Today I had my first experience with Sushi. In suburban Michigan.

So at first thought, suburban Michigan doesn't exactly seem like the most sensible place to open a new Sushi restaurant- though in the past decade, we've attracted a ton of Asian immigrants of all flavors. My town is home to both the Dow Chemical headquarters, and has a decent business university I attend, so it kinda makes sense. Anyway, I've never actually had sushi before, so I figured it'd just go for it. What I ordered was a meal consisting of 10 assorted Sushi pieces, some tuna roll, and some miso soup. I wasn't sure which fish was which, so I took a few pictures so I could identify it later. I'm pretty sure what I got was Tuna, Salmon, Spanish Mackerel and Crab (...Krab?) Keep in mind that the quality of these pictures isn't great, the real deal was actually much more colorful- here they are:  
  

 

So, my feelings on this experience are mixed. On one hand, I despise krab- the ground-up whitefish dyed to look like real crab is off-putting in taste, texture, smell... I'm just not a fan, however, though today I found out I really like the sushi rice- it's sticky, sweet, salty and kinda tangy (there's vinegar in it, right? I watched a Good Eats episode about this before ordering). The tuna roll and tuna nagari were OK. It wasn't especially flavorful, but with a little wasabi and a dab of soy sauce, it's definitely not off-putting (it was a little... fishy.) The salmon and Spanish mackerel on the other hand, were fantastic. Extremely flavorful and not 'fishy' at all. It's good stuff! 
 
Overall, I liked what I ate. I get that this isn't top-grade stuff, I'm sure the real fresh stuff near the coast is on another level, but for a first experience, I'm just pleased I didn't hate the stuff.
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A somewhat tragic tale of three lists

I'll start out by saying this has been a pretty rough year for me (from a gaming perspective anyway, the rest of my life has actually been going pretty smooth.) I began the year by proclaiming that I wasn't going to miss out on half of the great games that come out this time around, that I was going to play everything that interested me! Well, that didn't exactly happen- for a couple of reasons. First, some of you know that I've been working at a pizza joint for the past few years. Early this year, one of the managers there went to jail (yeah, I work with a bunch of scumbags). I wasn't exactly looking for a promotion, because I'm also a full-time business student, but my boss needed me, so I took the job and became a full-time manager. I went from working 20-25 hours a week, to working around 40. You can probably guess that it's been cutting into my free time, but I've also increased my class load (next semester, I'll be doing 16 hour school weeks, too). Anyway- I obviously failed at my gaming goal-, only being able to play maybe half of what I would've liked (not to mention the time I spent playing older PS3 games for the first time, like Uncharted 1 & 2, Metal Gear Solid 4, Resistance 1 & 2 etc) and the time I spent playing WoW (which I 'quit' playing again about 4 months ago). Anyway, everyone seems to be making up their top ten lists... I'm going to take it a step farther. Here's a list of my personal top ten for the year, VAGUELY structured in order from best to less-best. I've also put together a list of the games I sincerely wish I had the chance to play, and also the games I'm looking forward to in 2012 (which promises to be even better than this year!

Top Ten 2011 Games I've Played This Year:

  • Portal 2:

I fucking loved Portal 2! My God, the voiceover from GlaDOS, Wheetley, Cave Johnson- all fantastic! I think I had more fun with the co-op than with any other game this year.

  • Uncharted 3

I guess I'm one of the few people who enjoyed Uncharted 3 more than Uncharted 2. The desert, caravan, sinking ship, crashing plane and final sequences were just better than anything Uncharted 2 had to offer. I honestly liked the Sully/Drake relationship more than the double-cross happy love triangle they stuck you with in the first game- and they handled the supernatural elements MUCH better. LOVE IT!

  • L.A.Noire

I guess I've got a high tolerance for repetition, because solving crime-after-crime didn't bother me one bit. It's a fairly simple game, all you're really doing is finding clues, interrogating suspects, and some very basic fighting and shooting, but something about it stuck with me... Maybe it was that outstanding facial animation?

