Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Top Picks from Day One of GOG.com's DRM-Free Holiday Sale

Well, after absurd amounts of requests from folks, I am going to give my top picks from GOG.com’s DRM-Free Holiday Sale (and Steam’s whenever that happens).

Here’s the deal, however: Number one, I am NOT, repeat NOT going to go through every single deal.  I am only giving my picks of best value given the non-sale price, no more and no less.

With that little disclaimer out of the way, here we go:

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream $2.99 (50% off): If you are a Harlan Ellison fan, this is almost too absurd a deal to pass up.

Papers, Please $6.66 (33% off): While the price might not technically be good, the game is apparently superb.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings $9.99 (50% off): This is almost a criminal price tag.  The original game RETAILS for $9.99, so this one is not one to pass up.

Trine 2: The Complete Story $3.99 (80% off): This may very well be my Deal of the Day from a pure value perspective.  This game looked FABULOUS when I saw TotalBiscuit and the Yogscast play it.  Seeing it at $3.99 for the entire story?  Well what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Nastybad Doomsayer Things and the Idea of Loyalty in a Digital Age

The LivingSocial outage last week brought on some real doomsayers, including those at slate.com, calling Groupon the "undisputed winner" and predicting LivingSocial's demise.

 

Unfortunately, what these doomsayers fail to grasp is the idea of loyalty in the digital age: If you do not earn loyalty, you are truly doomed. Nintendo is slowly but surely winning me back on the loyalty front, while companies like Hyperkin and Apple have my utmost loyalty at this point.

 

Now, loyalty in this case does NOT mean blind devotion against all else. Unlike, say, Fandroids (aka Android fans) who force the Android mobile operating system down your throat at every given opportunity, the loyalty I am talking about is the kind that matters: Someone (especially a digital store) that you trust with your money. I trust Amazon only so far with my money. Same with PayPal. Same with Humble Bundle.

 

But something like GOG? I can trust them implicitly with money and any "major purchases" that I make on my GOG account, I trust GOG to not screw me over, or add stupid hoops I have to jump through, I trust GOG to hold my data, not use it for ill purposes, and in general give me a lot of value for my dollar. That is true digital loyalty, ladies and gentlemen.

 

As far as "loyalty" goes among digital deal websites, I go where the deals are. Now whether those deals are on Groupon, or LivingSocial, or AmazonLocal, or some weird deal site associated with a magazine or other website, I care not. If there is a deal I'm interested in, I get that deal regardless of the site it's on. But now LivingSocial has my loyalty. They noticed a security issue, and they fixed it. That's a big deal, and I'll be checking LivingSocial first from here on out, because I'm not sure yet if I can trust Groupon with my money.  So, all you nastybad doomsayer things can go find something else to crow about.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Wrapping Up Nintendo #5: The Final Frontier

Space… the final frontier...

No, it’s universal accounts and Miiverse for 3DS as far as Nintendo fans are concerned.  And last week, that very announcement happened.  Along with a few other things.

This time on Wrapping Up Nintendo, I’m trying a new format.  This time, it’s a new format that I call The Good, The Bad, and The Meh.

The Good:

  • UNIVERSAL eShop ACCOUNTS!  FINALLY!  Well, baby steps towards that goal at the very least, unfortunately Bill Trinen was not at all clear about this and from what he said, it just was about creating a combined balance between the Wii U and 3DS eShop accounts using a single Nintendo Network ID.  Unfortunately, it does NOT appear we will be getting “Cross Buy” functionality or “re-download all digital games regardless of device” functionality with this update (which they very easily could do if they merged the NNIDs with your Club Nintendo account, but oh well, what can you do?).
  • 3DS Miverse looks quite interesting.
  • The new Link Between Worlds trailer along with the new Zelda 3DS XL bundle… holy moley… That’s all I have to say.  Love it, love it, love it. Can’t wait to play it!
  • Bravely Default looks FABULOUS. February 7th cannot come soon enough.
  • New Pikmin 3 DLC!  SCORE!  For anyone who doesn’t have a Wii U and Pikmin 3 yet (*cough* me *cough*), this is really good news that Pikmin 3 will have even more value for money.

The Bad:

  • No mention of the new Yoshi game nor of the new Kirby game. Guess there’s another Nintendo Direct by the end of the year?  No other explanation I guess.
  • Still not backtracking on the Animal Crossing Plaza Miiverse thingie ending in 2014, eh Nintendo?
  • The indie games sizzle reel didn’t include The Pinball Arcade.  Unforgivable at this point, as that was one of the launch window games.
  • Mario 3D World’s neat little “10 things” video looked great, but hoo boy that spoiler warning was totally needed because of thing #10.  Which I won’t go into at all, but I didn’t need to know that going into maybe playing it this holiday season. Thanks Nintendo.

The Meh:

  • Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy.  I am not a fan of them and I know a LOT of you are, but I just never got into them.  Remember this is from my burnout period and frankly I need to go back and discover these games for the first time before I play this one.  Sorry.
  • The Nintendo Zone thing was kinda boring and repetitious.
  • YouTube on 3DS / Wii U YouTube app upgrade.  Too bad they didn’t have their stuff together a year or two ago on this one when people actually cared about this.

So, how’d you like this new format?  Comment either here or on Google+ on whether you like this format.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Reclaiming The Fun #1: Rediscovering What I Love

Today’s installment of Reclaiming The Fun is all about rediscovery.  After all, rediscovery of my love for the game of pinball prompted this whole crazy mission.

While I was on vacation, I had lots of fun going on various excursions, including a food tour, a walk on the beach on Assateague Island along with viewing a few of the famed Assateague ponies up close, as well as playing a game of real life pinball (which was a tad lower than I’d like… I may take that issue up with the Stern Pinball folks as soon as possible) and rediscovering places that sold the things I love dearly from the beach, such as salt water taffy and fudge.

Another major rediscovery of note is I rediscovered just how much I loved the beach.  It made me realize that I might need a beach fix much more often than once every 2-3 years or thereabouts, and I hope I can get that moving on as soon as I can.

But that isn’t all.  I am rediscovering my love for photography, and my love for reading, and my love for quite a lot of different things.  Which is to say, I think I am going to start rediscovering games I may have burned out on and games I even missed out on for one reason or the other.  So, hopefully I can start that mission as soon as possible.  In the meantime though, have fun, play fair, and I’ll see you next time.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Reclaiming The Fun #0: Intro and Why The Fun Had To Be Reclaimed

As I start packing to go on vacation starting tomorrow I wanted to talk a little bit about gaming, because I haven’t done so in awhile.

I have been playing The Pinball Arcade since its Steam release on Monday, and yesterday (Wednesday) was the first time I’d really sunk my teeth into the game with an actual controller in my hands, and I love playing this game with a controller!  It feels right and I think it works wonderfully.  The optimization process for my particular setup is still going to be an ongoing process but it seems to be running at a decent, smooth framerate right now and I couldn’t be happier about that.

But, as I was going through and trying to hit all the high score achievements (or at least 1 out of 3 achievements for every Season 1 table), I came to an abrupt realization: For the first time in awhile, I was having fun playing a video game!  That sense of fun had long since evaporated and transformed itself into becoming a huge chore.  I think the last game I fully enjoyed without thinking of it as a chore was the original Pokemon Gold & Silver.  Maybe Super Smash Bros. Melee on the console side of the fence, but that was about it.

So, why is it that I was no longer having any fun doing something I thoroughly enjoyed as a child?  Frankly, I don’t know, but it’s high time I start reclaiming that sense of fun that I had as a young child.  I’ve just now started getting back into the pen-&-paper RPG hobby and now I am deciding to go on a mission of fun reclamation that involve the video games from my childhood.

I usually can find an arcade where I am headed on vacation, so I might be able to stop in one of the arcades and play something that I remember from my childhood.  And as a result of my fun reclamation mission, I will eventually start writing a little bit about games I decided to revisit (or visit for the very first time in some instances) on my mission of fun reclamation, and I hope I can continue to write a little bit more as I go along.

One of the key pieces of my fun reclamation mission won’t be out for another month but I’ll start reclaiming my fun right away.  I am so excited.

Now, there is one more huge piece of this: While I am on my mission of fun reclamation, I am finally going to stop playing games that have stopped being fun for me, and that includes any games, including games on my iPhone.  So, I should have an update on what I did to reclaim the fun after my return from vacation.  I cannot guarantee that I will update the blog while I’m on vacation, so after tomorrow’s (much delayed) post, I will see you after my return.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Serious Steam Shenanigans have Delayed As The Steam/GOG Turns #14

Unfortunately I am going to have to delay As The Steam/GOG Turns #14 due to Steam’s idiotic European pricing and The Pinball Arcade (which was prominently featured in that) getting an unforeseen delay because of it.

Apologies for the inconvenience.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My Thoughts On OS X 10.9 Mavericks... So Far

Wow.  Wow wow wowee wow.  Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks is here, and it is FREE to all Mac users.  So, I will give you my thoughts on all that I have played with so far and see where that goes.

iBooks for Mac

FINALLY.  iBooks is on the Mac!  The store interface looks eerily like iTunes's, and it takes what was before just for iPhone and iPad to the Mac platform and I think it does it very well.  Also, reading in iBooks is absolutely cool, so there’s that.

Maps

Well well well.  I love Maps myself (and unlike the rest of the world I’ve had exactly zero trouble with it), but this is rather unique and awesome.  It does have some dicey points-of-interest still (searching for a public library doesn’t do well, just saying), but overall it’s a fabulous application and it is now on the Mac with Mavericks!

Calendar with Travel Times built-in

This is truly an amazing feature. I can get an idea of when I can leave to get somewhere at a time certain and I cannot be happier about that!!  For someone like me who has issues with judging timing, this is an absolute godsend and I cannot wait to use this more and more and more.

Overall Thoughts

I am actually really liking the fact that Apple finally got the inane memory requirements for the integrated graphics cards out of the way and I am no longer pegging the memory of my MacBook Pro with the apps I run on a day-to-day basis because they finally gave the integrated graphics chips dynamic memory (i.e. it won’t be such a blasted memory hog when you aren’t running graphics-intensive apps.  FINALLY!!!).  Now since I may very well be in the market for a new Mac sooner rather than later, I may actually consider buying a Mac laptop with the new Intel graphics chips now that Mavericks doesn’t give the integrated GPU so dang much memory!  Which is awesome.

