Shamoozal Radio #05

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It’s time for Shamoozal Radio #05, and we hope you’re ready for nearly an hour and a half of news, banter, trivia, and everything else we managed to cram into the show. We kick off with our Shamoozal News segment and learn a bit more about the Nerdlog straight from the horses mouth, and also read some “feed back” from Ninja, along with a few hints at the next Shamoozal cartoon and even an announcement for the return of another Shamoozal series.

Then the crew looks back at the last game console generation and picks out their favorites, along with some listener feedback. After that, tune those ears in for our 8-Bit Music Trivia segment hosted by yours truly. If you grew up in the era, you’ll be sure to enjoy it, as I promise nothing but pure NES nostalgia.

After that, it’s pretty much on as we go through some “Nerd News” and rant and rave about our own personal “Whore Daddies” for this edition of the podcast.

Choose to download it directly, or subscribe using iTunes with the links below.

Hope you enjoy.

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FEATURE: GamingFM Internet Radio

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GamingFM may not be the only Internet Radio station to broadcast Game Music, but they’re certainly my favorite. They’ve got an amazing selection of songs and a user-friendly web site that allows you to make requests and keep track of your favorite songs. If you listened to Episode 5 of the Podcast, then you already know that it’s already become a bit of a ‘phenom’ amongst the Shamoozal crew. By having 3-4 of us logged in making requests we’ve been able to pull off some excellent ‘Workforce Blocks’ featuring the music of Ikaruga, Metal Gear Solid and plenty of others.

The station was founded a few years ago by some former editors of Electronics Gaming Monthly and features 4 channels of music to choose from. Theres classic console which includes the NES, SNES, Sega Master System, Genesis and others. Then theres Modern Console, made up of Playstation 1 and 2, Xbox, Dreamcast and the Saturn. Total PC, is just that… all PC game music. My favorite as you may be able to tell from the photo above, is Complete Selection. It’s a taste of everything and gives you the most choices when you’re setting up your requests. Good times.

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I listen to a lot of Internet Radio, in fact it’s pretty much become my main source for music these days. A lot of stations out there suffer from server downtime and choppy playback loaded with buffer problems, but GamingFM always seems to play smooth as can be. The only complaint I have with GamingFM is that there seems to be a LOT of Streets of Rage music on there, and it really sucks hard. I hear so many songs from that damn game on there, and no one is requesting it. Also, some of the 8-bit music is pretty terrible. There’s more good then bad, but every now and then you’ll get one that makes it feel like someone is nailing your temples with a ball-pein hammer.

So if you’re feeling the need for a game music fix, head over to GamingFM, create an account (free) and start requesting away. You can even have an 8-bit music trivia game of your own with your nerdy friends in the IRC room. HF GL! GFG! /lol

www.gamingfm.com

N64 vs. WCW/WWF

What Up Mach?

I’m a big fan of the Nintendo 64 professional wrestling games. It helped that I was really into actual professional wrestling at the time and it’s almost embarrassing to say I still watch it today….. every week, many times a week. Anyway this post isn’t about wrestling on TV; it’s about the N64 games that I spent many a day playing with friends when I was younger and even today. I guess it all started for me with WCW vs. NWO World Tour.

World Tour

It came out in 1997 and was put out by THQ. Asmik Ace and AKI produced the game. The grappling system and easy, basic controls were what made it enjoyable for gamers (which were probably mostly wrestling fans like myself). It didn’t have many “extras” besides just the usual single, tag team, and battle royal matches. The game was big into the whole NWO angle that was airing on TV at the time. So you had your usual WCW wrestlers and then the bad guy NWO wrestlers. They even threw in some Japanese guys to spice things up a bit. Usually if you picked one of those guys, it was because you liked to laugh at them. Who seriously wants to play as Sumo Jo or Kim Chee? It was a fun game but it was only in the beginning stages of evolution.

