I found this official WoW Trinket keychain pretty clever. Click through the link to see what's on the back.
[link via J!NX]
We're a geek culture podcast and blog covering video games, music, food and more. We are the kinds of people who evangelize whatever we are into - it could be anything - but it's usually pretty geeky. We're casual, conversational, NSFW and hopefully interesting. We hope you enjoy it.
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I found this official WoW Trinket keychain pretty clever. Click through the link to see what's on the back.
[link via J!NX]
Too often when we play games from our childhoods do we experience the "rose colored glasses" effect. Our memories of these games are marred by the gaps - when encountered with the original product after so many years, we often end up disappointed. Lucky for us Capcom has remastered Street Fighter II in order to match our memories. The HD remix remarkably manages to be just like you remember Street Fighter II. No crappy port to 3d. No gimmicky control scheme. Just pure concentrated childhood. Thank you Capcom for your surprising amount of restraint.
[link via Joystiq]
I would find this news unremarkable if it wasn't for today's "I see what you did there" award winning image.
[link via Joystiq]
I'm slowly starting to wean myself off my RSS reader. Being a blogger and a podcaster has really taken its toll on me as I try to find a good work/life balance. Whereas in the past I thought it would be cool to be a pro blogger and get shipped around to press events and be wined and dined by major game companies, now it's starting to look a lot less appealing. For today's rant, I'm going to tell you how the basic model for the video game blog is broken and useless.
There was a time when I was subscribed to as many game and geek blogs as I could find, and I was motivated to keep up with them. That was when they still all had original content. Remember those days? The culture has shifted now to the point of over saturation, where there is very little original content and in order to fulfill quotas and sound like "real journalists", game bloggers have ensconced themselves in the echo chamber. Here is the usual process:
1. A press release is sent out by a game company stating that their new game has gone gold, released new screenshots or gameplay video or has hit store shelves. 90% of the time this is non-news that the normal everyday gamer shouldn't care about. These press releases are sent to every single game blog in existence.
2. Game blogs who thirst for pageviews/popularity/money/whatever republish said press release and attach a cleverly photoshopped header image.
3. Every single other game blog republishes the already republished non-news press release, either citing the release proper, or whatever other game blog got the press release first.
Only occasionally is there ever original content on a game website, and it's usually poorly researched and lackluster. If you're lucky it ends up being an intelligent rant, but these rants are more blog than news (see: this website). In the rush to get their post numbers up, these blogs allow egregious journalistic mistakes such as spelling and grammar errors and publishing rumors as fact without researching them first. We see articles about bland industry-related facts, such as NPD numbers or sales statistics. Why should gamers give a shit about on what console a cross-platform game sold better? Why not just enjoy the games?
We, and by "we" I am referring to the hardcasual early adopter gamer, have lost our way. We are being dragged around by the games industry PR machine and to what end? Bloggers are hurried through media events and fed data which they are expected to digest and spew to their readers without coming up with any original ideas. We're expected to review games and promote them in order for the game company to make enough money to release the next one and the next one and the next one. And this is the culture. It's a sea of early adopters catering to other early adopters who obsessively read these blogs.
Take a look at Kotaku, one of the web's largest and most popular gaming websites. Kotaku must publishing something like 70 articles a day. Just keeping up with Kotaku is a full time job in of itself. There are literally people who sit all day on Kotaku, waiting for the next article to be posted so they can comment. Kotaku publishes so fast I imagine their editors don't even edit the content before it's pushed live.
We're geeks, I get it. We are passionate about our "hobby" and our lives revolve around it. We eat, drink and breathe video games and fail to realize that the rest of the world doesn't. The rest of the world is content with bringing out the Wii Fit every time company comes over, showing off the shiny new gadget and putting it away until the next chance. We're stuck in a loop, an echo chamber. We don't need all these PR blogs, we don't need gamer's day events. We don't need companies showing us brand new screenshots every week until a game release. The PR blogs are being driven by the needs of the game companies, not the game consumers. Here's what we should do to fix it:
1. STOP POSTING EVERYTHING A GAME COMPANY SENDS YOUR WAY. We don't need 500 websites all posting new screenshots for the Hulk game at the same time. We don't even need one. The PR company should just post new content on their own website and allow the game blogs to research and notice on their own.
2. DO RESEARCH. If a friend of a friend of a friend told you that Gamestop posted a release date for Starcraft II, it's most likely not true. Don't post a "Rumor" post to your blog just for speculation sake. Do some research. Reporting on rumors is like telling your readers you're too lazy to give them accurate information. Anyone can say they heard a rumor from someone. You're not providing content, you're just adding to the chatter.
3. STOP POSTING ARCANE INDUSTRY NEWS. Do your readers really need to care when an exec from EA steps down? How does this have even the smallest bearing on whether or not the games you play will improve or decline in quality? The games industry is so obsessed with its shitty minor celebrities, it will pretty much post anything. These people are not celebrities. They are normal people. Please start treating them as such. Sales numbers aren't amazingly interesting.
