Friday, December 25, 2009

Rocket Launchers and Thirteen-Year-Olds

I have been playing Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron a lot online these days. I am not great. Not even close to it, and any little kid with a sniper rifle or rocket launcher takes me out pretty easily, but boy is it fun.

There is no voice support, but that's okay, too. I don't need it when I'm on a speeder bike protecting Darth Vader from oncoming rebel hordes. And there is something uniquely satisfying using that same speeder bike to mow down a bunch of Wookies, which I normally love.

This was the first PSP game I got. I bought that bundle pack with the white PSP (or whatever strange color it was called -- maybe ceramic). I was hooked from day one. I enjoyed the other Battlefront games,so that was really no surprise. I never played those online, though.

So, if you happen to be playing, look for me. I'm godkiller13666. Some of you may have killed me before. Some of you may have been taken down by me. I think the former is probably more true, though.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Sweet Pass

Man, Gran Turismo for the PSP just gets better and better. I'm currently driving the Kompressor ('98, for those who care). Took it on Laguna Seca and made some beautiful passes.

Racing simulators are best when played as you would really drive. If you play them like an arcade racer you are going to be disappointed. If, however, you drive the car like you would in real life, you get such a sense of accomplishment when winning race. It's a state of euphoria that I can't say I've ever experienced in a video game.

A lot of players of this franchise are notorious for using other cars as guide rails when going through the corners. They also try to knock them out of the way. If those same players would play the game as if it were their own car they were driving they would quickly see how incredible it is.

Face it, few things in video games can match a 80 mph pass in a tight corner on the inside while you're in a Skyline up against any Mazda you can dream of. It's just mind blowing.

I never want this game to end ... and it never will. Serious GT players know exactly what I mean. You see it in your dreams. You think about where you could shave .002 off your time. You see a glimpse of a track on television and you immediately know where it is because you've been around that same turn 800 times.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Doom Generation

Everyone old enough remembers Doom. It was the first first person shooter game I ever played. I played it on a PC using a keyboard, and while I was less than impressed with the controls, I could tell this game was going to change things.

There was Wolfenstein before it, but Doom upped the ante a bit. It didn't necessarily feel like a better game, but it definitely felt like a different game (I played the Nazi fps well after Doom, so that's how I make the comparison.) It was a game that caused casual gamers and non-gamers to take notice. In a few years it would be named as part of the reason the Columbine massacre happened. Duke Nuke 'Em never got such press.

Doom is not one of my favorite games. I can play it at any time, but quickly grow tired of it. At times it seems like it tries too hard. I'm not the only one who thinks that, either. So why did this game capture people's attention? It was the promise of what was to come.

Doom clearly showed that first person shooters had life. The level designs were clever, the story was at least momentarily interesting, and the creatures showed imagination. Playing that game made gamers realize that in the right hands, magic could be created. You could be immersed, and that's why that game took off. People caught glimpses of greatness, and for that it was worth some of the more groan-worthy aspects. For some, it became an addiction. For others, inspiration. And then there were those who feared it. They really helped the success of the game.

There's no denying this game's place in game history. There's no denying its influence. I would say that people's memories of the game's greatness are exaggerated, however. It was fun and different, but it wasn't the spectacular god people remember it being.

For me, fps games are something I turn to once or twice a year to blow off some steam. They don't engage me the way other games do. I'll give it credit, though. It changed quite a bit about gaming, and I think the entire industry owes it some thanks. I just think gamers need to be more realistic about it, too.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

GameStop Adventures

I don't really like GameStop. At least not the one at the Bayshore Mall in Eureka, California. The staff is comprised mainly of idiots with a few beacons of hope. I was in there today, though, sick as hell and looking for a game for my daughter. Here is the fun stuff I experienced.

First was a guy trying to buy a strategy guide for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The young man appeared to be mentally challenged because when they asked his age he said, "I don't know. I was born in 1990." The store refused to sell him the book because it was for a mature-rated game. The manager, who takes every other opportunity to upsell, stated it was company policy. I can see not selling the game (not that I agree with it), but the strategy guide? Wow.

Next up was a guy trying to buy a PSP game for his daughter. He was told the game wasn't in the box, but there was in its place a code so that he could download the game from the PSN store. His response? "Download it on the computer?" The manager quickly corrected him. It only took about four more times before he got a better grasp of the conversation.

Then came the real winners. A mom and son. They were looking for the lastest Super Mario Brothers game for the PS2. Yeah, you read that correctly. When they were told that the franchise never made an appearance on the PlayStation, they got a little testy, but no worries. They were also picking up cheap PC games.

The manager made a point of asking what OS they were using. The lady said it was XP. The manager pressed to make sure because the games wouldn't work on Vista of 7. "No, it's XP," the woman replied. "It's brand new. I got it yesterday at Wal-Mart."

"It might be using 7," the manager said.

"No. It's XP. It's brand new."

I wasn't going to wait around to see how pissed they would be when they brought back the games because the manager told them it would work on their system and it doesn't (and you know how that is how that conversation would go). I would have loved to have heard it, though.

