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Malik (1/17/11)

First things first; I know a lot of Seattle fans who turned off the game early yesterday.  I know of a few who quit around the end of the third quarter.  Well, you people missed out on a damned fun fourth quarter.  Yes, the game was nearly impossible to win at that point, but Seattle tried and made for fifteen minutes of fun.

Well, the Seahawks are now done for the year.  It was one weird ride, but it's not all bad.  For one thing, this was always supposed to be a rebuilding year, and as one the team succeeded.  Seattle still has some questions left in a few positions, but the wide receiver area is clear with Deon Butler (assuming he can return from that horrible broken leg), Stokely (who showed that he still has plenty of gas in his engine as a veteran), Obomanu (who has long been a good backup for the always hurting and hurt receiver corps), Golden Tate (who should do a lot more next year now that he knows the NFL system better), and the amazing come-back player of the year; Big Mike Williams.  It also looks good with a tight end who is amazing still with the new system; Carlson.  Add in Robinson, a fullback who can block and run while also pulling off a wild card, if he is given a good play call.  Even the running game, in and of itself, isn't too bad with Washington (also one of the top return men in the league), Forsett and Lynch pulling a shifting running package with speed and power options.  I even think Hasselbeck has another year in him (but now is the time to find a true QB of the future, and it sure isn't Whitehurst).  Even parts of the defense look great with Earl Thomas, Tatupu, Red Bryant, and Mebane all going strong.  Plus, who could forget Lawyer Malloy and his amazing ability to be a veteran who looks as strong and as fast as a rookie?

The real problems are some of the long standing ones.  The offensive line is still sad.  It wasn't bad to start the season with, but I think Seattle must need some new trainers and medical staff since Seattle remains in the top of the NFL for injuries.  Also, Seattle doesn't carry enough worthy backups to cover when an injury comes up.  In fact, if Seattle can either stop the injuries or pick up some worthy backup players, next year can be amazing.

Injuries is probably about the number one cause for Seattle's numerous losses.  The rush defense died when Red Bryant went out for the season, and the offensive line kept struggling to keep Hasselbeck safe and to find any way to allow Forsett and Lynch to make any running plays.  I'm willing to bet if Carlson didn't get one of the most painful looking injuries I've seen in a long time yesterday that the Bears would not have had some an easy ride into the conference championship game.  That, or if Seattle had a good backup tight end and not just Morrah, who just doesn't look ready for prime time.  It also would help if Seattle didn't drop passes like Pete Carroll drops players from the roster.

In the end, I think Pete Carroll needed to be more prepared for injuries, and I think the defensive and offensive coordinators need to either be replaced or open the damned playbook and allow some less predictable calls (enough with the fade route on offense).  Once he found a game plan that could get away from Carlson's absence, the game looked far better for Seattle.  Of course, at that point there was 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter and Seattle was down 28-3.  Not much can be done in that situation, but Seattle still looked damned good making three touch downs in a span of about eight minutes.  Still, as the saying goes; too little, and far too late.  Still, I have to say the final quarter, for being such a blowout, was pretty exciting.  I never counted on Seattle coming back, but a small part of my mind started to say, "what if..." before both failed on-side kick attempts.

The Bears, in all reality, just don't look like the number 2 seed for the NFC.  They are not all bad, but they look like they will meet a painful end of the season when the Packers come to town and show them what a real playoff team can do. 

Now that it's done for Seattle, I only have one fading interest in the NFL for this nearly done season.  I want Green Bay to beat the Bears and I want the Jets to beat the Steelers.  For one thing, as a Seattle fan, I have to hate on Pittsburgh (Super Bowl XL).  More so, I want to see how many heads explode when the season is done and it can be said that a losing team knocked off the defending champions in the playoffs, and then the Super Bowl consisted of two wild card teams.  It's the type of anarchy and chaos that will make for some damned fun reading in the sports pages on how seeding is out of control and all that crap. 

I guess I do have two other bits of interest in the NFL until next season begins; I hope Seattle drafts some good players to fill holes in the long term (especially finding the QB of the future) and that the NFL continues as normal and there isn't some lockout bullshit in the near future.

Anyway, to make one final point clear, I think the Seahawks did damned good this year.  Some would say they were a humiliation on the NFL by making the post season with a 7-9 record.  I see a team that won its division during a major rebuilding year.  I see a team that had more wins this year than the last few years.  I see a team that has found some good long term prospects and franchise favorites.  I see a player (Big Mike Williams) who worked his ass off, got no special favors, and showed that a person can fail on big expectations only to get a well earned second chance.  I see a team that has the basic parts in place and just needs to fill in the cracks (find a healthy O-line for the running game and to protect the QB).  I see a team that did more than they should have in a year that should have been a wash.  A lot of people called the Saints game last week "Seattle's Super Bowl" and I have to mildly agree.  Well, we won in that big game.  Next year, Seattle will just have to improve and make it another round into the playoffs.


Malik (1/19/11)

I'm getting a bit slow in posting recently. It's mainly due to too many things on my plate at once and not much time to form a coherent thought about life in general. Anyway, that's just my excuse.

I did get LittleBigPlanet 2 last night. I can't say much about the game, since it took too long to install and to download all the bonus items tied in to getting the Collector's Edition.

I can say that I am glad the game has a nice way of incorporating saves from the original. I don't know how the beginning tutorial stage plays out on a fresh LBP2 save file, but if you have a LBP save on the system, it will skip the basics. More so, it will mention that you already should know something and then the lesson will primarily be skipped. This saved me a bit of time with the entire start segment, while not skipping any of the plot relevant information. Definitely a good thing when you have about three minutes to play due to the long install time.

