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February 2008 Archives

Interview with Patapon Artist on GameSetWatch

patapon-eyes.jpgI love Patapon. I love it so hard. I am entranced by the deep and unique gameplay and the gorgeous artwork. It's a complete package rarely seen in video games, and over at GameSetWatch there's an insightful interview with the French minimalist artist who worked on Patapon who goes by the name Rolito. Check out the article here, and if you haven't picked up the $20 PSP instant classic, I think less of you as a human being.

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Warcraft in the Real World

kek.jpgI was a horrible student, both in high school and in college. I resented having to take classes that I knew had no bearing on my future interests, and ended up getting quite poor grades even though I was perfectly capable of completing the tasks and taking the tests. I just didn't show up. As my college career wore on I was able to focus more on my own interests, including art history. My 400-level art history classes in college were my absolute favorite, taught by the brilliant William Folkestad. I was fascinated by art of previous decades and how important all of it seemed. How we live in a post-post-post-post modern world and how it feels like all the good art is behind us. Performance art fascinated me the most, and the happenings of the 1970's excited me. Performance art in the States today is a bit stifled, barring the antics of groups like Improv Everywhere and the Graffiti Research Lab. But in Europe? It seems to flourish.

Artists in Europe have embraced home brew technology. They utilize it in amazing ways, and many of their techno-flavored interests are leaking into the video game realm. Take these two projects, influenced by the omnipresent World of Warcraft and Second Life, presented by a man named Aram Bartholl (seen above with the giant axe-thing). Aram is creating World of Warcraft weapons that he plans on carrying around in Berlin, most likely documenting people's reactions to something so common in the virtual world, but so foreign in the actual. Playing with context and shaking up the way you see your daily life is what art is all about, and the increase in popularity of video games is providing great inspiration for this process.

0aaohhowlovely.jpgThe other project that fascinated me is this one which allows two people to chat at each other using over-the-head word bubbles. Again, taking something commonly seen in a video game and transporting it into the real world. The effect is at the same time amusing and jarring.

You can view more of Aram's stuff over at We Make Money Not Art, and read more about the neat stuff that is happening over across the water.

[link via (and images taken from) WMMNA]

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The Perfect Drug is the new hardness

Practice makes perfect, they say, and I have been practicing the drums on Rock Band like some sort of drum beat-craving fiend. Mainly I am obsessed with the drums because I believe I have no real sense of rhythm, and I like the challenge. I've been slowly increasing my skills (almost) daily, and have now reached a point where I am confident in playing any given song on hard difficulty, and can even complete some expert songs in the 90% range. There's no way in hell I will ever be able to complete The Perfect Drug on expert, I have decided after watching this insane video of someone just rocking the crap out of those weird random beats. Marvel at the mad skillz and join me in feeling completely inadequate.

[link via X3F]

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Masterstroke

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What you see before you is a comic from Start.no chronicling the pinnacle of human achievement. Were you to actually achieve greatness of this magnitude I imagine that Bill Gates himself would approach you with a large gray cardboard achievement icon. While I realize Tetris isn't a Microsoft property, even men such as Bill are obligated to bow in the face such skill.

[Via NotCot]

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Omega: The Unknown

OMEG001_dc.jpgI've been a Jonathan Lethem fan since I read his first book, Gun, With Occasional Music, a futuristic detective story as written by the love-child of Raymond Chandler and Philip K. Dick. Lethem wrote a few more science fiction novels before writing Motherless Brooklyn, whose main character is man with Tourette's Syndrome. It is an unbelievably fantastic novel and, if you haven't read it, you should do so immediately. His latest offerings, however, have not lived up to the promise of his earlier work and it seems, at least to me, that he has discovered there's more money in writing about music lovers who may or may not love each other than post apocalyptic fiction.

That said, he has not completely left his love of sci-fi behind. As well as recently editing a collection of the works of the aforementioned Philip K. Dick, he is also writing a ten issue series of Omega: The Unknown for Marvel with art by Farel Dalrymple. The character was created by Steve Gerber and Mary Skrenes and ran for ten issues in the late 70s. The story is interesting because of its focus, not so much on the titular Omega, but on his child companion James-Michael Starling who are connected in mysterious ways. The first issue of Lethem's run is available, for free, online and is worth checking out.

[Via SF Signal]

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Deadliest Catch Game Announced - I have a crush on the Hansen Brothers

Captain Sig Hansen from Deadliest Catch (is awesome)There, I said it. I totally have crushes on the Deadliest Catch captains. They are soooooooo dreamy. Last summer I spent a little too much time watching their seafaring and crab-catching antics on the Discovery channel. If you've never seen the show, I highly recommend it. The intensity is almost palpable. Imagine my delight when I found out that there is a Deadliest Catch game in development for the Xbox 360 and PC, being made with the help of the Hansen brothers from the show! From the press release:

"Deadliest Catch Alaskan Storm" lets gamers captain their own boat in the frenzied search for an undersea jackpot. Gamers select one of five real crab boats, including the Northwestern, Cornelia Marie and Sea Star -- all featured on the series, or create and customize their own boat. Gamers then recruit and lead their own crew from a roster of twenty real crab fishermen. Selecting the wrong boat or recruiting the wrong crew member can mean the difference between landing a Bering Sea jackpot or disaster. Lead your fatigued, hungry and hardworking crew in the strategic search for King Crab and Opilio Crab, while battling to secure your catch and livelihood before other captains and crews get to the crab first.

