Confession and Hiatus

Hiatus

Hello. I’d like to say that it has been a fun ride trying this blog out. However, I have a confession:

When I opened this blog, it started off as nothing more than an experiment to see if I could have what it takes to maintain it. I ran into a few roadblocks in the process, but I believe that I proved that I could give it the proper attention required to keep it open. The one problem I noticed, however, is consistency on the topic: I got a few criticisms via email that the blog sometimes strayed too far from its topic or focused on too many things in a short span.

I enjoyed doing this blog despite both the good and the bad, but I need to decide whether to keep it open, improve on it, or open another blog altogether. As such I am putting the blog on hiatus. The reason is not only to decide to keep the blog, but because of real life circumstances as well. I do not know when this hiatus will end, it could be a few months, or it could be a year, but once I make a decision I’ll let you all know as soon as possible. You’ve been a wonderful audience to have for my blog, and I want to thank you all for reading it.

In the meantime, I’d like you all to enjoy this gentleman’s videos. He’s one of the best youtubers I’ve had the pleasure of watching.

Until next time, Peace out, from Z3r0G1g4.

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Internet Freedom is being CRUSHED.

I remember when YouTube first opened… though it was relatively new, it was a hit for a reason: It allows creative freedom of the content that is posted. Anime music videos, video game playthroughs, remixed tracks, and parodies were the norm back then. And before long Youtube became a gigantic sensation… but now, you can find almost none of those things on there. Youtube is now a shell of its former self. Today, even posting a video with the likes of Spider-M+an in the background could get your account closed. Videos with certain music will be muted the moment that song plays. Even video-game playthroughs are being mercilessly taken down.

On the likes of the internet, censorship is becoming a monster. And all for the smallest majority: Corporations. Censorship no longer exists for protection of the common man; it is constantly abused for personal gain. All they have to do is either wave their dollar bills or cry foul to get their way. Net neutrality is in grave danger; if it is chained down at the mercy of these big corporations, it will be the end of internet freedom as we know it. Creativity will be all but crushed, unique content offered across the web will be erased, and there will be even more rage and outcries than ever before. The internet would become a hollow wasteland, a shell stripped of its life because of corporate greed and power.

I remember a government plan that reared its ugly head; the one called “SOPA,” or the “Stop Online Piracy Act.” The very existence of this kind of law is taboo to the various cultures that exist on the net… so the people rallied and stood for their rights. Ultimately, several sites went dark and threatened to remain dark if SOPA was passed. SOPA was defeated, but it’s not the end: since SOPA’s defeat, the United States government mercilessly took down several websites that they believe is a threat to the corporations. MegaUpload and its sister sites were struck down by the FBI, costing millions of its users their unique content and sending out a wave of shock and rage. They destroyed sites that barely even have infringing content. They’re ruining sites to demonstrate their power. Users plea to have their content returned, but to no avail. It is gone, one with the dust forever.

The net as we know it now is in danger of being under the giants’ mercy. Even worse, the government is supporting them. We have to stand up and act now. We defeated SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, and every other plan that wants to tear net neutrality to shreds. I’m not talking about my country… I’m talking about THE WORLD. The corporations don’t own the world, they shouldn’t own the net. This is not censorship: this is a demon that wants to crush our digital cultures and twist them in its sickening image. We must stand up, support net neutrality, and make an effort to save it, before it is too late.

Unknown Muscle: the REAL Kinnikuman Legacy

I am a huge fan of several anime. DragonBall Z, One Piece, Yu Yu Hakusho, Fullmetal Alchemist, you name it. However, there are several series from Japan that hasn’t traveled beyond the shores to the American audience. I sit back and watch these shows from time to time. In my early college years I found an anime that is quite fun and addicting to watch. It has superheroes AND wrestling! No, it’s not like WCW so don’t ask any questions about that. I am talking about Kinnikuman.

