Disney World Day One: Highways From Hell

I guess I can say a lot for myself. I’ve been to Disney World twice before I reached the 18th year of my life. It’s a lot more than most people can say about the same topic, even if there are a few who’ve been there more. Other than that, though, I haven’t really accomplished much. But this isn’t about how I’ve done nothing noteworthy with my life up until now, it’s about my second trip to Disney World. So I guess I’d better start on THAT then.

It all started way back in January, when I caught wind that my aunt and uncle (who had taken me on my first visit to the Disney World) were going to take my brothers there in April, since they hadn’t been on the first trip. My parents were feeling bad for me, so they decided that they’d spring to send me if I saved a couple hundred bucks and pitched in. With an offer like that, there was no way to refuse. Only I had no steady income, so I was lucky to have a nice little nest egg saved away. But that wasn’t enough, and I still owe my parents a little coinage. Nothing big though, I’ll just work it off like one of those cartoon characters who forgets their wallet when they go to a restaurant and has to clean dishes to pay the bill.

So about a month later we went over to their house, where my bros were informed of the good news. Only there was a surprise twist for everyone. Instead of my aunt and uncle taking the four of us, they were just going to let my parents go instead! So now the whole family (except me… how did that happen?) gets a free trip to Orlando, Florida to bask in the sun and experience the wonder that is Disney World. I guess there’s something to be said for having siblings. For my mom having siblings, anyway. Rich siblings.

Fast forward two months. We spend the whole weekend doing a whole bunch of random crap, and completely neglect the fact that we need to prepare to go on vacation for a week. So Monday rolls around and we start toying with the idea of packing. Tuesday comes, and everyone is packing all evening and night. I carefully pack more than enough clothes to last me the week, not adding in the washing machine factor. My suitcase is almost stuffed, and this will become a key factor near the end, so remember that. Nobody really gets any sleep, and before anyone realizes it, it’s three o’ clock Wednesday morning, and we have to be at the airport by 4:30

We’re totally packed, confident that we have everything, and are waiting for our rides. Both sets of my grandparents came to take us to the airport since there are so many of us and so much luggage to go along. Now, it’s about 3:15, and my parents expect that we’re barely going to make it. Problem is, they forgot to factor in the lack of traffic in the middle of the night. So I’m perfectly confident that we’ll be on time. It might have been my keen intuition, it might have been the lack of sleep, but I wasn’t nearly as in a rush as everyone else. So I took a picture of myself just before I stepped out the door. And because I was the main photographer, this is one of the very few pictures with me in it.

Ugh… My neck seems to have rolled horribly. Oh well. It’s not like that’s how it is all the time. Keeping on track, I hopped in the van and popped on my shades. My grandpa remarked that it was too early to be taking flash pictures, and nobody commented on the sunglasses at night thing, because that’s the kind of thing I do. My family knows me well enough to not bother asking questions when I do something strange. So as I so cockily predicted, we made it to the airport with ample time to spare. Enough time, in fact, to enjoy a Tim Horton’s coffee. Well, the coffee drinkers did, that is. Me, I just complained that we had to wait half an hour. And it was only going to get worse from there.

We unpacked all the stuffs and moved them inside. After waiting in line for a good half hour, we waved bye bye to the grandparents and moved onto the customs. Now I’m pretty sure that all those people who claim that customs is really harsh are all exaggerating, if just a little bit. All I had to do was put all my crap in a bucket so they could scan it. Then we sat around and waited for the plane to get ready. This took another half hour at least. Finally, we were aboard the plane. And waiting. Again. Only a short wait this time, and after the captain gave the OK, I busied myself in my GameBoy for the flight.

There were two major problems with this flight. One, was that my brothers had never been on a plane before, so they got dibbs on the window seats. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but watching out the window of a plane is strangely entrancing. Secondly, due to the stupid part of the population who have allergies (or was it idiots who choked on them? I’m not sure), I received no airplane peanuts. Instead, I was offered a granola bar and orange juice, which I grudgingly accepted, cause I’d had no breakfast. The granola bar was so-so, but whatever kind of orange juice they’re serving, it must be squeezed from the oranges of Eden, cause it was the best freaking OJ I’d ever tasted. After 45 minutes or so of playing Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, the captain said to turn off electronics and we landed.

Our first stop was the Minneapolis airport, where we would transfer onto our flight to Orlando. Since we had 2 whole hours to waste, we stopped in at one of the local McDonald’ses. I’ve gotten tired of hotcakes over the years, so I did something completely out of character and got m’self a McGriddle. Now I’ve read the review on X-E, and I know you can see yourself getting unhealthier as you eat it, but I wanted one, dagnabbit. I tried the eggs and bacon variety, and for someone who doesn’t like eggs, I thought it was pretty damn good. Also noteworthy was a sign for the McRib, which instantly reminded me of the “Ribwich” episode of the Simpsons. And if you think a whole paragraph about an airport McDonald’s is bad, just you wait. There’s a big surprise in the near future.

After that, we wandered the monstrously huge airport in hopes that we’d make it to our gate before takeoff. Yes, the Minneapolis airport is that huge. We did make it, and with a good hour to spare too. Fortunately for us, I have a special ability that lets me figure out where I need to go by reading signs that tell me which way to go. So we sat down, I played more Castlevania while listening to some sweet OC Remix tunes, and the time ticked by. It was getting boring, so we formed two groups; one which would sit and wait due to laziness, and one which would adventure in search of cool stuff to look at and/or buy. Surprisingly, I was in the latter.

So we walked down one hall, and then realized that there was nothing interesting to be seen in an airport other than the excess of “The Daily News” stores and went back to sit down. On the way back, I was distracted by a vending machine that had on display two types of bagged potato product: Potato Skins and Fritos. Now I’ve heard of Fritos, and they might be from the same guys who make Lays, and that was even more mind boggling, because there were Lays in the machine as well. I had no change on me, so I wasn’t able to find out. I guess it’ll be a mystery to me forever. As for the Potato Skins, I don’t know what’s going on there, but the bag says “T.G.I. Friday’s”, so I’ll just assume the worst.

Eventually we got on the plane and started to fly away. This time, I got the window seat, as evidenced by the picture above. If you’ve never seen the top of clouds, there you go. Look remarkably like the bottoms of clouds, don’t they? Anywho, this flight was going to be about three hours long. It was a good thing that I brought a lot of stuff to do. I popped on the ol’ headphones and booted up the GameBoy Advance SP. Things were good until I got to Death (still playing AoS, of course). Now he wasn’t much of a pain in Normal mode, but on Hard, he gives you quite a bit of trouble. So that got annoying and I gave up.

The “flight attendant” came around eventually, and offered not a granola bar, but a bag of pretzels. These were a bit closer to peanuts, but still not the same. It would have been okay had they been good pretzels, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: airline pretzels suck. And that’s all there is to it. The OJ was the same as on the prior flight, and I enjoyed it muchly. Now you may be wondering why exactly I took a picture of my “lunch”. Well, on the first trip to Disney World, I took several pictures of my food, and it had turned into a running in-joke with my family. So of course, before I left, I was reminded on several occasions to take pictures of my food. Sadly, this is one of only two I remembered to snap.

After I had become bored with Castlevania, I moved onto MegaMan Battle Network 2, and did a little bit of NetBattling with my brother. See, there are these secret battle chips hidden in the game, and the only way to get them is to play against a friend. And of course, to make it a bit harder, they show up randomly. That’s the bad part. We played over 100 battles and only managed to get four out of ten of these secret chips. BN3 had the same problem, but there was only one secret chip per version. And I’m delighted to hear that BN4 supposedly has none of these horrible things. On the upside, that did waste about an hour and a half, so it wasted a good amount of time.

Now I’m convinced that we were riding in some sort of Transformer, mostly because it’s a funny thought, but also because the wings kept changing shape. Now I know that they do that for a reason, but it’s a lot funnier if I pretend that I don’t. Just look at this shot compared to that other wing shot and tell me that there is no huge difference. …Ah, this is really a waste. It’s not nearly as funny in writing as it is in person.

After the lengthy GameBoy session, we cleared the bunch of clouds, and I watched the scenery go by as we slowly got closer to our destination. There are a lot of things that you can see from up in the sky, and one of those just happened to be a building shaped like and S! And not just any S at that. Specifically, it is shaped much like the S in the Metroid symbol. I thought this to be odd and worthy of writing about, so I took a picture of it and circled it in red because without the circle it’s kinda hard to see. Take it as you will, but I think that it’s some sort of conspiracy. Conspiracy of what? I don’t know, that’s why it’s a conspiracy.

After a short nap and some more window-watching, the plane finally arrived. We got out and were astounded by what we had to travel to get to our baggage. See, the Orlando Airport is divided into two buildings; one where you board and get off the planes, and one where you enter/leave the place, pick up your rental vehicle, and deposit/claim baggage. These buildings are amply far away from each other, and to travel between them, you get to ride a monorail. And it’s not just any monorail. It looks like it came straight out of some futuristic movie or something. That’s about it. If you failed to be impressed, you need to see it to get the full effect. Really cool monorail.

