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4:10 PM on 03.16.2010

Because of the Love (Happy Birthday!)

It's been a while since I started reading Destructoid. A little less while since I signed up for an account, and a little less of a while since I started really engaging the community on anything anybody could consider a regular basis.

Now this here is the internet, so there are always going to be elements less than savory. I'm not thrilled with every personality that I run into, to be sure. BUT-- it's a perfectly fair statement that there's a higher frequency of intelligent, awesome, kind, and nifty individuals here on Destructoid than on any other place I've ever spent time online.

From my early intarwubs beginnings on a silly Dragonball RPG forums (where I, incidentally, met the first woman I ever loved), to a blogring I spent scores upon scores of high school hours, to a smattering of forums that never quite stuck, Destructoid is the one that's hooked me best.

The sensibilities of the JOURNALISM, editorials, and features, as well as the personality of most every staffperson helped forge my love of this place.

Some years ago, my friend sent to me a link to Hey Ash Whatcha' Playin's Dark Knight parody. Initially I rolled my eyes (the internet was crazy saturated with Dark Knight guano at the time), but quickly fell for the one-sided verbatim Joker monologue juxtaposed against "real-world" reactions. Thus my love of HAWP was born.

After that, it was but a hop, skip, and a jump to follow the breadcrumbs from HAWP to Anthony Burch to Podtoid to Destructoid at large, a place I can scarcely go even a few hours without checking.

To the site that reshaped my appreciation of video-games.

To the site that promotes and encourages and cares about community just as much in practice as in ideology.

To the site that enthusiastically puts a wikipedia article for "Ekans" on the front page.

To the site that allows anybody and everybody to have a say.

To the site with a schwanky robot dude as the vanguard of its enterprise.

To the site that allows me the idea of occasional, personal purpose and interest beyond just the grind of running a store and keeping my head above water the remainder of the time.

To Destructoid!

The happiest of anniversaries on this, your fourth year.

Now, normally I would adhere to a tradition that dictates I sing to you the song "Happy Birthday to Me" by Bulldog Mansion (as featured in "There She Is!! - Cake Dance"), but I'm currently nowhere near any kind of recording device and won't be for some time. Besides which, I'm all dry in the mouth with a semi-wicked hangover from a late-night marathon of Pure Pwnage, Press "X" to Jason/Shaun, Doctor Who, Community, and God of War III (it was a busy night), not to mention that you already had to sit through my obnoxious renderings of favourite songs from "A Goofy Movie".

That being said, I leave you with this:

[embed]167220:28320[/embed]

-

A-jik nu-wo-it-neun monday
Geu-reo-ge ma-ri-ya tuesday

Cha-ga-un geu-nyeo-bo-da cha-gap-ge
Jam-deun nae-mameul kkam-jjak nola-ge hae-jwo-yo
A-jik eoreol-han geol

Hakkyo-gagi si-reun wednesday
Geuredo ga-yaji thursday

Meong-cheong-hi ha-rul sal-sun eob-jana
Mwon-jin mol-ra-do il-dan ttwi-eo-bwa

It's my birthday
Honja-man-ui firstday
Du-geun-dae-neun nan hwak dalla-jil geo-ya
Neon moreu-gejji-man na dasi tae-eo-na
Neo-e-ge-ro gal geo-ya

Eo-jjeon-ji ga-bbun-han friday
Dat-sae-na gi-da-ryeo saturday
Saturday night fever ra-ji-man
Ma-ttang-ha-ge gal-got-do eob-neun nan

It's my birthday
Honja-man-ui firstday
Du-geun-dae-neun nan hwak dalla-jil geo-ya
Neon moreu-gejji-man na dasi tae-eo-na
Neo-e-ge-ro gal geo-ya

O-neureun neo-wa-wi sweet day baram machi-jin mara-jwo

It's my birthday neo-wa ham-kke
Sweet day uri-deul-wi first day
Ni gyeotte it-neun nae son-eul not-chi-ma
Neol sa-rang-hae birthday
Cheo-eum-i-ya firstday
Du-geun-dae-neun nan hwak dalla-jil geo-ya

Neon moreunda hae-do na o-neul-man-keum-eun
Neo-wa ham-kke hal geo-ya

-

(Direct link to flash animation.)

Love,
Damon   read


12:58 PM on 03.12.2010

Jigglypuff




"Jigglypuff (Purin / プリン) is known as the Balloon Pokémon. Jigglypuff spelled backwards is ffupylggij.

Jigglypuff is shaped like a round ball, with pink skin, large blue or green eyes, catlike ears, and a tuft of fur on its forehead. Its skin is rubbery and stretchy. It can inflate its body like a balloon (usually when it becomes angry; this is accompanied by a distinctive "honk" sound), or flatten its body. An exact limit to the size it can grow to in this manner is unknown.

Jigglypuff are characterized by putting their enemies to sleep by singing a lullaby. Before beginning to sing, they mesmerize the opponent with their soft, glowing eyes, and if they inflate themselves, they can sing for longer periods of time. They can easily adjust the wavelength of their voices to that of the brain waves of a sleeping being, allowing for their pleasing melody to put its audience to sleep. They sing without pausing to take a breath, so if the opponent is resistant to sleeping, they potentially run out of air.

In the Pokémon anime series, Jigglypuff is a recurring character who aspires to be a great singer after the inspiration of Ash and company. Unfortunately, every potential audience falls asleep before the song finishes. Jigglypuff does not usually choose an appropriate time to sing and has been a hazard many times. Because of this, Ash and his companions often find themselves running away from Jigglypuff. It keeps a black marker, its "microphone," and uses it to scribble on anyone who dares to fall asleep while it's performing."





Here at Game On!, we have something of a tradition: if you're going to play here regularly and be "one of the guys", then you're likely to end up with a Pokemon name. When you join "Team Pokemon", whichever Pokemon you choose to identify with is, naturally, entirely up to you (so long as it's not already taken).

One of my best friends is Magikarp, and my ex-lovely ladyfriend made a most delightful Psyduck.

