Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Extra Life 2014 - Four Days Away - What I'm Playing

I was unable to do the national Extra Life day this past Saturday due to prior engagements (I sounds so important).  However, the October 25th event was weak since it was just 24 hours long.  Out in my neck of the woods, we have daylight savings time coming this Saturday which means after I have been at it for eighteen hours and 2 a.m. hits, I go back to 1 a.m.  The Midwest is unforgiving.

So, how do I plan to occupy my 25 hours of gaming.

First and foremost, it has been a good two years since I completed Super Mario Bros.(the original NES) so that is what I plan to start with.  I know the levels 8-3 and 8-4 are going to anger me to my core like I was eleven years old again, and that I look forward to.

I plan to follow that with Contra.  Yes, I am going to be weak and use the 30-lives cheat.  I have too many games I want to play and don't want to have to quit only a couple hours in to choke elderly walkers by with my NES cord out of frustration.

I will close out my NES time with Double Dragon.  I'm coming for you machine gun Willie!

Then, I will spend some time finally with Casltevania: Symphony of the Night.  I have been talking about that on Twitter for weeks and really haven't put in the time that game deserves.

I know I have multiple friends who are planning on stopping by, quite possibly bringing alcohol (which may infringe on my goals - but alcohol), so Grand Theft Auto V will be a requirement.

Finally, I plan on spending more time with Alien Isolation.   I have to get by the damn droids.  Those bastards kill me waaaay more than the alien has thus far.

Any other suggestion, tweet to me @bbradley1975.  Also, anyone else doing Extra Life that evening, let me know - we can keep each other company.

If you are a kind soul and wish to support me, here is my Extra Life page.  I am currently at $0 which is just damn embarrassing.  I will be contributing my own money on Friday but perhaps there are people out there who do not hate children.  http://www.extra-life.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=105003

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Grass-fed Beef: Does it Matter?

The concept of grass-fed beef has become a huge trend the last decade.  In the early 2000's, it became the norm for television stations and articles to show thousands of cows placed, essentially, on conveyor belts waiting for slaughter in meat processing plants.  This led to a public outcry for safety and healthier options for getting better quality meat (the whole e coli outbreaks and mad cow disease during the past decade-and-a-half definitely played a role as well).  The answer to the outcry, grass-fed beef. 

America became abuzz from talk show hosts to our favorite cooking show personalities on the health benefits of eating grass-fed beef over the boring old grain-fed cattle.  These animals were, supposedly, treated more humanely, and the health benefits were to outweigh the larger price tags that went on the labels. 

Both grain-fed and grass-fed cows start out the same - on milk and grass when young.  Then the grain-fed are taken and fed out of feedlots whereas their grass-fed brethren continue to eat grass (as many pundits and Web sites I read state clearly, "as was intended").  The commercial consensus on grass-fed cows were that they contained more omega-3s, CLAs (Conjugated Linoleic Acid), were higher in Vitamin E, and contained higher concentrations of minerals like iron, zinc, and potassium.  It was all of these health benefits that manufacturers claimed was worth the hefty jump in price. 

That being said, Dr. Stephen B. Smith from Texas A&M published two studies on the subject.  His findings didn't match the claims of the manufacturers and TV personalities.  To summarize his findings, he found no scientific evidence to support grass-fed beef being any healthier than grain-fed beef.  To expand, his research found no difference in cholesterol from grass-fed to grain-fed.  He did find that grass-fed were higher in omega-3s (linolenic acid) as claimed where as grain-fed were higher in omega-9s (oleic acid) (the two are good for you, linolenic acid is more prevalent in canola oil whereas oleic acid is common in olive oils).  Furthermore, his findings found that the grain-fed were in fact lower in saturated/trans fat.   

Overall, red meat is good for us (in moderation of course, don't go grabbing a triple cheeseburger every day and wonder why your cholesterol levels are through the roof) but science seems to have stumped the marketers where there is no reason to pay extra for grass-fed beef.  Oh, to editorialize a moment, the USDA does in fact recognize grass-fed beef but there is very little oversight on it.  Pretty much anyone can slap a "grass-fed" sticker on their product with little worry of any form of prosecution.  If you don't believe me, check out the American Grass Fed Web site http://www.americangrassfed.org/ and look at how many producers of grass-fed beef there are for your state.  I'm willing to bet it is not nearly as many as you would think compared to the number of "grass-fed" beef you see advertised at supermarkets and farmer's markets. 

"Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences." Animal Science. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Aug. 2014. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Retro Tip: Beating Dracula in Super Castlevania IV

I was going to play Child of Eden last night but the realization that I needed to hook Kinect up in order to get the full enjoyment of it put a damper on that (because, well...I'm lazy).  So I decided to supplement Child of Eden with Super Castlevania IV.

I have beaten Super Castlevania IV twice in my life.  Once in the mid-90's and again about four years ago.  I always enjoyed the Castlevania series and since I am warming myself up for my anticipated copy of Symphony of the Night, I found this to be a fitting title for my Wednesday night gaming.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen that I was not so thrilled with my rusty abilities after four years of no Castlevania training.

So now, here I am at work pondering if I will be able to once again beat Castlevania IV prior to my copy of Symphony of the Night coming in (expected delivery is today).  I have plans this weekend so beating both games is out of the question - especially since I have not played SotN yet.  The conundrum, beat Castlevania IV for a third time or just move on to its successor.  

While I ponder this, I will admit that I did use a borderline cheat when beating Castlevania IV.  Dracula is just a pain to defeat without this little trick but I thought I would show anyone who doesn't know about it.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What I'm Playing this Week - October 1, 2014 Edition

Since I am dedicated to writing a post a day, I thought I would start simple and just say what I am playing this week.  I took the kind word of my terrific Twitter followers and picked up this bad boy for Symphony of the Night.

