Posts from July, August, and September 2010.

September 23, 2010... Bing Brings the Bribery

You know, I made it a point to avoid Bing for the past year and a half, but Google's recent about face on net neutrality (a pet cause of mine, in case you hadn't noticed from the dozens of Twitter posts) coupled with a recent offer that lets you exchange points earned on the search engine for the Xbox 360's online currency has me thinking that I should give it a chance.  Hey, if Google can abandon its principles, why can't I?

So, the tech specs for Nintendo's 3DS have been revealed by Digital Foundry, and I'm... well, not so much disappointed as confused.  The raw numbers are anything but impressive, with the system packing two 266MHz processors, a single 166MHz graphics chip, and 64 megs of RAM.  However, developers are insistent that you'll be playing with power when you buy a 3DS, comparing the capabilities of Nintendo's latest handheld to those of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.  I'm as skeptical about these claims as Tiny Cartridge editor Eric Calioli, but I suppose the only way we'll know for sure is when the system is in our hands this... well, nobody knows for sure when it'll be released.  However, since September is nearly over without so much as a peep from Nintendo, we can probably count out that rumored holiday launch.

All right, enough out of me!  I've got Microsoft Points to stripmine from Bing!

September 18, 2010... We're All A Part Of The Hiber-nation

Funny how depression and inertness go hand in hand, isn't it?  When you're not feeling happy, you don't feel like doing much of anything.  Even playing video games becomes a chore, which is the exact opposite of what a video game is supposed to be!

I must forge onward, though, since I just received a handful of rechargeable batteries in the mail.  They're not just any rechargeables, though... they're Sanyo Eneloops, which are supposed to hold a charge and keep it there.  That's in sharp contrast to my old green label Duracells, which would sputter out a couple of days after being juiced up, whether I was using them or not.  Nuts to that!  If I am in the mood for video games, I want my batteries to be ready for action right away, rather than after an overnight charge.

I'm going to break in these beauties with a couple hours of Super Mario Galaxy 2 later tonight.  I'm still not convinced that it rivals Mass Effect 2 as the game of the year, but I won't be able to say for sure until I've spent some serious time with it.

Before I go, here's some super-condensed gaming news:

* New PSP.  This one's specially designed for Monster Hunter, with a larger, more comfortable analog thumbpad and... not much else.  Well, it's got decals on the back!  Yeah, I'm really reaching here.

* Activision wants to sell a DVD filled with Starcraft II cut scenes.  I guess Bobby Kotick was worried he was getting soft and wanted to prove to the world that he's still able (and eager) to put the screws to his customers.

* Twin martial artists Yun and Yang will be introduced to the arcade version of Super Street Fighter IV, with the characters expected to migrate to home consoles shortly afterward.  As long as you're pulling characters from Street Fighter III, Capcom, why not show us a little Elena love?

* Feeling increasingly pinched by flagging interest in video games on their shores, Japanese publishers are turning to American software and hardware for their salvation.  So many Japanese titles are being developed for the Kinect that you'd have a hard time telling that the Xbox 360 was a colossal failure in that country.

Thanks to Joystiq, Andriasang, etc. etc. for the information.

September 15, 2010... Unleash The Beast

Sorry this is a touch late.  Okay, three days isn't so much a "touch" as "getting to third base," but you get the idea.  Anyway, I thought it was high time for a new banner, and with all the talk of progressive rock in the forum, this seemed like the right one to use.  Oh, Shadow of the Beast, you're almost as gorgeous as you were twenty years ago!  Too bad your gameplay still stinks.

That's all for now.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have to dance around and giggle like a schoolgirl on helium about the news that Radiant Silvergun is coming to Xbox Live.  Wait, there's a sequel to Fire Pro Wrestling, too?  Oh man, this night just gets better and better!

September 12, 2010... We Are The Galaxians

I don't like talking about National Exploit Your Voters With Fear Day, but there was one great thing that came out of 9/11 this year.  Some Bible-thumping boob who tried to burn the Koran was thwarted in the most gnarly way possible by a skateboarder, who snatched it out of his hands before he could set the book ablaze.  Now there's a trick you won't see in the next Tony Hawk game!  Special thanks go to mi amigo Shawn Struck for catching this news.

What's with this sudden pissing match between the world's religions, anyway?  It seems like every other day, some blowhard is torching someone else's holy text.  I don't remember Ronald McDonald incinerating Whoppers ("How's THAT for flame-broiling?!") or representatives from Coca-Cola pouring Pepsi down the toilet.  As far as I'm concerned, it's all just different brands of the same crap.

(Why yes, I have become disillusioned with Christianity lately!  Can you tell?)

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you all that I brought this hot little number home from a nearby yard sale:

It was just a dollar, too!  Can you believe it?  As a big fan of Coleco's miniature arcade cabinets, finding this especially rare model was like Christmas in September.  I wasn't able to get it to run at first, but a thorough cleaning and a bending of the spring in the battery holder got it right back on its feet.

So how is it?  Well, like most tabletop games from the 1980s, Coleco's Galaxian ain't much by today's standards.  I've got a TV game stashed away in a box somewhere that plays a much closer conversion of Galaxian, along with four other Namco arcade classics.  However, this little machine must have been a mindblower back in 1982.  It actually plays three games, including the expected headliner, an amusingly shameless clone of Space Invaders, and a head to head title that plays a lot like the arcade obscurity Space Laser.  Even the kids who had to spend nearly sixty bucks for this back in the bygone days of bizarre haircuts and unreasonably expensive technology got a lot for their money.  The realistic cabinet design is a bonus... the marquee and artwork bordering the screen are both lifted straight from the arcade game, making it fun to have around even when you're not playing it.

There are a couple of other things I wanted to mention about this little marvel before I sign off.  First, there's not a single mention of the original creators of Galaxian anywhere on this damn thing, inside or out.  Midway gets all the credit, which is likely why Namco kicked them to the curb and licensed its games to another American distributor in the mid 1980s.  Second, I want you to take a close look at this logo, spirited away in the dead of night from RetroCPU:

It took me over thirty years to realize that it was a knock-off of Roger Dean's style.  I've been a progressive rock fan for a decade and was obsessed with Psygnosis the decade before... how did I not notice this earlier?!

