Sunday, July 22, 2007

Go Go Gadget Career!

Well, I haven't updated in a while, and essentially, that's because I've been securing some pretty big news:

I'm the Lead Designer on a new game for the Nintendo Wii!

So I think things are going to shift gears around here -- I know you guys "love" to read about my opinions, but I think you'd probably prefer to know what's going on with the game from here on in.

Here's what I can safely post online:

#1. It's a small team, and I had to bring in the art team myself.
#2. The game COULD be a big deal, but in reality (especially with our budget), I doubt it will do little more than serve as work experience (which is fine).
#3. If you have four Wii-Motes, this is going to be the most interactive game ever, hands down.
#4. I'm actually in talks to design a package-in that comes with the game that will attach directly to the Wii-Motes (like the recently announced Mario Kart wheel).
#5. I am probably going to be bouncing ideas in my head ALL THE TIME. If you want to be my sounding board for ideas, let me know :-)

That's all for now, stay tuned

Monday, June 11, 2007

I sure am lazy

This article might be helpful for aspiring game writers such as myself:

You need to learn how to script.

I don't mean script like Hollywood, or even script like cursive. I mean script like "If A=True, then Begin B." It's pretty straightforward, actually, but most people have no idea how to do this. A good way to practice (if you're a student, especially) is to get your mind wrapped around the TI-83 calculator that you likely had to buy for a math class you hated. The TI-83 is DESIGNED to function off of conditional equations. Here's a good practice one for you folks at home -- it's a basic menu selection (I'll explain in a second):

:: ClrHome
:: Lbl X
:: Menu("How Awesome Am I?","Very",A,"Super",B)

#1. At this point in the program, you've only told the calculator to do two things. First, with the ClrHome command, you told it to clear the display. Pretty simple, right?
#2. Next, you assigned a label to this point in the program so that you can get back there with ease. In this case, the label is "X." If I ever want the program to revert to this point, I would command "Goto X," and the program would revert to this point.
#3. Finally, I told the program to create a menu. The menu will ask "How awesome am I?" and offer two choices: Very, and Super (yes, I'm conceited). At this point, the result of a selection has not yet been determined, so selecting either answer does nothing. But let's continue...

:: ClrHome
:: Lbl X
:: Menu("How Awesome Am I?","Very",A,"Super",B)
:: ClrHome
:: Lbl A
:: Disp "Good Answer!"
:: Pause
:: Goto X

So now things get a little trickier. As you can see, I cleared the screen again after you make your menu choice (no sense in that hogging up the screen!). Next, I established a label for A. The "Lbl A" signifies that this is where the code will start once the "A" answer, or "Very" is selected. Next, I have used the DISP command to display the text "Good Answer!" In order to keep that text visible, I have added the PAUSE command, which will keep the text visible until the user presses ENTER on the calculator. Finally, I added "Goto X" to send the program back to the menu after the selection is made.

So let's finish this sucker, shall we?

:: ClrHome
:: Lbl X
:: Menu("How Awesome Am I?","Very",A,"Super",B)
:: ClrHome
:: Lbl A
:: Disp "Good Answer!"
:: Pause
:: Goto X
:: Lbl B
:: ClrHome
:: Disp "Jeff Sure Is The","Shit, Right?"

As from before, I'm applying a label to the "B" answer, or "Super." I've added a ClrHome here just in case you DID select "A" earlier. Finally, I've displayed the message "Jeff Sure Is The Shit, Right?" but what's with that "," between The and Shit? Well, the answer is that the calculator can only hold so many characters horizontally. The "," tells it to move to the next line before continuing the text, so that everything is visible. By not adding a "Goto" command or Pause command at the end of this DISP command, the program is finished, and will display a little "Done" at the bottom right of the screen at this point.

Congrats! Your first program is done!

So what does this have to do with games? Well, let's imagine that my job is to write quests (and, for ease, let's say that the scripting language is the same as the TI-83 language...even though I know it isn't).

So, here you are in World of Warcraft or some MMORPG like it, and you encounter an NPC (non-player character) who offers you quest options. The encounter could read:

:: ClrHome
:: Menu("Please, mister! I need money","for drugs! Can you help me?","Absolutely!",A,"Forget it, Kid!"B)
:: Lbl A
:: Disp "In a fit of rage, the child","takes your wallet!"
:: Pause
:: Run prgm LoseCash
:: Lbl B
:: Disp "The child thanks you profusely","and gets high.","YOU GAIN 50 EXP!"
:: Pause
:: Run prgm GainExp

In these examples, all I do is provide the inbetween text for an unusual interaction. The "run prgm" sections are animations and other interaction programming that I simply link to for the interaction to occur. Neat, right?

And no, I don't condone the use of drugs :-)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Viva Resetti!

Jeez...I don't even KNOW how long it's been since my last post.

This job really takes it out of you -- I'm up at 6 every day, and don't get home until 6. That leaves 12 hours in the day to eat, sleep, and hunt down oversized boar. Much to my dismay, that really doesn't leave much time to blog, so this sucker is getting updated on a "when the time allows" basis. In my case, I didn't go to work today (feeling under the weather), so you all can benefit from my awesomeness.

Some news:

Was in talks with Midway to do some testing for Stranglehold...probably some time next week. Best of all, it's in the evening, so I won't be missing work.

Also got in touch with Matt from HVS, who seems..."cordially detached." No new projects means no new job, but I'm going to be on his ass like underwear.

But in a strange change of pace, (There was a pace?) I'm actually going to do a review.

Every now and then, there's a game that either gets more attention that it really deserves because it has a certain element to it or name (See: Fable, Ace Combat, ExciteTruck), or gets no attention when it really deserves some. When I see the latter, I really get worked into a lather (I and I can rhyme rather...well).

So, that having been said, I want to talk about Viva Pinata for a little bit:
The game functions a lot like a "breeding sim." You start out with a patch of land, and try to lure animals/pinatas onto it by making it enticing (carrots, lots of grass, animals to eat...etc). Once an animal has decided it likes your plot of land (and there are listed conditions for this), it will become a resident. From there, you use what animals you have already attracted to attract bigger and better animals. Somewhere in this mess is the fact that you breed these animals over and over again, with ANY member of the same species through a sick "mating dance" game.

Apparently, when pinata reproduce, they listen to disco.

So...really, it's a sick sort of farming sim with a cutesy angle. But there's a way to WIN. A lot of people tell me that this game is an Animal Crossing-type game. But it isn't.

Animal Crossing has no goal. The ASSUMED goal is to get everything, and even then, you have nothing to show for your RIDICULOUS labor. In Viva Pinata, your goal is to fill your garden, however you want. The difference is that in filling your garden, your surroundings change IMMEDIATELY. And unlike Animal Crossing, where you can just choose to do nothing, Pinata actually has gameplay that forces you to be active.

More on this later.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Yay Employment!

I have a job.

Unfortunately, that means by blog-time, I'm exhausted. So, as far as the blog goes, these posts aren't going to be a guaranteed 4 times a week. Right now, I'm evaluating it, and seeing if I need to switch the days around. As it is, you'll have to make do without a post today.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Things to Buy Before I Die

When I've become rich and wealthy beyond my wildest dreams, I'm going to get my Airheads-esque list of game-related things that I want.

For today, you get two :-)

#1. X-Men Arcade Cabinet
Oh hell yes.

Come on -- how can you honestly survive another day without this game? You get to hack, slash, and mutate your way through a game with six X-Men playing at the same time.

Not only do you get to use the usual crew, but you get the likes of Dazzler just to make sure that no one wants to get to the machine last.

Also, how could you forget a game with memorable lines such as these?
  • "I am Magneto, Master of Magnet!"

  • "Thank you X-Men! But Magneto is in another place."

  • "X-Chicken!"

  • "I have a tiny man"

  • "Kill you!"

  • "You are dead!"

  • " die!"

  • "Ballistic BARRAGE!"

  • "X-MUN! Nice Job. Magneto is other there! follow me!"

#2. The Zelda Games For The CD-i

Not only did Nintendo make the grave error of giving Philips the licensing rights to its characters (a result of the Sony/Nintendo fallout), but they were forced to sit idly and watch the horror of not one, but THREE awful Zelda games.

