Saturday, December 14, 2013

SC On Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes the Neighborhood (PS2)

This series was given more than one entry.  Think about that.

Gee, just what I was hoping to get as a gift from one of my convention buddies.  Thanks, Macho Man!

 For those of you who did a double-take at the "2" in the title, yes, this was a thing.  Not only was the first game a thing, it was a thing that sold half a million copies.  This game would sell almost 400,000 units, thus reaffirming my lack of faith in humanity, or at least the average video game consumer.

Casuals.  Fucking casuals everywhere.

 As the cover might suggest, the game does indeed include Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope from the Insane Clown Posse, who also co-founded Juggalo Championship Wrestling (yes, that is also a thing), which is where several in-game wrestlers now or at some point in the past worked.  Also included are people from Combat Zone Wrestling, the stereotypical "hit me with something until I bleed, then hit me again" promotion where the infamous "JEZUS" Botchamania clip comes from.

And thus Maffew would spend the rest of his life avoiding Zandig.

Also on the cover is New Jack, also known as "that guy who technically killed four people."  He and another alum of Extreme Championship Wrestling, The Sandman, are in the game because reasons.  As for the woman in the middle, she's either Tylene Buck, Tera Patrick or Sunrise Adams.  I don't know who specifically she is because they're porn stars and why should I even bother talking about them?

The game boils down to a career mode and exhibition mode.  There is multiplayer but let's face it, the only people who would play this game with you are only doing so ironically or out of pity.  Career mode is where you create a custom wrestler, assign them a move set and go around various "backyard" locations to win titles by completing missions to unlock challenges, namely a tournament to win a title which unlocks more areas to compete in.  The idea is to win all the belts to get to the final section and beat the Insane Clown Posse guys (yes, they're the final boss) to collect a million dollar prize, which is a simple enough setup if not kind of dumb.

Then I tried playing it.

In case you can't tell, I'm the one with hair.

The custom wrestler creation is, in a word, unusual.  I would say lacking, but in truth there is a wide variety of options for the most mundane shit while other aspects are left woefully understocked.  For example, there are 132 tattoos available from the beginning, but only 18 pants options.  A character can have a lot of different skin colors, even allowing for Mr. Game & Watch black, but there are only six faces and seven hair styles to choose from.  Also if you make a female character you only have two body types.  They're called 'Athletic' and 'Muscular' but they actually look like 'Needs a Sandwich' and 'Had a Sandwich.'

There are three different sections (East, West and North) with three separate combat areas in each, then the final area where the ICP hang out.  Each area of each section has five missions and five challenges unlocked after completing the missions.  One area of each section has a title tournament which opens after completing all available missions.  Winning the title opens up a new section and the game moves on.  This essentially makes all challenges but the title tournament a waste of time, unless you really want to earn some extra money to unlock a new hat or some other crap that should have been available from the start.  Besides, more than half the challenges are the same across each area.

There's a problem with these missions, however.  Each area has a set number of generic create-a-wrestler characters that appear in each match.  Even when just doing each mission once I ended up seeing the same half-dozen or so people over and over.  Even worse, there's so little variety to these missions that I quickly realized two-thirds of the mode was "perform X move Y amount of times" or "get your opponent to X Y amount of times."  And if that wasn't bad enough, some missions where you have to do an action four or five times, for example, show you as having cleared the mission by only doing the action once.  Proper programming is for those WWE wussies.

Okay, forget what I just said.

I haven't touched on the actual "wrestling" part of the game yet, though.  Each match consists of two sort-of mobile character models awkwardly jogging around an environment trying to beat each other up.  Each environment has specific environmental hazards and weapons that can be used and, unless there's a mission objective that requires doing something else, each mission can be won by finding a weapon in the area that won't break and doing three-hit combos over and over until the opponent's health runs out.  That's more hardcore and extreme and awesome and real and entertaining than pinfalls or submissions, right?

Sometimes the reach of said weapon only makes things even more ridiculous.  In the pool level there's an indestructible pool skimmer which has about a five-foot reach.  Coupled with how bad the grappling is, why would I do anything but use weapons?

Oh right, I haven't explained that yet.

Grappling in this game has a few key problems with it.  For one, you can only irish whip (read: throw) or drag/lead people while in a front grapple.  There's also a big input problem when trying to pull off "Super Moves" by mashing the two attack buttons at once.  Sometimes it just plain won't register that both buttons are being hit at the same time, which for me meant doing shoulder breakers half the time I tried using it.

The worst part however is how evasion works.  It's possible to mash a couple buttons to do a "grapple escape" when the turbo meter (also used for the supers) is full, but most of the time you'll have to try and counter by hitting either the attack, throw or submission button when the opponent tries to do an attack, throw or submission.  This has to be done before, not during, the move, meaning reversals boil down to a 1-in-3 guessing game for what the opponent will do.

Why am I not surprised that the game with poor wrestling mechanics has several people from promotions that go through thumbtacks, barbed wire and light tubes the way I go through cherry soda?

Scratch that.  Why am I surprised that this happened when I tried playing it?

The styrofoam head avatars seem unfazed by this.

There's yet another reason to just use weapons the entire time: the enemy AI.  It is, in a word, terrible.  The AI constantly tries to get in as close as possible to do grapples while sometimes doing attack combos, however leading them near any elevated surface leads them to climb on top of it and attempt a diving attack, which can be avoided by not standing still and leaves them open to be attacked, pinned or put in a submission hold.

Then there are times where the AI, while trying to find a weapon, runs into environmental hazards and takes damage.  I've won a few matches this way.

Committing suicide in a survival challenge?  That's a paddlin'.

You do eventually fight the actual wrestlers (and porn stars) in the game and have a chance to unlock videos of them for one or two-thousand dollars.  That means doing missions, challenges and general matches over and over to earn enough money to buy the videos, most of which aren't worth the effort. That and the videos for the porn stars are the most expensive despite being less risque than a Dead or Alive volleyball game.

Or you could save some real money and not even bother with the game to begin with.  That is, unless someone gives it to you, like in my case.  When I get the chance, this game's going through my friend's window Paperboy-style.

This gif syncs well with most polka music.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Content ID: Get a Real Job, You Say?

(Note: nonsensical mess of words ahead.)

This will likely be the only thing I say on the subject, seeing as how the YouTube community has already proven to be both way more knowledgeable and not very knowledgeable at all of what exactly is going on.

Before getting into it, here is where I stand.  I am virtually unaffected by this.  I have a job, am working toward a college degree and treat video-making as a hobby.  I have monetized none of my videos and, to date, have copyright claims on about 55 videos, three of which are blocked in Germany.  Ich bitte Sie, Deutschland.  Most of them are dumb bullshit, but among them are also the Guitar Hero III and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 videos (licensed music), the last part of the Shenmue videos (again, music), one part of the Jumping Flash playthrough (yet again, music), the last part of the Resident Evil: Survivor video and the James Bond Jr. video.  If you are seeing ads on these or any other videos, I have two words for you.  Adblock Plus.  If you're on my blip channel, use it there too.  I'm not sure why it even still exists when I went out of my way to make the front page look as ugly as possible.

However, that doesn't mean others aren't affected.  Some people at RiverCityGamers do monetize some of their videos and can be affected by this.  YouTube's "guilty until proven innocent" approach--don't kid yourself on this one.  It's been like that for a while, but only now has it started to affect larger, partnered/network-managed channels--means that monetization of a video might not be possible now or ever.  YouTube moves at a snail's pace on any sort of claims, even slower than they did when I first started getting claims and had to dispute them left and right to keep the videos on the site at all.

That also means this applies to the "big fish" like Angry Joe, Rad Brad, Classic Game Room and a laundry list of others.  In fact, Classic Game Room, who has been with YouTube since the passing of the first ice age, appears to have up and left YouTube in favor of using his own site for his videos.  The new content ID system is the rough equivalent of treating everyone like Milton in the movie Office Space; management 'fixes a glitch' in payroll which stops him from getting a paycheck and not only does no one tell him about it, they avoid the subject when confronted by him as he continues showing up to work.

In theory I should be somewhat glad about this because, if enough people are driven off YouTube, it opens the opportunity for someone else to step in who couldn't because of the gap YouTube's site creates between promoted and non-promoted channels.  That and I've had various disagreements with certain content creators in the past, namely Joe.  Then again, I've only stuck around as long as I have because of the people who look at or are subscribed to my channel.  If there were a solid alternative to YouTube, I would have left years ago.

That would be the case, except that the same rules everyone has struggled with now apply across the board.  A person in the medium of creating gaming videos now has limited options when any video or audio from the source material is a copyright flag waiting to happen, one which several publishers or creators of the sampled content have had to manually whitelist users who were flagged by YouTube's content ID system without their go-ahead.

Some might say to make gaming-related videos without using the game video or audio.  People have done and do this, with a prominent example being Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation, yet another person I don't really like.  Also note that Yahtzee left YouTube and didn't return with ZP until 2011 on The Escapist's channel.  My opinion on "vlog" style reviewing of games is as follows:


I don't trust you.

That's one thing I give people like Angry Joe and which I try to emulate in my videos.  When I talk about something, positive, negative or otherwise, I show it so you'll know I'm not pulling "facts" or opinions out of my ass.  Vlog reviews of video games are the equivalent of writing a research paper without citing any sources.  Yes, I have done the rough equivalent of that before, and no, I don't expect you to believe or agree with what I say in those videos, much less anything I've posted.

Others have tossed around a phrase I'm all too familiar with.  "Get a real job."  This phrase should have died along with the "real jobs" that became obsolete or unnecessary as time and technology have moved on.  As an aspiring musician, you can probably guess how tired I am of hearing this phrase get tossed around in lieu of an intelligent statement, especially when it implies that there is no work involved in anything that is not a job in the most traditional sense.

What defines a real job?  Having set work hours?  Having some signed paperwork on the subject?  Having a set salary and steady paycheck?  Having a boss?  As someone whose father works as a self-employed architect, all but one of the prior conditions does not apply to him.  Try telling him he doesn't have a real job.

In the sense of a "real job" not involving the use of material originally created by other parties or for the purposes of review or parody, I suppose anyone who samples sounds or music like DJs or musicians have real jobs.  But then, would the original content creator, who is also a musician, have a real job?  Let's not go into anything too paradoxical.  As for parody, comedians and entertainers don't have real jobs.  For review, critics of various things such as video games, movies, food, toys, books, cars, computers, and more 'I think you get the point' examples don't have real jobs, even though there are several such people employed in such roles, "real jobs" if you will, by various outlets.

There seems to be a disconnect between the idea of a "job" and doing "work."  Let's ignore the old formula of plopping a camcorder in front of a TV and talking over it in real time for something like I would do.  Game reviewing is not a job of mine.  I try to show what I can from the game so, depending on its length and content, on average I end up recording roughly 10-12 hours of footage for the one game the video focuses on.  Then I go back and review all of the footage, taking another 10-12 hours, making notes about what happens where and which clips illustrate different points.  As this is going on I also have to script out the entire video, hitting all talking points and organizing everything into a pseudo-comprehensive and logical flow while marking sections for narration over game footage, live-action shots or other external clips.  I also do background research on the game, its developers, etc.  Depending on writer's block and information availability, this can take anywhere from three to eight hours.  Then after all that I film any live segments and locate external video clips, which takes maybe an hour if things go well.  Then I finally start editing which, depending on how my editing programs feel that day, usually takes about 9-10 hours.  Then I can finally render the video which, depending on length, might take another 2-3 hours, and assuming the whole video rendered correctly then I can upload it.

If you do the math, that equals anywhere from 35 to 46 hours of work on average.  That's for a relatively short game, too.  Things like Evergrace or Muramasa wound up with closer to 25 hours of recorded footage.

I'm getting sidetracked.

The point is this: don't fall into the trap of thinking that because X is enjoyable, any form of profiting or working through X is automatically not considered a "real job."  Also, stop talking like a crotchety old man.  That's my "job."

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Blip Videos: What Do I Do?

Conflicted.  That's the one way I can describe how I feel at the moment.

In the midst of midterm week and trying to get the next RiverCityGamers podcast together (coming this Friday, hopefully), the video-hosting service Blip, which hosts videos for every member of RiverCityGamers, started cutting back on the bulk of its userbase.  Specifically, they cut back on people who, in their eyes, weren't contributing a "high-quality original web series."  As far as I know, the list of RCG members affected is as follows:

Zeromaster
Blondeguygamer
ShadowSnake123
AngelHalo (who I feel especially bad for, considering he's also had his original YouTube account wrongfully suspended)
WellUnreal007
Nightman39

I haven't heard from Onirokaku or Wizwar100 on the status of their accounts, though you might be asking why my name isn't listed.

Well, Blip e-mailed everyone on their site, whether their accounts were getting removed or not.  Here is the e-mail I received:

Dear Blip Producer,

The following message is regarding the Blip account SCXCR.

You may have heard that we’ve been telling some legacy producers that we're going to close their accounts in an effort to keep Blip focused on high quality shows. To avoid confusion, we wanted to reach out and preemptively head off any misconceptions or concerns you might have.

If you did not receive an email asking you to move your content, you will not be affected by this effort. If you are producing a high quality original web series, you have nothing to worry about.  On the contrary, expect to get more love than ever from us!

Once again, we also want to reassure you that the core Blip toolset (producer dashboard, video player and monetization tools) will remain the same; Blip.com will continue to operate as a robust entertainment destination; and the industry-leading Blip sales team will be ramping up their efforts.

If you have any questions or concerns, please visit Producer Support at http://support.blip.tv or contact us with specific questions.

Thanks,
Blip Support


I've spent the past couple days wondering how and why my account isn't on the chopping block (yet).  I haven't uploaded anything to Blip since July (the Lifeline video) and I purposely made my show homepage look like utter garbage, partially to drive away dirty casuals and partially to stand out from the over-professionalized personification of stagnation that usually clutters the front page of the site.  However, now I'm stuck asking myself this:

Should I close my Blip account?

This account is something I specifically created to host my more well-produced (by my standards anyway) videos, as well as the Soulja Boy mixes when they got copyright flagged to hell and back.  I specifically refused to monetize any of my YouTube videos because of my disgust at some of their practices, but with Blip ads were part of how they did things so I put up with it.  I've seen exactly one payout in the four years the account has been up (which I promptly used all $25 of to buy Persona 4) and am probably four years from another, so I haven't gained much nor stand to lose much from leaving.  That and I'm particularly pissed off about my friends' show pages getting the boot.  For some reason though I feel... I don't know, attached to it?  The point when I got the Blip account is the point where I really started putting in the effort to try and make my videos the best quality I possibly could, and I've put a fair share of time into both the videos and that account to make it happen.

I just...

I don't know.  Thoughts?

Friday, August 16, 2013

SC On Ninjabread Man (Wii)

This will go exactly how you think it will.

I could just say this game is awful and move on, but you already know that, don't you?   So why am I writing this blog?  Partly because it's a slow day at work and partly because most of the people I see talk about this video don't get further in depth than 'the motion controls suck and this game sucks.'  Did I mention it's also a slow day at work?

Let's start by going back in time a bit, before Ninjabread Man ever came out.  There was a British company called Data Design Systems formed in the mid-1980s to make games for the Atari and ZX Spectrum platforms.  They eventually became Data Design Interactive in the 90s, somehow getting by purely on licensed titles such as Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy while churning out such gems as Rise of the Robots and Tonka Space Station.

Then they decided to stop screwing around when the Wii came out and started producing the Popcorn Arcade label to go after casual gamers with low/budget-priced games.  In addition, they developed G.O.D.S. (Game Oriented Development System) to develop cross-platform games faster and with only a few staffers.

In other words, DDI developed a way to push a lot of games with a short development time onto a lot of different systems.

 A dumb parent and their money soon go separate ways.

The games sold moderately well, but were also lambasted by critics.  The studio itself was at points singled out as being responsible for the "shovelware" tag the Wii couldn't get rid of and even blamed by some for hurting the system's credibility with titles like Action Girlz Racing and the Kidz Sports series.  DDI eventually stopped trading in 2009, robbing the gaming world of such future classics as Kidz Sports: Crazy Mini Golf 2 and the sequel to Ninjabread Man.

That being said, Ninjabread Man.

Essentially the same game as Anubis 2 and Rock n' Roll Adventures (from the same company), Ninjabread Man is about stopping an evil army of cakes and bees (?) called the tooth-rotters (only know that because the instruction booklet said so) from taking over Candy Land. (Doesn't explain the bees, but okay!) At least that's what the back of the box says.  However, not only is this never addressed anywhere except the back of the box, every level revolves around grabbing eight blue... vials?  Power sources?  I don't know, but they power up a teleporter to get the hell out of each level except the mandatory training stage.  Apparently Ninjabread Man fights off evil by getting the hell away from it, because even the last level has him getting in a teleporter instead of fighting... whatever he's supposedly fighting.

Running: the one thing Ninjabread Man does well.

Actually doing this is a major challenge, mostly because of the controls.  Sword swings are tied to swinging the Wii remote, but most of the time they either don't register or register after an enemy has already landed a hit.  Hell, there were times where, while the Wii remote was motionless on the ground, I had my character doing sword swings by trying to jump.

Oh, jumping.  For the longest time this was my biggest problem with the game.

Jumping is done by raising the nunchuk straight up, and you need to double jump to get through the bulk of the game's platforming sections.  I wound up having to point the nunchuck at the ceiling and make a punching motion for it to register once, and beyond that it was a 50/50 chance for the second jump to register at all.

Complicating this even more is the way Ninjabread Man (screw it, I'm calling him Jim from now on) moves.  Jim essentially has three movement speeds; standing still, beginning to lurch forward before an all-out sprint, and all-out sprint.  The second only happens for a moment before he takes off at full speed, so it's more like two speeds.  There was one time I got him to walk, but it didn't last longer than a second or two before he did his best Road Runner impression.  This, coupled with Jim's jump height being about six inches, makes even the most basic of platforming a pain in the ass.

That is, until I realized that the Z button also jumps.  It still has moments where it doesn't register, but it's way more consistent than the motion controls.  Oh, and the instructions never say Z is a secondary jump button.

I googled "consistency is amazing" and got this.

The other means of attack, which is much easier to use, is the... pink... glob... things that Jim throws at enemies.  They're in unlimited supply and, though Jim has to stand still to use them, they also function as a means of moving the camera around outside of repeatedly resetting its position behind Jim.  They also have lock-on, since the aiming is so sensitive the reticule bounces all over the screen virtually regardless of how steady your hand is.

There's also a "bomb" attack, which I didn't know existed until reading the instruction booklet.  Even the training level never mentions it.  As such, I never used it.  Good thing too, as it involves a combination of holding and releasing A and swinging the Wiimote away from and toward the TV.  Stonekeep: Bones of the Ancestors taught me that's a recipe for disaster.

Then again, you might not actually attack anything.  It's actually better to avoid fighting anything since, even though there aren't many enemy types and most just try to run into you (which also has weird hit detection involved), the biggest threat are the slices of cake that spit heat-seeking... things at Jim.  These and the random landmines which can hit Jim from several feet above or below him and a good ten feet beyond the visible blast radius are the only real threats, more so because they'll knock him off platforms than because they do a lot of damage.  Everything in this game can only take off one heart of damage at a time, and every enemy (except the bees) drops a heart when killed... which flies out of Jim's reach in a few seconds.

With all of these problems though, the game does have one saving grace.  It's only 4 levels long if you count the training stage.  On my first try, I beat the game in under an hour-and-a-half, and when I went mildly insane and tried it again, I beat the game in about 20 minutes.

And by the way, there is no ending.  It just cuts back to the title screen.

You think you had it bad?

The only other really noteworthy thing about this game is its website, which still exists (www.ninjabread-man.com).  For the most part it's a bunch of tripe trying to up-sell the game's quality (or lack thereof) but there is one saving grace.  Apparently they wanted to get some fan feedback on what they wanted in the sequel and, amazingly, those few people that somehow derived enjoyment from this game responded.

 I may have a burnt face, but that doesn't mean I can't take over the world!
Take that Ninjabread Man, you shit!  Wa ha ha ha!

The amount of MS Paint creations and shoddy printer paper sketches that you'd expect to see Maddox make fun of in his free time is limited, but still quite something to behold.  There are even one or two people who can actually draw AND had unique ideas I doubt Data Design Interactive would ever be smart enough to come up with themselves.  One guy even plugged his website in the middle of the art submission.

Free advertising, whether Data Design Interactive liked it or not!

And in the end, this is all we'll likely ever see of the proposed Ninjabread Man sequel, titled Ninjabread Man: Blades of Fury.  All I can say is thank God, because if the sketch below is any indication, it might have ended up being the bastard child of Candyland and Saints Row.

Coktel?  Liquorice Lounge?  Was Ninjabread Man going to fight alcoholism in the sequel?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

SC On Lifeline (PS2)

"Voice-based controls?  Why the hell not?"
-Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc., circa 2002

Friday, May 31, 2013

Anime North 2013: The Chosen Con

Like the last couple years, I wound up going to Anime North again.  I slept a long time immediately after getting home and, once you read this, you'll likely understand why I was so exhausted.  That being said, let the pointless (not really because I forgot to take video of almost everything) recap of what little I can remember begin!

THURSDAY

-Left at 6am to go pick up the first person.  Oh, right.  I picked up two people along the way this time instead of one.

-Got lost only a couple miles from the person's house because my GPS tried leading me into a property marked by a "NO TRESPASSING" sign.  I had to call him and have him give me directions over the phone to figure out where to go.

 Let's not and say we did.

-Picked up SamuraiKH2, one of Zeromaster's abridger friends.  His car conveniently broke down a week or two before the con and, since we both live in the same state and he was only a small detour away, I gave him a lift.  He rather generously helped cover part of the gas costs.

-Zeromaster texts me about an hour or two after picking up Samurai asking if I had his address.  Samurai and I took this as an opportunity to lead Zero along so I said no.  He then asked if I had his phone number.  Again, I said no.  Samurai then gets a text from Zero asking for his number and address.  He sends them to Zero, Zero sends them to me.  I follow it up by saying my GPS couldn't find Samurai's house, which was technically true.

-Eventually text Zero that I found Samurai.  By this point we're actually about two hours ahead of where I said I was.  My last text to him was an "optimistic estimate" of 7pm for our arrival time.

-Cross the border into Canada with little trouble and end up at Blondeguygamer's house around 11am, but not before Samurai sends a text to Zero that the border patrol made us stop so they could do a thorough search of the vehicle and maybe ask a few more questions.

-Arrive at the hotel a little before 2:30pm.  That was a half-hour before the guy who reserved the room, Ace, would arrive and check in so we could get into the room.  At some point before this Samurai texts Zero again saying we finally left the border station and were headed to Blondy's place.

-Move everything into the room.  I had a big cardboard box I hid my sleeping bag and pillow in so the front desk would be none the wiser.  Tactical espionage action!

-Zero arrives a couple hours later and almost immediately strangles me.  Jokingly, of course.  He then gives me a bunch of mogul/manager sports games, and a WWE trivia DVD from 2006.  Since then, Pro Cycling Manager 2007 has by far gotten the most time put into it.

TEAM DISCOVERY CHANNEL

-We all go to the Double Tree, one of the three locations where the convention takes place, to pick up our panelist badges in advance.  It turns out they were using the hotel's wi-fi connection to handle their records and, shockingly, this made the whole process really slow and even grind to a halt at several points.  It took us about an hour and a half of waiting in a relatively short line to get out.

-By this time, Unreal had texted us saying that he arrived by train at Union Station in Toronto.  Wizwar100 comes with me to try and act as a guide, but this proves to be of little help once we hit downtown because Union Station is virtually surrounded by construction and has no good place to stop for pick-ups, unless you illegally park or pay out the ass for a nearby lot.  We circle the area before eventually coming to a dead end where Wiz got out to head to the station.  I was forced to leave so I wouldn't block traffic behind me from being able to U-turn out.

-With Wiz going to the station to find Unreal and lead him out, I am completely lost in downtown Toronto.  My GPS doesn't recognize about one-third of the streets in the area and I can't find my way back to where I dropped Wiz off earlier.  Eventually I say fuck it and find a place to stop (probably illegally) next to the Rogers Centre, aka that place where the Blue Jays play.  I almost immediately get surrounded by taxis and what appear to be valets.  Oh, and a bus.

 How my GPS reacts to downtown Toronto addresses.

-I call Wiz and tell him roughly where I am.  It's only in retrospect that I realize I'd stopped about four blocks away from the station, meaning I'd have to wait a pretty long time for the two of them to find me.  I call Wiz one last time to try and see where he is relative to me, but my phone dies.

-Several agonizing minutes later, Wiz and Unreal find me and we quickly load up the car and leave... or at least try to.  Toronto fucks with my GPS again and we end up turning into a couple dead-ends and, at one point, going in a circle.  Eventually Wiz helps guide us out of the city and we return to the hotel.

-It turns out we had enough people staying in the room that the beds and virtually all the floorspace were taken for sleeping.  Faaaaantastic.  I, as usual, slept on the floor.

FRIDAY

-I get some sleep.  Sort of.  Two, maybe three people in the room snored.  Since I already got my badge the previous day, I stayed in the room and ran some tests on WWE '13 for the RiverCityGamers panel happening later that night.

-Eat at Subway before the con?  It's a tradition now, I think.

-I throw on some gear to sort of look like my WWE '13 create-a-wrestler for the panel later that day.  When we get to the convention centre, we see a lin e that extends out one of the doors and spirals several times around the parking lot.  This, apparently, was the line to the dealer's room.  Most of us say "no thanks" and head over to the Sheraton where the game room n' shit are located.

-The same guys are there from last year running a Duck Hunt challenge.  Basically they set up a couple stations running Duck Hunt and keep track of people's scores for the whole weekend, with whoever does best at one duck winning a t-shirt and whoever does best at two ducks winning a retrogen system.  Wiz played two ducks and set what was, at the time, the current high score.  I played one duck and, after my arms got tired and my contacts started to dry out, I ended up with the current high score of 689,700 points.  So, for at least Friday, RiverCityGamers held the top spot on both score challenges.

 What?

-Eventually we all decide to have some dinner before we do our panel (or Zero's case, panels).  Instead of going to the same place as last year we went to Montana's.  I got the chicken penne and loved every bit of it.  Also, the waiter we had was into a lot of the same fandoms we were and he had a good sense of humor about it.  He was tipped generously.

-Dinner runs a bit later than we thought it would.  While some of Zero's buddies for the 9pm abridging panel get there ahead of us, Some of us had to stop by the hotel to get things we needed for that or the RiverCityGamers panel, which was immediately afterward in the same room.  I ended up driving some of us from the hotel to the convention centre, dropping some of them off, then miraculously finding a parking space that wasn't too far away from where I dropped them off.

-The abridging panel goes pretty well.  By pretty well I mean the staff capped the attendance because it was standing room only.

-Time to set up for the RCG panel.  Most of the people cleared out, though some stayed behind.  At least we wouldn't be talking to an empty room.  I hook up my 360 to the TV and get WWE '13 booted up, even though it won't be used until near the end of the panel.

-At the panel we start by announcing CanadianJutsu as a new member of the site.  I show a promo for the last part of "I Wanna Play Escape from Bug Island!"  the date of the finale is listed as "whenever the hell I feel like it."  Someone asks if I feel like it yet.  I smile and say no.

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*SPOILERS FOR THE ANIME NORTH RUMBLE AHEAD*
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How do I humor?

-After Blondy and Wiz show their videos and we answer a couple questions, I start up the rumble.  Zero ends up coming out first with Harry "Loadsamoney" Enfield.  Zero eliminates him in under 30 seconds.  In an awkward moment, Onirokaku comes out wearing a USA top hat and eliminates Zero, who was wearing a Canada sentai suit.  Other guest entries included Bill Cosby and wrestler-turned-zombie Booker T-Virus.  Eventually it comes down to CanadianJutsu (in his debut match), Bill Cosby, Unreal, and Blondy.  Cosby gets eliminated quickly, CJ gets curbstomped when Unreal and Blondy double-team him, and Blondy eventually wins it for Canada.

