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Chrono Trigger Endurance Run Ep. 03 [GO/ER]
Nov 30th, 2011 by Dan

Brono, Bucca, and Brog face-off against Yakra to save Queen Leene! Will they be able to defeat the boss? Will they X-Slash? Tune in to find out!

Chrono Trigger Endurance Run Ep. 02 [GO/ER]
Nov 29th, 2011 by Dan

Brono’s search for Barle continues in AD 600. Will he meet Brog?

Chrono Trigger Endurance Run! [GO/ER]
Nov 28th, 2011 by Dan

Were you thinking, “Boy, I wish Giant Bomb would do another Endurance Run so that my life could be complete yet again…”? Well worry no more! Ryan Davis and Patrick Klepek are ER-ing Chrono Trigger, one of my favorite games of all time. Oh man, I hope they name Crono “Charlie” or “Tunoku” or something like that, but that might just be a Vinny thing. Enjoy!

What I’ve Been Doing 28 Nov 2011 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Nov 28th, 2011 by Dan

Epic seats!

I wish I had these seats at the Cornell game! (Photo courtesy my friend foreverdigital)

Between Thanksgiving and my quick jaunt up to New York to watch Cornell get robbed of a win by bad officiating, I didn’t have much time to consume media. Here’s what I managed:

Movies

Source Code – Watched the last half hour with Duffy this week. I don’t understand why people don’t like the ending to this movie. It’s the lynchpin that the whole thing rests on and it’s super cool/crazy/awesome.

TV

Homeland – Dick Johnson is laying it on a little thick for a Boehner joke, isn’t it Homeland? WHOA! Brody was/is a spy?!

The Walking Dead – Morning After brand morning after pills are my Plan B brand of choice. Glenn continues to be awesome.

2 Broke Girls – I think the straw that finally broke the camel’s back with this show was an off-color joke about the Kardashian wedding. I’m done here. This show will never have anything to offer me.

Up All Night – The part with Jason Lee trying to match the tone of Will Arnett’s voice was awesome.

Samurai Champloo – I still really love the ending theme to this song. My disc bugged out in the one where Jin tries to save a prostitute. I think Bebop is a much better show at this point, but I am enjoying the ride so far.

The Wire – The game is the game, yo. There is truly no better show in existence. Man, do I love The Wire. At this point the MCU is amping up to start laying down some charges. Love it.

Music

Had a long car trip that was fun, but this week was the week that I discovered that dubstep remixes can be really awesome. Still need to find more than two examples, but I like the ones I’m running into so far.

Books

No real reading time this week.

Video Games

The Binding of Isaac – ??? is really tough to play as. I had a run that would have got me the win (I had The Bible, which makes fighting Mom and It Lives so much easier), but I got iced going for the item on The Depths 2. Just gotta keep at it.

The Films of Christopher Nolan [FB/ER]
Nov 25th, 2011 by Dan

Kees van Dijkhuizen gets to my favorite director in his “The Films of” series. These movies are truly astounding and I can (and have) watch them endlessly. Nolan is a true auteur.

Locura [U]
Nov 25th, 2011 by Dan

Sickles High School Track

I don't have any pictures of Sickles High School myself, so this one of the track team is the best I can offer (Photo courtesy schulzfamily.org)

For some reason I had this story come back into my mind the other night. Let me set the stage for you:

This happened when I was 17. My senior year of high school was about 1/4 done. That summer I’d started dating a girl I met at my job at Busch Gardens. She was older than me, 19-years-old, although she claimed that her paperwork was wrong, her name wasn’t her real name, and she was actually 21. That there should have been enough of a warning sign. Honestly, I don’t even know how much of what she told me was true. I did believe that she was Peruvian, at least, since she definitely looked and sounded like she was from Peru, but there were tons of little white lies told here and there that made me think that she may have been a pathological liar. Not to mention that, well, what kind of girl of her supposed age would be dating a high school guy?

She told me a story once about the former Peruvian president, Alberto Fujimori. This guy allegedly faked being born in Peru, stole lots of money, and fled Peru in a corruption scandal. In fact, he was at large until 2007 when he was apprehended in Chile and extradited to Peru. It’s actually a really fitting story, at least in terms of the deception and its ridiculousness.

Toward the end of our relationship, Stephanie became convinced by someone in one of her classes (I can’t remember if it was GED or community college classes at HCC) that I was cheating on her with some girl in my school. The best part about it was that she was kind of fumbling around latching on to every name of the different girls I’d been hanging out with, lending zero credence to her story. She eventually decided that I had been cheating on her with my friend Heather, who I had never even had any kind of flirtation with. It was patently absurd, but, hey, she was convinced.

