U.S. Delivers Under Pressure, 1-nil Over Jamaica

The U.S. deserved more, playing a brilliant first half, mostly in the back third of Jamaica’s “play for a tie” defensive strategy. It all went wrong for Jamaica in the second half when Gomez blistered in a set ball piece from 28 yards outside of the box.

As much as I enjoyed the first half, I equally disliked the timid play of the U.S. in the second once they secured the 1-0 lead. Instead of keeping up the attack, maybe with a smaller push from the backs, just to be safe, the U.S. looked discombobulated, and unsure of how to proceed. I wish we stayed with an attacking style mentality and attempted to get a knockout goal, which would have put the U.S. at the top of the table.

In the end, the U.S. was after 3 points, but against a better team, I think the second half uncertainty would have been costly.

At this point for the U.S., things are pretty straight forward. Win their next two matches, and advance to the knockout round.

Seeking its seventh straight World Cup appearance, the U.S. plays at virtually eliminated Antigua and Barbuda on Oct. 12, then completes the semis four days later against Guatemala at Kansas City, Kan.

One would have to think the A&B match is a given 3 points for the USMNT, but in CONCACAF qualifying, the U.S. should take nothing for granted, and should push as hard as possible to move up the goal differential chart. When Team USA hosts Guatemala, hopefully the confines in KC will be as good to the U.S. as Crew Stadium!

Columbus Crew Stadium is an unimposing structure on the downtown periphery of the city, yet the USMNT keep coming here, and it is not hard to see why. The U.S. are now 6-0-3 in Columbus Crew Stadium, outscoring opponents 13-1. From “The Star-Spangled Banner” onward, the atmosphere was unrelentingly rowdy and occasionally emotional. From the 9th minute to the 11th, the 23,881 in attendance stood on their feet and cheered in remembrance of 9/11. The U.S. team responded in kind. In the crucial first 15 minutes that set the tone for the rest of the game, the stats were 80 percent possession and 100 percent adrenaline.

So now we wait 30 days, keep our eyes on the health of the squad as they play their club matches, hopefully sharpening up for the final stretch into the round of six.

Go U.S.A!!!

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UGA Opens Can Of Jarvis Jones Whoopass On Mazzo

Missouri, welcome to the SEC and “old man football!” I’m still not sure what old man football really is, but after UGA handed the newest SEC Tigers a second half thrashing to the tune of 32 points, 24 of which were unanswered as UGA pulled ahead for the first time with under a minute to play in the third quarter, Mizzo will be licking their wounds most of the week.

To be fair, Mizzo acquitted themselves well, thwarting the Dawgs for much of the night. They just didn’t have an answer for Jarvis. The fans were equally into it, and it really looked like a great atmosphere. Much like Texas A&M, the other new SEC team, Missouri learned that the second half is where “old man” (or smash mouth) football wins and loses games.

UGA was the only Top 10 team to play on the road, so with many pundits predicting the Bulldogs as the top ranked team most likely to lose, may the Dawgs will move up in the standings this week instead of dropping as it did after a lackluster win in its opener against Buffalo.

Looking back on the week one win over Buffalo may tell a different story. Maybe the Dawgs where just running some vanilla stuff in anticipation of last night’s showdown? Maybe the Buffalo game was a wakeup call? I’m not really sure, but Georgia was clearly ready to stop Missouri’s Franklin from beating them on the ground. In the air was another matter as Franklin ranked up buckets of yards, but not enough to overcome Missouri’s first SEC opponent.

I really don’t want to hear about what would happen if Mizzo didn’t suffer o-line injuries. What would have happened if the Dawgs didn’t have to suspend four defensive starters? That one is just not playing with me.

This tidbit from the ajc really sums things up:

“I think we showed people we can play,” Jones said. “In the first half, they threw a variety of punches at us, they showed us everything they had. In the second half we were more comfortable. And we made plays.”

Meanwhile, the Tigers unraveled. It started with their head coach, Gary Pinkel. He called for a fake punt early in the fourth quarter when Georgia led only 24-20. Some might call that the element of surprise. In reality, it was an awful message to send his players. It was like telling them, “We can’t win this playing normal football.” There is nothing wrong with calling a fake plant, but not at that point of the game.

The game was already turning in the Dawgs favor, but I agree that this was a great momentum boost, paving the way for the Dawgs to start off the season 2-0 (1-0 SEC).

