Finally the time has come to post the sophomore entry in my Bill 69 blog series!! Things really got busy there for Sieve and I after my debut entry back in March. With everyday life happenings in the way we didn’t get to complete more of these hordes of retro games we’re conquesting on up until the last little while. The first game that fell to our mighty thumbs and fingers this time around (completed on June 28, 2013) was none other than a certain classic NES title I picked up for cheap on eBay a while back . . .
Little Nemo!! This game was released on the NES in 1990, I never had it as a kid but Sieve did and we used to love it and play it do death back then. The game features just one player action, and the story revolves around a little boy named Nemo, who in his dreams visits a place called Slumberland. Nemo doesn’t have any weapons on his person at first, but he gets by with feeding hungry animals candy and putting them to sleep. Once they are asleep Nemo jumps inside of them and can control them, using their powers to advance through the levels! The animals you get to control in this game include frogs, gorillas, bumblebees, crabs, lizards, and more.
There are eight total levels in this game, including Mushroom Forest, Flower Garden, House of Toys, Night Sea, Nemo’s House, Cloud Ruins, Topsy Turvy, and Nightmare Land (which is broken up in to three sub-levels which you have to complete all together, very difficult). To make it through the game Nemo has to collect a certain amount of keys in each level, to unlock the door that waits at the end of each one. His ultimate goal is to rescue the king of Slumberland, Morpheus, who has been kidnapped by the evil Nightmare Lord from Nightmare Land. Nemo is informed of this by Morpheus’ daughter, Princess Camille. With her and a few other allies helping Nemo out along the way . . . as well as a handy weapon that comes in to play later on in the game, Nemo may just be the one to solve this little problem.
This is a tough game, especially that most difficult eighth and final level. It took Sieve and I a few nights and many hours to do it, but we got our timing down, remembered how to beat each level as we went along, and eventually put the Nightmare Lord in his place. Another fantastic Capcom game!!
The second game that we completed (finishing it just recently, on December 04, 2013) was the very first NES game I ever owned. This is the game that is most likely responsible for my now lifelong obsession with playing video games. The title in question is none other than . . .
Renegade!! Renegade was released by Taito in 1987 and is based on the arcade game of the same name (of course with a lot of changes involved). The arcade game was apparently a very revolutionary title for it’s day, heavily influencing future beat ‘em up style adventures. In this version for the NES you control a guy known to us only as “Mr. K”. For reasons unknown he is obsessed with taking down a gang of street thugs, your job is to take control of Mr. K and guide him along this journey (the game is only 1 player), taking on all comers and leaving none standing!
There are four stages in this game, the first three of which are very short and simple. The fourth and final stage though is a bit of a maze, as there are multiple paths you can take. Only one path will lead you to the final boss, the other routes all lead back to the start of the level and see you have to start all over again (not to mention sometimes re-fight bosses you defeated earlier in the game)! Along the way you have to deal with typical street thugs, ninjas, groups of ho bags swinging chains and purses at you, as well as young Elvis look-alikes you have to jump kick off of motorcycles! The moves available to you are a punch, back kick, jump kick, grab (from which you can knee enemies in the groin and then throw them), as well as sprinting, which can be both an offensive and defensive move. There are four bosses in the game, including Jack (a painted face thug who looks like somebody out of The Warriors), Joel (a denim clad bloke who looks like the leader of a biker gang), Kim (a whole lotta woman!), and Sabu (a guy in green army fatigues who’s gun kills you in one shot). If you can beat them all you’ve done Mr. K proud and completed the game!
This is a relatively easy game in the grand scheme of things. There are no continues, which is a bit of a challenge, but if you know the correct path to the end boss in the fourth level, have the patience to engage him properly, and really buckle down and concentrate so as not to lose any lives before said boss, it’s easy peasy! But if you get lost in the maze in the fourth stage and rush the last boss fight, things can go awry pretty quickly. This is such a super fun game!
The last game we completed in this trifecta (again on December 04, 2013) is an absolute classic for the Sega Genesis, one of my favourite games of all time even . . . the fabulous . . .
Golden Axe!! It was released by Sega in 1989 and although I never had the cartridge back then, Sieve did and we used to play it to death. As soon as I got in to the whole downloading thing in the Virtual Arcade on my Wii, this is one of the very first games I snapped up, so good! The premise of the game is that in a medieval looking type of land, the kingdom there has been accosted by a fiend known as Death Adder. Said fiend has taken the King and his daughter hostage in an attempt to gain control of their population, on his quest to becoming the ultimate ruler of the land. Enter our heroes. You can pick between three warriors to control (the game is 1 or 2 players), Gilius Thunderhead (a battle axe wielding dwarf), Ax Battler (a barbarian who carries a large broadsword), and Tyris Flare (a sexy femme who engages enemies with her long sword). These three warriors are the land of Yuria’s only hope against Death Adder!
The game is broken up in to eight total stages, mostly medium in length with some short ones mixed in. As you battle your way through each stage on your way to the palace for your date with Death Adder, you will be confronted by various types of enemies. They range from orc looking creatures armed with clubs, sword swinging skeletons, amazonian type female warriors, giants, knights, and finally the main bosses of the game Death Adder Jr., Death Adder, and Death Bringer! Along the way your main weapons will of course be the axe and swords your characters carry in their hands, but each warrior also has differing types of magic they can use, so collecting potion bottles is a must. There are also a few different creatures that will show up from time to time, which your characters can mount once you knock your enemies off of them. The dragons that shoot fire are the most lethal and can really help you out of a jam, but on the other hand when your enemies use them on you they are just as lethal! If you have what it takes to brawl and battle your way through these eight stages and then successfully confront Death Bringer, you’ve beaten the game and can go buy yourself something nice for your efforts!
Like Renegade, Golden Axe can be a fairly easy game, but only if you really concentrate and play at your best. If you suffer some deaths early and use up some continues you may eventually reach the end of the game, but you may not have enough lives to spare to beat it. Whether you consider Golden Axe easy or whether you consider it hard one thing is for certain, this is one of the best video games ever made!
The last few weeks have been a little bit crazy, sometimes in a good way, sometimes not so much! The weekend after I last blogged we had our first Christmas party of the year, believe it or not. It was for my Mom’s side of the family to be exact, as she has 5 sisters and it’s hard to get everybody together during the bustle of December. They rent out a room in the bottom of the Legion and there is lots of food, drink, gift auctions, etc. The kids always have a blast and my board game loving cousin usually brings something to entertain us “adults”. The weekend after that was a wild one. On Friday night one of our friends took my wife to a high school play as a belated birthday celebration. Our other friends from Hamilton came down and surprised her as well, so the girls all went to the play while the three of us boys went to the hockey game (London Knights). We got pretty hammered and then got even more gibbled once we returned home to our friends’ house. It was pretty raucous, and I eventually passed out clean in the middle of the living room floor. The next morning I woke up and quickly walked home, showered, puked, went to bed . . . and when I woke up it was all of a sudden a winter wonderland outside. It was cold and clear on my walk home, but just a few hours later there was a foot of snow on the ground with another foot to come! Unfortunately I was hungover the rest of the weekend, and the wife wanted to put out the Christmas decorations. But I struggled through it and the snow as least saved me from having to put up the outside lights. And then this past weekend James and I were alone for two nights leading up to it, as the wife went with her mom to the Toronto area for some Black Friday shopping. James and I ate lots of junk food and played Mega Man, and that was pretty much about it. We loved bachelorhood! When she got home we got back to the regular routine of things. James had a birthday party on Saturday for his girlfriend Addison, and then on Sunday had a playdate with his friend Sam. While he was with Sam we went to the mall and upgraded our cell phones to some new iPhones, and got a new digital box with a built in PVR. Like I said, it’s been wild! In the meantime my Leafs are still managing to gain points here and there, but they have been wildly inconsistent, not only from game to game but even period by period. They need to shore things up and quickly. I’ve got some of my Christmas shopping done, but still have a good chunk to go. Recently it’s been raining, which has taken a lot of the snow away . . . hopefully things will get colder and we’ll get some more of the white stuff on the ground! Throughout all this action here is what I managed to get accomplished . . .
1) On NHL ’02 I finished off my second round series with the Boston Bruins, which ended as such: won @ Boston 14-6 & won @ Boston 13-2. Elsewhere around the league, in the East Philadelphia beat New Jersey four games to two. And in the West Colorado beat Detroit four games to one, while Dallas beat San Jose four games to one as well. Next up . . . Philadelphia!! Losers . . .
2) Unlike last time, this time around I made some really good progress on Lego Harry Potter: years 5-7! To start off we headed to Professor Flitwick’s classroom, where he demonstrated how to destroy shiny steel objects. We then wandered around his classroom and destroyed the five steel statues he had set out for us as a test, by doing so we unlocked the Reducto charm (which also earned us a Gold Brick)! During our wanderings we also unlocked the Justin Finch-Fletchley, Hannah Abbott and Professor Flitwick characters, and helped 1 Student in Peril. Our next stop was Dumbledore’s office, where a cutscene of us trying to view Slughorn’s tainted memory in the penseive played. Afterwards I made my way through Hogwarts on our way to Slughorn’s office, unlocking the Fred (OWLs) and Ron (Green Shirt) characters, helping 1 Student in Peril, and even finding a Red Brick in the process! After an unsuccessful attempt to get Slughorn to give us his full memory we returned to our dorm room, where Ron ate chocolates that were steeped in a love potion! So it was then back to Slughorn’s office we went, which kicked off the fourth level of this chapter, called “Love Hurts”. I began by exploring Slughorn’s office, looking for three ingredients to throw in a nearby cauldron and create a potion. The potion cured Ron of his ailment, but when we had a celebratory drink afterwards it ended up being poisoned, and Ron went down again the poor guy! I searched and found a key to Slughorn’s supply cabinet and took a bezoar, what was needed to cure Ron, and saved the day. A cutscene then played of Malfoy spying on us, running away afterwards. We took off after him and tracked him to a bathroom. Inside I dueled Malfoy and beat him, causing him to run and hide in one of the stalls. After some investigating I managed to flush Malfoy out of said stall, literally, and we dueled once more. This time I used a spell from the Half-Blood Prince’s text book and the duel ended violently. After the destruction I wreaked on Malfoy Harry’s friends told him to get rid of the book, so Ginny and I went to the Room of Requirement to stow it away. We brewed a strength potion and also used some of the Weasley brothers’ gadgets to navigate our way around all the junk in the room, and eventually hid the book. In the process we found Malfoy’s warp box that he’d been using for nefarious purposes, not realizing what it was. Afterwards Ginny and I kissed and the level ended. During this level I earned True Wizard status as well as 2 Gold Bricks (one for the level completion and one for the status achievement). Once this level was over I went back to the Leaky Cauldron and purchased that Red Brick I’d found earlier, which ended up containing the Stud Magnet extra. Heading out to Diagon Alley I then found a new area that led to Knockturn Alley. Exploring it I unlocked the Slytherin Twin #1 and Slytherin Twin #2 characters, found 1 Gold Brick, and purchased 1 more Gold Brick. With business done here I then headed back to Hogwarts, on our way we unlocked the Mary Cattermole, Mafalda Hopkirk, Luna (Overalls), Lily (Young Casual), Michael Corner, Harry (Winter) and Cornelius Fudge characters, helped 2 Students in Peril, and found 1 Gold Brick. Once back at the school, after taking the Felix Felicis potion, we met Slughorn at the greenhouses. I helped him obtain a plant sample but then a giant plant came up out of the ground and attacked us. This led to the fifth level, called “Felix Felicis”. To begin I explored the outside of the greenhouses, then used some spells to access a couple of the actual greenhouses insides. I was able to blast away at the plant’s roots, which caused it to back off a bit. I then went to the main plant and finished the job off, which allowed us to move outside the greenhouse walls, where we headed down in to a field of sorts. We soon came across Hagrid, who was mourning the death of Aragog. Slughorn was psyched with the fact that he could get a sample of the giant spider’s venom, and so I searched around and eventually built him a contraption that would allow him to drain said venom. After the job we had a funeral for Aragog, in Hagrid’s hut later on I was finally able to convince Slughorn to give me his intact memory of Tom Riddle. During this level I earned True Wizard status, found 1 Crest Piece, unlocked the Professor Sprout character, and earned 2 Gold Bricks (completion and status). That’s it for now!
3) As for Planes, it is finally done! The last thing we had to do was play Ripslinger’s story, which began with the “Trouble for Propwash” level. Ripslinger is of course tired of Dusty and his winning ways, so he plans on shutting the champ down by messing with Propwash Junction. Our first task was to smash through a half dozen billboards with Dusty’s mug on them, afterwards we went and equipped a vortex cannon to our rides. With it we blew up the town’s water towers, to jam the river full of debris and block the flow of water. The last task was to cut up the corn fields with our propellers and ruin the crops. On this level we earned a Platinum medal. The second level was called “Doppeldusty”, in it Ripslinger was trying to set Dusty up for a fall. We began by finding paint cans scattered about the environment, then went to an old warehouse and got all gussied up in Dusty’s colours. After equipping a paint sprayer we flew around and graffiti-ed the entire area. Our last step was to get a camera and take photo evidence of the damage “Dusty” had done. On this level we earned a Platinum medal. Third came the “Ripslinger Smash” level. We showed up early to a race and in a rage over Dusty’s insolence ended up wrecking the course by destroying the various checkpoints. Unfortunately the best we could manage on this level was a Gold medal. The fourth and final level, and our last for the game, was called “Flying Blind”. Ripslinger sneaks in to a Wings Around the Globe race and plans to have some fun at the other racers’ expense. We began by equipping paint sprayers and painted all of the competing planes up in bright colours, then went in for a quick landing. However, upon landing we were busted by the race officials and suspended from the circuit! On this level we earned a Platinum medal, plus we also unlocked the Ripslinger, Globe Trotter!, and All Bronze Medals achievements. Game review incoming, lots of fun this one was!!
4) The next three series of my season are complete on MLB 2K11! First up we were in Los Angeles to play the Angels, which went as such: won @ L.A. 10-1, won @ L.A. 4-2 & won @ L.A. 10-7 (12 innings). Next up the Baltimore Orioles came to town, and that broke down as follows: won vs. Baltimore 3-2, won vs. Baltimore 13-4 & won vs. Baltimore 12-0. Finally was a four game set in Kansas City against the Royals, which went: won @ K.C. 8-0, won @ K.C. 9-0, won @ K.C. 3-1 (13 innings) & won @ K.C. 13-1.
5) On Cars I made a bunch more progress, the next mini-game that I chose to play was Sheriff’s, said game was called “Fishin’ Mater”. At Sheriff’s urging I took control of Mater and went down to the river, using my tow hook as a fishing rod! My goal was to fish as much debris out of the river as I could, within the given time limit. I survived five rounds to win the game. Next up was Mater, who’s mini-game was called “World’s Best Backwards Driver”. In it I had to drive Mater backwards and gain as much speed as possible, before hitting a ramp and shooting up in to the sky! Mater’s goal was to reach the moon . . . my goal on the other hand was to collect as many stars as possible on my jump, and reach the target amount. After surviving five rounds I won the game. Lightning McQueen came next, his mini-game being “Highway Hassle”. Mack fell asleep at the wheel while driving down the highway and his trailer door opened up, allowing all of Lightning’s various trophies to go off bouncing down the road! My job was to take control of Lightning and collect these trophies as they fell, sorting them in to the right coloured bins. After five rounds the game was done. For my victory another Piston Cup race was unlocked, in this second race of Lightning’s season I outdueled Chick Hicks in an 8 lap affair, nabbing the checkered flag. Back to the mini-games the next character up was D.J., who’s game was “Ramone Style”. In it D.J. played some “sick” beats out of his massive stereo. With Ramone my task was to replicate these beats in the correct order, after five rounds I completed the job. Luigi came next, his mini-game called “Casa Della Tires”! A tractor had knocked over the leaning tower of tires out front of Luigi’s store, so using Guido my job was to rebuild the tower within the given time limit. Over a course of five rounds where the tower got higher and higher I got the job done yet again. Finally came a tractor, whose mini-game was called “Tractor Tippin’”. With Mater I had to go to three different fields and creep around in the middle of the night, using my horn to scare and tip tractors. The only way I could have been stopped is if I got caught by big old Frank! For this victory I unlocked another Piston Cup race. In this third race of the season I got the better of Chick Hicks again, winning a 10 lap affair. More to come!
6) Continuing on with Transformers: Prime, the fourth game level was called “Captured!”. The level started with Bumblebee being held captive by the Decepticons in an Energon mine. Raf soon showed up though and managed to hack Bee out of his restraints, then open up a nearby door. As I made my escape I had to battle a lot of Vehicons before entering a large chamber. Said chamber was full of Cons, some of them the annoying helicopter kind. After defeating them and destroying some Energon deposits I made my way up a ramp to an elevator where Raf was hiding. The security in the mine was too tight, so when we ascended the elevator and got out on a new floor Raf searched for their security system. After figuring it out I took Bumblebee out through this level of the mine, battling more Vehicons, and reached the physical location of the system, destroying it. While I was out Raf’s elevator fell under attack, so I then raced back to him and took out the offending Cons. When we took the elevator to ground level Knockout was waiting for me, so I had to outduel the slick talker in a boss fight! Afterwards I heard from Bulkhead about Miko’s capture, and when I went back to collect Raf he was missing as well. During this level I found 2/2 Cybertron Artifacts and earned a B ranking. Fifth came the “Dark Envoy” level. It began with Ratchet waking up a discombobulated Optimus Prime, who is lying next to the giant that came out of the asteroid originally and sent the Autobots all plummeting back to Earth . . . a being by the name of Thunderwing! I battled the somewhat now disabled beast as best I could, until the Nemesis showed up. Megatron and his lot then attacked, so I beat a hasty retreat through the nearby ruins. A ground bridge was opened up for us but our way was barred by many Vehicons, not to mention blasts coming down from the Nemesis. Ratchet got cut off from me in the end though, while I got blasted through the ground bridge. During this level I found 2/2 Cybertron Artifacts and earned an S ranking. The sixth and final level I’ve played so far was “Shock and Dread”. To begin, a cutscene played of Megatron forcing Ratchet to repair Thunderwing, in exchange for Thunderwing’s temporary allegiance to the Decepticon cause. Afterwards I took control of Bumblebee in some sort of canyon, he was searching out some manner of Decepticon signal in the area. I took on a small amount of Vehicons, then scaled some ledges before meeting up with Arcee. We then stumbled upon Dreadwing hacking an object out of a fallen piece of the asteroid. Seeing us he then took off, but we gave chase and were soon able to subdue him, bringing him crashing back down to Earth. After a drawn out boss fight with the more than capable Decepticon, Soundwave snuck in and stole the object of the Decepticon’s desires. During this level I found 2/2 Cybertron Artifacts and earned an S ranking. Love this game . . .
