Everyday Atrocities: Pokemon on Emulators

Time and time again, I see people get excited over emulators.  Who wouldn’t?  Having hundreds of games at your disposal and the chance to discover a new hidden gem sounds awesome.  For most people, emulators are like a treasure box filled with childhood memories.  The franchise that I see people get the most nostalgic over is Pokemon and with good reason.  Pokemon is still fun to play.  I just cannot fathom playing it on an emulator.

While I rarely had the opportunity to trade and battle with other people in older Pokemon titles, having a link cable is essential to the Pokemon experience.  How else are you going to catch them all?  Knowing how dedicated the people who design emulators are, it may be possible to trade Pokemon on an emulator, but it just seems dull.  Doing that loses the sense of adventure that extends outside of those games.  Having to find other players or even driving to stores to get special event Pokemon is not the slightest bit convenient, but it gives the illusion that we live in a Pokemon world.  I wonder if Toys R US managers got annoyed of having kids enter the store just to obtain a Pokemon and walk out.

Aside from trading, there are other features that people playing on emulators will miss out on.  Players of HeartGold and SoulSilver will be missing out on one of my favorite features of those games, the Pokewalker.  Just transfer a Pokemon, put the pedometer in your pocket and level up Pokemon just by walking.  I do not know if the Pokewalker was an accurate pedometer, but anything that gives out easy to obtain (if you walk a lot) experience points is a welcome addition.   People looking to complete the Pokdex legitimately are going to have to buy the WiiWare title My Pokemon Ranch which communicates with Pokemon Diamond and Pearl.  I never played it.  Capturing or hatching and then transferring 999 Pokemon to obtain Mew sounds tedious.

The best thing about playing Pokemon using actual cartridges is that if you so desire, your Pokemon stay with you.  Theoretically, if you have the right hardware, Pokemon caught over ten years ago in Ruby or Sapphire can be transferred to Omega Ruby and Alpha Saphire, a game released last year.  Can you do that with an emulator?  If you are looking to play Pokemon, get a DS Lite or 3DS XL because playing Pokemon on an emulator is atrocious.

Everyday Atrocities: Cup of Noodles

How much protection does a cup of Maruchan Instant Lunch need?  It just seems excessive.  The cup is already protected by the cardboard packaging.  There is no need for the cup itself to also be wrapped, especially when there is a lid that has to be peeled off.  This is obviously done for health and safety reasons, but I have seen individual cups of cereal with just a lid that peels back.  Why doesn’t cereal get the same treatment?

Perhaps the strangest thing about the packaging is that the back of the cardboard explicitly states not to microwave it.  Yet when examining the cup itself, there are microwaving instructions.  Which one is it?  Can or can I not microwave it?

I know that I am supposed to pour out the contents of the cup to a different container and stick that container in the microwave instead.  Doesn’t that defeat the point of it being called “Instant Lunch”?  If I had access to another container, chances are that I am near a stove and can just boil water, which is the best way to prepare it.  Besides, shouldn’t the external cardboard packaging provide a disclaimer with the microwaving instructions?  I guess it does not matter much as there will always be people who practice unsafe ramen cooking techniques by placing the entire cup in the microwave and that’s atrocious.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (2015) Film Review

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of WaterI was kind of worried about how good the new SpongeBob movie was going to be, not only because of the quality of recent episodes of the show, but also the lack of hype for it.  The hype surrounding the first SpongeBob movie ten years ago was huge.  Maybe it has something to do with the movie not being targeted to people my age.  I watched the movie during the third week of its release and was almost alone in the theater.  In fact, I would have been the only person there if people did not walk in during the previews.  I guess the hype for the movie is there as it has slaughtered the box office rankings, especially when comparing it to the first movie.

Empty Theater
So many seats to choose from.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water surpassed my expectations.  The commercials made it seem like most of the movie was going to be live action.  This was not the case.  Most of the movie, a little more than two-thirds of it, was done using traditional animation.  Some people might be upset about the commercials being misleading, but there are enough live action scenes that it does not feel like a case of false advertising.  If there had been any more live action scenes, the movie may have dragged on a bit.

I was entertained throughout the entire movie.  While I did not burst out laughing, I had a giant grin on my face.  There are some funny moments that SpongeBob fans will appreciate.  The thing that intrigued me the most while watching the new SpongeBob movie is how weird it is.  It almost reaches Ren and Stimpy levels of weirdness.  There are trippy time travel sequences and a talking dolphin that controls time and space.  Not to mention that as the trailers reveal, SpongeBob and his friends somehow make their way onto land and transformer into superheroes.

The 3D models in the live action scenes look fine.  If they could use those models in a SpongeBob game, that would be great.  There is just something that looks off about the characters in SpongeBob games.  The games are mostly mediocre cash-ins anyways, so first they would actually need to try to make a decent game.  The live action scenes are probably the weakest part of movie.  They are not bad.  It is just that seeing SpongeBob characters out of water has already been done.  The first movie did it and it had David Hasslehoff.

