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3:30 PM on 12.14.2010

Happy birthday Holmes!

Yeah I made this. You can download it here!

I'm going to try and contain my adoration in this blog post but I may get away from myself. You are warned!

Dear Jonathan Holmes,

Thank you. Thank you for everything you've done on this site or otherwise that has given me great pleasure. Of all the wonderful Destructoid staff personalities, you are certainly my favorite. I'll be honest: I wasn't convinced until I saw your E3 coverage this year (the montage in particular). Before that, I didn't even know what you looked or sounded like (your posting picture at the time was dark)! Since then though, I've been all Holmes all the time. I even look forward to your tweets! I'm @therealhancock by the way (I don't tweet, just follow people really).

I could seriously listen to you talk about anything all day. I love how you can take a seemingly uninteresting topic and spin it into a brand new direction that I've never thought of. I was really into the Sundays with Sagat videos and any interviews/preview events you were a part of. You are certainly one of the kindest people I've ever seen, never telling anyone they're wrong when their opinion differs from yours. Your kindness has definitely rubbed off on me, especially when it comes to new games. If a game doesn't technically look too great, I will usually remain cautiously optimistic because who knows what a quirky game can bring to the table! (Love Zombie anyone?)

Speaking of your opinions, they are all so out there! You are my "in" when it comes to hearing about crazy whacky zany games from Japan or just somewhere on the Internet. Thanks to you I know about Photograph Boy, Fragile Dreams, Cho Aniki games, among many more. I really do appreciate your extreme different taste of games. Sure I occasionally disagree with you but I still love hearing another side to the same argument.

I REALLY want to watch Road Rules season 5 but it is apparently nonexistent anymore :(

Then we have your undying love for both BIT.TRIP and Super Meat Boy. You have no idea how envious I am of you since you are probably playing FLUX right now. Also that you know these guys personally and get to hang out with them. I don't think I'd be as into (or know of) the BIT.TRIP games if it weren't for your constant coverage and complimenting of the series. I DEFINITELY wouldn't have thought to look deeper into the meaning of those games had I not heard you talk about it. I'm proud to say that I didn't spoil myself and came to the same conclusion as you: that it's the journey of a man from his conception, to his birth, and now presumably to his death/rebirth. I am really glad to have you on this site, covering these lesser known games that deserve all the attention they get.

So thank you, Jonathan Holmes. And Happy birthday! I'm sure it'll be a wonderful one.
If I ever meet you, and I really hope one day I can, I hope we can become bros.

Patrick "P-Dude" Hancock   read

2:47 PM on 05.13.2010

Why Jet Grind Radio is the greatest videogame ever

So as you may have heard, there was a rumor that Jet Grind/Set Radio was coming to the Xbox Arcade. Unfortunately that rumor was said to be false and many cries rang out worldwide. "Oh well" I said, "I can just play it on my Dreamcast!" Well, school ended this week and I did just that.

Replaying the game now, ten years after it was released, it suddenly becomes obvious to me: this is the greatest game ever.

I've been going through life saying that Shining Force II is my favorite game ever but OH HOW BLIND I WAS! Hell, Jet Grind Radio wasn't even in my top three before this week. The times, they are a-changin. Now I'm here to tell you why Ashley, Jim, and Chad are wrong and why Jet Grind Radio is the greatest video game you will ever play.

Cel Shading

Ten years ago this game came out and used some thing called "Cel Shading." You may have heard of it, it's kind of a big deal. Well back then it most certainly was NOT a big deal, as Jet Grind Radio is known to be one of the first games ever to use this technology (if not THE first). This gives the game a sense of personality that games today can only hope of mimicking. Playing Jet Grind Radio isn't like going back and playing the first Half-Life where you notice how much it has aged since its release. Jet Grind Radio looked great back then and it looks great today.

Color and vibrancy are what I love most about the art style. I'm red-green colorblind, so I have a lot of trouble with certain games. Jet Grind Radio is NOT one of those games. Every part of the game leaps out at you and makes you want to live in a world where these colors are so vibrant.

Whether it be the smoke that shoots from your skates as you brake to chase after that Poison Jam member or the tear gas the SWAT team is shooting at you, the game screams personality. The art style is simply beautiful. The levels each have their own uniqueness to them and every character oozes their own personal vibe. Which brings me to...

