Archives for December 2004

The Christmas Lewt Haul

Once again, the jolly old elf found his way to deliver the goods once again. He had my assistance, he can’t be totally trusted. I helped out by picking up the ViewSonic N5 Video Processor (I mentioned I was getting the N4 but ended up going with the N5. More on that below), Burnout 3: Takedown, and Viewtiful Joe 2. He merrily brought me Metroid Prime 2 and Mario Tennis. On the non-gaming side, he brought me The Christmas Story 20th Anniversary Edition DVD (Daddy’s gonna kill Ralphie!), the Extended Lord of the Rings Trilogy (my precious), and Aladdin (it’s for the kid). I also think he’s got Need For Speed Underground 2 on back order, it should arrive later this week.

So far, I’ve played some Burnout 3 (Game of the Year Contender) and Metroid Prime 2 (ditto). I’ve played about an hour into Metroid Prime 2 and Retro Studios has done it again. Amid the din of the “it’s same old game, not that that’s necessarily bad” there is an extremely detailed, smooth, wonderfully crafted gem of a game. It takes a lot to peel me away from Halo 2 on Live and Metroid Prime 2 is doing just that. That in-and-of-itself speaks volumes. I haven’t even taken VJ2 and MT out of the plastic yet. My gaming queue is growing out of control.

I sadly must admit that I think I’ll be sending the N5 back to Dell. I had hoped it would be the cure to what ails me – the lack of another TV. With the ButtonWife watching TV on the Sony 27″ WEGA, I don’t get as much game time as I’d like. So I thought the N5 would be an alternative. Unfortunately, my ViewSonic A90 wasn’t meant to be a television after all. It’s a shame it didn’t work out. I never tried the actual TV reception, I only attached my SNES and Gamecube consoles to it. They looked okay but a tad too pixelated for me. I’ll take my chances with TV time for now. I’m on the look-out for a nice, 20″-24″ TV to complete my setup downstairs. But Halo 2 still rocks the house on the Sony.

Happy Holidays

Well, after a foot of snow has been dumped on central Ohio, we’re on our way home for the holidays. Just wanted to wish all the Button Mashers a Merry Christmas!

Week in review (Part 5)

A day late on the review of the past week, but here it is, nonetheless.

A lot has been said about the Video Game Awards on Spike TV, you can read my live comments here and some of my comments about what others said here. I will sum up my thoughts on the VGAs with a haiku:

Spike TV, so wrong
Video games are more than
Babes and Rap. Puhleeze.

I haven’t commented much lately on Electronic Arts, but things are starting to look scary. First they score an exclusive agreement with the NFL and the Players Association for the next 5 years. After that, they start buying Ubisoft stock. And now they’re going after DICE. Scary. There has been some severe backlash against EA. I can’t link everything, but you can look here, here, and here. Of course, the best comment is definitely this one. This isn’t good press for EA, already reeling from the EA Spouse (which is still going strong) revelations and their impending lawsuits. It must be hard making crappy football games and having the prospect of no one wanting them. Of course Midway, in true Midway-rip-out-a-spine fashion has given a big, fat middle finger to the NFL and EA and are going to make a mature, drug-ridden football game complete with babes and booze. Great.

To further thin the sports gamer herd, Microsoft has closed shop on their sports games division, too. I would wager a guess that 90% of the sports gaming public don’t really care. They want to be spoon fed EA titles year after year, and I think EA has done a huge disservice to sports gamers by charging full price on each seasons “updates”. They hook you with a new feature, a-la playmaker controls, or the match-up stick, or the juke-jive-and-wail or whatever to get you to buy, at full price, a moderately updated, mostly rehashed, version of last years game. If EA would price their sports games between thirty and forty bucks they would make even more piles of money than they already have (and don’t share).

I like reading AFK Gamer, I like reading the current goings-on over at World of Warcraft. I like reading because ever since I swore of MMOGs (Neocron being my last foray) I’ve been pining to return to the fold and WoW seems so appropriate for me since I love Blizzard games (I logged countless Diablo 2 hours). I still can’t do it, but when he posts funny stuff like this, it makes me want to go back.

Finally, before I wax eloquent on the Top Ten lists of 2004, here’s the Gaming Gaffes of 2004.

game-brains.com – home page

game-brains.com – I stumbled across this site last week, but forgot to mention it here. It’s a smart gaming blog (so very unlike this blog) with some great wit and good articles. There’s also a good Half Life 2 article by Adam Jacobson, who also does render, a gaming blog I frequent. Nice job!

