Broly’s Dragon Ball Super form joins Dragon Ball FighterZ next week

Broly, in his Dragon Ball Super: Broly form, closes out the second season of DLC characters for Dragon Ball FighterZ on Thursday, Dec. 5.

The Legendary Super Saiyan is the sixth and final fighter for the 2019 season, and winds up a schedule that includes Jiren, Videl, Goku from Dragon Ball GT, Janemba and Gogeta (Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan). Of course, he rates a trailer showcasing a bonkers, over-the-top fighting style that is in serious need of anger management counseling.

Broly (DBS) is available with the Season 2 pass, which costs $24.99 and gets you all six fighters, or a la carte for $4.99 each.

Broly brings the Dragon Ball FighterZ roster to 35, almost two years after Arc System Works launched the fighting game for NIntendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One. ArcSys has yet to say whether it has plans for a fourth season of fighters.

Source: Polygon.com

Atari VCS delayed for Indiegogo backers

The Atari VCS, the crowd-funded, retro-styled-but-modern-console/gaming PC, is delayed for those who donated to the venture on IndieGogo. The VCS’ makers still expect to hit the general ship date of March 2020, but backers will beg getting their units after December, when it was last promised.

Michael Arzt, the Atari chief operating officer, attributed the delay to a hardware upgrade, the same reason for the VCS’ first delay, from a launch originally set for the late spring or early summer of this year. “We were offered the opportunity to incorporate an all-new microprocessor built on a more powerful and more efficient architecture,” Arzt wrote on Medium. “The team is well aware that the delay impacted our backers, but feels strongly that we made the right decision to improve the product’s performance.

“Atari will always prioritize delivering a high-quality product over a self-imposed deadline,” Arzt added. “Our Indiegogo backers are extremely important to us, and the entire team and I would like to thank our backers once again for their loyalty and continued support. I am sure they will understand our prioritization of delivering a quality product above all else.”

The Atari VCS, though it does have a bunch of Atari 2600 ROMs pre-loaded on it, is not a throwback mini-console; it’s effectively a Linux gaming PC, with a state-of-the-art AMD processor. The console is modeled on the design of the original Atari VCS (later known as the 2600), with a ridged case and a wood-panel applique that evoke the front deck of the 1970s-fabulous original.

It also isn’t cheap: $249.99, but that gets the buyer 4 GB of RAM, 4K and HDR support, well more than is necessary to run Maze Craze or Warlords. There’s a more expensive 8 GB RAM model, too, but neither come with an input device. The VCS’ gamepad and throwback joystick cost $49.99 and $59.99 respectively, with pricier bundle options offering one or both.

Arzt didn’t share any revised delivery date for Indiegogo backers, but said “we are talking weeks here, not months, and the Indiegogo backers remain our top priority.” He guaranteed that backers would get their consoles before the general public. “We will also try to come up with some kind of bonus to reward our backers for their patience.”

For those who didn’t donate to the VCS’ manufacture, the unit will be sold by GameStop, Walmart, and Atari itself, with each storefront selling a different console design. Walmart’s is “Carbon Gold,” GameStop’s is “onyx” (the base design) and Atari has the “black walnut” look. Pre-orders are being taken now.

Source: Polygon.com

Gameplay from new Modern Warfare Ground War map Port revealed

Infinity Ward has officially revealed a first look at the new Ground War map coming to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare as part of Season 1 on December 3.

Several YouTubers went to the studio last week to get hands on with the Season 1 content, and today, they have uploaded gameplay footage of the Ground War map Port.

The new map is called Port, and it was teased as part of the Season 1 Roadmap image.

Here’s the overview map for Port. Per the gameplay footage, the C Flag in this new map is actually Vacant from Call of Duty 4 brought back as one section of this large map:

Battle across massive shipping crates, cranes, buildings and streets in this unique Ground War map experience.

Here’s a round up of some videos showing gameplay of the new map.

Karnage Clan:

Swagg:

KoreanSavage:

InkSlasher:

The post Gameplay from new Modern Warfare Ground War map Port revealed appeared first on Charlie INTEL.