Apparently they invited the game developers to join them on a crab run in the Bering Sea to see what life out on the open ocean is really like. I'm all for authenticity, and it sounds like the developers are pretty enthusiastic about the title. It will feature the main career mode with authentic ships from the series, minigames for stuff like throwing the hook, and 34,000 miles of actual authentic coastline.

I think I just peed myself.

[link via Gamerscore blog]

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Updated: PLAYSTATION 3 80gig Dualshock 3 bundle coming?

Playstation 3Hot off the virtual presses from Kotaku, Metal Gear Solid 4 finally has a release date (June 12, 2008). Also included in the announcement is the sweet, sweet rumor that an 80gig PLAYSTATION 3 bundle with MGS4 and a Dualshock 3 controller will ship at the same time. Finally, my waiting and whining will pay off. I've been shopping around on eBay for the last few weeks once I heard that the 80gigs were being taken off the shelf, because I thirst for backwards compatibility. Oh, the thirst! Also now that my HD-DVD player has become a paperweight, it would be nice to start building a library of Blu-Ray movies that I can actually, you know. Watch.

Cross your fingers and pray to Kojima that this rumor comes true.

UPDATE: confirmed!

[link via Kotaku]

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Podcast for 02-25-08 | Superheroes

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With HD-DVD dead, the geeks from The Weekly Geek somehow manage to make a podcast in these most dire of times. Yea, though the apocalypse is upon us, we can still enjoy ranting and raving about video games and movies. This week, Chris, Mack and Qais discuss the wonders that are Wondercon and the Game Developer's Conference, expanding into discussion of community games, digital downloads, media wars, how much cooler Rock Band is versus Guitar Hero, the virtues of Leonardo DiCaprio and how DC will never really kill off their characters, even though they say they will. Liars.

Download the podcast here, and subscribe to the feed! Show notes after der jump.

I apologize for the audio quality of the podcast, we had technical issues again which makes me and Qais sound quiet and Mack sound really loud. Good for Mack, I guess!

continue reading "Podcast for 02-25-08 | Superheroes"

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Total Party Kill: Greetings. It’s Warhammer Day.

WarhammerCondemned_01a.jpgSteven is an experienced writer in the fields of comic books and tabletop gaming, and he is probably the nerdiest person on The Weekly Geek staff. That is a compliment. Please welcome Steven to The Weekly Geek! --Chris

Hey, folks! Great to be here. I’ll be updating you at least a couple times a week with things I find of interest from the wild, untamed weird lands of comic books and tabletop games (war, board, roleplay). If you know of anything you think I should check out or yap about, please drop me a line.

There are a couple announcements today which are Warhammer related; and since I’m a huge Warhammer fanboy, I figured mentioning these would make for a good first post.

Recently, the gaming world found out that Black Library (a division of Games Workshop) was dropping Black Industries, their boardgaming and roleplaying publishing arm. People freaked out, naturally, wailing about the horror of a world without Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition, the Warhammer 40,000: Dark Heresy RPG, and the excellent Talisman 4th Edition boardgame. I should know-- I was one of them! Anyway, good news fellow nerdlings: Fantasy Flight Games picked up the licence to produce Warhammer RPGs, boardgames, and collectible card games. Read what they have to say here. Though welcome news, it comes as no surprise to me. I suspected before that FFG would be in the running for this simply because they seem to be trying to take over the world (I'm kidding FFG! No need to send Da Boyz to put me in line... 'kay?). I’ve always been satisfied with their products, so I’m thinking these properties are safe in their hands. We’ll just have to wait and see.

continue reading "Total Party Kill: Greetings. It’s Warhammer Day."

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XNA Demos: First Impressions, Pt. 1

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Before my take is completely washed over by an assault of white noise from the echo chamber (I can feel my inner ear giving way already), I wanted to post my first impressions on the recent XNA demo launches. The select few that I played gave me faith in the little guys. Small game developers often have the most glorious ideas because, for the most part, they're like us. They want to have fun playing games. The money is irrelevant when you're coding out of hobbyist fervor - so, instead of stale franchises sucking the life out of our collective gamer soul, you get interesting, novel games.

Hit the jump for short blurbs on the first three game demos I played and my assessment as to whether you should waste your hard-earned Microsoft Points on them if/when they hit the actual XBLA stage.

continue reading "XNA Demos: First Impressions, Pt. 1"

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The Club (PC) Winner

theclub.jpgThe other day I asked you guys to come up with a name for a super secret death club in order to win a PC copy of Sega's The Club, released this week. There were some awesome entries, but since this is a contest where the winner is chosen at random, the winner is Nick! His super secret death club is named "T34m 1337 G33k". Bonus points for lack of letters I guess!

