Posts from January, February, and March of 2003.

March 31, 2003...  Time Off for Good Behavior

Even though it's my week off, I've got a lot of stuff I need to take care of, like hunting for a new job so I'll be prepared when my current one expires, and moving to a new apartment.  So you may not see any substancial updates here for a little while... just teeny little ones like this.

March 29, 2003... Detachable Penis  

A few weeks ago, I saw an magazine advertisement for Rayman 3, boasting that the character had no arms and legs, but big features.  That would be perfectly fine if it weren't for the fact that he was using a urinal at the time, with a crowd of men staring slack-jawed at his crotch.

Tecmo upped the ante by using sexual innuendo to promote their next game... a horse racing simulation.  Note that I said a horse RACING simulation, not a horse breeding simulation.  I can understand promoting a game with sex when sex is actually present in the game, but is it really necessary to drag men by their groins to the latest cute side-scrolling platformer or gambling sim?  Is the video game industry hurting so badly that they have to appeal to their dumbest and horniest customers for money?  Good grief.

I remember a time when video game ads were wholesome, family-friendly, and most importantly, so freaking weird that there was no way you'd ever forget them, even if the games they promoted weren't particularly interesting.  Just look at this!  Sure, Heiankyo Alien was about as fun as hammering nails into your molars, but there is no way, absolutely no way, you're ever going to get a picture like this out of your head.  It makes me want to run out and buy the game RIGHT NOW... but then I remember that it sucks the big one and stay put.

Oh yeah, that prototype version of Frogger should be on its way to the nearest game dumper pretty soon.  I've written a review of the game for you to read while you wait for the ROM to be released on Vertigo: 2099 and SMS Power.  Sadly, I can't distribute it here on the Blitz... if I did, there's no telling what Pretzel and Green would do to me!

Yeah, yeah, they're just abstractly drawn cartoon characters.  Still, they could poke my eyes out with the ends of their pointy little bodies or something.

March 28, 2003...  Media Consolidation Ahoy

What?  There was a Saturn version of Konami's outstanding RPG Suikoden, and NOBODY TOLD ME?!  And to think, all this time I've been playing the game on the Playstation like a sucker...

Something odd is happening to the video game industry right now.  It's pulling in huge profits, yet many companies and developers are either on the edge of bankruptcy or have fallen off completely.  Crawfish was forced out of business after releasing what SHOULD have been their most popular game yet, the impressive Game Boy Advance version of Street Fighter Alpha 3.  Sega was forced to merge with another corporation to stay alive, despite the fact that their games are among the best you can buy on either the Playstation 2 or the X-Box.  Even Acclaim is finally starting to crumble into dust.  They're long overdue for that fate, but nobody else deserves it.  Besides, what's going to happen to the video game industry if all the third party software developers go belly up?  Sony may be making lots of money now, but even they're not going to be able to keep the Playstation 2 alive on their own.

March 26, 2003...  Instant Vertigo, Just Add Paatank

I've heard people say, "What's wrong with 3D, anyway?  Does it really hurt a video game's playability that much?  Does the more realistic perspective make games that much harder to play?" 

That's when I show them Paatank on the 3DO... and that's when they shut up.

Paatank is a pinball game... but not just any pinball game.  This one's in 3D, and it perfectly illustrates why a first person perspective works so poorly in many video games.  You're always left vulnerable because you're not given a full field of vision... you can't see where you are relative to the rest of the entire playfield, and you're at the mercy of enemies hiding in your blind spots.  You'll never know one of the bad guys are creeping up behind you until they've planted a dagger in your back.  However, 2D games have no blind spots, and offer a better sense of direction.  They also give the player a fair shot at defending themselves, because they can see what's about to happen and know to react accordingly.  To put it simply, they work better as games than their three dimensional counterparts.

I'm not saying that every first person game leaves the player completely helpless.  However, this one does.  Paatank gives you little indication of how close you are to the drain hole in the playfield, so you'll often find yourself falling into it.  It's also harder to keep tabs on the playfield targets.  The fact that you can control the ball directly doesn't help as much as you'd think... it takes the skill out of the game and feels really clumsy.

Any game companies out there that are planning to sail through uncharted waters to find the surprise hit of the summer are advised to steer clear of the rocky reefs of 3D pinball.  In fact, I'd tell them to keep their distance from 3D anything if at all possible.

March 25, 2003...  Why Am I Still Playing the 3DO, Anyway?

I'd like to extend my retroactive thanks to Chris Kohler for sending me that 3DO controller a few years ago.  I've been waiting to put it to good use, and now that I have my system back, I can do just that.  Better yet, this joypad was designed by a third party rather than Panasonic, so it has a more logical button placement and actually responds to the player's input occasionally.  If you've ever owned a 3DO, you'd understand that this is a major achievement.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've lost one too many rounds of Way of the Warrior, and I'll need a couple of minutes to vent my frustration.  Let's see... there's my spiked baseball bat and brass knuckles.  I wonder if Rob Zombie is home?

March 24, 2003...  No Moore, I'm Begging You!

People were worried about terrorists invading the Oscars this year.  What they got was even worse... Michael Moore.  After receiving an award for, well, something (my guess is a lifetime achievement award for the most conceited asshole in filmmaking... I bet Kevin Smith and Spike Lee were pissed!), he waddled onto the stage and proceeded to angrily- and sanctimoniously!- denounce the war with Iraq.  Because you know, Saddam Hussein has feelings, too.  Luckily for everyone, Moore's political tantrum was cut short after the show's theme music drowned him out and Jack Valenti threatened to give him the Oscar sideways.  Some members of the audience applauded during Michael Moore's award speech, but just as many people cheered after Steve Martin predicted that the Teamster's Union would be waiting outside to shove Moore into the trunk of their car (as if he'd even fit).

