January 2010

01/28/2010

The Looking Glass

by Matthew Hawkins

So here’s a brief email exchange between myself and the gf that just occurred:

Katie: “Just took an eye test. I have astigmatism in my right eye. And I need glasses.”

me: “Hawt.”

Katie: “Maybe I’ll be able to look through fog and see demons with them!

NOW
SUZUKA GONGEN”

… For those who play Persona 4, you know what’s up. But seriously, this is fantastic news. Here’s the deal, and most folks who know me are aware of this already: I have a thing for girls with glasses, makes them uber cute. And many feel the same way, since it’s part of the whole nerd chic thing (more on that in a second). But when Katie brought up the idea of getting glasses in the past, for purely cosmetic reasons, I was less than impressed. Because as wonderful as they might be as fashion accessories, at the end of the day, glasses are ultimately tools for those of us that have poor eyesight.

And I hate to quote the same stand-up comic for the ten thousandth time (whose name I forget; all I know is I saw some guy say this on Evening At The Improv, sometime in the early 90s), but it’s like wearing a hearing aid because you think it looks cool, even if you have perfect hearing. Seem a tad bit insulting. Though Katie’s reasons are now totally legit, and not that she wasn’t already hella cute, but… you get my point.

BTW, no offense to any of my real life female friends out there that wear glasses but do not have bad vision! At the end of the day, we’re all entitled to do whatever the hell we want, Just my two cents, that’s all.

I’m often reminded of another conversation with a friend from many years ago, back during my school daze, when I had the hots for this one blonde, who happened to have glasses, and I tried explaining how I have a thing for “nerdy chicks” and he told me what the real deal was. I’m still friends with this person, and have a feeling that maybe he doesn’t want to be quoted as saying as such, so I’m keeping his identity a secret:

me: “So I have a thing for nerdy chicks.”

X: “No you don’t.”

me: “Huh?”

X: “You have a glasses fetish. You like cute girls that also happen to wear glasses, because you think they look even cuter. Because real nerdy chicks are something you do NOT want…”

me: “Ummm”

X: “REAL nerdy chicks are just like real nerdy guys; they’re either chunky or sickly skinny, plus have poor hygiene, so they usually smell and often have way too much hair in all the wrong places. They’re usually super socially awkward, and not in a good way. Just f’n strange all over. Would you want to make out with a female version of me?”

me: “What…”

X: “You just want a nice normal girl who also happens to have eye wear.”

… Needless to say, such a characterization is more than a little unfair, especially when it comes to body type, which really has nothing to do if one is a “nerd chick” or not. But the exchange still makes me laugh when I think about it!

I was going to point out the date I had with this one so-called nerdy girl in college, who also happened to be the sole female cartooning major at the time. Long story short, we only saw each other once, and it was for the very best because she was certifiably insane. We almost immediately ended up in her bedroom, which sounds great on paper, plus she had a Genesis, and I was a big Sega fan in the day. Though less than five minutes in, she revealed that she still sleeps in the same bed with her dad when back home, plus the only game she had was Bubsy. Though that has less to do with the nature of nerdy females in general and more of a reflection of the student body at the time, so no offense to anyone of the fairer sex that?s currently studying cartooning at SVA or have done so recently; I absolutely love pointing out to Hilary, who attended a number of years after me, that things were just different back then!

I also feel the need to point out that my fetishism of glasses, and interest in so called nerdy girls, has been around forever, way before the current “craze”. And in the end, looks aside, its basically being interested in someone who has common interests and backgrounds, which is a basic rule of any relationship. Hence why current girlfriend! And for the record, Katie LOVES it when I talk about women in general, though mostly my tales of the various wacky dames I’ve been with. Once again, please stop by the store and pick up issue #2 of UNLUCKY, in which I chronicle the time I had my nipple bitten off! For reals.

Here?s another exchange from two years ago, at GDC 08. Remember that after-party in which me and some pals had staked out a nice little corner of the bar that was super packed, and this annoying broad showed up (who I remember was some local AM radio personality), expecting to easily steal our seats by sweet talking us. Because in many people’s eyes, being a nerd equals being slow:

Annoying Woman: “Guess what, I love men with glasses!”

me: “Oh yeah? You like men who can’t see? That’s splendid.”

Annoying Woman: “But I love nerd sh*t, like Star Trek! Isn’t that awesome?!”

me: “Um, it’s a billion dollar franchise, enjoyed by countless globally. It’s not exactly out there, if you’re thinking that’s the case.”

Annoying Woman: “Yeah, well I like to F*CK nerds!!!”

me: “Oh really? So you’re telling us this because we’re desperate and stupid enough to believe that you’ll bang us if we let you and your friends take our spot? First off, we all have girlfriends and wives, and second, seriously just get lost.”

… If her friends were around, I might have gotten a punch in the face, plus I was really drunk and really surly at the time. I blame the midgets dressed as Ghostbusters with proton packs filled with blue booze. Anyhow, the above was supposed to illustrate how meaningless the word nerd has become, since everyone these days (yes even women) obsesses over stupid crap, love goofy sci fi and fantasy flicks, has read Harry Potter, knows behind the scenes junk, watches cartoons despite being an adult, plays video games, etc. It’s an attachment to a classification that doesn’t exist anymore, since the war is over, the geeks and dweebs have effectively won. Or so I like to believe, because it’s easy for me to forget that not everywhere is as progressive as it is in New York City. So in the end, I mostly just question why many are perhaps needlessly gung-ho around here, but hey, we all have our things. Perhaps my main issue are those that claim to hardcore into, say anime, and they look at me like I’m a freak when I go on to describe Strike Witches. Which btw, is finally getting a second season! Though ultimately, dames who are work the “I’m a gamer grrrlll!” angle get under my skin, no matter what, and no matter how well meaning they might be. Sorry.

