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12:12 PM on 11.05.2009

Diminished Love - A Cathartic Exercise

I have loved gaming for as long as I can remember. I've always been fascinated with it, and still am, though my love has faded somewhat in the last few years. I've recently spent a lot of time trying to figure out why I don't quite love the hobby as much as I once did.

I initially put it down to shifting priorities. A few years back my mom came down with a severe disability that kept her from being able to work, so I moved her in with me. She doesn't require any special care, but I'm financially responsible for her since she can't work. I rationalized my waning interest in videogames away by convincing myself that I just didn't have the time to play them. However, I don't quite think that my responsibility for my mother is to blame, because I end up finding myself spending a whole lot of time doing nothing much at all anyway. So why not fill that time with videogames, if nothing else?

I also put it down to the economy of time. There are only so many hours in a day, and there's so much that I want to do in what little free time I have available to me. Which is a good problem to have, I admit, but the problem is that it can be overwhelming to even just chose something to do in the first place. I've always had a problem with being indecisive, which means that I often end up not doing anything at all. And even when I finally do chose something to do with my time, I end up feeling like I'm missing out on something else, and so I don't enjoy what I've chosen to do as much as I should.

Another potential problem is that I tend to buy a lot of videogames. I know that doesn't sound like much of a problem, but remember my indecisive nature? It can cause problems when I finally sit down to play, because more often than not, I don't know where to begin. I'd love to be able to just chose a game and then sit down and play it, but more often than not I end up spending more time staring at my stack of games trying to figure out what to play than I do playing them.

Now none of these issues are insurmountable by any means. In fact just knowing that they exist makes it easier to get a handle on them. However I find myself resistant to doing anything about them. Why is that? Well I've considered every possibility, and I think that my resistance is really down to one gigantic factor.

Gamer culture.

See, when I was a kid, the worst of what gamer culture had to offer was half-hearted playground arguments about which console was better. However, nobody really cared all that much about it when all was said and done. Just playing videogames at all was ultimately more important than what console or computer we played them on. Oh, we talked a good game for sure, just like the fan-boys and forum trolls do today, but there wasn't a dyed-in-the-wool gamer that would pass on the chance to play, even if it meant playing on whatever system that he had slammed for being inferior during recess.

We didn't define ourselves by what console we owned, or the type of games that we played either. Sure, owning a console could be a status symbol of sorts, but you were cool because you had a console, and not because of which console you had. There were no Nintendrones or XBots, we were just kids with enough sense to avoid letting our harmless playground squabbling get in the way of our shared interest in videogames.

Now the issue isn't so much that anything has fundamentally changed between that harmless playground grandstanding of yesteryear and the crazy fan-boy antics of today. On the surface, it's still the same silly, meaningless nonsense that it was then, and it's still driven by our inborn need as human beings to justify ourselves through our possessions. Rather, the issue is that the internet has taken what was once a reasonably civil face-to-face interaction limited to a few people, and has made it something that can involve hundreds of people, most of whom hide behind the anonymity of the internet and act like douche-bags to one another.

Now I'm not complaining about fan-boy behavior in and of itself. However, as an enthusiast of the hobby, it's not uncommon to want to share that enthusiasm with other people. The problem is that when nearly everyone is arguing about pointless nonsense and being generally negative for no good reason, it can sap that enthusiasm completely. One has to wonder whether or not there's anything to be enthusiastic about after all, being that the very folks who count themselves amongst fans of the hobby can't seem to find anything about it to enjoy a good deal of the time.

This isn't even the worst of it. Gamers can be elitist, needlessly cynical, self-entitled, soul-sucking parasites at times. And while it's true that most of the negative traits associated with gamers can be traced back to fan-boy proclivities and the factors that motivate them, it can still be incredibly annoying even if you understand what's driving it. Sometimes you just want to let yourself be excited about something, without some nameless, faceless twat sucking all the life out of the room.

