Wednesday, December 07, 2005

"King Kong (Xbox 360) Review"

I know that the proper title is way longer than that. But "Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie" is too long to type out... nevermind. I was halfway tempted to title this "Rob Nava's Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie Un-official Review" but that's also too lo... umm.. OK...

So, anyway, this is the first Xbox 360 review I've done. In fact, I think it's the first game review I've ever put up on this site. But before I go any further, let me start off by saying that if you don't know that King Kong dies at the end, then I've just ruined it for you because King Kong dies at the end. Seriously, you should have known that. It's not a well guarded secret. I also hope you knew that the Titanic fucking sinks at the end too. I've actually run into people that didn't know that. And I don't care how old you are or what decade you were born in, King Kong falling off the Empire State building to his death is common knowledge people. Peter Jackson's version is at best, the 3rd version of the film.

Anyway, now that your caught up on things, let's get to the review.

Graphics - 7.5

Like most games on the Xbox 360, the graphics of King Kong can impress at times and under whelm at times. My first reaction was quite positive when I saw the detail on the ship's hull in the first scene. Nice textures. Keen lighting. Pretty. Then things sort of fizzled when I turned around and saw that the character models looked like ass. I mean, these things were barely better looking than the Xbox 1 models, and they animated like crap to boot. So the game then sends us towards Skull Island on a small row boat during a tumultuous storm, and I was again impressed. . . this time with the draw distance and weather effects, only to be disappointed by the crumbling rocks falling off the cliffs of the island. They just looked retarded. And that's pretty much how things went graphically: Oh, that dinosaur looks kinda cool. Blech, those plants look terrible. What a shame.

And when are developers going to stop with the shiny plastic look? Seriously, I know that its raining and things are wet, but it's ridiculous how shiny everything is in King Kong. And they must have an equally emphatic guy over in the Bump Mapping department because it looks like every single thing is bump mapped to hell. I'm sure it has its uses, but really, if "Next Gen Graphics" simply means "Bump Mapped with Shinies", count me out. I'd rather have a silky smooth frame rate than shiny bump mapping.

And really, I don't think I'm too far off from the truth. I played King Kong on Xbox 1 and it really looked close to the Xbox 360 version with the exception of the textures and lighting and possibly a higher polygon count that isn't quite as noticeable. And I'm sure that's what happened. They designed the Xbox/PS2/Gamecube versions and then added in some fancy bump mapping, lighting effects and a few more polygons. The game is essentially the same. It's akin to playing a PC game with all the graphics options turned off (Xbox 1) and then again with all the graphics optioned turned on (Xbox 360.) Does King Kong look better on the Xbox 360? Sure it does. But it's not next gen graphics to me if the game is identical in every way but a few graphical features. Next gen graphics should be completely re-done from the ground up. King Kong is Next Gen Rehash.

Gameplay - 6.5

King Kong plays mostly like an FPS for dummies game with a little shallow wresting game thrown in to break things up. Most of the time, you play as Jack, the screenwriter for the film being shot on Skull Island. Your mission, as far as I can tell, is to burn down thorny bushes that block your path and find handles for intricate door opening mechanisms. That's pretty much it. You can chuck spears at dinos and shoot some crappy guns, but that's pretty much it.

The game is designed to be played without a hud. Which means no lifebar or ammo meter. This was done in order to increase the cinematic feel of the game, but for the most part no lifebar just means that you can get hit twice: once turns the screen red and another hit while your screen is red causes you to die. Occasionally, bigger dinos can kill you with one attack, but you can really just think of the game having a 2 section lifebar that regenerates after the first hit. As for the ammo, Jack will tell you how much ammo you have left when he's either running low or you hit the 'How much ammo do I have left?' button. With regards to enhancing the cinematic feeling, hearing "Two magazine on backup" over and over isn't exactly any better than showing how many bullets you have on screen.

As I already mentioned, a lot of the time you are simply searching for ways to burn bushes that block your path. This is clever puzzle the first and maybe second time you have to do it, but it gets really boring after a while. They try to break it up by having spiders block your way instead of you know, the thorny bushes. When that happens you have to spear a random giant insect or fish and throw it on the ground away from the path the spiders are blocking so that the spiders rush to the bait. Wow. Who came up with that fantastic gameplay element? Exciting! The final gameplay element is finding these wooden handles that attach to these long poles that need to be turned in order to open doors. This is the silliest thing ever. Why can I just use the spear I'm holding in my hand to jam into the pole to turn it? Why do I need that exact piece of wood to jam in there before I can turn it? It's not like it's a key. It's a fucking piece of wood. Give me a break.

I addition to the FPS Jack levels, you also play as Kong from time to time. These are pretty fun, but mostly because you're given a break from burning bushes, and you can actually beat the crap out of stuff. But the controls for the Kong missions are simplistic at best. One button swings and grabs onto the sides of cliffs, another one punches and another one grabs. You can also thump your chest to power up, but most of the time you end up getting hit before you can completely power up so that's useless. The Kong levels boil down to a simplistic wrestling game. I mean, even more simple than NES Pro Wrestling. At least you had a variety of moves in that game. In King Kong, all you have to do is shoulder butt over and over. That's pretty much it. Give that beloved Beyond Good & Evil game designer a bonus! I know I couldn't have thought of something like that. I'd have thought of something much better.

Sound - 8.5

The music and sound effects are pretty good. Good job not fucking everything up over there. The voice acting is also pretty good. Jack Black, who plays the director in the movie, is still funny as shit. I love that guy. Jack (the character you play) sounds dull and, well, dull. He doesn't even get two different adjectives. He's just dull. Really, the biggest complaint I have about the sound is that the voices are waay too low in comparison to the music and sound effects. I had to turn the music and sound effects waaaay down and leave the voice level all the way up in order to make it sound right. I guess they realized they had that problem because the did put that option in the game so you can tweak each sound level independently. Then again, I might be giving them too much credit. They might have put that option in because they saw that option in other games. In any case, you'll probably have to fuck with the sound levels a bit.

Value - 5.0

There is almost no replay value in this game. I'm a big fan of short games. I have way too many games to go through to be tied up with 40-50 hour games. Fuck that. So the fact that King Kong is a short game was actually a selling point to me. However, usually short games give you some sort of reason to replay it. King Kong doesn't. All Xbox 360 games offer achievements (which give you Gamer Points) that can be earned by doing specific things in the game. Complete a level on hard mode, get a "Hardcore Gamer" Achievement and a few Gamer Points for your Gamer Card. Maybe finish a level in a certain time or without dying, get more points. Not so with King Kong. If you play through the game, you get all 1000 Gamer Points possible. To give you a comparison, you only get 150 Gamer Points for going through Call of Duty 2. By giving you all the possible gamer points for simply finishing the game (no game can give you more than 1000 Gamer Points), they remove any reason to replay the game. Pretty silly. Basically, once you finish this game, you're done. Trade it in or put it back on the shelf. Did I mention this game is a full $59.99? Luckily, I bought it used for $35, and they're offering me $33 to trade it in so I only lost 2 bucks on the game. :)

Overall - 6.5

I think too many reviewers are biting on King Kong's cock. There is no way this game deserves a 9. It's competent at best and boring at worst. If you love King Kong for some odd reason, you'll be disappointed in the fact that you don't really play much as King Kong. If you love FPSs, you'll surely be disappointed in this game. If you love adventure games, you don't have much to look forward to except hunting down wooden handles. Basically, avoid this game or simply rent it. It's cool for a day or two, but that's about it.

Friday, November 11, 2005

"Xbox 360 Launch Titles"

So I came across a list of the Xbox 360 game titles available on launch day. Not real impressed. Not a single one of them has impressed me to the point where I can't wait to play it. I'm more excited about the hardware than the software. I think that the new Xbox Live is pretty freakin' awesome. And I like that I can stream video and audio from my PC and MP3 player right off the bat... no modding necessary. Going with wireless controllers was good too. But the games... man. I guess they're not bad, they're just not awesome. Not yet anyway. I'm trying to figure out what to pick up on launch day, and I'm not sure this list has helped me.


