Happy New Year – Thoughts and Resolutions


Another year in Shamoozal history is down in the books. I think we had a fairly decent year all things considered, and having reread my thoughts from a year ago, I think we had a more fulfilling year for the site. Maybe I shouldn’t say the “site” but the brand.

Lately I’ve been thinking about Shamoozal as more of a brand and not a website. I spent a lot of time asking myself this year what Shamoozal is. Are we a website? A blog? Animation group? What are we? We were founded on the idea of cartoons, and the series of cartoons were called “Shamoozal” but the name has now transcended the cartoons and we’ve branched out to so many different areas. So what is Shamoozal? I think I came up with a good answer in our About Us page I typed up a few months back; we’re Shamoozal, and we make cartoons.

So we make cartoons, what exactly is everything else? It’s for the people that really like those cartoons, for the people that want to know more about the group that makes it tick. So the Nerdlog is here to show our interests and for us to present whatever we’d like to talk about, while the podcast acts as a way for us to be more personal with our audience, and of course our forums are here so we can all interact with each other. All of these things come together to support our cause, which is making cartoons. Though that sort of brings us to another point… where are the cartoons?

I’m tired of making excuses and by this point people know the drill, they’re done when they’re done. Shamoozal is a labor of love so things come as they happen. Rereading my ’09 thoughts, the only cartoon we had to show was “How to Hook up the NES.” I’m glad that this year I can say that I’ve brought five different shorts (though I’m cheating a bit with that fifth one). Sure, combined they are the length of NES, but I’m glad that for close to half a year I was able to bring you guys monthly shorts. I had never done that before since launching the site, so for me personally it was pretty fulfilling. I’m of course talking about Read Only Memory, which were mainly created for the GoNintendo.com audience but that relationship helped full my desire to get this stuff done. I always worked better under pressure, and though Kevin over there never pressured me, I gave myself the monthly deadlines.

I’m sad that I couldn’t get Vol 2 wrapped up before the years end as I had planned. It really is a bummer but when my two girls were born my life was literally thrown upside down. I expected it to change everything, but not in the way that it had. However, things are turning around with their schedules and I fully expect to be back at work on Vol 2 in the near future. I’m part way through the first episode of the volume, though I haven’t touched it in months. I imagine I may actually start the episode over again from scratch. I still have what I think is a fun idea to tie the shorts together and I can’t wait to have Vol 2 ready to go.

After Vol 2, I’m taking a break from the video game shorts. I still have a really good GFGames idea that I’ve been kicking around for over a year now, but that new Frankensteiner is going to be the next big one. I don’t care if it takes me until the end of 2011, I’m getting that short done.

Aside from the shorts, I think we had another really good year of Shamoozal Radio. I said it last year and I’ll say it again, SRP is one of the best things we offer here. I really wish our download counts were higher than they are, or that our live stream audience was bigger. If you noticed I’ve been selecting a segment from recent episodes and putting them onto our YouTube page, I’m hoping this will help more people find SRP and listen to it. The numbers on those videos haven’t been great, but I don’t think they’re for nothing. Hopefully little efforts like this will at least spread some sort of awareness.

Anyway, I’m going on for too long now. 2010 will go down as a really stellar year for us. It started out with my trek to MAGFest, was interviewed on several different podcasts, we did some great SRP episodes, we produced a fair amount of shorts that even won them some acclaim on different sites, and refreshed our entire site by the end of the year. All told, I really can’t complain.

Also, a special shout out to JohnnyManf who has somehow single handedly kept the Nerdlog afloat with his movie updates. I always feel really bad when weeks go by without writing anything and there is John, the only one updating the Nerdlog. I’ll try to do at least one new post a week, even if it’s something as stupid as writing about Voldemort’s fingers. Though really, thanks to Frank, Steve, Joe and Jim as well for everything else they’ve contributed to making Shamoozal what it is. Every amount of effort from them always goes a long way.