Source: CharlieIntel.com

Ghost Recon Breakpoint survey says players want AI teammates, offline play

Ghost Recon Breakpoint players want AI teammates put in ASAP, want tiered loot and The Division 2-esque gear score stripped out soon, and no online requirements. That’s according to the two-week survey that Ubisoft Paris is using to rebuild the lackluster open-world shooter.

In a letter to players yesterday, developers reported the results of the survey. Although most of the requests and feedback are listed as “in-progress,” meaning something addressing these wants is in the works, Ubisoft Paris was a little vague about the implementation of the big asks.

For AI teammates, Ubisoft referred players to a note on Oct. 28 that kicked off the survey. AI teammates have been a distinguishing trait of the Ghost Recon franchise, which sits between Rainbow Six and The Division on a spectrum running from tactical to pure action. In the October note, Ubisoft Paris noted it announced at E3 2019 that AI teammates would join the game post-launch, but also called the feature “a major undertaking that will still require time.” In other words: message received, but no changes in plans.

The same goes for gear score and tiered loot. Ubisoft also referred players over to the same “moving forward” letter that promises a “more immersive and radical version of Ghost Recon Breakpoint for early next year.”

And regarding a fully-offline mode of play, developers referred, somewhat conspicuously to that as “the remaining top result” of the survey, and said that “due to its scope [it] will require more investigation.” More info on that, or its feasibility at least, will be coming in early 2020.

It should be noted that The Division 2, since its March launch, requires a connection to Ubisoft’s servers to play even for a single-player instance in the open world. While co-operative matchmaking in The Division 2 is loads easier, Ghost Recon Breakpoint takes great pains to inform the player that it was designed for multiplayer experiences, which probably also explains why AI teammates weren’t in the game at launch. At any rate, given the history on this game and The Division 2, it seems a longshot that Ubisoft Paris can or will move off the online requirements.

Elsewhere, Ubisoft Paris said it had delivered improvements to enemy AI in the latest title update, and those efforts are still ongoing. The same goes for vehicle handling and balancing of the in-game economy. Quality-of-life requests, such as deactivating other players in the game’s hub world, camera improvements, respawn improvements and primary weapon designation are also listed as “in-progress.” However, sprinting in the hub world is just at the “investigating” stage. So everyone is still limited to a mosey or a jog within Erewhon, making it time consuming to go from mission-giver to the merchant to the bivouac to the raid, or whatever.

The most recent title update for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint introduced another big request from the community survey: More customization options for the player avatar. Players can now change their gender and face mid-game, surely a boon to those who enjoy cosplaying G.I. Joe characters. That also added another 40 default items to help players construct their look.

Breakpoint last week also delivered the game’s first raid, titled Project Titan. Community reaction that so far is lukewarm, with many complaining of the bullet-sponge difficulty of the raid boss and, again, comparing it to The Division 2’s raid, whose bosses are a lot easier to eliminate.

Source: Polygon.com

Robert Rodriguez’s Alita follow-up is actually a giant Cirque du Soleil show

RUN, the latest project from Alita director Robert Rodriguez, opens with the main character interrupting a wedding, swiping a heart-shaped necklace with a secret purpose, and igniting a war between the rival gangs Street Kingz and Blackjax. With echoes of Rodriguez’s work on Sin City, it’s heavily influenced by the style of graphic novels, and the pulpy, sometimes sleazy story includes a car chase through the desert, a near-drowning, a torture scene, and a climactic motorcycle battle. Oh, and it’s not a movie: Run is a live stage show performed by Cirque du Soleil, five nights a week at the Luxor hotel-casino in Las Vegas.

Rodriguez introduces the main character, known as “Me,” crashing through a window from the screen into an impressively staged set piece featuring stunt performers combat fighting amid the audience. But nothing announces RUN’s ambitions to be an action movie in a live theater setting like the subsequent transition into giant opening credits.

Set to a cover of Twenty One Pilots’ “Jumpsuit” by film composer Tyler Bates and Bush’s Gavin Rossdale, the credits splash the names of the show’s creative team (including Bates, who created the original music, and Rodriguez, who wrote the script) in massive letters. Me paces in contemplation beneath the huge screen in front of the stage.