  • Sega's Condemned - Visually unimpressive. Core gameplay looked tired. Very current generationy looking. I don't know why I need to preface the title of the game with the publisher. I don't even think it was developed by Sega. Interest: Low

  • Kameo: Elements of Power - Visually unimpressive. Turned off by the fact that it began development on the original Xbox and it still looks it. Also current generationy, but not as much as Condemned. Interest: Low


  • Amped 3 - Wasn't a big fan of 1 and 2, so... The new design style is cool though. I dig the artwork. Interest: Medium

  • Perfect Dark Zero - Didn't play Perfect Dark on N64. Looks unimpressive. Could be the closest to Halo though. I think a lot of people will buy this so it *might* be good for multiplayer. Interest: Medium

  • Project Gotham Racing 3 - Just another racing game. Looks 'OK'. Seems tired though. Interest: Medium


  • Call of Duty 2 - Looks damn smooth, like it was running on a High End $2500 PC. Which is fine, but I was hoping that the next generation of consoles would blow away anything available today. Including high end PCs. Still, I did like the smoothness in the framerate (with minor exceptions on big explosions.) If this was an XBOX 360 exclusive, I might have higher interest in it. But knowing that it's availabe on PC where you can use a keyboard and mouse definitely takes away some of the interest I could have had in it. Interest: Medium

  • Gun - Another game where if it was an XBOX 360 exclusive I would have higher interest in the game. Games developed on current gen and next gen systems give me the feeling that they design for the current gen (PS2/Xbox) and then tack on some extras for the Xbox 360. This is opposite of how I feel it was last generation where say Madden or Tony Hawk was developed with the PS2 in mind, and then they'd cut it down to fit on PS1. Interest: Medium

  • Peter’s Jackson’s King Kong - It's a movie game and that brings along a stigma with it that is hard for me to look past. I have heard that Jackson is a bigtime game player and that he personally took his King Kong game to the Beyond Good & Evil designer in order to assure a good game was made. But, c'mon, it's King Kong. :( How good could it be? I do hope it's really awesome though. I'm open to have my opinion changed. Interest: Medium

  • Madden NFL 2006 - ... Interest: Low

  • NBA 2K6 - I really like NBA 2K6 for my current Xbox, and now I'm faced with this 'better' version. Honestly, I'd probably buy it, but not for $59.99. Not when I own the Xbox version already. Maybe if the price drops fast. Interest: Medium

  • NBA Live 2006 - ... Interest: Low

  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2006 - This game actually looks quite a bit better on Xbox 360 than it does on other platforms. Honestly, so do the other NBA games, but whatever. Anyway, hmmm... but it's a golf game. Not exactly a show stopper. Interest: Medium

  • Need For Speed: Most Wanted - Not a big NFS guy either. Haven't really looked into this a lot. Interest: Low

  • FIFA 2006: Road To The FIFA World - ... Interest: Low, low, loooow.

  • Quake 4 - Have it on PC already. Hey Microsoft, what do you have against the keyboard and mouse? Seriously. With all the FPS games out on console, you'd think either Sony or MS would embrace the keyboard and mouse in the next gereration battle. Can you imagine a first party keyboard and mouse with actual game support. Sony came close with the Linux Kit kb/mouse, but someone needs to officially support a keyboard and mouse in their games. Interest: N/A

  • Tony Hawk: American Wasteland - I bought every single TH game up until this past one. Seriously, this shit is getting old and one thing Neversoft has always sucked at is graphics. And why am I buying a new console if its not to get better graphics? Interest: Low

I probably would have picked up Dead of Alive 4 had it made the launch day. I'm hearing that its coming out a week or so later. So I may just wait until then and pick that up. However, I need something on launch day! But what? I don't think I can bring myself to bring home a sports game as my only launch title. I'll probably buckle and get PDZ or Kameo because they're Xbox exclusives. Blech...

Word of the Day: lackadaisical(adj) – Lacking spirit. Unlively. Uninterested. Ex: Many Xbox 360 launch day adopters will no doubt lackadaisically pick up at least one title in order to put their shiny new hardware to some use.

Trivia of the Day: SEGA is derived from SErvice GAmes. It was started by an American, David Rosen, in Japan.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

"The Devil's Rejects"

Last Friday I saw Rob Zombie's latest horror film "The Devil's Rejects." And you know, I actually liked it. It wasn't the best movie ever made, but I enjoyed it. Like so many movies, it benefitted from my low expectations. Originally, I was thinking it was gonna be a pretty decent flick. Then while I was looking for showtimes online, I ran into a local review of the movie posted on As much as I tried not to read it, I couldn't resist. Of course, the reviewer hated it.

No matter how many times I tell myself that a single review is worthless, I couldn't help but take the reviewer's negative remarks with me to the theater. Quite honestly, Rob Zombie is a better movie maker than that dipshit reviewer is a movie reviwer.

I mean, this critic even freely admitted that this movie was not intended for someone like him. Then why the fuck did he review it? To represent the 'common man'? Seriously, even if it had received rave reviews, my Dad isn't going to see "The Devil's Rejects." Neither will anyone else that doesn't already like horror movies. So what's the point? Stick to reviewing Miss Congeniality 3 and Legally Blonde 3: Bleached Blonde Bush if you like pussy movies. Or only review documentaires, or sci-fi or whatever the fuck you're into.

Ah, I dunno. I guess I should be sorta thankful to the little twit. After all, by nature of lowering my expectations, he actually made the experience that much more enjoyable. Whateverthefuck.

So about the movie.... it really is what you expect it to be. I seriously think that I've become desensitized to horror movies because everytime I'm told that a movie is over the top gross and gritty and sadistic, it just seems 'normal'... for a horror flick I mean. There's a bit of tension in the film, but not a whole lot. It really just an assualt on the senses. It does what it does well though.

As the movie started to wrap-up, I found myself feeling like I was going to be really disappointed if it ended the way they were going. And it's not like Rob Zombie threw in an M. Night Shyamalan plot twist in there, but the movie ended in a way that satisfied me.

If you like horror movies, by all means go see this film. I don't really think you need to see the first film "House of 1000 Corpses" but it would definitely increase your enjoyment of this one. I only saw the first film once, on opening day, and I didn't remember a lot of it. I really wish I had taken the time to re-watch it recently.

Before I close, I have to say that Rob Zombie's wife, who plays Baby in the film, is a really pretty woman. I don't normally say things like that, but she is. She reminds me of a younger Bo Derek. Her acting is no worse than most actresses who appear in feature films, and I'm a little surprised she hasn't appeared in more movies.

With that said, I give Rob Zombie's "The Devil's Rejects" a 7.5 out of 10. and I'll definitely be in line for the next Zombie film.

Word of the Day: gaffer (noun) – The chief electrician in charge of the lighting on the movie set. Ex: What the fuck is a gaffer?... Oh, yeah, nevermind, I remember. It's the chief electrician in charge of the lighting on the movie set.

Trivia of the Day: Before Groucho Marx developed the fast talking, one-liner insult character for which he became famous, he played a German accented character. Because of tensions with Germany in the early 1900's, he started to get booed by the audience. So, he dropped his German accented persona and became the cigar toting, funny walking, bushy eyebrowed and mustached funnyman.

Monday, June 27, 2005

"Horror Movie Review 2-Pack"

I saw a couple of horror movies this weekend. Nothing new. Just a couple of older films: Session 9 (2001) and Haute Tension (2003). Check it.

Haute Tension(2003)

I saw this movie first. Sean brought it over on Friday for Horror Movie Night. We played poker longer than we'd intended, so it ending up being the only movie we saw that night.

So, OK, I gotta get this out of the way: it's a French film. There, I said it. You can stop reading now, if you want. ;) But honestly, this movie does have some balls. Believe it, or not! In fact, I checked out the IMdB entry, and it turns out that it got edited in every other country when it was theatrically released. We had the privilege of watching the original uncut French version though. So, if you end up watching this movie, make sure you get your hands on the original French release with subtitles.

Speaking of subtitles, for some reason they were all fucked up when we watched it. They started out fine, but they eventually got way out of sync. I mean, at times the subs were up to a minute early! Normally, that would completely fuck up a movie experience, but fortunately, there was very little dialogue in this movie. Most of the talking took place early, when the subs were still synced, and after that, there were like 10-20 minute stretches with absolutely no dialogue. And even when there was dialogue, there wasn't very much of it.

So while there was little being said, there was a lot being done. After the obligatory set-up, the movie jumps right in with the slashing. And that's what this movie is: a straight up slasher flick. There are a few suspenseful scenes, but for the most part, it's all about the blood spurting everywhere. That's what ended up on the cutting room floor with foreign releases. A lot of the reviews I see on this movie say that it's really, really gory and gruesome, but I must be desensitized from all the killing I do in my spare time because it didn't really seem that bad to me. I think Japanese films like Ichi the Killer and Audition are far more brutal. But then again, this is France we're talking about here. Remember, I said this movie had balls, but I didn't say they were big ones.

It's worth mentioning that there is a twist to the thin plot, but it's not a very good one. It's got a cop out ending too. I could be a dick and ruin it, but some people still might want to see this movie.

Ultimately, what we have here is a movie with little plot, a moderate amount of suspense, and quite a bit of bloody slashing. Not too bad, but nothing great either. If you want a throwback to those 1980's slasher flicks, give this a shot. Personally, this gets a 6 out of 10.

Session 9 (2001)

I had rented this movie for Horror Movie Night, but I didn't get around to seeing it until Sunday evening. I pretty much just randomly picked it off the shelf at Blockbuster.

