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Malik (11/29/10)

Just like in New Orleans, the Seahawks showed why the NFC West is a lame division that has no chance beyond one team being eliminated in the wild card round of the playoffs. Right now, St. Loius and Seattle are tied for first in the division, both with a losing record. Tonight, we can watch on one of the worst matchups possible for Monday Night Football, another NFC West team pull within one game of first while another falls further into mediocrity. Yes, nothing says Monday Night Football like the failing 49ers and Cards playing each other.

Anyway, I usually will just recap what went right and what went wrong each week for the Seahawks. Well, what went right is easy enough...the team can blame this loss on injured players without too much difficulty. I mean without Mike Williams, the receiving corps just couldn't do a damned thing right. The only special exception is Ben Omomanu, who made one of the most amazing receiving plays I've seen all year; from right around the Seattle end zone to a touch down in a brilliant one play touch down drive. That's why I was glad to see Omomanu stay with Seattle after the weird pre-season game of trades and cuts. When Seattle was short on receivers a few years back, he was one constant bright spot. That remains now.

I guess I can also say Hasselbeck looked pretty good, until his team let him down so much that he let his crazy-legs mindset come in and toss a few interceptions and some damned risky or stupid passes. However, what did you expect from the man after his receivers showed a lack of ability to catch a perfectly lobbed pass that landed in their hands before being dropped to the turf? Sadly, a good QB is not enough when the receivers cannot catch and the running game looks more like a limping game.

I guess I even could say the special teams looked pretty good. I mean a block field goal to keep the lead three points less out of the realm of impossibility was a nice touch. Even nicer was watching a punt being blocked and ran in by Earl Thomas for a touch down. I mean the defensive side of special teams looked pretty good. It's not often a team can block both a kicker and a punter in a single game.

On the darker side of Seattle...well, there is everything else. The special teams could not return kicks or punts for anything, the defense was a flat out joke (hint: if it's a running team, don't neglect to defend against the pass while failing at the rush defense), the running game was absolutely lacking, was all bad. The Seahawks will not be able to pull off anything this season if they cannot shake this funk they are in. When the season was just starting, the rush defense was one of the best in the NFL, and the passing defense was not too shabby. When the season started, our receivers could catch a ball. When the season began, the Seahawks were healthy. It's going downhill quicker than a lead balloon, and unless Pete Carroll can light a fire under the players' collective asses, the season will end with the Seahawks missing another chance to flounder in the post-season.


Malik (11/30/10)

It's sad that the Steam Give & Get Sale is pretty much over with. I only found out about the sale on Sunday, but it was definitely one of the better Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals out there. I mean the prices were a little too good to resist. I managed to pick up one of the five game indie game packs (5 games for $5) with VVVVVV, Beat Hazard (well worth the $2.50 price tag yesterday), and Machinarium. In fact, in terms of games, the previous week was pretty good with me also picking up (or ordering online) Mass Effect 2 from K-Mart for $10.

First things first...VVVVVV is one of the best surprise games I've seen in a long time. I would have easily paid $10 for the game, if only I could see what it really was before just getting it in an indie games pack. It is fun, challenging, and just amazing. Plus, the retro style of graphics (very ASCII style) is a nice way of showing that games don't have to have cutting edge graphics to be a hell of a good experience. However, in this case, I think the "low level" graphics only make the game that much more enjoyable.

As for Machinarium...I waited for this to go on sale to get it. I really wanted to get it since it looked amazing visually (the visuals are awesome), and the game play (at least from the demo) seemed like the old school Gobliiins game from Sierra. I loved Gobliiins and love the art style, so how could I go wrong? Simply put, while the game is fun, in a way, Machinarium has a lot of puzzles with absolutely no clue as to why you are doing what you are doing. It would be like me putting someone in a room with a bunch of random office supplies and not releasing my captive until they decide to put a pencil through the bottom of the paper cup, tie a string to the end of the pencil in the cup, dip the whole thing in a toner cartridge (which you need to crack open by hitting it with the stapler), and then give this weird assembly to someone in the neighboring room (didn't you see there was a small hatch to a neighboring room? Well that's your problem) and waiting for them to give you a Game and Watch game. Now score 1000 points and use the coin that falls out of the game to purchase a stick of gum from the randomly located vending machine, and use the gum wrapper to open the door out of this room. Make sense? If it did, then Machinarium is for you. If you love hand drawn visuals, then Machinarium is for you. If you like a game with thought provoking puzzles that makes sense...well, just walk away.

