Sunday, August 21, 2011

Attack on Multiplayer Shooters

This is an impromptu attack brought on by a recent experience playing an online multiplayer shooter. Online shooters can be really enjoyable; especially if you are having a great time playing with nice people who can take themselves seriously and have fun at the same time. Then you get people who just run around and shoot anything that moves (even if its a teammate) You "meet" all sorts of people playing online games, including the aforementioned. And people's skill levels will vary.
There will be inexperienced Newbies who want to have fun and get better at the game. You will find the moderate players who are pretty skilled, but don't play like a religion. Veterans are highly skilled due to hours and hours of hard work; and Hardcore Vets who eat breath and sleep the game until they have perfected their skill. Each of these usually want to have fun or even play a serious game; however, dotted amongst all of these classes you will find Noobs. Noobs are jerks who don't care about gaming etiquette, other people's enjoyment, or common courtesy. They are often boastful of their supposed prowess, and won't miss an opportunity to let everyone know they are "Tha Man." These are the people that suck the fun out of online gaming. Months ago I quit playing online because of Noobs and now that I am back into it, I'm fining that they still irk me so.
One of the most common offenses Noobs commit is Spawn Camping. In online shooters, multiplayer shooters/ adventure games each player spawns (or comes to life) at specific spots in the map called Spawn Points. Sometimes they can be anywhere on the map, or they can be in specified locations (like a team base or hub.) Camping is when a player holes up in one spot and stays there to pick off the others at their whim. While some frown at just camping at a serious offense, I have to remind you that Snipers work that way.
Spawn Camping is when a player holes up where they have an excellent vantage of a Spawning Point and kills the other players as they appear. The effected player has no time to react, they are dead on arrival. The offending player (or Noob) is only limited by their ammo. This has the effect of ticking off the other players. No one except the Noob will be having any fun.
A slight offshoot of this is when players run through the Spawning Points, killing the appearing players as they pass. This is less offensive, especially if the offending players don't linger.
But why is this such a problem? And believe me it ticks me off something fierce when this happens. To me, the level designers should have taken this into account and made it impossible (or at least very difficult) for the opposing team to reach the other's Spawn Point. This would cut down on Noobery and increase the enjoyment of everyone.
Noobs are no fun, and players like that should not be allow to play.
On the other hand, Newbs (Newbies) should be given a chance to gain experience and increase their skills and not made a mockery of.
Wow, posting this made me feel a bit better...but I'm still ticked (>.<)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Beanie Teaser Trailer

After the events of Power On, Beanie attempts to have a bit of rest, but is called in on an urgent task to begin his long awaited review show. I filmed this shortly after watching Clerks, hence the homage at the start. Due to technical difficulties the actual review is behind schedule, so I decided to use the episodes opening as a teaser for the new series. The episode should be up before the end of July. Special Thanks to Dizzy Lizzy for portraying the postal worker. The music heard is the "Twisted Nerve" from Kill Bill Part 1. The ending sound clip is the game over screen from Metal Gear.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dizzy Lizzy Vlog 1 - Van's Warped Tour 2011

Dizzy Lizzy, the music-loving younger sister of self-famed internet personality Beanie, has just returned from her annual trip to attend Van's Warped Tour, and is ready to share her experience. Photos and Video are from Warped Tours 13, 16, and 17. Bands shown playing live are Every Avenue, Terrible Things, The Mighty Regis, and All American Rejects.
Music during the titles is "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" by Blue Öyster Cult
Other music is the property of the bands performing

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fairy Tale Theatre

What is "Fairy Tale Theatre" you ask? It is an annual summer camp geared toward entertaining and enlightening children on the ancient art of stage-craft. Over 3 weeks, dozens of children participate in either of the four plays for the production. These children will learn how to act on and off the stage. They will also learn the ins and outs of a stage play, from: taking direction, applying make-up, wearing costumes, and set construction. It is a fun program for children from the ages of 7 to 18.

Why am I showing this on RNA? Because this year I am one of the directors. The above video clip is a short advertisement for my play. I have had a wonderful time working with this group of kids, and we're going to put on quite a show.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Brief Conversation With Tak Fujii

I sat down to Twitter today in a bit of a Bum mood because of some news which I won't go into detail about. For some reason I had been having a bad day even though (for me at least) nothing was going wrong. It could just be my pent up stress releasing itself in a negative way, but I've been down. Anyway, I log onto Twitter and I'm still in a bum mood. Nothing good is happening in the world--I'm not even eating my dinner of home cooked southern fried chicken with cheesy macaroni and boiled green beans (one of my favorite comfort meals.) I'm just about to log out for the night when a tweet pops up from Tak Fujii, a producer at Konami. Tak has been following me for a little while now--funny thing is: here I am, a talented artist in my own right, but otherwise a nobody in the world; and Tak Fujii starts following me. I'm pretty sure he began following me before I followed him. It was all around E3 so I'm a little fuzzy on the details.

Anyway, I reply to his post--mainly just for fun but genuinely concerned. Again, I was about to log off when another post by Mr. Fujii popped up. This time it was a reply to me! I was surprised. Rarely does anyone reply to my own posts, let alone someone in the gaming industry. Flabbergasted, I replied again--hoping that he would again reply. A few minutes later he did. This was unprecedented! Never before had I received two replies from the same person. That justifies a conversation! I replied once more with my fingers crossed; I waited and waited, but there was not a third reply. Eventually he tweeted again--this time not directed to me, but still relative to the conversation. This tweet effectively ended the conversation; and I would have continued, but I felt I'd be pushing my luck.

