Mar 222013
 

Every now and then someone posts something on your facebook or twitter that looks rather interesting. Often its something you already knew about or would have discovered on your own. The best moment though is when it’s something so good you can’t believe you had not seen it before. In this case it is youtube sensation (at least to me) “Smooth McGroove.” To be honest, I don’t know a lot about him. What I have gathered is he is a chainmail wearing, cat loving, bearded, song bird of all things wonderful. In this case, its video game music. This man (and often cat) do acapella renditions of several great video game songs. Most of his songs are either from Zelda or Final Fantasy. He does have a few non-video game songs that are just as killer.

Here are a few samples of his music. I suggest that you also subscribe to his YouTube channel for updates on his new stuff. Another great side note, my 11 month old baby girl LOVES watching his videos. Anytime she gets fussy, I know I can pop on Smooth McGroove and she will quietly become enamored with whatever it is she likes. Perhaps its his voice, the beard, or hopefully just the awesome video game music. Enjoy!

 

Mar 202013
 
Trust me! I'm a doctor.

Trust me! I’m a doctor.

MegaCon has been a family tradition for almost ten years now. As soon as the new year hits, all of my friends and I get really excited that it is only a few more months away. I mean, it comes at the perfect time of year. The people who planned this event over time knew what they were doing. It’s right in the middle of TAX season, so people might have a little more expendable income to plan a trip around it, as well as load up on sweet loot. The weather is PERFECT for Central Florida. Usually warm and breezy this time of year, which makes for perfect convention weather. As an added bonus for some, Disney is contained within Orlando also. But alas, this isn’t about Disney, this is about MegaCon 2013, so let’s get this story started.

Cross Play keeps getting more and more popular.

Cross Play keeps getting more and more popular.

My group split up as the doors opened, with my wife and some friends going to see Harry Potter’s very own Weasley Twins, the Phelps brothers, which you will read about from Noel herself. As for me, I had a mission. This year I was going to buy stuff. I even had a list of very specific comics I was looking for. The thing is, I never buy stuff at MegaCon. I usually have this wacky guilt struggle and talk myself out of buying neat stuff, then regret it later. Con-Regret is the worst! This year was going to be different. I figured I would stick to my usual MegaCon strategy of walking the floor once without stopping at any one place for too long. That way I’d get a lay of the land. This comes in handy when you are looking for certain things. You can gauge the chances of finding what you want at that table. As I was walking, I stopped for a moment. Something was different. I looked around slowly until my eyes looked ahead of me. It had somehow gotten BIGGER. I felt electricity go through my body as I staggered a step backwards. I finally found my composure and started my quest again.

I spent way too much time looking at all these fantastic Jawas.

I spent way too much time looking at all these fantastic Jawas.

ARTICLE INVASION. Noel here, your very own robo-wifey. I had the distinct pleasure of sitting in on a Q&A panel with the charming Phelps brothers, more commonly known as the actors who portrayed the Weasley twins, Fred and George, in the Harry Potter films. Charming, indeed. They drew a pretty large crowd, which was predictable. Luckily, the panel was held in one of the bigger rooms at the Convention Center. Despite my grim spot near the end of the line, I ended up with front row seats. They were off to the side but I still had a very nice view. I gotta say, guys. The dude who was facilitating this panel was kiiiiiiiind of lame. He started out making jokes about the “Twilight Panel.” Har har har. He thought that joke was REALLY funny because he definitely used it between 2 and 4 times. He really put his foot in his mouth too, referring to the author as “J.K. Rollins” (the crowd was in an uproar) and by referring to the characters as the “Wesley twins.” Sigh. Aside from that, Oliver and James were British cuties. Very funny, super nice, maybe a tad shy, and alarmingly non-ginger. They told funny anecdotes about being on the set and even gave us a couple of “crazy fan girl” stories. It was more than worth an hour of my time. SEACREST OUT.
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While that was going on, I was trying my best not to get distracted. At a convention, this is VERY difficult. There are costumes everywhere. All the booths are filled with awesome stuff you want to take home. There are famous people signing autographs and taking pictures. The artists are charismatic and try to engage in witty conversation with you. There are things you need to take pictures of. Most importantly, you have to check your 3DS every twenty minutes to clear out your street passes and get puzzle pieces. Conventions are GREAT for street passing. I believe the 3DS only holds up to 20 passes at once, so you have to clear them out to get more. It’s fun when you start tagging a few people multiple times. I really love the Nintendo 3DS…. Whoa, see, getting distracted. I look at my watch (Cell phone) and gasp. It was time for us to gather up and meet for the Voice Actors Gone Wild panel. I had only seen half of the floor. My quest for comics was going to be tough this year.

