Saturday, January 31, 2009

My Disposable Income: January 2009

Well, the first month of the new year has already gone by, and actually, a good deal quicker than I might have expected. Anyway you know what the end of the month on a fledgling blog means: Time for me to try out a monthly-ish feature and see if I like doing it enough to write it on a regular basis! Yay for experimentation!

The premise this time is pretty simple: I buy stuff sometimes! This generally happens at least once a month, and is probably the only perk of having a full-time job I can think of. I figure maybe it'll be neat to keep track of the things I purchase over time, whether they be awesome movies and games or dumb impulse purchases. That way I get to touch on some of the stuff I buy that maybe I wouldn't normally write a full article on.

So let's go, Cheerios! Here's what I got this month.

The Powerpuff Girls: The Complete Series

So, first, fun fact that I love sharing: Did you know that when the show's creator, Craig McCracken, pitched Powerpuff Girls to Cartoon Network, they were originally called The Whoopass Girls, and they were created by Professor Utonium accidentally dropping a can of Whoop Ass into his concoction? Cartoon Network obviously made him change the name since it wasn't exactly kid friendly. Still, best origin story ever!

Anyways, yes, this has probably been the gayest purchase I have ever made, but you know what? Despite the audience it was marketed to, I remembered it being a fantastic cartoon when I watched it ten years ago. I'm also a pretty big buff on animated stuff in general, and on top of that I was feeling a little nostalgic when I saw it on sale, so it ended up becoming pretty much a must buy. Even then, though, it seemed like kind of a risky purchase. What if it wasn't as funny, clever, and well written as I remember it being? What if it was just this girly kids' cartoon that my 12 year old self put up with because he was a sucker for anything that included superpowers?

Well I've watched a good half of the series now, and I don't regret the purchase one bit for the first two seasons alone, cause they're amazing. Nearly every episode in seasons 1 and 2 on the set is a classic. There's too many highlights there to list, but if I had to choose a few favorites I'd probably pick:

Telephonies: The Gangrene Gang get a hold of the Powerpuff Hotline Phone and use it to make prank calls. This episode is one of the best examples of the show's great sense of humor.

Something's A Ms.: A villainess kidnaps the Mayor's assistant, takes her place, and seduces the Mayor so he doesn't notice her robbing the city blind. There are like five billion dirty jokes in this one, I can't believe Craig McCracken got away with half of them.

The Powerpuff Girls Best Rainy Day Adventure Ever: It's a rainy day so the Powerpuff Girls play a pretend game of... Powerpuff Girls. This episode is just plain adorable and a lot of fun.

And that's just a small fraction of what I love about the show. Unfortunately, I haven't even finished the series yet and it already seems to be going downhill. Season 3 is really quirky and weird, and although there's some fun episodes it's not as filled with classics as the first two seasons. Then the downward slope becomes a bit steeper with Season 4. The animation is cleaned up a bit, but it also becomes a bit more streamlined and not as charming. Plus the entire season is exclusively half-hour long plotlines, instead of two fifteen minute episodes at a time. The series generally suffers from this, as the stories become less fast paced and there's a lot more awkwardly timed moments. The newer episodes aren't necessarily bad, they just seem to have lost what made older episodes amazing On the other hand, I'm only halfway through Season 4, so maybe things change for the better? I guess I'll see!

The DVD set itself is fantastic and packed with extras, by the way. All of the original "Whoopass Girls" pilot episodes are in here, as well as the "What A Cartoon Show" shorts, an episode that was never aired in the US called "See Me, Feel Me, Gnomey, a brand new special episode made for the show's 10th Anniversary, and a buttload of other stuff. Definitely worth a purchase for any PPG fan, whether the show eventually declines or not.

The Powerpuff Girls Movie

I bought this to make my PPG Collection a truly complete one. However, the movie didn't come out until after the fourth season, and I'm watching the series in chronological order, so I actually haven't watched the movie yet.

So how about another random fact: The underpants I'm wearing right now have drawings of a dog roasting marshmallows. The dog is wearing sunglasses!

Time Hollow

This is an adventure game for the DS that came out recently. It's been on my radar for a while, and after finding out that the game is now out of print, I snagged a new copy from a retailer on Amazon immediately, while it was still relatively cheap.

The main jist of the storyline is that the protagonist's parents have disappeared, and have apparently left him a magical pen that gives him time traveling powers. So throughout the game, you use the pen (or should I say your Nintendo DS stylus? Boy that sure was clever and not lame Konami!) to draw portals in areas that you've been having context-sensitive flashbacks about. And you use those portals to try and change the past back to normal, and also solve the mystery of why your parents are missing. The game has a lot in common with that movie The Butterfly Effect, except Ashton Kutcher isn't in it, so it's actually good.

I've already blasted through a pretty big chunk of the game, and it has a flaw or two, the most blatant being that point-and-click adventures are just becoming an awfully archaic and limited genre despite how much I loved them when I was younger, but I'm still enjoying myself a good deal. What's weird is that I've only been playing the game a few hours and it already feels like I'm reaching the climax of the story. Hopefully this adventure isn't as short as it feels, because I'm enjoying the characters and puzzles being thrown at me and am definitely up for more.

