Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rants, Ravings and Nerf Herders: IN 3D

I was reading through some old posts (I don't have that many, so it didn't take very long...), and realized I made mention of a momentous Star Wars event that I fully intended to post on, but failed to do so! So to correct the [General] Grevious error {see what I did there!!!}, the following is this Geek's take on the spectacle that was/is:

Thanks to the folks at C/NetUK for the image!

As he and I planned for... well, a year (or since the official announcement of it's release), DrthGeek Jr. #1 and I went on opening weekend. It was that Saturday afternoon and, since there was a planned birthday party, and I had a work event later that evening, we organized our day around a matinee showing. That morning we donned our make-shift Jedi robes (SW t-shirt and jeans...) and fortified ourselves with a hearty breakfast and helpings of the Clone Wars animated series! DrthGeek Jr. #2 gladly joined in the morning merriment. After a few lightsaber battles with no clear victor, our time of departure arrived.

DG Jr. #1 and I headed out in our own Falcon (making the sound effects ourselves!), he as Chewie to my Han. To add to the fun and fervor, we swing by Target looking for various Star Wars merchandise, and other stuffs. With the window shopping adventure completed, and after the aforementioned lightsaber battles, we had worked up a mighty hunger that only high-caloric, low-nutritional value food can sate.

We pulled into the nearest McDonald's, and lo-and-behold, they had Star Wars Happy Meal toys!!! That was truly not planned and a very welcome surprise! Being the (hopefully) good Dad that I try to be, I procured an extra toy for DG Jr. #2, who stayed home on this adventure. Fed and watered, and extra Star Wars toys in hand, we headed to the nearest cinema that had our beloved film in 3D.

Warning: Minimal Spoiler's ahead!!!

Even though this film, originally released in May of 1999, was this Geek's most anticipated Star Wars film, The Phantom Menace is not, by any means, the best film in the saga. In my opinion, the saving grace in the Prequels is Natalie Portman (sorry honey... you are still my No.1, though!!!) and Ewan McGregor's portrayal of Obi-Wan. We'll go more into that in future posts....

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is a great film for the saga because it tells the story of how Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Padme meet. Oh, and it has a couple visually stunning scenes in the podraces and the epic (and obligatory) climactic lightsaber/space battle(s). Those two scenes were, arguably, served the best by the 3D enhancements. If you've read previous, and other, reviews, that statement is not anything you haven't heard before. I will add to those scenes the one where Jar-Jar is leading Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan to the underwater city where the Gungans live. Visually, that particular "reveal" of the city was pretty darn cool.

As a whole, it was great to revisit the movie on the big screen. The 3D did not do too much to enhance the experience, save for a few key scenes. The best experience of the event, was getting to share the whole trip with my son. When asked his favorite part of the movie, his answer was, "when Anakin won the race, Dad! Oh, and when the young Jedi (Obi-Wan) cut the bad guy (Darth Maul) in half!" What can I say... we all sorta cheered for Obi-Wan the first time we saw him defeat Maul.

Honestly, I am looking forward to the remaining 5 films to be released with the 3D treatment, but I'm not holding my breath. I realize 3D is not for everyone. It is a novelty that adds another dimension to the fun of my favorite Saga. For all the good and bad, if you are a die-hard Star Wars fan, I say check them out.

'Til next time....

When I Was Your Age... Or Why I Love the GameBoy and 3DS

To play a little catch-up:

The last few months has seen several ups and downs. I'm not going to extol all of those events here. Particularly because, that is not my aim! However, a few items will need to be disclosed. Like the rest of America this time of year, my family filed taxes. Woo!!!! Exciting stuff!!!! Particularly because we were fortunate enough to have a refund this year. So, the DrthGeek family got to have some fun!

Mrs. DrthGeek went the Way of the Tablet. She opted for a Kindle Fire... and has yet to put it down! We'll get to her reactions/interactions in another post. DrthGeek Jrs. 1 & 2 requested an ultimate outdoor "toy"... and no it wasn't a pool! A trampoline is now gracing the confines of our backyard, much to the chagrin of our dogs (who are just now getting used to the new weird machine-beast that has invaded their territory...). For me, I went the way of more "immature" ventures and invested my fun money in a Nintendo 3DS.

Yes, I know... I'm a year behind getting the "new" thing.... The PSVita just came out and is supposed to have better graphics and a stronger game engine... blah, blah, blah.... Not to disparage the Vita: I'm certain it is a fantastic machine. And the touch screens (one on the front and one on the back) really does bring handheld video games into the technological future. But I'm just not into the Vita. Maybe if I win one in some contest... well, then I might change my tune.... But for now, I'm happy with my 3DS!

So, for those that are reading the labels... this post will be dedicated to a review of my experience with the 3DS so far.

As far as a handheld system is concerned, the 3DS is pretty darn cool. It has a dual screen (hence the DS part), with the bottom screen being a touch screen. Those familiar with the previous versions (DS, DSLite, DSi, and DSiXL), neither of these features are "new." What is new, though, is a slider along the top screen that has the images present themselves in wonderful 3D. As far as the size of the console, the DSiXL and the 3DS are roughly the same size (maybe a 1/2  wider and "taller" than a regular DSi or DSLite). While the larger surface area is more conducive to adult-sized hands, the requisite hand-cramp that accompanied the original NES and SNES controllers, not to mention the original GameBoy, is still a strong possibility with extended play.

Nintendo conveniently includes little reminders in their first-party games that are designed for the 3DS, like the revamped Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, about the importance of taking breaks periodically. The glasses-free 3D is made possible via stereoscopic imagery. Basically, it projects two images that are nearly identical but one geared specifically for the right eye and one for the left. Our eyes do the rest, and viola! 3D imagery! If you've seen a movie in 3D in the theater, chances are you've had a headache or two because your eyes are working in a manner I have come to describe as "overtime."

Our eyes were naturally designed to see with depth perception. When we view things using "enhanced depth perception" or 3D, our eyes compensate by going against natural tendencies. This eye strain and headaches can occur. Couple that with a screen that aging eyes (yes, I admit I'M GETTING OLD) can have trouble focusing on due to the small(er) size, and severe eyestrain and other problems could arise. *

But that doesn't tell you why I love this system. Like many Children of the '80s, I was addicted to my NES and my GameBoy. I spent countless hours trying to discover every nook and cranny on the Zelda and Metroid games, as well as master every jump and dodge on the Mario games.I was on a personal quest to play and conquer every popular game released on those systems, thwarted only by the fact that I relied HEAVILY on the generosity of my parent's pocketbooks. Now that I am older, and *ahem* wiser, I get to spend my own funds on those games.

My quest to play all those popular games now has a new outlet. The 3DS, as well as the Wii, has a Virtual Console that for a fraction of the original purchase price, I can revisit classic NES and GameBoy titles on the current systems! That means brighter colors, crisper images, same gameplay, and a fun trip down memory lane!

Future posts will chronicle some of these trips. But for now, suffice it to say I am very happy with my investment, and look forward to future adventures!

* All of that is my conjecture from stuff I learned in Biology class and NOT medically or scientifically proven. So PLEASE do not take this a scientific or medical fact.

Friday, April 6, 2012

"It's been a while..."

Yeah, so....

Apparently, I'm not very good at making and keeping my own deadlines.... Especially when it comes to this blog!

I am sorry to my fans (read: TGCD) for the lack of updates... what so ever....

So. As such, I am endeavoring to post more frequently. As well as finish promised reviews. AND update promised art postings!

WOW.. what a promise, right!?!?

So with out further ado... lets get to it!!!