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12:26 PM on 04.03.2008

My Visit to the Nintendo World Store

The Nintendo World store is still Mecca for Nintendo fans and a haven for black market Wiis. They have the popular console every morning. They only allow one per person, but you could just walk in, buy a system, sell it on eBay and double your investment, rinse, repeat. Do that and you're looking at about $1,250 a week all because Nintendo doesn't know how to run manufacturing plants.

However, while I was standing in line to buy Power Up energy drink (which thankfully did not taste disgusting) and a Mario figurine, I overheard the people behind me being retarded. They described the Super Nintendo as "so-so" and I'm surprised I had the restraint to not just turn around and pummel them in the organs. But then they kept going and said that the only good game for the Nintendo 64 was Goldeneye 007 at which point I had no choice but to turn around and shout, "Ocarina of Time!" "Oh yeah..." the guy dumbly responded. He then went back to his conversation of ignorance and said that "the mario game" for the 64 wasn't that good. Again, I gritted my teeth and decided it wasn't worth the energy explaining to this pile of worthless that Super Mario 64 was a revolutionary game and it basically determined how we play 3-D games today. All he's ever determined is that people who don't know what they're talking about should shut the fuck up.   read


8:24 AM on 10.17.2007

Brütal Legend Makes Me Sad

There is little doubt in my mind that Brütal Legend will be brilliant. Psychonauts is one of the best games ever made. I wish I had easy access to Tim Schaefer's other games but I don't have a DeLorean and even if I did, it would have to be equipped with a Mr. Fusion in order to generate the 1.21 gigawatts necessary to power the flux capacitor (This reminds me: isn't about time we had a good Back to the Future videogame? You could pimp out the DeLorean, sneak around in BTTF: Part II, play the world's easiest drinking game with Doc Brown...actually, nevermind. The game would end up sucking. No use in dragging one of the greatest film trilogies (and even Part III is acceptable) through the mud).

But no one other than hardcore gamers who were in the know bought Psychonauts. Unless a game starts with "Madden," "Halo", or "Grand Theft Auto", it will have a tough time getting older gamers to open their wallets (Sure, Mario and Zelda games sell great but they've had about twenty years to establish a brand). Imagine if in movies, the only films that were successful were franchise flicks. Granted, these are the ones that make the most money, but they're also the ones that cost the most. Films like Superbad and Knocked Up would be under-marketed, unnoticed, and totally flop at the box office instead of making $121 million and $148 million, respectively.

Brütal Legend is destined to financially flop because it's clearly genre bending, very stylish, and not easy to stuff into an easy, predetermined category. And while you could argue that Jack Black will be a selling point for the game, I'd like to remind you that Black has never opened a film based solely on his presence. Yes, School of Rock did well but it had fantastic word-of-mouth and generally positive reviews. Since then, the only film he's tried to open by himself is Nacho Libre, which granted, did do well but paled to the grosses of School of Rock and Jared Hess' previous film, Napoleon Dynamite (it was a small indie flick; I don't know if you heard of it). While you could point to the success of King Kong or The Holiday, he wasn't carrying the entire film. There were enough stars or other elements (love, giant apes) to attract viewers. So calling your game Brütal Legend and saying it's from the creator of Psychonauts and features the voice of Jack Black isn't going to get it off shelves. It will go in the ranks of great but underplayed games, alongside Ico and Beyond Good and Evil.

And that's the marketplace. I love that these sites devote so much time and energy to so many videogames and I appreciate that. I really and truly do. But they should know as much as anyone that while the hardcore gamers are always trying to find the great games that are gonna fly under the radar, the best selling games are the ones with a pedigree. Ironically, the non-franchise titles that gain that pedigree only get it through the work of the hardcore. So why wasn't Psychonauts a huge success. I wish I had the answer. I truly do because then, I might know how to stop Brütal Legend from sharing a similar fate.   read


12:26 PM on 10.16.2007

One of These Things Is Not Like the Other



So guess which system gets the black guitar with non-removal faceplate. I'll give you a hint: it's the one for poor-people who don't have the money to buy a next-gen system (and if you say "The Wii is super-affordable!" I'll respond "Then find me one, asshat!").

I'm torn about purchasing Guitar Hero III for PlayStation 2. On the one hand, I'm hard-up for new songs and I didn't get Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s because quite frankly, 30 songs from the 1980s aren't worth $50. I also like a lot of the songs, including, but not limited to "Devil Went Down to Georgia," "Knights of Cydonia," "My Name is Jonas," "Paint It, Black", "Rock You Like a Hurricane", "Ruby", "Sabotage", and "The Seeker". Plus, I don't have to buy the wireless guitar bundled with the game because I already have a guitar. The wire isn't great but it's hardly a dealbreaker.