I have no idea why Tak Fujii started following me on Twitter. It could be that I follow Konami and other industry people, and that he's the kind of guy that actually follows fans; or it could be (but highly unlikely) that he's seen my videos or checked out my blog, deciding to follow me. For whatever reason, I am glad that he does follow me on Twitter and that he was kind enough to indulge me in a brief conversation. It greatly improved my mood. What was the conversation about? Hospitals. Don't believe me? Here it is.

I made this image in Twitter format so the conversation begins at the bottom and goes up.

He's quite a character, but then again, so am I :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

DOS Games

I'm fortunate to be part of a generation that grew up with video games. Many young gamers today have the same opportunity only with much more advanced games and consoles. In an industry that's really only been around for 30 years, there has been significant leaps in the technology--especially within the past decade. Here's an example of how gaming has evolved: Back in the 80s and early 90s computers were run on an operating system called DOS (disk operating system). From here you could run all of your computer's programs, including games. Games, as well as other programs, were on floppy disks which you could insert into the computer's modem and access. Now-a-days on either computers or on gaming consoles, video games are available in a variety of medium--the main two being disks in the form of CD, DVD, or BluRay format; or in a purely digital capacity. As a comparison to the memory taken up by games, Space Quest (a well-known DOS game) takes up 688 Kilobytes of memory or 688,000 bytes; whereas Infamous for the PS3 takes up 7 Gigabytes or roughly 7,000,000 bytes of information. And there is roughly a 20 year gap between the games. Ergo, within the last 2 decades the size of the average video game has exponentially grown tenfold. The popularity of gaming has also been on the rise since the turn of the millenium. This can be attributed to the increased availablity of games and their consoles. Everyone can be a gamer: grandparents, adults, teens, even young children. It is a fantastic world to live in.
But I'm rambling. When I was younger I was introduced to gaming through DOS. I would play Oregon Trail at school, Lemmings in my summer computer camp, and others at home or with friends. Of course this was long before the boon in gaming that came with the mid 90s--when the console wars began; and I didn't truly become (what I would call) a gamer until after Sony released the PlayStation. But I still have my roots in DOS computer games. Recently I've been pouring over the internet searching for programs and peripherals to download and play some of the old DOS games that began my interest in games. Finally my search has come to fruition and I have been granted access to many titles including but not limited to: The Elder Scrolls, the (in)famous Sierra games like the Space Quest and King's Quest series, and one of my favorite DOS games of all time--Scorched Earth. Having complete access to these games has given me a thought bubble--"I can do DOS Let's Plays now!" And I have every intention to follow through with that. I haven't yet decided if I'm going to have them as part of the Power On series or just as their own entity, but they will get done. Games that are not practical to do LPs of, I will still try to play and get footage to use for review purposes. I am excited about this. So be on the look out for the first DOS Let's Play (hopefully soon) when Beanie Plays: Space Quest!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Review Requests

With the season 1 finale (hopefully) close at hand, it is time to start thinking of the future. In the fall, Power On will be back with a vengeance. The episodes will actually have reviews in them. I know! Exciting right? So I'm going to ask if there are any reviews that my viewers would like to see. Any game, any movie, any TV show. Now keep in mind that I may or may not be able to capture footage for some. Either way, they will be done in some capacity. So please, if you have anything you want to get reviewed by Beanie or Random Ninja post in the comments.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Welcom Back, PlayStation Network

Sony is bouncing back from it's recent hacker scare with moxie. The PSN store and PS Home are back to full operating status, to the cheer of thousands of users. To thank all of the users patience during PSN hiatus, they have set up a couple appreciation programs within the PlayStation Store and Home.
Welcome Back is program within the PlayStation Store where users will be able to download certain purchases free of charge; such as, a 30 day free subscription to PlayStation Plus and all the services therein, be able to download two PS3 games and two PSP games free of charge--a total of 4 games, and purchase a free theme for their PS3. The free subscription will end after 30 days with no roll-over. This means that you don't have to worry about paying for an additional subscription--unless you want to join Plus that it. This also means that anything you buy using it will only last for the 30 days. The free games are picked from a set of five games--not any game offered over PSS. The PS3 games are: Dead Nation, inFamous, Little Big Planet, Super Stardust HD, and the Wipeout HD bundle. Users can pick any two of these using the Welcome Back program. There are also PSP games available for free download. Those are: Killzone: Liberation, Little Big Planet (PSP), ModNation Racers (PSP) and Pursuit Force. Just like with the PS3 titles, any two of these can be downloaded. Pixel Wonderland Dynamic Theme is available using Welcome Back as well. It is an 8-bit scene of woodland life along a shore in what appears to be Alaska. There are random sprites all over, some moving--including a moose, a beaver, and a whale. I do not know how long this reward program will be active, so I suggest jumping on it soon.
Welcome Home is a similar program within PlayStation Home. 100 free items are available through the Central Plaza Kiosk. Among these items are costumes, furniture, decorations, and personal spaces. I will not list every single Item, but the personal spaces are Home Mansion Garage, and Dragon's Lair. This 100 item bundle is only the first phase of the reward program; one can only guess at what is next in store for the faithful PSN users.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Demo Review - Infamous 2 and Red Faction: Armageddon

Since the PlayStation Store has returned from it's hiatus dealing with the hacking incident, I have downloaded a few demos and have played some. Here is basically a reactionary posting detailing my initial reaction to Infamous 2 and Red Faction: Armageddon.

