Monthly Archives: February 2011

Phoenix Jones, Superhero

Spider-Man Isn’t Alone as a Hero Willing to Risk Life and Limb –

SEATTLE – Life isn’t easy for the self-proclaimed superhero who calls himself “Phoenix Jones, Guardian of Seattle.” A 22-year-old day-care worker by day, he dons a black-and-gold costume by night to harass drug dealers and break up street fights.

Oh man. Fuck. Yes. Alex found this in the WSJ this morning. This is pretty much the most awesome news ever. Phoenix Jones, you are my hero.

Patch 4.1

Patch 4.1 Public Test Realms Coming Soon – World of Warcraft via WoW Insider

That’s right, folks. Development on the first major content patch for World of Warcraft: Cataclysm is well underway! We’re currently making preparations to bring some of the initial content and updates we’ve been working on for this patch to the Public Test Realms. So you ask, “what will we find in the first 4.1 test client?” (You did ask that, right?) Well, let me tell you!

4.1 will come with lots of minor tweaks that I don’t feel like talking about. But the fact that we have notes on it means it’s coming soon. If it’s coming to the PTR soon, it’ll be live not too long after. I really don’t think finishing heroic mode and the achievements of the current tier is going to be an option. However, as we’re 8/12, I think finishing normal mode is achievable.
The patch also mentions new heroic dungeons! Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman will be back as heroic 5-man dungeons in a new tier of heroics above the current Cataclysm heroics! The rare mounts will all be back with updated models to distinguish them from the originals! Yay, rare mounts!

Gemini Rue Review

Gemini Rue | PC, Reviews, Adventure

Gemini Rue, formerly known as Boryokudan Rue, is a new PC game developed by Josh Nuernberger. Published and provided to me by Wadjet Eye Games and Dave Gilbert, Gemini Rue was a 2010 Independent Games Festival Student Showcase Winner. Nuernberger has created a wonderful point-and-click adventure game featuring a dark, sci-fi future.
The game’s neo-noir narrative takes players through a grim future in which trust should be withheld and the Boryokudan crime syndicate controls the Gemini system. The story kept me at the edge of my seat through the entire game. In fact, not being able to talk about the game while playing my review copy was almost painful! Gemini Rue explores the themes of individuality, identity, ethics, loyalty, and what it means to truly be who you are.

Finally the embargo on this game is over! Gemini Rue is an amazingly great adventure game I had the pleasure of playing recently. The setting and atmosphere intrigued me, the narrative kept me interested and playing, and the ending was awesome. I end up having to review a lot of mediocre stuff, but I never expected to get to review something so awesome.

The Death of Hudson

The Downfall of Hudson – A Behind the Scenes Look via Joystiq.

It’s now official: Konami has completely taken over Hudson. As a result, all of Hudson’s operations will be folded into Konami, and most unfortunate of all, the US branch of Hudson closed its office doors for good, with a number of Hudson’s outstanding titles now in limbo.

John Lee, formerly of Hudson, gives an account of how Hudson’s downfall came to pass. Included in that, however, are a lot of high points as well. It’s a fascinating read for people who really care about and are interested in the industry.

Old Man’s War Movie Confirmed

Paramount Buys ‘Old Man’s War’ For Wolfgang Petersen And Scott Stuber – via The Whatever

Paramount Pictures has acquired screen rights to the John Scalzi novel series Old Man’s War, with Wolfgang Petersen attached to direct and David Self adapting the tale into a large-scale science fiction project.

OMG! Yes! This news is way too amazing. John Scalzi is easily my favorite still-writing science fiction author, and Old Man’s War is an amazing book. Maybe our BN will finally carry it if they make it into a movie. Why we carry the sequels, The Ghost Brigade, The Last Colony, and Zoe’s Tale, without carrying the first book in the series boggles me.
Old Man’s War is about mankind’s battle for territory far from its original homeworld, Earth. Unlike most science fiction settings in which Earth is humanity’s capital, the Colonial Union uses planet Phoenix as its capital, getting new people from Earth while keeping the nations of Earth largely in the dark about how technologically advanced it really is. The Colonial Defense Force uses senior citizens for its soldiers, transferring their minds into genetically-engineered super-soldiers.
It’s going to be a sweet movie.

