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Jon Hartley's blog

9:26 PM on 09.25.2012

WTF Moments in Gaming History: Wall Street Kid

If you're like me, you remember the NES very fondly. You also remember the system for the genres that made the system so great. Sure, there was something for everybody, but generally you could count on plenty of platformers, side scrolling action titles, bullet hell shooters, and RPGs, to name a few well-worn genres from the 8-bit days.

What you wouldn't expect a lot of are stock trading simulators. Mainly because marketing a game where you buy and sell stocks to a bunch of 10-year old kids is INSANE.

Enter: Wall Street Kid.

Wall Street Kid, quite simply, was designed by sociopaths who thought, "You know, there's plenty of games out there where you play baseball, save princesses, or do battle on alien worlds. So let's just get away from all of that and let kids do what they really want to do: try to make a profit off of the volatile stock market!"

Keep in mind that in 1990, when Wall Street Kid was released to what were certainly crowds of gamers who had camped outside of stores in anticipation of such a AAA gaming experience, games were pretty expensive at about $50 a piece. People complain nowadays about $60 games that "only" provide 10 hours of single-player content, but let's remember in that in 1987, people were shelling out $50 for Deadly Towers.

So, this wasn't like asking somebody to pay 800 Microsoft Moonbucks for a niche XBLA title that might offer some stupid fun. This was asking a bunch of pre-teens to set aside their allowances for a couple of months so that they could buy a game that you could beat in two or three hours that had you trading stocks instead of punches or gunfire.

Riveting gameplay!

"Okay," you may be thinking, "this doesn't sound so bad. I mean, yeah, it was a dumb business decision to make a game like that, but I could see a sort of stupid appeal. It could be fun if done right." I know, I know! I felt the same way when I played it as a kid. The problem is that the game was AWFUL, even if you thought trading stocks all day sounded amazing.

First of all, the difficulty level was punishingly hard. You had to trade the stocks of companies like "Strayhound", "Reebucks", or (my favorite) "American Depress" on a weekly basis according to wildly varying market conditions that could make a stock hot one day and leave it plummeting in price seven days later. You were expected to use the game's version of The Wall Street Journal (another well-known name in children's entertainment) to make your decisions based on interest rates, market conditions, and news items.

Seems legit

See, your character has a $600 billion inheritance from a distant uncle that he can't have access to until he proves his worth by turning $500,000 into at least $5 million within four months by trading on the stock market. Why? I don't know...because your uncle's a dick.

Why do you need to make so much money? Because at regular intervals throughout the game, you will be forced- yes, forced- to buy large items. If you don't have the money, the game ends. One time it's a $1 million house, another time it's a $700,000 yacht, and then there's the family castle that is up for auction but used to belong to the family. Depending on how the auction goes, it will be at least $3 million, but can cost as much as $10 million. How did a family worth $600 billion allow a castle that was supposedly important to them fall into the hands of outsiders? We don't ask such questions.

Not pictured: literal wet blanket

Then, there's your fiancee, Priscilla. Her sole existence appears to be to bleed you dry and make endless demands of you even though you have four months to make a 1,000% profit on the stock market. She wants a dog, and then she wants a new car. Then she wants stereo equipment, as well as art to put in the new house. She'll also want to throw an expensive party, and you'd better buy her some jewelry, too. You'll also have to make time out of your stressful workdays to take her to picnics or carnivals, and after the wedding, you'll take a week off of work for your honeymoon, even though you're busting your balls to try to make back the money you spent buying her all of that crap.

As a kid, you have to wonder whether this was intended to be a game that trains you to kick ass on the stock market or one that trains you to have a deep-rooted fear of commitment. Wall Street Kid teaches you that women are nagging, greedy, needy creatures that exist only to make your life difficult. For $50, you get both a stock trading sim and a mysogynist trainer!

Fun for all ages!

The next time you wonder what the hell game developers and publishers are thinking, just remember that once upon a time, a little software company called Sofel published a point-and-click, stock trading strategy game that was ridiculously difficult in a time when videogames were still thought of mainly as "kiddie stuff."   read

12:21 AM on 09.18.2012

SaleBlog: Dust Off Those Instruments, 50% Off Rock Band 1 & 2 DLC

I don't know about you guys, but it's been awhile since I took out the trusty ol' plastic axe and shredded out a few tunes in my living room. Still, even my cold, black heart melted a bit when I heard of the monumental sale Harmonix is throwing at us shortly.

Don't worry about this guy- he already owns them all

Starting Tuesday, 9/18, over 1,100 tracks that were released before Rock Band 3 came out will be 50% off. Now, what is not known is whether this represents a permanent price drop or a temporary sale, so if you've had your eye on that Night Ranger Pack for a few years now but were too cheap to shell out the entire $5.49, you might want to snatch it up with the quickness so you can get your "Sister Christian" on.

On Xbox Live, prices will gradually update, but all of the tracks should be priced correctly by noon ET. Meanwhile, Wii prices will update at the normal time that Wii DLC usually goes up (whenever that is), while the same will be true for PS3 tracks. Here's a full list of all of the track packs, albums, and single songs that will be impacted by the discount.

The songs will not have pro guitar or keyboard functionality, since they were all issued before Rock Band 3, BUT have no fear! They are still compatible with both Rock Band 3 and Rock Band Blitz, in case you have traded in your plastic git-fiddle for a regular old controller.

Are you guys going to pick anything up? Do you even play music games anymore? I'm kind of interested, and I have to admit that I do miss playing fake guitar...   read

12:41 AM on 09.13.2012

Backlogged: Alpha Protocol

Just about every gamer has a backlog, and I am no exception. To try and keep mine managable, I will regularly pick a game I've been meaning to get to and complete it (or play as much of it as I can stand) before reporting my thoughts. That's what Backlogged is all about: the dream of finally getting to all the games I've been meaning to play. And no, it has nothing to do with being constipated. Finally, don't worry, I won't including anything other than very light spoilers past the first hour of gameplay without warning you.

Not pictured: Awesome "Se-gaaaaa" opening credit

The Backstory

Alpha Protocol is a game that I read about regularly before its release, immediately being interested in the branching paths and interesting dialogue system. Of course, the game was delayed for over a year and upon release, was panned by many critics (including our own Jim Sterling, who gave the game a woeful 2/10) for poor shooting and cover mechanics, along with technical issues.

Nevertheless, the wide range of review scores (as low as 10, but with several others in the low to mid-80s) and the praise I've heard for the RPG aspects of the game kept me somewhat interested, and I finally snagged a copy for all of $11.69 at GameStop in February. Despite hearing that the game often gets frustrating due to the shooting sections not being well done and the difficulty being uneven, I finally gave it a try this last week.

Easy Does It

I'm not "reviewing" this game, per se. As such, I am freed from the responsibility to try out different difficulty levels and so forth. Instead, I simply aimed to play it, enjoy it (if possible), and clear it out of the ol' backlog. Because of that, I made the decision early on to play the game on easy.