Congratulations to Nick! Your game will soon be in the mail.

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The Source Fource

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Meet Office Master and Windows Vista Sensei. They are members of "The Source Fource" a group of super heroes that represent different software applications offered by Microsoft, including such luminaries as ISV Super Gal, a young lady who's family made their money in beef and who left in disgrace after a particularly embarrassing cafeteria faux pas and the cleverly named Virtual Labs Guy, a gentleman who seems to have tried to sodomize a piece of heavy machinery at some point in his life and is now a paraplegic with a set of wheels cruelly fused to the bottom of his torso.

There are seven of these characters, making the misspelling of "force" appear merely perfunctory for, as we all know, nothing says "hip" and "cool" like puns. What's more, there are figurines of all them which can only be received by signing up for MSDN® Webcasts and Virtual Labs and attending events on these services. A few seem to have been given away and are now lost to you forever, but do not despair there are more on the way.

[Link via Super Punch]

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Geek Chic: Tetrice makes your pad that much cooler

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We at The Weekly Geek know that not all of us fulfill the stereotype of slovenly, unkempt wretch, and for those we have a new feature: Geek Chic, bringing you the finest in geeky home furnishings. To those fulfilling the stereotype; pay attention, you might just learn something.

Say the word LAN party to someone uninitiated in the ways of our strange congregations and you'll likely hear derisive humor about dimly lit basements, tangible smells, and nests of Redbull cans in which exhausted marathoners collapse to slumber. While this is the case in some instances it need not be so and certainly isn't the case all the time. Geek gatherings can be classy affairs, complete with pinky-out sipping of beverages as you blast the everliving crap out of your friends. As the resident chic geek, I am here to assist in these endeavors.

What better addition to your tinkling glasses of Redbull infused concoctions than a handful of Tetrice? Not only is this better than a handful of dirty ice from the back of a freezer bucket, but it enables you to express your dominance over your peers before you even touch a keyboard or controller. With your Tetrice filled drinks you send a subtle message of superiority to your pals, and with each sip their fear and admiration will grow.

Sure, Tetrice won't assist in your performance, but after the day is done and you've kicked all those camping assholes out of your apartment you can take solace in the knowledge that yours is the mostly finely adorned geek den.

[Via NOTCOT]

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Game Slave

9f38_3.JPGI took a brief hiatus from games just after the SNES. My brother and I scrimped and saved our allowances for almost a year, making it one of our most treasured possessions. However, by the end of my high school days money was best spent on other things like petrol and insurance for my horseless carriage, saving for even more schooling, and a bevy of substances of varying degrees of legality. All these expenses added up and the job I had didn't pay enough for me to engage in the pursuit of videogames so I took a sabbatical, which is to say that I spent all my time hanging out with people who could afford such electronic frivolities. Regardless, I feel like I skipped a generation.

Fast forward a few years and, with a bit more money in my pocket and Sega stumbling, dazed and confused, towards a horrible death, I purchase a Dreamcast at a significant discount. It is still one of the best purchases I ever made, and I fully understand the sentimental feelings that people display for Sega's swan song. It is with awe, then, that I perused this auction. What kind of person collects 606 Dreamcast games, their glimmering, virgin surfaces protected and encased inside untouched pockets of cellophane? How much time, energy, and currency had it required to amass this collection? How much money can one get for one's kidney? Is human trafficking that difficult?

All these questions ran through my mind but alas they must remain unanswered for the auction has ended, seemingly with no bids. Why? Perhaps the seller, tortured by the thought of being parted from their precious beauties, withdrew them. Maybe they never had any intention of selling them, merely using eBay as a tool to show off their treasures and instill as much vociferous geek envy in as many people as possible. More than likely, though, they received a private email offering a substantial sum to end the auction early, most likely with one or two Slavic girls thrown in to sweeten the deal.

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Yea, though I walk through the Uncanny Valley of Death...

skull-system.jpgThe Weekly Geek rarely works blue, but I came across an image over at my favoritest site in the world, Portal of Evil, that threw me into such a paroxysm of horror that I still can't get over it. Ladies, the fainting couch is prepared for your gentle disposition, and gentlemen are requested to refrain from profanities upon gazing on what is possible the scariest thing the world has ever seen: the inside of a RealDoll.

It is like something out of a Cronenburg movie. It will haunt my nightmares until the day I lurch stumbling from this mockery of a mortal existence.

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Thar Be Monsters

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In the days of exploration, cartographers would put massive amounts of care and style into their maps. These hand-drawn masterpieces not only convey information to you such as "there is a mountain here" or "this is a sea", but depict vessels sailing on the sea, or frightening monster whales swimming along merrily. Hand-drawn maps have fascinated me ever since I first read The Hobbit and saw Tolkien's own maps of Middle-Earth. Helmink.com is an amazingly extensive library of beautiful hand-drawn maps from hundreds of years ago. I love surfing through this site, looking at the intricate details cartographers would inject into their maps. Since these are all so old I assume they fall under public domain, so you could feasibly use these for your own art mash-ups. Each map is high resolution and would at the very least make fantastic desktop wallpaper. They also sell the original maps, which is handy if you have a couple thousand dollars lying around.

