Friday, November 11, 2011

Melee Man?

So there's this game on called Melee Man, which is essentially a Mega Man clone.  The graphics were set to the resolution to the Gameboy Color, which gives the game a cute retro feel.

(play the game here

The game was pretty solid, but I have a few issues with it.

First off, the signs were WAY too annoying. I'm not dumb, I can figure out that spikes hurt when I step on them, I would have figured out that killing baddies would reveal keys (I'm not going to leave an enemy un-blasted). I didn't need the arrows to tell me where to go. The level design was nice enough that I didn't need any signs. Maybe one or two explaining the controls, but that's the absolute most.

Second, the levels were too easy. I had no trouble getting through all the non-boss levels.  They weren't full of mind bending puzzles, or tons of enemies swarming around me.  They were simple levels that required no thought or skill.  I had no emotional connection to the game except for the fact that I wanted to complete it to analyze it.

Which brings me to my final issue. The boss battles had a significantly higher difficulty than the rest of the game. The first boss was hard, but not too hard, the difficulty for the preceding levels could have simply been upped a bit. But that final boss... Jeez. It wasn't impossible, and I suck at this game and was able to beat him... after literally 5 hours of gameplay! The only reason I kept with the game was that I wanted to be able to give a fair review. Even with only 8 hit points, it was like a Castlevania boss. It would have felt more fair if the levels weren't so damn easy. And I hardly felt rewarded at the end. I would have liked some kind of "Conglaturation" sceen at least.

In the end, I give this game a 7/10

Friday, November 4, 2011

Free to Play, Microtransactions, and Virtual Billboards

So as I'm sure many of you are aware, DC Universe has gone F2P (free to play for all of you anti-acronym freaks).  The change in business model has given the game a HUGE surge of new players.  Over 120,000 people signed up overnight to play DC Universe.  Now their servers are crashing due to the overwhelming demand for the game.  No doubt SOE is throwing an office parade in celebration, but now is no time to stop working.

If SOE isn't careful, the entire game could be ruined by F2P, as many games have been.  Such a huge name like DC would make that much harder to do, that is certain, but it can still happen (don't forget we once had a Matrix MMO).

At this moment, they have multiple tiers of accounts and already a DLC pack for bonus powers.  Player's could in the future begin to complain about buying your way to power (although in a game where Lex Luthor is a futuristic bionic cyborg hero/villain, that seems oddly fitting).  But SOE could lower the price of some of the microtransactions greatly with advertisements.

Now before I hear (well read) anyone say "What? I don't want commercials and banners in my game," listen to what I have to say first.  We live in an ad filled world, and sometimes it's enjoyable.  The highway has billboards ALL over the place, but no one really cares THAT much, unless they danger the wildlife (which is extremely rare).  I propose that DC Universe does the same.  Many games on consoles do this occasionally, but they don't have the huge pool of consumers that MMOs have.  In a "modern-ish" setting, like what DC Universe offers, advertisements would not only fit in the game, but would be rather GOOD to have in game.  I could see myself being immersed further in a world that connects so seamlessly to the real world.

Anyway, I was one of the 120,000 that joined up to play DC Universe, but since the servers have been down I haven't had a chance to play.  I am rather excited for it, though.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Retro Consoles

So I was cruising eBay last night, and I got the great idea, "Hey, lets check out some old things to bring nostalgia upon myself."  One thing led to another and I began looking up NES consoles.  By the end of the night I ordered a NES and a copy of the original Final Fantasy game.  The game and console should be here in just over a week, and when they arrive I'll write-up an article about those.

Final Fantasy I was a great game, but emulators aren't the same as a NES concole (I had a NES once, but I lent it to someone and never got it back.  It had my gold copy of The Legend of Zelda too...)
Anyway, that classic crispy sound of Matoya's Cave playing through my TV sounds wonderful to me.
I've got a couple games at home too, including Pro Wrestling, famous for the wonderfully grammatic line: "A WINNER IS YOU"  Never got to playing that one, but it's good as a collector's item.

Anyway, I'm interested in hearing about your favorite retro consoles/games or maybe your good finds on eBay.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Terrible Autosave Feature on Blogger

So I was going to write a wonderful article on the return to "8-bit" art and retro sounding music, but a simple accidental keystroke deleted all of it.

Now that wouldn't be a problem, except for one feature.

The autosave feature, which supposedly protects the user's documents in case the browser crashes, decided to kick in right at that moment.

So all of the work that I had done was overwritten as a blank document.  Seriously... What?
The autosave shouldn't be so "stupid" that it overwrites in that situation.
I would suggest there be a failsafe for that, and as far as I am aware, there isn't.

