Milo And Me…And Aragorn Makes Three

It has begun

It has already begun.

Okay, so yeah. Blog has had to take a backseat to things like “having found a job” and “wanting to stay employed” and “Gee, my house sure is dirty since I went back to work or my standard of living is just higher now”.

My apologies but things are probably going to be sporadic from here on out unless I develop a means of staying awake for twenty-seven hours a day. But anyways, onward to today’s blog. Milo, Me and LotR: Aragorn’s Quest.

First up we have Milo. But before I even get into why this is a bad idea, I feel like we should take a step back and look at the overall failure of the name “Natal”. Yes Microsoft, you have beaten Nintendo’s Wiimote and can now shuffle out your own brand of shovelware crap for consumers to shift through. You can also use it to exercise and blah, blah, blah. Which is pretty frickin’ sweet, I’ll give you that. And if for some reason, my readers have been living in a cave and missed the tech demo for this new technology, see below.

So again, pretty cool and one step closer to the promise of the PS9. But my beef is with calling it “Natal”. Did your marketing reps not take English in college? Or Biology for that matter? You do realize how that word is pronounced yes? If you wanted to call it “Natall” you either needed to to suck it up and put that extra “L” in there or shove a snazzy apostrophe mark over one of the letters or something. Because as it stand right now, when I think Microsoft, I think pre-term babies. And I seriously doubt that’s the image you wanted from your test groups. Just a thought.

But on the meat of this part of my post. MILO.

Holy shit Microsoft! WHY?! I mean, yeah it’s neat that he recognizes faces and movement and can draw a pretty picture and give it to you and then tell you what you drew and it’s all fun and games until he becomes self-aware and starts replicating and telling your toaster that maybe it doesn’t want to be a slave to the whims of toaster strudel cravings and before we know it, SkyNet is live, I, Robot is real and we’re all serving as batteries for the robot overlords. And I’ll have to blame you instead of Japan which is just. Plain. WRONG. So please, think of the children…also, I don’t want to remind the TV to do its homework. I have a hard enough time getting my own kids to do theirs. Although I can’t threaten to unplug them if they don’t…hmmm.

Speaking of kids (I know, a pretty weak segway), there have been rumblings on the internet. The kind of rumblings that speak of angry fanboys rising up as one to protest the rape of a beloved series. And what is the subject of their wrath? Lord of the Rings. EA has finally allowed their death grip on the franchise to expire and Warner Bros. was quick to snatch up the IP. And horror of horrors! They’re putting out a child friendly version of the game called Aragorn’s Quest. Pulling design elements from Mario and Zelda, the game is seriously lacking in blood and gore, which apparently is all fanboys care about. Oh, that and super-fantastic-uber-realistic face renderings. How DARE they make it cartoony!? Want to know what all the hub-bub is about? Here’s the trailer and handful of screenshots. Judge for yourself.

Shire In AutumnAragorn

Personally, I think the naysayers are just missing the times. Not every game coming out these days is aimed at the hardcore gamer and I think we’re having issues adjusting. Casual gamers are like the new baby and we’re all just jealous that that little squalling bundle of bones is getting all the attention when it can’t even GRENADE JUMP yet. But I think this is a great idea. My kids love magic and swords and all that jazz but blood and gore is a little too advanced for them at the ages of eight and four. And as a gamer parent, it’s a way for me to bond with them; to play along and explain the story without fear of emotional trauma or nightmares about Orks.

So with all the gripes, I hope Warner Bros. ignores the cacophony. With all the crap and total dregs of barrel being released for unsuspecting “new” gamers, a quality title would be a breath of fresh air.

Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest for the Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest for the Wii, PS2 and the DS is RP and slated for release in the Fall of 2009.

PETA Finally Discovers Games…fuck.

...you know, except for that new steakhouse I just opened.

...you know, except for that new steakhouse I just opened.

PETA has never been my favorite group of people. While I do believe that animals should be treated humanely, I draw the line at picketing KFC. I like chicken and for fucks sake, they’re chickens.

