FALL 2003

Posts from October, November, and December 2003.

December 29, 2003...  Coming Attractions

Aw, crumbs.  I guess I'll have to retire the Christmas motif now, won't I?  I think I'll keep it around until after my birthday... it's always tough for me to accept the departure of the holiday season.

I've been working all night on the Blitz, but I don't have much to show for it... at least, not yet.  I've finished my half of a special article celebrating the Vectrex, a game system from the 1980's that's still actively supported by both its fans and hobbyists, who've designed their own Vectrex games.  I just need to get the other half of the feature from an old friend of mine and tweak the layout a bit and it'll be ready to be published.

December 26, 2003...  I Am the Gorfian Consciousness

It's been a while since I've done any programming, but after several years of inactivity, I'm starting to get that itch again.  There are a still a lot of games that haven't been ported to the Game Boy Advance, and it's become glaringly obvious that the only way those games are going to be translated is if I do it myself.  If I don't get distracted with the site and other important matters, I may dabble a little with Dragon BASIC over the weekend.  That way, I can determine if the utility is capable of producing something like this:

Gorf isn't the ONLY game I'd like to play on the Game Boy Advance, but it's pretty high on my list of priorities.  In fact, I think it'd be fantastic in a collection with Omega Race, Wizard of Wor, Solar Fox, Satan's Hollow, and a handful of other Midway shooters which have yet to be converted to any modern day game system.

December 24, 2003...  Eve of Distractions

On the 11th day of Christmas, my web site gave to me... a new 26 Hunter page, a link to this great shooter, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Here's a little more information about the aforementioned shooter.  It's called Dead Eye, and it combines the old-school alien annihilation of Galaga with the challenging point incentives of more recent shoot 'em ups like Ikaruga.  The only flaws I've noticed is that it gets exceptionally hard (unfair, even) in later stages and that joystick control is absolutely impossible.  Even handy utilities like JoyToKey don't seem to work with it.  Still, I like it... the level designs are simple but brilliantly effective, and the same could be said for the graphics, which combine a colorful starfield with crisply drawn computer rendered sprites.

December 22, 2003...  Taco Talk

Here's something I forgot to mention in previous updates... a couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to play an N-Gage, and I didn't think it was that bad.  I was a little disappointed, actually.  After listening to my friends and countless reviews on the Internet, I expected a game console that was pulled from the bowels of hell itself, but the N-Gage is actually kind of impressive.  It's the first phone with games that aren't laughably primitive, and the first handheld with solid 3D graphics.  You might be able to pull off a game like Pandemonium! on the Game Boy Advance, but you'd have to push the console to its limits, or add a DSP to the cartridge, like Nintendo's old Super FX chip, to make it work.

Having only played one game for the N-Gage, I can't offer a fully informed opinion of it.  However, from what I've played so far, I find it tough to hate the machine with the passion that I had before.  Damn you, Nokia!

December 19, 2003...  He Keeps Going, and Going, and Going...

The worst thing about renting games is that eventually, you have to take them back.  That's not much of a problem if the games you picked up stink, but when you get a gem like Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando, it's very hard to let it go.  Somehow, Insomniac has taken an overdone genre and made it fresh and exciting... they really are to 3D platformers what Pixar has been to animated movies.

Anyway, there's a new Zoo Logic comic on the site.  I'm happy with the way this one turned out, even if the subject material is a little dated.  The way I see it, it's NEVER too late to bash Spike's VGA awards and its smarmy host David Spade.

December 17, 2003...  Half-Hearted

I was really upset when I'd first heard that the official release of Half-Life had been cancelled for the Dreamcast, even though the game itself was entirely finished.  Now that I've played it, however, I can't say Sierra's decision bothers me all that much.  It's not just the mediocre graphics that turn me off... it's the insanely complicated control that has become commonplace in today's first person shooters.  Moving your character requires not only the analog thumbstick and digital joypad on the front of the Dreamcast controller, but the face buttons as well, which are used as a surrogate second joypad.  It quickly becomes obvious why games like Half-Life are more enjoyable on PCs... you really need a mouse and keyboard to precisely control both your character and his view of the world around him.

December 16, 2003...  A Second Look at Mega Man X7

Somehow, I managed to muscle my way through most of Mega Man X7, even finding all the pieces of X's Glide Armor.  It wasn't easy, but it did get more fun after I'd found enough hostages and items to change Axl from a fragile child to an android powerhouse.  I never reached Sigma, but when I consider how incredibly frustrating he was in previous Mega Man X games, I suppose I should be thankful I didn't.