Also, I haven’t gotten to play that much with the new iLife and iWork apps yet so those will get their own blog post once I get to put them through their paces enough to write eloquently about the updates.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

As The Steam/GOG Turns #13: The "Wow it's been much too long" Lucky Number 13 Edition

Welcome back to As The Steam/GOG Turns, the continuing story of two competing digital distribution services that compete for everyone's attention.

I'm baaaaa-aaaack!  Didya miss me?!  Yeah, I just lost all track of time, and I got swamped with well over a month's worth of releases. So, this edition will essentially be me playing a gigantic amount of catchup, and I'll be returning to my normal posting of this column come Friday, November 1st.

Also I won't feature any Early Access, DLC, updates, or Pre-Order / Pre-Purchase releases, only full releases will be featured this time around.  So, let's get this party started, shall we?!

First off, we have some GOG releases.  I wish to feature games that I may or may not have featured prior.  

So, with that in mind, I will start off by discussing the new Shadow Warrior game.  I know, I know, remakes aren't good, remakes never come to the level of the original, blah blah blah, but I think it looks like an interesting game.  Next is Re-Volt, a delightful little late-90s racing game where you race radio controlled cars.  Sort of like RC Pro-Am for the NES, but more interesting and with better graphics.  

Next up is PixelJunk Monsters HD.  Most of you who don't follow console releases don't know what PixelJunk Monsters is, but it's basically a cartoonish tower defense game that has been on Sony's platforms for forever and ever amen, but is FINALLY on the PC.  Next up is the full trilogy of The Legend of Kyrandia.  These are some of the most legendary point-&-click adventure games NOT made by the hands of LucasArts, and the games are now finally, finally available for wider release once again.  Great job on this one, GOG.

Next is a really, really, really wacky one: Long Live the Queen!  It is essentially a political thriller disguised by cute anime visuals and for $10, there isn't much where you can go wrong to at least give it a try.  Along those same lines but in the complete polar opposite direction is Democracy 3, with sliders galore (but no FOV slider, haha) and containing more bubbles than Lawrence Welk's legendary long-running variety show.  However, this gameis ridiculously overpriced at a mere $24.99.  However, for a hardcore political simulation, it is at least adequate.  I personally will wait till that one's on sale before I bite.

The final release I am featuring is Corsairs Gold.  Shiver me timbers, matey, and dominate the Seven Seas by any means necessary in a legendary real time strategy game series featuring (what else?) pirates.  This one looks absurdly fun, so that's going on my wishlist for later. Its $6 price tag means I'll probably snap that one up sooner rather than later.

Now before I get to the Steam releases, I want to very specifically highlight some of GOG's "Customer Love" in the adding of content to pre-existing releases with recent additions to the Bullfrog catalog, with the addition (FINALLY) of the American Revolt, Deeper Dungeons, Hidden Worlds, Promised Lands, and Undiscovered Worlds expansions for Syndicate, Dungeon Keeper, Magic Carpet, Populous, and Populous: The Beginning, respectively.

Now on to the Steam releases.  Of which, there really ain't much to look at here.  There's Pac-Man Championshiop Edition DX+, and the full release of the Steam edition of King of Fighters XIII, and Batman Arkham Origins, and some weird release called Bunny Must Die! Chelsea and the 7 Devils which looks eerily like a shmup that I absolutely freaking HAVE to try, especially since it sort of reminds me of the Touhou series of bullet hell shmups I've only marginally heard of through friends.  But other than a few things (and Steam Controllers that look promising, and Steam Machines, and SteamOS, which if embraced by the major AAA publishers will be a huge deal for PC gaming, but I have exactly zero confidence that's going to happen), that is actually it.  So, my mini not-by-choice backlog is cleared out finally and I will hopefully see you Friday.

So, that does it for this week.  And until next time, the Steam/GOG conflict ever turns...

Friday, October 25, 2013

MMMMMMARRAAAAAAAAHHHH (the update post)

Yeah... it's been a bizarre, weird couple of weeks full of writers block.  This image probably will make some of you laugh:

My problem has become that I want desperately to write in my blog, and my brain is hardly functioning enough to do so.  Maybe it's a function of my Asperger syndrome, maybe it's just frustration, but today I went to the DMV and just about lost it.  Amazingly, I kept my cool with the DMV people, but boy I had that MMMMMARRAAAHHH moment this afternoon.  I guess all my writers block frustration had finally gotten to the point where it bubbled over or something, but I just gave out this almost primal-ish scream in the car where nobody could really hear me and after that I finally felt better than I had in weeks.  Sometimes you gotta do that and boy that really helped me.  Of course, having some time to decompress after all of that mess certainly helped.  Certainly helped with my writers block for sure.

I think I am getting better.  I'll have a few more posts up soon, but I am going to try not to litter everyone's feed readers and Google+ feed with my posts.  I finally have worked through those issues and I am going to start blogging again.  I've been playing with the new OS X, Mavericks, and I'll certainly talk more about this week's Apple event, but that will start up again on Monday.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Wrapping Up Nintendo #4: Sonic, Zelda, and Kirby, oh my!

Yes indeed, today was worth being miserable from recent sickness to watch the Nintendo Direct presentation.  So, let's go ahead and give you a full rundown along with my thoughts, shall we?

First, Satoru Iwata delivered some Wii U information, starting with Super Mario 3D World.  I have to say, the way they presented SM3DW looks INCREDIBLE and I can't wait to see what other people think.  New powerups like turning your character of choice into various blocks (nice one) and multiple versions of your character of choice and what is most likely the first "false exit" in the first Ghost House of the game seem almost inevitable that people will enjoy it.

Next, Wii Party U's House Party Mode was demonstrated.  The minigames looked bizarre to say the least but seem interesting enough for gaming weekends with friends and Thanksgiving w/ family I guess.

Then they confirmed a delay for Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze till February 2014.  That's okay, the release schedule in October and November was getting pretty crowded anyways on both Wii U and the Nintendo handhelds.

Then he talked about Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games.  The game actually has an online mode for the very first time, which is absolutely AMAZING.  Also they announced a Wii Remote Plus bundle for the game (which seems to be the theme of the day) and it's coming November 15th.

Then a BOMBSHELL dropped.  Sonic is returning to the next Super Smash Bros. game!  I was expecting it, but simultaneously not expecting it.

Then Iwata discussed the Mission Mode from Pikmin 3.  There's a software update for the game available now and it is required for paid Mission Mode DLC.  Luckily one of them is free, so...

After that, he tossed it over to Nintendo of America and Damon Baker from the licensing department talked about third parties on Nintendo platforms with release dates in parentheses:

  • Etrian Odyssey Untold The Milennium Girl (today)
  • Just Dance 2014 (October 8)
  • Skylanders Swap Force (October 13)
  • Lego Marvel Super Heroes (October 22)
  • Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate (October 25 )
  • Sonic Lost World (October 29)
  • Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag (October 29)
  • Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Dual Destinies (October 24) - free demo available NOW on Nintendo eShop
  • Nintendo is attending Indiecade!  This is BIG news!
Then after all that, he tossed it over to the Treehouse's Eric Peterson with first-party updates:
  • Zelda Wind Waker HD Outset Island shirt QR code for Animal Crossing New Leaf for those of you who haven't burned out on the game yet
  • 2DS retail hardware shown, looks good.  I might even get the red one for once, who knows.
  • 6 StreetPass hits per Nintendo Zone StreetPass Relay point now
  • New Bravely Default trailer (looks interesting, almost like the graphical style of Final Fantasy 3 on the DS)
Afer that we went back to Iwata and got an update on the new 3DS Zelda, A Link Between Worlds.  This game bucks Zelda convention in that you can get the dungeon items early on and tackle the dungeons in any order you choose.  That is quite cool!

The final announcement?  A BRAND SPANKING NEW KIRBY GAME coming out in 2014!!!  YAY!  Can't wait!  Loved the old-school Kirby music too, can't wait to play that one.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Waiting For Nintendo #3: What could possibly go wrong?

Today Nintendo said that tomorrow, Tuesday October 1st at 10:00 am my time, Nintendo will put up a Nintendo Direct to talk about Nintendo 3DS and Wii U games that are coming out later this year.

As of tomorrow, it'll be 11 days between then and the global release of Pokemon X&Y and the release of the Nintendo 2DS.  So, I guess we'll hear about both of them if history is any indicator.

Then we'll probably hear about Mario, and other games.  They have largely not shown very much of the games they're more than likely to show tomorrow morning.

So, do I have predictions?  Yes.

3DS/2DS:

  • Pokemon is an obvious one even tho we already had a Pokemon Direct. Hardware bundles, anyone?
  • Maybe a focus on the 2DS, however briefly.  Maybe we'll even get hardware bundles with Pokemon X & Y...
  • More than likely we'll hear about Mario Party Island Tour, the new Mario Party we have seen exactly NOTHING about since it was announced as just Mario Party for the Nintendo 3DS.

Wii U:

  • Maybe we'll see more of Wii Sports Club and when we'll see the other sports.
  • Maybe more Wii Fit U...
  • Definitely Mario 3D World which hasn't been seen since E3
  • Maybe DKC: Tropical Freeze
  • Maybe a surprise or two, I have like no idea

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Apple Approach is Sorely Needed For Loyalty Rewards Programs

I went on a walk earlier today, and I got inspired to write this post.  I've been a member of tons of loyalty rewards programs over the years, from local grocery stores to places like Best Buy and I am even a member of several frequent flyer miles programs.  All of them, frankly, have one thing in common: They stink.

But why do they stink?  That's where calm, reasoned analysis comes into play.

So, why do customer loyalty programs leave customers cold, even when customer satisfaction is so high?  There are three types of loyalty: Prior loyalty (that is, your loyalty to the brand before you joined their rewards program), Present loyalty (what you are loyal to now), and future loyalty (what you could be loyal to in the future and what many companies wish to incentivize).