Sadly, I cannot say that I've had the *pleasure* of playing any of these games (Wand of Gamelon, Zelda's Adventure, Link: Faces of Evil), but damn it, I want the chance to have my face melt before I die.

Or die from my face melting.

I forget.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Out on a Limb

Taking a break from my usual obsession with the past and the analysis thereof, let's talk about something else: the future.

See, I have been watching these so called "next-gen" systems for quite a while now, and I've come to a conclusion that really is going to piss some people off. Frankly, I expect less than 50% of you to agree with me.


The "big budget games" are going extinct.

Games like "Tony Hawk 51" and "Sonic n' Jesus: Fighting Crime" aren't going to exist in the future -- at least not the way you expect them to.

See, in order to make a game like "Tony Hawk 51," you need to have a huge budget. Not only do you need to have the programming muscle necessary to produce such a game, but you need to have a shitload of money to deliver "next gen" graphics, along with licensed materials.

Observe Figure A:

As you can see here, shit is expensive.
Back in the day, you could have a game made in five weeks, or have a game made by just one guy. Hell, one of my favorites (ToeJam and Earl) was just two guys dicking around! How cool is that?

However, as technology changes from colored squares to pixels and polygons, you need more manpower to get the job done. This is a good thing, but to a point.

A lot of ideas couldn't exist without better graphics and processors. Imagine trying to make a game like Mario 64 on the Super Nintendo -- impossible (for example, see Virtua Fighter 2 on the Sega Genesis).

However, there exists a point where you have the freedom technologically to do, well, pretty much whatever the hell you want. If you can think it, you can do it. As such, if a developer has an idea, he can make it with this current wave of hardware (and probably with the last wave, too). So why are these machines and their production costs getting bigger and pricier?

Personally, I think the wave of the future is in a system like the Wii, or an idea like XBOX Live Arcade. In both situations, the gamer is given the opportunity to play innovative games. Look at a game like Castle Crashers. That game looks like it's going to kick ass, and it'll probably only cost me $10 or so! Why should I spend $60 on the steaming pile of shit that is Spiderman 3 (PS3, 360) when I can save $50 and have more fun?

If the machines keep advancing at this pace (software/hardware), then the independent developer is the guy who gets screwed. The only people that will be able to keep up with the high overhead of making games will be the big three (Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft), and a few third party developers (EA, Ubisoft) that will likely be consumed by one of the companies. Great ideas for games will get squashed due to the high overhead to create such a game. For example, look at the budget for Spore, Will Wright's latest. Yes, it's going to kick ass, but how much would you like to bet that without Will Wright's name on it, this sucker never would have gotten the green light? And without EA's financial backing, would this game even be able to exist?

I want to see people have ideas, and make them work. I want to see the XNA Toolkit become second nature to people that like to have fun, and then they really CAN make their own games. This is where the advancement of console tech needs to stop, or you might as well just buy a computer with an emulator.

At this rate, it'll eventually be cheaper.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Milk Me

'bout time Comcast got around to fixing things. The internet (in total) is still a little fritzy, but I can get things done for the most part.

This is good.

So, here's the update since...well, apparently, the middle of April. Wow.

-- Job --

Went to interview at High-Voltage Software to see if they needed help on the Harvey Birdman project they're working on. Unfortunately, I showed up too late in the product lifecycle, but they really seemed interested in my skills/good looks, and we'll see if I can get involved in their next batch of games ("three to four months from now") as I am towards the top of people they intend to call.
In addition, I went and made some nice connections at EA Chicago (Mythic) and a few more at High-Voltage, but I'm still having trouble breaking into Midway (*cough* Mary Joyce DeLano *cough*) and Day1 Studios (although I intend to visit them on Thursday). All in all, I've actually been a little productive. Go me.

-- Games --

Can't say that I've really had the chance to play anything out of the ordinary. After my love affair with Castlevania, I got really involved in DOTA again (Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne custom map) and dabbled in a few "classics." Oh, and I'm apparently still really good at Halo 2. This is good news (Gamertag: GepettoZHog).

Well, until I realized how many versions there were of it. Let's play a little game called "Milk Me." How many iterations of a game have been milked out of a franchise? Today, we look at the game I was playing this morning -- Mario Kart.

Starting with the basics, I will be kind and count Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64 as separate entities. There were enough changes in the game to merit them legitimately different, and I stand by that. Even after that, there is:

Mario Kart: Super Circuit (Super Mario Kart ported to SNES)
Mario Kart DS (Mario Kart 64 ported to DS)
Mario Kart 64 (Wii Enabled Port of Mario Kart 64)
Super Mario Kart (Wii Enabled Port of Super Mario Kart -- not yet announced)

Holy shit that is a lot of milking. I understand that there are franchises (you don't need to tell me!), but in order to be truly successful, you really need to reinvent yourself. Look at the difference between Super Mario Sunshine and any other Mario (especially the new "Super Mario Galaxy"). Mario Kart, on the other hand, changes very little from game to game. Double Dash (which sucked, by the way) was the last Mario Kart game to "stray from the formula." Using two drivers was actually a unique idea. Too bad.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Sorry -- been trying to update, but my internet has been horrendous.

Comcast "claims" that they will fix it by the end of the week.

Stay tuned.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Welcome Back!

Well that was a fun break. I don't have a whole lot to say about it, but here's what you missed.

-- Still looking for "the job." Shnikes.
-- I don't want to eat another egg for AT LEAST another week.

And in an interesting twist, I thought of a GREAT example of innovation within a game: X-Men for the Sega Genesis. This game doesn't really perk up ears when you mention it, but it's easily the first (and one of the few) games to break the 4th wall.

At the end of the level "Mojo's Crunch," Professor X appears with a time limit and tells you to "reset the machine." Normally, this would mean hitting a switch in the game, but in reality, you need to hit the RESET button on the Genesis itself in order to progress! After hitting the reset button, the screen does some Matrix-esque binary, and then continues to the final level. Genius!

Some other great examples of breaking the 4th wall:

--Eternal Darkness: Should the "Sanity Meter" drop below a certain point, the game will start creating images that confuse the player, such as a "fly on the screen," or it will even pretend to delete all your save files. Easily my favorite, as it is cruel to the player :-)

-- Metal Gear: A character names "Psycho Mantis" reads the save files from your memory card! When you fight him, he says things like "I can read your mind...I see that you like Castlevania!" and also checks how many times you've saved and fights accordingly. Also, at one point, he yells "Blackout!" and makes the TV look like someone hit the TV/VCR button to change inputs. Very clever.

Seriously, why can't there be more games that do this?

Monday, April 2, 2007


Sorry, but with Passover right around the corner, we're going to be on hiatus here.


Sorry about that, but look for things to get back in the groove around April 15th.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Updates all around

So, here's what's going on right now:

-- My master plan of getting "The Job" hasn't been going well. At all. I finished that project for How Machines Work back in Feb., but they haven't posted the game anywhere for me to show off. I applied for something else in Lincolnwood, but who knows, right?

-- Speaking of the moneys, I'm actually making quite a bit of it this week. A couple hundred dollars here, a few hundred adds up. This makes it so much easier to be a bum. Really.

-- And speaking of being a bum, I just got through Castlevania. Again. And now I can play the whole damned game as Richter (someone save me the trouble, and tell me if it makes a difference?). Talk about replay value.

-- Also, I've really been flexing my "Fantasy Sports" muscles lately. Yay for exposure.

-- As a consequence of my newfound wealth, I actually have a bit of work to do. So, from the looks of things, the posts this week might be a little scarce. Sorry.

Monday, March 26, 2007

"The Same Could Be Said of All Relgions...but Enough Talk -- Have At You!"

Still working on Castlevania. I had expected to be writing a post right now saying how shitty it was that the game ended so early...etc. I got the "bad ending" the day after I started the game. As soon as I saw the credits (which, might I add, cannot be skipped), I was like, "WHAT!?"

Thankfully, after a little more exploration on my part, I found that contrary to what I had expected, the game was only about half done. I'm starting to see what little things in the game made it so famous.

