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10:01 PM on 03.23.2010

Let's help Topher to get a Wii! -- ENDED

UPDATE -- Thanks to everyone who has responded to this; however, while Topher has made it clear that he's very appreciative for the effort, he requests that we don't keep going with this. Because that is clearly his wish, I'm going to honor his request and stop the "Get Topher A Wii" campain.

At least some good has come out of this for him. This got enough publicity that someone is sending a game from that Topher was hoping to get. :)

I am incredibly proud of how the Destructoid community has come together so quickly with this and other such efforts, and I'm very happy to be part of that global family. But this particular quest needs to be abandoned.

Thanks, everyone! Game on!


I was listening to Podtoid #143 when Topher mentioned that he doesn't have a Wii, and I know that in previous Podtoid's he's mentioned that he has ... well ... employment difficulties right now.

This seems like a damned shame, especially for someone who has lamented that he doesn't have a Wii and would also (probably more so) have a lot of fun with the Virtual Console. So, I thought about what could be done to get Topher a Wii and I made a semi-serious comment about a "Get Topher A Wii" fund. I thought about it some more and figured "Well, why the hell not?"

As one of the older Dtoid members and a proud member of the first true generation of gamers (being Atari 2600/Commodore 64 era) I've been a gamer since many of you were gleams in your parents' eyes. So, I have a personal love for the ol' 8-bit games. I've also been on that unemployment line twice, so I know what that's like.

In the interest of transparency, I'll be glad to put a list of donors and the amounts on a public web site (I own several) as well as and photos of the purchase, mailing, etc. Also, I have to say that I've never met Topher nor even spoken to him. A few e-mails is about it. But he's always been one of those Dtoid personalities that always seemed to strike a familiar chord with me.

So, what do you say, everyone? If I can get some kind of fund going to help to get Topher a Wii, would you be willing to contribute?   read

7:40 PM on 09.19.2009

I got a role on "Flare"! Anyone else?


A little while ago, our own unbelievably hot Colette posted an article about the upcoming independent game Flare, stating that the developer was also looking for voice actors, artists, writers, and so forth. Well, I'm not trained in graphic arts and I'm no writer, so I sent in a demo MP3 for whatever role he wanted to give me. (I would have been mildly upset if he had chosen me for one of the women, obviously, but who am I to criticize? Frank Oz was the voice of Miss Piggy, for crying out loud!)

I just got an e-mail with an NDA (or a "FriendDA" as he called it) congratulating me for getting the role of hero #2!

From his e-mail:"I'm very happy to say that I've accepted you into the Flare voice team. Congrats! When I first heard your voice, I instantly knew you were male hero 2. The good news is that he's a great character, a really fun womanizer with a unique talent. The bad news is that he doesn't have any lines yet (but he's next on my list)."

A womanizer, eh? I like that.

In his initial response to me, he said that he got a lot of feedback since Dtoid's post went live. Did anyone else volunteer for and get any of the available positions? It would be neat to find out how many of my fellow Dtoiders are on the team.

Anyone? Anyone? Beuller? Beuller?   read

8:14 PM on 08.17.2009

When Gaming Loses Its "Fun" Factor

(Note: This is actually a smaller version of my article on Bityard, a web site that I write for. But it definitely applies here. I don't know if it qualifies for an "I suck at gaming" entry, and frankly I'm not trying to get that; but it's a rant that I think all of us have felt at one point or another.)

I'm a true, first-generation gamer. I've been gaming since the days when the Atari 2600 was brand new and I haven't stopped since then. Commodore 64, Sega Genesis, NES, and so forth – I've owned a lot of consoles and spent tens of thousands of hours gaming. Nowadays, my PC will blow away most “gaming” PCs out there and I own each of the current-gen consoles.

Having taken this past week off, I spent the majority of my time catching up on several games that I bought and never played. I also rented some games that I've been meaning to try out. Unfortunately, one of these games has made me realize that some game developers are sadists who think that punishing gamers is lots of fun (for the developers, not the gamers).

Before I continue, let me just say that anyone who excuses what I'm about to discuss as “simply being challenging” is wrong and somewhat arrogant. Countless thousands of games are challenging and fun at the same time without crossing the border into “frustrating”. But ths is not one of those games.

