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Unlike a few of my Weekly Geek cohorts, I grew out of Magic: The Gathering in my early teen years. For whatever reason, the game simply couldn't hold my interest in the same way it kept my friends captivated for years. However, in spite of having no real use for them, my cards safely tucked away in their plastic sleeves, subsequent cardboard boxes, and redundant boxes for boxes of cards. At some point during the period spanning then and now, my boxes of boxes of sleeved Magic cards made their way into the hands of cardsharp magii who would make better use of them.
It is only now I have realized the grave error of my ways.
SomethingAwful forums member, TheYellowAnt, demonstrates a particularly clever use of Magic cards which serve only to take up the space of former Magic: The Gathering players that have yet to part with their monstrous menagerie of cardstock creatures. With a craft knife and a little patience, the sleeves upon sleeves of cards become artwork any geek could be proud to hang on their wall.
For those still locked in card combat, TheYellowAnt's crafty ingenuity serves as the smartest life-counter I've seen, which you can see in the video below.
Anyone heard of Chrono Trigger? A little game released back in 1995 for the SNES? I realize it's obscure and all but I expect you pinnacles of geekery, you princes of Maine, might have heard of it at some point in your exhaustive games-centric research. Chris informs me (between Chrono Trigger induced pants-wetting sessions) that the original SNES version of Chrono Trigger is "one of the rarest SNES games you can find".
Well, come this holiday season, a version of Chrono Trigger that isn't a complete and total clusterfuck like the PS1 port will be coming to the DS. Excited yet? The mere mention of a port to the DS is enough to cause spasms of delight in even the most stoic of geeks. So I hope you're sitting down, as the DS port will add wireless multiplayer and a new dungeon to explore with your friends. In the palm of your hand. On Chrono Trigger.
Every time I begin to doubt that it's the future something like this happens. Screw flying cars and pill-food, I'll take Chrono Trigger on a device the size of my hands thank you very much.
A while back, Chris and I stole got the bright idea to mod us up some Nerf Mavericks. Turns out people like that kind of thing, and our geeky arts and crafts made their way 'round the tubes in no time. And while we were content to simply fashion a hasty holster solution that would only last a night, others found a better way in the form of the Grab-it-Pack.
The fine folks over at Grab-it-Pack HQ were nice enough to send us one of their uber-pockets and being that I'm the Weekly Geeker most likely to dress like a character from Final Fantasy it was decided I should take it for a spin.
When I first heard about Midway's 8th incarnation of their Mortal Kombat series Mortal Kombat vs DC I was stoked. As my friends moaned and whined about how illogical it is for the Mortal Kombat cast to go up against the DC Universe I was busy imagining all the ways Batman was going to make Scorpion his blood-soaked, weeping, reptilian bitch.
My keen optimism lasted for about a day. A day which rapidly spiraled into the sad realization that in all likelihood this game would not be the game I was hoping for. Between Midway aiming for a T for Teen rating, DC being obsessively picky about what they'll allow to befall their characters, and the subsequent abandonment of the Fatalities as we've come to know and love them through the years it looked as though Mortal Kombat vs DC was going to be just about as lackluster as the Oracles at Gamephi proclaimed.
But according to Ed Boon, the brains behind Mortal Kombat, that's all a load of hogwash.
There was never any statement on our part that fatalities will be gone or that finishing moves will be gone. We did acknowledge that we won't be able to do the same kinds of outrageous moves, like tearing someone's head off and the spine being attached to it. But there are a lot of assumptions that there will be no blood in the game, that there are no fatalities in the game. It's an assumption that, because the DC characters will be in there, those features will have to be dropped. My response is that, no, we're modifying fatalities. But I have every intention to keep finishers.
That's great and all, but if you're the kind of Mortal Kombat player that I am, tearing someone's head off and triumphantly jiggling the attached spinal column as it drips blood on the viscera covered floor is the highlight of my day. Although to be fair I have been playing Mortal Kombat since 1992 and as we all know violent videogames turn you into a bloodthirsty maniac.
As far as creating a plausible storyline for how Sub-Zero is able to wail on Superman I'm still not concerned. Oh Ed claims there will be one, but let's take a moment to get a little perspective, shall we? Mortal Kombat is a game about magic ninjas using their magic ninja powers to magically ninja their way into the back of your skull by way of the front. Adding a cast of DC superheroes to that mix doesn't shatter my suspension of disbelief and to be perfectly honest, they could do away with storyline altogether so long as I'm able to rip Superman's still beating heart from his chest like I've always dreamed. Everything else is just dressing.
This week New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art unveiled it's newest exhibit "Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy." As you may have guessed from the title, the exhibit features costumes worn by actors in superhero cinema. In addition to a wardrobe that would inspire murderous jealousy in any comic geek, on display will be outfits created by today's leading couture designers inspired by the supersuits and contemporary sportswear similarly inspired.
The exhibit runs through September 1st, so any Big Apple based geeks would do well to go and have a peek. For those of us not lucky enough to live in New York City the gallery over at DVICE will simply have to do.