4. POST LESS. I like reading blog posts about video games. It's the reason why I have my own blog. But when a blog posts 70 times a day, there's no way to filter out the mundane from the high-quality. Focus on quality. Post less frequently and not only will you improve the level of discourse, you will save the sanity of people who actually have other things to do during the day than keep up.
What would you guys add? Have you been feeling the same frustration I have, or is this limited to people like me who run their own blogs?
Here's the conclusion to our last Retro Podcast, cut short before you could hear Chris tell The Geek what happened with his teacher. Riveting, I know. We're off this week, but we hope you enjoy the second hour of classic geek from April 14th, 2004 which includes such timely topics as Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, baseball players who are also gamers, local Ellensburg, WA radio commercials, the weather and even some music which we hope will satisfy your geek needs this week. Cheers!
This the first generation of consoles where I've finally been able to experience all the medium has to offer. That's right, I've finally completed the set and picked up an 80gig Metal Gear Solid 4 Playstation 3 bundle. My reasons are most likely different than most, I'm not a fan of the Metal Gear series and most of the titles out for the PS3 don't really intrigue me. I was more interested in the backwards compatibility since I no longer own a PS2 due to circumstances. Divorce circumstances. That's right, I lost custody of my PS2.
There are a few games I am interested in, most notably the Playstation Network titles such as Echochrome and Everyday Shooter. And hey, maybe I'd like Metal Gear too. Who knows.
After a few hours with the machine, I have a few issues. Now that I have "caught 'em all" (to use Pokémon parlance) I feel like I have a nice objective view of what the Playstation 3 offers and doesn't offer versus the other systems.
First off, cons:
Jeebus that Earth views visualizer is pretty.
Additionally, the lack of a system like Xbox 360's achievements is one of the biggest failings. Xbox has set a new standard for how games are played, an innovation classically reserved for Nintendo. The d-pad, analog stick, rumble... all of these changed the way we play games, and now with the persistence of the Internet and social media we want a way to show off our progress to our friends. While the 360 feels like a party every time you hear the blip and see one of your friends sign on to Live, Sony's system still feels insular, like a console for loners. I'm not compelled to flesh out my friends list like on the Xbox.
And now, Pros:
Are any of you PS3 owners? Can you fill me in on why people think this console is so awesome? Cause I'm just not seeing it at the moment. Even Metal Gear Solid 4 feels like the most popular game in some parallel universe.
This week, resident geeks Chris, Jinny, Qais and Ross manage to go a full thirty minutes without saying the word "ass monster", proving that geeks really are the bastions of intelligence and maturity they claim to be. Of course this is in reference to the Spore Creature Creator being released this week, allowing anyone to create any malformed genital-monster their heart desires. The geeks talk about M. Night Shyamalan's new movie The Happening and how it's might be intelligent design propaganda, the new Ghostbusters video game and how it might not suck, how Google might be making us stupid, why the $100 laptop project might just be stupid (according to some people), hard-hitting food issues such as a discussion as to why Ted Allen's new food show is going to be awesome and a dip into the mailbag. That's right, YOUR barely legible letters read on air! Show notes after the jumpitty jump.
Remember, kids! This podcast is not really work safe! Only listen with headphones or around questionable company!
Pop quiz! Is this A: A promo poster for a Robocop CGI remake coming in 2010 or B: A promo poster for a Robocop CGI remake coming in 2010 as seen in the original Robocop? Considering the original Robocop was set in "an indeterminate future time" either option is possible.
As our escapist futuristic fantasies finally catch up with us, we seem to be looking at retro-future-nostalgia for comfort. The future is pretty weird, you guys.
Join Weekly Geek editors Ross, Jinny, Qais and Chris this week as they discuss the new iPhone, how Apple may (or may not!) destroy the Nintendo DS, Republicans playing World of Warcraft, in-game ads, how the Atari movie could be an epic of our times, and the art of Adolf Hitler. The only other place you could get such a crazy mix of topics is if you were to be harassed by a meth-addled hobo! Don't let the hobo get you! Download the podcast post-haste!
Note: Due to unfortunate technical disturbances in the force, Ross' audio is at whisper-level. Instead of just scrapping this perfectly decent podcast, I opted to release it anyway for posterity. I apologize in advance for any burst eardrums caused by audio schizophrenia.
With companies catering to the swelling masses of "casual" gamers, hardcore gamers are starting to feel slightly underrepresented. This week, Chris, Qais and Jinny talk about (more like obsess about) The World Ends With You and what it does to shake up the RPG formula, how Guitar Hero for the DS may actually be good, Beyond Good and Evil getting a much-deserved sequel, and the strange subset of hardcore Warcraft III custom map players. We then proceed to rip through the mailbag, where we actually read your actual letters on the air. I don't know how it works, I'm not a scientist.
Winner of today's "I see what you did there" award.