Prior loyalty is really difficult to judge when you are signing up for a membership program.  Brick-&-mortar retail doesn't really have a major way to judge prior loyalty and even then it would be a bit of a privacy invasion.  We live in an age where e-commerce is the vastly preferred way to do much of our business.  The stores that wish to incentivize our loyalty to have a ton of information about us now, up to and including what we have bought from them, the monetary value therein, etc.  So why are we still concerned about preserving our privacy there?

Even worse, incentivizing present loyalty is quite difficult.  Ditto to future loyalty because you have no idea if your incentives will keep people loyal to your brand.

So, where does Apple drop in and shake things up?  As I explain this, I will call this loyalty reward program Apple Dollars for the remainder of this post.

So, Apple Dollars makes signup easy.  All you need is your Apple ID you already use with iTunes.  Essentially, if you have had an Apple ID since very nearly the inception of iTunes, you are already a member of Apple Dollars.  That deals with a large portion of the prior loyalty issue.

Then Apple Dollars makes present and future loyalty a piece of cake, because the more Apple Dollars you rack up in the simple signup process, the more Apple products you buy, the more Apple Dollars you rack up, etc.

So, why do I suggest Apple Dollars?  Because this will absolutely kickstart Apple's sales in crucial markets like higher education (where students have either no or very limited disposable income) and in emerging markets like China.

Apple Stores

Okay folks, problem to be solved time: I have some Apple gear that needs service and I would love to be able to go to an Apple Store without spending 4-12 hours in the car, round-trip.

My solution is this: Apple Stores that are specific to universities and colleges all across the US and maybe even the world that is within easy walking distance of campus for those students who don't want to drive there, and easy driving distance for those of us in the community who wish to go there.

My main target for this solution: Virginia Polytechnic University in Blacksburg, Virginia.  Known as simply Virginia Tech to many, it is an ACC school with thousands upon thousands upon thousands of students, faculty, staff, and community members who are also fans.  VT has one of the most beautiful campuses around.  The only problem?  The only places you can buy ANY Apple products at all are Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Target, and any Apple Authorized Resellers that are in the area.  No Genius Bar for me.  No Genius Bar for anyone who lives in or around Blacksburg.  That, frankly, is depressing.

This solution can act in two fashions.  The first is an Apple Campus Store that is on the campus of Virginia Tech, or within very easy walking distance.  Blacksburg was one of the very first "Internet cities" in the entire country back in 1989/1990.  It is, therefore, quite shameful that Blacksburg doesn't have a single Apple Store yet.  The second is an Apple Store a little further away from campus in a shopping center of some description, which would be an easy drive for a lot of people, and so parking won't necessarily be a major factor.

The cool thing about this is you can go location scouting to these locations and figure out the best places for both types of Apple Store for these college-friendly locations!  So, along with the aforementioned Virginia Tech, I would like to suggest the following (incredibly scenic) places that I know of for Apple to go location scouting for this Apple Campus Store / Apple Store dual solution, and they can expand this as needed:

Western Carolina University / Cullowhee, NC
Brevard College / Brevard, NC
The University of North Carolina At Asheville / Asheville, NC
The University of South Carolina / Columbia, SC
Radford University / Radford, VA

Update: Two Apple Posts Incoming

Hey guys, I am going to be talking about Apple for the next 2 posts.  So, I suggest you just ignore what I put up for the next two posts.  I know a lot of you may or may not ignore my Nintendo posts, so... if you are not an Apple fan like I, please tune out now.

Friday, September 20, 2013

As The Steam/GOG Turns #12: FOTAQ! Finally!

Welcome back to As The Steam/GOG Turns, the continuing story of two competing digital distribution services that compete for everyone's attention.

This week's a bit of an interesting one folks.  It's sorta quiet on the Steam front if you don't count DLC, and GOG has been roaring to life of recent.

There is one dual release this week that I wish to talk about: Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller.  I mentioned this last week but it's now a full release on both Steam and GOG.  If you liked Gabriel Knight, you'll like this one because it's from Gabriel Knight mastermind Jane Jensen.

The Steam releases are pretty light this week, so I will just talk about a couple.  First I'll talk about a pre-purchase: Agarest: Generations of War.  Stategy RPG fans ought not to miss this one.

Next is Hot Wheels: World's Best Driver.  I wouldn't normally mention a game that is probably licensed tripe like this, but it's a lightweight week, folks.

And finally, because I love you horror game fans, 1953: KGB Unleashed.  This sounds really interesting, and if I wasn't a complete and total weenie I'd play it.

And finally the GOG releases.  First up, releasing JUST today for absolutely no money, is Flight of the Amazon Queen, or FOTAQ for short.  FOTAQ has been available in some format from the ScummVM website for free for some time now and it's finally in a format that you can just click-&-play like every GOG game is.  Two free releases to the GOG catalog in two weeks?! Madness!

Next is Privateer 2: The Darkening, a not-very-well-received game from the Wing Commander Privateer series.  We shall see if people buy it but I will wait till it's on-sale.

And finally this week we have Shadow Man, based on the comic of the same name.  Very dark, very gripping, if you like this sort of thing jump on it immediately.

So, that does it for this week.  And until next time, the Steam/GOG conflict ever turns...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

RIP Hiroshi Yamauchi, Visionary President of Nintendo Co. Ltd.

Today is a sad day for all of us Nintendo fans.  We lost the former president of Nintendo Co, Ltd., Hiroshi Yamauchi.  He reigned over Nintendo from 1949 (!!!) to 2003.  In that time, Yamauchi-san oversaw the transition of Nintendo from a playing card manufacturer to a toy manufacturer to an arcade game manufacturer and finally to the video gaming powerhouse that Nintendo is today.

It is Yamauchi-san that we must thank for his incredible gifts to the world: Mario. Luigi. The Legend of Zelda.  Donkey Kong.  Pikmin.  None of these incredible things would be possible without Yamauchi. There WOULD be no video games that people malign as driving people to violence if it wasn't for Hiroshi Yamauchi's incredible vision of a console called the Family Computer, or Famicom for short (it was called the Nintendo Entertainment System outside of Japan) where video game makers had to license their games for each system.

On a historical sidenote, at the time the Famicom was introduced in Japan, the Video Game Crash of 1983 happened.  It was largely due to the console manufacturers at that time (such as Atari) who just put any old video game they wanted to on these consoles and the sales just dropped through the floor because there was no such thing as quality control at that time.

The gaming systems that Yamauchi-san oversaw at least the launches for were: The Famicom (NES outside of Japan), Super Famicom (SNES outside of Japan), Nintendo 64, GameCube, Game & Watch, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance.  I included the handhelds here because nobody that I saw covering the death of Yamauchi-san today covered the fact that he oversaw the booming success of the Game Boy.

Yamauchi-san ought to be appreciated by all of us gamers.  I do not believe that all of us who are gamers today WOULD be gamers without the legendary Hiroshi Yamauchi helming the systems that many of us grew up with.  Thank you Yamauchi-san.  Rest well.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wrapping Up Nintendo, Special Edition: Wii Fit U & Wii Sports Club

Today Nintendo did a Nintendo Direct completely and totally out of left field.  We had NO warning, NO foreknowledge this was happening, and we had NO idea of what I am about to detail.

Today's Direct starts out with a hilarious segment from the Wii Fit Trainer as she shows you how to do the infamous "directly" arm motion.  (And a "my body is ready" joke too.)

The Direct was (mostly) all about the Wii Fit U game that is coming out soon.  The main selling point of Wii Fit U is the new Fit Meter.  Think the Pokewalker gadget from Pokemon HeartGold and Pokemon SoulSilver, except that it has a Wii U logo on it and it actually tracks a whole lot more than just your steps.  It calculates exercise intensity, measures changes in altitude (which helps track calorie burn going up and down stairs), and many many many other things.

Then they discuss the Fit Meter and how it is used in great detail, tracking a typical day of an employee of Nintendo Co. Ltd. in Kyoto with actual Fit Meter data.

And then... a bombshell was dropped.  While you COULD go ahead and buy a couple of the bundles (i.e. a Fit Meter bundle, etc.), if you already have a Wii Balance Board, you can actually get the game download for free from the Nintendo eShop come November 1, get a Fit Meter for $20, sync that Fit Meter up with the Wii U GamePad, and get the Wii Fit U game for absolutely no additional charge.  I would not be whatsoever surprised if this gets Wii U sales to go in a general upward direction because Wii Fit was an absolute sales phenomenon when it launched.  Bringing Wii Fit back to try and spur sales of the Wii U is a big deal.

The next thing they talked about is Wii Street U gaining Wii Balance Board compatibility.  Which is cool... I guess.

The final thing is... Wii Sports Club.  It's Wii Sports, the phenomenon that sold more Wiis than anything else in high definition with online (!!!!!) as well as Wii U-specific features like Miiverse coming out November 7th, AND it looks fabulous.  The game also has a very very interesting pricing model: $1.99 for all the available games for 24 hours called the Day Pass and $9.99 per sport, the Club Pass.  I know I'll at least buy Golf, Baseball, and Tennis outright when I do get my Wii U.

As far as my thoughts?  Thank you Nintendo.  The idea of a Wii U becoming a necessary fitness partner for me is now a major possibility that I am definitely going to seize upon.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hyperkin: What's Coming and My Thoughts On What's Next

Today, I want to talk a bit about the retro gaming company, Hyperkin.  Yeah Hyperkin has their hands in modern console accessories to a degree, but their main focus is on retro gaming.  Whether that is old console gaming controllers and accessories, or amazingly cool retro systems like the Supaboy and the RetroN5, they have their hands in a lot of different pies.

So, why am I talking about Hyperkin today?  Well, I want to talk about Hyperkin today because they have come out with some incredible new stuff that will be coming out in the coming months.  They are putting out (no joke) a Pixel Art Controller that looks like a pixellated Super Nintendo controller that plugs into your PC or Mac to play emulated titles (and games that require a halfway good D-pad...) for a mere $20 later this month that Hyperkin has been pushing in the Walmart Get On The Shelf campaign, which is basically Walmart's version of Steam Greenlight, except with even more chaff that must be separated from the wheat.