I - the loquacious, drama queen, talks-at-people-whether-they-care-or-not, loves-the-spotlight-and-stage, lullaby-singing, lethargy-inducing, moody, pink grumpkus - am, of course, Jigglypuff.

My battle cry of "PUFF~" will forever echo through these halls.   read


12:46 PM on 03.07.2010

PAX East Contest: It's the Goof Boy!

Well, it's a little last-minute, but here's my entry. It was kinda' hard to get some of this filmed during daylight/business hours, so please excuse the quick cuts during some of my speechhavings. Also, I didn't really actively take note of that "blue" language until I'd already rendered and uploaded the video, so hopefully a few curses aren't considered TOO NSFW.

Basically, what you're about to watch is broken into roughly two halves: an arbitrarily-decided upon number (five, I think) of nonsensical reasons why I should go to PAX East, followed by a somewhat somber account of straight talk and how much it would mean to me. For those of you that can stomach the latter half, there's an additional morsel of funny as a reward near the end.

Thanks! Please send me to PAX please, thank you, please!

[embed]166132:28056[/embed]   read


5:09 PM on 02.22.2010

Love, Hate, and Irreconciliation





Love:

You see two Engineers, wrenching away at strategically placed sentries and dispensers. A Heavy lingers nearby to slow any oncoming waves of offense, and a Pyro flits about like the spastic arsonist he is, just daring any wannabe sentry-sapper to try and sneak his way in. After that, it's but a straight shot to their intel, and everybody else is too preoccupied dicking around and killing eachother somewhere in the middle of the map to be concerned with the real axis of action: a well-defended choke point.

Both teams already have two points, so this has to be done surgically. Currently playing a Medic, you're looking for every possible opportunity to heal somebody lesser than full, just to get that overcharge up a little faster than otherwise. A Sniper's running with you, as are a Spy, a Heavy, and a Scout. There's no immediate threat, and therefore no immediate hurry. The plan of action seems clear:

The Scout will stay away from danger as the Sniper takes out the enemy firestarter, thus allowing the Spy to sneak ahead and sap the sentries; your cue to uber the Heavy and press forward while the Sniper and Scout help you to chip damage from a distance.

Pyro down. Heavy down. Sentries down. Engies down.

Time for the Scout to do his thing and relay that intel as far as he can, the rest of your ad hoc squad covering his everywhere.



Hate:

How it really happens.

The Heavy, for reasons unknown, decides to run ahead and gets a flare in his face before you finish charging your uber. Not wanting to let the opportunity slip away, you panic and run forward in an attempt to heal him and pop your charge before you BOTH die. Everything's going nuts, and the Sniper's having a tough time getting a bead on anything at all, so only contributes chipped damage instead of a clean kill. The Spy gets tagged by a stray burst of flame, then pistoled down by Engies; Engies properly conditioned to think “shoot flaming spies what come near our babies”.

You've managed to build your uber and even get it off, but the Pyro's doing such a good job of airblasting you away from your Heavy, it's a game of cat and mouse just to keep him alive. The Scout freaks out and figures that maybe he can forge ahead through the fray, but the sentries just get a fix and send him fifty feet into the air. At this point, you're burned to a crisp while the Heavy and Sniper managed to run away.



Conceptually, I'm crazy about team games. I adore them. The idea of well-coordinated, community-based strategy is just the bees knees as far as I'm concerned. To me, it feels like the genre includes this axiom, this self-evident principle that sometimes the compromise or sacrifice of an individual for the team objective is absolutely the way to go.

Unfortunately, it doesn't feel like everybody else finds that as self-evident as I do.





Love:

You see Nick, currently leading in kills and regularly taking point (far ahead of everyone else), round a corner and start just down a hall only to get surprised by a Boomer and accidentally shotgun the thing all over himself with two waves of zombies eagerly approaching the blind victim. Immediately switching to your molotov cocktail, you throw it down a side hall, successfully staying half of the zombie hordes with a curtain of fire, allowing Nick to worry only about his front, while you take care of what he can't see.



Hate:

Nick running wildly about and eventually into the fire that you just threw in order to help him out.



In practice, I've found people to be very short-sighted, self-indulgent, and inevitably impulsive, all leading to a lack of coordination and, oftentimes, defeat. This is not to suggest that they're dumb or lack talent. Hell, most of the people I've ever played any kind of cooperative game with seem to be leagues ahead of me in terms of skill. Yet they always seem to be far more concerned with the points they've achieved, themselves, in game, regardless of whether or not it contributed to the end goal.

I've got a secret for you: point tallies are not an accurate assessment of how much you contributed to the overall shape or victory conditions of the game. You're not playing free-for-all in Call of Duty 4 or vying for a top score in Galaga.

A series of crucial moments and critical decisions are what determine whether or not your team achieves victory or accept defeat, and there's no point value assigned to simply noticing a Spy just before he saps your defenses, or executing an ubercharge just in the nick of time. These opportunities can be invaluable when taken, and ruinous when missed.

Individual prowess is certainly nothing to shy away from, and there's nothing unreasonable about wanting to be the best at what you do, or being the one to cap the point or get the killing shot. But it doesn't take much for one bad or selfish call to screw things up for everyone.

No matter how awesome you are, sometimes you can just be a jerk that throws the game in somebody else's favour, and that's just not what cooperative multiplayer is about.





Love:

Three of your teammates are attempting to chase down two champions that have just retreated from your base. You carefully take aim with Ashe's Crystal Arrow and fire it straight down the lane at the pursued, poised to stun one and slow the other, allowing your team to clean up the kills and strike a much-needed blow to some much-deserving players who've gained a much-coveted advantage.



Hate:

Rammus runs towards the middle lane from the river, and taunts the lead, pulling both champions away from the lane, the rest of your teammates, and the course of your arrow. He dies. The enemy champions live. Your nexus eventually falls.



We've all played the same maps over and over again. Wins and losses and all the games that could've gone the other way. Game experiences rote in their content and mechanics, but unique in their execution.

So far, I've been illustrating my love of potential success and my hatred of screw-ups leading to failure, but what I feel about even more strongly than the waxing and waning of the tides of opportunity is this:



I love playing games with friends. I love working together towards common goals. I love seeing the shape of the game and having some idea of what needs to be done to win. I love implicit understanding and trusting my allies to make one of several best possible calls.

