Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Attempt To Return Vampires to Glory. Pt. 3

PLEASE NOTE: You should, before reading this, definitely read PART ONE  as well as PART TWO if you already have not. I strongly recommend doing so. It will only take you a few minutes, and will greatly enhance the 'experience,' if you will, of reading this one. Thanks, and enjoy!

(although I certainly recommend reading the first two parts, I will post a short summary of the events that have thus far transpired in the town of Hunter's Bluff (aka parts 1 and 2) below).

It's a sad time to be a fan of vampire lore. They started off so well. From Bram Stoker to Anne Rice, vampires have become entrenched in our consciousness, and for good reason. Terrifying yet alluring, these creatures who roam by night and sleep by day strike both fear and curiosity into those who encounter them.

But now......

Now Hollywood has taken vampires and comepletely ruined them. Vampires to not go to school. They do not engage in teen romaces. The certainly do not glitter in the sunlight!

Vampires should be nasty creatures who can put on a veneer of civility if it suits them. They are essentially undead psychopaths. There have been varying iterations of these creatures throughout the years, sarting with Bram Stoker's vision of a refined gentleman living in a gothic castle who harbored a......nasty little secret, and unfortunately culminating in the affront to the horror genre we see today:

Really, what the hell is that?

My personal idea of what vampires should be is a cross between Stoker's original vision and the nasty, viscious creatures seen in the movie 30 Days of Night:

Now THAT'S a Vampire!

And so, with this in mind, I bring you the third excerpt from my entry into last years' 3 Day Novel contest. The entry is a short novel, written in 3 days, as per the rules, so it's definitely a bit rough around the edges, but I believe it turned out rather well for a 3 day marathon effort. So, without further ado, I give you excerpt #3 from Hunter's Bluff, my attempt to return vampires to the state to which they rightfully belong, while at the same time hopefully injecting some new ideas.

(Enjoy, and feel free to offer any criticisms you may have.)

For those who can't be bothered checking over the other(s), I will give you a quick summation of what I have thus far posted:

The Summary of the Story Thus Far

Part 1:

-We met our group of vampires. Gideon, the leader, and the other two, Uriah, and Elijah.
-The vamps were exiled to a remote, small town after plotting against their leader
-The town is now abandoned
-The vampires live in a hierarchical social structure
-They prepare to head out for what could be another fruitless night of hunting, not realizing they have humans in their midst

Part 2:

-We met a few of the humans, but are not aware of their situation beyond the present
-Andrew, Sam, and Amanda are in a seemingly abandoned house
-Andrew and Sam are investigating upstairs, while Amanda sleeps listlessly on the couch downstairs
-They find the attic door open, and are greeted by the coppery, unmistakable smell of blood
-Sam begins to ascend the stairs.........
-Outside, Gideon hears a yell, and is filled with a triumphant sort of vindication as he realizes it's human
-Gideon heads towards the place from which the sound abandoned house.....

And now, I give you part three of the saga:

Sam reached the top step and poked his head into the opening. He saw nothing at all. However, the smell of blood had grown stronger. Much stronger. He hoisted himself up into the attic and shined his light around. Nothing.

Andrew's voice rang out from below. “Sam!!” A second later, he called out again. “SAM!”

Turning around to the entrance, his flashlight beam caught something that made his heart stop and his breath catch in his throat. He gasped. There, in the small space behind the door, crammed into the corner, was what appeared to be a female in her early to mid thirties. She was either unconscious or dead, which of the two it was was not readily apparent. Sam tried to scream but couldn't muster the breath to do so. He was paralyzed by fear and disgust. This was the most pure, naked terror he had ever felt in his life.

Andrew materialized in the hole, his face fraught with fear. Seeing Sam standing there, frozen in place, a look of pure horror on his face, he started to climb up, while simultaneously asking what it was that Sam was seeing.

“What, what?” “What the fuck is it?? he asked, as he quickly climbed up the few steps. He stepped onto the floor and then turned around. When he saw the woman crumpled against the wall, head tilted to one side, dead, with a tourniquet over a half missing arm, another over a half gone leg, bite and claw marks covering her body, a gaping, poorly bandaged wound in her neck, and covered in blood, he screamed the scream that Sam had not been able to muster, and he screamed loud and long enough for the both of them.


Downstairs, Amanda woke up with a start.


Outside, Gideon smiled ruefully as he zeroed in on the location of what he planned to make the contents of his, and his fellow predators', next several meals. He quickened his pace to a near run. As he did so, he mentally channeled Uriah and sent him an order to round up Elijah and come to his location. He got the house in sight and charged at it full speed. He got within five feet of it and leapt.


