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.
It's difficult these days for parents to figure out how to deal with their kids being exposed to what they may deem inappropriate content. Our pop culture has become less preoccupied with self-censorship, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Things that parents might not find appropriate for children exist in the world, and eventually said children are going to become adults and get exposed to this content. While your six year old shouldn't necessarily be watching Sopranos and shooting hookers in Grand Theft Auto, eventually that world is going to reveal itself and you can guarantee they will be asking questions.
What They Play is a website for parents in order to help them better understand the games that their kids want to play. Instead of providing a giant list of "bad" games for parents to keep their kids away from, What They Play accepts the fact that kids are already playing these games, either at a friends house or their creepy uncle's apartment. The site provides level-headed, well-researched analysis of games. Not necessarily qualitative reviews, but an overview of what you are going to see and experience in the game. Their article on Grand Theft Auto IV is a great example. Not only do they provide a run down of all the "controversial" things you can do in the game, they acknowledge features such as the Rockstar Social Club, the tie-in with Amazon for music downloads, and an overview of what the limited edition contains.
It is classically difficult for older generations to keep up with younger ones. Trends change, technology advances and often the easiest thing to do is throw your hands in the air and resort to quick judgment and censorship. We've seen it with comic books, rock and roll, and I am sure in the middle ages there was some sort of sheep-based trend that parents just didn't understand.
Keeping things taboo just increases curiosity in a kids mind. It's up to the parents of the world to decide how to effectively deal with seemingly negative influences, and it's nice to see a website that chooses an intelligent, unbiased approach instead of the typical knee-jerk alarmism we've come to expect. I'd really love to see this site become the de facto location for parents-in-the-know to get the information they need to effectively raise their children in this new media future.
Apparently all I needed to do in order to complete Run To The Hills on hard was attach some socks to my drums with rubber bands. Who knew?
All day yesterday and all morning today I was thinking of how to get the proper stickings for this song. It's got this galloping beat that is really fast, and hard to nail precisely on the pads. Even in the shower I was drumming with my fingers on the tiles, trying to get the rhythm down. Frustrated and sore, I took a break and looked on a couple Rock Band forums for tips. Many mentioned something called the "sock mod", which involves wrapping the drum head in a tube sock and rubber bands. It increases the tension of the sensor and improves gameplay. Turns out I wasn't bad at drum rolls, the drums were bad at interpreting my drum rolls. I finished Run To The Hills with ease and finished drums on hard. I love seeing that achievement pop up "3 for 90g". So nice of Harmonix to give you credit for all difficulties below the one you have just completed.
I feel so very accomplished now. The rest of my day was spent playing...
Ikaruga - I don't recall the Gamecube version of this game having so much engrish in it, but Treasure found a way to poorly translate even more text, including all the Xbox-specific text, such as saving the game. Hilarious. It's a good thing that Ikaruga is fucking brilliant. In HD the game looks absolutely incredible. Textures and polygons are smooth, there's little to no slowdown when a lot of stuff is happening on screen, and man. The music. Oh, the music is so very epic. I completed the first and second stages, unlocking the third. I obtained the achievements for completing both of those levels and decided to grab the dot eater one as well. Dot Eater is accomplished by not firing for a whole level. In Ikaruga, each enemy appearing on screen is precisely choreographed. They come in and exit at the same time, every time. It's entirely possible to memorize the patterns and get a perfect game. In the XBLA version, you have the new option to save replay videos and attach them to your leaderboard score. This is pretty awesome, as you can go to the top of the leaderboard and download a gameplay video of whoever is currently best in the world. You can then study the videos and improve your own performance. For obsessive types like me, this is a godsend.
Tomorrow? More Ikaruga and possibly back into Mass Effect or Burnout Paradise, now that one of my main goals for Rock Band has been accomplished. Huzzah!
posted by Chris on April 9, 2008 12:35 PM in Games
A couple of weeks ago, we had mentioned on a podcast that good friend of the site Flynn DeMarco received a strange cell phone in the mail. The phone had a curious text on it stating that a car will come to pick Flynn up at a certain time and on a certain day. Nothing else. Obviously, because he is a games journalist this was a promotional device. He speculated as to which game it could be promoting, and the whole thing had a fantastic sense of mystery about it.
It must be the weather or something, but I am in PR rant mode. The car finally came to pick Flynn up and all the mysteries were revealed. According to what progressed, I'd say this was PR done right. You see, it was all for the new Bourne Conspiracy game, and not only was Flynn taken to a strange, unmarked warehouse to play the game and talk to the devs, but he was provided with some really clever swag.
Swag is a simple way for companies to promote their games. Journalists LOVE getting swag, and they love showing it off even more. It's a bit cheap though and bordering on payola, but when you're clever it can have a massive impact. Not only did Flynn receive a nifty case, but a USB drive with assets, an audio recorder with the interview he just conducted on it, an MP3 player with music from the game, and a dossier with fake surveillance photos of Flynn and a background profile. It all fits with the Bourne theme, and is impressively clever.
This is how you do it, people. Wow us with your game, make us feel like we are a part of the experience. Read the full article at Kotaku.