The “Level Up” motorcycle stunt scene from R.U.N - The First Live Action Thriller Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Cirque du Soleil

The beats of a propulsive action movie provide RUN with the structure for a series of ambitious stunt performances. It’s a new direction for Cirque, which has six other resident shows in Vegas: It’s the first of the group’s shows to feature a scripted narrative and dialogue, the first to focus on stunts rather than circus arts, and the first to be created in collaboration with a Hollywood filmmaker.

“There have been people at Cirque working on the idea of doing a show featuring stunts for about four years now,” explains producer Gabriel Pinkstone. “We’re always looking for different stuff, and frankly we explore a bunch of stuff that doesn’t work out and that you never see. And then we explore things that get us excited, and that’s where we ended up with this.”

As with all Cirque productions, RUN went through a lengthy development process before its premiere, with contributions from numerous creative personnel. “The one thing that is really great about this forum, this environment, is it’s truly a team sport,” says Bates, who was recruited on the strength of his scores for action movies like 300, Atomic Blonde and the John Wick series.

“As we went through the process, we were like, ‘we need to get the real deal in,’” Pinkstone says of reaching out to Rodriguez and Bates. “When you get that flavor in the script and that flavor in the music, it’s huge. And then we bring our expertise in human performance and everything that comes with that, and put it all together, and here we are with a live action thriller.”

The “live” part of that tag line means that RUN’s performers are putting on movie-style stunts directly in front of an audience every night. The heart-shaped necklace that Me swipes from characters known only as the Bride and the Groom serves as the MacGuffin for the thinly sketched plot. It’s the kind of simple, broad outline that might have formed the plot for a platformer a decade ago. Video games are one of the major influences cited by the show’s director Michael Schwandt and creation director Stefan Miljevic.

The films of Rodriguez and Bates were even more influential, especially 300 and Sin City, and graphic novels, like the Frank Miller books that inspired those two films. As indicated by the lack of specific character names, the characters in RUN are also meant to be easily identifiable. Me wants the heart necklace and to reunite with the Bride (his ex). The Groom wants to get the necklace back and to kill Me. The Bride is caught in the middle.

“They’re not going to be able to speak, so you can’t get that personal with it, because the audience would just not know what’s going on,” Rodriguez says. “We had to go with the archetypes, so that even from far away, you know, okay, that’s the Groom, that’s the Bride, and that’s Me. You have to just be able to follow and know instantly who you’re looking at.” All of the dialogue comes in the form of voiceover narration or is delivered in the extensive video segments that play between set pieces (and sometimes make the show feel like watching an elaborate movie with occasional in-person interludes).

Although the show’s roots are in action movies, video games, graphic novels, theme-park stunt shows and Cirque’s own long history, RUN really is its own unique entity, and if it’s still finding its footing soon after premiering, that, too, is part of Cirque’s development process. The company never stops tweaking the shows, even its first Vegas production, Mystere, which has been running since December 1993 at the Treasure Island hotel-casino. Every Cirque production is a constant work in progress.

A car drives along the open desert with comic book lettering reading “Hero: They have eyes everywhere.” Getty Images for Cirque du Soleil

RUN was developed as a series of action sequences before the story was even constructed, and the show works best when the narrative and the stunts can work in tandem. “It wasn’t as if Robert could just write whatever he wanted to write without regard to what we need to do live on stage, because it just wouldn’t work like that,” Schwandt says. “We still have to make the story work with the performance that we decided we wanted to include in the show.”

RUN’s biggest flaw is that it hasn’t consistently resolved that tension, but sequences including the onstage car chase, a warehouse-set fight with multiple performers set on fire and the final gang battle via motorcycle stunts are so impressive on their own that it doesn’t really matter how they relate to a story or characters.

It’s clear that the creative team was aiming for a smoother integration, though. “You connect the voiceover with the character you saw on the screen, and now you follow him through the show, and you’ll always know what’s going on,” Rodriguez says. “It’s great, so the audience is never confused. Because otherwise if you lose track, you might lose interest, and then it’s just a bunch of stunts.”

