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8/9/2006 Ouch

New ROM comic today. And take a look at the donation bar. Haven't reached a goal for this month yet but overall donation counter hit $50 which means you guys are gonna get part one of Josiah's Sprite Comic Guide. Considering how many questions I get asked about how to make sprite comics I think you guys will find the guide pretty useful. Anyway, I'll get it done sometime over the next few weeks.

So, still working on finals. Nearly done with my art project, which is good. I've been working on it for like two weeks. I'm getting callous on my finger from smearing all that charcoal though. Anyway, for the most part I'm really happy with the project (which is good). Not totally sold on the face though. I tried doing it a bit differently than how I normally do faces and it didn't quite end up like I thought it would. Still, it's not bad, just not what I was going for. Anyway, I'll put up a picture when I'm done.

Well, back to work. See you friday.


8/7/2006 Hmm...

Hi all. As usual, friday's bonus comic is up (and has been since friday) and there's a new ROM too. Also, friday is Pebble Version's 3rd anniversary. I'll be doing my usual thing and talking about the comic and all that. Probably won't have time to do anything fancy though, too much school work.

Speaking of school work, it's going to be keeping me pretty busy through monday. I did take a little time to play Guild Wars over the weekend since there were double loot drops in the elite missions. The elite missions were also accessable to just about everyone. While it's nice to give more people a chance to access them, some players are just total morons. Which can make forming a party a pain in the ass. See, first off you have to find enough people to make a full party before you start the mission. As any experienced (and many not so experienced) players know, filling a large party can take a while simetimes. Healers especially can take a while to fine. Some people however don't seem to get this. They'll join a party then, if the part isn't full within about two minutes they'll drop. Aside from being extremely annoying, this behavior doesn't help the droppers out much either. What're they gonna do? Join another party, wait for a couple minutes, and drop again? They're never gonna get to do the mission that way. But, as annoying as that is, it's nothing compared to the people who drop during the mission. Elite missions are 'elite' for a reason. They're really hard and it's quite common for people to die from time to time, that's what revival skills are for. Some people, however, will drop the mission as soon as one or two people die. I mean come on, if a few people die it's not a big deal. They can be revived. If most of the party is dead that's one thing, although it's still really bad MMO manners to drop mid mission. And it gets worse. Once one person drops some other guy will decide that he doesn't want to be in a party that's short a member and drop as well (even though some of the best parties I've been a part of have been short a member or two). And once that second guy drops more and more guys start dropping until you're missing half your party and pretty much screwed. It's so freaking annoying. People have no manners these days, especially online.

Well, I have to get back to work. See you wednesday.


8/4/2006 Finals time, again

The new voters' bonus comic is up and all you have to do to see it is click on the Top Web Comics banner or button and confirm your vote. There's a new ROM too. Speaking of which, jumping kicks like that look really cool in comics and on TV don't they? If you ever feel like doing something like that in real life though be careful, unless you really know what you're doing there's a good chance you'll hurt yourself a lot more than whatever you're kicking. And, even if you do know enough martial arts to keep your balance and get the landing right after hitting your target, it's really easy for someone with quick hands to grab your leg and flip you on your back.

Guess what next friday is. Give up? It's Pebble Version's 3 year anniversary! More on that next week.

So, one more week of classes to go (plus a couple more day of tests) till my all too short break before fall semester. As usual, that means I got lots of homework and projects and stuff to do. Although this time isn't as bad as some of my past semesters, it's still busy as stressful, as usual. I'll talk more another time.


8/2/2006 RIP E3

The new ROM is up.

So, August huh? Gee time sure flies sometimes... I've got finals coming up in the not too distant future and that's certainly keeping me busy. But I still got a couple weeks till break and the fall semester starts in just over a month. Sigh... Speaking of August, Pebble Version's three year anniversary is coming up on the 11th...

So, heard about E3 yet? In short, it's being completely redone for 2007 and is turning into more of a small convention than an expo (complete with a name change). Although they haven't finished planning things out, the direction they're going in a sort of invitation only thing where companys give small demostrations of their games to media and big store buyers. On the one hand, it'll make things a heck of a lot easier for the gaming press and will save game companies a small fortune on staff, accomadations, displays, and the like. On the other hand, it's sorta the end of an era. Yeah it was kinda over the top and yeah too many people who shouldn't have been there managed to sneak in but still... Although it was totally insane, it had a certain something to it as well. The energy, the excitement... Without those generating the same media buzz could be pretty difficult. When it comes down to it, it's too early to say if this'll be a good thing or bad thing for the game industry. It'll take a year or two to be sure. Either way, I'm certainly gonna miss the old E3 and I'm really glad I got to go the last couple of times.

A tip for any DDR fans out there, Gamestop is selling Red Octane Ignition version 3 pads for only $60. That's a great price for what is probably the best foam pad out there. I just got one to replace my old Ignition version 2, which was beginning to wear out after two years of fairly heavy use. The response and accuracy are spot on and now that it has a USB connection built in (along with PS and Xbox) I can play Stepmania without bothering with an adapter. Anyway, it's an awesome pad and it's really cheap at Gamestop (well, really cheap for that type of pad).


7/31/2006 All that homework...

New ROM today. And, naturally, friday's bonus comic is up for everyone who votes.

Well, the three day weekend was nice. Would have been even nicer if I didn't have so much Japanese homework that I had to do but it is getting kinda close to finals so I guess that type of stuff is unavoidable. I spent some time on Guild Wars too. The new job classes for Nightfall (Dervish and Paragon) are certainly going to be interesting additions to the game. Unfortunately, you were pretty limited to the builds you could use during the preview (unless you had tons of spare faction points to unlock stuff) so it was a little hard to get a good feel for them. Especially if you were just playing around in the random PVP areas like I was. The prebuilt builds just weren't made for random four man teams. Especially when the random arenas were stuffed full with people trying out said new builds. Still, it was fun.

Well, that's it for now. See you wednesday.


7/28/2006 Three day weekend!

Just in case you don't remember by now (or you're new) since it's friday there's a new bonus comic for everyone who votes for Pebble Version on Top Web Comics and a new ROM comic. Speaking of ROM, the cast page is currently being updated. It's not done yet (as in, I don't have time right now to put in all the new info Shauni sent me but the first three or so entries as done) but since my entry has been updated I figured I might as well comment on that. Keep in mind, these are just comments. Shauni is the one writing the comic and it's only loosely based on the RP and even less so on real life, so Shauni is perfectly free to play around with the characters, within reason of course. I have no problem with the changes she made, these are just my observations. Anyway, seems my character doesn't know karate anymore. I guess that's cause she's trying to make martial arts Jeff's thing. 'Lacks focus' huh? Actually I'm pretty focused in real life. I can be a bit lazy at times but if something needs to be done I do it. That's an interesting quote... Who is Bagpuss anyway? Yu-Gi-Oh regional champion huh? Gee, I wish. I have won a couple tournaments before (and placed highly in a couple others) but never a regional. Actually, I've never competed in a regional, they always seem to get scheduled on days that I can't go.

I get friday off from school this week since the campus is closed for an in service day. However, that means I won't be able to work on the 3D model I'm doing for my game design project. And it's not like I don't have other things to work on. I got this whole life sized self portrait project that needs a ton of work plus I've got around 12 pages of Japanese homework (plus a take home test) that needs to be done by monday. Not that I'm going to spend all my time working, not with a special preview of Guild Wars Nightfall going on...

I ended up with a copy of Nintendogs a few days ago. Not exactly top on my list of DS games to get but I've always been kinda curious about it and a guy from school was selling his copy for really cheap so I figured what the heck. It's certainly interesting. The AI is good and it's fun in short spurts, which is basically how it's meant to be played. Not sure how long it'll hold my interest but, it's not like I'm gonna get a real dog any time soon. More on the game after I've spent more time on it.


7/26/3006 Random Title #89392

New ROM today.

I feel like talking about random stuff today. So, here goes. It's raining, pretty hard too. About time really, it's been threatening for the last week or two. Too bad it's only raining at night. I can't wait till friday, it'll be nice to have a day off from school even if I do have a bunch of stuff to work on. I've been trying to advance my characters a lot in Guild Wars Factions lately (something that I've been neglecting a bit due to a combination of school, other games, and time spent trying to sell off my collection of weapon upgrades in GW instead of actually advancing in the game. Well, I got slowed down a bit by a buggy graphics driver and the fact that I'm trying to finish some other games, but it shouldn't take me too much longer to reach the end at this rate. I've also started playing Pokémon Ruby again. Since Diamond and Pearl are supposed to allow pokémon transfers from the GBA games (at least that's what Nintendo Power says) I figured this would be a good time to finish up my Pokédex. I did it in Red and Gold, I can do it again. I just got distracted by other games last time, and annoyed that I couldn't import my collection from Gold. It shouldn't take that long, I don't need that many more...

So, why do bad guys in movies and stuff always play the pipe organ? I mean sure, villians need hobbies too, but why the pipe organ. What's wrong with a villian or plays the trombone or maybe the accordian? I should have a villian that plays the accordian in one of my stories, that'd be amusing...


7/24/2006 Weird...

Friday's voters' bonus comic has been up since, well friday, in case you haven't seen it yet. Also, if you want to vote for Pebble Version in the DrShnaps Sprite Comic Awards you can do that here. Also, there's a new ROM.

I'm watching a really weird Japanese movie right now. It's one of those low budget 'guy in rubber suit' movies that seem to never really go out of style over there. It's not a style I watch much of but my dad likes to watch weird movies every once in a while and gave me the DVD once he finished it. Anyway, the movie is called The Calamari Wrestler. It's about this giant squid that's really the reincarnation of a former rising star of Japanese pro wrestling who has came back to claim the championship that he didn't get a chance at the first time. Certianly weird although, after watching Kinikuman (aka Ultimate Muscle), an amusing wrestling anime involving aliens, monsters, and animals (just to name a few of the more normal things), I'm rather used to strange wrestling matches.

Well, I'll see you wednesday.


7/21/2006 Busy reading

As usual, there's a new voter's bonus comic and a new ROM today. Also, I stumbled across this completely by accident but it turns out that Pebble Version was nominated for the Best Videogame Storyline Comic in DrSchnaps Sprite Comic Awards. If you want to vote in the awards you can do so here. There's lots of other good comics nominated for other catagories too.

And that's all I have to say today. I picked up Phantom, the newest Sword of Truth book monday. It's one of my favorite series and I've been waiting for this book for quite a while. However, I didn't have time to start reading it until yesterday. It's really good so far so I'm just gonna go read some more. Later!


7/19/2006 Kids these days...

New ROM today. And, if you've got some extra cash, Pebble Version only needs another $15 to reach the first donation goal this month. If the goal is reached then next month you guys get commentary on a bunch of old strips and the next chapter of ROM The Novel.

So, what is it with some kids these days? Gee it feels weird saying that, I'm only 21... But seriously, some kids (particularily young teenages from my experience) have got the worst attitudes and social skills (not all kids by any means, I've met lots of nice ones, but enough). Kinda odd considering that between MySpace (which I'm not particuarily fond of), IMs, and cell phones socializing seems to be the current fad. Anyway, for one thing there's the language. I know swearing a big part of the whole rap & 'gansta' style (a fad I'm really sick of) but come on, I've met a lot of people of all ages and none of them swear half as much (or even a tenth as much) as some thirteen year olds I've run into. Is there some contest to see who can fit the most swear words in a single sentence? Do they think it makes them sound tough or mature? In actuallity, it makes them sound immature and kinda dumb. The threats certainly don't help either. I mean come on, cussing out someone and saying how they should watch out because you know where they live? Nothing sounds stupider and more immature than that, especially when it's over some stupid unimportant matter (which it nearly always is) such as someone disagreeing with a post in a forum or beating them in a game. I mean, ok, if you're an international terrorist or a wanted serial murder that's one thing but the threat doesn't mean much coming from a whiny kid who doesn't take well to suggestions and/or criticism (especially when said threat is made on a forum or something like that when people hardly even know each others' real names, much less their home addresses). As most of you probably know, the internet only seems to make this problem worse. I've heard lots of people who refuse to play on-line games (particularily voice chat enabled ones) just because they got sick of listening to kids yelling out curses and racial slurs all the time. Some people like to take advantage of the fact that most people on the internet don't know who you are to say things that would likely earn them a broken nose (or at least a serious talking to) in real life. People like that need to realize that everyone will respect them a heck of a lot more if they'd actually act their age. Cussing and threatening people all the time just makes other people ignore and dislike you. Of course, parents could certainly help curb this problem as well by paying attention to what their kids say, teaching them which types of behavior are proper and which aren't, and imposing punishments for improper behavior (does anyone really wash their kids' mouthes out with soap like in those old TV shows, I bet that'd make a really big difference).

Well, that's enough ranting for today. See you friday!


7/17/2006 Might as well

Top Web Comics was down for part of the weekend but it's working now in case you missed friday's bonus comic. New ROM today too. Hmm... I never did give Magna Carta a full review did I? Well, can't think of anything else to talk about so here goes.

A Korean game, brought over to the US by Atlus, Magna Carta is an epic RPG that has absolutely nothing to do with the real Magna Carta (an important historic document). Unfortunately, there were times when I thought that I game about the real Magna Carta would probably be more fun.
Graphics: This one is a mixed bag. The character designs are certainly interesting although a lot of their outfits border on ridiculous and more often than not the girls' chests are bigger than their heads. In game, the environments look pretty nice as do the main characters. However, the not so important characters look pretty bad, especially when they have to talk or do much of anything that requires animation. The monsters are very nicely done although they often look rather out of place in my opinion. There's also little potraits of characters that show up along with their dialogue boxes for the cutscenes that don't have voice overs. Unfortunately, the potraits are completely static, as are the characters. The majority of cutscenes merely freeze the screen and pop up some dialogue boxes. Pretty lame.
Sound: Music is nice, nothing really memorable though. The sound effects work although, in retrospect, don't always sound realistic. The voice overs... Well, normally I'm complain that not enough of the cutscenes have voice overs but considering how bad most of the voice actors are it's probably for the best. A handful are ok but over all the voice work is pretty bad. Heck, I could probably grab some random people off the street and do a better job. They probably should have kept the Korean voices.
Story: Two races, the humans and the Yason (who look like humans with weird ears) has been at war for pretty much as long as they can remember. Calintz, the main character, is the leader of the Tears of Blood, a human mercenary group that often works with the human army. In the aftermath of a failed operation, he comes across Reith, a mysterious girl who lost her memory. Soon Calintz and friends are traveling all across the land trying to help Reith recover her memory and also find The Light of Salvation which acts as a key to the ultimate power, the Magna Carta. Naturally, the Yason are after both Reith and the Light of Salvation. The story starts out midly interesting, goes almost nowhere for the first 18 hours of gameplay or so, then finally starts to get interesting and features some pretty decent plot twists towards the end. However, you're going to have to suffer through quite a lot of boredom before you get there.
Gameplay: Magna Carta tries to do something different with the traditional RPG system. It's a neat idea but fails miserably in execution. You gain EXP points and level up like normal. You also use money to buy better equipment for your characters. Standard stuff. In battle, you have a three man party. Both the player team and the enemy team have a leadership guage that determines which team gets to act next. The more your party members trust their leader the more often you get to move (you can increase trust by choosing the right dialogue in conversations of giving gifts, unfortunately, it always resets to the default level before long). Whichever team has more healthy characters also gets more actions and that poses a problem. If one or more of your characters is KO'd or paralyzed the enemy gets a huge advantage, making it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to recover from a bad situation. Of course, it goes that way for the enemies too but still... You can also move freely in battle, although your leadership guage doesn't charage while you're moving. Also, characters don't get individual turns, your part gets turns. So basicly, you're controlling one guy and the other two just stand there doing absolutely nothing until you decide to switch control to another character (which you usually won't). Also, enemy AI is absolutely pathetic. Basically, in pretty much every battle you move your strongest guy to the front to tank (since enemies are too stupid to walk around people and just attack the closest guy) and either have him attack or have one of your guys in the back blast the enemies with magic and maybe heal once in a while until the battle is over. Now, character don't just attack. They learn different fighting styles throughout the game (both in events and by challenging dojos). When you attack or cast a spell a ring appears and you have to correctly press a timed 3 button sequence. Screw it up and you fail your attack, lose your turn, go back to the weakest attack of your current style, and reset your trinity drive (a guage you charge with perfectly done attacks than can be used to deal extra damage from time to time). Fortunately, the sequences are pretty easy once you get the hang of it. For each style you start out with only one move and then have a chance of learning the next one each time your perfectly time all you button presses. Styles can have between 2 and 7 moves. In battle you progress through them until you hit the highest one (ie. turn one you use the first attack, turn two you use the second attack, turn three you use the final third attack which you'll keep using unless you screw up the button sequence). You can switch styles mid battle but unfortunately, you can't go back and use moves you've already passed in the sequence (highly annoying at times). Some styles also have counter or combo modes. Combo mode has you inputting a much longer and faster button combo to do a stronger super attack. However, using combo mode drastically reduces your defense and is often suicidal. In counter mode you wait for the enemy to attack then try to guess their button sequence. Get it right and you cancel their attack and do tons of damage. Get it wrong and you'll be taking lots of damage (and probably die). Problem is, it's often nearly impossible to tell what button sequence the enemy is using, making counter nearly useless aside from a handful fo situations where you pretty much have to use it. Then there's chi. Basically there's eight elements of chi and each attack is tied to a specific element. Each area in the game has different amounts of the various types of chi (for example the fire cave has lots of fire, a little lightning, and not much else) and you can modify this somewhat by finding the chi lanturns in the area. Each time you or the enemy attacks the corrosponding chi is depleted by a set amount. If an element of chi is used too much in one battle it's attacks will go weaker or it may run out entirely, leaving you unable to use any attacks of that element (a restriction that doesn't apply to enemies). While this sounds nice and strategic, it's really very annoying. Aside from that fact that enemies can cheat and attack without chi, most dungeons have a chi set that seems designed to prevent you from effectively using any fighting style (most styles use moves of two chi types and since you can't go back to previous moves if the one you're currently on runs out of chi, you're screwed). Also, on average the monsters in a dungeon are highly resistant to whatever chi types are readily available in that environment, which makes sense but leads to really annoying and boring battles (specially since there's very few different types of enemies in the game). Although you can use items to increase different chi types for a single battle, that gets expensive quickly and the all important elemental lanturns are usually buried too far into the dungeons to do much good. You may enjoy the battles for the first few hours but they'll quickly become a chore, especially since the game loves making you back track through areas you've already cleared multiple times.
As far as exploration goes, the game is highly linear and often won't even let you go the wrong way. And, aside from challenging dojos along the way to learn more fighting styles, there's virtually no sub-quests. As I said before, prepare to do a lot of backtracking and pointless fetch quests. Not to mention have to do dumb things just for the heck of it (like when all the character made a big deal about going into Calintz's private office to discuss important stuff for their upcoming mission so I have to go to his office just to hear them say that the volcano area I'm about to go to will probably be hot).
On a final note, although this isn't that important there's way too many boss battles where you kick the boss's ass in the fight only to see the characters freaking out about how they can't win the cutscene afterwards and then running away (you have to fight several bosses many many times).
Overall: Magna Carta wants to compete with Final Fantasy but it's got a long way to go. The story does get pretty good late in the game but it's not really worth slogging through the extremely boring battles, horrible voice acting, and incessent backtracking (not to mention the 18 hours or so where the story goes absolutely nowhere) to get there. So, despite a couple of high points, I really can't recommend Magna Carta where there are so many better games out there.


7/14/2006 Huh, what?

New bonus comic today to get to voting. New ROM too.

Hmm, I honestly can't think of anything to say. Guess it's just one of those days. Well, have a good weekend everyone. I'll see you on monday.


7/12/2006 Nothing new here

Well, there is a new ROM comic today and of course there's today's Pebble Version strip... So maybe 'nothing new' isn't quite the right phrase.

Anyway, nothing really new as far as I'm concerned. Things have pretty much calmed down and returned to normal here so I'm just going through my usual routine. School, homework, reading, games, internet, exercise, writing, that pretty much sums it up. I finally got the rest of the Symphony of Ages series. I read the first one over my last break and got hooked pretty quickly. If you like epic fantasy novels you should take a look. It follows Rhapsody, a young Namer (a type of singer with magical powers) and her unlikely companions the warrior Grunthor, and the assassin Achmed on their journies. Unfortunately, saying just about anything more about the plot would lead to spoilers but the story is really good so far and it has some pretty interesting plot twists. Between that and the new Sword of Truth book coming out soon, I'll definately have plenty of reading material for a while.

See you friday!


7/10/2006 Thoughts on stuff

I updated the Cast page a little and added Steven. Just in case you forgot (or are new), you can click on the Top Web Comics button or banner to vote for Pebble Version and see friday's bonus Pebble Version Blooper Reel comic. Old Blooper Reel comics can be found on the Extras page. You may also want to take a look at the donation guage below this news post. Got $10 so far this month. Remember, if the guage reaches $25 before the end of the month you get a chapter of ROM the Novel and commentary on a bunch of old Pebble Version strips. If the guage reaches $50 you also get five new Pebble Version strips a week for an entire month instead of the usual three. If the guage gets even higher, well you can read about that in the donation info below this post. Also, aside from the monthly bonuses, there's the special bonus that carries over from month to month. Only $10 more to go before the current goal is reached and you get part one of Josiah's Sprite Comic Guide where I talk about how to make a sprite comic. Plus donating helps pay my hosting fees, which is always a good thing.

No ROM today, not really sure why, I just never got the file from Shauni.

I still have that topic I've been wanting to write about since the middle of last week. It's a kinda serious topic and I will get to it eventually, once I'm in the right mood, and figure out how I want to word it. For now, on a completely different topic, Pirates of the Carribean Dead Man's Chest is a great movie. I'd say it's easily as good as the first. The actions was good, the story was decent, it was really funny, the effects were great, and, most importantly, Jack Sparrow is just a really well done character. If you liked the first movie you've got to go see this one. Can't wait for the third next summer.


7/7/2006 Again?

There's a new bonus comic up so vote, vote, vote! New ROM too.

Ah, I had a subject for today's news post picked out and everything but then I got caught up working on some stuff and now I'm running a little behind so it'll have to wait. Oh well, now that my parents are gone and my schedule is back to normal it shouldn't take me too long to get caught up with everything.

So, see you monday!


7/5/2006 What I did yesterday

New ROM today, as usual. Also, Pebble Version is off to a slightly slow start on Top Web Comics this month so please vote even if you've already seen this week's bonus comic.

So, as all my US readers no doubt know, yesterday was the 4th of July, aka Independence Day. For any of you from other countries, its a holiday celebrating the time when the US won its independence from Britian and usually involves parties and lots of fireworks. Anyway, I have a couple of things related to that I want to talk about but since I need to get some sleep before my Japanese class, I'll only talk about one of them tonight and save the other for friday.

For now, you get to hear how I spend my 4th of July. My parents were still visiting (they're leaving today) but they went off on their own all morning and about half the afternoon so I had the place to myself. Naturally I did all my usual stuff (exercise, web surfing, etc) and also decided to knuckle down and catch up on my Japanese homework which I'd been neglecting for the last few days. By far though I spent the most time playing Guild Wars. Since it was the last day of the Dragon Festival there was a special event every two hours. I did it four times (although I only wanted masks for three of my characters). Aside from getting nifty dragon masks there was a mini-game of sorts which had everyone running around trying to find Celestial Charges and take them to the appropriate NPC without getting killed by all the monsters running around. By my fourth attempt I was getting pretty good at it, at least when people weren't trying to steal my charges when I had to temporarily drop them to avoid the monsters (come on guys, there were plenty of others that no one had claimed). Assuming the players scored higher than the monsters in the fifteen minute time limit (which really wasn't all that hard) you were treated to a fireworks show and lots of free Festival Prizes that kept popping up throughout the level. A handful of people tried to run around and just grab whatever they saw but that usually didn't work to well so most people just picked a spot, camped it, and grabbed whatever dropped in their spot. In practice this tended to work pretty well. Everyone stayed in their spot so you didn't have to worry about people grabbing all the stuff before you could reach it and everyone ended up with a decent amount of loot. If it dropped in your area it was yours. This also got rid of most of the usual shouting matches over who stole whose drop. Unfortunately, you still had a handful of idiots who liked to run into other peoples' areas and swipe their prizes just to be annoying. And, since it wasn't a combat zone or anything, there really wasn't anything you could do about it besides yelling at them and being fast on your feet. I had a favorit spot that I got all to myself twice, which was nice. Once I split it with another person (which wasn't that bad) and once some guy decided to run in about halfway through and try to steal my stuff (along with some cursing and taunting me for being slow). Annoying, yeah, and I didn't get quite as much loot as I could have but for all his taunting he was the slow one and I ended up with around 80% of the drops. So, although he seemed to enjoy being a general pain, at least I was able to make sure it wasn't worth his while.
I also spent a good chunk of the festival playing the carnival games to get the level 1 lucky and unlucky titles (which involed winning lots of tickets and losing lots of games respectively). Those take a lot of time so the usual method is to just buy a whole bunch of tickets, let your character on one spot in the 9 rings game (one random ring wins big, adjects rings win small and all others lose each round), and go AFK for a while. However, if you do this you steadily lose tickets over time so it ends up costing a lot of money. On the other hand, when I took control myself and randomly moved from ring to ring I had both good and bad streaks but tended to end up ahead sooner or later.

I love fireworks so that evening my mom and I went to a show (one of the many in the area). Unfortunately, in AZ you're not allowed to buy small fireworks and sparklers like you can in many states. But the show we went to was pretty good and, even better, before the show there was a free concert by America. I'm a big fan of classic rock (aka oldies) and despite their age, the group could still sing and play really good so that was a lot of fun. Plus, since the show was at a casino (and since it's the first time I'm been at a casino since turning 21) I tried a few machines. In the end, I lost $3 ($1 on three seperate machines) but I managed to make a couple of those dollars last for a pretty long time. I could see maybe going there with a $20 some time and trying to last a long time and maybe come out ahead, just for the heck of it, but I'd have to have plenty of money to burn before I'd do something like that. When it comes down to it though, it's not all that different than an arcade. Casino games may not be as fancy as arcade games but they're both designed to take your money (and at a rather quick pace) and in a casino, unlike an arcade, you actually have a chance of leaving with more money that you started with.

Anyway, see you friday!


7/3/2006 No time left for news

It's a new month so don't forget to vote!

Well, as the title says, I don't have time to say much today. The combination of my parents visiting and the Dragon Festival in Guild Wars have put me a little behind on Pebble Version strips so I'll see you wednesday. Have a great 4th of July!


6/30/2006 Neo's News

A new voters bonus comic is up and so is a new ROM. Well, I get a few days off from school and I plan to spend the time doing some things with my parents who are visiting from CO and playing Guild Wars (gotta get Dragon Festival masks for my characters). Anyway, Neo Zanther, long time member of the Pebble Version forums, just got through basic training in the air force and asked if I'd post a bit he wrote about his experiences. Well, saves me the trouble of writing a full news post so here it is.

Ney A1C Zanther (not my real last name) here. I just got back from 6.5 weeks of Air Force Basic training. I had some good times and lots of not soo good times. Here's a breakdown of my experence.

I arrived at training at about 11:30 at night. Right away the yelling started and we begain to think why we were here. We proccessed in and after getting to our dorms we were talked to by one of our MTI's (Military Training Instructor). Didn't get to bed til 4:30. Woke up at about 11:30 same morning. That was the start of what is known as 0 week. For the rest of the week we learned how to make our bed correctly, fold/roll our clothing correctly, and learned how to march. We also got issused our fist set of clothing. Not a fun week I might add.