First impression: this movie is slow as shit. Second impression: David Caruso's in this?!? I hadn't seen David Caruso in anything since NYPD Blue. Anyway, David Caruso wasn't that bad in the film, but the slow start was sort of annoying. For the first 15 minutes or so I was like WTF is going on? It wasn't like surrealistic confusion. It was more of like "I came into this conversation late, and I don't know wtf is going on" type of confusion. Eventually, you get the picture, and we move on.

The premise to this movie is actually kinda cool. An old, abandoned insane asylum is going to be renovated. A small team of five people is hired to clean out the asbestos shit before the renovation can begin. They're offered a bonus if they finish the job in one week. Creepy shit happens. Personal secrets are exposed. People die. I have to point out though, that I don't consider this a true horror film. It's definitely more suspense/drama than horror. There is a fair amount of blood and whatnot, but it's not the main draw. This isn't a gruesome movie.

In fact, Session 9, in contrast to Haute Tension, is completely cerebral. I can dig that. It's always scarier to imagine things in your head than seeing monsters on the screen. Manipulating the viewer's imagination is the scariest technique that a horror/suspense filmmaker can use. For the most part, the director succeeds in making the viewer think. The problem is that we don't have to think that much. Being a contemporary suspense/thriller, it has the obligatory plot twist, and although it isn't as contrived as Haute Tension’s, it still not very good.

The best part of this film was how believable and real the characters were. There weren't any silly teenagers running around getting naked and getting themselves in stupid situations. That's not to say that the charcaters didn't do some stupid things sometimes (like hardly ever working on what was supposed to be a 'rush' asbestos removal job), but overall I liked them, and I believed their intentions were true.

Still, I don't know if that's enough to recommend this movie to others. I can see how some people would like it, but I can also see how some would hate it. I didn't know anything about this movie when I saw it, so I didn't have high expectations. That helped. Unfortunately, now you know something about this movie, so that angle is shot for you. ;) In any case, it's a solid 6 or a weak 7 out of 10.

Word of the Day: halcyon (adj) – calm and tranquil like the halcyon bird that was said to calm the seas. It can also mean the good ol’ days or a golden, prosperous age. Ex: Sometimes, I long for the halcyon years of gaming, so I fire up my dusty Atari and go to town on some asteroids.

Trivia of the Day: RDI, the company that created the Dragon’s Lair, Space Ace and Thayer’s Quest laserdisc games, released a home laserdisc game console named Halcyon in 1985. The cost? $2500. Yeah, I don’t have one. :(

Thursday, June 23, 2005

"Some Funny Gay Shit"

Aaron just sent this link to me, and I couldn't stop laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. ;)

Make sure to go through them all!:

Either they were really gay back in the 50's/60's, or we're really perverted now in the 2000's. Probably a little of both...

Bonus (thanks to Pete):

Word of the Day: impecunious (adj) - always without money, poor, without the ducats. Ex: Being an impecunious college kid sucks balls, but being an impecunious college drop out sucks bigger balls.

Trivia of the Day: I have a birthmark in the shape of Smurfette on the underside of my... hehe... just kidding. *Ahem* "The sixth sick shiek's sixth sheep's sick." is officially recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records to be the hardest English tongue twister in existence.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

"Long and Complex"

Seems like there's been some talk lately about long length and complexity as a negative in game design. CNN recently interviewed Shigeru Miyamoto (legendary creator of Mario and Zelda games amongst others) who bitched about it some. That sparked some more talk on the subject at some gaming site (I'd never heard of) that got linked to by shacknews. Personally, I've held this view for a long time: Long games simply aren't fun for me anymore.

I just do not have the patience to play games for very long. I might have at one time, but now there are just too many games out there that I want to play. Honestly, no matter how good a game is, after a while... I start getting antsy. I'll get 10 hours into some RPG, and then I just have to peek at a FAQ to see how far I'm into the game. Only 20%?! Fuck. I become disheartened. And that's skipping all the bullshit side quests and mini games that just make it longer. Fuck that. I'm not playing this game for 40 more hours. I may like it and all, but now it's become work. There are other good games out there waiting to be played.

And that's part of the problem I guess: I'm spoiled by all the choices out there. I buy a shitload of games, and even still I don't get every single 'good' game out there. You know how many games get 9's every month? Lots. It might sound ludicrous, but yeah, I'm saying there are too many great games being released. Especially too closely together. I might have enjoyed that 40 hour game if there wasn't another game tempting me. Instead, I have to deal with the multitude of unopened 'good' games sitting on my shelf... calling my name. It's gotten to the point that I almost hate the Holiday Game Flood because so many games I want all come out at once.

My favorite games are games that I can pick up, play for a bit, and put down. No story. No item collecting. None of that shit to get in my way of enjoying the game. Presently, that boils down to competitive gaming (fighting games, puzzle games, racing games) and portable gaming.

Competitive games are, by nature, quick gaming fixes. With no story to worry about, the only thing you focus on is the actual gameplay. That's why I love games like Street Fighter II, Bomberman and Quake III deathmatch. Every game doesn't NEED a story to be fun. Because, you know, sometimes I just don't feel like spending the time to hunt down all the fucking armors and gems in the world. And the worst offenders, man... those are the games that don't give you the 'good' ending unless you 100% it (Hello, Metroid Prime, I'm looking at you.) Fuck that. What kind of bullshit is that? 100% should give you something EXTRA, not show you the real ending.

Anyway, the other games that rock, the portable games, are meant to be digested in bite sized morsels. Games like WarioWare and Feel the Magic are great. I can even get into games like Hot Shots Golf on the PSP because it's designed so well. It has short quick golf competitions and is just perfectly suited to the needs of the pick-up-and-play portable gamer. Even RPG/Strategy games like Advance Wars and Mario & Luigi for the GBA were bearable. You can save anywhere (why can't you do that in ALL games?!?) and the missions weren't too long. Console game designers can learn a few things from portable game designers.

Getting back to the complexity issue that Miyamoto brought up… yeah, that's pretty shitty too. But for me, I wouldn't even pick up a complex game. Complexity is never fun... whether it be in a short game or long game. Overly complex games can rot on the fucking shelf. You should re-think your design if you require the gamer to use every fucking key on the keyboard and then use shift or ctrl to access even more functions. And while I'm at it, hey Unreal guys: we don't need 20 fucking guns in an FPS to make it fun OK? We don't use them all anyway. Pick a few and make them balanced and useful instead giving us 10 guns all with alternate fire. I'd much rather see a game that had marketing hype like "You'll actually want to use all 5 guns because they're useful!" instead of "Choose from 15 guns, each with alternate fire!". And to those simulation 'game' makers, your shit needs to be sold in another aisle at the store because learning how to fly a fucking Cessna isn't a game. Unless your Cessna shoots vulcan cannons and can pick up shield powerups, your shit belongs in the software productivity section, next to learning to play the guitar or some shit.

Word of the Day: prolix (adj) - tedious, long, wordy and drawn out. Ex: After reading my rant on prolix games, some assholes out ther will bitch how they're not getting they're $50 worth... to which I reply, "Trade it back it after you finish it, you cheap bastards!"

Trivia of the Day: The PS2 game Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht promises 80 hours of gameplay on the back of the case. 80 hours?! Fuck.

Friday, June 17, 2005

"Well, shit."

I forgot to tack on the WotD and TotD again yesterday. So, here you go. These are for yesterday:

Word of the Day: vitriolic (adj) - Vitriol literally refers to sulfuric acid/metal sulfate. Figuratively, it's something scathing, corrosive or caustic. Ex: The vitriolic criticism Uwe Boll has received for his inept movie directing, hasn't thwarted his plan to ruin every video game-based movie within his reach.

Trivia of the Day: The cop in the game Monopoly is named Officer Edgar Malloy. The guy behind bars? That's Jake the Jailbird. I'm not making that shit up either.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

“Overrated Games”

Writing that article about good games that a lot of people never played got me thinking about overrated games over the years that have really bugged me. These games were lavished with undeserved praise when they were first released and have since, somehow, been heralded as classics. So, here’s my feeble attempt to right these wrongs: my list of games that are regarded much too highly when they actually suck.

Some of you might recall that GameSpy made a list of overrated games a while back. It received well deserved criticism. For some reason, GameSpy decided to clump overhyped and disappointing games in with overrated games in their infamous list. Anything that’s overrated, as you would imagine, is rated higher than it should have been. Therefore, a game that got panned by the critics cannot be overrated by definition. So, Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness and Enter the Matrix (No.’s 8 and 3 respectively on GameSpy’s list) cannot be overrated games since everyone pretty much agreed those games sucked.

Anyway, with that being said, let’s get on with it.

Mortal Kombat [1992]

Yes, Dave, I stole your precious screenshot.

System: Arcade, SNES, Genesis, Gameboy, Game Gear, Sega CD, PC

Why it’s overrated:

At the time, fighting games were hot. Street Fighter II had blown everyone away with its great graphics and amazing gameplay. And like any good genre-defining game, it was immediately cloned about a zillion times in an attempt to cash in on the fighting game craze. For the most part, the clones sucked. They offered little different from SFII and they quickly faded into obscurity. Then came Mortal Kombat.

