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Minecraft: Why You Should Live in Block Land

27 Sep

Minecraft is an awesome game.  Those of you who play Minecraft, you know what I mean.  Those of you who don’t play Minecraft, I’ll fill you in.  It’s what every middle school kid should be doing instead of homework.

Minecraft is a 3-D game made entirely out of cubes.  It can be played on the iPod, Xbox 360, and the computer.  This game is like a computer version of Lego and was developed in late 2009.  All three versions have been updated in the last month.   I installed a mod called Tekkit. It’s pretty cool.

You can play in Single Player mode or join a group at a server online in Multiplayer mode.  Skitscape’s public server is up and running. However, the spleef sector (one of my favorites) of the server is closed. The IP address is playSkitScape.com.

A creepah! (it’s a plush toy, yay!)

If that’s not convincing enough, watch the videos  that the Minecraft players post on YouTube.  I will  be updating you on these videos in another post.

Now, back to those of you who want to know more about Minecraft. Its front title screen looks a little like this:

The Minecraft Title Screen. The first thing I think when I see this is, “Cube land here I come!”

As far as Minecraft goes, you either “get it,” and you like it, or you miss the point entirely, and you want to change it.  My friend Micheal came over during the weekend, and he played Minecraft for the first time. Then he said,  “We should make a Minecraft Two, where the goal is to kill each other and get coins to get new weapons to kill each other, and nothing should be made out of blocks because that would be boring!”

“Wai-” I started to say, but he cut me off.

Yeeee-hah! Steve rides the Enderdragon!

“And when we get on, we can just throw bombs at everyone and kill them like that!” and he snapped his fingers.

I thought, “O.K .the entire point of Minecraft is not to kill one another. That’s like just about every other video game! And, second of all, the fact that it’s made up out of blocks is unique!!!”

An NPC bad guy!

My friend Larry, though, totally gets the concept of the game. He is always talking about what he has built. He keeps his fingers crossed that the next update will have armor because he really wants to see himself with armor on. Our friend, Brad, has just downloaded the full version for the iPod.

Before school today, Brad asks, “How do I mine gold?”

Larry answers, “With a pickaxe.”

“But when I mine it with my pickaxe, I don’t get any gold ingots!” Brad says.

“What kind of pickaxe is it?” I ask (hint, hint, wink, wink).

“Stone.”

“You can only mine it with an iron pickaxe!” exclaims Larry.

“How am I supposed to know?”

“Here, just come over to my house tomorrow, and Larry and I will explain the entire game to you,” I say.

You can buy a poster or t-shirt at Minecraft.net. This is a picture of the world according to Minecraft.

There’s a place for both building and PvP in “Minecraftia.” Some servers are creative, and you can’t be killed there.  Others servers are survival, and you can battle there.  You can even make your own server, where you  designate your system as a shared, central point where other players can access the same game world.  My friend Craig is going to set up a server for us to play together.  Craig has challenged me to a PvP fight. I’ll post the results when we’re finished.   This is a good example of how Minecraft lets you meet your friends after school and hang out without ever leaving your house.

If this hasn’t convinced you to download this incredible game, then I don’t know what will. However, if you are convinced, then just go to Mincraft.net to download it for only $26.95. That’s it! $26.95, and then you have it forever!  No monthly fees, no cost for updates. Remember, living in block land does not mean you are limited to just cubes.  Be creative, and mine, craft, and build!

For all you science nerds, here is the Periodic Table with a severely limited number of elements, complements of Minecraft.

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More Proof Japan is Awesome

12 May

     One of the things I’ve put on my bucket list is to travel around the world to various destinations, one of which is Tokyo. The culture of that island nation is fascinating. They have contributed greatly to the world in art, science, technology, and philosophy. I often find myself focusing on their technology, though. Example: Video Games.  What video game is that crazy Hunter thinking about now? Okami, a game for PS2 and Wii created by Capcom, CriWare, and ReadyAtDawn.
    Consider the storyline:  Long ago, in a peaceful village known as Kamiki, a ritual was held every year of sacrificing a young maiden to the great eight-headed serpent, Orochi. On the 100th year of this horrible rite, two brave souls stepped forward to put an end to Orochi’s reign: the great warrior Nagi and an enigmatic wolf known as Shiranui. They marched into Orochi’s lair and killed it by getting it drunk and cutting its heads off. Sadly, in the fight, Shiranui was killed. The heroic lupine fighter was immortalized as a statue in Kamiki Village. One hundred years have passed since then, and darkness is stirring again. The statue of Shiranui is brought to life as Okami Amaterasu, god of the sun. (That’s you.) Amaterasu, aka Ammy, must defeat the evil beings plaguing the earth once again, as well as restoring people’s faith in the gods.

Yeah, your dog can fetch, play dead, whatever. Can your dog perform exorcisms? I didn't think so!