7) The other game I finished this time around was Aliens: Infestation, it ended up being another amazing game! Picking up where I left off, the fourth level was up next. I began by making my way through the Weyland facility on Phobos. To begin with I encountered one stranded Marine and a minimal alien presence, although I did encounter some sentry guns. This place was a mostly underground facility, as I worked my way lower I found an access key card which supposedly gave me access to the upper communications levels. Moving along I then reached the start of the lowest levels of the facility. I began running in to different breeds of aliens, so it was apparent that whatever was going on they were somehow genetically modifying the creatures. Still searching around I found a smart gun while battling many of the smaller aliens, and then also found an override device for the sentry guns. Heading back to the upper levels of the facility, I explored the areas I couldn’t reach before because of the sentry guns. As I got close to the top of the facility the whole place began to shake, rattle and roll! The sensors said the source was coming from the top floor, when I finally got to the roof I found a massive, mutated alien boss to engage in an epic clash with! Me 1 – Alien 0 . . . level over. The fifth and final level of the game saw our team head back to the Sulaco, to perform a mop up operation by ridding the ship of all bugs. When we first set out we ran in to U.P.P. head honcho Sean Davis, who was disappointed that we were going to get rid of all his “specimens”. He then sicked his soldiers on us and enacted some manner of override command on the ship. Setting out after this debacle I finally managed to get my hands on the wrench!! This allowed me access to new areas of the ship that were previously barred by pipes spewing hissing steam. In so doing I soon found the access level 4 key card, upon gaining it I then took off in pursuit of Davis. However, some wreckage eventually blocked my way and I had to give up momentarily on my revenge. Radioing Commander Steele he told me to look for some explosives to clear the wreckage. Not long afterwards I ran in to a couple of stranded Marines who gave me all their gear and wished me good luck. I went back and used the explosives on said wreckage. Steele then got in touch with me and said the ship was set to head for Mars, and we couldn’t possibly let it reach that destination, for the beasts would massacre the population! My job was now to destroy the ship and completely eradicate the threat. To do so I searched out the four cooling regulators and switched them all off, hoping to overheat the reactor. However, the ship had a failsafe in place for such an occurrence and our plan failed. Plan B was to then get to the control room and crash the ship in to the Marian desert, hopefully destroying everything in a violent collision! To get to the bridge I had to don a space suit (after first finding the oxygen tank to provide my air supply) and head out to the ship’s hull, making my way to the bridge from the outside as the elevator was down. After altering the controls to crash the ship, my commands were overridden by that weasel Davis! So I tracked him to the cargo area of the ship and headed down there to have it out with him once and for all. Upon reaching Davis I also reached something else . . . the biggest alien I’d encountered yet!! After praising this creature and it’s destructive ways, Davis was then devoured by it. Thus kicked off the boss fight to end all boss fights! Using my weaponry to it’s fullest degree, as well as some conveniently placed sentry guns, I eventually took this beast down in one heck of an effort. The explosions resulting from this fight damaged the ship and sent it hurtling through space though, the last thing I heard before the game ended was for me to reach a drop ship and get the heck out of there . . . this game is fucking awesome!!!
8) With us finishing off Planes, James and I decided to start out on our next Wii adventure . . . none other than Rayman: Raving Rabbids 2!! After invading Rayman’s home world in an earlier adventure, the Rabbids are now set on infiltrating Earth. The Rabbids have studied the Earthlings’ history, trends and fads, and are set at invading every aspect of their life, in an attempt to take control of the planet! Your job is to stop the invasion (I think), and you do so by partaking in series of mini-games, usually against three other players. The series of mini-games are divided up in to “Trips”. When James and I started on this game the first trip we took was to “U.S.A.”. The mini-games we played on this trip included “Dial R for Rabbid” (at the movies we had to text on our cellphone when the lights came on, whoever texted the most won, I was the victor with 768 points), “Spider Rabbid” (we had to chase a Rabbid acting as Spider Man on the city streets, whoever hit him with a rocket then became Spider Rabbid until they were hit with a rocket in turn, I won with a total of 8267 points), “Usual Rabbids” (in this game we witnessed four rounds of crimes, after each crime scene we had to pick out the offending Rabbid from a criminal lineup, I won with 3504 points), “American Football” (with four footballing Rabbids on a field we had to tackle each other to gain possession of the football, then hold on to it for as long as possible, I won with 14016 points), “Are We There Yet?” (in a car full of Rabbids stuck in a traffic jam, we had to quiet down the Rabbids in the back seats who were getting out of control, unfortunately we both scored 0 points as we didn’t quite get the hang of this one!) & “Papa’s Got . . .” (with some Rabbids playing a band gig at a restaurant we had to hit the notes on our instruments by following the control commands on the screen, I won with 6670 points). Throughout play on this first trip we managed to unlock three new costumes, one of which was for Rayman. We also unlocked our first “Shooting Game”. So we then headed to the arcade, where we played said game, called “Big City Fights”. In it we tramped around the streets of New York (I think it’s in New York, anyways) and used a toilet plunger gun to take out hordes of raving Rabbids who were rampaging through the streets. For our victory we unlocked another costume. The second trip we’ve been able to play up to this point was “South America”. The mini-games it included were “Fart Wars” (after eating too much chili we had to fly through a long canyon on the power of our farts alone, whoever flew the best won, I came out on top with 12259 points), “Burgeritos” (we had to balance plates of sandwiches while delivering them to waiting customers on a rooftop restaurant, without falling off the roof or dropping the food, I won with 470 points), “Yummy Butterflies” (in this game we wandered around the forest eating butterflies, and hitting the other Rabbids so they would spit out their butterflies, I won with 5747 points), “Bumper Cars” (simply an awesome round of rooftop bumper cars, I won with 6605 points), “O.K. Corral” (a stand-off in the wild west, we had to draw against other Rabbids in a gun fight, I won with 3085 points) & “Celebration” (another music game where we had to replicate the control commands in time to the beat, I won with 7557 points). During these mini-games we unlocked two new costumes for Rayman, as well as a new Shooting Game. Checking out the new game afterwards it was called “Greatest Hits”. In it we pretty much did the same, tramp around New York and blast away at scores of Rabbids, but this one ended with a cool submarine/robot boss fight. Definitely more to come since James is involved, he loves this shit now!
9) I also started out on a new DS game, seeing as Aliens was done. I chose to play Lego: Battles, which is the same style of game as the Lego Battles: Ninjago game that I recently finished! It’s less of an action game and more of a half strategy/half action game that sees you build various types of structures, soldiers and builders, then take them out to engage your enemy in a series of missions. To start play off on this game I went directly to the game’s Story Mode, where the only available option was the “King Story”. “Act 1” of the King Story consists of five levels, the first of which is “Dark Shadows”. Our kingdom’s border outposts were being attacked by the evil Wizard’s forces, my job was to repair the castle and fortify said outposts. To begin I immediately spent a few minutes defending the kingdom against the remaining attackers in the area, then created a builder and got him building a farm and barracks. With those structures in place I started spitting out warriors, as well as the King, followed by some additional builders. I set the builders about creating some more farms to support our war effort, once they were through I took control of my various warriors and ravaged the surrounding land, destroying all traces of our enemy in the area. During this level I found the Minikit as well as 20/20 blue Lego studs. Level two was called “Costly Distractions”, in it some skeleton warriors had moved in on our farmlands, so we had to act quickly to ensure the defense of our food supply. To start off I had to defend four of our farms against enemy warriors, afterwards I built a lumber mill, mine, barracks, and some towers for defense. I then set out with my own warriors and found their two base locations, destroying both bases and all enemy units. During this level I found the Minikit as well as 20/20 blue Lego studs. Level three was “The Great Library”. Our kingdom’s library was under attack and that was bad, as we couldn’t let all of that accumulated knowledge fall in to the hands of that evil Wizard. First off I went to said library and defended it against all invaders in the vicinity. Afterwards I had a team of builders construct a lumber mill, mine, castle, barracks, and towers for defense. Lucky thing too as I then had to defend our location against more waves of enemy soldiers! Once they were out of the way we set out across the land and found our aggressors, destroying all their structures and units. During this level I found the Minikit as well as 20/20 blue Lego studs. “1000 Tree Woods” was the fourth level. A long time ago a magical scroll was purported to have been hidden in said woods. Our elders believe it has the power to reveal the evil Wizard’s nefarious plans, so my task was to find it. I began by setting up a barracks, some farms, a lumber mill, and many towers for defense. I left the King behind to be guarded by the towers, then set off with my warriors. We hacked and slashed the woods, taking out hordes of hidden enemies, eventually finding the scroll. The King came and claimed it and then we escaped back to our kingdom! During this level I found the Minikit, Red Brick, as well as 20/20 blue Lego studs. The fifth and final level was “Bridge the Gap”. Retreating enemy forces had cut off our supply routes, so we had to rectify the situation. I began by establishing a home base, building a castle, along with some farms, lumber mills, a barracks, mine, all under the protection of some towers. With my warriors we then set out and rampaged across the land, defeating many enemies. Afterwards we built a bridge over the river, as well as some boats to patrol the river and help our warriors cross to otherwise inaccessible areas of land. We took on hordes of enemy warriors and destroyed them all along with their base structures and city walls, ending the level. During this level I found the Minikit as well as 20/20 blue Lego studs. I also unlocked the Dwarf character, as well as the Wizard Story, Pirate Story, and Earth Story. Phew.
10) Finally, I made the mistake of showing James the various Mega Man games I have downloaded to my Wii and he is now super obsessed!! So we have started play on Mega Man 9 as our current game of choice. The premise of this installment is that Dr. Wily has all of a sudden renounced his ways and turned good (yeah, right!). After this announcement the opposite holds true for Dr. Light, he apparently has gone rogue and has his robotic creations terrorizing the population! Mega Man realizes this situation for what it probably is, a scam by Dr. Wily to set up Dr. Light and in so doing remove him from the equation. We then had to take Mega Man on his usual quest to defeat eight of Dr. Wily’s robotic baddies, and so far we’ve completed just one level, the boss in question being “Galaxy Man”. This level took place in a highly polished, futuristic looking land of gleaming metal! We made our way up and down ladders, through corridors and across gaps, all the while battling Galaxy Man’s minions like small UFOs, helicopters, and other robotic contraptions, not to mention green and orange organic eyeball looking organisms. We also had to avoid a lot of deadly spikes, and after navigating an area of these strange warp launchers, came to the boss. This was a pretty easy fight in the grand scheme of things, after figuring out his pattern we took Galaxy Man down and gained his weapon, the Black Hole Bomb. We’ll see how the rest of the game unfolds!!
“NNGRR” - The weekend after my last blog James and I watched the Lego Bionicle: Mask of Light movie on Netflix! This film takes place within the universe created by the Lego toy line, featuring strange biomechanical creatures which are generally known as the Bionicle. The setting is a small island community full of these creatures, an island that was visited and blessed long ago by the spirit Mata Nui. However, Mata Nui’s evil brother Makuta soon showed up and cast a spell on Mata Nui, causing him to fall in to an endless slumber. With Mata Nui out of the way Makuta was free to submit the citizens of Mata Nui (for they named the island after him) to any torments he so desired. Fast forward many years and the story revolves around two young Bionicles named Jaller and Takua. Takua has gone to explore the lava flows under their kingdom and in so doing discovers a mask that emits a bright light. Deciding to save news of this mask until after their game of Kolhii is over, the two are stunned to eventually learn that this mask is part of a legend that states when it is worn by the right Bionicle, will transform him or her in to the seventh Toa (the Toa are special Bionicles that defend their citizens from harm), who in turn will defeat Makuta’s forces and awaken Mata Nui, freeing the island to it’s previous safe and happy state. The two friends then set out on a journey to find out just who is supposed to be wearing this Mask of Light. Along the way they face many perils, receiving aid from many of the six Toa they encounter along the way. In the end they find out that Takua is actually the herald, the one meant to wear the mask and become the seventh Toa all along! But will the reimagined Takua be able to challenge Makuta and come out the victor . . . maybe, but only if he uses some fancy tricks he’s been saving for a rainy day!! This was a decent movie, I much prefer the regular type of Lego movies for sure, but it was an entertaining watch nonetheless. Cool to finally see what Bionicle is about after all these years!!
Later that following week I finished watching season four of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on DVD!! In this season the shit really starts to get heavy, gone are the one off episodes that used to make up a lot of the previous seasons, and in are the three, sometimes even four episode mini-series that help an even deeper storyline unfold. The season starts out with Anakin, Ahsoka and Padme helping to solve a dispute on Mon Calamari between the two native species, the Quarren and the Mon Calamari, followed by a quick trip to Naboo to uncover a plot involving a Gungan shaming tricking his people in to attacking the Naboo. Not long after Anakin is leading an engagement on the plant of Umbara when he is called away by the Jedi council, in his place Jedi Pong Krell takes over command of Captain Rex and his regiment of clone troopers. Captain Rex must eventually confront Krell about his combat decisions though, as he seems to continually lead Rex and his cohorts in to increasingly risky situations when much smarter alternatives are available . . . the depth of Krell’s treachery will then be displayed! Next Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka go undercover on the planet of Zygerria to investigate an apparent slaving operation that Count Dooku and the Separatists have taken an interest in. Anakin must try and change the Queen of Zygerria’s attitudes before more harm can come to innocents and Jedi alike. The next operation sees Obi-Wan fake his death and go highly undercover, posing as a mercenary named Rako Hardeen. He falls in with bounty hunter Cad Bane and Separatist leader Count Dooku, who the Jedi believe are planning an assassination attempt on Chancellor Palpatine at a future ceremony on Naboo. Anakin is miffed that he was not brought in on the plan, but in the end the operation succeeds so all is good. And finally the season kicks the bucket with Savage Opress continuing his search for his lost brother Darth Maul, and eventually finding him on a junk planet . . . but Maul is not in great shape, being reduced to a wild, blathering animal! However, Opress takes him to Dathomir and Mother Talzin restores Maul’s mind and body, and he is bent on one thing . . . revenge on Obi-Wan Kenobi!! The brothers lay down a challenge for the Jedi and Obi-Wan races off to confront them, only narrowly escaping with his life thanks to interference from his former enemy Asajj Ventress. Linking these sequences of events are some other one off episodes that sees R2-D2 and C-3PO have some more adventures, peace talks between the Republic and the Separatists break down, and Count Dooku getting his revenge on Asajj Ventress by wiping out her entire Nightsister clan on Dathomir. This was an amazing season, so many cool characters and places came in to the mix, and with it ending with Darth Maul entering the storyline I was like a kid in a candy store! Can’t wait to watch the final season, hopefully soon . . .
A couple Sundays ago I finished reading the third book in the Septimus Heap series, called Physik. To start this story off things are as back to normal as they can be for the Heap family and the other residents of the palace. There have been no signs of that troublemaker Simon Heap at all, but things do go awry when Silas Heap unseals a room in the attic of the palace that has been holding back the partially substantial ghost of one of Jenna’s ancient relatives, the terrible queen Etheldredda. The ancient queen’s evil pet Aie Aie is also released, and it immediately starts biting people, causing a tremendous sickness to spread and for the infirmary to be reopened for the first time in a long time! Not long afterwards Etheldredda tricks Jenna and Septimus, manipulating her son, the great Alchemie master Marcellus Pye, to pull Septimus through one of his magic glasses . . . pull him back in time 500 years to when Etheldredda still ruled that is! Septimus spends over five months 500 years in the distant past, apprenticed to the young Marcellus Pye (who he actually likes a whole lot better than his geezer version, who tricked Septimus in to being sent back in time in the first place). Marcellus is working on a tincture that is to give him everlasting life, hence why he is still alive all those 500 years later, but Marcellus’ awful mother Etheldredda wants the tincture all to herself. In the middle of this power struggle will Septimus be able to trick the young Marcellus and catch him unawares, earning a chance to be sent back to his own time? Or is it up to Jenna, Nicko Heap, and a new friend they’ve made in Snorri Snorrelssen (and her pet cat, Ullr) to find a way to do it from their place in time? Whatever may happen, you know it’s going to be action packed!! This was a cool book, I like how Simon Heap and DomDaniel took a back seat to a new evil that came about, I enjoy the variety this series is offering up so far. I enjoy it so much that I just ordered books four and five online last night!
That same Sunday the 101st Grey Cup was played in Regina, Saskatchewan, with the big trophy up for grabs to crown this year’s best team in the CFL (Canadian Football League)! The showdown was between the hometown Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. I didn’t get to see any of it unfortunately as that weekend happened to be our put up the Christmas decorations weekend, and it is always and absolute shit storm . . . doubly so now that we have two Christmas trees instead of just the normal one! Anyways, myself being a Toronto Argonauts fan I had a clear favourite as one of our arch rivals are the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, so in no way did I want them to win this game!! Fortunately that was the case and the Riders pulled off a lopsided 45-23 victory. Congrats to Saskatchewan on their fourth Grey Cup title in franchise history!
This past weekend I finished the opening book in a new series I’m reading called Seven Wonders, the title of this first book being The Colossus Rises. Jack McKinley is a normal 13 year old boy living in Belleville, Indiana. His mother is no longer with him and his father spends a lot of time overseas working, so he lives a bit of a lonely existence. However, one regular old day when he goes to school all of that changes drastically! In a confrontation with a bully on school property Jack passes out, when he wakes up he’s in a hospital room with his family doctor and a couple of strange men who eventually whisk him away to a strange facility! This facility Jack eventually finds out is called the Karai Institute, after trying an escape attempt and not making it very far. The head of this institute, Professor Bhegdad, explains to Jack that he (and his three inmates Marco, Aly and Cass) are ancient descendants of the Lost City of Atlantis. There is a genetic anomaly inside each of them that, if untreated, would kill them by the time they reach the age of fourteen. Thus why they were all secretly monitored and then evacuated to this facility . . . to keep them alive! However, the kids feel there is more to it than this, that there is something “P Beg” as Marco calls him, is not telling them. After another futile group escape attempt the kids soon realize that they need the treatments they are getting, and that there is at least some truth to what they are being told. However, after finding a small clue to what might help them bring about the return of Atlantis (and in the process hopefully saving their lives from this genetic disorder), the kids go on a journey to a nearby mountain at the Karai Institute, which actually sits on an island thought to be the location of the former site of Atlantis. Inside this mountain the youngsters have a grand adventure they barely escape from, in the process finding the potential key to their salvation. What they find is an ancient relic with seven indentations in it, each indentation able to hold one of the fabled Loculi, artifacts that wielded great power for the ruling Atlantean family way back in the day. Unfortunately while exploring this relic Jack lets loose a griffin, a monster responsible for tracking down the Loculi and safeguarding them. So the kids are then whisked away on their next adventure, following the griffin (who kidnapped Cass) to the Greek island of Rhodes, where they hope to find the Loculi amidst the wreckage of one of the seven ancient wonders of the world, the Colossus of Rhodes! And of course rescue Cass in the process. It’s a wild ride but in the end the kids triumph, although when Jack leaves Marco alone with the Loculi (which gives the user the power of flight) he suddenly disappears and the residents of the Karai Institute are left in disarray as they head back home. This is a really cool book, a very Percy Jackson-ish type of adventure with tons of action and lots of cool history. I’ve always been fascinated by the legend of Atlantis, and I loved learning about the seven wonders of the ancient world in this story, I can’t wait to read book two and see what comes next!
Finally, the last little while I’ve been listening to Oceania (2012), the ninth studio release from The Smashing Pumpkins. The Pumpkins came along on that initial grunge wave back in the early 1990’s and were one of the bands I listened to quite a bit back in the day. When I think of the term “grunge” (and god knows who coined it), the type of sound that word inspires makes me think of The Smashing Pumpkins almost first and foremost. With the tremendous amounts of distortion prevalent in their sound it’s easy to see why they were lumped in with great bands of the same scene like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, etc. All these years later the Pumpkins are still going strong and their sounds is pretty consistent with what is once was. However, with Oceania there are some subtle differences. I noticed a slight electronic influence on this album, and also a fair amount of acoustic guitar scattered about. It’s not nearly as aggressive as their earlier works but it still rocks pretty hard at times. I found this album to be very much a mood setter, gets you to thinking. It sounded like it could have been the exclusive soundtrack to some crazy ass dramatic movie like American Beauty and the like! My favourite tracks on this album include “Quasar”, “Panopticon”, “The Celestials”, “Violet Rays”, “Oceania”, “The Chimera” & “Inkless”.