But back to glasses, as well as anime, I guess that’s why I ultimately am not offended by that new Evangelion hottie, as completely pandering as she might be. In the end, all my rambling at this point might only be an excuse to post this picture, of a recently unveiled statue that makes me want to seriously go back on my no more plastic animu girls rule…

… Be sure to go to the source for additional pics, especially of her ass.

So, what else is new since yesterday? Well, the trip to Arby’s with Colleen was super successful, and the two of us plus Katie had a great time playing Rock Band the rest of the of the evening. Despite having to endure that crappy Mighty Mighty Bosstones song, which I absolutely loathe, but Katie loves to watch me squirm while playing it. Oh, and for those who missed the updated version of yesterday’s post (which btw, I’ve had to edit like twenty times, due to stupid spelling errors and broken links; sorry, but I guess I was so excited for roast beef yesterday that I was super sloppy), a copy of No More Heroes 2 showed up in the mail this morning, courtesy of Ubi Soft. Ha! Which has already been given away.

For a while there, I thought about maybe using it as the prize for another art contest; the one for Persona 4 turned out quite nice, and Jason has been suggesting that I do another one for some time now. And one featuring NMH might be awesome, since there’s plenty of awesome ladies from the games to render, though I’ll definitely need a stronger prize. What do you folks think?

Another idea I’ve been entertaining is starting up a supplemental, image only blog. Since aside from dorky gals, Tumblr’s all the rage these days, mostly to deposit all the wacky images I’ve posted recently, as well as dip into the past five years, along with stuff that gets tossed in the message board. Let me think about it, but in the meantime, here’s something I spotted over at Peter Berkman’s, of Anamanaguchi fame, not too long ago…

… Seriously the funniest thing ever. And once again, any of the Tim Burton Batman flicks >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> The Dark Knight Returns.

3 comments

01/27/2010

As Good As It Gets?

by Matthew Hawkins

In this post:
1. Time to get a real job! And learn grade school mathematics.
2. No More Heroes 2 is the game of the year thus far (and I haven’t even played the damn thing yet).
3. The iPad, huh?
4. And one last walk down memory lane…

I hate to repeat the obvious, especially since I’ve stated it so many times already, but things have been flat-out shitty for everyone. Many of us were hoping for things to magically turn around once the calendar changed from 09 to 10, but that clearly has not been the case. Those that were poor last year are still in the same boat, myself included, hence why I’ve been forced to look for other forms of income. Translation: a real job!

The Test

Something else you might have heard about already is the census. Which means people will be combing the country all this year, going door to door to ask other people questions. Which also means work, and since I love traveling to new places and talking to new people, such a job seems totally up my alley! Unfortunately, everyone has to take a test before they can be considered for a slot.

On the census job website, one can find a sample test, which caused my heart to immediately sink. I love technology, but it has permanently screwed up my brain; I used to have the greatest sense of direction, but thanks to the advent of the iPhone and GPS and Google Maps, I now get hopelessly lost in a heartbeat. But excuses are excuses, plus I was always woefully pathetic at math (which for an Asian is especially pathetic… thank goodness my mom isn’t around to witness the travesty I’ve become). I’m talking about super simple, junior high-level arithmetic that I was struggling to perform. I knew immediately that I would have to brush up on my skills before the big test this past Friday night, and of course I didn’t, mostly due to me being so busy hunting down other jobs all that afternoon prior. Then again, excuses are excuse.

I was almost late because I had to go to a drug store to get #2 pencils, and then to another when I realized that my pencil sharpener had gone missing (attempts to use Katie’s, which is for make-up pencils, were not successful). But in the end, I had plenty of time to size up the other people who would be taking the test with me. I felt like I was in some bad SNL sketch; you had the cocky white guy who kept making jokes that no one gave a rat’s ass about, the sassy black chick that had to go “for reals?” every two seconds, the totally disheveled woman who looked like she was having the worst day ever, the angry thug who was clearly not there on his own accord, etc. By far the worst was the cranky and clueless old army vet.

Beforehand, while setting up the appointment, I was informed that the test would only take just thirty minutes. But once on-site, the expected stay time had ballooned to an hour and a half; the test itself was still thirty minutes as advertised, but everyone had to sit and wait afterwards for their grades, which would be another half hour. The real kicker was how we all had to fill our applications in unison, requiring yet another half hour. It seemed ridiculous at first, but totally necessary when all was said and done, thanks to the aforementioned old guy, whom we all wanted to strangle. I seriously admire the composure that the census people displayed by answers all his stupid questions and putting up with all his petty complaints. And spare me the “how rude” comments; eccentric old New Yorkers are cute and cuddly till you actually have to deal with them on a regular basis (especially on the subway). Plus you’d also think an ex-army guy, essentially a former employee of the US government, would know enough to bring his ID card when applying for, you know, a government job, let alone refrain from arguing about the point.

Anyhow, I found myself struggling through the 28 questions in the 30-minute time span, which was especially embarrassing since A) again, they were like junior high level, and B) the entire test was identical to the practice version, so I felt especially stupid for not preparing. Mind you, the whole thing wasn’t hard, just the math portion. Everything else, which is mostly related to organization and logic, was a total breeze. Here’s the thing; there’s two types of jobs, the one where you go door to door, talking to people and taking down their info. That’s what I want to do, and not only is there more of it available, but it pays much better. Then you had the clerical jobs, which isn’t nearly as exciting and doesn’t pay as much. Well, the test covered both areas, which not only sucks for me, but is not entirely practical either, since the on the street jobs outnumber the behind the desk slots 5 to 1. Oddly enough, everyone else all wanted the boring, pencil pushing positions. No sprit of adventure, these people.

Next was the big wait for the score. Thankfully I was the first one up, but they also needed clarification; in the application, they wanted to know if I had ever been fired, and for what reason. And what I wrote apparently didn’t make any sense. Mind you, I had to explain in front of everyone, including all these strangers that were taking the test alongside, how I was a game designer at a company for just two months before the head honcho decided that it was best if we parted ways over creative differences. It still made zero sense to the census takers, who are used to hearing reasons like punching their bosses in the face as reasons for dismissal. Anyhow, I was given my test sheet with the score on it, which had a big fat number twenty in red ink. 20 points? I had bombed so bad that I couldn’t help laughing!

