Thursday, December 11, 2008

Atari planning a comeback?

Reuters says it could be true....

LONDON (Reuters Life!) – For many gamers Atari is a blast from the past or just a logo on retro T-shirts but the company that dates back 36 years is looking to reclaim a stake of the video game landscape.

Atari Inc., founded by Nolan Bushnell, launched the first truly successful video game "Pong" in 1972 but has struggled in recent years with lackluster games like "Jenga World Tour" and "Godzilla Unleashed."

But a change in ownership this year aims to reinvigorate the company. French game publisher Infogrames had owned a majority stake in Atari since 2000 but acquired the rest of Atari this year and has assumed its name.


I question the ability of any gaming company to gain a foothold in this economy; but who knows? I didn't think Nintendo would ever make a comeback but the Wii has hushed my mouth.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A quick response to all Rick Astley fans

Dear disgruntled Rick Astley fans;

I am amused you have taken such an interest in a column that runs on the inside of the D section in our newspaper; I write it once a week for fun and a free Gamefly account. Occasionally I'll deviate and talk about other technology-related issues.

I say this to give you some context; I don't feel one way or the other about Mr. Astley, his music or his loyal fan base. And if you object to my characterization of him as a "one hit wonder," I defy you to walk up to any person on the street and have them name another famous Astley song.

Much of his online press actively touts "Never Gonna Give You Up" as his best-known work. Just because there's a few of you that can sing his whole catalog backwards, doesn't mean my assessment of things was inaccurate.

This isn't about journalism. This is my opinion. I wasn't making a judgment about Rick Astley as a person. I'm sure he's a nice guy and he can carry a tune. I was just trying to find a marker for determining when a stupid Internet phenomenon, such as Rickrolling, is officially dead.

Astley's cheesy music is what made the Rickroll meme so successful in the first place.

So, again: lighten up and don't take what some columnist at a small Alabama newspaper says personally.

And for the fan who referred to me as a "hick." I found a surprising number of Astley fans were unfamiliar with some of the basic rules of grammar based on the comments left on the column. I guess all my days reading Elements of Style after long-nights of cow-tipping really paid off.

- Peace

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Rick Astley column touches nerve

So today, I made fun of Rick Astley and the whole Rickrolling phenomenon. And I managed to offend the one Rick Astley fan left on planet earth.

Who do you think you are calling Rick Astley a one hit wonder?
Dont you think you have some responsbility to tell the truth?
Rick Astley was never a one hit wonder his 1st 10 singles went to number 1
WORLWIDE , he still holds that record! His 1st 2 albums went platinum.
Everyone of his albums was in the top of the charts .
He sold close to 20 million records . He's still on tour in Europe , Asia and
The far East , every show sells out !
How dare you make such a remark about someone you obviously know
nothing about , you could have done just a few minutes research or
kept your ignorant comments to yourself .




So naturally, I gave her an appropriate response:

A touch sensitive aren't we? I appreciate you reading, but lighten up. I was just making a joke.

I also have a neat internet video you should look at....

http://smouch.net/lol/

Peace,

Dan

Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Resistance 2"


"Resistance 2," the sequel to "Resistance Fall of Man" is just a very pretty game. I really do like the ambiance of the series and the story-line.

So far the game plays well and the story is a quick-paced shoot-em up with stunning visuals. Works for me.

Expect the full review this week.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Playstation Network Hits 14 Million User!

On Tuesday to celebrate the PlayStation 3`s second birthday, Sony announced that its free PlayStation Network (PSN) has hit 14 million active users. This actually matches the 14 million subscribers that pay to play on Microsoft's Xbox Live. To avoid duplication Sony doesn`t count a registration made on a PSP and then used on a PS3 or the other way around as two accounts. Like Xbox Live however the PSN figures do include multiple accounts used on the same console. This is very impressive for Sony and the PSN considering Xbox Live on the 360 had a year head start on the PS3's PSN. The question is will Sony's PSN be the leader in online console gaming or will Xbox Live still remain the king? only time will tell.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Beaten with a stick


I love baseball. A lot. I keep close tabs on my Seattle Mariners no matter their record, which was abysmal again this season. I also watch a majority of the Braves games that are on TV as well as Sunday and Monday night baseball on ESPN. This obsession also carries over to the virtual diamond. I'm a huge fan of Sony's MLB: The Show series and, to a lesser extent, 2KSports MLB2K games.

You can imagine my delight when I learned that an Xbox Live Arcade baseball title was set to release today called MLB Stickball. I figured the game wouldn't be sim based but could provide some fun arcade style baseball for a cheap price. I was wrong.

The game features 120 MLB players with 4 representatives from the leagues 30 teams. The rosters are pretty well done for the most part. I was pleased to see Manny Ramirez on the Dodgers. However, some of the choices are just plain bizarre. Daniel Cabrera over Orioles' Ace Jeremy Guthrie? Ivan Rodriquez as one of the four Yankees? At least they didn't include Erik Bedard.

Only 30 players are available initially. The rest are unlocked through buying cards with the points you earn during a game. Fifty points will net you a pack of 3 cards. You are given the option to trade in 3 duplicate cards of one player for any other MLB star. I really like this system because it offers replayability while allowing the gamer to unlock the players he likes best.

Stickball can be played with up to four players online or off. Regular exhibition games can be played as well. The meat of the game is called Tour, which is an eight team schedule made up of random computer opponents. Why is there no choice to play all 30 teams in order like in the old NBA Jam games? Unacceptable.

Let's move on to the game. The first order of business upon selecting a team is to set your lineup. You will choose four players and the order in which they hit/pitch. I usually put my two best arms at the top since the normal game length is 6 innings, which allows them two innings of work. There are generic players that specialize in certain categories that you must choose before unlocking all of the teams players. Power hitter, power pitcher, control pitcher, control hitter and all-around player are some of the choices.

The problem lies in the fact that ratings seem to mean nothing in actual gameplay. I've hit just as many homers with people with low power ratings than those with a near capped rating. It makes even less sense on the pitching side. I seem to have more success pitching with Adrian Beltre than J.J. Putz, despite the players having ratings that should prove otherwise. Not to mention the fact that I was almost no hit by a combination of B.J. Upton, Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford. Actually I did get no hit by them, but the 10 runs I scored off Scott Kazmir put me ahead for good. It doesn't make sense and it pretty much ruins the game.

The hitting/pitching mechanics are surprisingly solid, but could definitely use some work. On offense you have the choice of regular and power swings. You can also rotate your batter to change the direction they will hit the ball, which is dumb. They simply should have allowed for pushing and pulling the ball to be mapped on the left stick. On the mound, or manhole cover in this case, you have a four pitch arsenal that includes a fastball, curveball, lob and bounce pitch. You simply tap the button to start the pitch and then hit it again at the desired power. There are no fielding controls due to the nature of the game. It's an automatic out if the batter fails to get the ball past the mound. Any hit that a defensive player cannot catch is a single, unless it hits one of the objects on the field, goes over the fence or goes into foul territory.

The six field locations make MLB Stickball more frustrating than any game needs to be. For example, the Brooklyn field takes place on a narrow street. The fire truck at the end of the street will net you a triple if you hit it, and a homer if you go over. There are also several cars that provide doubles when struck. However, it's an automatic out if you hit a window on any of the houses. All of the other playing fields feature similar obstacles that provide either positive or negative bonuses, so you will need to alter your style in order to take advantage of each level.

It's that strategy, along with the minor chess match in selecting the right lineup, that makes MLB Stickball worth a shot for fans of baseball. The problem lies in the limited amount of in-game options and the seemingly useless player ratings. I strongly urge anyone interested to play the free demo before laying down the 800 MS points to unlock the full version. I'm going to give the game a generous 2.5/5 buttons.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

More better living through "World of Warcraft"

"WoW": Is there anything it can't do?

It's not unusual for video game players to speak of a routine that involves ordering pizza, getting a sugar jolt, and then playing "World of Warcraft" for hours.

But the person talking in this case is Constance Steinkuehler, an educational researcher who organized an afterschool group for boys to play, for educational purposes, the massively multiplayer online role-playing game.

Some of the eighth graders and high school freshmen who signed up for the group couldn't have cared less about writing or reading in school.

Yet those students have gone from barely stringing together two sentences to writing lengthy posts in their group's Web site forum, where they discuss detailed strategies for gearing up their virtual characters and figuring out tough quests.

"It has worked ridiculously well," Steinkuehler said. "It shouldn't be working as well as it is."

