Cloudy With a Chance of Gaming -- 7/16/2011 *Saturday Edition*

It’s been a while since I’ve done this. I haven’t exactly been in the highest of spirits as of late, but I figured doing this could possibly help to take my mind away from the real world for a little bit. I don’t feel like playing games, watching movies, really much of anything at the moment. Good ole writing; you’re always there for me when I want to do nothing else.

Alaska_Gamer deserves some credit for me doing this as well. He wrote his own blog about a week ago that I just now discovered. It was really good and it inspired me to keep writing more for myself. Thanks a bunch, dude.

It’s been too long since I wrote one of these. I’m not even sure which games I’ve played since last time that I’d like to talk about. Let’s see...

I was caught by surprise when I decided to fire up a random Quick Look one day and chose Puzzle Agent 2. I’d remembered hearing Ryan “the narc” Davis talk about how much he enjoyed the original on the Bombcast a while back, but never really looked too far into it. I figured this was as good of an opportunity as ever. I’ve actually been falling behind on Quick Looks recently and not watching every one of them. I couldn’t be more happy that I watched this one though, as I kinda fell in love with Nelson Tethers and the quirky folk of Scoggins Minnesota. I decided not too long after watching to pick up both games on Steam and fulfil my urge to explore what seemed like a super interesting series. The fact that buying the second got me the first for free didn’t hurt my decision either. Thanks, Steam. My memory’s the literal worst, but let’s see if I can keep these two games separate in my head. I beat both in a relatively short time period, and they’re really very similar. Some may say number two is “more of the same”, and I wouldn’t disagree with that.

I remember starting up the first game and being scared. I own a laptop that’s now over three years old. You can understand my nerves when starting a game that I’ve never played on this thing before. Most games released these days simply won’t run at an acceptable framerate. I expected the art style of this would mean it would work fine, but then I was looking at cutscenes that appear to animate at around four frames per second. I soon realized that this was just the way the game was animated. It’s an interesting choice, but I suppose they can get away with this due to the only action in these games being when you’re solving puzzles. The stuttery nature of the animation then just became another layer of charm on this already super charming adventure/puzzle game.

The whole game, both of them, really, just have a super minimalist approach, but at the same time are treated with tremendous care, from the story, to each character living in Scoggins. Each resident you meet has a crazy quirk or interesting twist to them that makes each easy to remember. Puzzles aside, exploring the town of Scoggins and meeting its residents is as compelling (or even more so) as any of the puzzles. I of course won’t spoil the plot threads, but just know that these games definitely keep things interesting. Going into these, I had no idea I’d be chasing [CENSORED] and that I’d find out that they’re [CENSORED] that come from [CENSORED]! Crazy stuff. For just ten dollars, I couldn’t recommend this game more, even to just experience the story.

But hey, there’s also puzzles in these games. I bet you didn’t see that coming. Earlier I alluded to the story and overall setting possibly being more interesting to the puzzles. Well, let me be more clear and say that yes, I found that to be the case. Not to say that the puzzle were bad, but they just were forced to take a back seat to everything else going on. The puzzles were a means to see the next story element play out, and usually not a whole lot more. There are the few really interesting puzzles scattered in there for sure. I sometimes felt like a genius after figuring out coins were representing binary code for example. But the majority seem to be either really simple, or rehashes of ones you’ve seen previously at some point. The latter is especially the case in the second game, which I suppose would have been easy to predict after they were already repeating a bit too often by the end of the first game.

Overall I'd say they're great games worth playing. Just don't expect the most inspired puzzles in the world.

Special thanks to Whiskey user Mushir for designing our new PTW banner, which I’ve placed within my blog banner template because it was easy and looks awesome, even mostly cut off. :)

I would assume (possibly wrongly) that anyone who would read my blogs also would be at least aware of the podcast that I’ve been participating in with two other Whiskey Media users. In case that assumption was indeed wrong, it’s called Pass the Whiskey, and it’s intended to focus on showcasing all of the cool things that the Whiskey Media community are up to. My partners in crime and I collaborate every other week to create this thing. We sit in front of our computers in a Skype call, all hoping that Slowbird’s computer cooperates and records properly. We really have little idea what we’re doing, but that just makes things all the more exciting! Will we have to re-record this entire section? Will Newten’s voice randomly sound like a robot from time to time? Who could possibly say?! But seriously, if any technical difficulties are apparent on the podcast, just know that we know, and that we just aren’t experienced enough to ensure that it’s flawless 100% of the time. I’d say that we can guarantee flawlessness in about 20% of each recording. Take the deal; that’s the best we can offer.

Random tangent: Don’t you just love words with a double “ess“? They’re great. Words like necklessness and flawlessness, make my day. Are they real words? I couldn’t even say for certain, nor do I care. I love them.

Not to, like, recruit you dear readers or anything like that, but if you want to suggest anything for us to feature on the podcast (from ANY of the Whiskey sites), any of us would be super happy to get a PM about such things. Or if you’re so inclined, you can also send an email to askptwanything@gmail.com. We’re also on Twitter and such, but I’ll just link to this previous episode’s post where you can find all of this info towards the bottom. This is a podcast about the community after all, so we’d love to hear more from all of you. I recommend checking out our formspring page. Last recording, ZombiePie thoroughly tainted our question pool, and next episode it could be you! I kid. Don’t follow ZombiePie’s poor example. Keep it appropriate, please. :)

I’m trying to think of anything else I want to say about this. I guess just that I was nervous going into it, but having done it a few times now, I’m starting to feel a bit more comfortable in a recording environment. It’s exciting to create something in the audio format. I’ve written plenty of blogs, but this is a whole new world where people are subjected to my awful voice as well as my lack of preparation. Oh, I have to be ready and on top of everything? These concepts are foreign to me and my written ways. I’m trying to get better at speaking and such, but I’ve never been the best speaker. I know, I’m perfect for a podcast, right?

You can find our most recent (episode three) podcast posting on all of the Whiskey sites, including right here on Giant Bomb. I think I can safely speak for Slowbird and Sparklykiss when I say that we’d love for you to check it out.

I’ve decided that I have a few things to mention that don’t necessarily warrant a dedicated section and header, sooo, I’ll just leave those thing here! ...Yep!

Team Fortress: The Second

Literally anyone with a computer now can play TF2 for free. This is amazing for people like me who never bought the game on PC over the years, but probably terrible for everyone who did. I can see why some players wouldn’t want a bunch of new players flooding servers, but really this is for the best. Eventually all of the awful players (myself included) will learn the ropes and there’ll be that many more people to play against. Just, please forgive me when you Ubercharge me and I then proceed to run around like an idiot and not get a kill. That’s happened a couple of times and I’ve felt really bad about it.

I’ve gotten the chance to play on the Giant Bomb/Tested server a couple of times now, and it’s been a great time. Despite playing while listening to stories of Ryan being a narc and Jeff hating Applebee's, I’m still able to concentrate enough to get a few kills and capture some points from time to time. Last time I played this was on the Orange Box back when it first launched on 360. It’s obviously changed a lot, and I’m still grappling with all of the changes, but I’m liking it and getting the hang of it the more I play. I hope to see you guys on the server in the future.

Terraria

This was a Steam Sale pickup for me, and and I couldn’t be happier to get it at just $2.50. There seems to be a ton of depth to this game (pun totally and completely intended), but there’s also very little instruction. You’re kinda just thrown into the world and told to go. I’ve fumbled my way around enough to build some giant words and carve out a cave or two, but I’m still trying to figure out how exactly to advance and what I should be doing. It’s a really neat game, though.

If you guys didn’t already know, there’s an official Giant Bomb Terraria server that you can check out. It’s pretty amazing the things that have been built. Sadly, there have been some jerks coming in and ruining the world, so entry is restricted to anyone on a whitelist. Just send a PM to Shadowsquire and he’ll make sure you’re able to get in. It would be nice to have some more activity in the server.

Steam Sale Purchases

  • Chime
  • Terraria
  • Puzzle Agent
  • Puzzle Agent 2 (Even though these weren’t on sale... >.>)
  • Secret of Monkey Island SE
  • Monkey Island 2 SE
  • Fallout 3 GOTY

I didn’t spend a boat load of cash, but considering my brokeness, I probably should have just chosen one or two of those. Overall, I’m happy with each of them. I’d be more happy if Fallout 3 would run at higher than 25 frames per second, but what can I do? Oh right, not buy games I can’t run. Oh Steam sales. I just can’t resist you.

There’s a look at what I’ve been up to. My weekly blog plans have obviously flown off the rails a bit as of late, but maybe this will get me back on track for a while. Thanks again to Alaska_Gamer for the inspiration.

I really do like to write these blogs, but it’s hard when I’m not feeling myself. I don’t know what you’d call this funk I’ve been in. Maybe depression. Maybe something else entirely. Luckily, I do have someone to talk to through all of this. I’m just trying desperately not to let myself push this person away, because I’m honestly not sure what I’d do without this person.

Anyway, thanks to anyone who reads this. As much as I say that I do these for myself, it’s always nice to know that people are reading what I’ve written, and in some cases being inspired by it (and others) to write for themselves. So leave a comment. I’d love to read all of your opinions on the things I’ve mentioned (or even things I haven’t mentioned). Oh, and last thing: Thanks to Mracoon and ZombiePie for featuring me in the Community Spotlight as this week’s community starlet. I’m definitely very honored to be considered worth mentioning. I’ll do my best to keep contributing to not just Giant Bomb, but all of Whiskey Media. These sites have given me a lot, and I’m always happy to give back however I can.

Have a great week, everyone.

<3

--JJ

14 Comments

Cloudy With a Chance of Gaming -- 6/12/2011


 
I’m apparently the worst at keeping a regular blog. I plan to do something weekly, and yet somehow I keep finding ways to just say “eff it, I’ll do it next week”. In all honesty, I’ve just had some things going on recently that have kept my mind occupied and not really able to focus. The distractions have been good things though. I’ve been having great new experiences and I’m really glad for that. I guess time’s been flying a bit, but I want to make sure I get some words down on this virtual sheet of paper this week (I’m writing this in Google Docs). The figurative weather has been fairly clear for a while, but I’ve definitely gotten some light gaming showers in from time to time (I'm so corny). Stick around and I’ll tell you about it.