After a failed attempt at some self-consolatory street-side Mexican food… there’s all these trucks that are only operational at night, by the highway, which I figured sold burritos, but actually sold really weird stuff, like chicken necks or pig penises… I arrived home, where Katie was hanging out with a coworker (they were getting drunk and playing Katamari). As I explained how badly I had bombed, the phone rang; it was the census folks. They were not supposed to give me the test and were on their way to pick it up. Good thing I didn’t throw it away. Since the girls needed more booze, they accompanied me downstairs where the census folks were waiting for the missing paperwork. They asked how I had done (with so many others taking the test, I was hardly offended that they had forgotten), and I replied with piss poor. But then it was pointed out to me that I had gotten 20 out of 28 (duh), and had somehow ignored the number 87, which was my actual score. I didn’t do bad after-all! And the girls gave me a nice round of applause. In the end, I’m in the que for positions once they actually open up, which will be early next month. Though I intend to take the test again so I can score a perfect 100, since I know I can do better, and hopefully increase my chances once they start calling people. Though how my trip to the Game Developer’s Conference (which at this point looks awfully shaky, though more on that next time), as well as my trip back home beforehand, to visit my father (who btw is no longer institutionalized… for those of you who remembered that small bit… they let him go), will play into all this has yet to be seen.

Heroes Are Hard To Find These Days

So guess what finally came out yesterday? The long awaited American version of Tatsunoko vs Capcom! And on Saturday was the big kick-off party at the Nintendo World Store. Unfortunately, I ended up arriving far later than originally planned, but even more than a few hours under its belt, the place was still crazy packed…

… Lots of folks were waiting in line to compete in various challenges, like getting the highest combo…

… Seth Killian was on-hand of course. We both had a good laugh over his comments from a whiles ago about how there was a snowball’s chance in hell that the game would ever make it to this side of the ocean. Anyhow, it was fun catching up with the guy, and it was simply nice knowing that we was pleased to see me once again… though he seemed far happier to meet my girlfriend (I brought Katie along, to help take pictures or what have you), if you catch my drift. Anyhow, my only burning question was online play, which he said was surprisingly decent. Perhaps some of you can verify this (my copy is still on the way).

Again, the place was jammed…

… I was surprised to see not only those sticks return, but to see them for sale as well. The TvC branded one from Mad Katz was also on-hand (which I stupidly forgot to take pictures of), but the ones above, which were last seen at the Super Street Fighter Club event, were simply prototypes for the new one, or I had simply assumed. So there’s two sticks to chose from! Though with only one game to use them with… not sure if Super Smash Bros is compatible or not.

But the star attraction was the game’s producer, Ryota Niitsuma. Most had waiting all morning to nab his autograph and the sweet looking posters. Here he is pictured with TrueGameHeadz’s Jason Cipriano!

… Unfortunately, because I was there so late in the game, I had completely missed my chance to interview Niitsuma. But then again, the guy had been doing interviews like crazy for the past couple of days, and it’s not like I would have been able to dig up anything that could possibly compare to Siliconera’s revelation of how the Samurai Pizza Cats were potential cast members, and why Speed Racer was never really considered. Also, via Kotaku, Genesis Climber Mospeada was also not included despite Capcom’s wishes.

And guess what else came out yesterday? Anyone who follows my Twitter feed knows the answer to this one: No More Heroes 2. For the past week or so, I’ve been trying to alert this fact to everyone, via this blog, the forum, and Twitter/Facebook, since most had absolutely no clue. Which prompted me to email about five or so different people at Ubi Soft, all of whom were referred by those who felt they might be able to provide answers, as to why they haven’t done jack sh*t to promote the game (though I was a bit more composed when approaching them, I promise). And I’ve been brushed off by big publishers before, but never take it personally, whereas in this instance, it was particularly aggravating. To be honest, a part of me was secretly expecting (or hoping) for a gigantic, last minute marketing blitz. In the end, nothing.

Anyhow, went to my local Gamestop yesterday afternoon to finally buy the thing. No dice. They only got enough to cover their pre-orders, which resulted in a grand total of two copies, with zero spares. I checked the three others that were close by, and the same exact story (one didn’t even get any pre-orders, but they did get one random copy for good measure, which had also been sold out). Once again, good job Ubi! I was told that the flagship store near Herald Square might have it, but in the end, a good friend of mine reached out to offer assistance; Stephen Totilo had been following my plight via Twitter (actually, mostly just bitching and moaning) and offered to pass along this spare copy. Again, it’s good to have friends! And while I perhaps should not have mentioned that part, I also love to shamelessly name drop, so there ya go. Sup Steve.

So how is it? Haven’t gotten the chance to actually play it! Katie insisted on getting first dibs, and hasn’t let go of the controller ever since. In fact, she’s close to beating it this very second (she had to take the day off of work due to not feeling good, and it’s at least helping to cheer her up). So the following are my impressions, from just watching and listening her play the thing. So maybe take everything I have to say with a grain of salt…

- For starters, it’s astounding how everything that made the first game so incredible is back in full effect, but completely refined and better than ever (at least from a viewer’s vantage point). Granted, it’s missing some of the charm of the original, but that can be forgiven since that’s pretty much impossible to properly re-create in almost any instance. But more importantly, the dead weight has been tossed aside and plenty of new elements added to the mix, to help justify the existence of the sequel in the first place; sometimes a game is so perfect (despite rough edges and all) that a follow-up, no matter how enticing it might sound, can ruin the mystique of the original, but that is not the case here. It also feels like some of the concepts have been there since day one, and only now has Suda 51 been able to deliver them; similar to how Persona 3 is to Persona 4, NMH1 now looks like a proof of concept for NMH2 more than anything else.