On the other hand, I think Neversoft and Activision may have royally fucked this game. I don't want boss battles. I don't want silly things like "broken strings" and "lefty flip". What was wrong with the game? [url="http://www.1up.com/do/previewPage?cId=3163483"]1UP wrote a recent article[/url] about the game and said that the developer "has rejuvenated the series," I didn't know it needed rejuvenation. I thought it was borderline perfect and the only things that were missing were character creation (because let's face it, no one's really attached to any cast member), online co-op and versus, and new songs. That's it. And while they've definitely delivered in terms of songs, they've laced the game with gimmicks, still have no character creation although it would be simple to implement since all the character models have standard poses and movements, and that to unlock an entire tier of songs, you need to play co-op and you can't do it online. That last one is what would spur me over to Rock Band this holiday season if A) I owned a 360 and B) if Rock Band hadn't fucked itself by only selling the game as a bundle until January.

And point "A" is my other point of hesitation. I don't want to slap down $50 for Guitar Hero III if I'm only going to re-buy II and III and a guitar when I finally get a 360 (and it IS going to happen one day!)   read


4:11 AM on 10.09.2007

A couple notes on Phantom Hourglass

While this game is definitely a must-buy for anyone whose DS has been gathering dust for the past few months (like mine) as well as a given for any Zelda fan, I do have a couple issues so far:

1.) They assume you're gonna figure out what you can and can't do, for instance:

- Closing my DS was what I was supposed to do in order to "press" the map against the tablet, but I didn't know I could do that so I was just rubbing my lower-screen like a schmuck for an hour (slang!)

- I also didn't know that crystals could be removed and replaced in different locations. Again, no talking tablet or stone thought this was useful information.

2.) They could have implemented the buttons to take advantage of the need for multiple items. It can be a killer as I struggle to replace my boomerang with bombs when just being able to assign these items to any of the letter buttons could have made my life and Link's much easier.   read


2:56 PM on 09.12.2007

PRIME'd Out

I don't have a Wii. Even if I could find one, I couldn't afford it (I'm super-duper un-full-time-employed). So that's why I'm not playing METROID PRIME 3. But my younger brother was good enough to not take his Gamecube to college so I picked up a copy of METROID PRIME for $6 used at Gamestop and decided to play what many have hailed as one of the best games evar.

Well, it's certainly good but, having almost reached the end, I gotta say that unless you were raised hardcore-Metroid and you went in with super-low expectations about the whole 2D to 3D transition, the game doesn't exactly overwhelm.

Don't get me wrong. There's a lot to like. As always, the game nails atmosphere, almost to the point where it's distracting. For example, you have your standard lava and ice levels and the game elevates these kind of levels to where they feel real instead of just videogame go-tos. But when you take a look at the design of each room, it's hard not to get inside the heads of the Chozo ancestors and you see them looking over the blueprints:

Chozo 1: So how do we reach this door?

Chozo 2: Oh, that's simple. First, you morph into a ball. Then you lay an explosive in this little slot. The momentum from the explosion will propel you upward and then you just morph back into your normal form.

Chozo 1: Uh-huh...and what about this door? Why does this door need a shot of...ice?

Chozo 2: That's for security.

Chozo 1: Security.

Chozo 2: Right. Think of it like an access card except instead of a piece of plastic that's easy to carry, you'll be using a giant cannon that fires a deadly blast of sub-zero energy.

Chozo 3: Hey guys, we're running low on grapple points!

But you've got to love the small details, especially when it comes to visors. I'm not talking about switching from X-ray to Thermal to Combat and all that noise. That's kind of irritating. I'm talking about the nice little effects like when the steam fogs up your vision or when you catch the briefest glimpse of Samus when the light hits the visor just right (it's a good thing she's hot).

And in translating Metroid from 2D to 3D, they did the impossible but they also brought some of the series' shortcomings. Words cannot express how much I hate backtracking. Sometimes I'll play a session not to find a hidden item or complete an objective, but just to backtrack to a better save point and then go on to actually play the game.