So we rode that, picked up our luggage, and went to pick up our vehicle. Only problem was, out of all the vehicle rental dealies, we got the one with the longest line. Talk about getting the shaft. So after about another half hour, we were finally on our way to our hotel.

This in itself proved to be an even bigger problem. Something had gone askew and neither my mom nor dad could figure out where we were supposed to go, even though they had two maps, one specifically printed off the internet to tell us where to go. After we’d finally collected our bearings and figured out where we were (this took almost an hour), we scanned the map to find out where our hotel was. Now there were two possibilities; either our hotel was the only one not on the map, or we were headed somewhere that didn’t actually exist. To our relief, we found the place after driving all over town all day. And what a town it was. There was so much crap there that you could be there a month and not see everything. As I was already aware, the same would apply to Disney World itself.

This is where we stayed, the Marriott Residence Inn. It was a nice place, and it seemed to be relatively new as well. Trust me when I say that this picture doesn’t show even half the place. The place had everything I could ask for; free breakfast buffet, an arcade room, full cable TV, and an internet-ready PC. I know I didn’t make any posts during the trip despite having the tools to do so, and I can justify that. Every time I went to try to get on the PC, there were some stupid teenage girls IMing it up, even though there was a framed sign right next to the thing that said, and I quote “For business purposes only. No chatting, please.” As useful as it is, I hate instant messaging. It just causes me to have less access to computers. Scratch that, I hate kids who use computers only for chatting, as they are most likely morons who know little more than how to use their P2P and IM programs, and don’t deserve to be allowed to use computers.


Here are the pictures of the room that we stayed in, which is actually five rooms. One main room, with kitchen and lounge areas, two bedrooms, and two bathrooms. This is quite possibly the fanciest place I’ve ever stayed, so I was impressed to say the least. I, of course, stayed on the couch-bed. I always choose the couch-bed over one of the real beds. Why? I can’t explain it, but I prefer the humbleness of it all. Oh, and there were three TVs, one in each main room, so everyone could watch what they wanted all weekend. My brothers’ was seemingly stuck on MTV, because I don’t think it ever changed. My parents did their thing, with the reality crap, and me, well I was captivated by a lot of the fancy American channels.

For most of the week, my tube was set to the Cartoon Network or the WB, and changing only to watch a little hockey and Big Daddy, which, if you haven’t seen it, is a great movie. For the first couple days though, it was set to this one channel which was constantly looping this one promo for Disney World about the seven best attractions there. Now why would I watch this channel endlessly when I have trouble making it through a half-hour sitcom? Simple answer there: hot host. Seriously. It’s not exactly the most dignified reason, but it’s the only reason I watched the thing even once.

Ooh! Here’s a good one. Check that out! It’s a silver and green fire hydrant, and not some kind of prop either. All of the hydrants were these funky colours. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m always amazed by fire hydrants painted colours different than red and black/yellow. The red hydrant is the stereotype, and stuff like that is always constant. Why do places change the world-known colours? It’s just crazy, that’s what it is.

By the time we were ready to get a move on, it was already seven or later, so we didn’t have a whole lot of time to adventure, but there were two must-see stops on our short first-day tour of Orlando. The first we had previously seen on the food channel: the world’s biggest McDonald’s. I told you it was only going to get worse. And it gets even worse than that, too. This place was HUGE. I’m sure everyone’s been to a Chuck-E-Cheese sometime in their life. Well this place was at least twice as big. It had 2 floors, tons of games, play areas, and decorations, and the most shocking part was that along side the regular McD’s fare was real food. Gourmet crap, pizza, real sandwiches, seafood, salads, and even a dessert bar with waffle cones! This place had EVERYTHING.

In fact, it was so big that I’m going to write a full article about it. It was probably the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen, and I was ready to go home afterwards. It was like a whole vacation spot in itself. Let me say this, if you ever go to the States for a trip and you don’t know where to go, head straight to Orlando and check this place out. It will absolutely blow your mind. But enough gabbing on about how great the place was, I was damn hungry by that time. I usually have an equal of four meals a day, and I had had less than one during this whole day, so I needed a big meal. Four double cheeseburgers with super-sized fries and drink hit the spot in a way I didn’t think McDonald’s could. The only repercussions were that the pipes were blocked up for three or four days afterwards.

On the way out, I picked up a cone of the ice cream variety and we started out to our second location: the legendary 24-hour Wal-Mart. And we were lucky that it was open 24 hours, cause it was at least nine by the time we left. Finding it wasn’t too much trouble, since we got some advice from some friendly locals and were on our way in no time.

As you can see, we did get there, even though everyone who we told about it said we’d not have enough time to make it there. Oh we made it there alright, and at least two other times during the week as well. We’re just one of those families who will eat at McDonald’s twice in a day and find time to visit Wal-Mart three times while on a weeklong vacation to Disney World. Now is when you get to feel a lot better about your own family, unless they would do the same.

But this Wal-Mart wasn’t only just open 24 hours a day, it was also a Super Wal-Mart. It was huge in comparaison to any other Wal-Mart I’d ever seen, even that one Bizzarro Wal-Mart (That was on a completely different adventure. I fell asleep while in the van on a trip to hockey one day, and woke up to enter a Wal-Mart that was the exact opposite of the local store.). So of course, it had a hell of a lot more crap in it, but it also had an entire grocery store in it. The only thing wrong with it was that the electronics section was shamefully small and poorly stocked. It was less than half the size or my local Wal-Mart’s electronics section, and just slightly bigger than most Electronics Boutiques (That I’ve seen, anyway).

After stocking up on root beer, juice, foreign cereals, and various other foodstuffs, we left the giant store and headed home for the night. All in all, it had been quite a day, and it was still only the first of eight. We all knew that it was going to be a very busy and fun week, and that we had plenty of walking and a lot more waiting ahead of us. At least the weather down in Florida is a lot better than it is up here in crusty old Winnipeg. And the scenery too, the grass was a brilliant shade of green, the palm trees were everywhere, and most notably, there were eye-catching monuments of buildings everywhere. Among the most notable of those buildings were an upside-down museum thing, a huge inverted metal pyramid (the Hard Rock Vault), and one big freaking shoe on top of a closed-down sporting goods store.

After we got home, I ate some more, watched a little TV, audited my pictures and went to sleep after a rousing round of Ms. Pac-Man. So ends my tale for now, but be sure to tune in for part two of this extraordinary adventure, where we make our first stop at the Magic Kingdom, visit Wal-Mart for the second time, and discover a giant outlet mall where dreams come true.

2004’s Easter Egg-stravaganza!

It’s been Easter again. Last year I did that big Egg-stravaganza thing, but this year it’s just a little photo collection. But why have I gone all half-assed? For one, there wasn’t really enough to make a real article out of, and none is really as interesting as that mystery chocolate was. Secondly, it’s more or less that same thing as last year, but with more of the “random stuff” than things that stand out. Finally, I’m just too friggin’ lazy to even try to pump that many words out when it’s not meant to be done. And finally for real this time, I can’t put together a second good intro for an article about the same thing as another. Not that my intros are all that great, but damned if I’m gonna do it.
To make up for the relatively small amount of text, you’ll notice that I make the font a lot bigger. Now it looks like something Maddox wrote! Hooray. But I have to get this ball rolling, so without any further ado, we shall plunge right into the second and last of my Easter-themed articles!

First off we have the Peeps Bunnies. Now I wasn’t a huge Peeps fan before, as you may recall, but this is stupid. Go back to the birds. Sure it’s the same thing, but at least make the damn things white or some other bunny colour. Pink is not a colour that I like to be associated with. When I use Peach in Super Smash Bros Melee, I always switch to the white costume. When using Zelda, I’m always Sheik. I don’t like pink. Peeps were created yellow and should stay yellow. I refused to read a paper we got in math class because it was pink. Boo, Peeps, boo.

Next thing I took a picture of is the marshmallow bunnies. More pink here, but an acceptable level of such. As you can see, there are only four bunnies in the picture. There were more, but they were communists, so I was forced to eat them. I think that these bunnies are much better than the Peeps Bunnies. Peeps just aren’t that good. And don’t you try to tell me different, because you know that I’m right. Why Peeps have so many fans is way beyond my comprehension.

Another Reese egg came around this year. I’m not sure what last year’s Reese egg tasted like, but I’m pretty sure that this one was worse. It tastes pretty bad to tell the truth. Reese should stick to the tried-and-true cups and give up trying to break into the egg market. They’re failing pretty bad there.

A box of Smarties. Gee, there are really interesting. The only thing I can say about ’em is that they’re chocolate flavoured and Easter coloured. They’re Smarties for God’s sake. Shut up.

Aaaah, the Cadbury Creme Eggs. Possibly the greatest delicacy of the Easter time. And that’s the saddest part. I just don’t seem to like these guys as much as I used to. What’s happening to me? Why do I not like junk foods that I once would kill for? Oh well, three Creme Eggs are better than one, so down the hatch they go. Hm. Word is an idiot. It keeps correcting “Creme” to “Crème”. Stupid computers. Wow I’m angry today. Why that is, I don’t know, as nothing has happened to me lately to justify said anger. Oh well.

