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E3: A peek at the Videogame History Museum booth


Jun 09
// Conrad Zimmerman
While the E3 show floor is primarily concerned with showing the world what's next for the videogame industry, The Videogame History Museum brought a little bit of its past to the event this week. Tucked in the corner of the s...
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Of course you do! I just got back from an early visit to the L.A. Convention Center, home to next week's massive industry event: E3. You may have heard about it. The final preparations are almost complete, with companies putt...

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E3: Hitman: Absolution snags the coveted South Hall steps


Jun 01
// Chad Concelmo
The South Hall is the larger of the two main halls at the L.A. Convention Center (the other being the West Hall). While the "Big Three" companies (Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony) are in the West Hall, they take up almost all t...
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Sony patents plan to interrupt games with commercials


May 25
// Jim Sterling
You can't count on a publisher to be original or inventive when it comes to our entertainment, but they always seem brilliantly innovative when it comes to selling us more crap. Sony is today's bright little star, having pate...
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Thank Christ: Xbox Live to feature even more advertising!


Apr 25
// Jim Sterling
You wanted it, Microsoft's bringing it! In the new future, the Xbox Live service that you paid for will be using your patronage to score even more money off of advertisers! More TV-like commercials will soon be airing on a nu...

Review: World Gone Sour

Apr 13 // Jim Sterling
World Gone Sour (Xbox Live Arcade [reviewed], PlayStation Network)Developer: PlaybrainsPublisher: CapcomRelease: April 11, 2012MSRP: 400 Microsoft Points World Gone Sour is a story about Sour Patch Kids, the anthropomorphized candy that you'll find filling the lobbies of all good movie theaters around North America. Just like the advergames of yesteryear, it takes the form of a simple platformer, as players step into the gummy boots of a lost Sour Patch Kid who wishes only to be eaten, lest he be driven insane.  The first thing to note is just how adult-oriented World Gone Sour is. One would assume that, like all good advergames, the target audience is gullible children. Instead, the game opens with one Sour Patch Kid stabbing another brutally in the back with a knife, and that's just the first of many adorably morbid concepts thrust into the player's mind. As if that wasn't enough, the action is narrated by Creed Batton from The Office, who makes lewd, vulgar, family-unfriendly comments throughout. It would seem gullible adults, or at least teenagers, are the marketing department's ultimate prey.  As far as the platforming goes, players will need to jump over chasms, avoid spikes, and generally do all the things that one would expect to do in a run-of-the-mill sidescroller. A slight Pikmin-flavored twist is introduced in the form of smaller companion Kids, twenty-five of which are scattered around each level. These companions follow the player character around and can be thrown to hang off switches or collect hard-to-reach items. They can also be absorbed, allowing players to grow in size. The player can absorb or break apart at whim (so long as enough companions are present), and our gummy hero can be one of three sizes. At their smallest, players can squeeze through tight spots, while the larger sizes can hurl companions like bowling balls, perform ground pounds, or take extra hits from enemies before dying. It's usually a good idea to be at least mid-sized for most of a stage, although tight jumps through dangerous territory can benefit from a smaller character.  Each stage is littered with green gummy pieces that dish out extra lives, stars that contribute to a leaderboard score, and five secret trophies. At the end of each level, players are awarded points based on what they've collected, how many companions they found, and how many unique deaths the player inflicted on said companions. You're encouraged to toss your friends into spikes, liquids, and flames, especially to collect items too dangerously positioned for your liking. Such sadism goes unpunished, since dead companions respawn after a few moments, so nobody needs to worry about sending Sour Patch Kids to die by the dozen.  Companions won't be the only ones who die, however. Once World Gone Sour hits its mid-point, it becomes surprisingly taxing. Tricky platform sections that exploit the game's overenthusiastic physics, intricate wall-jump challenges, and a smorgasbord of increasingly brutal environmental hazards will happily whittle your lives down to zero. There are plenty of green gummies and liberal checkpoints to keep the game moving along, and while nothing's ever too difficult, there are a remarkable amount of opportunities to swear at the television, just like old times.  Unfortunately, that mid-point also serves as the moment where a lot of the charm runs dry. Batton's narration, positively flowing in the earlier sections of the game, disappears save for a few scant moments, while the repetitious music and lack of variety overall really turns the game into something of a tiresome affair. There are nine levels, split into three themes, and it doesn't feel like enough to keep things interesting, even for the couple hours of gameplay present. It's all solid stuff, but since a lot of the entertainment comes from the outright stupidity of the game's concept, the failure to capitalize with more humor really lets the mid-portion of the game sag.  It doesn't help that, at times, the game never feels quite right, either being too responsive or not very responsive at all. As noted earlier, the protagonist's jumps are huge -- a fact that the game itself takes advantage of -- while his wall-jumping ability doesn't always work properly. The hit detection feels a little off as well, with enemies that have incredibly tiny hit boxes that are hard to predict, given that they're mostly shapeless globs of monstrous bubble gum. One never gets a sense of weight in the game's world, which can be quite problematic at times.  Cooperative play is allowed for, but as is disappointingly common with XBLA games, it's local only. Players without friends won't be missing much, however, since the only real benefit is the ability to get a free respawn if one player dies and the other hits a checkpoint without also snuffing it.  For five bucks, however, World Gone Sour isn't the worst game around. In fact, it can be relatively enjoyable, and the dark humor is pretty entertaining when it pops up. There are some inventive little boss battles thrown in, showcasing insane Sour Patch Kids who have become slightly telekinetic and inhabit sneakers or dolls that they've brought to life. Defeating the bosses are simple cases of waiting for them to expose their vulnerable spots and attacking, but they're nevertheless quite fun to dispatch.  Whether or not you feel right in spending money on a glorified commercial is down to your own moral code, but World Gone Sour is an entertaining reminder of how shameless the industry has always been. It truly feels like a spiritual successor to Cool Spot, and while nobody has ever asked for a spiritual successor to Cool Spot, it gives one a nostalgic feeling nonetheless. With some pretty decent platforming, a dash of shockingly grim humor, and an utterly ridiculous Sour Patch Kids music video courtesy of Method Man, World Gone Sour is far from the worst thing you could waste five dollars on.
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The idea of buying an interactive commercial is like battery acid in the minds of most adult gamers, but we blissfully forget that we once paid full price for entire videogames that existed purely to push another product.&nbs...