Yes, yes. Against all odds, I’ve kinda sorta kept up with Cooking Mama: Friends’ Cafe. The gamer in me is slowly being killed, but this game’s legitimately sort of enjoyable, as well as addicting.

I talked about this game before, but I may as well sum it up again. This is a Facebook version of the Cooking Mama game we all know, yet maybe don’t quite love. The goal of the game is to prepare various foods and drinks and set up a full menu that can then be tasted by equally crazy Cooking Mama-playing Facebook friends. You earn coins and experience for completing menus as well as specific goals such as cooking specific dishes. Coins are the main currency, but there are also smiley faces as a secondary form of currency. These confuse me, because there’s seemingly no way to earn them other than just waiting for them to slowly replenish, and the rate that they do that is extraordinarily slow. It’s actually been days and I still only have 2. I must be missing something, but it’s not keeping me from cooking, and that’s all that matters.

If you’ve played OG cooking Mama before, you’ll know what to expect of the cooking sections. It’s basically a dumbed down version of regular Cooking Mama. You swirl the mouse to stir a bowl (of which I always crap up and flip over, btw), you line up cuts with a knife, you operate an oven, and you also do lots of spreading of things like frosting, jelly, butter, etc. Lots of simple stuff, but there’s a relaxing feeling to going through the motions. I’m just here cookin’ in my kitchen. Not a care in the world.

Of course this is a modern game and therefore has to have some sort of progression. There’s a leveling system, and that’s actually a nice motivator to to keep cranking out menus and completing goals. You can see friends levels and such on the side of the screen, so it can lead to some friendly competition. Ever since I started, I’ve been on a quest to surpass a certain someone. This will happen. I will be the top chef on my friend board. There’s that bad part of my personality taking over again. All in good fun, though.

I’m sorry fellow Giant Bombers. I really should be playing real games, like LA Noire--which I still haven’t finished--or Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood which I recently picked up and haven’t touched much. I haven’t even finished Dragon Age: Origins, but not out of any disliking of the game; it just hasn’t happened. That’s not even mentioning all of the other great games I have in my backlog; I have a lot. that being the case, it’s probably weird that I have been playing one proper console game recently.


Yep. Even having all of those previously mentioned great games, I’ve taken a trip back to 2008 to experience a game that I’d missed out on... until now. Looking back, it’s funny to me when I recall the level of excitement I experienced as this game crept closer and closer to launch. One trailer specifically where the main character, Baldur, walks into this bar and ends up in a battle with a giant robotic creature, really got me excited for Too Human. I watched that trailer several times over and even showed my friends and was like “Look how awesome this game looks! It’s going to be so cool! Oh man!” I don’t too often often get that sense of joy in anticipating a game, but Too Human had me hooked. I was more than ready to take control of the cybernetic god, Baldur.

I think we all know where this story is going. Reviews hit. After reading review after review and having that feeling of such disappointment, I decided to hold off on the game. I figured I’d maybe just rent it at some point, but I stopped renting games around that time, actually. So the years ticked by and now, finally, in 2011, I decided to pull the trigger on Too Human. I bought a new sealed copy off of eBay for something like nine dollars with free shipping. Deal! I really haven’t played a ton if it thus far, but I’ve gotten through the first big mission and I’ve been taking my time and exploring the menus as best I could as well.

One of the big features that I remember Silicon Knights touting before release was how innovative and amazing their camera system was. Well, at least from what I’ve seen, that didn’t exactly pan out. They do some interesting things with dynamic camera perspectives, but it just doesn’t work well enough a lot of the time. I’ve already run into spots where I couldn’t see what I needed to while fighting or even just navigating the environments. It’s by no means a terrible and broken camera system, but as far as being one of the game’s most exciting features, it totally fails in most cases. There are limited methods of manually managing the camera, but maybe I just haven’t had enough time to get the hang of that stuff yet. I really like how the combat is mapped to the right stick, but that really hinders the camera, and it seems like it could have been handled better than it was.

Speaking of the combat though, I actually kind of like it. It’s awkward, and a bit funky looking, but getting a chain of hitting dudes going is fast and pretty satisfying. There’s all kinds of things you can do with the right stick to knock enemies into the air to juggle, perform finishing moves, or just slash away. the combat seems at least somewhat deep, and can get exciting. That’s the melee combat though. I haven’t found the guns to be quite as fun. It seems like using guns just slows down the rhythm of combat and disrupts any flow you may with a sword or other melee weapon. Not that the guns aren’t effective, because they actually do a surprising amount of damage, but they just don’t feel as fast, exciting, or satisfying as using melee attacks.

Something I was told before playing the game for myself was that the game is packed with loads and loads of loot. I love me some loot, and man were those people right. There’s so many loot drops that I mostly am just confused by. The UI for the equipment menu could have been better, but I more or less figured out how to equip the best items I’ve picked up. I’ve heard of some crazy pieces of loot that I can’t wait to get my hands on. Any game that has mad loot has the key to my heart. (I love you Diablo 2. So, so much.)

Overall, Too Human is just kind of ugly. It has bright spots, but everything just seems unpolished and lacking in one way or another. If I can point out one thing I really hate, it’s the game’s main menu UI. Good god, that’s just the worst. Looks like a much older game’s menu. Also, some (most) of the textures make my eyes hurt, which I suppose is partly due to it being an older game at this point, but still. The story seems interesting at least, so that plus the combat and loot will probably carry me through to the end. Seems like an alright game, but nothing special, which is basically what all of the reviews told me. I’m glad I’m playing it though. Maybe it’ll just get better as I work my way through. Fingers crossed.

  
Alright. Writing about two games seems like enough at this point. I hope I can get more time in on L.A. Noire as well as AC: Brotherhood within the next week. Although I do have some super secret plans that may or may not involve a podcast going on this week, so I guess I’ll just see what happens. I'll save any E3 talk for the audio format. Oh god, you’re all going to be able to hear my voice. This was a poor idea! D:

Anyway, I hope I get another one of these up next Sunday. I’ll do my best! Assuming you’ve read more than this line here, then thanks for reading! Actually, even if that was the only line you read, don't worry, you're almost as cool! Have a nice week, everyone.

<3
--JJ
10 Comments

Cloudy With a Chance of Gaming -- 5/22/2011



It’s been a good while since I’ve written one of my weekly blogs. In fact, it’s been three weeks now. I wrote another blog explaining my situation, so you could read that if you actually care. Not much of a situation, really. Basically I just got lazy a couple of weeks ago, and last week I was on vacation! I’ll tell you all about it in a minute. I also have bought a few video games since my last weekly blog. Such games include Beatles: Rock Band, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, and L.A. Noire! I’ve had plenty to keep me busy lately, which is always good. I can’t talk too much about Brotherhood because I’ve been neglecting it so far for other games, but I guess I’ll just mention up front that it appears to be an Assassin’s creed game--therefore it’s awesome.

My birthday actually took place during this blog outage as well. I turned 21 on May the 12th! Thanks again to everyone who wished me a happy birthday, whether it was via Twitter, GB, or wherever. That was awesome. I ate so much cake. SO MUCH CAKE! Oh yeah, and I drank liquor too. I heard that that’s a thing you’re supposed to do. The previously mentioned vacation that I took was actually a birthday gift. My family packed up and drove down from Oregon to L.A. to see Conan O’Brien live. I dubbed the trip: Conan Quest 2011!


I don’t feel great about these banners this week. Black, black and more black. So uncreative. I disappoint myself. I’ll get over it, though.

But on to what’s really important: Conan Quest 2011! I’ve always been a pretty huge fan of Conan. Ever since randomly catching one of his Late Night shows, he’s been my favorite talk show host by far. He’s a breath of fresh air in comparison to Letterman, Leno, etc. I just love Conan’s antics; what can I say? Obviously I was very excited after opening up a birthday card to reveal my ticket confirmation email in all of it’s glory. I’d never been to the taping of a show before this, so I didn’t know what to expect. But whatever! I was going to see Conan! There’s no way that could disappoint!

The long drive to L.A. began last Saturday morning and didn’t end until Sunday afternoon. In case you didn’t know, driving somewhere between 900 and 1,000 miles away takes effing forever! Luckily I had my methods of entertainment. I had my laptop, a book, and of course my phone. I should have known how terrible the T-Mobile coverage would be driving down I5. It’s hard to send text messages or browse the Whiskey mobile sites when you’re losing signal every minute or so. what’s worse is that even when I did have a signal, it was always GPRS (holy cannoli, that’s slow) or Edge (slightly better, but still awful). I hate T-Mobile sometimes. But enough complaining! I was sufficiently entertained most of the trip.

Now, technically the Warner Brothers Studios aren’t really in L.A. They’re actually in Burbank, which is just a few minutes out. The studios are also just a short drive from my uncle’s place. Score, we didn’t have to pay for a hotel! I’d never been to my uncle’s place before, but it's nice! He lives in Pasadena, and man is that a rich neighborhood. After arriving, we were taken on a little drive around the streets of Pasadena. There’s literally road after road, all lined with awe-inspiring mansions. BMWs, Porches and even Ferraris were commonplace. I’d never seen such concentrated wealth before; It was completely nuts. Being a fairly rich neighborhood, there were lots of nice restaurants around. Luckily my uncle knew of all the great ones, so we all ate well. I decided to test the salmon from like three different restaurants (I’m unadventurous like that). Each place had very different styles though. One was served over the most amazing risotto; oh my gosh, that was outstanding. We ate at a steakhouse too, and the salmon there had a delicious smoky grilled flavor. Oh, I do love my salmon. Mmm. If anyone’s ever planning on moving to California, Pasadena would probably be a good place to look. Lots of cool stuff there.

