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    When Spore came out last year, I think it's fair to say the reaction to the game was pretty meh compared to the hype.

    Personally, I enjoyed it as a creative sandbox for dicking around, but I can understand how some people who had been hoping for a more robust game experience may have felt cheated by the simplistic gameplay.

    The first expansion pack, Cute and Creepy, was basically just a bucket of Mister Potato Head parts. There were some neat additions, but nothing that really changed the way the game played.

    There was also a free patch that fixed some of the broken gameplay in the space stage, added new types of planets, and added exoskeleton limbs (yay?). Again, this was all well and good, but didn't really change the game in any significant way.

    Now comes Galactic Adventures, the first true expansion. Galactic Adventures adds all new missions to the space stage. For the first time it allows you to get out of your ship by beaming down to a planet so you can actually interact with the world. It looks like your creatures gets a jetpack or jump boots to get around, and you can outfit it with weapons that have different effects on enemies.

    But the coolest part of the expansion is that it includes a mission editor that allows you to create and share your own missions. Part of this is a planet editor that lets you edit entire planets and populate them with stuff from your Sporepedia. This has me pretty excited. I don't know if it will have the depth of Little Big Planet's editor (probably not), but it seems like it will be a lot of fun to play with.

    Is anyone else looking forward to this add-on? Did you have strong feelings one way or another about the original? Do you feel like this expansion is going to underdeliver?

    Check out the trailers below if you're curious what Galactic Adventures adds.

    Oh - If you want to trade penis monsters, my Spore ID is Secretcow. What's yours?

    Project Natal, Microsoft's motion-detecting controller-less interface, was one of the big stories coming out of this year's E3. I'm looking forward to seeing what developers can do with it, but I'm also pretty skeptical about the impact it will actually have on the Xbox 360, or gaming in general.

    The E3 promo video for Project Natal reminds me of Apple's Knowledge Navigator from 1987.

    In Apple's stark vision of the future, the day will come when each of us will own a "computer book" with our own tiny Bill Nye the Science Guy. Bill understands the context and nuance of casual conversation, and longs for our touch.

    Like Project Natal, there's a lots about the Apple video that immediately stinks of too good to be true. For instance, in the future our appliances can be as douchey as we are.

    Granted, a lot of the Knowledge Navigator functionality actually has come to pass through google, wikipedia, and newer information gizmos like Wolfram Alpha, but not in the form of a fussy little man in a bowtie who understands conversational English.

    Similarly I imagine we'll see a number of ideas from the Project Natal video developed on the Xbox 360, just not in the form we see in the video.

    What Didn't Wow Me

    The girls shopping via video conference is strange and awkward BS. It seems to suggest that Microsoft will have partnerships with online retailers that allow you to try out 3D versions of their clothes on a realistic 3D avatar of yourself, and allow you to do so collaboratively in a video chat.

    I don't see that actually happening. For one thing, I don't know what clothing retailer would want to sink time and money into an Xbox Live fashion marketplace. For another, it's a bizarre and artificial social experience. People go shopping together because it's something to do while hanging out. People don't video chat while shopping on and drop stuff into each others carts for the lulz of it.

    It seems like the mandate for the E3 video was "something for the whole family" and they needed some feature to fill the teenage daughter demographic. So they manufactured this world where teenage girls like to go on Xbox LIVE (gold) and put imaginary clothes on waxy rotating mannequins of themselves. It's like a Judy Jetson concept of what girls would like to do with technology.

    I don't buy it when the character speaks the player's name in the Kung Fu game or 1 vs. 100. I don't think text to speech is advanced enough yet, and there's no way you could cover every possible name with a voice actor.

    In terms of actual hardware functionality, I expect that the Natal camera will be, at best, an EyeToy with depth perception and greater fidelity.

    For some types of gameplay, like the Ricochet demo (basically Super Glove Ball but using the full body), an EyeToy with depth perception should be just fine.

    The paint splat demo is also something you could do with an EyeToy-like interface. Nothing revolutionary, but it could be fun to dick around with.