Why? Well, I'm okay with a good challenge if a game's mechanics are sound and the difficulty isn't ridiculous. To date, there are only a handful of games I've ever played through on easy (this and Catherine being the two that come to mind), and in both cases it's because I was more interested in the story than anything else. When I heard that this game had shoddy combat and that you had to invest in certain skills to get anywhere on the standard difficulty, I figured I'd have a better time saying "eff it", playing on easy and doing whatever I wanted, instead. Although very few sections stand out that seem as if they would have been frustrating on harder levels (besides the helicopter attack from the last mission), I think I made the right choice.

Getting Started

You get to choose classes in Alpha Protocol, which is only slightly made confusing by the fact that later on, you also choose specialties. I chose "Soldier" in part because it indicated that my character has "natural language talent and quick wit." Sounds about right, if I do say so myself. Ahem.

My first official act within the game? To hit on the first woman I spoke to, the horrifically-named Mina Tang. Mina has disastrous bangs and a mouth that looks like it belongs on the head cheerleader of Uncanny Valley High, but I decided right off the bat that like all secret agents, my character would be all about the tang. Even Mina Tang.

Little-known fact: Mini grew up in East LA, which is why she still shaves her eyebrows off, then pencils them in

I noticed right off the bat that the game likes to provide you with choices. One of the easiest of which: "Open Door" or "Break Open Door". Well, shit. If you put it like THAT...why would I ever NOT want to break open a door? I'd kick in the door to Subway whenever I wanted to get a sandwich if I could get away with it. I was less impressed with the melee combat, which looked decidedly last-gen and like it was tacked on at the last minute. "Oh shit guys, what do players do against all of the enemies who will run through their gunfire and attack them with kung fu? Better program some melee in quick!"

No, I realized that my door-busting ways were already over; stealthy was the way for me. Using my stealth skills, I snuck up on an unsuspecting enemy and immobilized him with some typical judo-rate that would only work in the confines of a videogame. I also got my first taste of the lockpicking, hacking, and other minigames, which were not bad! At least, at first. But hey, I've yet to find a similar minigame that hasn't gotten old after doing it a couple hundred times.

After kicking the shit out of all kinds of nameless thugs, I found out that it was all just a training exercise and part of the recruiting process. OF COURSE! That makes perfect sense! I customized my character (a pair of aviators and five 'o-clock shadow seemed great for his douchey, womanizing demeanor), got trained up, and was set to go.

Betrayal! Suspense! Intrigue! Sexual Innuendos!

The story of Alpha Protocol is a mixed bag. On one hand, I loved the characters, who may not have been believable in all cases (and often were caricatures), but were always clearly-defined and in most cases, either instantly loveable or hateable. On the other hand, the story was a whole lot of crap about terrorists doing terroristy things, evil corporations working with arms dealers, missiles needing to be recovered, and blah blah blah, you get the point. I'll be honest with you: a fair amount of the time, I set off on a mission not really knowing (or caring) why the hell I was doing what I was doing.

What I did care about, though, was my interaction with the other characters. Sure, it was fun clumsily trying to seduce women, but it was also fun figuring out the motives of shady characters or deciding which way to approach conversations in order to get them to do what I wanted them to do. Investing in them made me similarly invested in big choices that occurred later in the game, which were occasionally among the harder ones I've been asked to make in a videogame.

Your character, no matter what you do, seems to be locked into the persona of Drake from the "Uncharted" series' extra-snarky older brother. You can choose to be professional, suave, arrogant, aggressive, and so on during conversations, but when you don't get to choose what you say (as in some cutscenes or communications during missions), Agent Thorton often makes dry wisecracks, anyway, such as when he wonders aloud in a monotone voice whether a terrorist under arrest "likes waterboarding".

Sometimes, to keep the story on the path you've sent it on, characters will do things that seem out of character, or just plain weird. For instance, after a misunderstanding with one character, I was able to end the confrontation without violence, which is fine, but it seemed weird that he would just let bygones be bygones when I had just mowed down dozens of his men during the mission. Other times, though, you can convince someone who openly dislikes you to help you out if you appeal to the correct motivation, which you use your own intuition and the information you've collected on them to figure out.

Judo-rate! Keeeyaaaa!

Choices, Choices

The game's dialogue system is great. Options of what attitude to assume in a conversation appear as other characters are finishing their statements or questions, and you have a finite amount of time to choose how to act or respond. I found that the one to two-word descriptions were usually pretty fitting with what Thorton would actually say. The really great thing, though, was seeing how your choices affected not only the gameplay itself, but how your missions went and what options you might have in the future.

Alpha Protocol has all kinds of different paths that you can take, ranging not only from how you deal with the game's villains and main characters to who you ally with, and sometimes who lives and dies. Here's a vague and only lightly-spoilery description of a scenario I dealt with early on:

I had the choice to either extort, arrest, or kill an arms dealer. Because I wanted to get information from him, I chose to arrest him. Doing so hampered intelligence gathering in the region, but also lowered terrorist weapon supplies. In another mission, I chose to fulfill a side objective that helped a friend, but also caused a security lockdown, making the mission more complicated.

Later on, the game also throws some tough "you can only accomplish one of the two objective" scenarios at you, but it goes back to the well with them a little too often and they lose some of their power as a result.

Love Machine

For me, this game was one part murder simulator and one part sexual harassment simulator. Although I found the combat to not be quite as bad as others have, you can guess which part I enjoyed more. From the start, my Thorton hit on, flirted with, and generally made uncomfortable every woman that he came in contact with.

And there are so many to choose from! From the afore-mentioned Miss Tang to the predictably career-minded photographer (with red hair and named Scarlet, no less) to the classic damsel in distress (Madison Saint James, who Thorton correctly notices has a porn star name), there is quite a range. None is as entertaining as SIE, though, whose name is spelled in all caps for no apparent reason, besides maybe the fact that she murders professional soldiers in the snow while wearing a tube top and pink sunglasses, so she can pretty much spell her name however the hell she wants.

Completely appropriate attire for gunfights in Russia in the dead of winter

All have their own personalities, which makes interacting with them a little more interesting than in, say, Bioware's offerings, where you know you pretty much have to listen to their boring stories and pretend to be interested in their problems to earn their favor. Sure, Bioware's method may be more realistic, but in Alpha Protocol you can actually try to woo a woman and fail miserably for awhile when not knowing what she wants.

Another difference from Bioware's games is that you can be a complete man-whore and sleep with everyone in one playthrough. I failed, as the undoubtedly sadomasochistic pleasures of SIE were undiscovered by my character, but it's the thought that counts. The romance scenes, of course, are nothing to write home about, with just the insinuation that you, to use one love interest's innuendo, "planted your tracking device" in the women.

Who's the Boss?

I generally tend to think that boss fights are a silly, unnecessary and outdated part of gaming that have overstayed their welcome. They either require you to abandon the core mechanics of the game for a gimmicky one-off battle or they lazily through a suped-up version of a regular villain at you just to add some articifical challenge to the proceedings.

