Saturday, December 29, 2007

Top 10 Baby Names

So the results are in and some baby website has released its lists of the top 10 baby names for boys and girls. And here they are from 1 to 10, reproduced without permission and frankly, to the BabyCenter, if you care? Fuck you.

Top 10 Girl Names
1. Sophia
2. Isabella
3. Emma
4. Madison
5. Ava
6. Addison
7. Hailey
8. Emily
9. Kaitlyn
10. Olivia

Top 10 Boy Names
1. Aiden
2. Ethan
3. Jacob
4. Jayden
5. Caleb
6. Noah
7. Jackson
8. Jack
9. Logan
10. Matthew

I'm not surprised at some of them. 10 and 9 are Matthew and Logan, which is the first two names of my nephew. I know someone who has a Jayden...I think. Jacob's a popular name.

I'm mostly concerned about the girls' names. Olivia? Sophia? I have NEVER met a Sophia. They don't even have Elisabeth?

Noah is number 6 for boys. I was friends with a Noah in high school. One day before school started I ran into a guy who looked like him and after trying to talk to him found out that it was someone else. It was weird because this guy looked EXACTLY like him except more punkish. It was like being friends with someone and then meeting his evil twin. Like a soap opera, except he wasn't carrying my baby. I REALLY need to get out of my head.

Anyway, I have also never, EVER met an Aiden. I'm pretty sure I haven't because I'm certain I'd remember some crazy shit like that. And I'm to believe that Aiden has been the number 1 baby name for 3 years? I call bullshit.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Top 5 List: The Most Badass Video Game Characters

Okay, Sedalb, listen up. It's time for school to start. Here are the top 5 most badass video game characters.

5. Kratos; God of War Series
Kratos is one bad mamma jamma. But, like Devil May Cry's Dante, the game's designers simply try too hard. Don't get me wrong, I think he's awesome. He would've scored number one if it weren't so damn difficult to take him seriously. Besides, fanboys, at least he made the list. There's got to be thousands of video game characters out there; to make the top 5 is still a huge honor.

4. Caim; Drakengard Series
"Furiae! Oh, Furiae!" Going mute was the best thing that could happen to this guy. But once he does he becomes awesome. At the very least he manages not to wet himself as the universe quite literally falls apart around him. Between giant severed heads raining from the sky, little girls that speak in baritone, and horrors too terrible to describe, he keeps his stoic calm. The only thing stopping him from getting higher on the list is the memories of his whiny ass crying out for his girlfriend in the first level.

3. Maria Renard; Castlevania Series
Maria Renard is the cutest little summoner you ever will see, wether she's tossing kittens at the enemy or hiding under a giant turtle shell. But then she burns off 50 hearts to summon a screen-wiping dragon god that kills even bosses nearly instantly. She makes the list mostly for being tougher than Richter Belmont despite being half his age. She keeps her cute charm after growing up in Symphony of the Night and adds some sex appeal to the mix.

2. Slayer; Guilty Gear Series
This one's for all those people who liked vampires before they heard of Anne Rice. Slayer is proof that vampires don't have to be brooding emo kids. They can also be super badass. Slayer is suave and laid back, but brutal in combat, just the way a vampire should be. Wether winning or losing he manages to still look cool and for that he gets a spot in the Top 5 Most Badass.

1. Iron Ox/Honda Tadakatsu; Devil Kings Series
Known as one of the most fearsome warriors in feudal Japan, Honda Tadakatsu was a loyal servant of the otherwise unlikable Tokugawa Ieyasu. In video game land, he's been a tough-as-nails boss and kicked Lu Bu's ass (several times!) in Orochi Warriors. But the incarnation that earns him Most Badass is that in Devil Kings/Sengoku Basara. Iron Ox laughs at Hard Mode; he takes next to no damage from enemies, kills even bosses in no time, and has a special attack that has to be seen to be believed. He's so badass even getting ordered around by a midget can't harsh his cool. That's why he's number 1.



Annotation From The Future:

With regards to number 2, you remember back when Anne Rice was still the worst thing to ever happen to vampires? The lamest vampire to ever un-live was Lestate, not Ed Cullen, and the words "sparkle" and "vampire" were almost never seen in the same sentence.

I've mentioned this before, but it is always astounding just how low the bar can be set. I still remember how people used to mock American Idol, truly believing that it was the lowest American pop-culture could ever get. Then shows like Jersery Shore and Flavor of Love came out and it was like their entire worldview was shattered into pieces. If American Idol was absolute crap, then what is The Hills? How do you even define it on that scale?

Similarly, before Twilight came out we all honestly believed that Rice's brooding emo vampires, crying about how they don't want to drink blood, were the absolute bottom of the barrel. Now we all look back on it as a time when vampires were actually more dignified, more cool.

