Shaq and Real Legacies

I know there’s a ton of other news going on right now, but the retirement of one of the NBA’s best players this week is something that’s been on my mind.  In between analysis of tonight’s Game 2 Final matchup of the Heat and the Mavericks, sports talk has been limited to the legacy of Shaquille O’Neal and where he stands in terms of the best players of all-time.  Some say he’s one of the 5 best centers of all-time, others that he’s one of the 5 best PLAYERS of all-time.  I’m not a sports analyst but certainly a sports fan, so here’s my take on Shaq, his legacy, and the legacy of athletes at the top of their game. It might seem like I’m trying to besmerch the career of one of the best players in NBA history in the following comments.  That’s not the case.  Shaq is one of the best entertainers the game has experienced, both on and off the court.  He prowess was unmatched during the peak of his career and he was almost impossible to guard.  That’s a dominant player.  But I want to add to the conversation taking place now in the sports realm about what is greatness, and where the road to establishing your legacy can take you in the eyes of different people.

Shaq played with over 5 teams during his 16 year career.  Sixteen years is a long time to play professional sports, especially basketball.  It’s a long time to be one of the best in the game as well.  But we honestly can’t say that Shaq was one of the dominant centers in basketball for all 16 years can we?  Do many people even consider this past season a part of that greatness when he spent most of the season on the bench for the Celtics?  What about his brief stint before that in Cleveland?  I honestly had forgotten that he played along side Lebron James.  Most people have too, because his performance then wasn’t memorable, it wasn’t great.

But during the years of his greatness, obviously his time with the Lakers from 1996-2004, he won 4 championships and a number of MVP awards.  He also had Kobe Bryant, arguably one of the greatest players of all-time.  That’s part of the reason why some feel that he wouldn’t have been able to acquire those championship titles had the weight of winning been exclusively on his shoulders as a dominant player.  Even Jordan had Pippen, Kerr, BJ Armstrong, and others to help bring championships to Chicago.

There wasn’t a place or time in the career of O’Neal when it came down to Shaq alone for the NBA finals to be won.  Actually that’s not true, there was one point but it was early in his career, during his tenure with the Orlando Magic.  I remember this mainly because the team they faced were my beloved Houston Rockets.  Shaq was the main attraction, everyone had been talking him up on every sports outlet in the country.  The Rockets had played great ball, and their center Hakeem Olajuwon, had dominated everyone in the playoffs leading to a repeat shot in the finals.  What happened in that series?  The Rockets swept the Magic, Shaq learned quickly that power is good, but sweetness is better and there is no defense against the Dream Shake (anyone remember that other than me?).  Had O’Neal been older, had more reps and experience under his belt and been able to adjust quickly to what Houston threw at him, the outcome might have been different.  Perhaps Shaq wouldn’t have been swept in 4 games.  But I think ultimately the finals would have ended the same.  He was a dominant, powerful athlete on the court, one that was nearly impossible to guard or defend.  But look at the stats, the numbers, the team mates, and the other power players of his era and you’ll see what I see: a great player limited by his own concept of greatness.

He one of the NBA’s all-time scorers.  Leader in rebounds and blocks.  That’s great.  But as <a href=”http://espn.go.com/espnradio/show?showId=douggottlieb”>Doug Gottlieb</a> has said these past few days, he’s not a good as he could have been, and that’s tarnishes his legacy, at least in the eyes of some people.  Because he didn’t keep himself in shape, he rode the bench during most of the last years of his career due to injuries.  He was a nonfactor this year and last year.  Some sports fans thought he retired years ago.  That says something.

