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Saturday, February 26, 2005

I'm Not Playing PlanetSide Right Now

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... And I kind of want to. But since Tony is so insistent that I update, I guess I will, heh.

Two new mp3s in the Sound Test for people to listen to, by the way. And in addition to those, a couple other good Zelda remixes on OverClocked ReMix are the two from Zelda: The Wind Waker. They're really awesome renditions of the Dragon Roost Island and The Legendary Hero themes.

Got my first Intermediate Algebra test back on Wednesday: 98 out of 100 points. Not the perfect I was expecting (don't you hate those stupid little arithmetic errors that throw your answers off by just a bit?), but close enough.

So now we're going through a new chapter in the book, and it's kind of funny to see how much people are being confused by some things. Namely, negative exponents, and just the rules for dealing with exponents in general. This is nothing new for me, since I actually remember the stuff I learned in my Beginning Algebra class, so I'm perfectly comfortable with exponents and how they're handled. Not that I look down on people who have trouble with the subject. ... It's just that, when I'm sitting there for an hour and a half, seeing things which I already know, I have to find some sort of amusement to keep from being absolutely bored.

And on the subject of staving off boredom, I'm going to see if I can get a ride up to GameStop tomorrow, to buy a Nintendo DS and Super Mario 64 DS. I counted up my money again, and decided I have enough to get a DS and a new hard drive, and then I should have enough to also buy my brother's old CPU after another month or so. As mentioned in my last post, I've thought about just picking up Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls for the GBA, which would be a lot cheaper, but I think I'd rather play a platformer (SM64DS) than an RPG at the moment. Plus, Mario 64 will be better for playing on the bus and whatnot; if I'm going to play an RPG, I usually want to devote a couple hours to it at a time.

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Saturday, February 19, 2005

OMFG, Four Posts in a Single Week!

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First off -- *points up at the comments box* -- things working okay? There's enough comments to make it scroll now, so I'm wondering if it's working right for everyone. It's fine in Firefox 1.0 and IE 6.0, but I haven't really bothered testing in anything else. Hmm, I wonder. ... *tries Mozilla 1.7.3* Holy crap that's bad! *upgrades to 1.7.5 and breathes a sigh of relief* Old browser versions are scary.

Moving along, my Intermediate Algebra test went well yesterday. The class lasts an hour and a half, and I finished in 45 minutes after double checking most of my answers. So yay for getting out of class early. It's just too bad there's no 12:00 PM bus, or else I could've also gotten home early. ... The more I sit in the cafeteria, the more compelled I am to just up and buy a DS, or at least another GBA game. FFI&II: Dawn of Souls is looking nice right about now.

Turns out it's just allergies, too, so thankfully I didn't have to suffer through the effects of a cold during the test. No more sore throat, either, which is even better. Now the only thing that's really getting to me is when the sinus pressure gets to be great enough to cause a headache. A plugged up and/or runny nose I can deal with, but sinus headaches just suck. Granted, it is a bit nasty to blow you nose and see... Well, I'll spare you the details, but you get the idea.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Back by Popular Demand

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So apparently, people want to actually hear about my life in my posts. (Or so they tell me. I guess they could be lying.) And in the last post's comments I said I might give it another shot today, so here I am. Enjoy, if you can.

Starting from the top, I felt like crap this morning. And it really was the top, because laying in bed was so much better than getting up and getting ready to leave for class. Though anyway, I've no idea yet whether the sore throat and plugged sinuses I've had to deal with all day are a result of allergies (things are starting to bloom around here), or if they're the symptoms of an oncoming cold. Either way, they suck, and having to actually go out to class only makes it worse.

The 40 minute bus ride I'm pretty used to, after having taken a class out at Butte College last spring semester, as well as having to wait around for an hour before my class starts. The only real differences this time are that I'm having to get up two hours earlier this semester (8:00 AM instead of 10:00 AM) and that the class is half an hour longer. And as usual, I just sat around in the cafeteria with a few friends while waiting for my class. Listening to the conversation, and occasionally throwing in a comment of my own, is sometimes amusing. It's better than nothing, at any rate.

