Wednesday, 31 March 2010

░▒▓█ An excellent review of Sonic Blast Man for the arcade.

The arcade flyer giving you an idea of what it looks like.

Yes, this person who wrote it covered just about everything that is about the game, with interesting perspectives of his own as well. Very complete, and perfect. Originally I read his review on, but somehow it was no more there. So I googled for it and got to understand that he probably chose to take his review to another site (the screen name still seemed to remain the same though) but in any case, I'm extremely happy that I found it and it is my joy to share this with you all:

Review by whelkman
May 26, 2008

Wham! Arcades were a bit louder in the early 90's. It seemed every ten seconds you would hear a rather loud thud from a particular corner, and most likely that sound was generated by Taito's Sonic Blast Man, the epitome of physical strength based games.

The premise is simple enough. A pivoting two foot steel arm with a circular punching bag, not unlike an overstuffed stool cushion, attached to the end pops up. The player punches the bag, hand in punching glove, in a downward arc ninety degrees as powerfully as possible. The player's score, reflecting how powerfully or pitifully he (or she) hit, is then displayed on screen right behind the bag for all to admire or mock. The game never says what the units are, but they seem to roughly correspond to pounds of force applied, a strange observation since both the Japanese and American units share the same numbers. The stage is completed at the end of the third punch. The ending depends on stage chosen and whether or not you successfully defeated the opponent.

To make things interesting, Taito includes five levels of ''enemies'' (stages) to punch, each level more difficult than the last. Every target has a miniature story line, and the recognition you receive increases as the objective becomes more difficult. The idea is that lower levels include much wussier opponents while the highest pits you against foes that a real super hero would face. The starter is a hoodlum with a Mohawk holding a damsel with a nifty 1989 hairdo and jacket hostage. This one is for kids as just about any average height, average strength adolescent can easily knock this guy to the ground.

Next is that pesky evil truck that is about to run a baby over. Like a true super hero, instead of merely sweeping the child off the street, you prove your strength by smashing the moving truck to pieces, most certainly killing the driver in the process. How brave. Other, albeit less entertaining, enemies include, in order, the alien fortress (skyscraper), the giant crab, and the mighty meteor. Of course everybody wants to challenge the meteor, but it takes an amazing amount of strength to conquer, bruising the egos of many males.

Another interesting feature are the levels of damage shown as you subtract points off the stage's total. The punk reels back when hit then obtains black eyes. The truck crumbles, and crab gets its claws ripped off. This is a cool extra, and it encourages the player by making him feel much stronger than he actually is (''Wow, look at that crater-sized dent I made!''). And this is the entire point of the game: feeling like a super hero.

Sonic Blast Man is just as much about knowing exactly how to hit it as it is about using brute strength. The beginner commonly stands still and punches straight on or even at a slight upward angle; this wastes much of the force and momentum than Blast Man pros utilize. Taking a step back and throwing your whole body into the punch and following through as the bag arcs down greatly increases the score. Finding a particular hitting style for your height and build and getting the motion down takes some time, so just a play or two will not accurately determine how good of a puncher you can be.

The ''video'' in Blast Man actually contains mostly stills; there is very little animation, even in the introduction and endings. However, the stills are nicely drawn, especially the punk, who looks quite menacing. Each stage includes about seven or eight stills: four or five of them depicting the target in perfect health and varying stages of damage, a Batman-ish ''SMASH!'' balloon, and a still or two for the ending.

Blast Man himself looks like a complete weirdo. For some reason, he is about nine feet tall. His helmet has antennae, a satellite dish, and what looks like integrated sunglasses. He has ridiculously over-sized shoulder pads, a clock and computer terminal on his chest, and a goofy locket-thing on his belt. He even wears boxing gloves. He doesn't wear a cape; he wears a scarf. His colors completely clash. Yes, Sonic Blast Man is the perfect 60's Batman reject; he would make Adam West proud. Obviously, Blast Man is supposed to be a mockery of U.S. comic book heroes, but no one here got the joke, which probably makes us look even stupider.

The game has very little in the way of sounds. The title screen's voice-over, the thug's ''Uuech!'' and Blast Man's lame ''Take that!'' are the most memorable by far. The rest of the effects center around accompanying crunching noises, as if the sound of the pole hitting the cabinet isn't noisy enough. There are a few musical fanfares but, again, nothing memorable.

The game's cabinet is especially impressive. Because of the type of action it needs to withstand, the cabinet is quite sturdy and heavy, and it takes the strongest of men to budge the thing. Another impressive feature is the red, white, and blue coloring of the unit, giving a patriotic feel to the game, a real irony considering its Japanese origins.

What made Sonic Blast Man so special was the primal male bonding that took place around the unit. Everybody put their quarters in and tried the best they could to smack the crap out of whatever stage they picked, often in the presence of a multitude of onlookers. It didn't matter if you won or lost or were strong or weak. All that mattered was that you put your very best in, and you were respected for that. Oh, sure, there was that one guy who snickered and held weaker players in contempt, but he quickly lost his smugness when that enormous black dude came in and effortlessly scored a 350, putting his relatively pathetic 110 to shame.