It makes me wonder and kind of worry, what horrible place could vampires reach in the future, where people will look back and say with 100% sincerity "man, I seriously miss those stupid, sparkly leech people from Twilight."

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Video Game Compare Review: Shining Force Neo vs. Exa

So there's two Shining Force games for the PS2, you say? Which is better, you ask? What's that? You didn't say or ask either of those? You don't care? Well that's too bad, because here's another strap-you-to-your-chair-and-pry-your-eyelids-open video game review!


Shining Force Neo
Released in 2005, Shining Force Neo is the first of the Shining Force games on the PS2 and departs from the tactical RPG style typical of Shining Force to deliver a Diablo-style adventure game. Enemies are monsters which spawn from "monster generators". You must destroy a certain number of monsters or the generators will instantly regenerate.

Gameplay: 2/5
Shining Force Neo is a game that is nice to reviewers like me. A lot of 2 and 3 games get the rating because they're decidedly average and are therefore hard to describe. Shining Force Neo gets a 2 on gameplay because it both sucks and is good at the same time. Gameplay is interesting and combat is responsive and fun. On the other hand, monster generators are EVERYWHERE, take forever to destroy, and usually must be destroyed to continue. This gets tiresome fast.

Story: 5/5
Shining Force Neo takes place a couple decades after a war between light and darkness. As usual, the darkness was sealed away but not destroyed and now the darkness is reawakening again. A cliche premise, but well executed with interesting twists and developments. Characters are interesting, if typically anime-ish. I actually felt bad when Max's dad died near the beginning. It's not a Hemmingway novel, but it's as good as you can expect from a video game. My only real complaint is the gameplay will frustrate you so much and the story won't keep you involved enough to keep playing.

Base: 4/5
The "team base" has been in all the Shining Force games and Neo's is particularly good. You can warp back at any time. Although there's very little in base the town attached to it has everything you need, from the "Force Art" engraver (along with levelling up this is how you increase your abilities) to the shop. Nice enough.

Main Character: 4/5
While the story-related aspects of Max are okay (he's the typical average hero) his gameplay-related aspects are also decidedly average. He can equip and use any weapon, cast any spell his weapon has, and equip any armor. It's a tad unrealistic but allows for a great deal of customization.

Total: 15/20


Shining Force Exa
Released in early 2007, Exa is Neo's successor. Unlike Neo, which got a T for Teen, Shining Force Exa is rated E for Everyone. Maybe it's because Toma's dad doesn't die. But I'd like to think the werewolf in bondage would be worth a few points. It doesn't help that the coloration of his facial fur kinda looks like he's wearing a muzzle. But if Xemnas can get past the censors I guess Duga can too.

Gameplay: 4/5
Gameplay is vastly improved over Shining Force Neo. You'll find the same hack-n-slash combat on display here. While monster generators are still in use and prevalent there's nowhere near the numbers there were in Neo and they don't take as long to destroy. Unfortunately, there's your base. It's awesome, but it can be attacked. And it will be. A lot. And you have to switch to your second player to defend it. Sometimes this will even happen when you're in the middle of a boss fight. This gets very annoying.

Story: 3/5
It's possible the story is lighter here because people complained. Like how Aeris's death in Final Fantasy 7 caused Square to turn Final Fantasy 8 into a soap opera. Or how the unrelenting parade of tragedy and maddening despair that was Final Fantasy Tactics caused Square to release what was basically a childrens' book with swords. I don't know. But whatever the case, Exa is a lot lighter. Almost kiddy. Characters are a lot more cliche. Just...meh.

Base: 5/5
Your base is awesome. Everything you need is in the main room so there's no running around town. Better, your base is upgradeable, has a built-in special attack, and a built-in random dungeon generator for when you've played through the game already. Very nice.

Main Characters: 4/5
Your characters are not nearly as customizable as Max was. The boy, Toma, equips swords and the girl, Cyrille, equips crossbows and books and casts magic. On the plus side, you have armor that actually changes your appearance. It did in Neo too, but the change in appearance in Neo was like the change in appearance in Diablo. Barely noticable. It's a lot more noticable here.

Total: 16/20


Verdict: Shining Force Exa Wins!

It was close and in the end Exa was only one point ahead, but in the end Exa wins sheerly for having less monster generators, less annoying five-million-levels-ahead-of-you side areas, and generally just better gameplay. I'd recommend playing Neo for the story, but if you want a game to just play go for Exa.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Youtube Idiot Review: Sedalb

We all know there's idiots on YouTube. Today I'd like to take the time to pay special honor to a special person in what will possibly become a regular feature here.

