Sunday, July 31, 2011

Nintendo 3DS Price Cut

Big news, everyone!  Nintendo is dropping the price of the 3DS from $250 to $170.  Why?  I'm not sure, so I decided to check in with my favorite videogame news reporter, the poorly-informed movie reviewer.

Only this time, the poorly-informed movie reviewer was well-informed.  Who knew?

He says that Nintendo has had to cut their expected net profit by 82%, after bad Q2 results.  Even though the company has transitioned to supporting the 3DS, the DS system is still their biggest seller; they sold over twice as many DS systems as 3DS systems.

In short, people aren't buying 3DSes, and Nintendo has been forced to lower the price in order to try to get more buyers.

Why aren't people buying 3DSes?  Here are various reasons people have come up with:
  1. Perhaps the DS cost too much, at $250.  In comparison, the DS Lite is $125, the DSi is $150, and the Wii is $200.  People are buying Nintendo's cheaper systems as a money-saving measure.
  2. There aren't enough good games for the 3DS right now, mainly because the "big" game releases have been delayed until the holiday seasons.  There's not much in the 3DS catalog to brag about, except maybe Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
  3. People think 3D is a gimmick, and they are more than tired of it already.
  4. The DS and 3DS are so similar, that it's hard to figure out what makes the 3DS different.
  5. The casual gaming audience, which is Nintendo's main audience, is spending their money on smartphones and social gaming instead.  Angry Birds, for the win!
  6. A lot of reporters and reviewers (like me!) have made fun of the 3DS, which makes it seem unappealing in the public's eye.
  7. Nintendo sort of rushed the system out too early.  It probably would have been better if they delayed the launch by three months, when they had all the features ready.
Now, I like it when companies use deflation as a way to increase profits.  Fast food companies, take note!  This is a good idea!  But will this gamble by Nintendo actually pay off?  Or is the 3DS doomed to die, just like Nintendo's previous 3D system, the Virtual Boy?  Two rounds of price cuts couldn't save the Virtual Boy, after all...

Stay tuned, to see what happens for Nintendo in Q3! 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

TV Suggestions

Building off of yesterday's post, I've got a minor rant about TV service.  It seems to me that the TV company we use, Comcast, has room for improvement.  My family finally got an HD TV, and the new Comcast HD service they're using still isn't working well.


The special new HD box has 700 or so channels.  That's great, until you learn that half of them are channels listed as "unavailable".  It's rather hard to find the channels you actually want to watch, because they're hidden inside hundreds of unavailable channels.

Suggestion #1: Don't bloat the TV guide with channels that aren't actually there.

Half of the channels that we do get are duplicate channels.  You get NBC, and NBC HD.  ESPN, ESPN HD.  Cartoon Network, Cartoon Network HD.  (I suspect that the two Cartoon Network channels are, in fact, one and the same.)  Is it really necessary for them to offer non-HD material on their HD-service?


Suggestion #2: Remove all duplicate channels.

The bad part is that they're probably forcing us to pay twice, for the same channels.  That seems totally unfair.  And speaking of getting rid of unnecessary TV channels...


Suggestion #3: Let me pick which channels I want to watch.

Despite all Comcast's talk about how they offer "personalized entertainment experiences", I think it's rather impersonal to force everyone to buy the exact same TV packages.  I don't want to buy channels in bulk, because that always involves buying channels that I'll never watch, such as foreign language channels.


Why not just let me pick and choose the five or so channels that I actually watch?  Oh, that'd be so nice.  No more sorting through huge TV guides, full of stuff I don't want.  Instead, my TV would only tune into things I actually want to watch!


And it'd be super cheaper, because I'd only have to pay for five channels, instead of 500.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The 90's Are All That

Nickelodeon is running a new programming block called The 90's Are All That, in which they air old TV shows from the 1990's.  Pretty much everyone I know is really pumped for this.  Why?

  1. We love those old 90's shows.
  2. We cannot remember anything about them.

Jeddy and I had a conversation recently about Salute Your Shorts, a summer camp show.  It turned out that we could only name three characters on the show.  So now that the show is on the air again, we can get all caught up on our favorite characters who we may or may not remember at all.

The show I'm most excited for is our family's favorite, The Secret World of Alex Mack.  Alex is a teenager with cool superpowers, and she has the fashion sense of a homeless man.  My dad has the exact same fashion sense, which is why he liked the show so much.  For the first time even, he could brag that he was dressing like the people on TV.

Alex Mack had cool special effects, as I recall, but I'm pretty sure that they won't look so good anymore, in today's computer-generated special effects world.  If I recall correctly, Alex's superpowers involved turning into water and glowing.

In summary, I am super-pumped for The 90's Are All That.  Three hours of 90's shows, every weekday night?  Great!

...Now for the bad news.  The shows are not going to air on Nickelodeon.  They are going to air on Teen Nick, one of the random extra Nickelodeon channels.  And you have to pay extra for that channel.  Actually, I'm pretty sure you can't just purchase that channel alone; they force you to buy thirty or so other special channels, by only selling them as a group.

