Posts from September 2003.

September 30, 2003...  Downward Spiral

I'm thinking about redesigning the comic a little.  I thought arranging the panels in a spiral would be a clever touch, but it just makes the comic tougher to read than necessary, even with the arrows indicating the sequence of the panels.  The unique format also forced me to shrink the comic down, obscuring both its detail and the text in the speech bubbles.

I don't really regret experimenting with Zoo Logic, because when I find something that works, the comic improves.  However, even the bad ideas offer valuable experience... I'll know what not to do when laying out next week's episode.

September 29, 2003...  Send Me an Angel

It turns out that there's a lot more to Psikyo's The Fallen Angels than I thought.  A strategy guide was recently published on GameFAQs which states that the game was supposed to have two extra characters, which were clipped out of the final release due to time and budget constraints.  Also, the author claims that the game's character designer migrated to SNK shortly after The Fallen Angels was released.  When you consider how strongly Cool and Harry Ness resemble their King of Fighters counterparts, K Prime and Maxima, that's not really a surprise.

The best part is that the author of the FAQ found all the moves in the game that I couldn't.  I'm going to ask him for permission to print the commands for those moves here on the Blitz... if he says no, I'll respect his decision, but if he says yes, my The Fallen Angels strategy guide will be finished at last!  And that, my friends, will be awesome indeed.

September 27, 2003...  RIP George Plimpton

After days of suffering with stuffed up sinuses, excessive phlegm, and the dreaded sore throat, I think I'm finally on the road to Wellville... without the enemas, I hope.

As you know, I didn't post an update yesterday.  I passed up a pretty big opportunity, because a lot of important stuff happened that day.  To recap:

1) Square's long awaited sequel to Final Fantasy VII will be a film, not a game.  Of course, since the disc will still be playable on your PS2 and because Final Fantasy VII consisted primarily of cut scenes, full-motion video, and fifteen minute long magic spells, it's doubtful that anyone will notice.

2) Capcom announced that its latest installment in the Street Fighter series, Street Fighter II Hyperfighting X, will be little more than Super Street Fighter II with a selection of slightly different fighting styles for each character.  These characters won't be redrawn, and no new fighters will be included in the game.  Suddenly, Capcom vs. Sammy is starting to look a lot more appealing.

3) Sports writer George Plimpton, who spent much of his free time in the early 80's antagonizing Atari 2600 owners with a series of commercials demonstrating the superiority of the Intellivision, died at the age of 73.  It'd be easier to believe that he died of natural causes if Atari fans weren't still bitter about those ads.

Now that you've been informed of the latest industry news, you can loosen that tie, kick off your shoes, and read my latest cartoon reviews... right here.

September 25, 2003... Get Down with the Sickness  

Still sick, dudes.  Hopefully I'll shake this cold over the weekend.

September 24, 2003... Frankie Says Emulax 

I'm sick.  Again.  Good golly Miss Molly, I'm getting tired of this crap.

Well, enough about my misery.  If you're interested in boosting the nostalgia of your favorite arcade games, you might want to give Emulaxian a try.  It's a MAME frontend that uses a polygonal playfield to simulate an actual arcade.  It's a pretty cool idea, but it's not without its faults... it's exceedingly difficult to configure and requires a pretty fast computer (I can just barely get by with my 1.0G Duron, if that gives you any idea).  Still, if you long for the days when there was an arcade on every corner, rather than just one in every big city, you're going to want this program.  Download it from this site... and for maximum realism, you'll want to get some arcade cabinet models and marquees to go along with it.

September 23, 2003...  Jumping Jack Flash

I'm playing, or should I say, trying to play, Jumping Flash! 2 on a variety of Playstation emulators, and none of them seem capable of handling it.  It looks like I'll have to break out the Playstation 2 to get the most out of this one.  I really hate to do that, but I can already tell that it'll be worth it for this game.  The opening movie alone is wonderfully lighthearted and funny, qualities that are noticably absent from many of today's video games.

September 22, 2003...  Out to Lunch (also, miscellaneous site updates)

Whew... I'm a little behind, as always.  I planned on publishing two great articles from my contributors this week, but I only managed to finish the layout for one of them.  There's still work to be done on Carl Schafer's still untitled feature on video games inspired by popular comic books, but I'm confident that it's worth publishing even in its current unpolished state.

It'll be a while before I'm finished with the design for Tony Bueno's eye-opening (and ever so slightly controversial) column about racism in video games.  Once that's done, I'll run an exclusive report on the most incredible garage sale I've found in years.  Here's a sneak peek at just one of the many cool items I found there...

[Dragon's Lair lunchbox]

I never liked the game, but I give the lunch box a big thumbs up!