In the house, Amanda was up and instantly alert. She screamed Andrew's name, and started to run, when she tripped and fell. She could not see much in front of her, so she turned back to the couch and groped around for her flashlight, located it,flipped it on, ran to the kitchen and grabbed one of the knives, and then ran for the stairs, taking them two at a time. She arrived upstairs and saw the ladder that led up to the attic. Without hesitation, she ran towards it and as she was climbing up, there came a terrible crash from the attic above her. The sound of breaking glass was enormous. She got high enough to see the backs of Sam and Andrew, and then from in front of them, came a voice that caused her entire body to run cold. It was the scariest sounding thing she had ever heard. It was deep and raspy, and it immediately conveyed to her that whatever possessed such a voice was evil, not human, and ancient.

“Gentlemen, pleased to make your acquaintance. My name is Gideon, and I will be your host for the foreseeable future.” This was punctuated with a laugh that matched the voice for bone chilling coldness.

The End

Hope you enjoyed it. Please feel free to comment, critisize, praise, admonish, etc etc etc.

Youtube Bulletins SUCK. They break links!! EDITED

Add this to the ever present (and growing!) list of youtube site issues. This one isn't major, but it's certainly annoying. When I link to my latest blog articles in my youtube bulletins, the link appears to be intact, but when I paste it into my browser window, it gets screwy for some inexplicable reason.

For example, this:

becomes: which does not work.

And this:­cans-for-prosperity-is-front-for.html


And again, a broken link.

(changes to both links bolded and red for slightly easier viewing)

My subscribers cannot access my content if they links are frigging broken. What gives? Is this a known issue? Is there a work around? Thanks very much for any and all feedback.

EDIT: I started using tinyurl to shorten the links and it works like a charm.

Earth Defence Force 2017 Review


Earth Defence Force 2017 is a low budget Japanese third-person shooter developed by Sandlot, and published by D3 Publisher, for the Xbox 360. The game is the sequel the to the game Global Defence Force. Earth Defence Force 2017, or EDF 2017, as it is commonly referred to (and will be for the remainder of this review) is the first game in the Defence Force series to be released to North America.

As stated, EDF2017 is a low budget game, released for a budget price. This is something that is imperative to keep in mind when both playing and reviewing this game, as to compare it to its high budget, large development team brethren, including such obvious comparisons as Lost Planet and Gears of War, is to do both the game, and the developers a disservice. Going forward, this is something that should be kept in mind. Also, due to both this fact, and how much fun this game really is, at least to the subset of gamers to which it appeals, I feel compelled to break one of my own self imposed rules and speak from in first person, at least during certain moments of this review.

I have reviewed from the first person a few times in the past, but generally try to avoid doing so, as I find it to be somewhat distasteful for a review, as I like reviews to maintain some semblance of professionalism, and this can quickly be lost if too much subjectivity and personal experience is injected into the review. However, for games that a reviewer truly holds dear, or for certain games for which the reviewer finds it imperative that he or she convey certain ideas, I believe it's often the only real recourse.

I truly believe that EDF2017 is a game that is easily misunderstood, or shrugged off due to either its premise, graphics, budget status, or some combination of the above. I also firmly believe that a strictly objective review would do this game a great disservice, as from an objective standpoint, this game is a complete and utter turd. The thing is though, the game is actually far from that, as a number of gamers will attest to, myself included. This game is so damn fun, and to review it categorically and with no other insight, would just be plain unfair, to both the game and its creators, and also any prospective players, who may miss out on dozens of hours of silly and somewhat inexplicable fun. All of this being said, let's turn to actually assessing the game's qualities.

Here's the premise of the game in a nutshell: Aliens are attacking Earth, and the Earth Defence Force is tasked with being a welcoming party of sorts. A welcoming party armed with 150 different weapons and a slew of vehicles to pilot. And the aliens that are attacking? Giant acid spitting ants, gigantic web slinging spiders, gigantic, several stories tall laser shooting robots, and cybernetic dinosaur mech....things. Think an organic/robotic hybrid that resembles Godzilla.

You are a part of the EDF, and as a member of this elite group, you are tasked with aiding your brothers and sisters in arms in taking on these giant monstrosities across 53 stages and several difficulties, ranging from as easy as could be to so hard you might be able to tackle it if you spend 50-80 hours levelling up enough (although the term levelling up is used loosely, as all that really denotes in this game is picking up enough health pickups, for some reason named armor, to increase your total hit points). Well, that, and attaining the proper firepower.

The gameplay structure is as follows: you choose your weapons (you can carry two) and head into battle. Then, all you do is shoot. The only objectives you have are to shoot.....and shoot some more. You are, for some inexplicable reason, gifted with infinite ammo, for every single weapon in your possession, whether it be a lowly shotgun or a fire-20-missiles-at-once missile launcher. You do most of your travelling on foot, but on occasion, you will encounter various other methods of transport (and attack) such as mechs, tanks and helicopters. All of which should be avoided like the plague, as they control so terribly it's not even worth bothering. I'll get to that later, however.