Red Faction: Armageddon
I have not been much of a Red Faction fan in the past, I'm sorry to say. That is mainly due to a lack of exposure to the games themselves. To my knowledge, I haven't actually played any of them for one reason or another; however, I did download this demo, and without any preconceptions I think I can give an honest review on the gameplay and the quality of the game itself (well at least the demo)
Right from the get-go we see our protagonist being run out of town and forced to escape into the sewers--nice. Every game needs a sewer level, don't you think? Well, to be fair, it's not a typical sewer level. You are definitely under ground. You are quickly introduced to the controls, which I have to applaud the designers on. A fairly straightforward design keeps it simple enough for anyone to play, but still has enough variety to keep the action interesting. The left analogue stick is for movement--forward, backward, and side-to-side. Pressing the left stick enables your character to sprint. The right stick is for looking up, down, and left to right. Pressing the right stick initiates a melee attack. I've always been a little confused by this in games--to me melee attack should be one of the shoulder buttons. Speaking of...L1 allows you to take aim with your selected weapon and R1 (more affectionately known as the trigger) is for firing said weapon. There is a new game mechanic introduced called "Nanites" which by way of R2 produces a shockwave attack--either in a "Hulk smash!" kind of way or in a directional attack--which will send your enemies flying and damage your surroundings. By using L2 the "Nanites" reconstruct demolished structures. In order to accomplish this the player must hold down L2 and keep the "stream" in the direction of the desired reconstruction. This is only a temporary reconstruction, lasting long enough for the player to proceed. Now for the face buttons. The d-pad is used to select weapons--one being allotted to each direction--making in-fight weapon switching quick-paced and simple without needing to take the player out of the action. The triangle crouches the player, while the X button makes them jump. Circle enables you to dodge attacks by rolling either forward, backward, or side-to-side depending on which direction with the Left stick the player is moving. Square is the action button as well as allowing the player to reload their selected weapon. Among the weapons presented in the demo are your standard assault riffle--a staple of action games, a magnet gun which fires twice--once for the anchor and once for the reciever (during the demo I actually found little use for this apart from gleefully sending enemies flying into the distance--yet strangely it is currently the highest user voted weapon on Red Faction's website,) a grenade launcher which fires remotely detonated sticky grenades--it was gratifying to come across an enemy, fire the grenade and see their "Oh, Sh**!" faces just before you detonate the charge (which is done by pressing the action button,) and finally my personal favorite, the singularity cannon--a gun which fires miniature black holes! I'm not joking, it is a gun that fires mini-black holes! Upon impact a spacial singularity is created, sucking in everything within its radius until is explodes. I found it very useful when ambushed by a horde of enemies.
I familiarized myself with the controls quite rapidly, and was very comfortable as I moved through the sewer tunnels. Not being familiar with the series, I don't know if the enemies were new to the game or were staples. They reminded me of the monsters in the Doom or Duke Nukem games of old--kind of demonic/insect/alien looking creatures coming to eat your lunch. Eventually you reach a point where your character enters a power suit. I'm not sure what it was called, but it was your standard armored suit complete with machine guns and missiles. Once in it you have to run a gauntlet of metal structures and oncoming monsters.
The destruction engine (sorry, I'm not familiar with its actual name) from Guerrilla is back, and with the added ability to reconstruct the environments as well, it is better than ever. A few times I found myself wondering around, just to see what I could put back together. All-in-all, the demo had decent action, amazing graphics, great controls, and ok voice acting; but was pretty straight forward. There were no twists nor turns from the presented path--or if there were, they only led to more ammo. Although it is just a demo, maybe there will be a bit more variety in the actual game. Red Faction: Armageddon is Random Ninja Approved. Based on the demo I'd give it at least a 4 out of 5.