Here's to a lost art made obsolete.

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Gears of War 2: The Mad Worldening

By now you've probably seen the Gears of War 2 ad in its original format and yes, it's amazing and features the best possible use of the chainsaw bayonet. But couldn't it be better somehow? Isn't there a way it could somehow take on a depth not often found in a silhouetted animation of one man sawing another in half from the testes up? Mightn't there have been an idea immediately discarded by the Gears 2 marketing team upon conception because of how cliché it's become?

There sure is; and where Microsoft would've been hilariously foolhardy in adding Gary Jules' Mad World as the soundtrack to the Gears 2 trailer, when two gamers add an emotional and touching song to a violent and bloody game trailer it's funny. Not only is it amusing, but the song fits perfectly, and thanks to the fine folks at 2PStart, where once was a really exciting trailer for a game is now a really exciting trailer for a game with an awesome soundtrack.

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American McGee's Grimm

I'm one of the people with an unabashed love for American McGee's Alice. While I thought the controls could be frustrating the art direction was enchanting and, considering my already unhealthy obsession with Reverend Dodgson's work, the story utterly engrossing. Since then Mr. McGee has had a less than stellar track record -see Scrapland and Bad Day L.A.- leading one to believe that, perhaps, his presentation of anything is not the key to a title's success. His newest offering -in conjunction with GameTap- entitled American McGee's Grimm, seems almost entirely self-referential. It strikes me as a game not so much about twisted fairytales but about being American McGee, as if you're being invited to do the man's job for him. Watch the trailer and imagine a slightly reworked version of Jon Stewart's scene in Half Baked: "Have you ever read Cinderella? Have you ever read Cinderella, on American McGee?"

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Win a copy of The Club for PC

theclub.jpgSega and Bizarre Creations' brand new shooter The Club dropped this week, and we have a copy of the Games for Windows version to give away. If you haven't seen the demo yet, The Club is a neat mix of third person shooter and SHMUP, your objective being to kill as many people in a row as possible to rack up score multipliers. Sound like something awesome?

Well then, all you have to do to win a copy is to post in the comments what you'd name your own super secret death club. You know, besides "The Club".

Winners will be chosen at random on Friday.

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iBand

3 nerds + 2 iPhones + 1 DS playing Electroplankton = pure awesome.

[link via iBand]

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Japanese children discuss the geneology of Mario

mariohatcusion.jpgToday over at fellow geek culture blog 4 Color Rebellion they have a hilarious article up about one writer's experience teaching Japanese children familial terms such as brother, sister, mother and father. Being a geek in Japan he used video games to teach the subject, using Mario in particular. Nintendo seems to have pretty much failed in their storytelling, as the kids are incredibly confused about where everyone stands in the Mario family. Some choice lines:

Me: Here is a good way for you to remember the word for “brother”. Finish this phrase: “Super Mario _______” (wait for response)

Energetic boy: Galaxy!

Me: Ok, it’s a bit different.. try again, “Super Mario _____”

Girl: Party?

Me: One more try. “Super Mario ______”

Boy: I got it! Brothers!

Me: Good. That’s right. The word is “brother”. So who is Mario’s brother?

Boy in the back: Wario!

While I know that children are generally confused about a lot of things (which is part of the learning process), it's pretty funny to see that Miyamoto's strict avoidance of storytelling and Nintendo's watering-down of the Mario franchise have this sort of affect. These kids make Mario sound like some sort of strange incestuous Shakespearean drama. Now that's a Mario party I'd like to see.

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Podcast for 02-18-08 | Dissecting Geeks

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What makes a geek tick? This week, Chris, Qais, Colette and Mack discuss our formative geek experiences; what defined our tastes, what makes us tick. What games did we play as kids and did those games have an influence on what we like today? Is today's generation of new gamers going to have the same nostalgic view of today's current lineup, or will the classics endure?

Download the podcast here
and subscribe to the feed to take a trip into the minds of grown-up geeks. And hey, if you feel like sharing your own personal experiences growing up, feel free to post in the comments.

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Review: Advance Wars: Days of Ruin (DS)

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Today we meet a brand-new member of The Weekly Geek family. She is an experienced writer and The Weekly Geek's business manager. As a gamer who has just recently been inaugurated into the "hardcore" ranks, I believe she is going to provide a new perspective that is refreshing in this world of cookie-cutter game reviews and news. She hates the girl-gamer stereotype and is currently forming a vast army to rid the world of cliché Please welcome Jinny to The Weekly Geek! -- Chris

Strategy games, being the games of my people, have always held a special place in my heart. What self-respecting Korean doesn’t remember the countless nights of playing Starcraft until the sun comes up? Advance Wars: Days of Ruin is quickly becoming my Starcraft, as I play it twice daily during my lengthy bus commute. Having been so engrossed in my battles against the Lazurian army, I’ve almost missed my stop on numerous occasions. This being said, I normally suck at video games. I don’t play video games because I’m good at them, but because of the immense joy they bring me. If you’re looking for a review of this game that cites plotlines from previous versions, compares gameplay with the introduction of new units, and refers to a buttload of gaming history, these are the reviews for you. I’m hoping to bring you a fresher perspective because I am literally the new kid on this figurative block.