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For those of you who haven’t heard of Kinnikuman, the titled character is the pig-faced (or in reality, masked) heir to the royal Kinniku throne who trains to be a superhero, but is really a bumbling buffoon. He has a sidekick named Meat, a little boy with glasses who is also the voice of reason. Originally starting off as a typical superhero Manga, Kinnikuman later evolves into a wrestling manga. Kinnikuman is well known for its wacky characters and raunchy sense of humor. The manga has a talking toilet as one of its characters… that’s right, a TALKING-TOILET… if you think that’s weird there’s also a Butt-Man…

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See what I mean!?

Kinnikuman is the creation of Yudetamago, a duo of Japanese high school students Takashi Shimada and Yoshinori Nakai. The duo has met since elementary and over the years began to share pictures of their characters and develop some manga ideas. Their ideas became one-shot comics which won a few manga awards. Soon after that, they were noticed by manga develepor Shueisha and were signed on board. Since then Kinnikuman made its debut in 1979 and became a big hit in Japan, spanning over 25 volumes and selling over 66 million copies to this day!

Kinnikuman is unique in its time in that it is also an interactive manga. Throughout Kinnikuman’s serialization Yudetamago held contests where fans could send in designs for potential new wrestlers. The best designs would debut in the Kinnikuman comics as its own character! (Yes, that includes the toilet-man too XD) Some of these characters became quite popular on their own and star in their own spin-off manga. Among these characters is the masked robot WarsMan, who had a few comics dedicated to his backstory.

(A friend of mine from Japan told me that his father submitted 3 designs to the manga, and one of them won! He told me not to tell the audience which character it is though.)

Kinnikuman had its own anime (which is also a hit in Japan) and its fair share of merchandise. Among this are little figurines of the characters, which are called “Kinkeshi.” This is one of the few Kinnikuman merchandises that made it to the states, but upon coming to the USA, an original story was developed for these little figures by Mattel. Going under the name “M.U.S.C.L.E.” (or Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere), Mattel’s story-line is about “Muscle Man” and his gang of “Thug Busters” going against “Terri-Bull’sCosmic Crunchers. Having over 230 figures, these toys were popular in the USA and had a board game, a NES game, and at some point were even sold alongside Nestle Quik!

At the turn of the millennium, Kinnikuman had a sequel called Kinnikuman Nisei, which arrived in the US asUltimate Muscle.The sequel is, unsurprisingly, about Kinnikuman’s son Mantaro Kinniku (or Kid Muscle as he’s known here) training to become a successful heir to the Kinniku Throne, similar to his father. Although it had the same charm and humor as its predecessor, Kinnikuman Nisei is not nearly as popular, and was actually cancelled quite a few times. Despite this it became quite successful in the United States, and that brought over a few Ultimate Muscle video games for both the Nintendo Gamecube and Gameboy Advance (I own the latter, and it is a decent game).

However, despite Ultimate Muscle’s success, the original Kinnikuman still got little state-side attention. In Japan there is no denying where the “M.U.S.C.L.E.” and “Ultimate Muscle” craze started, but perhaps the states would give this manga the attention it deserves. Until it comes, at least fans such as myself can watch the Kinniku Buster in action on Youtube.

Hack & Slash, Hack & Slash, Hack & Slash, Rinse and Repeat

It is true that I like playing video games, but it is a little known secret among my loved ones and peers that I like to watch horror movies. That is not to say that I am a fan of the genre, that is far from the case. I usually watch American horror, which, in my honest opinion, is getting more flawed as the years go by: since the new millennium, American horror is facing a greater monster than the likes of Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees: Redundancy. You get the typical plot of teenagers/young adults who end up getting hacked, butchered, decapitated, skinned, etc etc, by some malevolent force/person for either no reason or for a vengeful motive. Such a formula has been done to death by newer films as well as sequels to “popular” franchises, like the Nightmare on Elm Street series as well as Friday the 13. There are a few American horror movies that stray from this formula to be more creative; however, some of these films turn out to be remakes of horror films from either Asia (A Tale of Two Sisters) or Europe ([REC]), and even then the end product ends up being inferior to its foreign counterpart.