In shooters, the problem is ten-fold, as it's impossible to suspend your disbelief when you have to shoot someone dozens of times in the face to kill them. In Alpha Protocol, you run into a teenage girl who appears to be fighting you in street clothes, yet somehow takes several bullets to the face before realizing she's probably lost the battle. Later on, I faced an enemy who I shot over 30 times, almost always in the head, before again subduing- not even KILLING- him.

The only saving grace for what would likely be very frustrating experiences on the harder difficulties from these bullet-absorbing supervillains is that if you level up certain abilities, the fights are almost an afterthought. With all but a couple of bosses, I simply used a pistol ability where you freeze time, load up a bunch of targets (all of them to the bosses' head, of course) and let them all go at once to make quick work of them. Still, what place do boss fights like that have in a game like this?

Her hoodie is...bulletproof, I guess? Hell, I don't know

Shooting: Dice-Roll Style

Some people were put off by the combat in Alpha Protocol, and I can't blame them. Due to the RPG aspects of the game, there are times when you'll aim at someone's head and simply miss for no apparent reason, for instance. That's hard to defend. Then again, how do you properly show progression if all of the success rests on the player's individual ability level, which by and large doesn't change a whole lot?

I also found that if you stick to a couple types of guns and just level them up, the shooting wasn't quite as frustrating. Having to wait a few seconds for your reticle to converge for a critical hit felt strange (especially when being shot at), but since your enemies have just about zero accuracy on the lowest difficulty level, it wasn't such a big deal for me.

The stealth aspects of the game were not as bad as I'd heard. I didn't feel like enemies who shouldn't have known I was there detected me very often, and an ability you can earn fairly quickly that works like the "Detect Life" spell/ability in the Elder Scrolls series was pretty helpful, too. That said, my stealth style is best described as ", fuck it", as I would generally use stealth just to get the drop on a group of enemies and start confrontations to my advantage, not to sneak through entire missions unnoticed, which seems as if it would be fairly difficult in this game.

Some missions only required for you to use your conversational skills, and another mission has you using a sniper rifle to zoom in on suspects to find the right one before carrying out an assassination, which was a nice change of pace. However, a lot of the missions required the same ", fuck it" play style and didn't have much variety as the game went on.

Many Different Paths

When I came to the end of the game, I felt pretty satisfied. Even with one playthrough, I can testify to the many different ways your Alpha Protocol game can end. I re-loaded my last checkpoint right before the final boss fight and changed a couple of choices right at the end that gave me different endings, for instance, one of which was radically different (and patently ridiculous, but whatever).

Looking around online, it seems that there are many parts of the story that branch off and can cause the ending to be completely different. There's also an extra rundown at the end of the final mission that ties up some loose ends via a few paragraphs of text, which is also done at the end of previous missions to help you understand the gravity of your decisions.

(SPOILERS)In the end of my playthrough, Marburg apparently escaped scot-free, but I brought Leland to bloody, beautiful justice. I saved Mina and we floated off into the sunset to make little Tang-Thortons. Of course, when I reloaded and chose to let Leland live, I literally had my jaw drop as Thorton was shot by a sniper who turned out to be Scarlet herself. Turned out that Scarlet had made the assassination attempt on Taiwan's president earlier in the game, too. I give Obsidian props for making two very distinct endings from what would be two nearly identical playthroughs, but the Scarlet-as-assassin ending was pretty far-fetched. If you've played through Alpha Protocol, let me know how your ending was!(END SPOILERS)

In real life, I always choose "suave"

Remaining Questions

-If there's no new game plus, why did I earn XP at the end of the final mission?

-Why does SIE's accent sound Russian, not German?

-Seriously..."Mina Tang"?

By the Numbers

19:55 time logged
24 achievements unlocked for 675 gamerscore
576 enemies killed
108 enemies subdued
49,336 XP earned
928 children orphaned (no really, the game tells you that)

Final Thoughts

Alpha Protocol exceeded all of my expectations. I'll go as far as to say that I really enjoyed playing it. Now, it had started to wear out its welcome with repetitive gameplay and mission structure near the end of the story, but the interaction between characters kept me interested, nonetheless. While I felt that the combat and overall gameplay coule be improved, I didn't find them to be as bad as was indicated in many of the reviews I've read.

Alpha Protocol reminds me of LA Noire a lot in that while the game was far from perfect, there were some solid ideas that I'd like to see taken further, if not in a sequel, than in another game entirely. Overall, I liked Alpha Protocol a lot, and I'll likely replay it in the future to see some of the other things that could have happened in the story.

If you've played the game, too, let me know what you thought of it in the comments!   read

4:11 PM on 08.30.2012

My Completely Unnecessary (Re)Introduction Blog

Hello, friends, strangers, and men pretending to be women!

I feel more than a little self-conscious writing an introduction blog, for a couple of reasons:

a) I would rather the focus of any blog entry not be on me. My consoles of choice, the games I've played, my dashing good lucks, sure. Me, as a person? The subject merely being the fact that I'm here? That seems a little weird.

b) It seems only slightly less masturbatory than actual masturbation, but slightly more masturbatory than bragging about one's gamerscore to write a blog that basically says, "Here I am! Quiver at my presence and cast Faps at my feet, peasants!"

However, the fact is that while I've never stopped visiting Destructoid regularly, I've been absent from my poor, neglected c-blog for two years (I've visited the site, commented, and blogged in various capacities since 2007). It would seem just as awkward to simply show up with a blog about whether I want to buy a Wii U or discussing the merits of yet another game where you shoot stuff in first person without so much as a mention of the fact that my next most recent blog post was about Heavy fucking Rain.

It's also more than a little weird that I've been lurking/reading/commenting/blogging here for five years, yet I haven't really ever felt as if I'm ingrained myself in the community. I think that's a problem, and just last night I read various blogs about the state of the community here, including one by Y0j1mb0 that basically said, "If you don't do anything to contribute, don't complain." I think that makes a lot of sense.

In the past, I aimed to post blogs about things I found interesting, in the hopes that others would, too, and some discussion would ensue. I tried to give what I thought would be a unique take on things that had nonetheless been discussed to death already, hoping to provide a fresh angle that would get noticed. It's not that I don't want to do that anymore, but I also want to actually be more of a part of things here, too.

What I'm saying is:

I want to get in your pants, Destructoid.

This post is kind of like the stammering, self-deprecating Hugh Grant speech from some bad 2000's rom-com that is going to help make that happen. Hopefully, you will find it somewhat amusing and return when I actually post something of substance. At the bare minimum, I hope you don't wish you had spent the last few minutes causing yourself bodily harm rather than reading my ramblings. I think that's a pretty good starting point, too.   read

5:41 PM on 02.02.2010

How Heavy Rain Pushes All the Wrong Buttons

A funny thing happens when I browse this fine site. Many times, I'm more interested in people's reactions (and the reasons for them) then the actual stories themselves. I find Destructoid not only to be an awesome place to get news and even make some friends (if you're into that sort of thing), but also an interesting community with a subculture all its own. I find that at certain times, the Dtoid community reacts to things in a way that no other site does in quite the same way. Figuring out why this is the case is a nice challenge from time to time. So of course, after braving the comments sections of a few stories related to Heavy Rain, I wondered why the game provoked such intense reactions.

