I had way too much fun looking up images of Nintendo memorbillia for Friday's post, and may have gotten a little carried away. That being said, here's one that didn't make it that, in a lot ways, really deserves it's own post.

It may be hard to believe now, but trust me: In 1988, this was the coolest kid on the planet.

Posted by Kevin on 12:41 PM
Labels: , ,

Seeing all the message board skirmishing as the E3 corporate chest-beating is about to begin, I’m reminded of The Great Nintendo-Sega Console War, fought in lunchrooms, playgrounds, and classrooms in schools across America. I like to think we handled it a bit more “gracefully” in our time than current day console warriors (i.e. corporate shills), but I make no guarantees. I can tell you that Sonic was dumb and that a bunch of games featuring a fast hedgehog couldn't compete with an veritable army of quality titles, filled with plumbers, an elven warrior, some dude (who turned out to be a chick) in a suit with crazy lasers, and a robot whose powers and adaptability could only be defined as “mega”.

Or so I would claim in the trenches of my elementary school, a time when Nintendo was king and I was one of its many loyal followers. I was in pretty thick too. We’re not just talking games here, I was knee deep in the TV shows, the toys, the lunchbox, the bedsheets, the puzzles, and whatever ever else I could get my Nintendo-loving hands on. I even had the Nintendo Sticker book. Naturally I was also a subscriber of Nintendo Power, our own version of The Daily Worker, which fueled me with the monthly information I needed to claim supremacy of the Nintendo brand above all else. Does what Nintendon’t? Not a chance.

As an adult I can look back on this sort of thing and laugh, knowing that the only reason anyone participated in this playground warfare is because we had to make a choice. It was going to be one or the other, and whatever it was, that's what you stuck with, no matter what. I can't imagine any of my fellow warriors ever turning down a Genesis if one had been offered to them. Hell, even I bought a Game Gear with money I had saved up, and thought it was pretty cool (when it wasn't consuming all of the AA batteries I could find). What it ultimately came down to was I had one, not the other, and there was no way I was going to feel like I had the short end of the stick.

Knowing how that sort of mentality is, you'd think I'd have some sympathy for today's youths and console warriors, but the truth is I don't. First off, I'm not sure that any of these companies really court fervent followers like Nintendo and Sega did back in the day. I can't believe that anyone really loves giant corporations like Sony and Microsoft, who honestly don’t give a damn about them, and yet people defend/revile them like they’re some sort of helpless kitten/Nazi war criminal.

Secondly, none of the big three have anywhere near the propaganda of old days. And even if they did, there’s more information out there than ever before, so you think people would make informed decisions about what works best for them and live with it. But no, instead they twist whatever little pieces of information they can find for slander and ammunition.

Do they still suffer from the “my mom can only buy me one” mentality? I suppose it’s possible, but there's less and less reason to care – compared to the Sega-Nintendo days, exclusivity is a joke. They make portable versions of most big releases nowadays for Christ's sake. And yet people still fight on across the internet about which is the better console, even going so far as to compare screen shots. And none of it matters in the slightest, because the console that looks the worst is outselling the other two in spades.

Maybe I'm getting a little old and curmudgeonly, but allow me, a veteran of the console wars, to say a little something to the younger generation of troops in the battlefield.

Chill out.

And lay off the corporate kool-aid. Because you don't want to end up like this guy.

Case closed.

Main Entry: iro·ny

Pronunciation: ī'rə-nē, ī'ər-

Function: noun

Inflected Form(s): plural iro·nies

Etymology: Latin ironia, from Greek eirōnia, from eirōn dissembler

Date: 1502

Definitions:

1: Raaayyyyaaaaain on your wedding day

2: Free advice that you just didn’t take

3: Doing two reviews immediately after posting about how you don't actually read reviews

Posted by Kevin on 7:33 AM

This is the kind of game I want to play all the time: one that doesn't punish you badly for death, lets you save anywhere, has a great story that doesn't get in the way of gameplay, features a beautiful soundtrack, and ultimately is a blast to play.

Side note: Are you aware that Jerry Bruckheimer is making a Prince of Persia movie? Well he is! They're filming it now. They've cast Jake Gyllenhaal as the whitest arabic Prince ever, looking more ridiculous than you can imagine. Prediction for future One Sentence Review of Prince of Persia Movie? "Play Prince of Persia instead."

