In honor of this sudden revelation, I have dedicated the month of February to exploring the popular fighting game titles: 1) Because I feel obligated to fully commit myself to this new experience, and 2) because it will give me some time to get the funds for the other big titles coming out this year. Monster Hunter World looks brilliant, but so does Shadow of the Colossus, and I am not rolling in $100 of cash to blow. Below is a list of reviews you can expect during the month of Fightin’ February. I may add more depending on how many games I pick up.

Injustice 2

Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR-

Mortal Kombat XL

Tekken 7

Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition (maybe)

Pokken Tournament DX (pending Nintendo Switch purchase)

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Welcome to The Culture HUD

Here on my website, I talk about different forms of entertainment and my impressions of each work. The content of The Culture HUD includes reviews, discussions and listicles of video games, movies, television and anime. My body of writing will cover looks into the past, commentary on the present, and speculation for the future. Enjoy!

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Video Game Review – Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator

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Spend any time on the internet, and you will hear PC gamers complain about how game companies always screw up the computer ports. Now you as a console player can experience the same gnawing agony of a game that can barely translate between its different interfaces. Guilty Gear Xrd (pronounced ex-ard) Revelator is an arcade game through and through, and screw you for thinking you could hack it on a PlayStation controller! I could contort my hands to match the combo needs, or I could play a fighting game designed with consoles in mind to begin with.

Still, the game comes with unrivaled visual spectacle, bonkers original characters, and enough fun to be had in short bursts (almost like this was supposed to be a game you played at an arcade). Weirdly enough, reviewers and fighting game community pundits praised for this title for its kindness to new players. I can see what they meant, but unless that newbie has a joystick attachment, nothing about this game will be approachable for them.

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Video Game Review – Mortal Kombat XL

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The second title for Fightin’ February is another NetherRealm Studios entry, but one renowned within fighting game circles. I played the latest installment in the Mortal Kombat series and had a fantastic time doing so. This studio continues to deliver strong combat systems and visceral action (with particular emphasis on visceral). Brutalities were an excellent addition for Mortal Kombat XL, complementing the gore with some extra challenge. The story demonstrates serious passion and character interaction, even if its intersecting elements are a little messy. This is just a great experience for fans of fighting games.

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Movie Review – The Handmaiden


With Valentine’s Day around the corner, it seems appropriate to mention some of the love stories feature on The Culture HUD. Since a certain bondage (but actually abuse) themed trilogy concludes this month (2/2018), I set out to do my duty as a hobbyist critic and recommend literally anything else. I know I am hardly alone in bagging on this franchise, but audiences deserve so much better. Moreover, radical thought: why not watch a love story that actually makes you feel good? One that exists to demonstrate the affirming power of a healthy sexual relationship?

After all, it says something terrible abut our culture that sex is often paired with dark fantasy, silence, and trepidation. Treating sex like a sin you indulge in secrecy is the exact worst way to look at something so fundamental to our humanity. The Handmaiden is a film that reminds audiences of how empowering sex can be. You build an intense physical connection with someone who cares about you. The couple grows with each passionate moment they share together. Even better is how Park Chan-wook wraps such a good message in brilliant filmmaking. It does not get much better than this.

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TV Review – Lady Dynamite, Seasons 1 & 2


The comedy stylings of Maria Bamford have risen to prominence in this wonderful Netflix comedy special. Considering its discussion of mental health issues, particularly those pertaining to bipolar disorder, I knew I had to check this out. On the positive side, this is a fantastic show with such a good spirit to it. On the negative side, I did not figure this out until way too late, and now the show is getting cancelled. Oh well… what is on Netflix is still pretty amazing; like no show I have ever watched before.

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Video Game Tag! The Culture HUD

A video game sharing experience, courtesy of the Bookish Wanderer. Check out her blog!

These are 10 video game questions and my answers! Feel free to comment or participate. I always look forward to seeing which games resonate with other gamers. We are such a varied group. I just spent he past month learning how awesome fighting games are, so I clearly have a lot to learn from speaking with others!

If you want to participate:

  1. Tag or otherwise reference the blogger
  2. Answer the questions
  3. Pass it on to anyone else

Here are my answers!

1. What is your favorite video game genre (E.G. RPG, FPS, MMO, etc.)?

I love a good hack-n-slash game. Any game where I can pick up a sword and slice my way to victory is good in my book. Most of my favorite games have a swordplay component to them, but even in shooters like Far Cry 3 or open-world zombie platformers like Dying Light, blades are my go to method for clearing out the bad guys.

2. Which system do you prefer to game on?

I just love sitting on my couch and turning on my PlayStation 4. My first video game console was a PS2, and even though I switched to an Xbox 360 in the seventh generation, I came right back to Sony. I just love their exclusives too much to really quit this console.

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3. Who is your favorite video game character?

