Thursday, July 7, 2011

Meowth Balloon Plushie, Process

Wow, two Pokemon posts in a row.  Is that lame or cool?  Anyway, I decided to make a felt plushie of Team Rocket's Meowth balloon.  I don't know why.  I guess I just like Team Rocket.  First of all, here's an inspiration picture:

I also took pictures while I was making it, because I never do that but it seems like everyone does.  It was fun to take the pictures, so maybe I'll start doing that from now on.  First, I made two halves of a squashed sphere (I get my sphere patterns from this site [link]) and some facial features:

Then I sewed up the sphere and started making some ears out of triangles.  You can see the mouth and teeth in this picture, but I actually did that before stuffing the sphere.  I also added a little gray collar.  I have no idea what that thing is supposed to be, but you can see it in the reference picture.

Now I sewed on the ears and whiskers:

Then I started making the basket.  It's a box without a top, basically.  I added a little border around the top of the basket to make it look less terrible.

Then I made this framework for the basket.  It's not accurate to the anime, but I added it anyway to stop the basket from swinging wildly around.  If you want it to be accurate, don't let the sticks extend so long and don't sew them to the hot air balloon-- attach it with strings instead.

Here is a cross in the middle of the framework.  This is accurate to the ref picture, but it's supposed to be attached to the fire maker, I think.  I didn't do that for some reason; it just slipped my mind.

Attaching the basket to the balloon:

Once that was done, I added the strings that attach the basket to the balloon as well.  These are just for show.  They're made of elastic beading string and don't do anything to hold the plushie together.  I also wrapped some red felt around the bottom of the framework for some more color.

Then I added an arm (I didn't add a tail, since that tail didn't seem to exist in most of the episodes), and I was done!  Artsy shot:

After I took this picture, I realized that the eyes were really, really lopsided.  This was probably due to me sewing the eyes on before stuffing the sphere (placement often gets messed up if you applique before you stuff things).  But it might've also been because I was watching TV on the internet while making this plushie and just wasn't paying enough attention to get things right. 

So then I took the eye off and resewed it... crooked again.  Well, it's slightly straighter, I guess.  Close enough.  Here's the final product:

I liked the other picture better, but at least his eyes aren't crooked this time. 

Anyway, there you have it.  A Team Rocket Meowth Balloon plushie that took me eight hours to make.  Eight hours!?  In my defense, I was watching TV, remember?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Review: Pokemon White

Horrible, horrible spoilers ahead after this picture:

I hope this picture of the three starters don't count as a spoiler.

Remember when I started playing Pokemon White [link] a long time ago?  Hey, I've finally beat the Elite Four and final bosses.  Which means I've beaten the game!  The power of intelligent decisions prevails!

First of all, the stats.  I beat the Elite Four with a L 48 Emboar, L 44 Stoutland, L 48 Cobalion (the first legendary I ever caught, ever), L 46 Seismitoad, L 46 Vanillish, and L 43 Simisage.  The Elite Four is pretty easy if you use the cheap strategy of using a ton of X-Defense and X-SpDefense and then just chip away at your opponents' health until they die.  I beat N and Ghetsis with the same team, except with Zekrom instead of Simisage.  They were pretty fail, not as strong as the Elite Four.  The Pokemon I had the most trouble beating was Ghetsis's Seismitoad (I think it was L 52).

In general, the game seemed to be easier than the others.  I don't know if I just became better at this kind of thing or what, but I didn't have to grind at all in order to raise my Pokemon up to decent levels.  I was actually surprised that I was strong enough to beat the Elite Four with the levels and types of my team.  So if you can never beat any RPGs (ie: if you are me), this might be a good one to try.

Screw this, I'm playing Pokemon White instead.

The story was nothing exciting, but much better integrated than in the previous games.  One of the things I liked about the Pokemon Ranger and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon spin-off series were that they had actual plots that were important to the gameplay.  Pokemon White did a good job of that, and it made me more motivated to actually get to the end.  Though I did think that Team Plasma had a pretty good point and that it was lame for the developers to make it seem like a big farce when Ghetsis revealed that he didn't care about Pokemon at all and was just lying.

The controls were still annoying.  I'm disappointed that they didn't do anything about that.  It would've been nice for the game to be playable with the stylus.  I liked how the Pokemon selection screen was on the bottom this time, but since everything (besides the C-Gear, which I didn't use so I can't review)  was done with the D-pad and the buttons, there wasn't any point.  Also, it was lame that you couldn't see what items your Pokemon were holding without removing them, and it was even lamer that there was no "Swap a Pokemon from your party with one in the PC" option.

"You'll never know what I'm holding unless you yank it away from me!"

The city designs were interesting and original for the Pokemon series.  It was refreshing to see a few cars and airplanes and actual cities in Unova rather than the ubiquitous villages and towns in all the other games.  I heard that Black was the more technology-oriented game of the two, though, so I might try it just to see what's different about the cities.

