Archive for the Personal Category

Another Move – Another Country

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Personal on June 28, 2019 by slateman

It is with a heavy heart that I abandon my beloved Scandinavia. However, I cannot complain as southern Europe awaits and its 45° weather alongside it! These pages have been curiously quiet and will likely remain that way as my entire life is turned upside down for the second time in three years.

Wish me luck – This is an opportunity of a lifetime in an already-tumultuous 2019.

Super Mario Odyssey: Another Gem

Posted in Best / Worst, Games, Personal, Screenshots on May 12, 2019 by slateman

It’s no real secret that I love Mario games. But with new hardware not being as high a priority as it was a decade and a half ago, Mario’s Odyssey adventure would have to wait. Two years later and my son asked for a Switch and the game he wanted was Mario! Well, if we must oblige the 8-year-old! And so, we began.

It’s always a friendly, familiar welcome returning to the Mushroom Kingdom and this game plays remarkably well. The new focus on collecting moons is also a welcome change which keeps your sessions going for as long as you’d like and the itch to get ‘just one more moon’ is one that hearkens back to my early days of gaming. The game looks great, controls wonderfully and is the traditional mix of rigorous challenge and lighthearted romp.

Now that my moon-collecting tally grows towards 600, I’m left with some issues. Races suck; I loathe them. That final stage is just brutal, as it should be, I suppose, and I find my interest waning as the elusive 100% is still some 200 moons away. I’ll have to update my listings with this, though I’ll more than likely just stop playing at some point.

I’m hoping we get another Mario adventure on the platform. Games have become so huge making their offerings quite scant compared to the old days. Three Mario games on the NES? Good times, those were! For now, some of the better screenshots from my adventure. Now to go collect a few more moons!

Diamond Skewb Tutorial + Jaws DEATH

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Cubing, Guides, Personal, Video on July 8, 2016 by slateman

A pair of recently-uploaded YouTube videos follow. The first is the long-gestating tutorial for the Diamond Skewb. I tried to make this video twice and both times the puzzle exploded on me. That just let pieces everywhere and no inspiration to fix/record a movie. So, I finally got around to it. This is an update to my Skewb & Skewb Diamond Algorithms post from last year.

The second video is just stupidity. This is from when I went to Universal Studios Hollywood in 2003. Mat and I were on the Jaws exhibit and as he rose from the depths, I got my camera right on in there and then…DEATH. Absurd. Don’t watch this, it’s a waste of your life.

R.I.P. Jeff Hanneman

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music, Personal with tags on May 4, 2013 by slateman

The Big 4 - Metallica. Slayer. Megadeth. Anthrax.They come and they go. People we don’t know, never met or spoke to, but who inspired or impressed us. Jeff Hanneman, the iconic lead guitarist of Slayer, the best live band I’ve ever seen (9x to be precise), is dead. Why should I care? He hasn’t played in Slayer full-time in two years. I’m not altogether in love with any new album in the past two decades. So…what’s the deal?

I’m bummed. There’s something about this that transcends Peter Steele, Layne Staley, Clive Burr or even Dimebag Darrel (though his was different because of circumstance.) This is because Jeff Hanneman was me. He was all of us. A normal guy, a scrappy metalhead who transcended fandom to become a legend. Is that glorifying a musician in a band whose songs include lyrics about Nazis, Satan and a whole lotta death? Hell yeah, and that is because the music was just that good. Today’s iPod rotation was a healthy dose of SLAYER! And while I don’t listen to the last few records, none are bad. They don’t have any miserable Countdown To Extinction, Black Album, I Hear Black, or Sound Of White Noise in their catalog. This band epitomized just about everything I love about music, about metal. And…to reiterate, they were the best band I’ve ever seen.

And maybe Jeff would’ve never rejoined the band, but it was always there in my mind that it could happen. Now it can’t. I think Gary Holt is one of the best guitarists out there. But he’s no Jeff Hanneman. I’m friggin’ bummed. I don’t know why it’s so bad. I can’t say it’s because he was SLAYER, can I? Would you understand?

Have you ever heard that one person at any show yelling it? 25 minutes before the band starts, during setbreak, during the tailgate. If you’ve heard it, you know…and if that is no more (the source, not the yelling), then it is a sad day indeed. Goddamnit…this sucks.

Guacamelee! Platinum!!!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Borderlands, Games, High Scores/Accomplishments, Personal, Uncharted with tags on April 17, 2013 by slateman

guacamelee!
I grabbed Guacamelee! last week and thoroughly enjoyed playing through it on both my PS3 and PSVita. The game is classic in so many senses. The tight controls, fun combat and spectacular visuals all made this a joy to work through. The fact that it was a Metroidvania game only helped.