Mortal Kombat, I admit, brought a lot of new elements to the fighting game genre, but unfortunately, most of those changes were novel at best. The most glaring example of this is the fatality of course. It added absolutely nothing to the gameplay. The same goes for the digitized graphics. Honestly, I didn’t really care for them. While they appeared more realistic at a glance, the animation was simply terrible. The characters moved like they all had sticks up their asses. And the addition of the block button and ‘tapping’-style special moves made an already stiff game even more cumbersome.

The truth is that MK played terribly, and the only reason anyone ever played it was for the digitized gore. There were no combos to speak of and the strategies involved in playing the game were pretty basic. MK was and still is a terrible game. I will admit that the series improved dramatically with MKII, but that’s another story. MK was a terribly playing game, pure and simple.

The only decent move in the whole game.

Cuz, you know, I didn't get enough Track & Field in the 80's.

Scorpion loses!... umm... wait...

The only reason people played this game.

Myst [1994]

Thys game ys shyt.

System: Mac, PC, PlayStation, Saturn, Atari Jaguar CD, 3DO

Why it’s overrated:

If you’ve played this ‘game’ recently, you should already know what I’m going to say here. No fucking story, no coherence, retarded random puzzles, almost no animation and a bajillion games sold. Go figure. Myst always was and always will be garbage.

This is what happened.

Myst was first made for the Mac. Mac users didn’t (and still don’t) have shit for games so any new game that came out was snatched up in a heartbeat. CDROM technology was new. Myst was a CDROM game. Ooooh. High resolution pre-rendered computer graphics were still a novelty. The game was considered ‘oh so pretty’ even though people were just watching a slide show. The Mac users are retarded and are amused by the ‘wondrous’ puzzles and ‘enchanting’ environments. Myst sells a buttload of copies. People smell money and port it to every fucking console with a CDROM. Because it’s so popular on the Mac, people play it, and even though they don’t get it, they pretend to or risk looking silly. The End.

Wow, a pre-rendered pathway.

Wow, a pre-rendered telescope.

Wow, pre-rendered stairs.

Wow, a pre-rendered bedroom.

Shenmue [2000]

Must... remain... bland...

System: Dreamcast

Why it’s overrated:

If you want to play a ‘find every character and talk to them multiple times’ game mixed in with a little Dragon’s Lair and very little Virtua Fighter, this is your game. If you’re sane, like me, stay away from this overly ambitious yet underachieving game. Those people that gave it 9’s are out of their skull.

You literally do very little more that what I outlined above. Talk to a whole bunch of people until you unlock a mini-game. Do the mini-game and go talk to a whole bunch more people. Where’s the fun in that?

I think people rated this game so highly because they got caught up in all the voice overs. There haven’t been many games that have this much voice acting in them. I remember playing this game back when my sister lived with me. After a couple of hours of hearing me play this game (she was upstairs in her room while I played in the living room), she finally came down and asked me with a confused look on her face, “What movie are you watching?” That’s pretty much how it feels too: like you’re playing a slightly more interactive version of Dragon’s Lair. It’s really too bad that its main drawing point, the voice acting, was so uneven too. Some characters were pretty good, while others, like the main character, were pretty bad.

Yu Suzuki, the game’s designer, had a grand vision: to create the most enthralling real-world adventure game ever. Instead, he made a laserdisc game for the Dreamcast. People wanted so badly to buy into Suzuki’s grandiose plans for this game, that they forced themselves into thinking it was a masterpiece.

A little side note here: if you want to simulate playing this game, buy Shenmue II for the Xbox for like $10. It comes with a DVD movie of the entire first game. Yep, you can just watch the first game being ‘played’. What more proof do you need that this game was really no game at all?

Talking to some lady.

Talking to another lady.

Wow, that's different. Talking to a man now.

Ok, THIS is funny!

Valkyrie Profile [2000]

Only $75, and it's yours to keep!

System: PlayStation

Why it’s overrated:

I honestly don’t’ know why people love this RPG so much. It’s a highly sought after PlayStation collectible as it was released near the end of the PlayStation’s life when games tend to have smaller production runs. Prices on eBay range from $60 to $180 dollars for this game depending on its condition. So I made myself play through this game just to see what all the fuss was about. What I found was that this game’s mechanics were poorly designed and the character development was extremely shallow.

I used a guide to get through this game to assure myself that I would get the best ending and see the most stuff. You see, one unique feature of this game is that you can skip almost everything past the very first dungeon. I didn’t. I did everything I could. But even still, I can’t tell you what the fuck the whole point of the game was. The plot development was terrible. There are so many characters that you don’t get a chance to really get to know them, and therefore you don’t really give a shit about them when they’re sent off to Valhalla.

The actually gameplay is extremely redundant: at the start of the level, hit SELECT to see a new voice/cutscene, go to the area/town where the scene pointed you to, watch the cutscene and get a new character, hit SELECT to see a new cutscene, if it’s a dungeon, go to it and beat the repetitive monsters, if not, go to the town and see the next cutscene and get a new character, hit SELECT to see a new cutscene, if it’s a dungeon, go to it and beat the repetitive monsters, if not, go to the town and see the next cutscene…. Ugh. No wonder they allow you to skip stuff. It’s torturous. Anyway, along the way you send some of your built up characters to Valhalla to fight the good fight alongside the Gods, but it’s all really rather boring.

Somehow this became a collectible and then it got ‘popular’, but if you play this game for an hour or two, you’ll realize just how ‘blah’ this game is. I won’t get into it, but even the music is repetitive and sucky. The bottom line is that there are many better and cheaper RPG’s out for the PlayStation. Don’t bother paying the big bucks for this one unless you’re a collector and can find it cheap.

Horses and stuff.

Field of crap.

Some lame battle.

This game is so boring, you get this shot again.

Monday, June 13, 2005

"Small Update"

Not to take away from the monstrous post below, but I forgot to add the word and trivia of the day to that post, and we can't have that, now can we?

Well, I might as well make a small update too.

Remember that old adage: "Good things come to super kickass people."? Well, it's true. Check it. As you may or may not know, I've been unable to procure tickets to the NBA Finals, The Homestar Runner show at the Drafthouse (with the creators on hand) or Green Day floor/GA tickets. At the last minute I ended up with Game 1 and Game 2 tickets to go see the Spurs at the NBA Finals as well as a ticket to see H*R live and in person! The NBA Finals games were incredible. I'm truly convinced that the Spurs were and are the best team in the league by far. The H*R show rocked. Matt and Mike Chapman and their buddy/helper Ryan showed up at the Drafthouse, got drunk, and guided us through their DVD made exclusively for the Alamo Drafthouse crowd here in Austin. I even got them to autograph my DVD set of Strong Bad's 1st 100 E-mails. Those guys are down-to-earth and just awesome in general.

Now if I could get a couple of Green Day tickets...

Word of the Day: bourgeois (noun/adj) - Someone pertaining to the capitalistic middleclass, or being materialistic, petty and/or and an exploiter of the working class. Ex: Tiffany's bourgeois lifestyle is reflected by her taste in overpriced espresso which she drinks while dropping off her kids at their private school in her new oversized SUV.

Trivia of the Day: Dee Jay, introduced in Super Street Fighter II, is the only Street Fighter character designed by an American. While Capcom of Japan created Cammy, Fei Long and T. Hawk, James Goddard at Capcom U.S.A. came up with the fighting Jamaican. Additionally, the writing on Dee Jay's pants was originally supposed to say "MANTIS", but had to be changed to "MAXIMUM" so that the character sprite could face either side without reversing the letters "N" and "S". Goddard left Capcom U.S.A. to create the fighting game "Weaponlord" for the SNES. That game sucked.

"5 Great Games You've Probably Never Played"

Even with video games having been in the mainstream for a while now, there are still some gems out there that few have had the pleasure of playing. As with the music and movie industry, a lot of great games simply fly under the radar. Sometimes a great game gets made for a dead system that either never got off the ground or was at the end of its life. Really awesome import-only games, mostly from Japan, often times don't get ported to the U.S. because no one thinks they'll sell. And sometimes, you just have to be old enough (30+) to remember some of the long forgotten classics!

Let's take a look at five such games:

Name: Badlands [1984]

I reckon this here's the best laserdisc game ever.

System(s): Arcade

Reason you never played it:
Badlands came out right in the middle of the video game crash in 1984. Chances are slim that this laserdisc game made it to your local arcade (if you still had one by 1984.)

Why you should play it:
To be honest, I'm not sure that you can play this game anymore. I don't think this game was ever ported to any system. It was a laserdisc game, but one no where near as popular as Dragon's Lair or Space Ace. So, not a lot of people played it, and since games like Dragon's Lair rely on nostalgia to sell, chances are slim that someone will make the simple port over to DVD or one of the current generation systems. I was lucky enough to have this in my local movie theater arcade, but I was so young that I never was able to finish it.