So my resolutions for this place? Create ROM Vol. 2, Frankensteiner Amazing (we’ll call it that for now), keep doing great podcasts and hopefully find more ways to bring you guys fun and/or interesting content, and hopefully a once a week update on the Nerdlog from yours truly. I’m thinking those goals should be obtainable.

Thanks everyone for following us and supporting us. Have a great 2011!

Multi-touch woes.


Most of us have some sort of device, be it a phone or gaming system, in our pockets that relies on a touch based system of input instead of traditional, hard wired buttons. We are experiening a shift in how we interact with the technology around us. Now, clearly none of this is new. The Nintendo DS has had a touch screen since its release in 2004, and I remember seeing a demo for a product that looked very similar to Microsoft’s Surface several years ago where the concepts that we know today as “pinch to zoom” were first seen. A touch screen has opened up new user interface possibilities, however I have began to notice a slight draw back to them.

The thing is, most touch sensative devices today require some kind of “unlocking” gesture. Sliding your finger in a predetermined gesture will unlock the screen and allow you to actually use it. Sounds familiar? This keeps your phone from turning on and dialing people while you hold it against your cheek on a call. While this safeguard is essential to keeping your phone from doing its own thing by accident, it also adds a layer between you and your device. I’ll give you a real world example.

I’m one of the five people in the world who own a Zune. As I mentioned on the last podcast, my old one kicked the bucket and in a moment of weakness I broke down and bought a new 64GB Zune HD. This one sports a touch screen and a far more slick interface from the previous version. I am not a member of the Church of Apple, so let’s just get past this part of the conversation shall we? Thank you!

The old 80GB Zune had a touch sensetive surface that also served as a clickable directional button. It was built to work with the vertical nature of the Zune’s UI, and it did a pretty good job at it. To fast forward a song, even while the Zune was playing and the screen was sleeping, all I had to do was click the “squircle”. I could do this with my eyes closed. Considering the fact that I got the most use out of my Zune was while driving I did indeed do this alot without actually looking at the Zune. Again, as with most touchable devices, the Zune HD has an unlock screen that I have to drag my finger from top to bottom. Then, I have to touch the album cover displayed to pull up the volume and fast forward/rewind controls. In the past, all I had to do was reach down and click a physical button. With the new one, I have to go through two steps in order to do the same thing and I have to actually focus on the device itself. The tactile feedback from a physical button has been erased, and with it a certain degree of simplicity. The baby has been thrown out with the bath water.

Now as an important side note, the Zune HD does indeed have a physical button on the side one can press to pull up this same screen. However, it is recessed and it not easy to find without looking at it. Thus bringing us back to the problem at hand.

So that’s my current random thoughts on modern user interface design utilizing touch screens and the direction it is taking. Perhaps alot of my current problems with the Zune HD has to do with my unfamiliarity with it. Maybe over time, sheer use will teach my fingers where to touch the screen in order to pull the volume select or fast forward/rewind options.

Welcome to the new Nerdlog!


Ah, I had a post typed up for this before but it vanished! Sorry, you need to make due with the shortened version.

Anyway, so we have a new Nerdlog! Here is the major difference for people that frequent the site. We have once again opened comments on posts, but it is still not linked to the forum account. I tried to do everything I could to link WordPress and PHPBB, but nothing I tried worked! So I’m really sorry that we still need two accounts around here. That said, the “Discuss This” button linking to the forum was not working as statistics shown, so off with that idea. The good news is your old account for the Nerdlog (if you made one) should still work.

If you see any other issues, leave a comment here or on the forum and let us know. The forum is also still in the default PHPBB blue, I’ll be skinning that again soon since the last one appeared to have “broke” which doesn’t make any sense.

Thanks everyone, hope you like it and have a great New Year!

Movie Info of the Week (Dec 27-31 2010)


My DVD/Blu-Ray Pick
The American

The American – I am actually recommending a movie this week that I haven’t had a chance to see. When it came out in theaters back in early September it didn’t really make much of a splash. But it got some decent reviews and I am a fan of George Clooney. He plays an assassin who is taking it easy in the Italian countryside, where he falls for a local chick. But then he takes on a new job and has to handle that and the girl while still keeping his cover. It looked pretty interesting so I plan on seeing it eventually.

