Hi. I'm Mike. This isn't updated often.

Month: October 2008 (page 2 of 2)

Thank goodness I can disconnect!

So I had finished editing some stuff and wanted to burn it off to CD-R for transferring around. Don’t have Nero installed on this computer, and turns out I don’t really have anything installed over here for advanced burning.

OK, no problem. I’ll just go grab CDBurnerXP, since I don’t need anything all that special.

Whoops, don’t have the latest .NET Framework stuffage installed. OK, let’s go do that. Go ahead and download that first, and start getting it installed. It gets ready to finish up and presents me with the following:

PHEW. That’s a huge relief! I can finally disconnect from the Internet! I’ve been waiting for this day for years!

Top 10 Couch Songs In “Rock Band”

While this is a Top 10 list, it’s not part of a regular episode, so I won’t toss it over with the rest of the more formal Top 10 lists. This is instead intended to just be a fun little thing to put out there, and to coax Jeff and Andrew into making their own lists, as well.

In case you haven’t heard, we play the crap out of Rock Band. Constantly. It was like a part of me was dead on the inside when I had to send my 360 back for repairs and thus could not play Rock Band. One of the things we love about the game (series) is how amazing Harmonix has arranged the playable songs. There’s literally something for everyone. No matter what type of music you like (or think you like), there are a couple songs that you are dying to play on every single instrument.

I figured the three of us could take a couple minutes to jot down a Top 10 list, but in a different way from what we’ve done before. My list is going to be the Top 10 Emo Couch Songs In Rock Band. Admittedly, some of these are going to cross genres a little bit, but they’re all relatively part of the same scene (or evolutions over time). Both games are fair for this list, as well as all downloadable content.

10: AFI – “Girl’s Not Grey” (music video on YouTube)
What I like about the inclusion of this song is the style. It’s more aggressive than the majority of others in the same genre, but the vocals are of a different range, as well. It’s far from my favorite AFI album (that would probably be The Art Of Drowning), but it’s a logical and fun inclusion.

09: Jimmy Eat World – “The Middle” (music video on YouTube)
It was a pretty huge song, so it makes sense that it would eventually be whored out to all of the current-generation music games (it’ll also be popping up in Guitar Hero: World Tour and On Tour Decades). Every little bit of the song is fun to play; that brief pause after “It just…” totally makes you feel like a rock star.

08: Against Me! – “Stop!” (music video on YouTube)
It was literally just released as DLC this week, but it’s an awesome inclusion. It’s got a slightly funky drum beat to it, all of the parts are fun to play, and it’s a great song. I’m not even really sure what else to say about it. Don’t stop and take some time to think… just download it! Ugh, that was terrible.

07: 30 Seconds To Mars – “Attack” (music video on YouTube)
I don’t even particularly like this band, which is what really impressed me about the song. I threw it on a mix CD of songs from the game, and happened to really like what I heard. I absolutely loathed “The Kill”, and was shocked to find myself enjoying this one. I keep trying and trying to be able to do all of the singing and screaming parts of this song, but it’s just totally out of my range. I can’t do it. Grrrrr. Thankfully, it’s ridiculously fun on guitar and such, so it works out in the end.

06: All-American Rejects – “Move Along” (music video on YouTube)
The fact that I got Jeff to even remotely listen to a couple of this band’s songs is a testament to their catchiness. Their first album is probably the superior one in terms of hooks, but this particular song is a perfect inclusion. The opening drums are super fun once you get the hang of the pattern, and the vocals are at a perfect range for nearly anyone to sing.

05: Buzzcocks – “Ever Fallen In Love” (music video on YouTube)
I’ll admit that I actually didn’t know of this particular song until I heard Thursday’s cover of it. Their version is delivered quite differently in the vocals, but it’s amazing that you can sing it either way and it still works out perfectly in terms of scoring. The drums are really fun to play on this song, but my favorite part is easily the final “… ever fallen in love wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiith” at the end.