Seeing as SOTN was released in 1997, I guess it is about time I play it.  Plus I get Super Contra and Frogger to boot.  I'm hoping Super Contra isn't as ridiculously hard as the NES version but I have a feeling it will be.

Also, I started to play one of my favorite Zelda games again, Link to the Past for SNES.  It's been nearly twenty years (holy hell, did I just type that) since I beat it and thought I would go ahead and give it another go.  I have to say, even though I am only through the first dungeon, it still holds up.  Above and beyond that, it doesn't look terrible on my big screen flat panel HDTV.  I still cannot stand the dungeon rooms that require a torch.  Come on already!

Which leads me to this evening.  Generally speaking, Wednesday nights are my night's to just chill with a bottle of wine and catch up on a few hours of gaming.  Since Symphony of the Night hasn't come in yet, I will be trying something new that I picked up this week.  

This was basically a random pick-up I made.  I know absolutely nothing about it other than the pictures on the back of it looked really cool.  If you have any info, recommendations, etc. let me know on Twitter.  

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

PlayStation 1 Suggestions from Twitter

Earlier today I asked my Twitter followers for suggestions of PlayStation 1 games I should get to expand my collection.  I thought others may be interested in their suggestions.  If you have a suggestion for me that isn't on this list, go ahead and Tweet it to me at https://twitter.com/bbradley1975.

- Armored Core
- Blood Omen
- Bloody Roar
- Breath of Fire IV
- Castlevania - Symphony of the Night
- Chrono Cross
- Civilization 2
- Colin McRae Rally
- Crash Bandicoot
- Crash Bandicoot 2
- Crash Bandicoot 3
- Darkstalkers 3
- Driver
- Einhander
- Fear Effect 2
- Final Fantasy 7
- Final Fantasy 8
- Final Fantasy 9
- Final Fantasy Tactics
- Jet Moto 2
- Legend of Dragoon
- Medal of Honor
- Medieval
- Mega Man Legends
- Mega Max X4
- Metal Gear Solid
- Parasite Eve 2
- Persona 2
- Point Blank
- Resident Evil 2
- Silent Hill
- Soul Reaver
- Spyro
- Suikoden
- Suikoden 2
- Syphon Filter
- Super Puzzle Fighter
- Tai Fu: Wrath of the Tiger
- Tekken 2
- Tekken 3
- Tenchu
- Tony Hawk Skateboarding
- Twisted Metal
- Twisted Metal 2
- Vagrant Story
- Valkyrie Profile
- Wild 9
- Wipeout 3
- WWF Attitude
- Xenogears

Thursday, August 7, 2014

15-Year-Anniversary Series: Dragon Warrior

This is the first of a series of discussions celebrating the 15-year-anniversary for some popular NES titles. In 1989, the NES was at the top of the video game world.  The Atari 7800 and XE both flopped and the Sega Master System couldn't keep up with the Nintendo snowball of popularity (the Genesis did get released TECHNICALLY in August of '89 but that was in such limited quantities that it really wasn't a competitor…yet).  

Earlier that year, Ultima: Exodus was released and showed that there was a growing niche in console gaming for the RPG.   As a former FCI game counselor, I will hold back my editorializing of the NES release of Ultima for a later date (there are only so many times you can tell people that the sword was on a, "tiny two space island just north of the map" before you begin to lose your mind).  I digress.  With the success of Legend of Zelda, Nintendo began publishing more intricate titles in the late 80s.  Dragon Warrior was the necessary step between Zelda and Final Fantasy (which would be released a year later) even though there were several shortcomings.  Shortcomings aside, it did open up the world of the JRPG to the Western world. 

So, what do we know about Dragon Warrior…

Game: Dragon Warrior
Released: August, 1989 (US)
Developed:  Yuji Horii (known for Ultima and Wizardry)

Things you may not have known:
Name Change
- The Japanese title was Dragon Quest but had to be changed in the US to avoid copyright infringement of DragonQuest a card game RPG (think D&D).

Japanese to US Changes
- Since there was such a lengthy period between the releases, the graphics were improved from the Japanese to the American version.
- To add to that, they also removed the password system and replaced it with a battery backup.

-  Apparently America wasn't ready for "puff puff" or the art of a woman rubbing her boobies in someone's face.  They had taken that offering from one of the town folk out and replaced it with a simple offering of tomatoes.  That's like comparing, well, boobies to tomatoes.  

I remember reading the pre-release Electronic Gaming Monthly article calling Dragon Warrior the biggest game for Nintendo for 1989.  A year later, I asked David White (who was Quarterman at EGM at the time before his departure) why he made such a bold prediction and his theory was due to the popularity of the Japanese version.  In hindsight, remembering Dave's love for PC RPGs, it was more likely he was hoping for that genre to become mainstream and he would be the great predictor (a major reason for his departure was a failed PC mag that he orchestrated on the same subject).  Personally, I didn't mind Dragon Warrior.  I also don't recall completing it making me think I got bored with it.  It wasn't flashy by any means and it wasn't as intricate as the Final Fantasy series but it was a helluva lot better than Ultima.  I'd say it would be worth a play but you may get put off by the mechanics and the dialogue. 


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Final Eight Best Nintendo Characters

In honor of the NCAA Final Four coming around the corner, I decided to do a top eight Best Nintendo Character poll. Vote for your favorites. Voting for the final four will be Thursday with the final being Saturday. Cast now!

Yoshi vs. Star Fox
pollcode.com free polls 

Samus vs. Pikachu
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Link vs. Kirby
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Mario vs. Donkey Kong
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