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6:35 PM on 12.09.2012

The Best Ad Campaign Ever? Dikembe Mutombo's 4 1/2 Weeks to Save the World



I'll be short and sweet with this.

Old Spice is a nice brand that we all like because it makes us smell good and occasionally shocks and stupefies its audience with advertisements that are surrealistic and surprisingly well-written. Their newest outing stars an 8-bit incarnation of professional basketball player Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo as he tries to save the world before the expiration date the Mayans left for us.

You can play it here.

The writing at times may hinge too much on RANDOM! GOOFY! WOAH! And I'm still not sure what the target audience necessarily is. But I think there's a little bit for everyone.

The music is great. The gameplay is polished. The look is classic. The voice acting is top-of-the-line. The writing for the most part is hilarious when paired with the voice acting. The only thing that may be considered a flaw is that each new level (as they are released week by week) seems to be getting easier than the last.

But if you want a free high octane thrill ride that is clearly a labor of love, play it right goddamn now.

For friendshiiiiiiiiiip...   read


12:18 PM on 11.16.2012

Roll Call: Those Who Missed the Wii U Preorder Boat



Anyone who follows my comments on this site can probably tell that I am in desperate love with Nintendo. And like that girl you had a crush on all 4 years of high school who was WAY out of your league, no matter how many times Nintendo puts out questionable policies and occasional sub-par games, I forgive them and continue to love them.

I was born into a Nintendo family. SEGA was never even mentioned under our roof. I didn't find out till much later was a Genesis even was because my older siblings had a strict policy to not talk about it. So I grew up with a Super Nintendo, N64, Gamecube, Gameboy Advance SP, and DS. My brother eventually bought a PS2 and that quickly became a personal favorite of mine, but once the Wii was announced (then called the Revolution, naturally) I felt all those same feelings as when I ripped into that Christmas gift-wrap to find a new Gamecube... so I did the only logical thing and lined up outside Best Buy the night before it came out with a piggy bank filled with $200 in bills and about 70 or so in quarters. I pissed off no less than 50 people waiting behind me while they counted those quarters, but it was worth it: I had my Wii.



In reflection, I realize how lucky I must have been. I didn't have a pre-order. And by walking around stores in the following days I noticed that the Nintendo shelves were void of any Wii games or consoles. And that was all before the days when online shopping became the norm.

I don't have the money for a Wii U. Fortunately, as a college student, I'm still at that age where my parents are willing to grant one Christmas present to their children, and my brother and I are willing to share a Wii U as a joint present. Since most people predict that after the initial shipment of Wii U's there won't be a steady supply of the consoles until well after Christmas, our only real chance is to try and pick one up on launch day.

But we don't have a pre-order. 6 years ago that didn't matter. These days? Well, it's all up in the air. Some people say it's hopeless to wait outside the stores for half a day since, chances are, all the consoles may already be spoken for in pre-orders. Others think that Nintendo will learn from their initial Wii supply and demand problems and stock ungodly amounts of the console. Me personally? I don't try to get too much in my head about it. So what's my edge here?



I've got a team, and I've got a plan. Today I'm going around to all the stores in my city (which are all packed fairly close together): Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Kmart, Toys R Us... I'm staying away from GameStop cause that will be a certified battleground. I'm going to check if the managers have an idea of how many shipments they're getting and if they're all spoken for. I'll run their responses through a complicated algorithm to determine where our best shots are.

Then tomorrow night the team moves in. First, it's me: The Heavy. I've got the card with the funds for the purchase and I'll be stationed outside the store with the highest chance of success. If it's no good for me, I've got at least two other guys stationed at other stores. One with an equivalent cash amount, and one who's placeholding at a less-likely store.

Overall, I've placed our probability of success at 25%. But that's more than enough for a sappy Nintendo romantic like myself.

So... anybody else gonna try the camping method without a pre-order? Suggestions, questions? Feel free to share!   read


2:31 PM on 11.02.2012

Why Wreck-It Ralph is an important movie



So I saw Wreck-It Ralph. Being someone who grew up in the SNES era and later became fascinated with the NES era, it was kind of a necessity to see it, much how the sheer amount of video game references in Scott Pilgrim drove me in. And I fell in love with that despite having only read the first installment of the series. Certainly, Wreck-It Ralph has already drawn comparisons to Scott Pilgrim, in addition to Toy Story, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and others. Are these fair comparisons? And does this movie stack up against these other “classics?”

Before I can answer, allow me the opportunity to climb to the top of Mount Everest with the world's largest PA system so I can shout “YES” into a microphone loud enough for the whole planet to hear. Yes, this movie is like others, but it could definitely shake a stick at any of those other movies I named. It would be easy to look at Wreck-It Ralph externally—as many already have—and label it as a simple Disney cash-in on the growing video game industry. Once you get inside the theater, though, the level of love and detail in this movie is comparable to any Pixar movie, perhaps even better than some. I'll go ahead and say that I think the endearing short “Paperman” that plays before the film proper, in its 5 minute run, was more emotionally satisfying than Up. Up's problem was that it told a beautiful story in its first 5 minutes then fell into a wholly average, but pretty, kid's movie. I'm not trying to denounce anyone's opinion who liked the movie, but I think it succeeded as well as it did because it had a clear Pixar label on it. Wreck-It Ralph, though many of its choices were influenced by Pixar, has the stigma of being a sole Disney effort. Since the purpose of this writing is to convince you to go see the movie, I encourage you to look past the Disney label if it bothers you—and if it's any indication of the film's worth, other reviewers have mistakenly confused it for a Pixar movie.