It's always a thrill at GameStop. If it isn't the employees, it's the customers. When will they ever learn?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Sweet Addiction

I cannot explain the addiction to Tetris. It's a simple game with roughly 86,395 variations (using things like candy, exploding bombs, bubbles and so on). It's probably the best thing to come out of Russia since underage mailorder brides (and slightly more legal). It seems like something so easy should not be so appealing, but then again that is the appeal.

The game, which has been studied in its effects in helping with soldiers combat PTSD, keeps you thinking. It never lets up. It gets faster and faster, forcing you to become faster and faster, and when you think you've done all you can, you go back for one more round. No game is the same, and every new shape gives you a whole new realm of possibilities. It's a game loved by people who don't love video games. In other words, it's got mass appeal.

I know of a few people who don't like the game. They don't like to be challenged that way, and that's fine. I like to think it keeps the brain sharp. And unlike various brick breaking games (which I also enjoy), this one keeps you in control. I tend to think that the people who don't like it played it a few times and never got any better, so they pushed it aside and blamed the game.

I felt the same way with Spy Hunter, though I still enjoy it.

Games can be an addiction, and Tetris is the crack of gaming. Go without it for a few days, and you find yourself jonesing for it. Stop cold turkey and go back a year later and see what happens. Yep. Four hours later you're still trying to beat your high score.

Thirty years from now the Grand Theft Auto franchise will be named in books detailing video game history. Tetris will still be played. It will be on all sorts of delivery systems, and it will have kept its main premise (and all its variations). It won't need perfecting or updating because at its core, it's a perfect game. And if you don't believe me, ask your mom. She's played it ... and probably still is.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

When There's No Room Left on the PSN ...

I am not a huge fan of cartoony games, but the premise behind Zombie Tycoon grabbed my interest. You command up to three squads of zombies that you can equip and set loose on a town having them attack buildings and unlucky people. It's a download game only (a minus), and is $7.99 (a plus). I figured I'd take the chance. I'm glad I did. I now have three hordes of zombies that I've been having attack schools and hot dog cart vendors. My blue squad is equipped with hospital gowns and bicycle wheels (for a shield). My red squad is armed only with pencils. My green squad, however, is my baby. I've got them equipped with fish, bunny slippers and sombreros. Brilliant.

The game seems to be a guilty pleasure type thing. It doesn't appear to be too deep or complicated (I'm only on the second city, though), and it's not as open ended yet as I would like. That said, however, there is something really cool about commanding zombies. Fuck soldiers. Fuck orcs. Zombies are where it's at. Seeing my zombies pummel a crook with fish was worth the price alone.

I like the idea of the PSN Minis. It gives players the perfect forum for getting relatively cheap games that are perfect for on the go. Playing this ensures I'll be back for more as they add them.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Wii've Come to Play With You

My daughter played the Wii at a friend's house and has expressed a desire to have one. (Honestly, she's expressed a desire to have "every toy made for kids," so I don't know how much she really wants one.) I've had no interest in the system, but there are plenty of people who have told me it is really fun, and I'm starting to think it might be a good investment.

I haven't bought a PS3 for several reasons. Money, lack of exciting games, and lack of backwards compatibility being the main ones. At this point, I see buying a Wii before the PS3, though Gran Turismo is enticing.

If anyone reading this (all two of you) has a Wii and wants to throw in your opinions, feel free. I'd love to get more input before I make a final decision (I'm also considering a PSP for her).

Saturday, October 24, 2009

More Reasons for the Gran Turismo PSP Addiction

I don't listen to the music in the PSP Gran Tursimo game. If I listen to anything, it's my music, which includes King Kahn and his Shrines. I love this band, and have ever since I heard its Voodoo Rhythm release. Oddly enough, while strolling through the game credits I read that the mighty King has a song on the soundtrack! Reason number 437 to love this game.

A not-so-great thing, but kinda cool -- Jay Leno does the voice work for the game. Granted, this is minimal, but now that I know it's him I can't help but picture him every time I hear, "Finish!"

God, this game is incredible for a hand held.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

This is Why I Love Gran Turismo

Gran Turismo for the PSP has not left my system since I got it. This is why.

I am not a fan of Jaguars. In the game, however, I obtained a 1961 E-Type Jaguar coupe. If you race it on the game's default settings you will find a standard car that handles with understeer, but is thoroughly drivable. I like to set the cars up closer to the original versions, however, for added realism.

I set up mine with a manual transmission, TCS off and ASM off. At this point, the Jaguar becomes a monster to control. Tires squeal to the breaking point, it takes forever to get to a decent speed (which was the case before, too, but now I can control that more), and it handles somewhere between driving through molasses and driving on ice. And I love it.

In Gran Turismo, cars handle fairly close to their counterparts in real life. They don't take damage (always a sticking point), but who cares. Drive it like a real car and that won't bother you. When you set up a car like its real life version, it makes the game more exciting. Setting up the Jaguar made the game incredible. What made it even better is when I started winning races against Toyotas and Mazdas. That was a feeling of exhilaration you just don't get in many games.

A car I once added is soon to be added to my favorites. You gotta love a game that can do that to you.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Like a Dream Not Quite Come True: Gran Turismo PSP

If you are a fan of the Gran Turismo series, and you own a PSP, this is the game you have been waiting for. It was announced as coming when the system was first released. In typical Gran Turismo fashion, it was a bit late ... by a few years.