But now PETA has decided that killing more animals per year than anyone else, promoting celebrity spokespeople that seem unclear on what their shilling for and harassing rich women in heirloom fur coats is not enough. Clearly, the real threat…is video games. Yes PETA, video games are killing the defenseless animals. They’re also responsible for any child born after 1980 being a degenerate and every mass shooting in the last two decades. All right, I know that sounded snippy, but come on. Let’s look at the how they’re “utilizing this medium to promote their cause.”

Yes. Seriously.

Yes. Seriously.

Back in November of last year, conveniently in time for Thanksgiving, PETA introduced this gem in all its copyright infringement glory; taking players through the “horror” and “graphic-ness” of gutting, cleaning and generally preparing a turkey. In the end, win or lose, the player is treated to a video montage of the cruelty inflicted on commercially raised turkey. I’m not sure who this was aimed at? Is PETA trying to scar kids early in the hopes that their trauma will lead to a vegan lifestyle instead of a phobia of turkeys? Are they aiming for the hard to capture demographic of “Microwaving-kittens-is-fun-but-Dad-said-he-kill-me-if-I-did-it-again”? All this really did, as far as I can tell, is prove that PETA has no regard for brand name property and also doesn’t understand the type of people that play Cooking Mama. On a side note: Cooking Mama also has PLENTY of vegetarian dishes so it seems even more ridiculous. It’d be different if Cooking Mama was hooking electrodes up to cow testicles as a way of tenderizing…but she wasn’t. Side note of side note: I’d totally play that game.

Kill that seal! It's rare and drops epics!

Kill that seal! It's rare and drops epics!

Every year, thousands of baby seals are mercilessly crushed to death by heartless Canadians…according to PETA. In fact, seals are a plague and if only they looked like cicadas instead of fluffy balls of sad puppy eyes, no one would care. But they don’t, so we do. In order to combat this atrocity PETA set up a WoW account and was going to have Horde players killing baby seals. The idea was to get people to “stop” them and thus bring attention to their cause. On a single server. Sadly, PETA again failed to understand their audience and instead of “Stop Clubbing Baby Seals” the event degenerated into flame wars and fights. After all, why the HORDE? Wouldn’t the Alliance be just as likely to kill cute and cuddly creatures? Why is the Horde always the villain? Taurens are a very earth-friendly race and not evil at all and blah, blah, blah…you get the point.

Oh my GOD! Nazi dog...run!

Oh my GOD! Nazi dog...run!

Even history isn’t safe from PETA. This was recently reinforced by their disdain for the way dogs were portrayed in Call of Duty:World at War. Apparently, gunning down rabbid dogs who had been trained specifically to kill people is wrong. Nevermind that it endangers human life;  humans are far less important that the poor, snarling puppies. Never mind that it actually happened. PETA is going 1984 on this shit. If we act like it never happened….it never happened. Wait, is PETA holocaust deniers too? Anyway, in order to show CoD:WoW devs how to properly care for animals, they were all sent a complimentary copy of Nintendogs…that they promptly gave to their daughters and went back to making zombie nazis.

Oh, the humanity!!

Oh, the humanity!!

PETA and the circus have never gotten along. But I think it says something about the state of a game when I don’t even know of its existence until PETA starts to protest it. Such is the case with Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus: The Game. Yes. Seriously. And because the circus, by law, abuses any animal in its possession (particularly those uppity elephants. Who do those bitches think they are; all painting and counting and having a complex society?) the GAME is under attack by PETA. They aren’t even trying with this one. They aren’t angry about the game, but the fact that a gaming company would dare to go into business with something as innately evil as a circus. Really, PETA? Really?

And I’m sure there’s more. While only mildly game related, there is the recent debacle over Google using goats to cut their grass. Apparently feeding animals and saving the environment AT THE SAME TIME just isn’t good enough for some people.