There are many ways to prove your eternal allegiance -- or freakish obsession as the case may be -- to a particular system or game, the most popular being ink indelibly etched into flesh. Hell, Chris himself sports a triforce tattoo. But one man has taken these declarations one step further, not only carving the object of his obsession into his flesh, but doing so on a fairly large scale. I realize not everyone has the same tolerance for this kind of imagery that I do so I've posted the images under the cut, those with weak-ish stomachs need not click.
John Cleese is a name well known to any geek worth his salt, having spent years delivering his strange, occasionally perplexing brand of humor to a coterie of strange, occasionally perplexing people whose nature it is to latch onto anything that seems to speak to them. But the man isn't all madcap British humor, he's a multifaceted character, involving himself in musical theater, philanthropy, and politics.
It seems that John Cleese has offered his services as a speech writer to presidential incumbent Barack Obama should he receive the Democratic nomination. Cleese believes that his services to Obama would be crucial in helping him ascend the White House stairs, and to be perfectly honest I couldn't agree more. We all know Cleese to be a fantastic writer and I'm sure that if he does end up writing speeches for Obama that they will be inspiring and wonderful, but beyond all that, he's got geek cred in spades.
It's a sad fact that many people don't intimately familiarize themselves with the policies and backgrounds of presidential candidates before voting, choosing instead to place their mark next whichever candidate their favored news organization or friends are backing. But this fact is where John Cleese comes into play for Obama. Many will note his involvement in Obama's campaign and continue analyzing the intricacies of policy and political competition in order to make their decision, but others, those that vote without any real research or insight, may decide to vote for Obama simply because he's associated with John Cleese.
"A vote for Obama is a vote for John Cleese? Sign me up!"
While that isn't exactly the way I'd like to see Obama (or any candidate for that matter) make it to the oval office, at this point, in order to avoid a self-admitted games censorship advocate from making a serious run at the office, I'm more than happy to accept the assistance of people who are happy to let others do the thinking for them. And really, if someones going to be doing the thinking for you, John Cleese isn't a bad guy for the job.
You know what I think would be great? If gamers stopped being so damn selfish, collectively removed themselves from their couches for once, and used all that energy they spend playing games for the betterment of mankind. Wait, no, I don't think that, the Red Cross thinks that, or at least that's the implication given by their latest ad. The reason I don't think that? Gamers are are spending time, money, and effort to make the world a better place to live, and we're doing it with the thing we most love, games.
Now I'll be the first to admit that I can get a little reactionary when it seems like someone that isn't "hip to the lingo" is using games as a scapegoat or device in their advertising to drive people to action. And this ad by the Lebanese Red Cross is really clever, well designed, and is ultimately advocating something that I am behind 100%, but lumping gamers into the mix to make their point because it's convenient causes exactly what they're trying to avoid to occur; it's a divisive message and is going to make those of us sensitive to this kind of thing less likely to lend aid to their cause.
Thankfully, those of us that are now unwilling to lend aid to the Red Cross are likely still involved in any number of the multitude of charitable organizations run by and for gamers and the rest of the world. There are organizations such as Child's Play which donates games, books and toys to sick children across the world, Folding@Home which can be run in the background on a PC or a PS3 and distributes computer processing across the globe in order to better understand the evolution of viruses, or Gifts From Gamers which sends consoles, games, DVDs, CDs, books and magazines to soldiers currently stationed on the front lines. That last one is interesting considering the International Red Cross' roots are in assisting soldiers during war time. Seems the Lebanese Red Cross is a little late in their appeal, we've been on point helping those that need it for years now, especially soldiers.
Again I'd like to state that I don't disagree with the Red Cross' underlying message, we should be saving the world for real. The world is a horrible place full of violence, illness, tragedy, and horror, and we as human beings have a responsibility to put an end to that. The thing is though, we are, and we have been for a long time without any other unifying factors in place except that we all enjoy gaming and we aren't the shallow, thoughtless gang that we're often painted as. Take a look at gamers as a whole and you'll find an incredibly diverse group of people, a group that has put aside any differences it might have in order to help those in need. How many other charitable organizations can you think of whose members ignore the boundaries of race, age, gender, sexuality, and religion simply so they can give aid and make the world a better place to sit on your couch for hours at a time, seemingly doing nothing but accomplishing so much?
We all want to help, that much is obvious, but alienating gamers isn't the best way to get that help, no matter how many ignorant cause-heads titter at your clever joke.
Knowing you lovable geeklings to be a voracious crowd of gamers, unsatisfied with a few measly pieces of shwag and promotional material with which adorn your dwellings and proclaim superiority over your comrades, it is with delight that I bring you the latest treasure from my regular forays into the wilds of Instructables.
The proposed purpose of this project is simply to make a giant lamp from many smaller lamps, but you know better than that don't you? Look at it, how could that be anything other than a cleverly crafted Katamari, set to spread its cockle-warming glow all throughout your humble abode. The wide array of colors offered by the Swedish furniture shilling powerhouse, Ikea, allow you to get as creative as you'd like.
Pondering this project also brings to mind ways in which it could further simulate its origins, namely with the application of a bit of velcro or some other random adhesive, anything strong enough to firmly grip a household pet or pre-adolescent sibling should suffice.
