Thursday, January 31, 2008

No More Heroes

Wow. I mean.

This game is one of the craziest games I have ever played. If you've read about it, I know it sounds crazy, what with all of the blood and the coins that come pouring out of the decapitated corpses, but nothing comes close to actually playing it. In my limited time with the game, I'm not as thrilled with the open world stuff, but that's not my genre of choice, but man, the fighting is fucking fun on wheels.

If you have a Wii and have ever complained about the dearth of adult titles on it, then not buying this game is the ultimate act of hypocrisy because this is about as adult a title as you're going to find, short of some unannounced, upcoming hamster fucking simulator.

If Star Wars: The Force Unleashed does even half as good a job as this one does with saber combat, then I'll be picking it up on the Wii over the other consoles because swinging the Wiimote to perform your finishing move is just way too much fun. Obviously, I wouldn't object to storm troopers gushing fountains of whatever passes for currency in the Star Wars universe, but I can understand if that goes beyond their mandate.

Harvey Birdman Review

Who takes the time to sift through mediocre games such as Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law to give you the raw, unbridled truth?

I do. That's who.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Hermit in Me

So today I joined some gaming journalist social networking site. Don't worry, I'm not about to start thinking I'm a gaming journalist. I'm well aware that I'm a hack and a hack shall I always be. Anyone who suggests that he should make a game about spraying poison on babies has no reason calling himself a journalist of any stripe.

As a rule, I hate social networking sites as it requires you to a) be social and b) network. I have explained on numerous occasions my disdain for other people, so signing up to be part of a site that requires me to speak to other people makes little, if any sense. The reason I signed up is basically because Bill told me to, and as I have no experience navigating these tricky, freelance waters, I do pretty much whatever he tells me to. That and I find the entire freelance thing very interesting. Not as a career option mind you, as my fragile mental state requires the stability that only a steady income can bring, but I have always wondered how people are able to cobble together a living from this whole writing thing. The only other insight into this world I've ever had is from reading Scalzi's Whatever all these years, and that dude has his shit wrapped up so tight, that I don't even know if it's the norm.

GameShark's new editorial policy has required me to, as Bill said, act like a real freelancer in that I have to think of the next assignment before I'm finished with the current one, and I gotta tell ya, it's a pain in the ass. I'm not the most motivated individual in the world, so the whole idea of me just getting stuff mailed to me with little more needed from me than an email to signify my assent takes some getting used to. That being said, I have managed to fill my plate until the beginning of March, so I think I'm getting used to it, but still, it's like hella work, yo.

I can't imagine having to be on top of what may be coming down the pike because my ability to pay the mortgage depends on it. I pretty much review games because I enjoy it and I need cash to pay for Transformers. Seriously, that's it. I like being able to play games I normally wouldn't, and there's nothing like a bad game to stoke my creative fires, but mostly it's for Transformers. Jesus, when I put it like that, I sound like such a loser. Eh. I'm alright with that.

If I do decide to try my hand at writing for other sites, hopefully all this networking crap will give me visibility into additional opportunities, I'm just not sure anyone would want to hire an anti-social slacker with a Transformer fetish. I know I wouldn't, unless he was in the Collector's Club and could score me Club exclusives. A man's gotta have priorities.

In other news, Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games for the DS answers the age old question of what would happen if scribbling were an Olympic event. It's a veritable cornucopia of scribbling.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I had a lot more to write about yesterday, you know, the day I didn't write.

I find it odd that so much could leave my brain in such a short amount of time, especially given that I didn't do anything of real interest between last night and this evening. Nevertheless, it did, and I have nothing.

How are you? Good? Excellent.

Alrighty then. Let's try this again tomorrow and we'll see if I can come up with anything else.

Ok. Bye now.

Seriously. Move along.

Well, I'm going. Lock up when you leave.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Time Management

Which is to say I have none.

I had planned on writing about a number of topics, but instead I started playing Mario and Sonic at the Olympics for the DS and the next thing I knew, it was time to call it a night. Hey, you set two world records in one night in the hammer throw and see how late you can stay up.

In other news, John Keefer of Crispy Gamer fame stopped by to tell me that I misspelled his name. Yeah, I'll be writing for that site in no time.

No time at all.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Shake Up

This past week I found out that James, the editor-in-chief at GameShark is leaving to become the News Editor at a new site, Crispy Gamer was started by John Keefer who used to be the E-I-C at GameSpy. So far, both Aaron Williams of Nodwick and P.S. 238 fame and Scott Kurtz of PvP fame are doing online comics for the place so it obviously isn't a fly-by-night kind of place.

