Sunday, June 1, 2014

DOWNLOAD - Phantasy Star II Modernization Hack v2.0

Gentle Reader,


Version 2.0 of my Phantasy Star II Modernization Hack is now available!

Updates in this release:
  • Improved character balancing
  • Restoration of a dummied-out enemy
  • Lots of menu and text cleanup
  • Various minor improvements

The download file contains setup instructions.  Please share any bug reports or other feedback!

Phantasy Star II Modernization Hack Verson 3.0 download (Updated 6/23/15) Article

See Also:
Original Article
Preview #1
Preview #2

Ever Yours,

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Maleficent: My Review (Spoilers)

Gentle Reader,

I just saw it, and... I LOVED IT.

I'm not a Disneyphile, but I've always had a soft spot for the 1959 adaptation of Sleeping Beauty.  It's so gorgeous and quirky, and Maleficent is a wonderful villain. I wasn't at all sure what I was going to think of this movie, especially after some of the rather murky reviews, but I was pleasantly surprised. Honestly, I left the theater thinking that critics who said the story was too jumpy or vague must not have been paying close attention.

Yes, the visuals are stunning, but beyond that, the story has an emotional depth that took me by surprise. One thing you should know straight up: this movie is definitely NOT an attempt to show what was happening "off camera" during the original 1959 movie. It's actually an entirely new story, but with lots of overlapping elements. I was put off by this at first, but ultimately, I think it was the right choice. Yes, there are a lot of changes to the narrative, and yes, some classic elements of the original story are left out, but that's acceptable in a reboot, which is what this really is.

A few things I didn't like: 1.) The old white-haired king is Stefan's predecessor, not his best friend, and he is not the father of Prince Phillip. 2.) The names of the fairies were changed. The new names are cool and very suitable for fairies, but I thought they should at least be called Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather during the time that they are in disguise. 3.) Aurora's mother dies off-camera for no apparent reason.  (Protip:  living characters are more interesting than dead ones, so only kill them if there's some payoff in the story.)

The things I loved were too numerous to mention. For me, though, the best part is how they totally lampshaded the idea that Aurora and the prince could be in "true love" after one five minute meeting. Also, it's cool to think that a lot of this backstory, though certainly not all of it, is applicable to the Maleficent from the 1959 movie (and I'd argue that this is in fact the case, canonically speaking). It gives a lot of added depth to an already awesome character.

For me, the biggest moment of getting chills was when Lana Del Rey's version of "Once Upon a Dream" played, when the ending credits began, and I realized that, in this version of the story, the lyrics are actually about Aurora and Maleficent, not Aurora and the prince.

My rating: 4/5 stars.  Go see it!

Ever Yours,

Friday, May 9, 2014


So yeah!  I got the job!  ^_^

Now I have two weeks of normalcy to look forward to before I begin my amazing new career!  So, if you've been waiting on things from me for, like, a month...  1.) My apologies!  2.) Watch for my communication to be back to normal after the weekend.  This weekend is actually my best friend's birthday weekend, so I'll still be a bit tied up until Sunday night.

So happy!  So exhausted!

Talk to ya later!

Friday, April 25, 2014

My Top Six Retro Commercials!

Gentle Reader,

Okay, admit it.  Don't we all really love retro commercials?  Especially ones that we remember from our childhoods?  Don't we all have jingles in our heads for products that were discontinued 20 years ago?  Well, maybe it's just me, but even if so, I'm dragging you all down the rabbit hole of retro madness by presenting my top six super old commercials.  These are all commercials that I remember from my childhood, ranked in order of the total nostalgia points that they rack up with me.

Cherry 7-Up, circa 1988
I posted this one here before.  I hate cherry soda but I'm in love with her eyebrows.

Dimension Shampoo, circa 1985
It's Courtney Cox!  Now remember, girls... Dimension!  That's all you gotta do!

Jordache Jeans, circa 1978
Little bits of the 70's held on until around the time I went to kindergarten.

Whatchamacallit, circa 1987
This still runs in my head whenever I eat a delicious Whatchamacallit.

Miller Lite, circa 1992
This blew my mind at the time.  Still an amazing commercial IMHO!

Stetson, circa 1990
My favorite commercial of all time.  I hoped for years they'd bring it back!