Though it really reminds me of how much I want a Nintendo DS -- and I'd actually have one already, except for one little thing: My brother is going to be upgrading his PC pretty soon here, and I'd like to buy his old CPU from him. On top of this, I'm running out of hard drive space all too fast, and I need to buy another drive. But, I don't think I currently have enough money for all three of these things, so I need to decide which two have priority. My brother won't give me any realistic price estimate for how much he'd want for the CPU, however, so I have no idea how much that could cost. And if I don't know that, I can't judge whether I'll have enough to buy it after getting a DS or a hard drive. Sometimes my brother really pisses me off by refusing, for no good reason, to give me information that I need in order to make a decision.

But back to me feeling like crap this morning. The first annoying thing about it was that we didn't even cover any new material in class today, and I knew we wouldn't. The first test is this Friday, and the professor had announced that today would be used just for reviewing the subjects that will be on the test. Well, I already know everything we've covered about as well as I'm ever going to, so the review was pretty worthless to me. But I still needed to turn in the homework that was due today, and though I could've just turned it in and left ... there wouldn't have been much point. I would've still have had to wait around just as long to catch the next bus home, and no matter where I was sitting -- in class or in the cafeteria -- I'd still feel like crap.

The second annoying thing (tired of my griping? too bad) is that, should this turn out to be the start of a cold, it means I'll most likely be sick during the test on Friday. Yeah, I'd probably still be able to ace it just because I'm that awesome, but it would suck nonetheless. Also, I don't like going out in public while I'm sick. I'd rather not have to be around people who are contagious, and it's just common courtesy to avoid being one of those people myself.

And to top it all off, the leftover pizza that was in the fridge last night, which I was looking forward to having for lunch, had already been eaten when I got home. I mean, really, that's just adding insult to injury.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Sound Test

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... Is this thing on?

Right, so I got Flam Player up and running. (Isn't it shiny?) I'm wondering what people think about it, though -- or, more specifically, what they think about how it's incorporated into the page.

Basically what I've done, is combine the Now Playing and Midi Archive sections into a single, compact area and put it down below the Flam Player. And although the flash file for Flam Player loads upon viewing the page, the actual mp3s don't start loading until you click play, so I figure it's not too much more of a strain for those using 56K connections. And the midis are also still there (and I still plan on adding new ones for at least a while longer) for people who don't want to wait for the mp3s to load. So there's an option for people with both low- and high-bandwidth connections.

The comments section is meant to replace the Now Playing posts that I made before. So rather than having my comments jumbled together with other stuff, they'll now be easily accessible, right next to the music itself. And the box will scroll when there gets to be more comments than would normally fit, so there won't be any restrictions on how long I can ramble, heh.

Also, I've moved the Site Portfolio bit into the sidebar, below the Talents section. I think the buttons fit in a lot better there than at the bottom of the introduction. And having more stuff underneath the Sound Test and Comments divs kind of did funky things to the spacing, so out they went.

As for what I'm planning on doing with the Flam Player, I'm thinking it's going to mostly be a place where I can toss up whatever I'm currently listening to a lot, and share it with other people. That way everyone can sample some of the awesome gaming music I listen to, which most people probably wouldn't ever bother with otherwise, and hear the funky variety of other stuff I listen to. So I think it'll be a fun addition to the page, and be a lot better and more flexible than the midis.

So, comments? Give me the good, the bad, and the Shinmaru. I'm open to suggestions regarding layout changes.

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Sunday, February 13, 2005

Now Playing #79

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Game: SimCity 2000
Track: Title Theme
Time: 2:03
Size: 16.6 KB

Originally I was thinking I'd put up the To Zanarkand theme from FFX this week, but I decided I already have enough Final Fantasy music in the archive. So the search began, and after hours (read: 10 minutes) of arduously scouring vgmusic.com, I found this little theme tucked away in the PS2 section. Beats me why they'd choose the PS2 section to put the SimCity 2000 midis in, seeing as it was originally on the PC and has been ported to nearly every console since the SNES, but whatever.

My first personal experience with the SimCity games came with SimCity 2000 (I had watched my brother play a port of the original SimCity on the SNES before), playing it occasionally on my brother's friend's PC. Being pretty young, my city ended up being layed out kind of haphazardly, but with their help it actually managed to be fairly successful.

And to this day, I still have one of the game's songs stuck in my head. It's not the title theme here -- it's one of the themes that plays while building -- but this midi is the best out of the ones they had. And besides, the title theme always reminds me of that funky robot thing on the title screen which, you know, is awesome. Don't ask questions, it just is.