- The game looks AMAZING. The original had top-notch graphics, yet the sequel blows it away easily, both in terms of detail and pure scale; didn’t realize how tiny and bland the environments from part 1 were till I saw this beauty in action. The stages are far more varied and interactive. I had heard of of slowdown, and there’s definitely some, but during the cinemas, and given all the stuff that’s happening on screen it’s totally understandable. And it’s liberal use of the 8-bit, retro aesthetic is impressively implemented, which has become increasingly difficult to pull off these days, since everyone’s doing it and novelty alone is no longer enough.

- The audio is also just as top-notch. Unfortunately, the soundtrack isn’t as mind-blowing as before, mostly because Masafumi Takada wasn’t involved, but his long-time collaborator Jun Fukuda is, and has done an impeccable job of filling his friend’s shoes. I also still consider the soundtrack to NMH1 to be one of the best game scores in the best ten years, period, and more or less an impossible act to follow. At the very least, that familiar tune from before is back, and with lyrics! Plus one of the best tracks from the remix album manages to make an appearance, which is really nice. As for the overall sound design, still the absolute best.

- One of the best things about part 1 was the game’s universe and it’s colorful denizens, so it’s simply a joy to see familiar faces once again, yet slightly evolved and elaborated upon. Some of the story’s logic here is especially wonky, and in a frustrating way (mind you, I’ve yet to see the ending, so it might be off the charts when all is said and done, or those bits that I have issues with might be totally resolved), but for the most part, there’s a level of cohesion that’s rarely found in games, ever. I’m especially happy to see Sylvia back, who is seriously hotter than ever before.

- Like I said, the fat as been cut, and easily the most welcome change is the loss of the open world aspects, something that even the biggest fans of the first title will acknowledge was great in concept, but poor in execution. Though I was afraid of how the NES-style mini games would play out, due to some of the reasons already mentioned, but they seem to be quite excellent, and surprisingly deep! It sounds so clich?d, but some look like they could have actually be stand alone games from back in the day. Though the insane degree of variety permeates throughout the entire experience, not just in the side missions but the main portion of the game as well. Once more, the original seems almost dull in comparison.

- I especially like the little things, which again were mostly built open minor elements from before but are now fully realized. Like all the stuff you can do with your cat, or the animu that Travis loves so much, which btw, blows away Rockstar’s lame-ass attempt at a parody, and then some. There’s even a more fully featured shmup, which while hardly ground breaking, is neat nonetheless (and still far better than any that’s come out for the Dreamcast as of late).

- NHM2 might also be the only game in existence that tries to be funny, but actually succeeds! I mean laugh out loud funny, but just a quiet chuckle. The dialogue and the voice acting is all pretty top-notch.

… In the end, NMH2 appears to be a text book example of the perfect sequel, and already a strong GOTY contender. Granted, my opinions could immediately change once I finally tough the thing, but I doubt it?s going to differ too much when all is said and done. And yeah, I can totally see why Ubi doesn’t want to promote this game. lol.

UPDATE: Well, guess what just showed up in the mail? It’s at least nice to know that my emails did not go totally unanswered… though it still would have been nice to have my concerns addressed. But then again, in light of how things turned out, guess there’s really not much to say, is there? Anyhow, guess I now have a spare copy to give away! Any takers?

“But… the Kindle didn’t save publishing.”

As uttered by Travis (not Touchdown, but Nichols), earlier this morning on Twitter. Anyhow, it’s finally here, the iPad. And yes, I liked iSlate better, but we’ll all get used to it, like the iPod, which despite the nice ring, has never made any sense. Though Colleen put it best with: “Well at least they aren’t calling it the iTampon.” Anyhow, two groups of people have been eying this thing since forever, folks related to the world of games, and folks related to the world of print, and because I’m effectively a member of both, here’s my two cents!

Though it’s perhaps worth noting that most folks on my Twitter feed (which I know is not the best pool of opinions to draw from usually, but in this instance it’s perfectly apt) the reaction from game makers is decidedly mixed, whereas from publishing types, it’s uniformly limp…

From a gaming standpoint, it’s a big iPhone. Yay. It would have been nice during the keynote to see the creator of Eliss on stage, since it’s the only thing that makes this new platform remotely interesting (as much as I LOVE that game… it’s the quintessential example of what an iPhone/iPod Touch’s game should be… the tiny screen of the devices makes the action a bit too challenging). But I can at least understand why EA was brought out, since it’s EA, and they’re a gigantic publisher that everyone knows and cares about, but Gameloft? Give me a break. I half expected them to trot out some downright criminal Super Mario Bros clone (I’m still quite proud of my Super Galaxy Mariu joke title… seriously).

But yeah, it’s just the same games as before, just only bigger, which is both good and bad; those graphics from EA’s driving game didn’t might look great on a small screen and blow away what’s on the DS and PSP (okay, that’s stretching it), but on a bigger format, one can’t help compare it to console fare. Plus, the loss of the camera certainly hinders some potential, but ultimately, the loss of the form factor is it’s biggest hindrance; the main reason why iPhone games are so popular is because they conveniently fit in your pocket and are already on a device that you always have with you, i.e. a phone. Hate to state to the obvious once again, but one seriously gets the impression that the Apple does not know any of this. And while it will certainly be nice to see more of the screen when your forced to used fake, on-screen buttons, it’s not gonna feel any less awkward.

On the print side of things, many have been eager to see if the iPad will indeed be the savior that so many have been longing for. Not gonna lie; I was one of them. As nice as the Kindle is (actually, it’s not), perhaps all that’s needed is that one “magical” device that finally gets everything right. And it would seem that we’ll all be waiting a bit further. Though having big guns like the New York Times behind it is certainly encouraging (then again, as a sinking ship, they’re just as desperate, as well as disillusion). But ultimately, other than being a fancier e-reader, it doesn’t really bring a whole lot to the table. What that might possibly be has yet to be determined, and perhaps there isn’t anything else. Perhaps this is as good as it’s going to get. Which to be honest, is a rather depressing thought.