It’s been quite a while since my last regular blog and for good reason, things have been berserk around here! The weekend after my last blog was James’ birthday weekend, so we had a party at Storybook Gardens with 9 of his crazy friends, followed by a party at home with our families. He got lots of great loot that we’ve been enjoying ever since. The weekend after that we didn’t really do much, but during the week the guys finally came in to fix the leak under my basement window. It only took them one day and I had to re-landscape a bit after their dig, but we’ve had a lot of precipitation since and no leaks, booya!! Such a relief. Two weekends ago we went down to Hamilton to visit our friends and the guys went out to the Bulldogs (AHL team for the Montreal Canadiens) game, who were taking on the Marlies (AHL team for my Maple Leafs). Unfortunately the Marlies lost in overtime, but it was $3 beer night and afterwards we went to a bar where a band named Freedom Train were playing, and it was all good. LOL!
The next day we went out with my wife’s mom for lunch as it was getting close to Mrs. darthcobain17’s birthday. The following weekend was actually my wife’s birthday weekend. We went for dinner at the Mandarin on Friday night, visited out of town friends with their new baby on Saturday and then went to the Santa Claus Day parade, and then on Sunday I gave the wife her present (and she asked for this, fyi), which was to clean her filthy van from top to bottom and get her winter floor mats. We also took her out to lunch at Subway and dinner at The Dancing Greek. As for work, it has been insane here as a hotel we use a lot on the island of Curacao went out of business and we have a couple of groups supposed to be going there in mid-November, as well as a couple of large families around Christmas time, so getting them all sorted out while also dealing with the regular happenings of our busy season has been quite intense. Can’t wait until it’s all over. Along the way I did manage to get a lot of stuff done, and here it all is . . .
1) With the basement fixed I finally got back downstairs and at NHL ’02. I finished off my first round playoff series by dismantling the Washington Capitals in their own building. The results were as such: won @ Washington 17-6 & won @ Washington 19-10. Elsewhere in the East New Jersey defeated Buffalo four games to one, Boston defeated Florida four games to one, and Philadelphia defeated Ottawa four games to two. In the West Colorado defeated L.A. four games to one, Dallas defeated Vancouver four games to three, Detroit defeated St. Louis four games to one, and San Jose defeated Phoenix four games to one. For the second round I drew the Boston Bruins, so far the games have gone as such: won vs. Boston 13-3 & won vs. Boston 16-5. Pounding the opposition!!
2) I also got at SpongeBob SquarePants: Lights, Camera, Pants!, and I think my journey there is done. On “Gold Story Mode” I managed to complete the fourth audition, but I got quite stuck on the fifth audition with really no hope of ever completing it. So I think that’s it! Not too shabby though, in the grand scheme of things. Over the course of my play on the Gold mode I managed to unlock four more pieces of Artwork and three more Action Figures. I hope to post a review of this title at some point in the near future.
3) Another game that fell to my thumbs this time around was Lego Battles: Ninjago! With Story Mode out of the way already, the last thing I had to do was partake in the “Battle Mode” portion of the game. Within Battle Mode there are a number of individual game modes, and I beat them all. I won battles at The Middle, Torus, Wishbone, The Gorge, and Cavern on Annihilation mode (your army takes on an opposing army, the first to wipe out all of the other’s units and structures wins). I won battles at Asunder, Iceberg, Basin, Shoal, and Median on Capture the Flag mode (each army has to protect it’s own flag while attempting to steal the other army’s flag a certain number of times). I won battles at Wishbone, Torus, Median, The Middle, and Basin on King of the Hill mode (each army tries to take control of a central location and maintain their grip on it for a certain period of time). I won battles at The Gorge, Crossing, Cavern, Tributaries, and Median on Brick Race mode (each army sets their builders to work harvesting bricks as fast as possible while harrying the other army’s builders, the first to reach a certain total amount of bricks wins). I won battles at Fury, Shiver, Lagoon, The Shore, and Haven on Goliath mode (your army is simply tasked with taking down a giant beast within a certain time limit, such as a dragon or large rock monster). And I won battles at Canyon, The Freezer, Pedestal, Frosted, and The Gnat on Survival mode (your army has to withstand endless waves of opponents for as long as possible). And that was it, game over!! I hope to post a review of this title soon as well.
4) I didn’t really get all that much accomplished on Lego Harry Potter: years 5-7, unfortunately. Picking up where I last left off, the game immediately led me in to a cut scene of the Christmas holidays, with everybody going to the Burrow. I followed Ron outside in to the Weasley’s shed, which led us to the third level of this chapter, called “A Not So Merry Christmas”. We explored said shed until we found three items of clothing to put in to the washing machine Arthur had out there with his muggle artifacts. The washing machine started up and moved away from the doorway, which it was previously blocking. We headed outside and not long after the Death Eaters attacked, setting fire to the Burrow and it’s surroundings. Harry and Ginny took off in to the field after the Death Eaters, moving my control over to some of the members of the Order of the Phoenix. We escaped the fire surrounding the Burrow and headed in to the field in pursuit of Harry and Ginny, first navigating through a swamp area. Upon finding them we had to battle Bellatrix Lestrange and some other Death Eaters, eventually defeating them. The level ended there and unfortunately the Burrow burned down. During this level I earned True Wizard status, found 1 Crest Piece, unlocked the Tonks (Pink Coat) character, and earned 2 Gold Bricks (one of the status and one for the completion). More to come!
5) James and I made massive progress on Planes this time around, the game is almost done for the love of Chrizzle!! The next character we chose to focus on was El Chupacabra, the first level in his story called “Super El Taxicabra!”. In Germany a bunch of pitties got tired during a night of partying, trying to keep up with El and his dance moves. So we attached a magnet to our rides and transported the tired pitties to their destination of choice within the time limit, acting as taxi planes! On this level we earned a Platinum medal. The second level was called “Ticket to Ride”, in it a train challenged El Chu to a race across Deadstick Desert. So we flew through the desert, following the train and hitting our gates, on our way to winning the race. We earned a Platinum medal on this level. Third was the “Twist of Fate” level. During a race in Propwash Junction the weather suddenly turned and tornadoes ravaged the land. In a race against four others we had to navigate the devastating winds and come in first place, which we did, for doing so we earned another Platinum medal as well as unlocked the Gaining Respect achievement. The final level for El Chu was “Air Force Juan”. Playing El Capitan in a movie called Air Force Juan our task was to save an aircraft carrier from being attacked. First we equipped a magnet and picked up three fuel cells to deliver to the out of gas carrier. A nearby volcano then erupted and set off some mines surrounding the carrier. So we grabbed a cannon and blasted the leftover rubble to bits, clearing the way. Our last step was to land on the ship and end the level. We earned a Platinum medal and unlocked the El Chupacabra, A Little Loopy, and Roll Over and Over achievements. It was then finally time to take on Dusty Crophopper’s story, the first level for him being “Trouble in Propwash”. Some bandit had caused trouble in Dusty’s home town by damming up the river, meaning the farmers couldn’t water their crops, the whole countryside was drying up! Dusty was called in to help, we began by equipping a plow and busting through the dams, getting the river flowing again. Afterwards we attached a sprayer full of vita-minamulch and applied it to the nearby cornfields, fertilizing them. Our last bit of business was to spruce up the run down looking barns. We equipped a paint sprayer and coloured them all blue, ending the level and earning a Platinum medal. Next up was the “Himalayan Hero” level. A village in this frozen tundra got buried under an avalanche, to help them out we first outfitted our rides with a plow and used them to clear out the piles of snow. In the meantime the fires lighting and heating the village went out, so we then grabbed a flare launcher and got the blazes going again. SOS calls from six lost pitties then came over the wire, so we located them and used our flare launchers to mark their location for pickup, ending the level. On this level we earned a Platinum medal. Third came the “Ripslinger’s Revenge” level. Ripslinger was wanting to get revenge on Dusty for beating him in the WATG race, so he set up a grudge match race in Dubai. Our task was to beat him in a one off race, which we did, earning a Platinum medal. The fourth and final Dusty level was called “Blown out of Proportion”. In this level Dusty was about to seek shelter as a series of massive twisters hit Propwash Junction, but a farmer named Pete radioed him and asked if he could help round up his loose tractors. We first equipped a magnet and then used it to move the tractors to safety. With the weather worsening we then acquired Pete’s experimental de-tornadofier gadget and flew towards the twisters, firing at them with said gadget. After snuffing out the twisters we went in for a landing, getting a well-deserved rest. We earned a Platinum medal on this level, and also unlocked the Dusty achievement. James was excited to then start up on Skipper’s story, the first level there was “Full Metal Fuselage”. Echo and Bravo flew in to Propwash Junction to visit Skipper, we planned on taking some pitties up in the air for some joy rides, to show them what we experience when we are up in the sky. However, the pitties got lost so we first had to equip a magnet and then go find them. Once we did we flew them high in the air and launched them through the sky with their flight rigs equipped, giving them the sensation of flight. Afterwards we picked up the flight diploma launcher and fired each pitty his or her diploma, finishing the level by heading in for a landing. On this level we earned a Platinum medal and unlocked the Legendary Pilot achievement. Next came the “The Junior Jolly Wrench” level. Skipper was explaining and demonstrating the trials he had to perform to gain Jolly Wrenchers status. First we had to break through a series of targets while being timed, before finding and acquiring a flare launcher. With said launcher we located some missing pitties and marked their locations. Our final task was to continue to use the launcher to take out 20 plane targets, ending the level. We earned another Platinum medal for this level. Third was the “Firework Festivity” level. While out training some recruits Skipper and his gang accidentally flew in to a fireworks display in China. We simply had to race through the display, avoiding the fireworks and getting out of there as fast as possible. On this level we earned a Platinum medal. The last level was the “Weathering the Storm”. Caught in a raging storm somewhere in the Pacific while collecting weather data, we began by picking up a lightning rod. We dove in to the storm clouds and charged said rods, then used the collected energy to power the failed generators and get the weather station back up and running. We then equipped a shield and flew in to the tornadoes to gain some important weather data, once that task was complete we made a landing on the nearby carrier and ended the level. We earned a Platinum medal and unlocked the Skipper and Hot Shot achievements. The final story we’ve played so far is for Echo, the first level there was called “Flysenhower Needs Our Help”. Said aircraft carrier was trapped in ice, so Echo and Bravo were dispatched to save the day! We first went out and acquired a blaster we could use to clear all the ice from around the ship. Afterwards we used it to clear the nearby lighthouse of it’s icy accumulations, before dumping it for a magnet we used to reposition the drifting buoys and guide the Flysenhower out of trouble. We earned a Platinum medal on this level. Second came the “The Jolly Wrenches” level. All recruits for the Jolly Wrenchers have to pass the Wringer Course, which is what we were attempting to do. We began by destroying 45 targets within the given time limit, afterwards picking up a paint gun. There were a half dozen aircraft flying around that we were tasked with recolouring. After doing so we nabbed a flare launcher and used it to mark the locations of four lost pitties, ending the level and earning us a Platinum medal. Third was the “Icebreakers” level. Our first time on a WATG race course was to de-ice a section that had frozen over due to extreme weather conditions. We flew through the course and used our blaster to clear all checkpoints of ice, earning a Platinum medal in the process. Finally came the “Flysenhower Versus the Volcano” level! On a mission to launch some sensors around an active volcano, the volcano suddenly became a little too active. We started by equipping the lava rock buster weapon and used it to clear out the volcanic rubble around the aircraft carrier. We then picked up a magnet, using it to collect and then launch sensors in to the volcano. Finally we landed on the Flysenhower and ended the level, earning a Platinum medal. Afterwards we went back to the “Free Flight” game mode, which we had dabbled with earlier in the game, and tidied it up. We found all 10 puzzle pieces in each of the Nepal, China, Deadstick Desert, and Dubai levels, unlocking the postcards for each area and also unlocking the Wind of Change, Sightseer, and World Traveler achievements. Playing on my own afterwards I dabbled in the “Balloon Pop” mode and got medals on the remaining levels had yet to try, meaning I placed on all nine areas. Although my medal results did range from Bronze to Platinum, depending on the level in question. I also dabbled in the “Air Rallies” game mode, eventually earning Platinum medals on all nine levels and unlocking the World Class Pilot achievement. During all this action James and I reached the highest rank you can earn in the game, level 20, called Jolly Wrenchers Elite. Not much more to go and this game is done like dinner!
6) As for MLB 2K11, major league progress was made there as well! First off I finished up my opening series with the Chicago White Sox, which ended like this: won vs. Chicago White Sox 7-3 & won vs. Chicago White Sox 7-4. I then moved on and completed the next two series of my young season, which broke down as follows: won vs. Boston 13-9, won vs. Boston 4-1, won vs. Boston 12-0, won @ Seattle 7-3, won @ Seattle 2-0 & won @ Seattle 2-0. Rollin’!!
7) With some games on my DS falling to completion I moved on to the next title in line, the game in question being . . . Cars! This game revolves around the original Cars movie, but it is not a complete retelling of that story. Basically you get to choose a character and then play a mini game that falls under that character’s category. The character I chose first was Snot Rod, the mini game he offers being “Gesundheit!”. In it Sherriff is determined to rid Radiator Springs of all speeders and street racers. As Snot Rod I had to drive down the highway, avoiding traffic and other obstacles in an attempt to outrun Sherriff and reach the county line. I survived through five waves of ever increasing difficulty and eventually made it to safety! The second character I chose was Flo, the mini game she offers being “Flo’s V8 Café”. A whole whack of customers began filing in to her gas bar, I had to quickly shuffle between the two bays and keep everybody topped up with gas, not letting anybody hit empty and become disgruntled. The third and final character I’ve tried so far is Fillmore, his mini game being “That Blinkin’ Light”. With Fillmore and Sarge sitting and staring at the traffic light in town, Fillmore still swears that the third blink is always shorter than the others. To complete the game I had to watch the blinking traffic light and repeat the sequences of blinks in the correct order. I did so, and for my efforts I unlocked a “Piston Cup Race”. This mini game ended up being a 6 lap Piston Cup affair where I had to use Lightning McQueen and square off against Chick Hicks. I won the race and in so doing unlocked the next sequence of mini games, which I have yet to get at . . .
8) I also started a new game on the Wii, one which I was very excited to finally get at, called Transformers: Prime. Doubly so since I just finished watching the second season of the show on DVD! This game tells an original tale in the battle of the Autobots versus Decepticons, all set within the universe of the Transformers: Prime TV show that recently finished airing on the HUB Network. The first level of the game was called “Into the Breach”, in it the Autobots discovered that the Decepticons were using their ship, the Nemesis, to haul a large asteroid full of Dark Energon through space. Ratchet space bridged us through to the Nemesis, controlling Optimus Prime I battled some Vehicons and then destroyed the tether that was anchoring the asteroid to the ship. The Cons immediately reattached the asteroid, re-anchoring it from below the ship. In response we jumped across to the actual asteroid, while Bulkhead fended off the Decepticon forces I concentrated on destroying the tethers that were attached to the actual asteroid. Eventually Megatron showed up and I went toe to toe with him for a while, until the asteroid began to split apart. Some manner of beast within it rose up and ravaged our forces, scattering them through space. During this level I found the lone Cybertron artifact and earned an S ranking. The second level was called “Homecoming”. Not being able to raise his fellow Autobots after the battle Ratchet decided to open a ground bridge and go look for them. When the Autobot life signs finally came back online the kids decided they couldn’t not do something and went to go look for them themselves. The scene then shifted to Arcee just waking up after her fall to Earth. In control of the sleek femme fatale I was quickly set upon by hordes of Insecticons. While fending them off Jack radioed me and told me to head to a nearby factory, which I did. As I got close to the facility I was engaged by Arachnid and battled her. During the fighting Jack showed up and Arachnid captured him, flying away. I transformed to motorcycle mode and took off after her down the highway, eventually catching up to her on a bridge and snatching Jack back, but unfortunately the Con got away. During this level I found 2/2 Cybertron artifacts and earned an S ranking. The third and final level I’ve gotten at so far was called “Deserted”. Bulkhead woke up in some sort of underground chamber to Miko not so gently prodding him. It appeared as though we were in some sort of ruins, but we didn’t have long to think about it as Starscream showed up and started missiling the place! With the ruins collapsing I transformed to truck mode and we drove off through the chambers, outrunning the cave in and exiting out the side of a cliff. Immediately some Vehicons attacked me, including a heavy duty tank version, but I battled them and moved along through an area filled with canyons and chasms. After battling more Cons I came to what looked like the ruins of some sort of old arena or summat. Starscream then attacked and we had an extended showdown. I fended him off but in the end he captured Miko and flew away with her. During this level I found 3/3 Cybertron artifacts and earned an S ranking. More to come!
9) Finally, another game for the DS that I just couldn’t resist starting is Aliens: Infestation! This game takes place after the events of the second movie in the Aliens franchise, simply titled Aliens. After the disastrous mission to planet LV-426 a ship named the Sulaco is found drifting in space with definite life form readings coming from it. Taking control of a squad of four marines, our job was to explore the ship and find this life form, in order to gain intel on just what happened down on LV-426. In the first level of the game I started in the hangar bay of the Sulaco, our first task was to find a data port so we could sync our map up with Commander Steele’s back at HQ. Setting off through the ship we couldn’t access the elevators without the proper key cards, so we had to bypass them for the time being. Eventually I found the level 1 access key card, so we were then able to use the level 1 elevators. Not long afterwards we found the data port and got our map function up and running, which made life a whole lot easier! Heading back out in to the ship we also found the motion tracking device, which gives off that intense signature beeping sound from the movies whenever something is close by. Chilling!! We finally stumbled across the life form we were looking for, a female human that was in the midst of being attacked by an alien! We fought the thing off while this woman escaped, after the dust settled we found the level 2 access key card, as well as a stranded marine named Amber. We took off in search of the mystery female, facing more aliens along the way, as well as androids, and found a welding tool in the process (which helped us unlock doors that were previously inaccessible). After coming across another stranded marine we eventually found the aliens’ lair and faced off against their queen, taking it down in a tough scrap!! Afterwards I rescued our prisoner and we hit the road. In the second level Commander Steele informed us that our mystery female was named Eve, from UPP. This organization was investigating on LV-426 and had set up an operation to harvest the alien life forms! We couldn’t let them do this, so next we headed down to the surface of LV-426, our main task was to take our their radar and defense systems. We began by infiltrating the station on LV-426, soon finding a data port and getting our maps synced. We forged on, taking out aliens and UPP soldiers alike, gaining a TNR lamp in the process (which would help us infiltrate darker areas we normally wouldn’t be able to explore). We reached the first defensive tower but upon doing so realized our explosives had gotten wet during all the action. So we backtracked and found a new set, planting them at this tower and blowing it to bits! We moved on through the facility and found a couple more satchels of explosives, using them to first blow their radar, and then another defensive tower, battling more and more aliens all the while. After finishing our jobs we climbed in to one of the land vehicle/tank things and used it to escape the pursuing aliens, using the turret to take out any who happened to catch up to us. Eventually we crashed and before we could be evaced had to take out another massive alien. For completing this level I unlocked the Knife Trick game. The last level I’ve gotten to for now is the third, in it we learned that the Sulaco was set to take on a freighter coming up from LV-426, full of equipment and life forms from the planet below. It was then going to be shipped to the moon of Phobos for research purposes, but we couldn’t allow this threat to spread. So we found ourselves back on the Sulaco! After talking to some crew in the hangar bay we found out that they weren’t waiting on this freighter to arrive, it had already docked . . . shit. After the crew in the cargo hold didn’t answer our hails we set off to investigate, eliminating all encountered aliens along the way. We came across a couple more stranded marines, used our new lamp to investigate previously dark and inaccessible areas of the ship, and even acquired a flamethrower!! The flamethrower allowed us to fight better and also use doors that were coated in alien slime, now that we were able to burn it off first. We also found the level 3 access key card, as well as keys to the power loader. With all of these new gadgets and weapons we infiltrated further than we ever had, eventually reaching an air lock where I climbed aboard a power loader. I used it to battle another alien queen just like Ripley did in the movies, eventually using the air lock controls to jettison the beast out in to space. What a game so far, this thing is fierce! This is so far not only one of the best DS games I’ve ever played, but one of the best games in general that I’ve ever played. So cool!
