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)