First of all, there's the inverted castle idea. I think that's BRILLIANT. Think about it -- you have limited disc space, and only room for so many sprites and do you make the game longer? I KNOW! TURN THE ENTIRE DAMNED CASTLE UPSIDE DOWN!


After beating the castle one way, you have to beat it upside down (which creates different areas and a whole lot more jumping) with much harder enemies. What a great idea!

Next, they really got to work with the "Familiars." Basically, these are dudes that fly around you and have special abilities (the Skull latches on to people and makes them explode, the Fairy can use items for you...etc). The ability to level them up, in addition to discovering them, really adds a level of depth.

Finally, there are things in the game where the purpose is JUST TO SCREW WITH YOU. That's it. There's one room that has a confession boot: if you sit in the chair, the ghost of a priest will come in, close the cloth on the door, and stab you with a series of spears. If you sit in the priests' chair, a female ghost will come in and complain to you.


I've explored about 120% of the castle, and I still haven't even played through it as Richter yet. Hooray for replay value!

Thursday, March 22, 2007


I've been a bit neglectful as of's not that I can't hit my own self-imposed deadlines -- it's that something ALWAYS comes up.

Don't take it personally, but if there's a Woot-Off, all of you out there in TV land are second fiddle (although in retrospect, why bother? The Woot-Off has been subpar thus far).

Started chipping away at Castlevania today. Again, I'm not really seeing the "ZOMG" factor here. I guess I really just need to put it in perspective: this game came before all the ones I've played that are based on it. So I guess it is pretty "revolutionary" for its time.

But I'm still not shitting my pants over it. The voice acting is laughable ("Have at you!"), and can't be skipped. There are only so many times that you're willing to hear Alucard say "........." followed by butchered dialogue. ("I am Alucard, and I am a toolbox.")

Also, the save system is very very cruel. I hate getting locked in a room and knowing that I'm going to die. AND THERE'S NOTHING I CAN DO, because it takes 3 seconds to use a healing item. At that point, I'm already dead! Can't save before, because the last save point was 15 minutes ago. And besides, if I go back to that point, I don't "get" anything. I just have to fight through the same monsters again, the very same ones that wrecked me so far. I also don't see the point of upgrading your shield. It blocks projectiles. They all do. But any normal attack sends you on your ass -- regardless of how good the shield is.

And while I'm ranting, why do I have to do the crazy-ass combination for each spell? I'm only going to use two -- the one that gives me everyone's life, and the one that lets me shoot fireballs. That's it. Why can't I assign those to a button on the controller? Maybe if I used the right thumbstick or something? Maybe if I CLICK the thumbstick. SOMEthing. Trying to do a dyslexic fireball motion in the heat of battle doesn't work for me.

Still, it has some solid points. I can tell already that this is a LONG game. That's good. Also, the "re-exploration" factor isn't my favorite thing, but at least it's proof that you've progressed at some point.

More on this later.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Woot! Castlevania!

So, I'm going to make this quick because there is a Woot-Off! going on.

Basically, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night hit XBOX Live today. I will confess, I never really played the game. Now, it's not like I'm entirely new to Castlevania (I played through Aria/Dawn of Sorrow), but apparently SotN is quite the classic.

And I've never played it.

That having been said, I downloaded the XBL demo today (which grants 15 minutes of gameplay sans saves, leveling past level 5, and, of course, without being able to get achievements) and gave it a whirl.

It's nothing special, as far as I can tell.

It's just another Castlevania, just like Dawn/Aria/Harmony...etc. Sidescroll and attack shit. Whoop de doo.

But that doesn't mean it isn't good.

I'll have more on this later, when I know.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I'll be bringing the heat with a post.

...later. Not right now.

You'll have to wait.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Brain Bio: TechDawg

Let's do something new, shall we?

I always talk about how the industry needs innovative minds, but I never really give any legit examples other than Will Wright. So, that having been said, I say we introduce a new feature called "Brain Bio." Let's look at some people that ARE getting it right.

And yes, I am spazzing a bit about Line Rider. Sue me.


Using the Line Rider engine, "TechDawg" has become an innovator/guru of sorts. Most Line Rider movies involve complex tricks or a slow decline. However, TechDawg uses a very unique art style to go along with the complexity of his tracks. Often hailed with the usual Line Rider criticisms ("ZOMG THAT WAS TEH AWESOME!11" and "cool. but u have no life"), TechDawg has pulled a Prometheus and brought fire to the people by explaining what he does on his website and message board. Taking the time to design the tracks is one thing, but teaching gets you a boost in my book.

"Innovation within the trick"

One of TechDawg's trends is to re-use an area (keeping the track smaller, but still lengthy in time) but keeping the rider on a set path. Here, TechDawg uses the same ramp over three times, each time producing a different result (based on the speed applied).

"An Art Form"

In addition to using complex runs, TechDawg does something that no one else even comes close to: he uses some fine looking art. In this video, the art around the lines actually meshes with the music (an odd choice). In this example, the lines range from sheet music to Amadeus himself. Also, catch some moves like the intentional nollie at 2:30 and the final ending. Impressive!

"Like Father Like Son"

I really have nothing to say here. This is the culmination of everything I've been talking about. Note the nollie streak at 1:25, and the perspective shift at 2:01. Amazing.

TechDawg, we salute you.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Not Again

Sorry, but Line Rider has been more addictive than I planned (that, and that I just spent $5 on the old school Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade Game for XBOX Live). My roommate and I just beat it (in about 15 minutes and the equivalent of $30 in quarters).

Actually, it's baffling to me how people get away with this shit. I mean, that game sold entirely on the fact that, hey, the Turtles were in an arcade game! Wit ha cheesy 8-Bit rendition of the theme song pumping at all times, you don't really care that 90% of the enemies can kill you in 2 hits, with the exception being the bosses (that can kill you in ONE hit).

Worst of all, it's essentially the X-Men arcade game (swap the palates and use your imagination). Really, it's not about how well you hack/slash, but how well you insert coins into the slot.

Shame on you, Konami.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

It's My Sex-Box, and Her Name is Sony!

Finally, some innovation!

Sequelitis is one disease that apparently has a cure. After being swamped by Game: 4 for the past few months, I'm seeing hope and promise in the world.

First, is Line Rider. Originally a Java app (available if you click HERE), it's apparently being shipped for the DS (good pick!). It's a really simple concept: you draw shit and then let this little sledder dude go all ape-shit on it. Actually, that doesn't really do it justice. Have a look for yourself.

After that, we have hope from, of all places, THE PS3. How did THAT happen? The new game is called LittleBigPlanet, and is basically the XNA studio for people that like pretty colors. And no subscription fees. You can control/make your own games within a game, and then make them with others. Or, just mess up everything your friend tries to make. Again, this requires a video for the full effect.

Actually, I'm excited the MOST about about a game that probably has a billion more years of development: Spore. Still nothing really new since E3 2006, but I'm still waiting to have my life be consumed. If you have 15 minutes to spare, watch this video and shit your pants. Remember -- this is already from HALF A YEAR AGO.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Birth of a Franchise: Worms

And you all thought I was done with these, didn't you?


As long as the universe remains of a victim of "sequelitis" (and if you need proof of that, look at the Ratchet and Clank series), I will be there to point out the missteps and failures along the way. That having been said, let's take a look at where it all started...

Worms (PC, Amiga, Commodore 64, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Genesis, Dreamcast, SNES, GC, PS1, PS2, Saturn, XBOX, 1994)

Now THAT is a long list of game consoles. Originally intended to be more realistic (complete with blood, gore, and war sounds in the background), the original Worms had a lot of things going for it -- an interesting war command sim, unique weapons, and a sense of humor. Essentially, it was a violent use of physics (which is basically what Crackdown and Psy-Ops were, anyways).

You could name your worms (giving sheer joy to idiots everywhere), and the environments were entirely destructible, giving an interesting twist to the genre. Speaking of unusual twists, the game featured support for four players...back before anyone knew the internet existed. So really, it was a matter of pushing the keyboard over to your friend. Still, this would be a landmark for the series.

