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9:35 AM on 11.05.2008

Weinercast Wednesday



The Weinercast is go at
PlayingWithMyWeiner.com.

This week: Gwyddia's Top 8 Politically Themed Games.

As always, the Weinercast is available on iTunes.

Please leave us a review or a comment/question, and we'll address it on air next week!   read


9:48 PM on 11.04.2008

Amazon Takes On "Wrap Rage"

We interrupt your election results to bring you this breaking news from online retailer Amazon.com.



Do you hate buying a new shiny something and not be able to open it because the packaging seems like it was designed by sadist monkeys? Me too. Don't worry, Amazon is on the way.



Amazon has a large splash letter on their front page tonight touting their multi-year war on bad packaging, titled Amazon Frustration-Free Packaging. They are working with major manufacturers to reduce extraneous packaging, use more recyclable materials in packaging, and make products easier to open in general. As of today there are 19 products from Fisher-Price, Mattel, Microsoft and Transcend in Frustration-Free packaging, with more promised to be on the way soon.



I won't be impressed until they get those evil dog bone things off my games and DVDs, but kudos to Amazon for taking some steps in the right direction.   read


10:51 AM on 11.04.2008

VOTE, America.



VOTE.



I don't care if you're a Democrat, a Republican, an Independent, a Green, a Purple, or a Plaid.



VOTE.


Voting is a privilege and a right, and something that you can do right now.


If you need more incentive, Ben & Jerry's, Krispy Kreme and Starbucks are all offering free deliciousness today.   read


11:05 AM on 10.30.2008

Beatles Announcement A Bust?



So we aren't getting Rock Bad: Beatles. Instead we're getting "an unprecedented, experiential progression through and celebration of the music and artistry of The Beatles", whatever that means. So what DOES that mean? If it is a play through of the history of the Band, that's great, but that would be the same basic idea that Guitar Hero used with Aerosmith. I can't imagine that we'll be allowed to play with or change the Beatles' music in any way, and how many more "lost" tunes can they have in the vault? I'm looking forward to this one, almost a year away, but I'd love to hear what folks think it will be.

(Trying in Firefox today after DANMARTIGAN's helpful comment to my post yesterday. To you, DANMARTIGAN, the sound of . . . a crescendo!)   read


10:30 AM on 10.29.2008

I Am A Criminal.

According to Jack Thompson, at least. In his last death throws before disbarment, Thompson filed a motion in
his lawsuit against the Florida Bar in which he referred to GamesLaw.net as a "video game enem[y]" doing
"criminal activities." I am a Contributing Writer and attorney at GamesLaw.net.

I have rarely been so proud.   read


7:43 PM on 10.28.2008

Fallout 3 Amazon fallout.

Did you pre-order the Amazon exclusive Fallout 3 Survival Edition? I did, back in September. Did you receive it
today, on release day? I didn't, and neither did hundreds of other people.

According to the Fallout 3 user forums, Amazon vastly underestimated the amount of Survival Edition's they'd
need, and took too many pre-orders. As a result, some people had their orders cancelled today, along with a
$20 "don't hate us!" gift certificate from Amazon. Who had their orders cancelled? Not the late-orderers; folks
who pre-ordered the Survival Edition as late as last week received the game today, while some of the earliest
pre-orderers were left in the lurch.

But wait, there's more. Of those who were lucky enough to actually *get* the Survival Edition, most did not
receive it today, on the day of release. People who pre-ordered in the last two weeks were given Amazon's new
option of "guaranteed day of release", but everyone who ordered the game before that and paid extra for one-
day shipping (that would be me) will not receive their order until tomorrow at the earliest.

Way to go, Amazon. I will think long and hard before I take you up on one of your "Special Offers" again.   read


3:37 PM on 10.28.2008

Review: Fable II

[Ed. Note: This is all Araan.]




This is NOT a stereotype. No.
You’ve seen a lot about Fable II on this site. Actually, I should say you’ve seen a lot about Peter Molyneux,
Fable's creator, who has Chronic Foot-In-Mouth Disease. You may have seen an article or listened to a
Weinercast here and there in which his penchant for over-promising and under-delivering has been
discussed.



I’m a fan of the original Fable and was ready to give Fable II a fair shake. I eagerly slipped the disc into the
Xbox 360 and waited impatiently through the Microsoft and Lionhead bumpers for the actual Start screen to
show.



Starting the game allows you to choose between playing a male or female Hero — a choice unavailable in the
original — and is followed by a beautifully rendered cutscene that drops you into the middle of the action into
the town of Bowerstone from the first game. It’s hundreds of years after the time of Fable, though, and the
world has changed greatly. You’ll find early on, for instance, that no one really believes in Will (magic)
anymore, and that firearms are now commonplace. Fable II represents a more rational, almost Renaissance-
like world compared to the more fairytale-like medieval world of the original Fable.