Imagine: A Rant

Every now and then, when my daughter (who is four) is happily shooting mutants with her older brother or using Princess Peach to smack down Kirby and the Ice Climbers (because Peach is wearing a pink dress and therefore that makes her the best character ever…duh) I sometimes wonder if maybe she shouldn’t be. After all, is knowing how to use a lightsaber or sneaking through a museum in a potted plant really what I want my daughter to learning at this age? Then I look at the alternative and the answer is, “Dear God in Heaven, yes!”

Because games for girls, to my knowledge, mostly consist of vapid pieces of throw-away garbage. It’s not entirely the game developers fault. After all, they’ve been catering to this new and frightening girl market for only a handful of years and probably just figured they’d stick with what was safe. And then there are the non-gamer parents that don’t want little Suzey to learn how to properly defend herself when the inevitable zombie hordes rise to kill us all. But really guys, it’s getting out of hand. I like fru-fru girly stuff as much as the next chick but when even I feel ready to tap out rather than be subjected to another cutesy mini-game collection of “appropriate” girl activities, something has gone amiss.

Think I’m being overly dramatic? Blowing things out of proportion? Well think again. Have you seen this? Ubisoft, I love you…really. You’ve given me Prince of Persia, Assassin’s Creed, Beyond Good and Evil and Resident Evil 4, among many others. But for the love of GOD, please stop putting out THIS!

Yes, little girls might want to be all these things (and any of the other dozen Imagine games you’ve put out in the last year and a half like a puppy mill on crack), but playing ‘what I want to be when I grow up’ is not an all encompassing past-time. Not to mention I don’t see an Imagine: Astronaut or Biologist or Firefighter or Police Officer. Which could just be because they wouldn’t make good minigames…but if you can make an entire game that revolves around dressing up dogs, surely you can make putting out fire fun. Hell, the arcades already did it.

And you got to use pretend hoses and everything! Surely it wouldn’t be so hard to render a girl’s face and splash some pink into an occupation that doesn’t scream “female stereotype”. Or, if you’re hellbent on continuing this crusade, along with encouraging the undulating masses of cheap knock-offs that spill off the local GameStop and Best Buy shelves, at least be an equal opportunity sexist. Start a boy’s line of Imagine games. Imagine: Plumber, Construction Worker, and Lawyer.

So until developer’s realize that girls don’t necessarily need to be coddled due to their sex, I’ll let my daughter play Metroid when she feels the needs to be a girl. After all, a chick with a gun and full body armor doesn’t need a prince.


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What the “Flock!” Capcom?

Well, Flock me!

Well, Flock me!

Have you heard about “Flock!” ?  If yes, please skip down to where Capcom deceived me in my stupor this morning. If no, please check out the following explanation and video.

Flock is your basic herding game. I know, the herding animals genre is so overdone, but stay with me. In Flock, you play from a third-person top down view. As aliens, the clearest way to understand life on this planet is to use your spaceship (a la 1950’s B-movie fame) to rack up points by scaring the crap out of domesticated livestock and get them onto the mothership. Only through this process can you truly grasp the horrors of rural Earth living.

However, the tricksy humans have put up “fences” and “obstacles” to keep their herds right where they should be; grazing on hormone injected grass and getting obscenely obese. Mmmm, genetically engineered cows. So you must use the physics based gameplay ( ie: your laser beam PEW PEW) to pick up objects and crash through the obstacles. And of course, you have a time limit. The mothership doesn’t pay overtime bitches; punch out is at 5pm SHARP!

So call me girly or a heretic or whatnot (please save your pitch forks until the end of the article) but based on these gameplay trailers…

AND

…I was as estatic as possible at 8 am to see this giant headline this morning.

CAPCOM’S FLOCK! AVAILABLE TO DOWNLOAD ACROSS ALL PLATFORMS

Huzzah! I thought and rushed to my 360 to download the game. Twenty minutes and no game later, I’m thinking “WTF Xbox?” Did they crash the game? Forget to put it up? Hate me and don’t want me to enjoy aliens herding animals? No. For once, Xbox is not to blame. It was Capcom. The bloody liars. In their defense, maybe I should have actually, you know, READ the whole press release, which said:

…today launched their newest digital download, FLOCK!. The Windows PC version launches today April 7, the Xbox LIVE® Arcade version for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft launches tomorrow, April 8, and the PlayStation®Network version launches on Thursday, April 9.