Really, the only noticeable problem with Worms was playing solo. Either the computer was retarded, or it never messed up. Honestly, you can only get whomped on so much by a fake person.

Worms 2/Armageddon (PC...etc, 1997)
See, for me, this is the pinnacle of the Worms series. I include Armageddon with Worms 2, because basically, Armageddon is just an add-on. There really isn't a huge difference between the two.
Worms 2 took everything that was good about Worms and made it better. The sense of humor returned in the form of outlandish weapons (using a Sheep, Skunk, Mole...etc as an explosive instrument of war), and zany character animations.

Also, the improved graphics made it possible for players to create their own levels -- a huge plus. In addition to revamping the graphics and gameplay, Team 17 also went and implemented WormNET, an online place to play the game. Likewise, for people without internet, there was a "Mission Mode" that made playing the game one-player more challenging, and also allowed the player to unlock weapons (like the Aqua-Sheep).

Really, I can't think of anything that could have been done to make this game any better. Any problem from the first game was taken into consideration, and addressed accordingly. Most people would agree with me, but a lot of people think that games are always better in 3D...

Worms 3D/Worms Forts: Under Siege/Worms 4: Mayhem (PC, XBOX, PS2, 2003)

Damn it Team 17, if it ain't broke, DON'T FIX IT. I can't fault them for trying, though.

The 3D forays were not largely well-received, and they earned it: if it's difficult to aim a bazooka using wind on a 2-D plane, imagine how hard it is to do in 3D. Needless to say, lot of frustration there. Also, the wonky camera and confusing physics didn't make things much better.

Again, Team 17 experiments. Some ideas are good (Forts was a pretty interesting spinoff idea), and others are terrible (platforms in 3D). Between the two, Worms 4 came out, and didn't really impress anybody. By the time the game turned out to be playable, it was already too late.

Realizing that the series hit its optimal point with Armageddon, they decided to work backwards. Recent releases, such as Worms: Open Warfare (PSP, DS), and Worms (XBOX Live), are basically just ports of Armageddon, except modified to be used without a mouse (with mixed results in controls...I still can't dominate the ninja rope without a keyboard).

As a matter of fact, those games are all available in some form: Don't just take my word for it -- download!

Thursday, March 8, 2007


Nowadays, people bitch about the smallest details. My personal favorite of the last few weeks has to be PA's complaint that Crackdown uses the default font. If that's the biggest complaint you have about a game, it's not really worth making, now is it.? It could be so much worse.

So much worse.

After yesterday's post, it got me thinking -- what are some of the worst-received games of all time? I know that Pulse Racer is one of the more recent games that has been deemed "crap," but that game would have gotten perfect scores back in 1994. Let's see what people hate, and why.

#1. Superman 64 (N64, 1999)
So, you've probably heard of this one. If you haven't, allow me to fill you in:
Apparently, Superman has been sent into a virtual world to rescue Lois Lane, Jimmy Olson, et al before it's too late. Well, I suppose that would kinda be an OK premise.

Then you start playing.

In this game, everything is on a timer. Eat, sleep shit, all to a timer. Now, Superman can do everything this side of getting into Jimmy Olson's pants (don't act like you haven't noticed), so maybe a timer would mix things up a bit. But what's this? The world is mysteriously filled with a green "fog" that in the game industry is usually called an inability to render objects in the distance. See: Draw-Distance. Now, because this isn't really supposed to be about polygon rendering, and more about how shitty the air is in VR, let's fill the whole goddamned screen with this shit! Now you can't see much of anything!

So, OK, you can't really see, and everything is timed, but you still have powers and stuff, right? Well, you can still fly, and brilliant criminal mastermind Lex Luthor has totally built a challenge for you -- fly through some rings.


Yeah, you'll spend the majority of the game flying through these metal hoops (very much like the rings in Starfox 64). Fighting bad guys probably isn't a good idea, because even some retard with a gun can take you down in one shot (the fog can apparently make Superman as strong as Joan Rivers). So you fly through rings. Lots of rings.

Yeah, they look like that. I'm sure that the numbers from the timer are probably burned into the screen, so just in case something ISN'T timed, you won't get sloppy and relaxed because of it.

Granted, no Superman game has been good since the Superman Arcade game I played as a kid. Even the most recent entry from EA has sucked (although they at least got the superpowers down).

Still, you know you have a serious problem when the "S" logo at the bottom right of the screen looks better than anything else in the game.

#2. E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (Atari 2600, 1982)

The worst thing that can happen to a videogame is when it has a movie tie-in. The movie studio puts you an a harsh deadline, and you are expected to ship that completed game the week that the movie comes out. The game always comes out, but it's never what it's supposed to be.
E.T. the movie had years of development. The game? 5 Weeks. That's it. Howard Scott Warshaw (the same guy who programmed Yars' Revenge) was given $200,000 for the project (and this is in 1980's dollars...that's a lot!). With the short deadline, they skipped audience testing and shipped a generally glitchy game.

But that's not the fun part.

Normally, a bad game gets ridiculed for a month, and people just don't buy it. It then fades into obscurity only to be mentioned by the occasion heckler (read: me). E.T. was not quite so lucky. Anticipating huge sales, Atari made 4 million cartidges. There were only 10 million Atari consoles in existence! After the returns started piling up, Atari realized they were stuck with a huge pile of games that were glitchy and poor. So they did what any logical person would do.

They buried them.

Before declaring bankruptcy, Atari drove all the cartridges from El Paso to a New Mexico landfill. They then crushed and buried all of the games. However, in the heat, the games melted and starting bubbling up to the surface. Atari then sealed the entire burial grounds in concrete.

And you wonder why Atari vanished from 1984 until 1998.

#3. Enter the Matrix (PC, XBOX, PS2, GC, 2003)

This is more a of a personal bias, but who cares? Enter the Matrix was definitely not given any awards other than for sucking. However, as bad as some people may think this game is, I have a personal vendetta against it.
Before that, though, there are a few things that it does do right. First of all, the mo-cap stuff is pretty much dead on. When I hit a button to attack, it looks like it normally does in the Matrix films. Likewise, the "Hacking" terminal (basically a simplified version of DOS) is a game in and of itself, and is a very cool implementation. The movies also add to the game by intertwining the two.

But that's where the cool stuff ends.

See, in order for a game to be playable, there have to be set boundaries. I rented this game back when it came out, and I remember that I was stuck on one part where I was supposed to get a flashlight (or else I was killed by...something). But I couldn't figure out where the hell the flashlight was. Eventually, I just tried running all over the place, and then tried to go down the dark passage. It worked. Once I died, I had to figure out how I got the flashlight. Apparently, the flashlight was all the way in the back of the level, but the designer had neglected to put in the icon, or even a notifier that it was collected. You never knew if you had picked it up unless you tried to run down the tunnel!

Also, the "last level" was an on-rails shooter, but you couldn't tell if you were hitting the damned sentinel. It reminded me of a game called Deep Impact, or Deep Tide or something that was a four disc game that was basically like shooting within a movie. Eventually, either you won the game or you died, but you had no idea when either of those things was going to occur.

In reality, the biggest failing of the game was not including Neo.

You dumb bastards.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Legions in Hiding

And no, I'm not thinking of the song by Testament, but that's a good guess.

Seriously though -- how many times have you seen/read something that just made you drool in anticipation for the future event, and then it never happened? I'm not talking about instances where your friends are "totally getting you strippers for your birthday this year," but rather, games that just never made it.

There's really no rhyme or reason to the games I picked (other than the fact that they have pictures...I know that America can't read without them purdy pictures). Here are a few games that are pissing me off -- RIGHT NOW!

#1. Primal Rage 2 (Arcade, 1996?)

OK, so who here has played Primal Rage? You know, Primal Rage? The fighting game where you control dinosaurs and fight each other with special attacks? Well, if you did, I feel sorry for you. For some reason, Primal Rage was a really popular game in 1994. So much so, in fact, that Atari had planned a sequel (I really didn't see much in it other than the "cheese" system. THAT was clever).
Apparently, the plot was going to revolve around the idea that this "meteor" that crash landed was filled with these human-like deities that were going to fight the dinosaurs.
Wisely, Atari decided to pull the plug in production. What about Enter the Matrix, Atari? What about that!?