As for why it's annoying, I think it's mainly because it's all completely avoidable. If we were capable of meaningful insight, we'd take note of what's motivating us to be such insufferable, anti-social jerks, and we'd stop arguing completely subjective matters with one another. We'd subscribe the Destructoid mantra, and JSTFUAPG. We share a common interest in the hobby, folks, if not common tastes, and yet that rarely seems to factor in unless we're seeking out credibility in the eyes of our fellow gamers.

So hey, call me a pussy if you must. Tell me that I'm being too sensitive. I don't care. As a once and long time fan of the hobby, I needed to examine why I can't seem to enjoy it as much as I once did. The conclusion might seem like a bunch of over-sensitive whining to you folks, but I honestly think that itís been cathartic. I think that understanding what has been keeping me from enjoying gaming as much as I once did will rekindle my enthusiasm. Iím fact Iím itching to get off of work so that I can get home and play, and that feels pretty good.   read


5:45 AM on 09.29.2009

Press Start 2 Continue

Looks like my favorite low-budget, homemade, videogame-inspired flick Press Start is getting a sequel, due in 2010. That's a good thing, to quote that disgusting lump of failure Martha Stewart. A good thing indeed.

The original Press Start was one of those rare low-budget flicks that really I really enjoyed. The production values were actually pretty decent (score one for ADR!), the storyline served as a vehicle for the clever gaming in-jokes, and the acting wasn't half bad. Peter Davis' turn as Count Vile in particular was truly inspired. No, really. The guy had me busting a gut whenever he was on the screen. Press Start was an all-around fun flick, and really got me wondering what the crew could have done with a bigger budget and the backing of a major movie studio.

After Press Start, Director Ed Glaser turned his focus to dubbing foreign remakes of American flicks like Rampage (Aka Turkish Rambo) in English and releasing them to the masses, while his Press Start characters appeared to be consigned to the Press Start Adventures animated series. So when I read the announcement on his blog of the impending Press Start sequel, I was pleasantly surprised.

So yeah, this could be a good thing indeed folks. The budget is still likely to be next to nothing, and it's unlikely that any major film studios are going to come knocking, but if the sequel is given the same love and attention to detail that the first was, then it ought to be worth checking out. I for one can't wait.

http://blog.darkmaze.com/   read


6:56 PM on 06.08.2009

I too have bought a PS3. My current-gen collection is complete.

So, wow. I haven't been 'round this place forever. Last I checked in, I had just bought a 360. The thing came down with a nasty case of RRoD a few months after I bought it, and so I was out of the game for a bit. Early this year I replaced that son of a bitch with a new unit, and so far it has performed admirably. So far. I know it's death is as inevitable as my own, so I know that it's just a matter of time before I'm boxing this bad boy up and sending it to Microsoft, but I'm cool with that. So far it's working great and I couldn't be happier.

Well apparently I could be. As much as I love my 360, and I do, I wasn't content with owning just that and a Wii. I had to complete my collection of current-gen systems. Why? I have no clue. Maybe it's just the freedom of choice that owning all three systems allows that motivated me, or maybe it's that I'm still a geeky gamer at heart and had to have 'em all because I'm finally in a place financially to afford it. Whatever motivated me to do it, I am now the proud owner of a shiny new 40GB PS3.

So here I am once again, asking you folks for opinions on what I should check out for the thing. I've got Street Fighter IV and Soul Calibur IV for my fighting game needs, and I have Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction because I'm an unapologetic fan of the series. Beyond that, my shelf is looking a little bare. So help me out folks. What would you suggest that I look into? I'm pretty open to games of all genres as long as your suggestions are good examples of their respective genres. For example, I'm not a huge FPS fan, but if you suggest to me a must-play FPS, I'm more than willing to give it a look.

So have at it!   read


11:20 AM on 08.14.2008

Brand new 360 owner. Paradoxically, also a cheap bastard.

So, I finally stepped up and joined the legion of XBox 360 owners out there this past week. I bought my unit used over at Gamestop, along with a used 20GB HDD. The total cost was less than a new Arcade unit, and well, that one comes sans HDD, so I think I did well. Or did I? The spectre of the RROD looms over me every time I turn the thing on. It's a refurb though, so we'll see how it plays out. I've got thirty days to break the thing.