I'm going to break down the fourth wall here for a second and let you in on some industry information. Game journalists get a lot of email. Most of it is complete trash, it's usually a PR company trying to tell you that their most recent game (usually with a title like Mageknight: The Reckoning or Knightmage: The Fightening) is coming out. Over and over again. It's difficult to sift through the good news and the awful news, and recently a major company has made it even harder: Sega.
I understand that no matter what press release comes into game journalists' inboxen, it will get posted to some blog somewhere. Just by the sheer fact that there are SO MANY game blogs out there, someone will be aching for a story and will post your news. That's fine. When you abuse that system, that's when I take issue.
Sending out press releases when your hot new game finally releases first screenshots is appropriate. Sending press releases every single day with brand new screenshots is an abuse of the system, no matter what the game. Sega, for the past six months or so, has been spamming my inbox on a daily basis and I'm a bit fed up. On one hand, I'd like to keep good relations with the company as they do send us games for review. On the other hand, I'm really tired of getting daily updates on The Incredible Hulk game. It's not a highly anticipated game, yet they are treating it as such. Perhaps it's my own jaded mind, but when I see a press release I turn on my bullshit meter.
Most PR companies are full of shit. It's true. Take, for example, the weekly emails Nintendo sends out in order to announce new Wii Virtual Console games. Whoever writes the copy has to come up with an appealing description for each new title, no matter how incredibly awful the game. They have to find some way to drum up hype for a poor product, so they usually revert to hyperbole.
An amazing jaunt through a highly imaginative world with stunning graphics and gameplay!
The blockbuster franchise returns with the most action-packed story yet!
You can tell these are lies because of all of the lying. You can feel the desperation in the copywriter's voice. During the last holiday season, I literally got one email a day from Sega PR telling me that a brand new gameplay video for Mario and Sonic Go To the Olympics was released! Oh yay! It's a lackluster idea of a game, banking on the fact that people enjoy Mario and Sonic and will buy anything with those two attached. Do they honestly think I am going to want to post their new gameplay video and screenshots every single time they send them out? Even if it was only half of the time, I wouldn't post them.
This is the worst way to generate hype. Currently, all new Sega releases are on my shit list. PR, like all things in life, requires restraint. You want to promote only your best content, and keep that promotion rare. Keep us chomping at the bit for your game-related media, don't try to shove it down our throats.
The icing on the cake? Sega seems to have hired another PR company to help them with email blasts for The Incredible Hulk. Just today I received two emails, one from the new company and one from Sega proper, with the exact same press release.
In between playing Rez on beyond mode and small sessions of Geometry Wars, this week seems to be dominated by Rock Band (what else?) In addition to playing some Tug of War online (got my Tug of War champ achievement by getting 20 wins in ranked matches! Woo!) I joined up with Grant and Amy (formerly The Geek and White Mage) for some band quickplay over Live. We had some issues.
First, Grant's invite bleemped at me on the screen but didn't show up in my message list, not allowing me to join the game. Then Amy sent an invite, which magically worked. Then I couldn't figure out how to plug my headset into my guitar, as I have never done it before and I generally loathe talking to people over Live. Man, they made that little hole for the headset tiny and hard to find, for a while I was just stupidly turning the controller over trying to figure out where the damn plug goes. Then Grant reminded me that I needed the included adapter, which I had to rummage through my random boxes of electronics and wires to find. After getting that all set up, we noticed my headset audio options weren't working, as Grant and Amy's voices were coming through my speakers and my headset, no matter what I toggled in the special menu. So I had to turn off the game and get re-invited. Apparently the Xbox Live headsets don't like to be plugged in after you're already signed in and ready to go. Plug and play, Microsoft! Plug and plaaaaaaaaaaay.
We eventually got it to work and ripped out a few rockin' tracks, but as it usually goes I wanted to continue my Rock Band marathon after they had left. On a whim I started playing solo tour on expert and progressed quite far. I then applied my new magical drum skills to my existing hard solo setlist and completed all of the final tracks (Next To You, Flirting With Disaster, Won't Get Fooled Again and Tom Sawyer) except Run To The Hills, which kicked my ass. I've played it a number of times and failed miserably, going back to practice mode and trying to get the stickings down. That weird galloping beat... so... so weird.
I am actually reading forum posts to see what the correct sticking is. Is it left-right-left right-left-right? Or is it right-left-right right-left-right? Sigh.
Blue Microphones have an impressive lineup of supremely functional, aesthetically pleasing microphones, from studio condenser mics to simple USB microphones. We actually use a Blue Snowball to record the podcast and I can attest the quality is so top notch, I bought two. It's the perfect podcast microphone, albeit slightly larger than you'd want to throw into your bag and take on the road. That's why this brand new Blue Snowflake USB mic is perfect for the podcaster on the go (I should write slogans for them!)
Not only is it one of the sexiest microphones I've seen, but the form is also functional. The case is also a stand for desktop use, and not doubles but triples as a laptop clip. It's very reasonably priced and you can pick it up today on Amazon. I might just grab another Blue mic myself...
Is being called a "gamer" a bad thing? On this week's podcast, Chris, Mack and Qais look into how gamers as a group are regarded by the general populace. Are we really all just trash talking escapist sociopaths? Or is "gamer" just another flavor of geek? We discuss various arguments on both sides, also touching on this week's news from Microsoft's answer to the Wii, to analyzing Portal's main villain, to Penny Arcade's newest indie games venture.