Also, I realize that in the game I'm playing right now, I'm probably not going to get 100% and will probably have to start a new game using a game guide to get that fabled 100% and see the TRUE ENDING. But as I dive into the Impact Crater and have to face off against self-replicating Fission Metroids as I avoid the deadly floor and try to find where the hell I'm supposed to go next, the game has become just slightly irritating. I'm not saying it doesn't deserve it's acclaim, but at this point, I'm not so much aching to finish the game as I am aching from exhaustion.   read


2:44 PM on 07.11.2007

E3 2007: I'm Not There

Not to diminish the experience of all the journalists that get to go to E3 and actually play the games and meet industry professionals, but as far as announcements and trailers go, I'm pretty much getting the same thing except maybe one hour later and in a more comfortable chair with less people to gawk at my hideous naked form (do they frown on nudity at E3? I imagine they would frown on nudity...wait, nevermind. I just saw the SOUL CALIBUR IV trailer). Anyway, here are my worthless impressions of what I've seen so far:

ASSASSIN'S CREED: Holy depressing. I don't know who I feel worse for: Jade Raymond showcasing her game only to have it glitch up like a motherfucker. For a game set for release this November, you're showing off something that's clearly not ready for primetime if your making phantom contacts with NPCs and having floating bodies.

MARIO KART WII: I don't know how you make a Mario Kart game seem not cool, but they pulled it off. Major selling points of online play have already been accomplished in Mario Kart DS and points like newbies being able to go "bumper to bumper" with veterans doesn't seem so much "appealing" as it does "lame". I mean, if I play more of a game, I want to be better at it. I don't want Lucy McReadsalot to just pick up a Wii-mote and start kicking my ass. And that Wii-ell, well, if you think it's lame me calling it that, then clearly, you have way too much respect for something that already exists and already doesn't sell whatsoever.

WII-FIT: If you thought Wiis were hard to find now, just wait until parents find out that they can put their kids in front of a TV AND keep them healthy. Gamers may scoff, but has once again shown that they have their finger on the pulse of the mainstream.

HALO 360 CONSOLE: None more green. Also, it takes a big pair to announce a Halo 3-themed 360 and then say it won't come with Halo 3.

NEW 360 ACCESSORIES: Until you learn the value of transparent plastic, I'll just stick with the black and white controllers, thank you very much.
http://www.destructoid.com/elephant/my_post.phtml?pk=34934
My Post :: DESTRUCTOID :: Hardcore gaming blog
WII ZAPPER: Let me see if I have this straight: you show off Resident Evil 5 but not Duck Hunt? FAIL.

MASS EFFECT: Still not sold on this beyond "It's an RPG from Bioware".

LOST ODYSSEY: Not bad but I'm not in the Cult of Sakaguchi so I'm not gonna splooge all over it.

ROCK BAND: I guess the only question left is which instrument I'm gonna get.

MY LIFE COACH: The signal that perhaps its time to kill yourself, now on the DS!

THE SIMPSONS GAME: I want this to be good, it even looks kind of good, but since when have The Simpsons been good and since when has a Simpsons videogame ever been good?

GUITAR HERO III: Not much newness. It really remains to be seen whether or not Neversoft screwed the pooch on this one or if they've managed to at least keep the game as good as it ever was.

More of my armchair quarterbacking as new stuff to criticize based solely on appearance becomes available.   read


10:00 AM on 07.10.2007

Wind? Awoken!

Well, I finally beat WIND WAKER. I didn't come anywhere close to 100% completion, but I picked it up because I was falling behind on major Zelda games (sorry handheld Links!) that I had yet to beat. I'm in no rush to jump into TWILIGHT PRINCESS (especially since I don't own a Wii and while I'm sure the Gamecube version is all well and good, if I'm gonna drop $50 on the game, I want it to be the one that offers me a new gameplay experience).

I have to say that all and all, WIND WAKER eventually won me over. If anything, my only problem with it was the lack of innovation beyond the wind/sailing/ocean aspect. The fact that Ganon's Tower is structured in the exact same way as OCARINA OF TIME is especially a quick to the groin. Like I said before, it's a lot to ask any series to re-invent the wheel, especially a series like THE LEGEND OF ZELDA which has manage to do it twice, then you gotta offer something beyond a gimmick or a style. They don't need to come up with a completely new style of gameplay, but how about switching out most of the weapons and items, building a new story structure (they can change the story if they like, but you can only take it so far until it stops being ZELDA), or approaching the game from a different angle (would gamers completely reject a LEGEND OF ZELDA game where the quest was played from Zelda's perspective?)?

But now that I've awoken the wind, I can only sit helplessly and wait for my 360 to arrive...   read


4:54 AM on 07.08.2007

Waiting Is The Hardest Part (Tee-Hee...hardest!)

