Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Look Into Video Games: Cutman

Cutman is a robot master created by Megaman inventor Dr. Light. He is then reprogrammed by Dr. Wily to serve on the side of evil. He then becomes one of the original, and classic Megaman bosses. 
He was a decent fight in the original game, though I liked his power better. 
He was a little lame in the cartoon though. 
I really wished I had gotten a PSP so I could play Megaman: Powered Up. It looks so cool. 
Even cooler (or maybe stranger) is his secret boss fight appearance in Megaman X8 for PS2. I love modern meets retroness.

Things I Hate: Boktai: The Sun Is In Your Hand

This GBA game made quite a buzz in the video game media world. All the magazines and websites were all raving about it, or at least one part of it. What's that part of it? 

My Favorite Memories: After-Movie Battle

This was during my 14th birthday. We spent it down in Charleston, SC at my oldest brother's house. My other brother Zach battled me in this little game of wannabe American Gladiators after watching a movie.  You just had to knock the other person off the platform they're standing on. I'm the one on the right with the black shirt.

Fact of the Day: Trees Are Nice

South Carolina got it's nickname "The Palmetto State" from the Battle of Sullivan's Island in 1776. The British attempted to take a fort on the island, but the logs made of palmetto trees were quite strong against cannonballs. Which helped lead to a colonial victory.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Look Into History: U.S. Presidential Election of 1876

With 2 terms Grant was out of the picture. Governor of Ohio Rutherford B. Hayes managed to the win the nomination for the Republican party.

Democrats rallied against the corruption of Grant's government, and chose Governor of New York Samuel J. Tilden as their champion. Tilden was known as a great reformer, and became one of the most beloved Democratic candidates (internally by their own party) since Andrew Jackson.

Peter Cooper ran on the Greenback Party ticket. It was a small-time party that insisted the government issue a large amount of paper money to inflate the economy. He has an epic beard though.

The Prohibition Party nominated Green Clay Smith as their candidate. Hatred towards alcohol must have been low since he got only 0.3% of the vote.

While Hayes and Tilden campaigned rather weak, their parties did the work for them. Democrats attacked Republicans on the corruption of Grant, while Republicans countered posing Democrats as mostly a group of violent rebels who started the civil war. Both parties were guilty of committing fraud in multiple states in the election process.

Despite winning the majority of the popular vote, Tilden lost the election by just one electoral vote. With Hayes winning 185-184 in the end. Democrats cried foul, but Hayes was elected anway. Upon his defeat Tilden said "I can retire to public life with the consciousness that I shall receive from posterity the credit of having been elected to the highest position in the gift of the people, without any of the cares and responsibilities of the office."

A Look Into TV Series: Big Bob Pataki

Big Bob Pataki is Helga's dad from the cartoon series Hey Arnold. Known for being the "Beeper King" and one of the most arrogant and greedy human beings in fiction. I liked him in a "he's so bad he's good" kind of way.

A Look Into Video Games: Dark Link

Dark Link is Link's evil doppelganger the Zelda series. Despite whatever game he's in, he is always a dark contrast to Link himself. Being total equals in size, strength, and skill. 

Fact of the Day: First Female Governor

Nellie Tayloe Ross's husband William Ross was elected governor of Wyoming, however he died in office. She eventually ran in a special election, and won. Serving in 1925-1927 as a member of the Democratic party.

Some Random Pictures From The Past Few Days

Daisy wanted her valentine's day present (well one of them anyway) a little early before they buy them all, and I got her this white bear. She had gotten a red bear last year just like it, so she wanted this one.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Review

