Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thunder & Lightning: A Good Way to Waste Time


Since today is one of those, last day before a long-ass, booze-fueled weekend (or New Years Eve/day/Bears play the Packers weekend, if that works better for you), I decided to take a break from coding and play some VirtualNES to kill some time and free my mind from arrays and loops.  I thought I would just pick a game at random that I never heard of so I picked Thunder & Lightning (am I the only one who cannot read that title without my next thought instantly being, "the way you love me is frightening") which I was guessing, from the name, was a shooter.  I think my mind went straight to Blue Lightning for the Atari Lynx for whatever reason. 

Romstar was the distributor and they had a history of choosing pretty good titles to represent (Tiger Heli, Ghost N Goblins, Double Dragon II) so thought it was a solid choice. 

The color scheme initially threw me off because, as I stated earlier, I was looking for a shooter.  But, the icon to choose my settings was a space ship so maybe it was an outer space shooter the likes of Gradius or Thunder Force. 

Nope, not a shooter at all. 

Wait, why is the protagonist an ape?  Oh, that isn't an ape, that's Mr. Chin.  To give a little background on an old tale, Mr. Chin is an avid food lover in search of the best foods the world has to offer but has awaken the Thunder Warrior accidentally and is forced to break up blocks as punishment or, the old, "food lover angering the Gods and punished for it" game.

Anyway, in a nutshell, it is a Break-Out clone that knocks the socks off of its Arkanoid competition.  It is tougher, faster, and has more power-ups.  I don't know if the Vaus controller would work for it (as I said I was playing on VirtualNES with my PSII controller (see: Play (Mostly) Every NES Game from Your Browser with Joystick Support - http://www.geekyclown.com/2010/12/play-mostly-every-nes-game-from-your.html)) but I could see where it would come in handy if it does.

The first thing that really got my attention was the difficulty.  The first damn stage is hard.  This isn't for the weak.  But, once I got the idea of the power-ups (hint: hit the damn floating ship...looking...thing) it started to get easier.  Graphically, the backgrounds are pretty good for the 8-bit era and the music is average at best.  What this game has, that I wasn't expecting, is this game is more addicting than crack laced heroin.  Definitely worth (as opposed to pretty much every post I have written lately) spending some time to play.

Final analysis. Graphics: the backgrounds are good but the rest is basically just blocks. Audio: forgettable. Playability: this game is just plain fun.  If you liked Break-Out or Arkanoid then you have not touched the surface of that genre until you break out this beast.  I'd give it a strong B+ just because my addiction tells me so, or is that my dog telling me what to do - I get so confused, I'll just go back to breaking some blocks for the Thunder Warrior.

Play it on VirtualNES here - http://virtualnes.com/play/?id=NIN-TL&s=7

 See it in action...



Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Money Wasted on this Horrible Game #3: Platoon


Note: My usual picture of the clown holding the game didn't happen since the sticker of Platoon was no longer on the game making it look like an untitled cart.  So, I decided a picture of Charlie Sheen's mug shot seemed fitting.

When I was a young child, ok I was in my early teens, my parents decided that the perfect game to add to my NES library would be Platoon.  Why any parent would think it is a good idea to give an impressionable child the gift of the recreating of the Vietnam War is beyond me, but there it was - the clusterfuck that it still is.

Maze from Hell
I popped it in today just for some nostalgic bliss and I once again was transported to a simpler time when all I would do is walk around a pixilated jungle trying to find the right way out of the pixilated jungle but can't because every damn screen looks identical to the screen before it.  It is a never ending loop of hell.  I was impressed with myself because I found the explosives right away but the next 20 minutes found me wandering aimlessly until I said, "screw this" and turned it off.

What is an up jump?
After gaining my composure, I resumed the torturous jungle.  The biggest problem that I found was that you had to push up to jump.  Not a button, but up on the controller.  Why would they do this?  You are walking along and trying to jump over a tripwire and instead you go up to the next level of forest.  Go back down and the tripwire is gone.  But the enemies keep falling from the sky. 

I finally made it to the bridge and blew that bastard up and continued onto the village.  I know, don't hurt the villagers.  But, if this was to live up to the movie wouldn't Charlie Sheen be making the villagers dance around on one leg while shooting at the floorboards?  Anyway, I snagged the map and the torch and was ready to go into the sewer.  And, I totally forgot about the hidden bomb and got blown up (if you can call it that, you just sort of fall drastically on your back).

My, most likely clouded, memory was that the sewers were my favorite part of the game because of the 3-D aspect that reminded me of the SMS' Phantasy Star.  Now, Phantasy Star was one of the best SMS games and it was because of the 3-D dungeons.  This actually did have that flair and graphically, it wasn't too bad.  But, again, plagued by the controls.  It was too slow to fire and wandering around was a nightmare - everything looked the same.   Are these mazes the result of the developers losing a bet?  They are repetitive as hell, and just plain painful. 

All in all, a pain in the ass to find the items without dying over and over because the reaction time of the controls is slower than that of the enemies (the knife wielding badasses that pop out of nowhere are pretty cool though).  But, like the first stage (if you can call it that, they really don't go into stages or levels), the repetition made the level suck more than the graphics or the controls.  Just not much variety.