If you go to the Crispy Gamer site now, there's not much other than a page where you can sign up for a notification when the site launches. From what I've been able to find out online, the site is supposed to go against the grain of current gaming sites, in how it covers games, and how it reviews games. How they'll manage to pull this off is beyond me. The bottom line with game publishers is that if your site doesn't review games in a way that can't be aggregated by the aggregate sites, or if your site isn't large enough to be included in the aggregate sites, you don't get review copies. Hell, GameShark qualifies in both those categories and for the most part, we don't get shit for review copies. As a result, we get games later and our reviews go up later than the other sites with the exception of crap like Dancing With the Stars, which I am proud to say, had it's review debut at GameShark.

But I digress. Without review copies, I'm not sure how you'll be able to get reviews out in a window that can compete with the bigger sites, unless you have a huge budget that you can dedicate towards buying games, and even then, unless you can pay a staff to play games full time, you're still going to be behind the curve. Now, where this might not be a problem is if the readers of the site know that yeah, the reviews might be late, but at least they're honest. Personally, I know I have zero faith in the various gaming sites I go to, with the exception of GameShark (we don't get paid enough to be beholden to anyone), so if there was a site that had later reviews that I knew I could trust, that might mean something. Not sure how that will fly with other gamers though. Given how many people pay to preorder games, I don't place a lot of stock in gamers' patience. Also, given how much traffic both IGN and GameSpot gets, I'm pretty sure people aren't all that concerned with honesty. That's not to say that there isn't a place for an honest games site, I just wonder what's going to pay for it all. As I've mentioned before in this space, I would think that there would be plenty of advertising dollars available for products that a gaming site would never review, but that's just me. Hell, between Nerf and the Transformers, you'd probably get several million clicks a day from them alone. And that's just from me.

Whatever Crispy Gamer ends up being, I wish James all the best. Since I started writing at GameShark, James has been nothing but supportive and is actually one of my biggest fans, something I have always appreciated. Obviously, given James' involvement with the site, I hope that Crispy Gamer becomes wildly successful, and on a selfish note, it certainly wouldn't hurt for me to know someone at a larger gaming venue. Not that me knowing someone there means anything, but it certainly can't hurt.

Unfortunately, James' departure means we have a new E-I-C. All I can say is that I have worked with the man before, and he is insufferable.

And I'm fired in 3...2...1...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

New Laptop

I'm writing this post from my spiffy new laptop. Whee for me.

Without getting into what happened to the old one, for fear of corporate reprisals, let's just say that I used to have a laptop that I used while gaming, and now I don't. Given that the lack of a laptop was my fault entirely, I took it upon myself to purchase a new one. Hence this one.

So far, I'm enjoying it, although it's a little slower and a little warmer than the Dell. I am convinced that this is entirely Vista's fault, however I have no direct evidence. Vista certainly is one slick looking little OS, and I can't bring myself to turn off all of the visual flourishes, even if they make it hard to watch hi-def Quicktime trailers. I'm not all that upset though, as this laptop was about a quarter of the cost of the Dell, so I'd be kind of miffed if the Dell wasn't as speedy, even if it is a few years old. The Dell runs XP, which may not be as pretty, but it works just fine.

One may wonder why I need a laptop for when I'm playing games if we have another one, but I'd rather not get into it lest I confront the depths of my madness.

The purchase of this laptop has shown me how incredibly behind the PC times I have become. You can blame my various consoles for this as I have no need to keep up to date on drivers and security systems when playing on the 360 or the Wii. If the cost of conducting my gaming entirely on consoles is PC ignorance, then I will gladly pay it. There's a reason I got out of PC gaming, and having to figure out the best way to make sure my OS didn't fry my computer was one of them. Nothing I have done in the past 4 hours to get this new rig up to speed has made me want to come back.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Night of the Living Baseheads

Ok, so it's not actually baseheads we're talking about but Transformers repaints, I just like the word "basehead".

Basehead, basehead, basehead.

There. I'm better now.

Despite the fact that I'm not big on Transformers repaints, I recently picked up both Rescue Ratchet and EVAC. Rescue Ratchet is Ratchet from the movie, just painted in red and white to look like an ambulance. He is awesom, and I love him. The original Ratchet was an ambulance, so this color scheme makes sense, plus Ratchet was my favorite of all the Voyager (20 buck) movie toys, so I'm not upset with buying him twice. Usually I don't like repaints as part of the joy of buying a new toy is learning the transformation for the first time. While Rescue Ratchet's transformation is no longer new to me, it's still fun, so he gets added to the collection.

EVAC is a different beast altogether. Even though he's a repaint of Blackout, he's an Autobot, and a damn nice looking one at that. He's all orange and white, done up to look like a Coast Guard rescue chopper. My Blackout was disappointing in that his arms would never stay where they were supposed to. Blackout's arms don't attach to his torso, instead they attach to this harness thingy that then hooks into his torso. If the harness doesn't click in correctly, the harness moves every time you try to pose him. Tres annoying. EVAC, on the other hand, has no such issues as his harness locks into place nice as can be. This, along with the new color scheme and the new head sculpt make him a very fun toy. The only thing I don't like about him is that he comes with a life raft which he can drop while in helicopter form. The raft then becomes a gun when he's in robot form. I'm all for him dropping a raft to help people out, but to then make them plunge into the icy waters just so that he can pack heat is kind of mean.