The new “Bionic Commando” game from Capcom, which I've been playing on my Xbox 360, is a great third-person action game. You need to have good reflexes and a sharp eye to defeat the various enemies and swing with your bionic arm from one area to another. The sound is nicely done, although the continually repeating music can get annoying after a bit. The graphics are the normal levels of gray that have sadly permeated the first/third-person gaming community as of late; but Capcom has brought forth the look of a devastated city with realism I've never seen before in a post-apocalyptic game. And the physics engine is top notch. In just about all ways, this game is fantastic. I found myself oddly satisfied every time I find a new way to dispatch an enemy and gain those in-game accomplishments and precious Xbox Live achievements. I've also gotten a lot better than I thought I'd be at swinging on the bionic arm.

But the frustration level about this game forced me to shut the console off on more than one occasion.

My frustration didn't come from being too difficult. “Mega Man 9” is incredibly difficult, but it's still fun. No, in this case my frustration with the game comes from one of the most annoying things that the developers at Capcom think is just such a great idea.

Imagine this scenario.

You fight your way through a number of baddies, gaining accomplishments and achieving goals, whether it's killing fifty enemies to unlock a new weapon or dispatching a boss character in a way to gain an Xbox achievement. You're near the very end of the level; but you miscalculate a swing from one building to another and subsequently drown in the flood that now covers the city. It's time to load from the last save point. Unfortunately for you, the last save point was the beginning of the level and all of the in-game accomplishments that you achieved are gone.

Imagine another scenario in which you spend a significant amount of time defeating a boss when you realize that you need to kill him with a jump kick in order to complete an accomplishment and gain an upgrade to your weapon. After diligently making sure that you dispatch him in the right way, making the battle last much longer than it needed to be, you get killed by a lucky shot from a low-level grunt. Thanks to the timing of the last save, the accomplishment that you spent extra time trying to get is gone and you have to go back and defeat that boss again.

The lack of an in-game, manual save function is killing the enjoyment of this game for me.

To the developers, I have to say this: as much as the graphics and gameplay of “Bionic Commando” are absolutely fantastic, you're still a bunch of sadistic bastards. When I have to restart a level several times because you think it's great to make your save points excessively far apart and you refuse to implement a less frustrating manual save function, that's not challenging - that's annoying and overbearing. That's something that actually made me shut the console off in frustration. That's something that a game should not be doing.

This is by no means the first time that I've run into this. When Bityard was 32 Bits Online, I wrote a review for a third-person shooter called “Oni” from pre-Microsoft Bungie. I really enjoyed that game. The levels were intriguing; the hand-to-hand combat in which you could break spines and snap necks was ingenious for the time; the techno music perfectly matched the futuristic, city-based levels.

But as with “Bionic Commando” the save function was unbearably frustrating. What the folks at Bungie thought would be great was to save your game for you after every major fight. That meant that, more often than not, when your game was saved your health levels were painfully low. What's worse, that meant that you often were too weak to make it to the next save point because health was not easy to find; so you'd have to go back to an even earlier save game with the hopes that you'd have enough health this time around after the battle that you could progress onward.

I slammed Bungie in my review for that to the point that their developers personally responded to me. Not surprisingly, they decided to hide behind the “challenge” excuse, which is an excuse that I'm tired of hearing. Again, a game can be sufficiently challenging without the need to frustrate the player because of having to revisit, re-revisit, and re-re-revisit areas over and over again because of the lack of a manual save function.

Games like “Saints Row 2” have it right. You save where you want, when you want, right from the options menu. There are even checkpoints within a mission, so you have the option of starting from the beginning or from the last checkpoint. Even then, the missions don't make you play for ten minutes before finally throwing a checkpoint at you.

And for any of you who are about to make a claim about how people who want manual saves are “not up to it” or we “don't have what it takes” or whatever excuse you prefer, the fun in any game is the journey. You travel your journey the way you want, and we'll travel the way we want. That journey should not involve going around in circles multiple times. Besides, some of us have jobs and families and can't spend 40+ hours a week playing games (or in the case of “Bionic Commando” spending hours just to get past one level) in our parents' basement like you can.