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is my favorite game of all time. So I take notice to every single Zelda game that ever comes out. While Majora's Mask, Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and some other Zeldas have all been good they just lacked the magic Ocarina had. Sure it's hard to beat nostalgia, but Skyward Sword comes awfully close.
While I thought Twilight Princess was a great game, I also felt like it brought the series behind in many ways. It had little originality, as if they were making it too close to Ocarina instead of following down a more creative path. Skyward Sword breaks down every wall, and is also the ultimate prequel to the series. Which gives them so room to breathe and they fix many things that were getting dull.
The game also takes advantage of the Wii's motion plus accessory. And by "take advantage of" I mean it's mandatory, but I'm glad they use it. They even redesign classic Zelda weapons, and give them also a new control method. While Twilight Princess used the IR sensor, even pointing is used internally by the Wii Motion Plus. So a simple re-center with a tap of a button will fix any problems with the cursor leaving the screen. 
I think the new change is actually pretty good. It's a little weird at first, but you easily get used to it. I'd like to see this used more with Wii games. First person shooters developers could take some notes. 
I think the #1 thing holding Zelda back was the combat. Twilight Princess wasn't that much more evolved than the 1998 N64 game to be honest.  A few taps of the B button, and most of the work was done. Skyward Sword however requires you to swing your sword like you would in real life. Enemies can precisely block your attacks as well. They also attack in groups, take notice to dangers around them, and really test your abilities each step of the way.
The dungeon count is plentiful, and most of them are fantastic. My favorite was the one that's actually a pirate ship, and the last one really tested my puzzle-solving skills. I think the biggest joy of the game were the boss battles. They were epic, and provided for first time in a long time: a challenge. 
I think the biggest gripe I have with the game is the world itself. There are really only 3 main areas plus the Skyworld. Sure a forest, volcano, and a desert have their moments, but I was hoping for a bit more variety. Also the Skyworld with the Loftwing riding just didn't compare to the boat sailing in Wind Waker. The barren air land has many secrets, except most of them are junk or hard to find.
While it may not be perfect, Skyward Sword has delivered something no video game has done for me in a good while. That's a 30+ hour adventure I enjoyed almost every minute of. Though Ocarina of Time is still my favorite game ever, Skyward Sword is one of the best games in the Zelda series. While the first hour or two might seem gimmicky due to the controls, I assure you that every corner is better than the one before it. 

Score: 10 out of 10

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Look Into History: U.S. Presidential Election of 1872

The 1872 election saw President Grant returning for a 2nd term. He ran unopposed from his own party.

A Look Into Video Games: King Bob-omb

King Bomb-omb is the king of the bomb-ombs and Bowser's ally. He appears as the first boss in Super Mario 64. Holding a power-star he won't give up without a fight. I really liked this boss battle despite it's simplicity. 

My Favorite Memories: Snowy Day With My Dog

I was probably in 10th grade at the time of this photo. My dog (now a little old) was practically a puppy, and this was at most her 2nd time seeing snow. Despite hating rain (she refuses to go outside if it rains), she loves the snow. She runs around, plays in it, and has a good ol' time.

Fact of the Day: A Cherokee State

The state of Tennessee is named after the local town and river of Tanasi. It's a Cherokee word of unclear meaning. The spelling eventually changed to Tennessee.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

My Favorite Memories: A "So Great" Easter

I think the year was 1992 or perhaps 1993, but it was one of the first Easters I could remember. My dad had woken us up and said "The Easter Bunny is outside! Run out there before he leaves", and we all got out as soon as possible. Except there was no Easter Bunny, but 3 Easter baskets. When I have kids, I'm going to use this trick on them.

Fact of the Day: First Billionaire

When it comes to at least America, John D. Rockefeller was the first man to ever be worth more than a billion U.S. dollars. He was one of the first oil tycoons, and held practically a whole monopoly over the industry. Adjusted for inflation, he was probably the richest man in history.