With all of this repaint madness going on, I passed on the G1 repaint of the Voyager class Optimus Prime as well as the off road repaint of Ironhide. Ironhide was a fairly disappointing toy, and it's not worth spending 20 bucks just so I can have one with a little mud painted on him. I can do that for nothing. The G1 Prime repaint is just unnecessary. Movie Prime's flames are bad ass. I wouldn't change them for anything.

Now all I need is Incinerator and I'll have all of the new Voyagers that Hasbro has seen fit to tell us about. Then it's nothing but clear sailing until the Classics 2.0 line comes out and the Transformers Animated toys come out.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heath Ledger, RIP

What a bummer. I've liked his work ever since Ten Things I Hate About You. So sue me, I have a thing for teenage Shakespeare remakes.

It's such a shame to see someone with such talent go at such a young age, regardless of the cause. I'd like to think that if it was an overdose, his death will serve as a reminder to those thinking of dabbling in controlled substances, but we all know that won't be the case, which makes it even more of a shame.

Regardless of how he died, my condolences go out to his family and friends.

Mr. Binky returns

There's a new Mr. Binky column up today. When I wrote it, I didn't think it was all that funny, and it probably isn't, but I do know that it's about a thousand times funnier with the graphics provided by my content editor, a one Mr. Bill Abner. There have been many weeks where my column was made better by his choice graphical selections, and I honestly can't think of a time when this was more on display than this week. I'm sure that this hunt for graphics is what keeps him from posting even semi-regularly on his own site. If so, I applaud him for understanding where his priorities lay, namely in making me look brilliant. Or should I say more brilliant?

Monday, January 21, 2008

I'll Take Things I Hate for $200 Alex

What are broken laptops?

That is correct!

Yeah, so I dropped my wife's old laptop today as I was walking it over to my network hub and the screen smacked into the entertainment cabinet and bye-bye laptop. Whoopsie. The thing was on it's way out to begin with. You couldn't leave it on and closed for long periods of time without it never coming back up; the blue function key thingy stopped working making it impossible to adjust the brightness; the wireless card kept insisting that it was in ad-hoc mode when I had set it to infrastructure, making it unusable and finally, the wireless adapter I had been using as a patchwork solution stopped working after I updated the firmware on the router. Granted, that wasn't the laptop's fault, but it is related.

The problem is that I've gotten quite used to having a laptop downstairs for all of my gaming needs. Yes, we have a laptop for home, but many times, while I'm gaming, Linda is using it for email, or looking up things, and I don't want to bogart the laptop just because I'm too cheap to shell out 15 bucks for the Mass Effect strategy guide.

With the GameShark reviews providing a steady stream of "fun money" I can certainly swing a low end laptop, but I'm loathe to drop such a large chunk of money on something that doesn't recreate a Star Wars vehicle with plastic bricks. I'm also not real big on the idea of having to keep another piece of computer equipment maintained just so that I can better cheat at video games. Oh the conundrums we face in this, the digital age!

I'm sure I'll figure something out sooner or later. Either that or I'll go back to running into the other room every time I need to look something up or print out online strategy guides ten pages at a time. The real question is which will win in the end, my laziness or my frugality.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Again, I Say Blech

Saturday brought more snow, much to my dismay. The children seemed to enjoy it, and I didn't have to shovel any of my 100+ long driveway, so I can't complain too much. Plus, with the snow having fallen on a Saturday, there was no danger of daycare being closed. That's what we call a win-win. Techinically, it's a win-win-win.

Here are some pictures of the children, Linda and I enjoying the snow. Note the immense, rolling hills of the Hyphenridge compound. Truly a sledder's paradise.

Here the children prepare for their inaugural run down the mountain. Apparently it was so cold that the top of my head fell off.


As you can tell, I'm thrilled with all of the snow. I give it two glove clad thumbs up.

Here I put my mad snow surfing skillz on display. Oh yeah. It's why I'm such a hit with the ladies.

Even Linda is not immune to sledding's siren call.

Is it any wonder I didn't want to shovel? And this isn't even the whole thing.

What snow day is complete without a snowman? Ben found one of the arms, Linda provided the eyes , the middle section, and the other arm, and I came up with the pine straw hair, the mouth and the other sections. Abby was oblivious to the entire process.