September 10, 2010... Project Sixty Dollar

This can't be good news for GameStop.  An appeals court has ruled that computer software companies that only sell the license to their software, not the software itself, can legally bar owners from reselling it.  It's not hard to see the neighboring video game industry exploiting this ruling to its own ends... just a few quick changes to the fine print in the back of the instruction manual and blammo, each game becomes an anchor which the buyer can't legally throw overboard.

I would advise game publishers to approach this ruling with extreme caution... with the economy in a slump and gamers more pressed than ever for cash, selling what they already have is often the only way they can afford new games.  Forcing your customers to buy new every time isn't going to boost sales.  If anything, it will have the opposite effect, pushing entire segments of the industry into bankruptcy and shifting a currently strong market into neutral.  Think very carefully before you kill the goose that lays your golden eggs.

September 8, 2010... Face the Facebook

Well, I've thought about it for months, but at long last I've deleted my Facebook account.  It was an issue of privacy... not so much from corporations interested in the brand of chips I eat and the kind of shampoo I use to keep my hair bouncy and manageable, but from that huge network of family members and past acquaintances who manage to hone in on you with deadly accuracy.  There's no bigger drag for a guy who lives most of his life on the Internet than having his relatives invade that personal space.  I can talk to you guys in real life... I don't need you rummaging through my online drawers and closets.  As for the people who tormented me in high school, well, they can stay stranded in the past where they belong.

So!  Here's a brief recap of the news that happened over the last few days, which I more or less slept through:

* The Playstation MOVE has found its way into a few test households.  I don't know what their reaction has been to the device, but an attendee at PAX complained that it was "awkward to use, inaccurate as hell, with jaw-dropping lag and (ahem) wallet-killing prices."  And those were its good qualities!  Maybe it just wasn't working well amidst the chaos of America's favorite dork expo... or maybe the other console manufacturers shouldn't have underestimated the difficulty of making a motion control peripheral that functions as advertised.

* Nintendo just updated its firmware for the DSi series of handheld game systems, breaking support for a slew of flash cartridges.  You've got two solutions to the problem... either fall back on that old DS Lite packed away in your closet, or just do what I do and forgot that the DSiWare Store exists.  Hell, I did that even before the firmware update.

* Steve Jobs is making a big stink about crushing both Nintendo and Sony, COMBINED!!!, in overall handheld game sales.  Well, spluh, you're selling cheap novelties for a dollar each, while your competition is investing the necessary time, effort, and money in making actual games.  If I had the online presence and rabidly loyal fans that Apple has, I could have sold a million one dollar fart simulators too.

* Having said that, the new iPod Touch looks pretty friggin' sweet.  Too bad I'll be saving my money for a 3DS!  HA!

* Keita Takahashi of Katamari Damacy fame, and Noby Noby Boy non-fame, has just left Namco, presumably due to its poor promotion of the latter release.  Now he can fully devote himself to making... wait, children's toys for public parks?  Really, that's his lifelong dream?  Talk about your misplaced priorities.

Thanks to Joystiq for the scoops.  Joystiq: the only widely read game blog that won't make you cover your face in shame!

September 4, 2010... The Other Whine M

You know, I was kind of looking forward to Other M, but after seeing this, my frothing demand for this game just dropped through the floor.  What's with the crybaby routine?  Why is Samus re-enacting a scene from a Lifetime television movie while battling Ridley, a creature she's killed with ease at least twice before?  I know I would crap my pants to a golden brown if a giant pterodactyl man with spider eyes came swooping down at me, but Samus Aran is a walking tank.  She's got missiles, she's got a freeze gun, she's got some goddamned dignity!

In retrospect, the notion of trying to humanize a metal-plated bounty hunter seems a little hairbrained to me.  Maybe it's because Team Ninja handled it so damned poorly, or maybe it's just because I don't want to think of Samus as anything but a weapon of mass destruction with a well-concealed gooey center.  Way back in 1988, I felt that same sense of nail-biting terror when I first confronted Ridley on my NES, but Samus was totally unphased, launching missile after missile into his jagged beak.  Maybe that's the way it should have stayed.  Don't tell me how Samus feels during a tense, desperate moment... make me feel it.

September 2, 2010... Cool Runnings

Fall weather has arrived at last!  Now I can finally play my Xbox 360 without fear of it turning into a bubbling pile of plastic!  Now, uh, what do I play...?

While I'm mulling that over, here's the latest industry news.  Footage of Mega Man Universe was recently revealed on Joystiq, and the game strongly, strongly resembles the PSP title Mega Man: Powered Up, from the polygonal characters in a 2D environment to a design utility that lets you craft your own stages.  What's different is the option to play as characters from other Capcom games, including Street Fighter's Ryu.  I'm not sure how well that'll work, but it's not like this is without precedent...

Also, Microsoft has taken video game controllers to the next level with its latest creation... no, I'm not talking about the Kinect!  This is even better... it's the world's first gamepad with a foreskin!  Keep it raised for most games, then pull it down for more precise movement in Street Fighter IV (or for daily cleansing.  Remember, use a gentle soap!).

Finally, there's word from Andria Sang (she sounds hot, is she hot?) that Nintendo plans to release a Super Mario Bros. collection for the Wii at the end of October.  Details are extremely vague at this point... it may just be a straight port of the Super NES release Super Mario All-Stars, and it might be an update to that update, with polygonal graphics and all the other bells and whistles afforded by 21st century technology.  We'll know for sure when the game is released late next month.

Oh!  Just one more thing.  They're calling Conan O'Brien's next show Conan.  Yeah, that's it.  I hope the show is more inspired...

August 30, 2010... Rollercoaster Ride

The price of Nintendo's DSi and DSi XL have dropped twenty dollars!  Yay!

The price of an Xbox Live Gold subscription has gone up ten dollars!  Boo!

Times like this make me glad I've got a Playstation 3 around, on the off-hand chance I feel social enough to play games online... and masochistic enough to do it with a 3G connection.

Those wastes of oxygen the industry generously calls "analysts" claim that the Xbox Live Gold service is "an incredible value," but you know what's an even better value?  Free online gaming, with tangible bonuses for paid subscriptions.  The best Microsoft can offer are discounts for Gold members... meanwhile, PSN+ subscribers get games as part of their plan.  Granted, they don't get to keep them after the subscription expires, and as a firm believer in the Pat Sajak philosophy of "once you buy a prize it's yours to keep," that doesn't sit well with me.  However, even temporary games are better than what you get with a Gold subscription, which ain't much., Twitter, and Facebook?  Yeah, my computer beat you to those by at least four years.  ESPN?  This is a game system... if I want to fling a ball around like a well-trained seal, I could do that in one of the Madden games that GameStop is selling for three bucks at the front of the store.  Netflix?  Now you're just double dipping.  If I have a Netflix subscription, I shouldn't have to subscribe to another service to use it.  I'll just use my computer instead.  Or my Wii.  Or my Playstation 3.  Or forget the whole thing and buy videos ala carte from Amazon.