Disgruntled by our recent t-shirt contest and his favorite design not winning, Weekly Geek listener Josh did what any honorable geek would do: he made his own. Josh lovingly crafted these remarkably accurate visages of three of our podcast regulars, myself, Qais and Mack. I love how grumpy we all look (click to zoom). He hit it right on the nose!
While I don't usually like t-shirts that blatantly advertise a website or product or just have a character with a slogan on them (cough CAD cough), I can't help but think The Weekly Geek fits the model. What do you think?
posted by Chris on April 7, 2008 10:13 AM in Games
Adventure games are largely considered dead. Many avid gamers still sit glued to their screens mournfully clicking away at lovingly worn copy of Grim Fandango. Telltale Games has been feeding the addiction with their episodic Sam and Max series, but did you know that other companies are actually still releasing games in this genre? Amazing, I know! While searching through Adventure Gamers today, I stumbled upon some screenshots that piqued my interest. The game is called Nikopol: The Carnival of Immortals and seems to feature a typical Myst style of exploration with pre-rendered rooms of which to explore with your obsessive clicks. The first screen (shown above) felt altogether new and refreshing to me, with interesting paintings in an artist loft. Then I continued to click through and saw a man with an eagle head and it all went downhill from there.
A couple years ago, a friend of mine recommended an Italian movie to me called "Immortel". He claimed it was horrible. Abysmally horrible yet the art style was so unique and interesting it bore viewing. I rented it and was impressed by the visual mashups of live action humans and CG cyber-augmented humans in a future-Paris, but the plot read like an adolescent fantasy. Egyptian gods coming to the future to have sex with blue-haired cyber-women? No, thanks.
This game is part of a book series by author Enki Bilal, is being developed by a Paris based developer named White Birds Productions and is set for a mid-2008 launch. By the looks of the source material, it seems adventure games aren't really going to be coming back any time soon. I wonder if they ever will.
Notoriously difficult, mind-blowingly insane Dreamcast (and Gamecube!) shooter Ikaruga is finally coming to the Xbox Live Arcade this Wednesday, April 9th. It's a complete port with achievements thrown in to make things even more mind-blowingly insane, and you can grab it for a completely reasonable 800 Microsoft points.
This is one of those games that you show your friends in order to elicit "holy shit"-type reactions from them. The action is intense, the music is epic and the game itself is one of my favorites of all time. I've been waiting a while to see this on the Live Arcade and I cannot wait until Wednesday. Highly recommended!
Yesterday I took a small break (I read a book!) but today I was back on the Rock Bandwagon with my new obsession: ranked score battle. I've been having a ton of fun going online and putting my skills to the test, as it were. The only issue? People constantly drop even in ranked matches. Once they get a whiff of defeat, they just crap out. I literally had to report around 20 people for unsportsmanly conduct. I feel like such a tattle-tale. Sigh.
After finally completing the last Half Life 2 episode, I'm going through Portal and Half Life 2 to mop up those achievements, and this weekend will also be filled with a ton of WoW. What are you guys playing this weekend?
Goozex, that ubiquitous master of videogame trading services, is having "Free Game Month", where new accounts get 100 free Goozex points (which is neat!). If you aren't familiar with Goozex, we here at The Weekly Geek use it constantly to refresh our game libraries. You see, instead of giving your old games to Gamestop and getting only pennies on the dollar back, you trade your game directly to other Goozex users online and get the exact value of your game back in Goozex points. You can then use your points to trade for games from other people. I've been able to really round out my collection of rare and otherwise lesser-known games, and if you haven't checked it out and are perhaps low on cash, now's a great time to jump on the Goozex bandwagon. It's one bandwagon you won't regret jumping on.
I even have a game all picked out for you already.
Why oh why didn't you do something this awesome back when Okamifirst came out, Capcom? In order to help promote the release of Okami for the Wii, a brand new art site has launched, showcasing the incredible hyper-sumi-e style of the Clover Studios classic. Not only will you find some choice wallpapers for adorning your desktop (some old, some new) you'll find backgrounds and characters in reasonably high resolutions. You could cut out the characters and place them on the backgrounds just like those old Colorforms sets! Perhaps if you didn't have a Wii and wanted to pretend to play Okami.
They even have each set in an easy-to-grab .zip file. Thanks, Capcom! Now let's remember how awesome your non-Resident Evil non-Mega Man franchises are and give them a little more love from now on, ok?
Major Nelson has to be bored today, as he updated his not-usually-meaty blog with a group of source audio files for Bioshock, all shiny and waiting for your usage. Will you use the vending machine "WELCOME TO THE CIRCUS OF VALUES" audio as your ringtone? Or will you opt for the Gatherer's Garden sounds?
I love using little audio files like this, and appreciate the Major's efforts to bring things like the Crackdown energy orb sound into my inbox, furthering my horrible addiction to videogames.