The snow is still around, surprisingly enough because today it was under 30 degrees for most of the day. I don't think it'll last through the week, but at least the kids got to have some fun with it after it fell. Now that they've experienced snow, it need never snow again in Georgia for all I care. After all, it is part of the reason I moved away from upstate New York. That and all of the dire wolves.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Physical Therapy 101

So a guy walks into a doctor's office and says "Doc, you gotta help me. I smashed my toe into my coffee table this morning and now it's killing me. I think it's broken."

The doctor promptly rears back and punches the guy squarely in the nose, breaking it.

"What the hell'd you do that for?" the patient screams.

The doc says "Bet your toe doesn't hurt any more."

This, in a nut shell, is physical therapy. You go in to their office, complaining of one kind of pain. They then put you through a bunch of exercises so that when you leave, nine other things hurts. Nice!

In my case, the idea is that if I strengthen the muscles around my knee cap, those muscles will hold it into place better, as well ease the pressure placed on the tendon behind it. I must admit that my knee felt a hell of a lot better when I left, however my hip muscles hurt like a son of a bitch. I have also learned that if there were an Olympic event where you squeeze a ball between your knees for ten sets of ten seconds each, there isn't a metal on the periodic table sufficient to express how poorly I'd do in the event. I can only hope that as time goes on, the exercises will get easier. However, at the same time, I know that once I get better at these exercises, there are others waiting in the wings meant to make me feel like I'm a wishbone gripped in the gravy stained hands of your cousins at Thanksgiving dinner.

In more exciting news, I finished the vocal tour on Medium in Rock Band tonight as well as 5-starred "Dirty Little Secret" on Expert. For those looking to form an All-American Rejects tribute band, I await your call.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


It's Wednesday night, and it's snowing. In Georgia.

This picture sums up my thoughts on the matter perfectly.

Linda is her usual chipper self. She also looks darn cute in that hat.

I can only hope that the upcoming rain washes it all away, rather than freezing it to the ground. The daycare implications of such an act are too terrifying to contemplate.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


This was how I spent my work day today. I worked from home, which is important to note. Here goes:

1. Connect to my work's VPN.
2. Log in to my machine with Remote Desktop.
3. Work for approximately a minute.
4. Lose my connection to the VPN.
5. Reconnect to work's VPN.
6. Wait for Remote Desktop to reconnect.
7. Work for approximately a minute.
8. Repeat for steps 1 - 7 for about eight hours.

It was not fun. I have no idea why I couldn't stay connected to my stupid VPN but I seem to have narrowed it down to the router. Why the router would all of the sudden decide to deny me access to my work's network is beyond me but I was not pleased. What makes me even less pleased is the fact that the router isn't all that old, but yet old enough to not be returnable. Thankfully I don't work from home very much, and I still have high hopes that our intrepid IT staff can figure out what's wrong. We'll see. If not, I'll just have to take future working at home days one 55 second interval at a time.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Pain of Laziness

Several years ago, nine or ten, I don't remember, I had knee surgery. Nothing serious, just a little tear in my meniscus, requiring a small piece to be removed. I also had some bone spurs on the back of my kneecap that had to be shaved down. Again, nothing serious. Oh sure, it hurt like hell to walk around, or drive, and stairs were an abysmal experience, but I could walk so I didn't figure it for too much of a bad thing. The surgery wasn't a big deal, just two small incisions and they went in with the little tube-y things to fix it all up. I didn't even need crutches afterwards.

What I did need was physical therapy, the idea being that if the muscles around my kneecap were stronger, they'd better hold the kneecap in place, thereby lessening the threat of future discomfort. I wasn't any smarter nine years ago than I am now, so naturally, I didn't go through with the physical therapy.

Fast forward nine years and my knee is back to hurting. A fair bit actually. Walking hurts, driving hurts and standing while doing Rock Band's vocal tour for an hour and a half definitely hurts, as my knee can now attest to. I went to the orthopedic guy today and luckily, there's no additional damage to the knee, just some tendinitis. While he was working my knee joint to determine my level of mobility he was poking and prodding, asking me how much it hurt, which, honestly, wasn't that much. Then he pressed down on my tendon to simulate some of the forces placed on the tendon throughout the day, and I swear that instead of pushing with his thumb, he instead pushed with a rusty railroad spike because I damn near jumped off the table, and I was lying down. Just thinking about it hurts like hell.

So, as a result, I'm back to where I was nine years ago, namely needing physical therapy. The idea is that I can retrain my knee so that the force placed on the tendon is lessened. We'll see. I also have drugs, however they're not the kind that makes you see flaming blue monkeys. At least I haven't seen any yet. Thankfully it's still early.

So, let this be a lesson to all of you. When your surgeon tells you that you need physical therapy, go ahead and get it. Granted, it's probably a lesson you don't need to learn unless you're an idiot like me, but statistically speaking, there's a good chance you are. It ain't personal, it's just statistics.