At this point, I’m mostly interested in seeing how the world of comics comes into play. Though I have yet to hear if parties like Marvel and DC have been approached by Apple or the like. In the end, the ones to benefit the most might be web cartoonists; the iPad does appear to be the perfect converging of necessarily elements; I still don’t enjoy reading comics on a screen while sitting at a desk, and this makes them more attractive to considerable degree. But back to traditional print, as well as gaming, here’s my bold prediction: by the end of today, or tomorrow, EGM will announce that they’ll be the 1st game mag to support the device. Though whether they’ve been planning this all along or how it’ll show that there hasn’t been any actual planning all along remains to be seen!

Otherwise, the hardware itself is certainly neat, though I’m certainly going to refrain from calling it sexy. Even the price of $500 is a pleasant surprise… at least for an Apple device, which are always on the pricey side. But you just can’t ask that much for a device that supposed to be the next step in portable productivity and entertainment, yet doesn’t allow for multitasking (I can’t have an instant messenger app and email working at the same time? for reals?), let alone handle multiple media formats (sorry, but YouTube is not the end all, be all of digital entertainment), along with Flash (I realize that’s been a tricky one for everyone, but it’s now 2010 and most of the other big boys, like Google and Palm, have managed to figure it out). Even though it would perhaps be too tricky in the end to actually utilize, the lack of a camera is also a big miss in my eyes too.

Sorry, but I’m still miffed that Apple hasn’t come out with a netbook-sized MacBook, something that people STILL really want. Without an actual keyboard (built in, that cumbersome and more than likely expensive keyboard/dock combo is unacceptable), you honestly can’t do jack with it.

Though the real deal killer is Apple’s continued association with AT&T. When the subject of 3G first reared its head, I was all “Okay, this is when Apple finally says the world ‘Verizon’ on stage!” Nope. That alone killed the interest of many that were actually willing to plunk down serious cash for the thing, I’m certain. Best of all, data on the iPhone is only going to get worse. Splendid! Though what gets me is how the Wi-Fi only version makes no sense whatsoever; if you’re at home, are you really going to watch a movie on the thing when there will be more than likely a far better display readily available? Surf the web or write emails when you probably already have a computer, or some other similar, yet far more competent device?

… In the end, I think the main reason why so many are particularity turned off by Apple’s latest wunder toy is the smugness behind it. Granted, they’ve always been like that, but those videos on the Apple website with Jonathan Ivy seem a tad bit more unbearable than usual (and trust me, I’m a BIG fan of the guy), as well as the use of the world “magical.” Oh well, looks like I’m still getting a MacBook! Nice try Apple. But not the game charger that they’ve been touting, by no stretch of the imagination. Again, I honestly wanted something to finally breath like

The final word goes to Jeff Minter: “Now all I have to do is decide which My Little Pony sticker to put on the back.”

Hermione + Fort90 4 Eva

BTW, for anyone that might be interested, I threw a bunch of pics from this blog onto Flickr late last night, at least all the ones that I produced myself and were not shamelessly stolen from the web. Bear it mind that it doesn’t include anything that’s been uploaded already; whenever I cover an event with a boatload of pics around here, I generally toss the originals, in their high res glory, along with the extras over at that end. So for those of you who weren’t satisfied enough with the 20 or pics I posted of Hilary drawing that bizarro Pokemon cosplayer at the NY Anime Fest, you’ll find the other 80 in the appropriate set!

Yet my personal favorite will always be this, again via Katie…

… Perhaps her greatest creation ever, more so than Nurse Nurse or Bee Girl (btw, have you checked out the latest installment? it’s pretty hawt).

Alright, gotta hustle. I’m meeting Colleen at the First Second office in a bit; we’re heading to Brooklyn to check out the Arby’s that just opened up there, which is supposedly the fanciest one in the entire country! Can’t wait to see hipster douchebags munch of Beef ‘N Cheddars. And then it’s back to my place for some Rock Band with Katie. Later!

4 comments

In this post, I go over the past couple of days, including:
1. Silent Hill for the Wii is kinda blowing me away!
2. Why Chase Bank totally blows.
3. Hey, an old game of mine is going to be in a gallery!
4. My two cents regarding the late night wars, as well as television in general.
5. Yet another trip to Mitsuwa.
6. And another installment of the World of Unpredictable Wrestling!
7. Ryu and Chun Li, selling viagra.
8. On the hunt for answers regarding No More Heroes 2.
9. And the Masters Of The Universe.

Well it’s been seven days since my last update, and they’ve been pretty eventful! I guess?

- First off, a few games that got lost in transit over the busy holiday season finally arrived, including Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, the SH1 “re-imaging” for the Wii. Sucks that the game didn’t arrive at the end of 09 as originally intended, because it would have easily made my year-end rundown for sure.

I’ve played plenty of “scary” titles for the Wii, all of which involves carrying around a flashlight for the bulk of the game, yet it?s the first and only one to not bore my face off. Actually, it’s a flat-out amazing game, with a degree of polish that is rarely seen from a third-party Wii title. It’s doesn’t scare the pants of you, nor does it try (thankfully, since virtually ever other attempt as been awkward at best, and lame at worst… that crappy Ju-On title immediately comes to mind… though I have yet to play Fatal Frame 4, which I hear is actually pretty decent). At the very least, it’s the first Silent Hill that has actually held my interest; every other entry, even the critically praised part 2, was not able to sustain my interest for long. I believe I’ve already mentioned some of its finer qualities when I first previewed the game a few months back, and at this point, it might be best to save the specifics for a review. But once again, any game that asks you a bunch of questions up front, like do you like people to have you ever cheated on a significant other, to then craft the following experience accordingly to fit your psychological profile demands a certain degree of recognition.

I should hopefully have that review up in the next week or so, over at Heavy. Though I do realize that I promised about a half dozen or so others on this end many moons ago. Sorry about that.