In addition, the RetroN5 that plays NES, Famicom, Super Nintendo, Super Famicom, Sega Genesis, Sega MegaDrive, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance (whew!) cartridges over HDMI with some really cool new additional extras that were only the domain of emulators before this, and it's coming out for $99.99, with a tentative release date (at least according to Amazon.com) of October 31st.  If that's the case... I think I know how I'll be spending MY Halloween week.

So, after all of this craziness, what's next?  Nobody knows, really, but I want to give the guys at Hyperkin 8 suggestions of what they can do in the retro gaming space that will blow everybody's minds.

1) A universal lightgun that works with a ton of different systems (including PC for emulation purposes) and a ton of different games that works REGARDLESS of what kind of TV or other display you have.  Number 1, it's about time.  Number 2, this could be the way we all get to experience great light gun games like Area 51 and Duck Hunt all over again.

2) A retro console that emulates the N64.  Lots of people want this (especially if you look on Hyperkin's Facebook page), and if Hyperkin gets a license to do this from Nintendo, that could make things very interesting going forward for retro games consoles.

3) A retro console that does the impossible: Brings the Sega CD, the Sega Saturn, the Sega Dreamcast, the Playstation 1, the Turbo CD system, the PC Engine CD (the Japanese equivalent of the Turbo CD), and the Amiga CD32 together in one 90s-tastic CD console.  I'd certainly want to get one of these, as my space is really limited anymore.

4) A Dreamcast VGA adapter that doesn't cost the moon.  Please.  Especially for those (like myself) who are way late to the Dreamcast party.

5) A retro gaming-centric monitor.  It could be combined with not only the RetroN 5, but also the universal lightgun peripheral I mentioned above.  Has potential, certainly.

6) Another huge opportunity in the retro gaming space is to have Hyperkin create flash cartridges like the Everdrives of the world that can put the legally grey ROMs into products like the RetroN5 and have people be able to play them on their TV.  This is much, much more questionable, but if anyone can get those retro console games wrested from the vaults and available for purchase individually or in groups, it's Hyperkin.

7) More portable retro consoles.  I hope Hyperkin eventually gets the Sega license to do a portable Sega Genesis.  You can't possibly do worse than At:Games or even the venerable Sega Nomad...

8) Maybe even retro portable consoles get refabs and rereleases like the Game Boy, the Lynx, the Game Gear, etc.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

As The Steam/GOG Turns #11: The Better Late Than Never Edition, Featuring SuperFrog HD

Welcome back to As The Steam/GOG Turns, the continuing story of two competing digital distribution services that compete for everyone's attention.

Well, this last Music week was fun, wasn't it?  And now that Google+ sharing is now, thankfully, fixed, I am now going to finally be able to focus on my blogging and getting one post out every weekday, and one out every weekend day if I feel like it and/or I need to do a make-good like I have to do today.

So, on to the new releases for this week!  This week there are some really interesting new releases, and some I think I've covered before.  Some dual releases, and some that are exclusive to each as usual.

First, let's talk dual releases.  First up: Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is finally available for your PewdiePie-imitating glory enjoyment.

And the second and final dual release this week is Volgarr the Viking from Adult Swim.  Do you enjoy old games for their rock hard difficulty?  Do you find enjoyment out of games that eat you up for breakfast and that you can never really beat?  Well, Volgarr the Viking is just what the doctor ordered!  Basically, think a modern Ghosts 'N' Goblins, except that all deaths aren't the fault of the game, they're your fault.  Nice going.  $10 for the first week is pretty good in my opinion.

Now let's talk Steam-only releases.  Of course a LOT of things release on Steam, like DLC, Early Access games, software, etc., but I am only going to talk about full games this week.

First up is the full release (finally) of King of Fighters XIII: Steam Edition!  For anyone (like myself) who wants more fighters to come to PC, this is a major major deal.  The only problem is that people think that two year old console games coming to PC should cost no less than $30!  That, in my opinion, is too much dough, and that is going on my "I'll wait for the Winter Steam Sale unless I happen upon $60 to buy both this and Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition on Steam" list.

Next is the Steam release of something GOG users have enjoyed for awhile (and oddly enough Night Dive was responsible for this as well), the release of Wizardry 6, 7, and 8!  $20 for the whole trilogy of games on Steam, $16 on GOG.  If you are price-conscious, you know what to do.  And I can't wait to see Wizardry 1-5 be made available myself.

Next is Legend of Dungeon, a retro 8-bit style roguelike (there've been an absolute ton of these of recent) that is basically a roguelike with Legend of Zelda elements.  $10 isn't too bad for this, so if you want this, you know what to do.

And finally in the Steam-only releases this week is a retro classic reborn from the twisted, twisted minds of the venerable Team17, SuperFrog HD!  For those who don't know, SuperFrog was a very challenging platformer that was most famous amongst Amiga-heads (mainly because the Amiga version was heads and shoulders above everything else) that featured a simple prince who had been turned into a frog and would become SuperFrog with a brown bottle, I believe it was of Newcastle Brown Ale if I remember the original SuperFrog's "making-of" from Retro Gamer Magazine out in the UK properly.  Only a mere $10 for this one folks, a no-brainer for anyone who liked SuperFrog!

And now, the GOG-only releases for this week.  First up is a brand new game from the brilliant mind behind Gabriel Knight, Jane Jensen: Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller.  You play Erica Reed, a woman who solves crimes via cognition while at crime scenes.  This is the very first episodic game on GOG that hasn't had all the season's episodes available at the start, which beckons a brave new world.

Next is a legendary point-&-click game that hasn't ever been made available for digital purchase before now: Legend of Kyrandia, Book 1.  From the legendary Westwood Studios comes a forgotten gem that has never been made available... before now.  $6 gets you this one, and I think it's a winner.

The final GOG-only release this week (and the final release this week) is actually (gasp) a freebie!!  Stargunner from Apogee and 3D Realms is an old-school Gradius-style shmup.  If you like Gradius, you're more than likely going to like this.  Get it.  It's free of charge.  You have absolutely NO excuse, so get it into your GOG library NOW.

So, that does it for this week.  And until next time, the Steam/GOG conflict ever turns...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Mohu: What They've Done and What's Next

I have to say, I really enjoy Mohu's antenna designs.  I've never owned one myself, but I really love seeing their designs.  These designs were originally created for military applications, because Mohu is a division of Greenwave Scientific, one of the companies that have made antennas for the military, and they decided after they

Mohu's designs are low-profile without being insanely so, and their range is pretty good without having to fiddle with it once it is installed.  I have a terrible RadioShack antenna now that I have to continually fiddle with, and an antenna that I don't have to fiddle with looks very good to me at the moment.

Of course, they have a standard antenna, the Mohu Leaf, their amplified version, the Leaf Ultimate, and then they have one that works in your attic or outdoors called the Mohu Sky.  The Leaf has a 35 mile range, the Leaf Ultimate has a 50 mile range, and the Sky has a 60 mile range.  And that's just their antennas!   They also sell a separate amplifier called the Jolt, they sell an antenna stand for the Leaf so you can put it on the back of your HDTV (for those of you who mount your TVs on the wall), and several lengths of high performance coaxial cables (10 and 25 ft respectively).  So they've got a serious amount of cool stuff, right?

Yeah, but one majorly cool thing I almost forgot to tell you about is their TV For Free tool.  What you do is you go to their website, gomohu.com, and you type in either your zipcode or the address at which you would like to get free HDTV signals at and it will tell you not only the channels each of the Mohu antenna products will pick up, but also the channel name (i.e. ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS, etc.) and the callsign.  Some people (like myself, living out in the woods like a hermit) will have problematic terrain between them and their TV towers, but if you live in a relatively problem-free area you shouldn't have any problems picking up free HDTV signals where you are.

And they've been teasing something new on their Facebook and Twitter pages as well.  The images so far are, in order:
1) A stock photo of a hydropower dam.
2) A ring of ribbon.
3) The bottom half of a clam shell.

I have literally no idea what they are teasing.  I did send them a message and suggested a TV on PC solution in desperation because frankly, all of the ones out there right now either are garbage or they are unbelievably deprecated with nary a new update in years (*cough* Elgato's EyeTV software *cough*).

As far as what they are teasing, my guess is if it is another antenna, it'll be named after a natural occurrence because that is what they use as their nomenclature for their antenna products.  If it isn't?  Well, anything goes, because they always tend to be really good at shocking and surprising people.  But I think one niche that could be filled is having the cord-cutter equivalent of a "cable box".  Perhaps that's it, who knows.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Music Week: Pat Benatar

For the conclusion of Music Week, Pat Benatar is the perfect way to end off the week.  I love her voice, and she is one of the many amazing trailblazers for women in rock and roll.

I have to say though, it is kind of cool to listen to my iTunes library and realize that some of my all-time favorite artists are either women fronting a rock-&-roll group (like Heart), or women artists like Pat Benatar.

I'd heard Pat Benatar's material on the radio and enjoyed it, but it wasn't till either my freshman or sophomore year of high school that my English teacher, Mrs. Westmore, introduced me to some of her deeper cuts.  And I absolutely adored the ones I got to listen to like Sex as a Weapon, I Need A Lover (which was a John Cougar Mellancamp cover, oddly enough), and Heartbreaker.

And of course, I cannot get out without mentioning the song Love is a Battlefield, one of my all-time favorite songs from Pat Benatar, and also one of the stranger music videos.  I have to wonder how the video was made.  And I certainly do not think it was shot in New York City, where the video was set.  My theory is that it was shot in Cleveland, Ohio, a place where I have spent a lot of time over the years to see my stepmother's family (and where Neil Giraldo grew up, strangely enough).  The house Pat Benatar's character gets kicked out of is definitely in Cleveland architecturally, and I visited almost that exact house to visit my stepmom's sister practically every Christmas until she moved out to move closer to my stepmom's father's house so she could keep an eye on him as he gets older.

