So what have I been doing lately?

Slacking off that's what. But just to recap, here is what I've been doing:
 
What have I been reading? 
 
I'm reading the Seventh Sword trilogy from Dave Duncan. I've just finished the second book and now I'm up to the third one. It's about some chemist who dies and ends up being 'resurrected' in a sense in the body of a swordsman in some other world. The swordsman is most likely the best swordsman in the world, and the reason why he was brought up into that body is because the goddess of that other world has a mission for him. And well, that's pretty much it. It's interesting because Wallie, the chemist, is from our world (Earth) so he doesn't have the same values than the other residents of the other world (The World), for example he doesn't like to kill people, even though as a swordsman he's expected to. I didn't like it in the beginning but it grew on me and now I'm getting into the third book. Let's see how it ends!
 
Soooo, what have I been watching? 
 
Lately I've been going through Donnie Yen's collection of movies. For those of you who don't know Donnie Yen, he's considered the number one action movie star in China right now. I had already seen a couple of his movies before, such as Once upon a time in China II, Blade II, Iron Monkey and Hero. However, he wasn't the main character in any of those movies, meaning that I had never seen a movie in which Donnie was the star. Well now I have.
 
I've watched four of his movies so far, and I'll put them in the order I preferred them:
 
1. Ip Man (2008).
 
Great freaking movie about Bruce Lee's master. Although it's not historically accurate, it's still highly entertaining. 
 
2. SPL: Sha Po Lang (also called Killzone) (2005)
 
Very gritty, very intense police drama movie. The fight are a bit goofy but very violent, and the story is top notch. Excellent!
 
3. Ip Man 2 (2010)
 
Very good, but not as good as Ip Man 1. The problem with 2 is that there doesn't seem to be much of a story, even though both movies run the same amount of time, the first one felt like an odyssey, and the second one feels like it happens in a week's time. It's a simpler movie, and it's more akin to movies we've all seen before. It reminded me a lot of Jet Li's fearless too.  Especially the whole ending fight setup.
 
4. Flashpoint (2008)
 
Don't get me wrong, Flashpoint is excellent, it's just didn't grip me as much as the other movies on this list. It's similar to SPL, but not quite as good. Like SPL it incorporates MMA elements in the fights, which are probably better done here but just not as epic. Still a must see.
 
 So there you go. I'm actually watching Drunken Tai Chi (1984!!!) on youtube right now, but I don't expect much of it since it's so old. 
 
 
Aaaaaaand, what have I been playing!?!
 
1. Magic the gathering: duels of the planeswalkers (PC and Xbox 360, mostly Xbox)
 
Jesus christ what a great fucking game! I put in about 35 hours in the PC version according to Steam, but honestly, I might have put 100 hours AT LEAST  in the xbox version since I bought it. That's a loooooooooooooooooot of hours put into one card game. It's just always grabs you for one more game and you just can't stop. aaaaaaaargh!
 
2. YS VI: The Ark of Napishtim (PS2)

Good little action rpg, I'm almost done with it but I got sidetracked by freaking Magic. I'll get back to it soon though!
 
 
IN OTHER NEWS
 
I like to get fucked up the ass. Recently I bought the whole prince of persia collection on Steam for like 12$, only now to see the announcement that they're going to be released the prince of persia HD collection on disc for the PS3. And then I see the screenshots, and it looks much better than the PoP games on the PC....and they'd control much better because the games don't recognize my Xbox 360 controller very well, they don't have 16:9 resolutions and well, yeah, old games. That kinda sucks, but I did get the Forgotten Sands and Prince of Persia 2008 for that 12$ too so it ain't that bad. But that's one recurrent theme of Steam, I buy so many games and I'll probably only play half of them. Capitalism at its finest!
 
See ya later bitches!

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Oh how the mighty have fallen!

It's official, Final Fantasy XIII is a disaster! I don't care what some may say, 8.3 or 8.4 is NOT a good score for a Final Fantasy game. That means that Dragon Quest is now officially Square Enix's best franchise...well the japanese already knew that it seems, but now it's true for North America as well. The problem with Dragon Quest is that it is not casual gamer friendly, it's a hardcore rpg series, and it doesn't have the ridiculous metrosexual characters of FF fame population its rosters, so it can't possibly reach the same massive public that the FF series does. But man, this is crazy. I'm probably not even going to play the game now, the reviews make it sound pretty boring. Extremely linear, good story but very annoying characters, CANNOT CHOOSE YOUR OWN PARTY MEMBERS (a huge no no!), and a great battle system? Uh. I don't know. FFXIII never strongly appealed to me, I just thought it'd end up being a must buy because, you know, it's Final Fantasy duh. Lost Odyssey looks more interesting than this. heck I'm more interested in playing Star Ocean 1 on the PSP than play this! Holy crap, how the mighty have fallen...