Xbox 360 120GB Hard Drive

So I've been loving my 360 a lot, but lately there's been one glaring problem: I never had any freaking space on the thing! Whenever I wanted to download a new game demo or video of something that became available on the system's fantastic online service, I usually had to delete something that was already on my measly 20GB hard drive. If you guys recall, I've been having a similar problem with my Wii's storage space for roughly the past year now. Of course, there's one pretty big difference between the 360 and the Wii in this regard: The 360 actually has a solution to the storage problem. A bit more expensive of a solution than I'd like, but I use my 360 pretty much all the time so I'd say it was a pretty solid investment.

So yeah, I bought the new hard drive this week, and it came with everything I needed to transfer all the stuff on my 20GB over to the 120GB quickly and easily, which is an awesome bit of customer service I wasn't expecting. Aaand... now I have 100 gigs of free space on my Xbox! Hooray! To celebrate, I ordered one last thing for the month off of Amazon:

Final Fantasy XI: Vana'diel Collection 2008

So I've wanted to play an MMO for quite a while, but as I've mentioned before, my computer sucks balls. So pretty much just last week I find out that FFXI isn't just available for the PC and PS2, it's a 360 game as well, and it's cross compatible with all the other versions! Add those facts to my brand new hard drive, my fondness of the Final Fantasy series in general, and the fact that I could get the game and every existing expansion pack for a total of 20 bucks off of Amazon, and we have ourselves a winner!

I haven't started playing it yet, since it's being shipped to me as I type this, and I'll probably have it this coming Monday or Tuesday. The first month within me starting an account is free, so I'll have that much time to figure out if I like it enough to pay for it on a monthly basis. And if I do, maybe you'll see me talk about it in a future Disposable Income installment.

Anyways, that's all the crap I bought this month! Next month: More crap? Read more!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sega's Teaser Site: What Could Have Been

After the massive overflow of gaming blockbusters that occurs in the last two months of the year, January unsurprisingly begins what is kind of a drought of video game releases. Maybe two or three notable games are coming out before March, which would usually leave a lot of people with gaming as a hobby twiddling their thumbs.

The good part of this timeframe is that a lot of game companies tend to fill in this gap with gaming news. They might announce new games or expand on previous announcements. The new announcements are never super big since those are usually saved for super big events like E3 or the Tokyo Game Show, but a lot of the time it's still something that's worth looking forward to. And every now and then, it is a big announcement. Which is why teaser sites with mysterious countdowns, promising a new game reveal when it ends, can be so exciting.

For those of you who have trouble catching on, Sega did this recently.

On January 13th, a very barebones website from Sega hit the World Wide Internets, sporting nothing but the image below:

There was a lot of speculation on this image, and my own initial thoughts were something along the lines of "A Mario mushroom with Sonic colors? Oh DUDE we're getting an actual for reals crossover(Mario and Sonic at the Olympics didn't count)!" Don't ask me how I manage to speak in parentheses, it's a very special talent.

And as time passed, new additions to the site seemed to support my theory. Eventually the mushroom would grow big and flash red if you held your mouse over it, clicking on it would produce a sound very familiar to the Mario 1up tune, and clicking on another voice would make a voice say "Ohh, mushrooms! Mushrooms have a reputation, right?" in Japanese. Really that last one is more proof that Japan people say things funny than it is anything else, but I was still getting pretty excited.

Then finally the 26th rolled around and we got this:

Pole's Big Adventure, an 8-bit platformer for WiiWare that parodies other 8-bit games, with the most focus on making fun of Mario titles. The mushroom featured is one of the powerups, which makes you bigger and bigger until you become too big to fit on the screen and you die. Other little jokes like this occur, like going down a pipe will just make you re-emerge covered in oil, and a cactus that looks like a regular background graphic just might decapitate Pole if he tries to walk past it, resulting in little pixelly blood splatters on the screen.

And actually, that actually sounds like it'd be pretty enjoyable stuff. I'd probably buy it if it came out in the States, especially if it's only 5 bucks when it comes out like it will be in Japan. But it still has me asking myself, where the hell is my freaking epic action-platformer where Sonic and Mario team up and there's awesome fanservice for both groups and Sonic doesn't turn into a werewolf or make out with human girls? I mean, back when Mario and Sonic at the Olympics was announced, its developers were saying that this was just the first step. If their first crossover attempt was successful, then more might follow. And after the game came out it proceeded to sell ten million freaking copies worldwide. So what's the big deal?