  • Assassin's Creed: Revelations

Here's a newsflash! Brutally assassinating anyone who gets in your way is still pretty damn fun! Sure, the story wasn't as good as it's predecessor, and I didn't feel drawn to the assassin recruiting or town restoring as I did in Brotherhood, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with the latest Assassin's Creed.

  • Gears of War 3

I've been following the series since the beginning, but have still never played a round of it's multi-player. I know the story wasn't real deep or complex... but I've grown to love these guys, and they managed to end this story (which seemed so hopeless) in a way that didn't seem... completely stupid.

  • Dead Space 2

Man, Dead Space 2 came out in January... didn't it. I don't remember much about it... But I remember liking it! Clark is insane... there are necromorphs, that girl gets her eye jabbed out with a screwdriver... I should probably play through this again.

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

This should probably be higher on my list- but I haven't had a ton of time to play it yet. I'm maybe 10-15 hours in, and I can already tell that it's FANTASTIC... but I didn't finish the main story line, and haven't had much time to explore the extra content... who knows! Maybe this will turn out to be 2012's 2011 game of the year?!

  • Mortal Kombat:

Everyone knows why Mortal Kombat is great- it's a fighting game, with a kick-ass story mode, and some awesome one-on-one fighting (locally, anyway). I played Sub-Zero, and the first time I landed a Babality on my cousin... man, I loved Mortal Kombat.

  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters

I barely know what prompted me to play this game- I mean, the last golf game I really enjoyed was Mario Golf for Gamecube. I guess I watched my uncle play for a bit then had to buy it myself. I think the reason I liked it so much is because I was able to make my custom golfer look IDENTICAL to me, then I kicked Tigers ass and won the masters tournament. Yeah, that was cool.

  • Resident Evil 4 HD

Just 'cause... you know.

Top Ten 2011 Games I Wish I Had Time For:

  • Saints Row the Third

I really should play Saints Row.

  • Deus Ex
  • Catherine
  • Bastion
  • Zelda
  • Batman: Arkham City
  • Rayman: Origins
  • Super Mario 3D Land
  • Rage
  • Dark Souls

Top Ten 2012 Games I Can't Wait to Play:

  • Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
  • Luigi's Mansion 2
  • Bioshock Infinite
  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
  • Darksiders 2
  • Diablo III
  • Borderlands 2
  • Uncharted: Golden Abyss
  • World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria
  • Max Payne 3

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Starting the show with a showstopper- Uncharted 2 & Metal Gear 4!

If you read my last blog about all this Playstation 3 stuff, you’ll know that I loved Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. Most of the comments last time claimed that Uncharted 2 would blow me away- and for the most part, they were right! Again, I’m not trying to write an in-depth review- but rather just share my thoughts about my experiences with the games I should have played years ago.

So Uncharted 2 is fucking great- but you already knew that. I actually finished it almost two weeks ago... I probably should have written this then- I’ve got all this Metal Gear Solid 4 stuck in my head. Anyway, the game is graphically suburb- especially for a game from 2009. It didn’t quite impress me as much as I had expected- the glassy eyes still kinda freak me out a bit, and I’ve been spoiled by LA Noire, but the action sequences (especially that train part) are pretty much unmatched- at least that I’ve seen. There’s a ton of variety too- Destroyed cities in Nepal, Borneo’s Jungles, the icy caves... and it all looks fantastic.

The gameplay is improved quite a bit- though it blows my mind that people’s main complaint with the first game was that the enemies were too ‘bullet spongy’. That first fight with the Protectors was insane. I thought I was doing something wrong at first, but sure enough, after roughly 10,000 bullets pumped into them, they die. After you kill one and steal it’s gold crossbow though, it’s all smooth sailing, but until then, what a pain! Maybe I was missing something. Also... there’s another fucking “Restore power to the generators!” section... I can’t wait until we move past this- it’s so cliché. It’s all worth it though- the train sequence, the parts where you’re jumping between the truck beds, the vertical climbing up the falling train- all amazing, and did I mention you destroy more helicopters than 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand?

I liked the story more than the first game too. Once again you’re racing to a treasure, but THIS particular treasure doesn’t curse you (unlike that damned El Dorado) but blesses you with invincibility and limitless power... unless you get too close to the exploding magic sap- in that case, you’ll be easily defeated by a Nolan North with a shotgun. The new characters are pretty good- even though I could see some of the twists coming from a mile away, I still enjoyed them just as much as I did the first time around.

I know that everyone else played this game in 2009, so maybe you’ve forgotten all of the mystical shit that goes on in these games- but the spider effects we’re seeing in the Uncharted 3 beta totally fit in with the fiction. Looking back, I still think Assassin’s Creed 2 is my ‘game of the year’ for 2009 (maybe I just like the openworldlyness of Assassin’s Creed more than the linearity of Uncharted)- but I couldn’t be more excited for the next game- can’t wait.

Now for Metal Gear Solid 4, which I just finished last night. Wow, they weren't kidding about that 90 minute cut-scene, eh? That game keeps going! It was great though. Man, I don’t even know where to start with this, I guess I’ll just start from the beginning.

My original plan was to play through each game in the Metal Gear series before playing MGS4... however, that fizzled out about half way through MGS1. What I ended up doing was downloading torrents of all the cut-scenes from Metal Gear Solid 1-3. No regrets though, I’m extremely glad I played MGS1 a few years ago, because it gave me just enough nostalgia to FREAK THE FUCK OUT when the game drops you into Shadow Moses in the style of MGS1- and without watching the cut-senes, I wouldn’t have understood all those great reference to past games- that awesome Mantis bit, why they keep focusing on the closet where Snake and Otacon first met, or why they keep referring to Snake and Ocelot as ‘twins’. I would have been totally lost, after all, I can’t name another game series that’s quite as intertwined from game to game. I’m not really sure what it is, but I love the story and characters in this series- Snake, Otacon, Raiden, they’re all awesome in their own way.

So for the first few hours, I wasn’t sure if I loved the game or hated the game. I loved that loading screen while installing the game! Who doesn’t want to watch Solid Snake smoke for 8 minutes? Once I actually had to control Snake, I hated it! Of course I had just come off of Uncharted where I was climbing all over the place- now this damn old man can’t climb over a two foot barrier. It takes an hour or two to get used to the controls and gameplay... and the usefulness of the Cardbord Box- but once you adjust, they work just fine. The OctoCamo shit was awesome- I’d switch to Young Snake w/ Bandana for awhile, then go back Old Snake.

The graphics are still pretty good- they haven’t aged quite well enough to blow me away, I’m pretty sure they’ve been surpassed several times, even on the 360- though the amount of cut-scene in this game would probably still prevent it from appearing there. I’ve always fucking loved David Hayter as Solid Snake- he’s probably my favorite voice actor other than Nolan North. I don’t really know what else to say about MGS4, but I’m sure every fan of the series has played it already, anyway. I’m not even going to bother with a story synopsis or anything- it was crazy that they managed to wrap everything up in a tight little package, and I loved every minute of it.

I went back and finally listened to the Giant Spoiler Snakecast, and was blown away by how much they enjoyed the game- especially Gerstmann- it was weird hearing him be so overwhelmingly positive about an experience he had with a game, that doesn’t happen often. Whatever, I’ve heard the rumors that Metal Gear Solid: Rising is stuck in some kind of development Hell, but at this point, it’s probably one of my most anticipated games.

So... now what. I already feel like I started the show with a show stopper. Should I continue down that route and play something like Killzone, Infamous, or God of War? Or should I play something a little less well received, like Resistance or SOCOM... or Lair or Haze... After all, gaming for me is a religion, and I’ve heard Haze is the shit.

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There's one more remake I'd like released with Halo Anniversary..

I'm not sure if I'm the only one who has fond memories of this game, but I fucking loved it. It was probably one of the first games I played all the way through in co-op mode. The music from that dancing sequence still pops into my mind from time to time... In fact, I'd say it has one of the best soundtracks out there. I remember the big gimmick of that game that it was built using the Halo engine.