September 19, 2003...  Hatcher Hears a Hen

It's clear from the constant advertising on Cartoon Network that Sega has high hopes for Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg.   I'm not convinced that the publicity will pay off for them, but for Sega's sake I hope the game is a big hit.  They could really use one right now.

September 18, 2003...  MUGEN Misgivings

To MUGEN or not to MUGEN... I still don't know the answer to this question.  Last night, I downloaded a King of Fighters game created with MUGEN.  Although it was packed with characters and backgrounds, and it was more complete than the majority of MUGEN games, it still wasn't as satisfying as playing an honest to goodness King of Fighters title designed by SNK.  The control was mushy, and many of the characters' fighting styles had been completely changed.  For reasons I have yet to comprehend, Heidern's standard special attacks were replaced with Kazuki's fire spirits from Samurai Shodown IV.  I would have been much happier if they'd just kept him faithful to the original.

If you'd like to grab a copy of King of Fighters: ZEV, you can get it from this link.  But the downloads are obscenely large, so I wouldn't really recommend it unless you're a big fan of the series who's dying to see Terry Bogard from Fatal Fury square off against his older counterpart from Garou: Mark of the Wolves.

September 17, 2003...  The Next Game Boy (also, SNK vs. Capcom stuff)

Word on the street is that Nintendo is already designing a new Game Boy system, intended to compete against the portable Playstation slated for release next year.  I've got to be honest, though... I'm not sure I'm ready to upgrade to a new handheld system.  I'm perfectly happy with my Game Boy Advance, and I don't see that changing any time soon.

The worst part is that since Nintendo is going toe to toe against Sony, it's inevitable that their new portable will be specifically designed to play 3D games... games I don't particularly enjoy.  The Game Boy Advance has been, for the most part, a safe haven for old school gamers hoping to escape from the deluge of clumsy polygonal action games and first person shooters on home consoles.  Unfortunately, there will be no place to hide once the new Game Boy is released.

On a happier note, I discovered from Insert Credit that SNK vs. Capcom: SvC Chaos has a character who can transform her opponents into animals.  You'll find each character's furry alter ego here.  Some of the transformations are quite appropriate: for instance, Mai morphs into a cow, drawing even more attention to her udders, and Earthquake changes from a big fat pig to, well, a big fat pig.  On the other hand, some of the alternate forms just leave me scratching my head.  Dan Hibiki trades in his trademark pink gi for a wrinkly hippopotamus skin, and Terry Bogard, often referred to as the legendary wolf of the Fatal Fury series, becomes a fuzzy raccoon instead.  Strangest of all was watching the macho war hero Guile literally turn chicken... I guess the designers saw a link between his oversized crest of hair and a rooster's comb.

I can't wait to play SNK vs. Capcom, but you won't have to wait for John Roche's review of Tohkon Road 2: New Generation.  You'll find it right here.

September 16, 2003...  California Here I Come

Yeesh.  I left you waiting a while for this update, didn't I?  I was going to hasten things up a bit by running an old episode of Zoo Logic, but at the insistance of one of my readers, I went ahead and made a fresh comic.  I hope it was worth the wait.

Oh yeah, I just thought I should remind everyone that there's only two weeks left before the California Raisins contest ends.  If you want that watch, you'd better get your tail in gear and send in your entry!

September 13, 2003...  Eight Simple Rules for Instant Cancellation

I've heard that ABC plans to continue the television show Eight Simple Rules (for dating my blah blah blah... you get the idea) in the absence of its star, the late John Ritter.  It's not quite as tacky as Vince McMahon continuing a pay-per-view wrestling event after it claimed the life of Owen Hart, but it's still in remarkably poor taste.  Who knew that Donald Duck was part vulture?

The worst part is that the man who inspired the show, a newspaper columist who was the template for John Ritter's character, is still very much alive.  If they decide to address Ritter's passing in a Very Special Episode, the creator of the series will be able to witness his own fictionalized funeral.  It just doesn't get much creepier than that.

Anyway, Tony Bueno was kind enough to send some articles for the site.  You'll find the first of them, a review of the XBox game Dead to Rights, here.

September 12, 2003...  Sammy vs. Capcom (also, fighting game crossovers)

I'm starting to think that Capcom's stretching the concept of crossover games a little thin.  Marvel vs. Capcom was a brilliant idea, and Capcom vs. SNK was the clash of video game titans that everyone had waited years to see.  However, I can't imagine how they'll make their next crossover game, Sammy vs. Capcom, work.  The key to the success of previous Vs. games was that Capcom's rivals had an extensive selection of well established, memorable characters that lend themselves well to the fighting game genre.  The only thing of value Sammy can contribute to this proposed game is the cast of Guilty Gear... all their other properties, ranging from the embarassing Survival Arts and Death Crimson to a handful of nudie pachinko games, would be entirely out of place.

