Posts from April, May, and June 2003.

June 28, 2003...  So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Looks like this will be the grand finale, folks.  I had originally scheduled the last update for Monday, but I'll be working that day.  That's right, I finally found work.  It's not the kind of job I'd hoped for, and it won't help me save my apartment at this late hour, but it will put food on the table and cash in my pocket.  Best of all, since it's only part time work, I'll have plenty of time to look for a more permanent career, possibly in the video game industry.  I've got the experience, I've got the talent, and I've got the references... all I need is for someone at one of the major gaming publications to notice me.  I guess it's time for me to prepare a killer resume and send it to the industry's big players!

Well, before I go, I'd like to thank everyone who's supported the site over the past six years.  That includes both my loyal readers and talented contributors.  Phil and John in particular deserve a big hand for all their help... they've done so much for the site, and I couldn't possibly thank them enough for being there when I needed them.

Next week, the hiatus begins and the regular updates end.  I can't promise you when The Gameroom Blitz will return, because frankly, even I don't know.  Your best bet is to check the forum occasionally for news about the site.

June 27, 2003...  Strong Enough for a Man, Made for an Idiot

I have seen the future of men's television.  And frankly, that future isn't very bright.

Last night, TNN debuted three new adult cartoons on a programming block similar to Cartoon Network's Adult Swim line-up.  Actually, one of the shows isn't entirely new... Ren and Stimpy have been on television for over a decade now, but you've never seen them like this.  Most of the delightful surreal humor from the original series has been replaced with an endless procession of the most tasteless jokes ever aired on television.  Any fan of the original series who suspected that Ren and Stimpy were more than friends will have absolutely no doubt after watching the new show.

Maybe it's the homophobia talking, but I don't like Ren and Stimpy as much now that they're out of the closet.  In the past, there was a certain warped innocence to their friendship, but in the new show, the producers have added an element of sexual tension that's unnecessary at best and tasteless at worst.  In fact, the only thing Ren and Stimpy's more intimate relationship contributes to the show are a lot of unpleasant sight gags and immature gay jokes.

The new Ren and Stimpy was kind of a letdown, but it was still more entertaining than Gary the Rat.  This cartoon started its life on the Internet, and its origins are obvious... it looks like it's still being animated with Flash or Shockwave.  Even with the mediocre artwork, Gary the Rat could have gotten by on its humor, but that's another problem... it doesn't have much of it to go around.  After watching shows like The Critic and Futurama, I expect animated sitcoms to hit me with a rapid fire assault of jokes, and Gary the Rat just doesn't do that.  Instead, the writers focus primarily on Gary himself, who simply isn't interesting enough to warrant so much attention.  If you want to watch a show about a sleazy manbeast, you'd be better off just catching a rerun of Duckman instead.

Finally, there's Stripperella, the biggest surprise of the bunch.  I expected this one to shamelessly pander to TNN's target demographic.  It certainly does, but the great thing is that the writers aren't afraid to poke some fun at the ridiculous premise, and even the star of the show.  When Stripperella struts her stuff at the local nudie bar under the stage name "Erotica", the men are so impressed with her performance that they drop gold bars at her feet and push away the strippers already giving them a lap dance!  The animation is standard stuff... certainly acceptable, but not fantastic.  What's more important is that the show is fresh and cleverly written.  It's my favorite of TNN's new animated series.

Nevertheless, the TNN cartoon lineup is pretty weak in comparison to Adult Swim, or even Comedy Central's unadvertised block of animated sitcoms.  It does have promise, but it'll only improve if TNN is willing to spend the money necessary to add new shows (hopefully better ones than Gary the Rat).

June 26, 2003...  Russ to Judgment

I just added another handful of Russ Beleski's reviews to the Game Boy Advance section.  They ought to keep you folks entertained for the rest of the day.

Just a clarification in case one is necessary... when the site goes on hiatus, I won't be shutting it down completely.  You just won't see any new updates until I'm ready to begin work on The Gameroom Blitz again.  I may post on the forum from time to time, but that's about as active as the site is likely to get until I've found a steady job and another apartment.

June 25, 2003...  Meet Your Maker

I need to get caught up on my E-mail correspondence today, so I'll just give you a sneak peek of the last Zoo Logic comic I'll publish before the site goes on summer vacation.  You'll also find a couple of other fun surprises on this page... if, that is, you know where to look.

Oh, yeah!  There's just one more thing I probably should mention.  Every time my aunt visits the family, she always brings me something nice from my favorite hangout in Arizona, Bookman's.  This time, she was kind enough to give me a copy of the Playstation's underground hit RPG Maker.   As the name suggests, it allows you to design your own adventure games, and judging from the two very thick instruction manuals included in the package, it's a very flexible utility. 

I won't be able to spend enough time with RPG Maker to do anything productive with it, but if you guys know of any sites I could visit to get more information about it, I'd be in your debt.

