Archive for the Blog Category

Demon’s Tilt: 916 Million!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, High Scores/Accomplishments on March 23, 2020 by slateman

I’ve been a bit stuck in Demon’s Tilt. After that legendary 400-million point run, I’ve found myself not progressing much at all. All of that changed today, however. The first ball was going rather well and now that I know how to aim for rituals (each of the three tiers has a six-letter word – complete all 18 for Wizard Mode), I focus mainly on those. Things were going really quite well and other than a shitty second ball (200 million on ball #1, a mere 24 on #2) after having a 99 multiplier, my third and final attempt was nearing my first Wizard Mode. Upon initiating this souped-up mode, the entire board is enshrouded in flames and I’m pretty sure I had five balls going at once. I started at 450 million or so and those numbers just got insane fast. 500, 600, 700, 800 million!!! The boost in numbers was just absurd. Looking at those crazy high scores in the past, it made me wonder how it was all possible. Wizard Mode is how it’s possible.

It was intense and thrilling and cements the game as one of the best ever. Wow, that was exciting.

Shadow Of The Colossus: Better Late Than Never!

Posted in Artwork, Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Screenshots with tags on March 18, 2020 by slateman

Way back in 2005 I played Shadow Of The Colossus but never completed it. While I was enamored with its uniqueness, its vision and purpose, there’s no secret the game didn’t run particularly well.

A number of years later it was released on the Playstation 3 with updated visuals. The new iteration, by Bluepoint, was pretty good, but it was based on the same skeleton of the original and I lost interest around colossus #7 or 8, much like I had a number of years prior.

With Bluepoint’s return and total reimaging of the game on the fourth Playstation, I opted to venture yet again into this world but unlike those prior attempts, I completed the game for once! The controls and camera sometimes felt quite archaic, but you could tell they worked hard to bring it up-to-date without losing the original’s magic and feel. Encountering early colossi for the third time (at least!) was a nice way to reminisce and seeing new ones for the first time was an impressive spectacle. The polished visuals, new experience and helpful photo mode let me enjoy the game like I never had before all while allowing me to share some of the more interesting and picturesque moments. I never beat Ico or The Last Guardian either despite playing the former twice. Perhaps for it too, the third time’s the charm! Here are some cool snapshots replete with spoilers, of course! They are in no particular order.

Demon’s Tilt: High-Score Progress

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, High Scores/Accomplishments with tags on February 27, 2020 by slateman

This game is spectacular and is the best new title I’ve played in quite some time. I’ve been playing for score and managed my first 300-million run yesterday. This was usurped by a 400-million game a few hours later. Dissecting this and figuring it all out is fun and rewarding and may be the start of a new addiction! Until then, proof of said 400m game!

Demon’s Tilt: OMFG Devil’s Crush Successor?

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games with tags on January 14, 2020 by slateman

I don’t even know what to say. This is a game no one ever could see coming. A spiritual successor to the best pinball game ever, Devil’s Crush? Throwback music? Three-panel high table? The woman’s face? Explosions, pentagrams, demons??? What is going on right now?

But yet it is around! Only in early access right now, this is the game I never knew I wanted. A 21st-century update to one of my favorite videogames of all time. It’s strange, because at first glance, it doesn’t look like a suitable visual follow-up. But as you get going, the board is just crazy: bullets bursting, demons exploding, fires raging, shit flying everywhere. I never got around to crowning a best game of 2019, but this is clearly my choice for this year. (I know, it’s only two weeks in).

Photos don’t do this game justice. Videos don’t either. You need to play…figure out the mechanics, see what’s going on – sometimes you can’t – and just absorb it. Man, this is so awesome.

Morrigan: Vampire Hunter OVA

Posted in Artwork, Best / Worst, Blog, Game Art with tags on January 7, 2020 by slateman

In celebration of resurrecting this site after I accidentally killed it, here’s Morrigan from her Vampire Hunter / Night Warriors OVA appearance. This was drawn by Masashi Ikeda and is utterly phenomenal. That’s all for today.

2020 – Music To Come

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Lists, Music on January 5, 2020 by slateman

I still haven’t even written up my AOTY for 2019, but the year itself was a bit disappointing. So, while I delay in getting that online, I’ve gazed forward and feel like 2020 may be more of the same. For now, here’s a brief ‘coming-soon’ list, none of which feel like possible contenders for this year’s coveted award. For now, it’s just a list for me.


