Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Muppet Bohemian Rhapsody

The greatest thing you will see today......

Go to the Link for the full experience.

And check out the new Muppet Sudios YouTube page.

This is a great place for the Muppets to begin their comeback.

Weth Meh Black Hole!!!

The Large hadron Collider ran last night, and were's still here, I think? Those crazy scientests in Geneva spun up and smashed a couple of protons last night at about a 1/3 of their potiential energy 450 GeV. The world didn't end, we weren't all sucked into a Mini worm-hole, and mysterious forces from the future didn't prevent us from doing it. Like I said, there isn't reason to celebrate yet. They plan on taking each beam to max or 1200 GeV by the end of the week. So enjoy Thanksgiving, it may be our last.

Source--> NatGeo

Monday, November 23, 2009

Gundam UC Trailer...

This has been out for a while. I don't really know how I missed posting about it. All I can really say is this trailer does it's job. This is defiantly my #1 thing to look forward to in 2010, followed in close second by Cat Shit One.

The animation in this trailer looks amazing. It's at least on par with Char's Counterattack which IMO was the best animated Gundam property ever. Here's hoping they knocked this one out of the park.


I implore everyone who reads this; PLEASE BUY THIS OVA WHEN IT COMES OUT. Don't pirate it. It is a first ever simultaneous release OVA for a Gundam Series. If the $$ is there maybe the various publishers will do more of this with smaller franchisee. Just Sayin'

Violence in Video Games, An Academic's Take.

I have an Internet friend who's currently working on his PHD in Psychology. He's actually only 6 months away or so. His PhD thesis is actually on Violence in Video Games and how it affects the human mind. After making my post on MW2 I asked him to give me a quick summery of this Thesis:
I know MW2 is getting a lot of press about this. Unfortunately, I haven't seen/played the most controversial scene so I really can't comment on it.

I'm pretty tired, so some of this may not make sense. I tend to connect things in one discipline to similarities in other disciplines. In psychiatry, it's understood that Drug A gets rid of Symptom A in 65% of patients. People think Drug A works this way because it probably affects Chemicals A, B, C, which is shown through side effects. Does that mean imbalances in Chemical A leads to Symptom A? Or Chemical B leads to Symptom A? Maybe Chemicals A and C lead to Symptom A. Maybe the drug works differently and the chemicals are just collateral damage.

Either way, all we know is Drug A gets rid of Symptom A in 65% of patients. What we don't know is how or why it works, how or why it doesn't work on the other 35%. We also know that before Drug A came along, there were other ways that people were able to get rid of Symptom A, but maybe there were more side effects or less than 65% of the people were successful.

This relates to the video game issue in that we know that X% of people will play a violent video game and have a reaction during or after that society doesn't like. Say that's 65% of players who played that game. Some of those players will recognize it, and eventually stop playing or spend more time distancing themselves from the fantasy of the game. So now that's down to say 35% of players left who have a bad reaction who don't stop playing or don't spend time separating fantasy from reality. That 35% shrinks down to an almost negligible percentage after you filter out the moment of clarity just before a violent act is committed that would tell the person "I should not do this." So now roughly 2/3rds of players say "Damn that was crazy! I'm going to talk to my friends about how insane and fun that was." Half of those people (1/3 of population) snap at their significant other more often, get frustrated more easily, etc. A small group of those people (1/100 of the population) will consider joining a gang because they like the idea of hurting those with opposing views.

What a game like this does is throw the population of players into the spotlight, with all the smaller groups exposed as well. The 1% will get the most headlines, and yeah, the game DID have something to do with it. We don't know why or how that 1% got affected, nor do we know why or how the other 99% did not, or what kind of person can move from 100% to 65%, 65% to 35%, or 35% to 1%. We also don't know if the 1% people would have committed their acts anyway regardless of the game. This is much like in my above psychiatry example where treatments for Symptom A have existed, and people have been getting better on their own. Players and non-players have of course acted violently without the influence of video games, it's just that a video game like this may act like a very well-designed drug and throw people right into the spotlight who would have otherwise not gotten as much attention. Johnny killing his parents in NYC makes page 2, Johnny killing his parents in NYC and he has a closet full of GTA, MW2, Doom, etc makes front page.