June 24, 2003...  General Maintenence

The site's going on hiatus in less than a week, but I'll do my best to keep you entertained until that happens.  I've finished the lists on the Neo-Geo page and I'll be adding the rest of Russ Beleski's Game Boy Advance reviews in a couple of days.

June 23, 2003...  RIP Eric Longdin

Whoa... this was just a bit late, wasn't it?  I wanted to update on Saturday but I was busy moving everything out of my apartment except the absolute necessities.  You know, like the television set and computer.

Anyway, I've done a lot of maintenence on the site over the weekend... there's not much in the way of new content but the majority of the review pages have been redesigned.  I've also replaced the Akane hammer graphic with something new... from now on, the worst of the games reviewed on this site will be labelled with The Gameroom Blitz Super Suck vortex.  Whenever you see this picture next to one of the reviews...

...you can count on that game sucking with all the voracious force of a black hole.  I don't have a label for excellent games yet, but since I'll be on hiatus in a week you'll have to wait a while before you'll see one.

There's just one more thing I wanted to mention.  A little bit of fandom died a few weeks ago...  Eric Longdin, the editor of the personal newsletter Splat!, passed away last month after a lengthy battle with heart disease.  Although I didn't know him very well, I do know that he was important to a lot of people, particularly other fanzine editors on the east coast.  All I can say is this... thanks, Eric.  Thanks for sharing your life with the rest of us while you were still here.

June 20, 2003...  Toe-plan?  To-a-plan?  How the Hell is That Pronounced?

Long time friend and reader Russ Beleski was kind enough to send some Game Boy Advance reviews.  You'll find the first handful of them in Advance Theory.  I've also finished the best and worst lists in the Nintendo review page.

I've heard that Cave, the creator of the spectacular Dodonpachi series, was actually founded by former employees of Toaplan shortly after that company went bankrupt.  That definitely explains the English in some of their games... for an example, just scroll to the bottom of this page.

June 18, 2003...  Gleaming the Cube

So far, the Nintendo, Sega, and Other review pages have been redesigned.  That leaves the Sony, SNK, and Microsoft pages left for me to do.  I also have a lot of best and worst of lists to finish in the Nintendo page, but at least Chris Kohler was nice enough to write a couple of them for me.  I'm grateful for his support, because I couldn't make any of my own GameCube recommendations.  I've spent a total of two hours playing the system, and most of that experience was from store demo kiosks.

It sucks to be broke, y'know that?

June 17, 2003...  More Site Updates

Well, that takes care of another review page.  Two down, four to go!

I'm afraid I don't have a Zoo Logic comic ready this week.  I'm hoping I'll have something prepared as a send off for when the site goes on hiatus, though.

June 14, 2003...  Meet the Staff Face to Face

Man, I've been hot this week!  I can't believe I've been able to update so often.

As you know, I won't have the opportunity to update on a regular basis next month.  However, I'm gonna keep working on the site as long as I have the time and resources to do it.  I'm going to redesign as many of the review pages as I can... with luck and some perserverence, I'll have them all finished by the end of the month. 

So far I've started work on two other pages and finished drawings of most of the contributors.  You can get a sneak peek of the illustrations here.  By the way, if you're included in this graphic and some of the details in your charicature are inaccurate, let me know and I'll fix them right away.  I was working from old pictures, including some in black and white, so there's a strong possibility that the eye, hair, and skin colors aren't quite on target.

June 13, 2003...  Talk About a Happy Meal!

Aw, crap!  There were still some files missing after yesterday's update!  Well, this oughta fix the problem.  You might want to cross your fingers just in case, though.

I just heard that McDonald's is going to pack a handheld game with each Happy Meal.  Each of these games are designed by Sega and will feature characters from both Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Monkey Ball.  Between this and products like Vita-Ball and Yummy Bubbles (the bubbles that are as fun to inhale as they are to exhale!), it's a great time to be a kid. 

I can't be too bitter, though... they won't get to grow up with game systems like the NES and 2600.  Twenty years from now, my nephew's idea of a retro gaming experience will be blasting zombies in House of the Dead II for the Dreamcast.

June 12, 2003...  Just Say No-kia

The site's been acting a little funny lately... hopefully refreshing some of the files will take care of the problem.

So, have you heard about the N-Gage?  Yeah, that's the new portable that Penny Arcade called a "shitty cell phone and an even shittier game system" all rolled into one.  Well, it seems that the Nokia, the manufacturers of the N-Gage, are already getting a little too confident about the system's success (if any).  They've claimed that their product will have an entirely different market than the Game Boy Advance and that (here's the kicker) no self-respecting adult would ever break out a GBA in front of their friends.  To this, I have two responses:

1) Screw you.
2) Hope you don't miss the millions of dollars you've invested in this piece of junk, because it ain't comin' back.