Then came 1st week and puch-ups. The week was maining a week of learning diffrent marches and facing movements and the fun term of Pushing Texas. We had to improve on our clothing to prefection. That was not fun but had to be done. Infact that weekend we did nothing but fold/roll our clothing (and pushed afew times for being too loud).

Then 2nd week. That week we had our first set of major inspections. I passed but afew areas I just bairly sqeeked by. We also started classes. We tried to prefect marching and started pariad practice for graduation.

3rd week started another major inspection. To my dismay I didn't pass one area due to my own stupid falt of closeing my drawer too fast and my clothing moved. More classes and drilling. We also got our dress clothing that day. We had to learn how to put that up too. Our lockers were now getting pretty full of clothing.

Then 4th week or Warrior Week. We went out from the main base and lived in tents, ate MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat) and learned about how to defend ourselfs in a battle. We did the Confindence Course and that was fun. I almost didn't make one part but I pushed myself and successeded. We also did FTX and that sucked. 1/2 mile low/high craw though sand that had rocks and then Hell's Half Mile that consisted of running and ducking for 1/2 mile. Then defending a base ontop of all that. Shoting M-16's was the high point of the week. I got 30 out of 50 points. We also did the gass chamber. Not a fun experence.

5th week was full of tests and classes. We also tested our physical selfs durring that week. Not too much to talk about for that week.

6th week we finally got to wear our Blues after wanting too for so long. After our first day with them we wanted to go back to our BDU's that we had been wearing before. The week consisted of final practices for drill and pariade and proccessing out. My parents showed up on Thurseday to see retreat and I spent afew hours with them. Friday was graduation and town pass with my parents. On Saturday my parents and I went to Sea World. I have to say that was one of the best days of my life. Sunday was base lift and we went bowling and taked some more. Then I had to say goodby to my parents. That wasn't easy as I won't be seeing them again til November. Now I'm here at Tec School for the next 27 weeks

I liked my MTI's for the most part. They were good people. Our main MTI had to leave our 6th week and miss us graduate. Noone was happy about that. Well I'm glad to be done with BMT and hope to have a good time in the Air Force.

Enjoy the weekend!


6/28/2006 All done

New ROM up.

Well, everything in my new apartment has been sorted out, put in the proper place, hooked up, and all that. Now I can take a nice long break... Well, after I get through all this math homework anyway. Since the 4th of July is coming up soon I get thursday, friday, and tuesday off, but not monday... Whoever decided on that schedule must have been asleep or something. I mean, half the teachers are taking monday off anyway and I'd be surprised if more than a handful of students show up. Meanwhile, my parents are down here visiting. Conveniently (for them) they timed their visit to take place right after I moved into the new apartment so they didn't have to help carry anything. Oh well, they did help unpack everything.

I'll see you friday!


4/26/2006 .....................

As usual, there's a new ROM and this is a great time to vote and see friday's bonus comic.

Well, as you can tell, I have internet access, although I'm not exactly sure why. Hopefully it'll continue until they officially switch over my service. Anyway, a couple of friends and I spent a good chunk of sunday moving my stuff from my old apartment to my new apartment. Same complex, bigger apartment, annoying new carpet smell. Anyway, the move wen fairly smoothly, I don't have a lot of big heavy things. Wouldn't have been too bad if it weren't for the 111 degree temperaturs. Ugh... However, now that's all over and everything has been moved. Unpacking is another matter. Actually, it depends on your definition of unpacked. If unpacked means getting everything out of the boxes, then yeah, I'm pretty much unpacked. However, if unpacked means actually putting everything in its proper place, I've got a long way to go. At present, the majority of stuff is still strewn all over the floor. So much to do... Can't wait for midterm break...


6/23/2006 Lucky?

There's a new bonus comic so go vote. New ROM too.

So, do you believe in luck? You know, luck with dice, cards, coins, and all that other random stuff. I can't really seem to make up my mind. I mean, when it comes down to it, luck technically shouldn't exist. If you look at it logically, you can reduce all that stuff to a mess of statistics. Coins land on heads 50% of the time, dice roll 6 1/6th of the time, etc, etc... So, when it comes down to it, everything should fall into those odds, more or less. Sure there are bound to be occasional exceptions but, judging by the odds, things shouldn't deviate too far from the base. Seems pretty simple when you look at it like that. Problem is, I've seen too many people consistently defy those odds. There are some people out there who just seem to have a knack for always getting the perfect dice roll or always drawing the right card at the right moment. I suppose you could assume that some of them are cheating although I know plenty of those people well enough to know that's not the case. Plus you also have people (like me in some games) who tend to defy the odds against their favor. You know, the ones who only roll ones and can go through nearly an entire deck without ever seeing the card they need. Luck can be really annoying, especially for something that shouldn't exist. It's too bad things don't work like an RPG. Then luck would just be based on a statistic and you could increase it by leveling up or drinking a luck potion or something...

Well, have a good weekend. I'm going to be moving into a new apartment over the weekend and I'm not quite sure what my internet access will be like for a couple of days so monday's update might be late or maybe even skipped entirely depending on how things go.

See you next week!


6/21/2006 Does anyone really care?

Now that's Shauni's back ROM is updating again so check out the new comic.

Like I said in my last post, I've keeping up with the news more lately. One thing that really bugs me about the news is all the stuff they put in about celebrities. I mean it's bad enough normally when I have to hear all about who went on vacation and who is going on a diet but it's way worse when they have kids. Then you've got to hear about what they thought of the birth, and why they chose whatever name, and what everyone and their sister thinks of their parenting skills, etc, etc, etc. I mean seriously, does anyone really care? If the parents were just some random non famous people no one aside from their family and friends would care. And the news guys make such a big deal over everything too. Some famous person trips while carrying their baby and suddenly all news places start this big debate about if they're bad parents or not. So they had an accident, it happens. Once again, if it was some random person's kid absolutely no one would give it a second thought. Do people actually enjoy reading and hearing about all this stuff? There's so many better hobbies out there. What's so special about actors anyway? Yeah they can act (well, some of them anyway). I got favorite actors just like everyone else but I just watch their movies and that's that. I have no real interest in finding out every little detail of their person lives. Also, I couldn't care less what they think about politics or anything else. Despite what a lot of actors seem to think, knowing how to act does not make you an expert on politics or the world situation.

Ok, enough ranting for now. I've got to get ready for my big portfolio presentation for class. See you friday!


6/19/2006 I feel like ranting

Hi all. Shauni's back from vacation so she's got a new news post up on the ROM page. She says that new comics will resume on wednesday. In PV news, Top Web Comics was updating on and off over the weekend but it's working now so go and vote if you haven't seen the new bonus comic yet.

So, I've been following the news more than I used to, thanks mostly to my custom google news page. I suppose that's both a good thing and a bad thing. Good because it's always good to be informed. Bad because a lot of the 'news' is either complete junk (if I see one more story about some movie star who had a baby...), depressing, or really annoying (some people are just so stupid). Anyway, one thing run into a lot lately is people complaining about lack of racial and/or gender eqaulity in one place or another. Now, to start out, let me state that I'm all for racial and gender equality. However, what I don't like is when some people misinterpret equality to either try and get a free ride or just to cause trouble.
For example, let's say I'm heading up something, like maybe a college. Ok, so I'm running a college and I want to ensure complete racial and gender eqaulity at my college. Now, a lot of people would say that to achieve this goal, I would have to ensure that at least x amount of the staff and students were people of specific genders and races. There would probably be some set of percentages based on population or studies or something like that. And if my college didn't meet those requirements I'd be accused of not fostering an environment of equality. However, that is not what true equality is. For things to be truely equal I would completely ignore race and gender and evaluate all prospective students and staff based entirely on their credentials.
That's what true equality is, when things like race and gender are ignored and people who are applying for a position are evaluated soley on the skills and qualifications. Trying to cause trouble by accusing some place of not having enough of x type of person is ridiculous. If you can prove that place is specifically excluding people because of their race or gender that's one thing. But more than likely that place just didn't get enough qualified applicants from whaever race or gender. It's equally stupid to force colleges to fill quotas of minority students. Students should be evaluated equally based on their grades, test scores, and the like. Extra consideration and/or financial incentives should not be given to minority students just because of their race, religion, or whatever. If those students meet the requirements and earn those things then that's great! Like I said, I'll all for equality. But giving special treatment to certain people just to please some whiny activists is not true eqaulity and we'll never have true equality until people stop trying to exploit the dream of equality for their own agendas.


6/16/2006 Kingdom Hearts 2 Review

EDIT: The bonus comic is now up so please vote!

Top Web Comics is down at the moment so the new bonus comic is delayed until whenever it's back up. In the meantime, you can take a look the last of Opal's ROM fillers. Now, I really should have done this review a long time ago but here it is.

Kingdom Hearts 2 is the latest entry in Square-Enix's surprisingly awesome Final Fantasy meets Disney series.
Graphics: Hands down, KH2 is one of the best looking games on the PS2. The characters and environments are beautiful and look like they came right out of the respective movies. And just wait till you see how many enemies they get onscreen in some of the battles... Truth be told, it would be hard for this game to look any better.
Sound: No complaints here. Aside from the collection of remixed classic Disney tunes (and a couple of Final Fantasy ones) there's some catchy original music including an excellent new theme song. Sound effects are perfect and the voice acting is as good as it gets, especially since most of the characters are voiced by the actors from the movies.
Story: KH2 picks up a year after KH Chain of Memories, the GBA follow up to the first KH. KH2 jumps right into the plot, which is even deeper than in the first two games, and although there are some flashbacks and the like, if you haven't played the first two games you'll probably be kinda lost. And, since both KH and KHCOM are excellent games, you've really got no reason not to play them first. I don't want to give away too much but KH2 continues the adventures of Sora, Donald, and Goofy as they search for King Mickey and their friends while fighting the Heartless. The plot also deals with a boy named Roxas, who seems to have some sort of connection to Sora and the keyblade, and a new threat from creatures known as Nobodies. Really, really, good story.
Gameplay: Anyone who played the first KH will feel right at home here. KH is an action RPG so you level up and get new skills and equipment like in a RPG but run, jump, and swing your weapon around in real time. It's fast paced and lots of fun. There have been a few changes since the first KH, and all of them for the better. The camera is better than before, your MP regenerates over time, Sora's special moves work a bit more automatically (unfortunately, some of my favorites didn't make a return), the triangle button is now used for a variety of special situation specific moves that change depending on what you're fighting and can be really useful, and finally Sora's got a collection of transformations with involve him merging with one or more party memebers to temporarily gain new skills and a whole lot of power. All this, along with some awesome new enemy and boss designs, make the combat even more fun and intense than before. However, the difficulty has been tweaked a bit since the first KH so I recommend playing on Proud (hard) mode unless you want the game to be a total cake walk. Plus, that makes it easier to get the secret ending movie. Like before, you travel between various Disney (and a few original) worlds where you'll meet up with Disney characters and help them save their worlds from the heartless and nobodies. About half the worlds are from the first KH but they've changed considerably since your last visit and are just as much fun as the new worlds. Once again, don't want to spoil the surpises (if you haven't heard about them already) but some of the new worlds are really unexpected and really cool. On another positive note, although the gummy ship is still your main method of travel between worlds, it's been completely overhauled and the levels are a blast to play (very reminiscent of an old school rail shooter) with lots of hidden stuff to find. The main story itself will take you at least 40-50 hours to complete assuming you don't rush or skip worlds. And if you want to go through the optional stuff and complete the journal, it's gonna take another 20-40.
Overall: Kingdom Hearts was an awesome game to begin with and Kingdom Hearts 2 improves upon it in just about every way imaginable. If you're a fan of the series you're gonna love it. If you haven't played the other games you'll probably still love it (especially if you like Final Fantasy and/or Disney) but you really should pick up Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories first if you want to follow the story.


6/14/2006 Kyou wa suiyoubi desu

New ROM filler today.

So... What to talk about... I beat that Guild Wars mission I mentioned last week. Didn't get the best rank on it but, considering that out of the 16 players (two teams of 8) 9 were henchmen, I thought we did pretty well. Now, normally I'm not one to talk badly about the henchmen in Guild Wars. Of course, they can't compete against a good team of human players but they're better than quite a lot of the groups you end up in. At least henchmen do what they're supposed to (more or less), don't spam the chat channel, and don't run around aggroing every enemy in sight. Of course, henchmen suck at pulling, splitting up, and anything fancy but if you know how to use them you can get through just about any part of the game (aside from PVP and end game content) with them. Unfortunately, the ones in Factions don't seem to be quite up to snuff. Well, at least Sister Tai doesn't. And that sucks since she's often the only healing henchman you're able to use (or at best one of two, and since you usually want both...). So what's so bad about her? Well, I don't know why but she seems a lot dumber than all the other healing hechmen. Occassionally, she has a tendency to just run out into the middle of the enemies and get killed. But that doesn't happen too often. The problem is that she doesn't do a very good job healing. Maybe it's just because a lot of the time she's the only healer in an eight man party (at least until you clear the third mission). If so, I guess I can forgive her for not healing me enough in the middle of battle, although that still sucks. It's what she does (er, I mean doesn't do) between battles ths the problem. Such as standing around and letting me slowly die of poison or standing there doing absolutely nothing when she could be reviving me... Fun, fun, fun... Oh well, at least I'm making some progress in Factions.

Seems like every time I turn around there's something else I need to do lately. Fortunately, most of it isn't stuff that has to be done at once, or even really soon for that matter. So, although I'm keeping busy, I can afford to take some time every day to play some games or read or watch anime or something like that, which is good. If I work too much without doing something fun I kinda zone out which ends up hurting my work in the long run. What I really need is a solid week or two without school to get through my slowly shrinking 'to do' list. Not like there's much chance of that happening. My breaks are so short that pretty much all that time is taken up with visiting family, friends, and the like.

And...That's it for now. See you friday.


6/12/2006 This, that, and so on

New ROM filler today. And don't forget to vote.

I got a DS Lite yesterday. So, instead of doing a game review (which will come later in the week) I'll talk about the DS Lite. Now, I'm normally not the type of guy who goes out and buys redesigned game systems when I already have the original. In fact, before this the only system redesign I bought was the GBA SP because after using my counsin's it was really hard to go back to my non-backlit original GBA (plus there was a really good sale). And, although the DS Lite is cool, I would have been perfectly happy sticking with my old DS. But, I ended up getting my mom hooked on Brain Age last time she came down to visit and since then she's been wanting to get a DS. So I figured I'd get a Lite for myself and give my mom a good deal on my old DS.
Anyway, about the DS Lite... Compared to the normal DS, the Lite is a bit thinner, a lot shinier, and with the shiny white case, has a bit of an iPod look going on. Ok, so it looks cooler but that's hardly worth $130, especially if you already have a regular DS. Next up, the microphone has been moved so it's now in the center of the system right between the two screens. That's a more convenient position when you have to blow into the mic for some games plus you don't have to worry about covering it up with your finer. The power button has been moved to the side of the system and it's now a slider instead of a button. Although I only accidently hit the power button on my old DS once, the Lite pretty much removes any chance of that happening. The Lite also has a nifty little dummy cartridge that fits in the GBA game slot so dust doesn't get in it if you don't have a GBA game in there. However, because of the reduced size of the system, GBA games no longer slide all the way into the system but stick out a little. Next change is the stylus, the slot for it is in a different place, which doesn't really matter much, but it's also a bit thicker which makes it easier to hold. Nowhere near as nice as my Mario Kart stylus from E3 last year though.
The real big draw with the DS Lite is the screens. They're a lot clearer and sharper and the colors are much brighter (maybe a touch too bright for the atmosphere in some games (Castlevania never looked so bright and sunny). Simply put, the screen looks great. It's not earthshattering but it's a very nice improvement especially combined with...the improved backlight. On the old DS the backlight only had two settings, on and off. On the DS Lite you can turn it off or choose from three different brightness levels. Even the middle setting is way bright than the regular DS and it combos very nicely with the improved screens. Finally, despite the nicer screens and increased brightness, the battery life is supposedly a lot better (I say supposedly because I just got mine so I haven't had time to test the battery life yet).
Overall, the Lite is a great redesign, especially the screen. If you don't have a DS yet I'd certainly go for the Lite over the regular (unless you're looking to save money). And hey, with all the great games out, you really should have a DS. If you've already got a DS, it's hard to say if the Lite is worth the upgrade, the screen is really nice but if you're happy with the regular DS you may as well save your money, unless you can get a good price for your old one or something like that. Oh yeah, if you do get one, you may want to check out Best Buy. They've got a coupon on their web site that you can print out and take to the store to get a free copy of Brain Age with the purchase of a DS Lite. That's what I did.

See you wednesday!


6/9/2006 Sigh...

It's friday so new bonus comic, new ROM filler, and all that type of stuff.

Well, thursday was one of those days that started out really well and then had a couple of things go wrong that basically screwed the whole day up. Don't really feel like going into details but as a consequence, the review I was going to do has been pushed back to monday. Fortunately, next week is looking pretty good since I'll be pretty much finished with my portfolio and related projects. That'll be nice... Maybe I'll take some time to go to the movies or something.

I just want to go to sleep right now. Have a good weekend.


6/7/2006 Umm...

New ROM filler by Opal today. Since today's filler is a wolf version of me (nicely done by Opal) I might as well responed to Opal's comments on it. I do like blue and wear it quite a lot (mainly cause I like jeans and jean shirts), although my favorite color is bright orange. As for the Ace of Spades, no special significance there. See, I used a Gaia avatar creation program to make a sprite of my ROM RP character (who looks pretty much just like me) and, since we use cards to summon monsters in ROM and the program had a playing card item I gave that to my character and that card just happened to be the Ace of Spades.

Ever have one of those times where you have a bunch of stuff to say and then just when you're about to say it your mind goes blank? That's what I feel like right now. I blame it on my portfolio assignment.

So, I was playing Guild Wars Factions. Haven't had a ton of time for it lately (plus most of the time I have been playing has been spent selling stuff to other players instead of advancing my newest character) so I'm only at the third mission. My friend David, who is ahead of me in GW Factions (although nowhere near as far as me in GW Prophecies) has been telling me how hard that mission is. Not that I can really comment on that. See, my first attempt I got in a pretty decent party and then as soon as the mission started my internet connection started lagging really really badly (which hardly ever happens) so I was pretty much a deadweight until about halfway through when we got killed. The lag continued for my next couple of attempts so I gave up for the day. Tried again yesterday. Spent half an hour assembling a good party only for my internet connection to die just as the mission started. After that my internet started working fine but I couldn't find a party to join, although I did make a rather impressive attempt with a whole bunch of henchmen and only two other real people besides myself (one of whom dropped half way through). Don't you love it when stuff doesn't work?


6/5/2006 Just another monday

If you haven't seen friday's bonus comic (or even if you have) this is a great time to go vote since it's a new month and all. Also, although Shauni is on vacation there's a new ROM filler comic by Opal.

Not a whole lot going on with me. Finished Magna Carta (finally), made melon bread again, been working on a big school project, not much else. For any older readers out there, you may want to check out War Footing, a book by Frank Gaffney all about the 'War on Terror'. It goes into details about the enemies' motives, what America is doing right, and what it's doing wrong. It's very well researched and makes for an interesting read.

Well, that's about all I have to say. Expect reviews of Kingdom Hearts II and Magna Carta soon. I probably won't be buying any new games or movies any time soon since I'm trying to save up for the PS3, Wii, and all the great games coming out in the fall and winter. Although considering how much that's gonna cost I'd probably have to win the lottery to get enough cash (kinda hard since I don't buy lottery tickets). Anyway, see you wednesday.


6/2/2006 Mario returns

It's friday and you probably know what that means, new bonus comic! And, since it's a new month, Pebble Version needs lots of votes. New ROM as well plus some important news from Shauni.

Today's review, New Super Mario Brothers, the very nostalgic DS platformer.
Story: Does Mario really need a plot? Well, not much of one anyway. Bowser Jr. nabs Princess Peach and it's up to Mario (or Luigi if you hold down L and R while loading your game) to go and save her.
Graphics: Although it's a 2D game, Mario and most of the enemies are 3D. Both the 3D models and the sprites look good although it probably would have looked even better in full 2D.
Sound: The sound effects are classic Mario, from the sound of Mario's fireballs bouncing to the sound pipes make when you go through them, anyone who has played one of the old 2D Mario games will recognize them all. The music is a mix of classic old tunes and nice new tunes (although few of them seem as catchy as the old ones). There's also a handful of the usual voice quotes (Mario shouting 'yippee' and the like).
Gameplay: Oh course, this is the reason you're playing. NSMB plays a lot like the original Super Mario Brothers. 8 worlds, each divided into levels. However, like in Mario World, there's a world map you can move around and in a nod to Mario 3 there's several types of mushroom houses you can visit to try your luck at winning some 1-Ups and power ups. In each level you'll run and jump your way from the start to the flagpole at the end while bopping enemies, collecting coins, and looking for the occasional secret exit. Mario has all his standard 2D moves, running, jumping, ducking, and sliding. He's also got the butt stomp and the wall jump (you can slid down walls and jump off them) from Mario 64. For power ups you got the old standbys: Super Mushroom (makes Mario large so he can break blocks), Fire Flower (let's Mario shoot fireballs), and Starman (grants temporary invincibility to enemies). There's also a handful of new ones. The Mega Mushroom makes Mario grow to the size of the screen and makes him pretty much invincible, allowing him to charge through just about anything (blocks, pipes, enemies, etc), Mini Mushrooms shrink him to tiny allowing Mario to fit in small pipes and passages and jump further, finally the blue turtle shell let's Mario slid around in a turtle shell and break bricks. Like Super Mario World, you can store one extra powerup off screen for later use. Aside from clearing the levels and finding the secret exits each level also has three star coins to collect which can then be spent to unlock blocked paths on the map. Oh, if you're wondering about the second screen, it's used for a simple map, score, and the like.
Overall: Essentially the game is classic 2D Mario, which is a very good thing. It's lots of fun and a great nostalgia kick. Unfortunately, many of the levels seem to lack the creativity of the old games, and the lack of Yoshis and any sort of flight powerup is disapointing. In addition, the bosses are too easy and some of the hiding places for the secret stuff are kinda ridiculous. Still, those are all minor complaints, NSMB is a great platformer and certainly worth adding to your collection.


5/31/2006 Got that done

There's a new ROM, although you probably were expecting that. In other site new, I went through the Links and Link Exchange page, removed dead links, and updated some others for sites that had moved.

Well, it wasn't the most fun four day weekend but I did get a lot done. Just one big project left for a while and I still have about a week and a half left to finish it. And, um, that's about it for now. Look for a game review on friday.


4/29/2006 Movies, TV, and homework

New ROM today, and don't forget about friday's bonus comic.

Anyway, the title pretty much sums up most of my weekend so far and that's probably how the next couple days will go as well (four day weekend cause of Memorial Day). Saw X-Men 3. I thought it was pretty good although some of the stuff that happened really caught me off guard. Also, keep in mind that I haven't read the comics so I can't really comment on how close (or from what I've heard not close) the two are. Other than that I've been spending most of my time working on various projects. Although I did spend yesterday evening hanging out with some friends from anime club. We spent most of the time watching various anime (big surprise there).

Hmm... It's pretty bad when I see gas selling for $2.96 a ghalleon and the first thing I think is 'hey, that's really cheap!'. Sigh... I remember back whe gas was only $1.60. Gee, that makes me sound really old doesn't it?

Well, see you wednesday.


5/26/2006 Here comes the weekend

Hmm... Don't you hate it when you've got a problem and all the suggestions you get are useless because you don't have x or can't do y or something like that? Anyway, vote to take a look at the new bonus comic and also go see the new ROM.

Well, I've got a four day weekend coming up thanks to Memorial Day. Nice! Unfortunately, it looks like I'll be spending most of that time working instead of relaxing (got two big projects to do plus some work for my dad). Still, if I can use the time to get all that finished (or at least get a lot of progress done) I can't really complain since that will give me more free time in the long run. Right now though, I need to go. I'm gonna see X-Men 3 with some friends tomorrow (my school bought a bunch of tickets and was selling them to students for really cheap) so I need to get some stuff done before then.

Enjoy the weekend!


5/24/2006 This and that and whatever

New ROM today, although you probably assumed that. Also, if you missed monday's post, Pebble Version has gotten more bandwidth and disk space so you shouldn't have to worry about the site running out of like it did last month. However, all this comes at a price. More specifically, Pebble Version needs to make an average of about $3-4 a month to pay its bills. If you want to know how to donate you can find everything you need to know in the donation info below this post. Remember, every month the donation guage reaches at least $25 you get a chapter of ROM The Novel and commentary on a bunch of old strips. If it hits $50 then you get five new PV strips a week for an entire month. If it gets even hirer, well read the donation info for more on that.

Well, it's been over a week since E3 and my schedule is finally starting to get back to normal. Classes aren't bad, although my schedule went from absolutely perfect to slightly annoying thanks to one of my classes getting canceled at the last minue (forcing me to find a replacement). Math is boring, but I was expecting that. Japanese is interesting but a lot of work, ditto with my game project. My portfolio class is a lot of work as well although, if I do a good job, I can get out early in the semester. I'm also retaking figure drawing since it was one of the few things that fit my time slot and would give me the credits I needed after my other class was canceled (we're allowed to retake certain classes multiple times and still get credits). Didn't really want to take it again but I could certainly stand to get a lot better I have a different teacher this time (who I like a lot better than the old one).

Haven't had a ton of free time (although that'll hopefully be improving soon) but I did finish Kingdom Hearts 2 (awesome game, expect a review soon). Also been playing a bit of Guild Wars Factions, Magna Carta (yeah still), and New Super Mario Brothers.

When I was back home I picked up a DVD burner on clearance, something I've been wanting for a long time, and started downloading some anime I've been wanting to see that hasn't been liscensed for a US release yet (which means it's ok to download). However, I haven't really gotten a chance to watch any yet. See, I mostly watch TV when I'm doing homework or working on Pebble Version. Problem is that requires my computer (which I only have one of here in AZ) so I can't watch it then (although now that I'm getting caught up on stuff I may have some time soon). I could convert the stuff to MPEG files and make DVDs I could play in my DVD player but converting the files ties up my computer for quite a while and I can't fit very many episodes on a single layer DVD (unless I want to kill the quality). I wish dual layer disks weren't so expensive...

Anyway, one thing I have been watching is Dai-guard (I bought that one). It's a giant robot anime. Basically, Dia-guard is a giant robot that was built to fight heterodynes (giant monsters from another dimension). However, when more heterodynes failed to show up, Dai-guard was given to 21st Century Security Corp PR Division as a marketing gimik. However, when the heterodynes suddenly reappear years later it's up to the PR Divisions pilots to fight them off. To quote the show's catch phrase they're 'office workers saving the world'. Or at least trying. As hard as it is to fight giant monsters, the young pilots often have more trouble trying to get through all the red tape that gets thrown in their way. The company isn't happy about how much money the collateral damage from Dai-guard's battles are costing them and the military isn't happy that they're being shown up by a bunch of civilians. It's certainly stuff you don't see in your average mech anime and it's probably a much more realistic take on how things would be. The show it pretty good although it's not particularily amazing. Still, the box set is a bargain price (even more so if you catch it on sale) so it's certainly worth a look.