The only explanation I can think of is that last time a Sega representative had a talk with Satoru Iwata, the president of Nintendo, about the subject, the conversation must have went something like this:

Satoru Iwata: Hm. Our sales of Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games are adequate, but not as good as our previous big Mario games. They could be selling even better.
Sega Representative: Heh, what if we made the next one an actual game? Hahaha!
Iwata: (icy glare)
Sega Rep: Haha...ha...ha?
Iwata: (icy glare)
Sega Rep: Oh god.. I- I'm sorry sir, I was only kid-
Iwata: (icy glare)
Sega Rep: I didn't mean to... to...
Iwata: (icy glare)
Sega Rep: OH COME ON! Sega has been nothing but good to you for the past five freaking years! We're making a Phantasy Star MMO exclusively for your handhelds? We're giving you MadWorld! You know, the title we'll probably lose money on due to poor sales, but we're making anyway just to support your system's low amount of hardcore titles? And we'd make more! We could make a fantastic one, if only you'd let us-
Iwata: (icy glare)
Sega Rep: S-sir... I am so, so sorry. I don't know what came over me.
Iwata: (icy glare)
Sega Rep: Please sir... if there's anything I could do to make it up to you..
Iwata: (suggestive smile)
Sega Rep: T-that!? Again? ... but it hasn't even been half an hour since the last-
Iwata: (icy glare)
Sega Rep: OKAY OKAY! Okay! I'll do it!
Sega Rep gets on his knees. Iwata unzips his business pants.
Iwata: :)

And in the end Sega Rep didn't even do a very good job, so he was permitted to only be allowed to make a regular game that made vague references to Mario. The business world is so cold and harsh!

So in conclusion, that story was 100% factual and I hope Sega hires someone who is better at blowjobs so we can finally get a good crossover game.

See you guys next week!
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Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Christmas Haul 2008

I'm almost done talking about last year, but before that I figured I'd focus on a particularly awesome part of 2008: Christmas!

Pretty much every present I got this year had the theme of "Man Daniel you are a freaking nerd, here is a present reflecting that." I didn't get any practical gifts or old socks or anything! This is pretty great. So I figured I'd make a post detailing the gifts I got at the end of last year, and why they all rule. You also get to see actual pictures of them because I'm a showoff like that.

Magical gifty goodness after the jump!


Freakazoid Season 1

Now not many people know this, but Freakazoid is one of the best cartoons ever. This has been proven by SCIENCE, and also by having storylines involving Freakazoid drawing a face on his right hand, then drawing a girl face on his left hand, and having them make out. In most cartoons this would be a ten second gag. In Freakazoid it happens for five minutes. I think that's actually one of the show's extraordinary abilities. It has the talent of dragging out a joke until it's no longer funny, and then for some reason dragging it out longer than that, and suddenly this dumb joke is elaborated on for SO UNFATHOMABLY LONG that suddenly it is HILARIOUS again. This unorthodox formula has made me curl up into the fetal position from laughing so hard that it hurt to breathe, more than once.

And that one type of gag is not all there is to it. It's just crazy silly and random and very funny things happen on a regular basis. It's weird, cause initially it was going to be a straight up superhero action comic headed by Bruce Timm, the guy responsible for the oldschool Batman animated series. But apparently after the hero was designed, Steven Spielberg was like "Hey make this funny!" and the designers were like "Okay" and Bruce Timm was like "WHAT" and then it became a completely different show. I think this was a great decision because the old idea would have been pretty generic and unmemorable, the show that actually happened is one of the most unique and entertaining things I've seen pretty much ever.

Whenever you watch it and go "What the FUCK is happening", and this WILL happen at least once per episode, the show has succeeded in its goal. Freakazoid is basically trying to make your brain cry in confusion, and it frequently succeeds, and that is why I love this show so much. My buddy Max got me this for Christmas and it was an excellent gift. Thanks, buddy!

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

Dr. Horrible is sort of like TV Geek porn. It's a musical about superheroes made by Joss Motherfucking Firefly Whedon, and starring Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion. See if you haven't already creamed your pants reading that then what are you doing on my website, I don't want to talk to you anymore, go away. Haha, I'm kidding! No, seriously! Wait! I'm sorry! Come baaack!

Those of you in the know might be going "What, Daniel, you can watch this for free on the internet. In this case you can actually LEGALLY watch this for free on the internet, what do you need a DVD for", and for one thing, my computer is terrible. It is seriously pretty awful for any purpose besides basic internet browsing purposes. It can barely stream video half the time, which is why in most cases I'd rather not bother and get whatever I want to watch in a format where I can easily watch it on my Xbox 360, which is also my DVD player. And even if that wasn't the case, the extras are pretty neat!

There's a commentary track called "Commentary! The Musical" and it is basically ANOTHER musical that you get to watch, or uh, listen to I guess. It's pretty amusing, it could have been better if the cast and crew spent more time singing about the movie they were watching instead of singing about themselves... oh wait, I guess it's an authentic DVD commentary experience after all! Also, fan-made videos from people trying to get into the Evil League of Evil. There's some pretty clever and funny stuff there, even though there are a couple that make you go "What seriously why did this get included, I want to die right now, I am watching this and it makes me want to die." Overall though, awesome gift.

Superman T-shirt

Dude isn't that awesome? He's heating up a TV dinner with his heat vision because he broke his microwave! That is adorable and hilarious. I have already worn it like twelve times. Yes, EXACTLY TWELVE I COUNT HOW MANY TIMES I WEAR SHIRTS

A Shitload of Capsules That Turn Into Foam Animals And Stuff When You Put Them In Water

Alright, this one probably requires a bit of backstory.

