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Malik (6/27/11)

For how poorly the 3DS web browser is, I have to admit I'm enjoying it on the 3DS. I should say that this browser will not allow anything that takes technology from the last ten years. I mean if you want to watch a youtube video, you are out of luck (unless they have a special 3DS compliant page that I don't know about). You cannot do much with this browser...but it's more awesome when you look at what else you can do while browsing.

When I was playing the 3DS remake of Ocarina of Time, I hit a place in which I've always had trouble with the game. It's an old problem with me failing to solve a very easy puzzle because the game slightly shifts the rules near the end of a dungeon without any reminder that something doesn't always require one solution style for the same type of problem. To be less vague, I forgot, in the end of the fish dungeon (third dungeon...when you are in the fish lord of the Zora race) that you can press switches with crates and not just with the Zora princess. It's stupid, but I always forget this.

Well, I wanted to use the internet to look up the solution (grab a damned crate and put it on the final floor switch), but my PC was in use. So, I hit the home button, loaded the 3DS browser and found the answer. Once I did, I forgot that I didn't have to close the game, so I exited the browser and resumed my game without a single misstep. So, while the browser does suck, you can use it while pausing a game and still resume without missing a beat. You can even use the notepad feature on the 3DS, write down your answer, and use this at any time. Yes, the 3DS can multitask!

Anyway, this may seem like a minor thing in the modern era of multitasking smart phones, but I'm still rocking out a seven year old RAZR, so I'm not a creature of modern technology on portable devices. To me, this advance in portable gaming is like a whole new world being opened for my eager eyes to behold.

Anyway, to be quick about it; if you've played Zelda: Ocarina of Time before and liked it, then this game is a great dose of nostalgia. If you haven't played it and like modern 3D (game play, not visuals) Zelda games, I'm surprised you haven't played it yet with it being on the N64, Gamecube, and Wii previously. Still, it's worth picking up. Plus, the #D is pretty impressive and easier on the eyes than some of the other 3D effects I've seen. It's also pretty amazing when you obtain a sacred jewel (maybe for other items later, but I'm only young Link still) and you get a slight effect of pop-out from the 3D. A sacred jewel looks like it is slightly above the plane of the screen as it rotates. Pretty impressive for a glasses-free 3D device. Also, with far enhanced visuals versus the previous versions of Ocarina, the 3D is welcome and not just a painful dose of 3D polygons. The only downside is that tilting the system will control the camera at times, and this can make 3D a problem when you move your head from the focus point.

Most of all, I have to say the use of the touch screen is the best I've seen for a DS or 3DS Zelda experience. You can access your menu screens from touch buttons, and you have access to two more items beyond the ones equipped to the X and Y button. So, while you lose a tiny but of button space versus the N64 version (with the four C-buttons), you get one additional item total with the two touch-only item slots. These are perfectly located in the top and bottom right corner (easy to reach in a hurry), and work great for healing items and other less frequently abused items.

Anyway, I'm digging this nostalgia kick so far. While I hate to say the best game on a system I own is old news; Ocarina is the best 3DS title without a doubt. Hopefully this doesn't remain true for long, but it's definitely better than when a new system has nothing worth playing for at least an entire year.


Malik (6/30/11)

I've been talking more about sports lately than I do any time of year that is not the weeks of the winter and fall when I can count on the Seahawks to make one day a week less boring and more thrilling. Well, that's continuing today. I just have little motivation to play games right now and am counting on my beloved home teams to get me through what feels like a form of writer's block for geeking (geek's block?).

The Mariners are one hell of a team to watch this year. I mean it is a rollercoaster and then some. April and May were absolute crap, then came the end of May and June...well, all but the end of June. Seattle started to move up from being one of the worst teams in MLB to being one of the possible playoff teams...and back down to being horrible again.

The constants remain the same, and that's what causes this style of winning and losing without warning. Seattle has the best pitchers in the American League and probably second best (to the Phillies) in all of MLB. However, the offense is just offensive to behold. A team that averages 2 or 3 runs a game is not going to win and get the amazing pitching staff through some amazing starts. Seattle, for far too long, has not had a powerful bat in the 3rd and 4th spots, and doesn't have enough consistency in the top two of the order. Ichiro should recover (he's always been hotter after the All Star Break than before) quite soon, but that is not enough. It's also not enough when Olivo, the amazing catcher with the top (tied with Smoak) home run numbers on the team is suffering from leg cramps (sounds like a lame excuse until you think of what a catcher is doing for half the game).