Mmmm Mini Eggs. Now these things I’ll never not like. That candy coating… and the delicious chocolatey center… Oh wan I wish I could be eating them again right now. But again, there really isn’t much I can say about these. Other than their deliciousness, they’re pretty boring. Even the package is kinda lackluster.

Chocolate eggs. If you want me to say any more about ’em, fark you.


And this is the fantastic centerpiece of my chocolate empire. Or it was before it got eaten. You can’t quite tell, but it’s shaped vaguely like Homer. I was quite happy to receive a giant character chocolate, but then I realized why I hadn’t gotten one for so many years; the chocolate is of rather low quality, regardless of what the packaging claims. So it was a bit of a disappointment, but it’s a good box for putting stuff in. It’s even got a cool viewing window.

In an odd, ironic twist, my parents gave me a toothbrush. It makes sense, what with all that chocolate is gonna kill my teeth. Anywho, it’s one of those fancy-ass “spin brushes”, and I have no friggin’ idea how to use the thing. I can’t help it, I was raised on the normal toothbrush. So I’m going to have to get used to this behemoth… or just take out the batteries.

Last time I checked, the holiday was Easter, not Christmas. I’m grateful and all, but I’m as surprised as you are that I got something so expensive for such a low-level holiday. I guess it kind of explains the smaller amount of candy though. In any case, it saves me $60, so I won’t complain. I know you’re all kinda spooked that I’d want a Pokémon game, but that would mean you don’t know me too well. I like the Pokémon games. Or at least Blue anyway. This is the first Pokémon game I’ve been able to truly enjoy since the Yellow version came out.

And it’s a lot different from other Pokémon games too. It’s a lot more evil than all the other games, and that almost makes it okay for someone my age to be playing. I just look at this guy here. He is a total badass. Not only is he buffed up, but he’s got a necklace of Poké Balls. I bet he stole ’em all, killed the creatures inside, ate them, and painted his face and dyed his hair with their blood. Nope, no characters in the other games would even think of pulling shit like that. Plus there are no random battles, so I love it. Random battles are the bane of my existence.
And that’s that. It’s over 1000 words, so it’s long enough to qualify as a proper mini-review, so you can’t complain about nuttin’. This Easter was kinda boring, and rather expensive, but it turned out pretty well. I played Pokémon Colosseum for 5 hours straight yesterday. There really isn’t any appropriate way to end this one. So I’ll just end it here. Happy belated Easter, heathen bastards.

The Good Stuff:
  • Tons of chocolate
  • I got a non-bargain bin console game? Holy shit!
  • Everyone loves Cadbury
  • The Bad Stuff:
  • Chocolate gets annoying after you eat so much
  • Peeps bunnies are less fun to eat than the original Peeps
  • Am I rating a holiday? Materialism on a new level…
  • Waldo + Bust-A-Move – A Double ROM Review!

    As a gamer, I’ve seen a lot of crap. And by a lot, I mean tons. There are literally hundreds of craptacular games out there. Sure, the Playstation and PS2 have tons and tons of titles, but over 90% of those games are utter bullhock. Not to say that Nintendo systems are without their stinkers. Just looking back on the SNES and thinking of bad games for it makes me cringe. Heck, even the GameBoy Advance is a victim of this virulent affliction. Anyone can see they suck, but people must be buying them, cause they keep getting made.

    On the other hand, we’ve got some real gems too. Speaking as a fanboy, almost every one of Nintendo’s games have been of excellent quality. Sure, production values are sometimes sold short, but they’re almost always fun. And it’s not only Nintendo, of course. A lot of other companies have very nice track records, like Namco, Squaresoft and Enix (which are now conveniently rolled up into one), and Rare. It’s companies like this that make people keep coming back for more. If it were only crappy whored-out movie/TV licenses (Matrix and Simpsons, lookin’ at you), video games would have been dead long ago.

    So if I’m talking about both sides of the spectrum in one article, what the Hell is going on? Well, simply put, I’m reviewing one crappy game and one excellent game. Why do both at once? Well not only am I trying to make some kind of deeper meaning or something only an English professor could figure out, but neither game that I chose to review could possibly fill an entire properly-sized article. So now that you know what’s going on, I’ll start with the bad news.

    Yes, that’s right. I’m going to subject you to something so bad that you’re bound to appreciate the better of the two. Now that’s a clever little idea right there, isn’t it? Glad I thought of it while typing that last sentence. Yes. Yes… But anywho, you remember Waldo, right? That guy who everyone was consistently trying to find? Ha, I can see that look on your face right now. I love that “Oh God no! They made a game out of that!?” look. It’s so… je ne sais quoi. But yeah, they made a game out of Waldo.

    Actually, they made at least two games out of him! I remember renting the NES game, and damned if that wasn’t the worst 5 bucks ever spent. Actually, buying the game would constitute as worse, so I guess second worst 5 bucks ever spent will have to do. But it was entirely impossible. As far as I can remember the “maps” were huge and you got very little time and only a small sphere of vision. And if my memory is right, they stupid-fied the SNES version like rap music does to anyone who listens to it.

    After the title screen, we get treated to the difficulty select right away. And let me tell you, you’ll be blown away by this. The difficulty levels in this game are Normal, Expert, and Waldo. Yes, instead of an “easy” level, they put Waldo. And no, it doesn’t just say “Waldo” where “easy” should be, there’s just a big graphic of his head and upper torso. I let curiosity get to me, and dammit, the Waldo level was just the exact same map five times in a row. Who’d have known? And why would they put something so ridiculous in a game? It beats me, but since Waldo was so easy, I’ll try Expert next.

    After I picked the difficulty, I got a choice of four different graphics. A dangerously obese man-thing (anything that fat cannot be classified properly as a man), two guys who looked to be getting drunk [whilst sitting] on magic carpets, a strange pig-like thing with spikes and a hugeass nose, and some guy throwing what looked to be liquid Play-Doh on a robe-sporting man. It decisions like this that make life so difficult. I figured eventually I’d have to see them all, so I took the drunk carpet guys.

    And this is what I got. I don’t know, but I feel as it there’s something wrong with this picture. Oh, maybe it’s that it’s following the exact same stereotypes as the Where’s Waldo books. I’m not exactly sure, but I think they might be in Arabia somewhere. If that’s even a place. I did really bad in geography class. But anywho, you’ll notice that everyone here is coloured. Not only that, but they’re all wearing turbans and sashes, and riding on carpets. And when in the Hell did they invent a country where anyone and everyone was required to be on the rooftops? And why didn’t they ask me to be a part of that country?

    Next I chose the pig face thing, and we move from somewhere in Africa to the medieval times, where everyone has changed from black to white. Where is the equality? I’m already sick of this game and its racist stereotypes. Didn’t the creators of this game ever see that movie Black Knight? But now I’ll direct your attention to some on-screen stuff. Near the bottom, we can see a gray brick. Clicking it gives you 150 points. Somewheres near the middle right side of the pic is a clock, which increases the time you have to find Waldo. And speak of the devil, there he is right beside the magnifying glass! That level sure was a breeze.

    The other two levels are pretty much the exact same things. I should note a couple things about the gameplay here, I guess. Now obviously there’s a time limit, and you can extend it by picking up those clocks. But honestly, you don’t even need the whole first clock to complete a level. The only thing that takes any time at all is finding the other objective, a scroll. They, unlike Waldo, can be hidden quite well, as they’re small and can be fit behind things quite easily. But of course, they rarely are, so each level will take you about 30 seconds, and that’s if you stop to pick everything up.

    One other thing I forgot to mention that influences the game in a big way is the size of the maps. For one, they’re very, very small. Bite-sized, even. And to top it all off, they only scroll horizontally. This may not sound like such a big deal, but considering how big everything is, you’ve got an extremely small zone of probability of where Waldo can be hiding. A zone of probability comparable to that of an electron. And that’s pretty much all there is to it. You scroll around until you see the scroll and Waldo, and you’re done.

    But what would a game be without its bonus levels? I’d be a game without bonus levels. But Waldo’s game has one. Yeah, one… If you manage to find the strange Waldo-dog in a level, you get to fly around on a magic carpet collecting bones. Now you don’t have to be in the magic carpet level to get this bonus, it’s the exact same on every level. Yeah. They went through all the trouble of making four levels, so why not four bonus levels? Maybe then I wouldn’t feel so cheated. Maybe if there were more than 8 people on the staff, they would have put in individual bonus levels. We’ll never know now.

    So if you just so happen to beat all four levels, you get taken to the super-secret fifth level! Woah! Never saw that coming! It’s just the same thing, but with no extra pickups and one tiny little twist. There’s a lot of Waldos here, see, and only one is the right one. That right Waldo just happens to have lost one of his shoes. It’s a long shot, but at least they tried. I’m still not satisfied. And what do you get for finding shoeless Waldo?

    Even Super Mario freaking Brothers had more of an ending than that. The question remains, though, why did I want to get the scrolls back? He’s obviously not going to do anything for me. Hell, he could be evil incarnate for all we know. Maybe the instruction booklet had some kind of story in its pages, but I really doubt that possibility. I bet this game didn’t even have an instruction booklet. You can only use two buttons the entire game, so there’s really nothing anyone needs help to figure out. Even Jessica Simpson could figure this one out. (Okay, the joke was a bit stale, but I couldn’t think of anything else.)