#2. Star Fox 2 (SNES, 1995?)
Awww, and they even had the box art ready for this one! Working off of the success of 1993's Star Fox, Nintendo decided to pull out the ol' sequel machine (there have been, what, 4 sequel/spin-offs since?). They had added characters ("Miyu" and "Fay"), customization (now you could customize your ship's stats), and full 3-D roaming. As a matter of fact, an Alpha of the game was shown at E3 that year, and was widely publicized by Nintendo. The game was pretty much done, and never saw the light of day.
What happened?
Apparently, the game was almost too good. Afraid that there would be no distinction in the 3-D between the SNES and Ultra 64 (later the N64), Miyamoto canned the project. Here's what Star Fox 2 programmer Dylan Cuthbert has to say about that: "StarFox 2 was fully completed...[we] expanded Starfox into a full 3D shooting game. The reason for non-release was the then impending Nintendo 64 which of course was intended to be released a lot sooner than it actually was. Miyamoto-san decided he wanted to have a clean break between 3D games on the SNES and 3D games on the new superior 64 bit system. In retrospect, he could have released Star Fox 2 and there would have been over a year and a half before the N64 came out. But hindsight is always 20/20.
Add in the cost of the VFX chip, and you've got yourself a cancellation.

#3. Duke Nukem Forever (PC, "When It's Done")
See, this isn't really fair. Duke isn't exactly canceled...but he has been in production since 1997. He is what we call "VaporWare." Anyways, 3D-Realms recently released this screenshot of the game (in 2007 no less!), so they are still pumping money into it. It's not like they don't have the money either, what with the millions they made off of Duke Nukem 3D and Prey (not to mention Max Payne). Still, 10 years of development has gotta be painful.
Here's the latest peep from the head honchos:
"No, you cannot pre-order the game. If you see some online store saying "We are taking pre-orders", they're just trying to get your money (they usually also make up their own supposed "insider release date info", too). There is no release date set, we are not taking pre-orders for the game. End of story."


Tuesday, March 6, 2007

It's In The Cards

Let's get one thing straight -- I love poker. I love everything about the game, from betting to bluffing.

But damn it, Poker video games just aren't fun.

The industry keeps trying, with big budget games like "World Championship Poker 2," all the way down to "Texas Hold 'Em" on XBOX Live. Every game tries to excite you by incorporating online play, improved AI, or even the occasional "play against the pros."

None of them get it right.

In order to succeed, a poker game needs to revamp three things:

#1. Stakes.
Problem: What's to stop you (or any other moron online) from going "All-In" with a 2 and a 7? Without anything truly riding on the game, players are free to bet like lunatics. They can always just join another game with their imaginary money.
Solution: You obviously can't use real money (that's probably illegal, not to mention the danger that could stem from modders/cheaters). Instead, set up an imaginary fund that actually LEADS to something. All players start with 5000 "points" which will enter them in an online tournament. However, if you use up your points, you have to play through the campaign (single player) to get more. You can always play for free in multiplayer, but the ranked tournaments will cost you those points. Use the money you win in ranked tournaments to enter higher stakes (ie more $ exclusive) games. So what makes you keep playing? The points are WORTH something. Let's say it's for 360 -- wouldn't you play to earn 1,000,000 points if you knew it was good for 100 MS points? Maybe not an equal amount, but something to keep the players honest and competitive. Speaking of which...

#2. Competition
Problem: Who the hell am I playing against? You can't really tell when a player is bluffing based on the amount of time that has run off of the timer. Most games support a camera, but no game enforces it.
Solution: Package it with the game. Seriously. Most poker games are basement/budget ($20), every major console supports a camera (not 100% sure about the Wii, but I'll bet it does). Make the game $50, and package a camera that normally costs $40. Might increase your sales, and it makes players MUCH MORE LIKELY to use it.

#3. Creativity
Problem: In regular poker, you have to keep your opponent on their toes, and be able to read them accordingly. To do this, you have to be creative. In most poker games (especially when playing against the AI), there are no "tells."
Solution: Nothing a little innovation won't fix. Add some ways to read the player, no matter how good he is. For example, on the Wii, a player might have to make a gesture with his arm to put chips into the pot. With the motion sensitivity, you could tell if that hand was shaking, was quick, smooth...etc.

Take heed, poker players. I'm waiting.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Weird Steps in Gaming: Yo! Noid

Seeing as there are only so many games that are awesome/shitty depending on my (flawless) viewpoint, maybe it's best to take these games one at a time, and really appreciate what they do (or don't do).

Yo! Noid for the NES was one of those games that you picked out when you were 7 or 8 because it had the Noid on the cover, and you heard of those "Avoid the Noid" commercials. Or, more likely, you picked this game out because you were told to grab "the cheapest game they have." Or, at least, I was.

Here's a brief overview of what's going on in Yo! Noid:

#1. Forget anything you know about the character. Yes, he likes pizza. Yes, he has the signature pogo stick (at one point). But did you know that the Noid also has the ability to utilize ancient ninja techniques that bring pain and suffering upon dock workers? No one realizes the true power of the Noid until it's too late.

#2. The Noid has the stamina of Terry Schiavo. In this strange world where yo-yo's can cause death to the lower class workers, it's one hit and you're dead.

#3. There's actually some originality.


Well, first of all, let's look at the "boss" system.

As you can see here, the Noid clearly has an adversary in his homosexual brother Earl, who also shares the same mental retardation and pizza fetish. (Ed's Note: May or may not be accurate)
In order to defeat "Earl," you actually have to use LOGIC. Unlike contemporary games of the times, the boss wasn't a "rinse and repeat" series of patterns. Instead, you were given a series of "pizzas" in a rock/paper/scissors type card game. 3 pizzas is better than 2, and so on. The objective was to eat the most pizzas first. There were also other items such as the hot sauce (pictured above) which basically negate
d any amount of pizza that the other guy ordered (good for when Earl busts out the occasional 8 or 9 pizzas).

What else is original about this game? Well, it's only the SECOND NES game where Nintendo admitted to changing an existing game. Observe:

Well lookie that! These two screenshots are from the Japanese game "Kamen no Ninja Hanamaru" (Trans: Masked Ninja Hanamaru). You can see where things got changed around. Also, in the second panel, the character is saying: "Sukukita! Ninjiyutsu Kuchibeda" (Trans: I really hope that we don't get ripped off by a fucking pizza mascot and fade into obscurity).

OK, it's really not the best game. But look at it this way -- the manual came with a coupon for $1 off of a Domino's pizza!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Just a quickie here -- why don't more games have the "game within a game" mentality? Games like Counterstrike and Warcraft III have a seemingly endless replayability to them due to the amount of mods that people make for them. Hell, I was playing Defense of the Ancients this morning, and there were still over 100 people hosting for a game that's over 5 years old!

I really wish that more games would take advantage of an open mod/film system. Can you imagine screwing around more with a game like Battlefield? Or what about World of Warcraft people making their own shit? Another game within a game, where people bet on slotcar racing (yes, this is dumb, but possible)?

I just wish more people would imagine the possibilities.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

And Now Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Between Blogger not working, my computer not working, and ME not working, it becomes difficult to get the blogs in on time. Seriously. I've been battling my computer (among other computers), the website, and my own work ethic. So far so good, though.

So, to make up for it, I'm going to share a secret with you -- well, ok, not really a secret, persay, but a game idea.

I don't often like to post these online, but I think this is one of those ideas that I don't think can be done properly without the whole picture (read: the gooey stuff in my brain). That having been said, here's my idea:

I call it "New York Ninja." Yes, I know, that sounds stupid, but hear me out.

Basically, the "environment" is a bastardized version of the environment from GTA/Crackdown/Spiderman. We're talking big, sprawling buildings with lots of little details (like ledges), and at the same time, a LARGE area (possibly equivalent to downtown Chicago in terms of relative size). You control this ninja (or, as I think about it, maybe something ala "Highlander." You know, one of those sword wielding lunatics), and while I really don't know what the overall point is, you start off disoriented and on the run. I'm currently thinking that you were some sort of cloning experiment from an old Japanese archeology find that has gone horribly wrong, and before they can do more tests on you, you get the hell out of there.

