Posts from January, February, and March of 2002.

March 24, 2002...  I Like the Sprite in You

A couple of weeks ago, another web site editor expressed his disgust with sprite comics, the strips published on the Internet that use altered artwork from video games rather than original drawings and characters.  He's got a right to his opinion, but if you regularly visit this site it's pretty clear that I don't share it.

What really bothered me about his editorial was his comment that sprite comics demonstrate a lack of creativity on the part of their creators.  That's not always true... some of the Flash films and comics I've seen were clever satires and tributes to the games that supplied the artwork.  In fact, I'd go out on a limb and say that taking the characters directly from the games helped the authors deliver their messages more effectively than hand-drawn characters would.

There's also the issue of time.  I don't know about the rest of you, but it takes me hours to pencil, ink, shade, letter, scan, and apply finishing touches to a comic.  I'm willing to take that time if the comic stars my own characters or if I'm drawing a strip as a favor for somebody else, but if I just want to point out Sakura's silly attire in the Street Fighter series, hell yeah I'm going to take the characters and backgrounds directly from those games!  It's just not worth spending an obscene amount of time drawing my own loose interpretations of the characters that my readers may not even recognize.

That's why I personally have no problem with sprite comics.  Sure, most of them are pretty lame, but the best ones can take situations and characters from popular video games and not only parody them extremely well, but perfectly illustrate how the games would have looked if Mario got sick of rescuing the princess or someone offered Sindel from Mortal Kombat 3 a Tic-Tac after enduring her scream fatality.

I just wanted to get that off my chest.  Anyway, since we're talking about comics, I just thought I'd mention that Byron, the official Gameroom Blitz mascot, is going to be one of the contestants in a celebrity edition of a comic called Eleven Must Die.  Don't get too excited, though... he won't actually be killed.  Instead, each of the comic's guest stars will be given a crystal ball that keeps them anchored in another world... if the ball breaks, they're thrown back to their own realities.  What's great about this is that nobody knows for sure who will be the last character standing.  Although Eleven's creator and the guest artists can influence the story, only a handful of volunteers will be able to write characters out of the storyline.  Each of the volunteers will be selected randomly, and the person chosen will in turn be able to remove one of the guest stars.

Yeah, we've seen this premise in a lot of television shows, but it's an innovative idea for a comic, especially a furry comic that reads like a tounge-in-cheek Dungeons and Dragons.  It's going to be tough for Eleven Must Die creator Chris Farrington to make characters from twelve entirely different artists interact convincingly, but judging from the quality of the last two chapters of Eleven, he's got a pretty good shot at it.

March 1, 2002...  Sing a Song of Shenmue

Yikes... it's been a month since I last updated this site!  Looks like I'll have to make up for a lot of lost time.  Let's see, I'll add a Virtua Fighter 4 review here, some guest reviews over there, a new addition to Fighter's Misery here, and... there, that ought to do the trick!

If I'm gone for another month or more after this, I've got a pretty good reason for it.  I'm working on upgrading my computer from a wimpy Pentium 166 to something at or near the gigahertz range.  Soon, even the most inefficent emulator won't be able to stop (or more accurately, slow to a crawl) my newly empowered PC.  I'll even be able to- dare I say it?- step into the 90's with MAME!

I don't know if I'll be upgrading to Windows XP, though.  As tempting as it is to help phase out that obnoxious paperclip (even Microsoft's turned on that thing!), I'm not really fond of the operating system's new, overly glossy look.  Bill Gates has taken a lot of ideas from Apple in the past, but I don't think he's ever been as transparent about it as he has with XP.  Plus, it's even more resource hungry than previous versions of Windows, and I can't justify wasting all that power if there aren't any appreciable benefits from doing it.  Of course, I said pretty much the same thing about Windows 95 five years ago, and I eventually fell in line just like everyone else.  I suppose it's only a matter of time before I upgrade to the new operating system... but you can be sure that it'll be a long, long time. :)

Speaking of eventualities, I just bought the original Shenmue for about ten bucks, since every Dreamcast player seems to be required by law to pick up a copy.  I'm not as excited about the game as everyone else was... it's got a lot of problems that you weren't hearing about in the reviews, like awful control and inconsistent graphics.  Ryo's got all the precision and grace of a rusty farm tractor thanks to your typical Resident Evil/Tomb Raider style control scheme, and to make matters worse, the analog stick positions the camera rather than the character.  Shenmue's the kind of game that doesn't require perfect control, but it would have made selecting between two adjacent objects (the toy capsules in many of the towns come to mind) a lot easier.  Getting to my next complaint, the graphics are incredible.  Wait, I mean mediocre.  Hold on a sec, I meant excellent.  No, no, they stink.  It's really hard to decide because some characters, and even some parts OF the characters, look a lot nicer than others.  One of the biggest problems is that Yu Suzuki tried to drape photorealistic textures over low polygon builds, rather than balancing out the two as was the case in, say, Soul Calibur or Crazy Taxi.  There's a lot of detail on the faces of each character- they look more genuinely Japanese than the saucer-eyed stars of most video games- but their arms have rather obvious edges and some of the textures on their clothes are hideously pixellated when you get near them.  There's just no balance artistically.  Maybe AM2 should have considered sacrificing some of the wrinkles on the old ladies' foreheads and just improved their overall appearance.