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Nintendo diggin' in the archives

Gamekyo is reporting that Nintendo is planning on upgrading one of their classics for the Wii. The announcement will be made at the media briefing currently scheduled for Thursday.

Nintendo seems to be hiding some more surprises for its upcoming Japanese press conference next Thursday. Everyone is talking about a new model of the Nintendo DS that includes a camera, but what you don't know is that Nintendo has a new game to show. We can announce today that Nintendo will reveal a new game for the Wii during this event which is actually an old franchise that everyone is waiting for. Nintendo press conference will be held in Japan on October 2nd.


Let the speculation commence. I fully expect it to be Kid Icarus, but I'd also place a good bet on a Punch-Out! revival. Maybe the Big N will reach deep in their bag of tricks for Super Duck Hunt Hyper Fighting Turbo 2 Remix.

Monday, September 29, 2008

WoW hits PPV



I received an e-mail from our good friends at Blizzard today that gave me a chuckle. It seems that this years BlizzCon will be available for viewing on DIRECTV Pay Per View. That's right, fans of Blizzard games can watch the companies show from the comfort of their own home. Here are some of the details from the e-mail:

• Over 16 hours of crystal-clear high-definition coverage
• Exclusive interviews and commentary
• Tournament coverage and team highlights
• The BlizzCon 2008 World of Warcraft in-game polar bear mount

Those interested in ordering access to the two day event can click here for more details. DIRECTV is offering the PPV for free to new subscribers that activate their account before October 9th. Current DIRECTV subscribers will need to lay down a cool 40 bucks to watch the convention.

I think it's cool that Blizzard is allowing fans that cannot attend the event in person a chance to experience the magic of BlizzCon. It's also a great way for the company to rise the hype levels for the release of Wrath of the Lich King in November. I wish Square Enix had gone with a similar strategy for their FFXI Fan Fest events. Probably a good idea that they didn't though, because the company would have wanted my first born child and a pony in addition to the dough.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Back to the Future

I've been quite busy now that football season is in full swing. That hasn't stopped me from picking up a controller every now and then, though. The past couple of months have been pretty tame as far as retail releases goes, but several good downloadable titles have been released across all three consoles. I'll have updates on a few other games later on in the week.

The Blue Bomber returns


I was pleased when Capcom announced that Mega Man would be making a return this year. That excitement grew when I learned it would be in the traditional series and that the game would come intact with the graphics of the NES versions. It then became my most anticipated downloadable game of the year when the company quiped that the title would be made in the spirit of Mega Man 2, my favorite in the series. Does Mega Man 9 live up to the enormous amount of hype? Simply put, yes.

One of the main reasons I love Mega Man games lies in the difficulty. These games were hard. Theres nothing quite like jumping from moving block to moving block over a dark abyss. The challenge combined with terrific gameplay and fantastic music made growing up with Mega Man a blast.

The newest installment takes the difficulty to the next level and provides the toughest experience to date for our hero. The checkpoints in each stage seem to be placed further apart than normal, so one mistake could send you back quite a ways. Tornado Man will provide even the best Mega Man player with a challenge.

The stages, robot masters and general flow of the game is all ace. The game plays just as Mega Man 2 did back in the day, which means the Mega Buster cannot be charged like in parts 4-8 and there is no slide. The platforming elements are better than ever. As mentioned above, Mega Man is known for having an amazing soundtrack. Mega Man 2 still has the best music in a game ever, but 9 provides quite a show for the ears.

You are also given 50 challenges to complete while playing through the game. Some are fairly easy such as defeating 100 enemies or killing a specific robot master in under a certain time. Others are completely insane and were clearly added by crazed programmers. I'd love to shake the hand of anyone that can complete this game without getting hit.

My lone gripe with the game is the downloadable content that will be releasing soon. The game itself is only 10 dollars (800 MS points, 1000 Wii points), but Capcom will release 8 dollars worth of downloadable content over the next couple of weeks. This includes the ability to play as Protoman, two harder difficulty modes and more. Capcom should have included everything in the main game and released for 5 dollars more. That said, everything else about Mega Man 9 is quite good and I'd recommend it to anyone that enjoys the series.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Steal on Steam


For you PC gamers out there, the Rockstar Games Collection on Steam is a cool 30 bucks this weekend. The set includes Grand Theft Auto, Grand Theft Auto 2, Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Max Payne, Max Payne 2, Manhunt, Midnight Club 2 and Wild Metal. You can also buy the games seperately or in series packs. Steam is Valve's (Half-Life) digital distribution gaming service.

I picked up the Grand Theft Auto pack for 15 dollars, mainly to give San Andreas a whirl for the first time. After all, I need something to get me warmed up for Saints Row 2 next month. I highly recommend the Max Payne titles if you are a fan of shooters. Bullet time is one of the coolest features in the genre, and the game as a whole is ace. You'll have to forgive Max for talking like a 1400s literature book though.

I'll be posting a roundup in the next couple of days of the games I've been playing over the past month or so. Why not jack some virtual cars at a reduced price until then?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Been kind of hectic round here lately

Sorry for the lack of updates, guys. I do my best to balance work and whatnot- not long after I got finished with the elections, I had to work on a massive Sunday project. So I got a little lazy.

But not as lazy as these Google folks describing their wonderful new Google phone....



Settle down now. Katrina says T-Mobile will be carrying these so we may be getting one when they come out. The Apple products are also starting to lose some of their charm. (I think my Ipod is neat, but I don't feel I have as much flexibility with my music as I'd like.)

And for anyone who wants to use android- there's a $10 million pile waiting out there for some crafty developers.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

So, Microsoft wants to play?

Apparently, Microsoft has made the arcade version of the XBox 360 the cheapest next-gen console on the market. This in an attempt to cut in to the Wii's market share. While industry experts seem confident that the move will work, I ask this question: Don't XBox 360s break? A lot? I'd be tempted to invest $199, just to own some XBox-exclusive titles, but I fear the console would fail me after a month. Still, the laws of supply and demand predict that Microsoft will sell more units, but I don't imagine they'll make a big dent in the Wii.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Mannowdog chronicles

My friend Tim, a.k.a. Rickilake, texted me this morning and asked if I wanted to get on "World of Warcaft." He's riding out Gustav in Mobile but thankfully the storm appears to have weakened.

I had a devil of a time gathering materials for my engineering skills last night, and there's some things I have to attend to. I need to basically configure everything on my inventory into whatever I can make so I can get my engineering up. I'm also a few points shy of being able to mine True Silver, a rare ore I spotted on a hillside in the Badlands.

We're about to complete a timed quest in Tanaris. Then I'm hoping we can run an instance and find some better gear.

"My Word Coach"



I played "My Word Coach" for the DS off and on for the weekend- a weekend which included a brief visit and a quick exodous from New Orleans. Evacuate- To leave a place under threat.

There are some good things that I can say about this game. It isn't mentally frustrating. It gives you vocabulary-buffing exercises in short bursts, setting goals per day. Nintendo, not content to let people raise imaginary puppies on its DS console, is also reaching out to the educational game market. A smart move that ads more purpose to the system.

One gripe I have with this game is one I have with other vocabulary building tools- it doesn't list the part of speech. Knowing how to use a word is just as important as knowing what it means. Granted some words have multiple uses, but would it really have been so hard to note those?

I have to dock it some points there. But assuming you can figure out how the words are used in sentence construction you will pick up some new words and become reacquainted with some old ones you thought you knew. Its a pretty reliable road-map to conversation; kind of like a GPS that needs some of the side-streets updated on its information card.

What this game really makes me crave is a title that teaches history; particularly U.S. History.

Please hook it up, Nintendo.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mannowdog chronicles

Sunday on eve of Labor Day weekend. I am back from jogging and playing my level 44 lock, Mannow dog. I tried to get Tim (a.k.a. Rickilake) back on to run some quests. But alas no such luck. I'm now running around the badlands like a little tinker gnome mining mithril for materials.

"World of Warcaft" is full of little tasks.

Late update:

I managed to best a Dragon Kin elite but was unsuccessful against six of them. Go figure. Some mithril ain't worth the trouble.

Too Human's Nothing Special

















This was supposed to be the big rpg on the 360 before Fable 2 hits in November. I played the Too Human demo and decided to check out the full version. I kind of wish I hadn't, but hindsight's 20/20. The game isn't bad, but I expected it to be better.

You play as Baldur, son of Odin, and you have to protect humanity from Loki and his robot armies. You have five classes to choose from: Berserker, Champion, Defender, Commando and Bio Engineer. They all have strengths and weaknesses, Champion being the most balanced. If you are an aggressive melee player, you’ll want to choose the Berserker; if you prefer ranged combat, you should go with the Commando. Each class wields a melee and a ranged weapon, but I found myself relying on melee attacks throughout most of the game, no matter which class I played with.