The truly hilarious thing about this is that Moore, and others like him, think that they can rally support for their cause by being disruptive, obnoxious bastards.  Sorry, guys, but it doesn't work like that.  In fact, you're doing more to discourage peoples' support than anything else.  I was on the fence about this war... in fact, I didn't appreciate that Bush had started it without any direct provokation from Iraq.  However, when the anti-war protestors act like rude, arrogant jerks, and nearly all of them do, I become more and more inclined to side with Bush in the Iraqi conflict.  After hearing Moore's speech last night, I'm tempted to fly a jet to the Middle East and fight the damn war myself.

Now for something more relevant.  My aunt flew in from Arizona for a visit, and she brought the rest of my gaming stuff with her.  After four long years, I can finally partake in some 3D-licious 3DO goodness!  All right, it's probably closer to 3DO mediocrity, but in any case, I can play my 3DO again.  I also finally have my copy of the unreleased Game Gear version of Frogger, and plan to get it dumped and distributed across the Internet so EVERYONE can enjoy it.  It just ain't fair for me to keep this dandy of a game to myself, after all.

Finally, my aunt somehow managed to dig up this ancient treasure map.  As you can see, it's a little convoluted, with tons of twisting, turning passageways.  I wonder where it leads...?

March 22, 2003...  Free-to-be-Dumb Fries

Oops... one of my readers pointed out that yes, there is indeed an E-mail address on Jackie Kashian's web site.  The resolution on my work computer is so low that I could only see the yellow E-mail graphic in the navigation bar, not the link directly beneath it.  I expected the graphic itself to have a link to Ms. Kashian's E-mail, and since it didn't, I came to the conclusion that it was removed to spare Jackie further headaches from her geekier fans' dumb inquiries.

Now that I've solved that little mystery, I think I'll work on figuring out why my readership has dropped over the past week.  Does it have something to do with all the recent pinball coverage?  Gee, I didn't realize people found the game so boring.  If it makes you feel any better, I haven't completely neglected video games in this update, adding two new John Roche reviews and more content to the Fallen Angels FAQ.  You don't have to thank me... just don't make a break for the door when Byron comes back, all right?

Who knew my banner graphic would mirror real life so quickly?  I've heard reports that Saddam Hussien was nicked by one of our strikes, just days after the war with Iraq began.  Wow.  I had mixed thoughts about this attack, but if it's going to yield the desired results this quickly, it's hard to complain about it.  Naturally, the anti-war demonstrators are already raising a stink about the bombs dropping in Bahgdad, but they're conveniently forgetting about the citizens of Iraq who welcome the troops as they tear down pictures of Saddam Hussein.  There are two sides to this conflict... some Iraqis will definitely suffer, but others stand to benefit from Saddam's removal.  I wish people would be more willing to see the whole picture, rather than clinging to their own biased distortions of it.  That includes both the cretins who refer to fried potatoes as "freedom fries" and the not-so-peaceful protestors that call anyone with an opposing viewpoint a "murderer".

March 20, 2003...  Kashian Carry

A few weeks ago, I watched the all-too brief performance of a comedian on Comedy Central.  Normally, this wouldn't be anything out of the ordinary... after all, this is Comedy Central, and that's kind of what you'd expect them to show.  However, this particular stand-up comic really stood out, because she managed to work references to video games- even obscure ones, like the Game Boy ports of Final Fantasy!- into her act.  I've been planning to contact Jackie Kashian for a while now, but by the time I located her web site she'd removed the link to her E-mail address.  Her performance must have resonated with so many other nerds that she quickly became tired of answering their questions.  You know, questions like, "What's your favorite Square game of all time?", "Why won't you go out with me?", and the ever popular "You're not still mad about my giving your cat a mohawk, are you?"

March 18, 2003...  Warning: A Giant Pinball Table is Approaching

Just played around with a half dozen Visual Pinball tables, including a couple players had designed from scratch.  Many of them weren't that great, but this... oh man.  Who knew that Darius would make a better pinball game than a shooter...?

March 17, 2003...  Play Magazine: Because Sycophants Need Work Too

I skimmed through a copy of Dave Halverson's Play and discovered two things.  The first is that Halverson hasn't changed a bit from when he left Die Hard Game Fan... every page of Play is dripping with just as much forced enthusiasm for lousy games as Dave's last magazine.  Can you think of anyone else in the publishing industry who's shameless enough to lavish praise on State of Emergency after dozens of other magazines and web sites ripped it to shreds?  If you can, please shoot them.

The magazine isn't completely worthless, however.  After all, it DID reveal that Treasure, the prodigal sons of Konami who left the company after being forced to make one too many Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games, have given their former employers a peace offering in the form of a Gradius sequel.  You can definitely tell it's Treasure's game, too... one of the screenshots looks like it was lifted straight out of Radiant Silvergun.  I don't know how well vertically scrolling rounds will work in conjunction with a ship that's permanently facing the right side of the screen, but who ever expected a Treasure game to make sense?  Even Gunstar Heroes was a little off the deep end, and the company's games only got weirder from there.

One last thing... Josh, if you're out there, we need to talk about updating the Incredibly Effing Complete Pac-Man page, because it just ain't as complete as it was two years ago.  In addition to all the new Pac-Man games available, there are also the pinball titles, which can finally be experienced at home thanks to Visual Pinball and VPinMAME.  I'm also thinking about creating a similar list of Space Invaders games... if you'd like to help me write this article, please let me know right away!

March 15, 2003...  Baby Talk

So, was Baby Pac-Man supposed to be a girl?  I think that's what she was in the cartoon, but there's no indication of it in the arcade game.  In fact, the youngest member of the Pac-Man clan is so plainly drawn in the video game that she could just as easily pass as her pop.  The pictures on the pinball playfield of Baby Pac riding a skateboard make her seem even more (extreme?  Uh, no) androgynous.  Sure, girls can surf the sidewalk just as well as guys, but there's no denying that the sport is enjoyed by more men than women... for every Elissa Steamer there are at least ten Tony Hawk wannabees.

