I get it. You like video games and sports are lame. Sometimes we have to do things that we otherwise wouldn't consider. Like spending money on games for other people around Christmas, informing a girl of all the diseases your carrying after an evening of unprotected (and awesome!) sex, or grocery shopping. Fuck grocery shopping.
Well this Sunday is one of those times. It's what separates us from the rest of the world. It's why when they say football, and you see a skinny fruit-cake kicking a ball around, you just start laughing. You see that thing between your legs? Well if it twitches every time you see a picture of Megan Fox, guess what? Your obligated to watch the game on Sunday. If it twitches every time you see a picture of Brad Pitt, you still have to watch the game on Sunday, but big men in tight pants should be enough to hold your attention anyway.
Here's a few helpful hints to get you through the day:
1 - Drink.
Its superbowl fucking sunday. you should not be at home. if you are at home, your friends should be coming over. if your only concept of friends is a list of people on your xbox, well then clearly your doing it wrong and have bigger issues at hand. super bowl sunday is like mardi gras, without tits and beads (unless you watch the game at your local strip club, in which case, a winner is you).
the typical beverage of choice is beer. i recommend going with something familiar, because you should be drinking a lot of it. now is not the time for magic hat #9. your beer should come in cans, so it can be placed in a helmet that rests atop your head gloriously (also useful when gaming).
2 - Eat.
Super Bowl food is awesome. You get chips, lots of glorious chips. You get sandwiches so long, that it typically takes two grown men to carry them into the house. You get hot wings! If your a vegetarian, well i guess there's the carrots and celery that come with the wings. Just substitute all the good food with more beer, and your heading down the right track.
You might get to see a nipple. You never know! Granted, they're kinda oldish nipples, and they adorn odd jewelery, but boobs are boobs. Be on high alert.
5 - Profanity!
As gamers, we often get frustrated. I have a theory that gamers are some of the most eloquent of folks when working with profanity. Find out which team your buddies are supporting, and demonstrate your trash talking superiority.
See thats not so bad. A few hours out of your life once a year, and you get to bond with family, and bro's alike. Hell, you might even meet a girl. Girls that like football tend to be competitive. Girls that have a competitive nature tend to enjoy playing video games (even if they won't admit it, but fire up wii bowling and she'll show you whats up). Head out. Eat, drink and be profane. Your games will still be there when your done.
Snowboarding is very near and dear to me. I worked in the industry for over 10 years, and despite not getting the 50 days a season i used to, i still head to the mountains every chance I get. With Amped 3 being the only viable snowboard title for this generation up to this point, i was eager to get my mittens on Shuan White. It was touted as being a more realistic experience than the SSX series, and comparisons to the realism of Skate were thrown around when the game was receiving press. Consider my interest piqued.
The game delivers a hand full of mountains which you can explore at your leisure, or you can complete challenges given to you by the flying tomato himself. While its nice to be able to do all the tricks right out of the gate, and head anywhere you want, you will need to play the career aspect in order to unlock new boards (which increase player stats), or to unlock special 'focus' powers. Herein lies the problem. The career challenges are lamer than Nick Cages acting (not the bees!). 'Hey, i'm off to europe, but before i go, i need you to find me 12 euro's', informs Mr Tomato. So you're off collecting, in a snowboard game. Fun stuff. If you like tedious, boring exploration, and a GPS system that really doesn't give you much of a clue as to where your heading. On numerous occasions, i find myself riding past the euros, having to get off my board and walk in the direction of the euro, only to encounter a cliff that i can't ascend, or to find that the euro is atop some ridiculous structure that's only accessible from a certain hit on the mountain. Collecting, in a snowboarding game, lame. No problem, i take my lumps, find the miserable fucking euros, and once again run into the burton/taget branded tomato. 'Hey, thankns for the euros. I'm off to Japan, can you find me some Yen?'. No, no mr white, i can't. Get fucked. This is the lamest career mode ever.
As for the rest of the game, its ok. The controls do work, but the boards they start you off with aren't really powerful enough to take advantage of the mountains. As mentioned earlier, i am probably not going to delve back into the realm of collecting foreign currency. The game looks pretty good sitting still, but some of the trick animations, especially if you go from an air to a rail can be a bit sketchy. I also remember reading that the game would cater to all riding styles. I'm a big fan of the backcountry, and while i can ride there, there is nothing added to the gameplay to make it rewarding. There is the concept of a near miss, for people taking clean adventurous lines through trees, but the feeling of carving does not translate to the gameplay. I was hoping the trigger buttons would be for edging, recreating the feeling of picking a line and having to manage getting from edge to edge cleanly to cut up the woods, but this was not the case. Movement was still controlled by the analogue sticks, and lets just say its far from exciting.
Now here's the kicker. THE LOADING SCREEN IS MORE FUN THEN THE ACTUAL GAME. Yeah, you read that right, this is the first time i've had more fun watching the game load then actually playing it. during the load screen, you have control of your rider in an endless superpipe. the controls work perfectly for halfpipe riding, and its actually a ton of fun. the mechanics just don't translate well to riding the rest of the mountain. not sure where ubi dropped the ball on this one, but consider it dropped. Well, at least there's Stoked in a few weeks, we'll hope for the best.
Hey, you read the title, you clicked the post. I love skate. They could have put a turd on trucks and chances are, i'd be pretty psyched. Thankfully, this game is not a turd on trucks. Over the weekend, i can safely say among all my incomplete retail titles, nothing got as much attention as this demo, despite its hair pullingly short time restraint.