 The Warner Bros. lot
Monday was the day of the show. The day started off well as we ate at a fairly fancy breakfast place where I had the best waffles I’d probably ever tasted. Maybe a bit too sweet, but that’s my fault for pouring too much syrup. Anyway, the first thing you do before the Conan show is park in the WB parking garage at Gate 8. You then take an elevator or stairs down to floor one where you go through a security check and check in for the show. It’s so weird though because they just set up a metal detector gate in the first floor of this parking garage and then there’s a slew of benches for everyone to hang out on and wait for the process to begin. Depending on how early you show up, your group gets a number, and that determines the order you leave for the studio, and in turn, the order that you’re seated. Getting there earlier will net you a lower number and potentially floor-level seats. I wasn’t floor level. I was actually about 5 levels up, but it was still a great view. But I’m getting ahead of myself. After our number was called from the parking garage, you’re lead in a single-file line across the street and eventually to another holding area. It’s like you’re cattle being herded and lead to slaughter! But it was fine; anything for Conan! After even more waiting, they finally lead everyone from the second holding area through the studio lot all of the way to studio 15. It was fun passing by all of the other WB studios. They all have a plaque outside of them that lets you know what movies were filmed there. I didn’t have a lot of time to read, and by this time camera phones were instructed to be shut off, so it’s hard to recall specifics. I do remember seeing several studios where the Oceans Eleven series were filmed though. We also walked past the main studio for Two and a Half Men; I hate that show. Eventually we weaved our way to Studio 15 and walked through the giant door into a dumpy looking joint. There were red curtains strait ahead though, so we marched on. There was a metal staircase to walk up. I was now surrounded by the mysterious red curtains! Finally I made it to the top of the stairs, and like magic, I was looking at Conan’s beautiful set! Everything was as I’d expected, except that everything seemed smaller and closer together. I guess the magic of TV makes it appear more spacious After being shown to a seat, there was a comedian that came out to warm up the crowd as well as inform us of the essential information, such as where to find the fire exits, and also that we shouldn’t even bother with them because we’d all be boned anyways. That guy was great. The band also put on a little show of their own prior to the “main event”. They came up and walked through the crowd as they played their instruments. Fans of the show may know who LeBamba is. He walked right in front of me! I was excited by that.

As for the actual show, that happened too! Jesus, all of this writing and I’m just now getting to that. Nobody’s going to read this. In case they do though, I’d better keep going. The show was great, and it’d better be, right? I mean, I ONLY drove 1,000 miles to see it. No big deal. But no, it was definitely very funny. The guests were Zach Galifianakis, Sig Hansen from The Deadliest Catch, and Rafael Saadiq was the musical guest. If I’m not mistaken, you can watch the episode on TeamCoCo.com, here! I think that’s only up for a limited time though. Anyway, it plays out exactly how you’d expect, except it’s such a surreal experience that everything seems somehow even funnier. I was lucky enough to be there at the same time as Larry King. He had a bit during the intro where he was starting his own show in the rafters of Studio 15. He was right above where I was sitting, so I couldn’t really see him. That was so great though. I can now say I was just meters from Larry King. I love Larry King. The one part of the show that didn’t exactly line up with expectations was the transitional breaks. I thought there would be some joking around or audience interaction during those parts, but it was all business. The lights dimmed a bit and everyone producing the show all kind of ran around like madmen getting everything ready for the next segment. I guess there was one other thing I didn’t expect: The band is super loud in person. That was awesome to hear live. And the musical guest, Rafael Saadiq was great live as well. Watching the episode back on TV though, Rafael wasn’t as impressive. I guess that’s natural, but it seems like they could maybe do a better job of conveying the atmosphere over the TV. I feel bad for disliking most of the musical guests in the past, knowing now they were likely exponentially better in the studio. I guess I’ll stop talking about it and just let you guys watch the episode if you want. It’s a good one. Here’s a couple of very blurry pictures of me in the audience though:


On the way out of the studio, we were stopped at one point and asked if anyone wanted to go the George Lopez Show which was starting relatively soon. Apparently they had open seats to fill. I think only one group of a couple friends took them up on the offer. The rest of us were like “Nah! We’re good!” It’s not that I dislike George Lopez as a  person, but I really don’t much care for his talk show. Couldn’t put myself through that. It would have ruined all of the amazingness that was just Conan’s show. Not to mention we had dinner reservations that would have had to have been dropped (Although it turned out they lost the reservation anyway :/). But yeah, we were guided back to the initial parking garage, and that was Conan. Conan Quest 2011 had officially been completed. It was a great experience that I couldn’t recommend more. Unless of course if you’re a person who really hates waiting in lines for extended periods of time. In that case, avoid!

Later that night, we took a drive into L.A. with my uncle to see some sights before we took off the next morning. It’s a shame we didn’t go while it was light out, but we still saw some cool things driving around downtown. At one point an LAPD car sped by us with its lights on. I was way too excited by that at the time. We drove down the Sunset Strip and I saw all kinds of famous buildings. I liked seeing the Comedy Store; that was cool. Sadly I made the trip to LA, and somehow didn’t get to see the freaking Hollywood sign. How horrible is that? Apparently it wasn’t lit up... or something. I was so sad. Another highlight of that little tour? My uncle getting the BMW to around 110 mph on the freeway. My uncle’s kinda of a crazy driver, but so is everyone else in L.A., christ. Nobody uses their turn signal, and people are getting cut off left and right. And on freeways, 20 mph over the limit is fairly standard. Crazy place. That was a good way to wrap up the L.A. experience though.

Funky Student says: Golden Gate, yay-ay! 
The next morning we hit the road back up to Oregon. The ride up was actually way better than the ride down though, and that was mostly due to the drive through San Francisco. I was in San Francisco! I could have totally stalked the Whiskey crew! But that would have been creepy, and wrong. Instead I just wore my Giant Bomb Throwback shirt with pride. Sadly nobody commented on it, but I’d like to believe that someone noticed. Let’s see, notable events in San Fran? We almost hit a Rolls-Royce; that was fun. That’s not entirely true, but even coming relatively close to the bumper of a Rolls-Royce make you feel nervous. Also: there are god damned vertical streets in San Fran! I mean, I knew it was a hilly place, but jesus. At one point we were driving up a road and people were walking down the sidewalk next to us. I’ll just say that Inception immediately came to mind. The scene where Ellen Page bends the world. So nuts. At one point driving down a hill, the slope was so immediately steep that we literally couldn’t see the road until the car was on the slope. It was essentially like driving off of a cliff and then realizing, “Oh hey, there’s a hill here.” I’m sure I sound stupid right now, but as someone who’s not used to that, it’s legitimately kind of scary. Seems like a fun city though; lots going on. On the way out we of course drove over the Golden Gate bridge, and through Sausalito, so that was cool too. After that it was just boring ole highway.

When I finally got home on Wednesday evening, I was delighted to find that my Whiskey subscriber shirt had come! Oh Lincoln force, I do love you so. Great end to a great trip. I’d totally do it all again.


Oh god dammit. I shouldn’t even be playing this, not to mention writing about it. I can’t help myself though. Sparklykiss’ blog about Horrible Things inspired me to try a Facebook game called Cooking Mama Friends’ Cafe. Now, I’d never really played the console versions of these games, so I just figured, “why not?” I should not have.

It all began with my buttering of some toast. Not too bad. Before I knew it though, I was thrust into a world of cooking, cooking, and more cooking! I’ve since cooked such things as: chicken fingers, bacon, orange juice, biscotti, sweet potato pie, hamburgers, coffee, tea, more bacon, chicken soup, chili, cookies, and even more bacon. In order to earn more XP, you have to complete challenges by cooking specific foods. After cooking food, you can then create your own menu for your cafe, and all of your FB friends can come eat and even write a review for your menu. It still has all of the Facebook hooks like time limits, resources, etc. that keep you coming back and not able to sit there and level up for hours. That’s always what I’ve hated about FB games, but whatever, I was having too much fun cooking bacon.

You can even buy things to decorate your little 2D kitchen. There’s even a cute little kitty cat that you can buy, but that costs entirely too much. It would just sit on your kitchen counter and sleep though. Cute, but maybe a bit unsanitary.

Why am I even thinking about these things though? Oh, this game. I’m on a bit of a quest to reach a certain level at the moment, but I’ll stop playing as soon as I reach that. ...I will! The worst part about all of this is that I was playing it in the place of something like L.A. Noire. How in god’s name does that happen?


L.A. Noire is freaking me out a bit. It’s the first game in a long time (or ever?) that I just can’t... figure out. In the sense that I’m not sure how I feel about it as a whole. I know it’s good, great even in some aspects, and I know that I like a lot of what I’ve seen so far, but there’s something about it that’s tripping me up, and I can’t put my finger on it. It’s definitely unlike any other game out there right now, so maybe it’s just that factor.

Interrogations are so tough and intense. 
One aspect that I’m kinda split on is the fact that it just kinda throws you into the game and doesn’t hold your hand for very long. I mean, I guess it does show you what to do, and doesn’t just leave you hanging, but I still always feel like I’m missing something. It’s good that the game gets out of your way, but at the same time, I think it’s resulted in me feeling like I’m not 100% sure what I should be doing at any given moment. I feel like I’m just winging it a lot of the time, and that’s good to an extent considering it’s a detective adventure game, but sometimes I just wish I was a little more sure of myself. Maybe that’s just the nature of the game, to be unsure. It’s kinda bugging me though. I’m sure my personality in 100% to blame.

The open world sections are another aspect that I’m not sure how I feel about. It’s really nice to have an open world to roam, but there’s really not a lot to do. It’s nice to drive around and see sights, but it doesn’t feel like an interactive world like GTA IV does. Now, they’re different games with different goals in mind, but I just can’t help but be disappointed that the only thing you can use the open world for is driving from point to point, and occasionally the random street crime. To be honest, I haven’t taken part in a lot of street crimes--probably only two or three, in fact--so maybe if I took more time to do some of those, then I’d feel like the world is more worthwhile.

I don’t want to hate on the game too much here though, since I do think it’s brilliant. The characters, cases, amazing face tech, and creative gameplay all make the game extremely interesting to just sit back and absorb. It’s a fascinating game for sure, but I feel like I’m not enjoying it as much as I should, and I just can’t figure out exactly why. I’m only just starting disc two though, so I still have a ways to go. Maybe I’ll have a revelation at some point and things will start to click and come together a bit better for me. Or maybe I’ll finish the game just as baffled as I am now. I’m definitely interested in finding out.


I’m sad that this turned out so scatter-brained, but oh well.

Alright, I’ve sufficiently rambled you all into comas. And even so, I still didn’t talk about The Beatles: Rock Band! That’s OK though, as I think I talked a good bit about it in my previously linked blog about why I missed blogs.

Speaking of missing blogs, I’ll try not to anymore. I have way too much fun typing-without-thinking to stop now. Although, I definitely need to step up my banner creativity. I’m slackin’. Have a good one, everyone. Until next time.

