RANDOMIZER9.COM, WHATS GOING ON

WHAT’S GOING ON

Finally getting around to writing a Nintendo 3DS review, but in the meantime…

The latest episodes of my podcast “300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz”  feature my favorite beverage (COFFEE!) and I also talk about the insanity of working at home.

I also pitch in on Episode 77 of the Original-Gamer.com podcast and wrote an editorial for them titled “In Defense of the Health Pack.”

My first video for original-gamer.com is now up, check out the “Top 5 Reasons Professor Layton is a JERK!”

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MUSIC, ORIGINAL-GAMER.COM, RANDOM REVIEW, Videogames

RANDOM REVIEW: Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories (English Version)

Nobou Uematsu's 10 Short Stories Cover

Hikkari Pikkari!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Nobuo Uematsu and Arnie Roth last year for Original-Gamer.com.  Uematsu and Roth are responsible for helping take game music out of the living room and into the concert hall with their successful “Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy” orchestral concert series.  After the interview, Mr. Uematsu presented me with a gift, a copy of “Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories.”  I graciously accepted, though I wasn’t sure what to make of it at the time.

“Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” is a children’s album, and as the name implies, each of the ten songs tells a story.  The album is very much a product of Japan, as subjects range from the ordinary to the mythological to the poignant to the fun and the just plain bonkers.

The album starts out with the tropical beats of “Here Comes Conga Boy” followed by the harmonica-laden, “Gimme Gimme,” which is about a kid who goes around asking anyone and everyone for money.  Things take a turn for the odd with “Hikkari Pikkari,” a story about a sprite who’s job is to reflect the sun’s rays off of his shiny bald head and onto the Earth.  “No Worries!” carries a message about being happy with who you are…even if you happen to be a penguin.  “Whistle A Song” is a happy ditty about the voyage of life, and “The Incredible Flying Natsuhiko” features the star-crossed lovers of Tanabata.  The tone goes back to not-so-serious with “Coconut Castaway” and “The Chef Who Used His Noodle” the second of which chronicles the creation of a certain noodle dish.  “Every New Morning” is a lullaby, as a mother wishes her child a good night.  “Revenge of the 5-Foot Swhail” is the rock lament of a Power Rangers-esque villain who laments about his kids being made fun of in school.  The Swhail wishes his adversary would declare: “Without the Swhail I would be lost/Unemployed and eating taco sauce.”

As one would expect out of an album intended for kids, “10 Short Stories” has a pop feel to it.  That said, the songs feature a wide variety of different instruments and styles.  Bongo drums, violins, synthesizers, and electric guitars are found throughout.  As if to reinforce the cuteness of it all, the songs are all sung by a young girl.  While it does get a bit sticky-sweet, that’s probably the point.

Despite the fact that I’m about 30 years beyond its intended audience, I found “Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” to be a quirky album filled with cute, fun, catchy songs with my favorites being “Whistle A Song” and “Gimme Gimme.”  I’ll give it a listen whenever I need a smile, and you’re never too old for that!

4 out of 5 Swhails.

“Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” (English Version) is available for purchase on iTunes. The author received no compensation for this review and can be contacted at edsoliz@gmail.com

I had the pleasure of interviewing Nobuo Uematsu and Arnie Roth last year for Original-Gamer.com. Nobuo and Arnie are partially responsible for taking game music out of the living room and into the concert hall with their successful “Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy” concert series. After the interview, Mr. Uematsu presented me with a gift, a copy of “Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories.” I graciously accepted, though I wasn’t sure what to make of it at the time.

“Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” is a children’s album, and as the name implies, each of the ten songs tells a story. The album is very much a product of Japan: subjects range from the ordinary (Gimme Gimme) to the mythological (The Incredible Flying Natsuhiko) to the poignant (Whistle a Song, Every New Morning) to the fun (Here Comes Conga Boy, Coconut Castaway, The Chef Who Used His Noodle) to the just plain bonkers (No Worries!, Hikkari Pikkari, Revenge of the 5-Foot Swhail).

As one would expect out of an album intended for kids, “10 Short Stories” has a pop feel to it. The music features a wide variety of different instruments and styles. Bongo drums, violins, synthesizers, and electric guitars are found throughout. As if to reinforce the cuteness of it all, the songs are all sung by a young girl. While it does get a bit sticky-sweet, that’s probably the point.

Despite the fact that I’m about 30 years beyond its intended audience, I found “I had the pleasure of interviewing Nobuo Uematsu and Arnie Roth last year for Original-Gamer.com.  Nobuo and Arnie are partially responsible for taking game music out of the living room and into the concert hall with their successful “Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy” concert series.  After the interview, Mr. Uematsu presented me with a gift, a copy of “Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories.”  I graciously accepted, though I wasn’t sure what to make of it at the time.

“Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” is a children’s album, and as the name implies, each of the ten songs tells a story.  The album is very much a product of Japan: subjects range from the ordinary (Gimme Gimme) to the mythological (The Incredible Flying Natsuhiko) to the poignant (Whistle a Song, Every New Morning) to the fun (Here Comes Conga Boy, Coconut Castaway, The Chef Who Used His Noodle) to the just plain bonkers (No Worries!, Hikkari Pikkari, Revenge of the 5-Foot Swhail).

As one would expect out of an album intended for kids, “10 Short Stories” has a pop feel to it.  The music features a wide variety of different instruments and styles.  Bongo drums, violins, synthesizers, and electric guitars are found throughout.  As if to reinforce the cuteness of it all, the songs are all sung by a young girl.  While it does get a bit sticky-sweet, that’s probably the point.

Despite the fact that I’m about 30 years beyond its intended audience, I found “Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” to be a quirky album filled with cute, fun, catchy songs; my favorites being “Whistle A Song” and “Gimme Gimme.”  I’ll fire it up whenever I need a smile, and you’re never too old for that!

4 out of 5 Swhails.

“Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” (English Version) is available for purchase on iTunes.  The author received no compensation for this review and can be contacted at edsoliz@gmail.com
Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” to be a quirky album filled with cute, fun, catchy songs; my favorites being “Whistle A Song” and “Gimme Gimme.” I’ll fire it up whenever I need a smile, and you’re never too old for that!

4 out of 5 Swhails.

“Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” (English Version) is available for purchase on iTunes. The author received no compensation for this review and can be contacted at edsoliz@gmail.com

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CONS, IKKICON, JUST SAYING, ORIGINAL-GAMER.COM, RANDOM STOPS, RANDOMIZER9.COM, Videogames

19 Things I Learned During Ikkicon V

So far at cons, I’ve been an attendee, worked at tables in Artist Alley, been part of a few panels and even played in a concert.  After volunteering to help run the game room at Ikkicon V this past weekend as part of the Alamo Gaming / Original-Gamer.com group, I’m wondering what there is left to do at a con short of being a big guest or actually running one.

In any event, I learned quite a few things over Ikkicon’s three days, some of which I’m not sure I wanted to, but that’s life.  So without further ado:

  1. If a member of your group has B.O. issues, your time in the hotel room will SUCK.  We had a guy that stunk up the hotel room on the first night and it remained funky for the duration, which made going back a VERY unpleasant affair.  I think my nose said “no mas” sometime Saturday night and went on strike.
  2. Unless you are in charge of something or a guest, don’t expect to get a badge with your name on it, I was given someone ELSE’S badge, so I tore off part of a sticky note and put my name over it. Bleh.
  3. Always pre-register and get your badge on Thursday night if you can, because if things go wrong during registration they go HORRIBLY WRONG. Luckily I didn’t have to wait in it, but the reg line was INSANE.
  4. Plan all you want, but something will always throw you a curve ball. I packed some microwaveable food to chow on so as to avoid overpriced hotel food and unnecessary excursions, and you guessed it, there was no microwave in the room.
  5. If there is a food that you enjoy to the point where you think could live off of it, then pack plenty of it along.  You will discover whether you really CAN live off of it.  Lucky for me, I still find Kashi granola bars and peanut butter crackers to be tasty.
  6. I am a Coke fiend.  I was dying for a soda on Saturday, so I said ‘heck with it’ and dropped $2.50 for a 20 oz bottle of sweet, sweet caffeine at the coffee shop in the lobby.  I wouldn’t have minded the price too much, but it wasn’t even that cold, if I’m gonna pay twice as much for a soda there should be some frost on the bottle…just sayin’
  7. The optimist in me says that we ran out of hand sanitizer Saturday night, the pessimist in me says that people will steal ANYTHING no matter how trivial.
  8. If you plan on running something at a con, expect that it is all you are going to do at the con.  I spent most of the weekend making sure no one hogged the Rock Band 3 station.  I took a few trips away to say hi to friends and grab some food on Saturday morning but as far as panels and events…nada.
  9. If you plan on running something at a con and doing it fairly, expect that jerks are going to think you are a jerk for doing so.  I repeatedly told people that I did not want them camping at the Rock Band 3 just waiting to play again. I got a lot of ugly looks in return, but I also got compliments from people who appreciated that I was doing my best to be fair.
  10. Geeks love “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Still Alive” and will sing along if they are played loud enough.
  11. They also really like “Du Hast.” For the life of me, I don’t get it, and frankly, I think it’s the German thing. Heck, I still like “99 Luftbaloons” from back in the day but unlike “Du Hast” it actually has lyrics.
  12. “Freebird” is just too cotton-pickin’ long.  My Xbox 360 locked up during it, and at another event, a guitar controller’s batteries gave out while it was playing.
  13. Having a 24-hour videogame room is a BAD IDEA. The problem with a 24-hour videogame room is that you need to have people in there all the time to keep stuff from walking out the door and to assist with the occasional system lock-up and dead controller batteries.
  14. If you are in charge of something, GET ALL THE DETAILS IN WRITING and have it signed by whomever is in charge.  We had some behind-the-scenes drama go down that could have been avoided if everyone had been on the same page from the start.  None of this ‘he said, she said’ business, just a signed piece of paper that says what has been decided on so there are no questions.
  15. Sometimes you must go down to go up.  If you find yourself waiting forever and a day to get on an ‘up’ elevator to get back to your room, go into one that is going down…it’ll come back up soon enough.
  16. If you don’t want to be harassed by the valets for your keys, park about 2 carlengths away from the hotel entrance.
  17. Owning your own dolly or hand truck rocks, if you are going to be working cons frequently, GET ONE.  Heck, even if you aren’t, get one anyway.
  18. When its all over and you go home, you will feel like crap, collapse onto your bed Sunday night, sleep like a rock, and will probably will not be back to normal until Tuesday.
  19. Despite all of the above, you will get to hang out with lots of cool people, have lots of fun and it will be totally worth it.