Wait, that was it?
After you finish up in the sewer, you go to a level where you basically just move the crosshairs and shoot blobs from your bunker.  Some are tough to see but overall, it doesn't take a whole lot of skill.  Takes a good minute or two (at least that's how it felt) and you are done.  So, after all the BS to get through the jungle and through the sewer, this level (one that comes after those two) is the easiest.

"This is the end" (I know the song is from Apocalypse Now not Platoon, but it fits here)
This is a combination of hard to control 3-D movements, the annoying jungle maze of stage one, and second stage of Contra-esque horizontal shooting enemies thrown together to build a Voltron of annoyance.  There is no rhyme or reason to the enemies' movements or shooting patterns and that is coupled with snipers shooting from the sides.   If that isn't enough to piss you off, they time you so you have to find your way through the maze before the time expires. 

I moved around in circles for a bit and then ended up at, what I guess, is the boss, who I assume from the movie is Barnes.   He wasn't too tough to beat and the whole final boss kind of reminded me of Commando.  Anyway, the ending was average at best and I wasted a few hours of my day.   

Final analysis. Graphics: ok, at best. Audio: repetitive annoyance. Playability: the first level sucked.  The last level sucked.  The second level sort of sucked.  The third level is just a waste.  Controls: some of the worst there is.  Realism: now I was too young for Vietnam but am willing to bet any vet that plays this game will think it misses a few things. Worth $0.49 on eBay: for some reason, my memory of Sunsoft has always been held in such high regard (I think it was Batman that did that) but the last couple Sunsoft game's I have played have been a real waste  This game would have been better if I had done a bunch of drugs with Elias via his machine gun.  I would give this a D and say not really worth the time.  Thanks mom and dad.


More Money Wasted Reviews:
- Money Wasted on this Horrible Game #2: Championship Bowling - http://www.geekyclown.com/2010/10/money-wasted-on-this-horrible-game-2.html
- Money Wasted on this Horrible Game #1: 10-Yard-Fight

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tunes for Tuesday: Tom Petty Soundboard 1999

It had been awhile since I have suggested some great free music for Tunes for Tuesday so I thought I would bring it back with a great sounding Tom Petty soundboard show from '99 courtesy of Grateful Breed.  Show includes popular tracks such as Running Down a Dream, Don't Do Me Like That, Last Dance with Mary Jane, and American Girl (can anyone listen to that without thinking of the lady in the car rocking out just before Buffalo Bill nabs her in Silence of the Lambs?).  Anyway, here is the link to the Grateful Breed post.  Also, some past Tunes for Tuesday follow.

Tom Petty - 08/03/1999 SBD from Grateful Breed
http://gratefulbreed.blogspot.com/2010/12/tom-petty-minneapolis-08-03-1999-sbd.html


Past GeekyClown Tunes for Tuesday with verified links (12/28/10)
- Return of Tunes for Tuesday - Johnny Cash
http://www.geekyclown.com/2010/11/return-of-tunes-for-tuesday-johnny-cash.html
- Tunes for Tuesday: Wilco, New Years Y2K
http://www.geekyclown.com/2010/09/tunes-for-tuesday-wilco-new-years-y2k.html
- Tunes for Tuesday: Pink Floyd "The Wall" 8/6/80
http://www.geekyclown.com/2010/09/tunes-for-tuesday-pink-floyd-wall-8680.html

Monday, December 20, 2010

YouTube Hack: Jump to a certain time in a YouTube Video

 Adding another YouTube hack to go with these: YouTube Full-Screen URL Trick (http://www.geekyclown.com/2010/07/youtube-full-screen-url-trick.html)
 and 3 Must Have Chrome Extensions for YouTube (http://www.geekyclown.com/2010/07/3-must-have-chrome-extensions-for.html). 

This one will take you to a certain time in a YouTube video.  It just adds a little bit of code to the URL.

Here is a standard YouTube URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-kum3Le0P4

Let's say I wanted to jump to minute 2:16 in the video, all I would have to do is figure out the number of seconds that make up 2 minutes and 16 seconds (136) and put #t=136 at the end of the URL, like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-kum3Le0P4#t=136



Friday, December 17, 2010

LucasArts Rapes Nerd's Childhoods to Increase Sales


The last 48 hours saw a fury of blog posts around the Interwebs about the DLC for The Force Unleashed II where the apprentice kills Han Solo and Chewbacca and rapes the childhood's of nerds everywhere.  I realize that they had killed off Chewbacca in one of the books (if you actually read the books, which I don't - I am a movie only kind of guy) so it isn't a huge stretch for them to kill off favorite characters from the movie and disembowel us.  To me, the reason for LucasArts to pull this one is pretty clear, to boost sales.  Doing a quick check of sales, The Force Unleashed II hasn't even hit one million sales yet whereas the original raked in tons of cash. 