The Characters

Look at them. JUST LOOK AT THEM! Quite the motley crew, wouldn't you say? By far the most popular are Beat and Gum, the first two characters you start with. Why Tab never had the same popularity, considering you get them at the same time, is beyond me! Maybe people like being able to see their eyes...

Anyway, as you can tell, no two characters are even remotely alike. Each person going into this game is bound to find a character they love and stick with. It is also worth mentioning that each character has their own unique stats. There are three fields: Power (HP), Technique (size of turning circle), and Graffiti (number of cans, points, and difficulty of sprays).

My favorite character, by far, is Combo. He's the huge black guy in the back holding the boombox. If that description wasn't enough, you should know that he skates, sprays, and flips while holding that gigantic box of jams. He's so fresh, Will Smith looks like a chump next to him. LOOK HOW BIG HE IS!

Professor K

Now, if you don't know, "Jet Grind Radio" is an actual radio station in the game, and this man is the DJ. He also serves as the narrator/commentator in the cutscenes in between missions. This man has the craziest personality I have ever seen. His voice and his appearance are something you end up looking forward to in between missions. As if the story isn't crazy enough itself, throwing this man's voice over it ramps it up to INSANE.

According to his description in the instruction manual, he "is known by his super funky afro dreads." Let that seep in. Super. Funky. Afro dreads.

The most important part of music
I could have made this post with just this section and it would be just as true. Anyone who has played this game can tell you just how AWESOME the soundtrack is. Like others, it was the first dose of Jurassic 5(above) I had ever had, leading me to now love them. I always find these songs stuck in my head, whether or not I was just playing the game. I'm honestly at a loss for words to convey how fantastic these beats are. I'll just leave you with some of my favorites.
And yes, you can just listen to these tunes in-game via the Radio in the Garage (your hub).

Perfect Difficulty

The game took me two days to beat, only spanning MAYBE ten hours, probably around 8. At no point did I ever quit due to difficulty rage. By far the hardest parts of the game are recruiting new members. You can't just convince them, you have to prove your worth. This means you must match their moves or race them to a tag spot. It's admittedly rare to do the latter on your first try since chances are you aren't very acquainted with all the shortcuts and paths you can take. You may lose a few times, but you always feel that victory is within your grasp.

The trick matching game is a lot easier. That isn't to say it isn't fun though. The lines that your "rival" demonstrates are usually pretty gnarly and prove useful in the game's missions.

The controls themselves are very simple as well. This isn't your Tony Hawk game where each trick has its own set of buttons to input. Tricks are done by simply pressing R while you jump, provided you have enough speed to do so. Other than that you skate around pressing L to start spraying, which is where the real fun begins. The graffiti mechanics are the heart of the controls and they are superb. Essentially just quicktime events, they have you swinging the analog stick in a certain directions (half circles or full circles) to mimic the on-screen avatar. It works surprisingly well and helps bring you into this colorful and vibrant world.

The Final Groove

"The Final Groove" is the name of the last level in the game. This level is so amazingly awesome, it gets its own section. The story itself is insane, involving demon-summoning records and mysterious rhinos, and it all culminates on this final level. There's not too much I can say, but I will sum the level up with these words (spoilers I guess?)

Evil DJ, rooftop, fire-breathing-gold-mecha-rhino, record-spinning floor (that is, the floor is a giant spinning record), and GRAFFITI.

Who knew that all the world's problems (including city bombings) could be solved with graffiti?

Custom Graffiti
Alright, I've saved this section for last. The graffiti editor isn't very advanced, you can add some text (7 letters) and give it cool effects and/or use the spraypaint tool and make your own shoddy-looking sprays. There are three sizes: Small, Large, and Extra Large. Without further ado, I bring you the Destructoid Graffiti:

(excuse the poor quality, it's a picture of my TV. Also excuse any color confusion as I mentioned before, I am colorblind!)

Here's the small graffiti. Mr. Destructoid's beautiful face all over Tokyo-to!

And now the large one. Modeled after the logo, obviously! Very slick looking, if I do say so myself!

And finally, the cream of the crop. THE EPIC BROFIST!