Seriously, though, what's with everyone suddenly thinking that they can beat Nintendo in the market they've monopolized for over a decade?  They've crushed far better competitors than the N-Gage with far inferior products than the Game Boy Advance.  Now that Nintendo's got a great piece of hardware on their hands, even Sony will have an extremely difficult time competing on their turf.

June 11, 2003...  Hiatus Alert

Now for some not-so-good news.  I'm going to have to put the site on hiatus next month, for an undetermined period of time.  Despite my qualifications, I haven't been able to find work anywhere.  No, seriously, I mean ANYWHERE... even the local supermarkets aren't hiring.  If things don't change by the end of the month, I won't be able to afford my apartment.  I have living arrangements elsewhere, but they're not particularly accommodating for either myself or my computer.

If you've got any job leads for an increasingly desperate computer repair technician, I'd sure appreciate the help.  I had no idea that the economy was in such miserable shape until I started looking for work...

June 10, 2003...  Dan Nation

This is the best news I've heard in a long time.  According to a report by Chris Kohler on Insert Credit, Dan Hibiki is not only among the characters included in SNK vs. Capcom, he's the most powerful one of the bunch!  Finally, I have a reason to update Saikyo Crusher!

Oh, I should probably mention that I finally have the first of the review pages finished.  Check 'er out and see if you agree with my choices for the best and worst games released for Sega's most popular systems.  Speaking of reviews, I forgot to mention the brief write-up of Beamrider I'd written a few weeks ago.  If you dig the older game systems, you might wanna click here to read it.

June 9, 2003...  Premature Adulation

I came up with this new banner while experimenting with the staff drawings I made for the new review page.  I guess the pinball bug isn't entirely out of my system yet...

Anyway, there's a new review courtesy of John Roche, and a drawing of Clyde on the bottom of the page.  It's not really a comic, but it's been so long since Clyde has BEEN in Zoo Logic that I felt it was time to bring him back in some shape or form.

I finally got my hands on a Game Boy Advance SP.  Granted, it was only for a half minute, but that brief experience was like holding a portable orgasm.  Yes, I need to get a life.  Anyway, I can't wait to spend more time with this thing... I had my doubts at first, but it really does seem to be a big improvement over the original Game Boy Advance.

June 7, 2003...  Veasey Money

Here's some important news for fans of the strategy guide site GameFAQs... Jeff Veasey just sold it to the web publishing magnate CNET.  He claims that he'll still be heavily involved with GameFAQs, but it remains to be seen if he can count on CNET to give him the same kind of creative control he had in the past.  Forgive me for being skeptical, but I've seen too many instances where corporations have bought intellectual properties, then sent their creators packing.  To give you some idea of what I'm talking about, the inventor of claymation, Wil Vinton, was actually fired FROM Wil Vinton Studios.  Luckily, CNET just owns the site, not the FAQs sent in by contributors, so if they do betray Jeff Veasey, his fans can cripple GameFAQs by revoking the rights to their strategy guides.

I'm watching Mega Man: NT Warrior right now.  It seems pretty faithful to the Game Boy Advance series despite the new title... the episode I'm watching is straight out of a scenerio from the first Mega Man: Battle Network.  The only problem is, it's just not very entertaining.  I've seen at least a dozen shows just like this already.  I've got higher hopes for Sonic X, but to be honest, all these Japanese imports are starting to wear out their welcome.  Thanks to Pokemon and its many, many clones, anime' has lost its novelty value.  Years ago, I'd watch every Japanese cartoon I could find, but today, only the best of the best can hold my attention for more than a few minutes.

June 6, 2003...  More Site Maintenence (nothing to see here, move along)

I spent the last couple of days tweaking one of the review pages.  It's still not finished yet, but I'm putting it up anyway so you can have a sneak peek at what all the reviews will look like in the future.  It's a much sleeker design than the previous one, and there's more information included about each of the systems covered.  When it's finished, there'll even be a list of the best and worst games available for each console.  I'm not really happy with the drawings of the staff that accompany each review, but keep in mind that this is a work in progress.  Nothing's been finalized... well, nothing except the cool new logo, anyway.  I think that'll be sticking around for a while.

June 4, 2003...  Rumors of Mario's Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

This just in... Chris Kohler of Kobun Heat has serious doubts about the reports of Nintendo retiring their current mascot.  Although he can't find a specific quote denying the rumors, he questions their accuracy, claiming that Satoru Iwata merely wants to broaden Nintendo's appeal with new characters, rather than using them as a replacement for Mario.  Chris also questioned the journalistic integrity of the sites who reported on (and possibly exaggerated) Satoru Iwata's announcement.  In my defense, The Magic Box is a pretty reliable news source, and I've never had any reason to doubt them.  I guess we'll find out soon enough if there's any truth to the rumors of Mario's departure from Nintendo... I imagine that Satoru himself will deny the reports if they're inaccurate.