Many of the elements of the new edition of the land of Albion will seem familiar. Yep, there are still Demon
Doors that lead to treasure once you’ve figured out what’s needed to open them. Chests containing goods
abound. The chief difference is that the Hero’s Guild is no more; it was destroyed in the time between the two
games, and there are no heroes anymore until you come along. (It’s implied throughout the game that you
are a descendant of the character from the first Fable, who is referred to as the Hero of Oakvale.)



Fable II is a game that I would say appeals to both “passengers and sailors”. That is, it’s very easy for even
the most casual gamer to enjoy, while also offering rewards for those who wish to play deeper inside of it.
Let’s take two cases to illustrate: the Dog and making money. A lot has been said about the Dog, and I find
the concept and the implementation both innovative and refreshing. Honestly, what hero runs around with a
minimap in his head? The dog is a much more natural way of finding your way around. There’s also a trail of
“reverse breadcrumbs” wherever you go — you’ll find that following a golden, glowing trail will lead you to
your quest destinations.



There’s so much going on in Fable II that it’s tempting to delay pursuing the story while interacting with the
rest of the world, much as I did. You’ll find that the story itself is well-plotted and full of unexpected twists and
a couple of breathless, I-can’t-believe-that-just-happened moments.


Take A! And B! And A again!


And then there’s money — it’s ridiculously easy to come by. A number of jobs have been implemented in the
game. These are essentially minigames that you’re paid to play. They have different “skins” as it were, but
the play is more or less the same whether you’re a blacksmith or a woodcutter. You mash the A button at the
right time, you make gold. That’s it. You can rack up a few thousand gold coins in a short time. If you’re eager
to upgrade your gear it’s an easy way to make some money; if you’re looking at a longer-term investment
you can put your cash into real estate by buying a house or business. Your rental fees accumulate even
while you’re not playing, so it can be a big moneymaker over time to invest for the long term.



The game shipped with some problems. Audio sometimes goes out of sync with the rest of the game,
causing stuttering and other annoying effects. I also have to fault Lionhead, again, for releasing the game
without the promised — and still MIA at the time of this writing — online multiplayer feature that so many were
looking forward to.



For being worth your $60 despite Molyneux's best attempts to the contrary, Fable II gets 4 weiners out of 5.   read


8:17 AM on 10.27.2008

Review: Guitar Hero World Tour

This is NOT Rock Band.



I need to get that out of the way right now. I also need to state that we are playing this game on Xbox 360 with
the Rock Band 2 drums and microphone, but the Les Paul Guitar Hero III guitar. I have to admit that I went
into GHWT thinking of it as a Rock Band 2 expansion pack. I quickly learned how wrong I was.



The art style of GHWT is animated and over-the-top, and each instrument and type of play has a series of
hysterical cutscenes that just scream "rock". The characters, both the pre-made type and the ones you can
create are the colorful distorted, exaggerated "Judy Nails" types you've come to expect from GH. The
venues, both real and imaginary, are fully rendered and complete down to the broken chairs and half-eaten
wings. Maybe the venues are a little TOO realistic, as they are festooned with in-game advertising for real
world brands. I understand having Sabian cymbals and Marshall amps, but do I need to be told which fried
chicken to eat while playing?



The controls and setup are so-so. Despite promises to the contrary, the Rock Band drums do not map
perfectly onto the GHWT songs. Drummers are encouraged to hit silver-topped notes harder for more
points, but the velocity sensitivity is variable at best. It is nearly impossible to deploy Star Power, as the
regular set requires you to hit the Green and Orange cymbals together, and those two notes don't usually
show up together in the drum track. The tutorial is not available for drummers that aren't using the GH set,
either. We aren't using the GHWT set because having tried them both at PAX, we found the Rock Band 2 set
to be crisper, quieter, and more responsive, with a good spring in the pedal. The GHWT set we played was
mushier, louder, less accurate, and just all around not as good as the Rock Band 2 set, though it was an
improvement over the original Rock Band drum set.



Vocals are a nightmare. There is no "Tambourine Hero" fill section during long instrumental solos. Instead
vocalists have fills which seem to be randomly inserted passages of swirls in which you can earn multiples of
9 points by saying "la" over and over and over. Vocals Star Power can only be deployed through hitting your
microphone or holding your controller the whole time and hitting a button. It lasts for about five seconds, and
then you have to go back to hitting buttons like a rat hoping for a food pellet. There is no musical staff guiding
your pitch adjustments, but rather one line for you to follow the whole time through. The accuracy level and
pickup are just plain bad. I scored about 15% lower in GHWT on songs that I have completed perfectly on
Hard in Rock Band 2.



All of that being said, if you've enjoyed Guitar Hero before, keep on keeping on. You'll probably enjoy this
game. The Guitar and Bass work just fine. If you are new to GH, or are trying it after Rock Band, keep in
mind that GH is significantly different, and don't count on the manual or the early tracks to help you find your
way. The manual is eight pages long and barely goes farther than "turn the game on and play". If you are
eligible to play a tutorial, good luck finding it. You have to search around through stacks of menus to find the
tutorials or anything else in the game.



