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So, it's been more than a week now.

The coolest day of my life, that is. One week has already passed!

See, I've always been a big fan of Bamboo. This goes all the way back to '96, when I first heard "Kisapmata" on the radio. Up until that point, I never really cared much for Pinoy music. Maybe it was my age or something, but amazingly, Ace Of Base simply appealed to me more. Yeah...

But all that changed once I heard Rivermaya's "Kisapmata". Being exposed to Pinoy music was like opening a gift that had been sitting on the shelf for months. The next thing I know, I was hooked on music by Side A, the Eraserheads, South Border, and the like.

Above all that, though, I remained a big fan of Rivermaya.

Back in the age of cassette tapes, the only way to acquire these tapes was to physically hunt them down and purchase them from the store. This might not seem all that hard, but when the nearest record store from your house is four (!!!) freakin' hours away, you really don't have much of a choice. So, really, since I was only maybe 9 or 10 at that time, I could only go out when my parents did. And at that period, they had just moved to Davao, so there was no way for me to buy the albums. Looking back now, I truly pity myself... It got to the point where I resorted to imagining what the album cover looks like! Countless days where spent on me waiting for the songs to be played on the radio, then pressing "Record" as soon as the DJ stopped yapping. Yeah, it was pretty desperate, but without MP3s and the internet, I didn't really have a choice. So, basically, I had a collection of songs that either: (a) had some random dude introducing the song or (b) started during the 2nd line of the song. Nice.

So, really, it wasn't really surprising that when I finally arrived in the "land of no traffic", Davao City, I immediately went to the mall and purchased their first two albums. Great. Now whenever we would accompany my dad on one of his trips to Gen. Santos or Cagayan de Oro, we would blast Rivermaya non-stop! Especially fun considering it was a noisy (at that time) album and the pick-up we rode on was full of 40 and 50-somethings. Good times, indeed.

And all this brings me back to why I wrote this piece.


When he made his comeback, I was really unsure of how I felt about his music. I never really liked "inspirational" songs. To me, they always sounded too "preachy". So when they released "Noypi", I was probably the Filipino who felt unmoved by the cut. And man, when I think about it now, I feel so f*cking stupid. Not feeling probably the only great modern song that empowers and applauds the filipino spirit? Shit. I really deserved all the stupidity I felt, and then some.

Eventually though, with Kricket's insistence that I appreciate the new Bamboo's music, I finally did. The more I listened, the more I felt the emotions. It was nothing like how I saw it before. This was like looking at an object from a fresh perspective, with a new renewed sense of purpose. Merely hearing the music didn't do it justice. It was more than that, and thankfully, I understood it now. And right then and there, it was over. I was once again hooked on the band. Only now, it was more than just music to me. Now it was art.

So imagine my surprise when Kricket told me she could score free tickets to Bamboo's concert! Through some weird way, she knew the drummer (Vic Mercado) and a friend of Nathan Azarcon (the bassist).

And when the band hit Davao for a small concert way back in February, we were there. In another pleasant surprise worthy of lots of hugs and kisses (YEAH!), Kricket somehow managed to have us stay at Nathan and Vic's hotel room before their concert.

A quick refresher, just to clarify the magnitude of this event...

Me=BIG Rivermaya fan=reluctant Bamboo supporter=turned BIG Bamboo supporter

So, really, do I need to even describe how I felt when I met a member of the Philippines' greatest band EVER!?!? But it doesn't even end there. Meeting them in person is icing on the cake already, but talking to them and hanging out with them for hours? That's chocolate-syrup-on-the-icing-on-the-cake-sprinkled-with-macadamia-nuts good. Crazy.

So, by the end of the night, me and Kreng managed to score some autographs, we managed to walk to the stage with Nathan and rocked out to every Bamboo hit. Perfect.

Like all good things, though, there must be an encore. And on August 16, 2008, the encore occurred.

It was unfortunate that Kricket couldn't bless me with her presence then, but it was a good night all the same. This one, I have to give it up to Buddy once more.

Similar to the last time, I was once again granted backstage passes (pinch me). Seeing how the band prepared was crazy, and at that time I felt like the dude from Almost Famous, awestruck yet trying to act all cool.

So, with a glass of J&B in my hand (thanks, Bud!), we lost ourselves in the music once more. Don't think I exaggerate, because let's face it, every one of us has done this before. And it feels so gooood.

Honestly, by then, I was waiting for the "catch". There was just too much good happening that I half-expected something out of the blue to bring me back to reality. Maybe I spill a drink on my jacket, or I unexpectedly stumble while jumping... Anything.

But really, it was as if everybody knew it was my birthday and they were helping me celebrate it. As if the free tix aren't enough, I was invited to hang out with Nathan and Ira Cruz after the gig. Damn. So yeah, I guess you could say I PARTIED WITH ROCK STARS!!! It was great chillin' with these guys, which were only made better since they were all so down-to-earth and natural. Absolutely no posturing from these dudes.

