Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tunes for Tuesday: Guns N' Roses at Leeds 2010

This past weekend Axl Rose showed that even after all these years and all of the loss in sales, he is still a prima donna showing up onstage an hour late and then throwing a hissy fit when they had to cut the show short because it violated curfew.

Watch the hissy fit here (some NSFW language from the drunken crowd and the prima donna himself)...


Anyway, after all is said and done, I still like Guns N' Roses. Actually, let me rephrase that, I like 'Appetite for Destruction' and some of the 'Lies' and the 'Use Your Illusions'. My 'Tunes for Tuesday' (which is a name I just came up with right now, you get it...it's Tuesday...and these are tunes) is the BBC audio of the Leeds festival that Axl claimed he wasn't going to play (he was nice enough to only show up a half-hour late this time). Not really because the current version of Guns N' Roses is worth much but it is a nice sounding show, it is timely, and it makes me nostalgic for my Freshman year of college when Axl would throw all kinds of tantrums while touring 'Use Your Illusion'.

Like these hissy fits here (more NSFW language pretty much just by the prima donna himself)...


I'm sure I could find more but, I think you get the point.

This is from the user estebanf - www.estebanfbootlegs.com.ar

Guns N' Roses
Leeds Festival 2010
Bramham Park - Leeds, England
August 29th, 2010

Total Size: 33.4MB (35 098 904 bytes)
Duration: 26:26.969 (69985340 samples)
Sample Rate: 44100 Hz
Channels: 2
Codec: MP3 Codec
Profile: MP3 VBR estimated 180 kbps
Encoding: lossy

01- Welcome To The Jungle (5:31)
02- This I Love (5:17)
03- Street Of Dreams (4:52)
04- November Rain (10:46)

Give it a listen from http://rapidshare.com/files/415971153/GNR-LEEDS2010BBC-ESTEBANF.rar.html

Monday, August 30, 2010

My Tearful Video Game Past - a Follow Up

A few months ago I wrote a post called Another time when gaming screwed me…and not in a good way (tl;dr basically got a job in high school working with the guys from EGM and gave my tip for Dungeon Explorer but didn't get credit because I "worked there" even though I didn't - I worked for a different company and they didn't want to give me the credit (or the free game)).

Anyway, I happened to be on http://www.retromags.com yesterday (great site BTW) and stumbled on EGM Issue 16. That was the issue. It felt good to have the scab pulled right off and the burn set back in. Internet, you spite me again - you bastard!

Dear Nintendo of America, I have some Advice for you...

I have been meaning to write about this but, like so many other things, it keeps getting swept under the rug. Anyway, as I discussed in my post Shadow of the Ninja: I Don’t Mean to Toot my Own Horn but…Toot, Toot, Nintendo of America must sit and wait for GeekyClown to send out a post on what they should do next so here it is - release Xenoblade in America. One of the things I was really hoping to hear about at E3 this year was Xenoblade being released in the states and, to my dismay, was let down. I realize that Nintendo is trying to stick to their core character games, Metroid, Mario, and Zelda to keep the casual gamer market busy. Hell even Super Mario Galaxy 2 (arguably the best game for the Wii right now) is simplistic in nature so that the one or two hour a week gamer can just pick it up and play without having to break out the manual or having to practice repeatedly to get combinations, etc. down. That is why many hardcore gamers consider the Wii the weakest of the current generation systems - it doesn't have many games that appeal to the hardcore gamer.

That brings me to Xenoblade - what looks to be a great RPG. I can't say for certain since I haven't had the ability to play it, because, as of right now, it is only released in Japan. That being said, graphically it looks to be one of the highlights of the Wii's library and the soundtrack sounds incredible. However, Nintendo seems content to leave the hardcore gamers to their 360 and PS3, while giving the masses their fill of Mario. So, Nintendo if you are reading - do me a favor and go ahead and release Xenoblade here and let me be able to use my Wii for something more than Super Mario Galaxy and Wii Resort. Thank you. GeekyClown

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bowser: Misogynistic Sociopath, Vengeful Racist or Misunderstood Koopa?

Bowser, wot's...uh, the deal?

