Friday, December 16, 2005

NES Review: Kung Fu

This was one of the first carts I got for the NES, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in 1986. You know how it is. 8/9 year old kid, hears the words Kung Fu, thinks "man, bet I get to bitchslap some fools!" Well, sortakinda.

I wasn't aware of it until some time later, but Kung Fu is an arcade port, and it's one of the ones that suffers graphically in the translation. Damn the four-color-per-sprite limitations of the NES. Oh well, what can you do. You can't ask for Halo 2 in 1986, can you. Heck, back then, the best CGI we had was Tron and The Great Mouse Detective.

The objective of Kung Fu is to whoop ass and climb stairs. Simple if not for the plethora of baddies that come at you from both sides, as well as above on later floors. Basically, you have to punch, kick, jump and duck your way to each floor's boss, until you get to floor 5.

There are plenty of baddies to choose from, including the grunts in the fruity looking outfits, knife throwing Daniel-san wannabes, snakes and dragons that fall in pots (or balls, can't tell) from the ceiling, and booby traps galore. There are even midgets (or is it little people? Damn political correctness) that come at you! Yikes! You know that if there's midgets, you're in some serious trouble...

Your reward for clearing all five floors? To be sent back to the begining all over again, doomed to forever climb and fall, climb and fall. And each time you make it through, the game gets progressively harder (as do most early games like this for the NES, before the advents of passwords and save batteries). Always a joy, right? Right.

This game killed alot of my time early on, before the video store started renting out carts and before my library (or those of my friends) grew. Sadly, I remember that one of my friends hadn't quite gone 8bit yet, and was still playing an Atari 2600. I felt sorry for him. Really sorry. But those are the breaks. I did envy him for a while, though, when all I had was an Intellivision II which wouldn't play Coleco games. Sad days, they were. Kids these days are spoiled with their XBoxes and their TRL.

But I'm getting off on a rant here. Wait a second... Isn't that the reason I have a blog? Oh well. Either way, Kung Fu was good, mindless fun back in the day, and kids today might appreciate its simplicity when they want a break from fragging losers on XBox Live...

Kung Fu - NES - Arcade Port

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Insider Trading

Wow. Neato. I'm listed at Blogshares. Think of it as a stock market for Blogs. I guess I've got BP listed there as well, though it isn't being traded yet. If this sort of thing interests you, I suggest giving it a try. It's like the Hollywood Stock Exchange. I used to do that a bit, but forgot my login and password combo, and that account is still registered to a defunct email addy of mine, if the account even exists anymore...

NES Review: Kid Icarus

I remember that day well. We had gone to Altoona with the Reese's, and JC and I were each promised an NES cart apiece. I can't for the life of me remember what JC picked, because quite frankly, I didn't give a crap. I was too focused on what I would choose off of the rack. This was back before the Nintendo Power days, where we each had a subscription and knew about all the latest before everyone else. This was back in the Fun Club days, when info rags were heinously short and came out quarterly, if you were lucky.

Nope, we were pretty much forced to go by the cover of the box. And on this fateful night, I was to select Kid Icarus, thanks to my general knowledge of Greek Mythology, even at the tender age of 9.

What I ended up with was one of the first password-enabled games ever! When you died, you were given Sacred Words that allowed you to continue from the beginning of the level you were on when you bit it. It was ingenious, and many, many games afterwards would use the password system. Some still do today, but not as many.

Basically, here's the scenario. Medusa has taken control of the world, and it's up to Pit, the little angel with the bow and arrows, to journey from the underworld to the clouds, finding the three treasures on the way, and take ol' Snakeylocks down. But this isn't easy, Medusa has sent quite the army of interesting critters your way. Snakes, floating eyeballs, the infamous Eggplant Wizard (who can and will turn you into an eggplant, no joke), and quite the cadre beyond.

But fear not, because you'll have help along the way. As you kill critters, you'll get hearts (little, half-big and big) that you can use as cash to buy items that will help you on your journey. There are also hot springs where you can refill your life bar, and items like the harp, which turns baddies into useful hammers for a short time.

Heh. Check out the reaper tweaking out. The music that plays when this happens is quite annoying, but hey. That's what you get for ticking the reaper off.

The game is split into four levels: The Underworld, The Mortal Plane, The Path Through the Clouds, and The Skyway to Medusa. Levels one and three are bottom-top scroll, while two and four are side scroll left to right. Level four, after you have the treasures from the previous levels, auto-scrolls while you use the Wings to fly. That's the fun level, let me tell you. And the battle with Medusa at the end? You'd think a crazy mythical witch with the power to turn folks to stone would be five kinds of hard to beat. But...

She's not. Sad, really. There's a blind spot in her defenses, a position on the screen (shown in this screenshot) where you can stash Pit, never get hit by anything she throws at you, and wail away on her giant eyeball. Terribly easy. But once you wax Medusa, you save the entire mythological universe, and all is well. Until you find out you start the game over, have to regain the treasures, and beat Medusa all over again. This time, though, the game is harder.

A classic indeed, I'm surprised it didn't become a franchise for Nintendo. Pit and his adventures would have easily translated through the evolving structures provided by their subsequent consoles (especially the 64 and GameCube). But alas, this is all we have, really, which is just plain sad. Still, this classic always merits replay, if only for the cheesy music. Guess what...

Kid Icarus - NES - Platform Shooter

Monday, December 12, 2005

LiveBlog Experiment #2

Here we go. I'm gonna make an honest attempt at live-blogging a sit-n-go on Party Poker (since Poker Room seems to not want to connect at all right now, which is totally bogus). It's a 10+1 NLTHE, and I'll warn you up front. There'll probably be a good deal of chip movement on the first hand. Since it's play money, some fools like to go all-in on the first hand regardless of their down cards, and someone almost always calls. Hopefully I can get behind the button or as far from the blinds as I can. Here we go. Time to log in.

