3x4x5 Get! Solved…Finally!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Cubing with tags on April 28, 2013 by slateman

3x4x5 CuboidI received my Tom Z’s 3x4x5 Cuboid last Monday and took the time to tension, lubricate and sticker it. Later that night it exploded, with several internal pieces coming out. Since i didn’t know how to fix that, I took the whole thing apart and 90 minutes later it was in usable form. There is one inner-layer piece that will bandage one layer if placed improperly. Ah, what a nightmare.

In any event, after getting it done, I mixed it up again and started to solve it. However, I messed up on one of the layers which caused parity and I was stuck. Fortunately, solving this was a lot like a 3x3x2 and a 3x3x5 (or 7) and getting it back to cuboid state while avoiding massive parity was not difficult. Once I figured that out, I was able to solve the rest with just that one parity algorithm (modified for even/odd configurations). On Thursday, I solved it!!! No cube has ever stumped me for a full week before. Now that I’ve done it, I still get caught on some situations, but it’s not altogether too difficult once you grasp it all. Solving this was pretty cool. I’ll post that one algorithm in case I ever forget it!

All in all, it’s a very cool puzzle. I’d like to get the 4x4x6 as well. Not an every-day solve, but definitely impressive and fun to work through!

Even Parity
Uu2 R2 F2 Uu2 U2 F2 R2 Uu2

Odd Parity
Uu2 R2 F2 Uu2 F2 R2 Uu2

New Super Mario U: Done!!!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, High Scores / Accomplishments with tags on April 21, 2013 by slateman

mario-u-4-stars

I went through the superstar road and got all the coins for a fourth star. That swimming level sucked. I used a P-Wing to get the last coin on the running stage for the last coin! This revealed the 9th superstar road stage. I was prepared for a nightmare.

Fortunately, it wasn’t difficult; it was just interesting…and cool. So, after beating that, I was pretty psyched but got nothing. This morning I went back and caught every Nabbit but still didn’t get the fifth star…Then I noticed I was missing one hidden exit (#94).

mario-u-completed

After zipping through and getting that, I was greeted with the above message – and have now completed the whole game!!! Sadly, I’ve had enough Super Mario Bros. U for a little while. That’s sad mostly because I have little reason to return to the Wii U. I’m looking forward to the new firmware upgrade coming shortly, however. Once again, I’m also excited for the DLC to return to Mario. 100%! Nice!!!

mario-u-5-stars

Castlevania: Order Of Ecclesia Art

Posted in Artwork, Best / Worst, Blog, Game Art, Games with tags on April 21, 2013 by slateman

I can’t say I even remember playing this. After completing Portrait Of Ruin twice, I vaguely recall something afterwards. If anything, it didn’t leave a lasting memory other than ‘Oh, maybe I played that…wasn’t as good as Portrait.’ In any event, I’m trying to go through some hard drive stuff and these two artworks are pretty sweet…so while the game may not have been so spectacular, the art here is. Enjoy!

Order_Of_Ecclesia_1

Order_Of_Ecclesia_2

New Super Mario U: Almost Done!

Posted in Blog, Games, High Scores / Accomplishments with tags on April 20, 2013 by slateman

super-mario-u-two-stars

I’ve been going back to New Super Mario Bros. U here and there to collect the last remaining gold coins. I’ve always been a completionist when it comes to games like this and this one is good enough to warrant this dedication. I remember the first New Super Mario Bros. which may very well be the fourth-best Mario game ever. The Wii U version is good, hell, it’s great, but it’s not necessarily as legendary as the DS game. In any event, it’s great that I can play the game on my controller while the kids watch Shrek for the 199th time (this week). So, today I managed to get the last hidden stages and the last gold coins.

super-mario-u-three-stars

What does this leave? Well, I need to beat two more superstar road levels, collect the last one on the Run For Your Life level (which may require a P-Acorn) and then the ultimate, final superstar road level. These last stages will prove to be pretty difficult but I have faith I’ll beat them. Once again, I’ll have to admit, trophies/achievements would be awfully nice for this type of game. As lame as some people may think they are, they really motivate these types of endeavors. You know, the ones where you waste hours away trying to collect last coins by performing super-specific, rigid jumps and maneuvers. Yeah those. I look forward to getting these last 10 coins. Then, I think you beat the game and get something else…but by then, why will I care? Oh, maybe for the New Super Luigi U DLC this summer!!!

Mega/Gigaminx Algorithms

Posted in Blog, Cubing with tags , , on April 20, 2013 by slateman

megaminxI find both the Megaminx and Gigaminx to be fun puzzles to solve but I always get stuck on the last layer. The last two steps get me every time. Then, I take a little break from the puzzles and forget the algorithms again the next time! In fact, my Gigaminx has sat unsolved (last-layer corner orientation and permutation) for well over a week. The puzzle is quite impressive when solved. With the last layers unsolved…not so much. SO, let’s do it!