Sorry if I rambled, hope it made sense and answered any questions you had in mind. Let me know if you need further clarification.

Bgbopper, M.A. Clinical Psychology
There you have it. I thought this was an interesting take on the subject. No Bgbopper isn't his real name, he only wishes.

Love, Japan Style.

Ah Love Plus, how many more lives will you ruin? If you don't know Love Plus is a DS game in Japan where your job is to Get and Keep a high school girlfriend. She's bitchy, needy, cute, and helpless; pretty much every lonely Japanese man wants and needs. So a man who calls himself SAL9000 has decided to take things to the next level. He oficially married hair Love Plus girlfriend Nene Anegasaki and take her on a Honymoon in Guam. Gotta love Japan.

Source--> BoingBoing
Honymoon Pictures--> itmedia.co.jp

Blizzard's Epic

Blizzard has created the most potent virtual drug. I don't really need to say the name. Most of the time it elicits laughter and pity. I remember telling my friend that I started up an account. When he told his wife (who is also a gamer) she replied, "I thought he was cool?" Unfortunately it is what it is, and today is a glorious day. I weened myself off of the virtual heroin in order to become a semi-productive member of society again.

Clap throughout the entry if you feel the need to do so. I still am.

I can accept the argument that video games are potentially addictive. However, it has to be video games…plural. I play a lot of games, but I also play a lot of different types of games. I eat it up. I had no idea that one game can turn a mild mannered individual into a freak of nature. When I had my first virtual fist of cuffs in Azeroth I should have paid more attention to the signs. I remember shortly after hitting a very low level, an individual who will go unnamed defeated me in a duel. He taunted me immediately afterwards and without a second thought I got mad and paced around the room. I don't remember his name, but I was furious. (just kidding, his name is Vilxi, I wrote it down) To get that mad at someone for something so meaningless amazed me. It almost felt like steroids, if I knew what that felt like. Shortly after that came the real world problems.

Like clockwork, I started canceling plans with friends. I stayed in, every night, and couldn't wait until the weekend so I could get a few days of uninterrupted gaming in. Friends eventually found out what I was up to and left me to my devices. I'm sure they were mildly worried. They were immediately able to draw a conclusion that if I cancelled on anything, they knew that game had to be involved. To make matters worse I even bought a supplement that would allow me enough energy to function on a few hours of sleep so I could maximize my questing.

Thoughts of story ideas, crushes and other general mundane occurrences became replaced with the emphatic motivation to level my character. I would daydream about the uncertainty with professions because I always wondered to myself, "Does a rogue really need to be an engineer?" I shortly felt comfortable again because I forgot for a second how great that motorcycle mount looked. I thought, "that bike is too important to me right now." I never became a slob, but I would only do general chores around flight paths. If I had a long flight to a city, that would be a good chance to take a shower. A short flight path? A quick load of laundry. A tuna sandwich. I became very efficient. Needless to say, I encountered what millions of other people have dealt with regarding this game. I developed an addiction.

I think the problem stems from the fact that I thought I was immune to it. One of my best friends encouraged me to start up an account years prior, and I casted it aside because I thought I was too good for a PC MMO. I also thought that even if I was to start it up, it would not keep my attention long enough to stick with it. Obviously I was wrong. I was not one of the lucky ones. There's always a percentage of new players that play the game feverishly for awhile and then they drop off. It's the law of averages. Those smart people realized the biggest disadvantage of playing the game. It does not end. That is scary in itself, and it's one thing I should have realized from the beginning. I could have prevented the embarrassment of having to give myself a personal intervention.

I know this sounds like an admission of guilt and my desire to stop playing that MMO altogether. It really is. Have I completely stopped playing though? Not yet, but my frequency is almost the complete opposite than what it was. That game will more than likely take away a little time from my life now and then, but no longer will it harness my soul.

That game is five years old. What I'm talking about has been experienced by others, but providing honest testimony never hurts. Do your homework before entering Azeroth. Are you the type of person to turn a linear console rpg into your own personal sandbox? Stay Away. Do you have Haruhi dance patterns memorized just so you can entertain yourself? Stay away. Have you unlocked every achievement for Dead or Alive: Xtreme 2? Stay away, and you might just need to be water boarded.