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So who the hell..

pays 25$ for Wii points on eBay when you can get them for 20$ in every store? Heck, go on amazon.ca, or bestbuy.ca, or futureshop.ca, buy two 2000 points wii cards for 19.99 and BAM, free shipping! It's even cheaper than buying them on the Wii itself, since, in a move that I would classify as being very dumb, they sell the points in US dollars on there to canadian customers. The hell is that about? My console is set to Canada, and I'm being sold stuff in US dollars? That ain't right. And even worse than that, I'm still paying the same amount of taxes as if I was buying locally! So US dollars + same taxes equals LAME. Now granted, the canadian dollar is so strong right now, but it basically costs me one more dollar for every 1000 points I buy. That's the equivalent of a free NES game after 4000 points. 
 
So yeah, I have a Wii now. Sort of. It's not my Wii, it belongs to my friend, but he never plays it and couldn't care less about it until the next Zelda comes out so it's almost like if it was  mine. The first day I got it I bought New Super Mario Bros Wii for it, plus Trauma Center: Second Opinion. I also bought an ethernet adapter to go on the internet with it, since I don't have a wireless router. And since then I've bought a bunch of Virtual Console games, namely Blaster Master, Ghosts N' Goblins, Super Mario Bros 1 and 3 for the NES, plus the original WiiWare title 'Castlevania Rebirth'. And I'm not done, oh no, I bought a classic controller + a 2000 points card on amazon.ca, and with that I'll most likely buy Super Mario 64 and maybe Super Mario World, but I haven't decided on that last one since I already have the game on the Super NES. However I also have SMB1 and 3 on the NES and I still bought them, but they were only 5$. I figured it would save me the hassle of having to chug two consoles with me, and the same argument holds for the 8$ SMW.  As for Super Mario 64, I just want to give it a second go. When I first played the game back then It was released, I was just starting my rebellious teenage years and I had a hard time getting into the kid-like atmosphere of the game. In fact, I hated that game for a loooong time. I figured that now that I am a grown and mature man, it's time to go back and see what that game is all about.  I also have the version of the game on my DS (although I didn't pay for it, erm...), and it's supposedly somewhat improved with the inclusion of four characters instead of only Mario, however I'd still rather play the original on my big TV. Maybe I'll regret that decision once the DSi XL becomes available in North America in a few months. BTW, speaking of that thing, when the heck are we going to get an official date for its North American release? Japan already has the console, Europe is going to get it on March 10th, but what about us!?! Lame :( 
 
I'm also thinking of eventually getting a Link to the Past on the Wii virtual console, even though I already have it on the Snes, just like most games I bought on VC so far. The reason for that is that it would just look better on the Wii than on the Snes. The Wii plays every VC game at its native resolution and in 480p, if you have the component cables of course, while the Snes of course runs at its own lower resolution. And it would allow me to box my Snes for good. Sad, I know.
 
So what do I think of the Wii? Well, I think it's superb as a collection of retro games. Virtual console is awesome, even though the emulation isn't always as good as on the free, but illegal, emulators on the PC. However, playing the games on a big TV in 480p is sweet, and I really like the user interface with all the small TV's. I think it's a better interface than on the Xbox 360 with its endless menus. Here, you get your little TV's on the front page, you place your virtual and wiiware titles on there and it's awesome to look at. Very visually appealing, and it really gives you a good sense of your collection, unlike the 360 where even if you have 35 Xbox Live Arcade games you won't know until you go digging in the menus. However we have to remember that the Xbox 360 is an entertainment hub, and not only a game console, so it would be kind of hard to make an interface as simple as the one on the Wii. But personally I don't give a shit about all of that entertainment stuff, I have a game console to game on it. Going back to the Wii now, the WiiWare service is interesting, it has cool remakes of retro games, as well as a lot of adventure game releases such as the Sam & Max Series, or the new Monkey Island series. So in that sense it's a sweet console.
 
However, as far as retail games go, it's a disaster. There's very few excellent titles out there to choose from, and a lot of them are of the dumb party format. If I'm looking at Wii only releases that actually interest me, there's Super Mario Galaxy, Punch-out,  maybe Super Paper Mario,  Metroid Prime 3, and then what? Okami looks great, but it's a PS2 game. I'm still interested though. I don't like Super Smash Bros, I've been burned out on Mario Kart for years, I played RE4 and Twilight Princess on the gamecube, No More Heroes doesn't appeal to me and I already have New Super Mario Bros. I like the Trauma Center games, but I don't love them, so I don't know if I'll be getting the other games in the series. I'll probably get Silent Hill: Shattered Memories though, and I could investigate Little King's story and Zack & Wiki, however I don't know if they're really my type.  That's pretty much it. Not a lot of content on there. I didn't pay for the console though so I can't complain I guess.
 
