Monday, September 22, 2008

Games and Games and Games

As a kid I spent nearly every free minute with a controller in my hand if I could help it. I got to revisit this part of my life last week with a slog through Star Wars: the Force Unleashed on the Xbox 360. Overall, I'd say the experience was a good one but I did get annoyed at a few spots. The game wasn't sufficiently debugged and some of the difficulty feels quite uneven, but still, I can't deny that I enjoyed the experience as a complete package.

After that, I pulled out (and am close to finishing) Mega Man 1 and 2. (Just need to do the Dr. Wily stages in both.) I'm pretty excited that Mega Man 9 is coming this week, but it's only for the Wii and PlayStation 3. Since the Xbox 360 version is next week, I'm going to wait-- not because I dislike the Wii (and don't own a PS3), but because as a fiend for achievements, well, I at least want a shot at them. Even if they are seemingly impossible. (Seriously read the list, tell me if you think you can get 40% of those.) It should be fun, though, and I'm really hoping that it's an excellent game that sells well. Anything to encourage more game development that might result in software that seems like it fell out of a time warp from an alternate 1991.

Anyway, this week is going to be a big catch-up week since Saturday was mostly spent playing video games for the first time in a while. Oh well. I will say, though, that it certainly beats working.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Birthday Stuff

It was my birthday today. We went to a bunch of toy stores and basically didn't find much, although we did discover a posthumous comedy album from Mitch Hedberg called Do You Believe in Gosh? from Comedy Central records. Apparently this was recorded in 2005, two months before he died. If they're releasing a live set not meant to be made into an album for one of the greatest comedians that never really managed to be all he could, it can only mean one thing. They're making a ton of money from those other two albums. (Also, it's probably very funny, I haven't listened to it yet.)

Also, the Ontario LEGO store has the classic LEGO figure 5-pack-- you know, with the old-timey red astronaut, a classic fire fighter, and some other figures. At $19.99 for 5 figures, I passed. I thought it was going to be $10, and it wasn't. Thankfully there was a Fazoli's nearby so at least dinner would be about as exotic as one might hope.

I also didn't notice Rock Band 2 at any of the many places I went. I did see the massive Viva Pinata Trouble in Paradise strategy guide, and a lot of presell tags for this week's Star Wars: The Force Unleashed release. Which I still look forward to, despite an almost certainty that it's going to be (at best) average.

We also hit up this one area to check out a used book store (which we opted not to peruse) and a little CD shop (which was closed) in front of a giant dirt pit. I think it was in Pamona. Pamona sucks.

Am now working on the various blogs and pages for the Monday readership. I'd rather be playing Dig Dug some more.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Galactic Heroes: A Movie (as opposed to The Movie)

Next to the main action figure line, my favorite thing about the modern Star Wars endless ocean of toys is the Galactic Heroes line. If you don't collect it, allow me to give you a brief history.

1999-2001: Hasbro comes up with idea, unpainted prototypes leak to eBay. Company is hesitant to release any. A line of kiddie-friendly Jurassic Park Jr. toys is selling seemingly well, but they're a little bit smaller.

2002: First batch of "Playskool" Star Wars toys are released. 6 products in all, each include a vehicle or creature and an array of mini figures. Prices are awesome-- $6 got you 2 figures and 2 vehicles, $15 got you 3-4 figures and a big vehicle, and $30 got you the Falcon with 4 figures. The line ended before 2003 was up, but product was (un)sold through at least 2004.

2004: Line returns as a series of 2-packs and some repackaged vehicles, this time called "Galactic Heroes." The vehicles are basically dropped by the end of 2005 until reissues start in late 2007.

2008: Vehicles galore, a Slave Leia, Grand Moff Tarkin, and other bizarre choices make Galactic Heroes one of the most consistently interesting toy lines. I shot some of the vehicles-- the X-wing and the Darth Vader's TIE Fighter-- in the video below.

If you're a fan, Hasbro expanded the line to include Toy Box Heroes (Toy Story, 2008), Robot Heroes (Transformers, 2007-present), Combat Heroes (G.I. Joe, 2008), Superhero Squad (Marvel properties, 2006-present), and there will probably be more.

The most fascinating thing about the line to me is that from 2002-2008, the line has had a basically uniform look, however it appears the facial sculpting is going to start changing as Hasbro releases figures from The Clone Wars this Fall. Well, it was fun while it lasted, now it's going to look different. Still, it's a fantastic line.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

AZ Food Round-Up: The Chuckbox

As the month started, I made it a point to hit up a number of eateries while I was in Arizona. You may not believe this, but the state is surprisingly packed with unique places to eat in addition to being the single greatest place for toy runs, ever. Near ASU in Tempe, AZ is a place called The Chuckbox.

Inside, the garbage cans look like recycled barrels, you sit on a crate, and there are a couple of cocktail cabinet arcade games in varying stages of decay. Also, two flat-screen TVs. Outside, it looks a little run down. Inside, it also looks a little run down, but they've since repaired some cracked glass while maintaining its rustic appearance. The look is meant to evoke an old west feel, which is something you see less and less of in Arizona as it ups its California-wannabe-ness.

The cuisine varies from meat on a bun to a bun with some meat on it. Also, there's a variety of fried sides, like fries, onion rings, and zucchini. Booze and soda are also served, plus there's a big salad bar-esque array of toppings for your food.

And it's good. Did I mention that? Well, it is. The burgers are about $4-$6, with your choice of white or wheat buns-- unless they run out of wheat, which they frequently do. Sides sold separately. I've tried a few dishes, and would suggest trying the BBQ Chicken Sandwich or, if you're particularly hungry, a Great Big One. The burger is indeed great and big, and since you have to dump your own stuff on it you're probably going to like it better than if you couldn't.

After you order, there's a big sign saying "wait here for food." Due to lines, a lot of people may be waiting there as they grill your food right in front of you and manage to fully cook it in just a few minutes.

As burger joints go, this is one of your best options if you're in the area. The food is fresh, the service is quick, the pricing is decent, and most important of all, you'll probably be ruined for fast food hamburgers once you try it. Mostly I just wanted to show you the sign in the photo, but I'd suggest making it appointment eating if you're in Arizona.

LOCATION: 202 E University Dr, Tempe, AZ 85281
POINTS OF INTEREST NEARBY: Arizona State University, Eastside Records, Ash Avenue Comics & Books. Eastside Records is another place you should stop if you're interested in artists not carried by the majority of music stores and new or old vinyl.
NOTES: There used to be a second location in Scottsdale, but it closed a few years ago and is now an upscale pizza place.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Zip Cola Challenge (in LEGO-vision)

A while back, I was in a comedy group. From that comedy group, we tried to spin off a podcast. It didn't come to be, but one of the sketches we've recorded has been animated with some toys (as animated by Shaun Clayton). It has the most spectacular brick-based special effects you'll ever see.