5/22/2006 E3 Report Part 3: The Games

There was a new bonus comic friday for everyone who votes if you haven't seen it yet (or even if you have) and there's a new ROM. Also in Pebble Version news, you may have noticed that the site went down for a day or two at the end of March and April. You may have also the past news post where I announced that Pebble Version had officially outgrown its current hosting plan. Well, good news bad news time again. Good news is that I got a hosting upgrade so PV now has more bandwidth and more disk space, which was also getting tight. Bad news is that it costs more money. It's still pretty cheap but it's going to cost me $2-3 a month for the hosting (plus the usual $15 or so a year for domain stuff) to keep Pebble Version running. But donating is quick, easy, and brings lots of cool bonus content such as commentary on old strips and extra updates (take a look below this news post to find out more). Now back to E3...

So, today I'll be talking briefly about some of the games that really stuck out to me at E3. Remember, being only one person (and one without a press badge for that matter) I couldn't check out anywhere near everything and I don't have time to talk about everything I saw anyway so sorry if I missed something you wanted to know about. Games will be divided by system. FYI: The Gamecube didn't have much of a showing this year so, although there are still some good games coming up for it, I didn't get to play them at E3 so no news there. Also, since I don't own an Xbox or 360 and have very little interest in most of the games for them, no info there either.

Playstation 2

Final Fantasy XII: The english release is nearing and it looks like FFXII is just about ready for it's American debut. Can't say much more about the gameplay, beyond my previous comments about the demo, but I did get a chance to hear some of the english voice acting and it sounds top notch (not that I'd expect anything else after games like FFX and Kingdom Hearts).

Final Fantasy VII Dirge of Cerberus: Vincent from FFVII stars in his own game which is part RPG, part action game, part third person shooter. The story looks interesting (it takes place a year after Advent Children) and the FMV's are plain amazing. The controlls weren't very easy to pick up but hopefully you'll get used to them after playing for an hour or two.

Dragonball Z Budokai Tenkaichi 2: This plays a lot like the last Tenkaichi (a DBZ fighter that finally offered full on 3D battles instead of the first three Budokai's pseudo 3D) with a few nice additions such as more special moves and the ability to transform mid battle. Looks promising so far.

Playstation 3

Warhawk: This game was what really sold me on the PS3's controller. It's a futuristic jet combat type game which has you flying around and shooting down the usual collection of other jets, towers, and big flying fortress things. Here's the neat part, you steer the plane entirely by tilting the PS3's controller, the plane mimic's the angle of the controller so tilting it back points the nose up, tilting to the side turns, etc. It took some getting used to (I kept reaching for the analog sticks out of habit) but it was a blast to play.

Heavenly Blade: This the best looking PS3 games I played. It's an action filled hack and slash type of game that reminded me a bit of God of War (but without all the blood). The combat was fun and the graphics were beautiful.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Ok, it wasn't playable but the trailer was mind blowing. You really should go find a download and take a look for yourself.

Final Fantasy XIII: Once again, not playable but amazing to look out. Another must see trailer.

Sonic: This is on the 360 too. Sonic plays just like in all the other 3D Sonic games (although the controlls seem a bit loose). Shadow wasn't playable at E3 although a movie of him driving a truck with guns didn't inspire confidence. There's also a new guy, Silver the Hedgehog, who uses psychic powers to fight and move around. He played a lot different than Sonic but grabbing boxes, rocks, and even enemy missiles with his psychic powers then hurling them at enemies was rather fun.


Metal Gear Solid Tactical Ops: Now this looks interesting. It's a direct sequel to MGS3 and continues the story of Jack (Big Boss), effectively bridging the gap between MGS3 and the original Metal Gear. Another reason I really have to get a PSP soon.

Nintendo DS

Final Fantasy III: The only FF that never got a US release, gets a complete 3D remake for its DS release. Graphics are pretty impressive for a 3D DS game and hey, it's Final Fantasy.

Star Fox DS: I know lots of people have been waiting for a new Star Fox game (although I never got too into it). I didn't get to play the demo for too long but it seemed pretty much like classic Star Fox, if you could get used to using the touch screen to steer your ship.

Legend of Zelda Phantom Hourglass: This DS Zelda (complete with Windwaker style graphics) looks promising but I only got to play the rather quirky multiplayer competition mode so I can't say much.

Pokémon Ranger: This is a strange one. You play a pokémon ranger who has to go around doing various tasks. Fortunately you have your trust 'styler' wand which you can use to temporarily tame pokémon to help you out. You battle by drawing circles around the attacking pokémon to weaken them but they don't just stand there, they'll move, fight back, and try to break your circles. You can use your captured pokémon to add special powers to your styler to help out. You can also use your pokémon to solve puzzles (like having torchic burn up a stack of hay) but you're limited to five pokémon at a time. The graphics are nice (hope them keep them for Diamond/Pearl) and the gameplay is certainly interesting. Hard to say how long it'll stay entertaining though.

Pokémon Mysterious Dungeon Blue: (Note, there's a Red version too but it's for the GBA) If you've played any other Mysterious Dungeon games, such as Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon, this plays a lot like that. All the pokémon talk in this game. You control a pokémon (chosen by your answers to a personality test at the start of the game) and it's partner (who you get to pick from a list) and go off exploring randomly generated dungeons in a psuedo turn based RPG to help pokémon that are in trouble. Looks to be a lot less frustrating than Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon 2 although I've never been much of a fan of random dungeon games in general.

Castlevania Potrait of Ruin: You get two characters in this one and can switch at will or have them both on the screen at once. Plus you get to leave the castle behind and explore enchanted paintings. I can't wait!

Spectrobes: Excavate fossiles with the touch screen then revive them, raise them, train them, and fight along side them in real time battles to repel alien monsters. A little reminiscent of pokémon but the unique features and real time battle system make it worth a look.

Nintendo Wii

Wii Sports: This was a collection of tech demo type games so I don't know if they'll actually be released or not but they were fun to play and really showed off how the controller worked.

Wario Ware: It's Wario Ware with the Wii controller, it's a blast! Enough said.

Mario Galaxy: Mario explores space. Looks like a lot of fun but the line was too long for me to get near it.

Zelda Twilight Princess Wii Version: Once again, looks great but the line was ridiculous.

Metroid Prime 3: Same thing with the line. Looks quite a lot like 1 and 2.

Super Smash Brothers Brawl: Unfortunately, this wasn't playable but there was a trailer. Metaknight is confirmed as a new character and so are Pitt (from Kid Icarus), Zero Suit Samus, Wario, and, get this, Solid Snake. Looks awesome!


5/19/2006 Minor miscalculation

New voters' bonus comic, new ROM, as usual. Also, new addition to the link exchange. It's Ten Mortal Gods, an online graphic novel based on the print novel of the same name. There aren't many pages up yet but it's pretty interesting so far so go take a look.

Well, today I was planning to talk about some of my favorite games from E3. Unfortunately, it'll have to be delayed until sunday. See, I had a pretty busy day and was taking a little time off to play Kingdom Hearts II (which I didn't get a chance to finish before my vacation). Anyway, I'm playing Proud difficulty but still trying to complete everything in the journal. Nearly there too, just two things let before I take on the final boss. So I was working on the tournaments and had just unlocked the last one. I had some other things I wanted to work on but I figured "Hey, I can give it a try. The Hades Cup in KH1 wasn't that bad, this won't take more than fourty minutes or so." Um, yeah... An hour and a half later (or was it two hours, kinda lost track) I ran out of time on round 37 (out of 50). Lousy beat the clock section... Looks like I need to gain a few more levels and tweak my strategy a bit. Anyway, the end result of all that was that I don't really have time to write about all those games. Soooo, yeah, I'll do it sunday. I'll have a lot more time free time next week anyway.

Have a good weekend!


5/17/2006 E3 Report Part 2: The Systems

The new ROM comic is up, as usual.

Ok, today I'll be talking a bit about the various game systems based on what I saw at E3. Friday I'll wrap things up by talking about some of my favorite games from the show.

Playstation 2: By now everyone knows all about the Playstation 2 itself, afterall it's been the most popular gaming console for years. Despite the coming of the PS3, Sony isn't going to be dropping the PS2 any time soon. And with lots of high quality games like Final Fantasy XII, God of War 2, and Okami coming out later this year, the PS2 has lots of life left in it. So even if you can't afford a new system this holiday season there will be plenty to keep you busy.

Gamecube: Although there's still some good games coming out, Nintendo seems to have all but forgotten about the Gamecube in favor of the upcoming Wii. Although the upcoming lineup isn't nearly as strong as the PS2's there's still a handful of nice looking titles such as the new Kirby game to look forward to.

Xbox: To be honest, I didn't really see much of anything for the original Xbox, not that I spent a ton of time searching. Still, Microsoft has pretty much abandoned the Xbox since the 360 came out so there isn't much to look forward to here.

PC: The PC isn't going to change much, at least not till Windows Vista comes out next year. The games are more or less what you'd expect. FPS, strategy, and lots of MMOs. Nothing really new here, although that's not neccessarily a bad thing.

Gameboy Advance: Not a whole lot coming up for the good old GBA. It's slowly being phased out in favor of the DS. Still, there's a handful of decent looking new releases coming up if you don't want to upgrade.

PSP: No big news here although the PSP is finally starting to get a respectable game library and with things like Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops in the works it'll just keep getting better. If you haven't been able to justify the purchase yet, you'll be able to soon.

Nintendo DS: Wow... The DS already has tons of excellent games available and even more are coming in the near future. Mario, Kirby, Star Fox, Donkey Kong, Pokémon, and that's just Nintendo's stuff. There's plenty of other things coming out as well such as Megaman ZX, Harvest Moon, Spectrobes, Lunar Knights, and much much more. If you don't have a DS get one now.

Playstation 3: Sony had lots of big news at E3. First off they showed the new PS3 controller which, unsurprisingly looks almost identical to the old PS2 controller. But there are a few key differences. First off, it's wireless. Second there's no rumble anymore. Sony says it would interfere with the new feature I'm about to talk about but more likely they dropped it to avoid more lawsuits (a company 'stole' the patent for rumble from under Sony's nose and has been suing them repeatedly for quite some time). However, the new controller does have a tile sensor. Although comparisons to Nintendo's Wii controller are sure to crop up, the PS3 controller is quite different. Waving the controller around doesn't do anything. Instead, you can tilt it six ways to controll things on screen (pitch, tilt, and yaw). I only saw one game on the show floor that really took advantage of the tilt sensor. It's called Warhawk, a futuristic jet combat game. In it, you steer your fighter entirely by tilting the controller with the plane mimiking your actions. Kinda hard to describe but it worked really well and was lots of fun to play. It really sold me on the controller. Meanwhile some other games such as Heavenly Blade proved that the PS3's graphical claims were more than idle boasts. And some of the games that are in production... Incredible! It can also play PS1 and PS2 games (although it is not compatible with old controllers or memory cards so you may want to hang on to that PS2 anyway). Unfortunately, Sony's shooting themself in the foot with the pricing scheme. $500 for the base model (which was pretty much expected) isn't that bad but it's missing a lot of features like integrated wifi and full HD support. Those are included in the $600 version, which also has a bigger hard drive. Seems like a pretty stupid move after all the criticism Microsoft recieved for the 360 launch. Guess we'll just have to wait till Nov 17th to see how many people are willing to pay the price.

Nintendo Wii: Although the details haven't been announced, it's going to be cheaper than the PS3 and 360 and launch this fall. Aside from an amazing line up of games (including a Wii version of Zelda Twilight Princess, Metroid Prime 3, new Mario and Wario Ware titles, and a new Smash Brothers game) and the ability to download and play many classic NES, SNES, N64, Genesis, and Turbo Graphix games for a fee (not to mention full Gamecube compatibility for games, controllers, and memory cards), there's the Wii's unique controller. It's got a full motion sensor and several optional attachments. The controller is very sensitive, really easy to pick up, and works perfectly. Even simple tech demos like Wii Tennis and Baseball were a blast to play while swinging the controller like the real thing while things like percision shooting require much more finesse. And then there's the real games. The Wii is currently top on my list. The controller is a dream to play with and the game list couldn't get much better. This is the system to watch for.


5/15/2006 E3 Report Part 1: The Experience

Ah, mid May and it's already over 100 degrees. Gotta love that Phoenix weather! Or not... Anyway, the new ROM is up and this is also the perfect time to vote and check out friday's bonus comic. As promised, I'll be talking about my E3 trip this week. Today will be about the trip and show while wednesday and likely friday as well will be about the games and systems I saw there.

Ok, so my trip started last monday. Wanting to avoid what happened last year (where I missed the entire last day because of my plane ticket), my friend David and I decided to drive this year. Also, since we got the Super Pass this year instead of just the Expo Pass, we were able to get into all the pre show sessions on tuesday. So David and I left right after we got out of school monday afternoon. Despite my offer to split the driving, David wanted to drive most of the time so we spent around 6 1/2 hours chatting in the car while I played Castlevania on my GBA. Being used to long car rides, I planned ahead and was prepared with google maps and a hotel reservation for monday night (since our E3 hotel reservation didn't start until tuesday). We got in kinda late, went to sleep, and were up bright and early to find our new hotel and drop off our bags before heading to the LA Convention Center.

Tuesday: Unfortunately, although the E3 preshow stuff started on tuesday, the E3 bus service didn't start until wednesday. Fortunately we did have a car, unfortunately that also meant we had to pay for parking... Looks like not a whole lot of people come to the tuesday sessions. After last year, it was weird seeing the building so quiet. Not that I'm complaining, it sure beat waiting in line for an hour to get my badge holder (which I had to do last year). It also provided a nice oppertunity to watch this Gears of War drawing being made. Anyway, since the expo floor wasn't open, tuesday was all about the sessions (there were keynotes too but those were held off site and only let certain people in). There were three going in every given time slot so you had to pick and choose. Unfortuately, it turned out that my choice for the first slot wasn't about what I'd thought it was and ended up being kinda boring. Fortunately, the rest of the day went much better. I got to see Will Wright discuss Spore, hear some top industry professionals discuss the changes the new game consoles will have on game design, and got some great tips on pitching game designs to publishers. Very interesting... After all the sessions were finished David and I headed back to the hotel to find that the rest of the students from our school had arrived a few years ago but had been stuck at the hotel and missed the sessions. Glad I drove.

Wednesday: Now this is what I was waiting for! Got up early, caught the first bus, and, after getting stuck in traffic for a while, made it to the convention center. Ah, there's the crowds. Despite E3's efforts to reduce attendence, there were around 60,000 people there this year. Dissapointingly, the main expo floors opened late that day for everyone without an exibitor or early media badge so I checked out some others areas such as Kentia Hall (the third, smallest, and least impressive show floor) which wasn't all that interesting except for Red Octane's booth were I got to play Guitar Hero II. I also took a very brief look in Midway's room (not a big fan of their games) and browsed the game art exhibit where they had this neat Kirby painting. Finally the main expo halls opened. Like last year, there were lots of fancy booths, signs, lights, and the like. My first stop was Square-Enix's booth. I missed their show last year because you had to go early and get tickets first thing if you wanted in. This time I got my ticket. Had some time to kill before the show so I wondered around a bit and checked out Sega's booth. Square's presentation took place in a closed theater and unfortunately photos weren't allowed. It started out pretty predictable. Final Fantasy XII, FFVII Dirge of Cerberus, FFVII Crisis Core, FFVII Before Crisis, etc. There was also a very brief mention of their Nintendo Wii launch title (Dragon Quest Swords). The real surprise was Final Fantasy XIII (yes, XIII!!!) for the PS3. You can probably find the trailer on-line know but it involved a girl with a gunblade style weapon fighting off lots of soldiers on a train in a very sci-fi style setting. Most of the trailer was CG movies but there was some gameplay footage as well. The graphics were amazing. Looks like they're going with a more action based battle system too. Fortunately, they've got a great team working on it. There will be two other FFXIII game as well (although the relation is unclear). FF Versus XIII is also PS3. No gameplay for that one but it showed a guy with a whole lot of floating weapons going up against an entire army. Then there's Angito XIII, a cellphone game that they didn't say a whole lot about. After the show I was able to get a picture of this action figure of the girl from FFXIII. Also, despite some controversy, there were still lots of booth babes at the show. Did I get a picture of the FFXI ones last year too? I didn't get my picture with any booth babes this year, although it was kinda fun seeing my family's reaction to last year's pic. Anyway, there was a session that afternoon showcasing Gears of War, Red Steel, and Metal Gear Solid 4. I went mainly for the last one (and the fact that Kojima was there). The new trailer was pretty amazing and hinted at some pretty interesting plot twists. After that I skimmed the rest of the show floor so I'd have an idea of what to spend more time on the following days. Naturally, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo had some of the biggest booths. Since the line wasn't too long I spent some time playing with the PS3 and it's new tilt sensing controller (more on that another day). They had everything on the show floor, which kept the lines pretty small. I stayed until the floor closed, got stuck in traffic again on the bus back to the hotel, then joined up with some friends to get some dinner at the City Walk.

Thursday: Going off my previous observations, I decided to hit Nintendo's booth first thing and hopefully get a decent spot in the line to play the Wii (formally the Revolution) since, unlike Sony, Nintendo didn't have any in the open part of their area. Despite my best attempts to get there as early as possible the line was still really really long (worse than last year's line for Zelda Twilight Princess). Fortunately, it moved quicker than I thought it would be it still took my over 2 1/2 hours to get in the Wii area (good thing I had my Gameboy and DS). Fortunately, it was pretty big and there was lots to do and see inside. Although there were even more lines to play the games. Because of the lines I decided to pass on playing Mario, Zelda, and Metriod but I did try lots of other games (once again more on that another day) and get some pictures of the controller. The Wii stuff took up most of my day but I did have some time to listen to a great piano player playing game music at Brady's booth. He even played some things blindfolded. I also caught a bit of Activision's skateboarding show. Also spent a while at Namco's booth collecting Pacman figures. Once the floor closed it was back through traffic, to the hotel, and then to City Walk for food.

Friday: With my three main goals (PS3, Nintendo Wii, and Square-Enix show) out of the way I spent the last day wondering around, trying out games, catching some shows, and collecting swag (free stuff). A couple highlites included NCSoft's big show, and more piano music. I left the show floor a little early at David'd request and we got to drive all the way back to AZ. Back home, I began the usual tasks of unpacking, catching up on stuff, and sorting out all my swag.

All in all it was a great show. I learned a lot, had fun, tried lots of interesting games, and got lots of free stuff. Check back wednesday and friday for more details about the PS3, Wii, and my favorite games from the show.


5/10/2006 Here goes...

Well, I'm in CA for E3. I have internet but it's a lousy connection so I probably won't be able to get on the forums much. Anyway, updates will continue but may be slightly early or late depending on how things go and I probably won't do any news posts. ROM should update normally too. Look for lots of E3 info next week once I get back to AZ.


5/10/2006 Here goes...

Well, I'm in CA for E3. I have internet but it's a lousy connection so I probably won't be able to get on the forums much. Anyway, updates will continue but may be slightly early or late depending on how things go and I probably won't do any news posts. ROM should update normally too. Look for lots of E3 info next week once I get back to AZ.


5/8/2006 One more trip

To repeat something I seem to say nearly every week, there's a new ROM and this is also a good time to see friday's bonus comic if you haven't already.

Well, vacation is over, school is starting again for me (my school has a full summer semester), and I'm off to E3 for the next few days. I'll get some pictures and tell you all about it next week. In the mean time, I'll do my best to update the comic on wednesday and friday although no guarantees since I'm not sure what my internet access will be like.


5/5/2006 I don't need a title! Ah crap...

As usual, there's a new bonus comic for everyone who votes and a new ROM comic.

First of, a bit about Brain Age. It's for the Nintendo DS but it's not exactly a game. Brain Age is based on the reseach of a Japanese scientist. The premiss is that by doing a series of simple puzzle exercises every day it helps keep your brain sharp. When you first start Brain Age you'll run through a short into and be given a quick test which gives you your starting brain age score. From then on, every day you're supposed to run through the daily exercises which are made up of a collection of mini-games. You can do them in whatever order you want or even skip some if you feel like it. First up is Calculations x 20, a series of simple math problems you have to solve as fast as possible (you use the touch screen to write the answers). Next is Calculations x 100, the same thing except with 100 problems instead of 20. You're scored based on the time it takes to get through all the problems but there's a penalty for wrong answers. Next is High Low, which involves memorizing a collection of numbers that appear briefly on the screen and then put them in order of lowest to highest after they disapear. There's also Speed Reading, where you have to read a passage out loud as fast as you can (honesty is important here); Syllable Count which is obviously enough counting the syllables in a sentences; Head Count where you keep track of the number of people inside a house as new people come and go; Triangle Math which is a different twist on math problems, and one final game where you solve math problems verbally using the DS mike. Of course, you don't start out with all of these games, you have to unlock them by playing the game everyday (it takes several weeks to unlock everything). As an added incentive to keep playing, the game only records your scores for each game once per day.
Aside from training, you can also take the Brain Age test once a day. Aside from the first time, the Brain Age test consists of three randomly chosen games (which are different than the training games). Your Brain Age ranges from 20 years old (the best score) to 80 (the worst). As an added bonus, there's lots of Sudoku puzzles to keep you busy (these don't count towards your Brain Age or daily training).
Overall, I'm not entirely sure if it makes you smarter (although your scores definately improve over time) but Brain Age is a fun and fairly addicting way to spend the 15-20 minutes a day it takes you work through everything. Even better if you can get your friends or family to play (each cart supports four different players) and compare scores. Plus it's only $20 so it won't set you back much.

Well, I'll be back in AZ on sunday and leaving again the next day to go to E3. Monday's update won't be interrupted. I'll try my best to update while I'm gone but cause I'll be at a hotel no guarentees. Naturally, I'll take some pictures and tell you all about E3 when I get back.

Have a good weekend!


5/3/2006 Only a few more days?

The new ROM is up.

I really wish my break was longer. I'm having fun and all (and getting some work done) but I could really use more time, especially since I haven't had a long break for over two years.

Been playing Guild Wars Factions a little. It's a lot of fun and features plenty of improvements over the original GW, especially in the early parts of the game. The pacing is a million times better in Factions and the new professions are great. Look for more on Factions over the coming weeks.


5/1/2006 Sorry about that

Well, Pebble Version has officially outgrown its current hosting plan. In some respects, that's a good thing since it means that the comic is getting more popular (unfortunately more popular doesn't seem to mean more donations). On the other hand, it means that I need to get some more bandwidth for the site soon so it doesn't have any more downtime like it did the end of the last couple of months. My host and I are working on it hopefully it won't happen again.

Anyway, since most of you probably didn't get a chance to see it yet, I'm leaving friday's comic up until wednesday. This would also be a good time to vote and check out friday's bonus comic (which you probably haven't gotten to see yet either).

So I finally got to watch Final Fantasy VII Advent Children. Of course, I could have just downloaded it off the net months ago like most of my friends did but I wanted to wait for a legal copy. Although FFVII isn't my favorite Final Fantasy (or even my second favorite for that matter), it's a great game and I've been really looking forward to this movie. The graphics are nothing short of amazing, it's definately some of the best CG ever made. Music is great too, especially since it's mostly remixes of tracks from the game. The story takes place two years after the end of FFVII and, without giving too much away, involves Cloud and friends fighting a mysterious trio who are preparing for what they call the Reunion. And when I say fighting I mean fighting, there's a ton of battles in the movie. I was pretty happy to see the inclusion of limit breaks although I had to wonder why none of the good guys really used materia (although the bad guys did) and why noone was carrying around some spare Elixers or something to heal themselves. Overall, the story is a little strange but it all makes sense if you pay close enough attention, certainly not bad for a 100 minute movie.
I've heard a lot of people complain about the English dub of the movie. Personally, I don't really have a problem with either the English or the Japanese voices. At least for the most part... There were a couple of English voices that I really couldn't stand but fortunately those characters had so few lines that it didn't really matter. I think both versions are pretty good.
Overall, FFVII AC makes for an entertaining follow up to a classic game although some people may have trouble following the story. If you've never played FFVII you should probably go and do it before watching AC if you want to do anything besides admire the pretty graphics since the story is tied pretty heavily into events that happened during the game (besides, it's a great game). If you did like FFVII, then you should definately check it out.


4/28/2006 Look who's back!

New bonus comic for everyone who votes. New ROM. You all know the drill. As for today's strips, I figured it was about time the blck suit guys put in another appearance since we haven't seen them for a while.

Well, I'm officially on vacation, at least for a little while. I'm also still behind on Pebble Version strips thanks to the last few days of finals. So yeah, I gotta work on those. Hopefully I'll be caught up soon.


4/26/2006 Break time at last

New ROM today. And if you didn't see it on monday, there's a new essay on the Extras Page.

Well, I'll be taking my last final exam pretty soon and then it's off to CO for a short but much needed vacation. Unfortunately, I only get like a week and a half off before it's back to school. On the up side, I'll be spending most of the first week of the summer semester at E3!

Unfortunatly, one thing I won't have in CO or at E3 is my PS2 which means it's gonna be a while before I can finish Kingdom Hearts II. Kinda disapointing, especially since I'm so close to the end (just finishing up the tournaments and a few other things before heading for the final boss). Oh well, it'll give me an excuse to work on some computer and Gameboy games I've been meaning to play. Gee, I have so many games sitting around that I need to play... Maybe I'll have more time this coming semester. Or maybe I'll just have to wait till my 4th of July break and spend the entire time playing stuff. Oh, look for a review of Brain Age in the near future.

Anyway, I have to run. Got to study for my test. Later all!


4/24/2006 The work continues...

Remember that friday's bonus comic is up if you want to vote. Also, there is a new ROM today.

I'll be heading back home to CO wednesday after my last final. My break is pretty short but at least it's something. Pebble Version updates should continue as usual. Until then, I've got plenty of homework to keep my occupied.

You know what I hate? It's not doing as well as I should at something and not knowing why. For example, if I don't study and screw up a test I know what I did wrong. I can get on myself for slacking off and do better next time. Or if I lose to someone in a video game I could say something like 'wow, he's really good I should practice more so I can do that'. In cases like that I know what went wrong and what I can do to see that it doesn't happen again. But not knowing really gets on my nerves, especially if it's at something that I'm positive I should be successful at. If I don't know why I didn't suceede how can I prepare for my next attempt? For that matter, how do I even know that I need to prepare? Maybe I did everything fine and it was just a mistake or bad luck... That Japanese Speech contest was one example. I went up, I thought I did a good job presenting my speech, my teacher thought I did a good job, and I even had the hardest most complex speech in my catagory but I didn't win a prize (even though some people I was sure I'd done better than did). I had no idea what I'd done wrong and even my teacher wasn't sure why I hadn't won one of the prizes. And that really bugs me. Did I make some big mistake that my teacher and I didn't catch? Did the judges not like my subject? My outfit? Sigh... Oh well, I did learn a lot and improved my Japanese a bit so I'm glad I entered but not knowing why I didn't win is really annoying.
My attempts at finding a publisher for my books tends to lead to a similiar situation. Although I've been working on that for years so I'm used to it by now. Speaking of which, I've added a new essay to the extras page. It was the final project for one of my classes and deals with the process of getting something published and how I think it could be improved.

Well, that's all for today. See you wednesday.


4/21/2006 The end is coming

There's a new bonus comic for voters and a new ROM up.

I'm almost done with finals. Just three more tests, one paper to edit, and a whole lot of Japanese homework. Then there's my speech contest on sunday. Have I mentioned that before? I've been preparing for it for the last two or three months. I already wrote an original speech in Japanese, submitted it, memorized it, and on sunday I'm going to present it. Wish me luck.