<3
--JJ
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Green Gaming

I was just reading an article in the latest issue of Game Informer that was a bit interesting. The article is called Green Gaming, and it’s of course about the effects of gaming on the environment and how we can reduce the impact. The whole “Green” thing is admittedly an overused term at this point, and it’s often seen everywhere. You can always count on someone to write an article about “going green” in relation to almost any topic. My house is probably a bit more green-focused than most though. My dad works at the Oregon Zoo and a good portion of his job has been to run their “Green Team”, or something like that. So we recycle everything, compost, buy organic foods, whatever else. Anyway, I’m always hearing about making things more green and helping the environment, so this article caught my eye.


The article goes into how there are two main ways that video games affect the environment. The first is the power that’s drawn from the console itself when turned on and playing games as well as when in standby mode. That’s an issue, but the real problem is in the manufacturing process. “It has been found that between 60 and 80 percent of a desktop or laptop PC’s cumulative energy demand is associated with the manufacturing process.” It seems like common knowledge that manufacturing a PC would be similar to manufacturing a game console, especially in this day and age. Beyond the energy resources it takes to manufacture consoles, there are then chemicals inside the consoles that are potentially very harmful to the environment if the consoles aren’t properly disposed of. Casey Harrell of Greenpeace points out that while electronics waste isn’t the most immediately dangerous type of waste, it’s still “the largest amount of hazardous waste in the world.” The article then points out that things are made worse by the fact that a lot of communities don’t have proper means to dispose of these wastes, and a lot of electronics waste are sent to Africa, Asia, or South America, where it’s then burned. You don’t need to be a scientist to know that that’s probably a bad idea.

According to Casey Harrell though, there doesn’t seem to be a lot that we individuals can do. He thinks this needs to be addressed at the manufacturing level. The article then goes into how environmentally friendly each of the console manufacturers are. Sony ranks highest--in the four out of ten range--while Nintendo and Microsoft are both rated terribly. This is admittedly a flawed ranking system though, as Nintendo specifically refuses to disclose some of their specific manufacturing processes. Also, Sony’s rating is based on a larger division than just consoles. The article says that if just Sony’s console manufacturing was being measured, it would line up a lot closer with Microsoft and Nintendo. The manufacturing process simply needs to become more efficient and less damaging. I’m sure multi-billion dollar companies could make that happen if they really wanted to.

While the manufacturing process does account for most of the negative environmental impact, there are things that we can do to make a difference as well. According to Casey Harrell’s “super rough” estimate, if every game device purchased in 2009 was unplugged for 8 hours a day, it would eliminate “roughly the same amount of CO2 green-house gas emissions as taking 13,000 vehicles off the road for one year.” The biggest thing we can do according to Casey is letting the companies know that we care about more environmentally-friendly practices. To wrap up, it’s recommended to just be sensible and consume less. “Buy less, use less, waste less.” 

There’s then a side-bar that talks about a Green Gaming Hour that was started by some high school students. The idea behind it is to turn off all of the electronics in your house except for one room where you and your family would then gather to play some video games for an hour. It’s an interesting take on the “turn everything off” thing that’s become so popular in recent years, and I kind like the idea. I don’t know if my family would go for the idea, but maybe someone’s will.

I thought all of that was pretty interesting though. Especially the part about unplugging every console sold in 2009 for 8 hours a day and the impact that alone could have. That actually makes it seem like we could make a difference. My problem is that I always think that I’m only one person and I can’t make a difference. I know that that’s the wrong way to think, but I’m sure tons of people think the same way. It’s tough to be motivated to do anything small like unplugging a console when you’ll likely never see any benefit in it. All you’ll ever notice is your task of having to go out of your way to plug in and unplug the console all of the time. It’s a culture change thing though, and I think people will eventually start to come around and save energy; it’ll just take a while. I’m still working on it myself.

Anyway, it wasn’t really my plan to summarize the entire article, but, well, there it is. What do you guys think of the environmental impact of gaming? Do you feel bad about it? Do you ever do anything to green up your gaming? Are you going to write a letter to your console manufacturer of choice and explain why they should work on becoming more green?

What's the GB opinion on all of this?
39 Comments

Cloudy With No Chance of Gaming

Salutations, followers!

I guess this is for anyone who actually cares to read my usual Cloudy with A Chance of Gaming blog. There’s likely not many of you, but even so, I feel like I should write up this post if only for future reference as to why I missed blogs.

Last week’s blog was never written. That was mostly because I was lazy. Or maybe I wasn’t so lazy, because the main reason for that was that I didn’t play many video games at all that week. That doesn’t necessarily mean I was productive, but that’s what I’ll claim regardless. It’s not like missing a blog was a huge deal; I mostly do them for myself anyway. But I’m also going to be missing next Sunday’s as well. I have a super legitimate excuse for that one though: I’m going out of town to celebrate my birthday. That’s right, I’m driving from Oregon all of the way down to Los Angeles to be part of the live audience for an episode of Conan! That’s Conan O’Brien for all of you uncool people. I kid; you’re all cool. So I’m going to drive down Saturday and the show’s Monday, the 16th. That will obviously be right in my blog window. I suppose the upside to this is that I’ll have plenty to blog about the following week.

I’m super excited to go see Conan live, though. I’ve been a pretty big fan since his Late Night show. I think the first memory I have of the show, he was doing a fake interview with baseball player John Rocker. An LCD TV would drop down and there would be a static image of John Rocker, but of course then the mouth was cut out and an actor would talk as if he were John Rocker. I was fairly young at the time, but I found that to be HILARIOUS! He went on to do that with other celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger as well. As I’m sure everyone knows, he moved on from Late Night to the Tonight Show and was quickly forced back out when Jay Leno wanted his job back. Pretty shitty, Jay. But of course this has all lead to the new and improved “Conan” show on TBS. He’s able to do practically whatever he wants, which is great. I think this all worked out for the best for Conan. Anyway, if you’ve ever seen the show, you’d know how rabid Conan fans are. People are constantly doing things like knitting Conan beards to wear to the show, making crazy signs, and it wouldn’t be a proper Conan show if a fan didn’t let out a loud “Woo!” at the most inappropriate time. It seems like being in that audience would be a lot of fun, so I’m looking forward to that experience. You all can look for me on the May 16th show. I’ll be the guy that’s being escorted out after a relentless attempt to get Conan’s attention.

What else to talk about? Oh yeah, I totally went to Gamestop a couple of days ago just to browse. That’s never a great idea, but whatever. I ended up coming away with The Beatles Rock Band, as well as Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. Beatles RB was priced at just $8, so you know, couldn’t really pass that up considering I’m a huge RB fan and that’s the only core game I didn’t own yet. Assassin’s Creed was $35, which wasn’t bad I figured. Also, I was in love with ACII, so another no-brainer purchase for me. But the most exciting part of the story was my purchase of a banana Fanta flavored Slurpee from 7/11 on the way home. Mmm. I don’t drink nearly enough Slurpees. The cashier asked me as I was checking out why I was getting a Slurpee on such a cold day. I had no answer for him. Why should the weather come into play when deciding to buy a Slurpee? That’s madness!

I really didn’t think this blog would ramble on so much, but then again, it’s me we’re talking about. May as well keep it going.

So I’ve already beaten The Beatles Rock Band. Probably not a shocker; it’s not a long game. It really is a fantastic package though. It really is. I wish there were more videos, but it’s kinda understandable considering the time period. All of the unlockable photos are great though. There are just so many little touches that make all of the difference. For example, the stage noise that played before a song on the loading screens. That stuff was great. You can hear them each tuning up their instruments and getting ready to play the coming song. Of course all of the animated time-period transition videos are great. That opening cutscene is probably one of the best I’ve ever seen in any game. I love it. Sadly, the one part of the game I’m not absolutely loving is the act of playing some of the songs. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of fun to be had, but there’s just too many tracks that--even on expert guitar--are just boring. I understand that The Beatles aren’t a heavy metal band, so maybe I can’t hold this against the game too much. It’s just a fact of their music though. Not the most exciting in the world. Of course just listening to the songs usually makes up for that though. I don’t mean to blow anyone’s mind here, but yo, the Beatles have some good songs. My favorite in the game is probably Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band/With A Little Help From My Friends. Maybe that’s unfair because it’s two awesome tracks made into one, but whatever. It’s a lot of fun to play. I’m gonna keep playing it for a few achievement here and there, but I’ve beaten the story and don’t have a ton of motivation to go back to it more than every now and then. Great game though. Great package. Can’t really beat it for just $8.

As for the second game, I started Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood just earlier today. That game starts off with a pretty serious bang. It gives a quick recap of the previous events, and then just throws you right back into the end of ACII. It’s kinda nuts. But the real bang comes about a half-hour in when your Villa gets bombed to hell. That sequence is super crazy. I haven’t gotten too far into things story-wise though. I’m Desmond and I’m back in the Villa in present time. I’ve just seen a shadow of Ezio, before I decided to take a break and try the multiplayer. Now I get what Ryan was talking about on the last bombcast with the shadows. Seems like it could be interesting. Really looking forward to playing through that story and maybe even S-ranking it like I did with ACII. Jeez, I played way too much ACII. Jumping into the multiplayer though was pretty fun. It started with me downloading a couple of free DLC packs, so I had to do some waiting. After that though, it was basically what I’ve seen via Giant Bomb coverage. I jumped into a free-for-all match first, and I actually did OK. Well, alright, I finished nearly last, but I got a lot of points. As has been discussed to death, it’s a super interesting take on multiplayer, and I’m looking forward to leveling up and unlocking some cool things. I don’t know how long it’ll hold my attention, but I guess we’ll see.

Oh, last thing, I’m a Whiskey subscriber now! I was one initially, but that was a monthly membership that expired all-too-quickly. Why it took so long to sign up again is unknown, but I’m happy to be a supporter of the best set of websites on the internet, yet again. I’ve already gone back to watch a few previous Happy Hours, and my eyes have appreciated the HD video. Can’t forget the mobile sites either. Those are still slick. I actually really like Tested’s color scheme on the mobile sites. It’s a clean white. Ah, and the Theater Mode thing for videos is interesting. That’s something I never got to mess around with. I don’t like that the Theater Mode UI pops up whenever I have a Tweetdeck notification though, so I’m not sure how often I’ll use that. But yeah, cool stuff. I’ll be getting my shirt at some point. I actually got an email about it earlier today. So excited about that. I just hope it doesn’t arrive while I’m away in California. It’s nice to have that gold medal around Rich Gallup’s two-dimensional neck.  :)

I really don’t want this to be any longer, so let’s wrap it up here, shall we? My next blog will be May the 22nd. That’s a Sunday, folks! I’ll tell you all about my trip to L.A. and what Conan looks like in real life. It’ll be grand. Until next time.

