Monday, September 22, 2008

Ahead of its Time?

That's right! That game is "Steel Battalion", a game that could have been three years too soon. It was an X-Box exclusive from Capcom that baffled both the press and mech fans alike, mainly because of the $199 price tag.

I still remember when I walked into Toys R' Us in Times Square, NYC to drop my well earned Christmas cash. Years later I could reminisce that the game was only okay at best. Thankfully, I'll always have a reminder courtesy of YouTube.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Incredibly Edible Contraptions, Or Things That I Read Today

It's funny, I just don't read books anymore. And I bet I know what you're thinking, "Well, how is that funny." Well dear reader, it just is (or maybe a better position is ironic). Actually it's because there was a time, a very long time ago, that I did read books instead of repulsive, grammatically incorrect articles and poorly written blog post. In fact, everyday I find new subscriptions for my RSS Reader and I try, vainly, to keep up with a ridiculous amount of content.

Today, I decided to stray from my typical web surfing routine, and I started a fascinating book edited by one of my favorite writers, the one and only Clive Thompson.

Clive's been featured in many relevant science and culture compilations as one of the best technology writers in the business. He's submits stuff all the time for Wired and the New York Times. The book, titled, "The Best Technology Writing of 2008", is really a who's who of some of the most talented science writers. These diligent folks record the effects of technology on our daily live, and then feed it back to us without the tech speak that invades so much science writing.

"What can we do with our strange new powers" is an interesting position Clive takes when he describes some of the articles featured as part of the introductory chapter.

Now before you start getting antsy, I can assure you this isn't a book review or some personal critique on the book. I get to do that sort of thing at a different job. Plus, I'd never try to waste your time that way, or mine for that matter. I just like to look back at the stuff I read, or experience. Just like I do with games.

The first chapter introduced me to Dave Arnold, a master engineer that builds some of the coolest culinary gadgets in the restaurant business.

David helps master chefs experiment with new and exciting gadgets that can introduce a plethora of tasty experiences the next time you visit a fancy restaurant in New York City. He works mainly with the extraordinary Wylie Dufresne.

Check out the video below for more on the type of work David does.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ending the Silence

Sadly, it's been weeks since I've posted anything on this blog.

My recent silence was for two very specific reasons: a) I've been trying to figure personal things out, and b) I moved to a much nicer (a.k.a. bigger/cleaner/incredible) space. Remember folks, I've been out here on the west coast for over a year, so it was due time for an upgrade from my previous misery-filled cubby hole of a room. Plus, my new roommates are fabulous! Even though they are all non-gamers, they've adapted to my quirky habits, eventually joining me on a few occasions.

I have to say that taking time off did me a whole lot of good. I got to enjoy "Too Human", despite the enormous amount of hate the game received two months ago. I also finished Quantic Dream's "Indigo Prophesy" - a game that sounds like a much cooler experience when you replay it, or if you share your experiences in some sort of group discussion. I've done neither, and the game's ending did disappoint like most games do, but there were still plenty of things I enjoyed in this game, particularly the character development.

I didn't expect to enjoy this game when I discovered you can control four central character's in the story. Blame other games I've played where it ended up as very cut, copy, and paste. Surprisingly, this system lead to some interesting discoveries for me. It felt like I was trying to play mental chess against myself. The game forces you would hide the evidence from yourself, and then try to find it again.

Take the opening murder sequence, as an example. You can choose to clean up the mess and hide the murder weapon, only to return an examine the crime scene later as a completely different character. You're role is transferred, as you attempt to catch yourself, if that makes any sense. I'm not sure if I'm just getting too old for this sot of thing, but I have to admit that I found this story-telling mechanic astounding, even if it felt very point-and-click-adventure-ish (an obvious influence for the design team).

I'd like to write some more about it one day, but my recent obsession with RockBand 2 stands in the way. Here are a few other notable things that happened (either to me or on the web) while I was away:

- Variety's Ben Fritz spoiled the shit out of one special enemy in the Force Unleashed. Great article, but shame on you Ben. Shame.

- I finished "Bionic Commando: Rearmed", my personal favorite downloadable game of the year (so far, anyway).

- John Davison made a critical statement about the relevance of reviews to an average consumer over on his personal blog and What They Play.

- I went to PAX 2008 and saw a lot of games and even more gamers.

- The new season of the 1UP Show has a very creative opening title segment you can't help but love. Seriously kids, you should be watching this every week. This week, the crew checks out Bionic Commando (not Rearmed, the other one), Spore, and a possible late great title from Sega, Yakuza 2.