Days of Ruin is the first in the series that I have had the pleasure to play, but fear not, because your dutiful servant has done some research on the previous games for adequate background. Thanks, Wikipedia, even if you are run by the ‘Lord of the Universe.’ From what I understand, the game introduces an entirely new set of characters. Will, our protagonist, wakes to find most of the world annihilated. While he is anxiously scouring the area for other survivors, he encounters The Beast and his minions, who threaten to kill him. Good fortune is soon bestowed upon Will, as Captain Brenner, leader of the 12th battalion (aka Brenner’s Wolves), and his second-in-command, Lin, come to his rescue. I found myself fully engaged in the first battle despite its ease. Upon completion, Brenner and Lin inform Will about the disastrous meteor and how it caused a dark cloud of dust to block out the sun entirely. Having taken notice of the gaming community’s sensitivity to spoilers, I will not “give away” any more of the plot, but it is meaty and delicious. Enjoy! If you’re really that curious, you can read about it here. Let it be known that I wasn’t the culprit who corrupted your virgin eyes because everything I have said happens in the first 10 minutes.

The game is friggin’ HARD! When I finally got to the 11th level (26 levels total), I found myself failing miserably and having to replay each level at least twice to be successful. I beat level 14 by the skin of my teeth and experienced the most epic battle between my G-boat and an enemy G-boat. My strategy? Starve them out! I destroyed all their rigs so enemy units couldn’t re-supply. Also, it took a while for my itty-bitty brain to figure out that I shouldn’t attack large, menacing tanks with little dudes on bikes. The battle scenes were entertaining to watch and for my first few hours of playtime, I sat through each and every cut scene. I haven’t had much of a chance to delve into the multiplayer aspect of the game because…I have no excuse, especially since local multiplayer games only require one DS game card! Friend codes are not a requirement for online multiplayer because you can play against random challengers. I think, however, I’ll skip getting my ass handed to me by strangers until I hone my skills somewhat.

The tone of the dialog seems a bit too buoyant to deal with the dark subject matter of a post-apocalyptic world. Personally, I think the dialog works to suit Will’s naiveté because he is still, in fact, very much a child. His difficulties with swallowing the travesties of war have led me to question my own moral misgivings on the subject. I'll save that for another post, that is, if Chris ever lets me write again.

With Days of Ruin being the fourth game in the Advance Wars franchise, I wonder if they'll release more titles. I don't have such a big problem with franchises, if they put out a good product and don't rehash the same game with new, fancy packaging as a mere distraction. I'll keep my fingers crossed and get cracking on playing the first three games in the meantime.


Score: 4.5/5
Buy it! Hell, any game that makes use of the word “modicum” should automatically be inducted into some list that exists somewhere comprised of worthwhile games to play. That fact alone is solid enough for this game to stand on its own wordsmith-y legs.

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Your Personal Soundtrack - Ben Folds: Not The Same

Ben Folds is one of those artists that when I hear his songs come on my iPod in the car, I can't help but sing along. I listened to his stuff heavily in high school and continued after he shed the "five" moniker, and this song called Not The Same is probably my favorite. I love his little stories, especially this one about a guy who climbed a tree at a party and came down a born-again Christian. I've never seen him live, though I know people who have. They always say it was the most fun they've ever had at a concert, and I believe them. You'll get a chance to experience the awesomeness of Ben Folds this year as he is touring universities around the US, including a stop at my alma mater. Check out tour dates at BenFolds.com.

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Don't Know What to make for dinner? Try Cookthink!

cookthink.pngSome days you just putter around the kitchen whining to yourself. You don't know what to make for dinner, and usually you end up just going out or ordering pizza, right? Cookthink is here to the rescue with a neat little interface to help you find exactly what you are craving. I stumbled across this website the other day and love the fact that I can enter a certain cuisine or mood and it lets me narrow down my recipe options based on what I have on hand and in my fridge. It has an incredibly friendly user interface and a vast catalog of great recipes. They have even recently released a new feature called "my cookthink" where you can save your favorites. For you geeks who love to cook like I do, you'll spend a ton of time just poking around this site, trying to find new recipes and culinary ideas. Check it out at Cookthink.com.

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N'Gai Croal Interviews Will Wright about Spore

WillWright.jpgThe much-anticipated Spore has finally gotten a release date (September 7th, 2008) and the ever-erudite N'Gai Croal has conducted a series of fantastic interviews of the creator, Will Wright. They discuss what is taking the game so long to produce, going into how the game has evolved from a massively single player experience into a full-featured social networking game. For what it's worth, Spore is looking even more incredible than before. Not to overhype it (mainly because it is already incredibly overhyped), but from this interview I can tell Spore is going to redefine the way we play games. Will is a brilliant speaker and it's always a treat to hear him talk enthusiastically about something he loves: game design.