In my book, the all-time greatest centers are Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Shaquille O’Neal (top 5 if you will).  David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, George Mikan, Bill Walton and Robert Parish round out the top 10, but these guys had everything, especially when you break down the numbers.  Chamberlain, Russell, and Abdul-Jabbar need no explanation.  Olajuwon though is a player that doesn’t get the respect I feel he deserves in the memory of all-time greats.  Here’s why, he only had 2 championships.  Shaq had 5, one of them with the Heat.  Ultimately, it’s the number of rings you have that determines for most people what your legacy is as an athlete, and then that’s the measuring stick for where you stand on the all-time greatest list.  The Dream (Olajuwon’s nickname for those who didn’t know) played his entire career in Houston, where he won his championships and frustrated players and coaches with his smooth and graceful playing style and shooting ability, as well as his keen defensive instincts.  He was an amazing rebounder and shot blocker.  He’s on the all-time list in those two categories.  For those following stats, you would know his name, but those who only follow championship rings might not recognize him.  He also didn’t have an all-star cast around him during the championship years, not to say that Kenny Smith and Robert Horry were not integral parts of the team in ’94 for the championship.  But they hadn’t peaked in their careers yet.  Smith was certainly not Kobe Bryant in his prime, nor Dwayne Wade. Clyde Drexler was a big part of the following season’s championship, not to take anything away from him or Sam Cassel.  But much of the load for the title was on the Dream.

So had Olajuwon chased after championship rings to further establish his legacy as one of the greatest players, he probably would have signed in free agency with the Spurs and set up a center/power-forward tandem with Robinson similar to what the Pistons did years back with Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace.  But he wasn’t chasing championships, he wasn’t trying to prove to be one of the greatest players.  He was more interested in playing with his team, more interested in continuing to invest in the players and coaches he’d been with (though he did finish the last year of his career in Toronto which was more of the franchise screwing him than him wanting to leave), and the city that he called home (where he still lives I think).  For people who consider a great legacy to be something that deals more with your character than the number of championship rings you have, you won’t find as much stock in Shaq or Kobe as you might with Olajuwon.

Or maybe that’s just me. But probably not, since the greatest player of all-time Michael Jordan said in his mind, Olajuwon was the best center of all-time.

If you want to see for yourself, check this out

Facebook-holics, Twitter-heads, and other internet obsessions

Everyone has those few websites they visit everyday (okay, more like multiple times a day).

Of course there’s Facebook, Twitter, and other social network phenomena.

And you can’t forget that mandatory e-mail check, then a couple of Skype sessions. Oh, and then you browse over to YouTube to check out the latest laughing baby video.

I have decided to break out of the internet rut, and you should too. With millions of websites in existence, there are certainly other websites that are worth our spare time. **Important disclaimer: There are many websites that are not worth our time, as well**

As I set off on my quest for and internet goldmine, I thought I would share some of websites that are worth checking out, that you might not have known about.

1. Tablespoon.com

This website is dedicated to recipes, party tips, and all things “foodie”. Now, we aren’t talking the frou-frou foods that take hours to make, and ingredients  you have never even heard of, much less pronounce. For example, they have a section dedicated to rainbow foods. Rainbow cakes, cookies, doughnuts, and the list goes on. Rainbows make me happy, cake makes me happy. Rainbow cake, I’m pretty sure that’s the answer to world peace. They also have some offbeat recipes that make even the worst cook pull out the pots and pans. I’ve already started planning my dinner plans after coming across a recipe for red velvet-coated chicken fingers. Sounds interesting, they are supposed to be delicious. As my dad used to say, “Don’t knock it, till you’ve tried it.” The recipes are accompanied by step-by-step instructions, AND pictures, for the culinary-challenged. There are also links to other great food blogs. Definitely a must see.

2. Unusual Things

I came across this blog a couple of days ago. I haven’t read much of it, but it seems pretty interesting. There are some very unusual things discussed on this site. For example, a bean bag chair that looks exactly like a sleeping brown bear, a roof for your bicycle, fruit carvings… I’m sure you get the idea. A good website to learn about some very unique subjects. A lot of archived posts too, the site goes back to 2007.