So, I guess this entry is a complaining rant.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Indie Kollection

The other day, a friend of mine told me about a magical land in which great musicians get together and supply music for the masses.  It turns out the magic was actually science and the land was the Internet, specifically The Indie Kollection.
My first thought, "K not C? Indie Mortal Kombat?" 
Sort of.
More correctly, it's a website on which GOOD indie musicians get the chance to show their chops. is actually only a subset of The Kollection but in all honesty, it's the best place on the website.  The Electro Kollection is decent, but I would stay away from the dubstep segment of the site.
Anyway, today on the top of The Indie Kollection, is a song by TV Girl titled "Benny and the Jetts".  Obviously the title is influenced by the song of the same name that Elton John sings, but the song itself isn't a cover at all. 
Quite a good song, if you ask me, and a great test drive for The Indie Kollection.
So if you haven't already, go check out The Indie Kollection at

Never mind the hipsters

Saturday, August 27, 2011

FACT mix 277, Blogger Errors, and more

I would like to direct you attention to a great track I found today (
It really is inexplicable, so you'll have to check it out for yourself. 
There is a wide variety of genres in this single mix, so it should be pretty enjoyable for anyone.
On another note, I tried commenting on some peoples blogs today and was greeted with a message claiming I did not have permission to do so.  After some quick research it appears it was a problem with cookies, but I don't really want to mess with that right now.
Also, tommorow I'll be moving into my dorm for my freshman year at DePaul University, which should be really really cool, I think.
I'd like to hear about Hurricane Irene from some first hand experiences, so if any of you are affected directly, or indirectly, feel free to blog about it/comment here.

That's all for now

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fall Creek Boy
So there's this collaboration piece that sounds absolutely beautiful, in my opinion.
Check out my friend, Sub-Radar's blog post (Link at the top)
That's where I first heard about this awesome song.
I just had to share it with you guys :)
I think this is the RIGHT way to autotune.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Trends and the Future Face of Music and Everything (My Spin on Things) Part Three: A New Hope

Today, there are two major factions of music fans: Those Who Listen to Top 40, and Those Who Don't.  I, being of the latter group, can not understand why people listen to Nicki Minaj, or Britney Spears, or Beyonce, or Wiz Khalifa, or... It really seems to me that people don't want to think, or if they do want to think, they want to think about degrading things and material possessions and drugs and alcohol. 
"But Shrugo, don't you see that they like to dance and that's what they can dance to?"  but they could dance to trance, for instance.  They don't need words to dance.  You can also dance to rock music, or jazz.  It's not that dancing is only capable through top 40, I think it's that they aren't willing to reject top 40 and dance to something else. 

I don't want to turn this into a bashing party, so I'll move along.  It's likely that we will experience another decade of this kind of this drugged up Pop music, since people haven't begun rejecting it en masse yet.  It may be longer than a decade from now, but I predict a rejection of this music much similar to that of disco, if not less violent; before this rejection can occur, I think the music needs to seize an even larger monopoly on the audience. 

The other music genres, before that overthrow, will most undoubtedly go through several changes.  I predict that indie music will gain more fans (the line-up at Lollapalooza supports my claim, I think), and perhaps gain some recognition into Top 40.  I don't mean indie as a genre, just as a method.  I mean independent music with either a small label or no label at all.  Big labels generally smother the creative freedom of young acts, and I think that technology is getting powerful and cheap enough to soon allow musicians to produce studio-quality work without selling their freedom to big labels.  Already, fan-funding is a popular way for artists of any kind to make money.  Check out Kickstarter, for instance.

Dubstep will probably just get more popular in the future, and most likely it will become especially prominent in the Top 40.  Once out of the underground completely, dubstep will all sound the same (it's getting close to that already) and most likely go unaccredited.  By that I mean the pop singers will have the title and the dubstep producers will get a name in the album booklet.  They won't care because they'll be getting loads of cash (I wouldn't care anyway).  I've heard predictions of mainstream mash-ups, but I find this much more likely.

Rock will probably experience another split in the future.  I can't name the participants yet, but I expect that today's metal will be part of that.  I think it will be on the losing side since, like glam-metal, it has a HUGE focus on appearance and hardly any focus on originality. The other side could be anything, but it will most likely be of a grassroots origin.  It's influences would be indie, grunge, and punk most likely (not exclusively of course) and it most likely it will be from some obscure place (I hear Fort Collins is an up and coming artist factory and possibly the next Seattle).

It's important not to leave out the fact that almost anyone can make music with the resources easily available today.  I could be optimistic and suggest that in the future there might be a "station" that people tune in to to make music in real time with random people, but frankly that's unlikely to happen.  Or if it does, it would suck.

Remember: nearly all of this is conjecture and much of it might not happen at all.  That doesn't mean I didn't research at all, but it means that no body can predict the future.  Any weather man will tell you the same.