Damn you! Apparently, Capcom is playing favorites and Xbox is the middle child. But then, at the bottom OF THE SAME PRESS RELEASE it says:

Rated E for Everyone, FLOCK! is now available to download for Xbox LIVE Arcade for Xbox 360, PlayStation®Network and Windows PC.

But what else should I expect from the same company that cockteases Resident Evil fans about run-and-shoot gameplay only to pull the rug out from under them at the last moment?

So now here I am, all ready to herd some sheep and I have to wait another damn twelve-plus hours?! In this day and age of instant gratification, that’s like…like…twelve weeks!

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Bottoms Up!

st-patrick-s-day

To show appreciation for St. Patrick’s Day (Tuesday, the 17th) I really wanted to do a list of my favorite video games that allow the character’s to imbibe alcohol. I really wanted to. But alas, there seemed to be no Google cache for me to mine for ideas. Only an ESRB link claiming that they’ve rated 157 games as having “Use of Alcohol.” However, they will only show me the first 25. Stupid broken links.

Amazing really that no one has delved into this subject before. Makes me want to do a list of my favorite instances of sex in video games too. But that’s for another day. So without the mighty Internet to guide my steps, my husband and I sat down to recall our most memorable alcohol induced gaming moments.

  1. Chrono Trigger: This game signifies the first time in my gaming life that consumption of liquid actually affected the characters. Sure, I’d imbibed any number of strange potions beforehand…the platform games of my youth were littered with the notion that anything found on the ground, in a block or box was safe and perfectly fine to ingest…but drinking in Chrono Trigger produced text boxes with *hiccup* or slurred speech. And it encouraged binge drinking contests for little reward. A great precursor to college. Thanks SNES!
  2. Everquest: I still remember what character I was on the first time I drank multiple bottles of cheap beer in EQ. My poor little Wood Elf. Up until that point, alcohol might have made for funny dialogue in an RPG, but the bizarre way the world warped after six beers is my first memory of drinking affecting gameplay. Suddenly that gnome six inches from me looked like he was twenty feet away. And hey! Why was my character listing to the right? I even remember a time when I moved the wrong way and clipped into a wall, remaining stuck until such time as the effects of my excessive drinking wore off.
  3. WarCraft II: My husband recalls many a time playing as Orks only to find them bored at the barracks. And what do bored Orks do? Get drunk and beat the crap out of each other! (Like any loosely based Irish race would) Of course, this comes as a detriment since the Empire had the uncanny knack for attacking en masse as soon as the Orks had decided to kill each other, making victory difficult to obtain. Although it did teach a valuable lesson in busy work, aka mindless patrols.
  4. Grand Theft Auto IV: My cousin innocently suggests grabbing a beer at the local tavern. I figure why not? Two hours later, Niko is stumbling out of the bar (which you can’t go in for whatever reason -_-) and is only loosely under my control. Just getting into the car is an exercise in physics and patience. But once I managed it, then the real fun began! Who knew drinking and driving was so much fun? No wonder people risk bodily injury, jail and excruciatingly painful death. And little known fact; once you drop off your friend/cousin, the cops assume you’re sober and live you alone.

But those are just mine…and one of my husband’s. I know there are at LEAST 154 more out there. What alcohol induced moments are ingrained in your brain? What fuzzy, inappropriate childhood memory do you cherish? Let me know. In honor of St. Patrick, the patron saint of liver disease!

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Undead Invade Industry Undetected

7748_dead-rising01The zombies are coming! The zombies are coming! Err wait, they’re already here…and no one seems to mind. Awesome.

At least this is the only logical conclusion I can come to. In the last year the game industry has been literally overrun with zombie games, ranging from gory to silly to thought provoking. Don’t believe me? Well then Mr. Skeptic, here is a partial list I came up with off the top of my head after staring at my computer screen for ten minutes.