Like alcohol and crack cocaine, it's all good in moderation.

I applaud and bite my thumb at you Blizzard.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Rainbow Bright is back!

I'm not ashamed to admit that I was a fan of My Little Pony. I'm secure enough in my masculinity to come out and say that. But to be clear I also loved the total macho Transformers, G.I. Joe, and He-Man. Though sadly I can easily recall seeing the "My Little Pony" movie in theaters a lot clearer then I can remember seeing the animated Transformers film. I was also a huge Care Bears fan, but I think they rode that perfect balance of not being too girlie or too boyish. I mean they were cute cuddly little bears that shot laser beams from their stomach. That's pretty hardcore right there.

However, I never really dove into the realm of Rainbow Bright. Well she has been given a new millennium sassy makeover. And here are the results:

Source : TOMOPOP (This site is excellent by the way)

Hatsune Miku 3GS Robot

Alright every Friday is now officially TGIHM (Thank God it's Hatsune Miku) Day, and I or my partner in crime will post at least one Hatsune Miku article.

Since we are kicking this feature off today. You, lucky reader, get TWO Hatsune Miku articles.

This guy (in Japan of course) decided to take an iPhone 3GS, make a program that turned it into the virtual idol's head and then made her a crude robotic body, including her infamous leek.

Though I must say I prefer the actual humanoid robot that we posted about earlier. And this one seems to just have a specific "Hatsune program", I welcome every effort to make Hatsune that much more a part of our physical dimension.

Hatsune Miku Project Diva

I think every week needs a Hatsune Miku post, no matter how irrelevant. This one is way old because her PSP game, Hatsune Miku - Project DIVA - launched a while ago, but I just got the soundtrack last night so I'm writing about my new favorite Miku song: ワールドイズマイン

I think it means "The World is Mine" and it might be a cover of her fellow Vocaloid musician Gackupo. Though this is all pure speculation on my part. Great reporting, I know. Gackupo uses the artist Gackt as his base the same way Hatsune is from samples recorded from Saki Fujita.

I love her little yell she does towards the end. Makes her seem that much more "real".

Sadly I don't own this game, but after seeing gameplay footage it is a must have. Looks like a cross between Elite Beat Agents (Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan) and Pop'n Music, two of my favorite rhythm games.

Yes I NEED this game.

And just for old times sake here is the famous Hatsune with a leek singing "Levan Polkka":

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fate/Stay Remixed

To prepare for the new Fate/Stay Night - Unlimited Blade Works film, the TV Show is being re-released in two 60 minute chunks. Basically since each episode is about 20 minutes you are getting a little less the six episodes of the 24 episode series, recut.

Personally I didn't like the Fate/Stay Night anime at all. Though Fate/Stay Night is one of my favorite franchises. Of course I'm partial to the visual novel, and the anime follows the "Fate" route pretty darn faithfully but for some reason the whole series just felt drab and kind of lifeless.

I think the show was trying to cram in too much information and as a result there was virtually no character development. So by condensing all that info in 120 minutes worries me slightly. Unless they reanimated some scenes with Saber that needed to take place at the end of the series to lighten her character up then I can't really see this cut down version being anything amazing.

Also the action in the original series was very bland. It just had that generic anime fight scene with clanging weapons. This is really highlighted when Archer pulls off what is supposed to be the most spectacular move in the entire series (Unlimited Blade Works) and it falls flat on it's face and completely fails to impress as he gets his ass handed to him shortly afterwards.

The fact that the same animation team that failed to make Unlimited Blade Works the move visually impressive in the TV show is in charge of an ENTIRE film about Unlimited Blade Works worries me even more then the cut down TV show.

However, it has been many years since the TV show aired, they have a movie budget at their disposal and a lot more experience so I will try to be optimistic about the movie. Truthfully, I am still really excited about the project.

Source: ANN

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Critic's Critic: New Super Mario Brothers Wii

I originally wanted to start this column with movie reviews but I've had it with IGN as a whole and after going there after about a year long absence, I was quickly reminded why I stopped going.

Craig Harris, a reviewer for the Nintendo side of games on IGN got around to reviewing New Super Mario Brothers Wii, and while I'm not saying 8.9 is an incorrect score, I am taking him to task for certain things he pointed out in his review.