04: Paramore – “Crushcrushcrush” (music video on YouTube)
While “Misery Business” would have been our first choice of a Paramore song (which Guitar Hero: World Tour is getting), having this show up as DLC one day certainly wasn’t a bad thing. The drum part of this song is one of the easiest expert-level songs, which can really make you feel like you’re making progress with learning how to play. The vocals are deceptively difficult to get a good score on, mostly because you simply don’t have a lot of time to breathe in between lines!

03: Fall Out Boy – “Dead On Arrival” (music video on YouTube)
Those that were present the first evening that we had Rock Band will painfully remember my squawking along with Pete’s vocals on this one. Sorry. Take This To Your Grave is somewhat of a scene classic with its clever lyrics, and while this song is much more straight-forward than the rest, it was a great pick from the album. Bring in the (and I hate to use the phrase again) deceptively difficult instrument patterns (especially on drums) and you’ve got a winner.

02: Weezer – “El Scorcho” (music video on YouTube)
I’m a sucker for gang vocals. Add to that the fact that it’s in a party game which essentially obligates people to shout along? Sold. From the oft-forgotten album Pinkerton, this one’s another “easy” song in all areas, but its lyrics are so ridiculous and fun that it doesn’t matter. Definitely one of my staple performances, and one that I can actually 100% on hard-level vocals.

01: Dashboard Confessional – “Hands Down” (music video on YouTube)
When I heard that the game-titled tour was going to have a DLC pack in the future (and that Dashboard was a part of it), I was both excited and terrified. I was excited just to have some Dashboard music coming my way, but was terrified that it might be something much newer that I had no real attachment to. Reading that song title put a huge smile on my face, as does singing it every time. Chris always introduces the song as being about “the best day” he ever had, and I have absolutely no problem sharing in that with him every time we play the song.

How about you guys ‘n gals? What are you favorite couch songs? Jeff and Andrew… what are your lists going to be? 😀

Define: “Couch”

This is something I wrote elsewhere back in April 2008. I think it makes sense to re-post it here.

Seriously, internet. You using the word “emo” is getting a little old.

How about you pick another musical genre/descriptor at random and use it completely wrong for a few years? Maybe “Schlager“? Yeah, every time someone’s happy, we can say they’re “a schlager“. Maybe something even completely different and equally irrelevant, like “couch” (yes, the thing you sit on)?

That’s it! I’ll start using the word “couch” in the same type of context. It’ll so be the next big thing. It’s equally catchy and memorable.

I’m all for the evolution (modernization, even) of language… but could you at least put a little effort into it? Know what you’re talking about?

No, that’s asking too much.


Professional Podcasting

Yesterday I recorded (and today I edited) my first “professional” podcast… that is, the first episode of the new podcast we are doing at my job. It was incredibly exciting. I got to spend a little money on upgraded equipment from what I own at home (mixer, mics, etc.), get the troops rallied around the concept, develop show outlines and schedules, etc.

As you heard in the first podcast episode of WTF EX, some of the most important things Jeff and I thought were necessary for managing time were bringing in sanity and happiness to that mix. In this particular example, what makes me more happy than anything else is being able to take something I’ve learned and experimented with in my spare time over the last few years and apply it to work. I’m actually making money doing something I love, and on top of that, I’m spreading valuable information that will make the world a better place. I don’t forget for an instant that what I just said doesn’t happen to many people, and I’m incredibly thankful for it.

How about you all? Do you have any life stories / examples of something similar?

(BTW, if you’re reading this blog and haven’t responded saying who you are, you’re obligated to do so!)

“Shining Force II” Hits Virtual Console

It hit the European Virtual Console last Friday or so, and today we got it for ourselves!

Shining Force II

Shining Force II is a game that I probably shouldn’t have a whole lot of familiarity with. As you probably heard in our first episode (and then on my personal Top 10 list), it was Final Fantasy VII that got me most interested in playing additional RPGs. A few years earlier, though, I dipped my toes into the pool with this game.

