Archive for the Personal Category

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

THPS-3-HD-Revert-Pack-DLC-logo

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?

UPDATES…..

Posted in Blog, Borderlands, Cubing, DoDon Pachi, Games, Godflesh, Personal, Resident Evil, Street Fighter, The Walking Dead, Yankees on November 2, 2012 by slateman

It’s been a long time and a lot has happened. I’ve had some ups and downs these past few weeks but the good has been rather good. Let’s see…

First off, I’ll be getting a new cube any day now and I’m pretty psyched. It’s a cool one, it’s the curvy copter, and it’s a jumbling puzzle. It should be spectacular.

My Godflesh site turned 17 years old a few weeks ago. That’s insanely old.

Resident Evil 6 and Borderlands 2 – Making progress. Taking forever. Well worth the cashola.

I also picked up Street Fighter X Tekken as well for cheap. I’d played it several months ago and look forward to having it in my library!

The Yankees – I couldn’t even write about this. I still can’t.

The Walking Dead – both the game (episode 4) and show (episode 3) were solid. The game may have been a filler/connector episode and the show an introducer, but both were strong and make me yearn for more. Sadly the game’s sequel must wait quite a while.

Hurricane Sandy – :( So much destruction. :( :(

EPISODE VII!?!?!? I’ll post some thoughts on this soon. It may actually have a chance of being good. Four words – Pirates Of The Caribbean.

DoDonPachi: Maximum came out on the iPad and was on sale so I snatched that up. It’s kinda fun. It’s cool seeing the returning characters/stages/music and it is a pretty good challenge on later levels. I may pick up ESP Galuda II as well.

Enough for now?

Planet Tony Hawk: Closed…Done…Forever

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Personal, Reflection, Tony Hawk Series on September 13, 2012 by slateman

Back in 1999 I started what would become the largest Tony Hawk-related gaming site in the world. I would peak at over a million hits a week. I created no fewer than 400 pages of articles, previews, reviews, guides, tutorials, images, videos and editorials about Tony Hawk, his line of games, his skating, and everything in between. It was my baby (along with Crumbling Flesh). It opened doors for me to go to California several times a year, meet new friends, make connections, grow personally and professionally and to meet Hawk multiple times. I had a good run. I had a damn good run.

So, when Skate came out after seven years of annual Hawk games, something was ready to give. Another entry got some good scores but that was the beginning of the decline. We saw Activision scramble to make a pair of peripheral-required games, a motion game on the NDS, numerous mobile titles and a new download-only game. The heyday is over. It has been for a while, but today was my eye opener.

As I received Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD a few weeks ago, I was psyched to get back to the site. I wrote a new FAQ, started making updates to my awesome Hawk History article and got ready to do some catch up. The problem was, I couldn’t log in. My email stopped working. No one would reply to my requests. I had that inspiration and it was burning bright. It felt like it did back in the old days. Gap lists for THPS. Stat icon locations in THPS3. My empassioned slagging of THAW. Even when it was bad, it was oh-so-good. I poured my heart into this site and I was tremendously excited to continue that devoted dedication.

Today I received an email saying that all Planet sites were archived and no updates would ever be made to them again. Wait…What? Yep. Archived. Closed. Done.

Wait…WHAT?!?! Apparently someone dropped the ball because I never got an email. Even in the midst of all the crap mail I get, I never came across a message saying, “Hey, your site, you know, the one you have worked on for 13 years of your life…yeah, that one. Well, it’s going to be closing.” I never got the opportunity to say, “Goodbye.” Just one day, it was inaccessible. Two weeks of emails and waiting yielded the news. “Gone. Closed. Forever.”

First of many meetings – NYC 2001

I interrupted the writing of this article to put my kids to bed. I held my son and rocked him to sleep, feeling his hands clench and relax on my shoulder as he dozed. Is this a big deal? Listen, my four kids have their health. I have a job. It is just a game and it really wasn’t my baby; my baby boy is my baby. This post is not to whine about how I’ve been wronged but rather to rue the loss of control over something special.

It is a premature and unexpected ending of a massive 13-year journey. It is painful to know I had no say in its fate. The money ran dry years ago but that excitement of updating something you’re so proud of remained…until I realized I could no longer share that passion.

Planet Tony Hawk was the source of great happiness and pride. It allowed me to do so much, see so many things and go so many places. I enjoyed almost every minute of it. It’s been a great ride. For anyone who took part in that adventure, you know what I’m talking about. And today, I’m done with that journey forever.

Back From NY!!!

Posted in Blog, Personal, Photos, The Walking Dead on August 15, 2012 by slateman

I spent a week visiting my family back home in NY. I’ve got some new things to write about…I started playing The Walking Dead (PS+ free!!!), Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, and have decided that Alcest’s Les Voyages De L├óme may bethe best album of the year. Until I get there though, enjoy this pic I snapped late at night @ camp a few weeks back. A long-exposure of the moon yielded a pretty good shot!!!

Moonlight Exposure

Double Rainbow: FTW!

Posted in Blog, Personal, Photos on July 1, 2012 by slateman

Double Rainbow!!!

Beautiful day followed by heinous storms followed by SUN! Double Rainbow time!

Ziplining!!!!!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Personal, Video on June 23, 2012 by slateman

After the last day of school, we went up to Grand Falls in Canada with Erin’s cousin’s family and went ziplining! Although my foot was a disaster, not going was not an option. I convinced Erin to go and we have a video of each of us! Many thanks to everyone over at Zip Zag for making this an awesome experience! Videos below!

Summer Vacation Updates: Gout! Games! Foliage Ocean!?

Posted in Blog, Cubing, Games, Personal, Reviews, Ys with tags , , , , , on June 23, 2012 by slateman

Update #1: The Gout Sucks! I really needn’t say more.

UG&G

OK, I played Ultimate Ghosts & Goblins several years back when it first appeared on the PSP but this week’s $5 sale well…sold me. I’ll be heading out to camp next month and figured I’d stock up on some portable gaming. Of course, this is a poor decision because UG&G is one of the most brutal gaming experiences ever. I knew this having stopped playing all those years ago due to sheer frustration and outright disgust ad the developers. It’s cheap, difficult and evil. However, it’s also classic. It’s a good mix of old and new, but I think it needed to draw from some other sources as well. Its save system is archaic, and while this may appeal to the hardcore gamer, I am disappointed in the layout. Much like Maximo missed out on opportunities, this game could’ve benefited from some tweaks here and there.

The Glory Of Ys

Now, this is what I’ve been waiting for. Back when the Vita launched, we all sensed the drought of killer games. It happens after each hardware launch. However, as I went through the PSN store to see what they had, Ys Seven and Ys: Oath In Felghana were the only two there. No Chronicles??? Supposedly there was a problem and so this game just snuck in there recently. Oh, I’m psyched. Now, I admit that I liked playing the game on the NDS several years back but something happened to my cart, and I never finished it. I’ve run through Book I on the PSP as well IIRC, but something happened once I got to Book II. (Are you seeing a trend here?) This all means I’m friggin’ thrilled to finally get to this. This too will be summer gaming at camp. Headphones, those classic tunes, oh man, this is going to be sweet!

Rochard

I purchased this game several months ago and really never got a chance to dive into it. It seemed a cool concept but only recently have I dug it out to try it. It isn’t perfect and the story is entirely skippable. However, the gravity gun and control over gravity itself are both just awesome ideas. Now, the rest of the game is the generic Metroidvania that we all know and love. And even this generation, this game was done, and done better, with Shadow Complex. Now that game friggin’ rocked. However, while this is just a generally-good game, the inclusion of gravity control and the gun make it different enough to be enjoyed in its own right. I recommend this…I Like would be the review caption.

Celceta

Finally…Ys Celceta is now suffixed Foliage Ocean In Celceta. Of course, it’ll be renamed when localized. And it will be localized, likely by XSeed. I’m looking forward to it, the game drops in September, let’s hope for a translation in early/mid ’13? Now, I haven’t bought any of the PSP games retail (got Oath and Chronicles digitally) but I do hope for a nice packaging. I’d love to shell out some cash for something like that. Music CD, map, some nonsense that fools like me pick up. We’ll see. In any event, the screenshots show a nice world map in the upper-right-hand portion of the screen, a sleek HUD and I’m psyched.

OK, this was a long update but had a lot to cover. My cubes finally hit the U.S. so I hope to have them by the middle of next week. That’ll be cool as I gave my student my Windmill Cube. :) I’m curious how similar the Fisher Cube is to that one. Let’s get this gout totally cleared up (OMFG So Bad!) and life will be pretty good!