We're digging into The Weekly Geek archives this week and presenting you with an authentic Geek experience all the way from 2004! The past! It's like you're a time traveler or something. This week, join The Geek and Frodo back on KCWU FM for the 7AM hour of April 26th. Enjoy some music, hear some old news and listen as someone wins a game that is surely in the bargain bin at a Gamestop by now. We return next week with your regularly scheduled jerkfaces. Enjoy!
You may not believe it, and when I heard it I scarcely believed it myself, but there's more to being a geek than just video games. What! Crazy! I know! The thirst for new stimulation isn't limited to just the digital realm of "veedoo games"! Music is what we crave, and the newest Weekly Geek Music Podcast is just the thing to satiate even the most ravenous of melody fiends. Mike and Chris present to you their top albums for this period in the space-time continuum, with artists like Portishead, Wolf Parade, Death Cab For Cutie and Nine Inch Nails. Perhaps, in listening, you will discover your new favorite band. These things are known to happen.
Full set list and links to purchase tracks after the jump.
Oh hai! Just thought I'd come and check in on you guys, here. What's up? Gearing up for the long weekend? Are you going to be going outside and grilling animal flesh with the rest of the US, or perhaps you will shun the sunlight as I do and partake of some games? Here's what I've been playing recently, what are you playing this weekend?
GTAIV - Of course, this game really doesn't leave my Xbox. I haven't had much time to devote to gaming this week (hence the lack of game diary posts) but when I do get a chance I like to sit down and envelop myself in the trials and tribulations of one Niko Bellic. I'm a good 70% through the game now, just got all my friends to over 90% and I'm spending a fair bit of time just messing around with the side quests, whereas a week ago I was completely into the main storyline. The main storyline continues to amaze, don't get me wrong, but I really appreciate how I can just sit down and do a few side quests in a short period of time. Very good for the hard-casual gamer such as myself.
The World Ends With You - Seriously, you guys need to be playing this game. I have no idea why the gaming press hasn't covered it more because it is completely brilliant. It's the perfect commuter's game, great for short bursts of satisfying play, and is as deep as you want it to be. I want all games to be this thoughtful, precise and engaging. There's little sense in explaining it. You have to experience it for yourself.
Penny Arcade Adventures: On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness - Episode 1 - Like any good PA fan, I downloaded the shit out of this game and proceeded to devour it. It's a gorgeous game and genuinely hilarious, though the battle system took me a REALLY long time to figure out. I'm still not sure I understand it. I'm playing the XBLA version, which apparently was designed last as the controls are horrible. It's difficult to target things for one, but it also doesn't help that the UI is slightly confusing at times. It took me a while to make sense of the battle UI and it took me even longer to realize which player was highlighted. I'm also having conflicting thoughts about the massive amount of dialog for every single little thing. On one hand it's consistently hilarious, and on the other hand I feel compelled to check every trash can and mailbox, which feels like a shallow gameplay device. I'd rather the locations I can investigate be a bit more hidden instead of right there in my face. But maybe it will pick up? At the very least, congratulations you guys. It's awesome to be able to say "this dude I know made his own video game". Despite any niggling concerns, you guys did a fucking fantastic job.
This week, Qais, Chris and Ross the Transparent Underground Gnoll meet at the Fortress of Geekitude to discuss the state of video game trade shows, Konami's new Rock Revolution and what a new drum peripheral could mean for crowded living rooms everywhere, making worthwhile games for children, the Great Slipper Collapse of 1985 (includes bonus Fraggle Rock discussion) and then the boys dip into the mailbag. Which isn't a euphemism.
Tycho from Penny Arcade linked to this today in a newspost. Words cannot describe how cool this is. Just watch.
You may recall my Steampunk Nerf Gun post from a while back, where I painted a Nerf Maverick all metallic to go with a costume I was making. I got an email from the creator of the Grab-it Pack(™!) who saw the post and mentioned that multiple people have purchased this pocketed accessory as a holster for their Nerf Mavericks.
Extra pockets are always nice and the Grab-it Pack actually looks like an incredibly useful pack if you're going hiking, cosplaying as the Man-With-Too-Many-Pockets or raiding a tomb full of ancient treasure and secrets.
They are about 23 bucks and you can order them from GrabitPack.com.
It's ladies night on The Weekly Geek, as Colette and Jinny join the very manly Chris and the always testosterone-heavy Mack in what is possibly the ladiest podcast ever. Is Guitar Hero IV going to rock Rock Band? Is Lost Winds Colette's favorite game evar? (Protip: it is!) Other topics include mini map dependence, Emerald City Comic Con, Crisis Core, and more great TV. Enjoy the brisk flavor of this special podcast... ladies.