The game itself looks beautiful, plays great for a handheld and contains 800 cars. Sweet motherfucking Jesus. All your favorite tracks are there, too. So what is the complaint? (No, not lack of damage -- that has been the standard complaint of the series since day one). It's the fact that much of the challenge is gone.

In the previous games in the series, you had to finish the license challenges and you had to finish certain races. If you did these things you got cars. Now you can simmply just buy cars with credits earned by doing driving challenges and winning races (including the new drift events). It has taken away a lot of what made the first four games so damn fulfilling.

Make no mistake, this is still a great game. It's actually an incredible game. I can't believe it's on a handheld. The franchise has always been porn for car fans, and this is no different. It just is lacking that extra special bit that made the originals classics.

This game will stand the test of time. It has tons of replay value, and it is a no-brainer for fans of racing games. Die hard fans of the series, however, will already be planning what they want to see in the sequel, which is sure to come out ... six years or so down the road.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ultimate Disappointment 2

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 for the PS2 has turned out to be a large disappointment so far. Granted, I'm not finished with the game yet, and it could turn out to be the best game ever fucking invented, but I somehow doubt it. It took everything that was great in the first game and kind of tossed it out the window.

Besides the game getting rid of multiple alternative costumes for characters (which then granted bonuses), it also has this overwhelming feeling of not being quite finished. I don't know what it is, but the load screens (which pop up way too often) are stylized, but lazy. The bonus medals seem trite and useless, and that glitch in the NYC level where you have to rescue three people and are then stuck is what really sealed the not-quite-done feel for this one. Even the instruction manual leaves a lot to desired.

I don't know how to unlock alternate costumes. I don't know if I get special team bonuses like in the first one, and I don't even know how to unlock extra bonus missions. I'm not finding hidden CDs like in the first game, or action figures. In fact, the more I play it the more I get the feeling that the developers actually forgot they were doing these things.

I understand the PS2 can't handle what the PS3 can. I understand the games have to be different. What I don't understand is the concept of taking out the things that made the first game great and replacing them with crap. That's not a system issue. That's a developer issue.

At this point, I won't be buying any future sequels (though I want to read reviews of the PSP verison -- which I'm not even sure came out -- in case that game is better) to this franchise until they hit the magic $20 mark. I don't want to feel ripped off again. Luckily, I used some money I made writing to get this game, so it's not like it took food off my table, but still. It's starting to be a burden to play, and that is the worst thing you can say about a video game.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Nintendo Loves Satan

You probably think the screenshot looks familiar. Kind of like Pac Man. You know, go through the maze, gobble shit, avoid ghosts, gobble ghosts. This isn't that game. This is Devil World, and it never made it to America.

Nintendo's game involves you being a cross and Bible bearing dragon that eats dots while avoiding the devil's minions, who also do things like move the maze around in an effort to kill your scaly ass. I haven't played the game, but I have read about it in various places. Quite honestly, it looks slightly interesting, and I kind of wonder why it wasn't released here. I imagine it has to do with the religious aspect of the game, but so what? Other games had that, and this game looks like it could have been a solid seller.

Perhaps Nintendo thought that the game's name was too evil. No matter. It could have easily changed it to something to do with the dragon. Maybe Dragon Maze Eater or some such nonsense. Either way, the game was never officially released here in the States.

I imagine you can find this game through the usual sources and play it on an emulator. If anyone has, I'd love to hear about it. And Nintendo, maybe you should consider releasing it in some form or another. There would probably be a small market for this puppy if only for the curiousity factor.

Unless, of course, this was all some Satanic plot to keep Americans in the dark so the Wii could take over decades later. If that's the case, well, it worked.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Football Manager 2010 Available for Pre-Order

That's right! It is now available to pre-order, so all you football fans who can't wait, click here to get your hands on it. This won't be readily available here in the good ol' US of A, but Play Asia has it.

Arsenal, bitches!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Super Deals At Target

Target will often have great deals on video games for all systems. All you have to do is find that special sales rack. I won't reveal where that spot is in Eureka, California's Target, but I'm guessing a few of you already know.

Not too long ago I scored NASCAR 09, a flawed game from my initial play of it, for the low price of $5.48 new. Yeah. You read that right. I got it because I love NASCAR games. I was torn by the decision by Jeff Gordon's mug on the cover. I couldn't beat the price, though. Under six bucks for a brand new game with a history as rich as you can imagine? Sold. I can't complain about the flaws when I paid what I did, but had I paid full price I'd have some real issues. (For starters, how is it that the New York fantasy track has a qualifying lap time of right around 53 seconds, but I scored top lap speed of 17 seconds? I can answer. There is a bug in the system that happens when there is a yellow flag lap. It screws up the times. This has no affect on the outcome, but you do get lap records you really didn't earn.)

I've gotten other games there at decent prices. I've held out for others to go even lower only to return a day or so later and find that they are gone. (A certain soccer game for the PSP comes to mind.) That's the luck of the draw, though.

