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9:47 PM on 01.23.2008

No Country for Old Arcades

Moments after being handed my first set of car keys, I began a ritual that would be
repeated multiple times each week for nearly a decade now. Id grab my cup full of tokens,
the latest Super Eurobeat release (it being the style at the time) and proceed to tear
through the windy hillside road that exits Livermore, kick the Nissan over four lanes and
blaze down the freeway. Thirty-five miles and forty minutes later, Id find myself at
Sunnyvale Golfland: the arcade mecca of Northern California.

Id like to think that like most good anti-social gamers, I spent the majority of my childhood
in an arcade, but talking to a lot of folks I know within the industry, that doesnt seem to be
the case. When I speak of arcades now, in the present tense, I get confused stares and
wide-eyed wonder.

There are still arcades?

The arcade industry, if we can still call it one, is hurting. No doubt about it. All the
advantages that kept us coming to them up until the 90s are gone, their technological edge
having withered. For the young gamers of today, there seems to be little, if any point to
venture into one of these dungeons of videogames and thats a shame. Ten years from now
there may not even be any arcades to cry for.

While putting together my current feature,
No Country for Old Arcades,
two arcades were shut down across two different states. If not now, well never have a
chance to tell their stories.

From now until whenever Im actually stopped, Ill be traveling around the country in search
for the last great arcades in America. Interviewing the operators, talking with the players
and attempting to give a voice to a piece of our culture that is slowly and very surely,
fading away.

If you have some spots in mind, Im all ears. I have some truly incredible folks
already lending me a hand such as Eddie from
Bemanistyle and Seth from
Capcom, but any input is good input. Already this
feature is starting to gain a life of its own and snowballing into something truly special.   read

6:44 PM on 12.19.2007

The Winter Cometh and the Winter Taketh

It's cold, grey and really ****ty in general. Winter is here and to me that only means one thing.


Fiona Apple. And lots of it.

Speaking of feeling cold, grey and ****ty in general, how about that Duke Nukem Forever trailer, eh? I'm with Tiff on this one, but my fascination with this game will never end! It even owes me five bucks! Back in the 90's, I walked into my local Software Etc and put down a pre-order for what was sure to be the hit of the holiday season, Duke Nukem Forever.

Yes, I had to go to Software Etc, which is what they called GameStop in those days, to pre-order the game. So I tied a Pocket Pikachu to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now to pre-order the game it cost $5 dollars, and in those days, $5 dollar bills had pictures of bumblebees on them! Now where were we? Oh ya.. The important thing was that I had a Pocket Pikachu on my belt.

Three or four years later, that Software Etc closed down and with it, my bumblebee money. The moral of the story is to not live in the days prior to the Internet. You'll lose all your bumblebees.   read

2:27 PM on 12.17.2007

GameTap Food Porn

I come back in on a Monday morning and what am I craving? None other than the officially unofficial GameTap taco truck! Oh sweet Jesus what I would I not do for a round of carnitas and cheese!

Behold! A mobile feast of ethnic proportions! Is a man not entitled to a dollar taco? No, says the man in the skyscraper, it belongs to the fourth meal.

This is what four tacos with cheese look like. Two of these actually came wrapped in three tortillas! That's my favorite part!

The games industry is hard at work! We read the Internet there so that you don't have to read the Internet here!   read

11:20 PM on 12.15.2007

Shame Unlike Anything

What's more shameful than hanging out with yourself on a Saturday night while playing
guitar and vocals at the same time in Rock Band? Having not just one of your instruments
fail upon starting, but two instruments find their way to an early grave. Sweet jesus!

So here I was, locked up in the house and hyped up on Vitamin Water, when I felt the
sudden urge to rock. Maybe it was knowing that I could be in the city right now watching
some local punk rock, or the Flight of the Conchords I was watching on YouTube, but I
wanted to get up and do something ridiculous.

I push the drums aside and make way for the microphone stand (LOL). I strap on the
guitar, pick "Little Sister" by Queens of the Stone Age (Expert guitar, Medium Vocals even!)
and I get about ten notes in before I realize that the strumbar on my guitar has died.


So I pause, fiddle with it for a few moments before trying again. Upon pausing the game, a
warning pops up. The controller that's in charge of my microphone has run out of battery.
Why does Rock Band hate me so much?

In related news, I swung by EA's campus earlier this week to play the game on PS2. The
word is out on the (lack of) features, but damn does their setup always seem to impress

I shall retire to bed with a wired controller, a bottle of something and my second
playthrough of Mass Effect. I'd kill for a Wrex plushie.   read

4:41 PM on 12.11.2007

Holiday Swag (UPDATED: Now with cheese!)

I'm gnawing on a block of cheese that was sent to us by Square-Enix. I'm contributing to the downfall of games journalarism!

Also: Wideload stopped by today and with them came awesome pins.

That's all for now. Sorry for the lack of updates but things have been crazy!

Update: Check out that delicious Square-Enix cheese!


1:57 PM on 11.19.2007

It's time to Bubble Bobble

Do you enjoy Bubble Bobble? Do you feel as though you possess what the kids refer to as, "mad skills?" Would you like to receive a prize for said skills? Splendid! Because you'll have until midnight tonight (EST) to prove yourself in the first ever GameTap leaderboard challenge!

The rules are simple and you don't have to be a subscriber. You just have to sign up, download the client and play you some Bubble Bobble, for free. So go compete and claim honor in the name of Destructoid! That way I could interview you and ask, "How did you do it?"

