Monday, July 28, 2008

Flashback 2007: 1UP Yours Live at PAX

In case you've never seen it, now you can. Can the 2008 version possibly be better?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bittersweet Choices

Tonight is an interesting night, and it's full of unique decisions (actually just one decision, really). Instead of the usual, "what game will I play tonight" routine, I've got a bigger choice to make.

Do I go to Seattle for my first ever Penny Arcade Expo?

First, let's start with why not? Well, its up north in Seattle, WA - a place I'm not even remotely familiar with, and it's expensive. The ticket is and easy $45 bucks, but the plane ticket is about $288 for a round-trip. And that's not including hotel. I'd be happy with a shack made of straw, but it's never that easy. Even if a hotel bill can inflate the price even further, I'd feel worse if I didn't go.

I mean, For all intents and purposes PAX 2007 was the shit! It was a real convention for gamers, filled with unique surprises like The Mini-boses, (and even Freezepop). Halo 3 was playable, Rock Band rocked the house, Eye of Judgment, great swag, and the halls were filled chatter about the type of stuff we gamers love to talk about: games.

Oh, and 1UP Yours Live was awesome! Heck, it's still awesome. The fans loved it, and Garnett's already confirmed that they'll be back again with another live show this year.

Photo courtesy of Doug Bonham's blog

Man, if only this decision was easy. Then again, none of them are. Hell, I remember when I boarded a plane with all my belonging and flew to San Francisco, last year. That was the ultimate one way trip. And it wasn't easy, but I'm better for it. And even if this choice isn't as challenging, it's still hard.

Spend upwards of $500 dollars and attend one of the most unique conventions left on the West Coast (since E3 = .....), or sit home and watch all the fun on my PC (or Mac)?

Man, I wish these things were easy.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

So Sick With It

A random search on Youtube for "Street Fighter III" led me to these videos. I really hope the SF community will turn come out with some sick videos to top these masterpieces.

Latest Gamevideos SF IV trailer (sorry for the bad voice-overs)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Endless Days of Summer

It's like clockwork, really. Every summer I get bored with the games on my shelf. It happens every time. I've got three Colossi left to slay, but I'm not in the mood for mountain climbing. I've started a city in "Animal Crossing" ironically called Cali, but I don't feel like paying a visit. Thwart the zombie invasion in "RE 4"? Pass. Continue my comic mishaps through "Penny Arcade's Slick Precipice of Madness"? No.

Maybe I'm just a cynic, but I hate the games of summer.

But I might be alone on this one. Madden fans will rejoice in August, and some other releases in-between will surely rouse the gaming masses (Two Human, perhaps?).

It's times like these when sifting through the pile-o'-shame feels appropriate. And what do I spy on my shelf next to Persona 3? Kingdom Hearts 2, a game that scared the bejesus out of me in the Little Mermaid level, when Ariel burst into song. I loved the original Kingdom Hearts, but I quit playing after that. It just didn't seem worth it at the time.

After my fears subsided, I started thinking about the current crop of consoles and their battle for exclusives.

"Kingdom Hearts"
is a franchise that holds significant weight in the gaming business. The second installment of the Disney/Square Enix crossover sold very well two years ago. But after this E3, I wonder if Square is considering the amount of money that a cross platform Kingdom Hearts could earn? Picture it on Wii: This version would hold instant interest with Nintendo's new audience. A Disney game, cutesy characters, are irresistible and marketable, but simplified controls are a must. Making it mass market accessible could make it a massive success.

But what about PS3 and 360? Well picture this: whenever Final Fantasy XIII comes to retail (in 2012, lol). Square Enix will then likely look at the sales numbers. If the game sells better on 360 (and it very well should given the install base), what would stop the RPG titan from publishing the game across multiple platforms? This also falls in line with Microsoft's recent image shift to attract more attention from the Nintendo's audience. Microsoft has to realize the potential they have to wrestle yet another exclusive from Sony.

But Sony can't be foolish, either. Yes, they have closed their checkbooks and refuse to pay for exclusives, but look at the recent NPD. Sony outsold the 360 by a decisive margin, thanks in part to "Metal Gear Solid IV" - a great game that continues to stay exclusive, and demonstrate the retail power exclusives still maintain in the console space.

