RSSArchive for February 24th, 2011

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Steampunk culture spreads like clockwork

Steampunk culture spreads like clockwork



Steampunk is a growing fashion, art and lifestyle movement, but its definition varies among fans.

Enthusiasts combine Victorian-era clothing with such elements as goggles and steam-powered guns. Having trouble imagining? Picture the Will Smith film, “Wild Wild West.” 


Among other things, steampunk emphasizes industrialism, or anti-industrialism in some cases. Key elements include clockwork, steam power and fictional mechanisms such as a time machine, in a Victorian setting.

Catherine Draper, a Pima Community College general education student, defines steampunk as an aesthetic movement. 


“It’s very much about reliving the elegance of the old times,” she says. “For some people, it’s the elegance of technology and the details in that time period. Everything was beautifully detailed and had filigree on it.”

Other people enjoy the costuming, she adds. “It is Victorian costuming without the restriction of other historical societies. You can design whatever you want. It doesn’t have to be historically accurate.”


Dianna Diaz, a PCC theater major, calls steampunk difficult to describe.

“Steampunk is a fun style that not a lot of people know about,” she says. “It is a mix between Victorian and New Age.” 


Diaz was recently introduced to the steampunk movement through friends and fellow cast members in a shadowcast, “Repo! The Genetic Opera.” She attended a steampunk ball at last October’s RinCon Gaming Convention.

“I dressed up and that was about it, but I was not the only one,” Diaz says. “Everyone there was dressed in tiny top hats, had goggles and there were dresses galore.”


PCC liberal arts major Emma Waters describes steampunk as both a lifestyle and an art style.


“For some people, it’s kind of a lifestyle they live, in a more Victorian-themed style,” she says. “Some people like to make sculptures that look functional, some people like to paint people in Victorian style with various clockwork gadgets.”

Waters says she has seen online posts from engineering majors who design functioning gadgets that use only clockwork machinery.

She learned about steampunk during an online search. “I was on and I saw something that said ‘steampunk’ so I checked it out. I thought it looked cool. I know definitely what drew me in was women in corsets.”

The fashion aspect also attracted Draper. “I love Victorian costuming,” she says. “Through researching Victorian costuming, steampunk came up a lot.”


Steampunk has spawned a music genre as well. Artists include Abney Park, Doctor Steel, The Clockwork Quartet, Unextraordinary Gentlemen and The Cog is Dead. Some steampunk enthusiasts also consider artists such as Emilie Autumn and Voltaire to be in the genre.

Abney Park, Unextraordinary Gentlemen and Voltaire are among the musicians performing at Wild Wild West Con, a first-year steampunk convention taking place March 4-6 at Old Tucson Studios.

Autumn draws her musical influences from the same eras as steampunk, but labels her style of music as “Victoriandustrial” rather than steampunk.


Both Waters and Draper list Abney Park as a favorite artist. Draper likes Voltaire and Unextraordinary Gentlemen.


The steampunk culture is slowly working its way into mainstream culture. The television show “Castle” featured a steampunk episode last October, and steampunk conventions are held regularly throughout the United States.

One popular annual event, held in Hollywood, is the Labyrinth of Jareth. Revelers attend the two-day ball dressed in costumes inspired by steampunk and by the film “Labyrinth.”

Since many steampunk styles incorporate the Old West, it’s not surprising that Tucsonans are enthusiasts. A number of PCC students participate.

Draper offers advice to anyone thinking of exploring steampunk culture.


“Don’t be overwhelmed,” she says. “Most people are very welcoming. If you can’t sew, thrift store shopping and throwing something together is perfectly acceptable.”

She reminds newcomers that steampunk is alternate history. “Even if you don’t have something that is historically correct or you design something that is not Victorian, it’s OK.”

PCC student Catherine Draper models her steampunk attire. April George, Aztec Press


What: Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention and Festival

When: March 4-6

Where: Old Tucson Studios, 201 S. Kinney Road

Cost: Varies. Three membership levels and event tickets on sale.


Review: ‘Marvel vs Capcom 3’ plays it safe

Review: ‘Marvel vs Capcom 3’ plays it safe


Fans of the fighting series Marvel vs Capcom have waited more than 10 years for the newest installment.

“Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds” has finally hit store shelves, and gives gamers the right dose of intensity.

MVC3 is a fast paced, beautiful fighting game that offers a fine amount of re-playability.

Each character has unique quirks that are very entertaining to use. Veterans like Ryu and Wolverine return, joined by newcomers such as Dante and Viewtiful Joe. One of my favorites is X-23, an ultra badass female version of Wolverine.

However, the roster has been stripped to 36, while its predecessor offered 56 playable characters. This is the biggest change of the game, and it does take away from the game’s value.

When trying to pick my trio to do battle, I found myself missing favorites from the last MVC.  It’s a letdown not being able to use Gambit or Strider Hiryu.

Players might feel cheated by this, but Capcom plans to add characters to the roster through downloadable content.

The look of MVC3 has also changed. Unlike the arcade style used for MVC2, Capcom decided to use a comic book design.

This was an intelligent move on Capcom’s part. It brings the fighting mechanics alive, especially when the completed hyper combos show vibrant colors all over the screen (similar to an acid trip without the use of any narcotics.)

The most entertaining part of any MVC is the epic fighting mechanics. Not much has changed in the MVC3 fighting style, which is not horrible. The same fast paced, ultra high combos are here again, with the small addition of aerial combos and X-Factor.

Players perform the aerial combos during a fight, using a simple button to battle mid-air and tag a partner. It adds to fighting mechanics in an entertaining way and never seems to get old.

The addition of the X-Factor mechanic gives players an energy boost during battle that can potentially change the momentum.

Online fights are offered, but make sure you practice before entering that gauntlet. Otherwise, you’ll get destroyed every time.

This MVC diamond-in-the-rough has minor flaws. One major disappointment: few fighting modes to choose from.

Arcade mode is still present, but there’s not much left to do after beating it countless times. Sure players can master their skills in training mode, but it doesn’t offer much depth to the game. And where is survival mode? Plus, only four characters are simple to unlock.

The most entertaining part of the series was building up points after hours of playing, and purchasing the characters.

It’s understandable that Capcom didn’t want to change too much of the game’s core value, but additions should be met on the release (not months later in DLC, just to make few bucks.)

Despite its flaws, MVC3 offers well-rounded gameplay.

Capcom has added another fine installment to the series, but it could have been a much more dynamic experience.

Grade: B