In 1989 there was a brief lived show called The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! featuring Lou Albano as Mario. For whatever reason, I could never get over the fact that DIC (a company whose name I found hilarious as a kid) cast some nearly washed up wrestler as Mario. Lou Albano was OK I guess, but he didn't really look like Mario to me, something just didn't jive.
Now I know what was missing, what vital component my live action Mario experience was lacking; it was complete and total horror. The rendition of Mario above as "real" is fairly accurate when you think about it. Mario is a short little goblin-man with freakishly disproportionate eyes, nose, and moustache. He is nothing but a horrible mutant with the warped frame of mind that inclines one to eat mushrooms and random plant life, both things bound to put a semi-permanent five o' clock shadow on your face and a cracked expression in your eyes.
If The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! was redone with this Mario rather than an aging, out of work actor-cum-wrestler, you can bet your ass I'd be parked in front of my TV every Saturday morning, Princess Peach footy pajamas and all.
There is a point in most geek's lives where they simply stop fighting the inevitable and revel in their geekery. Some do this by going to Stark Trek conventions with regular Starfleet uniform AND dress uniform packed to ensure they're dressed for all occasions, others wear wolf-shirts, and some get complex mathematical formulas tattooed on themselves that make sense to no one but other math enthusiasts (and to those people the tattoo is invariably hilarious). The point is simply that as we revel in being deemed social outcasts we adopt ways to show the world how proud we are of this fact.
So why not do it with some bling?
Itsno.name has created three rings, one for each precious metal, that bear the periodic table entry for the metal they're made out of. Yes they might be a smidge on the tacky side, but if you're wearing a wolf-shirt, have an entire set of Starfleet uniforms, or your t-shirt's consist exclusively of the shirts you've gotten at cons or as prizes then a periodic ring isn't going to put you over the top. You know you look awesome, and that's really all that matters.
The evenings of my ill-spent youth, hunched over a sub-par laptop, grinning in psychotic glee as the bones of my weakling human enemies were crushed underfoot, are some my favorite memories of that time. Seeing this video brought back a flood of those memories, and had me grinning in the ear-spanning way that only the hazy memory of adolescent tyranny and war-crimes can.
It's interesting that the game itself hasn't changed very much, it's simply prettier; which makes sense when you consider it. Sure, a different manner of piloting troops through the battlefield might be an interesting mechanic, but when it comes down to it I think we all just a newer, better Starcraft and not a different game.
Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons and provider of countless hours of entertainment to geeks the world over, passed away today at the age of 70. Please take a moment to reflect on just how much he contributed to the enrichment of our lives.
Collections of hard copy media can leave a geek torn. On the one hand all your videos and music reside on a piece of hardware no bigger than your hand and hard copy media takes up a lot of space, but on the other hand digital media is simply a transitory concept and can't invoke a tactile experience the way flipping through CD liner notes can.
Until the time comes for you to jettison all your CD's and DVD's wouldn't an elegant storage solution be nice? I mean, your options up till now have been stack them on a shelf, stack them on the floor, or file them away in a stack of CD binders. Alternately you could go the more common route and just drop them wherever you happen to stand in a carefully constructed, inexplicable organizational system in which random debris and detritus all fall under the same category: floor.
These CD folders are an ingenious way to not only store your CD or DVD collection, but also to cheaply overcome another all too common pitfall of adolescent geek life; first apartment syndrome, in which the four walls of a parentless abode are artless and barren. Whether you apply cover art to your wall-folders or a design as in the image above, these are a simple, free means to an elegant design end. Download them here, and post your CD folder designs to our forums!
What you see before you is a comic from Start.no chronicling the pinnacle of human achievement. Were you to actually achieve greatness of this magnitude I imagine that Bill Gates himself would approach you with a large gray cardboard achievement icon. While I realize Tetris isn't a Microsoft property, even men such as Bill are obligated to bow in the face such skill.
We at The Weekly Geek know that not all of us fulfill the stereotype of slovenly, unkempt wretch, and for those we have a new feature: Geek Chic, bringing you the finest in geeky home furnishings. To those fulfilling the stereotype; pay attention, you might just learn something.
Say the word LAN party to someone uninitiated in the ways of our strange congregations and you'll likely hear derisive humor about dimly lit basements, tangible smells, and nests of Redbull cans in which exhausted marathoners collapse to slumber. While this is the case in some instances it need not be so and certainly isn't the case all the time. Geek gatherings can be classy affairs, complete with pinky-out sipping of beverages as you blast the everliving crap out of your friends. As the resident chic geek, I am here to assist in these endeavors.
What better addition to your tinkling glasses of Redbull infused concoctions than a handful of Tetrice? Not only is this better than a handful of dirty ice from the back of a freezer bucket, but it enables you to express your dominance over your peers before you even touch a keyboard or controller. With your Tetrice filled drinks you send a subtle message of superiority to your pals, and with each sip their fear and admiration will grow.
Sure, Tetrice won't assist in your performance, but after the day is done and you've kicked all those camping assholes out of your apartment you can take solace in the knowledge that yours is the mostly finely adorned geek den.