What follows, fine folks, is the result of painstaking research, good ol' fashioned hard work and a little bit of just plain making shit up.

The question was obvious: what is it about Heavy Rain that pisses people off or even makes them give a damn at all? I, like most of us the majority of the time, can bypass stories about games I have no interest in without feeling compelled to stop in and comment (again) about just why I won't be playing said game. However, any Heavy Rain story (even early on, before the "games vs. movies" nonsense really got started) would attract numbers of people who simply felt the need to tell us why they wouldn't be playing it. Furthermore, people seemed to be a little more passionate about this game than they really should be, especially if they really didn't care (as they claimed). There had to be something about this game that got people's panties in a bunch, so to speak.

What I've realized is that Heavy Rain has inadvertently created a "perfect storm" of rant-inducing, argument-starting, fanboy-enciting madness. There are a few buttons that a game or its developers/publishers can push that will set people off a bit, and Heavy Rain pushes many of them, maybe more so than any game in recent history. Here they are:

It's a PS3 Exclusive

I don't have to point out to anyone who has visited a gaming website before that all you have to do to stir up the ol' controversy pot a bit is to release your game as an exclusive to one system or another. While scientists have quietly kidnapped console fanboys for years in order to perform grisly experiments on their underdeveloped craniums, they still have not found any real reason for the condition that has plagued gaming websites and forums since the beginning of time. Er, internet time, that is.

Still, it is an irrefutable fact that if a game comes out just for the PS3 or the Xbox 360, there will be drama. Lots of it. That's the most obvious reason that comes to mind for the shitstorm that ensues in the comments sections of even the most uneventful Heavy Rain story. It didn't help that last May, before the game was even on some people's radars, we got the obligatory "only possible on the PS3" comment. Of course, it wouldn't be a perfect storm with just that.

The Developers Love Their Game Too Much; Can't Shut Up

If there is one clear way to get many Dtoiders to hope your game sucks, it is to endlessly talk it up to anyone and everyone who will listen. How many times have we seen this happen? Peter Molyneux. Denis Dyack. Luc Bernard. Peter Molyneux again. Cliff Bleszinski.

Well, Quantic Dream's David Cage surpassed all but the most elite in this category with the rapid-fire quotes that were fed to the community regularly, inciting anger from members who do not take kindly to such cockiness. We heard Cage proudly state that Heavy Rain had morphed from being a game into something else entirely. We heard Cage say that he didn't want us distracted by Trophy alerts during play. We heard Cage call for more mature themes, characters and situations in games (he had a good point here). We heard Cage fire back at criticisms about his game, which almost no one had actually played yet, and the supposedly QTE-heavy gameplay . Cage also wished aloud that players would only play through the game once, in order to preserve their initial experience, which prompted quite a few incredulous comments.

And it wasn't all Cage, either. Sony reps boldly (stupidly?) stated that Heavy Rain graphically "blows Uncharted 2 away". They also stated that Heavy Rain is a "gamble" (which it is), and the game's producer even weighed in on the Modern Warfare 2 "No Russian" controversy.

Of course, this overexposure of Heavy Rain in general and Cage in specific worked hand in hand with another thing that is sure to get people riled up around these parts...

People are Too Damn Excited

There is a certain trend that emerges with a high-profile game, which Heavy Rain has surprisingly become, at least here at Destructoid. When the game is announced and first spoken of, reactions tend to be almost entirely comprised of optimism from those who think it's up their alley and non-commital comments from those who aren't sure whether they'll be into it or not. However, as more information comes out about the game, those who are pumped for it already become really pumped, and an interesting phenomenon occurs: those who aren't interested in the game somehow feel the need to counteract what they feel is an excess of hype or excitement by, well, shitting all over the game whenever they get a chance.

I don't know what this is all about; perhaps these negative Nancys feel as if they are somehow "bringing balance to the Force" or something. For whatever reason, though, people in general can't stand to see a game that they personally aren't interested in get too much attention. Particularly when that game contains...

Quick Time Events!

Just like Heavy Rain itself, Quick Time Events push all the wrong buttons for some folks. Which is ironic, because pushing the wrong buttons in one of Heavy Rain's Quick Time Events will likely get you crushed to bits in a junkyard compactor. Because Heavy Rain, like Indigo Prophecy (or Fahrenheit, if you prefer) before it does not appear to have dedicated controls for many of the actions you will perform in-game, its critics have taken to lobbing many a slight towards the game- including the ultimate critique of saying it's not a game at all.

To me personally, such statements have no merit whatsoever. I would like those in the "Heavy Rain's not a game" camp to make a couple of things clear to me. First of all, what makes a video game a video game? If you're so sure Heavy Rain doesn't fit the criteria, you must know what your criteria are, and I would love to hear them. Second, what makes Heavy Rain anything other than a game? Is it because of the emphasis on story? Is it because you aren't always using predefined controls, like "right trigger to shoot, B to crouch," etc.?

So, what other games aren't actually video games? Are point and click adventures games? What about console versions of board games? How about old-school JRPGs that require little more of you than to walk from place to place, select actions from a menu and watch the story unfold? After all, in many of these games, you don't even have an effect on the story, unlike in Heavy Rain, where your actions will determine how things proceed. One of the funnier arguments I read was that Heavy Rain isn't a game because you could play it with a DVD or TV remote. You couldn't do that with many of the Final Fantasy installments? The thing is, while no one wants to stand up and say that something like a Final Fantasy game or Secret of Monkey Island isn't a game, Heavy Rain hasn't come out yet and doesn't have that place in gamers' hearts where such a criticism would be met with a zillion "STFU"s. Still, it doesn't make the argument any less silly.

And a quick note on QTEs- you may hate them, but that doesn't make them any less legitimate of a gameplay device. Most of the time when you play a game, you react to a visual stimulus by pressing the appropriate button(s) on your controller. QTEs just break this down to its barest essentials, but make no mistake, pressing "X" when it pops up is essentially the same as jumping over a Goomba as it approaches. It's just a stripped down take on one of the core mechanics of video games. If you want to call them unimaginative or annoying, fine, but it's just not correct to say QTEs aren't gameplay.

GASP- It Wants to Be a Movie?!?!

Recent articles on Destructoid have highlighted this last fire-starter, as many have come forward to say that they aren't big fans of what they perceive to be an attempt to make Heavy Rain more like a movie than a game. The thing is, Indigo Prophecy already did the same exact thing- how big of an issue should this be in 2010?

Well, this is just poor timing and bad luck, honestly. Since Indigo Prophecy, we've had more "are games art?" debates than you can shake a frozen turd at, not to mention the continuing onslaught of awful film adaptions of games, as well as the continuance of the time-honored tradition of shitty games based on film licenses. Gamers simply don't want their games and movies to mix.