Spike Video Games – The Gamers speak! (updated!)

Well, now that we’ve had a day to digest what transpired during the Spike TV VGAs, we can now look back and see what others thought. Seems that VGO and I weren’t the only ones who were underwhelmed by the whole shooting match.

New-to-me Grimwell Online took notes and commented. This is a great read, read the whole thing. A couple quotes:

Not that I’m complaining, yet. You see, I can’t really blame Spike. They have no idea how to do an awards show about video games so why not just skip it and play some music matched with titties and see who notices??? It’s Spike after all, it should be about titties.

He is an 80’s metal-head, so he was looking forward to seeing Motley Crue back in action but, after watching Snoop Dogg join in the song, didn’t think that was quite such a good idea. I’ll let you read his exact words on his site.

Snoop walks off, the song falls apart. The Crue has no idea where in the song they should be, so Mick wanders into a solo…. the song crashes and burns. I cry.

At NetJak, Rick “32_footsteps” also followed along, with the play-by-play blows. He wasn’t as mean to Spike TV as others but wasn’t kind, either. He gives us these gems

Host Brooke Burke promises to show previews of upcoming games. I wonder if they’ll just give out 2005’s awards now. After all, doesn’t this show rely purely on hype and flashy visuals over substance?

and

Was it better than last year’s show? Yes. But then again, trepanning without anesthesia was better than last year’s show. This year’s show was dreck, but at least it wasn’t insulting my intelligence at all times. Just half of them. I just hope that I’m the only one who watched this – maybe in the future, Spike will leave such awards to people who actually know games, and not just people with conflicting allegiances.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t the only one watching.

Here, here, and here are a few forum threads discussing the awesomeness of the VGAs.

Of course there was the Video Game Ombudsman, who I followed during the show. He also chimed in with wit and biting sarcasm. But he sums up the way forward:

If we in the video game community — the press, the developers, the publishers, and the gamers — sit idly by and allow this type of show to speak for our industry, then we deserve whatever stereotypical bad-mouthing we get from the mainstream press and society at large.

Agreed.

Zonk on Slashdot has a great editorial as well, it’s worth a read:

I have enough problems in my day without having to explain to my family why a show honoring the entertainment I love is populated mostly by underdressed women in angel costumes. Once a year, wouldn’t it be nice to put the scruffy, anti-social gamer stereotype behind us? To sit down and watch some very intelligent people in tuxedos and gowns get their due for providing us so much entertainment? Seriously, wouldn’t it be great to see John Carmack present an award? Or get to listen to a Wil Wright acceptance speech? A gaming awards show taken seriously would be a sight to see. Even if that never happens, please — enough with the Spike-style awards shows.

Succint and to the point. Exactly the way I feel. My wife knows I love games. She even plays them with me. But when she sees things like “Cheat codes read by hot chicks” she gives me that “look”. I think she recognizes (and tolerates) the nature of the “stereo-typical” gamer demographic but even she can see through the Spike TV’s thinnly veiled attempts at pandering. But we can and should rise above this. I think these quotes and links prove that the award show in absolutely no way represented gamers as a whole. I hope enough of an outcry is made so changes can take place. The first step would be to prevent Spike TV from ever hosting a video game award show. That would be a step in the right direction.

Update (12/20/2004) – A couple other places on the ButtonMashing reading list have chimed in. The-inbetween had some choice words for Spike TV:

And to make it even more intolerable, the tape delay means that the Spike tight-asses are censoring about every other word that they say. My tv now sounds like a skipping CD.

Everyone (including myself) looks to Penny-Arcade for their comments and opinions on all things gaming, so I looked anxiously to see what they would say.

if your 2004 awards program does not include Metroid Prime 2 or World of Warcraft, it has no authority whatsoever to coronate the king of any genre. I’m not even saying that those games need to win. I’m simply stating that the games exist and are real, news which has not reached them out there on the ragged periphery of taste and intellect.

This is something I thought about but didn’t articulate. Even though I haven’t played Metroid Prime 2, the fact that they all but ignored Nintendo proves their insignificance and irrelevance.

Video Game Awards 2004

9:06 – Just logged on, fricking laptop took forever to boot up. Anyway, here we are, and watching the opening act made me go YAWN. Let’s get to the games.

