2001 – Undergrads

During my freshman year of college, I stumbled on to a show that was about life… in college. Undergrads only lasted for a season, after originally airing on MTV. It was MTV’s era of trying several new animated shows, but because nobody ever knew what time something was going to be aired on MTV, every single show flopped after just a season. But many of them, like this one, gained cult followings.

Undergrads‘ protagonist is Nitz – we’re never given his real name… even Nitz forgets what his real time is from time to time, never spitting it out. Nitz is the prototypical un-cool kid. He has his clique of friends, likes things the way they are, doesn’t really want to go out and do the things that college kids do. He’s content.

The rest of the ensemble includes Cal, the lady-killer, Rocko, the jock, and Gimpy, the geek. Nitz meets a few new friends at college, and repeatedly bumps in to his high-school crush, Kimmy. As we take the Undergrads crew through their freshman year of college, you can see it laying out plans for at least a 4-year series as the youngsters grow up, learning about life in college, before life on their own.

The show actually does a decent job of portraying life on campus – you can see Nitz struggle with finding a club or organization he wants to belong to, the trouble with the dreaded “freshman 15” weight gain, student loan problems, deciding whether or not to drink alcohol, and the infamous “walk of shame.” And with a great cast of characters, you get to see nearly every side of every argument and make up your mind what works best for you!

Overall, Undergrads isn’t the funniest thing I’ve ever seen, but it has so many great moments I still love to go back and watch an episode every now and then. If you find every ounce of the show completely unrelatable, then you are probably too cool to be watching cartoons at your age!

With Xbox Live Gold, is Netflix Free?

UPDATE: As part of a recent (June 2014) delivering more choices for fans announcement, Microsoft stated that Xbox 360 and Xbox One users will no longer require Xbox Live Gold memberships to use Netflix. Originally, you were required to pay for Xbox Live Gold and have a Netflix subscription (this was not included with your Gold subscription). Now all you need is a Netflix subscription. If you already have a Gold subscription for the other benefits, you can keep it up – but if you are considering letting it expire, at least you can continue to use Netflix on your TV through your Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

The update change is likely to begin around June 9th, 2014. June is all that has been confirmed, but there is a rumored dashboard update for around June 9th that will likely “unlock” these features. From Microsoft: “Coming in June, anyone with an Xbox will be able to access popular entertainment experiences – whether or not you have an Xbox Live Gold membership. This includes great gaming apps like Machinima, Twitch and Upload, popular video services like Netflix, Univision Deportes, GoPro, Red Bull TV and HBO GO, sports experiences like the NFL app for Xbox One, MLB.TV, NBA Game Time, NHL Game Center and more.” If you recently signed up for Xbox Live, specifically to use apps like these, you can read more details about the changes and even request a refund of recently purchased Xbox Live memberships after the update is released in June.

Original article follows.

You may have recently purchased an Xbox 360 to use it as a media player, more so than for gaming. NPD numbers show that 360’s are the top selling console for nearly two straight years, now. But as you’re trying to get this all set up, you learn that Microsoft requires you to buy Xbox Live Gold membership packages, in order to use Netflix. Although I have explained that Gold Status has its benefits, I did not answer a popular question: is Netflix Free with Xbox Live? Unfortunately, the answer is no.

Microsoft isn’t double dipping – Netflix is charging their fee, and Microsoft is charging theirs. As seen in the link above, there are other reasons to “Go Gold.” But people who plan to just use the Xbox as a glorified Netflix box, may want to consider the PS3, which currently has no fee. The Wii and Wii U also can access Netflix (though the Wii cannot do it in Hi-Def, and the Wii-Slim can’t access the internet at all, from what I understand). Although those platforms do not currently charge any of their own fees, I am a firm believer that you get what you pay for. I trust Microsoft the most, and since I am taking advantages of the other services Gold level membership offers, I don’t mind. But, a rude surprise for some, is that most, if not all, of the apps available on the Xbox 360 require you to maintain your Gold status membership. The good news is, you can always try to find a discounted subscription card.