The reason for the sales problems is they didn't clean up the control issues from the first game (I discuss more here - http://www.geekyclown.com/2010/09/force-unleashed-ii-on-wii-three-things.html), the storyline is weak (LucasArts game developer: "we don't need to worry about the story, we'll just throw Yoda in the game - that will make everyone happy"), and the overall enjoyment of the game isn't there.  So, what is the easiest solution - throw out some sensationalized storyline to anger the masses, get the Internet in a frenzy, and hopefully make up enough sales to be able to push for a third game.  Pretty weak LucasArts…pretty weak.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Throw a Perfect Geeky Super Bowl Party

There are some traditions in this world that should never be thwarted.  The perfect Super Bowl party and the debauchery that accompany it is one of those traditions.  I have hosted many a Super Bowl party and there are some simple things that can make your Super Bowl party run smoothly for your guests.  Not only will it run smoothly, we will throw in ways to make it perfectly geeky as well.

Know your Audience:  The decisions you make will be based on who is coming to your party.  If you are having just the guys over, the choices of time, foods, drinks, etc. will all change as opposed to having a mix of men, women, football fanatics, and those who can care less about the game. 

Plan the Perfect Time:  Pregame can start as early as 9 or 10 a.m. on the sports networks.  Usually ESPN will start around 10 with some pregame coverage that will go to noon.  Then, NFL Network will have coverage from noon until network TV brings the "official" pregame - usually around 3.   If you are having hardcore football fans over, there is nothing wrong with having it earlier than 3 as long as you are prepared to have more food and drinks available (especially drinks).  As a general rule of thumb, when the network TV pregame starts, that is always a good time.  People are generally late (on purpose) so that will give plenty of time for them to make their grand entrance without missing the game.

The TV is the Key:  High-def is pretty much standard at this point and people expect it.  If you are going to be having your own Super Bowl party, you will need to make sure that you have a high-def TV ready to roll come game time - preferably large enough for everyone to see (a 27" TV probably won't cut it if you are having more than two or three people over).

Rearrange Furniture so everyone can see:  This is always a pain but it is a necessary evil if you are having more than four or five people over for your party.  Move stuff around to create enough room so everyone will be able to see the nice high-def TV we just talked about.

Multiple TVs are always good:  I usually put out a small 19" TV and put it on the opposite side of the room (a simple splitter will do if you don't have multiple cable outlets).  This can be used to watch other specials, etc. that go on at halftime.  Also, when the network TV's pregame is on your big high-def TV, you can always have the small TV (with volume down and closed captioning on) watching the sports channels pregame for anyone hardcore who may be interested in a bit more in-depth pregame that a sports channel will give over the "dumbed down" network pregame.

Make Room on the DVR:  I always recommend DVR-ing the game.  You probably won't need it but, you never know when another Janet Jackson costume malfunction may happen and you need to be ready.

Surround Sound:  Even though a good portion of the time the halftime entertainment and pregame performers are average at best, it is important to make them sound as good as possible.  As mentioned before, high-def is pretty standard these days and so is a surround system.  And, the Super Bowl only happens once a year, don't be afraid to crank it up a little louder than normal (as long as you don't live near easily aggravated neighbors or sleeping children).

Pregame Gaming:  You would be surprised at the amount of people who would gladly play some pregame Madden or Tecmo Bowl to get them in the mood for the game.  That little 19" TV would be a perfect place to have a NES hooked up and ready to roll for any old time gamers that may want to play the upcoming Super Bowl teams from 1987 (if they existed back then).  If your party is as geeky as mine, a Tecmo Bowl tournament wouldn't be out of the question.

Drinks/Food:  Again, this is going to be based on audience.  If you are having mainly men, beer is pretty standard and some spirits but if you have a nice mix of men and women, you want to supply the whole lot - wine, beer, vodka, rum, shots of choice (Jagerbombs are always a favorite), and mixers.  As for food, I always say, "keep it as simple as possible."  When the game is going on, you do not want to deal with the tremendous pain in the ass that is cooking and dealing with getting food prepared.  Maybe make some of your favorite appetizers for pregame and order pizza for halftime.  It's simple and it will cost about the same amount as making something to feed everyone.  Just remember to order early because pizza joints get hammered with orders on Super Bowl Sunday.

Have a Laptop with Internet Access Available:  I know this is hard to believe but, in this day and age, some people still don't have access to the Internet via their smart phones.  I have found that whenever I have people hanging out, someone will take advantage of a computer with Internet access whether it be to check up on some pregame action to checking up on their Facebook.  It's just a nice touch for your guests.

Everyone wants to get paid:  Having a pool is a great way to get everyone involved with the game, even for those who can care less about football.  I have found squares to be the easiest and most fun way for everyone to stay involved with the game.  Setting it up is really easy and even the person who only watches the Super Bowl so they know what time the Puppy Bowl halftime show is, will stay tuned to the game.  (Don't know how to set up or play squares - http://lmgtfy.com/?q=super+bowl+squares).

Plan for After the Game:  A lot of people take the day after the Super Bowl off because they know it is a party night.  Find out who may be doing this and decide if you would like to do the same.  Go out for a bit (by taking a cab) to change up your night. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Definitive Guide to Online TV - 2010 Edition

Note: This is the December, 2010 addition with loads of new links.  I deleted the 2009 version of this page so this is the most current.

I watch a lot of TV. I mean, I watch A LOT of TV. My DVR is pretty much always full and I am always having to pick and choose between shows. When I am DVR-ing too many things at one time slot, I can take comfort knowing that most TV networks and other sites host the shows I couldn't watch or DVR so I can watch them online.