All right, all right, that's enough for now.  But, feel free to share your own favorites if ya got 'em!!!

Ever Yours,

Where I've been...

If you follow this blog then you know that I try to keep it updated every month.  So, where was I in April?  Well, to make a long story short, I am up for what might be the job of a lifetime.  It's been round after round of interviews and tests and now I'm in the final round.  It is my impression that I'm the odds-on favorite although the decision has not yet been made.

The interview process has largely consisted of the creation and delivery of presentations to senior executives regarding hypothetical incentive programs for employees.  I've had to develop these programs, document every step of how I would manage them, and then give a first-class presentation to senior management.  It's been quite stressful and time consuming so all of my other projects are totally on hold for the moment.  So... if you haven't heard from me and are still waiting on things... this is why!

Anyway, I'm hoping that I'll have an answer on all of this within the next 5-10 days.  Wish me luck...!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Playable Golbez Edition let's play!

Check it out!  You know you want to...

Hopefully Magrail1982 will hang in there long enough to get to the new content.  :)  Not too much new stuff in the opening stages.  (It gets better, I swear!)

Monday, March 31, 2014

In the mood for a short story?

Read this.

"Descending" by Thomas Disch

One of my all-time faves.  Just found a copy online.

It's quite short and a total trip.  Let me know if you read it!

Monday, March 24, 2014

DOWNLOAD - Final Fantasy IV: Golbez Edition Hack v2.0

Gentle Reader,

Version 2.0 of the Playable Golbez Edition hack is now available!

New to this release:
  • New battle commands for Golbez
  • Refinement to other commands, including Tears and Regen
  • Completely reworked "who can equip what" tables
  • Special surprise at the end of the Sylvan Cave!

Click here to download:

Golbez Edition Hack version 2.1 download (Updated 10/1/14) article


Ever Yours,

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Shakespears Sister

Goodbye Cruel World
Artist:  Shakespears Sister
Album:  Hormonally Yours
Label:  London Records
Release:  1991

Artist:  Shakespears Sister
Album:  Hormonally Yours
Label:  London Records
Release:  1992

I Don't Care
Artist:  Shakespears Sister
Album:  Hormonally Yours
Label:  London Records
Release:  1993

Sunday, March 2, 2014

ROM hack discussion!

Gentle Reader,

Happy March, everyone!  Just wanted to give a quick update on my ROM hacks and related projects.

First, I am still working on the next release of the Playable Golbez Edition hack, and I still expect it to be out some time in March.  Updates in this release will include:  new commands and abilities for Golbez, repairs to a few minor glitches, a total revamp of who can use what equipment (it never made sense that Golbez could use claws but not rods), and a new optional mini-boss who drops an incredibly cool item.

Secondly, I'm also working on a new version of the General Leo Edition hack that was prompted by the let's plays done by Magrail1982 and BohepansTheThird.  Watching these playthroughs alerted me to the existence of various minor bugs, but also gave me ideas on additional ways to improve the hack.  I'd watch for this update within the next few months.

Lastly, I'm also working on the next release of the Phantasy Star II Modernization hack, and I would expect that release some time this summer.

And, just for the sake of completion, I'll also mention my Kain Unhelmted mini-hack.  :)

I really enjoy doing hacks and so sometimes I get to thinking about what other hacks I could potentially tackle in the future.  (Any requests...?)

I've already mentioned my concept for a General Beatrix Edition, but I think it will be a few years yet before the hacking tools are available to make that kind of project realistic.

Another idea I had was for a Playable Gilgamesh Edition of Final Fantasy V, where Gilgamesh would be the final team member, rather than Krile.  The two obstacles to this are:  a relative lack of hacking documents and tools compared to games like IV and VI, but even more importantly, the herculean task of drawing all of those damn battle sprites from scratch.  I mean, that would be a real nightmare, and I just don't know if I'm up to it.