“I’m very happy with how it turned out, because you never think, ‘Oh, they’re stopping the story now to do the stunts,’” Pinkstone adds. “They’re just in the story, like they are in Mission: Impossible or John Wick or anything else.” Neither Mission: Impossible nor John Wick has yet made it to the Las Vegas stage, but with acclaimed filmmakers like Rodriguez willing to lend their talents to Cirque, it’s enticing to think what someone like Christopher McQuarrie or Chad Stahelski could do with the same opportunity.

Source: Polygon.com

Pokémon Sword and Shield’s coolest towns are the most shallow

Spikemuth is hidden behind a cold, metal gate. The neon-lit town is run-down, dingy, and one of the most interesting places I’ve explored in a Pokémon game. The problem is that there’s almost nothing to it aside from its aesthetic — there’s more to do in some filler routes in Pokémon Sword and Shield than there is in Spikemuth.

Sword and Shield sets up Spikemuth as an important place. It’s the only town where you can’t use Dynamax Pokémon. Team Yell, the game’s “villain,” is from there. So is Marnie, one of Sword and Shield’s three rivals. Visually, it’s unlike any other place in Sword and Shield, let alone any town I’ve seen in a Pokémon game. It’s immediately noticeable when entering the city for the first time through its back alley entrance, past the metal garbage cans and crumbling walls.

Pokémon Sword and Shield are set in a fictional version of the U.K., a small and lively region with a variety of architecture styles across its cities and towns. None of the cities are bad. Many of them have plenty of places to explore, making the areas feel alive with their fan-filled stadiums and selection of shops. But most of them are not particularly unique; I’ve learned to expect what a Pokémon city will look like. And these look like Pokémon cities and towns — except two, which are visually interesting in a way I hadn’t seen before. But unfortunately, that interest is superficial. Spikemuth and Ballonlea are two of the most interesting city ideas for Pokémon games — but it’s limited only to ideas.

Spikemuth and its neon signs Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via Polygon

Spikemuth is dark, with half-lit neon signs. Movement is effectively limited to a single hallway. The first thing you see is a glowing Pokémon Center, but that’s the only building you can enter. From there, you head straight down the main road and take on Team Yell enemies as you approach the outdoor Pokémon gym. In Spikemuth, I feel like I’m transported into a side-scrolling beat-’em-up, like Konami’s 1980s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game. The environment — a straight shot with a static camera, dodging barrels and disappearing behind walls — is enough to evoke an entirely different genre. Spikemuth continues like this until you enter the Pokémon gym, which is essentially a gated basketball court with a stage. There are no puzzles, as seen in other gyms, and gym leader Piers won’t Dynamax his Pokémon either.

While other towns, ones that hew closely to previous Pokémon games, have plenty of characters to interact with, shops to explore, and houses to enter, Spikemuth has only the Pokémon Center and a few Team Yell members strolling around. I almost didn’t believe that this was the entirety of what Spikemuth had to offer; I queued up at doorways, thinking I’d missed spots that would open up the world. Of course, I never found them. Spikemuth is an idea that’s more interesting than the execution.

Ballonlea Pokemon Center Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via Polygon

Unfortunately, Spikemuth isn’t Sword and Shield’s only throwaway town that should have defined the game. Ballonlea, home to gym leader Opal, is visually stunning — the whole city glows. Bright green, yellow, and pink mushrooms line the city’s streets. Fairy Pokémon float through the air, their sounds punctuating the town’s lively music. The world reacts to you as you pass by.

Unlike Spikemuth, there are a couple of houses to center, as well as a freestanding Pokémon gym with a more engaging battle. Thankfully, players are fed into Ballonlea from the Glimwood Tangle, previewed ahead of Sword and Shield’s release, which is stunning in its design — a route-like maze where fairy Pokémon hide in tall grass. Ballonlea’s intrigue ends there, which is a shame, because I can’t get over how much I want to live there.