A lot of the time when I go shopping, I have a tendency to make dumb little impulse purchases. I know right, who saw THAT one coming? So one time my little sister Lindsay and I are going grocery shopping, or rather she was getting groceries and I was getting Oreo Cakesters, and I see a "Mystery Egg" that would emerge as a Duck or Dragon or something after being submerged in water for a few days. I get it and I got something lame like a snake, but that is irrelevant you can ignore that part.

Anyway, the season of giving rolls around and Lindsay asks me what I want for Christmas. I tell her "Get me something that's either awesome or hilarious, otherwise surprise me!", and well, mission accomplished, because I wasn't expecting this:

A bunch of dunk-em-in-water-and-out-comes-a-thing capsules! Like, a ridiculous amount of them!

It was a very silly and thoughtful gift, and I plan on dunking them all into a full bathtub at the same time and surprising her with it, so I hope she doesn't read this blog.

Naruto: The Broken Bond

So, I'm not really a Naruto fan. I read a bit of the manga back when I still subscribed to Shonen Jump, but other than that I've paid zero attention to the series other than vaguely hearing about the story skipping two years into the future or something. So it was kind of neat that my Dad bought this game for me, since I never would have bought it on my own, and it turned out to be not that bad a game.

The battles in this game use are basically straight up fighting game, and it's really neat. The fights are always pretty fun and chaotic, and although it already seems like the character roster is insanely unbalanced, the fighting is almost as fun to watch as it is to play. Basically really solid Japanese fighting game, right up there on the pointless-but-fun scale with the Dragon Ball Z Budokai series, which I have an unhealthy addiction to.

The single player portion, however, splits up the fighting with an action-adventure game format where you traverse the woods and whatnot in 3D, and that's not so well executed. It could have been, and gets some things right like solving puzzles with the characters' various special powers, too bad 90% of the missions are fetch quests. I did have fun with it, though, and sometimes Naruto turds himself when he fails a special move so BEST GAME EVER.

Rogue Galaxy

This was actually a pretty genius gift idea from my friend Sean. See, I've been crazy behind the times, since I didn't have a PS2 until just last month. I'd wanted one for quite a while, but I never actually buckled down and bought one until this last December. So I had a LOT of old PS2 games to catch up on, obviously. On top of that, Level-5 is one of my favorite game developers ever, since everything they develop (this includes Dragon Quest VIII and the Dark Cloud series) is a frigging blast to play. So this is a game that I've wanted to play for a while, and now I finally could.

And... it's a lot of fun. The gameplay basically has every feature that I love in an Action JRPG. The battle system kicked ass, fusing items is always pretty neat, and there's great little touches like your character model actually looking different depending on what item s/he has equipped. Unfortunately, I think Sony of America has some sort of rule within their localization team that goes something like this: "Before hiring voice actors and writing the dialogue, everyone on the team must fall head first down a flight of stairs. Twice."

This game takes place in the distant future, in the far reaches of space. So why does the Space Ram thing have a frigging scottish accent!? On top of that, why is there then a tribe of jungle amazons with no accent at all!?!? I had to stop playing for a while due to the controller shaped dent in my forehead. It's a shame that such a brilliantly designed game had to be muddled up by so much retard. Still, my complaints regarding the game are definitely far outweighed by the amount of fun I've had with it so far.


First off: You're welcome, ladies!

So yeah, my mom got me an iPhone for Christmas, and it's what I used to take all these pictures. And it's really great! It has been my dream since age 12 to carry the internet around with me in my pants, and now I can finally do that almost 10 years later. It really is so dang awesome.

I guess that also means that my statement about getting no practical gifts isn't really true, since this is hella practical, but I've been having a lot of fun with it as well. I've already sampled a bunch of the system's various games, and while the vast majority of them are underwhelming so far, they've already got support from a few big game companies like Konami, Hudson, and Square-Enix, so I can't wait for the real games to start flowing in once they figure out the system's strengths and weaknesses as a gaming platform. I'm sure it'll happen, since that same learning process took place for the Nintendo DS, and it's taking place right now for the Wii.

The iPhone has also made me discover a love for podcasts I didn't know I had, and it also increased my addiction to things like Facebook and Wikipedia thanks to having dedicated iPhone apps for those things. It's really a blessing and a curse since now everytime I go to the bathroom I'm there for like half an hour. I mean, everything I need is right there! An internet for internetting, and a toilet for pooping! Move a fridge in there and that's where I could LIVE.

Overall, I enjoyed every single gift I got. I got a fantastic Christmas Haul in 2008, and it's helped me start my 2009 off fantastically.

Merry Middle of January, everybody!
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Catching Up: The Best of 2008

Happy 2009, everyone!

So 2008 has come and gone, and a whole lot of great stuff has happened. In fact, so much great stuff happened that I was off doing all of it and therefore was totally unable to update this blog! Oh boy a whole lot of great stuff! It was so great!



Okay, that was a lie.

What actually happened was a whole lot of me being lazy.

...In other words, 2008 was just like every other year.

But hey, a new year means a fresh start, so maybe I can start paying more attention to this website. Freshly. Like I've said before, I really do want to start updating this blog on a regular basis. The beginning of a new year seems like a good opportunity to make that wish a reality, so that's what I'm going to try and make happen. Anyways, I think the best way to start off what will hopefully be a whole bunch of 2009 updates is to get 2008 out of the way. Cause you know what, a whole lot of great stuff did happen last year in the world of Things I Like To Waste My Time On, and I want to write about them.