Then, there was Avatar. What normally would have been just another blockbuster got blown out of proportion entirely in the gaming community, particularly because James Cameron insisted upon making comments about certain characters being influenced by gaming culture, as well as insisting that his movie was even more immersive than a great game could be.

Now, I agree that games should focus on their strengths and not try to be something that they're not, but is Heavy Rain really trying to be a movie? No. The quoted blurbs from the review mailer Jim Sterling received compared two elements to that of films- the narrative and the production values. How many of you really want to say that gaming, as a whole, seriously competes with mainstream films in those areas? Come on, now. That's ignoring the fact that this type of crap is written to sell the game to people who are on the fence, and are not written by the people that actually created the game. So, Heavy Rain is bad for gaming because some marketing majors decided to compare a couple of elements of the game to movies?

Okay, So What Does All This Mean?

So, that's what I came up with. This all comes together at a perfectly bad time, as the "console wars", the tradition of cocky developers bragging up their games, people's dislike of QTEs (and the "casual gaming" fad that they supposedly represent) and the non-troversy regarding games trying to be movies have all built up to a high level. For one game to represent all of these issues means that there is probably no end in sight to the ridiculousness we've already seen in the comments sections of any and all Heavy Rain-related stories here.

I'm not naive enough to think that pointing out all of the characteristics that get people riled up about this game will change much, though. If you're the kind of chap that gets fired up about a game that you haven't even played yet because of something a developer says or gameplay elements that you haven't even tried yet, self-evaluation is probably not your strong suit. And as for the other stuff, well, we've already seen that nothing will bring an end to the great console wars.

However, if even one person can just acknowledge that maybe the reason that they hate (or love) Heavy Rain before it has even been released has little to do with the game itself, I will be pleased. Maybe at some point later this month, we can all give the game a chance and STFUAJPHR.   read

11:10 AM on 09.28.2009

(NVGR) Nightmare on Elm St. Remake Trailer and Reactions!

As posted in the title, this is not video game related, but I know there are a fair amount of horror fans here on Dtoid, and I had to see what you guys thought of the trailer for the Nightmare on Elm Street remake trailer that was just officially released. Here's the trailer for anyone who hasn't seen it.


Now, before I say what I thought, here's a little background on my Freddy fandom. I saw the first movie on cable when I was like 6 or 7 due to a lazy babysitter falling asleep and leaving me unsupervised. Needless to say, it scared the shit out of me, but I always loved the movies anyway. To me, Freddy is the most iconic horror character of all-time, but I recognize that I'm very biased on that matter, as well. Even though really only half of the movies (by my count, the original, the 3rd, New Nightmare and Freddy vs. Jason) are any good, I still enjoy all of them for different reasons, even the corny ones.

Having said that, I was not opposed whatsoever towards having a remake done of the movie. I firmly believe that a remake can't harm the integrity of the original, and is actually less harmful to the original than a bunch of crappy sequels are. A lot of people say, "it's all about the money, blah blah blah", but when is making a movie NOT about the money? I'm talking about from the studio's perspective. To the talent involved, from the director to the actors to the crew, whether it is a remake or not, it is still an exercise in trying to make the best film that can possibly be made. When did we start giving a shit about the motives of producers and executives? It's just like with video games. I don't care if Kotick or whoever else is a big asshole, because I know there are hardworking programmers, designers and developers who are trying to make a game worth playing. If you go to the top of any company, you will always find money-grubbing, greedy bastards.

But I digress. My original thoughts on Jackie Earle Haley playing Freddy were positive ones, and once I finally saw Watchmen, I was actually really excited for him to be playing the horror icon. However, after this trailer...I'm not so excited. First of all, let's talk about the makeup. More realistic in its depiction of what a burn victim would look like? Yes. The problem is, real burn victims aren't scary! I don't want to have a joke-telling Freddy, but that doesn't mean a sinister grin isn't welcome now and then. After all, Freddy is a sadistic bastard who enjoys what he does. How would he make any facial expression whatsoever with that makeup? I'm just not a fan of it.

Also...the voice. I thought Haley's voice in Watchmen was already close to ideal for Freddy, and the voice he used in the trailer was And what's with the lisp? The last, minor problem for me is just a matter of Haley's height. This may seem like nit-picking, but any Freddy connoisseur knows that Freddy has about fifteen shots of his silhouette in every one of his films. It builds suspense and adds a little creepiness. With Haley, it just doesn't work. He's just way too short. I would have preferred a stand-in for the silhouette shots, since you're not seeing the makeup or anything anyway at that point. I know Robert Englund was also not very tall, but still.

I'm still going to go see this for sure. I'm willing to give it a shot. However, I think I'm definitely an easy mark for this one, and I still managed to walk away from the trailer disappointed. If you're going to rehash the original movie so much (right down to individual kill scenes and dialogue being repeated), why change Freddy's makeup so drastically or give him a fruity voice? I will say that the opening parts with the origin of Freddy were pretty bad-ass though. And as to the kids he's terrorizing...meh, just more crappy young actors that look like they belong in a Dawson's Creek re-run.

Oh, to make this post a little bit game related:

What a brutal game that was.   read

8:35 PM on 07.29.2009

EA Sports MMA Will Boast Fedor Emelianenko as Cover Boy

There has been a lot of doubt cast on the upcoming EA Sports MMA game (aptly titled EA Sports MMA) based upon a perceived lack of star power outside of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. However, you can't fault EA for it's cover athlete: Fedor Emelianenko, the #1 ranked heavyweight MMA fighter in the world. Boasting a record of 30-1 (with the one loss coming from years ago from a doctor's stoppage due to a cut), Emelianenko has beaten everyone from former UFC champions to outright freaks of nature (see: 7'2", 350+ lb. Hong Man Choi).

During a press conference today where most hardcore MMA fans were hoping a UFC deal would be announced or at least hinted at, Fedor was excited to announce that he would be the headlining athlete of EA Sports' first foray into the quickly growing sport of mixed martial arts. Other fighters mentioned officially today include Gegard Mousasi and Renato "Babalu" Sobral.

Of course, there's no fun without a bit of speculation, and there are many more fighters that have either individually announced their participation in the game, or are highly expected to be included. Those would include Randy Couture, Nick Diaz, Frank Shamrock, Tim Sylvia and Jason "Mayhem" Miller. Really, I don't see this as a failure-in-the-making like many do because of the lack of UFC license and fighters. After all, there are tons of great fighters outside of the UFC to bring in the hardcore MMA fans, and many casual fans will give this game a shot solely based on the EA Sports logo. If the gameplay is as tight as it is with the Fight Night series, THQ could be in for some serious competition.

And hey...competition is good for all of us, right? We all know how stagnant franchises can get when there is no competition...say, due to an exclusive licensing agreement.

By the way, Hong Man Choi is also know for being the man who beat Jose Canseco into the fetal position recently. Despite such a great feat, he is not known for his tremendous skill as a fighter, believe it or not. Full press release follows.