So, basically, you're on foot, you hold down the right trigger, and take on hundreds of gigantic enemies at once. The enemies, upon death, which has them explode into piles of green goo/blood, drop really cheesy looking 2D powerup icons by the dozen. These powerups come in the form of health boosts, the aforementioned armor tokens (which add to your hit point total, as you'll recall) and weapon icons which grant you a randomly selected weapon unlock (you don't even find out what you got until you complete the level). As you complete levels, you gain HP and weapon unlocks, so there's a tangible sense of progression which fuels the desire to carry on.

The game should last a good 15-20 hours on a first playthrough on the Normal difficulty. Less if you're playing co-op (the whole campaign can be played in 2 player splitscreen co-op). Once you complete Normal, you can, if you're so inclined, then start to tackle the higher difficulties, which require you to unlock more and better weapons, and to also add to your HP total. This of course means level grinding. Weapon unlocks, while random, do have some deterministic element as well, as there are differing possibilities for each level on each separate difficulty, which means it's somewhat random, but the weapons are tied to a few select levels and difficulties, so it's not entirely as random as it may seem.

This design encourages the player to attempt later levels at harder difficulties in order to unlock better weaponry, which will enable them to tackle the challenges that lie farther ahead. It's a system that encourages multiple playthroughs and, if the game grabs you, will keep you going and going and going.....It's the classic carrot on a string game design.

The weapons that you unlock, while incredibly numerous, do come in specific categories, which include things like shotguns, assault rifles, snipers, grenade launchers, missile launchers, rocket launchers, and special weapons, which include things like acid guns, flamethrowers, firecracker bombs, and some others that will not be spoiled here. If you manage to complete the game on Inferno, the highest difficulty, and unlock every single weapon in the game, you are granted the ultimate weapon. I will leave this for you to discover, but suffice it to say that if this game were more popular, it would go down in history as one of, if not the, craziest video game weapons of all time.

While newer weapon unlocks are generally just stronger versions of your current weapons, the weapons on display are still a huge standout, with such things as automatic rocket launchers that shoot several rockets in rapid succession and can level entire skyscrapers in one shot (note that the rubble disappears into the ground within seconds).

The bosses in this game are completely humongous and over the top, which fits right in with the rest of the game, seeing as how it's all humongous and over the top. The aforementioned dinosaur mech....things are one example of what types of bosses you will face in this game. Another boss type are skyscraper sized robots, and gigantic spaceships that are equipped with turrets and give birth to flying robots.

So, for those of you who happen to be so called old school gamers, you're probably recognizing the fact that the label of old school very much applies to this game. Completely over the top, B movie plot and elements, enemy drops, ridiculous weaponry, no objectives other than kill, gigantic enemies and humongous bosses. This game is completely old school, and makes no apologies for it. This would have fit right in in an early 1990's arcade, or on the Genesis or SNES. In 2D of course, but the game design would be exactly the same.

If the previous few sentences appeal to you, or stir up some latent old school gamer feelings within you, then this game is probably for you. Of course, there are some (several, really) caveats to mention. As previously stated, on a technical level, this game fails miserably. If you you can look past this (being aware of the games budget status certainly helps) or that things like this take a backseat to fun for you, then the following statements likely won't dissuade you from playing this game, but I would suggest reading through the criticisms to try and be sure (or to try and approach whatever level of certainty reading a review affords you).

As mentioned earlier, the vehicle controls are horrid. They're so clunky, it seems as though the team ran out of time, and had to leave them unfinished. The animations are really bad. Your characters' run/walk animations are so incredibly strange, you really have to see it. It looks as though the characters' midsection is comprised of a Jenga tower that has sustained a massive blow to its' structural integrity.

The graphics are poor. The sound design is screwed up, in that the 5.1 mix doesn't work properly, and the crude music is mixed too far into the background (which isn't too much of a negative, in retrospect). The physics and collision detection are completely screwy. There are major framerate issues present. When things get really hectic, the slowdown is absolutely horrendous. The powerup icons look like Doom 1 quality sprites. Your dead allies still somehow speak, apparently not appraised of the fact that they are in fact dead. The gameplay basically defines repetitive.

And yet, despite all of that, the game actually rocks. The framerate issues somehow don't matter, and in some way, add to the fun, as you see 20 rockets flying towards a group of 50 or so ants climbing buildings, and running towards you, spitting acid as they do so, all in slow motion. Also, the framerate issues aren't infrequent, but they're also not constant.

The 2D sprite icons spur nostalgic feelings in the veteran gamer. As does, well, everything. I experience major nostalgic feelings when I play this game. The weapons you can toy around with are simply ridiculous, and very fun to both unlock and wield. The enemy designs are really fun, and reminiscent of cheesy B science fiction movies. The action is nonstop, and the infinite ammo means that o matter what weapons you choose to bring with you into a mission, you'll be able to use them from start to finish. No matter if it's an acid gun, a blockbusting claymore type bomb, or the Air Tortoise, which is an agonizingly slow missile that is incredibly fun to watch slowly fly towards its target, which it misses as often as it hits for devastating damage. The co-operative play with two like minded gamers approaches the level of sublime. One could say it's gaming nirvana.