I love the joy of shared victory.

What I hate, however - what I really, truly hate, is how very upset I can get when things go the other way.

If I can recognize the loss as the result of other players simply being BETTER than I am and we are, then I can just accept it with some modicum of disappointment and frustration and move on to more fun times.

If I can recognize - through my own personal accountability - as having been a contributing factor to the loss, then I can again accept it with some modicum of disappointment and frustration, move on to more fun times, AND attempt to do better in the future.

But on those occasions.. those occasions where I'm SO certain that it didn't HAVE to be that way, and so certain that “if only” somebody had done or not done that one little thing, I can get quite livid and express exceptional disappointment and spout critical diatribe.

I hate that guy.



Love:

Cooperative multiplayer gaming..



Hate:

..what it can bring out in me.



I'm not yet prepared to give up playing those games with my friends and those strangers who could someday be friends. I'm not prepared to give up the idea of people working together and feeling a sense of satisfaction just for doing what they could, regardless of the outcome. I'm not prepared to remove such an awesome facet of gaming and social interaction just because I can be an asshat.

No, I guess I'll just instead have to learn to be, you know, LESS of one.

(.. and, in the meantime, keep on hating those jacktards that insist on screwing up at every possible opportunity.)

[Note: Just in case anybody might feel the need to point it out, I know that this musing is a few month's old. I'm not vying for promotion or anything like that, I'd just been wanting to write it for a while and kept being too busy, or putting it off, or forgetting. In fact, I haven't even tagged the post as a Monthly Musing, just to be sure not to impede any current posts their due spot in the lineup. It was important to me, though, that I at least try and get it out of my head rather than just add it to that list of things that never gets done. Thanks all.]   read


7:55 PM on 09.20.2009

A Different Machine: There Will Be Light



I've been listening to The Protomen lately. A lot. So much so that it's probably driving my friends completely bonkers. So much so that they're probably starting to wonder how much of a Megafan I am. So much so that they're probably starting to wonder how deeply obsessive I may be.

Only that's not it at all.

Strike that. I am obsessed. Absolutely.

There are these things that matter, these things that people either dismiss as unimportant or irrelevant, or have forgotten entirely (not unlike the citizens of The City). Things like cohesive composition. In music, "appropriate" narrative and emotional impact - BEYOND just identifying personally with the subject matter - are things that I've not seen in years.

Truth told, I'm not sure I've ever seen it in my entire life.

But this is not a dissertation on the decline of the state of the (concept) album, as I'm hardly informed or old enough to write it. Nor is this is a qualification on the state of music in general, as I feel that everything has its place and can (and should) be appreciated in its own ways for its own merits.



This is instead a public service announcement. This message in my head and in my proverbial heart that is simply ACHING to get out, and I hope beyond hope that I express it well enough to convince a few souls to go out, invest a little time and attention, then re-evaluate and reinterpret what they discover, many times over. This is to say that there is a something in the world now that wasn't here before. Something that makes me feel in ways I've never experienced, due largely to the quality and totality of its composition, and the expert hands that crafted it (and little to do with the fact that it's "Mega Man").

This is a message to every "you" willing to read, that you (yes, you - I am speaking to You) should go out right now, and find for yourself a copy of The Protomen's catalogue; (as yet) a "mere" two album discography, readily available for purchase through their website or via more immediate means online.*

Destructoid briefly commented on the fact that their newest album was recently released, but not much was said as to why you should CARE.

When was the last time you listened to a cohesive album? I'm not referring to an artist whose tone or style is consistent throughout a track list, but rather an album with an overarching narrative, established lyrically, emotionally, and musically; thematically. An album that was - instead of a collection of singles - built as a singular entity. Written with specific and deliberate intent. A story crying to be told that finds its way into the voices of those worthy to tell it.

(I find the concept not unlike musical theatre, save for that I've known few musicals to affect me even remotely near so powerfully as I've been affected by the music of The Protomen; a conversation for another time.)

For me, the answer is that I've never listened to what I now define as a "cohesive album". I'm tracing lines back through my musical tastes, exploring every song I've ever loved, yet.. nothing.

This is not to say that this "thing" isn't out there. I'm sure that it is, and I intend (see also: yearn) to find more stories presented in such a beautiful fashion. But again, that conversation is not this conversation, and can wait for another time.

The first time I ever listened to "The Protomen" (here I refer to their first album), I found it to be a disjointed mess. I found its sounds grating. Internally, I interpreted the majority of the songs as "noise". Now this probably had a lot to do with the fact that I was exceptionally disappointed that the entire album was not as I'd come to appreciate the epic, operatic style of "The Stand (Man or Machine)". When you expect a certain kind of sound, it's hard not to dismiss the remainder as crap, especially if its aesthetic is vastly divergent.

For this reason, I turned my back on the album for months.

Eventually I found my way back and decided to listen to it one evening, while also pulling up some lyrics from a random website. Fortunately for me, the site that I found included - in addition to the lyrical dialogue - those supplemental story elements intended as part of the collective product. You see, the physical copies of The Protomen's albums have a much deeper and more involved narrative (told in the italicized font of the liner notes) than the song lyrics themselves actually convey (even though those lyrics do stand incredibly well on their own).



So it wasn't until I was immersing myself in both the lyrics and the story - attempting to read at the same pace as the music I was listening to was playing - that I discovered how remarkably well-crafted the songs actually were. At the time, I found myself surprised and thought it to be an incredibly cohesive work, thematically, but ever since the release of "Act II: The Father of Death", it's expressly clear to me how much The Protomen have developed during their "off" time, and that their latest release is "superior" to the first, though in a justifiable and appropriate sense; they've simply expanded from it.

All this with Mega Man.

Mega Man, for cryin' out loud!

That's one of the things I love most about it. Not the relationship to Mega Man itself, but the fact that the Mega Man franchise has always stood upon a rather flimsy and superficial narrative, and they built upon it. Beyond the original six games, I've cared little about the "story" that Capcom has attempted to tell, save for the fact that the origin story always holds to some universal constants:

-

Dr. Thomas Light and Dr. Albert Wily once worked together, for the "betterment" of mankind.

