Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Stage-Select-Start




As of 7/1/2015 the Two Boys and their Blog Team,  Jaconian, Conklederp and DRoBOTTS have moved to Stage-Select-Start.  Please follow the link to read the latest.  

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Moving on

D: Hello everyone out there in cyberspace!  We have an important announcement.  Starting this coming month, we will be re-branding and moving the site, to our new space over at http://stageselectstart.blogspot.com/ .  We have toyed with the idea of changing the name over the last 3 years, and now we are finally doing it.  Two Boys and Their Blog was a good name, and it got us to start writing and publishing our thoughts on the internet, and appropriately evoked our shared sense of nostalgia for the video games of our childhood.  However, the name also tended to evoke inappropriate sentiments, and people in my personal life would often twist their faces in incredulity when saying the name.  Okay, I get it.  


J: True.  Every couple of days or so I look at our stats for the page here to see how people found us and what they were searching for.  It would happen about once a month (roughly) that someone would find us looking for a type of porn they wanted to gaze upon.  I would chuckle to myself.  It probably also didn't help that we briefly talked about the SNK/Neo-Geo arcade game Crossed Swords.


D: We're not planning to change the content or anything.  It's still what you'd call a 'nerd culture' blog, or... what I just called that.  



J:  Yeah, I don't see the way we do things changing much at all when we move over to "Stage Select Start" and we'll still have a lot of the same columns that we're (semi)-consistently doing here: MIDI Week Singles, Stage Level Start, Game Scores, Emulator Hour, Monthly Update, Full Review, et cetera.  It's just going to be the same thing with a different name that I think DRoBOTTS and I are more at ease with speaking in mixed company and to our respective families.

D: So, if you are here, reading this, please head over to StageSelectStart and have a read!

Two Boys and Their Blog,  April 2012 - June 2015 and beyond!





Friday, June 26, 2015

Success! A tale of trouble shooting.



Dear God, I just fixed a computer problem that was making me literally angry with rage.  For the last couple weeks, I was having a devil of a time connecting my laptop to my TV through my HDMI cable.  To make matters worse, I began to further lose display functionality as I struggled with the problem.  I was trapped in hd quicksand, and it really pissed me off!  However, I'm happy to say that having solved this problem, my satisfaction is all the greater for having endured such frustration.  Continue reading for the longer tale.

Part of the reason I'm writing about this is to add one more location on the internet where this problem arises.  I clicked on so many links and shuffled so many different search terms, only to find an obnoxious pie of obvious solutions I'd already tried, less obvious solutions I'd already tried, tough solutions I wasn't prepared to try (I won't change my registry key lightly) and irrelevant posts that didn't match my search terms.  Over and over again, I searched and skimmed and read.  Finally, for whatever reason, I noticed I was getting more interesting search results on my break at work, so I decided to start copying and pasting links for myself to try at home.  Ultimately, it was this post that helped me solve my problem:

http://superuser.com/questions/552269/use-this-device-as-the-primary-monitor-is-now-greyed-out

My problem was quirky, for sure.  The simplest description is that I couldn't get my laptop to connect to my TV via my brand-new HDMI cable.  But that wasn't strictly true.  I could duplicate my display, but I couldn't extend my desktop.  In fact, if I tried to extend my desktop, it would snap back to 1 display and a blank screen.  But to make matters worse, the previous scenario would only work if I started my computer in 'low resolution video mode'  which I accomplished by holding f8 while booting up.*   

The real problem was that, if I didn't use low res video mode, when I plugged in an hdmi cable, the display would turn off completely.  And it wouldn't turn back on until I rebooted the computer.  The HDMI cable didn't even have to be plugged into anything on the other end, but I would have to do a hard reset every.single.time.  

It all started peacefully enough.  When I first plugged my monitor in to my laptop via my brand-new HDMI cable, the screen extended quickly and painlessly.  My new TV even politely informed me that a device had been plugged into the HDMI slot and would I like to enjoy this now?  Yes I would, thank you.  Now I can watch a movie on one screen and casually browse on another.  Or I can play video games on a big screen and seamlessly transition to my small screen between play sessions.  Or I can research the solution to a problem on one screen, and execute the proposed solutions on the other.  I love having two monitors.