Check out the interview here, over at Newsweek.

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Review: Rez HD (XBLA)

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Tetsuya Mizuguchi's creations are transcendent. No other game developer has shown such an awareness of what makes games engaging on a base level. He creates whole experiences, such as Lumines, Every Extend Extreme and Rez that tap into a very primal part of our brains. Playing these games gets you into a trance as the sights, sounds and motions (the vibration of the controller and the pressing of the buttons) synchronize. I never had a chance to check out Rez when it was first released for the Dreamcast, and then I only recently picked up the PS2 version. I had heard people talk about the game for quite some time, most notably Gabe from Penny Arcade who used to obsess over the game in various news posts. Rez HD was my first time experiencing this particular world, and I have to say it's pretty crazy amazing.

There are only a few games that I have played in my lifetime that I can say are perfect gaming experiences. It's remarkable to me that out of those few games, most are created by Q? Entertainment. The feeling you get when you experience Rez HD is that of a futuristic Star Fox, but perfected. The gameplay is fairly simple, you move your reticule over enemies and it targets them. Release the button to fire. Stack targets for combo points. What is amazing is the translation of this simple on-rails shooter to complete sensory experience. Your shots fired sync in time to the music, which is synced in time to the vibration of your controller which is synced in time to the vibration of the other controllers surrounding you. That's right, you can use your additional 360 controllers to act as the "Trance vibrator". I found placing controllers behind my back and neck were ideal, helping me focus deeper on the game play experience.

The music is incredible. I could imagine a party being deejayed by someone playing Rez HD on a big projection screen, the music pumping loudly in time. In fact, out of everyone I have shown the game, no one has balked at watching me play. It's a fascinating game to sit and watch and contemplate. There's so much beauty going on all at once, it's difficult to keep track of what is going on at any given time. After about an hour of silence and watching me play, Qais said softly "I love video games". Any game that gets you to reaffirm your love of the medium is completely worthwhile. I am excited to see how else Mizuguchi is going to enrich our gaming experiences in the future.

Score: 5/5 An essential game that will reaffirm your love of the medium. A true work of art.

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This week's podcast scrapped

test-pattern.jpgI wish to apologize for the delay in the podcast this week, a crazy cascade of circumstances not only caused it to be late, but completely sub-par. I strive to keep this podcast as high quality as possible, both in the technical and the content aspect. I have decided to scrap this week's podcast because it just didn't meet my standards. Again, I apologize to all of you who were looking forward to a podcast this week, and I hope next week's podcast will be amazing enough for you in order to make up for it.

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Your Personal Soundtrack: MGMT - Electric Feel

Presently riding a wave of alt-rock radio stardom for their single "Time to Pretend", Brooklyn's MGMT have suckered large audiences deep into the rest of their wonderfully complicated full-length Oracular Spectacular. "Electric Feel", which I can only imagine is slated to be their second radio single (if record executives have any clue what they're doing still), is a fluid tribute to Barry Gibb's effeminate disco-sensuality. A cut this good definitely has me banging my head into a wall for missing the most amazing double bill to grace Seattle last year when MGMT opened for Of Montreal's 2007 tour.

If the song wasn't enough, this video also contains gameplay footage from an odd interactive music video they had on their website a while back. Enjoy:

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I'm gonna make him a Crabby Patty he can't refuse.

The voice actors of Spongebob Squarepants may be annoying, but they're a professional lot. As a treat to the Annie Awards audience, they decided to dub over three of my favorite films, Casablanca, Singing in the Rain and, yes, The Godfather. The results are somewhere north of sublime.

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Review: No More Heroes

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The Weekly Geek would like to introduce Hampson Bonerman, guest writer and No More Heroes enthusiast. If you have a review you'd like to share with The Weekly Geek, email us at mailbag@weeklygeekshow.com.

No More Heroes should belong to every Wii owner who considers themselves a gamer. I wasn't aware of who Suda 51 was when I bought it, having skipped the Gamecube and subsequently Killer7, so I didn't really have that good of an idea what I was in for.

You play as Travis Touchdown; slacker, otaku, and wrestling fan. Having won a used beam katana in an internet auction, you find yourself strapped for cash. What's an almost-Kaneda's bike driving, morally bankrupt, moe loving guy supposed to do? I hear the assassination business pays pretty well.

continue reading "Review: No More Heroes"

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Dungeon Majesty: Live Action Dungeons & Dragons TV Show


Back in 2004, four women and one Dungeon Master got together and made a live action show of their role playing exploits. Each woman acted out her character's actions and battle scenes with hilariously bad green screen effects. Inexplicably, Dungeon Majesty is now available on DVD, though the entire series is also available on Youtube.

[Via Laughing Squid

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Podcast Bumped to Tuesday

bluesnowball.jpgHi! I am here to inform you fine people that we are bumping tonight's podcast to Tuesday, as one of our co-hosts is in the middle of traveling. Soon we will have the technology to be able to record a podcast while on a plane. Until then, we apologize for any lost entertainment this delay will cause.

