FALL 2007

Posts from October, November, and December 2007.

December 31, 2007...  Sad-vertising

I just wanted to get in one last update before the year ends.  Don't worry, I'll make this short and sweet!  First, there's a new video on my YouTube page.  If you were a fan of the Sega Saturn, I strongly recommend that you give it a look.  Second, this embarrassing promotional video posted by another YouTube user makes you wonder how anyone could have been a fan of the Saturn, including myself.  Really, Sega... did you honestly think that bald women, disembodied heads, and theatre-hopping Klansmen were going to sell systems, or was this our punishment for not buying the 32X? 

Finally, I'm getting a lot more mileage out of my copy of Fire Pro Wrestling Returns now that I've got a MAX Drive.  The default characters were no fun at all, but now that I have access to Phil Parent's excellent edit packs, I can finally fill the ring with all my favorite wrestlers from the 1980's and 1990's.  I've even learned to create my own characters, starting with a reasonable facsimile of that fierce fightin' fanboy Segata Sanshiro.  Oh Segata, I love that ju-doo that you do so well!

Well, that's it.  See you next year!

December 28, 2007...  Crash and Burn (or, the decline of Burnout)

If there's one company that knows exactly what its fans want, then gives them something completely different out of spite, it's Electronic Arts.  EA's latest thumb in the eye of gamers is Burnout Paradise, which brings something entirely new to the popular series... boredom.  The arcade-style racing you loved from previous games has been integrated into a real-world environment, which means less of the driving excitement you've come to expect from Burnout and more of the ordinary driving you've come to expect from your daily trips to work.  You can't just start a race, oh no... you've got to find the starting line on a hopelessly tangled web of streets, highways, and back alleys, then drive there with one eye on a map and the other on the eerily deserted roads.  The only thing missing from the mind-numbing experience are the kids in the back seat shouting "Are we there yet?  I need to go to the bathroooom!  Daddy, do we have to play Burnout Paradise?!"

Preening Criterion developer Alex Ward is quick to defend the aimless new direction of the Burnout series, patting himself on the back for the new design while insulting the collective intelligence of his critics.  "There's no need for replays!" he proclaims, so blinded by his arrogance and self-delusion that he can't see what a pain in the ass it would be to drive three miles to return to the last remaining goal on the map.  "Who needs a crash mode?" he asks, blissfully unaware that many Burnout fans still want it and expect it from the series.  "We're the experts... we know what we're doing here!" he boasts, conveniently forgetting about all the other dumb play mechanics Criterion introduced to the series that were swept under the rug shortly afterward.  Do you know what you're doing here, Alex?  Do you really?  Let's take a look at your recent, post-EA sell-out track record...



Introduced: Burnout 3: Takedown (2004)

Concept: Add a target to the playfield that sends the player's points through the roof in the crash mode

Problem: Multipliers were worth so much they became more important than actually crashing the car

Removed: Burnout Legends (2005)



Introduced: Burnout Revenge (2005)

Concept: Lets players use incoming traffic as deadly projectiles

Problem: Removed challenged from most races; resulted in the most pointless Burnout event EVER

Removed: Burnout Paradise (2008)



Introduced: Burnout Revenge (2005)

Concept: Challenges players to time their starts perfectly for a speed boost in the crash mode

Problem: Blew up cars well before they actually reached the crash site, annoying gamers

Removed: Burnout Revenge (2006)



Introduced: Burnout 3: Takedown (2004)

Concept: Justifies the introduction of music from Fall Out Boy and other lackluster artists

Problem: Smarmy morons made the player want to run over the DJs rather than concentrate on racing

Removed: Not yet.  Keep hoping, folks...



Introduced: Burnout 2: Point of Impact (2002)

Concept: Send a car careening into rush hour traffic, filling the street with wreckage

Problem: Post-EA acquisition Criterion wanted to be thorough in taking the enjoyment out of Burnout

Removed: Burnout Dominator (2007)


Hmm, looks like a whole lot of mistakes to me!  And the marketing-mandated, wholly uninspired sandbox design of Burnout Paradise will be your biggest one yet.  You've taken the purity of Burnout and polluted it with adventure elements that nobody wanted, just like Activision did with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 back in 2002.  You have the gall to claim that this adds value to the game, but let me ask you this... if I take this juicy steak, then stuff it into a food processor along with an equal amount of cereals and fillers, have I given you more for your money?  No, I've made dog food.  And while there may be more of it, it's sure not as tasty as the steak. 