For genuinely retro games like “Mega Man 9”, I can understand having to start from the beginning. That's the way that games used to be. To have a save function in the middle of a level would have been out of place. Frankly I'm not sure how that could have worked in a 2D side-scroller anyway.

But for modern console games that have rich, detailed, expansive worlds, the removal of a manual save option is pure arrogance. The option should be there, but if you don't want to use it then you simply don't use it! Having it as an option does not in any way reduce the challenge or enjoyment of the game. Unfortunately, this is too basic a concept for the developers at Capcom to understand.

I have to return “Bionic Commando” to Blockbuster tomorrow. I'm actually glad that I didn't outright buy it. No one should have to pay $60 for a game that makes him want to shut the console off.

As a working father of three, I have other responsibilities that demand my time. I'll leave Capcom's sadism to the basement dwellers who apparently have nothing better to do than waste hours playing the same damned level over and over and over again just because they got killed near the end of the level or they met their demise five seconds before they reached a ridiculously distant save point.

It's too bad, too. It really is a great game.

The original article is posted here.   read

3:40 PM on 02.26.2009

The original Duke Nuke 'Em at GOG!

I hate sounding like some kind of a GOG sales rep, but in fairness I did submit this to the D-toid guys this morning. The front page has been pretty busy with other stuff. So, I'm not surprised that they didn't get it posted.

I just got my regular e-mail from the folks at Good Old Games and it turns out they they made a deal with Apogee to get Duke Nuke Em (the original one, not the vaporware one), Rise of the Triad, and Blake Stone! I can't even think about how many hours I burned up playing the original Duke Nuke Em!

No, these obviously don't have ZOMG HD GRAFX, but I don't care. I bought Duke immediately. For $6 and no DRM, f*ck yeah!!! What's funny is that the extras that come with it take up more MB than the game itself!

Since they have Apgoee on board, I hope that Commander Keen is next...   read

1:15 PM on 02.13.2009

15% off racing titles at GOG

Seeing as how the Dtoid staff don't consider this to be worthy enough to let everyone else know, I'll just do it here.

I got an e-mail today that GOG, our favorite inexpensive, DRM-free game company, is offering 15% off of five racing titles:
* 1nsane
* Colin McRae Rally 2005
* Flatout
* Screamer
* TOCA Race Driver 3

Some of them are $5.99, some are $9.99. Use the code "RACING15" to get the discount.

Even if you're not a huge fan of these games, they offer both Freespace and Freespace II, which I know are some prizes games for many of us, as well as the first two Fallout games. Because they're DRM-free ... well, I don't need to explain the benefits of that.

So, even if you don't like racing games hopefully they'll have something that you're interested in and you'll be willing to show your support. They don't have a lot, but I appreciate what they're doing so I bought a few games today. Hopefully, they'll be able to get more in the near future.   read

9:10 AM on 01.12.2009

Another Amazon Gold Box video game day

Turns out that today is another video game day for Amazon's gold box deals. The deal of the day is the MyCoach series for the DS.

Looks like they have at least a game for each main console including PC. Might want to take a look and see what's what. The PS3 game is listed as a game "that dreams are made of". Hmmm...

Feel free to post if you think you know what any of the games are once they're available.   read

9:34 AM on 12.22.2008

A real 8-Bit Christmas Greeting

I really am fed up with the attitude by Destructoid's writers that the 8-bit generation of games started with and is restricted to the NES and similar consoles. The 8-bit generation started long before that.

So, here is a real 8-bit Christmas greeting.


Yes, it was really meant as an advertisement (perhaps the first real viral video for computers?) as you'll see at the very end, but you don't get more 8-bit than this.

To those who remember this from the 80s, enjoy the nostalgia -- and chuckle at the last segment.   read

10:03 AM on 12.04.2008

Wii game deals at Amazon today

I guess that I should not be surprised that DToid and other sites hype when Amazon has an XB360 or PS3 "Gold Box" day. (Hey, I'm not complaining. That's when I got the latest Ratchet and Clank for 1/2 price, which made me an R&C addict.)

But today, 4 December, Amazon is offering a Wii game "Gold Box" day. Currently, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is available for the day at $25.98. I haven't been able to figure out all of the games, but it looks like Guitar Hero: World Tour might be the last one at 6 PM Pacific and there's a Mario game at 2:00 PM Pacific.

I know that there's a ton of Wii-hate on DToid, which probably explains why they refused to mention today's sale, but if you're like me and have no shame in having the little white box next to the more powerful PS3/XB360 and you want to pick up some deals, you might want to check out Amazon's Gold Box for today.

(As I write this Disney's Sing It bundle is the offer. Uh ... right ... I think we'll all pass on this one.)   read

10:04 AM on 11.14.2008

Grow up, fanboys!

Adam Sessler says it all.


Sadly, this kind of rampant fanboyism is in full bloom on Dtoid. Whether it's the narrow-minded hatred of the Wii or the mindless masturbatory ramblings of how awesome {enter console here} is, the stupidity and arrogance of the console fanboys, whether for or against a particular console, are palpable.

Enough. Grow up. Or to put it in terms that everyone should understand: STFUAJPG.   read

11:22 AM on 09.25.2008

Just admit that you hate your customers.

I am no fan of class action lawsuits for the most part. No matter which side ends up gaining the judge's favor, the only winners in CA lawsuits are the lawyers. They get millions of dollars for their services while the people that they're supposedly representing get a pittance in restitution, if any at all.

But people should realize that the CA lawsuit against Electronic Arts, if fought properly, could set a very important precedent when it comes to consumers' rights. The biggest right is, of course, that we should be allowed to do with any game what we wish as long as what we do does not deprive the company of any revenue. That includes:

* not requiring the CD to be in the drive just to play the damned game
* not needing to report to some mothership under the auspices that we're potential criminals instead of potential customers
* being able to install the game anywhere we want at any time that we want as long as only one copy is in use at any one time
* being able to install a game even if the company that released it goes belly up

SecuROM eliminates one or more these, depending on how it's implemented, and it's time that people realize SecuROM is a threat to more than just legitimate and legal usage of software that we purchase.

SecuROM (just like StarForce) is a rootkit. Period. It is no less of a rootkit than was StarForce, and it needs to be dealt with in the same manner as StarForce - with complete elimination from all games. In order to play any game, SecuROM must be installed at an administrative level and has even more power than those who have administrative rights on their own PC. That is an incredibly dangerous situation.

Here's an interesting example of such a situation that got almost no press at all.

Reports started to surface a few months ago of system problems that were totally unrelated to any game or application. For no apparent reason, users started to report that Windows Explorer would crash and Dr. Watson would report a critical error whenever someone right-clicked on a file. Additionally, the deletion of files was now prohibited. Yes, even deleting a useless text file was denied by the system. Obviously, just attempting to use Windows Explorer – even if it was the only thing running – should have nothing to do with any kind of copy protection for a game, right?

What could possibly cause Windows to deny me the right to delete files that I created or no longer needed? More than that, why could I no longer right-click on a file when that was never a problem before?

Before anyone accuses this of being hear-say, I was one of the people affected (or rather “infected”) by this problem.

I wasted many hours running virus scanners and anti-spyware programs to find out what was going on. Of course, running those made no sense because I have a very good virus scanner and I have been a staunch advocate of “safe computing” for years. There's no way that it could have been something that I clicked on or downloaded.

Finally, I realized that the only major change that I had done in the past few days was to allow Neverwinter Nights 2 to upgrade to v1.13. With that realization, I used Windows' System Restore to roll back my PC to just before I did the NWN2 upgrade. After the roll back, I was once again able to delete and right-click on files with no problems.

As a test, I let NWN2 upgrade itself back to v1.13. As soon as it finished, I went into Windows Explorer. Crash, burn, and don't-you-even-think-about-deleting-a-file!

As it turns out, the 1.13 upgrade also included a SecuROM upgrade. The official NWN2 forums included messages from several people who were suffering from the same kind of system contamination. It turns out that owners of Mass Effect also reported the same problems. The issue was finally acknowledged by Obsidian and a fix was made available on the SecuROM web site.

So, let's review.

