Emperor: Anthems In Norway!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music with tags on February 15, 2017 by slateman

A ticket has been secured. I am going to see Emperor reunite to perform one of the best albums ever in its entirety…In Norway! Its only a few hours north of me and I haven’t a clue how I’m actually getting to the place, but who cares? The show will be held in Frederiksten Fortress, a 17th-century fortress which was the site of no fewer than a half-dozen Swedish invasions! Oh, and I suppose it’s worth mentioning that SLAYER will be playing as well. (listens for someone yelling the band name in the distance.) It will be my 10th time seeing them, but let’s be honest: Emperor. Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk. I cannot explain this excitement. I hope to get a shirt this time around. :) So psyched!

Resident Evil 7 Speedrun Guide

Posted in Blog, Games, Guides, Resident Evil on February 3, 2017 by slateman

After completing the excellent RE7, I decided a speedrun was in order. And in order to successfully complete one, I need a step-by-step guide. However, no text one exists yet! Why not make one? So, here it is. My 12.5 hour initial run was followed up by a 3-hour race which is fully detailed below. It’s a niche thing, but for trophy/achievement hunters, this will likely be useful.

Resident Evil 7 Speedrun Guide

Mini-Review: Kreator – Gods Of Violence

Posted in Blog, Music, Reviews on January 31, 2017 by slateman

Barring People Of The Lie and a brief interest in the band in the late ’90s (I saw them in March of ’96, the night I met Bobby Gustafson and Sid Falck!), I never got into Kreator. However, with buzz about their new album and a little spare time on my hands, I figured why not test out the thirty-year-veterans. Gods Of Violence, the title track, astonished me. It was riffy, catchy and heavy. The harmonies were great and the double bass kicked in right when it needed to! Opting to listen to the whole album, I was pleasantly surprised to find the whole thing is solid! The production isn’t quite what it could be, but beyond that, the album has everything I love about metal. Solos and fills and screams and riffs and clean sections and fast songs…as ineloquent as that comes across, it surmises how thus far (one month), it’s the clear Album of the Year!

With utter certainty that crown shall be bestowed to another, but for now I’m thoroughly enjoying a band I never thought I’d be listening to. Maybe at 20, but not at 40! This is a spectacular record and I’m so happy I decided to check ’em out. Kick-ass!

What To Play: 2017 Edition

Posted in Blog, Games, Lists, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Uncharted, Ys on January 30, 2017 by slateman

It’s time again. Today I want to look at what’s coming up in 2017 much as I did in 2016 and also in 2015. Unsurprisingly, there are a few 2017 titles that were slated to come out last year. In Zelda’s case, we were waiting for that one way back in 2015! Regardless, a quick glance at what this year has to offer is enough to warrant genuine excitement. And let’s not forget the already-released and highly-praised Resident Evil VII! Unlike prior years, sadly, I haven’t access to GameFly and so my gaming will be greatly reduced from yesteryear. Things are also crazy expensive here in Sweden. RE7 cost 600kr which is almost $70. However, even with that number size, several of these truly feel like must-own titles. Few actual release dates so far, but that’ll change. Let’s get to it!!!

Ys Origin 2/21 Not A Priority
Horizon: Zero Dawn 2/28 Interest Piqued
Zelda: BotW 3/3 MAX
Tekken 7 6/2 Hmmm…
Battle Chasers: Nightwar TBA If the price is right…
Crackdown 3 Q4 Need an XB1 first!
God Of War TBA Could this be good?
Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite TBA Genuinely Psyched
Metal Gear Survive TBA Zero expectations
Red Dead Redemption 2 TBA OMFG
Super Mario Odyssey Q4 Need a Switch first!
Uncharted: TLL TBA A Must Buy
Ys III: Lacrimosa Of Dana 2017? Out in ’16 in JPN, Localize, please!
Final Fantasy XV n/a Do I have the time?
Sherlock Holmes: TDD n/a My wife and I loved the last
Overwatch n/a I should play this, right?
The Witness n/a I’d like to try this

Mini-Review: Resident Evil VII – Outstanding

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Resident Evil, Reviews on January 30, 2017 by slateman

“This is terrifying.”

I uttered those words no fewer than three times during my still-incomplete playthrough of Resident Evil VII. And that fear was due not to not only events or monsters. It was the darkness. It was the eerie sound. It was the jump scares as well as when nothing at all was happening. The tension this game builds is stifling. RE7 is an unbridled success by excelling in its audio, video, gameplay and story and for accomplishing what it set out to do.