Go Dawgs!

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U.S. Flat In WC Qualifier Loss To Jamaica

I never thought I would see the day where Team U.S.A. was defeated due to poor set play. While the first goal was sort of a fluke, as a perfectly placed ball went under the would-be blocking wall, the second goal was a “what in the world just happened” moment.

Taking nothing away from the Jamaica strikers; they took full advantage of their two chances. It is just a bit of a shame that a team that once had some pride in capitalizing on their on set plays, and not giving an once when the tables are turned, just went down the table three points to Jamaica.

“Jamaica deserved that win. They were hungrier and they were more determined,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “We have to fix it now.”

“We have to do to do a better job with concentration,” American goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “To give away six, seven free kicks in that area is not good enough.”

“We need to figure out a way, whether it’s more width, whether it’s more crosses, whether it’s just doing a better job of keeping the ball,” Dempsey said.

“Next game we have to limit the mistakes and create more chances,” Edu said. “We are disappointed but we still have more games to play.”

You think? Party line quotes. We just had our asses handed to us, so what us is there to say except how does the U.S. fall to Jamaica for the first time ever? After wasting a strong Gomez effort, which resulted in a Dempsey goal inside of the 1′ mark (~30 seconds into the match), I felt good about coming away with at least a point, alas, I went to bet sick at what transpired on the Kingston pitch.

Granted, the U.S. was without Bradley and Donnovan, but where was the depth at midfield? I say it every time I write about U.S. soccer – our defense will be the death of this team.

Time to move on and regroup; September 11 Tuesday night home game against Jamaica, hosted by the Crew. I never thought I would see the day where the U.S. was down 3 points in the table, equal with Guatemala.

In another “I can’t believe it moment” – the U.S. Soccer Federation didn’t bother to try to ensure broadcasting rights for U.S. away games were picked up by a channel that a least allowed a few soccer fans to watch the match. beIN Sports is not exactly a household name. Instead I went to google and found an internet broadcast – no idea if European site Front Row Sports is on the up and up, but it did allow me to watch the miserable loss to Jamaica.

There were multiple streams available, and after settling on a decent one, the only real issue I had was trying to quickly close down any “adult” oriented ads before my 10-year old saw them. For much of the first half, it was very touch and go!

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Madden 13

Times have changed. Many moons ago I would have written a few pre anticipating Madden release articles, and of course the obligatory “it’s shipped!” an “it’s out of delivery!” and a “Madden has arrived” articles. Then I would have put in a few games and posted some early impressions.

First of all, Madden 13 (PS3) arrived late in the day; in fact I was out at the soccer fields coaching my 10 year-old son’s team when UPS or FedEx (I didn’t bother to check which one; yet again another sign of the times) threw the package along with the Ratchet & Clank Collection on the front door.

For now I decided to pass on the Vita game. I’m sure I will enjoy it, but honestly there is only a limited amount of time I have for gaming, much less playing football games. Case in point, I’m actually putting NCAA 13 up on eBay this weekend. I figure the Vita version can wait.

I sent a few minutes with Madden Ultimate Team (MUT), which is sort of my hidden passion, which I try to avoid as much as possible so I do not inadvertently throw chunks of money at virtual football cards. Unless I am missing something, it looks like EA has decided to start your team anew. I had a couple of rookie cards carry over from MUT 12 based on preordering Madden 13. And I have 5 rewards packs. I was too tired to see if my coins carried over, and I didn’t open the packs because I know my boys would like to see what cards I received.

I jumped back to the main menu and I played one quick game; first impressions were that graphics look much better and the new physics engine was convincing.

For anyone interested, I setup a calvertgames community (search calvertgames or CG). Feel free to join. I’m not really much of an online gamer which means I will probably not push for the Platinum this year, but at least wanted to create a community for my boys and their friends.

More to come later; just in time for Labor Day weekend.

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Falcons New Stadium Drama Marches On …

As the Falcons inch closer to finalizing a deal for a new stadium with the use of tax dollars, one expensive question hasn’t played out in the media. Will the Falcons move to a PSL system? I feel compelled to point out that this question must be put on the table before there is any vote to apply tax dollars to potentially stand up a replacement for the Georgia Dome.

After a lengthy process that included switching plans midstream, a deal to build a $948 million retractable-roof football stadium in downtown Atlanta could be reached by year’s end, the Georgia World Congress Center said.