10 Jan – Brothers Of Metal: Emblas Saga
07 Feb – Sepultura: Quadra
14 Feb – Ihsahn: Telemark
21 Feb – Demons & Wizards: III
28 Feb – The Night Flight Orchestra: Aeromantic
06 Mar – My Dying Bride: The Ghost Of Orion
13 Mar – Burzum: Thulêan Mysteries
20 Mar – Hällas: Conundrum
03 Apr – Testament: Titans Of Creation
10 Apr – Joe Satriani: Shapeshifting
17 Apr – The Black Dahlia Murder: Verminous
24 Apr – Katatonia: City Burials
08 May – Naglfar: Cerecloth
08 May – Lamb Of God: Lamb Of God
29 May – Alestorm: Curse Of The Crystal Coconut
07 Aug – Carcass: Torn Arteries
TBA – Lantlôs: Wildhund

Disappeared

Posted in Blog, Personal on December 31, 2019 by slateman

I don’t know how many months I went without an update since this blog’s inception. A few, certainly, but definitely not multiple and absolutely not sequential ones. So, what’s happened to make me go almost three months without a word? Indifference.

My move to Italy has really diminished our spirits. The country itself may be beautiful, but where we reside in Napoli, is not. We don’t love it. We often hate it. And I dive into my writing to escape. But even that has an end and that end is approaching.

I’m unsure if 2020 will rejuvenate me or if it will continue the descent into the numbness. But let’s be clear, my life is fucking grand and I have no reason to be this way. I have more than most and maybe I just need a kick in the ass.

Until then, I suppose I should work on my AotY list. Disregard previous bitchfest. It’s probably not warranted.

Borknagar: Up North – OMFG

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music, Video on September 27, 2019 by slateman

I am not a lyrics person; I simply don’t care. This is why foreign-language songs or raspy, indecipherable songs are fine with men. I just don’t give a shit.

However, earlier in September, Borknagar offered up the second sample taste from their newest record: True North. I sat outside, overlooking Via Mergellina and the shadow of Vesuvius and listened. And was moved to tears.

WAT? That’s not metal! What is this of which you speak? Well, the song, titled Up North, talks about the circle of life. It talks about residing…well…up north. It speaks of how things are just right up there. Of the few things I’m certain in life, this I could relate to. ”

“Where the sun cast shadows at night, Where the day and evenings are bright, The place where I belong, Up north!

Where the pine trees meet the sea, Where the stormy sky will sing for me, The place I wanna be, Up north!”

Yes, please. I don’t know…moving to Sweden was such a jump and it was the perfect place at the perfect time in my life. And every day I long to return. In my core, I think of it daily: there is something simply right up north that I can only convey through a multitude of words. Yet this song sang to me. It sang to my heart.

Somehow, I hope to get back there. And every time I listen to this song, it brings me back to that place – that feeling. It’s both utterly wonderful and crushingly sad. But…it is what it is. And this song may be my favorite of 2019. The music, the vocals, the lyrics and the profound sensation I feel when listening. Just remarkable.

Mini-Review: Tool – Fear Inoculum

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music, Reviews on August 29, 2019 by slateman

Surmising several listens briefly: I like Fear Inoculum more than the last two albums combined. Tool holds a special part of my musical life – from getting into them back during Undertow to the game-changing Ænima. I saw the band four times and bought Salival at its midnight release back when Tower Records still existed. But their last two efforts left me desiring more, though Lateralus left more of an impact than its successor. The last time I saw them, I emerged bored by the second half, after a tremendously-exciting first half. And there we ended it – more than a decade ago – and with no real hopes or expectations for this long-gestating follow-up.

The first single released earlier in the month was promising and I don’t particularly like tracks 5 or 6. However, the remaining four songs are remarkable. They are familiar, yet new. The tracks sound wonderful and have a spectacular, heavy feel. But just like the prior album, something was missing. And it was easy to identify: Maynard. Part of what drove me to the band two-and-a-half decades ago was his fiery nature. He would unleash and it was amazing. But now, he’s rarely not monotone. He’s skilled – no doubt – but it gets boring. One song has this amazing buildup. Each bar comes with the promise of this culminating bomb! You feel the excitement…you wait for the inevitable…and you leave disappointed at the cliff from which you fall.

While I am highly critical of Maynard, he is quite adept at his craft, minus the aforementioned lack of fire. Just two or three perfectly-placed “AHHHHhhh!”s would make this album all but perfect. But it speaks to how good the rest is that it’s a solid record even without kick-ass Maynard. The songs are reminiscent of the past, which feels so familiar. That mix of new and nostalgia make me thrilled to put it on yet again – barring those two skippable tracks. I’ll have to look into the added digital ones. For now though, even on release day, I can proclaim this a superior record to the prior two.

Upcoming Metal Releases

Posted in Blog, Music on August 29, 2019 by slateman

Just a quick toss-up with upcoming release dates for personal reference. Still no easy AotY release.

13 Sep – Korn (The Nothing)
13 Sep – The Hu (The Gereg)
27 Sep – Borknagar (True North)
27 Sep- Opeth (In Cauda Venenum)
04 Oct – Insomnium (Heart Like A Grave) (1 Dec in Rome)
18 Oct – 1349 (The Infernal Pathway)
25 Oct – Alcest (Spiritual Instinct)
25 Oct – Mayhem (Daemon)
01 Nov – Blind Guardian (Legacy Of The Dark Lands)