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8/10/2007 One last review

There's a new special bonus comic up, this one features Opal who won both the Nicest Poster award and a Special Achievement award in the 2007 PV Forum Awards, so please vote and take a look. There's a new ROM too. Oh, and don't forget the guest comic contest. Today is your last day to submit entries... Well, I might also accept any guest comics I get tomorrow as well but nothing after that. Remember, tomorrow is PV's 4th anniversary! I'll talk more about that on monday.

Can't believe I'm flying to Japan on tuesday... Even harder to believe that I'll most likely be staying there for 8 months... Anyway, monday's update will be normal. There will be no update on wednesday since I probably won't have internet access. Assuming that I get into my apartment and get internet access without any problems, the first of the guest comic contest winners should be posted on friday. At least assuming that everything goes according to plan, there's always a chance that something will go wrong and I won't have internet for a while. But let's hope not.

Now, time for one last review. Well, actually there's one more game I want to review after this one but it'll probably be quite a while before I have time. Anyway, I'm running kinda late already so I'm gonna have to make this quick.

God of War is an action game for the PS2. It isn't the type of thing I usually play but I've been trying to play big games in a variety of genres to broaden my scope a bit. For the younger players out there, keep in mind that it's rated M for a reason (lots of blood and violence and a few topless women).
Graphics: God of War features some fairly good looking models that animate very smoothly. The environments are pretty nice too. Everything is in 3D and it's a mix of realtime and prerendered stuff. Since God of War is a bit old (after all, GoWII is already out) it's certainly not one of the most impressive looking games on the PS2 but it still manages to hold its own.
Sound: There's some good but not particularily memorable music and the sound effects are spot on. The whole game is voiced. There aren't a whole lot of voice actors (since there aren't a lot of talking characters) but they all sound pretty much perfect.
Story: GoW's plot is based on Greek mythology although there's a lot of liberties taken. The game starts with a narrator telling how the main character, Kratos, cast himself into the sea, hoping that death would finally free him from his madness. The plot then jumps three weeks into the past. This is where the bulk of the game takes place and you play through the events leading to the prologue. Kratos, the Ghost of Sparta, is a loyal servant of the gods. The opening area, which has a bit of tutorial mixed in, has Kratos on a quest to destory the hydra. After that the main plot begins as he is sent to Athens to try and save the city from destruction at the hand of Ares, the god of war. But defeating a god is no easy task. Along the way Kratos's own dark past will be revealed. It's a dark and violent story but a pretty good one.
Gameplay: GoW is an action game. You'll spend the majority of your time fighting off hordes of monsters but there's also a decent amount of platforming (some of which can get rather frustrating *cough*spinning blade areas*cough*) and the occasional puzzle. Kratos can run, jump, perform a very useful dodge roll, and, of course, fight. When it comes to fighting Kratos uses the Blades of Chaos, two short swords that are attached to his arms by chains, allowing him to do some fancy swining combos. You've got your basic and strong attacks and a grab (all of which can be chained together into a variety of combos), a block (that magically protects against attacks from all directions no matter which way Kratos is facing), and several magic spells which you'll learn over the course of the game. Aside from all these moves, Kratos can also perform enemy specific special attacks (most of which are finishing moves) by performing some little button pushing mini-games. The combat is fast, fluid, bloody, and a lot of fun. There's a pretty decent amount of enemies in the game. A lot of them are just stronger versions of guys you've already fought but they've usually got enough new moves to keep things interesting.
As previously mentioned, the platforming can get rather annoying at times but it's usually decent. Your path is usually pretty linear but you'll have to do some exploring if you want to find all the hidden chests (some of which are really well hidden) to upgrade Kratos's stuff. He can get several upgrades to his health and magic guages by finding the right hiddens items scattered throughout the game. He can also upgrade his weapons and spells (to make them stronger and get new special moves) by using red orbs which are found in chests and dropped by monsters.
The main game will probably take you 8-15 hours (keep in mind that doesn't count the time you spend dieing and replaying areas) but there's several difficulty settings (which range from pretty easy to extremely hard), a bunch of unlockable stuff (mostly making of movies and the like), and an unlockable challenge mode where you can try to complete 10 special challenges to unlock alternate costumes for Kratos (which change more than just his appearance), so you can probably get two or three playthroughs out of it if you want to.
Overall: If you don't mind the violence and dark plot, God of War is a mostly fun game filled with lots challenging battles and an interesting story. While it's not for everyone, if what I've said so far sounds intriguing you might want to give it a try.


8/8/2007 No rain

Water World was awesome (as always) and it actually didn't rain. It was cloudy most of the day but after getting rained out the last two times I went to big outdoor attractions that I was really looking forward to, clouds weren't so bad.

And now I gotta run. See you friday!


8/6/2007 New Old News

Friday's bonus comic is a special one featuring Artemis, one of the winners of the 2007 Pebble Version Forum Awards, so check it out when you get the chance. Meanwhile, I'm finally starting to get a bunch of good entries for the guest comic contest. If you still want to enter, this is the last week to do so so you'll have to hurry.

I'll be heading to Denver today and should be back on wednesday night. My dad and brother are going there to go to baseball games, which I'm not too interested in, but I'm using it as an opportunity to go to Water World, which is supposedly the largest water park in the country. It's probably true considering how big it is. Anyway, it's a lot of fun and I haven't been there in years. I just hope the weather is decent. Not sure exactly what my internet access will be like but wednesday's update shouldn't be affected.

I redid the Old News page a bit. Now the main Old News page only has the current year's worth of news and you can use the links near the top of the page to get to new Old News pages, one for each year (with years starting at Pebble Version's anniversaries). Speaking of Pebble Version's anniversary, it's actually this saturday. If it was a different day I'd consider doing a bonus update for the anniversary but saturday just won't work so I'll talk about the anniversary on monday instead.

See you later!


8/3/2007 Guest comics anyone?

The newest bonus comic is up and it's a special since this week begins a series of several bonus comics featuring the winners of the 2007 Pebble Version Forum Awards so go check it ou! There's a new ROM too.

I've gotten a couple more guest comics but I could still use a lot more for this contest. If you want to see old guest comics they can be found on the Extras page. Here are the rules again.
The due date is August 10th, all guest comics must be submitted on or before then.
Comics must be rated PG or G.
Comics can be on any subject but should have something to do with Pebble Version and/or Pokémon.
Comics can be hand drawn, sprites, CG, or pretty much any art style and should be submitted to me as png, jpg, or gif files.
Comics should be no more than 800 pixels wide 1200 pixels high, there are no minimum size limits.
Try and keep your file sizes at 200kb or less although if you're having trouble with that I can probably reduce the file size a bit on my own.

The next few weeks are going to be really busy for me. Updates this coming week should be normal although wednesday's might be a little late or early. The following monday should be a normal update as well (although possibly a bit late or early). After that I'll be heading to Japan so regular updates will be replaced with guest comics for a while. I can't say exactly how long the guest comics will run (probably between one and two weeks) and there's a pretty decent chance that I'll miss an update or two (that wednesday's is almost certainly going to be skipped). And to top it all off, since Japan is in a much different time zone, update times for the comic in general will probably change a bit, even after the guest comics are finished. I can't say exactly what the new update times will be until I'm actually in Japan and have my schedule figured out but chances are that all updates will end up taking place about half a day or so earlier than they do now. But yeah, more on that later. I'll be sure to keep you all up to date in these news posts.


8/1/2007 Agents are go!

Gee, I've never had so much trouble getting entries for a GUEST COMIC CONTEST. Usually I get flooded with strips, this time not so much... But there's still a week and a half left to get your entries in! Remember, the winning strips get put on the main page. You can read the rules in the last news post so make some comics and e-mail them to me, ok?
Now, I've still got three more games I want to review so I might as well get to it.

Elite Beat Agents for the DS is an English sequel of sorts to the Japanese Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!, a rythem game with a wacky sense of humor. Keep in mind that EBA isn't Ouendan in English but a full on sequel with completely new songs (American stuff as opposed to JPop) and some new features. Of course, if you haven't played Ouendan then that really doesn't matter too much.
Graphics: In Elite Beat Agents you've got a mix of 2D animated movies that play on the top screen. These are the story scenes, introducing your missions, showing what's going on with the person you're helping, and finally the ending. This are bright colorful anime style and look really good. On the bottom screen you've got your 3D in the forum of the agents. They're pretty good looking for being on the DS and they animate really well. In the end, the graphics won't take your breath away but they provide a solid and enjoyable visual experience.
Sound: Being a rythem game, the music is easily the most important element of the game. There are 19 songs (3 are hidden and have to be unlocked) and, while they certainly aren't CD quality, they sound quite good, especially with a nice pair of headphones. The music is a big mix with some classic rock like Jumping Jack Flash, ABC, and YMCA, newest music like La, La, and Without a Fight, and stuff in between. With such a diverse collection you're pretty much guarenteed to find some songs you like, although there's also a decent chance of running into some ones you don't like much. In the end, it's a solid but not quite spectacular set. The sound effects and handful of voice acting are a bit goofy but work well.
Story: What, a rythem game with a story? Yep, and it's a pretty funny story at that. Have you ever been in a really tough situation (say driving a pregnant lady to the hospital in record time, getting stranded on a deserted island, or trying to fight off a bunch of goofy bandits), the kind where things are so bad that you want to just put your head back and yell "HELP!"? From their hightech control center the EBA monitors the world for those calls for help and dispatches agents who arrive on the scene moment later. Then, instead of actually helping the person, (like giving the people stranded on the island a ride to the mainland) they strike up a song and dance routing to help the person in trouble do their best. There isn't much of an overarching plot but each mission has its own story which is told through an intro, several story scenes throughout the song (that change depending on your performance) and an ending, which is also performance based. They're generally corny but amusing.
Gameplay: Now you might not think a music game would work all that well on a portable system, not with the likes of DDR and Guitar Heo requiring large special controllers. But ignore those thoughts and give EBA a try. The action takes place on the touch screen where the agents are dancing to help the person in the top screen. There's three basic actions you need to perform. The first, and most important, is tapping. Numbered circles will appear on the screen with larger circles surrounding them that shrink, you need to tap the circle when the larger one is the same size as the main circle (or at least as close as you can get). Then there's sliding, where you need to slide the stylus along a path at the correct speed. And finally the spinner, where you use the stylus to spin a wheel around as fast as you can. Now that might seem simply enough (and it is at first) but later in the game you can easily have over ten things on the screen at once, all of which you need to do at the proper time and in the proper order. It can get incredibly hectic, and rather hard to follow, in the harder levels. The goal of all this is to keep your beat meter from running out. It drains constantly over time and drops even more if you miss something you're supposed to hit. Correctly timing your taps and getting your slides and spins right fills the guage a bit and gives you points (the better your timing, the more life and points you get).
The game is divided into missions (typically you'll have the choice of three or so missions at a time and once you clear them all more will open up). Each mission opens with a little story scene showing the person you need to help (they're skippable too if you've already seen them too many times). Then the dancing starts. The songs are typically divided into four sections (broken up by story scenes that change depending on how well you're doing) with a final ending scene at the end (duh) before you've giving your final score and rank. There are 16 regular songs and 3 unlockable bonus songs and four difficulty levels so the game will keep you busy for a while (especially if you keep going back for a higher rank score).
Overall: Elite Beat Agents is a surprisingly fun and engaging rythem game despite being on a portable system. The game starts out simple and graduatlly ramps up to really hard as you progress through the various difficulty levels and with four difficulty levels there's enough to keep you busy for quite a while. The music selection, while not perfect, isn't bad and you're sure to find at least some songs that you really like. If you like rythem games, or if you just like the unique, fun, and quirky, and have decent reflexes this is one DS game you don't want to miss.


7/30/2007 Still need guest comics

Attention Diamond/Pearl players, I'd like to get one of those official Darkrai they gave away in Japan at the 10th Pokémon movie premere (the ones that know Special Roar and Rend of Time). If you've got one and are interested in trading drop me an e-mail. I can trade anything from the first 386 pokémon (all legit) (including some level 100s and some shinies).

Friday's bonus comic is there for all to see (or at least everyone who votes for Pebble Version on Top Web Comics). More importantly, I still need lots of guest comics for that guest comic contest I'm holding. There's only two weeks left to get your entries to me. Here's the rules in case you forgot.
The due date is August 10th, all guest comics must be submitted on or before then.
Comics must be rated PG or G.
Comics can be on any subject but should have something to do with Pebble Version and/or Pokémon.
Comics can be hand drawn, sprites, CG, or pretty much any art style and should be submitted to me as png, jpg, or gif files.
Comics should be no more than 800 pixels wide 1200 pixels high, there are no minimum size limits.
Try and keep your file sizes at 200kb or less although if you're having trouble with that I can probably reduce the file size a bit on my own.

Now for another review. Pokémon Battle Revolution isn't so more like the N64 Stadium games than the GC Colisseum games (there's no story mode, just lots and lots of battles). If you want to battle pokémon in 3D or get extra copies of some rare items it's not bad but, considering what you get, it's a bit overpriced.
Graphics: If you've played the Coliseeum games, you've got an idea of what to expect. All 493 pokémon are there in full 3D and looking better than ever. Of course, some things just look plain odd like how flying type pokémon aren't effected by ground moves even when they're standing on the ground during the attack, some hovering pokémon are effected by ground attacks, lots of pokémon hover for no apparant reason (fish for example), and if freeze a flying pokémon or put it to sleep it stays in the air despite not being able to flap its wings... Anyway, all the pokémon look a bit better than before and the male/female differences are visable. The attack effects look a bit better to and now you can actually see the pokémon hit each other with some of the attacks (a nice change from past games) but not all of them... The stadiums look a lot nicer this time around as do the trainers, and they've got a lot more animation this time around. Speaking of trainers, you trainer is customizable. Although the trainer making system is a bit limited you can still make a pretty good looking and unique trainer...after you buy all the different clothes, features, etc (this takes time so you're gonna spend quite a while with a pretty generic trainer)...
Sound: The music is decent but rather repititious and the sound effects are decent but nothing particularily great either. There's also an announcer this time around who gives a play by play during the battles. Like most computer announcers, some of his comments are right on, others not so much... Plus, while it's kinda neat at first, it does tend to get repititious fairly quickly.
Story: There really isn't any plot to Battle Revolution. You're a pokémon trainer who is visiting the island of Pokétopia, a resort that specializes in all types of pokémon battles. There's no story, no NPCs to talk to, areas to explore, or anything like that. You just look at a map of the island and choose which colisseum you want to go to. More colisseums unlock as you beat the ones you already have and there is a final one and but that's about it.
Gameplay: I'm going to assume that everyone reading this knows how pokémon battles work (if you don't you have no reason to buy Battle Revolution, it's not a great intro to the series, go pick up Pokémon Diamond or Pearl instead). You'll start out making a profile (you can make your own battle pass (thing trainer card), trainer, catch phrases, etc) and copying your pokémon team over from a Diamond or Pearl cartridge (if you don't have Diamond or Pearl you use a rental pass which have their own set of borrowed pokémon but those teams aren't all that good and if you don't have Diamond or Pearl you really shouldn't buy Battle Revolution). Copying your party is a pretty quick and easy process. You wirlessly link your DS and Wii and your BR save we get a copy of all the pokémon in your D/P party and PC (yep, all your PC boxes). You can't change anything about your pokémon once their in BR but since they stay in your D/P game you can make any changes on there and then resync it with BR.
Most of the colisseums are pretty basic single or double battles. Some have special rules (randomly giving you pokémon, playing a round robin tournament, etc) but only the ones that mess with your pokémon party make much of a difference (and are a pain in the neck since a lot of the computer pokémon aren't fully evolved and have pretty lousy movesets). If you're an experienced trainer then your first time through the game will probably be pretty easy (and rather boring) aside from when you're forced to use computer picked pokémon. Fortunately, after you complete the game once a lot of the colisseums get upgraded with new rules and tougher opponents.
So what's the point of playing through all these colisseums? Beating them lets you buy more items at the store. There's a lot of stuff to modify your trainer's appearance but you can also buy stuff to take back into Diamond/Pearl (rare berries, evolution stones, TMs, hold items, and the like). You can also get a surfing pikachu.
Finally, there's the online play. Like D/P you can set up online battles with people you've traded friend codes with (note that these friend codes aren't the same as your D/P friend codes or your Wii friend codes). You've got some choices of rules and all that but battles aren't completely customizable. The main addition to online battling is random battle which pits you against a random opponent. But you have no say about who your random opponent is so you could get someone a whole lot better, or worse, than you are. You might also get someone who uses all legendaries or even hacked pokémon (although Nintendo put filters in that block some of those).
Overall: Battle Revolution lets you battle pokémon in 3D and fight random opponents online (something you can't do in D/P). Some of the colisseum battles aren't bad either. It's also a good way to get extra copies of rare items to take back into D/P. If you want the fancy battles or the spare items BR isn't a bad game but if you don't care about that stuff or don't have D/P there's no reason at all to get this game. And there's also no getting around the fact that you're paying $50 for what should have probably been a $30 game. Still, for die hard fans Battle Revolution certainly has its good points.


7/27/2007 How do I keep getting behind?

There's a new voters' bonus comic and a new ROM today.

How do I keep getting behind on Pebble Version strips? Well, this time I think I just never quite got caught up. Hopefully I can get totally caught up over the weekend. So yeah, that's it for now. Look for another review or two next week.


7/25/2007 The "lost" Final Fantasy

Only a few days left if you want to get donations in for this month. There's already a couple bucks on the guage so there's a little bit of a head start there. Now for that review.

Final Fantasy III, originally on the NES, wasn't released in the US when it first came out and got left out when the other old FF games got rereleased on the Playstation and Gameboy Advance so some people called it the lost Final Fantasy. Now it's finally gotten a US release on the DS, but this isn't just a port or even an prettied up 2D version. They remade the entire game in 3D complete with a redone script and other new content.
Graphics: For a 3D DS game, FFIII looks really good. Compared to regular consules though, it's about on the level of some of the older Playstation games. In all in 3D and, except for the couple of nice looking FMVs, there's nothing prerendered. Character are a cutesy deformed style and a little on the blocky side. Like I said though, for the DS it's pretty impressive.
Sound: Naboo Uematsu redid all the old music for this remake and it sounds great. Not my favorite FF soundtrack and you hear some tunes way too often but it's still very good music. The sound effects are kinda typical of old RPGs, which is to say adequet but kinda lame.
Story: The story has been improved since the original NES game, for example the main characters are have names and personalities now. The overall plot is fairly typical of older RPGs. Don't expect a huge epic tale full of twists and turns. There are a few twists but nothing amazing. In a nutshell, darkness is covering the land. To stop it, the crystals of light choose 4 heroes to regain their power and save the world from the darkness. Actually, if you've played Final Fantasy V you'll notice quite a lot of similarities between the stories...
Gameplay: FFIII is very much a classic old style RPG. Naturally you do the whole traveling across the overworld and stop by various towns and dungeons while fighting off random encounters thing. This was before the ATB (active time battle system) was created so it's all turn based (you tell all your characters what to do then watch and they and the monsters take their turns). Characters gain EXP from battle and level up to get better stats. The game uses a job system. As you gain the power of the crystals you'll be able to switch between more and more jobs. There's all your standard ones (White Mage, Black Mage, Knight, etc) and some more exotic ones (Viking, Geomancer, etc). Your job determins some of your stats, your special abilities, what magic you can use, and what equipment you can use. There's a pretty good selection of jobs although some of them lose their usefullness after a while. The game is fairly difficult so you'll probably have to do some leveling from time to time if you want to beat the bosses. Speaking of the difficultly, there's no save points. You can only save on the world map. Well, you can quick save any time outside of battle but since quicksave data gets deleted once you load it, it's only useful if you need to stop playing in the middle of a dungeon, not if you get killed. So yeah, leveling is a good thing if you don't want to have to redo a lot of areas.
You can control the entire game with a stylus or just use the d-pad and buttons, the second screen is typically used for menus, maps, and the like. You can also send e-mail to various NPCs (who may reply with useful or not so useful info) other FFIII players via local wireless or Wi-Fi, which is rather useless...except that you can only unlock the new sub-quests and stuff by sending a bunch of e-mails to real people so you kinda have to if you want to get the last job class, get the ultimate weapons, and fight a ridiculously powerful optional boss (as in, you need to be strong enough to beat the final boss and then gain another 30 levels or so).
Overall: Final Fantasy III is a pretty cool remake of a classic NES RPG. However, since it's a classic NES RPG be prepared for an old style battle system, lack of save points, difficult battles, and lots of leveling. And don't expect a story on the level of the newer FFs either. Still, if you like (or at least don't mind) old school gameplay Final Fantasy III is probably the best RPG on the DS.


7/23/2007 Change of plans

As usual, you can vote any time to see Friday's bonus comic. And remember that there's a guest comic contest going on! I'd really like enough good guest comics to last for a week or two so please give it a shot. Here's the rules in case you forgot or missed them the first time.
The due date is August 10th, all guest comics must be submitted before then.
Comics must be rated PG or G.
Comics can be on any subject but should have something to do with Pebble Version and/or Pokémon.
Comics can be hand drawn, sprites, CG, or pretty much any art style and should be submitted to me as png, jpg, or gif files.
Comics should be no more than 800 pixels wide 1200 pixels high, there are no minimum size limits.
Try and keep your file sizes at 200kb or less although if you're having trouble with that I can probably reduce the file size a bit on my own.

So, that trip I mentioned on Friday, there was a last minute change of plans and I ended up staying home so updates this weeks should be totally normal. I don't really mind. I probably could have insisted on going if I really wanted to but I was rather indifferent about it so I left the choice up to someone else.

A lot happened this weekends. The two main things being a good friend of mine getting married (gee, that's the second friend of mine to get married, makes me feel old...) and the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Harry Potter has been my favorite series for years and, after book 6, I was dying to find out how things would end. Following my usual tradition, I started reading saturday night (couldn't do it on friday night or saturday during the day because it was shabbat (aka the sabbath)), read until I really late, got a few hours of sleep, then got up and kept reading until I finished it. I can't really say much of anything about the plot without spoilers and I shouldn't have to say this but if you've never read a Harry Potter book Deathly Hallows is not the place to start. If you don't read the series in order you miss out on a lot and will have serious trouble understanding what's going on in the later books. Anyway, if any of you were worried that the ending wouldn't live up to the rest of the series, you don't have to. Deathly Hallows is dark (far more dark and mature than any of the previous books) and often sad but it's a great story and brings the tale of Harry and his friends to a fitting close while tieing up all the loose ends, answering all of the big questions left from the previous books, and (as Rowling promised) revealing pretty much all the backstory you could want.
As nice as it is to finally know the end of the story, I'm sad to see it end. Like I said before, Harry Potter has been my favorite series since not long after I read the first book and few things could get me as excited as a new HP book. It's kinda said to think that there there won't be any new stories of Harry and Hogwarts for me to look forward to. I hope Rowling keeps writing though, she mentioned wanting to try her hand as a mystery novel, I'm sure she'd be good at it.
You know, quite a lot of my favorite series (books, movies, and games) have either ended recently or are going to end pretty soon. Sigh... I hope I can find some great new series , if not then in another year or there won't be many good stories for me to look forward to (since the vast majority of the stuff I've been following will be over). Of course I can always go back and re read/watch/play my old favorites over again, which I love doing, but it's not quite the same as something new and unexpected.

That's all for now. Look for a new review on wednesday.


7/20/2007 Another trip?

There's a new voters' bonus comic and a new ROM today. And, if you still haven't read monday's update, there's a guest comic contest going on so you might want to read the rules and give it a go. The more entries the better!

And I'm going on a trip again... I'll be leaving early sunday morning and won't be back till monday or tuesday of the following week. My family is driving to Chicago for a conference. Not exactly something I'm looking forward to. The conference might be intersting, or it might just get on my nerves (these type of things are usually a mixed bag for me) and that's a whole lot of driving. I mean, sure I can read Harry Potter 7 since I won't have time to read much of it on saturday (can't wait though!) and I can play games on my DS and all that. But...I could also do that stuff at home where it'd be a lot more comfortable. At least a friend of mine is going, maybe we can hang out or something.
Anyway I have absolutely no idea what my internet access is going to be like on this trip (especially since I'll be staying in several different hotels). I'll do my best to update PV just like normal but depending on how the whole internet situation goes some or all of the updates may end up being posted a littler earlier or later than usual or even skipped entirely (although I'll try to avoid that). Also, it'll probably take me a bit longer than usual to answer e-mail, post on the forums, and the like.

Well, I'll see you monday, I hope. Enjoy Harry Potter 7!


7/18/2007 Hold it!

If you missed monday's news post you really should scroll down the page a little bit and read it since it contains a bit announcement about me (which will have some, but hopefully not too much, impact on Pebble Version). There also information about the upcoming guest comic contest. You only have till August 10th to get your submissions in so you'd better get started. Now for a review.

Phoenix Wright Justice for All is the second game in the Phoenix Wright series. Like PW Ace Attorney, it started out as a Japanese GBA game and was later remade for the DS. While you could play JFA first without too much, you'll get more out of the story if you play the games in order.
Graphics: Justice for All looks pretty much exactly like Ace Attorney. In fact, quite a lot of areas and character art was pulled straight from AA (especially the courtroom stuff). Nothing wrong with that though, the graphics are really about as good as you can get with that art style and they look great. The backgrounds are nice and detailed and the characters are lively with tons of animations.
Sound: Like the graphics, some of the music and sound effects were pulled straight from AA. But that keeps things consistant and they sound good. There's some new music too, it's not bad but it's nothing incredible either. The series is still screaming for voice acting but I suppose that just isn't practicle on the DS.
Story: JFA picks up a year after the end of AA (well, actually the first case takes place a bit later than that but then the second case jumps back to 1 year after AA and the others continue from there). You still play the roll of Phoenix Wright, a defense attorney with a knack for picking apart witnesses' testimonies. There are 4 cases this time around, one short intro case (although it's longer than the intro case in AA) and three full cases. Each case has its story as you work to find the truth behind a murder and clear your client but there's also the main story running through the whole game. Not to give much away but Phoenix and his partner Maya (a spirit channeler in training) reunite and are forced to face off against a new prosecuter, the daughter of their old enemy Von Karma. There's lots of interesting new characters and returning characters as well. Like AA, JFL features some very engaging cases that of full of strange twists, memorable characters, and hillarious dialogue.
Gameplay: If you've played AA, you'll be able to dive right into JFA. Like in the past games, cases span multiple days. You'll spend half the day investigating the crime scene and various other areas, searching for clues, and interviewing people. The rest of the day is spent in court grilling witnesses and trying to find the mistake and lies in their testimonies. If you want a full rundown of how this works read my review of Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney.
JFA only has two major changes from AA. First off, you can now present not only evidence but people's profiles as well. Second, and most important, is the psyche lock system. During the second case Phoenix will gain an item that lets him tell when people are hiding something (this only works during investigations, not trails). To find out what secrets are hidden behind their psyche locks, you'll needs to challenge them and correctly answer questions and present evidence to force them to talk. It's not a huge change but it's nice to be able to force some of the uncooperative people give up their secrets. The other changes are minor and there are vey few of them (for example, the life guage is done differently, which can make thing a bit more difficult at times).
Overall: If you didn't like Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney, Justice for All won't change your mind. It's still a fairly slow moving heavily text based game. On the other hand, if you liked the first game, JFL features more puzzling cases complete with some great new characters (and many old favorites), an excellent plot, and plenty of laugh out loud dialogue. In a nutshell, if you liked the first game, JFL won't disapoint.


7/16/2007 Big Announcement #1 & Guest Comic Contest

Friday's bonus comic is up if you haven't seen it yet.

Now, I promised a lot of reviews and some big announcements after I get back from PA. We'll start out with the biggest piece of news. I got a job! And it's no ordinary job either. I'm going to be an assistant English teacher in Japan! Assuming that my visa application goes through (which it should) I'll be leaving in mid August (the semester starts the beginning of September but I have a couple weeks for training and to learn my way around first) and teaching at an elementary school in Nogi (a town in Tochigi Prefecture around 80 minutes from Tokyo). My contract goes until the end of March and assuming that I don't renew it (which might happen but, for now, I'm not planning on it) I'll probably spend a few weeks after that touring a bit before heading back home to look for a game job (since I really want to make my career in game design and/or writing).
So that's my big news, I'm kinda excited and kinda nervous but it's only around 8 months, not all that long when you think about it... Plus it'll be a really intersting experience and should really improve my Japanese. Now some of you may be wondering how this is going to affect Pebble Version. The short answer is, hopefully not much. I've been promised an apartment with broadband and I plan to keep updating PV three times a week if at all possible. Update times, however, might change a bit. Japan is something like 15 hours difference from where I am now so the update schedule will likely change a bit. But I won't really be able to figure that out until I'm there so I'll talk about it more later.

That said, I'll probably be pretty busy when I first go to Japan (really long plane flight, moving in, trying to get learn my way around, adjust, and all that) so there's a decent chance that I'll miss an update or two. Plus, since I'll probably be pretty busy for the first week or two that I'm there, I'm holding a GUEST COMIC CONTEST so there'll be plenty of stuff for your guys to read until I have time to make new comics. Now for the rules.
The due date is August 10th, all guest comics must be submitted before then.
Comics must be rated PG or G.
Comics can be on any subject but should have something to do with Pebble Version and/or Pokémon.
Comics can be hand drawn, sprites, CG, or pretty much any art style and should be submitted to me as png, jpg, or gif files.
Comics should be no more than 800 pixels wide 1200 pixels high, there are no minimum size limits.
Try and keep your file sizes at 200kb or less although if you're having trouble with that I can probably reduce the file size a bit on my own.