I have been a big proponent of a downtown location, retractable-roof stadium. In Georgia this just makes sense; can’t imagine sitting in the sweltering sun for the stupid preseason games that are included in season ticket packages, September football is always hit or miss weather wise, and I really have no intentions to watch a Falcons game in the cold November rain.

The turn in talks toward a retractable-roof stadium means the Falcons’ original preference of an open-air facility, which would have been home to the NFL team while the Dome continued to house events that required an indoor facility, is off the table.

While an indoor/outdoor, retractable-roof facility would make the Dome unneeded, Poe acknowledged “it’s a valid concern” how the public will react to the idea of demolishing a stadium that opened just 20 years ago. [Source:  AJC – Lost the exact link …]

Honestly, the Dome is not that bad, but I think it would be extreme stupidity, not to mention fiscally irresponsible, to maintain two downtown stadiums. As far as the Dome goes, my seats, while expensive, are very close to the action. Not sure how this would play out with a new stadium, but I imagine my seats wouldn’t be as nice, and would cost a lot more, potentially ending my relationship with the Falcons as a season ticket holder. And there is still that pesky question of PSLs.

This AJC editorial hits the nail on the head:

Kicking in public dollars by the hundreds of millions is the cost of doing business with today’s sports mega-franchises. It’s akin to the economic development incentives governments routinely dangle in front of job creators to help seal deals.

To argue otherwise is pretty naive in this day and time. If Atlanta doesn’t do it, some other city in search of an NFL team will be waving a lucrative aid package. Just ask cities that have lost sports teams.

Once upon a time in my younger days, when my wife and I were freshly married, and she was doing the law school and getting started as a lawyer thing, we lived in the metro ATL area. Of course since we were starting out we couldn’t afford luxury items like season tickets. Not that I can now either, but I digress.

The point I wanted to make is that while the biggest economic benefit to a new stadium for the Falcons to call home is to the city of ATL, having the Falcons in Georgia has financial benefits across Georgia. As the editorial said, you have to pony up to play, and the only way to land a Super Bowl is to go all in with something big and fancy.

I just hope that the trick pony doesn’t come with PSLs attached!

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Vita Sunday Brunch

Lots of random stuff, most centered around Gamescom 2012 news and announcements, so let’s get started straight away …

PSOne Compatibility in Sight
Finally! The long awaited feature to play PSOne games on our Vita is almost launched. No idea what took so long, but hopefully Sony pulls this off without a hitch.

Why play 15+ year old games on the Vita? Why not – there are a ton of classics just waiting to be found and enjoyed. As part of the launch, it would be nice if Sony features some sort of PSN PSOne sale to coincide with the firmware update, and certainly throwing in a couple of classics as part of the PS+ update would be appreciated.

Vita Gets PS+
Speaking of PS+, the Vita finally gets some love.

We will also deliver PlayStation Plus, which is currently available for PS3 users, to PS Vita users this year. By purchasing a membership to PlayStation Plus, PS Vita users will be able to enjoy various services which will become available exclusively for members.

I really expected Sony to push PS+ as part of E3, but they waited until Gamescon to final admit they have a wonderful system that needs some TLC. Depending on how they position PS+ for the Vita (hopefully not just the “services” part), Sony should have a compelling offering on their hands. Even if Sony only provides occasional PSOne, PSP, and minis (OK, I don’t really care about the Minis), PS+ on the Vita should be well received.

If nothing else, precious memory card space could be freed up by transferring occasionally played game saves to the Cloud Game Save service.

Tearaway
I love the stylistic look of Tearaway; fantastic looking game.

Hopefully this one progresses nicely, and the Vita’s features do not get in the way of the fun or come across as mere gimmicks.

Gravity Rush DLC Articles
I’m not very far into Gravity Rush, but at some point I intend to pick up the Maid Pack and Special Forces Pack DLC. One of these days. At any rate, I thought the reviewer did a good job of providing some decent commentary on the merits of the DLC.

COD: Black Ops Declassified
I’m not a fan of military shooters so I don’t intend to pick up COD: Black Ops Declassified. According to EDGE, it looks to be a train-wreck, while the official’ish Sony Blog makes it sound spectacular. Unless the release is delayed, I see this one falling flat and living COD fans disappointed; not the system seller Sony needs to push the Vita.