Of course, it only goes down from there when you have two catchers fall to injury in one game. After Olivo was pulled for cramps, Gimenez came in to play catcher...and to suffer an oblique strain that left him so sore that he couldn't even swing a bat (hence his weird attempt at bunting like the world depended on a misplaced bunt on Tuesday)...and then left him on the DL. Then comes Bedard entering the DL with a knee sprain. Normally this should come as no surprise. Bedard...injured? Those two words are obvious in Seattle, where Bedard spent the last two years with more months on the DL than he had innings pitched. However, when Bedard came back this season and started to show his stuff, it looked like the trade long ago for his talent (traded for Adam Jones, who looked like the next Ken Griffey Jr. at the time) was finally paying off. Well, now Seattle has a hole in the middle of the rotation, a lot of missing pieces on catching (at least there is some depth in the minors at catcher for the M's and the other four starting pitchers can carry Bedard's load for now). When you eliminate the one solid part of the M's game, the holes are only going to become more exaggerated.

Still, it's almost the All Star Break. This will give the M's some rest time, which seems desperately needed. It will also allow the M's to think about the trade deadline and also about some new ideas for the lacking offense. Hopefully it's the right time to turn things around, once again, and get the ship pointed in the right direction.


Malik (7/1/11)

It's July. That means one thing in Seattle...and I don't mean summer weather is finally here, since this year is a big steaming pile when you look at weather. I mean it's time for the usual armchair GMs and coaches to decide how to screw over the local sports teams (particularly the M's).

Each year, the local sports people love to say which high prospect with the M's needs to be traded for bigger bats. With the M's, and how they lack offense year after year, it's always trading away a great pitcher or fielder who is saving the team from even more grief than it already has in the name of getting a bat that almost always will turn into a loser.

Last year, the talk was on trading Cliff Lee. Unfortunately, that one was a good decision to make simply because the M's missed a chance to negotiate a long term contract in the pre-season and Lee refused to talk contracts during the regular season. Believe it or not, he was actually focused on playing and not about what people were paying when it's the regular season.

Now the main talk is on the Mariners trading Pineda. Pineda is without a doubt, the leading contender for rookie of the year and working towards being a potential Cy Young candidate in the next year or so. Maybe, if he keeps up what he did in May and most of June, Pineda will get a few votes for Cy Young this year. He is a solid young pitcher who is looking like an ideal career Mariner. Yes, a bat would be nice right now, but it's a gamble. The M's play in one of the worst parks for home runs and also have a habit of breaking big batters or consistent batters and turning them into wusses at the plate (Sexson, Everett, Figgins, Bradley, Aurilla...I could go on for entirely too long on this list).

While some people love to argue that a hot rookie pitcher is almost certainly doomed to failure, I feel these "sports gurus" are forgetting that some make some damned big impacts in the MLB system. I mean Felix Hernandez is an amazing reminder of that. If every good rookie pitcher was doomed to failure, then there would be a severe lack of pitchers in the majors.

The M's do need help, but they need to keep one thing in mind. Actually, the M's organization knows this and it's the fans and local sports writters who need to remember this; it's finally a rebuilding year. The organization is getting younger and is relying less on players over their prime. It's time to continue this trend and let the season go if needed. You can't keep patching a sinking ship. Eventually you need to build a new ship and let the old one sink to the bottom of the ocean. The M's are currently building a new team and any trades should focus on the long term, not on a quick fix for this season. That means, above all else, keeping in mind that Bedard is bound to keep being injured, Vargas is a risky long term pitcher (he's good now, but he is definitely not playing in his expected poorer form), and Fister is overdue to be destroyed when it's seen that he is not getting the K's he needs to show. Hernandez and Peneda are the two long term fixes on the rotation and they need to be kept together for a great one-two punch on the team.

If the M's really need to look at trades, it should be more about some of the redundancy on the team. Seattle is getting pretty bloated in the infield, especially at second base. Ackley, Smoak, and Kennedy are masters in the infield and are batters worthy of notice. So, how about the rest of the excess in the infield gets looked at for potential trades? In other words, keep what works and lose the broken parts. While you can't keep every good player for all time, keeping those who work is the number one priority.


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