There's only five episodes left before the end of Alias. I've been watching it for years and, although the last couple of seasons have gotten kinda out there plotwise (some of the twists are straight out of a soap opera), it's still pretty good, especially for an American show. But this begs the question, what am I going to watch when it's over? Well, I still have my DVDs, anime, and the occasional sitcoms and comedy shows on TV but you know what I mean. I need something to replace Alias with. Hmm... I've been watching Smallville on and off for a while. It's ok (I am a bit of a Superman fan) but the storylines often border on ridiculous or blatently rip off other stuff. I've heard good things about Lost and 24 but they don't look like the kind of shows you can just start watching in the middle. Maybe I can borrow a DVD set or something...

Well, back to homework. See you monday!


4/19/2006 Getting there...

Hello world (or at least whatever percentage of the world reads these news posts). New ROM today.

Well, finals are progressing fairly well although I still have plenty to do. Unfortunately, I won't be done until a week from today (which cuts my already short vacation down to a week and a half). I'm getting caught up on stuff although I'm not quite there yet so a good long post will have to wait.

Oh yes, there's a new site on the Link Exchange page (look near the bottom in the text links).

Ooh, today's the last day of Passover. I can eat bread again tomorrow!

See you friday!


4/17/2006 If you've got a minute...

Please vote (if you haven't already) and check out the new ROM. As I predicted, Pebble Version's wikipedia entry has been nominated for delation. For those of you who want to contribute to the discussion (and maybe save the entry) you can do so here, just please keep your comments intelligent and don't spam.

Well, Anizona was a lot of fun and I even won a couple of nice prizes while I was there (Matt has the best contests, I always end up winning something). Unfortunately, it didn't help me get caught up on my homework or on Pebble Version strips so I'd better get back to work. I'll see you wednesday, hopefully I'll be a bit more on top of things by then.


4/14/2006 ...

As always, vote to see the new bonus comic and also take a look at the latest ROM. Oh, FYI: that second pokédex page in today's strip is pretty close to the one in the game itself.

I would have some stuff to say but I'm really far behind on next week's strips and I've been having computer trouble to boot so I really don't have time to chat. See you monday.


4/12/2006 I have to do all that?!?

New ROM is up.

Hey, look what I found! Looks like Pebble Version has a wikipedia entry. Hope it lasts. I've been on and off wikipedia for about a year (mostly to look stuff up although I do make occasional edits) and some people go ballistic whenever they see something that they don't think is notable enough (and some of their opinions on what is notable and what isn't are pretty odd). In my opinion the more information that's available on wikipedia the better. It's nice to be able to go on and look up just about anything I feel like.

Anyway, I've just been running around like crazy trying to get ahead on my homework on other stuff since I'll be losing a lot of time to Passover and Anizona. Well, I gotta get going. I've got more homework, more parts of my speech to memorize, cooking to do, a level design to finish, and lots more...

See you friday and happy Passover!


4/10/2006 And it begins again

Hi everyone! Remember to vote and also to look at the new ROM comic. And Tylor, if you're reading this please e-mail me ASAP, I keep getting 'no data connection' errors when I connect to the ftp server.

So... Once again it's getting near finals for me. Fortunately, the way my classes are this semester, I don't have a lot of big final projects which means I won't be glued to my computer for the next couple weeks, which is certainly a relief. Not that I'm not going to be busy. I still have some school stuff to do plus there's a few events coming up that'll leave me with a lot less time to study.

First off is Passover. If you don't know what Passover is, it's a holiday celebrating when the Isrealites left Egypt in the book of Exodus (part of the Bible). There's a big ceramony/party called a seder and then for the next week you don't eat anything made with yeast. It's one of my favorite holidays. I was hoping school would get out early enough for me to get home but that's not going to happen so I'm having a seder here instead (still have a lot I need to get done for that).

Then over the weekend is Anizona, the Phoenix area's fledging anime convention. This is only the second year. I was there for the first one and it was pretty good for a first year con. I'm looking forward to seeing what it's like this year. Although I really think they should have planned for more people, it's already sold out just from preregistrations. Anyway, if any of you happen to be going say hi if you see me. I'll be there most of friday, saturday night, and sunday. There's a picture of me on the About Me page.

Finally, there's a Japanese speech contest that I'm entering. I spent quite a long time writing and editing my speech (not easy with my limited vocabulary) and now I'm working on memorizing the whole thing (about half way there so far).

Lately I'm been putting most of the free time I have left into Kingdom Hearts 2, which just keeps getting better and better. I've been waiting for it ever since I finished the first Kingdom Hearts and I'm pleased to say that I am not disapointed. And there's just so much stuff to do. My game timer is around 30 hours right now and I can tell that I'm nowhere near the end. Excellent game...

See you wednesday!


4/7/2006 Hmmm........

Sorry for the late update. I've been having trouble with my ftp conntection lately. In the end I had to upload every file manually (hopefully I didn't miss any). On a partially related note, Tylor if you're reading this send me an e-mail some time, I haven't talked to you in ages plus this ftp glitch is driving me nuts. Anyway, there's a new bonus comic so remember to vote and take a look. New ROM too.

Gee... I can't think of anything to say right now. Well, the 2 1/2 hours of Japanese homework followed by the 2 hours of art class (with another half hour of driving and waiting for class to start thrown in) and then another hour and a half of Japanese homework with a bit of rote memorization thrown in here and there (I'm memorizing a speech in Japanese for a contest) left my brain kinda fried.

See you monday!


4/5/2006 Gotta stop doing that...

As usual, there's a new ROM. Not much else to say about Pebble Version right now. I'm still considering trying something different with the bonus comics although nothing is definite yet and I wouldn't have time for anything until after finals anyway.

As for what I have to stop doing... I need to stop playing video games when I'm supposed to be working on Pebble Version. Well, not that I do it often, just the last couple days... And, because of that, I should probably cut this short and get to work.



4/3/2006 April Fools!

So, if you haven't figured it out yet, that strip I posted saturday was an April Fools joke. Unfortunately, I didn't get it up till kinda late in the day. If you missed the April Fools strip you can find it here. Since it's a new month, please vote for Pebble Version on TWC so we get off to a good start. Also, there's a new ROM. Er, make that an old ROM... Uh, just read Shauni's news post on the main page. That'll explain everything.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a lot of time to play Kingdom Hearts II over the weeked. Oh well, I'm caught up with just about everything now so that's good. Doesn't help that I keep getting distracted by the gummi ship levels. Man are those things addicting. Well, I'd better get going. See you wednesday!

Oh yeah, Taylor if you're reading this drop me an e-mail sometime. I haven't talked to you ages.


3/31/2006 I love Kingdom Hearts II!!! I hate shopping!!!

There's a new bonus comic so go vote! New ROM is up too.

Well, the two statements in the title (along with 'I've got too much homework!!!') pretty much sum up my week.

First up, Kingdom Hearts II. Oh man, this game is everything I was hoping for and more. Best game I've played in ages. Highly recommended. However, if you haven't played through both Kingdom Hearts (PS2) and the sorta sequel Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories (GBA) you should probably do that first. There are some flashbacks and stuff early on in the game but if you haven't played both the previous games, the story will probably lose you pretty quickly. Besides, those games are great too. For those of you who have played them, KHII improves on the first in tons of ways. Keep in mind, I'm only about 9 hours in so there's plenty I haven't seen yet. Anyway, the camera is a bit tighter this time around so you won't have to adjust it as much. New context sensitive reaction commands help you evade enemies and pull of fancy counter attacks with properly timed button presses. You can team up withother party memebers for limit breaks, and even fuse with them using Sora's new drive power to turn him into a dual keyblade wielding powerhouse. Party member AI seems to have improved also. So yeah, it basically plays like the first KH with lots of tweaks and improvements. Lots of fun. Then there's the new gummi ship. It's been improved in every way imaginable. It still plays like an old fashioned rail shooter but now the stages are faster and more intense with better enemies, missions, and tons of special blueprints and gummy blocks to find and unlock. The end result is lots of fun and highly addictive. Oh, and then there's Kingdom Hearts II's story. Interestingly enough, you actually don't start out controlling Sora but newcommer Roxas instead. But that's not a problem. Although you won't be seeing much combat for the first hour or two of the game, the plot starts rolling almost immediately and doesn't let up. And once the battles start in earnest, look out! One review I read complained about the default difficulty being too easy so I decided to play through on proud (hard) mode which offers a very good challenge without getting overly difficult. Anyway, that's enough for now. KHII is awesome in every way possible and I'd probably be playing it nonstop if I didn't have to deal with annoying little distractions like school and projects.

Aside from Kingdom Hearts II, however, this week hasn't been all that great. My trip to GDC last week left me with lots of homework to catch up on in addition to some odd jobs and projects I'm working on. And then there's shopping... Well, I suppose my trip to Gamestop to pick up my copy of KHII went well enough (although they didn't have it in yet the first two times I checked) although I did get suckered into buying the enourmous special edition strategy guide to go with it (not that I plan on using that guide any time soon (I like to figure games out on my own) but hey, it's a really cool special edition guide). My shopping problems started when my ADV order arrived. Part of my order was the Excel Saga Imperfect Collection (pretty funny series by the way). As it turned out though, my box set actually was 'imperfect' since it's missing the first DVD... After calling ADV a couple times (during buisness hours) only to be told by a machine that customer service was unavailable, I decided to just send them an e-mail. Hopefully they're better at responding to those. Then there was my trip to the art supply store to get a new sketch book for class. While I was there I did a bit of browing and decided to look at the easels. See, my school doesn't have any easels right now because they can't figure out where to store them. But easels are usually pretty expensive. So, when I saw one for only $15 I figured what the heck? It was a pretty crappy one but it had to be better than propping my sketch book against a chair (and it is). Anyway, when I got back home it turned out that the easel was missing a couple nuts and bolts. Now I could have gone back to the store and asked them to open up another easel and take the parts out of there but I was in a hurry to finish setting it up so I could get on with my homework so I figured, I might as well run to the Home Depot right down the street and spend another dollar or so getting the missing parts. However, turns out (after spending a while looking and then waiting while the salesman looked) my easel uses a really weird size of nuts and bolts. In the end, I bought the closest size Home Depot had and, fortunately I managed to make them fit but the whole incident wasted a whole lot of time.

Well, anyway, have a good weekend everyone! I'll be playing KHII (after I get caught up on my other stuff).


3/29/2006 Not now please...

New ROM today. And there's was a new bonus comic on monday if you haven't seen it yet. As promised we've returned to Brendan and May. If you're wondering about the grass kid, he's stuck out in the rain. If you're wondering why it's not raining in today's comic, keep in mind that Dewford Island is a long way from Littleroot Town.

Ugh... GDC was awesome but it put me behind on a few things so I spent most of yesterday running around getting stuff done. Fortunately, things should calm down a bit this afternoon after my Japanese test. And hey, my copy of Kingdom Hearts 2 should be in by then (can't wait!!!). For now, I'm kinda out of it so see you friday.


3/27/2006 Back from GDC

There's a new bonus comic so please vote (only a few more days left this month). New ROM as well. Sorry about the missed update on friday. Internet access during my trip proved to be a bit more problematic than I thought it would be. So, now you know how the grass kid got to Littleroot and wednesday we'll be switching back to Brendan and May. Now, about my trip...

So, I spent wednesday, thursday, and friday at the Game Developers Conference (GDC for short) in San Jose. So, I got up really early on wednesday to meet with the rest of the people from my school who were going. After sitting around in the airport for a while we were off. The trip went pretty smoothly. The hotel was litterally right next to the convention center. Now, if only they had cheaper (or free) internet access in the rooms... Anyway, GDC has two main parts, the Expo and the conference. Unfortunately, the passes that actually get you all the lectures and presentations cost a ton of money so I couldn't go to those. Too bad since a lot of them looked interesting. I spent my first day looking around the Expo floor and playing Pantheon (a strategy game of sorts where everyone played gods and tried to take over territory on maps scattered throughout the expo). Since GDC is for developers, it's not nearly as flashy as E3. There's still lots to see but its different types of stuff. There was lots of hardware, software, and middleware. All interesting for people who make games, probably not so interesting for everyone else. There were a handful of people in costumes too, promoting one thing or another. Wednesday night was the IGDF and IGDA awards which honored both independent and commerical games. The awards show was pretty entertaining and I was glad to see how well Shadow of the Colossus did. I also learned that I can't hold my camera still enough to take pictures in really dark areas. Oh yeah, the Nintendo Revolution was on the expo floor. You couldn't play it, but you could stare at it for a while. The redesigned DS Lite was playable (it's a nice improvement but probably not worth the money if you already have a DS) and there were some neat new PS3 tech demos. Anyway, I spent a large portion of the second day talking to people from different game companies and getting an idea of what to put in my resume and portfolio. One of my friends got some invites to the Bioware party so we went there that night. Lots of loud music, free food, and alcohol (but I don't drink so eh). There was Guitar Hero competitions too. Unfortunately, I didn't get to play although I should have... Anyway, the expo ended early on friday (although my flight left pretty late) so I spent a bit more time looking around and talked to a few more people. Like E3, the companies at GDC give out lots of free stuff. There was quite a lot of info packets and program demos but there was lots of other stuff too. I also got enough shirts and hats to last for the next few years... Anyway, it was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. Looking forward to next year when I'll have a more developed portfolio.


3/22/2006 And I'm off

If you're wondering how the kid did get to Littleroot Town, the answer will be revealed on friday. Well, assuming there's an update on friday. I'm going to try to do one but since I'll be out of town I can't be completely positive. Oh yeah, new ROM today.

So, yeah, I'm leaving really really early in the morning for the Game Developers Conference. This is my first time there and it should be pretty interesting. I'll try to take some pictures and I'll be sure to tell you all about it when I get back.

Anyway, I've got to get some sleep before my flight so I'll hopefully see you all on friday.


3/20/2006 And old character returns

Don't forget to vote to see friday's bonus comic and then go see the latest ROM comic.

Back by popular demand, it's the The Grass Kid! That's right, this week we'll be checking in on the kid whose entire life seems to revolve around warning people to stay away from the grass. Not that this has any real baring on the story but it should be amusing and, like I said before, I was getting some requests to bring him back. Anyway, this week is The Grass Kid and next week we'll be returning to Brendan and May on Dewford.

I'll be out of town for a few days this week at the Game Developers Conference in CA. This will be my first time at GDC and I'm looking forward to it. Wednesday's update shouldn't be affected but friday's comic may go up either a bit early or a bit late depending on how things go. There's a slight chance that I'll miss friday's update entirely but as long as the hotel has half decent internet access I can't really see that happening.

I've been playing Guild Wars a lot lately. Partly helping my brother and partly trying to get more of my characters through the game. I've been meaning to make a website for my guild, Guardians of Orca [ROM] but so far stuff has kept coming up so I just don't have the time. Hopefully I'll have it done sometime within the next month or two. Speaking of the guild, we've got capes, a hall, and are accepting members of all jobs and levels. If anyone is interested in joining e-mail me or PM me in game (Keen Anor, Jessie Alaynia, and Linka Aslanian) and we'll figure out a time when we can play together for a while so I can decide if you're a good fit for the guild.

See you wednesday!


3/17/2006 MGS 3 Rules!

As always, please vote to see the new bonus comic and also take a look at the new ROM.

Well, these last couple days have been pretty interesting. On wednesday I had some shopping to do but one thing I did was pick up the copy of Metal Gear Solid 3 Subsistence that I reserved a while back. I haven't done much with it yet (still finishing up Magna Carta) but I've seen enough to tell that the extras are awesome. New camera angle, new weapons and items, new Snake vs. Monkey missions, boss attack mode, theater mode, trailer movies, and the complete original version of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 Solid Snake in English plus a fairly deep online mode. Doesn't get much better than that. (If you want to see my review of the original Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater it's somewhere on the Old News page) Then, since I got the Limited Edition, I also got a bonus disc with the jaw dropping trailer for Metal Gear Solid 4 and a 3+ hour movie made from redone cutscenes and gameplay footage from MGS3 (really cool). And, since I preordered the game, I also got Metal Gear Saga, a documentary on the Metal Gear series with Hideo Kojima. Talk about one amazing rerelease.

But I'm not so happy just cause MGS3 Subsistence is an awesome game. See, I eneded up getting the only copy of the Limited Edition they had in the store (thank you preorder). So, out of curiousity, I looked it up on ebay that night. Turns out the Limited Edition was really rare, so rare that it was going for nearly three times the $40 retail price (so glad I decided to reserve my copy). That got me thinking. Phoenix is a big place, there's go to be a few more copies floating around somewhere. So, thursday morning I picked out the stores most like to have gotten copies of the Limited Edition and started making calls. The ebay sellers were right, it was sold out just about everywhere. But I did manage to find two copies at a rather oddly located Gamecrazy. So, I took a calculated risk, and used the money I was saving for Kingdom Hearts II and Guild Wars Factions and bought the two copies then dropped them on ebay with a decent minimum bid and a $110 buy it now ($70 more per copy than I had paid). They both sold in less than three hours. So, after subtracting the money I'd spent on the games, the sales tax, ebay fees, and a couple other related things I ended up with a $110 profit. Seeing how well that had gone, I decided to call a few more stores and was able to find two more copies at a Gamecrazy out in the middle of nowhere (or as close to that as you can get in such a big city). They both sold about half an hour after I put them on ebay, netting me another $110. At long last I have some spending money! For one thing I can actually buy the stuff I need to play MGS3 Subsistence online. Not that I'm going to spend it all, I've got a PS3 and Revolution to save for...

Anyway, have a great weekend and I'll see you all on monday!


3/15/2006 Ah...

There's a new ROM up, sorta. It's actually a guest comic but it's pretty good. Speaking of ROM, if you missed the last news post I finally finished the second chapter of ROM The Novel, I even did some heavy editing on the first chapter while I was at it.

Well, I don't have too much to say right now. I'm just enjoying my break, having some fun, and getting some stuff done. Sure is nice to have some time off for a change. My copy of Metal Gear Solid 3 Subsistence should come in today too. Not that I'll be playing it any time soon (still trying to finish Magna Carta) but it looks like a really cool rerelease and comes with some awesome bonus stuff.

See you friday!


3/13/2006 And 400 is here!

400 strips! Yep, 400. As in the number between 399 and 401. Ok I'll stop now. Anyway, keeping with the normal Pebble Version tradition, the comic is switching scenes for a little while. All this week, we'll be seeing what the black suit guys' boss is doing. Whether we'll actually 'see' him is another matter entirely. And next week we'll be taking a look at another character before returning to Brendan and May. If you want to know who, you'll just have to wait and find out. I've got a guest comic or two that people sent me as well (I'll get them up wednesday).

Well, it's insanely late but chapter two of ROM The Novel is finally done. And, while I was at it, I did some fairly major editing to chapter one as well. Naturally, there's a new ROM comic as well. And don't forget to vote!

Well, I spent quite a lot of the day making hamantaschen (triangle shaped cookies) for Purim (a holiday celebrating the events in the book of Ester). I've been experimenting with different types of hamantaschen for quite a while. This year's theme...melon bread! I got the idea from watching Yakitate Japan! Melon bread is a type of bread originating in Japan. It's made from a combination of bread dough and cookie dough. It's actually called melon bread because of the shape and 'melon' pattern cut on top. Although, a lot of bakers actually do use a type of melon in melon bread. Unfortunately, I had a tough time finding melon bread recipes online and neither of the ones I did find used actual melon so I improvised a little and added a melon jelly filling (aside from being triangular, hamantaschen also have to have a filling of some kind). The jelly recipe could use some work but the bread turned out pretty well.

Well, I gotta get going. Later!


3/10/2006 Break time!!!

New bonus comic for all you voters out there! New ROM too!

Well, 399 strips... 400 is coming up on monday. So, who will the comic switch to? Well, you'll just have to check back on monday and find out. Anyway, the comic will be leaving Brendan and May and focusing on a different character for at least a week. There will be some plot stuff coming up as well.

I've been waiting for ages but it's finally time for my midterm break (well sorta, since we're a couple weeks past midterms). Anyway, I get an entire week off from school and man do I need it. Finally, some time to just sit back, relax, and catch up on my game playing. Well, that's not all I'm doing. I've also got some stuff to list on ebay and a website to design but hey, I'll be getting some money for that.

Well, see you monday for strip 400!


3/8/2006 Curse those raisens!

There's a new ROM.

Ever heard of Killer Bunnies? It's a card game. It's not a Steve Jackson game (Muchkin, Ninja Burger, etc) but it's a fairly similiar style. Just like SJ games you buy the base set and then you can pick up some expansion sets later if you want to add in more cards. In Killer Bunnies you form a team of rabbits and try to keep them alive while trying to kill you opponents' rabbits (my team got wiped out by Anti-Matter Raisens) and collect carrots. One of the most interesting parts of the game is that you're essentially playing two turns in advance most of the game (each turn you activate one of the two cards you have set on the table then set another one). This takes some strategy but some luck as well. With occassional exceptions, you have to activate most of your cards as soon as they're flipped over. So if something happens to screw up your plans it's quite easy to end up wasting a valuable card you already had set. Overall, it's a pretty fun game (as long as you have at least several people to play with) but it can drag at times (depending on what cards come up it can be anywhere from 1-4 hours or so). I wouldn't put Killer Bunnies on the same level as Munchkin but it's still pretty good.

Well, that's all for today. Later!


3/6/2006 One more week to go...

If you haven't seen the new bonus comic (or even if you have), this would be a great time to vote and take a look. This would also be a good time to look at the new ROM.

So, what's in a week? Lots of things actually. The 400th Pebble Version strip for one. Then there's my (after)midterm break from school. Purim is coming up in around a week as well. I like to try making a new type of hamantashen (a type of cookie) each year for purim. This year is going to be fun, I got a bit of inspiration from watching Yakitate Japan...

Well, I'm running a bit late tonight so I gotta run. See you wednesday!


3/3/2006 Where? When? Whatever...

Hi everybody! As always, please remember to vote so you can see the new bonus comic. Speaking of which, when you vote keep an eye on the character you're supposed to name to confirm your vote, someone from Pebble Version should be popping up there in the near future. There's a new ROM up too.

Anyway, I've been having some computer trouble today so I don't really have the time for a rant. Have a good weekend!


3/1/2006 "Sorry line is busy."

Remember to vote, look at the new ROM, etc, etc... I know I mentioned that I was thinking of doing something a bit different with the bonus comics this month. Well, considering the stuff I currently have going on and the things that are happening later this month (like GDC) I think it would be better to wait and maybe give it a go next month. I'll keep you posted. And yeah, I know how late that ROM the Novel chapter is. Sigh... Every time I think I'll be able to sit down and work on it something comes up. Still, I think next week is a pretty safe bet...

Now that I have a little time to play video games again (only a little this week since I'm still playing catch up with a couple minor things) I'm only a few races away from unlocking everything in Mega Man Battle & Chase. Once I finish that it's back to Magna Carta, which I really want to finish before Kingdom Hearts 2 comes out. I got it and Metal Gear Solid 3 Subsistence reserved and then there's Dragon Warrior VIII which has been sitting on my self for ages... Well, midterm break isn't all that far off, maybe I'll just hang out and play games all week. RPGs, DDR, Guitar Hero, maybe go swimming a couple times... Ah, that sounds nice... Of course, in reality I'll probably have a decent amount of homework to do then but it should still be a nice break.

Well, I need to get going. See you friday!


2/27/2006 Matsuri

As always, remember to vote and take a look at the new ROM. Just two more weeks until 400...

Well, I did it. I finally got through my homework crush of the last couple of weeks. Not that I don't have anything left to do, but I do actually have a bit of free time now (finally!) and things should just get better as the week goes on. Oh yeah, speaking of homework, I said I'd post a picture of that relief I was doing for class. Well, here it is. I'm not entirely satisfied with the face but other than that it turned out pretty well. I'd better get a good grade after all the time I spent on it.

Yesterday I went to the local Matsuri festival. It's essentially a Japanese culture fest. There's lots of booths selling stuff likes crafts, clothes, and books, just to name a few. There's also tons of food and all sorts of shows and performances (martial arts, taiko drums, weapon styles, and others). It's a lot of fun.

See you wednesday!


2/24/2006 Seven to go...

As usual, there's a new bonus comic up for everyone who votes and there's a new ROM as well.

Wake Walking has been added to the Link Exchange. It's a bit of a random humor comic with some short storylines thrown in. Just a heads up though, I'd probably give it a PG-13 rating so keep that in mind.

So, as you can see Pebble Version is nearing 400 strips. If you haven't noticed, every 100 strips the scene changes and focuses on some other characters for a while. Strip 100 featured the begining of the mew hunt story arc, 200 checked in on Xain and Cali, and 300 showed (sorta) the mysterious person giving orders to the black suit guys. So the big question is who will strip 400 be about? Well, it won't be Xain and Cali, I can say that, we've been seeing quite a lot of them lately already. We haven't seen the black suited guys for a while. Then again, maybe you'd like to know what their boss is up to. Or perhaps I'll suprise you all with a completely different character. Or maybe not. Who knows? Feel free to e-mail me with your suggestions and/or guesses if you'd like.

Hmm... I got a new shelf. It's nice and big so I was able to get some stuff off the floor and... Yep, I'm out of things to talk about for the moment. Enjoy the weekend everyone!


2/22/2006 Whew...

As usual, there's a new ROM. Hmm... Do I really need to announce that every update? Anyway, go check it out.

Well, I finished my relief project. Spent way too long on it considering how many points its worth for class but hey, it does look cool. I'll try and get a picture up on friday. I also finished the first version of my Japanese speech; although I'm willing to bet that I'll have to do some serious rewriting once my teacher takes a look and tells me just how bad my grammer is. Still, I am making progress. By the end of the week I should finally be caught up, which is good. I don't think I could take much more of this...

Sigh... Seems homework is all I've been talking about lately. I'll try and think up something a bit more interesting for friday.


2/20/2006 Close but not yet...

Please remember to vote, especially if you haven't seen friday's bonus comic. Also, the 100th ROM comic is up! Congrats Shauni!

I've been thinking of trying something a bit different with the bonus comics next month. The Blooper Reel would still be around but there would be other stuff too and it would update more often... More on that when I figure out all the details and decide if I actually have the time to pull it off.

Speaking of time, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. I get today off of school for the holiday, which is good cause I have a lot that needs to be done. However, most of the big stuff I'm currently stuck working on has to be done by wednesday and the rest of it by the end of the week. So, if I can just get through a few more days my schedule should finally return to normal and I'll have time to do things I want to do for a change such as write that ROM the Novel chapter and actually play some video games for a change. That'll be nice. But, for now, it's back to work.



2/17/2006 What is this 'free time'?

There's a new bonus comic up so it's time to put those voting lessons from wednesday's new post to use. There's a new ROM up too. Shauni is nearly up to 100 comics. I'd really like to do a guest comic for the event. I have it all planned out and everything. Just not sure if I'll have the time to get it done. Speaking of that, Pebble Version is getting close to 400 strips. Hmm... I wonder what I should do...

As you can guess from the rant title, I've had very little time lately. This is due partly to having my family visiting and partly all the homework that keeps piling up. Well, I think I'm getting a three day weekend, that should help a bit considing I still have a month to go before spring break.

Have a good weekend everyone. Maybe I'll be caught up by then.


2/15/2006 Voting lesson

There's a new ROM up. There's also a Pebble Version fan-flash on the Extras page. It's kinda weird but the animation is nice.

Pebble Version hasn't been getting as many votes as usual this month. I hope everyone still likes the Blooper Reel strips. Anyway, since Top Web Comics recently changed its voting process slightly I figure this would be a good time to review the process. Voting for Pebble Version is a quick, easy, and free way to show support for the comic and you can do it once per day. To vote either click on the TWC button on the left or the big banner near the top of the page. Then comes the new part. To help block automatic voting bots you'll see a picture of a character from a random comic with their name on the picture. Below that are several buttons with names. Click on the one that matches the name on the picture. Once you do so, your vote will be registered and you'll get to see the latest Pebble Version Blooper Reel bonus comic. Bonus comics are updated every friday.

