Horizon: Zero Dawn – Just Stunning

Posted in Artwork, Game Art, Games with tags on August 14, 2017 by slateman

I quite liked posting those Final Fantasy XII snapshots and I recalled that this year’s GotY contender, Horizon: Zero Dawn was absolutely gorgeous to look at as well. Therefore, I dug through my snapshots from this spring and decided to post some of my favorites. Potential spoilers here! Man, the game’s photo mode is spectacular. Enjoy!

Final Fantasy XII: Enjoying The Beauty

Posted in Artwork, Game Art, Games with tags on August 13, 2017 by slateman

It’s been a few weeks and my journey through Ivalice is hardly complete. At more than 40 hours, I’d wager I’m maybe halfway through. But while my recent ventures have been way off the story’s path, the tale itself is an epic and grand one, much as one might expect from any good FF. The trusty screenshot button is one of my favorite additions to this generation of gaming and so I thought I’d share some of the stunning vistas, group shots (I love these) and unique art style that is FFXII. I’m absolutely loving it. Here you go.

SFV: Abigail Vs. Zangief

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Street Fighter on August 7, 2017 by slateman

The 8-foot-tall Abigail joined the SFV roster two weeks ago and his size is almost a joke. While Hugo already dwarfed the rest of the cast, Abigail’s inclusion tops even him. Why not compare him to the quaint size of Zangief. Funny shit.

The Golden Age Of Television

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Lists, TV on August 3, 2017 by slateman

I can think back to when I was a kid and TV consisted of Family Ties, The Wonder Years and Cheers. The ’90s brought Seinfeld and Friends, the ’00s shows like 24 and The Sopranos. But since cutting the cord, it should be difficult to keep up on the new shows, but clearly it isn’t.

I’ve spent more time since Erin and I moved to Sweden than I did in the decade before it. As we start a new show, Ozark, I recalled the countless shows before it that we’ve binge-watched over the last half-decade. The quality varies, of course, but a number of them can live up to the Seinfelds of the past. I thought I’d try to reflect on this fact, partly for my own posterity, really. Asterisks denote completed shows.

  • Americans, The (5)
  • Big Little Lies (1)*
  • Boardwalk Empire (5)*
  • Bloodlines (3)*
  • Breaking Bad (6)*
  • Catastrophe (3)
  • Fargo (3)
  • Game Of Thrones (7)
  • Homeland (6)
  • House Of Cards (5)
  • How To Get Away With Murder (3)
  • Leftovers, The (3)*
  • Mr. Robot (2)
  • Narcos (2)
  • OA, The (1)
  • Ozark (1)
  • Sherlock (4)
  • Stranger Things (1)
  • Taboo (1)
  • This Is Us (1)
  • True Detective (2)
  • Vikings (4)
  • Walking Dead, The (7)
  • Westworld (1)

Several are in a strange “is it over”? stage. But that’s a good listing of shows, some can stand up with the best shows ever IMO, like Breaking Bad, the first season of True Detective and early Vikings.

Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection Wishlist

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Street Fighter on July 31, 2017 by slateman

It feels as if it were only yesterday I imported Hyper Street Fighter II as part of the series’ 15th anniversary. It later came to the US with SFIII: 3S as a pretty sweet package. As 2017 is now more than halfway done, I remain curious as to how Capcom plans on celebrating. News started to surface this week that an anniversary collection might be coming.

As exciting as it might be, a wishlist of what could be should be reality-checked. Does anyone remember the Street Fighter Collection from back in ’97? After months of hoping for a complete compilation of SFII we ended up getting two games rather than one. Surely the arcade ROMS couldn’t fit in one collection?

That may be unfair, as we later got the excellent Fighters’ Generation / Alpha Anthology which showed Capcom could do it right. But while I should really be cautiously optimistic, I’m going to throw that caution to the wind and express my excitement over the possibilities.