Combat takes place in real time; enemies attack you in hordes, most rushing at you while a few hang back and fire missiles. The fighting is good, but it sometimes feels awkward using the analog sticks. Combat gets repetitive after you’ve found a successful strategy; you rarely have to change because enemies attack you in the same fashion over and over. You get new skills like Spider powers (their name, not mine) and Battle Cry, but nothing makes fighting overly exciting.

If you die, you get rescued by a Valkyrie, and you start at a spot close to where you were killed, with no consequences for dying. When games do this, (see Bad Company) it instantly changes the player’s strategy from “Let me find the most efficient way to win this battle,” to “I’ll take as many of them out as I can, get killed and do the same thing again until I can move on.” If the player isn’t powerful enough to kill those enemies at that point in the game, put less enemies on screen and/or make them less powerful rather than making it impossible to lose.

When you level up, you receive skill points that you can use to raise abilities. This system would work much better if your choices weren’t so limited; you can go down one of three paths on the Skill Tree, each focusing on one particular combat area such as increasing gun abilities or aerial attacks. A few more combat features you could level up would have been nice.

There is a ton of equipment to find in this game, but you are constantly picking up better equipment. You could’ve just bought or crafted—using blueprints and bounty (money)—new weapons or armor and you look in your inventory ten minutes later and see you've picked up a better piece of equipment. After I realized this early on in the game, I didn’t buy equipment the rest of the way and did fine.

For some reason, they decided to put online multiplayer in an rpg; I didn’t get to try it out because I don’t have Xbox Live. Too Human is the first game of a planned trilogy, so Silicon Knights has a few more shots to get things right. Overall, this is a pedestrian sci-fi action rpg and it gets three out of five buttons.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Treadmill race across Azeroth

These guys hooked up a treadmill to their mouse and actually make their World of Warcraft characters run while they run. Not the worst idea in the world to be honest :)



The full blog entry is here.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Braid is bold


Microsoft promised to provide hit after hit this summer on the Live Arcade, and so far they have delivered. Geometry Wars 2, Bionic Commando: Rearmed and the upcoming cooperative slugfest Castle Crashers are all worth your hard earned spacebucks (Microsoft points). However, one game seems to stand out above the others. I'm talking about Johnathan Blow's time-bending platformer/puzzler titled Braid.

The game is indeed a platformer at heart, but the real innovation comes in the ability to manipulate time in order to solve puzzles and fix mistakes. Now I know that rewinding time is hardly a new element of video games, but this is not a "Blinx: The Time Sweeper" quality game. Braid does everything well including gorgeous hand-drawn characters and backgrounds along with a wonderful musical score. I've hummed the tune from World 2 for the last several weeks. The story is also a strong point in Braid. The life of Tim and his Princess is surely one that will have you thinking ahead.

Let's get back to the gameplay. The game is pretty much the standard Mario-esqe 2D platformer of yesteryear. A quick jump on an enemies noggin' will take them out. A simple rewinding of time will fix any booboo that Tim might get from a foe. This obviously means that you cannot "die" in Braid, but the solving of puzzles is the focus point here. There is plenty of challenge to be found.

Obviously the manipulation of time is crucial in solving the games puzzles. The real treat is that each world has a different gameplay tool that you must learn. For example, if you rewind time in World 5, a shadow clone of Tim will appear to act out the motions that you had just previously done. You are given a ring in World 6 which will slow everything down in a small radius. The smart implementation of these tools makes it easy to look forward to the start of a new level.

Braid is a hard game to put a length on, mainly because a few of the puzzles could have a gamer stranded for hours. It took me around three hours on my first playthrough for those wondering. The replay value is pretty good for a Live Arcade title, as Braid features a speed run option. The challenge time to beat for the full game is 45 minutes, which is cutting it close.

I strongly recommend Braid to any puzzle/platform loving gamer with an Xbox 360. The title is fairly expensive by Live Arcade standards at 1200 points ($15 US), but is more than worth it. The game will appear later this year on the PC, and I'm also crossing my fingers for an eventual PSN release. Braid is a solid 4.5 buttons out of five.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

So long, farewell

My friends Josh Weiss and Mike Faulk are over here smacking each other around on "Super Smash Brothers Brawl." They're also playing some Wii Play, a game which got horrible reviews, but came with a Wii mote, so there.

Josh will be leaving us for a job in Georgia. He was an intern at The Star over the summer and took some amazing photos. We wish him well.

Back to level grinding on WoW.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Anthony's test post


Doing a little training exercise for the blog don't mind us....


We saw this cool post on

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Batman hits $400 mill


I'm proud some of my money was a part of making this happen.













'Dark Knight' shoots to $400M mark in record time
Associated Press


LOS ANGELES — Add another entry for "The Dark Knight" in Hollywood's record books: The Batman sequel has climbed past $400 million at the box office in just 18 days, the fastest pace ever, a studio executive said Tuesday.

As of Monday, "The Dark Knight" had taken in $400.03 million domestically, according to distributor Warner Bros.

Jeff Goldstein, general sales manager for Warner, said the film hit that mark in less than half the time it took for the previous record-holder, "Shrek 2," which crossed the $400 million level on its 43rd day of release.

"The Dark Knight" is now No. 8 on the all-time box-office charts, and it should move up to No. 7 on Tuesday, passing the $403.7 million haul of the original "Spider-Man." That will make "The Dark Knight" the top-grossing comic-book adaptation ever.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Watchmen!

...

Imax?

Ok, so maybe I was unaware of what Imax actually means. I thought it had to do with a screen that surrounds the audience like a dome- but apparently, its just a really tall screen that adds an extra five feet to either side of the movie, at times.

I think The Dark Knight in Imax is the biggest rip off- don't do it.

...

Saw TDK for the third time this weekend. Think I'm getting sick of it? Nah. I actually would love to be a part of helping it smash the record set by Titanic- a movie that's probably the most overrated film of all time.

On another note, The Watchmen trailer is just awesome. You can't go wrong with the Smashing Pumpkins. Even if this movie really bites it will still have one of the best trailers I've ever seen.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Imax Batman and other things


I am going to see The Dark Knight in Imax in Houston this weekend. I haven't been to an Imax movie in years, mainly because the ones in Birmingham are about dolphins or volcanoes or other lame topics. Why we can't bring all of the neat Imax movies here is beyond me- you could charge me $30 bucks a ticket and I'd probably pay it

Anyway, I've been playing "Metal Gear Solid Guns of the Patriots." It's a stealth fighter with a little bit of cool thrown in for good measure. Graphis; amazing. Story; good. I haven't gotten to play online yet because it requires a slow loading system update and, as you can see, its just after midnight and I have a real job after all..

This week's column may be an unsolicited submission from a local high school student who reviewed NCAA 09 football. I love when my mental blocks for columns resolve themselves.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dark Knight

Intense. That's my quick and dirty take on The Dark Knight. If Heath Ledger doesn't get an Oscar nod for this, the people at the Academy are nuts.

Too long? Perhaps. But not long enough to keep me from sitting through it again.

And I will, too.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

OMG, OMG "The Dark Knight" in a little over two hours

I am barely able to contain my excitement. I want Katrina to quit playing WoW so we can get in line for our seats already!

Why there be so many haters


It seems some movie critics out there are just obligated to point out every flaw in The Dark Knight because of all the hype. It's good they say-- but should it really be two and a half hours long? And should Batman look so sour all the time?

I wouldn't care if this thing was four hours long- I'm a fan. Secondly, a lot of these critics I'd wager aren't hardcore Bat-geeks like myself. Given the fan-base this movie has and the anticipation behind the movie, plus the positive advance reviews, I know this movie will rock.

So if you're a movie critic, quit hatin' on Batman even though you gave his latest movie positive reviews. Fer real.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Columns-

So I got really lazy at the beginning of the summer and didn't post any columns. My bad.

Wii storage space lacking
By Chris Pittman
Special to The Star
07-17-2008

Nintendo's Wii took the world by storm when it was released in November 2006. The innovative motion controls combined with the company's cast of memorable characters caught the eyes of children and adults alike.

However, it was the promise of downloadable games from Nintendo's past that caught my attention.

This service, dubbed the Virtual Console, allows gamers to download titles from classic systems, for a fee, of course. I feel that Nintendo has done a pretty good job in keeping the flow of additions steady.

In fact, there is only one glaring issue with Nintendo's blast-from-the-past program. It's a problem that can affect all elements of the machine in the blink of an eye.

It has nothing to do with the Wii's power, or the fact that it's not a high-definition console in an age where pretty graphics are proclaimed to be just as important as gameplay. Performance is not an issue either, as most games run just as good as the original cart did back in the day.

You see, the real crutch in Nintendo's latest console is storage space, or lack thereof.

The Wii boasts 512 megabytes of storage onboard, which is enough to save your games and download a few classic titles. However, that minuscule amount of space quickly fills when dealing with bigger games such as hits from the Nintendo 64 era.

The recent release of WiiWare hasn't done much to help the situation, either. Many of these built-for-Wii downloadable games have fairly big file sizes. Your virtual fridge can be filled to the brim before you know it.

One way to free up space is to move Virtual Console games to an SD card, a device that is used for storage purposes in many cameras and cell phones. However, the games are unable to be played from the card, which defeats the purpose.

Nintendo will also allow you to re-download any game that you've purchased from the Wii store. This allows you to delete games that you may not play as much, but may want to revisit later.

Both of these rather inconvenient options work, but the truth of the matter is that the company simply needs to get with the times. Nintendo needs to allow hard drives in either internal or external form.

For a company that loves selling useless Pokemon-themed accessories and controllers, a 20-gigabyte Wii hard drive seems like a no-brainer.

I've read complaints all over the Internet from people refusing to download games because of the lack of space. This is lost revenue that Nintendo could gain by making the right decision. It would only help the company in the long run.

Sony and Microsoft both offer hard drives in their consoles, with the Playstation 3 supporting a number of USB devices.

That's not to say that the competition has software saving down to a science, but they are certainly in a better position than the big N.

In a generation defined by digital distribution, the amount of space available is crucial. In Nintendo's case, the Wii's current wee amount of storage is simply inexcusable.



Pimpin' ain't easy

Pimp My Ride" for Nintendo's Wii is an affront to pimps everywhere. And, unlike most "Grand Theft Auto Games" where real pimps and pros do stroll the streets, in "Pimp My Ride," I did not encounter a single prostitute.

A game with the word "pimp" in the title should include one of those.

Aside from the flagrant false advertising, "Pimp My Ride" is an interesting glimpse into MTV fantasy land, where the title "pimp" is bestowed more frequently than star stickers on a finger painting. Here "pimp" is something you say quickly over and over again until it loses all meaning.

The objective, as best I can decipher, is to drive around to various homes. These homes have rides, rides that need to be pimped. Sure, having a ride to and from work and school is nice, but you know what would make their cars even cooler? A PlayStation in the backseat.

There's just one catch — "Pimp My Ride" host Xzibit, in spite of working for MTV and being a famous rapper, has no money with which to pimp rides. A very cunning Xzibit devises a solution to his fiscal crisis. Players have to crash their rides into other cars they see on the street, because these cars drop money like little "Mario" coins.

You can also do special events for money like Ghost Ridin' the Whip.

To ghost ride you simply press A … then A again ... A ... and, um, … A …

Playing this game makes me question why I started pimpin' in the first place.

Should I even rate this game? Or better yet, how 'bout I pimp this game?

I give it one button out of five; and it's lucky it gets that.

'Gotham Knight'

For people too impatient to wait for The Dark Knight movie (me), there's a new DVD that will help you pass the days. It's called Gotham Knight, and it's set between the events of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

The movie reunites the character of Batman with voice actor Kevin Conroy from Batman the Animated Series. It's actually six short anime films with different writers and different directors. Think The Animatrix, but with Batman.

The movie really fleshes out what makes Batman such a great hero. In one film, Batman rejects an invisible shield that deflects bullets because the bullets can ricochet and hit other people, including the criminals he's trying to put behind bars.

"I'm willing to put my life on the line to do what I have to," Batman says, "But it has to be mine, no one else's."

A couple of reviewers knocked the stories for being flimsy and derivative but, eh. This is more of a character-design study with lots of blood. It was money well-spent, in my opinion.

Gadrock Gamers tournament

Gadsden-based Gadrock Gamers will host a Halo 3 tournament on Saturday, July 19, at 6:30 p.m. at the Party Playstation in Oxford.

It is two-player teams versus other two-player teams and uses Major League Gaming professional rules.

Registration is $20 per team. Prizes include 1 Year Subscriptions & 1 Month Subscriptions to XBOX Live Gold, Cash & Replays Gameware Gift Certificates.

I've been to one of their events in Gadsden, and these guys are really dedicated to bringing gamers together. I'm not a big Halo fan, but I wouldn't mind dropping by and seeing what's going on.

For more information, visit www.myspace.com/gadrockgamers.



Pushing Buttons: Review of 'Ninja Gaiden 2'
By Chris Pittman
Special to The Star
06-26-2008

If large amounts of blood or severed limbs make your stomach churn, "Ninja Gaiden 2" for the Xbox 360 is probably not the right game to add to your collection. This newest thriller featuring Ryu Hayabusa is one of the more violent video games on the console, but it's also one of the best.

The game is the sequel to the popular "Ninja Gaiden" for the original Xbox, which was based on the hit trilogy from the original Nintendo Entertainment System days. Tecmo's latest title provides the fantastic gameplay of its predecessor, while adding enough original content to keep things fresh.

There are more than a dozen weapons to collect and use as you progress through the game, including melee weapons such as the Lunar Staff and projectile tools such as the shuriken. Weapons can be upgraded at the shop of Muramasa, a merchant who also sells items to aid you on the journey ahead.

Along with weapons, Ryu also has deadly magical powers at his disposal. These special moves, dubbed Ninpo attacks, require at least one flame to be present on your Ki gauge. You continue to learn new Ninpo attacks as you progress, many of which are crucial to survival later on in the game.

There are also a number of techniques that you learn while playing that make fighting much easier. The corpses of the fallen can be examined for scrolls that teach you new moves. The most powerful of the advanced actions is called the Ultimate technique, which allows Ryu to perform his weapons' most devastating maneuvers.

Visually, "Gaiden" is beautiful from start to finish, but there are some small frame rate issues. The game chugs a bit during instances with armies of enemies on screen, but this only happens a few times during the entire playthrough. Overall, "Gaiden" is very easy on the eyes.

Playing the game, on the other hand, is not that easy.

The "Ninja Gaiden" series is notorious for providing a difficult experience, and this version is no different.

Two difficulty options are initially available with two more to unlock as you progress. The game provides a challenge on any level and can prove to be quite frustrating at times. Later levels feature fights with upwards of two dozen enemies at once. You'll probably want to throw the controller a time or two as they trap Ryu in a corner and pummel him to death. This is usually a result of the game's biggest enemy of all: The camera.

The field-of-view while maneuvering through levels is pretty spot on, but can become disastrous during combat. The camera will go crazy in small rooms and tight spaces, which can make a fight with one or two enemies harder than normal. Fortunately, many of the game's more epic fights take place in a big environment, making this more of an annoyance than a problem.

All in all, "Ninja Gaiden 2" is hack-and-slash greatness, and one of the Xbox 360's premier titles. The game is fairly linear, but manages to provide a constant flow of action that has been missing from big titles this generation.

The difficulty and jumpy camera can hinder the experience a bit, but prove to be rather minor once adjustments are made. It gets 4 1/2 buttons out of 5.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Nintendo's E-3 goodness

Just some highlights from what I read over on IGN:

1) Animal Crossing will come out at the end of the year. I know, I know, it's hardly what hardcore gamers adore, but the Gamecube and DS iterations were a lot of fun, and it's a game my mom and I have bonded over, my mom and her sister have bonded over, and me and my friend Sammy have bonded over. I've been waiting forever for the Wii version, and it looks to be truly massive, with chat capabilities and excellent online play.

2) They're making a Wii-exclusive version of Grand Theft Auto. Really, this makes my day. Screw missions, online play, advancement ... all I'm gonna do is blow up Hummers, cops, semis and whatever else crosses my path. If Nintendo is able to make it anywhere near as easy to pick up as Metroid Prime: Corruption was, this will have the potential to be more fun than any game on the system.

3) Not officially E-3 related, but the newest trailers for da Blob have me very excited. I'll be picking that up the second it comes out and tearing through it. As I've said before, I'm a sucker for non-traditional adventure/platformers with more cartoonish art styles (though I despised Zelda: Windwaker). This one has been getting excellent reviews and really, who doesn't want the chance to make a huge mess and not have to clean it up?