My local K-Mart, again in Eureka, also has some great deals. The place always looks like it's closing, but you can find new games super cheap, too. Not only are they cheap, but they got some hard to find titles there. So, fuck Gamestop. Target and K-Mart are the places to haunt for your gaming needs.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pac Man Mild Cold

I don't know how my dad did it, but he somehow managed to snag an Atari 2600 with one of the first copies of Pac Man to hit the East Coast. The arcade game was already a huge hit, and the Atari 2600 version of the game was highly anticipated. This made my house the hub of activity for a week or so. To this day I don't know why.

The arcade version of the game is simplistic, which isn't bad. Tetris is even simplier, and that's a great game. I liked Pac Man, I just wasn't thrilled with it. When we got the Atari 2600 version I was aghast. Don't get me wrong, I played that thing like mad, but looking at it made me kind of ill.

Normally I don't mind color schemes like the game used, but when these colors came out on the television I swear they could induce some sort of seizure. I don't know why they looked the way they did. I don't know why I had such a negative reaction, but I did. I did, and it tainted most of my feelings on the entire franchise.

I suppose I should have been more impressed. The Atari 2600, while amazing for the time, was still a primitive machine. It was garish, the controls were touchy, but it starred Pac Man and at that time period there was no better character to be.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Madden 10 ... Blah, Blah, Blah

I don't play a ton of football video games. I prefer racing and soccer when it comes to sports games, but I do own a few of the 2K variety. I've played some of the Madden games, and have had fun playing them against people, but there is one thing that has always bothered me about them.


I know Madden is an icon, but he's also kind of like the creepy uncle who gets drunk at Thanksgiving, makes bad jokes, and "accidentally" cops a feel off your fifteen-year-old sister. I will agree that he knows the sport, but I found his on-air commentary to be, well, annoying at best. His voice in the game is super-freakin' annoying.

Combine that with often times unrealistic gameplay and you have a football game that always not quite right. The series sells like beer on payday Friday, but never seemed as good as it could be.

I've read that Michael Vick (oh he of dog fighting fame) won't be in the roster until a future update. Having him in the Eagles at his skill level prior to his stint behind bars will mean that any player who keeps him on the Eagles will have one hell of a team. Frustration for fans of every other team to follow.

Strangely enough, however, Vick feels more like a character who should be in Grand Theft Auto. He's been reinstated in the NFL, however, which means players will be waiting breathlessly for until EA sees fit to add him to the game. In the meantime, however, players got McNabb ... and he hasn't killed any dogs that I know of ... yet.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Kicked In The Ass Again

Soul Caliber III is one of those great fighting games that appeals to those who don't like fighting games. It's also got a fantastic character creation system that lets you do just about any character you can think of. That's the part of the game that appeals to my five-year-old daughter. And then she played it.

Admittedly, when we started playing the game I gave her a 200% handicap. I didn't want her to be discouraged from playing right away. There was a problem, though. She got real good real quick, and she liked it a lot. She liked it so much she started blurting out lines from the game at random moments.

Today I took the handicap away.

In other fighting games she's done well ... without any handicaps. Not great, but well enough to make the game fun. When I took the handicap away the game got really interesting because she got better.


Perfect, actually.

She was winning fights without me even laying a hand on her. Perfect.

Granted, I won a few, but she never got a "Perfect" when playing with the handicap. And my wins, it should be noted, came from me doing a running slide to knock her out of the ring. "Why would you do that?" she asked. It was a good question. I didn't want to tell her it was because it's the only way I could win.

Eventually she grew tired of the game because beating me so much wasn't as "much fun."

Seriously? She's five, and this is ridiculous. I'm now forced to break out a NASCAR game and school her in the ways of competition.

God knows I can't do it any other way.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Every Kill Is Clean And Pure

It would seem like a game made for me. A game built on snuff film culture. Manhunt. I bought it new at full price. There was some buzz about it when its arrival neared. Too gory. Glorified violence. You know, the usual stuff politicos like to target when drawing attention away from illegal wars, pork barrel spending, and sex scandals.

I enjoyed the game well enough, though I found it a bit tedious. The storyline was okay, but the stealth, kill, run, kill got to be a bit too much of the same thing after some time (though the villains were pretty neat). I didn't buy the sequel, and that's because it sounded like they developers tried to quell the controversy that time around.

Let's face it, video games are a lot like comic books when it comes to the eyes of the uninformed. These wanna-be censors, the morality polygon police, think that video games are the domain of children. To think that adults play just doesn't computer. Hence the Manhunt controversy.

This is not a video game for little kids, and I doubt any little kid would want to play it. My daughter, who loves video games, has not even looked at it when she's digging through the stacks. Now, thirteen-year-olds might want to play it, and I don't think that is all that horrible. There's nothing in the game that is going to cause a sane teen to question their world as they know it. Most kids I've met know the difference between fact and fantasy, and this game would be no different.

I'll admit that killing people in this game is therapeutic. I brings a smile to my face not because I'm a psycho, but because I'm not. I get stressed and I don't do typical stress-relief actions like drinking, drugs, or shooting up an LA Fitness. I play video games, and if I can play one where I am the psycho that does mean, horrible things, then so be it. People don't apologize for reading murder mysteries, and I won't apologize for liking violent video games. They aren't the only thing I play (or even the majority), but I do play them, and I do like them.