From the compelling opening sequence to the tiptoe moments throughout, the game is crafted with care and meticulousness. Every room is beautifully detailed in its grotesqueness. The lighting, more important here than in almost every other game, is spectacular. As I huddle, scared to death of whatever is lurking in the next room, the sounds are as remarkable as the visuals. My breath, every step, creaky floors, creatures behind me…each is a requisite part of the immersive nature of RE7 and all add up to convey a tension I’ve rarely felt in gaming. The story, while absurd in its premise, is the perfect vehicle for such a tale. It moves forward at a steady pace, allowing you time to breathe and explore but always retrieves you to that state of unease.

While RE4 is still considered a major success, what is largely forgotten is how needed it was. After RE3 and Code Veronica, the series needed a change. And after RE4 brought an action-oriented focus to the namesake, 5 and 6 expanded upon that formula until yet again a change was necessary. Whether RE7 is a glorious return to the series’ roots or just a mostly-unrelated survival horror game isn’t the point. The series needed a shift and here we are. I, for one, am happy there’s no Wesker, no Redfields and no Raccoon City. While my last few hours may tie things together, I have thoroughly enjoyed this game, RE or not.

And reviews seem to agree. How rare is it that the first, the fourth and the seventh main entries into any series are so widely-heralded as a massive success? Each has a different vantage point, take on horror and yet all three are Resident Evil. Considering how many times I’ve beaten 1 and 4, I have a feeling a speedrun of RE7 is in my future. And I can’t wait.

Resident Evil VII: They’ve Done It Again

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Resident Evil on January 24, 2017 by slateman

I may have only just posted a list of the best moments of my gaming history wherein not one but two were dedicated to Resident Evil. But update that list I must because after today, the official launch day of Resident Evil VII, a third entry is a must.

Of course, that means we’ll descend into spoiler territory. But I’m only the first half hour in.

So when I find the love of my life locked in a cell, of course I release her. But rather than going back the way I came…clearly a better choice would be to follow this deranged girl. One thing leads to another and she’s gone again. But when she returns, the events that transpire truly were among the most impressive I’ve ever experienced in gaming. No doubt about it.

First she comes at me and attacks me. I am without weapons and I don’t really even know which button to press but press them I do, frantically, trying to get this woman off of me. She stabs me in the hand, it’s insanity. She wakes up from her zombie-like state and then knocks herself out.

Second she wakes from her self-induced slumber and performs some ninja handiwork, smashing me through walls and now, with a trusty axe, I strike her down…killing my videogame wife. Tragic indeed. Until…

Third she disappears, resurrects and comes at me brutally. She nails my left hand to a wall with a screwdriver. I press buttons trying to get out. I have to do something. This is friggin’ madness! And what then? She chops that hand off with a chainsaw. OMFG!!!

Fourth, because that clearly wasn’t enough, she bursts through a window and slices me in half, belly up, with said chainsaw, thus ending one of the most dramatic gaming sequences I can ever recall.

That entire thing impressed me the way few games have. I’m 40 now, feel like I’ve seen it all. But as that sequence ended, I was aghast…mortified, shocked and pleasantly surprised. The intensity can be rivaled by few games in memory. I don’t know how I would react to this in VR. And while I know the rest of the game simply cannot live up to that, it’s shown me that Resident Evil has morphed yet again. So far, I like what I see! Please don’t tell me there’s a fifth encounter!!! :D

Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog with tags on January 24, 2017 by slateman

Pondering that I vividly recall seeing Return Of The Jedi in theaters makes me marvel at the fact that 34 years later, Star Wars is not only good again, it’s conquering the world again. I only truly tasted the spectacle as a child, whose beautiful memory was marred utterly by prequels. And that memory somehow survived the dark years of SW wherein a vast majority of it was neither cool nor good. Now, after unbridled successes of Episode VII and Rogue One, this poster just excites and entices. We pore over meanings of The Last Jedi. Is it singular? Plural? Who is it? And then the questions turn back to The Force Awakens. Who is Snoke? Who was the old man from the beginning? What precisely did Kylo Ren do? (and what is J.J. Abrams going to do about the unfortunate and untimely death of my childhood love, Princess Leia?)

Regardless of how this movie turns out (it’ll be great), I find it amazing that Star Wars is reaching an entire new generation…again…but this time without the bitter taste of Jar Jar Binks, cheesy Anakin or midichlorians. I cannot wait for December to roll around. This ride is spectacular and one my kids (ages 5 and 9) will remember just as I did. There’s nothing better than that.