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Jimiyo's 8-bit Link

Jimiyo is an artist with an obvious passion for games. He's created the surreal 8-bit Link featured above, a similarly strange 8-bit Mario, and most notably a fantastic 8-bit rendition of Obama. Not only does he share our love of games, geekery, and art, but we share political ideals as well. I ask you my geekateers, is this or is this not nearly the very essence of The Weekly Geek? I submit that it is.

[Via Drawn!]

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Your Personal Soundtrack: Sabrepulse - Purple Haze


There are few things better in life than a really good 8-bit musician. Catch yourself in the right mood, with a good set of headphones handy, and walking around with some 8-bit in your ears turns the world into a video game, a really fun one, and you're winning. The frenetic pacing of Sabrepulse is what really seals the deal for me, any music that can make me feel separate from my surroundings as I zip past my fellow man in a blur of beats and tuned in head-bobbing automatically gets the Weekly Geek seal of approval.

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How to cheat at Rock Band

These guys, while not as hilarious as they seem to think they are, have found a genius way of cheating at Rock Band. I can see something like this being applied to a fully modded bass pedal. You know, like in a real bass drum.

Don't do this, though. Just... just play the game.

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PopCap Contest Winners!

We asked you guys to come up with your best examples of crazy PopCap game cover art, and you definitely exceeded expectations. Our contest was a rousing success and we have some fantastic prizes to give away, so let's get to the losers! I mean... the people who were awesome but not as awesome as the... awesome people.

C yoolly certainly entered this contest! His grandma sounds like a cool lady.

Grandma Bizzletreats

Bfeld sure likes Homestar Runner.


Sam Spina has a dirty mind.

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Nick spent his life savings on an MS Paint certification.

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Tim found this game advertised in his Grandma's copy of Reader's Digest.

Quail futon gem explosions

Winners after the jump!

continue reading "PopCap Contest Winners!"

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Podcast for 02-04-08 | Talismanic

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While all the rest of the world was scouring the Internet for videos of their favorite Super Bowl commercials, The Weekly Geek was recording our least caustic podcast ever! Chris, Qais, Mack and Colette ramble about the dangers of man-children, squeal about Ender's Game becoming a...uh...game (speculating which other books would make good games in the process), cast a realistically pessimistic eye on Rock Band for the Wii, and unapologetically profess their rampant book-lust. Our PopCap cover contest winners are announced within, and the moment you've all been waiting for: Qais gets a new gamertag.

Download the podcast here, subscribe to the feed and check out the show notes after the jump.

continue reading "Podcast for 02-04-08 | Talismanic"

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Saint Mario and the Dragon

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With a name like Butt Johnson and a piece like the one above, how could we not feature this on The Weekly Geek?

[Via MonsterBrains]

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Contest ends today! Design a PopCap Game, win PopCap Games

Contest ends tonight at 6pm! Get your entries in!

Wanna win some awesome free stuff? As announced on this week's podcast, we've got an art contest going on where you can win one of three fantastic prize packs, courtesy of PopCap Games. All you have to do is come up with the cover art for a new casual classic. Make up your own name or choose from our list:

  • Scubblejubs
  • Kerfufflepop 2
  • Kerplunkleclam
  • Qais Fulton Gem Explosion
  • Bizzleteats 2000
  • Or make up your own WACKY casual game title!

What's in the prize packs, you ask? Items that will surely make you more popular, more beautiful and certainly smarter than your peers.

  • popcap_firstplace.jpgFirst Prize
    A prize pack containing: full retail copies of Insaniquarium, Bookworm, Bejeweled, Bejeweled 2, Peggle and Chuzzle, a PopCap lanyard, PopCap paddle-ball (for when you are not playing Peggle I guess), a PopCap business card holder, PopCap t-shirt, PopCap backpack, PopCap notepads and spiral bound notebook, PopCap hat and a PopCap soft flying disk thing. Also included are a variety of Chuzzles for you to re-enact The Trouble With Tribbles. It's like a procrastination kit!
  • popcap_secondplace.jpgSecond Prize
    A Prize pack containing: full retail copies of Chuzzle and Insaniquarium, a PopCap hat, PopCap insulated lunch bag, lanyard and t-shirt. Also some Chuzzles got in there. Those rascals.
  • popcap_thirdplace.jpgThird Prize
    A prize pack containing: a full retail copy of Ducktales The Quest for Gold for the IBM PC, a Mass Effect t-shirt and a PopCap t-shirt. Shoot for third, folks. Shoot for third.

Email your entries to contest@weeklygeekshow.com by Monday, February 4th where the top three entries will be announced on that night's podcast.

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What are you playing this weekend?

Rez HD screen

Hm? What's that? Oh I was just playing some Rez. What are you guys... hold on a second.

Sorry I got distracted. What were you saying? Oh yeah. I was playing some Rez. Oh man, hold on.