Infamous 2
Now unlike with Red Faction, I have played the original Infamous. I loved the first game despite its flaws in controls. The stylized look to everything, really gave the appearance of a gritty superhero story--made all the better with the comic book-like panels in the cut-scenes. However, one of the best aspects, apart from it being a free-roam sandbox style game, was the karma meter. Based on your decisions during the story, you either received positive or negative karma, which in turn enabled you to have different powers--much like the Knights of the Old Republic series. Well all of the things I loved about the first game are back in the sequel...almost. It is still a free-roam sandbox game with an ever changing karma meter tracking either your rise to grace or your fall into darkness, and the comic-style panels are back as well. However, I am not sold on Cole's new look or voice. Cole is the main character, a messenger/delivery man who inadvertently destroyed a large chunk of Empire City (the game's equivalent to New York City) simultaneously gaining supernatural powers and killing thousands of people. In Infamous 2, Cole and his sidekick Zeke have traveled to the game's equivalent to New Orleans (sorry I can't remember the name) under the belief that Cole will acquire new powers which he will use to defeat a coming enemy called "The Beast"
The demo is quite expansive, allowing the player near-full range of Cole's abilities--at least the ones achieved in the first game plus a few new ones. Right from the start, I could tell that there would be a problem with the controls. It was also a problem with the first one. They are too sensitive. You barely press the left stick to move, and Cole has gone sprinting in that direction. The amount of pressure applied to the controls determines Cole's speed. Right stick moves the camera--unlike with Red Faction, Cole doesn't actually look in the direction you move the camera. In order to use Cole's lightning, you must press and hold L1 to aim. This is one of my preferred controller moves. The best example being in Metal Gear Solid 4, how the trigger (R1) was both the melee attack and weapon fire button, however, the weapon only fires if you hold down L1 as well. This allows the player to have more control over combat. Although that's where the game's controls similarities end. Cole does have a melee attack, but it is done by pressing the square button. rather than having a combination of buttons, one only needs to repeatedly bash the square button until a small gauge fills up. This represents the amp--which is a new weapon introduced in the game. To me it looks like a wicked bat that Cole used to bash his enemies. Once the gauge fills up, you can press the triangle button to perform a killing move (for lack of a better term) There are a few different ones and they are each awesome and acrobatic. The other face buttons used with L1 use different lightning attacks. A new move introduced is a way for Cole to move objects--much like Magneto--he can lift and hurl them using his electricity to generate magnetic fields. Cole is also a free climber, which is a big part of the game. He scales buildings and other structures with relative ease; however, it's not that easy and (at least in the first game) his climbing was too sensitive like the other controls--he would grab when you don't want him to.
The demo jumps around the story of the game--going between at 4 different mission and alternating whether Cole is good or evil. To start he's good and uses his powers to take down some thugs calling themselves the Militia while trying to find a shard that will grant him more powers. Once that is over, the demo skips to a later mission. Only this time, Cole is evil. His powers are slightly different to reflect his attitude. It is in this section that the players are introduced to the supernatural thugs--reavers(I think) After you stop a fight between the Militia and the Revers( sorry I'm not sure how it's supposed to be spelled) he is sent to rescue a kidnapped girl--though she looks likes she's in her 20s The girl leads you to her uncle, who is apparently leading a resistance against the Militia. After a few words, another monster called a devourer arrives. This guy is big--not the biggest thing Cole has ever fought, but large all the same and with a hard rocky hide which appears to be impervious to lightning; however, the inside of his mouth looks fleshy and vulnerable. Putting 2 and 2 together, I immediately began tossing lightning grenades into his roaring mouth until I killed the monster. After this victory, the demo shifts once again. Cole is good once more and is sent to retrieve some cases of medical supplies from the Militia. This section introduces another power called the ionic vortex. Using great amounts of power Cole can create an electric tornado which draws in enemies (and other things) and will usually destroy everything. The first time I activated it, I accidentally did it in the middle of a busy intersection. It looked amazing. Arcing lightning dances along the telephone lines as a swirling torrent sucked in all of the pedestrians and cars. It was over in a matter of seconds, but it wowed me. After collecting three of the cases I made for the fourth, and thinking that the demo would end soon I unleashed a vortex on a large contingent of Militia surrounding my prize. Again it was glorious, but I was correct, the demo ended with that.
I'm finding this one to be a tough call. While I love the concept of the game, the powers, the premise and the look and feel; I can't seem to get over my hang ups on the controls. They are just too sensitive. And for a game that has visceral action like this, maybe the sensitivity should have been toned down a bit. Not a lot--just a bit. The demo for 2 did seem to be more refined than the first, but on the whole, it had the same feel while I was running around. Even with my hang-ups I quickly acclimated to the control scheme and was quite adept at running about, jumping, and gliding through the air. Climbing is where I had the most trouble, but with more practice...
Anyway, based on the demo I give this game a solid 4 out of 5. It is Random Ninja Approved, but maybe they should reduce the sensitivity to the controls. Oh, and I typically don't like it when water kills your character--at least these give you a chance to get out, but really...

Keep an eye out for my next Demo Review, where I discuss LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean and Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls (the other 2 demos I downloaded)

(note: Images above are the official box art for the PS3 games.)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Updates Again

A Note from the Random Ninja:

Things are in the works which I hope will increase the audience of Power On and the number of visitors to this blog. As the 2-year anniversary draws closer, I like to keep my head held high and take pride in myself for doing this. Even though my viewer total has been rather low, I like to think that somewhere out there someone watches my insane ramblings and cares about my viewpoint of games and movies. I've had several compliments from some readers--mainly through email--but the sentiment is the same no matter the outlet. As I have stated in previous "UPDATE" posts, Power On will be continued for another "season" but will return to it's initial "review" roots rather than be just spoof videos. I plan to coordinate with my partner Kyle (of Muzak Corner) to work on the reviews and the storyline as the episodes move on. Of course, the season finale of Power On needs to come first. I am working on that as fast as I can; however, there are several factors that attribute to its tardiness. Chief among them being commitments to my local community theatre troupe. Along with being an avid gamer and outspoken opinionist of pop-media--or at least I am in my fantasies--I am an actor, writer, and director with my local theatre. This particular season, I have been involved with almost every production. This summer I am directing for the children' summer program called Fairy Tales, which is like a theatre summer camp.
Couple that with my home life, trying to find a job, and trying to plan my own wedding (sorry girls, I'm spoken for) it leaves little time to produce videos on a regular basis. Do not fret, as I am diligently working on videos.
Bad Anime Night will be reworked to fit into season 2 of Power On rather than be a stand alone episode. The finale of season one is 3/4 finished and some work is still being done with its production. Production has already begun with season 2, this is to avoid a situation where I will fall as behind as I am now. A lot of the problem is that the original season had no creative direction until halfway through. When I began I was just a small voice in a large pond. While my voice is still small, my viewer average has been steadily growing (though not as quickly as I would like it to be.)
More videos not related to Power On are in the works as well. Many of them have been on the back burner for a good 2 years--at least--however, they are on the way. I will also try to get more text reviews done as the summer goes on. I'm sure that people will be looking for reviews of the summer blockbuster movies, and I've already fallen behind by not reviewing PotC4, Thor, and The Hangover: Part 2. But you might be able to see my comments on Spoony's website about them. And unlike usual I will end with a list of definite videos and or text reviews I will do. They are not in a particular order, so don't go expecting them like this.