Let it be known that I do not mine for idiots, but when I come across them I've got to say something. So here is today's idiot!

Comment on the official teaser for Duke Nukem Forever:
Sedalb

Fuck yea!!!

The Duke never disappoints, the most badass VG character is back. That's right, more badass then Kratos, Cloud, and Master chief put together!


While this one post could likely give me an entire month of updates (especially given how often I update) I'll try to hold back.

Sedalb. The Duke disappointed us for TEN YEARS. Or did you forget that? And most badass? Please. I mean, maybe among your examples.

Kratos? Kratos is a badass. That's why I'm going to assume he doesn't mean the God of War version and is instead referring to Kratos Aurion from Tales of Symphonia. Sure that takes us in the wrong direction but it's funnier.

Cloud is the biggest bitchboy ever put in a video game. Do I even need to explain why? At least he didn't say Vincent. Not that Vincent's not a badass, but we want to avoid cliches.

And Master Chief. Again, not that MC isn't a badass but that's your third example? If you're trying to name hardcore video game heroes you suck AND fail. Kratos I could see. Cloud not at all. But by the time you say Master Chief then you're just blatantly dropping names at random.

Let it be recorded for posterity. The main character from Doom RIPS AND TEARS Duke Nukem a new one based solely on the Doom comic. And Sedalb is STILL A MORON.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Manga Review: Not a Review of Yuu Yuu Hakusho

HIEI ANNOYS THE CRAP OUT OF ME.

We get it, Hiei. You're the most powerful character in YuYu Hakusho. Ever. Godmoder.

You know, it's okay when he's doing crazy NPC stuff, like when the villain expects to win by numbers and he shows up like "oh, were those your guys I just beat up?" See, then, it's okay because he's just making the fight fair to the heroes.

He annoys me when he tries to be a hero and fight the villains, because that's when he does stupid shit like "oh, by the way I just cut your arm off and you didn't even realize it because I'm that fast."

Kurama's a godmoder too but at least he gets HURT sometimes. I don't think I've ever seen Hiei actually get hurt by an enemy. The only times he's ever been hurt was actually his own stupid fault for trying to be flashier than necesarry. Sometimes I think of stories as RPG games. And Hiei reminds me of that one character in every game that's played by the powergamer who figured out how to kill everything in one hit while still technically being at the same level as everyone else. When he gets hurt, this is the GM trying desperately to find a way to not let him kill the game. "Dude, GM, he just fried a FIRE ELEMENTAL with a giant dragon made of fire." "Oh...shit...um...spot ruling! Your arm is broken!"

Possibly the worst part is no explanation is given for this power. Okay, Kurama's an ancient fox demon and that's why he's powerful. Genkai's an old woman who's mastered martial arts over her life time and has a tremendous understanding of ki. Yusuke is Genkai's disciple. We get that. But Hiei has been stated multiple times to be nothing special. His evil eye is something he acquired, not developed, and his most powerful move isn't even really his own power. As far as we know he's just some punk demon who woke up one day, decided "I'm gonna go beat people up today," then instantly became infinitely more powerful than any demon, human, or god ever.

And that is why I hate Hiei's character.

On an unrelated note, this review marks the first ever book/magazine review on this blog. And that is why I posted to tell you I hate Hiei's character.

EDIT: Also, as my friend pointed out, Hiei is also a cheap Vegeta knockoff. Good God, they even have the same hair. Just to be fair I also have to mention, Hiei vs. Seiryu is the only way it could've happened. They're both instant-death-or-nothing characters. Had anyone else fought Seiryu, Seiryu would have won. It had to be Hiei and it had to be immediate. That said, that does not lessen my annoyance at that gyp of a boss fight. To put it simply, I hate Hiei for the same reason I hate mindflayers in DnD. He has no other settings besides "God" and "Off."

Friday, December 7, 2007

Video Game Review: Jewel Summoner

Today's game is Monster Kingdom: Jewel Summoner, an RPG where you capture and control monsters, similar to Pokemon. Unlike Pokemon, Jewel Summoner really sucks.

The story is rather decent if not cliched. I'd like the angst to be turned down, of course. "Tch" is not a sentence. It's not even a thought. Gameplay and presentation is where they lose all the marbles, though.

The art is rather good, admittedly, but all of your attacks look the same. How many times do I need to look at the same burst of fire/water/ice/whatever? Sound and music are okay. At least 75% of the game is voice acted, save for interactions with random townsfolk which are text. Problem? They fall short on the voice acting a LOT. It's passable at best and terrible at worst. Video game makers, listen to me. The Zelda games have never used voice acting and they're still good. Voice acting is good, but not a neccesity. If you can't do it right then just don't bother.