First of all he says that NSMBW doesn't take any risks. And says it is a simple platformer. Harris, didn't seem to have a problem with this with New Super Mario Brothers for DS, in which he gave that game a 9.2. If the Wii game was just a port of the DS then his critique would certainly hold true, but it is a brand new game that takes many risks and plays with the players preconceived notion of what makes a Mario game.

"That's the best way to describe New Super Mario Bros. Wii: the game plays it safe. It doesn't go crazy with presentation or options, it simply offers up a basic, decent and acceptable experience with conservative visuals and basic additions. In a sense, it's just a slight letdown when you consider how much Super Mario Galaxy, a 2007 release, completely wowed us with incredible graphics and innovative gameplay mechanics. It even had a crazy over-the-top introduction cutscene that really set the tone. Awesome as it is to play through classic Super Mario Bros. platform designs in a fresh experience, when you look at New Super Mario Bros. Wii from the perspective of a Super Mario Galaxy successor it's hard not to feel like this took a step backwards." - Craig Harris, IGN.com

Compare that with what reviewer Jeremy Parish of 1UP.com said about the same game:

"What makes the game great is the way it recaptures the sense of effortless creativity that the best Mario games have always possessed -- something sorely lacking in the first NSMB -- and the way in which that breezy spirit of invention is presented so accessibly. Here's the final proof that cutting-edge technology isn't necessary to create a fresh and interesting game. Here you see greatness is really all about the ideas, the personality, the playability... and NSMB Wii is an exceptional game that anyone can play. In fact, that's the whole point." - Jeremy Parish, 1UP.com

Parish, is of course correct in his assessment, where Harris is painfully wrong. NSMB DS, while I had a good time with it, was more or less a remake of the original Super Mario Brothers. Everything they learned in Mario 3 and Mario World was ignored in an attempt to bring the series back to it's grass roots.

New Super Mario Brothers Wii is a totally different game. Without even getting into the multiplayer, which presents a brand new twist in the Super Mario formula, the level design and risk/reward system is so beautifully implemented that this game takes it's rightful place snugly behind Super Mario World.

The last line in Harris's review needs to be pointed out, as it is a testament to what is wrong with corporate media review sites like IGN and Gamespot:

"As a gamer I love New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but as a critic I just couldn't let the issues slide."

As much as I wish video games where held in the same category as film and literature, they are not. For one, they don't have a serious awards show on the scale of the "Oscars" or the "Pulitzer Prize", where critic's opinions and thoughful reviews are taken very seriously. Therefore pointing out to your audience that you are reviewing this for critical merit, deflates the entire article that proceeds it.

Game reviewers, though they may consider themselves lofty journalists, are consumer informers. They provide a service to tell their audience if a game is worthy of purchase. If the "gamer" in Craig Harris loves the game, then why do we need to know what his "critic" side even has to say about it. If the issues he stated don't effect the game or the enjoyment of the game, isn't that less critiquing, and more nit picking. If he is pointing out glaring technical issues that effect gameplay then that is one thing, but if his only gripe is something so obtuse that a competing site says the exact opposite and says that is why the game is good, then maybe Harris shouldn't be putting so much weight on the value of his critical opinion.

To be fair I think Harris is one of the few good "journalists" on IGN and I would much rather offer a critique of Hillary Goldstein or Damon Hatfield, but his review of New Super Mario Brothers Wii struck me as innaccurate and he became the first victim of the Critic's Critic.

Reviews used in this article:

New Super Mario Brothers Wii Review by Craig Harris, IGN.com

New Super Mario Brothers Wii Review by Jeremy Parish, 1UP.com

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Yep... MW2: Pretty Objectionable at Times.

I'll probably not be bying MW2, as my PC can't run it and I don't like FPS on Consoles, so we'll have to rely on 3rd party reviews for the moment. Overall Ben Kutchera's opinion from ars technica is: Good not Great. The most notiable description for me was his descritoin of actually playing the Terrorist scene I detailed last week.
This isn't a game that glorifies violence—situations and characters such as this aren't attractive—it's a game that overloads you with it. You'll be asked to take part in some repugnant things, and many of the peripheral details will stick with you. You'll want to talk about the single-player campaign long after it's done, and it's clear that people are going to have strong opinions one way or the other.