Posted by Kevin on 7:58 AM

If you want an okay action film with some explosions, see it, but if you want a good Terminator story, just watch Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Posted by Kevin on 7:47 AM

I don't read reviews.

Well, that's not quite true. Let me rephrase – I don't read reviews to determine whether or not I should purchase something, which I think is the point of a review. I do read them sometimes after the fact, out of curiosity, but generally as a rule, I tend to avoid them.

There's a couple of reasons for this, and it varies depending upon what medium is being reviewed. To be honest, I will read reviews for books, products, hotel, etc. and give them some merit. What I'm really talking about here are reviews for movies and games.

In the case of movies, I avoid them like the plague. I've found that a perfectly good movie experience can be ruined by reading a review beforehand, because essentially what it's done is given you an opinion without having a chance to form your own. When you watch the movie, it's like having a commentary track on – all you can hear are the critics' complaints.

Granted if the movie received a good review that's not as much a problem, but you never can really know that going into it. It's true that generally movies that receive good reviews tend to be pretty good, and movies that receive terrible reviews tend to be godawful. But most movies are somewhere in the middle, with mixed results. Personal preference comes into play more. I may have enjoyed The Incredible Hulk (not to be confused with Hulk), but plenty of people didn't, and that's OK. But that doesn't mean that I want their review forced down my throat and affecting my movie watching experience.

In the case of video games, I'm not as religious about avoiding reviews, but they rarely effect me. When The Force Unleashed received fairly bleh scores, it didn't reduce my enthusiasm for the product – I just assumed reviewers were being overtly whiny (they were). Same for Assassin's Creed, Lego Indy, and plenty of others I've bought in spite of reviews. If a game receives a truly awful score... it's possible it might make me sit back and reconsider, but that's a pretty rare occurrence. On the flip side, it doesn't matter how highly you rate a game – if I wasn't interested in it before, a shining review doesn't do much to make me consider the product. I will occasionally read these reviews, certainly, but only to get an idea on how the general press thinks of the game, which is information I like to supplement with how well these games actually sell. Either way you slice it, the review doesn't sway me in any way.

When it comes down to it, for me the only “review” that can effect me is one from a friend. Generally you know this person and their likes/dislikes, and how often that lines up with your own. And those I'll definitely give some weight. A few non-trek friends had rave reviews for Star Trek before it came out, which let me know that it was going to be something special. Equally, another friend saw Terminator Salvation early and despised it, which gives me pause until I remember that he also wasn't a big fan of The Dark Knight (which is insane), so there's still a chance it could be good (I'll know either way after tonight). Ultimately, the review basically comes down to one of three things: it's cool, it's okay, or it sucks. There isn't really much more to say about it that can't be wrapped up with a thumb gesture.

In any event, that's why I tend to keep my reviews on the short end – mainly because if I don't read them, I've no business writing them, but also because, when you get right down to it, they're easy to summarize. Either it's cool, it's okay, or it sucks, and everything else is just personal supposition.

Posted by Kevin on 12:12 PM

THE GAME: Zelda II

What's the Deal?: The first Zelda was a hit, so Nintendo made another one, which also sold a lot of copies. As a kid I loved it, my friends loved it, and it was generally acknowledged as the harder game. Nowadays, the internet has seen fit to curse it as the worst game in the Zelda franchise.

Why Everyone Hates it: Because the gameplay does not resemble the original Zelda, or any other 2d incarnation of the Zelda franchise. Rather than using the top-down perspective, it's actually a side-scrolling game, with a top-down overworld map used only to walk to locations, not for any real gameplay, much like an RPG. It also features a number of additional RPG-elements, such as possible random encounters on certain world map areas, towns with people you can converse with, and experience points for gaining levels in attack, life, and magic. Oh, yeah, magic. It has magic. You learn spells which do stuff, and replaces the use of items as your primary support base. Not to say there aren't items, because there's still an item in every dungeon you need to get, but their functions are generally passive, not unlike the raft in the original Legend of Zelda.

It's also probably the most difficult entry in the franchise.

Why it Totally Doesn't Suck: I've noticed a reoccurring trend with this game: If you grew up with playing it, you seem to think well of it. If you didn't, well, you despise it. I think the flaw is in the second group. The reason most people hate this game has absolutely nothing to do with its quality; it's a seriously well made game that's a huge leap technologically over the first. It's also a lot of fun, when you aren't being totally destroyed by it while trying to get that hammer. No, the reason people hate this game is because it doesn't really resemble what they think a Zelda game should be. They get upset because the game they think they should be playing isn't the game in front of them.