- It’s been a while since I bitched about something totally random and non-game or non-subway related: f*ck Chase Bank. Remember my trip to Trader Joe’s from the weekend prior? They accidentally charged me twice for the same amount, so I called Chase to clarify the situation and get the second charge reversed, which was a real pain in the ass because I couldn’t understand the woman on the phone and vice versa (not to be racist, but I’m pretty sure that we’re all sick and tired of dealing with customer service reps who both mindlessly reading from a script AND can’t gets all the words right). In the end, I was told the matter would be taken care of by the bank, and no follow-up was necessary. Yet an hour or so later, an email appeared from some party claiming to be my bank (yet it didn’t end with @chase.com like one would expect, so a red flag was immediately raised) that instructed me to go to a site to verify some information, which when clicked brought up that big, red DO NOT ENTER THIS URL, IT MIGHT BE MALICIOUS warning that some might be familiar with. So the next day, last Wednesday, I decided to go to a physical location and get some clarification, as well as pass along a head’s up.

Long story short, the woman running the customer service desk was a total idiot who had to speak with HQ to figure out what the deal was. But she couldn’t make the call right then and there at the info desk, so instead dragged me to a cubicle in the back. Forget the fact that she was flat-out rude, but at a certain point she had to go back and took my ID and bank cards with her, which she asked for earlier to verify my identify but wouldn’t give back for whatever reason. Upon returning, I noticed that she wasn’t holding onto my stuff anymore and asked where they were, which immediately brought about an “oh sh*t” look on her face. I then watched her run back to the info desk, which had been largely unmanned since she was the only one on duty, and perhaps it also bears mentioning that it was near the front door and this particular location was in the heart of Times Square, and almost anyone can assume that it?s the worst place on earth to leave behind personal items, especially anything financial in nature (actually, it was near Port Authority, and we all know how sketchy the folks who hang out in that area tend to be). The sight of her frantically looking all over the place for my extremely important but essentially shat upon property prompted me to lose my cool and scream: “OH GREAT, ARE YOU TELLING ME THAT THE BANK LOST MY FUCKING BANK CARD?!?!?!” Luckily, a coworker spotted the abandoned them almost immediately and put them away for safekeeping, but I was still livid, enough to demand to talk to the manger. And his only reaction to the entire thing was, I kid you not: “Yeah, that’s Mercy. She’s sort of an idiot.” Basically, stay the hell away from the Chase on 8th Ave and 40th Street.

- Thursday night was spent drinking with the boys from Babycastles. We went to some hidden shochu joint in the Lower East Side, whose name I forget…. not even sure if it had a name at all; you can always tell how authentic a Japanese bar or restaurant is by the number of actual Japanese people who are customers, so the fact that we were the only outsiders the entire time is a thumbs up all by itself. Ran into an old co-worker of mine at SVA, one of the cool Japanese kids that I used to supervise; his best friend, basically the other cool Japanese kid (there were two), I ran into a few months prior at a ramen shop near St. Marks, immediately after my Central Booking gallery opening festivities.

So speaking of, got an announcement: one of my games that I made way back in the day is going to be featured at the gallery! Needless to say, I’m pretty excited, even if it?s sorta… lol. Some might recall that I once designed a game in which you play a dude that cleans up after dudes who jerk off in booths to dancing girls. Well, that’s the one! Not only will it be made part of the gallery space’s indie arcade, but I’ll also be giving a presentation, I think? I’m pretty ecstatic and honored that Kunal and Syed believe it’s an exciting look at the state of web gaming and indie game development in NYC circa 2001, though it’s also a bit of payback as well, since I’m currently helping them out with their GAMMA 4 entry. Not to spoil their surprise, but as I write this, I’m currently uploading an 800 meg folder that is filled with over 2,000 animated gifs. Most of which are highlights from my days of hardcore NeoGAF surfing, which to be honest was simply recycled material from 4chan, though I’m pretty sure the one with Tetsuya Mizuguchi going “Herro Gaming Age!” is included, and might be part of a game!

UPDATE: And here it is, at least a very early, work in progress version!

- Time for another aside: I would imagine that most are probably sick and tired of hearing the Jay Leno/Conan O’Brien battle for late night supremacy by now, yet I still feel the need to throw in my two cents, mostly because I used to be such a hardcore late night talk show fanatic, so please bear with me: I started watching Late Night, no joke, in the first grade and it was a fairly vital component of my childhood and development as an adult, especially when it came to defining my comedic tastes. Whereas some young boys idolized [insert name of any famous athlete from the late 80s], I idolized David Letterman. Like many other kids, at least the ones who were equally not as socially or athletically gifted/inclined, I was fascinated with pop culture and entertainment as a whole, with my primary outlets being sketch comedy shows (primarily SNL, SCTV, and The Kids In The Hall a bit later down the road) and old Warner Bros and Disney cartoons to a certain extent (which dealt with entertainers from their era in a somewhat similar fashion), though late night talk shows (at first just Carson’s and Letterman’s, but eventually Allan Havey’s as well… sorry, never really cared for Arsenio Hall’s) would be what opened my eyes and ears to world at large.

Oh God, I could wax philosophical for hours on how television as a whole was just SO much better back then, but I’m sure most will either not care, let alone know what I’m talking about, or simply dismiss it as petty nostalgia, but I’m dead serious. Late 80s/early 90s TV, primarily on the cable side of things, was the perfect combination of rawness, with a genuine tinge of experimentation, coupled with all the sophistication, self-awareness, and tricks that had been learned over thirty years in broadcasting. Remember when MTV was actually innovative and interesting? I love a lot of what’s on Cartoon Network these days… okay, mostly just Venture Brothers and Tim & Eric…. but I still miss the early, more innocent times, when it was just 2 Stupid Dogs, G-Force, and Space Ghost: Coast To Coast. And Comedy Central is awesome and all, but I still have such fond memories of HA! (which later merged with The Comedy Channel to form Comedy Central), before everything was, again, way too slick and polished looking. And who can forget variety programs like Night Flight on late night USA and syndication, or Alive From Off Center/Alive TV PBS? Okay, now I’m just rambling, so moving on.