Top 10 video game heroes
Top 10 video game villains
Top 10 video games
Top 10 turncoats in popular media (games, movies, tv shows)
Top 10 characters from (movies and tv)
Top 10 movies
Perfect Blue--review
Bad Anime Night--a review of Defenders of Space
a review of a cheesy kung fu movie (haven't decided on movie yet)
Top 10 songs in video games
Top 10 music moments in games (these are specific moments which may or may not relate to above list)
A look at Metal Storm NES Game
Lets Play: Shadow of the Colossus (will most likely be in 16 or 17 parts due to game length.
Lets Play: Metal Gear (MSX, 1987)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

An Absurdly Genius Plan

The waters of the mighty Mississippi River have risen up to claim the land, and Texas is plagued by drought and wildfires. One man has come forward with a plan to save everyone.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Bit of Nostalgia

Recently I've been holed up in my room watching entire series of shows on Netflix instant stream. It's been great for the most part, however things have been a bit confusing with some of the shows. Like sometimes, certain episodes wont be available, or they'll be out of order, or the audio won't sync just right. But I still watch and it's a great way to spend family time.
One thing I really enjoy Netflix for is reconnecting me with childhood television shows. I have loads of fun watching them, and I am often surprised at how well some of the shows translate decades later. One In particular that I've watched recently is Jackie Chan Adventures. For those who don't remember this show, it was an action adventure cartoon with a mix of sci-fi and fantasy. The story centers around Jackie Chan (yes the character is based on the action-star) an archeologist hired by a secret government organization to research ancient artifacts that are being targeted by a world-wide criminal organization called the Dark Hand. But it is discovered by Jackie's uncle a cranky old antiquities merchant and master in the art of chi magic, that these relics hold ancient magic. It also turns out that the Dark Hand is doing the bidding of a demon named Shen-do(doo) who is trapped in a statue form unless he can gain all of these powers. Things really get out of hand when Jackie is forced to care for his rambunctious niece, Jade.
It was a cleverly written show with many homages, nods, tips of the hat, and otherwise references to movies and pop culture (before it became cliché to do so. Many of these jokes I didn't catch until seeing the show again as an adult. They are too numerous for me to list them here, but just watch any episode and there is at least one.
While I would love to go on about the show itself, this particular entry is not about the show itself, but how it was presented to me on Netflix.
While most of the main story episodes were presented in order, there were a number of episodes out of place. For example, There were 2 episodes near the end of season 2 that obviously take place in the middle of season 1. There were other problems like this throughout every season. It makes it confusing to the watcher when something is amiss or there is a plot element that appears before it is introduced in a later episode. There will be a mass of filler episodes between the climax and the previous story episode. I can understand if the filler episodes are scattered more evenly, but this is ridiculous.
Some confusion is a fault of the show itself. Plot elements will be brought up and never seen again, or never explained. I cannot avoid spoilers on these examples. In season 2 they come across a magic suit of armor that grants the wearer more endurance, speed, strength, etc. But they only use it in that episode. Many situations arise in later seasons where it would have been a good idea to break out that armor, but it never comes back. I think the writers forgot it existed. Also in season 2, one of the characters is neither seen nor mentioned for like half of the season - as if they didn't exist. Near the end of season 4 an antagonist (who will become the main antagonist of season 5) shows up with no explanation, and no one questions his origins - he is never explained. Things like this detract from the overall experience, and a lot of it could have been fixed either in re-organizing the episodes and adding just a tidbit of info here and there. Overall though I really enjoy the show and watching shows and movies on Netflix. Now if only Netflix delivered games as well...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Portal 2

Here we are, nearly 4 years later, and Portal 2 has hit the shelves for our consumption. In 2007, Valve wowed the gaming world with Portal - a short, first-person shooter/ platformer/ puzzle-solver hybrid game. The player took on the role of Chell, a test subject working for Aperture Science Laboratories. Under the close watch and guidance of a omniscient supercomputer called GLaDOS, Chell was made to move through logical obstacle courses with the aid of a portable portal generator device. Along the way she used weighted storage cubes to open doors via large buttons, and the two-way portal gun to zip around the testing arena. As the game progressed, the tests became more difficult, and Chell began to realize that GLaDOS was not completely sane. At one point, the supercomputer lured Chell into a certain death-trap; however, by now the player was quite adept at making quick portal placing decisions and escaped into the service areas of the lab. GLaDOS continued in her attempts to kill the player; but ultimately, Chell reached GLaDOS' chamber and dismantled her. In the ensuing explosion, Chell was knocked out and dragged away by some unknown figure without ever getting the cake that was promised her.