I just wish Sword and Shield would let me do more than just rush me through. The whole idea of Sword and Shield and its newly introduced Wild Area is that it’s a full world, bigger than any other single environment created in Pokémon. There’s so much to do within the Wild Area, which leaves the smaller cities and towns feeling like an afterthought — like they’re stopgaps when they should be destinations.

Source: Polygon.com

Netflix’s I Lost My Body turns a weird horror trope into one of the year’s dreamiest dramas

Pop-culture fans probably already have a few emotional associations with severed hands crawling around independently onscreen. The Addams family “pet,” Thing, is a eerie version of the image. Ash’s war against his own possessed hand in Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead II takes the trope in a gorier direction. Plenty of other horror films have chopped-off hands roaming around attacking people.

But evil hands are almost always at least a little comedic. No matter how much they look like fleshy spiders, no matter how malign their intent, no matter how much they symbolize a terrifying lack of body autonomy or a failure of self-control, they’re inherently a bit goofy. Which is one reason Jérémy Clapin’s animated French directorial debut I Lost My Body is such a startling, moving experience.

Seen partly from the perspective of a severed hand, and partly through flashbacks to the life of the young man it was once attached to, the film finds a kind of skittish melancholy in the idea of a hand crawling around without its owner, a profound loneliness that comes with the sense of being incomplete. I Lost My Body is fundamentally weird and potentially off-putting. But it’s also visually and emotionally beautiful, one of 2019’s most ambitious, engaging films.

The film begins with the hand lying in a pool of spreading blood, at the moment of the incident that cut it free. The nature of that moment won’t become clear until close to the end of the film — instead, Clapin concentrates on the hand’s “awakening” and step-by-step escape from a hospital morgue, as it dodges people and navigates hazards on its way out of the building. In eerie greyscale images, the story drifts back to small, ordinary past moments when the hand was part of a body — holding toys, playing musical instruments, even exploring the gooey depths of a wet nostril.

But eventually, those flashbacks flower into a larger backstory. The hand’s former owner is Naoufel, a young Parisian whose happy childhood was cut short by an event that left him in the care of sullen, indifferent relatives. Now older and working as a pizza-delivery boy, Naoufel is withdrawn, uncommunicative, and shy. A chance encounter with a sharp and stylish girl named Gabrielle leads him to start in on the kind of questionable behavior that’s often rewarded in rom-coms: stalking her, arranging a supposed chance meeting, insinuating himself into her life under false pretenses. Meanwhile, the hand continues its eerie trek across a city full of surprising dangers.

It doesn’t take much effort to connect the hand’s helplessness and isolation with Naoufel’s own manner of living. Neither he nor his hand entirely seems to belong in the world — it’s a creepy and apparently supernatural anomaly, while he’s aimless and indrawn, with no obvious future ahead of him. But the hand is more determined and daring than he is, and unlike him, it seems to have a sense of purpose. Its clear quest to get somewhere and accomplish something makes this story feel like a symbolic fairy tale rather than a simple exercise in surrealism.

The story’s sympathies toward Naoufel shift precariously with each of new poor decision he makes. Sometimes he seems like a lonely protagonist in a romantic drama, destined to get the girl and win the day. In other moments, his cowardly, deceptive behavior is hard to respect. Gabrielle, meanwhile, often seems like a distant fantasy rather than a character, though their first conversation hints at a depth of disaffection and separation to match his, or the hand’s. Both of them, thanks to the film’s visual style, are gawky and lean. They’re exaggerated caricatures of people who always look a bit attenuated and ill at ease, and as they move through a Paris full of warm colors and tones, they rarely feel like they belong anywhere they go.

The autonomous, heroic severed hand is perhaps a tipoff that Clapin and co-writer Guillaume Laurant (screenwriter of Amélie, and author of the French novel this film adapts) aren’t planning for this story to slot neatly into any familiar, easily anticipated pigeonholes. They tell even the mundane parts of Naoufel’s story in a sleepy, subjective way, drifting into his dreams, and into reveries that could be from his point of view or the hand’s. Either way, the visions are remarkably evocative — when the hand digs into the sand at the beach, then let grains of that sand stream out between its fingers, the cinematography is so sharp and the details are so precise, the audience can almost feel the warmth of the sun and the grit under the hand’s fingernails.

