2005... What Happened to Amp'd Mobile,
Here it comes, folks... the new year!
Are you ready for a new batch of game consoles? Well,
you'd better be, because the Xbox 360 is already here, and the
Playstation 3 and Nintendo's Revolution will both hit store
shelves next fall (if not even sooner).
Then there's Amp'd Mobile, which is ready to
carry the torch that first burned Nokia and its own
entertainment-centric cell phone, the N-Gage. The ads
for the Amp'd line of phones are somehow even more obnoxious
than the ones for the N-Gage, suggesting that the heir to
Nokia's porcelain throne has learned nothing from the mistakes
of its predecessor.
"So, what about the site," you ask?
Well, let's just say you asked anyway. The Gameroom
Blitz is fast approaching its tenth year online, and I should
find some way to celebrate the anniversary. Actually
updating every once in a while would be a good start. MAME:
Full Access, originally intended as a bi-monthly column, will
be lucky to be a bi-yearly feature at this point, and there
are plenty of other sections of the Blitz that could use new
content. Ah, there's so much to do, and so little
motivation to do it!
If I start updating the site on a regular
basis, the next step is to come up with a new layout to
replace the current one. I don't mind the way The
Gameroom Blitz looks right now, but I'm sure that look could
be improved with a little effort and imagination. It
gives me something to think about between classes at college
and outside contributions to sites like GameTap and
2005... On Target, Yet Off the
So I was hanging around at the local Target
the other day, when I came across this not-so-little
number. The manufacturers are trying to pass it off as a
full-sized arcade machine for your living room, but after
spending some time with the Midway Home Use Arcade Machine,
it's more accurate to call it the world's largest and most
expensive TV Games unit.
It's almost the size of a real arcade cabinet,
but the parts inside are anything but arcade quality, with el
cheapo joysticks and a television monitor that turns vivid
reds into hazy yellows. The games, all translations of
popular Midway arcade titles, seemed pretty close to the hits
I remember from my childhood, but I can't help but think that
the designers would have been better off just packing them all
in a standard TV games unit. That way, they could have
saved both themselves and their customers a whole lot of
As it is, you're paying an Xbox 360 price for
early 1980's technology, housed in a cabinet that's much worse
than what you'd find in a real arcade or even the local
laundromat. Anyway you slice it, it's not a smart
Anyway, I've done a little maintenence on the
site, and finally added a PSP section to the Sony review
page. It's not hard to guess which of the system's games
I reviewed first!
It's the holiday season. Christmas has
come and gone with many gifts given and received. I've
finally got an arcade-quality joystick, although I had to buy
a Tekken game along with it. My PSP got its first real
workout in ages, doing what it does best... impressing people
who can't afford it. After a long-overdue modification,
the Sega Saturn's been taken out of retirement and set in
front of the television where it belongs. Finally, the
recently released Nintendo DS version of Bust-A-Move has set
the series back on solid ground after years of artistically
repellant sequels on the Playstation 2, GameCube, and Xbox.
Ah yes, life is good. Now, if only I
could do something about the incredible disappearing message
2005... Ebert vs. Q*Bert (or, the video games
as art debate)|
I was asked by reader William Campi if I had
any opinion on the recent outburst by film critic Roger Ebert,
who concluded that video games are not a legitimate form of
art. You'd better believe I have an opinion about
this... in fact, I've got four of them!
1) Art is highly subjective. So
are opinions. Roger Ebert has arrogantly made the error
of considering his personal opinion to be factual and
authoritative. The reality is that his point of view is
only a fact in the eyes of a single man.
2) By his own admission, Roger Ebert
admits that he's not familiar with video games. His
declaration that they are "not art" is as valid as my saying
"I've never seen the King Kong movie, but I'm confident in
saying that it's terrible, since I've never been all that fond
3) Video games contain paintings, music,
sculpture (if you count polygonal rendering, and I do),
cinema, animation, and prose. Seperately, all of these
things are considered art. When put together as a
cohesive whole, they're... not? Does that make any sense
4) If a cross submerged in urine can be
considered a work of art... if a man can haphazardly scatter
paint and cigarette butts over a canvas and call it art... if
a musician can sit at a piano for over four minutes without
playing a single note and call this empty performance art...
it is entirely reasonable to consider video games a form of
My final word on all this? Roger Ebert
is just a snobbish elitist; a man who feels threatened by the
increasing popularity of a hobby which has overtaken theatre
as the preferred form of entertainment for many
Americans. Ebert is entitled to his opinion, or would
be, if he bothered to do any research, but in the end, his
word is neither law nor fact.
Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll blow the
dust off my DVD collection and watch a film critic who I still
admire and respect. Namely, this one.
2005... Esther, You
It's time once again to give the site its
annual, minty-fresh Christmas makeover! The candy
cane-striped borders provide the thrills, while the freezing
temperature and complete lack of new content provide the
Hopefully, I'll have something new on the site
in time for all the usual winter holidays, like Festivus, and
Pule, and, Redd Foxx's birthday, and... uh, someone turn off
my television before my brain melts and spills out of my
Oh Sega, why must you taunt me so with your
on-again, off-again support for the Dreamcast? There are
rumors that the system is going to be re-released alongside a
new Milestone shooter called Radilgy. It's good news if
it's true, but personally, I would have been a lot happier if
Sega had waited until now to discontinue the Dreamcast in the
Speaking of science-fiction games for
long-dead systems, Solar Plexus is now available for purchase
from the Atari Age store. If you're a fan of the Atari
2600, you really ought to get yourself a copy of the game...
there's nothing else quite like it on the system.
Well, that's it for this update. Back to
studying... I've got finals this week, after all!
2005... Red Rings of
Complete Convergence has been updated one last
time for the handful of people who are still running emulators
on their PSPs. The final installment of the series takes
you step by step through the installation of the system's best
Neo-Geo CD emulator, letting you play your favorite arcade
titles from the 1990's on the go.
In other news, things are really heating up
for the Xbox 360... and I don't mean that in a good way.
Many of the units shipped are prone to overheating, leaving
their owners a little steamed as well. Lawsuits have
already been filed against Microsoft for fudging the first
shipment of 360s, a surprising development when you consider
how long it took gamers to take legal action when their
Playstation 2s stopped reading discs.
I'm not the world's biggest Microsoft fan,
ranking somewhere between Steve Jobs and the Linux
penguin. However, I can't help but think these lawsuits
were motivated as much by the hopes of digging through Bill
Gates' deep pockets as they were the aggravation of taking
home a faulty game system. It's reasonable to expect a
refund for malfunctioning merchandise, but lumping
"unspecified damages" into this claim makes me think the
people who filed it are hoping to get a lot more out of the
deal than a replacement Xbox 360.
2005... M-80s: Not Just for Toilets
It's not your ordinary, average update
to The Gameroom Blitz, ladies and gentlemen... it's the
first update to the Dan Hibiki tribute page in
months! The man in mauve hasn't seen much action lately,
but thanks to reader Onikage88, we've got a brief video of Dan training
some new recruits... and getting schooled by an old rival!
For all you PC gamers out there, Sega and M-80
wanted me to let you know that there's a new mission pack for
the critically acclaimed Rome: Total War. It's
called Barbarian Invasion, and you'll find more information
about it here.
According to M-80's press release, Barbarian Invasion
adds a new dimension to the gameplay of this military strategy
title, allowing you to either defend the once proud Roman
empire or trample it in the dust with an army
of bloodthirsty berzerkers.
Strategy titles have never been to my personal
taste, but if you're into games that require careful
thought rather than quick reflexes, Rome: Total
War and its recent expansion pack should keep your mind
sharp through the lazy holiday season.
One final bit of news to
report... the ghost of the corrupt Clinton
presidency has returned to haunt gamers, with a proposed ratings system enforced by our "friends" at the freakin' FCC.
Dearest Hillary, whatever will you do when you've taken your
favorite scapegoat and legislated it out of existence?
You might actually have to pass some meaningful laws for a
change, rather than pandering to lobotomized parents who
can't read a large bold M on the front of a game
It makes me glad that Hillary Clinton and her
bone-headed husband are finally out of the White House.
I mean, really, who else could be so irresponsible and
self-serving? Who, I ask you, who?
Oh yeah, I forgot about him.
2005... Nintendo Wi-Fi First
It was the best of times, it was the worst of
times. That's a fitting description for the Nintendo
Wi-Fi Connection, which brings online functionality to your
favorite Nintendo DS games... well, if those games happen to
be Mario Kart DS and Tony Hawk's American Sk8teland, anyway.