And that's all for today. I'll talk more about this in the future. And expect plenty of photos and comments on Japan while I'm over there.


7/13/2007 Back but behind

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

I'm back in CO but I'm still catching up on things (particularily Pebble Version related stuff) so the announcements, reviews, and the like, will have to wait until next week when I'll hopefully be caught up again.

See you then!


7/11/2007 X-(

I'm not in a great mood right now and on top of that I have to wake up before 5AM and then spend most of the day flying back home. Long story short, either the weather hates me or my luck is getting worse. I mean really, it had to rain on the two worst days... Heck it could have rained every other day of my vacation and I wouldn't have cared as long as those two days where good... Anyway, between the whole dial-up thing, vacation stuff, and some other random things I wasn't able to get a comic done for today so instead here's on of my favorite guest comics from a while back. Remember, you can read all the old guest comics on the Extras page.

See you friday.


7/9/2007 Dial-up's revenge

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

I'm still on vacation and still stuck with dial-up. Won't be back home till wednesday evening. But there's lots of big stuff coming up shortly after I get back including several reviews, a big announcement, and an not quite so big announcement about some PV related stuff.


7/6/2007 More dial-up

The new bonus comic up is so please click on the TWC banner or button to vote then just confirm your vote to see the bonus comic. There's a new ROM too. And that's it for now. Dial-up is still as much "fun" as ever. See you monday.


7/4/2007 The "joys" of dial-up

Well, maybe not joys... The only good thing I can say about dial-up is that, as a last resort, it works. So yeah, don't expect me to say a whole lot until I get back to CO and my broadband connection.


7/2/2007 In a rush

Top Web Comics hasn't always been working this weekend but the new bonus comic is there if you can get a vote in.

As previously mentioned, I'm heading to PA to visit my grandparents. I'll be back a week from wednesday. PV should update normally while I'm on vacation although updates may end up being a few hours earlier or later than normal. I probably won't be able to spend a whole lot of time online though so it might take me a bit longer than usual to respond to e-mails, post on the forums, and the like.

I was hoping to finish Twilight Princess before I left but I didn't quite make it. See, I was trying to do pretty much everything in the game. And it was going pretty well. Did the optional dungeon, got all the pieces of heart, finished most of the mini-games, etc... But I ran into a couple snags. The main one being the Poe quest. See, there's 60 poes in the game that you have to hunt down to finish the quest. I got stuck at 59. I checked some guides but they didn't seem to help since I could swear that I killed all 60 poes that are listed in the guides...but my in game counter says otherwise. I checked the ones I was a little iffy on but they were already dead. So, that leaves me with the option of abandoning the quest or taking a guide and visiting all 60 locations until I find the one I missed (a huge pain). And, thanks to all the time I wasted trying to find that last poe, I didn't have time to finish the game. So the last little bit will have to wait till I get back. Which isn't that big of a deal but it is kinda annoying. Well, guess I'll have plenty of time to decide if I really want to track down that last poe or not...


6/29/2007 Various comments

The weekly bonus comic is up! And there's a new ROM too.

I'll be heading to PA next week to visit my grandparents. I'll be leaving on monday and I should be back sometime on wednesday. I'll have internet access (although probably not very good internet access) so Pebble Version should update normally although updates may be a few hours earlier or later than usual. And, not to promise anything, but there should be a couple of pieces of big news not too long after I get back.

In other news, I'm nearly done with Zelda Twilight Princess. Just need to do a little more fishing and find a handful of pieces of heart and some poes before I head for the final dungeon. I'm hoping to finish it before I go to PA so look for a review soon. Despite that, I did play a little more Battle Revolution. Not enough to say much more about the game though, other than that the trainer AI isn't all that smart. Not that it ever really was but Diamond/Pearl seemed to take it up a couple notches, BR not so much. I mean when the enemy pokémon infatuates mine then uses the same move for the next two rounds (despite the fact that I'm already infatuated and all) you can tell they're not very smart. Kinda annoying but maybe it'll improve when I get to the harder coliseums.

Well, that's about all I want to talk about right now. See you monday!


6/27/2007 Revolutionary?

There's a new ROM. Plus I added a couple more comics to the Links page that I didn't get around to last time.

I picked up Pokémon Battle Revolution yesterday. But since I got it rather late in the day I only had time to play for about half an hour so I can't say a whole lot about it yet, but I'll talk about what I can. If you've played Coliseum or XD, BR is kinda like those but it has more in common with the Stadium games on the N64. First off, I have to say that, for what you get, the game seems a little overpriced. $30 would have probably been about right but $50... Although, Circuit City is currently selling it for $40 (but just for a few days I think) so you might want to look there if you want a copy.
Anyway, let's start with what you can do in BR. First off, you can battle in 3D using teams of pokémon rented from the game or copyed from Diamond or Pearl. The graphics are a nice improvement over the Gamecube games (especially the environments) and some of the graphical highlites include pokémon that actually hit each other, trainers that do more than just stand there, and customizable trainers. Sounds have been improved too, well, the music and effects aren't much different but now you've got an announcer calling the play by play during battles, which I find rather neat. There's a lot of different ways to battle to. The game sports a variety of Coliseums where you battle a series of AI trainers. You unlock new Coliseums as you complete others and some of them even have special rules (haven't had much experience with them yet myself but I've heard about them). Winning the Coliseums also earns you points you use to buy hold items, TMs, and rare berries which can then be transfered to D/P. Aside from fighting the computer, you can also battle your friends online (via yet another set of friend codes) and also battle random people (something you can't do in D/P). Haven't tried the random online battles yet myself but it sounds like fun (although I've heard that, despite some filters put in by Nintendo, there's a lot of people on there using hacked pokémon (although the filters are supposed to block at least the worst hacks)).
Now for what you can't do in BR. There's no story to play through, the single player mode is just a series of Coliseums. Your pokémon also don't earn experience. Basically you're playing for points to trade for items to take back into D/P. There's nothing amazing on the list but if you need extra copies of some of the rarer hold items, TMs, or berries it's not a bad deal. Plus you can get Magmorter, Electvire, and a Surfing Pikachu. You can set various rules for Wi-Fi and other non AI battles but there probably aren't as many options as you'd like.
So, what all did I do? I started off by making a new game and copying my pokémon from Diamond (it literally copies so they're still in your DS game, unfortunately you can't change your pokémon from BR iteself but you can change them in your DS game then recopy them easily enough since it only takes a couple minutes and copies all the pokémon both in your party and your PC boxes). Then I made a trainer. Which was rather disapointing. There's supposed to be a lot of customization options but you need to buy them with points you win so you have to start out with one of several generic trainers. Anyway, I spent most of the time typing in custom phrases for my trainer to say in battle (which takes a while without a keyboard) then did a few easy rounds in one of the first Coliseums. And that was all I had time for. I'll talk more later once I've had time to put in a few hours.
Anyway, BR probably isn't for everyone. If you want to battle random people online or are dying to see your pokémon in 3D you might want to take a look. Plus it's not a bad deal if you want a whole bunch of good AI trainers to fight or need to get your hands on Electvire and Magmorter (a pain to get in the main game), a legit surfing Pikachu, and some spare items. Still, unless some of those things seriously interest you of you're a major Pokémon fan, $50 is a little steep for what you get.


6/25/2007 I hate the battle tower

Friday's bonus comic is there for everyone to see (well everyone who votes anyway) and there's a new ROM. Plus I added several new comics to the Links page. I've been reading most of them for quite some time but just kept forgetting to add them but a couple I only discovered recently. So if you're looking for something new to read check out the links page and see what sounds interesting, I highly recommend everything there (wouldn't read them myself if I didn't like them).

I finally completed my Nationaldex in Pokémon Diamond. Yep, all 490. And it's not just the dex entries. I actually have all 490 stored in my boxes, unevolved forms and everything, plus all 28 unowns, all three types of burmy, all three types of wormadon, both types of shellos and gastradon, and all four types of Deoxys (not to mention my shiny pokémon). Still need Darkrai, Shaymin, and Arceus but there haven't been any official giveaways yet so right now there's no way to get official ones. So, since that's done and my battle team is done I'm really just trying to get some trainer card upgrades. Already got the one for beating the Elite 4 and the one for completing the Nationaldex so that leaves winning all the contests (I'll do that before too long, just need to sit down and make a contest team), capturing 50 flags in the underground (which I can't do right now since none of my friends who own the game live anywhere near here), and getting a 100 win streak in the Battle Tower. Now the battle tower is something I can kinda do while I'm working on other stuff (I've fought so many pokémon battles that I could do it in my sleep) so I've been trying, and trying, and trying... Now I have a solid battle team (although admitedly, it was made with human opponents in mind, not battle tower guys) but every time I get a half decent streak going I lose because of bad luck. On one hand, at least it's not like the Ruby/Sapphire battle tower where every other pokémon did nothing but spam one hit KO moves and AI was non-existant. In Diamond/Pearl the enemies are smart enough to use the most effective moves they have and even employee some combos and strategies. Now that's not the thing I have a problem with, I'm all for smarther enemies, makes things more interesting. What I don't like is enemies that cheat and the battle tower cheats, a lot. For starters, someone who hacked the game discovered the at least a lot of the battle tower pokémon have max EVs in all their stats (if you don't know, EVs are an invisible stat that help determin a pokémon's max stats (it's a lot more complicated than that but I don't want to type out a whole explantion so if you want to know more do a little research online)) which is impossible for regular non-hacked pokémon. So basically all the guys you're fighting have unnatural ATK, SATK, DEF, SDEF, and SPD. Somtimes it's not all that noticable, other times it's a huge pain. Then there's the luck factor. There's lots of things in a pokémon battle that involve luck (whether or not attacks hit, critical hits, and how often some hold items activate) and the battle tower likes to tweak those things to its advantage (the more battles you win the worse it gets) so it's in no way unusual to see enemies getting multiple critical hits in a row, repeatedly hitting with unaccurate moves, repeatedly avoiding your attacks (even ones with 100% accuracy), getting saved several times in a row by a Focus Band (while I've yet to see mine do anything), and the like. So yeah, I must have done at least 10 seperate attempts at the Battle Tower so far (probably more) and have yet to get anywhere near 100 wins. Well, maybe I'll have more luck in Double Battles or Team Battles... Or maybe I should just look online, find a team made specifically for the battle tower, and give that a try.

See you wednesday!


6/22/2007 Site Tweaks

The new bonus comic is up! Unfortunately, due to some unforseen circumstances Shauni was unable to finish a new ROM comic in time for today.

So, I was planning on updating the Links page today but I ended up doing some site maintenence instead. Hopefully it's nothing you guys will notice (cause if you do notice that means something went wrong), just organization stuff to make things easier for me. But, if you see any broken images please let me know. In the meantime, I did add a new site to the Link Exchange. The rest of the new links will come next week.

See you monday!


6/20/2007 Not in the mood

There's a new ROM today.

I'm just not in the mood to write much of anything right now. Well, I wasn't really in the mood to start with so I decided to check my Pebble Version e-mail... And saw that I had over 1600 messages (and that was in about half a day's time). Now I know I asked you guys to e-mail me about PV merchandise and I get fan mail and all that but it looked liked around 99% of that was either spam or bounced mail from spam that tried to spoof my e-mail address. I manged to create some e-mail filters that got rid of about 75% of it but that still left a heck of a lot of junk for me to go through and delete manually. Ugh... I've never gotten that much spam in such a short time before. Fortunately, my other e-mail accounts pretty much remain spam free but that's partly because I make sure they don't get out. Can't really do that with my PV e-mail though. Ugh, between this new flood of spam e-mails and all the spam bots that keep trying to make accounts on the forums (which now require me and the other mods to personally activate every new account, which stops the bots from spamming the forums but doesn't stop them from making user accounts) it's becoming a huge pain. To all the spammers out there... GET A LIFE! You're wasting people's time, productivity, and a whole lot of bandwidth trying to sell stuff that no one in their right mind would buy. I mean seriously, get a real job. And hope no one finds out what you really do cause I'm sure that quite a lot of people would love to beat up a spammer. Also, to anyone out there who actually buys stuff from spam... HOW STUPID CAN YOU GET? I mean really, aside from the fact that most of that stuff is either fake or doesn't work and you'll probably get majorly ripped off, you're supporting spammers which in turn gives them a reason to keep spamming.

So yeah, if you e-mailed my over the last day or two there's a chance I accidently deleted it while trying to get rid of all that spam so you should probably resend it. Please put Pebble Version or ROM in the subject and whatever you do don't put the word Spam in the subject. It'll help my filters seperate the real e-mails from the junk. Ugh... I. Hate. Spam. Enough said.


6/18/2007 600 strips and still going

This is a great time to vote and see friday's bonus comic, or even to donate to Pebble Version (see donation info below this news post). Also, if you didn't read friday's news post, please do so and send me your thoughts on PV merchandise.

So, today marks the 600th Pebble Version strip. That's a lot of comics... And, at the speed the story is progessing, it'll probably be at least three times that before Brendan and May actually finish their adventures in Hoenn. Then again, the pacing might speed up a bit, or it might not. We'll just see what happens. Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed the first 600 strips and I hope you'll enjoy the next 600 just as much. I usually save the "big speeches" for the anniversaries so that's really all I have to say about reaching 600 strips. Following tradition, every 100 strips the comic focuses on some characters besides Brendan and May for a few strips. This time, instead of checking in on the Black Suit Guys (although they'll be back before too long) or one of the groups of mystery characters, I decided it was time to see how Xain and Cali were doing. So enjoy! (On a side note, I'd be surprised if at least a few of you didn't guess that this would happen to them.)

I mentioned a couple weeks back that Illumitoon had redone the first Bobobo DVD and was offering a replacement program. While the first DVD had unedited episodes and both the original Japanese and awesome English dubs, it also had lots of problems, some minor and some pretty significant. I mean, they actually got so many complaints that they redid the DVD and replaced the old ones for free, that's saying something. Although I have to say, the fact that they did redo and offer free replacements is pretty great of them.
Anyway, I got my replacement DVD recently so I thought I'd comment on the improvements (you can see my review of the original DVD in the Old News). First off, they ditched the unskippable intro movie that used to play before the menu loaded. Now that movie was essentually a trailer for the show and not a bad one at that (although it seems a little pointless to advertise a show that you already bought the DVD of), but the unskippable part was pretty annoying after you saw it once or twice. In my opinion having anything unskippable at the beginning of a DVD (except for the FBI warning) is a bad idea. On top of that, the menus have been improved (although the audio options screen tended to act a little weird when I changed the settings, the changes worked but the menu was still kinda screwy). They also changed it so the video during the ending song isn't squashed anymore and they added versions of the opening and ending with the original Japanese text as extras.
Now, the biggest problem with the old DVD by far was the subtitles. Fortunately, they've improved significantly. First off, there's actually a proper Japanese translation this time around (the old subtitles were just the English closed captioning track). As much as I love the English dub (I think I like it better than the Japanese), it is pretty heavy localized so it's nice to be able to watch both versions. Overall, it's a decent translation. It could be a little better but there's nothing really wrong it so I can't complain. Plus, this time around the subtitles usually stay on the screen long enough for you to read them (Note: usually). The subtitles are also centered now, which makes them easier to read. Unfortunately, there's still a few problems. At a few points they can't seem to decide if they want the have the subtitles on the bottom or top of the screen, which is annoying. Plus their choice of font (well, not such much the font itself as the colot and size of the text) occasionally make it kinda hard to read against the background. Also, for some reason they decided to subtitle the sound effects (maybe their subtitler used to do closed captioning or something), which is a little annoying, and at times it's hard to tell who is saying which line. And, as one last minor annoyance, there's no subtitles for the opening or ending themes (well, actually there are but only if you watch them in the Extras section, not during the actual episodes). Still, in the end all of those problems aren't all that hard to ignore (not that they shouldn't be fixed though) but that still leaves one major problem with the subtitles, the timing. Often the subtitles don't quite sync up with the dialogue. Most of the time it's really minor (they just appear a fraction of a second early or late) so it's not that bad (though not good either). However, occasionally it will be a whole second or two off *cough*episode 2*cough* which can really make it hard to tell who is talking and what's going on (especially in such a fast moving and random show). Didn't anyone check the timing before the shipped it?
So, overall the new version of Bobobo disc 1 is a huge improvement over the old one but there's still a lot of things that Illumitoon needs to work on before they're on the same level as, well, nearly any other company that releases anime DVDs in the US. At very least they need to clean up the subtitles a bit more. Plus, while they're at it, I'd recommend firing their screener (if they even have one), any screener who can't tell if the subtitles are in sync with the audio or not isn't doing his job. And hey, if they want to go all the way I'd recommend getting a new graphic designer too. I mean the Bobobo DVD case looks really amaturish. Any half decent graphic designer (professional or not) could make something better looking than that. Personally, I'm betting they tried to save some money by not hiring a real graphic designer and just gave one of their employees a copy of Photoshop to play with.... I mean, I suppose it's ok for an amature design but it's just not good for a product that going to be sitting on store shelves along with a whole bunch of other DVDs. Ok, ok, enough about the cover... It's just that, being a semi professional graphic designer myself (my internship was as a graphic designer plus I do this comic and do a bunch of graphic images for websites and even some product lables) it's kinda hard not to notice.

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


6/15/2007 Important Question

The new bonus comic is up, just vote to see it! And there's a new ROM too.

Ok, time for some important questions. We've been discussing this on the forums for a few days (feel free to join the discussion there if you'd like) and now it's time to pose the question to all of you. Would you be interested in buying some Pebble Version and/or ROM related stuff? T-shirts would probably come first although mouse pads and stuff like that would also be possible.
Now you're probably wondering what would be on those shirts. Well, Nintendo owns the rights to Brendan, May, and Pokémon stuff in general so I'd need their permission to sell stuff with any of that on it (which I currently don't have, maybe someday though). However, there are plenty of other things. Shirts would probably include a character (or characters), a qoute, and the new PV Logo (the one on the linking banners) Xain and Cali could be on shirts and lots of people on the forums want a shirt with the Grass Kid, there's some other ideas floating around too. You can find all the current suggestions in this forum thread.
As for ROM shirts, there's some suggestions in that same thread and Shauni is currently coming up with some potential designs.
So, are you interested? E-mail me with your thoughts. If I get a positive response Shauni and I may give it a test run and see what happens.

And that's all for now! Tune in monday for the 600th strip!


6/13/2007 A few fixes

There's a new ROM today.

I updated the Links and Link Exchange pages. Basically I went through, updated the links to sites that have moved, and deleted the links to sites that no longer exist. Actually, there still might be one dead link in there but it was working not too long ago so I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and see if it goes back up soon. I did leave links to sites that are no longer updating but still work. Even if there aren't any new strips you can still read the archives and who knows, some of them might start updating again, it's happened before. There's also some new stuff I'd like to add to the Links page but that'll have to wait a little while.


6/11/2007 Almost 600...

<Insert usual reminder to vote and see Friday's bonus comic here.> So, one more week until strip 600. And Brendan and May still haven't reached the third gym... Oh well, they'll get their eventually.
Hmm... Been a while since I plugg donations hasn't it? So, got a couple dollars to spare? If so why not donate to Pebble Version? You can find the full info below this news post but in a nutshell you can donate by Paypal (there's a button to the left and below with the donation info) or mail cash, checks, or money orders (contact me for more info if you'd like to mail a donation). Your donations help support Pebble Version by paying for hosting fees and the like plus donations lead to really cool stuff. See the donationg uage below? If it reaches at least $25 in any given month I'll write a new chapter of ROM The Novel and write commentary on 20 old strips. If the guage reaches at least $50 you get that stuff plus PV will update 5 times a week for an entire month! If it reaches $75 then you also get a new full page Zelda Comic. At $100 you get all that previously mentioned stuff and a special mystery bonus.
Even if the doantion guage doesn't get high enough to get any of that stuff, your donation won't go to waste. For every $50 worth of donations received (no matter how many months it takes) you get a new issue of Josiah's Sprite Comic Guide. And, once all the guides are done, I have a pretty cool new donation incentive planned...

If anyone out there with Pokémon Diamond/Pearl wants to trade with me, I'm looking for Magmotar, Electivire, and Manaphy. I don't care about the gender, level, or nature but they have to be legit, I don't want any hacked pokémon. If you're interested, e-mail me with which pokémon you have, your friend code, and what you'd like in return. For trade, I'll offer any of the first 386 pokémon (including Mew, Celebi, and Deoxys, but no Diamond/Pearl stuff). They're all legit. Plus I've got a few shinies (Nidoran Male, Nidorhino, and Loudred), tons of items (inclduing Master Balls, PP Maxs, and Rare Candies), and I can even trade pokémon with pokérus.

See you wednesday!


6/8/2007 This and that and what ever else

As usual, there's a new bonus comic up.

So, not a whole lot to say right now. Still playing Pokémon Diamond. I finished all the post Elite 4 stuff ages ago but I'm not quite done filling my pokédex yet and I still need some trainer card upgrades. Playing Zelda Twilight Princess too, although I'm not that far yet (middle of the third dungeon) since I've been keeping busy with some graphic and web design work and various other stuff. Keep meaning to do some serious Guild Wars playing but it seems there's always something else to do, I'm sure I'll get to it soon though.

Other than that... I got the box set of the second season of DBZ to watch while I work on stuff. Like the first season set, Funimation did a really good job with it (improved video, sound, dual language, Japanese and US background music), as long as you're not one of the handful of people who goes into histerics when they hear that Funimation decided to redo the show in wide screen mode for some reason. I also picked up part 2 of the Prima Pokémon D/P guide. It basically includes all the stuff that was left out of part 1 including a complete pokédex, walkthroughs for the post Elite 4 stuff, complete move and item lists, full info on how to obtain all the pokémon, etc. It's actually pretty nice, although it would have been even nicer if they included it in the first guide instead of making everyone wait a month and pay another $20. Nintendo did the exact same thing with their guide. Speaking of which, their pokédex guide came out the same time as Prima's and costs about the same. While part 1 of the Nintendo and Prima guides were pretty much equivalent (it was just a matter of personal preference), I think Prima's pokédex guide is the better of the two. At very least it seems to have a decent amount of info that Nintendo's doesn't (nothing extremely important but it's still nice to have).

Have a good weekend!


6/6/2007 Objection!

Unfortunately, there's no new ROM today but there is a new rant and monday's ROM accidently didn't end up on the main page (though it is in the archives) but it's up now if you missed it. Now for a review...

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a game for the Nintendo DS that has you investigating crimes and interrogating witnesses on the stand. It's actually a remake of a Gameboy Advance game that was never released in the US.
Graphics: Being a graphic adventure game, Phoenix Wright looks really good. Just keep in mind that you'll be looking at a lot of nice static backgrounds and some very nice (but only partially animated) characters. It's great looking stuff, just don't expect a lot of movement or fancy effects. Plus keep in mind that you'll be revisiting some areas quite a lot of times.
Sound: This game is just screaming for some good voice acting. Unfortunately, I doubt DS cartidges can hold anywhere near enough to do that. Anyway, the sound effects are fine and the music is nice, which is good since you'll be hearing them over and over again. A little more diversity would be nice but it works as is.
Story: Phoenix Wright is just starting his career as a defense attorney. Although he's lacking in experience, with the help of his mentor Mia Fey he quickly develops quite a knack for spotting the contradictions in people's testimonies. There are five seperate cases, each with its own story and resolution although they all go in order and feature a recurring cast of characters. The characters are entertaining and well developed and the cases are interesting and engaging. Add a whole lot of sharp and often humorous dialogue, and you've got a great story. And, considering that the game is practically an interactive novel, that's a really good thing. One thing to keep in mind, although the game is set in the US, it was originally set in Japan so the court system has more in common with Japan's than the US (although it also takes place in the future after some changes have taken place so it's not too much of a stretch either way).
Gameplay: There are five cases which you'll be playing through in order. With the exception of the first case, which is tutorial of sorts and is comprised of only one day in court, the cases span 2-3 days (well technically 3-4 but the trials themselves can't last more than three days) with all the days divided into two halfs.
First off you spend some time investigating. This involves visiting crime scene and other related areas, looking around carefully for clues, and talking to the people involved. Although you control where you go and what you say, the game is pretty linear and won't acvance until you'll trigger the current requirement be it saying the right thing to someone, finding a certain item, or showing someone that item. While this can be a little annoying ig you get stuck, it's usually not that hard to advnace if you make sure to explore thuroughly and talk to everyone. Plus the game often drops hints to help you figure out what to do next. The nice thing about this is that you literally can't miss anything important so you don't have to worry about completely missing something critical and dooming your game.
After you're done investigating it's time for the trial. During the trial you'll cross-examine various witnesses, using your wits, interrogation skills, and the information and evidence you've gathered to find the contradictions in the witnesses's testimony. The goal of this varies but you might be trying to discredit a witness, show that there's another possible way the murder could have happened (yes, you're defending people from murder charges), or possibly even trying to show the witness is the real criminal. Some of the witness's statements are easy to pick apart, others require careful thought as you try and figure out which of their statements you should object to and what evidence you should use to disprove them. Once again, it's rather linear and the game does drop hints occasionally but it can still be tricky. Still, tricky or not, you can get a lot of satisfaction from seeing a previously smug witness break down after you pick apart their testimony. Of course, while you're doing this the prosecutor will be doing everything he can to get in your way and through a wrench in things just when you thought you had the case won. Plus you need to be carefull. If you make baseless accusations or present the wrong evidence you might be penalized and if you get too many penalties you'll lose the case.
The game can be controlled with either the buttons and d-pad, the touchpad, or any combination of the two both work well so you can play around and pick whichever you like better (or even switch back and forth depending on what you're doing at the time). The only exception is the 5th case which introduces a bunch of touch screen only stuff. In general, the top screen shows the characters and dialogue while the bottom screen is used to show touch screen controls, investigate areas, and display your collection of evidence. Each case is divided into chapters (except the first case since it's really short) and you're prompted to save after each one. The chapters are nice since the longer cases can take hours to go through your first time (they also served as continue points if you lose without have saved) but you can also save at nearly any time (good since some of the chapters are kinda long plus you can save in case you're in danger of losing a trial so you don't have to replay the whole chapter).
Overall: If you only like fast paced games or dislike lots of reading, Phoenix Wright isn't for you. However, if the thought of a text heavy game with a great story and memorable characters excites you, PW is worth getting. Although the replay value is more or less the same as a novel (the game is really linear), like a good novel you're sure to get absorbed into this excellent interactive tale of murder, investigation, and truth and justice for all.


6/4/2007 Reviewers vs Critics

Pebble Version isn't off to a bad start on Top Web Comics this month so let's all vote and keep it up! Besides, you get to see friday's bonus comic. And, of course, don't forget to check out the new ROM comic.

You know, some people don't really understand the difference between reviewers and critics. Not that there isn't some overlap (plus some reviewers and critics don't even seem to grasp the difference) but they're really two very different approaches. The basic goal of either group is to inform their readers/listeners about something be it a a movie, game, home appliance, or whatever. It's the way they go about it that's the key difference. A true reviewer tries to take a fairly neutral position. He typically talks a little about the thing he's reviewing (relavant history, competing stuff, etc) then goes over the good points and the bad points and all other parts, features, etc that are important for the type of thing beind reviewed. Finally he gives an opinion based on the previously listed things and possibly his personal experience on who, if anyone, would be interested in the thing being reviewed and whether they should get it instead of competing products. Also, it's important to note that while reviewers often inject their own preferences into their reviews they generally point out that people with different interests/perferences may like or dislike the thing in question more.
Then there's critics. Critics tend to take an elitest approach. They tend to think that their opinions are definitive and everyone should agree with them. Those that don't aren't smart enough or refined enough to understand the critic's brilliance. This rather egotistical take on things leads to critics being overally, well, crtical. They tend to pick apart everything, making a big deal out of everthing that they consider a problem (whether it is one or not). As such, they only like the very best stuff (although their opinion of what constitutes the very best may not match up with the average person) and consider everything else a waste of time. They also tend to disregard the fact that people with different likes/dislikes may not agree with their opinions.
Not I'm not saying all reviews and all critics are like this but, in my experience, this seems to hold true most of the time. Personally, I'm not a fan of critics. They're just too picky and don't get that just because they didn't like something doesn't mean that other people won't like it. Just to point out a couple of examples... First odd, did anyone see the Simpsons episode where Homer became a food critic for the local newspaper (ok so this example is fictional but it sums up the whole critic mindset rather nicely)? Of course, Homer loves food and starts off be giving all the restaurtants his visits great reviews because he really enjoyed them. But then all the other critics show up and get on him, pointing out that, as a critic, he shouldn't be giving out so many positive ratings. Now for a real example. There was a new movie out that I wanted to see and I ended up reading some reviews online, one of which was by a rather famous movie critic. He started out by saying how great the movie's director was but then stated that it wasn't one of the director's better movies. Switching gears again, he said that even bad movies by said director were better than most movies from other directors. In the end he gave the moving a B rating (using the whole F - A scale) but then said that no one should bother to go see it. There's that 'everything but the very best is a waste of time' attitude. Here we have a movie that is supposed to be better than most of the movies out there (even if it's not the best one the director has ever made, which is naturally debatable) but the critic is saying that since it isn't the very best movie there's no reason to watch it no matter how good, enjoyable, etc, it is. How stupid is that? If everyone took that attitude we sure wouldn't watch many movies.
Despite my general dislike of the ciritic mindset, I suppose there is room out there for both reviewers and critics. The problem is that critics elitest attitude has led some people to think of them as really being elite and that they're on a much higher level than an ordinary reviewer. Which has caused some reviews to try and take a more critic like approaching to reviewing, which, in my opinion, is a very bad thing.

