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More Street Fighter IV Impressions [Sony, M$]
Feb 28th, 2009 by Dan

I’ve continued to play Street Fighter IV and here are some observations I’ve had about it:

Ken is a very popular choice for Ranked Matches and it drives me nuts. I can’t count how many times I’ve been crossed up, crouch hard kicked into a Hadoken and Shoryuken. Luckily, I’ve gotten much better at blocking the combo and I’ve gotten better and ending the cross up with a simple Cannon Spike with Cammy. It’s mega-frustrating to see player after player just pick Ken over and over and it’s kind of fatiguing. As a counter-measure, I’ve decided to wait out timers if I ever have someone pick Ken on me. From what I hear on Giant Bombcast, it seems that the Player Matches are a little more varied than this lame Ken-fest I’m facing. I guess once I hit ten straight victories I’ll start playing Player Matches.

I found myself winning a bunch of rounds yesterday via timer. Ken and other shoto players tend to hang back and Hadoken over and over as do some charge players. I’ll gladly let them hang back and do nothing waiting for me to approach them, cause I’m not going to. Instead I’ll let the timer wind down and, if I have the damage advantage, take the timer win.

Getting all the medals would be a challenge, but it seems that you can get them in player matches too, so I can just arrange for those later if I need to. Otherwise I might never get that elusive Perfect medal.

My new Mad Catz Street Fighter IV Arcade Fightstick arrived yesterday and I’ve been putting it to good use so far. So far I prefer it to my PS3 controller, not because the D-pad is particularly horrible on it (I’m looking at you Xbox 360), but because the D-pad is right next to the left stick and I sometimes hit it with my thumb when I’m performing moves. I’m still not 100% with the stick and I mess up on executing some moves, but it’s still a solid, significantly better way to play the game. It’s funny, I would never have thought that I would be giving positive reviews toward third party controllers, but these controllers are well worth the investment, especially if you use a 360.

The Villains of Final Fantasy Week 9 [Game Overview]
Feb 27th, 2009 by Dan

Insert another credit, because it’s time for your weekly video game news and you’ve just hit the Game Overview screen.

With every Final Fantasy game there exists great (and not so great) teams of heroes bent on saving the world from some sort of evil force. While we could take a look at those heroes, let’s instead take a look at the evils that motivate these heroes to do what they do.

It should be noted that this feature will be full of spoilers.

Week 1 – Garland
Week 2 – Emperor Mateus of Palamecia
Week 3 – The Cloud of Darkness
Week 4 – Zeromus
Week 5 – Exdeath
Week 6 – Kefka
Week 7 – Sephiroth
Week 8 – Ultimecia

Now that we’ve moved past my least favorite Final Fantasy, we can talk about Sakaguchi’s swan song. Final Fantasy IX was a return to roots: a story about crystals, medieval technology, and cartoony characters. Unfortunately, the nostalgia-fest was not quite a return to SNES days of glory. The story was pretty unfocused and not all that interesting and if you didn’t play the first three of four Final Fantasy games, most of the jokes and references were totally lost on you.

Then there are the villains in the game. You have Kuja, a villain who subscribes to the Squall school of acting, Garland, a clear FF I reference, and the final boss Necron, basically a force of evil you’ve never seen before, kind of like the Cloud of Darkness.

So what can I even say about it?

Evil Rating:

?/10

Who knows?

Cool Rating:

3/10

The concept art is kind of cool…

Images and Video:

In-Game

In-Game

Sweet Concept Art

Sweet Concept Art

The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham [Idiot Box]
Feb 26th, 2009 by Dan

If it’s Thursday, it means one thing for me nowadays: I’ve just watched the latest episode of LOST!

WARNING: SPOILERS FOLLOW!