3. The Daytripper

I couldn’t resist. This is one of my favorite shows. Texas is a huge state with so many things to do. Each episode of this show features the crew visiting a Texas town packing as many fun activities as possible into one day. And in true Texas fashion, most episodes involve a large plate of BBQ. You can catch this show on KERA on Saturday mornings, and also on other cities public broadcasting channels.Their website has a lot of great Texas information and more information about this show, another must see.

4. The Appetizer

I can’t forget this one. The Appetizer is a locally produced radio show featuring a wide array of music. Each episode features tracks from musicians you’ve heard of, but songs you haven’t indulged in. Also, music from up-and-coming artists. AND, interviews and exclusive sessions with many talented artists. The website has links to The Appetizer blog, Facebook, and the brand-new YouTube channel. In fact, an exclusive acoustic session with William Fitzsimmons has just been posted!

So what are you waiting for? Your email and Facebook page could use a quick break.

Know some other great websites? Fill us in, we’d love to hear them.

Don’t Copy That Floppy! Or Cartridge…

The war on illegal software piracy and copying is as old as computer software itself. “Don’t Copy That Floppy” was the big PSA campaign used by the Software Piracy Association (now known as the Software & Information Industry Association) in 1992, when copying a computer game was literally as easy as 1, 2, 3. Today we have DRM, Digital Rights Management, which uses a variety of methods to make sure you’re playing a game or watching a movie you legitimately paid money for, and didn’t just download or torrent from someone. It’s a whole lot harder to get away with piracy today than it was 20 years ago, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Even when it seems like a software company is a step ahead, hackers always find a way to break their new encryption technique. And over the years, some of  these techniques have been very creative.

On the home console side, Nintendo was the leader in the fight against software piracy. In around 1994, the illegal copying of Super Nintendo cartridges was on the rise. The standard in the industry at the time was to use a bit of code called a “checksum.” This is a check that happens usually when you turn on the console. (Much like the region check I posted about earlier.) It adds up a block of code in the game’s memory and checks the sum of that code with a defined number of what it should be. If the sums match, the game runs. If they don’t, it means that something has probably been modified, and it stops the game from functioning. But most software pirates had easily figured out how to bypass that check. So Nintendo decided to try something different this time around with a new game they had coming out: EarthBound. On its own, it’s a remarkable RPG, and probably one of my favorite video games of all time. But even more remarkable is the many anti-piracy safeguards that, in some cases, play tricks on the would-be software pirate.

Nintendo’s first line of defense is a few bits of code that, on startup, checks the SRAM of the cartridge, which is the part where your progress is saved. An official, Nintendo-produced cartridge has 8 kilobytes here, but many copied cartridges have more. So, if this check finds the cart has more than 8KB, it displays the screen on the right and doesn’t allow the game to go any further. Should that test pass, the normal checksum check I mentioned earlier will take place, and if it fails that, it’s back to that blue-orange screen again. If it passes both of these checks, the game boots up normally.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. As I mentioned, software pirates are able to get through these initial checks with great ease. So Nintendo’s next line of defense comes up once you load up your saved game file. It runs another modification check,(Not a checksum, though. It just seems to be checking one variable to make sure it’s zero.) and if this test fails, it doesn’t stop the game, but instead it makes WAY more enemies appear! (See image to the left.) It’s a unique effort, to say the least. It makes the game very difficult and ultimately unenjoyable to scare off the software pirate. But hey, some gamers enjoy a challenge, which is where Nintendo’s last line of defense comes in.

When you get about halfway through the game’s final battle, the game performs one last checksum. But this time, if the test fails, it crashes the game. The screen freezes, and all you can do is turn the game off or press reset. But when you turn the game back on, you confront every gamer’s worst nightmare:

It wipes out your saved games! All the game progress you spent months or even years on goes down the drain and you’re forced to start back at square one! It’s a harsh move by Nintendo to stop cartridge copying, but in a way, shows what piracy does to a software company: it makes all their hard work count for nothing, since they won’t get any money from the illegal copies sold. Unfortunately for Nintendo, the software pirates found a way to track down all the anti-piracy checks and disable them. Copies of the game’s ROM (read-only memory) with crippled anti-piracy codes have been discovered around the internet.

