Thursday, February 22, 2007

Turtle Traded for Duck, Media Unimpressed.

While today's Jones-Dixon trade appears to be & is generally be considered 1 of those something-for-something no-one-really-wins but no-one-really-loses either kinda trades, I would like to posit the following:

1. When the Blazers win, or are in a position to win, a game, it seems to me they are in said position b/c they have been proverbially "taking it to the rim." This is also known as "being aggressive." What it really is, is "not settling for jumpers." The PHX-POR game Reviewiera attended was a stellar example of this. Admittedly, Portland made a lot of jumpers & 3s to put that game into overtime, but when the 3s really worked, that is, were the correct shot to take, was in the aftermath of some old-fashioned trench warfare in the paint - either a drive/slash or a post-up.

2. It has been pointed out quite a bit that Dixon & Jones are near identical in statistics, 'tho Dixon is (rightly) considered to have the sweeter outside shot. I don't disagree w/ this, but looky at this '06/'07 year stat comparison:

In 55 games (totalling 1,243 minutes), Dixon shot .823 at the free throw line in 72 attempts.

In 38 games (totalling 864 minutes), Fred Jones shot .819 at the free throw line in 88 attempts.

Last time I checked, the easiest way to get to the free throw line is to drive into the paint where those guys w/ the other jerseys are. And in 2/3rds of the minutes in 2/3rds of the games Jones got to the line 16 more times.

3. Conclusion(s). Good trade for Portland, a team for which aggressive interior offense should produce Ws, mainly via trips to the charity stripe. The charity stripe is the new wave of offense. Just ask D. Wade.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Big Game Hunting Dead Consoles.

Us Reviewierans thirst us some Goodwill. 'Member when you'd go to Powells & find yr self a skiffy paper-back for 2-3 yua?1 Well now Powells demands up & over 5-7 wing-wangs for the same damn potboiler. Enter the Goodwill. 1st edition of Rudy Rucker's Wetware? 1.29. Effingers A Fire in the Sun? 1.99. What I'm talking about.

Goodwill, as covered here frequently & w/ painstaking detail, is also ripe hunting grounds for dead console coveting dingbats like ourselves. Fat scored his ol' Dreamcast from a Goodwill back six+ months ago. I've grabbed a copy of Drilldozer for the GBA SP (suspiciously still in box & shrinkwrapped). I got a PS1 (the adorable little 1) for 9.99 @ goodwill but the sucker's motor is burned out (sadness). Back in November I & the missus found ourselves an Intellivision II w/ 8 (eight) games at the Bins for prob 6yua or so.

Fat & me, we got this thing where I call the Goodwill down @ 6th & Harrison or thereabouts "my Goodwill" & he calls the one up in the NE quad' "his goodwill." 'Bout 2 months ago he txts me that he's at his goodwill looking at a Sega Genesis under-the -glass for 20 wing-wangs, & do I want him to get it for me.2 I sez: "sure!" It has 2 controllers & no cables & it sits on a coffee table for a month.

Sometime a week or 2 ago I head over to my Goodwill on a lark & look under the glass & BOOM there's a 'Cast w/ 2 controllers for 20. Its crowded 'round the glass case so I wander back to the shelf & again, BOOM, right there there's the console-to-TV cable for a Dreamcast in my hand. Now I'm getting somewhere. I dig some more & find the console-to-TV cable for the Genesis! There's a Genesis behind me on the shelf & I make sure it fits. Also a sticky Dreamcast which I check to see if the 'Cast cable fits in. Both are okay. Alright, alrite, I flip the Genesis there over & read the sticker on the bottom to find out what kind of AC/DC power cable adapter voltage thingy it needs. It sez "use Genesis 2130 AC Adaptor Only." Back into the cable-shelf jungle! Found it! One 2130. What 'bout the Dreamcast AC Adaptor? 120V. Gotcha. Oh, here's a 125V. Good enough.

Back to the case, where the crowd's cleared. "Lemme see that Dreamcast." Look it over in my paws. Looks good. "Lemme see that memory card, too." Okay. Lets do it. 36 wing-wangs & change later I'm heading home w/ a Dreamcast, all the cables, & all the cables for the Genesis. Next day I get on the infobahn & order me a copy of Space Channel 5 for 2yua.

On Valentines Day I hit the CDGameExchange on Hawthorne & grab Sonic, Sonic 2, & Sonic & Knuckles (lock-on technology!) for a whopping 7.50!!

