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The Ill Communication

Thrill ride

August 11, 2016 | 21:05 | Written by: snake911

Coaster

Building a coaster is cool, but also being able to ride it makes it the selling point.  And that’s exactly what this game does!  You can build and ride your own coasters!

For a fun fact, back when I was a kid and heavily playing this game, as my magnum opus of roller coaster building, I tried my best to copy the coaster found in the music video "Love Rollercoaster" that was covered by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  I was even able to beautifully mimic the part of the coaster that looked like a lady.  Unfortunately the riders didn’t care much for it and gave it a mediocre score.  Screw them!  They can just Suck My Kiss!

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Cover me batty

August 9, 2016 | 21:53 | Written by: snake911

Saw this car out in the wild this past weekend covered in a Batman: The Animated Series themed vinyl wrap.  Thought it was pretty cool, so I decided to post some pics of it here.

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Brawlin' it up

August 5, 2016 | 23:00 | Written by: snake911

I’ve been thinking about getting some games for the Vita lately, and the one on top of the list may be an import, which is something I tend to avoid.  But Uppers may be the rare exception.

Uppers is like a combination of two game series.  It’s one part Kenka Bancho, one part Senran Kagura.  Meaning it’s one-half badass brawler, one-half scandalous fan service.  I’m personally more interested in the brawler half as it follows in the shadow of the Kenka Bancho series.  A series I love a lot.  And with Uppers being developed by Bullets, the makers of the Bancho series, we’re getting the authentic experience.

But with the role of Producer being Kenichiro Takaki, who is the man behind the Senran Kagura series, which I have never played, and really don’t care to play because it dives way too deep into that ecchi scene, but am glad to see it looks like the game is more about the beat ‘em up action aspect than it is the fan service stuff (at least that’s what I think based on some screenshots and a few video clips).  But since there’s no way he’s not going to add his signature shots of over sexualized ladies in games, it’s good to see it just may be the sprinkles on top of this awesome action sundae.

I was thinking about waiting for a local port to come to the US, believing maybe either Atlus or XSEED would pick it up, but I waited for other games to come out stateside, but to no avail.  I like to get the localized version of games because I actually like to have a story with my games, regardless of how insignificant it may be, but I might have to bite the bullet and get the import version of Uppers and depend on gamefaqs for the story because I’m itchin’ for a new KB styled game. Either that or just learn the darn language.

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Ground level learning

August 3, 2016 | 22:09 | Written by: snake911

My job has begun the transition of having me work more in software development and less with product support which I have been doing for most of my time while being there.  This is an advantage for me since programming was my college major.  Sure I dabbled in programming from time-to-time while at work, but the projects were very small in scope and served as a solution for very niche tasks.  So they were nothing worth bragging home about.

The programming language I’m most familiar with is Visual Basic, and sure, some of you are probably snickering about that, but it was a popular language to learn at the time when I was in college.  Windows computers dominated the PC landscape, and with VB's focus on rapid application development, it made it all the more tempting to learn, especially when it came to creating graphical form applications.

When I needed to get back into programming for those minor projects I mentioned earlier, I needed a quick intro course to get me back into the swing of things, and that’s when I found Patrice Pelland’s series of books tilted Build a Program Now!  I got the Visual Basic edition and it is basically a crash course on learning the basic syntax of the language, a tour on the development environment, and shows off some new tricks for the -- at the time -- latest version of the language had to offer.  It’s a fantastic book that includes great examples of practice projects from building your own web browser, to dealing with references, to database handling, to pulling information from the web.  Of course keep in mind it’s a crash course book so it’s not a detailed, all-encompassing book, but as reading material to quickly get you going, it’s totally the book to get.  I liked it so much that I got both editions that came out for Visual Basic.

Since graduating from college, C# (pronounced “C Sharp”) took over for VB as Microsoft’s programming language of choice.  It’s been something I’ve wanted to learn for a while, but never had a reason to learn it.  A few years back I tried to get into it when I bought a book on developing XNA games called Learn Programming Now! Microsoft XNA Studio 4.0 (boy, I guess the people at Microsoft Press really liked using that same color theme over and over again for this series of books) which used C#, but as I began reading the book, Microsoft announced they were going to begin sunsetting the whole indie project and were going to shut down the community sites.  Hearing this really took the winds out of my sails and I just stopped reading the book; which in hindsight I kind of regret doing.