Being on vacation, I was able to grab the game and play whenever I had a free moment and the Vita’s suspend option made it perfect. After beating it and 100%ing it, I went on to hard mode. Some of the arenas and bosses were tough (and cheap) but it all felt like small victories. It reminded me of getting my first platinum on Uncharted. While some areas were really tough, all you had to do was beat that one section. Games save after everything nowadays. Though I don’t want to remember that blue water room in UC. Nightmare.

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Anyways, Guacamelee! was a game I had on the horizon for a bit, and after getting another $10 free from PSN (that’s the third time they’ve given me free cash!!!) and a $3 PS+ discount (the best deal in gaming evah!) it was a no-brainer. Cross play only helped. I was uploading my save, playing on the PS3, uploading then playing back on the Vita. Brilliant. Well worth the cash and my seventh platinum!!!!

Speaking of: My other platinums: Uncharted 1-3, Borderlands, The Walking Dead and Resident Evil 5. All were worthy of my time.

And reflection time: We’re at the end of this cycle aren’t we? PS4/720 coming out in a few months. Looking back with a friend recently, this generation has had some *Great* games. I started writing an article on the best games of this generation. Never quite finished though. :)

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What I’m Playing: February Edition

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Personal on February 24, 2013 by slateman

gravityrush-katVacation week has been a bit insane here, really. In fact, they’ve been totally bat-shit crazy, but it’s OK; that’s life. In fact, I’ve had the chance to play some games this week. So, what’s what?

Gravity Rush
PS+ is the bomb, to reiterate the obvious. I grab everything that’s ‘free’ even if I don’t download it. Having beaten Uncharted: Golden Abyss and with zero interest in the arduous task of getting the platinum, I deleted that bad jackson and tossed on Wipeout. I’m not much of a racing fan though, so while it looked phenomenal, I deleted that too. Why not try Gravity Rush!? I’d tested out the demo and didn’t quite like it, really. However, it’s Free! The controls take some getting used to but it’s actually a pretty good game! And, in the process, I got a reminder about how much I love Japanese games. In the old days, I would pore through magazines, translate games and I loved it. The music, the quirky nature of Gravity Rush is wholly Japanese and I love it. Not sure if I’ll beat the game but it’s a fun romp while it’s lasting!

Aliens: Colonial Marines
I don’t need to say much more.

New Super Mario Bros. U
This game is traditional Mario fun. There is nothing like the feeling of running through the stage, full speed, bouncing off of enemies that were precisely placed for that purpose. There’s nothing better than looking at an area with a curious eye only to reveal a hidden coin in an invisible cave. The new Wii U controller is comfortable enough to play this familiar game. The HD visuals are nice, if not somewhat wasted. It’s Mario. It’s a mushroom. Sure, it’s nice to be in HD, but I’m waiting to see the Wii U play something gorgeous. Zelda is my first guess.

It’s the same game I’ve played before but it’s fun. I plan on getting every gold coin and unlocking whatever it is that unlocks. Sadly, after that, I’ll likely avoid the game for a while. As good as these games get, I rarely go back too much. Not like the classic, Super Mario Bros. 3 – probably my favorite game ever. *shrug*

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Stupid Updates A’coming…

Posted in Blog, Personal on February 22, 2013 by slateman

I haven’t updated in a few weeks and with reason. The first is that I’ve had so much cool stuff going on. The second is that I’ve had so much negative shit going on. I’m going to try to roll out some updates right now. Let’s see how this all goes…

New Cube Order Placed!!!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Cubing, Personal on February 7, 2013 by slateman

mf8-gigaminxMy birthday approaches and somehow my 3x3x5 is missing. I have a feeling one of my students may have lifted the Cube4U 3x3x5. Whatever the case, I can’t find it and…oh right, my birthday is coming! My mother sent me a few bucks and she originally wanted to get me my new cube of choice for Christmas. Therefore, the cash is going to a new cube order – an expensive one at that! So, I am replacing my 3x3x5 with a 3x3x7! I’m looking forward to this and hope it’s as good as the 3x3x5. I found it to be a very fun cube; it’s not very challenging but enjoyable to solve.