It may be the context of my seeing the movie that has so profoundly engorged me with awe towards it. I saw its midnight premiere, and it's kind of hard to not thoroughly enjoy those. Generally, the people who go to midnight premieres are people who want nothing more than to be there and are somewhat predisposed to enjoy the hell out of themselves. So yes, the audience whooped and cheered and laughed at everything—EVERYTHING—and when it was all over, here are just a few overheard snippets from my fellow movie-goers:
“Pretty much a perfect movie.”
“No point in finding anything wrong with it.”
“People who don't like this have no heart.”
“How could anyone give this a bad review?”
And I can't disagree with any of those sentiments. I myself was quoted on the way out of the building saying “This may be one of the most important movies ever made.” I gave myself the night to think about this, let the impression stew, not sharing any opinion until I could consider every angle. So here it is, every angle I could think to examine, and every argument I can muster for why this is one of the most important movies ever made.



In case you are unfamiliar with the concept, I will do my best to bring you up to speed. Wreck-It Ralph is the villain of the arcade game Fix-It Felix Jr, who is tired of being the bad guy. He abandons his game in order to get a medal that will earn him the respect of the other guys in his own game. However, his medal is stolen by a little girl named Vanellope in a Mario Kart-esque racing game (complete with an area similar to Rainbow Road), and they must work together to win the big race and get it back. Those are about the most basic terms I can break the movie into, but there is so much more that you just have to see.

Most features for children focus on two main characters and perhaps one subplot, but this movie is an absolute marvel in plotting. Ralph's story is self-driven and separate from Vanellope's, which could have easily been its own movie, but the two interweave themselves spectacularly at a certain point of the movie. It's been noted that the movie has a “typical” rise-fall-rise structure, which is true, but this should not be considered a flaw. The general problem of this story structure is that the “fall” comes across as contrived in most movies, and is simply a way to add tension to movies where it would otherwise make more sense to just have the protagonist achieve their damn goal and get us out of the movie 10 minutes faster. But every factor that contributes to the “fall” in this context is done with such sincerity, it evokes not impatience, but legitimate compassion because it asks the question “What do you have to take away from these characters to really break them? And then how do you go about taking that away?” It also helps that the argument the villain makes that leads to this spot of intrigue is actually a very convincing point, making Ralph's motives and subsequent decisions absolutely justifiable.

The reason we can appreciate all of these little things is because the exposition itself should be considered a masterpiece in screenwriting. Sure, the film opens with a monologue where Ralph lays (mostly) all of it on the line, yet there is something stilted about his speech, as if he's not speaking to the audience—then of course we discover he's NOT referring to us, but to his villain support group. Natural incorporation of initial given circumstances: Check. The next piece of exposition is in fact a major plot point that seems, at first, nothing more than technical jargon in-universe. This term is later described, and finally fully-fledged, like another whole story. But the impressive part is that this all happens naturally and mostly behind the scenes.

One note I'll make is at first, you may be surprised at how mundane Ralph's “problem” seems to be. I know I was. Not being accepted is not a small problem, but the way in which Ralph's frustration comes to light is mostly just sad: he wasn't invited to Fix-It Felix's 30th anniversary in the arcade. What does this say about Ralph and the rest of the movie? A whole lot more than most other animated films do. Most characters in these kinds of movies go through some sort of life-changing event that sends them on a hero's journey of sorts... but Ralph? Ralph's just mad he doesn't get cake (a clever nod to Bowser's continual problem). So what does he do? Blasts cyborg bugs, flies space ships, builds go-karts, initiates prison breaks, and more. What this does is highlight the absolute determinism in Ralph, his utter desperation, which is in many ways shared and overshadowed by Vanellope later. And this makes the dynamic between the two characters one of the most enjoyable and pure friendships in cinema.



And let me say in no uncertain terms that, even though I absolutely despise the majority of child characters in fiction (they're all baiting too much for sympathy without doing anything to earn it), Vanellope is adorable, endearing, feisty, and hilarious. And yes, she says childish things, but she's a child after all. Though her backstory prepared her to be independent, once Ralph enters the picture he becomes a father figure, a best friend, or, if you'd prefer this analogy, the Sully to her Boo. And Ralph is the perfect character for her to foil for.

Both characters are suited well by top of the line voice acting. John C. Reilly as Ralph does a remarkable job at retaining just enough of his awkward charm while bringing an intense subsidiary melancholy to the character. Sarah Silverman's work on Vanellope has so much heart to it, and those I was with commented that this is probably her best voice acting job yet. You'll probably see a lot of Ken in Jack McBrayer's portrayal of Felix, but there's a much more heavily romanticized side to him. And of course, Jane Lynch is nothing but fabulous. These are just the leads, but truly everyone does a wonderful job.

And what of the characters they portray? Nothing short of excellent. Ralph is especially a fantastic protagonist, not because he wants to stop being a villain and become a hero, but because he becomes fixated (almost obsessed) with having physical proof that he isn't a bad person as people seem to think. It's deeper than it seems on the surface. Vanellope, as I mentioned, is also incredible, though these two glow especially in their interactions. The “fall” scene is absolutely heartbreaking because of the utter desperation each character shows. Felix may come across at first as a typical goody-good, perfect hero, but later on we see that he has a distinct lack of understanding for the other side, and even has some apparent frustration that he can only fix things (a superb counterbalance that these two are matched together because they are programmed that way, and that for this reason Felix even refers to Ralph as “brother”). Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch, the hard-boiled leader from the in-universe game Hero's Duty), has the quirk of always being on a hunt of some sort as a way to cope with her past. She has a will-they won't-they attraction with Felix that raises some interesting questions about how these video game characters, literally composites of code, can break out of their programming and find romance. The rest of the cast is great too, from big ham King Candy down to the one-off characters like Tapper or (crowd favorite) Beard Papa.