    I wonder what happens when your cat walks in front of the camera, or mom comes between you and the TV vacuuming. Does the game come to a halt and then need to re-calibrate? What if you do an unintended gesture like scratch your nose while miming the steering wheel. Does the car fly off the road and burst into flames?

    Milo & Molyneuxvian Promises

    In the Milo demo you can see that milo prompts the user to do a very specific gesture (putting on a mask) at a very specific time.

    I'm sure the system will be able to accommodate controlled situations like this very well. In this case pretty much any movement around your face at the right time could be interpreted as putting on a mask.

    But, If the player pretended to put on a mask at the wrong time, like when they're over by the tree, I doubt Milo would have interpreted it correctly. He probably would think she was being attacked by bees or may assume that she was being troubled by restless ghosts.

    I don't really believe the conversation that the woman has with Milo at the beginning of the video. His use of the name Claire, his very specific reaction to "thousands of people", it all feels scripted. That's fine to communicate the vision, but I don't expect it in the final product.

    Basic head tracking and facial recognition seem plausible. One of the more advanced features Milo is supposed to have is the ability to recognize the emotion in your face and reflect it back at you. I'm interested to see how accurate this ends up being in practice. What if you've just got a sour puss? Is Milo always in a bad mood?

    Players will probably forgive a lot of wonkiness in these interactions since they don't know what to expect. I suspect a lot of Milo's reactions to facial expression and tone of voice are just going to be wild guesses that are generic enough to cover just about any scenario.

    Notice how after the (scripted) conversation Milo changes the subject to catching fish and drawing in his journal. Nothing that he says after changing the subject is at all dependent on the first part of the demo.

    Later, the player shows Milo a drawing of fish. Milo's reaction to the drawing is to comment on the fact that it's orange - not the fact that it's a fish. If the user had drawn a smiling orange penis, I bet they would have gotten the same reaction.

    I don't think these limited interactions are necessarily a fault of the hardware. Rather I think its a credit to the designers' ability to maintain the illusion in spite of technical limitations.

    Ultimately I expect a lot of the the Natal experiences will come down to designing an experience that maintains the illusion of control without actually providing much.

    Rambles and Mutters

    When it comes to Natal design I imagine that coming up with systems to disregard unintended or confusing input will be just as important, if not more so, than coming up with systems to interpret what you're doing.

    If you're sitting on the couch with friends, the system needs to know how to disregard the non-player hands or to ignore someone reaching out in front of the player really quickly to grab the remote.

    The driving game made me think that Natal is going to have to be very forgiving in its gesture recognition. Just try miming a steering wheel. Odds are with nothing to hold your hands don't rotate in a nice clean circle. They also probably don't stay evenly spaced at ten o'clock and two o'clock. Natal would need to be pretty lenient in how it interprets the virtual wheel. This makes me wonder how precise it could actually be. Games will have to give credit for being "close enough" if games are going to be any fun.

    I expect Natal will be pretty good at at navigating the NXE dashboard. I wouldn't be surprised if the new dashboard was actually designed with Natal's swipe interface in mind.

    I also wouldn't be surprised if the buzzer system for 1 vs. 100 already exists in some form. Still, I wonder how good it will be at distinguishing between eight hands smooshed close together.

    While it's being billed as a controller-less system, I wouldn't be surprised if MS or third parties offered peripherals. Some might not have any functionality at all. For example a simple hoop of plastic you hold to make miming a steering wheel feel more natural (just like the Wii Wheel). Other's may have reflectors or color coding to help improve the fidelity of the motion detection. I doubt we'll see any Natal controllers with actual buttons or analog sticks, but I suppose it's possible.

    Shake Your Baby Maker

    Another minor gripe is the name. The word natal is pretty common. For me it conjures up images of floating fetuses, ultrasound jelly, outie belly buttons popping out of veiny stretched abdomens, water breaking all over the gym at the prom, and premature flipper babies baking in incubators.