And other tiny, telling details help shape the story, too. Some are visual: Naoufel’s shared room at home is barren, apart from a picture of a satellite that suggests a bitter fantasy of escape. The tiny consistent mole on his hand is a constant reminder that the detached body part clambering through the city is his — that this isn’t all some elaborate bait-and-switch. Other significant details are aural. Naoufel is obsessed with a tape recorder his family gave him long ago, and particularly with reliving one of the worst moments of his life through an accidental audio record of it. Like Blow Out, I Lost My Body repeatedly comes back to the idea of moments captured through sound, then conjured up through repeated, sometimes self-destructive listening. It’s certainly telling both that Naoufel spends so much time tormenting himself with this tape, and that he chooses such a physically passive form of self-destruction. It takes a crisis to move him out of that passivity, and much of the film builds toward that moment, where he finally has to experience something real and immediate, without cowering behind a convenient lie.

But much of I Lost My Body is intense and immediate, not just the climax. The hand’s battle against rats in the Paris Metro is as throat-clenching as a good thriller, and its troubles with a pigeon are startling and grotesque. As the story builds toward the key moments — not so much the discovery of how Naoufel lost his hand, but the question of what came after, and where the hand is headed — Clapin alternates between pensive tension and breathtaking tension. It’s startling how much drama and goodwill he generates out of such a weird and humorous image — a body part crawling around on its own, fighting tiny wars and taking huge risks. It’s enough to make decades of silly severed-hand comedy-horror look more tragic and lovely in retrospect.

I Lost My Body is streaming on Netflix now.

Source: Polygon.com

Destiny 2 Xur location and items, Nov. 29 – Dec. 2

If you played Destiny, you may be familiar with Xur, the weekly Exotic item merchant. In Destiny 2, he’s back, and he now appears all over the map. This week, you can find Xur on The Tower, standing in The Hangar.

Destiny 2 Xur Tower Bungie via Polygon

Xur’s inventory this week consists of the following:

  • Graviton Lance, Pulse Rifle: 29 Legendary Shards
  • St0mp-ee5, Hunter boots: 23 Legendary Shards
  • Transversive Steps, Warlock boots: 23 Legendary Shards
  • Ursa Furiosa, Titan gauntlets: 23 Legendary Shards
  • Isochronal Engram: 97 Legendary Shards
  • Invitation quest: 9 Legendary Shards

Xur’s inventory caps out at 931 if you’re 950. He also offers specific rolls on each armor piece each week, giving out different perks for the same pieces.

GRAVITON LANCE

Graviton Lance’s exotic perk is Black Hole, which causes the gun to only fire two bullets: one with low damage and the other with high damage. The second perk, Cosmology, causes kills with Graviton Lance to make the enemy explode and spawn void missiles that seek targets. This can cause a chain reaction of explosions, which can be extremely powerful in certain situations.

Graviton Lance is an excellent exotic and feels unique in the landscape of Destiny 2’s arsenal. It’s excellent in PvP as well, and can shred through enemies very quickly if they aren’t paying attention. Graviton Lance’s problems stem from the same kinds of issues a lot of exotics have, in that there are certain weapons that are just more powerful. Why run Graviton when you can have Thunderlord or Whisper of the Worm?

Because it’s fun and good, that’s why. If you’re missing Graviton Lance, pick it up from Xur this week.

ST0MP-EE5

St0mp-EE5 is a powerful traversal exotic for Hunters. The exotic perk, Hydraulic Boosters, increases slide and sprint speed, as well as increases jump height. This exotic is very strong in a myriad of situations. In PvE content, it can be great for getting where you need to go quickly. In PvP, it’s a perfect exotic to disorient foes and get to unexpected places quickly.

Xur’s roll this week is Arc, and comes with 48 total stats.