So what am I playing now? Well I'm getting back into Bioshock, since I stopped playing it in early January. I like the game, but I'm not amazed by it so far. I didn't really like System Shock 2, and now Bioshock seems to follow in that same vein. Oh well, I'll see what happens down the road!

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So I played Zelda 1 and 2 the other day...

..or the other week. A couple weeks ago at least. And it really rocked my boat! It's nice to finally be able to play Zelda AND know what I'm supposed to do. See, back when I was a wee little kid, I tried and tried to play that darn game and I had no clue, absolutely none. Think about it, you start the game, you enter that cave, the stupid old man gives you a frikin wooden sword AND THEN WHAT? I kept running around and around all over the place and I never got anywhere, I never understood the point of it. And the worst of it all, is that the game was good. It had to be, with it being in a gold cartridge! Those of you who were young at the time probably remember that cartridge, the gold really made it stand out. It made the game feel special, like it wasn't anything like the other games on the market, that somehow it was better. And still, I didn't understand shit. And to put shit on the cake, a lot of my friends PARENTS (the hell?) were saying that it was a sweet game. Gold cartridge, people who really didn't play games saying the game was sweet, those truly were crazy ass times. Of course, now that I am old and have played a whole bunch of zelda games, I know what I'm 
supposed to be doing, it didn't take me long to find that first dungeon, and then to find hidden heart containers and whatnot. The game also wasn't that hard, except for the wizards. Man I hate those sons of bitches! They're hard as hell! Harder than the bosses! The bosses are pretty easy though I have to admit. Overall, a pretty satisfying playthrough. It stands the test of time! 
 
So then I played Zelda II. It is of course seen as the black sheep of the series, the one that is different. The one with sidescrolling action gameplay! Yay! So how is it? Does it suck like a lot of people think it does? HELL NO! It's good! Real good! But it feels like Miyamoto spent a little too much time in his flower garden before designing the game because it feels like a collage of haphazard elements. The experience point system is broken, no doubt about it. First off, you have lives in this game. Lives in zelda! WTF this ain't Super Mario Bros! The life counter was taken right out of Super Mario Bros 1 too, it looks fucking stupid in Zelda. Second, the way the whole XP system works in conjunction with your lives is crazy. Basically, you lose all of your accumulated XP if you lose your three lives. So if you need 5000 XP to reach your next level, and you have 4000 so far, well if you lose that last life of yours, BYE BYE, you start of at 0 of 5000 again. Now granted, everytime you go up a level your XP counter also goes down to 0, that's the way it works, so at first you need 40 XP to level up, and then 80, and then 160 etc, and you always start at 0 again, but it's annoying to be close to leveling up and then losing that last life. It also greatly influences the way you play the game, since if you are on your last life but are close to leveling up, you start to play it safe and find a safe spot to grind until you level up. And then you kill yourself, to reset your life counter to 3. The only disadvantage to doing that is that you're back in Zelda's temple, but it only takes a couple of minutes to get back to where you were anyway. Also, anytime you kill  a boss, you get an automatic level up. But the way the game does that is that it fills out the remaining XP that you need to level up. So if you have 4000 out of 5000 XP, well your XP is going to go up 5000 XP and BING, level up. But it also does the same thing if you're at 0 of 5000...see my point? Often I'd get to the boss, look at my XP counter, and realize that I was quite close to leveling up. So instead of wasting the free level up, I would instead backtrack into the dungeon to grind a little bit, level up, and then go fight the boss and get a huuuuge XP boost for a free level up. It's kind of annoying, I'd rather not have to do that, it doesn't feel natural. On a couple of occasions, I would get to the boss, backtrack out of the dungeon to reset the monsters, get back in, grind a bit to level up, and then make my way back to the boss only to realize that I was close yet AGAIN to leveling up, so I backtracked once again into the dungeon to level up. That's crazy, only a pot smoker would design such a system. 
 
Also, Zelda II is kind of an empty game. You don't really get items in the game per say. You get static items, like the hammer, which allows you to break boulders on the overworld, or the gloves, with which you can break some blocks in dungeons. It's awfully unexciting. You also get spells, like jump, which permit you to jump higher, or shield, which obviously makes you tougher. You don't find new swords, you don't find new armor, there is no boomerang, no bows. It's only you, you small ass sword and your shield for the duration of the game.  Personally, I like finding new equipment in games, it's sweet.
 
