Saturday, September 26, 2015

GadgetJax Reviews: Some kind of animated movie that will not be named in order to avoid spoiling a joke.

I've spent the last 3 months telling everyone and their mother that I would get around to reviewing Inside Out because it's my new favorite Pixar movie, but I keep forgetting for one reason or another. Well, now that I've got that idea in my head, how about we finally review it?

Nope. Nada. I'm not gonna review it. Let's look at Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs instead.



"Nyerrgh! But Jax, why not?!? You've been promising to do one for it for forever! Ugh, I'm boycotting all your stuff now, you liar!"
    While it is true I've been planning it as a review for a while, I feel like Inside Out is one of those movies that you can't really give a review to; 80% of the magic behind what makes it so good is the sentimental value of it, which means I'll be dodging spoilers throughout the entire review.
    Besides, it's fun to troll around with your expectations. That's what makes me meta!

-

I'm sure most of you have heard about Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, but there's one thing about it I'm sure most of you don't know; the movie is based off of a children's book! Odd, right? Well, don't worry at all about that fact because the movie doesn't follow the plot of the book at all.
    Wait, an animated movie based off of a book that has almost nothing in common with it's source material? Where have I heard THAT before?!? Hhhhhhhhnnnnngggg!!!!
    Don't worry about it for now. The book is a very basic tale and doesn't outline anything important that would affect the movie (unlike another 'unspeakable' movie), so the movie feels like an expansion of the original story of the book instead of a re-telling of it.
    Our story starts on a small island called 'Swallow Falls' and follows the story of Flint Lockwood, a wannabe inventor who is discriminated as a child because his ideas are dumb. There's a short montage of some of Flint's inventions over his childhood - all of which have disastrous results, to be honest - and then the movie leads straight to Flint's later years. Since Swallow Falls is a distant island, food is very limited, so many of the locals eat nothing but sardines and the like. Seeing his big chance to demonstrate his inventing skills, Flint builds a machine that can create food using nothing but water as a base.
    It's pretty obvious how this will end, right? Flint's machine ends up rocketing to the sky (I won't bother explaining it) where he believes it's gone for good, but the wator vapor in the clouds causes the machine to start rapidly producing food - which then rains down to earth. Understand? Good. Let's cover the good & bad now.
    The good about this movie is that it's a visual masterpiece. Is it as aesthetically beautiful as something like 'Epic' or 'Rio'? No, but the art style of this movie is focus on absorbing you with lots of colors at once, which matches the theme of the movie very well. There is a lot of attention to detail on the design of all the giant food in the movie, and despite how absurd the premise of the movie is, it makes the design feel quite real. As for the characters themselves...
    ...they could be best described as 'turbo-charged'. Practically everyone in the movie is animated at a mile-a-minute, which makes everything feel quick-paced and lively. There are even a few intentionally slow jokes that are downright hilarious because of how they contrast from the feel of the story!
    Speaking of jokes, this is an animated comedy for the most part. A good deal of this movie focuses on visual humor with the raining food, but there are a few other kinds of jokes thrown in as well. Most of these are funny, but then there are the occasional 'toilet' jokes that are absolutely awful. Some good, some bad, but what can you expect in a day and age like this?
    The one thing about this movie I don't like, though, is that the ending is quite unsatisfactory. It doesn't end on a cliffhanger, per-se, but it'll leave you pretty annoyed. I would personally recommend watching the 1st and 2nd movies back-to-back because it gives the movie a seamless feel - and the fact that the 2nd one takes place 8 seconds after the events of the 1st. No joke. 





Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs should be the model for all future animated movies based off of books, as it takes the original story and builds upon it instead of altering it around. Even though the over-exaggerated animation & few instances of toilet humor could drive off the average viewer, I sincerely recommend this movie to everyone out there.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Minions Review by Zack

Minions

The minions are back at it again and those indestructible idiots are looking for a new boss...

It was awesome as all get out, really touching and, oddly enough, reminds us of how human inhuman things are. 


The origins of minion kind are going to be on DVD soon so get ready to R.O.F.L. 

-Zack

Thursday, September 3, 2015

GadgetJax's Definitive Guide to Dance Dance Revolution!








Man, has it really been a month since the Lock-in party at the Highland branch? That thing was amazing! The cake was cool (even though I haven't read Harry Potter), the activities were fun, but what topped off the event for me was Dance Dance Revolution!