TRANSVERSIVE STEPS

Transversive Steps are the Warlock speedy boots, and they’re a very good catch-all exotic. Their exotic perk, Strange Protractor, increases your sprint speed and automatically reloads your energy weapons. The reloading is secondary to just how powerful movement speed is in Destiny 2. Make sure to pick them up if you don’t have them yet.

Xur’s roll this week is Arc, and comes with 48 total stats.

URSA FURIOSA

Ursa Furiosa is a set of Exotic gauntlets from Forsaken. Its Exotic perk is Ursine Guard, which refunds Super energy when you block damage with Sentinel Shield. You also move faster with Sentinel Shield active. There was a time when these Exotics were dominant, but Bungie nerfed them, and now they’re underwhelming. If you love running Sentinel Shield, or it’s missing from your collection, pick these up.

Xur’s roll this week is Void, and comes with 50 total stats.

Invitation

If you haven’t completed the Invitation quest yet, Xur is still offering it for nine Legendary Shards.

Source: Polygon.com

Uno removes red and blue cards to try to keep politics out of games

Games aren’t political — even the ones that involve storming the White House — but according to the maker of Uno, colors definitely are. So, to ensure that everyone in your family can reach across party lines to screw someone over with a Wild Draw Four card, Mattel has released a new, supposedly more politically neutral version of the card game, called Uno Nonpartisan.

The new version’s main change in its bid for apolitical acceptance is the change from the traditional red and blue cards to purple and orange cards. This move away from the clearly politicized colors of red and blue should help keep families from getting too political around the holidays — saying “holidays” here is definitely political.

How the color green continues to make the cut in the nonpartisan version we have no idea at all. After all, there is a Green Party, the only party with its color right there in the name, there’s the extremely partisan Green New Deal, and even the topic of literal Green Cards, which has frequently become a topic for discussion considering the current administration’s restrictive policies on both immigration and Green Card access.

And if anything too controversial does come up, Uno Nonpartisan also has a new Veto card you can lay down to skip the turn of anyone who’s turning the topic of conversation toward politics during the game. We’re not totally sure how bringing up the presidential power to strike down rulings by other law-making bodies is supposed to stop the political talk, but hey, Uno rules are sacred so maybe it’ll work.

Other than those two changes, this is exactly the game of Uno you know and love. You still have your Wild cards and four suits, and you still compete to see who can run out of cards first. Of course, that also means you still have to shout Uno, the Spanish word for one which in itself is probably also makes it a political act — since a memo obtained by the Associated Press revealed border agents are specifically targeting Spanish-speaking migrants.

If you think Uno Nonpartisan might be able to save your next family gathering, you can pick the game up at Walmart for $4.97. Although, it’s currently out of stock, so maybe the contentious colors really were holding people back from enjoying their favorite card game.

Source: Polygon.com

The new Harley Quinn show explores serious ideas in extremely silly ways

The 1990s show Batman: The Animated Series rewrote the Batman canon, dramatically changing the backstories of several villains and solidifying the noir and gothic style that came to define Gotham for a generation of fans. B:TAS also introduced a host of new characters, including police officer Renée Montoya and Batman inspiration The Grey Ghost. But easily the most successful of the new characters was Harley Quinn, an acrobatic Arkham psychiatrist turned girlfriend and accomplice to the Joker.

Harley has found footing in Batman comics and other media since then, including the 2016 Suicide Squad film. But DC Universe’s foul-mouthed, over-the-top new animated series Harley Quinn, which kicks off its 13-episode first season on November 29, owes the most to the Batman: The Animated Series episode “Harley and Ivy.” The episode cast the two Batman supervillains as friends and roommates, with Poison Ivy trying to persuade Harley to end her abusive relationship with the Joker and become her own woman.

That dynamic is at the core of Harley Quinn, which opens with Harley (Kaley Cuoco of The Big Bang Theory), dressed in her classic Batman: The Animated Series costume, being used and abused by the Joker (Alan Tudyk of Firefly and Doom Patrol). When Batman (Diedrich Baker, serving the same “straight man in a mad world” role he had in Batman: The Brave and the Bold) interrupts their latest heist, the Joker escapes without Harley, and she spends a year waiting for him in Arkham until Ivy breaks them both out.