Revenge

WCW/NWO Revenge was released in 1998 as a sequel of sorts to World Tour. This is probably my favorite of all the N64 wrestling titles. It was the first game to feature a battle royal where eliminations were caused by knocking a wrestler out of the ring. The 4-player mode I still play to this day, almost 10 years later. Once you are eliminated you can keep coming back as different wrestlers usually in a random order which makes it fun to see who’s gonna come running out. It might even be better now 10 years later because you get to see all the old school wrestlers from back in the day. Basically its good for laughs. Like if someone comes out as Eric Bischoff, Dake Ken, or Brickowski then you just make fun of them and throw them right out of the ring. It would be the ultimate insult if someone won the match as one of these jabronies.
The game also had unique finishers, big entrances, valets/managers, a cartoon referee, and all kinds of new moves. But unfortunately it was the last of the series for WCW because THQ went to work with the WWF.

Wrestlemania 2000No Mercy

WWF Wrestlemania 2000 followed in 1999 and WWF No Mercy in 2000. They were basically the same games as the WCW ones with the usual adjustments here and there. The major one was Create-A-Wrestler Mode with all kinds of specifications in order to make wrestlers not originally in the game, celebrities, random people you know, or even YOU! Everyone probably tried creating themselves and winning the World Title, I know I did. I think I won all the titles as myself, just picture that in real wrestling…. One guy coming out to the ring with every title possible. It would never happen. The one major disappointment with the WWF games is that they did away with all the Japanese guys so there was no longer anyone to laugh at…. Unless you unlocked JR or Michael Cole and had to be them in the Rumble. That’s always funny.

Rock Bottom3D

Unfortunately that was the end of the professional wrestling games for N64. The GameCube, PS2, and Xbox games were never the same. They didn’t bring the same fun and excitement simply because they did away with the 40 man battle royal where you could keep coming back as different wrestlers. Even the controls and grappling were a little different from time to time. Here’s to hoping the new one announced for the Wii will bring it back. I’ll have to start a petition or something.

Who the hell am I kidding? I’m gonna buy it regardless.

HOGAN

N64 vs. WCW/WWF (Part 2, the Sequel no one was waiting for!)

Dir En Grey

Dir En Grey

Last night I took my wife to see the J-Rock band Dir En Grey. I really had zero interest to see these guys perform live, but she has loved the band for years so I bought her tickets to the show. Come to think of it, one of the first times she invited me to her apartment (before we were dating) she forced me to sit through a DVD of these dudes. Needless to say, I was kind of weirded out. I was convinced that some of them were women, and their music just wasn’t doing anything for me.

I guess since they conquered Japan, they’re branching out and trying to make something of their selves here in the states. When I first heard of this news, I laughed. The only way they would be taken seriously is if they had an image change, and thankfully they did. Instead of a bunch of men in drag entering the stage, a hodgepodge of grunge left overs and metro sexuals emerged from the smoke. They don’t quite have a look down pat yet, but at least they made strides trying to look like a crew of guys who just want to rock out and thrash skulls.

And rock out they did. I have to say, I was thoroughly entertained by their performance. They played some seriously fast and hard tunes, and the two guitarists shredded like nobodies business. Unfortunately, only the bassist and lead singer were the only two of the band to act like total morons, thrashing around, head banging, and rolling around on the ground. The two guitarists just kind of kept to themselves, and the drummer drummed away, but he never called for attention.

While I wasn’t blown away by the lead singer’s vocals, he put on a pretty good performance acting like a complete tool. The singer is this really small runty guy, so tiny he has a patented box that rests in the front of the stage that he needs to perch himself upon in order for the crowd to see him. When he’s not standing on the box, he’s either humping the box, hugging the box, throwing the box, pushing the box, or has one foot on the box. He rolled around like he was on fire a bunch of times, and eventually jumped on top of the box and sliced his chest open so he could bleed every where. At first I thought maybe it was a fake, but he raked that blade over the same spot a few times before he finally struck oil. Over all, he was a good front man.

When it was all said and done, I’m not so sure it made me a fan of their music, but I’m willing to try out one of the CDs I bought for my wife over the last few years. It’s worth noting that I liked them more than just about all the garbage I hear on the radio these days.