By now you've probably seen the Gears of War 2 ad in its original format and yes, it's amazing and features the best possible use of the chainsaw bayonet. But couldn't it be better somehow? Isn't there a way it could somehow take on a depth not often found in a silhouetted animation of one man sawing another in half from the testes up? Mightn't there have been an idea immediately discarded by the Gears 2 marketing team upon conception because of how cliché it's become?
There sure is; and where Microsoft would've been hilariously foolhardy in adding Gary Jules' Mad World as the soundtrack to the Gears 2 trailer, when two gamers add an emotional and touching song to a violent and bloody game trailer it's funny. Not only is it amusing, but the song fits perfectly, and thanks to the fine folks at 2PStart, where once was a really exciting trailer for a game is now a really exciting trailer for a game with an awesome soundtrack.
The Weekly Geek would like to introduce Hampson Bonerman, guest writer and No More Heroes enthusiast. If you have a review you'd like to share with The Weekly Geek, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No More Heroes should belong to every Wii owner who considers themselves a gamer. I wasn't aware of who Suda 51 was when I bought it, having skipped the Gamecube and subsequently Killer7, so I didn't really have that good of an idea what I was in for.
You play as Travis Touchdown; slacker, otaku, and wrestling fan. Having won a used beam katana in an internet auction, you find yourself strapped for cash. What's an almost-Kaneda's bike driving, morally bankrupt, moe loving guy supposed to do? I hear the assassination business pays pretty well.
Back in 2004, four women and one Dungeon Master got together and made a live action show of their role playing exploits. Each woman acted out her character's actions and battle scenes with hilariously bad green screen effects. Inexplicably, Dungeon Majesty is now available on DVD, though the entire series is also available on Youtube.
Jimiyo is an artist with an obvious passion for games. He's created the surreal 8-bit Link featured above, a similarly strange 8-bit Mario, and most notably a fantastic 8-bit rendition of Obama. Not only does he share our love of games, geekery, and art, but we share political ideals as well. I ask you my geekateers, is this or is this not nearly the very essence of The Weekly Geek? I submit that it is.
There are few things better in life than a really good 8-bit musician. Catch yourself in the right mood, with a good set of headphones handy, and walking around with some 8-bit in your ears turns the world into a video game, a really fun one, and you're winning. The frenetic pacing of Sabrepulse is what really seals the deal for me, any music that can make me feel separate from my surroundings as I zip past my fellow man in a blur of beats and tuned in head-bobbing automatically gets the Weekly Geek seal of approval.
Let's assume for the sake of argument that there are a few people reading the site that don't also listen to the podcast. I know, I know, everyone does, but this is just an intellectual experiment so bear with me.
Now if you don't listen to the podcast you wouldn't know that two weeks ago my fellow Geeks blessed me with a new nickname. That nickname? Bizzleteats 2000. Now on that podcast I made mention of possibly changing my gamertag to Bizzleteats 2000, but experiencing reservations after the heady rush of being largely ignored faded I opted not to change it.
But I can't let my adoring fans (Hi Mom!) down, and so I've left the decision up to you. Readers and listeners will get to decide if I should change my gamertag. The choices are simply yes or no (although if you like Bizzleteats more than Bizzleteats 2000 be sure to say so), and can be submitted by commenting here, on the podcast post, the forums post dedicated to this poll, or by sending an email to email@example.com
posted by Qais on January 28, 2008 10:02 AM in Games
Listen to or read The Weekly Geek for a while and you'll gradually come to realize that we often don't take religion seriously. Which is a good thing considering taking religion too seriously at best leads to intolerance and small minded douchebaggery and at worst leads to all out war and horrific torture. That's right folks, we're just doing our part here.
Molle Industries is doing their part too. Their browser game Faith Fighter is a really fun 2D Flash fighter featuring all your favorite religious icons. God, Jesus, Buddha, Budai (the Chinese incarnation of Gautama Buddha, succeeding him in the cycle of reincarnation according to Chinese Buddhism), Ganesh, and Muhammed are all playable characters and each one has special attacks they can use during a fight along with punches and kicks.
Molle created a censored and uncensored version of the game, which only features a black dot over the face of Muhammed. The tenets of Islam stated that no images of God or his prophet should be made, and while Judaism has a similar stipulation, some (note the use of some, not all) Muslims can get a little upset about someone that doesn't even subscribe to their belief system violating its law.
As far as 2D flash fighters go this is a great one and would be well done even with a different set of characters and lacking the tongue-in-cheek cynicism we love at The Weekly Geek, but the addition of blasphemy is like the uncalled for (and thus hilarious) rudeness cherry on our offensive cake. And boy do we love cake.
It seems like the "format wars" are all but over these days, with studios dropping HD-DVD exclusivity in favor of Sony's Blu-ray format. Another blow has been dealt to HD-DVD with Trans World Entertainment, owners of F.Y.E, giving Blu-ray content more catalog room in their stores. F.Y.E. plans to continue carrying HD-DVD content, and hey, some retailers back in the 70's carried BetaMax and VHS, and BetaMax is still going stro...oh wait.