The demo is pretty good stuff, quickly introducing you to the world of skate, and showing off 2 of the new mechanics that the people have been clamoring for. The first you experience, is life off the board. I've heard people complain that walking is 'clunky'. Really? I can go up the stairs, you know what i do when i get up the stairs? I get back on my board (the game is called skate, not walk. If i wanted to play a clunky version of walk, i'd throw Mirror's Edge back in). The mechanic does what it promises, and outside of running up a flight of stairs to retry a rail, i don't see myself using this feature a lot, but its there and it works.
The second new mechanic that the demo introduces is the ability to reposition objects. The area provided for the demo is not the greatest for this mechanic. Sure there's a rail and a few kickers that can be repositioned, and it works as promised. There just wasn't any rearranging that really got me excited. What can you do? I'm sure there are parts of San Vanelona that are really just put this mechanic to good use, and i look forward to exploring it more.
Then there are a few more new features, that are not really introduced through the tutorials, but a little time in the trick list, and there available to you. The first was inverts. If your approaching the top of something with some vert, hold the RB and a direction, and your doing inverts. Honestly, i've never been a huge fan, especially when there are epic grinds and monster airs to pull, but this integrates flawlessly with the existing controls. Takes nothing away, adds something new, its a winner in my book. If your trying to get your speed up on a half pipe, its a nice little variation you can throw in just for kicks.
Also new to the fold is the somewhat selective control over the behavior of your legs, with respect to cruising, popping ollies, landing, etc.This is when the game gets to be quite a bit of fun. Though not easy to pull of, we can finally do some no complies, boneless, fastplants, etc. I had a ton of fun with this. Though maybe not as rewarding as popping a huge trick, riding up a fun box and fast planting off the top is just good times. Basically, you crack your ollie, grab, remove a foot by holding the A/X button and your player will land on his foot and shove off, rather than land directly on the board. It looks cool, feels cool, and its a great way to stay in shape. If your riding around, and charge the A/X buttons simultaneously, you'll charge up for a hippie-jump, which is basically just hopping off the board, while the board continues to roll. The timing is tricky, but watching your board glide under a rail while you sail over it is very satisfying.
The new play mechanics really pay off, and i look forward to seeing what the rest of the city has to bring to the table. I'm not too psyched about having to 'unlock' parts of the city to make it skate-friendly, but hey, blackbox hasn't let me down yet. Fingers crossed.
For other action sports fanatics, we are getting stoked 1 day before Skate2. Hopefully it's better than Shaun White, b/c i'm itching for a quality snowboard title.
The best games don't always have to have epic stories, gigantic explosions, and glorious HD graphics. Sometimes the best games are the ones that are easy to pick up, quick to learn, and difficult to master. Puzzlers have always been one of my favorite genres, especially when time is a factor, and this game does it better than most. When i purchased my first PSX, i threw all my money down on the console, and was left to twiddle with the demo disc packaged with the console for longer than i wanted to, fortunately, there were some serious winners on the disc, and IQ stood above the rest.
Premise is simple, there is a grid. A bunch of blocks start at one end and start rolling toward the other. These blocks can be captured by marking a square on the grid, and then deselecting it at the appropriate time. There are some special cubes thrown into the mix, like forbidden (black) cubes, which are not to be captured, as well as green cubes, which when trapped, will capture all cubes surrounding the spot on the grid which it occupied. the kicker is, that all green cubes must be initiated at the same time. sounds simple, but like all the best games, the difficulty really ramps up.
there are other subtleties, like rewarding a player with a perfect round (all grey and green cubes captured, while allowing forbidden cubes to pass) will increase the length of the grid by one row. you are allowed to miss a certain number of cubes, but when that allotment has been exceeded, the last row of the grid will begin to fall off. the game ends when the player falls off the grid. at the end of each round you are given a numeric score which is than translated to an IQ.
the game is great. as you get familiar, rather than just capture the cubes, you try to grab them all in as few manuvers as possible. perfect rounds are incredibly rewarding. this game is due for a revival, the psp's library is scarce, and this is one of those titles that screams portability. i guess not too many copies were produced, b/c its currently fetching around $80 on ebay. the perfect game to make your legs fall asleep on the toilet.
aside from dyslexia, the arrival of the NXE and netflix paints a promising future for xbox 360 owners. in a recent article on Gizmodo, Shane Kim makes mention of wanting to bring Hulu to Xbox Live. Makes sense to me, Hulu gets more revenue through advertising, and Xbox Live has one spiffy free media player. I'm hooked on Hulu since losing my DVR, it's a great way to catch up on shows you've missed with minimal advertisements, for free. Kim goes on about how the XNE experience is about bringing fleshed out services to the console's OS, not not simply 'dropping in a browser' and seeing what works.
here's what would make me a happy 360 owner.
Pandora for live. Pandora changed the way i listen to music. No longer do i listen to albums. I just plug in a band i wanna listen to, and they provide me with hours of epic new music, some of which i never heard before. i loves it. i'd love it on my 360. i'd really love to be able to stream my pandora playlists as the soundtrack to games that allow for custom soundtracks. make it happen.
YouTube not simply because i want more videos, but b/c it makes sense. if you could record and upload videos directly to youtube from your 360, i'm sure Vision Cam sales would go up substantially. As would terrible videos of people cursing out newbs for t-bagging them relentlessly on Halo. but this isn't from a quality standpoint as much as practicality.
Twitter ever since XNE was launched, gamertag motto's appear to be changing more frequently. maybe its the cute text bubbles over the avatar. who knows? but give the users the ability to link twitter to their avatar. b/c nothing is more important than the last time you pooped, or how you cut your sandwiches.
Facebook I enjoy kongregate's facebook app, it shows my friends what i'm playing right on my wall. why not up the ante and have xbox live and facebook interact? Better yet, recommend people i may know directly from live and let me friend them.