I'm not seeing the "incredible value" here.  You're charging for the internet's table scraps, along with extraneous and irrelevant features that may not appeal to your audience.  If anything, you're charging Xbox 360 owners a fee for their loyalty, and that's not going to keep them loyal for long.  With the Wii far ahead of you in sales and the Playstation 3 uncomfortably close behind, you can't afford to make that mistake.

August 26, 2010... Does This New Head Make Me Look Fat?

If you thought the Microsoft Avatars couldn't get any worse, you've underestimated both the power of the Xbox 360 and the stupidity of its marketing department!

New, personality-free avatars... yet another reason you'll hate the Kinect, coming soon to (and never leaving) a store near you!

August 25, 2010... The Great Xbox Revival

I finally replaced my Xbox 360... hooray!  However, my inner penny pincher insisted that I purchase it from eBay, and I wound up with a "new" unit that was less new than advertised.  Not only was it was manufactured in 2005, guaranteeing that it has the failure-prone Xenon motherboard, but it had a Disney movie stuck in the disc tray, proving that it's neither fresh from the factory or untouched by its previous owners. 

Having said all that, I'm relieved to report that it's working fine so far, and I've purchased a SquareTrade warranty as a little added insurance.  If the new Xbox fails any time from the end of October to three Halloweens from now, I should get my money back.  I just hope it survives that long...

Now that I've been reboxed, I made up for lost time by downloading the Scott Pilgrim demo and an Indie Games release called Gravitron X.  I've grown weary of the hype surrounding the ever-growing Canadian franchise (who is this guy, and why should I care?), but the Scott Pilgrim game is actually pretty swank thanks to brilliant artwork from the creator of Pirate Baby and a tight feel that brings back fond memories of River City Ransom.  Hell, the game practically beats you over the head with Kunio-kun references, ranging from a store called "Flatirons Books" to an underground rock band named Crash and the Boys.  If people had been that excited about River City Ransom back in 1989, Technos would still be in business!

As for Gravitron X, it's a nifty remake of the Atari arcade game Gravitar, with a lot of features players probably wished Gravitar had.  A shield protects you from incoming shots (sometimes even deflecting them back at the assailants for bonus points!), and you can not only touch down on the planet's surface, but cling to cavern walls, letting you pick off subterranean targets without having to worry about that pesky gravity bringing you down.  The game starts out almost insultingly easy, but stick with it and you'll be rewarded with some of the best level design you've ever seen in a gravity-based shooter.  If you loved Sub-Terrania on the Genesis or Solar Jetman on the NES, you've got to get this.  It's just a dollar!  What do you have to lose?

August 22, 2010... Back to the Old Drawing Board

The more I read about the Kinect, the less I like it.  Just look at the upcoming Fighters Uncaged... Joystiq reports that the peripheral's response time is so sluggish that the developers of the game needed to add quick time events for combos, rather than letting the player use his own natural fighting style.  (Mine's an elegant blend of Girly Slap-Fu and Not-In-The-Face Kwon Do.)

Wasn't this the issue people were having with the Nintendo Wii?  You know, kludgy games that offered rough, unsatisfying approximations of real-life experiences.  All I've heard so far leads me to believe that the Kinect will not only suffer from the same problem, but exacerbate it with lag times up to a fifth of a second long.  Come on Microsoft, today's gamers fly into a rage when their online matches drop a few frames.  Did you really think an input device that's always one step behind the player would be acceptable?  Add the Kinect's inability to read the reactions of sitting players and a camera resolution far lower than what the Xbox can produce onscreen, and you've got the biggest motion control misstep this side of the U-Force.  Deaf gamers are already pissed that the Kinect isn't precise enough to read sign language, but I have a funny feeling they won't be the only ones with an axe to grind once it's finally released.

August 20, 2010... A Crappy Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum

Sorry I haven't updated in a while, gang.  I'm still stinging over the fallout from a recent drama explosion on the forum.  Wouldn't you know it, something actually happens over there for a change, and it's something that absolutely nobody wanted! 

I tried to handle the mess as diplomatically as possible, but I think I may have permanently lost a member over this.  If he returns after the suspension, he'll be as welcome as anyone else, but if not... I'm sorry it ended this way.  I don't have many members on the forum and I don't take the loss of any one of them lightly.

Some things I should probably clarify to everyone else... first, the Twitter account is for brief site updates and personal musings.  It's not intended to be used as an instant messaging service.  Occasional responses are fine, but please don't overdo it.  I wish I would have put that on the table before all this came to pass, because it would have avoided a lot of hurt feelings and resentment.  

Second, any donations made to The Gameroom Blitz will be used at my discretion.  I can't promise I'll use the money in any specific way, because things come up (bills, mostly) and I have to deal with them first.  The money from the last donation drive was intended for an Xbox, but the release of the slimline system coupled with more pressing obligations convinced me to put those plans on hold.  I'm still working on getting that replacement, but it probably won't be a slim... the price of the console plus a brand new hard drive would just be redonkulous!

Finally, while I deeply appreciate donations, they won't grant you special privileges on the forum or anywhere else.  I try to be equitable when dealing with members of the forum, and no amount of money is going to give you an edge in a dispute.  Unless you give me a million dollars, of course, in which I'll just give you the forum and you can do whatever the hell you want with it.

I'm glad I got that off my chest.  Enjoy the site.

August 17, 2010... Too Much Time On My Hands

My recent collegelessness has left me with a lot of extra free time, and I've been thinking of ways to fill that vacuum.  Let's see... perhaps I should write more articles for 1UP and earn enough money to finally move out of state.  Nah, that makes too much sense.  Maybe I could dance around in my underwear to the strains of Bob Segar?  No, no, that has totally been done.  Sleep!  There's always sleep, right?  Nah, I just spent the last eight hours doing that.