So, here you are, all ninja-like, in the middle of New York (or equivalent large city). After a cinema (that shows you stealing a sword from a "magical glass box" that happens to be a store), you're left to defend yourself. Well, if you want to, anyways. See -- you're a frickin ninja. Yeah, you could run away (you're quick like that), or you could stay and fight. Either way, whatever skill you use (speed/strength?) is the one that gets boosted.

Eventually, you'll start to notice that your guy is superhumanly fast/strong etc (as a result of the cloning). You'll be able to run up buildings vertically, and knock people away just by swinging your sword through the air.

I really don't know what the story is here, but it doesn't matter. The point is that it would be KICK ASS to play a sandbox type game where you can do that. Can't you imagine dashing though people, sword in hand, and then cutting open a car like a can of sardines? That would kick ass.

...just a thought.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

More Bumming Around

The news delays my usual nonsense once again.

This story is already making a little bit of press. Here's the part that you're going to hear over and over again: young and impressionable kids kill bum. Reason? "killing "the bum" reminded him of playing a violent video game."

Well slap my ass and call me Susan! We've got another one of them that there Violent Video Game cases! You hear that revving sound? That's Jack Thompson starting his car for a worldwide tour.

Except, that's not what's going on.

Let's actually READ the damned article, shall we?

"All Nathan Moore says he wanted to do was smoke pot and get drunk with his friends."
Hooba-jooba-wha? Wait a second -- this kid was drunk AND high? Hell, killing the bum could have reminded him of eating snow cones with Pauly Shore! That kid was crunk as hell!

"Ihrcke smeared his own feces on Baum's face before cutting him with a knife "to see if he was alive," Moore said."

Need proof that the kid was fucked up? Who the hell smears shit on a murder victim? "It must have been the trademark sign of the Shit Bandit!" I mean, seriously, come on. Then he cuts the guy anyways. Not to mention that the article goes on to mention him doing some stuff that I have never heard of, or want to see -- not even even in a snuff film.

I swear, some people have some serious problems. If anything, games probably kept those lunatics in the house long enough to keep society safe for a few years.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Onward and Upward

Well, that was fun.

Long story short, I figured out what the problem was with the computer (the RAM I just purchased was faulty. Go fig). Technical difficulties aside, I seem to have everything back under control.

I was going to post something about the shifting market trend today (more on that tomorrow), but I actually have some interesting news.

Tomorrow is officially going to be the last day of wondering. I'm going to hear back from WBBM/CBS, and they're going to give me an answer. I was already put on the "oh, whatever" list by EA, Midway (sort of), and High Voltage. I sent off some info to Day 1 Studios today, and here's hoping for the best. Otherwise, it seems I may be in over my head when it comes to getting my foot in the door.

Seriously, Chicago needs to do more QA work HERE instead of in Cali/NYC. Rich bastards ruin it for the rest of us.

Real post tomorrow. Promise.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Jack Be Nimble

Working on a new back tommorrow!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

And Now For Something Completely Different

Well, not exactly.

See, it's Tuesday night. I have spent the last three days trying to make a computer work. Not this computer (my usual blogging tool), but rather, a newer more powerful computer that I had assembled. However, as much as I'd like to bitch about it here, this is a blog for games.

Wait a second.

Computers play games.


OK, so let's run through the basics. I built this computer back in August, and it had no hardware problems.

Specs were:
2.7 GhZ Processor
1 Gb of RAM
and a bunch of patched together drives of various sorts (they all worked together).

Now, as of Sunday (ironically, when I directed the computer to this blog), something went wrong. I had installed new RAM (which, before you blame it on the RAM, it showed up fine in the BIOS and had no problems when I installed it a few days earlier). Midway through the DethKlok video I am so fond of, the computer crashed and shut down of its own accord. However, all attempts to turn the computer on after that resulted in a similar crash just a few seconds after reaching the desktop. Finally, after popping in the XP Pro install disc (to try and repair it before a full boot), I am greeted with another shutdown via a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death).

Next, I tried starting from scratch -- I put in a new Hard Drive. I also had acquired a Vista upgrade disc, so I figured that this would be a good time to install that, too. Unfortunately, every time I got to the "install" part, I was greeted with, you guessed it, another BSOD. THE HARD DRIVE WAS EMPTY! WTF! All it needed to do was be formated!

So, figuring that there was nothing else I could do, I unplugged it overnight.

Then, when I put yet ANOTHER hard drive in it, it decided to work. I was able to install Vista (although there were several BSOD's that made things difficult). Finally, I got it to load Vista.

...for a while, anyways.

See, it was harassing me about not having virus protection. So I went to install some. And then it crashed (much like the very first time). Vista reboot itself, but it was highly unstable. So, I restarted it with the disc to repair it. Repairs completed, I tried rebooting.

Never even made it to the title screen.

So, I used the disc again, and went to a system restore point.

Still didn't make it to the title screen.

So, I went in with Safe Mode. This worked, but every single application (including explorer) terminated itself as soon as I gave it a command.

Finally, I was just getting hit with BSOD's.

So, I tried using the "memory diagnostic tool," which told me that something was wrong with the hardware, but no specifics. Also, it gave me a series of error messages every time I tried to boot. No fixing, no safe mode.

So, I opted to reformat the drive. Nothing important was on it yet, so nothing to lose. So after the reformat, I try and install vista again.


And after about 40 minutes of trial and error (complete with RAM switching), I was unable to get it to reinstall vista after a format. Just another BSOD. EVERY TIME.

Anyone have any suggestions? I'm pretty much out of ideas.

Well, at least this guy has the right idea:

Monday, February 12, 2007

Rhythm and Police

Just a random thought for today: why the hell aren't there more rhythm based games?

You know which ones I'm talking about: Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, Karaoke Revolution, and so on. Well, actually, if you're in America, that's pretty much it. Here's what else you're missing:

Beatmania (think DDR with a keyboard. Or, similarly, Keyboard Mania)
Guitar Freaks (Predecessor to Guitar Hero)
Para Para (Sensors detect where your hands are. Closest to ACTUAL dancing among the dancing games)
Drummania (I think you'll figure this one out)
Pump It Up (DDR taken too far. 5 pressable "arrows" along with REQUIRED use of hands)

But seriously, in the realm of what is considered GOOD, that's about it. Last I checked, there were a lot of other instruments and cool body motions that could be used in a rhythm game. Although, judging from the amount of filth near the DDR machines, I wouldn't be caught playing FluteMania after someone ANYTIME soon.

Here are a few ideas that could be explored:

Triangle Hero:
You know how in school there would always be the one talentless kid who was forced to play the triangle while everyone else did something more useful? Embrace that Triangle and rock out to songs like "That Annoying Sound The Wind Chime Makes," The Dinner Bell," and "Holy Shit, It's A Triangle!"

Cowbell Hero:
The gaming industry has a sickness...and the only more cowbell.

You know what I'm talking about -- those big drums that have a harmonica and horns and other crap strapped to it. I would pay good money to watch petite little Asian girls try and strap on all that crap and collapse under the weight. Good money. And for those of you that don't know what I'm talking about, here is Axl Rose as a literal "One Man Band."

Friday, February 9, 2007

Was It A Slow News Day?

I know I don't update on Fridays, but this was just too good to pass up. I think Penny Arcade tore this to shreds better than I ever could, but I'm going to try.

Basically, this video was made to scare idiots. That's really all there is to it.

The video discusses how Pictochat on Nintendo DS can be used by STALKERS and EVIL PEOPLE to get information from your kids. It's like their lives are an OPEN BOOK, just waiting to be read by some EVIL SNEAKY RAPIST guy. My favorite line has to be that "It's this simple: you just click on pictochat when you turn it on, and now YOUR CHILD's DS can be connected to bny ANY DS IN THE WORLD."

Let's look at 5 quick things that are wrong about this news story, shall we?