The original six robot masters were developed by both Dr. Light and Dr. Wily, and intended to relieve man of some degree of technological burden.

Dr. Albert Wily "stole" the robots in order to enact designs of "world domination".

Dr. Light met this threat with the creation/alteration of Mega Man.

Protoman is the precursor/brother to Mega Man.

-

(Gear shift.)

There's a live-action Mega Man fan film coming out. I admit that I have no interest in this thing. No interest at all. It looks.. silly. It looks like a transplant of the video-game story to "film". The problem with this is that it doesn't allow for the fact that video-games and movies are two entirely different mediums. This doesn't allow for the fact that people didn't play the first Mega Man for its eloquent dialogue or sophisticated plot. This doesn't allow for the fact that - for most intents and purposes - Mega Man is an extremely cartoonish thing, most especially when directly translated for the screen.



The Protomen either understood this fact and "re-invented" the story of Mega Man for their purposes, or simply knew what story they wanted to tell and said story wasn't at all incongruous with those aforementioned constants. They saw that this story was not a story at all, but rather a synopsis of the REAL story; mere bullet points pointing the way to Truth. They saw all of this - this precious resource just waiting to be unearthed - equipped themselves for the task, and then mined the deeper wells of context and nuance underneath and all around.

"Much that was called religion has carried an unconscious attitude of hostility toward life. True religion must teach that life is filled with joys pleasing to the eye of God, that knowledge without action is empty. All men must see that the teaching of religion by rules and rote is largely a hoax. The proper teaching is recognized with ease. You can know it without fail because it awakens within you that sensations which tells you this is something you've always known."

They saw the story that Mega Man has tried and always wanted to be since the very start, and they set it free.

This is not novelty.

This is not kitsch.

This is not fan service.

In their songs, The Protomen seldom make explicit reference to the franchise proper. They drop but a few names in the first album, and not at all in the second. They seldom do anything more than allude to or imply any relation to the games themselves. Point of fact, the second album does NOTHING at all to suggest that it has anything to do with Mega Man, save for that the artists who crafted it are named for a character within, and that there are occasional musical or thematic references to the first album; a recognized Mega Man work.

Beyond that. Nothing. NOTHING to give away the secret that this is.. shh.. video-game related.

-

My Suggestion / My Recommendation / My Request / My Favour / My Plea:

Find these albums, any way that you can*. Dedicate less than two hours of your life to listen to and read and feel the story that The Protomen have crafted and tell. It's not much that I'm asking of you, and I wouldn't ask something of "strangers" if I wasn't so sure of the value in it; if I wasn't so sure that there was something for you to appreciate.

I'm not doing this for myself, or even for The Protomen. I don't give a flying frak if I change any minds, but rather that you all get out there and do it. That you all get out there and find this thing that deserves to be known.

Deserves to be appreciated.

Note: It's especially important that you read the lyrics or the booklet while listening. Knowing precisely who is speaking and saying what to whom is of great value. Knowing the environment and circumstances outside of the characters' dialogue only serves to greater supplement the story as a whole.

Do NOT put the albums on while cooking. Do NOT put the albums on while playing a game. Sit down and treat yourself to an experience. A juxtaposition of words and emotions and sounds that should make you feel shaken. Powerful. Beautiful.

Treat yourself to what music CAN be.



-

Incentive:

Not convinced to even give it a shot? Not convinced to spend even those two hours?

Well then, at the very least, do THIS for me. Listen to this while reading this. If you don't feel or like anything about this music by the time Wily says, "Well you forget who turned this city on. You forget who plugged this city in!", then maybe these guys just aren't for you. (Unthinkable.)

Thank you for your time,
Sentry

*I am not endorsing the act of piracy, but rather the act of learning and spreading as much information as possible, giving credit and compensation to those deserving whenever possible.   read


2:04 PM on 08.25.2009

An Ajar Letter: Arkham Asylum CE

Note to Destructoid: When I first read about the Left 4 Dead 2 boycott, I was livid. The reasoning seemed absurd, unreasonable, selfish, and greedy to me. Now I find myself feeling a similar sense of "entitlement", the kind of thing I'd normally scoff or sneer at. Being the guy that's living inside this mindset, it's hard to tell if there's any difference between me and those people. If there is not, then I ask that you recognize that I'm aware of the potential hypocrisy and willing to acknowledge it.

Also, I apologize for posting twice in one day. Hopefully, due to the current "I love Dtoid" meme as well as my passion today for this particular subject, you can forgive me.

Thank you.

(The following text was sent to "[email protected]".)

-----

Hello,

(Let me first say that I am writing this to the listed contact address for Rocksteady instead of Eidos, as Eidos did not have "Arkham Asylum" listed as a game release. My understanding of distributor versus publisher is still somewhat limited, so if this E-mail has reached the wrong party, I ask that it please, please be forwarded to the correct one.)

My name is Damon R. Nagy and I just purchased a copy of the Arkham Asylum Collector's Edition from a local Game Stop. With most things, I'm willing to take my dissatisfaction and lumps and accept that buyers should beware the quality of a product prior to purchasing, but in this case I am nothing short of insulted and instead choosing to contact you as opposed to simply returning the title and never making any other Rocksteady/Eidos-related purchase ever again.

I am on an EXTREMELY limited budget, as I manage a recently-opened and independently-owned LAN center/used games shoppe in Denver, CO. At this moment, I don't earn a wage of any kind and my gaming options are limited to whatsoever is brought into the store, unless I should find something worthy of scrounging up all my loose change and lingering bills. Few games meet this requirement.

Having long been a fan of the DC Animated Universe and the voice actors and writer you chose to include in the development of Arkham Asylum, I was fairly certain that the extra forty dollars would be a worthy purchase, especially once photos of the set were release.

Truthfully, I'm not sure how wise it was to print that image on the very same box containing a visibly and comparatively inferior product.