That's a dangerous mindset, in my opinion, and it still happens a lot today. A sequel isn't beholden to being an updated port of the previous game. I think it's fun to see changes, and when a franchise is willing to really shake things up, you can get some interesting results, something Zelda games have done a few times. In other words, you can't worship at the feet of Ocarina of Time, which changed a lot of things about the franchise, and then in the same breath curse Zelda II for going completely off the rails.

As a kid, I preferred the original, but I didn't really think less of this one. I thought it had some really awesome qualities. Hyrule seemed absolutely huge for the first time. I loved that the endless combat actually meant something, that my Link was getting stronger because of it. Some of the magic spells, like Fairy, were really nifty, and let me do some unique things I had never seen in a game before. It also had multiple lives, which I greatly appreciated since I was often times in dire need of them. When I play it now, I still enjoy it just as much (if not more), simply because it's a quality game, and for all the same reasons I enjoyed it as a kid. As a child, you're a lot more accepting of changes, as long as the game is fun. That's an attitude I try to emulate as much as possible today, and I'm much better for it.

I should also mention that I'm sure the difficulty is a big turn-off for most players. That comment about the hammer earlier wasn't in jest - for better or worse it's an item you have to go after fairly early in the game, and it can be devastating. I spent a good year mapping out a course to get it when I was a kid. Nowadays I'm actually a lot better at this game then I used to be, but it's still a challenge. Unfortunately, no one has patience for that sort of learning curve (myself included) nowadays, which means this game doesn't age as well as the original. Then again, I'd argue that going after that hammer was no more frustrating then burning hundreds and hundreds of trees with a blue candle in order to find the 7th dungeon in the original Zelda. Nowadays a quick FAQ will fix you right up, making the frustration level for replaying the original game fairly low, while the challenge in this game remains fairly intact.

Conclusion: The things I loved most about Zelda games was the exploration and the action-adventure trappings. Both of those games had those same qualities in spades, merely differing in execution. Zelda II is a great game and captures the right spirit. It deserves to be considered a proud, although different, entry in the franchise. Believe me, if you want to see some things that shouldn't be considered Zelda games, they're out there. Got a whole system dedicated to them, actually.

Posted by Kevin on 6:29 AM

This weekend I had the pleasure of seeing Star Trek on IMAX... but unlike what I suspect was the majority of ticketholders that contributed to breaking IMAX sales records, I actually saw it on what I would define as an actual IMAX screen. As opposed to, you know, a FakeMAX screen.

What's the difference? Well, I define an IMAX screen the same way everyone's defined IMAX since the technology first rolled out back in 1971: A really big screen. There isn't a whole lot more to it - if the screen is gigantic, it's IMAX.

If it's not, it's FakeMAX, and it's preying on unwitting movie goers as we speak. Across the nation, "IMAX" theaters are starting pop up seemingly out of thin air. Personally I was excited and confused when our local Altamonte AMC theater announced IMAX was coming, because while I loved the idea of having a close IMAX theater... I wasn't sure how they were installing it when it didn't appear that they were doing a single bit of construction to increase the theater's size.

Of course they didn't really do jack, because weren't installing a real IMAX screen. But I didn't have any way of knowing that, so by the time it was up and running and I went to see Watchman, I figured, why not? The theater said it was IMAX, the ticket certainly cost like it was IMAX... so how was I to know any better? Once you walk in though, it's impossible not to feel disappointed. The screen is a bit bigger, but honestly it's like the difference between a 55" TV and a 60" TV; I'd rather have the 60", but it's not really going to make much of a difference. The sound system was certainly better (i.e. louder), but was that worth my ridiculous ticket price? Not in the slightest.

On the flip side, seeing Star Trek this weekend was an incredible treat, and reminded me just exactly what the appeal of IMAX was in the first place, and all for the same cost as a ticket at a FakeMAX theater. I'm completely amazed by the lack of business sense IMAX has in setting up these FakeMAX theaters and refusing to differentiate between them. It is utter and complete brand suicide, ruining decades of establishing their name only to make a quick buck on theater licensing deals.