#1. The kid needs to be IN pictochat to use pictochat. It's not like some random asshole can just come up and message you -- you have to be waiting for one, in your own chat room.
#2. Not only that, but who waits around in pictochat? You use a DS to play games! It doesn't notify you if a DS is in range, or if that DS is trying to send you a message.
#3. Also, if you ARE in pictochat, odds are it's because you are expecting someone that will be in the room (odds are, that person is less than 10 feet from you).
#5. What the hell child molester is going to walk around with his DS out, looking for people to pictochat with? I mean, come on!

Seriously though, how are you going to pry that information out oif the kid. The guy in the video built it up like all children were stupid enough to give out their information, and then quickly and quietly mentioned "but of course, we had already spoken, and I had told them to give me their information."

If anything, I bet child rapists go back and forth practicing their convincing DS tactics. In this example, they try and convince the child that they are, in fact, Mario, and that they will come out and eat them unless they get what the want.

Or more accurately, those were the only images I could find that didn't mention basketball.

Thursday, February 8, 2007


For those of you that were hoping for a "best/worst games you've never played" list, you're out of luck. I would normally attribute this to laziness or being busy (not really applicable), but the truth is, there's only so many games out there that are worth your time. As it stands, there are three games that are consuming my time, thus making it hard for me to move on to newer fare:
#1. Phantasy Star Universe
This is a DEMO and it's still addictive as shit. I honestly hope that the demo ends soon, or I'm going to be in deep trouble.
#2. Halo 2
The winner, and still champion.
#3. Dethklok
Not really a game, but still, Metalocalypse has piqued my interest and then some. Brendan Small (of "Home Movies" fame) is a kick ass guitar player.

But, because this blog is for GAMES, I managed to pull a tie in.

Behold! My favorite Dethklok song, "Thunder Horse" as performed on Guitar Hero 2 (by someone that clearly has no life). Holy shit that guy is good.

And, just because the episode was good, here's the song in Dethklok context (don't worry, it doesn't ruin anything, although probably NSFW).

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Birth of a Franchise 5: Battletoads

Does anyone even remember this franchise anymore? I do! Anytime you take three obvious Ninja Turtles ripoffs and let them hit people, it's going to be good. Three Toads -- Zitz, Pimple, and Rash, all are involved in fighting crime, so on and so forth, yadda yadda yadda. But hey -- the game is a big shaper of the industry. Here are the three most influential entries of the series.

Battletoads (NES, 1991)
So let's start from scratch. You've got Zitz and Rash, two crude dudes (not to be confused with 2 Crude Dudes or 2 Live Crew) that are out to rescue their brother Pimple. First of all, these graphics are pretty kick ass for the NES. Props to Rare and DataEast for getting the most out of an aging system.
The most noticeable thing about the game was the difficulty. Jesus, this game was hard! There was no password system, and no save games. Use your continues, and that's it.
Finishing off enemies was done in a cool, stylistic way, where the final blow in a combo would result in a humongously oversized first, headbut, and so on (think how Mario's fists bulge out in Super Smash Bros when he punches. Now make it 2D).

Also, in what was just forming as a trend, you could now pick up weapons and use them (ala Streets of Rage and Double Dragon). Needless to say, hitting things is cool.
Other additions were races, many of which involved memorizing a sequence of upcoming obstacles on a 2D plane (or you crash and die instantly), and 3D (a first!) sequences where you had to dodge an enemies' attacks. Cool beans.

Battletoads and Double Dragon (NES, Genesis, SNES, GameBoy, 1993)
Two words: marketing crossover. What better way to milk two franchises that you own than to combine them into a sure-sell game? Super Smash Bros. anyone? In a move that completely says "Fuck You" to the Double Dragon story, DataEast throws these guys into a Battletoads game. Choosing from 5 characters (the brothers and three toads), you punch and kick your way through...well, pretty much what seems like the first game.
There are more vehicular obstacles, and even a level where you have to descend a chasm with a cable, and touching something kills you. I'm sure that a game rips this off somewhere. I don't really know the significance of that, but it really sticks out in my head. Maybe because I died there so many times.
Again, the NES gets pushed even harder, and comes away with a scrolling 3D background. Holy crap! Not only that, but as you can see, the sprites are some fiiiiine looking ones, and the game is still as impossible as ever (although anything is easier than the original Battletoads). Seeing as the NES can do no more, the good folks at DataEast decide to try their luck on the "next generation."

Battletoads in Battlemaniacs (SNES, Genesis, 1993)

Now, I list this game not because it's so fantastic, but because it teaches a lesson. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what our "sequels" have become. This game, in essnece, is Battletoads. With pretty graphics.
But seriously, that's it. Same gameplay, same "run before this kills you," and same frustration (although still easier than the last two). But what the hell does this game bring to the table that's unique? Nothing. Not a damned thing.
So, as you've probably figured out, this is the last console Battletoads game. DataEast made a souped up version of this game in 1994 for arcades (comeplete with three-player action), but without anything new to add, the series ultimately died.
As it is, Rare (the owners of the license after DataEast went under) currently has no plans to make another Battletoads game, but has said that if a new idea presents itself for use with the license, they might do it.

Here's an idea: Make it three players, and release it to Live Arcade or Virtual Console.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Tits McGee Couldn't Be Here Tonight...

And I'm not Veronica Corningstone. Here's the news.

First off is a piece of news you probably already knew: Americans are dumb. That's right ladies and gents -- our good friends the Mooninites from ATHF have apparently been confused with terrorist threats. The thing is GODDAMNED LITE BRITE! YOU CAN EVEN SEE THE BATTERIES! Boston needs to get a fucking sense of humor.

Next up, we have the XBOX 360. After a clamoring from people that are now deaf thanks to the 360's disc drive (also known as the chainsaw that plays media), the good folks at MS have decided to put in a new drive for all 360's.
Well, actually, they did this back in November, but it really just flew under the radar. Sneaky bastards.
The hearing impaired community thanks you!

Speaking of the 360, apparently MS has teamed up with Old Spice. Finally, there's incentive to play games again! The prize breakdown is actually dependant on how much of a life you have -- the more acne and less sunlight, the better your prize is. Niiiice.

Finally, in what is the most disturbing news of all, Rockstar has decided to make a sequel for Manhunt. And it's going to be on the Wii. Look -- it's bad enough that there's a SEQUEL to the game that was deliberately made to be obscene. It's even worse that it's going to be on the PS2 and PSP, so that more people will see it. But the Wii!? There is just something inherently wrong with being able to kill people with the Wii-Mote. I can only imagine the motions that the player will have to go through for strangling (pull both Nunchuk and Wii-Mote backwards and in), bludgeoning (quick overhead motion with either hand), and so on. Hopefully, Nintendo has learned their lesson, and there won't be a "blood code."

Monday, February 5, 2007

Madden Bowl

I know that this is one of those "too little, too late" sort of things, but this is what happens when you're a Bears fan and you refuse to update until Monday. Long story short, The Sex Cannon known as Rex Grossman has finally crushed the hopes and dreams of Chicago fans everywhere. But this isn't a blog for sports. I already have a sports outlet in So why am I talking about this here?

Enter 1UP's Madden Bowl.

Bears win two of the three matchups...but the only one they lost was the one that mattered. To save you some trouble, here are the results:

24-17 Bears (Colts are without Manning)

34-31 Bears (Bears are 85' Bears)

21-9 Colts (Superbowl XLI)

Damn it.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

No Shit

Having a really hot girlfriend makes it really damned hard to blog. But I try.

And as for tonight, I fail. Look for something more substantial on Monday, boys and girls!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

You Know What? I'm Lazy.

That's the truth, ladies and gents. I can't say that I've been "really busy," but it's just more of a laziness factor. I say I'm going to update, but I'm usually just tired and I don't feel like it. Well, a blog is an extension of yourself, so if your blog is lazy, YOU are lazy. Since I'm still in denial, I'm going to try and be more religious about updating.
But that's enough whining -- or is it?