“NNGRR” - A couple weekends ago I finished watching the first volume of the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon from Nickelodeon, called Rise of the Turtles! This disc contains the first 6 episodes from season one of this latest incarnation of our favourite green ninjas. The story starts off with the fearsome foursome celebrating their “Happy 15th Mutation Day”! After hearing the story of their creation for the umpteenth time the turtles finally convince master Splinter to let them go topside and check out the streets of New York. While prowling the rooftops they witness a group of men in suits attack a man and his daughter. Intervening, Leonardo and his brothers fight valiantly but realize that they haven’t trained to fight well as a unit. Because of this the two people they were trying to save are captured and transported away. Back at the lair afterwards the turtles decide to train harder and work more as a team, then set out to find the kidnappers. They eventually find the facility they are looking for and engage the men in suits, who actually turn out to be alien beings called The Kraang, who are using robotic bodies as their means of getting around on Earth! The turtles eventually rescue the young girl, who turns out to be April O’Neill, but her father Kirby cannot be saved. Back in Japan an ancient enemy of Splinter’s . . . the Shredder, sees the turtles on the news and realizes his old rival is still alive. He dispatches two warriors named Xever and Chris Bradford to New York, to take the mutants off the board. Despite putting up a good fight, the duo just can’t seem to defeat the turtles once and for all. As the rest of the episodes unfold not only does the green machine have to deal with these two new enemies, but they also keep up the search for Kirby, continually running in to resistance from the Kraang . . . who appear to be the ones that are behind the whole mutagen scheme that turned Splinter and the turtles in to what they have become. This is a great cartoon series, I love it! I’d heard mixed reviews on it from other people who have watched it, but I believe it’s a great blend of what made the old show so great, the humour, fun and playfulness of it, mixed in with a more modern, updated look, feel and theme. Even after all these years Mikey still continues to be my favourite! I love Donny too, with the new gap in his teeth! And April is wicked hot . . . for a CGI character that is. Awesome!
Around the same time I also finished reading the fourth and final book in the Hunchback Assignments series, called Island of Doom. After the events of the previous book Mr. Socrates and his agents are in hiding, choosing the newer city of Montreal, in Canada, as their preferred hideaway. After months of inactivity Modo receives a coded message from the French secret agent he worked with on one of his previous adventures, Colette Brunet. She informs Modo that she has found his birth parents, who hail from the French city of Nanterre! Modo is stunned by this revelation and plans on leaving Montreal covertly, heading across the sea to meet Colette and maybe confront his parents. However, Mr. Socrates anticipates Modo’s actions and turns this trip in to a mission, sending both him and Octavia to check out this developing situation. Once in France the duo meet up with Colette and they begin the search for Modo’s parents. In the end they find them, but not in time, for Modo’s father perishes at the hands of the Clockwork Guild, and his mother is kidnapped! What’s worse . . . they run in to a mountain of a man the Guild is using as it’s muscle, who appears to be all stitched together like a science experiment! Meanwhile, back in Montreal Mr. Socrates has had a revelation and thinks he may have uncovered the whereabouts of the Guild’s secret base, which he believes to be on an island in the Pacific ocean. He sends a couple of agents out on a mission to verify, and their return coincides with Modo and Octavia’s return from France. The group immediately sets out for the west coast of Canada, where at a secret Permanent Association facility Mr. Socrates has a surprise in store for Modo and Octavia, one that may turn the tide of the struggle against the Clockwork Guild in their favour. They then set out to sea and approach this mysterious island, where the depths of Dr. Hyde’s horrible experiments will be on full display. The Permanent Association will finally get to confront Ms. Hakkandottir, hopefully save Modo’s mother, and maybe even learn the identity of the mysterious Guild Master. But do they have the manpower to win the day!? This was a great conclusion to this excellent story. I was actually disappointed that this was the last book as I thought it was going to be a longer running series. But at least we got to see Modo gain some forms of closure. What a great series!
Not too long afterwards I finished watching the collection of TMNT episodes called Enter Shredder!! This volume picks up where Rise of the Turtles left off, containing the next 7 episodes of the first season (episodes 7-13). In this collection of episodes the turtles run in to more mutants, such as a doctor who is turned in to a monkey, as well as a friendly crocodile (at least to the turtles) named Leatherhead. They of course have to deal with continuing interactions with the Kraang, along with interference from their two biggest enemies up to this point, Xever and Charles Bradford, who ends up getting mutated in to a giant dog whom they nickname “Dogpound”! Eventually the Shredder shows up in New York, to finish the work that his underlings apparently can’t complete . . . in destroying the turtles! Although the brothers get their shells handed to them by Shredder, he can’t manage to destroy them for good and the turtles head back underground to train harder in an effort to match the Shredder’s high level of combat. In the final episode of this sequence a mysterious Foot Clan warrior named Karai shows up on the scene and develops a bit of a playful rivalry with Leonardo . . . can’t wait to see what comes next!
Not long after Halloween passed James and I finished watching the first season of a show I’ve always wanted to see since it came out when I was just starting university all those years ago . . . which happens to be Goosebumps!! The Goosebumps TV show was based on the kids’ books of the same name, written by R.L. Stine. The stories are spooky and scary, but just to a small degree as both the books and TV series is meant for younger viewers. Each episode (unless it’s a continuation) features a different main character and puts him or her in the middle of some bizarre story that often times ends up with a crazy twist at the end. The plots in this first season include a librarian who moonlights as a hideous monster, a killer sponge, a time traveling cuckoo clock, an evil camp, a phantom inhabiting a school auditorium, piano playing ghosts, an Egyptian mummy, a mischievous ventriloquist’s dummy, a scientist who creates a man-plant in his basement, a town that turns their kids in to animals, and a killer camera. This first season aired in 1995 and contained 13 episodes, although I’ve read online that there were actually supposed to be 19 episodes, so I’m not sure if this information is wrong or if Netflix shortchanged us. We’ll see, I suppose! Either way it’s a great series, one that James and I can watch together and both enjoy very much.
Last week the wife and I watched a movie I’ve been wanting to see for a while, called Fun Size. The main character is Wren, a high school senior living in Cleveland who has high hopes of applying to NYU. However, complicating this issue is the fact that her father passed away in the not so distant past, meaning it is now up to her mother to support both Wren and her eccentric younger brother Albert . . . so NYU may not be such a possibility. With her frustration over NYU already causing Wren great distress, the trouble doubles when her mom ditches her with Albert on Halloween night in order to go to a party with her much younger boyfriend. Wren is pissed at both her mom and Albert for her predicament, but what can she do? Wren’s best friend April is upset also, for on Halloween night they were invited to their school’s main hunk’s (Aaron Riley) Halloween party, but taking care of Albert has put the kybosh on that. However, when the girls lose Albert while out trick or treating, Wren quickly forgets about NYU, parties, and boys, all she wants is to get her brother back! Albert in the meantime (dressed as Spider Man) has begun an epic adventure with a nerdy convenience store clerk. As for Wren and April, they have convinced Roosevelt (a nerdy friend of Wren’s) to take out his moms’ car and help them look for Albert. What ensues is a crazy sequence of events that will eventually lead Wren and Albert back towards each other, although they don’t meet up under the most ideal of circumstances! When the kids’ journey finally comes to a close everybody involved gets a lesson on what’s most important to them . . . namely each other. This was a pretty funny movie, nothing too serious, just light hearted Halloween themed fun. The main character, played by Victoria Justice, is completely hot. I’ve heard her name bandied about for a few years now but didn’t actually realize who she was until I saw this flick. She used to be on a Family Channel show called Zoey 101, which I used to partake in as a guilty pleasure, and she has her own show now called Victorious. Her buddy April was pretty hot too . . . I loves me them women!!
And just last night I finished reading the Mortal Instruments: City of Bones book, the first entry in a very popular trilogy. The central character is a 15 year old girl named Clarissa (Clary) Fray, who lives with her mother in New York City. Life is fairly regular for Clary, but one night while out at a club with her best friend Simon, Clary witnesses three young kids apparently kill another. Only when this fellow dies he doesn’t bleed out on the store room floor like a normal human would, he vanishes in a puff and there is no trace that he ever existed! The trio inform Clary that they are demon killers and that this chap was in fact, a demon. Not knowing what to think Clary heads home and the next day gets in a fight with her mother, Jocelyn, as she is moving them to the country for the rest of the summer. Clary heads out in a huff and receives many voice mails from her mother that she ignores. But Clary is horrified to soon discover that when she heads home (with Jace, one of the demon killers from the club, who has been keeping tabs on her) it is in a shambles and her mother is missing. After narrowly escaping an attack by a demon called a Ravener, Jace takes Clary back to the “Institute”, his home base. There things are explained to Clary that Jace and his friends, the brother and sister duo of Alec and Isabelle, are what they call Shadow Hunters. They and their master, Hodge, tell Clary a story about a man named Valentine, who wanted to protect the people of Earth from all Downworlders (demons) by eradicating them all. However, not all demons are considered bad, and the organization who corresponds with the Downworlders and sets up peace accords, the Clave, was none too impressed with Valentine’s behaviour. A battle ensued and Valentine was thought killed, but apparently that is not true as there are rumours that he is back and in search of the Mortal Cup, the only instrument capable to creating new Shadow Hunters, thought to have been long lost. The three Shadow Hunters, along with Clary and Simon, set off to find out as much as they can regarding the whereabouts of the cup and also about Valentine. In doing so the group, especially Clary and Jace, learn a whole lot about their pasts, which rocks the very foundations of their world and turns everything upside down. But just what is truth, and what is lies? This is a very cool story, it started off slowly and I wasn’t exactly sure if it was going to go in a crappy Twilight direction or if it would end up being worth the read, and it turned out pretty well. Lots of action and creativity, and I love all of the revelations at the end, I honestly didn’t see a lot of it coming. And I’m normally pretty good at picking up on that stuff. I’ll be interested to eventually read the second book!
That time is once again upon us, easily my most favourite “holiday” of the year . . . Halloween!!! The time has come for ghouls and ghosts, goblins and demons, vamps and werewolves . . . and of course scantily clad women to hit the streets and do their thing . . .
Delish!! Hopefully I’ll get to witness some of these wonderful types women on this All Hallows’ Eve. Anyhoo, this year for Halloween James decided he wanted to be a black cat, just like our cat at home, Beast (her real name is Zoe). So far he’s worn his costume to Beavers, he’s wearing it to school today, and of course he’ll be wearing it tonight when we go out trick or treating. The bad news is it’s supposed to rain all day and night, the good news is that it’s unseasonably warm out today, like up around 15 degrees or so! Bring on the candy!!
And of course it has become tradition for me to watch a bunch of scary movies and the like around Halloween time, and then post about them in my Halloween blog. Here is what I got up to this year . . .
This year the first thing I saw was a movie I’ve been wanting to see for such a long time but have just never gotten around to watching, and that movie is . . . Kill Bill volume 1. It’s not really a horror movie per se, but horrifying events do transpire. The main subject of the movie is a tall blonde woman, who as we learn as events of the movie unfold, used to work for a man named Bill. She was part of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, along with a few other women and both Bill and his brother Budd. At her wedding the members of this team turn on her and beat her to a pulp, Bill thinks he ends the whole betrayal when he shoots her in the head. However, somehow she survives the blast, although she spends the next four years of her life in a coma. When she eventually wakes up The Bride is horrified to see that she has lost the child she was carrying, and making matters worse she must teach herself to walk again, as her muscles have atrophied over the course of her coma. First and foremost on her mind is revenge . . . revenge against the ones who betrayed her!! The first person she tracks down is Vernita Green, also known as Copperhead, at her home in California. A wild fight ensues, which trashes Copperhead’s house in the process, but the action is paused when her daughter comes home from school. The two adults go to the kitchen to have coffee and arrange for a fight later that night, to settle things, but Copperhead tries to trick our girl by shooting a gun concealed in a cereal box. The shot misses, but The Bride’s knife doesn’t, finding it’s mark in the middle of Copperhead’s chest. The second target is O-Ren Ishii, alias Cottonmouth, who has risen to great prominence amongst the mafia in Tokyo. The Bride first flies to Okinawa in order to speak with the great Hattori Hanzo, commissioning one of his world famous samurai swords, easily the best he’s ever made. After that it’s time to confront O-Ren. While the Yakuza boss and members of her Crazy 88 squad dine at a restaurant/bar, The Bride sneaks in and eavesdrops on O-Ren. Eventually she kidnaps O-Ren’s assistant Sofie and uses her as leverage, eventually lopping off her arm to incite the riot that is about to take place! After that all hell breaks loose and many members of the Crazy 88 squad are taken down, leaving the restaurant a bloody mess. The Bride takes out the Crazy 88 leader as well as O-Ren’s personal bodyguard, before confronting O-Ren herself in a snowy garden out back of the restaurant. In another epic fight scene she bests O-Ren and then sends Sofie to the hospital to recover, to inform Bill that The Bride knows everything and is coming for him. The last thing we hear is Bill asking Sofie if The Bride knows that her child is still alive? This movie was so amazing, and filmed as only Quentin Tarantino can. The fight scenes were amazing, and of course had their funny moments despite what was going on. I also love how he made it look like a 1970’s film at times, as well as the comic book/manga sequence right in the middle of it. It sure is an intriguing tale, I can’t believe it took me a whole decade to finally see it!
Not wanting to let the suspense build too much, the next thing I watched was of course Kill Bill volume 2!! In this second installment the story picks up where it left off, the first thing we see is a long snippet from the past, what actually went down at the Two Pines Wedding Chapel. This is also where we get our official introduction to Bill, and from the conversation he and The Bride have before the rest of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad shows up, it’s apparent that there is a lot more to their past relationship than employer and employee. It’s obvious that Bill believes The Bride has betrayed him, and that is the reason for the slaughter. Back in the present The Bride is on her way to kill Bill’s brother, Budd (aka Sidewinder), who lives out in the middle of the desert somewhere in the U.S. Budd was warned by Bill beforehand to expect trouble though, and so he is prepared when she shows up. Budd captures our girl and plans an awful demise for her . . . to be buried alive!! As she is locked away in a box underground, The Bride has flashbacks from her training with Pai Mei, the master who instructed Bill before her. Using the methods Pai Mei taught her, she is able to escape her imprisonment and makes her way back to Budd’s trailer. Once there she finds she’s dropped in on a little meeting between Budd and another former member of the squad, Elle Driver, also known as California Mountain Snake. Thankfully Elle takes care of Budd herself, using a black mamba snake to poison Budd over a deal regarding ownership of The Bride’s Hattori Hanzo sword. As Elle is about to depart The Bride takes her by surprise and a wicked wild fight ensues, which sees Budd’s trailer completely trashed. Elle is not dealt a quick death by The Bride, but a fate almost as gruesome, for she plucks out Elle’s remaining good eye, rendering her completely blind. Throughout all of this madness we learn that The Bride’s real name is actually Beatrix Kiddo, code name Black Mamba. Her only remaining task now is to hunt down Bill, and take him out. Finding her way to the hotel he’s staying at though, she is unprepared for the fact that her previously thought lost daughter, B.B., is there with Bill, alive and in the flesh. Putting their differences aside the two remain peaceful and Beatrix spends a wonderful night with her daughter. However, once B.B. falls asleep it’s time to settle things. Does she still want to kill Bill after finding him with their daughter (for it was really Bill’s child, not the guy Beatrix was otherwise going to marry), and does Bill want to kill her? And if death is still on the docket, who is tougher, master or pupil? Better watch to find out! Everyone else on the planet saw these movies long before I did though, probably. Again this was such a cool movie, so much action and an intriguing storyline that just continued to develop. Amazing fight sequences and again that ability of Tarantino’s to make it look like a film right out of the 1970’s when he wanted it to. Amazing!!
The next movie I watched was more along the lines of a horror movie, none other than Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which I’ve been wanting to see for a while now! Back in 1818 young Abraham Lincoln is living in the south with his parents, who are working for a slave trader. When young Abe rushes to one of his friends’ defense against said trader, his parents are released from his employ, not long after Abe’s mother is murdered. Murdered by her former employer, Jack Barts that is. Years later, in 1837, Abe is finally ready to seek his revenge against Barts. Showing up at his shop Abe puts a bullet in Barts’ head and thinks that is that. However, when Barts simply picks himself up and shakes himself off Abe thinks he’s breathed his last breath, for Barts is one of the undead . . . a vampire! Showing up to save Abe’s bacon is a fellow he briefly met in a bar that same night, a man by the name of Henry Sturges. The next morning Henry fills Abe in on the world of vampires and vampire hunting, and Abe is completely on board, he wants to become a vampire hunter. When his training is complete Abe moves to Chicago and gets a job, moonlighting as a hunter, taking down scores of vampires living amongst the population as if they were regular people. When he finally gets his chance to kill Barts Abe does so with relish in an epic battle, but in doing so brings himself to the forefront of the head vampire’s attention, a being known as Adam. Not long afterwards an epic showdown in Adam’s hometown of New Orleans takes place in which Abe and his friends barely escape after defeating many of Adam’s forces. Abe decides to continue the fight against the vamps, but in a different sort of way. Abe’s rising political career is the perfect forum for abolishing slavery, and in the same breath instigating a war against Adam and his legions. Years later Lincoln is president and in the throes of the American Civil War. Basically it’s the north versus the south, only the south is full of vampire soldiers! With the war effort not going well and his fight against the vampires already having cost so much, including his first son William, not to mention stressing his relationship with his wife, Mary, Abe comes up with a desperate plan to win the war. He is to have hordes of silver shipped down to the front lines, meaning the soldiers would have weaponry made of silver . . . meaning the vampires would not be so bloody hard to kill anymore! The plan is a risky one and there are some very tense moments, in the end does Abe succeed, or will America be plunged in to a chaos of the undead kind? This was such a cool movie, such a wacky spin on real historical events! It was much better than I thought it would be. The story was cool, the acting was great, and the fight scenes . . . epic! Too bad Hollywood couldn’t go on a run of movies like this . . .