Anyway, you'll find a review of the game here.  I'm also thinking about bringing back Zoo Logic, but if I do, the comic won't be ready for at least a couple more days.

December 11, 2003...  Seven's Deadly Sins

I've been playing Mega Man X7 over the past couple of days.  Since Capcom has apparently forgotten what is and is not fun, I'll remind them with this handy list...

FUN

Likeable characters
Competant voice-over acting
Fully controllable camera angles
Originality
Frequent checkpoints
Surprising plot twists

NOT FUN

Scenes with forced scrolling
Nearly impossible to target enemies
Being shoved into pits, spikes, and lava
Hostages who die before being rescued
Unending frustration
The predictable return of Sigma

December 10, 2003...  That's A Big Tree!

We're celebrating an Ikaruga Christmas here at the Blitz.  We're not only serving up a fresh review of the game, but this fun animation as well...

December 8, 2003...  Like Sand Through the Hourglass (game reviews)

And you probably thought I forgot all about Christmas, huh?  Well, that ain't gonna happen, folks... the most wonderful time of the year is getting the recognition it deserves on this site.

I've played a few new games over the weekend... I'm still in the process of writing reviews for them, but in the meantime, here are some brief thoughts about all three games:

BLOODY ROAR 4:  It's time to drag this one to the pound and put it out of its misery, Hudson.  The series took a big dip in quality with the third installment and hasn't been the same since.  The bright, colorful graphics that made the first two games so appealing have become dark and indistinct, and the brisk gameplay feels less precise.  Worst of all, Hudson has ignored players' complaints that the animal forms are too powerful, making them even stronger than before.  It's gotten to the point where playing as a human has become a liability, rather than a fun challenge.  Another irritating flaw is that the designers keep adding characters with alternate forms that aren't necessarily animals.  What the hell is a Spurious, anyway?  Whatever it is, I'm pretty sure I've never seen one at a zoo.

PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME:  Yep, I made good on my promise to play this one.  I practically had to try it, because Ubi Soft's constant advertisements left me overwhelmed with curiousity.  So, is The Sands of Time a worthy sequel to the original Prince of Persia?  Actually, I think it's BETTER.  The first game in the series was infamously difficult, but the ability to rewind in The Sands of Time helps reduce its level of frustration and encourages the player to experiment with their surroundings.  The fighting is more rewarding as well... now, you can fight multiple enemies at once, and your hero can use his agility as a weapon against the swarms of foes, rather than just his sword.  Finally, in an unusual twist, The Sands of Time has better control than the 2D Prince of Persia games, which felt stiff and demanded careful precision from the player.  The Sands of Time has only one serious flaw... limited visibility.  The playfields are rather dark and the camera sometimes obscures important details, making it tough to figure out just where to go next.

SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS: THE BATTLE FOR BIKINI BOTTOM:  I know what you're thinking... it's just another crappy Nicktoons game, right?  Not this time.  The developers brilliantly captured the silly fun of the cartoon... The Battle for Bikini Bottom has all the humor of the popular cartoon series and even many of the original voices.  The gameplay's not too shabby, either.  It reminds me of the Crash Bandicoot series, except with larger, less restrictive playfields that give Spongebob and his friends more freedom of movement.

I also tried the demo version of Go! Go! Hypergrind.  Ren and Stimpy creators SpŁmco and extreme skateboarding seem like an odd combination, but I'm pleased to say that it works surprisingly well.  The game plays very much like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, but in addition to doing tricks, you can guide your character into cartoony hazards which  spindle, fold, and mutilate them.  You're actually ENCOURAGED to do this, as the injuries increase the points you'll receive from tricks until your skater recovers.  The most shocking thing about this game is the artwork... the cel-shading in Go! Go! Hypergrind actually has the intended effect of making the graphics vibrant and cartoony.  SpŁmco also did a fantastic job with the character design, particularly the animals which really stand out.  I'm not sure what to think about the Johnson Brothers, a pair of stacked together siblings with phallic noses, but I can't really complain, as they're still infinitely more tasteful than those awful new episodes of Ren and Stimpy.