Speaking of babies, it looks like we'll be getting our mascot back pretty soon.  I skimmed through the archives and realized that Byron left to star in 11 Will Die a year ago... now that's one heck of a long vacation!  Now that he's been written out of Chris Farrington's comic, Byron's free to return to The Gameroom Blitz, and he'll be doing just that shortly.

March 13, 2003...  Inconceivable!

Here are just a few things you thought you'd never see, but will over the course of the year:

1)  Dance Dance Revolution (or a close approximation of it) on the 2600
2)  2D shooters available for the Playstation 2 in the United States
3)  A truly good version of Donkey Kong on the ColecoVision
4)  People begging for Louie Andersen to return to Family Feud (if you ever saw Richard Karn host the show, you'd understand why)

March 12, 2003...  Trapped Inside the Pleasure Dome

Just had to do a little routine maintenence on the site.  Someone's guest art wasn't showing up on the Dan Hibiki page... with any luck, it should be there now.

I've been listening to a collection of older hits by the band Rush, and have really took a liking to one of the tracks called Xanadu.  I did some research on the song and as it turns out, most of the lyrics were borrowed from a poem written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who himself was inspired by a mixture of historical events and, er, heavy drug use.  I should probably mention that Rush's Xanadu, the tale of a wanderer who finds himself tortured by eternal life, has nothing to do with Olivia Newton-John's Xanadu, a campy 80's flick that's both heaven and hell to those who've watched it.  Several reviewers on the Internet Movie Data Base were left so confused by the sweet nostalgia and sour acting in Xanadu that they deemed it "the best worst film ever made".

March 10, 2003...  Ugh, Not This Webcomic Crap Again!

I just noticed that there's been a three month gap between Nature of the Beast comics.  Yeesh, now I remember why I never got into cartooning as a business...

Anyway, I'm actually pretty happy with the way this one turned out.  Sure, it looks like a child drew it, but that was kind of the point.  You'd be surprised at just how long it took for me to color the first three panels.  About halfway through, I was tempted to hand some crayons to my nephew and have him finish the job for me!

I've got to be honest with you... I'm thinking twice about my participation in furry fandom.  I still enjoy the artwork, but I just don't feel like I have much to contribute to the community.  To top it all off, I only communicate regularly with a few furry artists.  Chris Farrington, Thomas K. Dye, and Scott Ramismoor have all been great to me, but others haven't been as kind, brushing me off and even insulting my work.  I may have been willing to fight for their acceptance at one time, but now, I don't feel it's worth the effort.

I'll have to carefully consider this before I make a decision.  If I do call it quits, I'll still publish Zoo Logic (after all, it's every bit as much a gaming comic as it is a furry comic), and I'll still support everyone who's been there for me in the past.  However, I'll probably cut the card game loose and curtail most of my artistic endeavors, concentrating instead on writing articles and reviews for The Gameroom Blitz.  I'm actually very happy- perhaps even proud- of the recent work I've done for the site.  When I look at the Fallen Angels strategy guide, and consider all the great contributions I've received from fans of The Gameroom Blitz, I can't help but think that I should have resisted the allure of passing fancies like furry fandom and stayed true to my first love, video games.

March 8, 2003...  Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel

It might be a while before I'm finished with the next update to the Fallen Angels FAQ.  I planned on adding win quotes for each of the characters, but Psikyo gave each fighter a different comment for every possible opponent.  With ten characters in the game, that's nearly one hundred different phrases, and a hundred matches I'll need to play to get them all.  Luckily, the bosses can't battle each other, and Roche (bless his bloodthirsty heart) doesn't want to say anything to anybody, so that cuts down on the workload a little bit.

I do have new content for you, however.  You'll find a review of Darius R on the Game Boy Advance section of the site.  It took a long time for me to find this game, but after playing it I wonder if I should have just left it lurking 20,000 leagues beneath the sea where it belongs.  I would have been a lot happier if they'd decided to convert Sagaia to the Game Boy Advance instead.  It was a more logically designed and fun to play shooter that took what little was good about Darius and added a lot of necessary improvements, resulting in a fantastic Genesis game and an even better arcade release.  The odd thing is, Sagaia's quality didn't rub off on any of its sequels.  I didn't think much of Darius Twin on the Super NES, and Darius Gaiden on the Saturn came very close to frightening me with its cheesy new wave soundtrack, complete with opera singers that warned you of approaching boss encounters.  Zuntata's music tends to be hit or miss, but the soundtrack in Darius Gaiden was so far off target that I suspect the musicians turned their backs to the bullseye before firing.

All right, just one more thing.  I'm going to put an icon at the end of each update that leads directly to the forum, where you can discuss the topics I've brought up on the front page.  It'll be a little clumsier than what Jeremy's done with the Toastyfrog web site, but it'll nevertheless help promote feedback and keep the conversations on the message board relevant to what's happening on the site.

March 6, 2003...  In The Loop

Just played 1944: The Loop Master today.  It's an excellent game, but it feels less like a true sequel to the original 194x series than it does a fan's interpretation.  It makes sense when you really think about it,  because Raizing/Eighting, the co-creators of the Bloody Roar series, were responsible for the game rather than one of Capcom's own design teams.  While I can't fault the quality of Raizing and Eighting's work, I suspect that Capcom would have known better than to add a cheesy 80's metal soundtrack to a game that takes place just after the second World War.  After a couple rounds, you start feeling like you're locked in the plane with the members of Great White.  Er, the remaining members of Great White, anyway.

March 5, 2003...  Fallen Angels FAQ Fixes

What, an update to the Fallen Angels FAQ a day after its premiere?  Yup.  I talked to the guys at Sector: NGP about the strategy guide, and they made some pretty good suggestions, some so good I just had to include them in the FAQ right away.  Instead of confusing abbreviations for all the joystick motions, I've added arrows, which should make the guide a lot easier to read and use.  It'll also make it load more slowly, but hey, since I'm writing this in HTML, I might as well take advantage of the medium, right?

The best part about the arrows is that they'll make it a cinch to write more fighting game FAQs, should I choose to do so.  Depending on the reaction I get from this one, that's not entirely out of the question.