    I think I can sum up the entire review portion into one paragraph here. Graphics were so-so. The animation was at a max two frames switching back and forth. The sound and music wasn’t much better. The music was forgettable and might have been annoying too. The sound may have consisted of a couple beeps and one really bad voice sample that says “Where’s Waldo?” every damn time something happens. Gameplay was boring and simplistic. I finished all three difficulty levels in less that 10 minutes total. If that doesn’t tell you that this game needs a little tuning, what will?

    As a final note, I’d like to just plainly say that The Great Waldo Search sucked. It doesn’t even deserve to be italicized. I’m being kind enough just capitalizing the letters there. It sucked hard. Don’t even download the ROM. You’d be better off doing something productive like taking a dump or making a macaroni statue of Jerry Seinfeld. I guess the only good thing you could possibly say about the game is that the maps are fairly faithful to the books. Other than that, total crap. At this halfway point, I’m at about 1600 words, and the next game will probably yield a shorter review, because lo and behold, it’s a puzzle game. If you want, this would be a great time to go get a snack or something. It’s okay, I’ll wait for you.

    I hope you’re done whatever you chose to do at our little intermission, cause I’m getting back to business now. Waldo was a horrible stain on the tapestry that is the history of video games, but the next game is one of my all-time favorite puzzle games ever: Bust-A-Move! Now the tricky part is going to be making it to the 2500 word mark, because there just isn’t a whole lot you can say about puzzle games. Fortunately, since I love this game so much, I could probably drone on and on about it for quite a while.

    Hooray! Look at the happy little dragons. Incase you didn’t know or are having trouble placing it, they’re the same characters from Bubble Bobble, one of my old NES favorites. Bub and Bob make their grand puzzle debut here, and they do a marvelous job of it too. And as an added little trivia note, the game also comes packaged on every system from arcade machines to the Nintendo 64, and sometimes it’s known as Puzzle Bobble. But I’ll refer to it as Bust-A-Move, because it’s such a catchy phrase. The more you know!

    Because there isn’t a whole lot of screenshot variety in a game like this, I got this great idea that taking a pic of the “modes” screen would be a good idea. Only what am I supposed to say about it? Let’s see what we have here. I’m obviously going to choose the 1P Play, because I’ve got nobody to play against and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna challenge anybody’s record. As for options, I need no options! Though a sound test would be fun…

    Like most people, I don’t know any passwords, so I have to start all the way from Round 1. it’s not so bad, because these easy rounds are great for racking up huge points! It’s a pretty simple game at heart. You start with a bunch of bubbles hanging from the ceiling (Bubble Bobble fans will recognize the little guys trapped in the bubbles). Your job is to shoot bubbles up to pop the one on the roof. You get one randomly coloured bubble at a time, and you have to “line up” three or more bubbles of the same colour to pop them.

    But of course it sounds easy! It is, for the most part. The only thing that gets in your way is the fact that you can get a lot of rubbish bubbles when you need particular colours, building a huge ball of garbage off to a side. And on top of that, you’re racing the clock, as the roof keeps getting lower, and if a bubble ever goes below that line near the bottom, you’re done. If you do manage to clear all the bubbles from the screen, it’s happiness and dancing dragons for you! In conclusion, yes, it is an easy game.

    Now after a couple learning levels, the game spices it up a bit with some different types of special bubbles. In the pic above, you can see a fiery bubble among all of the regular bubbles. If you hit this guy with a bubble, it’ll explode into a big ball of flame and vaporize any bubbles within a small radius of where it once was. This is very useful for clearing out patches of trash bubbles, and lets you complete the round shown above in only three shots.

    There are a couple other types of special bubbles, like the electric bubble pictured above. Shooting this one will send a lightning bolt blazing across the screen, destroying any bubbles that get in its way. It can be even handier than the fiery bubble, especially if it’s at the top of the screen and there’s a clear path towards it. The last special bubble I’ve seen is a watery bubble that lets a flow of water downward, changing the colour of all the bubbles below it to a single colour, making them easy pickin’s.

    Like I said earlier, if you aren’t swift enough in your bubble-busting ways, you’ll get smoked by the torrent of bubbles. The poor little dragon fell over… If that’s not incentive enough to lose, let’s put it this way; when you do lose, all your points go with you. So continuing would put your score back at a measly zero. Unlike some games though, Taito thought ahead and doles out plenty of continues so you can keep going. They aren’t infinite though, so don’t slack off too much.

    I might add that there is one finer point to losing. When you do lose, if you choose to come back, you get an aiming tool that helps a lot. You can’t see it in the pic above because it flashes and I pressed the button at the wrong second. It’s not my fault though, the little dragon was yelling at me to hurry up. But it does take all the guesswork out of the game, so you only get it for one level. After that, you’ll have to rely on your knowledge of simple physics. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t let me take the course because I’m no good at math, so all I can do is hope my aim is true.

    I’m not sure why I love this game, but anyone who’s ever gone to a movie with me can surely back that claim up. If there’s an absence of Metal Slug, you just know I’m gonna be at a Bust-A-Move machine until my quarters run dry or they manage to pry me off the machine because we’ve already missed the previews. I think one of the biggest factors that keeps me coming back is the music. It’s always the same tune over and over, but I love it so. If you need a little idea of how it goes, here’s a link to a remix of the main tune. It’s not quite the same as the original, but I can still put it on loop for hours and not get annoyed.

    To wrap this one up in a single paragraph doesn’t do it justice, but I will anyway. The graphics are colourful and fun, almost giving off a Yoshi’s Island vibe. The music, as I already stated, is very cute and loveable. Sound effects include happy “yay!”s and such from the dragons, and the always fun bubble popping sound. The gameplay is that of a puzzle game: simple, but at the same time complex. Controls are nice and precise, and give you the accuracy you need for tricky shots.

    Overall, I still love this game, and when it gets ported to the Nintendo 20075, I’ll still love it. When I go see whatever movie I deem worthy of seeing 30 years in the future, I’ll still love it, and my accomplices will still have to convince me that the movie is what we came to see. I suggest finding a GBA version, or if (God forbid) that doesn’t actually exist, go for one of the older GB games. If you can’t find one of those, look for the PS2 version. As a last resort, download one of the many ROM versions. Usually I wouldn’t condone such a thing, but some games are just worth breaking copyright law for.

    And that’s the end of this week’s article. I probably shouldn’t say that, because these don’t exactly come weekly, but it’s too late to go back and type in something different. Maybe I should try to do an article a week, or at least bi-monthly. Lately I’ve been doing pretty good, with nine submissions so far this year. If you total what I did last year, that a whole lot of crap in two months. I think that this is one of my best articles in a while, because for at least the first half, I concentrated on not actually reviewing, but picking out little things and making big deals out of them, much like one of my many web-heroes would do.

    So I hope you’ve enjoyed this article. I know the electron thing made all the difference for me. I think it would be a whole lot funnier if I’d actually made that page, but as it stands, very few people will know what I’m talking about or take the time to read the whole thing and try to understand. I also had fun taking the screenshots for Bust-A-Move, and almost forgot that I was trying to write an article and not trying to finish the game. As a final remark, I’d like to say that after writing this, I’m certainly convinced that I should go out and buy Bust-A-Move. I guess it worked. Ooh! And I even managed to finish with a sweet word count of over 3100!

    All night long

    I’ve been playing Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles for about 3 days straight now. Well, not including school time of course. I imagine that statement itself tells you what I think about the game. Heck, I’d be playing it now, but my GameBoy is recharging and I’m too damned lazy to re-hook up the GameCube to my TV. If you saw my setup, you’d understand why. But anywho, I might be putting a little something up in a while, and the comic may be starting sometime in the near future. All I need to do is redraw a few more strips. Demand is getting high, and I just can’t disappoint the fans. Later in the month, I’ll be finishing the 6-pak review, and I’ll be getting another guest article pretty soon. I guess what I’m trying to say, in a roundabout way, is use the forums more. They’re pretty dead as it is, and there’s no reason for that to be.

    ~Ryan out.

    Back in time

    This is the first news post of February. There probably won’t be very many after it. There is gonna be a lot of gaming going on when I get Crystal Chronicles and my Zelda Collector’s Disc, so like I said at the end of last month, don’t expect much for a while after the 10th. 3 days left… I haven’t been looking forward to a game this much since the Wind Waker. I guess I was pretty hyped for Viewtiful Joe, but not so much that I was counting the days. After that period of gaming though… I won’t be getting many games unless I just trash the idea of buying a digital camera, which I don’t want to do. In any case, I might have a mini-review up tomorrow or Monday, and then it’s all up to fate. And that’s it for toady. Have a good night, and the new Astro Boy show isn’t all that good.

    ~Ryan out.