<3
--JJ    

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Cloudy With a Chance of Gaming -- 5/01/2011



Greetings, compatriots. Maybe I should let it be known up front that that I‘m still feeling the effects of sickness and that I’m forcing myself to write this blog. I’m sorry if that actually becomes noticeable at any point. I feel like I’m on a good roll of consistently posted blogs though, and I’d rather not mess it up now. Besides, I’ve played some great games and also have some things that need mentioning. With that, I shall once again venture into my weekly ramblings.


First thing’s first. I need to give a giant shoutout to GB user Wunder_ for surprising me with the gift of Portal 2 over Steam several days ago. That was seriously awesome and super generous of you, duder. I’m not letting you get away with it though. I should be getting some cash in the coming weeks, and I’m totally going to gift you something back. Keep that Steam wishlist updated!

Before being so pleasantly surprised with this gift, I wasn’t even planning on buying the game until it was discounted. I figured that at the latest, I’d be waiting until this holiday season and the accompanying Steam sales. It’s not that I wasn’t excited for the game, but that it would cost me $50-60, and I just wasn’t sure about making that investment. Turns out any doubts I had about the game being worth it were misplaced. While it’s not a completely perfect game, it’s still very very good and extremely memorable. I’m glad I got to play through it.

**Portal 2 spoilers are officially in effect beyond this point**


Holy crap, what a story. What amazing characters and voice work. Of course, fantastic puzzles. All the way around this was a superb game. If one element really made the experience memorable though, it was most definitely the voice acting. It’s hard to describe how much I loved Wheatley. Right off the bat, he’s cracking jokes about your jumping ability and lack of speaking. He’s such a lovable doofus throughout the game, even when he's trying to kill you. I think I was only a couple hours into the game when I begin to think he may be my 2011 character of the year, come award time. We’ll see how well he holds up against the year's remaining game characters, but I think he has a pretty good shot at winning regardless of what else I see this year. As most probably already know, little Wheatley is excellently voiced by none other than the very funny Stephen Merchant. He couldn’t have done a better job delivering his lines. Almost everything coming out of Wheatley was constantly putting a big ole smile on my face, and that’s really all you can ask for. Of course GLaDOS delivered again. Cave Johnson was a nice surprise too. Some people were making a big deal over Cave’s dialog on Twitter and such, but I wasn’t as impressed. It was funny, and actually pretty interesting to learn more about the history of Aperture, but I just wasn’t having the same reaction that I had to Wheatley earlier in the game. Maybe I was just missing Wheatley, as that’s really the only part of the game that you’re really separated from him.

As much as I fell in love with the voice work, there were parts where I felt like the game dragged just a little bit. Mostly I had these feelings while in the old-time Aperture test chambers. That stuff was pretty cool and interesting for a little bit, but I just found myself wanting to get out of there and back to the slick future Aperture facility that I know and love. Although, the gels were first introduced in these sections, which helped. Those gels really kept the game from becoming truly tedious in spots by giving you entirely new sets of possibilities to grapple with.

The end of this game is something that I won’t forget for a long while. Valve is officially amazing, as if they weren’t before. When you’re laying on the ground with your portal gun in hand, about to die, I was just thinking “How am I gonna got outta this one?” Oh I don’t know, how about you shoot a portal onto the god damned moon! I was trying to aim my portal gun around the room and I noticed the movement was pretty limited. I pointed it up and noticed the gaping hole in the roof. I just thought “No way.” But then I shot the portal, and yes way! I’m sorry, I’m entirely too excited just reliving this, but it was such a great surprise. Anyway the end was complete magic. The companion cube bit was especially entertaining. I’ve seen some people taking the opinion that the GLaDOS song at the end is better than Still Alive. To that I say “You crazy, but I respect your opinion.” They’re both great, but I’m not sure Still Alive can ever be topped. Keep tryin’ though, Jonathan Coulton!

As a last bit, I finished the game with a Steam count of 8.9 hours. A bit of that was probably down-time, so probably closer to eight and a half hours. I haven't touched Co-Op yet, so that should be fun whenever I get around to it. I think I may need a Portal Buddy. Anyway, anyone who finished the single player in like five hours is just crazy. You must have been bookin’ though it. You’ve gotta stop and smell the roses. Or read the funny posters, as the case may be.


I think I’ve made it clear enough in the past that I’m a ginormous fan of Rock Band, and Harmonix in general. As seemingly one of the few to still carry the rhythm game torch, I’ve decided to finally pick up Green Day: Rock Band. This was yet another eBay purchase, and at $17 brand new, I feel like I got a fine deal. There’s 47 songs on disc, so that value alone is worth the cost to a fan of the genre. I can’t really say why it took me so long to commit to this game. I suppose it’s probably the same issue that always comes up in my life: not enough money!

After popping it in the ole 360 and playing for a bit, I realized how perfect this game is for me. Not only am I a Rock Band fan, but over the past few years, I’ve been slowly getting into Green Day as well. I remember revisiting their American Idiot album no so long ago and thinking it was way better than I remembered it when it was initially released. Jesus of Suburbia and Homecoming are two legitimately great songs, and the accompanying tracks are no slouches either. Then, if I recall, one Bradley Shoemaker mentioned listening to their Dookie album while he would play F-Zero back in the day. Naturally I started to check out Dookie, and discovered what I had no idea I’d been missing out on all this time. So with all of this information, it’s hard to see why I wasn’t more excited about this game from it’s release. No matter, I have it now, and it’s a ton of fun.
 
The character models are all fairly accurate. 
One of the best things this game has going for it are the challenges. In order to unlock these challenges, you need to play through the career mode setlists. Once you’ve beaten enough songs you can start to unlock challenges such as playing the entire Dookie album start to finish, or more commonly, they’ll just give you a three song setlist. What actually makes these challenges worthwhile, though, is that after completing one, it unlocks a video clip under the awards menu. I’ve found these video clips are a pretty good incentive to play through all of the challenges. They range anywhere from funny interviews with the band, to full songs being played live on various tours and such. Some of the interview clips are pretty great and give you a good look at the band’s personalities. I haven’t unlocked all of the videos yet, but I definitely plan to. I may even jump on that right after I post this blog.

Another little touch that I really enjoy is the way the band is animated during songs. You can tell that a good amount of work went into giving each member lots of song-specific animations as well as random funny faces when appropriate (always). I forget which song it is, but one starts without any drums for a little bit, and Tre Cool gets up and trots around the stage a bit. Lots of subtle, yet good, Billie Joe and Mike Dirnt animations as well. It’s the little things that can make a big difference. The venues are also modeled well and are interesting, despite there only being three.

As far as my opinion on the setlist, it’s pretty dang solid. Dookie and American Idiot are there in their entirety. Then there’s the majority of their latest album 21st Century Breakdown. Beyond that there are some select tracks from a few other albums, Nimrod, Warning, and Insomniac. I personally would have enjoyed more of Nimrod and Warning, though. Those are great albums and it’s disappointing that in a Green Day specific game, they somehow couldn’t get more songs together.

I guess my overall thought on the game is that it is extremely fun and definitely worth playing; however, keep in mind that this opinion is coming from someone seemingly in the absolute ideal demographic for this game.


 I don’t want to talk about any news this week. I’m too tired. Besides that, the big story is still the PSN outage, and god knows I’m not going to talk about that. I’m also still trying to come up with a new news banner that looks decent, so probably better to just move along.

What other random things can I talk about to wrap this up? For some inexplicable reason, I’ve been using Formspring again. If you ever have the urge to ask a dude anything, I’m here for ya.

Props to Adam Boyes and Johnny V for running some hilarious live streams earlier in the week. They’re off doing unimaginable things in Mexico right now for JV’s bachelor party. I hope everyone makes it home in one piece.

That’s all that’s coming to mind. My god, it’s May already. Have a good May, everyone.

<3
--JJ 
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Cloudy With a Chance of Gaming -- 4/24/2011



Happy Easter Sunday, everyone! I always feel a bit weird celebrating these religious holidays like Christmas and Easter. It’s really more of an excuse for my family to get together and eat though, more than anything else. Later today I’ll be heading over to my grandma’s house for a meal that will no doubt be entirely too large. It’s kind of a shame that I’m not feeling so well today. I’ll probably not eat a whole lot, but there’s always leftovers.

As all my fellow dedicated Whiskey duders are already aware, the sites went down for a good two days or so. That was rough. It seems kind of sad when I’m sitting in the Steam chat for hours listening to Dave’s (amazing) radio show and waiting for a few web sites to go live again. That’s totally a testament to Whiskey’s sites, though. I’m obviously a huge fan of them, and I was out of sorts when I couldn’t get my fix. I’m glad everything’s back to normal, even though there was definitely some kind of sick joy in the way that everything played out. Huge props to the whole Whiskey team for doing a bunch of crazy shit to keep us loyal fans entertained. Dave, you seriously should consider doing a full-time radio show. Listening to that was such a great and unexpected joy as a result of the sites temporarily biting the dust. I’ve noticed that that’s a general trend in life. Something bad happens, then that leads to something good that you’d have never gotten to experience otherwise. Things are never as bad as they seem they may be, and there’s always an upside. So thanks again to Whiskey for making sure that trend rang true.

I played some games this week. Weird, right? I finally received my wired 360 controller in the mail from Amazon a few days ago, so I started playing Max Payne on PC; Steam sales strike again. I also played a crap-ton of Borderlands, which I’ll talk about a bit later. As far as things outside of gaming, I’ve been watching a lot of basketball.
 

I made a promise that I’d let you guys know exactly what’s happened in the NBA Playoffs regarding the Portland Trail Blazers in this week’s blog. The time is now! I’m sure some of you will read this section. Of course the majority of you are likely going to move on to the next section because this is a video game website, and what am I doing writing about basketball? Completely understandable, but if you go that route, you’ll never know what you’ve missed. This Blazers/Mavericks first round Playoff series has been as exciting as a fan could ask. Venture into the realm of basketball with me.