Enough with the Time Wizardry, I'll revisit "Kingdom Hearts 2" this week. 1UP FM is playing "Psychonaughts", and frankly I'm not interested. Hopefully, I can withstand the Little Mermaid level instead.

In the meantime, I'll post my final thoughts on "Shadow of the Colossus" on Friday.

Ha, looks like the genius at Square planned on the success of KH in the first game, afterall.

**Keep in mind that Square is already developing a PSP, and cell phone version of KH for release later this year. Nothing has officially been said on current console exclusivity in relation to KH III.**

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Dark Knight Awesome

This will probably be the most spoiler-filled piece I have ever written. If you haven't seen "The Dark Knight", then stop reading and head to straight to your local movie theater. You won't regret it, I promise you.

"The Dark Knight" is an excellent film. There, I said it.

I'm sure there are plenty of other people saying the same thing, so it doesn't surprise anyone that I'm such a big fan. It feels like as much as people believed in the promise of Batman Begins sequel, more and more anticipation circled around Heath Ledger's last performance before his drug overdose months ago. So much could be said of his performance (or the Ledger/ Nicholson debate), but I believe the greatest strength of this film is its story, and that comparisons between the two actors, while interesting, are irrelevant.

"The criminals in this town used to believe in honor and respect."

The beginning to this story seems obvious: Now that the Batman has swept the streets of Gotham City, its criminals have turned to more demented men. But the introduction of the Joker is much better in this film than the original Batman film, and it carries though the remained of the movie. This Joker is a criminal genius, as he should be. He's a foil to the Batman, a character that is so often revered as the world's greatest detective. And that's one key specific that the Burton films missed.

"This town deserves a better class of criminal."

Sure the Burton Joker was somewhat diabolical, but it didn't hit as close to home as the current incarnation. This Joker is an urban terrorist. He creates panic and pandemonium. He uses twisted social experiments (the kill Coleman Reese bit was genius) and turns people against each other. The opening bank robbery scene sets this up nicely, and throughout the remainder of the movie its evident that this is a new kind of criminal, a demented creature who can influence others to struggle with psychotic choices. Alan Moore, the author of "The Killing Joke", would be proud of this Joker, given the writer's unique input on the character's comic book renaissance.

This Joker is out to crush men's souls, and Harvey makes the ultimate victim. He's the symbol of hope Gotham needed, an elected official that's pledging to make a difference. And the Joker tears him down, pushing the former white knight to madness.

"We're what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object"

I love the way this movie also focuses on the unique relationship between Batman and the Joker, especially in the prison scene where the Joker reveals that he doesn't want to kill Batman. He enjoys toying with, instead. Poking, and prodding the Batman, all in an effort to make him break his rules. The rules Bruce set for himself in "Batman Begins" that he isn't an executioner. These are the tenets that keep Bruce in check, and keep him sane. Its the line he won't cross. And the Joker savors every second that he can get him closer and closer to breaking one of them.

"You either die the hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain."
Besides the incredible story, and the powerful performances by all the actors in this film (and great pacing), the thing that wrapped this movie together so well is the ending. Batman is Gotham's whipping boy. He can't be a savior, he can't serve and protect. Yes, he deserves a medal, but he's still a vigilante. A man operating outside the law, and worse: the Joker's killing spree is partly a result of his actions.

The cops hunting the vigilante know as Batman makes sense, and its a much better fit than police cooperation.

I could go on and on about this one all night. If you haven't seen it yet, you need to. Its a great summer movie, and the best ten bucks you'll spend all year.

And thank god a shitty game didn't get coupled together with this movie. It would have really made me sad.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Backlog: And Then There Were Seven...

My Colossi killing streak continues now that I found number four. I quickly moved on and slayed numbers five and six, soon after.

I find the proportions and sense of scale, in "Shadow of the Colossus", simply amazing. Every Colossi feels huge, but as they get progressively bigger you really appreciate not only the way they look and move, but the way they interact with the world. I'll use Colossi number five as an example.