What bothers me most about the rumors of Mario's retirement is that many people don't seem all that upset about it.  As early as five years ago, people would have unianimously agreed that replacing Mario with a new mascot would be a terrible mistake.  Today, some gamers are understandably upset by the rumor, but others just don't care... they're willing to sacrifice Mario, the man responsible for Nintendo's twenty years of success, for a mascot they feel is more relevant.  Of course, those same people would probably abandon the character they demanded three years later.  That's why I think it will benefit Nintendo in the long run to ignore the cries of a fickle public and remain devoted to the traditions that have served them so well in the past.

June 2, 2003...  Iwata You Thinking?  (Nintendo prez considers axing Mario)

There should be a Zoo Logic comic ready by tomorrow... I've finished the artwork but I still need to color it.  In the meantime, I'll set up the punchline with a disturbing bit of information I heard recently on a video game forum I frequent.  According to The Magic Box, current Nintendo president Satoru Iwata is thinking about retiring Mario and replacing him with a more contemporary mascot, a character that will appeal to today's gamers.

I've got a lot of respect for Mr. Iwata, don't get me wrong.  He's done a pretty good job of running Nintendo in the absence of Hiroshi Yamauchi (the C. Montgomery Burns of the video game industry), and the fact that he used to design VIC-20 games makes it awfully hard for me to dislike him.  However, swapping Mario for a new, untested mascot is, to put it politely, completely insane.  The reason Nintendo's been able to turn a profit year after year, even in the face of fierce competition from Sega and Sony, is because they've always played it safe.  They've made sound, rational business decisions while countless other companies have went bankrupt after betting everything on risky ideas.

Dumping Mario for a new, more trendy character would be the ultimate risk- and the ultimate mistake- for Nintendo.  He built a strong foundation for this company, a foundation that has remained intact through many years of tough competition and industry trends.  Yes, Mario may not be as popular as the sleazy thugs in Grand Theft Auto or extreme sports stars like Tony Hawk, but like the Earthworm Jims and Tomb Raiders of the past, these are just fads.  They may burn brightly now, but Mario will endure long after their lights have flickered out.

If Nintendo abadons Mario now, they'll not only dilute their identity but sacrifice the stability he's brought to the corporation for over twenty years.  Just as Disney needs its Mickey Mouse, Nintendo needs its chubby little plumber.

May 27, 2003...  The Moore You Know (also, initial PSP thoughts)

Yeah, Zoo Logic is still on hiatus.  I just didn't feel like drawing a comic this week... chalk it up to your typical artist moodiness.  In its place is a drawing inspired by one of the James Bond films.  Call me nutty, but Roger Moore was one of my favorite 007s.  Roger adds a touch of wit you don't often see in the other Bond films, particularly the new ones with Pierce Brosnan and (shudder) Timothy Dalton.  A View to a Kill was pure poison... I don't know if it was the post-Cold War plotline or the decision to hire a handsome but emptyheaded actor to play James Bond, but the series was never the same after that rotten excuse for a movie.

I wish I had more to talk about so soon after the Electronic Entertainment Expo... you'd think I would, but the only thing that comes to mind is the avalanche of portable game systems that have either been released or will be sometime soon.  I have trouble understanding why everyone has suddenly decided that they can wrest control of the handheld market from Nintendo... every company that's tried to compete with the Game Boy in the past was quickly handed a defeat.  Sony's hoping to change this trend with a new Playstation portable, but even with their intimidating marketing muscle, I don't think they'll be able to pull it off.  From what I've heard about the PSP so far, it sounds like it'll be twice the price of the Game Boy Advance, and less convenient to use.  Those are two big strikes against it already.  It may be far more powerful than Nintendo's system, but anyone who witnessed the unstoppable eight year run of the monochrome Game Boy will agree that the strength of a handheld console's hardware is, at best, a minor factor in its success.  The PSP will sell a few million units, but this time, the Sony name won't be enough to give it an edge over its competition.

May 24, 2003...  A Two Liter of Shasta and My All-Rush Mix Tape

Man, I've really been neglecting this site.  I just haven't felt like writing anything lately... fortunately, some inspiration struck me late last night (as it always does, it seems) and I finished two of the reviews in my upcoming Space Invaders history page.  It's turning out pretty nicely, folks.  I think you'll be happy with it when I'm done, but as you might suspect, it could be a while before it's finished.  I'll probably publish it one page at a time rather than dumping the whole thing on the site at once.  That way, you'll have something to read early on rather than waiting months for its completion.

May 21, 2003...  The Price is Right

Don't expect anything new and exciting in this update... I just needed to do some routine maintainence.  The Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow review has been improved, and I've fixed the missing URL of the shooter site I'd mentioned in my Vsys Gaiden review.  By the way, I highly recommend a visit to Emudek if you haven't been there already.  There are a ton of Japanese shooters to download there, and a few of them, particularly Rally Raid, are exceptional.

