Monday, June 29, 2009

Random Weirdness - Metal Monday

Yes, I like metal, that's a "no shit" statement, but my musical tastes are a bit more eclectic than that. I do listen to progressive rock (Rush, Yes, The Moody Blues), '80s rock (Def Leppard, Scorpions), and some J-Rock (JAM Project, Orange Range), among other things. When I'm relaxing, I listen to Enya or Sade. Old school Michael Jackson (RIP) is all right with me. Hell, I listen to Vixen (a female hair metal band). And I do have one guilty pleasure when it comes to music. I listen to ABBA. That's right - I'm a full fledged, heterosexual man and I listen to ABBA. I think their songs are well written and the two girls in the group sing lovely. I'm not ashamed to admit it, and anyone who thinks that's retarded can go use a live grenade as a butt plug. It just that most of that music doesn't fit with my blog, so I don't include it. Why do I mention this? Because this will probably be the only time you will ever see an ABBA song on this blog. You see, this symphonic metal group, Therion, did a cover of one of their songs. When I read the title on the video, I thought this was a load of bullshit, but they seriously did an ABBA cover. This video must be seen to be believed. To be honest, I still don't know what to make of this. (Correction: I know exactly what to think - WHAT THE FUCK IS UP WITH THIS?)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Slipstream - Savage Worlds

I picked up Slipstream when they released the hardcover version, which was a while back. It is one of the settings released by Pinnacle, the guys who made Savage Worlds. Since I found out about this game, last year, it kept screaming, "Buy me, goddamit!" So what is Slipstream? Do you remember the old Flash Gordon serials or the Filmation cartoon or 1980 movie with the Queen soundtrack? Actually, this would be a good test to find the age demographic of my readers, because I'm sure that no one under the age of 30 knows what the fuck I'm talking about. Slipstream is pulp sci-fi - rayguns, rocketships, robots, tyrants, and space pirates. This book embodies all the pulp action of those old serials, complete with appropriate Edges, rules variants, and enough worlds, aliens, and creatures to keep a good game going for a while. Of course, if you ever run out of content in the book, there are rules for creating your own world fragments (there are no planets in Slipstream, just their shattered remnants) and aliens to make sure you always have something new. Yet this book does have it's drawbacks. Clocking at just under 160 pages, it does have a lot of content, including the plot-point campaign (something found in every Savage Worlds campaign from Pinnacle), but I would say that's still not enough. For instance, the lack of a detailed, organized, and cohesive reference section for aliens is, probably, Slipstream's biggest weakness. There are numerous aliens in the game, but only nine races are really put into good detail: Anarchs, Babelonians, Bird Men, Earthlings, Lion Men, Psiclops, Robot Men, Valkyrians, and Septosians. All of them would make for good characters, except for the Septosians, who are giant slugs with arms, best known for smelling like onion farts (on a good day). Doesn't really sound like a heroic race, does it? What stumps me more is after these nine races, there is a listing of most (I'll get to that later) of the other major races found in the universe, which includes their home fragment, one descriptive sentence and a list of racial Edges/Hinderances for each race. That's it. Sometimes, that's servicable enough, but not always. Here's a couple of examples from the listings: Lupine (Lupos): wolf men... Pretty self explanatory, right? Now tell me what kind of alien this is: Vergelmirion (Vergilmir): small agile humanoid... Would you guess that these are lemur men? Not even in the entry for Vergilmir in the world fragments listing (later on in the book) gave a good description of them. It just said they were small, had prehensile tails, and liked shiny things. I actually found out what they looked like when I saw one in the figure flats .pdf file they released online. While some of the aliens aren't described well enough, others aren't even on the list. Take the Brockians. They're badger men and the only mention of them in the book is in an adventure in the plot-point campaign, where you meet a Brockian pirate captain. The pirate captain's stats show the Brockian's Edges/Hinderances, but why were they not listed with the other races? There's other races excluded from the list, but you get my point. Another thing, which I wouldn't consider a problem, really, is the plot-point campaign is a little different than in other Savage Worlds games. Take the Rippers game, for instance. The plot-point campaign in Rippers is pretty loose. A lot of the adventures don't actually require you to play them in any particular order, or at all, for that matter. But in Slipstream, the campaign plays out like an adventure serial, just like in the old films. That means once you finish an adventure, the most logical step is to move on to the next plot-point. Let's say, at the end of an adventure that you saved a lion man noble from Queen Anathraxa's soldiers, but he tells you that the queen sent out a fleet of warships to attack his home fragment of Simba. If you decided to go somewhere else to, say, find treasure or hunt down pirates, then go to Simba and stop the fleet, not only would you be too late, you'd look like a royal douchebag in the process. That's not how these heroes roll, bitches. While the serial nature does lend to the style of the genre you're playing, you can see how it leaves little room to do anything in between. With that in mind, I say this to all GMs: If you want to use the plot-point campaign, but you also would like to make your own adventures, save the campaign for later. You'll have more freedom that way and you can bring the long obligation of saving the universe on the players when everyone's good and ready. All complaints aside, I still like this game a lot. Regardless of its flaws, it did a lot of things right. Dashing space jockeys, bizzare creatures, a multitude of aliens, a tyrannical queen who drains the life-force of the men she sleeps with to stay young and beautiful (if I were to ever die, I would choose "death by hot sex"). This book really does capture the style of the genre perfectly, from the rules and backstory to the art and presentation. This book oozes pulp sci-fi. It has been long awaited by many and it delivers on many fronts. You can get a copy of this game just about anywhere: your local brick-and-mortar geek store (just order it if they don't have it), or you can go online and buy it (and other Savage Worlds products, in both print and .pdf formats) at the Studio2 Publishing online store. Now if Pinnacle releases a detailed supplement on all the alien races, we'll be good to go. Kaiser out