The annoying thing is finding the shows from within the Web sites themselves. Sometimes it will require me to click at least one or two times. This is the Internet, who has time for that? What am I, a caveman?

Instead of looking up each of the different places to watch TV online, clicking through until I can get to the actual streaming media, and finally being able to open it, I decided to make this list and share with the world direct links to the site's video table of contents. Enjoy.

Networks:

Still haven't found the show you are looking for, try these:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Review: Super Mario Bros. 3 - Mario Forever a Malware Infested Mess



This is one of many forthcoming posts about free Mario games that you can play for the PC.  Since I put Mario as the King of games, I have strong feelings for the Mario series.  I went ahead and just took a look at CNET and grabbed their most downloaded game Super Mario Bros. 3 - Mario Forever (download link is at the bottom but finish reading before downloading).

I installed it and immediately alarms started sounding in my head as it wanted to install a "Mario Forever" toolbar.  Then AVG went haywire warning me about malware (and to run it you had run as administrator) so it was obvious that this was...malware.  Anyway, going against everything that I would ever tell any one of my students or any of my coworkers, I played it anyway.  The sacrifices I make for my one reader.

All in all, the game sucks.  It was obviously created by fans of Super Mario World (which I am as well) since the music is pretty much note for note from there.  It looks like the Super NES Mario remakes in Super Mario All-Stars, but it required an unreasonable amount of processor power to play, what was essentially, a 16-bit (at best) game.  Another pet peeve came in the first world castle, they had falling lava - that doesn't hurt you, what the shit is that about?  

The controls never felt right and you weren't able to configure your joypad so you would have to use their default configuration or use Joy2Key (which I talk more about in my post - Play (Mostly) Every NES Game from Your Browser with Joystick Support: http://www.geekyclown.com/2010/12/play-mostly-every-nes-game-from-your.html).  I only played the first world and said, "screw it, why am I wasting my time on this."   So, don't download since it is obviously malware and it sucks anyway.

Now off to run AVG and Malwarebytes!

As promised here is the link in case you didn't read a single word of this post and decided you like putting malware on your computer just to play a shitty version of Super Mario Bros.  http://download.cnet.com/Super-Mario-Bros-3-Mario-Forever/3000-7433_4-10344976.html?tag=contentMain;contentBody

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Play (Mostly) Every NES Game from Your Browser with Joystick Support

Awhile back I was introduced to http://www.virtualnes.com and was told that it was a great place to play all of my NES favorites from the comforts of my own browser.  My first impression was, "damn, this is great, I can get rid of my ROMs and just enjoy the games without having to have all of the ROMs, etc. on my machine."  Then, I noticed a large hole in my plan - no joystick support.  I hate using the keyboard so I came up with a "pseudo-hack" that will allow me to use VirtualNES and my Joystick.

It is actually rather simple, the first thing that you will need is JoyToKeyboard - located http://electracode.com/4/joy2key/JoyToKey%20English%20Version.htm

Install and configure.  You configure simply by double-clicking each of the buttons and assigning it.  Here is how I set mine up (but, depending on your controller and how you like yours set up, it may differ).  I use my PlayStation II controller with adapter, see http://www.geekyclown.com/2009/12/use-your-playstation-controller-on-your.html.



Once configured, you could actually go to the Web site and play right away but since I plan to use this more than once, I am going to write a .bat file that will call up both the browser and Joy2Key.

Open NotePad (Start > Programs > Accessories > NotePad)

You will need to know the path to Joy2Key and your browser.  I am currently working on my work laptop so this is Windows Vista (64) and Google Chrome.  You may have to adjust the paths depending on where you saved Joy2Key/what OS you are using/what browser you prefer.

In NotePad type (again for Vista (64), you will have different paths for different machines, the easiest way to find the path is to Start > Programs, find the program, right-click and choose 'Properties' then copy and paste the path),

START "Joy2Key" C:\Users\TheUser\Downloads\jtk374en\jtk374en\JoyToKey.exe
START "VirtualNES" C:\Users\TheUser\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe virtualnes.com

Then, hit File > Save As and change the 'File type' drop-down from text to All Files.  Finally name the file whatever you would like but put a .bat extension.  Then, next time you want to play NES games, just double-click the bat file and it will fire both Joy2Key and Google Chrome (or whatever your browser of choice (as long as you don't tell me it is IE6)) with VirtualNES.com preloaded.  The makers of VirtualNES have a SNES site coming in 2011 and this should work the same way.  Happy gaming!


JavaScript: Use ExecCommand to Create a Save Button

I was asked to do this today, a client had a framed Web site and wanted to have a "Save" button on one of the frames since whenever someone used the File > Save button, it saved the entire frameset.  This is what I did and it can be used in just about any situation.