And that's all I have to say on that subject. See you wednesday!


6/1/2007 Here it is

The new bonus comic is up and, since it's a new month, and all, please vote so Pebble Version gets off to a good start on Top Web Comics. There's also a new ROM comic. Plus the promised ROM The Novel chapter is done! I also edited the previous chapters a little while I was at it.

So, I have jury duty on monday (uh, yay). Of course, there's a chance that the trial will be settled before that. I've got no idea what kind of trial it is although I doubt it'll be anything interesting if I do end up having to sit through it. Never know though. I'll probably post something about it later on (assuming that I'm allowed to).

See you monday!


5/30/2007 Sorry

There's a new ROM comic today. I really wanted to have the new ROM The Novel chapter done today, unfortunatley I was only able to finish writing about half of it so it'll be up on friday. Sorry about that.

See you then!


5/28/2007 Movies and anime

If you didn't see friday's news post, Josiah's Sprite Comic Guide Part 5: Script Writing 101 is up. Also, Top Web Comics was down for a large part of the weekend so there was no new bonus comic on friday. But it is up now so hurry and vote if you want to see it.

I saw Shrek 3 yesterday. In a nutshell, after the death of Fiona's father, Shrek, Donkey, and Puss head off to find Arthur, the new heir to the throne. However, he doesn't exactly want to be king. Meanwhile, Prince Charming recruits an army of fairytale villians to try and take over Far Far Away. On top of all that, Shrek and Fiona are preparing to become parents. Overall, I found the movie to be a little disapointing. I mean, it wasn't bad but it just wasn't as funny as the first two. There were a few really funny parts (like when Pinnocio tries to answer Charming's questions with lying) but for the most part it just took iteself too seriously (an easy thing to do when trying to smash a lot of potentially heavy themes like responsibility, parenthood, standing up for yourself, and choosing your own destiny into one movie). Oh well, I'll hopefully be seeing Pirates 3 later this week and I can't wait for that.

Meanwhile, I've been watching a bunch of anime too. First off, I should mention that if anyone bought volume 1 of any anime done by Illumitoon Entertainment a while back, they're running a DVD replacement program right now to replace the DVDs that lacked proper subtitles (see my review of the first Bobobo DVD on the Old New page, basically the subtitles matched the heavily localized English dub, not the original Japanese track). There's only a couple days left though so if you're gonna do it go here and do it ASAP. It's really awesome of them to do that although from what I've heard they didn't fix any of the other problems with the subtitles (they disapear too fast, they have subtitles for sound effects, occasional syncing problems between the subtitles and the video, and occasional lines get skipped). Oh well, at least this is a good first step. Still, considering how easy it is to get subtitles right (pretty much every other anime company does it), it's surprising and disapointing that an anime group with so many experienced people working there can screw them up so badly.

Recently I've been watching through several anime box sets I got. I first picked up some stuff when leaving Phoenix since I had a bunch of credit at Bookman's (a really awesome chain of used book, game, movie, and music stores in the Phoenix area) so I figured I might as well spend it all. I got Ninja Cadets (an ok 2 episode OAV that annoyingly ends right in the middle of things), Magic Knight Rayearth Season 1 (a pretty straight up adaption of the manga), and Generator Gawl (a fairly good action comedy series that goes plot twist crazy towards the end). Then there was the last ADV sale when I picked up Angelic Layer (which I've been wanting to watch for a while) and the Slayers Movie set (Slayers is my favorite series but most of my DVDs are imports of varying quality so I'm upgrading. Now I just need Slayers Excellent to complete my set of official US movies and OAVs and then Funimation is going to be releasing remastered versions of the three Slayers TV series starting in July (which I'm really looking forward to).

Plus I've got some new stuff torrented too but that'll wait till after I finish Angelic Layer. You know, speaking of Slayers (which is an utterly awesome mix of fantasy, action, story, and comedy so everyone should buy the Funimation DVD sets when they're released), I really wish they'd do a fourth TV series. They were originally going to since the Slayers anime is based on a series of books (a few of which are out in the US; they were made into a manga too) in which the story continues past the end of the third anime series. Unfortunately, there were some scheduling problems that resulted in the project being delayed and eventually canceled. Considering how long it's been since then, a new series seems rather unlikely but they recently make a new OAV (albiet an extremely short one) as a special bonus for people in Japan who buy all three Slayers series on DVD so maybe, just maybe, they'll decide to make a new series. Well, I can certainly hope anyway.

Wow, that was a lot longer than I planned. Later!


5/25/2007 Sprite Comic Guide 5

There's a new ROM today! Unfortunately, Top Web Comics is down right now so I can't put up the new bonus comic. Hopefully monday. But I'm pleased to announce that Josiah's Sprite Comic Guide Part 5: Script Writing 101 is done! Now I just need to get that ROM the Novel chapter done to get caught up on bonus content.

And that's it for now. See you monday!


5/21/2007 Busy week

Please vote and see friday's bonus comic if you haven't already (if you have already done it, please do it again). Shauni is sorry for the lack of the promised ROM update today. She let me know that the comic is actually done but, due to computer problems, she can't seem to get the file to me so I can add it to the site. It would go up on wednesday except that I just realized that I can't update on wednesday (see the following paragraph). Sorry about that. Would have announced it earlier but I totally forgot.

As the title says, this is a really busy week for me. Since the whole family is home, my parents wanted to go on a little weekend hiking trip yesterday and today so right now I'm actually in a hotel up in the mountains (they don't like camping so we do mid length hikes every day and stay in a hotel). Then tomorrow I've got lunch with a friend (plus trying to get a bunch of work and job applications done since I won't have a ton of time later in the week), wednesday is Shavuot (a Jewish holiday), thursday I'm doing some computer work for a person I know, and then friday I have to clean the house, cook some stuff, and do whatever else I wasn't able to finish on tuesday and thursday. So yeah, I'll be busy.

Well, I'll see you all on friday. Sorry about having to skip a day.


5/18/2007 Pokémon Diamond/Pearl

There's a new bonus comic up so hurry and vote! Speaking of which, David, if you're reading this, I think you'll really like this week's bonus comic. No ROM today, Shauni said there should be one on monday instead. Now for that Pokémon review...

It's been many years since the first set of Pokémon games (Red/Blue) were released in the US. There have been numerous side games but the DS set, Diamond/Pearl, is only the fourth set of main series games (or fifth if you count Fire Red/Leaf Green, which were remakes of Red/Blue). Each new set, Red/Blue, Gold/Silver, and Ruby/Sapphire added new elements to the series but in the end, Pokémon still feels more or less the same, not that that's a bad thing.
Graphics: Pokémon Diamond/Pearl are the first of the main games (as in, not counting the N64 or Gamecube spin offs) to use 3D graphics. Although the vast majority of the game is still sprited, some of the environments are 3D, although it doesn't make much of a difference in the appearance. The 3D is mainly used to add depth or height to certain areas or make some nifty looking multi-level areas (some of the gyms in particular make good use of it). 3D aside, the sprites have gotten a bit of an upgrade as well, although it's not a huge change. Still the sprites look good, though pretty similiar to the GBA Pokémon games, which makes sense since some of them were actually taken directly from said GBA games.
Sounds: The music is really nice. There's some familiar tunes and some new ones too but they're all catchy and, thanks to the DS's vastly superior sound system, sound really good. Most of the sound effects are pretty familiar but have been improved a bit and they all sound great...except for the Pokémon voices. The voices for the new pokémon aren't that bad (although they still sound nothing like they should, ideally they'd probably sound something like they do in the anime) but the voices for all the old pokémon were pulled straight from the old games. So, in other words, old pokémon, geodude for example, sound exactly like they did on the original Gameboy. Really, would it kill them to record some new ones? Maybe even grab some sound clips from the anime and use those?
Story: The story is the typically Pokémon plot, this time set in the Sinnoh region. You are a boy or a girl who lives in a small town along with your hyper active childhood friend, who later becomes your rival. While exploring a nearby lake, you and your rival end up using some of Professor Rowan's pokémon to defend yourself. He later gives you the pokémon you used and sends to off to fill up the newest model pokédex. Naturally this involves traveling around a lot, challenging 8 gym leaders, and eventually the Elite 4. Along the way you'll also have to fight off Team Galactic, an evil group that had plans to use an ancient legendary pokémon for evil, etc... It works fine but there's no real twists or surprises either.
Gameplay: Surprise, surprise, Pokémon D/P plays pretty much just like all the other main Pokémon games. Pokémon can be a single type or a combination of types, each type has strengths and weaknesses, pokémon level up, evolve, can know up to four moves at once, each have some sort of ability, etc, etc, etc... Chances are, if you're reading Pebble Version you're at least somewhat familiar with the basic mechanics of the series so I'm not going to explain the whole thing here, just what's new. And, mechanicwise, there isn't much new. There's a bunch of new pokémon, upping the total number to 493, some new attacks, new abilities, new hold items, and some new ways to evolve pokémon, but nothing major (although, if you're really into the mechanics of the battle system you'll notice that now individual moves are classified as normal or special instead of just types).
No big changes to your main quest (collect 8 gym badges, beat the evil team, beat the Elite 4). There's some new HMs and Flash has been demoted to a TM but other than that you and your running shoes and bike travel around the map just like in the past games. You can also surf, fish, and plant berries. The week and day/night cycles from Gold and Silver are back (which is nice) so you can catch different pokémon at different times of the day and special things will happen on different days of the week. You can now slather certain trees with honey to lure out pokémon (although it takes a good half a day of real time before they appear).
Aside from the main quest, contests are back, although there's been some changes in how they work, and pokéblocks have been replace by poffins, which really aren't much different. You can also spend a lot of time in the Sinnoh Underground, building a secret base, digging up fossiles, and playing capture the flag with friends over a local wireless conntection.
So what does the DS itself add to the mix? Well, you can control a lot of things in the game with the stylus (but not all of them) and the stylus is used to make poffins and compete in contests. Plus, the second screen is used to display the pokétech, a nifty watch that you collect a variety of different programs for throughout the game. Some are really useful (like the one that tracks where ripe berries are and the item finder), others are just for fun (like the drawing program). Then there's the online stuff. With a local wirless connection you can make poffins together, play in underground, battle, trade, and do some other stuff. Over Wi-Fi you can battle and trade with people around the globe, both friends and random. There's room to store lots of friend codes too, which is really nice. Another nifty touch is that in battles with certain level requirements (say a level 50 only battle) your pokémon will automatically be leveled up or down to the correct level just for the battle (although they won't evolve, gain EV points, or learn new moves) but it helps keep things on a more even playing fiend and saves you from having to do so much leveling (or keep seperate battles teams for level 50 and level 100 fights).
As a final note, there's also tons of stuff to do after beating the Elite 4 including lots of new areas to explore, the full National Dex to fill out, and the ability to import pokémon from R/S/E and FR/LG.
Overall: Pokémon Diamond/Pearl is the best set of games so far, surpassing even my previous favorites Gold/Silver. Although the number of pokémon required to 'catch 'em all' is getting rather ridiculous, the basic forumula still doesn't get old and with a huge world, the return of day/night and weekly cycles, and tons of optional stuff to do, it'll be a long time before you've seen everything the games have to offer. Plus the inclusion of online play is great (although allowing players to play some of the local wireless stuff over Wi-Fi would have been nice) and the ability to bring in pokémon from the previous games (something the GBA games were sorely lacking) is awesome, despite the slightly annoying regulations that go along with it.
If you're not a Pokémon fan D/P probably won't change your mind, but for everyone who has ever enjoyed Pokémon, D/P offer a deep, lengthy, and totally enjoyable adventure.


5/16/2007 Updates

There's a new ROM today. The rest of the bonus content isn't done yet but I did update the Cast page with new characters.

I was planning to have that Pokémon review up today but stuff happened and it didn't get done so look for it on friday. Unfortunately, thanks to said stuff I don't really have time to write any more here either.



5/14/2007 Uh..........................

If you didn't see the announcement on friday, the commentary for strips 61-80 is done (you can see it in the archives). Now I just need to finish the next Sprite Comic Guide and ROM the Novel chapter... And, of course, Friday's bonus comic is just waiting for people to vote and check it out. Unfortunately, I haven't heard from Shauni at all for the last few days so there's no new ROM. I'm guessing her new internet service isn't working out quite as well as she hoped...

The Pokémon Diamond/Pearl review will be done later this week. In the mean time, now that I'm back in CO I've been messing around with the online stuff a little. Unfortunately, some of the cooler multiplayer stuff like capture the flag battles in the Sinnoh Underground and group poffin mixing are only playable over a local wireless connection. Wouldn't be much of a problem if I were back at UAT since there'd be plenty of people I know with a copy of the game. Unfortunately, most of my friends in CO aren't very serious gamers so I guess I'll have to stick with the things I can do over Wi-Fi like trading and battling my friends and competing in the global Battle Tower (actually I haven't started that yet, I want to finish up my current normal Battle Tower run first, trying to get a 100 win streak). There's also the global trading system where you drop off a pokémon, enter what you want in exchange for it, and wait for someone to accept your offer. It's a convenient way to trade things, as long as your requests are reasonable. Speaking of playing online... Steven, if you're reading this, you need to send me your friend code.

Oh, looks like I forgot to mention that I saw Spiderman 3. Overall, it was pretty good. Out of the three Spiderman movies, 3 has the best battles. I mean, you've got Spiderman, Sandman, Green Goblin 2, and Venom all fighting at the same time, how cool is that? Spiderman 2 had better character development though, all 3 isn't bad in that regard either. There's a lot crammed into the movie, first you have Harry trying to get his revenge on Peter (Spiderman) who is having some problems of his own with MJ. Then things start really going down hill for Spidy as his Uncle's real killer becomes Sandman and an upstart photographer tries to take Peter's place at the paper. Then Peter's Spiderman suit gets infested by a black ooze from space that seriously screws up his personality. Said ooze eventually leads to Venom as things gear up for the big climax which does a good job of wrapping up the entire trilogy. It's even better if you get to see it on an IMAX like I did.

Well, I should get some work done on next week's strips. Later!


5/11/2007 Done traveling, for the moment

It's friday and you know what that means, there's a new bonus comic for everyone who votes for Pebble Version on TWC. There's also a new ROM comic. Finally, the commentary on strips 61-80 is complete! You can check it out in the archives.

I made it back to CO. No idea how long I'll be staying here though. Might be a while, might not (you can read more about that in wednesday's post). I don't have a lot of time to talk right now but I will say that I beat the Elite 4 in Pokémon Diamond (review coming sometime next week) and started on the end game stuff (and there's a ton of it). I'm looking forward to finally getting online now that I have a good network. Too bad the TV here is a little screwy, but that's a different matter entirely.

See you monday!


5/9/2007 Heading back home

Nothing much to say today. I'll be flying back to AZ later today but I won't be staying long since tomorrow I'll be driving back home to CO. And this time it's not just for another two week break between semesters. I'll be there until I get a job. No idea how long that will take. I'm guessing anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months. I could have spent more time sending in applications before graduating but with finals and everything it would have been a pain. Plus, considering that my longest break for the last 3 1/2 or 4 years was 2 1/2 weeks, I wouldn't mind a bit of a break for a little while. It's not like I won't be doing anything though. I got a collection of part time and commision work to. Chances are I'll be a little busy but not too busy so I can relax a bit while still making some money and looking for a full time job.

That's about all I have to say right now except that I've been working on this month's bonus content a bit so some of it should be done pretty soon.


5/7/2007 I'm supposed to say something?

Friday's bonus comic is sitting there waiting for everyone who votes and there's a new ROM up.

On the Pebble Version forums we've been battling spam bots for quite a while now but lately there's been so many that I was finally forced to take drastic measures and require admin activation of all new user accounts before they can post. I hated to do it but there didn't seem to be any other way to keep all the drug and porn spam off the forums. So, if you sign up for the forums it may take anywhere from a couple hours to a day or two for your account to be activated, sorry. Blame the ******* spam bot programmers. Also, to help ensure that your account gets activated, please add some personal info to your profile when you sign up (avatar, signature, etc) so we can make sure that your account is legit and not just another spam bot with a blank profile. Accounts with blank profiles probably won't be activated. Finally, if you really want to make things easy, send me an e-mail with the name of your new account and a couple sentences about yourself. That's the best wasy to ensure that your account is activated as quickly as possible.

And that's really all I have to say for now. Just not in a very talkitive mood today. See you wednesday!


5/4/2007 Pokémon D/P, the game continues...

There's a new Blooper Reel bonus comic up so click on the TWC button or banner and confirm your vote to see it. Don't forget to check out the new ROM either. BTW, I might have some of that bonus content (commentary, ROM the Novel chapter, and Sprite Comic Guide) done sooner than I thought so keep an eye out for it. I plan to update a couple other things on the site that are a little out of date as well...

If anyone wants to see, here's a picture from my graduation ceremony.

I still have a long way to go in Pokémon Diamond (just got my fifth gym badge, current pokédex is 100 seen, 70 owned) but I'm still making progress so here's some more thoughts. Fishing is easier than in R/S, you still have to push the A button at the right time to catch the pokémon but at least you only have to push it once, not several times per fish. Pokéblocks are gone but there's Poffins, which are practically the same thing (except that their cookies this time around), you make them out of berries and feed them to your pokémon to boost their condition so they'll do better in contests. Instead of blender, you've got a mixing bowl this time around and you have to use the stylus to stir the batter in the correct direction (which keeps changing). Stir too slow and it burns, stir too fast and it'll overflow. Like the blender, you can do it with multiple people at the same time. Seems easier than the blender to me, with only a couple of tries I was able to consistantly mix poffins without any burns or spills. Actually, the game itself seems a touch easier, I haven't lost a battle yet. Then again, I'm not sure if I ever lost in Fire Red either, could be I just have so much experience with the games by now that I keep my teams balanced and make sure I level them up enough to take on everything. There's no "Safari Zone" this time but there's the Pastoria Marsh which is basically the Safari Zone with a simplified layout, a tram to speed up traveling to different sections of it, and lots and lots of mud (which makes walking around a pain). At least you get unlimited bait this time around (in R/S you had to use your own pokéblocks). Fortunately, there aren't as many pokémon that can only be caught there as there were in previous games and even the rare ones seem to be a lot more common than in past Safari Zones. Although it was annoying, I managed to catch everything in a relatively short amount of time.

See you monday!


5/2/2007 Bonus content, traveling, and stuff

Since it's a new month please vote on Top Web Comics to give PV a good start this month. You should also know that there's a new ROM today.

Although PV didn't quite get $25 in donations last month (the guage stopped at $20), I think I'll just pretend it hit $25. So, later this month look forward to commentary on the next batch of old strips and a new chapter of ROM the Novel. Josiah's Sprite Comic Guide Part 5 is in the works as well. However, all that cool stuff might have to wait a week or two because of the next thing I need to mention.

So, before going back to my parents' place in CO (where I'll be staying while looking for a job), I'm going to the east coast to visit my grandparents for a week (I leave tomorrow, fly back to AZ next wednesday, and then drive to CO). As usual, I'll have my laptop (well, one of them) so updates shouldn't be interrupted (although they may be a little early or a little late), probably. I'm not really sure what my internet connection is going to be like while I'm at my grandparents' (they recently moved into a new place). Like I said, I should be able to update at least but I might not be able to get online much so I probably won't be on the forums as often as I'd like and it might take me a bit longer to reply to e-mails.



4/30/2007 Graduation

Keep in mind that you can vote and see friday's bonus comic. This is also your last day to get in any donations for April. There's no new ROM today either but I did hear from Shauni and, as I thought, she's having internet trouble. Fortunately, she's going to be getting much better inernet service soon and she says that ROM will return on wednesday.

Well, I did it, I graduated with a Bachelor of the Arts in Multimedia (with a focus on Game Design). The ceremony was nice, although most of my friends won't be graduating for a while yet so I was on my own for part of it until some people I knew showed up. It's finally starting to sink in that my time at UAT and even here AZ is over (chance I'll come back at some point for one of a few different reasons but that's pretty iffy). I have to say, I'm gonna miss it down here. Phoenix has its problems but there's some pretty cool stuff about living here as well and UAT is a great school, I'm actually going to miss my teachers and classes (not to mention my friends and the general atmosphere).

Other than that, some of my family members are here (they came for the graduation) so I've been doing stuff with them. However, that hasn't left me with a lot of time to work on PV stuff so I'm still behind on the strips. I don't think I'll miss any updates (despite being behind and some upcoming traveling) but I'll probably keep these news posts short and do some fairly simple strips until I get caught up again.


4/27/2007 More thoughts on Diamond & Pearl

There's a new bonus comic so please vote! Also, remember that there's only a few days left if you want to get in any donations this month. Not sure why there isn't a new ROM today. I know Shauni was planning one but I never get it and she hasn't been online for the last couple of days either. Maybe her internet died.

So, I've had time to play a lot more on my copy of Pokémon Diamond, although my friends on the forums, who had a couple of days head start, are still way a head of me. And now that some relatives have come down for my graduation I'll be doing things with them so they'll probably get even further ahead... Anyway, for those of you who are also playing, I have two gym badges and just got the Good Rod. Anyway, about the games themselves... I mentioned the graphics last time but I can go into more detail now. A lot of the game is still done with sprites, which look pretty similiar to those in Fire Red/Leaf Green. Some of the stuff (like the buildings) is done in 3D, it looks nice and there's some nifty effects here and there but overall it's not a huge graphical upgrade. It's nice to see the pokémon having more animation, although some of the sprites look liked they were pulled reused from the GBA games.
The music is really good and there's a lot of different tunes. The new pokémon cries sound decent, although they don't really sound like the pokémon's name. Unfortunately, the cries of all 386 of the old pokémon were pulled straight out of the old games (that's right, those crappy cries from the original R/B are still there). Really, would it be that hard for them to take a couple of days, hire some voice actors and record some high quality cries (or even pull them from the anime)? DS carts should have enough space for that.
There's a lot to do in the game. Aside from the main story, leveling, and catching everything, there's a new and completely redesigned set of contests, and the huge underground area where you can dig for usefull stuff and do lots of multiplayer things. Unfortunately, I haven't got to try any of the multiplyer or Wi-Fi stuff yet. Since school is out none of my friends are around with another cartridge and for Wi-Fi the internet at my brother's apartment isn't all that great so I can't get on. Maybe while I'm visiting my grandparents but chances are I'll have to wait till I get back to CO in like a week and a half.
The pokétech is useful, it fills the bottom screen while you're walking around and as you go through the game you can collect a lot of different programs for it. My favorites so far are the one that can find hidden items, and one that shows pokémon effection, and the one that shows where ripe berries are.
The story seems fairly typical so far, kid helps professor, gets first pokémon, goes off to beat the gyms, and ends up getting on the wrong side of an evil team trying to do something or other... I have to say, the new team seems to be rather lacking in the intelligence department. They have some funny dialogue though (although whether it was actually meant to be funny, I'm not sure).
Anyway, I'm liking it so far. Too early to say for sure but it's probably the best pokémon game yet. Although it's also very similiar to all the other main Pokémon games, a bit of variation in the story and presentation wouldn't hurt. But, repetitive or not, it's still a fun formula even after playing through all the other games.
Oh yeah, I caught pokérus! Well, my team did anyway. That's the first time I've had it happen (odds of one of your pokémon catching it are 2 in 65535). Fortunately, once one pokémon on your team has it, it spreads easily so I stuck several infected pokémon in my PC so they wouldn't get healed (it goes away after a day or two) and I can use them to infect more pokémon later. It is kinda odd though that after all the time I spent playing the various pokémon games I didn't catch pokérus until now (heck, I didn't even get my first shiny till Leaf Green). Well, I never was all that lucky when it comes to chance related stuff. Although I do tend to be more lucky in video games than in real games (my luck with cards and dice tends to be pretty bad).

Well, that's all for now. Graduation is saturday. I don't think it's really sunk in yet that I'm actually finished with college (well, there is a chance I'll go back for a masters or maybe a degree in Japanese if I have a lot of trouble finding a job). Anyway, see you monday!


4/25/2007 A very late review

As Shauni said on monday, there's no new ROM today. Remember, there's only a few days left to get in donations for this month. The guage is already at $20 so it wouldn't take too much to push it pretty high and get some cool stuff next month... Speaking of donation incentives, Josiah's Sprite Comic Guide Part 5 will be finished sometime over the next week or two so look forward to that. Now for that review of Final Fantasy XII.

Final Fantasy XII is the latest entry is Square-Enix's popular RPG series and the last one to appear on the PS2. It arrived after an extremely long gap between games (especially if you don't count Final Fantasy XI) and made a lot of changes to the traditional formula.
Graphics: No question about it, Final Fantasy XII looks great. It does away entirely with prerended environments. Everything is now in fully rotatable 3D. As a result, some of the areas don't have quite as much detail as in past games but they look good enough that you won't mind. And it's great to be able to rotate and fully explore the areas. The areas are large and expansive and the cities in particular are really impressive. Aside from the awesome architecture, there's a lot more NPCs this time around and they'll walk around, talk to others, and the like. It makes the cities look and feel much more alive than in just about any other game I've played. Finally, the FMVs are awesome as always.
Sound: The usual FF composer Naboo Uematsu did hardly any work on FFXII. Although the lack of Uematsu's work is disapointing, the music (done by one of the composers from FF Tactics) is still great. My only real complaint about the music is that there's a handful of themes that you hear a bit too often. Sounds effects are pretty much perfect. Voice acting is excellent and the voices perfectly fit the characters.
Story: The story is typically the best part of any FF game and is full of twists, turns, and dark secrets. While FFXII's plot is in no way bad, it doesn't quite stack up to many of the past FF games. In a nutshell, the Archadian Empire has been rapidly taking over, attacking every country in its way in eventual preperation to fight the opposin empire. The kingdom of Dalmasca was caught in the crossfire, so to speak, its king betrayed and murdered and his daughter missing and presumed dead. Two years later a street urchin named Vahn gets caught up in the midst of a tale of political intrigue, teaming up with the missing princess and several others as they try to find a way to stop the coming war. The basic plot is good, full of political intrigue and magical artifacts of immense power. Unfortunately, very little time is spent developing the characters. You do see them grow as the story progresses, which is nice, but their backstory is rather light and mostly devoid of interesting twists and surprises. Ashe and Balthier, for example, have some fairly interesting backstories but nowhere near enough time is spent developing them while on the other extreme Penelo has virtually no backstory at all.
Gameplay: In many ways FFXII's gameplay is similiar to past games. Characters still attack, use magic spells, items, and the like, gain EXP, level up, equip a variety of weapons, armor, and accessories, etc... So I'll focus on what's different. First off, the license board. A bit like X's sphere grid, the license is used to teach your characters stuff. As they win battles they gain both EXP (for leveling up) and AP which are used to learn spaces on the license board. You need licenses to do just about everything be it casting a spell or just equipping a new weapon or piece of armor. It's an interesting way to do things and allows for full customization of your characters. But, with all characters potentially able to learn every spell and ability and equip every piece of equipment, (and there's no paths or locks like the sphere grid has) there's virtually no reason to use any particular character instead of another, which has its pros but I'm not too fond of it.
There's no random encounters or transitions to battles. You see enemies wondering around in the area, they see you, they attack, you fight them, you keep walking, simple as that. Movement does factor into the battles a little and you have to watch in case some enemies happen to wander too close and join in your battle (although some enemies fill with each other) but mostly the battles play out a lot like past FF games. You choose something for your characters to do, a time guage fills up (how long it takes depends on what you're doing) and then it happens and you can choose another command. There are a couple of really big changes though. First off, like in FFX you can party members at any time, even during battle (provided they aren't being targeted by something) but unlike X, you can switch out KO'd characters and even swap out your entire active party if they get wiped out. The other big change is the gambit system. After you get a few hours into the game you'll be able to buy and set up gambits. If you want to, you can manually tell your characters what to do each time its their turn to act. Or you can set up gambits (simple AI priorities) and have them do it for you. For example, early on you may set one character's gambits so that 1: if any party members are KO'd they'll use a Phoenix Down on them; 2: if any party members are below 40% HP they'll cast Cure on them; 3: if none of those things need to be done they'll attack the nearest enemy. The further you get in the game the more complex your gambit set ups can get. The gambit system rewards good strategic planning. If you set your gambits correctly, you'll hardly ever need to take direct control of your characters during a battle. On one hand, that's kinda neat, especially considering how many normal monsters you have to fight. On the other hand, after a while, if you set your gambits right you don't have to do much of anything but walk your characters in the right direction while they handle everything else, which can get kinda dull, especially with how big some of the dungeons are.
The other two things I should mention in regards to battle are summons and Quickenings. Both use mist charges (1 mist charge equals 1 full MP guage and, once the appropriate licenses have been learned, a character can have up to three mist charges, effectively tripling their MP). Summons take anywhere from 1-3 charges and cause all of your characters except the summoner to disapear while the summoner and summoned creature fight. Summons fight normally but have fancy super attacks that can be triggered if the right conditions are met. Unfortunately, summons typically don't have a lot of HP and can die surprisingly easily, leaving you out a lot of MP. Quickenings can potentially use all the MP of every character (or possibly less) and involve quick button presses to chain together a series of limit break type attacks. They can do a ton of damage if you get a good chain going (especially since correct combinations can trigger finishing moves) but it's a huge MP loss and there's some luck involved to its possible to use all your MP and do very little damage.
There's no big mini-game this time around but Vahn becomes a clan member pretty early in the game, allowing him to take on hunts which involve tracking down and killing a lot of powerful monsters for fun and profit. Aside from the marks there's lots of subquests and the game includes a complete beastiery that you'll have to fill out if you want to totally complete the game. Plus monsters now drop items instead of money. Said items can be sold for money and certain combinations will unlock special stuff you can buy, some of which is extremely powerful. And that's not even mention the 80 rare monsters to track down and the usually group of super hard optional bosses (some of which can take hours to defeat).
Overall: Final Fantasy XII features some of the most impressive graphics on the PS2, great sound, and a huge amount of things to do (my final game clock, after doing pretty much everything, was around 200 hours when I finished). Plus, the difficulty level is actually pretty good. The gambit system is neat at first and dead useful during some of the overally long battles and dungeons that come up from time to time but ultimately takes you a bit out of the game, although you can turn it off if you want. Unfortunately, the story, while interesting and engaging, lacks some of the depth and shocking twists that many have come to expect from the FF series. Still, FFXII is a great game and definately worth playing. It doesn't always feel quite like a FF game but as long as that doesn't throw you off, FFXII will keep you busy for a long, long time.