I suppose the real cause of my problem could be traced back to hubris.   Or, if I want to be more generous, the dangers of curiosity.  Because, while everything was working well, I was curious about what my new TV monitor was capable of, so naturally I opened my display settings.  My television is a humble 32" 720p LG that I got on clearance at Target.  But, hey, look at that: according to my display settings,  it can be set to a higher resolution.  I can even ask it to go up to 1080.  That seems incongruent, but what the hey?  I'll give it a shot.  

Uh oh.

Screens go black.  Clearly I've pushed this thing beyond its limits.  No matter, I'll just reboot, and reset the resolution back to it's native 720, just as god intended.  Should be simple... (go to top of the page)

I'm glad it's over.    

-D



*I wish I still had the link to the post where a helpful internet citizen provided with the information about low-res video mode (f8).

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

MIDI Week Singles: "Glider" - Pilotwings Resort (3DS)


"Glider" from Pilotwings Resort on the Nintendo 3DS (2011)
Released: Promotional Release
Composer: Asuka Ito
Developer: Monster Games / Nintendo SPD

video


Before I picked up the N64 Pilotwings soundtrack, I would have told you that this composition for the 3DS was a great arranged version of that song.  What I was actually hearing was an entirely new song, similar in style and flavor to Dan Hess' compositions from the N64 game, but a new song all together.  And a beautiful, slightly jazzy (Is it jazzy?, I don't actively listen to jazz) song this is too.

This just felt like the right song to go with on an overcast cool (presently 69° F, or 21° C) Portland morning and I'd been wanting to put this song up for a while.  

I find this song to be a great mix of melody, one that you can recall to memory and hum/whistle and calming enough while you try and aim your hang glider towards the next thermal so that you can climb towards the floating landing platform.  If Nintendo wanted to be jerks they could have had someone else compose some raucous tune to keep you on edge or feeling frantic as you circle your way up the thermals.  But no, instead we are given this soothing jazzy (there's that jazz again) little number that I would want pumped in over some sort of speaker device the next (and first) time I go hang gliding.



~JWfW/JDub/Jaconian

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Blurb on the Remake of FFVII



The recent announcement of a Final Fantasy VII remake has got me thinking about that classic title.  I have a mixed relationship with Final Fantasy VII.  As Jaconian has said in the past, I think it's one of the most overrated games of all time.  You should read his post on the subject for further thoughts.  However, I have played through the game several times, and when I take a moment to daydream about the games aesthetic, I find myself welling with pleasant nostalgia.  

It's not to say I don't like FFVII -- I do!  Heck, I've revisited it several times throughout the years.  My issue is that, right from the start, it was hailed as the greatest game ever, or the greatest RPG ever or some other expression of the highest possible praise.  And, often enough, this praise game from people who had not played previous iterations of Final Fantasy games. 

At the time of its release, it was the first Final Fantasy on a non-Nintendo System.  I had to buy a Playstation just to play it!  So I was already a little annoyed.  Actually, wait, I was a teenager, so I was actually shocked and betrayed and hurt.  I think I stamped the game as tainted or something, and I became an outspoken Final Fantasy VII critic.  But I do really like it.  

I guess I don't have much to say about the potential remake, except that I really hope for a remake of the Super Nintendo game, FFVI(III) to follow.  Additionally, I want to say that I really like the blocky graphics and rendered backgrounds of the original VII.  I think the characters look like little puppets and are fairly expressive; enough to get the job done.  On the other hand, the soundtrack should be great!

But I get it.  FFVII is the legendary greatest of all games.  Of course this one will get the remake, simply from a business standpoint.  It's not the game that has the most to gain from a remake, but it is the one that is most likely to sell copies.  That's fine.  But I'll cross my fingers for Final Fantasy VI(III)

-D

Monday, June 22, 2015

Nerdy Nit Picks: Wolverine's Height

This was the funnies image of wolverine I could find


First off, I will say – I MUST say, that Hugh Jackman did a great job as Wolverine.  In fact, I’d say the whole cast and crew did a fantastic job with the first X-Men movie.  I did not think it was possible to make a good X-Men movie at the time, and the results far exceeded my expectations.  A lot of that had to do with the depiction of Wolverine, easily the most popular X-Men character, and one of the most popular characters in Comics.  Wolverine was placed at the center of the action, and he was great, just great.  Cigar Smoking, mutton chopped, grumbly a-hole with a ridiculous haircut.   Sweet metal claws and quick to heal.   Yep, that's Wolverine, and he is awesome.  