Misogynist or Power Monger
Bowser's tactics have become rather trite. We have all seen it a good half dozen times, Kidnap Princess Peach in attempts to take over Mushroom Kingdom. I guess I should start by asking, is his need to kidnap Princess Peach required to take over Mushroom Kingdom or does he have a deep rooted fear and hatred of women? I mean, let's look at it realistically, if Mushroom Kingdom has so many different types of inhabitants, wouldn't they have some sort of branches of government or, perhaps a class system. Couldn't a simple coup with Bowser, his eight children, and his minions grant him the power of Mushroom Kingdom without the need for the kidnapping? Her grandfather is the chancellor - why not kidnap him? Wouldn't that grant him the same power over the people of Mushroom Kingdom?

This is the fundamental problem with Bowser's uninventive and Wile E. Coyote-esque plans and why they, generally (unless you suck at Mario games), are thwarted in the end. Speaking of his eight kids, where the hell is the mother? Could this play yet another role in his misogyny? What could a woman do to this powerful king to make him repeatedly want to hold the Princess captive and grasp for power over a bunch of tiny Toads he should be able to bowl over with little effort? Then to view Bowser, the studded bracelets and necklaces, show a little fetish history. Perhaps the Kooplings mama wasn't into that. Also, perhaps the constant need to hold the Princess captive works with his control fetish. Or maybe Princess Peach is the baby's mama? There has to be a reason she changed her name from Princess Toadstool to Princess Peach - what is she hiding?

What kind of childhood did Bowser have? Was his own mommy not there? Or, perhaps overbearing, stripping him of his masculinity at an early age requiring him to become combative and destructive. Couple that with the loss of his baby's mama and we can see a pattern of woman bashing by Bowser. Perhaps years of sitting in seedy, smoky bars seeing the Mario's of the world hop through life grabbing the Princesses with little effort while he reminisces on the rivers of unresolved issues he has with his clingy, overbearing mother made him finally snap.

Does he just hate all those Not Koopa?
Maybe his grabbing Princess Peach and longing to rule Mushroom Kingdom has nothing to do with his horrific childhood and his M.I.A. baby's mama. Maybe Mario is the culprit of this whole ordeal. Is it jealousy, had Mario wronged him at some point and this is revenge, or does he just not like Italians? Could Bowser be a racist? He refuses to live in a world where the Toads and the Koopas can live together in harmony. Perhaps his need for kingdom domination has more to do with his need to dissipate the Toad species. When Mario jumps over the fake Bowser in the castles to release a Toad is that Toad being held captive? Are those "castles" really nothing more than war camps?

Then I am forced to think of Super Mario Bros. 3 and the warships and armies he has amassed. Is the need for such a powerful militia needed to simply take over Mushroom Kingdom or is there something more sinister involved? Is Bowser not looking to become the king of both the Toads and the Koopas but to have one master race of Koopas and an annihilation of the Toads. Could Bowser be that big of a cold hearted, Toad hating bastard?

Maybe just a little Misunderstood
On the other hand, maybe he just needs a friend. He really just wants to play Mario Party but always has the role of mixing up the capsules and making the last five rounds hell. He is a fun competitor in Mario Kart even though Toad is still the best. Maybe it is Mario that is just a punk that is too self absorbed to see that Bowser could be a good ally instead of a nemesis. Bowser just may want what all powerful Koopas want, love. After his tough childhood and abandoning baby's mama, years of despair may have finally sunk in and the poor guy just needs a shoulder to cry on and a buddy to take him out for a drink. But what does Mario and his bastard brother do? Kick the guy when he is down. No wonder he is so pissed off. Wouldn't you be when you look back at the shambles of your life while someone keeps jumping on your head and chucking fireballs at you. You are a mean mother Mario and one day I hope you will get what comes to you, and I am not just talking about the forced celibacy because Princess Toadstool/Peach still has her heart set on her big baby's daddy. You can push your inadequate brother around and prove your superiority over a broken Koopa all you want - but, in the end, all it really shows is you are the one with a problem.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

'Splatterhouse' 20 years of Classic Horror Clichés

As a horror movie buff, I thought I would take an opportunity to do a review of sorts of 'Splatterhouse' on the TurboGrafx-16 as it celebrates its 20th anniversary. 'Splatterhouse' takes on the ideas and clichés of horror movies and incorporates them into a video game. This was way before 'Resident Evil'-esque games were even a concept. You could argue that the Atari 2600 had 'Halloween' and 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' and the NES had 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' and 'Friday the 13th' (all the aforementioned sucked ridiculously) but those were movie remakes not original titles.