That rat-bastard Chris Anderson can go on all day about how online selection greatly provides more options for the consumer (in all honesty, his book is great and you should give it a read), but it always involves shipping and waiting for that delivery guy can be unbearable. I don't know if I'm lucky that I don't have a tracking number for my package because then I'd probably be refreshing every two seconds: "Still in Kentucky, still in Kentucky, still in Kentucky...fuck it; I'm going to Kentucky".

But the double-punch to the soul is when the delivery man comes...he's got the package in hand...it's just about the right size...and then just as you're about to rip open that cardboard with strength you never knew you had, you see your roommate's name on the box. And at this point, if you're anything like me, you just stomp the hell out of it before crying yourself to sleep.   read


6:22 PM on 07.05.2007

Some Days Weren't Meant For Gaming

So I'm getting more into Wind Waker. It's still not THE GREATEST but I'm liking it more now that I know how to chart and pick up treasure. I still think the GC controller is proof that Jesus died in vain, but you can't win 'em all.

But after successfully making it through the Earth Temple this morning, I decided to just pick up some heart pieces. That is, without a doubt, one of my favorite things about this franchise: sidequests. Sure, the next big temple is waiting but if you want to go out and get more health, more arrows, more bombs, or do whatever, there's plenty to do but it won't smack you around like a dungeon.

Unfortunately, fate had different plans for me today. After getting three pieces of heart, I thought the last one was on Outset Island where you have to live the giant headstone after you've received the power bracelets (Bracelets, Nintendo? We can't butch Link up a bit with gauntlets or at least a nice pair of gloves; heck, I'd prefer Power Mittens, but then again, who wouldn't?). What I learned was that it was actually for a Triforce chart. Fine. But oh look! What's this! There's yet another hold for me to go down. Sadly, no one informed me that I was entering the Constant Dungeon and that this arena like nonsense would eventually spell my doom seeing as I was ill-prepared to reap the whirlwind.

So after getting massacred down there (and I forgot to save, which was my bad), I took a break, watched some TV, took a nap (my life is really stressful, as you can tell) and then decided to take a shot at getting the Deluxe Pictobox and doing the auction for the piece of heart. After getting the forest firefly, after gtting the deluxe pictobox, after going through two auctions, I hold up my piece of heart victoriously and...

Power outage. Someone pressed the reset button on my house. I won't apologize for not saving that time because power outages just aren't common enough to warrant it. No, instead I'll just take the hint that I'm done with Zelda for today and read a freaking book.   read


3:57 AM on 07.03.2007

4:30 AM - Frozen Chicken Fingers

I think one of the greatest achievements in our history is the self-service check-out. Not only can you not yell at yourself for going to damn slow or not being able to scan a product, but it removes the judgment. I could buy spiked condoms and no one would be the wiser (not even me, for I fail to see the wisdom in "spiked condoms"). It's also useful when you have a hankering for a particular food item at some ungodly hour and are not a pregnant woman or the instrument of fetching for one. So I guess it's even better when located within a twenty-four hour store. I guess that onlly makes it only somewhat one of the greatest achievements in our history. Guess it will have to settle for the bronze.

And sure, I could go to the store earlier, but I was caught up in defeating a dungeon in WIND WAKER (and yes, once I get my 360, I'll talk about slightly newer games so you won't be left wondering if my next subject is KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC; I won't get caught up in that because I already know it's awesome) and as any Zelda player knows, you don't stop mid-dungeon. You play that freaking labyrinth to the end. I just picked up the Master Sword and so far all I can think is "This is it?" Aside from the irritant of sailing (sailing is only awesome in the real world; no matter how lush the graphics, until the game can simulate the sun on your face, the wind at your back, and the cold beer in your hand, you basically are just trying my patience as I have to constantly correct the wind and take forever to get to where I need to be), THE WIND WAKER is THE OCARINA OF TIME (which was A LINK TO THE PAST but at least brought some innovation to the table). All WIND WAKER has really done thus far is change the aesthetic. It's co-opted OCARINA's control system to heinous Gamecube controller (sorry kids, but someone took an acceptable ergonomic design and puked buttons all over it) and is still using the same game structure: three gems, one master sword...I'm going to assume that five or six more dungeons are next followed by a showdown with Ganon; I really want to be wrong.

I did a little research on the game to see how it fared in the year it was released and to my shock and disappointment, Gamespot, the site that stood by its 8.8 out 10 review for TWILIGHT PRINCESS, said that WIND WAKER was the best videogame of 2003. They said, and I quote,

Put it in the hands of a young child or a grown adult, regardless of how much or how little previous gaming experience they have, whether with console games or any games, and you'll almost certainly have a new, lifelong fan of The Legend of Zelda there in front of you.