In unrelated news:  a giant snowstorm will occur tomorrow night at 7:00 PM.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Trends and the Future Face of Music and Everything (My Spin on Things) Part Two: The Ascent to the Modern Era

This is where things start to get kind of tricky.  A lot of the following will be conjecture and inference since all of this is kind of recent-ish and stories still aren't quite straight.  
The tail-end of the Eighties showed this sort of transitional period in which the face of music changed drastically, more similar to what we have today.  Glam rock really began to decline and it seems that it pretty much died, giving the stage to the rest of arena rock.  Punk began to decline as well, but it was able to survive as it took on elements of hard rock and spawned thrash-metal and death-metal.  Punk also merged a bit with Alternative and this is basically the origin of the Seattle grunge scene.  Punk also showed inklings in emo, which would of course transform later into the new form of emo.  Glam rock's looks took some aspects of new-wave and formed the kind of pop-music we have today.  New Wave itself persisted throughout though, and never really gained more success or declined all that much.  Arena Rock got really big, and took on some more of the excessive traits of glam rock, without as much makeup. To gain popularity, Hip hop incorporated some elements of pop, and actually made some good music with the extra level of production that added.

In the early Nineties, Arena Rock received a nearly deadly blow from Grunge, which became super popular when the Sub-Pop label began to gain press coverage.  There was a HUGE explosion of popularity in the Seattle-Scene, which incorporated the anti-establishment attitude of Punk with the indie style of Alternative and actually some riffs from Arena Rock.  The big blow was dealt when Kurt Cobain publicly declined an offer to play with Guns N' Roses, whose front-man Axl Rose wore Nirvana shirts and was apparently a fan, and stated that he didn't like the excess that they endorsed, similar to the rejection of disco in the Seventies.  Grunge and Alternative took the throne by force it seems and Arena Rock took second-stage.  Pop Punk began to gain popularity as well, with bands like Green Day and Blink-182.  The Arena Rock fans began to shift to either Alternative or the mainstream or more underground metal acts.  Alternative started getting a bit heavier, but Grunge all but died with the death of Kurt Cobain and Alternative started going into a post-grunge phase, that was not as popular as Grunge was before, yet still a bit popular.  Bands like the Foo Fighters, Matchbox Twenty, and Nickelback gained popularity and carried the torch into the early 2000s, and some of the bands survive to this day.

Now we get to the 2000s, the era of Napster.  The Internet had, at this point, a very popular center for music downloads.  In 1999, Napster was launched as a place where people could search for an artist, or song, or album, and download it immediately.  The best part, it was 100% free.  Soon, millions of people had begun downloading music from artists they'd never even heard of, just because they could listen without having to worry about wasting money if they didn't like the music.  Even already popular bands used and supported Napster, often putting their own albums up for free.  The Offspring released Conspiracy of One this way, and tried putting it up on their own website, but their own record label threatened to sue.  Other artists, such as Metallica, Madonna, and Dr. Dre, opposed Napster and the company was sued in 2000.  It is important to note that it was the performers making the most money that whined the most about Napster.  In fact, largely unknown artists, as well as some just beginning to get attention, actually benefited from Napster.  Why?  Just because people download a song, doesn't mean they don't want to support an artist.  Napster actually improved the sales of many artists, purely out of support of fans.  One could easily make a compelling argument that the groups that opposed Napster didn't care about or trust their fans.  Record labels also despised Napster because it was making them obsolete, so they struck back with their already overloaded wallets.  This is true even today, free music only supports the artist further.  I was once told that "pirating" hurts working class laborers who make CDs in a factory, but those CDs are sold everywhere, not just record labels.  People buy blank CDs at stores like Wal-Mart, for instance.  And even if they didn't, the CD will likely go "extinct" the way other forms of music have, such as vinyl or cassette, and to prevent that change would be halting progress for no reason.  Anyway, Napster eventually fell, but people had tasted freedom and other forms popped up left and right in it's place, much like a hydra's head (these days, labels realize that their best bet is preying on actual users).  Now what does this have to do with music trends?  EVERYTHING.  Because anyone could hear anything, influences were spreading like wildfires, and genres were being born (or at least recognized) like rabbits.

That is the world in which we live today.  The Internet has spawned so many genres that when people ask what you listen to, the response is often a list of genres, rather than a list of artists.  And we keep getting more of them.  Genre-overload is kind of the state of things, but perhaps it is something we just have to get used to.  So without further ado, I present the 00s.

The Early 2000s: In the early 2000s, we have some garage rock showing up like The White Stripes and The Strokes, as well as a large influx of metal in a new form, nu-metal.  Nu-metal began later in the 90s, but reached its peak earlier in the next decade.  Nu-metal was really a child of the Internet, because it combined elements of so many genres, such as grunge, hip hop, industrial, and funk.  Some nu-metal artists of note were System of a Down, Slipknot, and Korn.  The brother genre of nu-metal was rap rock, which gained only slightly more publicity, due to the popularity of hip hop, and the focus on rapped lyrics.  Rap rock bands of the early 2000s were Staind, Papa Roach, and Linkin Park (a band which also incorporated elements of electronic music).