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Another Metal Moment Follow Up - Black Clouds and Silver Linings

Yes, so I purchased the new Dream Theater album and gave it a listen. Is it awesome? Should you get it? Um, yes. There really is no question that you should. This isn't exactly a review. In a nutshell, this album kicks ass. The real question is whether you should get the regular version or the special edition of the album. Actually, I'm lying, because that's pretty much an easy question, too. I mean, do you have five extra bucks? Would you like two extra CDs? Then get the damn special edition. Let's face it. The album is good - really good, but those other two CDs are definitely worth the difference between $20 and $25 (or if you get it at Best Buy soon, like I did, $10 and $15). Disc one, the actual album, starts out with the dark, ominous "A Nightmare to Remember," which plunges into the minds of the survivors (or what's left of them) of a crippling car crash. "A Rite of Passage," which I showed in that previous video, follows up. Progressively, the songs get lighter, as if a door slowly opened, letting light into a dark room. Of course, this is reflected in the album cover, done by the fantastic Hugh Syme (best known for his extensive work with Rush). "Wither" is about creativity and the art of "letting go." "The Shattered Fortress" is this album's chapter of Mike Portnoy's Alcoholics Anonymous suite (note the the broken bottles in the background on the lyrics page) of songs started by "The Glass Prison" in Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. "The Best of Times," is Portnoy's touching tribute to his father, who passed away this year. Rounding out the album, "The Count of Tuscany" is a fantastical song about a demented member of royalty that seems right at home with some of the early songs in Rush's career. Disc two showcases another of the band's talents, making Dream Theater flavored cover songs from bands that inspired them, including songs by Queen and King Crimson. The two that really got me excited bookend the album. It begins with Rainbow's "Stargazer," a fantastic song, and ends with Iron Maiden's "To Tame A Land." Just. Fucking. Awesome. The third disc is the actual album from disc one, done instrumental style - no vocals. Now, this does give you an opportunity to listen closer to the instrumentation of the band, but there's another purpose to this disc that fans should know... DREAM THEATER KARAOKE! That's right, now you can amaze your friends and impress the ladies with your finest James LaBrie impression. Think you can do better than him? Well, you're full of shit, but at least you can try. Who knows, maybe some band might hear your singing and make you their lead singer. And maybe your girlfriend's nipples will turn to gold! Yeah, right. As if you had a girlfriend. Anyway, get the special edition album. It's more than worth the extra five bucks. Kaiser out

Friday, June 19, 2009

Kaiser's Metal Moment - Dream Theater

If you were to come up and ask me what progressive metal is, I'd seal you into an iron maiden with a bitchin' sound system that I call "The Leslie" and make you listen to Dream Theater until you die. So it's probably for the best you don't ask me, ever. Needless to say, Dream Theater are the pioneers of the sub-genre. No other band has done more for progressive metal than them and they are the standard by which their contemporaries are measured. I first discovered these guys in the early '90s when my uncle, who introduced my older brother to Rush, who, in turn, introduced it to me, played one of their albums while my brothers and I were hanging out with him. That album was Images and Words, which was not their first album, but the first album of a more stable band (their first album was rife with a shitty record contract and firing a previous singer from the band). I was immediately hooked. The musicianship and complexity of their music is second to none. I bring all this up because they're releasing a new album, Black Clouds & Silver Linings, due out next Tuesday. I saw the video for their first single, "A Rite of Passage." You have to see it to believe it. ...and you will see it. I highly recommend getting the new album and any of their albums you don't own. That is, unless, you're itching for a date with "The Leslie". Fair warning, she likes to bite. Kaiser out

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dio dropped from Brütal Legend