Certainly the backlash has begun to gain momentum, and you can read some more details about it elsewhere. Personally, I'll never buy a FakeMAX ticket ever again, but they did get me once. I bet they'll get a lot of people once, but after that? There's no way you'd go back again, ever. These theaters might be getting a few suckers right now, but in the future, I honestly expect FakeMAX sales to take a nosedive. And rightfully so.

In the meantime, don't fall victim to FakeMAX screens! While the actual IMAX website won't tell you which ones are real, internet heroes are already on the task of sorting out what's what. And just in case your theater isn't on the list, just ask yourself this: Is my IMAX theater about six stories tall? No? Then give that FakeMAX screen the boot.

Posted by Kevin on 12:35 PM

One of my favorite things about the internet is that it's given me the ability to buy just about anything I want. Not only can I get some really ancient consoles, but if there’s a game I'm interested in that hasn’t hit stateside yet, it doesn’t take much to buy it, as long as you’ve got the desire and the means. Simply put, importing games has evolved from a relatively painful process to something rather simplistic with today's technology.

That being said, while I’ve gleefully imported a few items in my time, there are standards. While I may be tempted to import Record of Agarest War because it’s never going to hit the U.S., I know that’d be a huge mistake. And why? Because I’d be breaking the rules on importing games. [1]


But what are the rules? I'm glad you asked!

WHAT TO IMPORT

  • Games that will never be released here. Ever.
  • Games where language will not be a barrier to gameplay
  • Games where the plot is either non-existent or utterly irrelevant

A great personal example of this is Starfy 4: The Legend of Starfy. I’m a big fan of platformers on handhelds and Starfy sounded like a lot of fun. There was zero chance of it being released here, gameplay was fairly easy to figure out, and I couldn’t care less about the plot. In short it was a great import

I'm not saying there aren't exceptions. One such example is my Wonderswan collection of Final Fantasy games. These are games where language is a serious barrier, but since I already know them inside and out, it didn't really matter. The important thing here is being true to the spirit, not the letter, of the laws.

DO NOT IMPORT A GAME IF:

  • A stateside release is imminent
  • It’s not compatible with your console
  • That game is an RPG
  • You have any sense of hesitation or doubt

And now the flip side. Back in February of 2003, I was dying of excitement for the release of Final Fantasy XI, which was taking foreeeeevar. I had read up on people who had imported the game, and if it was working for them… why couldn’t it work for me? After some not-so-careful thought, I made the plunge and imported the PC version.

In so doing I broke most of the above rules and ultimately wasted 70 bucks. First off, while the release of the American version was taking forever, it certainly hadn’t been cancelled; in fact it arrived just later that year in October. Secondly, this was an MMO that involved a lot of party play... I wasn't going to be able to talk with anyone. Soloing was only going to get me so far, something I didn't really address. Finally, through a comedy of errors involving language barriers, fake japanese addresses, and credit cards with middle names, I was never able to register an account and play the game the first place! My decision to import was completely premature; without a doubt I was giving into my excitement for the product, ultimately to my detriment.

So consider my tale a word of warning. I should also mention that you need to be careful to look at the region of a game before importing it. Handheld devices excluded (mostly), most games still tend to have region lock-out codes. And no, unless you’re living in another country (or speak the language) don’t ever buy a region’s console just to play their games. Whatever it is, it’s not worth it – in the end, it’s almost always better to wait for a proper translation, or just find something else to play.

  1. I should clarify that this is a guide for importing something from Japan and I'm assuming you don't speak Japanese (watching a lot of anime doesn't count). There is rarely a reason to import something from Europe to the US, so I don’t feel the need to discuss that particular issue. As for the reverse… well, look. If tomorrow I had to live to England, I would be importing all my games from the U.S. It’s an entirely separate set of issues. While things have gotten a lot better compared to 10 years ago, there's definitely still problems. Another discussion for another time.

Fairly fun multiplayer game that's a little overpriced for what's inside, but note to developers: Please stop making multiplayer games that actually have no local multiplayer k thx.

Posted by Kevin on 11:42 AM

Now that I've vowed to try out these games I've bought but never played, I want to take a look at each one as it comes up. I'll figure out why I never got to it, play it, and then decide whether or not it was worth the purchase in the first place. Without further ado, allow me to present...

DUST COLLECTORS: PHANTASY STAR UNIVERSE

Bought: Sometime Post-Christmas '07

Amount Played: Nada, although I did play the online beta for about half an hour before it came out

Why I bought it: Gamestop was doing one of their Buy 2 Get 1 Free deals for all used games, which have been the bane of my bank account for some time.