Holy crap that was awesome. Huh? Oh yeah. What are you guys playing this weekend?

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Review: Parappa The Rapper (PSP)

Parappa for the PSP box artBesides the fact that I have a hard time spelling "rhythm" (where are your vowels, man!), I've always been a huge fan of rhythm games. To me, music is always an integral part of the gameplay experience; not only does it set the mood it gives you a prompt to feel nostalgic if you listen to it outside of the game itself. To this day if I listen to Terra's Theme from Final Fantasy 6 I am taken back. Wistfully I start to recall my room at my dad's house, huddled in front of my small television and absorbing every small detail of that world. I can remember the way the air smelled that summer. I can remember the ambient noise of lawns being mowed outside, while I chose to stay indoors and play video games. I can remember my dad getting angry that I didn't want to play outside like a normal kid. When I hear a song from the Playstation 1 classic Parappa The Rapper, I am taken back to when I got my first job, and my first paycheck. I'd go to the game store attached to the nearby Hollywood video and play demos for hours, debating what I should spend my hard earned retail-slaving cash on. I didn't own a Playstation at the time (I was an N64 guy) but I played a hell of a lot of Parappa at those demo stations. I loved the art style - so clever and unique for its time. The music was catchy and full of humor. It was just so completely different from any other game on the system at the time.

Now that I've aged a bit I've started amassing all the old games I never got to own. When I saw that Parappa was being released for the PSP in honor of its 10 year anniversary, I absolutely had to add it to my library. The game is a faithful port - nothing has really changed except for the screen aspect ratio (the PSP being in widescreen). You can do some wireless multiplayer and send a demo to a friend, but the core concept is still the same as it was 10 years ago. You are a cute anthropomorphic puppy-child who finds ways to achieve goals in life through rap. Confidence for talking to girls, a driver's license... all these things in life can be yours as long as you know how to freak and flow at the same time. The controls are simple: press the button displayed on the screen at the proper time to match whoever you are rapping with. Each button is mapped to a different word in the verse. If you press them out of order or too fast, you mess up your song. The more you mess up, the more at risk you are of failing the song. It's a proto-rhythm game that set the standard for Harmonix and Konami to revolutionize the genre with their respective titles.

I am returning to this game after playing through Rock Band, Guitar Hero, Frequency, DDR and Donkey Konga. Each of these games have similar play mechanics: the button you need to press is mapped to an icon and it floats across the screen. Hit the button at the right time to the beat of the music in order to win. So why is Parappa all of a sudden so maddeningly difficult? It literally took me three or four tries to get past the intro level.

I had to re-map my thinking of how the rhythm game works. I was used to a more logical approach, as Harmonix utilizes in Rock Band. The "notes" on the screen are mapped to sounds that make sense. Move your fingers to a lower button on the fretboard of your guitar and it usually makes a lower sound. Hit the red drum pad mapped to the snare, and you make a snare drum sound. In Parappa it's completely different. You have no idea what Parappa is going to say until you press the button (or if you are familiar with the song already). This was very disjointed for me. I always pressed the buttons too soon or too late, causing Parappa to sound like some sort of anthropomorphic puppy-child suffering from Tourette's.

I found it fascinating that my mind couldn't figure it out. "I am good at video games!" I told myself. "I even run a website about them!" This didn't bolster my confidence by any means. Master Chop Chop Onion Head Guy Man Dude kept telling me that I suck and should probably die in a fire (I am paraphrasing, here). It eventually required me failing a verse, and then learning from that failure. There was almost literally no way for me to predict the notes coming, and they just came too fast for my mind to process. This trial and error style of game play proved frustrating, but isn't that what video game nostalgia is all about? We often return to games we used to love as kids and find them vastly more difficult than we remember. We each have our own individual time line of growth as gamers, and going back to the front of the line can be fascinating, maddening and ultimately rewarding. It's like having a high school diploma, going to college, graduating college, and then trying to go back and taking a high school algebra class. Except a lot more fun. Unless you really like math, I guess.

Parappa the Rapper for the PSP stays true to the original for better or worse. I still get that swelling feeling of nostalgia when I hear the soundtrack and I enjoy having the ability to look back every once in a while at what used to be the pinnacle of innovation and quirky, different game play. If you've never played Parappa and are a fan of the current lineup of games that make you press a button in time with music, grab this version. It's neat to see where it all came from.

Score: 3/5 A classic that's interesting to nostalgia fans, but falls short of current-gen rhythm games.

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Your Personal Soundtrack - The Builders and the Butchers: Bringin' Home The Rain

A band called The Builders and the Butchers opened for The Decemberists last night at The Moore Theater in Seattle, WA. I've been to many Decemberists shows and as a rule their opening bands are impressive and complimentary to Colin & crew's unique sound. I really enjoyed the folksy sort of Led Zeppelin thing this band does. They have a gimmick but they wear it well, passing out makeshift instruments to the crowd to join in their impressive two person percussion section. I was entranced by them, they were like some crazy two-headed ogre beating war drums. This song, Bringin' Home The Rain, was one of the highlights of the short set.

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