The fight continues in the present day as software developers come up with new, seemingly foolproof ways to safeguard their hard work, but at the same time, software pirates will work just as hard to circumvent them. The war on software piracy continues, and most likely will as long as computer software is around.

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Always on My Mind

Travel is my favorite thing in the world to do. Plane trips, road trips, boat trips, family trips; even just driving around the Dallas metroplex makes me happy. Being on the move is almost a must-do for me. I can’t sit still! I gotta go!

This is the paragraph where I get to brag and tell you all the places I’ve been. I am 20 years old and have covered 40 states. In Texas, my travels extend from Texarkana to El Paso and from Amarillo to Corpus Christi. My abroad travels include Canada, Mexico, Ireland, Northern Ireland and England (which I will get to further experience in 6 days as I take a Study Abroad class in Oxford). Actually, my only England experience so far has been in the London-Heathrow airport for a few hours, so I’m not sure that counts. During Study Abroad, we will hit up France, Germany and possibly a couple other places. Yep, when it comes to traveling, friends, I’ve been everywhere (so I like to think).

Aside from studying in Europe and a possible road trip to Wyoming this summer, there is one destination I have been waiting to arrive at for several years. This destination has eluded my arrival ever since I was an early teenager. I have seen my family go seven times and have even been promised to be taken along, but those promises have come up short. I tried to go last summer, but my unprepared plans fell through. I am talking about Africa; poor, desolate, vibrant, beautiful, hungry, malnourished, majestic, wonderful Africa. On July 28, I will be on my way to Mozambique by way of Beltway Park Baptist Church for a mission trip with Iris Ministries. Finally, Africa is firmly in my sights.

But this coin has two sides. Sure, my shot at Africa has been assured, but why I’m going to the Motherland is far greater in purpose than a simple, selfish travel experience. Our trip is entirely focused on the people of Maputo. My team and I are staying at the children’s home which has around 500 children whose parents have died, abandoned them or have AIDS. Some of these kids were sold as slaves and prostitutes, even at toddler’s age. Our job and mandated mission is to love these kids with all our hearts by praying over them, eating with them, playing games and telling them about what Jesus did for them. But our service is not limited to the orphanage. Teams will be assembled to go into the hospitals and the streets of Maputo to evangelize and pray over the sick. The city dumps will be a hot spot as we sit in the trash with the poor who have nothing and no one. We are going all-out. I am longing for the culture shock and the rugged conditions of seeing widespread poverty, hunger and lack. I have always had a heart for mission work and I hope to continue it my entire life.

But one thing we will keep in mind, the ones we are serving are greater than we are. Yes I said it. The naked, hungry, diseased homeless man in the dumps is better than I am. I will be there to learn from him, not vice versa. Complete humility is the goal for me; the people of Mozambique have already achieved that. Africa is the birthplace of humility and lowliness which are two of the greatest qualities when talking about the Kingdom of Heaven. My team and I are servants of an inverse Kingdom that cannot be shaken. Who can stand against it?

My favorite quote of all time comes from an athlete-turned-missionary, C.T. Studd. The English cricketer served as a missionary in China, India and Africa from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. He famously said:

“Some wish to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.”

On paper, Africa will be another box that is checked on my list of places to go. In eternity, Africa will go further than I have ever been. Happy trails.

Friction

Since the death of Osama bin Laden, there has been a lot of back-and-forth between Christians and American patriots. On that note, there has been even stronger differences amongst Christians, I feel. One of the big questions Christians are asking themselves is, “Should we be celebrating death?” I want to explore the arguments for both Christian viewpoints and discuss a Biblical view. There are highly intelligent people giving reasons to indulge in the swoop of national pride Americans are feeling, and there are equally intelligent people arguing for a more Biblical worldview. So let’s take a step back, stop shouting, catch our breath, and look into the teachings of Jesus.