December 15, 2007...  Two Sticks, No Joy (controller reviews)

I've put another semester of college behind me, giving me ample time to work on the site until the next one begins.  Viva la winter break!


So what's happened during my two week absence?  Well, I've been looking for a suitable replacement for my Xbox 360 wireless controller.  It's just not up to snuff for Pac-Man Championship Edition or many of the other games on the Xbox Live Arcade service.  Unfortunately, extensive research (and a hundred dollars wasted on third party peripherals) has proved to me that there aren't any viable alternatives to it.


It's no great surprise that the MadCatz Arcade Stick is terrible.  The first hint is that it was developed by MadCatz, which has no business making controllers, or doing much of anything except keeping Dr. Claw company while he plots to kill Inspector Gadget.  The second are all the negative reviews this stick has gotten from the mainstream press.  It deserves every unkind word it's gotten... although its design suggests great versatility, none of the dials, sticks, switches, and other assorted geegaws on the controller are of much use to the player. 


The spinner that surrounds the second analog stick is especially heartbreaking.  A controller with a built-in dial is the dream of every red-blooded classic gamer, but MadCatz was intent on killing that dream with cheap plastic parts.  Without ball bearings to support it, the spinner just grinds against the base of the unit, making it feel sluggish and deliberate in most games.  Instead of spinning your ship into position with a flick of the wrist in Asteroids, you'll crank the spinner until the ship slowly creaks its way toward the right direction... and by then, you'll probably be struck by a stray chunk of rock.


Even the games packed with the controller don't work particularly well with it.  While you're playing Time Pilot, you'll find your ship constantly stuck in position and unable to turn, forcing you to twist the spinner in the opposite direction to get it unstuck.  Naturally, the spinner's no good for a game like Frogger, which requires you to move in four directions.  The only pack-in that seems to work with the dial is Astropop Deluxe, and this clone of Data East's Magical Drop works just as well with a joystick.


You could use the joystick on the top of the controller, but why bother?  That elongated shaft is there just for show... deep down inside, it's just an oversized analog thumbstick, with all that this implies.  Its wide range of motion is ill-suited to 2D games, which require lightning-fast movements in a limited number of directions.  The face buttons ARE digital, but they're also nearly flush with the base of the unit, making them as useless as everything else on this misbegotten controller.


Hori's EX2 joystick is a little less disappointing.  Hell, for sixty dollars, it ought to be!  However, it's still not the right choice for most old-school games.  Although it's truly digital, the stick on the EX2 is much too loose and has very little "throw," resulting in many frustrating sessions of Pac-Man Championship Edition.  The six button layout suggests that it would be perfect for Street Fighter II, but the odd placement of those buttons coupled with their light, unsteady feel makes you wonder if there's ANY game that's right for this joystick.


One week and a hundred wasted dollars later, I feel like I'm back on square one with my Xbox 360.  It looks like I'll have to return to my original plan of making an adapter for the system... at this point, I think it's the only thing that will truly satisfy me.  Fortunately, someone's already way ahead of me, not only building their own adapter but providing the schematics on his web site.  I just have to find a handful of these optocouplers and I'll be in business!

November 29, 2007...  The Greatest Game in the Galaxy

Before I begin, I should probably mention that I've added four reviews to the Nintendo DS page.  Yes, new reviews of new games for a new system!  Even I'm a little surprised!  Now that I've got that announcement out of the way, here's what I've been up to in the past eleven days...

Last week, I traded my copy of BioShock and a handful of other games for Super Mario Galaxy and Fire Pro Wrestling R.


Seven days later, I do not regret that choice.


I had my doubts about Super Mario Galaxy, even after I first started the game... but after collecting a few power stars, it all started to come into focus.  When people criticize Nintendo, complaints about the monotony of Mario games is the first thing to escape from their lips, and the gimmickry of the Wiimote follows close behind.  However, those criticisms fall apart the moment they reach Super Mario Galaxy.  This particular Mario title is like none that have come before it, toying with both perspective and gravity to create an experience with more dimension than the usual 3D game.  Running off the edge of a platform doesn't necessarily spell doom for the pudgy plumber... more often than not, the suspended land mass will just flip over, revealing hidden goodies like coins and star bits. 