The game pays homage to some classic horror movies you would be able to catch late on a Saturday night, most notably 'Evil Dead' and, of course, 'Friday the 13th'. Let's face a simple fact, dude wears a hockey mask in 'Splatterhouse'. Even though it is changed to a red hockey mask in the TurboGrafx version, a jacked dude walking around in a hockey mask wielding a 2x4 is Jason Voorhees - I don't care what color the mask is and what you rename the character.

'Splatterhouse' was around before 'Mortal Kombat' made it into the arcade let alone before an appearance on a home console in 1993, making this the goriest game ever ported to a home console by a credible video game company (Namco) at the time. Even the manual's story screams of blood and gore. "Rick's unconscious body was covered with blood. Hours later, Rick awoke to a fantastic horror - he was alone and drenched in blood." In fact, it was gory enough to have a pseudo-warning stating, "The horrifying theme of this game may be inappropriate for young children...and cowards." My guess, this was to appease the Tipper Gore types and also to slight them at the same time. Either way, as a kid, that gave a feeling of taboo like when I purchased a 2 Live Crew album when I knew I shouldn't.

The story of 'Splatterhouse' is relatively simple and ridiculous - just like the storylines of most horror movies. "A Boom of Thunder...Darkness...a Scream...and then!" - not to knit pick the manual but should "and then" really end with an exclamation point? Anyway, college students Rick and Jennifer are freaking stupid and decide to check out a mansion that they know has an evil, crazy doctor (Dr. West) doing demonic experiments in it but don't seem to give a damn which leads me to believe parapsychology as a major leads to severe and irreversible brain damage. Perhaps an argument could be made that the evil, crazy doctor named Dr. West could be the Japanese game developers perceptions of those of us living in the West. Anyway, it starts to rain so Rick and Jennifer go inside the mansion and someone or something attacks them and snags Jennifer and leaves Rick for dead. Following classic horror movie mentality, the whatever the hell it is that attacks them leaves one of them for dead when clearly he is not. Rick comes to and finds himself under the influence of a Mayan artifact named a "terror mask". Once again the originality of video game developers of the 1980's astounds me. Apparently "scary mask", "evil mask", and "I'm going to kill you mask" were taken by other up-and-coming franchises. So Rick makes it his mission to go and find Jennifer and whoop the ass of any other demonic creatures he encounters.

The novelty of the gore and blood brought out the feeling of playing a horror movie. The late 80's/early 90's were renowned for overly gory slasher and splatter films which gave the macabre feel of 'Splatterhouse' its highest points. The feeling that you were playing a movie - especially a horror movie made the game fun. On top of which, the music had an eerie, horror film feel that added to the role playing fun of the hero (who most I have ever discussed 'Splatterhouse' with thought was actually the antagonist but since the story is so cryptic, it didn't matter).

Unfortunately those are the high points of the game. The game itself is short and rather easy - as were most of the actresses in late 80's/early 90's horror movies (zing!). I remember playing it in a friend's basement right when it came out and us tearing through it in an evening. The action is rather clumsy as are the controls. And, let's be honest, the twists and turns that they throw at us are rather cliché and juvenile (as is most the 80's and early 90's horror films). I don't want to give away any spoilers of a twenty year old game (the girlfriend is really a monster) but it has been done. They may as well have had Jennifer become Rick's twin brother and they have to duke it out.

The arcade was much better (as in most cases) and more gore and more blood could have been incorporated. Also, I am not going to lie, it pisses me off they changed the mask from white to red. Of the TurboGrafx titles, this doesn't stand out for its playability and certainly not for its replay ability but for its historical significance and killer music (get it, killer music?) Is it worth the 600 Wii points to get on Virtual Console? No.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My 6 Wishes for Internet Explorer 9

I realize that I have been M.I.A. lately doing like, work type stuff. Since September 15 is coming around the bend and Microsoft's IE9 Beta should be rearing its ugly head, I thought I would take a moment and give some last minute wishes to include in their newest browser.