I finally got my hands on a copy of a movie I’ve wanted to see for so long now, and for just $5 too! The movie in question is . . . The Evil Dead!! This is the original movie in the series that spawned Army of Darkness, one of my favourite films of all time. Anyhoo, the story revolves around a young male named Ash. Him, his girlfriend, and three other friends are headed across the border in to Tennessee, to stay at a secluded cabin and party it up a bit. However, upon their arrival the cabin is, how shall we say . . . a tad creepy. They try to adjust to their new surroundings and eventually settle in as best they can, but when a cellar trap door apparently moves all on it’s own it begins to freak the fivesome out all over again. Heading down in to said cellar Ash and Scott stumble upon a small stockpile of assorted scientific research. Bringing it all upstairs they begin to read through the information and then start the tape player. On it a scientist speaks of evil demons that never truly die and just lay dormant until certain chants and phrases bring them back to life . . . and then the scientist begins said chants! This freaks everybody out and not long after one of the girls, Shelly, believes she hears something outside. Heading out in to the wilderness Shelly doesn’t find anything . . . until the actual forest attacks her, beating, bashing, and I’m pretty sure even raping her. She makes it back to the cabin, thinking she is safe, but after a failed escape attempt in Ash’s car the demon the forest planted inside her takes hold and Shelly turns on her friends! Ash’s buds then begin falling one by one . . . first Shelly, then Cheryl, then his girlfriend Linda, and finally his buddy Scott. The only question is, will Ash be able to fend them off and avoid becoming possessed himself, or will he too become one of the damned? After hearing so much about this movie over the years it didn’t disappoint. The first half was OK scare wise, but the second half I watched with my eyes half closed! It had a lot of that jumping out at you kind of stuff, you know? And it also had that element of humour in it that so marks Army of Darkness, not nearly as much of course, but it is there. HMV has the 2 for $10 sale still on, so I may have to go pick up Evil Dead 2!!
Last Friday night on YTV they aired the Toy Story of Terror Halloween special, which James and I were both surprised and thrilled to watch! This animated short begins with Woody and his gang of fellow toys watching a scary movie on the DVD player in Bonnie’s mom’s trunk. It is a cold and rainy night, and Bonnie and her mother are on a bit of a lengthy road trip. However, their progress is stalled when they suddenly get a flat tire and are forced to pull in at a small hotel to use the phone. With the tow truck not able to reach them until the morning everybody is forced to stay overnight. Not heeding Woody’s advice Mr. Potato Head slips out of Bonnie’s backpack to explore the Inn . . . when he goes missing all the others are forced to search for him. Their journey takes them all over the inn, through various types of ducts and between floors, until they are all captured by an unseen enemy . . . the inn owner’s iguana! Eventually locked in a glass case the toy’s fears are doubled when they realize the owner is selling all of the toys his iguana captures online for tremendous profits. When Woody is quick to sell and is placed in a box for shipment, Jessie must conquer her fears and go after him, saving Woody and helping the rest of her comrades reunite with Bonnie. This was a really cool special, I wish more of the Pixar franchises would do holiday specials like this, because they are so well done and all kids love them. Money in the bank!!
The last scary thing we partook in was to watch a movie last weekend that I picked up at the same time as The Evil Dead . . . none other than Dinoshark!! The film opens showing a glacier melting in the frigid Arctic waters, releasing what look to be baby sharks of some kind, in a kind of tadpole form. A few years later a sailor off the coast of Alaska is attacked by something that looks like a combination between a dinosaur and a shark. The headlines of the missing sailor makes the news big time, but nobody knows the true cause of his disappearance. Meanwhile, way down the coast in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, a guy who grew up in the area but has been gone for quite a while finally returns home. Trace McGraw is his name, and boats are his game, for he is an excellent captain. However, not long after his return his best friend, Rita, is mysteriously attacked and killed by some sort of sea creature. On the water afterwards, searching for the offending beast, Trace sees what turns out to be a Dinoshark take down an entire coast guard speedboat along with it’s two passenger crew! The problem is that nobody believes him, especially the police. The only person who is on his side is a newcomer to Trace’s social circle, a hot blonde name Carol. Together the two continue their search for the creature and after many near misses the police finally stop their efforts by impounding Trace’s boat. But when Dinoshark finally shows itself to the police, Trace and Carol, along with their friend Luis, are left to do whatever they can to stop this fearsome predator. Out on the open ocean Trace finally manages to get a grenade near the thing, which severely wounds it, but Carol ends up finishing the job . . . putting a harpoon right through the thing’s eyehole. This was an awesome movie, every bit as good as Sharktopus! I love this genre of film, the B horror movie. Subpar acting, low budget effects, ridiculous plots, and of course lots of titties . . . it’s now my mission to get my hands on a copy of Dinocroc vs. Supergator!!
Well, with my recent basement troubles not allowing me to get down there and play some of the games on my current docket, I had time to work on some other ones. So I decided to get back at my Retro Game of the Month blog series . . . if at least temporarily!! The game I chose this time around is a Nintendo GameBoy classic, none other than . . .
Star Wars!! This game was released by Capcom back in 1992 and it basically follows the storyline of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. You take control of Luke Skywalker on the planet of Tatooine and quickly immerse yourself in the Rebellion’s fight against the evil Empire. Run, blast, and hack your way through six difficult levels and you’ll end up destroying the Death Star and putting a major kink in the Emperor’s plans!
In the game’s opening level I found myself in the Jundland Wastes, aboard Luke’s landspeeder. For R2-D2 has escaped the farmstead on a mission to find Ben Kenobi and I was determined to get him back. While traversing the Wastes I found a number of caves I could enter and explore. Inside said caves I had to do a lot of jumping, avoiding long drops and beds of spikes, while also using my blaster to take out enemies like womp rats, large dragonflies, Tusken Raiders, large slug creatures, among other assorted creatures and aliens. While exploring I also found Obi-Wan, who gave me Anakin’s old lightsaber! I discovered a number of pickups as well, including an upgrade for my blaster, as well as some Millenium Falcon shield upgrades. Once I was done with the caves I came upon a Sandcrawler and made my way aboard. Once inside I meandered through it’s innards, taking out the odd Jawa and avoiding all of the various pitfalls the Sandcrawler contained. At the end of my journey I found R2-D2! We then took off in the landspeeder, heading towards Mos Eisley . . .
The second level saw me in the outpost of Mos Eisley, my first stop was of course to enter that world famous cantina . . . cue music!! I made my way to the back of the cantina, taking out a number of Rodians and avoiding what looked to be Ithorians. At the back of the cantina I found Han Solo, we then brokered a deal to get to Alderaan. Once finding him I also added Han to my team as a playable character! Heading out of the cantina I then made my way towards the entrance to docking bay 94, taking out many Stormtroopers, Boba Fett lookalikes, and Jawas along the way. Eventually I reached docking bay 94 and made my way inside. I had to climb ladders, take on more Stormies (not to mention Stormies with E-web blasters), and avoid traps like automated laser systems. I did so and eventually reached the Falcon, boarding it.
The third level was actually a vehicle level, seeing me aboard the Millenium Falcon. We pulled out of hyperspace at Alderaan’s coordinates but the planet wasn’t there, all we saw was a massive field of asteroids! My sole task was to guide the Falcon through this asteroid field and not get destroyed. This is where the Millenium Falcon shield upgrade items come in handy, there are eight in total that you can find which help protect you against damage from asteroids and such. This level is actually pretty easy though, just fly down to the bottom left hand corner of the screen and stay there and you won’t get hit. Eventually the Death Star got us in their tractor beam though and hauled us in.
Level four is easily the longest and most complicated of the game. Not necessarily hard per se, but certainly confusing at times! I started by sneaking out of the docking bay the Falcon was berthed in aboard the Death Star, dispatching Stormtroopers and their E-web blasters as I went. I made my way upwards and entered a door that took me in to a new area full of turbolifts. I took a series of them and eventually met up with C-3PO, avoiding the area’s automated defense systems along the way. He said that R2-D2 was going to do some digging in the Imperial network, which ultimately informed us that one Princess Leia Organa was being held prisoner on the space station. I moved along and took another series of turbolifts, eventually reaching the tractor beam control room. Avoiding the automated lasers I put a number of blaster bolts in to the control mechanism and disabled it. I kept on moving, taking even more complicated series’ of turbolifts, dispatching hordes of Stormies as I went and even having to avoid a few different types of droid. I reached the detention level and found Leia in her cell, adding her to my roster! Retreating back the way I had come I found a new area full of spiky pitfalls and more droid defenses, soon entering the trash compactor. Inside this room was a simple boss fight. I switched over to my lightsaber and took out the Dianoga with just one blow! Exiting the compactor I found I was in a new area, I immediately took on Stormies and then used some turbolifts to ascend through this large facility, which eventually deposited me near the Falcon. I climbed aboard the ship and we blasted away from the feared Death Star!
In the fifth level you get to control a couple of different vehicles. First off I was once again in the Falcon, escaping the Death Star I had to train it’s blasters on the TIE Fighters that were harassing us as we made our escape. Once destroying a good number of them a cutscene played of us reaching the Rebel base on Yavin IV. Luke exited the Falcon and ran through the hangar, then boarding his X-Wing! Back up in the skies I had to do more of the same as we approached the Death Star for our attack run. I took out hordes more TIE Fighters before the level concluded . . .
The sixth and final level of the game was another vehicle level, but it vastly differed from the ones that came before it. In the previous ones the view was a first person perspective right from the cockpit, but in this one the scale was sized way down and the view was from directly overhead, very cool! In this level I basically just had to make my trench run on the Death Star’s thermal exhaust port. I engaged many TIE Fighters, destroying some with my lasers, avoiding others, and even coaxing some to crash in to the walls and other obstacles of the trench. I also had to avoid the odd turbolaser barrage as well, but the most difficult part was flying within the tight confines of the trench and avoiding all of the obstacles it contained while fending off the TIEs. Eventually I reached the exhaust port and used both my blasters and proton torpedoes on it, for good measure. And that was it, the Death Star blew, I didn’t, and the game was complete!!
Now, unfortunately I am not going to be able to post a review of this game as it does not appear in Gamespot’s database for some reason, but for all it’s worth this is a really cool game. It may not seem that long with just six levels, but trust me, this game will give you more than you can handle. It’s one of those titles that is quite difficult, and although you have 9 continues when you start out, that actually isn’t many in the grand scheme of things considering how hard the game is. Basically it’s one of those titles where you have to memorize each level as you go, play it a number of times to the point where you can get through it as unscathed as possible, then move on to the next level and do the same. Eventually you should get good enough at all the levels to bring the game to it’s knees, but it’s quite a process! As for the game itself, it’s well conceived, offers a lot of variety in gameplay, and both looks and sounds really good for it’s vintage. I probably would have given this game a 9.5-10 score, well worth the investment!
Well, this is to be my first blog posted on Gamespot since the dramatic change over that occurred just recently. And to be honest I’m not much of a fan of this new format. I find it disorganized and random, and what happened to all of my pics? I’m now having to rebuild my photo library from square one! Also, my videos are gone and I don’t see anywhere to post them again. Is the whole tagging system defunct, or is it hiding somewhere I can’t find it? The emoticons didn’t transfer over so now all my old blogs have a bunch of random characters scattered throughout them. And I have no idea where to find my friends or friends’ blogs at an easy click of the mouse, everything seems so hidden and mysterious on this new site. I almost gave up, ending my Gamespot career when I first saw the new site, but I’ve decided to stick it out for at least another month or so and see if I can get used to the changes. If I can, it’s business as usual . . . if not I’ll suddenly have a lot more free time on my hands!
Anyways, the last couple weeks have been pretty decent. A couple weekends ago we went to Hamilton to celebrate one of our friends’ 40th birthday. We drank and smoked all night on the back deck and I got completely wasted. Garrrhhhhhhhh!!! The rest of the weekend we didn’t have much to do so we just hung around home, it was great. As for last weekend, it was our Thanksgiving holiday long weekend!
Yummy, yummy. The in-laws were going to Mackinaw Island so they overnighted at our place on Friday night, no dinner or anything, and then were gone by the time we woke up the next morning. The next day we went to Clovermead honey farm to have lunch with my side of the family, all the kids had a blast. So well within 24 hours and the Thanksgiving weekend was totally done and celebrated, best one ever!! The next two full days we had off we just spent around the house doing nothing, it was amazing. James is still going strong with his karate, swimming and Beavers, and I’m still fretting over the rainy weather, waiting for this basement repair to get scheduled. Soon, hopefully. The Leafs have still been winning, although they aren’t playing the greatest, relying on their goalies way too much. But once they get on track and get rolling they should be pretty scary! Anyhoo, here is what I got done the last couple of weeks . . .
1) I’m finally through the story missions on Lego Battles: Ninjago! I last left off on “Skeleton Act III”, the fourth level there being “Lightning Strikes”. This level was basically a boss fight against the Lightning Dragon, which was awoken during the race to grab the Shurikens in the last level. We set out and cleared the area of rock monsters, stealing four lightning rods from them in the process. We then put said rods on nearby platforms and used the energy they created to trap the dragon, allowing us to attack it, eventually destroying it. Along the way I earned True Ninja status and unlocked a Minikit. The final level of this chapter was “The Hermit”. In it we were searching for an old hermit skeleton, the only being who apparently knew the way down from the clouds we were stuck in. We searched the nearby cave systems, destroying the rock monsters and ninjas that came out of them, eventually finding the hermit and ending the level. Along the way I earned True Ninja status, found a Red Brick, and found a Minikit. Back in the game hub I decided to purchase the unlocked Kruncha character. So then it was off to “Skeleton Act IV”, the last one! First up was the “Into the Darkness” level. Garmadon showed up, setting a trap for the ninja Kai, our job was to lure him in to said trap. While Kai was chasing who he thought was his sister Nya, we used pressure plates to release sets of spikes that were sticking up out of the ground, herding Kai in the direction we wanted, eventually helping him reach his final destination. Along the way I earned True Ninja status and found a Minikit. Next up was “Shadow Puppets”. With a chance to defeat Sensei Wu on the line, with the help of some shadow warriors, we first got our builders busy getting our team completely outfitted. Then we set off to search the land and eventually found Wu and the rest of the ninja team. Our shadow warriors chased Wu on to a small slab of rock floating in the nearby lava, ending the level. Along the way I earned True Ninja status and found a Minikit. Third came the “Foresight” level. With the ninja team tucked safely away on an island, we needed to get at them somehow. We began by wandering the surrounding forest, destroying many rock monsters and their dwellings, obtaining a key in the process. Eventually we found a locked cave entrance and used our key to access it, once inside we stepped on a pressure plate. Doing so raised a bunch of rocks in the river, allowing us access to the island. Before we could attack them though, the ninja escaped. Along the way I earned True Ninja status, found a Red Brick, and found a Minikit. “Unturned” was the next level in line, in it the ninjas had escaped over the other side of a mountain range, our task was to get to them and take their weapons. We set out through the forest, destroying everything in sight, including some of the ninjas. We found the Nunchuks, Scythe and the Shurikens in the process, ending the level. Along the way I earned True Ninja status and found a Minikit. The fifth and final level of this chapter was called “Within Grasp”. Sensei Wu was finally within grasp of the skeleton’s forces, this was our chance to crush him! First of all we got our builders going on constructing our massive war machine, while doing so we were attacked by Zane and Nya. Once defeating them we set out across the craggy landscape, eventually having to return to our home base to defeat Jay, Kai, Cole and Sensei Wu. We set out again and eventually found the ninja’s base of operations, laying waste to everything in sight and ending things. Along the way I earned True Ninja status and found a Minikit. Once out in the hub again I purchased the Samukai character. What an epic journey!
2) Plenty of progress was made on Lego Harry Potter: years 5-7 as well. Resuming where I left off last time I explored Professor Slughorn’s classroom, eventually brewing a potion. During this sequence I helped 1 Student in Peril, unlocked the Charity Burbage character, unlocked the Draught of Living Death (earning a Gold Brick), and found 1 more Gold Brick. We then left the classroom and explored Hogwarts further, finding our way to Dumbledore’s office. During this sequence I helped 1 Student in Peril, unlocked the Zacharias Smith and Ernie Prang characters, and found another Gold Brick. Inside Dumbledore’s office he had Harry look in the penseive, which took us in to a black and white memory of Dumbledore’s. Controlling Dumbledore I had an old lady guide me through a building which ended up being the home for orphans that a young Tom Riddle was attending, eventually conversing with the punk himself. Upon coming out of the memory I unlocked the Slughorn Vial (earning a Gold Brick). Afterwards we set off to explore again, this time heading out in to the castle grounds. After finding a fellow student an item he was in need of, he allowed us access to a part of the grounds we hadn’t been to yet. This path led us in to Hogsmeade Village, once there we wandered around a bit and then entered the Hog’s Head pub. During this sequence I unlocked the Fred (Winter), George (Winter), Seamus (Winter), Dean (Winter) and Parvati Patil characters, found 1 Red Brick, and found 1 Gold Brick. Entering the Hog’s Head led me to the second level of this chapter of the game, called “Just Desserts”. Inside the pub Professor Slughorn made it known that he was after some butter beer. So we began exploring, soon rounding up a few mugs and setting them on a table. We then got the nearby keg working and poured one out for Slughorn, after giving it to him he invited Harry and Hermione to his special dinner parties at the school. At the first party, which didn’t go well, I ended up exploring his office, helping Slughorn clean up after the festivities. After a cutscene of Draco using the box that could teleport him in and out of the school, the next Slughorn dinner party began. I was acting as a server/bus boy and after chasing Hermione around for a bit, I found Draco spying on us and got him busted! Afterwards I overheard a conversation between him and Snape as they talked in the hall. During this level I earned True Wizard status (earning a Gold Brick), found 1 Crest Piece, and earned another Gold Brick for the completion. Back in the game hub afterwards we continued to explore Hogwarts, heading to Flitwick’s charms class where we accidentally set some things on fire and trapped Flitwick in a box. We acquired the Aguamentia charm and began putting out fires, eventually finding the key to release Flitwick. During this sequence I helped 1 Student in Peril, unlocked the Lavender Brown character, and unlocked Aguamentia (earning a Gold Brick). The last bit I did was head back to Diagon Alley and purchase the Red Brick I previously unlocked, which contained the Score X2 extra. Sweetness!!