I just completed Half Life 2: Episode 2 and am now basking in that sort of video game post-coital glow. I'm noticing little things and reflecting on the experience, as I do when I complete any game that has had an effect on me. I'm thinking about how I have such a crush on the typography. I love how the Half Life games bounce back to the title screen after the credits, but always with a new environment for the menu to lay over. That menu layout (the same one used when you pause the game) is iconic, simple and elegant and just one example of Valve's brilliance. These games are perfect little nuggets of gaming goodness. They are so artfully crafted in every area, from the naturalistic visuals to the deep storyline and the amazingly engaging cast of characters. I cannot wait for Episode 3.
I'm literally sitting here right now, staring at the screen as I exit to the dashboard which says "Do you wish to stop playing now?"
I really don't.
So, that answers part of what I have been playing, though I have also been indulging in some...
Rock Band - Playing more tug of war mode online. It's often frustrating to play games like this on Live, either there's no one out there to match with, or when you do find someone they drop after the first sign of anything resembling possible defeat. After a couple rounds with people and feeling quite confident, I matched with a guy who actually stuck around. I played one level of difficulty below him for every song. He'd pick Welcome Home and play on expert, and I'd do hard. I was banking on him missing more notes trying to play the songs on expert, and I was right. I beat him every single round. He kept challenging me to more songs until finally we had played our tenth round and he gave up. I added him to my friends list. So nice to have a challenge.
Call of Duty 4 - I guess I've been in a shooter mood? While I normally stick my nose up at sort of "mainstream" FPS titles (Halo, Call of Duty, Rainbow Six) I was intrigued by the RPG elements in the newest Call of Duty and grabbed it from someone on Goozex. I've only played through the tutorial so far but I plan on spending more time with it. First impressions? The controls are really tight and button mapping is logical making moving my soldier around like second nature. I like that.
posted by Chris on April 2, 2008 11:23 AM in Music
It took me a while to actually get into Of Montreal, despite music editor Mike's drooling obsession over Kevin Barnes. I had listened to Hissing Fauna... a couple times and just wasn't convinced of their brilliance. It took a certain mood and about the 10th listen to really dig the groove, and now here I am a staunch Of Montreal fan. This video for Gromlandic Edit features art drawn by Kevin's brother David, proving crazy brilliance runs in the family.
posted by Chris on April 1, 2008 11:18 AM in Games
There's been a dearth of articles on the interwebs recently about the suspected leaked Grand Theft Auto IV achievements, and while they *seem* valid, we here at The Weekly Geek have received a list of rejected GTAIV achievements which you may be interested in checking out.
20g - Patience
Avoided the long pre-order lines and purchased the game later like a sane person.
10g - Salvation
Accepted Jesus (our Lord and Savior) into your heart.
60g - Can I get a receipt for that?
Had sex with 50 prostitutes, paid and left (without shooting her in the head afterwards).
15g - Nice guy
Was pleasant to play with during multiplayer and didn't cuss once.
50g - Boy Scout
Helped an old lady cross the street (without shooting her in the head afterwards).
10g - They All Float Down Here
Find a child character in a world where there aren't any, and feed it to a clown in the sewer.
10g - Milk and Cookies
"Service" an elderly woman in her home after watching an Antiques Roadshow marathon.
10g - Join Us
Bit a child and threw him in the basement.
15g - Cringing Caucasian Urbanite
Go buy an iPod and keep it from being stolen for 20 minutes.
0g - Doesn't Even Own an Xbox
Gone outside to play instead of wasting your life on meaningless Microsoft mental incentive programs.
I took a bit of a break from gaming last week to set up my awesome new entertainment center, which you can see here (click to zoom)! We're pretty happy with the setup now. It's an Ikea Stolmen setup, which we customized slightly. Instead of the media storage on the side we opted for a second shelf. The tv wall mount is awesome, instead of having to find a stud and drill into drywall, you just install your wall mount to this unit. Very versatile. Having the TV a bit higher up helps as well. The Rock Band drums aren't in the way anymore! I added a small clip on Ikea light to the back of the TV unit to highlight the painting on the wall, which I wanted to keep above the TV. If you're looking for a new entertainment center, I highly recommend the Stolmen. It requires a bit of work to install, but it's totally awesome. Since the last game diary entry I've been working on...
Rock Band - Finally on the final 5 songs for drums on hard. These songs are hard. Run To The Hills, Next To You, Tom Sawyer... without the rest of the band to save me I'm floundering in parts. Must... practice... more. Racked up a few "Big In" city achievements and played a couple games of Tug of War online. Tug of War is fun, with two players switching off verses in songs like a game of musical horse. I just can't figure out how to gain an advantage, though. Each song I get around the same percentage of notes hit as my opponent, but mostly I still lose. Hm.
A Variety of Games - I spent a lot of the weekend just sort of scatterbrained, playing some stuff I haven't played in a while such as Chrono Trigger, Geometry Wars, Pikmin 2 and Smash Brothers. We even started new characters in WoW. That addiction will probably never end. At least, until Diablo 3 comes out. Or Starcraft 2. Or whenever Blizzard finally decides to create their own brand of designer cocaine.
Björk has been in my music library since Post. Here was a woman who literally did her own thing. When trying to label my MP3s, I always have a hard time putting her into a specific genre. Is she electronic? Is she Icelandic pop? I ended up just filing her under "Björk".