But while HD-DVD might be on the ropes they aren't down for the count just yet. F.Y.E. isn't going Blu-ray exclusive, planning to maintain a catalog of "key new releases" and offering to special order HD-DVD content they don't carry in store. Still, this fight is all but over, and PS3's Blu-ray players are starting to look mighty attractive.
posted by Qais on January 23, 2008 8:10 AM in Games
Lately the mainstream media has been crawling out of the woodwork to at least address the topic of video games if not to simply bash it in an uninformed fashion. Starting with Kevin McCullough and ending this week with FOX News, it's been a constant deluge of complete and total douchebaggery. Naturally, this topic has garnered a good amount of attention from game blogs, much to the chagrin of those that seem to think that exposing and expounding on the issue only lends these people validity.
Admittedly, they're granted a little validity, and they get some pretty epic pageviews for a day or two, but eventually the hype dies down and they are largely forgotten. Unfortunately, talking about the unapologetic manner in which the mainstream media pretends they are actually well versed in the topic of gaming is the only way we can fight back. Until now.
Following the broadcast of a recent round table discussion led by Cooper Lawrence regarding the recent Mass Effect scandal, gamers flooded Amazon leaving one star ratings and tyrannical screeds in the review section for Cooper's book The Cult Of Perfection.
Unfortunately, Amazon is now deleting one star ratings on the book, alienating a pretty hefty portion of their customer base in the process. So big ups to Amazon in that regard. However, in spite of Amazon's attempts at scrubbing the reviews quite a few remain on the page at any given time, speaking pretty highly of the tenacity of gamers if nothing else.
Granted, not everyone that completely loses their mind (or makes a REALLY informed decision) and makes a frothing, completely ignorant statement about games has an Amazon page we can send hordes of rabid fanboys to vandalize, but even these small victories are cherished.
posted by Qais on January 11, 2008 10:26 AM in Games
When I was younger my cousins and I would have epic Tetris tournaments, nearly always resulting in a knock down, drag out fight over sour grapes based accusations of cheating. Unfortunately I never got to the frothing madness levels of the game, at which point your fingers become an unrecognizable blur as you crouch over your keyboard (the chair having long since been abandoned). As such, Tetrical is an exercise in frustration and battling flashbacks of defeat and the echoing cheers of my triumphant cousins. So hey, two games for the price of none. If Tetris in 3D is too hard (or you simply can't stop laughing at the name Tetrical) try Cubical, an easier version.
On last night's podcast we spoke briefly about the advantages of digital distribution over physical media and the changes that are likely to occur in this direction eventually. One of those changes is the removal of DRM, and it appears that Sony has stepped up to the plate.
Sony has announced their new DRM free download service which they (presumably) hope will allow them to relax Apple's stranglehold on digital distribution of media. Debuting in the U.S. and Canada on June 15th, Sony's digital distribution service, called MusicPass, will act much like a gift card system. Essentially, customers will purchase an album card (for $12.99) from a physical store, and then use the card to download their music. Once the full roll out has been completed cards will be available in Best Buy, Target, Fred's, Coconuts, FYE, Wherehouse, Spec's, and Winn-Dixie.
Granted this isn't the best way to accomplish digital distribution, however, Sony is the last major music distributor to effect a DRM free digital distribution service. As such, the inception of this service marks a momentous occasion, that now a majority of music distributors at least have a DRM free digital distribution system in place.
It may be a while before a majority of users adopt a digital distribution system as their main source of music acquisition but it's important to keep in mind that changes in policy (staunch policy at that) by large corporations are often a reflection of market desire. The wave was started long ago, but we're finally starting to see the crest; are you ready to give up your hard copy? I know I am.
So admittedly the headline is an obvious statement to make. Any game based on the September 11th attacks is going to cause a controversy; hundreds of people died in a vicious, underhanded attack for a questionable ideology. Base a game on that and yeah, controversy will abound.
Now before I expound on whether the game should actually have been made I'd like to at least describe it, to give you an idea what you'd be dealing with if you actually sat down to play it. Supposedly, New York Defender II (as it is titled) features a sky full of planes soaring overhead, which you, a lone gunner, are obligated to shoot down. The rub here is that only a few of the planes are to be shot down as the majority of them will simply land on runways dotting the landscape. Fail to shoot down the appropriate planes in time and a clutch of New York City monuments (such as the UN building, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Wall Street and the Brooklyn Bridge) will be destroyed.
Admittedly I haven't played the recently released sequel, but I have played the original and unless some major technological advances in Flash games have been made that I'm unaware of I'm relatively certain they're similar.
That being said, I'm pretty appalled at this game. The tagline for the original is, "Go beyond your powerlessness and use your mouse to fight back" which indicates if nothing else that the game was likely created out of anger and a severely misplaced sense of patriotism. How many friends and family of those lost do you suspect will find solace in firing at planes representing the cause of their loved one's deaths? My suspicion is none.
The game is simply in incredibly poor taste at best, and serves as an incredibly painful reminder of what happened to those that were involved in this tragedy at worst. Yes, there are a lot of really violent games that from a purely analytical standpoint outdo New York Defender when it comes to pure violence. What that doesn't address however is that the majority of those games aren't based on real, recent events and like any fiction is intended to be taken with a grain of salt.