As for the rest of Wii's announcements, they talked about a new Wii Sports (with a beach/resort theme), Wii music (I'll pass) and Wii Snowboarding (I'll really pass). It would seem Nintendo's theory of reaching out to all is working beautifully, and I have no complaints.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Been a long time...shouldn't have left you...without a dope beat to step to...step to, step to


Okay, sorry for the long inactivity. I have been taking a bit of a vacation, since there aren't really any video game releases I'm stoked about.

But just to give you a heads up: if you're going to see The Dark Knight in Anniston (or anywhere else, presumably) get your tickets for the Thursday midnight showing now! At the theater in Oxford they've reportedly sold over 100.

This is a big, big event.

But while you're there getting your tickets, you should see Hellboy and The Golden Army. I just finished watching it myself and man is it good. Not great, but very, very good. Not a waste of my money.

More soon...expect column updates in a couple of days.

Peace

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Okami finished ... and man is it good

After some 40 + hours of gameplay, I finally beat Okami and saved the world of Nippon a few nights ago. And lemme tell you, it was epic. Yes, this game is clearly long, but it rarely played that way. And if you're not borderline obsessive-compulsive while playing video games (and I am, because I want everything unlocked) you can probably knock it out in about 30-35 hours.
But no matter your approach it will be worth it. The story of this game is amazing, hitting a huge range of emotions and even getting some possible wetworks out of the player. It also has a fantastic sense of humor, showing that, yes, silent protagonists can have personalities and their in-game guide need not drive you insane. In this way the game shines above anything in the Zelda and/or Mario series and deserves the franchise treatment.
The combat gets slightly repetitive, as most enemies fall into one of about 10 categories. The boss fights, however, play very differently and pose quite a challenge ... of a sort.
While the bosses are pretty tough to eliminate with the most extreme of prejudices, and though they can smack you around a good bit, they're probably going to have a hard time really threatening your existence. There's so much health you can store/build up in Okami that, once you put in about five hours your life will probably never be threatened. I know that allowed me to basically ugly up every boss fight and go in swinging, knowing I'd outlast the rotten jerks trying to muck up Nippon.
Of course, this does sort of make sense. You're playing as a sun goddess in the body of a wolf, so you should be a paragon of destruction for the forces of good. That you do eventually reach this stage for more than five minutes is a plus.
Several reviews have criticized the game as easy, but its puzzles and boss fights are tougher than anything I've played this year. No, it doesn't have the difficulty a first-person shooter does, and the health abundence takes some thrill off, but several puzzles are diabolical, and finding all the extras is a huge, huge chore.
With the game complete, I'm giving it an actual five buttons out of five. It's the best game I've played this year and manages to knock Metroid Prime: Corruption from the top spot as my favorite Wii game ever.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Some LULZ for today - Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2 character design?

A friend of mine posted this in her blog today...a sampling of the character design in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2, with added commentary by an unknown source :)

You'll have to click the image to see bigger and be able to read the notes.



DELICIOUS PIZZA! xD

Seriously, I pity the cosplayer who dares even THINKING of attempting that outfit. Ew. Final Fantasy character designers, wtf?

'When world's colide

A McCain ad features "Medal of Honor" music.

Joystiq.com- A recent ad for John McCain's presidential campaign features music from Medal of Honor: European Assault, which GamePolitics believes may be the first time video game music has been used as such. The awkward thing here is that the composer of the piece, Christopher Lennertz, is a passionate Barack Obama supporter who is "dismayed" by the use of his composition in the ad.

Lennertz doesn't own the rights to the piece, but he did release a statement saying that he wishes he'd been consulted before his music was used to promote a campaign that he does not agree with.


In unrelated news, my PS3 is alive and well and will come back to me soon. Hooray!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

New Call of Duty Announced




Earlier this week Activision the publisher of Guitar Hero and the Call of Duty series, made an announcement that wasn't a big surprises to a lot of people. Activision announced that they were in the works of publishing a new Call of duty game entitled Call of Duty: World at War. The other information that was provided at the announcement had a lot of people starting to wonder if this new Call of Duty game will actually be a step backwards rather than a step forwards.

The game will be traveling back to its roots to World War II and not the whole modern theme that was used in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Activison has confirmed two campaigns so far; there will be an American campaign which will take place in the Battle of the Pacific and a Soviet campaign which will take place in Europe in the invasion of Germany. The game is being developed by Treyarch and not Infinity Ward who were the developers of Call of Duty 4. If you are not familiar with Treyarchs work they're the developers of Call of Duty 2: Big Red One, Call of Duty 3 and Spider-Man 3. Most of the games that Treyarch have developed in the past have just been mediocre games that offered nothing new or original and this is why a lot of people have gotten a little sceptical that this game will live up to Call of Duty 4.

Even though a lot of people are disappointed with the information that was given at the announcement a lot of information was also given that might make this game actually good. The game has been in development for two years and it will feature Single player co-op, two player split screen and four player online co-op. The developers are also taking a look at the darker corners of WWII with torture scenes and a much more mature subject matter. Tyeyarch have also taken some ideas from Infinity Ward in this latest installment in the Call of Duty series; like the ability to have perks like in Call of Duty 4.
Well really only time will tell if this game lives up to Call of Duty 4 or if it will just be another average shooter.

Today's column

A Word About My PS3

My PlayStation 3 died this weekend. I was playing "Call of Duty 4" when the sound suddenly cut out. Attempts to play subsequent games resulted in frozen screens and lengthy, laggy pauses.

"Oh crap," I thought.

Could this be Sony's "Red Ring of Death," which felled many an Xbox 360?

So many gaming consoles cut down in their prime.

Of course, the solution to all this would be whipping out my warranty and saying to Sony, "Fix this, fools." That is, if I had my receipt backing up my warranty, which I didn't — long story.

I faced paying upward of $150 to ship the PS3 to Sony for something they screwed up in the first place. I really need that to buy a new pair of pants or perhaps a tank of gas, crust of bread, a chunk of cheese, etc. Thanks to our wonderful new economy, I feel like a character in a Dickens novel. I think I heard some of the skater kids speaking cockney the other day.

After checking around, I learned I could contact the store that sold my specific console and they could look up my receipt from my PS3 serial number. I don't have much love for Gamestop after its sister company, EB Games, royally screwed me over by selling me "free" magazine subscriptions with my game purchase. But they shined in this situation. They found my receipt and helped me convince the Sony PS3 people to send me a coffin for my dead console.

Sony PS3 customer service employs the most useless, argumentative bunch of dimwits I've ever spoken to in my entire life. I'm getting an error code and reading it back to the woman on the other end and she says, "I don't know what that means." YOU WORK AT SONY'S PS3 HOTLINE.

"I don't have a crystal ball," she added.

Well, I do have a crystal ball, and it's called Google. And I'll just be damned if I didn't get a dozen pages explaining that my Sony BluRay disc-reader basically decided to give me the middle finger.

Why couldn't someone at Sony explain that to me? Even a fourth-grader knows how to restore the PS3's default-settings at this point. One day we will all have cars that fly, and the person at Sony's PS3 hotline still won't know what my error code means.

Why do I put up with Sony's shenanigans? It's because one day, in spite of its suicidal business strategy and this god-awful economy, we will all own high-definition TV sets, and Sony's PS3 will be the best deal going. And because the animated film Batman: Gotham Knight will come out on BluRay soon.

So I think we all learned something here today. Capitalism works, but only when you make it work for you. Don't let bad customer service, biblical hold times and fine print keep you from making Sony or any company pay what they owe. And enjoy that next tank of regular unleaded while you're standing at the pump in your brand new Levi's.

Ok, maybe not the Levi's. Yet.

Coming next week

While my PS3 is kaput, I've found a new game for the Wii. "Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life As a King" is a tactical role-playing game where players rebuild a kingdom using magic. King Leo, a mere boy, is not allowed to leave his castle but controls everything within it.

It's available as a $15 Wii ware download. There's also a lot of additional content you can download as well. I haven't played it enough for a full-fledged review yet, but so far, so good.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

More Gadrock goodness

I'm putting Sony on blast Thursday for their poor handling of the PS3 situation. Pittman also has some Wii and Xbox 360 related columns in the works as well....

Here's the latest news from our friends at Gadrock Gamers....

That's correct sirs! HUGE NEWS!!

Gadrock Gamers and Replays Gameware are proud to announce we'll be setting up a FREE Wii Sports: Tennis Tournament at Gadsden's Riverfest 2008!