My personal favorite was beating on the thug. By the time I was thirteen, my then impressive physique could render him unconscious in just two of the three hits. Still, he was the only human opponent (beating up planets and buildings is boring), and I just loved that ''uuech!'' sound effect he made. Plus, I liked the added bonus of the chick whoring up to Blast Man once I won. I wonder if she wore anything underneath that jacket...Yow!

Sonic Blast Man sparked what looked like to be the next wave of arcade games, combining physical activity with action on the video screen. But, alas, it was not meant to be; from the start, the thoughtful observer could predict some troubles. Any activity that requires as much physical force as Sonic Blast Man is going to yield the occasional injury. Problems included the eventual wear of both the bag and the glove, leading to even more injuries. Perhaps the most distressing of all were the cocky kids who wanted to look impressive by bare-handing the bag. Padded or not, hitting a steel rod as hard as you can puts extreme strain on your wrist. There were even reports of neck, leg, and back injuries due to idiots head-butting and jump-kicking the thing. However this was hardly Taito's fault as writing on the cabinet (and common sense) clearly indicated that only gloved hands were to be used. In fact, most of the injuries were likely consequences of incorrect usage by the players and poor supervision by arcade attendants.

Indeed, Taito lost a class action lawsuit regarding fractured wrists and the failure in reporting such injuries to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. Following that Taito recalled all units from the United States, so, naturally, Sonic Blast Man is nearly impossible to find here in the States. This lawsuit spooked nearly every maker of physical strength based games, and the fad died as quickly as it was born. Politics, not Kryptonite, killed Sonic Blast Man. Fortunately, this game is not as difficult to find in less lawsuit happy countries such as the United Kingdom and Japan, but what an expensive way to hit a glorified punching bag.

It's difficult to explain why punching a circular bag attached to a steel pole over and over is fun, but it was. Men just love to hit stuff, and Sonic Blast Man certainly helped them with that. Sonic Blast man was an amazingly social game in a less than social atmosphere. Gamers are usually too engrossed in the game for small talk, and, worse yet, many gamers are antisocial to begin with. This was a great game to break the ice with those guys you always see but never get a chance to talk to.

Rating: 8/10

Well done. This is what I call a GOOD review. 5/5

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

░▒▓█ Study: Natural Causes the Leading Cause of Death

Show nature who's boss!

A major study regarding life-expectancy and the causes of death most prevalent in modern society has led to an astonishing result: More people die from natural causes than any other illness or disease.

“We found that most people die of natural causes, not long-term illnesses or violent ends such as car crashes or wars. This has resulted in a paradigm shift, and helped us come to the conclusion that we need to fight nature…destroy it at all costs,” said, the chief scientist in charge of the study, Dr. S. Troyer.

The group plans to lobby Congress to develop a plan to deal with ‘nature’ as a hostile threat to the future of humanity.

Let's fight nature and gain immortality!

Rather let's fight nature, win and make unnatural causes the leading cause of death!!

We have a right to die in any way that we want!!!

Stop this oppression Mother Nature!!!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

░▒▓█ She is a good girl

I used to know a girl who is a paramedic. On one occasion when I met her I thanked her for all that she had done, in trying to save and bring hurt and injured people towards help and safely at the hospital. She smiled quietly and said this was her duty and responsibility and she was just trying her best to fulfill them. And as I contemplatively nodded in genuine recognition of her words I mentioned that there seemed to be a lot more other people out there that are very hurt. She became slightly defensive that I could understand, saying she and the team had always been punctual towards all ambulance calls and all that, then I told her what I meant was the kind of hurt that is from the inside.

She said there are many competent psychiatrists who could attend to and care for them, and I agreed, but I also lamented to her that they really should learn to take better care of themselves in the first place, before others would reach out to them. She nodded but added that sometimes some of them are actually victims of circumstances, and I agreed, but the secret truth for the rest is they are also victims of their own intelligence. It is very easy to criticise something from the outside, even a full-fledged retard can show a gesture of that, but if you're in it, you'd take a different attitude and your perspective would be different if not also enlightened, assuming your brain is functioning the same.

PS I am always concerned about her even though we've not been speaking for quite some time and I hope with my heart that she is safe and okay.


Wednesday, 10 March 2010

░▒▓█ I dreamt of Kim Tae Hee - 金泰希. Yes it's true.