But they did get one thing wrong.  Hugh Jackman is over 6 feet tall.  Wolverine is like 5’2”.  He’s a short man, not a tall one.  I know this is nitpicking, but I think it really would make a difference.  In general,  It’s not an often-featured element of Wolvie’s character, but I always thought it was an important one.  His rivalry with Cyclops, for example.  Cyclops is the straight-backed, strapping boy-scout.  Wolverine is the hairy, snarling animal; testosterone incarnate.  Really, his height is about his only disadvantage.

Hollywood likes tall male leads, and there are only a handful of successful leading men under 5'8".   Still, I will admit Jackman was probably a better choice that Seth Greene.  So yeah.  Not a huge deal, they did a great job with those first two movies, when the series was still fresh.  But they did miss that one (little) thing.

-D

Friday, June 19, 2015

Things that Kind of Went on at E3: 2015 Re-Edition


I've had this banner-thing lying around since 2013 and I figured that either I used it or throw it in the local incinerator.  If you didn't know, we're all about recycling here up here in the PNW.  I'm not going to bore you with a breakdown of the most interesting games for each system or show you a scientific ranking based on the amount of endothermic radiation tabulated during each presentation.  I will bore you with a generic list of games that caught my attention (based on my own pre-existing personal tastes) while looking over what happened during the last four days from this three day convention of this Electronic Entertainment Exposition for consumers.

ADR1FT: Sounds like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, but in space.  Which I am perfectly okay with.

Attractio: An FPS puzzle platformer that, by description alone, sounds similar to Portal.

Bravely Second: End Layer: The sequel to Bravely: Default, of which I still have yet to play, but the demo kept me entertained.

Catadoomed: An interesting game for Android devices that is available now (I just downloaded it) and it's free, so why not at least try it out.

Dark Souls III: Thanks to Extra Credits' "Side Quest" series, Dark Souls has its proverbial hooks in me once again.

Doom: What made me sad about seeing the gameplay footage, was that I felt that some of the animations would now no longer be a surprise.  For example, I saw the same chainsaw cutting-in-half animation at least twice and thought, "Oh, it's this one again then?"

Dragon Quest Heroes: Apparently there's going to be another Dragon Quest game, although this one's a PS4 exclusive and by the description at box art, looks like Dissidia: Final Fantasy, but with characters, or shall I say, heroes from the various Dragon Quest games.

Dreams: A PS4 exclusive and an interesting concept if done the way I think it should be done.

Earthbound: Beginnings: A Wii U virtual console exclusive of Mother (1989, Famicom), which boggles me a bit as to why it's not coming out for 3DS virtual console either.  Although I never did play Earthbound on the SNES.

The Elder Scrolls: Legends: A free to play TGC from Dire Wolf Studios and published by Bethesda.  I will reserve judgement until after I play, but I probably will play it on PC as the only other mentioned platform will be iOS.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture: I am still sad that I may never get to play this game (PS4 only), but I've loved what the people at The Chinese Room have done with Dear Esther and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs.  And EGtoR now has a release date of August 11, 2015.

Fallout 4: I feel caught up in the excitement machine with this game seeing as how I've played on the first Fallout, and not ever to completion.

Fallout Shelter: An iOS game that I may have to have Conklederp download to her iPad.  I like the idea of a micro SimCity-type post-apocalyptic simulator.

Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water: Kind of surprised that this is a Nintendo Wii U title with a very Japanese theme.  You use the Wii U pad while exploring/detectivizing a forest where people have been committing suicide.

Final Fantasy VII Remake: Yeah, yeah I know, it's on every other E3 list out there, why shouldn't it be on ours?  What interested me was the mention of changes/additions to the plot.  And even though the trailer says "Play it first on Playstation 4," I feel that that hints to a PC release as well.

Guided Meditation VR: An interesting concept with Oculus Rift support that is ready to play now via the game's website.  

Horizon Zero Dawn: I liked the setting and the idea based on the trailer (post-apocalypse meets The World Without Us meets the Monster Hunter franchise).  The "in-game" sequence got me a little concerned that the unnamed protagonist would actually talk to herself throughout the course of the game; an attempt at co-op play (as in announcer commentary?) in a single player game?  I'm not sure.

King's Quest: Yet another classic game that I have never played any iteration of, but this remake/reboot/update might be either the first I play or I'll go back and dabble in the old ways.

The Last Guardian:  I recall seeing something about this game around the time of PS4 being launched (I lied, it was back in 2011) and it looks like this PS4 exclusive has finally reached a point where it might actually get to be released.  This trailer almost makes me consider buying/acquiring a PS4.