     This game is, in every right, amazing. The graphics are like Japanese art.  It has, in fact, been featured in the Smithsonian’s recent “Art of Video Games” exhibit.  Link to http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/archive/2012/games/.  The music is beautiful. The story is magnificent, as well as being based on Japanese Shinto mythology. What really miffs me, though, is that none of my friends have heard of this game. (Then again, most of them have Xbox 360’s, but even the ones who do have a PS2 or Wii still have never heard of it.) It has received multiple awards and is designed for two popular, but different, systems.  However, it’s practically invisible. Most people just know it as “that game with the wolf on it.”
    Among the people of the Internet, the game has just recently sparked some popularity due to extremely well-known Youtube gamer Chuggaaconroy recording a 100% walkthrough with commentary.  It inspired me enough to buy the game, and I’m sure many other nerds got their copy as well. If you stumble upon this article, get the game, and love it as much as I do.  Please spread awareness. Thank you.
    Getting back to why this game is awesome, it has… (hmm, where to begin?) several minigames that involve fishing, digging, and destroying things–plus, sidequests galore.  Almost every NPC in the game has a sidequest-related purpose.  All these off-the-beaten-path missions net you “praise orbs” you can use to power up your health, money, and more. 

Meet Orochi. I have a feeling you're not going to like him.

    Now if you go up onto the upper-right hand corner of your browser and search images of Amaterasu, you’ll probably see a weird, fiery gadget on her back. That is what is known as a divine instrument.  It’s a weapon.  There are three types of weapons, each with its own delicious flavor of pain: 1) Reflectors – These mirrors are standard in power for attacking and can deflect enemy attacks. 2) Rosaries – Strings of beads are surprisingly good weapons, very fast, and capable of rapid fire bead blasting. 3) Glaives – They are swords. Enough said.
    Amaterasu’s arsenal of attacks doesn’t end there, though. The real deal that makes this game so awesome is the Celestial Brush. Once you cue it up, various symbols can be drawn to trigger a great many abilities. However, you only have one brush power from the start, you must find your fellow gods to reclaim the other techniques. Here are a few:

Sunrise – Mastered by Amaterasu, god of the sun.
Draw a circle in the sky to make the sun appear and make it the day’s beginning.

Rejuvenation – Mastered by Yomigami, god of restoration.
Scribble in something broken and watch it reappear!

Power Slash –  Mastered by Tachigami, god of rending.
A straight line becomes a sword that slashes through the hardest of obstacles.

There are more, but I wouldn’t want to give spoilers. Then again, you are on the Internet…

A city in the game settles down in the evening. I freakin' love the art direction in this game.

Recapping, this game is awesome. If it’s not a ten out of ten, it’s pretty darn close. So, the next time you want to rid a country of evil while looking at awesome graphics and listening to beautiful music, go find that game with the wolf on it.
                            Regards,
                            Hunter

Game of Epic Proportions

8 Feb

Hey, everybody, It’s the Nintendo fanboy of the Teenwebzine, Hunter, here with a Game Review.  This time, it’s a much-anticipated third-party jewel for Wii, “Epic Mickey”!

The game's logo. Or a spilled blob of ink. You tell me.

Do you remember Oswald the Lucky Rabbit? Not many people do, probably because he was a cartoon character from the 1920s. He was Walt Disney’s greatest triumph back then. But, over time, Universal slowly took control over the funny bunny, leaving Walt in a predicament. That’s when Mickey came in. For about 80 years, Mickey Mouse gained more popularity and fans than Disney could have imagined. But then, in February of 2006, a number of assets were traded between Disney and Universal Studios. One of the trades involved Disney’s ESPN sportscaster Al Michaels being traded for Oswald. Walt Disney’s daughter Diane Disney Miller said, “When Bob [Iger] was named CEO, he told me he wanted to bring Oswald back to Disney, and I appreciate that he is a man of his word. Having Oswald around again is going to be a lot of fun.” Diane was right. The company has a lot in store for the now-very-lucky rabbit. The most notable is Disney Epic Mickey for Nintendo Wii systems, where he is a main protagonist and Mickey’s older half-brother.

The game starts with Mickey Mouse noticing something strange about his bedroom mirror. He falls inside and ends up in the lair of the sorcerer Yen Sid (which, by the way, is Disney spelled backwards).  Apparently, the wizard has a lot of free time on his hands, ‘cause he has created a miniature sculpture of… well, some sort of place filled with forgotten Disney characters and ideas. Mickey then accidentally spills paint and thinner on this world, which forms a great thinner monster called The Shadow Blot, which pulls him into the world Yen Sid created, known as the Wasteland. Needless to say, he must find his way out.

Perhaps the most groundbreaking, innovative aspect of the game is the magic brush. The brush is any artist’s or vandal’s dream come true – an endless supply of paint or thinner can spout from it. Paint can be used to create platforms and items or befriend enemies. Thinner is perfect for making stuff disappear or killing baddies. Yes, this even works with bosses. And depending on how you use your powers and interact with Wasteland, the more changes occur. You can gain paint and thinner capacity depending on your choices and change the opinions of the characters. From hero to scrapper, the choice is yours.

All famous Disney Characters (Donald, Goofy, Daisy) appear as robots. Really demented-looking robots.