3) Consider Thor: God of Thunder kaputs and put to bed! For my last round of play on this game I started on “Chapter 7”, the first level there being “Act 1”. In the palace at Asgard we were suddenly attacked by trolls, I had to fend them off with Heimdal. Soon Odin showed up and Heimdal sent him to Niflheim, to prepare a new prison for Mangog while I headed out to confront the beast directly. I proceeded through the city and took on many of the same trolls I faced early in the game. During the level I found a Rune. Next up was “Act 2”, in this level I continued through Asgard in the same manner, taking on many of the same enemies. Heading in and out of buildings while also using ramps and bridges I eventually met up with Loki. We discussed the mess he’d gotten us all in to before we went our separate ways. During the level I found a Rune. In “Act 3”, the last level of the game, I ran in to Mangog right away and we jawed back and forth a bit. He took off so I kept on trekking through the city, battling more trolls while climbing up ramps and ledges. Mangog showed up again and we had some more back and forth, I then moved on and took out some more trolls before meeting up with Mangog for the third and final time. I engaged him and it was a long, drawn out fight as he was the most epic boss in the game, but my perseverance paid off and I took the beast down, saving the day and ending the game. Afterwards I participated in one of the alternative game modes, called “Survival”. Basically you pick one of the chapter locations from the Story mode and are then tasked with surviving for as long as possible, against endless waves of enemies. Here is how I fared: Asgard (11 waves), Vanaheim (7 waves), Niflheim (16 waves), Hel (7 waves), Niflheim (12 waves), Muspelheim (4 waves) & Asgard (13 waves). I also completed the two other game modes, the first being “Frostgrinder Assault”. In this mode you get to pick from some of the supporting characters in the game, not Thor. Once you do your team is off on a short mission through a corridor filled with enemies, to assault the Frostgrinder. After completing it the first time I unlocked four more characters to play with, making it a total of seven to choose from in this mode. The other game mode didn’t really have a name, basically you get to control one of the large lava beasts from the game, setting a couple of power meters. Once you set said meters the beast rolls a giant boulder along the ground which takes out scores of his fellow trolls along it’s trajectory!! My best distance was 7186 meters. The last thing I did was go back and replay some of the Story mode levels, in order to find all of the Runes in the game. I actually did this before the lava beast game mode as finding all the Runes is what unlocks that game mode, but it was just easier to type it out this way. Game review forthcoming!
4) A second game also fell over this past blog period, that being Hot Wheels: Battle Force 5! The next level I had to play was the eighth, called “Too Hot to Handle”. The last warp we took deposited us back in the lava battle zone, controlling Vert I had to take out a number of lava larvae Hatch and Sever left behind for us. Afterwards I took control of Zoom and went after the battle key, eventually coming to a cavern where I had to fight off both Hatch and Sever. Once they were out of the way I pursued the key, once I found it I nabbed it and rejoined the rest of the team. After jumping a massive lake of lava we hit the portal and were so out of there. The ninth level was called “Deep Trouble”. Appearing back in the swampy battle zone, we were immediately engaged by a tentacled plant beast that Krocomodo set on us. Using Stanford I took the beast down, then switched control to Agura, using the Tangler to climb the walls and chase after Krocomodo while the others tried to find another way around the mess we had made. I soon entered a man-made tunnel, taking on these weird alien pods, before coming to an open courtyard that seemed a little too quiet. Once I grabbed the nearby battle key Kalus and Krocomodo sprung, I had to beat them down like the common dogs they are! Afterwards I raced back to the others and we hit the open portal, battling more pods along the way. The final level of the game was called “Battle Royale”. This level found us warp back to the desert canyon battle zone, immediately Zemerik sicked a large slug creature he had named a Zeel on us. While the others battled this thing I took control of Stanford and pursued Zemerik, driving through a canyon and taking out many Zurk along the way. Reaching an arena type formation in the rocks I took on Zemerik and bested him, despite interference from more Zurk, then drove back to rejoin the others. They were still struggling with the beast so I chipped in and we made the Zeel nothing a piece of history! There was no way to exit the cavern we were in, so using Agura I drove down this dead creature’s gullet and out his other end. Once back on solid ground I dispatched some burrowing rock snakes and came to a large skull. Upon entering it I found the battle key . . . as well as Kalus, Sever, Krocomodo, and Hatch! In an epic battle I took all four of the Vandals down and then grabbed the key as the rest of the team rejoined me. Before we could take action Zemerik showed up and stole the key though. Using Vert I peeled off in pursuit and after dispatching some Zurk, caught up to Zemerik. After defeating him we used the final battle key in conjunction with the Infinity Key and opened a portal home, finally ending this whole fiasco! After finishing the game I replayed a few of the levels just to grab more of the Battle Force 5 collectibles and finish unlocking all of the gallery images. Although this game is pretty short it’s also pretty fun!! Another review forthcoming . . .
5) Believe it or not a third game was also completed . . . when it rains it pours!! The game in question this time is Thundercats. Stage nine was up next and saw me enter our enemies’ Thundrillium mine. I began moving through the mine’s tunnels, taking out lizard soldiers along the way. Eventually I penetrated deeper in to the mine where I met up with our betrayer, Grune. In a boss fight I beat him down good, but he yelled for somebody named “Driller”, which is how the stage mysteriously ended. Stage ten was simply a boss fight, against this Driller creature, a mechanical being that could drill through the ground and ceiling of the area we were fighting in. He was a much tougher boss than Grune, but I got hip to his rhythms and eventually took him out. In stage eleven the mine began caving in due to my epic battle with Driller. Running along I exited the cavern I was in, coming to a shaft full of falling boulders that I had to jump on and up in order to reach the next area. In the next tunnel I slid under and jumped over some wooden scaffolding that was holding things together, before coming to another shaft of falling boulders that I had to navigate. The next tunnel featured various lizard soldiers I had to destroy, afterwards I exited the mine and Cheetara was able to bring the Thundrillium through with us, solving our problem of the broken down tank. We finally reached the hiding place of the Book of Omens in stage twelve, entering the temple it was kept in, although Mumm-Ra and the lizard army were in close pursuit. In the first room of the temple I had to dispatch many lizard soldiers, using the room’s platforms to aid in my task. Moving along the next room featured a large chasm, forcing me to jump across platforms that began to crumble not long after landing on them. After coming to another platform filled room where I had to fight off many lizards, the next room I came to featured a small number of fire breathing statues. After destroying them the corridor beyond was full of spinning saw blades that came out of both the floor and ceiling. Nimbly avoiding them I came to another room full of lizards, then another saw blade corridor, and finally a room where Driller showed up again! Not being so afraid of him this time I made him look like a bitch and finished the stage. Stage thirteen was more of the same. In the first room I faced off against some lizards as well as a Warbot, then passed through a corridor of saw blades. A room with two Warbots followed, then came a room with the fire breathing statues. After jumping a chasm with crumbling platforms I navigated a saw blade corridor before coming to a room where I had to dispatch more lizards. Next up was a room featuring another visit from Driller, in the chamber beyond I came across Slithe, who was on guard for his master Mumm-Ra. I took him down in an easy boss fight, then moved outside to a ledge near a large waterfall, outside the Tower of Omens. Grune awaited me and I beat him down once again, continuing along my path of destruction. Stage fourteen, the last one of the game, was simply a boss fight against Mumm-Ra. However, this battle against our ancient foe was a little tougher than previous encounters. After licking him down in his usual form he called on some evil spirits, which transformed him in to some muscled demon with large wings, which extended the boss fight and made it a touch more difficult! I stuck with it though and clipped the beast’s wings, forcing Mumm-Ra in to retreat and winning the day for the Thundercats and the land of Thundera. After finishing the game I replayed a lot of the stages to try and achieve some missing objectives and unlock more of the game’s artwork, but that was about it. Another review incoming!
6) James and I have continued to strongly plug away on Planes, so much fun! When we last left off we were playing Ishani’s Story mode levels, to finish her off we just had her fourth and final level to play, called “The Grand Finale”. In the final leg of a Wings Around the Globe race the fireworks display was mysteriously sabotaged. In order to rectify the situation we first grabbed a magnet to equip our planes with. We then picked up the bundles of fireworks one at a time and performed stunts to get them to shoot off properly. In the meantime the pit crews had set up a proper display but forgot the matches to light it with. So we grabbed a flare gun and helped get the show started, our final step being to ring the giant gong that signalled the start of the festivities! On this level we earned a Platinum medal and unlocked the Ishani achievement. The next character whose story we chose to explore was Bulldog, his first level was called “Power to the Party”. At the Oil Haus pub in Germany after a leg of the Wings Around the Globe race the party was a rockin’, so much so that the power blew! Our first job was to go get a flare launcher and then fire it at a number of torches situated throughout the surrounding village, shedding a bit of light on the scene. We then equipped ourselves with lightning rods and flew up in to the storm clouds, gaining a charge, then came down and used said energy to repower the generators. However, the oil supply for the generators was getting dangerously low, so an air drop of supplies was radioed in to the authorities. Our last task was to once again use the flare gun, this time to mark zones for the air drop to occur. On this level we earned a Platinum medal and unlocked the Co-Piloteer, Air Miles, and The Need for Speed achievements. The second level was called “Desert Cleanup”. In the leg of the WATG race that was to hit Deadstick Desert, we found that the area was just ripe for a cleanup. We began by smashing through old, crappy billboards, thus removing them, then found out that the airport needed power. We equipped ourselves with magnets and went on a search for three large batteries, taking them back to the airport and using them to light the place up. Our last step was to obtain a camera and then take pictures of the nearby landmarks, for use in promoting this nice, fresh and clean destination! On this level we earned a Platinum medal. Next came the “Volcano Chaos” level, which was simply a portion of a segment of the WATG race. The racers were sweating as they came to the location of an erupting volcano, our job was to stay the course and fly our hearts out, being the first to cross the finish line. On this level we earned a Platinum medal and unlocked the Winging It achievement. Bulldog’s final level was “Old Dog, New Tricks”. In need of more sponsorship money Bulldog took his clients on joyrides through the skies of Dubai, using a magnet to pick them up and then performing tricks with them while in mid-air. This helped solidify their relationships and earned Bulldog the dough he so needed. On this level we earned a Platinum medal and unlocked the Bulldog achievement. Jimmer and I also tried out the “Free Flight” mode of the game. In this mode you simply explore an area of your choosing, at your leisure, the only task required of you is to find the 10 puzzle pieces scattered throughout each landscape. When you collect all 10 pieces you unlock a postcard representing that specific area. So far we’ve acquired all puzzle pieces on the Propwash Junction, India, Pacific Ocean, Iceland, and Germany areas, unlocking the Tour Guide achievement along the way. More to come!
7) Finally, since recently knocking off two DS games I decided to start play on another title for the system, inspired by the current MLB playoffs going on. The game in question is MLB 2K11! I got right in to the thick of things with this game, starting up a full season controlling my Cleveland Indians. So far I’ve played just the opening game of my season, which went as such: won vs. Chicago White Sox 6-5. A ninth inning comeback nail biter fo’ sho’!!
"NNGRR" - Later the same day that I posted my last blog, I finished reading the middle book in the Beyonders trilogy, called Seeds of Rebellion. The story resumes with Jason, who found his way home to Colorado at the end of the last book. However, after experiencing life in Lyrian, even though it was super dangerous, he is desperate to return there. He needs to bring Rachel back to their own world as well as inform Galloran that the magical word that should have destroyed Maldor is a fraud. Well one day he gets his wish when the very same hippo that swallowed him and sent him on his first trip to Lyrian does the same again! Immediately he meets up with his friend Tark, who gives him advice on where to head in order to meet up with Galloran and friends. The going is tough though, for he has to navigate a forest full of giants and picks up a dangerous enemy called a lurker (a shadow type being), which trails him everywhere he goes. On Tark’s advice Jason picks up a guide name Aram and the two hit the road together. Eventually everybody is reunited . . . Jason, Tark, Aram, Galloran, Rachel, Drake, Ferrin, etc., the whole gang is back! But because Maldor knows they know the word is a fake, he is now killing all of the guardians of the word’s syllables. The only problem is the guardian in the swamp, Corrine, happens to be Galloran’s daughter. Galloran figures the only play they can make is to unite the free people of Lyrian and rise against Maldor, ending their predicament once and for all . . . one way or another. To do so they will definitely need the help of the seed people, the Amar Kabal, so they set out for their home, the Seven Vales. They all survive the trip (barely) and the negotiations go reasonably well, but the Amar Kabal want reassurance. So while Galloran leads a diplomatic mission to visit Maldor at Felrook, the remaining team sets out to visit the temple of Mianamon, to consult with the oracle. However, the trip is dangerous, for they must not only cross very harsh terrain, but deal with a land full of the undead as well. Most of the team makes it through and after meeting up with Galloran and dispatching many of Maldor’s soldiers, they set out to visit the oracle. Eventually reaching the temple the oracle tells them what they want to hear, that one possible future outcome will see Maldor defeated and the land of Lyrian freed, but it is not a sure thing, and both Jason (who has become a decent warrior) and Rachel (who has become a powerful wielder of the magical Edomic language) have a large part to play in it. This was a great read, so much action, so many new places and faces, it was hard not to ramble on in this review!! Unfortunately the paperback edition of the last book doesn’t come out until February, but I’ll be waiting . . .
Mid last week I finished reading the fourth and final book in the Century Quartet, called Dragon of Seas. To start this final story off the four kids are all back in their home cities, but they can sense something approaching and know that they must meet for one final adventure in Shanghai. Mistral and Elettra arrive in good time, but there is no sign of Harvey. That is because Harvey, working with Jacob Mahler, the assassin who has been one of their main foes for so long, have planned a sequence of events that will get Harvey locked down inside of Heremit Devil’s tall black skyscraper . . . in a perfect position to let Jacob in so he can “deal with” his former employer! When Jacob gets in touch with Mistral, Elettra, Sheng, and of course their friend Ermete, they are incensed about not knowing the plan. When Jacob goes through with it and Harvey helps him gain admittance to the skyscraper, all hell breaks loose and the authorities are drawn to the scene. For Mistral and Elettra have taken it in to their own hands to try and get Harvey back, using their powers to lay siege to the skyscraper. All they end up doing in the end however, is get caught. Meanwhile Sheng, who has recently been plagued by waking nightmares and visions of a small boy who’s been following him around the city, finally understands that this might be part of his unrealized power. He follows this boy and finally talks to him, which leads Sheng on an adventure of his own, leading him straight to the fourth artifact, the Dragon of Seas.Unfortunately Heremit Devil has been keeping tabs on Sheng, for he then swoops in and captures him, as well as the new artifact and information they gleaned from it. Once Heremit has all the kids alone he asks them what these artifacts are supposed to do, but they can’t tell him as they have no idea what their roles are in this apparent pact they have become a part of. So they decide to head out in to the middle of the ocean, where it has been revealed that every 100 years an island rises up from the deeps. Heremit and the kids do indeed find the island, which actually turns out to be a large fragment of a planet that has passed by Earth a number of times in the past and is responsible for the climate changes that are plaguing the planet. However, the strange island seems to create more questions than it answers, all the kids know is that they are now responsible for safeguarding the Earth. After Heremit Devil and his bodyguard Nik Knife off each other on the island, the kids are free to be rescued. A short time later they all gather in Rome where two of the previous pact protectors, Vladimir Askenazy and Elettra’s aunt Irene, try and explain the history behind the pact and what their roles are within it. I’m not even going to try and get in to it and explain it though, as the message behind this book was way too deep for me to try and put in to words, I would have gotten it all wrong! Anyways, it was an exciting and action packed finale to this very interesting story, I’m still mulling over the meaning of it all. And it was quite a wide open ending to boot! Great series.
Just yesterday I finished reading the second book in the Septimus Heap series, called Flyte. About a year has transpired between the events of book one, Magyk, and the start of this story. Septimus Heap is now living in the Wizard Tower, acting as the ExtraOrdinary Wizard’s (Marcia Overstrand) apprentice, while the Heap family has moved in to the palace along with the young future queen, Jenna Heap. However, dark forces are still at work unfortunately. Marcia has gained an evil shadow that has somehow attached itself to her, and on a visit to the castle the eldest Heap child, Simon, kidnaps Jenna and takes her away to the Badlands. For Simon has turned dark and is doing his defunct master DomDaniel’s bidding, who’s bones he fished out of the Marram Marshes after the events of the last story. Simon is angry at Septimus for taking the apprenticeship he wanted, also bitter about Jenna’s newfound royal lineage . . . and he is hell-bent on revenge. Nobody believes Septimus that Jenna was kidnapped by Simon, so he and his brother Nicko set out to rescue her. Along the way they find out that Wolf Boy, a forest dweller that lives with the wild Heap children, is actually a friend of Septimus’ from his Young Army days! Anyhoo, in the meantime Jenna has escaped and made her way to the Port, where she eventually meets up with Septimus, Nicko and Wolf Boy. They stay the night above the Port Witch Coven after Jenna eludes a dangerous stranger in the streets, and they barely survive the night. With Simon in pursuit the lot of them then head to the safety of Aunt Zelda’s cottage in the Marram Marshes, as Jenna is due there for her midsummer visit anyways. They just barely make it but unfortunately aren’t able to stay long, as the Dragon Boat fears it is no longer safe at Keeper’s Cottage and must return to the castle. So they embark on one last journey, eluding Simon along the way but not before he deals the boat some serious damage. Once back at the castle it appears as though everybody is safe . . . but that is not the case. For the shadow affixed to Marcia is an attempt by Simon to raise DomDaniel and take out Marcia in the process, which she just barely manages to stop. And Simon does one last evil deed, dealing the Dragon Boat a crippling blow before being captured temporarily. There are some bright sides to their return though, as Septimus uncovers the power of Flyte, gains a baby dragon he names Spit Fyre, and the mysterious stranger from the Port turns up, who is actually Jenna’s biological father! This was such a great read, I couldn’t put it down and kept flipping the pages like they were nothing. Much like Harry Potter it’s just such a rich and vivid tale full of intriguing characters, creatures and secrets. And to think I’ve still got five books to go!!
Late last night I finished watching the second season of Transformers Prime season 2 on DVD . . . epic!! Things start off right where they left off at the end of season one, with Optimus Prime reverted to his original self, Orion Pax, and under Decepticon control. However, he senses that things are a bit off, and in a desperate bid to get their leader back Jack and Arcee hijack a space bridge to go to Cybertron and bring the power of the matrix back to Optimus. Their plan is a success but in the process it is revealed to both Autobots and Decepticons alike that there are ancient Cybertronian relics scattered all across the Earth, relics originally created by the Primes. It is then a race between each faction to decode the coordinates to said relics, which include the Apex Armour, Forge of Solus Prime, Phase Shifter, Resonance Blaster, Spark Extractor, and even the Star Saber. The sides battle back and forth and things are mostly even, until the end when the Autobots take control of most of the relics as well as the last four artifacts that surface, the Omega keys. These keys are rumoured to be able to restore Cybertron to what it once was, and both sides want to be the ones who are responsible for the resurrection! After re-recovering the Omega keys when Starscream stole them from the Autobots in an attempt to win back Megatron’s favour, the good guys appear to have the upper hand . . . until Starscream shows up with some human captives to barter with! This leaves Optimus Prime with a hard decision to make, and he takes drastic action . . . an action that may even claim his own spark. This was a great season, so intense and grim, with an awesome storyline. Wheeljack showed up for a few more episodes, and the Autobots got a new charge when one of my favourite G1 bots, Smokescreen, showed up! New Decepticons on the scene included Dreadwing as well as hordes of Insecticons. Bonus features on this collection include a long interview with many of the gents who create this series, as well as Larry King interviewing Peter Cullen at Comic Con! Can’t wait for season three . . .
Well, when I got home and finally started adding my edits to these last couple posts, I didn't have enough room and had to add a third post! This is it, I swear . . .