Ikkicon was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun.  If the group I was involved in gets invited back, then I would be happy to come back next year…packing a microwave.

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CREATIVE, ORIGINAL-GAMER.COM, RANDOM REVIEW, TECH, Videogames, Writing

Reviewing Musings

Reviewing videogames‭ ‬sounds‭ ‬like a‭ ‬really cool thing to do:‭ ‬you get to play games before they are released,‭ ‬you get to keep them if they are downloadable games,‭ ‬and well,‭ getting to play ‬games‭ ‬without having to pay for them is nice, too.‭  ‬I’m not lucky enough to actually get‭ ‬paid to review games‭ (yet‭!) ‬but‭ writing and editing ‬for original-gamer.com gave‭ ‬me the opportunity to attend E3‭ ‬back in July.  Totally worth it.

So yeah, on paper, reviewing‭ ‬games‭ ‬sounds like loads of fun,‭ ‬but in practice,‭ ‬it loses a little bit of its luster.‭  ‬When I’m not playing awesome games like‭ ‬Rock Band‭ ‬3‭ ‬or Kirby’s Epic Yarn‭ ‬I’m struggling through crapfests like Power Gig or enduring kiddie games like EyePet.

Yeah.  EyePet.  That’s hardcore.

The most direct effect of reviewing games is that it has turned playing games into work (albeit volunteer work).  Its a mental thing: instead of playing games because I want to, I now play them because I have to.  It gets a little annoying at times when I have a stack of games I need to plow through or when I get asked to play games in genres I don’t particularly enjoy such as fighting or driving.  The most aggravating bit about the whole thing that it takes time away from games that I want to play, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

The first thing I do when I get assigned a new game to review is I write the review’s introduction.  I like to have it done before I even start playing, and in my opinion it should give the reader some context in regards to my relation to the game.  Is it something I have been looking forward to, or something I’ve never heard of?

When I play a game for review, I keep my laptop handy so that I can take notes while I’m playing it.  That way after I’m done playing the game I just have to flesh out the bullet points I have marked down.  I’m not sure if I should be admitting this, but I don’t always finish games I review.  Usually its because I don’t expect to see anything new after having played a game for so many hours.  Let’s be honest, after a certain point, few games really offer anything surprising in terms of gameplay.

One game that bit that strategy in the pants was Gladiator Begins. I played through about 30 days of the campaign, probably about seventy or eighty nearly-identical fights, figured there was nothing else in the game, and wrote my review.  I went back to the game and soon discovered that the levels did start to occasionally change up, and upon seeing the box in a store, I learned that there were even fights against animals.  D’oh.  It was either my fault for giving up on the game too early or the devs fault for taking too long to open up the game’s interesting parts. Probably a little bit of both, oh well.

Writing reviews is a balancing act.  On the one hand, I don’t want to look like a fanboy by gushing praise all over a good game, nor do I want to simply verbally vomit all over a bad one for the sake of being entertaining.  Great games have minor flaws that have to be explored, and bad games sometimes have good ideas that were not executed well.

Picking out a numerical score can also be a bit of a headache, because I want my score to reflect what I have written.  I still read reviews myself, and I get annoyed just like everyone else when the two don’t jive.  I go by what the site says on the “About” page, supposedly we work on the ‘bell curve’ model where the middle point is average.  Despite the occasional “10” handed out, nobody’s really perfect.

At the end of the day, though, the site editor is the guy that says what goes up on the site, and while I haven’t always agreed with Oscar, I think he’s doing a good job for the most part.  Working with him and the rest of the original-gamer.com crew has been lots of fun.

And now, back to EyePet…whee

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