So there you have it, why Jet Grind Radio is the greatest game ever created. Hyperbole? Maybe so, but I'll be damned if it isn't my absolute favorite. The personality and uniqueness that this one game encompasses is unsurpassed in my mind. This game is the complete package.

I didn't even get into things like using the INTERNET with the game to upload and share sprays, or the specifics of the ludicrous plot that makes you scream "WTF, JAPAN?!" The game also allows you to collect dozens of pre-rendered sprays, appealing to the collectivist in all of us. I also didn't get into its problems, like the wonky-at-times camera or the odd/inconvenient placement of spray cans.

SEGA delivered the ultimate experience when it made Jet Grind Radio, and you really should get around to playing it. I do hope that one day it finds its way onto the current gen consoles if only to appeal to those who never got to play this gem of a game. It seems to be more of a "cult" classic because of its exclusivity on the Dreamcast, and it's quite a shame.

I hope you've enjoyed this, and thank you if you read the whole thing! I should get around to playing that sequel some day...   read

11:57 AM on 05.05.2010

Check out what came in the mail today! [shortblog]

So as I nervously study for my final in Russian History later in the day, I notice the mailman had just gone by. It's beautiful out, so I mosey on out to bring the mail in. Inside I notice a small box addressed to me in penmanship I had never seen before. "Hmm, nothing is supposed to come from Goozex today" I thought. Then I noticed the return address:

Ashley Davis
[even if I could read this I wouldn't put the address, c'mon now!]
Pheonix, AZ

CHU-WAAAAHHH?! No way. It couldn't be! It's too soon! But alas, IT WAS!

Get your own here!

My day is officially 100x better. I know now that my final stands NO CHANCE now that I have the power of CUTE and AWESOME on my side.


Thank you, Ashley Davis! :D   read

9:43 AM on 11.06.2009

My new custom shoes: Scribblenauts!!

(where has the artsy fartsy tag gone? :[ )
Hi, I'm P-Dude. You may remember me from such shoes c-blogs as "My custom Watchmen shoes" or "My custom Team Fortress 2 shoes."

Anyway, it's time for some more customs, and I must say, these are my best yet! I went all out on these, buying ACTUAL Vans and not some PayLess knock-off, and using exclusively Angelus paint (recommended to me by KyozoKicks). It ended up taking me around 9.5 hours (straight!) from start to finish on these shoes. There are so many little details, and I wasn't going to let them just disappear!

As I say in all my posts, KyozoKicks is the one who inspired me in the beginning, and you should totally check out his newest pair as well, since they're from OddWorld, and word on the grapevine is that game totally rocks.

So without further stalling, I present to you, the Scibblenauts custom Vans!

Also, Direct Loans paper!

Now, I know what you're saying. Under all those "WOAH SO AWESOME DO WANT"s, you're saying "How in the world do you pick any 4 things to put on a shoe?!" Well, the answer is simple! I created these shoes for my girlfriend, and I simply asked her what her favorite things in the game were! She also helped me shop for colors, since I'm color-blind and I'm pretty sure she didn't want an all-brown t-rex or a slightly off-red Santa. There were originally supposed to be "wings" in the center, but I didn't plan for the tinyness of her foot, so they were canned. Plus, the Pegasus has wings already. I'd also like to add that these Vans are eco-friendly! According to the Vans website: "These organic canvas Slip-Ons are built with 100% Organic uppers and 20% recycled rubber outsoles." So not only do they look good, but they're good for the environment! Or at least, they didn't hurt it.

So feel free to tell me what you think, and if you want to see some pictures of some of the steps I took, head on over to my flikr!   read

10:46 AM on 10.26.2009

Reference Humor: HAWP/Brutal Legend [video!]

Ah, reference humor. The type of humor that only applies to a certain niche. The more references, the smaller that group gets, but at the same time the funnier it becomes. Anyway, my friends and I decided to make a video calling ourselves "Team Reference Humor." It parodies a few things, the two biggest being HAWP and Brutal Legend, both of which I'm sure guys know of.

[from the YT video description]
I got this idea when I received my pre-order bonus from Best Buy. It was originally going to be done with just still photos (and much shorter), but it turns out Kevin had a video camera that could upload to PC, so we went with that.