These are some of the most charming characters in animated history, due to both the acting and the writing. I've heard some complaints about the writing, calling it “typical Disney fare” or “too childish.” Well, yes, there are plenty of jokes that hinge on mocking and imitation which can understandably be appropriated as “childish.” Huh. Almost as if it's a kids movie, you know? Seriously though—they make “duty” jokes and the second half of the movie is almost entirely candy puns, but if you don't laugh at those then the child inside of you is probably dead and gone. Most people will laugh at the word “duty” in a group of friends, and yet call it cheap when it's used in a movie. And some of the puns may illicit groans, but that in itself is a funny thing. There's an improvisational comedy game called 185 where the whole point is to make crappy puns that make the audience collectively groan. It's not necessarily the pun itself that is funny, it's the recognition of the word play and following realization that everyone else in the audience is groaning that makes it funny. I respect Wreck-It Ralph for not being afraid to write their characters like this. That's what I call committed writing.

With all of this greatness, can there possibly be room for any more? Of course, silly reader! Wreck-It Ralph is a gift that keeps on giving. The visuals and the soundtrack are no exception. The term visual feast gets tossed around a lot, but hardly is it more appropriate than in this movie where 75% of the movie is looking at a world that literally is a candy buffet. When you're not looking at a chocolate and candy cane atmosphere, you'll also get the gritty dark and neon world of Hero's Duty, and the minimalistic (but cute) world of Fix-It Felix Jr, among dozens of little flashes that show the 8-bit representations of the games you're watching. There's a tumblr called moviebarcode that condenses all the frames of a movie into a small little rectangle so you can get an idea of the film's color scheme—I'd like to see a bar code of Wreck-It Ralph for all of its aesthetically fulfilling contrasts. And of course the score harkens back to the 8-bit days with electronic instrumentation scored into little “themes” as if for levels. And the credits song for Wreck-It Ralph is perfectly 80s in its sound.

It's all of these little things that come together in a perfect harmony that really attest to the excruciating detail in the film. It's been noted by several reviewers (as it was with Scott Pilgrim before it) that it would take many, many viewings (of which I am already planning more) to catch every little reference or allusion in the background. The movie had so much affection put into it that it practically oozes the stuff—and that alone puts this movie on a shelf with some of the best Pixars. They make the viewer be attentive, but not straining, to absorb everything it has to offer. And that is what really makes you think while you watch it. I know I thought a lot.



I thought about the nature of video games, video game movies, and popular culture in general. You see, even though retro gaming has certainly had its resurgence in the past couple of years, I found it strange for awhile that Scott Pilgrim and Wreck-It Ralph would root themselves in that specific branch of gaming while Call of Duty and God of War are the hip new things. For Scott Pilgrim, despite its acclaim, it wasn't enough, and failed to bring in a large audience. Wreck-It Ralph has a bit of a leg up. It's Disney, it has a world inspired by Halo, and it generally has a broader appeal. I thought about why this is and I think for the most part, it's because it perfectly matched material with target audience. It's perfectly tailored for kids because even though they may not “get” some of the more obscure characters, they can follow the story and focus on those that they do know—Bowser casually sipping coffee, Sonic delivering a PSA, and Pac Man wobba-wobbaing around Felix's penthouse are all going to draw their attention. Meanwhile, their parents, who were kids when these games were popular, have the added parental bonus of picking up on all the smaller stuff. I think those two age groups are best suited, but I think it has a pretty universal appeal for the sake of just telling a very good story with characters deserving of instant classic status. I think it may alienate some teenagers, who may have “cooler things to do,” but even they get shoutouts to their age group: good ol' Skrillex shows up as a cyber DJ, and later you can catch a glimpse of Leroy Jenkins graffiti.

So the video game aesthetic is clearly a good choice as it establishes an audience, but the setting accomplishes something even more than that. It's widely accepted as fact that video game movies are lame. From the Super Mario Bros movie to Street Fighter to Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, all have been met with derision and disregard, even if some later achieved cult status. Many called Scott Pilgrim the first great video game movie despite not being based on a video game, but now we have this to take the throne. Though it is not based on any preexisting game, one might consider it as such since there is a Fit-It Felix game that was released before the movie (and is a lot of fun!). What I'm getting at is it's not a format that (until this release) was explicitly tackled in the mainstream media with any kind of success. But with Wreck-It Ralph we have something good that presents all the potential of video game movies.

The video game movie format does something new: it completely recasts tropes that we've become accustomed to over the years. It doesn't have to deal with a messy backstory for Sergeant Calhoun because they pass it off as just being in her programming. In another movie her depressing backstory would be seen as “Oh, they just wanted to make us feel sympathy for her.” But in this one, it's not even a real event that happened—it's a memory that was programmed into her. And it's not the memory that shapes her character. The memory is the programmer's excuse for the character. This is why her flashbacks are so hyperbolized. It's simultaneously humorous, explanatory, and gives her character some depth. It should come as no surprise that a video game movie could rewrite tropes like this, because that's what video games did when they first came out. It was a completely new medium with new things to say and new ways to say them. With this movie, a whole new spectrum of explanations and plot devices is now available to filmmakers based on the way that video games and movies function separately. For example, final confrontations in movies and games are different. In a game, defeating the bad guy is a heavily personal experience as you fight the guy who has single-handedly oppressed you. In a movie there's a distinct separation. But in Wreck-It Ralph as soon as the villain identifies himself as “the final boss” I know I for one clicked into personal mode. This villain became Bowser, Eggman, Wily, and Ganon, and it was on. It hit a personal chord with me. It's rather impossible to not appreciate that.