Ragnarok Odyssey Gets Delayed
Technically it’s not a delay if a release date was never set for August 21, which was the case at the time of my original pre-order. Amazon now estimated an October 19 arrival date, which may or may not be “official” but certainly this could be too close to the November 20 P4G release.

Ragnarok Odyssey has been on my radar for a while; starved JRPG fans get sort of desperate that way.

Speaking Of JRPGs
Ys Celceta: Sea of Trees [There is no way that title doesn’t get changed in the localization process; assuming the game makes it to NA.] continues to look impressive, but P4G is the real prize and now you can get a preorder bonus. I don’t really care for the skin, but I’m sure some Persona nuts will get all teary eyed over for this one.

Vita Should Go Digital Only?
I don’t think so, but this article from Game Insider makes a case for revamping the Vita to include physical memory, digital only gaming (even though the PSP Go was a miserable failure), and removing 3G support. I disagree with these points, but physical memory is an issue. The article is well written and worth a read.

Cross Buy
Sony looks to be pushing Cross Buy with games like Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault.

Not only will the game feature cross-play and cross-save, but it’s also part of a super-cool promotional offer where anyone who purchases Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault for PS3 via PlayStation Network will be able to download the PS Vita version of the game from PSN at no additional cost and vice versa.

No complaints from this gamer. This approach can only help the Vita. It should be interesting to see if any Third Party partners offer something similar; doubtful, but worth watching.

Happy Sunday!

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Bengals – Falcons (Preseason Week 2)

The Falcons dropped another preseason game, this time 24-19 to Cincinnati. Much like last week, at least our starters beat their starters, 13-10 at halftime.

The offense continues to remind me of a modified hybrid West Coast style short passing dink and dunk attack. As long as they continue to mix in Julio deep and threaten with Roddy White, this style can be successful, especially with the newfound emphasis on passing to the running backs.

I’ll cheat a little and jump straight to Pat Yasinskas’ (ESPN NFC South Blog) observations.

Ryan’s numbers (18-of-21 for 174 yards and a touchdown) look spectacular and he completed his first 11 pass attempts. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Ryan’s first eight passes were mostly short ones and he didn’t have a long completion until connecting with Roddy White for a 24-yard gain on his ninth pass. He followed that with a 21-yard pass to Tony Gonzalez and later had a downfield completion in traffic to Julio Jones. Ryan seemed under pressure early, but the offensive line seemed to settle down as time went on. Ryan also missed slightly on a deep throw for Jones. The ball was well thrown, but it went off Jones’ fingertips.

Ryan was sharp for the second week in a row. As mentioned, Ryan just missed Julio, but really, Julio should have pulled it in. Ryan also missed a goal line slant in the endzone that should have been a nice TD.

All in all, nothing to complain about; Ryan has looked fantastic thus far. I just hope he keeps it up when the games start to count!

Jerry wasn’t the only interior lineman producing pressure. Jonathan Babineaux sacked Dalton, but the play was nullified when Babineaux was called for a face-mask penalty. I watched the replay several times and saw no indication that Babineaux’s hand ever got close to Dalton’s face mask. I think the replacement refs botched that call.

The point here is that the d-line looks marginally better, but everyone knows blitzes and offensive packages are vanilla at best in the preseason. For the second week in a row, the replacement refs were awful.

The Falcons appear to be very serious about throwing more to their running backs. Michael Turner, Jacquizz Rodgers and Lousaka Polite each caught passes.

If it works in Madden, it should work in real life.

Tailgate Experience
For the second consecutive week, there wasn’t much of a tailgate. The boys decided that 90F was too dang hot for grilling, while my wife told me she was too sweet to sweat; have to agree with my wife on this one because she is sweet.

We did the Hooters thing on the way up; boys got an eyeful, dad was careful not to gawk, and before mentioned sweet wife tried her best not to stew. I survived the Hooters experience unscathed, and managed to put us in the back of Lot A for about 45 minutes of tailgating – drinking a couple of cold ones, tossing around a football with my three boys, playing a tailgating ring toss game, and just in general, enjoying some quality family time.

Lot A is always sketchy at best; police presence and lot patrol personnel was limited. Thankfully the rift-raft was minimal; should be par for the course September 17, when Monday Night Football comes to town for the Falcons Dome opener hosting Denver.

Go Falcons!