Actual CSS3 and HTML 5 Support I know Microsoft has been spouting on and on about IE 9 and its ability to do everything HTML 5 and CSS3. They have pulled claims such as these in the past and have a history of showing that what they say and what they do are two completely different things. Since this new technology is still not supported across the board, this could help to garner a little bit of their falling market share.

Speed it Up Already Google Chrome and Opera have both claimed to be the fastest browser available. Some FireFox fanboys will claim that FireFox still speeds by them. Regardless, all of them run rings around IE. If it is to compete, they will need to find a way to make the browsing experience faster.

Get Rid of Compatibility Mode This was a huge drawback for IE8 - having to know to click a special 'Compatibility' button on certain sites so that it renders correctly. Get rid of this and have the browser render the page correctly intrinsically without requiring a user command.

Give Users the Ability to have Complete Control of Privacy and Security Too many times in the past have I found certain sites that I visit just don't work because something is being blocked in IE - whether it be a cookie, a downloadable file, etc. I realize that Microsoft is trying to save certain users from themselves and keeping things like this from being set or allowing a download. For advanced users, give us the ability to make that decision on our own. They can set the defaults as high as they would like.

Simplify Internet Options All other browsers have relatively straight forward 'fine tuning' options. IE has been using the same tab system since IE5. Simplify and merge several tabs. Right off the top of my head, 'Security' and 'Privacy' can be merged. 'Connections' and 'Programs' can be merged. 'Content' can be added to 'Advanced'. That would leave four tabs - a lot more usable like FireFox and Chrome.

Do Something, Anything Innovative Microsoft has used the last two browsers to play catch up with the rest of the industry and hasn't added anything new. It is time. Show us that there is a reason to come back and ditch Chrome, FireFox, Opera, or Safari.

BONUS: Automatically Detect if the User is Using IE6, give them the proverbial Microsoft backhand, and Force an Upgrade I know it is wishful thinking but anything to kill IE6 would be nice.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Condescending Help Desk "Specialist" Plus WordPress Glitch Fix

Yesterday GeekyClown had a problem. I tried to update the Professor Frink post from half-a-year ago and all of a sudden *poof* all of my posts and all of my pages were gone. I went to the chat window at FatCow and was told that they would have to kick it over to the "technical specialists". Fine, I figured it was a database issue seeing as the content was no longer there.

Response from "technical specialist"...

It appears that you have not properly added the reference link to the navigation bar in the WordPress website. Hence, please log into the WordPress Admin page http://geekyclown.com and correct it. In general, we do not provide support for custom code or custom scripts. The tools we provide are meant only for advanced users and for users who are knowledgeable enough to manage their scripts using those tools.

If you have limited experience or knowledge about server-side scripting and troubleshooting custom code, we strongly recommend that you look into hiring a web developer to assist you.

If you have any further questions, please update the Support Console.

Wait...what? I was trying to update a post, I didn't code anything. And, being a Web developer for the last decade, I had to wonder where would be a good place I could find one to hire. Since the "technical specialist" had written this off as a coding issue, I figured I would have to look into it myself. Since my first thought was that it was a database issue - I went into the myPHP and repaired the database and *poof* everything was back.

I have worked help desk before and realize that there will be a lot of stupid questions that they deal with. Most inquiries will be by those who are less than tech-savvy. I suppose, I should have tried to repair the database before contacting help desk but, with the history I have found with FatCow, it very well could have been an outage. Either way, the condescending tone and incorrect information is what angered me.

If you are going to accuse someone of breaking their own site, at least be sure that is what is wrong. After I did a repair on the database, I did a Google search and saw that having your posts and pages disappear when doing an update is a common WordPress glitch and the fix is...wait for it...gasp...repair the database. Oh well, live and learn I suppose. This post had very little to do with gaming, IT, the Web, or really anything else of merit. I suppose if anyone has the same issue, this post will come up in Google and they will know to repair the database if they mysteriously lose all of their content when updating. I think the whole reason for this is that I am pissed at their "technical specialist" and felt a need to vent. Which I did...now I feel better - thanks for listening.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Ikari Warriors (NES) Then and Now - I'm an Idiot

NOTE: Before I anger anyone, I do realize that Ralf and Clark originated here and would later become the 'King of Fighters' and ended up in 'Metal Slug' games so don't get your panties too much in a bunch over my short rant. I'm not knocking either of those series.