So without further ado, here's AtA's Best of 2008: A list of the past year's highlights!


Nedroid Comics

Nedroid is one of the webcomics that I just discovered this year. Actually, that would be slightly inaccurate. I was made aware of the comic sometime last year when I was linked to the creator's 200 Bad Comics project, which I think is pretty self explanatory from the name, and oh man it was wonderful and hilarious. So I looked at his other past comics a bit, most of them cute little shorts starring Beartato (the ingenious combination of a bear and a potato) and his friends. And those galleries were all great, clever stuff. At that point my attention span turned me elsewhere and it wasn't till a year later that I found out that the author, Anthony Clark, was still making comics regularly. I have been checking them out since and so many of them are pure freaking gold. On top of that he's a really good artist, and he does really awesome collaborative work with other internet pseudo-celebrities like Emmy Cicierega.

I'm glad I rediscovered this little gem, because 2009 is already looking like it's going to be a great year for the comic.

Daisy Owl

Here's another comic I just got into recently. It just started being made this year, and even this early on it is really awesome and promising. The art, while simplistic, fits the feel of the comic perfectly, which is kind of like a modern Calvin and Hobbes, except Calvin is a girl, and Hobbes is her little brother, and their dad is a talking owl with a bear for a best friend, and okay it isn't like Calvin and Hobbes at all. But it is very cute and very, very funny. I am really looking forward to seeing where the comic goes from here, because if it keeps up the same level of quality it'll be one of my favorite all time comics for sure.

Sam and Fuzzy

Speaking of "one of my favorite all time comics for sure", Sam and Fuzzy is this amazing long form comic that I've been following for-freaking-ever, and guess what? It is still pretty amazing, you guys.

It's come a long way from where it started out, which was a four panel gag comic that not-so-subtly ripped off of the Sam and Max franchise. It's slowly evolved from those humble beginnings into this epic action-comedy thriller about a nerdy, unlucky guy and his cuddly, pathologically insane bear friend who get tied up in a vast conspiracy that involves ninjas who are also part of the mafia. Actually it's a mafia made of ninjas. I should probably be extra clear on this and mention that they are called the Ninja Mafia. You obviously wouldn't have been able to figure this out on your own so I figured I'd help.

It very recently ended the storyline I just mentioned, which took about three entire years to complete. A story that long drug on at times, sure, but when the storytelling was on, it was freaking on, man. I can't wait for the next storyline, which I hope will be just as epic and hilarious as the one before it, especially since it's not very often I get to use those two words in the same sentence.

Gunnerkrigg Court

Another heavily story-based comic, Gunnerkrigg Court is a story about a young girl named Antimony Carver who gets sent to the eponymous school, and she meets a bunch of quirky and/or charming characters while some crazy spooky awesome things happen. The comic feels kinda like what Harry Potter might end up being if the series was written by Neil Gaiman or something, and if the magic wasn't so much the focus as the mythology of how the school came to be, and why things are the way they are in Annie's life. The first couple chapters get things off kind of slow and the drawing's kind of rough at the start, but the story's been nothing but awesome for the past couple of years.

It is also one of the girliest things I have ever read and professing my love for it is kind of embarrassing.

Dinosaur Comics

I will never understand how consistently amazingly written this comic is. We've been looking at the exact same image of talking dinosaurs for like six friggin years now and somehow it hasn't gotten stale yet. In the hand of most authors it probably would be right now, but eight times out of ten, Ryan North attributes dialogue to these characters that has led to me naming this my Favorite Comic of 2008.

The best Dinosaur Comics this year, in my opinion, would have to be the two where T-Rex and Utahraptor write a story about a dude named Tina, and the very last new comic of 2008 where T-Rex complains about Daffy Duck.

Runners Up:
Order of the Stick: This DnD stick figure epic is actually generally one of my favorite webcomics, it's just that this year in general the story's just been plodding along and not much has happened to make me go "Oh man I am pooping myself with how amazing that thing that just happened was! Poop poopa doo!". Cause yeah I say that at least twice a day.

Penny Arcade: Again, usually a great comic, just nothing outstanding this year.

Anyways time for a new category. This might take a while to write.

Video Games

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

So if you didn't look at the headline and assume I would be talking about Brawl at least somewhere in this entry, then I guess you're not one of the two people that usually read this blog. If you DID assume, then good job on assuming correctly! Are... are you proud of yourself?

Anyways I did have a tremendous amount of fun with this game. The new characters and stages were all pretty great, as well the giant explosion of wonderful fanservice that was the Subspace Emissary. Plus, both the quality and variety of remixes of classic Nintendo tunes means that this game probably wins my award for Best Video Game Soundtrack of 2008, hands down. Even though it needed more Ballad of the Wind Fish and Eight Memories. Still, the game was a gigantic, solid package (kind of like the one in my pants), looked GREAT (for a Wii game), and was basically a Nintendo fan's dream (I am a Nintendo fan hello), and.... yeah (I like to make useless comments in parentheses).