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When Rookies Go Down …

As I mentioned in yesterday’s Ravens-Falcons recap, when I saw Bradie Ewing go down with an apparent knee injury, my first thought was injury settlement time. Turns out that was close to the mark, as the ajc is reporting that Ewing is lost for the year.

“Unfortunately, we have to announce that Bradie Ewing will miss the entire season after sustaining a knee injury in last night’s contest,” Smith said in a statement Friday. “As a result, we will be placing him on injured reserve tomorrow. Bradie is a talented player and I know he and our training staff will do everything they can to ensure a full recovery.”

Ewing, a former walk-on at Wisconsin, was a fifth-round (157th overall) pick. He was expected to compete with Mike Cox for the starting fullback position. His acquisition led the Falcons to release Pro Bowler Ovie Mughelli.

Too bad; I hope the kid has a speedy recovery. Injuries can happen at any given time – be it practice, preseason games, or when the games actually start to count. I just hate it when someone was lost on a meaningless play. It’s not as if the Falcons had to play Ewing, or anyone else for that matter, on special teams. Instead they could have thrown out potential practice squad players, guys hoping and praying to make an impression on the coaching staff; anyone except the potential starting FB and ML (i.e. Akeem Dent).

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Sony Sends Mixed Messages with PSP RPGs

OK, it’s not Sony, but maybe it is. I really don’t understand why Sony continues to push the PSP. OK, I do; it’s all about money, finances, and sells opportunities. The PSP has a huge installed base, while the Vita is struggling to get out of Sony’s birth cannel.

I guess what I don’t understand is why can’t Sony assist publishers in making PSP games Vita compliant. Case in point Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time.

Some of the comments say it best. The Vita needs support and by continuing to throw out PSP games that are not day one Vita supported, Sony or Atlus in this case, are really contributing to the failure of the struggling Vita.

So far the Wayfarer of Time has received limited, but decent reviews. I still have my PSP, but it’s time to move on to the Vita, only Sony will not help its own cause.

Thankfully Ragnarok Odyssey for the Vita is due shortly, as in (tentatively according to most retailers including Amazon where I have my preorder) later this month.

XSEED PR suggested that I think of Monster Hunter bosses. Actually, much of the game is very reminiscent of Monster Hunter. The comparison is inevitable with 87 quests ranging from five to 20 minutes apiece, three lives to confront each quest, four-player co-op (local or Wi-Fi), and a large array of unlockable armor sets.

The core gameplay might look familiar, but it takes major inspiration from a very different Capcom franchise: Devil May Cry.

Of course it’s not Monster Hunters … but it should be a decent shot in the arm for Vita RPG fans. I have never been a huge DMC fan; too damn old for all that fancy trigger work. My dexterity is not what it used to be! I’m still anticipating Ragnarok, but according to the official’ish PlayStation Blog, Ragnarok Odyssey may not be out in August, as no “official” release date has been confirmed.

Somewhere between Ragnarok and Persona 4: Golden (P4G), Vita loving RPG fans should become a happy lot. Of course these two releases may not be enough to push the needle, but at least it’s a start. Now, if only Sony would stop putting out mixed message, and provide more PSP-to-Vita support, we could only start living happily ever after!

[Edit Aug. 10:  So apparently Growlanser is now Vita compatible, only Sony hasn’t put it on the PSN Vita store.  Instead, you have to go to the PSN PS3 store to purchase, download, and transfer to your Vita.  Nice one …] 

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Ravens – Falcons (Preseason Week 1)

It’s preseason; offenses are not sophisticated and the defenses are vanilla. So what can the Falcons take from their 31-17 loss to the Ravens?

Our starters beat their starters 17-7. Except for an absolute stupid looking mistake in the Red Zone, early on Matt Ryan (9 for 13, 155 yds and 1 TD) looked fantastic, and Julio Jones looked like the real deal bringing in 6 catches for 109 yards and a TD, all in the 1st qtr.

The offense really reminds me of a semi West Coast flavor, without the slants, and of course the Falcons can’t spell screen pass. Lots of short patterns, but I expect that they will open things up once the games actually count.

Injury Report
The injury report will merit closer inspection:

Atlanta starting linebacker Akeem Dent (knee) [sic – head injury] and rookie backup fullback Bradie Ewing (head) [sic – knee injury] left the game with injuries.