4/23/2007 Knew I forgot something... Or a couple somethings...

If you haven't seen friday's bonus comic yet it's up there for everyone who votes. New ROM too. Today's guest comic was made by Silver during the recent King of the Forums contest. It's been on the extras page for a few weeks so some of you may have seen it before but it was never on the main page.

Sorry about there not being a normal strip today. I was really busy last week what with finals and some other work I was doing. Then yesterday I had to pack things and start moving them out of my apartment. See, I'll be going back to CO for a while after I graduation but my lease runs out a few days before graduation (tuesday is the last day). Since my brother isn't going to need as much space once I'm gone he got a new apartment closer to his college so I'm moving over there until I leave AZ. And, since it is smaller, it's gonna be really crowded, especially once my parents come down for my graduation... Anyway, you may be wondering what this has to do with today's guest strip. See, with all that was going on I didn't get around to making any PV strips for this week. Part of it was cause I was busy and part of it was that when I did have a little time I forgot. So yeah... I should finish up all the moving stuff tomorrow and then I can try and get caught up on PV strips in time for wednesday's update.

What else did I forget? I forgot to mention in last friday's update that Pokémon Diamond and Pearl came out yesterday! I picked up my copy of Diamond but, with all the moving stuff, I only had time to play for a few minutes. But I'll have a bit more time last this week and, come next week, I'll have a couple of plane rides (going to visit my grandparents before heading back to CO) then a long car ride so I'll should have tons of time. I'll try and post my impressions here as I progress through the game. Might post my friend code too, when I get far enough.
Might as well talk about the very beginning of the game. Surprise, surprise, D/P plays quite a lot like all the other main Pokémon games. You start out picking a boy of a girl character, entering your name, and picking a name for your rival as the newest Professor goes through the standard 'welcome to the world of pokémon' speech. Your character and his/her very hyper friend/rival go out exploring, get attacked by wild pokémon, and end up having to use pokémon belonging to the professor (who actually doesn't live in your home town this time around). He eventually gives you the pokémon you used along with the newest model pokédex which he wants you to fill up (no big surprise there). The graphical improvement is nice although, despite being in 3D, it's surprising how much it looks like the GBA games. The sounds have improved a bit and the pokémon have some animation this time around, which is nice.
I actually ended up choosing the girl character this time around, simply because I really don't like the boy's outfit. Wasn't sure what her name is supposed to be (although I did find out that if you play her the boy is named Lucas) so I named her Jessie, which I what I usually name female characters in games (at least the ones that don't have a default name, since I tend to always stick with default names). There's a bit of a story behind that but I don't have time get into it right now.
I do have to say that the first batch of strategy guides have problems (both the Prima and the Nintendo Power). At least they actually have pokédexs (unlike the first batch of R/S guides). However, said pokédexs only list the stuff in the local dex, not the national dex, and they're missing some of the legendaries. Even worse, they only list where to catch the pokémon. No move lists, stats, abilities, or anything. I ended up getting the Prima guide just because I wanted a convenient way to check what I can catch where. It came with an ad for their complete pokédex book. <_< It's bad enough that they're making you buy two books when all that info should be the main guide. What's even worse is that said pokédex book doesn't come out till the end of May. They did the same thing with Ruby Sapphire and it made me just as angry back then. I miss Versus Books, they made the most awesome guides for Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow and Gold/Silver.

Finally, I should mention that I beat Final Fantasy XII (only took like 200 hours). The ending was pretty good and one of the FMVs featured the biggest flying ship battle this side of Star Wars. The final form of the final boss was pretty impressive though. Not to give anything away but the fights leading up to it were extremely easy (then again I had powered up a lot to beat all the optional bosses and a lot of the FF games have had fairly easy final bosses so I was expecting that) but the last form... Wow, his attacks actually did pretty serious damage to my powerful party (which the previous forms could barely scratch) and his defense was much higher than even the optional bosses (much, much higher). I didn't have a lot of trouble with the battles since I did beat the super hard optional bosses and all, but it was still a decent fight for my fairly powerful party and if I hadn't gained an extra 30 levels doing all that optional stuff and powering up to face the optional bosses it would have been an extremely challenging battle. All in all, it was a nice change from the norm. Review coming later this week.

Well, I'm off. Spent way longer than I should have typing this. See you wednesday!


4/20/2007 The homestretch

The latest bonus comic is up so vote to check it out. There's also a new ROM.

Took a little time off yesterday to hang out with some friends but other than that I've been working pretty hard. I'm finished with my internship and have most of my school work done. Just need to spruce up my final Flash project a little and take my Buisness of Gaming final (which I can't take till monday). Hard to believe I'm nearly done with school... Anyway, still got a little work left to do and once my Flash project is finished I'll have to spend some time packing, moving stuff, and the like. I did beat Yiazmat though. Or rather I watched and periodically changed my main character so the game wouldn't pause while my characters' AI beat Yiazmat. It took way too long but at least it's finished. Not I just need to take out Omega and I'll be ready to beat the game.

And that's all for now. I have to get going. See you next week!


4/18/2007 The fight that never ends...

There's no new ROM today but you may have actually missed monday's birthday special. See, it got uploaded into the archives but not onto the main page and I didn't find out till tuesday morning. So, if you did miss it, now is a good time to look.

So I've been playing a lot of Final Fantasy XII lately... Er, that's not quite right. I've been leaving my PS2 on and letting FFXII play itself a lot lately. See, all that I have left to do before going to the final area is kill some optional bosses. These optional bosses have ridiculous amounts of HP. Combine that with the fact that I have a lot of work to do and don't really want to manually control a multiple hour boss fight anyway, and FFXII's gambet system (which lets you set AI commands to automate your characters' actions in battle) anmd you should have an idea of what I'm doing. Basically I go to the boss, set up my gambits, and then let my characters do the fighting while I work on other things. And it works, more or less. Problem is, depending on what you're fighting you kinda have to baby sit the game since it pauses the action if your main party is killed (so you can switch to your reserves) or if your party leader is KO'd for for than a second or two (about one second too short in my opinion). Sometimes this isn't a problem. For example, when fighting Hell Wyrm I was able to set my gambits, walk away, and game back a while later to a nearly dead boss. Unfortunately, it doesn't work quite so well against Yiazmat, the game's uber 50,000,000 HP boss (yes I typed that right). The main problem is that he has lots of instant death moves which guarentees that, no matter how your gambits are set, it won't be too long before your party leader is killed the revive spell comes a second too late, and the game pauses. So basically I have to bring my laptop over by the TV and keep and eye on the fight (periodically switching main characters) while I do my homework. Well, at least it feels like I'm doing something. The fact that Hell Wyrm fell without needing me to be there was a little disapointing. Anyway, 50,000,000 HP takes a long time to deplete. All the guides talk about how you should have no problem doing max damage per hit. Problem is, that probably isn't going to happen without the ultimate weapons and getting them basically requires a whole lot of luck (waiting for monsters to drop the correct items or getting really lucky with certain random chests). I have some ultimate weapons but none of the ones that would actually be useful against Yiazmat. See, I've already been playing this game for far too long and don't have the time or patience to go after said weapons, especially with my luck (I spent hours running in and out of an area trying to get a monster to spawn that is supposed to show 20% of the time). So anyway, I'm using weapons that do around a third of max damage. Long story short, it makes this battle take forever. Been working on it two days so far and he currently has 10.5 million HP left (fortunately you can run off and save mid fight). It would have gone a bit faster but I kept trying different gambit strategies trying to find one that would maximize my damage output. Sadly enough, after numerous complicated setups, the one that seems to work the best overall basically has the characters doing nothing but attacking and reviving each other. Too bad I didn't try that sooner, would have sped things up a bit. Anyway... Look for a long overdue review of FFXII next week, by which time Yiazmat will hopefully have died.


4/16/2007 My final finals?

Probably don't need to tell you this but you can vote any time to see friday's bonus comic. There's a new ROM up too and it's Shauni's birthday! I tried a different way of making a wave in this strip. What do you think? I'm not entirely happy with it myself, but then again I'm never totally happy with my waves no matter how I make them...

Actually, my official finals week is next week but because of the way things get scheduled at my school, finals usually take place the week before finals week. In fact, having to take a final during finals week is somewhat unusual. So basically this is the week that I have to get everything done. Doesn't help that I also have to get ready to move and work on some other stuff. Still, all in all it souldn't be that bad, not compared to some of the finals periods I've had before. Kinda hard to believe that these could be my last finals. I mean, depending on how my job search goes there's a chance I'll come back to school and go for a Masters in Game Production or maybe a Bachelors in Japanese or something like that but there's a pretty good chance that, in another week, I'll be done with school for the rest of my life... Well, attending school anyway, always a chance I could end up teaching at some point. It's a lot to think about... I'm gonna miss school, the studying (well, some subjects), UAT itself (I like the atmosphere and a lot of my teachers and classmates), and the schedule (well, sorta, some semesters have been good, others not so much, but I assume an average work week will probably involve more hours than an average school week).

Well, I should go. Lots to work on and all that. Later!


4/13/2007 Congrats!

There's a new bonus comic up on TWC so go ahead and vote if you want to see it. There's a new ROM too. And take a look, I finally got around to updating the donation guage! Even better, there's some donations. The guage is at $20 right now, it only needs $5 more to reach the first donation goal which would get you commentary on another 20 or so old strips and the next chapter of ROM the Novel. In the meantime, the next non-monthly donation goal was reached so look for Josiah's Sprite Comic Guide Part 5 in the not too distant future. This one will be around script and diaglogue writing. If you're curious, future sprite comic guides will cover subjects like creating speech bubbles, special effects, making a website, and finding a place to host your web site, among other things. And after all the spite comic guides are finished? Well, that could be a while but let's just say that I have a pretty cool idea...

The month long King of the Forums Contest has ended. Long time forum member Neo Zanther surprised a lot of people took first place, becoming King of the Forums and beating out another long time member, Silver, who took second prize, becoming the Prince of the Forums. And new member PoikSpirit managed to beat out a couple of tough competitors to win third place, becoming the Duke of the Forums. Congrats to the winners and thanks to everyone who competed. Although there were a few problems here and there since it was the first time we'd done such a large scale contest, overall it was an amazing success. The best part was that we all had a lot of fun and made the forums, which had been in a bit of a slump before the contest, a lot more active. I'm sure things will quiet down a bit now that the contest is over but I think the forums will remain nice and lively now that we've got the ball rolling. So thanks to all the forum members, the contest wouldn't have been a success without you guys. Of all the PV related stuff that's happened since I started this comic, meeting all of you guys and hanging out with you on the forums has been the best part. And you can look forward to an even bigger and better KotF Contest next year. Not that there isn't going to be some other stuff in the meantime, the 2007 Forum Awards aren't that far off...

And I'm off for now. See you monday!


4/11/2007 R.I.P. Playstation 2

Sometimes I really have to work to come up with a good joke for these strips and sometimes the game just writes the stuff itself. Anyway, friday's bonus comic is still up there if you haven't seen it yet and there's a new ROM comic today. Plus, there's new fan art from Opal, Kaida, and Silver and new guest comic from from keenarnor.

I spent a good part of the weekend at Anizona (the local anime convention). It was, ok. Kinda disapointing though. This is the third year of Anizona and I've been to all three. The first one was awesome. The second wasn't quite as awesome but still really good. This year, it moved to a new venue with allowed them to majorly up the registration cap and made things a lot less crowded, which was great. They even got some arcade cabnets for the game room (also great). Unfortunately, there just wasn't as much to do as before (no sessions that really jumped out at me, no card game area, etc and some parts weren't as well planned out as they should have been (like the viewing rooms). I still had fun, just not as much as before. Ended spending way too much time in the dealer area, which played at least some roll in me spending a lot more money there then I'd originally planned too (I had plenty of money, I just hadn't planned on spending quite so much). Got some nice figurines and wall scrolls though. And, since all I was really doing with that money was saving for a PS3 and I have some stuff I'm working on that should earn me a decent amount of cash, I didn't really mind the extra spending.

At least I didn't until yesterday night... I know I've mentioned my PS2 here a couple times before. Waited in line and got it on launch day way back in October 2000. It worked fine for a few years then it stopped reading CDs but that was back when a lot of people were complaing about PS2 disc read errors so Sony fixed it for free (which was awesome). Worked fine after that until last summer started having trouble reading DVDs. Knew I wouldn't be lucky enough to get a free repair job again but I didn't want to give up on the system yet so I did some research, opened it up, and, after a couple days of tweaking, managed to get it running as good as new by upping the laser frequency. Worked fine after that until the beginning of the year when I had to tweak the frequency again, figured the screw that changes it had just become a little lose since I moved the PS2 around a lot shortly before that. And once again it worked just fine until monday when, after a few hours playing (it was the first chance I'd had to play much of anything in about a week) I took a break, came back, and had a lot of trouble getting it to load my disc. But, in the end it worked and I hoped it was just a fluke. Unfortunately yesterday I couldn't get any DVDs (games or movies) to load. So I tweaked the frequency again and...it didn't work. Since that didn't help I did all the other typically PS2 repair stuff (tweaking the gear position, cleaning out the inside, etc). Didn't make any difference. Could have been a bit more thurough but, considering that none of the stuff I tried made the least bit of difference and that CDs and CD based games load quickly and perfectly, I don't think a bit more cleaning would help. I think the DVD laser may have died. Considering the cost of a replacement laser for a launch model PS2, the time it'd take to get and install, and the fact that there's a small chance something else entirely is broken, I finally gave up and got a new PS2 (there goes all my spending/PS3 money).
Gotta say, those slimline models are really really thin, a little too thin maybe. And I kept opening the disc drive by accident since the button is so close to the second controller and memory card port. Overall it's a nice design though.
Not quite sure what I'm gonna do with my old PS2. Don't really want to throw it out since CD stuff works fine. Well, whatever happens to it, rest in peace PS2, we had a great 6 1/2 years...


4/6/2007 No update on monday

This week's bonus comic is up so go and vote if you want to see it. Considering how great PV did in the rankings in March, I'm curious to see how it will do this month. There's a new ROM too. Plus I've added

I'm sorry to tell you that there will be no new comic on monday. The main reason being that it's the last day of Passover. Plus, this last week has been really busy for for me so I'm a little behind on strips anyway.

I added a new link to the Links Page. It's for The Realm of Gadigan, a forums that's home to BA, a text based RP/RPG that Shauni and I play. It's fun and you can be pretty much any type of character you want. If you like RPs that are a bit more structured and stat based than the ones on the PV Forums you should take a look.

And that's all for now. Remember, no upate on monday. Pebble Version will return on wednesday along with some new fan art I got. See you then!


4/4/2007 I have to do all that?

No new ROM today, unfortunately. Shauni has been busy and has had a lot of computer problems and then there were those e-mails that got lost in transit... She's been thinking of going to two updates a week for a while while she catches up. Not which reason is the cause of the missed update. Although, monday's ROM us on the main page now. It was always in the archives but do to some server problems, it didn't get put on the main page until a bit later.

So many things I still need to do before graduation... Looks like I won't have a lot of time to relax over the next few weeks.

Wow, this keeps getting weirder... Not talking about my life or anything. It's busy, not weird. What's weird is this anime I'm watching. It's a fansub called Kagihime (well, the full name is a lot longer but that's the start). It's sorta a magical girl show, sorta a romantic comedy, and has some relation to Lewis Carrol's Alice novels too. It starts out fairly straight forward but the last few episodes feature a series of really strange plot twists.

And that's all for now. I'll try and do a game review on friday if I have time.


4/2/2007 Ok this is getting weird...

It's a new month so remember to vote! Pebble Version did great on TWC last month so let's see if we can do it again. There's a new ROM too.

Wow, this has been one busy but interesting weekend and the rest of the week looks like it's going to be the same. First off my parents are visiting so that always changes things around a bit. Then, a couple days ago we all went to the zoo (had a large block of time where we really couldn't do much and my mom wanted to see the zoo). Then yesterday I went to the nearby Reniassace Festival which, for various reasons, I never attended in the past. Wish I had though, it was huge (twelve stages, tons of stores, shows, etc) and a lot of fun. Next up, Passover starts tonight so there's everything that entails. And, finally, this weekend is Anizona (the local anime covention). So yeah, things are certainly a bit crazy for me right now (and that's not even mentioning the school, homework, graduation prep, moving prep, and all that stuff) but mostly in a good way (except for all that stuff listed in the last set of parenthesis).


3/30/2007 Time is running out...

There's a new bonus comic up and only a couple more days to vote this month so let's make sure Pebble Version gets a strong finish. Unfortunately, Shauni told me she wasn't able to get a ROM comic done for today so you'll have to wait till next week for that.

What is time running out for? Well lots of stuff. For example time is running out to get in votes of PV on TWC this month. There also isn't much time left to donate to PV this month. Plus I'm sure there's lot of things time is running out for that have absolutely nothing to do with Pebble Version. For me my time in AZ is running out (well, most likely anyway). I'll be graduating is a little less than a month and then... Well, I'm still working on that. I've applied to some game companies (mostly ones I like a lot and some ones I talked to at GDC) and I'm also applying to some English schools in Japan. I think I mentioned it before but I wouldn't mind going over there to teach for a year or so. It'd be an intersting experience and certainly improve my Japanese skills. If none of that stuff works out I'll start applying to a lot more game companies and take what I can get (it's a lot easier to get a position you want after you've worked on a couple of completed games already). Or, if I still can't find a job I might get a different type of job for a little while or go back to school for my masters or something like that. Either way, I'll be leaving AZ for a least a while and the chances of me coming back aren't particularily high (I'd have to either return to school or get a job somewhere around here). So yeah, my time here is running out and there's a lot I still need to do before then...

Well, I was planning to do a review this week but my parents are visiting and, like I already said, I got a lot that needs to be done so maybe next week. For now, I'm off.



3/28/2007 More extra stuff

Shauni seems to have gotten her computer problems taken care of so there's a new ROM today.

There's a couple new guest comics on the Extras Page. One by Silver and the other by Opal (aka Celebifly). They were made for a bonus challenge in the ongoing King of the Forums Contest on the Pebble Version Forums.

See you friday!


3/26/2007 Playing with Flash

As always, this is a good time to vote and see friday's bonus comic. Pebble Version has been going great on TWC this month and there's only a few days left so let's try and finish strong too. Unfortunately, Shauni has been having some computer problems so there's no new ROM today. There is a short news post though if you want to take a look.

There may be no ROM but you can take a look at this instead (it's also on the Extras Page). It's a movie I made for my Flash class. The project was to do a lip sync to something. Not exactly sure what I decided to use Xain, or the song that I did... Anyway, it's funny and it took forever to make so I hope you like it. Be sure and pay attention to Xain's mouth since that's what I spent the most time on.

Well, I'm off for now. See you wednesday!


3/23/2007 Not much to say

There's a new bonus comic and a new ROM. Sorry there wasn't a ROM update on wednesday. Shauni's e-mail didn't get through for some reason. Seems to happen every once in a while.

As the title says, I don't have a lot to say. Been keeping pretty busy this week but not with anything particularily interesting and I don't have time to write another review right now (although I plan on doing another one next week). Got some misc bonus contest to put up next week too. So yeah, have a great weekend and I'll see you on monday.


3/21/2007 Review time

Now new ROM today, not sure why though. The King of the Forums Contest is going great on the PV forums. Maybe a little too great. The forums have become a lot more active and everyone seems to be having fun (which is what I was going for) so that's great. Having to go through all the posts and do the scoring for the contest, on the other hand, is a lot of more time consuming than I thought it would be (although I do like reading the posts).

Well, I've been meaning to review some of my Wii games. In fact, I had review written up a couple weeks ago but my computer crashed and I lost it. So here's a review of one of the games I've been playing on my Wii. As for FFXII, I'm nearly done (another week or two tops).

There's been Dragon Ball Z games for ages but it wasn't till fairly recently (with the start of the DBZ Budokai series) that they made some games that weren't complete crap. The Budokai series steadily improved and I had a lot of fun with Budokai 3. After 3 a new series (Budokai Tenkaichi) started. Although a bit different than the regular Budokai games (and maybe not as deep) the Tenkaichi games do the best job of recreating the crazy super powered battles from the anime and manga. Tenkaichi 2 has Wii and PS2 versions. The only real difference is that the Wii gives the option of using the Wii controller (remote + nunchuck) to play the game (or the classic controller or Gamecube controllers). I never would have thought the Wii remote would work well with a fighting game but, although there's a pretty steep learning curve, it actually works well and is a lot of fun to play (even better than a normal controller).
Graphics: The graphics is BT2 are great. The game has a bit of a cell shaded look (although a different style than the previous games) giving everything a very appropriate anime look. The characters are spot on and their moves are totally true to the anime/manga. The environments look just as good too as do the energy blasts. When it comes down to it, I really can't imagine how the graphics could look much better aside from some lip syncing.
Sound: No complaints here. They got the original voice cast for most of the characters so everyone sounds perfect. There's a pretty good amount of voice acting here. A little more would never hurt but I doubt you've ever seen a fighting game with this much voice acting before. You can even switch the voices to Japanese if you prefer. For the rest of the sound, the music is good and the sound effects are just like in the anime.
Story: The game does have a story mode where you play through the events of the entire DBZ series along with DBGT and most of the movies. It's a pretty cool mode but the story scenes are rather barebones and jump around a bit. If you're a DBZ fan you already know everything that happens so the digest story is fine. However, people who aren't very familiar with DBZ will get confused pretty quickly.
Gameplay: First off, the characters. When you count all the various transformations there's way over 100 playable characters. Nearly every fighter from DBZ is in the game along with most of the guys from the movies and GT plus a couple from the original DB for good measure. Sure I could whine that a few of the more minor fighters (like say Garlick Jr's henchmen) got left out but it's really no big deal, pretty much any character you care about is gonna be in the game, complete with all their transformations, fusions, and special attacks.
For gameplay modes you have the usual versus, tournaments, practice, and training (which you'll want to hit first thing, especially if you plan on playing the game with the Wii remote) plus some bonus type stuff like a DBZ reference guide. The mode you'll probably spend the most time in is the story mode (which is surprsingly long, not that that's a bad thing). Unlike some of the previous DBZ games (which had seperate story modes for different characters) BT2 only has one story mode. As you play through it you'll find yourself fighting through nearly every battlle in the series and controlling a wide assortment of DBZ heroes (and even a few villians). Between battles you can fly around the world, shop, and do some optional battles. You have to win most battles to advance the story (although there's a few where you just have to survive for a while) even when your character actually loses once the fight is over. Playing through this mode is what unlocks most of the characters and transformation so you'll definately want to go through it. It's dvivded into sections (for the various story arcs and movies) plus there's a few secret "What is?" scenarios you can unlock.
Unlike in the original Budokai games, characters here start with all their attacks and special moves (except transformations, which need to be unlocked) and you don't have to equip anything to give them access to those moves. Characters can equip protera (up to seven per character) which grant stat boosts and special abilities (like faster Chi charging or more consecutive homing attacks) and some of those protera can gain experience and level up but you can always switch them between characters and/or buy stronger ones as you progress through story mode so you don't have to deal with a leveling grinde like in Budokai 3.
When fighting you use a third person view looking at your character's back. Arenas are fully 3D and destructable. You can smash you opponents into buildings, rocks, trees, and the like to destory them and deal extra damage plus some characters have big planet damaging attacks that literally destory the entire battlefield. All in all, you'll be fighting on land, in the air, and under water. The stages do have a translucent wall around the edges though.
Fighting itself is typical DBZ stuff. You'll be running, flying, shooting off energy blasts, teleporting, getting into beam struggles, destroying the environment and the like in pretty much every battle. It really captures the look and feel of the manga and anime. Your character has a health guage (duh), a chi guage (which can be charged and is used for energy based attacks and most special moves) and a blast guage (which charges over time and is used for some special attacks and to go into full power mode). In a nutshell, you and your opponent trade punches, send each other flying, teleport dodge attacks, transform, speed around the arena, and mix in a lot of super powered special moves. It's all great fun. In some of the games (like Budokai 3) super moves were useless against good players since they were easily dodgable and matches all degenerated into fist fights. Fortunately, BT2 fixes this and you'll find all your moves to be useful no matter who you're fighting.
Controlls with the Wii remote and nunchuck have a really steep learning curve (took me a couple hours to get used to it and a lot longer before I really had things down) but they're really fun once you've learned them and surprisingly accurate. The special moves (which will have you flicking the remote around and thrusting it like a Kamehama) are particularily fun to do and a lot easier than you might think. But, if you really don't like them, you can always use a classic controller or a Gamecube controller (or just buy the PS2 version).
Overall: Although some perfer Budokai 3 for its somewhat deeper fighting engine, I'd call Budokai Tenkaichi 2 the best DBZ game yet. No other game has come anywhere near this close to recreating DBZ's super powered over the top battles. Even better, just about every fighter in the series in here and they actually look and feel unique while still being easy enough to switch between without a big learning curve. If you've got a Wii and a PS2 I highly recommend the Wii version. The controlls, which tough to learn, are a blast to use and if it turns out you don't like them you can always use a classic or Gamecube controller instead. But that aside, if you're a DBZ fan there's no question, you have to own this game.


3/19/2007 Well that figures

It's a great time to vote for Pebble Version and see friday's bonus comic. Also a great time to see the new ROM. Someday I might sprite Brendan and May in swimsuits but that'd take more time than I have right now. Hey, I did make May without her bandanna.

Well, I'm caught up on PV strips so now I can spend more time on these news posts. Unfortunately, I can't decide what to write about... I'll definately do a review of something later this week. For now... Hmm... I never did talk about GDC did I?

So, GDC really has two main parts, the expo and the conference. The conference has lots of sessions and discussions, and they always have some really big names in the game industry speaking. Unfortunately, I didn't actually get to go to any of that stuff. See, the expo only pass is pretty affordable (under $200), a pass that would actually get me into the conference stuff would cost somewhere around $1000. The expo is, well an expo. Lots of companies have booths but unlike E3 (where booths are all about the game demos) GDC booths focus on things like hardware (the latest Intel processors for example), software that's used in game making (like 3D Studio Max), and middleware (like game engines). There's also a section of the Expo where various game companies talk to people looking for jobs. There's also a bunch of free stuff and a few contests and give aways. So anyway, the expo was interesting. I got to see some intersting stuff at the expo and got some nifty free things (tons of keychains and pens in particular). Plus I got to talk to a lot of people from different companies and pass out resumes, which is good since I'll need a job in the not too distant future.
Highlites from GDC, aside from looking around and job hunting, included the IGDA awards show, which gave out awards to to both independant and regular games. After the show I even got to meet both the creater of Tetris and the president of Nintendo of America. That was pretty cool. Another fun part was the Singstar Rocks tournaments that Sony had throughout the conference. I was in three of them. First time I was second, next I was third or fouth, and the third I won getting a copy of Singstar for myself.

Well, that's enough for now. See you wednesday!


3/16/2007 Still catching up

There's a brand new bonus comic. PV is still doing better than usual on Top Web Comics this month so let's keep it up. And don't forget about the new ROM.

Well, I'm still catching up on PV strips so I'll save the long news posts for next week. Have a good weekend!


3/14/2007 Lots to do and lots of time to do it

There's a new ROM today.