And you could respond, "Cocks."

Tomorrow: Rock Band. My house has yet to claim a band name, but we're down to the finalists. Some of the raunchy ones got cut, but I'll be sure to clue you in come decision time and pass on the dirtier ones ;)   read

12:35 PM on 11.09.2007

Never Forget

1:00 AM on 11.05.2007


Holy cripes on toast! We just picked up a 60" Sony Bravia today! All because of Rock Band! Exclamation points!

After attending Chris Kohler's Friday night jam session, Shelby and I were driving back to our side of the Bay when she asked the most curious of questions.

"How are people without a widescreen TV supposed to play Rock Band?" I turned to her and I said, "I don't plan on finding out."

So we did the research, scoped out some deals and walked away with a disgustingly huge set today. I'd share some pictures but I realized that I'm not very good at taking television pictures. I've seen pictures from other folks who own this set that make everything look completely surreal, yet mine come out looking like a high score shot from a 1980's Nintendo Power. Bah!

We're also keeping this secret from our roommate who comes back from Japan next week. He's going to totally freak out.   read

10:43 PM on 11.02.2007

Rock Band: The Liveblog

I'm currently at Chris Kohler's place and damn it, we're having a Rock Band Party.

Check out the Live Blog here!   read

1:48 PM on 11.01.2007

Closing It Out

With the start of November comes the last Holiday push of gaming goodness. Here at the GameTap office we're positively buried in titles to cover, review and generally plow through in time for vacation. And this got me thinking ... what does my shopping list look like for the rest of the year? Should my wallet be scared?

Must Buys

Rock Band - There's not a day that goes by where someone doesn't say to me, "Man. I can't ****ing wait until Rock Band comes out." For that matter, not a day goes by where I'm not playing a game and I think to myself, "I'd rather be playing Rock Band." It's the default game of the year.

Mass Effect - Oh, Bioware. How much do I adore thee? You know a game is awesome when trailers of the conversation system make you squeal like a tiny girl. I'm a bit weary of the combat, but there's no way that I'm not picking this up ASAP. Unfortunately, it comes out the same week as Rock Band, so we'll see how that goes.

Sam & Max Season 2 - Viral marketer! Hey, not only is Sam & Max the only true episodic game out there, but it also supplied the best adventure gaming of the year. Season 2 starts next week and while this is technically free for GameTap users, I'll file this under time. Wink.

Fire Pro Wrestling Returns - It's time to remember the good ol' days of wrestling. You know, like a year ago when I wasn't ashamed to still be watching it! My roommate is a huge wrestling fanatic and he's going to freak out when he sees all the options in this one.

Second Guessing

Viva Pinata PC - My girlfriend and I are huge fans of Viva Pinata, but the PC version may get a pass from us. Not only would we miss out on the achievements (we're a Vista-free household ... and I'm Windows-free!), but the lack of new content is discouraging. Sure, there's new pinata to find, but we were hoping for the missing online component to finally show up.

Super Mario Galaxy - Shock and omg! After spending an hour with Galaxy, I liked what I played but I wasn't freaking out like some other folks I know. It was probably the tacked-on Wii functions that killed it for me, but I digress. I'll pick it up eventually, but maybe not this year.

Contra 4 - I've heard nothing but good things about this DS sequel, but I just haven't had the time to pick up my DS. If I'm out, I'm either working or really busy. If I'm on the road, I'm the one driving and when I'm home, I don't want to stare into a DS. Sigh!

Missing in Action

Call of Duty 4 - I really want this, but I'm just sick of FPS games at the moment. For the rest of the year, really. Maybe by the time Call of Duty 4 Gold Edition or whatever Activision calls it comes out, I'll be ready to take the plunge. Until then, I'll just stick to good ol' fashioned Halo.

Hmm.. It looks like I won't be so poor after all!   read

11:36 PM on 10.30.2007

Hannah Montana: The Review!


Well, here it is. My review of Hannah Montana: Music Jam for the Nintendo DS! When it initially arrived, purple stylus and all, it made for a good laugh. Of course it did. It's Hannah Montana, right?

Which is exactly why I wanted to cover it. Not only because casual games are a $2.25 billion dollar market in itself, but also because the original sold over 500,000 copies on the DS, making it one of the most successful third-party titles that "nobody" played. The truth is that I refuse to sit here and just review all the hardcore fighters and rhythm titles that I'm perfectly suited for, because that puts us in the minority.

At GameTap, we're hitting a much broader range of folks who may not be up to speed on the world of video games. Heck, they may not even want to be up to speed. If that means we're going to cover the likes of Hannah Montana and Avatar: The Last Airbender (no complaints here!), then so be it. At the very least, they're going to get a fair shake.

And quite honestly, I'd rather have experienced the likes of these titles instead of being another finger pointing cynic.   read

2:44 PM on 10.29.2007

A Spliced Up Halloween

Sir Bettenhausen of the EGM clan held his annual Halloween bash this past weekend and as usual, it was the social event of the season. Hey, even Tiff managed to make it! lawl!

My girlfriend and I had this big, elaborate plan for a Bioshock themed party, but unfortunately they fell through. So instead, we loaded up the Zune with hits from the 1940's and went to Shane's as a pair of Thug Splicers.

click to enlarge

Be sure to check out her blog for pictures of her costumes, props and a tale about lame California laws. Enjoy!

[Update] Tiff has more tales of debauchery over at her blog!   read

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