Badlands is basically the coolest laser disc game ever. It's set in the old west, and the tone of the game seems almost serious. Buck, the protagonist you play as, narrates the opening scene of the game: "We were livin' a quiet life, when one day for no reason my wife and my children were killed in cold blood! And I was wounded, unable to help. Why this? Why US? Why? I won't let them get away with it. I'll get every last one of 'em!" Wow, how much cooler is that than chasing down a dumb old dragon? You're attacked by bad guys who burn down your house and kill your family? Damn. That is cold. The bad guys did make one fatal mistake, though... they left you alive.

You wander around the old west hunting these bad guys down. Collecting bounty on their heads as you progress. There are classic settings such as saloons and showdowns in the middle of town. However, there is a reason why I said it the tone of the game seems almost serious. Everytime you die, you die in hilarious ways: a scorpion jumps up and gives you a mohawk haircut, a rattlesnake wraps up your horses legs and it trips, you get smoked and served up on a giant plate. And I haven't even mentioned the level where you end up in a dinosaur infested jungle. Very strange.

The control is also very unique. Yes, control, as in singular. We're talking a single, huge, red button. No gun or joystick here. All you do is wait for the right time, and press it to shoot. But it's not as easy as it sounds. You have to be careful because if you shoot too early or when there is no visible threat, you end up being hanged. If you shoot too late, you're swiss cheese. And this game really keeps you on your toes. The scenes that play out the story aren't always the same. For example, in one scene you walk into the saloon, mosey on up to the bar, and the bartender reaches under the counter. Sometimes he pulls out a whisky, and sometimes he pulls out a gun and shoots you. So you gotta be quick on the draw!

If you ever see this game in an arcade, I recommend that you spend the $10 or so to finish it because it's unlikely you'll ever see that game again. If you know of a console or emulated version, let me know!

Ouch. That's gotta hurt.

I looove it, Reynaldo. It's simply faaabulous!

It was a dark and stormy night...

Tayshaun Prince at Halloween.

Name: Earthbound 0 [1990]

Yes, the 'zero' was added by the ROM dumpers.

System(s): NES

Reason you never played it:
For one, it was never officially released in the US. However, Earthbound 0 is not an import. It's a translated version of "Mother" for the Japanese Famicom (NES) done by Nintendo themselves. Read below for more on this bizarre tale.

Why you should play it:
The short of it is that Earthbound 0 is the unreleased (in the U.S.) prequel to the fantastic Earthbound RPG for the SNES, and therefore it can only be played via an NES emulator. The long of it actually quite interesting.

In Japan, Nintendo released a game called Mother for the Nintendo Famicom (equivalent to the US NES) in 1989. It was an RPG unlike any other. You played as a little boy living in a suburb of modern day city. You carried around your items in your backpack. You called home via telephone to save your game. You used weapons like baseball bats, slingshots and frying pans on enemies like hippies and stray dogs. It was a refreshing change from the dungeons and dragons-like fantastical settings that dominate this genre even today.

That's not to say that the game isn't rooted in the console RPG. You still stay in hotels, eat food to regain health and have a form of magic, known as PSI powers, available to some characters. In fact, a good portion of the enemies are alien type creatures. After all, your adventure revolves around investigating weird, paranormal acitivity that seems to have affected your town.

So this is all well and good, but if this is such a great game, why wasn't it ever released? The story goes that Nintendo of America actually did have the intention of releasing this game in the U.S. They even had it translated, and other than the packaging, the game was pretty much complete by September of 1990. But even with the U.S. prototype cartridge in hand, NoA simply felt that the timing wasn't right to sink money into releasing an RPG since they weren't very popular in U.S. So, due to a marketing decision, Nintendo of America sat on one of the greatest NES games of all time.

In the end, someone, somehow, ended up sneaking the prototype cartridge out. It made its way into a few collector's hands, and the game ROM was eventually dumped onto a PC. There's a lot more to this story, and if you have some time to kill, you should read more about it here
Something strange... in your neighborhood.

Podunk, USA.

I lied, there is a dragon.

OK, and a robot.

Name: Gal's Panic (series) [1990-1999]

Original Title Screen Action!

System(s): Arcade, Sega Saturn

Reason you never played it:
This series was only officially released into Japanese arcades. Although, sometimes you can find local arcades that imported this strange game. Le Fun in Austin, Tx used to have a Gal's Panic machine, and they might still.

Why you should play it:
First, a history lesson, as most of you probably don't remember Qix. Qix was an old (1981) arcade game where you controlled a pointer on the screen that drew lines. The point of the game was to draw solid boxes without the pointer getting touched by bad guys floating around the screen. When you'd complete a box, the boxed in area would turn a different color and you ate up a certain percentage of the screen. After you'd completed a certain percentage, you'd clear the screen and try again on a fresh screen with faster enemies. Now, imagine Strip Qix. That's Gal's Panic.

The premise is the same: guide your drawing pointer thing across the screen without getting caught by the bad guys. The twist is that there is a silhoutte of a young (when aren't they young?) girl in the background. As you enclose areas of the screen with your line maker thingy, the enclosed areas you've created uncover a portion of the fair maiden. If you uncovered a high enough percentage of her silhoutte, the screen would clear and you could see her entire, usually sexually charged, body.

In later versions of the game, you can enclose bonus items like a telephone icon that would give you her phone number (bonus points) or powerups that made your drawing thingy faster. Also, in later versions of the game, you could earn short animation sequences of the girl partially nude if you completed her silhoutte 100%.

Overall, this is a pretty fun game, even without the scantily clad (and occasionally nude) women... I mean, young girls. The reason this game is on this list rather than Qix, is because the later versions of Gal's Panic actually play a lot better than Qix does. In Gal's Panic S2 you aren't limited to 90 degree lines like you were in Qix. I'm serious, it had nothing to do with the girlies. Really.

Ugh. Do I have to?

Gameplay on version S2.

You've degraded me 100%. Congratulation! Go to next area.

Ayaah. Silly me, I fell. ^_^

Name: Herzog Zwei [1989]

System(s): Sega Genesis

I prefer hard techno, personally.

Reason you never played it:
You were too busy playing your NES, and they never made a Herzog Zwei cartoon series or breakfast cereal. Plus, it was a real-time strategy game and nobody knew wtf that was back in '89.

Why you should play it:
You don't have to be an RTS fan to appreciate this game. The thing that gets most people about RTS games is that they're too fucking complicated. I mean, I'm not saying every game has to play like Pong, but there is something to be said about simplicity.

Being an RTS, the game is unsuprisingly played from a top-down perspective. But surprisingly, you control a huge transformer general. You can switch from a jet figther looking thing to a giant walking robot and back at will. Kinda like Starscream, but without all the whining. Ulimately, you want to destroy the enemy HQ which has a fighting-game-esque non-regenerating life bar. You proceed to build units to take over and defend the minibases sprawled out across the map. The more bases you control, the more money you make per second. And that means, guess what? You can make more units. Up to 50 per side. If you don't suck, you'll start to move in on the enemy HQ and eventually beat it down.

The units are all ground units, and there aren't very many of them. The basic unit, the infantry unit, is the only type of unit that can take over minibases. It's also the only unit that can climb over mountains and cliffs. Infantry are easy to kill, but absolutely necessary. Then you have your tanks. They're really the only way to damage the enemy HQ. Other than the boats, which act as tanks on the water levels, those are the two units you'll use the most. There are also motorcycles and armored cars, but they're mostly just used as decoys. On the defense/support side, you have a missle launcher, which only attacks the enemy commander. It's more useful than you might think. And then you have the huge turrents, which are expensive, slow to build, and tougher than any other unit on the map. Turrets fire huge guns and missles. You'll be using these quite a bit too. Finally we have refueling truck that keeps all your nearby units stocked with ammo and fuel.

The levels are pretty well thought out and offer wildly different game play experiences. With 8 different planets (maps), you'll have to deal with different terrains like the ice world where your units slip'n'slide all over the place, the volcanic world where there are rivers of lava that damage your units, and a water world where the majority of your forces will be boats and you'll be fighting island warfare. Good stuff.

Overall, it's just a fun game, especially in two player split-screen mode. I've always thought there should have been a sequel on the genesis, but I also think that the time for a sequel has definitely passed. If they made one now, it'd be overly complicated and in full 3D. That would totally kill the very thing that made Herzog Zwei fun.

Muliplayer Action! Oh, Yeah!

Incoming missle!


If you see this, buy it.

Name: Parodius (Series) [1989 - 1996]

Translation: Parodius! - Seriously, It Says That –

System(s): Arcade, Super Famicom, Sega Saturn, Sony Playstation, Gameboy, PC Engine

Reason you never played it:
Parodius games are import-only. It's a very popular series in Japan. But despite all the platforms to which it's been ported, and all the different sequels and versions, there has never been an official U.S. release. See below.