I was disappointed in Guitar Hero World Tour. I guess I expected more after I saw the excellent track list. I
did enjoy the cameos from rock icons such as Jimi Hendrix and Zack Wylde, and the game is fun to watch in
general, but I'd almost rather watch than play, and that's a bad sign. Maybe they'll get it right on their
inevitable next time out, but on their initial foray into the full band genre Activision has put too much focus on
being different for difference's sake and not enough on streamlining and gameplay.



For pictures and my final score for the game feel free to visit
PlayingWithMyWeiner.com.   read


9:11 AM on 10.22.2008

Weinercast Wednesday



The Weinercast is go at
PlayingWithMyWeiner.com.

This week I discuss WoW 3.02, the Little Big Planet Debacle, and female gamers.

As always, the Weinercast is available on iTunes.

Please leave us a review or a comment/question, and we'll address it on air next week!   read


10:51 PM on 10.18.2008

Mother 3 Fan Translation Complete!

The Mother series of games is a big deal to RPGers. Known as the Earthbound series in the
United States, these role-playing games are not another thud-and-blunder series, but instead
are set in the West, albeit from a Japanese point of view. Enemies range from aliens to
hippies, your weapons is more like to be a Star Tropic-al yo-yo than a sword. The series
started in 1989 with the Japan only release of Mother for the Famicom. The second game in
the series was released in the U.S. as EarthBound for the Super Nintendo Entertainment
System in 1995.

Mother 3 was in development for 12 years before it was released in Japan in April 2006 for the
GBA. Ostensibly the most popular title of the series, it is similar to Dragon Quest IV in that it
divides the tale up into several chapters. Each chapter features different characters whose
stories all tie together in the end. The original game received a 35/40 from Famitsu
Magazineand sold 205,914 copies in its first 3 days on sale.


Earthbound 3 was announced as an N64 title, but was scrapped. Ever since, fans have been
clamoring for an English version. As of today, they need clamor no more. A group of talented
fan programmers known as Starmen.Net have translated
and patched the entire game. After two years of work, the translation patch was finally
released today, October 17, 2008. Any fan with the ROM can run the patch and enjoy Mother
3’s humor in English. I intend to do just that this weekend and give a full review on Monday.

For pictures and my original post feel free to visit
PlayingWithMyWeiner.com.   read


10:10 AM on 10.13.2008

Weiner Review: Silent Hill: Homecoming

Well, if by “queen” you mean “zombie nurses”, and if by “gun”, you mean Pyramidhead and
his giant sword, then yes. Silent Hill is back, and everything old and creepy is new and
creepy again. This time your protagonist is Alex Shepherd, a young solider returning from
war to the psychotic battlefield of his hometown of Shepherd’s Glen. The sleepy little town
is, of course, overrun by the Silent Hill cult and overrun with the kind of creatures that
would squick out H.P. Lovecraft.


Homecoming marks a change in guard for the series. Instead of being made in Japan,
Silent Hill: Homecoming was to be the first in the series produced by a Western developer
called The Collective. That was almost the case, except that The Collective had merged with
Backbone Entertainment in 2005 to form Foundation 9 Entertainment, and Foundation 9
then merged The Collective with Shiny Entertainment to create Double Helix Games. Silent
Hill: Homecoming is a Double Helix production.


Double Helix draws heavily on Silent Hill and Silent Hill 2 for this outing. Most of your classic
terrors are there (i.e. Pyramidhead and his sexually abused nurses). In a twist that usually
doesn’t work, however, Double Helix adapted some things from the Silent Hill movie. For
example, the “tearing” sound when you slip between worlds is straight out of the film, as is
the nurses’ reaction to light.


With all of these homages, it should come as no surprise that Silent Hill:Homecoming plays
more like a Greatest Hits disc than a new game in the series. The visuals are sharp, the
voice acting is reasonable, and the controls are a big improvement from Silent Hill IV: The
Room. Silent Hill fans may find themselves playing through looking for a twist that never
comes, however. The interactions with classic series antagonists are creepy, but don’t get
under your skin the way they did the first time you saw them. And forget about save points.
The save system is a ruthless checkpoint system married to a “find the glyph” save point.
Prepare to lose time and effort here.


Silent Hill: Homecoming is a darn sight better than Silent Hill IV, and is a welcome addition
to series fans who have ben waiting to get their Hill on for so long. It’s also not a bad entry
point into the series for someone who has heard about Silent Hill, but never played. Just
don’t expect anything revolutionary.

For pictures and my final score for the game feel free to visit
PlayingWithMyWeiner.com.   read


9:39 AM on 10.08.2008

Weinercast Wednesday



The Weinercast is go at
PlayingWithMyWeiner.com.

This week Araan and I discuss Big Game Hype. When does the hype kill the experience?
When do big games live up to the hype? Featuring a special Fable II “advertisement”!

As always, the Weinercast is available on iTunes.

Please leave us a review or a comment/question, and we’ll address it on air next week!   read


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