December 5, 2003...  Hard Sell

Dear readers, allow me to make you an offer.  I've got two Working Designs RPGs which I'd like to sell... Alundra and Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, both for the original Playstation.  Both games include every disc, and all the discs are in good, working condition.  The only things missing are Lunar's instruction manual and silly promotional items like the Nall plush toy, which former Working Designs employee Zach Meston will tell you makes a better dog chew toy anyway.

If you'd like to make a reasonable offer for either of these games, send me an e-mail and we'll discuss details like pricing and shipping.

Oh yeah... there's just one more thing.  Anyone who's still dancing to the Saikyo groove will be happy to know that I've refreshed the Dan Hibiki tribute page.  I noticed that the move list in Saikyo Crusher wasn't entirely accurate, and that the joystick motions for each move were somewhat difficult to read, so I fixed the errors I'd made earlier and replaced the text with more intuitive arrows. 

If you'd like to thank me, make me an offer on those games!

December 2, 2003...  Square vs. Spy

I don't know how I missed this one, but I heard that Insert Credit and Square-Enix clashed over an unauthorized video of Final Fantasy XII.  Insert Credit staffer Tim Rogers had taped footage of the game against Square's wishes, then snuck it out of a trade show and shared it with the rest of the world.  In retaliation, Square sent a legal notice to Insert Credit, warning them (in the kind of clumsy English only an SNK fan could love) to remove the footage from their site.  The editor of Insert Credit eventually complied, but not before having a little fun with the letter he received, inviting his readers to make Photoshopped parodies of it.

So what's my take on all this?  Even though I'm a much bigger fan of Insert Credit than I am of Square or Enix, I think Tim should have respected Square's request and just kept his camera off.  I don't really have any complaints about Insert Credit's making fun of Square's cease and desist letter, however.  I can't count how many times people have done this with poorly translated video games, so why is it suddenly so wrong now? All of the hopelessly obsessed Square fans out there really need to learn to take a joke, rather than taking offense whenever their sacred cow is tarnished.

December 1, 2003...  GameCube Review Spectacular!

I went to Lansing over the weekend to visit some of my friends, and the trip did me a world of good.  It not only lifted my spirits, but it gave me a chance to do a little catching up with the GameCube, a system I hadn't played since Super Mario Sunshine was released almost a year ago.  I gave nearly a half dozen games a test drive, and although I didn't play any of them long enough to write full reviews, I can confidently share my first impressions of them here...

IKARUGA:  Is Ikaruga really a sequel to Treasure's groundbreaking Saturn game Radiant Silvergun?  There's really no wrong answer to this question.  Although Ikaruga is heavily inspired by Treasure's first vertically scrolling shooter, it features play mechanics that make it an entirely different experience.  Switching your ship's color from light to dark and back is as necessary as firing if you want to survive... in fact, you may want to play a couple of games without shooting at all just to get used to the concept.  While Ikaruga is certainly one of Treasure's better games, it seems somewhat bland in comparison to Radiant Silvergun... you've only got one weapon and the graphics are rather drab.

MARIO KART DOUBLE DASH:  Mario Kart is back, and this time, you can bring a friend along for the ride rather than just racing against them.  Putting two characters in the same kart was a novel idea, but it doesn't seem to change the gameplay much... in fact, you'll rarely get the opportunity to switch drivers.  Despite this, Double Dash is every bit as good as the other Mario Kart games, and it looks better than ever thanks to the GameCube's advanced hardware.  Another nice touch is that anyone hit with a weapon will drop any items they're holding, giving the player even more incentive to steer clear of turtle shells and other road hazards.

P.N. 03:  This was one of the games, along with Killer 7 and the critically acclaimed Viewtiful Joe, that Capcom had started developing last year in the hopes of creating popular new franchises.  While I have to give them credit for exploring new ideas, they would have been better off making another Mega Man sequel than releasing this silly action game.  Product Number 03, or P.N. 03 for short, manages to be even more ridiculous and sexist than the worst Tomb Raider game thanks to its main character, a dancing queen with skintight spandex that leaves nothing to the imagination.  Although the action looks stylish, it's just not much fun because the control is so weak... you'll often find yourself cartwheeling INTO your enemies' laser fire rather than away from it.  This product should have been recalled, because it's clearly defective.