But now for the current project I’m working on I realized I needed to build the software with C#, so it became a worthy excuse for needing to learn the language, and fast.  Luckily Pelland wrote a C# version of Build a Program Now! so I bought that to get up to speed with the syntax.  For me personally, C# is a little trickier to learn, but that may be due to the fact that I’m coming from a VB frame of mind, so it could be hindering my learning that language than if I hadn’t already knew VB.  But I’m getting there and the project is coming along.

It is cool, though, getting back into programming.  I should try reading that XNA book again to balance some fun stuff with the business side, even though Microsoft doesn’t allow games to be published to XBLA or to build games for the 360.  At least I can still build games for the PC!

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DIY

August 1, 2016 | 22:17 | Written by: snake911

I try to keep a balanced diet, but sometimes things just get too bland.  Take for example the salads I eat.  Lately they’ve been just lettuce, sliced carrots, and some shredded cheese.  No frills, but they are easy to make and get the job done when checking the list off for a healthy meal for the day, but I’ve been craving something else.  Less healthy meals. (Gasp)

When talking about salads, I really love to get the Southwest Chicken Salad from Jack in the Box.  It’s crammed full with veggies, sides, and includes a strip of chicken, but with it having a premium cost of being nearly $7.00 for just the salad alone, it’s impractical to buy on a regular basis; at least it is based on my budget.

So I decided to make my own version of Jack’s salad by going to their website and jotting down everything that’s included with it.  I then went to the store and bought everything needed for it.  Now it’s not as easy as slapping everything together as my previous salad was.  This one involves some prep work and some of it is terrible doing this time of year as the oven is needed to cook the chicken breasts.  It’s both literally and figuratively not cool as we’ve lately had temperatures in the upper 90s with some triple-digit temps here and there.  Blargh.

Anyways, in the end it’s all worth it as it is really good and closely matches what I get if I bought it from JitB.  Included is a mixture of both iceberg and leafy romaine lettuce, shredded pepper jack cheese, black beans, sliced grape tomatoes, roasted corn (which I had to prep by using a frying pan to roast it), "Santa Fe" seasoned tortilla strips, a tiny bit of salsa flavored ranch dressing to give it a mild kick of spice, and one sliced strip of a chicken breast to top it off.

I like it because it adds more veggies, and of course nutrition, to the meal and is very filling, which is something salads normally don’t do for me when I make them.  And with me making them, I’m saving money in the long run.  Sure, there’s more calories with this kind of salad, but if the alternative is me going and getting a burger, fries, and soda, then the salad doesn’t look all that bad.

The next major thing I need to fix is my mid-day snacks as those have slid down the health meter to candy and soda which help with the late morning slump.  Let’s see what healthy alternative I can come up with for that.

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Jammin’

July 27, 2016 | 21:46 | Written by: snake911

ToeJam & Earl

If you look beyond the surface, TJ&E can be interpreted as a mirror's reflection of humanity and just how terrible we would be to act as hosts for guests from another planet who just need an intergalactic tow truck to get them on their way.  As for the environment, a metaphor for the structure of the Earth in TJ&E could be implied as a sign that danger lurks near, similar to how a winding road leading to Dracula’s castle with jagged cliff sides connected by natural arches are symbols of caution as they eventually lead to the Count’s front door.  The unhinged structure of each level is further evidence of how unstable the inhabitants of Earth are.

But I don’t care for any of that kind of deep analytical take on things.  I like the game ‘cuse it has aliens and funky music.

Permalink - Category: games - Tag: gamesjournal

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Upstart blues

July 25, 2016 | 21:02 | Written by: snake911

Another treasure discovered during that excursion for Genesis boxes mentioned from the previous blog post unearthed something else I’ve been looking for off and on for the last few years, but not game related this time as this one is a music album.

The album Rubber Money from musical group Jo Gray is definitely a rarity as I think they may have been a band which failed to ignite a spark into the American music scene.  Makes sense though as I saw them during a school rally while in middle school and has been the only time I ever known of their existence.  If they were charted for success, they wouldn’t have played for free for a bunch of dumb 11-13 year old kids at the school’s cafeteria that also operated as the school’s theatre.

This had to have been early 1997 as I remember being in the eighth grade when they performed for us.  Although they had an album to tour with, interestingly enough they didn’t perform any of their songs.  I can, though, remember them acting more as a cover band as they played a ton of songs from varying artists that jumped between rock, rap, and R&B.  The most memorable moment for me was when they played Metallica’s "Enter Sandman."  During that part, the singer put on a longhaired wig and started began banging whilst the strobe lighting was in full effect.  Being basically the only kid who liked rock music at my middle school, it looked like I was the only one without a puzzled look on my face when they played that song.

