Category Archives: Newswire

Happy Trails: Leonard Nimoy, 1931 – 2015

Are you sitting down? Sit down. Are you wearing a hat? Take it off. Do you have a catheter? Plug it in.

Leonard Nimoy, whom most of you probably know best from the original (O.G.) 1960’s Star Trek, passed away this morning. He was 83. He had been hospitalized for the last couple days with chest pains related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Don’t smoke, kids.

Writing this post is really quite a strange, detached kind of feeling, for despite seeing the news earlier this week of his hospitalization and therefore being kinda-sorta-almost steeled towards this possibility, it never really felt like the kind of thing that could actually happen. I’ve been watching this guy on and off basically my entire life. That should’ve made the guy immortal. Y’know? He should be running on a beach somewhere with Sean Connery as we speak.

young leonard nimoy
Mr. Nimoy as an impossibly young man

Nimoy had a long and storied career before and after Star Trek. From the scratchy black-and-white westerns that seemingly everyone on the original Trek cast appeared in at one point or another, to the pointed ears that made him a household name, to authoring books in rebellion against (and later in acceptance of) the role that made him most famous, and standout roles on shows like Fringe.

Then there was all the stuff I’m sure he’d rather forget. The Bilbo Baggins song is one such example, part of an album produced during a period in the entertainment business when just about everyone was contractually obligated to moonlight as a singer regardless of interest or skill. Mr. Nimoy was arguably more successful at it than than Shatner at least.[ref]Common People notwithstanding.[/ref]

leonard nimoy sideburns
You wish you could rock sideburns like these.

Better oddities include guest spots as himself on both The Simpsons and Futurama, and more than a few voice credits in video games, from the modern classic Civilization IV to Yoot Saito’s bizarre Dreamcast curiosity Seaman.[ref]Apparently he was even in a recent Kingdom Hearts game, which wrinkles my brain in ways I never thought imaginable.[/ref]

His final appearance was a brief return to Spock in 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, and while the film may not have lit the world aflame, his presence was never not welcome. And if some neckbearded Trekkie says anything to the contrary I will fight them against a reddish-purple backdrop to the music from Amok Time. Fact.

If anyone would like another dose of weekend homework, try the aforementioned Amok Time, plus other Spock highlight reel episodes from the original series such as The Galileo Seven. If you’d like to experience a Spock episode at the opposite end of the quality spectrum, grab a bottle of gin with some green food colouring and brace yourself for Spock’s Brain. The movies will probably hit too close to home right now, but Wrath of Khan, Search for Spock, and Voyage Home are all great for the character. Cap your evening off with the Unification two-parter from The Next Generation if you’re in the mood for something more modern. All are available on Netflix and probably those clicky-clacky “library tapes.”

It’s going to be weird for a while going into this new, post-Nimoy world. If you’re feeling just as uneasy, take solace in the fact that he’s only the third actor from the original Star Trek’s regular cast to pass away so far.[ref]Contrast that statistic with fellow television sci-fi staple Babylon 5, which has lost more actors in 20 years than Star Trek has in 50.[/ref] It would be difficult to live a life longer and more illustrious than he did. His impact was considerable for a “mere” actor and entertainer, which ensures that in some small way, maybe he really is immortal.

A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP

wrath of khan gif

As it happens, Caffeine-Fueled lost a member and fellow Star Trek fan not long ago to heart failure at the crazy young age of 29. If by some chance it turns out that there’s no truth at all behind that cold, scientific Vulcan logic, then perhaps Mr. Nimoy and Parallax are both out there somewhere, taking a look around.

via The New York Times; image credits and general inspiration to TrekCore, various Tumblrs, and TVIV

Weekend Homework: Suikoden Edition

suikoden 2 cover

This week saw the long overdue release of Suikoden and Suikoden II on PSN in all remaining territories, bringing to a close a 15-year availability drought for these games throughout most of the world.

Suikoden has been mostly inactive for several years having not seen a new installment since 2012’s tepid Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki, which was relegated to the ailing PSP and never even left Japan. [ref]CF’s own John Layfield took this bullet for us with his import review, here.[/ref] The last central game in the series was 2006’s Suikoden V. It’s been a pretty rough road since then.

One big reason why we’re all still pretty bummed about the conspicuous absence of fresh Suikoden falls squarely on the strength of those first two games. [ref]More reasons include too many loose ends to count, but that’s a subject for another day.[/ref] Suikoden, while sporting more than a few frayed edges 20 years later both visual and mechanical, is still far better paced compared to most modern RPGs and is still well worth the five dollars and couple dozen hours necessary to play it to completion.