March 4, 2003...  They've Fallen and They Can't Get Up!

The Fallen Angels strategy guide is finished.  All readers of this site who enjoy fighting games are strongly encouraged to download the Daraku Tenshi/Fallen Angels ROM and put the new FAQ through its paces.  By the way, this was planned as a Gameroom Blitz exclusive, but someone else had other plans, sending his own Fallen Angels strategy guide to GameFAQs over the weekend.  I must admit that his guide is good... but I'm confident that mine is better.  Feel free to compare the two and draw your own conclusions.

I just wanted to mention that the Fire Sale will be closing in a week.  If you haven't gotten in your order, do it now.  If you already have, send me your scratch and I'll mail you your merchandise.  Once the shutters are closed on the sale, it'll take a serious financial emergency to pry them back open... if you want anything, you'd better get your tail in gear and tell me.

Well, I finally downloaded a copy of Visual Pinball and Visual PinMAME, and the two go together beautifully.  Problem is, the only game I've currently got that takes full advantage of this dynamic duo is the miserable Baby Pac-Man.  I knew full well that it sucked even while I was downloading it, but what can I say?  Curiousity got the better of me.  Baby Pac-Man is, after all, the only Pac-Man game I hadn't played extensively.  Due to its difficult to emulate hybrid design and limited production run, I hadn't touched the game in nearly twenty years.  I appreciated the chance to try it again after so long, but that still won't save it from the negative review it so richly deserves.  I might even throw in an equally brutal comic for good measure.

February 28, 2003...  Iraq and Roll

Now there's a banner graphic that'll stir up some controversy.  I don't really support the war in Iraq, mostly because there just doesn't seem to be a logical reason for it (getting Bush re-elected doesn't count).  However, it's always fun to blow up Saddam Hussein, or as SNK likes to call him, "General Mordern".  Come on, guys, we knew from the moment we saw him who that was supposed to be.  You weren't fooling anyone with that silly new name.

February 27, 2003...  Konami's New Logo (spoiler alert: it's horrible)

Boy did I pick a wrong time to take a break from updating the site.  News from the gaming industry hasn't been this exciting in a long time.  Sega's merged with Sammy, who's hired former SNK employees to design games for their upcoming arcade system AtomisWave.  Playmore is releasing its own version of Capcom vs. SNK for both the Neo-Geo and Game Boy Advance.  Acclaim will be distributing the most recent King of Fighters EX game in the United States.  I'd expect great things from all those other companies, but it's hard to believe that Acclaim was smart enough to grab the rights to an SNK license.  I guess Tom Petty was right when he said that "even the losers get lucky sometimes."

Sadly, there's some bad news to go with the good.  The mysterious Capcom All-Stars fighting game has been wadded up and thrown in the circular file, a frustrating turn of events for fans of the company who desperately wanted to pit Ryu against Strider without all those silly Marvel superheroes getting in the way of the action.  Meanwhile, Capcom's eternal rival Konami has made an even dumber move, retiring its four flags logo in favor of, well, ugh.

Konami claims it redesigned its logo in an attempt to diversify the company.  I can't begin to doubt this statement, because judging from the girlish graphic above, Konami will not only have fierce competition from Capcom and Midway, but from Massengille and Summer's Eve as well.  Can you imagine seeing this super-feminine logo adorning the top of the next Metal Gear Solid?   It gives me a not-so-fresh feeling just thinking about it.

February 24, 2003...  Did Somebody Order an Update?

Ooh yeah, now THAT'S an update!  New comic, new reviews... you couldn't ask for anything more.  Well, you could ask for the Fallen Angels FAQ I promised earlier, but then you'd just be greedy.  That'll have to wait a while... how long, I don't know.

February 22, 2003...  When I'm 64

Hasn't anyone made a decent N64 emulator yet?  The best I've got so far is Project 64, and even that just rates as average in comparison to the big Ms, MAME, MEKA, and MESS.  Everything else pretty much stinks.  That's especially frustrating since I've just found the closest thing the N64 ever had to a traditional Street Fighter clone, a wacky Konami release called Rakugakids.  It's got the six button layout, it's got special and super moves... the only thing that seperates it from Capcom and SNK's fighting games is that all the characters were drawn childishly in crayon and set against polygonal (although still 2D) playfields.  It's a delicious difference, though, because the game looks great that way.  I just wish I could play it more thoroughly and really get a feel for it, but the crummy N64 emulators I've got make that pretty tough.

"Well, Jess, you could, you know, obtain a copy of the game LEGALLY and play it on a real N64..."

Grr.  I'll let you know when I have enough disposable income to do that.  My clock says that time's a quarter to never.

February 21, 2003...  A Neo Sensation

I finally got a chance to try the latest two King of Fighters games... y'know, the ones designed by Korean development team Eolith.  I was surprised at how well they fared against the original games created by SNK.  If it weren't for the oddball character portraits (thankfully toned down in KOF 2002) it would be difficult to tell that they weren't made by the original King of Fighters team.  John Roche has already covered both games on the site, but I want a chance to discuss them as well, so expect my own opinions to appear on The Gameroom Blitz in the near future.  I'll just have to approach the subject a little differently than he did to keep the topic fresh.

One thing I can't freshen up is another, rather stale Neo-Geo release called Zupapa.  So many cute games desperately want to be the next Bubble Bobble, but they always experiment with new play mechanics that just aren't as effective or fun as those introduced in the Taito classic.  Sadly, Zupapa is no different.  I was a little disappointed with SNK's other Bubble Bobble clone Nightmare in the Dark, but I've earned a whole new respect for the game after playing Zupapa, which could just as easily have been released on the Neo-Geo Pocket with very little sacrificed.  I feel sorry for the saps who actually paid in excess of two hundred dollars for this cartridge... they spent a whole lot of money and got very little fun in return.

February 18, 2003...  Marine Slug?