WARIO WORLD:  Since he was introduced in Super Mario Land 2 over ten years ago, Mario's demented evil twin has starred in a lot of games.  Nearly all of them have been refreshingly innovative, but Wario World is missing the creative spark we've come to expect from Wario games.  It's a simplistic side-scrolling beat 'em up with platforming elements... sometimes, you'll need to press switches to unlock secret rooms, but most of the time you'll just be punching and piledriving swarms of dinosaurs.  I've heard that Treasure was responsible for this game, but it doesn't match their modus operendi... I would have expected something more clever from them.

I also played a few games of the recent Neo-Geo fighter Rage of the Dragons, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  I didn't think the game was anything special when I'd first tried it, but after challenging a friend (namely, GRB staffer Carl Schafer) to a couple of matches, I'm seeing Rage of the Dragons in a whole new light.

November 26, 2003...  Viewtiful Bundy

The Dan Hibiki tribute page has been updated!  Special thanks go to Kao Megura for his assistance.

I don't have much else to say, so I'll just wish all my readers a happy Thanksgiving.  Oh wait, there IS one other thing I wanted to get off my chest.  Does Viewtiful Joe remind anyone else of Bud Bundy, the sarcastic, sex-crazed teen from Married... With Children?  I sure get that Rapmaster B vibe from him whenever he's not wearing his spandex.

November 24, 2003...  Whose Pac-Man Is It, Anyway?

I've moved into my new apartment, and I'm getting used to it... but my computer hasn't.  It's been acting up lately, giving me general protection faults errors and freezing during the boot up process.  It looks like I'll have to take it into work and figure out just what the trouble is, because I have an unsettling feeling that it will only get worse if the problem goes unresolved.

Anyway, I was just thinking... there's still a lot of confusion as to who created the Pac-Man series, thanks largely to Midway's taking all the credit for them back in the early 1980's.  Look at any Pac-Man arcade machine manufactured during that time and you won't find a single mention of Namco, despite the fact that it was actually the company that created the game.  Now that Namco's distributing Pac-Man worldwide, they should clear up the confusion that Midway had created by putting stickers on the fronts of all those old Pac-Man arcade machines.

Don't mind me... I'm just babbling.  Anyway, there's new content on Advance Theory and a full review of SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos on the review page.  Check it out!

November 18, 2003...  Catch-A-Sketch

I'm currently preoccupied with moving so you won't see many updates from me this week.  Fortunately, I do have a special treat that ought to keep the delays a little more, er, bearable... a guest drawing of Byron from Kiken, the editor of Dodge the Bullet.  By the way, DtB is a really cool site if you're into shooters... Kiken concentrates on a single game and offers all the information you could possibly want about it, including pictures, replays, and a detailed review.

November 15, 2003...  Double Your Pleasure

My recommendation for the day is Double Dragon Advance, Atlus's resurrection of the  wildly popular fighting game from the 80's.  Once you start playing, it quickly becomes obvious that this isn't just a straight port of the original arcade title.  Double Dragon Advance borrows ideas from the previous games in the series to offer the player more rounds, more characters, and more technique.

I was never a big Double Dragon fan... I always preferred Final Fight for its bigger, brighter graphics and faster gameplay.  However, Atlus improved the game so much when they brought it to the Game Boy Advance that I can't help but recommend it over the relatively untouched Final Fight One.

November 13, 2003...  Worlds Collide (or just clumsily bump into each other)

I've finally played SNK vs. Capcom.  As I mentioned earlier on my Livejournal, it's a solid game, but nothing exceptional... if you already own Capcom vs SNK 2 there's no reason to spend three hundred dollars on this.  However, it does finally give me a reason to update the Dan Hibiki tribute page.  I'll start work on that once I get permission from one-time contributor Kao Megura to use portions of his SNK vs. Capcom move list on the site.

Before I go, I've got a question for SNK.  Why has Bao suddenly taken up residence inside Hugo's hair!?

November 11, 2003...  Roots

The great thing about this hobby is that no matter how much you THINK you know, there's always something new to learn.  For instance, did you know that the popular party game Bomberman first debuted in 1983, several years before the NES version was released?  Furthermore, the plump little robots everyone's come to associate with the series are nowhere to be found in the original game.  Heck, there isn't even a versus mode!  However, it does share one thing in common with the later games in the series... the bombs.  They're pretty much the same as you remember them, still spreading fire in four directions and still dangerous to the player if they're carelessly dropped onto the playfield.