Suikoden II is the real gem in this conversation, however. Most of the biggest problems with the original game were resolved and the rest improved upon greatly, to the point where jumping back to play the first Suikoden after Suikoden II is a rather painful transition, despite how similar the two games appear on the surface. Suikoden II’s streamlines, speeds up, nips and tucks its way to greatness, even before you factor in its genre-leading storytelling. [ref]This combination of quality, rarity, and relative obscurity, kept eBay prices for physical copies well above $200 for most of the last decade or more.[/ref]

Developer/publisher Konami has been notoriously cagey about the current state and future of Suikoden for the last few years until some fairly recent developments tipped the scales a little, such as their frequent livestreams on Twitch. Even more props might be due for the Suikoden Revival Movement; without their efforts, it’s entirely possible that these releases wouldn’t have happened at all. A rare success story in an era of countless online petitions that tend to go nowhere.

Your assignment:

Simple! Just give these games a shot. One, or both, in whatever order you feel like. Release order is of course preferable if you intend on giving Suikoden your full attention, but for the uninitiated or the uncertain, Suikoden II is probably where the franchise really begins to put its best foot forward and so it carries my strongest recommendation for that reason. [ref]And this is despite several very noticeable bugs, too. Be sure to push all the gates you see.[/ref]

Want some bonus credit? Go drop a Like on the SRM page linked above. Maybe tell a friend or two. Read an LP of the PS2 games that aren’t on PSN yet. Write some fanfiction about Gengen’s debilitating chocolate milk addiction. Cosplay as one of the flying squirrels. Y’know, ordinary fan stuff.

Sanrio announces that Hello Kitty is apparently not a cat

Have you ever had the feeling that you’ve been lied to your entire life? That some fundamental constant of the universe has been nothing more than a cheap facade built for some unknowable cynical end? That this is all just some madman’s dream?

Hello Kitty is not a cat. What the hell, right? Quoth Daily Mail:

‘I was corrected — very firmly,’ Yano told the LA Times. ‘That’s one correction Sanrio made for my script for the show. Hello Kitty is not a cat. She’s a cartoon character. She is a little girl.

‘She is not a cat. She’s never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it’s called Charmmy Kitty.’

If the truth of this dream – nay, nightmare – is to believed, Hello Kitty has all along been some kind of reverse-weeaboo concoction detailing what certain Japanese believe to be the average life in England. Just, y’know… with cats in place of cockneys. I guess the English cartoons about rabbits coming to gruesome and untimely ends wasn’t enough?

Are we sure that this isn’t just a cover for some other far more worrying revelation? That false felines haven’t become the false flags in some kind of long delayed fifth column? There can only be three possibilities:

• Hello Kitty, an alien observer wearing a vaguely cat-shaped skin suit.

• Hello Kitty, rogue genetic construct from some forgotten Japanese wetworks lab.

• Hello Kitty, not what she seems, in the same way that the owls from Twin Peaks aren’t what they seem.

simpsons hello kitty factory
“The Lab” prior to the looming invasion. (Simpsons Wiki)

Where’s Glenn Beck when you need him! Until we can track down his latest militia bunker: trust no one.

Happy Trails: Paul Bearer, 1954 – 2013

Are you sitting down? Sit down. Are you wearing a hat? Take it off. Do you have a catheter? Plug it in.

Paul Bearer, also known as William Moody, passed away today. He was 58. This just happened so any exact details of his death are totally nonexistent for now.

Since Paul Bearer was around long before most people’s memories of wrestling characters end, chances are I don’t have to delve too deeply into who he was and what he was known for. But for the totally uninitiated: Paul Bearer was among the best of the crazy cartoonish wrestling managers. Even after the WWE shed most of its comic book stylings, Paul Bearer somehow remained, still clutching that urn.

His final appearance was last year, if memory serves. I had just begun to start watching wrestling again after several years away and the first thing I saw upon returning was Kane randomly locking Paul Bearer into a meat locker. Why? I dunno. Reasons. Some things just never change.

Sure, I’ve given up on rambling about wrestling on this blog[ref]…for now. Consider yourselves warned.[/ref] in favour of simply observing from a safe distance. But it’s hard not to sit up and take notice when someone like Paul Bearer dies. He’s one of those guys we all sort of knew, whether we gave up on wrestling a decade ago (wise) or never watched to begin with (even wiser) or still consider it a guilty pleasure (that would be me.)