I go home. I plug everything in. I open Space Channel, I hit the power button. It works. Repeat for the Genesis w/ Sonic. Jackpot. Lets commemorate the moment...

image hosted by flickr.

Few days later, past 2 stages of Space Channel already. Goodwill. They have a copy of Streets of Rage 2. $5? That doesn't sound right. Back to my Hawthorne merchant. Streets of Rage 2 will run you a whopping 15 there! Yikes! Drop 10 on Vectorman & Altered Beast anyway, head BACK to the Goodwill & grab that SofR2 for the fiver. What a day! I'm loving it!

What's best is that I would have never guessed that the enjoyment of playing video games is so greatly enhanced when you can jump back & forth between different systems, especially when those systems are at least 5 years apart.


1 Yua. The Reviewieran 'quilivent of the dollar coin. Same in value as a wing-wang, but easier to use in a vending machine.
2 Under the Glass. Every goodwill has a glass counter w/ "more valuable" electronics & jewelry in it. 'Tho I have reason to beleive that video game consoles stored in the glass may not be in any better or worse condition than ones out "on the shelf" where fuktoid consumerists throw 'em around w/o the respect they deserve, 1 has to admit that a console under-the-glass has prob been handled less, & is thus more likely to, y'know, work. These systems are usually wrapped in a piece of packing tape attaching a controller or (usually) 2 to it, maybe also some cables.

Patlabor Mobile Police.

Patlabor remains the greatest japanimation television series I've ever seen. Its difficult to put into words given the breadth of the series (an original straight-to-video miniseries, two regular TV seasons1, followed by a 3rd direct-to-video season, & including 3 feature length films) & the largely capsule-nature of the vast majority of the series.2 But considering this, it prob isn't much of a surprise that the strongest suit of Patlabor is the members of Tokyo Police Special Vehicles Unit 2 (SV-2).

SV-2 - Noah Izumi, Asuma Shinohara, Ota, Kanuka Clancy, Cpts. Goto & Nagano, drivers , & mechanics Shige & Sakaki - is especially likeable given its "regular people in a sciffy setting" nature. They are just as prone to the foibles & habits of you or me, despite having to pit two mecha (the gorgeous Ingram AV98s) against all matter of "labor crime."3 Obviously this runs counter to the uber-competence of the usual combat mech-pilot (Gundam stuff, VOTOMS' Chirico Cuvie), as well as the high-concept dramatic psychology of Evangelion.

Plus, its funny.

'Tho I should stop be surprised at such discoveries, I, well, was surprised to discover there have been multiple Patlabor video games. I'm glad the 1st one I stumbled upon was the following, for which console it was made I'm not sure, but its reeks of Sega Genesis-era programming...

More alarmingly, there's apparently been a PS1 game...4

Ugh. Japanese language but the commands are clearly in english. Might have to dust off the ol' PS1.


1 These 2 reg. tv seasons being the best.
2 There are some smaller multi-episode story arcs nestled inside the 3 "seasons," & obviously the films contain more elaborate, linear stories, but for the most part individual episodes are stand-alones. This makes the series infinitely better suited for the occasional re-watchig - you can essentially pick an episode at random.
3 The franchise is surprisingly adept at framing the real-implications of a world w/ mecha in it. Mamoru Oshii, the director of the 1st 2 movies, was so good at it that his work on Patlabor secured him the directing reins for Ghost in the Shell in 1995.
4 Alarming because its means I could prob own it. & I really really really don't need to start messing around w/ the PS1 again. I've done that tour of duty.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Game Notes: Suns @ Blazers.

Feb. 6, '07
Suns 109, Blazers 102.
Amare Stoudemire. 36pts, 9reb.
Zach Randolph. 33pts, 10 reb.

  • Wayyy up in Row P tonight. W/in seconds of sitting down we realize we're sitting behind like 8 deaf jr.-high schoolers. At least Fat won't get as many dirty looks as usual.

  • One of these kids REALLY LIKES defensive rebounds.

  • The next thing we notice is guy in our section to the right & down a few rows. Chubby. Balding but still rocking several inches of hair. Wearing a denim jacket that sez "RIP CITY" on the back, applied apparenly by himself w/ either duct tape or some sort of fabric gluestuff, maybe even it had glitter at somepoint but it all fell off. At halftime we watched in awe as this dude absolutely DEMOLISHED a hotdog. He ate it like it was going to run away if he didn't eat it fast enough.