Unfortunately, in a season featuring episodes jam-packed with action or intrigue, I think that “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” falls kind of flat. On one hand I kind of understand swapping the order of this episode and the previous one (“316″), but on the other hand, all they’ve gone and done is interrupt the action and events that were set in motion last episode. As of last episode we saw that Kate, Jack, Hurley, and Jin were alive and well on the island, but then we had to flashback and watch Locke’s death again. I think it would have been cool to see that there were these other survivors on the island, including Cesar and the new Marshall, before they were introduced in “316.” In any case, it will be interesting to see where these characters go, especially Locke now that he’s got Ben hurt and under his control. Also interesting was how Locke kept asking for a passenger manifest. Clearly he is looking to start his work as an Other on the right foot so that he can start capturing the “chosen” ones to take to the camp.

This episode also featured an interesting encounter with Charles Widmore. Is he a good guy? I doubt it. All I know is that Ben is a liar and a bastard. It brings me some degree of joy to see him always portrayed as beat up in this show, be it S2, the end of S3, start of S4, or now. I only hope that he didn’t hurt anyone in the Desmond Hume household. It looks like we’ll be with Sawyer, Juliet, Daniel, and Miles next episode, but when they are is in question. Will this just be an episode to set up their involvement in DHARMA, because I really don’t want to see one of those unless it’s jam-packed with answers. Overall, just a mediocre episode, but at least it’s the first of the year so far.

Wanna Be Ken Masters? Here’s How! [Game Oveview]
Feb 25th, 2009 by Dan

For those of you having trouble with your game, this should help.

Mass Effect 2 !SPOILER ALERT! [M$]
Feb 25th, 2009 by Dan

Who didn’t love Mass Effect? The game allowed you to explore a hard science fiction world with an intricate backstory, shoot androids, and have hot, steamy (possibly “lesbian”) sex with aliens, for crying out loud! Gamers everywhere rejoiced when they saw the brand new teaser trailer released for ME2.

SPOILERS

All I can say after seeing that is “WHOA! WTF!?”

Commander Shepard is *dead*? What will this mean for ME2? Did they ever intend for us to have use of Shepard in the second game as was implied? Perhaps all that will transfer will be the state that you left the universe in the last game. Any further speculation will lead nowhere, but consider my interest sufficiently piqued.

SF IV [Sony, M$]
Feb 24th, 2009 by Dan

I’m not quite ready to leave SF IV yet, so let me just say that the game is fun in a way I’ve missed for a long time. Fighting games have been trying to capture the same awesomeness of SFII since its launch; the original was just that iconic in arcades. Nowadays, the arcade is all but dead, but Street Fighter lives on with this epic sequel. The game is fun, it’s accessible, and it just all around does exactly what you want Street Fighter to do: be a good fighting game that’s complex, but easy. Go out there and rent or play it, it’s worth it.

A NEW CHALLENGER IS APPROACHING [Embedded Reporter]
Feb 23rd, 2009 by Dan

Deep from the trenches, it’s time for your Monday video feature: Embedded Reporter.

The fighting game sensation that swept the nation is back once again. Street Fighter IV has been kicking me in the pants repeatedly after I picked it up yesterday. More impressions later. For now enjoy the REALLY long intro. It starts out with a J-Pop song (that’s been translated into English in the American release), but then jumps right into the old-school theme. I have to say, I really like some of the artistic things they do with the swaths of ink after attacks

25 Random BASEBALL Things About Me
Feb 22nd, 2009 by Dan

When Schneider tagged me in her version of this I almost pulled a Linus Torvalds (http://torvalds-family.blogspot.com/2009/02/25-things-about-me.html), but instead I decided not to do one at all.

Then I came across two “25 Random Baseball Things” articles and fell in love with the idea as a way to release pent up excitement about the upcoming baseball season. Hope you enjoy it..

1. Baseball was the first team sport I ever played. To this day I don’t really understand what motivated my father to sign me up for the game. My grandfather is afraid of playing catch due to an incident where he got beaned, my dad is mostly apathetic toward sports in general, including baseball, and my older brother hated little league baseball. My best guess is that we were living in the mostly Cuban (at the time) Hialeah where little league baseball is the predominant sport.

2. I always wanted to play catcher as a kid, but I never got the chance to. I wasn’t ever going to be a pitcher, but I figured that catching involved the second most amount of action on the field. Instead most of my time was spent in the outfield, where I did a pretty good job, and one glorious season at second base. Whenever I play softball or baseball, I will usually play catcher or second base, unless the team needs me to play outfield.