Fast forward to 2011. Portal 2 is released after a clever and highly successful promotional campaign including free play of the original and YouTube videos showing the new game play elements. The story in Portal 2 picks up an undetermined amount of time after the end of the original. Once again, the player takes up the role of Chell, who has been in a prolonged state of stasis since her defeat of GLaDOS. It is never explained in-game how she wound up in her room; however there is an online comic that bridges the gap between the games called Lab Rat. I suggest checking it out. Chell is awakened by the whole facility rumbling, she is introduced to a morality core named Wheatley, a bumbling incompetent fool. Right from the start, players are introduced to the major tone of the game: humor. Much of the dialogue is humorous, just like in the original Portal; however there are more voices besides GLaDOS this time around. Among the characters appearing in voice are Wheatley, Cave Johnson - Aperture's CEO, and GLaDOS. While avoiding spoilers I will attempt to explain the awesomesauce of the game.

While trying to escape the facility, Wheatly and Chell inadvertently awaken GLaDOS who was in a deep slumber - a sleep mode if you will. The vindictive computer then sends Chell back into the testing grounds, where she must go through tests even more difficult than before. Through her journey she will discover the origins of Aperture and abandoned sections of the lab. She will move through antiquated structures as well as the sleek futuristic ones familiar to players of the original. The plot is much more expansive; and just when the player thinks it's over, it's just beginning. On the whole, Portal 2's story is almost 2.5 times longer than that of the original. Delving the player deep into the world of Aperture science and why GLaDOS is the way she is.

Among the many new gameplay elements are hard light beams which can be used a bridges or walls, excursion tunnels which are like tractor beams, thermal discouragement beams - your standard deadly laser, and aerial faith plates which catapult the player and objects high into the air. These in combination with the cubes and portal gun add a whole new dimension to the puzzle-solving game. Of course the polite turrets make a return as well, and have a much bigger part than before as Chell moves through the bowels of Aperture Science Laboratories in her attempt to escape.

Along with the standard single-player story, Portal 2 also features an extensive multiplayer campaign. Players can connect either through their respective online networks (X-Box Live, PSN, etc) or through Steam on either PC or Mac to play with each other, or two players can play on the same system with split-screen co-op. The co-op storyline is separate from the single-player campaign (completing one is not required to play the other) While they are not directly linked, each mode is referenced during the other which does add to some form of cohesiveness to the overall game. In co-op, players will take control of two robots, Atlas and P-Body, who like Chell, are forced to test endlessly; however, unlike Chell, they cannot die. Oh, they can be destroyed, but players are not forced to restart from a checkpoint each time they are. The robots are instantly respawned close by, but their portals vanish. Vocal communication is not required to play co-op as the players can communicate with bot gestures such as waves, high fives, etc. or by using a marker they can place which is visible to the other player. Each bot also has a 2-way portal device, which enables the use of 4 total portals open at one time. Many of the tests require as many to successfully complete. In other words, 2 players are required. You cannot simply delve in by yourself. (actually I've been playing by myself using 2 controllers - some of the test are quite difficult like this, because timing needs to be perfect between the two bots to attain victory. Along the way, GLaDOS will taunt you, but admit that the two of you are forming an excellent partnership. This co-op campaign is also 2.5 times longer than the original Portal, making Portal 2 around 5 times longer than its predecessor.

Humor and logic fill the screen as Chell, or Atlas and P-Body run the gauntlet under the thumb of GLaDOS. Of course, there's a lot more to the game that I'm not telling. It is truly a sequel that surpasses the original in scope, plot, action, humor, and challenge. A must-play game. I love games that make you think. I've played through quite a few times already, and I'm still finding it challenging. That marks a good game.

Just like before, this game has many hidden secrets (Easter eggs if you will -apropos, I think) I will not discuss them, but just try something out of the ordinary and you may get a trophy/ achievement for it. If you get a feeling something is odd, out of place, or a coincidence; you're probably right and should grab it immediately. You never know what will happen. I know I'm going to be playing this game for a long time. This game is Random Ninja approved! Go out an buy if if you haven't already. It's fun for all ages; it's just good old fashioned fun.

Also, if you bought yours for the PS3, you can also play it on your Mac or PC over Steam for free, without needing the disc. The better deal in my opinion. Look for me over PSN as B-NiE, maybe we can play together.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pre-Order Bonuses

Within the past few years, a trend has cropped up in gaming. That being offering bonus SWAG (Souvenirs, Wearables, and Gifts) when you pre-order a video game or related media from either a game retailer or online. Many being something that you will eventually be able to purchase separately if you really must have it. There are a few however, that you can only get this way.

There are different types of pre-order bonuses with games. Sometimes the pre-order is a new quest or adventure for your hero. The most common is an in-game item or costume that is only available with said pre-order. In truth, after a period of time, some of these become available to purchase over the respective networks of the consoles. However, my favorite type is the SWAG. These are physical items that you get when pre-ordering your game - usually t-shirts with an image from the game or the company's logo; but they can range from stickers, posters and bandannas, to concept art books and soundtracks - giving you something to show off at conventions or gatherings of your fellow gamers.

But why are pre-order bonuses so prevalent? Some speculate that it is an incentive to entice more people to buy the game. But is this so? Do more people buy games when there is SWAG involved?

For the most part I would agree - especially with the American consumer. Free anything is always desired no matter what it is. However, does the SWAG go one step further and draw in an entirely different audience who may not have been interested in that game? Non-gaming culture seems to think of all gamers alike - that we all like all types of games. This is not so. There are many casual gamers who only play the big names once in a blue moon because they saw a cool trailer or add in a magazine; there are hardcore gamers who's lives revolve around video game release dates; and there are many levels in between. I myself would fall in the middle but lean toward the hardcore category. I love games, but there are only a few genres that I actually like. The same can be said for many gamers out there.