  • "Watching Jamall Magloire shoot makes me want to slit my wrists."

  • Blazers fortunes basically hinged all night on whether they settled for jumpshots or decided to take it inside.

  • At somepoint in the 3rd, I think, the Blazers go down 14. During the timeout there's this name-that-song contest on the floor. Its 5 beach boys songs. Of the guy & the lady playing, the lady names 1 song, & the guy can't name any. When neither of them has an answer for the 5th song, they are robustly & throughly BOOED by the crowd. The team's down 14 but the crowd's booing two people who don't know thier beach boys! Yikes!

  • the Blazers come out of that timeout & cut the lead quickly back to single digits. We deduce Nate pointed out to the players "see, the crowd's letting those two beach boys no-nothings have it, but they haven't given up on you, have they!"

  • During the break before the 4th, lame mascot Blaze does his trampoline dunks. The PA guys sez: "fans he makes it look easy!" I add: "like going to the pharmacy!" Fat gives me a strange look. The PA guy sez: "the louder you cheer the higher he goes!" I don't have to say anything on that one. Fat gets up & goes to try & get another beer. On his way out he walks past Denim Jacket, shoots me a look & fake rubs the guys' bald spot. I'm almost reduced to tears. I look to my right & the 3 guys sitting behind us are looking at me w/ these huge grins on thier faces. We all get a little hysterical.

  • Jack is more aggressive going to the hoop than we remember.

  • During the t-shirt giveaway I darkly remember the last days of the Maurice Cheeks era, when the t-shirt giveaway was routinely as loud as the Rose Garden would get.

  • I forgot the nice thing about sitting wayyy in the back is you can basically just stand the entire last 4 minutes of a game & not be worried about blocking someone. There's also not anyone sitting next to you so you can sort of pace a bit.

  • My favorite part of the night is in the final stretch of regulation where Randolph basically scores the 6 points in a row, keying the final stretch where the Blazers finally tie it up. Please note the Blazers never lead the entire game. Zach gets a big ovation.

  • Down said stretch of the 4th, Nate uses a 6-man rotation. Zach at center, Trav @ the four, the other 3 spots filled by Jack, Roy, Webster, & Udoka. This. I. Like.

  • Udoka ends up defending a posting Amare. Amare fall down. Amare look at ref. Ref makes "get up, Amare, I ain't calling anything" gesture w/ his hands.

  • Travis Outlaw, whom Fat calls "Troutlaw," which is news to me, misses a layup game winner. The incredibly-chippy-all-night-crowd loses a lot of energy. I think the team does, too.

  • Overtime. This bizarre video plays to the tune of Welcome to the Jungle w/ a montage of downtown Portland. Sorry, but images of light rail & fire engines & gourmet restaurant kitchens doesn't strike me as a "jungle." Maybe if a shot or two or three of the Magic Gardens or Mary's Spot, then we can talk.

  • Overtime. Blazers go back to jumpshots out of the gate. They almost fight back into it but then Barbosa hits a 3. Ugh.

  • Filtering out, Fat claims to have seen a roughly 13-year-old blazer fan lurch aggressively at a like 9-year-old PHX fan in a full Nash uni. What was I saying about an unsually chippy home crowd?

  • Post-game. Beams w/ beer backs. Fat shows someone the neatest factoid in the Blazers game program/mini-magazine thingy - that Raef LaFrentz's "is listening to... Def Leppard" & his "favorite food... shrimp cocktail." Now knowing this its nigh impossible to see LaFrentz & not think of him pre-game, eating take-out shrimp cocktail & singing along to "Photograph" on his iPod.

  • -d.d.

    Thursday, February 01, 2007

    because YOU demanded it!!

    For those of us who're obsessed with the NBA and Final Fantasy ('s rhetoric), there's now:

    Found this, duh, on kotaku this morning.


    Chaos Field

    It is difficult to indulge in the Dreamcast community without hearing a great deal about "shmups". Or, as I call 'em, "flying space shooters". Even though they're often not set in space. Shut up!

    Anyhow, there is an absolutely primal pull to these games. Once you realize you can interact with moving pictures, probably the first thing you want is to make pictures go by very fast. Second, you want to make things blow up (=make/control pictures of 'splosions). Thus, the two original genres of video game: driving/racing, where pictures go by quickly; space shooters, where pictures go by quickly and Blow Up!! There are times when I absolutely want to play nothing else.