Is it me, or do the art styles in SNK's Metal Slug series and Irem's submarine shooter In The Hunt look extremely similar?  There's a strong, perhaps even uncanny resemblence between the games... just look at the drab colors, the plump vehicle designs, and the exaggerated gun animations.  I tend to think that SNK may have "borrowed" a few artists from Irem, like when they hired a bunch of Capcom employees to design their Fatal Fury sequels.

Anyway, I've added a review to the site, but I'm way behind on everything else.  I haven't gotten a lick of work done on the staff profiles, and several of the graphics on the site (particularly the title banner) are so ancient that I'll have to carefully replace them with artwork of the exact same weight to keep from getting flattened by a giant boulder.  It worked for Indiana Jones, didn't it? 

It didn't?  Oh, crap.

February 17, 2003...  Hazy Shade of Winter

You'd think I'd have a Zoo Logic comic to go along with the news of Sega's merger, but nope... not just yet.  Frankly, I just didn't have the time for it.  My weekend was split evenly between a fun evening at Game Hits and the next day being stranded on another snowy road in the middle of nowhere.  The next time I go anywhere, I'm taking a map and a flamethrower with me.

Anyway, there's a new feature on the Blitz called El Libro, and I've brought back an article that was especially popular when it was first published here.  You'll find them both at this link. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll crawl into bed and collapse.  Wait, can you collapse after you've already laid down?  OK, never mind that last part.

February 14, 2003...  Sega and Sammy, An Affair to Forget

It's Valentine's Day, and love is in the air... or some crap.  All I'm feeling is the bitter chill of winter and some lingering shock from yesterday's news that Sega and Sammy plan to merge.  Everyone else is taking this information in stride, but it came as a huge blow to me... Sega, the mighty creators of the Genesis, Saturn, and Dreamcast, are pairing up with Sammy, the fiends responsible for the games Death Crimson, Amagon, and Survival Arts?  It just ain't fair, I tells 'ya!

Oh well... at least I've got this demo of Rally Raid to comfort me.  If you're into shooters, you need to check this out.  It's an extremely polished shareware release for x86 computers with gameplay reminiscent of the masterful Dodonpachi and graphics that'll remind you just as much of Radiant Silvergun.  You should be able to get it from the author's web site, but if that doesn't work, I'll post a link to a huge collection of Japanese shooters in a few days.  What the heck... even if it DOES work, I might just post that link anyway!

February 12, 2003...  Half-Life for the System with Half a Life

I guess there's a first time for everything, and this was the first time I'd wound up in the ditch after driving in an especially brutal Michigan snowstorm.  I've got to thank to the good samaritans who stopped to offer me assistance (there were a lot of 'em, too!), and to the tow truck guy who somehow managed to reach the nearest town despite the blinding hail of flakes.  My hat's off to all of you... but I hope you don't mind if I quickly put it back on so my ears don't get frostbite.

So, it seems that after floating in limbo for nearly a year, Half-Life has finally found its way to the Dreamcast.  I've heard it's even better than the PS2 version thanks to more reasonable load times.  I'd be really excited about that... if it weren't for the fact that I'm just not that crazy about first person shooters.  Oh well, I'm sure a lot of other Dreamcast owners will appreciate the opportunity to play the game.  I just hope those sneaky hackers will eventually find even more unreleased games for the system, because there's got to be something out there that I'd love to play.

Before I go, I was wondering... I looked through the paper the other day and noticed that The Boondocks was conspicuously absent from the comics page.  It seemed as though the editors pulled the 'ol switch-a-roo and replaced it with a second rate knockoff called Housebroken, about a rapping pit bull terrier or some nonsense.  Are other papers around the country following suit?  If that's the case, I think this is astoundingly lame.  Sure, I was opposed to nearly every one of Aaron MacGruder's political opinions, and for me, reading his comic was like drinking a cup of hot urine mixed with crushed glass and thumbtacks.  However, I know there were a lot of other people who did enjoy it, and they're not going to be happy when they open up their paper and find some hasty, toothless replacement.  Today's newspaper comics say so very little, and this problem only worsens when artists are forced to quit and their space is instantly claimed by transparent toy ads like Mr. Potato Head and Pokemon.  If the editors insist on turning the comics page into a shiny happy place full of love, warm thoughts, and blatantly obvious product placement, people are going to give up on the newspapers entirely and find better comics elsewhere.  There's only fifty billion of them on the Internet right now. 

Mark my words... the comics in today's papers are headed down the same path as NBC's Saturday morning line-up ten years ago.  NBC was entirely dependant on hot licenses like The Smurfs, and when those licenses went cold, all the network had to offer instead was tripe like Camp Candy.  This spelled doom for their block of cartoons, and the same thing will happen to your comics page if its editors continue to stifle the creativity of artists like Aaron MacGruder.

February 10, 2003...  Art Alive

A friend of mine was nice enough to sell me his copy of Versus Books' Street Fighter Alpha 2 strategy guide.  In addition to exhaustive coverage of what was arguably the best of the Alpha games, the book also contains great production artwork and scribbles from Capcom's design team.  This wasn't the most impressive of these drawings, but it's nevertheless one of my favorites, for obvious reasons.  It's a relief to know that the creators of the Street Fighter series hated Street Fighter: The Movie as much as the rest of us.

By the way, I haven't forgotten about the book reviews or the Fallen Angels strategy guide... I'm working on the latter and pondering layout designs for the former.  However, I HAVE added extra content to the Dan Hibiki page, for the first time in months.  If you're a fan of Capcom's beautiful loser, go to it!

February 8, 2003... Chojin Man (or, recalled for your pleasure)

I've finally got a Pen Drive, so it should be a lot easier for me to transfer files from my home computer to the Internet terminals I use to update The Gameroom Blitz.  All that extra storage should also come in handy for ROM files... I can finally start a halfway decent collection of X68000 games now that I can fit several on one storage device, rather than having to span one title across multiple discs.