Basically, if you're into mindless fun, love over the top enemies and weapons and B movie plots, and basically don't require every game you play to be a big budget, flashy effects laden so called AAA masterpiece, then this game may very well be the most refreshing thing you have played in a long time. You really have to be able to look past technical issues though. That's the key. I can, and do, and I have put over 60 hours into this game, and I don't plan on ever shelving it for good. I think this is going to be one of those games that I will play sporadically throughout the years. This may not be on anyone's best of lists, but damn it, it's on my most fun list.

I have thought long and hard about the score I assign to this game, and I am absolutely torn. Truly, absolutely torn. My brain wants to simultaneously award this game a 9, 7, and 3. The problem is, I am trying to review, and subsequently score, the game for several types of gamers. This is a game that will really divide gamers. If you only play the ''best'' games, if you don't like mindless fun, but rather, more coherent and at least somewhat cerebral gameplay; if you need a compelling narrative and/or if you didn't grow up with the 8 and 16 bit systems, it's quite likely, although certainly not necessarily a given, that you will think this game to be an absolute piece of junk, to be categorized with the likes of Superman 64 and Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing. A 3 out of 10 would be a fitting score for you, perhaps even too generous on my part.

Ya, try rating me a 3!

On the other hand, if you are me, you really, really love this game, despite being absolutely cognizant of the fact that it's kind of a piece of crap. You know you probably sound like an EDF 2017 apologist, but you're really tempted to score the game a 9, because, damn it, games are about fun. Games are about entertainment. And this game entertained the hell out of you. It provided you with an amount of fun that's nearly unquantifiable (it is, in numbers of hours, but it's a really high number, damn it!). The technical issues really, honestly, and truly don't matter to you, at least not for this game. It's charms absolutely won you over.

However, this also puts you in the awkward position of scoring this game as highly, or very close to as highly, as something like a Gears of War or a Metal Gear Solid. And that can't be right, can it? I mean, okay, if gaming is about fun, then it makes sense that for you , at least, this was subjectively a ton of fun. But don't game designers deserve to be credited for their technical mastery, artistic vision, innovation, etc? If Kojima and co. really busted their asses to make MGS4 as fantastic as possible, do they deserve to be rated around the same as a technically horrendous game?

Then again, EDF2017 had an absolutely miniscule budget, and amount of other resources, like actual developers, so perhaps it's not fair to score them lower than these other games based on those particular variables. Especially since the game not only costs less to make, but is actually selling for less. Doesn't that mean the gamer should expect less? Or should games be judged solely on their merits, independent of such concerns? I mean, a 9 for a game with literally broken mechanics and such glaring technical flaws, plus the repetition.....

Okay, and so gamer number three pipes in and says that it all should be factored in. The game is fun, fun, fun, but also very, very flawed, and even has some broken mechanics. However, it's a budget title, selling for a budget price, and it really is quite fun, despite the issues. So, we factor it all together, and objectively, the game deserves that 3, but then you factor in the budget status, and the subjective assessment of its entertainment value, which is very positive, and you meet somewhere halfway. You can't give it a terrible score, as it really does rise above its problems (depending upon the type of gamer you are, of course) but you also can't give it a really high score, as you're then telling people, at least on the face of it, that the game is as good as those so called AAA games you so adamantly say it's not fair to compare it to.

And so, after a lengthy internal debate, and the several paragraph long, incredibly informal and non traditional section of this review, which not only breaks but demolishes my self imposed but cherished rule of keeping personal comment out of reviews, a decision has been reached, although not without mixed emotions. I hereby award Earth Defence Force 2017 a seven point five out of ten.

Overall Score: 7.5/10

Hardcore vs. Casual Gamers

I've seen this pop up on forums over the years, and I have always wanted to adress it. I just read a topic about it online, and thought now would be a good time to tackle the issue.

So, hardcore vs. casual gamers........

As far as I see it, there is no such division. They are merely labels placed upon people by some who feel the need to differentiate themselves and assign some sort of......rating to their skill and devotion to video games. It's stupid. They're freaking video games. GAMES. Do you hear people talking about casual vs. hardcore swimmers? bowlers? card players? stamp collectors? It's a hobby. Some enjoy it and do it more/better than others.

Now, if you INSIST that there must be these labels, I would assume it's pretty obvious. Hardcore gamers are supposed to play a lot, be fairly proficient at most games, follow gaming news, and play only real or traditional games, no mini game, super easy, or family oriented games for the hardcore gamer. The casual gamer plays here and there, doesn't follow all of the goings on in the industry, buys what's popular or easily accesible.

But then the lines blur.

If someone buys Halo 3 because it's popular, and plays it online a few times a week, but isn't very good......are they hardcore or casual? What if they are awesome at it, but only bought it because it was popular and don't play very often? What if they know everything there is to know about Halo, buy all the games, but play seldomly and aren't very good? What if someone buys only casual games but is really, really good at them, and spends lots of time playing them? Are they a hardcore causual gamer?