Seems that whever I have a break I always start out thinking something like, "This'll be great I can relax, read, and play games all day." Soon after I start to think something like, "Since I'm gonna have all this free time it'd be a good time to get x stuff done." And that stuff usually ends up dominating said free time. So, while I'm getting a lot done this week, and having some fun as well (got to hang out with a friend and go to an anime club party at school), I haven't been able to spend as much time playing games as I'd like. Oh well, still plenty of time left. Speaking of which, I'm not quite caught up on Pebble Version strips yet so I'd better get going.


3/12/2007 Cop out

Don't forget about friday's voters' bonus comic. Pebble Version has been doing really good in the Top Web Comics rankings them month so let's keep it up. There's a new ROM too. Oh, just you so know. For anyone who e-mailed me in the last week and a half or so, sorry I haven't written back yet. With all the stuff I had to do to get ready for GDC (plus actually going to GDC itself) e-mail kinda got pushed pretty low on my "to do" list. I'll be writing back to you within the next couple of days.

So, today's strip is kind of a cop out. Sorry about that. Or, if you think it's funny, than I'm not sorry at all. Enjoy! Uh, anyway, long story short, with GDC and everything (including getting a cold at the end) I got way behind on this week's comics so it came down to either throwing together a really quick strip or skipping today's update entirely. Fortunately, it's spring break so I should have tons of time to get caught up.

Oh yeah, this would be a great time to check out the PV Forums. The King of the Forums contest just started. Everyone (new members and old) have an equal chance of winning and there's some pretty cool prizes being offered. You can read more about it in the Forums board if you're interested.

Well, I need to get back to work on stuff so I'll talk about GDC next time.



3/9/2007 I'm on?!?

New bonus comic for everyone who clicks the TWC banner or button and votes! No ROM today. Shauni probably decided not to do once since she wasn't sure if I'd be able to put it on the site. Not a bad choice really. Until about an hour ago I didn't think I'd be able to get today's update posted. Heck, this is the first time since tuesday night that I've been able to get on the internet.

Anyway, I'm at GDC and things are going well. I'll talk about it more next week.


3/5/2007 Need some sleep

There's a new ROM. Also, remember that friday's update might be late or possibly skipped entirely.

Read the title of this news post. Enough said.


3/5/2007 Starting with Vista

Remember to vote! Pebble Version's off to a great start on TWC this month so we should try and keep it up. In other news, Shauni has a new news post up on ROM. She plans to start updating the comic again on wednesday. Also, just so you know (if you didn't already) I'll be at GDC (the Game Developers Conference) wednesday through most of friday. Wednesday's update shouldn't be effected, friday's might be a little early, late, or (if my internet access is really bad) skipped entirely.

I finally got my upgrade disc for Windows Vista and decided to give it a try. The installation was easy, although I had to update a couple of programs first and uninstall one. All the other prep stuff was handled by a disc Dell gave me which basically patched drivers, uninstalled some stuff, and then installed Vista versions after the upgrade was done. The Vista installation itself was long but unlike previous versions of Windows, you only have to be there at the very beginning and the very end, there's no questons, or prompts you need to hit except for those two times and even then there's a heck of a lot less of them than XP's installation has. Did have a couple problems with the upgrade itself, namely because a couple of the updated drivers on Dell's prep disc weren't as Vista compatable as they were supposed to be. Fortunately, Vista automatically found and installed an updated version of one of them and I was able to track down a Vista version of the other after a bit of Google searching.
Vista itself isn't bad. The new interface is snazzy. I did set the start menu and a couple other things back to classic mode but overall I like the new look. The new search program is good too, a lot like Google desktop and the like, although I tend to organize my files well enough that I don't really need to search for things very often. There's also the gadget bar on the side of the screen where you can put a variety of nifty mini programs. I currently have a clock, calender, slide show, local weather, CPU usage meter, and RSS feed display. I originally thought the whole thing would be kinda gimicky but it's actually kind of nice. I'm looking forward to seeing what gadgets are made for it in the future.
I have had a couple problems with Vista since the upgrade. One is minor (the language bar doesn't want to stay docked on the taskbar for some reason) the other is a bit more serious (Window's main sound handling program seems to have a bit of a memory leak at times) but those are the type of things that'll probably be patched soon. Look for more on Vista in the future.

See you wednesday!


3/2/2007 Coming up...

There's a new bonus comic so make sure to vote! In ROM news, Shauni is starting to feel better but there's no new ROM yet.

The King of the Forums Contest will be taking place on the PV Forums starting on the 11th. I haven't announced the rules yet but it's going to be a big month long contest. Possible prizes include signed copies of my book, a comic mini-series featuring the winner, and custom art from Shauni and myself, just to name a few. If you've been thinking about joining the forums it's a great time to do so!

I'll be heading to GDC (the Game Developers' Conference) this coming week. It runs wednesday through friday (well, tuesday through friday but I don't have a good enough pass to get into the tuesday stuff). Wednesday's update shouldn't be affected. Friday's update, on the other hand, may be a little early or a little late. There's also a chance (albiet an unlikely one) that there won't be any comic on friday. I'll do my best to get it up but I can never be sure what my internet access is gonna be like at these things so we'll see what happens.

Have a great weekend!


2/28/2007 Grrr...

Unfortunately, Shauni is pretty sick so there's no ROM today either. Hopefully she'll feel better soon.

Well, my web editor decided to crash right before I could save the news post I just spend the last half hour writing and I don't feel like retyping the whole thing right now so, uh, I guess I'll see you on friday.


2/26/2007 Matsuri

If you haven't seen friday's special bonus comic (featuring RP Week 2007 winner Matrix Kirby) you should vote a take a look. Also, keep in mind that there's only a few days left in February if you want to donate. Unfortunately, there's no ROM today.

Sunday was a fun day. I went to the yearly Matsuri festival in Phoenix. It's a Japanese culture festival. There's shows, vendors, food, and stuff like that. I watched some weapon and martial arts demonstrations, some Taiko drumming, and a tea ceremony. I also got a nifty sushi maker and ate some great Japanese food. They even had melon bread and curry bread. Now if only they had a cook book that said how to make Japanese breads... I found a melon bread recipe online last year (after a ton of searching) but I still haven't been able to find a good Japanese curry bread recipe. Books aren't any help either since just about every Japanese cook book published in the US is mostly about sushi. Can't find any that even mention bread... Anyway, Matsuri was a lot of fun (as always). Too bad I probably won't be able to go next year. Although, depending on how things go I might be in Japan next year...

I also spent a little while at a Best Buy event. It was only for people with Best Buy cards and they gave out some free stuff, had product demos, prize drawings, and that kinda stuff. Unfortunately I didn't win anything but I did get several dollars worth of Best Buy gift cards anf a free pair of earbuds. Plus, my mom, who was with me, really liked the Karaoke Revolution demo they had and ended up buying the game. And, since I'm the only one in my family with a PS2, that means I've got a copy of Karaoke Revolution. Which is cool because: I like rhythm games, my singing could use some improvement, it'll be good practice if I do end up working in Japan (considering how popular karaoke is over there).

See you wednesday!


2/23/2007 DNS screw ups

There's a special bonus comic up that features Matrix Kirby, long time Pebble Version forum member and winner of RP Week 2007 on the forums. And, as usual, there's a new ROM up.

If you tried to get to Pebble Version wednesday morning and ended up at a Century 21 site here's why. There was a glitch with a DNS server (DNS involves how the internet actually finds sites once you type the address into your browser). Shouldn't happen again, at least I hope not. But that kind of thing is totally out of my control.

Not much else to say right now. My parents are still visiting and I'll have my work cut out for me this coming week since I need to make a bunch of copies of my resume and portfolio and get ahead on my homework in preperation for my trip to GDC.

See you on monday.


2/21/2007 All fixed!

There's a new ROM today. Also, keep in mind that there's only about a week left if you want get any donations in this month.

I noticed that the archives had glitched a bit and were displaying the some of the strip titles wrong. Didn't like the ' symbol for some reason. Might have been that way for a while, not really sure. Anyway, I went through and fixed everything. Hopefully that won't happen again. Next I should probably update the cast page a bit... But that's for another day. And, since fixing the archives took up all the time I was going to spend writing a news post, that's it for today.



2/19/2006 DVD time

You can always vote and see friday's bonus comic. Also, don't forget donating. It's fine if you don't but donating leads to tons of cool Pebble Version and ROM related bonus content (read more about that below).
On a different note, I'd like to thank everyone who sent me fan mail lately. It's been great hearing from you guys and I'll be writing back to all of you today or tomorrow. Would have done it sooner but my parents are visiting so I've been busy doing stuff with them.

There's some anime DVDs I've been wanting and I got a coupon for 10% off at Best Buy and just got some extra cash so I did some shopping.
First off I got volume one of Bobobo. If you haven't heard me talk about it before, Bobobo~bo Bo~bobo is the weirdest, randomest, thing in existence. It's also hillarious, at least if you like wacky random humor. I've been hoping for a DVD release for ages and it's finally here. Unfortunately, Illumitoon, the new company that's releasing the DVDs, screwed some thing up. Overall, if you like the english dub (which is really good, albiet heavily localized in spots) the DVD is fine. Video quality is good as it's completely unedited so you get to see some scenes that got cut from the Cartoon Network version for time constraints and the like. There's also a Japanese language track. Unfortunely, they majorly screwed up the subtitles. There's a few problems with them (like how they disapear so fast you practicaly need to pause the video every few seconds to read them) but the main issue is that the subtitles are just the english closed captioning track so they don't match up with the Japanese dialogue at all. Which really sucks since I'd like to be able to watch both the English and Japanese versions. There's a few other minor annoyances with the DVD but that's the main thing. If you like the English dub of Bobobo, like I do, it's still worth a purchase but that doesn't keep it from being disapointing. Maybe if they get enough complaints Illumitoon will fix it...

I also got the new Dragon Ball Z Season 1 box set. It has 39 episodes (the entire Saiyen Saga) for only $30-40 (depending where you buy it). Aside from being a heck of a lot cheaper than any previous DBZ release, it's vastly superiour to them in more or less every way. The video has been totally redone, improving the color and majorly upping the image quality. It's also totally unedited, includes English and Japanese language tracks, and the option to watch the English dub with either the original Japanese music (there's a minor glitch with this one where the opening theme plays the US version, not the Japanese, but you can just switch the sound to the full Japanese track and it plays fine) or the US TV version music. Speaking of sound, they also improved that a bit. There's even a nifty marathon mode that lets you watch the episodes straight through without the opening or ending themes.
There's only a couple of downside. First off, they left out the "Next time on Dragon Ball Z" bits at the end of each episode. Not a huge deal but it's too bad they're not there. Now the main issue. For some reason when they redid the animation they decided to switch it to widescreen (possibly to save the time and money it'd take to repair damaged film). This adds a little extra image (never before seen) to the sides of the screen although it's really nothing important, it also cuts a bit off the top and bottom of the image. This bit of missing footage has caused some fanboys on the net to go completely beserk. They need to get a life. Nothing really important is cut off, at least not 99.9 percent of the time. When you're watching the show it doesn't bother you in the least (unless you're one of those morons who is specifically trying to be bothered by it). Said whiners have been circulating a handful of image captures that don't look very good with the cut off parts. Can't argue with that. However, that's only several frames they're harping on. Unless you feel the strong desire to pause the DVD and stare at one of those frames for a while they're not that big of a deal.
So anyway, if you're a DBZ fan this is the DVD set to buy.

Well I'm off for now. See you wednesday!


2/16/2007 Surprise review

There's a new voter bonus comic up and a new ROM. And now, a totaly surprise review.

Kirby's Canvas Curse for the DS is one of those games I always wanted to get but never got around to. But I happened to see it for a good price when I was at Gamestop reserving Pokémon Diamond and I was in the mood to buy something so I picked it up.
Graphics: Canvas Curse is a nice looking 2D game although there isn't much about the graphics that really stands out. They're simple, colorful, and well animated.
Sound: The music is pretty nice and there's lots of different tunes so you won't get sick of hearing the same thing over and over. Sound effects are ok but I think they could have a bit more variety there. Still, no real complaints.
Story: Dreamland is attacked by an evil witch who turns the world into paintings. Kirby chases after her but she curces him, turning him into a ball (er, he's kinda a ball already but the curse takes away his arms and legs so all he can do is roll around). Fortunately, Kirby manages to get the witch's magic paint brush, which gives him a way to fight back.
Gameplay: Canvas Curse was one of the first full length DS games to really make good use of the touch screen (you do every except pause the game using the touch screen). As a ball, Kirby's movement is limited to rolling straight ahead. However, you can use the stylus to draw rainbow lines on the screen. These lines act as platforms and can block some enemy attacks but, most importantly, you can use them to navigate Kirby through the game's 22 levels (8 worlds with three levels each, except for the last, which has one). You can also tap Kirby to have him dash and tap enemies to stun them. When dashing Kirby can defeat most enemies on contact (or he can hit stunned enemies without dashing), some of which will give him powers allowing him to transform into Stone Kirby, Needle Kirby, and Wheel Kirby (among others) and giving him special powers. Difficulty ranges from easy to medium. It's never super hard but it's not too easy either and the levels are nice and varied. There's also the boss fights, which are handled a bit differently than normal. Aside from the final boss, there are three different types of boss fights which are actually mini-games of a sort. At the end of a world you get to pick which one you want to do (although once you beat one game it gets harder the next time).
Although it doesn't take all that long to play through the levels, there's a ton of unlockables. There's four mini-games (you play through them during the main game and can then unlock harder versions to play). The rest of the unlockables can be gotten by collecting medals and trading them in for a bunch of different things. Many of the medals can be find scattered through the various levels and some can be rather tricky to find and/or reach, others can be gotten by doing well in the mini-games, and completing the various rainbow road stages (which challenge you to replay parts of the levels in a limited amount of time or with limited paint). You can also grab a few by beating the game with other characters. Yep, other characters. Aside from Kirby, there's four other characters you can unlock. With all that stuff, there's quite a lot of replay value.
Overall: Kirby's Canvas Curse is a fun platformer that makes great use of the DS's touch screen. While it might not be quite as challenging as some, it's a lot of fun to play and all the extra modes, mini-games, and unlockables give you lots to do whether you have time to play for an hour or just several minutes. And, now that you can find it for only $20, it's a game that just about every DS owner should pick up.


2/14/2007 Meh...

There's a new ROM up.

Ever have one of those days when you just feel like you have no creativity at all? That's what I feel like right now. Not really sure why. Maybe I used up all my creativity in the morning when I was scrambling to get that last minute flyer redesign done for the club fair at school. Or maybe it just happens every once in a while. Either way, it doesn't help when it comes to writing an intersting news post...

Uh, the first Bobobo DVD came out yesterday. Unfortunately the store across the street from my school didn't have it in yet and I had a lot to do so I didn't want to take the time to drive somewhere else. I'll definately get it soon though.
Anything else? Hmm... Nintendo launched a surprise new Wii channel, a polling channel. Yeah, that's right. They ask questions, you answer them, and when the poll closes you find out what the most popular answer was. You can also predict which answer will get the most votes and see how often your answers match the most popular ones. Kinda pointless but I guess it could be amusing. Speaking of the Wii, sometime soon I really should buy another 1000 Wii points so I can download Castlevania IV and Kid Icarus.

Well, that's all I've got right now. See you friday!


2/12/2007 The dungeon that wouldn't end

As the risk of repeating myself (for the zillionth time) don't forget to vote and check out friday's bonus comic. There's a new ROM up too.

So, I'm still playing Final Fantasy XII (around 95 hours or so) and I'm in the next to last dungeon. Although, once I finish it, I still have a bunch of subquests to finish before going on to beat the game. Anyway, back to the next to last dungeon... It's long, really long. It's actually like several dungeons combined into one. Which wouldn't be quite so bad if the save points weren't spaced so far apart, or if there was an easier way to leave in the middle and come back. There are a couple points pretty early on where you can leave and then instantly return to but once you're passed them you've got two or three dungeons worth of stuff to fight through with no way to leave an no shops, which can be pretty bad when you happen to run out of a very important item (like say Phoenix Downs) even though you had a pretty large stock of them to begin with. (FYI: all in all, Phoenix Downs are probbably the best way to revive party members in FFXII.) Then there's that one section of the dungeon where you have to get through a teleporter puzzle while fighting off a bunch of monsters. That wouldn't be so bad except that if you make two mistakes you get transported to a area where you have to survive an endless supply of undead monsters until the doors open, which wouldn't be so bad if they didn't have the ability to nail all your party members with some pretty nasty status effects. When it comes down to it, the teleporter puzzle isn't all that hard so if you're careful you can probably avoid the trap room entirely. Problem is, there's a rather important item in that room so if you want to get it you'll have to fight through the trap room at least once. And then, when you finally get through all that, you're dumped right into a boss fight without even getting a chance to heal and save. That sucked, a lot. So did getting game over once in that trap room because of some extremely bad luck.

And that's all I have to say for now. Later!


2/9/2007 One down, one to go

The new bonus comic is up as is the new ROM. Also, if you missed the news posts on wednesday, Shauni has announced her own set of donation incentives and since donations for ROM count as donations for Pebble Version, and vice versa, it means you guys get even more stuff than ever before for donating! You can read more about Shauni donation incentives in her news posts.

So, there are two things this year I've been determined to get before fall. Well, actually there's quite a lot of things... There are two expensive things I've been determined to get before fall. That's a bit more accurate. So what are they? A PSP and a PS3. And why am I determined to get them before fall? Well, I'm studying to become a game designer and should know as much as I can about the various systems but mainly it's about the games. It took a long time but the PSP finally has several games that I really really want (most of which include the words Metal Gear in the title). And, while there isn't anything I want on the PS3 yet, there will be some absolute must haves later on. Anyway, I got a PSP yesterday (bought a barely used mint condition one from another guy at my school). Took most of my spending money, but I got the PSP, cable, case, and a 1gb memory stick for $130. Like I said, I wasn't really planning to spend most of that money any time soon but considering that I was planning to get a PSP anyway and that a new PSP (with a 1gb memory stick and a game and movie that I couldn't care less about) would cost me $250 plus tax, it was a deal that I really couldn't pass up. Unfortunately, I don't have any PSP games yet. I'll get some soon but I have plenty of games to play right now (still haven't finished Final Fantasy XII (at around 90 hours)) so I'm gonna wait on a PSP game until I've at least finished Final Fantasy III. Unless I get another really good deal, those can be hard to resist some times...

See you monday!


2/7/2007 <insert something interesting here>

There's a new ROM up. Plus, Shauni has announced her own donation inventives to go along with mine. Aside from the bonus comics she gives to everyone who donates $10 or more, she'll be doing things like wallpaper and ROM related stories and comics that everyone gets when the donation guage hits certain levels.

Some people pointed out that I had grammar spelled wrong in monday's strip (which, BTW, I've now fixed). They were right, it's spelled grammar, not grammer, although it's a fairly common mispelling and/or typo. While I probably should have caught that, I think most of the blame resides with my spell checker which seemed to think that spelling grammar as grammer was perfectly fine. Not that it's not important to know how to spell things yourself, but everyone makes mistakes from time to time which is why spell checkers are so useful.

And that's really all I have to say.


2/5/2007 It's about time

Friday's bonus comic is up, the new ROM is up, and all that usual stuff.

I'm finally caught up on pretty much everything. Not only do I not have to worry about getting all that stuff done, I also have time to do some of the less important things I've been putting off.
I also finally finished all the Pokémon related stuff I was working on. I already finished collecting all 386 Pokémon (complete with all the unevolved forms and all the unowns) a couple of months ago and last month I finished teaching my battle team all the right moves and getting them to level 100. And about a week ago I maxed out the PP for all their moves. And finally over the weekend I duped my collection (thank you Pro Action Replay) so I could have the complete set (plus my battle team) on both my Ruby and my Leaf Green cartridges. It's nice to finally be done (although I may spend a little more time doing contests in Ruby), plus it'll make it eaiser to import everything to Diamond/Pearl in a few months. BTW: Pokémon Box (which I borrowed from a friend) is extremely convenient if you want to transfer larges amounts of Pokémon between cartridges (works with Ruby/Sappire/Emerald, and Fire Red/Leaf Green). It's a Gamecube game and you hook up your GBA games with the GBA to GC link cable. In a nutshell, you can store up to 1500 Pokémon in Box and effortless transfer them between box and whichever GBA game you currently have hooked up. It you actually need the extra storage space, or just want to transfer Pokémon between cartridges without the hassle of trading, you may want to look online for a copy of Box. And, as a bonus you can get several Pokémon that learn moves that they normally wouldn't (like Pichu with Surf) and you can play R/S on your TV screen if you feel like it.

On a totally different topic, I'm watching another unliscensed anime (since it's legal and way cheaper than buying DVDs and I'm trying to save up for a PSP and PS3). There's some really great stuff that isn't available in the US yet. My current series is Akazukin Chacha. It's very vaguely based on the story of Little Red Riding Hood. In a nutshell, it's about several kids who go to magic school and their misadventures. It's a little old and knda meant for kids but it's also really funny regardless of your age.

Well, I'm off. See you wednesday!


2/2/2007 The Pebble Version Pokédex

The new bonus comic is up so vote and check it out! The new ROM is up too. Remember, the comic is back on the normal monday, wednesday, friday update schedule. I hope you enjoyed all the extra updates. If you want to bring them back next month all it takes is some donations.

Well, it took a while but the mystery donation gift is done! It's...The Pebble Version Pokédex! You can also find a link to it on the Cast Page. Speaking of which, I really should update the Cast Page soon... Anyway, the Pokédex has entries for all the pokémon that Brendan and May have caught. New entries will be added whenever a new pokémon is caught in the comic. Eventually I'd like to spiff it up a bit and add a fancier interface, maybe even with Flash, but that's another project for another time. And, speaking of future projects, going through all the old strips while remaking the pokédex entries really made me want to go back and remake both the strips that were done in Paint and the earlier Photoshop stuff too so they look as good as the current strips. I think I'll make that the new long term donation goal once the rest of Josiah's Sprite Comic Guide is finished.

And that's all for now. Have a good weekend!


1/31/2007 Rasp, rasp, rasp.

ROM is back! And the special mystery bonus? It's in progress. Not quite done yet. Sorry, I was really hoping to have it finished before the end of the month but stuff happens. It should be done in time for friday's update though. Keep in mind, there will be no new comic tomorrow (unless PV gets at least $50 in donations today). Hope you've enjoyed all the bonus content.

I've been watching Zegapain lately. It's a mech fighting anime that hasn't been liscensed for a US release yet. It's a very interesting series. It uses some plot elements that have appeared in previous shows and movies but takes a very different approach to them, especially in regards to how they affect the people involved. I'd give some more details but just about anything I say would spoil at least part of the plot. Anyway, it's a very intersting show, can really make you think at times, it can also be rather depressing... So while I like the show and I want to know what's going to happen (still have a few episodes to watch), I can't really say if I enjoy watching it or not. I mean, it's hard to enjoy something that's depressing...

Well, I'd better get going. See you friday! Oh, if you were wondering, the title has absolutely nothing to do with anything. It's just a random line from a game.


1/29/2007 Still behind or behind again?

The mystery donation gift should be up on wednesday. Meanwhile, you can check vote and check out friday's bonus comic if you want.

Well, this is the last day if you want to vote for my entry in the First Chapters contest. All you have to do is join Gather.com then read my entry then click on the star rating (right above the comment section after the end of the chapter) that you want to give my entry (10 being the best). Thanks to anyone to did vote. Unfortunately, they don't annouce who goes on to round 2 until April.

Sorry about the short news posts lately. I've just been busy with a few things. That should change by the end of the week or so. But for now, I gotta go and get caught up on Pebble Version strips again. Or maybe I should just say that I'm still behind so I need to keep trying to catch up. Either way, I have to go.

Later all!


1/26/2007 Only a few more days...

The new bonus comic is up so get voting. There's also a news post (but no comic) about ROM.

Only a few more days till the end of the month. That mystery donation surprise will be up either monday or wednesday so only a few days till that too. Keep in mind, unless Pebble Version gets a lot of donations in the next few days the comic will be reverting to the usual three days a week update schedule. Finally, my entry in the First Chapters contest is only going to be up through monday. If you haven't rated it, I'd really appreciate it if you did. All you have to do is join Gather.com then read my entry then click on the star rating (right above the comment section after the end of the chapter) that you want to give my entry (10 is the best).

In other news, my car is back from the shop and looks great. I'm still playing Final Fantasy XII. It's gotta be the longest FF game so far (not counting XI since that doesn't really have an end). I'm at around 75 hours so far and still have tons of stuff to do (both story and optional things). Not that I'm complaining, it's a fun game. But I got a lot of other things I'd like to play to so I hope I finish it soon.

And that's all for now. I'm a bit behind on PV strips thanks to all that sprite captruing I had to do. Enjoy the weekend!


1/24/2007 Sprites, sprites, and more sprites...

There's a new ROM is up. Keep in mind, there's only about a week left if you want to get in any donations this month to keep the bonus content coming.

And that's all I have to say. I've been capturing sprites for some upcoming Pebble Version strips and I'll still nowhere near finished.



1/22/2007 Sprite Comic Guide 4

Sorry for the late update. There was some sort of glitch with the ftp server that wouldn't let me upload the files.

Friday's bonus comic is still up there for everyone who votes if you haven't seen it yet (or if you just feel like voting again). New ROM too. Plus Josiah's Sprite Comic Guide 4 is done (three was finished on friday). You can find them all on the Extras page. And, with that there's only one more bonus item I need to do this month and that's the mystery bonus. Look for it sometime next week. Remember, if you want more bonus content next month you need to donate (you can read more about that below).

And that's all I have to say for now. Other than, if you haven't read friday and/or wedneday's news posts please do so.



1/19/2007 Sprite Comic Guide, writing contest, etc

As always, the new bonus comic is up so just vote if you want to see it. Naturally, there's also a new ROM comic for you to check out. Also, as promised, Josiah's Sprite Comic Guide Part 3: Creating Great Backgrounds is up! That only leaves Part 4 and the mystery surprise before I'm caught up on bonus content. Remember, if you want more of the same next month all you have to do is donate!

Some of you may have missed the special news post I put up yesterday so to summerzie (or more accurately to copy and paste)...
I've entered the First Chapters writing contest. Basically, it's a contest for unpublished writers with the winner getting a full publishing contract. In round one, which is going now, they post the first chapter of each contestant's book. Then people read said entries and give each one a rating from 1-10 (10 being the best of course). You can also leave comments on the various entries if you want to. If you want to join Gather.com (the place doing the contest) so you can rate the various entries (or even enter your own book) you can go sign up. And, after you've signed up, if you want to read and rate the first chapter of my book Shadow Blade you can do that right here. Bascially you read the chapter and then near the bottom of the page is a spot where you can click on the numbered star that matches the rating you want to give the entry and below that is a place to leave a comment if you want to. I'd love it if some of you guys took the time to read and rate my entry. It'll be up for around two weeks and then once every entry has been up for 14 days (Around mid March) the highest ranked entries will move on to round 2. But more on that later, if I make it.

That's all for now. Have a great weekend!


1/18/2007 First Chapters Writing Contest

Special news update! I've entered the First Chapters writing contest. Basically, it's a contest for unpublished writers with the winner getting a full publishing contract. In round one, which is going now, they post the first chapter of each contestants book. Then people read said entries and give each one a rating from 1-10 (10 being the best of course). You can also leave comments on the various entries if you want to. If you want to join Gather.com (the place doing the contest) so you can rate the various entries (or even enter your own book) you can go sign up. And, after you've signed up, if you want to read and rate the first chapter of my book Shadow Blade you can do that right here. Bascially you read the chapter and then near the bottom of the page is a spot where you can click on the numbered star that matches the rating you want to give the entry and below that is a place to leave a comment if you want to do that. I'd love it if some of you guys took the time to read and rate my entry. It'll be up for around two weeks and then once every entry has been up for 14 days the highest ranked entries will move on to round 2. But more on that later, if I make it.

Well, that's it for now. Hope you enjoy reading my contest entry and be sure to give it a good rating if you do like it!


1/17/2007 Carless in Arizona

There's a new ROM up. The new ROM The Novel chapter is up too, just like I promised. And I'm planning to have at least one of the remaining Sprite Comic Guides finished for friday. I hope you've been enjoying all the bonus content and extra updates this month. Want every month to be like this? Remember, the more donations PV recieves every month the more bonus stuff you guys get the following month. You can read more about it in the donation info section below. Plus, if you donate $10 or more you'll get Shauni's latest set of bonus comics as well.

I took my car into the shop yesterday morning (see friday's news post for the reason) and I already miss it. I ended up having to go to school a couple hours early and then walk home to avoid having to sit around for another couple hours, since my brother's schedule is completely different than mine (he has his own car but goes to a different college). Well, it'll be an intersting week. Or couple of weeks if I'm unlucky...

Now a couple comments about my new laptop... The whole widescreen thing is cool but takes some getting used to. FileShare is an awesome program that lets you easily sync files between multiple computers and it's totally free. Finally, Dell's customer service is awesome. Their choice of parts not always so much though... But I've had nothing but positive experiences with their customer service. For example there was the time when the shipping company lost the new leptop battery I had ordered and Dell sent out a new one immediately to replace it. Then there was their handling of some problems I had when I ordered my new computer (Customer Service is awesome, the sales rep I had on the phone not so much...), quick, easy, no problems at all. Finally there's this latest thing. I was having trouble buring and reading DVD+Rs with the drive in my new computer. After doing some net searching I found the general opinion to be that this type of drive (a very obscure Phillips model) just plain sucks and lots of people have problems with them. But after a few minutes chatting with a Dell support person online, he agreed to send me a different drive as a replacement. So yeah, really poor choice of DVD drive (although the rest of the hardware is great) but awesome support.