Other themes arise all over the place... themes of acceptance, destiny, even possible suggestions of disability-as-a-superpower with Vanellope's glitch. It's all something that you should explore for yourself with an open mind, ready to let out your inner child. At its worst it's a frenetic, high octane thrill ride with breathtaking visuals, a nostalgic soundtrack, stunning detail work, pitch-perfect characters, and a great sense of humor. At its best its an emotionally driven work of art that redefines what a movie can be.

I stand by what I said. This is one of the most important movies ever made.   read


2:51 PM on 07.20.2012

Clearing my mind

I apologize if anyone finds the timing of this blog inappropriate, but I felt I needed to address the Colorado shooting. If you don't want to read a blog about this I don't blame you. It's a video game site, after all. For those of you who choose to continue, I firstly hope you will trust that I am not trying to exploit the situation just to get people to click on the link. Second, this will be a lengthy post. I just need to get this out of my head.

I don't know everything that happened. No one does and it's possible that not every detail will reach us. I have to say, when I woke yesterday morning, the world didn't feel any different, though I guess it never does in these kinds of situations. My biggest concern was "I hope my roommate doesn't think my Mario bedsheets are childish." Even as I walked through my college's dining hall and saw the news report about a shooting at a Batman midnight premiere, I was more concerned about what classes I was going to select. That's not to say it wasn't distressing, but it didn't seem directly relevant at the time.

I went home with my brother and he turned on the TV--he hadn't yet heard what had happened and when he heard the news story he was shocked. I decided I should get up to date on the situation too and sat down. We watched for thirty minutes, learning horrifying detail after horrifying detail. And then they mentioned the six year old girl who had been killed. At that moment my thoughts did not go to that girl, but rather to the two young nieces that I have. One of them cannot pronounce my name and just calls me CaCa, and despite the unfortunate implications of the nickname, it's adorable to hear every time--the other is perhaps the most eloquent three-year-old this world has ever known. In that moment I imagined that it was not that six year old girl who had died, but these two precious children close to my heart.

I heard my brother choke up and I knew he was thinking something similar. "What if it had been them?" But for me it was more real. As if reality suddenly changed, and they were there, and they were gone. I visualized gruesome things and tried to shake it away--it wasn't real, just my mind being ridiculous. I know I can't possibly imagine what those families are feeling right now--but in that moment it really felt like they were gone. There's one of those cynical sayings, something along the lines of "you don't care about something until it happens to you." I guess it's true. Sad, but true.

It's not the "right" reaction to have, and I realize that; I do. Just like I also sympathize for Christopher Nolan in this situation. My heart should belong to the victims and only the victims, but to think that this man who only wanted to create something worthwhile and meaningful, not only to comic book fans but himself and the public at large, now has a work that is tarnished by the actions of one disturbed individual... it's terrible. I have to wonder how he's getting by with the knowledge that his passion project is now labeled as the movie associated with a shooting. Last night should have been earth-shattering in a good way. Instead it destroyed the worlds of innocent people.

I guess all this goes to show is that people don't know their own feelings. Yeah, you can identify a general sense of "I feel happy, I feel spunky, I feel hungry" but there aren't exact words to describe how opinions form. You can say it's ethics, you can say it's "just because it's right." But how many of us claim to feel one way until we discover the exact opposite is true? "Sunshine of Your Love" is a classic rock song. Growing up, I always accepted that classic rock was not to be questioned or disliked, so I sat through "Sunshine of Your Love" on car rides up and down the highway. I hate that song. I hate it so much. But it wasn't until someone else said it was bad that I realized it was okay to not like it.

It took a six year old girl to show me that I do care about these people in Colorado I have never met, despite my nonchalant attitude earlier in the day. Sitting in front of the TV was depressing. Scrolling through facebook was even worse--some people apparently see fit to make jokes about this. I needed to share my thoughts and I thought I would do so with the online community I know best. Because maybe it will help reconnect my thoughts. I guess I've just been feeling the "wrong" emotions all day, and now I want to feel something right.

So I think I can speak on behalf of Destructoid as well as myself when I say that my heart goes out to all the families of the deceased and injured. May they rest in peace.   read


7:16 PM on 05.15.2012

Hype: The reason I bought an Xbox 360



What you have to understand about me is that for the three unfortunate years I spent in middle school, I was absolutely, positively, whole-heartedly, obsessively, and depressingly attached to the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. Of course, the only actual games from the series I had played at this point in time were Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic the Fighters, and Sonic R. I still hold those games dear to my heart, but some of them I've realized are actually shit bubbles (I love them nonetheless). Back then, however, I put these games on a pedestal above many others. I loved the characters (yes, even the annoying friends) and the fast-paced gameplay. I was one of those people who shipped Sonic and Amy ferociously and would cry watching montages of the two together with "You're Beautiful" playing in the background. At school I wrote a serialized comic strip called, aptly enough, "Sonic the Comic." I also spent over $100 to get a set of 2-inch Sonic figurines that were probably worth closer to $20. I used these figurines to make a web-series called "Sonic's World" which surprisingly got a decent amount of views, and more surprisingly are not so bad upon looking back (if you can ignore my prepubescent shrill voice and horribly contrived jokes).