After a few more drinks and numerous photo requests, it was time to call it a night. My head was throbbing, my body was dead-tired, and I had to wake up early the next day, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Stuff like this only happens once (or twice, in my case) in a lifetime, and you just have to go all-out.

A week later, I still can't get over this. The craziness that occurred is still fresh in my mind, clear as crystal. On my way to work, I still blast "Probinsyana" full volume, non-stop. My voice is still hoarse, the result of shouting along to the songs still being felt. I still tell these tales to anyone who shows even a faint hint of interest. And despite this... No, scratch that... Because of it, I feel good.


Digg! BallHype: hype it up!

In the first part of my series, I documented how I fell out of love with the NBA Live series by the 2006 edition.

For Part 2, I have to be fair. Unlike past Live editions, when their "new features" were about as useful as a 3-pointer at the buzzer when your team's down by four, 2009 actually seems very innovative.

It's going to take a lot for Live to win me back, but so far, everything they've shown looks interesting. And really, we have to admit that this could be the next step in sports games. As much as Live's gameplay emulates a sport which is nothing like basketball, we have to give them due props for trying to move the sport forward. As soon as I typed that last sentence, I sneezed... Guess my body's still not used to giving EA Sports compliments.

You can find the full list of features here, but it's all smoke and mirrors. Yeah, they're cool (or so it seems), but it's their jobs to make them sound cool. Only a fan knows which features are truly important, so let me enumerate the things NBA Live '09 has going for it.

Dynamic DNA - "...which evaluates Player DNA that breaks down how a player scores, Team DNA that rates how the players on the floor play as a unit and Tendencies that refer to the percentage a player drives left, right or shoots from each spot on the floor."

This is the single biggest reason why I even started writing this series. When I first read about the Dynamic DNA, I was blown away. A system that updates player stats and tendencies based on real-life performances?!? Wow. Remember the days when we were stuck with whatever rating the players had? Yeah, we could tweak their ratings, but it would have been inaccurate. And it would have been a lot of work. And more than that, it was their tendencies that really needed editing. It's common in the actual NBA for a player to adjust their style to fit their new team better. And somehow, that was never reflected in video games before.

Another great thing about this is the Team DNA. I hope they can somehow incorporate this into the way the CPU constructs their franchise. It really annoys me to no end when CPU makes random trades that does their team more harm than good. Yeah, you traded your best PG for a stud C, but what use is it when you already have a stud C in your team? Hopefully, this Team DNA gives each team its own identity to build around on. So, in a perfect world, the run & gun Phoenix Suns would never trade for a player like Shaq (oh, wait...). And as the years go by, this would also (hopefully) allow a team to change styles. Using the Suns again, when Steve Nash retires, then obviously the helter skelter style would have to change (unless the CPU is smart enough to develop a PG similar to Nash's style). Now that the team revolves around Amare Stoudemire, then hopefully they'd target players that complements his style. Or the CPU could decide to "rebuild". The possibilities are limitless, but I seriously doubt that they would extend to the Dynasty Mode for this year. Wish this could make its way to the game by next year, though.

The other thing that EA Sports does really well is present their product in the most authentic way possible. If you are new to the basketball game market, you'd immediately think that Live is the one to own. And for that, you have to give EA props.

From hyping their games months before the release date, holding mega-parties, granting interviews to NBA superstars and locking in the ESPN license, EA Sports has the marketing aspect on a stranglehold. And when it comes to features, they continuously cook up every NBA fans' dreams.

First off, one thing that I always liked about Live is their FIBA license. Yeah, the rosters' player ratings are appropriately inferior, but how classic would it be to match up the US with Spain? Or how about using Greece and Argentina? Just one more example of how EA knows how to sell games. Next thing we know, they'll have the WNBA license ready for next year.

Their presentation is also always slick, and their soundtracks always feauture more big-names. Not saying 2k should go mainstream, but they definitely could take a page from EA and try to crank up the hype machine like never before. The last thing I would want is EA locking up the NBA license the way they locked up the NFL's. Hell, even 2k's college ball game has been cancelled!

As for the other features, some of them were found in 2k8's games. The playcalling system, lockdown control and NBA Academy are basically just rehashes of 2k's games.

So far, the gameplay of Live seems much improved (although eerily similar to 2k's), but there are still some animations that are nowhere near natural. Honestly, it looks much like a less polished version of NBA 2k8, and right now, 2k9 should really blow 2k8 out of the water. But let's reserve judgment until we see more.

Basically, the Dynamic DNA is the one thing that could possibly leapfrog Live back to respectability. If this feature truly changes the way players and teams play, then this will be a success. But if the technology proves to be too advanced for the gameplay, then it's all for nothing. The promise is there, let's hope it works out.