So what the heck are star bits?  Well, that's another aspect of the gameplay that distances it from past Mario titles.  Star bits act as both ammunition and currency... once these colorful gems have been collected, they can be used to stun certain enemies, or feed friendly flames which unlock new areas.  The star bits are fired by pointing the Wiimote at the screen and squeezing a trigger, making Super Mario Galaxy the first Nintendo game to combine platforming and light gun action since 1986's Gumshoe.  Fortunately, it's a lot more enjoyable here.  Mario can also knock his enemies for a loop with a properly timed spin, or just stomp them into mushroom flapjacks.  Sometimes you'll have to combine the two attacks, like when you're dealing with steel-plated Goombas who can't be harmed with star bits.


You'd think that platforming with one controller while aiming with the other would be awkward, but it comes together pretty well after a few minutes of practice.  However, the mind-bending perspective is a bit more bewildering.  Many of the worlds in Super Mario Galaxy are spherical, and watching them roll under your feet as you run can be disorienting at first.  As a general rule, the game forces you to think in unorthodox ways.  Merely shooting star bits at what you think might be a weak point won't get the job done... you'll often have to trick the bad guys into hurting themselves to defeat them.  For instance, there's a fun boss battle that sets you on the head of a massive robot.  Its power source is guarded by a circular fence, and the only way to crack a hole in this protective barrier is to lure exploding Bullet Bills to it.  Brilliant ideas like this one aren't just reserved for the boss fights... they're all over the place, keeping you eagerly anticipating each new challenge.


I've spent so much time gushing about Super Mario Galaxy that I almost forgot about Fire Pro Wrestling Returns!  Well, aside from a frustratingly obtuse edit mode, this is as good as it gets for fans of the venerable series.  I was worried that the game would be a carbon copy of Fire Pro D, right down to the unforgiving grapple timing, but it's been tweaked to give less seasoned players a shot at getting in a few throws and holds.  There are also more modes, more moves, and more technique than in any past Fire Pro release, making it the sale of the century for just twenty bucks (or less, if you're a smart shopper!).  I just wish there was still a mock-WCW league available... along with a WCW to mock!  I tell you, wrestling just hasn't been the same since that fateful conversation between Rick Steiner and Chucky the killer doll...


November 18, 2007...  Fire Pro Fury

First order of business... there's a new review on the YouTube page.  This time, it's Titan Warriors, an intense vertically scrolling shooter that Capcom left in limbo for twenty years.  I'd suggest you give it a look, and if you're interested in playing the game yourself, you can download a copy from the Lost Levels web site.  With that out of the way, it's time for my latest cranky rant!

A long time ago, in an age where the 16-bit game console was king and people not only watched The Simpsons, but enjoyed it, a rap group called 2 Live Crew was famous for pushing the envelope of good taste and infuriating parents' groups with songs like Fuck Martinez.  Fifteen years later, the haze of youth no longer hinders our vision, and it's easy to see 2 Live Crew for the talentless numbskulls they were.  However, there was still some small grain of wisdom in their profane ramblings, which immediately becomes clear when you read this review by GameSpot's Alex Navarro.

Yes, fuck Navarro.  Fuck him hard with a railroad spike, for he fails to recognize what should be clear to any gamer old enough to remember the 16-bit era.  That is, "2D graphics" and "Super NES graphics" are not interchangable terms.  The distinction is lost on today's game reviewers, who are eager to throw more dirt on a style of artistic presentation that (despite their best efforts) refuses to stay dead.

Despite their constant denial, there is a difference between the 2D graphics of the early 1990's and the sprite-based graphics of today.  Today's game systems are more powerful than anyone could have imagined fifteen years ago, capable of displaying enormous characters in razor-sharp resolutions, set against backgrounds so rich with color and detail they could be put on display in the Louvre.  It's foolish to assume that these features would only benefit games with polygonal graphics, as titles like Guilty Gear X and Odin Sphere clearly demonstrate. 

If the Super NES could barely handle Street Fighter Alpha 2, what chance would it possibly have to run either of these games?  The system's hardware is just too limited.  With a clock speed of 3.58MHz, an 8-bit onscreen color palatte, and sprites that max out at 64x64 pixels, a Super NES version of Guilty Gear X would be severely compromised... and a port of Odin Sphere would be asking far too much of the console.  There's no question that the Super NES was capable of pushing some very attractive graphics, but some things are just beyond its capabilities.

Things like Fire Pro Wrestling Returns.  From its humble beginnings on the Turbografx-16 and Sega Genesis, the series has never pushed the boundaries of its host systems visually.  However, there have been undeniable improvements made with each migration to a more powerful game console.  The wrestlers have tripled in size, the once stiff animation has become progressively smoother, and the playfields have gone from abstract diamonds in primary colors to faithful reproductions of real-life wrestling rings.  These pictures illustrate just how much Fire Pro has evolved in the past ten years...

If you honestly can't see the difference between these two games, you're either blind or stupid.  Either way, you've got no business making spurious claims that Fire Pro Returns, or indeed, any game with 2D graphics, looks like it belongs on the Super NES.  In fact, if your sense of perspective is so limited that you would compare a game like Capcom vs. SNK 2 to the output of a console from the early 1990's (Tommy...), maybe you shouldn't be reviewing games at all.

November 12, 2007...  Cartoon Cavalcade

Well, it was fun while it lasted, but it certainly didn't last long enough.  After months of dedicated gameplay, my Atari 5200 has perished, evidently the victim of a power surge.  Did I mention that this was after installing a composite video mod and building a countless number of joystick adapters for the system?  That's important, because if you don't know that, you won't understand how furious I was when my 5200 showed its first (then second, then third...) blue screen of death.

Until I've got the cash for a replacement, I'll have to get by with all my other game systems.  You know, the Nintendo Wii, the Xbox 360, the Playstation 2, the Nintendo DS, both the fat and slim PSPs... poor me, huh? 

Speaking of that, I was actually thinking about selling off my silver PSP.  It hasn't been getting much of a workout, since I haven't been able to pull off the Pandora's Battery mod and since it doesn't appreciably speed up the painfully long load times in games like Me and My Katamari, even with the added memory buffer.  The TV out and more responsive D-pad just aren't enough to dispel my buyer's remorse... I sank two hundred dollars into this thing, and all it's done since I bought it is take up space in my closet along with that other ill-advised splurge purchase, the Nomad.  I'm thiiiis close to washing my hands of them both and sticking with my fat PSP for all my Genesis gaming needs!

And now for something completely different... some brief reviews of the latest television cartoons.  Ordinarily, I'd put these on the Frame by Frame page, but I've only watched an episode or two of these shows... less, in the case of the latest Scooby-Doo revival.  In fact, let's get that one out of the way so I can get to the good stuff...

SHAGGY AND SCOOBY-DOO GET A CLUE:  The only people without a clue here are the producers.  They should know after 1983's 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo that separating Shaggy and Scoob from the rest of the cast is a guaranteed recipe for disaster.  Yet that's exactly what they've done with this idiotic comedy series, which divorces the boy and his dog from the mysteries, the rubber-faced monsters, and everything else that made the original series so much fun for late-blooming baby boomers and the older members of Generation X.  Instead, they just hang out in a mansion, antagonizing some bionic boob who's undoubtedly the offspring of Don Knotts and a James Bond villain.  Even the artwork bears no resemblence to the Hanna-Barbera classic, looking like it was pulled from the crummy second season of Johnny Bravo.  This departure from the original formula was the most miserable idea to come from the franchise since Scrappy-Doo.  I'm confident that in ten years, Get A Clue will be regarded as the New Coke of Scooby-Doo shows... if it's remembered at all!

CARE BEARS:  Laugh all you want, but I have a soft spot for these brightly colored runts!  Like Get A Clue, the new Care Bears show goes to great lengths to distance itself from the past two series.  The cast has been abbreviated, with the few remaining characters swapping genders or changing personalities.  Also, there's a new green bear that serves as the comic relief, tripping over everything in his path, and a short-tempered steampunk villain who seems remarkably out of place.  Cyborgs in Care-A-Lot?  I have a funny feeling that this is going to be a hard one to swallow for the show's target audience.  This next-gen update lacks the carefully hidden subversive humor of Nelvana's Care Bears, but at the same time, it's not as slow and sappy as molasses, like the original DiC series.  The bottom line is that it's fun for kids, while being relatively easy for adults to tolerate.

SKUNK FU:  An elderly panda teaching furry, Flash-drawn animals martial arts?  Sure it's been done before, but it's been done BETTER in Skunk Fu.  Here's a show that somehow straddles the fence between ancient Eastern culture and Western cartoon slapstick, and makes it all work together.  Although none of the characters are especially endearing, the battles are fast-paced, clever, and dynamic; just like every Jackie Chan film made between Cannonball Run and The Tuxedo.  Moreover, the animation is fantastic for a Flash-based series... it's not stiff and artificial like Ying-Yang Yo!, yet never goes overboard with spastic gestures like Mucha Lucha!  Skunk Fu was developed by a small animation studio along with a handful of Canadian producers, so it may get ignored next to all the heavily hyped thirty-minute toy commercials on Saturday morning television.  However, even if Skunk Fu doesn't make waves on Kids' WB, I'm sure that the Cartoon Saloon's next series will be a smashing success.

EON KID:  Marty?  You're naming the hero of this computer rendered cartoon MARTY?  Look, that didn't work for the Japanese game system and it's not gonna work here.  The only person, place, or thing on Earth that should ever be named Marty is a cranky Jewish retiree on his way to Florida.  All right... with that out of the way, let's talk about this action series.  The dull, lifeless animation makes Eon Kid seem like it's been sitting around in a Korean film vault for a few years before it made its American debut, and the robots who menace Marty (snicker) were lifted straight out of early black and white episodes of Astro Boy.  So no, it's not what you'd call cutting-edge, but the show does have a few fresh ideas.  The title character is equipped with a hydraulic arm that can be used as a battering ram on its lowest setting, and transforms the wearer into a Mega Man-esque android when danger raises its armor-plated head.  The Eon Kid design is pretty awesome, enveloping Marty from head to toe in gleaming metal, but everything else about the show stinks like spoiled kimchee (and that crap stinks even when it's fresh!).

CHOWDER:  Last on the list is Chowder, the latest work from the mind of C.H. Greenblatt.  He's the guy who wrote all the best episodes of Spongebob Squarepants and The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, so you can imagine how fantastic a cartoon created entirely by the man would be.  It's not the kind of show that jumps out of the television and shakes you by the shirt collar like The Fairly Oddparents or Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends, but Chowder has its own dialed-down charm, along with an appealingly alien world and an art style that hearkens back to the good old days of Schoolhouse Rock.  Chowder also marks Dana "Master Shake" Snyder's first regular appearance in a G-rated cartoon, and he's a perfect fit as the slightly smarmy, marginally pathetic fruit stand manager Gazpacho.  If you like your cartoons loud and screamy, this one isn't for you, but if you're sick of the frantic antics of Foster's and need something to settle your nerves, Chowder is just the ticket.

Also, I don't know what the big deal was with the Grim Adventures of the Kids Next Door crossover.  After a week of non-stop hype, all Cartoon Network had to offer was a thirty-minute cartoon that was heavy on the KND and somehow made Mandy even more insufferable than usual.  The only thing about the show that was actually entertaining were the end credits, with still pictures of crossovers that would have been much more enjoyable than this one.  Hey, I'd watch Samurai Mac!

November 4, 2007...  Indifference... the New Scent by Calvin Kline

I'm taking a break from the site, because I don't have a damn thing to say.  Frankly, I'm having a great deal of difficulty caring about anything right now.

October 28, 2007...  Last Exit (also, Omega Five and Xbox Live freebies)

My kingdom for some motivation to update this site!

All I can really think of to talk about right now are a few of the games that were either just released or will be showing up on Xbox Live Arcade soon.  Every Extend Extra Extreme was a lot more exciting than I thought it would be... I played previous versions of the game and wasn't impressed, but E4 left me detonating glowing shapes and bobbing my head to the beat all night long.  For the first time, I feel like Tetsuya Mizoguchi has created that perfect mix of music and gameplay that he's been working hard to create over the past seven years.

Then there's Exit.  Opinions on this game were evenly divided when it was first released for the PSP, and after playing its Xbox Live Arcade counterpart I can easily understand both points of view.  On one hand, you've got a great looking action game with a funky jazz/techno beat and a clear artistic direction.  I can't stress enough how important this is in the 21st century.  Today's systems are powerful enough to display practically anything you can imagine, meaning that good graphics just aren't good enough... your artwork must make a strong statement to be truly effective.  Exit does just that, with a style that evokes memories of hard-boiled detective novels and pop art from the 1950's.

But that's only one side of the coin, unfortunately.  The other's all green and crusty, like a penny left in the ashtray of your car for a few years.  Exit's control is so stiff and mechanical it'll make you run to the first Prince of Persia for relief.  You must take every move you make step by laborious step, and puzzles can only be solved EXACTLY as the developers had intended, without any room for deviation or error.  It's really a shame, too, because there's so much to like about this game, yet the robotic control leaves all of its qualities dangling just out of your reach like a carrot hanging on a strand of barbed wire.

From the already released to the soon to be, we have Omega Five, a Natsume shooter very much in the vein of Forgotten Worlds.  Longtime readers will recognize Forgotten Worlds as the game that convinced me to purchase a Genesis way back in 1991, so this unofficial sequel gets my seal of approval right out of the starting gate.  The film clip on XBLA suggests that Omega Five looks as impressive now as Forgotten Worlds did over fifteen years ago, with high-definition, wide-screen visuals that make every explosion more earth-shattering and every screen-filling boss more mind-blowing.  I'm not digging the characters- didn't we already see that brawny monk in a million other Japanese games?- but if the gameplay makes the same impression those graphics had, I could learn to live with them.

Oh yes, there's one other thing.  Right now, Microsoft and Warner Bros. are giving away a free copy of What's Opera, Doc? to promote the release of a hundred Looney Toons episodes on the Xbox Live Marketplace.  Any cartoon connoisseir will tell you that the Looney Toons shorts vary wildly in quality, from the highs of 1950's Robert McKimson to the lows of 1960's Friz Freleng, but What's Opera, Doc? is top-tier all the way; a musical spoof that ranks up there as one of Chuck Jones' best works.  When you watch the cartoon again and laugh at all the jokes that sailed over your head when you were a kid, you'll be glad you took the time to download it.

October 14, 2007...  Bioshock vs. Halo 3

It's been a week and a half since I've updated the site, but not much has changed.  I'm still obsessed with the Atari 5200, spending nearly all my free time with the system while leaving the other ones covered in dust.  The Wii is on its third coat despite the best efforts of Sin and Punishment, Treasure's long-delayed Nintendo 64 shooter.  The game is fun, sure, but it would be a lot MORE entertaining if it took advantage of the system's motion sensitive controllers.  The three wimpy control options offered in S&P just aren't enough to get the job done.

The Xbox 360 gets a little more of my attention, thanks to Bioshock and Halo 3.  At first, Bioshock was my favorite of the two titles, but after graduating from the demo to the full game, I'm not so sure.  Bioshock takes an approach to the genre that's very much like the Xbox 360 launch title Condemned... in other words, the artistic direction and horror theme take precedence over the gameplay.  That works pretty well the first time through, but the stifling linearity and single-minded focus on the storyline leaves you with a hollow shell of a game the next time you play it.  Plus, the creepy atmosphere is really starting to get under my skin.  Even rescuing the Little Sisters gives me the heebie-jeebies!

Halo 3's sleek futuristic look is more my speed, and the gameplay is a lot more rewarding.  The stages in Bioshock always feel so cramped and claustrophobic, but that's never a problem in Halo 3.   The wide open spaces are not only more inviting, but they expand your strategic options and add excitement to each battle.  I also like having an arsenal of laser cannons, machine guns, and needle launchers available to me from the very beginning.  Bioshock adopts that plodding Metroid style of weapon acquisition where you've got to find firearms to gain access to new areas.  That worked pretty well back when Metroid was first released, but twenty years later, hunting down glorified keys for thinly disguised doors just starts to feel like a cocktease.

Well, that's all I've got to say.  It feels good to update again... maybe I should do it more often!

October 4, 2007...  Bram Stoker's Wiimote Jacket

Never one to underestimate the stupidity or litigiousness of the American public, Nintendo had opted to pack all standard controllers for the Nintendo Wii with a plastic jacket.  That jacket includes a cushioned bumper on the front which protects your television in the event of a wrist strap malfunction brought on by Wii Sports, the game you had already played to death last spring. 

There's just one problem, though.  This isn't one of those stylish smoking jackets worn by the fathers on 1950's television sitcoms.  This is an entirely different kind of jacket... the ugly kind that makes your formerly fashion conscious controller look like this:

Maybe you guys should have held onto this design until after Konami released a new Castlevania game for the Wii.  In fact, since series creator Koji Igarashi seems reluctant to make one, you definitely should have waited for it.

Insultingly unnecessary peripherals aside, I've got three new Atari 5200 game reviews on the site, with more on the way.  I don't know what it is about this system that keeps me coming back for more... I suppose it's just a combination of nostalgic craving and a need for games that take five minutes to finish, rather than fifteen minutes to start.  That would explain why I've played Wizard of Wor five times in the past couple of weeks, but haven't touched Bioshock at all since I first bought it.