Sisters are doing it covered in gore
Warner Bros.

Moving into the apartment Ivy shares with her Audrey II-like plant creation Frank (J.B. Smoove of Curb Your Enthusiasm), Harley changes her look to be more in line with her Suicide Squad costume, and vows to prove she doesn’t need the Joker by relentlessly trying to be just like him. She sets out to assemble a crew and pull off enough big heists to earn herself a spot alongside the Joker and the rest of the Justice League’s greatest villains in the Legion of Doom.

Harley Quinn is full of warped references to B:TAS and its successor, The New Batman Adventures. Tudyk’s Joker is a clear tribute to Mark Hamill’s iconic version of the character, played with just a little more cruelty and spite, since the writers no longer need to pull punches for a young audience. While this Joker has the same over-the-top flair as his 1990s counterpart, he’s much more prone to spectacularly killing people by melting their faces off with acid, or blowing them up in exaggerated bursts of gore and organs.

Tudyk also gets to bring his own spin to the shapeshifting Clayface, whose background as an actor is mined for endless gags. Asked to do something simple like impersonating a guard, he tries to develop an elaborate backstory for his new character. When another villain monologues, Clayface can’t help but offer notes. The episode “You’re A Damn Good Cop, Jim Gordon,” where the show’s extremely beleaguered version of Commissioner James Gordon (Christopher Meloni of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) adopts Clayface’s lost hand, is a goofy spin on the emotional The New Batman Adventures episode “Growing Pains.” In the particularly absurd episode “A High Bar,” Harley Quinn and Ivy crash the Penguin’s nephew’s bar mitzvah, and Ivy infects some teenage boys with a serum that turns them into trees in a reference to the B:TAS episode “Eternal Youth.”

If she had a hammer… oh, she does
Warner Bros.

While these deep references to Batman canon are likely to engage longtime fans, Harley Quinn isn’t just drawing inspiration from animation and comics. The show is filled with blunt, hilarious talk about sex and relationships that makes it resemble female-focused sitcoms like Broad City and Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23. Episodes alternate between largely standalone stories (like Harley trying to keep Robin from being her nemesis) and deeper ones that get to the show’s core premise about the challenges of reinvention, and the pervasive nature of sexism. Whether it’s the Joker telling one of his goons “women aren’t funny” or Harley failing to recruit muscle for a well-planned job when a male D-lister villain like Kite Man (Matt Oberg) can easily find support, the writers are scathing.

Not all the jokes land as well. Like their title character with her bats and mallets, the writers of Harley Quinn regularly take big swings, and sometimes miss. The geriatric super-spy Sy Borgman (Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander) is included in the cast as a nod to his role in the Harley Quinn comics, but his schtick is largely limited to dozing off on the job. He takes away from the far more entertaining supporting characters, like King Shark (Ron Fuches), a hulking human-shark hybrid reimagined as a violence-adverse computer guy, and Doctor Psycho (Tony Hale of Arrested Development and Veep), a psychic working with Harley to try to redeem himself after being exiled from the Legion of Doom for calling Wonder Woman the c-word on television.

Luckily, the show moves relentlessly fast, so flat jokes or lackluster episodes don’t last long. The humor has a powerful emotional core, showing the toll an abusive relationship takes not just on the victim, but all the people trying to help them be better. Endless mockery of Christoper Nolan’s version of Bane and unexpected eruptions of hyperviolence are seamlessly blended with powerful moments that just show Harley grappling with her choices, and trying to claw her way into a unique sense of agency and identity.

Like its insane psychiatrist protagonist, Harley Quinn is a study in contradictions. It’s both a love letter to the series that created the character and a subversive new look at her role in the male-dominated world of superhero stories. It uses profoundly silly plots to address serious real-world issues and tells surprisingly sweet stories that are utterly soaked in cartoon gore. Those pieces don’t always fit together perfectly, but the ambitious new spin on the genre has produced the best version of Harley Quinn since her introduction.

Harley Quinn will debut on DC Universe on November 29.

Source: Polygon.com