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Speaking of Asian horror, I have watched a few of these films myself, and rarely do I see one which disappoints me. Asian horror usually relies more on the psychological dilemma of the protagonist(s) instead of the typical hack-n-slash formula usually used in western horror. “A Tale of Two Sisters,” for instance, focuses on the dilemma of the protagonist as she endures horrors from both her evil stepmother as well as the supposed “supernatural forces” in her home. It was well done and remains one of the most popular Asian horror films to this day. As of now, Western horror is suffering from the abuse of hack-n-slash. In my opinion, if it is to succeed in the future, it should at least follow the examples of its Asian counterpart and focus more on the psychology of the victim instead of just butchering some hapless fools. I do not mean producing anymore remakes, but perhaps combining both aspects of Western and Asian horror into a new films, for both sequels and new franchises. Perhaps this day might come sooner than later due to Asian horror’s increasing global popularity, and it will definitely improve American horror in the long run.

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Laziness is a New Gaming Trend… An Unwelcome One.

What does constitute laziness in video games? For several years I collected several video games for various reasons, whether out of loyalty as a fan or because of the massive hype the game in question got. Most of the time the games I brought did hold up to their promise, like the Batman Arkham series and the Mario games… but sometimes the hype isn’t enough to influence my decision to buy a game. Sometimes I was able to see the game for what it really is, sometimes in a negative light. There are a few examples both past and recent that influenced my stance as a gamer.

Ever since I was a little boy I was a fan of the Sonic the Hedgehog series. I remember screaming at my parents to get me to new games for my Genesis and the lost gem known as the Dreamcast. But those were the glory days before attending college; I am no longer a fan of the series, and for good reason: A parade of travesties that angered the hell out of me and most other fans. You can tell just from playing these games that Sega threw together as potential cash cows. The first game I noticed is Shadow the Hedgehog. Shadow is like Sonic: he’s supposed to be fucking fast! He’s badass on his own and doesn’t need to become the Hedgehog equivalent of Dirty Harry… but low and behold, Sega thought otherwise and threw this mess together. Everything about this game is lazy: the “alignment” system is poorly implemented, guns are mostly unnecessary, and curses like “damn” and “hell” are thrown in a poor attempt to make the game “gritty.” Aside from these problems, the gameplay itself is half-assed. I rented the game and I am glad that I did not pick it up again after my first playthrough. I thought “why not wait for another Sonic game? Maybe Sega was a bit misguided on this attempt?”

But then came “Sonic the Hedgehog” for the XBox 360, more commonly referred to “Sonic the Disaster.” This game is the lowest point in the series, the ultimate epitome of laziness on Sega’s part, and caused several fans, such as myself, to leave the series for good. If you think Shadow the Hedgehog is a massive pile of dung, you ain’t seen NOTHING yet: Sonic the Disaster has been hyped to hell and back: an open world with a climate system, three playable characters as well as “amigos” which help you get past the levels, and 4Kids return from Shadow to do the voices! This would be fine by itself… until you have the misfortune of picking up the game. It is an OBVIOUS beta: game-breaking glitches, horrible voice acting, a sub-par storyline, SHITTY unresponsive controls, the list go on.. MY GOD Sega, what the hell indeed? The laziness is pretty much confirmed by Sega themselves: they rushed the damn thing out for the holidays for a quick buck before throughly testing the damn thing. Capcom also rushed out frigging Marvel vs Capcom 2, but at least that game’s popular; by following that example with Sonic the Disaster, Sega shot themselves in the foot.