1. Teenage Zombies: A tongue in cheek DS title that slipped under the radar last April.

2. Left 4 Dead: One of the top Games of the Year. Easily spotted.

3. Resident Evil 5: Zombies go on safari.

4. House of the Dead: Overkill: Wii exclusive prequel to the original title.

5. Zombie Infection: Even your cell phone isn’t safe. Contest for tickets to Comic Con make this flash game even more dangerous.

6. Call of Duty: World At War: Nazis? Zombies? NAZI ZOMBIES?! We can’t kill these things fast enough.

7. Dead Rising: Chop til You Drop: Wii exclusive. Self-explanatory title.

8. Fallout 3: I’m counting the Ghouls here. They’re zombies by another name.

9. Dead Space: Creepy mutated space zombies still count.

10. Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers: Yes, this is real. No, I’m not kidding. Also available on 360!

11. Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ: Contra style Gameplay + fairy tales + zombies = bizarrely entertaining DS title.

The two iffiest in that list, as my husband so kindly pointed out, are Dead Space and Fallout 3 since technically neither are classic zombies. But neither species in either game is living or not actively decaying, so I’m counting them. Take that as you will.

The question then becomes why the sudden glut of zombie killing goodness? After all, the oldest title on my list isn’t even a year old. Sure, there were zombies around before that, but mostly in rail shooters in the arcade or in the staple Resident Evil series. So what happened? Oh, lots of things. Some have suggested our renewed love of zombies stems from the repetitive mindlessness of modern living, such as Shagtee’s opinion . Interesting read there, by the way.

I think the release of Shaun of the Dead in theaters and Dead Rising on the 360 brought a sharper spotlight to the shambling undead. After all, people may feel some remorse killing another human…be it mobster, Nazi or random ninja #78, but killing the undead not only feels good, it feels damn good! But what kind of undead can mere humans kill like so many lemmings? Certainly not vampires, as proven by the ill-fated Vampire Rain for the Xbox 360. Even Alucard and the other, ever-expanding cast of Castlevania can’t keep a good vampire down.

Enter the zombie. The red shirt army of the fantasy world. He doesn’t ask for much. Just a road to shamble down, a brain to eat and maybe a shadow to lurk in. With most games needing a fall guy for the hero to mow down, the undead are a masterpiece of ‘false difficulty’. They might all have one hit point, but there’s two hundred of them. Now what, Mr. Only-has-three-rounds-left? Mwa-ha-ha-ha.

Ahem. Sorry about that. So whether it’s our own masochistic need to destroy a strawman of modern living, our need to satiate our bloodlust without remorse or the visceral thrill of fear at the thought of being eaten alive, the game industry has found that nerve and is going to poke it for all it’s worth. I, for one, couldn’t be happier. Braaaaiiiinnnssss.

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Discovering Mobile Gaming

Glorious gaming.

Glorious gaming.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m out of the loop. But the last time I had a phone that could play games, I was moving a pixilated snake around the screen to eat dots. I’ve been living in the darks ages of “need to eat” instead of “spiffy phone” for too long.

But no more! I’ve thrown off the shackles of low tech phones (thanks Unlce Sam!). And boy, have things come a long way.

The phone sucked me in with its pretty graphics and demo of Guitar Hero. ‘How do I play that without a guitar?’ I wondered. That was what they wanted me to ask. Sneaky bastards. Turns out you play with the top row of the QWERTY keypad but that’s not the point. The point is the damage was done. Before I knew it, I was at my provider’s website scrolling through dozens, nay, hundreds of games. It was like video game Mecca in there. All this time, I could’ve been playing Oregon Trail while waiting in the checkout line! How have I even lived without this?

Sure I knew that games like Bejeweled and Diner Dash and other casual games were out there for the phone. I like those types but never thought I’d buy them. However, killing zombies while waiting for my lunch? Shooting spaceships to keep the road rage at bay in bumper to bumper gridlock? Hell yes! And all in wonderful detailed color reminescent of the SNES or Sega.

So, all two of you readers, don’t be surprised if a mobile review or two pops up here and again. But for now, I’m off to die of dysentery.

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