    I realize it is pronounced Nah-Tahll, like first part of Natalia, But unless you've heard someone explain it that way, I think alot of Americans would pronounce it Nay-Tuhl.

    Yeah, I know that "Wii" had similar pronunciation confusion and associations with bodily function when it was first announced, but I think this is worse. When I hear, "Microsoft's Project Natal" I think of a clumsy robotic nursemaid who crashes to a blue screen of death or red rings as it's reaching into the soggy vulvoid chamber of secrets.

    I suggest pronouncing it Project Gnat-Uhl, in honor of Natalie Portman. Here is a music video from a band called Natalie Portman's shaved head. It features Shamu, the world's deadliest friendliest sea mammal.

    natalie portman's shaved head - sophisticated side ponytail from thatgo on Vimeo.


    Ultimately I expect that Project Natal will provide fun new game experiences. It will probably extend the life cycle of the Xbox 360 a bit, which is a good thing. I expect that like the Wii there will be some very well designed games that do a great job of working with the system's limitations to deliver a great illusion of control. I also expect there will be a lot of crap that overreaches, trying to force the system to do more than it's capable of. And then there will be the Eye-Toy, In The Movies, style mini-games that lend themselves well to minimal controls.

    In any event, I welcome Project Natalie Portman without expecting much more from it than some neat shit.

    What do you expect from Project Natal? Have you seen anything in the previews that really gets you psyched or makes you super nervous?

    Final Fantasy IV: The After Years - Rydia's Tale
    WiiWare Add-On - 300 Wii Points

    Rydia's Tale is an a DLC add on for Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. It requires The After Years main story in order to play. You can download it from within The After Years main menu.

    In Final Fantasy IV Rydia was the last of the summoners of Mist, a village that was destroyed by Baron. Needless to say, she goes through a lot in that story. You can read about one of the most memorable events in FFIV in this edition of The Memory Card.

    Rydia's Tale begins when Rydia returns to the Feymarch (the land of summoned monsters) to check on the King and Queen of the Eidolons. They banish her from their chamber, and and she finds all the monsters of the Feymarch have been petrified by some unknown force.

    It turns out that one of the Eidolon's had a hot date lined up, so naturally it falls to Rydia to save the day and get him some hot Eidolon action.

    This expansion takes place at the same time as the events in the Main Story of The After Years. The adventure takes you to the Underworld and reunites Rydia with Luca, the young Dwarven Princess from Final Fantasy IV.

    Luca is all grown up now, and wants to be a master engineer like Cid. While the expansion is called Rydia's Tale, Luca is actually the more developed character. This suited me just fine, as she's a very likable character and her story fit nicely within the scope of the story.

    Since she's a mechanical whiz, Luca has whipped up two automatons who join you in your quest, Brina and Claca. Neither character speaks, but like the weighted companion cube you find yourself invested in both of them as you go through the adventure.

    Brina is a dancing doll. She may be the star of Joss Wheedon's latest TV show. I don't know, I haven't seen it. But, since it's a possibility, let's just say that she is.

    When she dances, it confers a random benefit on the party. In many cases it's not the benefit you were hoping for. For example, she loves to resurrect the living or dispel non-existent status ailments.

    In this respect she is a bit like aunt Clara. She means well, but she's a bit scatter brained. Did you know that Aunt Clara and Aunt Hagatha are different people? I didn't.

    Brina has a brother, Calca. The word Calca sounds like a calcium supplement that Aunt Clara might take to repair her aging hip. Aunt Clara is almost certainly dead by now, so I feel really bad about saying that.

    Let's change the subject back to Calca and his remarkable super power.

    Calca has the ability to Jive! This is a lively and uninhibited variation of the jitterbug, and also a manner of speaking often employed by turkeys.

    As with Brina's dance, most of the Jive effects are totally ineffective. Since he's actually a pretty good fighter, It doesn't make a lot of sense to waste his turn jiving instead of attacking.

    Brina and Calca on their own are both decent characters, but it is by their power combined that you get to see their coolest ability.