What the Hell is Draglade?

That was exactly my thought when I opened the package. Well, it's a fighting game, the review of which you can now read. It makes my heart burst with joy to know I can be the candle that pierces the darkness of your ignorance.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

GameShark GOTY Awards

The Game of the Year awards are up at GameShark and I wrote the write-ups for several of the games. It was a fun exercise entailing the boiling down of what made a game so good into one or two paragraphs. It certainly requires a different way of thinking and, on the plus side, you don't have to talk about the negative parts of the games. Whee. James (our Editor in Chief) did a great job of pulling everything together so if you get a chance, go check it out. Each game's write-up has the author listed, however if you just want to read my stuff, and I don't know why you would as mine is the weakest of the bunch, I wrote stuff for the Rock Band listing in the GOTY category as well as Puzzle Quest and Phantom Hourglass in the DS category and Zack and Wiki in the Wii category.

In other news, Wal-mart canceled my game orders. Of course, they cancel it and then send the letter out explaining the cancellation, which was, in my mind, bad form. I would have liked an explanation first, but oh well. Now, I'm not one to suggest that a company should lose a ton of money simply because their employees are too stupid to check the pricing on their website, but at the same time, if I were to walk into a store and see an item listed for a certain price, I would expect to be able to purchase the item at that price, regardless of whether or not the price was in error. This is, essentially, what went down on the Wal-mart site. I entered, for lack of a better word, saw the item at a certain price and purchased it. This is not a situation where their ad was in error. I didn't see the item advertised for the wrong price and then entered the store to find that the ad was in error, although in lieu of a posted ad correction, I wouldn't be entirely wrong to expect them to honor the incorrect price. This was a simple transaction. They told me how much the item cost and I paid them the agreed upon amount. The fact that the sale was conducted online, shouldn't mean that they can go back on our agreement regardless of whether or not they have the database script to do so.

In the end, it's not that big of a deal. I'll get Smash Brothers for no cash outlay, and I have even more reasons to hate Wal-mart, and myself for continuing to give them my toy buying dollars. In short, nothing has changed.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Their Loss is Your Gain

Were you able to take advantage of the preorder "sale" that went on at today? I put sale in quotes because it would appear that not everyone at the World of Wallace was in on the sale, cause if they were than it would mean that the every person responsible for pricing video games went bat shit crazy.

Super Smash Brothers Brawl for $19.82? Rainbow Six Vegas 2 for $29.82? Condemned 2 for $19.82? These prices represent two things: a savings of $100.51 and madness. There is no other way to describe it, as the pricing strangeness goes both ways. Assassin's Creed for the DS is going for $49.82, a good 15 bucks more than the most expensive of DS offerings. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is retailing for the low, low price of $69.82. While I am happy for those that were able to take advantage of the sale, myself included, I feel bad for anyone who read up on the Apollo Justice game, thought it might be good, and paid 70 bucks for it. I hope that person doesn't exist, but if they do, here's hoping Wal-Mart refunds you the difference. Then again, maybe they won't. Maybe, in an attempt to not get screwed over with all of the low preorder prices, they'll stick with the Apollo Justice pricing and instead screw over the handheld lawyer simulation aficionados, of which there must be countless numbers. Countless.

It will be interesting to see how Walmart responds to this. Of course, I'm hoping that they honor the transaction, however if they don't, I already have Smash Brothers paid off, so no additional money need leave my pocket for me to rain lightning down upon those that dare face off against Pikachu. Condemned 2 was more of an impulse buy. I enjoyed the first one, and since playing it, have not hit a hobo in the face with a cafeteria tray in any situation, real or simulated, so I would expect that I'd enjoy this one. I'm just not sure I'd enjoy it to the price of sixty dollars. The first one had problems, namely that you could play the entire game and not understand anything that happened to you, even after ferreting out the various dead birds, metal pieces, green clovers and purple horseshoes, so I am wary that this game would be similarly unyielding with its secrets. Then again, some of the scariest moments I've had in a game were in the first one, particularly when in the department store with its mannequins of doom. There is also the aforementioned meetings of hobo faces and large, flat implements. For twenty dollars though, it is a must have. I will be sure to keep you up to date as to what happens, but I'm sure if Walmart decides to not honor its commitments, you'll hear a great rending and gnashing of teeth coming from the Intarwebs.

In other news, I finally finished Ratchet and Clank for the PSP and I deem it...acceptable. Actually, it was a great deal of fun, despite the second, mandatory hoverboard race which was constructed in the bowels of hell from the tears of weeping children. If I could, I would gladly go back in time to the moment when 2005 me was ready to plunk down $349 (!) for a PSP at launch and tell that person to wait, just wait. For while the 2005 transaction would bring nothing but resentment and bitter, bitter disappointment, giving the console a few years to ferment, and come into its own would result in nothing but smiles all around.

