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I have been playing videogames my whole life. The first system I ever played was the ColecoVision. The first game I can remember playing was Pitfall. They have flash based games made by elementary school kids that look and play better than Pitfall these days but back in the day that game rocked.

I enjoy First Person Shooters, Adventure Games, and RPGs mostly.

My favorite games include:

Chrono Trigger
EarthBound
Kings Quest VI
Final Fantast VII
ToeJam and Earl
Quest for Glory IV



Games I am Currently Playing:

Condemned 2 (Completed on Hard)
Devil May Cry 4
Lost: Via Domus (Completed)
Lost Odyssey (Lvl 32/Disc 3)
Call of Duty 4 (Completed)(Rented and Returned)
Bioshock (Completed)
MOH Airborne (Completed)






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In a recent article on Yahoo! Games, they mention a study that found that competitive arenas like sports and video games that split teams by color, like Halo 3, have an interesting effect.


"Published in the Cyberpsychology & Behavior journal, the study tracked nearly 1500 matches in the popular first-person game, Unreal Tournament 2004. Like most online first-person shooters -- including industry-leader Halo 3 -- the game splits players into two opposing teams, one red, one blue. There are no functional differences between the two other than hue, leading most to assume that neither team would have any sort of unfair advantage over the other.

Not so fast. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark found that the red team won 55% of the matches.

Rather than chalking that up to dumb luck, the scientists behind the study believe it has more to do with the inherent qualities of red as a psychological distractor and a natural signal of male dominance, a thought echoed in a 2005 study linking the color to enhanced performance in real-life sports."
Yahoo! Games.


What do you think? Do you think that being red gives you an advantage? Granted the curve is only 5%, but its interesting none the least.

What about World of Warcraft... For the Horde?
Photo Photo







Soulhammer
10:56 AM on 06.06.2008

This has been a crappy week for me so far. It started Tuesday morning when I woke to the realization that someone had decided that they couldn’t afford to be lost another minute and had to resort to smashing in my passenger side window so they could abscond with my portable GPS. If you take a look at the pictures below you will notice that the thief stole the GPS but didn’t steal my satellite radio. Why? I don't know.







Now I know it’s not the smartest thing to leave stuff like that out and visible to the public, it just tempts the people with a mind to steal. I do live in a gated community which may have given me a false sense of security but what’s done is done. What sucks the most is that with my car insurance I have a high deductible, so nothing is going to be covered by my insurance. It is all a total loss for me.

On a positive note, well not really as positive as it is cool and random, I recently purchased Rock Band and after getting a few achievements and realized that my score had hit the Jackpot!!



Anyways, hopefully this weekend will be fun and uneventful as far as thieving goes.

Keep on gaming.

[/Soulhammer]
Photo Photo Photo








I should have listened to BlindSideDork.

While what I am about to write about can apply to any move genre, the incident that occurred this weekend happened during a horror movie, which IMO compounds the frustration. Why? Good question. Horror movies are all about sound. A scary movie ceases to be scary once you turn off the sound. So when I watch scary movies, and any movie for that matter, I am silent, with exceptions for laughing during comedies and things like that. What I don’t do, is talk to the screen, ask questions of my fellow viewers or the movie, or laugh during horror movies. So, if a movie is designed to revolve around the sounds of the movie, things become very frustrating when I can’t hear what the hell is going on, simply because you refuse to shut your mouth. Are you simply incapable or being quiet for 2 hours? Seems simple enough to me.



When I watch movies, I try to totally lose myself in the movie, I enjoy it better that way. I don't want to spend 11 bucks and hear a rolling commentary on why you don't like the movie, how you love your lovey-dovey-schmoopie-woopie so much, etc. Amazingly, I actually want to see and hear the movie. Weird, huh?




Let me set the scene:

Its Saturday night, you are hanging with a friend of yours and you both decide to go to the local movie theater to see the new horror flick. You purchase your tickets online so to avoid the lines and in case it may be sold out. You leave to go to the theater, park and go inside. Upon arrival you learn that the movie is indeed sold out, but lucky you, you already have the tickets. You enter the theater, which is full, find some seats and sit down to enjoy the movie.

A few minutes into the movie you realized you are seated in front of a group of teenage girls, who apparently do not understand that you are able to hear everything they say, which happens to be a lot. You try and think of a way to be polite and ask them to keep their voices down and tell them you cant hear the movie with them talking all the time, but after a separate patron of the theater asks them to “Shut the hell up” they just talk more and louder, just to spite the other people.