First of all, the batarang is awful. No, I'm not arguing that I or anybody else should have expected a realistic approximation of a weapon, but I also don't believe that the released photo indicates ANYTHING along the lines of this plastic piece of crap. That's blatant false advertising, and you hoodwinked a fellow (I'm sure I'm not the only one) who's grown quite wary and cautious of false advertising in a country that tries and tends to sell first and hold itself accountable later. Maybe. If it's good for business.

Truthfully, I never wanted the damned batarang, and only used it as justification - an excuse for the fact that what I really wanted was the, presumably, content-packed special features Blu-Ray disc. An additional forty dollars seemed quite steep to me, but the gameplay videos were incredibly promising, and I'm a loyal and enthusiastic consumer, so what the hell? Had it been just the crappy batarang, I might have been able to accept the fact that I essentially paid an extra forty dollars for nothing but a bonus disc and a soft-leather journal of mediocre content. But once I put the bonus disc into the PS3 and was met with but two options, one of which housing some (not even ALL) of the promotional trailers for Arkham Asylum, and the other hosting a meager portion of featurettes, all of which only parenthetically referring to or including the talent cast of Arkham Asylum.

I repeat, I am nothing short of insulted.

I'm a huge fan of special features, and incredibly capable of inferring value where some people might find none, but to suggest to me that this Blu-Ray disc offering of but a few videos (most of which are and have been available for free online for months) and a terrible, just god-awful, plastic excuse-for-a-bonus-item batarang were worthy of my forty dollars is practically criminal.

Congratulations to whatever marketing team and photographer set up the presentation of this Collector's Edition, because I bought it hook, line, and sinker. Hell, I did it eagerly.

The most impressive part of this whole set is the box that it comes in, which WOULD be of some value if only it contained items of any worth!

Let it be known that I have never written a note to a company before, as I've never before been so invested or so upset over a purchase before which I spent a great deal of time and consideration. As I mentioned before, my purchasing power is limited, which perhaps makes me a "lesser" consumer in the eyes of an analyst. All the more reason for me to take the things I DO choose to spend my money on QUITE seriously.

As it stands, I'm not sure what could be done to satisfy me. I'm realistic enough to recognize that additional special features sets are unlikely, as you would've opened with more "meager" offerings and later released something as "good" as the collector's edition. Barring receipt of additional quality and value and content that I feel was advertised quite strongly, the only other solution I see is that of a refund and a regular copy of Arkham Asylum for the PS3. I am not unreasonable, nor am I looking for free stuff, and I'm perfectly happy to accept some kind of payment and the aforementioned copy of Arkham in exchange for my collector's edition. I simply want to handle this directly with you instead of taking out my frustration on some random Game Stop employee, thus fiddling with YOUR financial figures instead of THEIRS.

I ask that whoever is responsible for this egregious wrongdoing stand up and assume some accountability.

Thank you very much,
Damon R. Nagy

-----

Bonus Disc Running Times:

1.) The Concept of Batman: Arkham Asylum - 7:42
2.) The Look of Arkham Asylum - 7:48
3.) Cinematics - 7:20
4.) Working Across Continents - 4:05
5.) Sounds of the Asylum - 5:58

6.) Previously-Released Trailers - 7:29

Total - 40:22   read


2:31 AM on 08.25.2009

A $40 Bonus Disc (Arkham Asylum CE - Physical Content)



(Note: This "review" pertains solely to the perceived quality of the collector's edition of Arkham Asylum at a first glance of the included contents. I have not assessed the quality of the game itself, nor the quality of the features on the bonus disc. The following is based on my physical experience of the items mentioned.)

Normally, I'm not one to complain about the quality of bonus content in super-regular edition sets, but this particular release is an affront to my sensibilities not only as a Batfan, but also as a discerning consumer, video game enthusiast, and special feature whore.

I make very little money and tend to be EXTREMELY picky about those things I should consider purchasing. Between excessive debt and occasionally having the cash to pull my date weight with my girlfriend, I've nary a cent to spend on personal indulgences. So the decision to purchase the collector's edition of Arkham Asylum was not one I made lightly. It was something of a celebration of the fact that several of the collaborators of my favourite Batman mythos (the DC Animated Universe) would be getting together for, potentially, one last hurrah. That and the fact that a guy needs to buy something for himself every once in a while, and what better justification?

So, between the bonus disc - hopefully chock full of featurettes including my very favouritest Joker representative (Mr. Mark Hamill) - and the doctor's journal, and the seemingly impressive replication of an in-game batarang, going the way of extravagance seemed an okay and reasonable choice.

Now let me be clear, I was NOT in any way expecting something spectacular. In my wildest dreams, the best I could hope for was some kind of blunted, soft metal representation of the batarang. Materials like pewter aren't as expensive as some might think, and developments in composite materials bring costs like that down even more. It wasn't the most unrealistic thought in the world, and that was only my "dare to dream" scenario.

Realistically, I was expecting some kind of acrylic, ceramic, or tin composite, the latterest being more akin to the design of the box itself.

To open this gorgeous case and feast my eyes upon what has been laughingly referred to and marketed as a "replica" has insulted me in a way I would've previously thought incapable.

I've lived in this country a long time and, as mentioned before, would like to think myself a discerning consumer. I generally know the difference between a good movie and a well-edited trailer, and I can generally tell the difference between a halfway decent set piece and an overgrown kid's meal toy.

To put it bluntly, you get used to being screwed with your pants on from time to time and develop keener senses, when lucky.



This abomination consists of what appears to be three pieces of molded plastic, with a QUITE visible seam running all along its perimeter. The batarang is attached to its "mount" in a way that doesn't at all differentiate the "replica" from its base. I'd charitably refer to it as a high school prop, if only you could more intuitively interpret these individual pieces as separate items. It's unclear whether or not the manufacturer even intended the item to be removed from its mount, as the telltale tab on the rear suggests relative ease of removal, whereas the gaping hole, remnant glue, and stamp - revealed once you isolate the batarang - all imply that it's a nook not meant to be seen.



Regardless, this is hardly the sort of thing I would ever put on display, and it only marginally functions as a casual toy of novelty and kitsch. More likely I'll leave the damned thing in its far-more-impressive case and hope that nobody asks to see it.