I can also say I'm pretty happy with Amazon right now. I pre-ordered LBP2 with the shipping option for delivery on release day. I believe it was a simple $1 shipping option, but that doesn't mean the shipping is the low end type. My game was shipped Monday evening and showed up yesterday evening with a "Next Day Air" UPS shipping method. I had previously lost my lost for getting pre-orders of games from Amazon. It came down, in the past, to getting games like Picross DS and Smash Bros. Melee about a week to three weeks late despite having a long standing pre-order in place. If Amazon can keep up on this delivery on release date option, I'll be happy to shift back to Amazon and away from Gamestop. Especially since Gamestop seems to have their own delayed delivery for in store purchases of non-major titles (like Golden Sun DS coming two days late since it's not a mainstream title).

On another note of giving second chances...I bought Lufia for the DS a month ago. Due to other games (Professor Layton 3, Fallout 3, and all that), I didn't start playing Lufia until two days ago. I only bought the game to really support the idea of Lufia continuing. I expected more garbage, since the third (GB Color) and fourth (GBA) Lufia titles were flat out crap. Add in that Lufia for the DS is a retelling of Lufia 2 (one of my top RPGs of all time) and eliminates the turn based party system for a real time Zelda style with exchangeable characters in combat, and I had no reason to expect anything good. Then when you take how much the plot has been altered to fit the new play system, it only looks worse.

Well, I don't like the new plot direction. I think it's really just awkward that no character ever seems to permanently leave the party (plot wise, Tia, your first partner, leaves early on due to a love triangle that she cannot win in the original Lufia 2), you start with one of the temporary characters as your tour guide of sorts (Professor Lexus), and the mysterious guide of the first game who would pop in and out in times of certain doom is now a constant non-combat party member (Iris). It all feels weird in the end if you love Lufia 2 on the SNES.

The combat also feels strange since no character ever really learns new moves. Each character has a normal attack, a special attack, and a charged version of each (except Tia who only gets a charged version of her normal attack, but no charged special). You can use the special attacks to solve some minor puzzles, but that's it. No new moves are learned, at least that I've seen. You can change what special attack you use, but I've yet to see anything unique beyond maybe a small damage boost (I should probably read the instructions about this). So, once you get all six party members, you are literally done with new moves and abilities. All you have left is equipment changes, leveling up, and an ability increasing system to try to keep it all fresh enough. Quite frankly, it seems underwhelming.

So, with that all in mind, I cannot believe someone took my favorite game of my childhood and turned it into some grotesque creation not fit for the world. Most of all, I am amazed that I am enjoying it. For some reason, the game is addictive. It's simple, and can be vague, but it is something I just cannot stop playing. It's like eating the free bread at an all-you-can-eat restaurant. You know you shouldn't have it, and you know it's not conductive to your enjoyment...but it is so damned good that you just want to keep eating it.

I also must say, the production values are really high for something that came from a series that usually went light on presentation. The portraits are well made for each character, and there is a lot of voice acting hidden in this tiny little DS cart.

Is this game for everyone? No. Is it for Lufia fans? Despite being such a twisting of the original Lufia 2, I think it is. It's like the Cliff Notes version of the original (still better to dust off the SNES and enjoy the real Lufia 2), and this makes it a fun on-the-go snack of a game. It is also a perfect game to hurt the brains of Lufia fans. I want to hate it with every fiber of my being, but I want to support Natsumi and the Lufia name...and I am having fun while hating myself for it.


Malik (1/21/11)

This is the most depressing weekend of the year for me. It comes around this time of year every year, but this weekend is it for 2011. This is the first weekend without watching my Seahawks play, and knowing it's not just a bye week...unless you want to call it the longest damned bye week of the year. With a potential lockout next season, maybe it will be the longest bye week of all my days enjoying football.

Anyway, if I had to have any enthusiasm for the NFL, I think I'd be cheering for the Jets and the Packers. On one hand, it would really mess with the whole argument that the seeds this year were crap if two wildcard teams make it to the Super Bowl. On the other hand, I want the Jets for an obvious reason (Seattle fans are not Steelers fans after Super Bowl XL). As for the Packers, I like how Aaron Rodgers looks and I love watching the great skill set that is Green Bay's offense. They are probably the most balanced team still in it and that will make for a good team to keep watching.

On a related note, after watching the Bears beat a floundering Seattle team last weekend, and after reading comments from Chicago players about Soldier Field, I have to say that something needs to be done. I don't like to talk trash about any team or their home field. I mean Seattle, in the past, had some ugly stadiums and arenas. I like Soldier Field when it comes to the entire building. However, the NFL or Chicago needs to do something about the actual field.

Once winter is here, the turf is nothing short of a swamp of melted mud and the most pathetic looking natural turf in any field in professional sports. Winter is not nice to natural turf in Chicago, but also having upwards up nearly a dozen high school games on the same field per week during the NFL season only makes it worse. I do love natural turf, but this is one time where the circumstances require artificial turf. I'm just saying, it's not a pretty field and it sure slows down the game when it comes to running or precision routes.

To make it clear, I'm also not saying the turf is why Seattle lost last weekend. In fact, the bad turf should have helped, since Hasselbeck is better when the defense cannot reach him and it's hard to reach the QB when 300 pound defensive players are falling on their asses in the mud. Seattle lost due to receivers not being able to use their hands in any constructive ways.

So, I'll be watching probably the better part of both games this weekend, but I know the Green Bay game will be a bit slower than it should with the swamp under their feet.


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