First we will take the case of the “patriotic Christian”. The patriotic Christian loves his country; from unalienable rights, to our founding fathers, to the constitution, the patriotic Christian upholds his history. He raises his flag and recites the pledge of allegiance that brings him a sense of pride, honor and the freedom that God has blessed him with. He holds true that God has had a helping hand in the development of this fine nation. He supports his troops and prays they can return home safely, and is saddened when one falls. But most importantly, he believes in the Holy Bible.

The patriotic Christian views the death of Osama bin Laden as an act of global justice that brings the nation one step closer to peace and security. He found the news of bin Laden’s death to be a victorious day for America. This view comes out of a love for God and country. To back up his feelings towards injustice, he may resort to the Bible to show that bin Laden may have had this coming. For example, King David writes, “that you may plunge your feet in the blood of your foes…” (Psalm 68:23 NIV). Another popular scripture that the patriotic Christian loves to use also comes from the ancient Israeli king, saying, “O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me” (Psalm 25:2 NKJV). These verses emphasize triumph and victory with the help and support of a loving God. Patriotic Christians may say justice has been served, and the Bible supports this claim.

So, what about the other Christian view? You know, the view that says Christians should not celebrate the death of bin Laden. We will call these Christians “Kingdom Christians” because of a focus on Heaven as a nationality rather than American nationality. Kingdom Christians see themselves as aliens in the United States, even if they were born here. The Kingdom Christian sees the United States as secondary in terms of allegiance. They hold the words of Jesus to be true, practical, and relevant to today’s society. They may see the Christian worldview as superior to any other worldview. They find freedom in relationship with Jesus, not in the nation’s constitution. The Kingdom Christian holds the view that God’s grace is available to everyone who calls on the name of Jesus, even if they are murderers.

The Kingdom Christian views the death of Osama bin Laden as an act of anger and revenge that was acted out of a bitter heart rather than godliness. They find the news of bin Laden’s death as saddening because the Kingdom Christian realizes that a man who did not know Jesus will spend an eternity in crisis. This view comes out of the identity of a child of God. The Kingdom Christian will instantly look into the teachings of Jesus to settle his argument. He will take verses such as, “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…” (Luke 6:27 NKJV). He may even quote outside of the New Testament from the book of Ezekiel and say, “As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live…” (Ezekiel 33:11 ESV). Kingdom Christians find the thought of bin Laden surrendering to Jesus in his final moments to receive forgiveness, ultimately enlightening. Kingdom Christians say love your enemies and the Bible supports this claim.

So where are you? Personally, I give my allegiance to the Lord before I ever consider pledging to the United States. I uphold the Kingdom Christian worldview.

Where is the line? Who is crossing it? And where is Jesus in all the friction?

What shall I do?

Several days ago, I had a conversation with a friend from Japan. I asked about the situation there after the tsunami, she said, “The hopelessness is more terrible than the disaster. ”

She told me a story.

A man was in an important position to help save the town where his family lived.

When the disaster happened, he could either quit doing his job or go back home to save his wife. But in that case, more people’s lives would be claimed. He chose to stay in his position instead of going back home. His two children were evacuated and saved at school but his wife died. When he was talking on TV, he cried with guilt and shame. He felt like it was his obligation to stay and save the town, but he could not forgive himself.

A classic value debate topic is: is it justified to sacrifice one life to save a thousand? People have argued on this topic for thousands of years but are still not able to get an absolutely correct answer. It looks rational to sacrifice one life and save a thousand because a thousand is a larger number than one. However, what if the one person you sacrificed is able to find the vaccine for HIV and then change millions of human lives? What if you saved the thousand whom you’ve never known but sacrificed the love of your life? It looks ethical, but what will come to fill the sadness, darkness and emptiness in your heart? We cannot weigh lives the way we weigh vegetables. Ten pound tomatoes are worth more than one pound, but a life may not weigh less than a thousand. That’s where the confusion and anguish come from.