The Mid 2000s: The second wave of emo began in the 90s and broke from the underground in the early 2000s.  By the middle of the decade, emo had taken hold of the mainstream rock sound with bands like Fall Out Boy (whose label, Fueled By Ramen, had become the Sub-Pop of emo), 30 Seconds to Mars, and My Chemical Romance.  Though many artists claimed they weren't emo, their fan-base most definitely was.  Emo gained a very special form of popularity.  It's sub-culture fan-base incorporated elements of punk and gothic fashion, and the obsessive "non-conformism" of both.  Ironically, it was cool for emos to reject the emo label, and often reject any label whatsoever.  A common belief was that emos mostly practiced self-mutilation; though there's no real way to prove it, the imagery was most definitely present, and depression was least of all rejected.  A sub-genre of emo, dubbed screamo, never really gained much popularity but lent much influence to other acts.  Screamed vocals were gaining popularity in the mainstream, often at the peak of an "intense" moment.

The Late 2000s:  Emo fans split off two ways when emo began to lose popularity.  Many emo fans were drawn to screamo's, raw emotional sound, and began to listen to inspired bands like Alexisonfire, and The Used. Many of these fans moved on to Metalcore, which had been growing in popularity.  Metalcore mixed metal and punk in a fast and loud sound that attracted many youths.  Metalcore bands of notability were As I Lay Dying, The Devil Wears Prada, and Bullet For My Valentine.  While originally metalcore wasn't derived from screamo, it was later influenced when the fans of that genre began to merge.  This genre is seen as the origin of many genres today, which have affixed *-core to the end of a word, sometimes in a humorous fashion, designating a "hardcore sound".  This is probably the birthplace of the "scene" scene, which borrowed much from emo in terms of fashion, and was aggressively opposed by metal "purists" who often claimed scene was ruining the genre of metal.  The other fans of the "dead" emo scene began to sort of reject the dark imagery and keep the non-conformist/anti-establishment mentality as they moved on to listening to indie rock. These fans eventually grew into scenesters, now more commonly known as hipsters.  For the sake of consistency, I'll briefly explain hipsters.  Hipsters obsess over the obscure and unique, often searching the underground for music they think is either a) completely unheard of or b) too unique for the mainstream to appreciate.  If a "hipster" band goes mainstream, it is completely rejected by hipsters.  Anyway, this sort of leads us to the modern day...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Trends and the Future Face of Music and Everything (My Spin on Things) Part One: A History