So...no 90's shows for me.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

News

Here's the most recent news I could find.
  • A Wizard of Oz prequel movie is in the works.  I'm not sure how I feel about this.  My favorite book in the Oz series is the second one, but it seems like they'll never make a movie version of that.
  • Bad news for job seekers.  The percentage of job listings which say "the unemployed need not apply" is increasing.  I don't really understand the idea behind preventing jobless people from applying for jobs.  After all, aren't they the ones who need jobs the most?  In any case, the jobless are getting really fed up with seeing "the unemployed need not apply" all over the job listings, and they've started to complain that they're being discriminated against.
  • The US government is going to run out of money on Tuesday, unless they can think of a good plan to get out of the situation.  The last time this happened in California--i.e. this year--the legislature didn't resolve the budget issue until long past the deadline.  Let's hope the federal government works better than the state government.
  • Due to their financial problems, odds are that the US government is no longer going to help pay for the California Bullet Train, and it's starting to look like the project will be shut down, because no one has $50 billion to spare for train building.  Several mayors in California have urged the state to continue this project, even though it's not close to being funded.
  • The US Postal System is having budget issues, and thirteen post offices in our local area have been put on the "could possibly close" list.
  • People in San Francisco are trying to ban circumcision, on the grounds that it is immoral.  This confuses me, because people generally perform circumcisions for health reasons and religious reasons.  The circumcision ban is currently set to be on the ballot during the next election, but it's currently looking like a judge is going to take it off the ballot.

Yeah, the news this week is not very good.  It mostly focuses on the fact that the government doesn't have enough money.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Professor Layton - Catching Up to Japan

Amazon.com has sent me a message, saying that the fourth Professor Layton game has been delayed for an unknown period of time.  Previously, the tentative release date was "September".  Now there isn't any release date at all.


I'm excited for the fourth game, because it means we are finally going to be caught up with Japan, when it comes to the Professor Layton games!

...Kind of.

After the fourth game comes the Professor Layton movie.  This movie is set in the universe of Game 4, not the universe of the original trilogy.  That means it has a new female lead, a new main antagonist, and a new Scotland Yard Inspector.  After playing the fourth game, we'll finally know who these characters are, and we'll be able to understand the movie!

I'm still not sure why they released the movie in the UK last year.  Who releases a spinoff movie before releasing the original that the spinoff was based on?

Okay, so once the fourth game is released, the Layton fans are all going to play it, then watch the Layton movie on YouTube.  That'll almost get us all caught up with Japan.  The only thing left for us to play is the Layton 3DS game, which will probably arrive next year.

Also, Layton 3DS sort of looks ugly and blocky.


Of course, Japan is probably going to announce the release dates of the sixth Professor Layton game, along with the Phoenix Wright/Professor Layton crossover. We know those games are in development, even if the details about them have been kept under wraps.  But until those release dates are announced, for a brief period time, we will only be one game behind Japan, not two!  Hooray!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Danger Music

If you take a look at the list of background msuic songs from the Nancy Drew series, you'll notice that one of the most common song titles is "danger".  "Tension" and "mystery" seem to appear a lot, too.

So here are four danger songs. Which one do you like best?







Monday, July 25, 2011

The Story of Saint Christopher

Today is the feast day of Saint Christopher.  In general, there are two stories told about him: a short one and a longer one.  I thought I'd retell those stories, for everyone who hasn't heard them before.

Both stories say that he was a large, ugly man whose name was Offero.  Loosly translated, offero is Latin for "the carrier", and that was his job: he carried heavy things for other people.

Specifically, Offero worked for one of the local kings, and he was very proud of his job, because everyone said his king was the strongest king in the world.  This appealed to him, because he was a strong giant, but one day, the king and his party passed by a church, and the king made the sign of the cross.

Offero asked the king why he did that, and the king explained that if you make the sign of the cross, it will keep you safe from the devil.  Offero thought about that for a while, and he decided that if the king was afraid of the devil, then he really wasn't the strongest king in the world after all.

So Offero quit his job working for the king, and he set off in search of the devil, because he wanted to see the person that the king was so afraid of.  Eventually, Offero found a group of dangerous ruffians living in the forest, and the leader of the group said that he was the devil.  He also bragged that he is the strongest king in the world, and that's exactly who Offero was looking for, so Offero started working for him.

About a month later, the devil and his demonic crew passed by the same church Offero saw earlier, and Satan ran away in fear as soon as he saw the cross on top of the church.  When Offero asked him why, Satan explained that the cross is the symbol of Jesus Christ, who is immune to the power of Satan and who conquered sin and death.  Offero thought about this for a while, and he decided that if Jesus was able to defeat Satan, then Jesus must be the strongest king in the world.

The shorter version of the story of Saint Christopher starts here, at this point in the longer story.  Offero decided he would serve Jesus, the strongest king in the world, but he didn't know where Jesus was or how to serve him.  He tried to find someone who knew more about Jesus, and eventually, he met an old man who said that the best way to serve Jesus is to serve other people.

The old man lived in a hut, next to a strong river.  There was no bridge leading over the river, and many people had trouble crossing it.  Since Offero was large and strong, the old man suggested that he could help other people by carrying them and their things across the river.

Offero lived with the old man, and he helped carry people across the river whenever they wanted.  It wasn't much different from his previous job as a carrier, and he managed to help a lot of travellers, but he still didn't understand what helping others had to do with Jesus.

One night, there was a terrible rainstorm, and Offero was hoping to stay inside the hut, when he thought he heard a voice outside.  It was a tiny voice, and it was hard to hear through the rain, so he went outside to investigate.  There, he saw a small child, who asked to be carried to the other side of the river.

Offero looked at the river, which was higher than usual, due to the rainstorm.  The current was also stronger than usual, and it looked dangerous.  However, Offero realized that it would be too dangerous for the child to cross alone, so he put the child on his back and started wading through the river.

At first, there weren't any problems, but then the child seemed to grow heavier and heavier, as the water seemed to rise higher and higher.  It grew colder, as the winds blew furiously, and Offero clutched his cloak tightly.  He almost fell down a few times, despite his great strength, and by the time he reached the other shore, Offero was practically holding on to his walking stick for support.