Last weekend, when the wife's dad was in town, we took James to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2! :P This story picks up right at the end of the first movie, which I really happened to enjoy, fyi. After stopping his own invention from destroying his home town, the island of Swallow Falls, under a mountain of ginormous food items, Flint Lockwood and the rest of the island's inhabitants are whisked off to the mainland town of San Franjose by Live Corp, the company that is in charge of the cleanup operation. And it just so happens that Live Corp is led by Flint's childhood hero, the man who made him want to become an inventor, Chester V! :shock: Making matters even sweeter, there is a job waiting for Flint at Live Corp as soon as he gets settled. However, there is a more sinister plot going on behind the scenes that Flint is not aware of. For his machine was never truly destroyed, and it has slowly been creating a living ecosystem in Swallow Falls made up of living food items such as cheese spiders, ferocious tacodiles, amongst many others! :cry: When Chester V's latest expedition in Swallow Falls fails, he looks for somebody expendable to go there and destroy the machine once and for all . . . and his choice is Flint. :roll: When Flint's friends and family rally to his cause and come along for the journey, things go horribly wrong as the island's new inhabitants react violently to their arrival. However, eventually the gang figures out that the creatures are only hostile towards members of Live Corp, and they just happened to be wearing Live Corp vests! Once they figure this out the group is A-OK and continue on with their mission, but as they travel the land and meet all these new creatures, they realize that destroying their ecosystem would be wrong. Under strong pressure from Chester V though, Flint ignores his friends pleas and soldiers on. Will Flint be able to see through the ruse in time to save the new Swallow Falls and his relationship with his friends, or will he confirm his choice as Chester V's puppet? This was a really cool sequel, I love all the different creations they came up with for the food creatures. It was a well animated film and because of the crazy amounts of food occupying Swallow Falls it was a very busy and colourful experience, there was always something interesting to look at, that's for sure! :cool: It featured a wicked voice cast too. I love Anna Faris, and Terry Crews makes me laugh, even if it's just his voice I'm hearing. There is also Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, Will Forte, James Caan, and Neil Patrick Harris. N.P.H.!! :lol:
That very same weekend YTV just so happened to air the original Despicable Me, go figure! :P So James and I sat down to watch it and I finally got to see how this saga began. The main character of course, is Gru, a fiendish super villain. When a new super villain on the block named Vector somehow steals the great Egyptian pyramid of Giza, Gru is displeased and attempts to complete his greatest heist yet . . . to steal the moon. :o Helping him along the way are his hordes of yellow minions, and the brainiac inventor, Dr. Nefario. In order to pull off this scheme Gru needs to secure funding from the super villain bank, and they want proof of Gru's methods, which just so happens to be a shrink ray he steals from an installation in Asia. With the plan a full go the wheels suddenly come falling off when Vector steals the shrink ray from Gru, and Gru's attempts at infiltrating Vector's hideout to steal it back prove futile. :x But when Gru notices three young sisters who are selling cookies allowed admittance to Vector's hideout no problemo, Gru comes up with a new plan. He adopts the three orphans from Miss Hattie's Home for Girls. It is a tough adjustment having these three girls in the house and Gru mostly ignores them, except when they interfere with his plans. After they help him get the shrink ray back from Vector they go to a theme park and as Gru actually spends time with Margo, Edith and Agnes, he begins to really warm to them. But this interference from the girls eventually costs Gru the loan from the bank, and especially displeases Dr. Nefario . . . so much so that he arranges to have the girls sent back to Miss Hattie's. :cry: Not knowing the girls' fate Gru goes ahead with his scheme and steals the moon, but in the process he finds out that Vector has kidnapped the girls, holding them hostage in his hideout. A more important mission then comes to Gru's attention, rescuing his kids and defeating Vector, returning life to it's new type of normal. :) This is such a great movie, a great story, excellent animation, and again those bloody funny minions!! :lol: The movie features an excellent voice cast including Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, and Kristen Wiig. Nice to finally see it!!
7) Next up is Thundercats! :) Stage five was the next portion of the game I had to complete, in it we had reached Briar Wood in our pursuit of the Book of Omens. We ran in to the Petalars, a race of flower people who were blown here in a massive storm. We promised to help them in their search for the Cliff of Winds and their wish to return home, but the lizards Kask, Khamai and Sauro were moving in on our position. :( We forged through the forest, taking on some flying creatures and these weird skunk/raccoon cross animals with tentacles, jumping through trees along the way. Eventually we ran in to a large, strange bird creature that was bent on our destruction, but instead we destroyed it first in a boss fight. In stage six we continued through the forest, dealing with more of the same creatures. Eventually we ran in to Kask, Khamai and Sauro. I fended them off but they said they had us surrounded with their lizard army. Moving along we reached the Cliff of Winds, but it wasn't exactly what the Petalars expected it would be. :cry: Slithe then set fire to the forest around us, but all of a sudden a "miracle" happened, a large updraft came along and swept the Petalars away from the danger. The seventh stage saw the Thundercats left all alone with the lizard army, now that the Petalars were safe and all. Surrounded by a blazing inferno I took on many different types of lizard soldiers Slithe sicked on us (after a bit of trashtalking of course!) :P, followed by a couple of large robotic beings with scorpion like tails called Warbots. Stage eight was the last one I got to, in it the fighting continued. Just when we seemed to be overwhelmed by the lizard army's forces a large tank appeared, scattering the lizards in all directions. The mystery driver was the previously thought dead General Panthro! :lol: As we moved along in the Thundertank it eventually broke down, in order to get it back up and running we needed Thundrillium for fuel. Our master plan is to infiltrate an enemy mine and get our supply there. Well see . . .
8) Lastly, with Generator Rex in the books, James and I were excited to finally start playing Planes! :cool: This game takes place well after the events in the movie. Echo and Bravo return to their aircraft carrier one day to find Skipper below decks. They ask him why he isn't out training Dusty for the next Wings Around the Globe race, in response Skipper launches in to a story about Dusty instead, and that is basically what this game is. You get to play a small number of missions each with some of the movie's main characters, the events of which reveal interesting stories from their past. :D The first level you play, just after Skipper talks to Echo and Bravo, is just an introductory level that gets you used to the game's controls and schemes. In this level Dusty had gotten back from vacation and was very rusty with his flying. :oops: Skipper put him through his paces, taking Dusty first through some basics like turning left and right, barrel rolls, etc., then more advanced maneuvers like flying to specific points, collecting speed meters, taking pictures, flying through targets to earn wing points, and using the GPS system Dottie installed. The level finished with Dusty getting to do some Jolly Wrenchers type stuff like collecting a vortex cannon and using it to shoot targets, flying through a long and more complicated series of gates, finishing with a landing. James and I then moved on and started working through the games "Story Mode". The character we first chose to explore was Ishani, the first level in her story being "A Colorful Calamity". :P Ripslinger had sabotaged one of Ishani's favourite events, the Festival of Colors, by taking away all the colour and spreading greyness. To bring back the colour before the festival started we began by flying our planes through the gardens below, collecting blue, red, orange and yellow flowers. Our next task was to fly straight through coloured piles of sand, in so doing spreading colour all over the damn place! :lol: We then equipped our rides with a paint sprayer and shot gobs of colour at the party guests, afterwards the festivities were ready to begin! For our performance we earned a Platinum Medal, plus we also unlocked the Co-Pilot, Five Hundred, One Thousand, A Bronze Medal, A Silver Medal, A Gold Medal, and A Platinum Medal achievements. :cool: Ishani's second level was "Too Fast, Too Fueled". In a race against Ripslinger Ishani finds out the hard way that her fuel has been spiked and she has way more speed than she can handle! :shock: We had to wrestle our planes under control and guide them through a course of rings to the best of our ability. We did so and earned another Platinum Medal. The third level, the last we've gotten at so far, was called "Diwali Destruction". Ishani had plans to win the Diwali Festival Race, but unfortunately her fuel was stolen. Ned and Zed had taken it and hidden it in clay pots all around the palace. Our first task was to fly around and smash said pots, getting our gas back. Once that was done we found out that Ned and Zed had also drained the palace's generators of power, the ones they were going to be using for the festival. Equipping our machines with a lightning rod we went up in to the approaching storm clouds and got all charged up, then released the energy on the generators and got them running again. The final thing these two clowns did was take members of the various pit crews and fly them away from the palace. We rounded them back up and dropped them back at the palace, setting everything to rights. On this level we earned a Platinum Medal and unlocked the Flight School achievement. Afterwards, while playing on my own for a bit, I tried out the "Balloon Pop" game mode. In this mode you have four minutes in the arena of your choice, to pop balloons of different colours that are worth various point values. Your total score at the end of the allotted time determines your rank. I started off by playing the "Propwash Junction" arena, there my best score was 2670 points, good enough for a Platinum Medal. I also unlocked the Balloon Popper achievement. I then moved on to the "Germany" arena, my best score so far has been 2040 points, good enough for only a Silver Medal. Arrgghhhh!! :x More to come soon, I'm sure!
"NNGRR" - The weekend after my last blog we took James to see Despicable Me 2 at out university's film theatre, and everybody loved it! :lol: At a remote Arctic research base a large machine resembling a magnet swoops in and takes away the entire facility. Not having much to go on an organization called the Anti-Villain League, set on stopping the fiend behind this theft, try and recruit a man named Gru to help them out. Being a reformed villain, they figure Gru might have an inside track on figuring this situation out. :idea: The only tip the AVL has is that they believe the perpetrator to be one of the shop owners at the local mall. So Gru, along with his new partner Lucy, open up a bakery and proceed to go undercover, checking out the mall's inhabitants. Gru immediately believes the one responsible is Eduardo, the proprietor of a Mexican restaurant. Gru believes him to be the long thought dead villain El Macho, but nobody seems to believe him. Probably because they also know that he is worked up about Eduardo's son fancying his oldest girl, Margo! :x Soon after the AVL believes the case is closed when they think they have their man, Floyd, the guy who runs the wig shop. But the truth is revealed when Gru discovers El Macho's secret base and Lucy is eventually kidnapped by the villain. Part of El Macho's scheme of domination is to turn Gru's minions in to impervious, bloodthirsty beasts! :shock: With Dr. Nefario and Margo, Edith and Agnes showing up to help, Gru and his family are still way outnumbered, but they've got it where it counts . . . they've got the heart. But do they have enough heart to reverse the condition of Grus minions and take down the formidable El Macho? This movie was hilarious and action packed, those friggin' minions make me laugh like crazy! :P The voice talent involved is pretty cool too, including Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Russell Brand, Ken Jeong, and others. James first watched this movie (and the original) with his Nanny, so this is our first exposure to the Despicable Me series. I think I'm going to have to look and see if Netflix has the original and witness how this story all began . . .
Later that same day I made the wife watch G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which I got for my birthday! :twisted: With Zartan firmly entrenched in the White House, masquerading as the President of the United States, the time for Cobra's master plan to unfold has come. However, there is one thing to do beforehand . . . eliminate the Joes!! :shock: Staging a dummy mission to recover a nuke somewhere overseas, Cobra has the Joes unwittingly pull the mission off easily, but later on an air strike reduces their team to just three, even Duke perishes in the chaos. :cry: Roadblock, Lady Jaye and Flint are the lone survivors, left to limp back to the U.S. and lick their wounds after laying low. There is a wild card in play though, and that is Snake Eyes, who is actually off helping train another ninja named Jinx. When Snake Eyes eventually reunites with his comrades he not only brings Jinx, but Storm Shadow as well. :o The ninjas have somewhat sorted out their issues of the past, at least enough to allow them to work together, and with Storm Shadow's knowledge of Cobra's plans and inner workings, it could be the key to bringing this terrorist organization down. At a world summit Zartan tricks the rest of the world's nations in to nuclear disarmament, before revealing a number of new weapons Cobra has in orbit above the Earth, weapons capable of destroying nations at the mere push of a button. :| In the meantime the Joes, recruiting the original G.I. Joe, General Joe Colton, decide this is the perfect time to strike and devise a plan. But being seriously outmanned by Cobra's overwhelming numbers, do the Joes have what it takes to pull off such a mission? This was an awesome flick, full of action and some seriously cool ninja shit. And the movie was grim, man. All those Joes reduced to nothing, including Duke. :( And it was mysterious too, the film didn't explain what happened to key characters from the previous movie like the Baroness, Ripcord, Scarlett, etc. The cast was really cool as I love Dwayne Johnson, plus it also had Bruce Willis, Channing Tatum, and of course Ray Park. I really hope they do another one, much like Transformers I just can't get my fill of G.I. Joe!
Not long in to the following work week I finished watching the eighth and final volume of Voltron: Defender of the Universe (the Vehicle version) on DVD. :D This particular collection of episodes picks up and continues the theme that was constant through the first couple volumes of this particular series. Both the Galaxy Alliance and the Drules are scouring the universe looking for new planets for their respective people to live on. However, with the Drule home planet finally on the brink of destruction, their urgency has heightened severely. Commander Hazar is still trying to preach to his fellow Drules that negotiation and cooperation is the way to go with the Galaxy Alliance, but his subordinates constantly undermine his efforts and engage the Galaxy Alliance in many mutually destructive engagements against his orders. :roll: Eventually Hazar's quest for peace ticks off the head honchos enough so that they relieve him of his duties and set him up for court martial. However, all this does is inspire the peaceful citizens of Drule to form an underground movement to free themselves from their war mongering leaders, and who better to lead said movement than Hazar and his sister Dorma? :oops: With the Galaxy Alliance and the Voltron force starting to win some major engagements against the Drules and eventually forcing their leaders to flee, they reach planet Drule just in the nick of time and are able to evacuate their population with just moments to spare, before the planet goes supernova. :shock: And thus ends the great Voltron series, it was quite a finale! Finally the Galaxy Alliance can take a break from fighting and Hazar got the command he so deserved. Now the question is . . . when are they going to release that most recent Voltron series on DVD? Hurry up already!!
A couple weekends ago (the weekend of the dumb ass flooding) I finished reading a book I got for my birthday, called House of Secrets. :lol: The Walker children (Cordelia, Brendan, and Eleanor) are used to living a life of relative ease, what with the success of their surgeon father. However, when a mysterious incident occurs during a routine operation and their father is forced to quit his job, the whole family is in store for a lifestyle downgrade. :? Part of this process is finding a new, much cheaper place to live. When their real estate agent finds them an old San Francisco manor house close to the Golden Gate Bridge for a steal of a price it's a no brainer, and the whole family agrees. What makes the decision even more appealing, specifically for Cordelia the book worm, is that the house was formerly owned by a famous writer named Denver Kristoff. :) However, during the purchasing and moving process the kids, especially Brendan, are freaked out a bit when they see an old, bald crazy lady warning them to stay away from the house. On moving day this lady shows up as the Walker family is getting settled in and reveals herself to be Dahlia Kristoff, daughter of Denver. She also reveals another secret, her demonic alternate identity as the Wind Witch! :shock: Dahlia attacks the Walkers, sending the three siblings inside of a world made up of three of Denver Kristoff's most popular novels. Left all on their own in the midst of their now ramshackle house, in the middle of a strange, fictional land, the siblings must band together like never before in order to navigate the many pitfalls this place offers up. Pitfalls such as oversized wolves, colossal giants, savage warriors, pirates, and the list goes on. :evil: Receiving aid from some unlikely allies though, the Walker children may just survive their ordeal and make it back home to their parents. This was a great read, fast paced, full of funny action . . . the beginnings of another great series for "younger readers". I call bull on that whole young readers thing, these types of books are far more interesting and imaginative than most adult fiction out there today. Can't wait for book two!
It's been another few crazy weeks, to say the least! The weekend after I last blogged we didn't do a whole lot, but we did go to the Western Fair on it's last day of operation. James and his friend Addison had a great time, they especially loved the bumper cars and the "haunted houses". :P The weekend after that was horrible though, the worst Friday night I've ever had. :cry: We had an insane amount of rain, a crazy downpour that just wouldn't stop. More water than I've ever seen got in to my basement and I spent pretty much the whole night soaking it up with towels, then doing loads of towels in the washing machine because I used them all in soaking up the water! It was insane. :evil: The good news is that the quote I got last year when this problem first started happening, for them to come in and dig up around the foundation and fix everything up, the wife finally agreed to let me get it done, and they're not charging me tax either. Shibby!! :D That should be happening in the next week or two, hopefully there is no more rain in the meantime. As for last weekend, it was homecoming here in London and the wife went out with some of her friends who were in town, but I didn't do much at all. On the Sunday her dad came down for a visit and that was pretty much it. At this point I've pretty much stopped riding my bike to work. The weather has gotten too unpredictable, I'm way too busy at work, I don't have a pool to jump in at the end of my ride anymore, and the young hoochy mamas aren't wearing nearly as revealing clothes as they were even just a couple weeks ago. ;) Sports are going great though, as I watched all the Leafs' pre-season games and they look good, so far they've gotten off to a good start to the regular season, going 2-0. Also, my Cleveland Indians played awesome down the stretch and made the playoffs on the last day of the season, setting up a wild card game with Tampa Bay! Unfortunately they lost that game last night though, this wild card format is so stupid, this isn't football people! :x Speaking of football, although the Bears lost to the Lions last week (boooooooo!!), they are still 3-1 and looking good. ++ Because of my basement issues I wasn't able to get certain games played this time around as it's all a mess right now, but I did get some good stuff accomplished, here we go . . .
1) On SpongeBob SquarePants: Lights, Camera, Pants! I started play on the "Gold Story Mode" and so far have been able to complete the first three auditions, before the flood happened anyways. :roll: Along the way I collected two new Action Figures and two new pieces of Artwork.
2) As for Lego Battles: Ninjago, epic progress was in store on that front! :shock: I resumed where I had left off, in the midst of "Skeleton Act II", the next level there being "Dark Places". In search of the Caves of Despair we had to scour the forest, starting off by getting our builders to construct a keep, a brick bank, a barracks, a mine and some towers, as well as more builders and warriors. We then set out to find the caves, running in to some samurais along the way. We took them out and gained a key, then entered some secret passageways through the cliffs, eventually discovering a set of old ruins. We rebuilt them, unlocking the door to enter the caves we had been seeking. Along the way I earned True Ninja status and found a Minikit. The fourth level in this chapter was called "Walled In". :? In it we encountered a large wall that Samukai's army couldn't seem to get past, so we were tasked with taking it down. We set off through the caves and used pressure plates to lower sets of spikes that were shooting up through the ground, off and on engaging hordes of rock monsters along the way. Eventually we came to the wall in question and hacked it to pieces! :twisted: Along the way I earned True Ninja status, found a Red Brick, and found a Minikit. The final level of this chapter was "Rattled", and it was basically just a boss battle. We had to engage the Earth Dragon and it's rock monster minions in combat, but first we outfitted ourselves by getting our builders to construct a barracks, a keep, and towers to protect them while we did the fighting. :roll: After gaining all our upgrades the battle was never in question. Along the way I earned True Ninja status and found a Minikit. I then purchased the Nuckal and Zombie characters. Moving along, next up was "Skeleton Act III", the first level there being "Icy Pass". With the Ninjago team having disappeared we were in a frantic rush to get to the Frozen Wasteland and nab the Shurikens of Ice! :| We began our trek through the forest but were soon attacked by members of the ninjas' team, soon afterwards we got our builders busy constructing our war machine and completing our upgrades. We then engaged our enemies fully, destroying both their forces and their buildings. Next we chopped down the forest in the nearby vicinity, eventually finding the portal that would take us to our destination. Along the way I earned True Ninja status, found a Red Brick, and found a Minikit. The second level was "Ice Storm", and it saw the Ninjago team reach the Shurikens of Ice before us! :x Before we could confer with Garmadon we had to defend ourselves against hordes of ice monsters, which were attracted to our vicinity by the large blocks of ice nearby. We went out and found some torches to melt the ice blocks with, which deferred the ice monsters' attacks. We fought off their leftover forces and protected our source of fire before the level ended. Along the way I earned True Ninja status and found a Minikit. Next up was the "Antifreeze" level. :lol: Chopov and Frakjaw went and got themselves frozen inside blocks of ice, so our job of course was to thaw them out. :roll: I set off with Samukai and some builders, seeing some ninja forces moving through the area as we proceeded. This spurred us to immediately get our builders busy constructing our usual war machine, once complete we headed out in to the tundra to explore. Eventually we stumbled upon some enemy encampments and destroyed everything in sight. Taking a lit torch that we found in the rubble we thawed our comrades out and ended the level. Along the way I earned True Ninja status and found a Minikit. The last level I was able to get at was called "The Chain Gang". With the Ninjago team still far ahead of us, we were to hurry and find the chain that leads up to the Floating Ruins. Before we could set out in to the forest to do so though, we immediately had to deal with our ninja enemies, who were camped just across the river! :o We took out many of their warriors and builders, while at the same time our own builders set to work on our structures and forces. Once our enemies were dealt with we set out across the land, ravaging all in sight, and eventually found the chain we were looking for. Along the way I earned True Ninja status, found a Red Brick, and found a Minikit. Son of a . . .