9:10 – Hmm, Snoop doesn’t do it for me. Neither does his co-host. No bother, I’ll deal with it. Geez, the writing sucks already. No feeling, just going through the motions. Okay, first award for female in a game. So far, outside of NFSU, the games are lame. Brook Burke. No comment here (in case the ButtonWife reads this)

9:15 – I love those AOL “I want my computer to make the sound of a Yeti” commercials. They make me laugh.

9:17 – Hmmm, this is degenerating more and more to the lowest common denominator. But Bam just came on, I dig Magera. They’re announcing the “Viewers Choice” – I’ll go out on a limb and predict that they are stacking the deck so Katamari Damacy wins, to appear “hip” and in touch with gamers, but my vote is for Burnout 3.

9:22 – The first non-surprise, Halo 2 wins best FPS. The footage they used wasn’t very flattering compared to the other games. I love Ron Perlman and I know he was involved in Halo 2, but let the guys from Bungie talk.

9:30 – OOOOoooh a world premier of a crappy game based on classic movie! From those artists at EA, no less. Gag. Now the award for best driving game.(oops, I’m sorry, “The Pontiac GTO Best Driving Game”). My money’s on Burnout 3, that game is some serious fun. But with only three games. Yup.

9:34 – I love Ribisi (when he’s Phoebe’s brother) but I can’t stand Sum 41, I’m gonna go read Video Game Omsbudman’s comments and watch some Scrubs. Good stuff there.

9:44 – Best song in a game. Shouldn’t that be something like “Def Jam Best Song in an EA game”? < -- I wrote that before they announced the nominees. What a freaking joke, all songs were from EA games, all top-40 pop, Blech. I don't care who wins that one. 9:52 – Best Mass multi-player game? WTH is that? At least the gave the DS the “Best New technology”. Most of those awards were weak. 9:57 – Almost an hour into the “Award Show” and I’ve supressed the gag reflex twice, felt guilty watching at least thrice, pitied myself as I write this, and hope for something redeeming in the next hour. I’m not counting on it, but you never know. 10:01 – No one makes fun of Christopher Walken. That was the lamest bit yet, the “failed audtions”. Samuel L. Jackson is a bad dude, though. I don’t play PS2 games, but GTA:SA looks fun. 10:11 – I wish Snoop would put that Xbox controller down. Why is he holding it? It’s obviously not a wireless controller, it’s driving me nuts. On the otherhand, Vin Deisel is a handsome man. 10:16 – Commercial break and then Motley Crue. I’m going to tuck my wife in, I need to get away from the TV before I gouge my eyes out. 10:30 – I’m tired of the musical acts beeing constantly muted while they saying naughty things. Gimme a break. And I forgot to mention earlier – Fable is the RPG of the year? I’ll go with that, if RPG means really pathetic game. 10:39 – Oh good, another video game first-look, Fear and Respect. Looks like another game I’ll be skipping. But now it’s Malcolm in the Middle. He’ll be the most believable, I’m sure. Welp, after that line, that went out the door. He’ll regret it. Anyway, Viewrs Choice is… Burnout 3 – just as I though. Good for them, I concur. The guy who did the voice for Burnout 3 is single-handledly redeeming the rest of this craptastic award show. 10:48 – Exactly who I associate video games with – Ludacris, Method Man, and Redman. So the moment we’ve all be waiting for, Game of the Year. My money’s on Halo 2, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was GTA:SA (considering the hip-hop slant of the award show) 10:51 – Wow, I was right, it was GTA. I’m actually surprised it wasn’t Burnout 3, considering how much of an EA love-fest the show has been. 10:53 – Hey, Spike TV! I want those two hours of my life back. I have no idea what Motley Crue has to do with Video Games and your show was quite possibly the worse way to spend two hours on a weekday night. I think you surpassed the crapiness that was last years show. Motley Crue and Snoop Dogg on the same stage, singing the same song. The Apocalypse is upon us. I’m gonna go play some Halo 2 on Live. I’ll check in later.
Update: Thanks to Kotaku for the link on their VGA review post (and all the traffic they’ve sent my way). If you’re coming via Kotaku, welcome! Did you think the Video Game Awards sucked as much as I did? Hopefully you’ll take the time to read some of my other ruminations, realize how insightful and witty I am, and you’ll come back for more. Or leave in disgust, wondering how someone could be so wrong. Either way, enjoy!