The Legend of Legacy:  Yeah, I'm a sucker for JRPGs.  That's pretty much all I have to say here.

Mad Max: Post-Apocalyptic open world game in the Mad Max universe?  Yeah, I'll play that.

The Manus: A sleeker, sexier (but who are we kidding!?) version of the Power Glove.  Spiffy idea, but I get the feeling that it's a limited market.

Mirror's Edge Catalyst: As long as I don't dread the run-and-gun gauntlet stages and the fighting mechanic has improved (ie: I don't suck using the fighting mechanics designed for the game), I will be very happy.

NieR New Project: Apparently this is a sequel (not officially named) to NieR, and the game looks. . .nice?  I don't know really how else to describe anything about this.  The design and look of the game are pretty much all that is presented in the trailer, and not having played the first game (which will be unconnected to this one), I would have no qualms about starting here, if it is released on PC.

Overkill's The Walking Dead:  The trailer was pretty god damn intense and I'm assuming it was only there to set the mood, considering that this is supposed to be an FPS co-op game (Left 4 Dead in The Walking Dead universe I presume).  Hopefully it's better than the Dixon Brothers Walking Dead game that I never played.

RareReplay: I really love this idea of bundling a bunch (here it's upwards of 30) games from a studio's library, but I will be sad about this because it's an Xbox One exclusive.  Which, probably also means that there will be no Donkey Kong Country included here, but that's only a guess.  And it looks like Goldeneye 007 isn't included either, otherwise, one would assume, that it would have made it into the trailer.

ReCore: About time for another Xbox One exclusive that peaked my interest.

Star Fox Zero:  It's Star Fox and I would probably want to play it if we owned (someone gave us) a Wii U.

Super Mario Maker:  I love the idea of creating your own levels in a Super Mario game, until I immediately remember that general skulldickery will be responsible for the majority of the levels being made.  I can only hope that in order to either submit, publish, or complete making a level, the designer has to be able to make it through their monstrous demonseed creation.  And since it's a Wii U exclusive, I probably won't have to experience said skulldickery.

Tearaway Unfolded: A PS4 only title here that looks like Little Big Planet (same studio) and the trailer did what it was supposed to do.

The Uncertain:  There's a robot wandering around a house in what is described as a post-apocalyptic setting.  Yeah, I'm kind of a sucker.

Unravel: Little Big Planet meets LIMBO meets Yoshi's Wooly World.

Until Dawn: Another PS4 exclusive (bloody 'ell) that looks like Cabin in the Woods with some Tell Tale Games illusion of choice decision making; surveillance monitors and all.

What Remains of Edith Finch:  Yup, you guessed it, PS4 only.  I like the idea of playing as different members of the same family over generations (Eternal Darkness).


Whew!  That was a lot longer than I had initially intended, but there it is.  There were many more games presented in their varying states of completeness, so you're welcome to check out the full list of games at E3 this year.  There were also a handful of games that I was initially interested in until I looked at them beyond their title (World of Final Fantasy, Sea of Thieves, Metroid Prime: Federation Force, The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes, Hyrule Warriors Legends) and then I decided that I wasn't as interested as I was hoping to be, all due to one reason or another (maybe a later post). I'm going to go drink a pot of coffee now.



~JWfW/JDub/Jaconian

A couple mini reviews for some mini games


Don't Look Back is a cool little poem of a game, by Terry Cavanagh.  I am an unabashed Terry Cavanagh fanboy, and have been so since I first played VVVVVV.  This latest game (latest for me-- Cavanagh produced it in 2009) is a great entry into his body of work.  With just 4 colors, a great soundtrack and basic gameplay, Don't Look Back is a compact little sonnet.  It could have been more, but it didn't have to be.  About twenty minutes in total, I recommend it. 
note:  I originally played the game on my phone, but eventually switched to playing on my computer over at Kongregate.  I just couldn't handle the touch-screen controls.  I need to play my platformers on a proper d-pad.  





Pretentious Game is right up my alley.  You can tell by the title.  The game is reminiscent of Thomas was alone and Starseed Pilgrim.  A game which uses gameplay as a metaphor, and obscure phrases as instructions.  And it features squares as characters. 

I only played the first batch of levels, as I downloaded the free version for Android.  I will probably buy the full version as they don't ask much for it.  Also available to play online at armor games.
-D
P.S.  further miniature games worth noting are:  Today I die, Grow Cube, The Crimson Room and many more.