Wait, I've got it!  I'll hack some of my old game systems!  I've always been meaning to improve the quality of my Lynx's screen, and I can't think of a better time to do it.  Recently, I was told by a member of AtariAge about a French mod that replaces the system's power-hungry fluorescent light with a pair of white LEDs.  That's a good place to start... even if it doesn't make the display crisper, the boost in battery life will at least make the Lynx portable.  So I rolled up my sleeves, took out my tools and supplies, and got right to work.

Here is an ordinary, average Lynx II which has no idea of the horrors that await it...

Well, it sure knows now!  Disassembling a Lynx, or at least this model, isn't too difficult.  You flip over the system, then peel off the two rubber hand guards on the back.  Be sure to take the adhesive backing along with them or you won't be able to stick them back on when you're finished.  Carefully pull off the battery holder and you'll have three components... the bottom half of the plastic case, the system motherboard, and the top half of the case with the speaker, screen, and buttons.  By the way, the controller built into the Lynx is surprisingly strong, with a solid feel and snappy response that's exactly the opposite of what you'd expect from the square-edged buttons and directional pad.

Unscrew the screen on the top half of the system and this is what you'll see... on the left is a transparent liquid crystal display, and on the right is the backlight.  Yes, that's a fluorescent bulb, held over a shiny convex surface.  This reflects the light back onto the screen for maximum brightitude, and a semi-opaque plastic cover (not shown) snaps onto the enclosure, spreading the light evenly.

White LEDs, sweet givers of energy-efficient light!  These babies were invented in 1993, which was much too late to have done the Atari Lynx any good.  Even later handhelds like the Neo-Geo Pocket shied away from their use because they were so expensive.  Fortunately, technology has progressed to the point where you can get a baggie of them on eBay for about ten bucks.  Alternately, you can go to Radio Shack and buy a pair of lights for two dollars, but I'll be waiting outside to smack you upside the head with a rolled up newspaper for being so stupid.

This is the most fun part of the mod... as long as you're not me!  After pulling out the fluorescent bulb, you'll need to clip off the ends so you can fit a couple of white LEDs inside them.  Remember to wrap either side in tape to keep the glass from shattering.  Also remember to use Scotch tape, instead of this pitch black electrical tape that the LEDS can't shine through.  (You tend to learn these things as you go along.)

Be advised that there are risks involved in this step.  The bulb contains CFLs which are hazardous to the environment and probably not too good for you either.  One acquaintance asked me if I had worn latex gloves while opening the tube.  When I answered "no," he told me to say "hi" to Madame Curie for me.  (Gallows humor is more entertaining when you're not the punchline...)

Also, the contents of the bulb are under pressure, so even if the trace amounts of mercury inside don't make you as mad as a hatter, you can expect the cap on one end to blast off into the next county the moment you crack open the glass.  It may even take a bit of your finger with it!

Ouchies.  I recommend that you just stick the LEDs inside some plastic tubing instead, if you can find some with the right diameter and opacity.

Here's the Lynx motherboard again, this time with the wires for the LEDs soldered into place.  The two wires on the left are for ground, while the other two have been soldered on the middle pin of the power supply jack.  This can be tricky, because it's sandwiched between two other pins and it's exceedingly easy to bridge them with a stray drop of molten metal.  Adding to the stress is the fact that you'll have to stick three wires on this crowded bit of circuit board real estate, including one leading to the battery terminal (shown below).

Once the wires have been soldered to the LEDs and the tube has been inserted into the screen enclosure, it's time to put the Lynx back together.  Screw the screen back onto the front of the system, then insert the battery holder and gently set the motherboard into the case, tucking the wires behind it so they're not sticking out.  When all that's done, put on the other half of the system's plastic case and screw it on tight.  Be sure to slap the hand guards back on too if they'll still stick.

I tested a handful of games once the mod was finished, and here are the results.  This is Roadblasters, an amazing conversion of the Atari arcade title and one of the shining moments in the Lynx's short life.   The modification hasn't really improved the quality of the display... saturation has taken a hit, with the yellows in particular losing some of their punch.  However, it really does work as advertised.  You can switch off the backlight and even adjust its brightness with the dial on the top of the system, just as you could with the standard fluorescent bulb.

This is Todd's Adventures in Slime World.  It's likely the least appealing name for a video game this side of Alzadick, but the actual game is pretty compelling; the kind of hearty side-scrolling adventure that the Lynx needed a lot more of in its diet.  Pay close attention to the title... the screen is sharp enough for you to notice that "Slime" is transparent, with the craters of "World" visible beneath it.

Protuberancias!  This is Elvira and the Party Monsters, one half of Atari's Pinball Jam.  While the game itself is nothing special- you could play Dragon's Fury or Pokemon Pinball Ruby and Sapphire or Last Gladiators or Rollerball and have a lot more fun- I thought I'd post this picture anyway because I'm really fond of Elvira.  It's not for the most obvious reasons, either... actress Cassandra Peterson is just perfect in that role; so sharp and bubbly!  Wait, I'm talking about the breasts again, aren't I?

Finally, here's a snapshot of the introductory sequence from Zaku.  One thing I've noticed is that this mod really washes out the blues... the title screen is especially tough to see because of Zaku's jacket and the stormy sky behind her.  I'd probably go blind trying to finish the underwater stage.

So, would I recommend trying this?  That depends... exactly how much time do you spend out of the house with a twenty year old handheld?  If the answer is higher than zero, you might want to think about this.  One of the most damning flaws of the Lynx, and all color handhelds from the early 1990s, is the terrible battery life... you're lucky to squeeze more than a couple of hours out of a handful of AAs.  Although I've only tested the Lynx with an AC adapter so far, I'm told that this mod stretches the system's battery life to a very comfortable eight to twelve hours, depending on the type of batteries used.  The screen may also look better outdoors, although since I'm still chained to a power outlet I can't confirm that.  (Mental note: buy some stinking batteries, you cheapass.)

This was a fun experiment, and I'm tempted to try it on a couple of my other handhelds just for kicks.  There was a similar mod featured on Tiny Cartridge about a week ago, except much more elaborate... someone had taken his old GameBoy and installed tri-color LEDs, letting him choose between a rainbow of colors with the flick of a few switches.  Maybe I should take that neglected GameBoy Pocket out of the shed and put a little light in its life...

August 15, 2010... Flame Off!

Just one more day of this heinous heat and we'll get some decent weather for a change!  Go, fall!  Boo, sun!