The animation in the 2D scenes is great.  It is crisp and clean.  It is also refreshing seeing 2D animation on the big screen.  The animation style is not a departure from what people used to.  The style is a mixture of the TV show and the first movie.   That is fine.  There is no need to change things up like in the Rugrats movies which had a much darker color scheme than the show.

I am looking forward to the Blu-ray release of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.  I want to see how well it holds up to multiple viewings.  Will it stand the test of the time like the first movie, which seems to have only gotten better as time passes?  I have a strong feeling that it will.

Please Subscribe (2013) Film Review

Please SubscribeA documentary about the lives of YouTube celebrities sure sounds like it could be interesting.  I ended up losing interest about halfway through.  It tried several times to answer one question, why are these videos popular?  In the end there really is not a concrete reason.  Each “famous” YouTuber interviewed had no idea how their videos got so popular.  I use the term famous loosely as there was only one person that I recognized throughout the entire documentary, Dan Brown, the guy who did that great video on how to solve a Rubik’s Cube.  I guess it shows how much variety there is on YouTube.  When I think of top YouTube personalities, they are all gaming related.

This is how I learned to solve a Rubik’s Cube.

I can’t help but feel that this documentary would have been more interesting if it used people that I recognize, but that is a narrow-minded outlook.  The main issue that I have is that most of the YouTubers were vloggers.  I do not have a problem with vlogs, but it is just that vlogs by nature are already exploring behind the scenes of a person’s life so it seems redundant to spend time exploring the making of one.   I think it would be interesting however, to watch a YouTuber make a documentary using footage from his or her vlogs.

There is a false ending that feels out of place.  The credits roll and another ten minute interview takes place, followed by more credits.   Did the director forget about the interview and shove it in at the last minute?   Maybe it was done for comedic effect.  The final interview was interesting and should have been placed earlier in the documentary, certainly before the credit roll.

Please Subscribe is repetitive.  The time spent watching it is better spent on YouTube looking for new channels to subscribe to.  If you are interested in seeing a great behind the scenes/making of video, James Rolfe has a great video of how he makes an Angry Video Game Nerd episode.

Netflix Receives Another Redesign

Netflix received another redesign.  It feels bland and needs more red.  The biggest difference is the logo.  It is simple.  It works.  I prefer the old logo, but I am sure that after a few weeks I will stop caring about it.

It's flat!
It’s flat!
The “Kids” button stands out.  I guess this is done to make the button more distinguishable for children to access the family-friendly selection.  The button seems pointless if a child sees the full “adult” section while waiting for the kids section to load.  It would be smarter if Netflix asked which section you want to view sort of like what the Xbox 360/PS3 apps used to do.  I thought the picture of Mario from “The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!” as the button for the kids section on the apps was hilarious.  So edgy.

I just think it is a bad decision to make the site even lighter.  It was already blinding at night.  I wish it is designed more like the Netflix apps on mobile devices and other hardware.  A nice black finish that is pleasing to the eye.  It does not seem too unreasonable to want a darker interface.  Movies are meant to be viewed in dark environments.  If this was not true, movie theaters would leave the lights on.

Amazon Prime Music Initial Impressions

I saw some tweets last night that indicated that Amazon Prime Music had launched.

I like to take advantage of everything that my Amazon Prime membership offers so within minutes of reading the tweet, I was listening to Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories”.  The album was added to the cloud player and was mixed in with my few MP3 purchases.
Prime songs have a convenient label to indicate that the songs have not been purchased.
Prime songs have a convenient label to indicate that the songs have not been purchased.
I tried seeing how Prime Music worked on Android, but the Amazon MP3 app had not been updated yet.  I was probably trying it too soon.  Not even Amazon’s homepage had changed to indicate that Prime Music was now live.  By the time I got up this morning, the app had been rebranded as Amazon Music and now supports Prime Music.

The Amazon Music Android app has just about everything I was expecting from it.  Support to browse the Prime Music library and download music locally for offline listening are features that are present.  There is also a slick new interface that is ruined by the Prime logo being placed on the album art.
Isn't there a better spot for the Prime logo?
Isn’t there a better spot for the Prime logo

Spending time using the app and browsing through what was available made me realize how small the music library currently is.  I do not think my music tastes are that obscure and was surprised to find out that many bands that I listen to were missing from the Prime Music catalog.

A list of bands/musicians  that are currently unavailable (in no particular order):
  • Muse
  • Radiohead
  • Nirvana
  • Queen
  • Vampire Weekend
  • Arctic Monkeys
  • Arcade Fire
  • Weezer
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • AFI
  • Frank Sinatra
  • The Who
  • The White Stripes
  • Wolfmother
  • Caravan Palace
  • Chvrches
Even if a band is is included in the Prime Music library, it usually does not contain a band’s entire discography.  Green Day is missing “American Idiot”.  Phoenix is missing “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix”.  My Chemical Romance is missing a couple of albums and Daft Punk is missing the Tron Legacy soundtrack.