World’s Top Ranked MMA Fighter Joined by Gegard Mousasi and Renato Sobral as First Fighters Announced for All-New Product

Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS), announced today that Fedor Emelianenko, the world’s top ranked* MMA heavyweight, will headline the EA SPORTS™ MMA fighter roster. Emelianenko will be joined by Gegard Mousasi and Renato Sobral, both of whom will be featured in a title bout at the STRIKEFORCE fight on August 15, as the first of a long list of fighters who will appear in EA SPORTS MMA, the all-new mixed martial arts title coming in 2010.

"I have fought all over the world and I am excited to be in EA SPORTS MMA because this game is going to show the global appeal of mixed martial arts,” said Emelianenko. "I know MMA fans have been wanting to play as me and pitting me against any opponent. Now they will have their opportunity.”

Fedor Emelianenko, a 6’0”, 231 pound Russian heavyweight mixed martial arts fighter, who excels in Sambo and Judo, holds a 30-1 record and is the current WAMMA Heavyweight champion. Emelianenko defended his WAMMA championship by knocking out former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski.

Gegard Mousasi, a former Dream Middleweight champion, has a current record of 25-2-1 and won his last match in Dream 9 against Mark Hunt this past May. The 6’1”, 185 pound Dutch-Armenian fighter will be taking on Renato Sobral to determine STRIKEFORCE’s Light Heavyweight champion and has a fight style that is a unique blend of Dutch kickboxing and judo.

Sobral, hailing from Brazil, is known for his aggressive style, grappling prowess, and high-caliber submissions. He is the current STRIKEFORCE Light Heavyweight champion and has a record of 35-8 with his last victory coming against Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou at Affliction: Day of Reckoning fight earlier this year.

"I am very excited to have Fedor, the number one heavyweight in the world, as one of the top fighters in EA SPORTS MMA,” said Executive Producer Dale Jackson. "He is one of the elite fighters in the sport today and will provide the ultimate competition for our gamers. The EA SPORTS MMA team at Tiburon has been working on the game for over a year already and we will have a lot more great fighters and other exciting news to talk about soon.”

In addition to appearing in the EA SPORTS MMA video game, Mousasi and Sobral will be sponsored by EA SPORTS for the STRIKEFORCE fight.

EA SPORTS MMA will feature the most authentic, intense and broad mixed martial arts experience to date – complete with a vast array of top fighters and fighting styles from around the world. EA SPORTS MMA will be available on the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system and the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system.

For more information about EA SPORTS MMA, log onto or follow the game on Twitter at

EA SPORTS™ is the leading interactive sports software brand in the world, with top-selling titles and franchises including Madden NFL, FIFA Soccer, NHL® hockey, NBA LIVE basketball, NCAA® Football and Tiger Woods PGA TOUR®.

* As ranked by

About Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts Inc. (EA), headquartered in Redwood City, California, is a leading global interactive entertainment software company. Founded in 1982, the Company develops, publishes, and distributes interactive software worldwide for video game systems, personal computers, wireless devices and the Internet. Electronic Arts markets its products under four brand names: EATM, EA SPORTSTM, EA MobileTM and POGOTM. In fiscal 2009, EA posted GAAP net revenue of $4.2 billion and had 31 titles that sold more than one million copies. EA's homepage and online game site is More information about EA's products and full text of press releases can be found on the Internet at

EA, EA SPORTS, EA Mobile and POGO are trademarks or registered trademarks of Electronic Arts Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. John Madden, NFL, NCAA, NBA, FIFA, NASCAR, Tiger Woods and PGA TOUR are trademarks of their respective owners and used with permission. Xbox 360 is a trademark of the Microsoft group of companies and is used under license from Microsoft. PlayStation and PLAYSTATION are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.   read

7:29 PM on 06.25.2009

Games and Crap (inFAMOUS edition)

So, as an underachieving blogger here at Dtoid, I’ve decided to find some of the barriers that keep me from blogging more often, and systematically eliminate them like some sort of genocidal dictator. Only, instead of leaving death and destruction in my wake, I will hopefully leave smiles and heaps upon heaps of comments from adoring readers. Or at least a half-dozen comments from really bored people who just feel bad that I’m not getting any comments. Whatever.

Most of the time, I don’t blog because when I do blog, I spend a couple of hours really thinking everything through, writing my post, etc. Sometimes, I just want to spew out some random thoughts like so much bile into the vomit receptacle that is the internet. In those cases, I’ll write an installment of “Games and Crap”. This way, I can write about a few different things, be more active in the Destructoid community, and maybe one day reach my ultimate goal of joining the ranks of Jim Sterling and Samit “the other guy here who likes sports games” Sarkar as an editor of this fine place. But enough about me…let’s get on to my biased opinions that I will oh-so-boldly state as fact:

inFAMOUS Doesn’t Suck, Other Than the Caps in the Title

Perhaps you were under the impression that inFAMOUS was an overrated piece of trash. Maybe you thought that it was just another AAA title gone wrong; yet another big game that doesn’t meet expectations. It could be that you thought that the formatting of the title was stupid, too.

Well, you’re wrong. Er…except about that last thing.

I picked up inFAMOUS as part of a sweet “buy 2 PS3 games, get 1 free” sale. I wasn’t even that interested in it, actually. However, given my fairly-strict policy of not picking up anything but exclusives for the PS3, I gave it a chance.

And guess what, you jerks? It’s fun. That’s right. The game that you mocked, slighted, insulted, persecuted and then forced to carry a cross before torturing it to death is FUN. No matter how badly you ridiculously biased haters wanted me to rip this game out of my system, break it into a zillion pieces and give it a “burial at sea” courtesy of my toilet, I overcame the odds.

But, this isn’t about me or my triumphant story of perseverance and bravery. This is about inFAMOUS, and how there is a lot of fun to be had zapping the shit out of bad guys and innocents alike, blowing crap up, gliding along power lines and somehow floating around in the fucking air occasionally, and pissing off Cole’s wet blanket girlfriend. If you had previously written off this game, give it a chance, with these caveats:

1. Play as an evil duder. Don’t mess around with trying to save all the idiot NPCs writhing around in pain and otherwise acting like despicable human turds. Instead, fry them! Fry them all!

2. Give it a try on “normal” difficulty. I’m not that great at shooters, and I rarely die playing as an evil Cole on normal. I heard a lot of complaints about the enemies being too accurate or Cole feeling underpowered, and I have to wonder if those fine folks were playing on a harder difficulty level, or whether they have opposable thumbs, for that matter.

I make no guarantees about the quality of the Sesame Street morality system, or that there will be no repetition in the types of side quests you’ll encounter. But, unlike Assassin’s Creed, most of the repetition involves fun things to do. Like frying the crap out of people.

Confession: I Never Beat Mike Tyson

I have a lot of skeletons in my gamer closet. For one, for many years I was more of a casual gamer. Not in respect to the games that I play, mind you. More in the respect of the amount of time I played games, which was somewhere between “zero” and “not nearly as much as now”. I never owned an SNES, never was a big fan of JRPGs (so I missed out on many games that most of you known inside and out), and generally played sports games. I think it’s a good idea to get it all out in the open, you know? Cleanse myself of gaming sins, if you will. So, every now and then, I’ll make a confession. Here goes.