It's all over the internet. Ronnie James Dio is no longer lending his voice to Brütal Legend. When I first heard this, I cried, "Bullshit!" I thought it might have been a rumor, but it's true. Of course, there are rumors flying about. Since Ozzy is in the game, there's been talk of the feud between the two metal singers getting in the way. My wife said that she heard that someone read that Sharon Osbourne was instrumental in getting Dio booted off the project (you know how rumors are). So who did they get to replace to replace Dio? When most people reported that Tim Curry was to replace Dio as the voice of Doviculus, they said it with relief. When I found out about this, relief was not the first emotion to come to mind. Don't get me wrong. I love Tim Curry (he was great in Clue as the butler), but Dio and Tim Curry are worlds apart voicewise. It made no damn sense to me. Then I read an article in which Tim Schafer stated that they decided to go with Curry because the character development of Doviculus made it that Curry was a better fit for the part than Dio. While Dio has an awesome voice, I guess Curry's deep baritone, as evidenced in the movie Legend (by the way, he's the only reason to watch that stupid movie) would make for a more ominous sounding Doviculus (pictured below). I'm still kinda disappointed that they cut Dio. I hope they still include his music in the game. The first teaser had "Mob Rules" in the background, but no one has confirmed or denied anything on that front. But there's still plenty of guest stars. Rob Halford, Lemmy, the aforementioned Ozzy. Lita Ford plays a really hot jungle queen. Check it out. Am I still going to play this game? Hell yeah. I'm going to pre-order it. I may be disappointed with Dio's exclusion, but this game will still kick ass. Kaiser out

Monday, June 15, 2009

Random Weirdness - Metal Monday

I foresee this monk forming the Church of Kaiser, preaching the ways of metal. Then all shall genuflect to my might. The Kaiser has spoken. So shall it be.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

From the Himalayas, He Arose...

Remember how I said I was going to go to that alternate Earth that was depicted in The Day After Ragnarok RPG and take over? Yeah, that didn't work out so well. Supposedly, that world doesn't exist, yet. So, what happens to me when I break through the parallel dimensions? I hit an Improbability Sector (It's like a section of the multiverse surrounded by an impenetrable brick wall and signs that say "Please pardon the mess. We are under construction."). Of course, I hit it with my head and knocked myself out, bringing me back to this Earth at about 80 miles above the surface. Needless to say, I hit the ground pretty hard. When I came to, I found myself in this highly secluded monastery, deep within the Himalayas. The monks there found me in the snow and took me in. These guys were pretty nice. They were serene, enlightened, and they love Iron Maiden. As I stayed with the monks, they told me about this creature that dwelled in the ice caves beneath the mountain ranges. As white as the snows and as hard as iron, they said. They called him Tingba Rupo, which means "giant beast that can beat you in a sit-up contest." Intrigued, I asked where I could find this beast. They were wary of showing me the way at first, but once I bribed them with peanut butter M&Ms, they were more than eager to tell me. I travelled into the subterranean caves and found the beast they spoke of. What I saw astounded me. The thing was a tower of white fur, teeth, and claws. But the most impressive thing about him was his abs. They were like fine marble, chiseled with laser precision by Herakles himself. This monster was fucking hardcore. I invoked the universal sign of greeting (the metal horns) and, amazingly, he signaled back. I spent a good amount of time getting to know him. His name is Gghruruakh, but I call him the Abdominal Snowman, because, well, he's a yeti and he has abs of adamantium. I mean, seriously, this beast is carrying a six pack of cold ones. We talked about cool things: our favorite music, giant robots, big breasted women, big breasted giant robots, etc... Then he asked if I wanted to check out his drum set. To be honest, I couldn't believe that a yeti would know how to play drums, but this sonofabitch can fucking play. I asked him where he learned to play and he said his inspirations were Neil Peart and a partially frozen dead goat he found one time. I told him that he should come back with me and we could form a band. He said that he liked it here in his caverns. I told him about all the hot chicks he could score and we left without ever looking back. So now the Abdominal Snowman lives with me. I had to make him more presentable, though. His fur was just caked with blood and walrus fat (Don't ask me how he got walrus in the Himalayas. I don't know, either). After he got spruced up, he's become a hit with the ladies. We have band practice every day and write new songs. He lays down a fierce rhythm while I wail on my double necked six-string/bass guitar (I grow two extra arms for the occasion). Anyway, that's what I've been doing for the past few days, so... oh, wait. I think Mr. Six Pack wants to say "hi." Okay, come on over here and tell the folks at home how awesome you are. Ghrahk ormgh khoprkt huuurgh eerrkh oog mahkah. Aooroogh hiirgkh jorhurgha krek talg shrookh. Torg makh oog horkh. Titties. I've been teaching him a little English whenever I get the chance. He's only learned the one word, but it's worked out for him so far. Kaiser out