Offero let the child down gently on the shore, and he breathed a great sigh of relief to have such a huge weight off of his back.  Offero asked the small child why he was so heavy, and the child responded, "I am Jesus Christ, the king you have been looking for.  I weigh so much because I carry the sins of the world.  Thank you for helping lighten my burden."



The child Jesus disappeared shortly afterwards, but not before he changed Offero's name from Offero (the carrier) to Christopher (Christ--Offero, the Christ Carrier).  Saint Christopher later became a travelling preacher, and he managed to convert thousands of people to the faith with his inspired homilies.  That is why, today, Saint Christopher is known as the patron saint of travellers.

Eventually, the Roman Emperor Decius, who outlawed Christianity, heard about Christopher, and he sent a company of soldiers to capture him.  The soldiers had no trouble finding Christopher, because he was giving a sermon to a large crowd.  However, they were so interested by the homily that after they arrested him, they spoke with him for hours about Jesus and Christianity, and eventually, the soldiers asked Christopher to baptize them before they turned him over to the emperor.

Emperor Decius was furious that Christopher converted his soldiers, and he had Christopher tortured several times, in hopes that Christopher would give up the Christian faith.  When this didn't work, the emperor had him beheaded on July 25, 254.

Skeptics say that some (or all) of the stories about Saint Christopher are made up, but this is hardly a surprise, seeing as these skeptics say the exact same thing about Jesus.  Still, the story of Saint Christopher conveys a wholesome truth. We ought all to be Christ-carriers, by preserving faith, hope and charity in our hearts, and by receiving Our Lord worthily in holy communion. He alone is worthy of our service. In the service that we owe to others, we ought to serve God by doing his will. We cannot divide our hearts, for our Lord himself says, "No man can serve two masters" (Matthew 6:24). If you serve the world, it deceives you, for it cannot give you what it promises. If you serve sin, Satan is your master. He, too, deceives his servants, and leads them to destruction. Christ on the cross conquered these two tyrants, and with his help you can also vanquish them. Therefore, give yourself to him with all your heart, and you shall find peace in this world, and eternal bliss in the next. St. Augustine learned this truth by sad experience, and therefore exclaims, "You have created us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Paper Mario 64

I just finished playing Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64.  Here are some thoughts I had:
  • I still find it hilarious that Bowser talks in dude lingo.
  • Solving the overly dramatic penguin murder mystery was fun.
  • It is unfair when bosses can heal themselves whenever they want.  The only possibly strategy you can use against that is "hope the boss doesn't use the healing move".
  • Also, not having a save point / heal point before the boss of level six?  Unfair, unexpectedly dropping a boss battle on me when I was at 30% strength.
  • I think Mario should have dialogue in these games.  Bowser probably has about three pages of dialogue, and Peach probably has ten.  But poor old Mario gets no lines at all.
  • Why can't one of the party members' special abilities be "avoid all random battles"?  That would be a great special ability!  This goes for RPGs in general, not just this one.
I played the Gamecube Paper Mario game first, and it's interesting to see how the two games are about 70% the same.  You could probably swap two chapters from both games, without much difficulty.  I'm going to say that I liked the GC game better, because it has a number of smaller improvements, such as no level cap and making the non-Mario party members more important.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Video Recording Update

Here's what's up in the world of video recording for me.

1.  I finally finished Pajama Sam's Boring Spinoff Game: Whoever Said This Game Was Short and Sweet Was a Liar.  It takes about two and a half hours to get through this game, made up of a hundred nearly identical levels.

2.  I think I'll continue with the Nancy Drew background music videos.  They're easy to make.  Also, they have higher-quality graphics than my original recording attempts, four years ago.

3.  Phoenix Wright 3 is done.  Hooray!  Expect it to be released over the next month or so.  The plans to move the Phoenix Wright videos to the arglefumph channel will be enforced at some unknown time.  It'd be nice if I could do an Apollo Justice walkthrough when moving those videos over, but Apollo Justice is kind of a long game, so that might not be feasible.


4.  I have eighteen Professor Layton and the Unwound Future videos that have been done.  I have to decide whether or not to continue the walkthrough.  Eighteen videos is like, what, a fourth of the way through the game?

I'm going on a trip to Spain next month, so I think I have time for one more recording project, and then that'll be it for a while.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Remakes

I've always been a little confused as to the nature and purpose of remakes.  On one hand, it's supposed to be a tribute to the original material.  But on the other hand, it's sort of desecrating the original by refusing to let it stand on its own, and by trying to improve upon it.

The weirdness of remakes struck me yesterday, when I read some reviews of the remake of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.  Here's what the reviewers had to say:

Reviewer #1 says the remake is designed for people who enjoyed the original game, 13 years ago.  These people liked the original, so they don't want the remake to be different in any way, shape or form.  Otherwise, they'll complain like mad.

Reviewer #2 says the remake is designed for modern gamers, who can't stand to play the original game, seeing as it's old and has bad, polygonal graphics.  As a result, they want the remake to be completely different from the original, so they can enjoy it.

I couldn't help but notice that our two reviews completely disagree about everything.  The group that enjoyed the original wants as little as possible to be changed, while the group that didn't enjoy the original wants everything to be changed.  It seems that, no matter what the remake is like, one of these two groups (or both) will be severely disappointed.

It seems to me that you could apply these broad categories to most remakes.  Fans of the original don't like to see the source material changed, while new fans insist upone changes.  It's like remakes are inherently contradictory, because their two target audiences are diametrically opposed.

As for the Zelda: Ocarina of Time remake, it took the "not changing anything at all" route, even to the point of leaving in glitches from the original game.  I find myself disappointed with this, because the original game was, well, sort of rushed and unfinished.  This would have been a great opportunity for them to put in some of the things that they had to cut out, such as the Light Temple, the unfrozen Zora's Domain, the Young Link version of the Gerudo's Fortress, and an ending that makes sense.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Back to the Future: Episode Five - OUTATIME

Oh, hey.  I just realized I didn't review Episode 5 of Back to the Future.  Were people expecting me to do that?