    Ah, January sure was a productive month for me. I finished the first half of my last year of high school, and I did a lot of work on the site. I got more than a week’s worth of vacation, and I preordered Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles and got a free GCN-GBA link cable. I’ve got a few articles lined up, and sadly to say, they’re all video game reviews. I guess I could do the Squirrel Game… but nayforth and such and such. I’ll have at least one done this week, and then I’ll probably be taking a while off when I pick up FF:CC. I know I had another good idea, but I just can’t remember what it was. Maybe a few mini-articles will be on the way as well, it’s hard to say for sure. All I know is that I’m gonna enjoy the fact that Februaury is gonna be a very good month for slacking off. So I’ll see you around, but probably not very much.

    ~Ryan out.

    (Happy b-day to a special girl. You don’t know me yet, but you’ll love me when you do!)

    Guest Article: Yoshi’s Island

    So, I’ve decided to make a review for Ryan. Horrific sentences and hard to understand ideas are in your near future. So, I’ve decided to review Yoshi’s Island; A wonderful game, one of the best games I have ever played. On to the article!

    It’s great when your subject does the work for you, but there’s a little more back story than this. So, as they say in the streets, “This is how it goes down.” Baby Mario and Luigi are on there way to what I assume is their parents house in a stork’s bill. Magikoopa attempts to steal both babies, and fails 50% when Mario falls to what we believe is his doom. Luckily, he falls to Yoshi’s island and onto either, The Yoshi, or a yoshi. To be honest, I’m not sure, it says “It’s a lovely day and Yoshi is taking a walk.” but Yoshi the common noun is capitalized too… Oh screw it, it’s of less importance than the game. We’ll just blame the translators.

    Here we can see the anger of failure. Notice the gaping peanut shaped mouth, and the fists of frustration. If you take a look at those 4 smaller Magikoopa-esqe toadies, these are the only things in the game that can make you fail, other than to fall into one of the holes in the game. To help your confusion, the game play works like this; You have baby Mario on your back for the vast majority of the game, if you get hit, Mario gets enclosed in a bubble, floats away, and you have X seconds to get him back before the red quartet snatch him away. It’s a real pain in the butt, but I really like the idea. It’s a “truly original idea” that even John Nash would be proud of. The goal of the game I guess is to get Mario back to his parents. I really don’t know. All we know is Yoshi is following a map that fell along with the future hero. Heck he could be going to Motocross Madness.

    Alright, now that the back-story has been dealt with, onto the game! Look at this brilliant piece of work, it’s the best opening screen I’ve ever seen. It’s so colourful! This is really where the cartridge’s FX chip really came into play, all the background stuff rotates! It’s really a beautiful thing to see, I could spend hours just watching this. Wow, now that I think back on it, I was 9 when this thing came out, I think a little math will prove my accuracy. 1995-1986=MeBeingRight. There’s a brilliant song playing in the background too, I got this from The Mushroom Kingdom website.

    Yoshi’s Island Title song

    Hey, I never said I was good at the game. Besides, he got behind a wall that takes far more than 10-30 seconds to get to the other side of. One of the things that bothers me the most in this game is Mario’s wailing. I mean, he’s in a bubble, he should be happy that he’s floating around. But enough bad. I think the best part of this game is that it’s chalked full of everything. There’s so many different things in it. Since I’m being a bit vague, I suppose specifics are in order. Let’s take the bosses for example. One boss is a big fat bouncing something or other, and you have to hit him till his pants fall off. it sounds perverse, but he’s just a ball with eyes and feet, and there’s nothing there that the pants could be covering. Another boss is a blob that also bounces, but he tries to shove you into lava. I haven’t really played this since grade 4, so I remember very little, but I believe there’s also frog that eats you, and you have to hit that hanging thing at the back of his throat. There’s so many different things in this game, there are new things every level.

    So, I’m losing interest in writing this, and am going to do the ratings thing

    Graphics: 10/10

    The graphics are mind-boggling. Some of you are saying “but it’s 2D blah blah blah” the thing is, it’s a lot harder to do things in 2D than it is in 3D, with 3D, the graphics engine does all the work, and practically everything is the same. In Yoshi’s Island, there was so much work put into making the different levels/bosses that I can’t even fathom how they did it.

    Sound: 10/10

    I love the music to this game. If you really want to know what I’m talking about, here’s a site with a few Midis people have made.

    The Mushroom
    Kingdom — Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island Midi Page

    Game play: 8/10

    Good, but I find myself in a lot of trouble when Yoshi turns into a mole car… the controls go to hell. Also, shooting could have been much better designed.

    Well, that’s it. This was my first article. It took me an hour to make it… What can I say, loosing interest is what I do best. I strongly recommend getting this game by any means necessary. It’s great.


    Mario Kart: Double Dash!!

    So Nintendo makes a lot of great games, right? Of course they do, I don’t even have to wait for your confirmation. It’s clear from the first sentence that this is gonna be another totally biased review isn’t it? Good, just making sure. I guess that this paragraph has gone to waste, like so many before it, thanks to my unremitting rambling. Ha. Unremitting. And some people say that the thesaurus is a waste. Now I look pretty smart, or at least I think so.

    And now to get back on topic. (Off topic in the first intro paragraph? New record?) I’ve been playing a lot of games lately, and few of them have been suiting my needs wholly. I mean sure, Return of the King is pretty good, and Secret Collect has its moments, but I’ve been looking for something a little more… fantastic. And that’s where my good friends at Nintendo come in.

    I’ve rented two games (that I can remember) in the last two months, and they’ve both been very good to me. The first was Mario Party 5, which was, nay is absolutely astounding. Its single-player modes are much better than those of previous installations, and the multiplayer is possibly even better than Super Smash Bros. Melee. And seeing as how much I love SSBM, that’s a damn good game. But the second is the one I chose to review, and that is Mario Kart: Double Dash!! So now that we’ve got the topic, let’s get to it!

    Here we have the newest, and unquestionably the best of them all. With all of the new things it brings to the table, and the old and improved stuff too, this Mario Kart is the racing game that everyone should be playing. I’m not sure exactly where to start, since I’ve got so much to work with. So I guess I’ll just go ahead and show you the first pic.

    Ah, this is the title screen. But not the title screen you’ll be seeing, as it changes to this one once the game has been completed. But that’s of no importance, seeing as there is much more to the game than the title screen. And now we shall delve into that gamey goodness, starting with the basics of gameplay.

    First thing is the Grand Prix mode. This is the meat of the game, and can be played with one or multiple players. I’m not sure if you can unlock stuff with more than two players, as I haven’t tried it. So the first decision you’ll have to make is which engine size you wish to play with. For your reference, 50cc is easy, 100cc is medium, and 150cc is hard.

    Next you pick your characters. “Characters? With an S?” you ask. Yes, each kart has two characters in it this time around, making for some great multiplayer gameplay. As you can see in the pic above, there are enough players to choose from to rival a fighting game’s roster. Only, when you start, four of them won’t be there. Once you’ve picked your guys, you get to choose a kart to ride in. Kart choices very depending on which characters you chose. My personal favorite team is Luigi and Baby Luigi with the Green Fire kart (which needs to be unlocked). Oh, and one last thing, each “set” of characters has their own special weapon, so choose wisely.

    Next you get to choose which cup you’re going for. Obviously, the Mushroom Cup is the easiest and so on. The last two cups, the Special Cup and the All Cup Tournament, have to be unlocked, just so you know. Personally, my favorite is the All Cup, just because it gives you the chance to race everywhere, and it even randomizes the order in which you race the courses. Otherwise, I think the Mushroom cup, just for the sake of simplicity.

    Now there are a lot of little things you should know before starting, just so that you have an edge. Firstly, at the beginning of a race you can get a speed burst by hitting the A button at the right time. Veterans of any Mario Kart game should know this little trick. Secondly, when drifting you can acquire a small speed boost by tilting the control stick back and forth. Once you see blue sparks, you can let go and zoom away. I was trying to demonstrate this in the pic above, but Bowser jumped in the way just as I clicked the “take photo” button. Damn attention hog.

    The rest of the game is pretty simple, and I don’t think I should have to tell you what to be doing. Anybody who’s played a previous Mario Kart should have no trouble getting used to this one, as it’s the same style of game, and they’re all pretty similar. Of course, there are a couple of new weapons, but they’re all special weapons specific to each set of characters. In the shot above, you can see that Luigi’s got a Fireball, which is his (and Mario’s) special. Some others are just old weapons that are now character-specific. So if you’re looking for a triple-shell, you have to be the Koopa Troopa.

    Now I imagine anyone should be able to win all the gold trophies in the 50cc class, as it is exceedingly easy. Heck, you should be able to do it with perfect 40’s on every cup. If you can’t then I’ll hunt you down and make you play until you can!! Consider that a threat. If you can’t do perfects on the other engine sizes, it’s okay, they’re harder and it’s more acceptable. Even I don’t have all perfects on 150cc. Yet.

    Okay, now we’re gonna start the course summary with, oddly enough, the first course; Luigi Circuit. This is just a plain old rubber band-shaped track. There isn’t a whole lot that makes it special besides the Chain Chomp and the many boosters along the turns. On 100cc and above, the wall in the center of the track is gone, and there are “shortcuts” on the sides, but in this game, shortcuts are rarely any shorter than the long way, and they’re usually more dangerous too. In this case, they do nothing. It’s still an easy course to win though.