What is wrong with these people? What can you do?


You have a few options at this point.

1: Ignore them
The worst of all the options cause it doesn’t solve anything.

2: Ask them to be quiet
One of two things will happen, either they will be quiet for a few minutes and eventually get loud again, or they will be immature and start talking louder and possibly even start kicking your chair or throwing popcorn at you. (Worst Case Scenario)

3: Get up and go ask an employee to deal with the disruptive people.
The problem with this is that when you do so, you miss part of the movie you paid ten bucks to see, also once an usher comes to see the problem they have to witness the offense before they do anything, and the people will know what’s up and stop talking while the usher is there to avoid getting thrown out.

All of these options suck. I don’t even understand why people are this way in the first place. What compels you to talk during a movie? I am going to use a few examples from the movie I saw over the weekend, no spoilers I promise.

There is a part during the movie “The Strangers” where there is a knock at the door, a very loud forceful knock. A bang, if you will.

Annoying Person 1: “ OOOO girl don’t you answer that!! No… no… man your stupid.. you don’t do that!!”

Annoying Person 2: “Who is knocking at the door?”

Annoying Person 3: “It’s the crazy people”

Annoying Person 2: “What crazy people?”


@ AP1: Who is the actress playing the female role? Liv Tyler.. really? Ok well that means its not you so SHUT THE FUCK UP!!. Did you direct or write the movie? No? Ok then SHUT THE FUCK UP!!

@AP2: Do you really think the movie is going to have someone knock on the door and then not explain what the hell is going on? This is the same annoying person who asks “Why did he do that?” Why don’t you watch the god damn movie and you will figure it out, k??

@AP3: STFU, simple, you’re adding fuel to the fire by answering your idiot friends idiot questions, idiot



Also, why do people laugh after something scary happens in horror movies? You see the actor walk to the window, open the shades… BOOOOM there is the crazed maniac with the mask and the movie blasts the scary sounds and the whole theater screams. What happens next.. everyone laughs??? Why? Did something funny just happen that I fucking missed? No. For some reason people need to mask their own fear with laughter and it ruins the fucking mood. Even when things that are not as intense as that, something simple happens, people still laugh? WHY? Here is an example from The Strangers:

Early in the movie there is a knock at the door. The main character, James, goes to the door and answers it. It is like 4 in the morning so it is dark outside. James opens the door, and the porch light is not working, so all he can see is the silhouette of the girl standing at the front door. The next few moments is all silence, the girl at the door just stands there. James asks what she wants, and she says nothing. Eventually after some uncomfortable silence, she speaks in the creepy voice “Is Tamara Home?” The whole dam crowd roars into laughter.. why? That wasn’t funny nor was it meant to be. It was meant to be creepy and strange. You laughing ruins the mood the movie is trying to set so SHUT THE FUCK UP!! K? I can understand laughing at things that fail at its attempt to be scary, but this time wasn’t one of those times. But then again, that is subjective so whatever.

Why can’t the studios just release movies to the public thru ways like Comcast On Demand or PPV or Direct TV at the same time they release them to theaters. Just have the money spent on viewing them at home go to the same place as it would at the theater and problem solved. Maybe movie theaters would go out of business, but after this weekend I wouldn’t care.

I have heard about places in California called Arclight, which is a more high end movie theater with seat reservations and a 21 age limit. Does anyone know if there is anything like that in the DC/VA/MD area?

I should have taken BlindSideDorks advice and not gone to the movies during a night showing on an opening weekend. All this being said, The Stranger was a really good movie, and I think BlindsideDork needs to go rewatch The Descent.

Sorry for the long rant but I have been pissed off since Saturday and felt something needed to be said. For those of you who are polite and mature when you go to the movies, I thank you. To the rest of you, die in a fire. K?

Top 10 Rules of Watching Movies at the Theater:

10. Fill in available seats. If the theater is packed and you know people are gonna be looking for the last few remaining seats, move down and take up the seat between you and people next to you. It may make you feel awkward to be so close to other human contact, but I don’t want to have to sit in a different section from my friends because you have people issues.

9. Turn off your cell phones. Don’t put them on vibrate, because that means that if it rings you plan on answering it. See next rule

8. Don’t text or talk on your phone during movies. Simple.

7. Go to the bathroom before the movie. I don’t want to have to keep getting up so you can walk past me to get to the restroom. Make a pit stop after hitting the concessions. We are all grown enough to be potty trained right?