Prank Test Drive

I saw this a few weeks ago. Some of it is obviously set up (it goes without saying, “professional driver, closed course”). And I’m sure that even the dealership had to at least have some inkling that something was going to happen. But I genuinely can’t tell if the guy in the test drive is an actor or just some poor car salesman who had no clue what to expect? Either way, it’s a decent watch – even for something that’s just basically a commercial!

Are you a completionist?

For as long as people have kept track of things, completionists have existed. I find that many people are completionists, but it’s only a question of to what degree? Today, I’m curious about gaming completionists, of course.

The first game that I knew of that really kept track of your progress was Super Mario World. There were secret methods, like the color of the level’s “dot” on the map, to find out if there was more than one exit. To top it off, the game actually let you earn up to ★96. I thought I was on a quest to achieve 100%, but we only needed to find enough secrets to earn a score of 96. Then came Donkey Kong Country. I thought I had 100%, but you could earn 101%! Keeping with tradition, Donkey Kong Country 2 and 3 allowed you to earn 102 and 103%, respectively. In my life, Nintendo carried on the tradition, by having a completely unpredictable number of stars in Super Mario 64. I had thought I beat the game when I was younger, then a friend told me that you could actually get 120 stars, I was on the hunt to find what I was missing, and eventually found them all, without the help of guides or the still “GameFAQs-less” internet.

These days people are more obsessed with Gamerscore on their Xbox 360 – the guys at Achievement Hunter hate when they don’t have every Gamerscore Point out of every game. If there isn’t a game with a perfect score on their list, they obsess over it, and will go back and play it until they can get a perfect 1,000 out of 1,000, or 1,250/1,250. On the Xbox 360, I was just about having a high gamerscsore number, how I obtained it and whether or not I “100%’d” a game didn’t matter to me, I just liked earning achievements. I lived for the achievement unlocked sound!

Perhaps it’s a form of OCD, but now that I’m conscious of these possible scores, I find myself going directly for them when I play classic games. For example, recently popped in Super Mario 64 and started playing from a brand new game file, from the beginning. I wouldn’t move on from a level until I had achieved every star in that level. When I wanted to finish playing, I had a hard time turning off the system until I at least cleared the level I was on. I’m playing to remember the good ol’ days, but also to challenge myself. I remind myself that I did this when I was 12 years old, without any cheats, or guidebooks. I can do it again. I can find the secrets, and can move swiftly throughout the game. In one my first sitting back I had already unlocked 42 of the 120 stars, and I’m excited to give the game another go soon.

So what games do you remember obsessing over? Anything in particular that you had to play without putting down? What’s the first game you remember coming to the realization that it was keeping track, and you had to prove yourself to it? Feel free to leave a comment.

Kickstarter, don't fail me now

I have only backed a few things on Kickstarter, so far. All of them geeky. Not only was one of them Ouya, but another upcoming gaming “console” has reached funding, this time in the form of the Gamestick.

Although their fundraising goals were not as ambitious, and they were not overfunded by 800%, Gamestick still shows promise. It is a device that plugs into your television via HDMI port, is powered by the HDMI port, and plays games via a wireless controller where the HDMI stick rests when not in use. While I don’t genuinely believe that either of these new consoles is going to disrupt the current marketplace, I am excited to see that they are ushering in a new era of gaming. Ultra portable, far more independent, and not tied to any old traditional methods.

Although we may not remember either Gamestick or Ouya in ten years (or perhaps they will surprise us all and come to dominate the market), I will be proud to have these first consoles of a new generation. I keep thinking that this should be tomorrow’s gaming post, but really I just want to talk about the future. I’m very excited that this is happening while I’m here to witness it. I don’t know if inexpensive consoles, with annual hardware refreshes is really the future. I also don’t know if indie development is really going to take off in a way that supplants and replaces the current need for high budget studios. But even if both of these consoles end up on the shelf next to my Virtual Boy, as a rare collectible in geek history, I’m going to be very proud to know that I was there, and an active supporter of something new.