Here's another big surprise.  The underappreciated but always fun to play Buster Bros. series wasn't originally conceived by Capcom... Hudson came up with its basic play mechanics for a computer game called Cannon Ball, also released in 1983.  I'm not sure how Capcom got its hands on the rights to this game, but it was probably for the best, as Buster Bros. is a great deal more advanced and fun to play than the game that inspired it.

Finally, it appears that Fatal Fury may not be the first game in the long-running South Town series after all.  Prior to the creation of the Neo-Geo, SNK dipped its toe into the fighting game genre with Street Smart.  It doesn't look like the game has anything in common with Fatal Fury, but listen to the soundtrack and you'll hear more than a few similarities.  Here's the first round theme song from Street Smart, and the South Beach theme from Fatal Fury.  They're pretty much the same, huh?  It makes me wonder if there are any OTHER ties between both games that we may have missed...

November 6, 2003...  Dream Theater (brief arcade game reviews)

Well, I'm back from a two day seminar on cellular phones.  That doesn't sound especially exciting... and quite frankly, it wasn't.  However, since the seminar took place in a movie theatre, I got to play some great games in its arcade on my lunch and coffee breaks.  Games like:

SIMPSONS PINBALL PARTY:  Oh, what a difference ten years makes!  The first pinball game with the Simpsons license, released in the early 90's by Data East, was based on early episodes of the series, so like them, it wasn't that funny... well, unless you just couldn't get enough of Bart saying "Eat My Shorts".  Furthermore, the gameplay didn't really heat up until you activated the multiball feature.  Fortunately, Simpsons Pinball Party has more targets, more characters, and more of the humor people have come to expect from newer episodes of the show.  My only gripe is with the game's merciless difficulty.  I witnessed and personally experienced a half dozen drainers that occured less than ten seconds after the ball was put into play.  Also, the playfield is perhaps a little too extravagantly designed for its own good, with a secondary LED display and a large bust of Homer that rotates jerkily whenever the ball hits it.  The only thing these doodads really enhance is the price, which is why you'll be very lucky to find this table anywhere other than a exorbitantly priced theatre in a big city like Grand Rapids.

ZERO GUNNER 2:  Psikyo's known for its shooters... but it's also known for well-intentioned but flawed play mechanics.  This overhead shooter, featuring a trio of helicopters which can spin to face their enemies head-on, is a perfect example.  The concept had potential, but most of that potential is ruined due to a limited control system that cheats the player out of the precision they need to battle the swarms of jets and towering bosses.  You have to hold a button to turn your helicopter, and while you're turning, you can't dodge bullets or attack.  If the designers had included a dial controller or extra joysticks, Zero Gunner 2 would have been a lot more fast-paced and fun.  Without them, this shooter is too awkward to enjoy fully.

STAR WARS TRILOGY:  This is an older title by Sega that tries to capture all the exciting scenes from the first three (or should I say last three?) Star Wars films.  That's a lot to ask from just one game, and it becomes more and more clear as you continue to play that the designers couldn't handle it all.  The first round is fantastic... it's a polygonal redesign of the original Star Wars arcade game with a heart pounding conclusion inside the trench of the Death Star.  The second round, however, lacks the urgency of the first, and throws in a scenerio that's like Virtua Cop but with 100% more Stormtroopers and 100% fewer light guns.  The next round is a frustrating forest run on a Lightspeeder which drains your energy quickly with constant tree collisions and attacks from the always present Stormtroopers.  If you can survive (or have enough quarters), you'll move on to a climactic sword battle with a beautifully rendered Darth Vader, which somehow makes the annoyance of the previous two rounds worthwhile.  Overall, it's a pretty good game, but a little too ambitious.  It's tough enough to get all the action from ONE Star Wars film into a video game, let alone three.

November 3, 2003...  Six Degrees of Separation

I can't think of much to rant about right now, so I hope you'll be satisfied with the six new reviews I just posted on the Game Boy Advance page.  Hopefully I'll have an update for tomorrow that's a little less half-assed than this one.

October 31, 2003...  Long Live the King (or, Atlus Shrugged)

It's Halloween, so let me drop this tasty treat into your bag.  The next Game Boy Advance version of The King of Fighters will be released in the United States, but not by Acclaim as was previously reported.  Once they realized that it didn't suck the way the first game had, Acclaim passed the American distribution rights to Atlus, a game developer more worthy of the license.  That means you'll be able to buy the US version of King of Fighters EX 2 without feeling guilty about supporting a company that will use your money to torture gamers with more Turok sequels.