How much salt do you think you'd need to stomach New York Defender? I'm guessing far more than a grain.
The holidays are a time of family gathering. People coming together at the feet of the matriarch (or patriarch if all those studies regarding women living longer than men are hogwash) to exchange gifts, well wishing, and other disingenuous pleasantries. This is also a time of horrifying anticipation for geeks and nerds around the world. This is the annual cleaning of computers and long winded, often confusing, explanations of hobbies, jobs, and functioning in an incredibly disparate world of those in the know and those blissfully ignorant.
I spent my own holidays with my family, and as many have related to me in the past week, I spent much of that time explaining what I do for a living, what I do for fun, and last but not least, hunched over a jaw-clenchingly slow computer doing everything in my power to keep from sending my boot through the monitor.
It is a strange experience, these annual info dumps and viral scrubbings. Not only are we suddenly the resident expert but we are also surrounded by people that have no idea what we're talking about. No one knows what an RSS feed is, or what the word "blog" means, or even why setting up a vast library of MP3s might be preferable to a big collection of CDs.
And it is thus we, the geeks, are faced during family gathering. Many of you are tempted to scoff and sneer, maintaining an air of intellectual superiority that only comes off as severe douchebaggery to your family (because it is). Others will try to drag their family members kicking and screaming into the 21st century, spending lavishly on electronics that would make any geek worth their salt salivate and taking hours to explain the finer points of internet culture.
Personally, I'm a little of both. It seems I simply can't completely rid myself of that sighing IT jerk from the back of my head, nor can I stop myself from expounding on memetics to the blank faces of my family.
What challenges do you face with your technologically phobic (or at least uninformed) family, and what are some of the best ways to gently push them into the blinding light of the technological singularity?
We're starting a new feature here at The Weekly Geek called Books That I Have. Every week we will profile a strange, funny, interesting or otherwise rare book that we have in our home libraries.
Geeks are a strange breed, and most, though not all, have had occasion to deal with one group or another of drooling mongoloids seemingly bent on doing nothing but making said geek's life miserable. Imagine now, that the tables have turned, and that the power is in the hands of the geek. Not 15 or 20 years later like we all know is likely, but now, armed only with the skill most adolescent geeks have on hand; a near encyclopedic knowledge of science fiction, video games, aliens, monsters, robots, dinosaurs, and everything else that loner kids with more imagination than inclination to socialize find interesting.
Charon's Ark features just such a geek; Charlie Freeman, who, when he and some schoolmates are kidnapped by aliens destined for the moon of Pluto, is finally able to put to use the hours spent absorbing fantastic tales of space aliens and starship travel. It's an adolescent geek's dream! Finally, the outcasts are running the show, and much like you'd imagine a beaten man to do when facing down his brutalizers, the show run is rife with petty revenge.
But that's the best thing about Charon's Ark; every character is believable, human, people you interact with, people some of you are. It's easy to see parts of ourselves in the characters author Rick Gauger expertly plays out across the pages of Charon's Ark, easier still to rejoice with their triumphs, feel the crush of their follies, and let the hair on the back of your neck stand in fear with their danger. We are the characters, and Rick reminds us that, regardless of the labels we apply to ourselves and have applied to us by others, none of us is all one thing or the other.
Yes, most of the characters are kids, teenagers even. Hell the book itself is often classified as "Young Adult", but don't allow yourself to be fooled. Much like the characters are all themselves realistic and human, they are all also realistically dealt with. The kids at times are near totally sociopathic monsters, as kids occasionally are, and Rick attempts no illusion regarding the horrible things that can happen in extreme situations with a gaggle of panicked, unruly kids about. The book is at times incredibly grim, unlike other SF aimed at adolescents which hopes to paint a picture of a world in which real bad things only happen to people over 18, and as such honest and straightforward with it's intended audience.
Sadly, I didn't discover Charon's Ark until much later in life, which while not hampering my enjoyment of it in the least did leave me wishing I had found this book when I was Charlie Freeman; young, awkward, and with a head full of aliens, monsters, robots and dinosaurs. My head is still full of robots and dinosaurs, but the visceral feeling of being the shunned embarrassment of my peers has long since passed (mostly). The geeks of the world thank you Rick, for the paperback arm around the shoulder in youth, the epic tale of spacenapped kids, but most importantly, for the reiteration that an imagination is the most important tool you will ever have. Every kid that has ever felt misunderstood, alone, weird, left out, alien or otherwise ostracized should own a copy of this book, and you should too.
posted by Qais on December 27, 2007 10:06 AM in Music
I am a voracious beast. My addiction to new music is near insatiable. My days are usually spent with at least one ear crammed with ear bud and a constant stream of noise flowing through it, occasionally dipping into my babbling brook of new things to snatch forth music like a wriggling fish for your enjoyment.
Akala may not be for everyone. There's a fair bit of rapping/rhyming going on over the incredibly hot beat and for many that can be an immediate turn off or appear in a song and completely ruin it. I'll be honest, on first listen I was angered at the initial appearance of Akala rapping over the track. My funky fresh beats had been stepped on by a feckless, supposed master of rhyme.