Shenmue does have some merit, though, and I'm not just talking about being able to play Space Harrier and Hang-On in the local arcade.  First of all, it's set in the 80's, and who could complain about that?  Secondly, it's a nice peek at the rural side of Japan, which often gets neglected by the media.  Shenmue demonstrates that there's more to the land of the rising sun than towering skyscrapers.  Finally, it's hard to find a game with this much attention to detail... outside of Metal Gear Solid 2, of course.  It's fun to just buy stuff even if it has little to no bearing on your quest for revenge.

Ah, yes... revenge.  I could use some on that Evil_Shito guy, whoever he is.  In case you don't know who I'm talking about, check out my message board.  Judging from his attacks on Pat Reynolds and myself, it's safe to assume that he's an old acquaintance of ours from our days in fandom (personally, I think he's just cranky because our newsletters kicked the living, uh, Shito out of his).  I wonder if this person will have the grapes to reveal his true identity.  Even if he doesn't, it shouldn't be too hard to find out who he is now that the forum displays IP addresses.  Now, choosing a suitably cruel and unusual punishment for Evil_Shito after he's caught, now THAT'S the tough part.

February 2002...  Dude, Where's My Updates?

Not sure what happened to this month.  Evidently I was in a coma, or visited Tibet, or just didn't feel like updating.

January 25, 2002...  No Whammies, No Whammies, STOP!

Here's some exciting news for classic gaming fans... there's a BASIC compiler available that will allow you to design your own games for the Atari 5200.  So far, it's kind of limited... I can't imagine being able to write more than simple text adventures and Snake games with it.  However, when the creator improves it and adds more graphics and sound commands, I'll start work on a simplified 5200 version of the game show Press Your Luck.  It seemed like a perfect match to me... everyone who's familiar with the system hates the 5200 joysticks, but the beauty of a video game adaptation of Press Your Luck is that you won't need to use them.  You simply press a button to stop the marker as it flits around the screen, preferably on a space without a Whammy in it.  I'm planning two modes for the game, with one and two player options for both.  The first, Classic, is most closely based on the game show... the two contestants each get five turns, and can choose to pass play to their opponent if they think their luck has run out.  The second, Showdown, allows players to compete simultaneously by giving them both control of the marker.  This mode is timed for two minutes, forcing both players to take risks if they want to take the lead.

You'll find updates about Project "Jess Your Luck" here on The Gameroom Blitz, so keep comin' back!

January 19, 2002...  The Orgy of Destruction!

OK, so the last banner was a little embarrassing.  Here's one that oughta pump some testosterone back into this site's veins.  Those pictures, by the way, were from Game Hits' second annual Orgy of Destruction, where a bunch of frustrated gamers smash broken systems, games, and controllers into bite-sized chunks with the aid of hammers, baseball bats (aluminum, please!), cars, and even our bare hands if necessary.  The games get in their licks, too... occasionally, tiny shards of crappy CDs and monochrome Game Boys will lodge themselves into the hands of their assailants.  I was nicked by a piece of plastic the first year and Game Hits owner Shawn Sodman took some shrapnel the next.  Neither of us were seriously or even noticably injured, though, so it's more than likely that we'll be back for another Orgy of Destruction sometime in 2002.  Hopefully, I'll give the next one full coverage in The Gameroom Blitz.

January 17, 2002...  Random Thoughts (Arcades, Kabul!, and outside projects)

One of these days I'm gonna post an update on the same day I write it.  Oh well...

First, a correction.  Remember the story I printed about that local arcade being closed down by pressure from the town's council?  Well, everything about it was true, except for the part where I said the arcade owners were going to sue Lakeview for loss of revenue.  Brian Deuel recently told me that he decided to drop the lawsuit because he didn't want to deal with the paperwork and the lawyers and the court fees and all that fun stuff associated with taking legal action.  Personally, I wish he would have went through with it, just to make the lives of the former town council members even more miserable, but I can understand why he's not pushing the issue.

So hey, I guess my work was mentioned in an issue of Entertainment Weekly.  Unfortunately, the reference to Kabul! in their review of Atari Age was very brief, but maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to pull in a few dozen more readers from it.  By the way, the writer of the column gave Atari Age a well deserved A, so I suppose the editors of Entertainment Weekly do know a good thing when they see it... that is, when they bother to open their eyes.