Radio station Z93.1, Absolute Fitness of Gadsden and Replays will be sponsoring a Wii Sports: Tennis Tournament, Saturday afternoon at Riverfest at the Z93.1 Tent.

So here are the details:

You will have to purchase a pass for Riverfest (or win them somehow etc.) to enter the tournament, which works out great if you're already going to be there! Other than that, there is no entry fee, totally free!

The format will be classic arcade style, ala, you keep playing until you lose and we tally up how many people you beat, and whoever has the most consecutive wins, wins!

The matches will be 1 player vs. 1 player, one game per match.

There will probably be prizes for runner ups...but for sure, the grand prize winner will walk away with the Nintendo Wii that we'll be using that day.

The Wii has been sponsored by Z93.1 and Absolute Fitness, and was purchased from Replays Gameware.

Keep you eyes peeled for the exact contest times and more info.

But this will take place before bands perform on Saturday afternoon!

Monday, June 9, 2008

New 3G iPhone

So Apple has announced it's new 3G iPhone. They go on sale July 11th.

I've been waiting for this! Finally we'll be able to use faster internet speeds...like Japan!

And the 8GB model is being priced at $199, a bit kinder to the pocketbook than the first model.

Dan's contract is up in January, so I can't get one of these babies yet, but maybe they will add more goodies to it by then. :)

I have a plan

Following up on my PS3 woes...thanks for all the help and advice. Unfortunately, I don't think its a lens cleanliness issue. I wish it were, but it probably is not.

The reason I think this is because the disk does not make much of an audible spinning noise when its inserted. This leads me to believe that its probably a bad reader, something to do with the hardware itself, rather than a clean lens. I blew duster on it, no luck- I'm afraid to try the disc cleaner because I'm afraid if I do it will scratch the lens and void my warranty.

About that warranty- I've managed to get more info from my friend about where and when his brother bought it. My hope is they will either have a receipt or opt to print me one....that's the idea, at any rate. I hope they are more helpful than the useless bunch of human drones at the PS3 service line. Good God almighty! If you have any trouble shooting to do with the PS3 go to their Web site- and if you absolutely must call PS3 service, ask for a manager right of the gate. Their floor employees are rude, argumentative and have no useful wisdom to impart.

Ok, calling the game store at 11 a.m. Wish me luck.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Played the Battlefield: Bad Company Demo

Well I downloaded the Battlefield: Bad Company Demo and I have to say it was pretty fun. I started out by playing the Single-player portion of the game and didn't expect much but after a couple of minutes of cinematics the game starts and you jump into a vehicle right away. The single player covers a lot in such a shot amount of time; every second of the game you are either shooting,driving or being shot at. The single player was actually great with amazing sound effects,graphics and destructible environments this game looks like the single player should be fairly solid.

After the single player I jumped into multiplayer which from what I have played is definably where this game stands out.
The game can host 24 players in one online match and there was one map and one game type in the demo. The map is called Oasis and it's a desert map with a river, mountains and a small village. The gametype was called Gold Rush and what Gold Rush is that there are two teams one team are Attackers and the other team are Defenders. The Attackers job is to destroy 2 crates filled with Gold to capture that base and expand the map. The Defenders job are to stop the Attackers from doing this and killing off all the Attackers which will drop down the Attackers reinforcements.EA has confirmed that conquest mode will be available as a free update after the game ships out on June 23. The Online play has Tanks,Jeeps,Boats,Helicopters and Turrets which turns the battle into complete mayhem and a struggle for victory.



So far this game looks promising and will definitely offer a great online play that will have a amazing replay value. In the demo there were some problems with the game which consisted of lag at times, texture taring, sound, mic/headset,squad/partying problems and freezing but this is only a demo and lets hope they fix these problems before the full game ships out. Hope to see all of you on the Battlefield.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Doh

My PlayStation 3 is apparently broke. I was playing COD4 with Creg earlier when the sound went out. Pretty soon after, the game locked up.

I am trying to figure out if there's any way this is covered under my warranty. I'd need a receipt, which is bad because I bought it from a friend who had a brother buy it for him. The service charge is around $150.

Suckitude, is the appropriate word here, I believe.

Apparently other people's PS3s have done this to them?

New Wii ware game is pretty cool

"Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King" is what "My Sims" for the Wii could've been with a little more thought and effort. Not an RPG per se, the game revolves around the boy King Leo who is restoring a mighty kingdom using magic. Utilizing the finest adventurers and your good ol' noggin, Leo can keep his citizens happy. But its no simple game; it develops in complexity quickly.

The game is a real sweet deal at $15 and has lots of other add-on downloadable content. I hope the rest of the Wii ware stuff is this good.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A perfect 'Fit' for Wii

In the past, Nintendo has had you raise virtual puppies, stomp on evil Goombas and save the world from Mother Brain.

Now they want to get you in shape.

Wii Fit is the newest off-the-wall title in Nintendo's repertoire. The game features more than 40 exercises to help you burn fat, build muscle and gain perfect posture.

The Wii Balance Board is the real star of the show. The innovative peripheral is included with every copy of Wii Fit and is used with nearly every activity in the game. You simply sync the Balance Board to the Wii console before you play for the first time, and you'll be ready to work out in no time.

The game provides a nice introductory tutorial that explains how to use the device. You are also asked to pick a Mii — a user created avatar — to help represent the virtual journey that lies ahead.

The first thing on the docket is finding out your BMI (body mass index), which is determined by stepping on the Wii Balance Board after submitting your height and date of birth. Next is a series of exams that judge how well you can shift body weight under a strict time limit. The results determine a "Wii Fit Age," a number that most people will strive to lower by playing the game. You are able to set a limit on how much weight to lose over a certain amount of time. A calendar is provided to see the progress that you will need to make in order to reach the goal.

There are only a few exercises to choose from initially, but many more games unlock as playing time increases. A metallic piggy bank dubbed the "Fit Bank" keeps track of how much time you spend and rewards you accordingly.

Yoga provides stretches that are combined with deep breathing exercises to clear the mind and the soul. The gamer mimics the actions of an onscreen yoga instructor, holding each pose for several seconds while trying to maintain balance. One of the tougher poses is the shoulder stand, which hurts about as much as it sounds.

Strength training helps to build muscles all over the body. You can choose to do push-ups, side planks and even the dreaded jackknife (lying flat on the floor and bringing your legs and arms to meet above your body). One big problem with exercises in this category is the amount of space that they can require. Gamers trying to bulk-up in a cramped space will quickly become frustrated.

The aerobic exercises are the most innovative experience of Wii Fit. You can work those hips while spinning hula-hoops around your waist or step in the ring for some rhythm boxing. You can also head outdoors to jog around a beautiful island. This is one activity that doesn't use the Wii Balance Board, and instead makes use of jogging in place with a Wii Remote in your pocket.

Balance games include hitting the slopes for some ski jumping and tightrope walking. One of the more popular games in the category involves heading soccer balls into a goal while avoiding the occasional shoe and panda bear head.

Nintendo's latest creation will not trump going to a gym, but it does provide an innovative way to get on the path to fitness. The Wii Balance Board is worth the price of admission alone due to the amount of games that will be compatible in the future. Wii Fit gets 4 buttons out of 5.

- Chris Pittman

Monday, June 2, 2008

What I'm doing right now

I'm reading every possible article I can find about The Dark Knight. The suspense is killing me.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Playstation 3 deal

Wal*Mart has a pretty good deal going on right now for the Playstation 3. The chain is including a free $100 gift card with every 40GB Playstation 3 purchase.



The ad above states that the included card is a "Blu-Ray" gift card, which will only work in purchasing movies of that format. However, there have been plenty reports of people using the card for non-movie related purchases, so chances are the card will work for anything you want to buy. Best Buy is matching the deal as well, and I would recommend going there over Wal*Mart. Anyways, this is a great way to get onboard the PS3 bandwagon. I'm seriously considering it myself.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Halo 3 on June 3

Gadrock Gamers, along with Replays Gameware will be hosting their third tournament at Applebee's on June 3rd, starting at 9 PM.

The competition will be a 2 vs. 2 Halo 3 tournament.

It will start at 9 PM, registration starts at 8:30. The cost per team is $10. You can enter as an individual for $5, but will be paired with whomever else enters alone.

System Link will be used with two televisions for each match, one team on one and one on the other.

We will be playing under Slayer, and first team to get 25 kills wins. It is single elimination and will be randomly bracketed. Each map will be agreed on by both teams before selection.

We ask that you bring your own controller, but it isn't required, it just really helps us out a bit.

Two matches are going to be going on at the same time, one on each side of the Applebee's bar, which will be amazing.