For all you well-meaning folks concerned about the content of games: If you have kids, monitor what they play. If you don't have kids, stop trying to dictate what others can play. If the games make you uncomfortable, don't play them. It's that easy. Don't spend the money. Don't play the game. You can't cry about the imaginery children that may or may not be affected because that's the parent's job. As a parent, I can tell you I don't trust you to do my job. And thanks for screwing up the sequel.

I'd much rather you turn your concern to healthcare or the economy and leave the game playing up to the people who know what they are talking about -- the players themselves.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

More Awards Won -- Lunar Lander

By some weird twist of fate, I was able to snag all four awards in the Lunar Lander game on PSP's Atari Classics Evolved. Up until this game, I had never played it.

Sure, I had seen the game back in the day but stayed away from it like it was Defender. Land a craft on the moon? How fun could that be? Nothing was shooting at you or coming at your ship on a chaotic tumble. Video games were not about landing. They were about shooting. Period. I still haven't played the classic mode of the game, but the evolved mode is actually kind of fun. What surprised me was that I was able to get all four awards in relatively short time (compared to my win rate on a game I am great at -- Centipede, which is confounding me every step of the way). I'm ever closer now to getting all 44 awards, but my patience is wearing thin, and I don't know how much more I have in me.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Atari Classics -- One Step Closer

I'm over the half way mark when it comes to the awards in the PSP Atari Classics Evolved. I finished all the Warlords ones (tough), and now have a total of 23 I believe.

Apparently there is a file floating around that has all the awards achieved on it, but I want to do this the old-fashioned way. I want to earn them. Cheat codes are for fuckers with mommy issues. (You know who you are.)

I'm taking my car in to be serviced soon. Two hours of uninterrupted time. I plan on achieving a few more.

Monday, July 13, 2009


I first saw the ad for the Atari 2600 game Reactor in a comic book. I don't know why, but the copy for the game made it seem like something I'd want to play. The below commercial did almost the exact opposite.

I ended up getting the game with its unimpressive (by my standards) box. I ended up really liking it, especially the soundtrack (for some strange reason). The game made me a bit tense, as I really feared being "sucked into the vortex." It was, however, everything a good Atari game should be. It was fast and frantic and had me glued to the television for hours on end. Looking at the commerical now shows that it didn't do the game justice.

I don't remember all that much about the comic book ad (other than it may have been drawn by Jack Davis), but I do remember the concept of the game. Being stuck in a nuclear reactor seemed like a cool idea for a game. (And that's saying a lot for someone who lived near enough to Three Mile Island during its crisis that annihilation was a concern.) Sure, like all 2600 games the graphics could've represented anything, but that didn't matter. All that mattered was: Is this game fun?
Reactor was fun. I don't think it's on any anthology/museum game, but if it were, I'd be playing it today. Just don't ask me to watch that damn commercial again.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Humboldt County's Shop Local Campaign Fails Gamers

I've always had a soft spot for Samurai Shodown. I remember spending countless quarters playing it at various locations in Redding, California. Months ago I heard that Samurai Shodown Anthology was set to be released for the PS2 at a $14.99 price. How could I resist that?

Lately the push to buy local has been running full steam ahead here in Humboldt County. I've been a critic of the movement as I think it is less than truthful about its intentions. My attempt to get this game showcases part of the problem with this movement.

I put the game on my Amazon wishlist. If this game had come out a few years ago I could've gotten it at Crasty's, a local video game store that, after several location changes, went out of the bricks and mortar business. Unfortunate, yes. But I did have other options. Namely, Gamespot.

Anyone who has dealt with Gamestop knows what a headache the place can be. On the weekend of the game's release I called them and had this conversation.

Me: I'm looking for Samurai Shodown Anthology for the PS2. Is it in?

Manager at Gamestop: We haven't had that game in a long time.

Me: It just came out Tuesday.

Manager: Oh, right. We have it for the PSP I think.

Me: What about the PS2? Your store's e-mails indicate it is in.

Manager: We don't have it.

Me: When will you get it?

Manager: We won't. It's not ever coming in.

Me: Ever?

Manager: You can wait until it comes in used ...

Me: No.

So I checked the other stores, which were unfortunately parts of national chains. F.Y.E.. Target. Nothing. Eventually I got it on Amazon.

Shop local pushers would have you believe it's easy to keep all your money in the community. As this shows, however, that isn't nearly true. The local, independent video game store had long since gone under. The local big box retailers and national retail stores never got it in and nor did they try. Amazon, however, not only gave me with free shipping (I bought $25 worth of stuff), but it arrived earlier than Amazon had predicted.

What should I have done? Deprived myself of the game in order to keep 45% of my $14.99 here in Humboldt? Wait for the game to show up used? No. Instead I went with the first person who wanted to sell me the game at a good price. Was it local? Nope, but not due to lack of trying.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Asteroids: The Movie

Asteroids is slated to become a movie. That's right. Atari's simplistic arcade game is going to hit the silver screen. Hopefully there will actually be a script or something.

Is this a good thing?


I can't even imagine video game junkies being excited by this one. Adding a story to the video game in order to make a movie makes it anything but Asteroids.

Enjoy the show.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Super Breakout: 3 Down 1 To Go

I've earned three awards and now all I have to do is beat the one that requires me to destroy all the yellow and green blocks. Of course, these two colors are gradients, and I'm color blind, but I think I'll manage.