Actual cost out-of-pocket was like thirty bucks. I had a bunch of old crap lying around that I wasn't watching/playing/eating any longer, so I traded it in. And luckily enough, Gamestop was having a deal where when you trade any five games in, you get an extra 30 percent of trade on top of the 10 percent you get for using your Edge card. So yeah, I did well for having traded in several old DS games and a handful of DVDs, if I do say so myself.

Anyway, enough about that. I'm loving my 360 so far, but I'm just a poor boy. Nobody loves me, and 360 games cost a lot of money. My poorly-implemented attempt to connect to an old Queen song aside, I'm looking for suggestions from you guys as to what games I ought to be on the lookout for. However, they gotta be on the cheap. I picked up Bully for 26 bucks, and I'm eyballing The Orange Box, which weighs in at the same price, so that's the sort of thing I'm looking for. So if you guys have any suggestions for good games that a new 360 owner ought to look for on the cheap, let's have 'em!   read


1:13 PM on 08.04.2008

Uneducated Gamer Preview: Little Big Planet

Little Big Planet is a game of contradictions. Or at least its title is an oxymoron. How can a planet be little, and yet big at the same time? I suppose it makes sense if the planet's inhabitants are scaled to match the size of the planet itself, while the player takes on the role of a normal sized person looking through a microscope at these tiny people, manipulating them like the subjects of a cruel lab experiment. In that case, the game's title might take on a deeper, more appropriate meaning through the use of dual perspectives. However, I don't believe that this sort of progressive design is in evidence here, and so the title stands as one of the biggest oxymorons to come out of the industry since the acronym 'PS3' and the words 'worth purchasing' were put together by some dude who didn't know any better. Riiiiiiiiiiidge Racer!

Speaking of game design, it appears that rather than do much of their own, whoever took a pass at developing Little Big Planet quit somewhere along the way. Perhaps they were bored. Whatever the cause for it, they appear to have decided that gamers are better off doing the rest of the work themselves. To that end, Little Big Planet tasks you with designing your own stuff, only you're less likely to get paid for it than they did, and you'll be working ten times as hard.

If you find yourself struggling to do what the developers should have done themselves, you can bring friends in to help you. This has the added benefit of providing you a work-force of your own to push around. It can be incredibly freeing in between bouts of thankless work to stand on the sidelines and play Foreman, and having minds comparatively fresher than yours may even produce levels and scenarios that you wouldn't likely thought of, being brain-dead enough to have bought this so-called 'game' in the first place. However, even a few brain-dead individuals together only equal half a Forrest Gump. And while he portrayed as being successful in spite of his idiocy, please keep in mind that no matter how many of you numb-nuts get together to take a crack at this thing, the best that your efforts will produce is going to be level after level filled with crude phallic symbols. You can't shit a Rembrandt after all.

From what I can tell, the game's graphics are as half-finished as the rest of the game is. Apparently you play as a number of characters that appear to be mutated hacky-sacks with limbs sewn on, but really, they mainly exist as avatars that are tasked with the duty of silently subjugating you to their supreme master's will. They don't speak to you. They'll never praise your work. They simply stand there, ever so quietly, smiling their crooked smiles. And should you should hesitate to do the job set before you for even a minute, they'll relay that to Sony, who will then come to your house and rape everything and everyone you love. So while the graphics might admittedly be as sparse as the rest of the game, what is there serves to set the mood, and that is one of despair and loss.

In closing, and largely because I ran out of things to say, I urge those of you who are considering purchasing this monstrosity in the making to cancel your pre-order, and to burn the clothes that you were in when you did so. Also, kill your next-door neighbor and bury him in your back yard as a sacrifice, to repel whatever evil spirits may remain as a result of your misguided decision to give this game a chance. There is still time, so save yourselves!

This piece does not reflect any actual opinions that I might have on whatever game I've chosen to victimize, nor should it be taken seriously. It's meant to be fun, and funny, though your mileage may vary.   read


1:31 PM on 04.21.2008

Fanboys - What makes 'em tick?

