2006... Yo! PSP
The crumbling of the once mighty
Sony empire continues with this
video, featuring the worst game-related rap since
Stivi Paskoski took the mike in the short-lived Video Power television series. This
embarassing film clip and the web site which spawned it
was brought to you by the marketing firm Rigatoni, or Zamboni,
or Rice-A-Roni, or... well, you
get the idea.
Whatever they're called, they
didn't cover their tracks especially well. Not long
I Want For X-Mas Is A PSP debuted, its true origins were
revealed, and gamers flocked to the site to ridicule its
creators. Of course, they probably would have done that
anyway, but the fact that it was a tacky marketing ploy gave
them extra incentive to move in for the kill.
Sony should have followed
Nintendo's lead and just let its fans do all the marketing for
them. They wouldn't have to pay a dime for the
publicity, and they'd get much
2006... Research and
Sorry it's been so long since
I've updated, folks. I've got a lot on my mind at the
moment, not the least of which includes final exams and a
towering research paper. Things are so rough that I've
got to wait a little longer to play Castlevania: Portal of
Ruin. I've had it on reserve at GameStop for months, but
now that Portal has finally been released, I don't dare
distract myself with it. I guess it'll just have to be
my Christmas present for the year... and it'll be my ONLY
Christmas present if a certain employer who shall remain
nameless doesn't hurry up and cut me a check.
All right, enough whining.
I was thinking about offering a best of year special
similar to the one I wrote last
only problem is, I haven't played enough games to really
make the feature work! If you want to nominate some
games for the 2006 Endies, please post 'em on the forum.
I'll make a list of all the categories I want to include in
the feature, and you, faithful readers, can nominate those
games which you feel deserve to be recognized. If I
haven't played a game on your list, I'll try my best to get my
hands on it sometime in the next two months. If all goes
as planned, the 2006 Endies will appear on the Blitz at the
end of February, March tops.
2006... Plays Like the Real Arcade
IGN hasn't impressed me for a
very long time... which is what makes this
review all the
more special. Sure, it reads like a petition, but
Luke Thomas is right to ask his readers to accept nothing less
than the official arcade version of Donkey Kong on the
Wii. Yes, it's an ancient game that many players are too
young to remember. Yes, it's a whole lot easier to dump
a 32K NES rom on the download service than write a
new emulator for Donkey Kong's specialized hardware.
However, if Nintendo is serious about bringing back the
thirty-something gamers who were disillusioned by complicated
control schemes and a hostile online environment, they
would be wise to give them the reason they start playing video
games in the first place, with nothing sacrificed.
This is 2006, Nintendo, and the
Wii is the most powerful system you've ever created. The
tight memory restrictions that you struggled with in 1985 no
longer exist. There's no excuse for you to give us
Donkey Kong without the cement factory, or Super Mario Bros.
without the more challenging levels, or Excitebike without the
bonus rounds, or Duck Hunt without a chance to shoot the
Some people complain that I'm much too
negative. Those people might want to turn off their
computers for the rest of the day, pull up a newspaper,
and read the latest heartwarming installment of Family
I've got nothin' nice to say today, and it's
all about Sega. You know that next-generation Sonic the
Hedgehog game that was supposed to save the franchise?
It's crap. Nearly every professional game reviewer
agrees, with the exception of Dave Halverson... and even the
eternally "optimistic" editor of Play magazine was
pressured to knock his score down from a 9.5 to an
8.5. This has to be a historical moment! Dave
Halverson, the guy who just couldn't get enough of Cybermorph,
has finally found a game that left a bad taste in his mouth
after shamelessly kissing its ass.