Why you should play it:
Parodius is a Parody of the well known Konami shooter Gradius, hence, the clever name. It plays pretty much like Gradius with a bizarre twist that only the Japanese could concoct.

For starters, you get to choose your ship from a list of oddball choices: would you like to go with the traditional Vic Viper (the Gradius ship), or maybe a stickman riding a paper airplane, or a Playboy Bunny girl riding a torpedo, or how about you get animalistic and go with a Penguin with an umbrella or an angel pig complete with a halo and wings? That's just a sampling, too. There are many more 'ships' to choose from, but you get the idea. And as unique as the ships are, the enemies you encounter are even more strange. How about shooting down some Easter Island heads, teddy bears hanging from hot air ballons, or fish skeletons?
The bosses? Even better!: a giant Las Vegas Showgirl that takes up the entire screen, a Pirate Kitten with 6 legs which act as oars to its pirate ship body, a HUGE mermaid with a nice set of ta-tas, and a Giant Bald Eagle dressed up in Uncle Sam garb.

The powerup system is great too. The powerups are in the form of bells that change color when you shoot them. Certain colors have certain powers. One of my favorite powerups is the White Bell. When you grab a White Bell, your ship gets a megaphone and shouts japanese phrases at your enemies. The phrases are spelled out in a long line of characters spouting from your megaphone. Anything the phrase touches, dies. Simply perfect.

So if this game is so good and had so many sequels and ports, why was it never ported to the US? Well, to put it mildly, the game is very Japanese. It relies heavily on Japanese cultural icons like sumos, public bath houses, crane games, and mythical japanese creatures. A lot of that stuff just wouldn't translate well. And in addition to the general "Americans won't get it." reason, Parodius games have some pretty un-politically correct elements like the aforementioned shooting down of the American Bald Eagle. Throw in a female Easter Island head boss that shoots long phallic torpedos slowly from its mouth, and Playboy Bunny girls riding torpedos and, yeah, that game is never coming to the U.S.

The bottom line is that all these crazy things makes a great game like Gradius even better. Even if you don't get the cultural references, you can still laugh at how fucked up the Japanese are. It's fun to progress to the next area just to see what kind of crazy-ass boss they've got waiting for you there. If you throw in a "spot the overt sexual reference" drinking game, there might not be a better way to spend an evening. So, yeah, if you like shooters, you owe it to yourself to play this game. It's a colorful, demented romp through the pysche of a male japanese gamer on acid.


Hot Megaphone Action!

You don't even want to know what's going on here.

Hey, I'm offended!

Monday, June 06, 2005

"NBA on TV"

I'm a little bummed about not being able to get Spurs tickets for either of the first two NBA Finals games. Claire, Sean, and I all tried to get tickets the minute they went on sale on, and we were able to get 0. That's pretty disheartening. Sitting there, refreshing the page until they go on sale, filling out the form as fast as possible, and within 20 seconds, they're still all sold out. Lame.

Oh, well. I guess we save some money, right? Maybe I'm trying to console myself, but watching the game on TV isn't so bad. You get real-time stats, replays, great viewing angles, and other shit like that. That's pretty cool. With my DVR, I can even rewind and pause when I want.

Really, the only major drawback to watching the games on TV is having to deal with those goddamn commercials... ugh. And they probably wouldn't be so bad if they didn't show the same ones like 1000 times throughout the playoffs. I love watching the games on TNT because they have great HD coverage of the game and back at the studio where they do game analysis. But TNT must only have like 10 sponsors because they play the same fucking commercials so often that they have a negative effect on me. I absolutely loathe those commercials and their products. Someone must have done some market research on that right? No? Then here's a freebie: Stop showing your shitty commericals 20 times a game so that I won't hate you. Thanks.

Anyway, I guess this is a nice problem to have. While most fans' teams have already bowed out of the playoffs, the Spurs are in the NBA Finals for the 3rd time in 7 years. They beat up quite nicely on the Suns in the Western Conference Finals and will have had 8 days of rest before they play the first game of the NBA Finals this coming Thursday. That'll give Duncan and Ginobili some time to rest their beat up bodies.

Word of the Day: garrulous (adj) - talking too fucking much about shit no one cares about. Ex: While waiting to get into QuakeCon, I always end up in line next to some garrulous geek.

Trivia of the Day: The title to awesome PS2 game "Katamari Damacy" is a pun. The kanji symbols literally mean "Clump Soul", and since the characters look very similar to each other, they make a kind of visual pun. Additionaly, the second character is really "Tamashii" (soul), but following the word "Katamari", it ends up being pronounced "Damashii", and "dama" means "ball".

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

"Annoying People"

Trusted friend and loyal ally, Ryan "Habib" Reynolds... err... Fields brought up an interesting question in the comments section of a previous post: What makes a person annoying? Hmmmm... Good question, Ryan. Let's get started.

While I'm easily annoyed by people, I'm not so arrogant as to assume that I don't annoy the piss out of other people too. Everyone's annoying to someone for some reason, right? Finding something or someone annoying is purely a subjective process. If this wasn't the case, annoying people wouldn't (eventually) find others willing to breed with them so that they can create more annoying people. I shouldn't have to explain this. This is inherently true.

Of course, anything subjective is tricky. You like this thing. I think it sucks. I'm usually right. Well, you know what I mean. You get the idea. But while finding someone annoying is subjective, it is possible for a person to be generally annoying, and I really think that's what we're asking: What makes a person generally annoying?

The answer is pretty simple. I'd say that the one thing that all 'generally annoying' people have in common is that they are not able to read or do not respond appropriately to other people's interpersonal feedback. That's a long ass way of saying that "They don't get the 'hint'". Sometimes they won't pick up body language that says, "The sound of your incessant whistling of Bon Jovi's smash hit 'Living on a Prayer' is grating." Or maybe you're on the phone, and they don't pick up on your monosyllabic responses that say, "Hey dude, I'm so not caring about what you're saying right now." Or maybe they don't get the hint when you never return their emails or instant messages. The point is: they're not responding properly to your feedback. That's what makes people annoying.

An important sidenote to that: People that do pick up on that stuff, but don't give a shit, are a special type of an annoying person. They're assholes. How can you tell the difference between an generally annoying person and an asshole? Easy. The asshole is the mean one. So there's a little bonus for you, Ryan. Not only did I point out what makes a person generally annoying, but I pointed out what makes a person an asshole for you too... at no extra charge.

BTW, if you have comments about any blog entries. Umm, use the comments feature? Other people might share your view. Sound good? Good.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

"Next Gen Consoles"

Announce/Media Launch

Xbox 360:
I waited for that MTV thing on the next Xbox for what seemed like forever. I knew it was gonna be over the top with MTV fluff. That was to be expected. And like 1/2 of the internet, I'd already seen tons of 'leaked' pictures of the console and the controller. So why did I want to see the show? I wanted to see the games in action of course. What I got was about 7 minutes of some gay ass bad (The Killers) playing some shitty songs, about 2 minutes of Frodo asking celebs who don't know squat about gaming what they thought, about 5 minutes of interviews with gamers whose opinions don't mean shit to me, about 5 minutes of interviews with Xbox developers that was mildly interesting, about 7 minutes of commercials, and oh yeah, about 4 minutes of game footage snippits. That was a bit too much fluff. I have to say though, debuting their console pre-E3 on national television was a very smart move on MS's part. It generated a lot of buzz, even if the show itself fizzled.

PlayStation 3:
Looks like Sony is doing things the old fashioned way. And why not? It's been working so far, right? Both the PS1 and PS2 were clear winners. So they go the oldschool route: debuting their new system at E3 in front of elite industry insiders, not leaking any pictures, eschewing a viral ad campaign like Yeah, pretty boring. There's no doubt the PS3 is an amazing piece of hardware, but even still, I don't think it has generated the buzz that X360 has. It reminds me of the days when the Genesis was thought of as being cooler and hipper than the superior SNES. In any case, Sony still looks like the front runner in this next race. The company that was once the newcomer just 10 years ago is now old reliable in the gaming industry. New generation, new kickass console, no nonsense. They're doing what Nintendo claims to be doing: making a kickass gaming machine for gamers.

Nintendo Revolution:
The fact that I feel like I have to put "Nintendo" before "Revolution" to tell my audience that it's Nintendo's next gen console pretty much says it all. No buzz at all. No one cares. They released a few very shitty pictures of the book-sized console at E3. Whee. It'll be way too little, and released way too late to compete (2006). Nintendo needs to stop telling gamers what they don't want. "Gamers don't want that slow CD-ROM format. (N64) Gamers don't want violence in their games. (Mortal Kombat) Gamers don't want to play online. (Gamecube) Gamers don't want to play DVDs on their dedicated gaming console. (Gamecube)" What gamers don't want is to buy your shit anymore. Because you suck. I'd write them off and say that this will be their last console because no one's gonna buy their shit, but that should have happened with the N64 and the Gamecube. So I don't know. What I do know is that their Revolution 'debut' was lackluster at best. I hope you're comfortable in that 3rd spot, Nintendo.