Somewhere along the way a large section of gamers lost track of the fact that games are central to one's enjoyment of the hobby, with thier focus shifting instead to importance of the name attached to the box on which they play them. I've come to the conclusion that this is merely a by-product of every human-being's desire to be validated. In this case it's a desire to validate one's decision to purchase a given console as being the right one, which culminates in gamers aggressively defending their console of choice against any nay-sayers.

I believe that this conclusion is lent even more credibility by the existence of multiple consoles. You'll often find that your average gamer who engages in such activity often owns but a single console, and that they not only agressively defend their choice, but take it up a step and will engage in casting aspersions on the consoles they didn't buy. As I see it, they do this because belittling the consoles they didn't chose makes the choice they made seem all the more correct.

Now, I think this also comes down to a bit of envy as well, as it's often easier to deal with not being in a position to own something by making the item of interest seem less attractive to one's self. I have to admit that I found myself talking down the PS3 simply because it was well out of my price-range for so long. Now that I'm able to afford it, I find myself taking the time to look at it on its merits, rather than trying to convince myself that it's not worth owning.

So what I'm getting at here is that fanboyish behavior seems to be motivated by some pretty basic human urges. That doesn't make it any less annoying, but perhaps in understanding it we can start to move past it.

What do you guys think?   read


11:06 PM on 12.14.2007

Superman 64 Review! Fer Realz!

Superman 64: A Misleading Review
By Cyberxion

Superman 64 was the pinnacle of awesomeness upon it's release on the Nintendo 64. The game used unique, never-before-seen graphical tricks to immerse the player in a true-to-comic-book version of the city of Metropolis, and the game-play was such that anyone who played it couldn't be arsed to play another game for sometime afterwards, as everything else seemed flat by comparison. In fact, it's well-documented that gamers everywhere killed themselves due to the deep depression that they fell into after realizing that nothing would ever be able to stand next to this amazing example of game-play perfection. The following review will reveal to the two or three of you out there who've yet to play it, just why Superman 64 is not only the best game on the Nintendo 64, but quite possibly one of the best games bestowed upon mankind. Better than the Halos even. Fer realz.

Superman 64, based on the animated Superman cartoon of the late 90's, charged Superman with...well, the plot isn't that important, the fact that it's barely there aside. What is, is that true to the cartoon, Superman finds himself in a Metropolis mired in a miasma of Kryptonite fog! That's something that lends this game an air of authenticity to it's source material, one that no other licensed game had ever even come close to capturing before it's release, or since.

That right there is enough to make any Superman fan have a messy geekgasm in his high-water pants, but it didn't stop there! No, the developers worked Superman's natural weakness to Kryptonite into the game-play, making the controls a dazzling recreation of what it would be to fly a Kryptonite-weakened Superman around Metropolis like a drunkard trying to make his way to his car after a night of depression-induced binge drinking at the local Pub! Try as you might, you won't be able to make Superman do anything close to what you intend, but with the pea-green Kryptonite fog covering the landscape, why would you want to do anything but recreate the best moments from the comics, in which Superman is as weak as a pansy, trying futilely to do so much as fly in a straight line without banging into a wall? Answer: If you're any fan of Superman's, you wouldn't!

Superman is at his best when he's weak, as playing as a nigh-unstoppable alien juggernaut just aint all that fun. This is at it's most evident during combat, in which Superman will take damage like a newborn kitten, and in which his punches are as effective as if you were to try breaking into a steel vault using nothing but a feather-duster. It's truly an empowering feeling to control Superman at his level-worst, pushing both yourself and him onward to his inevitable defeat.

Normally Superman ought to be able to pummel his way through anything, but would that really make a great game? I submit that it would indeed suck more balls than Richard Simmons, and liken this experience to seeing Superman die in the tragic "Death of Superman" run in the comics years back. And as that was a pretty goddamned gripping experience, so too is this. It's like playing an approximation of that storyline, but nothing at all like it, except that Superman dies. And in this game, he dies a lot. So it's like living that story over and over. Man I love this game!