    Calca and Brina can band together to form a soulless killer baby doll! It does decent damage, but it's real charm comes from the fact that the two of them have to dance into one another to form the monster doll - like a Busby Berkeley Baby Voltron.

    Like the main story, the bulk of Rydia's tale is a dungeon crawl. But I found the balance of characters in this expansion more interesting than in the main story. This made the the dungeon crawling feel a bit less sloggy.

    Rydia and Luca's abilities are both quite different from one another, unlike Ceodore and the hooded man from the main game who were both essentially fighters. Calca and Brina fall outside of the usual FF class system, making them an interesting addition to the mix. Though Brina can restore health with her dance ability, there is no dedicated white mage in the group. This makes healing items, especially phoenix down, more valuable.

    Since the party is a bit more diverse, the phases of the moon have a bit more impact here than they did in the main story. Still, it doesn't feel like this expansion fully explores this feature's potential.

    Two characters can combine abilities in this expansion, just as they could in the main story. Fewer characters cycle in and out of the party in the expansion to try this with, but the roster has at least two band attacks that are useful throughout the game.

    Despite this being Rydia's Tale, don't expect to do much summoning. All the main Eidolon's are petrified, and therefore unavailable.

    The story in Rydia's tale is more self contained than the main story, and this is a good thing. Overall it's more coherent and diverse, and the ending feels like the legitimate end of an episode rather than a tease.

    Rydia's Tale also includes at least one side quest (of sorts) and one optional dungeon. Most importantly, it lets you fly an airship. These things add up to a much greater sense of freedom than you get from the main story.

    Don't expect any of your characters or items from the main story to carry over into Rydia's Tale. They don't. But it does seem like the save you create at the end of each story will eventually be used for... something.

    In total, Rydia's Tale is about three hours long. Your mileage may vary, but expect to pay about $1 per hour for this expansion.

    I know paid DLC rubs a lot of people the wrong way. If you want to make a value for money case, you could argue that a new 12 hour retail game costing $60 comes to $5 per hour, so Rydia's Tale is actually a pretty good deal for your entertainment dollar.

    The same caveats from the main story apply to Rydia's tale. If you have a problem with old-school J-RPG design, grinding, linearity, etc. Then this probably isn't the game for you.

    If you've played through The After Years and enjoyed it, I'd say that Rydia's tale is more satisfying than the main story in many respects and well worth your three hours and three dollars.

    Final Fantasy IV: The After Years - Main Story
    WiiWare - 800 Wii Points

    This review is pretty much spoiler-free as far as story content goes, but there is some discussion of characters and how the game ends. Not what happens at the end, rather how it fits into the game's DLC structure.

    Square Enix gets back to basics with Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, a direct sequel to 1991's Final Fantasy IV for the Super Nintendo. (For the white devils, this was game was known as Final Fantasy II on the SNES.)

    Unlike the recent sequel Final Fantasy X-2 which continued the story of Final Fantasy X but took the characters, the story, and the combat in a new direction, The After Years is about as pure as sequels get. Like Mega Man 9, it is faithful not only to the gameplay of the original but to the audio/visual style as well. The sprites, the world, the music, the interface, all of it will be like coming home for long-time Final Fantasy fans.

    There are a few new faces in the cast, some minor rearrangement of the dungeons, but from the opening theme until the final credits the whole experience feels totally grounded in the world of Final Fantasy IV.

    This familiarity provides a great rush of nostalgia, but at times it feels like you're backtracking through environments and scenarios you already played 18 years ago.

    Odds are if you remember a secret treasure chest from the original, it's unmoved in The After Years. If you remember an enemy's weakness from the original it's the same in The After Years. If you remember endlessly grinding in the original... well, you'll be doing that in The After Years too.

    Regarding grinding, you don't need to power level to make progress through The After Years. But, you will find that random encounters are extremely frequent. Sometimes it feels like you have to fight a hedgehog every few steps. This was frustrating in 1991, and even more so now that many games - Square Enix games included - have moved beyond this mechanic.