I never beat Mike Tyson. In fact, I never even really got to him when I was a kid and Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out was actually a new game. Years later I made it to him, but I could never get past the opening uppercuts. Maybe once I did, but I didn’t last much longer than that.

I know, I know: when he flashes, dodge! Dodge! DODGE! But I can’t. I’m too twitchy. I get jumpy, and I’m dodging when he’s not doing anything in anticipation of him knocking my head off, and then he actually does punch, and I’m at the end of a dodge and get floored by a huge uppercut.

I like Punch-Out. I actually love it, it’s one of my favorite games of all time. That’s why my inability to beat Iron Mike stands out as such a glaring flaw on my already very flawed gaming resume. I enjoy beating Glass Joe’s ass, and beating the crap out of Von Kaiser, and knocking Bald Bull’s dick in the dirt, but the fun all comes to a halt when I face Tyson. Now, when I do play it, I feel like a man who is living a lie.

RIP Michael Jackson, Leave Your Molester Jokes in the Comments (le sigh)

Thanks for “Thriller”. Well, thanks for pretty much everything previous to “Bad”. You guys can rant all you want about molestation allegations and a crazy white dude with a skinny Skeletor nose and pet giraffe. Black Michael Jackson was the man, and he was somewhere inside that husk that passed away today. I would ask for a seven-day amnesty and ceasefire from little boy molesting jokes, but I know that’s not realistic.   read

3:45 PM on 06.02.2009

Regarding E3: When Games Aren't Enough

Ask any gamer, and they will tell you that the most important parts of the game industry are the games themselves. That should seem obvious enough, right? With a nod to the consoles and computers that allow us to enjoy them, this entire hobby and the multi-billion dollar industry that it provides are both all about the games.

So why is it that E3's press conferences no longer reflect this simple truth?

Each year, we expect to hear details and see footage of the most highly-anticipated games coming out in the year or so to come, and usually we do get a certain amount of that from the "big three". However, in recent years there has been a steady increase in the amount of emphasis on objects other than games during Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony's time on the stage, whether those objects are peripherals, controllers (or lack there of), or system redesigns.

The question is not only, "when did E3 become less about games and more about peripherals, system upgrades and technical innovations?" but also, "why do we not only condone this, but expect it?" Of course, as with any intriguing questions, there are multiple reasons and events which led to a less game-centric E3.'

First of all, you have the changes within E3 itself over the last couple of years. E3 famously went from being a sort of celebration among gamers who wanted to test out the best upcoming games to a press-only affair that was as much about graphs and sales figures as game demos and videos. Sure, E3 is trying to go back towards what it used to be, but in the meantime, a lot of the mentality behind the original changes remains. Only one of the three major console manufacturers was able to resist the use of sales statistics in their presentation, and even that company still spent a large amount of time talking about things other than the upcoming games themselves.

Also, you can't understate the impact of all of the gaming blogs and websites in all of this. It would simply seem underwhelming to have a press conference consisting of simply the same video game trailers and gameplay videos that we have already seen on gaming websites, anyway. While console manufacturers want to wait to reveal their own changes and innovations until E3, most third-party developers see no real reason to wait until E3 to announce upcoming games or release gameplay footage or trailers. This means that at E3, we are usually unlikely to get our first look at a new third-party game, especially at the press conference of one of the "big three".

However, we can't have a discussion about the decreased emphasis on games themselves at E3's press conferences without looking at perhaps the biggest reason behind the trend: the continued courtship of the ever-elusive "casual gamer". Since the Nintendo Wii and DS alike attracted never-before-seen numbers of folks who traditionally didn't play video games, all three companies have decided that it is in their best interest to implement new ways to not only keep the hardcore gamer interested, but also to attract legions of new gamers, albeit in sneaky ways that avoid the traditional stigmas surrounding video games (ie the overly-complicated controller, or the guy sitting almost lifelessly on his couch, with a trance-like stare towards the television).

Thus, this year the big news at E3 wasn't just the announcements of a new Metal Gear game for the Xbox 360, Final Fantasy XIV for the PS3 (when XIII isn't even out yet, gotta love that!), or some new Mario and Metroid action on the Wii, but also the addition of motion controls for the PS3, body and voice recognition for the Xbox 360, and ummm...a "vitality censor" for the Wii. Whether your reaction to the previous announcements was one of awe, being vaguely creeped out, or just shaking your head, it's undeniable that E3 has become center stage for the annual revealing of new and improved video game gadgetry...even at the expense of video games themselves, perhaps.

It's perhaps unsurprising, then, that we have begun to expect these types of announcements at each year's E3, as a sort of Pavlovian response. At this point, it would be more shocking if Microsoft didn't feature a British girl chatting up a creepy robot boy, or if Sony didn't announce yet another redesign of one of their systems. I'm still surprised that we aren't getting a SuperDuperElite Xbox 360, complete with limited addition Halo: Teabag graphics, to be honest. In other words, we can't blame it all on the companies themselves, because if Microsoft had unveiled Natal and Sony had just been like, "oh, here's some really cool games that are coming out", we'd be talking about how underwhelmed we were by their presentation, and wondering how they're going to counter Microsoft's new technology.

Still, at times it makes little sense to reveal some of these new items to this particular audience. Did anyone in attendance or watching via the internet really care about the Wii Vitality Censor? It's hard to think that the target audience for some of this stuff is the person sitting at home, watching the press conferences on G4. Most people who will be taking advantage of the new Wii Fit functionality probably don't even know what G4 is. Did any of us ever see the day when a company would even bother mentioning a Hannah Montana game during an E3 press conference?

For better or for worse, E3 isn't just about games anymore. In the big business of 21st century gaming, the games themselves are just one aspect of our favorite hobby, and the fascination with new gadgets, technology and Skynet-esque, I-Robot creepiness is now along for the ride. If you're lucky enough to be there in person, E3 is probably still seen as mostly a great chance to play and see the most anticipated games that the industry has to offer. For those of us stuck at home, living through the coverage of gaming blogs and the press conferences themselves, the focus has definitely shifted.   read

7:33 PM on 05.03.2009

Those About to Die: Every Character I've Controlled

As so many have pointed out over the last month, we're all guilty of being cold-blooded killers. However, I would propose that my crimes are even more demented than those of the majority. I would suggest that what I've done is even sicker than curb-stomping alien foes during battle, or recklessly smooshing an entire race of Goombas.

For gamers like myself, it's the character that I'm controlling that should be nervous. When I have the controller, nobody is safe, but the protagonist is probably in more danger than anyone else. This is because my questionable motor skills, lack of elite level reflexes and general ineptitude has led to the deaths of thousands of characters who trusted their lives to me.

Let me explain. It all started with the NES. During that generation, games were famously more difficult than they are today. Trial-and-error gameplay was not the exception, but the rule. You simply had to die a certain number of times while figuring out things such as enemy placement, how to time your jumps, or what items to use at what time.