It’s a shame that Paul Bearer won’t be around to induct The Undertaker and Kane into the Hall of Fame someday when their careers are finished. For that matter, if the WWE has any common sense, they should fast-track Bearer’s own candidacy to this year’s class. I doubt there would be any objections.

I guess now we’ll never find out exactly what was in that urn. Unless it was just an alternate for The Great Muta’s lamp.[ref]Well, probably not.[/ref]

Rest in peace.

paul bearer wwe buried

via WWE.com (and everyone on Twitter who used to like wrestling in the 90s.)

PSA: Community is Back, October 19th, #SixSeasonsAndAMovie, etc.

One of the rules of blogging is repetition and routine. Keep at it, once a day or more, until people start paying attention. So if you’re getting the nagging feeling that I’ve written this same post about four times already, that’s because I have.

Or it’s just NBC being weird with their scheduling, which for some reason is something I find newsworthy when it happens to affect the best show on that network which not nearly enough people are watching.

Look, Community’s fourth season begins tonight. Either that means something to you or it doesn’t. If it does: Creator Dan Harmon is long gone, but everyone else is still around, including most of the writer’s room (for now.) And of course all those actors y’all go crazy for, even if Chevy Chase could be taking a walk at some point. That trailer is pretty good too, right? So check your local listings. If that’s still a thing people do.

If this doesn’t mean anything to you: well, there’s always Big Bang. Good ol’ safe ‘n’ predictable Big Bang.

Britta speaks for me. Perhaps she speaks for all of us.

Thanks, Kikito!

Game Of Thrones To Be Immortalized In Beer Form

We may not have a Game of Thrones drinking game ready quite yet – until then the aliens will just have to suffice – but at least we’ll have official drinkable merch to inebriate ourselves with when the time comes.

Quoth The AV Club:

According to a press release, HBO has partnered with New York’s Brewery Ommegang to launch a series of Game Of Thrones-themed beers timed to the March 31 third season premiere, beginning with the first entry, Iron Throne Blonde Ale. The 750ml, $8.50-per-bottle beer is the first of four to come that will “directly tie into themes, characters, and nuances” established in the show’s universe.

I’m the guy who keeps interesting specialty bottles as decorations so I can’t wait to add one of these to my collection. I’m sure the Iron Throne Blonde Ale will look pretty awesome next to my Cascadian Secession Dark Ale.

A blonde, though? I can only assume that there’s a Targaryen or Lannister connection there because otherwise “Iron Throne” makes me think of the darker stuff. But while we’re on the subject of oh-so-apt Game of Thrones beer names, how about a “Varys Targaryen Golden Ale” or a “Melisandre Flaming Amber” if those aren’t too obvious?

“Triple-Slap Chocolate Stout.” “Tyrion Lannister’s Dragonfire Lager.” That would be a St. Patrick’s Day special, of course. Any old Arrogant Bastard with Joffrey on the label might work too. “Well-Hung Impish Ale.” Okay, I’ll stop now.

That Charles Barkley RPG Has A Sequel On Kickstarter

I don’t really know how to explain this, so I guess I’ll follow the breadcrumbs from the very beginning.

Barkley Shut Up and Jam! was a basketball game released in 1994 for the Sega Genesis and SNES starring (of course) Charles Barkley. It was pretty much just an unremarkable NBA Jam clone with Barkley’s face on the box. Nothing worth writing home about, although obviously it struck a chord with some people or I wouldn’t be recounting this history to you now.

barkley gaiden
The OG.

14 years later, a small group of amateur developers put together Tales of Game’s Presents Chef Boyardee’s Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, Chapter 1 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa – better known as Barkley Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden – using the RPG Maker and Game Maker software.[ref]For those of you not in the know, these tools are the game development equivalent of stone knives and bearskins.[/ref] It gained considerable notoriety due to being ridiculous, hilarious, and completely batshit insane.

So that brings us to today, as a Kickstarter campaign has begun to fund a proper Gaiden sequel dubbed The Magical Realms of Tír na nÓg: Escape from Necron 7 – Revenge of Cuchulainn: The Official Game of the Movie – Chapter 2 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa. Or, y’know. “Barkley 2.”

If any of this made sense, go throw a few dollars at the project, assuming post-apocalyptic basketball-themed Japanese RPGs not made in Japan are your thing. Maybe it’ll scratch an itch you never knew you had.

Pledge $100 and you’ll even score yourself this amazing body pillow!

barkley 2 cyberdwarf pillow

Yep. This is happening.[ref]For real! Barkley 2 was officially funded as of December 28th 2012, earning $120,335 in pledges. The goal was a mere $35,000.[/ref]

Source: Joystiq.