6. The seat in front of you is not a foot rest. Unless the seat in front of you is unoccupied, don’t rest your feet on them. I don’t care if you think your not moving, you are and if you want to be able to walk back home, I’d put your dam feet down.

5. Don’t bring your baby to the movies. I don’t care if you are going to have to get a baby sitter. The baby is going to get nothing out of watching the movie and it is impossible for a baby to stay quite for 2 hours especially with the loud theater noises

4. Leave the pillow talk where it belongs, in the bedroom. I didn’t just pay $11 bucks to hear you whisper things in your boyfriends’ ear like a two dollar hooker ok?

3. Eat before you come to the movies. I know that theaters offer concessions, and candy and popcorn is fine. What I hate is when someone sits next to me with a 5 course meal of nachos, a hotdog, a pretzel, crunchy candy and a 5 gallon tub of popcorn. I don’t need to hear you eat all that or complain the entire time about how you don’t have enough room to put all your food. This isn’t a restaurant got it?

2. Find a seat and sit down. Don’t stand around by the front of the theater and wait for your friends. Find a seat and get out of my way, you make a better door then a window.

1. Shut the fuck up. Simple. Don’t talk, don’t ask questions, don’t comment on how you wouldn’t be as stupid as the character in the movie, don’t constantly tell the people next to you what just happened as if they weren’t sitting right next to you watching it. Watch the movie and shut up.


Thanks for reading.
Soulhammer








When I first read about this months musing, I was excited to have a chance to express how I thought some of my favorite games could be improved. Then after a bit of thinking about the topic I realized that it wasnt going to be as easy as I thought it would be. First, I needed to decide which game I was going to talk about. I wanted to pick a game that I actually loved, not just a great game, but one I have fond memories of, one I spent a significant amount of time playing and enjoying. The first two that immediately came to me where Chrono Trigger and Earthbound, these two masterpieces where the games that defined my childhood gaming experience. I decided that Earthbound was my most loved game, and so I would look long and hard at how I feel it could be improved.



Easier said then done. I started to think Who am I to change someone elses vision? When a game is developed, or any type of art for that matter, the finished product tends to be a culmination of efforts brought together to realize a vision. If I start making demands on how the art should be changed, then what was the point of the vision in the first place? Now, an argument can be made that some games are shitty and fail to realize whatever goal it was that it was striving for, and this is true. But, when you start talking about art that has become an icon of a time, such as Earthbound, you start treading the line of insulting a proven artist, it would be like telling Thomas Edison how to improve the light bulb, with no knowledge or experience in the art.

With that said there are a few things that I believe the creators of Earthbound could have done differently and still achieved the vision that they were hoping for.

1. Weak Family Storyline

One thing that always kind of bugged me about Earthbound was the weak linkage of Nesss family. Ness awakes after a horrific meteor crashes just behind his home. Nesss age (13) isnt revealed until the end of the game, but from how the game is designed and how the characters develop makes you think that Ness and his friends are children, just old enough to be using a yo-yo, ride a bike and carry around a teddy bear. With that being the assumption you are forced to make, you would think that Nesss mother would be more protective of her son and not allow him to wander the hillsides at night right after a strange crash just shook the surrounding land. But all she does is bend to his silent will; I guess because of the look on his face and lets him rush of head first into danger. I guess the game would not have lasted long if she just locked them all inside and you were not able to leave the house the whole game.





The other part of the weak family story line is the absent father. Through the entire game you never meet Nesss father. He is just this benevolent beneficiary that sends you money as a pat on the back for beating up evil dogs and crazed cult members with an affinity for the color blue. Even in the game credits Nesss fathers name is replaced by a telephone. I have read that this is supposed to be a reference to the designers plight in work-centered Japan, but this game is supposed to be a satirical look at American Culture, not Japanese.

How would I fix it?

Make the family a more central part of the stories introduction. I think that Nesss mother should have told Ness to stay inside but he should have snuck out of a window or distracted and snuck out some other way. Also, introduce the father. This game is a story of a kid saving the world from an evil being. Nesss family should have been a driving force in his desire to do so, rather than just doing it because of the demands of a futuristic bee. Maybe Nesss father could have appeared during the ending of the game, after Ness returns home to be with his family.