So, what are my favorites of Pat Benatar's catalog?  Love Is A Battlefield, We Belong, Invincible, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Shadows of the Night, Heartbreaker, I Need A Lover (the aforementioned John Cougar Mellancamp cover), We Live For Love, Promises in the Dark, and Helter Skelter (a Beatles cover).  That could comprise a greatest hits compilation all on its own.  You're welcome, Pat Benatar.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Music Week: Mary Chapin Carpenter & Bonnie Tyler

I know that many of you are going "What?  Why?" with some of my choices for this week.  I have always, always, always been drawn to strong female artists, and Mary Chapin Carpenter and Bonnie Tyler (my two-for-one today) are no exceptions.

First I want to talk about Mary Chapin Carpenter.  I happen to love most of her songs, and was introduced to this woman's fabulous music at a time when I needed music desperately.  My entire world was crumbling around me, and this was right after my parents divorced.  Now, I know that it makes no sense, especially since people divorce all the time nowadays, but to a young child like I was at the time of my parents' divorce, I was disoriented, and had no clue what was going on, and wouldn't until I was much older.  In my opinion, children suffer the most in any divorce, no matter if the divorce is between two civilians or two celebrities, and I was no different.

Mary Chapin Carpenter's music came at a really difficult juncture and just washed over me and soothed me.  Some of my all-time favorites are Quittin' Time (from State of the Heart), Down At The Twist & Shout (from Shooting Straight in the Dark), the entirety of the album Come On Come On, and On With The Song (from The Calling).

I love MCC's music and while a lot of people thought she was crazy to turn away from country music, I think she's perfectly crazy for me.  Besides, she has taken a different tack in country music.  I still think of her as a country artist.  I have a very clear disdain for country songs that are just tacky, honky-tonk rip-roaring songs, and the subtlety of country music is something that Mary Chapin Carpenter embodies perfectly.  Subtlety is the king of country music in my opinion, and Mary Chapin Carpenter does this beautifully.

Now, for the other artist I am featuring: Bonnie Tyler.  She has a POWERFUL voice that makes my hair stand on end every time I hear a song of hers.  Some of my favorites of hers are: Total Eclipse of the Heart, Holding Out For A Hero, and her cover of Air Supply's Making Love out of Nothing At All.  And I just realized something as I typed this: All three of those songs were either written or co-written by Jim Steinman, the mastermind behind the Meat Loaf classic (and now M&Ms commercial breakout hit) I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That).  That's incredible.  Now I'll probably go find some of her... deeper cuts.

Music Week: Jimmy Buffett

Here's the thing: I'm a lifelong Parrothead (i.e. what Jimmy Buffett fans call themselves).  I went to Jimmy Buffett concerts before I was one year old (and somehow was one of the only things that didn't get soaked to the bone that night), and I have listened to just about every Jimmy Buffett song several times over (and know almost all the words).

So, I must say I appreciate how much Jimmy Buffett and the island sound he introduced to me as a young'un totally got into my soul.

And what are some of my favorite Jimmy Buffett songs?  Well, I'll put a few of them below but that only scratches the surface.

  • Tin Cup Chalice (from A1A): A song Jimmy wrote about seeing the sunset in Key West.  I truly do want to be there and see the sunset in Key West at least once in my lifetime.
  • Jamaica Mistaica (from Banana Wind): It's a song based on a real-life situation in Jamaica.  It also involves the U2 lead singer, Bono, and it was a very unfortunate misunderstanding, but Jimmy got a fabulous song out of it, so it's a win-win.
  • Barometer Soup (from Barometer Soup): I could have picked any of the songs from this album to feature here, but the title track from 1995's Barometer Soup is really, really good.
  • Surfing in a Hurricane (from Buffet Hotel): This outstanding track from what was largely a so-so album is one of those songs that you wish Jimmy had put out earlier in his career because it is just quintessentially Jimmy Buffett.
  • Banana Republics (from Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes): In real life, Jimmy Buffett and Steve Goodman (the guy who wrote this song) were really good friends before Steve left us back in 1984.  This is one of the top 5 songs Steve Goodman ever wrote, and this one is awesome.  Heck, they've even named a whole set of retail stores after this song title!
  • Havana Daydreamin' (from Havana Daydreamin'): The title track from Havana Daydreamin' is probably one of my all-time favorite songs, ever and featuring this song, while it is one of those songs everyone talks about constantly, it is really a good song and all the talk is justified.
  • Jolly Mon Sing (from Last Mango In Paris): I included this because I had the children's book he wrote with his daughter, Savannah Jane Buffett, called The Jolly Mon, as a child and I still know all the words to that song as a result.  I still do have it around someplace...
  • The Wino & I Know (from Living and Dying in 3/4 Time): One of the early classics is this song.  I love the fact that this talks about homelessness, which is still a problem, even now, but this one is just incredible.
  • Boomerang Love (from Off to See The Lizard): This is another one of my childhood favorites.  I cannot explain why I love this song so much... I guess it's a "boomerang, boomerang, boomerang love".
  • Stars on the Water (from One Particular Harbour): While this is a Rodney Crowell cover, I really like the nuances that Jimmy gives this particular song.  And while I could feature the title track on this one as well, I figured I'd give a lesser-known "deep track" the feature treatment from this album.
  • Come To The Moon (from Riddles in the Sand): Another "deep track" and while it is a science fiction-infused track, I wonder who it is from the perspective of.  He makes mentions of starships, but he doesn't make mention of any other Star Trek references.
  • MaƱana (from Son of a Son of a Sailor): One of my favorites because... well I can't explain it.
  • Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On (from Take The Weather With You): Another fair-to-middling album, another standout track.  This spoke to me deeply.  It wasn't just because of Hurricane Katrina, which had hit the previous year and had totally messed everything up.  It's the timing of when Hurricane Katrina hit for me that makes it super somber and makes me a lot more respectful and I dare not forget it: That was right about the time I had to go down to Florida for one last time to see my paternal grandmother before she died.  I still feel a sense of loss, even though I wasn't nearly as close to her as I was to my maternal grandmother (who had passed away a couple of years prior).  So, every time I hear that song I always sing along, and I remember to breathe in, breathe out, and move on.  No matter what happens, breathe in, breathe out, move on.
  • Boat Drinks (from Volcano): The only well-known song where Jimmy makes a blatant Star Trek reference: "I'd like to go where the pace of life's slow/Could you beam me somewhere Mr. Scott?/Any old place here on Earth or in space/You pick the century and I'll pick the spot".  I love that portion of that song very specifically.
  • He Went To Paris (from A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean): Jimmy hadn't really made a splash when he wrote this song for his third album but his third album, A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean, totally hit some kind of nerve and it is one of his stronger early albums.  I love this song because while there are some sad portions, it makes a point that life is worth living, because life is too short.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Music Week: Roxette

This Music Week thing is turning out to be really cool.  I am going to get to talk about the artists I enjoy and be able to showcase my appreciation for them.

Today I am going to talk about the one and only Roxette.  It's a Swedish pop rock duo consisting of Per Gessle (of Gyllene Tider, another Swedish pop group) and Marie Fredriksson that came into full prominence in the 1980s and has barely left since (though they were dormant for a little bit in the early 2000s because Marie was battling some really nasty health issues).

Now, here's the most interesting thing: They are practically an anomaly here in the US.  You typically don't know Roxette if I told you the artist, but if I mentioned songs like The Look, Listen To Your Heart, and It Must Have Been Love, you would go "Oh, okay!"  So, yeah, it's practically an anomaly here in the US.

So, what do I think?  And how did I hear of this wacky group in the first place?  First, I do want to give some background on this.  Here in the States, we used to have a boatload of places that sold actual music on something called a compact disc, or CD for short.  Now this was back in about 2000 or 2001.  I was in a Best Buy, and I think it was like right after Christmas because I specifically remember I had Best Buy money to spend at that point, and I always looked at the CDs.

I specifically remember having listened to Roxette songs before (I think I'd heard the three songs mentioned above), and I saw the Roxette Greatest Hits CD (subtitled Don't Bore Us, Just Get To The Chorus) CD.  Well, I obviously got it, played it to death, and loved every second of it.  So, the Roxette bug bit me right about the time I became a teenager, and while good music has always spoken to me, this just grabbed me and wouldn't let go for anything.  So yeah, I enjoyed them from the very first notes I heard.

This of course is one of my all-time favorite groups and I cannot overstate my appreciation enough.  I think their songs are, to use an 80s terminology that is totally out of date, RAD.  Even wilder, I have gotten to appreciate some of their deeper tracks such as "Wish I Could Fly" and "Almost Unreal". Almost Unreal has a weird, almost bizarre history to it.  It was originally written for Bette Midler's movie "Hocus Pocus", but the song wasn't used in that movie.  Then, a bit later, the infamous Super Mario Bros. movie came out and this song was on the soundtrack for that movie.  It's a fabulous song, but it is horribly out of place in the Super Mario Bros. movie unless you retcon Magikoopas into that dog of a picture.

One song that I really do appreciate is called "Stars".  It has a really nice techno beat to it, and it has a lot of really neat elements, such as a children's choir backing up Marie in places, and just every ounce of that song is just incredible.  (In fact I was expecting that to have a spot in the last Tron movie, it's that good and would fit in that well into the Tron universe.)  So, in conclusion, go find some of Roxette's music.  You won't regret it.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Music Week: Linda Ronstadt: An Appreciation

Today is September 9th.  It has apparently been dubbed by the Linda Ronstadt camp as Linda Ronstadt Appreciation Day.  It cannot come a moment too soon for my liking.

Why is this, you might ask?  Because almost no one could sing the absolute hell out of a Motown song like "Hurt So Bad" and make you totally feel it like Linda Ronstadt could.  She could sing "When I Grow Too Old To Dream" with Kermit the Frog one moment, and sing "Don't Know Much" with Aaron Neville the next and still have one of my all-time favorite singing voices.

My first exposure to Linda Ronstadt was on the album Cry Like A Rainstorm, Howl Like The Wind.  This was the album where she basically alternated duets with the aforementioned Aaron Neville and her own material.  I still get chills every time I hear the range of her talents on this album.

