2014 ended three weeks ago, but our wrap-ups of 2014’s best and worst ended yesterday. It’s fair to say we consumed a lot of entertainment, enjoyed many things and had almost as much fun vocally destroying the things we didn’t like so much. And as I hope was evident, not every Topless Robot contributor had the same ideas about what those things were.
Which is why, as we look to the year ahead, I’ve gathered together as many of our regular contributors as possible for this list, in which they all describe what they’re geeked out about for 2015. From board games to RPGs, action figures to adaptations – and in one case, even the rumors we long to hear – it’s a varied, insightful and excitable sneak peek.
12-13-14 (tie). Zelda Wii U, Attack on Titan Live-Action and Cuphead.
The promise of a new year usually makes people want to better themselves. Maybe you want to finish that novel, or learn a new language. Maybe you want to improve relations with your neighbors, or at least figure out why you keep waking up in their oak tree in your boxers, clutching your waifu body pillow. Maybe you want to stop being so easily lead by companies that have burned you time and time again, beating down franchises you once loved with all your…but would you look at how HUGE Zelda Wii U‘s over-world is? Man. Try as we might to crush that optimism in the face of the disappointments 2014 heaped on us, 2015’s upcoming releases give our inner child the strength to overcome once more.
Zelda Wii U‘s open world looks like a blast to tear through on horseyback, and is one more console exclusive for Nintendo to meaningfully dangle over the heads of the holdouts for whom Bayonetta and Super Smash Brothers weren’t enough. As far as indie games go, Cuphead is sure to catch the eye of any classic cartoon enthusiast on Xbox One and Steam, and promises to be a treat for the nostalgia filter at any rate. In the anime world, while Attack on Titan might have to wait until 2016 for season two, the live-action movie releasing in August 2015 will surely be an entertaining and exciting watch…as long as those special effects hold up. I’m dreading Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark levels of bungee-related injuries, but let’s hope for the best. (R.K. Stein)
11. Jurassic World.
The realization that the first Jurassic Park movie is 22 years old is enough to make some of us feel pretty prehistoric ourselves. But the upcoming fourth film, in which the park is up and running, looks pretty juicy. It stars Chris Pratt of Guardians of the Galaxy and is directed by ColinTrevorrow of the charming sci-fi rom-com Safety Not Guaranteed. I hope it’s good, but the thing is, for hardcore dinosaur geeks it doesn’t matter all that much if it’s good or not in any dramatic sense, as long it’s extravagant and imaginative with the extinct fauna, and the trailer suggests this new one is. There’s even a scene in which an enormous mosasaur leaps straight up to grab a suspended shark, like a Sea World dolphin jumping for a smelt. Surely the world is a richer place for that notion being depicted onscreen. (M.V. Moorhead)
10. Pathfinder Makes Like Django.
My most anticipated tabletop RPG of 2015 is Pathfinder Unchained. This is because the text and the named “unchained” imply that Pathfinder will finally get away from its roots as a game designed to keep an old version of D&D alive. I took a few shots at Paizo this year for their insistence on never updating their core engine, and the sometimes-strange mishmashes of cool new ideas and creaking system that this resulted in. I loved D&D 3.5 and played it for many years but I’m ready to see some really new stuff.
I think Pathfinder can’t hit the spot until it innovates the basics a little. How my Pathfinder-playing friends who call D&D 5th Edition a “cash grab” will take it, I have no idea, but I like new things in RPGs and have high hopes for this one. (David N. Scott)
9. Rob Zombie’s 31.
Look, I know nobody likes a dilettante. Anyone who starts a career in one area of entertainment and tries to transition to another is bound to be doubly scrutinized and thoughtlessly derided. It’s all too easy. So I get why Rob Zombie gets very little respect. Hell, I could never stand his band, and I presumed his hackery would extend to filmmaking. But 15 years on, what does this guy have to do to get recognized as the most exciting horror director to emerge in the last few decades? Because he absolutely is. His last two pictures are all the evidence one needs, if you’re open-minded: His much-derided Halloween 2 is, no kidding, a haunted and pained masterwork, and easily the most essential of any of the sequels in that series after the Carpenter original. And the under-loved but insinuatingly creepy Lords of Salem gets a lot closer to a Kubrickian aesthetic than fancy-pants Christopher Nolan seems capable of.