Since I can't think of any pressing video game news, this is going to be one of those self-indulgent personal posts.  Lucky you, huh?  Anyway... I finished the last class I needed to graduate from college, so I should have a diploma by the end of the year, unless the university is struck by a meteorite or I'm devoured by a pack of rabid guinea pigs.  I'm pretty excited about this, as you might imagine... I've been working on this degree for years, and it didn't seem like it was ever going to happen.  Even when I met all the baseline requirements, I was told I had to take a metric buttload of junior-level classes to graduate.  Now that the buttload is, er, behind me, all I have to do is wait for December, when the papers are processed and shipped to me.  I may take a couple of extra classes to keep me occupied until that happens, but they're strictly optional... I'll just pick a couple of fun gimmies and use the loan money to relocate to a city with better employment prospects.

With college (more or less) out of the way, I've finally got time to fully immerse myself in video games.  First, this damned Xbox 360 has got to go.  As you may recall, I repaired it back in June, but it only took a month before the machine went right back to its red ringing ways.  It's been playing an aggravating game of cat and mouse with me ever since, running like a dream whenever the case is off but flashing its reds once it's reassembled.  I've given this machine enough chances to get with the program... now what it's getting is replaced.  The money from the donation drive is long gone, but payment for my latest 1UP article is forthcoming, so I'll be using some of the cash to pick up one of those cheap Jaspers that have been popping up at retail stores.  As for this old system, well, it's going to a better place.  Or rather, the same place, but with a big hole in it! (cocks shotgun)

I may be sans Xbox for a while, but don't cry for me Argentina, for I have plenty of other ways to occupy myself while waiting for Hearst to cough up my check.  I still haven't finished Super Mario Galaxy 2, and I've been itching to retrofit my Atari Lynx with white LEDs... I don't know if that's going to improve the quality of the screen, but it should boost the battery life considerably.  The backlight in an Atari Lynx is a fluorescent bulb; a much smaller version of the high-intensity lighting used in supermarkets.  Replace that with two energy efficient LEDs and the battery life shoots through the roof, reaching an impressive twelve hours with a fresh set of alkalines.  That's more gaming on the go than I can get out of my DSi!  Now if only I could ditch the AAs and drop in a rechargeable battery pack...

August 10, 2010... Hey Hey, The Gang's All Here

A few months back I reviewed Yakuza 3 for the site.  It was pretty good as reviews go, but this one is better.  Writer Jake Adelstein talks to three real yakuza members about the game, who applaud it for its realism but claim more often than not that it represents a bygone era for the criminal organization.  "I've never been to Okinawa, but Kabukicho is dead on," one remarks as he wanders through the fictional streets of Kamurocho.  Another replies, "You mean the old Kabukicho.  Governor Ishihara's totally ruined the place.  It's like a ghost town."  Later, the gang members all agree that hero Kazama Kiryu conducts himself the way the old yakuza did... as an agent of social order, keeping the streets clean and the people happy.  Wistful nostalgia is a recurring theme throughout the interview, which is something you wouldn't expect from hardened gangsters.  Then again, you wouldn't expect them to wear T-shirts with cartoon cats on them in public, either.  (One of the hoods complains about Kiryu's bright red Hawaiian shirt.  Adelstein thinks better than to point out the hypocrisy.)

August 8, 2010... Zonk, Zonk!  I'm Zonking!

There's a review of Zaku on the Atari Lynx page.  I've got to tell you, I was a little disappointed with this one... you're not going to find a better shooter on the Lynx, and it's probably the best homebrew on the system too, but it lacks the hook that's the key to success in its genre.  It's basically Air Zonk, without the gameplay elements that distinguished Air Zonk from other shooters.  Turns out that Air Zonk gets dull in a hurry without the chance to transform into a robotic Madonna shooting milk from the tips of her torpedo bra...

Also, if you need some good deals on video game systems and can stomach the thought of setting foot into a K-Mart, now's the time to do it.  Among other things, the second-rate retail chain is selling a PSP-3000 with Gran Turismo for just $129.99, seventy dollars off the standard retail price.  Then you can throw out the copy of Gran Tursimo and try something more enjoyable, like Burnout Legends or WipeOut Pure or dental surgery.

August 7, 2010... Anything Less Would Be... Uncivilized

Good news for iPhone owners... Civilization Revolution is free for a limited time.  If you like you some turn-based strategy, you'd better jump on this deal before it expires!

If you're looking for even more gaming without those pesky price tags, my current boss over at 1UP, Scott Sharkey, has the answer in his latest feature, Another 101 Free Games.  They're mostly browser based, but many are still worth your time... particularly Blast RPG, the pinnacle of the launch game genre and an unnervingly addictive distraction.  Bah, sleep... who needs it, anyway? 

August 5, 2010... Green Clovers, Blue Diamonds, Bald Game Designers?

Yeah, I'm fudging the date.  To paraphrase Slash, it's eleven o'clock somewhere!

This is going to be a quick update... I just had to post about one of the most bizarre contests in video game history.  Yes, even stranger than Name This Game, but not quite as strange as Acclaim paying a couple to name their first-born son Turok.  On an episode of the Engadget podcast, special guest and Fable series creator Peter Molyneux took a break from making unrealistic promises to ask the audience for a box of Lucky Charms.  The reward for this fetch quest was an appearance as a non-player character in the upcoming Fable III.  Monica Reyes and Jay, uh, something (dammit Destructoid, give me something to work with here!) returned to the studio first with boxes of the sugary cereal, so you'll be able to seduce them with constant blasts of flatulence once the game is released this October.

(No news on whether or not Molyneux asked them to pick out all the oat pieces first.)

August 3, 2010... One Tough Nerd Makes For One Happy Nerd

You know, I really shouldn't get political here, but the returns are in for the Michigan primaries, and Rick Snyder has emerged victorious among the Republicans looking to replace Jennifer "Mayor from South Park" Granholm as this state's governor.  I'm not fond of conservatives these days, but it's hard not to root for a guy who proudly calls himself "one tough nerd."  His soft-spoken demeanor and refusal to sling mud along with the other candidates was a refreshing change of pace from the status quo of frothing right wingers.  The fact that he was able to defeat Mike Cox, who looks like the kind of guy who stuffed me into garbage cans when I was in high school, warms my heart.  I hope Snyder's good fortune will lead him straight to the front steps of the governor's mansion this November.