Then a few years later I heard Greatest Hits volume 1 with her early stuff.  I happen to be a huge fan of "Different Drum" because while this is an early Ronstadt classic, it was with the rather unfortunately short-lived Stone Poneys and probably would've been truly fabulous to hear as a Ronstadt solo track to see what she could've done with it with the people she surrounded herself with throughout her career.  I don't know if we'll ever find the answer to whether that could be done but hey, I'll be happy with Different Drum as-is.

Then I discovered her appearance on The Muppet Show, where she sang Blue Bayou (one of my favorites, and another song she just hits right outta the park and blows the original version by the late great Roy Orbison out of the water) and the aforementioned "When I Grow Too Old To Dream".  This version (and this song in particular) cemented my admiration of this woman's incredible talent.

But here's the thing: She doesn't make music anymore.  And apparently it came out a couple of weeks ago that she has Parkinson's Disease and cannot sing a note.  That, frankly, hurts.  I love what gifts she did give the world, and I wish Ms. Ronstadt all the best.  Parkinson's is a pain in the butt but I am appreciative of the gifts that you did give, Ms. Ronstadt.  And my sincere hope is, on Linda Ronstadt Appreciation Day, that you see so many people like myself showing their profound appreciation of your manifold gifts that you've given us over the years.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Update: Music Week is ALL THIS WEEK!

I have come to a decision.  Because this week is the Apple Event that Brightens Everyone's Day, I am terming this week to be Music Week.  I'll still do my normal wrapups as usual, but Music Week will be the predominant force this week.  It starts 11am EST Monday Morning (that's US East Coast time for those not in the know) with a post about Linda Ronstadt on what is being dubbed Linda Ronstadt Appreciation Day and will continue till Friday.  Same Bat time, same Bat channel.  I'll tag each one as it arrives in the title.

Friday, September 6, 2013

This Week On Steam/GOG # 10: Castle of Illusion and the Newest Night Dive Miracle

Welcome back to As The Steam/GOG Turns, the continuing story of two competing digital distribution services that compete for everyone's attention.

It's a light week for dual releases this week, folks.  Steam has some, and GOG has a biggie and an indie title in the wings.  First, we'll talk Steam.

The first release I'm featuring this week is Disney and SEGA's collaboration, Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, the new 3D remake of the classic Sega Genesis / Mega Drive game.  I have, like, no experience with the original so I will cede to others who have to let me know if this is worth picking up.

Next is Total War: Rome II, the newest Total War game from SEGA.  This one apparently had its fair share of day one / launch week issues, so I'd recommend staying far away from this one until the issues are fixed (or it goes on steep Steam sale, one or the other).

The final release I'm featuring this week (and no I'm not featuring the horror game Outlast) is Paranautical Activity, a classic Doom-like FPS mashed up with modern-day roguelike elements.  It's in "Steam Early Access" now, so if you were interested before, this is the time.

And now on to GOG.com's releases this week.

We thought the next Night Dive Miracle would be available on Tuesday (given the level of the teasing by Night Dive themselves) but we got a game called Megabyte Punch instead.  It's a side-scrolling beat-em-up.  If you love these games, you buy it.  If not, there's always Baldur's Gate.

The newest Night Dive Miracle finally did surface on Thursday.  What is this game, you may ask?  The Harlan Ellison sci-fi horror classic point-&-clicker "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream".  They only want $5.99 for this one folks, guess Harlan Ellison stopped counting his royalty checks long enough to find out people wanted this one.  This one's a no-brainer at that price if you like sci-fi horror.  If you're like me however, and don't necessarily like sci-fi horror but have been curious about the game, I'd wait till it was on sale for 50% or more off list.

So, that does it for this week.  And until next time, the Steam/GOG conflict ever turns...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wrapping Up Nintendo #3: Holy Kanto Starters, Batman!

Oy vey. I get up early for a 20-minute presentation from Nintendo.  Nice going, you guys.

Anyways, let's get to all the nutty craziness wrought by the Pokemon Direct this morning.

First, Iwata-san was joined by two of his colleagues from The Pokemon Company and they talked about the history of the Pokemon franchise up until now.  That was a nice refresher course for me, and reminded me that I liked Ruby and Sapphire alot.

Then they talked connectivity and revealed something called Pokemon Bank, a brand new cloud-based Pokemon storage system that is FULLY COMPATIBLE with future titles (hmm... was that a subtle hint about Ruby and Sapphire remakes for 3DS?), but is going to cost an annual fee.  That's not too bad, I know a lot of Pokemon fans (myself included) would more than likely pay that annual fee to help Nintendo keep this up.

And then they talked about bringing Pokemon from Black, White, Black 2, and White 2 to the new one via a separate app, which is interesting to say the least.

And then they got into the game.  The initial starters for X & Y (Froakie, Fennekin, and Chespin) will be given to you by your friend, NOT the Pokemon Professor like in past games.  What the Pokemon Professor for the Kalos Region WILL give you starters-wise, however, are three starters that will sound familiar if you have played ANY previous Pokemon games: Charmander, Bulbasaur, or Squirtle.  Yes, the ORIGINAL Generation 1 starters will ALL be given to you in the game.  Even better?  Their final form (Charizard, Venusaur, and Blastoise) will ALL have Mega Evolutions. YEE HAA! That is going to make my choice of the Kanto starters almost too difficult.  Almost.

And then we got very little else in terms of details (as the presentation was a mere 20 minutes), except for new Pokemon X & Y 3DS XL units coming to North America and Europe... that won't be bundled with the games because they're coming out September 27th.  Say what?

Anyways that is the end of the wrapup, but before I go, I need to give you my thoughts on how this one was presented because they tried something a little bit different.  Unfortunately, I thought this one was terribly presented.  It really should have had subtitles on the video instead.  I didn't like the way this was presented at all and I would've rather had a Nintendo Direct with subtitles like the Animal Crossing Direct that Europe got but us Americans did not.  Nintendo, please try not to do this in the future.  It didn't play all that well with many of us English speakers.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Waiting For Apple #1: This should brighten everyone's day

...Which are the words from this Apple event invitation:



Well... the image is certainly colorful.  Certainly denotes that something Apple's releasing is going to have a ton of colors.  Could also denote some photography improvements in upcoming iPhones.  So, on to predictions!

iPhone:

  • iPhone 5S (continuing the S on the end of numbers of iPhone iterations for significant improvements in speed, etc.) seems extremely likely.
  • iPhone 5C (we WERE thinking the C in 5C stood for "Cheaper"... but now I think it stands for "Colors")
  • We'll more than likely see iOS 7 fully released on the iPhone at the very least.  I can NOT wait to see what is going to happen.  And I am very excited to get to play with iOS 7 in full very, very soon.

iPad:

  • iPad with Retina Display: It is certainly possible that Apple will throw in an iPad surprise announcement next week, but I think an October event seems more likely.
  • iPad mini: Same as above, but add a Retina display and drop the price to $299.  Apple needs it desperately.
  • iOS 7 on iPad: Unless a miracle happens, I don't foresee a iOS 7 simultaneous release on both iPhone and iPad.

Mac:

  • New Mac Pro: Always a possibility, but I cannot be certain that it'll happen next week as well.
  • New MacBook Pros with Retina Displays seem almost absurdly likely in time for the holiday buying season, but I don't foresee them talking about and/or releasing these next week either.
  • AirPort Express with 802.11ac support: Seems likely, and if the price is right I'll probably pick one up for the improved Net speeds on my possible upcoming Christmas gifts.
  • Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks: I hope they talk it up and release it same day because I want to be able to read iBooks and iBooks Author books on my Mac, but I do not believe this is very likely either.

Software and Other:

  • iWork for Mac and iOS is fairly likely to see a total revamp.  Thank God for that too, it's getting extremely long in the tooth. Of course, Microsoft keeps getting away with keeping Office nearly the same and selling a 'year' version for $200+ without ever coming up with iOS / Android versions, so who knows.
  • An Apple version of the Dick Tracy smartwatch, called "iWatch" by those in the press and/or rumor mill, seems likely but it may be October before we see that.
  • And we can't forget about Apple's take on TV.  I hope it comes or is at least previewed next week because September is the traditional Apple "Music / Media Event" month.
  • Finally, we have the venerable iPods.  My pure guess is that this will finally be the year we see the demise of the iPod Classic, and the other iPods as well.  They're barely even registering on Apple's radar, so I don't see Apple really doing much of anything.  Maybe keeping the iPod touch around at a $149 price point is a good idea but they might just thin the line to only having 1 iPod, or they can put any iPad at all at $199.  That would be super cool to see and would pretty much deemphasize the need for an iPod touch at all so maybe we will see that.  WHo knows, really.  These are just my predictions for next week.

Waiting For Apple #0: Intro

Yes, it's time for Waiting for Apple!!  Next week, September 10th, is what is currently slated as Apple's only event this fall, but my guess is there'll be another.  But, what do I know?  So, watch this space for another Waiting For Apple post with my predictions for next week.

Waiting for Nintendo #2: Gotta Catch 'Em All

POKEMON!  Ah, sweet memories of watching the Pokemon cartoon...

Anyways, sorry, I am talking about the upcoming Pokemon Direct tomorrow because... yeah... they are going to do a global Nintendo Direct tomorrow ALL about Pokemon X and Pokemon Y which will have lots of Pokemon X & Y news.  Thank heavens.

Now, what do I think is going to happen tomorrow?  Here's my top 5 most likely Pokemon announcements for tomorrow:

5) Information about a new Pokemon Wii U game along the lines of Colosseum!  I put this at number 5 because I don't think this is nearly as likely as the remainder.  The problem I see is, what will be compatible?  And are there 3DS Virtual Console releases that would be compatible with the game also?  Speaking of...

4) Information about prior Pokemon games FINALLY hitting the Nintendo eShop!  Virtual Console for Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow, Silver/Gold/Crystal, possibly Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald (although I suspect they'll get their own eShop releases as a remake...), and then the eShop proper will finally carry DS games like the last few Pokemon games, even though I think they're pretty much the weakest of the entire lot.  I at least enjoyed the games prior to their DS incarnations, but all enjoyment of the Generation V Pokemon games that weren't remakes (Black, White, Black 2, and White 2) just evaporated for me.  So, because Pokemon X and Pokemon Y are coming out, AND because they look to be a much-needed kick in the pants for the Pokemon franchise, I am extremely excited for Pokemon X and Pokemon Y, but I am going to keep my expectations quite low.