Eventually I found myself to enjoy the lyrical stylings of Akala; the lyrics are just right for strutting down the street on a rainy afternoon, head bobbing in time to the fat bassline, pretending you're electro living in the land of the light.
The latest Photoshop Friday over at the inimitable SomethingAwful comes with a couple steampunk re-imaginings of a DS, Wii, and Wiimote. Temper the overwhelming sadness you'll surely feel when you open that Wii rain check this Christmas with another picture of something you can't have.
posted by Qais on December 21, 2007 11:29 AM in Games
If you've listened to basically any of the podcasts I've been on here at the Weekly Geek you know that I have a love/hate relationship with Nintendo. Sometimes Nintendo gets a little uppity, and yeah I drink a bit so maybe I over react, but Nintendo knows I love them and...oh Nintendo, baby why do you make me hit you? However in this case, I'm pleading the Connery defense.
You see, Nintendo is at it again, having announced in Nintendo Power,
"There are no plans right now for a Kirby game on Wii but there are plenty of Kirby fans out there, so in the meantime look out for Kirby in the upcoming Super Smash Bros. Brawl which will be released in 2008."
Disappointing news considering Kirby has been one of my favorite Nintendo titles since Crystal Shards. Interestingly there is no mention of additional Kirby titles for the DS either in the affirmative or negative. If nothing else, for the Kirby fans at least the disappointment of no titles on the Wii might be slightly abated by the rampant speculation of new Kirby titles on the DS resulting from a lack of direct denial on Nintendo's part.
British humor is fairly hit or miss with a lot of people, often times falling into the realm of incomprehensibly odd. This incomprehensibility however is often what makes those of us on the American side of the pond love it so. The Look Around You series has the late 70's/early 80's shtick down pat, so much so that I questioned if this were a gag show or a bit of surreal ephemera from yesteryear. This clip on computer games toes the line of believability, you want to believe it's real, if only so that these strange, affected people are real.
posted by Qais on December 20, 2007 1:01 PM in Games
Last night was the first, of what will hopefully be many, Pinkapalooza; an event put together by the awesome folks at Pink Godzilla as a charity benefit for Child's Play. The event kicked off with several rounds of Rock Band, which The Pink Godzillas rapidly dominated with a score of 2 million and then some. Although admittedly they did employ a secret weapon, of which ample use was made. Never before have I seen a man employ both cowbell AND pelvic thrusting with such skill. I'm told that with therapy and the right combination of psychoactive medications the nightmares will eventually end.
posted by Qais on December 20, 2007 11:46 AM in Games
Criterion Games has released a map of the crash grounds called Paradise City, and it's huge. A brief glance shows a multitude of courses and terrain, all guaranteed to please or at least leave you loosing a spit riddled expletive stream at your TV. Look closely however, and you'll be marking out sweet jumps and plotting horrific crashes at hairpin turns, the wheels of automotive evil slowly turning in your head.
I defy you to memorize this map, with it's weaving roads and intersections seemingly designed by a sadistic, crack addled, 8 year old. Eyeing the intertwining arteries of Paradise City invokes a bowel loosening fear and sense of helplessness. Like a small child stumbling through a dark forest of asphalt, carnage, and a bevy supercharged machinery bent on cataclysmic destruction.
Take note, weep softly, and tremble with anticipation friends; Paradise City will be amazing.
posted by Qais on December 19, 2007 10:43 AM in Games
This is it everyone, the moment we've been waiting nearly a decade for. Wait, scratch that. The moment we've been waiting a decade for is the actual release of the game, in all it's testosterone fueled, blonde crew cut coiffed glory. What we have here is the moment we'll all settle for, while we wait for a game that is nearly guaranteed to disappoint.
The teaser features about what you'd expect. Several monsters are featured, and it appears that pigs, squid, and what I could swear was a mutant sea cucumber will debut alongside the generic alien monsters we're used to. Duke flexes his obviously well rendered muscles and drops a one liner that falls incredibly flat, but you can tell he's just not into it. And can you blame him? My enthusiasm would have waned pretty quickly if my creators left me on an infinite plane of fog with just a cigar and weight set to keep me entertained for 10 years.
One of the things the Seattle gaming community often boasts of is our geographical proximity to what could be called the mecca of import and classic gaming: Pink Godzilla. The light red reptilian purveyors of that which the Geekmobile breaks for (as the bumper-sticker declares) have taken one step further in the process of setting the hearts of gamers the world over aflutter.
Combining four things most gamers love: liquor, RockBand, prizes, and altruism, Pink Godzilla is kicking off their first Pinkapalooza. Pinkapalooza will be held to benefit Penny Arcade's Child's Play charity, December 19th (that's tomorrow for the slow students), at the Nectar Lounge in Fremont.
Pinkapalooza will feature local 8-bit artist Leeni, a Battle of the Bands on RockBand, and drawings for a Wii (bundled with Super Mario Galaxies), a 360 Rock Band Special Edition, a bevy of 360 games, and Jones Soda: Christmas soda packs. A paltry 10 dollars at the door will net you entry (although the event is 21+) and 2 raffle tickets for the aforementioned prizes with each additional ticket running 5 dollars a piece.
