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September 24, 2009 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-09-24

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48 - Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


45 - Thursday, September 24, 2009 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

When side scrollers were king

Daily Arts Writer
Even when video arcades were in decline in the
United States in the 1990s, Japanese developers con-
tinued to innovate and produce excellentcoin-operat-
ed games. By the mid-'90s, fighting games came into
their own and began captivating hardcore gamers.
Scrolling shooters (aka "shmups") had already gone
through a golden age with hits like "Gradius" and
"R-Type," and the genre still had life left in it. At the
time, developers favored vertical-scrolling shmups
with faster action and more projectiles on screen,
leading to an arms race which would later come to a
head with games like the manic "DoDonPachi." Even
so, in an age of vertical-scrolling dominance, the
"Darius" series maintained a slower pace and stuck
to the less popular horizontal-scrolling style.
The original "Darius" was like an overly eager
younger brother to "Gradius," with solid but unre-
markable gameplay. It tried to set itself apart with
its three-screen-wide display and enemies inspired
by all manners of marine life. Unfortunately, both
of these elements were nothing more than gim-
micks. Eventually Taito, the development team,
ditched the three-screen format and took the series
more seriously. "Darius Gaiden" elevated the fran-
chise from curiosity to classic with its unforgettable
atmospheres and bosses.
As in any game where the player controls a space
ship that bad things constantly try to destroy, the
objective of "Darius Gaiden" is to not get constantly
killed. Past the first level, non-expert players will
be hard-pressed to not die over and over again.
Not only do enemies come from all sides, but their
unpredictable behavior and kamikaze tendencies
ensure the player never gets too comfortable. The
only way to deal with some foes is to use the ship's
diagonally firing missiles, adding a unique wrinkle
to the gameplay. And as with any shmup, players are
granted a limited number of bombs that wipe out
everything on screen. In this case, the bomb creates
a black hole which sucks in all nearby enemies and
If anything sticks after a run-through of "Darius

Gaiden," it's the bizarre music. The soundtrack is
hard to describe, drawing influence from electron-
ica, new age, jazz and opera. Yes, opera. One of the
game's recurring themes is a female vocalist belting
out incoherent stanzas in an operatic manner. The
other vocal-driven song features more conventional
singing, though sounding like Bjork isn't exactly
conventional either. Add delicate piano, buzzing
synths, discord and heavy reverb into the mix, and
the result is a soundtrack oozing with mystery.
Like the soundtrack, the visuals are quirky and
demand the player's attention. The game doesn't
shy away from using gaudy, clashing colors. The
programmers of "Darius Gaiden" pulled out all the
stops, using multiple background layers, sprite scal-
ing and rotation for pseudo-3-D perspective tricks
If you go back to 1994 to
play shmups, make this
your first choice.
and even transparency effects. Much of the action
takes place in outer space or underwater, but occa-
sional acid-trip moments (especially during boss
fights) break up any monotony in the scenery.
More remarkable, though, are the designs of
the enemies themselves - those gleaming, multi-
segmented, snaggle-toothed, death-dealing robotic
fish. They look appropriately organic, yet sinister.
Best of all are the game's boss monsters, including
the multi-screen-filling, transforming orange squid
named "Titanic Lance," or the pink and blue, cyclo-
pean, tentacle-launching jellyfish dubbed "Curious
Chandelier." The sprites are lovingly detailed works
of art in themselves.
It's no small wonder that "Darius Gaiden" man-
aged to stand out in an overcrowded, formulaic
genre. Taito, in producing this classic, showed that
even the most simple, action-driven games can ben-
efit from clever aesthetic choices.


Nas performed at EMU in February toa crowd of around 4,000 people.

Entrepreneurs in action

"Parkour! Parkour!'
The pathos that stemmed from his
THE OFFICE inability to relate to other people
From Page 3B gave the show emotional heft,
Michael in season six, however,
is presented less like a real per-
marks a departure from "The son and more like a stereotypical
Office" formula. His cartoony "wacky" sitcomboss. The showhas
behavior, while amusing, stands shifted from a mockumentary that
in jarring contrast to the quiet, actually felt like a documentary to
observation-based sensibility a sitcom masquerading as reality.
shared by the other members of While it's not horrible, the show
the cast. Michael Scott has under- has definitely been declawed.
gone a similar transformation: Interestingly, "The Office"