Episode 5: OUTATIME is a good game, pretty much.  The only problem with it being so good is that it makes you realize how bad the other episodes are.

I checked the sizes of the games on my computer. This game takes up over four times as much memory as the first game does.  Four times!  Why does this game have so much more content than the other games?  It's like the developers suddenly realized, "Uh oh, we've only got one more game left in the series!  That means we have to do something now!"

Yes, I just complained that this game has an overload of good material.  That's because they should have spread out the goodness over the entire series, instead of saving it all for the big finale.

Case in point?  The subplot about how Young Emmett always fights with his father, Judge Brown.  This subplot was brought up in Episode 1, ignored in Episodes 2 through 4, and gets concluded here. They really should have resolved that subplot back in Episode 1 while it was still relevant.  You know?  I liked the entire sequence, I liked seeing what Judge Brown looked like, and it was surprisingly emotional considering that the Judge is only onscreen for five minutes, but still.  It was slightly out of place.

Another good thing about this game, which makes the others look bad in comparison, is the length of the game.  It's longer than the others, or at least, it feels much longer.  The halfway point of the game--where the villain steals the DeLorean and seconds later, the town of Hill Valley completely disappears--is actually a halfway point for once.  If this was an earlier episode in the series, they would have stopped the game there, on a cliffhanger ending.  But instead, they decided to actually resolve the plotline, by following it up with three more sequences.

Three sequences that take place in new locations, even!  "New locations" meaning "not the courthouse square for the fifth game in a row".  Oh man, that was fun!  Brand new areas with brand new puzzles to solve is not a bad idea.

Other notes I have about this game are...
  • It freaked me out how Marty and Young Emmett were able to do perfect imitations of Old Doc.  Young Emmett makes sense, but Marty?  When did he become a mimic?
  • Speaking of voice acting, Doc does a pretty good French accent.
  • Trixie does another song in this episode.  They sure seem to enjoy her singing, don't they?
  • The sequence near the start of the game with Marty chasing the particle accelerator was absolutely pointless.  To solve this puzzle, you just have to click on the item three times.  That's it.
  • I liked the sliding doors puzzle, although I thought it was a bit too easy.  I'm sure that most other reviewers will complain that it was too challenging and out of place.
  • Why was the blacksmith sign an item you could pick up when you never use it anywhere?
  • I am disappointed at the direction they took Edna Strickland there.  For a moment--and I mean, for three episodes--it felt like they were leading up to something big, something involving actual character development.  But in the end, they shrugged it off and went for, "Oh, well, she's just been evil all along, that's all."  That's a cop-out!
  • It was fun to see Michael J. Fox in this game, although it sort of makes you wonder why they didn't hire him from the get-go, because it appears he can still do a perfect Marty voice.
The ending scenes were pretty much fun and awesome.  That's all I have to say about them.  And the "To be continued..." sign that appeared after the ending credits?  Is this their way of unofficially telling us that a second series is on the way?

I sort of hope a second series is on the way.  But next time?  Make every game in the series good like this.  Don't make the final game disproportionally better than the others.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Superman Meets Congress

Here's something that some of you may find interesting. It's a series from the Superman newspaper comic strip, which ran shortly after the United States of America entered World War Two.

The storyline in Superman went something like this.  Clark Kent tried to join the US army, but he was so excited about fighting in the war that he really wasn't paying attention to what was going on.  As a result, when he was told to read an eye chart, he accidentally used his x-ray vision and read the eye chart in the next room.  The eye test man concluded that Clark was nearly blind, and they kicked him out of the army recruitment base.

Poor Superman, getting rejected by the US Army by accident.  In any case, he decided that if he couldn't fight with the army, he would do the next best thing.  That's when he paid this visit to the US Congress:





Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fast Food Update

I've got an update on fast food, even though nobody asked for one.

1. Burger King has new chicken tenders.  They basically look the same as McDonald's chicken nuggets.  After a taste test, I am able to confirm that they taste just like the old BK chicken tenders.  So they look like chicken nuggets, but they don't taste like chicken nuggets.

2. I was able to do a taste test comparison wtih Wendy's ketchup, McDonald's ketchup and Burger King's ketchup.  BK and Wendy's have the same kind of ketchup: Heinz ketchup.  McDonald's has some strange knock-off ketchup, which is spicier than the type used at the other places.  Therefore, McDonald's loses the ketchup competition.

3. Taco Bell has raised their prices again, and now their dollar menu is bereft of anything worth eating.  The 79 cent menu has disappeared entirely.  This is a problem for me; I liked Taco Bell food because it was cheap, not because it was good.  Now that they want me to pay 40% more for the same food, I really have to wonder if it's worth it at all.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Nancy Drew: Danger on Deception Island Music

For the next few days, I'll be uploading some filler material totally awesome videos, which show off the music from Nancy Drew: Danger on Deception Island. Here are my two favorite songs of the game:

The jig:



The random cowboy song which does not belong in the game:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill - Concept Video

Here's an interesting video. It's one of the early designs for the first Nancy Drew game.



It looks like they cut the gym out of the final version of the game and added more hallways. Interesting...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Video Recording

Okay, so I tried more experimenting with video recording on my new computer.

#1. Recording things off of the TV is a no-go.  I'll probably have to wait a few years for the technology to catch up, so it.

And may I just say, darn.  I was kind of looking forward to a walkthrough for Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.  No more console games for me!