The worlds bring a healthy dose of nostalgia (a dilapidated TomorrowLand, Skull Island from Peter Pan, etc.) while always posing a difficult challenge around every turn. The music is spectacular and always fits the place where you hear it. When enemies approach, they have separate music for that, too. The enemies come in two varieties: The Blot’s inky underlings, the Blotlings, and the Mad Doctor’s robotic Beetleworx. But, blot or bot, all the enemies are very creatively invented. And, if you like sidequests, this is the game that you have been waiting for!

Every silver lining has a cloud, and unfortunately there are quite a few in Epic Mickey. First of all, this is a very dark game, in both meanings of the word. First, it is notably more sinister than something you’d expect from Mickey Mouse. Also, the game is so dark that, with my cruddy basement TV, I can barely see anything sometimes. Another thing is that this game has a lot of glitches. Sometimes, Mickey will be sent flying for no reason, and sometimes, a simple jump from a strange platform will catapult him to the skies. (But you can use that to your advantage…) One of the weirder glitches I’ve seen is in the main hub of the haunted swamp world, Bog Easy. At the loop, the music stopped abruptly. I couldn’t get it to play again. This also occurs in a certain area of the game where giant tentactle-like pillars are terrorizing Wasteland. Hmm.

All things considered, Epic Mickey is a great game. I highly suggest it to any gamer, casual or hardcore. My final judgment: 8.75/10! See you next time.

Unplugged! Two Weeks of Misery

13 Dec

Having a meltdown from lack of technology? You are not alone.

Life without gadgets? Preposterous! Why would anyone want to go outside and expose himself to sunlight? Or visit borrrrring people in real life? Well, for the sake of writing about it, of course. And because it’s good for you (like eating vegetables). So, come on, suck it up, because you know it’s time to unplug yourself from all your electronic gadgets. Tell us what you do with your time after that, and whether it was worth it. Take the pledge:
” I _____do hereby voluntarily renounce my technological activities for a period of not less than one week/month for the purpose of experiencing the sensation of being unplugged and reporting on said condition and the resulting side effects for educational purposes.” Read what happened when our local gaming addict/writer Hunter took the challenge. — Chris

A few weeks ago, the dictator of the TeenWebZine my boss Chris told me I’d be perfect for an article we’d be doing to start off the site. I was excited! Then I realized that it involved “unplugging,” and detaching myself from technology. What am I, Amish?!? Knowing there was no way out, I did what any self-respecting gaming addict would do in this situation: I procrastinated. Then the Vocal Music teacher at my school demanded that the seventh graders all put on a needlessly entertaining music program. (Why do we even need these musicals? We have enough music and entertainment from the Internet!) For about a song-and-a-half, I didn’t sing. But then, I noticed Dad holding a video camera, recording for my mom, who was lucky enough to not be able to make it to the program. Afterwards, I lost technology privileges ‘cause of my “poor decisions.” That’s when I realized my mind had been made up for me. I had to bite the bullet and UNPLUG.

On the first day, I had nothing to do but stare up at the ceiling. I noticed that a certain area in the basement had an odd faded spot near the computer. Then I looked down. I craved to check my email. I yearned to watch a funny Youtube video. Heck, I’d even settle for a round of solitaire, but alas, I was under oath. I knew that these two weeks would be very, very, long. I managed to entertain myself with some books, and I often decided to take a jog around the block. But finally, I discovered that that weekend, my Boy Scout troop was going on a campout.

The weekend expedition was a healthy break from the tantalizing beckoning of electronic devices. In fact, the only electronics that I think we used were our flashlights. The campout tested our survival skills by having us build our own shelters. I built a low- -to-the-ground cocoon-type hovel. It shielded me from the wind, and it kept warmth in pretty well, so I had a good time. Sadly, I had to go back home on Sunday, and be subjected to constant taunting by technology.

The day I returned home, I discovered the one thing more boring than losing technology for two weeks: being dragged along to the mall for an hour. Well at least I got to go to the food court, so I can’t complain. Oh, wait! Yes I can! I got a terrible case of indigestion after the plate of spaghetti from the food court!
The next day, I learned after school that our computer was acting up. Dad took it to his friend, Derek the computer guru, so thankfully, I had one less distraction for the next day-and-a-half. When Derek returned, my dad checked his email while I fought off tears. When he and the computer guru went upstairs, I just stood there for a minute, trying to keep myself from the computer. I even heard it calling my name… “Hunter! Hunter!” Well, it was either the computer or Dad calling me upstairs because Mom was home. I crossed my fingers and ran upstairs, hoping it was the latter. Thankfully, it was. That night, she showed me the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book. Finished it in an hour. Not bad, but chuckling at Greg’s ridiculous escapades and morbidly dysfunctional family could not distract me from our repaired computer.

How long could this go on? Only until the weekend. Then it would be two weeks without technology. Of course, being a caveman has its benefits, like how I now have witnessed more beauty in nature, and I have also taken new interests in other sections of the Reader’s Digest, always an interesting read. A truly indescribable experience it is, unplugging. For an interesting sense of reality, try it sometime. You might just like it. If you don’t… you’re probably a lot like me.    — Hunter

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