My other dream project would be to take Dragon Warrior III for the NES and convert it into an upgraded Dragon Warrior II.  I know that a lot of people hate on Dragon Warrior II, and I get that, because in many respects it is the weakest entry in the series.  But, it was the first RPG that I ever became completely obsessed with, and I would love to reimagine it.  The advantage of using III as the base is that it would allow me to have way more spells and items, way more monsters with more sophisticated AI, a day-night cycle, a larger world with more towns and dungeons, and finally, and most importantly... the ability to have more than three party members, as well as a means of easily changing the party lineup.  I really get excited when I think about this project so maybe I'll tackle it one day.  I should at least write up a post talking about what I would put into such a hack.

Anyway, thanks for listening, and I'll see y'all around!

Ever Yours,

Monday, February 24, 2014

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Rosa and Cecil

Rosa and Cecil share a tender moment in Cecil's room.


This isn't mine, but I really, really wish it was.

Sorry if you don't get the joke.

Friday, February 14, 2014

(*gasp*) Why... it's Maleficent!

Gentle Reader,

I'm not a huge Disney fan, but I've always had a big soft spot for Sleeping Beauty.

I was pretty dubious about the whole concept of a movie based on Maleficent, especially once I heard that Angelina Jolie was cast in the title role (it just seemed like an odd fit). But, having seen this trailer, I am not only won over, but in fact OBSESSED with the whole thing.  I can't wait!!!

Ever Yours,

Monday, February 10, 2014

Richard Dawkins

Gentle Reader,

Don't get me wrong, I have a huge <3 for Richard Dawkins and would probably make out with him.  BUT...!  I'm seriously wondering how in the fuck I never noticed this before:



Ever Yours,

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Gentle Reader,

I am really pleased that my Playable Golbez Edition hack of Final Fantasy IV has now passed one thousand downloads!  Here's a big THANK YOU to everybody who's tried the hack!

Please watch this space for a major update to the hack some time around March 1st!

Ever Yours,

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Another great Let's Play of the General Leo Edition!

Gentle Reader,

Check it out, or... I'LL KILL YOU! (Okay, not really, but...)

Link to Part One!

You really do have to watch whether you want to or not, because this fine fellow was a huge help to me in perfecting the hack in the first place!

Ever Yours,

Monday, February 3, 2014

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Who do people do this?

Gentle Reader,

I had a really bad day and got some really bad news.  By this evening I was feeling very upset and stressed out during the time that I'm supposed to be trying to relax and working on the projects that bring some meaning into my life.

So, I check my YouTube inbox and I have a message from someone I've never interacted with before.  This person says that they saw on another website how another person was really trashing me.  Now, I'm not completely naive.  I had a feeling right off that it might be a spam message, and sure enough, it was (the link provided connects to a survey page that installs malware).  The thing is, the message said, among other things, "Somebody out there must really hate you."  That is just such a bad, bad, bad thing to read in an anonymous message written in a concern-troll type of voice.  It's like, getting kicked in the teeth when you're already down.  What a horrible, horrible way to trick someone into clicking your link.

I will never understand spammers.  I will never understand trolls.  I will never understand people.

Ever Yours,

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sleepy Maggie

Sleepy Maggie
Artist:  Ashley MacIsaac
Album:  Hi(tm) How Are You Today?
Label:  A&M Records
Release:  1995

Oh, how I'd love to be 16 again!  I'd do it all differently...!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Inspired: Ys Book I & II

Gentle Reader,

Ys Book I & II
Publisher:  Nihon Falcom & Hudson Soft
System:  TurboGrafx-16 CD, TurboDuo
USA Release:  1990
It can be a struggle in this day and age to remember just how primitive home gaming systems were in the late 1980s.  It was very much still the world of Mario Brothers and Donkey Kong, of simple games with simple graphics, basic sound effects, and little if any story.  Games of this age were certainly fun, and some of them were even brilliant.  Zelda, Dragon Quest, Phantasy Star, and others were pushing the boundaries of just what games could do, and even of what they were expected to be.  Yet, there is no denying that we've come a long way, and that the games of today have a complexity we could have scarcely dreamt of twenty-plus years ago, when the medium was still new and rudimentary.

So, I have to wonder if a modern gamer can really understand the utter astonishment that I felt when I first saw Ys Book I & II, the flagship product of the TurboGrafx-16 system's CD add-on.  The TurboGrafx itself was a bit of an also-ran system in an age when Nintendo and Sega were king.  It was the first 16-bit home gaming system, and for that it did gain some notoriety, yet it was still dwarfed by its juggernaut competitors, whose own 16-bit offerings were just over the horizon.