The Magnificent Maleficar herself… Bayonetta. I love playing her in the games, I love her cleverness, her sexiness, and everything about this character. I’d have to, since she pretty much carries the emotional investment of her titles on her arched back.


4. Which game do you believe has the best plot?

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice had me on the edge of my seat. It rocked me right to the bottom of my soul. This was such a powerful heroic epic about a resilient young woman journeying into darkness in the hopes of bringing her lover back from the dead. It put tears in my eyes, it put dread in my mind, and it ultimately put hope in my heart. Plus it took the time to have an incredibly intelligent conversation about the cross-cultural implications of mental health. The gamer and psychology nerd in me was enchanted.

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5. What game gave the most hype but didn’t deliver?

The year 2017 had plenty of games that disappointed me, but if we’re talking about juicy, controversial opinions, I would have to go with Nier: Automata. Yes, there were many things this game did wonderfully. The story was out of this world, but there were too many other ridiculous game design choices that kept me from fully appreciating this title. That, or I just have to stop comparing every Platinum hack-n-slash game with a sexy woman protagonist to Bayonetta. That’s a lot of disappointment in my future.


6. What game are you waiting for?

The Metro series is an exception yet underrated, atmospheric shooter about fighting horrifying demons in the post-apocalyptic Russian subway system. Metro Exodus is coming out soon, and I cannot wait to see what it looks like now that the franchise has some clout behind it.

Also, Insomnia’s Spider-Man

venturebeat dot com

7.  Which games do you feel have the best replay value?

I can play Civilization V over and over again until the actual civilization around me crumbles into dust. I love raising cities from the ground up and turning them into centers of production, culture, and science. I love making peace with other nations, maintaining risky friendships, and then doing my best not to go to war with everyone when I gain a piece of land they all wanted. Just one more civilization, just one more building, just one more turn, just… one… more…


8. Name 1 Game that you think everyone should play?

In the spirit of The Culture HUD’s Fightin’ February, I recommend that everyone play the Injustice fighting game franchise. If you have ever been curious about getting into fighting games, this series will get you well equipped for the genre. Injustice: Gods Among Us and Injustice 2 are both incredible games with excellent rosters of DC comics heroes and villains. Follow the link above to see my full review.

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 9. What game did you grow up on?

Bioware’s classic RPG, Neverwinter Nights. Sure, I got back to the game and the Roll20 format is unbearable to play in, but I absolutely devoured that game when I was young. The story, the enemies, the lore; all of it kept me hooked. While I cannot say it is much to return to, I am the gamer I am today because of Neverwinter Nights.

10. Which game would you like to see come back?

The Darkness was a macabre supernatural game about a Mafioso named Jackie Estacado who is betrayed by his former colleagues. In this tragedy he loses his wife, but gains the help of an evil spirit. The sequel, The Darkness 2, is all about helping Jackie heal from the trauma of his past event while reconciling with the evil that cannot escape him. After enduring more brutality at the hands of those who want to take the Darkness, Jackie is greeted with closure… … … until the cliffhanger… I would very much like a continuation to this story, but the likelihood of that happening is pretty low 😦


Top 5 Movies of 2017


The year 2017, as politically ruinous as it has been and felt, offered some pretty excellent entertainment. Who knows? Maybe the impending collapse of American democracy gave the creative types the boost they needed to make meaningful contributions to cinema and culture. Whatever it takes to keep the quality high, I guess. I will just keep enjoying the output for as long as I can.

Again, I cannot see every movie that comes out; I can barely see 10% of the movies that come out, but the ones I did see have held up incredibly well in my mind throughout the year. We have some entirely original ideas, some continuations of massive franchises, and some dark horse productions that almost fell off the grid. 2017 reflected a quality and diversity of film that is rarely seen, and I am always welcome to be told what among that brilliance I have missed. Let me know what movies you loved!!

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Video Game Review – Injustice 2

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Kicking off Fightin’ February is an excellent game. Injustice 2 pits the heroes and villains of the DC Universe plus other WB licensed warriors) in one-on-one combat. Conceptually, this is great, because aside from the fundamentally worthless Batman vs. Superman conflict, fighting games are great for showing off how vibrant and interesting DC fighters are. Mechanically, this offers such a smooth combat experience. On the one hand, I’m glad I started with such a great game, but on the other hand, I worry the bar has been set too high. All I know is that Injustice 2 will not be leaving my library any time soon.

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Video Game Review – Human Fall Flat


In a year when I tried to play as many indie games as possible, something I had neglected prior to 2017, some incredible titles made the top of my year end list. These were incredible titles that did wonderful things to the medium of video games. Human Fall Flat does not share that distinction. Granted, all of the pieces for something incredible are there, but this is a very shallow experience. Physics-based puzzle platformers have done more interesting things than this (see Grow Up). I know this game has gained some virality for its ostensibly quirky appeal, but there are better avenues for goofing off with your friends.

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