Capcom should just bury the hachet with Sega and create a fantastic fighting game featuring both companies' best characters.  Shinobi vs. Strider?  Sonic vs. Mega Man?  Fighting Vipers' Bahn vs. Batsu and Sakura from Rival Schools?  Oh yeah, I'd play that... and I'll bet a lot of other people would, too.

September 11, 2003...  Space Invaders Collection Perfection

You'll notice a conspicuous absence of any 9/11 tributes on this site.  It's not out of disrespect for the victims of the attack... everyone who lost friends and loved ones in the incident has my sympathy.  I've just grown weary of the shameless opportunism and bandwagon patriotism I've seen since the twin towers collapsed.  Politicians have taken advantage of the tragedy for too long, affixing words like "patriot" and "freedom" to laws that in reality compromise American freedoms and are anything but patriotic.  When you let yourself be manipulated by 9/11 rhetoric, you've once again become a victim of the tragedy.  It's time to let it go, people.

Anyway, I've got great news for ColecoVision fans. Eduardo Mello's exceptional Space Invaders Collection is complete and being sold on the web site Opcode Games.  It's a fantastic translation of both Space Invaders and its sequel, and includes everything from a professional quality box to a slickly designed instruction booklet, laid out by Dale Crum and written by yours truly.  You really ought to pick up a copy of this game... at just $25, the price is right, and I can assure you that you'll love every minute of it.

September 10, 2003...  All Aboard the Soul Calibur Train

In "neener neener neener" news, I've heard the GameCube version of Soul Calibur II has outsold the others by a huge margin, about 5:1 by some estimations.  Its inclusion of Link has been a huge draw for Nintendo fans, curious to see how the little guy will fare outside his natural environment.

After years of enjoying exclusive titles ranging from Tomb Raider II to Grand Theft Auto III,  it would appear that Playstation 2 owners are finally getting the short end of the stick.  They're forced to slum with Tekken's Heihachi, described by cranky Internet personality Maddox as "a seventy-five year old grandfather" whose most powerful special move involves "sitting in a rocking chair on a porch, giving out Werther's Originals."

Somewhere in the middle is the X-Box with its own exclusive character, Todd McFarlane's decaying do-gooder Spawn.  I've never been especially fond of Spawn's other games, but I don't see the harm in adding him to a release that's already proven itself in arcades.  And to the people who say Spawn doesn't fit in with the rest of the cast... you DO remember Voldo and Astoroth, right?

September 9, 2003...  Comic-Kaze

In case you're wondering why I didn't update yesterday, I was sick.  Bo Rai Cho sick, if that gives you any idea.  Fortunately, I was able to finish the Potato Festival photo spread over the weekend.  It's a little self-indulgent and not at all relevant to the topic of video games, but hey, I'm the editor... I can get away with this stuff every now and then!

Next on the menu is Carl Schafer's feature about video games starring popular comic book characters.  I just need to format the article, add in some pictures, and create a title graphic.  I skimmed through the feature over the weekend and found myself laughing through the whole thing.  I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

September 6, 2003...  Jason Voorhees, the Ever-Living

The festival's starting to pick up... a little, anyway.  I had the chance to watch a band called Badd Seed perform last night but I just didn't have the energy to make it.  Hopefully they'll be back for a repeat performance later tonight.

Anyway, Chris Farrington of 11 Will Die recently reviewed the NES versions of Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street, in honor of the recent theatrical release of Freddy vs. Jason.  He also revealed the ending to Friday the 13th, and aggravatingly enough, Jason manages to survive your repeated attacks.  It's bad enough that the game expects you to defend yourself with a handful of rocks.  It's even worse that you have to bludgeon the relentless zombie into submission with them not once, not twice, but THREE times to win the game.  It's downright inexcusable for the game to snatch that hard earned victory from you by letting you know that no, you DIDN'T kill the last boss, and yes, the hours you spent struggling to win were wasted.  It's no wonder that when people talk about horrible Nintendo games, "Friday", "the", and "13th" are the first three words out of their mouths.

September 5, 2003...  I Do Not Have a Tuber!

The first day of the Potato Festival wasn't all that exciting, even for a potato festival.  Nothing had been set up yet, so all I found were a half dozen garage sales scattered throughout town.  I picked up some pretty good deals, though, including this amusing find...

[Rocky and Bullwinkle for the NES, with a big hole punched through it]

Normally, I'd chalk this damage up to carelessness on the part of the original owner, but I've played this game.  I'm quite sure the hole punched into this Rocky and Bullwinkle cartridge was intentional, most likely during a fit of frustration after being tagged repeatedly by a nigh impossible to avoid Boris Badenov.