#2.  Recording things off of the computer kind of works.  Kind of.  Here are two videos I made.





The first comment I got on these videos was "New series! But... what happened to your microphone?" See, I told you the microphone sounds weird on this new computer.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two

I just got back from the midnight screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two.  Now that I've seen this movie, I figured out their strategy: overload the first movie with horrible material, so the second one looks really good in comparison.

Here are my notes from the movie.  Yes, I took notes, because otherwise I'd forget everything.
  • Everyone here in the movie theater is in high school.
  • The previews took forty to fifty minutes.  They even had previews for previews, if you can believe it.  The announcement went something like this: "Stay tuned, because after this preview for [product x], there's a preview for [product y]."
  • Lots of people had Harry Potter costumes. The only costume I have is my hobo costume, so I wore that one.
  • Two people in the audience were sporting San Francisco Giants gear.
  • One of the previews gave me an idea for a Japanese anime: a person drinks Coca Cola, and it is so magical that this person gets superpowers.  And he can fly.  I think that's what the preview was trying to say.
  • I don't think they've replaced the movie screens since I worked there in 2001.  You still get those random black circles which blot out certain parts of the screen at times.  I thought they would have HD-capable screens or something like that.
  • It was cool when Ollivander repeated, "The wand chooses the wizard."  They could have tried to make him look more like he did in the first movie, though.
  • I think it's overkill to have all the students marching in formation, like Nazis. I didn't like the Nazis in the Ministry of Magic in the first movie either.  All in all, it's too out of place to have Nazi references.
  • The dramatic showdown between Harry and Snape was weird.  It was cool, I guess.  But it was still weird and came out of nowhere.
  • I think they made a list of various things from the previous movies that they liked, which they wanted to put in this movie.  There were way too many random cameos of things (and characters) from previous movies, such as the bridge of indeterminate origin, the Cornish pixies, the acromantulas, the Nimbus 2001s, the...hey, why are all the cameos from the second movie?
  • I guess they couldn't get the actor who played Goyle in the previous movies, so now the big showdown with Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle is a showdown with Malfoy, Crabbe, and Random Black Guy.
  • They made it ridiculously obvious that Harry is a horcrux.  That sort of takes away from the big "Harry is a horcrux!" reveal at the end of the movie, I guess.
  • We have the boathouse of randomness, where Snape is killed.
  • Snape has magical tears now, apparently.
  • I liked the pensieve memory scenes, beacuse they forced the actor who plays Snape to actually do real acting for a change, instead of mumbling like a creeper in every single dang scene.
  • The reunion scene with the resurrection stone was boring.  The characters just stood still and looked at Harry most of the time.
  • Harry gives Voldemort the Hug of Death for no apparent reason.
  • Actually, I'm calling out a huge section of the ending sequence as filler.  Harry and Voldemort start off in the square.  Then, Harry breaks character by running away for a long time.  Then, he breaks character again by suddenly fighting Voldemort on the stairs and hugging him off of a tower.  And then finally, they end up right back where they started, in the square.  Cut that whole dang sequence out of the movie, and just have they stay in the square the whole time.  Besides, plotwise, it makes no sense for Harry to go after Voldemort while Nagini is still alive.
  • Towards the end, Bellatrix, Nagini and Voldemort all die by exploding/dissolving into pieces, as opposed to having realistic death scenes.  It seems unfair that our heroes receive realistic battle wounds, but they can't deal out realistic battle wounds.  I guess they just didn't want to make it seem like our heroes are murderers (even though they totally are).
  • The people in the theater seemed to like Bellatrix's death scene.  I thought it was underdone.  Mrs. Weasley could have been much more intense.
  • Older Harry, in the epilogue, looks like Uncle Jesse from Full House.  You know those scenes where Jesse wore glasses while writing things?  He looked like that.
I got too sleepy near the end of the movie to care much about what was going on. Maybe tomorrow, when I'm more awake, I can worry about things like the fact that the Carrows aren't really in the movie or the fact that the Grey Lady gets far too much screentime than she deserves, seeing as she really doesn't affect the plot that much.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Computer Stuff

I know everyone is concerned about my new computer being unable to do video recording.  I promise you guys, I will look into the matter.

...Later.

Right now, I'm still working on bringing my new computer up to speed in just about every department, not just video recording.  Pictures, music, video and documents...yeah, that's everything.

Updating my music files is a huge pain.  This is because my music files come from the ancient dinosaur times, before iTunes.  Back then, all of your music files were in one folder.  But now, computers want a separate folder for each album and artist.  I don't really feel like making 100 different folders and sorting music files into them, you know?

The other problem with music files is that playlists are unfriendly to me.  The computer's "auto playlist" function just throws all my music files together randomly.  Well, I don't want my Christmas music on my normal music playlist, because that'd be weird.  And I don't want my books on tape on any music playlists, either.  But the computer gets really uptight when I try to remove those music files.

As for picture files, Windows 7 will automatically use your pictures as background images on your computer.  I've been using the Webshots Desktop program to do this since 2003, and it's nice that this is now a standard feature.  The problem is that the new computer wants me to resize most of my pictures, because otherwise, it's going to zoom in on them, to an uncomfortable degree.

On a positive note, I found some lost "Pug's Adventures" cartoons in my pictures folders!  I'll post them up here later.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

June Newsletter Bonanza

The good Nancy Drew folks released three newsletters last month, all of them about Nancy Drew: The Captive CurseOne was written at the start of the month, one was written during the pre-ordering period, and one was written after the game's release.

And speaking of promoting Nancy Drew: The Captive Curse, check out the latest video from the Nancy Drew people:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Video Recording

...I'm not sure if I can do video recording on my new computer.