In the head of the document:

<SCRIPT Language="Javascript">
function saveitup()
{
document.execCommand('SaveAs');
}
</script>

Where you want the button to be on the page:

<a href="javascript:saveitup()" title="Save this article to your hard drive.">Save</a>

Thursday, December 2, 2010

25 NES Games Every Gamer Should Beat Before They Die

In honor of my working through my 1001 Albums I Must Hear Before I Die project (check my progress - http://www.geekyclown.com/p/1001-albums-you-must-hear-before-you.html) I have come up with a list of 25 NES games that every gamers should beat before they die.  While some of these are ridiculous in terms of difficulty, the reward of defeating some of the most challenging of games will outweigh the burden of dealing with, what has become known as, "NES tough" games. 
  
 1.) Bionic Commando - A fabulous shooter from Capcom that uses a grappling hook as the means of maneuvering through levels.  And, herein lies the challenge.  Getting the controls down is essential to working through the game (most worthless advice ever but true).  After 15 years I still find myself swearing at the TV because I'm swinging uncontrollably trying to go from platform to platform.   If you ever wonder what Hitler's face burning off Raiders of the Lost Ark style would look like, then finishing this has become even more of a priority for you.


2.) Blaster Master - It is a classic tale of a boy and his frog who jumps down a hole and gets very large after touching radioactive materials.  (I discuss this storyline more here http://www.geekyclown.com/2009/12/blaster-master-released-for-virtual.html).  So our hero goes to rescue his frog in this part side-scrolling part overhead shooter.    To me some of the overhead was a little much but the game overall is as fun as any NES title out there.  Not too hard and not too easy, this one falls in the "just right" category.


3.) Castlevania - I have nightmares about the last level of this game.  After a bunch of times working to fight Dracula I had finally beaten him, with little life left, just to have him turn into a big ass monster that whooped me in seconds.  Then I had to start the whole process again.  Yet, the game was fun as hell.  It hosts a great storyline, great gameplay, and the beginning of a franchise that still around today.


4.) Castlevania II: Simon's Quest - I know the Angry Video Game Nerd hated this game because of the whole night/day thing.  I will admit, this game does have its flaws.  But I think that the good does outweigh the bad.  I love the storyline and it is a fun adventure game.  Do have the Internet available because there are parts that it isn't possible to figure out just through trial-and-error.  I was thankful to have Nintendo Power back in the day.


5.) Castlevania III - I just got around to beating Castlevania III recently and it was a tough, tough game to beat.  Goes back to the tradition of the first game but with better…well, everything.  This time I was prepared.  I beat Dracula and was ready for the second monster this time.   And, sure enough there was one.  Took care of that and now I am done.  Nope, another monster.   "Oh, come on," could be heard echoing through the house.  A great, great, challenging game. 


6.) Contra - Yes, we all know up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start.  Try beating it without it, a tough challenge to say the least.  However, I suppose we can give a pass seeing as you do get the experience with 30 lives without possibly injuring your TV, your little brother, or yourself.   For those daring, work through it without the cheat, for those who are weak - cheating is the only way to go.  And, it is always fun to shoot a very large organ whether it be brain or heart at the end of a challenge (a trend that is lost in later consoles). 


7.) Double Dragon - I have dogged on Double Dragon before on here because of its lack of two-player ability (check it out here - http://www.geekyclown.com/2010/03/dear-nintendo-can-we-have-two-player.html) but the NES Double Dragon is still a fun game.  Hell, the opening music to it is my ringtone (as if you care).  The story is a little farfetched (sarcastically thinking, "shocker for an NES game").  You have to go through hell to rescue your woman who was kidnapped, by your brother in the NES game.  In comparison with the other games on here, not as tough but still an enjoyable fight to the end.  The last stage is always a challenge.  For anyone old enough to remember playing this on the NES, am I the only one who thought I was brilliant by finding the glitch walking up the wall in the first stage and leaving the ninja at the top of the platform in the second?  To find out later that the whole Internet knew about it really deflated my ego.    


8.) Dragon Warrior - Ahhh…Dragon Warrior, a classic.  The first RPG released on the NES and a damn good one to boot.   It is fun and simple with a good storyline that makes the whole game engaging.  It is worth your time to sit down with it.  And, unlike current RPGs, it won't take you 100+ hours to beat it.

 
9.) Final Fantasy - Merely coincidence that right after I discuss the first RPG for the NES is Final Fantasy, which many argue is the best RPG for the NES.  And, who am I to disagree.  Who would have known a college drop-out named Hironobu Sakaguchi would have changed RPGs forever by creating Final Fantasy and turning it into a colossal RPG franchise.  It is a great, challenging RPG that will run much longer (for me at least) and more compelling than Dragon Warrior (which was this carts influence).   


10.) Kid Icarus - When I was a child in the Chicagoland 'burbs, this game was impossible to find.  I am not sure why.  I would make it a habit to look for it everywhere I would shop.  I ended up finding it at a Woolworth after nearly a year of searching.  I know that some circles feel that Kid Icarus is overrated, I am not one of those.  Built on the Metroid engine, it is just a solid adventure game with some great twists throughout.  And, with a new Kid Icarus coming out for the Nintendo 3DS, this would be as good a time as any to take this one out.


11.) Kirby's Adventure - One of the best games on the NES and was missed by so many who had already abandoned the 8-bit era for the more powerful Genesis or TurboGraffix.  Kirby was stylistically one of the best games and was a blast to play.  While the game really isn't hard, it is fun and that was what made the NES a great system, the games were fun.  A straight-up platformer where you cotrol Kirby through different levels with lots of interesting enemies and some nice mini-games.