Some things to remember:
1. Done just for fun
2. Shot with a Sony Handycam, as reflected in the video's quality
3. No script, we basically just discussed the scene before shooting, and away we went.
4. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
5. Shot in two days (not consecutive)
6. I have no editing skills
7. We have no acting skills

No Brutal Legend spoilers or anything.

BTW, I'm "Pat"

If we do more may or may not depend on public opinion, so let me know what you think!   read

3:28 PM on 09.01.2009

My custom Team Fortress 2 shoes!!

A month ago I created my Watchmen shoes, and now it's time to show my new set of customs.

Presenting, my custom Team Fortress 2 shoes!!

Based off the team logos (seen here), I again decided for something simple yet effective enough to convey the point. I am not the best artist, so complex designs are a ways away. And once again, I'd like to extend a huge thanks to KyozoKicks for not only inspiring me, but helping me out and conversing through e-mails this entire time.

Here's a close-up of each shoe:

(Note: They are not Converse brand, they are Airwalks. Cheaper is the way to go!)

And here's my flikr with pictures of the process of making them! I'd be happy to answer any questions and as always, am open to suggestions!! My current mindset: Persona 4 shoes are next.   read

4:04 PM on 07.07.2009

My custom Watchmen shoes. Also, suggestions! [somewhat NVGR]

Ok, so I've taken up the art of custom shoes. I've been making custom shirts for a long time and had this idea for shoes for a while, too. After seeing the Zelda-themed KyozoKicks on the front page the other day, I decided it was time to make my idea a reality! So I went out and bought the paint and shoes I needed, and went on my way. Here is the end result:

My expert photoshopping skills are also present!

I went for something rather simple, but yet strong enough to convey the reference. I included the panel just in case for those unacquainted or who just forgot.

I created them the same exact way I make shirts, I trace the design onto freezer paper, which I then iron on top of the shoe. Once it's in place, I iron on any "islands" that need to be there (for example, the middle of the O or B), then take a roller and simply paint over. Once it's dry enough, I simply remove all the freezer paper and viola! Custom shoes. Once I plan for more intricate designs, the roller isn't going to cut it and paintbrushes will need to be used.

So, what should I do next? I've already got some ideas in my head, but I'd also like to hear of anything you guys might think of. I plan on doing mostly slip-ons, but I definitely also want to do a pair of Converse, just like KyozoKicks did (amazingly!) here.

So leave feedback on how you like these and any future ideas you might have!!!   read

4:52 PM on 06.21.2009

Through the tinted eyes of a colorblind gamer.

[Hmm, ok, well halfway through typing this I found that Anthony Burch also wrote about this last year. Never hurts to have a second, less famous, less witty opinion though, right? .......RIGHT?]

My brother and I are red-green color blind, which is the most common and, as the name implies, means we have trouble with green and red the most, but it's definitely not exclusive to those, as purple/blue mesh together as well as brown/red/green, etc. Being colorblind has it's ups and downs, albeit way more downs than ups. The ups include getting out of certain science labs because I can't see the color spectrum properly and having it be understood when you aren't wearing "matching" colors. The downs are numerous, but not too extreme, but one of them is that gaming certainly IS affected.

I recently got a new computer, and bought Left 4 Dead (I already own it on Xbox) because I can finally run it. While tweaking some of the options, I came across something. Left 4 Dead on the PC has a "Colorblind mode" option! Making sure I hadn't overlooked it on the Xbox version, I quickly threw it in my 360. No dice. Why would something so simple be left out of the console version? I have no clue, but man am I glad I now own the PC version. While it's not game-changing, the things they do change are very much appreciated. Take a look at Bill being mauled by a Hunter in both options:

Original color scheme

With colorblind mode on

With my expert editing skills, I've pointed out the differences
With these slight changes, the game is just much easier to play. Things that should be instantly noticed now are. Not that I had a problem knowing when a Hunter was on Bill before, but the new white outline is a breath of fresh air regardless.

As for puzzle games, thankfully most of them have a colorblind mode, or have symbols on the things anyway (the exception I can think of being Bust-A-Move, which has NO colorblind mode). However, developers should be careful with which symbols they pick. For example:

Do I match up the T with the squiggles? Or the other squiggles with a T?
I can't play puzzle quest because it's just so confusing which things to match up. Hexic does a good job on putting various basic shapes on their objects, and Bejeweled is nice enough to just use shapes to start with.