I've been experimenting with it.  The new computer is loads faster than my old one.  It's basically perfect for video recording, because it can process a five minute video in twenty seconds. No more huge waiting periods in between recording sessions!

The problem is with the microphone.  It makes me sound like I'm talking through my nose, from five yards away.

On my old laptop, the microphone was near the hinges of the lid.  That is, they were directly above the keyboard. That way, I could talk normally while using the computer, and it would sound okay. On this new laptop, the microphone is underneath the keyboard.  I have to literally talk at the keys to catch this microphone's attention.

It's weird.

I know there are some other options, such as record all the commentary on my old laptop, which would be a major pain.  Another option is to use an external microphone, which isn't the best idea because those make my voice sound weird, too.

I'll keep looking into this issue, but for now, it's looking like I'm going to have to take an early retirement from making videos.  Surprisingly, this possibility doesn't bother me as much as I expected.

Monday, July 11, 2011

High School Musical Story

When I switched computers recently, I found this story that I wrote about two years ago.  The story is basically me making fun of the High School Musical series.  In particular, I wanted to explore the backstory of Weird Piano Girl, who is constantly writing songs for the other characters, even though none of them really like her.

---

"Troy!  Gabriella!" Kelsi said, bouncing up and down on her heels while waving around a few pieces of paper.  "I wrote another love song for you!"
"That's great, Kelsi," Gabriella said.  "Thanks!"

"It's called Long Lasting Love, and it's the perfect song for you!" Kelsi gushed.  "Your relationship is so beautiful and perfect and...and...IT'S THE GREATEST THING I'VE EVER SEEN!  AH!!!"
Gabriella glanced at the music for the song.  She only looked at it for two seconds, but that's all the time she needs in order to memorize a song.

"Ohhhhhh...." she sang.
"Ohhhhhhhh..." Troy sang along, harmonizing perfectly with her.

"Ohhhhh..."
"Ohh ohhh ohhhhhhhh..."

"Ohhhhh!!" Gabriella sang, hitting a very high note.
"Ohhhhhh..." Troy sang, sounding oddly computer-generated.

Our love is forever
Our love is long-lasting
Our love is better
Than vanilla ice cream
"Va-NILLLLLLLL---AAAA!" Troy sang.

"Vaniiiiiiiiiiiiiii---
"Iiiiiiiiice cream!"

You set my heart on fire like you lit it with a match
And speaking of match, we're the perfect match
Oh, it's so great!  I have to sing!
Because our love is long lasting!
Troy and Gabriella started dancing down the halls without looking where they were going.  Of course, they didn't run into anyone.  In fact, everyone started dancing along.

Long lasting!  Our love is long lasting!
Long lasting!  Long lasting love!
Long lasting!  Our love is long lasting!
Long lasting!  Long lasting love!
No, it's not short!
Troy plays basketball on the basketball court!
Gabriella likes to, um, do whatever it is she likes to do!
Cheese is delicious!


The lyrics sort of broke down at that point, but nobody noticed.
Oh, the sky is blue
And ponies are pretty!
Go Wildcats!  Wildcats are the best!
We won the championship, and we mention it all the time!
Cheese is still delicious!


Long lasting!  Our love is long lasting!
Long lasting!  Long lasting love!
Long lasting!  Our love is long lasting!
Long lasting!  Long lasting love!
The entire school started clapping and singing along.

Long lasting!  Our love is long lasting!
Long lasting!  Long lasting love!
Long lasting!  Our love is long lasting!
Long lasting!  Long lasting love!
"Loooooooooooooove!!!" Troy sang.

"Loooo-ooove," Gabriella sang, and the song ended.

"OH MY GOSH, THAT WAS THE COOLEST SONG EVER!!!" Kelsi shouted.  "THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SINGING IT!  I'M SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW!"

"No, thank you for writing it for us!" Troy said, graciously.
Kelsi screamed in excitement and ran away to update her Facebook.  Her two friends deserved to know about this life-changing event.
"Kelsi writes such great songs for us," Gabriella said happily.

Troy didn't say anything.  He was thinking (something he didn't do often).
"So, um, that's like...the ninth song that Kelsi has written for us," Troy said.

"Fourteenth," Gabriella said.
"Right," Troy said, scratching his head.  "Why does she do that?"

"What do you mean?" asked Chad, Troy's best bud.  Chad and Troy were such good buds that Chad could interrupt his conversations at any time.
"Why does she write songs for us?" Troy asked.
"She's just trying to help out your relationship!" Chad said.

"But...we barely know her," Troy said.
"Helping each other out is what the Wildcats do!" Chad said.  "We're all in this together!"

Of course, as soon as Chad said those magic words, the marching band suddenly ran in and started playing.  Everyone sang We're All in This Together.  Troy was actually getting a little tired of that song—this was the fifth time they performed it in two days—but he danced along to the music anyway because, well, the Wildcats are all in this together.
"No, seriously!" Troy said.  "Do any of you guys know her?"

The Wildcats all started talking at once, saying things like "I do!", "She plays awesome piano music!" and "She writes those love songs!"

"Okay," Troy said.  "What's her last name?"
Everyone fell silent.

"Smith?" Jason guessed.

"See?" Troy said.  "Nobody knows anything about her, besides for the fact that she writes a new love song for me and Gabriella every week!  I don't know why she does that!  It's kinda...weird."