So, what's this about Microsoft cancelling Kakuto Chojin?  From what I've heard, it's more than just a mere cancellation... they're recalling the discs and asking stores to destroy them afterward.  Now, if it were solely because the game was awful, that I could understand, but the recall was actually inspired by the controversial use of the Koran in one of the endings.  Forgive me if I sound insensitive, but I just don't think this warrants the biggest gaming cover-up since Atari buried thousands of ET game cartridges in a New Mexico landfill.  Christianity is subject to constant abuse, ranging from arrogant atheists on Fark referring to the Bible as "a fairy tale" to an artist submerging a cross in urine.  For some odd reason, all of this was not considered insensitive or blasphemous, but rather "progressive" and "daring".  Yet, when Islamic beliefs are called into question, that's suddenly horrible and wrong.  It's a load of crap.  If we had to put up with Xenogears, Muslims can take the lumps they're given from a game like Kakuto Chojin.  They weren't the only ones who suffered after playing it.

Anyway... Phil Estes was kind enough to keep the site up to date with a review of Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball.  If you're a sports nut, you'd better get your copy now.  After all, who knows how long it'll stay on store shelves with those naughty girls playing outside without their veils?

February 5, 2003...  I Heard It on the X

A student in my computer repair class had heard that Microsoft was going to merge with "the maker of the Game Boy" (presumably he meant Nintendo) and release a portable system called the XBoy.  Heh, that's certainly, uh, imaginative, but anyone who really knows Nintendo also realizes that they would never willingly surrender their complete domination of the portable market to one of their competitors.

Who comes up with these idiotic rumors, anyway?  This kind of crap makes me want to bash my head against a rock.

February 3, 2003...  Subject to Immediate De-Rez-olution

At long last, a Zoo Logic comic.  It wasn't the one I'd originally planned to put up, but I felt obliged to make a statement about Sega's Rez after playing it on the Dreamcast.  That statement is, "Huh?"

Seriously, Rez is pretty well done, and I'm glad designers like the ones at UGA are demonstrating that video games are every bit as much an outlet for artistic expression as a piano or a paintbrush.  However, this particular work of art doesn't click with me.  I liked Tron, and I like artwork inspired by Tron, but all the imaginatively designed flat shaded polygons and vectors in the world don't hide the fact that this is a pretty simplistic shooter.  The ability to add your own beat by firing at enemies in tune to the music seemed rather worthless to me as well... it's an amusing diversion, but it doesn't seem to affect the gameplay much.  Whether you blast the bad guys methodically or just hammer the fire button, the end result will be dead bad guys.  I don't see the point in expending that extra effort if you're not going to be rewarded for it.

Anyway, I've added reviews of N20 and Daraku Tenshi: The Fallen Angels, two games that went unnoticed by most of the public.  Hopefully people will read these reviews and realize they've been missing out on some great software.  I'm also working on a FAQ for The Fallen Angels in an effort to promote this excellent Psikyo fighter.  With any luck it'll be available both here and on Jeff Veasey's GameFAQs in a couple of weeks.

February 1, 2003... The Collector's Guide to the Universe (or, Don't Panic!)

I just received a copy of the Digital Press Collector's Guide in the mail.  This thing is fantastic... in fact, it's so good that I'm making a page specifically devoted to it and other video game books.  That should be up in a week or two.  As for Zoo Logic, I've started a comic but it's tough to say when I'll get it finished.  If you enjoy reading it, cross your fingers and hope it's out by Monday.  If you don't, you won't feel too cheated if it's released later.

Mandi Paugh was kind enough to send me a review of Metroid Fusion, so that's been added to the site.  I'd chip in as well but I feel pretty lousy right now and don't have anything of merit to contribute.  I spent a couple of hours drawing a new banner intended as a tribute to the late charicature artist Al Hirschfeld, but because it turned out so poorly it probably won't be published on the site.  It would be a shame to have the man roll in his grave so soon after he's been placed in it.

January 30, 2003... All the News That's Fat to Print 

It bothered me enough that Ain't It Cool News, the silly, self-absorbed film review site edited by Harry Knowles, was getting more visitors per minute than The Gameroom Blitz does in an entire day.  It's even worse that they'll be in direct competition with video game sites like this one soon.  As you may have read on Penny Arcade, Knowles plans to launch Ain't It Cool Games, which in all likelihood will be every bit as lousy as the site that made him famous. 

Knowles plans to use "industry spies" to uncover information about games still in development, a technique that helped give the otherwise abysmal Ain't It Cool News an edge over other film review sites.  Fortunately, a particularly sharp poster on the Toastyfrog message boards pointed out that Japanese game designers have a little more dignity than conceited film directors like Kevin Smith, and aren't nearly as likely to share inside information about their projects after getting their egos massaged by Knowles' army of zit faced nerds.  Heck, those designers may not want to talk to them at all!  I suspect that Ain't It Cool Games will be finished shortly after they print this "revealing interview" with Shigeru Miyamoto:

"Wow, Mr. Miyamoto, we really, really, REALLY love your work!  So, is it true that Luigi will be a playable character in Super Mario 128?  You can tell your biggest fans, right?"
"Go away, you pathetic little dorks."
"Uh, OK."

January 27, 2003... Knuckle Under

Blarrgh... I'm sorry this update is so late.  I couldn't even get the Zoo Logic comic finished in time, but at least I managed to scrounge up a review for Fighter's Misery.  Namco's made some lousy fighting games in the past, but this one is so bad that it'll actually make you GRATEFUL for Tekken.  I mean, at least Tekken inspired the outstanding Soul Calibur and its sequel.  I can't imagine anything good coming out of Knuckle Heads, except the few quarters gamers foolishly dropped into the arcade game when it was first released.  Even those are so tainted with its failure that they may as well be sent back to the U.S. Mint for a refund.

By the way, it's worth mentioning that the latest MAME build takes a lot less time to load than the previous one released two weeks ago.  I guess I wasn't the only one that found the six second wait just a little irritating.

January 24, 2003... New Games, Old Hardware

Aw, crap, I missed a day.