How do we feel about the controversial segment where you become part of a terrorist act? It's hard to watch. The actual mission that has gained all this controversy is, in all honesty, pretty shocking stuff. The game slows down; you can't run. You have to walk slowly through the scene, watching innocents gunned down. They scream. They try to crawl away. They hold their wounds and moan. You can pull the trigger, or you can just watch. But you're holding a gun—you're a part of this. If you decide not to play this mission, you get a cut-scene. Why is this section of the game playable? What does it add? That's a huge question, with many different answers. I'm not saying the section makes the game better, but it certainly will get people talking. But, yes: it is just as bad as people are saying, and just as hard to take.

It's pretty telling for a hardened video game player, jaded with the viloence that we see in almost all forms of enterntainment these days, to have this kind of takaway from the game. I think it's proof that Infinity Ward and Activision have probably pushed the boundry of realism too far. It certainly isn't going to hurt the game. It will go on to be a record smashing sucess.

Let me preface again, I'm not a propnant of the idea that videogames CAUSE violence in and ov themselves, but some people can be truly swept in the experiance. If I undertstand the theories correctly people who already have a propencity twoard violence tend to be more affected by participating in virtual violence. In short. Somone, somewhere (probably Korea) will commit a horrendous act. Modern Warfare 2 will proably be blamed. In this case it will be the first time I'd actually have a tendance to beleive that it played a part.

Source--> ars technica

Friday, November 13, 2009

So... Modern Warfare 2... $310mil... ONE DAY.

Modern Warfare 2 has set the record as the highest one day gross of any entertainment vehicle ever. $310 million in 24 hours. They sold about 4.7 million copies.
For the sake of comparison, Halo 3, which was also deemed to have the biggest launch in entertainment history when it was released in 2007, made $170 million in the US in its first day, and "more than" $300 million worldwide in its first week. Grand Theft Auto IV, meanwhile, released the following year, sold approximately 3.6 million units in its first day, earning $310 million worldwide, and six million in its first week, bringing in an estimated $500 million. It's also important to note that both GTAIV and MW2 are multi-platform games, whereas Halo 3 is an Xbox 360 exclusive.
But... Not everyone loves it :)

Source --> ars technica

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dances with Smurfs...

Southpark has been hit or miss post "Imagination Land." Lastnight, though they were spot on. The initial gist of the episode is a send up of Glenn Beck. What's even funnier is the setup to an incredable burn on James Cameron and Avatar; i.e. "Dances with Smurfs."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

7 Eleven Gundam

With all the variations on Gundams I've posted lately you'd think I was a huge Gundam fan.

This one is an official one for sale at Seven-Eleven in Japan.

Although I love Seven-Eleven here in the states and their Slurpee goodness, they are possibly a bigger deal in Japan, where you can buy excellent Bento boxes there, that taste great and are well balanced nutritionally.

Plus they sell limited edition Gundams there! All we get are animated Slurpee cups.

Source: DannyChoo

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Larry King is a brain dead idiot

I really don't understand why this guy is so revered as a journalist. He's the male equivalent of Barbra Walters. Completely empty headed "journalists" who feed soft ball questions to their guests and do absolutely no research before they go into an interview.

Of course I could present hundreds of examples where we see that Larry King is completely devoid of anything slightly resembling a brain. Google his interview with Jerry Seinfeld for one.

But his latest moronic comment comes attached to the TV spot of "The Fourth Kind", where he says, "A remarkable movie that boggles the mind and changes your opinion about UFOs. This is close encounters of the 4th kind" - Larry King

This means that this clown of an individual saw this movie and didn't question a single thing that flickered by at 24 frames per second. He simply took it at face value and said, "Well I'll be a son of a bitch. Aliens exist!"

I was going to review Fourth Kind myself, but figured it wasn't worth the effort. So I'm going to let my dog do it for me:

Friday, November 6, 2009

Akibamerica Update!

Hey all! I thought it was about time I come and pimp my other blog: Akibamerica.

Akibamerica focuses on recommendations and reviews of video games and animation from Japan.