After the installation of the new SecuROM had finished, people were unable to delete files from their hard drive. Regardless of the fact that NWN2 was not running and that the files in question had nothing to do with NWN2 or any other piece of software that has copy protection, the SecuROM update prevented people from doing with their computer what they normally do. After running the fix, everything was back to normal, such as it is.

There were no apologies and no explanations from SecuROM or Obsidian - just the continuing expectation that paying customers are supposed to have to deal with this ongoing punishment. The most disturbing fact about this is that even as an administrator-level user, SecuROM still had the ability to deny access to certain parts of the operating system.

So, tell me again how SecuROM isn't a rootkit. And while you're at it, tell me why I should be forced to tolerate this for those times when I want to show my support for the developers of a game that I really like.

And yet while all of this is going on, the pirates who couldn't care less about the company or developers continue to play the same games with no SecuROM infections, no reduction in their bank accounts for such headaches, and no guilt.

I'm starting to agree with their philosophy.   read

9:34 AM on 09.01.2008

No longer thrilled about "Max Payne" movie

I have been a Max Payne fan since the first video game came out. Remedy released a demo that included the first level, and I was totally hooked. Then the game came out and I had to pick my jaw off the floor the entire time -- the darkness of the noir feeling to the design, the graphics which were outstanding for the time, the comic-book (sorry ... graphic novel) feeling to the cutscenes, everything about the game was incredible. It was one of the first FPSs that actually compelled me to go back and play it again almost as soon as I had finished it.

Max Payne 2 was a pre-order as soon as the pre-order was available, and it didn't miss a beat. The same feeling, the same quality of the level design, and same richness of the story of were all there, making me long for a third installment of the game.

So, when I heard that a Max Payne movie is coming out and that it isn't directed by Uwe Boll, I was skeptical but I hoped more than anything else that it would follow true to the feel and direction of the games. I even thought that Marky Mark could do a good job in the role.

With respect to story and empathy for Max, the strength of the games come from Max's personal struggles -- first, the death of this wife and child, then relationship with and death of Mona (which started with the death of yet another innocent woman, as Max himself points out at the start of the second game.) They could have just ported the first game over to a movie and it would have been great because the game has all of the elements of an action movie -- but with more story. *cough*

I now think that the movie is going to suck.

Oh, sure. It might do well on its own, but I think that this movie is going to seriously piss off fans of the video game. The full trailer is over at IESB (link below). After seeing it, I think I want to hurl.

Instead of having a movie based on Max's internal struggles, he now has become the New York noir version of Van Helsing, fighting off what appear to be a horde of Valkyries. As far as the trailer is concerned, the movie has become a modern day, supernatural, gun fest, combining Van Helsing, The Matrix, and Sin City. Once again, the movie appears to be a clear indication that Hollywood has become a bastion of non-creativity where the preference is to replace rich storylines with a bunch of cockamamie CGI effects in an attempt to make the eye candy replace the lack of story.

In fact, the only thing that even bears any resemblance to the story line of the original game is that in the movie he is fighting valkyries but in the video game he fought the distributor of the drug Valkyr. I honestly hope that whoever wrote the screenplay to this movie didn't actually think that we're so stupid that we would accept that as a viable link between the game and the movie. Oh, wait. These valkyries killed his family and partner. Yes, that will be enough to link with the game, too, right? Not.

This is not the personal, tormented Max Payne from the videogames. In fact, I don't know what this is. It seems to be more like Max Payne: Pissed-Off Supernatural Crime Fighter. But I do know one thing: based on what I've seen of this trailer, this will not be getting my dollars at the box office.   read

11:09 PM on 08.02.2008

Let Best Buy install your Wii game!

This isn't the first time I've seen this, but while at a local Best Buy to purchase Boom Blox for the Wii I saw this and had to chuckle.

Of course, there's nothing to install with the Wii, unless Best Buy considers the save game file to be an installation. I hope that Best buy doesn't expect people to pay every time they want to play the game. (Yeah, I know, this was just someone being careless with storage boxes, but it still made me chuckle.)

On a separate note, if you own a Wii but you don't own No More Heroes and Okami, you're an idiotic fool.   read

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