October 30, 2003...  That Ain't Spiffy

After burning a half dozen discs and playing twice as many emulators, I've come to the conclusion that emulation on the Dreamcast is more of a novelty than anything else.  It's a great opportunity for hobbyist programmers to demonstrate their skills, creating software on an outdated game system with few development tools.  Unfortunately, it's not always as fun to play these emulators as it is to design them.  Older systems like the NES and ColecoVision play beautifully on the Dreamcast, but anything more advanced is slow, slow, slow.  In addition to that, the menus in many of these emulators are needlessly cryptic, forcing you to hold down combinations of buttons to access some features.

Unless you absolutely, positively have to play video games on a video game system, you're better off sticking with your PC for emulation.  It's faster, easier to use, and compatible with a wider range of games.

October 29, 2003...  Ain't That Sbiffy?

Your eyes do not deceive you... I've brought back Zoo Logic, starting with this special Halloween episode inspired by (what else?) Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.  If you don't get the joke, play the game for a while, and it'll all come into focus.

Here's some advice for all your aspiring Dreamcast disc makers out there... Sbiffy! makes the process a whole lot easier, but you'll still want to pay close attention to the directions included with every emulator and homemade game you download, lest you be left with a spindle full of wasted CDs.  The discs themselves may run on the Dreamcast, but that doesn't mean any of the games on them will.  Don't learn this the hard way... read those README files!

October 27, 2003...  I'm Interested in This

I'd say it was time for a new review... and I'm not talking about one of those crappy little ones at the bottom of the page!   It shouldn't be too tough to guess what I'll be reviewing, since it's almost Halloween and I've been expressing my undying devotion to one game in particular over the past week.  However, I think you'll really enjoy this review, even if you're not especially surprised by it.  Click here to read all about Konami's fantastic Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

October 24, 2003...  Sony's Loss is Your Gain.  Okay, MY Gain...

It's been reported that Sony has lost millions of dollars this year, due in large part to its Playstation 2 game system selling below expectations.  Respected analysts have predicted that this will have a profound negative effect on not only Sony, but the entire video game industry as well.

So why is this man, a devoted fan of video games since the days of Pong, smiling?

It's because he thinks the effects of Sony's losses will ultimately be good for the industry.  Third parties like Acclaim, which have survived by paying millions of dollars for hot movie licenses and attaching them to lackluster games, will no longer be able to afford these properties, forcing them to either improve the quality of their software or go out of business.  And Sony, which has become increasingly arrogant and ineffectual over the past eight years, will finally be forced to take their customers and licensees more seriously.  Sony's policies on content will become less restrictive, allowing third parties to release great games like Metal Slug 3 and King of Fighters 2001.  Best of all, Sony's losses will make the playing field more level for competitors like Nintendo and Microsoft.

Don't listen to the naysayers.  We as gamers only stand to benefit from Sony's losses.

October 23, 2003...  Jess's LiveJournal Debut

I've got a LiveJournal now!  If you just don't get enough Jess on this web site, you'll find even more of my bombastic opinions here...

http://www.livejournal.com/users/mneko

I just started the journal yesterday, so the layout's a little plain... I hope you're not expecting a slick background or cute emoticons that express my every waking emotion.   That stuff's going to have to wait until I'm a little more familiar with LiveJournal and how it works.

Well, enough about me.  I've got good news for everyone who's still fiercely loyal to their Dreamcasts.  There haven't been any new games released for the system, but you can still play plenty of old ones, thanks to the emulators on this site...

http://imrtechnology.ngemu.com/emulators.htm

October 22, 2003...  Oh Brother

It's no secret that I like bears, so it should be equally unsurprising that I had looked forward to Disney's next animated movie, Brother Bear.  However, if the early reviews I've read are any indication, I'd probably be better off just taking my seven dollars to the nearest zoo.  According to the critics who've seen it (as of this writing there's only been a small handful), the movie is so politically correct that it makes all humans- even American Natives!- look like villains for hunting animals, even going so far as to refer to them as "monsters".  Oh, puuuuhleeease.  While I certainly agree that it's selfish and wrong to kill a bear just to add a conversation piece to the center of your living room, it's a different matter entirely when you're freezing your ass off in northern Canada and nobody's invented cotton-polyester blend sweaters yet.