While I wasn't too impressed with 2007's Volta, here is one of the tracks that stood out to me. Lucky for us it also comes with an incredible video.
I showed this video to Jinny earlier who responded "I wonder if she's lonely."
We here at The Weekly Geek loathe gimmicks. That's why we aren't trying to draw you in by posting some wacky April Fool's Day version of the podcast. Because we love you. This week Chris, Qais, Colette and Mack scrape the bottom of the barrel of geek news this week to discuss the Portal song in Rock Band, Bawls' G33K B33R, Grand Theft Auto IV, and Microsoft's lawyers being very un-lawyery. We wrap it up with a cool, crisp and refreshing discussion about gimmicky control schemes.
posted by Chris on March 28, 2008 12:35 PM in Games
We received our Pedal Metal in the mail yesterday, having ordered one immediately after posting an article about them and were quite impressed with the quality. For around 20 bucks (with shipping and everything) you can get peace of mind for when you are trying to nail Mississippi Queen on expert. It was easy enough to install, just placing the metal on the pedal and using the included self-drilling screws with a regular non-powered screwdriver. Once it's on there, it seems it could be fairly easily removed, though it's most likely at that point you have voided your warranty.
My main concern with the drum pedal is noise and durability. I want to be able to freely push the pedal with vigor, while not making my downstairs neighbor want to come upstairs and kill me with his fists. Pedal Metal is slightly noisier than your standard pedal, my guess would be just because of the added weight. I am usually playing the drums wearing socks or barefoot, as well. The Pedal Metal uses a corrugated steel look and screws with rounded tops, which I am sure add tons of grip for people who play with their shoes on. For people who don't, however, it feels like it could get a little uncomfortable. Ideally, they could have found a way to recess the screw heads into the metal itself, right now they just sort of sit awkwardly on top of whatever random bit of the metal pattern happens to be there. So you have seven little bumps that you have to basically avoid with your foot so you don't get a blister or anything. Not cool.
If you are interested in playing drums on anything other than medium, you're going to be breaking your pedal at some point. The plastic is just going to get worn down and will snap horribly one day. Pedal Metal will help prevent this, but it definitely could use some improvements. For now, I am satisfied with my purchase.
posted by Chris on March 27, 2008 10:35 AM in Games
On this week's podcast we discussed how awesome it was that Target was supporting indie gaming by selling the Experimental Games Project's array of indie game-themed tees, but Boing Boing Gadgets is now reporting that Target is pulling them from the shelves!
Despite mentions that t-shirts from the Experimental Gameplay Project (that cleverly included the games themselves on a bundled CD) were selling out in some Target locations, a developer whose work was featured has told Boing Boing Gadgets that Target will not be continuing to sell the products.
"We have recently found out that target isnt going to go forward with EGP," said our source. "We are going to try a few other places to see if we can get it picked up."
The developers are looking to other outlets such as Hot Topic or Urban Outfitters, both of which I am sure will be able to move the shirts (and attached games) faster, due to their audiences. Target did seem like a strange, almost shotgun approach to marketing.
Dead Fantasy, a series created by Monty Oum, takes everything that nerds could ever possibly want and puts it into video form. Barring an epic Cheeto vs Mountain Dew battle, that is. It's a mashup of characters, DOA versus Final Fantasy, resulting in one long action sequence. Usually I'd be put off by the blatant fanboyism, but Dead Fantasy is actually really well choreographed. 11 minutes of action can get a little tedious (too much of a good thing, my dear Monty) but it definitely kicks ass.
That's right, nothin'. Today I have played nothing so far! No Rock Band, no Pokeymans. Nothin'. I've been busy putting together my new kick-ass entertainment center, which I will take photos of for you guys to check out once I am done. I'm in the process of really decking out my living room and gaming area, and I think you guys could gleam some neat ideas off of it. But! I do plan on playing some...
World of Warcraft - I have a hankering to do some leveling, my Tauren Shaman is still in the low 30s and my Draenei Mage is still in her teens. I haven't touched my level 63 Undead Priest in months, either...
Half Life 2 Episode 2 - Thanks to everyone for their tips, I'm going to put them to good use and attempt to finally complete this game. I just don't know what I am going to do once I complete it. Without Gordon Freeman in my life... I'm lost. Maybe I'll go play through Half Life 2 again and mop up some achievements.
Rock Band - Downloaded the Boston tracks yesterday and they are awesome. I listened to a ton of classic rock as a teenager and I forgot how brilliant the first Boston album is. Seriously, if you haven't downloaded the Boston pack yet you owe it to yourself to pick it up. I can't imagine even attempting the vocals though. Sheesh.
posted by Chris on March 26, 2008 2:06 PM in Games
Ever wonder why you can't find a copy of your favorite obscure DS game anywhere in town? The MTV Multiplayer Blog has a great article up today giving insights into the process of game distribution. Multiplayer interviewed various companies about how they distribute games to retailers and those interviews resulted in a very interesting look at the business of games. Writer Patrick was curious why he couldn't find copies of Tetris DS at the store and recalled he had a similar problem with Phoenix Wright.