We are going to try something totally different, and will be better than ever before at Gadrock Gamers, and we're talking prizes!

We are turning it up a notch, and we want you to crank it up also!

Without further ado, here are your prizes...

1st Place Team:
One Free Month of XBOX Live Each
$15.00 Cash Each
$15.00 Gift Certficate to Replays Gameware Each
$15.00 Gift Card to Applebee's Each
And more!
Over $100 worth of prizes goto the winner and each day these prizes are growing!

2nd Place Team:
$10.00 Cash Each
$5.00 Gift Certficate to Replays Gameware Each
$5.00 Gift Card to Applebee's Each
And more!

By "And More!" we're talking shirts, hats, free food from Gadsden's great food spots.

3rd & 4th Place Teams will not be left out!

Everyone participating in the event will get coupons from Replays for a free disc repair and $2.00 off any purchase over $10.00!

This is the most we've ever put on the line for YOU to win. So come out and get it!

So remember, Tuesday, June 3rd, come to Applebee's for some fierce Halo 3 competition, come for the memories that await and the great prizes for those courageous enough to step it up!

Thank you,

Jason R. Coleman
Event Organizer

Gadrock Gamers, as always, thanks Replays Gameware and Applebee's of Gadsden!

Resident Evil 5 trailer

The new trailer for Resident Evil 5 was unveiled last night on GameTrailers TV. The clip lasts over two minutes and features a good amount of gameplay footage to get your juices flowing. I am absolutely stunned at the amount of characters on screen at once. It looks like Capcom has used some elements from Dead Rising, a game that featured a mall filled with zombies, to create the ultimate horror experience.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Marketing chaos

Guitar Hero has taken the world by storm and is definitely a high tier game franchise. The Nintendo DS version features a special keypad controller that mimics the guitar buttons of the console games. The handheld hellraiser also has innovative features that can only be done on the small screen. Activision has created a hilarious tutorial video to explain these goodies to the gamer. I've included the video below.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dr. Mario Online RX

Nintendo released WiiWare to the North American market last Monday. The service, much like Microsoft's "Xbox Live Arcade" and Sony's "Playstation Network," is made to support downloadable titles from both small and large companies. One of the first titles to hit WiiWare was Dr. Mario Online Rx, an upgrade to the famous pill puzzler of old.

I haven't been able to put much time into the game yet, but I am very impressed from what I've played so far. The game features the original Dr. Mario game, complete with the dancing virus monsters and catchy music. The Wii update is also the first time that Dr. Mario can be played online against other gamers from all over the world.

The biggest addition is "Virus Buster," a multiplayer cooperative mode that bends the rules of the standard game. In this mode, multiple pills will spawn at the top of the screen, and gamers need to work together to be successful. The Wii Remote allows for easy point-and-drag gameplay. I'm going to try and round up some buddies this weekend to see just how crazy this mode is with four people.

If you liked the original Dr. Mario on NES then this is well worth a purchase. For 1000 Wii Points ($10), you get the classic with online play, and the highly addictive Virus Buster mode.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day


A good holiday to all of you and many thanks to our soldiers serving abroad and at home. And of course the veterans. The freedom is much appreciated.

Special shout out to my dad, who served in the U.S. Navy.

I got sucked into this really cool article about worldwide Wi-fi.

International Herald Tribune- At the moment, there are just 830,000 registered Foneros around the world, and only 340,000 active Wi-Fi hotspots run FON software. Because it's built upon the concept of sharing Wi-Fi access, FON works well only if there are Foneros everywhere.

And as he struggles to expand the FON network, Varsavsky faces particular hurdles now that the Internet's commercial side has reached a crossroads. Born a few decades ago as an anarchic, digital version of a barn-raising, the wireless Internet is now a battleground between two giant technology consortiums seeking to rein in the Web's chaotic openness in favor of creating uniform, global access built upon wireless data networks.

The two camps, known as WiMax and LTE, for "long-term evolution," are both top-down, highly structured approaches that will cost billions of dollars to build and may close a door on some of the architectural openness that led to the rapid growth of the Internet.

But their potential advantage is that closed standards can encourage the kind of growth that offers more access to mainstream consumers and business users, as occurred when Microsoft imposed a measure of conformity on software development.

For his part, Varsavsky hopes that FON can offer a middle ground — deploying the original, bottom-up strengths of the early Internet movement and at the same time wedding them to a more formal, corporate approach to expansion.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The upcoming week

Just to bring all five of my regular readers up to speed- I'll be going down to Montgomery for at least next week, and perhaps longer. Our Montgomery reporter has moved on to another job and the Alabama Legislature has to pass the state education budget. So I'll be down there keeping an eye on things for our local K-12 schools and our local university, Jacksonville State University.

I'll likely spend the first few days getting my bearings and taking a crash course in Montgomery-speak. So I won't be posting much. Thankfully, Dietrich, Pittman and my wife Katrina have agreed to pitch in. (Travis, I haven't spoken with you yet, but if you want to help, too, it will be appreciated.)

Pittman is working on a Wii Fit column that will run next Thursday. We're doing a special section of some sort this Thursday and, rather than move the column around the paper and confusing the crap out of everyone, I decided to just hold off a week. The column is really an extension of the blog, as I see it, so no big deal there.

All right? All right. I look forward to getting back in the loop soon.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sorry I was late

Here's this week's column from Mr. Dietrich.

'Okami' holds its own
By John Dietrich
Sports Copy Editor
05-22-2008

Wherever the line is between making an homage to a piece of art and ripping it off, "Okami" stands just enough to the homage side for the game to stand on its own.

"Okami" is so similar to games from the Legend of Zelda series, you could swap out its main character for Link and never notice the difference. In all honesty, I wish they could magically use "Okami" to replace "Legend of Zelda: Windwaker."

"Okami" has sprawling worlds, a gorgeous artistic style, puzzles just infuriating enough to challenge you — and keep you coming back — and one feature that was so tailor-made for the Wii, it's a wonder the game didn't originate on the system.

The Celestial Brush technique enables you to paint effects onto the world. Because you play as the sun goddess Amaterasu, and because the game's artistic style is that of East Asian Ink and Wash painting, this makes sense. If it's dark and you need light, just paint in the sun. If there's some exploding that needs to be done, draw a bomb. The symbols used are simple, and time stops while you paint, but you've got to have a level of precision, or nothing will happen.

The catch-all tool is limited to just 13 techniques, so you can't draw a giant meteor, or summon dinosaurs or other items that would simply crush your opposition. Instead, it becomes your greatest tool, and you have to be innovative with it to solve the multitude of puzzles and vague hints you'll get.

The difficulty of the game is just low enough that you won't fling your controller at the TV, but just barely. Fighting and performing actions are laughably easy (but I'm only about 10 percent into the game), but it's the puzzle aspect that drives me nuts. You must pay close attention to the "hints" you receive, because it's easy to misinterpret what you're supposed to do.

This isn't aided by the lack of instruction the game gives you. Simple things — such as telling you how the health meter works, or warning you that although you're playing as a goddess-turned-wolf, I still can't swim for more than five seconds — are rarely explained clearly. You've got a lot of learning to do, and because the game relies on symbols instead of words, there will be frustrating moments.

Rest assured that you'll figure the mechanics out before the game erases you.

The rest of the technical aspects are solid, with music that blends in and lends an appropriate feel to the situation, tight control and a very fluid camera system that never jams up and rarely picks a terrible position.

The only real technical aspect that might be poorly received is the graphic presentation. The game's very distinct style does not lend itself to crisp, clean, super-high-pixel-count-oh-my-word-I-can-see-every-strand-of-fur graphics. You'll rarely be confused as to what's what, and if so, it won't be for long. I find the Asian-influenced style to be quite a lot of fun to look at, but I also don't own an HD television because I don't see the point. Give me a DVR and $2,000 worth of movies, TV shows on DVD or video games any day of the week.

So pick up "Okami" and play it on whatever you've got. I'm giving it 4.25 buttons out of 5.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"

Or, as I like to call it, "Thank God This Movie Didn't Ruin the Series Forever." Which it didn't. But it was one of those movies that seems really formulaic- until you realize that the people who made the movie invented the formula.

Gadrock Looking for XBoxes

Got any spare 360s?




COD 4 Related! We need your help!

Hey everyone!

GG needs some help to have the best COD 4 experience possible on Friday night.

I totally noobed it up when I was scheduling COD 4 2v2 for this Friday.

I had NO idea that System Link would mean, that we would need 4 TV's and 4 Xboxs to have just ONE 2v2 match.