Situations that the Japanese man faced is a dilemma, a dilemma of life and death, a dilemma of morality and love for his family. He could not give up any of them but he had to.

I do not know how to answer a question like, if your mother and your children are drowning in a river, and you can only save one, whom will you save?I avoid looking for the answer because I don’t want headaches. The debate on this dilemma will never end. I wish I will never have to face dilemmas like this in life, but if I do, no matter what I choose, there will be a hole in my heart filled with sadness, and no one can explain the reason except my sign to myself: after all, this is a fallen world.

The Duty of a Broadcaster

This past Thursday, we had a tornado drill at the Don Morris building, where KACU is housed. I received an email earlier that week explaining what each of the faculty members should do, evacuation routes, etc. But one thing that really got me was that it said that the on-air announcer had to stay behind to relay information, had this been an actual tornado, and at the time of the drill, I was the on-air announcer.

At first I was a little uncomfortable. While everyone else evacuated to safer grounds, I was supposed to stay where I was: in a radio control room surrounded by soundproof windows. I thought, sarcastically, “Wow! I sure feel safe!” But upon further thinking, I began to realize that this was really part of the job.

As a broadcaster and journalist, it’s my duty to relay the important information that others need to know, and to tell the story of what’s happening in what might not always be the safest area. While most broadcasters aren’t directly in harm’s way as often as, say, the armed forces, there are still times when disaster strikes in the blink of an eye, and we need to be there to tell the story, and give the information as it happens accurately and efficiently.

There are some journalists and broadcasters who are in harms way just about as often as our troops, because they travel with our troops. They relay information and stories from the battlefield back home to a country who is concerned about their sons and daughters fighting abroad. Other broadcasters and journalists spend weeks on end in extremely hostile areas such as Libya and Syria, where free speech and press is anything but encouraged. But it’s all part of the job, and some people like Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros, two photojournalists killed in their line of duty this week while reporting on the ever-violent situation in Libya, put it all on the line and made the ultimate sacrifice to get the message out, in a land where the media is conspicuously controlled.

Now, as I begin to move more into the professional field and begin to wonder how much more my chosen occupation will ask of me in the near future, I realize that sometimes the situation will call for me to be in the path of the storm. It will ultimately be up to me to have courage to stay calm and tell the story when more people than ever will want to hear it. It will be easy to just run away, but if I don’t tell the story, who will?

Good Ole’ Home Remedies.

The other day, a friend shared via Facebook that her little boy wasn’t feeling well. He was sick throughout the night, and the poor child couldn’t even keep water down. Another friend commented that to keep her son from getting dehydrated, she should prepare some jello.  But instead of placing it in the fridge to solidify, she should pour it in a glass and let it cool room temperature. Apparently, this recipe made a homemade version of Pedialyte. The friend swore by it, saying that it was not only cheaper than the store bought drink, but also that children tend to like it  better because it can be made in a variety of flavors.

This got me thinking, what other home remedies are hiding out there. I remember when I was little, my grandmother had a book titled, Natural Home Remedies. This book had a homemade answer for everything. Back then I didn’t pay attention to the huge book, now I am more than curious about successful home remedies.

I found a great collection of unusual home remedies on The People’s Pharmacy’s website, a show that you can catch on KACU Wednesday at 1pm.

Here are some I that found interesting:

1. Black pepper for cuts: I have always heard that if you are clipping your pet’s nails and you accidentally draw blood, place the paw in a pile of pepper. Well, did you know that you can put a bit of pepper on a cut or gash? It is supposed to stop the bleeding sooner and help the injury heal with minimal scarring.

2. Chocolate for hiccups: This remedy sounds delicious. Next time you get a case of the hiccups, grab a handful of chocolate chips. I think I feel a case coming on right now.

