Archive for October, 2010


Halloween + Scooby Doo + Google = Awesome

Google has put up 5 Scooby Doo themed banners for Halloween.  They are awesome.  Check them out below.  (click on an image to enlarge it)

Oh, and Google, W.B. …uh, please don’t sue me!  I love these banner images and I just want to preseve their glory.  I am not trying to infringe on your rights, I just want to share these fine images with the rest of the internet.  Thanks!


5 Random Quotes for Halloween, 2010

  1. Halloween is huge in my house and we really get into the “spirits” of things.  ~Dee Snider
  2. Hold on, man.  We don’t go anywhere with “scary,” “spooky,” “haunted,” or “forbidden” in the title.  ~From Scooby-Doo
  3. When witches go riding,
    and black cats are seen,
    the moon laughs and whispers,
    ‘tis near Halloween.
    ~Author Unknown
  4. Clothes make a statement.  Costumes tell a story.  ~Mason Cooley
  5. Hobgoblins know the proper way to dance:
    Arms akimbo, loopy legs askew,
    Leaping into darkness with delight,
    Lusting for the ecstasy of fright,
    Open to the charm of horrors new….
    ~Nicholas Gordon,

Happy Halloween, 2010!

Yay!  Happy Halloween!  Ok, I know many people celebrated Halloween yesterday but today is technically Halloween!.  If you are celebrating today, then I  hope you have a great time.  Me?  I worked at the Halloween block party my small town had last night.  It was epic and there was plenty of candy.  (I may be on a sugar high)  I dressed as an air-force Sergent.  (mainly cause I did not have a costume and my step-dad is retired from the air-force)

Today is the day to play scary games/movies, cosplay, and eat candy until you barf.  Halloween, I love you!

Hope you have a great one!


5 Random Quotes for October (2010)

  1. Everything in moderation, including moderation.  ~Author Unknown
  2. Runners just do it – they run for the finish line even if someone else has reached it first.  ~Author Unknown
  3. What is the city but the people?  ~William Shakespeare
  4. Today’s public figures can no longer write their own speeches or books, and there is some evidence that they can’t read them either.  ~Gore Vidal
  5. As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists.  ~Joan Gussow

My Evolution as a Gamer

[Disclaimer: this is a fairly personal article and I do tend to ramble a bit.  But I felt like I needed to write this down.]

I fully intended to sit down at this computer and start preparing for my Review of Pokemon: Soul Silver.  I really did.  I sit staring at a blank screen, taking in my impressions of the game.  Trying to separate my personal tastes and preferences from the subject matter so that I could review the game fairly.  (I am not much of an RPG fan but I know when reviewing one I have to think from the perspective of a RPG lovers so that I could see the game as a whole.)  From there I could find its strengths and its weaknesses and discuss them accordingly.

This is my process.  I analyze a game and really think about what I feel makes it stand out.  I try to take a break for a day or two between playing the game and reviewing it so that I will have time to let the game sink in.  Also, I *typically* try to finish the game before I review it…though on certain occasions I feel compelled to leave early when the game starts to feel more like work than play (see the Prince of Persia remake/reboot thingy for the PS3)

But all in all, I really do put a lot of thought into my reviews.  Anyone who has been reading my blog for any period of time may notice this as in the past year my average game review length has tripled.  I spend more time analyzing the games I play and I put deeper though into them than I ever have before.

But just what has caused this sudden interest in what makes games great?  Several sources, not the least of which is my good friend Earl whose love of cinema has evolved over the years before my very eyes.  I have watched him transform from a movie buff, to a movie nerd, to a true film critic.  And in many of the same ways I have followed the same evolution with my love of games.  (though I still have a long ways to go)

Another source of my interest in gaming can be attributed to a few key games, a few masterpieces, that helped to define gaming for me.  The chief of which would probably be the Zelda and Uncharted series.  Looking back, my review for Uncharted 2 is not very well written.  Granted, it is much better than my earliest reviews (my 151 word review of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 1 is one of my most shameful moments as a both gamer and as a writer) but it demonstrates a lack of understanding and it was only written 5 months ago.

Age and experience are also considerations.  I have been playing games since as long as I remember.  I grew up on Mario, Sonic, and Earthworm Jim.  But I never stepped outside of my “comfort zone” until I was near high-school.  I never played a large variety of games.  Sure I always had Mario and Sonic but my first encounters with Metorid was not until the Prime Series came out and I had not truly tasted the glory that is Zelda until only 9th or 10th grade.  (I am now in my second year of college, btw) but as soon as I was introduced into these series I began to devour them (especially zelda having played nearly 8 of the games in the series already…though I have only beat 5 of them…NES games are hard!…) and it was also around this time that I was introduced to more Mature games and the glory that is FPS.  (I just started Bioshock this week)  As I experienced more variety in the different types of games I started to realize what made them likable and that is when I really started getting into gaming as more than just a hobby.