So, has anyone noticed that a lot of Game Boy Advance games have drastically dropped in price?  The Pinball of the Dead is a meager ten dollars, and I've heard the freshly released Iridion II has been sold in stores for fifteen bucks... sometimes even less!  Can it get any better than this?  Actually, yes it could, but it would require Nintendo to adequately support its quickly forgotten e-card reader.  No third party games, no full conversion of Donkey Kong... frankly, I expected more from Nintendo than this.

May 19, 2003...  In the Hunt

Here it is, folks.  As you can see, I've packed a lot of stuff in this update, but I wanted to add even more.  Unfortunately, it's really late, and I've got a full day of job hunting ahead of me, so the revised link page and new counter graphic will have to wait.

I wonder how this year's E3 turned out?  If anyone was there and has some juicy information that the gaming press hasn't heavily publicized, I'd love to hear about it.  Just post it on the forum so everyone will get a chance to see it.  Thanks!

May 16, 2003...  Nice Contribution, Jess

I can think of about a billion things I need to update on the site.  Let's hope I get to a couple of them over the weekend.

May 15, 2003...  Dragonball Z for Girls

It's been a while, but there's a new review on the site courtesy of contributor Phil Estes.  We'll follow it up with a little something from John Roche in a couple of days.

I was reading an animation magazine last night and discovered two pretty surprising things.  The first is that Bandai is releasing a tag-team fighting game based on the Adult Swim cartoon Inu Yasha.  That in and of itself isn't such a shocker, but the real surprise is that it's for the original Playstation, as opposed to a system that could really do the concept justice.  Still, I'll be looking out for this game.  It's always nice to have something to review on Fighter's Misery.

I also found out that the Japanese are selling collectable cards based on older video games.  This was met with some derision by the editors of the magazine... they responded by sarcastically asking, "What, is Elevator Action not getting enough press?"  Actually, smartasses, it's not.  If they sold these cards for a reasonable price in the states, I know I'd buy 'em.

May 13, 2003...  More Astrocade Impressions

Once you see it, you'll understand why it took me so long to finish this comic... it's the longest installment of Zoo Logic yet, and you wouldn't believe how long it took me to add the stylized coloring.  There's no rational explanation for Byron joining the cast, but hey, this is Zoo Logic!  I don't need one!

Anyway, I finally fired up the Astrocade, and it's pretty nifty for its age... not as good as the Atari 2600 or Intellivision, but head and shoulders above most of the other game systems released in the late 1970's.  The feature that makes the Astrocade really stand out are those crazy joystick/dial controllers.  The dial isn't just there for show... it's important, if not totally required, for several of the Astrocade's games.  For instance, you twist the dial to aim your quarterback's arm in Football, adding a unique challenge to an otherwise typical sports game.  You can even use the dial to select your favorite game after the system has been powered on, something that really comes in handy when your Astrocade's keypad is on the fritz.  Oh well, what did I expect for four bucks?

I don't update the links page often, but I'm giving some thought to a little spring cleaning.  Now that I have all of my fonts back, it shouldn't be tough to add a miscellaneous section for my friends' web sites.  I'd also like to take a couple of pages out.  I'm torn between giving Sector: NGP the boot or leaving it in... the rest of the site is fine, but it's got what has to be the world's most aggressively rude message board.  It's the only part of Sector: NGP that's regularly updated, and I don't feel it's worth supporting.

May 9, 2003...  Stick to Making Games, Atari

The commencement's today, guys.  Wish me luck!

Atari Age has published dozens of early gaming magazines on their site, including three issues of the deservedly short-lived Atarian.  I can't help but marvel (pun intended) at the stupidity of this newsletter's comic, which features a superhero who would make even Johnny Turbo groan in disbelief.  Yes, I'm talking about the same Johnny Turbo with the pot belly and the nerdy gay sidekick.  Amazingly, the hero isn't even the worst part of the comic... just look at its portrayal of Nintendo as a sinister, buck-toothed  despot who dominates the video game industry by sabotaging Atari's products.  Well, that WOULD explain why the 7800 was such a piece of crap.

One more thing before I go.  I'd like to thank everyone who made suggestions about how to get my Astrocade up and running.  Now that my classes are over, I should have more than enough time to spend with the system... I'll post my thoughts about it in the near future.

May 5, 2003...  Grad Racer

Just to warn you, I'm gonna be busy with tests and a graduation ceremony this week.  I've started work on a comic and the new Space Invaders section of the site, but neither will be ready for a while.  In the meantime, I've got a drawing of the site's mascot and a request for you, the reader.  How the heck do you hook an older game system to a television set with a coaxial cable port but no RF screws?

May 3, 2003...  Astrosmash (early Astrocade impressions)

I came across a fantastic find yesterday; probably the best one in a very long time.  Out of the blue, I decided to take an alternate route back home, and found a garage sale along the way.  It didn't seem special at first, but upon closer inspection I discovered a Bally Astrocade in its original box.  It was so complete it even included a warranty card!  The best part is that the entire package only cost me four bucks.  That's not bad, especially since I've been collecting for over ten years and this is the first Astrocade I've managed to find.