3. Coffee for asthma: This one is only considered a short-term remedy. For relief from wheezing, if the medicine will take a while to reach, a couple of cups of coffee could gave some relief. The caffeine in coffee is similar to the asthma medicine, theophylline.

There are many other remedies on The People’s Pharmacy, posted by experts and listeners.

A reminder that home remedies should not substitute for doctor and medical care. Should you encounter an emergency, contact medical professionals immediately.

Do you have a home remedy that you think everyone should know about? Share with us, I would love to hear it.

Top 5 iPhone Games You Should Be Playing Instead of “Angry Birds”

At the beginning of this year, Angry Birds was knocked off it’s perch at the top spot in the iPhone App Store after months and months ruling the roost. Of course it’s presence (which includes the original Angry Birds and a few of it’s many variations) in the App Store Top 25 lists, smartphones of all shapes and sizes, and now in children’s board games is still extremely strong. I’ve tried it, and I think it’s alright, but certainly not one of the best iOS games out there. Here’s a few of my picks that I think shoot Angry Birds out of the sky!

#5 – Fast Striker – $.99

NG:DEV.TEAM has been credited with keeping now obsolete consoles like the Neo-Geo and the Sega Dreamcast alive years after they were discontinued by their respective companies. “Fast Striker” is their first game on the iPhone and their first foray into mainstream gaming. It’s a port of their Neo-Geo game of the same name, (also available on Dreamcast) which pushed the 20-year old console to it’s limits. Of course, the iPhone has no problem keeping up, and it looks gorgeous! It’s a shoot-em-up in the same vein as “Star Soldier” where the goal is to score as many points as possible. With four game modes, this game has plenty of replay value long after you make it through the game’s 6 challenging stages. Using pre-rendered polygonal models, the game creates a metallic landscape with tons of enemies shooting hundreds of bullets, which all move smoothly on-screen. It’s definitely something that the simple screenshot I posted won’t do justice to. At 99 cents, it’s easy to see this for yourself, and hear the rocking techno-trance soundtrack that’s sure to make people want to look over on your iDevice’s screen. It might take you a few tries to really get the feel for this shooter, but give it a chance you’ll be blasting entire armadas of ships in no time!

#4 – The Texting of the Bread – $1.99

This game is, in a sense, a parody of “The Typing of the Dead,” which itself was a parody of “The House of the Dead,” a series of zombie shooter games by Sega. In this game you must fend off wave after wave of evil zombie-like gingerbread men by typing the words that appear above their heads using the on-screen iPhone keyboard. Sounds easy, and if you’re a fast texter you’ll breeze through the first few levels, but then you start encountering the enemies that take two or three words to kill, followed by the giant gingerbread boss that takes a short paragraph to kill! No one said surviving the gingerbread apocalypse was easy, right? After getting through the story-mode, you can see how long you can last in Survival Mode, where they literally just… keep… coming! This game from ScrewAttack is a must-have for the txt savvy iPhone gamer.

#3 – Bit.Trip: BEAT – $.99 

When this game by Gaijin Games first hit WiiWare, it won tons of indie game awards. A jump to the iPhone, which at the time was a growing platform for indie developers, seemed like a match made in heaven. If you owned an Atari 2600 or played some variation of Pong or Breakout, you’ll feel right at home with this game. Using you paddle, controlled by tilting your device for that nice retro controller touch, you have to hit back the incoming bits. It starts out easy, but gets mind-blowingly challenging towards the end of the game! To help you out, the bits come in time with the music, that you’ll probably find stuck in your head hours after you’ve played this game. (The soundtrack, believe it or not, is also available on iTunes.) Like most games of this sort, it’s easy to learn, difficult to master, and you’ll find yourself trying to beat the scores on the game center leaderboard. You can also co-op with up to three people either locally or online. This game brings back the fun of yesteryear, mixed with a bit of modern flair to make a game you’ll be coming back to a lot!