All right, now onto the gaming news you crave, but have likely already gotten from other web sites.  I've heard through the grapevine (actually, more like the Gel-vine) that Arc System Works has released the first downloadable character for BlazBlue: Continuum Shift.  Her name is Makoto, and she's approximately 20% squirrel and 80% fan-pandering cheesecake.  Gel claims that her damage ratio is very low, forcing the player to string together huge combos to bring down opponents.  So in other words, she should fit right in with the rest of the cast.  It'll cost 560 Microsoft fun bucks (roughly seven dollars) to ride this wild rodent, so I hope you've got some spare change bouncing around in your bank account.

Also, I'm hearing distressing news (mostly from Eurogamer) that the latest Castlevania game kind of stinks.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised... the labyrinthine levels of Symphony of the Night and its progeny don't lend themselves well to a frantic party game.  I guess that's what this is supposed to be!  I was never clear on the mechanics, but I do know from EuroGamer's review that you'll be dragged back to a starting point some twenty minutes from the boss if you screw up.  Gee, sounds like fun!  Evidently Konami ran out of those spinny 20-sided dice that transform into coffins...

Finally, someone made another handheld game system from the guts of an NES.  Oh wait, this one plays both NES and Super NES games!  Unsurprisingly, it's also the size of a bus.  This was cute back when Ben Heckendorn was the only one doing it, but the whole notion of self-made, semi-portable game systems is getting a little long in the tooth.  If you're going to keep making these, why not get a little creative and try some systems nobody else has tried?  I haven't seen any love for the Fairchild Channel F yet.  From anyone, really, but especially not from the soldering gun-slingers in Heckendorn's fan club.

There, that should keep you for a few more days.

July 31, 2010... August Already?

Sure looks that way.  Hopefully the new month will bring with it more pleasant weather... I'm getting sick of having my eyebrows singed off every time I walk outside.

Anyway, you'll probably notice that I've made some changes to the sidebar.  The PayPal donation button wasn't working properly, but it should be fine now.  Thanks to my friend Shawn Struck for catching that.  Also, I've taken the liberty of updating the Twitter feed... I'm not really crazy about the added window dressing, but at least my inane, up-to-the-minute chatter is viewable in Opera and Chrome now.  Thanks to, uh, me for getting off my ass and finally fixing this.

So!  There was a big brouhaha over at AtariAge recently.  Turned out that the web site Bee's Life had uploaded a bunch of ColecoVision ROMs, including several homebrews which were already being sold as cartridges by their creators.  The brewers fumed about this theft of their intellectual property, until somone pointed out that many of their own games were clones of copyrighted games and not necessarily legal in and of themselves.  A long, awkward silence followed.

Personally speaking, I'm not worried about people distributing my games, as long as they don't try to pass them off as their own work.  You're never going to get rich selling Pac-Man knock-offs on obsolete hardware... you do it to show your love for the hobby, and to bring all the "what ifs?" of your childhood to fruition.  I always wondered what GORF would be like on the GameBoy Advance, and now I know. 

It's also a thrill to be part of the scene; to be able to stand up and say "Hey, I just made a game on the system that made David Crane and Howard Scott Warshaw and Warren Robinette nerdly legends."  That's your payment right there... to stand in the footsteps of the industry's pioneers and take a small sliver of that immortality for yourself.  Anything you get beyond that is gravy.

When I made Solar Plexus back in 2005, I made enough in royalties to afford a couple of lunches at McDonald's.  I certainly wasn't going to retire on that money, but that wasn't the point.  From now on, whenever someone makes an Atari 2600 price guide, they'll have to add Solar Plexus to the list, right between Solar Fox and Solar Storm.  I've made a place for myself in video game history, and that is enough.

July 28, 2010... Sprung on the Cat

Must... force... self... to update!  Mustn't... talk... like... William Shatner!  Must... avoid... starring in crappy CBS sitcoms!

Anyway.  Good Deal Games was kind enough to send me a care package including not only a copy of my GameBoy Advance release GORF (it's real!  It's really, really real!), but a couple of their other titles for the system, along with that holy grail of Lynx homebrews, Zaku.  For those of you who missed the memo, Zaku is a side-scrolling shooter best described as America's answer to the Turbografx-16 release Air Zonk.  As the spawn of Sonic the Hedgehog and that cranky chihuahua from Ren and Stimpy, you must defeat a gang of evil penguins and their minions to recover a game development kit known only as "Rarity 9." 

I had planned to review Zaku on the site as soon as I received it, but I'm currently experiencing... technical difficulties.  Specifically, the day I got the game in the mail was the same day my Lynx II decided to flake out on me, dropping a wall of green pixels in the center of the screen.  I don't know if the problem can be fixed by reflowing the solder connecting the display to the system's main board, but I'm certainly willing to try.  Anything to squeeze a few more days of life out of my Lynx and keep a few more dollars in my bank account, I say!

While I'm poking around in there, I'm giving serious thought to replacing the backlight; taking out the large, power-hungry bulbs and replacing them with energy conservant white LEDs.  Don't worry folks, I haven't gone all hippy on you... this is mostly just to improve the clarity of the screen.  The Lynx's color display may have been hot shit back in 1989, but now that we're in the 21st century, it's more like cold diahrrea in a Dixie cup.  After the iPod Touch and the DSi and the GameBoy Micro, it's very hard to go back to the Lynx's milky white screen, with or without a green stripe running down the middle.

Speaking of more modern handhelds, the 3DS version of Super Street Fighter IV is estimated by Famitsu to be 10% complete, with a flood of pictures being posted on both Joystiq and Destructoid.  The low resolution makes the game seem kind of rough next to its Xbox 360 and PS3 counterparts (and Ken here looks like he wants some of them fried potaters...), but maybe it'll look better in action and without the graphics blown up to triple their actual size.  No word yet on if the recently announced Street Fighter vs. Tekken will be finding its way to the 3DS, but if the system is a hit it's probably a safe bet.  (I'd still rather have a Match of the Millennium sequel with Namco and Capcom characters, though!)