Valentine’s Day, Gnomeo & Juliet

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day! We had a tasty lunch at Del Taco before going to work. I received a homemade dinosaur card, and I bought a children’s book and a paint-your-own-dragons toy set thing.
After work we saw Gnomeo & Juliet with Jessica across the street from Barnes & Noble! gem had already seen it, but she talked to Jessica about seeing it again. It was really good! I wasn’t expecting to like it so much, but it was very cute. If you’ve seen it, my favorite scene was when the rabbits were being totally awesome. Also, the music was great; I didn’t realize until it was over that Elton John was the Executive Producer and did the music. Interestingly, I was wishing that it starred Ewan McGregor instead of James McAvoy, and apparently he was at one time slated to be in it. Perhaps it’s just the awesome music and dance scene that reminded me of Moulin Rouge.
You know what’s odd about Valentine’s Day though? More than anyone talking about sappy things, I noticed people complaining a lot about the day. When I was single, I never moped around being lonely and wishing to be in a relationship. I may have felt lonely from time to time, but finding a girlfriend was never something I cared about, and Valentine’s Day was a day I largely ignored. Ignored, not hated. Look, I don’t hate Hanukkah just because I’m not Jewish. So if you’re single, don’t whine about Valentine’s Day.

Acting Nutty

Acting Nutty | Not Always Right

(I am helping a customer scan and email important documents to his insurance company. He speaks English very poorly.)
Me: “Okay, sir. The email is sending now. It will just take a moment. There! Sent!”
Customer: “Is sent?”
Me: “Yes. Your agent should get the email any second now.”
Customer: “Oh! Am so happy! Happy like SQUIRREL!”

I had to post this one. It’s too cute.
Not Always Right is a blog that posts funny quotes from retail customers.

Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura, originally uploaded by theuser.

I read this great "journal of literature & photography" magazine recently called Camera Obscura and have been meaning to mention it. It’s released quarterly, and there have only been two issues so far. The whole issue was filled with great short stories, but I particularly liked "Backfill" by Scott Nadelson in which a man reexamines his life and the people around him.

Troll mohawk hat

World of WarCrafts: Cozy knitted troll mohawk hat by Anreha

With that in mind, today’s World of WarCrafts looks like something that would be incredibly welcome while venturing out there in the cold: a warm, knitted hat made to mimic the style of trolls and their outrageous mohawks. This warm and fuzzy creation was put together by Anreha of the guild on Proudmoore (US-A)…

Please make me this, someone.

Elite in Beat Hazard!

Steam Community :: Beat Hazard :: TheUser
I finally hit the Elite rank in Beat Hazard today! I say finally, but I think I’ve only clocked a couple hours in the game. Still, I think it’s a really terrific game. In the last two days I also managed to snag the Brutal Boss Kill achievement for killing a boss before it fires, the Go Platinum achievement for scoring a million points in a single track, and the I’m Just Starting achievement for reaching five minutes in Survival Mode.

Bad Air Day

Bad Air Day for iOS | Apple/Mac, iPhone/iPod, Reviews, Strategy

Some games have deep meanings that conjure strong emotional responses. They are heavy, somber games. Luckily, I’m not talking about one of those games today. I’m here to tell you about Bad Air Day, a game all about farting, provided to me by GameHouse!

Not a bad time-sink. The character design is cute, and while I enjoyed playing it a few times, I probably won’t come back it often.