12.) The Legend of Zelda - For some reason when I was young I resisted Zelda.  I am not sure why, it just didn't seem to appeal to me when I would see it in Nintendo Power. Then, when I finally caved and bought it, I realized how misguided I was.  A fabulous, challenging game that I could easily make an argument should hold the title of best game over the (mostly) mutually agreed upon Super Mario Bros. 3 for the NES.   It is a fun quest with all kinds of great enemies and different twists.  Unlike Castlevania II, I would recommend playing this without any help from the Internet, you should be able to figure everything out and it will make it a longer and more enjoyable experience.  Also, don't forget about the second quest.


13.) Mega Man 2 - Tough but not too tough is the best way to describe Mega Man 2.  It falls as my favorite of the series for the NES and should be relished and enjoyed.  It basically took everything good from Mega Man and made them better.  A challenging game with great graphics, sound, and game play.  It is worth going through and shouldn't take you too long to beat.


14.) Mega Man 3 - Not too much more to say here that I didn't say about Mega Man 2.  The Mega Man series are all solid titles.  When putting this list together I wasn't positive which ones to even put on here.  I liked 2 and 3 the best and since it is my list, that is what we are going with.  A great game - like all of them.


15.) Metroid - If you live in a cave and have never played through Metroid and have no idea of the secrets behind it I won't ruin it for you (especially since you are the one person left on this earth who had been stranded below ground for the last two decades) but will tell you to try to go through the game quickly.  A great shooter/adventure game.  I talked about Kid Icarus earlier and while they are similar, Metroid is the much better game and should be played through first.  It hosts fun power-ups and some challenging level design.  In junior high, this was the first game that I actually drew out the maps to find where I was going; you spoiled young kids now have that Internet.


16.) Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! - When I was in 8th grade I beat Mike Tyson.  It was an absolute pain to do but I did it.  And, no one believed me.  It wasn't that beating Tyson was impossible but it is not easy.  The first half of the game is pretty easy but it does bring some challenges later in the game.  If you really want to add some challenge, don't use the Internet and try to learn the different patterns of each of the boxers through trial-and-error.


17.) Ninja Gaiden - Somewhere The Simpsons Comic Book Guy is saying, "hardest…game…ever."    Man, this is one unforgiving title.  Just when you think you have it figured out and get a little cocky a giant bird will knock you right out of mid-air.  This is the one game that I honestly feel I beat because of luck more than because I was just that damn good at it.  I played through it in high school and just kept at it until I made it through.  This is "NES tough" personified.  That being said, it is a great story that is just fun to play.  You will curse, you will spit, and you will possibly maim someone or something while playing it but in the end you will be happy you did it.


18.) Ninja Gaiden II - For whatever reason, I didn't find Ninja Gaiden II to be as tough.  That isn't to say that it was easy because it isn't.  It just seems the team over at Tecmo tried to take it a little easier on us.  Some have referenced that it is the fact that it is easier as a negative against Ninja Gaiden II.  I don't though.  I do agree that I like the first one better, but I found Gaiden II to be solid.  It is definitely worth the time and effort to beat as it is no cake walk, just not AS ridiculous as its predecessor.  


19.) River City Ransom - Another beat-em-up but not just another beat-em-up.  River City Ransom meshes a regular street fighting game with some RPG qualities and then gives it a sense of humor.   While not the hardest game on this list, not a simple walkthrough either, especially later in the game.  When I was kid, I remember having a very in-depth conversation on the school bus about the potential of a River City Ransom and Double Dragon combination taking the best elements of each and merging them into one game.  Now, I look back and think I was a fool seeing as this game (and Double Dragon for that matter) stands up perfectly well on its own.  "BARF!"

  
20.) Star Tropics - I know what you are thinking, "Star what now?"  Star Tropics didn't get a whole lot of love in the NES days.  In fact, I didn't sit down with it until 15 years later when it came in a lot of games I picked up on eBay.  I instantly fell in love with it.  It is just a unique adventure game that has a strong Zelda feel to it.    Graphically it is superior to a great deal of NES carts and just everything about it was good.  I loved the tropical setting and enjoyed the entire adventure.


21.) Super Mario Bros. - The classic game.  There really isn't much to say.  I do recommend beating the game without warping.  I know that will add a bit of time to the experience but you will enjoy it more.  If you have beaten it and would like to run through it again, perhaps try to do it without continuing.  There are challenges that remain.


22.) Super Mario Bros. 2 - I am not going to lie, I didn't want to put this game on here.  I am not a huge fan.  See http://www.geekyclown.com/2010/05/why-ending-of-super-mario-bros-2-really.html and http://www.geekyclown.com/2010/02/saturday-nights-afterpartybar-video_13.html and you will understand.  But, I can't not put it on here either.  It was a staple in the NES library and it was one of the best selling games so I can't recommend not beating it.  I just hate the ending and the fact that we were not allowed the real game because we were thought to be not good enough to handle Nintendo's tough game.  But, graphically and sound are great.  There isn't much of a challenge to it, in my opinion, but worth a completion anyway.