Now, this wouldn't bother me quite so much if it weren't for the fact that I was never even given an in-between option. The major influence for the purchase of this edition was, indeed, the bonus disc with features I've yet to investigate since I'm now somewhat gunshy. It's entirely likely that I would've passed on this excessive product were it not for my love and near-fanboyism regarding Mark Hamill, Arleen Sorkin, Kevin Conroy, and Paul Dini (even though it was a shock to learn that Dini had anything to do with the Double Dragon movie - "Podtoid 111").

When I boil down the contents and value of the box in my hands to their barest essentials, I'm left with but one conclusion:

I paid an additional forty dollars for a bonus disc, and a mediocre (though admittedly, mildly interesting) soft-leather journal.

This makes me hubris and contrite, and Eidos criminals. But I can at least offer these words and photos up as a cautionary tale to those either a little too foolhardy or not quite discerning enough.

-----

Update: Joystiq's Justin McElroy posted an unboxing video this morning, and his reaction and sentiments mirror mine almost perfectly, though he remains far more civil and professional on camera.

http://www.joystiq.com/2009/08/25/unboxing-the-batman-arkham-asylum-collectors-edition/   read


1:25 PM on 07.06.2009

Nostalgic Novelty Meets Post-Humous Pop Appeal



It's somewhat unfortunate (from a game collector's point of view) that so many classic video-game cabinets should end up in the possession of a famous person, much less one of the greatest pop legends ever known to the United States.

Especially one that recently passed away.

Some rare items can be incredibly difficult for collectors to find, and even more difficult to obtain for a reasonable price. Not everybody has deep pockets, and it sucks when the added value of "Jacko owned this" is tacked onto the price tag. Chances are that so much cash will be thrown at so many things simply for the "piece of MJ" celebrity factor, far removed from the qualities or personality of the game itself.

With any luck, some serious collectors will manage to get a hand on some of the memorabilia that Michael managed to stash away over the years. Fortunately, it doesn't seem like he kept the rarest of the rare away from the public eye, so my posterity-bone need not worry itself over some forgotten classic winding up in the show room of a well-to-do that doesn't really give a damn.

In the meantime, those of us with lesser aspirations in cabinet collecting can amuse ourselves by checking out this nifty virtual tour of MJ's funtime belongings. Personally, I'd love to get my hands on Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Lethal Enforcers.   read


2:35 AM on 07.06.2009

Dr. Sterling, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Pokémon Blue



Pokémon Blue is obviously better than Pokémon Red, an assertion that requires explanation only if you're a complete backbirth what doesn't know how superlatives work. I can only conclude that any argument on the subject is purely for shock value or novelty alone, as nobody could possibly be so ignorant as to sincerely believe that Red is the superior product. Jim Sterling would have you believe that only hardcore gamers have earned the right to draw huge lines between anything, but I'm here to tell you that anyone can do it. The internet is better than Superman, for example. We could discuss why, but you all know that I'm right.

1.) Water > Fire:



The box for Pokémon Blue boasts Blastoise, an organic, walking TANK, fully equipped with cannons that shoot highly-pressurized twin streams of water whose sole purpose is blasting the shit out of anything in sight AND putting out fires. Red has Charizard, a mouth-breathing, dandy-looking dragon that can't even fly straight since its eyes are on either side of its head and that means no depth perception. Plus it DIES if the wussy fire on its tail goes out.

Guess what wussy fires don't like? Pressurized water shot from a FUCKING CANNON!

2.) The colour blue is superior to the colour red in EVERY way:



I've personally seen crayons of blue and red spill out of Crayola boxes, fully-engaged in drunken brawls, and guess who always emerges the victor? Well, actually.. nobody, because it's the official responsibility of influential writers like me to declare that drunken violence is NEVER, EVER funny (even though it's completely badass and ALWAYS funny). But I will tell you this, if you go visit St. Palette's Memorial Hospital and take a look at their ICU, you'll see one fucked-up hunk of Red, meanwhile Blue's back at the box, fucking everything in sight while also eating rare steak, which is the manliest sport there is.

Now, SOME PEOPLE seem to have a problem with things that are blue, specifically Blue's Clues. Nevermind the fact that Steve Burns - the original host of the show - went on to have a kickass musical career and even stole the Thinking Chair to take with him on tour. Let me ask you, what kind of man has the balls to take the staple prop from a show intended for small children? The same kind of man that tirelessly dedicated himself to helping those same children translate the inane babble of idiotic animated characters in order to solve mysteries. That's called being a detective. You know who else is a detective?

Batman.

It's a well-known, scientifically-proven fact that learning is the most hardcore thing known to man, and Blue's Clues is a show about BATMAN teaching kids how to be as awesome as he is, just before leaving to rock out.

Red is the colour of menstruation and Greatest Hits boxes, the most potent manifestations of evil.

3.) Red got a remake, Blue didn't need one:



Holding up the fact that Pokémon Red got a remake is like pointing at Rocky Horror Picture Show cast-goers as evidence of the film's superiority. If it's so fucking good, why did you have to invent an entirely new script to shout over the original lines in order to enjoy it?

That's right, Fire Red was Nintendo's feeble effort to try to make right their terrible, terrible wrong. To be perfectly honest, they DID develop a remake of Blue, just to be sporting, but the only title they felt justified the insanely awesome nature of the game was “Pokémon Blue-as-the-Sapphire-Tears-Your-Mother-Cried-When-She-Took-it-Up-the-Ass”. Naturally, Nintendo had enough business savvy (at the time) to know better than to insult their consumers directly. Instead, they maintained their normal practice of insulting their customers through sucky releases, and left the pristine visage of Pokémon Blue untarnished.

4.) Look at this picture:



This picture is awesome. Of course it is.

I drew it using a Super Game Boy while playing Pokémon Blue. Blue is a colour, which means that the Super Game Boy – a peripheral that plays games IN colour on the Super Nintendo (one of the greatest systems EVER) – was pretty much created for the sole purpose of playing Pokémon Blue, and drawing awesome shit all over it.