Honestly, I was shocked... at how "current-geny" the games looked. I mean, OK, they looked good, but they looked like they were running on an Xbox 1.5. For a next generation console, the game graphics sure were unimpressive. Of course I realize there is a lot more to a console that graphic prowess. You don't have to preach to me about how the best piece of hardware doesn't always win out. I know all about the Sega Master System getting its ass kicked by the NES and the Lynx getting massacred by the GameBoy. So I'm by no means saying that the Xbox 360 can't do well in the next hardware battle with Sony just because it'll be underpowered. All I'm saying is that the Xbox 360 games being shown look completely uninspired and underwhelming. The Xbox 360 games look about as much better over Xbox 1 games as Xbox 1 games look over Dreamcast games. It's noticeable, but the difference isn't jaw dropping.

And I don't wanna hear any "Well they're not done with the games... these are 1st generation titles" crap. 1st gen titles (games that come out at system launch or shortly thereafter) look about 80% of what the system is capable of doing. Just compare Halo 1 and 2. Or Dead or Alive 3 with Dead or Alive Ultimate. Halo 1 and DOA3 looked pretty damn amazing, but their sequels (go along with me and pretend DOAU is a sequel even though its a remake of DOA 1 and 2) looked only marginally better. Speaking of which, have you seen the DOA4 trailer for Xbox 360? You know how you can see the difference between the pre-rendered scenes and the gameplay scenes in that trailer? Yeah, I was expecting not to be able to tell the difference. Seeing as how Tecmo made some of the prettiest Xbox 1 games, I think the DOA4 trailer is a pretty good indicator of Xbox 360's graphical power, and I'm very disappointed. Gears of War is about the best looking games for Xbox360, but that's coming out on PC too. So basically the Xbox360 looks about as good as a high end PC. That's nice for the price, but honestly, I was expecting more.

Further backing up my claim that the X360 titles don't look like ass simply because they're "1st gen titles" are the amazing graphics of the PS3 games being shown. Wow. The PS3 is going to be a beast. I hated Killzone for PS2, but the Killzone 2 trailer was 'like whoa!' That's what I'm talking about right there. That's the true next generation look I was wanting to see. I'm not surprised to hear that some developers jumped ship from X360 to PS3 when they saw what the PS3 could do. Really, there's nothing more to say about the PS3 graphics other than they look really impressive.

Umm... yeah, ummm. Nice... umm... hand there... you know... holding the Revolution and placing it on its stand. I like... the... umm... blue light emitting from the optical drive. And... umm... it's shiny! Oh, who am I kidding? Nintendo didn't show shit for gameplay graphics. The only hint of graphics capabilities was the statement about the Revolution being "only" 2 to 3 times more powerful than the current Gamecube. "Only"? Shit, that already sounds better than X360 graphics look. Then again, that's just it... it 'sounds' better. We'll have to wait and see. I do know that Nintendo isn't planning to be the top dog with regards to graphics. They've pretty much already conceded that, with their "only 2 to 3 times" more powerful statement. They also stated that graphics aren't everything. *sigh* There they go again, telling the gamers what they don't want. "You guys don't need fancy graphics! You want quality gameplay!" Which would be alright if they didn't put out crap like Kirby Air Car Racing or whatever the fuck. Anyway, that's the kind of statement that is expected from a company whose product won't be the most powerful. However, I still think the Revolution will be number 2 in graphics capabilities behind the PS3 and ahead of the XBox 1.5... err... Xbox 360.


This is where MS is gonna kick ass. Even today, Xbox Live is a huge success by any standards. By giving every single X360 owner an Xbox Live account, MS is going to transform the way everyday people think of playing games. It's taking the best part of PC gaming, the online competition, community and communication and presenting it in a nice, tight package. Breaking up Live into Silver(Free) and Gold (Pay) version is genius. You give people that might have never tried Live a chance to taste the experience. Silver members can send and receive messages, download content, and pretty much do everything except play games online. MS is even planning free play weekends when you can try playing games online for free. Nothing but good can come from the new Xbox Live that's debuting with Xbox360.

Going with wireless controllers was also a great move. Some people might bitch about having to use batteries, but you gotta remember that it can also function as a wired controller should you be out of juice. Very nice. I'm kinda glad they didn't get all radical with the basic design of the controller. Seems like MS just refined it a bit. Moving the white/black buttons to shoulder buttons was a good move.

The removalbe HD is pretty cool too, but I don't think it'll be nearly as big a deal as some people think. Basically, the HD just made the console modders very happy, but I don't see a bunch of things happening with the HD other than maybe being able to move your xbox saves around to other xboxs. I'm actually pretty surprised to see that MS stayed with a HD considering how popular modded xboxs have become. Also makes me wonder what the fuck the memory cards do.

Oh, and let's not forget that it can stand vertically. Heaven forbid it not have that amazing feature!

I guess MS got Sony's attention because now Sony's going out of its way to say that the PS3 isn't a game machine. That it is really an integral part of an entertainment system. That it's gonna be the center of the digital living room or some shit. I'm sorry, but the PS3 is a fucking game machine. This is strange because MS, whose Xbox 360 is a multifaceted, multimedia whore, is saying that it will have failed if a middle aged woman buys an Xbox 360 to watch movies. I guess you always want what the other has.

The PS3 controllers look like asshole. Yes, like asshole. They look like stinky asshole with tiny pieces of toilet paper stuck to it. Seriously, what the fuck where they thinking? The Dual Shock and Dual Shock 2 were nearly perfect. Why have some Aussie go and fuck up the design? Maybe if you get really pissed at the game and you throw the controller at the TV, it will actually miss the TV and come back to you flying through the air in a wide arc? Idiots.

I do like the full PS2 and PS1 backwards compatability though. That must've been another department that came up with that. One not based in Australia.

The BluRay support for high def dvd won't be a factor... at least not early on. New media takes a long time to catch on. The 1080p feature won't be utilized on the majority of the TVs either.

And yes, just like its predecessor, you can place the PS3 vertically. Whew! Didn't want to get shown up there by MS.

Well, not much is known right now. We know it'll have internet capabilities so you can download old Nintendo games. Which is cool, because like, the complete rom set of every NES/SNES/N64 game ever made, which you already have, is pretty lame. (This is where the animated gif of the smiley with the rolling eyes would go.) What else? Oh, it will play gamecube games too. That's pretty cool.

What about a vertical stand, you ask? Will it be able to keep on with MS and Sony on the vertical stand technology? Oh, yeah, it's got a pimpin' stand for your verticality, baby. I think its required by law actually.


XBox 360 will own it up this Xmas. I think the early launch is a good idea. MS is riding pretty high right now. So the time to strike is this fall. I predict a launch price of $349.99. I wouldn't be surprised if it was $299.99 though, because MS is hungry for marketshare, but I doubt it'll be higher than $399.99. MS will gain share with the X360, but it won't win vs. the PS3. I predict a very solid 2nd place with perhaps 35-40%% of the next-gen marketshare in the US by end of 2006. I think a big chunk of revenue will come from Xbox Live. I think their subsciption base will double by Xmas 2006, and I think microtransactions or whatever they're calling those $.99 and $4.95 online content purchases will rise dramatically as well.

The PS3 will win the next-gen wars once again, but it won'd dominate as much as the PS2 did. I think they'll end up with 45-50%% of the next-gen market by Xmas 2006. I predict a launch price of $379.99, but wouldn't rule out $349.99 or even $299.99. I don't think PS3 will launch at more than $399.99 either. That would be suicide. There is a lot of talk about whether the demos shown at E3 were really running on PS3 hardware, but I think the graphics will be very similar to those shown. Their online strategy still will suck, though.

Ah, Nintendo. The "We're gonna do it our way because we're telling you that's what you really want." company. Nintendo's fucked. OK, moving on...

Final Comments

I'm a non-partisan gameplayer. I buy all the new consoles... even if I know they're going to suck. I don't like being limited on what games I can play because you know each of those companies is going to have a kick-ass game that you're gonna want. If a game is good, I buy it. What I do is call things as I see them. I don't call things as I want them to be. But I have to admit, I do secretely root for one of them. Which one? Let's just say that I love being an "Ameri-I-Can."

Monday, April 11, 2005


Most of you know me in real life, and most of you are quite aware of the fact that Claire and I were bestowed with a precious baby girl, Madison, on February 6th. We've had her just over two months now, and I figure I'm an expert at parenting now so let me fill you in on some shit.

Don't worry, I'm not one of those "OMG, look at my baby, she/he ownz all other babies in the world because she's mine" parents. Those people are assholes. They piss me off, and they're fucking idiots. Think about it, people. You can't say your baby ownz all other babies. For one, you haven't met all the other babies in the world, right? And while I'm comfortable saying that my baby could own most at long distance sharting*, I dare not say she's the best in the world at it. I mean, there may be a world class sharter someplace in Columbus, Ohio. I just don't know now, do I?