Why I was interested in it: I really liked Phantasy Star Online, just like everyone else. It was a lot of fun. This was supposed to be a sequel, and everyone was interested in it. After tons of delays they announced that there would be no offline multiplayer of any kind whatsoever, and then no one was interested in it. So it sold very badly and price dropped fairly quickly. I wasn't really interested in the online multiplayer (which cost extra, unlike the successful PSO), but it did have a solo campaign. And I had played plenty of solo-PSO and really enjoyed it, so I figured... why not?

Why it collected dust: Because I bought it right after the holidays when I had tons of other games to be playing and no business being in a game store. I didn't even finish Super Mario Galaxy until this year, for Christ's Sake! There was no way I was going to get to this game anytime soon, something I knew perfectly well when I bought it. That's how I know I have a problem.

Reason to play it now: Kind of in an RPG mood, but not really. So action RPG sounds good

Reactions: It's a good thing I never tried to "sample" this game to see what it was like. It'd still be collecting dust. The first hour of the game features very little actual playing, tons of handholding, and just about every awful JRPG cliche you can possibly imagine. If I had been playing the Japanese RPG drinking game, it would have killed me. PSO had a solo campaign, but there was virtually no plot. And that's the way it should be. Because Team Sega cannot make a game with anything resembling a good plot. They can't even make an amusingly bad plot. This is the team that thought it proper for a hedgehog to be kissing a human. It should be illegal for any one of their members to submit anything resembling "story ideas", or, God help us all, "dialogue".

I was really close to giving up on the game, but after a couple hours you start getting into some legitimate gameplay, and I was reminded of all the things I liked about the series to begin with. Fortunately, by this point, the plot isn't beating me over the head as much, so I'm managing. Ultimately the gameplay is a lot of fun, but the plot is unbelievable awful, so for now I'm taking the bad with the good. If it continues at this rate I'll probably play it to completion, but we'll see - you never know what awful event Team Sega has planned for me down the road...

Buyer's Remorse?: No, I don't think so. Look, I was really curious about the solo campaign, and info was scarce because no one bought the damn thing. And it was pretty cheap, so even if it had been awful it's not like it cost me much. The combat is exactly what I'm looking for, and while it's not nearly as good as PSO, that's only because the plot won't get out of the way when all I want to do is play the game. But that gameplay is there, so I am enjoying it for the moment. Mark this one down as a "okay purchase."

Grade: C

Posted by Kevin on 11:44 AM

Since I was about 6 years old, my number one gift request has been video games. If I got some new games for my birthday, well, that was a pretty good birthday. By that simple definition, one of my best birthdays was when I turned 12. I can't remember exactly what we did for it that year, but you better believe I remember what games I received. After all, it was a very good year.

The first one I opened up from mom and dad was one I had specifically requested, which was X-Wing. That game is a topic for another time, but let me just say that my parents gave me not a game so much as an addiction that would last for many years.

But it's not the only game I received that day. At 12, I had never really had a whole lot of experience with adventure games. I seem to recall playing a version of King's Quest on my uncle's machine and getting tossed into jail fairly quickly with no hope of escape. But otherwise I just hadn't played them much. That was about to change in a big way.

The LucasArts Archives Volume 1 looked like some sort of gaming treasure trove, and it was. It included what appeared to be six games (but was really more like 3 games, 2 demos and some Star Wars screen savers) and completely blew my mind. I didn't exactly get a ton of games growing up, and suddenly I had been thrown six, all in one package! Two Star Wars games! An Indiana Jones game! Some bunny thing and a dog driving a car game! And a... tentacle chasing a nerd, or something game! This was awesome!

I quickly discerned that Rebel Assault wasn't actually Rebel Assault the Game as much as Rebel Assault Levels 1,2 and 12: The Glorified Demo (I still played the hell out of it). Then the actual demo cd wasn't as demo-tastic as I had been led to believe, with the TIE Fighter demo I coveted so much being little more then the opening (albeit awesome) cinematic. And it took awhile (hours), but eventually I did get bored of watching Obi-Wan and Darth Vader fight endlessly across my Windows 3.1 desktop, although not before I watched all of the "Star Wars Script" screen saver for what had to be longer then the actual movie length (And what's worse? I was disappointed when it didn't roll into Empire Strikes Back after it was done).