If you want to watch the videos, here's the link. It's good for a chuckle.



Now that you understand the sick dramatic irony of my situation, I think it goes without saying that when one of my friends mentioned a Sonic game had been released exclusively for the 360 I was both ecstatic and horrified at the same time. After all, it was great there was a new Sonic game to get my grubby hands on, but I was 11, had spent all my money on buying a Wii on day one, and always imagined I just wasn't ready to handle whatever the 360 had to give me.

But I needed Sonic. It was like an addiction--no, more than an addiction. I hopped from video to video until I had absorbed almost everything there was to know about the game without actually having a controller in my hands. I did read the comments, which were by and large very harsh but who was I to believe them? They just didn't get it. They weren't Sonic fans like I was. My excitement grew exponentially with every new thing I discovered. I started asking my friends if I could borrow their Xbox-es. I really did only intend to borrow it just to play this one game and then give it back, but looking back... yeah, that wasn't my brightest idea.

One of my friends straight up told me to just buy an Xbox 360 and get the game. I hadn't really even considered the idea... I didn't have the money and I certainly didn't think my parents would be willing to shell out that much for my hobby... but once the idea was in my head I couldn't get rid of it. I started scanning stores for used 360's every time I visited one. I finally found one for $180, which I could meet my mom halfway on. Of course, I got the warning that I would really have to make the most out of this system to make it a worthwhile purchase. This wasn't going to be just a one-game deal.



But I hadn't even considered any other games. As far as I was concerned, this might be the last game I ever played. Just based on all the things I had seen and heard, how could it be anything less than perfect? Would I need to justify the asking price with other games, when this could quite possibly be the only one I would need for the rest of my life? When I told my friends I had bought one I heard echoes of "The Orange Box" and "Halo" and "Call of Duty 4" and "Bioshock." BORING was all I could think. I had what I needed. I was ready to go.

And then I played it. Or rather, my friend who mentioned the game to me in the first place played it. That sniveling bastard started the game up without me and played through the opening scenes. We had a big argument when I came back about "How could you do this to me?" and "You're a guest here, this isn't your home" and blah blah blah... It's funny to think that there was a point in my life when one of my best friendships hung in the balance because of Sonic 2006. Not my proudest moment.

Anyway, I sat down and played the game. I had expected the abundant loading screens because of admonishing YouTube users. I had expected the glitches because I had read reviews. All of that stuff was inconvenient, yes, but because I saw it all coming I was able to write it off. But what no words or opinions can express to the nearest degree with littlest margin of error is the level of just how un-fun something can be.

Many people (myself included) enjoy bad movies. Some (also including myself) find bad movies more entertaining than good movies. I think the reason we're able to appreciate it for its total lack of quality is because we've seen enough good movies, and we've seen enough of the tropes and methods that work in these movies, that when we are faced with a bad movie, we get a kick out of identifying the individual aspects that work together to make the movie not work together. It helps when the filmmakers take the production very seriously--The Room, for instance--Tommy Wiseau really believed he was making a poignant piece. Each element of the movie therefore, was crafted with a specific purpose and idea behind it. This attention to dysfunctional detail is commendable, and makes it all the more fun for the viewers.

This is where the bad differs from the mediocre. Watching a mediocre movie or playing a mediocre game is like watching an Olympic runner celebrate his victory too early, just to get passed by the harder-working guy in second place right at the end. You want to say "Focus!" The runner clearly knows what he is doing! After all, he's in the Olympics, and leading at first place at that. But his hubris gets to him and there's nothing anyone can do about it. The same goes with mediocre entertainment. You can see where it's going and its heart may be in the right place, but it just won't get there and it ultimately hurts to watch.

Take this feeling and ramp it up to eleven to imagine my disappointment at Sonic 2006. I wanted so desperately to like it... I tricked myself to think I did... I depressed myself to think I did... I wanted to hold onto the idea that this game was everything I thought it might be. Maybe it was guilt, considering $240 total had been dumped into GameStop just for me to play this one game. Maybe I felt a small amount of betrayal. But when I ultimately admitted to myself that I just didn't like it, I felt a lot better about myself. I was able to kick my sudden buyer's remorse and experience more games to, as my mom put it, "justify the purchase."

And you know what? Even though that game did put me into a brief, but shockingly deep depression, I'm glad I played it and I'm glad I put out the money for it. My stubbornness pushed me into a folly, but I picked myself back up and--Oh my!--I still had a fully-functional HD console with plenty of other games to try out. I did end up getting all those other games my friend had suggested, and loving them. Over the years I've enjoyed some excellent experiences on my 360, including Bioshock, Oblivion, Deadly Premonition, Alan Wake, Prototype, Halo 3, Fallout, and so much more.

So yeah. Sonic 2006 is about as big as failures get. But without it, I wouldn't be the person I am today. Because when I accepted Sonic 2006 was a bad game, I started to adopt the motto "You win some, you lose some." Is it always worth it to risk it for the hypothetical biscuit? Perhaps not, but even if you don't necessarily win, you can always take your failure and make your own silver lining out of it.   read


7:50 PM on 02.11.2012

The REAL Best Video Game Endings of All Time

Wow guys, I can't tell you how embarrassed I am that you guys had to read this clearly misinformed list of the best game endings ever.