Finally, if you're wondering what ever happened to the Friday Five, feel free to add me to the list as I have no idea. I think it's because I have a horribly, horribly forgetful mind and a very short attention span, so the shiny bauble I'm currently playing with is easily replaced with the whirling dust mote caught in the noonday sun. Perhaps it will come back, on a Friday when I have nothing to write about. Perhaps it will be replaced with the Friday Funny, or the Day Before Saturday Exclamatory Phrase (Fiddlesticks!). I have no idea and I make no guarantees. The fact that, on any given day, I remember that I have this site is taxing enough. Further defining the content of our interactions is a fruitless endeavor.

Make It Stop

Yet another review for you to pore over. This one is for Ghost Squad. I know, I know. I'm a reviewing machine.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Strange Turn

It would appear that things have taken an odd turn at my work place. The tiniest of Transformers have either given up any notion of finding the Allspark or the Weighted Companion Cube holds sway over man and machine alike. Either way, I think I need to keep a sharper eye on things here. Barricade is the most fervent because he's the only one that can kneel. The rest of the Transformers look on impassively as they don't want to say something and inadvertently start a religious war.

Yet Another Review

My review of Medal of Honor Heroes 2 for the PSP is up and running. This review, and the review of the same game on the Wii, was my first experience writing two different reviews of what is essentially the exact same game, only on different platforms. My second example is the two-fer I did with Geometry Wars: Galaxies, one part of which has already been posted. It's an interesting exercise, as it forces you to be more creative, however it's still not very fun. Oh sure, there will always be different things to write in regards to the visuals and the controls, but that's such a small portion of your review, that you end up having to come up with two different ways to say the exact same thing, and both have to be entertaining.

I have, as in the case of Crash of the Titans been told I can write one review to cover both games, and get paid for playing both, but honestly, when I do that I don't feel like I'm earning my money. Granted, it's not like 50 bucks is an incredible sum, but it's a hell of a lot more than I'd get paid to play games on my own and I am truly grateful for the opportunity GameShark has afforded me so I'm not about to get all uppity about the payment. If the task of writing multiple reviews of the same game gets to be too much, I guess I can just do what they did over at IGN with their Harvey Birdman reviews, namely take the Wii review and cut and paste it into the PSP review, complete with the line about how the reader may be a Sony diehard who would never play a Nintendo game. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure the PSP is a Sony product. Yep. Just checked. It is. Nice one there guys. Way to fucking edit.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

So Long Joe

My friend Dennis emailed me yesterday to find out my reaction to Joe Gibbs's resignation as head coach of the Redskins. While I wanted to wait until the 3PM press conference to weigh in, now that I've read and heard all about it, here is my reaction.

Good for him.

Don't get me wrong, as someone who has been a fan of the Redskins for a quarter of a century now, the very idea of having Joe Gibbs back for another year would have kept me on cloud nine until September. However the man has a family, and his family needs him, particularly his 3 year old grandson who is fighting leukemia. As a man who also has a family, I completely understand what it means to put them first. It's what you do. It's part of the responsibility you take on when you decide to have kids. How can you fault anyone for making changes to their career so that they can be there for their family, much less a 67 year old man who was in a job that occupied, literally, 21 hours of his day?

It's interesting, living here in Atlanta, and being exposed to the Falcons, how they try to pin their failures this year on the "tragedy" of having their star player put in jail for basically being a cruel idiot. They know nothing about tragedy. This is not a contest, to see which team had the worst year, however there is no comparison between having Vick put in jail and Sean Taylor's untimely death. None whatsoever. The Redskins experienced tragedy like no other team has ever had to face, and what did our coach do? He gathered his staff and his team around himself and he brought them all through it. What did the Falcons coach do? He ran away, in the middle of the night no less, to take a job elsewhere, just a few hours after saying that he was here to stay. Now, obviously, it's not the fault of the Falcons that their ex-head coach was a scumbag, but the fact that they signed the guy in the first place, despite his penchant for screwing over his employers, in my opinion, speaks to the character of the organization.

It will be interesting to see who the Redskins pick as the new coach. Obviously, my choice would be someone who is already in the organization, so that we can continue to build on the bonds that formed this year. Whoever they decide to interview, I hope Snyder takes his time rather than rushing to make a decision. He said in yesterday's press conference that Gibbs taught him patience, so hopefully we'll see some.

While we're on the subject of hopes, I hope that Joe's grandson comes out of this fight OK, and gets to have a normal and happy childhood. I hope that the team sees that the bonds they formed this year can exist off the field and serve as a testament to Sean Taylor's memory. I hope that Joe is content with his decision, and still comes around to provide advice and support as needed. Growing up, there were plenty of Redskins to be excited about, guys like Theismann, Riggins, Russ Grimm, Joe Jacoby, Art Monk, Doug Williams, Darrell Green, Dexter Manley and Ernest Byner to name a few. For me though, my favorite Redskin has always been Joe Gibbs, and I don't see that changing any time soon.