    Making the frequent random encounters even more frustrating is the fact that few, if any, require any real strategy. For most fights just press the "A" button about 20 times and wait for the victory fanfare, heal up after the battle, and repeat.

    For the majority of The After Years you'll be playing as a party of two characters, Ceodore - a Palaidn type - and "The Hooded Man" - a straight fighter. Ceodore has some white magic for healing, and an ability similar to Terra's "Morph" from Final Fatnasy VI which gives him a decent stat boost though eventually costing HP.

    But this is a class based game, and for all intents and purposes both Ceodore and The Hooded Man are fighters. That means you'll be pressing the Attack button... a lot.

    The After Years introduces two new systems to Final Fantasy IV, the Band system and the phases of the moon.

    Both are very cool in theory, but never really live up to their potential in the main story.

    The Band system allows two characters to combine attacks, similar to Chrono Trigger. The catch is that the two characters have to share a bond, and most band attacks have to be discovered through trial and error.

    The band attacks are neat, but since you spend most of the game as Ceodore and the Hooded man, you don't have a lot of opportunities to take advantage of the system.

    The phases of the moon adds a time-based element to the game. The moon has four phases, waxing, full, waning, and new. The phase of the moon modifies character abilities. For example, during a full moon weapons are half as effective, but black magic is twice as effective.

    The phases of the moon shift over time, or whenever you use a tent or stay at an inn.

    This does add an interesting choice when you're exploring a dungeon. When you reach a save point you need to choose whether to use a tent and change the phase of the moon, or save and move on without the HP & MP boost from the tent to keep the moon as is.

    The phase system seems like an interesting way to complement the class system, since you can't customize character abilities If you had a diverse party of characters, it would shift the emphasis to different classes at different times. But as I mentioned earlier, for most of the game you only have two fighters. So ultimately the phases don't affect your strategy very much.

    The main story isn't very long by final fantasy standards. Probably between 4 - 6 hours, depending on how you much grinding you do. It is also extremely linear. Don't expect to find side quests or much exploration off the beaten path.

    For fans familiar with Final Fantasy IV this linearity will feel pretty familiar. The original didn't open up until after you got the airship. Just be aware that in The After Years the main story never opens up to allow for exploration.

    The quality of the story and its presentation isn't quite up to the standard set by the original. In general the pacing feels off and the scenes can be confusing and disjointed.

    The emotional impact of the story relies heavily on your familiarity with FFIV. If you haven't played the original or the DS remake, I would expect The After Years' story to be somewhat confusing, if not outright frustrating.

    Unlike FFIV, you aren't immediately pulled into the characters and the crisis. Ceodore and Biggs just don't compare to Cecil and Kain.

    In some ways the story feels like fan fiction. All the elements of Final Fantasy IV are there, but they're missing the artistry that brought the source material to life in a compelling way.

    That's not to say it's all bad. There is a fantastic set-piece near the beginning that reunites several familiar characters and promises a better story than the one it ultimately delivers.

    The climax is fantastic for a FFIV fan, but unfortunately the story ends on a cliffhanger right right when it's about to get interesting.

    To me the ending felt abrupt, and cheap. I felt like I had been primed for a more robust experience, and it cut out just when I was starting to feel hooked.

    Obviously this is by design. The story continues through various DLC "stories" that you can download. As of today one is available, "Rydia's Tale" for 300 Wii Points.

    At the end of the Main Story you are able to make a save file that will carry your levels, items, etc. over into the DLC stories.

    So effectively what we have here is an episodic Final Fantasy game.

    Personally I'm not opposed to DLC or episodic content, but I'm not sure that it's the format I want to play a Final Fantasy game in. It makes me wonder if the game will ever open up and provide side quests and optional character development, or if instead each pay-to-download Tale is essentially a side quest.

    It makes reviewing the main story difficult. As a stand-alone experience, it's ripe with potential but skimpy on payoff. It promises a very cool story, some innovative combat mechanics, and a robust full featured sequel in the style of Final Fantasy IV. But it doesn't fully deliver on any of that.