One day I was walking out to my car and, lo and behold, there was Stephanie. She had made her way by bus from either her job or her classes (easily somewhere between 0.5 to 2 hrs depending on where she was before) to my campus, sneaked into the parking lot in the back, and was lurking around the portables waiting for me to get to my car. That meant that a girl who claimed to be 21-years-old was lurking around my high school campus to see if her 17-year-old boyfriend was cheating on her with one of his classmates.

It’s maybe not the most irrational thing I’ve ever seen a girl do out of jealousy, but it does remain one of the weirdest, semi-scariest things I’ve ever personally seen. If you’re wondering, we broke up not long after that. Things were getting really weird with her, I had quit my job at Busch Gardens to focus more on my other job at Publix, and I just wasn’t really into her any more.

The Hunger Games Trailer [FB]
Nov 21st, 2011 by Dan

Yeah, the trailer’s been out a while, but I only recently got around to watching it. Should be pretty awesome. Jennifer Lawrence looks like she’s gonna do a stellar job. Can’t wait.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword First Impressions [GO]
Nov 21st, 2011 by Dan

Zelda 029

A little on the nose there, Nintendo, but you're right. This game dropped on the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda

Skyrim and Skyward Sword are two vastly different games, but playing Skyward Sword made me realize just what felt off about Skyrim. It’s that uncanny valley problem again. When your game strives for photorealism as much as Skyrim does, it can’t help but feel a little off when your character doesn’t move like a real person. LoZ: SS has none of those problems, as you might imagine, because it looks so stylized.

As you might imagine, Skyward Sword is yet another Wii game trying to do more with less. In motion and outside of cutscenes the game looks perfectly fine. It’s only when you zoom in for those cinematic moments that you have jaggies and aliasing and the seams start to show. I really do appreciate the brilliance of the Nintendo artists because games like this and Kirby’s Epic Yarn both look fantastic on a 480p connection.

Zelda 002

The collector's edition bundle, complete with special Wiimote Plus

I’ve still got to put more than two or three hours in, but Skyward Sword is shaping up to be one of my favorite games of this fall for one reason: character. If there was one thing that Twilight Princess lacked, it was character. Everything was dark and dreary and realistic just like every other stupid fantasy game out there. It was especially glaring after what we got in Wind Waker with its vibrant colors and eccentric characters. So far, Skyward Sword has that in spades.

Zelda 044

Her hair is a pendulum. It's awesome.

The Skyloft area is a hub of zany fun. Link’s classmates are hilarious archetypes with the pompadour-ed bully and his goofy looking lackeys. Zelda and Link’s relationship reminds me of anime high school relationships and his headmaster is named Gaepora! Fly outside of the city and you also get characters like the bartender at the pumpkin bar place who I’m now in thrall to thanks to a chandelier…er…accident. It was awesome!

Zelda 041

Property damage has never been so fun!

Our interaction went something like this. I walked into the bar and the camera showed me that there was a heart piece hanging from the roof. When I spoke to the barman’s daughter she told me not to try to knock it down because it wouldn’t work. Naturally I went right up to the second floor and knocked down the chandelier. Everyone in the bar was super shocked and then the barman started yelling, “WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!” It…was…awesome. Now I have to sell soup for him, but it was totally worth it for that absurdist moment there. That’s what Twilight Princess was missing. When TP got absurd it got creepy and weird.

Zelda 040

The most hilarious moment of the session. I love how this game comments on the mayhem that most players cause in the world

Below are the rest of my miscellaneous observations:

– Not having access to fine tune settings like text speed is a little weird for me. I hate the glacial pace that the text flows and there’s no quick way to fast forward it.

– On the other hand, they did give me the option to remove most of the UI and that is awesome. Nothing worse than an overcrowded UI.

– There are new mechanics that are neat. Actions all seem to drain stamina in a Mario-style pie chart. Running, hanging from ledges, climbing, rolling, spin attacks…It’s not a huge change, but I like it.

– The way they bind motion option selections with a string is brilliant in a way that makes me wonder why no one has ever thought of it before. So much better than hunting for menu items with the pointer.

Zelda 028

Why has no one thought of this before? It's really quite brilliant.

– Like I said earlier, Headmaster Gaepora! Awesome. Can’t wait to find more mythology tie-ins

– Ok…using the sword is super cool. Sometimes I get a jab when I want a swing, but that’s usually when I’m being lazy. Getting swarmed was tough to deal with at first, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it as time goes on. Doesn’t help that my shield has a health bar. What gives?!

Zelda 020

Maybe I should have named Link Min instead of Daniel

– Flying is initially clumsy because you control it with the wiimote, not the cursor. I’m getting better at it, but it flies against first instinct.