With Ultra Street Fighter II newly-on shelves, I’m not sure that’ll be part of this package and they can’t realistically put out the HD Remake if USFII is already out. Hyper Street Fighter II may be more likely, but both games are just broken from a competitive standpoint. However, either game would be great for the collection and USFII may be the easiest to port over. I think a form of SFII is almost required for the 30th anniversary.

As for SFIII, a collection of all three versions would be sexy as hell, but I think a 3S Online Edition translation would suffice for most purposes. It could be done easily enough as they’ve brought Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and Ultra Street Fighter IV over to the current-gen systems.

Speaking of…I wouldn’t expect any original SF or SFIV games to be involved.

So what are we left with? Oh…just my favorite Street Fighter series of them all. The Zero/Alpha games launched as I got into college and the animations, style, sound effects, roster and overall feel remain the best of them all. They hearken to a different time of my life, of gaming, that whole thing. I remember going to the mall to play as Adon in SFA. I bought my first Playstation alongside a fight stick and SFA2. I imported SFZ3 and my fascination turned into an obsession. The aforementioned collection of Zero/Alpha games is so utterly spectacular and complete, I would do anything to have those games playable on the PS4.

However, that may be a bit too optimistic. That’s an awful lot of upgrading, but I truly don’t think a 30th-anniversary collection would be complete without the Zero/Alpha games. I’m not sure precisely how they could work them into this collection but I think it has to happen. It’s entirely possible we just get one game and as Zero 3 really encompasses everything the series stood for, with its Isms and vast roster, you then wonder what version of SFZ3 they’d include. The GBA and PSP versions are the most complete, but with a max resolution of 480×272, it’s simply unacceptable on a big screen. That’s a dilemma. I’d prefer not have an incomplete collection all these years later, but a full one might require too much work. Oh, if I could just get Z2A/A2G, I’d be so friggin’ happy.

I think we’re above a anything would be better than nothing. We’re a far cry from the bare-bones ports and translations of the mid-to-late 90s. There’s no reason this shouldn’t be a kick-ass collection. Having bought so many versions of SFII (no fewer than 6), SFIII (maybe 2?), SFIV (vanilla, Super, AE, Ultra, Ultra on the PS4), and now SFV (base game + 2 seasons of DLC). Please don’t fuck this up, Capcom. The 30th anniversary should celebrate US as much as it should celebrate SF.

Street Fighter EX Collection Wishlist

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Street Fighter on July 31, 2017 by slateman

With Arika moving forward to release a new fighting game next year, we’re set to see Kairi, Skullomania, Garuda, Darun and Hokuto return to the ring.

There is no official tie to Street Fighter EX just yet and it may remain that way. However, it seems evident that Arika and Capcom have
some open relationship going, as EX characters appeared on the CFN portal.

It’s never been a viable topic to even imagine an EX collection, but with the new changes, one might wonder: could this actually happen? Certainly I am not the only person who would be elated if Fighting EX Layer (unofficial working title) actually turned out to be SFEX4, however it is ultimately extremely unlikely. The small Japanese team was taking input from people at SDCC which means they don’t have the big backing Capcom would offer, particularly with the name Street Fighter affixed. However, one could just imagine the possibility of a collection of the first three SFEX games actually coming to be.

They would likely have to come to the PS4 only, as the trio of games never appeared on any other home console. And while the first two games had basic arcade version that differ from the final ports, it seems unlikely those versions would ever be playable. The only real issue would be the requisite online play. Outside of that, the remainder of the games could truly remain the same. From the great trials to the training mode to the arcade options, it could be a very straightforward game. I don’t need enormous major changes. Just a nice game choice splash screen and the full games ported over. However, maybe I’m being naïve. Perhaps it’s not quite so simple without fully remastering them. If it were possible, I would gladly plunk down the cash for:

  • Street Fighter EX + Alpha (PS1)
  • Street Fighter EX2 + (PS1)
  • Street Fighter EX3 (PS2)