Update 2: Not quite a “slashdot” but I’ve also been linked via games.slashdot.org. It’s quite an honor, I will admit. I’ve read slashdot for years, but never thought I’d get linked. So welcome slashdotters, too!

The Video Game Oscars

Well, not quite, but I’ll be live-blogging during the Spike TV Video Game Awards show (the second annual Award Show). Looks like I won’t be the only one who’s giving a play-by-play. (okay, I’m not doing a play-by-play, but I’ll be commenting on-the-fly.)

Week in review (Part 4)

This has been a fairly quiet week as far as new games go, but lots of good stuff out there in the gaming blogs world, so we’ll get right to it. (I’m still looking for a better title for the week in review and I’m trying a new format)

  • At Tales of a Schorched Earth there’s been a few reviews for some Gamecube games (both of which I want to play) X-Men Legends and Paper Mario 2. Both look promising, but he makes a good point, PM2 shouldn’t have been releases this close to all the other blockbusters. I agree
  • From hello, nintendo, there’s a link to Idle Thumbs about poorly named games. It’s a great read.
  • From AFK Gamer it looks like Blizzard may be nerfing some of the classes/skills in WoW. Blizzard did this often with Diablo 2, and unfortunately someone always gets the shaft. I remember the Necromancer being a fun character to play and after a while they continually nerfed him to the point of laughability. I don’t know what he’s like now, but I had a sweet Necromancer that got jobbed.
  • Me, I’m looking forward to Christmas at the ButtonHouse
  • Above (or more likely, below) all the Top Ten Lists coming out, at Evil Avatar is a discussion of this years Worst Games of the Year. EA’s members can be counted on for both fanboyism and valid insight. Here it’s a mixed bag. Most disappointing for me, hands down, was Fable. The jury is still out on the worst.

Of course, let us not forget that there’s still a ton of good games to be played. I’ll be updating this week of a couple more I’ve been able to pick up. The fun never stops.

It’s Christmas time in the City

Even though I’m about to experience my seventeenth Christmas since I was twelve, I still get as giddy about gifts as I did back then. And I still ask for the same thing – video games. But now my tastes have matured, my wallet is fatter, and I don’t have to rely on Santa for everything. So I get to pick some of my own gifts. My wife and I usually exchange a few gifts but she lets me pick out what I want. So on my list is one of these:

Bring high-resolution TV to your desktop with the NextVision N4. The ViewSonic NextVision N4 video processor turns your LCD, CRT or projector into a TV and multimedia center quickly and easily. Simply plug your display or projector into the N4 for TV and multiple video entertainment connections. Adding a DVD player, VCR or digital camera is as easy as plugging into the N4. The NextVision N4 comes with everything users need to get started, including cables and a remote control. The ViewSonic NextVision N4 video processor offers a convenient, cost-effective way to add TV and multimedia capability to your desktop.

I mentioned earlier that I was getting the bug to hook up the old Nintendo systems but I didn’t want to monopolize the big TV upstairs, so I wanted to find something that could make use of the computer monitor. I had initially thought I wanted on of these but the reviews were lackluster. I trust ViewSonic for all my monitor needs so i figure my A90 and my soon to be N4 will play very nicely together.

I’m also going to pick up the ButtonWife some scrap-booking programs. I’ve got my eye on Jasc’s offerings, since I love Paint Shop Pro. I’ll probably pick her up a copy of Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 (assuming they’ve fixed everything, which I heard they did). Since my parents will shower the daughter with gifts galore we’ll get by another year without having to buy her anything. Are we bad parents?

Columbus Geeks Toy Drive!

Columbus Geeks Toy Drive! :: DeVryGuyz.com :: It’s a geek thing: “Columbus Geeks Toy Drive!” – I hadn’t heard of the “DevryGuyz” or “Columbus Geeks” before today, but I heard on the radio a plug for the Columbus Geeks Charity to Children’s Hospital. There seems to be a lot of geeks giving presents and what-not to the less fortunate, led of course by the intrepid Penny-Arcade’s Childs Play. So if you’re from the Ohio/Columbus area and have tons of toy ideas for 2 year old boy and girls this is a good chance to help out with something a little closer to home than some of the other geek toy drives out there.

So give a little, it feels good.