However, as a representative of Guiness, I'm here to tell you all that I've just been delivered the REAL list of the best video game endings of all time. That last one? Someone got drunk and threw some titles on there. Guiness is a beer company after all. But here I am, completely sober, typing in complete sentences. Giving you the list.

10. Super Mario Bros 2
Everyone here at Guiness could agree on this one because we could all relate, since we are all middle-aged Italian men who dream about mushrooms and shit. It was all a dream?! GAH! That means it's just like Inception! Inception was the shit! You can play a drinking game with Inception. Every time you see someone's totem you just shotgun a can of Guiness.

9. Helicopter
I cry every time I play it. Such a tragic tale, full of dramatic irony.

8. Super Smash Bros Melee
Because we've all wanted to know what it was like to beat the ever-living fuck out of Michael Jackson's glove.

7. Indigo Prophecy
This guy's such a Casanova he fucked a cop who was trying to arrest him earlier. Oh and did I mention that he was a fucking zombie while he did it? And he knocked her up? Lucas is the kind of man every person wants to be (yeah, even women).

6. Flower
Pretty colors.

5. Citizen Kane
It was his sled! Never would have guessed it!

4. Ghostbusters
Conglaturation indeed.

3. Scribblenauts

2. Super Scribblenauts

1. PONG
YEAAAHHHH MOTHERFUCKER FIRST VIDEO GAME EVER MADE BEST ENDING EVERRRR!!!

So yeah, sorry about the mix-up earlier, but I think now you'll be much more content with this list. This is Guiness, signing off.   read


5:08 PM on 02.09.2012

My thoughts on Psychonauts 2/Double Fine Adventure

Mwahaha no text for you!!! Just a vlog this time. Click the link. I dare you. Cutie.

Psychonauts 2, Double Fine Adventure, and Power to the Players!   read


3:56 PM on 12.13.2011

Kongathon: Killing Lizards for Diseased Children



Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's time for my friends and I to do a charity marathon. We are the BROgamers (an unfortunate name, yes, but the one we've stuck with) and our past accomplishments include a Mariothon, Spyrothon, Dead Space Mini-thon, Megathon (Mega Man), and Crashathon. We are still a small group but we have recently obtained sponsorship from Child's Play and been collecting donations for their cause.

This time around, we have a 48-64 hour time slot to finish DKC1, DKC2, DKC3, DKCR, DK64, and Jungle Beat. There are six players rotating in and out, broadcasting our success and/or impending failure on Ustream. The fun begins Friday the 16th at 4:30 PM Eastern Time.

We may not be a big name group like the SpeedGamers, but we've got a lot of heart and our broadcasts are always a helluva lot of fun. Last time we made Crash Bandicoot cupcakes, wrote songs to our viewers on the spot, and had an epic onscreen battle with a demon cockroach. More hilarity is likely to ensue! So if you're interested, you can check our Facebook page, our Ustream channel, and our website.

Facebook page (even if you don't click like, please send it around to your friends):
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kongathon-for-Childs-Play-Charity/302700269770004

Ustream channel:
http://www.ustream.tv/user/BROgamers

And last, but not least, our website:
http://www.brogamers.webs.com/

We'd really appreciate your support!   read


7:03 PM on 12.04.2011

Tales from Skyrim: I stared Death in the face

As the final hours waned before the clock hit midnight signaling the start of a new week and a new "Bloggers Wanted" prompt, I slammed Skyrim into my PS3 and started wandering the snowy plains looking for some sort of crazy glitch or adventure that I could claim for my own. What I got was rather bland. It was as if the game was mocking me. I encountered a few elk, some wolves--and honestly I've reached a point that I assume many of you have as well where I don't even bother to loot wolf corpses anymore--and one Spriggan. I started to realize that perhaps that crazy moment just wasn't going to come.

I thought to myself... maybe I can just make something up? I came up with this whole story about how I initiated a dragon battle, climbed up to some ledge but fell off onto the dragon's back and rode it around in circles... yeah, it's a shitty story with plenty of holes and peppered with filthy lies. I knew I wanted to tell the truth. Maybe the time I climbed that mountain just by spamming the jump button up a slope of at least 80 degrees? No, anybody who played Oblivion probably knows that trick by now. I lost hope of anything, finally realizing that perhaps I'm just a really uninteresting Skyrim player.

Then it happened.

I saw a sabre tooth tiger in the distance. I crouched and shot it with an arrow. Got my sneak attack bonus, but that only brought its health down about a quarter. I got about two more shots in before it reached me. I drew my sword taking pitiful swipes at it. Not like the tiger was doing much damage to me anyways. Slash, slash, slash, it wasn't intense or entertaining combat, it was more like a chore. R1, R1, R1. And then something strange happened.

My character sheathed his sword without a button press to prompt it. My HUD went blank. The cat stopped attacking. All that was left was my line of sight--I couldn't pause, I couldn't open my inventory--it was just me and the cat. Staring. At first I thought the game froze. Like the patch did more damage than it did good... but I decided to wait it out before I rage quit.

After a second of staring I started to think. You see, my character is a Khajiit. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Elder Scrolls (you know, those three of you who have an account on here because you thought it was a flash gaming website) Khajiit's are cat-people. In the context of the game, they're from the region of Elsweyr which has been invaded by the Dominion (evil communist elves). Their people have faced hard times. I sympathize with them. I don't like to fight my own people. Of course, I understand I can't just run from every fight, but I always feel guilty killing a fellow Khajiit. So bad, in fact, that I always leave money or valuable items on their corpses to repent.