And yet, it wasn't half as engaging or addictive as Melee. I played Brawl for a month straight before I got tired of it, but that doesn't even hold a candle to me playing Melee for seven years before I finally stopped picking it up every week. I think that when Sakurai made the game more accessible and more of a party game instead of a competitive fighting game, he took out the best part of the series. When you beat an opponent in Melee, there was a sense of accomplishment. You were skilled enough to beat someone at an equal or sometimes greater level than you. When you beat that same person in Brawl, you go "Oh sweet, the random elements of the game favored me instead of him this time". Even no-items matches are less challenging thanks to the random tripping element and everyone falling in slow motion.

Not that the way the game is now isn't fun! I guess it just means that I didn't get as much long term enjoyment out of the new installment as I'd hoped, and that makes me a little sad. On the bright side, maybe Sakurai'll go back to the game's competitive roots when he inevitably makes another sequel in five years or so.

If you didn't notice, I used the word "explosion" to link to an article about farts. This is because I am both sexy and clever.

Mirror's Edge

"Whoa hey that's some pretty good dancing you're doing there, hey I can dance too, check this out, I call this one the 'Soulja Boy'"

Anyways. This game gets the "At Least You Tried and That's Why I Love You" Award for 2008.

When I saw the first trailer, it looked neat, but I was only vaguely interested. I mean, first-person parkour game? How could that possibly control well? It was a great concept, and I was both appreciative and proud of EA for trying something new and interesting, but since it was so unique and never been attempted before, there was also a whole lot that could go wrong. So I decided to stay cautiously optimistic. Eventually the demo came out and oh man I got excited. The controls were perfect, the gameplay was awesome. I felt like a freaking urban ninja and it was so great.

So after that I got the full game on day one, and was it worth it? Well, kinda! The parkour segments for the most part were pure bliss, especially the first couple levels worth. But the farther I got into the game, there was increasingly less emphasis on dancing around the city like it's a big metal-and-concrete playground, and more on "HEY MAN HERE'S 20 GUARDS, DISARM THEM ONE AT A TIME", and so it started getting frustrating. On top of that, the graphics were the most beautiful I've ever seen on the 360... so why do the cutscenes look like I'm watching an Esurance commercial? And on that note the story and dialogue were terrible.

Those flaws aside, though, I still had a lot of fun playing it, and the gameplay was certainly a breath of fresh air compared to the other "This time the grizzled badass with a gun has a triceratops tattoo on his butt instead of a skull!" first person shooters of this generation.

Perhaps the biggest tragedy is that I didn't even get a chance to finish the game and see if it improved. I lent it to a friend while my 360 was getting repaired, and in that timespan he broke the game disc! It was terrible and I was sad.

Castle Crashers

So I've already mentioned that I think Castle Crashers is great, and guess what? I still do! Not only have I beaten the game twice since then, but it's also finally gotten a patch that makes the game not delete your save files. Apparently online play also doesn't suck anymore, but I don't really know since I haven't tried it yet.

In my most recent playthrough I have been playing as a Beekeeper who attacks things by throwing bees at them. If that doesn't qualify it for game of the year I don't know what does.

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4

Here's a game that kind of snuck up on me. A couple of months ago I didn't even know it existed. I'm aware of the Shin Megami Tensei series, and have enjoyed its Pokemon-with-demons gameplay in the past. However, I didn't know a new game in the series had been made for the PS2 until early December, when I suddenly saw it get two perfect 10 reviews in a row. So I went "WHAT" and then I bought a PS2.

Basically, the game is.... uh... it is very, VERY Japanese. You are a high school student who got transferred to a new school in a small town because your mother died. Days after you visit, a series of murders occur. You and some friends you just made decide to investigate, and you discover that you have the power to enter televisions, which grant you a portal to the spirit world. Soon after that you get your first Persona, spirit reflections of your personality that are also based off tarot cards, granted to a mortal when s/he faces a demonic personification of his/her secret feelings. Then you and your friends use your Personas, and the assistance of a giant talking bear, to solve the murder mystery. Also there's two distinct play styles. While the first is more or less like a typical JRPG, the second type of gameplay feels like... like a dating sim.

Did I mention how Japanese this game was?

Anyways, despite the amount of times I facepalmed while writing that synopsis, it actually works really well and is a whole lot of fun. Unfortunately it is also a whole lot of HARD and I haven't beaten it yet because I'm stuck on a pretty ridiculous boss right now. I will go back and beat it though, if only so my main character can earn sweet sweet makeouts from Chie Satonaka. Oh Chie, you're a spunky tomboy and that isn't a cliche anime archetype or anything at all.

The World Ends With You

I had to think about this for a little while, but I think TWEWY (go ahead and say that abbreviation out loud, by the way, as if it were a word. Hours of fun!) is my Game of the Year. I know, right? I'm as surprised by that decision as you probably are, but I just wasn't expecting the game to rock as much as it did, especially considering the way it started out.