As for Beat Hazard, the game is like a classic visualization option for a media player. However, it's also like a game of Asteroids meets Robotron. However, it's also like a rhythm game of sorts, since the strength of your ship in this Asteroids like game is determined by the volume and rhythm of the MP3 files currently playing. Add in the $1 pack to play iTunes downloads, and you have the ultimate addictive mini-game. It only gets a bit better when you see that your score on a level will give your a higher rank (the game has a level system). These ranks give new bonuses when playing, which gives you a reason to "play just one more song" before quitting. It's also funny to see, since volume and rhythm make your ship more powerful as they go up, that a music game actually can have Metallica (if you have some MP3s of them) be "easy mode". I mean play a short Metallica song (there are a few of them) like their cover of Stone Cold Crazy and the game become pure win.

On a final game related note for the day, Gamestop annoys me. Golden Sun for the DS was officially released yesterday. Some stores broke the street date around Thanksgiving. Well, Gamestop informed me yesterday that the game will ship today and be available tomorrow. It's this type of slowness for the release of niche or unpopular games that turns me off from Gamestop. Sadly, since DS games are on physical media (cards or cartridges) and can be more likely to sell out and be slower to be restocked (takes time to make more cards, at least compared to optical media like DVDs), I pre-ordered with Gamestop. I would say I should have gone with Amazon, but they have screwed me on pre-ordering games before (like getting Super Smash Bros Melee three weeks after release). Blah.


Malik (12/3/10)

I picked up Golden Sun for the DS on Wednesday and have had a hell of a time putting the game down since. The reviews for this game all seem to say the same general things, which I just don't see in the game itself. I mean the reviews seems to range in the 7-8 out of 10 scale, but giving some damned weird negative points for a RPG.

The main complaints I see are that the game is too easy and that the game is too wordy. In terms of challenge, the game is not hard in combat. I've had only one boss fight that bordered on me facing low HP totals and running out of PP (equivalent to MP/magic points). However, I'm still early in the game and have done some grinding to afford equipment. Anyway, when did a RPG require excessive challenge to be fun? It's not like I'm playing Blue Dragon (now that was too damned easy of a game), and the puzzles still offer some damned good mental workouts. Considering this is a Golden Sun game, the puzzles really make up a good portion of the game and can be more important in many instances than the combat. So, the puzzles do bring some of the challenge that the combat is light on.

As for being too wordy...what the hell? This is an RPG. RPGs require a plot to be good, and on a system that has limited memory, text takes the place of spoken dialogue. Add in that games like Star Ocean 3 and 4 were never complained about for being too wordy (and compared to them, GS is light as hell on text), and the complaint seems a bit out of place. There is plenty of text, but it's rarely excessive. If anything, the plot is nicely covered, and the dialogue feels more natural by not being the most concise version possible. I'd hate to have a new party member added without him/her getting a chance, through dialogue, to explain indirectly who they are. Plus, since this is a direct follow-up of the original GBA Golden Sun titles, you need a lot of text to catch you up to the plot. Even if you played GS1 and 2 on the GBA when they first came out, you have seven years of no Golden Sun titles to lose your memory of those games.

Anyway, Golden Sun is, so far, a perfect nostalgic RPG experience. It's addictive, and the puzzles only make it more awesome. I think this game could be a turn off to those who are not from the nostalgic era of RPG glory (SNES and NES era), but I see no problem with that. This game is for fans of the classics, and definitely for the people who would also enjoy Dragon Quest IX. In fact, between DQIX and GS, the DS is having one hell of a great year for RPGs.

To shift subjects...I'm hoping a home game against the worst team in the NFL can help the Seahawks return to the not-quite-horrible quality that made them currently tied for first in the NFC West. Then again, since the defense has fallen apart, the running game never started, and the receiving corps have all forgotten to grab that oblong object Hasselbeck keeps throwing at them, things don't exactly look awesome for the Seahawks this weekend...or for the rest of the season. At least football isn't lost since UW can make a bowl appearance (the first since 2002) if they defeat the lame WSU Cougars in Pullman on Saturday.


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