From Page 1B
"We kind of get ahead ourselves a little bit," hecon-
fessed. "We see the opportunity. So the opportunity
was there and we kind of realized pretty early on in
the process that, shit, this is a pretty big undertaking,
but we managed to cope with it pretty well."
Social Studyz LLC has proven to be more useful
than Lynn and Javer expected. Both agree that their
group has helped them to apply what they're being
taught in class to real world situations. Lynn even
spent his summer working for a music agency, explor-
ing a potential career.
"It's showing us how to really operate a company,"
Lynn said.
"I feel like we're taking a lot of what we're learning
in school and it's great to apply them because a lot of
times in school you're going to read from a textbook
and you're going to learn, but you're not really able to
apply those skills," Javer said.
It seems as though Lynn and Javer have a talent
for promoting and marketing, and they show no
signs of slowing down. Social Studyz LLC has taken
on more projects this year with at least two more
local concerts in the works for this fall. One concert
is scheduled to be at EMU. The other one, slated to
be at the Michigan Theater, is planned for the week-
end of the Ohio State game. Lynn and Javer aren't
allowed to mention any specific artists they're look-
ing to bring to town, but they expect to land more
marquee hip-hop acts.
As if their work with Social Studyz isn't reward-

ing - and time-consuming - enough, Lynn and Javer
now have a new partner (LSA senior Bennett Washa-
baugh) and a new business endeavor to pour their
efforts into: They recently established Go Blue Bev-
erages, a business where students can order all sorts
of drinks and have them delivered to their door at a
discounted price.
At face value, Lynn and Javer seem just like any
other typical college kids. What sets them apart is
their ingenuity, resolve and desireto create the social
and music scene they wanted for themselves and
Social Studyz brought
Nas to campus, and they
won't stop there.
their campus. And their courage to tackle enormous
undertakings with major names (and dollar figures)
on the line doesn't hurt. Putting their fates into their
own hands, the two created their own company, a
time-consuming yet rewarding hobby that enabled
them to put together stadiums filled with students
screaming away at big-name music acts.
If it seems impossible to get two dozen friends to
show up at your house on a Friday nightto drink your
beer, imagine getting aworld-renowned performer to
put on a show in your town's backyard. And imagine
getting thousands of students to pay to see it. That
sounds impossible. And Adam.Lynn and Jason Javer
did it. And they'll do it again.


has become big business: It's the
cornerstone of NBC's Thursday
night comedy lineup, sandwiched
between its quasi-spinoff "Parks
and Recreation" and the critically
acclaimed "Community." It'll be
interesting to see if the show can
continue to hold its audience and
draw viewers to the network's
upstart shows, but the stagnant
season premiere, while not awful,
raises the question of how much
life "The Office" has left.

From Page 3B
That's just the kind of outside-
the-box thinking we can always
expect from a small-town hockey
mom. She doesn't follow your left-
coast, elitist clocks or mainstream
gotcha time zones. Besides, the
governor's got a lot on her plate
right now; those death panel lies
aren't going to spread themselves.
Finally, the Governor can
refuse the dinner if "the winning
bidder is not a suitable bidder
based on her subjective standards
of suitability, professionalism,
background and other factors."
"Suitability?" Just wait until
she sees me in a navy-blue three-
button. "Professionalism?" Since
professions are pretty slim these
days, I think I'm in the clear.
"Background and other factors?"
Jewish, leftist, atheist. Check,
check and double check. Sarah,
here I come!

I imagine ambling into a
redwood-adorned, cabin-themed
restaurant to find the former
Governor and First Dude waiting
for me, both furiously tweeting
away on their Blackberrys. The
food arrives almost immediately,
as do the children: Willow, and
Piper carrying Trig in her arms.
The governor grabs hold of the
youngest and continuously rocks
him throughout the nearly 12
minutes we would spend togeth-
er. It's only then that I notice the
phalanx of photographers lined
up behind me, as a barrage of
shutter clicks capture the former
first family of Alaska in a beatific
recreation of The Last Supper.
Palin spends most of the dinner
tending to the kids, batting away
each question I ask with a "Well,
gosh" or "You betcha." Todd
does most of the talking, and
most of the talking is about snow
As I snap out of what could only
be described as a Palin-induced
fever dream, I see that the final

bid has been accepted and, drum
roll please, dinner with Sarah
Palin has been sold for $63,500.
This is slightly less than a new
2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
($65,000) and significantly more
than what an average American
household makes in a year (around
Suddenly, I can feel a tinge of
regret for putting all of my heart,
not to mention one much-missed
kidney, so fully into a dream now
lost. But, I suppose, that's what
chasing down your dreams is
all about: taking a risk and see-
ing where it takes you. You can't
know how things will turn out,
the repercussions that may fol-
low, what giving up everything
you have for a chance at that brass
ring will lead to and you definitely
can't foresee how it all may effect
the rest of your life.
Just ask John McCain.
Smilovitz is auctioning off a
dinner date. Tell him what you want
him to sign at zachis@umich.edu.


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