Look at that Machop's angry face. That's fucking terrifying. You couldn't do that with Pokémon Red. I know 'cause I tried. The Super Game Boy spit at me before I could even put the cartridge in the slot. The only other time it did that was when I accidentally dropped a copy of Total Recall for the NES right next to it.

Pokémon Red + Total Recall < Mah Balls

5.) Mega Man is blue:



Mega Man will om nom your very essence and then use it for his own nefarious purposes, but he usually doesn't because he's so badass to begin with. He only wears red when he's impersonating one of the various robotic fucktards he's already bested in combat, and that's just for kicks. The guy's regular power is to shoot compressed balls of burning hot plasma at high velocities from his cyan blue arm. He doesn't have any use for shit like fire, unless he feels like burning some books, which he'd never do because Mega Man knows what we've already discussed, and that is that learning is cool as fuck.

6.) Blue has Vulpix:



This is Vulpix.

Vulpix will FUCK. YOU. UP. End of story.

7.) Blah blah blah, something about Metacritic:



Metacritic scores are an aggregation of individual opinions, reduced to quantitative terms. Most of the people I know are dumb as fuck. Most of the people you know are dumb as fuck. The internet is FULL of people who are dumb as fuck, so why on earth should I give a damn what a whole mess of 'em said when they stopped Tweeting or blogging long enough to bitch about something besides Valve?

Answer: I don't.

Here's MY Metacritic score for Pokémon Blue: 28,000,003. A score THAT high comes with some rum and bratwurst if you take it to the bank, which you can totally do.

8.) Here's a thing I found on the internet:



"Psychology of Color: Blue"

“Ask people their favorite color and a clear majority will say blue. Much of the world is blue (skies, seas). Seeing the color blue actually causes the body to produce chemicals that are calming; but that isn't true of all shades of blue. Some shades (or too much blue) can send a cold and uncaring message. Many bedrooms are blue because [of] it's calm, restful color. Over the ages blue has become associated with steadfastness, dependability, wisdom and loyalty (note how many uniforms are blue). People tend to be more productive in a blue room because they are calm and focused on the task at hand. Some studies are showing that weight lifters can lift more weight in a blue gym - in fact, nearly all sports are enhanced in blue surroundings.”

There you have it, blue makes people stronger and wiser and better at sex. I say so. Studies say so. Science says so.

Blue is better. It's fact. You know this because you just read it.

----------

As much as I'd love to leave this piece a completely self-contained product, I haven't yet earned that right. I need to make it clear that this - much like the recently-written monocle piece - is an exercise in writing and in fun. I've always been a fan of Pokémon Blue and love trying to do things in this particular voice. Generally, I like to avoid cliche or blatant ripoff as best I can, but the lure of attempting to counter-point Jim's diatribes was just far too irresistible.

I hope folks managed to take some amount of entertainment from this, as I tried to make it funny, and will likely go to hell for some of the cracks I made.

Totally worth it though. I had a blast.   read


11:54 AM on 06.18.2009

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Normally, I'd leave the self-promotion to personal social networking sites and forums, as well as chasing people down on the street to give them a card, but I think this most recent happening merits some words.

A little over a year ago, I and several friends began discussing the possibility of opening a used games store / LAN center. It was something of a hypothetical flight of fancy at first, though we eventually warmed to the idea and started taking it more and more seriously. We applied for several loans, but were turned down. Several realtors faffed us around on the rates for their locations before we found something both appealing and reasonable.

Long story short, it was NOT very easy.

The circumstances and logistics surrounding the opening and managing of our store are INCREDIBLY difficult. I don't care to advertise this fact, but I've been, essentially, homeless for a little over a year now. Two good friends were kind enough to take me in, and these are the same two friends with whom I helped to get "Game On!" going. The deal is one that is mutually beneficial, both for myself and for the well-being of the store. In order to keep operational costs down as much as possible, the store does not have any employees.

You hear that? It's just me and two other people (who seldom work shifts apart), running a store that's open at least 88 hours a week. They continue to work full-time at their dayjobs in order to supplement the store throughout its initial "darker days", and take over for me on certain evening and the majority of the day on Saturday.

I am here the rest of the time.

Now, let me make it clear that I am not, in any way, complaining. I am not seeking pity nor praise. I am only trying to highlight to you how very invested I am in this store. The fact that I forego a wage and am, in fact, indebted to those showing me hospitality is one that often doesn't sit well with my pride. I'd much rather be contributing money to my livelihood, or even living on my own. Unfortunately, the circumstances of the situation simply don't allow that at this time, which is FINE.

But it does not change the fact that this is a hard, hard situation.

We put great thought into the name of our business. "Game On!" evokes that collective subconscious, excited desire to take something head on and do your best. It's that feeling you get when about to engage in friendly competition with friends and peers. Plus, being a game store, it's always good to have some "game" in your name.

So when we learned that another store had opened up less than a week ago in the same city as us, and ALSO carries the name "Game On", it most definitely took us by surprise. Not knowing whether to feel insulted, or hurt, or threatened, we tried to talk about it as reasonably as possible. Should we pursue some legal course? Do we have any ground to stand on? What's the etiquette in asking somebody else not to be in the same business as you with the same name?

Ultimately, we'd decided to talk to them personally and see if we could work something out. We have big plans for our business and hope to be a significant community presence in the state of Colorado, for both casual and competitive gamers a like. It was our understanding that we would have some time to handle this.. that is, until I was contacted by several friends this morning, informing me of a story run on Kotaku and our local 9 News.

Apparently, this other "Game On" managed to get some attention, largely due to the fact that the fellow that opened the store is young and recently lost his mother. Now, while I am not saying that these facts are unimportant, and most definitely feel sympathy for this guy as an individual, I've gotta' say that it's somewhat terrifying that a local business that shares the same name as us has suddenly gained such notable exposure.

Our store's E-mail has already received several messages from Kotaku readers across the nation, asking us to perhaps develop an online store that they might help us in some way. Granted, one could argue that the fact that they're finding us by mistake means greater exposure for our store as well, but we're relatively honest people and don't care to be found via misunderstanding. Additionally, we've been trying to make a name for ourselves!