If you ask me, we're all just humans who spend some part of our lives playing video games rather than doing something more constructive. Or destructive. They probably keep some people from going absolutely nuts and shooting a dozen people!

I say we just enjoy the games and keep the labels out of it.

See you later. I'm off to play something hardcore.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Descartes Walks Into a Bar.....

And the bartender asks him, "Evening sir, may I interest you in a drink?" to which Descartes relpies, "I think not." He then disappears.

By the way, if you don't get the joke, see this:

Also, my next blog post (or perhaps a post or two will come before it, but it's definitey upcoming!) will be a defence of the Anthropic Principle. See you then, Sephiroth ;)

Americans for Prosperity is a front for corporate interests

Cenk from The Young Turks has, on several occasions as of late, commented on the fact that, while the American Tea Party movement prides itself on being fierce independents against corporate greed, baillouts, government corruption, etc, they have really been doing nothing but fighting for things that conflict with their own interests, and have actually aligned themselves with corporate interests. And this has happened without them knowing it, as they have been manipulated by those with certain interests.

Along these lines of thought comes a short article from the Baltimore Sun, which states that one of the main forces behind the movement is the advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, is really a front group for corporate interests, and is largely funded by the Koch group, through on of their front groups, the Koch family foundations. These corporate interests are leading the movement by directing them to certain causes, organizing rallies, offering transportation, etc. Cenk has challenged the movement to join in on upcoming protests on Wall Street (April 29th) and has been pointing out the fact that there is no such rally planned, even though the movement was supposedly started due to outrage over the financial bailouts, which were a consequence of the damage done by the Wall Street financial people, whose actions went largely unregulated (due in part to lobbyist activities......activities of course funded by Wall Street).

The American government is complicit in this, of course, but so is Wall Street. And yet, the people against greed, overspending, corruption, and the bailouts (not to mention having their hard earned money go to those who fucked with it in the first place) are silent when it comes to Wall Street? Interesting, no? It appears that the people leading the charge don't want them anywhere near Wall Street.

Got My Haircut.

I don't normally do these sorts of blogs, nor do I particularly care for them, but what the hell. My glorious, luxurious locks have been chopped. I have done this with mixed emotion (as always, as I have done this in the past). I feel regret and sadness, but also relief and a small sense of having improved myself in some incredibly small, shallow way.

I'm damn sure it'll be back though. I always do this. Even though my stupid hair refuses to co-operate, I refuse to let the dream die. I WANT LONG HAIR! Yet, everytime it gets to somewhere between chin and shoulder length, I end up cutting it, because it starts to look ridiculous.

Damn my stupid face and stupid, unco-operative hair!

Friday, April 23, 2010

After Burner Climax Review

It's Called Climax for a Reason.

After Burner Climax is the fourth game in the popular After Burner franchise, owned by Sega. The game was developed by Sega-AM2 (published, of course, by Sega) and released to arcades in 2006. Climax was the first new title in the After Burner series since 1992, ending a fourteen year long wait by fans. At least, for those fortunate enough to have access to an After Burner Climax arcade cabinet. Many fans did not have such access, and, as such, were left unable to play the new title. That is, until now. Fast forward to April 21, 2010, and owners of both the xbox 360 and Playstation 3 can now download and purchase a port of the arcade title for a fee of ten dollars. The xbla and psn versions of the game are identical.

After Burner Climax follows the formula of the original games. It's largely an on rails shooter, meaning your forward movement is controlled for you and you fly in a straightforward path. All you need to concern yourself with is moving and shooting. You move along the X and Y axises, meaning that you can move the plane horizontally and vertically, in order to dodge enemy fire and environmental obstacles. You can execute barrel rolls as another evasive option. Similarly to After Burner II, you also have throttle control, meaning that you can control your speed. Anyone who has played Star Fox will be familiar with this formula. The game removes the view options added in After Burner III, and has the player play only from the original After Burner view, which is comprised of a behind the back (or in this case, plane) perspective. This is a move that aids the game in really retaining the feel of the original two games.

In terms of shooting, it's classic After Burner. You have a machine gun, which has infinite ammo, and you also have a large store of missiles, which you can fire at after first locking onto an enemy. The locking on process is very straightforward. You simply move your reticule over an enemy, and they are marked. Once you are locked on, you can launch a missile and enjoy the ensuing explosion. Missiles replenish over time, removing the docking for missiles (and refuelling) seen in some other versions of After Burner. This serves to keep the action moving, which works well for a game of this nature. It's a pure arcade title, and fortunately, it plays to this with no remorse. It's usually to an arcade title's detriment when the developers try to inject simulation aspects into it. Ask any NHL Hitz fan, and they will tell you that Pro basically killed the series, as it lost the magic of the excellent formula found in 20-03.