I actually didn’t own the game myself, but instead played it on the Sega Channel. I loved the game so much that I refused to save any other games from month-to-month, just in case Shining Force II disappeared for a little while.

(As an explanation, the Sega Channel was basically an on-demand gaming service offered by a couple cable TV providers in the mid 1990s. You rented a device from them, plugged it into the top of your Genesis, and plugged a cable cord into it. They refreshed games every month. There would be about 50 or so, and they would rotate in and out. A game may be there one month, gone the next, and then right back again the following month. However, you could only save one game at a time. If I wanted to play Shining Force II and keep my save indefinitely, I couldn’t save any other game.)

I won’t lie. What I really liked about the game was the cheat code that allowed you to control even the enemies. I couldn’t die. I could just breeze through the story and not worry about ever messing up. At the same time, though, there was a lot to love about the game. Whoever Motoaki Takenouchi is, their score was absolutely top-notch, and remains a favorite to this day (if you pay attention during podcast episodes, you may even see this love at work). From the blaring title screen music to the jazzy town music, it was all over the place in tone but had such a consistent feel to it.

The amount of characters was another thing I simply had never seen before in a game. What really flabbergasted me was using the aforementioned cheat code to also rename every single last character in the game… and then never actually getting around to meeting half of those characters. Holy crap!

The grid-based fighting system was also new to me, and something I still haven’t gotten myself back into ever again (never played any additional strategy/tactical RPGs).

Long story short, you are silly if you do not spend the measely 800 Wii Points to grab the game on Virtual Console. Even though the going price on eBay has come down over the last couple years, $8 is a steal. I can’t wait to re-live my junior high years with this game.

Once I get around to finishing Super Mario RPG, that is. Which I don’t have any time for right now. You know, getting married in two weeks and all.

Regardless of that fact, we have a podcast episode coming for you! That’s right… episode four should be making its way online sometime later this week. Half of it is going to be new material, and half of it is actually going to be recycled material… but only if you happen to have listened to a certain podcast episode on Daizenshuu EX a couple years ago. It’ll all make sense once it comes out!

Cover Scan Requests

Hey, all. This is probably going to sound like a request a typical scummy bootlegging kid would make, but believe it or not, it’s a genuine request!

You’re all familiar with buying used games, I’m sure. More often than not, we’re getting our used games from GameStop. Well, I’ve picked up two original Xbox games that did not come with the actual cover/spine slip. They look really ugly over on my game rack like that.

I was hoping someone out there might own copies of these games and be able to scan those covers (front / back / spine) for me!

The games in question are Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2X and Jet Set Radio Future / Sega GT 2002 (dual-pack).

Can anyone help?

Nintendo’s 2008-2009 Updates

Well, we’ve got a new Nintendo DS on the way (along with a few other things).

There has already been a bunch of discussion about the whole thingie-ma-bob, despite the press event only happening within the last 24 hours (as of this writing, Nintendo has yet to hold their US press event). However, there are a couple very specific things that I wanted to bring to everyone’s attention.

The first item of interest is the removal of Slot 2 (the GameBoy Advance slot) on the DSi. As you no doubt heard from episode two of our podcast, the issue of backwards compatibility is of both major interest and apathy among us (depending on the system, games, etc.). A huge point we brought up was that Activision’s Guitar Hero: On Tour, as well as the upcoming On Tour Decades on November 18th, rely(ies) on Slot 2 to house and interact with the guitar frets attachment. Needless to say, these games will (theoretically) be completely unusable with the DSi.  I suppose it’s a good thing for Activision that they already got their Guitar Hero: On Tour & DS bundle out the door earlier this year, because that thing is looking more and more irrelevant as information comes out of Nintendo today.

This is yet another example supporting my personal belief that Nintendo has been one step behind where they should be with regards to… well, everything… since the Gamecube. I know, blasphemy, especially considering all the profit they are raking in. Hold on.

Microsoft realized and made it clear back with the original Xbox that digital distribution was going to be huge for conoles (even if you missed all of the other signs out there), but Nintendo really had no foresight for this. The Wii’s internal space was limited to microscopic levels (more on this in a bit), and the DS had Slot 2 to play actual GBA games.