Finally, British readers of the Blitz (provided they exist) should probably be warned that my ongoing ZX Spectrum series on is coming to an end.  However, it's being wrapped up with a massive feature called the Spectraspective, including a detailed history of the popular computer and interviews with both fans and developers.  I just finished the massive seven page article a couple of days ago, and it should be posted on the site shortly, after revisions are made and images are added.  I may also review the BBC television movie Micro Men, provided I can find all the clips on YouTube or download it from another (preferably legal) source.  Here are a few choice cuts from the film:

Wow, that Clive guy makes Steve Jobs look like a saint, and that's quite a feat!

July 26, 2010... Street Fighter vs. Delayed Gratification

That Capcom vs. Namco game?  Don't get too excited about it, because it's actually Street Fighter vs. Tekken, with characters exclusively pulled from those two franchises.  Also, it won't be coming out for two years, if the report on Destructoid is to be believed.  Don't worry... it's not by Jim Sterling, so you should be able to believe it.

Also, Joystiq is claiming that Sony has finally turned a profit with the Playstation 3 after four years.  Are you sure about that?  Have they recouped the cost of research and development, and from dumping systems at a price lower than their actual cost?  If the answer is "no," they haven't turned a profit.  They'll probably be lucky to break even in this console cycle with all the money they've spent from 2006 to 2009.

God, I wish I had the talent for digging up dirt that ECM does.  I might be able to update this site more than once every four days. 

July 22, 2010... I KNEW I Forgot Something Today!

Augh!  Gotta update the site before midnight!

First, the stuff that actually matters to people.  Capcom is on a hot streak with its fighting game franchises... it's not only releasing Marvel vs. Capcom 3 in the near future (now with 100% more god-dogs!), but it's planning a crossover game with Namco, its second counting the strategy RPG released in Japan.  It'll run on Dimps' excellent Street Fighter IV engine, while Namco will make a fighting game of its own using the decidedly less excellent Tekken 6 as a template.  You get three guesses as to which one I'll buy and the first two don't count.

The game I'm most desperate to get from this collaboration (and the one that's least likely to actually happen) is a cutesy beat 'em up along the lines of Match of the Millennium or Pocket Fighter.  More of Namco's characters would fit in this context, especially Dig Dug, Pac-Man, Mappy, Mr. Driller, and Klonoa, and they would be a lot more fun to use than that blonde Kid 'n Play reject from the Tekken series or Soul Calibur's Shyamalangargamel.  Come on, Capcom and Namco!  Throw us handheld gamers a few crumbs here!

In "you may care about this if you're old" news, AtariMax is selling a multicart for the ColecoVision that'll be the most handy peripheral since the Sega Saturn's Pro Action Replay.  Not only does it have an SD card slot for easy transfer of games between your computer and the ColecoVision, but it features its own onboard processor, 512K of RAM, and two free games.  About the only thing it doesn't do is fix the system's crappy power switch.  You can have all this for the price of... what the hell, $129.99?!  I'd better start pawning some kidneys.  With a price like that, I'd better start pawning other peoples' kidneys too!

In "you don't care about this at all but I'm telling you anyway" news, I've ironed out the problems with GORF, and the game is set to be sold on the Good Deal Games web site shortly.  They've also been kind enough to pledge me a copy of Zaku for the Atari Lynx, so expect a review of that very Air Zonk-ish game on the web site in the near future.  Remember when I reviewed games on this site?  It only seems like yesterday...

July 19, 2010... Tick Infestation

Sorry I've been gone so long, folks.  I haven't had much to talk about lately, and my boycott of Kotaku has made it more difficult to find video game news.  Also, I've been a little stressed out about the whole GORF situation... turns out that the compiler I used to make the game produced untidy code that refuses to cooperate with the cartridge Good Deal Games is using to distribute it.  Anybody know of a way to force a software reset in a GameBoy Advance?  At this point I think it's the only way I'll be able to make the game run properly, short of a line-by-line revision of the binary code or a complete rewrite of the game in another language.

Off that subject, I've learned from an iPhone app developer that Apple itself has been responsible for the lack of a proper joystick for the company's line of all-purpose electronic devices.  Here's the scoop from Stuart Ross of New Potato Technologies, makers of the iPhone slot machine dock:

Yes the iPhone actually responds to the pull of the lever the run the wheels.  Pull the handle all the way forward and the dock ejects the iPhone from the dock.  The dock incorporates an internal microcontroller and Apple authentication chip.  It communicates with the iPhone and the Jackpot Slots application over the 30 pin connector using the iPhone’s serial interface.

We have more “appcessories” on the way.  A joystick is a great application, but unfortunately Apple has a policy wherein they are not keen on general accessories which would allow for a sub-ecosystem to develop around.  Over time Apple’s stance has shifted here and there, so there is some hope that this policy may change in the near future.  In which case, you can expect to see a bunch of cool “general” input devices.

So what I'm gathering from this is that the iPhone uses a security chip like the one in the Xbox 360 to block the use of unlicensed peripherals, and that Apple is preventing manufacturers from making accessories that support a wide range of applications.  So a joystick dock is technically possible on the iPhone series, but good 'ol Steve Jobs won't let you have one.  Sorry Steve, but if you're intent on marketing your products to gamers, you're going to have to give them the tools to actually play games.  I've said it over and over again... a smudgy, finger-obscured touchscreen just isn't enough to get the job done.

Also, DeathSpank was recently released for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.  It's being described by the press as the marriage of Diablo and Monkey Island, but I'm just seeing Diablo with a Tick-like superhero grafted onto it.  As appealing as that may sound to fans of the underappreciated cartoon series, the voice actor for Tick-spank is just a bit too enthusiastic, overselling lines like a desperate car salesman and sounding a little too in on the joke.  What made The Tick great is that the lead hero didn't realize how completely ridiculous he was... in fact, nobody on the series had a clue with the possible exception of straight man sidekick Arthur, and even he never took off his bunny- er, moth costume.  When you play a Tick-like role and sound like you're going to crack up after every line, the whole thing falls apart.

DeathSpank isn't a bad game, at least judging from the generous demo.  It's just not very fresh.  It's Diablo with strained humor and artwork that looks like it came from a  pop-up storybook tucked away in the back of Tim Burton's personal library.  I can't imagine paying fifteen dollars for that when I already have Fable II, a similar action RPG with more subtlety and a lot more variety.

Also!  Rock Band 3 is coming soon... much sooner than I'd expected, actually.  Flex those fingers, because you'll be tickling the ivories of the game's keytar controller by the end of October.  I'm really excited for RB3, because it should finally shut up all the detractors of music games who incessantly point out that they can't actually teach you to play instruments.  Now what's your complaint?