I was fortunate to receive the base TurboGrafx system for Christmas in 1989.  It came as a total surprise.  I had gotten my NES about 18 months earlier and was completely enthralled by it (as was the entire household).  I'd barely discovered game magazines by that time and had no concept of what the future of gaming would entail.  My dad somehow came across the TurboGrafx and decided to pick it up, to my delight, though in retrospect I think he did this for his own enjoyment as much as my own.

I was impressed right away by the graphics and sound of the TurboGrafx.  The presentation was light years ahead of what the NES could do.  I was also blessed with an awesome assortment of games with which to begin my exploration, including the likes of Dungeon Explorer and Neutopia.  But the big shock would come a while later, when we saw the TurboGrafx-CD add-on at an electronics store.  The proprieter had a demo reel going, showing some of the best of what this remarkable new device could do, and the game featured most prominently was Ys Book I & II.  We'd never seen anything like it:  voice acting, gorgeous anime-style graphics, incredible animation, and a mind-blowing Redbook CD soundtrack.  All this in addition to a haunting opening story that set the stage for an exciting, mysterious, dramatic adventure unlike anything seen in a game up to that time.  My dad and I were transfixed by it, and we wanted it, but it was simply out of our price range.  CD technology was the latest thing then and it was anything but cheap.

This longing was fulfilled at last on Christmas Day 1992, when I got my TurboDuo, the next-gen model of TurboGrafx, in which the CD unit was built in.  Best of all, the TurboDuo came with Ys as one of six pack-in games.  It was, of course, the very first game that we popped in, and time had done nothing to dull its glitter.

Everything about the opening of Ys is perfect.  It virtually screams, "This game is brilliant and you are going to love it."  And indeed, especially for its era, the game is a masterwork.  No adventure game or RPG could match its storytelling and complexity, and no other game, period, could hope to outperform it in terms of graphics or sound.  Surprisingly, even the voice acting is top-notch, with a cast almost exlusively made up of first class voice acting talent, including several famous names.

Sadly, I really don't enjoy playing Ys anymore.  I'm a little surprised by this myself, being the big retro-gaming fanboy that I am.  The problem with Ys is that at least a third of the game is spent within Darm Tower and Solomon Shrine, the big final areas of Ys I and Ys II, respectively.  These areas are repetetive and require tons of backtracking, and the thought of slogging through them dulls my desire to play through the game again.  Yet, I find that this is one of the games that I most enjoy watching playthroughs of online, and it's the only game that I ever pop into my computer just for the sake of watching the beautiful opening sequence.  This way, I can avoid the gameplay annoyances but still relive that giddy excitement from so long ago, when I first realized the untold promise of what games would eventually become.

Ever Yours,

Saturday, January 25, 2014

DOWNLOAD - Final Fantasy VI: General Leo Edition Hack v2.1

Gentle Reader,

Version 2.1 of the General Leo Edition hack is here!  For those already playing Version 2.0, take heart:  this patch only introduces minor changes and improvements to areas such as:  Esper spell lists and learn rates; a handful of item stats, shop contents, and treasure chests; tweaks to a few townsperson sprites and palettes; the correction of some typographical errors; and, similar miscellany.

You should be able to transition from 2.0 to 2.1 without too much trouble if you wish to.  However, this may cause some disruption to what spells your characters are learning, due to the changes to some of the Espers.  I would probably suggest continuing with 2.0, as you are unlikely to really notice any changes anyway.  Story events and the ending are unchanged.

As always, see the ReadMe for details, and thank you for playing!

General Leo Edition Hack version 3.2 download (Updated 1/18/2016) article

Ever Yours,

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Quick Sketch - Empress Celes

Concept: In the years following Kefka’s defeat, Celes returned to the Southern Continent in the hope of making amends for deeds she committed while a general of the Empire.  To her surprise, she was welcomed, and local elites pressed for Celes to ascend to the vacant imperial throne.  She was reluctant, but came to see that such a position would allow her to foster strong relationships with other lands and redeem the reputation of her people.  Locke eventually became her consort, although it must be said that, despite his unwavering devotion to Celes, he was probably one of the more reluctant princes in history…