Earning this last reward will clear Super Breakout. It will not even put me at halfway yet. I've earned zero rewards on Tempest. That may be the next one I go for.

Every day puts me a step closer. I will do this. I think I may be the first one to do it, too. (At least I can hope.)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

At War With Atari

I've been doing this thing where I try to get all the awards in Atari Classics Evolved. It's a thankless challenge, but I want to do it. I've got all but one in Super Breakout and a host of others. I decided to give the aforementioned game a break and focus on the awards in Centipede, my all time favorite game.

In no time I beat the three challenges and waited for my awards save screen to appear. Then ... nothing. No awards save screen. No awards rewarded. Then I realized I had been playing the game on the wrong difficulty level. To say I was pissed was an understatement. Clearing the screen of all mushrooms had been hard as hell, and now I had to do it again?

I almost threw the PSP across the room.

I remain undaunted, however. I will beat all 44 challenges, and I will open those Atari 2600 games. It is my will.

(And I will probably be disappointed.)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Boring Game Alert

What could possibly be the most boring game ever is due to hit stores far too soon. The Beatles: Rock Band. One of the most overrated bands is about to become one of the most overrated games.

I understand the contribution the Beatles have made to music. We've had countless untalented bands to remind us of that for years. I'm glad certain members of society have decided to take their rage out on some of the group's individuals instead of turning that anger on me (you hear me, Chapman)? So, if only because I have been stabbed or shot I'm grateful for the existence of the band.

But a video game? Did the Mommas and the Poppas refuse to license or something?

I get it that the band would be a huge selling point if sixty-year olds trying to relive drug-addled teen dreams were the main demographic, but it's not. It's people like you and me. Good luck with that! It's the Beatles! Yeah, I want to jam on plastic instruments to "Strawberry Fields Forever" or whatever the hell it is called.

Instead of marketing this as a sleeping aid, it's being pushed as a fun, interactive video game that may appeal to those who find Metallica "too wild." God, I can't wait to get the Thomas Dolby hits package with a free code for some Wings DLC.

Please, God, make this madness stop. Next thing you know we'll be getting licensed game versions of The Terminal or Clerks II just because there's potential money to be made.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Just Rewards

Atari Classics Evolved for the PSP received mixed reviews. I can see why, too. Your enjoyment of it will be directly linked to your enjoyment of the original games. In all, you get 11 Atari games in classic and evolved versions. Each game has four awards that you can win, and if you earn all the awards you open up over 50 classic Atari 2600 games. Therein lies the rub.

These awards are tough as hell to get.

There are no cheat codes that I can find.


The fact that I'd have over 60 games on one UMD was enough to get me to fork over $20 for the game, and if I never unlock all the 2600 games I'll be okay. The awards system also makes me want to play the thing every day. While on vacation I actually unlocked several (and discovered a new love for Warlords), but there are some achievements I'll wonder if I can ever reach.

I've checked out various forums and reviews of this game. All have expressed anger that Atari hasn't made a cheat code available, or even did it that each award unlocked a game (a far better way to go), but in Atari's defense, this may have actually made the game better. It goes from a mere plaything to an obsession. It challenges you in the way the older games did, something that was lost when the NES came to light.

I now want to be the first person to unlock the games. I'll post the list here when I do ... if I do. If someone has already done this, I haven't found it out there.

I just hope E.T. isn't one of the unlockables.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Is This A Joke?

PS3 users who purchase Batman Arkham Asylum are in for a "treat." They will get to play as the Joker. Interesting.

I'm a Batman fan, and I do like the Joker, though I think few writers ever get him right. Alan Moore did a great job on him, as did Frank Miller. For the most part, though, writers misinterpret the character. It appears this video game is no different.

Joker is, first and foremost, a psychological character. He can't go toe-to-toe with Batman, who dominates him in strength. Joker's only advantage is his insanity. Granted, he has gadgets he has used and will use in the video game, but that's still no real match for Batman. All the best Batman stories dealt with Batman wading through the aftermath of Joker's crazed plans or trying to thwart them. When Batman does resort to fisticuffs with the villain (when done by a good writer) it often ends in the most typical of ways (Joker grabbing a hostage or pulling a gun).

I can understand why the developers wanted to do this. Joker is the Batman enemy. It does seem like a cool idea to play as him, and tossing PS3 owners an exclusive is always good. That said, it should've been a different villain. Killer Croc. Bane. Mr. Freeze. Phosphorous Man. None of those are the big names like Joker, but in a video game that will have plenty of fighting they make more sense.

I don't have a PS3, and this game doesn't make me want to buy one. I will admit it seems interesting, but I doubt that if I had it I would ever play as the Joker. Phosphorous Man, however, now that would be damn cool.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Tap Out

Midnight. Friday night. Can't sleep. For some reason I thought of Tapper. I never really liked that game, but I knew a girl who kicked ass. I used to run video game tournaments and whenever she would enter I would "randomly" pick that game. I figured the prize was an ice cream cone. I could skew the freaking contest.

I watched her just dominate that game. She would get to some alien bar, if I recall right, and kids would be impressed. Here was a girl playing an arcade game. That was as rare as a girl in a comic book store in those days (mid 1980s). I'd kick ass at Centipede, and she'd own Tapper. She disliked my game, and I hated hers. I tried it a couple times, too, but was never good at it. Her ... Zen.