After the performance I was impressed enough to where I wanted to buy their album.  During lunch they were selling CDs which I remember being $10, cassette tapes which were $5, and drumsticks for $3.  I bought the cassette version and later when I got home played it I was met with extreme disappointment as I thought it would have included all of the cover songs they played.  I wanted it to be a sort of mix tape of popular songs from around the time covered by them and not original songs.  I quickly discarded the tape and it sunk to the bottom of my music collection.

Years later I must have purged my audio cassette collection to my brother as I found it in one of his storage tubs.  Considering its age and exposed to outside temperatures, I’m surprised how well it survived.  Fortunately I saved one portable cassette player in case I ever wanted to listen to a cassette tape (thanks past me), so I do have the means to listen to it.  The verdict of the me today: not bad at all.  The album has a few really good songs worth listening to.  It has that mid ‘90s pop sound with hint of ‘80s pop which must have been influential for the band.

Since this seems to be the only existence of this album with no signs of it on the Internet, I’ve been thinking about archiving it by making a digital copy, and possibly sharing it?  Though I’m not currently sure on the latter as it’s a copy from an analogue source so it’s probably going to sound crappy, but we’ll see.  Anyways, looking forward to listening to the digital version of this album without the hassles of looking for a track by means of tedious fast-forwarding and rewinding sessions.

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Archaeological dig

July 22, 2016 | 22:40 | Written by: snake911

For the most part I like collecting physical media as opposed to digital and then displaying said physical media on shelves along with related knick-knacks spread in front of them.  Something about seeing an entire collection at a glance, all within your visual perception is striking to me.  Maybe it stems back from being a child when walking down the video game aisle at a Toys "R" Us or perusing all of the big box PC games in the computer software section at a Best Buy.

Though not to be confused with hating digital versions of media.  Far from it.  If a game can only come out as a digital only release, then by all means let it come out without a physical version.  And same goes to all media like music, movies, TV shows, and books.  I bought digital only copies from all types of media, but when it comes to games, I always lean towards the physical boxes than digital when given the choice.

And if you look at my gaming collection, there was always a glaring omission from it.  I have games from every console Sony put out, games from both the original Xbox and 360, Saturn, Sega CD, 32X, and Dreamcast.  Heck, I even have a spot for NES and SNES games (even though my SNES collection includes only one game).  But the one obvious gap that I had was from my Genesis collection.  This has been bothering me for a while now and I finally mustered up the courage (but mostly just happened to remember) to go to the storage shed at my parent's house and retrieve my collection of boxes for Genesis games.

It’s not much but the essentials are there.  My Sonic collection, a gambling game, and Revolution X ;-).  My collection of games I own for the Genesis is small as I was more of a renter than I was a buyer.  That and my allowance wasn’t the largest, so my physical collection grew mainly from birthday and Christmas gifts.  I still need to retrieve one more and that’s the box for Sonic & Knuckles.  Hopefully it won’t be MIA for long as I got a tip from my Dad where it might be at, so when I go back to visit, fingers crossed that it’s there.

I needed to retrieve them because they were in an outside storage shed that’s exposed to outside conditions.  It did help, though, that the boxes were stored away in large container tubs, but given that every season they’re exposed to near freezing conditions during the winter months and then intense triple digit temps during the summer, who knew how long they might have lasted out there?  When I found them, they were fortunately just a little dirty from all the strong winds the region is known famously for, but other than that, they were still in great shape.

All of the manuals and original paperwork were still in the boxes and the cover art was still in pristine condition.  I removed everything and cleaned the boxes with just some running water.  I didn’t use any cleaning chemicals or soap as it didn’t seem necessary for just removing dirt.  I then wiped them dry and let them sit out for more drying to make sure not a single drop of water was left so the paperwork or cover art wouldn’t get wet.  The box for Sonic 3D Blast was unfortunately crushed, but thought a process of stretching out the outer case by sticking a thick manga book in it and then “squishing” the inner box in between some items in a bookshelf for a couple of days, I was able to reshape the cardboard so it looks fairly straight now!  Huzza!

All in all, things worked out pretty well.  And that’s not the entire collection all as I have many more Genesis games, but they are loose with no boxes.  I even have more boxed versions, but I wanted to show off the ones from my childhood collection standing alone.  Then after you add in the games my brother owns for the Genesis, and you have a library of games worthy of displaying on a shelf.  Only problem is: I think I may need more shelving! :-D

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Let's get productive

July 20, 2016 | 22:08 | Written by: snake911

I have no idea why, but I’ve always had an odd fascination for productivity software that came out during the Windows 95 era.  More specifically, software from Microsoft itself with its own line of software applications under the Microsoft Home title.