    Next up is Peach Beach. This is a very nice beach that looks like it came straight out of Super Mario Sunshine. (Not unlike most of the rest of the game.) It’s got a Pianta statue/fountain, a huge warp pipe, and those damn annoying duck things. They’re way deadlier in this game than they were in SMS, but they’re still pretty easy to dodge. The shortcut in this level requires a Mushroom to use properly, as it forces you to drive through deep water. Now that I think of it, it’s more of a long cut. Just follow the normal track and while you’re at it, ignore the warp pipe unless you’re in 1st.

    This is one of my favorite courses, Baby Park. Though saying that is a bit contradictory, as I hate Nascar racing for being a big loop, just like this course. The difference is that in Mario Kart you’ve got weapons to make the race more fun, and on this course, weapons will make or break you. Since it’s so small and open, there will be a ton of shells and bananas all over the track after the first couple laps. It’s still pretty easy to win if you know how to drift properly, even on 150cc.

    The last race of the Mushroom Cup is the Dry Dry Desert. It’s very much like the Dry Dry Desert in Super Mario 64, as it’s filled with Pokeys and has a rogue tornado wandering around. There are a lot of s curves in this one, and as I’ve said before, drifting is the most important skill to learn. At one point there’s a huge sand pit which is hard to get out of if you get in too far. If you do manage to start falling in, just let yourself get eaten, as struggling will just make your respawn take longer. Most of the Pokeys are off to the sides and won’t pose a problem until the end of the course.

    The Mushroom Bridge is a tricky course, as there are plenty of cars, and 3 almost useless shortcuts. The first is right at the start; you just turn down some stairs and go through a pipe. It’ll only help you if you’re already in 1st. The second goes up a dirt path which slows you down, again being no help at all. The last one is the hardest to do, but actually works quite well if you pull it off. Once you’re coming out of the second tunnel, you can drive up on the bridge supports, which are covered in boosters. The only problem is that it’s very, very thin and you’ll fall off 90% of the time. My recommendation: just race normally, and shoot the Bob-omb cars just after you pass them to give your opponents an explosive surprise.

    The next track is the Mario Circuit. The pic doesn’t show much of the course (like most of them), and it doesn’t show any of the important parts. There is a Chain Chomp like on the Luigi Circuit, plus Goombas and Piranha Plants scattered on the last half of the track. Like most tracks, the only shortcut here involves using a Mushroom to drive off-road. It’s actually a tough course on 150cc, as this is where the AI players start to get good.

    You could see the Daisy Cruiser from Peach beach, and now you get to race on it. While it is just another uninteresting track, the Daisy Cruiser provides a couple opportunities to get ahead of the competition. Firstly, you can go right around the pool instead of taking the long left path. In the boat, tables shift back and forth, and if you’re playing against humans, they might get hit by one. AI players will always swerve around, possibly knocking you into one. Lastly, there’s a hole in the floor at one point, and you can fall in to get shot out to the deck, but it doesn’t really help at all, because the fall slows you down a lot.

    Waluigi Stadium is the best course in the Flower Cup because it’s got a lot of jumps, hazards, and item boxes. It’s a difficult race to get 1st in on 150cc, but it’s still a fun place to race in. There are fire hoops over a couple of the jumps, and if you pass though, you’ll be rewarded with a double-item box. The giant Piranha Plants that re about ¾ of the way through don’t make you spin out, they just make you stop dead in your tracks, so you’re better off getting burnt that hitting one of them.

    The Star Cup’s first track is also the prettiest looking track in the game. Sherbet Land is a snow-covered paradise, and it’s also a lot more deadly than it looks. The Shy Guys will make you spin out if you hit them, and at the end the freezies will freeze and spin you. This is the first course that made me annoyed with the eyes on everything. Trees? Okay. Pyramids? It’s a bit of a stretch, but okay. It’s when the walls have eyes and noses that you start to think that maybe somebody at Nintendo has a drug problem.

    The Mushroom City course is one of my favorites. I’m not sure why, but it is. Like the bridge, there is a lot of other traffic here, most notably the giant Wiggler bus. A neat trick is that if you hit a Mushroom Car, a Mushroom will pop out onto the track! Near the end, there is a small dirt path which you can take if you don’t feel like navigating the traffic anymore. And never, ever drive down the road from where the traffic spawns; it just warps you back to the starting line as if you’d fallen in water.

    I hate Yoshi Circuit. It’s got a lot of hard S turns and the AI is really good at this one. If you get a Mushroom, save it until right near the start where you can boost over a pool of water. It’ll save you a lot of time and you’ll fly past any close opponents. If there is any saving grace about this course, it’s that it’s shaped like a Yoshi. And if you’re interested, there’s a Yoshi helicopter (from Yoshi’s Island) flying around close to the end.

    The final course of the normal cups, DK Mountain, is one of the easiest to win. On any difficulty. After you get shot out of the barrel cannon, it’s just a bunch of cliff to fall down, so don’t bother staying on the track. Then there are some hairpin turns which can be easily taken by pro drifters, and finally a huge pit that even the AIs fall into regularly. The only tricky part is not falling off the bridge when it’s cluttered with objects. Other than that, very, very easy course.

    Once you manage to finish a cup, and get 1st place, you’ll go to the awards ceremony. There you’ll see a bunch of Piantas and Nokis cheering for you while you’re driven around in a huge gold kart by Toadsworth. I really like the ceremony, because it’s got a great Super Mario Sunshine remix/medley kinda thing going on, and it’s just a great piece of music.

    Then you’re presented with a trophy, which get more and more extravagant for each cup. When you get a gold trophy for the first time, you’ll unlock something in the game, such as characters, new play modes, karts and more. I have all the gold trophies, so I’ve unlocked everything and as far as I care, I’ve finished the game. And just in case you don’t trust me, I even took a pic of the records screen.

    See? All golds on the All Cup tournaments. That means I’m the best. Sure, my times aren’t super-good, and I don’t have perfect scores, but I still have all the trophies. I suppose you’re waiting for the actual review, so I’ll get to that. Now.

    First is music. I enjoy most of the music in this game. Some is a little repetitive, but other than that, it works. Most of the songs are remixes from other games, so if you’re a Mario Kart fan, you’ll probably recognize a few of them. The Rainbow Road remix is especially catchy, and suits the last track of the game very well. As for voices, they’re good, but few. Not to say the characters don’t talk a lot, they just don’t say a lot of different things. And of course, the sound effects are just fine.

    The graphics are beautiful, on the whole. Much like several other games, the levels themselves look marvelous, and you can even see a lot of things off in the backgrounds. Once again, Rainbow Road goes above and beyond, providing a track that is great just to look at, with a huge city of lights beneath. The characters are a bit, I dunno, “shiny” on the character select screen, and they’re a bit blocky in-game, especially in the hands area. But since you only see close-ups at the end of a race, it’s not so bad.

    Controls are very solid and easy to learn, just like every other Nintendo game. Steering is never a problem, and drifting is very easy to do and will become one of the key parts of winning the game. It’s easy to learn to play as two characters at once, and if you’ve got a friend playing too, you only have to worry about doing your job.

    The gameplay is clearly where this game shines. It’s a fun game to play, and gets really great when you’ve got 4 or more players going at it. The Grand Prix mode should keep players busy for some tie, because there’s a lot to win, and it’s not exactly a cakewalk. The only gripe I have (and have had since the first Mario Kart) is that you can’t play the battle games against AI. The Bob-omb Blast game is extremely fun, and I rarely get to play because my family is too chicken to play against me. One other smaller problem is that if you don’t have people to play with, it gets kinda boring after you’ve gotten everything.

    Overall, the game is great. Not the best Nintendo racer on the GCN, but it is the only one where you can get eaten by a sarlaac-esque Piranha Plant. If you can look past the little things and the lack of single-player replay value, you’ve got a great game on your hands. The LAN option sounds good, but it requires a lot of stuff that I don’t have, like two broadband adapters and two copies of the game. But despite that, I’m gonna give this game a final mark of A-. I don’t get to play multiplayer a lot, and Kirby’s Air Ride and F-Zero GX don’t need multiplayer to stay interesting. So that’s what I think, and I’m sticking to it. Like always, buy it if you want, but I suggest renting it first.

    And that’s it. That’s my review of Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. Expect to see more reviews up in the future, because I’m starting a new policy of reviewing every game I rent that I really like. Any others will get mini-reviews. I can’t really think of anything else besides what I have ready now, so I’m asking again if anyone would like to write a guest article. I’ll take anything, as long as it’s tasteful. It doesn’t matter how many words or if it’s horrendously boring. Bring content to me!

    Seeing as I said in a news post that I’ve got two articles on the way, you’ve probably deduced that this is one of them. Indeed it is, and the next one should be out soon. It might be a bit shorter than usual, and it’s a nice change from video games too. After that, I think I’ll write something about my new TMNT toys. Really, I just want to show them off and how they’re so much better than the original ones, so I don’t know exactly how I’m gonna do it. So that’s it for today. I’m out.