When it came to the sabre tooth tigers, I had never thought of them in the same way. But technically, we're both felines. The only difference is that I walk on two legs, I have opposable thumbs, I can speak, and I can use magic. Okay so there's a lot of differences. But looking at that tiger in that moment, I saw his face and how similar it was to my character's.

We were locked in a staring contest. And let's face it, staring contests are reserved for people who are bored, too scared to fight, or respect each other too much to engage in any other sort of conflict. I felt as if it was the third one. I stared at the tiger, and it stared back. And then--the tiger fell over, limp. My character drew his sword again and I went on my way. But not before I left behind some amethyst on its body.

I'm pretty sure I know what happened. The game triggered an autokill scenario, but it couldn't quite process the animation so it just left both of us standing blankly until the game told the tiger to die. Regardless, the moment impacted me pretty deeply. I mean how many people can have a staring contest with a sabre tooth tiger where the prize is being allowed to keep your life? I stared Death in the face and won. But like people who flatline and make a miraculous comeback on the operating table, I came out of this life-locked situation with a new lease on my in-game life. It's about respect, and that's all it is.   read


9:34 PM on 09.26.2011

Obscurity: A Tough Scale



You want to know some games I think are obscure? Katamari Damacy. ICO. Gitaroo Man. Brave Fencer: Musashi. Tomba. Deadly Premonition. Zack and Wiki. Dog's Life. The list goes on and on and on, but you know what--you all probably know those games. Everyone on this site has probably played through Katamari Damacy at least 20 times. Same with ICO. And everyone HAS to be familiar with Deadly Premonition by now.

I can at least proudly say that I picked up 6 of those games that I mentioned without having ever visited this site, but my point is this: These games are obscure to the average gamer, but not necessarily to the "hardcore" or "well-rounded" gamer. I was having trouble at first trying to decide what game I should pick to write about for this blog. I went through Tonic Trouble, Rocket: Robot on Wheels, No One Can Stop Mr. Domino, Chulip, etc... but I realized that if even one person leaves a comment saying "Oh I've played that" or, more drastically, "Hey bro, everybody's played that game" then it completely derails the entire blog post.

I'm not ashamed to admit that most of the interesting new games I hear about, I hear about on Destructoid. Hell, I can't just scan Wikipedia pages for cool-sounding titles for hours, I have school to worry about. That does, however, mean that I can't bring up games like Tower of Heaven, Deadly Premonition, or Killer7 without a swath of people telling me that those games are too mainstream to be considered obscure anymore. (Ladies and gentlemen, the hipsters of the world!)

Now I'm gonna shift gears for a moment to identify a problem I have with the split between indie and mainstream. Neither is inherently better than the other. Surely, they can be for different crowds OR people can enjoy bits of both. But it's like indie has suddenly become a dirty word. You can't say "indie rock" anymore, you have identify it in way too specific terms like "garage surf punk" so that people don't identify you as a hipster. And personally, I think the word hipster is the most horribly abused slang words in our vocabulary. When you think hipster, you think of a person who is deeply invested in the indie scene who has pretentious opinions about how what they like is better than what you like. The term is spreading to effect people who really don't fit the bill at all. Like my brother. He wears skinny jeans, thick-rimmed glasses, and has natural red hair. When you look at him, by Internet definition he would be a hipster. But he's one of the least pretentious people and even though he dabbles with indie stuff, he very much likes mainstream stuff too.



I became passionate about this subject when I read some of the comments underneath the "Indie Game: The Movie" trailer on youtube. For every objective statement saying "This looks like it could be interesting," there were probably 2 or 3 in response saying "Who plays this siht platformers are crap graphics look dum HAHA have fun stoopid neckbeard devs being hipsters". Fucking come on, already! They're just developing games for personal expression and for others to enjoy.

Hipsters, by the actual definition, really do deserve the crap they get. They constantly look for stuff that is completely unknown and get offended whenever anyone else has heard of it. I look for lesser known stuff, I'll admit that much, but it's because I like the experience of discovering something new. Then I share them with my friends to see if they like them. If they don't, then I don't push the matter.

My local Play N Trade had a sale recently--I stuffed about 25 PS2 games into a black bag and paid $30 for all of them. In the bag there were games like Shadow the Hedgehog, The Godfather, Red Dead Revolver, and other big (or at least recognizable) titles. Then I just looked for whatever else on the shelf looked interesting, and I picked out games like Metropolismania, Cold Winter, Th3 Plan, and Rygar. Whenever I reach them on my backlog I will play through them and develop an opinion on them, just like any other game. If I like them, I'll let my friends borrow them. More often than not, they have never heard of the games I send their way.



That's what I think obscurity is all about: sharing enjoyable experiences with the people you think would not typically get the chance to. For instance, I introduced one of my best friends to Katamari Damacy and the first thing he said to me after touching the controls was "I didn't know games like this existed". And for a person who grew up on Call of Duty and Halo, it has now become his favorite game series. Similarly, my brother shares obscure movies (Big Man Japan) and music (Jay Reatard) with me since he knows that movie-watching and music-hunting are not big hobbies of mine.

So no offense, but if you comment saying "You should try out Game A and Game B because they're just like Game C, but more obscure" then I will probably shrug it off. Trust me, I know what I'm doing as a gamer and I'll continue to find my own interests. Now if you have suggestions on movies, books, music, then go ahead and mention those. I'm open, and I'm objective.   read


5:53 PM on 07.25.2011

Obligatory advertisement for my charity game marathon



I know you don't have much reason to shell out any time or money on a fairly small-scale game marathon, but with that upcoming bill that may challenge our rights to have marathons like this, I think it's ever more important that even the "little guys" get some support. That being said, if you're interested in watching or reading, all the information you could possible want is below.