There are dozens if not hundreds of different types of games, and not every gamer may be interested in them all. Games range from easy children's games to sadistically difficult adult games. There are puzzle games, strategy games, shooter games, sports games, and a wide array of adventure type games - just to name a few. For me, I enjoy games that require you to think - puzzle, strategy, etc. I also enjoy the mindless shooter every now-and-then, as well as adventure games. On the other hand, I'm less likely to find myself playing a fighting game, or a racing game. They just don't appeal to me, likewise with sport games. And I'm sure the avid sport game player won't be seen playing the cerebral mind games. I'm not saying people who play sport games aren't intelligent, I'm simply saying that it may not be their cup of tea.

My point being that it is unlikely that simply adding a pre-order bonus to a game will draw in a new audience. For an example, the new Mortal Kombat game has an in-game pre-order bonus where you can have Scorpion's "Old School" costume from the original game. While that sounds cool, it does not entice me to buy the game. As I said, I don't normally play fighting games; and the pre-order bonus is not enough to get me to start. On the other hand, would a SWAG bonus prompt me to pre-order a game I was already going to buy? For me, that's a difficult question. I prefer to pre-order games to begin with because it guarantees me a copy come release day. This decision is not affected by the fact a game may have a SWAG or in-game bonus. However, when I find out a game has such, I will get it. But what really entices me is whether a game has a limited edition version. Normally those come with SWAG and goodies as well. Combine that with a pre-order bonus and I am in heaven.

So, the final verdict: Do pre-order bonuses increase sales of games? Yes, people are more likely to pre-order games if there is an incentive, and the prospect of getting something free that other people wont have is very appealing to consumers. Do pre-orders expand the game's audience? Possibly, for me not necessarily, but for others it may. Sometimes it's good to try out new games and see if you like them, but that's what Blockbuster and GameFly are for. Don't go wasting nearly $70 of your money for a game you don't know if you'll even like. Of course you can always trade them in at GameStop. Allons-y, and happy gaming, all.

Random Ninja Attack, March 2011, Eric Hesselberg

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

News and Updates

As previously stated, Beanie has disappeared and no one knows where to find him. The staff are currently in discussion of where he will wind up and how he will return. A few ideas have been brought to the table which have promise. As of now he is just gone. The finale is still in the works and hopefully will be release in the next couple months. Bad Anime Night is coming along slowly due to the editors obligation with his local theatre troupe. We have been informed by our video editor, therandomninja5, that his back log of videos to produce have taken up nearly 1000 gigs of memory space (That's 1 terabyte) Many have been in the works for more than 2 years, and he would like to get back to them at some point. There is no word yet if there will be a season 2 of Power On. The consensus is that Power On will not be a review show (RNA still will be) But it will be fantasy adventure like season one became after episode 3.

Something special is planned for the finale, and it will be well worth the wait.

Upcoming Non-Power On related releases may include vlogs about new video games (including Portal 2) vlogs/documentary of "Fast Food" which is a stageplay directed by Beanie's Dad Bonne Papa (Bean Daddy) and "A Work In Progress" an exploratory artistic profile of Power On creator Eric Hesselberg as he attempts to make a new work of art. Among the back logged videos include a WW2 docudrama, a vlog on Eric and Ash's Cortez trip last summer, a vlog on a theatre competition, and travel journal type vlogs from 6 years ago when Eric and family went to Brasil.

Make sure to also check out Kyles Muzak Corner and Carl Vs The Armadillo.

Beanie will return...we just don't know when

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Where's Beanie?

Visitors to RNA and Kyle's Muzak Corner may have noticed that at the end of the Christmas Holiday, Beanie disappeared and has not reappeared yet. They may be wondering where he is and what he has been up to. Well, I'm here to tell you that as of now, there is no information on his whereabouts. The Ninja, Francis and Kyle have been searching for him with no results. Even Carl and Wilhelm have been brought in to pool their collective intelligence to the case.

From the editor: On a more serious tone... Beanie's disappearance was to be a set up for a new plot thread, which as of yet has not come to fruition. The creative team at RNA has been locked in several matters concerning scheduling conflicts, budgetary disputes, and equipment issues. Beanie will eventually return, but for now, please enjoy the continuing episodes of Muzak Corner, the new RN Follies videos, and reruns of Power On.

From the other editor: News in a Nutshell will be taking a short hiatus while it is undergoing cosmetic adjustments. It's low ratings has greatly bummed the producers here at RNA. The Puppet Time Players videos will appear once a month instead of weekly like Nutshell was attempting. Currently the Power On Finale (which was supposed to appear in October) is still being edited and has no official release date. A new video segment titled Bad Anime Night is also in the works and is past its initial release date as well. These set backs are largely due to the aforementioned issues RNA is dealing with and the fact that the RNA team is short handed. Please bear with us as we work to get the videos out as soon as possible.

From the Ninja: Several ideas for story arcs and plots have come across my desk lately. All have potential, yet we cannot do all of them this season. Our writers are feverishly working to see if some can be combined, and where the adventures of Beanie and Francis will go from here. Of course they would all make more sense if the Power On Finale was complete and online for all to see. We thank you for your patience and your support.