Video games at retail have a different shelf life than other forms of media. While movies and music will remain cataloged in stores, video game sections often only stock new or recent releases, and it seems like the companies themselves are partly responsible.
Have you guys ever had any problems finding a game at a store?
posted by Chris on March 26, 2008 9:19 AM in Games
If you haven't checked out one of the best games of 2007, Crackdown is currently being marked down heavily at Target stores. Kotaku reports that some community members have found copies for as low as $14. Spend part of your tax refund early if you haven't already spent it on something stupid like an iPhone or paying bills or baby food.
I remember my first trip to Archie McPhee in Ballard, near Seattle. Right as I walked through the door I was filled with nostalgia, even if most of the objects were from a time not of my own. I described it as a "dollar store on crack" and today it remains the same. There's no better place to find random medical equipment (bedpans!), flight suits (Chinese flight suits, even!), rubber chickens and religious-themed lollipops.
The Seattlest has received an email from Archie McPhees stating that if a certain new toy law is passed in Washington State, they will have to close. The law will increase testing regulations, requiring toys sold in Washington State to reduce their lead content. From the article:
The new testing requirements would cost Archie McPhee's, which stocks over 10,000 different types of toys and knick-knacks, an estimated $5,000,000 a year. The cost of the tests alone would force McPhee's out of business. And it's not just small, local, beloved businesses that are worried about the new law. America's two largest toy companies, Hasbro and Mattel, met earlier this week with Governor Gregoire to try to halt the measure becoming law.
There seems to be some debate in the comments section of the article, however, as the law may allow small businesses caveats. So, should Archie's be worried at all?
Square Enix launched its brand new "members" website today, offering ridiculous amounts of nothing for signing up. What is being touted as some sort of new Square community at the moment is pretty sparse, only allowing you to sign up for newsletters (hooray?) and edit your personal information (I love editing my personal information!)
Seriously, what did I just sign up for? Not only is this sign up form ridiculously long (why in the world do you need to know what my favorite websites are? Or my home address?) but now I can't figure out why I needed to sign in. Is it just to gain access to the interviews and newsletters? Delving deeper into the site it seems I can download some wallpapers and I can enter myself into a contest to win an autographed Crisis Core soundtrack CD.
I get information about your corporation in exchange for some of my personal data? SIGN ME UP! TWICE!
That was sarcasm, Square. I have subscribed to your RSS feed. Let's see if you do anything awesome with this. In addition, perhaps I can recommend an article for you to read to help you streamline your forms? Because they are kind of ridiculous.
Hooray! This design garnered 19 votes for the win! Thanks to everyone who participated, and we will let you know when these shirts are available for purchase. We also had three contest winners, so congratulations to Danton D, Amy B and Miles! Your prizes are in the emails.
Excitement! Intrigue! Feats of amazement, designed to astound! These are things not normally found in a podcast, but no! The Weekly Geek presents you with all that and more. This week, Chris and Mack announce the T-shirt contest winners, how Rock Band on the Wii may or may not be awesome (you be the judge! A new interactive feature!), the cramp-inducing Guitar Hero DS peripheral is revealed, and they talk a bit about SNL after the writer's strike. You know what else is awesome? The rest of the podcast, that's what. This includes a discussion of affairs medical, affairs scientific, affairs cryptozoological and affairs regarding magic powder.
There are few games that give me the same feeling of childlike joy when I play them. That feeling I had back in the SNES days, that shiny Christmassy feeling of contentment and happiness. I spent most of my time this last weekend with two titles which garner that reaction from me: Rez HD and Pikmin 2. I am attempting to mop up the remaining achievements I have for Rez, and in doing so I am falling in love with it all over again. Over and over again. I just sit here, bobbing to the music, entranced by the lights, sounds and vibrations. After popping in Pikmin 2 for the first time in years, the lady saw how incredibly adorable all the little Pikmin are and demanded I relinquish the controller. I happily obliged and sat watching her play for hours.
Today is a bit slow both on the games and the blogging front, so while doing various things around the house I am playing...
Puzzle Quest - My knight is about level 30 and steadily kicking ass. I got to thinking, why isn't there a board game version of Puzzle Quest? You could easily replicate the spells and characters using cards, and the gems can be actual little plastic gems you move around a laMancala. The only difficulty would be how you place new gems into the board as you clear them. Hrm.
No More Heroes - Got this in the mail today off of Goozex, and in it was a nice note from the person who traded it to me. I love receiving notes in my Goozex trades and always try to either write something or put a business card in the package for when I trade. Now that I am using my Wii a bit more I am excited to be playing this game, which everyone tells me is great. I know it is probably great. There's just not enough time in the day to play all the games in the world, is all. I'll let you all know how I enjoy it.