The one major addition to the formula, and from where the game derives its name, is the Climax mode. It's basically bullet time, for anyone familiar with that concept. For those who are not, time, for a set period, slows down, allowing you to easily target and destroy enemies. In addition, your reticule greatly increases in size, allowing even easier targeting. You can enter Climax mode, target everything on screen, and, upon returning to normal time, watch them all explode in a very impressive display. This feature adds to the formula in a significant way without drastically altering it, and without changing the balance. For those worried that it detracts from the challenge, it doesn't. The climax bar takes time to recharge, and the developers compensated for this feature by building enemy formations around it. You will notice that there are moments which seem to have been implemented specifically for the feature. It's also optional. You can play the game without ever once utilizing Climax mode.

The gameplay takes place over 20 odd stages, some of which are hidden, only accessed by meeting certain conditions. This brings us to the one of the two main complaints that could be levied against this game: it's incredibly short. True to its arcade roots, After Burner Climax can be completed in ten to fifteen minutes. However, like the arcade games of old, fans of the game do not just complete it once and move on. You play it over and over, earning all of the accolades possible, including the special stages and being rated AAA in the three ratings categories that the game scores you on (enemies killed, longest combo, and completion speed). And of course, any arcade gamer will know, you also go for the holy grail of arcade gaming: the high score.

After Burner Climax feeds into the quest for the high score, providing a score attack mode in addition to the default arcade mode. The score attack mode is where the hardest of the hardcore will spend most of their gameplay time, as this mode tallies your score over the course of the playthrough, and uploads it to the online leaderboards upon completion, allowing you to compete with both friends and people around the world. Score attack mode can be completed by anyone, as, unlike the arcade mode, you are granted infinite continues. It's all about the score in this mode, as opposed to the arcade mode which you play more for completion.

For those who do not concern themselves too greatly with attaining a high score, do not despair, as After Burner Climax may still be for you. The developers have seen fit to allow gamers of all stripes the ability to play the arcade mode, which caters to many different playstyles. By default, the game gives you 3 continues, and 3 planes per continue. The arcade mode presents a fairly decent challenge, and may take several tries to beat with the allotted continues. If the player chooses to stick to the default. If they do not, they can play around with a vast array of options, known as EX Options. These are unlocked throughout the game, and more are granted with successive playthroughs, giving players other than the high score hounds incentive to continue playing.

The EX Options allow one to change many different aspects of the gameplay, and allow for one to make the game much easier, or much harder. You can increase or decrease the continues and lives granted. You can have your gun and missiles autofire. You can choose to remove particle effects, which means no smoke trails emanating from missiles and explosive effects, increasing visibility. Some options allow you to play around with enemy fire rates, even allowing you to remove the ability for them to attack altogether. You can increase the size of your reticule, enabling much easier targeting, you can allow infinite climax mode, and on and on. Basically, you can make After Burner Climax play to your personal specifications, greatly increasing the amount of people to whom the game will appeal, and increasing replay value by a large degree.

The original arcade version of After Burner Climax had a feature called dual play mode, which allowed for cooperative play. Two arcade cabinets could be linked together to allow for this. Unfortunately, this mode is absent in the home port, which represents the second drawback to the game. It's quite likely that this was due to lag, as any lag would kill the experience for a game of this nature, but there is no system link option for this either. However, it may not be all that prudent to lament the absence of this feature, as the co-op, from anecdotal accounts, consisted mainly of kill stealing, as the nature of the game, being one hit kills and all, does not play to a cooperative experience all that well. It seems to be the case that After Burner is much better suited to a solitary affair, although not having the option to try this for myself is somewhat regrettable.

There are three planes to choose from this time around, although the differences seem purely cosmetic. You can customize the paint scheme for each plane prior to take off, although these are preset. The last thing you get to select prior to starting is the soundtrack that plays over the game. You can play with the default soundtrack, or, for those who prefer the classic After Burner tunes, the classic After Burner I/II soundtrack can be selected, which provides a very hefty dose of nostalgia while you play through a new After Burner experience. Personally, this option has greatly increased the enjoyment experienced while playing this game, as the classic soundtrack has resonated with me for 20 years.

Graphically, the game is gorgeous. Great looking environments are coupled with excellent particle effects. Seeing missiles leave trails across the sky en route to exploding planes into bits, all taking place over beautifully rendered oceans and landscapes, through canyons, and even indoors, is thrilling. And all of the action does not hinder the smooth, consistent framerate one iota. The game is an aural and visual treat.

After Burner Climax is a no brainer for After Burner fans. It will also appeal to fans of fast, frenetic arcade action. It's an adrenaline fuelled, gorgeous rush, and for someone like myself, who loves the series and has very fond memories of the NES game, playing a gorgeous, updated iteration of the franchise while listening to the classic tunes in all their glory is absolutely thrilling. This is very much an arcade game, and it makes no apologies for that. If you are into arcade games, and you know that they are very short but very replayable, this game is for you. If you're not sure, well, download the free trail and give it a shot.

