Friday, March 24, 2006

Soul Calibur III Review

Soul Calibur III
Platform: PS2

Once again, the power of the dark sword Soul Edge is rampaging across the known world. Nightmare has appeared again and is destroying everything in his path. A mysterious man named Zasalamel appears to be attempting to use the power of the sword for his own benefit. You must use your fighting skills to aid or hinder Soul Edge.

Soul Calibur III introduces three new characters to the fighing line-up: Zasalamel, who wields a reaper; Setsuka, who uses a katana; and Tira, who fights with a giant, bladed hula hoop. The characters, especially Tira, are fresh in their style and add to the quality of the fighters.

The main mode of the game is Story Mode. Through this mode, you unlock all sorts of goodies to be bought in the store and earn the players’ different endings. This time, you get to choose the path you travel as you go through the mode. Though your decision influences who you will fight, it has no real impact on the game. Since most people will use the same thought process each time to make decisions, you’ll like find that you’re fighting the same people. The game also throws in some cut scenes to break up the monotony between battles. However, after the first few times of seeing the same cut scene for each player, you’ll wish you could fast forward through them. The ending are different if you press certain button combinations during them. Though have two different ending for the same character is cool, it leaves you confused as to which one really happened.

The game also adds a mode called “Chronicles of the Sword”. You create a custom character and use strategy to guide their team through battles. The character customization is really great. There is a wide variety fighting styles to make your player, from a knight with lances and swords to a dancer who fights with tambourines and fans. The game lets you dress your character in many ways. You can clad yourself with armor, or you can run around in your underwear. However, I don’t like how what your character is wearing doesn’t affect the gameplay. They’re just as protected scantily clad as when they are wearing many layers of defense. The mode itself is really fun since you have to think to make it through battles. However, the dialogue and storyline are really cheesy and flat. Even the attempts at humor seem lame.

A competition mode in the game allows you to fight many battles. Though the battles can get boring, the money earned makes fighting worth the effort. There is a challenge mode that tests your skills at using strategy in different battles to fulfill certain goals such as defeating 50 enemies in a row or taking down a giant colossus in Greece. I found many of the challenges to be colorful and fun. The shop allows you to buy a plethora of goods, from character photos to new weapons and armor. Museum and practice modes of course come standard.

Conclusion: I was quite well pleased with the title. There many of hours of gameplay packed in. Certain spots just contain too much repetition, and the plot could certainly use some work. As compared to other Soul Calibur games, this one does not offer quite as much innovation.
Score: 4 out of 5

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Widescreen DVD Review

Reviewed: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Widescreen DVD
Official Site:
Harry Potter at Warner Brothers

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, someone has entered the Harry into the Triwizard Tournament, a “friendly” competition between magical schools. The boy wizard battles through challenges as he tries to make it through his fourth year at Hogwarts.

Most of the other Harry Potter movies do the book justice. Though they leave out some details, they mostly keep the essence J.K. Rowling injected into the original work. However, I was woefully saddened by the detail of Goblet of Fire. The movie did not show the hilarity of Harry at the Dursleys’ house. Instead, the story began at the Weasley’s house. I feel like the Quidditch World Cup was completely botched. No Quidditch was even played! The Yule Ball, while lovely, took too much of the movie as it was jazzed up to emphasize Hollywood teen drama. The final challenge of the Triwizard Tournament was lacking, since it included none of the challenges listed in the book such as the sphinx’s riddle or the vicious spider. Also, so many fun details were left out. I’m sure movie viewers would have loved Ludo Bagman, the fat ex-Quidditch player; veela, the ultra-sexy creatures of the wizarding world; Winky, Barty Crouch’s house elf who is shamed early in the book; and the blast-ended skrewts, one of Hagrid’s class creatures whose name is self-explanatory. Overall, however, the plot was similar to that of the book. The scenes were well-acted and similar in dialogue. I know certain details had to be cut. As a fan of the book, I just feel a few too many were taken out.

The movie makes up for the plot cuts with the gorgeous special effects. The dragons were simply gorgeous. Every part was so beautiful and fluid that you could begin to understand why Hagrid likes them so much. Also, the Second Task of the Triwizard Tournament, which takes place underwater, was so wonderful. I could feel myself swimming with Harry through the challenge.

The DVD itself is terrible, though. There are no special features. That’s right. Nothing. The only options are to view the movie, select scenes, or change the language. The point of the DVD is to give the viewer extra insight into the working of the movie. Unfortunately, Goblet of Fire’s DVD does not even try.

Overall: The movie, though not as strong as the others, is still pretty good. However, the DVD is just plain pathetic.
Final Score: 3 out of 5

Friday, March 17, 2006

PS3 Release Delayed

Sony has cancelled the spring release date for the Playstation 3 (PS3). Full article here.

Quick Summary:
  • Sony has delayed release of the PS3 until November.
  • Ken Kutaragi, Sony's president, cites copy protection and other standards for the Blu-ray high definition DVD drive as the reason for the delay.
  • The PS3 will be released at around the same time in Europe, Japan, and North America.
  • The release is around the same time as that of the Nintendo Revolution.

My $0.02: I can see delaying the release for performance issues, but there's no use in delaying for "copy protection". No matter how long you work on preventing bootleg copies of the disks from reaching the market, someone will figure out the process and publish it on the internet. Since Blu-ray is new technology, it needs to get a high level of market saturation as soon as possible or else Toshiba's HD-DVD will take over. I don't care if HD-DVDs can only hold 30 GB and Blu-ray can hold 200 GB. Usually, the next generation technology formats that is common first wins. Also, I think a year is a long time from the Xbox 360's release date. The space of time gives the 360 time to take hold.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Rush Energy Drink Review

Drink: Rush Energy
Official Site:
Drink Rush Energy

Rush is a flat energy drink that tastes like paper. (Don’t ask me how I know what paper tastes like…) There is very little pizzazz about the drink, from the blue Red Bull knockoff can to the generic green color. The energy factor is relatively low. The only thing I liked was the fact the description on the can was in English and Spanish. For the most part, however, Rush simply copies what others have already done.