In other related news, I'm looking into setting up Flam Player (the same flash music player Tony uses on Wrapped in Plastic) for use on myOtaku here. The midis just aren't good enough anymore -- though I will still keep the archive around -- and I'd really like to be able to share with people more of the songs I'm currently listening to. So hopefully we'll be able to set that up soon (sorry I skipped out yesterday, Tony -- PlanetSide and The Minish Cap took hold and wouldn't let me go), and then I'll just need to change around the layout of my introduction.

One thing about Zelda: The Minish Cap that really annoyed me, though: They let you miss a sidequest entirely if you wait too long to do it. One that gets you a good upgrade, no less. And of course, in my eagerness to play through the dungeons, I missed it. So it looks like I'll have to play through again, this time being careful to do things as soon as I can and not miss anything.

It's no surprise that I'll be playing through the game more than once (I mean, come on, it's Zelda), but I've been debating whether or not I want to play through it again right away. On one hand, playing through the main quest again would be fun -- I'd have no objections to that -- but the amount of sidequest stuff like Kinstone fusions and getting every figurine seems like it would be almost overwhelming to try and do it all twice in such a short time span. We'll see, I guess.

And speaking of figurines, the way you get them in The Minish Cap annoys me. Not only is a long, tedious process, but it's even moreso than in The Wind Waker. At least in TWW you were actually out doing something -- taking pictographs -- to get them, rather than just standing there, betting shells, and hoping for new ones. And then on top of this, they don't let you get all 20 hearts unless you get every single one. Now, the sound test I can see as a good reward for it, but a Piece of Heart should never be a prize for something so menial. All it does it piss people off who want to get all the hearts but don't want to spend hours collecting figurines.

In my opinion, Flagship has really dropped the ball when it comes to sidequests and minigames in the Zelda games they've developed. (Those being the two oracle games and TMC; Four Swords doesn't count because it has no sidequests to speak of.) A few of them are good -- I actually really like the Kinstone fusion thing -- but most are just annoying if you're a person that wants to do everything in the games. Thankfully they've gotten better with this in TMC (the oracle games' minigames were crap, plain and simple, and trying to collect every ring was worse than the figurines), but they've got a long way to go before they're as good as the ones seen in Majora's Mask and The Wind Waker, the two other sidequest-heavy games in the series.

Personally, I'm getting a bit annoyed with how much sidequest stuff they're packing into the newer Zelda games. It's gotten to the point where it seems to even be displacing the dungeons, to a certain degree. MM, TWW, and TMC all have fewer than the old standard of eight dungeons, and are then stuffed with sidequests to make up for it.

Now, sidequests are all well and good (so long as they're done well), but don't sacrifice the length of the game's main quest for them. There's lots of reasons why A Link to the Past is my favorite in the series, but among them is the fact that you get eleven -- not just eight, but eleven excellent dungeons, and there's not a ton of sidequests to wade through. LTTP keeps to the basic Zelda gameplay formula that made the original such a hit, while expanding on it rather than trying to add to it with a ton of sidequests. It's simple, pick-up-and-play fun that doesn't have you going through long and involved sequences of events just to get to the next dungeon, while still managing to have a good number of optional items and secrets for you to find.

I shall be sorely disappointed if the new GCN Zelda continues the trend and places as much emphasis on sidequests as MM, TWW, and TMC have. I want a game that plays like LTTP does, only in 3D, which is what I'm hoping this new Zelda does. The potential is there, with a combat system that should be at least as good as TWW's, being able to create a vast overworld with room for plenty of dungeons, and the technical capability to have hordes of monsters on screen at once. In my opinion, there has still yet to be a 3D Zelda to match the brilliance of what LTTP does in 2D, and this new game is just crying out to fill that void.

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Sunday, February 6, 2005

Now Playing #78

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Game: Metroid Prime 2 Echoes
Track: Main Theme
Time: 2:23
Size: 14.1 KB

It still amazes me how the songs of the two Metroid Prime games fit absolutely perfectly with their settings. Take this one, the main theme of Metroid Prime 2 Echoes, for example. With MP2, you've got a marked difference from the first Prime in the game's atmosphere -- it's much darker, drearier, and desperate -- and the main theme instantly lets you know what you're in. It reflects all of those feelings wonderfully and sets the mood for the rest of the game.