I've discovered that I have the most fun on this blog when I'm tearing something a new asshole.
So, that having been said, here are the three WORST games (that I have played) I can think of at this precise second. And I'm making it a little more challenging by ruling out all the easy bad games (think Superman 64 and my personal favorite, Greendog).

#1. Atomic Robo Kid (Sega Genesis, Arcade, TurboGrafix-16, 1990)
Oh dear lord, why was this monstrosity of a game ever ported to home systems? Let's take a look at the gameplay mechanics -- you control a robot that looks like VICI from Small Wonder if she had down's syndrome.
And was a robotic monstrosity.

As an arcade game, it's probably OK that one hit kills you. If you assume that some moron is going to put money into a game that promotes genetic diseases in robots, then you deserve to lose that quarter. However, back then, it was $50 for this steaming pile of shitake.

What magical improvements did they make for the home version? Well, they remove
d the points, so there's NO motivation to continue playing, and then in order to compensate one hit killing you (and sending you back to the beginning of the level), they give you an absurd number of lives. That way the frustration mounts, making you want to hurl your controller even FURTHER on your next death.

Seriously -- the only thing even remotely cool about this game is that you can buy weapon upgrades from some black market robot (yeah, they have black market goods in the future. I just wish that the guy wore a trenchcoat). But it's a secret -- not intended to be a normal part of the game.

#2. Shaq Fu (Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, 1994)
The box art says it all: "Come Get Yours!"
Come get my what? My pile of suck? My waste of money? Oh, I am SO there!

Let's see how many "coincidences" we have here:
#1. Micahel Jordan creates basketball game that only mostly sucks.
#2. Shaq, having opted out of NBA Jam, claims he has no involvement with games.
#3. "Shaq Diesel," an epic CD, needs a promotional tool.
#4. Shaq has yet to ruin his acting career with movies "Steel" and "Kazaam."

Well, when the price is right, a lousy game awaits. Shaq puts his loveable mug on what is probably the worst fighting game I have ever played. Unsurprisingly, Shaq has the best reach in this game, which makes him the best player. See, no hit registers unless you hit them RIGHT IN THE CENTER OF THE BODY. Punch some guy in the face? Too bad -- didn't hit him. As a result, you rarely FINISH a goddamned fight because you'd run out of time in the match from TRYING to hit eachother.

To add insult to injury, the music CD "Shaq Diesel" was packaged in with the game. That way, while your eyes are bleeding from the misery onscreen, your ears can bleed too! If they had packaged in the "Shaq Roto Rooter Suppository," I think they would have gone for the clean sweep.

Shoulda retired after "Blue Chips," Shaq.

#3. Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure (Gamecube, 2001)
Why was this game allowed to exist?
I originally came across this game when my roomate brought his Gamecube for the first time. By the end of our lease, we were using it as an air-hockey puck.
Let's see -- you play as a child who wanders around the Universal Studios Theme Park talking to Woody Woodpecker and going on rides. At least, that's what they want you to think.
There are SO many things wrong with this game: first of all, where the hell are this kid's parents? He wanders around a vacant theme park being hounded by some rapist in a Woody Woodpecker costume that obviously has a fetish. Not only that, but when I played (I chose a black child to be PC), my character spent the majority of his theme park time picking up trash. I believe that this is SOLELY because I chose a non-caucasian character, and that one of the later minigames would have involved the cotton gin.
The other main problem with the game is that it's geared towards why the hell is it so damned hard?! There's this kiddy atmosphere, but to get points, you have to answer some ridiculous trivia, like "When Michael J Fox contracted Parkinson's after "Back To The Future," how many times did he attempt suicide?" Jesus Christ! I don't know, and I don't want to know! All I know about those movies is that Doc wants me to buy DirectTV!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Line Is Dead To Me!

So here's a thought:
I understand the basic logic of how a company should work. You stick with what you know, and then you reap the benefits of improvements over time. Much like staffing, you don't bring in some nobody and trust him with an entire project based on what he says he can do, but rather, based on what he has done.

That's all well and good, but you've gotta start making some changes in the biz if you want to see improvement.

Unless your first name is Shigeru, odds are that every game idea that comes out of someone's head is very much in line with the last one. Electronic Arts and THQ, for example, took risks way back in 1996 establishing core franchises (Madden, WWE...etc). As such, they have gotten away with 10 years of "and here's our next improvement on _____"

We don't want an upgrade. We want something new.

I can't even say "we" like I'm speaking for the general population, but come on now. Name the last ORIGINAL title (i.e. NOT a sequel to something else) to come out from Electonic Arts. I dare you. Nay, I CHALLENGE you. I think the last one was the first Medal of Honor game, back in 1999. And you know how many of those there have been since.

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of seeing new numbers posted after a franchise. Or, worse yet, when you've already exceeded the #3, you just add a new subtitle and pretend you've done something new. Not true.

Before anyone out there says, "Oh, but no such company exists like that," take a look at UbiSoft. Yes, UbiSoft milks their core franchises (Splinter Cell ____, anyone?), but for every Tom Clancy/Rayman game they churn out, they try something new like Assasin's Creed. See that EA? They're maintaining their core profits, while trying to rope in new players!

Actually, scary enough, I think that EA has noticed. UbiSoft, after all, is their primary competition as a third party developer, which is why EA has purchased stock in UbiSoft.

Lord help us all if EA buys majority stock.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Birth of a Franchise 4: Grand Theft Auto

Now, before I hear people saying, "Oh, there are only so few GTA games," let it be known that there are over 6 GTA games that are currently out, and that there are others in production. But we're not here to talk about that.

Grand Theft Auto is probably the bane of Jack Thompson's existance (or perhaps his lifeblood...I'm not sure yet), as it promotes all the things that are bad about society. Let's see how Rockstar/TakeTwo created the monstrosity that we all play today:

Grand Theft Auto (PC, PS1, 1997/1998)
I remember that I was so eager to play this game that I traded some chubby kid (named Chris Katz...odd that I remember that) a copy of Metallica's "...And Justice For All" album for the disc of this game. The main draw being, of course, that you can steal cars and kill people. That was pretty much it. The structure of the game, if any, was to get cars and kill people. TakeTwo knows what works, and the game was almost banned because of it.
Some noteable changes to gaming (other than the ability to break the law), were the fact that this game was open-ended (you decide what to do next), and that there was no "lives" system -- if you died, you had to have the cash to survive. If you didn't, THEN it was game over. This was also the beginning of the "holy shit that car goes fast, too bad as soon as I touch something with it, it explodes and kills me" phase in GTA.

Grand Theft Auto 2 (PC, PS1, Dreamcast, 1999)
It was a tough call here between listing this game or listing San Andreas, but all hot coffee aside, I think this game did more for the series.
In a "less-than-bold" move, TakeTwo decided to add a storyline that was shaped as you went along. The introduction of the three gangs, in addition to the street-cred that went with the missions, added a strategic element as to which missions you were going to do, and which would put you on a gang's shit list.
In addition to slightly improved graphics (ooh! lighting!), GTA 2 also added on to the level of violence, complete with the addition of Molotov Cocktails, greater police involvement, and even more violence.
A noticeable problem was the lack of swimming. This guy can take having a bomb strapped to him, can eat bullets, and can shoot up cars like it's nothing, but one trip to the water and he's dead!? Other continued gripes were the usual "absurdly fast vehicle = death" problems.

Grand Theft Auto III (PS2, PC, XBOX, 2001)
Bring on the violence! In what is probably one of the most inflential videogames after Mario 64, Rockstar helped push GTAIII to the limits of social decency. Not only can you pick up hookers, use a sniper rifle, do police missions, and just plain blow shit up, but now you can do it IN 3D! As usual, it takes a 3D game to really get people's attention (hence why the Sonic series has busted its ass over the last decade trying to do 3D and failing miserably), and Rockstar did it here. A solid story mixed in with a sandbox environment make this game a must-play.
As usual, as soon as the good lawmakers of the world found out you could kill cops, this game got more press than Jesus (which is strange, because both GTA and Jesus had been around for a while. Makes you wonder what 3D would do for the Old Testament, eh?).
Even with all these changes and advancements...for some reason, you still can't swim! It took them all the way through San Andreas to fix that!