The other night, I did something that I do consistently every three months: I started searching around the web for rumors of what the next big music trend might be.  For those of you sane enough not to know exactly what I mean by that, allow me to lay out a sort of historical timeline.
The Great Fashions of The Decades
Music has nearly always been a culturally significant innovation, yet it wasn't until the 20th century that music gained a stronger connection to the masses through the inventions of radio and the phonograph.  These innovations brought music even closer to the listener than ever before (a trend staring with or near the transition from Baroque to Classical, or so a reliable source tells me).  It was in this burgeoning period of musical inventiveness that Pop music truly began to form.  Instead of music being created and performed for large cultures, in the 20th century, music began to instead target subcultures, especially within Black communities.  This is how we got Ragtime, Jazz and the Blues.  These began to change and split off into different forms, such as Swing and Bebop.  In 1931, George Beauchamp invented the first electrically amplified guitar.  I don't really know why, but this was, in my opinion, the turning point of music, changing into the Pop-Culture that it is today.  Below, I will list out the huge cultural forms of music, the trendy genres if you will.
1950s: Rock and Roll - Inspired by jazz, country music, and blues, Rock and Roll is best known as the genre of Elvis Presley.  This is where we start to see lots of blatant sex appeal and imagery jump into music.  (Though there has always been dancing, Elvis Presley's hip-gyrating television performances led to some of his appearances being filmed from the waist up).
1960s: British Invasion - The Success of rock and roll in America crossed O'er the Pond to Britain and groups that gained popularity there made a sort of pilgrimage back to America in the early 1960s.  This was hugely successful and became known as the British Invasion.  Some acts of this era were The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, and The Yardbirds.  During this time, another rapid evolution changed popular music: Psychedelia - Music composition style was not the only carry-over from jazz and blues to rock and roll.  In the Sixties, drug use became very prominent among successful acts and the audience.  These artists began to experiment with many drugs, including relatively new scientifically created chemical compounds like LSD.  Under the influence of these mind-altering substances, artist began to change their sound drastically.  The Beatles began to implement Eastern sounds into their songs, Jimi Hendrix was famous for using his guitar in unorthodox ways, and nearly everyone began distorting their sound with fuzz boxes and wah wah.  The Hippie movement is arguably a creation of this music scene.
1970s: Progressive Rock - This is probably my favorite of the popular music trends.  Psychedelia began to get a bad rap in the late Sixties: Charles Manson was inspired by the Beatles and many of the stars began to die of overdoses, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin being two.  Obviously, the drug use never died, we still have that in music today.  The major influence from the Psychedelic period was the sound and complexity.  Musicians were influenced by classical music equally as much as blues and jazz, as well as world music.  Progressive Rock also often utilized synthesizers and sometimes string ensembles.  Prog Rock bands liked to change tempo, time, key, anything they could think of changing really, and the songs were long.  I mean REALLY long.  Echoes (Pink Floyd) clocked in at 23:31, 2112 (Rush) at 20:33, and Thick as a Brick (Jethro Tull) was an entire album with one song, the title track, lasting 43:46.  Concept albums were incredibly popular, as well as fantastical imagery.  Some noticeable bands were King Crimson, Genesis, Jethro Tull, Yes, Rush, and The Electric Light Orchestra.  The 1970s also had disco, but after a short heyday, everyone realized that they hated disco since it sucked.  They literally got together and burned loads of disco albums at Comiskey Park, and a riot ensued when they realized how foolish they had been to let it come so far.  Today, we owe some of our worst acts to disco, and many expect a full retribution as before.
1980s: This era experienced a great schism in the world of music.  On one side, there was punk.  Punk began developing in the late Seventies with The Sex Pistols and The Ramones as a backlash to "rock extravagance and excess" and went for a stripped down sound, with very little complexity.  The genre started gaining mainstream popularity among youths in the Eighties with bands like Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys, as well as hardcore punk bands like The Germs and Bad Religion.  The thing is, while punk was being rebellious and anti-establishment, glam and hair-metal was ruling the other side of pop-culture.  These guys basically took the look of some Progressive Rock bands and took that to an extreme with acts like Twisted Sister and Poison.  Pop-Metal had some more toned down acts too, like Guns N' Roses and Aerosmith, but these acts were still big on theatrics.  So punk and pop-metal were on two sides of a great divide.  During this time, many sub-genres and spawns began to form: New Wave was a strange breed that mixed elements of disco, punk, and experimental electronic, together in a strangely acceptable way.  We get Devo and The Talking Heads from New Wave.  Indie/Alternative Rock started to form here too.  Popular with the college kids, bands like U2 and R.E.M. started making some headway onto the popular music scene.  Hip-hop also became popular in the 1980s drawing on looping techniques developed in the Progressive Rock era and the 4/4 dance-ready beats of disco.  Hip-hop filled a huge vacuum of Black listeners, as it was generally a Black art form.  Chuck D and Cypress Hill gained some success here and the tail end of the Eighties began what is known as the Golden-Age of Hip hop.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo

Okay, I know that A LOT of people hate this show, but I actually really enjoy it.
I've been watching it recently, mainly at a snail's pace but it still counts as watching, and I've really enjoyed it.
The show seems to have the delivery of children's humor, but in that delivery it pokes fun at itself in an endless cycle of self-deprecating, fourth wall breaking, continuity out of the window throwing funniness that it becomes worthwhile.  
But the truly INTERESTING part of the show is that even though it has all of this wacky Looney Tunes styled humor, it somehow has a rather serious (using this term liberally, here), consistent, and driving plot.  As a parody of shōnen anime and manga in general, Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo lampoons Dragon Ball, Gundam (Mecha in general actually), and many other fight-style series.  Actually, Bobobo throws in a few parody scenes of shōjo as well (a la schoolgirls prancing through meadows with flowery backdrops, for instance) which even further breaks down the boundaries between audience and script.  One scene poked some fun at the ridiculous children's shows in Japan (which aren't really much different than any other children's shows) with a seemingly infinite chant of "Honk honk, smells good!"
The show is, in fact, SO ridiculously vast in its archive of references  that it actually takes some brain power to recognize the various connections it makes.  In one episode, Don Patch uses a lyric from Marvin Gaye's song Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) as he runs to a Mr. Earth (Bobobo).
It is noteworthy that I have only watched the English dubbing of the show, but from what I hear, the show is just as witty in Japanese.
In short, Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo is one of those anime that makes people change the channel for some reason, but for the few that sit through an episode it is comedy gold.  Seriously, if you have some time, I recommend an episode or two, and if you have more time watch the whole series.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Rare Games