I've avoided making Game Diary posts this last week because A) I've been taking a "vacation" as it was my last week of unemployment and 2) I've just been playing Grand Theft Auto IV. That's not to say I haven't had any fun, I've been enjoying the crap out of it. The story, the game play, everything about this game is a love letter to the video game industry as a whole and if you haven't checked it out for whatever reason, at the very least rent it. You'll most likely enjoy the sandbox as much as I have. Niko, as a character, is one of the most compelling I've seen in a game, right up there with Gordon Freeman for me. He is a criminal, sure, but his motivation for his actions is something you can actually relate to. The dialog wanders from funny to poignant, surprising you in its serious tone.
I'm only about 50% through, as well. The game is just plain massive. I can see it's going to stay in my Xbox for quite some time. I haven't even taken the shrink wrap off of Mario Kart Wii...
What have you guys been playing? Anything interesting I've missed out on?
Nintendo's insistence on using an arcane series of numbers to connect to friends on the Wii hasn't stopped the majority of intrepid internet users, as yet another website is making it easier to link up to friends for some hot kart on kart action. WiiTransfer has a nifty tool that allows you to share your friend codes with other Twitter users, so if you have a bunch of friends who like to be kept up to date with every single mundane detail of your day, this service is for you.
Now if only Nintendo would bring voice chat into the game, it may actually be playable online.
[WiiTransfer | Thanks, Wade!]
You know those booths at comic book or anime conventions selling game soundtracks? Yeah, those are usually dirty pirated bootleg knockoffs. Same goes with soundtracks you buy on eBay or from *most* websites. Square Enix bootlegs are notorious, considering they have such a vast library of hard to find soundtracks. The official SE store has a sale going on right now, so you have absolutely no excuse not to purchase the official Chrono Trigger Soundtrack for $16.99. Also on sale are soundtracks for Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX, X, XI and The World Ends With You. Sweet!
This week isn't ALL about Grand Theft Auto IV, though it's hard to talk about anything else this week as its been ruling most gamers' lives. In a good way. Chris and Qais discuss the greater value of Grand Theft Auto as a piece of high art, completely without sarcasm! No, seriously! Why don't you believe me?! We then move on to Guitar Hero's brand being diluted, and Qais talks about insomnia and what kind of snacks he likes when he's pulling an all-nighter.
Download the podcast below, and subscribe to the feed! Show notes after the jump.
We all feel that sense of dread when we have to call customer service to try and troubleshoot a malfunctioning product. You have to wait while a computer routes you to a disinterested associate who may or may not solve your problem and may or may not be polite to you. Some dude named Jason has figure out how to get to escalate your problem quickly to someone who is a bit more skilled than your typical call center specialist.
Check out the super simple procedure over at Jason's blog.
[link via Lifehacker]
Wondering how EA and Harmonix were going to make the Wii version of Rock Band successful without all of the amazing downloadable songs? Today comes the announcement of Rock Band Track Pack volume 1, which brings a nice selection of 20 songs previously available for download on the PS3 and 360 versions to the PS2 and the Wii. Set to be released on July 15th, here's the track list.
30 Seconds to Mars The Kill All American Rejects Move Along Blink – 182 All the Small Things Boston More Than a Feeling David Bowie Moonage Daydream Faith No More We Care A Lot Grateful Dead Truckin’ The Hives Die, All Right! KISS Calling Dr. Love Lynyrd Skynyrd Gimme’ Three Steps Nine Inch Nails March of the Pigs Oasis Live Forever Paramore Crushcrushcrush The Police Synchronicity II Queens of the Stone Age Little Sister Ramones Teenage Lobotomy Smashing Pumpkins Siva Stone Temple Pilots Interstate Love Song Weezer Buddy Holly Wolfmother Joker & the Thief
**All 20 tracks utilize original master recordings**
What I'm curious about is whether you have to switch your disks out when you want to play these specific tracks, or if just inserting the disk into the system somehow unlocks them on the original disk? Hm. While this is a great thing for Wii and PS2 Rock Band owners (personally the DLC is the best part of the game for me) I'm really curious as to how it will be implemented.
Full press release after the jump.
Every once in a while, Woot has a Photoshop contest that really brings out the funny. This week the subject was "an especially inappropriate franchise (an old TV show, comic book, classic novel, ancient myth, cartoon, movie, etc.)" Here's my favorite (and the winner!)
[link via Woot]
Up for sale on Etsy as of today, a painting I did in college called "The Death of Peach".
Mario is grief-stricken in this nightmare scenario where Princess Peach is impaled callously by a giant pirahna plant. Toad watches in horror as Mario prepares to hurl a Bob-Omb and avenge his love. Oil on canvas 38"x36"
Like most socially under-developed geeks, my mood is directly affected by the weather outside. While I don't like to go outside (I hear there are bears?) when the sun shines brightly through my apartment windows it lifts my spirits immensely and gets me motivated. Besides other activities such as painting and website stuff, I've been playing...
Call of Duty 4 - Still slowly progressing through the single player campaign and still being blown away by the production value. I've avoided online multiplayer like the plague, but a friend of mine suggested just shutting off voice chat, which seems to work like a charm!
