My Blu period

I have a terrible confession to make… I bought a couple of Blu-ray movies. I know. I’m weak.

I mean, I have this PS3 that I bought because I know I’ll need it for work, but so far all I’ve done with it is play Final Fantasy XII with uglier graphics than I’d get playing through my PS2. And that’s just stupid. So I decided a few Blu-ray discs would make me feel a little less guilty about jumping the gun on adopting this chunk of hardware. Yeah, the system came with Talladega Nights, but it would be a travesty to christen a new piece of hardware with a Will Ferrell movie. It’s like buying a new top-of-the-line Mac and launching Jared, Butcher of Song on it first thing to celebrate.

Much to my dismay, I was totally and completely impressed by Blu-ray’s visual quality. It wasn’t supposed to be like this! Next-gen formats were supposed to offer a negligible upgrade! I’ve got a progressive-scan DVD player that looks totally great on my TV, so I was supposed to be able to sniff disdainfully and stick with the old media. I even grabbed a copy of Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut to weight the comparison in my favor; after all, how good could a 25-year-old movie reedited with incomplete effects shots and footage possibly look good?

But no. It looks amazing, even downscaled to my TV’s 720p resolution. The detail in every scene is unbelievable, the light in previously dull interior takes on a glowing luminosity, and there’s no more shearing in action sequences. It makes my old DVDs look grainy and washed out. It is, in short, really quite annoying. Fortunately, there’s this whole stupid format battle (thanks, Hollywood) between Blu-ray and HD-DVD that needs to be resolved, so caution tells me not to get too wrapped up in either format until the smoke has cleared and one or both are dead.

Weirdly, I’d sort of like Blu-ray to come out on top, and not simply because I already own a player. I just feel sorry for Sony these days — the company’s ineptitude has become a thing of mythic proportions, culminating in this week’s absolutely embarrassing Emmy debacle, and they really need a win somewhere to boost their self-esteem. They’re certainly not doing too well on the gaming front. Besides, after the grim deaths of Betamax, MiniDisc, UMD and (inevitably) Memory Stick, I figure they deserve a victory just for trying. Blu-ray: The “Most Improved Player” award of the format wars.

In other news, SF MUNI’s new light rail line opens today, which is approximately totally great. This strikes me as a fairly big deal given that (1) it’s delightfully un-American to favor light rail over much cheaper buses and (2) it provides fairly high-quality service to a corner of the city which tends to be given short shrift due to the fact that it’s largely mired in poverty.

Mostly, though, I’m happy because it means the train line I ride every day should adopt a much more predictable service schedule. Sorry, my social consciousness is all a horrible sham.

Lakitu looks an awful lot like Jerry Holkins in this image. UNNERVING! UNCANNY!

FORUM FUN: Nintendo Super Squad 15 has been belched into existence and confirms pretty much everything we knew to be true about Lakitu. Out of curiosity, do you guys pronounce his name LA-ki-tu or La-KI-tu? I discovered recently that the former seems much prevalent. I’ve always gone with the latter, but I’m pretty sure that’s because Elton John’s “Nikita” was always on the radio when Super Mario Bros. was at its peak of popularity and for some reason I kind of mashed the two together. “Oh Lakitu is it cold/In your little corner of the world?” Yeah, that’s probably more than you needed to know about me.

Also, someone at 1UP’s forums mentioned that IGN took a swipe at EGM this week about fact-checking, which is, all things considered, pretty ironic.

22 thoughts on “My Blu period

  1. This seemed to get lost in the other posting so I’l re-post the question here:


    This is the third week without a Retronauts podcast. :( I can understand the holiday break. Please don’t tell us the podcast has been discontinued (which would be a big disappointment). What happened to the episode that you were going to do about game music? Also, in a previous podcast Chris Kohler eluded to a podcast that discussed Donkey Kong (at which point you cut him off stating that the podcast had been recorded but not yet released so Kohler shouldn’t discuss it). What happened to that podcast? I’d love to hear it…even if it is in the old format, which I enjoyed as much as the new format.

    Jet Pilot

  2. Well, in JP, you can only switch the “pitch” of a word once, meaning it’s either gonna be LA-ki-tu or la-KI-TU. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess.