#2 – Chu Chu Rocket – $2.99 

10 years ago, Sega released Chu Chu Rocket on the Dreamcast as the one of the first console games to feature online multi-player. Since then the servers have closed, but the game received new life when it hit the App Store last Fall. This is a complete port of the Dreamcast game, but with the newly implemented touch screen controls, this game feels like it was made for the iPhone! The goal is simple: you need to direct the ChuChus (mice) from their hole into the rocket, but at the same time you must avoid the evil orange space cats! You do this by placing arrows with a swipe of your finger to direct them around the game’s 500 mazes and challenges. But this game really shines in the multi-player modes. It’s fast-paced, frantic action that you and three others can enjoy, by either local bluetooth or online. Sega designed this to be a party game, so this means the tables can turn at the drop of a cat… err, hat. When you get this game, you’ll be partying like it’s 1999!

#1 – Street Fighter IV – $4.99

Truth be told, this isn’t the best version of Street Fighter IV, but for an iPhone game this is one of the best looking, and one of the case-makers for the iPhone as a serious gaming handheld. As I mentioned in my review of Capcom Arcade, one of the biggest obstacles in the way of iPhone gaming is the fact that it has no buttons, but finally, someone did it right! The onscreen controls work extremely well. As a veteran Street Fighter, I was able to jump right in and hurl a few hadokens at my opponent! For new players, the game is inviting with special move assists, but still has the depth of a Street Fighter game that experienced players should enjoy. The animation is extremely smooth, perhaps not as much as its XBOX360 and PS3 counterparts, but for iPhone standards, this works great. If you’ve wanted to get into the Street Fighter franchise, this is a great place to start.

The iPhone may not have as good a library as a dedicated portable game console such as the Nintendo DS or Sony PSP, but it’s certainly has some titles not to be missed if you own an iDevice. Games in the App Store are designed for intermittent gaming sessions on the go. They’re easy to pick up and play, and are easy to put on hold. Big name game developers like Capcom, Sega, Namco, and a myriad of indie developers are just beginning to get below the surface of what this device is capable of, and many industry journalists such as myself will be keeping an eye on it for years to come.

* all prices accurate as of the time of writing

Fly Thoughts

It’s funny how ideas can slip away from you. They are so fragile and delicate that most of them must be spoken out loud immediately, or else they lose their effectiveness and meaning. Even the idea I had for writing this post has slowly melted and decomposed the longer I have held on to it. But I’m going to try it anyway.

I recently came across the idea of thoughts and ideas acting like sand in your grip. No matter how tight you hold on to the sand, almost the same amount of sand will escape your hand every time. The “theory” is that the longer you hold on to your thoughts, the less meaning they hold. Let me give you an example. Have you ever been in a rapid-fire conversation with two or more people when countless topics arise in a short period of time? You could be talking about the greatness of baseball which leads your friend into a semi off-topic mockery of the Florida Marlins because he is a Phillies fan. That short conversation about the Marlins urges your other friend to talk about the Coral Reef because he happens to be a preservationist. That conversation leads to a discussion about life, which leads to aliens, which leads to God, which leads to Mozambique, and so on.

Eventually, your ideas that you wanted to share about baseball have diminished and lost most of their meaning. In fact, it would even be kind of awkward to bring baseball back up after all that chit-chat. Although you desperately want to discuss your baseball ideas, because of the wild goose chase conversations, the way you wanted to express your ideas have almost entirely gone.

This is actually kind of weird because I had the idea of writing about this while having a conversation with Dave Smith, the director of operations here at KACU. That conversation happened almost two weeks ago. Now, I have fallen victim to the very thing that I am blogging about! I feel as though my ideas have slightly slipped through my mind and I only have the leftovers to post to this blog.

I wonder if you have any thoughts on this idea. I think we have all been victim of the “sand in hand” conversations. If you do have thoughts on this idea, I would urge you to share it… as quickly as you can.