Have you visited Atari Age lately?  You'd be surprised at what programmers have been able to squeeze out of the 2600 hardware.  It's over twenty five years old, yet it's kicking out incredible techno soundtracks (courtesy of Paul Slocum) and rendered full motion video clips (courtesy of QB creator Andrew Davies).  Both programmers are designing games as well... Slocum's already finished a Super Monkey Ball derivitive called Marble Craze, and Davies is planning a fighting game that's already in the running as the best of its kind on the 2600.

It's really exciting, yet a bit frustrating too, because I'd like to be able to work this kind of magic on classic game systems.  Sadly, I have a tough enough time just making hacks of previously existing 2600 games... actually designing them is a bit past my scope.

January 22, 2003... Now It's Personal

I want to apologize to everyone who hasn't received an E-mail from me in a while.  I haven't been especially active or social in the past few months, but I'm starting to understand things about myself that didn't make sense to me before, and I think I'll be able to better accommodate my readers and the online gaming community as a whole now that I'm on this road to self-discovery.

January 21, 2003... Fire, Fire!  Heh heh!

Sorry I waited so long to do this, but I've finally refreshed the Fire Sale page.  Most of the items are gone or reserved now, and once the currently pending orders are completed I'll probably close up shop.  I'd like to thank everyone who participated... the sale may be over soon, but The Gameroom Blitz will remain thanks to your support.

January 20, 2003... Running at the Speed of Slug

I thought I'd never have to make this complaint again after I upgraded my computer, but after downloading the newest version of MAME, I'm gonna say it one more time... the stupid emulator is WAY TOO SLOW.  I'm forced to wait six seconds before it'll start, and even your ordinary average 2D fighting game has frame rate issues and echoing voices.  This mediocre performance, by the way, is on a 1.0 gig Duron processor with 512 megs of RAM and a 64 meg video card.  Those aren't amazing specifications by today's standards, but come on, it should be more than enough to play Street Fighter the fricking movie.

More than ever, I'm convinced that the designers are wasting system resources with inefficient code and support for games nobody wants to play.  I can think of a pretty easy way to trim some of that fat MAME's put on its waistline over the years... just take all the cheesy strip Mahjong and Shanghai titles and move them to their own MAME build.  After all, nobody really wants them.  Hell, nobody even knows how to play them!  The few who do can get all the Mahjong (and everything else) they want just by downloading PornMAME.  That way, those of us who want to play REAL video games can do it without having to wait a decade for them to load.

January 18, 2003... Something Awful Really Is

Whoa, whoa, whoa... what the heck is John Roche's review doing with my name on it?  Rest assured that I've taken care of this nasty little editing problem, and that John has been given the credit he deserves for his work.

Now it's time for some fun... are you ready to play Something Awful mad libs?  It's really easy... simply take the paragraph below, add the words listed in parentheses, and you've got yourself your very own Something Awful web site review, just the way the pros do it!  You're encouraged to be as uncreative as possible, because it just wouldn't be an Awful Link of the Day article if it you used your imagination to write it.  And once you're done there, you can have even more fun by sabotaging the server that hosts the web site you just insulted!


(insert web site that isn't really awful here)

Well, look at this... it's yet another (furry/goth/conspiracy theorist/webcomic) page!  I tell you, you just can't get enough of these, especially when they're as (write the slander of your choice) and (add another libelous comment here) as this one.  I have seen so many of these (furry/goth/conspiracy theorist/webcomic) sites in my life, but it never gets boring to write about how much I (synonym for contempt) them!  Well, boring for YOU, maybe, but not for me!  Anyways, I would rather (insert horrible torture you'd love to see inflicted upon Rich Kyanka) than to ever visit this (furry/goth/conspiracy theorist/webcomic) site again.  In fact, I wish the all editors of these web sites would just (insert lame insult that was probably dug out of Seanbaby's garbage can), so I would never have to read them again!  You would be (adjective that best describes a Something Awful reader) to visit (insert web site that really isn't awful here), but I'm going to post the URL here anyway in the hopes that you'll either overwhelm it with site traffic or find some other way to destroy it!

(insert name of Something Awful contributor that sleeps with Rich Kyanka; either Emily or Zach will do)

January 16, 2003... A Penny (Arcade) for Your Thoughts

All right, so yesterday's update was a bit of a cop out.  Hopefully, this one will make up for it.  I've added two of John Roche's Game Boy Advance reviews today.  Don't worry, Phil... your review of Otogi for the XBox will cap off the week.

I guess the hot button issues right now are Soul Calibur II and Penny Arcade, so I'll briefly discuss both.  I'd just like to know why everybody on the planet threw a fit about the new art style Gabe experimented with a couple of weeks ago.  I thought the slightly sketchy but richly colored comics looked fantastic, and if the editors of Penny Arcade had switched to that format, I wouldn't have objected to the decision.  Perhaps everyone else would rather have cold comfort than change, but come on, it isn't like this is the first time Penny Arcade's been redesigned.  That redesign, by the way, led to the comic looking a whole lot better than it did when it first started.  Everyone needs to drop the pitchforks and torches and just let the site evolve as its creators have intended.

Speaking of web comics, have you checked out VG.Cats lately?  It's really good this week.

It looks like Link won't be the only exclusive character in Namco's sequel to its incredible Dreamcast fighter Soul Calibur.  Regardless of the system they own, everyone's going to get an extra incentive to take up arms and head into battle.  Link is the most appealing of these new characters (even with an incredibly short skirt that leaves precious little to the imagination... brr...), but Spawn and Heihachi are pretty good consolation prizes if you don't own a GameCube.  I just hope Todd McFarlane's deadly touch doesn't affect Soul Calibur II the way it has every other video game he's helped create.  Remember, he not only has three mediocre Spawn titles under his belt, but was a creative consultant on the wimpy XBox platformer Shrek as well.

Ever get that feeling that you're running on bullet time?  I just woke up and am listening to a Journey song on the radio that sounds like it's been drastically slowed down.  Now if it were sped up, that would make more sense... that's what they've done to films on television to squeeze in more commercials.  I can't imagine why anyone would slow down their tunes, though, leading me to believe that I'm the one who needs a speed adjustment.