There are airplanes in the Unova region.

The music was good, but it usually is.  The graphics were nice.  I didn't play Platinum, so I'd never seen moving Pokemon sprites.  I thought the attacks during battle were nicely animated and varied too, and I liked the way the camera moved while you were fighting.  It reminded me of a TV broadcast or something.

Overall, Pokemon White was a good game.  It is probably my favorite of the main series Pokemon games.  If you enjoyed the other Pokemon games, you'll like this one even if you don't like the idea of having to learn the types and moves of 150 new Pokemon.  Don't worry, it's not as annoying as you think it'll be.  Pretty much all of the new ones are what type you'd expect them to be.  Unlike in some of the other games.

If you think I'm a grass type, boy, have I got a surprise for you.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Wii U (Eventually)

Ever since my subscriptions to Nintendo Power, EGM, and that magazine that comes with a Gamestop membership all ran out, I've become seriously behind on all gaming news.  This is not surprising.  I get almost all of my news from magazines.  I've got TIME for actual news (supplemented by newspapers and NPR), Popular Science and Popular Mechanics for tech stuff, and Reader's Digest for inspirational stories.  I don't get any pop culture magazines, which is why I know nothing about pop culture.  This does not disturb me.

But my lack of knowledge about recent game releases combined with my loss of the Lego magazine is kind of pitiful, considering I spend so much of my time playing video games about Legos.

It's free.  Why haven't I resubscribed?

I also don't have any crafting magazines.  The horror!

This is a craft magazine.  I should own it.
Anyway, getting back on topic, the last bit of gaming news that I came across was that Ace Attorney Investigations 2 (the next-in-line game from my favorite DS series) isn't coming out outside of Japan [link].  I'm not really perturbed, because like the link says, there'll probably be a fan-translation to English.  I mean, even Mother 3 had a fan-translation, so I think we'll be good.

Yesterday was also special, because it was the first time I heard of Project Cafe-- by the time I found out, it was already revealed to be the Wii U.  Which looks kind of like the Wii:

This is the original Wii, the one I own.  It's awesome.

Except with a really stupid-looking touchpad controller:

Stupid looking controller.
It's a little strange that the Wii U is lying on its larger face in the above picture.  Of course, I've always done that with my Wii, mostly because I'm afraid that I'll yank on my GCN controller too hard and the whole thing'll crash to the ground.  But the Wii U isn't even compatible with the GCN, so what's the point?

The Wii U could be awesome, I guess.  I thought that the Wii would be totally lame before it came out (Remote Control!?  Ridiculous!), but it's been a great console with a lot of worthy games.  Maybe it's just that it's too early, i.m.o., to replace the Wii.  I'd be content with the Wii for a long time to come-- it still feels new and special, even though it did come out a few years ago.

I suppose I'll have to buy the Wii U, though, because a new Smash Bros. game is coming out for it [link].  And I'm definitely buying that the moment it comes out because it will be amazing even though I'm terrible at playing SSB without the GCN controller.

I'd love it if they added Bitores (from Resident Evil 4) as one of the fighters, but that's never going to happen.  Oh well.

His grab move should be a one-shot KO.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I'm back from China (technically)

I never said anything about it on this blog, but I've actually been in China since the middle of May.

My blog is starting to look like Wikipedia, with all the images I use from them.

 I had planned to update the blog while I was there with amazing tales of my adventures, but I found out immediately that Blogger can't be accessed in China.  Here is a list of other stuff that is also blocked in China:

-- Wordpress
-- Youtube
-- Facebook

Some stuff seems to work only sometimes:

-- Gmail
-- Flickr
-- Video sites that aren't Youtube

And some stuff works, but is really slow.  Actually, that would apply to pretty much every website that isn't in Chinese. 

There's probably more websites that are censored in China, but those are the ones that I actually tried to use while I was there and couldn't.  The lack of Blogger was very sad, indeed.  Now I'm an entire month behind on all the blogs I usually read, and I'm also an entire month behind on posting to this blog.  Sad times.

On a slightly related note, I'm writing this sitting in an airport in Toronto, because my flights got completely screwed up by the weather.  My flight back to the U.S. is at 6:30 AM, five hours from now.  See you later!

Addendum:  I'm back for real now-- what happened was that my flight from Shanghai to Vancouver was delayed for almost three hours, so I missed my connection from Vancouver to Newark.  Then I had to fly from Vancouver to Toronto, and make a connection there to Newark. 

Of course, our plane in Toronto was delayed an hour and a half due to one of the wheels on the plane breaking.  This makes three major delays out of the five flights I've taken with Air Canada.  But on the bright side, I got to try this for the first time while stuck at the airport:

Airport food (and a giant straw)
It's called poutine, and it is an unholy combination of french fries, gravy, and cheese.  It could've used some green peppers, but overall, it was much better than I expected it to be.