Summary: Boring, flair less energy drink.
Final Score: 2 out of 5

Friday, March 10, 2006

Game Designers To Be Knighted

Three game designers will be knighted in France. Full article here.

Quick Summary:

  • The French Ministry of Culture will knight Michel Ancel, Frederick Raynal, and Shigeru Miyamoto (the man behind Mario) in the Order of Arts and Letters.
  • The awards will be presented on March 13 at the Ministry of Culture building in Paris.
  • Renard Donnedieu de Vabres, the Minister of Culture, will present the awards.

My $0.02: Seeing official recognition of games as art is very refreshing. Game creators are in the same league as other types of artists. They just don't get recognition outside of their industry because the medium is so new and because video gamers are seen juveniles. Maybe this is the start of a good trend.

...Lost Energy Drink Review

Drink: ...Lost Energy
Official Site:
...Lost Enterprises

Spawned by the same crew that made Monster, Lost is an utterly delicious energy drink experience. The flavor, though similar to that of Monster, is sweeter. The added sweetness makes the drink better than Monster. In addition, the energy factor of this drink is high. You will be bouncing. Also, the drink comes in a really cool can with lots of different graphics on it. I was a little upset to crush and throw it away.

Summary: Chic and tasty.
Final Score: 5 out of 5

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire DVD Sweepstakes

Mugglenet currently has posted a sweepstakes for the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire DVD or a certificate from Noble Collection. Entries are being taken here.

Grand Prize: $300 Noble Collections Gift Certificate
First Prize: $100 Noble Collections Gift Certificate
Second Prize: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire DVD

The contest place on March 15 at midnight EST. I posted this since I thought it would appeal to some of you Harry Potter fans out there. Just as a reminder, the DVD will be released on March 7.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Cattle Dung Used to Make Gasoline

Scientists in Japan said they have found cattle dung could be a new source of gasoline. Full article here.

Quick Summary:
  • Sakae Shibusawa and his team extracted 0.042 ounces of gasoline for every 3.5 ounces of cow dung.
  • The team added unspecified metal catalysts to dung in a container at 30-atmospheric pressure and up to 300 degrees Celsius.
  • The scientists hope to improve the technology so that it can be used commercially in five years.
  • Japan produces about 551,155 tons of cattle dung each year.
  • A separate experiment showed vanillin, which is used in shampoos and candles, can be extracted from cow dung.

My $0.02: According to my calculations, Japan could extract 1,653,465 gallons of gasoline from all of the cow dung in Japan in a year with the current process. The resourcefulness of such a process is great. I hope that other countries implement similar processes for their cow dung. I'm just wondering what metal catalysts the scientists used to get the gasoline. As far as the vanillin is concerned, I don't think people would be exactly enthusiastic to know that part of their shampoo used to be cow dung.

Additional $0.02 (March 17, 2006): Though I still admire the resourcefulness of such a process, I have now reconsidered my position. Gasoline is already bad enough for the enviroment. When humans inevitably run out of a natural supply of crude oil for making gasoline, then they will be forced to use more environmentally friendly processes. However, if a gasoline supply is still available, people will continue to drive and emit toxic pollutants. Such conversions, therefore, are actually bad for the environment.

Fake Penis Microwaved in Gas Station in Pittsburgh

Last week, a fake penis filled with urine was microwaved at a convenience store. Full article here.

Quick Summary:
  • Leslye Creighton,41, had her 31-year-old friend, Vincent Bostic, fill a fake penis with his urine so that she could pass a drug test she was taking to get a job.
  • Creighton asked a store clerk at a Get Go! to microwave the fake penis so that the urine would be body temperature and get pass those giving the drug test.
  • Police are unsure why Creighton used a fake penis to hold the urine.
  • Creighton and Bostic are cited for criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.
  • Each could get up to 90 days in jail and a $300 fee.
  • Their defense attorney said his clients want to settle the case by replacing the microwave, since it can no longer be used for food.
  • It is unknown whether Creighton was hired for the job or not.

My $0.02: The first thing about this story that amazes me is the age of these people. 31 and 41?! They're too old for stuff like that! They must have been really high to do this. However, they shouldn't face any criminal charges because they didn't do anything illegal. All they did was accidentally ruin store property. Also, I note that the store clerk who microwaved the fake penis has not been cited for anything. The clerk should be held responsible for this since he or she simply should not have microwaved a fake penis.

Friday, March 03, 2006

First Amendment Rights?! D'oh!

Americans have an easier time naming the five Simpsons than naming the rights of the First Amendment. Full article here.

Quick Summary:
  • 1000 Americans were randomly surveyed at the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum.
  • Half could name two of the members of the Simpsons family.
  • 28% could name one out of the five First Amendment rights.
  • The same number of people could name all five Simpsons or the three judges from "American Idol".
  • Only 8% could name three part of the First Amendment.
  • Just one person could name all five First Amendment rights.
  • The five First Amendment rights are: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of press, freedom of assembly, and freedom to go to court.
  • Some people surveyed listed the right the right to drive and the right to have pets.

My $0.02: The results make perfect sense. The only time people are exposed to the list of the First Amendment is when they are in school and are forced to memorize them. People watch the Simpson family all of the time, so they will definitely remember the names. You don't need a survey to know the results of this one. The importance of this article is that it shows fact that as Americans, we don't consider our rights. We just assume them.