Box Office Results
Little Fockers

Little Fockers looked like garbage but the holiday weekend means lots of movie goers. It tore shit up at the box office bringing in close to $35 million and beating out the Coen Brothers western True Grit starring Jeff Bridges in the classic John Wayne role. Jack Black did not fare so well, coming in with a measly $7.2 million and a 7th place finish.

Also coming out in stores this week is Resident Evil: Afterlife and Twelve.

Nothing usually hits theaters over the New Years weekend but the Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams relationship drama Blue Valentine will be in limited theaters at the end of the year.

Shamoozal Radio Podcast #35 – It’s a Pure Sex Christmas


Just in time for Christmas it’s our annual Holiday Podcast! After a Zobek filled introduction, the crew talks about their favorite Christmas moments to get into the holiday spirit. Though there are probably more stories about my Dad than actual Christmas memories, sorry about that folks. Afterward we move onto our Shocker News segment with such amazing stories about a dude that made a pot Christmas tree, an Xbox thief, and a guy that got caught choking the chicken in the WalMart toy isle. We hit a bit of Shamoozal news and talk about the delay of the new Nerdlog, and the future of the shorts. Finally, a bunch of final thoughts from the crew, mostly Christmas related.

Also, big thanks to Joe on getting this done before Christmas. In addition to his recording, he works full time, goes to school part time, and is also a Dad, so he’s really busy these days. With that, enjoy the show.

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5 Biggest Gaming Letdowns of ’10 from ‘Whenever


Unlike the previous list in which I went over my five favorite games from 2010 that did not come out in 2010, this list is made up of anything I have played from this year. Regardless of this rule, only one game that I’ve played from 2010 made the list anyway, so whatever. Anyway, the following five games are in no particular order and they vary in quality. Some of them are outright awful, while others just managed to let me down mostly due to expectations. Some picks will probably make you angry, while others you might agree with. That said, let us begin our journey!

Tomena Sanner – WiiWare – Originally released 2010

You’ve probably never even heard of Tomena Sanner, and that’s actually an okay thing. Being billed as a “One Button” game, Sanner takes players through a wacky world of whatever the developers could think of. I was drawn to Sanner because I’m a fan of quirky Japanese titles and the price point of 500 Wii Points wasn’t too shabby. After reading a handful of reviews that actually liked it, I decided to give it the ‘ol download. It took me an hour to finish the “game” and I immediately wanted my Wii points back so I could spend them on a much better NES game. Sanner sure does have a wacky sense of humor, but this on rails “one button does it all” game lacks any real thrill. You might laugh, sure, but there’s not much depth here and barely anything to keep the player coming back for more. It lacks the addictiveness of the simpler, much cheaper (or free) Canabalt and Robot Unicorn Attack, or the sheer ingenuity of one button gaming captured in the free One Button Bob from early this year. I suppose it isn’t so much that Sanner is a terrible game because it’s okay at what it does, just that there’s much better alternatives out there and for a fraction of the price (or in this case, zero price).