I've also become increasingly annoyed with the two moose in the film, who Disney has groomed to become their next wacky animal mascots (I'm guessing that a crappy television cartoon is just around the corner for them...).  Michael Eisner's trying to pass them off as clever new characters, when the truth is that they're just half-baked copies of the McKensie Brothers from SCTV, even sharing the voices of Rick Moranis and Dave (not the burger guy) Thomas.  If you're thinking of watching this emotionally manipulative, bleeding heart drivel just for these two characters, do yourself a favor and listen to the McKensie brothers' 12 Days of Christmas on Dr. Demento instead.  You'll save yourself a fistful of dollars, and more importantly, your pride.

October 20, 2003...  Sym-tax Error (Symphony of the Night observations)

I'm falling in love with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night all over again.  I had the Saturn version of this game a few years ago, but the Playstation release is like a whole new experience.  The special effects are noticably better, with unique death animations for nearly every enemy and a light sprinkling of polygons that enhance both the background scenery and your foes' attacks.  In addition to that, the English text and dialogue makes the game easier to enjoy... you never have to guess which weapon does what or where the storyline is headed, because the game always makes every detail perfectly clear.  While it's true that the Saturn version of Symphony of the Night has a couple of extras you won't find on the Playstation, the inclusion of a hauntingly beautiful courtyard garden and the ability to play as Maria Renard doesn't make up for everything the Saturn version is missing. 

There is one slightly odd thing about Symphony of the Night on the Playstation, though... specifically, the font.  I like the Commodore VIC-20 as much as the next guy, but why'd Konami choose to put its character set into the game rather than a font that better fits the mood?  I kept thinking the dialogue between Richter and Dracula in the first stage was going to devolve into something like this...

October 17, 2003...  I Can't Bear to Look!

Eduardo's at it again!  The man from Opcode, anxious to release another great ColecoVision game, has started porting titles from the MSX computer.  His first choice is Sky Jaguar, a Konami shooter with the intensity and variety that's often lacking in similar ColecoVision games.  He's hinted at even bigger and better things in the future, but he hasn't gone into specifics, other than mentioning the possibility of an expansion pack similar to the one Coleco themselves had planned to release... before introducing the ill-fated ADAM computer instead.

Well, I've started drawing again.  I'm slowly regaining confidence in my artwork, and I'm dabbling with different art styles, hoping to improve my technique.  In this drawing, I've borrowed ideas from a famous animation studio to give both Clyde and Byron an old school look.  However, I don't they're as happy with the results as I was...

October 16, 2003...  This Post is Rated AO

Updates are going to be less and less frequent over the next few weeks... I'm looking for an apartment right now, and that demands my full and immediate attention.  Everything else in my life is going to have to take a backseat until I've found a place to live and the funding necessary to afford it.

So... have you heard about Rockstar's latest game, Manhunt?  If not, you're gonna loooove this.  It stars a convicted murderer who's rescued from death row to make snuff films.  Yeah, really.  It sounds like one of those silly video game parodies on The Simpsons, but the sad thing is, unlike Larry the Looter, this is for real.  What's even worse is that some people I've talked to (specifically, the very dumb ones) are actually looking FORWARD to this morally bankrupt sludge.  I can't help but hope that those people eagerly run home to play the game the day it's released, only to discover that Rockstar's pre-release information was bogus and that Manhunt is actually the first gay porn video game released in the United States.

October 13, 2003...  Fine Connecticut Leather

All right, that takes care of the ColecoVision pages!  Hopefully, I'll finish up the 2600 page in a couple of days.  I wish I had time to add some new content, but I spent most of the weekend just formatting the ColEx, so that'll have to wait for later.

October 11, 2003...  Unlicensed to Kill

I think I'll do some maintenence on the site over the weekend.  I'm looking at a couple of pages (specifically the 26 Hunter and Colecotosis) and their layouts could stand to be improved.  There's only so much pink and green you can look at before your eyes start begging for mercy.

I've heard that SNK's having difficulty convincing Sony to let them release Metal Slug 3 for the Playstation 2.  My question is this... why does Sony even have to be part of the equation?  Companies have made unlicensed games for popular systems before, you know.  If Sony's going to be so unreasonable about what gets released for their precious Playstation 2, maybe it's time for someone to find a way to make games for the system... with or without Sony's permission.