    The Christmas Gift List of 2003

    It’s that time of year again, Christmas time. Or more accurately, it was that time of year again. The event itself is long done, but the season still lingers and won’t be gone until sometime around the time when school starts again. Our happy little holiday has come and gone, but like every year before, it has left its mark on pretty much everyone. As much as I hate to admit it, Christmas is celebrated by pretty much everyone and anyone, except the Jews. And I’m pretty sure they get a little of the spirit anyway, what with it being everywhere. Christmas is no longer a special holiday for us good little Christians, but an event for everyone. While that’s probably for the best, it seems a little unfair. But I’m not writing an essay on the commercialization of Christmas, so I’ll shut up about that before I really offend anyone.

    Cartoon characters argue about it all the time, and I’m not exactly sure of it, but I think Christmas is about giving, getting, love, the birth of Christ, and delicious baked goods all at the same time. I mean why not get a little bit of all the good stuff? Why settle for one meaning when you can have 5? It just makes sense. Today I’m gonna be focusing more on the getting side. In the wrong context, that sounds kinda dirty. As I did for Easter and my birthday, I’m going to be doing a rundown of every gift and treat that I got this Christmas. Unlike the former two, this one is gonna be divided into 2 pages. Why? Because I can.

    The first page (this one, for those of you who are a little slower) will show off the stocking stuffers and all the gifts that I got from people that don’t live in my house. After all that is through, you’ll find a link taking you to page 2. There, you can see all the stuff I got from my parents, my brothers, and the legendary Santa Claus (minus the stocking crap). Also, I’ll show a couple things that were addressed to the family rather than exclusively to myself. Then it’ll be done and I’ll provide a link to the Articles board in my message boards where you can discuss all sorts of crazy crap. Then comes my sig and e-mail address and then you’ll have to find something else to read. So let’s get started already!

    Actually, on one last note, the pics are a little bit lower quality than usual because my webcam software doesn’t get along with Windows 2000, so just bear with it for now until I find a proper substitute.

    As I stated in that long and unnecessary intro, we’ll start with the stocking stuffin’s and then move on to gifts from grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. One little note before I start, not everything got immortalized in a picture, some stuff (mostly money) couldn’t be present at the time so I had to do without. Of course, I’ll make mention of the gift and who it came from, just for the sake of completeness. So, here’s my stocking:

    As you can see (if you look close enough), it has been stuffed to the point where it’s become misshapen and somewhat pointy. I myself hadn’t really rooted through it before I took the pics, I was waiting to get a picture of it before I was tempted to eat the delectable goodies that were sure to lurk inside. And lurk they certainly did. Let’s dump it out and see what’s inside.

    Ah, quite the pile of mess I’ve made. That’s the second thing I’ve typed that sounds really wrong without the proper context. While we can clearly make out a few things in the pile, I feel some strange need to arrange it neatly and take another picture so that you can tell what everything is without a detailed description. At this point I can see that it’s not quite as full of exciting stuff like it has been in past years, but the candy haul looks decent, so I’m happy.

    Ok, time for a list. In this bag we have:

    • A stuffed novelty Dallas Cowboys football. My dad was jealous until he got his.
    • A chocolate Santa on a stick. Clearly came from the same mold as the chocolate Easter Bunny on a stick.
    • Circular Candy Cane. So many C’s, none of them worth it. O_o
    • A gift certificate for some book store. I was far too disinterested to know which one or how much it’s worth.
    • Box of 5 CD-Rs. I guess half a box is better than none. Though I still have 13 left over from the birthday.
    • Net full of chocolate Santas. Also mysteriously shaped like the Easter Bunny chocolates.
    • Gift card for Blockbuster. This could be useful when I need to rent video games, unlock my door or pretend I have an important person keycard.
    • A stick of deodorant. Not my preferred brand, but it’ll do.
    • 5-pak of Tic-Tacs. That rhymed. Sweet.
    • Many, many Life Savers. All in a small, festive, book-like box
    • Mini-milk carton with the Cat in the Hat on it. I hate that cat. Apparently, the carton is filled with Whoppers. Anybody want some Whoppers?
    • Finally, a box of Hot Tamales. The cream of the crop? Yes.

    I usually don’t do lists, especially unordered lists, but it’s a special occasion. I think that in the end I made out pretty good on the candy front. I ended up with a box of Hot Tamales and a ton of Tic-Tacs. Those could have been the only things in the stocking and I’d have been fine. The Candy Cane thing is a good entry, but I frown upon the Whoppers. CD-R’s are nice to have, but I’ve got a ton already. And the money substitutes will no doubt come in handy sooner or later. I don’t buy books until I have a gift certificate, so it’s time for me to do some reading! So now that that’s covered, I’ll move on to the presents. Mmmm presents.

    Wouldn’t you know it, I just got out of a veritable grab bag and stumbled into a second. My grandparents always send a bag of useful-type stuff, littered with other less-useful fun things. This one came with deodorant (more Mitchum? Dammit! I told everyone I like Brut!), plenty of hair gel (it just hit me now that the blue bottle actually came in the stocking…), dental floss, gum, free golf, movie money, a scarf (which hadn’t left my neck until I took the pics), and some mittens. There was also a pair of boxers and some socks, but they were in the washing machine while I was taking the pics. I also got a new hockey stick, which is sadly enough in the same state as my old one; brand new. Not the absolute greatest stuff, but damned if I won’t appreciate getting it all.

    One of my uncles gave me fifty bucks. It came in a nice card which is now sitting on one of the many tables in my living room. My aunt and uncle who live way in Ontario sent a card with another forty dollars enclosed. It has also found a home somewhere in the living room among all the other cards. The money wasn’t able to show up because I didn’t feel like finding my wallet. It always gets lost in my room. Perhaps I should look for it? Nah. When I need it, it’ll find me. That’s what wallets do.

    Next up is the stuff from my other set of grandparents. The dark mass on the left is a new pair of jeans. They fit suspiciously well for new jeans. The only other jeans that have fit so well are jeans that have been worn in, but these had the tags and everything, so they certainly aren’t second-hand. Up on top is Big Shiny Tunes 8. I’ve been complaining that ever since 5, they’ve just been getting crappier each year, but I can’t complain with this one. It’s not too bad for a bunch of bands I never heard of. I still don’t like Linkin Park or Simple Plan, but “Get Loose” by The Salads makes it all worth it. If you haven’t heard the song, go listen to it now. Absolute best song from a band named after food ever. EVER.

    And if you can’t make out the title, the big block on the right is a Shmuzzle Puzzle. Never heard of ‘em? Well nor had I until I saw it on TV, and then I knew I had to have it. It’s only 160-some pieces, but they’re all shaped the exact same! And they fit together in like a billion ways, so I assume that it’s gonna be quite the challenge to get this bad boy done. The box even says it’s a twin threat to my sanity. But I love puzzles and threats to my sanity, so I know I’ll enjoy doing it.

    From another of my aunt and uncles, I got this little treasure; Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga. If you liked Super Mario RPG, you’ll more than likely enjoy this one. If you liked Paper Mario too, you’ll definitely love this. It’s the perfect cross between the two, and I absolutely love it. There isn’t a single thing I can’t say a good thing about in this game. The story is great, the dialogue is hilarious, the graphics and sound are spot-on, and it’s about 20 hours for an expert (good time for a GameBoy RPG). Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, it’s fun too. The battle system is very interactive and you can’t really take your eyes off the action like in most RPGs. I love it. Plus, it’s got the Mario Bros.game I get hooked on so easily and finally, an unofficial two-player option for those with a GameCube and a GameBoy Player.

    From my cousin, another Big Shiny CD. Big Shiny 90’s this time. Mucho better than the other one, because it’s got music that’s closer to my preferred music era. Not only that, but it’s 2 CDs! Talk about your sweet deals. The not sweet deal is that it’s Volume 2, and I don’t have any volume 1 to speak of so I guess I’ll have to go searching for that now. It’s still a great compilation and I highly recommend it. From the fragments of commercial I can pick out of my memory I think the first one was better, but as it stands, I like this one just fine.

    I’m not quite at 2000 words yet, but it’s time for me to make the move into the next page, which will be a bot longer. Oops… I’ll leave it to your imagination whether that was supposed to be “bit” or “lot”. Maybe I really did want to spell “bot”. Maybe I should quit trying to squeeze in a bunch of extra words to make the unspoken quota. Then again, most of the tags are counting as words so it’s a little inaccurate. But that don’t matter, we’ll just say I ended this page with a healthy 1900 words. Be sure to click on the link below to find out what the rest of my gifts were. If you don’t, I’ll know. And then I’ll get you for it.

    [Pretend there’s a page break here. Years ago there actually was one!]

    I guess the best place for me to start off is where I left off. Now that you’ve seen all that various crap, it’s time for a lot more crap! Only this crap came from my parents, siblings, and there are even a few presents from me in there somewhere. And to top it all off are a few gifts that were addressed to the whole family rather than just for me. I know I’ve told you this before but I thought I’d remind you, and I just didn’t feel right starting with a picture.