Well I'm off. Later!


1/15/2007 Running late

Remember to vote and see friday's bonus comic. You may also want to take a look at the new ROM.

Well, I'm running kind of late at the moment so I'll keep this brief. The new ROM The Novel chapter will be up on wednesday. That's all I have to say for now. Have a good holiday (at least those of you in the US).



1/12/2007 Always more to do

As always, don't forget to vote and see the new bonus comic and to check out the latest ROM comic.

I'm doing today's update on my new laptop. It took a while but I have pretty much everything copied over and set up the way I want. Well, for now anyway. It's still gonna take some getting used to though and I'll probably be tweaking things for quite a while. If I had known I'd be getting my new computer so soon, I wouldn't have left so many of my CD-ROMs back home in CO. Oh well, all my really important programs are here with me.

One week into my internship and it's ok so far. Wednesday was pretty boring since I was just working through some practice stuff but thursday wasn't too bad. It's not game design but it'll work for now since I need the credits to graduate and all. Just to give me more to do this week, as if I didn't have enough to do what with school and the computer and a few other things, and waste a bunch of money, someone hit my car while I was in school and drove off without leaving a note or anything. It still runs fine but some pretty serious damage was done to the rear bumper and the metal above it so I'll to take it in for repairs. Now if it was in the school parking lot I may have been able to find out who did it. There's cameras and I could have walked around and looked at the other cars for a couple of days. Problem is, my school is building dorms right now and part of that process involves tearing up the old parking lot. On the plus side, we got permission to part in the huge store parking lot across the street. On the down side, that means I have very little chance of finding out who hit my car. Could have still been a student but it might have just been a shopper and either way the parking lot is way too large to search.

Anyway, I'm hoping to be more or less caught up on everything by sunday or monday so expect more bonus content soon. Have a good weekend!


1/8/2007 Thoughts on Eragon

There's a new ROM today. I also added a new comic to the link exchange.

Well, looks like I'm going to be doing my internship at my school. Not all that exciting but it has its pluses, convenience mainly. Not sure what else I'm gonna do. I might take a couple classes just for fun (I don't need any more credits) or I might try to get a part time job and save up some extra money. Either way though, I don't want to take on too much. I could use a nice easy semester.

Since I just got back to AZ today, I'm gonna keep this short. But I did promise some comments on Eragon and now that I've read the book and seen the movie it seems like a good time to do that.

Eragon the book: I've always been kinda curious about Eragon, since it was written by a teenager. Afterall, I started writing seriously in my teens too. He had a significant advantage over me though, since his parents owned a publishing company and all. Anyway, about the book... It was good. Not great but good. The basic plot isn't bad, the characters are pretty well developed, and it has a really neat idea or two buried inside. On the downside, it's a bit generic and cliche at times (not that that's always a bad thing, a bit unoriginal but not neccessarily bad), some of the character names sound kinda dumb (at least in my opinion), and if you've read a lot of popular fantasy you'll probably notice a lot of elements that sound that they were borrowed from other series (although they might not have been, people do come up with the same ideas every now and then).
With all that said, I did enjoy the book. However, I have to say that it's overrated. Aside from the extremely high sales, I've heard plenty of people hailing it as a great fantasy masterpiece. My question to those people is "Have you read any other fantasy series?" Like I said before, as a teen fantasy novel Eragon is pretty good. As an epic fantasy it's not bad either (certainly better than a couple of other epic fantasy novels I've read). But I've read plenty of both teen fantasy series and epic fantasy series that are better in every way. Don't get me wrong, Eragon is a perfectly good book but it's certainly not the best thing since Lord of the Rings of Harry Potter and anyone who thinks so probably needs to read some of the other stuff that's out there.

Eragon the movie: As I've no doubt stated before, I hardly ever like movies that are based on books that I've read. Eragon was unfortunately no exception. For one thing, at only 1:40 the movie was pretty short considering the length of the book. To fit everything in that time frame, nearly all traces of character development were stripped out, leaving many of the main characters with annoying and inconsistent personalities. The backstory was also heavily simplified, some very important characters were dropped, others were barely mentioned, and some very important events were drastically changed for no apparant reason.
When it comes to movies based of books there are some (such as the Harry Potter movies, which I hate with a passion) that I probably would have liked if I'd never read the books (since I wouldn't know how badly they'd screwed up and how awesome the books were). Unfortunately, I can't even say that about Eragon. Not with the lack of character development and the lousy character personalities.
In a nutshell, aside from some nice special effects and scenery, the Eragon movie wasn't done very well and I can't recommend it whether you've read the book or not.


1/5/2007 Castlevania: PoR

There's a new bonus comic for everyone who votes and a new ROM up. Part 2 of Josiah's Sprite Comic Guide is up (see wednesday's new post for more about that). One more thing, I'm planning to drive back to AZ on sunday so, depending on how things go, monday's update may end up being a little late. Now for that review...

Castlevania: Potrait of Ruin is the latest 2D Castlvania game, following the excellent Dawn of Sorrows on the DS. It also came with an awesome preorder bonus pack. Unfortunately, unless you want to hit up ebay, it's a bit late to get that.
Graphics: If you've played Dawn of Sorrow, suffice it to say that Potrait of Ruin's graphics are pretty similiar, quality wise, with a few small but noticable improvements here and there. For those who haven't played DoS, PoR features some of the best looking sprites and 2D backgrounds that I've seen in a long time. Everything looks really good. No complaints at all. However, fans of the series should know that PoR has a new concept artist. It isn't too noticeable, a few of the new monsters look a touch strange, and the character potraits has a decidedly anime look to them, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your personal preference. My only real complaint is that I think the new designs for Death and Dracula look a little weird.
Sound: Music is the usual catchy Castlevania stuff, combining remixes of classic themes with some good new stuff. Sound effects are very well done too. There's some voice acting in there as well, not a lot but more than in DoS. Plus, it's in english this time (unlike DoS). However, there's a hidden option to switch to Japanese if you don't like the english voices.
Story: All the violence and bloodshed from WWII has caused Dracula's Castle to reappear in the world. But Dracula himself doesn't seem to be running the show. Instead a new vampire has taken over, using a collection of magical paintings to increase his power. Vampire hunter Jonathen Morris (a relative of the Belmont family and current wielder of the legendary whip Vampire Killer) and his friend Charlotte (a powerful young magician) are summoned to investigate. While Castlevania games never have really complex stories, this was does have a few more twists than average and you get to find out some intersting things about the Morris family and Vampire Killer.
Gameplay: Castlevania games (well, all the newer ones anyway) revolve around the player exploring a large castle. Along the way you'll run into quite a lot of areas that you won't be able to reach at first but as you continue to progress, defeat bosses, and gain new powers new areas will gradually open up (like in DoS, PoR allows you to display the area map on the top screen which is really convenient). Naturally, you'll be killing about a million monsters along the way. You'll end up with a large collection of weapons, spells, and special attacks. The games also use an RPG style level system (kill monsters, earn EXP, level up, get stronger).
PoR mixes up the formula a bit by giving you control of two characters. Jonathen can use tons of different weapons from swords to whips and will also amass a large collection of special sub-weapons. These sub-weapons include classic Castlevania stuff like the knife and bible along with a lot of new stuff, even better, they gain experience when used can eventually be mastered to increase their strength. Charlotte attacks by conjuring objects from books and learns lots of different spells, many of which can be charged up to deal extra damage. Jonathen and Charlotte can also combine their powers to perform special Dual Crush attacks. Charlotte and Jonathen gain experience and level up at the same time. They also share an HP and MP guage. You can switch between them at any time or even have them both on the screen at once, with the second chracter following whoever you're controlling and helping you fight (although if your partnet gets hit you lose MP so there is some risk involved).
There's some pretty cool puzzles that require using both characters to get past certain areas (although not enough in my opinion). The castle in PoR is actually rather small campared to other Castlevania games but that's because you'll be spending most of your time exploring the worlds inside the magical paintings scattered throughout the castle. When you combine the castle and all the painting worlds there's actually quite a lot of ground to cover. Unfortunately, some of the areas seem like they could use a little more puzzle solving and a little less fighting but the level design is still pretty good. There's also something new to do, quests. There's a whole bunch of optional quests in PoR, many of which give pretty good rewards upon completion. Quests including killing rare monsters, tracking down some hard to find items, and learning how to perform special moves, among others, and are a nice addition. PoR also has some great boss fights, just wait till you see the next to last one...
If the main game (complete with two endings) isn't long enough for you there's plenty more to do. Aside from the usual Boss Rush (now with three different courses) and Sound Test, there's a lot more to do. Hard mode is back but it now lets you choose between several level caps to make things even more challenging. Even better, you can gain special items and bonuses for clearing the game with different level caps. And if that still isn't enough, you can unlock to the option to play through the game with seven optional characters (two different teams of two and one single character), each one plays very differently from the others and includes normal and hard modes.
Overall: Although the level design isn't quite as good as some of the other games in the series (although it's still pretty good) everything else is top notch and the new two player system and quests are great additions to the series. Plus, with all the different modes and characters the replay value is through the roof. This is without a doubt one of the best Castlevania games out there. Fans of the series (and fans of classic platformers and/or exploration games like Metroid) owe it to themselves to play Potrait of Ruin.


1/3/2007 Sprite Comic Guide Part 2

There's a new ROM up. Yesterday's comic was a bit late since I'm not used to the whole five strips a week schedule yet so if you missed it just click on the Previous Comic link. If you haven't heard yet, PV is updating five days a week (mon-fri) all month.

If you didn't read monday's news post you probably should. It'll tell you about the bonus content for the month, both what's already been completed and what's coming later on. Speaking of bonus content, Josiah's Sprite Comic Guide Part 2: Finding and Collecting Your Sprites, is finished. You can find all the Sprite Comic Guides on the Extras Page. I was going to talk about editing sprites in this one too but it ended up pretty long as is so I decided to save editing for later on. Parts 3 and 4 will be coming soon.

That's all for now. Look for the Castlevania review on friday.


1/1/2007 Happy New Year! UPDATE

UPDATE: Sorry about the late update today. The comic was done my but my brain was still stuck on the three days a week schedule. I'll try not to let it happen again.

Happy New Year everyone! Please remember to vote, since it's a new month and all, and check out the new ROM. Also keep in mind that PV will be updating five days a week all month! As for the other donation bonuses, the commentary for strips 41-60 is complete and the new Zelda Page is up. Look for the ROM The Novel chapter, sprite comic guides, and mystery bonus in the not too distant future.

Well, I gotta run. I'm updating this a little early cause I'll be at a New Years party tonight. So happy holidays, happy new year, and happy birthday to me!


12/29/2006 Get ready for monday

There's a new bonus comic and all you have to do to see it is click on the Top Web Comics banner or button and answer the question to confirm your vote. There's a new ROM up too.

Several things happen monday. First off, it's a new month so be sure to vote and get Pebble Version off to a good start. Second, it's my birthday! I'll be turning 22. Finally, and most importantly for PV fans, Pebble Version will be updating five days a week (mon-fri) for the entire month! That means a new PV comic on each of those days. News posts, however, will continue updating three times a week, unless I've got something really important to say. ROM will stick to the three day schedule too. There will also be a lot of bonus content being added to the site throughout the month. Bonus stuff includes: commentary on a bunch of old strips, the next chapter of ROM The Novel, a new full page Zelda comic, the next three parts of Josiah's Sprite Comic Guide, and a secret surprise. Some of it will be showing up on the first, the rest we go up at various times throughout the month.

So there's a couple of programs on my computer I want to uninstall. Should be simple, right? Normally yeah. But, for some reason the uninstall for those programs only work if you put in the original installation CDs. Problem is, I don't have the CDs on me right now. And, when it comes down to it, why would I? I can run the programs and use all their features without the CDs so why the heck should I have to use the CD to uninstall them. I really can't think of any good reason for the uninstall not to get put on the hard drive with the rest of the program. It might cut a MB or two off the size of the program but when the you're talking about a 500MB program who cares? The whole thing is just a big inconvenience.

Well, see you monday. Look forward to it!


12/27/2006 Today's post brought to you by Dragon Ball Z Budokai Tenkaichi 2

There's a new ROM today. Oh, speaking of that comic... For the record I'm actually a pretty good cook when I have the time to cook stuff. Oh, if you've noticed the new mew sprites, those were made for me by long time forum member Silver. On a related note, I updated the contributers page.

And that's all I have to say. I was playing DBZ Budokai Tenkaichi 2 on my Wii and just kept saying "one more fight" for way too long. Fun game though. I'll talk more about it soon. Also, look for a review of Castlevania Potrait of Ruin in the near future.


12/25/2006 One week...

Friday's bonus comic is there for everyone who votes. There's a new ROM too.

Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it! I don't (I celebrate Chanukah, which just ended), but if you do I hope you have a good one.

One week till what? Several things actually. For example, a week from today it will be 2007. It will also be my 22nd birthday (yep, my birthday is New Years). Also, it will be the start of January when all those donation bonuses will be kicking in. If you want to know more about that you can read the old news or wait a few days and read about it when I go over the details again.

And that's all for now since I'm working on said bonus stuff. See you wednesday!


12/22/2006 Getting ready

The new bonus comic is up as is the new ROM. There's lots of bonus stuff coming in January so I'm probably going to be keeping these news posts kinda short for a while so I have more time to work on that bonus stuff.

So, my vacation in FL... I may put up some pictures once I'm done sorting and editing them but for now I'll just talk a little. My brother really wanted to go to a conference in FL right after school got out. I wasn't too interested in the conference but it gave me a good opportunity to go to Disney World, something I haven't done since I was a little kid. Besdides, all the Kingdom Hearts certainly put me in a Disney mood. While I was down there I went to MGM, the Magic Kingdom, and Epcot. It was great. I haven't had that much fun in ages. I gotta say, Disney really does things right. They know how to pick really good employees, they've got a great eye for detail, and they know how to put on one heck of a show. All the parks are very well designed and it's easy to just relax and enjoy yourself. Of the three I visited: MGM has a couple killer thrill rides and a lot of cool stunts and behind the scenes stuff; Magic Kingdom has a lot of fun rides (although not many really fit in the "thrill" catagory) and really brings out the "Disney magic" in full force; Epcot has Future World which has a few awesome rides and some cool exhibits and shows, plus there's the World Showcase which could easily take a full day (or maybe two) to fully explore with areas dedicated to a variety of countries that include shops, rides, shows, and the like, plus lots of awesome food from all over the world. Anyway, I had a great time at Disney World and I definately want to go back when I get the chance. You know what they need though? A Kingdom Hearts park. Just think about it, some of the Disney movies have their own rides but there aren't really any recreations of the movie worlds. They could pick the most popular worlds from Kingdom Hearts and make them into a park. There's lots of rides they could do (a Gummi Ship roller coaster would be awesome), not to mention shows and merchandising.

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


12/20/2006 Going home

Friday's bonus comic is still up. The new ROM is up too.

Unfortunately, thanks to some iffy weather, I ended up spending last night in Utah instead of driving all the way to CO (which I'll be doing today), so I don't have time to chat. However, if you missed the big announcement on monday I recommend you scroll down and read it. I'll talk more friday.


12/18/2006 Wow!!!

If you haven't voted and seen friday's bonus comic yet there's no time like the present. Also, to make up for friday's e-mail problems, there's two new ROM comics today (just hit previous comic on the ROM page to see the one that was supposed to go up on friday)!

Now, I'd like you all to look at the donation guage beneath this news post. Yes that's a shiney blaziken. No, that number is not a mistake. Caught me offguard too. Looks like you guys are going to be getting a ton of bonus content in the near future. It's my pleasure to announce that during January Pebble Version will be updating with brand new strips five days a week (mon-fri). News posts, however, will retain the current mon, wed, fri schedule unless I have something really important to say. Also during January you'll get commentary on the next batch of old Pebble Version strips, the next chapter of ROM The Novel, a new Zelda page, and a secret bonus gift or two. But wait, there's more! Over the next month or two you'll also receive Josiah's Sprite Comic Guide Parts 2, 3, and 4! In case you're curious, part two is about getting and editing sprites, part 3 is making backgrounds, and part 4 planning and laying out a strip. Special thanks to two very generous fans in particular. I don't know if you'd like it if I listed your names so I won't but you know who you are. Thanks guys, it really means a lot and that money will help keep PV up and running for quite some time.

Well, I really need to get going. Wednesday's update may be a little late since I'll be traveling again but things should calm down after that and I'll have time to tell you all about my vacation. Oh, speaking of traveling, to those of you who have sent me e-mails lately, thanks for writing. I have read them but I won't have time to reply until I'm back in CO so look for responses on thursday or friday at the latest.


12/15/2006 Made it to FL

There's a new bonus comic and, uh, no ROM. I never got an e-mail from Shauni. Not sure if something happened on her end or if it just got lost in the mail but if I get it in the near future I'll upload it. If not, it'll be up on monday I suppose.

I made it to FL ok but it's like 1 AM here now and I need to get up around 7 so that's all I have to say. See you monday!


12/13/2006 Vacation is coming...

There's a new ROM today. FYI: updates may be a bit early or late for the next week or so because I'll be traveling around and my internnet connection may be a little iffy. Oh yeah, I'm still having a little trouble getting my spam filter configured the way I want it. I don't think I've deleted any real mail but if you wrote me and haven't heard back within a week, you might want to resend. Also, if you do e-mail me, maybe stick Pebble Version or ROM or something like that in the title to make sure it sticks out from the spam.

Once today is done I should be finished with school for the semester. Actually yesterday was my last day of classes but I have one last final project I have to finish today. Then tomorrow I'm off on vacation. First off I'm going to FL with my brother since he wants to go to a conference in Orlando. I'm not all that interested in the conference but I'm gonna take the opportunity to go to Disney World. Haven't been there since I was a little kid and I'm looking forward to it. Then it's back home to CO to visit my family for a couple weeks. After that, well, I'm still working out the details. I have several possibilities I'm working on though so I have made some progress. I might be back in AZ for one more semester, might be in CO, might be somewhere else entirely. Hopefully it'll all be straightened out soon. Speaking of vacations, I was gonna hold a guest comic contest for the time I'm down in FL but with all that computer trouble I was having last week I forgot to annoucne it so I guess I'll just do normal comics the whole time. So you guys are either lucky (you'll be getting more normal PV strips) or unlucky (you don't get to enter a guest comic contest), depends how you look at it I guess.

I started reading Eragon. Not because I lack reading material (I have plenty of stuff to read) but because I know I'm going to end up seeing the movie in the not too distant future and I want to read the book first so that when I go to the theater I can spend the entire time complaining about how badly they screwed things up. Well, not that I want to spent the whole time complaining about it, but that's what usually happens when I watch a movie based off a book I've read. Anyway, I'll try and comment on the book itself once I'm finished.

Have a good vacation! I'll see you on friday.


12/11/2006 Lateness

Friday's bonus comic is up if you haven't seen it yet and the new ROM is up.

Sorry about the slightly late update. Don't really have a good reason this time. I was working on strips and I got caught up in that and just forgot to update the site.


12/8/2006 Surviving disaster

As I'm writing this, the new bonus comic isn't up yet because Top Web Comics is down but I'll upload it once TWC is back up so by the time you read this it could already be up. There's a new ROM up too. Donations are off to a good start this month. Only $10 to go before reaching the first goal. Even better, Shauni is giving away three special bonus comics to everyone who donates $10 or more. You can find out more in the ROM news.

Well, I'd like to apologize for the lack of an update on wednesday. Unfortuantely, I didn't even get to post a news update to explain what was going on. See, I ran into some back luck monday afternoon when a file on my computer got currupted. Even worse, the currupted file completely took down Windows. And, since all my web editors, ftp stuff, and the like is on this computer, editing the site with another system would have been a major pain. So I spent the rest of monday and a good portion of tuesday and wednesay trying to fix it. First off, since I couldn't even get into safe mode to do something about the problem file I was having trouble figuring out how to fix it. I couldn't get into the recovery console either because of a glitch in my version of the Windows XP CD. I tried tons of things to get the problem fixed (without having to format my system, since despite my backups, I would have lost way too much stuff and it would have tkane forever to reinstall everything) and eventually pulled it off. Unfortunately, one the things I tried to fix the problem (one of the ones that didn't work) ended up causing more problems that gave me just as much trouble (if not more) than the first one. Sadly enough, knowing what I know now, I could have fixed the initial problem in about an hour without causing all the other problems I had alter on. Oh well, hindsight is always 20/20. Anyway, long story short I finally got my computer fixed wednesday night. However, a few of my programs got screwed up in the process (not many, thankfully) and I had to redownload a lot of updates and patches and stuff, which is what I spent a good chunk of thursday working on. The way things are now, the computer is fixed an nearly back to normal. There's still one program (that I know of) that developed some glitches during the whole process (fortunately, it's not a very important one and the glitches are minor, although slightly annoying) and a couple other things I need to reinstall but basically I'm back in buisness. Of course, with finals projects and my continuing search for an internship, among other things, this was one of the worst possible times for me to have serious computer problems so I'm behind on a bunch of stuff (which is why I didn't try to do a double update today, sorry). I'm just thankful my brother is here. If I hadn't had his computer to look things up and burn recovery disks on things would have been a lot harder.

Well, that's it for now. Have a good weekend.


12/4/2006 Whatever

It's a new month so please vote and get Pebble Version off to a good start (and you can check out friday's bonus comic while you're at it). There's a new ROM up too. Also, if you haven't heard, Shauni is giving away three special bonus comics to everyone who donates at least $10 to Pebble Version. You can read more about the comics in the ROM news.

Time for some random comments on various stuff. I'm still working on final projects. Got one big thing done but there's still two more plus some smaller stuff. The scenery is Final Fantasy XII is really great, especially the cities. The look and feel of the cities is great. I love the architecture and the crowded streets really make the places feel alive. The Wii is a great system. Gamecube compatibility is a nice feature (especially since it can also use GC controllers and memory cards) and the virtual console is fun, although they need to hurry up and add more games, none of the stuff I really want is on there yet. The Wii controller is great too. Trauma Center is a lot of fun on it although some of the operations are really hard. Eyeshield 21 is a pretty good anime (it's about football, the American kind, not soccer) even if you're not a sports fan. It's not out in the US though, but the manga is. Speaking of anime, the english dub of Rurouni Kenshin isn't all that good, good thing the DVDs are dual language. And why did they add those new characters to the anime (an old guy and a couple little girls)? I mean, I don't really mind when the anime tries to do things different than the manga (as long as they do a good job), but those three serve no real purpose. They sit there and the girls look cute and, well, that's about it actually. Come to think of it, I need to get the last three or four Kenshin graphics novels...

Ok, that's enough for now. See you wednesday!


12/1/2006 December already?

There's a new bonus comic up so vote and take a look. There's a new ROM too. Speaking of which, starting this month Shauni is running a special donation incentive. You can read more about it in the ROM news. But, just so you know, all donations to ROM count as donations to PV and vice versa so you're really donating to both comics at once and donations count towards both the ROM and the PV donation inventives. Not bad, huh?

Hard to believe it's already december. Time sure can fly... I did say I was gonna come up with something intersting to talk about today. And, true to my word, I thought of several intersting things to talk about. Too bad I don't have time to actually talk about them. Guess it can't be helped with finals and all. Just started a couple of pretty major projects this week and I've got more lined up for the next couple weeks too. Hopefully I've have a bit more time next week.


11/29/2006 The finals begin...

There's a new ROM today.

I've officially started working on final projects. Fun, fun, fun. Well, I can't really complain, I got a lot to do but this semester isn't anywhere near as bad as some of my past ones. Kinda odd to think that this will most likely be my last semester... I'm planning to do an internship early next year (haven't found one yet but I should soon) and after that... Well, I have some ideas but it's really too early to say for sure. It'll be intersting, that's for sure.

Looks like I don't have much to talk about today. Guess I'd better think up something interesting for friday...


11/27/2006 Oh yeah...

Yet again, don't forget to vote and see friday's bonus comic. Check out the new ROM too. Also, if you feel like donating, there's only $15 to go before the first donation goal for the month is reached. If it's met then you guys will get a chapter of ROM the Novel and commentary on a bunch of old strips.

Uh, oops... I just realized it but I got caught up working on another project last week and forget to finish this week's PV strips. So yeah, I'm gonna go work on that now. See you wednesday.


11/24/2006 Plenty to do

Not that I really need to say this, but there's a new bonus comic and a new ROM comic. Also, only a few more days left if you want to donate this month. It helps me pay Pebble Version's hosting costs and, when the various donation goals are met, you guys get lots of bonus content.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving (or at least everyone in the US). My break was too short to go home (just two days off) so I went to my school's Thanksgiving event. It was fun, not that same as being home though. Oh well. I have plenty of homework to keep me busy. I need to get started on final projects soon and all that type of stuff.

Well, that's about all I have to say for now. If you plan on going shopping early this morning, good luck.


11/22/2006 Oops...

Hmm... Looks like for monday's update although the strip got put up in the archives it didn't get updated on the main page. Can't believe I didn't notice that sooner. Surprised I didn't get any e-mails about it either. Maybe everyone read my newspost and assumed I was too tired to do the comic. Or maybe people did e-mail me, I've been tweaking my spam filter a bit since the server switch so I might have missed some message. Sorry if I did. Anyway, if you didn't see monday's strip just click the previous comic link above and take a look. So, back to today, the new ROM is up.

Been playing with my new Wii a little. Over all, I'm impressed. Not that I didn't know what to expect after E3 and all. Anyway, the controller works great, although it can take a little getting used to in some situations. In others though, you'll pick it up almost instantly. Let's see, the system interface is nice and has lots of features although a few of them seem rather pointless (for example, how many people are really gonna want to send e-mails over their Wii instead of, say, a computer with a keyboard? Gamecube games seem to work fine, although I haven't spent a lot of time testing them.. Haven't heard about any problems though so I don't expect any.
Wii Sports, the pack in game, is fun and makes for a good into to the new controller. It's not all that deep but hey, it's a free game so there's no reason to complain.
I got Zelda Twilight Princess but I'm saving that until after I finish Final Fantasy XII so it'll be a while before I get to it. However, I also picked up Trauma Center Second Opinion. It's a remake of Trauma Center Under the Knife on the DS complete with a couple of new moves, some new operations, better graphics, etc. In a nutshell, you're a surgeon who has to perform a variety of operations. There's some fairly well thought out characters and a whole story about a new strain of disease too. I've been playing it a little here and there (it works well both in short spurts and long sessions). Although some people were wondering if you'd get enough percision with the Wii remote in place of the DS stylus, it actually works really good. The game is a blast to play. Highly recommended if you're looking for Wii launch titles.

Well, that's it for now. Oh yeah, if anyone with a WIi wants to swap Wii numbers and Miis either e-mail me or stop by the forums and take a look at the video games section.


11/20/2006 Whee!

Friday's bonus comic has been up since friday afternoon in case you missed it with that whole late update thing. And today's ROM is up.

So, I spent saturday night waiting in line for a Wii. Although the line did totally fill up shortly before the store opened, it was pretty short for a while. Compared to my last couple of camping attempts, this one went pretty smoothly. Several of my friends from school were there as well and we played DS games and Apples to Apples for a large part of the night. There was a Circle K open 24 hours a day about a two minute walk from the Target where we were waiting, which was really convenient. And Target actually knew what they were doing. Plus they didn't steal any systems, not that it would have made a huge different to me since I was number 16 of 81 in the line. So all in all it was a fun night and I have to say, it sure is nice actually walking home with something at the end, as opposed to grumbling about how line crashers or store employees stole my system.

I'd talk about the Wii itself but I'm really tired so I'll do it later this week.


11/17/2006 The universe hates me

New bonus comic, new ROM, and all that. Also, Pebble Version needs to pay its hosting fees so any donations would be greatly appreciated.

Well, maybe not the universe but retails stores sure do seem to hate me. Quick run down on my quest for a PS3 (which bore a few too many similiarities to my attempt to get a Wii preorder which you can read about in the old news). First off, although I was ready for the number of people that would be trying to get one, I underestimated the number of said people that were willing to ditch school, work, and the like to line up one or more days (days as in 24 hour periods) in advance. Because of that, most of the stores I visited already had as many people (if not more) waiting in line as they did systems. In the end, I did find a Best Buy that still had a little room. Sure I was near the back of the line but they had posted a sign with how many systems they were going to be selling (the employees also varified the numbers) and there would be one for me and a couple more for the people behind me. Like at Toys R Us, the store was pretty unorganized. Fortunately, unlike Toys R Us, the people in the line did a pretty good job of policing things themselves which kept the occasional line crasher from sneaking in. So I wait, and wait, and wait and then when they're finally handing out the tickets about an hour before the systems go on sale, they cut the line off at the person right in front of me. Seems several of the systems mysteriously "disapeared". I asked an employee what happened to them and he said it was a corperate decision not to sell them then quickly went back inside the store. Yeah sure, I guess some Best Buy employee is going to be walking off with my PS3. I mean, it's annoying enough that they took some but at very least they could have announced the "modified" numbers and put them on the sign. At least that way I and the people behind me could have avoided waiting hours upon hours for nothing, not to mention losing any tiny chance we had at finding a spot at another store.