  3. Do the changes in Superman II work well? I always liked the movie, but little things like Superman’s inexplicable re-acquisition of his powers, the fact that the U.S. President has the authority to just hand the world over to Zod, and the way Clark Kent and Lois were able to just drive from the Arctic (even though Lois didn’t bring her car because Superman flew her there) really bugged me and kept me from appreciating the movie as much as I could have.

  4. I think Lakitu’s Japanese name is Jugem or Jugemu, like Kishi mentioned, so the nuances of Japanese pronunciation don’t really apply here.

    I pronounce it “the little guy sitting in a cloud”.

  5. I’m not sure why Blu-ray looks good on your 720p set either, because here’s the thing: the PS3 currently won’t downscale BD movie output to 720p. It’s a widely-decried oddity of the firmware that it’ll play BD in 1080i, or 1080p, or 480p. 720 is right out. So if you’re downscaling it, it means you’re either seeing it in 1080i (in which case, maybe it might look better) or 480p (in which case, I can’t imagine it’d be appreciatively different than DVD).

  6. My guess is it’s being sent to his TV set in 1080i and his TV is handling the scaling. Which could look alright, depending on whether or not his set does a fair job of it.

    This is just like how I’d have to depend on my CRT’s so-so upscaling to play Resistance, which is why I haven’t yet.

  7. So tell me because I am confused. Do you have to have an HDMI input to take advantage of anything beyond 480p? If so, new TVs for me.

  8. I don’t really care about HD formats yet. I won’t have an appropiate TV set for the next 10 years, and PS3 (arguably the cheapest Blu-ray player around for the next three thousand years) is nearly $1300 where I live.
    Also, I always went for LA-ki-tu, even though it shouldn’t be pronounced like that in Spanish. Odd.

  9. If you haven’t seen Taladega Nights yet, I have a suggestion: just imagine Will Farrell is George Bush. The movie becomes a scathing political satire about U.S. foreign policy.

  10. I actually say Lai-ki… and then start mumbling syllables until I die in a futal attempt evade his bombardment.

  11. Yes, my TV is faking 1080i and doing the downsampling that the PS3 is incapable of. Maaaaaybe Sony doesn’t deserve that consolation prize after all.

  12. Woah … I saw “futal” and for a moment I, too, forgot how to spell “futile”. It was crazy. Google asked me if I meant “futsal” and I learned information I will never verify about indoor association soccer from Wikipedia. There was panic in the streets. I closed my eyes, took a deep break, and let my fingers find their way to the truth. They typed “fuatl”. I think someone died, and I think it might have been me. And then it hit me. “Futile!” It’s spelled “futile”.

  13. You also forgot another of Sony’s forgettable formats, the SACD (Super Audio Compact Disc), which competed with the DVD Forum’s DVD-Audio during the HD audio wars.

    Though I learned today that the PS3 can decode SACDs, but since it doesn’t have 6 analog audio outputs, I’m not sure what it is doing with the audio data. Surely not piping it on the PCM channels HDMI interface. Sony has always spoken out against the impurities of PCM and preached the one true way of DSD (which they didn’t even bother to include as a lossless audio format in their BD format spec).

  14. I don’t think people care too much about new video formats. At least I don’t. I mean, of course I’d like an HDDVD or Blu-Ray, but I’m not dying to get either. Not like when the DVD came out, which in comparision with plain VHS, had a LOT to offer (menus, comentaries, scene selections… all that).

    But both new formats, in terms of functionality, are simply upgraded DVDs. It’s not, you know, a revolution like before. So I don’t think people are truly interested. It’s the same, just looks better.

  15. I’ve fallen into the same trap with Akuma from Street Fighter.
    Technically, the pronunciation is closer to AK-ma than aKOOma, but it doesn’t matter, because his name is Gouki.

  16. Hey guys? …Guys? Japanese isn’t supposed to have emphasized syllables. So JU-gem and “Ak-U-ma” are both wrong.

  17. If Japanese does not have emphasized syllables, I wonder… do Japanese people speak like Ace Ventura? Like, do they hold their breath before each conversation and speed through it? Because I can’t imagine how to speak without stressing syllables…

    *I actually knew that about Japanese, I simply made a bad joke. Please don’t mock me for seeing the Ace Ventura movies. I was young once.

  18. “do Japanese people speak like Ace Ventura? Like, do they hold their breath before each conversation and speed through it?”

    Oddly enough, yes.

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