Ewing hurt his right knee when blocking on Dominique Franks’ 45-yard punt return midway through the first quarter. Ewing, a fifth-round pick from Wisconsin, was helped off the field before being placed on a cart and driven to the locker room.

Dent walked off the field with the head injury he suffered when blocking on a Falcons punt. He is expected to take over at middle linebacker after Curtis Lofton signed with the Saints and Lofa Tatupu suffered a season-ending pectoral injury in training camp.

When I saw Ewing go down, I figured it was injury settlement time. Hopefully it is not that bad.

The Dent injury left we wonder WTF the Falcons coaching staff was thinking. Why on earth did they have their potential starting middle LB playing on special teams in a preseason game no less?!? What a boneheaded move! Coach Mike Smith disagrees with me; apparently the Falcons starting middle LB is a “base” player and a key contributor on special teams. No regrets from Coach Smith. Probably. Hopefully Akeem is OK; he played really well,

Stepping In For Ryan …
The backup QB situation is very disconcerting. In limited action, Chis Redman looked horrible, and John Parker Wilson isn’t much in the way of an NFL ready backup. I’m not sure if Redman is really cheap, or if there is nothing in the way of backup QBs on the market.

Tailgate Experience
It wasn’t much of one. Because of the weather, we decided to stop for some burgers on the way to the Dome. That turned out to be a good plan; while the rain did clear up, our tailgate would have been pounded. Instead we were able to say dry, and still ended up with some time to have a few cold ones one throwing around the football with the boys.

For those of you that don’t know, preseason tickets cost the same amount as regular season seats. If you want to pony up for season tickets, you end up paying for 10 games (2 preseason and 8 regular season games). Same for parking passes, which really does stink considering my pass is $20 per game, but the lot was only charging $5.

Making matters worse, as always, there was very little security presence in Lot A; there never is to be honest. Thankfully there weren’t as many vagrants as is typical during the regular season.

While season ticket holders pay full price for the privilege of preseason games, apparently the Falcons front office doesn’t consider preseason games to be worth their effort. No Falcons Landing or any other interactive fan experiences were made available. Why? Probably because everyone knows preseason games are only going to be lightly attended, which brings me back to my point that the Falcons really should discount these tickets if they are not going to support the games with the full fan experience.

Free T-Shirts Bring Out the Worst in Humanity
Or something like that; so says my wife. In the 3rd quarter, the Falcons staff made it to our mezzanine section (231) to hand out free t-shirts. Of course everyone is going nuts – over a free t-shirt (black, Defend the Dome flavor).

I manage to grab one and give it to my oldest son. The folks passing out the shirts see this gesture (“… this dad must rock …”) and attempts to give one to one of my other boys, but some jerk jumps in front of my 10 year old and grabs the prized shirt.

Repeat; the shirt passer-outer is clearly PO’ed at this point and hands me the shirt to give to my boy, and another kind lady gives us one for my 5 year old. We even manage to get mom one too, but not so much for dad, which is OK, because my boys have million dollar smiles on their faces, which is what it is all about.

The staff did a great job of trying to find all the kids in my section to make sure they got shirts; it was clear the jerks were out in full force and willing to steal candy (err, shirts) from the children. Free t-shirts really do bring out the worst in humanity.

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Portable Gaming – Filling A Niche

I thought this was a great article from Joystick Division, that comments on the merits for dedicated portable gaming systems.

Some complain that the majority of portable games aren’t suited to pick up and play sessions. I’d argue that that isn’t what portable gaming is for anymore. I’m not sure that’s what it was ever for, actually. The market has evolved and, if that’s what you’re looking for, then mobile is absolutely the way to go. But while there are also plenty of quick-fix games available on portable consoles, what I look for in these devices is something that will give me a console experience in the palm of my hands.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. The real question is at what price will portable consoles survive? Are we at a point where the economy is driving slower sales? While everyone doesn’t need a top tier smartphone, I can’t think of anyone I know that doesn’t have some sort of smartphone, even an older generation one just used for taking calls on the go.

Portable gaming is different – it is a luxury, and as more and more casual gamers (even my wife plays games on her Razor and Kindle Fire) join the ranks of gaming, a $29-49 game is going to be a tougher and tougher sale. You can’t compare any of these casual experiences to something offered on the Vita or 3DS, be it a Mario or Uncharted title, but there is a price to pay for a quality portable gaming experience.