January 15, 2003...  Dick Clark's New Year Doesn't Rock

(Jess crawls to the keyboard after getting home from work, looking like hell and feeling like crap)

bv ,n   vnb b nl ,m

(Having completed his update for the day, Jess flashes a dazed yet triumphant smile.  He teeters a bit on his knees, then falls face forward to the ground)

EXTRA RANT: It might be time to dump what was one of my favorite holiday traditions... namely, watching Dick Clark's New Years special.  I don't remember it being this lame and pandering when I was a kid.  Maybe that's the problem... the show reflects the current trends of the year in which it takes place, and the past five years haven't been especially endearing to me.  It doesn't help that they've added Steve Douchie (er, close enough) to the annual celebration.  His jokes somehow manage to be both timely and stale all at once... now here's a guy who could give the the undisputed champion of lame, Jay Leno, a run for his undeserved money.  Even the crowd in New York has lost their magic... last year, shortly after the 9/11 attack, Steve asked one of the New Yorkers who they'd first like to see in the new year.  The response was pretty obvious... Osama bin Ladin, so the guy would have the opportunity to kick the crap out of him.  Well, Steve tried to change the subject this year, asking a member of the crowd who they'd like to KISS once the ball dropped.  The answer, again, was Osama bin Ladin- the official numbskull of the new year later explained that it would be the last kiss Osama ever received.  What the hell...?!  Was he really so desperate to get on television and flex his proverbial muscles that he was willing to make a puzzling, vaguely homoerotic statement like that?  While this dimwit is burying his lips in Osama's thick, gnarled beard, I'll be kissing Dick Clark goodbye and warming up to the Red Green New Year's show instead.

January 14, 2003... The Great GameBoy Dilemma

Wicked, I'm two for two right now!  Just three more updates and I've met my goal for the week.

It's tough to decide whether I want to buy a Game Boy Advance SP or just invest that money into making my current Game Boy better.  The SP is a slick piece of technology; extremely small and convenient to carry, but that size could make it much less convenient to use.  The antiquated Nintendo crosspad's been made even crummier now that it's recessed, and the L and R buttons haven't been moved to the face of the unit as I hoped.  It does have a built in light, and the system now includes rechargable batteries that give you a reasonable amount of gaming mileage (hey, ten hours with lighting is a whole lot better than the Game Gear's three, or the Nomad's one), but I can't help but think that a better Game Boy Advance could be built by Frankensteining the original system.  Er, by "Frankensteining", I mean opening it up and swapping out parts, not tucking it between my thighs and dropping it to the floor in a sexually suggestive throw that instantly earns me thousands of horny fans and a film portrayal by Kylie Minogue.

January 13, 2003... If This Is a Dream Team, Somebody Wake Me Up!

Looks like I'm officially part of the Digital Press "dream team" of writers now.  Joe's shifted his attention from the print fanzine (delegating those responsibilities to Dave Giarrusio) to the web site, and he needs staff members to write new articles.  I just happened to be one of the folks he selected for the job, so you'll see my monthly column MAMExpose, along with the occasional game review, on the official Digital Press home page.

What will this mean for The Gameroom Blitz?  Actually, I'll be updating more, not less, because of it.  I'll need to write on a regular basis to keep Joe happy, and regular updates to The Gameroom Blitz will help keep me in that habit.  I can't make any promises, but I'm aiming to refresh the website five times a week, starting riiiight... now.  Thank goodness I have my own contributors... their reviews will help keep this site worth visiting on a daily basis.

Zoo Logic won't be updated nearly this much, but I'm going to experiment with the format a little, turning it into a combination furry/sprite comic.  Since my backgrounds are nothing to get excited about, I'll be, heh, "borrowing" some from a variety of video games and using them to add more detail to the strip. 

And while I'm teasing the corporate lion with my flagrant copyright violations, I may as well post these pictures from the 2600 version of Jungle King.  That's right, Jungle KING!  I've returned the famed lord of the apes to the game twenty years after Taito was forced to replace him with a Dr. Livingston clone.  Let's just see what Eddie Burroughs and his army of Tharks thinks of THAT!

January 6, 2003... RSI: Miami

You know what really sucks?  Tendenitis.  So does carpal tunnel syndrome.  I'm a little worried that I may have one or both, because my right hand is tingling like crazy, and it's been this way for an alarmingly long time.  I'll have to visit the doctor about it when I can afford it, but in the meantime, does anyone have any suggestions that would help keep the problem in check?  If you do, send them my way... I'd really appreciate it.

I'm kind of worried about this because it's my right hand we're talking about here.  In my line of work and with my hobbies, an ailment like carpal tunnel attacking your most used hand is a serious problem.  If I can't draw, can't type, and can't play video games, this site is dead in the water.  Luckily for me, the latest game I've received, the obscure RPG Shadow Hearts, doesn't require much in the way of fancy joypad work... I could play it with my left hand and a bloody stump if necessary.  I've written both a comic about and a review of Shadow Hearts in this update.

One more thing... I finally sent the profile questionnaires out to most of my contributors.  If you write for the site and didn't get one, let me know and I'll make sure you do.

January 2, 2003... The Imperfect Bloodstorm

It's the special Gameroom Blitz birthday update!  The birthday is mine, but the review on Fighter's Misery is for you.  There's a helpful file to go along with the article, too... it should take you straight to the last boss in the game.  That is, if you actually want to waste time playing it, and that's a little doubtful.

I've fixed a few of the problems with the new review page, too.  Some of the links didn't take you directly to the reviews, but that should no longer be an issue.

Guess that'll do it.  If any of you guys want to surprise me with, you know, guest art or something fun like that, I'd really appreciate the gesture.  Since my birthday also happens to be my first day back to work, and the day everyone decides to feed their Christmas trees into the nearest chipper-shredder, I could use the encouragement.