    Every year for my birthday and Christmas, my dad gets me some sort of tool. I think it’s a pretty sweet deal, because I use them a lot. Maybe not for what they’re meant for, but I use them a lot. This year I got my very first wrench set. Now that’s great and all, but I asked for a saw (again) and it never came. Why I can’t have a saw is beyond me, but frankly I’m pretty disappointed. I love the wrenches and all, but they just aren’t a saw. Oh well, there’s always next year.

    Everybody should know that I adore the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. If you don’t you do now. Sadly, I only got one action figure for Christmas, but it’s no big deal, I can just go buy the rest. I’ve already got all the figures from series 1, and Skatin’ Raph here is my first from series 2. Overall, it’s not that much different from the normal Raphael, except for the skates, his clothes, and the fact that his legs are stuck in a much more comfortable looking position. The skates themselves are quite large, but they work pretty well and ensure that he doesn’t fall over. My only complaint is that they didn’t paint as much detail on the actual figure as they did on the figure on the box. It’s really not a big deal, but I feel a bit cheated.

    My brother, on the other hand, got pretty much all of the ones he needed. Ironically, I think the only one that he’s missing is Skatin’ Raph. I’m quite jealous because I’ve been a Turtles fan for so much longer than him, and if it wasn’t for me, he probably wouldn’t even know about them. I think the jealousy is mostly rooted in the fact that he has the Casey Jones figure and I don’t, but I have him one-upped in other ways that are soon to follow…

    Back to the real world for a second, I’ll take a look at my CD’s. I haven’t been listening to Styx for a long time, but I really like the music, so I asked for the greatest hits and here it is. It’s a great CD, despite only having 11 songs, and I’m even listening to it as I type this. There is one song I don’t really like on it, but it’s not something I can’t learn to live with. After all, if I can tolerate the Three Days Grace song on Big Shiny Tunes 8 I should be able to put up with anything a real band can throw at me. Other than what I’ve already typed, there isn’t a whole lot I can say about a CD.

    I believe my exact word were “Not another damn puzzle”. Just kidding, I think it’s cool that now my sanity will be cumulatively threatened four times. This one might be a little easier than the water drop as it’s got lots of colours, but I haven’t tried to put it together yet so I could be horribly mistaken. These puzzles are only like 10 bucks, so I urge you to go out and get one if you often find yourself bored. Or you could get one of those bajillion-piece puzzles, but those don’t have any gimmicks, so they can’t possibly be any good.

    Just to diversify my gifts a bit, my mom decided that it would be good idea to get me a couple books. Only problem is that these books aren’t really books. Sure they’ve got words in them and all, but they’re mostly just for novelty’s sake. I mean, who actually reads through everything in the Guinness world record books? I’ll make it a point to be the first to do the feat and then I’ll get into the next one. I’m just curious if it came from the future, because it’s the 2004 book and there hasn’t been a whole lot of 2004 to make records in. That and it looks kinda futurey. The high point is that I found a new crustacean to top the most wanted pets list: the Japanese spider crab. Though I’d need a pool to keep it in because its leg span is over 2 meters long.

    Now the Mario & Luigi player’s guide. I don’t really need it, but I can honestly say that it has come in handy. I also like to just read guides as well. Don’t ask me why, because I couldn’t tell you. Just ever since I got the guide for Final Fantasy 8 I’ve been getting them mostly just to read. We all know that you don’t need a guide for a side-scroller, but I got the guide for Viewtiful Joe because I like to read them, it was Viewtiful Joe goods, and it was 20% off. That’s like 2 bucks off right there. Greatest deal ever.

    I got the second season DVD set of Friends for my 16th birthday, and I wanted the first and third this Christmas, but my mom was only able to find the third. I guess I’ll have to go hunting for it by myself eventually. Not a whole lot to say, but it’s got one of my favorite episodes on it, The One Where Nobody’s Ready. If you don’t recognize the title, it’s the episode where Joey puts on all of Chandler’s clothes at once. The special features aren’t very appetizing, but I like commentary so I’m happy. Oh yes, we got a DVD player a while ago, so I no longer have to use the PS2 or X-Block to watch stuff. Yay!

    I told you I’m a Turtles fan and I wasn’t lying. I wanted Turtles DVD’s, and I got one set. Only once again, it’s the third in the set, and my brother got the first. Obviously my mother is not aware of my preference of getting things in order. Not only that, but my brother wrecked the plastic covering of his while trying to open in so now the cover is taped on very, very badly. Not that if affects me, but I hate to see something so precious abused in such a way. Seriously, if you saw it, you’d hit him too.

    Now it’s time to set foot into the restaurant of video games and check out the real delicacies of the annual serving of gifts. Our appetizer, MegaMan Zero 2 is by far one of the hardest games of this generation. When I read the reviews I thought “Bah, they’re just babies, it couldn’t possibly be that hard” and I thought I was right, because they said the first game was hard and it wasn’t too bad. But when I popped this sucker in I got my ass handed to me. Getting killed in the intro stage generally means the game is hard or you suck, and I’m pretty confident that I don’t suck. But after some practice, I’ve been able to make it halfway through. My final opinion: I love it. We need more games like this. Capcom, I salute you.

    Our side salad is, of course, the TMNT GameBoy game. Unlike MMZ2, it’s not unbearably difficult, but it does offer it’s own challenges. Easy mode is quite simple, but once you get to Normal, you start thinking that maybe you got more than you asked for. And it’s fun too. It’s like the old arcade/NES games, except it’s pure 2D and there is (very sadly) no multiplayer support. But it’s still an above-par game. There is a password feature, but it doesn’t unlock anything worth being there. The other problem is that they chopped up the cartoon’s intro and shoved it in there. It would have been better off without the intro, rather than with the butchered garbage that’s in there. But it’s small, and skippable so I don’t mind too much.

    And now we get to the sweet, sweet main course of the bunch, the GameCube version of TMNT. Like the GBA game, it’s very similar to the old games, only it’s in true 3D. There is multiplayer support, but it only goes to 2-player. I bet if they didn’t have to put it on the PS2 as well, there would have been a proper 4-player mode. Oh well. The password system in this version is much better, as it opens plenty of things like new game modes and costumes. There is also a production art database, and being the art fiend I am, it pleases me muchly. Oh, and if all the crazy food metaphors are kind of confusing, I’ve been playing Mario & Luigi way too much, and you’ll understand if you play it.

    I’ve said I’m a Queen fan in the past, and as you can see above, I got myself a little something to commemorate my last big Christmas haul. Actually, we were shopping on Boxing Day and I’ve never seen these CDs anywhere, so I did what I had to do. I imagine the reason they’re so rare is because they’re the first two Queen albums, and they were released a long time ago. Of course, they are the CDs and not the records, so they’re not the originals, but I’m not complaining. The one thing I am complaining about though, is that Queen II has a remix of the Seven Seas of Rhye, which I though was just an extended version or something, but it’s really a techo-ish dance mix which really destroys the song. Other than that, they’re awesome CDs that belong in the libraries of any 80’s rock fan.

    Now we get to the family gifts. You can usually see a similar background in pictures of me that are on the site, but there’s one big difference (aside from the dog toys). The new weight bench we got is a lot better than our old piece of junk. This one’s even got a thing so we can do leg stuff as well. I may not seem like the type to be overjoyed by this kind of thing, but I am. Now all I need is some solid motivation and I’ll be in shape in no time. Ooh, it’s comfy too, so comfy in fact, that I was ready to use it as a bed one night. There was a whole bunch of (figurative) crap all over my real bed, so I just laid down. But then I got up and after some possibly amusing events I ended up sleeping on the couch.

    I had taken all the pics when I remembered about getting this beauty, so I just surfed on over to Saitek’s website and stole their picture of it. It’s so much better than the old 4-button Gravis gamepad I had been forced to use for the last few years. Now I can play my ROMs in style! I would use it for other games, but we don’t really have any computer games that would benefit from using this. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, FPS games are made to be played with a keyboard and mouse or at least a Nintendo 64 controller. I wonder if I could play Tiberian Sun with it?

    And that’s the whole lot of it. Every gift and goodie has been at least spoken of, and I’m ready to go and start a puzzle. Actually, to tell the truth, there is one thing I forgot to mention, and I’m sure it’ll make up for the one I missed in the birthday article…

    Ho ho ho! Enjoy, ladies!

    And that’s that. Sorry I couldn’t get this up closer to Christmas, I was planning to have it done by the 28th, but my PC got infected yet again and only a week after the holiday have I found time to finish up. And now that this is done, I an get to work on my English project of which I had 4 months to work on and have yet to start. It’s worth 10% of my grade so I guess I’d better get to work. I might even post some of the stuff I do for it on the site, so be sure to stay tuned.

    As for the future, I stated in a recent news post that January is exam month, and not only normal exams, but provincial exams as well. They shouldn’t be too hard, as all my classes this semester are language classes, and I find that to be my forte in school, but I till have to study or something like that, so I probably won’t have a lot of time for updates. It’s going to be another November/December. If I do post anything it’s gonna be a mini-review or submissions to the gallery. Sorry about the lack of real articles, but my PC has been FUBAR so many times in the past couple months that I can’t really get anything done. Now that’s changed, and as of February I’ll be able to try a little harder.