3. My favorite team is the Florida Marlins and I still remember going to a game at Joe Robbie Stadium, as it was called then, to see them play in April of 1993. This was the first professional baseball game I ever attended and was the coolest thing that had ever happened to me before then until I actually walked on the field some years later.

4. I very quickly developed an intense hatred for the Atlanta Braves that still sticks with me to this day. It’s no coincidence that I also despise the Florida State Seminoles who share the absurdly racist and obnoxious tomahawk chop chant. Last year I found out that my uncle used to be a Braves fan since they were the closest team to Florida before 1993. I still feel deeply betrayed by this fact, even though he is now a Marlins fan.

5. When my family moved to Oregon sometime in 1995, I experienced something of a baseball Dark Ages that I didn’t really kick until 2003 and didn’t fully kick until last year, despite moving back to South Florida in 1997. Between 1995 to 2003 I went to one AAA baseball game (Portland Rockies), two pro baseball games (Seattle Mariners and Florida Marlins), one spring training game (Tigers at Yankees) and watched almost no baseball on tv.

6. I’m very ashamed to say that I maybe watched one or two of the games of the 1997 World Series, neither of which were Game 7. To this day I still root against the Cleveland Indians, partly because of that World Series, partly because they remind me of the Braves, and partly because living with Ohio-native Dean Strelau in 2007 allowed me to gloat about snatching two National Championships away from Ohio State, which led to a general dislike of any team from Ohio.

7. I quit playing baseball and started swimming competitively in 1998, a decision that I regret to this day. Sure, I wasn’t a very good ball player at that point, considering I did it mostly for fun, but I wish I had stuck with it. In case you were wondering, I wasn’t a very good swimmer either.

8. In that final season, my team played in a tournament against a team that traveled over to the states from Japan. We held our own for the first two or three innings, but eventually they got the best of us. I still remember that we had to use Japanese-style balls, but we didn’t have Japanese bats, which had some sort of rough coating on them that made them a bit different. I have a sneaking suspicion that we might have played a little better with access to their special equipment or if we used the standard American baseballs and bats instead.

9. The event that led to my baseball renaissance was the Steve Bartman incident in the 2003 postseason. Bartman will always be a hero of mine thanks to his paving the way for the Marlins 2003 World Series victory. I will gleefully ask any Cubs fan about how devastated they felt back in 2003 to be robbed of a pennant.

10. When the Marlins made it to the World Series in 2003 I wore a Marlins jersey that I’ve owned since the mid-90s to school. I’ll never forget that day, because in first period AP Statistics, Dan Gollins called me a front runner because he’d never seen me wear any Marlins paraphernalia before. I stand by the fact that I’ve been a Marlins fan since their inaugural year and I still get mad thinking about him calling me that, but I also kind of understand where he’s coming from and begrudgingly admit he’s got something of a point.

11. Speaking of the 2003 World Series, I have distinct memories of watching two of the seven games at Cornell during a campus visit that DPE flew me up for. I watched one of the games in the now-destroyed Class of ’26 with two Yankees fans. The other I watched in my brother’s apartment down on Gunn Hill.

12. This is a complicated one: I attended middle school and one year of high school down in South Florida at Cooper City High and the rest of them up in Central Florida at Sickles High. After prom at Sickles, I was invited down to Cooper City for prom with my old friends as my ex-girlfriend’s date, much to the ire of my current girlfriend. I still remember being quite insensitive as I called my girlfriend from their prom and told her that I wanted so badly to stay an extra day so that I could go with Josh Kushner to see the Marlins play the Diamondbacks that Sunday (23 May 2004 – http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/FLO/FLO200405230.shtml) because Dontrelle Willis was pitching against Randy Johnson. Better sense prevailed and I ended up going home as scheduled. The Marlins lost 4-3 that day and I’ve still yet to see Randy Johnson or Dontrelle Willis pitch in person.