    If you are a fan of the original and you're willing to stick with The After Years for the long haul, I would recommend downloading the main story and sticking with tales to see how the story develops. The main story is 800 Wii Points.

    But if you're turned off by retro J-RPG sensibilities and you don't have a lot of affection for the original story, I suspect this game is not for you. I'd suggest picking up the FFIV remake for the DS and giving it a whirl. If you like it, then by all means download The After Years.

    A score? Hmmm....

    Main Story Stand Alone Experience: 6 - A few moments of greatness bookend a lot of old-school grinding. Neat systems are introduced, but don't really deliver. Story ends just as it gets started.

    Main Story + Tales (Potentially): 7 - 8 - Tales could flesh out a more complete sequel and build on the new mechanics in interesting ways.

    Final Fantasy IV Fan Spin: +1 - If you love Final Fantasy IV this is a homecoming that will warm your cold dead heart. You'll overlook a lot of the flaws for a chance to spend time with old friends.

    The Resistance Band

    When you open the box for EA Sports Active, there is a package containing a long thin strip of rubber that smells sort of like After Eight dinner mints and also kind of like a trip to the dentist.

    You would not be wrong to attach this thing to the end of a stick and spin it around. Doing so would surely look pretty and might make you feel better about life.

    This curious red visitor from Redwood Shores is known as the Resistance Band. It may look like a simple fruit roll-up, but in truth it is the killer at the heart of the app.

    Let's face it, even with the best intentions one will eventually give up on EA Sports Active. When that day comes you've still got this... thing in your life. So I was wondering if there may be any other uses for the resistance band.

    As it turns out, it can be used to fashion a number of useful disguises. Please join in me in examining just some of the possibilities:

    Job Interview Necktie

    Oh crap, the President has just appointed you to the Supreme Court totally out of nowhere. Awesome, right? Not so fast. You don't have a necktie for the confirmation hearing. Bummer, I guess that means no Supreme Court for you.

    But wait! You own a Nintendo Wii! And you are self-concious enough about your body to have purchased EA Sports Active! You are good to go my friend.

    A simple windsor knot and you're all set for a date with Dick Durbin. You can leave the altoids at home. You'll already smell strangely minty.

    When the committee asks you about your stance on the evils of the video game industry you can point to your rippling abs and your handsome necktie as examples of the good that video games can do! Way to go.

    Solid Snake Headband

    Oh crap, Colonel Campbell is on the codec and he wants you to take on one last mission to rid the world of giant nuclear robots.

    Never mind that you're old and cranky and you'd rather be watching Matlock, you don't have anything to wear!

    But wait, the center recently bought a Wii for its bowling tournaments and they've also got a copy of EA Sports Active.

    After slipping Agnes a mickey you're able to abscond with the resistance band. It not only makes you look awesome during your mission, it also gives you infinite ammo somehow! Way to go.

    Biplane Pilot Scarf

    Oh crap, it's a telegram from Amelia Earhart. She wants to rendezvous Paris so you can eat some smooshy cheese with her and the martians.

    That's would be so great. But you lost your lucky piloting scarf in a game of strip poker with the ghost of Howard Hughes.

    It's been a weird week. But lucky for you, you won a gold Nintendo Wii and a copy of EA Sports Active from Queen Elizabeth. The resistance band makes a jaunty scarf, and you're able to embark on your transatlantic journey! Way to go. Say hi to the martian for me.

    Beauty Pageant Sash

    Oh crap, it's a carrier pigeon from Donald Trump. He wants you to represent tambourines in an upcoming beauty pageant at Flynt Publications.

    This is your chance to make some tambourines very proud. But you haven't got a sash, and The Donald isn't about to provide you with one. He's keeping all of his sashes in his secret sash stash.

    Have no fear. Your beauty regime consists of daily workouts on the Nintendo Wii with EA Sports Active. The resistance band makes a perfect sash. Just keep it away from Mr. Trump, as he is liable to burgle it. Way to go.