Of course, you have to consider Nintendo’s approach during the DS’s launch. To them, it was their “third pillar” (main console / GameBoy line / the new DS). For the time, it was a brilliant move; if the DS failed, well, that wasn’t meant to be a replacement for the GameBoy line (right… with it having the GBA slot, and all), so no big loss! Luckily for them, the DS has become a global phenomenon. That Slot 2 is where it gets tricky, though. Would the (original) DS have taken off without it? Keep in mind that nearly every late GBA game was coming with little pamphlets showing you how you would be able to play them on a DS in a whole new light, so to speak.

My point is that if Nintendo really wanted to crank up the digital distribution and sell us GB/GBC/GBA games directly for our new DS, they should have cut Slot 2 out of the DS Lite. The DS was already popular, but the DS Lite is what really… how do I put this… oh, just insert an “it prints money” joke here. Now we have that device in what appears to be every-other-person’s hands no matter where you look, and the GBA slot is right there with them. I’m pulling some Wikipedia-research on you right now, but the numbers look like ~80 million GBAs, and ~77 DSes (so far). That means that there’s already a huge crossover with DS owners that probably have a nice little GBA game library kicking around somewhere. I’ve mentioned this on the show plenty of times: why would I re-pay for a game on a new format when I have the original cartridge sitting right over there?

Of course, there are plenty of reasons (as seen by my constant purchases of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda games) with convenience and portability being the main ones. Nintendo is really going to have to prove to these millions upon millions of potential customers exactly why they need to re-pay for Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2 (on top of already paying for the original SNES version on Virtual Console, on top of still having the cartridge sitting in their Super Nintendo). Price is going to be a key factor, and one that I do not feel they have been particularly persuasive with. We know the DSi digital distribution pricing scheme will be between about $2 and $10, but there is no further clarification on what will be sold and for what price level.

How does Pokémon play into this, by the way? A huge deal with Diamond & Pearl was the fact that you could put all of your Generation III games (FireRed / LeafGreen / Ruby / Sapphire / Emerald) into Slot 2 and do all sorts of neat things (transfer the critters via Pal Park, mostly). How about future games? How are we going to be expected to transfer from Generation IV to Generation V? Will we need two DS systems?

That also brings to mind what I call Nintendo’s “tethering” to the DS. If you play certain games (and especially if you go online with those games), you will notice that the games tell you that your system and game are being considered a single entity now, and will need to be used together exclusively. For the most part, this presents no problems other than ending up with a new friend code if you decide to upgrade from a DS to a DS Lite, for example. For games like Pokémon, though, it gets a little more difficult. I actually do not know the full extent of it, so perhaps you all can help me. What are the ramifications for taking a Generation IV game to a new system? If I start playing it on a DS Lite instead of my old DS, will My Pokémon Ranch recognize that it is still the same game? Will I be locked out of transferring back my little guys? It may not be the same system + game combo, but gosh darn it, it is still the same cartridge!

Finishing off my backwards compatibility ranting and raving is the whole idea of the “Wii de Asobu” (Play On/For Wii) series. Just like Capcom did with Resident Evil 4, but actually applying a brand to it, Nintendo is going to re-releasing a bunch of Gamecube games with enhanced Wii-specific controls. You don’t get to play a new Pikmin game, but you sure get to play the old one… with Wii controls! In all honesty, this actually sounds like it could be pretty interesting. Metroid Prime fans are probably salivating at the thought of re-playing the first two games with the Prime controls. Imagine going back and playing Wind Waker with the Wii’s Twilight Princess controls; while they may not have been as necessary or appropriate as the Metroid Prime control evolution, going back to non-Wiimote+Nunchuck for Zelda can be a little off-putting. This is pretty ingenious on Nintendo’s part, in that they (once again) get to charge you (once again) for playing the exact same game (once again) only slightly differently.