Well, It kind of makes sense if you think about it.

Well, It kind of makes sense if you think about it.

The line for Voice Actors Gone Wild was crazy long, but the wait was worth it. Picture if you will the following voice actors: Billy West, John DiMaggio, DC Douglas, and Christine Vee. These voice actors are going to be reading the Lord of the Rings script as several of their various characters. It was probably the funniest thing I have ever seen in my life. I will never be able to watch Lord of the Rings because I want to see THIS version. Dr Zoidberg as Gollum, Tracy Morgan as Gandalf, Pikachu as Bilbo Baggins, Fry as Frodo, Bender and Jake the dog narrating at times. It was audio magic as they went in and out of different characters with ease and perfect comedic timing.

My Childhood's voice.

My Childhood’s voice.

Can't mention the voice of Ren and Stimpy without Powdered Toast Man!

Can’t mention the voice of Ren and Stimpy without Powdered Toast Man!

After the panel I had an important side quest. This quest was to eat lunch. We didn’t want to leave the convention hall so we decided to tackle CON FOOD. There were many options actually, all overpriced but that is expected at a convention, so why even complain? It’s the same for sporting events. The trick is to find a place that fills you up and doesn’t make your stomach upset. This came to mind when we saw the dreaded CON SUSHI stand. Now, to be fair I have not tried con sushi, but I have heard many tales. I figured I would steer clear of it for now. Nothing really struck my fancy so I settled for the BBQ brisket. It actually wasn’t bad for con food. They have definitely been working on their food choices, which is awesome. I remember when there was ONE Chinese place.
CableJean and Scott

I was back on the hunt. I still had the distractions to battle. One of which was a damn good one. I ran into Careless from the band Random Encounter. I FINALLY bought a shirt and we chatted a bit. He is such a polite and cool person to talk to. Ok, enough chatter, I had stuff to buy. It took a couple of hours of searching but I found about two thirds of the things I was hunting for, as well as some extra goodies. My time was running out, as we had a very important date at 6:30.

OVER 9000!

OVER 9000!

Boobie Fett

Boobie Fett

It was time for the Star Trek: The Next Generation panel. It was the entire crew from Next Gen, including the infamous Q, all in the same place at the same time answering questions and telling stories. It was amazing. Noel is a HUGE fan of the series and got us the expensive first 5 rows seats. We were in the third. It was magical except for one thing. The only thing I can really complain about Megacon is this. The moderator for the Next Generation panel was super annoying. You probably remember what Noel said in her Weasley segment, but his douchbaggery carried over to this panel as well. While Sir Patrick Stewart was telling a gripping story, our dear moderator decided to play the “Harlem Shake.” Sir Patrick Stewart looked down right confused and annoyed. The rest of the cast looked even more puzzled and a bit terse. Sir Patrick Stewart then stopped telling his story and sat back down, essentially done for the night. Why in the world would you interrupt the Captain at all? We came to watch the crew talk about the show and the fans and stuff. We didn’t come to see them act out stupid internet memes. Wil Wheaton was super impressive too. He talked like one of us, a huge fan. When you hear him gush all over these other guys it’s like one of us fan boying all over them. Then you remember that he was actually on the show. It’s a little magical really. He’s a nerd like us and that is super cool.

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This was probably the best MegaCon I’ve been to. Everything, besides that witless moderator was essentially perfect. I can’t imagine it getting any better, but I am sure it will.

Mar 112013
 

As an artist designing a character is one of the most difficult but satisfying things to do. It’s quite a challenge to define who a person is purely by their visual appearance. However when it’s done well it can really make a character resonate with an audience. One of the best examples of this is in a character beloved by thousands of gamers, Link.
Continue reading »

Feb 262013
 
This is what trading on a bonus credit day feels like.

This is what trading on a bonus credit day feels like.

I used to be the kind of guy that rushed out to their local GameStop to trade in a game the moment they were done with it. It wasn’t too long ago that I decided this was a poor way to go about things. Not only do these kind of stores typically take advantage of their customers looking to get something new to play with minimal out-of-pocket investment, but they are also keeping money out of the hands of the developers that make the games we all love. Besides that, I have recently found myself with a small case of “trader’s remorse”, because there are games I wish I still had that I traded in long ago. Some of these games simply have sentimental value, but the others I genuinely think I could get some replay value out of.

Jade Empire
This was one of the three games I played on my original Xbox before getting tired of the thing and trading it in. It is an action RPG set in a mythical ancient Japan. The combat was really interesting, and involved a mix of martial arts, magic, and transformations. In typical Bioware style, there was an intricate dialogue system that allowed you to develop branching relationships with the characters. There were multiple endings to this game, and I got them all but I still can’t help but want to play this again!