The deity in the great temple warned me about Colossi number 5. "Blah, Blah, He's no body's fool," he (or it) said. I rode off to find the beast, and while I expected him to be smart, I didn't expect him to be fast. This one was fast, indeed. Number 5 ran through big stone walls, about as high as his abdomen, trying to crush me. This Colossi isn't taller than the third one, but he makes his presence felt and chases me into a small crevice - a place where I can hide and wait to strike.

And strike I did, toppling the large creature despite his attempts to shake me off.

I can't help but notice how well this game immerses players with so little gameplay. The space that the developers have provided is as big as a GTA (maybe), but minus the population. This world manages to feel alive without the pedestrians or the open mission structure. Instead, Shadow of the Colossus deliberately chooses to be linear, and it retains a majority of what GTA manages to provide. The world of the Colossi might feel lonely in comparison, but it still feels alive.

It would be interesting to see Team Ico's next project now that they can develop on more powerful consoles (presumably the PS3). I'd even be interested in their next game if it were developed for PSP.

Game Diary - July 16, 2008

I find that I might have given up on "Alone in the Dark". As much as I want to love this game, I just can't bring myself to play it again. The very cheap one hit deaths have made me scorn the game I was most eager for this summer.

I went looking for the fourth Colossi in "Shadow of the Colossus" today, and that's about as far as I got. The bugger was no where in sight. You think it would be easier to spot a foe the size of a skyscraper, but somehow my massive adversary managed to evade my sword. It would help if the directions to get to each lumbering adversary weren't so cryptic. I mean the whole sword glowing thing is cool, but it doesn't direct me as well as I'd like.

Spoilers contained herin, be warned!

Since I was still in the mood for some epic adventures, I returned to "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess" for the first time since forever. I toppled the villain Zant with my powerful Master Sword and resumed an adventure that's been in progress since I bought my Wii back in June 2006. Unfortunately, the quest is not over and you-know-who lurks at Hyrule Castle. I barely find myself up for one more dungeon, but I'll consider returning to this one. I just might finish it before the next one comes out.

Compare the Wii version of Animal Crossing to the DS and see for yourself.

I also played some Animal Crossing: Wild World on DS and felt a vague sense of deja' vu. The presentation is very similar to the recently announced Wii version, a little too similar in fact. My gut tells me that we can expect another Nintendo title with zero innovation attached, another game that's more of the same. I only hope that I'm wrong.

The Death of the Exclusive

The fight for console exclusives rages on

On Monday morning, Microsoft made the surprise announcement that "Final Fantasy XIII", formerly a Sony Playstation 3 exclusive, would be available day and date for Xbox 360 in North America and Europe.

It was possibly the biggest "surprise" announcement at the E3 Business & Media Summit in Los Angeles, but it also signifies another exclusive title shifting camps since the next generation of consoles were announced back in 2005.

"Assassin's Creed", "Grand Theft Auto IV", "Devil May Cry 4", "Ace Combat 6", "Virtua Fighter 4", "Resident Evil 5"* are all titles that Microsoft has secured over time, bringing once hyped "only-on-Playstation" franchises to their console.

Multi-platform development seems like the only answer large publishers can come up with now that budgets on their major titles are soaring to unbelieveable heights. Yet, as many were sure that Final Fantasy XIII would never jump ship and assume multi-platform status, the announcement shouldn't really surprise after the Game Developers Conference announcement that any game created using Crystal Tools could be ported easily to PC and 360.

To be fair, Sony has attempted to turn the tables and seek prior Microsoft exclusives but without the same impact. Timed exclusivity of Unreal Tournament 3 and Haze have not influenced hardware sales, instead being met with mixed reception by critics. Although "Bioshock" has recently been released from Microsoft exclusivity, it was no where to be seen during the Sony Press Conference. As last year's near unanimous Game of the Year, it would have been impressive to highlight some of the new features for the PS3 version, yet Sony didn't take the opportunity to do so.

The only major exclusive (by a third party publisher) left in the Sony bag belongs to Konami as "Metal Gear Solid 4" remains the tactical espionage action adventure of the year. But as the year continues to progress, and the final sales numbers of MGS 4 come out, we could only wonder if that exclusivity will continue.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Inspiration and Taking Risks

The question Dave was asked, on his very insightful interview on "Inside the Actor's Studio", was how does "he deal with people who feel that he's crossing lines (with his comedy) that he should not necessarily be crossing?"