2. Combat

Like Chrono Trigger, Earthbound does not use the random unseen battle attacks used in games like FF7. Unlike Chrono Trigger though, Earthbound uses a first person perspective for all of its combat. The problem with the way EB used the FP combat was that it was boring yet overly busy at the same time. When a character would attack an enemy or vice versa, the only thing that would happen is the screen would shake, you would hear a noise and a small short animation would show on the screen indicating an attack had been made. This of course was not the case with high level magical attacks though. During all of the battles there would also be this trippy colorful background swirling behind the enemy, maybe to distract the player from the fact that the enemy never moved and was not animated at all.





One other thing that I always found peculiar was the way the world on screen could affect the enemies in the surrounding areas. What I mean is, you could be walking though the hills and forests on your way to rescue Paula from the cultist, and as you walk around the bend, you spot one of those tree enemies that burst into flames once beaten and deals a butt load of damage to your crew. Now you realized that you are low on hamburgers and PP so what are you gonna do? Easy, just turn around and walk away for a bit until the enemy is off screen and then walk back and poof the enemy would no longer be there or would be replaced by some other type of enemy. Now this didnt always happen, but it became a way to navigate hard areas with ease.





How would I fix it?

It is rarely a good thing to compare one game to another, or to say that a game would be better if it were more like game X. But in this case I think EB could have been improved if it had used a combat system more like that used in Chrono Trigger. CT animated all of its battles and attacks. This made the combat in CT much more engaging and entertaining. I would have loved to see ness swing a yo-yo around or Paula smash a snail with a frying pan

I am not sure how I would change the whole random world enemy disappearing act. Maybe the game makes up for it by making all of the enemies run away in fear once you reach a certain level, that way you still have the option to kill things for XP rather than have the area clear of enemies since you killed them on your first trek through the area.

3. Pokey

Ahh Pokey, good ole pig faced brat Pokey. Pokey is the older, yet much more immature son of your next door neighbor. He is one of Nesss friends yet you two dont ever seem to get along. Now, I love Pokeys character, I think he is a great nuisance to drive Ness forward in his quest to destroy Giygas. What I dont like about Pokey is how the game treats him as if he was an adult. Throughout the game you run into Pokey in a number of places. After witnessing the meteor crash and Pokey being useless in combat, you next find him later on as a member and High Priest of the Happy Happyist cult. Then after you prevent the inevitable mass kool-aid suicide you run into Pokey again in Fourside working with his father for Mayor Monotoli. He then steals Mayor Monotolis helicopter when confronted by Ness.





Does any of this seem odd to anyone else? What kind of people would choose a 13 year old kid, (I am assuming 13 by Nesss age, but whether or not he is exactly 13 is irrelevant, he is a young teenager as far as you know) to be the High Priest of their cult? What kind of teenage kid knows how to fly a helicopter? Did he jack into the Matrix or something? Later Pokey becomes the right hand of Giygas himself. Now maybe Giygas was the one making it possible for Pokey to do the things he was doing, but why would a super evil being like Giygas who intends on destroying the galaxy choose a child to be his aid?



How would I fix it?

I am not sure there is a lot that can be done about the way the Pokey character was designed without changing the whole storyline of EB. Pokey does say that Giygas was leading him the whole time and that he only serves the strong and able, but if that was true, why once Giygas is destroyed would he flee? If Giygas was controlling Pokey why would the control not break once Giygas is no more? Maybe it is his lust for power, maybe its explained in Mother 3, I dont know. I just think the whole 13 year old in control of all these powerful things on an escalating scale, from a cult to the right hand of evil, isnt very understandable. Then again neither is another bunch of teenage kids with psychic powers visiting magical sanctuaries in order to defeat a super evil, but I digress. Maybe make pokey older than the rest of the kids in EB with contempt towards them because they refuse to hang out with him or let him in their club. That would seem to make more sense to me.


This is the longest post I think I have made to date on Destructoid. With all of the things being said above, let it be known that I think Earthbound is a great game that has and continues to offer players and different yet amazing RPG experience.


Dam Tease!!


What are your thoughts?








Usually I try to avoid posting something about a game like GTA 4 just after release because everyone and their dog does the same and the chance of mine being worth reading or even noticed is slim, like finding a needle in a haystack. But I find that this game is worth the attempt and time spent to post my thoughts.