October 9, 2003...  The Editor Discovers Genesis Emulation

I just earned a whole new appreciation for the emulator Gens.  Not only does it play standard Genesis games, but it has support for the 32X and Sega CD as well.  I recently found a copy of Wonder Dog at a pawn shop for a buck.  I no longer have a Sega CD, but thanks to Gens I can still enjoy this game and others for ridiculously low prices.  When the demand for Sega CD games is so low, it's easy for anyone to collect them, even if they're on a limited budget.

Now, if only someone would whip up a Saturn emulator that's as reliable as Gens, I'd be a very happy man.

October 8, 2003...  California Dreamin'

Yikes!  I didn't realize the California Raisins page had formatting problems until I examined it on another PC with a higher resolution... and oh man, were there ever problems!  It should look much better now, though.

In other California news, the state has a new governor.  Predictably, Democrats are already lamenting Arnold Swartznegger's election as the defeat of democracy.  I guess I just don't follow that logic.  The people of California weren't happy with their governor.  They asked for a new one, and they got their wish.  The will of the people was served... and that's what democracy is all about.

October 7, 2003...  Toy Vey (or, Microsoft talks smack about Nintendo)

I suppose I shouldn't be at all surprised by Microsoft's arrogance these days, but a quote in a recent issue of EGM nevertheless floored me.  One of the marketing directors behind the XBox had the nerve to claim that Nintendo wasn't keeping pace with the digital revolution and that the company was ultimately just a toy maker.  Heh, those are big words from a company making software that just barely qualifies as entertainment.  Let's face facts, people... the only fun anyone gets from an XBox is by hacking it to play games that, mercifully, have nothing to do with Microsoft.  Bill Gates and his cronies still haven't come to accept this, but when you've got billions of dollars to waste on a system that would have led a smaller company straight to the poorhouse, you can afford to be in denial.

Anyway, we have a winner in the California Raisins contest.  You'll find the results of the competition here.

October 6, 2003...  Feel the Burn (also, racism in video games)

My apologies for the unexpected hiatus.  I took my computer into the repair store where I work to have it upgraded.  Unfortunately, things didn't go so well.  The new chip my boss had given me burned itself out shortly after it had been inserted into my computer.  Luckily for me, none of the other components were damaged, leaving me in what I like to call a "negative gain" situation.  I couldn't put any extra horsepower under the hood of my machine, but at the same time, I didn't ruin it and the trashed chip didn't cost me a dime.  So I'm a little disappointed, yet at the same time relieved.  It's much better to have a computer that works than to be left with nothing at all.

Enough about that... I should probably talk about the newest articles on The Gameroom Blitz, since that's what you're here to see.  I dragged my feet for a while on this one, but at long last, Tony Bueno's column on racism in video games is up and ready to read.  I was slightly hesitant to publish this.  Don't get me wrong; Tony did a fine job with the article, but starting an open dialogue on race relations in this country is about as wise as holding a sumo wrestling match in the center of a minefield.

In addition to that, I personally don't feel that the cheesy stereotypes in most video games are all that harmful.  It's certainly possible to take things too far, as the bowl-haired martial artist and Chinese restaurant owner in Clay Fighter 63 1/3rd proved.  However, I thought that the silly charicatures in Punch Out!! were more entertaining than hateful or insulting... and Nintendo wisely chose to poke fun at nearly every culture, including their own.  Perhaps I'm being insensitive, but it's ridiculous that people are expected to accept and respect the differences of other cultures, only to be viciously attacked when they dare to point out that these differences exist.

Off that touchy subject, the Fallen Angels strategy guide has been updated thanks in large part to Charlie Malekzandi, who supplied The Gameroom Blitz with a wealth of information about the game.  Thanks, Charlie!  Everyone at the Blitz appreciates your help... especially those of us who were going mad trying to figure out how to perform all of Cool and Yuiran's super moves.

One thing you're NOT going to see updated for a while is the comic.  Over the past year, I've felt the confidence in my artwork drain away... it's gotten to the point where I can barely stand to look at anything I've drawn.  I need to take a break, reconsider my drawing style, and try something new, because what I'm doing now just isn't working out for me.  I'm not saying that I'll never publish another comic on the site again, but there is a good chance that Zoo Logic will be an entirely different animal when it returns.

Just one more thing... I'll be judging the California Raisins contest entries in a couple of days.  If you haven't gotten your entry in by now, that's your own tough luck and sour grapes.