A Quick Note

The iPhone 3G and 2.0 software update both launched today!

A brief note on the current state of the App Store on the eve of day one:

Entertainment Apps: 269
Games: 197
Utilities: 101

Games are in second place, people! Possibly the most ever on a brand new product/console/jesus-phone.

Let's just hope developers are focusing on doing this right.

Dear Nintendo, Can We Please Have Zelda: Four Swords Adventures on Wii Ware...

I can get quite hysterical at times, especially regarding things that I believe in. For a while now, my foul mouthed rants and raves have centered around many different things. And I can be a very clueless joe at times, I know. But I have a bone to pick with Nintendo tonight, and it's been building for quite some time.

Of course every hardcore fanboy and fangirl out there is already concerned with the obvious point: Where are my hardcore Nintendo games, Reggie? Why aren't you giving hardcore gamers what they want. And the whaambulance continues to roll on.

For the record, I'm over that one. It's clear to me that Nintendo does what Nintendo wants. Period. But rather than piss and moan over the point everyone seems to make (and remake), I want to offer a suggestion, a possible idea. Something that I would love to see, if Nintendo would deem it fit to give.

The game idea I'd like to see is, The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures for Wii Ware.

Talk about a game idea that was ahead of its time. Think back and soak in those clumsy link cables (each sold separately), the mandatory multi-Gameboy setup for multiplayer, and the chance that your friends were probably too poor to play the intricate and competitive (and only console) co-op Zelda ever. If "Zelda: Four Swords Adventures" managed to sell well for the Gamecube in 2004 (Wiki guesstimates over 400,000 copies) no one has the right to complain about the recent growth in the and-you-need-this-peripheral-in-your-living-room-too market.

Zelda: Four Swords in 2004 (again, on Gamecube) may not have made much sense, but a Zelda that's supported by an online infrastructure like Wii Ware does. And you can keep the graphics the same Nintendo, really. Those sprites were just fine the way they were. But then you could spruce up the place a bit, add some 3-D, and really make it shine. A boss here, some DS support (if you must), and violla! a game that anyone in the masses can enjoy (and that hardcore types can go nuts for). Multiplayer Zelda in cute downloadable form (with decent netcode, please). A grand Hyrulean adventure, indeed.

I don't find my request unreasonable. In fact it's entirely do-able, if Nintendo is up for it.

If only E3 2008 could give me that. My decade would be set. And I'm not arguing that this is the only thing Wii Ware needs, its just the thing I'd like to see most of all. Pray, you the reader do the same.

**Yes, I realize Zelda: Four Swords Adventures was originally part of the GBA port of The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past (my favorite, by the way), but I really would prefer this on home console than a DS remake.

You're protests, if any, are duly noted**

Yesterday's News

There are some days where I am convinced that I live under a rock. I believe this theory since I have maintained a pretty consistent record of missing timely news stories. I didn't know when they caught (and charged) the infamous Alabama Sniper. I didn't know that the Godfather of Soul died until after my Christmas Break was over.

My record seems to be consistent at being the last to know anything in mainstream news. And that could very well be a bad thing.

Following my routine habit of browsing, I found an old interview with Dave Chapelle that discussed his flight from Comedy Central, despite being offered $50 million dollars to create a third season of his hit show.

I never knew why the Chapelle Show was canceled, but now I do. If you've never seen it, enjoy. And if you have: see it again. I just wish more interviews I watch felt this genuine.

Christ, I need to read the newspaper more often.

Friday, July 11, 2008

iPhone Games And What They Could Mean For You!

There are certain restrictions to the things I can and can't say about Apple, and their related products. Some might take this opportunity to decry this admission as a petty sort of bias. To be quite clear, it isn't.

If you know me personally, then you know why I can't go into greater detail here (sorry). But after spending today with the latest iPhone software 2.0, I can't help but express my glee at the wonderful app store, and its amazing potential.

And quite clearly that's all the store is right now: a potential opportunity for interesting and exciting game projects (and apps, too). Take a look around the console side of gaming and you'll find mass budgets, scared publishers, and a rise in the casual games market. These three factors have hamstrung development companies, as they try to leverage projects that can pay the bills with projects that will. No publisher can afford a retail bomb these days, and who can blame them for being anything but cautious, as they plot the future of their companies into the fiscal unknown.