The monsters on display here are uninspired and rather lame. There's not a hint of the variety seen in Pokemon or even Dragon Warrior Monsters. We've got several varieties of kirin, a few dragons, some wolves... a caterpillar... turtles... come on. Even Dragon Warrior Monsters does better than that.

On the topic of gameplay, what's up with the lag? Making a crappy game is one thing, but seriously what's the deal? Video game lag is forgivable sometimes; a high-end game ported to a handheld is one thing, as is a computer game where the specs for every system are different so programmers have no choice but to guess at what sort of resources they'll be dealing with. But this is a PSP only game. The programmers KNEW what the capabilities of the system they'd be dealing with were and purposefully designed a game that the system couldn't handle.

KR Rating from The Future: [2] BAD

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Documentary Review: Okay, We Get It.

You don't like video games.

Look, folks. I have nothing to say about this honestly. I've said it all before and let's face it, none of these people are going to read what I'm writing. But I promised my friend I'd do it so here we go.

Ahem...

SHUT UP. YOU'RE WRONG AND NO ONE CARES WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY ANYWAY.

"Violence has always been with us, but we've recognized it as a vice, not a virtue."

Oh? Were we recognizing violence as a vice back in Ancient Rome where they forced slaves to brutally dismember and kill each other for the peoples' amusement? Were we recognizing violence as a vice in Sengoku era Japan when it was considered preferable to disembowel yourself rather than accept defeat to a worthy adversary? What about when we stone a woman in Afghanistan because one inch of her wrist was showing for all of one second? How about the sacking of Carthage when they sprinkled the earth with salt to make sure the land itself would die? Several crusades where men butchered women and children in the name of God all over some grudge between two kings?

"We don't want to regulate games or force you to use a ratings system."

And yet you instituted a system where a team of people who would never even play games on their own because they hate them are allowed to have unchecked and unlimited censor control over this art form. A system where a game can be rated based on illegal modifications other people have made, and where a single man can defy the Constitution of the United States by banning free expression. An AO rating means a game can not be sold in stores, which is an instant death sentence for any game, and the Game Nazis at ESRB can hand out this rating at will.

"If men could sit in front of a flight simulator and learn enough about flying planes to fly them into the world trade center then what do you think will happen when a 9 year old sits in front of a first person shooter that rewards him for killing cops?"

Ah yes, Random Cop Killer 64. A rare game, mostly because it doesn't exist. People like this have these crazy ideas of what games are that are totally incorrect. It's like when I was a kid and my dad tried to tell me all rap music was about men smoking weed with their mothers.

What they also forget is that video games didn't make 9/11 happen. The hijackers may have learned to fly planes from playing flight simulator games, I don't know. But they didn't get the idea from the game. They had the idea, the game gave them the knowhow to execute it. Knowhow they also could have gotten from any book or instructor. And Hell, I'll be totally honest with you here: if you're planning on crashing it anyway I can't imagine flying a plane would be all that difficult. You could probably just wing it, considering the only really hard stuff is the takeoffs and landings, neither of which they had to do.

"There's going to be a Columbine-like event, maybe to the factor of ten. Then there's going to be a human cry within the Halls of Congress to ban these games altogether."

And then beautiful unicorns will dance through the meadows and it will rain sugarplums and pixie sticks! Oh, and while we're in Fantasyland, let's have Jennifer Lopez suck my dick and give me fifty million dollars.

By the way, if this is the kind of stuff you fantasize about, you need some rehab, dude.

Top 5 List: Top 5 Ways to Survive a Fiction Story

So you're a fictional character who's finally gotten a story of your own. Great! But studies have shown that many fictional characters who appear in stories end up dieing. But now you don't have to! Just follow this simple advice.

5. Don't be sweet, cute, or funny.
The best way to make the audience hate the villain is to have the villain murder the sweet, innocent cutie. Meanwhile, the jerk everyone hates lives forever. Don't be likable or you will die tragically.

4. Don't burn bridges with the hero.
If you absolutely positively HAVE to betray the hero, don't be a douche. If the phrase "I always hated you" even comes into your brain you'd might as well save us all time and just kill yourself.

3. Don't set up a situation where your death would be ironic.
There was some really crappy movie which name I can't be bothered to remember where one of the characters once said "don't say you'll be right back or you won't." Or something along those lines. Point is, if you ever set up a situation where your death would be an ironic coincidence you will die.

2. Don't be expendable or important.
Above all else, make certain that the enemy knows you're important. If you seem like a random mook you will be killed and no one will care. Just the same, make sure the enemy knows you're expendable. If they think you're important they'll kill you. It's a little arbitrary and totally impossible but there you go.

1. Sleep with the writer.
No fatties.