    This dovetails beautifully with the 'Cast, since for the past couple years, new shumps come out for the little grey guy!* On yon Nets, I had researched a bit and determined that Karous was the most interesting to me, (pretty!!), that Radilgy was a stout second, and that I gotta buy Rez** (to play) and Ikaruga to cement my nerdly bona fides.***

    Last Hope, Trigger Heart Excelia and Trizeal didn't rate for me, for whatever reason.

    So, after all this planning, all this research and effort, I found myself at the mall on Portland's recent Snow Day, buying Chaos Field. Review-wise, this game was pretty much a non-entity. Some authority named "Randorama" held it to be pretty thoroughly mediocre, whereas the delightful Richard Davies thought it was super-fun.

    What strikes me most about it, aside from the great music is that this most simple of genres, this pick-up-and-play arcade staple, has somehow morphed into a bafflingly difficult "Hardcore" game style.****

    Once, you could move around, touching nothing (maybe a powerup now and again) and firing, ever firing. Maybe you'd have two different attacks, and you might have an area-attack option. If you were lucky, that area attack would destroy enemy fire, raising your defensive options to two. With one or two exceptions, my beloved Iridion II and the less-compelling Nanostray both hewed to these ancient conventions. But Chaos Field?

    You fly around, not touching enemies. You can touch chargeups, but it's better to collect them by holding a button down for a bit, which prevents you from doing anything else (firing, etc.). You fire, ever are you firing. There's a second gun, too, an area-attack option that you have to charge. And a defensive weapon that you can charge. And you have a sword! This sword can attack enemies at VERY close range, but its primary purpose is to swipe-away enemy fire in like a 270-degree arc around you. Which you have to do a lot. A LOT. Because this is a "bullet hell" game. The screen is usually completely filled with enemy fire, and I have yet to discover exactly where the fabled "hit box" on my craft might be. And everything happens within very demanding time limits. And there's a bunch of combo-based scoring options that'll make you want to finish each stage with a flurry of charged attacks.

    These already establish substantial increases in complexity for the genre. Even leaving aside the wholly insane bullet hell crap, the genre's clearly changed a bunch since I was shoving quarters into Raiden. And all this change comes before I mention Chaos Field's actual claim to originality, pace Randorama: you can play in either of two "fields". In the Order Field, you hit less hard, and so do they, and they give out lots of chargeups. In the Chaos Field, you hit super-hard, and your charged attacks can autotarget enemy fire. But they hit much harder, too, and the fire patterns are even more challenging to...navigate. Survive.

    I've got like ten fucking hours in this thing and have made it to the third stage (of 15) exactly one time. P'raps this is due to my predilection for playing whilst intoxicated ("shit, bitch, I'm drunk right now!" is sorta the Contradiction family motto), and p'raps it's a sign of my badness at video games.

    However, as Tycho says somewhere, we're in this for increasing challenges coupled with increasingly-cool visual rewards. And in the Chaos Field, when you target a whole BUNCH of shit at one time? Man. It looks really nice. Usually once a game starts to go south for me, I just flip into that field and do charge-attacks until I'm out of continues, just so I can see some pretty pictures.

    Anyways, until Radio Allergy comes out, or until I talk myself into dropping a vasty chunk of dough on an import shooter, Chaos Field will serve my shooty needs most adequately.


    *There's reasons for this, having to do with the existence of magic places in Japan called "arcades" and the Dreamcast-like innards of some arcade cabinets. Some chick named Naomi is apparently responsible for this, but I (a) understand this point imperfectly and (b) am bored by it (this point).

    **Rez is by the dude who did Space Channel 5, so. Must-have, obviously.

    ***Actually, looking over the links while I compiled this, Radilgy is more attractive to me than Karous. Since the former'll see a Gamecube port (!) in the next couple months, I'm going to buy it. And while I've got you here, in this buried footnote, I shall offer an embarassing admission. I bought Chaos Field for the Cube. I want to support the 'Cast, I want to buy imports...but I scored this one for 15. Radio Allergy will be 20. If I stuck to my grey guns, I'd drop sixty fucking dollars. Sixty! Really hard to talk myself into that. I'm sorry.

    ****Iridion II also had an absolutely great soundtrack. Nanostray too, maybe? Haven't made it far enough to tell yet.