11/15/2006 Preparing for the weekend

The new ROM is up. Well, I hope you enjoyed the last few comics, and the introduction of yet another group of mystery characters. Well, everything will be revealed eventually. For now, it's time to get back to Brendan and May, they have quite a lot of intersting challenges coming up in the very near future.

Oh yes, announcement time. Friday's comic is going to late. I generally post new around 11 PM Mountain time, give or take an hour ot two. This friday though, I probably won't get a chance to post until mid to late friday morning. See, I plan to spend most if not all of thursday night camping for a PS3. I'll be as prepared as possible and get there way early but there's still some luck involved, so here's hoping. Anyway, comic will be late. There's a chance it might not go up at all, if I end up falling asleep or something when I get back, but I'll do my best to get the comic up, even if it is a bit late. As far as the camping goes, I'll be spending some time tomorrow preparing for things and then come thursday it's camping time. I'll let you know how it went either on friday (if I'm awake enough) or on monday. And good luck to any of you guys who are trying for a PS3, or a Wii for that matter. It's gonna be an intersting weekend.


11/13/2006 The forums return and Xenosaga III

In case you missed the announcement saturday night, the forums are back! Still working a few kinks out but they're up! And, as always there's friday's bonus comic to see if you vote (this one was inspired by the recent elections) and a new ROM. Now for that long delayed Xenosaga III review.

The Xenosaga series has had a rocky history. Originally planned to be something around six games, they instead decided to make it into a trilogy. Despite maintaining a deep and very intersting story throughout, the pacing and gameplay has been inconsistant throughout the series. The first game had decent gameplay, and lousy pacing and the second game has horrible game play and lousy pacing. But, as they say third time is the charm. Xenosaga III finally gets everything right.
Graphics: Xenosaga III keeps the more realistic art style that was introduced in Xenosaga II (as opposed to Xenosaga I's cute slightly deformed look). Graphically, III looks a like like II. The character models are a bit more detailed and some of the environments are a bit more intersting look at (plus there's hardly any graphics reused from the past games, which is a nice change compared to II).
Sound: The music is pretty consistant with the past games. It's good and appropriate although there aren't too many memorable tunes. Sound effects are nice. The voice acting is very good and it sounds like they kept most if not all of the voice actors from the past games. Only complaint is that some of the in battle voice clips are over used.
Story: Gee, not a whole lot I can say without spoiling things. Xenosaga III takes place one year after II ended. Shion has quite Vector and is working with a group called Scientia to investigate the Gnosis but soon she and the rest of the old gang get back together. You'll see a lot of familiar faces in Xenosaga III, along with a few new ones. I have to admit, it's nice to see some characters who were kinda shortchanged in the past getting larger roles in the main plot (such as Canaan and the Professor). Anyway, the story is great and the pacing is actually pretty good this time around. There's even an exhaustive database that gets updated over the course of the game which you can use to learn more indepth information about tons of stuff and review the events of the first two games. The game does a surprisingly good job of wrapping up the very complex story and answering most, if not all, of your questions while it also leaves a little bit open for a possible sequel.
Gameplay: I had no real problem with the gameplay in Xenosaga I, II on the other hand... Ugh... III brings back things like money and equipment for your characters and ESS's. Exploration is the typical RPG stuff, towns, dungeons, and all that with a handful of subquests and a couple optional bosses.
III still uses a skill tree (well, not much of a tree since there's only really one branch, although it's a major one) but unlike II each character's skill line is different this time around, giving the characters more variety. Although, you can also find some special items that make skills available for characters who can't normally learn them, in case you want to diversify a bit. You use the skill tree to get special attacks, ether spells, and stat boosts although you also get some by leveling up. Even your inactive party members gain 80% of the EXP and SP from battles so it's easy to switch characters whenever.
In battle, II's complicated combo and break systems are gone. You can still use the series signiture boost guage (which charges as you deal damage to the enemy) to give your characters extra turns but you'll probably be saving it for the new special attacks. These are unique to each character, and require a certain amount of your boost guage to use. In return they deal lots of damage and you gain bonus EXP, SP, and money for every enemy killed with a special attack (especially great in boss fights).
You'll also spend a lot of time battling in your ESSs (giant robots). Fortunately, it's a lot more fun here than it wan in II. You can choose new weapons, armor, special disks, and the like to customize your ES a bit and the battle have a lot more depth than the ones in II. ESSs can't boost anymore but they get anime awakenings instead which give them a temporary power up and let them perform ridiculously powerful special attacks (well, ridiculously powerful until you run into some of the later bosses).
Difficulty is pretty good. I only died once (during an optional boss fight I attempted way too early in the game) but I had plenty of tense moments, especially later one. Although the optional bosses are kinda wimpy, especially compared to the ones in the previous games. Plus, there's only two optional bosses this time around, there's a decent amount of sub-quests though (but not a ton). There's also a fun and fiarly challenging puzzle mini-game called Hakox. It reminds me a little of Lemmings and with some more levels could make a fun stand alone game.
Overall: Third time really is the charm. Xenosaga III is the best entry in the series by far with fun gameplay, decent pacing, and an awesome story with a well done ending. Too bad it took them so long to get it right. If you're a fan of the series III is a must play, even if you got turned off by all of II's problems. If you haven't played any of the other games, III's database should have enough information to catch you up on the story although you'll probably feel kinda lost for a while. In the end, Xenosaga III is a great game and now that they finally have a handle on the whole gameplay thing, I'm really hoping for a Xenosaga IV.


11/10/2006 The mysterious four UPDATE!!! RETURN OF THE FORUMS

UPDATE!!!  The forums are back! The switch to the new system is done and the forums are back online. There's still some kinks to work out and the new graphical style for the forums isn't done yet but hey, they work again and all the accounts, old threads, and the like are still there. Note: Returning users should take a look at the new thread I posted in the Forums section which goes over some of the changes compared to the old forums, the glitches I'm still fixing, and stuff like that.

There's a new bonus comic up so please vote and take a look. This one was inspired by the recent elections. Or, more specifically, the election ads. New ROM as well. So, Dragon, Master, Challenger, and Loser, any idea who they are? If not, well, you'll find out eventually.

I went to a Rolling Stones concery wednesday night with my dad and brother. We got there way too early and I didn't really like the opening band but the Stones were great. It's impressive that they can still move so well at that age. All in all, it was pretty cool.

Now, I did promise a review today but that concert ran pretty late so I'm kinda behind on Pebble Version stuff right now. The Xenosaga III review will be up on monday.

Enjoy the weekend!


11/8/2006 500 strips down, a heck of a lot more to go

New ROM today. Also, don't forget to vote. Still working on the forums. Haven't heard from my host for a few days but I hoping they'll be back up before the end of the week. Finally, there's some hosting fees associated with that server switch so PV could really use some donations. Remember, you get lots of cool bonus content for each donation goal reached. Even a couple dollars would help. You can read more about donating below this news post.

Anyway, here it is, the 500th Pebble Version strip (not counting guest comics, Blooper Reel Comics, or anything like that). Originally, I wasn't planning on introducing these characters (or the two that will be mentioned in the next strip) until much later in the comic but since this is the 500th strip and all I wanted to do something special instead of just checking up on some of the characters everyone already knows about. Ok, so I'm not exactly telling you who these guys are but after reading this and the next couple of strips you might be able to make a guess, or maybe not. Either way, I'm not telling who they are, I've been planning their appearance since the beginning of the comic so I don't want to spoil it. I'd say that you can feel free to discuss it on the forums but they're down right now so maybe not.
After 500 strips it looks like I'm not even half way through the game. Not that I'm complaining, I can't really recall ever seeing a particularily fast moving sprite comic. Thanks to everyone who has been reading Pebble Version all this time and to the people who just started recently too. Without great fans like you guys the comic never would have made it this far. I hope you guys all stick around for the next 500!


11/6/2006 499...

As always, remember to vote to see friday's bonus comic and to check out the new ROM. This will be the last we see of Brendan and May until sometime next week but I've got something interesting planned for the 500th strip so make sure to check it out on wednesday. Also come back on friday for a review of Xenosaga III.

So I started playing Final Fantasy XII. Haven't gotten that far yet but here's a few initial impressions. The graphics are awesome, as exptected, although the art style looks a bit closer to Vagrant Story than to a lot of the Final Fantasy games. The music is great too, although without Nabou Uematsu leading it up, aside from a few familiar FF tunes, it has a Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy Tactics feel to it (makes sense since it's the same composer). Voice acting is great. I'm really impressed with the city you start out in, aside from the great graphics, the way they handled the layout, sound effects, and NPCs makes it feel much more vibrant and alive than most of the towns and cities I've seen in other games (at least that's my opinion). As for the battle system and level systems, there's nothing wrong with them. Once again, the familiar FF feel isn't entirely there but the system is rather fun and requires a lot of strategy. And, for the most important part, I haven't gotten far enough to say a whole lot about the story but it's interesting so far. Look for more info once I've had time to play more.


11/3/2006 It's getting there

I sure am glad this week is alsmost over. Anyway, there's a new bonus comic and a new ROM. Also, if you're reading this, it means the server switch successfully completed. The forums aren't up quite yet but they should be soon. Also, to people who e-mailed me over the last few days, sorry it's taking me so long to reply. Things were just really hectic for me, but they're starting to calm down now so I'll get those replies sent out sometime over the weekend. Oh, one thing though. If you sent me an e-mail yesterday there's a chance it got lost during the server switch so you should probably resend it.

Well, I don't have time right now but, come next week, look for a review of Xenosaga III and some early impression of Final Fantasy XII. For now, enjoy your weekend!


11/1/2006 Just a little longer...

There's a new ROM today. And it's only one week till the 500th Pebble Version strip...

Ugh... This last week or so has just been a blur of work. My game project's presentation is today so after that things should finally calm down a bit (well, except for all that homework I put off to work on the game project). Although Tech Forum is this week too so between that and the rest of my homework I probably won't get much chance to relax until next week. Right now I'm just... Ugh, too much work in too little time. Doesn't help that I had to teach myself how to animate and texture in Maya (skills that have entire classes devoted to each of them at schol) in a very short period of time. In the end, we haven't gotten as much done for the presentation as I had originally hoped but considering all the setbacks we had recently, I think we've done a pretty impressive job.

Well, that's all for now. I need some sleep. Hopefully I'll get some time to actually play my new copies of Guild Wars Nightfall and Final Fantasy XII before too much longer...


10/30/2006 Lines and wasted time, Tips for people waiting line for game systems

Remember to vote to see friday's bonus comic. There's also a new ROM today. As for the forums, we're hoping to have them back up before the end of the week. Oh yeah, Pebble Version has some hosting costs coming up right around now so any donations would be greatly appreciated.

So, Toys R Us did their Wii and PS3 preorders yesterday. I figured I might as well go and see if I could get one or both. I plan to wait in line on launch day but there's no guarentee how that will go. Besides, if nothing else I figured it'd give me a good idea of what to expect come launch day (I've done the whole waiting in line for new game systems thing before but not in Phoenix). So I stuck a few things in my backup and headed out at around 1 AM sunday morning (right after the TV shows I was watching ended). While I wasn't expecting to be the first in line, I wasn't really expecting a whole lot of people yet either. Well, I was a bit off there. Although there's a lot more stores here than back home in CO, there's a lot more people too. At the first Toys R Us I checked the people already in line were keeping track of who was getting what and how many systems there were going to be. Turns out the person who would have been right ahead of me in line would get the last preorder so I headed off to a different Toys R Us (in a part of Phoenix called Mesa). There were also a decent amount of people there (one guy had been camping out since friday morning) but it was a bigger store so it was getting more systems and after talking to some people it looked like, if I stayed, I should get a Wii and maybe have a shot at a PS3. That brings me to... Tip 1: You can never start waiting in line too early. Try to show up at least 9 or 10 hours before the store opens, 12 or more is even better. So I set up and waited. Tip 2: Bring a jacket or coat. Even if you live in a warm area it can get cold. Fortunately, I had come prepared. Tip 3: Bring something to keep you entertained. Portable game systems, MP3 players, books, and computers are all good choices. However, be sure to take into account battery and any needed light source. Be friendly to the people near you in line as well, for many reasons. And there's also... Tip 4: Consider bringing a chair, blanket, and or pillow. You probably don't want to sit on the ground the whole time and it never hurts to grab a little sleep if you get the chance. Anyway, early in the morning a guy came around and asked everyone in line what they were waiting for, just to get a general idea. He said he'd come back later to get a more official headcount. At this point things weren't looking bad. It looked like the PS3s where taken but he told us how many Wiis they had and how many people ahead of me wanted them. Accorinding to him, I'd get one and so would a good chunk of people behind me in line. Unfortunately, he never returned to do that official headcount. Oh yeah, one more tip for the waiting. Tip 5: It's good to bring food and drinks but don't drink too much. Even if you have someone to save your place in line, there's no telling where you can find an open bathroom in the middle of the night. As it got light out more and more people started to show up. Surprsingly, a lot of the new comers were actually there for the new Tickle Me Elmo doll. Which was fine since the store had tons of those. Finally, right as the store was opening, the guy came out to hand out tickets to the people in line to make sure we got our preorders when we went inside. Now here's where the trouble started. First off, those tickets should have been handed out at least a couple hours before while things were still nice and orderly. With the store about to open though, lots of people where showing up and not all of them were going to the back of the line like they were supposed to. The single guy handing them out didn't do too much to keep things even and orderly. All in all, the organization at that Toys R Us was, on a 10 scale, about a 4 and this led to some serious problems. For one, some of those new people who had shown up right before the opening, tried to cheat and cut ahead in line. Some started up casual conversations with people near the front of the line and just kinda walked along with them when the line started to move, some just tried to blend into the crowd thanks to said lack of organization, and my part of the line were pretty sure we saw one guy bribing some one... Which leads up to... Tip 6: When the store is about to open, watch for people trying to cut in line or cheat the system. Also, if someone tries to slip in line near you (either by just sneaking in or by starting a conversation) don't let them. The people behind you have been waiting a long time too, it's not fair to them if you let someone cut in. There were a couple others problems too. For example, there looked to be at least one family waiting in line where everyone in said family grabbed a seperate ticket (little kids included). Unfortunately, you can't do a whole lot about stuff like that, except complain to the store since it's their job to keep things like that from happening. Finally, the number of tickets for Wii preorders that got handed out was three less than the number we were told there would be several hours before, most likely some store employees took those three for themselves. Once again, not much you can do except complain to the store about that type of thing.
In the end, thanks to the aforementioned problems, they ran out of Wii preorders a little before I got there leaving me, and a few people ahead of and behind me who had also been all but promised Wiis, feeling like we'd gotten cheated and wasted a whole lot of time (which is exactly what happened). I have to say, it was certainly a much different experience than the nice organized PS2 launch at the Target back home. When it comes down to it, stores are going to screw up and people are going to try and cheat and there's only so much you can do, aside from getting there as early as possible. Come the PS3 and Wii launches I'll definately be showing up as early as I possibly can plus I'll be keeping a much sharper eye out for cheaters.


10/27/2006 ...

There's a new voters' bonus comic and a new ROM up. The forums are, unfortunately, still down.

Ugh, right now staring at a computer screen is pretty low on my list of things I want to do so I'm gonna keep this fairly short. I'm still working on stuff for that game project I mentioned in wednesday's news post. Fortunately, said project will slow down a bit in another week or so. Which will leave me with just enough time to finish the big homework projects I've been putting off to work on this game... Anyway, staring at a computer screen all day gets old after a while. And it doesn't help when said computer keeps crashing (Thank you new software! I've always wanted programs that randomly crash and use tons of RAM even when they're not open! Or not...).

I did pick up my copy of Guild Wars Nightfall yesterday. And then I got to stare at the box while I continued working on my game project. Not that I could have done much anyway, although my copy arrived yesterday, the servers aren't going live until today. I wonder if they got their dates a little mixed up... Anyway, Nightfall could very well be the best Guild Wars yet and I'm really psyched about the new features. Having a lot of trouble trying to decide what kind of new character to create though. Although, I probably won't have a lot of time to play it for a while. For one I still have a few hours left in Xenosaga III and then there's the reason I'm trying to finish Xenosaga ASAP. I'm talking about the long awaited Final Fantasy XII which comes out tuesday. As eager as I am to play GW Nightfall, I've been waiting for FFXII for like five years so it'll probably get priority.

Wow, that ended up being longer than I planned. I should get going. Enjoy your weekend!


10/25/2006 No need for repititious titles

There's a new ROM up. The transition and forum upgrade aren't finished yet but I'll be sure to keep you updated.

Ok, I promise I'll stop with the 'no need' titles soon. Well, I don't have a whole lot to talk about since I've been spend most of my time working on my game project. With tech forum only a week and a half away there's a lot to get done before our presentation. So, at the moment, I'm doing a lot of texturing and some animating. Actually neither one of those is in my job description for the project (I'm designer, team leader, and writer) but I don't really have a problem filling in random postions, as long as they're something I can do. So yeah, I've spent a lot of time sitting in front of my computer and working on stuff while watching anime. I ended up buying that Witch Hunter Robin DVD set I couldn't get last week (I mentioned that in friday's rant). I also picked up a DVD set of a series called Haunted Junction. I wasn't planning on it but it was only $7 so I figured I might as well (actually, it turned out to be mislabled but they gave it to me for that price anyway).
Robin is a series I've already seen. It's kind of a detective series with a supernatural twist. It's pretty serious and a little dark but very good. I've also been watching Ouran Highschool Host Club. It's not out in the US yet (the manga is but the anime hasn't been liscensed). Since there's no english dub, it's not something I can watch while doing any really serious work. Anyway, Ouran is a comedy (you might be able to call it a romantic comedy but I don't know if there's really enough romance in it for that qualification) about a host club. How to describe a host club... It's basically a high school club version of a a host bar which is more or less where girls (or guys depending on the bar) go to hang out with cute emplyees of the opposite gender (and probably spend a whole lot of money on drinks). Or something like that. Note, a host bar is nothing like a strip club. It's for hanging out, talking, and playful flirting. Or at least that's the impression I get from the various anime and manga I've seen since I haven't actually been to one. So yeah, the series is about several guys (and one girl pretending to be a guy) who make up the Ouran High School Host Club. It's pretty funny although you really need to watch the entire first episode before forming an opinion since it's pretty easy to end up with a very incorrect view of the series if you've only seen the first part of the first episode. Speaking of Ouran, Shauni if you're reading this you should check it out. It seems like the type of series you'd like.

Well, I should get going. See you friday!


10/23/2006 No need for hackers

New ROM today. And, of course, you can vote and see friday's Pebble Version bonus comic.

So, if you didn't notice, the server that Pebble Version is on got hacked over the weekend. In a nutshell, the site is working again, except for the forums. Because of this, among other things, my host is getting a new upstream provider (hopefully one with better security). The site should stay up during the transition (note should) although the forums will remain offline until the switch is finished. On the plus side, my host says this will be a good time to do the forum upgrade we've been planning so they should be better than ever once they're back up.

Anyway, since this week got off to such a great start I can't wait for the rest of it <sarcastic>. Well, it's not that bad, I get three days off from school this week for midterm break. But I'll probably be spending most of that time (as well as most of the rest of the week) working on school projects. Oh well, that's just the way it goes sometimes. Plus I won a cool Famicom alarm clock in the LAG last week (not that that has anything to do with what I was just talking about...).

See you wednesday.


10/20/2006 No need? IMPORTANT NEWS UPDATE

IMPORTANT: The server got hacked. I'm currently restoring stuff and most of the site should be working soon. E-mail and the forums however, might take a while.

UPDATE: The entire site is working again and so is my e-mail. The forums are still down. Because of this event, among other things, my host has decided to get a new upstream provider. The site should remain up during the transfer but the forums will have to remain offline until it's finished. However, my host will be taking advantage of the downtime to perform a long awaited forum upgrade so look forward to new and improved forums once they're back up.

There's a new bonus comic and a new ROM. For the record, I'm glad I have doors. A lot of things would be a real pain in the neck without them...

The LAG at school is over. I was the first (and possibly only) person to complete all six job classes, which was cool. Unfortunately, they haven't announced the prizes yet, that comes later today. I'll let you know on sunday if I get anything cool.

So, you know about release dates right? It's the day when a new product is officially released. In fact, stores often get their new stuff quite a while before the release date but aren't allowed to sell them before said date. For some things that makes a lot of sense. For example, with something like a new Harry Potter novel or a big movie DVD, you don't want some people getting it early and spoiling it for everyone else (or selling it on ebay). And for highly anticipated hardware, like the PS3 or DS Lite, you have to stick to the date to make sure everyone has a fair chance at getting one. Other things however, don't really need release dates. For example, I was at Fry's Electronics today and happened to spot a thinpack DVD set (which is basically a much cheaper version of the regular DVD set) of Witch Hunter Robin. I was gonna get it but it turned out that they put it on the shelf several days too soon and wouldn't sell it to me. So I understand that Fry's would get in trouble for selling something before the release date, but why does something like that even need an official release date? The series has been available on DVD for at least a couple years already so everyone has already seen it and it's not like there's gonna be a huge rush to get it on the official date. Do they think that a bunch of people will end up buying the $100 box set in the mean time cause they don't feel like waiting a week for the $35 set? Meh, I'm probably better off saving my money anyway.

Have a good weekend.


10/18/2006 Off lagging

The latest ROM comic is up.

When I said lagging I'm not talking about the internet kind, although I was having some trouble with that over the weekend... My school is running a LAG (live action game) this week (today is the last day). This is the third one so I've talking about them before but it basically involves taking various job classes and doing quests to get skills and items. There's also a lot of monster fighting. There's a new person in charge of this semester's LAG and it's mostly running well although some of the monsters are a bit unbalanced and you have to kill many of them a ridiculous amount of times before they drop the item(s) you need. Anyway, the LAG plus the usual school and project stuff has kept me pretty busy. Hopefully things will calm down a bit later this week (or maybe next week with mid-term break coming up). Of course, things claming down will probably just mean I have more time to spend on school projects...

Back on the subject of Pebble Version, I really should start planning something for the 500th strip. I'll be following PV tradition and focusing on some other characters for a litte while, I just haven't decided which characters to switch to yet. There's always Xain and Cali, although they'll be showing up again pretty soon anyway... There's some stuff I could do with the black suite guys or their mysterious boss. Then again, since it's strip 500 maybe it'd be a good time to introduce one of the new characters I have planned... Well, I'll think about it. Meanwhile, if anyone wants to suggest one character or another feel free to e-mail me or post on the forums or something.


10/16/2006 This and that

Remember to vote (and take a look at friday's bonus comic while you're at it). And, of course, there's a new ROM.

I don't have a whole lot to say right now. Just working on some stuff, spending a little time with my parents while they're visiting, and things like that. I got The End, the newest (and final) Series of Unfortunate Events book. Haven't read it yet but I'm looking forward to seeing how it will turn out. Looking forward to playing the rest of Xenosaga III as well, although I haven't had a whole lot of time for that lately.

I also started watching Heroes (monday nights on NBC). It's a new show that's looking really good so far. It's about people who discover they have super powers and well... The plot is pretty complex, even though there's only been three episodes so far. If you want to start watching you may want to look for a plot summary or somehting like that on-line.

See you wednesday.


10/13/2006 Yatta!

New voters' bonus comic and new ROM today.

Yatta is Japanese. It basically translates to 'yay'. And, at the moment things are going fairly well, despite some annoying technical issues with my game project (fortunately we can adjust things to work around them, annoying though). The best news is that I managed to get my PS2 working again. I already mentioned how I cleaned out the inside, cleaned the lens, and adjusted the laser's angle. Well, the next day I went and got the screwdriver I needed and continued trying different things. First off I took apart more of the disk drive and lense so I could clean a different part of the lens and give the tracks the lens moves on a new coat of oil to keep them slick. After that I did some testing and played with the laser angle some more. It helped a little but not nearly enough to be useful. At this point I was nearly out of options. With only one thing left to try, I took apart a different section of the system and tweaked the voltage of the laser a bit. And it actually worked! My PS2 was working again, better than it had in months for that matter.

Have a good weekend!


10/11/2006 One good event doesn't equal a good day

Hi all. There's a new ROM today as usual. Also, if you head over to the Extras page you can find a new guest comic by Pseudo and some new fan art from Shauni.

There was one great thing that happened tuesday, that being that my game project team at school got the CD we've been needing so we can finally start putting everything into the engine. The rest of the day, however, wasn't so great.
First off, I figured that, since I had a bit of time before my first class, I'd run over to Gamestop and see if they'd gotten the preorder bonus disks for Guild Wars Nightfall in yet (they hadn't gotten them yet back when I preordered the game). Now this Gamestop usually isn't very crowed but that morning is happened to be packed (and no, it actually had nothing to do with the PS3 preorders, that rush had ended long before I got there) and I had to wait in line for around 20 minutes while the people in front of me decided to trade in huge stacks of old games and movies. When I finally get to the front I find out that they do have the preorder bonus. However, the girl at the store wouldn't give me one, insisting that I had to pay $5 for my free bonus (despite having already put down said $5 to reserve Nightfall Collecters Edition in the first place). After arguing with her for a few minutes I finally gave up, cancelled my reservation, and got back my $5 (which I later used to reserve the game at EB Games; EB was out of bonus disks at the moment but the guy there promised to get me one so here's hoping). Thanks to the combination of the line and the problems at the register, I ended up being late for class.
But that's not the worst part. When class is over I went back to my apartment to kill time before my next class and decide I can spare a hour or so to play Xenosaga III before working on some other stuff. Unfortunately, my PS2 wasn't so keen on the idea. For a while it's been kinda picky with a handful of my games (for example, requiring occasional coaxing to load my DDR games). However, this was fairly uncommon, only happened with a few games, and was usually resolved pretty quickly. This particular time, however, it absolutely refused to load Xenosaga II Disk 2 no matter what I tried (despite Disk 1 working fine, at first...). I continued to work at it but, instead of giving in and loading the game, my PS2 suddenly stopped loading all DVD based games (as in, most of my PS2 games). Now, my PS2's warrenty ran out years ago so I didn't have a whole lot of options. After digging up a tutorial online, I opened the system up, took a good chunk of it apart, and got to work. After getting all the dust out, cleaning the lense, and playing around with that white gear that controls the lense angle, my PS2 had absolutely no problem loading PS1 games, music CDs, PS2 CD games, and movie DVDs, but still refused to load game DVDs (with one exception, it will usually load Final Fantasy X, albiet slowly, but that's the only one of my PS2 DVD games that works). Now, I have been saving up my money lately because of all the games and stuff coming out in the not too distant future, so I have some cash but buying a new PS2 would really mess up my plans for that money. And there's no way I'm waiting for a PS3 (especially since I probably won't get one to keep until next year). For now, there's still a couple more things I can try to get my current PS2 working (although I need to go out and buy a smaller screwdriver first) so hopefully one of those will solve the problem. If not, well, I may have to reconsider some of my shopping plans (or find a way to earn some extra cash to make up for it).

Wish me luck.


10/9/2006 Titles are for losers

Like I always say, vote if you want to see friday's bonus comic. Also, there's a new ROM up.

So, today I feel like doing one of those lists of what I've been doing. Here goes.
Working On: Photoshop montage, game project, internship search
Listening To: Weird Al Straight Outta Lynwood, Evanescence The Open Door
Watching: Magikano
Reading: Photoshop textbook, assorted magazines
Playing: Pokémon LeafGreen, Xenosaga III, Guild Wars
Waiting For: Final Fantasy XII, Guild Wars Nightfall, A Series of Unfortunate Events Book 13
Wishing For: more spending money, more free time

See you wednesday.


10/6/2006 Brain dead...

There's a new voters' bonus comic up. New ROM too.

Well, this has been a long and pretty busy week. Between Yom Kippur, my parents coming to visit, and a bunch of homework, I'm kinda out of it. Nothing serious, just not feeling very creative or anything.

I caught a shiny Nidoran Male and a shiny Nidorino in the Safari Zone in my Leaf Green game. It's nice to finally run into some shiny pokémon, especially since the odds of encountering them are like 1/8192 (or something close to that) and I'm really glad that I mangaged to capture them despite being in the Safari Zone (good thing I didn't see a shiny Chansey, the odds of catching those things are ridiculously low). But come on, couldn't my second shiny have been something other than the evolved form of my first? Talk about an strange mix of good and bad luck.

Well, see you next week.


10/4/2006 The usual

New ROM today. And, of course, don't forget to vote (especially if you haven't seen friday's bonus comic yet). As for the font, thanks to everyone who wrote (or posted in the forums) with an opinion. Although some of you did like the change, the majority of people liked the old font better so I'll stick with it. I even went back and redid the previous comic in the regular font.

Well, I got my mew and got through Yom Kippur. My parents are visiting for a while but otherwise it's pretty much back to normal for me. And, um, that's all I have to say right now. I'll try and think up something more interesting for friday.


9/29/2006 Announcement time!