Dance Dance Revolution started out as a simple Arcade game released in 1998 by Konami. The premise of the game is simple: step on arrows that match the beat of a song played on the machine. Hitting notes correctly would give you points and raise your groove bar, while missing notes would decrease. While practically anyone can pick it up and play it because of the simplicity of it, DDR is by no means a casual game. The franchise is infamous for being one of the hardest video games you'll ever play, as the hard songs can force you to step at over 400 beats-per-minute, not to mention just how much of a workout the game is when played at a hard difficulty. 

    Because of how unique and fun the game was when it released, DDR became one of Konami's biggest franchises at the time, causing their income to increase by 270 percent upon the release of DDR Extreme!! ...but since then, DDR has sort-of declined in popularity. The most recent DDR game was DDR 2013, which is a Japanese exclusive, and the latest DDR game in English was DDRII, which was a 2011 release!! So, if you want to play DDR nowadays, what can you do? 

    That was a rhetorical question, goofball. You're reading this article, so you clearly know that I'm gonna give you the best DDR prep tips, right?

STEP 1: CHOOSING YOUR CONSOLE

While DDR has been released on several consoles over the past 15+ years it's been around, the 3 consoles with the biggest DDR libraries would be the PlayStation 2, the Nintendo Wii, and the XBOX 360. If you're already a passionate gamer, you'll probably just choose the console that you already own, but if you don't have any of these 3, then I'll show you which one to get.
    Here's a list of all the DDR titles you can find on these 3 consoles...

PlayStation 2:
Dance Dance Revolution DDRMAX 1 & 2
Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 1 & 2
Dance Dance Revolution Supernova 1 & 2
Dance Dance Revolution X & X2

XBOX360:
Dance Dance Revolution Universe 1, 2, and 3
Dance Dance Revolution (2010)

Wii:
Dance Dance Revolution // Hottest Party 1, 2, and 3
Dance Dance Revolution (2010)
Dance Dance Revolution II

It should be obvious from here that the PlayStation 2 has the most game to choose from. The PlayStation 2 has the best Konami Original selection & is generally balanced for each music style out there. As for the XBOX360, I would not personally recommend this console because the first 2 Universe games are riddled with bugs and Universe 3 has a generally poor song selection. The Wii is also pretty good, but be warned: Dance Pads for the Wii connect through the GameCube cable slots on the console. Some Wii models released within the recent years do not have GameCube cable ports, meaning you can't play with a Dance Pad on there.
   
This article will be assuming that the PlayStation 2 will be the console chosen.

STEP 2: CHOOSING THE GAME

There are a ton of DDR games, but it'll obviously be hard to get 'em all, right? Well, now is the perfect opportunity to go over which game is the best to get. Most of the games listed on PS2 can be found around $5 at your local GameStop, which is nice because the average DDR game has around 60 songs to play.

Song Description Key
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Konami Remix (A liscensed song that has been remixed by one of Konami's artists)
Konami Original (A DDR-exclusive song that has been written by one of Konami's artists)
Game Music (A song from a Konami-developed video game)
Boss Song (A song in the game that is exceptionally difficult to complete. Final Boss Songs are the hardest songs in the game, Primary Boss Songs are songs that are labeled as Boss songs but not the final one, and Secondary Boss Songs are other songs that are notably hard to finish, but not labeled as a Boss Song.)

Notable DDRMAX songs: (click here to see full songlist)

I Like To Move It
Darude Sandstorm
Rhythm & Police K.O.G. G3 MIX (Konami Remix)
AM-3P (Konami Original)
Jam & Marmalade (Konami Original)
Matsuri Japan (Konami Original)
Gradiusic Cyber AMD G5 MIX (Konami Original; Gradius Game Music)
Trip Machine Climax (Konami Original; Secondary Boss Song)
Candy Star (Konami Original; Primary Boss Song)
Max 300 (Konami Original; Final Boss Song)

Misc: DDRMAX doesn't contain too many liscensed tracks, and the game is pretty difficult as well. There's no Beginner mode, either. I would only recommend this to someone who wants a classic DDR Experience at an insane difficulty.


Conga Feeling
Dream A Dream
Let's Groove
Long Train Runnin' (Konami Remix)
D2R (Konami Original)
TSUGARU (Konami Original)
End of the Century (Konami Original; Secondary Boss Song; Beethoven Remix)
Paranoia KCET (Konami Original)
Kakumei (Konami Original; Chopin Remix)
MAXX UNLIMITED (Konami Original; Final Boss Song)

Misc: While DDRMAX2 contains a few more liscensed tracks, I would say that DDRMAX 1 is the better choice. Sure, you don't get as many popular songs, but I would take quality over quantity any day.