Well, before I go, I should let you know that due to college and outside projects, I'm not going to update The Gameroom Blitz very much.  What outside projects?  Well, I'm planning on writing character descriptions for the English translation of Card Fighters' Clash 2.  The game won't officially be released in the United States, but thanks to the hard work of dedicated Neo-Geo Pocket fans, you can find the English version of the game on the Internet and even play it on an actual system with a backup device.  I've always wanted to be part of a project like this, and thanks to the CFC2 translation team (consisting of Judge, Comic-Kaze, Flavor, and others), I'm gonna get that chance.

I'd also like to spend more time drawing and contributing to Zoo Logic.  I've ignored the comic long enough, and considering some of the great articles he's contributed to my fanzines and this web site, I owe it to Josh to update it more than once every few months.  Plus, to be perfectly honest, I need the practice.  The less time I spend with a pencil and paper, the more my artwork's going to suffer.  I was thinking of adding an art section to this site a couple of years ago, and it could still happen if I become confident enough about my artistic talent.

January 7, 2002...  GRB at the Movies (also, Suikoden and Card Fighter's Clash)

Me thinks it's time for another update.  I really don't have any excuse not to write one... the holidays are over, my birthday's over, and I've got a few days left before classes begin again.  It's the perfect time to start writing again... and I have a lot to write about!

Let's get some of the off-topic stuff out of the way first.  I went with a friend to see Lord of the Rings... I'm not really a big fan of movies but I thought my friend would enjoy it, having done little else but play Final Fantasy X for the past week.  Maybe it's because both films were by the same company or because they were set in a fantasy version of the United Kingdom, but Rings reminded me a lot of Harry Potter.  They both went overboard with the special effects, and each film was a little on the long side... but they had great casts playing some very likable characters straight out of the books that inspired them.  I always thought Liv Tyler was just a hack actress riding on her father's coattails (as well as her own shapely figure), but her performance in Lord of the Rings was great.  It was also nice to see Elijah Wood get a starring role in a film like this... he deserves it after proving to the world just how lousy an actor Macauley Calkin really was in The Bad Seed.

We also caught a couple of trailers in the theatre.  Spiderman looks good enough, I suppose... if the film is anything like the sneak peek I saw, it's going to leave roughly half the audience stumbling out of the theatres with sensory overload.  I don't know about the casting, though... wasn't Toby McGuire the same guy who played the beagle in Warner Bros.' Cats and Dogs?  Oh well, I guess he needs the work, and so does Sam Raimi now that Hercules and Xena have both been cancelled.  As for Austin Powers 3, the preview didn't really tell you much about the film, but I'm sure it'll be even more over the top than the second one.  Plus, it'll give midgets everywhere one last chance to cash in on their height before the technology in Lord of the Rings renders them obsolete and legitimate actors get all the small fry roles.  I've got three words for Verne Troyer... Swiss bank account.

All right, it's time for a little video game action.  I spent most of the holiday season playing Suikoden, a smartly designed role-playing game that lets you establish a headquarters, then fill it with recruits.  The ones you take with you act as full-fledged party members, and the rest stay behind as non-player characters, adding options and features to the game.  It's one of the most rewarding RPGs I've ever played, since there are over a hundred characters to find, and each one contributes to the game in their own way.  The best part is that I've been assured by friends that the sequel is much better... and I've read on GameFAQs that yet another sequel to Suikoden is being developed for the Playstation 2.  I'll take 'em all.  Heck, I'd even try Suikoden Card Stories for the Game Boy Advance if there was a version available in English!

Hey, speaking of card games, I thought you guys might want to know about this... there's a translation of Cardfighter's Clash 2 (the Neo-Geo Pocket game starring hundreds of Capcom and SNK characters) available on the Internet now.  It's not finished, but what's there makes it playable, and I'm surprised at how faithful the translation is to the English text in the first game... even the font is the same.  As for the game itself, Cardfighter's Clash 2 doesn't seem quite as good as the first one because you can't actually walk around in each of the locations.  Also, the artwork on most of the cards has changed, and while it's still well done, the angrier characters aren't as endearing as the ones in the first Clash.  You do get a lot more cards, though... nearly everyone who wasn't represented in the original game is in Clash 2.  You'll find Rock Howard, Bao, Tizoc, the stars of Project: Justice, and even characters from Dino Crisis and Onimusha!  Hmm... now that I have these new graphics, it might just be time to retire the Bomberman picture I've been using to represent all of my contributors.

While I'm here, I might as well add another pair of reviews from John Roche and more links to my favorite sites.  As long as I'm changing the links page, I should remove the plug for, because I don't really recommend the site anymore.  It's a little strange that the advertisements have only gotten worse since they started that moronic subscription service... the only thing that really impresses about the site these days is that they've found places for ads I would never have considered.  They're about three steps away from beaming commercials directly into the minds of readers.  The only thing stopping them is that the technology is, at least according to Futurama, a thousand years away, and there's no way Imagine Games will be around long enough to take advantage of it.  Judging from the desperate pleas for subscriptions on, they'll be lucky to make it to the next episode of Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve.