Monday, September 29, 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

SC on Mighty Gunvolt (3DS)

The gun is good.  The volt is evil.
Well, I wasn't expecting this (blog entry) to be a thing. Mighty Gunvolt, as the name suggests, is a title from Inti Creates, also known as "those people working on Mighty No. 9."  While it won't be commercially available by itself until December, it's being given away for free to two groups of people:

1. People who buy the recently-released Azure Striker Gunvolt, and
2. People who backed Mighty No. 9's Kickstarter.

Mighty Gunvolt plays, sounds and looks like the retro Mega Man games, so I'll try and make clear where it's different.  For example, the translation job on the game is so shoddy I can't tell what's going on.  Take this excerpt from the opening crawl:

The other time, the other place: experiments on humans started by massive media group "Sumeragi" to audition for next "muse" idol.  their magic hand even reached female schools.  Female students vanished, and no new couples formed.  Love was in danger.
"Gunvolt," it's the name who we call the only one to fight them.  It's no accident he was involved in the troubles.  Together with angel "Ekoro" and robot "Beck" he fights to free successivefuly occupied major city facilities.

Mission: Successivefuly.
As the text suggests, there are three different characters to play as which affect the order of the stages slightly.  You can't switch characters as the game goes on, but the game's only five levels long so whatever.

Each character has different abilities that affect how you might approach certain parts of each stage.  Gunvolt can double jump and has a mid-range pillar of sparks he can shoot which can be moved slightly up and down.  Ekoro can hover (think Toadstool in Mario Bros. 2) and charm enemies to fly with her and shoot other enemies, as well as launch them into other enemies.  Beck has a dash attack, which he can also use to enter narrow passages.

There honestly isn't much to say about the levels as they're all pretty basic jump-and-shoot sidescrolling platforming.  As someone who doesn't play a lot of Mega Man I had no problem reaching and beating the end of the game in a single playthrough, much less the two other playthroughs I did afterward.  The one sticking point is being able to defeat the bosses at each level, which comes down to the old newbie Mega Man strategy of sacrificing a life to see what their attack patterns are like.  The bosses do tend to throw out an extra attack when they're low on health, but by then it's too late for them.
The game doesn't run smoothly though, save for when you're playing as Ekoro and try to grab onto a ladder while holding a charge shot; you can get stuck to the ladder doing this.
Overall I'm glad this was just a free game, and allegedly it won't cost very much when it does release by itself.  It's a fun diversion for a half-hour or so but I can't see myself playing it anymore beyond now.

Anyway, once you complete the game you'll see the following text:

In order to prevent a "muse" auditions, "Copen" infiltrated Sumeragi group, to rescue "muse".  But his plans ware shattered by "Zonda" easily defeated him.  "Zonda" would use her, to fill the world with ultimate love.  But "Zonda" was a failure.
What was the true planning of "Zonda?"  With his death, no one may never know.  The first place it is unknown if anything really existed in that world was real.  So, perhaps all "Zonda" has showed may have ben illusion...

Who the fuck is Ben Illusion?


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

SC On Sega Superstars Tennis (Wii)

In the background: characters who were collecting dust before this game.
 This is going to be relatively quick as I didn't have much patience to play beyond what the game initially offered.  As such, don't view this as anything more than an extended impression of sorts.

That being said, I found Mario Tennis on the N64 more enjoyable.

Sega Superstars Tennis doesn't have much to offer in terms of stuff to do.  You can experiment with different characters as there is a decent roster of 16 characters (though 5 of them, almost 1/3 of the roster are Sonic characters).  There are different types of characters with different focuses such as ballspin, speed, power, control, and all around.  The only ones that seemed to make any major difference in how I played were speed and power. 
Each character is also supposed to have a special ability that builds up over the course of a match which can cause the ball to take weird paths through the air and confuse the opponent, as well as having other effects such as the Rokkaku Police running onto the court for Beat's and Gum's specials. The thing is, the computer opponent is never fooled by the weird flight patterns, which make the ball take way more time to get across the court and reduces that would-be strategic move to little more than a novelty.

You can play a singles or a doubles tournament if you like, though at most you'll end up playing three matches and a "special" hidden stage against the Sonic villains before a rather lazy credit sequence plays.  Outside of adjusting the difficulty, that's it for this mode.

I don't wanna work.  I wanna bang on this game all day.

The beef of the game, however, is in a mode called Planet Superstars.  The idea is to jump around different game worlds based on different Sega franchises and completing specific tasks according to the world you enter.  For example, the Puyo Pop Fever world involves completing a game of Puyo Pop by smacking tennis balls at grouped puyos of matching colors.  The House of the Dead "Curien Mansion" world involves hitting zombies with tennis balls as they shamble toward you and/or throw axes.  The Virtua Squad world turns the game into a gallery shooter where you try to take out targets before they "shoot" you.  Space Harrier world is basically Space Harrier... with tennis balls and without the ability to fly.

Those are all well and good except for two things.

One, some of these challenges really expose how strange some of the game's controls are.  Only in singles or doubles matches/tournaments can you pick the control scheme to use, of which there are three (one with the nunchuk, two without).  Most of the time it forces you to play with the Wiimote held like an NES controller, where performing drop shots or lobs involves mashing both buttons at the same time in a certain sequence.  Aiming these is also a chore as sometimes you need to hold a certain direction, then move to a diagonal direction while making the shot.  This is absolutely infuriating to do in places like the Chu Chu Rocket world, where you need to hit a specific tile, sometimes more than once, quickly to not fail the stage.  Thanks for taking the fun out of Chu Chu Rocket, Sega.

The second problem is the more glaring issue, though.  There is zero balance to these worlds.  The Sonic world has a total of 14 missions, easily the most in the game.  Super Monkey Ball and Jet Set Radio have 12.  Virtua Squad, Puyo Pop Fever, Chu Chu Rocket and Space Harrier have 10

Guess how many missions the Space Channel 5, Samba de Amigo, OutRun worlds each have?  Just two each.
NiGHTS isn't much better off with only three missions, though all of them got it better than Golden Axe and Alex Kidd which have just one goddamn mission each.  
 More like Lonely Axe, am I right?
Not only that, but many assets get reused between each world.  For example, Space Channel 5's court is used for the Chu Chu Rocket world, which really pissed me off because Space Channel 5's court legit screws with my eyes.  Because of the mix of dark colors and bright lines I would occasionally lose track of where the ball was or, for overhand smashes, have no idea where the ball was in the air and completely miss the shot.
Oh, and did I mention the game isn't the best programmed thing I've played recently?  In the time I spent playing doubles matches with this game, my character froze for no apparent reason on five separate occasions.
It's a good thing I didn't pay much for this game or I'd be more pissed off.  Until then I'll just continue to sulk about how there are no new Jet Set Radio/Golden Axe/Chu Chu Rocket/OutRun/House of the Dead games coming any time soon.
Although there is Hover: Revolt of Gamers being developed, so that's something.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

SGDQ 2014 Blog: Day 8 (The End Is Near)

The mood was still up, but you could tell some people were starting to get a little down that the marathon was so close to ending.  A lot of people would be heading home after the last part of the marathon, leaving about five hours between the time the marathon finished and checkout Sunday morning.  The parking lot thinned out quite a bit by Sunday afternoon.

On a lighter note though, I managed to catch the entire FF6 run, aside from a few minutes where I stepped out for a bathroom break.  MisterMV has the singing voice of an angel.  Essentia has the singing voice of a fallen angel, though I credit that more to the filter put over her voice.

Meanwhile, the bonus stream would get going later in the day Sunday with the most official of organization methods; paper and pen.  Bonus stream is a lot more laid back, so there's not a ton of pressure involved.  I volunteered a couple of games which might make it on at some point, though I'm trying to defer to anyone who signed up before me.

Until I get back, this will be the final entry in this series of blogs.  I had a great time at this year's SGDQ and hope that I can make it to future marathons as a runner, volunteer or otherwise.  I'm also not looking forward to the drive back because seriously, Kansas is terrible.  Thanks again to the folks at SpeedDemosArchive for organizing the event and letting me run a game during the marathon (with a donation incentive no less) and to LazerLong for letting me sit in on MadWorld.  Also thanks to |3ass|3oost for splitting a room for the duration of the marathon and then some.

And before I go, congratulations to JKB for winning that Mario Sunshine race.  Ohio was represented well this marathon.  Now to get back to putting together the next Five Dollar Gaming...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

SGDQ 2014 Blog: Day 7 (Viva Video Juegos)

Oh, of course.  Now that I don't actually need to be awake at some ungodly hour for my run, now I'm waking up at 5:00 in the afternoon.  Ah well, at least I'll get to see some of the Mario bloc and maybe get to the practice room when it's thinned out a bit.

I forgot to mention that at one point the previous night the stream window cut out for a bit, as in the computers used to run the stream were still going but the display was gone entirely.  Much to their credit, the guys running tech didn't panic and got the stream back to normal within a couple minutes.

I was stunned at how much money had been raised since I last checked the total: over $300,000.  When I went to sleep it was around $260,000.  It turns out they added some more donation incentives, including a race of Ocarina of Time between Cosmo and Skater.  Since then they added a couple other incentives and the donation total has been climbing at a rapid pace.  Someone donated saying they were going to snipe the Save/Kill the Animals bid war for Super Metroid, and to that guy all I can say is I hope you have very, very deep pockets.

Another event started at the convention center as SGDQ soldiered on.  I don't know what it is, but it seems to be some sort of Hispanic culture event.  I can hear lots of singing and music and people generally having a good time in the adjacent rooms.  At one point during the Mario World run a really loud air horn went off at that event, loud enough that it came through over the SGDQ stream.  I should mention that the microphones used for the marathon are generally good at not picking up background noise and people talking or moving around in the background, so having it come through on the stream gives you an idea of just how loud it was.

Meanwhile, my PB for Zombie Panic "Why the hell not try running it?" in Wonderland dropped again to 27:24.  Considering the first time I kept track of is almost 4 minutes slower, I'm quite happy with how things have gone so far.

And when I went to sleep, the marathon hit over $440,000.  I can't wait to see what the final rally of donations during FF6 looks like.

Friday, June 27, 2014

SGDQ 2014 Blog: Day 6 (Milestones)

Usually when I sit in the marathon room to watch I sit near the back, close to where the registration table is set up.  It's pretty cool to see and hear how excited some people, including and especially people who aren't necessarily runners themselves, are about being able to attend.

I ended up pulling an all-nighter because there was no way in hell I was going to miss Metal Wolf Chaos cutscene%.  If you aren't familiar with the game, it's a Japan-only XBox game which is by far the most American game ever made.  I know you might be rolling your eyes at that, but so was my girlfriend until she watched the run, then later called me to apologize for having her doubts.

At some point during the Castlevania III run the marathon hit the $250,000 mark.  Incredible.  That's about what they raised at last year's SGDQ and this year they still have a few more days to go.  Here's hoping the build-up for the end of the FF6 run is as dramatic as the Chrono Trigger run was at AGDQ 2014.

Again, I spent some time working on Battle Clash in the practice area.  I'm at the point where every single shot counts now, as I've lowered my personal best time by over a minute since being here.  Well, that and I'm at the mercy of how some of the bosses path around because my co-pilot likes to wobble drunkenly back and forth on some of them.  I'm definitely aiming for the bonus stream with this one.

And on a side note, FUCK YEAH USA!  I mean that for both the World Cup and Metal Wolf Chaos.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

SGDQ 2014 Blog: Day 5 (Smash and Singing in Denver)

I forgot to mention this before and it seems pretty minor, but a quick note about BlueGlass.  During the El Viento run there were a total of two people watching the projection of the stream, one of them being me.  BlueGlass came in from the other side of the room and was going to cross in front of the projector to get to another set of seats.  Rather than walk in front of the projection, he got down and sorta-crawled under the screen.  The guy went out of his way to not be a minor inconvenience to two random people for a quarter of a second, if that.

There was a Smash Bros. Melee tournament being held adjacent to the practice area, as well as a Project M tournament.  Against my better judgment I signed up for the Melee one, despite not playing Melee in years.  You can probably guess what happened next; I lost every single match, seeing as how several of the people who entered are hardcore competitive players of Smash.  I ended up driving the point home when I was asked about striking stages (or something like that, can't remember the exact term) and my response was 'What does that mean?'  The tournament was a $5 pay in, but it was all going to Doctors Without Borders and I just wanted to have a bit of fun so whatevs.

Despite being in the room to watch the entire thing, I'm still not sure what exactly happened during Cosmo's ZZT run.  I was just born early enough to have memories of playing some games similar to ZZT on my parents' IBM computer and always figured I didn't know what to do or what was going on because I was too young to get it.  Now I'm not so certain about that.

I was wondering why he was carrying around a guitar most of the week, but after hearing Striker's speedrunning song, I may have to ask if he'd want any royalties for doing a cover version.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

SGDQ 2014 Blog: Day 4 (It's Time)

I didn't wake up at 9:30 in the morning despite being awake until the sun came up.  Nope, I woke up at noon.  This whole "changing my body clock" thing isn't working very well.

I must say, I was happy to find that there was a Qdoba and a Subway nearby because having only burger places around (Wendy's, McDonalds, etc.) would have gotten old fast.  Even better though, today Qdoba catered lunch for SGDQ!  Burrito is love.  Burrito is life.

Somehow I managed to post improved times on almost every stage of Battle Clash as well as get a faster single-segment time that's below 14 minutes.  If I work up the nerve and find out how to do it, maybe I could try getting this on the bonus stream after the main marathon.

I also decided to start running Zombie Panic in Wonderland because... because.  I haven't gotten much planning done on it yet, but I did manage to figure out some ways to drop my time from a little over 40 minutes to a little over 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, I was still nervous as hell about the Ninjabread Man run.  I've played shows in a band and as a solo act before and done the YouTube thing for a while, but the audience for that was nothing like what the GDQ streams get.  I practiced until the game locked up trying to do the level skip and took that as a sign to stop.

Being on the couch for MadWorld did help calm my nerves a little bit, and for that I really owe LazerLong for letting me on it.  I was trying to keep track of the amount of swears in the game as part of the MadWorld Swear Jar, mostly relying on my knowledge of the game's music to count those so I could focus on the in-game commentary and goons.  In the end, over 250 swears were counted.  I hope that guy who said he'd match the swear jar has deep pockets!

For the Ninjabread Man run most people lost the fight against time and had to go to sleep.  Laz offered to stick around since he'd seen me practicing earlier and knew a bit about what I was trying to do.  Cool guy, even letting me use his Wii cables to make setup go faster.  Mike Uyama was also there, which made me even more nervous.  If the texts I got afterward from my friends were right, the twitch chat was on me for the fingerless gloves I was wearing.  To that all I can say is 'Twitch chat will be twitch chat.'  Well, that and 'My hands are really fucking cold, especially when the AC is cranked up to 11.'

The actual run went surprisingly well.  I missed the tutorial skip a few times and had to use the safe (read: slower) method of doing it, but the rest went rather well and I wound up with a time around 4 minutes 43 seconds, well under my "everything went wrong" estimate of 20:00.  Thanks again to everyone who donated for the one-handed incentive and the GDQ crew for deciding to take a chance on a rookie like me.

Also, I looked up the comments from the guys at RiverCityGamers who donated.  I swear, you likely won't see me streaming this game for a long, long time.  I have other terrible games to beat as fast as possible. :D

I stayed around for a couple more runs before my eyes were burning from being awake too long.  I did manage to catch Graviton destroying the first Bubsy game, though.  That takes me back to when I had the game as a kid, dying in nearly every conceivable way.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

SGDQ 2014 Blog: Day 3 (Is That a Super Scope?!)

I was trying to adjust my sleep schedule so that I'd be awake more late at night, but even after staying up until almost 6am I still woke up around 9:30 in the morning.  I wasn't even that tired most of the day, either.  What the hell, body?

Other runners use the practice room to play stuff other than what they run because, let's face it, you'd go stir crazy otherwise.  I brought my Super Scope and Battle Clash because it's a game I've been working on running and it's a nice break from something like Ninjabread Man.  It drew some looks and a few people asking if there was a Super Scope game on the schedule.  Heh, I wish.  After doing a little strategy testing I decided in a "Why the hell not?" moment to try taking the aiming scope off and playing the game while only having a general idea of where my shots would go.  Somehow I managed to complete the game, with only one game over no less!  Maybe I should think about pursing this further...

My favorite run of the day (that I saw at least) was easily Blasto.  The guy running it (Saint Connor) is a pretty cool guy and he certainly put on a show with the game, especially when his character model was tumbling ass over tea kettle through an underwater level that wasn't supposed to be underwater, trying to shoot an alien but only spraying random shots everywhere.  If you watch absolutely nothing else, watch what he did after the run finished.

I think I'm as prepared for the run as I'll ever be.  I've beaten Ninjabread Man at least 40 times since I got to Denver and I've found a consistent way to do the one-handed incentive without the Wiimote slipping entirely out of my right hand.

Monday, June 23, 2014

SGDQ 2014 Blog: Day 1 (It Begins)

Before the marathon started the head honcho held a quick meeting in the practice room with most of the runners to go over what not to do.  At one point he said just try to get along and be nice to each other, which prompted someone near me to hurl a half-hearted insult my way.  This somehow led to trading quotes from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, ending with us both saying "Happy Chanukah" at the same time.

Shortly after the marathon officially kicked off the crowd was a little stunned to hear that SGDQ had already raised $12,000.  Even considering it was possible to donate shortly before the marathon, There wasn't nearly that much money donated as recently as the day before and this was only about seven and a half minutes into Mario 3D World.

While not too surprising that there are other US soccer fans in attendance, it's nice to see a couple USA jerseys around.  There were a couple dozen people who stopped at the hotel bar to watch the match between the US and Portugal.  Half the people there wanted to strangle Bradley for giving up the ball that allowed Portugal to tie the game, and for his poor play in general.

I'm surprised at the amount of times someone has stopped and watched me practice Ninjabread Man, though I think it's mostly for the "Someone speedruns this shit?" factor.  To cool down from that I brought my Super Scope and Battle Clash, which also got a few looks.  I found out purely from a dumb idea I had that I can in fact beat the game without the aiming reticule attached to the scope.  Future run donation incentive maybe?

I'm trying to adjust my sleep schedule so that I'll be awake--not just conscious, awake--for MadWorld and my run after that.  I was watching runs in the marathon room to help with that, but considering that I was starting to nod off and there's a rule that anyone who falls asleep in there might have random shit put on them if someone donates for it, I thought it would be best to not stick around that area.  It's 5:30am and I still have a couple days to adjust.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

SGDQ 2014 Blog: Day 0 (Travel Day)

Why?  Why not?  I need something to do when I'm not flipping out about how badly I'm going to bomb my run.

I left for Summer Games Done Quick around 10pm last night with another runner from the area.  Good thing he came too, because by the time we were heading through Illinois I was getting really tired.  We would trade off, driving in shifts.  This worked up until we hit Kansas.

Anyone who ever bitched about Ohio being boring to drive through can kiss my ass.  If you ever wanted to know what the "Great American Desert" looked like, try driving through Kansas along I-70.  Not only was there little to speak for outside of endless grassy plains, several signs of civilization were abandoned.  In our case, it was mostly gas stations.  When we needed gas.  Fun times.

I can say this about Denver, though: we never saw it coming.  I kept checking the GPS which said we were 30, then 20, then 10 miles away from the city and I still couldn't see the city skyline on the horizon.  Denver just sort of appeared after we were within about 5 miles of it, way after I got my first in-person glimpse of the Rocky Mountains behind it.

After getting to the hotel I quickly found out that there was a convention going on at the same time SGDQ would be starting: RomCon.  As far as I can tell it's a convention about romance authors, stories or some shit like that.  At one point a group of SGDQ people and RomCon people were in the same elevator.  One of the RomConers had a riding whip and said "The safe word is yellow."  She remarked to the others about how fast the gamers were walking away when the elevator opened, probably not realizing that some of them likely go to anime conventions and have seen as bad or far worse than what she just did.

In the parking lot I was mistaken for Murphagator.  Not sure how the hell that happened.

The convention center attached to the hotel is where SGDQ will get streamed live, and holy shit the space is huge.  It's one massive open area split into a few areas.  The first is the registration and main streaming area where you see everyone speedrun their games.  Next to that is the practice area.  The third space is the food area, the only space where food or drink is allowed.  At the moment all I can say about the entire space is holy shit, it's really cold in there.  Hopefully firing up a couple dozen computers and consoles warms the space up a little.

Also, I met another runner there who happens to be an Ohio State student.  O-H!

By sundown the practice room was in full swing.  A couple dozen TVs were set up with a few more in reserve and everyone was either playing Smsh Bros. Melee, practicing, or streaming their practice.  It's weird to stand at a TV muddling through Ninjabread Man while there are some people who have a game running on a TV, streamed to twitch via a laptop and webcam, with a condenser mic suspended over the set.  It was one of those "Am I really supposed to be here?" kind of moments.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

SC On Sony's E3 Experience and Nintendo's Smashfest

The odds of someone like me, from a financial and geographical standpoint, ever getting the chance to go to E3 are slim to none.  Actually, get rid of the "slim" part.  That makes events like these, even though they're such a small sample of what E3 presents, increasingly important for console companies trying to reach as much of their audience as possible, including and especially people who can't be at E3.  Two such events happened recently; Sony's E3 Experience, Nintendo Smash Fest and Microsoft's E3 Hands-On Demo.

Sony's E3 Experience

This event was a special screening of Sony's E3 conference which took place at select movie theaters across the country.  The one I attended was at a local (as in 'I drove half an hour on the freeway to get there.') Regal movie theater.  I printed off a wait list e-mail after registering for the event earlier in the week and got there around 80 minutes before the conference started, finding myself about 12 people deep in a wait list line that was on the other side of the theater.  Only people who got tickets could wait at the check-in area.

We were the "have nots" that evening.
So I'd have something to do I brought along my 3DS with Fire Emblem Awakening.  After a while I started to notice something.  Even considering that people might not have them out, there seemed to be a lot more people with a 3DS in attendance than a Vita or a PSP.  I counted four or five people with a Sony handheld versus the 14 or so 3DS users.  I wound up with 18 StreetPass tags before the night was through.

The line for attendees with tickets was steadily growing, stretching back to the theater entrance while I and the other have nots sweated it out.  After a long wait and several slain Risen, the ticket attendees were taken care of and we were moved into the check-in line.

Chuck it out.  You're che-cking-iiiiiin!
The guy at the front of the line handing out passes with "VIP" printed on them warned us that there would be limited entry to the event, reminding everyone several times that being on the wait list didn't guarantee us entry.  After getting to the point where I stood eight people from the front of the line, that same guy held up his arm so we could see it, pointing to the four passes left hanging on it, and said "This is all I have left."  Shortly after that an attendee with a ticket who got his pass walked out of the screening room to get some popcorn, but not before turning to the wait list line and saying "They've still got a TON of seats left in there."
That's when the whispers started.  Were we really going to be left out of the event despite the number of open seats?  Hell, were we going to miss the conference entirely?

Then the guy handing out passes got on his phone and gestured to the woman checking off names to look under the desk.  She pulled out a box and dumped out a few bags, each having at least 30 passes in them.

The guy smiled as half the line gave him a stare that said both "Oh thank God" and "You motherfucker."

The audience is now hype.

The screening itself got off to a strange start.  The lights in the theater weren't turned down until a few minutes in, which prompted someone to yell "CLAPPER!" and clap a couple times.  Then at around the 50-minute mark the bottom half of the video started to glitch out.  Ten minutes later the video began flickering and, about a minute later, the video and audio froze before cutting out entirely.  This happened a few times over the course of about fifteen minutes.

Aside from that, there wasn't too much noteworthy.  Someone in the crowd yelled "Last Guardian?!" at the start of a trailer for The Order: 1886 and someone else yelled "Sly Cooper crossover!" when they saw Ratchet & Clank on screen.
The best part came after the conference ended (and some interviews by Geoff Keighley after the conference started airing).  Upon leaving the theater the same people handling the line earlier were handing out a poster of some games presented at the conference and reminding people to check their badges when they got home.  Each badge had a web address and a code printed on the back.  Redeeming the code got a person access to the Battlefield: Hardline Beta on June 16th, the Destiny Alpha on June 12th, 30 free days of Music Unlimited and a $5 PSN voucher.  Thanks, Sony!  I can't use half of this, but thanks!

Nintendo Smash Fest
Smash Fest is similar to an event Nintendo ran last year.  At Best Buy stores across the nation they took over a demo station and used it to show off a series of upcoming WiiU titles.  This time they did the same thing, but exclusively for the new Smash Bros. game... or so we thought.
Best Buy wasn't quite ready for the coming storm.
I got to a local Best Buy (fifteen minute drive on the highway) and found myself sitting around 29th in line, getting there an hour and a half before they let people inside.  I don't know if it was just due to the specific people in line, but they seemed way more social than the people at the Sony event did.  Carrying on with random people helped the wait go by much faster.  Well, that and the few dozen StreetPass tags.

Somewhere between that pillar and the highway a half-mile away
is the end of the line.
 Then the moment came where they tried letting the whole line into the store at once.  Oh, those poor Best Buy bastards trying to keep the line organized.  It became pretty clear they'd have to improvise a bit when the initial roped off line was completely filled, people were piling up at the appliance section (a little over halfway into the store grounds) and there were still a lot of people in line who hadn't even entered the building yet.

 My name is Smash.  For we are many.

They took chunks of the line and started winding them through the aisles of the appliances section.  My section wound up waiting next to some stoves and coffee makers.  

For we are many!

People were still filing into the building as they took the line and extended it into the home theater section of the store (read: the back wall of the store) as well as the main aisle in front of it.  Finally they got everyone into the building, but not without ensuring no one would be able to shop in about one-sixth of the store.

My wait was not just relatively quick, but also well-positioned.  I wound up at the end of an aisle right before the main line and could see the first couple groups playing.  Everyone in line got to play two four-person, two-minute rounds.  The idea was to have a round where people could adapt to the controls, since they only had pro controllers to play with.

And of course, thanks to D1's commentary during the Smash Bros. Invitational, the first round of the first group of people wound up being Mega Man vs. Mega Man vs. Mega Man vs. Mega Man.  And yes, someone did scream the Mega Man theme when one of them did their final smash.

You can't unhear it.
Then the damndest thing happened.  The line was progressing at a good pace and people were having a lot of fun with the Smash demo, but in addition to the WiiU demo there was also a person in line with a 3DS tethered to her belt letting people try out the Smash Run mode in the 3DS version.  It was a fairly quick demo, what with having to keep the line moving and all, but nice nonetheless.  There was another person doing the same thing at a table after people played the WiiU version as well.
 I can only imagine how much she got dragged around the line as the event went on.

Then the moment of truth came and I got to test run the WiiU version.  I wound up picking the person I was most interested in testing out, which was Little Mac.  Apparently I wasn't alone, because there were about six other guys in line watching and rooting for him.
The round ended with Sudden Death between me and a Donkey Kong player which went on for almost a full minute of us dodging each others' attacks.  I didn't expect to do nearly that well considering I haven't touched any of the Smash games in a long, long time.  By sheer luck I wound up getting the win and eliciting some cheers from the peanut gallery before playing as Samus and getting third in round two.  
 According to an anonymous source, the hype is real.
Everyone got to take home one thing from a prize table they had set up off to the side.  I wound up grabbing a pack of Mario Party AR cards purely because Toad was on the front and I didn't want a Yoshi's New Island sticker sheet.  The Smash logo button was tempting, though.

Overall, a very fun event to go to.  The demos were fun, it was nice that they had a 3DS demo of sorts, and the people there made the atmosphere a blast to play in.

Oh, and it's happening again this Saturday.  As such, don't try to contact me at all this Saturday.

Toad Awaits.

Monday, June 2, 2014

SC On Kung Fu Rider (PS3)

Ladies and gentlemen, the pride of the Playstation Move.

There is only one place I can possibly start with this game, and that's how I got it in the first place.  I was at an EB Games in Canada with some of the other RiverCityGamers guys when I saw this with a couple price tags slapped over the top of each other.  The most visible tag said $0.49.  Yup, I paid around 50 Canadian cents for this game ($0.46 in USD).  That's not the worst part, though; it was a new copy.

A new copy.  For 50 cents.  Of course, it also requires a Move controller and camera/sensor, which can cost upwards of too damn much.  Thanks to AngelHalo for supplying both for the brief period I/we could tolerate this game.

The idea of the game is that private investigator Toby (the guy on the box art)and his secretary Karin (below) are stuck in Hong Kong, running for their lives from the Triads (for simplification's sake, the Chinese mafia).  The two split up to make a break for their escape vehicle, a.k.a. the "finish line" for every level, by riding through the (all conveniently downhill) streets of Hong Kong on whatever they can find, usually things like desk chairs and wheeled luggage.

"Ma'am!  Wait!  You dropped your dignity!"
 The idea is to get through each stage by riding around or ducking under obstacles, jumping over obstacles, grinding on rails (it looks as dumb as it sounds), and using "kung fu" moves, most of which equate to spastic flailings that sort of end in a kick, to take out various suit-clad Triad clones waiting in the streets.  The enemies are only slightly varied in that some of them run at you and try to punch you, some push obstacles into your way (most of which don't do anything), and some of the less mobile ones have tonfas or bo staffs to swing at you.  It's okay, though.  One kung fu move or even one piece of the environment tapping any part of their body causes them to go into an instant rag doll state.
Strange hit detection makes the flimsy enemies matter very little, though.  Running into an enemy sometimes knocks Toby over and sometimes it doesn't.  Slightly grazing the side of a parked car can send Toby flying, but slamming directly into a wall doesn't.  I've had Toby rag doll and scream bloody murder at hitting his foot on a traffic cone at roughly half speed, but stay on his chair after having a trash can thrown at his head.  There is less consistency in the hit detection than there are exclusive games on the XBox One, and considering you can only take four or five hits before having to start a level over, this becomes tiring very, very quickly.