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Here's some A for your SoulCalibur T


Jan 29
// Tony Ponce
Voldo's lower horn may not have been a legit SoulCalibur V print ad, but this one is. Surprise, surprise. It's the perfect complement to the original boobalicious ad. These things always happen in pairs. I'm glad Namco Bandai...
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Namco Bandai pulls penis-flavored SoulCalibur V ad


Jan 09
// Jim Sterling
[Update: So apparently it is not real. Stupid sexy Voldo!] Namco Bandai recently pulled an advert for SoulCalibur V after fans complained that it was too offensive. No, it wasn't the magazine page featuring ginormous breasts....
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Veteran hates Modern Warfare 3's 'hideous' advertising


Jan 03
// Jim Sterling
Those live action Modern Warfare 3 commercials featuring Jonah Hill and Sam Worthington may be lighthearted nonsense to us regular folk, but US Army Special Operations Command paratrooper D.B. Grady thinks they're crass,...

Gamers learn to block intrusive ads on Xbox 360 dashboard

Dec 09 // Jim Sterling
Sign up for a free OpenDNS account. Add a network for your current IP address. Go to Advanced Settings and next to 'Domain Typos', ensure 'Enable typo correction' is checked. Go to Web Content Filtering settings and set the filtering level to 'None', and under 'Manage individual domains', put rad.msn.com and select 'Always block' and then click 'Add domain'. On your Xbox, go to System Settings -> Network Settings -> (your connection) -> Configure Network -> DNS settings -> Manual, and enter the OpenDNS IP addresses for the primary and secondary DNS servers: 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220. Clear your hard drive cache: System Settings -> Storage -> Hard Drive -> press Y -> Clear System Cache  
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One of the biggest complaints about the Xbox 360 dashboard update was the fact that advertisements now took up a ridiculous amount of screen space. For some gamers, it's gone too far, and a number of ad-blocking methods have ...

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Don't pursue Lu Bu without some of that sweet Pepsi taste


Dec 08
// Jim Sterling
Pepsi Nex is a drink. Dynasty Warriors NEXT is a videogame. This is how great marketing is born.  This beautiful wallpaper, showing Lu Bu drowning his sorrows with some tantalizing Pepsi flavor, is available from Pepsi's...
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Zelda and Robin Williams return in this Skyward Sword ad


Oct 31
// Tony Ponce
Nintendo is riding the Princess Zelda / Zelda Williams connection to the bitter end, but I'm really not bothered. Robin Williams is a such a cartoon character in most everything he does, and his daughter is oh so lovely. Mor...
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ESA: In-game advertising will increase rapidly


Oct 03
// Jim Sterling
The Entertainment Software Association is using a new report by DFC intelligent to declare that in-game advertising will grow at a swift pace in order to reach the 72% of Americans now said to be playing.  DFC says that ...
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Nathan Drake is a corporate whore in Subway commercial


Oct 01
// Jim Sterling
"Hey, I'm Nathan Drake. If you're the adventurous type like me, then get in on the Subway taste for adventure," says Nathan Drake in the above video.  The idea of videogames and marketing departments working together is...
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Mind blown! You can play games in 2D on a 3DS!