For Part 3, I will talk about how the basketball game world can improve more, and updates on how 2k9 is looking. But for now, check the latest preview out for NBA 2k9. Makes you wish it's already October, eh?

Digg! BallHype: hype it up!


When it comes to basketball games, it really boils to just two titles: EA Sports' NBA Live series, and 2K Sports' NBA 2K series.

Back on the PlayStation One, I was a Live guy. Granted, it was essentially the only basketball game around (Sony's ShootOut SUCKED), so it was really no contest. But still, back then it was a very good game. It was the first game to allow mid-air passing, a season mode, full stat tracking and even feature a "defensive stance" button.

My love for Live continued into the PS2. Although the 2001 edition sucked big-time (worst rebounding physics ever), they made up for it the next year and actually offered a playable game. Then, a few years later, they would introduce the use of the right analog stick. This made the game feel more natural, as the right analog stick basically acted as the player's "arms". Want to steal left? Flick it to the left side. Want to pull off a crossover going to the right? Done. I remember reading the ads and previews for that game, and it only increased my hunger. Back then, I had no idea of the official release date, so I would call the game store everyday just to know if they had it on stock.

This addiction continued up until NBA Live 2005 (pictured above), which I consider to be the greatest Live ever. Just like Chris Paul and the Hornets, everything clicked in that title. By this time, I feel that EA had perfected the balance between offense and defense. You had strong offensive groups (Sac-town, what up!) that could shoot the lights out every game. But in addition to that, defense wasn't just an afterthought. Yeah, you had strong shooters, but you were allowed to play great defense, too. Defense that actually prevented the opposition from scoring, mind you. Back in a time when paying Ben Wallace $ 10+ mill per year seemed like a pretty great idea, Live was the king. Just remembering the Saturdays when we would play until 4:00 am comforts my soul.

But then, by 2006, Live started regressing. In Dwyane Wade's cover year, I started my "fallout" with Live. The game had transformed into a shootfest, one that negated any defense at all. Yeah, you could go "steal-crazy" (like I did with King James and Laura Hughes), but it felt more like a bug. Activate you damn superstar power, and simply press the steal button and voila! You're suddenly running the break. B*llshit.

I had been hearing lots of great things about the 2k series by then, so I decided to buy the 2007 editions of NBA 2k and Live. I bought Live '07 first, and after playing one quarter of it, I decided I was done. The game was just terrible. How could the graphics get worse every year? Damn.

So, despite my strong dislike for Shaq, I bought 2k7. I remember buying it the day before the final exam of a subject I was thisclose to failing. Asking me to not play it asap was like asking Ruben Studdard to "take it easy" on the buffalo wings.

Anyways, upon playing it, I was blown away. Here was a game where the players actually planted one foot, pivoted, before they ran in the other direction! I'm not joking, those were the things that mattered to me. Simply put, this was everything Live was not, and I was thankful for that.

Hell, when everybody was buying an XBox 360 for Halo and Mass Effect, I bought it primarily to play NBA 2k8. Right now, I've answered 120+ trivia questions correctly in the game, which should tell you how much I play this game. This is true next-gen basketball, with numerous animations, much improved gameplay and a deeper Associaton mode. How can a basketball junkie not love this?!?

However, I haven't been hearing a lot about NBA 2k9. Considering it's scheduled to be released in early October, to not have more info available is seriously confusing. They do plan on releasing one, right?

This worries me because Live is seemingly going all out for NBA Live 2009. I'm certainly no 2k fanboy. And I have no qualms giving Live credit if they truly deserve it. But Live does this year after year. They promise a great set of features, they guarantee us improve gameplay, they swear to us improved A.I., but like Tracy McGrady, they never come through. So that's why I would much rather see 2k cranking out the hype machine by now. They always seem to deliver on their promises and their gameplay is pretty much set in stone. Any improvement should only make the game that much better.

Right now, that's Part 1 for 'ya. I plan on doing this up until the release of both games (and maybe even beyond that). There's so much more to discuss, after all. When it comes to basketball, nothing is too much. Nothing.

For Part 2, I'll be talking more about NBA Live '09's impressive and staggering list of innovations. If there's one edition that's likely to bring me back to Live's arms, this could be it. Crazy.
Epilogue: Glad to see Jay and Kanye teaming up to change the game once more. Not that this is surprising, but damn this song will be a hit.

Last 5 songs played on my iPod:
1. POD - Tenacious D, "The Pick Of Destiny"
2. Superstition - Stevie Wonder, "The Music Of Stevie Wonder"
3. B*tches & Sisters - Jay-Z, "The Blueprint 2"
4. Reason Why - Rachael Yamagata, "OST: The Last Kiss"
5. Dahil Sa'yo Sa Himig Ng Aking Gitara - Hale, "Twilight"

Digg! BallHype: hype it up!

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