But none of that could tarnish how awesome a gift this was, because the remaining 3 CDs were undeniably awesome. Nowadays I can't fathom playing multiple games at one time, but back then it was a way of life, and honestly a necessity for enjoyment. This was a time before GameFAQs and the internet being a source of easy answers - adventure games worked because you really had to spend a long time trying to figure out by yourself what on earth to do. Sometimes the solution would only take you a few minutes, other times maybe a couple hours. In the case of a particular Sam n' Max puzzle, it may in fact be months. But the fun was in figuring things out, so that was just part of the game. Having all three of them, however, allowed me to jump in between them. If I couldn't figure out what on earth Indy was supposed to do in Iceland, I'd jump over to Day of the Tentacle. Then, if I couldn't figure out how to get George Washington's wooden teeth, well, I'd take a stroll over to the Stucky's in Sam n' Max. Not only did this limit the frustration that is inherent in any adventure game, but it also gave me a chance to learn things in one game that could help me in others.

The only sad thing for me is that while I love all of these games, and I think they really stand the test of time , I can't go back and play them. I mean, I can, but it's not the same. You'd think 10 years later I'd forget all the puzzles, but you'd be wrong - no matter how hard I try, I cannot forget that I need to steal the hamster so I can put him in the freezer so I can flush him to the future where I can heat him up in the microwave whereby he will then be able to run in the makeshift generator I have created in order to get the time machine working again. I really, really wish I could, but that knowledge will be with me for the rest of my life.

That being said, I think they're fantastic. They were the first games I played that really adhere to what has now become my cornerstone philosophies on modern gameplay; All of these games allowed you to save anywhere, and each of them provided challenges without punishing the player with death. It's a shame adventure games have largely gone the way of dinosaur, because they really did provide engaging environments where you really had to think your way out of a solution rather than shoot it up. But looking back over this set reminds me of how much fun they provided me over such a long time, and I really have to conclude that this was, without doubt, one of the best gifts I ever received.

It also reminds me that I never did play the full retail version of Full Throttle or The Dig. I think it might be time for me to finally do something about that.

Posted by Kevin on 6:53 AM

Excerpt from "The Undiscovered History of Aviators", pg. 36-40

Most now accept that the origins of aviator sunglasses lie, like many feats of ancient construction, with the Egyptians. Indeed, aviators have often been compared to the pyramids, as they share similar mysteries. Their construction was, for its time, a technological wonder. Often times the suggestion of an other-worldly presence has been theorized as a way in which these creations could have been built so early in time. This can be seen in the movie Stargate [1], which visualizes the theory that pyramids were in fact landing platforms for large triangle ships, something even the most fervent detractors have a hard time arguing against.[2]

However another theory, gaining traction, argues that aviators cannot be extraterrestrial as they contain distinctly Terran aspects of "awesome", confirming that their origin must be from humanity itself. That is not to say that they were created by the ancient egyptians, however. Instead, these scientists argue that the introduction of aviators is in fact due to a time traveling prank perpetuated by some 26th century teenager who theorized that Egyptian hieroglyphics with aviators would be "frakking hilarious." Little did he know that, time being circular, he would instead become the unintended "creator" of aviators, and plunge Egypt eventually into a war that would not only erase most proof of the existence of these majestic sunglasses, but forever embitter mankind over the coolness factor of the sunglasses.

Indeed, we need only look at the writings of Alexander the Great, who stated that "...although I had initially planned to withhold crossing into Egypt, I simply could not relent. Have you seen those ridiculous things they wear? Why on earth do you need that extra line of metal, I demand to know! No, I will take their land and I will crush every piece of their outlandish head-decorations until their eyeballs burn in the brightness of the sun which will then reveal the folly of their ways!"

Alexander stayed true to his word, but he could not quite destroy the legacy of the aviators. Many rumors persist about their continued appearance and survival throughout history. Sketches by Leonardo da Vinci imply that he was attempting to deconstruct a pair that he had stumbled across during his time in Venice.[3] Nevertheless, aviators would not appear in more mainstream use until the 1850s, when their unfortunate timing served only to make them one of the many issues of Northern-Southern frustration that would culminate into the Civil War.