    Kindly Babooshka Head Thing

    Oh crap, it is Aleksandr Soljenitsin with a message from Mother Russia. They are running dangerously low on babooshkas, and they need you to help!

    You'd love to get on a steamship bound for Siberia and start pickling things, but there's just one problem... you are missing an authentic babooshka head thing. Without one, you will not be permitted into the secret lair.

    Fortunately your colorful cousin Roman has stolen for you a Nintendo Wii entertainment machine and the EA Sports Active. This game includes a big American head thing, which you can put to good use on your melon. Way to go.

    Great Tiger Turban

    Ouch! You've just been hit by a spinning newspaper from Doc Lewis. It turns out that India has lost its Great Tiger to feline leukemia. I hate Mondays.

    You'd love to replace him, but you don't have a stylin' turban. Give Up? Retire?

    Not on your life buster brown. You've been training with EA Sports Active hoping to be less of a pussycat and more of tiger. You'll find that resistance band makes a mighty fine turban. Now you're playing with power! Way to go.

    (Note: Turban style may be more Miss Cleo than Great Tiger. Your results may vary.)

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Mask

    Oh crap, the turtle communicator is beeping. It's April O'Neil of Channel Six news! She's been kidnapped by a creep known as "The Shredder".

    No doubt horrible things are being done to her body that will soon end up illustrated in the more prominent Furry communities. You wish you could help, but alas you're not a turtle.

    Or are you? You've been practicing the Ninja Arts (along with alternating side lunges) with EA Sports Active. By tying the resistance band across your eyes you undergo a remarkable transformation, becoming a mutant turtle!

    This is certainly more than enough to qualify you to battle the forces of evil. You storm the technodrome in hopes of recovering the intrepid reporter before her virtue is irreparably tarnished by Krang's tuning fork! Way to go.

    Dental Dam

    Oh crap, you've got a hot date with a discount courtesan and you are uncertain as to how many sexually transmitted infections are bubbling around in her rickety frame.

    You desperately want to subject her to the five forbidden linguses (lingui?), but you left your dental dam in your other pair of capri pants.

    You are unable to find a midnight dentist to help you out. But you are able to find EA Sports Active for the Nintendo Wii Entertainment system. After playing a rousing Carnival Game with your would-be paramour, you find that the resistance band is the perfect Prophylaxis.

    You engage in an evening of unholy congress, safe in the knowledge that your mouth is free from new diseases. And it even tastes kind of minty too. What a bonus. Way to go.

    That's the Resistance Band!

    As you can see the resistance band provides endless fun. None of which are even video game related. And this is only scratching the surface of possibilities such as disguises and marital aids.

    What would you use the resistance band for? Any suggestions? Can you think of a funny pun for "Resistance Band" and "Resistance Fall of Man"? I sure couldn't. I thought maybe the Chimera playing Rock Band would be cute. But it's kind of not.

    It took a lot of begging and stretching the truth to get my dad to buy a copy of The Legend of Zelda. I was finally able to convince him by claiming that it was an educational game. I said that you had to do math to progress through it.

    Rupees are subtracted when you burn down people's doors. Subtraction is a math. So in the end, I told no lies.

    We picked up Zelda at a K-Mart. On the way home we had to stop off at my dad's office. This was torture. I needed to experience the game immediately, even if I couldn't actually play it.

    I stayed in the car while he went into the office so I could root around in the K-Mart bag. I found Zelda, tore open the box, savored the new game pak smell and beheld a thing of beauty!

    A golden cartridge.

    I had caught a glimpse of it through the crotchless peek-a-boo hole in the box. But here it was, naked and yielding in my sweaty hands.

    I was really very sweaty. It was hot outside, and I was in the car with the windows rolled up. It was hot enough to fry an egg. Hot enough to fry a dog's brain! But I couldn't risk rolling down the window lest anyone snatch away my precious.

    I read the instruction manual several dozen times and inserted the golden cartridge anywhere and everywhere it would fit. This left me sore and whimpering, but it took the edge off.