I will miss my forays into a mythology tinged version of ancient China.

I will miss my forays into a mythology tinged version of ancient China.

Star Fox 64 3D
This was a very, very short game but it was also a lot of fun! I also never had a chance to try out the local multiplayer (because I have no friends). It took quite a while after beating it for trader’s remorse to kick in, but Star Fox 64 3D definitely gave me a case of it!

The Fable Series
I’m not talking about any of the weird Fable spin-offs here, I’m just talking about the main three games in the series. They weren’t the most well-received games, but overall I found all of them to be pretty fun. The magic system was simple and easy to master, even with the changes brought in later in the series. It was a blast to be able to work through the game as both “good” or “evil”; which I really thought of as “boring” and “quickly efficient” respectively. None of them were much on story, but sometimes you just really want a game that will let you jump right in and senselessly electrocute creatures to death with magic so you can unwind from a long day of work.

The Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Series
Knights of the Old Republic was one of the first “true” console RPGs I got into. There is a fantastic amount of depth here, several branching storylines, and a complex combat system that was easy to learn yet challenging to fully master. When the Old Republic MMO was being teased, I mistakenly got my hopes up thinking this could be the third installment in one of my most loved game series, but it was not to be. Even though the console they were made for is now incredibly obsolete, I find myself wishing I could take a second crack at these two games.

 

Dark Side of the Force? Nah, more like insanely awesome side of the Force.

Dark Side of the Force? Nah, more like insanely awesome side of the Force.

Zack and Wiki
This was an interesting and very cute point-and-click puzzle game for the Wii. It was also insanely hard! After making my way about halfway through this one, I found myself running to GameStop as fast as I could before I shattered the disc into a million pieces in a fiery rage-fueled fit. Now that I’m older, I think I have learned to be more patient with a game like Zack and Wiki, I regret getting rid of it and would love the opportunity to sit down with it again.

This isn’t intended to be an anti-used games rant, but rather an account of why you should consider hanging on to games for a little while after you’re finished with them. Sure, their “value” goes down in a used game store’s eyes and they’ll only give you $5 instead of $7 for a game for which you paid $60. Just stop for a second and ask yourself what the non-monetary value is for you if you keep it and decide to play it again a year down the road. That’s the kind of value that never depreciates.

Feb 182013
 

monsterhunter3ultimatelogo

If you’ve been visiting our site for any length of time, you know that I was pretty much obsessed with Monster Hunter 3 for Wii. After putting well over 100 hours into the game, my poor decrepit launch day Wii gave up the ghost and I didn’t have the heart to start fresh.

Since then, I (along with other North American Monster Hunter fans) have been chomping at the bit for a new game. Finally, that wait is over!  Capcom announced that Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate will be hitting North American stores for the Wii U and 3DS March 19th. The tons of new monsters, new areas to explore, new weapons and armor were enough to get my adrenaline flowing, but add to the fact you can transfer your save file back and forth between the Wii U and the 3DS and I am in LOVE with this game over a month before its release date. Despite the fact that we’ve just recently posted some details,  we really just wanted an excuse to post some cool screens and a video.

Check out a couple of my favorite screen shots from the game and a video below! Also, check back with us later this month when we will have our impressions of the demos up!

monster-hunter-3-ultimate-wii-u-screenshot-10

 

Monster-Hunter-3-Ultimate-Screenshot-1

 

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Feb 042013
 

Raheem Jarbo, Random

 

It’s not all loud guitars and silly songs in the VGM realm of music. No sir! In this episode of VGM Spotlight we take a quick look at a hip  hop legend, especially in the world of Nerdcore. Random AKA Mega Ran.

I got the privilege to finally see him live at MAGfest and he did not disappoint. First off, his set was fun and energetic, secondly he played my favorite song AVALANCHE, and lastly he did an amazing freestyle. The freestyle consisted of him telling the crowd to hold stuff up and he rapped about all of it in a very clever fashion. Really though, did I expect any less? Not at all. Though I was disappointing about one thing, and that was myself. When I met him, he was super nice and I just stood there star struck and awkward. He even signed my copy of Black Materia.

If you aren’t familiar with the Nerdcore scene you might not know much about him, but I hope to change that and spark some interest so you can enjoy all he has to offer. Before I drop my top five favorites, let me give you a quick run down on what he does. Well besides laying the verbal beatdown and providing us with epic lyrical magic, he spits these rhymes to the beat of classic video game music. To be fair, he also uses non game music and that stuff is just as killer. He’s also teamed up with several other big names in Nerdcore like MC Frontalot and MC Chris. Don’t take my word for it though, the proof is in the pudding. Here are my top five songs. Give em a listen and tell us what you think. Heck, if you like them, give the rest of his music a try at his Band Camp page.