But perhaps one of the biggest factors in my evolutions as a gamer is the gaming community.  Particularly IGN and Gamespot.  I have been reading their reviews for games for years and while I tend to agree with IGN’s reviews a little more, I love the gamespot community.  I love reading the soapbox articles and I love listening to the Hotspot.  The above mentioned factors prepared me to be able to look at games with a more critical eye but the gaming community game me the tools and the vocabulary to express what gaming means to me.

Now to some people this may all seem rather silly that I would put so much thought into a game, or a cartoon, or even a comic book.  And I can see their point, I recently read an interview with Stan Lee where he said “But when you think about it, a movie or a comic book or a video game, they’re words and they’re pictures, and there is something special about telling a story on two fronts”.  And he is right.  For thousands of years, people have been exploring fiction and these worlds of fantasy and make-believe have helped to define humankind as a whole.  These new forms of media are the newest forms of this and video games hold a special place for me because they allow an experience unlike any other, be it that you are saving a princess from a koopa, exploring the wonderful island of myst, or lobbing grenades at the enemy troops.

Looking back, I can see how these different aspects of my life allowed me to evolve as a gamer.  I went from casual fan to hardcore fan.  I am currently majoring in Computer Science in the hopes that I may one day become a game programmer.  And I am getting more out of my gaming experiences than I ever have before.  And these experiences have not just defined me as a gamer, as I feel I have been given a greater insight into fiction in general, and thus a better insight into the human condition and why we see the world the way we do.

And I want to thank you for that.  Thank you Earl for inspiring me with your film reviews.  Thank you Gage for lending to me some of the best games I have played.  Thank you IGN and Gamepot for giving me a source to turn to for gaming news, and for teaching me how to analyze a game.  Thank you game developers for making the games that turned me into a gamer.  Thank you wordpress for providing me with a place to write my thoughts down for the world to see (on all matters, not just videogames).  And thank you to everyone who reads my blog, your comments make my day!

Thank you all, as you have made me who I am today.


Transformers: War for Cybertron [PS3] (8.5/10)

Transformers: More than meets the eye! Transfomers: Robots in disguise!

Ahh….Transfomers…what’s not to like? There are Autobots and there are Decpticons, and they are fighting and stuff….oh, and there is Optimus Prime, who is awesome. Yeah …Ok, I have a confession… Growing up, I never really watched the Transformers series or played with the action figures. Really, all I know is what Michael Bay taught me. Therefore, I can’t say how well War for Cybertron fits in with the series.

War for Cybertron is a prequel that takes place during the war between the Autobots and Decepticons as they battle for their home world of Cybertron. All in all, the story is actually really well told. It felt a little campy at times, but I think that’s what they were going for. It was all very endearing and I got the feeling that there were a lot of references meant for fans of the series that were going over my head.

The game controls like a standard 3rd person shooter. Analogue sticks to move, L1 to aim and R1 to fire. (why they did not use L2 and R2 I will never know) X jump, click in Right stick to melee, etc. The controls feel really great, and are very responsive.

Tearing through Transformers throughout the games’ two campaigns (Autobot and Decepticon) Is a blast. You begin each mission by picking one of three playable characters. (the characters available vary depending on the mission) Each character has a different weapon and two special abilities. One of the abilities is one that the character always has (cloak, use a shield, dash in a certain direction, etc.) and others can only be used once you have collected enough energon by destroying enemies. (whirlwind attack, temerarily become super strong, etc.) This keeps all the characters from feeling the same.

There is a nice variety of weapons and you are allowed to carry two at any given time. (The one you start with an an additional one) You have your shotgun-like weapons, your pistol-like weapons, snipers, rifles, missile launchers, etc. You can even rip turrets off of their stands and carry them around (how cool is that?)

As you progress through the missions the characters will talk to each other and their witty banter is great. If the War for Cybertron characters are anything like the ones in the animated series, then I really need to watch the cartoon. It is as corny as can be…but in an endearing way. I really grew to like these characters even if I can’t understand a word soundwave says…

“But wait”, you say, “Isn’t this game called Transfomers? What about the …you know, Transforming!” I’m glad you asked that question! At any time during the game, you can simply clicking in the left analogue stick will make your character instantly transform into his vehicle mode. (note: you can change this to the triangle button if you keep clicking in the stick by mistake like I did) The transforming animation is awesome. When I first started playing I just kept transforming back and forth just to watch the animation. You can transform at any given moment, even in midair. (which allows for some really cool moments)

and after you transform, it almost becomes a different game. The aim button becomes the accelerator and before you know it you are zipping across stages with ease. Each vehicle comes with its own weapon and it is great to zip around a stage firing in every direction.