Where will amazing happen, you ask? None other than the Rose Garden Arena in Portland. The game that wrapped up last night (game 4) was undoubtedly the greatest Playoff comeback victory in Portland franchise history, and one of the best comebacks in Playoff history. Period.

The game started as awful as could be. The Mavs played tough defense and held the Blazers to just 11 points in the first quarter. The Blazers got back on track a bit in the second quarter scoring a better 24 points. Things started to slip again in the third quarter when the Blazers came out of halftime missing their first 15 (!) shots from the field. That’s not gonna win games. They rallied and brought their third quarter score up to 14, only due to a desperation three at the buzzer. At this point the Mavs had taken their opportunity to get on track and pull away with the lead as Portland continued to struggle. The Mavs lead was at 24 just before the fourth quarter. Things looked insurmountable as the Portland offense could just never get going. Barely managing 45 points before the start of the fourth quarter should lead to a loss. Something happened on this magical afternoon, though. Brandon Roy showed up.

Dawww! Brandon Roy with little Brandon Jr. 
As most of you probably aren’t aware of who Brandon Roy is, he’s Portland’s former All-Star. Three-time All-Star in fact, and don’t forget rookie of the year in 2007. He was working his way into the conversation of being the best shooting guard in the Western Conference along with Kobe Bryant. This was all before some extremely unfortunate injuries to Brandon’s knees over the past couple of years. Little injury after little injury eventually took their toll and Brandon ended up having most of the meniscus taken out of his knees. That means no cushion in his knees. Bones now rub against other bones, and its just bad news. Long story short, lots of people in this city, as well as around the nation, were saying that Brandon was essentially done. That he’d never reach his former level of play again. It seemed like a sad reality at times when he’d come off the bench for 15 or so minutes a game, and score just two points. To sprinkle a bit of drama on all of this, Brandon made national news for sating frustrations after being the last player off the Portland bench in game two against the Mavs, and ultimately being very ineffective. Brandon also stated in an interview that during that ineffective game two, he was sitting on the bench telling himself that he couldn’t start crying. That may sound like he’s just throwing a fit, but in his situation, it’s understandable. Going from the face of the franchise, do-no-wrong Brandon Roy, to an ineffective benchwarmer in a very short amount of time would be hard for anyone. Especially someone like Brandon who is such a competitor. I can’t even imagine how helpless he felt as Dallas won games one and two.

With that bit of history, game four became so much more than it would have regularly been. If you remember, Portland was struggling mightily shooting the ball. Scoring wasn’t coming easy, and they went into the fourth quarter down something like 19 points. When a team’s down by that much going into the fourth quarter, they obviously have a hard time winning. Portland needed something to click. They needed a miracle. Well, Brandon carried the momentum of his third quarter buzzer-beating three into the fourth. He hit an elbow jumper here, a drive down the lane for a layup there. He even got the ball to scorers in spots for them to score a bit as well. By about the three minute mark, the game had been brought back to a single-digit lead. Brandon Roy was hitting threes all over the floor. He even was fouled on a three, made the shot, and got himself a four point play. He was just hitting shot after shot. It was as if he was his old self again, doing everything. Brandon’s final bit of magic came when he gave the blazers a two point lead after banking in a go-ahead floater with about 30 seconds left. A couple more shots were taken after that, but none were made, and the Blazers pulled out the game in miraculous fashion on the shoulders of Brandon Roy. Roy scored 18 points in the fourth quarter, which is insane. That’s a decent total for an entire game. As one ESPN reporter aptly described the performance:

“ Brandon Roy, who has no knees but apparently unlimited heart, outscored the Mavs by himself in the fourth quarter to carry the Blazers to the biggest comeback in Portland playoff history. “

Edit: Just stumbled across this fan-made video that tells the story of game 4 nicely. Check it out:
  

What looked like a sure loss ended in the delight of Portland fans everywhere. The series now stands at 2-2. Each team is in need of two more wins in this best-of-seven series. Each has won both of their home games thus far, but Dallas has the higher seed and homecourt advantage. That means Portland’s going to have to take one in Dallas in order to win this series. Considering the Blazers never won there in the regular season either, it could be tough. I have supreme confidence in them after this last game though. Any team that can show enough poise to come back in that kind of fashion is capable of winning on any given night. Even in Dallas.
  
 If you want to watch the rest of this series play out, you may be able to catch the remaining games on TNT. If not there, then most likely on NBA TV. I can’t promise crazy-ass historic comebacks every game (nor would I want them), but these two teams have been brawling so far. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see a lot more exciting basketball played before the series is over. Let’s get out of this damn first round, Portland!

  
Reusing banners makes me happy, so there it is. No point in making a new one, really. So yeah, I continue to truck in Borderlands. Last week I’d only gotten my Siren through level ten if I recall, and really hadn’t gotten into the meat of the game. I’d say I’ve definitely gotten into the meat now though, as I’ve beaten the main storyline. I’ve come to a realization during all of this: Shooting dudes in the face is super fun. It’s slightly baffling that Borderlands manages to make shooting alone so fun. The sheer variety of weaponry that finds its way into your possession over the entirety of the game provides seemingly eternal satisfaction. Tired of shooting dudes completely in-half with your badass revolver? Switch to that new crazy alien gun that you picked up and use that for a while. Now switch to an SMG or combat rifle with incendiary damage and you can have yourself another new experience. I like that aspect a lot. The ability to find a super crazy gun at any given time keeps the game exciting. Loot--there’s nothing quite like it.

Of course, I may have kinda, sorta cheated a bit in my loot gathering. I’ve been jumping into co-op with Borderlands Professional and Whiskey User Extraordinaire, Sparklykiss. The first time we played, within probably a minute there was an enormous pile of very expensive guns, class mods, artifacts, etc. on the ground. I was overwhelmed, but ended up doing as instructed and selling the majority of it for mad cash. I was level ten, and had over a million Borderlands dollars. I think that I kept a gun or two as well for some reason. I’m still not to the point that I could use the majority of that stuff. So anyway, that was very kind. I got a jump start, and then lots of power levels. So many levels! We completed some missions co-op and of course ended up achievement hunting throughout. I already have 43 achievements and 835 points, all thanks to Sparklykiss. Thanks so much for the help; you’re awesome! We still have to do that Mad Moxxi stuff at some point. I’m not sure why exactly, but your two missing achievements get my OCD juices flowing. When you’re that close to an S-rank, you’ve gotta snag it. I may have an achievement addiction...

Anyway, as amazing as Borderlands is, there’s definitely some technical issues I had with it. The framerate--while usually not an issue--becomes a problem when looking through a scope and shooting a dude’s head off. I’m not sure if the scope part has anything to do with anything, but the spurting blood probably doesn’t help the frames’ cause. It gets real choppy; shockingly choppy even, in spots. It’s not at all game-breaking since it’s just every now and then, but it’s something that probably wouldn’t be an issue on the PC version. there are some pretty harsh texture pops as well, but that’s almost completely a non-issue. It would be nice if it didn’t happen, but I’m not that much of a whiner to complain about little things like that. I don’t know if anyone else had this problem, but I had a few instances where I fell into spots of the map that were almost impossible to escape from. I believe I did end up escaping each time, but I didn’t think I would be able to a few times. It almost seems like there should be a reset position function or something, similar to racing games. Or maybe just block off the useless cracks and crevices a bit better.

Even after completing the main storyline, I still have quite a bit to do. As mentioned last week, I picked up the GOTY version with each DLC pack. I haven’t touched those yet, so I’m really looking forward to doing that. I totally want to go back through the main game as another class now as well. I’m just going to say it again: hell of a lot of game for just $19.99.


Claptrap Proposes [source]

Fellow user Vortexus1981 actually posted this on the forums earlier, but I want to keep the Borderlands theme rolling for a bit here. The jist of it is that a couple, a guy named Ben and a gal named Tora, love playing Borderlands together, so Ben asked Gearbox for some help with a marriage proposal. The result is this amazingly awesome video of Claptrap being Claptrap. It’s a must-see: 
  
  
I’m super impressed that Gearbox would go out of their way to create something like this. According to Kotaku’s article, it took a week to make. As I mentioned in Vortexus1981’s thread, I’m really starting to love Gearbox. Randy Pitchford is awesome of course, but between the quality games that Gearbox has always released, the fact that they’re releasing the unreleasable DNF, and then things like this, they just seem like some great people. Everyone seems to be turning on BioWare after DAII, but they’re probably still my favorite dev. Gearbox has been clawing its way up my personal list though. Maybe I should make a list of favorite devs with the GB list feature!

More Poke-uh-mans are comin’ [source]

According to a Destructoid article, a new Pokemon game may be announced next month. No details have been announced, or even rumored it appears. Of course it could be Pokemon Gray, which seems likely considering that they’re made those follow-up games to every previous generation. The Destructoid editor seems to think it’ll be a spin-off game though; something like Pokemon Snap. I have to admit, Pokemon Snap on a 3DS, with the 3D cameras, could be kind of amazing. If it’s nothing more than Pokemon Gray, then color me uninterested. I still have Black to beat, and generally those follow-up games don’t add a lot of new content. 

For some reason Pokemon game speculation always interests me. I blame growing up with the Red Version. *shrugs*


OK, deep breath. Let’s finish this extra-long blog extravaganza. I’ll lay the blame on Easter for this one. No idea why, however. Holidays inspire writing I suppose.

Well, really no good reason to talk about my birthday right now as it’s not until May 12th, but I will anyway. I’ll be 21 soon and that’s kinda cool I guess. I’m far from being “that guy” that goes out and gets super drunk on their 21st birthday. I can almost drink legally now, but I’m not exactly dying to. I don’t understand the need some people have to drink until they can’t feel feelings anymore (Family Guy reference :D) and then vomit into the toilet all night. I’d like to avoid that, thanks. I may take a shot or something, but that’ll probably be the end of it. I love my liver, and I wouldn’t want it to suffer any more than necessary. The biggest upside that I can see of turning 21 would be the ability to work at places that serve booze. There’s this awesome pizza place that I’ve always wanted to work for, but you have to be 21. Anyway, any of you duders feel the same way? It may make me boring, but whatever.  :/

I hope everyone enjoys their holiday.