But there's one thing I do know... and that's what my Parenting Plan of Attack is. PPoAs can range from "I don't give a shit about my kid." to "I'm going to be an overbearing parent so my child can grow up to be a serial killer." A lot of parents don't even come up with their own PPoAs. They simply get all caught up in whatever PPoA is currently being marketed by some asshole doctor (or doctor wannabe.) They buy a bunch of lame books and videos on parenting because, honestly, they're just freaked out, and they want to do the best they can for their child. I can sympathisize with that. I've seen very intelligent people buy into some very retarded baby theories. They're just scared of fucking up their kid by doing the 'wrong' thing. But the fact is, every kid is different. They're human. They all have their own personalities, strengths and weaknesses. You can't raise them all the same.

So, yeah, what's my PPoA? Well, let's get to it.

First of all. Let's think about what a baby is. It's just a small person, right? A person that has a distinct personality. As early as being in the womb, babies have different personalities. And what gives people their personalities? Well, personalities are determined by two things 1) The Environment and 2) Their Biological Wiring.

So the DNA part... the Biological Wiring... yeah, that's pretty much fixed. For good or for bad, you have 0 choice in that regard. About all you can do is mate with someone that has dna that maybe you'd like your kid to have and then just hope it works out. :) I've seen great kids come out of rough neighborhoods with families that don't give two shits about them, and I've seen horrible kids come from loving, well-to-do parents. Need more proof? How about siblings? They were raised the same way, yet come out so different. What accounts for that? That, my friends, is biological wiring at work. So... ain't nothing you can do, but what you can do. And what you can do, is teach them as best as you can, be there when they need you, turn them loose and hope they don't turn out to be fucking idiots. That's my PPoA.

Here's just a few things I plan to teach Maddie ( Note: Claire may disagree ;) )...

- "Be polite and courteous, even when people are dicks." Yeah, this one's Claire's department. This is where I'm glad Claire and I compliment each other. I feel this is an important trait that I happen to lack.

- "Shit on TV/Movies/Games is fake." Personally, if your kid thinks he can jump off a cliff like Wile E. Coyote and live, you have bigger problems that I can help you with...

- "Stand up for what you believe in, but keep an open mind." Listening to someone else's side of the argument can only make you a better person. Even if you still disagree afterwards, at least you've learned how much an idiot the other guy really is. And if you happen to be wrong, you've still learned something. Win-Win.

- "Don't feel forced to try something just because people say you should." If you have a good reason for not trying something, don't fucking try it. Whether it be drugs, booze, or sushi. I don't believe this conflicts with keeping an open mind so long as you understand that it's ok for other people to like their shit. Honestly, people just want you to like what they like. Fuck 'em. Like what you like. And don't fall for the 'How do you know you don't like it until you try it' bullshit. I can tell whether I'm gonna like something from the smell/look/feel/understanding of it with GREAT accuracy. You'll try stuff that you feel you might like on your own.

- "Do not point out the obvious physical shortcomings of others." If you know someone's short, don't give him shit about it. If they're sensitive about their weight, don't tell them they're fucking fat or skinny. Trust me. They already know, and there's NO sense in making people feel like shit for no reason. Besides, they can't help it, and you're not perfect either. Everyone is self concious about some physical shortcoming they may have (or believe they have.)

- "Never argue with zealots." Even if your ABSOLUTELY 100% positive you're right and you have proof, you'll never convince them of it. Don't waste your time.

- "If you want to get on someone's good side, find out what their passion is and ask them about it." People love talking about themselves and what they love. This is a great tactic when dealing with people that can cause you grief.

- "Learn to read body language... well." This will get you very far in life.

- "Don't be annoying." No one likes an annoying kid, and everyone fucking hates an annoying adult.

Anyway, like I said, that's just a sampling. For more parenting tips, pre-order my book "Why you should raise your kid exactly like mine." and my soon-to-be-released DVD "If you don't buy this DVD, your kid will suffer greatly from your bad parenting."

* sharting = shitting/farting at the same time... one of the few memorable scenes from Along Came Polly.

Look at this asshole: link . Haha. Man, I hope that site's fake because I can't stand to think that there are people that retarded living amongst us.

Monday, January 17, 2005


I learned a new word this morning: "Infibulate". However, I don't think it'll ever come up in conversation except to talk about me learning that word. Know what it means? I doubt it. According to (one of my favorite sites) it means "To close off or obstruct the genitals of, especially by sewing together the labia majora in females or fastening the prepuce in males, so as to prevent sexual intercourse." (Prepuce is foreskin you biology flunkies.)

Now, how in the fuck did I come across that word? No, I wasn't on some whacked out sex site (not this time anyway.) Blame the San Antonio Spurs. Yep. The Spurs. As you may or may not know, the Spurs are one of the cleanest cut professional sports teams in America. So, don't worry, Tim Duncan isn't going to jail for infibulating a 16 year old girl or anything like that.

Instead, check this: I follow the Spurs. So, naturally, I go to sports sites. On one of these sports sites there was an article on some dude. His name is Jayson Williams. So this Jayson Williams guy is trying to get back into the NBA after being charged with a lot of bad stuff. (No, not infibulation. I'm getting to that.) Something about him and a shotgun and a dead limo driver. Apparently the dude had a clean record and his crimes were all of the 3rd and 4th degree variety. Now, the article is talking like 3rd/4th degree stuff isn't that bad. I was under the impression that 1st degree was the least 'bad'. So, being of the inquisitive mind, I started searching for 1st 2nd 3rd and 4th degree crimes. I was hoping to get some sort of table discussing their differences.

After a skipping over a few lame sites, I come upon a site detailing some of Minnesota's criminal laws. Lo and behold, there it was. They defined 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree murder. And, as I suspected, I was wrong all this time. 3rd degree is less severe than 1st degree. What was cool is that they even listed shit like manslaughter, and vehicular homicide. You know, cop show stuff. Then I saw "Female Genital Mutilation" under Assault. I was like.... WTF?

Appararently, it's illegal in Minnesota to mutilate female private parts. The thought never crossed my mind, but apparently its enough of a problem that they have a law against it. It looks like you basically can't chop anything off or do a little infibulation. Strange people, eh?

So, if you're ever in Minnesota, and you're getting that "I fell like sewing up a female" feeling. I'm sorry, buddy. You're going to have to settle for sewing male foreskin. Because only male infibulation is legal there. Man, thinking about that. Can you imagine if you're uncircumcised and they sew your foreskin together on the tip while you're flaccid, and then they take you to titty bar and buy you a lap dance? Man... that's gonna hurt. Ouch. Really. Think about it.

Friday, January 14, 2005

"The Transporter"

A couple of nights ago, I saw the worst movie ever made: The Transporter. And I don't mean bad as in "so bad... it's good". Or "That was a bad ass flick!" I mean really, really bad. This movie almost made me physically ill. I literally winced in anguish more than once.

Imagine this scene: The stereotypically ultra-cool main character unwillingly ends up with a runaway hostage. (Yeah, I know... it's hard to imagine such a compelling and original plot point, but try.) Now, imagine that this runaway hostage happens to be a young, sexy asian girl... oh, and she's all wet. (That was probably easier and more fun to imagine.) Next, the hero spews out something cliche like "You've been nothing but trouble since I met you." To which she of course responds by peeling off her clothes. Now, wait. I know what you're thinking: That's a good thing! Normally, I would agree. If this was porn, it'd be all good, but, unfortunately, it's not. This is a mainstream theatrical release, and the tone of this scene is serious. I mean, I couldn't even laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. I just started to feel a wrenching in my gut. But, we're not done. Our hero then continues, "What are you doing?". And her response?: "Making up for the trouble."... Ok, by that point I just about fell over in agony.

Other highlights include: The transporter claiming to have calculated exactly how much fuel was necessary to transport 3 criminals in a getaway. I mean EXACTLY. Taking into consideration their total weight and shit. Why wouldn't you just fill the fucking tank up? Or how about the cop that just intuitively 'trusts' him and allows him to get away so he can catch the REAL bad guy? Let's not forget the fact that he's stored not one, but TWO sets of scuba equipment under his house in case someone blows up the house and the need to escape via secret underwater passage arises. Keep in mind that he values his privacy, and he lives by himself, but he's got two sets. Yeah. Two. Hmmm.

How does shit like this get millions of dollars in backing? It has a swiss-cheese plot, laughable characters, and ridiculously impossible stunts. I'm not kidding. Who OK's shit like this? Cuz I got a great movie idea regarding shaved monkeys and an international petroleum jelly smuggling ring that needs about 58 million to get off the ground.

About the only good thing that came from watching this shit is that it made Anchorman more bearable. In fact, it makes all movies more bearable. Claire's even picked up on my new favorite in-movie comment: "Thank God I already saw the Transporter, otherwise I'd be watching the worst movie ever made."