– It’s the little touches. Always the little touches:

– The Zelda found secret stinger is played on a harp since the arc instrument in this game is a harp
– In the bazaar the music changes to reflect each vendor’s motifs, adding and dropping instruments based on proximity. In fact, all of the music in this game is pretty awesome so far.
– Everyone’s house/room tells a little story about who they are from someone who collects cute things to someone who clearly doesn’t dust at all. No one room is a generic “room”. Skyrim doesn’t have these emergent stories. Homes are homes with scant little to differentiate or personalize them.
– There was a woman with antiques who charged me every time I broke her stuff by rolling into the wall. I emptied my wallet laughing so hard and breaking all her shit. That was so much fun.

Zelda 026

Looking in people's cupboards reveals a little bit about them...at the cost of a minor scolding.

– If there was one terrible thing, it’s the constant reminders about rupee denominations. I KNOW! It’s annoying and it doesn’t add anything to keep reminding us what everything does every time we run into it.

What I’ve Been Doing 21 Nov 2011 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Nov 21st, 2011 by Dan

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Link gets his green tunic

The more things change the more things stay the same.

This was a really video game and TV heavy weekend. Two big “Sky” games in Skyrim and Skyward Sword hit and I put in pretty good time with both.

Movies

Wow, I’m surprised I didn’t get one in this week again.

TV

Fringe – My momentum has slowed somewhat on the show thanks to all the new games, but it’s still lots of stupid fun.

Samurai Champloo – Funny episode about westerners being accepted in Japan. They seemed to imply that they might be there already, but are they really? The gay jokes were also a little too much, but the beat boxing was anachronistic and awesome.

Homeland – Suuuuper tense. We’re only in episode 10 and they already showed us who the terrorist is. Where do we go for the last three eps? Will it just turn into 24?

The Walking Dead – Line of the night: “You see eleven condoms, I see eleven minutes of my life I’m never getting back.” I like Maggie and Glenn and Daryl. They’re really killing Andrea with her subplots this season, but I still like her as a character too.

Glee – Mash-ups! This is usually my favorite part of the season. A few notes:

– Singing a love song with your student’s mom is kind of weird.
– “You look skinny like all the crops failed on your family’s farm.” How great is it that 1920s-era Irish jokes are apparently insults in Glee?
– Dodgeball musical number…hilarious. This is what people point at when they say Glee is lame, but I dug it. Too bad they had that anti-dodgeball thing at the end. I didn’t play dodgeball in high school, but I loved it in elementary school. Tons of fun.
– I like the costuming in the Hall & Oates number. Those mustaches!
– Best line from Todd VanDerWerff’s The AV Club recap: “If the next week on is any indication, everybody’s going to learn about how Santana feels hurt by being outed by singing “I Kissed A Girl.” The model of restraint, this show.”
– David especially likes to rib me about liking this show, but that Adele mash-up at the end (not sure how long this Hulu video will stick around, but it’s still here now) was everything great about this show. Killer number mixed in with all the emotions and feelings of the episode (this isn’t even the cut that showed in the episode, that was more intense). Numbers like this are what keeps me coming back to this show even when it’s monumentally stupid like it was in S2.

New Girl – Best lines: “I don’t want to hear, Schmidt, Schmidt, you’re using too much tarragon.” “Oh, I’ve had zero pumpkin ales.” SO MUCH BEST BUY PRODUCT PLACEMENT!

Parks and Rec – I don’t know why I wasn’t expecting the Leslie/Ben relationship subplot to go this way, but it’ll be interesting to see if this does actually cause a scandal. Pretty solid episode since you can’t go wrong having Ron Swanson interact with anyone.

Up All Night – I’m glad this show is getting rewarded with Thursday (even though it comes at the expense of Community, kind of) because it’s the strongest comedy I’ve seen that’s debuted this year. Great laughs with Will Arnett. Even Jennifer Hall got some fantastic laughs this episode.

Community - So they pretty much took the documentary episode from S2 and mixed it with the Jesus meta-contextual video episode from earlier and threw in a little Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse for good measure. Most of it really worked and I love the way that Dan Harmon constantly pokes the shippers in his audience.

The League – Jeff Goldblum was super funny as Ruxin’s hyper-critical father. I like that he took on some of Ruxin’s mannerisms too. That’s good acting.

Persona 4: The Animation – It kind of toes the line between outright offensive and kind of offensive, but anime isn’t well known for its sensitivity to homosexuality. Still, the last two episodes were riotously funny. The show seems to be moving so fast that I’m wondering how it will stretch to 24 episodes, but I guess there are lots of social links to explore.

The Wire – Went back to this to watch some commentaries and I’m loving it yet again. Just ponderous and slow and interesting as it gives you the perspectives of both the MCU and the drug dealers. Great stuff. The “fuck” investigation scene is still one of the best moments in TV history.