Let me illustrate to you just how poorly
received the game has been. Remember Sneak King, the
stealth action title sold at a fast food restaurant for a few
game is getting better ratings
than Sonic the
Wait, there's more! Did you hear about
the Game Boy Advance remake of the very first Sonic the
Hedgehog game? Well, it's been released, and it's
completely terrible. It's like someone took the Genesis
title we all loved as kids and fed it through the rusty meat
grinder of half-assed American game design (hey, just like
Sega's other GBA "gems" Comix Zone and Revenge of
Shinobi!). Even Play couldn't give this one the thumbs
up, although their review is predictably near the top of the
heap of low ratings on
MetaCritic. Let's again
put this into perspective... the latest Veggie
Tales, NickToons, and
Naruto games all received higher scores than this piece
This is the 21st century, Sega. Your
days as a big game developer are long gone; flushed down
the crapper when you cancelled the Dreamcast
and snuffed out what little love that gamers had left for
you. Maybe this isn't clear to you yet, but now that
your most promising developers have vacated and your
other flagship titles have been left rotting on the vine for
years, Sonic is ALL YOU HAVE LEFT. You don't have many
more chances to get it right.
2006... Keep It Simple,
If there's one wish I have for this generation
of consoles, it's that it will spark renewed interest in the
simple but endlessly fun games I remember from my
youth. Over the past ten years, video games have
gotten longer and deeper, without actually
going anywhere. The Tony Hawk series is a perfect
example... the developers keep stretching the stages and
dumping dozens of new tricks into each new sequel, thinking
that more random features will automatically result in an
improved experience. They're not only wrong, but
are pushing away both newcomers who can't deal with the added
complexity, and purists who'd rather skate than play what has
become an RPG on wheels.
With luck, the industry will distance itself
from this distressing trend over the next five years,
instead of more tightly embracing it. After all,
what's the point of playing a video game for eighty hours when
half that time will be spent hunting down slimes, or sailing
around the globe for submerged Triforce pieces? And why
give players fourteen thousand different moves when they'd be
just as happy- and certainly less confused- with a few dozen
All I'm saying is that game developers need to
recognize the difference between improving on a winning
formula and burying it under a pile of extraneous
features. Nintendo claims that its Wii will do just
that, bringing accessibility and fun back to an industry which
has become obsessed with placating a small but
vocal audience. Let's hope they keep this promise,
and that their competitors will be inspired to follow in their
2006... The O'Reilly
Well, it's finally out! No, not the
Wii... I'm talking about the third chapter of Systematix
2006. I was more than a little verbose in my reviews of
the worst game consoles to be released in the last thirty
years, so I hope you'll bear with me.
Now on to the news! Apparently Bill
O'Reilly (the man responsible for such upstanding journalistic
endeavors as A Current Affair and his own nightly
blabfest) has an axe to grind with gamers. In one
of his recent rants, he blamed the violence that broke out in
some lines for the Playstation 3 on the system itself, along
with our society's dependence on machines. Well, you
know there Bill, there's one machine in our society that
numbs more minds than any other. It's called a
television set, and I'll be sure to turn it off the next time
your show airs.
Jerks like O'Reilly make me ashamed to call
myself a Luddite. At least I want people to make the
most of the technology they already have, instead
of throwing it all in the garbage!
2006... Standing on the Edge of the Next
Three days and counting until the Playstation
3 is released... and two days after that, we'll be
treated to the Wii. I haven't had any hands-on
experience with the latter system, but I did give the PS3 a
quick spin at Target last week (you know, the week I didn't
update). I gotta say that I wasn't impressed.
Motorstorm in particular is nothing special at all; it's
just last-gen gaming with a shiny new luster. The
developers tried to find a halfway point between the down and
dirty thrill of off-road racing and the visceral impact
of Burnout, but in the end, you're just left with a lot
of pretty explosions on the top of a
jagged (sometimes not intentionally) mesa. Hmm...
come to think of it, the game isn't as lustrous as
you'd think after all the hype.
As for the Wii, the news that Nintendo is
already working on a DVD-enabled model has got me thinking
that I'd better wait on a purchase. Come on, guys, this
was the system you were supposed to give us in the first
place! I was willing to buy minor upgrades like the Game
Boy Advance SP, Game Boy Micro, and DS Lite, but my generosity
only extends so far. Sorry Nintendo, but this time, I'm
holding onto my money until you do things
Before I go, there's a new chapter of the
page on the site. Go
read it, will 'ya?
2006... Living in the
The third chapter of Josh Lesnick's Pac-Man
retrospective is comin' right at 'ya! This time, the celebrated underground artist and
former editor of Video Apocalypse chronicles Pac-Man's
comeback in the late 1980's, reviewing everything from
proto-platformer Pac-Land to the rather loose conversion of
Ms. Pac-Man for the Sega Genesis.
2006... Song of
Wow, I feel like I've stepped into Bizarro
World! GamePro (yes, the game magazine with almost as
much street cred as Tickle Me Elmo) is taking over the
Electronic Entertainment Expo, and Phil Collins is complaining
that people aren't taking him seriously as a recording
artist. Hey Phil, that'll happen when you
spend six years crooning about orphaned bears
and gorillas who sound (and look... and smell!) just like
There's good news, though. Someone has
finally recognized the brilliance of Solomon's Key, the best
puzzle game not designed by shaggy Russian number
crunchers. It will be one of the first titles released
for Nintendo's Virtual Console service, along with other
unappreciated classics such as Ristar and Super Star
Oddly, no light gun games are included in
the list of launch titles for the Virtual Console, but
hopefully, Nintendo will rectify this gross oversight in
time to satisfy the itchy trigger fingers of
Wii owners by the end of the year. And while you're at
it, guys, give us the arcade version of Duck Hunt so we can
finally shoot that blasted dog!
2006... You Can Do the
As promised, here's the second
chapter in Josh Lesnick's Pac-Man feature. I've also
taken the liberty of working out the kinks in my God Hand
review. You never seem to notice these mistakes in your
work until after you've published it, you know
Speaking of recently published
articles, you might want to head over to 1UP for Game
laundry list of the worst play mechanics in video games from
the past and present.
2006... Huh Huh. He Said, "Golden
Man, I don't even know how they
determine the winners of some of these video game
Let me get this straight, Golden Joystick judges...
you're making Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories your
choice as the best handheld game of the year, even though
it hasn't even been released yet? I'd tell you to wait
until the END of 2006 to make that determination, but I don't
think it would matter much, especially when you're also
telling us that Lara Croft is the year's best video game
character. What year... 1997?
Happy thoughts, Jess... happy
thoughts. All right, here's one! I've written the
first full-length game review for the Blitz in... uh,
forever! You'll find it in the usual place, next to the canned beans and Grape-Nuts.
Tomorrow, I'll publish the second page of Josh Lesnick's
Pac-Man retrospective. That ought to hold you over until
Halloween, at least!
2006... The End of
I'm stunned by the fallout over
Sony's legal actions against import retailer Lik-Sang.
Angry gamers have been shouting from the mountaintops that
they'll boycott every Sony product that comes down the pike,
whether it's the Playstation 3 or the latest Will Farrell
There's only one thing I can say
in response... THIS is the last straw for you?
After everything Sony's done to make the lives of gamers
miserable, from the refusal to publish 2D games to the
outrageous price of the Playstation 3, you're going to stop
buying Sony products because they drove a stake through
the heart of an expendable and easily replaced Hong Kong
Maybe I'm just saying this
because I've always preferred National Console Support, but
geez people... a sense of perspective is in order here!
There are plenty of good reasons to hate Sony. This one
is pretty far down the list.
2006... RIP, Computer Gaming
First things first... Josh
Lesnick's popular Pac-Man History
page has been
completely rewritten, with a better layout and even more
information about Namco's insatiable sphere. The first
installment of this six part series is now available on The
Gameroom Blitz, with more to come in the next few weeks.
Special thanks go to Josh for all his hard work on this
So, have you heard about the
recent cancellation of Computer Gaming World? It's
funny... I never read the magazine (I was more of a
Compute! and Ahoy! man myself), but I still mourn
its loss. After more than twenty years of
publication, the magazine will be retitled Games For Windows,
effectively ending both its life and an era where
games were available for other operating
As hard as it may be to believe
now, there was a time when there was real competition in the
computer industry. Back when Windows was just a
shell for DOS, there were four or five brands of desktop
computer, all very incompatible with one another and
all fighting tooth and nail to become the dominant
force in the market. The first 16-bit computers
had just hit store shelves, introducing concepts like
multimedia, multitasking, and arcade-quality gaming which
helped shape the modern computing experience.
Those were exciting times.
The limited technology of the mid 1980's made every advance
a monumental achievement, and each user had a
distinct identity due to the wide selection of competing
products available. Today, nobody pays
much attention to brand names, but twenty years ago, the
model of computer you purchased made a big difference in
the way you worked and played. After you adapted to the
unique quirks of your own machine's interface, anything else
seemed foreign and backward to you. This bred a
fierce loyalty to home computers that makes today's
gaming fanboys seem utterly indifferent by comparison.
After all, you didn't just own a computer... you owned a
Commodore, or an Apple, or an Atari.
All that ended ten years ago,
when IBM compatibles had saturated the market and Windows 95
became the operating system of choice for a new,
less geeky generation of home computer users. It's
anyone's guess why it took so long for Computer Gaming World
to reflect this paradigm shift. Perhaps the editorial
staff was reluctant to let go of the time when
diversity in the computer market was commonplace.
If you'd like to relive the days before Microsoft
monopolized the industry, you can download back issues of
Computer Gaming World from this
2006... Lumines: Yours for Four Easy
Well, this ought to kill any enthusiasm that may have remained
for Lumines. Bandai's got a lot of nerve forcing
the player make not one, not two, but FOUR seperate
purchases before they can have the entire game! By
the time Bandai is done shaking you for
loose change, you'll have paid nearly forty dollars for
Lumines Live. That's just too much for an Xbox Live
Arcade release and way too much for a simple puzzle game, even
if it does feature Madonna shaking her saggy booty in the
Let's face it, folks.
Microsoft's support of Xbox Live Arcade has been, to put it
politely, sad sack. They've been missing deadlines left
and right, and when they do finally release
the games they promised over a month ago, they're
underwhelming and overpriced. They could afford to phone
it in for the past year, but now that they actually HAVE
competition, Microsoft will need to step up their game.
No more weekly offerings, if they feel like
it. No more charging five dollars for games we've
already purchased on a half-dozen different platforms.
Finally, no more gouging customers for the few titles that
actually ARE worth the download.
If Microsoft settles for business
as usual, they won't stand a chance against Sony's
high-quality original offerings and Nintendo's enormous back
catalog of classics. Both the Playstation 3 and the Wii
are playing to win... will the Xbox 360?
It's a new era for The Gameroom
Blitz! After being hosted on Overclocked for five years,
the site has packed up its bags and headed for
In celebration of the move, I've
redesigned the front page, giving it all the functionality of
the previous index with a lot more style. I
was nostalgic for the old days of the Blitz, with its
banners which paid tribute to the great video games
of the past. Now that the site has gotten a fresh start,
I hope to recapture that wide-eyed admiration for
the hobby that's been missing from the Blitz for the past
I've also taken this opportunity
to trim some of the fat from the site. It's gotten
rather bloated over the past ten years, bursting at the seams
with graphics and other files that haven't been used for
years. All of this debris has been swept away,
along with a couple of pages which I felt should be
left in the past. I will bring back the
Sega Saturn reviews that are currently absent from the
new site, but first I'll need to decide whether to integrate
them into the blue page design or just leave them the way they
were on Overclocked.
There's one other thing missing
from the site which you probably won't miss at all...
advertising! You shouldn't find any of that nonsense on
the Blitz while it's hosted here at Lakupo; a sharp contrast
to the mountain of pop-ups that covered the site back at its
old home. To those offers of homemade cigarettes
and herbal Viagra, I give a hearty and heartfelt
goodbye... and good riddance!
One last thing before I go... I'd
like to thank Lakupo for the server space, and my buddy
Freakservo for pointing me in his general direction.
Kudos to you both! Now, without further ado, let the
2006... The Debut of Silver
The Game Boy Advance has
one. The PSP has one. Hell, even the frickin'
Gizmondo has one! It's long overdue, but at long last,
the Nintendo DS has its own section on the web site.
Check it out and let me know what you think of it on the
I wish I had more to
say, but that's pretty much it for now. I'll catch
you on the flipside!