On top of that, it's also an awesome song in its own right. (In fact, I think I like listening to it even more than the first MP's main theme, which can also be found in the Midi Archive.) Which is really cool, because while I really love how well the songs match up to their settings, they're not always all that great to listen to by themselves. To me, a truly great piece of video game music is one that both suits its environment in the game and is also enjoyable to listen to outside of the game. MP2's main theme fits the bill.

With that said, this is one of those occasions where the midi version just doesn't really cut it. Sometimes midis can be really good and close to the original, but there's no substitute for the actual song in this case. I highly recommend downloading this mp3 recording of the song, to get the full experience.

Hmm, you know, listening to this song makes me want to pick up MP2 and start playing it again. I haven't really been in the mood for a game of its type too much lately (plus I'm just not a big fan of the dark and dreary atmosphere thing in pretty much any game), but thinking a lot about it for this post has somewhat rekindled my interest. So I may just give it another go this week.

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Sunday, January 30, 2005

Now Playing #77

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Game: Metroid: Zero Mission
Track: Brinstar
Time: 2:53
Size: 30.2 KB

It occured to me, just now as I was pondering what midi to use this week, that there's a severe lack of Metroid music in the archive. Although not consistantly great (can we say, "Fusion"?), the series' music remains some of my favorite. I doubt I'll ever forget tunes like the original Brinstar theme, Super Metroid's west Brinstar theme, the original Kraid area theme, Ridley's theme, or the south Norfair theme from Super Metroid. Plus the Prime subseries has provided a lot of awesome tracks, such as the Credits, Phendrana Drifts, and VS. Hive Totem themes from Prime -- unfortunately, I haven't yet played Prime 2 enough to pick out favorites, but so far the music has all been great.

Expect to see more Metroid midis popping up in the coming weeks.

Moving on to other subjects, I managed to get into that intermediate algebra class out at Butte College. The professor signed my add card on Friday and I turned it in to the admissions and records office shortly thereafter, so I'm in. Yay for looking smart because of being a high school student taking a college math class (and doing well in it). Though apparently everyone thinks I'm 20+ years old just by looking at me, so no one really notices unless I tell them my age.

Other than that ... not much happened last week. Unless you count getting Battle Rank 18 in PlanetSide. Yay for being able to get a third implant -- I no longer fear cloakers nearly as much, now that I have Darklight Vision and can see them with it again. Last night some guy came up and tried to knife me to death, so I flipped on Darklight, turned around, and shot him at point-blank with my sniper rifle -- twice. Oh, how sweet it is.

Now I'm focusing on getting Command Rank 3. Getting command experience points (CEP) is dang hard, however, when your empire is not only always outnumbered, but also getting doubleteamed by the other two empires. Since the only way to get a decent amount of CEP is to be part of an assault that captures an enemy base while you're leading a squad, and that barely ever seems to happen under the present conditions. I swear the Terrans and Vanu are working together on the Markov server. I've led a squad for 3+ hours and only gotten about 500 CEP, simply because it was impossible for us to do anything but defend from the other two empires. WTF, mates? ^^

liek OMG i have teh 4000 visits i r teh popular!!!1!1!11!1!111 ... And I'm still wondering when we're going to get a revised, unexploitable popularity ranking system.

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Sunday, January 23, 2005

Now Playing #76

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Game: Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Track: Casino Night Zone
Time: 2:12
Size: 20.6 KB

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is the Sonic game that I've played the most (mainly for lack of owning a Genesis), and Casino Night Zone was always my favorite part of the game. Doing all sorts of funky bounce shots off the flippers and whatnot was always a lot of fun, and I have to think this zone provided the inspiration for Sonic Spinball.

Now that Samgee has the Sonic Mega Collection on the GCN, though, I'll hopefully get to play through the other old Genesis Sonic games some time. Of course, I'm going to wait a while before asking to borrow it, since I gave it to him for his birthday and all. Don't want to seem like I had an ulterior motive for getting it for him. >_>

Classes at Butte College start tomorrow. Again, like last semester, I'm going to try and go out there tomorrow and add an intermediate algebra class, since they were all full when I went to register. It looks like my chances will be better this time, however, as one of the classes I've been watching now has six openings. Some people must have dropped it even before the semester started, so maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to get in.