Shadow Complex – Xbox Live Arcade – Originally released 2009

I’m a huge fan of Metroidvania games, so when I first heard about Shadow Complex upon its anouncement, I knew I had to have it. Factor in the rave reviews when it was released and that made it even more clear that this was the 2D HD Metroid game I was waiting for. However, the game came out when my Xbox was dead, so when I finally got around to downloading Shadow Complex this year I was rather let down. Shadow Complex has the right intentions. It’s aping one of the greatest games ever created, but it does so in the most boring way possible. It looks about as generic as any other HD game with sterile, muted colors and boring environments. The lead character that might as well be Nathan Drake is an uninspired as they come, and his corn ball Master Chief meets Samus costume that he eventually earns is a joke. All of this would be fine if the core game held up well enough, but the awful control holds it back from taking advantage of what is actually a well thought out world map. The jumping mechanic is about as off as you’d expect in a 2.5D game, and the pseudo 3D twin stick shooting is a disaster. I eventually just gave up shooting and spent the entire game running up to guys and watching the same canned animation of the dude punching guards in the face. It’s a bummer, because the game offers plenty to do and would be an incredible value if it were actually any real fun. I ended up taking the quickest route through the game and never played it again. As an aside, the bitter gamer in me sort of hates the fact this game has probably outsold the games that inspired it (Symphony of the Night included) and it just sort of bums me out that people just want to play generic looking stuff like this. Anyway, it’s heart is in the right place, it just needs better art direction and tighter, more simplified control. Some music could help spruce things up too. Oh, and forget the lame story next time too.

Crash Bandicoot – Playstation – Originally Released 1996

I only played the original Crash game briefly back when it came out. I never really cared for the character and as a result never played any Crash Bandicoot games ever. After playing Uncharted 2, I had this crazy thought that maybe Naughtydog was this amazing company all along and that’s when I decided to go back and play Crash Bandicoot. I was surprised to see that Crash had much more in common with classic platformers of the 16-bit generation than a real Super Mario 64 contender that it was made out to be when it came out. I was also surprised to find out just how damn brutal and punishing the game was too, especially since I expected to blow through it in an afternoon. I wouldn’t mind the challenge if dying was my fault, but generally you’re falling down holes thanks to a terrible camera angle, or getting hit by an enemy thanks to both awful hit detection and (once again) poor camera placement. It lacks the momentum based platforming of 2D greats like Mario, Sonic, Donkey Kong, and even contemporaries like Super Meat Boy, and considering the amount of evil jumps laced through every single stage, it just kills the entire flow of the game. It’s one of the most frustrating and poorly designed games I’ve ever played in my entire life. It amazes me that Crash Bandicoot went on to have a rather good career, though thankfully time has not been on his side and his latest games are pretty much ignored by the masses. It’s hard to believe that Naughtydog went on to create Uncharted, I imagine no one from the Crash days is involved, either that or that just learned a lot since then. If that’s the case, good on them.

Fantasia – Genesis – Originally released 1991

There are a handful of somewhat cherished Disney games on the Genesis, highlighted by Castle of Illusion and its successor World of Illusion and sorta spin off title Quackshot. Having played through Sega’s very capable if not a bit aged Disney platformers just a year ago, I happened across a copy of Fantasia for a whole dollar at this years MAGFest. I can honestly say that I think I played this game for less than 3 minutes before being completely disgusted by it and immediately turning it off, returning it to the shelf in which it’ll never be played again. The title screen was the dead give away that this was not going to be on par with the others as it was developed by Infogrames and not internally by Sega. It’s one of those awful 16-bit platformers with semi-okay graphics and animation but completely unplayable. The difference in quality between a game like this and Castle of Illusion is actually pretty amazing. An absolutely awful game, no wonder it has been forgotten by time.

Gears of War – Xbox 360 – Originally released 2006

I almost bought an Xbox 360 to play Gears of War, but that Christmas I had a hard time explaining to my then new wife that I needed another console after dropping close to 400 dollars on a brand new Wii and games that November. So I sucked it up and never muttered a word about it again. As time passed I eventually found myself owning a 360 anyway, but never ended up getting Gears until this past summer.

Let me start by saying that I can appreciate what Gears was in that it was probably the first game to really have that true next gen look. Most 360 titles up to that point basically looked like higher resolution Xbox and PS2 games, but Gears showed us the future of video game graphics. On top of that, I suppose Gears can also be credited for bringing co-op back to the forefront of a game experience. It could probably also be credited for its refined cover based mechanics that have obviously inspired the rest of this gen, but lets be honest here, cover based game design has been around since the sort of terrible Winback on the N64. In that way I can see why Gears was important when it released. It was a bold game at the time and its ideas have, for better or worse, affected this entire generation. That said, Gears is a boring, already out of date game which has given me zero incentive to stick with it let alone play more games in the series.