<3 
--JJ
25 Comments

Cloudy With a Chance of Gaming -- 4/17/2011


Blog facelift, go! I’ve put some work into creating some new banners, as you can see. I think this is already the third “style” I’ve gone with in this blog’s short history, but that’s OK. I’ll keep reinventing the look until I get to a point where I don’t find it ugly after a couple of weeks. Maybe I’ll stick with this for a while. You’ll have to come back in the following weeks to see if it changes! Wow, that’s not at all a compelling reason to come back. What would be a compelling reason to read my blogs? I suppose what I like in blogs are for them to be about things that interest me, and at the same time be entertaining to read. I can’t, to a great degree, control the former, but I’ll give the latter my best shot! Or maybe I should just check out FunExplosions’ blog.

As a quick aside, I should mention that I finally got my NBA 2K11 S-rank! Totally psyched about that. I detailed my struggles in acquiring this one on last week’s blog. No need to read that frustration-filled rant though. The important thing is that I finally have it. It’s all mine. My own. My precious! OK, I definitely need to take a break from obsessively S-ranking for a while. Onwards and upwards!


For reasons that most can probably guess, I’m finally playing Reach. Despite being a Halo fan since Combat Evolved, I’d never gotten around to buying, or even playing, Reach. Until now, of course. I was shipped a shady package which contained a shady disc and a shady set of instructions. Microsoft can be as shady as they’d like so long as I get some “Loot Or Other Things” out of it. That’s probably enough sidestepping around beta testing details. Wouldn’t want to get in trouble now. On to the game at hand.

It’s a lot better than I’d expected. That’s saying quite a bit too as I expected a pretty good game. I’m not too far into the campaign, so I can’t say a lot there, but the multiplayer seems fantastic. Ya know, the fact that I haven’t played a competitive multiplayer FPS in such a long time probably changes my viewpoint here, but so be it. I found Reach’s multiplayer to be downright fantastic. It’s a Halo game in all of it’s glory. Playing it brings back the good memories of killin’ dudes back when that was in style.

Oh, Boarding Action. You wuz so crazy. 
The maps that I’ve come across thus far has been pretty great. There’s new ones that are fresh and really super exciting, but then there’s also a great mix of oldies thrown in there too. Of course the old maps received facelifts, but they aptly carry the spirit of their ancestors. There’s almost direct remakes, such as the Ivory Tower clone. But then there’s more spiritual successors such as Sword Base. That map gives off all kinds of Boarding Action vibes. for some reason, the same maps seem to pop up a lot, but that could be an effect of my playing only Team Slayer, as well as not owning any DLC. It’s weird to me, but I’ve actually been considering buying the map packs for Reach. God, I haven’t bought map packs since probably the early Halo 2 days. Actually I’m not even sure I ever bought those. I think I waited it out and picked ‘em up for free eventually. Either way though, Reach is making me consider buying maps, which is something I almost never even consider.

I haven’t even touched the Forge stuff. That’s an aspect that I found super interesting pre-release, so I’ll definitely give that a look-see. I also haven’t bought anything from the Armory since I first created my profile. I probably have a mountain of credits to spend. I don’t know why I keep forgetting to do that. I guess I just don’t care that much about the visual stuff. Gimmie more to shoot! I’m falling deep into this Halo multiplayer hole. I’m not sure how deep I’ll go, but I’m going to let it happen. See you on the other side.


Hey, y’all, I finally picked up Borderlands. How late am I to the party? Oh shit, really? THAT late? Alright enough of that. Yes, I’m very late on this one, but I’m kinda glad I waited. I got a killer deal at Gamestop in return for my patience. $20 for a brand new Game of the Year version. For the uninitiated, that includes all four DLC expansions along with the core game of course. That’s one of the best deals I’ve seen, so I decided to finally pick it up. Simply buying each DLC pack would cost me $40, not even including the full game. Hell of a deal. Alright, yes, we all understand how great of a deal it was now. I’m sure you’re all very proud of my thriftiness. How’s the actual game, though?

Well, I popped it in last night and played a bit. Yo, it’s really good. I should probably mention that I have indeed played Borderlands before, but it was at a friends house on a PS3. We kind of just blasted through everything and I didn’t get to explore much of anything. Jumping into a fresh game, achievements popping, dudes screaming as they’re lit on fire. It’s good times. I’d say in the short time that I’ve played so far, I’ve been enjoying it more than I did when I played a bit the first time via PS3. I’m not sure how long I played, but I’m already at level 10. It felt like I got there pretty fast, but I was probably playing for a bit longer than it seemed.

I was playing solo, which is all well and good, but I have a feeling that this game is only truly great in co-op multiplayer. Maybe I’m wrong, but getting four duders together to blow the heads off of Skags and generally cause havoc sounds like a good time. I’m glad this game’s audience has been sustained, because I’ve already been making some plans to jump into co-op. A simple twitter message about me picking up the game and I’ve had several people wanting to co-op it up. Shoutout to fellow GB users Choffy, Sparklykiss, and Novyx! We gotta get that co-op on! If Sparklykiss’ achievements are to be believed, she aint messin’ around when it comes to Borderlands. So anyway, lookin’ forward to some co-op.

I almost forgot to mention, I started a Siren character. I named her JJ. Yeah, I’m a chick named JJ. Wanna fight about it? More to the point, I have basically no idea of how the classes are differentiated. I think I mainly just chose the Siren because the Soldier seems super played-out. Seriously, it seems like any time I hear about people playing Borderlands, they’re playing as the Soldier. That of course includes the rich and famous Jeff Gerstmann. I just wanted to go with something a little different I suppose. It’s not like with four choices that one’s actually rarely used, but whatever. Of course I’m also completely lost when it comes to the skill tree. I’ve dumped a few points into extra shields, and then a few others have a single point in them. I’m basically just winging it, but I have confidence that I’ll figure it all out eventually. I always do when it comes to such things.

A few things about the game seem to have been poorly explained--such as the fact that I apparently can’t carry health vials--but I’m figuring it all out. All that content for just $20. What a deal. I’ll definitely be sinking my teeth into this for quite some time.


Guitar Hero’s Comeback Tour [source]

This shouldn’t be any secret. Activision has recently spoken out stating that the Guitar Hero franchise is not dead. As we heard news of the series being canned, I can remember the wording leaving the door open for future iterations sometime post-2011. Of course they’d say that. It makes perfect sense to keep the brand on the back-burner in case Activision ever deems the franchise profitable again. There'd be little point in completely killing it off. The interesting question is when and under what circumstances would Activision choose to revive the franchise?

Would they wait until Rock Band fades away completely? It would makes sense to me that selling a product unopposed would lead to some inevitable sales. If they did choose to wait until Rock Band loses its relevance, then who knows how long that could be. Of course Rock Band’s popularity is in decline along with every other rhythm game out there, but Harmonix has made it sound like they’re still going to continue the Rock Band platform. I think waiting out Harmonix would probably be the best option for Activison, but it’s hard to say if even die-hard fans will be interested in the games by the time Harmonix bows out.

The second option would be to obviously skip 2011, and maybe put out a new Guitar Hero in 2012. That would seems a bit soon to revive the once-declared-dead series, but maybe they only need a year to regroup. That’s actually what Activision makes it sound like in this quote:

"Actually, just to clarify, we're just putting Guitar Hero on hiatus, we're not ending it," Winters explained. "We're releasing products out of the vault - we'll continue to sustain the channel, the brand won't go away. We're just not making a new one for next year, that's all."


So what if Activision revived the series in 2012? As a rabid Harmonix fan, I’d be pretty disappointed. As far as I’m concerned, Activision has contributed all they can to the rhythm game genre--which wasn’t much. I honestly can’t see any return of the GH series being anything but a giant sigh-inducer. I see it as kind of a sad thing, too. I think the game designers for Guitar Hero (whoever they may be) were probably just as talented as the Harmonix designers. I think what really holds this series back is Activision. I’m not claiming to be a game designer that knows how the industry works or anything like that, but it seems to me that the owners of the Guitar Hero IP (Activision) would exert a good amount of pressure onto the developers of the games to make them a certain way. This of course would be to preserve the game that so many people enjoyed years ago, but I think they just need some freedom to branch out a bit now. Maybe Activision will grant that freedom should they release a new game in 2012, or even 2013. I think Guitar Hero can be interesting again, but the developers need freedom. We saw a bit of this branching out in Warriors of Rock, but I think the changes need to be more meaningful. Whatever the situation, most of the old Guitar Hero devs have been canned. Any new game will be made by a fresh set of duders. That alone could do wonders.

The Humongous "Wii 2" Rumors [source]

I was visiting family up in Washington State earlier this week, so I was late to the party hearing about all of these Nintendo console rumors. From what I can gather, nothing has been confirmed. Everything is strictly rumor. But man, I’d be lying if I told you that these rumors don’t excite me. Some are very strange, but after the Wii, I wouldn’t put much past Nintendo. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to go through each rumor and either accept it, or call BS.

Game Informer kicks the rumor mill into gear with its initial report, claiming the "Nintendo HD" will be unveiled at E3 in June. The system "is capable of running games at HD resolutions," Game Informer writes, and will see a "late 2012 launch." It reportedly won't bear the Wii name.


OK, sure. Seems perfectly plausible to me. I mean, HD seems like an absolute must at this point. The PS3 and Xbox have been running HD games since 2005. That has to happen. If it doesn’t, I will personally film one of those videos where I stand in line for days to get the first console, and then proceed to smash it on the ground in front of everyone. OK, I’d never do that, but those videos are always fun in a painful kind of way. Anyway, HD; It’s happening. As far as the name change, it seems a bit less likely. Wii is an incredibly enormous name at this point. I’d think Nintendo would take some kind of advantage of that.

IGN adds its own report, saying that Nintendo's Wii successor is "significantly more powerful" than Sony and Microsoft's current consoles. IGN news director Jim Reilly adds "that the console will be backwards compatible with current Wii software" and that an official "pre-announcement" is due sometime in April.


Also plausible for the same reasons as before. If it’s not a more powerful console than the Xbox 360 and PS3, then what are they doing over there in Nintendo land? Microsoft and Sony are obviously going to be stepping up their games, so Nintendo needs to make the biggest tech leap of the three. This needs to be comparable with the next gen Xboxes and the PS4. As far as running old software, I can see that. Nintendo was great about that with the Gamecube after the Wii was released. The only question mark is that most Wii games use funky motion controls that this new console may or may not be able to support. It seems that it would depend on however the controller turns out.