You will notice I am ignoring all the things like the internal cameras, further embellishing on the SD card slot, downloadable web browser, music playing, etc. These are all the expected next-steps for Nintendo, and I honestly just do not have a lot to say about any of them.

The last thing I did want to address is Nintendo’s admission that there is insignificant storage space available on the Wii, and that they will be utilizing the SD card slot to solve this problem in Spring 2009. I have spoken before about my experiences with having to clear out the fridge, so I will not bother going into it in-depth again. It would not surprise me if it was Nintendo’s arrogance that got them into this situation, though. They honestly believed that there would not be any storage problem, and they honestly believed that moving things to and from (rather than executing directly off of) an SD card was sufficient. That would be perfectly fine… if they weren’t also selling us Nintendo 64 games, Turbo-CD games, and WiiWare games. Especially with the latter, it was probably quite shocking for them to realize that the less-than-512 MB really isn’t enough to actively use the system for what they’re now intending it to be used for. The SD card slot is really the most simple solution, and I am thoroughly glad (and relieved) to see them utilize what is actually right there inside the system, rather than pushing more useless white plastic our way.

So what about you all? What are your thoughts on everything? It was certainly a lot to wake up to this morning, that’s for sure.

SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millennium

I briefly hinted a couple days ago that I was going to have some more Neo-Geo/SNK action coming your way, and so here it is…!

You have probably heard on the show our little story about the Neo-Geo Pocket Color. If not, the short version is that Andrew picked one up our senior year of high school (1999-2000), and suddenly it became a little cult hit in our area. At least half a dozen people seemed to have one within the next week, which… if I’m doing my math correctly… accounts for at least 98% of the installed base of the system, in total, globally.

I’m kidding, I’m kidding. But seriously. Weird.

We all played the crap out that little system and its games. Remember that at this time, the newest handheld we had going for us was… what?… the GameBoy Color…? The GBA wouldn’t see a release for another two years or so, and before the NGPC, we were trading Pokeymanz (yes, seniors in high school were playing that game… in calculus) and not a whole lot else.

I actually didn’t pick up the system right away, for whatever reason. I guess I just played Andrew’s constantly. Needless to say, the system didn’t last all that long, and it soon became very cheap and very unheard-of. I finally picked up my own system the following year during my freshman year of college. If I remember correctly, every couple of months Amazon was getting in some overstock that they were selling off at a bargain price. I believe that I grabbed the system (packed in with Sonic the Hedgehog: Pocket Adventure) for $30. Not a bad deal!

Since then, the system has mostly sat in its box over on my shelf, with the occasional break-out to show wide-eyed friends a handheld console that they had never seen before in their lives. As much as we loved the darn thing for the few months that it was the new-hotness, that love seemed to mostly be in memory and not quite in practice.

One of the games that we played the Hell out of, though, was (and this should be no surprise if you’ve been following along with us) SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millennium. Being the actual first game in the SvC/CvS series, it was quite a novelty! The controls were spot on, the dialog was hilarious, the unlockables were wonderful, the music was amazing… it’s shocking to me that they didn’t port this over to GBA!

Neo-Geo Pocket Color (system and games)

Well, I finally picked up my own copy of the game at Anime Weekend Atlanta last month. It cost me $30 (omglolz price I paid for the system), but I don’t have to iron out my plan to steal it from Andrew, anymore.

MotM Screen Shots

It was quite a trip playing an old favorite like this game. It’s one of those games that you continue to quote long into your adult life (for example, “Gwwwaaa! I can’t stop me!” and “It’s Mai Time!” are NGPC staples). While I thoroughly enjoyed getting back into it, the DS and PSP (especially the DS Lite and PSP-2000) have really spoiled us all when it comes to handheld screens. It’s better than the old GameBoy systems, but unless you’re in perfect lighting, it’s damn well near impossible to see what you’re doing. It doesn’t do the actual graphics any justice, and that’s such a shame. I’d love a DS port of this little bugger… so long as I can also get one of those little clicky, faux-analog nubs to place over my d-pad, as well…

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