Sep 25
// Tony Ponce
Nintendo of Europe has posted a banner ad on their home page for the upcoming Metallic Red 3DS model. In addition to sporting a fiery finish, this latest 3DS also comes packed with some incredible new features. Not only can y...
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Deus Ex: Human Revolution adds Star Wars ads (Update)


Sep 16
// Jim Sterling
[Update: I've been informed that the ads weren't "patched in" via any new update. The functionality was always there and it just seems that it's recently started throwing the ads out there.] In a move that can be filed under ...
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PS3 drops 'It only does everything' for 'long live play'


Aug 30
// Jim Sterling
Sony has dropped its "It only does everything" slogan in favor of a brand new moniker that focuses on the PS3 as a gaming device. From now on, the PlayStation motto is "Long live play." How exciting! Sony says the new campai...
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Microsoft to make Kinect worse with obnoxious advertising


Jun 22
// Jim Sterling
The best thing about Xbox Live is that we get to see all sorts of cool advertising on a service we subscribe to. Microsoft realizes that adverts are the best part of the Xbox experience, and is bringing innovative "NUads" to...
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EA and Hasbro declare April 7th Global MONOPOLY Day


Apr 06
// Conrad Zimmerman
You know, I used to think that you had to have some sort of position of authority in order to declare days to be special. Now I realize that you only need a social networking site and a product. What a fool I was! Electronic ...
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Being a Smooth Criminal with Kinect in MJ: Experience ad


Apr 05
// Conrad Zimmerman
Ubisoft is about to drop Michael Jackson: The Experience on to PS3 and Xbox 360 next week, so they're pulling out the big guns. By that, I mean releasing an ad focused on Kinect functionality in the Xbox version of the ...
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PEGI demands 'misleading' We Dare ads removed


Mar 11
// Jim Sterling
We Dare has officially become a three-lugged puppy with pneumonia, mercilessly kicked to death by a gang of professional wrestlers. That's the impression I get of the game -- mocked by gamers, abandoned by the publisher,...
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EA doubts the future of in-game advertisement


Dec 20
// Jordan Devore
There was a time -- not at all long ago -- where those darned immersion-breaking, in-game ads were popular. Ben Cousins, the general manager of EA's free-to-play division, believes those days are over, or at the very least, w...
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Activision: Kobe Bryant Black Ops controversy hypocritcal


Dec 09
// Jim Sterling
A while back, some assholes lashed out at Activision and Kobe Bryant for the famous Call of Duty: Black Ops television commercial. ESPN proved that it should stick to sports by chatting absolute crap about the situation, but ...
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Ni No Kuni ads make us desperate for the game


Dec 05
// Matthew Razak
Ni No Kuni: The Jet Black Sorcerer landed in Japan recently and they got some great ads for it. OK, so the ads are just normal ads, but they show off the game, which instantly makes them great. Look at that massive instructi...
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New Golden Sun pays homage to original game's commercial


Nov 24
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Some new videos of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn have emerged that at first, really doesn't mean much beyond what you see. But the folks at Tiny Cartridge have some excellent memory and realized that developer Camelot Software is ac...
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Black Ops causes surge in Rolling Stones sales


Nov 23
// Jim Sterling
If you ever needed proof that videogames have become a major force in entertainment, try to wrap this idea around your head -- a videogame is helping the Rolling Stones to sell music. Yep, thanks to Call of Duty: Black Ops, t...
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ESPN guys whine over Kobe Bryant Black Ops ad appearance


Nov 18
// Jim Sterling
It would appear that it's not just clueless columnists who are upset over Call of Duty: Black Ops' TV commercial. ESPN has decided to weigh in on the "controversy", because if there's one thing sports commentators should be t...
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Call of Duty: Black Ops TV ad upsets a guy


Nov 10
// Jim Sterling
When I first saw the TV commercial for Call of Duty: Black Ops, I must admit that I raised an eyebrow. Not that I was offended (in fact, it's quite amusing), but the potential to offend or at least be viewed as a tasteless c...
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Kevin Butler threatens puppies


Oct 09
// Matthew Razak
[This is one of the only times an image of adorable animals is actually relevant to the post so I'll be damned if I don't use it. Video is after the jump.] I am almost positive that the EyePet is the least exciting thing havi...
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Sony launches smack talking yaybuttons.com


Sep 12
// Matthew Razak
Sony might have taken a misstep with their marketing when it launched the Marcus campaign, which no one really seems to like, but I have to say they're coming right back on track with the launch of YayButtons.com. This is a s...

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