That sucks!

So heres what we need from you guys....

We need a total of 8 XBOX 360s, 8 Controllers, 8 COD 4 Games.

A quick walkthrough of how to hook up system link between 4 XBOX's

I think we're good on a hub and ethernet cables though.



Anyone who can bring their own XBOX 360, let me know!

We currently have 3 XBOX's and 3 COD 4 Games and 3 Controllers or more.

If we can muster up another 5 Xbox's, Friday will be easier for everyone and way more fun!

So let me know ASAP, call me if you want to at 438-7955 or PM me on here.

If we don't get 8 XBOX's, this will make the tournament drag until next year, and we dont' want that, we want to keep games going, keep the adrenaline pumping and more!

Oh if you contribute with your xbox, you'll be handsomely rewarded (sorta.)

Thanks,

Jason


Contact Jason through the Gadrock my space blog.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Rotten tomatoes critics give Indy 4 positive reviews


Well I'll be damned. The fruit huckers over at Rotten Tomatoes have given the latest Indiana Jones movie positive reviews. I think that's a good thing, since the trailers left me feeling wary of this movie's potential.

So, hooray.

Gadrock hosting tourney tonight

May 19, 2008 - Monday


Indeed!

Starting at 9 PM, Gadrock Gamers will be hosting their first event at the Applebee's of Gadsden, located on Rainbow Drive.

We will be having Guitar Hero III (Medium & Expert) Tournaments.

It only costs five bucks to enter and the prizes are stout!

1st place gets $25 Applebee's Gift Certificate, $7.50 Replay's Gift Certificate and 10% Cash from Entry Fees!

Prizes also for 2nd and 3rd include: Gift Certificates from Applebee's, Collector's Paradise (comic shop) and more!!

It will be a blast and enjoy half priced appetizers after 9 PM, buy a soda and get free refills or drink a beer, responsibly!

Format: Single Elimination, Best 2/3 Songs (Judges pick tiebreaker songs)

Be there! Lets keep having GG at Applebee's, but we need your support!

Next Week: NBA Live 08 on XBOX 360!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Setting up your own media servers

I just realized how useful having a PS3 hooked up to a High Def T.V. could be. I am now in the enviable position of being able to play media files on my computer using my PS3. This isn't that tricky to set up- mostly just time consuming because there are a variety of programs out there to manage your files. Katrina had no problems setting up hers on the Mac using a free trial of Twonky- but she had to help me figure out how to set mine up.

I used Windows Media Player 11 but it won't display my songs for some reason- perhaps because I have too many in one folder.

But here's a basic run down of the process that I snagged from a Web site.

Using Windows Media Player 11 as the server

Open Windows Media Player 11
From the toolbar, select Library then Media Sharing
Check "Share my media"
On the PS3 - Under Video, Photos or Music, select "Scan for media server"
Go back to the PC, and you should see a pop up showing an unknown device trying to connect.
Allow the device, and everything should work.

Using Simplecenter as the server

Download Simplecenter from http://www.simplecenter.com/
Install - If you only want the basic version, just click next when it asks you to create an account.
Select your shared media folders and let it scan.
Click next one last time.
Check your PS3 and your media server should now be visible.

Other Windows Notes

I've heard that many people are using Nero MediaHome and consider it to be the most feature-rich server

Mac

We recently tried setting up my roommate's macbook as a media server using two different products: Allegro Media Server and TwonkyMedia. We had numerous problems with both, including configuration issues, lack of functionality and just general buginess. I've been told that Elgato Eyeconnect works well, but will confirm as soon as I have time.




This is fascinating to me- once they start making cheaper white boards you can project anywhere, I'll be set. (And yes, I know about the Wii mote thing...but I mean something smaller and designed for the purpose of being a portable projector.)

EA Offers Take-Two Buy Out...Again


Today Electronic Arts (Publisher of Battlefield and The Sims) has extended its deadline for the buy out of Take-Two (Publisher of Grand Theft Auto, BioShock) for the third time around. EA is offering $25.74 a share for the second time; On April 18, EA pushed its dead line to May 16 but dropped its share price from $26 a share. The reason why EA extended the offer was for the Federal Trade Commission can complete its investigation into the deal. Take-Two was swift to tell its Stock Holders not to sell their shares. Strauss Zelnick Chairman of Take- Two said
We said we were willing to begin formal discussions with interested parties on April 30, following the launch of Grand Theft Auto IV, and we have in fact begun that process."
Strauss Zelnick also stated that EA wasn't the only company looking at buying out Take Two.

EA as of May 16 owns 6,210,261 of Take-Two's shares which is around 8% of the total amount. But Since the Launch of Grand Theft Auto IV Take-Two's shares have raised to $27.10 on Friday at closing which is more then what EA is offering per share.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

This week's column

In no particular order

Every once and awhile, I forego the straightforward gaming column and let my random thoughts assemble. Their assembly is not unlike the Avengers, assembling, except none of my thoughts have superpowers or look as good as the Black Widow.

And speaking of the Avengers did any of you stick around at the end of the Iron Man movie credits and see the secret scene? If you didn't, you might consider seeing the movie again ...

Dietrich finishes "Bully"

Contributor John Dietrich, no stranger to childhood bullying, finished playing "Bully Scholarship Edition" for the Wii.

"Nothing I encountered lessened the game's appeal. You still never get weekends, but once you pass all your classes, every day is basically a weekend, because you don't need to be in school. That's when the game's open-world environment really begins to shine.

"My only complaint is that Gary, who's such a force in the first chapter and was an amazing teenage villain, disappears until the grand finale. I wish the writers had kept him around more consistently, because I love hating the jerk and he's a formidable challenge. Also, as always with any great game, it's a little on the short side.

"The missions do get more challenging, but the game was still unable to really get me frustrated at any point. That's a result of me being a good student in the beginning and dominating the classes, thus unlocking major bonuses. If you want to really, really make this game a challenge, skip the art, physical education, chemistry and geography classes.

"The game is definitely endless fun, mostly because you can continually torment whomever you want. Once you beat it, you unlock 'Endless Summer,' which is basically a mission-less chapter with no end where you can cause as much mayhem as you want and finish up any and all loose ends. I appreciate this, because too many games give you a ton of cool powers, but once you get them, you only get 10-15 minutes worth of game play out of them. With 'Endless Summer' you get as much as you want."

Fatality from cute

"Ultimate Mortal Kombat" wouldn't have been possible on the DS unless Nintendo could shove a puzzle game in there. Puzzle Kombat is cute for the first minute or so, but then you realize you're playing a game called "Puzzle Kombat" with a bobble-headed Scorpion. Nintendo could find a way to make "Grand Theft Auto" nauseatingly cute if Rock Star would let 'em.

Phony Outrage Alert

"Grand Theft Auto IV" was barely out a month before it became the target of phony outrage by a Fox affiliate in Chicago. A Fox report about the questionable taste of such an ad in light of the city's crime problem got the game's ads pulled from the side of Chicago buses.

I guess I could buy the story if the ads depicted any acts of violence. But it's a few head shots of "GTA IV" characters. "GTA" publisher Take Two sued the Chicago Transit Authority for backing out of their advertising agreement. Good for them.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Yes, I'm still playing WoW ...

It's been a while since I posted but yes, indeed, I have still been making the long trek to level 70 in World of Warcraft (because I'm the slowest leveler in the world). I'm currently sitting about 5 bubbles away from hitting the cap. This is how goofy I look (click for bigger):



Witch hat?!? Do huh? Anyway, Blizzard sure designed some ugly gear for Outlands.

I should hit 70 in the next couple of days, then I can start the NEXT long trek of getting outfitted with decent gear (that doesn't make me look like a circus freak).
And of course, once I have decent gear, I can participate in all the end-game goodies, hurrah!

That is until the new expansion pack comes out, which I hear is sooner than we think?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Okami review coming

I just picked it up yesterday, so I'll get to playing it tonight and tomorrow and post some impressions. For the record, any non-FPS game that gets fantastic reviews for the Wii is probably something I'll pick up. That's just how easy I am.
And when I get done with Dan, no one's gonna think Batman could take Iron Man. No one.

I predict

Indiana Jones 4 (also known as Indiana Jones and the Quest for Relevance) will suck so bad it will throw an entire generation into a deep dark depression.

Then they can make Indiana Jones 5: Indiana Jones and the Quest for Prozac.

I hope George Lucas and Steven Spielberg prove me wrong.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Looks like someone beat us to Iron Man v. Batman

They didn't go as in-depth as we will, but dang.