Office chair racing.  It's a thing which is more entertaining than Kung Fu Rider.

Get used to not just seeing the same three or four enemies over and over, but also the same four or five levels.  While the game has at least 18 stages to it, it doesn't take more than six to realize that the game is reusing levels while making minor changes to enemy and object placements.   As such, you might think that it is pretty simply to navigate through each of these stages, having played all of them several times by the end of the game.

Nope.  After all, I deliberately held off on mentioning the controls to this point.

Above: the amount of space you should have around you when playing this game.

The controls assigned to buttons on the Move controller function well enough.  The problems there have more to do with hit detection and boundaries than anything else, especially when it doesn't register grinds or registers them from several feet away.

Motion controls, however, are an absolute chore to use.  Pushing forward to accelerate and doing a mad dash forward are assigned to similar motions, so there were innumerable times where I'd try to get a little speed and end up charging chair-first into a wall.  Jumping sometimes didn't work at all or registered as a dash.  The worst was having to recalibrate the controller every few levels or so because Toby would get stuck leaning right and going in circles for seemingly no reason.

You know what?  Why even have the chair?  Toby gets off of it to do his dash move, so why not just have the game be Toby running around smacking mobsters with traffic cones?  It- oh, right, that's how the two-player works.

No, Dad!  No!
Two player co-op has one person controlling Toby/Karin and the other person playing as a floating hand that collects money (used for getting other rides of varying stats, few of which matter) and, more importantly, grabs parts of the environment to move aside or hit/throw at people.  AngelHalo took on this role when we finished the game in what felt like a whole night, but turned out to be an hour and a half, if that.  He would grab a traffic cone, cart, or anything else he could find and just hold it up on screen.  Anyone that touched it would go limp.  Most of the time.  Maybe.  Let's say 8 out of 10 times.

There are other (recycled) levels where you can collect medals around the course, but it's hardly worth the effort to play through the game at all.  There's little to no reason this game couldn't be mapped to a PS3 controller and release as a somewhat more playable, but still not worth the effort title.  If I never hear Toby say "I hope Karin will be alright!" in his voice-cracking shriek before every level begins, it will be too soon.

Pandas eat bamboo.  Toby the teddy mistakes it for a Move controller.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Everquest: 15 Year Anniversary Ramblings

Evil boats, shirts, Jackass stunts, weird guild raiding policies, everyone hating my race + class combination and one of the worst things that could happen to someone on a raid.  All that and more as I reflect back on the 15 year anniversary of Everquest, the MMORPG that started it all.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A&G 2014: The Rundown

Not quite.

 It's that time of year again.  You know, it's the time of year where I run around with a video camera at a convention recording everything I can while also getting roped into various events?  Yup, it's A&G Ohio 2014!  My everything hurts, so sitting in a chair and typing this up is low-impact enough that this shouldn't take too long.


-Got there the Thursday before the con started to find the wrestling ring already set up.  Unlike previous years, the ring is in a separate room so other events (read: concerts) can go on while the ring stays up, especially since the rasslin' event happens for three days this year instead of one.  For those people portraying multiple characters in multiple matches, this was a godsend.

-My first act as a con staffer was to disinfect the ring.  This bodes well.

-I had two matches on separate days and got to work out the first one with the guy who would eventually win the A&G title belt.  It's decided that since I'm going to be a huge dickbag (Bandit Keith) I'll spend the majority of the match cheating my ass off before eventually losing.

-Maffew (he of Botchamania fame) is there already, referencing wrestling things I either barely remember or never saw.  I'm probably the least knowledgeable wrestling person involved in the entire event.

-The ring is... uh... Let's put it this way.  I legitimately thought about using a lint roller to try and clean the thing.  The canvas looked like someone wearing a white shirt had a black cat sit on them for an hour or five.  Also, one of the other wrestlers/staffers discovered the support beams were uneven after a bit of practice.  Safety first, kids.

-The convention center closes down entirely at 11pm every day and opens at 8am.  The con used to run 24 hours a day so this cut down on the amount of programming available, but the staff seemed appreciative of the chance to, you know, sleep.

-I get to sleep on the couch.  In a sleeping bag.  And the couch is a foot too short for me.

 This will be remedied swiftly.


-I get to the convention center well before anything needs filmed to go over more match stuff and make sure the ring won't somehow kill us all.  Technically I'm on staff for the cosplay repair station, even though I'm not handy at all with that kind of thing.  I mainly used the back of the room as storage for my laptop and various props and costume pieces I'd need for the Multiverse Rumble (read: wrestling).  The only other people working that station were in that room almost the entire con.