And I was going to also try and get into a first semester Japanese class, but not only is it completely filled up (meaning I'd have to try and add it if someone didn't show up), it also conflicts with the algebra class I'm trying to get into. So again, no dice -- I'm thinking I'm just going to have to wait till I'm actually enrolled full time out at Butte, rather than doing concurrent enrollment while in high school, before I'll be able to get in. Though if things go according to plan, that should be fall semester.

If I am able to get into that algebra class, though, I'll be able to make good use of the Nintendo DS's portability. (I'm planning on getting one as soon as I'm through with Zelda: The Minish Cap.) Because, not only will I have the 30 minute bus ride out there every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but I'll also have to just sit around for an hour before class starts. Because, of course, there are no 10:00 AM busses -- only 9:00 and 11:00 -- and the class starts at 11:00. Plus a half hour of sitting around waiting for the 1:00 PM bus to take me home after class, and another half hour for the bus ride itself. Sitting and staring out the window of the bus isn't too bad (which is mainly what I did last Spring semester), since I'm quite good at keeping myself amused within the confines of my thoughts, but having Super Mario 64 DS to play would be much better.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I Hit People with the Queen's Heel

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Sunday went went, what with having people over to play Final Fantasy: Chrystal Chronicles. ... Except that one of my friends forgot his memory card, so he wasn't able to play on his own character. Instead, he had to play on one of the crappy extras we have on mine and Samgee's file, and was pretty much stuck with the "sit back and heal" roll the whole time. Makes me feel kinda bad, both because I'm usually the main healer, and because he really didn't get to do much else. Much casting of Life happened during boss fights, and he actually got zero bonus points after one dungeon.

I'm thinking I'm going to try and get people together again this Sunday, though. It would be really cool if this could become a semi-regular sort of thing, to get together and play games after church on most Sundays. I'd love to start another Zelda: Four Swords Adventures "campaign" and go through the whole game in 3P/4P mode, and we've still yet to actually beat FFCC -- the last level is downright vicious.

In return for lending him Skies of Arcadia Legends, my friend lent me his copy of FFCC and Samgee copied over our save file to one of my memory cards, so I can play my character (Drake, a male Selkie) in single player mode. So far I've only played once, but I ended up doing two years worth (i.e. six dungeons), though the first three were early levels to get myself acquainted with single player mode. I'd never actually played FFCC outside of multiplayer before.

During those two years, though, I managed to get the final item I needed to use the Legendary Weapon plan I had gotten earlier. And what weapon does it forge? ... A cudgel called the Queen's Heel. (WTF, mates? ^^) What really annoys me, though, is its focus attack. For a good while before this I had been using the Butterfly Head, and the focus attack on that was a two hit combo, but it wasn't a projectile like most Selkie weapons have. So then I'm finally able to forge an Elemental Cudgel, which has a projectile for its attack -- much rejoicing from me, since that's one of the big reasons I chose a Selkie character. But then shortly after, I'm able to forge the Queen's Heel ... and I'm right back to a melee focus attack. Sure, it's stronger than any other weapon I have, but eesh. I'm actually thinking of going back to using the Elemental Cudgel, just for the projectile attack, depending on just how much stronger the Queen's Heel is. I'm planning on doing some tests with both of them, to see if the Queen's Heel is worth it.

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Sunday, January 16, 2005

Now Playing #75

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Game: The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
Track: Minish Village
Time: 1:23
Size: 16.9 KB

For ranting and raving over The Minish Cap, check my last post. Or rather, the link to a post on OB in my last post.

But about the actual song, this is the theme that plays in the Minish Village (obviously) that's in the Minish Woods. It was the best of the Minish Cap midis yet produced that I found. A nice, peaceful tune, and I like it. Fits the area nicely.

After church today -- still technically tomorrow for me, actually, since myOtaku goes off EST and I'm on PST -- some friends are coming over to play Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles and whatever else we feel like. (Four Swords Adventures and SSBM will hopefully be in the mix.) It's sort of a double birthday celebration thing for me and one of my ... friends whose birthday was ten days after mine. But that's mainly just an excuse for us to get together and play video games all day. Can't wait for that -- four player Crystal Chronicles is awesome.

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