DoDonPachi Unlimited: WAT?!?!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, DoDon Pachi, Games on January 16, 2017 by slateman

For a company that’s been dead since DoDonPachi: Saidaioujou in 2013, they sure seem rather prolific. With DoDonPachi: Maximum, DoDonPachi: Ichimen Banchou, Don Paccin, a Steam release of DoDonPachi: Daifukkatsu and several more Mushihimesama ports since the company’s “demise”, I shouldn’t be surprised by the arrival of DoDonPachi: Unlimited, yet here I am! The good news is that it’s coming soon, like, real soon (in three days). The bad news is that Ichimen Banchou will be pulled from the IOS store. I haven’t played it since losing my work iPad upon leaving the school district in June, but it’s always sad losing the option to play something. But enough of the somber tone, this is a new motherfucking DDP game damnit!!!

Not much else is known besides the return of Shuri, Hikari and Maria (and seemingly, Saya, as a “hidden” character.) It’s going to be released worldwide, so seemingly nothing can stop me from playing the latest entry into #5 favorite gaming series ever! Oh man, I’m so psyched.

Game Of The Year 2016: Disappointed Edition

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Lists, Metal Gear Solid, Street Fighter, Uncharted on January 15, 2017 by slateman

gotyIn the past, I subscribed to GameFly. I’d get the latest games and while so few were truly excellent, at least I got to try them. 2016 was a tough year because I really missed out on a lot. I know. First-world problems. However, in culling through the year’s best, I realized I didn’t play most of them. Overwatch, Gears 4, The Witness…there are a few which very well could’ve been GotY, but I guess we’ll never know. Unless I come back to emend this post.

…and I may need to do that. Because the list below is an revision of last year’s list and it details the best game of the year as well as the best new IP of the year. And sadly, I have nothing for the best new IP. Looking through my trophies list (as I don’t have an XB1 and the Wii U is a joke), shows I didn’t really play that many good titles in 2016.

So, the list came down to:

  • Street Fighter V (Lack of single-player content kills it)
  • Rise Of The Tomb Raider (Not nearly as good as the reboot)
  • Zero Time Dilemma (Another fun, quirky game)
  • Far Cry Primal (Solid, alternate entry into the FC series)
  • Uncharted 4 (Writing, action, visuals, story, gameplay….)

Yup…it’s really no contest. Actually, playing through Rise Of The Tomb Raider started to bore me. The story was nonsense, the collectibles were just strewn everywhere for no reason, the gunfights were too sparse to even challenge and the locales were just so similar. I found that Uncharted 4 trumped it in every way. I cared about Drake, his brother, their relationship, Elena…the story was compelling, and the little items like Sullys one-liners, the attic portion, the games on the couch with Elena, the end…and you know, the entire middle of the game – just were top-notch. The gameplay was perfection, Naughty Dog never faltered with that portion of UC. And the locales and visuals were out of this world. I platinumed the game in just a few weeks, much like I did for the other three main entries into the series but yet the game beckons me to return. There is little as satisfying as clearing an area of baddies like that whole beach portion of the finale. Damn that was difficult!

So, while no new IP is listed here (yet? Maybe The Witness? Overwatch?), the coveted trophy goes to Drake’s epic send-off Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. And yes, that makes 3 out of 4 titles GotY winners. Not too shabby if you ask me!!!

Year GotY New IP GotY
2016 Uncharted 4 [None…Yet!]
2015 Metal Gear Solid V Rocket League
2014 Shadow Of Mordor [Same]
2013 Tomb Raider Guacamelee!
2012 Borderlands 2 The Walking Dead
2011 Portal 2 Torchlight
2010 Red Dead Redemption Darksiders
2009 Uncharted 2 Borderlands
2008 Metal Gear Solid 4 LittleBigPlanet
2007 Uncharted [Same]

It’s worth noting that 2010’s Red Dead Redemption was a toss-up with Super Mario Galaxy 2. Both are pretty much perfect 10s in my book. Two MGS games and two Uncharted games topping this list! And Borderlands is on there twice too. Pretty cool!

Some New SF Sprites

Posted in Artwork, Blog, Game Art, Games, Street Fighter on January 14, 2017 by slateman

In celebration of Violent Ken’s appearance in the upcoming Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers and in celebration of the original release of World Warriors a lifetime ago, I’ve ripped some new animations. The first is just a pair of Violent Ken animations from SNK Vs. Capcom: Chaos from 2003. The second is a full set of the 8 World Warriors from the original SFII. No real reason otherwise. Just to do it, I suppose. Let’s see!