Come join the Weekly Geek crew for a little merriment for a good cause, and if altruism isn't your thing think of all the people that will inevitably clamor after your crusted hide following a public demonstration of your music simulation prowess.
The folks over at ActiBlizz or BlizzVis or ActiZard or whatever they're calling themselves these days have released another of those strange World of Warcraft commercials. The most recent features my favorite diminutive Hollywood star, Vern Troyer.
There is something about that little man that fills my heart with a strange glee. Hit the jump for ads featuring Mister T and William Shatner, both just as excellent as Mr. Troyer's.
Sadly, unlike my cohorts, I was unable to attend last year's E3. As such, I only experienced what was arguably the best example of fixing something that isn't broken through the various tales of horror related to me. Journos across the board were shuffled hither and thither in a strange pantomime of the Keystone Cops, often arriving late for, or missing entirely, interviews and panels which I am sure they'd rather have attended.
It appears that next year E3 returns to its old home in the Los Angeles Convention Center for 2008. The ESA was quick to note that the return of E3 to it's ancestral spawning grounds did not indicate a return to the epic trade show style convention of old with, "press events and small meetings" being the order of the day and the likely possibility of Kentia hall being turned into the freeplay hangar.
E3 will take place July 15-17, yet sadly, most of us will have to make do with E for All, lacking the sweet, sweet journalistic credentials (however seemingly apocryphal and overblown) to be considered for such an event. A chosen few from the 'Geek will make a daring journey to the streets of Los Angeles, armed with badges and cameras, to paw creepily at barely clothed booth girls and incite volleys of snide remarks wherever necessary.
posted by Qais on December 17, 2007 3:08 PM in Games
Have a look-see at the recently released game play video for Ninja Gaiden 2. Itagaki's notoriously difficult sequel to the 360's Ninja Gaiden looks to be gruesomely violent, something we here at Chez Geek are all fans of. However, the obvious violence present in the game play video begs the question why are some games singled out as exceptionally violent (Manhunt 2) where others are often ignored?
Rockband is a great game not only for it's incredibly engaging game play and , but also (mostly) because it provides us all with a brief respite from the harsh realities of our stultifyingly dull lives. For a moment you can let the world of cubicles, TPS reports, and passive aggression melt away, for a moment...you can be a rock star.
However we here at The Geek enjoy our schadenfruede, and as such we bring you this video of what you probably actually sound like playing Rockband. Let your illusions wash away in the waters of vicious, brutal, off key, arrhythmic reality and weep.
posted by Qais on December 13, 2007 9:50 AM in Games
Today, the highly anticipated demo for Burnout Paradise is delivered into the hot little hands of multi-car pileup crazed fanboys the world over (except Asia) courtesy of Xbox Live Marketplace. The demo features a similar, if not the same, nasal, annoying, violence inspiring announcer introducing you to Motor City, Big Surf Beach, Ocean View, and the jumps, stunts and smashes for which the Burnout series is famous. Perhaps the best thing about the demo is the Easy Play feature with which you can invite friends to join in on the rampant spree of destruction and mayhem. The full version of Burnout Paradise will be released in North America on January 22nd and Europe January 24th, 2008.
posted by Qais on December 12, 2007 1:20 PM in Games
The demo that many PS3 owners have been waiting for, that of Little Big Planet, was initially expected for release during Fall 07'. As it turns out, that promised demo won't be turning up until at least 2008 and so far there's no word as to when in '08 the demo can be expected.
Ron Eagle, senior manager of PR for Sony Computer Entertainment America told MTV “I can officially confirm that there won’t be a demo this year ”. However, Ron Eagle also stated that he had played 30 of the 50 developer created levels and that he was genuinely pleased with them. Ron reports we can expect both the demo AND release of the highly anticipated "build your own level" scroller Little Big Planet come 2008.
posted by Qais on December 12, 2007 12:50 PM in Games
Regardless of our apelike fanboy lust for Valve's most recent release The Orange Box we have to admit there are some minor problems. Even near godlike releases have bugs that require a fix post-release, thankfully, the people at Valve recognize that fact and are planning an update to fix some of the problems reported with Team Fortress 2.
The patch will fix numerous bugs in the game including bandwidth issues, stats reporting, menu enhancements and exploit fixing. Valve investigated the issues after reading forums posts made by Team Fortress 2 players, showing Valve to be every ounce the incredibly awesome game studio we've always known them to be.
In addition to patching purported problems, Valve is at work on new maps which don't as yet have a release date. The patch has already been submitted to Microsoft and will most likely see release before Christmas.
posted by Qais on December 11, 2007 12:23 PM in Games
Warm up those sneers and put on your best ripped denim and leopard print vest, geeks! Today brings us Rockband's Punk Pack. The 440 point punk pack includes "I Fought the Law" by The Clash, "Rockaway Beach" by The Ramones, and "Ever Fallen in Love" as made famous by Buzzcocks. Of course, each song will be available for individual download, another way in which Rockband is rapidly proving itself superior to it's precursor, Guitar Hero. Individual tracks are available at 160 points each.
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