    When my father came back to the car I was drenched in sweat, covered in cartridge shaped indentations, and deep in a Zelda frenzy. I had to stick my golden treasure into an NES as soon as possible. I didn't even notice the heat anymore. Like Scrooge McDuck, I was in the final stages of Gold Fever.

    To commemorate the glorious golden game pak, I've taken the liberty of gathering some other golden goodies below. May they please the eye and the ear of your face.

    Golden Crisp

    Sugar Bear is a pimp. If you need evidence of this, you can watch the video below. Witness how he handles a swamp monster by turning his embarrassingly false teeth against him. This is similar to how George Washington was assassinated by the Cookie Crook.

    Solid Gold

    It's hard to find a show that can contain the talents of Hall & Oates, Culture Club, Wayland Flowers & Madame, The Pretenders, and Tracy Ullman without collapsing in on itself and killing everyone involved. But somehow Solid Gold was able to do it! This opening sequence feels like it's made out of the Trapper Keeper folders that they gave out in heaven to the children fortunate enough to die in 1984. (Is that an N64 model of David Byrne?)


    Skanks like to drink it. It doesn't taste very good. But it makes your poo valuable. In the current economy, this may be a sound investment strategy.

    The Golden Girls

    I would like to play a point and click adventure game based on the Golden Girls. It could be like Maniac Mansion. Each girl would have her own power. Blanche wields weird sex appeal. Rose charms the animals. Dorothy carries a club. And Sophia fits inside air ducts or suitcases. By combining their powers to solve puzzles they eventually defeat Stan Zbornack and Mel Bushman all while staying cuter than intrauterine.

    Goldie Hawn

    Why hasn't there been a video game adaptation of Private Benjamin? Did you know that in Sweden all of the Goldie Hawn movies are part of "The Girl Who..." series? It's true! For instance Overboard is called: "The Girl Who Fell Overboard" and Private Benjamin is: "The Girl Who Joined the Military".

    I don't know if they called Bird On A Wire "The Girl Who Made a Bad Career Decision", or Death Becomes Her "The Girl Who Survived Losing Most of her Torso due to a Shotgun Injury Inflicted by Meryl Streep." I hope they didn't, because neither title is very good. Goldie deserves better.


    Goldilocks is a story so timeless and well constructed that you can tell it with felt. I would like to see this lady tell Anna Karenina on her felt board. Put on your good looking eyes before viewing the video below.


    This movie includes Pussy Galore and a deadly bowler hat. On their own these two facts would cement it in film history. But perhaps its greatest accomplishment is the unforgettable theme song sung by Shirley Bassey. If you enjoy women made out of gold who have spinning license plates in the place where their mouths should be, this video is for you!

    Little Golden Books

    Much of my youth was spent gnawing on Little Golden Books. Bugs Bunny's Carrot Machine was my personal favorite. The golden binding conceals many mysteries, including: bunnies, bees, chickens, and gummi bears. If you stare at it long enough you may see your own future.

    Tracey Gold

    Tracey Gold played bookish fussbudget Carol Seaver on Growing Pains. It must have been cold there in Mike's shadow. She was Lisa Simpson before there was a Lisa Simpson. Or perhaps less charitably, Meg before there was Meg. Unrelated fun-fact: Growing Pains also featured a character named Boner.

    The Gold Standard

    At one point in time paper money represented an actual lump of gold kept in a box somewhere in the world. You could take your paper money to a gnome and demand your gold. He would refuse to give it to you. This arrangement suited both parties until the gnomish wars of ought nine. You can see it all explained below. If you stick with the video, there is a cartoon!

    The Golden Gate Bridge

    The most destroyed bridge in movie history is actually pretty pretty in real life (IRL!). Pretty pretty is what the black queen calls Barbarella upon their first meeting. Watch the Golden Gate Bridge wiggle and dance below.

    In Conclusion!

    We have reached the end of our voyage of all things Gold. Or have we? What is your favorite golden thing? Do you have any golden video game memories? If there is anything I left out? Please, shower me in gold!

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