I've only tried Mario Kart DS myself, but I've
been alternately amazed and aggravated by the game's online
features. When the connection is stable, the gameplay is
outstanding, but when it's not, you'll have immense difficulty
just STARTING a race, let alone finishing one.
When I first tried to get Mario Kart DS online
(at around 7:00PM Eastern time), breaks in the connection were
so frequent that it was a desperate fight just to squeeze a
single lap out of the game, much less a full four round
circuit. The best I was able to get, after thirty
minutes of searching for opponents, was a two lap race cut
short by the all-too familiar black screen of
So I took a break to cool off. After an
hour of fooling around with my PSP, downloading a patch
for my copy of WipeOut Pure and trying in vain to start a
multiplayer battle in Twisted Metal Head-On, I came back to
Mario Kart DS. At this point my expectations were pretty
low, so you can only imagine how surprised I was when the
game's online experience, which was absolutely awful just an
hour ago, suddenly turned into a work of art.
I was able to play through several circuits
without being disconnected once, and without the more minor
aggravation of characters that spastically dart around the
screen. The encouraging media coverage of Nintendo's
Wi-Fi service, which seemed so very wrong at first, was
starting to sound a lot more accurate.
Don't believe all the hype. At
present, there aren't many games that support Nintendo's
online service, and unless you luck out and connect to the
network when traffic is low, they're not always fun to
play. Still, there's definitely promise here. I've
seen what the Wi-Fi service can do... let's hope that in the
future, this strong performance will become the rule
rather than the exception.
2005... Save the Trauma for Your
It's another exciting installment of "Overdue
Updates Gone Wild!" Watch as hot, sexy updates to
The Gameroom Blitz bare it all after a week-long delay!
Order now and you'll get a review of Trauma Center: Under the
Knife for free! Why settle
for seeing a little skin when you can find out
what's underneath it?
So what's going on in the world of
gaming? There's a distressing new trend by
media outlets to either downplay the Revolution or ignore it
entirely in discussions about the next generation of
consoles. Take IGN and GameSpot (please). On the
top of each page, where the links to each system are placed,
there are references to both the Xbox and Playstation 3, but
no mention whatsoever of the Revolution.
Now I can understand why they'd include the
Xbox 360, given the fact that it's set to be released in a
couple of weeks, but why the Playstation 3 and not the
Revolution? Sure, we've all seen the video clips of
games like Metal Gear Solid 4, but what we HAVEN'T seen are
those games running on real hardware. At the
moment, there's little concrete information about
either console... no final system
specifications, no game demos running on real hardware, no
One would tend to conclude that bias was the
catalyst for the decision to leave the Revolution out of
the headers of both sites. Sure, Nintendo's not the
"cool" hardware manufacturer at the moment, but it's still a
major player in the industry, and it's unfair to stack the
deck against the company with "objective" news coverage that
removes the Revolution from the next generation system
wars before it even has a chance to compete.
It's also worth noting that both IGN and
GameSpot mention the Playstation Portable in their headers and
side bars well before the Nintendo DS. Uh, guys?
Who's been selling handheld consoles the longest? Which
system has sold the most units so far? Which console's
name should be listed first alphabetically?
Sometimes I wonder just how far video game
journalism has come since the dark days of Sendai-owned EGM
(Sega Genesis? What's that?) and Video Games, the
magazine which did everything within its power to make
its readers buy the original Playstation.
There's good news and bad news for Nintendo
fans. According to members of the press who were invited to Nintendo's Seattle office for a
test drive of Mario Kart DS, the company's upcoming wi-fi
service not only works, it works well enough to give
players a chance to challenge DS owners the world over.
There are claims that American players can make connections
across the ocean to countries as distant as Germany, although
it's not yet clear if a connection could stretch as far as
Japan, where the Nintendo DS is especially popular. I
doubt it, although it could be possible if you live in one of
those oddball states that brush against the Asian border.
On the darker side of the news, it seems that
the long-awaited Generation NEX from Messiah is a profound disappointment. It can't handle all of the games in the
NES library, and many of the others are hobbled with off-pitch
sound effects and nasty colors. The opinion among
most gamers who bought a Generation NEX is that Messiah didn't
deliver on its lofty promises, and that their new faux-NES is
little more than a stylish paperweight. I thought about
stepping on the same landmine they did, but considering that
it's been nearly a year since I've played my REAL NES, the
Generation NEX would have been a waste of my money even if it
had been properly designed.