I don't know if this ever came out on any systems, but I can't imagine it would be as fun. The arcade version had beer tap controllers, which really added to the game. Buttons just wouldn't be the same.

Anyway, this is sleepy video game talk. Tapper. Geez.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

PSP Go And Gran Turismo

The PSP Go is making it's way around the web, and the talk of Gran Turismo actually coming to the system has once again arisen. For those who remember such things GT was supposed to be there at the launch of the very first PSP. It never showed.

GT games have always been late. The PSP game was non-existent. I don't expect it for the PSP ever, and I won't be buying the new PSP system. I was going to run a photo here, but it's just ugly and the control scheme looks painful at best. No UMD drive, so those without Internet access are screwed.

Sony lost a billion dollars by its own admission. This will help how?

Friday, May 29, 2009

N20 -- The One That Got Away

I played a demo of this PlayStation game once and loved it. It was a crazy-ass shooter that has some kind of cool music and trippy graphics. I only saw it for sale once, though. Used at $20 and I didn't have the cash on me.

I haven't seen the game for sale since, though I haven't been looking for it too much. I always forget about it when I'm scanning eBay. I've regretted not having this game, and I have no fears that it will be one of those I want so badly, get and am disappointed by. It was just ... fun. That's happened in the past. Manhunt, which I bought new, was one of those games. It wasn't horrible, but it was nowhere near as exciting as I thought it would be.

There are some games I love that I know aren't that good, but they hold some kind of magic-like spell over me. Postal. Xevious. Pinball Wizard. Rumble Roses.

I will get this game at some point. I will have it. I will play it. I will enjoy it. I will not sell it back to Gamestop or some shit like that. It, like this limited-edition Coop print, will be mine to be worshipped.

Or it will suck and I'll be bitterly disappointed and pissed at having wanted it for so long.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Make Cancer

I'm obsessed with the ball rolling fun that is the Katamari franchise. I've got the PSP game and both PS2 ones. I look around me and see things that would be fun to roll. I can't believe a game so simple (and so very Japanese) would be so damn therapeutic. Sure, rolling up tacks and candy is fun, but actually getting a schoolboy, a cow and a truck just lets the stress out.

My daughter and I had plans of making a katamari and rolling up stuff from around the neighborhood. She really wanted to get these kids from down the block stuck to it, too, which I thought was pretty cool. We play the games together, and she is just as obsessed as I am.

Some people like FPS to blow off steam (I'd like to that at work, perhaps). Some get into Tetris. Lately I've been thinking of "making" Cancer better. (If you played the first game, you get the reference. It's fairly jarring the first time you see that stage name.)

This obsession will end soon, I'm sure. In the meantime, though, I'm rolling things up and relieving stress. It beats fragging some bad AI morons on some outpost any day.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Raiders of the Lost Ark ... Atari Style

If this screen shot means causes your heart to skip a beat, you've beaten the Atari 2600 Raiders of the Lost Ark game. It was a game ahead of its time. The first game I ever remember utilizing two controllers in a single player game. It was also the first game I remember requiring you to actually think and solve real puzzles to get to the end. Remember when you figured out what time you had to be in certain areas and kept watching that watch? Remember the flies? The mesas? The snakes? The whip?

Granted, by today's standards the game is primitive. Anyone growing up on PlayStation would find it embarrassing, but at the time it was one hell of a game. I spent an entire summer playing that thing, and I don't regret one second of it. It was the game all my friends talked about. I wouldn't say it was the Halo of its time because video games were not at that stage yet. They were still fairly fringe items. It was, however, important to all those who played games.

I haven't played a single Indiana Jones game on a console since playing that one. They just haven't interested me. I think that in time I will probably pick up another one if I can get it cheap, but I doubt it will give me the same thrill. I'm older, harder to impress, and I've seen what can be done with games. But I'll be damned if I don't have some great memories of those days...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pen Capping Blues

WTF for PSP is one of those odd little games that you get addicted to fairly easily. If you have played it, you know what I mean. If you haven't ... read another post. This won't make a lick of sense to you.

So you've played WTF. You bought a toy soldier or a Queen Mantis toy. What I really want to know is: How many pens have you capped in one sitting?

My record is 562. 562 pens capped and sent on their way. The lady who gave me the game, an act I thought was nice at first and have now become convinced was done to destroy my free time, did well over a thousand. How many have you done? Have you filled the entire bottom of the screen with numbers, and if so, how long did that take? (I can only imagine.)

For those eager to know what this mini game is ... well ... okay. Pens come up on the screen. You put a cap on them. You send them on their way. Some pens are upside down. You turn them around, cap them, and send them away.

Of course there are other games in WTF, but this is one I am fascinated with for some odd reason. Cap. Send. Rotate. Cap. Send. Collect a small paycheck. Buy a toy.

Geez, the things I'm amused by ...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Apple Bites Back

I received a text message on my phone that Apple is looking to take over EA. While I like Apple and I like EA, I can only see this as a bad thing.

First, while I don't think it would take away games from Xbox (a dumb move if ever there were one), I think that would be a real fear for some people. Apple has never been the friendliest to its competition.