How sweet would that be? As usual, the sheer awesomeness is directly proportional to the unlikeliness of it actually happening. *sigh*




Netflix’s Castlevania: Slow Start – Great End!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, TV with tags on July 31, 2017 by slateman

The animation in Castlevania is remarkable and the short, four-episode series simply looks great. Each of the roughly twenty-minute episodes is over as soon as it begins, but the series takes a little while to really get rolling. I know setting backstory is important, but I was, quite frankly, bored halfway through the second episode. Trevor, my favorite Belmont for obvious purposes, seemed more annoying than genuinely vested in the task and dialogues just went on forever. However, as the end of episode three leads into the finale, the story takes shape. The final battle sets the tone for what should be a very exciting second, eight-episode season two. However, I should be wary to note that the shortcomings of this season are likely going to return. The fitting end to this season was particularly special, especially for anyone whose favorite of the original Castlevania games was number three, which, truly, is a vast majority of classic fans. I don’t know if we’ll see Grant’s return, but as is, the three protagonists are diverse, strong and well-voiced. Richard Armitage does a spectacular job and I look forward to the second season’s arrival. It should be fun.

Fargo Binge: Over!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, TV on July 30, 2017 by slateman

I watched the film back when it was new, but I’d heard good things about the FX TV show. With my wife and I running out of things to watch, why not try something new? And after just a few weeks, we’ve binge watched all three seasons and the film itself. It’s pretty look to see all the nods to the movie in the show, but it was clear: the first season was the best.

The show was quaint and entertaining, but the TV show is when it came into its own. And each season had a standout actor or actress: Martin Freeman and Billy Bob in the first, Kirston Dunst in the second and Ewan McGregor and the slimy antagonist from the third. And Dunst was spectacular. I’d highly recommend watching the first season and maybe even the second, all while remembering the latter’s finale was rather weak. In the end, a very entertaining show and now the wait for a possible fourth season begins!

New 4×4 Record!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Cubing, Cubing Records, High Scores/Accomplishments with tags on July 27, 2017 by slateman

On the same day that Feliks broke the 7×7 world record, with a 2:08 showing, I managed to shave four seconds off my modest 4×4 personal best. A 2:14+ time may seem quaint to these speedcubers, but it’s the best I’ve ever done. My newest cube, a stickerless QiYi MoFangGe Snow Leopard, isn’t really great. It’s exploded several times and I am pretty sure I lost a record just in trying to keep it from doing so again. However, a parity-free run this morning yielded a pretty good time. While I don’t think a sub-two-minute run is ever to be in the cards, I’ll remain humble with this new record.

Goodbye, All: Final Fantasy XII

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games with tags , on July 11, 2017 by slateman

I never could put my finger on just why I never completed FFXII. While I haven’t finished any Final Fantasy game after the illustrious FFVII, I quite enjoyed both IX and XII. VIII and XIII didn’t interest me, XI and XIV required an online dedication and XV just didn’t sway me with bros and a car, despite its generally-favorable reviews. Oh, and X – I don’t know why I didn’t finish that either. It was enjoyable the two-dozen hours I put into it.

I digress in a bevy of Roman numerals. FFXII had just a different feel to it; its gameplay was a stark departure, its return to Ivalice from the awesome FFT was a rare revisit of an old theme and the artstyle remains one of my favorites in all of gaming (alongside FFIX’s!). But the reason only just became clear to me: children. I got married in January of 2006 and it’s hard to believe I moved to Maine when the PS2 was still the latest and the greatest. (I don’t care that the 360 came out a few months prior.). As much as I liked the twelfth numbered installment, I never gave it enough time. And as literally every other main entry was made playable on current systems, I just waited for #12 to arrive. As the last of the older titles, it finally has and I’m drawn in again by that gameplay and artstyle. If it is as good as they say, and as my memory tells me, I might be MIA for a while. Perhaps that God Of War: Ghost Of Sparta playthrough may have to wait a little bit!!!