Portable Gaming

I think portable gaming is at a weird place right now. The DS and PSP are both great platforms, but both also have their problems. They suffer from different types of shovelware and bloated features while missing out on important ones. The biggest problem facing them, in my opinion, is the phone. Why carry a dedicated gaming device when I have my phone?
I absolutely loved my DS for a very long time. I bought a DS Lite when it launched and upgraded to a DSi after my DS Lite’s touchscreen failed. I carried it everywhere and played it all the time. It got a lot of crappy titles, sure, but it had a lot of hits too. Layton, Phoenix Wright, Feel the Magic, Trauma Center, New Super Mario Bros., Sonic Rush, Tetris DS, The World Ends With You, Pokemon, Elite Beat Agents, and many more.
The DS had a few very important hardware features that let it reign supreme in my gaming. No, I’m not talking about the touchscreen that is sometimes useful but usually forced into the game. First, the device can fit in a pocket and closes, protecting the screen from scratches. Second, closing the DS immediately put it to sleep, allowing me to easily play during classes (which I guess will never matter again to me anyways). People have mentioned the PSP having this same feature, but the second or so it takes the PSP to goto sleep or restore makes a difference. Third, the battery life is relatively long. I can go all day playing my DS on and off without it dying.
The DSi has added some worthless software. Why would I want to take low quality photographs or play with sound recordings? I wouldn’t. What does work nicely though on all DS models is Pictochat. Pictochat is basically a LAN IM client that sends drawings rather than text. While worthless most of the time, Pictochat really shines during large nerd-gatherings like Anime Expo. I’ve had a lot of fun at AX with Pictochat! The social aspect is great for a few other games as well. At AX there are always a ton of people playing Tetris DX, and I love to jump into the game.
The PSP is a more powerful device. Unfortunately, it doesn’t fit easily into one’s pocket and doesn’t close to protect the screen. This means it never really gets carried with me. Maybe it comes with me when I goto a friend’s house or visit family, but it doesn’t get to enjoy the day out and about in my pocket like my DS ever did. And unlike the DS, it gets a lot less original, innovative software.
I believe this stems from its power. The PSP is powerful enough to play games that almost-but-not-quite look like their console counterparts. For people who don’t own consoles, this is great. Maybe they can’t play the latest great console game, but there’s a probably a version of it on the PSP that looks the same. That’s true. It looks like the console version (only with much less anti-aliasing, among other problems) but is actually far inferior. No surprises here, but of course the PSP version is missing things that the PS3 or Xbox 360 versions have. The DS, on the other hand, can’t run a game that even looks like the console versions, so the software doesn’t attempt to do so. Of course there are exceptions to this, but I still stand by my point.
That’s not to say that the PSP didn’t have some cool software. I enjoyed Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?, LocoRoco, Power Stone Collection, Mega Man Maverick Hunter X, Guilty Gear Judgement, Every Extend Extra, Brooktown High, Exit, Aedis Eclipse, Wipeout, and other games. Some of those are remakes, and that list is much more comprehensive than my DS list, which is the problem with the PSP.
The PSP also lacks a communication program like Pictochat and super popular multiplayer titles like Tetris or Pokemon. It’s a lot harder to find people with whom to play games at events when they’re spread across multiple games. Now that I think about it, I’ve never played any PSP title online at all, and I’ve definitely done random matches of many DS games online. That may not be an inherent problem with the device, but it is, at the very least, a symptom of lacking software.
The biggest strength that the PSP seems to have, which I would never endorse, is the emulation it can do if custom firmware is installed. Again, while Sony doesn’t want you to do it the PSP is capable of playing every PS1 game as well as emulators for pretty much every cartridge-based console. This makes the PSP currently one of the best ways to experience these past platforms. My Atari Lynx has wonderful software, but it eats up AA batteries, six at a time. My PSP can play Lynx games easily. The downside is that most emulators don’t play nicely with standby, thus making it even harder to play the PSP in short bursts.