I'll have to cover the system when I've got the time for it.  I've played tons of Astrocade titles already, but only on an emulator... I'd like to try them with the system's unique controllers.  They're a little hard to describe... they've got a contoured grip like an analog PC joystick, but no base.  Instead, the point of view hat on the top controls the action, and can even be twisted like a paddle.  It's a pretty funky hybrid of several controller styles, and I'm eager to find out if the combination works.

May 2, 2003...  Solder of Fortune

The comic's in color now... as promised!  I hope you like it... and I hope American Greetings doesn't!  By the way, Mother's Day is coming up soon.  You know what NOT to buy this year, right?

I'm feeling pretty upbeat for a change.  I'm almost finished with my classes... I've got just one more test and assignment to do in Digital Fabrication, and I'm actually starting to enjoy soldering.  I sure as heck didn't feel that way when I started out, but once I got over my initial hesitation, I realized that you get a serious power trip from turning metal into liquid.

I also finally got one of my headlines published on Fark.  It took some perserverence (actually, a whole lot of it!), but it was ultimately worth the trouble.

April x, 2003...  Let Them Eat Shortcake

I'm going to let my pen do the talking about the recent skirmish between Penny Arcade and American Greetings... you'll find the resulting comic below.  I still need to add color and line weights, but that can wait until the weekend.  I just wanted to run the comic itself now while the subject was still on everyone's mind.

I sure wish I had one of those inflatable decoy cannons from the game Rachet and Clank.  That way, I could lay down a dozen blow up dolls to confuse my debtors, then slyly sneak away with my rightfully earned money while they're busy reaming them.

April 29, 2003...  Pondering a Site Redesign

It sure has been a while, hasn't it?  I'd planned a new Zoo Logic comic, but it isn't going to be ready for a while.  Those comics take a lot longer to finish than you'd expect.

I'd kind of like to retire the current site design and try something new.  I just don't want to make it too specific... I've dabbled with the idea of themed layouts, like a front page with a Shinobi motif, but that would get old pretty quickly, and I don't have the time to frequently swap site designs.  I can think of at least one site that can make this work, but this isn't the one.  It's hard enough for me to come up with one page layout every couple of years, let alone ten.

I'll figure something out, but I have more important things to deal with right now.  My final college exams are coming up... and I do mean final, because this will be my last semester of school.  I'll also need to find a new job, because my career as a workstudy will end the moment the computer repair certificate falls into my hands.

April 26, 2003...  Mission Accomplished

It's obscenely late.  Why the heck do I wait until the last minute to work on updates, anyway?

Anyway, there's another new 2600 review.  I think I'll be going to bed now.


I'm really starting to warm up to Mission Hill.  It's funny, because I didn't like Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein's episodes of The Simpsons very much.  However, it's clear that they work much more effectively on their own, writing jokes for their own characters rather than trying to shoehorn them into a previously existing series.  Speaking of former Simpsons writers, there's something peculiarly entertaining about the new sitcom by Mike Scully, The Pitts.  It reminds me a little of Get A Life, except less cynical and even more tripped out.

April 25, 2003...  Reduced Net Worth

According to my computer repair teacher, interest in the Internet is starting to drop.  Seasoned users are starting to tire of the World Wide Web, and those who haven't surfed the 'net have become more and more reluctant to grab a board and catch the wave.  My instructor came to the chilling conclusion that maybe, just maybe, the Internet would go the way of CB radio... immensely popular at first, but largely ignored after the trend had ran its course.

I hope the Internet doesn't go down that path, but I can understand why its popularity is starting to erode.  The Web was originally intended as an outlet for free expression, but its true purpose has been ignored by corporations and greedy, inconsiderate individuals, who bombard Internet users with increasingly loud and obnoxious advertisements.  It's become so difficult to dig worthwhile content out of the rubble of pop-up windows and junk mail that less devoted Web surfers are no longer willing to make the effort.

Hopefully, corporations will lose so much money pursuing Internet customers that they'll finally give up the chase, allowing the World Wide Web to return to the way it was in 1996.  Sure, the 'net was less flashy back then, but there were fewer idiots, fewer spammers, and almost no corporate involvement.  Those were the days.  I hope we'll get the chance to relive them.

April 23, 2003...  Viaconned

There's a new review in The 26 Hunter, folks.  It's been a while since I've updated that section of the site, hasn't it?  Well, finally, there's a reason to start talking about the 2600 again.  Collectors have dug up a small handful of games for the system, and I plan to review the lot of them before the weekend is over.

I just heard that AOL/Time/Warner/Turner/Whatever Else They Own sold its share of Comedy Central to Viacom.  That leaves a nasty taste in my mouth, because I've never liked Viacom much, and I hate to think of how they'll change the network now that Warner no longer has a say in its operation.  Viacom still hasn't decided what they want to do with TNN... they're planning on changing its name to Spike TV next, changing the programming to appeal to young adult men.  I think the more appropriate title would be Last Nail in the Coffin TV, because it's hard to imagine anyone falling for such a desperate, pandering redesign.