The height of my interest in the world of late night television from my youth was, naturally, the big war between Letterman and Leno, and I guess it’s fairly clear by now whom I was rooting for. Was not a big fan of Jay back in the day either, though I didn’t despise him on the same level as I do now. The months leading up to Dave leaving NBC were some of the best television ever, and nothing since has been nearly as exciting. I eagerly watched him on his new time and channel at first, but by this point I began acting like a normal high school kid, so sitting in front of a TV, especially on the weekends, took a backseat to hanging out with friends (it took me long enough, but I actually made some). Though I would still spend considerable amounts of time staring at a television set, but mostly to play assorted SNES and Genesis titles, so much so that I hardly gave the new Late Night host a thought. I eventually moved to NYC and began college, and somewhat rediscovered television, the wonders of Manhattan cable access to be precise. Otherwise, all the stuff I used to dig began to lose its sparkle for a variety of reasons; on the late night front, Leno continued to get worse and Letterman was losing his edge. Somewhere along the road he became a big teddy bear of sorts and it was lame, but at least that Conan guy was proving to be pretty damn entertaining. As time went on, I found myself less and less interested on what was on the TV set, mostly due to the internet. I did catch Conan’s debut on the Tonight Show, and hoped that he did well, but wondered how he would fare under the spotlight and in front of a Californian audience, as well as why that douchebag Leno wouldn?t just leave. I mostly kept up to date with NBC’s worsening fortunes via Howard Stern’s ranting and raving about the situation and also wondered when the plug would be pulled, along with what the after math will be. Guess everyone knows how that all played out, but for those of you who missed it, Chinese news is here to answer all questions!

It’s nice that the public is behind Conan, cuz he did get dicked over big time by his bosses (NBC never supported his Tonight Show from day one; there was hardly any advertising, at least compared to when Jay took over that same seat fifteen years prior, and especially when compared to all the hoopla the new 10pm show received, making Conan’s move a total after-thought, when it should always have been treated as the biggest thing). Plus Jay, of course, is such a gigantic douche (EDIT: for a far more detailed explanation as to why he’s such an a**hole, Patton Oswald explains all). On the positive side of things, this entire situation is still the most exciting thing to happen to late night in ages, along with network television as a whole. In fact, Letterman is back to his old self, since he’s once again able to bash NBC like the good old days, as well as is finally addressing Leno in a far more direct manner that he had ever done in the past, even during their height of their rivalry. The real silver lining is how more people are watching Conan now than ever before, myself included. So it’s just as well that Conan is leaving since the Tonight Show was damaged goods the instant NBC executives handed it over to Dave, not Jay, in the first place. I guess Conan’s going to Fox? The sad thing is, once Leno is back, he’ll be number one again, because his sh*t brand of comedy simply appeals to enough people at that time of night, enough to have carried him for so many years at the 11:30 timeslot in the first place. Hence why it’s so hard for me to get that worked up over television these days since it’s such crap across the board, and that?s basically what the majority wants at the end of the day. The rest of us have all found other outlets (again, the internet), hence why television has become a lifeless medium, save for occasional flashes of brilliance (like the aforementioned Tim & Eric, which I know is not everyone’s cup of tea… someone at my very own message board claimed that one has to be emotionally damaged to enjoy such a thing… lulz). Sorry, I wish I had something more to say; certainly didn’t intend to waste almost 1,000 words on my television viewing habits as a child, so once again, moving on!

- Saturday was yet another trip to Mitsuwa, which makes it three weekends in a row for Katie and I. What else needs to be said? We love going to New Jersey for Japanese food. Unfortunately, it was back to the shuttle bus for us; there was this jerk-off sitting behind us who complained about the copious amounts of “wapanese”. And of course, it was some white guy with his “hot” Asian girlfriend. But then again, here’s a picture of some animu dork, not from that weekend but the one prior that I forgot to pass along, dressed as a mudkip…

- Later that the evening was another World Of Unpredictable Wrestling event. at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. It wasn’t just any ordinary Rumbo In Dumbo, but “Wrestlejam”! Or at least that’s what I figured; going by the name alone, I assumed that the vague allusion to Wrestlemania signified some super gigantic show where all the stars and angles converge. Unfortunately, that was hardly the case; upon arrival, the lady taking the tickets asked who I was there for (to see who exactly folks are plunking down $15 for, to then perhaps use a basis of whom to push and the like), and when I was told that both the Musketeer and Brooklyn Jeff would NOT be in action, I immediately knew the night was be a bit of a disappointment. The fact that it started almost an hour and fifteen minutes late also did not help either. Also pretty annoying is the loud-mouthed heckler that I normally like to sit nearby, because he’s so damn funny, was all the way on the other side. Instead I sat right next to someone similar but who was not the least bit funny, though that’s not exactly the WUW’s fault but just bad luck.

Hate to say this, but the novelty has worn thin. The biggest problem is how many of the amusing aspects that gave the proceedings so much charm, and greatly helped to cover up the rough edges, are now practically nonexistent. For example, Tristan Spade, the pimp character whom I normally dig quite a bit, at least personality-wise, didn’t have with him any ladies of the night nor gave a long-winded speech as to why he’s the best or any of that jazz. He just came out with a partner with little pomp or pageantry, and was essentially just another guy. Another big issue is how everyone looks EXACTLY the same; one tag match had a regular looking dude in black trunks and a masked wrestler, decked out in black with silver trim, versus another regular looking dude in black and a masked wrestler, decked out in black with silver trim. Perhaps if I had written this report the day off, the entire night would not be such a blur, or maybe not? All I know is that there was no Musketeer, no Zombie, no Uno & Dos (the hilariously bad luchadores who wear Mexican floor rugs as capes), no Horsepack (the parody stable that’s a cross between the Wolfpack and the Four Horsemen), basically none of the personalities that makes WUW was it is at its best.