More info on Dir En Grey:
http://www.myspace.com/officialdirengrey
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dir_en_grey
http://www.direngrey.co.jp/ (official site)

Gamecube Underdogs

There were many people who skipped out on the Gamecube last console generation. What those people missed is obvious, hits like Wind Waker, Mario Sunshine, Resident Evil 4, and the masterpiece that is Metroid Prime. Gamecube owners most likely played those games, but they probably also ignored countless other titles.


I’m not sure why these games were ignored, maybe it was bad press, maybe they just looked unappealing, or maybe it was just bad timing. Whatever the case, the following 5 games must be given a fair chance by one and all. Don’t forget, they work on that shiny new Wii you have as well.

Chibi-Robo
There’s a word for Chibi-Robo, and that word is ‘charming.’ Loosely translated to Little Robot, Chibi-Robo was probably the last great Gamecube game that came out. You play as a robot-maid named Chibi-Robo. What starts out as a quest to pick up trash and old potato chips, eventually turns into a story about picking up the pieces of a failed marriage.

What people haven’t told you is that the game is essentially designed like a Metroid title. You’re confined to one room, and slowly but surely open up an entire house. There are loads of little crazy secrets, and tons of cool trinkets to collect. I can guarantee that this is the only game where you find a toothbrush that acts as a mop.

Chibi himself steals the show, with quirky animation, and nifty sound effects. Every time Chibi does something, it emits a sort of musical chime, and it all adds to the games charm. When he runs, it harkens back to the original Donkey Kong, where every time Mario stepped it made a sound. It doesn’t have the best graphics, but it’s got the biggest heart.

Chibi

Beach Spikers
I picked this up a few years ago at Best Buy for $10. I was looking for some cheap thrills and hot girls. What I got was a ridiculously fun game, and a bunch of butch manly women. Seriously, these girls could kick any man’s ass. These are not the double bouncer girly girls of DOA Beach Volleyball. They will hurt you, and they do scream like barbarians.

Sega’s AM2 team put together an amazingly addictive and fun game here. It’s got some really tight controls, and furiously fun multiplayer. It’s easy to pick up, meaning it’s a great game for people who don’t normally play games, and it has some depth for the players who really dig it. It’s one of the few games my wife and I play together, so bonus points right there.

Beach Spikers

Ikaruga
This game was created just to piss people off. It’s so flipping hard, yet so damn cool. Ikaruga practically resurrected the dying shooter genre (think Gradius or the old Raiden arcade games) with its bullet absorbing game play.

While the concept of switching colors to fight the opposite color isn’t anything new (Treasure did it before in Silhouette Mirage, which wasn’t so hot) it hasn’t been applied to this particular genre before. While not a technical showpiece, it’s graphically rich, with trance inducing streams of bullets flooding the screen. But there is method to the madness, and that is what keeps players coming back for more. If you think it’s a challenge with one player, wait until you try it with another, it’s a whole new ball game.

It’s short and sweet, but if you’re like me, you’ll keep playing and playing.

Ikaruga

Pacman VS
We won’t get into the connectivity debate here, but lets say that Pacman VS is a little gem that was over looked because of it’s premise. What we have here is regular old Pacman, but with an awesome twist. Get four people together, three controllers and a GBA SP, oh yeah and one of those GBA to Gamecube cables (believe it or not, I have 3 of those things) and then the fun begins. Someone randomly plays as Pacman, and the other players are the ghosts. The person controlling Pacman does so on the GBA, while the ghost try to catch him on the TV screen. Once someone catches Pacman, they swap controllers and that player becomes Pacman. Whoever gets to the preset score first wins. Sound stupid? It isn’t, and you have no idea what you’re missing out on.

This one might be a little hard to come by as it was given away as a preorder incentive for those that bought certain Namco games the year it came out. It was later bundled with Pacman World 2 for 20 bucks. Or was Pacman World 2 bundled with it? Food for thought my friend.

Pacman VS

Pikmin 2
The most main stream of all the games listed here, which was almost why it didn’t make the list. However, I know for a fact that you haven’t played Pikmin 2, and that folks, is why it made the list.