Normally, Troy would have sung one of his trademark angsty songs—you know, the kind he always sings when he's confused about something, whether it's his relationship with Gabriella, his relationship with Gabriella, or his relationship with Gabriella.  But this time, Troy couldn't sing an angsty song, because Kelsi wrote all his songs for him.
Why does she write all those songs for us when we don't even know who she is? Troy wondered.
Running a hand through his perfectly-combed hair, Troy decided he would have to find out more about the mysterious piano girl.
---

When Kelsi left school that day, she had no idea she was being followed by the captain of the basketball team.
----
The story kind of ends there, probably because I couldn't think of a good reason to explain why Weird Piano Girl constantly writes music for people who don't really like her.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

New Computer

I am writing this blog post on my brand new laptop computer. It's both good and bad to have a new computer.  It's good because it's bigger and better and fancier.  It's bad because I have to reload everything onto the new computer, and get unpleasant surprises when the old programs don't work on the new system.

My video recording equipment apparently doesn't work on the new computer. I'm going to try again later, but I'm not going to be surprised to learn that--now that I have a computer which has a lot of memory for recording projects--I won't be able to record anything.  I'll give you an update on this situation later.

Other victims of the computer transfer include my pictures, which have to be completely resorted and renamed.  Every single one of them.  Thank you, technology.  Also, all the save files for my computer games didn't transfer over.  Now, for each game, I have to ask, "Do I really want to start this game over from the beginning again, or should I just give up on it?"

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Mario Teaches Typing

Here's a short video walkthrough for Mario Teaches Typing. It may not be the most exciting game ever, but I wanted to see what the ending was like, so I decided to play it.







Friday, July 8, 2011

Professor Layton and the Weird Game Title

For two years now, everyone in the English-speaking world has called the fourth Professor Layton game Professor Layton and the Specter's Flute.  That's what the Japanese title is, anyway.

The Professor Layton people announced last month that they are releasing this game, under the title Professor Layton and the Last Specter, because they want to confuse all their fans.  However, this month, they just announced that this game will be released as Professor Layton and the Spectre's Call in the UK.

They did the same sort of thing with the second game, Professor Layton and the Devil's Box, which was retitled Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box and Professor Layton and Pandora's Box.  Anyone who's played the game will tell you that all three of those titles have nothing to do with the game at all.  In the game, it's actually called the Elysian Box.

In conclusion, the titles for the Layton series are weird, and it would be easier if all the games had only one title.

Meanwhile, the only game in the series which desperately needs a new title, Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle, has not yet been changed.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure - Review

I finally got a chance to see Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure, the spin-off to the High School Musical series.  This movie is every bit as bad as I thought it would be, so if you like watching really bad movies, you're for a treat.

The plot is that Sharpay was the main villain in the High School Musical series. For some reason, now she's a hero. She's the same selfish jerk she's always been, but now you're supposed to be rooting for her instead of booing her. Everyone got that?

Sharpay has gone to New York City to star in a Broadway musical. However, due to a comic mishap, it turns out that her DOG got the role in the musical, not her. Sharpay spends about forty minutes arguing with her romantic interest, the minor antagonist and the main antagonist. Eventually, she ends up starring in the Broadway musical, it becomes a hit show, and she lives happily ever after.

They tried to make it a good plot, kind of. Okay, not really. The problem is that the two villains of this movie are generic Disney channel villains and so is Sharpay. So basically, she's going up against villains who act exactly the same way she does. It doesn't really work that well.

The music in this movie was sub-par. The problem is that that all the songs are Sharpay, singing solo. She sounds better when she has back-up singers, or when she's in a duet. I'm sorry, but she can't carry off four songs all by herself. The best song of the movie ended up being the one where she didn't sing.

Actually, let me talk more about the best song of the movie. It comes from the scene where the two dogs fall in love, to the tune of Justin Bieber's "Baby". And no, I'm not making that up. That was actually a scene in the movie. Watch it yourself if you don't believe me:



...And that was probably one of the better scenes of the movie. Yikes.

All in all, I give the movie a two out of ten. Maybe a one out of ten. There are only a few moments where the movie is actually entertaining. The sparse entertainment comes from random secondary characters; none of it comes from the main character. She tried, but she's just not that interesting or developed of a character.

Maybe one of the entertaining secondary characters will get their own spinoff, and then we'll have a spinoff of a spinoff. I wouldn't mind that.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is the third game in the Castlevania GBA series to have a title which has nothing at all to do with the game itself. A more accurate title might be Castlevania: In the Future!, because this game takes place in the far-off year 2035.

Right off the bat--vampire bat, that is--let me say that I do not like this game.

Maybe it's a good thing that they only made three Castlevania games for the GBA.  The three games are so similar that a fourth game would really be pushing it.  Really, all that distinguishes one game from another is the attack system.

Oh, the attack system in this game.

They tried to combine the cool DSS magic system from the first game with the subweapon system from the second game.  What they ended up with is a horrible mess that takes the worst from both systems and jams them together.  Specifically, they combine these two elements:

  1. You have a large array of special weapons, all of which are practically useless (in order to prevent one weapon from being better than another).
  2. The enemies in this game drop the special weapons items at a rate which I like to call the Presidential Election: one every four years.
So basically, you have to kill the same enemy over and over again, for ten or so minutes, in order to get its weapon.  Then, you learn that the weapon is completely useless.  And you're expected to do this with every enemy, because each one has a special weapon/ability.


Please note that everyone else who played this game is in love with the special weapons/abilities system, and they act like it is the greatest idea ever.  I found that it impeded gameplay, instead of furthering it.  But everyone else thought it was great.


This game also tries to differentiate itself from its predecessors by having an actual plotline.  Key word: tries.  The main problem is that there are too many characters in this game to keep track of, especially because you only see a character once every hour and a half or so.   I had a hard time figuring out what was going on, because every time the game revealed a crazy plot twist, like "Graham Jones is actually working for Dracula!", my response was "Oh no!  Wait...who is Graham Jones again?"


