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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Super Mario Galaxay - final thoughts....

There is something about video games that gives you a sense of adventure.....Back in the 8 bit days we had simple ones. Pac-Man, Popeye, BattleZone, Circus Atari. The characters consisted of Dots and the controls where a button and a joystick. most games only required you to move the character around and jump, or fire. But the games where simple, addictive, and fun.

Games have evolved since then...and have now entered the realm of 3D. Some have been succesful at the conversion. Others, like Sega's Sonic series, continue to struggle.

With Mario, it's been a mixed bag. I found Super Mario 64 rather boring, to be honest. Getting used to the 3D world and controls took a lot of the fun out of the game. So when Super Mario Sunshine came along a few years later, I was a bit iffy on giving it a chance. But, they improved...Mario had a fun new gadget, and graphics got a boost. While I found the game to be more fun than the original, it still didn't get a single replay from me.

So, you can imagine how I felt picking up Mario Galaxy. If 3D worlds where tough to navigate before, having a small tiny planet to circumnavigate would make you almost dizzy in confusion, right?

Yes, and no....

The game starts off simple enough in what could almost be considered the first theatrical mini movie for a Mario game. During the Star Festival, Peach gets kidnapped by Bowser when he takes the whole castle into another part of the galaxy...Mario gets blasted off into a tiny planet that King Kai might find homely, and his adventure begins...

One of the best things about this mario game, and for any kid who grew up in the 80's, is that it contains platform elements. something the last few where missing. Platform provides an annoying, but otherwise fun challenge that is easily defeatable with a bit of practice....something most 3D games forget about in their rush to impress you with a fully epxlor-able, but otherwise useless 3D world (looking at you Zelda). sometimes the game even goes into a 2.5D screen view, and it's almost like an update of the original super mario brothers from the NES days.

As whole, the controls leave a little bit to be desired. Sometimes if you go 'underneath' a planet, Mario will go the wrong way. You continue to point down, he'll circle around and go back up. There are also new elements that use the Wii remote, like a Star Ball that Mario has to balance on in order to move through a treacherous course...this can be frustrating, since there really seems to be no center of balance for the ball controls on the physical wii remote...a slight twist one way, and off the cliff you go. Other annoyances concern the joystick....Mine might be a bit faulty, but I find Mario will go off a cliff into a lava pit and die instantly, despite the stick being pointed in another direction.

But, if you can master, or work around these problems, you'll have the most fun in a 3D mario game to boot. All in all, Mario Galaxy is a welcome, well thought out addition to the Mario World, despite the fact that once again, Luigi is a useless character, only playable until the very end. This game is well worth $45's, I will be picking up the sequal.....along with what I hope will be Luigi's Mansion 2 being announced soon :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Proton Pack Prop Construction




This is one of those dream threads. Everyone wishes they could own a light saber, or a DeLorean, or even a KITT conversion. But this is one of those props that you can actually make a reality, thanks to the wonderful Ghostbusters community who put their time and money into developing and researching all of the main props from the first two Ghostbusters movies.....

On one dreary November day, my journey started. I opened up my package and bam, there was step one. My $150 Proton Pack, Vacuum Formed Shell... Now, lets run down the types of shells you can buy. Vacuum Formed: all plastic shell, usually with minimal details...with this type of shell, you have to put together allot more pieces of the puzzle. fiberglass: Usually an orange y colored shell. All minor details are usually included. Fiberglass shells take allot more effort and dedication and are usually more expensive in the $200 + range. And of course, Wood Shells: Mostly scratch built, glues and screwed in from scratch. Most stable of all, but also far more heavy to carry around.

for the purposes of this pack, I chose a Vacuum Formed model, as it will mostly be used as a learning process and display model. Unfortunately, this is where the pack build leaves off for a few months. It was such a daunting process, as I do not have much experience with tool use, that I decided to start with something that seemed far simpler at the time...