There's a new bonus comic up for everyone who votes and a new ROM. But those aren't the announcements I was talking about.

First off, a couple of Pebble Version related announcements.
#1, You probably already noticed but for those of you who didn't, I'm using a different font than usual in today's comic. A fan was nice enough to send me the Ruby/Sapphire font file a little while back so I figured I might as well see how it looked in an actual strip. So I'm looking for opinions. Do you prefer the new R/S font or my old font (to see the old font just look at the previous comic). Let me know what you think.
#2, There will be no new comic on monday since it's Yom Kippur (a Jewish holiday) and I won't be on-line. Updates will resume on wednesday.

Now for a Pokémon announcement.
#3, If you want an official Mew bring your GBA and a Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Fire Red, or Leaf Green, cartridge to Toys R Us tomorrow between 12 and 3. Make sure you have a pokémon to trade and save your game in a Pokémon Center. (Emerald players also have to have gotten the National Dex, all the other carts are fine as long as you've played far enough to get the regular pokédex which is like fifteen minutes into the game). This is a great chance to get a rare and useful legendary so go if you can.

See you wednesday.


9/27/2006 Series Length

New ROM today.

One intersting difference between American TV shows and Japanese TV shows is the length of the series (at least for plot based shows, things like game shows, news, and the like don't count). See, American TV series tend to run until A: they're cancelled, or B: they have to stop because an important actor quit or something like that. Japanese series, on the other hand, tend to end when the story is over. Of course, there's some series with really long stories (like DBZ or Naruto which are based on really long manga series) and some where the story can be extended indefinately (like Detective Conan), but quite a lot of Japanese shows end after only one or two seasons (sometimes even just half a season). The reason they have such short runs isn't because of ratings or something like that (not that some shows in Japan don't get canceled for those reasons) but simply because the story ended. It's an approach I'd like to see taken here in the US. Although a lot of shows here don't have much story to begin with, too many shows get dragged on way past their time just because they're still making money and this usually causes the writers to come up with stuff that doesn't really fit, or in some cases is just really lame, just to keep the thing going.

Anyway, I have to get back to work. See you friday.


9/25/2006 Ehh...

Like I always say, don't forget to vote to see friday's bonus comic. Speaking of which, TWC has changed its voting process slightly but it's even easier to use now than it was before. Just click the TWC banner or button on this page and then click the big vote button on the page that comes up and then you get to see the bonus comic. There's a new ROM today too.

Well, I really don't have a lot to say today. I started playing Xenosaga III, which is pretty good so far. Other than that, I'm updating and fine tuning my portfolio since I need to start looking for an internshp soon. My current plan is to finish up the current semester, do my internship, gaduate, and then possibly do the JET Program. The JET Program is essentially a program where you go to Japan and be an assistant english teacher for a year (well, there's a lot more to it than that but that's the part that'd concern me). It'd certainly be an intersting experience and it'd be nice to do something different before getting a regular job. Anyway, nothing is for sure yet but it's looking like a fairly likely possibility. Planning for life after college isn't easy.


9/22/2006 Nerf Wars

The weekly bonus comic is up. All you need to do to see it is click on the Top Web Comics banner (above) or the button (left) and then confirm your vote. Shauni's latest ROM comic is up too.

I beat Dirge of Cerberus FFVII for the second time. This time I did it on extra hard mode and at a really low level. Not that I really wanted to do it at a low level but I ended up trading most of my experience points for gil so I could upgrade my guns more for the extra missions. Next up, Xenosaga III. I got a lot of gaming I want to get done before FFXII and Guild Wars Nightfall come out at the end of October.

Some people started up a new game at school. It's an assassination game using Nerf guns, foam swords, and the like. Basically everyone in the group is an assassin. At the start of each round you've given a card with your target. You have to "kill" him or her without getting killed yourself, at which point you take their mark card and go after their target. Last person alive wins, although you get points for killing the correct person, killing someone who attacks you, head shots, and the like. You also lose points for killing people other than your target or getting caught by several 'police' characters. It hasn't started quite yet but should be fun. Although I suspect everyone will be rather parannoyed by the time we're done.



9/20/2006 Mysteries

Remember to vote and don't forget to check out the new ROM either. For those of you who noticed the errors in monday's comic, I went back and fixed them. For those of you who didn't notice, there was one technical error (as in I forgot an important pokémon related detail) and one graphical error. Anyway, if you want to see the corrected strip just click the previous comic link beneath today's strip.

I've always been a big reader. For the last eight years or so I've focused mostly on fantasy novels. However, before I got into fantasy I was a big mystery fan. I read through all Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories many times, definately some of the best. Anyway, once I got into fantasy I mostly stopped reading mysteries (aside from some old favorites). It wasn't that I stopped liking them, I was just caught up in fantasy and there were always so many novels to read. Anyway, lately I've been getting back into myteries, not because of novels but because of anime and manga. Although they're not particularily big in the US, there's some really great Japanese mystery series out there. One of the most popular is Detective Conan (or Case Closed as it was renamed in the US) which has both an anime and manga. It's about a famouses teenage dective who is turned into a little kid by an experimental poison that was supposed to kill him. Taking a false name, he lives with his girlfriend and her father (who have no idea who is really is) as he solves crimes and searches for information about the men who poisoned him. Another good one is The Kindaichi Case Files (aka Young Kindaichi's Case Book), about the grandson of a famous detective who has a knack for stumbling across strange murder cases, usually of the locked room type. The manga is out in the US (well, some of it anyway, they're taking forever to release new ones lately), the anime is not. Then there's Detective Academy Q, an anime that I recently started watching (might be a manga too, not sure) which, unfortunately, hasn't been released int he US). It's about several teenagers, each with their own skills and talents, attending a famous school for detectives. Anyway, if you like mysteries all three series are worth checking out.


9/18/2006 Dirge of Cerberus

Top Web Comics was down for part of the week end but it's working now so don't forget to vote and take a look at the bonus comic. New ROM today too. Now for the review.

Dirge of Cerberberus is a spin off/sequel to Final Fantasy VII taking place three years after the game, or one year after the movie Advent Children.
Graphics: No complaints about the graphics. Vincent looks great, the enemies look great (although there's not as much variety as there could be), the environments look good, and the FMVs look every bit as good as Advent Children. Most of the areas are a bit on the dark side though (as in, not a lot of light).
Sound: The music is kinda rocky, although there's nothing wrong with that. It fits well with the game. Sound effects are fine. Voice acting is good, sounds like they got the same guys from Advent Children for the main characters.
Story: Like I said before, DOC takes place three years after FFVII and one year after Advent Children. The story mostly focuses on Vincent although you'll also see a decent amount of Reeve, Cait Sith, and Yuffie. Cloud and the others get some cameos as well. Basically, a group calling itself Deep Ground has emerged from the ruins of Midgar and are ruthlessly attacking civilians in pursuit of an unknown plan. They also seem to have an interest in Vincent who, at the urging of Reeve, joins the fight against Deep Ground. That's about all I can say without giving something away. The plot is a little strange at times but it's pretty interesting and fills Vincent's back story. And the secret ending movie... Very interesting...
Gameplay: You play Vincent (except for one brief stealth segment as Cait Sith). DOC is part RPG, part FPS, and part run and gun action. You run around and shoot things while trying not to get shot. Vincent can carry three different guns (which you can customize and upgrade as the game progresses) and you'll probably end up using some variations on a hand gun (all around useful), machine gun (speed and spread), and rifle (long range and sniping). Aside from running and shooting, Vincent can jump, use a melee combo, crouch, and do a sort of shoulder charge. And there's magic (usuable with one of several materia equipped, although it takes MP). He can also use a variety of familiar healing items like Potions (restore HP) and Phoenix Downs (instant revive). For killing enemies and completing objectives during the game's chapters you get experience points which you can use to level up or trade for gil to buy healing items or upgrade your weapons. DOC definately isn't one of the best gun games out there (not that you'll notice if you aren't familiar with the genre) but it's fun and with several difficulty modes, New Game + (to carry you equipment into harder modes), and a large set of unlockables and extra missions, it can keep you busy for a while.
Overall: If you're a fan of shooting games you may not be too fond of DOC's style of gunplay although if you aren't familiar with the genre you'll probably like it well enough. Either way, if you liked FFVII and Advent Children (both recommended prerequisits for DOC) then you'll certainly want to play DOC for the story. Aside from that DOC is fairly fun to play and, with all the unlockables and extra missions, there's plenty of replay value in there too.


9/15/2006 Rant time

Now that the special Forum Awards series is over, it's back to regular Blooper Reel comics and there's a new one today. New ROM too.

So, I was gonna review Dirge of Cerberus today but I feel like ranting so I'm gonna push the review back to sunday. Not on to the rant.

I've been updating a lot of stuff on my computer lately. For example I got the latest version of Google Earth (one of the most awesome programs there is) which has some nice improvements over the last one, and the lastest Beta of IE7 which I'm liking so far (I never was a Firefox fan). But those were fairly minor updates and required little more on my part than clicking the download link on the appropriate web pages. My other upgrade, on the other hand, was a bit of a pain. See, I'm taking advanced Photoshop this semester at school. I still had version 7 on my computer and for the class I needed some features it didn't have so I decided it was time to upgrade (it was either that or do everything on the school computers). While I was at it I also picked up a Wacom tablet for the class as well. Speaking of the tablet, it installed easily and I'm looking forward to playing with when I have the time. Anyway, so I picked up the entire Adobe Creative Suite CS2 + Corel Painter (another thing I'm looking forward to messing around with) for a pretty good price (student discounts do come in handy). Anyway... I got my big box of stuff on wednesday and the plan was to install it th use it to get some work down while checking out all the new features. Easy, right? Not quite. Turns out you can't have more than one version of Acrobat Pro on a system so I had to uninstall my old one (which required a restart) before I could even begin. So I pop in the disk, run through the usual gamut of instal stuff, and then sit around for half an hour while the massive 3.5 gig suite installs. And I can't just leave it either since they stuck it on four CDs instead of one DVD so I have to be around to change the disks. Then once the installation finishes I have to register and then Adobe needs to check for updates on-line. It finds like 180 megs of stuff and downloads it pretty quickly. Installing the updates, on the other hand, was a problem. I have to wait around another ten minutes while it installs the first chunk and then it tells my I have to restart my computer before it can install the rest (why couldn't it just do that at the end?). So I tell it to restart but then my normall highly stable computer gives me a BSOD (blue screen of death) and locks up. So then I have to forcably power down the computer, restart it, run a scan disk (you never know what could get screwed up when the system crashs during an install), and install the rest of the updates (which took a ridiculous amount of time). And once again, I couldn't jsut walk away and let the updates install on their own. Nearly every update (and there were lots of them) actually ran through an entire set up wizard that I had to click through. I mean come on, simple updates don't need wizards. There weren't even any options to change. My only choices on each screen were next, back, and cancel. Now keep in mind there's nothing to go back to and why the heck would I cancel an update that I just told it to download and install? When all that finally finished I figured it was time to uninstall my old Adobe suite to free up some disk space. But first I wanted to make sure my Photoshop and GoLive settings and stuff transfered. GoLive did a great job (even retaining my list of recently opened files). Photoshop on the other hand didn't get a thing. It didn't even bother to grab the custom pattern sets I use for Pebble Version so I had to manually import those. Then I uninstalled the stuff. When all was said and done I'd spent over three hours working and hadn't even gotten to use my new programs. Ugh... Sometimees I really hate computers.
Reminds me of when I bought The Longest Journey a few years back (the first PC game I'd gotten in ages at the time). Took forever to install and then it froze everytime I opened it so I tried reinstalling it. Still didn't work. A couple days, some e-mails to tech support, and some messing around later, I finally nailed it down to a problem with my sound card driver. It's so much easier (not to mention fun) to just stick a disk in my PS2.

Well, that's enough for now. Have a good weekend!


9/13/2006 Back in the swing, sorta...

New ROM today, remember to vote, and all that type of stuff.

Well, school's been going for a week and a half or so. My schedule has been kinda odd. On the up side I have monday and wednesday completely free. On the down side, I've been pretty busy since I got back so I've needed that time to get work done. Hopefully things will even out a bit once I complete my 'to do' list but I am going to have a lot of homework either way plus I'm studying Japanese on my own since there's no Japanese 4 class this semester. I also have to tweak my portfolio and research a couple things...

It doesn't help that I'm having trouble getting myself to do some stuff. I still do everything I need to get done but I've having a little trouble getting myself to do the stuff that can be put off for a while. Of course, I got back to AZ a little over a week ago so things might settle in a few more days. Hope so anyway. I'm just a little burned out (although I've been that way for like the last year so nothing new there), I blame the lack of a decent length vacation.

Anyway, classes are interesting (although there's gonna be lots of projects to do) (taking Game Documentation, Game Writing, Advanced Photoshop, and my game project's special topics class) and things are going ok. Look for that Dirge of Cerberus review on friday.


9/11/2006 Want a mew? Read for details...

Please vote and see friday's bonus comic. It's a quick an easy way to show your support fo Pebble Version. And, of course, there's a new ROM today.

Got some news that all you Pokémon players should be interested in (if you haven't heard it already). On the 30th of this month, Nintendo will be giving away mews at Toys R Us. All you need to do is bring in your Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Fire Red, or Leaf Green cartridge to Toys R Us on the 30th. Not only is mew an extremely rare legendary pokémon to add to your collection, it's also great to use with all around good stats and the ability to learn all TMs and HMs so you can really customize it to work well with your team.

And that's it for today. Look for a review of Dirge of Cerberus Final Fantasy VII later this week.


9/8/2006 Gotta Catch 'em All

The last of the special bonus comic series is up today. It features Artemis, winner of the Best Roleplayer Award in the Pebble Version Forum Awards. PV has been a bit lower than usual on TWC this month so please vote. There's a new ROM too if you're interested.

I've been playing Pokémon a lot lately. I had a complete pokémon collection back in the original Red (complete with an official mew) and in Gold (except for Celebi) along with an awesome battle team. But, although I liked Ruby, I got distracted by other games and never got around to finishing my collection (or battle team). Plus, I was kinda ticked that I couldn't import all my old pokémon from Gold. Anyway, once I heard that Diamond and Pearl will allow pokémon transfers from the Gameboy Advance games I figured it was time I got down to buisness and filled up my pokédex. My current total is 270 in Ruby (complete Hoenn dex except for Deoxys, complete set from Colliseum, and some stuff from breeding and trades) plus 10 or 20 in Leaf Green (which I justed started). And they're all legit too, no hacks. Not quite sure how I'm gonna get a legit mew and deoxys but I'll figure something out. Need to get a Lugia from XD too... Anyway, I picked up Leaf Green about a week ago. Haven't had too much time to play but I'm working on it.

So, I was playing Leaf Green and thinking back to the original Red and Blue. That got my thinking about what my life would have been like if I never played Pokémon. I didn't even have any intention of playing it at first. I thought it was some sort of digital pet type game and wasn't interested. Then I happened to read a review online and that's when I learned that Pokémon was really an RPG and a supposedly good one at that. Being a big RPG fan, I was curious and as it happened I was visiting a cousin a few days later (one who is a huge gamer) and he had Pokémon. He let me play for a while (provided and I didn't save over his game). I got all the way to Mount Moon that night and was totally hooked. So I got Red and the rest is history. So, how would my life be different if those events hadn't happened? Well, I'd have several hundred hours to kill (200 on Red, 80 on Gold, 110 on Ruby, 60 on Colliseum, or something like that). That aside though, I wouldn't be doing Pebble Version (a sprite comic on another game perhaps, or maybe not) and wouldn't have gotten to meet all the awesome people on the forums and the people who e-mail me and all that. But perhaps the biggest change would be that, without Pokémon, I might have never gotten into anime. It was the Pokémon games that got me watching the Pokémon anime, which got my watching Digimon, which got me watching more and more anime until I became a huge anime fan and that got me into manga (another favorite hobby of mine). And anime and manga have been major inspirations in my writing (along with all the RPGs) which has, in part, led me to study game design. Kinda strange to think about but, without Pokémon, my life could have been drastically different. My hobbies, my writing, my choice of schools and careers... Who would think that one game could lead to so much...

Have a good weekend!


9/6/2006 I'm back, again

New ROM filler today.

I'm back in AZ and back in school, again. My schedule is gonna be intersting this semester. Not a lot of class hours but lots of homework and projects to fill the time. The vacation was good. Too short, as always, but better than nothing. My last week in PA was fun for the most part. Hershey Park is always awesome with lots of great roller coasters and other rides. And I never miss a chance to go the The Amazing Maize Maze, getting lost in corn for a couple hours is really fun. I did really good this year too, making it out of the maze with all the hidden map pieces and crossword puzzle answers in only one hour and twenty seven minutes. A few family problems aside, it was a pretty good trip.

One thing the eastern part of the states has that the west doesn't (aside from the humidity, greenery, and all that type of stuff) is really nice gas stations. There's been a trend there for large clean gas stations that include pretty big cofee and slurpee bars and decent restaurants. I wish we had some like that here. Compared to the gas stations near my grandparents the ones here are a bit on the dingy side.


9/4/2006 School is coming...

Happy labor day to everyone in the US! There's a new ROM today and if you haven't seen friday's special voters' bonus comic (feauting Silver) yet you should.

I'm flying back to AZ today and it's back to school tomorrow. Um, yay. I'll also have to spend the first day or two running around to make sure everything gets set up correctly for my special topics class. And that's that. Oh, in case anyone is interested, my Ruby pokédex is all but complete (just short six pokémon, two trade evolutions, and four that I need to trade for). Now it's on to Leaf Green.



It's a new month so please vote and see this week's special bonus comic featuring forum member and ROM character Silver. New ROM comic too.

It's late right now so I don't really want to talk. I'll be returning to AZ on monday at which point I'll be heading back to school and working to catch up on PV strips and a couple other things I got a little behind on during this somewhat busy vacation.


8/30/2006 Feebas!

Hi all. There's a new ROM today. Also, if you want to get in any more donations this month this is the last day to do so. Just $15 more and you'll get lots of commentery on old strips and the next chapter of ROM The Novel.

So, in my current quest to fill out my Ruby Pokédex I finally caught a Feebas. Fortunately, finding the right fishing spot didn't take nearly as long as I was afraid it would. Now I just need to make enough good pokéblocks to evolve it.

And that's all I have time to say. Aside from the obvious, dial-up sucks. I'll talk about my trip later when I have a better connection.


8/28/2006 Hi from PA

If you haven't seen friday's special bonus comic (featuring forum member Stevenson), this is a great time to click on that Top Web Comics button or banner and do so. You may also want to see the new ROM.

So, my mom and I are in PA, my dad is home in CO, and my brother is in AZ in my apartment, which we're now sharing. Hopefully it'll still be in one piece when I return. Anyway, I made it to PA. I like coming here but my grandparents don't have any form of high speed internet and unfortunately there aren't any wireless networks nearby I can poach, er, politely ask permission to use, so I'm stuck with dial-up for the next week or so.

Well, our flight got in pretty late so I'm gonna get some sleep. See you wednesday!


8/25/2006 And again...

New bonus comic. Today's is part three in the special series featuring the winners of the Pebble Version Forum Awards. Today's bonus comic introduces Stevenson, cousin of long time forum member Silver (whose comic is coming up next friday). Pebble Version hasn't been doing quite so well on Top Web Comics this month so please vote. New ROM too.

Well, I gotta get going. Spent too long playing Guild Wars so I'm running late again. See you next week, although I'll probably be stuck with dial-up...


8/23/2006 So...

New ROM today.

There's a nice new bowling alley not to far from my house in CO and I've gone a couple times. It's been fun. Been like a year since I bowled but I may have to start going more often.

Oh yeah, here's a picture of my figure drawing final project. Did the whole thing in charcoal. Actual size, 40" x 72".

And that's all I have time to say, budget cuts and all that (actually I'm just running late). See you friday!


8/21/2006 Time to relax

If you haven't seen friday's special bonus comic yet (featuring forum member Shadowman) you should vote and take a look. You should also take a look at the new ROM comic. And, if you haven't seen it yet, the first part of Josiah's Sprite Comic Guide is up on the Extras Page. Very useful for anyone who wants to make their own comic.

I almost forgot how nice it is not to have classes. Giving me some time to advance some of my Guild Wars characters too, at least this week. I'll probably be stuck with dial up next week. Updates will continue but they may end up being a few hours earlier or later than usual.

So... Best Buy is a really great place to get CDs and DVDs. They've got great deals on some stuff, especially if there's a sale going on. I got the complete Wild Arms box set for like $11. Wasn't planning on spending any money since I'm trying to save up for a lot of stuff coming out later this year. But hey, a whole anime series for $11? Couldn't pass up that kinda deal. Of course, don't expect everything to be that cheap but still, they do have some great prices. Certainly worth browsing every now and then if you live near one.

Oh, just in case anyone is wondering, I have absolutely no intention of Seeing Snakes of a Plane. Unlike some of my friends, who want to see just how bad it is, if I'm sure a movie is going to be bad I don't see it. Simple as that. I've been forced to sit through enough crappy movies already so why the heck would I actually go see one when I have the choice not to. Besides, I'm holding out for Snakes on a Minivan.


8/18/2006 Car trip AND Sprite Comic Guide Part 1

There's a new bonus comic today. Like last week's, this one also features a winner from the 2006 Pebble Version Forum Awards. This week's comic features Shadowman, winner of the Best Poster Award. There's a new ROM today too. Oh yeah, one more thing. Part one of Josiah's Sprite Comic Guide is complete! You can find it on the Extras Page. I get a lot of questions about how to make comics so I hope this guide helps. Part 1 deals with a very important but often overlooked part of comic making, planning out the basics of your comic before you begin working on it. There's some useful tips in there for all types of comics, even if they don't use sprites. Part 2 (which will come once the overall donation total reaches $50 again) will be about how to find, manage, and edit your sprites. And there will be more parts after that... Anyway, hope you like it.

I'm going to spending most of the day in the car heading back to CO. Although I'll only be there for a week before heading to PA and a week after that it's back to school. I did get Final Fantasy VII Dirge of Cerberus a couple days ago but I didn't have time to finish it so a review will have to wait until after I get back to AZ. For now, here's a few comments. The gameplay is a mix of RPG, FPS, and run-and-gun action. Certainly a strange mix. It works fairly well although it's hardly the high point of any of those genres. Still, the gameplay isn't bad, just not great, and so far I'm really liking the story. Certainly worth a look if you're a fan of FFVII.

See you monday!


8/16/2006 Nintendogs

New ROM today.

It's nice to be on break and it's nice to have my family visiting. Hmm... I've only got one or two semesters left (plus an internship at some point) before I've finished with college. That leaves all sorts of things to consider such as where and when to take my internship and, more importantly, what to do after I graduate. Should I look for a job immediately? Take a bit of a vacation first? Maybe even sign up for the JET Programme... Sigh... The older you get the more complicated things get. I liked it when things were simpler... Anyway... I did mention a review.

Although it's been a long time since I was interested in digital pets, I always was a little curious about Nintendogs. I mean, it was designed by Miyamoto so it had to be interesting. So, when another student wanted to sell his copy for cheap I decided I may as well give it a try.
Story: Story? Uh, let's see... You live in a peaceful town where the people have nothing better to do than raise cute puppies and enter them in contests. You just got you first puppy.
Graphics: Nintendogs is 3D and looks pretty good for a DS game. Naturally the graphics aren't all that amazing when compared to a console game but they're quite good for a handheld. Animations are very nice too.
Sound: There's not a lot of variety in the music so you'll be hearing the same tunes over and over. Fortunately, they fall into the 'easy listening' catagory so you never really get sick of them, although you probably won't fall in love with them either. Sound effect are very good. That's about all there is to say.
Gameplay: At it's heart Nintendogs is a virtual pet game. In the beginning you get to choose your first puppy from several breeds (which depend on the version of the game you have). All puppies aren't created equal though, there's lots of different personalities. Once you've picked and named your puppy you interact with it using both the mike and the stylus. Naturally you have to give your puppy food and water (which can be bought at the pet supply store). You should also keep it's hair clean. For more fun passtimes, you can play with your dog using a variety of toys you can buy and find during the game, teach it tricks, take it on walks, and enter it in contests. Teaching tricks involves getting your puppy to perform an action then giving it a voice command. Repeat it enough and it'll learn the trick. Walking your dog involves making a route then heading out. The more you walk the further your dog can go each time. While walking you might find presents, meet other dogs, and the like. You can also visit discount shops, parks where you can practice your frisbee skills, and the gym where you can practice the obstacle course for agility contests. Now, feeding your dog and buying new toys takes money. You can always sell stuff you don't want, but the best way to make money is by winning contests. There are three types, disc contests (a frisbee game), agility contests (an onstacle course), and obedience contests (trick contests). If you place high enough you earn money and move up a difficulty rating. Naturally, expect to spend a while training your dog if you want good scores. And that's pretty much the game. Take care of your dog, train it, and get new stuff. And, while you're doing this you earn trainer points which unlock more breeds of dogs and other stuff. You can have up to three dogs at a time in your house and another five in the dog hotel.
Overall: Nintendogs is a rather casual game, it even places limits on how often you can walk you dog and enter contests. It's a bit of a time waster but it's fun, kinda addicting, and very cute. Plus, it's a lot less work, and time, and money, than owning a real dog.


8/14/2006 Last day of school, for a little while...

If you haven't seen friday's voters' bonus comic yet you should, it's the first part of a special five week series featuring the winners of this year's Pebble Version Forum Awards. The current strip is for Celebifly (aka Opal). Those of you who don't frequent the forums may still recognize her from ROM. And, speaking of ROM, there's a new comic today.

Well, today's my last test and then I'm officially on break for a little under three weeks. Unfortunately, it looks like I'll be stuck in AZ for most of this week since my parents are giving me a ride back to CO and I have to wait till they're ready to leave. Meanwhile, my brother has moved in with me to go to college down here (although not the same college as me). Anyway, I'll be in CO for a little over a week and then I'm going to PA to visit some relatives and weill get back to AZ just in time for my fall semester. PV should update as usual, although updates may come a few hours earlier or later than usual. I was hoping to spend a bit more time in CO but at least staying here will give me a bit more time to spend on the PS2 games I'm trying to finish.

Well, I should get going. Look for a review of Nintendogs sometime this week.


8/11/2006 Three years and counting!

Hey everyone, there's a special new voters' bonus comic today. It's the first in a five strip series featuring the winners of the 2006 Pebble Version Forum Awards. This week's comic is for Celebifly (aka Opal), winner of the Nicest Poster Award. Vote to check it out! And, of course, there's a new ROM too.

So, it's three years to the day since Pebble Version launched. I actually started working on Pebble Version several months before that. There weren't really any Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire sprites on the net back then so I had to rip enough of to get started, make a few test strips to show around to other people just to make sure I was on the right track, make a website, do some sprite edits and and the like. If you want to make something good sprite comics can take a whole lot of prep.
Looking back of the last three years of Pebble Version a lot has changed and a lot has remained the same. The have certainly changed the most. Although I'm still using the same sprites (abliet more of them) the general look of the comic has gone through several upgrades. The biggest, of course, was when I switched from Paint to Photoshop but since then as I've gotten better with Photoshop I've always tried to improve look of the strips be it the speech bubbles, background textures, or special effects. Even though the look has changed, I've tried to keep my characters consistent and stick with the comic's signiture mix of wry humor, sarcasm, and the occasional wacky moment. The website has stayed pretty much the same, despite some new sections and the addtion of Shauni's ROM comics although, with the Pebble Version redesign back in progress, it won't stay this way for too much longer...
One of the best changes was the addition of the Pebble Version forums. A suggestion of some fans way back during the first year, at first I wasn't too sure about it. I wasn't much for forums then and didn't know if Pebble Version really needed one. The first forums were a fun experiment but things didn't really get going until the second forums launched a little over two years ago. I've met a lot of great people on the forums and had a lot of fun. For me, it's definately been one of the most enjoyable and worthwhile parts of Pebble Version. And, with yet another forum upgrade looming, along with the site redesign, all I can say is it's been fun so far and I hope all of my friends from the forums (I'd name you all but that'd take too long) stick around for the upgrade and beyond. You guys rule!
I'd also like to thank all my fans, whether you're one of the handful of people that found Pebble Version during the first few weeks or just started reading today. I'm glad you guys enjoy the comic and I always appreciate the fan-mail, be it comics, suggestions, or just a quick shout out. I love reading it even if I don't always have time to reply.
So, what's next for Pebble Version? Well, I already mentioned the upcoming site upgrade, but what's coming up for the comic itself? Well, after three years and 463 comics Brendan and May haven't even gotten to the third gym yet. No one ever said sprite comics progressed quickly. For now, Brendan and May will continue their quest to gather gym badges and fill their pokédex. Naturally, there will be more appearances from Xain and Cali, The Black Suite Guys, their mysterious boss, and Teams Aqua and Magma. The further Brendan and May get on their journey, the faster the plot is going to move. I've got some big things planned for later on... Plus there's a couple of very important characters that haven't even been introduced yet. Unfortunately, their debut is still a ways off but it's gonna be cool... As for stuff that's coming up in the near future, big events include a showdown with Teams Aqua and Magma at the Oceanic Museum, Brendan and May's first pokémon contest, and the Trick House.
Anyway, it's been a great three years, here's hoping for many more!


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.