That's not to say that there aren't positive aspects to this game.  It's bigger than the previous game. They did a good job of revamping the boss battles, even though I don't think that was entirely necessary.  The store system was better, and they tried to cut down on the amount of backtracking you're forced to do.


It's just...I could never really get into this game. I always lose my will to play when I reach the large waterfall areas.  I know everyone loves this game, and it was re-released twice, and it's the only GBA Castlevania game that got a sequel, but still.  For whatever reason, I don't like it as much as everyone else does, and I certainly don't like it as much as the other two GBA Castlevania games.


So I guess, for me, it's a good thing that the GBA Castlevania series ended here.  Not that this series on the Castlevania handheld games is going to end here!  We've still got three DS games to talk about!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The DC Zoo

The day after the wedding in Washington DC, there was a trip to the National Zoo.  Most people don't celebrate their weddings with trips to the zoo, but Paul had a very good reason for inviting everyone to the National Zoo:

They have free admission.

Everyone else took the metro, but I rode there with Paul, Lizo, Nathaniel and my mother. It was an enjoyable car ride, but when we got to the zoo itself, we found out that they had no parking available.

So...we kind of had to park about a mile and a half away.  We got there to the zoo after everyone else did, because they were all smart and took the Metro (which has a stop at the national zoo).  I had a minor case of heat exhaustion during the walk, and everyone else was confused to see that I was panting like crazy when my mother was doing just fine.

The national zoo was pretty awesome.  The crowd favorites are the pandas, which were a gift to the United States from China.  One panda was sitting down the whole time, eating a protein shake (or something like that).  The other panda was in the back, hiding behind some trees.  Everyone liked the first panda the best.

My favorite animals at the zoo were the lions.  I actually filmed a short video of the young lions, ready to pounce on some unsuspecting ducks:




The zoo trip was good, but it was also a little sad, because I had to say goodbye to Paul and my other east coast friends.  Also, the San Jose Sharks lost a playoff game that night, because they always lose when they're in the playoffs.  But still, it was a very nice day.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

Have a happy Fourth of July, everyone! I've got two videos for you to enjoy. First, there's a video of me demonstrating the DS game Super Princess Peach.  It's a strange game, where your goal is to manipulate the Princess' hormones in order to save the world.



Second, here's a video of someone playing the Super Mario Bros. 2 theme song.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The 3DS

Good news!  I finally got a chance to play the 3DS and see how it works.

Specifically, I went to a Best Buy, which had a demo 3DS for people to test out. The 3DS was about three feet off the ground, so I had to kneel on the ground to get close to it, then hunch over so I could see the screen.  Something tells me that's not the normal body posture used to play the 3DS.

The game that the system was playing was Dead or Alive: Dimensions.  It's a fighting game, and it must be the easiest fighting game ever, because I won every round, even though I had no idea what any of the buttons did.

So, what is the 3D in the 3DS like?

It's like the lenticular picture on the cover on the Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask cartridge.  You know, those pictures where you turn the piece of paper, and the picture changes?  And sometimes those pictures will kinda look like they're in 3D, with the picture coming out at you?  Only the effect is totally spoiled because you can sometimes you see the after image.

That's what the 3DS 3D looks like.  It's apparently the exact same 3D technology as those pictures, which works based off using two pictures.  They call it "stereoscopic".


The 3D effect works okay.  Dead or Alive is not a good example of a 3D game, because it's a 2D fighter.  What makes it 3D is that the fighters, fighting in 2D in the foreground, are about a centimeter closer to you than the non-moving background.  The characters never moved closer or farther away from the screen or the background.  So, the game basically just ignored the fact that the graphics had depth.

The other 3D effect was the "you just won the fight" text.  That didn't work so well, because the after image was blatantly obvious, and the effect was totally ruined.  Is "after image" the right term?  In any case, you could see the text on the background of the screen and the popped-out version of the screen at the same time.  It didn't work to have both at the same time.


All in all, I'm not really sold on the 3D effect.  I'm sure it could be interesting, but since it's only about a centimeter long, I don't really see how it could majorly affect gameplay. With Dead or Alive, there is basically no difference between 3D and 2D mode, but like I said, the game is a 2D fighter, so it's not the best game to judge things by.  Maybe I'll wait for a Super Mario 3DS demo.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Captive Curse - Deaths Video

By popular request, here is the video of all the death sequences in Nancy Drew: The Captive Curse.



My next video walkthrough, which I just recorded last night, is the 1992 educational game, Mario Teaches Typing. This is probably the only Mario game which discusses Pearl Harbor at length, and I think the one person who requested this video walkthrough is going to be really happy with it.

Friday, July 1, 2011

British Logic Puzzles

They publish a magazine of British Logic Puzzles here in America.  Basically, they take puzzles from British logic magazines and copy/paste them into a collection for resale here.

The American British Logic Puzzles magazine, oddly enough, is printed in Canada.  I think that makes it the Canadian American British Logic Puzzles magazine.

The puzzles aren't edited in any way, so you'll see a lot of British spelling and words.  Fortunately, the magazine comes with a small English-American glossary, which lets you know things like "a rank is a place where taxis wait for passangers".

Here are the elements of British logic puzzles that stood out to me when I solved some recently:
  • British logic puzzles are more apt to have horrible puns.
  • They are much easier than American logic puzzles.  I suspect that this is because they don't reprint the harder puzzles in these collections.
  • They have illustrations for most of the puzzles.  A good deal of the puzzles involve the pictures in figuring out the puzzle solutions.
  • All the British puzzles are 3-by-3 crosshatches, besides the picture puzzles.
Professor Layton was not featured anywhere in the magazine.  Or as the British call him, "Professour Laytonne".