My collection of the original .hack// series is almost complete, I only need Quarantine and the whole set will be done!  I was at ACen, the big Midwest anime convention, and I spent hours looking for some games to add, and I found the 3rd part, Outbreak, but I still didn't have part 2, Mutation.  But I could recognize the opportunity, so I didn't pass it up and forked over the cash to claim my prize.  About a week later I spent two days driving around from Gamestop to Gamestop in search of the elusive part 2 of the original .hack// series until I found it.  It wasn't in its original case, but it still had the bonus anime disc from the original release, which was actually more than I had expected.  I feel like the fourth episode will be hardest to find; Gamefly doesn't even have a copy to rent out!  .hack is a great series, in my opinion, even if the gameplay isn't all that amazing, the world that was created is pretty amazing, I think.
Oh, speaking of ACen, there was a gaming room with TONS of games available for play.  And I MEAN tons; there was Battletoads, Katamari Damacy and its We  counterpart, M.U.G.E.N, some old SNK games with their arcade style controllers, and there was a HUGE crowd around the new Marvel vs Capcom (that game was a HUGE hit at ACen, its booth was always crowded).
So what I want to know now is, what rare games have you enjoyed playing/searching for?  What's the holy grail in your opinion?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Wow, I skipped April

I'm a terrible blogger, seriously!
Sorry that I skipped April, it was a...tough month, let's say.
Anyway, I never finished FFXIII, I couldn't take the torture.
I also tried my hand at Fable III, but the copy I was playing was pretty glitched.  I might try it again later though, it seemed good enough, though it lacked something; however, I did like the departure from silent protagonist, that cliché has been beaten to a pulp and beaten even more.  I know that it began with the technological constraints of the time, and for a while the homage was even desirable, but the trope has lived far longer than ever it needed to. 
That rant aside, games are looking good in the near future.  I checked out a preview for The Old Republic, and I have to say, I'm feeling pretty optimistic.  The game, it seems, will be departing from the plotless grind of MMOs, and moving toward a story centric mechanic, and knowing BioWare, a moral guideline from the Light to Darksides.  The PvP could go either way at this point, and I suspect some catches in it, but it shouldn't be poor enough that it keeps people from leaving WoW.  Speaking of WoW, I was quite disappointed with Cataclysm when that came out, the story-centrism wasn't very present, and where it was, it was poor and hardly central to the game at all. 
Another game that I'm excited for is Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.  It looks like an improvement on Oblivion, and this Dragonborn plot sounds good.  I read a preview for the game and it sounded as if the world is more affected by player actions than any game before.  I also read that if you see an NPC doing something, you can do it too, which adds another level of immersion.  It seems that Skyrim aims to improve upon the concepts that Fable introduced to mainstream gaming, though Elder Scrolls had been working on a greatly interactive world for a while. 
Other games that look good are the new Deus Ex installment, L.A. Noire (which should definitely appeal to my love of story and plot), Duke Nukem Forever, The Last Guardian (yes, I was a fan of Shadow of the Colossus, even though I never finished it), and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
There are a couple games already out that I haven't played yet, the primary concern is Portal 2, which I hear is beautifully genius, better than the first.
Oh, and since I'm blogging I might as well mention this whole Osama thing.
There, I mentioned it.
I'm going to avoid that topic for as long as can, though.

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to 2011 as a good year for games.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I'm into disc 2 now.
I gotta say that the game is losing it's sparkle for me and I'm wondering if I'll make it all the way through the game.
One of the biggest problems I have with FFXIII is the lack of an overworld.
Now, I know that it's not a requisite for a good game, but FFXIII kind of eliminates the whole exploration scheme that I've found in all the other games that I've enjoyed.
I can't go back and explore the locations I've visited in the past, everything seems kind of "mission-based" as in Halo or almost even Time Crisis!
This sort of linear gameplay really sucks the life out of me and just wipes me out.
In fact, this game is sort of becoming a hassle for me.
The plot is okay, but it has a really slow progression that kind of bugs me and there have been no twists or shocking reveals yet.
The battle system is kind of good, actually I think that may be what has kept me for so long, but it's not good enough to base a game off of, and you can even autobattle for goodness sake!
I'm really missing the glory days of the first Final Fantasy I've ever beat, FFII.
THAT was a great game.
It didn't try to be epic with it's story, but it was.
It even had that rebellion theme I love so much.
And the level system?
Wonderful!  I could replay that game over and over again coming up with new roles to play!
I'll try and finish this game up but I'm making no promises.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Final Fantasy XIII

I just got Final Fantasy XIII (360) in the mail from GameFly last night and started playing.  The first thing that struck me was the fact that it was a 3 disc set.  3 discs for a 360 game, it got me wondering what kind of adventure I would be getting myself into.  The game began with a great action sequence and the depiction of a world in danger.  Lightning reminds me a lot of Cloud from FFVII.  She's a former soldier (as opposed to SOLDIER) she has a cool sword (though hers is more like Squall's from FFVIII since it's apparently a gunblade) and her first scene is on a train.  Sazh, however, is not at all like the big bad black Barret from FFVII, that role probably goes more to Snow, who also seems like a mixture of Tidus from FFX for whatever reason.  Sazh does add comic relief as Barret often did, maybe there is some racist element that Square is hiding from us, some kind of blaxploitation perhaps? Just kidding! Square don't strike me down for that one.  Hope and Vanille are pretty cute kids too, Vanille having a happy exterior to hide her fear, and Hope having difficulty telling Snow that his mother was the woman who died.

All the main characters I've met so far are quite relatable and familiar.  This isn't a game that will spawn an army of Cloud cosplayers and hardly any other fans, but I can see people being interested in all the main characters.

This is just my impression from the first couple hours of playing, but I think this game will be great.
I'm going to keep updated on this game and try and keep the spoilers to a minimum, but I won't make any promises.

Love you guys!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dragon Age

Any of you guys play the new Dragon Age?
I've only played the 1st one, not even the expansion.
I never got into it that much, but the newer one looks more exciting since it seems more actiony.
Not sure why I couldn't stick with DA:O, but I'm giving it another try before I play DA2.
I want to be immersed in the universe already (again) before I start the new game.
I heard that the game left some hardcore fans with a bad taste in their mouths, but I'm more of a casual player so that's not that big of a deal.
If you've played it, what did you like and/or dislike about the game?
What's different?
I know they removed the origin stories completely, and that some character stuff is disabled.
How is the plot?
Please let me know before I buy it what I should expect.
I want to play it, so I might just rent it from GameFly if it's not that good.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dragon Ball Z

Hey guys.
Any of you guys DBZ fans?
I am, and I used to be shy about that.
It's not the most intricate anime, nor is it the most creative, but it really has great passion.
Plus, the epicness of the whole thing is awesome.  I really like the characters as well, they are both relateable and heroic.  The humor is also pretty good.
If you like any battle anime, you should probably like DBZ, it's a staple.

DBZ has GREAT games.  The Legacy of Goku series was quite good in my opinion, the 2nd one being my favorite (Cell was my favorite saga, though Janemba is my favorite villain)
Budokai and Tenkaichi are great games as well, I've spent hours playing those with friends.
They have that casual nature that the SSB series has, but there is still an amount of skill that goes into it.

Any of you guys have input?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Music You Forgot You Loved

Last night for some reason or another, I remembered one of my favorite bands, Coheed and Cambria.  Last year, there was about a month during which listened to their music non-stop.  So last night I found my copies of their songs, and started listening again.  I guess what I like about them is that prog-styled sound that accompanies their theatrical themes.  I also really like The Mars Volta, with whom I have a similar relationship (I had forgotten about them once, but quickly jumped back).

I wonder if this kind of fandom is normal?  Have any of you gone through the same kind of thing?
I do this with video games, books, and manga as well.
Reliving your favorites is pretty nostalgic, but even when things are new, I'll lose attention and discover something new.  I love my favorites.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bakuman Update!

Thank you to everyone who regarded my health, I'm better now.
Let's get down to business (to defeat the Huns).

So I've gotten caught up with Bakuman.
Maybe it's because I still haven't lost that original excitement I had when I first discovered the series, but I realy really enjoy it so far.
The most recently translated chapter is part of an arc that reveals a true nemesis for Ashirogi Muto.
I hope that he remains a long-running nemesis, because I think that some great psych warfare could play through this match-up, some that could even rival the L and Kira match-up.
Besides, since the hero is the good guy this time around, I don't feel as bad cheering for him. I want these two to use some awesome tricks and reveals.  I think that kind of thing is what make Ohba and Obata truly great as mangaka, their ability to interweave a story.
Throw in a couple gambit moves and we'll have a truly successful showdown as a result.

Side note: Since gambits and psychologically strategic warfare are so popular in entertainment and literature, do you think something like that (if not EXACTLY like that) could be implemented well in a video game?
I think the challenge would be making it interesting yet simple.  Bakuman truly does help with brainstorming, I think.  It is characterized quite well in the series.

Until next time!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I just recently woke up.
I was at home sick today, no school for me.
My appetite's pretty bad too, but talking about how sick I am would make for a really boring blog entry.
So I'm going to talk about games, as usual.
I recently received Naruto: The Broken Bond in the mail (GameFly is really amazing isn't it?)
So I was playing it, and I haven't gotten too far but I think it's a pretty decent game.
The only issue I have are some of the cut-scenes.
The cut-scenes often have little mini-games in them to complete so you can progress, but the games sometimes have a high difficulty that stops you from progressing. (Maybe I'm just not a skilled gamer or something)
I'm not sure if turning down the difficulty would make the mini-games easier, but I really don't want to turn down the difficulty for something as trivial as a mini-game, especially when the rest of the game is pretty easy.
Besides, I don't even like turning down the difficulty of a game anyway...
The other game I got in the mail was Red Dead Redemption, which I've heard lot's of good things about, but I haven't played it yet.
Some good game suggestions would really be helpful; I want to be in the industry after all is said and done.
So please make some suggestions, thanks!

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Sorry for not writing sooner, but I was busy this weekend at my state JCL convention.
Today I went to Barnes & Noble to check out some manga.  I was planning on simply finding a few manga to refer to the members of the Otaku Club at my school (I'm an officer after all), but I stumbled upon pure genius.
Bakuman is written by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, the creators of Death Note.  Normally, the creator of a manga or game doesn't usually draw me in, but I knew the talent that these two had, so I read the back.
It turns out that the story was basically two middle school kids who aspire to become manga artists.
In reality, this manga was a creatively fictionalized autobiography.
So I picked it up and my expectations were annihilated.
This manga is one of the best I've ever read, and I look forward to reading the rest of it (I happened to actually PURCHASE the first volume, something I don't normally do).
It's pretty inspiring, and being someone who wants to make games, something just about as taboo as being a manga artist, I can definitely relate to this story.
There's humor, romance, and manly manly guts in this story, and the art itself speaks volumes.
Even for non-manga fans, I definitely recommend this piece, it's pretty educational as well.
That's it for now, I'm going to read some more Bakuman.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Classics In Games

I've been looking for some games with references to the classics.
References to Virgil, Homer, etc.
The classics are the foundation of our concept of an epic story, but so many games seem to ignore them and prefer a simplistic "Joe does this and looks for said bad guy"
So many of our heroes have too perfect of morals (and in GTA, too evil of morals)
Where are the good revenge games?
Sure we have a few here and there, but there should be some more.
Picture our hero off at sea, fighting in a war for years, all for his king.
He comes back and finds his wife has remarried several times over and has a litter of new children.
In a rage, the hero fights off the current suitor and sends off his children to faraway lands as slaves.
Sure it's not exactly the perfectly moral thing to do, but people can associate with the humanity of the character so much more.
Protagonists are just far too selfless.
Some nice humanity would be a great addition to some games which lack realism.
That's my complaint for today...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Game Music

I've been writing a lot of music these days.
My motivation at the moment is my girlfriend who really likes my compositions, probably mainly because I made them.
But my musical style is heavily influenced by video games, and it would  be the highest honor to use my music in professional games, even if it were my own game.
I tend to write in a kind of ambient style, often with a slow progression and build up.
My influences are usually jazz, metal, and classical, so my music tends to be rather thematic and energized.
Music in games is in a downfall I think.
Many games used to have great epic scores that echoed the game and could be easily remembered even after the game was set down.  Nobuo Uematsu is one of the best at that kind of music.  But music these days is generally forgettable at best.
The melodies are usually pretty weak and the rhythm generic.
I want some music like that of Final Fantasy VII or Kingdom Hearts or Tetris or Sonic...
Even music in film is declining a bit.
I don't want some copy/paste notes or anything, but something with a bit more heart in it would be nice.
A friend of mine is writing a fantasy novel, over 400 pages I believe.  He wants his story to be published as a game one day; he's written music and even drawn out his character designs.
While the quality of his works might not be epically awesome and perfect, there is heart and beauty.
Films don't need to stick to bad music, Requiem for a Dream had a great theme!
I guess this is a call for good music in general.
The future needs a John Williams and a Nobuo Uematsu and even someone completely unprecedented.
So I will try my hardest to make the best music I can, and I hope that my readers will do the same.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

First Post!

So this is (obviously) my first post.
In this blog I will write about my experiences in the realm of game development.
I've just recently been accepted to the university of my choice, DePaul.  DePaul seems to be great for game dev and I have several colleagues that attend there now.
I've worked on a couple games in the past with friends, but nothing great yet.
The link I just posted doesn't hold any games I've worked on, but these have been quite inspirational to me.
Java is the only language that I'm proficient in at the moment, though I do know a little C++.
I might learn a bit of GML or XNA in the future, though I'm not too sure if those are very useful to the industry.
My favorite games are RPGs.
I seem to like the Japanese-made RPGs over Western ones, but that is most likely because they are more often of a higher fantasy level.
I enjoy some FPS games, but I prefer Halo, the least serious one, because it's easy to pick up and play no matter what your level of skill.
I tend to find skill in games a little overrated, but it is quite entertaining to watch professional tournament games sometimes.
My favorite RTS is Age of the Empires II, and my favorite TBS is Civilization IV.
Civ V is pretty fun, and a lot more intuitive and balanced, but I feel it is missing some of the epic feel that was in Civ IV.
My all time favorite game series is Kingdom Hearts.
I know that it's not very popular among core gamers, but the creativity and artistry are amazing in my opinion, not to mention the battle system which is one of the best.

I am truly excited to start a serious blog and I hope I get a lot of readers and I hope I can read a lot of my followers' blogs as well.