The opening cutscene of the game made me think the game was going to be awful. It involved the main character, Neku Sakuraba, striking a bunch of poses, all of them portraying his angst and isolation, punctuated by him spouting gems such as "Outta my face! You're blocking my view" and "All the world needs is me. I got my values, so you can keep yours... all right?" I am not even kidding, this is all delivered with a straight face. The first few chapters aren't much better storywise, as the cast covers Every Anime Cliche Ever Created, and the "omg I'm dead I must recover my past!" angle... doesn't sound familiar at all! *snicker*

Still, the battle system, which had you a equip a customizable deck of Pins that gave you different abilities you could use with the touch screen, was really neat. So I tolerated the story while I enjoyed the gameplay, while more neat elements kept surfacing. For example, all your pins and clothing (which serves as the game's equipment, makes sense) have specific brands. As you go through the game's setting, the city of Shibuya, certain brands are more popular in some parts of the city than others. If you battle with pins or clothes of a popular brand equipped they'll be more powerful. Also, you have a stat called "Bravery", and if it's high enough you can wear girl's clothing. It was little unique touches like that that made the game start to grow on me.

Then, the unexpected happened: the characters started to develop unpredictably. The story began to gain depth. The writing became kind of good. And then suddenly I was wrapped into the entire experience. I fell in love with the characters, laughed at the jokes, got a little teary at the dramatic scenes (but not much because I am a manly stud(, and started grinding through levels. Not because the game forced me to, but because I wanted to unlock more pins and special items that could only be obtained through special quests and challenges. The game got me addicted to an extent that not even Brawl had managed earlier that year. I played pretty much nonstop right until the ending, which was a total mindfuck. And even then it turned out the game wasn't completely over. By achieving various post-game objectives, I could unlock one of the cast's secret journals that unraveled even more of the game's deep backstory. It was awesome, and added a buttload of replay value.

So yeah, TWEWY is my favorite game of the year, and it's also one of my favorite DS games of all time. I hope Square-Enix has Jupiter working on another title this unique and interesting.

Runner Ups:
Grand Theft Auto IV: I almost put this on my main list just due to the sheer amount of detail and perfect little touches put into this game. However I decided on a max of 5 main entries per list to keep the length psuedo-reasonable. Just know that this was a really close sixth, and it's not like this game isn't on enough Best Game of 2008 releases already, so I doubt its feelings will be hurt.

Mega Man 9: This 2008 throwback to 1988 was a lot of fun. It really felt like a NES game, and it was just as enjoyable and freaking hard as one. It's only a runner up because I feel that it plays things too safe in the long run, and never really steps out from being kind of an expansion pack to Mega Man 2.

Fallout 3: This game has fantastic, fantastic production values and I enjoyed what I played of it. But for some reason I could never play for more than a couple of hours at a time before I just wanted to do something else. It does a lot of great things I want out of a game, but there doesn't seem to be much heart put into it. Maybe it wouldn't feel that way if all the NPCs didn't look like soulless mannequins whenever you talked to them.

No More Heroes: I love, love, love the cheesy B-movie feel of the game's cutscenes, as well as the awesome boss battles. However, I'm also aware of its shortcomings as an actual game. A sequel's been announced that'll apparently fix those flaws, though, so I'm looking forward to it.

Strong Bad's Cool Game For Attractive People: These games, of which I've played 3 out of 5, are hilarious and emulate the Homestar Runner feel pretty well. Too bad they're only okay as far as actual adventure games go.

Internet Videos

There she is!!

Hey, remember when I talked about this in the last post I made back in August? Well I already linked to that post when I talked about Castle Crashers, and it'd be silly to do it again so I'm not going to. But in between then and now, the fifth and final episode of the series hit the internet!

Last time I talked about there she is!!, I mentioned that while the fourth episode was good and well made, it was also really dark and depressing, and this would only be okay if the fifth one made up for it by being wonderful and adorable. Without spoiling too much, I can confidently say that it does so, and in spades. The series in total is probably my favorite internet video series thing of 2008.

It's really sweet and cute and you should go watch it.

Super Mario Bros Z

Back when I discovered this series in 2007, I saw the name, got the jist of the concept, and figured it would be terrible. I decided to watch the first episode anyways, and it was okay. Not great or anything, and I remember going "How is this anything like Mario OR DBZ" the whole time. So I stopped watching and went on my merry way through the vast caverns of the internet.

A couple months later I decide to give it another shot and watch Episode 2, and it was actually pretty neat! The author was able to implement really fun, well-choreographed fight scenes using simple 2D sprites, and both the plot and dialogue were starting to reveal themselves as a pretty amusing tribute/parody to Dragon Ball Z, starring various Mario and Sonic characters. And from there the series kept getting better. The creator kept learning new tricks, and subsequent fight scenes got increasingly badass, and I have been genuinely impressed that the latter half of the series has been actually good.

Recently the dude making these got tired of the series and went on hiatus for a while, but near the end of last year he made the 7th episode of the series, and it's one of the best so far. If you like Mario, Sonic, Dragon Ball Z, or if you like making fun of at least one of those things, I'd totally check it out, because I fill those criteria and I enjoyed it.

Don't watch the Intro if you don't want spoilers for events that haven't happened in the series yet, though. That's kind of silly, right? A show's intro having spoilers? Haha, what's next, a woman having a penis?