Then there is Apple itself. I used to be a huge Apple fan. My enthusiasm has waned over the years, however, as the company as grown even more exclusive (and it was pretty close to a private club to begin with). Yeah, it lets people make apps for the iPhone, but even that hasn't been without controversy.

Overall, however, one has to look at what this move would mean to EA. When it comes to that, I'm not sure. Apple has been doing good financially, but it hasn't always been that way. In fact, if memory serves correctly it's almost gone under in the past. And then there is the question of how well the company really understands video games and how hands off it would be (not very likely). What is the company's intention? What are its plans?

Video games, for as popular as they are, are still largely misunderstood by the mainstream. Apple, while familiar with the role of the outsider, is now mainstream (sorry purists). Microsoft got it right. Will Apple? Hard to say, but I look at Apple more like Toshiba getting into the game. It would ... interesting.

In my grandest inner-scheming I see Apple wanting to get a handhold in the business so that when it develops its home device (something that streams tv, movies, phone, Internet, video games, and keeps track of groceries), it will know more of what it is getting into. That's just speculation, however. I don't know what the idea behind it really is. I'm sure only Steve Jobs knows. (Insert evil laughter here.)

By the time this hits the web, the whole process could be over. I haven't heard, and nor have I sought out info on it. I think there is a slim chance it will happen, but I do think Apple is seriously looking to take over some video game company because it is easier than starting its own.

The next expo should be pretty damn interesting.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Crack Smokers

I finished Stage 5 of the addictive Space Invaders Extreme, thus unlocking the Extreme mode of the invading space marauders.
Were the developers on crack? They must have been. The laser fire that flies around is akin to Contra, only much more chaotic, if you can imagine that. Oh, and I haven't found any Up, Down, Up Down type of nonsense to help out. Not that I would use cheat codes anyway, as I don't often do that, but every once in a while it is nice.

I played the Extreme levels for a bit before I put it aside to go for N+, my next quest. This game seems to have the same drug-addled developers as it is just as insane. It makes me long for my FIFA games, actually. Run, jump, avoid mines. Ninja blows into a thousand pieces. Who the hell ever thought ninjas wanted gold anyway? Ridiculous.

I'll let you know my thoughts on this one after I play it more. One thing is for certain, however. It has a tough act to follow.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Taito Time

Anyone who reads my other blog (Cancerous Zeitgeist) knows my obsession with Space Invaders Extreme. I play it on the PSP. I am addicted. There are no twelve step programs for this game, though. You just have to play.

I am stuck on Stage 5. It's ridiculous. I feel like a moron, and I'm pretty sure there is some strange glitch with the game so that I can't advance. (It's the old "this controller doesn't work" argument.) I've been told I have to play to at least Stage 10, and believe me, I want to hear that sexy female voice tell me I've arrived. I just don't see it happening anytime soon.

I'm giving it until the end of this month. If I can't beat Stage 5, I'm moving on. I will revisit the game at some other time. Yes, I'm addicted. Yes, it will be hard to put the game away, but I'm not masochist. I know when I'm beat for a time. I need to regroup.

The funny thing is, I used to hate, fucking hate, Space Invaders. It drove me nuts in the arcade, and when we bought the Atari 2600 game in Canada with like 40 variants on the main theme, I played the hell out of it hating it the entire time. Centipede was my thing. Now, however, I play the hell out of Space Invaders Extreme and love every minute of the frustration. The level designs are brilliant. There is some incredibly serious thought that went into this game. And I can't put it down.

The end of April. Then it's onto N+.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dance, Fatboy, Dance

Okay, I could lose some weight. Problem is, I hate the overwrought homosexual vibe of gyms, I don't enjoy sweating, and I'm a big fan of soda and pizza. Yes, I walk a lot and ride my bike (even skateboard when the mood strikes), but that isn't enough.

Enter Dance Dance Revolution Supernova 2.

Yeah, I can hear the snickering, but it actually works. The game has a workout mode that tracks your weight, calories burned and distance you would have jogged had you not been in your living room screwing around on a dance pad. That alone made it worthwhile to me. The fact that I've been losing weight (coupled with changing my diet and so on), has kept me playing it.

What's the only problem? The music.

I'm a fan of punk, metal, industrial, blues and so on. A-Ha and some wacky Japanese pop stars (not to mention Bobby Brown) doesn't really motivate me the way the game makers probably intended. I know there's a game out there that utilizes your own CDs to make workout routines, but I haven't bought that yet. So, I have this grudge against the music.

The music is probably the worse thing about this game ... if nobody is around. If you are with a crowd, though, the worst thing is actually playing it. Simply put, you'll look foolish. And if there's a ten-year-old girl in the crowd who has played the game twice, well, she will hand you your ass on a plate. It's embarrassing. When my daughter watches me play, she coaches. "Way to go, Dad. You almost got it. It's getting faster. You're screwing up." I'm playing it on beginner and she is four.

Like masturbation, alcoholism and cross-dressing, playing DDR Supernova 2 is something best done alone. It will save you from looking like you are about to have a heart attack in front of your peers, and will also save you from comments like, "Wow, you aren't really that co-ordinated for guy pushing forty."

Enjoy, but consider yourself warned.