In addition to turning into ground based vehicles, there are certain missions that allow you to fly. These missions are always extra fun and lead to some of my favorite moments in the game. Unfortunately, there are only two of these missions (out of 10). It is a real shame that the developers did not throw in more.

However, as much as I love playing as a vehicle, it is not a perfect experience. In the land levels, the developers don’t give you much incentive to transform and you spend most of the time humanoid form. Granted, there are a few times when you need to be a vehicle and those times are almost always fun, but the game really leans towards the shooter mechanics. Also, in the flight sections, some of the dogfights with other transformers feels a little off…your only weapon is a lock on missile and since you have to hold the reticule over the enemy to lock on, you find yourself flying to the edge of the battle standing completely still and firing rockets. Dogfights should be fast paced and action packed and these really were not.

That being said some of the best moments in the game were in vehicles and I do applaud the developers for at least trying to make the slower shooter gameplay mesh with the fast paced vehicle play. This is a hard franchise to turn into a game, and my research on the subject shows that there have been a lot of crappy transformers games out there. (and by research, I mean IGN…and Wikipedia)

Cyberton also features a large variety of gameplay modes. Unfortunately, almost no one plays it. The only modes I were able to try were team deathmatch, online co-op, and escalation. You should be familiar with the first two, but the latter may require some explanation. Basically, escalation is just a handful of players fighting off waves of NPCs. All three modes are fun little diversions but I don’t expect that most players will spend a lot of time with them.

I do have a few other problems with the game. It does get repetitive after a while, and the lack of split-screen co-op is a shame. (I wanted to play with my brother so badly!) That said, War for Cyberton is a great game. If you are a fan of the series, get it. This is the transformer experience you have been waiting for. If you are not a fan, still consider buying it as it is a good game and just may turn you into a fan.

Autobots, Roll out!

(P.S. this game has the coolest ending credits sequence since portal)


Magic: The Gathering – James Dojo Style!

I got bored and decided to make some Magic cards.  Hope you enjoy them! [click on a card to see the full sized image]


Please, Vote for Me!

{Edit: Voting is now closed! Thank you to everyone who voted for me!]

The Local Listerhill Credit Union has opened a branch at my college.  They are looking for workers and have decided to turn the job hunt into a publicity stunt and I got myself involved!

Please vote for me!

If I get the most votes, I win an iPad and enough credit at the bookstore for a semester of free books!  Please, your vote would really mean a lot to me.  I really need a job, and the books/iPad would come in *really* handy.

I made a promotional video explaining why I need to be hired.  Feel free to watch it (I tried to make it funny) and vote.

Click on the link below to vote!  (The name is James Reatherford)  [my name in the voting is near the bottom and my video is on the 3rd row all the way on the right]

(Oh, and you can vote as many times as you would like so…yeah)

Thank you for your support!


Dojo of Fame – Steven Hillenburg (Animation Week Day 5)

And here comes the close of animation week.  Who better to dedicate the last day to than the creator of one of the most popular cartoons ever, Steve Hillenburg?!

Steve Hillenburg was originally a Marine biologist until he decided to abandon that job and peruse his other lifelong dream, a job in animation.

After making a few short films, He started out writing for Mother Goose & Grimm.  Before long he had a job doing the writing, storybording, and producing for Rocco’s Modern Life.

After Rocco ended, Steve decided to pitch a new show, based on his love for Marine life.  He, along with many of his friends from Rocco, pitched the idea to Nick and it was greenlit…and the rest is history.

Nearly everyone knows of Spongebob.  He is Nick’s most profitable character and the sheer amount of spongebob merchandise is beyond comprehension.  The show has run for 10 years, an amazing feat for any show..especially a cartoon.

After the first three seasons, a Spongebob Squarepants movie came out it was awesome.  unfortunately, Steve intended for it to be the series finale and planned to quit after the movie.  Nick, did not want to cancel the series though, as it was making a fortune.  Steve decided not to quit, but stepped down and became an executive produces, neglecting most of the creative aspects of the job.  Unfortunately, since then the show’s overall quality has dropped quite a bit.

According to NBC chicago (link here) Steve is working on two new TV projects, but won’t tell what they are at the moment.  Whatever they are, I bet it is good!

So Steve, for creating the show I quote most often, I salute you.  Welcome to the Dojo of Fame!

Sometimes you want to go, where everybody knows your username...


What I'm Playing:

  • BioShock(PS3)
  • Super Mario World (SNES)
  • Call of Duty 4: Moden Warfare (PS3)
  • Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64 VC)
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