The truth is, I almost didn’t play Pikmin 2 either. When the game came out, I felt that I already had my fill of Pikmin with the original game (which I love, by the way). My Dad however, is a huge Pikmin fan, so I decided it would be a great birthday gift for him. That’s when I realized that Pikmin 2 wasn’t just a good sequel, but an amazing follow up, and a quintessential game that all Gamecube owners should have.

It’s obvious this is the game Nintendo wanted to make when they brain stormed the original Pikmin, but they simply didn’t have the time required to fine tune it. Enter Pikmin 2, a game superior to the original in every way. They got rid of the bad (the time system), and improved on every aspect of the original. The game features ingenious stage design, and highly addictive gameplay, and that is really all that matters here. The best part of the whole Pikmin 2 experience? Right when you think you beat the game, you’re actually only half way through.

 

Pikmin 2

The best part about all these games is that you can get them on the cheap. I’ve seen Chibi-Robo for as low as $10 some places, and on eBay I’ve seen the Pacman bundle for as low as a dollar. The only one that could potentially set you back is Ikaruga. You know, it’s one of those “rare” games that fan boys have somehow managed to create some crazy false value around, but I’ve seen it for about $20 several times. I wager you could probably get this whole set for the price of a 360 game.

Now go on, get hunting!



DVD Releases for February 6th

If you’re a regular Smorgas Board member then you know I start a lot of threads that are able to be continued week to week or sometimes even day to day. One of them is the Tuesday Weekly DVD Releases. If you haven’t noticed, all new DVDs are released on Tuesdays in stores like Best Buy, Circuit City, etc. Since I’m an avid collector of DVDs (not so much since buying a house, but still….) with a collection of about 450+, I always check out the new stuff weekly. Here’s what we have for Tuesday, February 6th 2007. I posted a picture of some of the major releases and then the rest are below them.

Flags of our FathersFlickaThe Grudge 2Hollywoodland
Running with ScissorsThe Science of SleepTrust the Man

Also coming out today is the Hellboy animated movie called Sword of Storms, the Romeo and Juliet: Music Edition (no idea what that means), Eddie Murphy’s old school stand up special called Delirious, Cinderella III (whaaaaaat?!), Baywatch Season 3, Mad About You Season 3 and Charmed Season 7.

If I had to choose one to buy, I would go with Flags of our Fathers because Clint Eastwood makes some damn fine films but I never got around to seeing it in theaters so I don’t know how it is. But it was nominated for a few awards. I also heard Hollywoodland was decent and The Science of Sleep is from the dude that did Eternal Sunshine and it’s got that same weird vibe to it so it could be good.

Anyway, that’s about it for this week. If I don’t have anything else worth talking about then I’ll be back on the Nerdlog next Tuesday with more new releases. Remember to check out the Smorgas Board if you haven’t already. I’m on there with all the other members for hours a day posting useless crap like this….. I mean posting some great material to chat about.

Every time I think I’m out… or, WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW!?

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Okay, so I guess it’s time to fess up and come clean. I bought The Burning Crusade… like a week ago… online and downloaded it directly from Blizzard. Lazy? Possibly, but that’s not the reason I bought it online. I had the game in my hand literally 10 times since it came out, and every time I managed to put it down and walk away. I even reactivated my account to test myself and see how uninterested I was in playing again. Initially it worked.

This game is friggin’ boring“, I told myself. Case closed.

Then, one night without warning Blizzard’s newly announced online upgrade service crit my wallet for $40. Online purchase really are the worst kind of impulse buy ever devised in our lifetime. “If the only thing I did was click a button, and there’s no box in my hands, did I make a purchase?” That’s what I keep telling myself anyway. I’m not sure that my wife would agree.

After a couple hours of watching TV while the upgrade downloaded and installed, I sat down to a brand new log-in screen and started making the biggest mistake of my life… again. I am a weak man, I will be the first to admit it. Hypocrite? Sure, I busted many a balls of my cohorts who played the game after I ‘quit’ (sorry Jim, no hard feelings… lol?).