Well, then there’s the controller rumors.

CVG weighs in with its own unconfirmed reports, this time about the system's controller. They say the Wii 2's gamepad will "feature a built-in HD screen." CVG backs up earlier reports about the system's horsepower and Nintendo's launch plans.


French site 01net chimes in, saying the Wii 2 is codenamed "Project Cafe" and that its controller will include a touch sensitive screen measuring 6 inches, features a front-facing camera and can double as a Wii Remote sensor bar.


IGN later adds that "Players will actually be able to stream game content to the controller screen from the console. It's unclear at this time what type of content it will be, whether it's full games you can take with you on the go, mini-games or applications." IGN later posts a mock-up of the system's controller.


 I'm calling BS
OK, this is where it gets a little too crazy. As I said before, I wouldn’t put much past Nintendo, but a controller with a touch screen on it seems like too much. I’ll say right now that I doubt this one is true, but what if it were? What kind of touch screen would it be? Capacitive would surely be too expensive to put in every controller. If I had to guess, It’ll probably be a crappy resistive touch screen like what’s in the DS. That’s fine I suppose, but in my experience, capacitive works a whole lot better when using your hands as opposed to a stylus. Also, I’d think the controller weight or general size may be an issue with a screen built in. I simply can’t imagine a controller with a screen built in being comfortable to hold and be functional at the same time. If there’s a company that can pull off a controller like this though, it’s probably Nintendo. Really interested in seeing some facts regarding this, but for now I’m a doubter in the controller screen.

I’ll stop before this is entirely too long (too late?). Besides, this has probably been discussed to death on the forums already while I was away. Rightfully so though. New console launches are almost always incredibly exciting. I hope we all get some harder facts sometime soon.


Time to close this sucker down. If you liked the new blog style, then lemme know! Or if you hate it, then lemme know that as well! I’ve done some unorthodox things in terms or using HTML to insert the images. I really have no idea if it’ll completely eff up on someone’s monitor. I’m really hoping that doesn’t happen, but please tell me if it does because I'll definitely make some adjustments. I’m still trying to figure this all out.

This wouldn’t be one of my blogs if it didn’t mention the Portland Trail Blazers! There. They’ve been mentioned. Do I really need to describe in detail how they lost in game one of the NBA Playoffs against the Mavericks?  *sigh*  They’ll bounce back and all will be well. I’m unsure of the exact schedule, but maybe they’ll bounce back with a vengeance and take the next four in a row, winning the series. In that case the series could be over by next Sunday. Hey, I can dream. Whatever happens, you’d better believe I’m going to let you know about it. Have a good one, everyone.

<3
--JJ
43 Comments

Cloudy With a Chance of Gaming -- 4/10/2011


I don't like my banners anymore. I'll make new (hopefully better) ones when I have the time.

I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been super tired of the internet recently. Not exactly the internet itself, but more the people that populate it. Even while visiting Giant Bomb as of late I’ve found myself reading specific forum posts and then thinking to myself, “Wow. Shut up. *sigh*” Something along those lines anyway. Not that that’s never happened before, but it just seems like I can’t even spend five minutes browsing the forums anymore before it inevitably happens. And before I’d usually just move on to another thread, but recently I’ve felt the need to close the browser after reading such posts. It’s not all bad since it’s given me more time to actually play video games or do other things. I think it’s just internet fatigue of some sort. It’ll probably pass at some point. I’d be interested in hearing if other people have ever felt the same way.

Anyway with all that extra time, you’d think I’d get around to playing all of those games that I may have said I’d play on last week’s blog. Well, things never go according to plan. Instead of playing anything new and interesting, I played none other than NBA 2K11. Yep, all week long. I can at least claim that the time spent went towards something semi-meaningful though. I’ve been working on an S-rank. We all love S-ranks here, so my motivations should be clear. I think the last time I S-ranked a basketball game may have been like four or five years ago. I always get right up to the last few achievements and then quit when I’d only have to win a handful of ranked matches in a row, or start an online crew and win a game there. It’s achievements like those that usually hold me down. This time though, I brought some determination to the table. Instead of laying down and accepting that I’d never S-rank this game, I headed over to xbox360achievements.org and got my guide on.

I found some boosting partners for one particular achievement that requires assembling a rag-tag crew of a basketball team and taking them online to nab a win. What a horrible achievement this is. Seriously, there are so many levels of awful; it’s almost unbelievable. In order to complete this achievement, you’re forced to get together with at least one other person and form a crew. This isn’t that big of an issue, but a pain for me none-the-less due to me having to jump onto some message boards just to find a teammate. I found one and we hooked up the following day. At that point this other guy had already grabbed a couple more people to form their own crew so that we could play against them. This just makes for easy boosting since the two teams can let each other win. Well, it would be easy if it was fucking possible to ever find your boosting partners! We tried all of the tricks: changing the clocks time zone, changing location, and of course searching at exactly the same time. How do two teams in the London timezone not find each other under these circumstances? Considering it was like 3AM in London at the time, I say it’s bullshit. We searched forever to no avail. But it’s not over. Finally me and another guy decide to just play whoever we can find and try to win. Well, we play a team and win! Fuck yes! But wait, the achievement didn’t unlock? Crap! OK, damn, lets just try again. The internet says the achievement’s a bit buggy. After waiting forever to be connected yet again with anyone we can find, we totally won again! But what will happen? That’s right, the bitch nugget of an achievement still refuses to pop. God dammit 2K. At this point we combine forces of the two crews in order to form a four man team and try to find another random crew. We got that all set up, find some other crew, and when the game was said and done, we came out on the losing end. Oh this is the best part though: The two previous wins didn’t count on the leaderboard (therefore no achievement), but upon entering the lobby after the loss, it did register the god-damned loss. *SIGH* At that point we called it quits for the night. 

I’ll just cut to the chase and say that we got back together a couple of nights after and finally got the achievement. We were forced to beat another random crew to get it since we again tried and failed to find each other, but dammit we finally got it. I was so incredibly happy when that achievement popped. It was like I was stranded on a desert island for a week with very little water, and all of a sudden a coconut full of magical delicious coconut milk cracked open over me and poured out for me to gulp down. It was exactly like that. I took a moment to enjoy the achievement, but then it was back to work. I’m currently still making progress on the last two achievements in the game. The S-rank is close. I can almost taste it. All I have left to do is get my “My Player” mode character into the All-Star game. That requires lots of playtime and I’m not gonna lie, it’s feeling a bit tedious. I must persevere! Oh and if you’re wondering, the final achievement is one that unlocks after you unlock all of the other ones. So really, I just have the one to go. How many people would I punch in the face if that final achievement glitches out on me and there’s no way to try unlocking it again? Let’s just not think that way, shall we? (A lot. The answer is a lot of people. Right in the face.)

Since I really don't have any other video game-related ventures to speak of this week, I'll just move on to news.

Asshole Goes To Jail [source]

Best headline ever? Why thank you. I came up with it myself. Anyway, I'd never heard about this, but apparently some dude grave-robbed a kid and stole his Gameboy and games. What the hell?! Why would he do that?! That was back in December, but he got off with probation for it. Now he's getting what he's due and going to jail after driving drunk. What a moron.

Of course this whole situation begs the question: Why exactly did the kid have a Gameboy and games inside his casket? I'm not trying to talk bad about the dead, but that seems at least a bit odd to me. I guess having it is not as odd as stealing it from the casket though. Just another exhibit to display when proving that humanity is doomed.

Dude Makes Music With a Gameboy [source]

I wasn't exactly sure what to expect of this story when first stumbling upon it. Turns out that some truly amazing things are recorded and put on YouTube. Who knew?
  

There's a free MP3 download in the description of the YouTube video if you should need a Gameboy music fix on the go.

A New Commodore 64 [source]

Whaaat? The Commodore 64 is being revived? Apparently so. As someone that was born too late to experience the Commodore in all of it's glory, this is actually pretty awesome. If you want to check out all of this thing's modern additions, check this official page out. This thing is retro meets modern, and seems absolutely brilliant. I'd love to get my hands on one of these, but sadly, if you want the ultimate version that comes with a 1 TB HDD, Blu-Ray drive, etc. it'll cost a heaping $900 USD. That's a bit much if you ask me. Even the absolute barebones version is a heafty heafty heafty $250. I'm looking for a price that's a bit more wimpy. I love the sheer fact that this exists though.

I feel like getting rid of the silver bars on the sides would be a good thing to do to change up the banners. It would be a nice start anyway. Just a random thought.

Second random thought: I got a wedding invitation from my friend today. I've known him since the fifth grade, but we don't keep in touch nearly as much anymore despite him still living close by. So that was surprising. I feel so incredibly old now that my friends are getting married. Man, that's sooo weird to think about. I'm not even 21 quite yet. I'm kind of excited to go to the wedding though. Should be fun.

Sorry I didn't have more games to write about, but the fact that I played one game all week shows a lot of dedication. I'm so dedicated. Dedication emanates from me as clearly as body odor emanates from Shaq after a game. But enough of the disgusting figurative language. Some day I may get around to playing the rest of the third episode of the Back To The Future game. That'll be fun! Jade Empire awaits, as does Brutal Legend. Not to mention the Undead Nightmare pack that I only played about an hour of. Oh and crap, I still meant to play some more NFS Hot Pursuit. Of course the never-ending (in the best possible way) Dragon Age Origins is still waiting for me as well. Jeez, I'd better get outta here and go play something for christ's sake!

But before I go, I want to reiterate what was already stated in a blog I posted yeaterday. The Blazers beat the Lakers! I'm sure most people know, but the Lakers are the defending champs and that was a pretty huge game to get considering the fighting for playoff seeding that's going on. Go Blazers? Rip City? Boom Shakalacka? All of those things. Each and every one of them.

Love from Rip City,
--JJWeatherman
16 Comments

Bring on the Lakers in the Playoffs

Hey yo, the Blazers beat the Lakers last night. That's right Kobe, your ridiculous barrage of threes couldn't save your team this time. The Blazers threw lobs for days and came out on top. Just wanted this to be known. It's important!!  =P



Gerald Wallace was a huge contributor on both ends of the floor as well as being a great source of toughness against guys like Ron Artest. Gerald doesn't back down, even from this:

We'll take the Lakers on in the Playoffs if it comes to it! Bring it on! Come at me bro!

 Sorry, kind of an inside joke

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