Rez - Nothing like sitting down early in the morning to play through Rez in beyond mode. I like the fact that they give me a bunch of bonus modes and options to tweak things like my starting form and beam type. I've been messing with the sound and visual filters too, just for a little variety
Grand Theft Auto IV - Like everyone else in the world. It came early Tuesday morning and I played it into the night. I'm essentially a GTA virgin, though I did play a ton of the old top-down GTA 2 back in the day. I'm really enjoying GTAIV, way more than any of the previous titles. It has its flaws - visuals are often hit and miss, voice acting is dubious in parts (why does everyone sound like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog?) and your character controls like some sort of tank. Other than that, the story is fed to you in even enough intervals where you don't get overwhelmed by the amount of stuff you can do in the game, and the cell phone menu system is clever and very well integrated. I'm noticing little moments where Niko rests one foot on the curb while the other is on the street while chatting on the phone, or small details about the city that make it feel alive such as pedestrians getting phone calls themselves and having full conversations. I imagine I'll be discussing it more as I progress.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to try and make my in-game girlfriend not hate me anymore.
It's Grand Theft Auto week and Chris, Qais and Ross express various levels of excitement at the prospect of hijacking cars and shooting hookers. Love it or hate it, the internet is atwitter with GTA coverage and we shamelessly feed into it in this week's podcast. But this week isn't just about GTA, no! Also discussed is the prospect of awesome crashes with motorcycles in Burnout, whether or not the Guinness Book of Records Gamer Edition is worthwhile, how movie directors can use misdirection to their advantage, and Qais reveals he has a horrifying disability: Stupid fingers.
Subscribe to the feed here to get updated on new podcasts as they are posted! Show notes after the jump.
Thought you guys might enjoy watching a video of me hit by a sudden burst of inspiration today. I've been thinking of something to fill up this canvas I painted over a month ago. The subject? Only one of the creepiest villains in game history: a Combine Hunter from Half Life 2: Episode 2. I wanted to keep it simple and exercise my brushwork skills while capturing the strangely vicious kinetic energy of the things.
Non-moving photo after the jump.
Surprisingly accurate and actually funny, this video from X-Play should be bundled with each Xbox Live Gold membership sale.
[link via X3F]
"This was given to me as a gift at the Phoenix Comicon. I'm tempted to call up my friends and say, "Hey, I was just wondering if you have a customized Lego figure of your Star Trek character on your desk?" Then I realize how pathetic that sounds, and I just get drunk." - Wil Wheaton
[link via Wil Wheaton's Flickr]
I can't even begin to think how someone thought this was a good idea. Online gaming sites run by cleverly nicknamed computer systems with poorly drawn anime avatars made to seek out terrorists who are good at video games? Attractive hackers? If you think this War Games sequel looks like it's direct to DVD, you'd be correct.
All I'm saying is I hope Matthew Broderick has a musical number at the end.
[link via Threat Level]
I love it when I can bring video game sound effects into the context of the real world. I own a couple of those gashapon sound drop keychains, and revel in the fact that the Super Mario Bros death noise scares my small dog enough to make her bark nervously and then hide under the bed. Last night, Herr Bizzleteats received a missive from the ether on his Blackberry, which caused it to chirp as if he had gained an extra life. A plushy question mark block sits on my couch, waiting for unsuspecting guests to sit down and accidentally gain a coin when it drops on their lap. Now, with ThinkGeek's help, I can become invincible. Check out this awesome Super Star, which gleefully grants you doot-dee-dootillies whenever you desire. It's plastic, fits on your desk, and looks amazing. It's battery powered too, so you could feasibly take it into any dangerous situation such as walking home by yourself late at night or if you are going to smash a few of your brothers or there's a mushroom uprising.
This thing is pretty neat. Now if only they did a whole series of classic powerups (no stupid New Super Mario Bros blue shell ridiculousness please) I could further blur the line between fantasy and reality.
It's been a strange week, filled with job interviews and exhaustion, leaving me little time to play as much as I wanted. Though it has allowed me to think a bit about my play habits. As of late, I've been a sort of ADD gamer, bouncing from one title to the next. After all the progress I made in Rock Band I've had a craving to explore a lot of other games that I haven't given much time to. I've also secretly been anticipating GTAIV. Don't tell anyone! What I did play this week was awesome, however.
Lost Cities - If you haven't at the very least downloaded the demo of this awesome XBLA game, you owe it to yourself to try. It's perfect for picking up and playing a quick game (each game takes maybe 20 minutes total to complete) but you'll soon find yourself saying "just one more game and then I'll take the dog for a walk". When your dog starts peeing on your rug in front of you out of spite is when you know you're a bit addicted.
Devil May Cry 4 - Ridiculous, overwhelmingly Japanese, violent and wonderful. I don't care what anyone else says, I like the over the top action cut scenes, even if the characters do crazy tricks that I have no hope of ever attempting in-game. There's a certain visceral satisfaction from being able to juggle an enemy in the air, constantly grappling them back up to you and slamming them down again.