One game that fails in the color department is Overlord. It was the first game I bought for my 360 about a year and a half ago. I stopped playing it for several reasons, but I couldn't remember why.....until I tried playing it again yesterday. There are four types of minions in the game: red, green, brown, and blue. With the exception of blue, THEY ALL LOOK THE GODDAMN SAME. It's always easier for me to distinguish colors when nothing is moving and I can someone concentrate to notice any slight differences, but those conditions never really exist in games, especially Overlord when your minions are going all over the place. Not to mention the layer of brown all the cool games have over them for "realism!"

Speaking of brown realism, I love games that stray as far from that as possible. Rich, vibrant colors that stick out like it's nobody's business. This is one reason I bought Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. I mean, just look at it!

Just looking at it brings me a smile of great color justice!
Mario games have also had a good track record of vibrant colors, and Nintendo in general, really. I miss the old days when they only had a limited amount of colors to work with and no one cared what "mauve" was.

Hopefully more (see: most) games in the future will include this option if possible. I can't see it being that much trouble, seeing as how it's just a couple color switches. Luckily, someone long ago decided that if two unnamed teams are going against each other, one is the Red team and the other is the Blue team, as seen in Team Fortress 2, 3v3 Arcade Hockey, and Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars (all of which I play a bunch). All developers should adopt the tagline: "No rods, No cones, No problem!"
[Yes I realize that colorblindness doesn't mean we have NO cones/rods, but it makes for a catchier tagline, damnit!]

One day.....   read

6:05 PM on 04.13.2009

Judging Games: Nostalgia vs. Quality

First blog post, be kind!

This is an idea I've been thinking about for some time now. For a very long time, my top three games have been:

1. Shining Force II
2. Final Fantasy: Tactics
3. TMNT: Turtles In Time

In past years, however, so many good games come out that I've played and said "This is like the greatest game ever!" but never really consider them for my top games (at least, not the top three). And even as I look at these three, I realize that SF2 and FF:T are both strategy games, and quite frankly, FF:T is the better game, quality-wise. Especially with the remake on the PSP with a better translation and new classes, the game is much deeper and more in-depth than SF2. However, I just can't seem to knock the almighty Shining Force II off it's number one spot. It was my FIRST tactics game, and I instantly fell in love with it. My friend and I liked it so much we used to swap off the controller between us just so we can both watch and play. Playing it through again now (thanks to the Virtual Console!), it's still a very fun game, and it's not bad by any means, but had I not played this game in my youth, I highly doubt it would climb very high in my favorite ranks. TMNT: Turtles in Time also plays the nostalgia card. I can remember pumping quarters into this machine plenty of times. There are definitely "better" beat'em-ups out there, but the combination of TMNT (nostalgic in itself) and a great beat'em-up from my childhood have landed it the number three spot. So here in lies the dilemma.

A classic case of nostalgia vs quality would have to be Final Fantasy 7. For just about as many lovers of the game that there are, there are an equal amount of game-lover-haters. That is to say, people who can't stand those who praise FF7 as "the best RPG of all time" or something along those lines. I don't think it's quite that good, but it IS my favorite numbered Final Fantasy game. And I know that part of the reason I think that is because it was my first major RPG played, and it was a wonderful time. I've since played other Final Fantasy games, and I don't like any of them quite as much as 7.

Another problem comes into play with regards to game sequels. For example: Say Pokemon Red/Blue is your favorite game. Well, as they keep cranking out Pokemon, they keep cranking out games. Here we are now in the fourth generation, with Diamond/Pearl/Platinum. These games have most definitely perfected what it means to be a Pokemon game. Very clean, accessible UI, a crap-ton (that's metric, by the way) of Pokemon to catch within the game itself, plenty of events and games to take place in, wifi capabilities, etc. It's got anything your little Poke-heart can desire. Generation bias aside, it's difficult to argue that Red/Blue is better than Diamond/Pearl/Platinum. There are two things R/B has going for it, though: without it, there would be no D/P/P, and nostalgia.

Bottom line is: nostalgia is a powerful thing, a force to be reckoned with. I myself cannot decide on my own dilemma, but I think it's safe to say my top three will be safe for a while.   read

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