Friday, February 25, 2011

First Thoughts - Dragon Age: Origins 2

Dragon Age: Origins is one of my favorite Next Gen titles. It's an action RPG where you create your character and quest to save the kingdom from the horde of Darkspawn commanded by the Archdemon. Along the way you gain companions, help cities and towns with their own problems, while ever-gaining support for your own cause. Like other RPG titles made by BioWare, you have multiple choices within your quests and subquests, making the overall story open to chance. Apart from your quest to kill the archdemon, it may not turn out the same each time you play. With various rewards (ie. trophies or achievements, and in-game rewards) it encourages multiple play-throughs - each time with a different character or motivation. I greatly enjoyed it, and have yet to unlock all of its mysteries.
Last year it was announced that a sequel was to be released. My eyes widened at the prospects. However, at first I was turned off, because it seemed like you weren't able to make your own character. From the promos it seemed that you would play a "generic" character with their own story. So my hopes had dwindled. Until...
This past week, the demo was released for download on X-Box live and the PlayStation Network. I immediately jumped on the chance to download it and see for myself what was in store for me.
Right from the get-go, I knew two things: the art style was similar but different, and the music style was the same as before. So far, I was excited. Starting a new game, I was given six character choices. I could choose to play a male or female character, and whether they were a warrior, mage, or rogue. There was no choice for race. Already I'm liking this game less that the first.
The demo's opening cutscene began. The graphics have definitely improved from the previous game - still in the same style. The voice work, like before is promising. A dwarf is being questioned about someone called "The Champion." He is being forced to tell the tale. Immediately you are thrust into battle with darkspawn alongside your sister. The darkspawn look nothing like the ones from the previous game. They appear to be related to Skeletor from He-Man. Wave after wave of Darkspawn attack, finally a giant Ogre appears. Once he is defeated, you and your very attractive sister are surrounded when a dragon appears and swoops down.
The scene is interrupted by the interrogator spouting that the story is BS. Finally she gets the dwarf to tell the truth.
The real game begins, and you are given the opportunity to customize the character you've selected. However, in the Demo, you can't. The story takes place as the dwarf tells it, and is during the events of the previous game. You and your family are on the run from darkspawn.
Here you get a sense of the new controls. The focus is more on action this time around. Instead of selecting your move and it plays out, you have physical control of the attacks in real time. The "X" button is for attack, and you do with every press of the button. The other buttons, as before, are used for your special attacks and item use. Only items and attacks that require you to aim pauses the action. The menu screen is also different. This time it is a radial menu instead of a page/list format. When leveling up, you can select the skill tree to use. They are displayed almost like a DNA strands.
Everything seems geared to make combat easier and more fast-paced. Oh, one thing I forgot. Dialogue uses the analog stick to choose your choice in a radial menu, and the player character is fully voiced.! Finally a fully voiced player character in an RPG! This includes dialogue as well as the cutscenes.
Unfortuanately, I cannot say more. While I was playing the power went out. I have yet to try again. But I can't wait to play the full game when its released.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Puppet Time Players - Episode 1 "Bunny Upon A Park Bench"

A new segment featuring the writing and direction of Eric Hesselberg in the style he's known best for - a little humorous, a little dramatic, a little cute, and slightly off.
This section involves fully-scripted teleplays where the parts are played by puppets and stuffed animals.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Channel RN Follies - The News in a Nutshell - Episode 3 "Politics and Grammy's"

Chip is away this week so Political Expert Frankfurt Scott steps in to report the news. There is also another commentary by Kyle Sullivan of Muzak Corner.

Special Thanks for this week's episode goes to Kyle for filming and editing this broadcast with short notice.

Remember to submit your questions to the Samurai in the comment section below.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Channel Rn Follies - The News in a Nutshell - Episode 1 "Groundhog Day and Superbowl Predictions"

Chip Cest'hoí and Soh Ahndso give you the news as it happens. In this, the first broadcast, they discuss Groundhogs, the weather, and Superbowl XLV predictions. It is a dry humor lampoon/ spoof style news show inspired by the original SNL weekend update with Chevy Chase.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Possible T-Shirt Design

This is a possible T-shirt design for Random Ninja Attack. It is a Random Ninja Mushroom based on the original Power Up mushroom from Super Mario. The RNA type is based on a pixelated font. The entire image and font were crated in Adobe Illustrator. Wouldn't you like a shirt with this image on the front? I would.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Pirate King

A spur of the moment joke filmed during the production of another video of mine. (yet to be uploaded. I just thought I would share with you all this little gem. Inspired by the Holiday Inn Express commercials where someone is doing something amazing or sharing their vast knowledge only for the others to discover that they have only stayed at a Holiday Inn. This is a short homage to those, filmed at Fort Gains on Dauphin Island, Alabama. At a Colonial Living History, this group dressed as Pirates in their finest for going ashore. The music is from Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean. And was filmed all in good fun.

Monday, January 3, 2011

What the egg?

One thing I've noticed, is that my videos and such haven't been getting many views; or at least gaining views slowly. So I'm going to try an experiment. I'm going to make a few very random, seemingly pointless videos that are flashy and make no sense to see if they get the views flowing, because it seems that those types of videos get the views on youtube, so I'm going to try it as well. It will be a comment on the youtube audience and how they only like that type of stuff. Seriously, I've got videos that have been up for like 2 years and haven't had double digit views. Yet someone can upload a random video that makes no sense and get over a million views. We shall see. Hopefully, it will make people more aware of my existence and my audience base will grow.