I was sort of digging Gears at first, the control is mostly solid and shooting guys was fun for a bit, but from my experience with Gears, what you see in the first hour is what you see for the rest of the game. The game never makes you learn much more than stop and pop, and it never adds anything new to turn the experience on its ear and demand more from the player. It does one thing semi-right and it sticks to that for what I’m going to assume is close to 8 hours. I wouldn’t know because I became so frustrated playing Gears on single player that I stopped completely.

Your buddies are the biggest dip shits in the universe. I made it to the sequence where stepping onto dark spots will send in a bunch of hungry bats that eat everyone alive within seconds and the only way through is by blowing up propane tanks to light the way. It’s not a bad idea, but the fact that I continued to be punished for the dumb choices my partner made infuriated me to no end. My partner, Dom I believe, must have died 10 times on this sequence alone (this isn’t counting all the other times he died). The poorly placed check point meant that each time he died I needed to go through a wave of enemies again (another part where he would become an idiot and storm the bad guys, falling and most likely dying) and then hope to the lord above that Dom would be able to control himself once we made it through them. The worthless commands assigned to the D-Pad didn’t help matters either. Your comrades are going to do whatever the hell they want to do regardless of what you ask of them. Why even have them in there? It completely breaks the single player experience. Between doing the same thing over and over again and having Game Overs left and right thanks to my idiot pal, I grew tired of the game and turned it off. I remember the night I made the decision to never play it again.

And that is the most I’ll ever play of the Gears of War series for the rest of my life. I’ll give it the credit it deserves, but time clearly hasn’t been kind to this game.

So what have you played this year that was a let down?

Movie Info of the Week (Dec 20-24 2010)


My DVD/Blu-Ray Pick
Family Guy

Family Guy: Its A Trap! – I know the Shamoozal is divided when it comes to Family Guy. Most of the site’s creators are not fans of the show. Several of the regulars on the Smorgas Board are. I’m definitely a fan even though I agree with some of the critics saying it isn’t as great as it used to be. But I still watch all the new episodes and I’m never without an out loud laugh. Plus this is their conclusion to the Star Wars spoof that has been going on for the last few years. They usually put it straight to DVD and then air it on TV sometime down the road. I’m a big fan of a spoof done well, which is rare these days, and always get a kick out of their Star Wars jokes. I’m looking forward to this one.

My Theater Pick
True Grit

True Grit – if anyone knows my taste in movies then you could have predicted this would be my pick. The Coen Brothers are my all time favorite directors. Jeff Bridges is one of my all time favorite actors. In fact, the last collaboration between the Coens and Bridges resulted in the creation of my favorite movie of all time, The Big Lebowski. So my hopes are very high for a Coens Brothers western sprinkled with their unique sense of humor. Bridges looks fantastic and he’s backed by the likes of Matt Damon and Josh Brolin. And apparently the young chick making her acting debut is fantastic as well. There’s all kinds of nominations going around for this flick and it just gets me more and more excited. Its a remake of a John Wayne classic that earned him an Oscar and critics are already saying its one of those rare instances where the remake is better than the original. Awesome.

Box Office Results

TRON Legacy really tore it up at the box office. Close to $45 million over the weekend which actually though is a tad less than Disney expected. It beat out the part animated/part live action Yogi Bear proving that Tron still has a following and even new fans were probably attracted to the awesome special effects. Or maybe there’s a shit ton of Jeff Bridges fans out there. I know I’m certainly one of them as I already mentioned above. But the reason I saw the movie was simply because I thought it “looked” really cool. And I was correct. It did. I wonder how it will fare against the holiday releases coming out this week.

Also coming out in stores this week is the M. Night Shyamalan produced Devil, Step Up 3D and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

Also hitting theaters this Wednesday is the the third installment in the Meet The Parents trilogy called Little Fockers with Ben Stiller and Robert Deniro among many others, also Gulliver’s Travels starring Jack Black.