So I’m very excited about 31, his picture for 2015. Not much is known about it, but it does involve people trying to survive an assault by a gang of murderous clowns. It sounds boilerplate, but I’d put money down that it’ll be the best horror film of the year. The guy has cinematic chops, vision, and guts, which is more than I can say for any of the more-touted guys who worked on any of the V/H/S movies. So there. (Yancy Berns)
8. The Scarlet Gospels.
The most exciting thing for me this coming year is hearing that there’s finally a release date for Clive Barker’s long in the works novel The Scarlet Gospels, which was originally meant to be a short story as part of a collection similar to his Book of Blood series. The big hook for the story is that it will feature private investigator Harry D’Amour (most famously seen in the movie Lord of Illusions played by Scott Bakula) facing off against Barker’s most infamous creation, Pinhead. The story has been stated as being the final send off for the Cenobite, who will be meeting a permanent and definitive end (which sadly, will almost certainly not carry over into the movies, which have been soulless cash ins for far too long).
The work has been growing bigger and bigger since at least 1998, and at some point became large enough to need to be its own book. After more than a decade of waiting, my expectations may have built up to the point where I’m certain to end up curling into a ball of frustrated disappointment when I finally get to read it, but I haven’t been let down by Barker yet so I’m holding out hope. (Greggory Basore)
There’s so much awesome coming in comics this year that’s been announced already – just in the next month we have March Book 2 and The Sculptor coming out, and I can promise you that both will be on a ton of best of 2015 lists. But the one thing I’m most excited about is Chip Zdarsky’s incremental trudge towards total comics domination. Sex Criminals is already one of the funniest regularly published books, and he’s got two new books announced so far for 2015.
Howard the Duck is the ideal comic for his style of comedy, and if he gets free rein from Marvel to do whatever he wants with it, it’s going to give Squirrel Girl a run for their most absurdly hilarious title. The one I’m really excited for, though, is Kaptara, He described it as “Gay Saga” with action figures from your childhood. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for Toy Story 3 with butt stuff. (Jim Dandeneau)
6. Fallout 4 News…Please?
What I’m most looking forward to in 2015 is some kind of announcement, leak, or even just some semi-legit speculation on Fallout 4. Even a modicum of news – say, something from Bethesda along the lines of “It may exist, we don’t know, whatevs” – will be enough to make my year. It’s my one gaming universe that truly feels like a part of me (probably because, like me, it’s full of crazy glitches), and I ache to be back in post-apocalyptic America, shooting and exploring and especially managing my inventory so I can carry awesome weapons and things that have sentimental value, but with enough room to carry all the loot I’ll sell for sweet, sweet caps.
So yeah, if you’ve heard anything, no matter how uninformed and ludicrous, please, please tell me, so I can keep my hopes for a nuclear-blasted Xbone playground alive. And also my hopes for more inventory management. Mmmmmmmm. (Jamie Dennis-Jackson)
5. Thunderbirds…The Board Game.
Most people think that the best shows out of England are broadcast on the BBC. They are wrong. The best shows to come out of England are broadcast on ITV. The network’s catalog of fantastic television has included The Avengers, Downton Abbey, Broadchurch, The Prisoner, Robin of Sherwood, and…Thunderbirds. What Generation X-er doesn’t giggle with glee at the thought of the wonders of supermarionation? There is just something about Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s team of world-saving marionettes that gets everything right about the comic book adventure team genre. Thunderbirds‘ influence stretches from anime to Disney’s Incredibles.
Sadly, the influence of the original show never found its way into the relatively recent American live-action film. But any disappointment hangover I might still be experiencing from the horror-show that was the film has been cast aside by my eager excitement at the announcement that Modiphius Entertainment will be producing a Thunderbirds-based board game later this year. The game will be designed by Matt Leacock, who is famous for his Pandemic and Forbidden Island designs, which means that Thunderbirds is in good hands. Thunderbirds will be a cooperative game, and I can think of no better way to capture the magic of the original show that to create a game where a team has to work together to rescue the world from the evil Hood. (Christian Lindke)
4. High Rise: The Movie.
“Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr. Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within his huge apartment building during the previous three months.” So begins the haunting 1975 dystopia tale High Rise by J.G. Ballard (Crash, Empire of the Sun). High Rise is a novel about how an ultra-modern, tech-infused apartment building – complete with its own grocery store, spa, and pool – slowly begins to divide itself off by class, eventually causing the people within it to form violent warring sects. The power shuts down, the building is intentionally barricaded off from the world, and the tenants become violent.