23.) Super Mario Bros. 3 - The king of NES.  This one does truly have it all - great graphics, great gameplay, a high level of difficulty, fun levels, and all kinds of little intricacies.  Hell, I remember I paid actual money to see The Wizard in the theater just because they were going to show the game for the first time.  I have mentioned a few times on here that this has been considered by most Internet experts (i.e. self-proclaimed experts) to be the best game on the NES and while you can make arguments for some others, there is no denying that this is a top 2 game and needs to be on this list.


24.) Tecmo Super Bowl - Tecmo Bowl was a classic and Tecmo Super Bowl took everything that was great about its predecessor and made it better.  Pick your favorite team (may I suggest the Bears) and play through to the Super Bowl.  Just a classic, fun way to play football before Madden would come out on the Genesis a few years later and change everything.


25.) Zelda II: The Adventure of Link - A good adventure game that I have beaten now on the NES and GameBoy (just grabbed it on GameBoy recently that is why I mention it).  I will also mention a quick story of why I had to play through it twice on GameBoy.  I believe I was in castle six or seven and I grabbed a key and unlocked a door.  I ended up having to fight a knight who ended up pushing me into the lava killing me (yeah, I suck).  When I went back the door was back but the key was gone.  The game glitch made it so I wouldn't be able to finish the game.  Not that I hold a grudge, but I will never forgive that game for that.  Anyway, the game itself is great.  It can run a little long and annoying with having to gain experience but it also has a prostitute who lives in each town, and how many games pre-1993 can claim that.  Definitely worth your time especially if you are a fan of the series.  And make sure to say, "hi" to Error for me.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Level 3 vs. Comcast - In a Nutshell

How the last couple of day's events have panned out...

Level 3, who owns NetFlix, announces rate increases

> Level 3's PR team puts out a press release about Comcast forcing the rate increase by upping bandwidth charges

> Comcast states there is no wrong doing by Comcast for the rate increase

> Really rich stockholders at Comcast make more money, really rich stockholders at Level 3 make more money

> Sucks to be me who subscribes to both

Point a FatCow Domain to Blogger

I recently moved my hosting from FatCow to Blogger but didn't know (because I am not too smart (and it was rather hidden)) that there was a separate place that I needed to disable automatic renewals and that was the domain.  So there I was with a domain name and no hosting.  I looked at Blogger's help materials and they had several of the "big" hosting companies but not FatCow.  I looked all over and couldn't find any materials so thought I would write a post on how to point a FatCow domain to Blogger (or Blogspot).

1.) First thing, from FatCow's Web site, click on 'Control Panel'
2.) Then, click on 'Custom DNS Record'
3.) Select the domain name from the drop-down under 'Primary Domain' and click 'Go'
4.) Under the 'Points to IP' there should be an IP address right underneath that says, "To route your web traffic to FatCow, set this value to ###.###.###.###".  It doesn't make much sense since our goal is to route our traffic not to FatCow but to Blogger but you do enter that number where it says, 'Points to IP'
5.) Under 'Subdomains' put a 'www' next to your domain name in "1."
6.) Under 'Points to IP/Domain/Alias:' put in 'ghs.google.com' (without the ')
7.) Under 'Wildcards' in 'Points to IP/Domain/Alias' point to the IP address you put in for #4
8.) Under 'Mail', under 'MX1 Priority:' put in '10' and under 'Points to Alias/Domain' put in mx.fatcow.com

That should do it.  What a pain in the butt!


30 Down, a Whole Helluva Lot to Go

Last week I talked about taking on the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (orig site: http://www.1001beforeyoudie.com/) and have gotten 30 done.  Thus far, it has been an incredibly rewarding and fun experience.  I am a little concerned when I start getting to albums that I can't listen to on Grooveshark http://listen.grooveshark.com/ or be able to check out of the library.   Anyway, in case you frequent this site (there are a few of you) and haven't checked it out, I have a page that has the album with a little mini-review.  Feel free to use the comments section to discuss music.  There will be more "techy" posts coming soon, maybe even today seeing as I guess I should do something work related one of these days.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Disconnect Terminal Services Sessions with ColdFusion

I was hit with this today so thought I would write it up quickly while it is still in my mind.  I needed to write an admin tool that could show Windows terminal services sessions and also could disconnect them.

There are Windows tools in place to do this so I just used <cfexecute> to call those.  This way, from a Web page, we can fire up the necessary tools.  Anyway, here we go...

To show the sessions:
<cfexecute name="c:\WINNT\system32\query.exe"
     arguments="session"
     variable="data"
     timeout="10">
</cfexecute>
<cfoutput>
<cfdump var="#data#">
</cfoutput>

To disconnect the sessions (for this project I only had to disconnect two licenses so I disconnected them, if there are more, you will need to disconnect each on in the arguments of the <cfexecute>  tag):
<cfexecute name="c:\WINNT\system32\tsdiscon.exe"
     arguments="1"
     timeout="10">
</cfexecute>

<cfexecute name="c:\WINNT\system32\tsdiscon.exe"
     arguments="2"
     timeout="10">
</cfexecute>

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Quick Tech Tip: Access the Desktop when a Virus Knocks it Out

I helped a coworker today who snagged a virus (av8 to be exact) and thought I would do a quick write up of what to do if you can't even get to your desktop.