  1. Aviators were originally in Stargate too, but studios deemed them "too controversial. They were subsequently removed in post-production. Kurt Russell has often said that this decision was a mistake, as he considered aviators a fundamental part of his character's motivations for many of the decisions he makes throughout the movie, such as "being a genuine badass.
  2. I mean, they certainly couldn't have been square ships.
  3. His only flaw was an insistence upon a "box" shape for the frames. The design remains a perfect example of both da Vinci's genius and complete lack of fashion sense.


Posted by Kevin on 10:34 AM

Quite possibly the best Star Trek film ever.

Posted by Kevin on 7:42 PM

Hi there. My name is Kevin and I have a problem.

Well, actually I have a few problems. But let's stay on track here.

I have a fairly large video game collection. A couple years ago I took an inventory to see just how many games I owned. Now, I haven't really kept up with it, but glancing over it and factoring in how much I've picked up over the last few years, we're looking at something around the mid-to-high 300s. Which sounds like a ton to a regular person, but is a mere pittance to an actual collector.

According to my inventory, I've beaten over 150 of them, which is actually a lot when you consider that 1) a lot of the old games (i.e. Pac-Man, Space Invaders) have no real end and 2) I own a lot of older games, and most of the ones you can beat (theoretically) are incredibly difficult. But there's another statistic, one I don't even have outdated numbers to reference, that I want to examine.

I'm talking about games I've bought and never played.

Think this over for a second. You have some hard earned cash. You go and buy something with it. You bring it home. Take it out of the bag. And never use it. Ever. Why did you even buy it in the first place? I'm not some sort of rich socialite; I don't have money to throw around on stuff I'm not gonna use. Hell I'm the kind of guy who flips out when some cheese goes bad. That's hardly even worth a dollar, yet I've spent 50 bucks on a game and never thrown it in a console.

Why on earth do I do this?

There's no simple answer. In the end it just comes down to what drives me to normally buy a game. I hear about something that sounds cool, so I mark it in my head as a game I want. Eventually I come to a position where I can buy it, so I do. And then for some reason the process breaks down.

There's two main causes for this, I think. The first is time. Let's say I've been watching a couple games for awhile and thanks to a little bad luck they come out on the same day. Well, I can't start them both (I mean I could, but I've never enjoyed it. Same way I can't read multiple books at one time). So I start one of them.

Now, hopefully I pick up the other one right after I finish. But what if I purchase a new game before that happens? What am I going to do, shelve it? No way. It's a lot easier just to jump into that. Plus, what if I bought two RPGs? Do I really feel up for another RPG after just getting through one? Probably not, so to the shelf it goes, and after awhile it becomes little more then a dust collector.

It's not that I don't want to play it. I always think about getting back to it (for awhile), but it's hard to find time to do so when other games I want to play are coming out left and right. In the end, I have to work a job and support a marriage. There's only x hours to play games, even if what I really need is y.

The other cause is money. Sometimes I see a fantastic deal on a game that I considered trying out, so I pick it up. The problem with these games is that usually I'm already playing something else. I have a tendency to always prioritize new games (mainly to justify having spent more money on them), so used games that I got a good deal on (or even gifts sometimes, to be honest) also tend to fall through the cracks.

On the bright side, there is hope. In an effort to save money, I've really tried to tighten my belt on which games I buy and which ones I don't. Maybe I'd like to have Street Fighter IV, but is it really worth 60 bucks when I know a year from now it'll sell for less than half? Better for me to only buy games that I really want new, and take the extra time as an opportunity to play through games I've never gotten around to. So far this has worked out great, finally giving me a chance to play through games like Trauma Center: New Blood (nerve-wracking), Super Mario Galaxy (incredible), and Dead Rising (tons of fun once you power-level) that have been gathering dust on my shelves for far too long.

Honestly though? What's helped out even more is that there hasn't been a whole lot of great games coming out this year. Looking at the line-up, I don't see that changing. '07 and '08 brought some amazing titles, so I suppose we're about due for a lackluster year.

Personally? I'm fine with that. Right now I can do with a little less temptation. In the meantime, I'll try to dust off some of these lost games and see what I've been missing out on.