Oh yeah, before I forget, there's a couple new
reviews in Advance Theory. If you
wondered how the recent sequel to Gunstar Heroes turned out,
and how it compares to last year's Metal Slug Advance, you'd
be well advised to give it a look. Also, there's a new
mini-review on the bottom of the index page, inspired by my
love of an arcade favorite from the 1980's that has made
a comeback, thanks to the recent release of Taito
Legends on the Xbox and Playstation 2.
2005... Brain Salad
four 'o clock, so I'll make this brief. Frame by Frame
has been updated, but this time, the freshly reviewed
cartoons are all from your childhood. Well, MY
childhood, anyway. They're longer and more descriptive
than the usual cartoon reviews published on the site, so
you'll probably enjoy them even if you're not familiar with
the shows themselves.
Also, I've listened to popular
demand and added contributor and close friend Shawn
Struck to the profiles page. Actually, he was the
only one who made the demand, but he's popular, so
I listened to it.
Past that, there's nothing more
to say. I'm still not interested in the XBox 360
(prettier polygons! Whoopie!), Trauma Center is still
frustrating, and the games on the recent Taito Legends
collection are still entertaining... with the obvious
exception of The Ninja Kids, of course. And with that,
I'm off to bed.
These are strange days indeed for
gamers. There's a handheld console designed to
deliver ads to its users... and stuff money into the
pockets of the Swedish
mafia. The latest
Metroid game is a futuristic pinball simulation... and a
pretty good one, at that. After twelve years
of assurance from the media that it would never be made,
we finally have a sequel to everyone's favorite Sega Genesis
game, Gunstar Heroes. And stressful careers have become
fun diversions, as owners of the Nintendo DS perform invasive
surgery and defend murder suspects in court.
Most unusual of all,
there's new content on The Gameroom Blitz, courtesy of
long-time contributor John Roche. John's given us a
review of the latest Mega Man
Zero title for the Game
Boy Advance, which in another surprising twist, isn't as
murderously hard as the previous games in the
If all this isn't enough to put a
shock to your system, just wait until you see this! Yes, someone has actually decided to bring that
most reviled of game controllers, the 3DO Control Pad, out of
retirement. Thanks to this ill-conceived PC
adapter, you too can make even the best fighting games in your
collection as sluggish and unresponsive as Way of the
2005... King of Cartoons (also, the original
Xbox gets the axe)|
Whew, I am SO far behind on
updates! Where do I begin? I suppose this is
as good a place as any to start...
It's likely that you haven't seen
this block of cartoons for over twenty years. After
you've watched it, you'll probably be content to wait another
twenty before sitting through it again. Like most
animation from the 1980's, the show hasn't aged well... if the
attempts by the writers to shoehorn your favorite early video
game stars into unlikely situations doesn't get to you, the
corny jokes and weak animation almost certainly
Nevertheless, it's still worth
downloading the file, if only to see Dungeons and Dragons and
all those nutty advertisements. Funny thing... I never
liked the D&D 'toon as a child, but twenty years later,
it's starting to grow on me. They still need to
find a suitably nasty way to get rid of that stupid baby
unicorn, though. No saving throw for you,
What's most surprising is just
how much I love the commercials! The not-so-extreme
water sports in Juicy Fruit STILL move me two decades
later, and I can't help but chuckle at the Crest crusaders,
defending their fortress of teeth with minty fresh lasers
while a klaxon shouts "Crest gel! Crest gel!" in its
best Lily Tomlin phone operator voice.
Moving on to modern day news,
there's word that the XBox 360 will not only be showing up in
store kiosks over the next month, but that it will
replace the previous model of the system at
Wal-Mart. It sounds like Microsoft is itching to put the
original XBox into retirement... and I doubt it's going to be
leaving with a gold watch.
I wouldn't count on any first
party support for the system by the end of the year... and I'm
guessing that Bill Gates will be twisting arms to
keep other companies from releasing games for the
original XBox as well.
2005... Hit the Road,
I think I've had just about
enough of this guy... how about you?
If your answer to the question is
"yes" or a more enthusiastic equivalent (including but not
limited to "hell yeah!," "Yes, yes, a thousand times
yes!," and "Ooooh yeeeah, brother!"), I've got a little
assignment for you. Take this complaint form, fill it out, and mail it to this
444 Brickell Ave.
For a passing grade, you'll need
to do the following:
1. Follow the instructions
listed on the first page.
2. Mention Jack Thompson's
repeated abuse of his power of attorney (for instance,
sending harassing E-mails to
gamers, then threatening a lawsuit when they
Also mention Jack's hilarious satire,
cleverly disguised as a death threat against Take-Two CEO Paul
Refrain from namecalling and personal
attacks (in other words,
do what Jack DOESN'T do).
5. Write legibly and
6. Express concern that Jack's
increasing mental instability could potentially make him a
threat to his clients.
After you're done, turn it in (to
the address listed above). If everyone passes, we'll
throw a big pizza party in honor of any long overdue
disciplinary actions taken against Jack Thompson for his
irresponsible behavior. Heck, I'll throw in breadsticks
if he's disbarred!
This update brings with it a
fresh review and some trimming of the
increasingly old 'n crusty links page. After years of
holding it in, I'd unleashed all my frustration and resentment
on someone whose site was listed on the page... someone
whose behavior had become increasingly irksome to
me. Now that my feelings are all on the table,
I figure that now would be a good time to remove his page from
the list and just leave the whole sordid affair behind
The past week, along with the
unfortunate events that came with it, has made me come to this
realization... I don't like people. That's not just one
person, or a specific group of people, but the entire species
known to scientists as Homo Sapiens. There are
exceptions to every rule, but in this case, that window of
exception is especially small. Chances are, I don't like
you. Hell, I don't even like me. If I'm
talking to you, it's likely that I'm either bored
or you're paying me to do it.
It's not a furry thing... I don't
have delusions of escaping the bonds of humanity and living
the rest of my life as an entirely different creature. I
just have a low tolerance for the behavior of others, and
don't particularly enjoy human contact. If I could live
in a log cabin high in the Appalachians, while somehow getting
electricity for my game systems and Internet access for my
computer, I would.
2005... Blah, Blah!
Here's a scary thought for all
you Halloweenies out there... according to the surprisingly
active forum of the defunct Higher Voltage web site, Capcom had considered
licensing the cheesy Universal Studios monsters for use
in its first Darkstalkers game. No matter how hard you look, you're not
likely to find anything that frightening this
"Personification" is the word of
the day here at The Gameroom Blitz, as you can see from the
new Capcom Classics
I'm thinking of taking a similarly unorthodox approach to the
upcoming review of Rengoku: Tower of Purgatory, using my love
of pretentious 80's rock epics as an inspiration.
Here's a hint, in case you actually needed one... it won't be
based on Pink Floyd's The Wall.
2005... Timeless Classics (Capcom Classics
Don't worry... the site
hasn't been taken over by IGN, although the graphics in the
title banner might suggest otherwise.
So hey, I'm the proud owner of
Capcom Classics Collection now. It's the classic
game pack I've been wanting from Capcom since 1997... but I
have to admit, I would have been a lot happier if they hadn't
taken eight years to release it. The interface, using
pencil sketches on a school notebook for that flippin' sweet
Napoleon Dynamite look, is really clever, and the unlockable
content for each game encourages the player to try them all
and play them thoroughly, translating into added replay
It's not all POW symbols and
zenny in this compilation of 80's arcade hits,
however. While some of the games are perfect copies
of the arcade originals, others suffer from
blurry graphics and grating, high-pitched sound
effects. These issues are generally reserved for the
least entertaining titles in the collection, making them a
minor annoyance at best. Chances are, you're
not going to play Son Son (the preferred form of torture
for the Chinese when they're out of water) or Higemaru (the
bastard child of Pengo and cornball episodes of One
Piece) long enough to complain.
However, a big exception to this
rule is the Street Fighter games, which suffer from the
aforementioned smeared visuals along with the added irritation
of load times after every match. They're short, but
measures could have been taken to better hide them, or
eliminate them entirely. The games themselves are still
very much playable, but using the famous Guile hair index*,
you can tell that what you're getting here isn't quite what
you remember from Aladdin's Castle in 1992.
Capcom Classics Collection is
still one of the better classic game packs on the recent
generation of consoles. That might be part of the
problem, though... these collections haven't been truly
impressive since the mid 1990's. I have yet to find a
release for the new systems that's as satisfying as Midway
Arcade's Greatest Hits on the Saturn, or Konami Arcade
Classics on the Playstation.
* The Guile hair index is
perhaps the most reliable way to gauge the overall quality of
a Street Fighter II translation. The longer the
courageous colonel's crest extends from his forehead, the more
faithful the conversion.