Yet I clearly recall the first four or five matches going way too long, and some of the super sloppy work involved, to the point of it being legitimately heinous. At one point, this old guy in front of Mooney and I would occasionally turn back, after a very botched spot for example, and give me this look of “Can you believe this sh*t?” Pretty hilarious actually. I’m guessing that the first matches going so damn long, along with the show as a whole starting so late to begin with (in the wrestler’s defense, I’m almost certain it was the subway’s fault, which was worse than usual this past weekend), were the reasons why the following matches were cut way too short. Like the battle royale, which traditionally is nice and long, since it involves a large number of wrestlers all in the ring at once, because you want to soak in the action, to witness all the different interactions, with everyone fighting everyone. Not here; it went only three minutes. Having only ten grapplers involved also made the entire ordeal a major downer. At least there was one shining moment: the entire time, Mooney and I were transfixed in one corner, where three guys were duking it out… first dude reminded me of Kimbo Slice (he’s a fairly big name from the world of MMA), the second Zach Galifianakis, and the third was someone who was clearly slow.

Since I’m already going down the laundry list of things that need to get fixed, there’s also the overabundance of titles; you have way too many belts, none of which are discernible, and there’s even two trophies, with one essentially being a plaque. Huh? Then you had the band during intermission, which was not at all offensive, but not terribly exciting either; live musical acts never work at WWE events, so it’s hardly a shocked that it didn’t work at an indie event either. But what really killed the crowd, that despite all the issues was still red hot throughout, was the match immediately after the intermission, which was easily one of the worst executed that I have personally witness and stole much of the audience’s enthusiasm. It?s hard to be too judgmental since most are just learning the ropes, but good God. Thankfully, things began to turn around almost immediately afterward; first there was the match featuring Kevin’s pal Pedro, aka Reggaedones, and that was beyond excellent (he’s now easily one of the group’s top performers) to the point that it actually won back the bored crowd, which is no small feat in wrestling, both the major and indie leagues. Him acting the hell certainly helped, since he’s far better suited in such a role (at one point, he randomly grabbed some five year old kid’s hat and threw it back in his face, with his mom laughing her ass off the hardest), yet in the end he acted the face for another confusing ending. What stellar booking.

Then you had a match involving the aforementioned Zach Galifianakis, who was actually supposed to an Amish dude, versus the always entertaining Steven Person (though I?m much rather see the guy dress up as Spider Ham), with everyone?s favorite flamboyantly gay wrestler, Rich Cataldo, involved. But the best was saved for last: a bout featuring the tag team of “BAD” Billy Walker and “BIG” Bill Young. Mooney and I only cheer for the heels (provided they are entertaining awesome) and were the only two who celebrated Walker’s presence in the ring, which got him yelling at us, despite being on his side:

“Shut the hell up!”
“But we’re your fans!!!”
“I don’t need any garbage like you hootin? and hollerin? for me!”

Hey, he’s a bad guy, how else is he supposed to react? I?m fairly certain that he deep down he appreciated it. But then at one point, he looked directly at me and screamed “Put THAT in your blog!” On one hand, I guess I look like a blogger, if that makes any sense, though Mooney believes that some in the back are finally aware of the identity of that one guy who actually writes about the shows! Anyhow, it was a very good match (mostly due to Walker, who is unquestionably the best performer in the entire operation, period), and despite an extremely shaky first half (okay, more like 70%), the whole thing ended on a very high note.

- Sunday was mostly spent playing Metroid Prime 1; I had picked up the Trilogy set at Targets the day prior, which I wasn’t particularly interested in since I still have my purchased on day one GameCube copy, but hearing that the Wii release had been quietly discontinued prompted an impulse buy. Anyhow, I feel like a total dumbass for not including it in my top ten most important games of the decade list; I had completely forgotten how utterly mind-blowing the entire thing is. There’s good reason why some feel it’s the Citizen Kane of video games. But here’s the thing: I had also forgotten that one of the main reasons why I loved the original was how, despite it being a first person view game, I never got motion sickness, which is my main problem with 99% of all FPSs. And it was all because of the controls, which the update version obviously tossed aside for something that veteran FPS players find more natural… and which makes my head spin. Oh well. Perhaps I can mess around with the settings or something.

- On Monday, I went out to Hilary’s for what was supposed to be a work session; the plan was for her to slave away at her drafting table while I worked on stuff on her Mac. Since we’re both so busy these days, it was agreed that being productive would help alleviate any guilt from hanging out, but we ended up just ordering a pizza and watching a movie. And it was the MMORPG documentary Second Skin, which I’ve been meaning to review for GSW for quite a while now. Sorry! Hence why I needed a refresher, plus I figured that Hilary would find it amusing, and she did, as well as horrific and batsh*t insane. Again, it’s the best video game documentary ever, even superior to the already awesome King of Kong, which I will explain in my upcoming write-up! We also wasted a good amount of time watching clips of animu and assorted nonsense on YouTube, as usual; also introduced to Hilary an animated masterpiece that most have hopefully already viewed via my year end post, but once again, a bunch of Street Fighters acting all naughty and nasty (and once more, it’s totally NSFW).

Speaking of, another reason why I went over was to check out this sexual supplement that Hilary had spotted at the counter at her corner deli, which featured a drawing of Ryu and Chu Li f*cking, and that I absolutely had to take a picture of. Unfortunately it was nowhere to be found. Drat.

- And yesterday I emailed Ubi Soft to find out what the deal is with No More Heroes 2. Everyone knows that it comes out next week, right? Exactly. And so confused and perturbed by the lack of promotion or anything of the like that I’ve decided to go the source and figure out what the deal is. Thus far, emails have gone ignored, but friends and colleagues have been helping with one email address after another, and I finally got someone who is supposed at the top of the food chain, so hopefully by this time tomorrow I’ll have an answer!

- Finally, and just for the hell of it: it’s like i am 8bit, but instead of video games, it’s He Man!

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