 

Jan 282013
 

brentalfloss

There are many types of people in this world. There are thinkers and there are doers. Then comes along a man who does both. This man is known as brentalfloss and he has challenged the mind and the soul by asking the most important questions known to mankind. What if (insert video game title) had lyrics? Not only does he ask that question, he solves it.

 

Mega Man 3 with Lyrics was his first entry of the series and it wasn’t just some beginner’s luck either. He went on to solve that riddle for millions (Over exaggeration) of video games. He wasn’t finished there either mind you. He cut a swath through the internet like no one has ever seen! Not only did he spend his valuable time to answer the most important of riddles, he also gave us a wonderfully comedic web comic, as well as other video game themed videos. Want to listen to his stuff on the go? Well he has two full length albums.  The man is funny, he is smart, and he can play the hell out of a piano. He proves it live as he travels the country telling his story. His live shows with the Cartridge Family are uncanny explosions of funny. To honor him in this VGM Spotlight, I’ve shared my five favorite brentalfloss videos!

 





I hope you enjoyed this VGM Spotlight. If you have a favorite VGM type act for me to check out, let me know!

Jan 212013
 

 Fftbox

Final Fantasy Tactics has always been one of my all time favorite games. In fact, my love for it has kept me away from most other Strategy RPGs for fear of them not living up to the greatness that is FFT. Of course there have been a few exceptions, but generally FFT is the game I always fall back on.

As soon as David conjured up this fun segment of RoboAwesome, I immediately knew I had to discuss the Final Fantasy Tactics battle that all fans know. I had to talk about Rooftop. I think I just heard the collective sigh of every FFT fan across the globe. This battle was frustrating as hell but beating it felt so good.

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Final Fantasy Tactics being a strategy RPG, there are some simple mechanics that you have to understand. The player has a group of five or six characters with different skills. Each character goes one at a time, including the enemies, so you have to plan your movements and thus the strategy. Occasionally in FFT, you will be joined by a guest character. These guest characters are AI controlled and can sometimes be pretty badass, or they can be Rafa.

Rafa

The Riovanes Rooftop battle doesn’t sound all that complicated at first. You have to fight two assassins and an arc knight and you get five characters to use. One of them is a guest character which have been helpful so far. Best part is you don’t even have to kill all three enemies. All you have to do is get one of them to critical health. Sounds stupid easy right? You are probably reading this thinking I am crazy. Well guess what? You just touched the stove. There are a couple of things about this fight that make things extra difficult. For one, the assassins have INCREDIBLE range on their abilities, which include paralyzing your characters. Second and most important is that you have to keep Rafa alive. This is even more challenging when she bolts off right into the assassins and starts trying to fight them. There is no stopping that either. You have to make sure your speed is high enough and your heavy hitters don’t get stunned. Then you need to hope luck is on your side.

The funny thing is, back in the day chances are that unless you had a friend who already played it, you had no idea that you needed to get one of the assassins to critical. I remember just trying so hard to get them all locked down and defeated. Once I finally beat it, I realized I just needed to focus fire on one. Even knowing that now doesn’t really take the edge off of the battle. Rafa’s unpredictable nature and the Assassin’s huge range and debuffs make this battle rough for just about anyone. It certainly is a memorable one for all fans of Final Fantasy Tactics. In fact, later today I think I will play this classic again, I mean why not?

Jan 192013
 

DoE

VGM spotlight is where RoboAwesome shows off a great video game music act. These are often acts I have become fans of and have possibly seen live. They are usually great people who are extremely talented and have a lot of passion and heart in what they do.

For our Inaugural VGM Spotlight, I would like to introduce Descendants of Erdrick. How about a quick taste to get your appetite wet.

Pretty Bitchin right?

 

Now, before you get too deep, I want you to know that they are currently in a transition period. The band I have been experienced will no long exist in that context, however I trust that their new direction will be just as amazing. Lead by Amanda Lepre who is as charming as she is musically gifted, Descendants of Erdrick are a band out of Austin Texas where apparently there is a hotbed of VGM greatness just smoldering to catch our nation on fire. The fires of pure VGM bliss. It’s no wonder I am discussing DoE first, as their former members are spreading out and getting into other great VGM bands. Amanda Lepre recently released a Q and A that answers a lot of questions about the future of the band as well as those other bands I referenced.