His problem: AV8.exe took over his machine (Windows 7 machine) and when he rebooted the machine, it gave the log-on page and after that it was just black.  He couldn't access the desktop.  That was when panic set in for him.

The easiest solution to this problem is to CTRL-ALT-DELETE and bring up the 'Task Manager'.  Click the 'Applications' tab if it isn't defaulted.  Once up, click the lower-right-hand button for 'New Task'.  Then type 'explorer.exe'.  This will bring up Windows Explorer and you should be able to access programs that will help to eliminate the virus. 

It is always a good idea to have a back up CD or Flash drive with Malwarebytes, an anti-virus program, and CCleaner for situations where you cannot use the programs loaded on the hard drive.

BTW, if you are curious how to get rid of AV8 or Antivirus8, here is what I did (this is for Windows 7).

End the process: av8.exe

Delete the following registry keys (never mess with your registry without backing it up):
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\A88246
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\WinJS (it also can be WinFD)
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run (find AV8 and delete)
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\explorer.exe

Then delete the .lnk from the desktop, and C:\program files\av8.  Then do a search of your C:\ and search for av8 and see if you find any other remnants.  Reboot.  Run virus scan to grab anything that may be missed.  Don't click Antivirus8 again!

1001 Albums I Must Hear Before I Die

With two jobs, a three-year-old, this blog, attempting to have some semblance of a social life, a mountain of games that I have purchased and never played, and keeping up with new programming and technical skills, I have discovered that I have plenty of spare time to take on a new project.  This one I am going to do is the '1001 Albums you Must Hear Before you Die' (http://www.1001beforeyoudie.com or buy the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die).  I will use this blog to keep up with this as I go through the albums and even give a score of my opinion (as if you care) of the album from 1-100 (100 being best).  I will keep up with the information on my page, titled - '1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die' - http://www.geekyclown.com/p/1001-albums-you-must-hear-before-you.html.  I will also listen to any album that I have already heard just to be precise and also to be able to give an accurate score. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Quick Review: Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon


My three-year-old and I were perusing the local library looking for a game and she quickly became enamored with Square's Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon.  I tried to explain to her that it wasn't what she thinks it was but the cutesy duck on the cover outweighed any insight I can give into the world of RPGs.  My three-year-old is a sucker for the Sonic the Hedgehog's of gaming, not for a 40+ hour, redundant RPG based on story, spells, and leveling up.

Anyway, I lost the battle and we brought home Chocobo's Dungeon.  Once in, she kept asking, "when do we play?"  I repeated the importance of patience when it comes to RPGs.  After the beginning of the story unfolded, Chocobo tended to be the stereotypical, yet overly simple, JRPG.  A cutesy little duck going from dungeon to dungeon to complete relatively simple tasks. 

Once we had the game going there were two things that I noticed, I was impressed with the soundtrack and this game was too involving for a three-year-old and too dull and cutesy for yours truly.  The slow moving pace and simple layouts just never held my interest but I could see where this would be a great stepping stone for a nine through twelve-year-old gamer just starting out in the world of RPG.

Either way, I played through about five hours of the game.  I would have stopped about two hours in but my three-year-old enjoyed the story and liked watching and maneuvering Chocobo.  I don't think she is ready for old school Phantasy Star Portable yet, but the time is coming.

Final anlysis: Graphics: not bad, but it is Wii so wasn't expecting too much.  Audio:  the highlight of the game, definitely its biggest selling point.  Playability: the controls were ok.  It didn't really take advantage of the Wii-mote where it could have in some situations.  Fun:  if you are over the age of fifteen, you may find it a bit dull and slow moving.  If you are under the age of seven, it may be a bit too involving.  And, if you fall in between, it should be just right.  Grade: C-

Friday, November 12, 2010

How to play the New Super Mario Bros. 3 DS on your PC with Ease

With the Super Mario All-Stars: Limited Edition coming out, I have a new nostalgia for the old NES games.

Here is what I learned about how to play Super Mario Bros. 3 using the New Super Mario Bros. for DS' game engine on your PC, but I cannot tell you exactly how to do this - but I can give you some helpful hints...

Anyway - make your life easy and create a folder for this project and put everything in it!

Then - grab yourself a copy of no$gba.exe it's a Nintendo DS Emulator - here (http://www.emulator-zone.com/doc.php/gba/nocashgba.html)

Then, you need to make sure you have the following:

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=new+super+mario+bros+ds+%5Bu%5D

Then...

Go here:

http://hotfile.com/dl/82200862/b00459d/New_Super_Mario_Bros._3_by_SKJmin.rar.html

And follow the instructions...

After unzipping/installing and following the README instructions, you should be ok.

- Reduce your screen resolution to 800x600: Right-click desktop>Personalization>Display>800x640

- Start by right-clicking nbo$gba > Properties > Display Settings>Run in 640x480
Open program - find your game from the read me.

- (once open) - in non$gba Open > Emulation tab > NDS Cartridge Backup Media > FRAM 32 KBytes

Have fun - comment if still problems.