Believe (Konami Remix)
Kick The Can (Konami Original; Can-can Remix)
Kids In America
Ladies' Night
Move Your Feet - Junior Senior
The Reflex
YMCA
V [For Extreme] (Konami Original; Vivaldi Remix)
Drop Out (Konami Original; Secondary Boss Song)
Trip Machine (Konami Original)
Absolute (Konami Original)
Maximizer (Konami Original; Primary Boss Song)
The Legend of MAXX (Konami Original; Final Boss Song)

Misc: DDR Extreme excels in a good blend between Konami Originals and Liscensed music. The game is generally easier than the average DDR game, but the secondary and final boss songs make up for it. Trust me, they feel impossible.


Captain Jack // Grandale Remix (Konami Remix)
Cartoon Heroes // Speedy Mix (Konami Remix)
I will Survive (Konami Remix)
La Copa De La Vida
Oops! ...I Did It Again (Konami Remix) ((Ugh, this song is awful. It's popular, but awful.))
Play That Funky Music
Speed Over Beethoven (Beethoven Remix)
1998 (Konami Original)
Candy Heart (Konami Original; Remix of Candy Star)
Heaven is a '57 metallic gray (Konami Original)
La Bamba (Konami Remix)
SAKURA (Konami Original; Secondary Boss Song)
TwinBee Generation X (Konami Original; Twinbee Game Music)
Burnin' The Floor (Konami Original)
Dynamite Rave (Konami Original)
Afronova from Nonstop Megamix (Konami Original)
Paranoia Survivor MAX (Konami Original; Final Boss Song)

Misc: If Extreme had a great balance between Konami music and liscensed music, then Extreme 2 is absolutely perfect. Bring this game to a party and you're sure to please everyone. The Konami Original selection is also some of the best in the entire console series, only second to DDR Konamix on the original PS1.

Notable DDR Supernova songs:

Battle without Honor or Humanity
Centerfold (Konami Remix)
Funkytown
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Jerk it out
Let's Dance
Since U Been Gone
Flow // True Style (Konami Original)
True Love (Konami Original)
Curus (Konami Original)
No. 13 (Konami Original; Beethoven Remix)
RED ZONE (Konami Original)
Xepher (Konami Original; Secondary Boss Song)
Blue Impulse [For EXTREME] (Konami Original)
Matsuri // J Summer Mix (Konami Original)
Healing-D-Vision (Konami Original; Primary Boss Song)
Fascination MAXX (Konami Original; Final Boss Song)
CHAOS (Konami Original; Primary Boss Song)

Misc: Supernova is a great mix, mostly because of the time-based selection of music. Most of the liscenses are from the '60s and '70s, while most of the Konami Originals first debuted right around the time of this game's release. Also, the Boss songs in this game are disgusting. Fascination MAXX in particular features 800BPM streams!!


Eternus
Le Freak (aka Freak Out)
Take On Me
Arrabbiata (Konami Original)
Freeway Shuffle (Konami Original)
Bag (Konami Original; Imposter Boss Song)
Calico Cat Rock (Konami Original)
La Bamba (Konami Remix; Not the same version as the one in Extreme 2)
Trim (Konami Original; Secondary Boss Song)
Fascination // Eternal Mix (Konami Original; Final Boss Song)
NGO (Konami Original; Primary Boss Song)
Trip Machine Pheonix (Konami Original; Primary Boss Song)

Misc: I do not recommend Supernova 2. There aren't too many good liscenses, and the Konami Original selection is pretty average. It's not the worst DDR mix, but there just isn't enough substance to make you want to jam to it.


30 Lives // Up-Up-Down-Dance Mix (Konami Remix; Contra Code Parody)
Dub-i-dub // 2008 X-edit
U can't touch this
Blind Justice // Torn Souls, Hurt Faiths (Konami Original; piece from 'The Epic of Zektbach')
Bloody Tears IIDX (Konami Original; Castlevania Game Music)
Poseidon (Konami Original)
Saber Wing (Konami Original; Secondary Boss Song)
Trust // DDR Mix (Konami Remix; Gurren Lagann Main Theme)
Trigger (Konami Original; Primary Boss Song)
Pluto (Konami Original; Seconadry Boss Song)
Pluto Relinquish (Konami Original; Final Boss Song)

Misc: DDRX could be described as a gold mine, but not in a good way. There are a few really good songs like Blind Justice and U Can't Touch This, but there is so much mediocrity in the rest of the soundtrack that I would just say to pass this one. On a side note, you should know that DDRX uses a 1-20 scale for song difficulty instead of 1-10. Most songs have been adjusted specifically for this rating chart. For example, U Can't Touch This is normally a 7 chart, but X re-rates it as a 10.