Everyone wants to make money, and that's a fact.

So how does iPhone fit into a publisher's future plans? Its the fastest growing smart phone competitor to R.I.M.'s Blackberry. It runs a native version of everyone's favorite operating system: Mac OS X. It's truly a remarkable lifestyle product that's both cool and hip.

Now, clearly I've never been into anything the hip crowd deems worthy. But I am impressed by their toys every so often, and today is one of those days. I sat down and browsed the App Store today, and downloaded my top five most important applications on my last gen iPhone: 1) AIM 2) Facebook 3) A sports tracking app that forgot the name to 4) Super Monkey Ball 5) NetNewsWire.

So since this is my space where I usually pass judgment on game related products, I'll reflect on my brief time with Super Monkey Ball.

I should point out that I've had very little exposure to the series. Of course, I've heard of it. I think i even played it once or twice. Super Monkey Ball, to me, has always been a sorta cool, but I'll pass thing for me. I got the challenge to it, but the franchise always stuck in my mind as a masochistic gamer's fantasy. The type that person that emphasizes perfection in all movement and is wildly driven by that sort of challenge. It's someone who can enjoy the immense pressure of a clock counting down as you quickly steer a trapped monkey wildly through a wide-open, and deadly maze.

See, even saying that much clearly helps you understand that it aint easy. And you know what, it really isn't.

An iPhone version is pretty impressive, and it earns Sega some props. The levels are fully rendered in 3-D, although the main avatars are not. The developers have a 2-D looking sprite at the center of the screen. As you tilt the phone to steer or monkey friend, the avatar rotates with the camera, to a degree. Its all using the wonderful accelerometer that's built into the iPhone. The action is amazingly responsive, but the game does a terrible job of helping you learn its balancing nuances. There is no proper training level to teach player's a neutral position for the iPhone to keep the ball from rolling.

Could an on screen indicator have helped this? Possibly.

I've spent the majority of this afternoon falling off ledges, getting visibly frustrated, and completely annoyed with my first game-related purchase. Now before I give off the wrong impression, Super Monkey Ball is not a bad game. It's average at best, even for a cell phone game (although its visibly remarkable compared to some other iPhone launch games). But this game is aimed at a market that clearly won't understand it. The consumer mass market that uses iPhone won't know what to do with Monkey Ball. They'll get frustrated and move on because its a really challenging game, even on easy mode.

I hope developers use the iPhone as more than just an opportunity to cash in and provide pretty games with bad controls. A consumers iPhone game experience could segue to other products, or even interest in games in general. Development on iPhone can introduce people to amazing innovation, it can re-introduce them to a former favorite pastime, and most importantly it can make cell phone games relevant, and inspire publishers to pursue smaller budget experiments with mass market success. it resembles the same promise that downloadable games on console seem to be pushing as well.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Game Diary: July 9, 2008

After one hour, I've got three Colossi down and thirteen left to go.

The thing that strikes me most about revisiting "Shadow of the Colossus" just one week before E3 is that I'm convinced this game was only successful because of the huge marketing push that Sony put behind it. That's not to say that the game isn't art, but I recall a number of two-page ads, a commercial, and similar endorsements created to generate buzz for the obscure sounding game (and I only hope that they eventually learned this).

My first experience came with a demo sent to me in the mail (prior to that, i never knew what a Colossi was). And what a demo indeed! It captured the first battle with a Colossi (I think it ended actually before you even fought him). You look up at this lumbering creature roughly the size of a five or six story house (actually he's petite compared to his comrades) and BAM! Demo over. End Scene.

But what is it that specifically makes this game feel enormous, even by today's standards? Is it the immense proportions of scope and scale as you battle enormous creatures that can, and will, kill you if they land a blow? Is it the connection to your horse, the only character in the game you'll interact with during the eight to ten hour game? Or is it the futility of the Wander's mission, as he is fooled into believing that his sacrifice will reunite him with the woman he loves?