Last-Layer Orientation: Clockwise (Turn cube so top is L)
R’ U’ R U

Last-Layer: Counter-Clockwise
U’ R’ U R

(Tip: Prime/Regular – If Counter, U first)

Last-Layer Permutation
R’ D R…R’ D’ R

Not so bad! These are all from LanceTheBlueKnight’s Megaminx Tutorial. :D

Mini-Review: Amorphis – Circle – Yesss!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music, Reviews on April 20, 2013 by slateman

Amorphis-CircleI truly believe all reviews should come with a disclaimer. What’s your background with this? Can you review the Star Wars prequels if you never saw the original trilogy? Sure…but your opinion suddenly doesn’t matter to, well, anyone. The new Amorphis is great. Why? Well, the brief intro: A friend gave me Thousand Lakes in 1994 and the band has never trumped it. I hated Elegy at first but stuck with the band through several weak albums before they stormed back with Eclipse. Since then, some are great (Skyforger) and others less so (Silent Waters). There. Now, you have an understanding of my approach to this record. It’s important because like many others, Tales will always remain the pinnacle. But of course, I can’t compare this to that epic. How does this album stand on its own?

After listening to the new October Tide, I found myself bored. Nothing caught me at all, nothing stayed with me after I left the car. When I stepped out of my lovely mini-van to run into the store, I found myself humming several riffs, vocal melodies, drum beats. Yes! That’s what you want! Circle blends the trademark Amorphis sound with spectacular production and has that requisite balance of familiar yet new. Tomi’s vocals are as strong as ever, matching the best clean vocals of the band’s career with that growl that blows away all others. While the death vocals aren’t used too often, they are placed well. Guitars sound crisp and clear, keyboards fit perfectly and the rhythm section fulfills its purpose with a great bass sound and a few well-timed double-bass sections.

This was one of those records that was ‘pretty good’ the first time, but each subsequent listen drew me in more. So many harmonies, riffs and vocal lines were left on my brain minutes even hours after pressing pause. The pattern of Good (Eclipse) – OK – Great – OK is followed by fucking awesome on Circle. With Kalmah coming, I won’t lock this one in, but four months in, it’s by far the album of the year so far. Now to put it on again. LOUD.

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.

guacamelee-platinum

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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2013-04-10-090456

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2013-04-16-180119

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Mini-Reviews: Soilwork / October Tide – Unimpressed…

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music, Reviews on April 17, 2013 by slateman

OT-TunnelI really wanted to like both of these albums but I just can’t get into them. Moving backwards in time, the newest October Tide was highly anticipated as I’m a huge fan of the original records as well as the newest incarnation of the band. Those first two albums were awesome, filling the gap left by Katatonia’s departure from doom metal. The rebirth was heavy as shit and catchy. This new one is…well, it’s heavy. Track 2 has a super catchy portion in the middle. I generally can’t recall anything else from any other track. It’s true and unfortunate. It’s so mediocre I don’t know what else to write. Is it bad? No. It’s…just…boring.

The Living InfiniteOh Soilwork. This isn’t too different from October Tide, really. We’ll just substitute those albums in the middle (anything after Predator’s) for OT’s absence. Then, we had The Panic Broadcast which I thought was incredible. Their new, double-disc effort sounds awesome. It is HEAVY, the mix, the drums, guitars, vocals all sound great. The problem is that I can’t listen to it. Some songs are good. The first track starts out great. However, it all falls into the formulaic problem that plagued everything after A Predator’s Portrait. I remember that album coming out and knowing right then and there that the band was done. You could tell the next album would be all about the hook. The catchy riff that led to the obligatory clean vocal chorus. Here we are again, and some of these chorus parts are unlistenable. They’re cheesy. I can’t do it.

As for the double disc portion, that I can handle. I realize that lots of times a double album means filler. It might not be the case here, but I have a hard time getting through even a few songs. It would be great to enjoy this record, but it suffers from what plagued all those ‘middle’ albums. The planned riff-chorus formula. Meh.

New Cube Order Placed! 3x4x5 Cuboid!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Cubing on April 17, 2013 by slateman

3x4x5 CuboidI haven’t posted anything in a bit…feeling a bit uninspired to do a lot of stuff, sadly. However, it’s been a while since my last cube order (OK, just 2 months) and I opted to pick up a 3x4x5 cuboid. It’s a different puzzle but looks like it should be pretty cool. I’m excited about it and will now be checking the mailbox daily for a rather impressive addition to the puzzle collection. I’m psyched!!! The shape-shifting element is one of the biggest draws. Can’t wait!!!

New Bone Fire MP3: Thirteen II

Posted in Blog, Downloads, MP3s, Music on March 31, 2013 by slateman

Don’t even think of asking me how I managed to record two songs in one day, when I’ve only recorded two songs in the last two years. Once again, this is just an excuse to write/record but I don’t care. It’s fun. Here’s the newest addition…in all its glory. Enjoy!!!