3) More information about the Fairy type!  More specifically, we know the Fairy type exists, but we have no idea which ones of the current crop of 649 Pokemon are getting reclassed to the Fairy type, nor the Fairy Type's type weakness (because for balance purposes there HAS to be at least some type weakness, right?).  We already know that Sylveon is of the Fairy type, but in the E3 trailer we also saw Jigglypuff as a Fairy type (don't know if it'll be Normal / Fairy or just Fairy type at the moment), and we also saw Marill, a Water type now, as a Fairy type (Marill is more than likely a Fairy/Water dual type), and Gardevoir is also a Fairy type (more than likely a Grass/Fairy dual type).  Who else will get a Fairy typing or dual typing?  More than likely Clefairy is getting a Fairy type reclass at the very least, and probably Clefable, and more than likely we'll see Igglybuff, Cleffa, Clefable, and Wigglytuff as Fairy types as well.

2) More Pokemon receiving Mega Evolutions!  Mega Evolutions, in case you've been living under a rock, are new evolutions of both Pokemon without an evolution (like Dunsparce) and final evolutions of Pokemon (like Ampharos, which is getting a Mega Evolution already).  I can't wait to see more about Mega Evolutions, because this is already so cool.

1) More Pokemon X & Y hardware bundle news!  There's really been no news of the Pokemon X and Pokemon Y bundles yet, so that might be what we get tomorrow.  With the recent announcement of the Nintendo 2DS that will release the exact same day as Pokemon, I would be seriously surprised if Nintendo didn't totally take full advantage and came out with 2DS bundles for both Pokemon X and Pokemon Y (X being the blue 2DS bundle, and Y being the red 2DS bundle) for either $129.99 (and since Nintendo is adding same-priced hardware bundles like with the Wind Waker bundle, this would not be entirely unprecedented) or $149.99.  Plus they'll probably release a 3DS bundle AND a 3DS XL bundle.  This is going to get fun.

So, tomorrow we'll get another Wrapping Up Nintendo!  Fun, eh?  Watch this space!

I Have Seen The Future of Television...

... And it is livestreamed.  For free in most instances.  Over the Internet.

At the time I am writing this (to set it up for when this DOES post), I just finished watching something that has major implications for the future of television: The Comedy Central Roast of James Franco.  And no, I don't mean jokes that are more tasteless than mystery meat in your school cafeteria.  You expect that from a Comedy Central roast.  No, I am talking about how this portends great things for the future of television on the Internet.

What is this glorious future, you may ask?  Well, I am glad you asked.  I envision a future where I don't have browser plugins written by entities named Adobe that decide at extremely inopportune moments to die horribly.  I envision a future where Apple and Google are like Internet cable service providers that give EVERYONE a fair shake on cool things like WatchESPN, HBO Go, and television in general.  I envision a future that has iTunes (or Google Play if you're on Android) as the backbone for a glorious television viewing experience that allows for everyone, whether you have already cut the cable cord or not, to have exactly the same television viewing experience, on whatever devices you own, no questions asked.

The livestream of the Franco Roast was actually, surprisingly, largely stable for the amount of people that (probably) live streamed it.  And the ad experience DIDN'T suck for once!  I thought the ads they did choose were (largely) in good taste, and the fact that they didn't inundate you with really shifty products by screaming at you was also a nice change.  Yeah okay you have to cater to the Comedy Central target market, but they actually chose ads that were in mostly good taste, and they didn't offend my intelligence with all that many of them (which for them is an act of God in most ordinary circumstances).  I didn't find all that many of them to be all that FUNNY, but my sense of humor is... a tad bit more refined than the average sense of humor of Comedy Central's target market.  Kudos to Comedy Central for sticking the landing though.

So... if you saw the #FrancoRoast online, what did you think?  Was it as good as I thought it was as far as the future of television is concerned?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Internet fame: Fleeting as ever

Yes, I am going to talk about something that gained me some measure of Internet fame, as fleeting as it may be.

But before I do, I gotta explain how this crazy thing came to be.

I've spoken on this blog before about Night Dive Studios, the people who untangled the rights mess to System Shock 2, the precursor to the BioShock series of games, so that it was digitally rereleased earlier this year.  And since then, there hasn't been much of a peep from them.  But I follow them on Twitter and Facebook and they've been flaunting hints of the LucasArts games, and I asked them (back in June no less):
Is your constant discussion of LucasArts, both on here & Facebook, indicative of something that we will see the fruits of?
They replied:
We're hoping for it as much as everyone else, that's all we can say at the moment!
I wasn't expecting to be "Internet famous" for this, not in the slightest.  I didn't even think it'd get mentioned anywhere.

So, yesterday I went on the GOG forum as one does when one is horribly excited for an upcoming Night Dive reveal, and I saw a link to this article on the famed LucasArts fansite The International House of Mojo.  The International House of Mojo, for those of you who do not know, is a long-running LucasArts fansite that has been online since 1997, very nearly the dawn of the civilized Internet.  They got their name from the Voodoo Lady's business in the second Monkey Island game, subtitled LeChuck's Revenge.  They follow a lot of LucasArts happenings (which isn't a lot since Disney shut it down), along with the happenings of Telltale Games, Double Fine, and Autumn Moon Entertainment, all companies that were started by people who left LucasArts.

But to be mentioned on The International House of Mojo as a longtime LucasArts fan who loves the site and loves LucasArts games in general?  That is, to use some colorful language, my "holy shit" moment.  That was the moment I knew I'd "made it" in this whole Net thing somehow.  It might not get me a ton of cash, but man oh man I am so excited about this.  I'm not usually so verbose about stuff like this unless I am super excited.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Wrapping Up Nintendo Special Edition: The Crazy Announcement Week

Welcome to a very special edition of Wrapping Up Nintendo.  This time, it's not a Nintendo Direct I'm wrapping up, but actually a serious tsunami of Nintendo goodness.  I'll give you all my thoughts on ALL the crazy news.

First, is the most ridiculous bit of news: A 3DS without the 3D slider at all (and without the flimsy hinge) that is called Nintendo 2DS. I can already see confusion amongst parents, BUT if Nintendo markets it right, it will become a surprise hit.  I figured Nintendo would do something like this sometime, but to put it out for $129 on the same day as Pokemon X and Pokemon Y was actually a stroke of genius.  The design's really cool (almost like a 7-inch Nintendo tablet of sorts), and I love the fact there is not a flimsy hinge that'd break the first time you looked at it funny.  I even like the specially made case, except I think that's sort of stupid of Nintendo not to include it with the device itself.  But hey, an extra $13 or so isn't THAT bad.  It could be worse, Nintendo could've seen fit to charge $30 for it.

Second is the long-awaited Wii U price cut!!   $300 for the Wii U Deluxe as of September 20th, plus a Wind Waker HD bundle!!  Should've been that way all along, with no basic version to speak of.  I know certain folks would've wanted the white one but I don't think they should have paid the same price for the Wii U Basic as the Wii U Deluxe will be priced at come September 20th.

Third, and last for today, is all the crazy release news bits.

First, first party Wii U game releases that were dated this week:

  • Zelda: The Wind Waker HD will be available digitally September 20th (same day as the Zelda Wind Waker HD bundle), and physically on October 4th with a Ganondorf figure only at GameStop, all priced at $50.
  • Wii U Party drops October 25th with a Wii Remote Plus bundled in for $50.  Good going, Nintendo.
  • Super Mario 3D World drops November 22nd for $60, which is a red letter day for all Nintendo fans' wallets apparently.
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze drops December 6th for $50.  (FYI, it's St. Nicholas Day for those who celebrate it, whether in Germany or elsewhere.)
Next, first party Wii U games that were NOT dated this week but are still slated for this holiday:
  • Wii Fit U is still slated for a holiday launch.  Here's hoping it comes soon because I have gone ahead and asked for a Wii U for Christmas.  Yeah yeah I know it's too early to think about Christmas, but I mean come on, it's not like we haven't all thought about that.
  • Mario and Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games is also slated to launch this holiday but they have not given a specific date yet.  I won't watch the Olympics this time I don't think, I'll be happier playing this video game instead. :)
And finally, the 2 3DS/2DS game releases that were dated this week:
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds - Comes out November 22nd for $40.
  • Mario Party: Island Tour comes out November 22nd as well for $40.
I'm so glad to get this out of the way.  I'm so glad that this happened, even without a Direct, and now we'll probably get another Direct closer to the release of Pokemon X & Y detailing more stuff.  I can't wait!

As The Steam/GOG Turns #9: "Kimberly, come in, are you okay?" (plus The Chaos Engine and much more)

Welcome back to As The Steam/GOG Turns, the continuing story of two competing digital distribution services that compete for everyone's attention.

This week's releases are ... interesting to say the very least.  Some older games being rereleased, some newer games that made it onto GOG a little bit later, and more!

So, let's start with Steam-only releases.  Of course they always tend to release a ton of stuff onto Steam, except when there's a Steam sale, but this week I want to highlight a few releases.

First I want to highlight the game which I've quoted in the title, which is now on Steam: Space Ace, the Don Bluth / Gary Goldman laserdisc game in the same vein as Dragon's Lair is now available on Steam.  I don't know if this has the nasty blue flashing from more recent ports of the game, so I would steer clear of it for now until it's certified to be reasonably arcade-accurate.

Next is an Early Access title, but I think I'm going to at least have a reasonable amount of interest in this because it's basically based on The Incredible Machine, and that is called Contraption Maker.  I've definitely got some interest in this one so keep an eye out for this one.

Next is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out of the Shadows, the first TMNT game released by Activision (who now has the TMNT license... it is SO weird for me to write that, since Konami has been synonymous with the Turtles for a long time...).  Some people are saying this one's bad so I would  steer clear of it for now, at least until TotalBiscuit or someone does a first impressions-type video that should help with the buying decision.

The final game I want to feature that is Steam-only this week is the full release of Game Dev Tycoon, which I mentioned last week as a pre-purchase.  I can't wait to give it a play, I don't know about you guys.