With both of these great (overlooking their flaws) platforms, what gets played the most by me? My iPhone. As I mentioned previously, this is an easy decision. Let’s look at my work day assuming I’m taking the bus to and from work. I have a 20 minute bus ride to work, a 15 minute break, a half hour lunch, a 15 minute break, and a 20 minute us ride home. I usually eat/drink on one break and my lunch, so that gives me 55 minutes of combined bus rides and break during which I might want to play video games. Of course, there are other things I might want to be doing as well. Should I carry another device, either stuffing my pockets or bringing a bag, just on the off chance that I might want to play something for a small, insubstantial amount of time? My iPhone is on me at all times anyways, and its games are designed to be played in short durations. The problems with the device, however, are obvious. It doesn’t have any physical control, and most of its game are of little consequence. Part of this is a problem with people refusing to spend money. Why buy a $9.99 game when there are plenty of $0.99 games? This means companies can’t invest a lot of money into games either, so it’s a cycle of cheap games. The big expensive are $9.99 ones; There aren’t any $20 games that I’ve seen.
What must-play games are on the iPhone? Space Deadbeef, Space Invaders Infinity Gene, Chuck’s Challenge, Atsumari, Game Dev Story, Plants vs. Zombies. There are a lot of fun games that are great time sinks without being substantial but not many games that I’d heavily recommend. Although looking at it now, I suppose it’s bigger than the PSP’s list.
Now, we have two new devices on the horizon. First, the DS’s successor, the 3DS. It’s 3D. I guess that’s cool, I suppose. Maybe my opinion will change will I see it, but I haven’t been impressed with any 3D console playing I’ve done so far. Needing to friend others only once and not per game is nice, and a messaging service is nice too, but these are both features present on Live, Steam, PSN, WoW, etc. The notepad feature is also nice that you can use while playing, but this is a bonus rather than a selling point in my mind. Nintendo’s handheld has also gained a thumbstick. Yay. As for the games… we’ll see. Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney is exciting, and I hope they bring it to America. We’ll also see a new Mario Kart and Animal Crossing and a lot of rereleases. Not super impressive. Really there’s one title about which I’m excited. What’s horrible about the 3DS is that Nintendo did a 180 from one of the best things about the DS: It now has a 3-5 hour battery life. Ugh!
The PSP’s successor, Next Generation Portable or NGP, has also been recently announced. It’s screen is now a touchscreen, and the back is also touch-sensitive, seemingly emulating L2 and R2 I believe. That seems cool enough without being gimicky. It also has two analog sticks that seem better, at least in photos, than the nub on the PSP. No word on battery life, but I’m guessing it won’t be great. What is great is that you can see what games people are playing near you. That sounds extremely cool, especially for events like Anime Expo, Comic-Con, or BlizzCon. The other awesome thing is that there’s talk of the NGP being able to play recompiled PS3 games without the games needing to be recoded. I believe it’s been suggested that this means that gamers can play their PS3 games, some day, on their NGPs. Coupled with the PlayStation Cloud that allows saves to be stored server-side, means that you could seamlessly move between console and handheld. Amazing.
The PSP never got super great software, but being able to play PS3 content would be awesome. It seems like the NGP is beating the 3DS in my mind, but if that feature is coming to the NGP, it won’t be at launch, so it seems the NGP is probably going to be losing at first. Maybe that’s just Sony’s strategy. In fact, the DS was really cool for a while before getting boring, and the PS3 had no software for a while until it overtook the 360 in my mind. But we still have the same problem. I’m drooling all over the 3DS and NGP, but am I really going to carry either of them with me on a daily basis when I have my iPhone? Nope! Am I going to be playing on my iPhone when I need to kill time on the go? Yup! And if I’m only excited about the NGP for playing PS3 games, and I’m really only going to have my NGP while I’m at home… why get one when I could play my PS3?
The only thing that can really wrangle my interest from the iPhone is the Xperia Play, the unannounced Sony phone that runs Android. In addition to being an Android phone, it has a d-pad and the regular four PlayStation buttons as well as a PlayStation store. It’ll have an app store for Android apps, including cheap games, and a more expensive store that will offer PlayStation branded games. This is an amazing idea that well help curb the problem of cheap, diluted pool of games on the iPhone’s App Store. While I’m already invested in the iPhone, it seems to me that the Xperia Play has serious potential. I suppose we’ll see as more details are revealed.

Oh, Fictitious Supreme Being

Hey Barnes and Noble customers! Ready for your entertainment fix? Come downstairs to the newsstand and check out People Yearbook 2011, 100 Greatest Sports Movies, the Oscars issue of Entertainment Weekly, and many more great entertainment magazines! They’re all downstairs in the newsstand.

Kill me.