This game represents the perfect modern addition to a retro series. It maintains the formula while employing a few additions that do not in any way detract from the game, and it maintains the series structure of fast, frantic, fun, short, and replayable. A six hour After Burner would probably not work. This game is meant to be played in bursts. Keep that in mind, and, if it works for you, you cannot go wrong with this game. It knows what it is and it is brilliant at being just that. Kudos to Sega on bringing a fantastic new addition to the After Burner series.

Overall Score: 9/10

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The REAL Cause of Earthquakes......Women!!

Barmy Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi insisted girls who behave "promiscuously" are responsible for burying thousands under rubble. In a sermon the religious leader said: "Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes." Women in the strict Islamic state are forced to hide their hair, and sometimes their faces, by law. But some young girls have dared to bare their bodies by wearing tight clothing and loose headscarves. And Sedighi raged: "What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble? "A divine authority told me to tell the people to make a general repentance. Why? Because calamities threaten us."

Does he actually believe this bullshit, or is her merely doing the ol' get the people in line via the usage of fear bit? That's what I'd like to know.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Presuppositions, Frameworks, and Argumentation.

Video on this topic:

And yes, I was having a horrible hair day that day, sue me ;)

Okay, so I have been intermittently been thinking about this topic for some time. The thing of which I am speaking is debate on the subject of relgion. Now, while this could actually pertain to any subject, I would like to frame this within the context of religious discussion. Namely, that which takes place beteen believers and non believers.
So, believers and non believers have two completely different worldviews, or frameworks, from which their arguments on this subject are deployed. Each of these viewpoints, or frameworks, contain beliefs that are fundamentally subscribed to. They are presupposed. For example, the believer will pressupose the existence of god(s). Any discussion regarding religion always takes place with this presupposition in effect.

An atheist will pressupose things as well. For example, if I am to discuss evolution with someone, I absolutely enter the debate with the presupposition that evolution is a fact. Or, to tie in with the example I gave for the theist, an atheist will pressupose that certain arguments for the existence of a deity are false. Speaking for myself, I outright reject the TAG, cosmological, and teleological arguments for the existence of god, and thusly enter into any discussion about them with the idea in mind that they are insufficent/flawed/unacceptable.

So just what the fuck am I driving at here?

Well, presuppositions can change, although it is (notoriously) difficult. So my question is as follows:
Which do you think is the more effective method of argumentation? Working within people's given frameworks, and trying to change their mind on enough non pressuposed issues until one day the presuppositions themselves naturally come under scrutiny (or they are willing to actually consider them)

aka The Top Down Approach (as it was named by my friend and excellent Youtuber


Going right for the presuppositions, knowing that if you strike right at the heart of the matter and are successful, everything else will presumably fall in line?

aka The Bottom Up Approach (also named by my friend and excellent Youtuber

To elucidate this, as an atheist, would you think I'd have more success refuting a theists' notions on several different particulars until their very belief in god comes into question, or going right for the presupposition, knowing that if I can remove the certainty, the rest will crumble the second the belief in god does?

This of course, as I stated, can be applied to anything. Politics is another big one. This does not have to be about religion.

One thing to add was something I stated in the video: Does the fact of whether or not the ideas that follow from the presuppositions are logically consistent/follow from the belief (aka not non sequitors) change the ideal approach? I would think that it does, in that, if Y follows from X, it might be more prudent to go right for X, since you will have a harder time attacking a position which is seemingly steeped in solid logic. And of course, the opposite would be true (in my view, of course). If Y does NOT follow from X, then it is easier to tackle Y. So, if Y and Z both do not logically follow from X, and you strip them away, X is more susceptible to scrutiny (aka the top down approach).

I would love to get some feedback on this, both from theists and atheists. I think this is an interesting topic than could benefit from anyone, on both sides of this debate. Actually, forget that context, anyone, period, in terms of ANY debate. Sometimes I get too steeped in the theist/atheist thing, but what can I say? It's the area of discussion with which I am most fascinated, opinionated, and well, according to a few people.....obsessed.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Why Are Atheists So Angry?

Why Are Atheists So Angry?

Warning: Anger and cursing ahead! If you're going to be offended, don't read it. I allow my baser emotion to run awry in this one, so consider yourself warned.

Why are atheists so angry? The question I hear so often. It's amazing that it gets asked at all, let alone on a regular basis. I mean, really, listen to the words that are coming out of our mouths! Is that so fucking difficult?

So, really, the short answer is that. PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT I AM SAYING AND YOU'LL HAVE YOUR ANSWER.

Of course, the short answer doesn't always suffice (and it's never as fun) so, in the spirit of both fun and of providing satisfactory answers, here's the long answer:

Have you been paying attention to the news lately? See what the Catholic church has been up to? What nonreligious organizations would get away with such behaviour? What nonreligious organizations would be defended after committing such horrible actions and covering them up?

Go ahead, tell me, I'm waiting......