It should be really interesting to see how things play out with Nintendo and Sony over the next 9-18 months.

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Vita Unfiltered

Let’s get this out of the way – some of the links in this post are not safe for work. When I say “unfiltered” in the title, I am really saying uncensored. As in, Konachan.com (in uncensored mode) has some potentially interesting PS Vita wallpapers.

In the last couple of weeks I have been giving my Vita a lot of attention, and naturally I decided to spruce up the backgrounds with some decent wallpaper.

First things first, outside of the various tips you can find, I learned a neat trick that may not be documented; at least it may not be all that obvious. When you create a new Vita page, you should set the color of your page first, and then apply your photo. If you plan accordingly, you can do some neat tricks. So for example, if you are planning to apply a Hyperdimension Neptunia photo wallpaper, you can provide your Vita with nice smooth transition as you navigate to your other open apps (their background colors will match what you just selected).

While the girls of Hyperdimension Neptunia are fun to look at, I’m in love (in a totally natural, virtual sort of way) with Erio Towa from Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko. I’ll have to post my figure collection one of these days …

960544 – How to Make a Perfect Vita Wallpaper
I’m not much of a graphics artist, so after some searching, I found this great Vita Background Generator tool, which allows you to do sorts of magic with any image that you want to put on your Vita.

I have a great (and I might add not too inappropriate) Erio Towa theme going – a cool lock screen, along with several backgrounds, including a custom a custom split three ways image via the Vita Background Generator tool.

As stupid as it sounds, my Vita is 10x neater with my custom Erio Towa theme (thanks to 6 Erio screens). Maybe one of these days, Sony will actually offer up true Vita themes, but until them, you can get creative and all that jazz.

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NCAA Football 13 – Read and React Trophy

What a joke of a luck Trophy. I hate it when developers put in nonsense Trophies, and the NCAA guys are really doing a job on us in consecutive years.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, the Read and React trophy is total garbage BS. Using some tips in this thread, I willfully did the needful a few minutes ago!

This is a great tip. I used it this morning to get this stupid f’ing Trophy. Had my INT within the first 5 plays, but it was a fluke. I missed the ball, but because of the various edits, the receiver dropped the pass, and I caught it before it hit the ground for a nice Pick-6.

I kept squeezing that L2 reaction button for all it was worth (20 seconds is a lot of time) and on my way to the House I received the coveted ding.

Only Trophies I have left are some of the Heisman ones … so well on my way to Platinum goodness thanks to this tip!

If it helps anyone else, I uploaded the edited roster to my locker. One or two other teams may be jacked up, but for this Trophy you are playing with Texas Tech, so you should be good to go if you download my file.

One thing I did that was not mentioned in the original tip thread, was to lower the minimum speed threshold setting to 0, to help showcase J Man’s amazing speed (99 rated, all the other DBs and WRs were edited to 0).

I’m posting this reference for anyone else needlessly struggling with this Read and React Trophy crap. If you decide to follow this tip, hopefully my contribution of the pre-edited Texas Tech in my PSN jcalvert EA Sports NCAA Football locker will help ease your pain and suffering.

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RPG Heaven? Ni no Kuni and Tales of Xillia

It has been forever and a day since I last posted RPG’ish type updates on consecutive days.

First, Namco has an interesting preorder for Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch – something called the Wizard’s Edition.

The Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch – Wizard’s Edition will include:

300+ page hardback physical copy of the Wizard’s Companion, the spellbook Oliver uses throughout his journey in the game. The full-color Wizard’s Companion contains a bestiary of all the creatures found in the game along with in-depth item descriptions, spells and history of the other world.

The limited-run Wizard’s Edition will also contain a plush doll of Drippy, Oliver’s guide through his adventures, as well as exclusive “golden mite” and “golden drongo” DLC familiars.

I don’t care that much for the plush doll, but the Wizard’s Companion looks to be pretty special coming in at 300+ pages. $108.89 ($99.99 + shipping) is a pretty steep hill to climb, but the game does look very charming. Not sure if this limited edition will hold its value; really depends on if it is original print Demon’s Souls with mini strategy guide (the one that wore out with little use) limited, or more widely available.

Tales of Xillia
I really don’t know that much about Tales of Xillia, but I say the more JRPGs the better. Hopefully it does well enough for Namco Bandai to continue localization efforts for future JRPG goodness.

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