1. Cops are a pain in the ass

I have played and beaten all of the GTA titles except for San Andreas. I hated the constant micro-managing; ie working out, changing clothes to match gang colors, shit like that. But in all the other games the cops seemed to be kinda pushovers. No matter what wanted level I got, I was always able to find a way to escape, I could bust through the road blocks if I needed to, evade the helicopters yada yada. While I was playing yesterday I got the cops on me for fun and got my wanted level to 5 stars I think. The chase was on, I kept having to switch cars because the cops would shoot out the tires, and once when I got on a bridge the feds setup impenetrable roadblocks on both sides. I was like Wow, they are really hard ass in this game



2. Brucie is awesome!!

One of Romans friends names is Brucie, a juiced up meathead. His character is the coolest in the game to me so far, aside from Nikko. His constant roid rage and anger are a constant form of entertainment for me. Its hilarious when he tries to push up on Nikko and look tough and Nikko always knocks him down a peg or two.



3. Mini-games are fun

I know I said that I hate the micro-managing shit from San Andreas, but the difference between SA and IVs mini-games is that IVs mini-games are optional and just there for fun. The pool game is a lot of fun, and darts is pretty easy. I cant wait to see what else the game has is store.


4. Nikko doesnt wear a seatbelt

There I as hurtling down the street in the nice car I just hotwired off the street corner, trying to outrun the fuzz. I am weaving in and out of traffic, peeling around corners and running over pedestrians. Then out of no where comes this cop heading right for me in an unplanned game of chicken. I try to swerve out of the way but he slides his patrol car right into my front end and I go flying head first out of the windshield and over the patrol car. The first time it happened I actually jumped out of my seat and yelled out SHIT!!!




Stay tuned for more GTA 4 info.










Soulhammer
9:11 AM on 04.16.2008

When as many cool things happen as they did with me these past few days, I feel the need to share my experiences with others. I was debating on how to list them, whether it be ranked by coolness or in chronological order. Eventually I decided to throw order aside and just go with what comes to mind first.

Over the weekend I had a friend come over who has been helping me Co-Op thru Halo 3 Legendary. We only had the very last level left to do so we decided to knock it out between killing terrorists in R6V and G.R.A.W. Took about 40 minutes to complete the last level for us but I got some cool SSs, one of which is below.



Upon completing the final level on legendary I was awarded the achievement for doing so, which brought my gamerscore above 7k. =) The icing on the cake was that the achievement for beating the game on legendary was the last achievement I needed in order to get 1000/1000. This is the first game I have gotten all 1000/1000 points, which also unlocked the cool Katana armor that you can see below on my character.



Ive been playing Halo 3 MP more recently, maybe just to show off the sword, but after taking a break from it since like last November I am a little rusty and seem to get killed a lot more often now then I did back then; I blame the sword for drawing to much attention yeah thats it.

Also over the weekend I decided I was gonna go reserve GTA 4 at my local game store. Along with my decision to go pre-order, I also decided to trade in one of my rarely played games and put the credit towards my reservation. Which game got traded in towards the purchase of GTA4?

Lost Odyssey.



Yeah I know. I am the first one to admit when I am wrong. I know I made a post about my first impressions for LO. Let me explain my decision to part ways with LO. First let me say that I never actually beat the game, which is horrible I know. After purchasing LO I couldnt turn it off, I burned thru 3 discs and loved every minute of it. But then eventually I started playing other games with a friend on XBL and when I went back to try and play LO, it felt like a chore. I cant really explain it any better than that, I couldnt bring myself to start playing it again. Anyone else every have this happen with a game??

Anyways, while I was shopping that day I also finally was able to find a copy of Professor Layton and the Curious Village. So I got it, and let me tell you, for as annoying as having to solve a puzzle just to take a piss can get, I cant seem to put the game down. I find myself constantly saying, ok ill solve this puzzle then do something else, then 10 puzzles later I am still at it.



Lets see, anything else? Oh! After watching the Zero Punctuation Review of Zach and Wiki, or Wank and Sticky as Yahtzee put it, and hearing how he thought Roberta Williams adventure games like Kings Quest were shit, I decided to try out some of the other adventure games of ole that other people rave about. First one on my list is Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle, by Lucas arts, which oddly makes like every other adventure game I got over the weekend to go back and play. So far the game is loads of fun, quirky characters and subdued humor are all things I enjoy in games so I look forward to playing more.



So the past week has been pretty cool as far as gaming goes, hopefully I will enjoy the weeks to come.

Thoughts? Comments?