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*END SPOILERS*
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-After the panel we make our way back to my car and the hotel.  We start watching Miami Connection, which I now own thanks to a random song in the credits of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.  There was much laughter.

SATURDAY

-After kind of sort of getting some sleep, I end up putting on my only real cosplay of the entire con: The Chosen One from Kung Pow: Enter the Fist.  With gopherchucks!

-Drive to the convention and get one of the last few dozen parking spots left open.  Seeing no big-ass line to get in the building outside of registration, we head inside and make for the dealers room.

-End up buying two games on the first run through the dealer's room.  One is Rival Schools for the Playstation, something I never thought I'd be able to find in decent condition with the original box and instruction book for only $40.  Zeromaster helped me cover the cost for it, since I was going into the con with less money than usual. (I'm still paying you back for that somehow, you damn Canadian!)  The second is Magic Carpet, which the vendor mocked for how bad it was.  Too bad I played it before and liked it... about 16 years ago.

-Moments later I end up at another video game vendor.  This one has a few oddities, but the one that catches my eye is the stack of five still-sealed brand new copies of Vampire Rain sitting on a lower shelf.  Out of morbid curiosity I asked how much they were selling for.  The answer? $2 each.  Make that THREE games I bought on the first runthrough.

-There was another game vendor that had a decent selection, but really high prices on almost everything.  They were trying to sell Bloody Roar 4 for $40.  I laughed.  Out loud.  In front of one of the people running the table.

 It was priced higher than Mike Tyson's Punch Out!

-At some point we head back to the hotel where I make the second coming of the con burrito.  This time it included mini Nestle Crunch bars, rice noodles, Nerds, Koala March chocolate things, and Wheat Thins.  It was... about what you'd expect.

- Eventually we form a giant group and head over to Sushiya for an early dinner.  It took a while to be seated because our group took up, oh, one-sixth of the total seating available.  I got the chicken teryaki and messed around with Cassie (another abridger friend) and Wiz talking about kanji/hiragana writing.  Turns out I'm actually retaining some of the shit I do in class!

-After that we carpool our way to Playdium in nearby Mississauga.  They have a deal where you can pay $25 on a Saturday to get unlimited play in the arcade for four hours.  We got there around 9pm and the place closed at 1am, so it worked out well for us.

-Oddly enough, the first thing I went for was a Rolling Stones pinball machine.  Somehow I wound up having 3 balls in play at the same time and earning a couple free balls.  Why do I keep going for the pinball machines first?

-Some of the machines were changed.  Primeval Hunt and Terminator Salvation were still there, but instead of the original machine T.S. was running on a duplicate of the nearby Aliens Extermination machine.  Also, there's some bullshit 3D glasses horror rail shooter called Dark Escape 4D there now with a flashing graphic of a woman screaming on the back of it and a giant cube hanging over it that has screenshots posted on it.  I think the fourth "D" is for "desperate to be liked."

-Blondy and I try the machine next to it.  I don't remember the name of it, but it's a pirate-themed rail shooter with two gun turrets which encourages shooting targets together for score bonuses and a wheel in the middle used for dodging shit and steering ships.  We breeze through it, set a high score, then the game resets and brings up a main menu with PS3 button prompts in the lower right.  The game was running off a PS3 the entire time!  How many other machines are set up like this?

-Unreal and I try Dark Escape 4D, despite our better judgment.  I find what looks like an empty bottle of some kind of alcohol in the bin where my 3D glasses were sitting.  Because of that and our not taking this crap seriously for a second, we forgo the 3D glasses.  Thankfully the game has a 2D option.

-As we're sorting things out, the game flashes a blatant ass shot of the female lead.  By flashes, I mean it holds that shot for a solid three seconds.  Oh joy, it's that kind of game.

Totally not the SAW guy.  At all.  He has a mask instead of a puppet!

-I discover that I can't properly play the game without taking my gloves off.  The game has sensors in the gun grips that measure your heart rate.  I notice that before the game even starts, Unreal's heart rate is just naturally higher than mine is.

-The game is your average low-grade horror, pop scare marathon in rail shooter form.  It measures your heart rate after every pop scare to determine if you've "panicked" and uses that as part of your score.  We decide very quickly to just play one level and leave this shit to someone else.

-At the end of the stage the game says I panicked 3 times out of 9.  It also says Unreal panicked 8 times out of 9.  Yup, this was a load of shit.  Moving on!

-There's a DJMax Technika machine, but it doesn't work with the 4-hour plan we got.  Dammit.