This is a true statement of TETRIS. This is a true statement of SOLITARE. But I think this game is pretty much made for the Zelda faithful. If you had never played a Zelda game before and especially if you were only a casual gamer, you would probably get fed up with it during the first visit to the Forbidden Fortress. And once you get past the charm of the graphics, its not a sumptuous visual or aural feast (unless the sound of a boy huffing and hollering is music to your ears, in which case, please stop reading my blog) what's holding you is that you have a new Zelda game ever since OCARINA rocked your face off back in 1998 (once of the best games ever made but again, I would never argue its universality as much as I would hold it up as the game every GAMER would want; not every HUMAN would want).

I'm gonna keep playing it (I need something to do in between watching movies and episodes of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT and reading is for suckers) and hopefully my opinion will change but so far all I see is Zelda ripping itself off and trying to hide it inside a new graphical style and frustrating transportation.   read


3:18 AM on 07.02.2007

Waking The Wind and Ordering a Phoenix

So I'm rewatching HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE before I go see ORDER OF THE PHOENIX later today (again, my job > your job) and I have to say that I like it a lot more than I remember. The emotional beats just resonate stronger and I would say that the only major strikes against it are 1) Michael Gambon is still a pretty poor Dumbledore, 2) The action scenes are good but feel more like a distraction, 3) Even greater distraction: 70s hair on almost all the young men in the film. But I do like Dumbledore's line about having to choose between what is right and what is easy. Personally, I always go for what's right AND easy, but that's just me.

So as I wait for my 360 plan to move forward (I expect to have it no later than July 20th), I'm house-sitting for my mom and since my brother is away as well, I decided to borrow his Gamecube and try to beat THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: THE WIND WAKER. Along with ZELDA II, this installment seems like a red-headed stepchild of the series due to Kid Link and the art-style. But I think the game is long on charm when it's being original and going to new places. What I don't like is how it still has one foot in OCARINA OF TIME by repeating all the dungeons (mountains, forest, yada, yada, yada). It's not bad and it's unfair to ask any franchise to constantly redefine a genre. But Zelda's really starting to show its age and while I haven't had a chance to give TWILIGHT PRINCESS an honest shot (I only played the atrocious intro where I had the privilege of herding goats and engaging in a ridiculous fetch quest. I hear it gets monumentally better, but I'll just have to wait till I get a Wii to find out.   read


4:41 AM on 07.01.2007

Greed Kicks Wisdom's ASS

So over the past few weeks, I've been scrapping to get a 360. Not the high system failure rate (Peter Moore isn't a shitty tipper, he just doesn't understand how to do percentages) nor the investment of not only games, XBOX Live, extra controllers, and how it will ultimately distract me from my work (I'm a freelance writer so clearly what I need in my life is MORE distraction...speaking of which, please visit my general blog at wantondistraction.com) could dissuade me from my quest.

Now it's not necessarily hard to find a 360. They're widely available and all for the price of $400 plus tax (and no, I'm not getting the $300 core version without a hard drive, a wireless controller, or component cables so just pull your head out of your ass). The problem is that I don't have $400. I have more debt than I know what to do with (Thanks, college! You were worth every penny except the ones I gave you) but I don't have $400. Now I could use my rent money to appease my 360 needs, but apparently my landlord will not accept payment in I.O.Us or a child's laughter (which actually worked out because I could not get that child I kidnapped to stop crying; also, what's an amber alert?)

At this point, I should just push play on "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and cue the scene of me kicking a can down the street. Maybe I should direct my attention to more noble efforts like meeting new people, finding more work, getting more money, not weeping in the shower, doing charity work, exercising, or any of a multitude of more productive activities. But if I were doing those things, then how would I get a 360 before Bioshock arrived? Yeah, there are starving kids out there but I'm starving for some Gears of War. What about me? WHAT ABOUT ME?

So how did I decide to spend my time? PYRAMID SCHEME! Yes, those lovely FREE-WHATEVER offers you hear about so often? Well I needed a free 360 and apparently they had one. All I had to do was humor some company I had absolutely no interest in and persuade other people to do the same! Nevermind that the only way I could more easily open myself to identity theft would be to simply leave my social security card, driver's license, and major credit card lying out in the middle of a parking lot; whoever stole my identity wouldn't have a 360. Plus, my identity isn't all that great. Trust me, I've lived with myself for a while now and I should know.

But now a 360 should be in my possession in about two weeks. I'll continue the saga in a follow-up post but right now I have to write my review for TRANSFORMERS (yes, my job is cooler than yours and no, it doesn't really pay anything).   read


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