Daft Punk is Playing at my House
Ice Ice Baby
Let's Get It Started
Viva La Vida
A Brighter Day (Konami Original)
G.R. Special Challenge charts for AM-3P, B4U, BRILLIANT2U, Dynamite Rave, and D2R.
Freeze (Konami Original)
Keep on Movin' (Konami Original)
La Bamba (Konami Remix; This is the version from Supernova, not Extreme 2)
La Senorita Virtual (Konami Original)
MARS WAR 3 (Konami Original)
Nadeshiko (Konami Original)
Ubertreffen (Konami Original)
Dance Dance Revolution Main Theme (Konami Original; Secondary Boss Song; Main Theme from DDR First Mix)
Pluto: The First (Konami Original; Final Boss Song)
Kimono Princess (Konami Original; Infamous for internet parodies)
Roppongi Evolved (Konami Original; Secondary Boss Song)

Misc: Despite the fact that this is a sequel to DDRX, this is a surprisingly good mix. There are some pretty good liscensed songs, and the Konami Original selection is also nice. This is a solid pick if you want some variety, and you're sure to pull out your hair while trying to beat Pluto: The First.

Out of all the DDR games to choose from, I would say that Extreme 2 and Supernova are the best to get, followed by Extreme 1. Max is the best game to pick if you want a dedicated challenge, and DDRX2 is also pretty fun. Remember: The PlayStation 2 can play PS1 discs, so you can use DDR 1st Mix and DDR Konamix on the PS2!
Now that you know exactly what DDR game you'll be playing, it's time to find the thing that makes DDR so special in the first place: The Dance Pad!

STEP 3: CHOOSING YOUR DANCE PAD

The whole reason this game is called Dance Dance Revolution is so you can dance, so you'll obviously need a dance pad to get maximum enjoyment from the game. Yes, you could play just using the basic PS2 Controller, but what's the fun in that? Playing like that makes the game too easy, not to mention that it involves no dancing.
    There are 3 main Types of Dance Pads to select from: Soft Dance Pads, Foam-Filled Dance Pads, and Metal Dance Pads. This picture below lists their appearance.


Soft pads are the most common pads you can find, as they are usually packaged into the console games. The pads are made of a pretty basic material, almost like a rug. These dance pads aren't too bad, but they move around very easily while playing and they're not very good for constant step streams. These pads can usually be purchased online for about $20, so they're the cheapest pad variety out there, but the quality may not be up to par with what a serious DDR player would need. I recommend this pad variety for players that will play on easier difficulties, mostly because easy mode doesn't cause the pad to move around as much.
   Foam-Filled pads contain pieces of foam inserted inside the pad itself, which keeps the pad straight and prevents it from moving as much. This pad variety is the most affordable kind if you want a serious challenge from DDR, and it's the kind of pad I use at home. These pads are a bit more expensive, usually between $35 and $45, but the price is honestly worth it. Besides, the average video game controller is $50, so this dance pad isn't THAT bad of a deal. I recommend this pad kind to anyone that wants to enjoy DDR at brutal difficulty levels.
   Metal pads are exactly what they sound like. Most of them are designed around the official dance pads you'll find in arcades, and as such, they're the best kind of pad you can find. Some metal pads also come with built-in barrier bars, simulating the appearance of the arcade pads. Of course, since the pad is made of metal, it's price is pretty high. A typical metal pad will be about $100, and probably even more if you get one that has bonuses like multible console cable connectors and handlebars. I don't recommend getting a metal pad unless you want to play DDR like a king.

Okay, I think we've covered everything now. So, once you start playing, what'll a serious game look like? Well, here's a video of my current DDR setup at home. I play on the PS2, I use a Foam-Filled pad, and the games I own are DDRMAX, Extreme 1, and Extreme 2.




(Shameless plug.)

Pretty good, huh? It's takes lots of practice to get good at Dance Dance Revolution, but it's worth it. Dance Dance Revolution is one of the very few video games out there that makes you feel good about yourself - not to mention that it's a great workout when playing at a high difficulty level!