Call of Duty 4 - I've avoided this game for no other reason than I dislike the stigma attached to people who play only online shooters. I don't like online first person shooter deathmatches because I am horrible at them. Also I have tender, virgin eardrums that catch on fire whenever a cuss passes through them. The single player campaign in CoD4, however, is stunning. It has an exciting pace and does well to make you feel like you are actually there. The story is a bit generic, but it's so well presented I am willing to forgive it.
This weekend I'll probably be delving further into CoD4, what are you playing this weekend?
I'm admittedly a huge fan of ultra-nerdy board and card games. We try to have a board game night at least once a month which really ends up just being an excuse to get together, drink a bunch and throw salted cashews at each other when things aren't going our way. This group play seems an awkward fit for the Xbox Live Arcade (mainly due to the lack of cashews, salted or otherwise), but in this reviewer's opinion the majority of XBLA games in this genre are gems. Uno, Catan and Carcassonne are some of the best games available, period, for the XBLA, while games like Word Puzzle and Sotrilo Solitaire flop. This week we see the newest in the board/card game genre, Lost Cities.
At first glance this game is super complicated, but like with any good game in this genre you spend the first couple rounds incredibly confused until all the pieces fall into place and it clicks. This process, at least for me, is pretty darn satisfying. It took only two rounds of demo play before I purchased Lost Cities, and I've spent all afternoon with it since. It is a fairly unique yet instantly familiar game, straight from the first menu which displays random semi-literary looking characters. I like the grey-haired bespectacled professor the best, who incredulously lifts his eyebrows and grimaces as you scroll through the different options. I heard him in my mind saying things like "huzzah! achievements!" or "what what leaderboards pish posh!"
You can always tell when a game is a labor of love. The amount of detail and quality is noticeable, and when a skilled fan is set to the task, they can take a classic game and turn it even classic-er. Check out this video of a fan game loosely based on Metroid II (originally for the spinach-green screened GameBoy). It skillfully captures what is so captivating about the Metroid series: its isolation. Exploring the murky, eerie underwater depths of an absolutely alien planet while strange ambient music bloops and beeps is an immensely satisfying experience.
Hopefully the creator, Destructoid Community member Von Richter, has the chance to release this game just long enough for me to play it before Nintendo's lawyers sic their pikachus on him.
[link via DTOID]
Grab em now before they go out of stock. Which they probably will.
[link via NerdyShirts]
One of the shining pillars of vaporware has finally broken out of mythological territory and stepped into the path of unsuspecting consumers. The OLED-powered marvel that is the Optimus Keyboard is ready for your hard earned $1,589.99, surely a price point meant to help stimulate the economy. We've discussed the merits of the fabled keyboard in the past, including its ability to display custom keyboard configurations for programs like Photoshop.
While I am dubious about the usefulness of such a thing (if you are spending one and a half thousand dollars on a keyboard it is most likely that you don't look at your keys anyway, as apparently you are really really into computer keyboards), it's certainly a shiny, expensive piece of early adopter-focused hardware that will wow any nerd whom you deem worthy to enter your hovel.
[link via ThinkGeek.com
[link via Kotaku]
This week Chris is joined by Mack and Ross to talk about those playground perpetuated secret levels we all remember from childhood, the Iron Man/Hulk movie crossover, the Mortal Kombat vs. DC crossover, and our frothing demand for GTAIV. These and other geeky discussions can be yours this week, for the low, low price of zero dollars! Will these geeks ever get over the childhood trauma of finding out there's no cow level? Find out by downloading this podcast!
Subscribe to our feed to get these updates automatically! Show notes after the jump.
Being into indie rock is dangerous territory. You're often called elitist even though everyone knows you just have better taste than everyone else. I read Pitchfork often, and while I don't always (or usually at all) agree with their album reviews, I decided to give Vampire Weekend a chance. Pitchfork has been nutso about this band, who fuse indie rock sensabilities with an African influence. It's almost classic high life music and instantly addictive. I've had this song stuck in my head all day and put "who gives a fuck about an Oxford Comma" as my IM status message.
Of course everyone IMs me all like "I actually like serial commas". It's a good thing I have such great music taste so I can enlighten you guys. *sticks nose up and swishes ascot authoritatively*
Consider this post a sort of new Weekly Geek "manifesto". Except less sinister-sounding.
The Weekly Geek has been around in many forms since its inception in 2002(ish). First we were a radio show on a small desert town's college station. It was just Grant and I back then, and we would rock every Wednesday morning with three hours of music, geeky or otherwise hilarious news, video game reviews and pseudo-internet-celebrity phone interviews. We even did a comedy sketch or two.
During the three years The Weekly Geek ran in Ellensburg, we put on a couple big video game tournaments, covered two E3s and gave away thousands of dollars worth of games to on-air callers. We started uploading the non-music bits of the show to the radio station's website around 2004, before we even knew what podcasting was. You had to walk uphill both ways to download a podcast those days, and that's the way we liked it.