Truly this game is amazing. I loved playing as a Superman that wasn't a unbeatable brick-wall of alien beefcake, as it made the character far more identifiable to me, a mere candy-ass human. The graphics are an amazing recreation of the cartoon Metropolis as seen through the cataract-infested eyes of your grandfather, and the Kryptonite fog only served to enhance the realism. The ultra short draw-distance helped illustrate without a doubt just how limited Superman would be by an unexplained blanket of Krytonite fog. I can't imagine that his sight would be greater than a range of about two or three feet within that essence-draining miasma, and the game captured that perfectly. I can totally see Superman's physical prowess being weakened by it as well, as I've seen it on the show and in the comic books too many times over to put an exact number on. In one form or another, Kryptonite has been a plot-device in every single Superman story ever. Hell, Lex Luthor, a mere human, has been able to lay Superman out using Kryptonite in the source-material. Given that, It only makes sense that a slight wind can do Superman in during the course of your adventure through this lavish, fully-realized cartoon world, full of that oh-so-awesome Kryptonite fog!

In closing, it was truly an honor to have played this wonderful game, and to experience first-hand just how it can be when the most powerful super-hero in history is made into a weak-sauce pussy by an inane allergy to a piece of the planet that he was born on. I give this game my highest recommendation, and my only hope is that the awesomeness that is Superman 64 doesn't lead to your deaths, though the risk is absolutely worth it. I know I had a hard time playing anything else for awhile after finishing this game, and even now have to fight from slitting my wrists and bleeding out because no other game can even come close to it's glory. I'm still physically unable to approach my Nintendo 64, as if I had shared in Superman's trials in a Metropolis covered in Kryptonite, and that is the true sign of a really great game!

Play it!   read


7:44 PM on 12.12.2007

Sans Rose Colored Glasses.

Yeah, I know it's lame to write up a blog post to determine interest in a potential future blog-post, but that's what I'm doing anyway, and you naysayers can lick the stink nuggets from between my ass-cheeks if you don't like it.

Anyway, I got this idea (at least I'm pretty sure that it's mine*), to go back and review old "Classics" with the blinders turned off. Which is to say that I'd be reviewing them sans the nostalgia that often leads us to put certain games on a pedestal. That's not to say that I'll be ripping on old games for the sake of it, but that I'm going to attempt to put aside all nostalgia-borne bias and determine if these games are really as good as we think they are. Well, as good as I think they are, given that I can't speak for you guys. Yet.

So is this an idea worth pursuing? I'd like to think so. So look forward to the first write-up as soon as I get my lazy ass around to doing it. Which should be soon, as I'm due to submit some sort of content for a buddy's site here, and that'd kill two birds with one stone.

Right on.

*Just covering my ass in case it's not as unique an idea as I thought. I'm not a rip-off artist. Not on purpose swears I.   read


7:51 PM on 11.28.2007

Whatever happened to thinking for one's self?

There used to be a time where being able to think for one's self was lauded. Now it seems that everywhere you turn, people are being motivated by bias, operating under a hive-mind mentality. What's worse is that should you exercise your ability to think freely in the vicinity of such worker-bees, you catch shit for it.

I dunno, I just think that we'd all be better off if we stopped letting our bias' allow us to become complacent. If something questionable happens out there, we should be able to stand back and look at it objectively, rather than as a yes-man or a tool. And we should be able to let our opinions be heard without being made to suffer backlash from people who can't separate themselves from whatever it happens to be that we're opining on, and that they're so in love with.

That shit doesn't happen enough. People on the whole are too invested in shit to step back and call BS, much less stand for those who can actually think for themselves. It's fucking pathetic. People put shit up on pedestals, and fuck anyone who dare to attempt to tarnish their golden idol!

Whatever your beloved may be, learn to step back and look at it in an objective light. The world aint as rosy as you might like to think, and there's a chance that no matter how much you love something, someone else might have a few things to say about it. Try listening. Fight the urge to be a dick. It benefits everyone in the end.   read


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