... Actually don't go to any Japanese websites either.

TV Shows


Warning potential LOST watchers and LOST watchers that haven't seen the whole series before Season 5 yet! Generally I've been pretty vague about huge plot twists and whatnot in the things I've been covering, but here I pretty much explicitly mention a couple of spoilers from Season 4 and previous seasons. If you don't want this ruined for you, just scroll past till I start talking about Avatar.

So if you've watched the show from the beginning, it's likely that you'll already know how good it is. And if you haven't, you've probably already resigned yourself to not understanding a single dang thing people who watch it are talking about.

Anyways, Season 4 was aired early last year, and even though it got Writer's Strike'd, it was still really good. Or should I say, parts of it were really good. On one hand it wasn't really as good overall as the last half of Season 3, but on the other hand it has had a couple of standout episodes that are among the best in the entire series.

I think I have three favorite episodes this season. The first would be "The Constant", because aww Desmond and Penny. I was initially tentative on loving this episode because I figured the writers would never give us a happy ending between the two, and this was just more teasing. Thankfully I already get to eat my hat on that one! Even if they don't live happily ever after permanently, them reuniting at the end of the season was wonderful.

My second favorite would be the creeptastic "The Other Woman", because the guy who plays Ben is such a fantastic actor. My third favorite would be "The Shape of Things to Come", because ditto my reason about that last episode, and it also it has one of the funniest scenes of the whole season even though I think the humor was unintentional. There's one scene where The Others' village is getting attacked by Widmore's men, and a person exiting their house gets shot. Sawyer notices this, and yells at a second person coming out of the house, "GET BACK INSIDE", and while he's yelling this, that person gets shot in the head and dies. This happens THREE SEPARATE TIMES before Sawyer finally gives up and makes a run for it. You probably had to be there but it was hilarious.

The finale was also great, but like I've said before, not as great as Season 3's. Still, it has me looking forward to Season 5, which is less than a week away. And that's great, since I have all these questions:

How will Daniel find the island again?

Is Jin still alive?

Will Sawyer ever find a shirt to put on?

...Why am I wearing this dress?

Why are you feeding me breakfast?

Avatar: The Last Airbender

I'd been hearing great things about this series for years, but I never checked it out aside from a couple of episodes I happened to catch every once in a while. This wasn't because I didn't want to see the whole thing, cause I actually was really interested. It was mostly cause I didn't want to spend 80 bucks on a DVD set. I spend ridiculous amounts of money on dumb things sometimes, but even I have my limits, and I think the limit for DVD sets is in the general area of 80 freaking dollars.

Recently though, the price got lowered to 40-50 a season, which is still pretty expensive but I figured it was as low as it was going to get for a while. So I bought the first season to see if the rest of the series was worth buying. Shortly after I bought the second season, and shortly after that I watched the third. I have now seen the entire series to date, and this show is great and really well done.

The strongest points of the series definitely include the well-built universe, with its own mythology and folk tales and everything, the neat bending system that actually manages to surprise me with cool and plausible new uses for the elements as the series goes on, and most of all some of the coolest fucking mega badass animated fight scenes I have ever seen in my entire lifetime. This was me during a fight scene in Season 2: "Oh my god oh my god ohmygodohmygod OH MY GODDDDD FUCK YESSSS! HOLY SHIT!! FUUUCK! FUCK YEAH THAT WAS FUCKING AWESOME OH MY SHIT OH MAN- *rewinds DVD*"

My favorite characters probably had to be Sokka, the smartass with no powers who eventually becomes the Batman of the group, Iroh, the wise old Fire General who is also a smartass but he's more cool about it, and Toph, the blind Earthbender who is a total freaking monster on the battlefield with her awesome powers, and also she's a smartass too but in an adorable way. What can I say, the smartasses get the best lines.

The worst part was definitely that the series ended waaay too soon. It felt like there could have been an entire season's worth of episodes in between the first half of the third season and the final conflict. There was so much backstory and character background that was implied, but we missed out on it because it couldn't be crammed into their last 20 episodes. I only hope that we get some sort of Direct-to-DVD-or-TV-or-something animated Epilogue that shows the aftermath of the end of the war in the main series, cause I'm not done with this universe yet.

Overall, great series... a little too much focus on 12 year olds making out. I think I cringed every time Aang said the word "love". Dude I know you think she's pretty but you're the most powerful being on the planet! Play the field a little first!


And finally, my award for Best TV Show of 2008!

I am going to make this quick.

A nerd accidentally downloads the entire government onto his brain and two spies are hired to protect him. One of the spies is Jayne from Firefly (one of the best shows ever), and the other spy is a hot blonde. Wacky spy shenanigans occur.

And it's awesome and hilarious!

That's all you need to know, go watch it!

And that's it, that's all my favorite stuff of 2008! I might have forgot some stuff, so maybe in the near future I'll edit this or add an addendum or something.

Now if you all don't mind, this took way too long to finish so I'm going to go pass out now.

By the way, I'm planning on making this a once a week thing from now on, and I think I have a system set up so it'll actually stick this time. Stay tuned!
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