Music

Skyward Sword came with an orchestrated retrospective on 25 years of Zelda. That CD is pretty awesome. Get your hands on it by buying a first run copy of Skyward Sword. Don’t come to me crying if you miss it.

Books

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) – Podcasts and eating in the office killed some of my reading time on my nook, but I’ll probably get some time to finish this weekend with the holiday and all. Still very funny.

Video Games

Skyrim – Sprawling and super involved, but I’m having a real hard time immersing myself in this. It’s just not working for me and my theory is that it’s an uncanny valley issue. Still, I’m enjoying playing it. I found myself fighting vampires last night and that was really cool.

The Binding of Isaac – Up to 9 Mom kills. Just one more and I unlock Sheol, the final dungeon. This $5 game gave me a ton of mileage.

Resident Evil 5 – David and I finally beat the game! Lots of fun, this was. Glad to play it again.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – I was really not expecting to love this game as much as I have. It may be the best Zelda I’ve played since Wind Waker (ok, it’s only the second after WW, but still!). Lots of character and lots of fun. Those were things definitely missing from Twilight Princess and that’s what makes Zelda great.

Skyrim First Impressions [GO]
Nov 18th, 2011 by Dan

Elder Scrolls V Skyrim 03

It's definitely a very pretty game (Photo courtesy nxcuso)

Well, guys, I finally did it. After all the hype and all the insistence of my friends, I plopped down $60 and bought me Skyrim. Mind you, I found Fallout 3 to be dull most of the time and marginally entertaining at other times and I never had even the slightest interest in playing Oblivion, but here I was, buying into the hype.

Within the first hour of playing Skyrim I ran into every single thing I hated about Fallout and every reason I didn’t want to play Oblivion. I will enumerate these things below:

1. The fucking fantasy accents. I really hate how people insist that everyone in fantasy media have some sort of European accent.

2. Combat/Movement is floaty, disconnected-feeling, and not fun. The NPC animation is kind of janky. I dunno. Nothing has any of that tim rogers-style friction. My actions don’t pop and I feel like a bull just barreling through the world with zero finesse. It’s clumsy and awkward to me (at least at the moment)

3. Halfway through the first quest I became so encumbered that I had to clear out my inventory or walk at a glacial pace.

4. Not long after that I came across a lore book. Instead of easing me in to the world of Skyrim, this book contained 35 (not exaggerating that much) terms – be they races, countries, concepts, or things – that had no explanation or basis for someone like me to understand. It read something like this to me, “And then Fulanito found a jibbertijab and took it to Fluttergamon so that he could take his place as the leader of the Roobawoo people.” It’s incomprehensible. I literally could not parse more than a handful of sentences and this book was meant to set up the whole Dragonborn thing.

5. Conversations were super boring! “Let us both stand completely still and talk about Whiterun. If I move my vocal chords shut down.”

6. There were arbitrary rules about stealing stuff in the first house I was at. Dude will literally empty his pockets and give everything on him to me, I can take all his food, pick up gold coins from his table and keep them, but if I take his boots that are under the table…no, that’s stealing.

7. Last bad thing: the interface on PC is shit. It’s built for a controller.

I know it sounds like I hate this game. Despite all of these things immediately reminding me why I didn’t want to play Skyrim, I didn’t feel that exasperated with the game until this morning when I was thinking about it. Here’s what I did like:

– This game is really pretty. Normally that’s not that much of a factor for me, but it actually felt like a real place that I was wandering about.

– During the opening dragon attack sequence I accidentally ventured too far ahead and stood directly in the path of the dragon’s fire attack. I’m pretty sure this means I’m fireproof. Fighting dragons is gonna be a joke.

– Some of the systems do actually intrigue me. The skill progression system seems cool as does the fact that some dude apparently just yells at people to kill them. That sounds like an awesome ability to have.

– I can dual wield fireballs. I shoot streams of fire from both hands…and then my mana runs out and I back away from my assailants in circles until I can shoot them some more.

– Further along that point, I like that you build up weapon skills/abilities by use. You have the proficiency to use everything kind of poorly. It’s up to you to progress down whichever path you want.

– I’m absolutely looking forward to slaughtering as many elves as possible. My character is this ugly lizard man who I’m role playing as having utter contempt for every other race he encounters…especially elves. Can’t wait to meet some elves.

– Everyone is super ugly. Makes sense. I like that.

– I’m super excited to just wander around and see what I run into/come across. That sense of, “Oh, hey, there’s something really close by that I should just check out…” from Fallout 3 definitely persists and feels fun. Can’t go wrong with that.

Skyrim has me cautiously optimistic to play it. Maybe I’ll be able to move past the things I dislike about Bethesda games and actually enjoy the game that everyone else universally loves.

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