Hush, don't laugh, for crazy things like this sometimes actually happen even to an innocent and well-meaning lazyfoot laggard like me too, who seemed to take a faint liking for some of those entertainment personalities yet never really watched any of their shows or movies. So here goes, from my diary: It is rainy and dark over here. The place I was in, had bright white light, and the fan was on. This is incredible. Hahaha I dreamt I was with Kim Tae Hee - 金泰希. The dream is PG in nature, which means, it is safe and nice for the whole family HAHAHA. We were in this same room, with two other guys (they are just ordinary guys playing secondary roles). One was in black polo tee (he is a contractor - what they have to do never ends) and pants and shortly after the other just came in. He is a very old man (in his 40s) in blue buttoned shirt and black pants with the idea of using the land phone (not that Cyon cell phone you were thinking). And he was, quite predictably, trying to take advantage of Tae Hee by touching her hand and stuff, and I stepped before her and told him to just leave after using the phone. Oh she looked elegant. She was in sleeveless (most girls these days like wearing less and less, ie sleeveless, skin tight stuff, mini-skirts and I like the sleeveless touch that I also imposed on my gf) light gray blouse, her hair was brooched nicely just like you see a lady dressed for a gala dinner, and she was all polite and nice. After stopping his designs like a true man (always am even in person) we began talking together. And we were so close I put my arm around her and held her close to me, and we took turns doing that. She really ISN'T that short like those idiots say, from what I saw, and we made small talk in English, which, she understood quite well surprisingly. But when the contractor man in black looked at us I broke off from her saying "this isn't appropriate, we are being rude" and thinking she would understand on one hand but fearing she would be hurt on the other. I think she understood anyway. Quite generally we talked about the stars, dolphins in the waters and some mundane everyday things (mundane things you don't usually remember too well after talking about them), yet, even for such things we continued enjoying relating to each other. Incredible. And pretty significantly I said, "Your name in Chinese, is Jin Tai Xi?" She turned to look at me, happily surprised and said "How did you know?" Then I said. "Of course, I checked it up. I don't need to check up on things I am not interested in." And she gave an expression like she understood, and she smiled quietly. Then she pranced around and went into another room to look around at things. She went to touch a light blue scale equipment she saw on the maroon table. I grimaced, saying "My uncle got it. I won't want you to touch such things." And she smiled and said "Because you don't want me to associate with old people's things and be old right?" And I smiled, impressed with her intelligence. What was said of her brains wasn't really bull after all. Then taking her hand we went back to the original room, and the room was empty. Just the two of us. In each others arms I had brilliant ideas, and shared them generously. "Shall we take pictures of us together, on the phone?" She gave a quizzical look, and pointed to the land phone. "This one?" "No I mean, the camera on the phone, the cell phone, this one." holding mine up. Was a silver model. "Ah, the Nokia G." She took the cell phone from my hand and began playing with it, pressing random buttons. At that point, even in that mode I started imagining what we both would look like together on video. Should it be just an intro to green everybody's eyes? Do we vlog a bit? I pictured a few picture possibilities in my mind. Then I excused myself to go to the washroom to answer nature's call. She reluctantly let go, frowned and said: "Don't you ever leave me." I said half-cheekily: "See if I would." She somewhat became happy again and engrossed herself with my cell phone. When I entered I looked into the mirror... and was appalled that all along I was wearing my high school sports tee! I was all gaping a "huh?!" and the next logical thought to my head was, "you'd better change into something else to do the video and photoshoot with her." Then my eyes... opened. 他妈的!!!!!!!!!! I was burning in livid rage ~ Why am I telling you all these? Well I'm still a bit sleepy even as I'm done typing everything.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

░▒▓█ What a cabbie told me today.

He was like a father to me seriously. He was a pretty experienced old man (in matters of life) and he was very understanding and helpful, and gave me lots of advice on the way too. He seemed to read my mind at times and told me lots of other things.

The first, most significant thing that I will always remember is the government versus the people thing we happened to chat up about. Not really versus, but well, he said at least the government of the foreign land may charge a lot of fees for everything, but they are at least working.

Like a highway that was clogged with too many cars, even though there is a car ownership tax and stuff (all of which are definitely hefty as most people know) they annexed a new lane to accommodate the increase in vehicles. Which leads us to the next best thing he said. If a government is really doing things for the people, there would be no money discussed, or conditions. And I added, only principles and even if conditions are listed they are all thought out for the good of the people? He agreed immensely. Just like the cigarettes thing we talked about earlier: why is there a sharp increase in the prices? Are they really to discourage people from smoking? It's easy for the young to quit, he said, but for the old, as he went on, they would probably die or be hospitalised if they were to be right out of the habit, as they've gone too deep for so long and the tar and nicotine and all has become a part of their running system. To clean the system we'd need tens of grands, and I thought, just for that and ignoring the other problems? It's not worth it.

If the government really cares he said, then why don't they all get together with the people to discuss and deal with this matter? The government would verbally encourage people to smoke less, and lessen the circulation ie importation of the cigarettes and set a time limit like after five years no cigarettes are to be allowed into the country, things like that. Yes he might not be the best solution adviser but I get what he's trying to say and he does make a whole deal of sense.

As we went on to the other things he says people are generally selfish, and said that once I enter the working world I'd know just how ugly, hideous and evil human beings are. Food for thought. You can't go wrong with an senior who has certainly walked the longer mile.

The last gesture of his was kindly. He gave me a small discount on the fare, and in the same relaxed manner he opened up his pocket box of Ricola herbal candy, took one and asked if I wanted one too. I agreed, and got to it before we talked a bit more about things (this happens to me with so many taxi drivers - maybe they find it easy to relate to me) and bade farewell.

It's a very interesting journey I would say.