Posted by Kevin on 2:03 PM

  • Blue Starfleet T-shirt washed and ready? Check.
  • Star Trek movie marathon planned for the weekend? Check.
  • Remastered Original Series DVDs ready to go for viewing throughout the week? Check.
  • Up to date on all current trailers and TV spots, including the kid-friendly Nickelodeon one? Check.
  • Tickets bought for earliest show on Thursday? Check.
  • Logistics plans for transportation, food, and line-waiting established? Check.
  • Is it Thursday Yet?
I'm a bit excited for Star Trek, which isn't too much of a surprise since, well... I love Star Trek. For me this new movie isn't just another Trek movie, but a real chance at a rebirth of a franchise I love, and a great opportunity to finally provide something that's easily accessible for new fans to jump on board with and see what they've been missing out on all these years.

I considered doing a top 5 list of favorite episodes, movies or just plain old stuff, but asking me only to name 5 things I like about Star Trek is kind of the equivalent of asking the Duggar Family to chose 5 of their kids to survive. Or, you know, to name one of their kids something that doesn't start with the letter "J".

So allow me to indulge in a plain and simple list of my favorite stuff in Star Trek

Favorite Show: The Original Series - I won't lie - one of the reasons I'm thrilled about the reboot of the series is that we're getting back to the roots of this whole thing and going back to what people loved about Star Trek to begin with. I can't argue that the show viewed now can be at times downright goofy, but even still. I love the characters, I love the ship, I love the overall mood of the thing, and of all the various iterations, the original series had the greatest sense of adventure. And that's something I love about Star Trek, and it seems to be one of the things this new movie is trying to get back to.

Favorite Episode: Tapestry (Next Generation) - But that shouldn't imply I don't really enjoy the other series. In fact, the first episode I ever saw of Star Trek when I was quite young was a Next Gen episode called Tapestry (written by the brilliant Ron D. Moore), which I loved then and enjoyed a great deal more in my adult life. It speaks a fundamental truth that all of us need to hear from time to time: that the events in our lives, while sometimes negative or regretful, shape us into the person we are today, and that to remove those things from our lives can change the very fabric of our souls, to our own detriment. I've heard it criticized as some sort of Trekkie take on "It's a Wonderful Life", but I think that's silly. I certainly don't recall James Stewart getting into bar fights with Nausicaans.

Favorite Movie: The Wrath of Khan - Growing up I really loved the Star Wars trilogy and watched it fairly regularly. But in my adult life, while I enjoy Empire more, I tend to enjoy the original and Return of the Jedi less. That's not to say I don't still love them, cause I certainly do, I just don't enjoy them as much as I used to. But Wrath of Khan is a movie that I fall in love with more and more every time I watch it, which is at least once a year. Honestly, it's one of my favorite films ever (let alone Star Trek), and it's hard to talk about it and remain anything close to coherent.

Favorite Enterprise: Enterprise-E (First Contact through Nemesis) - There's been 8 different Enterprises shown throughout various movies and TV episodes (not counting movie variations) and I've got a place in my heart for all of them, but the E was big and it was made for war. While I definitely feel that the inherent optimism of Star Trek is what makes it work, there's something to be said about a flagship that isn't made for exploration so much as saving the freaking universe. Being the first Enterprise to be fully CGI-rendered, it's also gorgeous.

Favorite Alien Race (Friendly): Vulcans - Because Spock just made that much of an impression. No really. They're fascinating (no pun intended) and work as a great counterweight to us, the more emotionally-driven humans. The best thing about Enterprise is that it actually got back to really using Vulcans as a big part of the Star Trek universe, as they were always meant to be. By returning to the original cast and the character of Spock, the new movie seems to be making the same move, and I'm thrilled.

Favorite Alien Race (Villians): Romulans - Because they're evil Vulcans. I mean, what else can I say? I really do love Klingons, but I mean, they're just angry all the time, whereas Romulans are calculating, manipulative, and still emotionally unstable enough to make for terrific villians. Despite being major players in most Trek iterations, only Nemesis used them as heavies in a Trek film. Despite the fact that the internet tends to hate that film, I actually enjoy it quite a bit. That being said, I will readily admit that the new movie is much more likely to do Romulans justice... and I can't wait to see it.

Favorite Moment: I have quite a few. Should it be the Picard's thoughts on time at the end of Generations? Or perhaps when he draws a line heeeryah! against the Borg. It could even be the ending montage of the otherwise reviled Star Trek Enterprise finale. But it's probably more likely to be First Contact (in First Contact) or the death of Spock in Wrath of Khan.

Nah, let's be real. My favorite moment is everyone's favorite moment.



God I hope I can make it to Thursday.

Posted by Kevin on 2:34 PM