Thanks to Multimediamayhem.net, the Proton Gun Kit would soon arrive. At $150's, this unique kit has everything you need to build your own proton gun. And it includes a batch of stickers for both pack and gun. This is where part 2 will kick off with construction pics.....

Friday, July 9, 2010

Live from Bon Jovi










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This is going to be more a review of the actual experience, than of the concert itself, as this was my first time attending one, and I am not much of a music guy. So, here goes!

The first thing to do was set an arrival time. Since I wanted to ge some shots of the Race Taylor broadcast, we arrived around 3:30. Unfortunately, they were broadcasting inside, and even with my semi un-official PLJ status, would not be able to get into the stadium. So, back to the car it was to kill an hour and a half of time.

But first, we had to find our ticket lady. The PLJ guys had sent an intern out to give us our tickets, and at first we were supposed to meet her at a loading area. We found the loading area, but no intern.....only a bunch of busy security guys probably wondering what we where doing waiting around their area. So, we walked almost around the entire stadium, and no one in a PLJ shirt. We did, however, run into a nice lady and her son who were equally as clueless as to what was going on...After a few minutes of waiting, they wandered off, we did a 180, and finally found our intern....Tickets acquired!

5:30 rolled around and the gates opened. Made sure to be first in line to be patted down. In an OCD generation, do not want to be last after the gloved guys and gals decide to do a few strip searches on people before you arrive! It was pretty funny watching the reactions the works had when listening to the announcements over the loudspeaker. He was nodding his head over and over as he has already heard these things ad nauseum!

Gates open, crowd files in. Ask half a dozen people on where we are supposed to be going, wound up on an escalator, down a few flights of stairs, and found Race on the first floor. He had a decent crowd during the live breaks, went off to do an interview with Richie Sambora, and after an hour, we went to find our seats.










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Now, as for the actual concert experience...Our section didn't fill up until well around the time Kid Rock Showed up, so we had ample time to eat our fries (not bad) and get comfy... About 30 minutes late, a lady from I Think Q 104 came on stage, introduced the house band. Must be a thrill for them, but the lead singer knew full well that he was only a warm up for the main act, and played on that fact with the smattering of applause they received after each song with the small crowd there. They lasted on stage for an hour, then a recording of a Kid Rock song came on. The music was recorded, but as it turned out, the vocals where live. after the first few verses, the music stopped, and out came Kid Rock from underneath the stage.

Now, here is the problem I have with concerts. Especially in a bowl-shaped stadium like this. The music is sound is so loud in such a confined space, that It's really tough to understand the lyrics of certain songs. Add to that crowd reaction, and it makes it almost impossible to hear anything other than music. So, that's what I focused on. I had no idea what he was saying for most of the songs, but the music was enjoyable. Kid spent most of the show on a little walk out platform that put him behind in front of a small 'orchestra pit' of concert goers and right into the main crowd.

Kid Rock also lasted an hour or so, and by that time the sun had set and it was time for the main act. Also around this time, the PLJ listeners had filled up our seats, and we where all watching the daredevil stage hands pulling themselves up wires to reach the top of the stage area, where the lights were housed. Most probably to take down the huge glowing Kid Rock sign for Bon Jovi's arrival.

After about 30 minutes, the sun was gone, the lights turned off, and the screen displayed four guys walking 'toward us' in silhouette. Needless to say the crowd went wild, and when the decibel reached their peak, out came Bon Jovi. If the lyrics where tough to hear during Kid Rock, even the music got drowned out when bon Jovi played.

By this time, it was nearing 10:30. We stayed for four Bon Jovi songs (Much more enjoyable sitting down, than standing out in a parking lot. We attended the kick off of the stadium last October), and left when he was playing Superman Tonight.
Somehow, we found our way out of the stadium, avoided a potential police scuffle with a lady so drunk, she not only couldn't walk straight, but was bawlling her eyes out over the fact that three policeman where shadowing her out of the stadium.

So all in all a succesful night out....might do it again, but as stated before, not a concert guy :)

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