This hand-made robot from Let's Make Robots! is an adorable self-contained drum machine. It uses its little sonar sensors to detect objects, putters over to them, and then taps out a beat. Then the robot loops that beat and taps out another to loop. I can imagine armies of these robots, swarming people in their homes and harassing children in the streets. One day, with all of the possible rhythm combinations already tapped out, the collective hive mind of the drum machine robots develops faster-than-light space travel in order to explore new galaxies... to search for extra-dimensional beats. Or snacks. Whichever comes first.
posted by Chris on March 24, 2008 1:53 PM in Music
This weekend Sexcab came by to play some board games. As these board game sessions go, not only do I subject my guests to poorly mixed drinks and slightly manhandled snacks, I force them to listen to my music. Luckily The Flaming Lips came on to which Sexcab remarked "I love robot music from the future." Then I kicked his ass thoroughly at Carcassonné. Enjoy this epic theme which accompanied said ass-kicking.
posted by Chris on March 24, 2008 12:48 PM in Games
Thanks to the Gamerscore Blog this morning for linking to Co-Optimus.com, a site dedicated to co-op gaming. They are meticulous about their dedication to co-op, with a blog dedicated to co-op game news, reviews of only the co-op parts of games, and giant checklists divided by system which allow you to quickly skim to see what games offer co-op and to what extent. Handy if you're into things like coordinating Friday night co-op nights for you and your friends, or if you have a human which you find attractive who you would like to win over by showing them your mad co-op skillz. This technique is often overlooked.
Last chance to vote! Voting ends tonight at 7pm pst! GET YOUR VOTES IN OH GOD --- The management
We're going to be printing some Weekly Geek T-shirts and instead of forcing you to wear something that maybe you don't like we're letting you choose which design will eventually clothe your miserable naked body. Vote in the comments and you will also be entered to win one of three awesome and vaguely t-shirt related prizes! Two $25 gift certificates to Split Reason, or a code for Triggerheart Exelica for the XBLA. The shirt design that gets the most votes will be announced on the March 24th podcast, along with who won the fabulous prizes. Only one entry per person plz.
Vote by posting a comment stating which shirt is your favorite! Here are the shirts!
Shirt 1: "Huzzah!" (designed by Chris)
Shirt 2: "VIDEO GAMES" (designed by Chris)
Shirt 2: "Weekly Geek Pixel Logo" (designed by Qais)
Slow game day, as I have spent most of it enjoying the sunshine induced motivation to clean the apartment. Also I had to take some fool who's name starts with a Q and ends with an ais to the airport. Jerk. This morning however, I played some
Half Life 2 Episode 2 - Goddamn striders. Goddamn striders and their damn hunter friends. Fuck em all.
As for this weekend it's going to be all about checking out the new Rock Band store and utilizing the fan cap increase. How about you guys? Whatchoo up to this weekend?
posted by Chris on March 21, 2008 3:58 PM in Games
You've got the cocktails flowing. Your guests are marveling at your awesome home theater setup and most are drooling to get a chance to play Rock Band. Maybe it's their first time. You're feeling good and decide to attempt Mississippi Queen on expert with the drums. Rockin'. Nothing ruins your perfect Rock Band party more than that horrible snapping noise while you're nailing the big rock ending. These kick pedal pads from Pedal Metal look like they may just solve any future party fouls. They are made of actual metal and only require a minor bit of surgery on your existing pedal.
The Rock Band pedals snap easily from normal use as the plastic starts to warp, so this might be a wise purchase for anyone serious about the fake drums. I had my pedal snap, and while EA's return process was relatively easy I would have liked to avoid the process altogether. I'm going to grab me some metal.
That's right. I just said "I'm going to grab me some metal."
Here's a hilarious video from The Onion of a future newscast from a world dominated by robots. Deadpan, brilliant and slightly sad. Also featuring one of the guys from Best Week Ever and that dude who did the Top 5 show on Food Network! You know. That one guy. With the shirt.
Today Qais and I had the honor of attending a momentous event. No, not just an event. A happening in true history-making style. I am of course talking about the Harvey Dent political rally at Pike's Place Market in Seattle today. While it was fun to get a bunch of free Batman-themed swag including a comic book, some stickers, t-shirts and buttons, I was left slightly disappointed in the turnout. What could have been a proper flash mob style viral marketing event was only attended by about 40 people, half of whom didn't really know what they were rallying for. A group of teenage girls from Salem, Oregon here on a choir trip chanted through their braces "We believe in Harvey Dent!" over and over again, cheering and holding up signs as cars passed. I observed one of them being sent to investigate just what they were cheering for, only to report back "guys they said this isn't for a movie, it's a real political campaign."
Did this whip Seattle into a frenzy about the new Batman movie? No. Was it fun to geek it up in a very public place in the middle of the day? Hell yes. A gallery of photos after the jump (click to zoom).
As many of you know, I try to be as involved in politics as I can, attending speeches and showing my support for my candidate of choice. Today I attended a political rally for Harvey Dent, who is looking to clean up Gotham. Personally I agree with his core values, see eye to eye on most issues (crime prevention, dual personalities) and definitely think he'd be a welcome change in this world of two-faced politicians. Besides attending the rally down at Pike's Place today, I'm going to be playing...
Rock Band - Do I even need to mention playing Rock Band anymore? It's basically every day. The beauty is that I can play one or two songs, be satisified and go on to something else. With Rock Band, every song I play feels like I am earning experience points. Practicing for the big day when I can live my rock dream. My rock dream meaning the day when I can finally say "I got all the achievements in Rock Band".