-There was a Tank!  Tank!  Tank! machine there.  Maybe I'm jaded because I played it on the WiiU first and didn't like it much, but the game still seems really unremarkable in its original form.

-After Burner arcade machine that tilts around with the aircraft?  Well of course!

-I didn't realize until really late that the four-hour plan worked on the DDR machine.  Still enough time for Wiz and I to get completely exhausted playing it, though.

-After walking around the arcade, I realize Playdium has some sort of fetish for the arcade machines that have two guns and a wheel in the middle.  There are at least four of them in some form or another.

-Before returning to the hotel we head straight to Harvey's, where Unreal films an episode of Menu Madness.  I blow my American cover when I order something as "plain" even though Harvey's has the burgers put together in front of you.

SUNDAY

-Before doing much else after waking up, I do one of my only videos of the con.  It was dumb, and will likely end up on my YouTube acting as a link to this blog.

-Head to Subway for breakfast.  My breakfast of choice?  Meatball marinara.

-Before going into the dealers room we wander around the artists area.  Zero ends up buying me and Blondy a poster featuring all the Silent Hill protagonists.

-Get back to the dealers room and end up buying River City Ransom on the GameBoy Advance.  About time that thing got some use.

-Do a little price comparison.  The last couple years I thought about getting a Decepticon hockey jersey.  Yes, they sell those.  Canada.  Anyway, they cost around $110.  This year I noticed another dealer that was selling Decepticon basketball jerseys.  The price?  $40.  GUESS WHO JUST SAVED $70?!

Transformers: Vampires in Silent Carpet Schools

-We head to the Sheraton to get at least one song in on Rock Band, which had a smaller setup than it did last year, which had a smaller setup than the year before that.  We also find out the Duck Hunt guys stopped taking scores and would announce the winners a little later.  Unreal and I manage to get through "Holy Diver" before heading over.

-The guys start with the one duck scores.  A guy named Andrew finished first, but he didn't show up to the announcement.  Since they had a physical prize to give out they defaulted first place to the second place score.  Apparently my score from Friday was good enough for second overall and default first place!  I won a Duck Hunt t-shirt as well as $30 to spend at a nearby candy stand.

-For two ducks, the guy that won had apparently been trying to win for a couple years and finally got first this year.  A bunch of other names were announced from the list, among them the now-default second-place finisher, before Wiz eventually earned $10 to spend at the same candy place.

-My pick-ups included chocolate-covered pretzels sticks, chocolate AND sprinkle-covered pretzel sticks, some sour candy called Toxic Waste, some Mario candies that tasted like Runts, another fruit-based Mario candy, some JellyBelly, and a bunch of other shit I can't begin to remember.  As soon as I got back to the hotel room I said anyone was welcome to have some because there was no way in hell I could eat everything on my own.

 This is all the candy that survived the trip home.

-At some point we go to Harvey's again.  Unreal shoots another Menu Madness before we go back to the hotel.

-We begin shooting something Unreal's been working on for months before going back to the hotel to finish watching Miami Connection, as well as it's deleted sce- THIS MOVIE HAS DELETED SCENES?!

MONDAY

-I woke up around 5:30am after getting next to no sleep.  It's one thing to have someone in your room who snores, but having four people who snore made it impossible for me to get any sleep, which I'd need plenty of for the more-than-8-hour drive home.  I resorted to dragging my pillow and sleeping bag into the bathroom, (the wall at least partially helped block the sound) sleeping on my side so one ear was blocked by the pillow, and using the one non-busted headphone for my mp3 player on the other ear.

-Drove Unreal to Union Station, or at least tried to.  Like before, there weren't any good places to stop and let someone out.  Also, we weren't entirely sure where the station even was.  After vaguely remembering a map of the station Zero showed me the night before, I eventually stop and ask a random person if we're close to the station.  When she said something along the lines of "it's right over there" I immediately stop (probably illegally) and let Unreal out.

-Got back to the hotel around... I don't even know what time, but I fell asleep again.  Or at least tried to.

-By noon we're packed up, checked out, and I proceed to drive home, dropping off Blondy and Samurai on the way.

-Get home a little before 8pm.  I remember checking the mail, having a drink and/or snack, and unloading the back seat of the car before taking a "nap."

TUESDAY

-Well, that was a nice 16-hour nap.  So much for going to work that day.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

New Music Track: Vidya Games on Unicycles

My apologies for not posting much, but there is something I've done recently that I'm actually sort of almost proud of. It took almost eleven months due to near-constant writer's (musician's?) block, but here it is. Now you can headbang to Uniracers music. Not that you couldn't already because Uniracers has awesome music, but still.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Bloody Roar Retrospective: Bloody Roar: The Fang



Have no idea how to read Japanese?  Me neither, but let's try to understand anything from this alternate universe in which bats actually look like bats and Not Yugo sucks at video games.