It gets better!  You're not going to believe who was in charge of producing this game.  It's Howard Phillips... the same Howard Phillips that used to be company's spokesman throughout the late 80's.  How he wound up at T*HQ is anyone's guess, but I suspect the years of bad karma he built up from humiliating Nester finally came back to haunt him.

September 4, 2003...   Puttin' On the Hits

I'd like to thank everyone for their support of the Blitz.  The hit count has been astronomical over the past week and I've received some fantastic reviews from my contributing staff.  I've even had multiple offers for server space, in case I decide to move the site from Overclocked.

Well, I'm off to enjoy my little town's annual Potato Festival.  You might even see an article about it in a few days, since it's the kind of wacky, wild crap I like to cover on the site.  In the meantime, check out John Roche's reviews of Family Guy and Transformers: Armada on the cartoon page!

September 3, 2003...  Pop-Up Video

The good news is, I've finally got something to rant about.  The bad news?  It's got nothing to do with video games.

I'm talking about the pop-ups on this site.  They've gotten so thick that they're even starting to annoy ME.  I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned this before, but I don't receive a penny from the ads on this site.  I don't even have any control over their content, so it goes without saying that I don't support or endorse the products offered in these ads.

Now, it IS true that I agreed to run advertising on this site in exchange for server space.  That was two years ago, when the Internet economy was much healthier and all I needed was a single small banner at the top of the page.  Since that time, the ads on this site have gotten progressively more intrusive and bothersome, evolving from that single banner to a total of two obnoxious pop-ups, hawking products that are wholly inappropriate for this site.  I don't have an enormous number of readers, but it's pretty safe to assume that there are teens visiting The Gameroom Blitz, and they don't need to see commercials for discount tobacco products.  Frankly, I don't support tobacco use for anybody, and I'm a little offended that those ads are here in the first place.

Another negative side effect to the advertising is that it's driving away readers, and discouraging other sites from linking to this one.  I've talked to Brandon Sheffield of Insert Credit about his linking to the Blitz, and he flatly refused for the simple reason that there are pop-up ads here.

So not only am I not benefitting from the advertising in any way, it's crippling this site and its chances of finding an audience.  On top of THAT, I can't control either the content or the frequency of the ads, making it seem as though I'm responsible for drowning the reader in objectionable advertising.  Something's got to change.

I should make clear that I'm not blaming David Lloyd for this.  He's been great to me ever since he agreed to host the site, offering me complete autonomy and an easy method for uploading files.  Frankly, I don't think he has any more control over the situation than I do, which is why I don't want to bail out on him.  If there's a way I can keep the site on Overclocked and reduce the number of ads on the Blitz (preferably to nil), I'll do it.

September 2, 2003...  The Missing Link

If you guys notice any broken links or missing images, be sure to let me know, all right?  I wish I had something else to say, but I haven't really been keeping up with the video game industry lately.  I guess I'll just rest on my laurels for the moment and wait until I find something worth ranting about.

September 29, 2003...  Back in the Saddle Again

After an extended hiatus, The Gameroom Blitz is back!  You'll probably notice I've made a few changes to the site.  First off, the site logo is brand new... I've designed it myself, without borrowing graphics from classic video games like Gunstar Heroes.  I like it so much that it will become a permanent fixture at the top of the front page.  However, I will spice up the banner a bit with memorable game quotes and the occasional fun surprise.

Next, I've taken my readers' advice and streamlined the front page.  You've probably noticed the updates are a lot easier to find now that all the clutter at the top of the page has been moved to the bottom.  Also, the navigation bar to your left is more clear than it was in previous incarnations of the Blitz... there are no cryptic icons; just a series of clearly labelled links, arranged by category.

You'll find nearly everything you liked about The Gameroom Blitz in this new version of the site, but I have done away with a couple of features.  The Wishful Thinking section of Advance Theory has officially been retired... it took entirely too much work to make those mock screenshots.  Besides, most of what's been released on older systems (particularly the Super NES) is going to wind up on the Game Boy Advance anyway.  Also, there will no longer be cute backgrounds for the counter.  To be perfectly frank, I was thinking about getting rid of the counter entirely.  I changed my mind about that at the last minute, but one thing I do know for sure is that this particular counter's days on the Blitz are numbered.  TheCounter's basic services have become much too basic now that they demand to be paid for nearly everything they do.

You'll barely notice they're gone when you see what I've put in their place.  The Blitz is now sponsoring monthly contests... this month, we're giving away a California Raisins watch, in honor of the Lost Levels' release of the NES game.  If you think playing a game starring those fruit-flavored African-American stereotypes is fun, just wait until you put one of 'em on your wrist!  I'm serious.  The watch is more fun than the game, which should tell you just how good the game is (read: not at all).

I'll also find other ways to get readers more involved with the site.  Until then, enjoy the new look and the new articles, and count on finding more great stuff here in the near future.