In 2005 we launched the first official Weekly Geek blog and attached our audio file to an RSS feed. Ever since then we've tried to bring you a steady stream of great articles and content, unique to the geek community. We've even started our own little community here, which has been one of the coolest things I have ever personally been involved in.
You may noticed the place has changed a little bit... hopefully this design will serve you better than the last disorganized mess we forced you to look at. There's revamped commenter options, a better tag system and archives and direct links to download the most recent podcasts on the right hand bar. These certainly are exciting times.
It's been a busy past few days as I have been working on a (not so super secret) project. What games I've played tended to lean more on the pick-up-and-play side, though I've tried to make time for some...
Devil May Cry 4 - I missed this game when it was first released, and ended up borrowing it from Qais this week. I haven't played through any of the original games, though I enjoy the fast-paced action of the series. What I find consistently laughable, though, is the strange juxtaposition of great graphics and presentation with poor menus in Capcom games. They seem to be obsessed with horrible typefaces, Photoshop glow filters, confusing UIs and cheesy sound effects. And damn there's a ton of cut scenes in this game. Don't get me wrong, they're pretty spectacular and all but we'll see if playing for 5 minutes and then watching a 10 minute cut scene starts to grate.
Puzzle Quest - Building up my main character in the 30s has been painfully slow, though I really enjoy just poking around the map and getting into random battles. Level grinding never really felt like work with Puzzle Quest. I feel a little guilty sometimes for skipping through all the dialog, so I started actually reading the quest text which to my surprise is actually top notch.
Rock Band - Still working on expert drums, at this point it's just practice , practice, practice. My back hurts.
I think this weekend I'm going to be giving most of my attention to Devil May Cry 4 or Mass Effect while I'm not working on that other thing. You know, the thing.
What are you playing this weekend?
We've been speculating for a while about when the first full albums will be released for Rock Band, sources said Nirvana Nevermind and The Who's Who's Next were slated to be the first (to much excitement!), but today it was announced that full albums are coming April 22nd, with Judas Priest's Screaming For Vengeance, followed in May by The Cars (that's just what I needed!) and in June by The Pixies' Dolittle.
While I am incredibly excited to be able to play these albums, I'm saddened that we are apparently only getting one per month. In addition, I'd like to see a better way to make a playlist in the game proper, such as being able to select an album and play it all the way through without shupp shupp shupp-ing through the entire giant playlist every time we want to rock out to Judas Priest.
[link via MTV]
I've always envied people who had the tenacity to complete photo journaling projects. Whether taking a picture of yourself every day for a year, or documenting a family history, photo projects are fascinating studies in human mortality. Linked from Boing Boing today, I found YOUNGME - NOWME on a site called Color Wars, where people take old childhood photos and recreate them with their newer, older bodies. I especially enjoy the ones who put a lot of effort in getting the clothing/setting correct, such as this chap who finally was able to live his dream of having the world's greatest mustache.
I'm tempted to do a few of my own.
[link via Boing Boing]
Why, Nintendo? Why can't you bring your illustrious club to the States? All we get when we register our games is a few measly wallpapers, but in Japan they can get points to trade in for stuff like this special limited edition Super Famicom classic controller for the Wii. Curse you, Japan!
[link via Nintendo Wii Fanboy]
Who knew what kind of effect Animal Crossing could have on a man? In this week's podcast, Qais recounts his harrowing tale of Tom Nook-related horror, joined by Chris and Ross who laugh in delight at his misery. Nintendo's E3 debut of a new DS is discussed, as well as Bad Company's weapon conspiracy, indie games relying on old school art, video game retail stores that look like Borg ship interiors (and how awesome that would be), and Motley Crue is made fun of for being old. Your questions are also answered within as the mailbag is opened and not mocked in the slightest.
Mike linked me to this article today on Gizmodo about a single mother who's 13 year old kid wouldn't do his chores. The story goes that the kid wouldn't quit playing Xbox and do the list of chores that his mother had typed out for him. After repeated requests, he deviously broke the vacuum in order to get out of vacuuming. She even found out he was surfing porn sites on his computer! So she retaliated by hacking his MySpace profile and selling his Xbox and games. Good parenting or horrible parenting? Gizmodo seems to think that this is an appropriate response, but I have to disagree. I don't know the specifics of this family's relationship with each other, and I don't claim to be an authority on parenting, but I think this was probably one of the worst things she could have done to raise this kid, and let me tell you why.
While I do think that we need less 13 year old Halo players spouting ignorance over Xbox Live, let me discuss this from the kid's perspective. All kids are biologically pre-programmed to rebel. At around age 13 they are supposed to start showing signs of rebellious behavior. It's called being a teenager. There are myriad ways to deal with teenagers, but more often than not extreme forms of punishment only serve to push them further and further away. I had a very similar experience as a kid, as I am sure a lot of you have. I think this kid is going to hate his mom even more for her actions, which I would imagine is not the desired effect.