April 21, 2003...  Don't Wanna End up a Cartoon in a Cartoon Graveyard

I've been watching a lot of cartoons lately, and I've noticed two things.  The first is that I really miss the days when people actually put some effort into animation.  As much as I enjoy shows like South Park, I'd like to see a few producers ignore the current trend and create a few series with really fantastic, fluidly animated artwork.  It's gotten to the point where even Klasky-Csupo's cartoons are starting to look good, and when Duckman looks good, well, that ain't good.

The second thing is that Tress MacNielle is spread way too thin.  Name a cartoon she hasn't done a voice for and it was probably made before she was born.

April 19, 2003...  Everybody Wants A Piece (Sega merger news)

I was just informed by contributor Phil Estes that Splinter Cell is actually a stealth action game.  You think I would have caught that after watching the ten million advertisements for the game, but I somehow missed that bit of information.  I guess it shows you just how little attention I've been paying to Splinter Cell.  However, I was right in assuming that the Playstation 2 version was heavily watered down.  There's a certain sense of satisfaction I get from watching the system slip to the bottom of the technological totem pole after hearing ad nauseum about its superiority to the Dreamcast.

Speaking of which, it seems that Sega's still on the auction block, and all of its former rivals want a piece of the action.  Namco, Electronic Arts, and Sammy have all expressed interest in merging with Sega, an interesting turn of events when you consider all the time they've spent stabbing the company in the back.  Namco released games exclusively for the Playstation, including obvious derivitives of Virtua Fighter and Virtua Cop that made Sega's own groundbreaking games seem less exclusive.  Electronic Arts refused to support Sega after they (wisely) decided against putting 3Dfx technology in the Dreamcast.  Sammy declined to release an American version of their most popular game, Guilty Gear X, choosing instead to localize a Dreamcast version of the miserable shooter Death Crimson OX.  If it weren't for the actions of these corporations, Sega might not be in such sorry financial shape today.

Anyway, I've heard rumors that if Namco and Sega merge, Sega will become the controlling company and the Namco brand name will fade into obscurity forever.  That's a little hard to accept, because as much as I like Sega, Namco's been an even more important influence in this industry.  If this actually happens, it'll be the end of an important chapter in the history of gaming.  If not, well, it's anyone's guess who'll try to take Sega's reigns next.  Let's just hope it's not Hasbro or Aruze...

April 17, 2003...  A Tough Cell

What's with all the Splinter Cell ads?  I'm seeing them EVERYWHERE, which is doubly annoying because I have absolutely no interest in the game.  It's just another first-person shooter as far as I'm concerned, and Tom Clancy's involvement with Splinter Cell doesn't matter a bit to me, either.  I never paid attention to his books, so why would I bother with his games? 

Well, you'll never see those annoying advertisements here.  I like to think that I have more dignity than to contribute to the oversaturation of this mediocre title for a quick buck.


All right, all right, I caved.  What can I say... they gave me a LOT of quick bucks.

April 15, 2003...  Guilty Gear Origins

Sorry for the lack of updates.  I've been gone on a bit of an extended vacation... I wanted to come back with a new Zoo Logic comic, but it's just not ready yet.  It will be soon, though.

I just found out from Insert Credit (a great new site focusing on Asian video games... in other words, the best ones) that Guilty Gear, the slickly designed fighting game with a cast of heavy metal rockers, was originally designed with bland computer rendered graphics.  It would have been just another Killer Instinct clone if Arc Systems hadn't went another direction and added the crisp hand drawn graphics that have become the defining characteristic of the Guilty Gear series.  It makes you wonder why so many other companies cop out and throw crummy rendered graphics into their games... their software could be so much better if they took the time to make them works of art, rather than mere games.

I've got cable at my new apartment, and I'm loving it.  Adult Swim has got to be the best thing to hit the airwaves (or should I say, the ground waves?) since those crazy, fun-filled days of 1980's Saturday morning television.  Where else can you find Cowboy Bebop, Futurama, and Trigun all in one place?  I've also grown to like Mission Hill and Inu Yasha... but you can keep The Oblongs and Aqua Teen Hunger Force.  I just don't see the appeal in a grotesquely deformed family or an order of fries that looks and talks like Ice-T.

April 12, 2003...  Tatt That Ass

There's a new entry in Fighter's Misery.  Shockingly, it's NOT Tattoo Assassins, the cancelled Data East coin-op that's even more unoriginal and ridiculous than the company's previous game Fighter's History.  Actually, Tattoo Assassins was designed specifically by Data East's pinball division.  To be honest, it would have been better off as a pinball game... it couldn't have been any worse that way.