High Rise is essentially Lord of the Flies for adults, as well as a damning criticism of technology and modern life. The 2015 film will be directed by Ben Wheatley (Sightseers, Kill List), and will star Tom Hiddleston. Of the sci-fi films slated to come out in 2015, this is the one I’m looking forward to the most. (Witney Seibold)
3. Will Forte as The Last Man on Earth.
Well, I’ve already voiced my opinions on what my most anticipated video game of 2015 are in the latest Robotic Gaming Monthly – you know, right here, which you should be reading right now – but shockingly enough, I do have other interests outside of gaming, so aside from that, I would say my most anticipated nerdy entertainment of 2015 would probably be The Last Man on Earth, Fox’s upcoming comedy series starring Will Forte. Aside from the fact that Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have a damn good track record (remember, the last time they gave us a sitcom with Will Forte as the lead, we got Clone High), I’m honestly just curious to see how the hell one pulls off an Omega Man-concept like this as an ongoing TV series, let alone a comedy.
The obvious answer is that he finds other survivors, although the supporting cast including Kristen Schaal (which thrills me) and January Jones (which does the opposite) suggests he’s still the last man on earth…no matter what the outcome, though, Forte is at least a terrific performer (in my opinion), and he definitely seems like the person with a kind of delivery and personality that more than helps sell a premise like this (seriously, even if it is just twenty-two minutes of him dicking around with post-apocalyptic ruins, I would totally watch it). So here’s hoping for the best with The Last Man on Earth…though sadly, being a quirky sci-fi show on Fox…well, you can all insert the obvious Firefly joke here or whatnot. (Kyle LeClair)
2. Superman (1978) Action Figure by NECA.
As much as I’m interested to see what “a movie year” will mean for Star Wars toys, since each prequel got its own giant playset (the Queen’s Starship, Geonosis Arena and Mustafar Battle) and as of now, the equivalent will be one depicting an environment we haven’t even seen yet…it may not happen if budget cuts kill the big-ticket items forever.
However, there’s another toy this year poised to hit my childhood right in the feels. You kids of today will see Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill do their best Dark Knight Returns imitations in just over a year and change, but when I was a teen, before the horse felled the hero, there was a brief window of hope that the onscreen World’s Finest could be Michael Keaton and Christopher Reeve. What never happened in a movie will happen on my toy shelf come next Christmas, as NECA will soon be revealing an 18″ Christopher Reeve Superman, who was my first, before I even knew there was a comic book. Like Star Wars, Reeve’s Supes predated my ability to fully separate fantasy from reality, so he was the man that could fly in a way that no subsequent actor ever can be. I look forward to him joining my display. Would it be too much to ask for a John Williams-y sound chip? (Luke Y. Thompson)
1. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
The first time I was allowed to see a movie twice in theaters was in Mary of 1983 when, as a four year old boy, I saw Return of the Jedi, first with my mother. I had only seen the original Star Wars at the time; Empire Strikes Back was too dark according to family members who had seen it, so I walked into the theater without knowledge of Han Solo’s turn at Feng Sui in Jabba’s palace, the Rebels rout on Hoth, or Luke’s Jedi training and revelation of questionable parentage. It was a Friday night, and I sat riveted for 132 minutes. I came home and immediately had to wake my night shift working police officer of a father to tell all about the fall of the Empire. Apparently my excitement was enough to inspire him to take me to the theater the next day to see it a second time.
I was there opening day to see The Phantom Menace, having sent my teenage sister to wait in the ticket line for me, some guys from the office, and my Aunt Marcee who had introduced me to that galaxy far far away via VHS tape while babysitting me. While it wasn’t the film I was looking for, I felt like a kid again, getting almost teary-eyed at the opening titles, hearing that familiar horn blast for the first time in uber-THX surround sound. I had learned from my college music professor that the key to a good performance was a strong beginning and a strong ending, a lesson George Lucas had taken to heart. Watching a young Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn show me what real Jedi could do, and the final battle between Darth Maul and our heroes allowed me to forgive space angels, “I’ll try spinning”, and every single moment Jar-Jar Binks was on screen. I felt like a kid again, and it was amazing.
I took my children to see the 3d reissue of Phantom Menace a few years back. I had saved them from watching it at home, instead starting with Attack of the Clones (but only after they had seen the original trilogy). They were riveted for about the first half hour, laughed a few times at Binks, asked if we could leave just before the pod race scene, and fell asleep immediately after it. They woke up just in time to see everything come to a head at the end. The moment of truth though was when Darth Maul stepped out from those blast doors and ignited the double lightsaber. My kids lost their shit, literally (We were in the middle of potty training, and my then 3 year old son, lost in the film’s climax, crapped his pants). Their jaws were scraping the grease-coated theater floor.
On December 15th, my kids and I will be sitting in a theater waiting for The Force Awakens to begin. At 7 and 10 years old, they will be at a perfect age to be whisked into the fantasy world of Jedi and Sith, Smugglers and Bounty Hunters, of good and evil. It doesn’t matter if the film is good, so long as it allows my children to fall asleep with visions of lightsabers dancing in their heads. (Jason Helton)