I was a lazy kid. Hell, I'm a lazy adult. I never liked doing chores, and I would usually put them off in favor of video games. Even more I despised the parental notion that going outside and doing things under that burning ball of fire we call the Sun was somehow more life-enriching than, say, experiencing the brilliance of Final Fantasy. We were always on different planes of thought. I'd request something like a new Game Boy game for my birthday and I'd get a pair of rollerblades. I'd ask for a comic book subscription for Christmas and get a telescope.
I'd get a list of chores, do them and then go back to playing games. My parents, however, weren't satisfied with that. They'd always leave one thing off of the list, such as taking out the trash. Of course, since it wasn't on the list, I wouldn't take out the trash. And then they'd get pissed off and take something away, such as computer or video game privileges. They'd even rush into my room after getting off of work and yank the cart right out of my SNES while I was playing it. It was a completely mind-boggling discipline process to me. In my opinion they weren't teaching me any sort of valuable lesson, just flailing because they didn't know what else to do. That's not good parenting, that's just retaliation. These kinds of experiences actually caused me to disassociate myself from my parents. I just recently got back in touch with my father after about 7 years of silence. While extreme, I am sure the mother mentioned in this article doesn't want anything near that.
I understand that kids are a bit different these days. They tend to be more independent, more uppity, and more prone to backtalk. What I think would have worked better is regulation of said child's game time, rather than getting rid of the thing altogether. Kids may be pre-programmed to rebel against you as a parent, but you can do things to help hold back the tide. Compromise is one of those things.
And as for the porn sites the kid was surfing? How about you teach the kid about sex in a frank and honest manner instead of keeping it taboo and mysterious? Now he's just going to be more careful in the future about hiding his porn. 13 year olds are obsessed with sex. Teach him how to deal with it instead of making him think it's a shameful, horrible thing. Put your computer in the family room so that someone is always monitoring what he's seeing, and talk to him. He is an intelligent future adult who deserves your respect no matter what vitriol his mouth is spewing. He's meant to do that. It's up to you to deal with it in a manner that results in a well-adjusted individual.
What do you guys think? Is this bad parenting or good parenting? Follow up question! Did any of you experience something similar with your own parents, and do you think it was positive or negative for your personal growth?
[link via Gizmodo]
Have you ever had a weekend where you just popped back and forth between a handful of games in your collection? That's what this past weekend was like for me. I had this immense craving to go back to a simpler time and hear some of that sweet delicious SNES music once again. I spent my time this weekend with not only retro gaming, but some more recent titles I'd put down long ago.
Secret of Mana - One of my all-time favorite games still holds up to this day. Putting the cart in and turning it on, I realized I still had my original save file from back when I was a kid. There it was: Frodo level 99. I started a new game, however, so Jinny and I could play through together. This game was really magical to me. One of the first games I can remember fully absorbing, just soaking up all of the detailed art, experiencing the music in eardrum-shattering stereo sound. I'd explore every single corner looking for lost weapon orb chests, grinding levels in order to get the best spells. Multiplayer is near-perfect in Secret of Mana, I'd say bested only by Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Really looking forward to playing more and feeling wave after wave of nostalgia. That's what it's allllllll about.
Tales of Symphonia - I picked up the Gamecube version of this off Goozex a few months ago and never really sat down to try it. I love the combat and gameplay elements, but the story (at least in the beginning) is the same trite anime crap as a million other horrible RPGs before it. I sincerely hope that aspect improves because I'm the weird kind of geek who gets really annoyed at anime-style writing.
Rock Band - Back on the horse? After finishing the drum solo tour on hard, I decided to attempt it on expert and absolutely ripped through it. I have about 15 more songs left and have been really enjoying the feeling of accomplishment from my increase in skills. We rocked band world tour as well, grinding through the venues on expert and unlocked the million fan achievement. We were at a total of about 980,000 fans and only needed a small bump to push us over the edge and ended up getting 250,000 fans in one 4 song setlist. I guess gold-starring songs really helps when you're looking to gain fans.
Beautiful Katamari - I was in the mood to roll some stuff up, so I decided to visit the King of All Cosmos for the first time since last year. I don't really prefer this version, actually. While I love being able to unlock achievements and such, I feel that the gameplay is too unfocused and lacks the charm of the original PS2 Katamari Damacy. I attempted a few online matches, which have one of the worst lobby systems I've seen. The other guy just kept walking around instead of starting the match, throwing cookies at me and putzing around. I'm all for the concept of play, but sometimes I want to get down to business. Katamari-related business.
World of Warcraft - My undead priest is now almost level 20 and I'm really excited to be playing a healer again. This time around I know my strengths and limitations and I am having a ton more fun jumping around Azeroth like some spastic bunny rabbit.
For the rest of the week I have a feeling it's going to be ADD gamer time, with me bouncing back and forth between titles. I'm also going to attempt hacking my PSP. Wish me luck!
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