April 10, 2003...  Statuesque

I watched the footage of Saddam Hussein's statue being pulled down first by Iraqis, then by our own soldiers.  Mmm... satisfying.  One citizen of Iraq offered a pretty good suggestion for what to do with the real Hussein if he's caught... he wanted to lock the former ruler of the country into a cage and put him on display in a zoo, using the proceeds to rebuild the country.  It sounds like a fitting punishment, considering the fact that Saddam had treated his own people like animals for the last twenty years.

Amazingly, there are some people who are STILL complaining about the war, treating the destruction of Saddam's statue as though it were part of an Orwellian nightmare.  Somehow, I doubt that the Iraqi people are going to miss Hussein much, even if some of our more extreme war protestors will.  Heck, even the Iraqis who fled to my home state of Michigan are dancing in the streets right now.  Oh wait, they don't really exist... it's all part of some evil government plot to drum up support for the invasion of other Middle Eastern countries.

This is where I roll my eyes so hard they're left spinning in my sockets for the next three days.

April 8, 2003...  Galaxy High

All right, Jess... take deeeeep breaths... oh yeah, I'm feeling much better now.  It helps that I found a copy of Infocom's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  I don't have the time to play the game, and because it's on a 5 1/4" floppy disc my computer can't even use it.  However, the excellent condition of the package, along with all the goodies packed inside it, made Hitchhiker's worth picking up.  I got everything from a Don't Panic pin to a never handy pair of opaque sunglasses, which all go nicely with my copy of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. 

You'll be happy to hear that we've got new content on the Blitz, thanks to the efforts of contributor John Roche.  I'm not feeling especially productive myself, but I'll try to follow John's review up with an article of my own at the end of the week.

April 7, 2003...  Bite My Shiny Metal Ass

Now hear this... if you're disgusted, angered, or offended by anything you've read here, allow me to cordially invite you to read some other site.  I'm not waffling on my opinions because someone gets upset with them, and I'm not going to apologize for the way I feel about a given subject.  If you don't like what I've got to say, that's your own damn problem.

April 4, 2003...  Game Gear Frogger Leaps Onto the Internet

All right, everybody, are you ready to rock?

Are you ready to let your hair down and get funky?

Are you ready to play a really good version of Frogger that you've never tried before?

(audience erupts in wild applause)

Well, we've got it for you right now, people!  You can grab the game from either Vertigo: 2099 or SMS Power... while you're there, get yourself a copy of MEKA so you can play it on your computer.  This Game Gear version of Frogger is so good, you're gonna demand an encore!

Thank you, you've been great!

(leaves the stage as the audience flicks on their lighters and points them skyward)

April 2, 2003...  April Fool's Fallout

All right, everything should be back to normal now.  And I do mean everything, because Byron's back!  The little guy's finally returned from his vacation, and will be wrecking his usual havoc on the site in a few days.  Until then, here's an illustrated evolution of the character, from his humble beginnings inside my high school math workbook to the bear he is today.

I know some (probably most) of my readers don't dig the mascot, so I'll serve up a little unrelated discussion for the rest of you.  I'd like to talk specifically about the jokes on other websites... a state of the April Fool's address, if you will.  I noticed that a lot of sites just weren't interested in pulling pranks this year.  The editor of Toastyfrog felt that that such tomfoolery was beneath him, but this is the same guy who can dismiss the most obscure references in progressive rock songs as "almost clever".  No offense, Jeremy, but me not know what Rush song Animate really meant.  Me go drag woman by hair into cave now.

The folks who did participate in the April Fool's holiday didn't do a very good job of it.  Both VGMusic and Zophar's Domain arrived at the ball in the same dress, which was quickly seized by the US Customs office.  The government shutdown prank wasn't especially believable in the first place... I mean, who's gonna get that bent out of shape over loose fan interpretations of video game music recorded in the notoriously primitive MIDI format?  However, when two sites try the same dumb gag, it becomes clear to everyone that it's just a hoax.

I may sound arrogant for saying so, but I honestly think my April Fool's gag was one of the better ones on the Internet, even if it wasn't remotely convincing.  I was also pretty impressed with IGN's report on the new Game Boy Advance, designed in part by eccentric boxing superstar George Foreman.  It was capable of fueling appetites with tasty grilled meats while ruining them with George Foreman's rotten KO Boxing game.  Digital Press staged an interesting battle between its editor and a half dozen famous martial artists, but the joke had already been beaten to a pulp two weeks prior to that, when most of the characters started posting on the forum.  I have to give Joe some credit, though... at least he planned his prank well in advance.  Nobody saw the takeover of the DP forums coming until it actually happened because Iron Monkey and the rest of his goons were introduced so gradually.

Overall, though, the biggest joke of all was on anyone who expected to find worthwhile humor this April Fool's Day.  I hope everyone will try harder next year.  I'm also hoping that the web site editors most capable of making their readers laugh will offer something, anything other than an excuse that April Fool's jokes are childish and silly.

April 1, 2003...  Ship of Fools

Click here for the madness of The Gameroom Blitz April Fool's Day Special.