Amanda Lepre
Amanda Lepre

2013 DESCENDANTS OF ERDRICK QUESTIONS:

Q: Who is in your band?

A: It will be announced soon. Patience.

Q: How is this new band different from the old band?

A: The new band is more RPG/Adventure-centric as far as material goes. We are revisiting a few very classic Descendants of Erdrick ideas from as far back as early 2010, with new, OMFG MY FACE IS MELTING arrangements.

Q: Will you still be doing the songs/arrangements you have been doing in the old group?

A: No and yes. For the time being, you will hear completely new songs. There are at least two medleys for the February debut show that have been done before in the previous group, but they will be done differently in this iteration. At some point, I would like to revisit older arrangements and medleys, but in an updated fashion.

INFORMATION ON OUR FIRST SHOW: https://www.facebook.com/events/446876298714279/

Q: Just RPG/Adventure music? What about Street Fighter? Mega Man? Punch-Out!!? F-Zero? Ninja Gaiden? Journey to Silius? METROID???

A: We are RPG/Adventure-centric, but not limited to that genre in live performances. Patience! The good stuff will be done.

Q: Will you have new albums and recordings of the new group?

A: Yes, in time. We are planning a release in 2013.

Q: Will there be DRAGON QUEST?

A: Duh

Q: You’re stupid. You think you can just throw together new people? I won’t like them. I’m afraid of change. You can’t replace LOBOS, CHRIS, JOHN AND LAUREN, DAMMIT!

A: Nobody could ever replace those guys, and the new band is not a “replacement”. It’s a new sound; it’s a new idea. I promise you, I’ve put together the best musicians I know who have a love for video game music. Some you may know, some you may not know. Trust is essential, here. Trust that I will absolutely ruin every song you ever loved.

;D

Serious answer: I can’t make you like anything. I hope you will give it a chance, and I’m fairly certain we will earn your respect.

Q: I want to be in your group. Are you still in need of members?

A: The basic foundation of the group has been laid out and is complete, however, I am still open to your e-mails. Please drop me a line! amanda@descendantsoferdrick.com

Q: I want to book your new band and/or help in some way or another (graphics/animation/etc). CAN I HELP PLS??

A: Sexy. Send me an e-mail, and we’ll talk. ;) amanda@descendantsoferdrick.com

WHERE THEY ARE NOW? DESCENDANTS OF ERDRICK EDITION

Q: Tell me everything. I want to follow EVERY band, go to EVERY show, purchase EVERY LAST ITEM OF RECORDING AND MERCH AVAILABLE.

A: I will give you. ALL THE INFORMATION.

Lords of Thunder:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lords-of-Thunder/131002600372412?fref=ts

Contains: Mike Villalobos, John Pike

What it is: Super metal stuff. Lobos wears ARMOR on stage. John has a ceramic falcon. That’s METAL.

When can I see them: They are playing with the new Descendants of Erdrick on February 3, 2013 at Red 7. https://www.facebook.com/events/446876298714279/ Some members are not local to Austin, so make sure to catch them anytime you can!

Gimmick! Video Game Rock Band:

https://www.facebook.com/GimmickBand

Contains: Chris Taylor, Mike Villalobos

What it is: Minibosses-esque straight covers of famous and obscure NES/Gameboy tunes

When can I see them: Keep checking their page!

The Returners:

https://www.facebook.com/TheReturnersVGM

Contains: Lauren Liebowitz, John Pike, Mike Villalobos

What it is: I have no idea. I just found out about this.

When can I see them: I have no idea. Keep checking their page!

Those Who Fight:

https://www.facebook.com/twf.music

Contains: Amanda Lepre, Lauren Liebowitz (on occasion)

What it is: Final Fantasy-themed rock opera.

When can I see them: It’s not a local group; we only play conventions/festivals and the occasional tour if we can grab one. Not in Texas for the time being. We are playing at PAX East next.

Amanda Lepre:

https://www.facebook.com/amandalepre.music

Contains: Amanda Lepre

What it is: I’ve been a solo singer/songwriter for over a decade, btw. I do have an original album (featuring Chris, John, and Lauren), and I do play original music shows around town from time to time.

When can I see you? THIS SATURDAY. With my full band, opening for Vanispheres (Austin’s own Rush Tribute Band). Details: https://www.facebook.com/events/194318650712003/

Take care, and Tempt Not the Fates!

Exciting times for Descendants of Erdrick as well as these other bands I am sure I will be featuring in our VGM Spotlight.

I encourage you to check out their band camp. http://descendantsoferdrick.bandcamp.com/

 

Until the next VGM Spotlight!