People on the internets continue to argue that "Shadow of the Colossus" is a sheer representation of games as art, and that's fine. But I argue that if "Shadow of the Colossus" is art, then "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time" is our Mona Lisa (and forget the constant comparisons to film, as if nothing ever existed before Citizen Kain). I make this argument because as much as Shadow does so much with very little, it's really a minimalist version of the stuff Link has done for decades. The only detractor being that Zelda bosses never appeared as complex on the surface (they didn't make you feel anywhere as pathetic as some of the Colossi can).

However, Nintendo's constant refinements to the franchise (without introducing anything really new) are slowly making the series lose its luster.

Besides rolling around and cutting up some Colossi, I managed to sneak in some time in Animal Crossing. I named my town Cali (for obvious reasons), and my character doesn;t have enough money to pay the rent. I'll try to stick with this one for as long as I can, but i have a feeling its not going to last.

Maybe I should invest in the DS version instead.

Backlog: Time to Topple Mountains, Again!

I’m genuinely excited to be playing old games right now, thanks in part to 1UP FM. In the segment titled “Backlog”, the editors and other media people play through older games (ahem..., Squadron of Shame caliber choices) like “Shadow of the Colossus” and other prolific titles to reminisce and ruminate about their experiences in game’s the world.

Although I tend to move from game to game pretty quickly, I admire this segment since it encourages me to revisit games that I quickly flew through years ago, and never gave a second glance. I look forward to the Backlog segment each week, and although they are one podcast away from finishing “Shadow of the Colossus”, I figured now was a good a time to join them as any. So today at Gamestop, I re-bought the game everyone dubbed “a masterpiece” back in 2005.

Clearly, I’ve returned to gaming’s well this past week since all I’ve played is a lot of “Super Stardust HD” (61,000,000 points, and growing), fragged up the place in Halo 3’s Chill Out map remake named “Cold Storage”, and enlisted for my second tour in “Call of Duty 4” campaign.

Maybe I’m just a sour puss but I’m only half excited for for the plethora of announcements that will be unveiled during next weeks E3 in Los Angeles. E3 represents so much to gamers everywhere, and even if it’s significance is slightly diminished, it’ll still be North America’s biggest gaming spectacle of 2008 (unless PAX ’08 comes along and ends up even bigger).

Still, while we all wait and ruminate over the upcoming blockbuster titles that will slowly surface next week, I’ll be slaying mountain sized monster men (if Colossi indeed have a gender - and they might not).

Oh, and I went out and picked up the original “Animal Crossing” for the Nintendo Gamecube. Now, before the where-the-fuck-have-you-been alarm goes off in your head, Animal Crossing is one of the few games that I missed last gen (and I still don’t remember why). Now that I dwell on it, i recall playing “the Sims” and getting fed up with that kind of game. I haven’t tried any simulator till I played “Viva Pinata” this year.

My problem in general with these games is the amount of tedium in managing the micro economies they provide. In “The Sims” (the console sims Get a Life mode), i had to get a job and try to grow and manage relationships, and it all bored me to tears . The whole doll house, sandbox thing was completely irrelevant to me (mind you, Doll house fever and the Sims were all the rage back then), and despite my initial attraction to the concept I grew bored of the game and moved on. Then in 2006, the 1UP Yours podcast enticed me to go out an try “Viva Pinata”, a similar title in the simulation world, but I couldn’t get past the abhorrent packaging Microsoft slapped on that game (if you haven’t seen it, you need to).
A good friend of mine in New York sent me the game for Christmas, and I’ve loved it ever since. Now I’m not sure what changed in me from 2002 to now. Logistically, I still can’t figure it out, but I try to tend my Garden of Love in Viva, whenever I can.

However, Animal Crossing wasn’t an impulse buy. It was influenced by the opinion everyone has that we’ll hear Nintendo announce a sequel on Tuesday. Oh, well. We'll find out soon enough now won't we.

Show Some Support...

If you haven't heard of John Davison, former Editorial Director of, then shame on you. John left the Ziff crew back in September and co-founded "What They Play", a website geared at bridging the digital divide between parents and video games. John recently appeared on the Today Show this morning, and explained a variety of significant issues between kids and parents at his site. Check it out and show some support.

Also, check out this Newsweek piece by N'Gai Croal, for more information on What They Play.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

You Know My Name

No introduction needed.

Friendly Letters # 1

This space isn't always about games...