13. The first Orioles game I went to was on 27 July 2005 against the Texas Rangers (http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BAL/BAL200507270.shtml). I’m pretty sure it was Sammy Sosa Bobblehead Night, although I could be wrong. It was a Wednesday, so I was worried about how long it would take me to get home cause I had work in the morning, but I figured it wouldn’t be that bad. After a 97-minute rain delay, the game FINALLY got underway. The Os and Rangers tied up the game in the 9th and the game ended in the 11th with the Rangers winning 11-8. I got home at 0200AM, but that baseball game is one of the best I’ve ever experienced.

14. One of my goals in life is to see a baseball game played in every ballpark. So far I’ve seen games in Joe Robbie Stadium/Pro Player Stadium/Dolphin Stadium (Marlins), the Kingdome (Mariners), Tropicana Field (Rays), Camden Yards (Orioles), RFK Stadium (Nationals), and Shea Stadium (Mets). Of these stadiums, the Kingdome, Shea, and RFK no longer house their respective teams, the Marlins will be leaving Dolphin Stadium by 2010ish, and the Rays are trying to get a new stadium approved leaving me with one solid stadium visited out of thirty. I’ve got a lot of work to do.

15. Once I’ve visited all the MLB stadiums, barring further stadium moves, I have decided to undertake the much more ambitious and difficult goal of seeing a game in all 13 Nippon Professional Baseball stadiums. I’ve only been to Japan once and Okinawa doesn’t have a baseball team, but I will get this done some day. Koshien Stadium here I come!

16. I am absolutely opposed to the DH rule in baseball. To me, it makes sense that any player who takes the field should have to bat for himself. Sure, it allows aging players or players with poor defense to have a spot on the roster, but I just think it takes away from the spirit of the game to have a guy whose only job is to bat while you have a whole group of guys whose only job it is to pitch. You could argue that pinch hitters serve that role in the NL, but the rules state that those guys have to step onto the field after they hit, unless there’s another substitution. Lack of a DH promotes greater strategy in baseball, period.

17. Rookie of the Year was the first baseball movie I ever saw. I’ve also seen Little Big League, A League of Their Own, Major League, Mr. Baseball, Hardball, and The Sandlot. My Netflix queue includes Field of Dreams, Mr. 3000, The Bad News Bears, and Fever Pitch. I think A League of Their Own and Little Big League are my two favorites.

18. I have a man-crush on 2008 Rookie of the Year Evan Longoria.

19. I’ve been to two games at Tropicana Field, one when the team was known as the Devil Rays and one after the name change. I was initially totally opposed to the name change, but it’s amazing what a name change, color scheme change, and a winning season will do for a team and their venue. The Trop is still one of the worst stadiums I’ve ever been to, but it was a lot more fun to go this past year.

20. I boo Darek Jeter when he comes up to bat for absolutely no reason. In retrospect, I should have been booing A-Rod this whole time.

21. There’s something about eating a hot dog in a ballpark that makes it taste infinitely better.

22. I always semi-rooted for the Devil Rays, but I definitely jumped on the Rays bandwagon this year and I fully intend to continue to root for them as my AL team. My NL team is, of course, the Marlins. I will actively root against the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Braves, and Indians. In the All-Star game, a non-Braves/Phillies game, or any Interleague game, I will root for the National League team. I don’t mind rooting for the Cubs unless they are in the postseason. I think it’s funny that they haven’t won a World Series in 100 years and I want the streak to continue.

23. My favorite ballplayers through the years: Benito Santiago, Chuck Carr, Cris Carpenter, Brian Harvey, Josh Beckett, Dontrelle Willis, Hanley Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome, Mike Lowell, and Evan Longoria

24. I have never caught a foul ball, ground rule double, or home run in the stands. It’s a selfish thing to do as a grown man, but I’m not sure I’d be able to give any ball I caught in the future to a kid at a game. Wouldn’t it be enough to give the second or third away?

25. Once they are old enough to enjoy it, I plan to take my recently adopted little brothers and sister to a ball game in the hopes that it will inspire the same love for the game that I have in them.

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