I know it wouldn't be a small feat- remaking an entire game with a new engine. I know it doesn't really need it- like Halo, it still holds up for the most part. I just think it'd be hilarious to see another Stubbs game on the shelf, with the same "RE-built with the Halo engine" gimmick. Being able to toggle between the new and old graphics is a must. What do you think? Actually, I bet I already know... I'll leave you with this, you should probably just watch the whole thing.

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I purchase a Playstation 3, and venture into Uncharted territory!

I am so, so, SO sorry about that blog title! I know how this community feels about crappy, obvious puns and sincerely apologize for it!

Anyway, I don’t how I managed to make it five years without holding a PS3 controller- I guess at first it was about money, I was 16 and didn’t have $600 to spend on a game system. Then it was about the exclusives, I loved Halo 3, and didn’t know what Uncharted was, or didn’t care about Metal Gear. It’s been five years, there are PLENTY of PS3 exclusives that I want to play, and a recent promotion has put some spare cash in my pocket, so I decided to pick one up! It turned out to be harder than I expected- My local Best Buy and WalMart were both sold out of the 320gb model of PS3, I called the rest of the places in town (even GameStop) to find that they’re all out of stock. Obviously I ordered one from Amazon and had it two days later- Damn, love Amazon.

The UI experience has been pretty pleasant so far- aside from the fact that it was about 45 minutes from the time I started it up, to the time I was playing the game. The mandatory system and game updates were a bit annoying, but I guess that’s to be expected after the shit-storm Sony’s been through lately. I was also disappointed that I couldn’t install the games to the hard-drive! I mean, what did I buy the 320gb model for if I can’t install all my games to it? Definitely not a deal-breaker though.

So, the first game I played was Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune- which was fucking awesome! The first thing the game asks is “Do you want the subtitles turned on?”, which was great! It was like the developers know exactly how I like to play games. People have described the game to me as being like Assassin’s Creed 1- an OK game that was greatly improved upon for the sequel, but I actually really liked it. Perhaps it’s my unconditional love for Nolan North. I’m not really one for writing in-depth reviews, my writing’s just not that elegant (I should work on that- it’s a skill that seems important). Though I’ll give you a quick Idea of what I liked and didn’t.

The story was great- I mean, it wasn’t complex, original, or really imaginative in any way- Drake’s looking for a treasure (A giant golden statue- El Dorado) which happens to be cursed. There are a few twists thrown in, but it’s mostly predictable. Not that that’s a bad thing, it’s basically a homage to Indiana Jones, and the fact that I’m constantly being fed pure concentrated Nolan North made me love it- in fact all of the actors were great (except maybe the peons I was shooting in the face).

The gameplay? It was fine. It took me awhile to adjust to the Dualshock 3, I mean, you don’t shoot with the trigger? What the hell is that about? I got used to that real quick, it’s a total non-issue. Whenever the Bombcast guys mention the game, all they talk about is how bullet-spongy the enemies were- but I honestly didn’t find it to be a problem. I played on the default difficulty, and ammo was never an issue. Head-shots are easy to pull off, and if you shoot fast enough, enemies drop pretty quickly. Although, if there’s one concept I hate when playing games, it’s the unnecessary power outages, and the annoying “Find the generator!” sequences. I cringed uncontrollably when Elania told me to “Get the power back on!”

The graphics are fine- it looks better than most of the Xbox 360 launch titles, and I can’t wait to see what Uncharted 2 looks like. There were a few quirks- Nathan Drake wears the ring of his ancestor, Frances Drake, around his neck at all times. At one point, he removes it, and leaves it behind. It’s missing during the game-play sequences, but he’s magically wearing it again during the next cut-scene! Then it’s missing again- it’s not a big deal, but I totally noticed it.

This entire blog probably seems outdated and unnecessary to anyone who own a Playstation 3, but this is a new experience for me, and I feel like writing about it! Oh, by the way, I only know two dudes who own PS3s, so my friends list is pretty empty. If you’ve got one, feel free to add TooWalrus. Thanks for reading!

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A possible 'goodbye', just in case I die on the operating table.