Aside from that, Zelda II is pretty sweet. The ending sucks though. The ending of Zelda 1 also sucks. Zelda tells you in both games "You are the hero of hyrule!". Sweeeeeeeet...
 
So I think both games are pretty fun today still. They're not the best games of their genre on the NES though, I think Crystalis is hands down better. Heck, it's probably the best NES game ever. I haven't played either Startropics games though, so I'd have to play those before passing my final judgement.
 
Hmmm, I'm done.

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So what has happened lately?

Well I've watched the first five Star Trek movies. My general opinion? Most of them sort of suck. Let's analyze them in order, with the focus on the ANAL part:

Star Trek I : the motion picture

Oh man, wow, this movie...this movie takes forever. Like one of the first scene in the movie is a montage of James T. Kirk and Scotty doing a flyby of the enterprise, and it lasts for like 5 to 10 minutes. It was sort of neat during the first 30 seconds, but after that it really lost its luster. And then the rest of the movie just proceeds forward at a snail's pace. The overall story is sort of interesting, it just takes forever to unfold. The ending is sort of neat though, I liked that the big alien menage known a V'ger ended up being an old 20th century Voyager probe. I also liked that the Voyager probe might be the origin of the Borg, which I read on wikipedia. I think overall I sort of liked the movie. It's long winded, but interesting.

Star Trek II : The wrath of khan

I was expecting this to be awesome. It has a rating of 91% on rotten tomatoes, it MUST be awesome, right? I really didn't like it. Khan, the bad guy, is laughable. He's not credible at all, I don't think he looks dangerous. He's just an old man with psychiatric problems and superhuman powers. Maybe I could take him seriously if he wasn't so damn funny. Also, I often thought that the acting was generally horrible overall. All of it culminated with the death of Spock at the end of the movie, and I have to say that I thought it was so incredibly poorly acted I actually laughed out loud. Man Leonard Nimoy is great as Spock because the man obviously can't act for shit, seemed like he was trying to make a Batman imitation during his death speech. All in all, one hell of a disappointment.

Star Trek III : .... errr, what was is again? oh yeah, the Search for Spock.

This movie was better. Was it great? Not really. One thing I have to say is that I think the Klingons are ridiculous. I mean WTF? Why do they have to speak in Klingon, that's just plain retarded. They don't look credible while doing it, it just makes me feel like laughing. It was even worse because Christopher Lloyd was playing the role of the main villain, and to me he'll always be good old Doc Brown in Back to the Future. So to see him as a Klingon talking in a weird made up tongue and trying to act tough was really hilarious. In the five movies I've seen, no one has been able to play the Klingons correctly. They're supposed to be those ultra tough sons of bitches bastards type, but the ones I've seen so far all seemed sort of wimpy to me and seeing them trying to blurt out this poor excuse of an agressive language doesn't help.
Still, it was still better than Star Trek II as far as I'm concerned.

Star Trek IV : The Voyage Home

Yeah, now you're talking! I really like this one, even if it has one of the most ridiculous storylines I've ever seen in a movie. So all in all, a deep space probe destroy everything in its path straight to earth, and once it gets there it starts to tear the planet apart. The crew of the enterprise (here stuck on a klingon ship) discover that the probe is sending messages in the sea but not receiving any responses. By analyzing the messages of the probe, they discover that the language used in them is...fucking whale speech? Whaaaat? Then it gets silly. It seems whales are an alien species, and when they became extinct some other whales elsewhere became worried. After all, they lost contact with their whale brothers and sisters! So they build this probe and send it to investigate. For some reason, the non reception of an answer to its queries means it wants to destroy the whole planet. So the crew know what they must do: they must travel to the past (our present, or near present), grab a couple of whales, and bring them to the present (our future) so that they might answer the probe! OH GOLLY WHAT A SPACE ADVENTURE! The thing I don't really get about Star Trek, is why it's called that if there isn't that much Star trekking. I mean, what is Star Wars about? Well it's about star wars. They're warring...in space! But Star Trek sometimes is about singing around a campfire, or going back in time to grab some whales. I suppose the trekking part is there, but the star part could need some help. It's like in those old episodes of Star Trek: The next generation where the show becomes a western. I always hated that. I want to see space travel and battles and shit, and if all of a sudden it becomes a western it pisses me off. If I want to watch a western I'll watch one.

So yeah, man the story is ridiculous, but the movie is awesome! It's really entertaining!