Thanks for everything Joe. Best of luck and please don't be a stranger.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

My Words, Just Elsewhere

New Mr. Binky today as well as my review for Dead Head Fred for the PSP. Funny story about Dead Head Fred. I had asked to review a game from GameShark and when the game arrived, Dead Head Fred was with it. I emailed Bill and said that while I'd be happy to review the game, I don't have a PSP. Countless emails later asking just where I should send the game were ignored until it came somewhat of a joke that I had this game and nothing to play it on. Eventually I asked to review Medal of Honor Heroes 2 for the Wii and when I opened up the package, the PSP version was in there as well. Again I remarked that I didn't have a PSP and again it fell on deaf ears.

Eventually I bought the damn system so that I could review the two games, figuring that at least half of the PSP would be paid for with the reviews of the two games. So, fast forward to this month, when Harvey Birdman comes out on both the Wii and the PSP. I ask if I can review it for the PSP, figuring that I can continue to pay the system off, so to speak and I'm told that yeah, I can review it, but the Wii version takes precedence. In short, I had a PSP game for like two months and no system to play it on and once I do get the system, and ask to review a PSP game, I'm told to review the game on another platform. Nice.

The moral of this story is that if you ignore people long enough they'll just do what you want them to. Well, I will anyways. That and Bill is evil.

Oh, and my Mr. Binky column originally had a lead in paragraph that was scrapped for some unknown reason. I'm assuming it was for formatting reasons as once you suggest that the largest video game publisher in the world would be amenable to creating a game where you simulate dousing infants with poison, and that gets printed, there's very little you can count on to be censored.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Big Letdown

When the Redskins made it to the playoffs, I believe I said something along the lines that I didn't care what happened to them as I was just happy that they made it. I am now retracting that statement. Losing in the first round sucked. Big time. I'm still proud of the team, and it's better than not making it at all, however I'll miss reading about the team and getting all pumped up for a game. After the stress that was Saturday's loss, I'm not sure I could have weathered another round, but it would have been nice to go a wee bit farther. Alas, now there's nothing sports related for me to care about until September. Oh sure, I'll follow teams and watch the Super Bowl, if only for the snacks, but it's not nearly the same. Oh well.

I saw Puzzle Quest for the DS at Target this weekend for 15 bucks, and in a moment of weakness I bought it. Truth be told, I never should have gotten rid of it in the first place. I haven't started it up again as I'm just not ready for that kind of addiction again, but I can here it whispering to me from the confines of my DS case. Oh how it whispers. With so many games on the PSP to finish, as well as the Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga I just fired up on the DS, my portable dance card is full. I need to make some progress in those before I start chasing that puzzle dragon. Lego Star Wars is fun, and appears to be a pretty good representation of the Lego franchise on the DS, however it's amazing how much my hatred of the Episodes 1 - 3 of Star Wars makes me not want to play this game. Well, that's not entirely true. The game is fun, and I do want to play it, but not because of the story, or the characters. I want to play it so that I can make neat things out of Legos. I'm hoping that this is where the Lego Batman game will differ. In the case of Batman, I won't know the plot, or already have been disappointed by it, so it'll have the intoxicating mix of novelty and Legos. And Batman. And punching. That's quite the mix.

I started back working out today and I still hate it with a fervent passion, however being able to watch Cheers episodes while working out dulls the rage somewhat. I've probably seen these episodes a dozen times and they still make me laugh which speaks to either their timelessness or my long term memory loss. Either way, I win. And for the record, I too am smokin' in any jacket.

Reviews Abound

My reviews of Medal of Honor Heroes 2 for the Wii and Cooking Mama 2 for the DS are up and ready for you to enjoy, or not enjoy. It's your call, but just remember that the reviews never did anything to you, so be kind.

Friday, January 04, 2008

It's Not You, It's Me

I hadn't planned on not posting yesterday. I also hadn't planned on getting sucked into Ratchet and Clank on the PSP for an hour and a half, but I did, so I didn't post. By the time I got to a viable continue point, I was not in a place of coherence. It happens. This version of R&C is a little on the short side, especially considering that I'm not one to play through again to power up weapons and collect doo-dads and what not, but even with its brevity, it's a fun game and a dead on recreation of R&C for a portable. To be able to reproduce a full on console experience on something you can play on the bus, minus a few buttons on the controller, is an amazing thing. On the DS, you certainly have your fair share of great games, but no one is going to mistake Metroid Prime: Hunters with any of the Prime games on either the GameCube or the Wii. I'm sorry if PSP owners are saying "well, duh" right now, but you have to understand that when I originally bought a PSP it would take roughly 37 galactic cycles to load up one hole in Tiger Woods. I never managed to stay awake to see the graphical output.