Since I currently have a running copy of Windows 95, I decided it was the right time to take a look back and check out the Home suite of software to see how some of them were like.  So with this decision in mind, I made a wish list of programs I wanted to try out and then went over to eBay and buy them.  Fortunately everything on my list was listed at reasonable prices to where I could pull the trigger and get this now seriously outdated software.  Seriously, some of the content is worth a few chuckles due to how out of date some of the materials are.

But since I lived and used software like it at the time, I can put myself back into that frame of mind and give what I feel is a good evaluation of how good or bad the software is.  To get an evenly spread out observation of what software was available, I decided to get a copy of a program from each of the five Microsoft Home categories which are: Home Productivity software, Entertainment, Reference and Exploration software, Kids, and Sights, Sounds, and Gear.  To easily distinguish between each category, they were given colored banners for their boxes and promotional material.  Home Productivity has a green banner, Entertainment has a black banner, Reference and Exploration software has purple, Kids has yellow, and Sights, Sounds, and Gear owns grey.

This exploration of MS Home will be a mini series of blog postings spread across several weeks to hopefully act as a bridge between the remaining gaming journal entries I currently have to another new feature I hope to unveil sometime soon.  But in the meantime, get ready to go back to the 1990s when Seinfeld was must see TV, Beavis and Butt-head were scaring conservative Christians, and when Microsoft (M$) made the move to place a computer in every home by not only making an operating system, but software that runs exclusively with it.

Wait a minute, this blog already yaks on about the ‘90s on a constant basis as is, so I guess it’s just business as usual? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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The boys of summer

July 18, 2016 | 20:29 | Written by: snake911

My most recent binge-watch fest was sitting down and checking out Big Windup!, a 25 episode show centered around high school baseball.  I’ve been planning to watch this for a while and finally decided to pull the trigger when I had some free time.  In short I loved it, even though I’m not the biggest of sports fans.

What I liked about it (and what anime does in general) is how they take the minutia of a subject and spread it across over two dozen episodes of a show, to pull you into that world and give you a sense of what it’s like to be in the character’s shoes.  For Big Windup! It’s being a player on a baseball team.  Now for me, the most experience I have in playing baseball was when I played in a tee-ball league for just one season.  At that point in time, you’re playing mostly by yourself along with 8 other players that wear the same uniform as you do, so the experience of teamwork was MIA.

Big Windup! gave me a new appreciation for the sport as there is so much strategy that is occurring under the surface of baseball that you’re unaware of when you’re just a spectator.  Sure I know of the call signs the catcher gives to the pitcher, how coaches from the dugout give commands via hand gestures, and paying attention to the first and third base coaches, but when you tie them all together by showing them all occurring during a single game is when you can tell what a team effort it takes to win a game, and how the strategy has to spread to every player across the diamond.

It’s very in line with Initial D, another show I love a lot.  They are the same in regards to all of the inner monologue that occurs in an episode; and for Big Windup!, most of it takes place between the catcher and pitcher.  Because of this, you get to hear the mind processing a strategy that considers all that is occurring on the field (like who’s on base), in addition to knowing the opponent’s batting stats, the batting roster, the current inning, balls, strikes, and outs on the board.  Man, there’s so much to keep track of!

It’s all a fictional story, so they can set it up to be a game with a lot of drama, but I was surprised at how I reacted to the games that they played.  There were some highly intense moments for me and it felt weird that I even cheered when the team’s strategy worked, and flinched when the opposing team hit a win.  The games were of fiction, so why did I even act that way?!  I guess that shows just how good the writer is at setting up how a game would playout for the reader -- or in my case since I didn’t read the manga -- the viewer.

I also liked all of the scenes that occur off of the field, where we see the kids as students at high school or what they do at home.  I also liked how they began bringing in the parents, more specifically the mothers, by having them sit and cheer for their team.  It was kind of fun trying to pick out which kid belonged to which mom only based on facial features alone.  Then finding out which of the kids have the same classes together and knowing who grew up with who and figuring out that someone on the team knows someone on the team they are playing.  All of this just expands on the universe of the story and gives it life, as opposed to just focusing solely on the sport.

So yeah, Big Windup! is a really cool show.  I watched it on Hulu, and they have both the subbed and dubbed versions, so you can watch it whatever way you prefer.  I only watched the first season as that’s the only one they have.  In fact, I don’t believe the second season has been dubbed yet.  Someone needs to get going on that as I needs more Big Windup!!

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