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

This one wasn't better than IV, but I still liked it. I think by this point the acting is better than before. One thing that bugged me though by this point is that the ship is always having some problems. I understand that, by design, if Captain Kirk is aboard a perfectly working ship he can most likely deal with any situation. So they artificially create problems for him so that he's impeded, kind of like an handicap in a fighting game. But really that's annoying. Aside from that, the story was interesting. I liked the whole search for god thing, and I especially liked it when they ended up finding and evil entity who wanted to do who knows what with the ship. Another sweet thing about this movie is the line "I couldn't help but notice your pain! My pain? It runs deep, share it with me!". That same line is used as an intro to the 2pac song 'Pain', which was one of my favorite songs back when I listened to Pac. I still like that song. It's an awesome quote and a great scene and I listened to that part of the movie a couple of times. So all in all, I liked Star Trek V.

So next is watching Star Trek VI. Oh what will I find! :D

What else what else, oh yeah.

Hyundai released a new car lately, called the Genesis. The coupe version has a really sporty look, and sort of looks like a Tiburon. Hyundai claims it's not a successor to the Tiburon though. And I believe them, since even if they sort of look the same, under the hood they're totally different. Safe to say, the Genesis has some muscle under that hood. The base genesis has a 2.0L Turbo l4 engine that puts out 208 HP. That's for the coupe version, which is the version of the car I've seen in the streets. 208HP is pretty fast, that's 10 HP more than the Honda Civic Si, and the Genesis Coupe costs about two grand less at retail. It's also about 20 HP more powerful than the base Honda Accord, and FOUR grand less expensive. That's a lot of power for your dollar. And starting at 33000$, you have the V6 instead with 308 HP. The only cars that can compete at that price range for about the same amount of power are muscle cars like the Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro. However, I'm quite sure that the Genesis is a better handling car (as in, easier to drive, even in the winter) than the aforementioned muscle cars. That makes it an incredible, incredible deal for the money.

But I'll never buy one and I'll never think about buying one. Why? The brand name. It's a hyundai, who cares! It's not all about power, it's also about prestige. You have to be proud of that badge on the front. If not, what's the point? I don't want to have to tell my friends "yeah it's a hyundai, but it's fast". Always having to counterbalance the fact that it's an unglorious brand. Someone might point out that the car might outperform the Porsche Cayman, and the Cayman costs twice as much. First, it's not a given that it's going to outperform it, especially on a race track. Second, sure it's twice the price, but it's a Porsche for god's sake. You not only pay for the price, but for the name. It's all part of the game. So, yeah, I commend Hyundai for putting out a solid product at a great price, unfortunately I won't buy it.

Like I won't ever buy a Toyota. Don't get me wrong, I respect the brand. They're reliable, long lasting and don't consume a lot of gas. But they're boring cars. I was listening to the radio the other day, and they had a panel on consisting of a whole bunch of car experts. And they all agreed that Toyotas are reliable but god damn are they boring to drive. Even when I'm reading reviews I see a lot of the same sentiment. The other day I was on consumer reports and I was reading comparative reviews of the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry. The Camry was the lowest rated car of the three, and I explicitly remember a comment of the reviewer saying "The Camry, even in its most powerful configuration (I.E : with the most powerful engine available) is not an exciting drive". In comparison, the Nissan Altima and Honda Accord can be satisfying drives in their sportier configuration. Of course, the Altima and Accord have models that appeal to such a market, while the Camry doesn't really. So it all comes down to this: Toyotas are great for people who see their cars as purely transportation. The others buy something else. Of course, since most people don't care about their car and only want it to drive them from point A to point B, that makes Toyota the number 1 car company in the world. I really don't mind about that, like I said, I respect the brand, I just wouldn't buy one.  I have a friend in school who's a big Toyota fan. He has a visually modified Toyota Corolla and he's really proud of it. Personally I don't really understand it, how can you really be proud of a boring car, even if it looks good. I prefer a visually unassuming car that will rock your socks off personally, but that's just me.

I really like the Infinity G37, it's fast, it's sweet, it looks good. But the problem is that it's expensive. For the price of a G37, you can get an Audi, a BMW or a Mercedes. Infinity is a good brand with a lot of prestige, but not as much prestige as the three brands I just named. The Infinity might smoke them from a power perspective, but how much power do you really need? I read that if you turn off traction control on a G35, you can actually go into an instant spin out if you apply power during a turn. That's how powerful that car is, which isn't surprising since it's actually a rebranded Nissan Skyline.

I'm tired of writing now, so I'll take a break. I don't know if i'll ever write another blog post, this is an experiment that turned out to be long winded.

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