Next is GOG's GOG-only releases, which are a touch sparse once again this week.  

First up is Wing Commander Academy, another Wing Commander game!  Hooray!

Second is a rerelease because I guess the rights worked out and they've returned Dark Fall 1 & 2 to the GOG store.  If you like horror games, go for it, but since I do not...

Last in the GOG-only releases this week is a 2-for-1.  If you've kept up with this column, you know about the fact that Tales From Space Mutant Blobs Attack and Guacamelee! Gold Edition were released on Steam awhile back, and now they are both on GOG.  Nice going, guys!  Glad that this worked out as well as it did.

And finally we have the dual releases on both Steam and GOG.  There are three this week, so proceed accordingly depending on which one you support.

First is Shelter, an animal life simulator game that puts you in the paws of a mother badger.  This one's interesting enough that I might pick it up on sale.

Second is the pre-purchase of the new Shadow Warrior.  GOG's selling the new one alongside the classic one but since I already have the classic one, the point is moot and I'll wait a tad till it goes on major sale.

Last, but by no means least, is the remake / rerelease of the Bitmap Brothers classic The Chaos Engine.  There are a few tweaks BUT you can play the original Amiga version.  So, if you loved The Chaos Engine back in the day on your Amiga, or were always curious about The Chaos Engine, this is the perfect release for you.

So, that does it for this week.  And until next time, the Steam/GOG conflict ever turns...

Night Dive's New Tease: Is The LucasArts Catalog Returning?

Night Dive Studios, the ones who brought System Shock 2 back from the brink, are now teasing a brand new announcement for Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013.  My guess is this is going to be yet another date that shall live in infamy for all of us who love classic games, just like February 14th, 2013 was (which was the day on which System Shock 2 was rereleased).

Now what do I think is going to happen?  I know it's more than likely NOT their original game that they're making, they wouldn't be teasing something like this unless it was a classic property, or even a classic library, that they were putting out releases of.

I also know there are about 5 possibilities of what it might be.  So, here is my speculation and my top 5 most likely candidates for rerelease:

5) System Shock 1: I put this at #5 because while System Shock 1 is a classic in and of itself, they've rereleased what many consider to be the better game in System Shock 2 already, so the likelihood of this one being the case is practically nil.

4) I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream: This is a particularly thorny one because you have to appease one of the... more colorful authors in science fiction, plus you have to get all the licenses involved here, and... well... that just drops the likelihood to nearly nil.

Now, before I get to my top 3, the following three entries are more than likely all really good possibilities, so I'm just putting them in order of what I'd most like to see.

3) The classic Blizzard titles.  Especially since Blizzard seems to LOVE their DRM and their janky online activations with Battle.net, I think Night Dive are the ones who can not only take these games and rerelease them sans DRM, I think they are the only ones who can take these games and treat them properly.  I don't even trust Blizzard to do right by their old IPs anymore and that saddens me greatly.

2) No One Lives Forever.  Yeah, this one's pretty obvious, but I think this game (and series) deserves to be played by gamers who enjoy classic PC games like myself.  Yeah I can go on eBay and get this one, but I'd rather go onto GOG and get it.

1) The LucasArts catalog seeing a rerelease in full, and finally getting onto GOG in the process.  I know, I am pretty much like a broken record on this one at this point, but Disney doesn't exactly have the world's best track record about actually USING the intellectual property that they own, and my guess is because they shuttered LucasArts without a care in the world, they by extension do not care about the LucasArts game catalog, with its vast variety of game genres and even its vast variety of Star Wars games.  So, if Night Dive got in there and wrestled the catalog and got Disney to finally do the right thing for once, I'd be super duper happy about that.

---

However, I think that the top 5 above is pretty much moot because it's pretty obvious it's either NOLF or the LucasArts catalog.  And the LucasArts catalog is very very likely because they've been doing a lot of teasing as of recently about, of all things, robots.  And one of the ones they mentioned was HK-47 from the Knights of the Old Republic games.  So, by extension, I think the LucasArts catalog is going to return.  So, because we'll know what exactly they're announcing next week, IF they announce that LucasArts's entire catalog is finally going to be available to the public digitally, then all next week I am going to do a LucasArts Week of posts about LucasArts games that people overlooked that they need to check out.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Distaste For The Mid-To-Late-90s Output of DiC Entertainment

Unfortunately, I kinda stuck my foot in my mouth a couple of months ago about the really, really, really popular anime Sailor Moon.  I made some statements that I more than likely should not have, and for that I am terribly sorry.

However, I want to use this platform to clarify just why I made such uncouth off-the-cuff remarks, and why I admittedly hate Sailor Moon... at least the butcher job that happened to it in America, and why I will no longer watch dubbed anime.

First, I have to explain why I hate DiC Entertainment in the mid-1990s with an explanation of epic proportions:

Before the time of Sailor Moon's total hackjob, DIC was known for actual halfway entertaining cartoons!  They did a fabulous job adapting the Ludwig Bemelmens Madeline children's books (a staple of my childhood I am proud to say) for TV, specifically HBO.  (This was long before they decided to screw up that goodwill totally and turn it into a full-fledged series about the time they fell out of favor with me, BTW).

They put out Inspector Gadget (still one of the most catchy theme songs from my childhood), and they made the Mario cartoons (rather decently if I dare say so myself).

So, where did all this start to go epically, horribly wrong?  Before I detail just how quickly they fell out of favor with me as a company, I need to speak about the director Tex Avery.  He is quite possibly one of the best animation directors who ever walked this earth.  He is on a whole higher level than Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett, Friz Freleng, and many others.  So, cut to the late 1990s.  I'm watching a Saturday morning cartoon called The Wacky World of Tex Avery (gag, even writing THAT title is making me want to retch violently) and I was telling some friends and they were going, "you mean The Tex Avery Show [a show on Cartoon Network at that time... prior to them going totally off the deep end and refusing to show actual CARTOONS on Cartoon Network, much less classic cartoons like they did in those days]?"

So, I took this friend's advice, and watched The Tex Avery Show, and my mind was BLOWN.  So much so that DiC very quickly fell out of favor with me because they pretty much sullied the legacy of the greatest animation director who ever lived with a show that not only didn't pay proper tribute to the man's legacy, but did it so unbelievably distastefully that they couldn't even get away from there without making distasteful fart jokes.

So, after all of this malarkey, I finally got to see this show called "Sailor Moon" on Toonami because my father had just gotten DirecTV or something like this.  Anyway, Sailor Moon was... to put it mildly... not my particular cup of tea.  The main character was totally screechy, her friends didn't seem particularly bright either, and the guy was interesting, but not interesting enough.  I had no idea DiC was behind this hackjob until the very end of the episode, and DiC had fallen so far out of favor with me at this point that I finally couldn't take Sailor Moon anymore.

This led to what initially got me in deep trouble and frankly, I may very well have been wrong about my initial extreme distaste for it.  However, if I do see any episodes of Sailor Moon, I am not getting bootlegs (was already burned by that with Muppet Babies...), nor am I getting extremely expensive DVD boxsets that are either imports or extremely out of print.  I will also not be supporting DiC's horrific hackjob of Sailor Moon, nor will I ever watch dubbed anime ever again.

I know, I know, dubbing anime is a big-money job for many Hollywood voice actors and actresses, but the problems involved with getting people who have NO idea what the anime is that they're watching come up when you watch an anime like Sengoku Basara.  I was lucky enough to be able to see a fansubbed version of the first two or three episodes of Sengoku Basara at an anime club at the time because I went to their meetings.  I got the first episode off iTunes and at the exact time I expected to hear "Put yer guns on!", I heard "Let's gun it!"... which made me absolutely incensed.  Incensed enough to make absurdly sure that I *never* watched or bought any anime without a language option for Japanese with English subtitles ever again.  So, there is hope for this budding otaku yet.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Just a Monday Morning Post of Potpourri

Yeah, I have a severe case of The Mondays today.  Also, I think people think I do this blogging thing every day.  No, no I don't.  I do it every WEEKDAY, not every day.

So, today's post is going to be more of a potpourri post because I feel like discussing different things in the world of tech, videogames, and even a bit of TV talk with my opinions, of course.

First up is I got to see the briefest of glimpses of the new Sean Hayes-fronted sitcom, "Sean Saves The World", coming this fall to NBC.  TVLine has the trailer and I actually think, unlike certain sitcoms on CBS on Monday nights, that this show is actually FUNNY.  And Linda Lavin (of "Alice" fame) is Sean's mom and hoo boy that is going to be fun.  Can't wait!  Also, people think that well-known second bananas can't pull off a show of their own, but I think that if ANYONE can buck this trend, it's the multitalented Sean Hayes.  Heck, I might even forgive him for being in that abominable Three Stooges movie from the Ferrelly brothers.

Next, this weekend I have been going crazy looking at Mohu's antennas.  From the unassuming-looking Mohu Leaf to the Mohu Leaf Ultimate (with included amplifier) and the Mohu Sky, this line of antennas is quite possibly one of the most interesting in the tech industry.  Their antennas are known for pulling off miracles, but from a guy like myself who lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, I will have to get either a Leaf Ultimate or a Sky.  Probably think I'll get a Sky just because I want to make sure I can get ABC because of another new fall show called Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that I can't wait for.

Next, moving on to the world of videogames, apparently the new female fighter for the new Killer Instinct for Xbox One that Double Helix has been teasing is a new character to the universe named Sadira.  I guess this is a good idea but I will, of course, reserve judgement till I get to see it in action. But, until then, I will just think of her as a Mileena clone.

And finally today, I wanted to discuss something that has been noted in the last few days that I didn't feel like discussing till now: Steve Ballmer's long-awaited (by me anyways) exit from Microsoft.  People think Steve Jobs had an ego?  Ballmer had an ego cranked up to 11 and exponentially multiplied by 11.  He was a terrifying presence in the tech industry and I am, to be frank, glad to see him go.  Don't let the door hit you on your way out, Ballmer.  And I for one will be thrilled to not see Steve Ballmer doing something horribly embarrassing on-stage at some Microsoft press event.