I am continuing to make progress in Mass Effect at the expense of progress in Rock Band. I was so excited to buy the two All-American Rejects songs on Christmas day that I promptly proceeded to not play them. Based on the last achievement I just got in Mass Effect I am roughly 75% done with the game and I'm sitting on enough money to buy my own solar system so there's no real reason to go off and do side missions other than to gain experience and make my squad even more of an unstoppable killing machine. That's enough of an incentive for me as I wish us to be so powerful that enemies die once we walk into the room, so futile would their efforts be to oppose us.

The fact that I'm so wrapped up in the game despite it's many, many faults speaks to how engrossing it is. Either that or the game has no faults and instead my grievances are nothing more than the manifestation of my inability to like anything. I'll let you decide as at this point you have spent enough time with me to effectively call bullshit.

Finally, we watched the first three episodes of the new animated Transformers season and while I loved every minute of it, the wife declared that it "was not her thing". I expected as much going into it, however when she actually watched the whole thing rather than retreating to the confines of her Oprah magazine, I thought that maybe she was actually amused. I was wrong. The show certainly has some faults, but overall, I think it's done fairly well. I'm not sure how well the Autobots as superheroes angle will work, but at the same time, I can see how they writers would yearn for the creative freedom of not having to have their story's main characters constantly hiding from the show's residents. Also, the lack of Peter Cullen's voice is grating, despite the quality voice work in the show. I'm sure he'll show up at some point, just as Adam West portrayed the Grey Ghost in an episode of Batman: The Animated series. And, just as in the case of Mr. West, Cullen's soothing tones will be like a trip back in time, to when feety pajamas were the fashion of the day, and a bowl of cereal was an acceptable dinner.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

New Review

My review of Geometry Wars: Galaxies for the DS is up and ready for your unblinking gaze. Be gentle!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year

Greetings on this, the second day of 2008. At least I'm assuming it's January 2nd when you're reading this, but really, I have no way of knowing. Please be sure to double check the date. I don't want to be responsible for you fucking up your checks.

I hadn't planned on taking a break from writing over the holidays, but that hey, breaks happen. I certainly had the time, what with absolutely nothing going on at work, but instead I chose to stare blankly at the monitor, wondering why I didn't take more time off. I also finished up my Six Sigma training which was horribly, horribly boring. Whee.

Of course, the big to do at Hyphenridge is the Redskins' gloriously surprising journey to the playoffs. I don't want to jinx the team by going off on how well I think we're going to do, but I will say that after everything the team has been through this year, I'm very happy that they're able to make a trip to the post season, win or lose. When I read in the Atlanta papers every day about all the tragedy the Falcons went through this year, and how it was only natural for them to do so poorly this season, I feel nothing but pride for my Redskins as they have had a far, far worse time this season and have responded better than I think anyone expected, including me. I'm disappointed in myself that I didn't buy a Sean Taylor jersey earlier so that I could have it for the playoffs, but I'll get one this month when they start stocking them again. In the meantime, my stable of jerseys will do us just fine.

In gaming news, I've been playing a ton of Mass Effect and making pretty good progress, both in the story and in grinding for achievements. I'd like to get all of the achievements for this game, but it's going to take at least three, if not four complete runs and I don't know if I have the attention span for that. With so many great games still out there unplayed by your's truly, I don't know if I can justify spending another 60 hours, on top of whatever I have left, just to get all of the points. Instead, I'll probably see how I can get the most amount of points from one more run and then call it a day. We'll see. Thankfully the release calendar has ceased its relentless assault, so I have nothing but free time until the black hole that is Super Smash Brothers Brawl drops in February. That should give me plenty of time to finish Mass Effect, Half-Life 2: Episode 2 and the various tours in Rock Band. I also have Odin Sphere coming via GameFly so I'll need to find time for that one too, but given that game's purported length (40+ hours) it may end up lost to the sands of time. I'd like to play Assassin's Creed and Super Mario Galaxy at some point as well. Curse my lack of free time!

Sadly I have to return to working out in 2008 as my pants are all a wee bit tighter from my holiday eating. Bummer. I'm hoping that my idea of ripping TV shows from DVD to my PSP will keep my interested enough to stick with it. Between all of the seasons of Cheers, and the various Batman cartoons, I have something like 130 hours of TV which, at 2 hours a week should keep me occupied for some time. First up is Cheers with a small break to plow through the latest season of The Batman.

I know none of this is horribly interesting but it's going to take a little time before I shake the rust off and get into the really uninteresting stuff. I hope that everyone is doing well, that your holidays were filled with joy and merriment and that you're well on your way to breaking all of your resolutions for the new year.