However, that cube doesn’t cost very much and I did mention this was an expensive purchase. Well, after a long wait, I’ll be adding an MF8 Gigaminx to my collection! This is a 5×5 version of the
Megaminx I got last March. I’m pretty psyched to try such a behemoth of a cube…and of course, my eyes have already wandered to the 7 and 9 layer versions (Teraminx & Petaminx) however, while the former is somewhat manageable financially, the latter is an absurd $230 or so. I think my wife would have a hard time with that. Especially when the PS4 is likely to come out this year. I digress. I won’t get these cubes before my birthday (Sunday) but I can’t wait to test them out. Stickering the Gigaminx isn’t high on my excitement list…but it has to be done. Happy birthday to me!!!

THPSHD Revert Pack

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Personal, Reflection, Tony Hawk Series on January 19, 2013 by slateman

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I’m a month and a half late to the game but I’m going to come right out and say it doesn’t matter.

Playing through the THPS3HD Revert Pack was bittersweet around every corner. Every element of my game time had that tinge of sad nostalgia. See, THPS3 came out in the autumn of 2001 and it remains my least favorite of the main Tony Hawk titles. That’s saying a lot, considering there were so many. Then add the fact that my beloved Hawk site Planet Tony Hawk is now dead. Finally, as I tried to get online and couldn’t find an available game, it all hit me hard. That ‘news’ that was evident to the world years ago…Hawk Games, gaming, my entire life – they’re not quite what they used to be.

Ah, there he goes being overly-dramatic again! No, screw that. THPS 3 is the worst Hawk title and I knew it, even back when I started making money off the whole deal. I had a good ride but something changed when Hawk 3 came and every one of us who played it back in ’99-’00 knew it. See, THPS 3 was when things really started getting rushed. In order to make the PS2’s launch, in order to have THPS 4 on shelves in the autumn of 2002, in order to keep the train moving. Let’s not forget the third game appeared on nine different platforms. They money train was going and nothing was going to stop it. Now, the masses ate this shit up which kept things going, which effectively diminished the quality. So…when I boot up a game and play the Airport as a level…it doesn’t bring happy nostalgia.

thpshd_hetfieldAnyways, what do we get with the revert pack? Reverts! L.A., Canada & the Airport! Two new pro skaters & two novelty skaters! Well, for $5, that’s actually pretty good – and contrary to early reports, you can use reverts in the original THPSHD levels. As for skaters, Steve Caballero & Geoff Rowley appear and both are welcome. Rowley was in the first five Hawk games and I loved having Cab in the game. As for the other two skaters? James Hetfield! It must be great skating as him! I mean, he was a skater during the mid-80s and he busted his arm twice while doing so. Robert Trujillo is less interesting, but hey, it’s Metallica. The problem is that I’ve already beaten career mode and have zero interest in doing it again.

As for the levels, I positively hate them. All three were revisited back in THUG2 and they’re no different here. I don’t know – I think they look terrible. OK, that’s strong, but with this HD facelift, I expected things to look…better!

Finally, the revert. It was the redefining element of THPS 3 and I think that’s where problems started. While THPS 4’s spine transfers were a smaller, yet more realistic upgrade, the revert was just madness. What started with ingenuity in THPS and THPS 2 now became utter absurdity. Combos went on forever and pre-planned lines effectively reduced my creativity to a button mash-fest with balance. As I skated through the airport today, it was the same. It was 2001 all over again and for me, it wasn’t a good thing.

As an overall package it feels like it lacks the shine we all grew accustomed to in those heyday years. I may groan over THPS 3 vs other titles but it was packed with hidden areas, cheats, skaters, etc. This DLC doesn’t have any new trophies/achievements and it does a poor job of telling you precisely what you’re getting.

But listen…the DLC costs $5 and while I don’t know stats, I’m sure it’s sold a decent amount. I can’t really complain about the DLC as much as the source content. What once was a huge part of my life is now relegated to disappointment. While I went back to THPSHD a fair number of times this summer, I don’t feel much of a beckon now. I think it’d be cool to see a THPS 4 DLC with spine transfers, Kona, London? Moscow? Hmm…maybe not. THPS 4 also came with vehicles, more skitching…Hmmm. I don’t know what I want – maybe that’s the problem. Maybe it’s time for me to retire from Hawk gaming for a little while. A long while, sad as that might be.

Still In Hospital: This Sucks

Posted in Blog, Personal on January 13, 2013 by slateman

h3Still in the hospital. Surgery last Monday, home Tuesday & Wednesday, back to hospital Thursday and here I sit, Sunday morning, with at least a day or two left. They’re taking care of me though; I’ll make a full recovery. All my articles will have to wait though. I wanted to finish my Best of 2012 one. I guess in the big picture, that’s not so very important, is it?