Japan Attempts World Domination With Whoppers

I feel like I’ve seen this movie before.

Not content to call it day with April’s bacon experiment, Burger King has upped the ante: starting this Saturday, wander down to your local BK in Japan for their new all-you-can-eat buffets which include Whoppers, fries, onion rings, and cokes.

Of course, the event is timed at 30 minutes per session, starting the second you finish paying, and you can’t simply stuff a duffel bag full of Whoppers and walk out, either. Though I can’t imagine they would turn away repeat customers, even if they return every half-hour, basically turning into the Homer Simpson of Japan.

Years ago, a friend of mine would challenge folks to eat 10- or 20-patty burgers at McDonalds or A&W, which was always a riot. It would be nice if promotions like this could be transplanted to North America just so I could satisfy those weird urges again, like seeing how many onion rings I can devour in 30 minutes.

homer simpson all you can eat
That man ate all our shrimp, and two plastic lobsters!

Unfortunately, the obesity epidemic over here would probably result in such a spectacle being greeted with distain. We missed out on the Windows 7 Whopper and the New York Pizza Whopper as well, much to my annoyance. Americans are why rail-thin Canadians like myself can’t have nice things.

Therefore, I challenge everyone on this side of the pond to get healthier. If Japan can get away with this stuff as an occasional treat, so should we!

Source: RN24, great as always.

NASA Set For Big Return Following Obama Re-Election

Now that the election is finally (finally!) over, NASA has started to slowly unveil its future plans, secure in the knowledge that a president who isn’t totally ass-backwards on science is sitting in the White House for another four years.

I’ll give it to you in Gnomish.

Phase 1: Get probes up on the moon to look for water. We already know it’s there because NASA bombed the moon back in 2009 and unearthed rather a lot of it. Turns out that parts of the lunar subterranean are wetter than parts of Earth, such as the Sahara. Before you say “well, duh” keep in mind that this is the moon we’re talking about here.

Phase 2: Land some dudes on an asteroid, presumably to take a closer look at future mining possibilities before the private sector establishes its monopoly. There’s also that mothership buzzing around that really needs to be shot down.

Phase 3: Build the Newt Gingrich lunar colony on the far side of the moon, where A) no one can see it, just to troll moon landing-deniers even further, and B) to give college stoners another reason to throw on Dark Side of the Moon.

Phase 4: Construct new stations at the Lagrange points to facilitate our new moon base and further fiddly-pokery around the rest of the solar system. Mass Effect was right!

Phase 5: Get Your Ass To Mars! If the unexpectedly-long lifespan of Opportunity was any indication (eight years and counting!) Curiosity will undoubtedly still be roaming around by the time we get there, probably quite lonely. Hang in there little buddy.

strong bad moon
Strong Bad has already beaten us there, unfortunately.

Phase 6: ???

Phase 7: Profit!

Before you start packing your bags and flipping the bird to all the landlubbers you can’t wait to leave behind on Earth, keep in mind that all of this will still likely take two or three decades to accomplish. Unless that crazy Mars-based reality show actually takes off, in which case, enjoy your deathtrap, ladies!

It is, of course, really nice to see that the wheels are in motion at all. That said, if the old Soviet Union is ever going to break out of its zombie slumber, now would be a great time.

Source: Space. (Spaaaaace!)

Kickstart Pier Solar HD, Get It On The Dreamcast

If you missed WaterMelon’s Pier Solar the first time, you may be surprised to hear that it was a massive homebrew RPG project released in 2010 for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive. It even involved increasing Sega’s old cartridge memory to 64MB, the only 16-bit release to accomplish that feat in any era.

I wasn’t even aware that 16-bit homebrew was still alive on any of those old platforms. A fresh Genesis release combined with the folks still putting games out on the Commodore 64 means that’s two big tentpoles from my childhood still alive today in some form, which is pretty awesome.

So you can imagine my delight to see a Kickstarter surface to get Pier Solar remade in HD for the Xbox 360, Mac, PC, Linux, and even the Sega Dreamcast of all things. With custom machines and arcade sticks, no less. Oh my. Someone’s been tapping directly into my brain, I think.

If the thought of an original 16-bit RPG uplifted to HD tickles you like it tickles me, hit the link and toss a few coins at the project. WaterMelon needs $139,000 to get this off the ground and there’s even another print run of the Genesis version on the table if you’re feeling generous.

Sure, it’s not the HD remake of Phantasy Star IV or Chrono Trigger that everyone’s always wanted, but it could be the closest we’ll ever get. Get a taste of the original release in the video below.

Source: Joystiq.