Here we are to celebrate the 5th BROgamers marathon, and the second to sponsor the Child's Play Charity: Yes, the Crash-a-Thon 48-hour game quest begins tomorrow (7/26) at noon. This event is also monumental as it is the first event to be listed on this dedicated website, www.brogamers.webs.com.

We will be playing through the original 3 Crash Bandicoot games on the PS1 to 100%. If we finish in time, we may have a bonus for our viewers! You can watch the event either on our website or on our Ustream channel, but if you intend to donate, you'll need to come to the website to do so.

We fully encourage leaving comments one either our website, our facebook event page, or chatting with us on our Ustream channel (http://www.ustream.tv/channel/dead-space-mini-thon). The URL may be misleading since it mentions Dead Space, but that's just because we renamed the event.

Our goal for this event is set pretty low at $50. We're hoping that this is our chance to generate some steam and notability in both the gaming community and with charity organizations. Please support us in any way you can.

Again the three sites are:
www.brogamers.webs.com
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/dead-space-mini-thon
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=261202600563362   read


11:29 PM on 07.18.2011

Boycotting, and what else is wrong with gamers

Recently, Mega Man Legends 3 was officially cancelled in news that really shouldn't shock anyone. Our first indication was Inafune's departure. That was basically the death of Mega Man, no matter what Capcom tries to say. The multiple series just lost their sense of direction I suppose. Then we heard the news that the game would only be released if the demo was downloaded enough to make it worth finishing the project. I think I speak for myself, as well as many others, that I was counting on the people who already owned 3DS's to take this opportunity so that the rest of us could buy a 3DS and the full game when it came out. But the problem there is that the 3DS has had really shitty sales, and with those sales numbers, I don't think Capcom could count on enough people downloading the demo anyway. This game was basically doomed. I'm sorry for those of you that didn't realize this earlier, because it looked like it could have been a helluva good game.

Now I've seen a lot of people saying "well there goes my 3DS purchase"... okay, well I can't argue there. At least for a while, the 3DS isn't going to see a huge boom in its library. Eventually we'll get Kid Icarus, Mario, Luigi's Mansion 2, MGS3D etc to increase the overall sales, but at this point in time, why bother getting one?

The other thing people have been saying is "OH HELLNO I'M BOYCOTTING CAPCOM"... but why exactly? For not releasing one game? Games get cancelled all the time, and this isn't even an incredibly high profile game. And it's not like they're just denying it to NA... the game is fully cancelled. Done. Vamoosh. Gone. This is an ex-game. Since the demo was never actually released, who's to say it was actually good? It may have LOOKED great... but the end result could have been entirely different. The one thing that's for sure is that work was, in fact, done on the game. There's proof of that. Which means Capcom didn't just announce it to shit on the consumers. It announced the game, spent time and resources on it, and then had to dump it. It made no profit at all. Yeah consumer, YOU are the one who lost here. /sarcasm

I'd be more likely to boycott NoA before I boycott Capcom. And that's saying something, since those who know me know that I defend NoA all the time. I also defended Sony during the PSN crisis. You know why I defend these companies? Cause even despite some of their questionable business decisions, many of the games they put out are really good. So why are these the companies that get dumped on at every turn? There are other companies a lot more deserving of crap than them. Like Lionhead or Sonic Team... they consistently put out low quality games, but when they do it gamers just concede "Oh Molyneux. You so Molyneux." Why doesn't he get as much crap for charging $60 for the same medieval morality sim over and over again while people make a big deal about having to pay for new characters in MvC3? I'll back down for a second... Capcom does have a habit of releasing the same game multiple times. But at least they don't sugarcoat it. Street Fighter IV may have too many iterations, but at least they're all named Street Fighter IV so you're not tricked into feeling like you need to buy more than one.

The problem with gamers is that they are vicious and out for blood wherever they can draw it. I don't know what makes us so angry and volatile, but we are. And for all the wrong reasons. Valve is amazing to their customers. But their customers would not have you think so. When L4D2 was announced, there were calls of "OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!". When Portal 2 was announced before Half-Life 3, it was like they had signed their own death warrants. When Portal 2 was released, some purists pissed in their hair and called it shit.

I read one blog post about the subject comparing the Mega Man Legends 3 scenario to a child who is given an Xbox 360 box for Christmas and upon opening it realizes there is only a sweater inside. The child breaks down into tears because of it. Of course, in this scenario is suggests that the "fans" are nothing more than crying children... because that's all they really are. They're getting all butthurt because somebody dangled something shiny in front of their faces and then pulled it away.

If you don't like a developer, great. Don't buy their games. You don't have to, that's the funny thing. So what if Resident Evil 3DS has one save slot? Don't buy the game if you don't support that. So what if the new Devil May Cry has Dante with an emo design? Well for one thing, if that bothers you then you're really pretentious, but if it does, then just don't fucking buy it. But it gets really annoying to fans of a developer when other gamers who claim themselves to be "hardcore fans" or "lifelong fans" or whatever get their over-entitled panties in a bunch because somebody didn't do something just the way they like it. Movies are cancelled all the time and movie-lovers accept it maturely.

Us, as gamers, need to get our act together or else we'll never actually be taken seriously.   read


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