When I was a kid, I got 'Ikari Warriors' (NES) in a trade for 'Pro Wrestling'. Seeing as I thought 'Pro Wrestling' was an average game and had never played 'Ikari Warriors' (you have enjoy junior high mentality, "I never played it but the arcade is awesome so the NES version has to be, right?") I went ahead and jumped at the trade. I am not going to lie. I loved Ikari Warriors. For awhile I even would put it ahead of some greats as 'Kid Icarus' (don't hate on 'Kid Icarus', haters) and 'Castlevania'. In hindsight, I believe that I was just compensating mentally at the fact that I may have made an inferior trade, but I digress.

That brings me to last night. I was bored and threw 'Ikari Warriors' in. I hadn't played it since the Genesis had come out so I thought I would be in for an evening of nostalgic bliss. Instead I was in for a tear your eyes out and feed them to the dog snore fest. What the hell was this? I couldn't believe that I used to love this mountain of shit. I played through the first two levels and hung it up. I was floored. I went ahead and booted up MAME and played the arcade version, way better so I do realize that my mentality for wanting the game was valid - my youthful opinion of it, not so much. I guess, at the time, I also enjoyed Bon Jovi's 'Slippery When Wet' and thought JAMS were cool so I may have possibly been heavily into drugs and just had blocked that coke snorting era from my memory...or my opinion just wasn't worth much more than my baseball card collection seeing as I never cared for them and bent all the corners (I am a savage).

Anyway, here is my pseudo-review of then and now...

Why I loved it then?

- A-B-B-A...if you don't know what that means don't bother reading on.
- 2-player action.
- The main characters had a Rambo meets Arnie kinda vibe to them (hell the name came from the Japanese title Rambo: First Blood Part II - Rambo: Ikari no Dasshutsu).
- Guns, grenades, tanks, helicopters. Nothing seemed off limits.
- It starts with a plane crash that reminded me of the old Apple II game 'Wings of Fury'.

Why it sucks now?

- Soooooo slllooooowwwww.
- The controls suck. Right off the bat, the first thing I noticed. It was a pain in the ass to control where you are shooting.
- Why does the gun only shoot for a few feet? Even in the tank, with rockets, it doesn't go any farther. So, according to their design, a missile from a tank fires the same distance as a bullet from a gun. Not sure if science will agree with those logistics.
- The enemies when shot just float away. Annoying.
- I cannot comprehend the confusion I felt for the rocks with eyes that shoot arrows.
- There are only four levels and they are the most repetitive, boring, longest four levels in a game. Why not break the game up into eight levels and change the scenery a bit?

Need alcohol and 'Castlevania' immediately.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Chrome Users Make Facebook Better with FFixer

I talked in this post about ways to make Facebook better using Facebook Fixer in Google Chrome (Make Facebook Waaaay Better – Get Facebook Fixer). However, Facebook Fixer has some flaws with the newer builds of Chrome and apparently the woman that made it isn't planning on updating it. I ended up disabling it and using FFixer which has the same perks as Facebook Fixer but adds even more functionality.
Enhancements for Facebook: bigger profile pictures and photos, easier viewing of albums, links to download videos, showing people's age and sign, google calendar integration, bookmarks, keyboard shortcuts & more. Fully customizable!
Version: 2.1.8

Chrome users, here is a link to FFixer.

Play Atari 2600 Version of Halo

Ed Fries played a huge role in the original XBox in its infancy as VP of game publishing for Microsoft. He left in 2004 (after 18 years with Microsoft) and took part in some start-ups. Fries, a CS guru of the 80's, has a love for retrogaming and decided it would be worth his time to create a 2600 version of Halo. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I was one of the few with the Atari 800XL and disovered he coded for it which makes him even an even cooler geek in my eyes. Anyway, check out Halo 2600...