Speaking of Capcom, it seems they also jumped on board the rush train. Over the recent years, Capcom released the popular Street Fighter IV: it is the game that revived the fighting genre! It saw the return of Ryu and the Street Fighter 2 gang, a majority which were absent in the Street Fighter 3 series! Reception was excellent and several tournaments were held at several venues. It was a massive success, so what does capcom do? They release rehash after rehash after rehash, not unlike the previous Super Street Fighter 2 series… but when do we say “enough is enough?” Let’s see… how about when Capcom lazily tacked on features just for the game to have features? There’s Super Street Fighter IV, which included 10 news characters. I ordered the game online and anticipated its arrival: when I got it, I was hooked for hours on end: it’s an improvement over the original Street Fighter IV and the new characters are fun to play! But then the fandom bitched and moaned… “WHERE’S YUN AND YANG!?!?!” A few years later, Super Street Figther IV Arcade Edition was released with the brothers tacked on… needless to say, they were broken as hell, placing high on several tier lists for the game, even higher than Evil Ryu and Oni Akuma, who were also in the game… how does Capcom fix this? They released Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition 2012, which aside from a balance patch is barely any different from its predecessor… and then comes the upcoming Ultra Street Fighter IV… this is when Capcom really touched on their laziness here.

5 new characters, new stages, new gameplay, new features! How can they possibly screw that up!? Oh hoho, let me count the ways. Raise your hands if you heard of Street Fighter x Tekken!  I figure most people here did. Street Fighter x Tekken is an infamous trainwreck suffering from imbalanced gameplay and a DLC controversy that formed a mob hunting for Capcom’s throats. Ultra Street Fighter IV is the epitome of rehash! Four of the five new characters are Rolento, Hugo, Poison, and Elena! Guess where they were from? They were plucked out of Street Fighter x Tekken! But wait, there’s more! What about the stages? They’re all from Street Fighter x Tekken too! But the biggest facepalm came from the fifth “character”- Capcom advertised that this was her fight debut and that she came from the famous Udon Street Fighter comics! Everyone was guessing for months who this mystery girl is. When she was finally unveiled, everyone breathed a collective sigh of disappointment. The fifth character is named “Decapre,” which is Russian for “December.” Several fans, including me, were not impressed with this revelation; Decapre is, both appearance-wise and story-wise, a clone of the character Cammy, and initial gameplay videos show that most of her moves were carried over from Cammy as well. As much as Capcom tries to deny it and try to change Decapre’s gameplay, it doesn’t matter: the claw and charge gameplay doesn’t change the fact that she is little more than a Cammy clone; oh look! She can do Cammy’s Cannon Drill in midair! Who the hell cares!? This revelation, in my eyes, sealed Ultra Street Fighter IV as another a lazy rehash. I am not buying another “version” where fighters and stages were plucked from another game and the fifth character is a practically a clone of another. I made the mistake of buying games where the effort was lazily put in; I am fine with Super Street Fighter IV 2012; I’ll pass on Ultra Street Fighter IV because it feels like I played the friggin’ game two years ago.

The problem here is that some fans are like sheep: they jump onto lazily made and constructed games.and expect either some new or something of high quality. But I am glad that I am not the only one who sees those games for what they really are. I forgiven Sega after playing Sonic Unleashed, and I hope Capcom wakes up and cuts the crap before they shoot themselves in the foot again.

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A Web of Growth

Hello there!

My name is Rory from ElectriConneceted,  and I am a guest writer for Random Access Baxe. My blog is about Technology and its impact on us as a society moving forward, while at the same time looking back.

One topic I am passionate about is the integration of these new technologies in our everyday lives that can be used in a way that doesn’t hinder our capacities for human connection and development of positive relations. Especially in the past ten years or so, we have become so accustomed to staring at our phone and TV screens that we forget that there are other people in the world.

Nowadays we have things like social networking and that somehow makes up for communicating with each other.

However, there are several communities that connect with each other because the medium which is being used allows for furthering relationships with each other. Online gaming for example is a good medium for which players can interact and compete or cooperate with each other because there is a common goal between each player.

MMORPG games like World of Warcraft is a great community because there are difficult tasks that require teamwork and player interaction to achieve. There are old and new players alike and the community is very tight knit because the game and others like it require specific skill sets and interactions.

Another big interaction with the community is the use of testing by the community to ensure a quality product, like Google and it’s Google Glass, allowing users to test their product for a limited time only so they can make the new product the best it can be.

The community’s interactions with the company’s development teams make up a great game in the long run with the addition of forums and social media interactions with their customers.

The community keeps the technology market going.