At least, that's what I always told myself. Still, even after my brothers and friends had safely guided their characters past the dangerous obstacles and hideous monsters that presented themselves, I was still behind, leading my helpless minion into a never-ending hell of repeated deaths. Some of the greatest heroes in the history of video games were mistreated, tortured and put to death by my hand(s). I led Mario away from the safeness of solid ground and into pits which appeared to have no end. I recklessly forced his brother to jump into the menacing, sharp teeth of killer plants, when all he wanted was to collect some coins and help out a damsel in distress. There's no telling how many times I slaughtered the noble Simon Belmont, keeping him from saving the world from the evil Count Dracula.

Even when I was kept from doing great harm to my character or others, I still managed to make the lives of those who trusted me into a living hell. I quickly turned my garden of beautiful pinatas into a sort of black market, where I would force them into procreation and then sell their children, while answering all protests with a brutal swing of my trusty shovel. When I was allowed into the Sims' neighborhood, I quickly used my god-like abilities to bar Sims from going to the bathroom, forcing them to soil themselves and cry in shame. Or, even worse, I would seal them into an area with nothing but walls, quickly building a tomb in which they would spend their last frantic hours.

Then, there was the dark side of myself. When I found out about the (at the time) very gruesome and graphic ways that your character could die in The Immortal, I couldn't help myself. I led him to be eaten alive by giant worms, forced him into the paths of arrows, and stood idly by, refusing to help as his skin and organs were devoured by flesh-eating slime. Little did he know that I never had any intention of helping him to survive, and I just wanted to see him suffer in as many ways as possible.

I've done the same with many games over the years. Even when Leisure Suit Larry was just looking for love (in all the wrong places), I giggled with glee as I led him into a dark alley to be beaten to death, forced him to have unprotected sex with a hooker (knowing full well of the terrible diseases he'd contract), and threw him into the path of oncoming traffic. Long before I ever took Larry to meet Eve, the woman of his dreams, he had already endured countless deaths, including drowning in a bathroom stall when a clogged toilet filled the bathroom (and his lungs) with water.

As time went on, not a whole lot has changed. Oh sure, I managed to save Cyrodiil, and I led a team of heroes who stopped Gongora, as well. There have been other successes, to be sure. Still, the combination of my lack of top-notch skills and tendency towards the demented side of playing games has ensured that no character that is guided by my controller is safe.

Still, you should not judge! Even the most skilled among you has blood on your hands. The next time you think of death and killing in video games, don't just think of the monsters that you have slain or the evil that you have vanquished, but also the brave heroes that you betrayed; the ones who trusted you with their very lives. Surely, I am not alone in leading so many great men, women and creatures to their violent and untimely deaths.   read

10:01 AM on 01.04.2009

I hugged whoever told me what the Ron Workmeng hugs are all about...

...I must have missed something. What happened with Ron? And why was Heretic banned (more specific than "he was a dick" plz).

I'm not trolling, I swear.

I just thirst for knowledge.

*prepares to hug*   read

1:45 AM on 12.17.2008

What to Watch in Netflix Instant Queue? Try These... (NVGR)

If you are one of the Xbox 360 owners that have taken advantage of the streaming Netflix titles option that was added with the New Xbox Experience, it may be hard to separate the good titles from the crap. Hell, it may be hard to even find anything that looks remotely interesting, given the relatively limited selection of mostly obscure and older titles. However, if you take a look around, you might find some pretty good stuff. Here's my contribution to your Netflix viewing experience. If you saw anything that was awesome on Instant Queue, let me know and I'll give it a shot as well. Here are a few of the more memorable things I've watched so far that come to mind first:

Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense (1984)

I love 80's music (I should get a free pass here, since I actually *remember* the 80's, for the most part). That's why I gave this Talking Heads concert film a try. I'm a bit ashamed after watching this that I wasn't more aware of how completely and ridiculously awesome the Talking Heads were, as I was only really aware of a few hit songs and the fact that the lead singer was a nutball. Well, I was amused, entertained, confused, and rocked to the very core of my manhood by this kickass concert film. And you will be, too. Unless you're a girl- in which case, change "manhood" to "womanhood".

Why you'll like it-

Cause it's got great music, the antics of the band are highly entertaining and a little fruity, and the film itself (completed with footage from three shows) is widely cited as one of the best concert films ever. The choice to have David Byrne begin on stage by himself with just an acoustic guitar and cassette deck for "Psycho Killer" before adding a member (and parts of the set, which begins in disarray) for each subsequent song is pretty awesome.

But you might not like it if...'re not entertained by crazy stage antics, energetic bra-less backup singers, keyboard players who obviously were doing lines of coke, and a Big Suit (which is exactly what it sounds like). Oh, and if you hate the 80's and music from the decade.

Teeth (2006)

I suppose this could be loosely considered a horror flick, but if we're going to call torture porn "horror", what's the harm? Basically, lemme break it down for ya- a teenage girl has very sharp teeth in her happy area, which will promptly bite anything that doesn't belong down there. The synapsis kind of goes like this:

1. Girl is freaked out by sharp vag teeth, and swears off sex.
2. Unfortunate event happens to her, immediately followed by very unfortunate event happening to a stupid young man.
3. Girl slowly realizes the awesomeness of having vag teeth.
4. Hilarity ensues.

And no, those aren't spoilers, as this is all spelled out even in the movie description. This movie is not high-brow (should I even have to say that?), despite any kind of feminist overtones or messages about women's roles in conventional horror movies that lie beneath. However, it's a pretty fun movie and you won't forget it anytime soon.

Why you'll like it-

Because it's about a girl with sharp teeth in her vagina. Oh, and because the director (Mitchell Lichtenstein) and cast take full advantage of the disgusting yet hilarious awesomeness that can result from such a scenario. There is also some pretty bad (in an entertaining way) acting at parts, and it's got the kid from Nip/Tuck who ended up looking like Michael Jackson by the more recent seasons (though he looks slightly more normal here).

But you might not like it if... don't want anything to do with the events that might transpire when gerkin and toothed beaver collide.

Dead Man's Shoes (2004)

I happened upon this relatively recent British film and gave it a shot based upon the interesting premise. A soldier who is gone away to God Knows Where doing God Knows What comes back to find that his mentally challenged brother has been...treated not so nicely by some local ne'er-do-wells. What does big brother do? He kicks some ass.

Why you'll like it-

The premise is compelling (at least to me), the film has some great moments, and there's a good amount of bloody violence to fall back on if none of that works for you. The performances are pretty good, and you may find that the whole thing sticks with you for a little while. I'm very close with my brother, and though he's not mentally handicapped and has never been messed with by a gang of idiots, the storyline resonated with me.

But you might not like it if... aren't British and you absolutely demand to know what all the characters are saying all the time. (Yeah, crazy, I know) I was wishing that there was a captioning option available a few times, but maybe that's just me. I mean, I could even understand what the hell people were saying on "Deadwood", but I was lost a few times here.   read

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