Let me start by saying that I'm 20, and still wearing braces on my teeth. I've had them since I was 18, and over that time, they've managed to straighten my teeth out. However, I've got an overbite from hell. You see, your upper teeth are slightly in front of your lower teeth when your jaw in closed, though in my case, my upper teeth land directly on top of my lower teeth. The result is a massive gap, with my jaw completely closed, I can fit a credit card through the teeth. You can probably imagine how much this sucks. When eating sandwiches, I'm unable to bite through lettuce, cheese, etc. I know, a nightmare, right? 
 
So about a year ago, my orthodontist gave me a choice. I could have 4 teeth pulled, then over the course of several months, I could have my upper jaw pulled forward with a series of inconvenient and uncomfortable rubber bands, which would kind of fix the problem. This was a compromise, and wasn't guaranteed to work. I, personally, pride myself in taking great care of my teeth, I've never had a cavity, my teeth are a healthy pink and my teeth are white. I was already bummed that I had to have my Wisdom teeth pulled (because they came in perfectly, and never hurt) so the idea of having 4 more molars pulled was out of the question to me. Which left me with the other option- surgery. 
  
Let me explain this, they're going to cut open the roof of my mouth, and enter my sinuses. Once there, they're going to cut through my upper jaw, and disconnect it from my skull. Then, they'll move it into a more appropriate position, and fasten it there with a series of plates and screws. Then, they're going to let the bone gap fill in naturally over the course of a few weeks, in which I'm not allowed to eat any solid food at all. 
 
However, this is all completely fine with me, I'm not worried about the procedure at all. It's the anesthesia that worries me. I had my wisdom teeth pulled last year, fully awake. They put the nitrous mask on me, to which I felt no effect at all. Then they attempted to inject me with a conscious sedation. After a minute, they realized that it wasn't having any effect. See, I have terrible veins, they couldn't find one no matter how hard they tried. They injected me with enough drugs to knock me out five times over, to no effect, apparently my body is too stubborn to be knocked out with anything but hard drugs. The end result was the surgeon numbing me up, and letting me stay awake while he put his foot on the table in order to get the leverage he needed to yank my teeth out (which is an extremely weird feeling, by the way.) 
 
TL;DR I'm not actually afraid of dying, but I am nervous about tomorrow. I've got to show up at 5:30 AM tomorrow, and undergo some crazy surgery, where they purposefully break my jaw off. I'm just letting you dudes know what's up, and asking you to wish me luck, and pray to your gods/sciences.

135 Comments

Shady Underground Game Dealing in Parking Lots.

This story starts with my cousin coming down from Houghton Lake to crash at my place for a few days. He was one of my best friends throughout my childhood, but we've both got full schedules now, and don't see each other much. So one day, he says "Know what sounds fun right now? Mario Party 1, dude!"

I had sold off most of my N64 games a few years ago, so I didn't have that one. We went to the local old-games store, but the closest thing they had was Mario Party 3 (which sucks). So after that, we drove down to the Game Crazy (which is a small store inside a Hollywood Video store, which used to sell old games.) 

When I asked if they still sold outdated games, the guy said sarcastically, "Naw, we don't sell that shit anymore." "That's too bad," I said, "We were looking for a Mario Party 1, damn!" This is where things got unusual.

Do you know what we had to go through to get this??

The guy introduced himself as Chris, and said he could hook me up. "I've been trying to sell this shit online, but haven't had any luck." he said. "I can get you the Mario Party, but it will take me a couple of hours." Chris grabbed a napkin and scribbled a cell phone number on it, and told me to call him around six, and bring $15.

...Several hours later, we called him. He wanted us to meet him in the parking lot of a local grocery store. So we totally went, he was standing by his shitty old car, right next to a shopping cart with a baby in the seat. He then jacked the price $5! "This is a high-quality Mario Party here," he said, "Look, it's completely clean, and the label isn't even scratched."

So we gave him the $20 dollars, he gave us the Mario Party, and we sped away like we just bought crack. We now had our game, and a really fuckin' weird story to tell our friends.

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