3) A good deal of progress was also made on Lego Harry Potter: years 5-7. :cool: I began this bout of play by heading down to Hagrid's hut, where a large group of us climbed aboard and took off for the Ministry of Magic, infiltrating it. :o Thus began the sixth and final level of the first chapter of the game, called "A Veiled Threat". In a storeroom within the Ministry we searched for the orb that contained Harry's fabled prophecy. Running in to some rubble that blocked our progress we brewed a potion that blew it apart. Not much later we found the orb and watched the prophecy, but Lucius Malfoy and the Death Eaters showed up and attacked! :( We fled and eventually fell in to a large round chamber, where Malfoy and his cohorts were able to nab the orb and my friends. :shock: Sirius and the rest of the Order of the Phoenix showed up though, and engaged the Death Eaters in battle. I used some environmental objects to hurl at the ones holding my friends, gaining their release. I ultimately had to duel Malfoy and then Bellatrix Lestrange, besting them, but in the process Sirius fell through the mirror and was lost forever. :cry: I went after the retreating Bellatrix Lestrange but in so doing ran headlong in to Voldemort in the lobby. :shock: Fortunately Dumbledore showed up and took up the fight against Voldy, working together we defeated him and forced his retreat. Along the way I found 1 Crest Piece, helped 1 Student in Peril (earning a Gold Brick), unlocked the Fudge (Wizengamot) character, and earned 1 more Gold Brick (for the completion). After the level the Death Eaters were wreaking havoc all over London, which Harry was reading about in the paper. Enter Dumbledore, who suddenly apparated them away. Thus began the second chapter of the game, "The Half Blood Prince", the first level being "Out of Retirement". It turns out Dumbledore apparated us to the center of some small village. We made our way through the streets and eventually entered a home by brewing a strength potion, managing to pull off the front door. :P We went inside and began searching the dark, empty house, revealing one of Dumbledore's old acquaintances, Horace Slughorn, who was hiding in the form of a chair! :lol: I helped him clean his house up a bit while looking at some old pictures, then we apparated to Diagon Alley (after watching a cutscene of Snape being sworn to protect Draco by the Death Eaters). In Diagon Alley we saw Bellatrix Lestrange and hurried after her, first having to extract ourselves from the clutter of Zonko's joke shop! :P Once free we went and spied on Draco dealing with some Death Eaters in Knockturn Alley, which ended the level. Along the way I earned just 1 Gold Brick (for the completion). Back in the game hub afterwards we exited the Leaky Cauldron and hit the streets of London town, heading underground to the train station and getting on the Hogwarts Express. I got tied up with Draco as we were approaching the castle, which means I got left behind with Luna Lovegood on the platform outside the school. We navigated our way off said platform and hit the forest path that approaches Hogwarts. We were late for the feast but we got our fill anyways, afterwards taking off through the school and eventually making it to Professor Slughorn's potions class, where I found the text book once used by the Half Blood Prince. :!: During this sequence I unlocked Spectrespecs (earning a Gold Brick), unlocked the Dudley (Shirt), George (OWLs) and Argus Filch characters, and found 4 other Gold Bricks.
4) With regards to Thor: God of Thunder, I knocked off another four levels there. I left off at "Chapter 5", the next level up being "Act 3". In the icy land of Niflheim I roamed underground for a short while and engaged some trolls, then came topside and began making my way down the terrain. I then had to climb some rocky ledges, avoiding falling boulders while taking on various types of trolls. The boulders soon started up again, but not long after they stopped I came upon some ruins. :question: I climbed the ledges around it and then headed down a chasm and through a tunnel, tackling even more evil forces. Loki showed up and warned me against proceeding any further, saying he sensed a very strong presence ahead. I forged ahead though and had to do battle in a boss fight against some manner of Frost Giant. Unfortunately when I defeated this creature I released some manner of beast that was after Odin! :shock: Sif then showed up and said that she was healed by Odin, that Loki had been tricking Thor all along. :evil: Enter "Chapter 6", the first level there being "Act 1". Back at Asgard I talked to Odin, who informed me that this beast I released was named Mangog, a powerful force that was meant to remain locked away. :oops: The only thing that could destroy Mangog was a shard from the sword named Twilight, which belongs to the lord of Muspelheim . . . and he would not part with it willingly. :x I begged to be sent though, and so Heimdall whisked me on my way to Muspelheim, once there I began my trek through a lava land filled with floating ash. I had to take on some new enemies such as scorpion warriors, dragon warriors, as well as more of the regular types of trolls I'd faced thus far. After defeating multitudes of them I got to the boss of the level, some sort of large, walking lava horse beast, but I beat him down something special. During the level I found a Rune. In "Act 2" Loki showed up, but I told him to screw off. He said he didn't mean for things to get so out of hand, warning me of a lethal fiery rain up ahead, to avoid it I should travel through caves. Setting off through the land I first engaged another large lava beast. I picked up a portion of it's carcass and used it as a shield against the rain, not long afterwards running in to some scorpion warriors. After dispatching them I passed through some more protected areas, taking out some strange demon types. Dispatching another lava behemoth I again used it's carcass to protect myself, also using it to lay beats to my enemies! :twisted: I continued along, destroying the opposition, including a couple more behemoths, before sauntering through to the end of the level. The last level I've played is "Act 3" and it started with me forging ahead through the same type of surroundings, dispatching the same types of enemies. Eventually I reached a large lava chamber and was introduced to Surtur, the lord of Muspelheim. I began by concentrating on breaking his sword in to fragments, once it was out of the way I took the fight directly to Surtur's face and laid him low, level over. During the level I found a Rune. I think this one is almost done!
5) This time around I managed to finish mopping up on Generator Rex: Agent of Providence! :D The only thing left to do, really, was finish up the "Agent Six Challenges" game mode. I did so, completing the fifth level in 12:00 (target was 12:00) :shock:, the sixth level in 16:57 (target was 20:00), and the seventh level in 21:12 (target was 25:00). Game over!! Review forthcoming . . .
6) Hot Wheels: Battle Force 5 is next on the docket, on it I completed the next three levels. The fifth level was called "A Fish out of Water", in it the last portal we took deposited us in to some sort of desert type battle zone. The team set off through the canyon together, but when I drove the Buster through a boulder I got separated from my cohorts when the rubble trapped me in a tunnel. :? I raced along, jumping over a pit that contained some sort of Sarlacc looking creature, afterwards I came to an open area where Sever in his Water Slaughter showed up. He sicked some rock sharks on me, which I in turn destroyed, then took off after Sever. I eventually came to this massive skull and drove right in to it, inside I found Zoom on his Chopper, trapped in an energy cage! I broke the cage's tethers and released Zoom, then took control of him. We raced away, with me following the Buster through some caves, eventually rejoining the rest of the team. We set off as a group after Sever and caught up to him, taking his battle key and racing to the next portal. Thus began level six, called "This Looks Familiar . . .". Going through this last portal we entered a battle zone that looked all too familiar. :idea: Suddenly Kalus showed up and stole the five battle keys we'd worked so hard to collect! :x We took off through the battle zone and eventually found Kalus, he was fiddling with some device, attempting to use the keys along with it. Using Reverb I tried to engage Kalus, chasing him through an area of extreme danger, featuring these drills shooting out of both the walls and ground. I eventually got a hold of him and laid the smackdown, taking his battle key. I caught up with the rest of the group, we put Kalus' key in the device he was fiddling with earlier and it opened up a portal. The last level I've been able to get at so far was "Ice Cold Overdrive". Back in another icy battle zone we took off through some nearby caverns, eventually running in to a Sark ambush led by Zug. :| We destroyed many Zurk, afterwards picking up a signal on the battle key. We took off down a system of tunnels and exited in an area that featured a set of old ruins. Waiting for us were more Zurk, as well as Zug himself! We took them all down and that is when Zemerik showed himself, taking off with the key like a rat. Controlling Vert I chased the punk and hunted him down like the vermin he is! :twisted: Taking the key and getting back to the others we used the key in that device again and opened up the next portal. Just a few levels to go!
And finally, below should be the conclusion to the blog posts that I started earlier this morning . . .
Near the end of our holidays I finished reading a book called Magyk, the first book of the seven installment Septimus Heap series, penned by Angie Sage. :o This story takes place in a strange land where wizards are commonplace, and the ExtraOrdinary Wizard rules over all other wizards, but in a good way (usually). Tragedy strikes when the wife of a regular wizard named Silas Heap gives birth to their seventh son, Septimus, but the midwife pronounces him dead not long after delivery. :cry: That same night (a night that would also see the assassination of the Queen) while Silas is out in the woods, he stumbles upon an abandoned baby girl who he takes home to his wife Sarah, and they integrate her in to their family no questions asked, naming her Jenna. Fast forward many years later, when Jenna is a little girl, and strange things start happening. The local authorities start acting more belligerently, harassing their citizens and strengthening local laws. Eventually the truth comes out that Jenna is actually the daughter of the former queen, and that an evil wizard who had previously been banned, DomDaniel, has put all of these events in motion in an effort to take over the kingdom and regain his previous post as ExtraOrdinary Wizard. :? All this means that the Heap family, along with the current ExtraOrdinary Wizard Marcia Overstrand, must get out of the kingdom fast and avoid DomDaniel's efforts to kill or capture them. During their journey they pick up a young boy who has a secret identity even he doesn't know about, but it may end up being their salvation. :question: This book also includes a short story called The Darke Toad, which takes place about 6 months after the events of Magyk. It chronicles a small adventure Marcia and the mystery boy (who becomes her apprentice) partake in, as well as Simon Heap's (the Heap's eldest son) experiences in turning bad and becoming a dark wizard. :x I loved this book, so richly imagined and surprises around every corner. This story was long too, I can't wait to see how deep it goes as there are six more books to read and they all look at least as big as this first one. Crazy!!
The other exciting thing we did during our time off is upgrade our internet service, which in turn allowed us to finally join Netflix! :P The very first thing we watched, James and I, was the Lego Atlantis movie, which is about as long as a regular half hour TV show. It takes place in the universe of the Lego Atlantis toy line, chronicling the adventures of a young professor and adventurer named Samantha Rhodes. She has joined the crew of the salvage sub Neptune Carrier, but she secretly has a hidden agenda. For Samantha has found an artifact she believes to be a map to the fabled lost city of Atlantis, and she is dead set on finding it. However, when she reveals this fact to the rest of the crew, including captain Ace Speedman, scientist Jeff Fisher, and diver extraordinaire Lance Spears, they all want nothing to do with her wild goose chase. :roll: They don't have long to discuss the matter before a giant crab attacks their sub and throws them down in to the depths. With the Neptune damaged they are forced to ply the ocean in smaller personal vehicles, and they decide to humour Dr. Rhodes as they really have no other choice. :P When the team begins to find what appear to be ancient keys to Atlantis, as well as have to fend off crazy sea creatures like manta warriors, a massive shark, a giant squid, and some shark warriors, they feel like they may just be on to something. The team forges on and eventually stumble upon what appears to be the gate to Atlantis . . . but just what may lie on the other side? This was a great Lego adventure, short and sweet like the Star Wars movies and ram packed full of action. Plus I love underwater content, so this whole story taking place beneath the sea made it even more entertaining for me. Very cool.
Mrs. darthcobain17's tastes were a little different however, so we ended up watching the entire first season of the Netflix original series called Orange is the New Black. :question: In this series Piper Chapman, a thirty something living in New York with her fiancé Larry Bloom, is forced to spend 15 months in prison for a cash smuggling job she performed for her former drug running girlfriend a decade ago. :shock: Piper and Larry have the best of intentions about staying together, communicating, and helping each other through their long layoff, but when the moment actually comes for her to be incarcerated, shit gets real quite fast. Not only does Piper miss Larry, but the snobby white girl has to try and fit in with a bunch of seasoned prison veterans, not many of whom take kindly to her arrival. :? Making matters worse is the fact that her ex-girlfriend Alex is also in the clink, adding more drama to the situation!! However, as life goes on inside Litchfield prison Piper makes some errors, but she learns from them, gains atonement from her prison mates, and even begins to gain respect from a lot of them. But there are many different cliques, a lot of whom don't get along with each other, including some of the prison guards. With her relationship with Larry crumbling, and the violence and drama inside prison heightening, Piper just doesn't know if she'll be able to hold it together. :cry: This is a really cool series, so funny but depressing all at the same time. It deals with many different issues such as racism, sexuality, violence, addiction, and the list goes on! The acting is amazing, a lot of these actresses (it's a women's prison so it's mainly a female cast) really get in to their roles and make the show very entertaining and exciting, I especially like Crazy Eyes!! :lol: And it's kind of cool how each episode delves in to the back story of one of the main characters, giving you an idea of what their life used to be like and how they ended up where they are. I can't wait for the second season, especially seeing as how the first season ended!
Last weekend James and I wrapped up watching the first season of Lego Ninjago on DVD. :lol: This series starts off with a character named Sensei Wu in charge of his Spinjitzu team's training and maturation in to an elite fighting unit. For Sensei Wu has just defeated his evil brother, Lord Garmadon in combat, banishing him to another dimension. It is up to this ninja team, which consists of Kai, Jay, Zane, Cole, and Kai's sister, Nya, to protect the golden weapons of power and maintain peace in Ninjago. It's not long though before a storm blows in. :? For Lloyd Garmadon, the young son of Lord Garmadon, is seeking to follow in his father's footsteps and is set begin a reign of terror in Ninjago. His grand plan is to open up the five sealed underground chambers that contain tribes of various snake creatures called the "Serpentine". :shock: Once he manages to do so the Ninjago team is kept busy trying to prevent the Serpentine from awakening the Great Devourer, a massive snake that seeks to consume all of Ninjago, and so happens to be the snake that when it bit Lord Garmadon many years ago, was responsible for turning him evil. :evil: Eventually, with Lloyd Garmadon on their side and his future as the green ninja uncovered, the Ninjago team will face down the Great Devourer . . . but do they have enough firepower to win a seemingly impossible battle? This is a great show, so well animated and consistent to the Lego brand. Plus it's chalk full of action and humour! :P James and I both loved it and can't wait to watch the second season.
Last weekend I also finished reading the third book in The Hunchback Assignments series, called Empire of Ruins. :D When Mr. Socrates and his Permanent Association get wind of famous explorer Alexander King coming out of the Australian rainforest seemingly having gone crazy, a long standing wild rumour is that much closer to being confirmed. An artifact called "The God Face" has been thought to exist deep in this wilderness, an object that makes anybody who gazes upon it go completely insane. :o Thinking this would be a great weapon to be utilized by the British Empire, Mr. Socrates assigns Modo and Octavia their third assignment together, to travel to Queensland, Australia and bring this artifact back. However, it is such an important mission that Mr. Socrates, Tharpa, and even Mrs. Finchley will be joining them. :lol: Upon arrival in the land down under all seems well, until they get close to the temple they seek in their hot air balloon . . . for that is when the Clockwork Guild swoops in and attacks! Although our explorers eventually escape, they do so only after Modo plummets out of the balloon down to the forest below. :shock: Miraculously surviving the fall Modo is engaged by a local tribe known as the "Rain People". They idolize Modo, for his disfigurements make him look just like the God Face, the deity these savages just so happen to honour. Moving along and eventually meeting back up with his comrades, a plan is hatched to avoid Ms. Hakkandottir and her Clockwork Guild, snatch the God Face, and get the hell out of dodge, but not before Modo and Mr. Socrates have a serious clash about the methods involved. :| As the mission unfolds all turns out well for the most part, but the Rain People take the God Face in to their tribe's possession instead of Mr. Socrates taking it back to Britain. But after discovering their head base burnt to cinders when they return home, the futures of these members of the Permanent Association are hanging somewhat in limbo. :cry: This was a great story, just like the first two installments, only this one got a lot more gritty. Modo's relationship with Mr. Socrates hit a major snag, and his romantic feelings towards Octavia continue to war against his own self-loathing regarding his gruesome appearance. Finding a tribe of savages who were not disgusted by his appearance but actually celebrated it sure got Modo's mind to racing . . . poor guy. Bring on the fourth book!
The last few weeks I've been listening to the latest release from The Tragically Hip, called Now for Plan A. :cool: The Hip are a Canadian band, from Kingston, Ontario and have been around since the early/mid 1980's. Now for Plan A (2012) is their thirteenth studio release. In many if not most Canadians of my generation's minds, the Hip are arguably considered one of the best, if not the best, Canadian bands ever. :D They would probably be classified as rock or alternative rock, but what makes them so different is the fact that they indeed sound so Canadian. I'm not even sure what us Canadians are supposed to sound like, but whatever it is, the Hip are it. :lol: And it's not only the fact than many of their songs have Canadian content that only us Canucks would clue in to, but they have their own very unique and distinct sound that I've come to associate with this great land of ours. This album is so Canadian that the very first peek we got of the lead single debuted on the opening night of Hockey Night in Canada last year. Booya!! :twisted: Now for Plan A is a little less aggressive than their earlier works, but at the same time still rocks pretty hard. My favourite tracks on it include "At Transformation", "Man Machine Poem", "The Lookahead", "About This Map", "Take Forever" & "Goodnight Attawapiskat". Pretty awesome!
I've also been listening to the most current release from another Canadian band, the Synthetica album by Metric. :D Synthetica is the band's fifth studio release, which came out in 2012. What I'm really starting to like about Metric is their consistency, you know exactly what to expect on each album, and that is what you get. I find that a lot of bands over the course of music history have thought they were getting a bit boring and predictable, so they strive for a "change in direction". The end result is a bunch of crappy albums from a once great outfit, all because they were too afraid of getting stale or something. :roll: Well, in my mind the great bands are the ones who don't let this sort of propaganda get to them. They're good at what they do, they know it, and they continue to do it until they can do it no longer. Just look at AC/DC, they keep on doing it like the Energizer Bunny!! :twisted: For Metric it's an aggressive blend of rock 'n roll and electronica, with open ended lyrics that could be interpreted in many different ways. Although the band does come out with a few slower numbers here and there, the pace is usually pushed pretty hard. :cool: And that is exactly what you will find on Synthetica, just like we got with the album before it, Fantasies. My favourite tracks on this release include "Artificial Nocturne", "Youth Without Youth", "Lost Kitten", "Synthetica" & "The Wanderlust".