Mass Effect - I'm in the mood for a nice sit-down RPG, so I think it's time to dust off the ol' Mass Effect and continue progressing. I'm not sure if I should plunk down the points for the DLC quite yet, as everything is still pretty new to me in the game. The only thing I think that has been keeping me back is in trying to make the main character resemble myself I ended up creating a hideous freak monster. That is to say he is ugly. I should have stuck with the default face. Man, for someone who always plays down how important aesthetics are in games, that seems to be a big issue for me. I am a total hypocrite.
Nanostray 2 - Usually I tend to ignore DS shovelware that gets sent to me, but I vaguely remember enjoying the first Nanostray so I popped it in last night and man. It's gorgeous. Expect a full review in a few days.
posted by Chris on March 20, 2008 10:11 AM in Games
EA just blasted my inbox with some exciting news: Rock Band is getting an update this week, with the focus being on a brand new in-game music store. The music store will allow you to view tracks sorted by album, genre and more, with album art and song difficulty for each instrument displayed. This update will also include "additional game features that address many of the popular requests by the gaming community" which could mean anything!
I am thrilled to see EA keeping their word in making Rock Band a brand new way to experience music, and the addition of a music store means better organization for the 100+ downloadable tracks so far, and also most likely means that full album downloads are mere weeks away. Rock Band is already my favorite game of all time, and with this news its only going to get favoriter. Is that even a word?
posted by Chris on March 19, 2008 5:39 PM in Music
Oh how I have waited for this day. Ten years since the last Portishead album. Ten years we have had to wait to hear anything from the brilliant trio that is Beth Gibbons, Adrian Utley and Geoff Barrow. Ten freakin' years. I'd like to say that you will have to wait till April to hear their newest album, Third, but you know what? Fuck it. It's out right now on the internets and I urge you to find it. Third is epic life-changing music filled with sounds that literally I have never heard before. Listen to the first single off the album, Machine Gun, and enjoy being filled with the beauty that is Portishead once again. The beats sound like two robots fighting, and watching the loops being drummed live is remarkable. Delicious.
Yesterday I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of Monkey Island 2 for the ol' IBM PC in pretty decent condition, which contained all its original contents, including the Lucasarts Company Newsletter: The Adventurer. There are forum threads where people have enshrined these magazines (newspapers, really) but have you seen what's inside? For this week's Wayback Wednesday I present you with a heaping helping of nostalgia with scans of every page of The Adventurer issue 3. Marvel at the artistic prowess of "Adobe Systems' Photoshop"! Be astounded at the new technology called "scanning" (which is like a copier, but instead of copying to paper it copies to your computer!) Stare with awe at the company store, which sold tan fanny packs bearing the Indiana Jones name! Enjoy the hilariously funny Sam and Max comic, written and drawn by Steve Purcell, exclusive to The Adventurer!
I am sure many of you read these cover to cover back in the day. Full scans after the jump (they are large! Click to zoom!)
posted by Chris on March 19, 2008 4:39 PM in Games
Hello! Is it Wednesday already? Oh my. After yesterday's Rock Band drum marathon I decided to scale back a bit and work on some blogging stuff. But at the same time I was playing...
Rock Band - Attempting to complete the guitar solo tour on hard while scanning in pages for the Wayback Wednesday post today. The difficulty seems to scale up rapidly once you get past the first few venues, but luckily I already know all of these songs pretty dang well. I downloaded a few tracks that I for whatever reason forgot to pick up (such as My Sharona and Juke Box Hero) and commenced the rocking. I really need to start mixing between up and down strums on the guitar, these hard songs are making my arm tired. I can strum up and down just fine when playing bass parts but somehow adapting that method to the guitar just plain eludes me.
Carcassonne - Picked up the kings and barons expansion and tested that out. Jinny has been a bit obsessed with the XBLA version of this game recently and I choose a "rather than beat them join them" approach. It's neat to see someone's skills get so finely honed after a short period of time, but that's how she works. One day she will surpass me in every game I own, completing the prophesy and foretelling the doom of all mankind.
Bioshock - After starting a new game last night with the intent of beating it on hard without dying, I realized how futile the attempt was and just played to enjoy. What a revelation! See? Achievements aren't the root of all evil, we can play games without striving for them all the time! Now to get that one for finding every audio diary...
Are you a fan of both innuendo and politics? Well then what other choice do you have besides clothing yourself in this attractive Obama-wear? A friend of mine is printing these clever Obama shirts which are not only awesome and stylish but a portion of money earned from shirt sales will go to the Obama campaign. Slogans include "Rock out with your Barack out" and "Barack your socks off". I would have only been able to come up with something like "Between a Barack and a hard place" or "Detroit Barack City". It's a good thing there are people more clever than I!
Did you ever sit and wonder, late into the night, about what it would be like to have friends? You know, other humans that you can tolerate being around enough to enhance your life in new and interesting ways? I know, it's crazy. Personally I want to stab anyone who jumps into my 5 foot radius "stabby zone", but perhaps if I had a setup like these 9 awesome home theaters featured on Geek About I could get over my predilection for stabbery.
My favorite is this "Gamer's Paradise". Simple, elegant, full of gadgetry. It is also fairly similar to my own! Except I don't have 4 guitar controllers. Also, why do you need 4 guitar controllers, really. The man has gone mad with power!
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