Watched One Day (2011 Film)

 My girlfriend picked this out since it was her turn to choose what we rented from the store. I like Anne Hathaway, but romantic films worry me when it comes to quality. Some are good, some are not so much... though I can say One Day is more good than bad.
The film is set within a 2 decade timeline starting with 1988. Two young kids graduate from high school and feel their first feelings of attraction towards one another. However while "dating" so to speak, they just drop their relationship to a close friendship. 
The film then progresses into the future year by year. They also do a great job at aging the characters too. They have some flash back scenes near the end, and you can definitely tell the difference. But it's a long complicated story about the two eventual lovers and their path towards true adulthood.
 One thing I do want to complain about is Anne Hathaway being in an movie set in England. Her character is English, and half of the time I don't buy her accent. British actors can pull off an American accent most of the time, however the reversal is almost non-existent. At least in my opinion.
But for those who don't mind nick-picky stuff like that, you'll find a decent love story. It's strange, but it does have a lot of class. But depending on your tastes, you might end up with mixed emotions about the film. It does many things so well that all the pieces of the creative puzzle should fit perfectly. However when it's nearly completed it seems that a piece or two went missing, and it leaves you a tad bitter.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Watched Howl's Moving Castle

While my library's anime section might be weak (they are working on it though I admit), they do have a lot of quality to make up for the lack of quantity. Howl's Moving Castle might seem rather strange from the cover, but it's based on a English novel of the same name about magic and fantasy.
 The movie is about a young girl named Sophie Hatter who manages to be saved by a handsome blonde stranger from a group of troublesome soldiers. However a mysterious dark force follows the duo soon after, and Sophie quickly learns that this handsome stranger is none other than the Wizard Howl.
 A dark witch learns of their brief friendship and as a result of jealously puts a curse on Sophie. The ordinary girl is transformed into nothing more than an old hag. She then leaves her home in shock, and sets out to find a way to undo things. But not before meeting back up with the world's magical creatures and of course the Wizard Howl.
I think one of my favorite parts of the film was the character development. Sophie changes quite a lot and grows up quite fast. You also learn of Howl's back-story, and the fantasy world they live in. Practically every major character has gone through a major inner-transformation by the end of the film.
While the movie can get rather melancholic at times, it does have it's cheery moments with lots of comic relief. Plus it's plot is practically unpredictable. My girlfriend was watching along, and she desperately wanted to know if Sophie changes back into her younger self again. If you can't tell, she hates not knowing an ending. I frankly like surprises and hate major spoilers.   
This movie really surprised me, and I'm glad I got a chance to watch this wonderful film. While it's sure to please any anime fan, but it can also appease those interested in the fantasy genre with books/films like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.

My Favorite Memories: 4th Birthday Cake

Ironically my 4th birthday cake said "1-2-3-A-B-C" on it, but it was colorful and had sesame street characters on it. I remember my dad taking me in his van to go get the cake, and bringing it back home.

Fact of the Day: Whoopee A New Name

Whoopi Goldberg's real name is Caryn Elaine Johnson.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Look Into TV Series: Heffer Wolfe

Heffer Wolfe is a steer who happens be Rocko's best friend in Rocko's Modern Life

A Look Into History: King Stanislaw I

 Stanislaw I was King of Poland beginning in 1704. After August II was ousted, the Swedish government selected him as the next King of Poland. However the throne wasn't exactly stable, and many were unsure if he could hold on to it despite being from a respectable family and having many talents.

A Look Into Video Games: Mei Ling

Mei Ling was a minor character in the Metal Gear Solid series, first serving as an aid to Solid Snake over the Codec messaging system.

My Favorite Memories: International Festival 2010

Our local town has an international festival every year, and 2010 was the first year I attended. My girlfriend Daisy is Laos-American (born in Minnesota), so she mainly wanted to go to see the Thai and Laos booths. 

Fact of the Day: Strange Nickname For America

In Japanese the "regular" name for America is Amerika and is spelled in Katakana like this アメリカ. However Japan also uses the Kanji 


which is pronounced Beikoku

What does that mean exactly? Well the character on the right means "country", and the one on the left means "rice". So if you can put two and two together, you should know what that literally means. Doesn't make sense? Well when Japan first started interacting with the United States we used to ship them enormous amounts of rice as part of economic trade. Now it makes sense.