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Day After Ragnarok - Savage Worlds

Question: Why does this RPG kick so much ass? Is it because it's a Savage Worlds game? Is it because it takes place after the Norse apocalypse, Ragnarok, during the late 1940s? Is it because it mingles World War II with pulp adventure and elements of Robert E. Howard's Conan? Is it because the creator, Kenneth Hite, is an award winning veteran in the RPG business? Answer: Fuck yeah! If you've ever wanted an extremely savage setting for Savage Worlds, this is it. Day After Ragnarok gives you a chance to plunge into an in-depth, post-apocalyptic world with a variety of campaign ideas. During WWII, the Nazis enacted a ritual to summon Jörmungandr, the Midgard Serpent, who would bring about Ragnarok while the Nazis rode on the wave of destruction and built a new world atop the ashes. The plan didn't work too well, though. The serpent came, but a well placed H-bomb caused the serpent's body to deicmate most of western Europe, including Germany. The giant corpse then polluted the world and turned over half of North America into a poisoned wasteland. The ones who profited from this the most were the Soviets, who wasted no time in dominating all lands east of the serpent's body (making it's corpse a continental version of the Berlin Wall). The corruption of the serpent brought fierce beasts (such as the now prevalent giant snakes) to plague humanity all over the globe. There are numerous possibilities for this campaign setting. Anything from fighting serpent cultists deep in the wastelands to MI6 agents infiltrating Soviet compounds can be done here. Throw in some magic and weird science, and you've got a heady brew that is sure to sate any gamer looking for a brutal time. If you want in on this apocalypse, head over to Atomic Overmind Press and pick up a copy. They're available in print and PDF formats. As for me, this world looks ripe for my dominion. I'll be back in a few days. Kaiser out

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Kaiser's Metal Moment - Dream Evil

If you've never been to Pandora internet radio, you don't know what you're missing out on. When you first get there, it'll ask for any song or band you like and then make a radio station out of it. This station will include that band or song as well as any other songs or bands that are similar in style to it, therefore giving you an opportunity to discover bands that you may not have heard of. Is it perfect? Hell no. Sometimes you get crap on your stations, but your station is always open to customization. So if your station plays a shitty song, tell Pandora that the song's a piece of shit and it will never play it again. You can make as many different stations as you like. I actually have four or five different metal stations, a classic rock station (with some prog rock thrown in for good measure). I even have a flamenco station (those guys play some fucking righteous guitar). I mention Pandora because it was there that I discovered a shitload of metal bands. On my power metal station, Dream Evil is one of my favorites. They are from Sweden - the land of metal, blond chicks, and ABBA. Their music has been equated to fighting a nine headed demogorgon, tearing the black heart out of its acidic chest, and preparing a nine course meal for a party of thirty with its carcass. It's perfect for raiding a continent, waging war on the gods, or impressing the pants off of the harem of your choice. The song on this video is a favorite of mine. Enjoy. And don't forget to check out Pandora. You'll thank me later.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Memorial Fit For A Kaiser

Last week, I was with some friends playing this game, Say Anything! The game is played with each person taking turns asking a question and everyone else writes down whatever they want for an answer. The questioner then picks their favorite answer while everyone else wages on which one will be picked. Anyway, on my turn, one of the questions on the card I drew was, "What will be the epitaph on my gravestone?" I just wanted to see what everyone else would answer. Well, the Immortal Queen of Eternity that is my wife wrote this down for an answer: Here lies Kaiser... or at least he would be if he weren't so fucking metal and immortal. That's why I married her.

Random Weirdness - Every Monday

Man, The State had some weird shit back in the day.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Savage "This is Red Steel 2?" Apocalypse

Despite being the initial first-person shooter for the Wii, Red Steel did not live up the the potential that could have made it a great game. Namely, the controls were bad. Well, Ubisoft has learned its lesson and are trying again with Red Steel 2. There's only one question: Is this really a sequel?

To say that the new game is a sequel to the original is like saying my cousin is a 50 foot tall robot mastodon with laser tusks (which would kick ass, but not the case). The resemblance is not there at all. Where the first game was about fighting Yakuza to save your girlfriend in the present, Red Steel 2 is about a katana wielding gunslinger in a post-apocalyptic Arizona. Maybe the gunslinger is the descendant of the protagonist from the first game, but that's stretching it.

Regardless, this looks so fucking cool. Not only will this game utilize Wii Motion Plus technology, but will come packaged with the Wiimote add-on, which should fix the terrible swordplay mechanics (I hope).

Anyway, here's a trailer for the game.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Random Japanese - あらゆる月曜日

Pepsiman is a classic mascot in Japan. He's been in multiple commercials and has been featured in video games. Here's a collection of commercials featuring the thirst quenching hero (the quality is a bit shoddy, though).