Some highlights over the last month include:

The SNK Challenge - I took a month to play through nearly ALL of SNK's fighting games, as well as many of their other arcade offerings. I covered some series specifically: Fatal Fury, King of Fighters, and Art of Fighting.

Evangelion Pachinko Machines -these little beauties are all over Tokyo and I relate my personal experience with one.

Tsukihime - And now my newest endeavor is to make it through every storyline in Tsukihime, the precursor to Fate/Stay Night, as well as all the sequels and the Melty blood series. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Leaked Modern Warfare 2 Footage... WTF?

There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the PC community over impending release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Mostly regarding the decision of Infinity Ward to break from tradition and not include Dedicated Servers as an option for Muti-Player matches.

Dedicated Servers have a long history of being part of PC gaming. From the early days of Quake PC players have used Dedicated gaming servers for Multi-Player FPS. Essentially Infinity Ward decided that they'd rather use a matching system, like used in consoles, on the PC version of the game. Player matching has it's pluses and minuses, but overall from the PC gamer perspective it's a bad deal. First off the game is served on a player PC. The matching system chooses the player with the best Ping and hosts the game on their machine. We all know that ping can fluctuate, greatly on home broadband connections. It's not unforeseeable that game performance would inconsistent, with lagging and drops being fairly common. The other question this brings up for me is LAN Parties. With this new system you can no longer setup a server and play the game over a local network, you'll always have to have an Internet Connection.

All that aside, today a video was leaked from the single player game that to me raises some questions. This video has what seems to be an under-cover special operations solder in with a Russian Terrorist Group. They have infiltrated the Moscow Airport. The only objective of this level seems to be to kill as many civilians as possible to "Maintain Your Cover." Now obviously this is a ridiculous concept. An undercover agent would never be involved in mass murder. He'd get pulled out and the cell arrested before anything like this ever went down. But... this seems to be a little too real. The Civilians are screaming and running and hiding like you'd expect and have seen in real life terrorist incidents.

Some will say that this happens all the time, we've all played GTA, and committed Video game mass murder. I say that this is different. GTA is a cartoon, a movie. It doesn't even pretend to be real. Your victims in GTA are dummies they always run away the same way, say the same things; there is nothing realistic about them. They don't hide, they don't clutch their children praying to God that they live through the next 5 minutes. That's what I see in this clip. I think it's the mass murder version of falling into the uncanny valley. When Video Game violence become so real that it become revolting and creepy as opposed to "fun." Check out the video for yourself. Maybe I'm just being a wimp.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rodger Rabbit Strikes Back

In an Interview by MTV Robert Zemeckis has revealed that development has begun on a Rodger Rabbit Sequel. This is Obviously great news, and it looks like mildly confirms the Non-Rumor from July. It will be interesting to see how he decides to do it. Full Mo-Cap CGI, Traditional Animation like the RR Shorts, or a mix of film and 2D like last time. The Video of the interview is below.

Obama Weather

Monday, November 2, 2009

My Grim Fandango Costume

I made this for Halloween last weekend. I think it turned out pretty good.

Here is a closeup of the face.

Looking online to see how people had previously made Manny costumes, I noticed most just took poster board and drew his features on the board. That works fine, and is probably more accurate with the 3D model in the game, but I wanted something with a little more texture. I wanted the mask to look like something from an actual Day of the Dead festival in Mexico, which Grim Fandango's art style is based on.

Like all the other Manny's out there, I started with poster board, and then used modeling clay to make the skeleton features, a la eye sockets, nose and upper mouth outline. I then used a simple paper mache recipe (2 cups water, 2 cups flour, 1 tablesppon salt, strips of newspaper), to cover the entire head and blend the clay parts with the poster board.

After that I just spay painted the whole thing white and then outlined his features with pencil and then hand painted the black parts. And yes I realize his eyebrows aren't exactly center but I think it adds to the whole paper mache Day of the Dead look to it (or that is how I justify it).

I found the white coat at TJ Maxx at the last second and the gloves at a costume shop and the rest I already had. Of course no one knew who I was at the party I went to, but it was still worth the trouble to feel like the suave Manny Calavera for a night.

For reference here is the real Manny: