quarta-feira, 31 de dezembro de 2008

Top 5 albums of the year

Because everyone loves lists ant top tens (or top fives in this case), I thought of going back and seeing what bands made the best music this year. Here it goes, in no particular order:

Eluveitie - Slania

I can't recommend this album enough. A fantastic blend of folk music, heavy guitars and growling vocals more common in the heavier sub-genres of metal, this cd just blew me away. In fact, I think that, despite it being released earlier in the year, I still listen to Bloodstained Ground and Elembivos pretty much everyday. Truly spectacular songs.

Mudvayne - The New Game

A late entry in the year, this album is the successor to a personal favourite of mine, the amazing Lost & Found released back in 2005 (and which sadly brings back some bad memories along with the awesome music). Overall I didn't like this one as much, despite the overall sound being the same (still a departure from the first Mudvayne albums), but it still has some good songs. I personally love Scarlet Letters, which ironically is somewhat beautiful and tragic at the same time.

Slipknot - All hope is gone

Looks like this year marked the comeback of many old-time favourites. I have to confess that at first I really didn't like Slipknot's latest effort, but with time the album kind of grew on me. It's heavier than Vol. 3 - The Subliminal Verses (which is a good thing for many but not really for me, I liked that cd), but still not as heavy or as raw as the first album (still my favourite to this day). It really is kind of like a cross between Iowa and Vol .3, really. Anyway, what really sold me on this was the song with the name of the album. This is really Slipknot at its best, powerful and angry and heavy and...fuck, it's awesome!

In Flames - A Sense of Purpose

I talked about this one already so I'm basically going to repeat myself. At first I didn't like this album at all, but after repeated plays I started to appreciate all that it had to offer and now I end up listening more to it than the predecessor, the awesome Come Clarity. The Chosen Pessimist is as epic as in Flames have ever done, Drenched in Fear sends chills down my spine and if there's anything I have to criticize this album for is not having the songs from the EP in the regular edition. Eraser, Tilt and Abnegation are some of the best songs of the special edition and truly deserved to be in the regular edition as well. Now you know, if you have the album but never listened to these songs, do it, now!

Elvenking - Two Tragedy Poets

The surprise of the year. The last album by Elvenking, The Schyte, didn't really impress me, but this return to the roots (or so say the fans), with impressive duets between the two vocalists and more acustic instruments than electric ones was already a favourite even after just one play (and you know how rarely I like an album after just listening to it once). The first track reminded me of Eluveitie, which is saying a lot, and the rest just... I don't know, it's so different from what I usually listen to, but so awesome at the same time. A truly fantastic work (and probably the only one my esteemed readers will care for...).

quinta-feira, 18 de dezembro de 2008

It's Christmas, it's Christmas, la la la la la...

The title makes more sense in Portuguese... (it's a Christmas song) Anyway, update time! The exams are finally over (finally!), although I still have a project to do for Book and Publishing History (that sounds weird in English, doesn't it? Maybe I translated it wrong...) and I'm fucking sick! Fucking tonsillitis, it's the same shit every year... And the doctor didn't even gave me an antibiotic... (not to mention I waited two hours to be checked in 10 minutes...)

Other than that life is good at the moment. Sort of... I'm definitely in a bad luck streak when it comes to hardware. My PC is starting to break (poor bastard, it's been 4 years of intensive (ab)use), my PS2's laser finally wore off and now the bitch doesn't read anything and, to top it off, my Xbox 360 got the RRoD. AGAIN! I can't fucking believe this shit! The first time I was like "ok, nothing to worry about M$ will take care of it". The fuck they did! Only one year has passed and this shit happened again. On the same console! (I know it's the same because of the serial number). Shit...

On the other hand, yesterday I occasional passed by a GAME store (they just recently started popping up over here, before we had no major retailers, only independent shops) and OMG what did I see? A used Xbox for 50€! That's as cheap as they get here! I couldn't resist so I passed by today to pick it up and it really seems to be in good condition, looks like the previous owner barely touched it (it has practically no scratches and only a handful of gamesaves on the hard-drive). It came with two controllers too, although I had to pay an additional 10 euros for those (still pretty cheap).

Right now I'm preparing to mod it because, you know, given the awesome potential of the system, having an unmodded Xbox is practically a sin. Wish me luck (I so hope my bad luck streak as finally passed, otherwise I'll probably brick it when trying to mod it...).

Edit: Great success! I managed to mod the sucker! :D Here, take a look at the process:

segunda-feira, 1 de dezembro de 2008

PS2 Hidden Gems

Sorry for the lack of updates recently, but I've been really busy with college stuff, with tests and presentations and all that stuff, not to mention, of course, my book (459 pages as I write this!), so it's hard to update this blog.

Anyway, check out this article over at Racketboy if you haven't already. It's probably the biggest article in the Hidden Gems series so far and I was really surprised to see so many games I've never even heard of before. I have no problem admitting that my ego, as a...hu-hum..."videogame expert", suffered a little with this. But still, what surprised me the most was the fact that the almighty Racketboy asked this humble servant to contribute with a couple of descriptions to the article! Fuck yeah! I hope you like the descriptions of Drakan and The Mark of Kri, those were the ones I wrote :)

See ya!

domingo, 23 de novembro de 2008

Oldboy remake

Please God, no...

Apparently Spielberg is interested in making a remake of the 2003 Korean film Oldboy (one of my favourite asian movies, next to the Japanese epic Battle Royale). Now, the question is, why? Why the fuck would they do that? For me the only remakes worth doing are those of old movies who relied heavily on special effects that were still very "primitive" (sorry, couldn't think of a better word) at the time, thus enhancing the original experience. King Kong is the first example that comes to mind. But this? What's the point? It's a recent film and a story-driven one, it's still as fresh nowadays as it was when it was released. So, what are they trying to do? "Americanize" it? Ruining it would be a better expression...

At least Steven is thinking of a good actor for the main role, Will Smith, who is nowadays one of my favourite actors due to his awesome acting in I Am Legend and Hancock, but still, it's going to feel strange watching him playing the role of this guy:

sábado, 22 de novembro de 2008

Tropa de Elite

Because not all good movies come from Hollywood, yesterday I decided to give a try to the Brazilian film Tropa de Elite (the English title is Elite Squad, although the literal translation would be Elite Troop). After the spectacular flic that was Cidade de Deus (City of God) I began to held Brazilian cinema in high regard, and this one didn't disapoint. It was quite the opposite, really, since it was even better than I had imagined.

Elite Squad is an intense and astonishing look at Rio de Janeiro’s notorious favelas, the volatile slums on the edge of the city, presenting an intimate look at the city’s vast and intricate web of corruption. The elite BOPE force (State Police Special Operations Battalion) combats drug trafficking, keeping order has its price though and their actions make it difficult to distinguish right from wrong and justice from revenge. BOPE Captain Nascimento is facing a crisis: in addition to the pressures of fighting within war zones, the Captain must find and train his own replacement so he can escape the day to day violence and be close to his wife who is about to give birth to their first child. Two of the force’s newest recruits, are childhood friends: one is quick on the trigger to maintain order and the other refuses to compromise his ideals. Together they are the perfect replacement, but alone they may not have what it takes to survive.

(fan made trailer, but it turned out pretty good, way better than any of the english trailers, although it spoils the movie a bit...)

As a film it does everything right. The characters are just great, the pace is perfect, the story is engaging and the special effects are worthy of Hollywood. The subject is a bit controversial, of course, and none of the main characters are your typical "good cop", but if you like hard, gritty, realistic movies about an equally hard reality, give this one a try.

sexta-feira, 14 de novembro de 2008


My car is back! Just take a look:

Fuck yeah!

Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe: Fatalities

You got to be fucking joking...

sexta-feira, 7 de novembro de 2008

Gears of Awesome!

For me Gears of War, the first game, was special. It was the second "great game", so to speak, I bought for my 360 (after Oblivion) and to this day stays as one of my favourites. No so much because of the multiplayer which is what kept everyone hooked to the game after beating the somewhat short singleplayer campaign. Yes, the multiplayer was really fun (I'll never forget the time when I single-handedly chainsawed 3 guys of the other team, only to be shotgun-blasted to bits by the only survivor), but what I really liked was the story and the setting of the game. There was something about that world, so close and yet so different of our own, that really connected to me, and to this day I get the shivers everytime I listen to the main menu's theme.

So, I think it's not necessary to say I was completely psyched about Gears of War 2. Would it be as good as the first? Even better? Or just a lame way to rip off the fans hard-earned cash? Today I'm proud to say it's better. There are two games that came to my mind as I was playing this one, Metal Gear Solid 4 and God of War 2. The similarities may not seem obvious at first, but they're there. With MGS4 it shares it's overall greatness. This is a polished product, made with care and everything seems just so right. This is a hard feeling to convey through words, but I hope you'll see what I'm talking about. It also reminded me of GoW 2 not only because they both can be spelled "GoW 2" but because they're sequels who managed to surpass the already great original titles by offering a bigger experience. A longer singleplayer mode, larger maps, a greater sense of scale, huge enemies... I think you get my point. Both games are more epic than their predecessors, which was no easy task.

But what exactly makes the singleplayer campaign of GoW 2 so much better than the one in the first game? We can sum it all down to 3 main aspects in my opinion: it's longer, more story-driven and more varied. While the first game was criticized for having a short campaing, GoW 2 will entertain you longer and, even more important, without getting dull or boring. In fact after finishing it I was sad, because I wanted to play even more. That's how good it is. Then comes the story. The first game had an awesome setting, the world and the mythology created for it was really interesting and engaging. Unfortunately the story was too superficial for what that awesome setting had to offer, but that's also fixed here. You'll learn more about Marcus' father, Dom's wife (there's a pretty powerful scene regarding this, but of course I won't spoil it for you) and the Locust themselves. Your image of them can actually change, as you discover that there's more to them than just a mindless horde, and the ending...wow, what a cliffhanger, can't wait for GoW3!

And then comes the variety. One moment you're covering terrain on foot, the other you're confined to a moving vehicle you have to defend. Then you'll enter a tunnel and have to advance in full darkness, or you enter a cave and have to use indigenous life as moving cover. You can shoot mounted machineguns or pick up a mortar and release death from above. But the most awesome parts are saved for the end and they're so epic you wont believe your eyes. Remember in MGS4 (HUGE SPOILER!!!111oneoneone) when you take control of REX? (end of HUGE SPOILER). Well, it's that awesome!

Then there's also the mupltiplayer but I haven't tried that yet. Only played a little bit of a new mode called Horde where you fight, alone or with buddies, against wave after wave of Locust. Looks interesting for those times when you just want to chainsaw a grub in half.

So, to end this sort of review, this game is awesome. Really. I would buy a 360 to play it if I didn't have one already. Of course, if for some reason you didn't like the first one, you probably wont' like this one too, but for fans of the original this just couldn't have been a better sequel (although I wanted a certain someone to survive till the end...). One of the best 360 games. Ever. Thank you, Epic, thank you for this game.

terça-feira, 28 de outubro de 2008

speed + rain = crash

I had a car accident yesterday. Fuck... There I was, peacefully stopping for a red light, when this mothafucker ran into my car, pushing me against the car in front of me, so my ride got fucked at both ends. Fuck! I love my car so much, I'm always careful with it, didn't even had a fucking scratch on it, and this fucking piece of shit does this to me! Fuck dammit! At least I'm alright. Well, sort of, my neck is killing me... I hope it's nothing, it's probably just sored because of the impact... Well, anyway, that's it, nothing else to talk about now. Gonna have a Portuguese exam tomorrow, whish me luck (I suck at grammar)

sábado, 25 de outubro de 2008

Gears of WOW!

So, I decided to delete the previous post because this game is just too awesome and I think it deservers better. When it comes out in little more than a week expect a full-fledged review worthy of this game. Till then ;)

sábado, 11 de outubro de 2008

There's only one way out of hell...

...and that's throught it! Or so they said in some Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway trailers. Now, I'm a huge BiA fan, because not only the franchise brought something new to the done to death WWII shooter genre, it was also one of the most realistic shooters I've ever seen, probably only surpassed by the so-real-it-hurts Operation Flashpoint (epic game!).

It also had quite a great story to it, specially the second game, so I couldn't wait to lay my hands on the next-gen sequel. Also, the first trailers were nothing short of awesome, which contributed a lot to make my enthusiasm grow even higher. So, now that I've finished it, was it that awesome? Hmm...it was a great game, no doubt about that, but I'm afraid to say they didn't exactly deliver everything they promised.

About the changes, there are a couple of new things in this game. The story, for example, is much more present than in the previous games. This game has so many cut-scenes that sometimes it seems like a MGS game or something, but they're pretty well done, so no complaints there. Also, our character suffered a pretty interesting change, from the tough, always right and secure of himself, tough guy from the first game to a pretty damaged soldier. Legget's death, in particularly, affected him way more than we thought in the previous games, and it goes to the point of him allucinating and speaking to Legget's "ghost". Interesting stuff, no doubt about that.

Gameplaywise, now we have an additional team, besides our assault and "covering fire" teams. It's the bazooka guys, and they rock! Those guys can kill an entire platoon of german soldiers with just one well placed shot, not to mention that they can blow up solid cover like sandbags (don't expect them to blow up buildings, tough). They're an invaluable asset, too bad they sometimes get too confused to navigate the map properly and end up killed...

About the cover, now more fragile things like wooden fences, barrels, etc can be destroyed by your shoots, which is always nice, but unfortunately the same amount of interaction didn't go to all the other things that should react to bullets, like the objects inside the houses for example. The last big change to the gameplay is the cover system. Now you can hide behind cover Gears of War style, and the camera changes to the third person, switching your iron sights to a pretty damn accurate white cross. Now, it's not like I'm complaining or something, but this makes the game almost too easy, and makes veteran players feel cheated since we had to endure the whole previous games with just the fucking iron sights, with which you would empty a whole fucking magazine just to kill a guy. And that was in case you got lucky...

Anyway, the tanks are back, but instead of giving it orders, now you directly control it, Call of Duty-style. Too bad the controls suck and these stages feel somewhat unfinished, but they're a pretty cool addition nonetheless and provide for a nice change of pace.

I know I've been mainly saying good things about the game, and indeed it is a good game, but the early trailers showed more. For example, in a trailer you would see a dutch citizen warning you through a window to the nazi guy hidden behing some drying blankets, after which your character shoots the guy and he falls over. That looked AWESOME! In the final game there's nothing like it. Another example, in another trailer you could explore your base, watching your soldiers relax and doing something to pass the time. According to the producers this would allow you to interact with them and feel more connected to them by seeing their "human" side, when not killing germans. In the final game there's only gameplay, action levels and cut-scenes, and nothing like that. Fuck, I kind of feel ripped off...

Still, I would recommend this game for anyone not yet bored with WWII shooters who's looking for a different take on the genre. It gets the NebachadnezzaR's seal of approval. Now, Gearbox, do better next time, will ya? (I got a feeling from the final cut-scene that there's going to be another sequel somewhere in the snow, my guess is that it will be about the battle of the bulge)

sexta-feira, 10 de outubro de 2008

epic sounds

Sorry for the lack of updates. Yeah, I know I said this a lot in the past already, but lately I've been really busy with college and it's tough to keep this place updated, although I love my blog more than ever now that I passed the first year mark. Thank you guys for all the kind words in the previous post, I love you all :)

Now, I thought of getting back into action with something a little different. Yes, it's another music post, but this time it's not exactly my usual stuff. Lately, as a sort of source of inspiration for my book (380 pages already, btw), I've been delving in the realms of Power Metal. I was already a fan of the genre, with Blind Guardian, Sonata Arctica and a couple of other bands as my top references, but I decided to explore more of this type of music and lately I've been completely addicted to two bands in particular, Rhapsody and Stratovarius.

Starting with Rhapsody, they're actually now called Rhapsody of Fire because some legal bullshit with their last name, but for me they're just Rhapsody and that's it. This is truly epic stuff that would fit right in with a LotR movie for example. Full of classical instruments, powerful vocals with epic choirs, and lyrics full of awesome stories, it's really something like I've never seen before. Speaking of the lyrics, they're not just isolated stories. They actually tell epic stories worthy of a novel throughout their various albums, which is nothing short of amazing. Here's another example:

Now, Stratovarius, they're pretty different. Although in the same genre, their lirical themes have nothing to do with the usual fantasy stuff. The music is also pretty different from Rhapsody, which might out of place if you've just finished listening to the songs above, but still they make some pretty damn good songs. The voice of the vocalist, particularly, is pretty unique and gives a special feeling to their music. Here's what I think is the best song by them that I've listened so far:

Hope you liked it :)

sábado, 27 de setembro de 2008

Happy birthday!

I have to begin this post with a shameful fact: I forgot about this blog's birthday. OMFG, what a terrible blogger I am! It's like forgetting the birthday of your children, or something! Well, on the other hand, maybe I just had such a good time here that I never thought, even for a second, that one full year might have already passed, so it came as quite a shock when I saw that my first post was written on the 30th of August, 2007.

(unrelated, just something that made me lol)

One year, it's quite a long time on the internets, isn't it? In a world where new sites and blogs appear everyday just to disappear the next day, I feel kind of proud to have created a placed that endured almost 13 months now and shows no sign of stopping. And I won't stop, as long as I have things to say and people to read them.

Which leads me to the awesome readers I have here. I know this may sound lame, but without you this place wouldn't exist, and I'm serious, because I had another blog, a few years ago, that I stopped working on because I barely had any readers. Fortunately that is not the case with NebachadnezzaR's Place of Awesomeness, thanks to my "blog buddies" Father Krishna, Gnome, Deitrix, Junlee, Funnyman and Blondjon; my friends from PTGamers who ocasionally come by, TGenial, Blackhole69, German and Simbyotic; my heavy metal mate dxvolt and the only visitor who's also a friend in real life, my main man Fredy.

Thanks, guys :)

Now, let's fucking party! The beer's on the house, and so are the cigars and the champagne, so feel free to consume whatever makes you happy :P

segunda-feira, 22 de setembro de 2008

Unleash the force

Sorry for the lack of activity on this blog. Like Father K, gnome and other "blogging friends" of mine, and of ours since we have this sort of blogging community going on here, I've been in a sort of blogging hiatus as of late. It was mostly due to lack of time, now with me entering college and all that, but I have to admit I've been a bit lazy as well. Well, anyway, just some days ago I played and beat Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, and I fucking loved it.

Now, I have to admit, I'm not a huge Star Wars fan. In fact I hardly have any interest in it, and although I've played a lot of SW games it was always for the gameplay alone, because I couldn't care less for the story. Not that there's anything wrong with it, sci-fi just isn't my style, and all that moral bullshit between dark and light sides surely didn't help me like it more. But I digress.

Despite not being a SW geek, pardon me, SW fan, I still had a blast with this game, because it fucking rocks! The story, surprinsingly, is appealing to pretty much everyone since it narrates a sort of self-contained chapter in the SW canon. Of course it has connections to previous and future events in the movies (it's set between episodes III and IV), but it's pretty damn enjoyable just by itself. This is due to a damn great main character. Starkiller is just a fucking cool protagonist and really felt like I could relate to him. The other supporting characters are also interesting, specially Starkiller's droid, Proxy, who's programmed to routinely try to kill him.

Gameplay wise, the game is called force unleashed for a reason. You've never had so much control over that misterious energy. Force lighting is...shocking (lol), force push lets you push enemy soldiers out of your way (into oblivion, if you happen to be on a bridge) and force grip is just...wow. You can pick up almost everything that's on the levels (Tie Fighters included) and trow it into the air or, of course, at enemy soldiers. You can also pick those up and just play around with them, which is pretty entertaining in a sadistic kind of way.

Talking about force grip, I have to mention the technical "holy trinity" of this game: Havok for the physics, Euphoria for the character's animations and finally Digital Molecular Matter for the physical properties of the objects. When you combine the three of them, the result is something to be seen. The soldiers you pick up try to grab on to something (and they get much harder to handle if they succeed), the objects you throw react to the enviromnent and everything you break, breaks in a realistic way, calculated in real-time. Just see some videos to get the full picture, because I could never translate it into words.

Unfortunately I have two major gripes with the techincal aspect of the game. The first is the fact that the debris of the things you destroy disappear after just a few seconds, right in front of your eyes. WTF... Yeah, I know it would demand a hell of a lot of processing power if they stayed there forever, but couldn't they wait til you leave the room to vanish? The second is the bugs. This game feels so unfinished... Why couldn't they push back the release date for one or two months? As it is, sometimes objects react in an erratic way, there's clipping issues and worse, sometimes even your character gets stuck. Once I actually had to restart the game because Starkiller got completely stuck while trying to jump down a hole. Oh, and there's also the loading screens. Ca you believe there is loading screens even when you're just navigating through the menus? How fucked up is that...

Still, in the end this game was just fucking awesome. Essential to every SW fan and definitely recommend for action fans, whether they like George Lucas' work or not. The gameplay is fun and addictive, the story is superb, the music is good (and the voice acting is ace! better than a lot of movies I've seen, actually) and overall it's just a pretty entertaining, if short, game.

quinta-feira, 28 de agosto de 2008

Contra Retrospective

So, less than a week ago I decided to play every Contra game released to date (not every port of every game, although I did play more than 1 version of some games) and today I can proudly say that I successfully accomplished this. Yeay! So, if you're curious about this series but don't have the time/patience/interest to do the same yourself, here's a summary of what I think about every game for your information (note that after each title I only indicate the version(s) I played, not every single version made):

Contra (NES)

The original game, this is what most people remember when they think of Contra. I bet it was a great game back in the day, but unfortunately I never played it back then and nowadays I can honestly say it sucks! Yes, I said it! Hit me, Contra fanboys! Ok, seriously now, that's indeed my opinion about it. The graphics suck, the gameplay is competent but not that great, the "3D" areas suck, the game is hard as hell and after you lose there's not many reasons to come back.

Super C (NES)

The follow up to the original game, it's even more difficult and although there's a couple innovations, for the most time it feels just like Contra all over again but, for some reason, slightly worse.

Contra Force (NES)

Well, if the previous games sucked, this one sucks 100x more! Why? Because it wasn't even supposed to be a fucking Contra game! Like Silent Hill 4 or Pirates of the Caribbean, CF was going to be an original game, but instead they decided to give it the name of a famous license. The result? A game that barely has anything to do with the other games in the series. It's slow, the gameplay is not that much fun and overall it just plain sucks.

(note that the slowdown is not from the video or the emulator, the game is really that slow)

Operation C (Gameboy)

Now, this is a good game for a change! The graphics are what you can expect from a gameboy, with that unique design in black and white. Unlike the previous games, the controls seem fluid and natural, and for a portable game, this one kicked ass.

Contra III: The Alien Wars (SNES, Gameboy Advance)

Some people consider this the best Contra game ever. I wouldn't got that far, but it's definitely in my top 4 (what? I couldn't just pick 3 games...). The graphics are amazing, the gameplay is refined and addictive, the weapons are awesome and overall it's just an awesome game. One thing I didn't like though, and that was the over-head stages, where you have to manually rotate the camera around the character, because not only are those sections slow-paced and boring, that camera thing makes me dizzy.

The GBA port is pretty much the same with 2 big diferences: the graphics were toned down (although still pretty good for a GBA) and the over-head stages were replaced with levels from Contra: Hard Corps, which is good in my opinion, but many people didn't like that.

Contra: Hard Corps (Mega Drive)

For me this one is even better than C3. The graphics pushed the limits of the system and the gameplay was pretty evolved compared to the previous games. For the first time you had 4 characters to choose from, each with their own set of weapons, you could carry 4 weapons at the same time and there were multiple paths you could take, leading to different levels and diferent endings. There were 6 endings, and the game was so addicitve that I ended up watching them all, and they were worth it.

The only bad thing about this game is the difficulty, or so I hear. It's regarded as the hardest Contra ever, but I can't really say. Why? Because I'm a fucking cheater, that's why! Yeah, I know this isn't something pretty to say, but even the easiest C games are too damn hard for me, so, in order to prevent me from going insane, I played every game using life or invincibility cheats. Shamefull, I know, but it was the only way for me to have fun with the games, and that's what matters for me.

Contra: Legacy of War (Saturn, PSX)

If you're really interested you can read my full review over at the Saturn Junkyard. On the other hand , if you're just looking for a quick summary, here it is. This game sucks! Hard! By attempting to bring the game to 3D they decided to make everything in a overhead view and they sucked at it. This game is just not fun.

C: The Contra Adventure (PSX)

The title is right because, after the flop fo the previous game, they decided to take a new approach. A return to the origins? No, although it seems like it at first, with the first level being a side-scrolling one just like in the old games. Unfortunately eventually the "adventure" levels come, in a 3rd person Tomb Raider-like style. Yeah, I know, back in the days everyone was looking for that kind of games to show off the PSX's capabilities, but as expected, in the end the game sucked. Not so much as the previous one, but still.

Contra: Shattered Soldier (PS2)

Now this is a 3D Contra game! Probably my favourite (and the one who gave me more problems to get it running, like every old PS2 mine doesn't like CD's that much so any CD-based game gives me a headache), it's basically what one can expect from it. A side-scrolling Contra game with fast paced action, great graphics and huge (and fucking ugly) bosses. Probably the hardest game after Hard Corps, it was still beatable after some serious level memorization. Anyway, it was a blast to play.

Neo Contra (PS2)

Why? After getting it right with Shattered Soldier, why did they have to fuck things up again? Although not as bad as the 32 bit games, Neo Contra is still a bit on the sucky side of things. With an overhead instead of sidecrolling perspective, this could've worked, if only it had a control system like Geometry Wars, to give a recent example, where you control the character with one stick and shoot with the other. As it is, it's just too damn hard to hit enemies, and that takes some of the fun of the game. At least it's somewhat easy when compared to the other games.

Contra 4 (Nintendo DS)

Actually the last game of the series was the first one I played to the end, sometime ago when it was first released. Great game, in a 2D style similar to the first ones, and making use of the 2 screens to bring back the experience of the first game's Arcade version, which featured a vertical screen. There's also a lot to this game other than the main adventure. There's a series of challenges that seriously challenge you and if you're skilled enough you can unlock full versions of Contra and Super C for the NES, among other neat extras. Definitely a mandatory purchase for fans of the series.

So, in the end, what were my favourites? Definitely Shattered Soldier, Hard Corps, C3 and 4, and if you're thinking about getting into Contra I recommend you play those ones first. The worse were the original NES ones, which, nostalgia aside, didn't stood up to the test of time, and the 32 bits games, which were already bad when they first came out, but in the end I have to admit there's a "clone" of this series than I enjoy even more than any Contra game

Metal Slug! Now that's a good series with hardly any bad game (although MS X, 4 and 5 did suck a little), that elevated the gameplay first introduced by Contra to whole new levels. Contra may be the original but for me Metal Slug is the pinnacle of the run 'n gun style of action games, so I recommend everyone, and I mean everyone, to check those games out.

terça-feira, 26 de agosto de 2008

Maximum the Hormone

Do you know Random J's corner of JPop? Well, this is Nebacha's corner of JMetal! Ok, not quite, but I thought that sentence sounded cool (actually the "J" in the title of J's blog is referring to himself, it's J's blog of Pop, not of JPop). Anyway, the fact is, although I'm quite a fan of Japanese culture (not a Japanophile, though. I'm interested in their culture, not obsessed with it, or better, with the romanticized version of it portrayed by most games and anime series), I have to admit, their metal sucks! Although they're pretty big fans of the genre, they usually suck at it, having few and somewhat mediocre bands. Still, thanks to Death Note I've just found a fucking awesome JMetal (if we can call it that) band: Maximum the Hormone!

Here, watch this:

Freaking awesome, isn't it? Ok, maybe not at first time, but after a while it starts to grow on you, and the images fit right in with the sound (love the way they put images of Misa in provocative costumes right when the song gets heavier). But this one is even better, in my opinion:

Those are just short verions used in the anime, you can check out the full songs on youtube if you're interested. Preety cool, uh? It definitely caught me by surprise, with an interesting mix between clear elements of heavier sounds, like Death/Black Metal or Grindcore, and softer sections, like the beginning of the second song. The full album, Buiikikaesu, reflects this even more, it's not as heavy as one might think just from listening to this. It's actually more rock than metal for the most part, but, regardless of what it is, what matter is that it's awesome, and reminds us that there's more to Japanese music than just J-Pop.

quinta-feira, 14 de agosto de 2008

If only I could freeze time...

Damn, I haven't blogged in ages... Although I have the whole days to do what the fuck I want, I always come up with shit to fill that free time up to the very bottom. Most of the time is spent between my book, which is finally on tracks (for you to get the picture, it took me 2 years to write the first 80 pages, but after a month and a half of intensive writing I'm already at 180, and I want to reach 250 till September 15th), and playing games that have been on my list for what seems like ages. I'm specially concentrated on RPGs since they're the most time-consuming, and after beating Lunar 1 and 2 I'm currently busy with Final Fantasy VII (yup, I'm just playing it now...).

In between I've been enjoying some movies and anime series. I took a trip to the past by watching some old Disney movies again and I just discovered the HUGE impact Tarzan had on me. I loved all the Disney movies I saw when I was a kid, but Tarzan is the only one I have in both VHS and DVD, have the PC and PSX version of the game and the movie's soundtrack, which is freaking awesome! Believe it or not, I always get the shivers when I listen to this:

Original English verion here.

On anime, just started watching Death Note after hearing the best things about it and, wow, what can I say, it's just as good as everyone says! Unlike most anime, the story is always developing, there's no filler, every minute something awesome happens and when you know it 20 minutes have passed and the episode already ended, but you still need to see more of it, and so you end up like me watching 10 whole episodes in a single day! Story-wise it's about a kid who finds a notebook called a Death Note where you can write the name of someone and that person will die. It's obviously more complicated than that, so I'll leave it for you to find the rest, but trust me, everyone should check this out, anime fan or not. Give it a shot:

Now, on to other things, I feel a little guilty for not having posted this sooner, but, as we say in Portugal, better late than never (don't know if you have that saying or a similar one in English-speaking countries). In case you haven't noticed, DETRIX, the man-god who's responsible for both Gnome's and Father Krishna's artistic depictions, just made this! Oh. My. Effing. Gawd! I would recommend everyone to check out his most awesome of blogs, but since I think that everyone does that already, meh, I'll say it anyway. Go here. Now!

About game related things, last week I received a Dreamcast VGA box from Racketboy and let me tell you, that shit be tight! I have half a post already written about it for the Dreamcast Junkyard, so I'll tell you more about it later.

About music, which is, I think, the last thing I talk about on my blog, I've been listening to In Flame's last cd, A Sense of Purpose, and it's pretty good, although at first it didn't have the same impact as the previous album, Come Clarity, which started right off with the amazing song Take This Life (no, it's not emo). That one is in Guitar Hero 3, by the way. Anyway, A Sense of Purpose, although not having much of an initial impact, only shows its true worth when we reach track number 8 and find In Flame's longest track to date, an 8-minute epic that goes by the name of The Chosen Pessimist. Do yourself a favour and check this out (it's not too heavy, I promise):

quarta-feira, 23 de julho de 2008

Summer update

Yup, it's just like the Xbox Live Spring and Fall updates xD Now, seriously, I've been sort of neglecting this blog for some time now, with only sporadic posts, but now I'm back with, hopefully, good stuff to talk about. It actually feels good to be here, I really need a place to write now that I've sort of given up on another site. Anyway, I realized that I've kept you in the dark for a long time regarding the last games I played, so here's what kept me entertained in the last few weeks (no i'm not going to talk about MGS4 because you all already know how awesome it is):

Halo 3

The only reason why this hype-beyond-all-reason game was not a total disappointment was because I already knew what to expect, and yes, my opinion stays the same, it's just an average FPS. The graphics, although not bad by any means, are just average when compared to other FPS of its time and gameplay-wise its just the same thing all over again. Not that I was expecting a revolution, or something, but, damn, why do I have to feel like I'm playing Halo 1 and 2 again instead of the sequel they promised me? Another thing is the repetition of events. You shoot aliens, you shoot flood, from time to time you arrive in an open space where you fight with vehicles, it' been the same for years now! Oh, and scenarios? Guess what. You have forests, alien bases and snow like in Halo 1 and desert like in Halo 2. OMFG, it's original beyond measure! Couldn't they throw at least a new theme for a change? The jungle theme doesn't count, it ends too quickly... And guess how the game ends? With a fucking Warthog getaway, just like in Halo 1. Yeah, I'm also thinking what the fuck was Bungie doing all this time to just recycle the previous games instead of making a true sequel. At least it's not boring (for the most time)...

Assassin's Creed

Another pretty hyped game, specially because of producer Jade Raymond (don't look, funnyman, or you might need a cold shower), but this one actually delivered, although both the press and gamers, who apparently were expecting a perfect game, were turned off by just a couple of flaws. Ok, maybe I just like it because I'm interested in the theme of the Middle Ages and its detailed, living an breathing cities are a perfect research source for a book I'm writing, but still, one can't deny the pretty original gameplay and the just superb graphics. Everything is both huge and detailed, and it's stunning to see the game in motion. Recommended for anyone who likes the theme.

The Orange Box

Or better, Hal-Life 2, Episode 1 and Episode 2, since those are the ones I'm actually playing. Portal, as great as it is, once you beat it there's not much left, and I already beat it on my PC, and Team Fortress 2 lacks bots for off-line play, for all of us poor bastards without Xbox Live Gold. I actually just got this game because of Episode 2, but I decided to play the original game and Episode 1 again to better follow the story, and what can I tell? HL 2, despite being more than 3 years old now, is still great and even graphic-wise is not the worst looking game, or FPS, I've seen on the 360 (that title goes to Far Cry, great game with a suck ass presentation). When it comes to gameplay this game is the exact opposite of Halo 3, you never spend more than 5 minutes doing the same thing and just when you start to get tired of a certain section, some twist comes in and you find yourself doing something completely different. Of course it always involves shooting and a little puzzle-solving here and there, but this game really pushes the limits of how many different things and situations you can have in a single game, and the Episodes, that are sort of expansions, do this even better. Also, the interaction between our character and our allies is like nothing I've seen before (only surpassed by the All ghillied up mission in CoD 4), and story-wise, the end of Episode 2 is the most emotional virtual moment I experienced since MGS4. Yes, it's that good. Recommended for anyone looking for a good FPS that's more than just running and gunning.

quinta-feira, 10 de julho de 2008

Up The Fucking Irons!!! \m/

Oh. My. Fucking. God... 09/07/2008, I was there...

..to see the best fucking band on the planet! It was so fucking awesome that I needed almost a week to put myself together, process everything that happened, and write this post about it. Here's what happened...

Before the show my day wasn't going too well. I had just missed the train and the next one would only arrive 2 hours later. Damn... That meant that I would miss the previous shows. Not much of a problem since I'm not a fan of Avenged Sevenfold and my favourite Slayer song wasn't included on the set-list (it's Eyes of the Insane, btw), but any further delays could prevent me from arriving on time. After embarking on the train shit continued to happen. The train ahead of us had a mechanical problem and we were stuck for half an hour before it was solved. Fuck dammit...

When I finally arrived in Lisbon I quickly took a cab and arrived at the place one hour before the start of the show. That was a close call... After grabbing a beer I enjoyed the rest of Slayer's performance (pretty cool) and when it was over I finally tried to locate the only two people I knew who where there (I later discovered that Profeth was also there, but he forgot his fucking phone, so I had no way to contact him...). Ok, I only knew them from chatting with them on the web, it was the first time I met with them personally, but you can't go wrong with fans of both metal and games.

Mochito and dxvolt, you guys are the best. Too bad we were together for such a short time (damn trains!), but, anyway, such a show is always best enjoyed in good company, so thank you both for providing that. Eventually we started to hear "doctor doctor", the UFO song (they're cited as being a big influence of Steve Harris), so we knew the show was about to start. We were already getting somewhat impatient (although the band arrived only 10 minutes late, nothing compared to other bands who make us wait one hour. Yeah, it happened to me once...), but then we begin to hear Churchill's speech (yeah, the WWII one), and then comes Aces High. OMFG...

What followed was just so fucking incredible... The musicians' performances were just superb, the pyrotecnics were on par with what Rammstein use on their gigs (which is saying alot!), the stage was perfectly decorated, with nice details like sarcophagi with bright red eyes glowing in the dark and great backgrounds (I think the background of Rime of the Ancient Mariner had actual pieces of cloth acting as sails instead of just a picture) and Bruce's costumes were as good as ever. Oh, and Eddie also made an appearance, twice! First as a big ass mummy and then as an android. Really, we couldn't have asked better. I've seen a lot of Iron Maiden concerts on DVD and this was without doubt one of their best, not just because it was the first I attended, but because they really gave it all to make it a memorable night.

When it ended the only way we could express our sheer joy was through a group hug between me, dxvolt, mochito and...fabio, I think? Sorry, didn't catch your name :/ What a great show, what an awesome experience, it was one of those things that only happen once in a life-time...and I was there! Fuck yeah! :D

PS - Dxvolt, thanks for everything, man, really. For the food, the drink and the ride home. I really appreciated it, remember me to buy you a beer when we meet again ;)

quinta-feira, 3 de julho de 2008

MGA: Metal Gear Awesome!

Words are simply insufficient to describe the colossal sense of WIN which this game engenders in fans of the MGS saga, therefore the only useful response is a visual representation of said fans' reactions:

FUCKING WIN!!! This shit is awesome! It is made of WIN and GOD! (and yes, that's me in the photo)

Yeah, I know I've used the sentence above more than a couple of times already, but really, it couldn't describe MGS4 more properly. This game is the shit! This is next-gen! The current generation is filled with great games, that's undeniable (unlike what some people say...), but lets be honest, despite prettier graphics most of them don't really feel like their the next generation of games, bur rather the same old games with just new make-up. This game, on the contrary, is next-gen in everything it does, and it would be simple impossible to do without the modern hardware.

Yes, this is so far the pinnacle of HD gaming, and is more than enough reason to buy a PS3 just for it. No, I'm not insane, I just fucking love the game! The graphics are just "OMG awesome". The animations? Even better. Gameplay? Just fantastic, still fresh even after 4 games and polished up to near perfection. Sound? Unbelievably good. And story? The story is the best damn part! We get to see practically every character from the series again (except the dead ones, obviously) and finally we have answers for the questions that tormented us for so much time! What happened to Olga's daughter? Why the fuck is Vamp apparently immortal? And why the hell does Snake look older than my granpa? Patience, young padawan, for all this will be answered in this most excellent of sequels.

So, what the hell are you doing here reading this? Go play the damn game. Now!

Just for the record, I'm not finished yet, I just reached Act 3, so be careful with spoilers when commenting, ok? :)

segunda-feira, 30 de junho de 2008

Great Frollicking Llamas!

My dear friends, I've finally entered the HD era with this:

Excuse me for the horrible quality of the picture, but if you look beyond that you'll see a magnificent Samsung 37" 1080p HDTV, connected to a pair of nice Logitech speakers (the subwoofer is hidden under the table). Fucking awesome, isn't it? And it gets even better! If you look closely enough you'll see that the game in display is none other than MGS4! Fuck yeah! That's right, I also got this beauty:

(yes, that's a Dreamcast in the upper right corner, I'm planning on getting a VGA adaptor for it)

I'm playing Metal Gear Awesome 4 right now and so far it's being the damn best next-gen experience I had since, probably, Oblivion. So, pardon me for not writing more, but hey, I have a HDTV and a PS3 with MGS4 waiting, so I think you'll understand why I'm not really feeling like staying here staring at the monitor. Bye all!

And fredy, what did you tell me about not getting MGS4 anytime soon? Booya, in your face! Haha!
Joking man, you got to pass by my place sometime soon to check this out ;)

segunda-feira, 16 de junho de 2008

Go berserk!

One of my favourite hidden gems for the Dreamcast is Sword of the Berserk, an hack 'n' slash action game (probably one of my favourite genres) based on the manga Berserk. Unfortunately my copy of the game was in bad condition and it would always freeze near the end and I sort of just forgot about the game. Until recently, that is, when Father K enthusiastically wrote about it over at the DCJY, giving me just what I needed to track down a working copy and finally finish the game. Unfortunately the game is aimed primarily at fans of the manga, and while it's still enjoyable just by itself, you're missing a whole lot if you don't know the setting and the characters.

The creators of the game were kindly enough to give you a sort of in-game encyclopaedia about the background of the series, but it's still not enough. You know nothing about Guts' past, how he lost his left arm and his right eye, why he travels around with Caska and what the fuck happened to that girl to make her loose her mind. That's why I just recently started watching the anime, although I will eventually have to read the manga too since the anime doesn't cover the whole story. Anyway, for all the fans of the game (or just anime in general) this is a must see. It's action-packed, full of violence and it tells Guts' story in great detail, and it's indeed a story worth telling. Also, this might come as a shock to all those who've only played the Dreamcast game, but Caska originally was a fierce warrior just a little weaker than Guts himself and she hated him so much... What the fuck happened to her since that and how the two got together I still don't know, but that's enough to make me want to watch the anime to the end and read the manga after that.

Here's the first episode for your viewing pleasure. Shitty quality, but enough to get an idea.

So, fans of Sword of the Berserk, watch the anime (just entitled Berserk), because the game is only half as fun when you don't know the story behind it. Also, there's a rather obscure PS2 Berserk game that supposedly is even better than the Dreamcast one. Got to check that one out in the future...

sábado, 7 de junho de 2008

You know you're influential when...

I was just browsing the wonderful Racketboy forum when suddenly I saw this. Yup, that's exactly what it looks like, that guy is using a quote from one of my posts as his signature. OMFG! First I was given the rank of moderator over at the PTGamers forum and now this. I'm getting quite popular on the internets, ain't I? :D

Edit: guess I have a new fan :)

domingo, 1 de junho de 2008

Blasted Mechanism - I Believe

Yesterday I was browsing through some old backup cd's I burned whenever I formatted my pc's hard drive when I found some examples of the music I was listening to back then. It was somewhat of a shock to find much "lighter" music than what I listen to nowadays, but as a statement to my musical taste, every single one of those songs are still as good today as they were back then and I still like them the same. This one if from another Portuguese act, Blasted Mechanism. I don't really know how famous they are in the rest of the world, so in case you've never heard of them, they have a really unique style that it's rather hard to define, something like alternative rock with a very tribal theme. The song in question is from the 2003 album Namaste and features a pretty cool video with lots of gaming references. Hope you like it, and if you do, there should be plenty more videos on youtube.

"I believe in the power of people,
I believe in destiny,
I believe in evolution,
I believe in what I see"

sexta-feira, 30 de maio de 2008

Clash of the Titans - Round 2

Remember this? After that most awesome of matches (despite the horrible lag), a rematch was bound to happen sooner or later, and yesterday was the day. After a previous a agreement on the day and time (you know, because we're busy people, we're not online 24/7), there I was, logging into Xbox Live at about 2:00 in the afternoon. Father K was online, but when I saw that he was playing Halo 3 I figured that it should be one of the gingers. No problem, it gave me some time to train my moves. Father would come shortly after, and when he did we started playing right away. Guess what, the first round was mine! Hehe, guess that training really did the difference. We were still pretty balanced, though, and overall Father probably won a couple more matches than I did. He was a bit cheap at times, though... (sorry Father, but I had to say this, those successions of punches should be prohibited xD).

Anyway, this was not a matter of winning or losing, but a moment of leisure between two friends separated by lots of land and even ocean. There was absolutely no lag this time, so not only we could play without that handicap, but we were also able to have a proper conversation! It was like talking on the phone, really, but while playing at the same time, and it was great. Now that I think of it, we really talked a lot (it was my strategy to distract Father and kick his ass xD), from games, to the origins of our respective nicknames and pretty much everything we could think of while still throwing virtual kicks and punches.

Also, it was not just a thing between us, for we eventually dragged our families into it. My mum passed by to say "hello" and the littlest ginger, Ted, even played with me, although he was at a disadvantage for not being used to play as Kage. By the way, funny how we pronounce that name differently, Father says Kage as in "cage" while I pronounce it "Kágê", like the Japanese do (by the way, "kage" means "shadow", appropriate name for a ninja). It's just a curiosity, since we were able to understand each other just fine for most of the time, although I would sometimes get too excited and speak so fast that even I wouldn't understand what the fuck I just said, lol.

By the way, this time we saved a lot of replays to show you guys, but unfortunately my cell phone's camera couldn't keep up with the game's speed and this was the best I could get. Maybe Father will have more luck with his high-tech phone.

Also, when you think about it, technology really is amazing. 10 years ago we were playing VF1 and 2 alone in our homes, without having the slightest hint that the other one existed and that we would someday meet on the web and play VF5 together. Fucking amazing, isn't it?