Ok, well maybe it is, but today's post is different. It's a copy of a letter I just sent to a good friend of mine. So wait, if its personal why am I posting it? Well, because I feel like it!

(Name have been blocked to protect the innocent)

Hey Dude,

First and foremost, its great to hear from you. I think I asked J***-A**** about you two weeks ago. Congrats on successfully doing the "SMART THING" and saving your money up. Soon, all of that penny pinching will pay off, and you'll walk out of Best Buy with the only thing that matters: an Xbox 360. But what will your first game be? See me, I like to think ahead, and there are plenty of choices. I say get "Halo 3" because wouldn't you know it, today is Bungie Day!

What is Bungie Day you say? It's only the bestest day of the whole year! Today is the day that Bungie (the makers of Halo) celebrate their fans and give away free stuff. They released a new map (for FREE) on Xbox Live called "Chill out". Now you know that I love "Halo 3". Hell, I love Bungie. But instead of enjoying the Bungie Day festivities and splattering rivals all over the new map they released today, I did something... else.

I know what you're thinking. "Dude, why aren't you enjoying this fake holiday that you're all excited about?"

Well, the thing is I have a bit of an an ego, and when someone challenges me ( a friend from NY), I can't help but get a little competitive. See, my friend back home challenged my score in a PS3 game that I have called "Super Stardust HD" - - a very gay name, but a really good shooter. It's like "Shoot 'Em Up" but without Clive Owen, and in the future... in space. Okay, Okay, maybe it isn't like "Shoot 'Em Up", but I like the damn game and I'm a big sore loser. So I've been playing non-stop these past few days, trying to keep my high score before the little jerk back home tops it. And sadly, this keeps me from enjoying my Bungie Day, lol.

Other than that, I'm doing fine. I sorta miss school, and ***** sucks major supremo, but I can't complain: its a job. I recently interviewed for a job at *** ***** ***** - that ******** ******* that I would never stop talking about. Good news, they liked me. Bad news, they haven't called back yet. In the meantime, I've been trying to keep myself busy and just focus on other stuff besides my dream job.

Mercenaries is great a great game! Do you love it, or hate it? Choose a side if you dare.

P.S. Sorry I wrote a book here, but its been a while so I wanted to tell you everything that I could.

Talk to you soon,


Wednesday, July 2, 2008


I've already explained what i think is wrong with "Alone in the Dark", but if you need proof, watch this. Props to Mike Nelson and the MyCheats crew as they flail away at the upcoming SuperGuide.

Game Diary - July 2, 2008

I spent today revisting a number of games that I cast aside for some reason or another, the biggest one being "Resident Evil 4". Indeed this was Capsom's masterpiece and acclaimed GOTY for 2005, yet it still managed to sift into my mile-high pile o'shame. I decided today was the day to cast aside " and indulge in the smash hit of Capcom's internal development team. Even though I am playing the Wii version (and I have owned each version of this game, regardless of the platform it appeared on). It's a truly remarkable game packed with intense survival horror. I'd have to agreed with a friend of mine that the pacing is a bit rough, but the game build and builds to multiple climaxes, as expected. My heart was racing today, and it was during a battle that I've played at least three times before (it's the one after you save Ashley for the first time. It takes place in an old house, and you tag-team the Latino zombie invasion with Luis Serra as your teamate).

I also returned to the lush land of Mistral for more of the Frontier Developments' "Lost Winds". Little Toku and the Wind Spirit are an amazing little dynamic duo, and this particular project reminds me of "Zelda II", for in the NES, in many ways. Granted it's a much more streamlined version, with a quest subtly smaller than Link's epic endeavors, but the side scrolling levels really do evoke a Zelda-ish aesthetic. I'm impressed with the end product that Frontier has delivered, regardless of how short it is (I can tell I'm almost done after two hours or so).

My one complaint with "Lost Winds" is the design decision to exclude a map in the game. There are enough diverse locations that a map would really shave off some time from the backtracking segments. Yes, I'm aware that backtracking is unanimously declared as poor game design in today's development scene, but previous games that implemented it established the importance of having a map in the first place. Embarking on quests in "Lost Winds" will get you lost more often than not, and I find that frustrating, but not unbearable.