My family is visiting for a while, which is certainly keeping me busy when combined with all my homework and other projects. There's this one big art project in particular that I'm working on right now. If it's turns out how I plan it'll be really cool. Maybe I'll post a picture when it's finished.

Well, back to work for me. I'll see you all on friday!


2/13/2006 Mega Man X

Hi everyone, hope you had a good weekend. Please vote and take a look at friday's bonus comic. There's also a new ROM up. I got a fan-made flash movie to add to the site too but it'll have to wait until wednesday. Now for the review.

Following on the success of the Mega Man Anniversary Collection, Capcom has released the Mega Man X Collection which contains Mega Man X-X6 along with Mega Man Battle & Chase.
Story: Far in the future Dr. Cain discovers a capsule containing a robot called Mega Man X. Unlike other robots, X has the ability to think on his own. Soon the world is filled with robots based on X's design called Reploids. Unfortunately, some of these robots start going crazy and attacking humans. They're known as Mavaricks and a special unit (Mavarick Hunters) is set up to deal with them. All is great until Sigma, the leader of the hunters, becomes a Mavarick himself leave only X and a Hunter named Zero to oppose him. The X series tries to keep a fairly deep plot going throughout the series. Unfortunately, it's riddled with plot holes and inconsistencies. Sometimes it's better if you just ignore the plot entirely and just enjoy the gameplay.
Graphics: The games are from both the SNES (X-X3), and PS1 (X4-X6 and Battle & Chase). The X games are all in 2D and look very good (considering their age). Nothing is going to blow you away but the sprites are detailed and well animated and the backgrounds just keep getting better. Battle & Chase is in 3D. It's very colorful and a bit blocky but doesn't look too bad.
Sound: This varies a bit by game. The first X game has great music the rest range from good to slightly annoying. Sound FX are good (except for some of the little voice clips, which can get annoying) however, the volume is a bit screwed up with most effects being either too loud or too quiet. X4 is the only game with full voice acting for the cutscenes. Unfortunately it kinda sucks.
Gameplay: The X games pretty much follow the classic Mega Man formula. You choose from one of either levels to visit, each with a boss at the end. When you kill the boss you get a weapon you can use against another boss. Levels can be played in any order and each boss has a weakness to one weapon. When you beat all 8 you take on several fortress levels to reach the final boss. X can run, jump, dash, shoot, and charge to fire super shots. He can also climb walls by jumping repeatedly against them. In some of the games you can play as Zero. His special weapons usually have a shorter range than X's and he uses a sword instead of a blaster. In addition, he often has a double jump. The levels in the X games also feature lots of hidden items in the levels including heart tanks (to increase your energy guage), sub tanks (to store extra energy for later use), and armor capsules that give X new moves and abilities. Gameplay wise the X games range from great to annoying (X5 and X6 being the worst offenders here) with the original X being the best of the bunch.
Battle & Chase (unlocks after beating X, X2, and X3) is a Mario Kart inspired racer (right down to turbo pads and special weapon items) based on the original Mega Man series. As an interesting twist, you can take parts of your opponent's kart when you win a race in single player, allowing you to customize your kart to your liking. B&C is no Mario Kart and some of the later races get insanely hard but it's still fairly fun to play.
Overall: For $30 you can't really go wrong with the Mega Man X Collection. It's not on the same level as the Anniversary Collection but that's simply because the original Mega Man series is better than the X series. Still, you're getting some great games and some ok games. It's a must have for all Mega Man fans and people who like classic platformers.


2/10/2006 Still working on it

There's a new bonus comic so please vote, Pebble Version is bit lower than usual on TWC right now and could use a boost. There's a new ROM too. Speaking of which, I'm still working on that ROM the Novel chapter. I know I've been saying that for quite a while now but I'm serious this time. I'm nearly caught up on Pebble Version strips and I only have a couple of homework assignments I need to do right now...

So, um, yeah. Look for a review of the Mega Man X Collection on sunday. It's a solid collection although I'm a little miffed that neither it nor the Mega Man Anniversary Collection has Mega Man Soccer. What the heck is up with that? They put in Battle and Chase but not Soccer? And what ever happened to the Gameboy Mega Man Anniversary Collection? I really hope they didn't cancel it although it's looking like they did...

Anyway, I'll see you on monday.


2/8/2006 Coming soon...

Another week, another wednesday, another ROM comic.

Lately I've noticed that Blaine's text can be a little hard to read when it's on top of the mini-dex. Unfortunately, it's too late to change the color now. Since today's strip is kinda complicated, I feel like giving an explanation just for the heck of it. Panel 1: Makuhita dodges combusken's peck attack but runs right into marshtomp's mud shot attack. Panel 2: Makuhita grabs combusken for a vital throw attack but Brendan returns combusken before makuhita can finish. Panel 3: Brawly tries to use a super potion on makuhita but Brendan sends combusken out again and it appears in front of Brawly and gets hit by the potion instead of makuhita. Panel 4: Brawly gets mad because Brendan effectively stole his super potion.

I'd write more but my mouse is acting kinda screwy (it keeps clicking on its own which moves my cursor to the wrong place) and it's getting on my nerves. I really need to buy some compressed air and clean it out.

See you friday!


2/6/2006 That's more like it

As always, please vote to see friday's bonus comic and also check out the new ROM.

I hope all of you had a good weekend. Mine was busy but fun and, as I hoped, I'm now caught up on most of the stuff I'm supposed to be doing. Anyway, it was an awesome weekend and I really needed it. Friday the UAT Rythemn Games Club (formally the DDR Club) went on a trip to a nearby arcarde. Much fun was had by all and I got to try out some more of Konami's rythemn games that never made it over to the US. My favorite of the bunch had to be ParaParaParadise, a sort of mix of DDR and freestyle dancing. Of course you look like an idiot doing it but it's a blast to play. Saturday was pretty normal. Then sunday was the Super Bowl. Now I'm not much of a football fan and since the Broncos got eliminated I couldn't care less who won. However, I wasn't about to pass up the chance to get together with friends, eat junk food, and watch the commercials so I had a small Super Bowl party. There were some good commercials, lots of food, and we spent quite awhile playing Mario Tennis and Mario Kart Double Dash after the game.

So basically now I'm all rested up and ready to get to work on some of that stuff I mentioned in my previous news post. I think I'm also ready to finally start talking about something besides how busy I am in these posts. See you wednesday!


2/3/2006 Almost...I think...

Today's bonus comic is a special one featuring the winners of the recent RP Week contest on the Pebble Version forums so please vote and check it out. There's a new ROM also.

This is probably my best looking pokémon battle strip ever. Although figuring out how to get the effects in panels 2, 3 and 4 to look right took forever. Plus I think I finally found the perfect settings for the motion blur effect in panels 3 and 4 so I can use stuff like that more often now.

Sigh... Thursday was a bit of a pain. This week in general has been rush, rush, rush as I've tried to get caught up on errands, housework, school, and just stuff in general. On the up side, it's working. By the end of the weekend I should be caught up with just about everything (the two likely exceptions being Pebble Version, which would be hard to get caught up with until the gym battle is finished, and a sketch book I have to do for my figure drawing class, which I will get caught up on before it's due, just not a high priority right now). Anyway, that means next week I should have time to work on some other things I've been meaning to do such as that ROM the Novel chapter, work on my game project, and a website for my Guild Wars guild. Plus I should have a little time to relax as well, which will be nice.

Well, I have to get back to work. See you on monday!


2/1/2006 So far behind...

There's a new ROM up. Hmm... Shauni's 100th strip is coming up. Maybe I'll make a guest comic for it if I have time.

Well, it's february which means that Top Web Comics has reset for the new month so please vote and help get Pebble Version off to a good start. It also means that I'm late with that ROM The Novel chapter... You see, I was going to do it but I've been pretty busy so I figured I'd just do it during the time I usually work on Pebble Version. Then this gym battle started... Basically over the last few weeks I've been spending more time than usual working on Pebble Version but I keep getting further behind. Take the strip for this coming friday for example. It looks awesome (at least I think so) with lots of cool effects and stuff. That's good. It took me about four times as long to make as an average pebble Version strip, which is not good. And that's been pretty much the norm for this whole gym battle... It's got something to do with having to handle four pokémon (complete with attacks and sounds), three humans (who talk a lot even if they don't move much), and the mini-dex display... Fortunately, the battle will be over before too much longer. Unfortunately, for now, I've got none of the strips for next week done yet (I was to busy making friday's) so I gotta run.



1/30/2006 Love, Spam, and Instruments

A new ROM comic is up. And, if you haven't seen friday's bonus comic (or even if you have) this is a great time to vote and see it. Also, if you didn't read friday's news post, the commentary on Pebble Version strips #21-40 is done.

More random stuff in today's rant since I don't have time to write one of the reviews I've been planning. Yeah, I'm still behind on Pebble Version strips. On the up side, I'm caught up on nearly everything else so, once I get this gym battle finished, things should finally calm down for me (yay!). Now onto the randomness.

No, I'm not talking about me, I'm talking about movies, particularily old ones. Although, there are TV shows, books, and the like that do the same thing. Ever notice that some people just fall in love too fast? It goes something like this... Guy meets girl. Guy and girl talk for a few minutes. Guy and girl are suddenly in love (despite knowing each other for less than a day, often less than an hour). Story progresses. Guy and girl decide to get married (only several days to a week after they met). I mean, I understand that there's time constraints to take into consideration, especially in movies. But still, the whole setup is just sooo corney. And then there's the other big romantic cliche (guy meets girl, guy and girl hate each other, guy and girl suddenly fall in love). Not that these setups can't be done well. They're just overused and often very little though goes in to actually developing a believable relationship between the characters.

Being a computer person and all, I know how to avoid spam and for the most part, it works. Thanks to my care and my ISP's spam blocker my main e-mail gets almost no spam at all and my school e-mail gets none. My spam e-mail account gets tons but considering that I created it solely to deflect spam away from my main e-mail (if I think a site my try to spam me I use that address) that's just fine. Then there's my Pebble Version account... It gets lots of spam (the problem with having your e-mail address on a website in unprotected form). Fortunately, the spam blocker does a great job identifying and flagging the spam. Unfortunately, it just leaves it in my inbox so I have to sort through everything and delete it all myself. Really annoying.

I recently got Guitar Hero, a video games something like DDR except that you're playing a guitar instead of dancing (it's sort of a rip off of Konami's Guitar Freaks). Lots of fun (full review coming). It requires lots of speed and coordination to play, although I'm sure it's easier than playing those songs on a real electric guitar. Anyway since there's guitar games, bongo games, and marracca, I got to wondering if someone would ever make a piano game. And that got me thinking about pianos in general. I used to play piano (took lessions for around seven years). I wasn't bad and I did enjoy it when I played music I liked (I have several books of video game sheet music). Unfortunately, I don't have a piano in AZ so I haven't played for over a year. Out of curiousity I took a look at some keyboards last time I was at the mall. But even the cheapest one that was both full size and sounded decent cost around $300 (and that was without a stand or any of the optional features I'd like) so I'll just have to make do with music video games.

See you wednesday!


1/27/2006 Commentary!

Lots of new stuff today. First off there's the usual weekly bonus comic for everyone who votes. Next up is the promised commentary. That's right, the commentary for strips #21-40 is up! Expect the ROM the Novel chapter sometime next week. Finally, there's a new ROM comic.

Well, I can check the commentary off my list of things to do. Unfortunately, finishing it put me further behind on the strips so I can't stay and chat. I'll see you all on monday.


1/25/2006 The Rant Without a Name

There's a new ROM up. In other news, I really have to remember that it's 2006 now when I date my news posts. After doing 2005 for a whole year it's hard to break the habit.

I have no idea what to talk about... Hmm... This could end up kinda random... Let's see...um...exercise. Even when you're going into the technology field it's good to stay in shape. You feel better and you never know when a bit of extra strength, speed, or stamina will come in handy. There's numerous ways you can do it. There's weights, swimming, running, biking, and all sorts of stuff. Whatever you do, I recommend setting aside at least half an hour a day to exercise. I do swim, bike, and hike occasionally and my apartment complex does have a weight room although I don't use it all that much. I have a couple favorite methods when it comes to exercise.
The first is DDR (Dance Dance Revolution). For those of you who aren't familiar with it, DDR is a rythemn and dancing game made by Konami. It started out in the arcades and now you can get home versions on the PS, PS2, Gamecube, and Xbox. Basically you stand on a sqaure mat (the dance pad), it's your controller. On screen a song plays while arrows scroll up the screen, you have to step on the correct arrow(s) right when they reach the top of the screen. It takes a lot of balance, timing, and coordination. It's insanely fun and great exercise for your legs. But you've got to be prepared to spend a lot of time with it to improve your skills. I've seen lots of people try it out expecting to be instantly good only to get mad and give up when they don't do so well. It doesn't matter how good of a dancer or game player you are, when starting DDR you need to begin with the easiest stuff and slowly work your way up (I've been playing 2 1/2 years and I still can't do level 10 songs (I'm working on level 9s right now)).
My other main form of exercise is karate. I've been studying Seibukan Shorin Ryu Karate for 8 years and I did 1 year in a similiar style before that. Karate can be really great exercise and really helps your flexability and balance. However, there are a few things to know before taking up martial arts. First off, it's very different than what you see on TV. All those jumping spinning head kicks look cool on screen but if you tried that in a real fight you'll most likely end up doing more damage to yourself than your opponent. Second, karate it's not all about fighting, at a lot of good dojos you'll spend very little time actually sparring with other people. If you just jump right into sparring without knowing the moves and how to use them it turns into a brawl and you don't learn anything. Also, there are many different styles of martial arts and most of them take very different approachs. For example Judo is all about throws and take downs, Aikido uses your opponent's energy and momentum against him, and Tae Kwondo is all about kicks. My style, Shorin Ryu, is a very balanced style that includes a bit of everything (although the main focus is hand techniques). The preferences of the teacher, or sensei, can also have a big impact on what and how you learn. A dojo is nothing without a good sensei. If you're interested in starting martial arts it's a good idea to see if the sensei will let you sit in and watch a class so you can get a feel for the dojo before signing up. All styles have their pros and cons and I don't have time to debate the merits of different martial arts styles in this rant. Although, I would advise you to steer clear of the generic "American" styles that are popping up as from what I've seen most tend to focus on either style over substance (ie. stuff that's neat looking but fairly useless) or go for a boxing/street fighting style which really can't hold up against any real martial arts. I'm not saying all American styles are like that, but the ones I've seen are.

Wow, that rant turned out longer than I thought it would be. See you friday!


1/23/2006 Stuff just stacks up

Please keep voting (you get to see friday's bonus comic). Also, the new ROM is up.

Well, I have been meaing to talk about my classes this semester so I suppose I'll do that now.
First off, Japanese 2. I've got the same teacher that I had for Japanese 1 last semester (who I really liked) so I'm enjoying the class. There's a lot more homework this semester but I am learning.
Next is 3D Design, which I took mainly because it fit my schedule nicely. It's a kinda strange one that involves a combination of sketching, writing (about types of creative thinking and different artists), and making various objects (wire frame figures, etc). Personally, I wish it would focus on one of the three instead of combining all of them, there'd probably be less homework that way.
After that I have Figure Drawing, something I've been meaning to take for some time. Predictably enough, it's about drawing people. I could really use the skills (I can draw decent heads, that's about it). However, it's harder than I thought for two reasons. First off we're using charcoal to draw, which I have very little experience with. Second, instead of drawing with the wrist like with pencils, we have to hold the charcoal differently and draw with our entire arm so I sorta have to relearn drawing in general.
Then I have English Composition 2. Now, although I like writing, I don't like writing classes since I having to write on some subject the teacher gives me. I like to write my stories but, while I am pretty good with essays and stuff, I don't really like writing them. Unfortunately, this was one class I couldn't seem to get out of.
Finally, my last class is Gaming Platforms & Standards. It's about different game systems and platforms, what makes them unique, how to develop for them, etc. So far it's looking pretty interesting and I like the teacher.

While most of my previous classes were based around occasional big projects, these have lots of smaller stuff instead. Hard to say which style takes more time overall but all this small stuff keeps me kinda busy. Especially when combined with some other stuff I've got going on right now like my game project, some paperwork for my dad, a bit of random stuff, and Pebble Version. I'm currently working on the strips for the gym battle with Brawly. I'd almost forgotten why I hate doing gym battles. Not that I have anything against gym battles per say, but pokémon battles in general take longer to make and here you've got four pokémon fighting along with the humans, the background, the effects, and the Minidex (my name for the little stat display I use during the more important battles)(which takes quite a while to make by the way) an average gym battle strip takes two or three times as long to make as a normal Pebble Version strips.

Speaking of which, I should get back to work on those... See you monday!


1/20/2006 Three cheers for the weekend!

As always, there's a new voter's bonus comic and ROM. I'm still working on this month's bonus stuff. Sorry for the delay but things have been really crazy since I got back from vacation. And here I was expecting a nice easy semester...

Ugh... Yesterday left me kinda burned out. Hopefully the weekend will make for a nice rest (well, aside from the homework and PV stuff I still have to do). Guild Wars is having some special stuff over the weekend, that should be fun, not sure how much time I'll have to play though... So much I should be doing...

Ok, ok, I'm probably boring you all. Sorry about that. It's hard to think of interesting things to say when my mind is bogged down like this. I'll talk about something a bit more interesting on monday.


1/18/2006 Kino's Journey

The new ROM is up.

I had a four day weekend, which was cool. Unfortunately, thanks to a combination of homework and other work, I didn't have a lot of time to just hang out and relax. Can't believe I had so much homework so early in the semester... Oh well.

However, I was able to watch Kino's Journey. I picked up the complete set on sale not too long ago. Definately the best anime series I've bought in some time (although that's probably due to my recent trend to only buy series that are on sale). Anyway, the story follows the adventures of Kino (a teenage girl) and Hermes (her talking motorbike). Kino is a traveler. She and Hermes travel the world visiting different countries. No matter what the country is like they always stay for three days, exploring, learning, and observing. Each place they visit is unique and interesting, many are dangerous. These places include a country where people can read minds, a country governed by majority rule, and a place where no one has to work, just to name a few. It's a very serious series and many of the episodes really get you thinking. It's a fairly episodic series so most of the episodes stand very well on their own. Actually, the official order doesn't even seem chronological, not that it really matters. If I said much more I'd probably start giving away the plot so I'll stop there. My only complaint is that at only 13 episodes, it's far too short. I highly recommend it.


1/16/2006 Drawing a blank...

Don't forget to vote and see friday's bonus comic. There's also a new ROM up.

And it's Brawly! Looks like the second gym battle is about to begin. In the meantime, you can read about Brawly on the Cast page.

... Nope, still can't remember what I was going to talk about. Let's see... My new classes? No, I'm saving that for next week. Review of something? No, not tonight... There was something... Oh well. I got the Mega Man X collection. It has X 1-6 plus Battle and Chase (a Mega Man kart racer for the PS1 that hasn't been released in the US before). Although I never liked the X series as much as the original Mega Man series, it's still a pretty good collection. I'll give it a full review once I finish it.

Well, I just can't think of anything else right now. Talk to you later!


1/13/2005 Friends, luck, LAG, and classes, oh my!

The new bonus comic is up so please vote. There was supposed to be a new ROM as well but I never get Shauni's e-mail so I suppose that she either didn't have time or there's an e-mail glitch. As for the donation rewards for this month, I'm working on them.

Well, I'm back in school. Expect me to rant about my classes sometime next week once I've got a better idea of how things are going to go.

Anyway, a friend of mine from CO visited for a few days. We had fun hanging out and I showed him some of my favorite spots around Phoenix. One of them is Bookman's, a really awesome used books/music/movies/games/misc store. There's two near me and I had a whole bunch of credit from trading in old books. My friend and I went to both, looking for some books he wanted. One of them just happened to have two Kalaido Star DVDs which just happened to be the exact two I needed to complete my set. Even better, once I got home and opened them up, I noticed that they were actually sealled brand new copies! Now that's lucky!

A few months ago I mentioned a live action RPG that was held at my school. Well, we have another one this week. The main game was tues-thur with prizes and PVP happening later today. I spent most of tuesday and wednesday with my friend so I was pretty far behind most of the other players but I was still determined to get as far as I could so I hung out at school from around 11 AM to 7 PM and spent the entire time playing the lag (except when I took a break for class). It was just as fun, and weird, as before. Highlights/lowlights included slaughtering The Man (repeatedly), trying to answer movie trivia questions, looking for hidden items, farming Ametuer Psycologists, performing a roller chair ballet, securing a Weapon of Mass Destruction, and the return of No Pants Man. There were six job classes with three levels each. Going up a level requires completing some sort of quest which can range from easy (bring a certain type of battery) to pretty difficult (collect the complete set of 8 DISC cards). I started playing yesterday with nothing but my first two levels of Ninja. Come 5:30 I had completed Ninja, replaced it with Pirate, mastered the Priate and Mercenary classes, gotten two good weapons, and completed tons of optional quests. There wasn't much time left to play but there are prizes for people who complete the most classes so I decided to see if I could get Robot done as well. Took a while but I managed to complete it with about half an hour left to go. Then, I decided to see if I could get Deamon as well. And, with the help of my friend David (and a bit of luck), I managed to master it and Intern as well, completing all six classes (two at the absolute last minute). Can't wait to see what happens tomorrow!

Have a good weekend!


1/11/2006 Still waiting...

New ROM today. Back to Pebble Version, Brendan and May have defeated the last trainer and are finally ready to take on the gym leader. Speaking of which, look for Brawly to show up on monday.

What am I waiting for? Quite a lot of things actually. Books, movies, anime, games... But the thing I'm talking about today is Final Fantasy XII. It's been years since the last real entry in the series, FFX. FFXI is a MMO and FFX-2, while a surprisingly good spin-off, wasn't the same. Unfortunately, due to various problems, XII got pushed way back but looks like it will be released sometime thise year. FFXII marks a large departure from the series norm (even though the FF series is always experimenting with new systems) with things like real time combat, visible enemies, and no battle transistions. In addition, it takes place in more or less the same world as FF Tactics Advance, strange for a series that usually creates a new world for every game. Anyway, I finally picked up Dragon Warrior VIII, which comes with a playable demo of FFXII. I played through the whole thing (haven't actually touched Dragon Warrior yet). The demo is pretty short, featuring a trailer movie and two seperate playable areas.
The movie is a collection of FMV scenes with a bit of subtitled Japanese dialogue and an english speaking narrator who gives a quick description of the setting (countries at war, air ships, pirates, etc...). It looks really good but SquareEnix's FMVs always do so no surprise there. The various races from FFTA make some appearances, which is cool. Oddly enough, the scenes of large scale airship battles reminded me quite strongly of Star Wars.
The gameplay is both new and familiar at the same time. The first demo section takes place on a tropical coast and the second in a dark dungeon. The graphics are all real time and you finally have full camera control. As a result, the graphics aren't quite as good as FFX but the game still looks excellent. You control the party leader as you explore the area with two other members following along. Monsters roam the area and will attack if they spot you (they may fight eachother as well). You can bring up a familiar battle command menu at the push of a button. You get the usual attack, magic, items, and summons along with Gambit which is used to turn AI on or off for your party members. Although you can move around and choose battle commands at any time (both for yourself and your party members), you still have to wait for a time guage to fill before you execute the action. Magic will be familiar to any FF player. Black has the usual group of offensive elemental spells and white the various cures. Time magic is there as well along with green, which is where positive status spells like protect and shell got moved to. Items are also the standard fair and can be found in treasure chests as always. Summoning an Esper requires full MP and it replaces to members of your party in a flashy animation. The summon will hang around for a certain amount of time or until killed and fight along with you. Then, right before it disapears, it'll launch an insane super attack even more over the top than those in previous games. The first demo area has you killing certain enemies to lure out a boss while the second puts you in command of a different party who must defeat an Admantoise to get a key leading to the boss chamber. Unfortunately, the demo reveals almost nothing about the story or the level and skill systems (you can't access the main menu) so it's hard to get a true feel for the game. Still, I like it. It's a bit different but, for the most part, it still feels like Final Fantasy and, if done correctly, the new battle system could end up being pretty cool. Naturally, I'll be saying a lot more once the full game comes out.


1/9/2006 Back to normal once again

I'm back and Pebble Version is back to the normal update schedule. If you haven't seen friday's new bonus comic please vote. If you have seen it, please vote anyway. Also, all the guest comics (including runners-up) have been added to the Extras page. Finally, there's a new ROM.

Oh yeah, another announcement. Any fans of Pokémon Kanto Advance (a Pebble Version inspired comic based on Pokémon Fire Red and Leaf Green) should know that's it's back and updating again. Go take a look.

Let's see, I should probably talk about my vacation a bit. My parents wanted to take a family trip to Kauai (one of the Hawaiin islands), where they met 25 years ago. It's kinda small and not as touristy as some of the islands. It's also overrun with chickens (seriously). Anyway, it wasn't the most relaxing way to spend my vacation but it was still pretty good. We did a lot of hiking (there's some nice scenery), a bit of snorkling, and some visiting with my parents' old friends. I also got some chances to just hang out, playing some video games, and enjoy the cool holiday events on Guild Wars. And that's it in a nutshell. I would say a bit more but a friend of mine from CO is visitng for a few days and I have some other stuff I need to get done as well.

See you wednesday!


1/5/2006 Pebble Version Returns Monday

Here's the last winner of the guest comic contest and probably my favorite of the bunch. In case you missed any guest comics, I'll be adding all of them (along with the runners up) to the Extras page on monday. Once again, there will be NO NEW COMIC ON FRIDAY. However, there should be a NEW BONUS COMIC so please vote as much as you can. NORMAL UPDATES WILL RESUME ON MONDAY.

Ah yes, Shauni has a new news post on the ROM site, unfortunately there's no new comic to go with it.

I'll see you all monday when I'm back home.


1/2/2006 HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Happy new year everyone! Gee, I need to remember to date my posts 2006 now... And, as it's a new month, please use the banner or button to vote for Pebble Version on Top Web Comics, you'll get to see friday's voter's bonus comic if you do. And, as always, old bonus comics can be found on the Extras page. Also in PV news, the donation guage reached $25 in December. That means that this month you'll be getting the next chapter of ROM the Novel and commentary on more old PV strips. Those will be going up sometime over the course of the month. I'll be sure to let you know when they're finished.

Well, yesterday was my birthday, I'm now 21 which means I can do just about any legal thing I want, except rent a car. That's right, I can leave home, drink, and gamble but I can't rent a car. I could buy one (if I had the money) but not rent one. Makes a whole lots of sense doesn't it? Anyway, although I'm 21, I have no real interest in drinking and nowhere near enough money to even consider hitting a casino so it doesn't really make a whole lot of difference for me.

Oh yeah, here's how the rest of the week is gonna go in terms of strips. Wednesday will have a final guest strip (I was going to do a PV strip but decided to try to rebuild my comic buffer instead). Friday will, unfortunately, have no update at all due to the timing of my flight back to AZ. However, Top Web Comics can update things automatically (something PV won't be able to do until the new site is finished) so I will try to get a new bonus comic up on friday even though there won't be a normal strip. Come next monday, Pebble Version will resume its normal update schedule and I should have time to talk about my vacation and maybe do some rants I've been meaning to type out. Also, all the guest comics (including the runners up) will be added to the Extras page.

Here's to a good 2006!


12/30/2005 Back on-line!

The new bonus comic is up! Oh, and look, there's a donation!!! Also, in case you didn't know, sunday is my birthday!

Sorry for the down-time everyone. Despite the messages, I actually wasn't out of bandwidth. There seems to have been some sort of server glitch but it looks like everything is working again now. However, this did screw up the update schedule. Well anyway, monday will definately be a guest comic. Wednesday might be a guest comic or it might be a regular strip (not sure at this point). Friday, as I said before, won't have any update since my flight back to AZ leaves something like 10PM on thursday and I don't get home till mid morning on friday.

Anyway, the vacation is going good and I'll probably talk about it in a future news post. For now I just want to get this up now that the site is finally working again. Have a happy new year everyone!


12/26/2005 Hi from Hawaii!

Hi everyone! Sorry that friday's update got all screwed up. However, friday's ROM and bonus comic are now up so go take a look.

As the title says, I'm in Hawaii on vacation. It has its pros and cons. Anyway, my internet time here is kinda limited so no time for a rant today. However, here is the current update schedule for the rest of my vacation. The remainder of this week will see one guest comic and one normal Pebble Version comic although I haven't yet decided which will be on which day. The following week there will be a PV comic on monday and a last guest comic on wednesday. Friday the 6th will, unfortunately, have no update due to a really poorly timed airplane flight. As always, all guest comics, including ones that I didn't get a chance to use on the main site, will be posted once I get home.

Hope your holidays are going well!


12/21/2005 Vacation time!

Actually, I'm not leaving till tomorrow but I kinda ran through my comic buffer when I was sick so I decided to have the first guest comic today. As you can see, it's by Shauni. She has a new ROM up today as well.

You know how I said if nothing goes wrong I'd have a rant for today? Well, something went wrong. See, just when the flu was going away and I was starting to feel good again I got hit by a pretty nasty series of headaches (as if the flu wasn't enough) that nothing seems to get rid off. Fun, fun, fun... Anyway, I'll be gone about two weeks. While I'm gone there will still be updates on monday, wednesday, and friday. Some will be guest comics and some will probably be Pebble Version strips. It really depends on how my vacation is going and what my internet connection is like. I may post something here if I have time as well.

Enjoy the holidays people!


12/19/2005 Staying alive!

Remember to vote to see the bonus comic! Also, if you still want to enter the Guest Comic Contest, tomorrow is the last day I'm accepting submissions. As for today's strip, I never did like the stat boosting moves in Pokémon. Considering how long it takes for one side to get a KO in an average one on one battle, you're usually better off just doing as much damage as possible or maybe using a good status casting move. BTW: What do you think of the little shadows I added? They're for when pokémon are flying, or in meditate's case hovering, above the ground.

Well, I seem to be over the worst of my flu and am recovering pretty nicely. Another day or two and I'll hopefully be back to normal (just in time for my big Japanese test, yay...). However, I still need some extra rest so once again, no rant. However, if nothing goes wrong there will be one on wednesday. I'll also talk about what the update schedule will be like while I'm on vacation (I'm planning to have both guest comics and regular Pebble Version strips).

See you then!


12/16/2005 Why now?

New ROM is up. Naturally, so is the new bonus comic.

In other news, I have the flu. It sucks. Enough said.

Remember, you only have until tuesday to submit your entries for the guest comic contest (see the rules in the previous news post). If you don't know my e-mail address, you can find it on the Contact page.


12/14/2005 Just a little longer... (GUEST COMIC CONTEST)

The new ROM is up. Now that I think about it, maybe I should have changed May's line in panel four of today's comic to match the title... Ah well, it sounds good either way. If you didn't see monday announcement, here's a recap...

I'll be going on vacation in around a week. Here's the deal. I'm holding a GUEST COMIC CONTEST. But I won't be posting guest comics all the time, I'll be alternating between them and normal strips. This way I get a bit of a break but you still get some normal Pebble Version strips as well. Anyway, all the normal rules apply...
1. Comics of all types are allowed (sprites, hand drawn, CG, etc) but they must have at least some connection to Pokémon and/or Pebble Version.
2. Comics cannot exceed 800 pixels in width or 1000 pixels in height. Also, try to keep the file size to 200k or less.
3. Comics must be submitted as either gif, jpg, or png files. Other file types will NOT be accepted.
4. Keep your comics to a G or PG rating. No swearing, sex, etc.
Guest comics are due no later than tuesday the 20th.

I had a rant all planned out for today but, once again, I just don't have time right now. On the bright side, I'm in the home stretch here. Come friday, I should be done with everything except one last test.

12/12/2005 Never enough time... (IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT)

Sorry about the trouble with friday's bonus comic. If you haven't seen it yet it is up now so please vote to see it.

Once again, it looks like you'll have to make due without much of a new post. Between finals and my game project, I'm a little behind on Pebble Version strips so I've got to go work on those.

However, there is one announcement. I'll be going on vacation in around a week in a half. I plan to continue updating Pebble Version while I'm gone, however, I don't want to spend a large portion of my vacation making Pebble Version strips either. So, here's the deal. I'm holding a GUEST COMIC CONTEST. But I won't be posting guest comics all the time, I'll be alternating between them and normal strips. This way I get a bit of a break but you still get some normal Pebble Version strips as well. Anyway, all the normal rules apply...
1. Comics of all types are allowed (sprites, hand drawn, CG, etc) but they must have at least some connection to Pokémon and/or Pebble Version.
2. Comics cannot exceed 800 pixels in width or 1000 pixels in height. Also, try to keep the file size to 200k or less.
3. Comics must be submitted as either gif, jpg, or png files. Other file types will NOT be accepted.
4. Keep your comics to a G or PG rating. No swearing, sex, etc.

That should do it for now. See you wednesday.


12/9/2005 And the saga continues...

There would be a new bonus comic but Top Web Comics seems to be down right now. I'll post the bonus comic as soon as I can so keep checking back. Meanwhile, there's a new ROM up.

Hmm... I'm beginning to wonder why I even have a donation guage. There haven't been any donations in how long? Remember, donating means that you get cool stuff. Read the donation info below for more details.

Anyway, current finals count... 2 1/2 out of 6 complete. Fortunately (?) I've been focusing on the longest projects. Although that means this week has been pretty busy, it also means that next week should be a little bit better. Unfortunately, with all the time spent on finals, it makes it kinda hard for me to think about anything else to talk about.

Have a great weekend everyone!


12/7/2005 One down, five to go...

New ROM.

In case you're wondering, those numbers in the title are my final projects this semester. If everything goes as planned, I should have three and a half finished by next week. Which will leave me with two easy ones and half of the hardest one. Busy yeah, but doable. And I don't think I'll be losing any sleep this time. And...well, that's really all I have to say. Spending all day drawing storyboards really didn't leave me in a very talkative state. Maybe friday...


12/5/2005 No time for news

Please remember to vote and see friday's bonus comic.

Well, as you may know, this is usually the day when I do my longest rants/new posts. Well not today. See, I had spent a while working on school projects and I had a little bit of time before the time I usually start working on Pebble Version so I decided take a quick break and play a little Magna Carta (my newest PS2 game). Now that wouldn't have been a problem except I ran into one of those boss fights that you're not supposed to win. Once again not a problem except that I was able to set things up so that the boss couldn't kill me (at least not unless I let him) so naturally I decided to take him out instead of running away like I was supposed to. In the end, I did win and I got a whole lot of money for my effot. However, whittling away at his HP took an insanely long time so I don't have time to say much here. Fortunately, it shouldn't happen again.


12/2/2005 December already?

There's a new bonus comic so please vote! There's a new ROM as well.

Wow, it's hard to believe that it's december already. I suppose the fairly warm weather and utter lack of snow are part of that. It sure has been a strange year for me. I've been in Pheonix for nearly a year now and it's been pretty interesting. Aside from the most obvious things, new city, new school, friends, there has also been simpler stuff like checking out new restaurants and stores, the cool special stuff like Anizona, Matsuri, and E3, and lots of other stuff that doesn't really fit in any catagory. It's been a very different experience for me but, overall, I'm glad I did it. Sure I miss lots of stuff from home (my family, friends, and dojo just to name a few) but there's lots of great things down here as well and I can't wait for 2006. One thing I wouldn't mind waiting longer for, however, is finals. It's just beginning to sink in that there's only a couple weeks left of school and it's nearly time that I started on this semester's collection of projects (with a little test prep thrown in for good measure). Fortunately, while the next couple of weeks will be pretty busy, I don't think I'll be stuck in front of my computer all day everyday like the last couple of semesters, which is certainly a relief.

Well, I don't have much else to say right now. I finally finished Tales of Symphonia. I may try to get a review up next week, we'll see how busy things are.

Have a good weekend everyone.


11/30/2005 Just the usual

There's a new ROM up. Also, keep in mind that Top Web Comics resets tomorrow for Demcember so voting would be good.

Well, after monday's really long post I'm kinda ranted out. Finals are coming up before too long so I'm trying to get a lot of other stuff done this week so things won't get so busy later. Although this semester probably won't be as bad as my last couple since I don't have any huge modeling or mod assignments to work on. Then again I do have my original game project to work on as well but the scheduling for that is a bit more flexible.

I was at Fry's Eletronics yesterday looking for something and, while I was there, I decided take a look at the anime DVDs just for the heck of it. It had been a while since I bought a new series, not that I was planning on getting one, not with how much most of them cost. However, when I saw that I could pick up the entire Brain Powered series for $21 I figured what the heck. Not that I really knew anything about the series but hey, for that price I don't mind taking a risk. So far, it's too early for me to give an opinion other than that the opening theme is kinda weird and I've having a little troubling following parts of the plot. Well, hopefully things will make sense later on.

See you friday!


11/28/2005 Harder than you'd think

Well, it's a new week. Remember to vote and see friday's bonus comic.

It seems no one ever seems to really just how hard things are or how much work they take unless they actually try it. I've noticed this many times with many different subjects. Here's a few examples that I run into quite a lot...

Video Game Design. It's an extremely common misconception that game design basically just involves playing video games all day. Not sure exactly how that's supposed to work. You just play games and the video game fairies come and make a new game for you? Unfortunately, some schools perpetuate this misconception in an attempt to boost enrollment. Let's set things straight. Game design can be a fun and rewarding experience but it takes work, a whole lot of work. It involves long hours, can be tedius and boring at times, and involves surprisingly little play time. There's scripts to write, levels to plan and layout, really long lists of items and spells to make, tons of number to figure out and crunch, and that's just the planning stuff you do in the beginning. Then there's tons and tons of art, modeling, animation, programming, sound, debugging, and other work that goes into making the finished product. An average game doesn't take two years to create for nothing. If you go to school for game design expecting to play games all day you're bound to be disapointed.

Sprite Comics. There's a lot of people out there who think that sprite comic artists are the lazy man's comic since they don't have to do their own art. Actually, it might be more accurate to say they're the poor artist's comic but that's another story. To put it bluntly, if all you do is grab a few sprites off a website, dump them onto a white background, and drop on some mispelled nonsense text, then yeah, sprite comics are really easy to make. Unfortunately, there's way to many comics like that out there. But making a good sprite comic takes a lot of time, thought, and effort. In many cases you have to rip your own sprites and textures out of the game, a very time consuming task, then you may want to do recolors, edits, and alternate poses. Actually making a comic that looks good involves a fair amount of time and at least a decent mastery of an image editing program. Making a comic that's funny and actually worth reading is even harder. I spend a significant amount of time each week just working on Pebble Version, it's hardly an quick and easy task.

Books. Ok, most people will admit that actually writing a full length novel is pretty difficult. Even if you've tried it before, chances are you've done enough writing for school or something that you have at least a vague idea of how hard it would be to write and carry an interesting story over hundreds of pages. Don't get me wrong, writing can be extremely difficult or extremely easy (I tend to jump from one extreme to the other every now and then). What people don't seem to understand the difficulty of is the stuff that comes after you write the novel. No, I'm not talking about editing (although that's certainly not easy), I'm talking about finding a publisher. A lot of people seem to think that if you write a decent book some company will just agree to publish it for you. Yeah right! When it comes to publishing, there's usually two routes. Traditional publishing and self-publishing with what's called a vanity press. Traditional publishing is where a company likes your book, pays all the costs, handles publicity, and gives you a cut of the sales. This is usually the way you want to go. However, finding a publisher is far from easy unless you're famous, rich, or very well connected. Basically you buy a big book listing hundreds (or thousands) or publishers and go through the whole thing, making down any who look like they might be even remotely interested in your book. Then you write letters to send them. Theses letters are a page long and generally contain about one paragraph summerizing your book. Some places actually ask for a couple sample chapters or an outline and there's a bare handful that ask for the whole book but those are pretty rare. Whether or not they actually read any of that stuff is anyone's guess. Anyway, they get your letter and read it. Then, based on a variety of factors (including their current projects, the market, what kinda mood the letter reader is in, and the positions of various stars, planets, and sunspots) they make their decision. 99.99999999999% of the time you get back a generic rejection letter. The rest of the time you get a personal rejection letter. Once in a blue moon (or maybe ten or twelve blue moons) they may ask to see more of your book before rejecting you. And I suppose, once every century or so, they actually accept a book for publication. You could get an agent to find a publisher for you, but that requires going through a nearly identical process.
Self publishing via a vanity press is much easier but has its own problems. As long as you've got about $600 to spare, these places will take your book, make you a quick cover (something that probably took an hour or so in Photoshop), and print it for you. Easy right? Sorta. While your book is in print, you don't get much of anything in the way of editing or publicity. So unless you have quite a lot more money to advertise your book, no one aside from your friends an family is going to know that it's out there. But that's not so bad, right? It'll still be in stores, people will see it on the shelf and take a look, right? WRONG! Bookstores are extremely wary of stocking books printed by a vanity press, and with good reason. As I said before, anyone with some cash can get a book printed this way. Your entire book can consist of the letter A repeated over 500 pages and, if you pay them, they'll publish it. Sometimes bookstores will make an exception for local authors but other than that they won't stock your book unless it's already selling really well, something that probably won't happen unless you've got a huge publicity budget. Sure a few guys do well this way (mainly highly targeted niche titles) cause they're well known. Take Brian over at 8-Bit Theater (great comic by the way). His book sold quite well by drawing on all the fans of his comic. Good for him. Unfortunately, getting that kind of fan following isn't easy either. Pebble Version is a fairly popular comic, though not a huge one, but very few fans of any comic do more than read the strips. If everyone who read Pebble Version voted every day (or just a couple times a week for that matter) PV would be dominating the top lists but as those of you who do vote (thank you by the way) know it's nowhere close. People who actually spend money are even rarer. Heck, if all my readers donated $1 a month I'd be making enough money to turn this comic into a full time job instead of a hobby. But, judging by the total lack of donations over the last few months, that ain't happening any time soon either. Not that I'm complaing really, just pointing out that having a fanbase doesn't neccessarily mean you'll be able to make any money because of it.

So where am I going with all this? Nowhere in particular. Just keep in mind that things are rarely as simple or easy as they seem once you actually sit down to do them. Trust me.


11/25/2005 Games, movies, and holidays

As usual, there's a new bonus comic so be sure to vote. There's a new ROM as well although, for the record, I totally disagree with the opinion expressed in Shauni's news post (read on for my own thoughts on the same subject).

Although I couldn't be home with my family, I still had a pretty good Thanksgiving. My school had a meal and I went to that. Several of my friends showed up as well and we spent the afternoon playing with a Gamecube they brought. Between Smash Brothers, Mario Kart, and Mario Tennis it was a lot of fun.

I saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire earlier this week. Now, Harry Potter is my favorite book series and Goblet of Fire is my favorite one. However, I absolutely hated the first three movies so I approached this one fully expecting to hate it. Although, since they got a new director, I did have a little hope, which was soon dashed to bits as the movie progressed. I suppose if I'd never read the books I'd probably like the movies quite a bit. However, the movies mangle the books so badly that I really can't stand them. Naturally it's hard to turn a really long book into a 2 1/2 hour movie. So a lot of stuff is cut, and not just scenes. Some really major characters were dropped entirely as well along with lots of sub-plots. Highly disapointing but I could have lived with that if they at least did a good job with what they left in. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Some scenes are majorly out of order (and make little sense that way), dialogue has been badly rewritten, things have been blatently changed for no reason, pointless new scenes have been added (stealing screen time from the more important stuff), characters often due things that are completely against their personality, and (worst of all) the story's biggest mysteries and surprises are all either removed or given away very early in the movie. If you're a fan of the books, like me, you'll probably have to see Goblet of Fire yourself at least once no matter what I say. Just don't expect much (not that you would after the last three movies). If you've never read the books don't go see the movie at all, you'll just be spoiling the surprises in a really excellent book. Read the books instead it's at least a million times better, just be sure to due it in order. Harry Potter isn't a good series to jump in halfway through.

I'm getting so sick of Hollywood ruining my favorite books. It's even harder to take after the excellent Lord of the Rings movies. The Harry Potter movies could have been so good if they'd just been handled better... Sigh... I just hope I never meet the script writer or director of any of the Harry Potter movies. It wouldn't be pretty.

Have a good weekend!


11/23/2005 Happy Thanksgiving!

First off, sorry for the late update. I had everything ready but there were some server problems so it had to be delayed. New ROM. I had some complaints about monday's comic being too dark. I did some experiementing and found that while it looked fine one some monitors (like mine) it was pretty hard to see on some others. While it's probably something that could be fixed by playing with your monitor settings, I went back and lightened the comic a little as well.

For all of you living in the US, tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a holiday of fun, food, and the like. It's also a time to get together with family or friends. Unfortunately, due to several things (the main one being a really short Thanksgiving break) I'm staying in AZ over the holiday. It's a bit disapointing but my school is having a Thanksgiving party so I'll at least be able to get some turkey and having something to do besides playing video games all day (not that I won't be doing that after that party...). Of course, I've got a bunch of homework to finish up before Thanksgiving but I've gotten a lot of it done already so not a big deal. On the up side, these should be my last real projects before finals.

Well, I'm off for now. Have a great Thanksgiving!


11/21/2005 Let the races begin!

I bet you guys were getting tired of not being able to see anything in the comic. Well, now you can. It's still pretty dark but Brendan have only defeated one trainer so far. Unfortunately, while you can't see much, you can see enough that I have to quit being lazy and actually lay out the sprites for a change. In other site news, Pebble Version is doing very well on Top Web Comics this month so keep up the voting! Now for the review...

Mario Kart DS is the latest in Nintendo's long running kart racing series. Chances are you've already played at least one version of Mario Kart but even if you're a series vet you'll be in for at least a couple surprised.
SStory: Story? If you're looking for a story you'd best find another game. Mario and friends are racing around on go karts, that's all you need to know.
Graphics: Mario Kart DS looks a little better than an N64 game. Quite nice for a portable. Animations are good, the courses and FX look great, and so does everything else. No complaints graphically.
Sounds: The music is pretty standard Mario Kart fair. Lots of remixes of classic Mario tunes with all the traditional sound FX thrown in for good measure. And with the DS's stero sound you'll your ears will have nothing to complain about.
Gameplay: If you've played any previous Mario Kart games you'll pick MKDS up pretty quickly. In a nutshell, you and up to seven others (human or AI) race around a variety of courses using turbo boosts, good driving, and a variety of items in an attempt to bring home the gold. The game is divided in several play modes. In single player you'll probably spend most of your time trying to win all the Drand Prix cups to unlock everything. There are three engine classes (difficulty modes) plus the usual mirror mode with eight cups in each. Each cup features four tracks. Half of them are brand new and the other half have been pulled (almost perfectly in most cases) from the previous MK games (four from each) for a total of 32 tracks. After each race you get points based on your final position. Whoever has the most points after all four tracks wins the gold cup. There are some really cool new tracks and the old tracks are always fun although most of my old favorites didn't make the cut.
Naturally, before you race you have to choose a character. Some, like Mario, Luigi, and Bowser, are old hands but there's some new racers as well... Each character starts with two unique karts and you can unlock a third. Eventually, you can unlock the ability to put any character in any kart, at which point your choice of character becomes rather irrelevant. The karts have a variety of stats. While many like max speed, weight, and acceleration are obvious enough, there's some new ones too such as drift and item. Once you actually start racing you have the usual moves: accelleration, brake, drifting (as always you can turn a drift into a turbo boost if done right), and item usage.
You can normally only hold one item at a time but you can also drag some behind your cart which not only frees up your inventory but can also act as a makeshift shield. All the usual items are back plus some new ones: green shells (projectiles), red shells (shells with homing powers), tripple red and green shells (just what it sounds like, and they can be used to form a nice barrier around your cart), blue shells (home in on the 1st place guy), banannas (karts slip if they hit them), tripple bannanas, mushrooms (speed boost), tripple mushrooms, gold mushrooms (unlimited speed boosts for a short amount of time), stars (invincibility), lightning (temporarily shrinks opponents), bombs (they explode, duh), bloopers (squirt ink all over opponents' screens, however clever players will simply use the map on the second screed to navigate until it wears off), boos (turn you invisible and steals an item from someone else), fake item boxs,m and bullet bills (turns you into a fast invincible bullet bill for a few seconds). You still pick up items by hitting item boxs on the track but the worse your position in the race, the better your chance of getting a good item. Although that's the same in all the MK games, MKDS takes it to an extreme. If you're in first don't expect to see anything except green shells and bannanas while if you're near the back look forward to lots of awesome stuff. While this keeps things interesting, it can get pretty annoying when you're the one in the lead. I'm seen some amazing comebacks and some horrible losses due to this.
Aside from competing for cups, you can also race your ghosts to improve your times on each track. Battle mode is back with a few changes. You've got the basic balloon battle (although now you actually have to inflate your balloons as you fight, you can use a button but blowing into the DS mike is faster and, as an added bonus, makes you look like an idiot) and a new mode called Shine Runner which were you fight over a limited number of shines and every so often the person with the least is eliminated. For the first time in MK history, you can now compete with AI players in battle mode which is certainly a welcome addition.
Finally there's missions. These are new to MKDS and have you completing various short challengs (driving through gates, destroying stuff, boss fights, and more) that can really test your driving skills. They're certainly fun although it would have been nice if beating them unlocked some extra karts or something.
Of course, the big draw of any MK game is multi-player. Natrually, the DS can link with up to seven others wireless with only one cartridge needed. Link play runs perfectly with no lag and if everyone has a cartridge all the game's features and modes are available. Even if someone doesn't have a cartridge of their own you still have access to practically everything. Find some friends and you'll have a total blast. There's also global multi-player over 802.11b wi-fi. You can use a wireless router if you have one or go to a hotspot somewhere. It's usually fairly easy to find opponents and lag is rarely a problem. Unfortunately, wi-fi has its limitations: only up to four players per race, no battle mode, only 20 tracks are available, and (worst of all) no dragging items behind your cart. Also, some players tend to disconnect if they're losing in order to preserve their win-loss record, a really cheap trick. Although limited, wi-fi matches can still be quite fun although often the winner is determined more by luck than skill (barring a really large difference in skill). Your kart's item stat seems to play a much larger roll here than in single player or link play as well although I'm not really sure why.
Overall: If you have a DS this is really the game to buy. It's certainly one of the best, if not the best, Mario Kart game out there. Single player is lots of fun, link play is awesome if you know some other people with DSs, and wi-fi isn't bad either. No matter what type of games you like Mario Kart DS is pure fun and an extremely impressive showpiece of the DS's wireless capabilites, a real must have.


11/18/2005 Back to normal?

he new Blooper Reel guest comic is up so click on the Top Web Comics button or banner and vote to see it! Remember, all the old bonus comics can be found on the Extras page. There's a new ROM up also. There was a bit of a problem with wednesday's update and, while it was in the archives, it didn't show on the main page until yesterday afternoon. So take a look at the archives if you missed it.

My dad and brother will be heading back to CO sometime over the weekend. While I do like having them around, I've had people staying with me for around a month and a half now and it'll be nice to have the apartment to myself for a change. Maybe I can finally get my routine back on track. Which it good. Breaking from routine every now and then is fun but I tend to get the most done when I stick more or less to a good schedule.

Not that Mario Kart has helped over the last few days. Talk about addicting. I just got it tuesday and I've already gotten gold trophies in all eight cups in all three engine catagories and mirror mode. Still have a lot of missions to do though and multiplayer is awesome... The full review will be up on monday. Enjoy your weekend!


11/16/2005 MARIO KART!!!

New ROM. On another note, if you're getting tired of all these dark comics don't worry, the lights will be back on soon.

All I have to say is, if you have a DS BUY MARIO KART!!! I'd say more but I'm too busy playing Mario Kart. Look for a full review on monday.


11/14/2005 Who needs money?

I'm kinda tired of reminding everyone to vote but I guess I'll keep doing it anyway so vote and see friday's bonus comic! Of course, donating would be even better...

Mario Kart DS is coming out today. Aside from the simply awesome facts that it's Mario Kart, it's portable, and it can be played on-line, I'll finally get a chance to test out the DS's on-line gaming capabilities. Then tomorrow there's Dragon Quest VIII... While I have a couple other games I want to finish up (Shadow of the Colossos and Tales of Symphonia) before starting on another 40+ hour quest, I'm dying to get my hands on that FFXII demo that comes with it so I'll probably be picking it up this week as well. Good thing I managed to earn some extra money.

In other news, my Guild Wars guild, Guardians of Orca, now has a guild hall and I've got plans for a website. If you want to join you can e-mail me or talk to me in game as Keen Anor or Jessie Alaynia.


11/11/2005 Generic Rant Title #84 1/3

New bonus comic when you vote (use the Top Web Comics banner or button) and a new ROM today, but you probably knew that already since it's like this every friday. If you didn't, now you do.

Well, this is the start of a four day weekend for me as far as school is concerned. Gee, we've got so many off days in November that they should have just given us the whole month off. Not that I'm complaining, this will give me time to finish up a couple of homework assignments, work on my game project, and catch up on my reading and game playing.

After much thought, I have come to the conclusions that drivers in general suck. I'm not saying that all drivers are bad, there are good ones, but, when taken as a whole, America is a country of lousy drivers. Between running lights, cutting people off, speeding, merging without looking, not using turn signals, etc, it can get pretty bad at times. Sure most of these traffic violations don't result in accidents but many come way too close. I'm really not sure if this is caused by poor drivers' ed, laziness, impatience, or if people just don't care but it really gets on my nerves. I'll admit I'm not a perfect driver and I'll occasionally cut things a bit too close or go faster than I should but I really do try to drive safe and follow the law and I can't see why everyone else can't do the same. I mean really, would it kill you to drive within the speed limit and avoid cutting others off, especially on highways? It's not that hard and the worst thing that can happen is that it takes you a couple minutes longer to reach your destination. Big deal, just leave earlier if you have to. As much as I worry about the idea of fully computer controlled cars (which are in development), they can only be an improvement.

Enjoy your weekend!


11/9/2005 I feel good!

New ROM!

Well, sunday was a bit of a pain, thanks mainly to some really bad traffic, but overall this is turning into one of the best weeks I've had for a while. Homework is back at tolerable levels, I'm getting lots of stuff done, the new Song of Ice and Fire book just came out (excellent series by the way), I beat Julius mode in Castlevania DOS, and I have a four day weekend to look forward to. I really needed a week like this.

And, um... Don't you just hate it when you had something to say and then totally space it out? Maybe it was... No, no, nope. Crap, I got nothing. Maybe it will come back to me on friday.


11/7/2005 School, as usual

Don't forget that you can see friday's bonus comic by voting!

Well, it's another monday and the start of yet another week of school. This semester has been kind of interesting for me. Most of my previous semesters were busy but there would just be a couple of days here and there that were really busy and the rest of the time wasn't too bad. Instead of being really busy occasionally, this semester is more moderately busy all the time. Well, whatever. That's just the way things go. On the up side, I have a day or two off in the not too distant future I can use to get caught back up with everything, which will be nice. I'd really like to just get all the homework out of the way so I can put some more time into some of my projects. The combination of school and family visits has certainly slowed things down.

In other news, I really don't have too much to say right now other than slow traffic sucks, especially when you're not expecting it. Sigh, I really need to talk about more than school... This is my seventh straight semester (although not all of that was taken down in AZ) without a break lasting longer than two weeks in between each and I suppose I'm getting a little burnt out. Hopefully winter vacation will take care of that. Besides, there's a lot of things I'm looking forward to in 2006.

See you wednesday!


11/4/2005 Where'd that come from?

New ROM, as usual, and a brand new bonus comic for everyone who votes! Also, if you didn't read wednesday's news post I recommend you scroll down a bit and do so as it contains a couple of big announcements.

Figures doesn't it. Just when I'm nearly caught up on everything I suddenly get lots of homework assignments dumped on me at the same time. This semester has proved surprisingly busy overall although I suppose that's not entirely school's fault as I've also had a fairly steady stream of visitors and there's my game project. Maybe things will calm down a bit in the spring (yeah right).

Well, more talk till have to wait till next week. For now there's just too much that needs to be done. Later!


11/2/2005 Big announcements

New ROM today.

It's a new month so please use the button or banner and vote for Pebble Version on top web comics so we can get off to a good start. Now, on to the announcements.

There haven't been any donations for a while. Remember that ever month the donation guage reachs a certain level you all get special bonus content. $25 gets commentary on a month of PV strips and a chapter of ROM The Novel, $50 gets that and five new Pebble Version strips per week for an entire month. $75 adds a Zelda page and $100 a special mystery item. And, since the site redesign goal was reached a while back (yeah, the redesign is still coming, although slowly), I decided to add a new long term donation goal. For this, donations carry over from month to month. And what is it you ask? Well, it seems people are always asking me about comics. How do I get the sprites, how do I make the comic, how do I make speech bubbles, etc. So, the new long term donation goal is for Josiah's Sprite Comic Guide. Each time PV gets a total of $50 in donations (regardless of how many months it takes) you guys get the next part of Josiah's Sprite Comic Guide.

The next announcement doesn't really have anything to do with Pebble Version. I'm currently recruiting members for Guardians of Orca [ROM], my guild in Guild Wars. At the moment, it's a really small guild but we have capes, I'm saving for a hall, and I'll make a website and forums if needed. The main focus of the guild is PVE so I'm looking for friendly players of all jobs and levels willing to team up and help each other with missions, quests, and the like. High level players can also team up on titan quests, FOE, UW, and SF. Once we get enough people, I'd also like to do a bit of PVP in the team arenas, Tombs, and (when there's a hall) GvG. Members should be at least somewhat active GW players (playing at least two or three times a week is good), friendly, willing to help others, and have decent spelling and grammer skills (I swear if I see another person 'hu type ike this' I'm going to smash something). If all you want to do is farm and climb the PvP ladder this really isn't your guild but, if you want to find a friendly group to team up with for all kinds of PVE and some occasional PVP and just have fun you're the type of person I'm looking for. If you're interested in joining either whisper Keen Anor in GW or drop me an e-mail.

That's all for now


10/31/2005 The bigger they are...

Don't forget to vote and see friday's bonus comic! That's it for site news.

Halloween isn't a holiday I've ever really celebrated so I usually don't really care when it comes around. However, this year I'm playing Guild Wars, which has lots of special halloween stuff. And, regardless of my opinions on halloween, killing monsters with kandy korn is pretty cool. Anyway, on to the review.

Shadow of the Colossus was made by the same team behind the brialliant adventure/puzzle game Ico, one of my favorite PS2 games. And, while very different from its precessor, SOTC is a masterpiece in it's own right.
Story: After a long journey, a young warrior arrives at an ancient shrine in a forbidden magical realm, a place where its rumored that even the dead can be returned to life. He carries with him the body of a young woman. A mystical creature named Dormin offers to return the girl's spirit, if the warrior can slay the 16 colossi that inhabit the land. The story is fairytale like and rather minimal, most of it being told at the very beginning and the very end. However, the story is much deeper than you'll first expect and the ending will likely come as quite a surprise.
Graphics: The graphics are quite similiar to Ico and have a very misty dreamlike quality to them. While not the best looking PS2 games, at least in technical terms, the world of SOTC is absolutely beautiful with its crumbling ruins, sun drenched plains, and rolling hills. And that's not even mentioning the colossi themselves...
Sounds: There's a lot more music than in Ico, although an excellent collection of ambient noise still makes up the bulk of what you'll be hearing and adds a lot of the atmoshphere. The music, most of which is saved for the battles, is really good, the final boss theme in particular standing out. There's also a bit of very well done voice acting. All the characters speak a made-up language but there are sub-titles so you always know what's they're saying.
Gameplay: The game falls into a fairly simple pattern. You start out in the shrine where Dormin tells you which colossus to go after next. You then track it down, defeat it, and return to the shrine for your next assignment. Finding the colossus is usually a fairly simple task. The hero has a magical sword that can point you in the right direction and his loyal horse Agro can be called at the touch of a button and makes traversing the large world much easier. These parts of the game combine exploration and occassionally some platfoming and puzzle solving. You can also hunt for special fruits and lizards to increase your health and strength. Controlling Agro is quite simple once you get the controls down and his AI is great. As fun as exploring the gorgeous environments is, the game is really about the battles. There's no underlings to fight here and they're really not needed, they'd detract for the real battles. 16 of the most incredible bosses ever to appear in a videogame. Each colossi differs vastly in appearance and fighting style and all require a very different approach to battle. Just when you think you're getting the hang of things, the next battle will throw you for a complete loop. I can't say too much as discovering each new colossus for yourself is just too much fun but suffice it to say you'll be fighting on the ground, in the air, and in the water. And these guys aren't called colossi for nothing, some are over ten stories tall! Once you find the colossus you need to find its weak spot (sometimes simple, sometimes not) then figure out how to reach that spot (never easy). Fortunately, you've got your trusty sword and a bow with unlimited arrows. Because of the size of the colossi, jumping and climbing play a large roll in most battles. Your strength meter keeps track of your grip. It recharges quickly on the ground but when you're climbing up a colossus and hanging on for dear life and his tries to shake you off, you'll start to feel that it can never last long enough. In the end, I can't totally describe the battles, a brilliant mix of action and puzzle solving. They're something that really has to be experienced. Every battle is memorable and most stand among the best boss battles I've had over my years of gaming.
SOTC is a little on the short side, expect 10-15 hours for your first playthrough. Fortunately, there's plenty of extra content to keep you busy. If tracking down all the fruit and lizards isn't enough, you've also got a hard mode and both normal and hard mode have their own set of time trial challenges that can be beaten to unlock special weapons and items.
Overall: Shadow of the Colossus is a truely amazing game. Fans of Ico will no doubt enjoy it despite the focus on combat. But if you expect to just run around slashing with your sword you'll be disapointed as a large part of each battle is spent figuring out how to actually damage the colossus, which is sometimes a difficult prospect indeed. At times this can take quite a while and even I, a long time fan of adventure and puzzle solving games, got completely stuck a couple of times. Still, if you're willing to take your time and let yourself be drawn into the world and the quest you'll find SOTC to be one of the most brilliant and unique games around.


10/28/2005 Time for sleep...

First off, there's a new bonus comic for everyone who votes. Forum members and those of you who read Shuani's ROM comics should find this one particularily interesting. For the record though, I was the one who made it, not Shauni. She just let me use some of her sprites. Speaking of which, there's a new ROM comic as well.

And that's it. I stayed up late beating Shadow of the Colossus (review coming on monday) so I need to get to sleep. Later!


10/26/2005 A much needed break

New ROM comic.

It's mid-term break for me and boy do I need it. I can't spend the whole time relaxing, I've got a little homework plus some other stuff I really should get done. Still, it'll be nice to relax for a change. One of the things I plan to do is play Shadow of the Colossus. I just got my copy a couple days ago. It's by the same team that made Ico (one of my favorite games) and has a similiar feel and graphic style, although the gameplay itself is quite unique. Basically, you have to take out 16 bosses. But these are no ordinary bosses, for starters most of them are about ten or twenty stories tall, and each of them requires quite a lot of thought in addition to combat skill. The battles are rather hard to describe but let's just say that they're some of the most intense and unique boss battles I've ever played. I'm halfway through my first playthrough (it's fairly short) but there's lots of extra stuff to unlock later on. I'll have a full review up sometime next week.

Well, that's it for now. See you friday!


10/24/2005 Dawn of Sorrows

I hope everyone had a good weekend. As always, remember to vote to see friday's bonus comic. Now, without further ado, on to the review.

Castlevania Dawn of Sorrows is the latest game in a very long running series. Series fans will find a great game but not much new. If you're new to Castlevania, well read on.
Story: It's been a year since the events in Aria of Sorrows when Soma Cruz prevented Dracula's ressurection. It's just an ordinary day when he's suddenly attacked by Celia, the leader of a mysterious cult that is determined to ressurect Dracula. Since Soma prevented it once, Celia wants to take him out of the picture right away. After her first attempt fails, Soma and friends find their way to the cult's base, a recreation of Dracula's castle, and head in to stop them. While the story is fairly interesting, it's not all that deep and you're certainly not playing the game for the story.
Graphics: The backgrounds and sprites (it's a 2D game) are very detailed and animate beautifully. However, graphically, Dawn of Sorrows doesn't look much better than what you could see on the GBA but it looks so good that you won't care.
Sound: The music is catchy and fits well. Also, there's enough tunes that you probably won't get tired of any of them. The sounds effects are great as well and they're even in stero. Being able to hear which side enemies are coming from before they come on screen is pretty nice. Unfortunately, the game sounds a little tinny over the DS's speakers. A decent pair of headphones is highly recommended.
Gameplay: If you're a Castlevania vet you already how the game plays. If you're new, think of Castlevania as a 2D Metroid game in a monster movie setting. Or, to put it another way, Castlevania DOS has the basic gameplay of a classic platformer, the layout and pacing of an adventure game, and the experience and item systems of an RPG. Yor play as Soma and explore the cult's castle. At the beginning you can jump, slid, run, duck, attack enemies with your equipped weapon, and all that type of stuff. As the game progresses you'll get new weapons and souls (more on that in a minute) which will allow you to access previously unreachable parts of the castle. Can't reach a ledge? Come back when you can double jump. Can't swim? You'll be able to later. And the like. As you kill enemies you'll get experience points and gain levels like an RPG. You may also find money you can spend in the store to buy weapons, armor, and the ever important potions. When you kill enemies you also have a chance of getting a soul. Each enemy type has a different soul. There are three main types of souls and you can have one of each equipped at a time. There involve everything from throwing bones and summoning monsters to raising stats and transforming into monsters. Some souls drop quite frequently, others only show up once in a blue moon. You can have up to nine of each soul and most souls have multiple levels of power depending on how many you have. You can also use souls to upgrade your weapons, but then you lose the soul you used. There's lots of different weapon types to use as well so you can customize you character pretty nicely. DOS doesn't make too much use of the DS's special hardware. The second screen is used to display either Soma's stats or a castle map. While that doesn't sound like much, being able to see the map without pausing the game or going to a menu is really nice. You can also use the touch screen to break certain blocks and command your summoned monsters. Aside from the main game, you can unlock hard mode, boss rush (which pits you in a timed battle against a series of bosses), and Julius mode (where you play as Julius, Yoko, and Arikado in a version of the game that plays out like an old school platformer.
Overall: The excellent mix of genres will apeal to most players and it's a lot of fun. It's not all that long, you can get through the main game in around 10 hours if try but you'll be missing a lot. Expect spending 16-20 if you want to get 100% exploration and 100% soul collection. The extra work is certainly worth while as you'll get some pretty cool stuff, especially a item that can only be found if you get all the souls... Add on another 5-10 hours if you want to get every weapon and max out the levels of all your souls. And when you consider all the unlockable modes... DOS will keep you busy for quite some time. To put it simply, if you have a DS you really shouldn't be without Castlevania Dawn of Sorrows.


10/21/2005 20 more to go...

As you probably figured, there's a new bonus comic up for everyone who votes for Pebble Version on Top Web Comics. There's also a new ROM.

As for the 20, that's how many frames I still have to draw for my storyboard assignment (and yes, that will take me quite a while to draw). Why did I take that class anyway? Seems like I could have learned all I needed to know about storyboards in a week and saved myself a lot of homework. Oh well, at least I get credits.

As for Castlevania, I finished my normal mode game with 100% map and soul completion. Next up, hard mode (pretty self explanatory) and Julius mode (which turns the game into a classic style straight up platformer). Although, now that my main game is finished, I plan to put more time into Guild Wars and Tales of Symphonia. Of course, that's if I have time to play games in the first place.

I'll see you monday. Hopefully I'll have the storyboards finished by then...


10/19/2005 Attack of the mid-terms

New ROM comic.

I suppose you can tell you've been playing too much Castlevania when you start dreaming of exploring maze like castles. Or maybe I just shouldn't have spent so much time on it right before going to bed. Oh well, I'm nearly done with my normal mode game (would have finished a while ago but I'm going for 100% exploration and souls) then it's on to hard mode and Julius mode. I never thought I could run through my DS's battary so fast when I'm not on a trip.

Meanwhile, I've got yet another holiday taking place. This time it's sukkot. Although sleeping in a sukkah presents some problems since I'm living in an apartment complex. I'm also starting to get mid-term assignments. Fun, fun, fun. Who needs free time anyway? Well, on the up side this semester really isn't as bad as some and I only have a couple of big projects to do. But it's still gonna be a busy week or two till I get them done.

Back to work for me. Later all!


10/17/2005 This is gonna take a while...

Remember to vote and see friday's bonus comic. And, if you have a few dollars to spare, donations are always appreciated <hint, hint> (see the donation info below to find out about all the cool stuff that you can get when you donate).

I've been playing Castlevania Dawn of Sorrows lately and highly recommend it to anyone with a DS. If you're a Castlevania fan you probably already have it. For those of you who are new to the series, it can best be summed up as Metroid (the 2D ones) with a monster movie theme and a RPG style level up system. A combo platformer, adventure game, and RPG. The game itself isn't all that long but there's lots of optional stuff to do. It doesn't use the DS's special features much. There's a bare bones multi-player mode, occasional touch screen use, and the second screen is used to display a map (which is actually REALLY useful). Look for a full review in a week or so.

But that's not what the title of this rant is about. I may have mentioned it before but some friends and I are working on a video game. Right now it's still in planning but it's going pretty well. Our current goal is to make a playable demo and if that turns out well... Who knows how far it could go. Of course, that's a long way off. Right now I'm working on a list of spells, special attacks, and the like. It's going to take a long time and I'm not even doing a complete list right now... Oh well, I suppose I shouldn't complain. Just wait till it's time to make a list of all the game's weapons and armor...

Well, back to work. See you wednesday!


10/14/2005 Typo

There's a new bonus comic up. As always, you can see it by clicking on the Top Web Comics banner or button and then confirming your vote. You can do it once per day and there's a new Pebble Version Blooper Reel comic for you to see every week. There's a new ROM as well.

Some of you may have noticed the error in wednesday's strip where Brendan said silcoon instead of cascoon. Must have been half-asleep when I did that. Well, it's fixed now.

Well, now that Yom Kippur is over I have a lot of stuff to catch up on so I'll see you on monday.


10/12/2005 Death to 4Kids!

New ROM today. I still have something to add to the link exchange but the site seems to be down right now so there doesn't seem to be much of a point. If the site is working again on friday I'll add it then.

Could 4Kids just go out of buisness or something? Please? I'm so tired of them mutilating good anime. Pokémon, Cardcaptor Sakura, Yu-Gi-Oh, One Piece, etc, etc, etc... They couldn't screw them up more if they tried. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if they actually were trying... First they change nearly all the character names, then they change the music, then they write a horrible new script, then they hire the worst voice cast they can find, then finally they majorly edit each episode. The end result is totally pathetic, ranging from bad to completely unwatchable, at least for serious anime fans like myself. Even worse, they hardly ever release the unedited versions in America. Sigh...

On the up side, there's plenty of anime that they didn't localize. For example, Bobobo Bo Bo Bobo, one of the weirdest, randomest, and funniest anime around. While the english version doesn't quite match up to the Japanese it's pretty good and you should definately watch it some time. It's on saturday nights around 10:30 on Cartoon Network.

See you friday!


10/10/2005 LARP, LAG, LARPG?

There's a new ROM up, the first of three this week. Also, if you haven't seen the new bonus comic yet you may want to vote and take a look, especially if you're a forum member. And yes, Brendan still can't throw the pokéball right every time.

I have another site to add to the link exchange and some chapter covers to add to ROM but not enough time to put them up right now so look for them wednesday.

Last week there was a live action role playing game at my school. Such events are often referred to as LARPs or occasionally LAGs. Anyway, players would get a character sheet and then allowed to look around the school where other students and teachers were playing as monsters and NPCs. Battles were sorta Final Fantasy style but not quite and teamwork was very important as even the weakest monsters could easily kill new players (don't even get me started on the stronger guys). Your first task as a player often involved tracking down the Quest Master who told you how to go up levels in any of the six jobs (of which you could be two at a time). Quests included things like tracking down hidden items, finding certain people, and defeating some of the stronger monsters. For jobs you could chose between Blade Master (power physical attacker), Shield Master (total defense), Protector (support), Healer (healing, duh), Elementalist (black mage), and Annoyance (negative status caster). I was a Blade Master Healer. Aside from getting up to level 3 in both of your jobs you could look for stronger equipment, collect a variety of items, and engage in a bunch of quests (scavanger hunts, web searches, etc) that could win you rare equipment and even real prizes at the end of the week (I got $10 on Amazon!). Despite some occasional problems (occasional lack of NPCs or monsters, occasional lack of players, and no pants man (don't ask)) it was a lot of fun and a great way to kill time.

See you monday!


10/7/2005 Busy week

There's a new bonus comic up so please vote. Forum members in particular should take a look at this one... There's also a new ROM.

Well, this week has been pretty hectic due to a combination of things. Mostly, a bunch of different stuff just happened to take place at the same time. I am really looking forward to this weekend. It's kinda fun to break out of the routine every now and then although after all this time it'll be nice to have things return to normal, or at least close to normal since there's still a few mor things coming up.

I'll have a full rant for you on monday. For now, I've gotta get going.



10/5/2005 Uh, ok...

If today's comic strikes you as a bit strange, well, the fisherman's dialogue is almost the same as it is in the actual game. Anyway, after hearing from some fans, I've decided that Pebble Version needs a little more random humor like in the earlier strips so I'll be trying to work in a bit more of that in the future. You may not see the change right away though, it'll be more of a gradual thing.

Unfortunately, there's no new ROM comic today, although I'm not quite sure why. I just didn't get the file.

I'd talk more but I've got a lot of stuff to work on so it'll have to wait. See you friday!


10/3/2005 Not so great timing

Hi everyone! Please remember to vote and see friday's bonus comic. Voting is especially important at the beginning of the month when everything resets. Also, if you have some extra cash, any donations would be greatly appreciated right now, even if it's only a dollar or two. And hey, donations lead to cool extra content (see the donation info below) so we all win.

In site news, I went over the Links page, fixed a couple of dead links, and removed some sites that are no longer on-line. I also added Pokémon Ember Version to the Link Exchange page.

Well, aside from my total lack of money lately, I've been doing pretty well. However, things are going to be kinda busy this month. See, Rosh Hashanna, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot are all this month. All told, that means four days where I can't go to school, do homework, or work on most of my other projects. Now I enjoy a day off as much as the next guy, however I also know how hard it's going to be to catch up on all that missed work. Still, I suppose it could be worse. At least the holidays aren't over finals.


9/30/2005 Always something to do

There's a new ROM and a new bonus comic. Hmm... This page layout really wasn't made to handle double size strips. Well, I certainly don't plan on making a habit out of this, I just couldn't think of a good way to smash this into four panels or break it into two seperate strips.

I have some things to do with the link pages but they'll have to wait until monday. Seems that, while I'm doing ok school work wise, I got a bit behind on Pebble Version strips so I gotta go work on those now.

Have a great weekend!


9/28/2005 Weird schedule

New ROM. As I said before, sorry for monday's late update. As I said before, my family is visiting right now. And, while it's nice to see them, it's kinda screwing up my normal routine. However, I don't think there will be any more late updates. And to make up for it (or not since I already had this planned anyway) friday's comics is going to be a little special. How? Well, you'll find out soon enough. In other Pebble Version news, have you ever wanted to ask the characters of PV a question? If so, be sure to visit the forums and take a look at the brand new Ask the Cast thread in the Pebble Version section.

You know, now that the Tokyo Game Show has come and gone, I really should comment a little more on the next gen systems.
Xbox 360: The games being made by Mistwalker look awesome, other than that, I couldn't care less.
PS3: HOLY CRAP! That Metal Gear 4 trailer looked amazing! And it was all real time! REAL TIME!!! For you non-technical folks, that means it was actual in game footage, not just a movie. It's looking like the PS3 has won the graphics war before it even began.
Revolution: I can safely say that Nintendo's new controller shocked everyone. Looking a bit like a remote control, you can control actions and movement on screen simply by moving the controller itself. So far it's met with mixed feelings. Personally, I think it'll lead the way to some truely cool and innovative games and it'll work extremely well with some generes such as FPS. Some genres however may prove hard to adapt to the new controller but, despite all the fuss about that, it's really no big deal. Nintendo has already said that the Revolution will support regular Gamecube controllers so they'll always been around if you need them. I'm even more excited about the Revolution now than I was before. Can't wait to see some actual games footage.


9/26/2005 Ah crap...

Really sorry about the late update. I'll explain on wednesday.


9/23/2005 Kinda crowded in here...

New ROM for you to check out. There's a new bonus comic as well so hurry up and vote.

My family has come down to visit. On the plus side, it's nice to see them and gives me an excuse to eat out and stuff like that. On the down side, my aparment is a bit crowded with four people although, since my mom will be leaving in a week, it won't be that bad. Three people is ok, four is pushing it.

Anyway I... Gee, my next door neighbor sure has one heck of a sound system. How can I tell? Because I can hear the stupid thing extremely well right through the wall... Doesn't he/she know that you're according to the apartment rules you're supposed to keep fairly quiet this late at night? Get some headphones or something... Sigh... Living in an actual house certainly had its advantages.

Guess that's all for the moment. See you on monday!


9/21/2005 Not my day

New ROM.

Tuesday was um...long. I had a lot of stuff to get done but I was kinda thinking I'd have it all finished by mid-afternoon. Turns out I was working to around 10 and still didn't finish everything. I like Japanese class but did we have to get such an enormous homework assignment? Hopefully the stuff I have tomorrow won't take so long. Well, anyway, let's see about that review.

I really liked Front Mission 3 on the PS1 (see my review in the Old News) so when I saw the Front Mission 4 had gone down to only $20 I had to try it. For those of you who are new to the series, the Front Mission games are strategy RPGs about giant mech pilots in the not too distant future. However, since all the games feature different characters there's no need to play them in order.
Story: Like the other Front Missions, FM4 takes place on earth in the not too distant future where giant robots called Wanzers have become the weapons of choice. FM4 follows the stories of two characters. Elsa is the newest member of the Durandal, a Wanzer research group working for the British government. She and her new friends quickly become embroiled in a dastardly plot as they attempt to discover who has been destroying a series of German army bases. Meanwhile, Darrel is an easy going US solider fighting in South America who decides to go AWOL with his friends after a lucky turn of fortune. Of course, things don't go the way they planned. Although Elsa and Darrel eventually meet, it's not till pretty late in the game so you'll find yourself switching between their respective parties every few battles. The story isn't bad although it lacks the twists and depth of the one from FM3.
Graphics: For a PS2 game, FM4 isn't all that great looking. Most of the battle fields are pretty barren and the game lacks are bright colors. It looks a lot like a much smoother version of FM3. While there's nothing particularily wrong with this, there's nothing impressive either.
Sound: The music is nice but repetitive and forgettable. The sound FX are quite good, they fit nicely no matter what you're doing. The voice acting is extremely well done although a little sparse, they really should have added voice to all the main cutscenes instead of just half.
Gameplay: If you've played FM3 you'll know what to expect, sort of. You controll a team of mechs (six this time). Out of battle you're basicaly reading dialogue and going through menus since you can't control your pilots directly. You can choose who to talk to form a menu, practice your fighting skills in and earn some extra EXP and cash in a collection of simulation battles, and set up your mechs and pilots for battle (although the interface, which was pretty good in FM3, has been changed a little and is now a bit of a pain to use, at least when setting up your wanzers). Deciding which combinations of parts and weapons to use for your mechs can be quite engaging but there's a lot less gear to choose from than in FM3 and you can no longer upgrade your wanzar parts so old gear is pretty much useless now. This, combined with some balance tweaks (high power bodies now have high HP, evasion is now partly based on your body, etc) takes quite a lot of the strategy out of building your mech and kinda screws up what was a well balanced battle system. However, there is some new stuff to play with. Aside from item and power backpacks you can also get healing, EMP (status casting), Sonar (increases missile range, sorta), booster (increases jumping power), and radio (call for air support) backpacks. As for your pilots, they now learn new skills buy earning points in battle and spending them on skills (the only improvement over FM3) and stat boosts. However, their activation during battle is just as random as it was in FM3. They also have link points, which can be assigned to link your pilots together. In battle, when attacking or defending, any linked allies in range will join in your attack or counter attack. You can set up which attack or defensive move you use in the link menu outside of battle. Battles take place on large grid based maps. It's turn based so all your mechs get to move then all your enemies get a turn then back to you. Each mech has AP, which partially refill each turn, every turn your mech can move and then use any remaining AP to attack. Or you can save it to counter attack during the enemy's turn. Thanks to the new link system, you'll probably spend most of your turn positioning your mechs then kick off a massive linked attack with one of them. There's different types of weapons and each wanzar also has resistance to one of the three main damage types (which can be changed outside of battle in the menu). A wanzer's body parts all have seperate HP and can be destoryed seperately, although you can't choose which part to target. Destroying arms deprives them of whatever was held in that arm, destroyed legs drastically reduce movement, and a destroyed body destroys the entire wanzer. Unfortunately, thanks to some new gameplay tweaks, several weapon types are now rather underpowered and you'll rarely have any AP left for counter attacks. Also, you can no longer capture enemy mechs which takes a lot of the strategy out of the battles since you'll just be hoping for body shots to quickly destroy each mech. Then there's the AI, or lack there of. The enemies in FM3 weren't rocket scientists but there guys are pretty much brain dead. In fact, most of them will just stand around doing nothing until you'll killed a bunch of of their friends. Because they're so stupid and you now have unlimited cures and repairs thanks to healing backpacks, you'd think the battles would be pretty easy. To compensate for this, they put a ridiculous number of enemies in most of the battles. While this does add a little much needed challenge, it makes a lot of the battles really drag on and take forever. Even worse, after each battle you now lose a certain amount of money based on how damaged your mechs are, this happens in simulation battles too and can make it hard to earn enough money to get all the latest gear. Compared to FM3, FM4 is rather short with only 29 mission battles (compared to FM3's 50 something) but since they drag on so much the game will still take around 40 hours to complete, more if you spend a lot of time on the simulater.. There's a new game plus mode once you beat the game that lets you restart with your money and skill points but since (unlike FM3) there's only one story path, there isn't much reason to replay the game.
Overall: Ok, when it comes down to it FM 4 really isn't a bad game. The story is decent (although not great) and setting up your mechs and skills can be rather run. But it falls short in a lot of areas and, despite the improved graphics, is missing a lot of the best features and gameplay settings of FM3. For fans of the series, you may want to pick up FM4 now that it's only $20 but you'll probably have more fun replaying FM3. For those of you who are new to the series, FM4 makes for an ok strategy RPG that's a bit different than the norm and at only $20 it's worth a try. However, you'd be better off tracking down a used copy of FM3, which is the better game by far.


9/19/2005 Time to water the plants

Speaking of which, I really do need to water my plants. Um, anyway, remember to vote and see friday's bonus comic.

Let's see... I was going to do a review of Front Mission 4 today but I got started on this update a little late since I was having a problem with my web editor (fortunately, I did fix it) so I think I'll wait until later in the week. And... And... Gee, I can't think of anything to talk about right now. Guess it's just one of those days.

See you wednesday.


9/16/2005 It's hard to think of titles, you know?

Friday's ROM is up as is the new bonus comic. Pebble Version has been a little lower than usual on Top Web Comics this month so please vote. It only takes a few seconds and you get to see a bonus comic.

Despite all the homework, I'm finally caught up on nearly everything, which is good. I hate being behind on stuff. I finished Front Mission 4 as well. Expect a review next week. Let's see... Haven't had time to do anything special and being broke certainly hasn't helped. Recently, I seem to have developed a knack for magic tricks, although the unintentional kind. The little metal ring holding the clasp on my pendant seems to keep miraculously coming off even though it looks impossible. Not only that, the clasps tend to just vanish as soon as they fall off, even if I know where they fell. I've lost two clasps already. At least it's only around a dollar for a pack of them.

Well, that's all for now. See you monday!


9/14/2005 Wednesday, wednesday, wednesday!

New ROM. New comic on the link exchange as well.

It seems that whenever I think that I'll have lots of free time something comes up, be it extra homework, something that needs to be done around the apartment, shopping, or sometimes something I'm working on will just take much longer than I thought it would. It's getting annoying. Although, when it comes down to it, I suppose I am getting a lot done, even if some things aren't going as fast as I'd like.

Got together with some friends a couple days ago to talk about that game project I wanted to start. In the end, we decided to use a different game idea of mine than the one I originally planned and we're only in the early planning stages but so far so good. Unfortunately, I can't really say much of anything until the game itself until it's much further along. After the meeting we went out to get some food then stopped by the nearby game (traditional games, not video games) store since one of my friends hadn't been there before. There was some pretty cool new stuff like a new Munchkin set based on super heros (which I'll certainly be getting once I have some spending money). There was a new Steve Jackson game as well, which one of my friends bought because with a name like Space Pirate Amazon Ninja Catgirls how could you not buy it? In the game each player controlls a crew of Space Pirate Amazon Ninja Catgirls who use their assortment of skills and nifty items to race through a random series of wacky events and battle each other in the quest for more items, loot, and, um, poolboys. It's nowhere near as deep as Munchkin but it's a bit faster paced, pretty simple to pick up, and lots of fun.

See you friday.


9/12/2005 Portable fun

Remember to vote! Donating would shure be nice too. Haven't had any donations in ages...

Anyway, at the request of a fan, today's rant will be about the current portable video games systems.

Gameboy Advance, GBA SP, Gameboy Micro
Hardware and Graphics:
The GBA has been around for years so it's a bit dated compared to the newer stuff. The majority of games resemble some of the best looking SNES games and some are even better. The sound isn't bad although it tends to be a bit tinny. Still, even now the GBA continues to prove itself full of surprises. A good example of this is Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories which, aside from feature excellent 2D graphics, also had surprisingly high quality FMVs and a full vocal recording of the KH theme song. There's three version of the GBA. The original version (the cheapest, biggest, and most comfortable to hold, uses AA battaries), the SP (uses a vertical design, has a really nice backlit screen, uses a rechargable battary, has no headphone jack), and the Micro (horizontal, backlit screen, rechargable battary, headphone jack, ridiculously tiny).
Multiplayer: Multiplayer on the GBA is a bit of a pain. You can link up to four systems but it requires a tangle of cables and can be rather annoying to set up. Once you have it working though it runs pretty well although it can be pretty slow for some games.
Extra Stuff: The GBA can be hooked up to the Gamecube and used as a controller for some games. You can also by some cartidges that contain kids cartoons to watch or have fun with some of the more obscure add ons like the E Card reader.
Portability: Now this is a system you can take anywhere. No matter which type of GBA you have you can expect to get around 10 hours of play before having to put in new battaries or use the battary charger.
Games: Here's where the GBA really shines. The GBA can play GBA games as well as Gameboy Color and original Gameboy games, giving it a huge library of titles. There's always a good game to play in nearly any every genre and there are some really cool unique games to be found if you're tired of the normal stuff.
Price: Expect to pay $40-60 for an orginal GBA, $80 for an SP, and probably around $100 for a Micro. Games go for $20-35.
Final Thoughts: Although old, the GBA is an excellent system with enough great games to keep you playing for years and it's very affordable. If you're one of the ten people who doesn't already have one go get it now.

Nintendo DS
Hardware and Graphics:
The DS is certainly the most interesting portable system. It's got two backlit screens, one of which is a touch screen and a microphone built in, which allows for some very innovative and different games. Graphicwise, most of the games so far have been very good looking 2D although the DS can do 3D that looks better than the N64 although it's full power has yet to be seen. The sound is excellent too, providing perfect stereo sound.
Multiplayer: Nintendo is certainly on the right path here. Eight people can play wirelessly, often with a single cartidge, with absolutely no lag. Even better, some upcoming games can be played on-line over any 802.11b wireless network!
Extra Stuff: You can use Pictochat, a wireless text messaging program, to talk to other DS owners. However, since the wireless range of the DS is only around 60 feet, you might as well just walk over and talk to the person for real.
Portability: Because it has two screens, the DS is a little bulky so you probably won't be sticking it in your pocket but it's still pretty portable and you can go around 8-10 hours before recharging the battary, enough for a solid day of gaming.
Games: Since it's a new system, the DS's game library is still rather small but there's some really good stuff out there (anything mind by Nintendo for example) and lots more due to arrive before the end of the year.
Price: The DS costs about $120 now and you can get games for $30-35.
Final Thoughts: The DS had a rather slow start but now that the good games are arriving (with lots more on the way), it's looking really nice. And that's not event taking into account the upcoming free on-line multiplayer stuff that's coming out soon. It's certainly worth your money, especially if you're a Nintendo fan.

Hardware and Graphics:
Graphics on the PSP fall somewhere between that of the PS and PS2. It's probably more powerful than the DS although at this point neither system had been pushed to it's full power yet so it's hard to say. The PSP's most impressive feature is its screen, which is big, backlit, and looks awesome.
Multiplayer: Like the DS, the PSP supports wireless multiplayer games and supposedly can also go on-line over a wireless network although I've yet to hear of any games that will take advantage of this. Unfortunately, I haven't got to play any PSP multiplayer stuff myself so I'm not sure how many disks you need or how good the performance is.
Extra Stuff: The PSP can play movies, although you'll have to buy a seperate copy of the movie on a UMD disk. It can also link to your computer, play MP3s, store files, and run some programs (the most popular of which seem to be SNES emulaters).
Portability: The PSP is about the size of an original GBA, so about half the size of a DS. It uses disks instead of cartridges. And, while disks can hold more data, spinning them around takes a lot of power so the PSP's rechargable battary doesn't last all that long. Since I don't have a PSP yet I can't give any definite length of time although from what I've heard it seems to range from 3-6 hours depending on what you're doing with it.
Games: Um yeah... The PSP library has yet to really take off. There's a handful of good games out there but lots of genres are missing entirely and there's not really anything worth buying the PSP for yet. Some pretty cool sounding stuff has been announced for the PSP but it's all pretty far in the future, so far in fact that they weren't even showing it at E3.
Price: This is the reason I don't have a PSP. Thanks to Sony's not so brilliant marketing department, a new PSP is only available as part of a bundle package that costs a hefty $250 and comes with some extra stuff you may or may not want such as earbuds, a case, and a cleaning cloth. In Japan you can just get the PSP itself for around $180.
Final Thoughts: I was pretty excited about the PSP when it was first announced but right now its high price, combined with the fact that there's only one game I'd buy even if I had one, have kinda coolled my enthusiasm. Infact, most of the people I know who have PSPs seems to be using them mostly as portable SNES emulaters. If you want a PSP I'd wait until the price goes down. Hopefully there'll be some more good games out by then too.

The rest of the systems:
Recently a few more companies have attempted to enter the portable gaming market. Most of you have probably heard of the N-Guage, which has sold so poorly they're practically giving them away. It wasn't a bad idea but it's not a very well designed system and there's hardly any games worth playing and nothing worth getting an N-Guage for. Don't waste your money, it won't be around much longer. As bad as the N-Guage is, it's nothing compared to the horrible Gizmondo, which should be avoided at all costs for too many reasons to mention here.

See you wednesday!


9/9/2005 Got no time!

The new bonus comic is up so vote, vote, vote! New ROM as well.

And, um, that's it. I have absolutely no time for a rant today. See you on monday!


9/7/2005 Back again

New ROM. Sorry about missing monday's update. Basically, I back into Phoenix pretty late sunday night and, thanks to the time change, it felt like it was much later and I was way too tired to update. Now that my vacation is over, I can't see myself missing any more updates (unless my computer explodes or something). Also, I noticed that a couple e-mails have been sitting in my inbox for quite a while. Sorry about that, my vacation (although fun) was pretty busy and they kinda got lost in the shuffle. I promise I'll reply to all of them before the end of the week.

As always, remember to vote. Pebble Version finished at 22 last month on TWC and I'd like to see it do at least as good this month. Also, if you've got some extra cash right now I'm completely broke and any donations would be greatly appreciated. Besides, donating gets you lots of cool extra content and if you donate at least $10 you get a free signed copy of my book, Guardian of The Stone (as long as you live in the continental US).

Meanwhile, school just started for mee. Naturally, it'll be a couple weeks before I can get a feel for how the classes are gonna turn out although I would like to point out to some of my teachers that you're really not supposed to give out homework during the first class. Anyway, one thing I'm determined to do this semester is to start my own game project. And this time it's going to be an original game, no more Neverwinter Nights mods for me. I already have my first team member too. Well, maybe I'll about it more later on, although I don't want to give anything away...

Another thing I did recently was start my own guild in Guild Wars. It's called Guardians of Orca (ROM fans should know what Orca is). If anyone is interested in joining either e-mail me or send me a whisper in GW (my characters are Keen Anor and Jessie Alaynia) sometime. Level and class don't matter but I won't accept everyone so if you want to join you'll have to play with me a bit first so I can decide whether or not you'll fit well in the guild.

Well, I'd better get going. Later!


9/2/2005 No time

There's new bonus comic and, since it's a new month, Pebble Version could really use those votes. Also, there's a new ROM comic. Although I'm not sure why I'm the one that faints in it. I don't think I'd do that.

Sorry but I'm in a hurry right now and don't really have time to say much. But please note that there may or may not be an update on monday. I don't want to miss a day but it will really depend on how my return trip to Phoenix goes. Either way, there will definately be an update on wednesday (barring some huge unforseen disaster).


8/31/2005 Long days

New ROM comic.

Well, I'm currently visiting my grandparents in PA. It's a short visit since college starts up again in less than a week though. Getting here was a bit of a problem. Had to wake up at 5 AM to get to the airport in time for the flight which was then canceled. And, despite checking all the nearby airports and airlines, there was no way they could get us to PA before 10:30 at night. Pretty annoying since we had been planning to arrive in the early afternoon. I hate United. Yesterday my brother and I went to The Amazing Maize Maze, a giant corn maze. It's something we do every year when we come back here. Basically, there's a life sized maze winding through a field of fifteen foot high corn. You then spend an average of 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hours trying to find your way to the exit while searching for the map pieces hidden through the maze. It's a lot of fun and I'm usually quite good at finding all the pieces and getting out in record time.

In Pebble Version news, friday's update should be on schedule, not sure about monday though. It really depends when I get back to Pheonix and how tired I am while I arrive. Well, more on that friday.


8/29/2005 Next gen opinion

It's a new week and there's just a few more days before the end of the month so keep voting and if you want to get in any donations this month you'd better hurry. As for me, I'm going to be spending the last week of my vacation visiting my grandparents in PA. Updates should continue as usual although I may not be able to respond to all me e-mail until I'm back in AZ.

Someone suggested I use today's rant to discuss my opinions about the next generation gaming systems. Considering that I hope to design games for those very systems, I have been paying close attention to the gaming news. Anyway, before I begin I would like to stress one thing. When choosing a game system the most important thing isn't power, graphics, or nifty features, it's games. You should buy a game system based on what games it currently has and what games are in development for it. Buying a system simply because it has the best graphics is stupid. Don't get me wrong, I love great graphics and they can certainly add to a game but they're far from the most important aspect. It's gameplay and (in some genres) story that makes a game fun and entertaining to play. Graphics are like the icing on the cake. It looks pretty but it's the filling that really matters. Also, please note that these are just my current feelings and may change when the systems are actually released. So far, Microsoft has been the only one to show playable demos and nothing has been shown running on the finalized hardware for any system so it's still kinda hard to call.

Xbox 360
Hardware & Graphics:
I'm not going to bother listing all the technical specs as they're easily enough to find on line. When it comes down to it, the 360 is more or less an extremely high powered computer. The games I saw for it looked good, there's no denying that, but they really only looked a step or so above the current top of the line PC games. Good yeah, but the 'wow' factor isn't quite there. The 360 uses DVDs for games, which is fine, but may prove a disadvantage later on as games grow larger and higher capacity disks become available. It will also include a hard drive, which has its pros and cons. Personally, I'm afraid the inclusion of hard drives will eventually lead to buggy constantly patched games like the ones on a PC.
Controller: Nothing special here. It really isn't much different than the current Xbox controller. It's wireless, that's about it.
Internet: The 360 will use a souped up version of the current Xbox Live. It's a nice network but it will have some serious competetion this time around with Sony and Nintendo starting their own networks. If theirs are cheaper or better implemented, Microsoft could lose a serious advantage.
Games: I expect the 360's gaming library will end up a lot like that of the original Xbox. There will no doubt be lots of PC ports, lots of cross platform games, and the occasional original title. The question is, how many of those original titles will actually be worth playing? As for backwards compatibility, that one is still in the air. The 360 will be backwards compatible with something although it's hard to say whether that something will be all Xbox games or just the most popular ones.
Additional Features: The 360 can play DVDs but that's not a big deal since just about everyone has a DVD player now. It's also got this ring of light thing that rather nifty but has little practical use.
Price and Release Date: There will be two versions of the 360, one for $300 and one for $400. But if you buy the $300 version you'll probably just end up buying all the stuff that comes with the $400 version later on. It strikes me as a sort of ploy so Microsoft can say that the 360 is launching at $300 even though most people will probably be buying the more expensive version. As far as launch dates go, the 360 will arrive before the end of the year, giving it a jump on the competition, but history has proven that launching first is no guarentee of success (remember the Saturn and Dreamcast?).
Final Thoughts: I'm not too excited about the 360. The system doesn't have any must have features and hardly any of the exclusive games interest me (I'm not a big fan of FPS games). At this point, the only reason I'd consider buying one is because Mistwalker is going to be developing some titles for it. I may get a 360 eventually but from what I've seen so far it's not very high on my list.

Playstation 3
Hardware & Graphics:
Wow! Sony has shone off some really amazing movies. Some of them are supposed to be real gameplay footage and others aren't. If the games really look like that Sony will win the graphics war hands down. The 360 things I've seen didn't even come close. However, I'll have to see some playable demos before I can believe that games will actually look that awesome.
Controller: The controller is wireless and can look a little like a boomerang if seen from the right angel but it's pretty much identical to the current PS2 controllers.
Internet: Sony is building their own network this time but details are scarce. However, it looks like the network itself will be free and individual game companies will be allowed to decide wheter or not to charge for on-line play. Fortunately, the network adapter is built in.
Games: As usual, the PS3 wins the 3rd part support award, at least for now. You can expect lots of games from all your favorite companies, many of which will be exclusives. Final Fantasy, Metal Gear, Devil May Cry, etc, etc, etc... The 3rd party support alone is reason to buy a PS3. In addition, it will be fully backwards compatible with both the PS2 and the original PS. Very cool.
Additional Features: DVD playback, nothing special there.
Price and Release Date: The price hasn't been announced yet although expect it to be somewhere between $300-$400. The current launch date is some time next year (spring in Japan) although, if they 360 completely bombs, Sony may delay it a bit to make some extra money on the PS2.
Final Thoughts: If the demos I've seen are an accurate representation of gameplay on the PS3 we're in for one heck of a graphical experience. Regardless of that, there's lots of great games and series in development for the PS3 that I'm dying to play so I'll be getting one ASAP.

Hardware & Graphics:
Um, yeah... Nintendo hasn't shown anything. Anything. It'll be stronger than the current generation systems, that's a given, but probably won't quite have the graphical powers of the 360 or PS3. Or maybe it will. It's a real mystery.
Controller: Another mystery. The controller is supposed to be really revolutionary but how? Gyros? A trouch screen? Something else? Whatever it is, it'll probably allow for some pretty cool new games.
Internet: Nintendo is including the network adapter and making their own network as well. It's going to be free, which is nice, although some companies might charge for their games.
Games: 3rd party support will likely depend on a number of things like the Revolution's power and controller. While it probably won't get anywhere near as much support at the PS3, it may fair better than the Gamecube. Regardless, Nintendo will produce its usual killer library of must have games which alone will make the Revolution worth having. Heck, it's launching with a new Mario game and a new on-line enabled Smash Brother game. That's reason alone to get a Revolution at launch. It also wins the backwards compatibility award. Not only can it play all gamecube games, you can also (for a fee) download every Nintendo game for the N64, SNES, and NES. In time, old games from other companies will likely be available as well. Excellent!
Additional Features: One again, many things about the Revolution are still unclear. We'll just have to wait and see.
Price and Release Date: Nothing has been said about the price. It could be anywhere from $200-$400. The Revolution is supposed to release around the same time as the PS3 so think sometime next year.
Final Thoughts: Seriously, I'd buy it just for on-line Smash Brothers, not to mention Mario, Zelda, Metroid, etc... And then there's the downloadable games, talk about a great way to pick up some of the old classics I need for my collection. And, now that we're seeing just how many cool things can be done with the DS, I'm excited to see what new possibilities the Revolution's mystery controller will open up.

See you wednesday!


8/26/2005 Much ado about nothing

As always, there's a new bonus comic so make sure to vote. There's a new ROM comic as well.

Well, I don't have much time to rant right now so I'll see you all on monday. Enjoy the weekend!


8/24/2005 You don't say?

New ROM comic!

I killed Glint! Well, my party killed Glint. Same thing. If you didn't know, Glint is a difficult optional boss in Guild Wars. It's amazing how much more fun the game is when you actually get a good party together. While it's a bit easier to do so in the later areas of the game, it can still be quite a challenge and often means the difference between victory and failure, especially on the harder missions. Since GW is all about co-op play, and since hardly any of my friends play, I've had lots of experience with randomly gathered parties. When you break it down, pretty much every GW player can fit in one of the floowing groups (this probably holds true for most MMOs).
Excellent Player: These are the people who are good at the game, can lead, follow orders, or both and often have at least a basic idea of what to do. These are the best people to partner up with.
Good Newbie: These guys are fairly new to the game and don't quite know how everything works. But, to make up for that, they're great at following orders and learn fast. They're mostly found in the earlier part of the game and make pretty good team mates.
Know-It-All: These guys are good players, or at least think they are. They think they know the best way to do everything and never listen to everyone else. They'll occasionally make good leaders but usually just screw things up and cause trouble for everyone else.
Deaf & Dumb: These people ignore the team chat entirely. Not only do they not talk to anyone else, they also won't respond to questions and ignore all orders and suggestions. In battle, they pretty much just do their own thing regardless of the rest of the team. Some of them are half decent but the majority tend to either pull in too many enemies at once or leave the rest of the team hanging. Annoying as they are, people of this type are far far worse if they're playing as healers.
General Idiot: The ones who fall under this catagory are either mentally deficient or think acting like they are is cool. They think they're great players and ignore orders, like some of the other groups, but these guys consistantly make really stupid mistakes. They'll commonly draw every enemy they can find, even when the party is already being overwhelmed, attack the wrong guys, show no strategy whatsoever, and contribute nothing to the battle. In addition, they tend to spam the team chat with useless drivil, swear words, sex stuff, etc, and draw obscene scribbles on the map.
Clueless Newbie: These new players have new clue what they're doing and often have little interest in learning but seem to be having fun anyway. They're very random behavior can be amusing at times but they're are pretty useless as team mates. Fortunately, they're only in the early parts of the game.
Preschool Dropout: This isn't so much of a catagory in and of itself but a good chunk of the Clueless Newbies and most of the General Idiots and Total Jerks fall under this catagory as well. Basically, these are the guys and girls who seem to have flunked out of first grade spelling and grammer. I mean, it's an on-line game so some basic abbreviation is expected at times but that's no excuse. If you can actually understand what these people are saying, you deserve a medal.
Total Jerk: These are the people you want to avoid at all costs. Unfortunately, unlike most of the other negative catagories, Total Jerks are often smart enought not to reveal their true nature until you've already started the quest or mission. They aren't always stupid, although many are, and some are pretty smart. But all of them live simply to screw over the rest of the party. Their behaviors vary. Some like to pull in too many monsters at once, others like to do nothing at all and just stand or dance while the rest of your party is trying to cope with being one player short. Some of the worst will run into an area transition at the worst time, forcing the others to miss items or skills, or wasting lots of work by forcing everyone to walk bacak through the area, refighting all the monsters that they already killed.

Well, that's enough ranting for now. Later!


8/22/2005 That's weird...

I like today's strip. Anyway, remember to vote and see friday's bonus comic. As always, old bonus comics can be found on the Extras page. Also, if you have some extra cash, donations have been pretty low lately. Remember, the more donations Pebble Version gets during a given month, the more cool bonus content you get during the next month. Bonus content including ROM The Novel, more updates each week, and commentary on old PV strips (see the donation info further down this page for more info). I believe Shauni has some donation incentives planned as well... I'm even having a special. Anyone who donates $10 or more gets a free signed copy of my book. Unfortunately, if you live outside of the continental US you'll have to pay a bit more because of the extra shipping costs.

One last bit of Pebble Version news. A new site has been added to the Link Exchange. You can find it at the very bottom of the page. There was supposed to be a link button that went with it but, oddly enough, every time I tried adding the button to the page it crashed my web editor. I even tried redownloading the button and resaving it in Photoshop. Weird...

Since my PS2 is back in AZ, and my brother only has a Gamecube, I bought Tales of Symphonia to play while I'm here. I haven't gotten very far yet but I'm liking it a lot. Fun battle system, cool characters, good story... I was getting the hang of the battle system so I decided to try upping the difficulty to hard mode. Wow, they don't call it hard for nothing. The next random encounter nearly wiped me out. Guess I need some more practice.

Well, I'll see you on wednesday!


8/19/2005 The joys of free time

New ROM and a new bonus comic for all you voters.

Well, I'm back home in CO and trying to get used to the fact that I actually don't have to do any school on week days. Of course, it's a short break, but that's better than nothing, and school usually isn't very busy during the first half of the semester. For one thing, I've finally had time to play Guild Wars again. I just ascended! Course, I probably should have done that a couple months ago but between my school work, other games, and my determination to finish every single quest and bonus objective I can find.

And, uh, let's see, what else can I talk about? I'm kinda drawing a blank right now... Guess I'll try again on monday.

Have a great weekend!


8/17/2005 Victory dance!

New ROM up! Oh, and Jeff, if you're reading this, please e-mail me ASAP. Speaking of e-mail, I'm still a little behind so to the people still waiting for replys, you should hear from me by the end of the week at the latest.

Whew... Another semester done. Not that I get a very long break but it's something. And I won't be taking a mod class in the fall, which will be a nice change of pace. Although, I'm seriously considering starting a non class related game project of my own. I want to talk to one of my teachers about it first though. Um yeah, anyway, I done for now and I'm heading off on a much needed vacation. Updates, however, should continue as normal.

Um, let's see, what else... Bought a few new graphic novels. I highly recommend Hunter X Hunter. Only three volumes are out so far but it's the best new manga I've gotten in quite some time. Excellenct characters, imaginative settings, cool story... It's by the same author as the popular Yuyu Hakusho and, as much as I like Yuyu, I think Hunter X Hunter is even better.

Well, I'd better run. Get to get ready for my trip. Later!


8/15/2005 I live!

Hi everyone. Really sorry about missing friday's update. I was up most of thursday night trying to get my Neverwinter Nights mod finished in time for class on friday (of course, if the editor actually worked right it would have been finished much sooner). Anyway, by the time I finished I was too tired to even think about updating. But anyway, be sure to check out the Extras page since I've added some 2nd Anniversary bonus comics and fan art that I didn't get the chance to put up on thursday. Speaking of which, the one I did put on on thursday was the wrong file (guess my mind wasn't working too well after all that NWN work), the correct comic is also on the Extras page. And for any of you who missed my special anniversary comic, you can see it by voting (they'll be a new voter bonus comic on friday). Also, the 50th ROM comic up up along with some bonus content.

Well, I'm not quite done with finals (got one last day of work left to do), but I did get to take a couple much needed breaks. First my NWN mod team had a wrap party on friday. We got a bunch of food and watched Red vs Blue, which I hadn't seen before. It's pretty funny. Then, on sunday, we had an extra long anime club meeting to watch the rest of Kalaidostar season 1. It's a great series and I hope they hurry up and release the second season here in the US.

That's it for now. I'll be heading off for a short vacation on wednesday but updates shouldn't be affected.


8/11/2005 2 Years and counting...

Forgive me if I seem a bit distracted but my day recently took a rather disasterious turn when one of the key scripts in my Neverwinter Nights mod, which I need to demo to my teacher on friday, suddenly broke for no reason what-so-ever. I didn't even touch it or any of the stuff it controls and it's been working for weeks and now it just doesn't... Let's just say that this is really bad and if it doesn't start working again soon I'm going to be in serious trouble.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Hope you like today's bonus comic. See my new sprite? Yes, that is the only pose I have so far. Aside from the gloves and the double belts, it's actually a pretty good likeness. Also, here's a guest comic sent in by Sean for PV's anniversary.

So, it's been two years since Pebble Version's official launch and even longer since I decided to start my own sprite comic. Now, three hundred strips, around sixty bonus comics, and several graphics upgrades later, Pebble Version is more popular than ever. It's no Bob and George or 8-bit Theater but in another couple years who knows... It's taken a lot of time and a bit of money to keep going but overall doing this comic has been a good experience. There have been a few events over the last couple of years that have been far from fun but for every troll, flamer, and the like, I've met tens, if not hundreds, of great people, some of whom have gone on to become good friends. So, to all my readers out there, both old and new, thanks for reading Pebble Version. I hope you've enjoyed Brendan and May's adventures so far and I hope you'll continue to enjoy them in the future.

Well, I was going to talk about the previous two years for a bit longer but I really need to get my NWN project working. See you tomorrow!


Pokemon and all related images and trademarks are copyrighted by Nintendo, one of my favorite games companies who would certainly never waste their time by trying to sue me. Especially since I'm protected under the Fair Use Rule of the United States Copyright Act of 1976. Aside from that the actual site content is copyrighted by me, Josiah Lebowitz 2003.