4:21AM - Folded my first hand, a 6-2o, and will be the big next hand. Oh well. At least there wasn't an all-in love-in.Board came A-3-2-5-5, so I would have been low man anyway. Just dealt a 3h7d in the big, maybe I can check in...

4:26AM - Yep. Got in cheap, flopped a set of 7s which brought in many, many chips. Love that slow playing. Next hand caught an A-10o, and won with top pair when I flopped 10s, taking out three players in the process. Nice haul for two hands, no? Yes!

4:29AM - Finally able to fold a few. Chip count: $4475, haven't lost a showdown yet! Rock on! Clearly the big stack at the table, and only one real contender is shaping up. Should be a quick game, and I should certainly place top three. Time to call with 9-10o...

4:32AM - That 9-10 cost me $30, and the next two hands cost me a total of $55, but oh well. Still in good shape, that's for sure. Table's down to five, biggest stack next to mine is in seat 10. The others are in the triple digits. Sad. I'm folding off good cards just to blog now, passed up a J-9h, just called a A-Jo, but folded to a bet too big for my tastes right now. I'll just wait it out until people fall. One already did, down to four now...

4:45AM - It's down to 3, $4990. Action is fast now, so don't expect much...

4:50AM - Down to two, still big stack. Here we go!

4:52AM - Aftermath - Yep, seat 10 turned out to be my adversary in showdown play, and I didn't lose a single hand down the stretch. All I did was fold one in the small blind, a 2-3o. The last hand, I took him all-in on a pair of kings, and he couldn't catch anything helpful. Table victories come often to me on Party Poker. Wish they would do the same on Poker Room, if only I could log in. Maybe I'll give Poker Stars a whirl...

All Kids Out Of The Pool

Since our local paper, The Regress, doesn't carry much more than traditional comic strips (can't upset the old folks, no), I haven't really been able to get into The Boondocks all that much. Aaron McGruder's own special brand of humor has managed to escape me for too long. So, when I heard Adult Swim had signed on to develop it into an animated show, I was happy.

Long I waited in the pits of Clearfield County, stranded in a sea of conservative stagnation, for this show to come along and breathe life into relatively dull nights. And it was well worth the wait.

Warning: If the word "nigger" and its many forms offend you, too bad. It's used a lot in this show. Doesn't bother me in the least, but you try living in an area that more or less is intolerant of anyone who isn't of Eastern European descent.

I just got done watching the latest episode during the [adult swim] repeat run for the night, and man, it was hillarious. With Mos Def guest starring as a rapper who's as phoney as the music he produces, the best joke came when the animated version of MTV's Sway (voiced by Sway himself, no less) came on the TV and said "Hi, I'm Sway. And this... is my inexplicable head wrap."

Teh. Funnay.

Not the first time Sway has lampooned himself, either. He did it once on Robot Chicken as the host of a show on the fictional XSPAN network, an MTV-ish version of CSPAN. Now that I mention it, Adult Swim has been more or less hitting home runs as far as programming. You have your "classics" like Aqua Teens, Sealab, Brak, Space Ghost Coast To Coast, and Harvey Birdman, sure. But with regards to new programming, they're batting somewhere in the neighborhood of .750. Here's what I mean:

Squidbillies - I wasn't too keen on the concept in the beginning: thanks to a receeding ocean and God's misguided purpose, a clan of squids was stranded in the north Georgia mountains. Thanks to generations of inbreeding, they're pretty much as out there hillbilly as you can get. But the show has grown on me a bit. Not super funny, but it's still cool to laugh at hillbillies, squids or not.

Stroker and Hoop - A buddy PI show in the vein of Starsky and Hutch, with some Knight Rider thrown in and a whole mess of insanity besides. I think it's pretty damn funny myself, and enjoy the absurdist humor that AS originals are known for.

Tom Goes To The Mayor - The title is the long, drawn out way to say "crap." Tim and Eric, the show's creators, are simply buffoons. Whatever they're trying to parody, they suck at it tremendously. The visual style is harsh and insipid, and the toilet humor is way overused. I can't believe Jack Black and Kyle Gass (AKA Tenacious D) signed on to do their "Traps All Day" episode. The biggest blemish on AS's impecible record.

Robot Chicken - Nostalgic hillarity. It's all the action figures I ever had as a kid, along with dolls and other toys of those bygone days of yore, in situations much to hillarious to accurately describe. Seth Green and company have developed a masterpiece tha sadly only clocks in at 12 minutes per episode, but those 12 minutes are more often than not packed with laughs. Optimus Prime gets prostate cancer. Voltron gets served. Teela is involved in a sex tape scandal with Beastman. And you can't ever forget those wacky bloopers...

Super Milk Chan - I'm still on the fence on this one. It's not AS influenced, though the level of insanity is right up there with that of Williams Street. Milk is a foul-mouthed 5 year old super hero with no discernable powers, who along with Tetsuko her farting robot and pet slug Hanage, take care of problems for the President of Everything, with help from gadgets from King's Idea Laboratory's Dr. Eyepatch. She also flim-flams her gay alien landlord. Funniest moment? The episode where a counterfitter is printing up bills to satisfy his addiction to Belgian Waffles. Yeah. It's like that.

The Boondocks - Love it. Beautiful style, funny as all get out. As I said before, it's the shizzle, nizzle.

Yeah, I have too much time on my hands, and stay up way too late. But hey, it's not by choice...