Apologies aside, the things you’ve read about this expansion totally revitalizing the game are absolutely true. I immediately started a Blood Elf Mage (this being the only class I never really explored) and started out on a lowbie journey that had all the excitement and wonder of the first night I ever logged into the world of Azeroth. The quests were new, the landscape was different and despite what you may think about Blood Elves , their racial abilities are pretty damn cool (albeit overpowered, soon to be nerfed). I’ve spent many hours already exploring the Blood Elf’s home lands and I can safely say that I’ll be playing this character all the way to 70 (currently 14).

I didn’t really get a long look at the Drenai (the other new race), but I took my Alliance level 60 for a run through their city and found it to be very new age and serene. Lots of crystals and music that sounds vaguely like Tangerine Dream.

But the biggest part of The Burning Crusade is without a doubt, The Outlands. Blizzard has added an entire new continent to the world accessible through the Dark Portal chock full of quests, dungeons and PvP for the 60+ crowd. Never having had the time to become a serious Raider, I pretty much shelved my Level 60 Alliance Druid the shortly after I hit 60 and started over on the Horde side. Now I finally have an excuse to dust this guy off and start kicking ass with a high-level character again.

So far the quests in The Outlands have been the standard fare, kill x of these guys, kill those guys and collect x of those, etc. However, the new world is absolutely amazing in it’s scale and immediately makes you feel like you’ve stepped onto the front lines of a total shit storm. Plus, from what I can tell, the quest rewards for this new area seem to rival what was once considered ‘decent’ gear that required running through the same dungeon 50 times.

The hardest part now is deciding if I want to play my Blood Elf, or level my Druid up to 70. Ah, the decisions we must make as adults… Anyway, I realize I just totally nerded out for a few paragraphs there, but what the hell… it’s the Nerdlog. If I can’t do it here, where can I do it?

I’m an addict, there is no getting around it. I’ll try and be better this time around, getting to sleep by 1 on work nights (not happening tonight), keeping my marriage and daughter a priority, and I promise not to speak about WoW in any social situations… because I know how goddamn ridiculous it sounds at parties.

The pain in my back.

If there’s something I hate, it’s my back. I have a tendency to throw it out of whack every now and again, and every time I do I’m generally in bad shape for weeks. It’s always the same place. You know that lump beneath your neck (ahem…that would be called the 7th cervical, but who’s counting)? Well, right below that and the shoulder blade is my sweet spot for pain.

This is the face of back pain.
This is my face whenever I pull my back.

I think it’s this area because I used to slave away as a food server for years. I used to carry trays brimming with some of the nastiest foods available to mankind to make a living. I was really good at it. I could balance forty pound trays loaded with flesh searing skillets on my fingertips…sometimes even a second one in my other hand! Damn I’m good! Lo, it’s probably also how my back turned into such a mess.

The thing that slays me every time is that I’m generally not doing anything that would warrant a thrown back. I’m clearly incapable of playing sports as I’m the only person in the world who has broken his collar bone playing waffle ball in the street.

I wish I was making that up.

No, I’m not throwing the good old pigskin around when I throw my back out. It generally happens when I’m, oh say, bending down to tie my shoe. It happened once when I was turning around to hit a light switch on the wall. Obviously, these are not events where one would expect to loose the ability to look over their left shoulder for a week.

This time, I was simply getting into the shower. And before Jim jumps to any conclusions, no there was no funny business involved…I was half asleep as I just woke up. I stepped in, didn’t turn the water on yet, and WHOOP there went my back. I tried to pretend it didn’t happen. I was in denial. However, it DID happen, and now I have to slug away Advil Liquid Gels and hang out with a heating pad while I watch “24”.

Thankfully, it’s been happening less and less, and with not as much severity. Maybe it’s because I don’t work in the restaurant biz any more. Now, I get to work in a far less physically stressing career in front of a computer. Now, all I have to worry about is carpal tunnel syndrome and my elbow feeling like its on fire all day, and recently there’s been a strange tingly feeling in my legs from sitting on my ass for 12 hours a day.

I should just be like Jacquo and sleep in the street. But then, I guess I’d have to worry about my teeth falling out and people pissing on what serves as my bed behind a dumpster.