Don't accidentally buy a song.
Don’t accidentally buy a song.
Just like Prime Instant Video, Prime Music has paid suggestions mixed in with the free offerings.  I find this excusable for Prime Instant Video as it gives the impression that the library is bigger than other competitors such as Netflix.  I think that is practice for Prime Music is slightly embarrassing for Amazon as all of the paid songs that it has recommended to me can be found on Spotify without any additional fees.

I had signed up for Spotify Premium a couple of weeks ago and currently do not have any plans of canceling my membership.  Amazon Prime Music will most likely continue to grow but at the moment, there are better offerings for streaming music online.  I guess it is nice to know that the extra $20 a year for Amazon Prime is not going to waste.


The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) Film Review

Spider-Man films need to stop being so ambitious. Was it really necessary to include three villains in The Amazing Spider-Man 2? Was nothing learned from Spider-Man 3? There is no point in having three villains if they are not all fleshed out. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 just does not know where to stop. Had the film been shorter and placed all of its focus on Electro, it would have been fantastic and better than the first Amazing Spider-Man which I enjoyed watching. Unfortunately, the plot is a mess and the pacing is all over the place making The Amazing Spider-Man 2 a disappointing sequel. It is nowhere near as bad or disappointing as Spider-Man 3, however.

Electro’s design is great and really gives the impression that electricity is flowing through his body. I hope that Michael Bay uses Electro’s design for his upcoming Smurfs reboot. Any time that Electro manipulates electricity, the soundtrack is altered and becomes a mesh of dubstep inspired noises. The sound effects help to show how unstable Electro’s emotions are as most of the time he is just releasing raw anger. It is not until Electro confronts Spider-Man, which happens to be the only thing in his life that he wants, that the dubstep noises resemble any form of actual music. The movie does a nice job establishing Electro’s/Max Dillon’s motives. He is tired of being ignored and just wants to be noticed. It is simple, but it works.

Harry Osborn is introduced and is one of the movie’s strongest characters. He just gives off a creepy vibe whenever he appears on the screen and it is interesting watching Harry and Peter’s relationship unfold. Harry develops some sort of undefined illness and believes that the only way he can survive is to get Spider-Man’s blood. Unable to get the blood himself, Harry turns to Electro for help. The development of Harry and Electro’s partnership is rushed and Harry’s transformation to the Green Goblin is even worse. The Green Goblin barely gets any screen time. I am pretty sure that Venom in Spider-Man 3 had more screen time and that is saying something because he was barely in it.

If Green Goblin’s screen time was not bad enough, the Rhino appears on the screen for an even shorter amount of time. Immediately after the opening credits, there is a scene where Spider-Man tries to stop Aleksei Sytsevich from stealing a truck. It is a pretty exciting scene that is only enhanced by crazy camera angles and Spider-Man’s sarcasm. Spider-Man catches Sytsevich and is never seen or mentioned again until the end of the movie where he briefly appears in the Rhino armor.

While Rhino’s appearance does generate hype for the planned Sinister Six movie, Sony should have taken the Marvel approach and included him in the scene after the credits. What is weird is that there is a scene midway through the credits to spark interest not in the next Spider-Man movie, but for X-Men: Days of Futures Past. It just feels really out of place and bizarre considering that the film is being released in less than 30 days. Speaking of things that feel out of place, product placement has been improved and limited to just Sony laptops. There are no more awkward scenes with Peter Parker using Bing. He now uses Google like a sane person and uses professional strategies to get the information he is looking for.

Another thing that I find weird about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the airplanes. There are two scenes that involve airplanes. The first involves a hijacked plane that is on fire and about to tear apart into multiple pieces. Even as this is happening, the plane’s Internet connection is still working. I wish I had an Internet connection that stable. The second scene involves two planes. During this scene, the power of New York is out resulting in radio communications not properly working. One plane detects that there is an estimated four minutes until a collision with the other. Instead of moving out of the way, the pilot asks a flight attendant to start a timer and see what happens. With mere seconds until impact radio communications are restored and the pilot gets orders on how to handle the situation, move out of the way. What an idea.

Andrew Garfield once again does an amazing job of portraying Peter Parker and Spider-Man. His performance is funny, energetic and sincere. When Peter Parker is not fighting crime, he is either trying to find out what happened to his parents or gawking over Gwen Stacy. It is understandable that Peter Parker would want to know why his parents left him and the movie delivers a reason. Whether or not it adds anything significant to the overall story is debatable as it mostly reveals that OsCorp is *gasp* evil. As for Gwen Stacy, some of the scenes involving her are emotionally moving and watching Peter and Gwen’s on-again/off-again relationship is more interesting than Peter and Mary Jane’s relationship ever was in the Sam Raimi trilogy.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 might be the most blatant case of false advertising since The NeverEnding Story. Despite what the posters and news articles say, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 does not have three villains. The Green Goblin and Rhino are barely in it. Anyone that plans on watching the movie to see them will be extremely disappointed. While most of the film is very enjoyable, the unequal screen time that the villains get makes it hard to recommend. If you just want to watch more web-slinging, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 gets the job done.