Almost seven months open and we've already developed a modest community, as well as ties with other pockets of gaming in Denver. We are not looking forward to having to explain to various E-mails and callers that "no, we're not those other guys" or "thank you for your concern, but my mother is very much alive".

I do not hold any ill will towards the other owner, though I now have NO idea how we're supposed to approach the "same name" subject without appearing to be complete asstards. This is a terrible situation, and I'm ADDITIONALLY upset that this store, from a journalistic point of view, was somehow merited with greater news value.

To be perfectly honest, THAT is insulting, and I could not be more upset at Brian Crecente, especially considering that I have met and spoken with him personally, both about gaming and our store.

All we know to do right now is handle the situation as graciously as possible until we get a chance to talk to the other owner personally, and hopefully work something out that everybody is okay with all involved.

But, all in all, we worked hard to get as far as we've come in this short period of time. We never asked for a story nor did we think anybody had any reason to write one. It's hard not to find it entirely unjust, however, that THEY were handed a story when WE were not.

-Update-

Elijah (the other store owner) is HELLA' reasonable and understanding. They'd apparently heard about our store only a few days after they opened and were already considering a name change. He's just as considerate and concerned with local business and the gaming community as we are and care to be, and we'll be having a sitdown with him later this evening.

This will likely work out just fine. With any luck, we've made another new friend.   read


3:27 PM on 06.14.2009

Why Do We Care? - Introduction

I've given the whole "write something interesting and relevant in an articulate and incisive manner" thing a shot on several occasions. All of my writings on Destructoid have yet to really strike me as anything more than mediocre and tepid at best, and I've very much wanted to change that unfortunate truth. At first, I had little idea how to go about the prospect, as I've spent the entirety of my life writing things personal in nature, never specifically intended to illustrate a perspective and share it with (or perhaps even change the mind of) my readers.

So I decided to try and locate my "strike zone". Metaphorical training wheels that would take me from the writer and mind that I am now to the writer/mind I'd like to be someday. Perhaps a theme, or a series of articles? But how to avoid cliche, and how to avoid writing on topics already over-saturated by commentary? How to institute any kind of consistent device or approach without falling prey to "gimmick"?

Well, it really all comes down to that I'm terribly insecure, vain, and think way too got-damned much and should instead just write about whatever the hell it occurs to me to write about. Sure enough, once I decided to do that, a few ideas popped into my head; ideas that serendipitously shared a common element:

Incongruous social/cultural response. That is to say.. why do we care?

From how the Super Mario Bros. stage music somehow became one of the most beloved pieces of video-game music (instead of simply iconic and recognizable) to the overwhelming scope and inanity of the majority console-war arguments. From "genre-campers" to entitlement issues.

No, this will not be hard-hitting journalism. Of course it won't. For the record, I'm just some guy that works in a store that lives in a town. A guy with delusions of intellect and relevance that has some things to say about some other things and wants to see where that goes. "Why Do We Care?" will be about re-investigating some of the perspectives from which many of our modern standards are based. It will hopefully inspire some folks to ask and re-evaluate how they truly arrive at their opinions.

That being said, my first topic will be about this whole Left 4 Dead (2) debacle. Judging from the sea of malcontents that decry any attempts at reason, I most certainly doubt I'll be changing any minds. Honestly, it just seems an appropriate, immediate starting point, and I find myself incapable of wanting to keep my mouth shut on this particular subject.

See you soon.   read


3:05 PM on 04.23.2009

Those About To Die: In the Year 200X



I was given a Nintendo Entertainment System on the evening of my fourth birthday. Though Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt and Tetris were the first games that I ever owned for the system, Mega Man 3 was the first title that I specifically picked out for myself. I knew nothing at all about the franchise, save for the busy box art depicting a little blue, armored man shooting an electrified robot. Later, I would question the artistic interpretations of those original sprites I'd come to know as Mega Man and Spark Man, as well as why they were fighting over a fourteen-inch wide ravine, on top of what appeared to be scaffolding.



These are the mysteries.

Over the years, a lot of laughs have been had at the ridiculous nature of some of the less-imaginatively named Robot Masters. Seeing as I have no emotional attachment to any games outside of the original NES six (or Megaman X-X3 on the Super Nintendo), we'll just skip the ludicrousness of "Cloud Man" and Count Chocula lookalike "Shade Man".



Having been forced to depart from the "practical" nature of the original six Robot Masters (who were created by Dr. Light in service of mankind) for subsequent "Dr. Wily" releases, the members of the Capcom team did as best they could to continue a naming convention that at least SUGGESTED some utility, as opposed to being nothing more than walking deathbots. But, let's be fair, when you're introducing eight more robots to each new iteration, you're going to run out of good ideas pretty damn quick. And despite the implied toothlessness of an adversary who's been dubbed "Plant Man", his stage did contribute some of the most enjoyable gameplay and music in Mega Man 6.

Not to mention those aggravating-as-hell grasshoppers.

Originality and ingenuity of enemy robots (or their assigned monikers) aside, there can be no conversation about my current gaming strengths without eventually discussing those original NES Mega Man titles. I am, quite simply, not the most hand-eye coordinated individual in the world, and instead need to rely on observation and tactics if I'm going to stay alive in a virtual realm. What better tutor than a series of games that implies, if not demands, that you quickly learn the patterns of every enemy you encounter; most especially - the Robot Masters.

Sure, the classic "rock, paper, scissors" mechanic that beats within the chest of the series makes for a far easier boss battle, but you'd first have to fight your fair share of Robot Masters to ascertain precisely WHICH weapons work against WHICH bosses. And no matter how perfect your knowledge, you will always have to fight at least ONE boss with nothing more than your buster weapon, which means that you WILL be forced to determine where lie its weaknesses.

It is for this reason that I have always held dear the impressive league of Robot Masters. Observation, precise timing, and counter-tactics are the lessons that I was taught, and they remain with me to this day. They provided me the invaluable ability to recognize pattern in my adversaries and adapt, that I might learn to defeat them as efficiently as possible.

Robot Masters, I salute you.. and take your weapon.   read


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