Religion gets a pass due to the professions of ''holiness'' and the fact the people think they hold their afterlives in their hands. It's sickening. Repeat after me:


Diplomatic immunity my FUCKING ASS. If that cocksucking (no offence to gay men or straight women, I love you both) fucking child abuser protecting, African killing (due to his BULLSHIT condom policy), selfish hypocritical piece of shit stepped foot in my area I'd beat the shit out of him and then place him under citizens arrest.


Atheists are sick of being ostracized for not believing in otherworldly deities. You have no idea what it is like to be looked at with that fucking annoying piece of shit face when people realize you don't believe as they do. It's a combination of surprise, pity, sadness, fear, and disgust.

I am tired of being the least trusted minority. I would like the fact that it's basically impossible for us to hold public office to change. And I am sick of hearing so much anti atheist rhetoric coming out of America, esp. Faux News, and other right wing outlets. FUCK YOU. All you're doing is strawmanning and generalizing, and painting 15%-25% of your country with a broad brush. In the same way I can say many (most) theists are good people, you assholes should be honest and good enough to say the same with respect to atheism. But, your stupid religions teach that we're bad, so I guess even though you're adults and should know better, maybe it's not entirely your fault.....maybe.

And I am SICK of being threatened with hell. Seriously, FUCK YOU. I especially love it when you ask them if they themselves think it's fair that you're being punished for eternity for a lack of belief in a deity who left you no reasonable evidence on which to base your belief, and they are in a position where they either have to agree with their god and say yes, which is just disgusting, or say no, which they are usually reluctant to do. Which means 95% of the time I get ''Well, it's not up to me'' or ''We can't judge god.''

Right. Nice fucking cop out. If you can say he's good, just, holy, righteous, etc etc etc....guess what? YOU ARE FUCKING JUDGING HIM, HYPOCRITE!!

Positive statements are judgements!!!!!!!

Btw, on the subject of hell, I don't understand why anyone would worship a god that would do that, even if they think he exists. We all have parents, and they exist, but sometimes, they're just assholes, and aren't worthy of respect. Maybe, rather than praying for me, you should ask your god to be MORE REASONABLE, AND NOT BE A VINDICTIVE, PETTY, MEAN SPIRITIED FUCKING ASSHOLE!!

I am so, so fucking incredibly, indescribaly sick of the wars, terrorism, divisiveness, oppression, hatred, bigotry, etc perpetuated by the religious. Do I have to go through the laundry list of specific problems, both present and past, that are directly tied to religion? When people are brought up in a culture that ingrains these beliefs into them, are taught that anyone who doesn't believe as they do are bad, and PRAISE the idea of believing without evidence (on faith), you can end up with major problems.

We are at war with Islamist extremists, yet, this idea that religion is ''holy'' and untouchable, something to be ''respected'' (to a fucking absurd degree) lends it this protectionism that is motherfucking preposterous. All ideas, ALL OF THEM, should be up for scrutiny. But not religious belief, no no, can't touch that. And so now, we're at war with an idea that we can't even properly examine, let alone criticize. HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO COMBAT IT?

Religion discourages progression. It forces people to accept theories and then apply evidence to fit those theories and reject that which does not fit, which is the TOTAL FUCKING OPPOSITE of what we should be doing.

It's also divisive and teaches children that they are christian children or Islamic children and therefore are different than opposed to just being children. Shouldn't a person's religion (or lack thereof) be their fucking choice? Think about it: Why do you think religions want to get to kids so young? Hmm....perhaps because no one would believe this shit if they were exposed to it when they were 20?

People are using their religious morals to affect LAW, and the lives of others (gay marriage laws, anyone?). Guess what? We don't live in a fucking theocracy.

They want to teach creationism in public schools for Christ's sake (pun certainly intended)! In SCIENCE class even! It's INSANITY!

The HORRENDOUS, BIGOTED treatment of gay people, greedy, bullshit televangelism, fraudulent ''faith healing'', parents not giving their children the proper medical treatment in favour of praying, irrationality, poor standards of evidence being taught as a GOOD thing, the degradation of secularism and separation of church and state......

All in all, these totally UNPROVEN and natural law breaking gods have caused WAY more problems than they are worth, in this humble person's opinion.

But, magx, religion does so much good!!

Name me ONE moral act a theist can do that I cannot.

(And if you're going to mention religious charities, don't. Go to Google and type in secular charities. There's a fuckload, and the biggest one in the world is run by an atheist.)

Of COURSE religious people do good. But they do NOT need religion to do those things.

But, magx, religion teaches morality!!

Name me one moral teaching from a religion that did not already exist, or is exclusive to religion. Morality is inherent within us. We would not survive as a species without it. We thrive on co-operation, and co-operation requires certain rules in order to maximize adaptation, and propagation. Hence, morality.

The End

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

First Attempt At Uploading to

Here's the first ''episode.'' Unfortunately, while this seems to be working if you utilize the direct link, if you access my ''show'' at video does not load in the main page's video player :( I hope it's an issue that will be resolved.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Message to Catholics

Friday, April 2, 2010

How To Add Video Responses In New Youtube Layout 2010