-Filmed some of Nerf Warz day 1.  This year I managed not to get shot by people thinking I was someone on the other team trying to flank them.

-It's the first time this con has taken place in an actual convention center, and as people start filing over the course of the day I notice one major positive about the move.  The hallways are much larger.  This was the first A&G where I never found myself trying to weave through the one-inch gaps between people's shoulders to try and get somewhere.

-I spent the entire weekend guarding my USB drive with my life.  This drive had all of the wrestling intro videos and music as well as the subtitles and audio for the Avatar: The Last Airbender Musical (yes really) on it.

-It's time for the wrestling show.  I couldn't find a camera man so I had to set it up in a corner of the room and hope the footage looked alright.  The moment I saw some guys end up outside the ring way away from where the camera was pointing, I shook my fist at them like an old man who just had his peach tree stolen.

-For my match (in which I was Bandit Keith facing Chef from South Park) I managed to botch twice before the match even started.  I forgot to take off my staff badge before going out and knocked off my American flag bandana trying to get the badge off of me.  As a bad guy I spent almost the whole match cheating like a motherfucker, but still lost.  Whatevs, he was going on to win the title later that weekend.

-Kaiji Tang was one of the guests this year.  Cool guy, by the way.  Kaiji voiced in a lot of things, one of them being Owain in Fire Emblem Awakening, as of now the only 3DS game I own.  The guest relations head offered me the chance to get something signed by him, but all I really had was the tiny-ass game cartridge.  Instead I handed him my 3DS and asked if he could sign that.  This is the result:



-Woke up a bit late.  Not sure if it was due to my bed being a couch and foot rest pushed together, the room being noisy with people making costume fixes for con events, or both.

-The musical happened.  At one point I put in a fake error message as part of a filler for when the audio tracks changed over, which apparently the con chair (who was in the musical) didn't know about and dropped several F-bombs before and after he realized it was fake and nothing was actually wrong.

-A Dick Tracy cosplayer?  Holy shit, there was a Dick Tracy cosplayer!

-At one point I wound up having a short conversation with Michael Raven, another guest of the con.  We somehow wound up reminiscing about high school marching band and how it sucked to march and play with a trombone.

-At some point, this happened.  Too bad I didn't see it in person since I love the first game and don't completely hate the second one:

  MediEvil cosplay: a phrase I never thought I'd use.

-I was Kanji from Persona 4 for the wrestling, going against Tiger Jackson from Tekken.  The guy playing Tiger wrote up a massive list of match notes ahead of time so we both had a decent idea of what to do, though since we didn't get to practice as much as we wanted the finish was altered a bit.  I did okay for the most part, but for the finish I wound up landing ass-first on the edge of a steel chair doing my finisher.  Victory comes with a price I guess.

-Maffew was doing a tournament in the game room for WWF No Mercy.  I went there to film it and wound up filling in for a guy who no-showed/was busy.  I got a first-round bye in which Maffew claimed I defeated Scott Hall.

-I faced Maffew in the second round.  I barely remembered how to play, but still gave a decent effort as Taka Michinoku against Faarooq (how it was spelled in-game).  Maffew flipped his shit for a moment when I somehow managed to kick out of his finisher, but he still won.

-After the tournament he had some extra time and did a fatal four way match, in which I played as Trish Stratus because why the hell not.  Somehow I lasted until the final two, threw both the steel steps from the ring into the crowd, and kicked out of a finisher as well as several follow-up maneuvers including a stop sign being thrown into my throat.


-There was a table flipping competition, but midway through two legs broke off of the table.  Then it was thrown again and everything else broke off of it, so it turned into a chair tossing competition.

-For the final day of the Multiverse Rumble I refereed one match and cut a promo from backstage as Bandit Keith to set up something for next year.

-Total damage from the wrestling: cuts on two fingers on my right hand and one on the palm, a cut on one of my left knuckles, bloody scrape and bruise on my right forearm, another bruise above that, burns on both elbows, massive bruise on the front of my right shoulder, bruise on my chest the size of a golf ball, marks all over my back from the ring ropes, a very sensitive lower back (also bruised), and one busted right ass cheek.  I had a Taekwondo class less than 24 hours later.

-I missed closing ceremonies since I was helping tear down the wrestling ring.  I left the con a few hours later after helping some with clean up and main events tear down, but Maffew caught me for a photo right before I left the convention center.  Apparently I left an impression.

I guess I did something right.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Best and Worst Thing

For those of you who don't know, I've taken a bit of a liking to speedrunning, or the act of completing a video game as fast as possible.  This started a while ago after seeing one of the Awesome Games Done Quick marathons, hosted by Speed Demos Archive and Speed Runs Live.

 They seem like nice people.

I don't think I'm particularly good at it, but in a "why the hell not?" moment I decided to try submitting a couple games (all but one of which were crap) for Summer Games Done Quick.



How should I say this?...

Guess who's traveling to Denver this summer to play Ninjabread Man for charity?

Countdown Clocks