July 16, 2010... That's A Wrap

And so ends the three year saga of The Gameroom Blitz as a YouTube channel.  Laughs were had, tears were cried, and nearly two dozen videos were made, not counting the ones I took down due to copyright issues or because they were too stupid even for YouTube.  The last of them, a review of Muramasa: The Demon Blade, is up and available right now... at least until the Bores Brigade catches wind of it and informs their clueless leader, The Third-Rate Gamer, of its existence.  Too late suckahs, I'm already gone!  BWA HA HA HAAAAA!

Whatever happens to this video, I'm glad I made it.  Closure feels good; it feels right.  There's nothing worse than when something just disappears without warning and you have no idea what-

July 14, 2010... Yes, No, Maybe So?

Work continues to, uh, continue on the final video review.  I've pieced together three minutes of footage so far... now I just have to get the other three minutes ready by the end of the week.  It'll be epic, I tell you!  M*A*S*H could only wish for an ending like this!

(Okay, I'm overselling it now.)

Now for the gaming news.  There's talk of a new, Kinect-friendly user interface coming soon from Microsoft (aw, I was just getting used to the last one!), along with a fresh budget model of the Xbox 360 with four gigabytes of internal flash RAM for game saves and uh, maybe a handful of Xbox Live Arcade games.  It's not going to be the system of choice for heavy-duty users, but at a projected $200, it'll get the job done for everyone else.  Let's hope Microsoft has the good sense to put a wi-fi adapter in it too.

On Nintendo's side of the fence, developers are thrilled about the upcoming-but-not-coming-soon-enough 3DS.  The CEO of T*HQ is all about the Benjamins, claiming that he's more excited about the system's anti-piracy measures than its improved hardware, but other captains of the gaming industry have their heads in the right place (out of their asses), thinking about how they can take full advantage of the handheld and its unique features.  Atsushi Inaba of Platinum Games (formerly Clover Studios) believes that the 3DS will be a "dream" platform for creative developers, while Suda 51 of Grasshopper Manufacture semi-fame thinks that it will be "The Next Hardware," in search of "The Next Game."  Those are Joystiq's capital letters, not mine, so I've got to assume "big" is implied in those two phrases.

Totally off the subject of video games, GameSpite's Jeremy Parish was kind enough to review the Yes album Drama for me, because I've been on a Buggles kick lately and asked him if Trevor Horn was up to snuff as a temporary replacement for lead singer Jon Anderson.  His in-depth analysis reveals that yes, Horn was as good a substitute as the band was likely to get on short notice and no, the half-ton of criticism dumped on Drama by music critics was not deserved.  I'm listening to the album right now courtesy of a free eMusic trial, and for what it's worth, I think Parish is right on the money.  Drama sounds just like classic Yes to me, right down to the singer trying to outrace the lyrics in Tempus Fugit and the wankery guitar and synthesizer solos in Into the Lens (which sounds worlds apart from The Buggles' cover of the song, I Am a Camera).  We've got a Yes fan in the forums, and I'd love to see what he's got to say about the black sheep of the band's discography.  He's not likely to change my mind at this point, but I've nevertheless curious about his reaction to it.

* Sorry Toy Headquarters, you get to keep the asterisk whether you want it or not!  It's your badge of shame for Pit Fighter and a billion other crappy Super NES games.

July 12, 2010... 3D-No

Sony recently admitted (in a terms of service agreement discovered by Destructoid) that its 3D technology may cause some users "discomfort."  So, are we talking discomfort like a mosquito bite, or something more like this?

I get this feeling that game companies (and the entire entertainment industry, really) are a little too desperate to find the next paradigm shift.  High-definition hasn't even reached its saturation point yet, and you want to push this 3D nonsense on us, which has barely evolved since the red and blue cardboard glasses of the 1960s?  Maybe you ought to give the public something legitimately useful like improved digital distribution, rather than screwing around with silly toys.  Someone will get 3D right eventually, but the technology we've got now (Kim Jong-Il sunglasses that give the wearer nausea) clearly isn't up to snuff.  When you make a blue and white trash can that projects a holographic image of Carrie Fisher, and you can get it under two thousand decicreds, call me and I'll break out my checkbook.

July 10, 2010... The Insult That Never Gets Old

I had high hopes for Destructoid, but the smug and insufferable Jim Sterling isn't making a good first impression.  Out of curiosity, I entered his name into Google, and the site quickly offered "Jim Sterling is a douche" as a search term suggestion... in fact, the second most popular one, resting just below his name.  Wow, he's nationally recognized!

Anyway, I just received Sin and Punishment 2 in the mail today, and it's fantastic, combining the best of both Cabal and Space Harrier into one package.  The reviewers weren't kidding when they said it's a trippy experience, though... I took a break from the game shortly after being soundly thrashed by a pod of ring-firing dolphins.

Slightly less surreal is the addition of zombies to Rockstar's wild west action game Red Dead Redemption.  I don't know what possessed them to do this, or how they could possibly make it work in the context of the game, but they'll be offering an expansion where the player must fend off the living dead.  Hey, every other game is doing it, right?  (That's part of the problem, really.)

July 9, 2010... Catch the Wii Fever

Super Mario Galaxy 2 arrived from GameFly a couple of days ago, and I'm really enjoying the ride.  With its even-more-tacked-on-than-usual storyline and a flat map replacing the explorable hub from the original, it's less of a sequel than a mission pack... Super Mario Galaxy: The Lost Levels if you will.  That's not to say that it's a phone-in on Nintendo's part, though!  The meat of the game is flavorful and satisfying, with the brilliant level design you'd expect from Shigeru Miyamoto.  The early stages are surprisingly challenging, and I've just scratched the surface!  I can only imagine how tough the game will be near the end.

I've also got Sin and Punishment 2 coming in the mail, and judging from the early reviews I'll be in for a rollicking good time.  I've always felt that Sin and Punishment was made for the Wiimote (albeit six years too early) and I'm sure the sequel will confirm my suspicions.  The only gripes I've heard so far are that the faces of the two heroes are nearly identical and that the game is much too short, which is NOT A VALID COMPLAINT when the typical video game is thirty hours of tedious level grinding and scavenger hunts.  I'm quite happy with five hours of gameplay if every minute is packed with excitement.  It's not quantity, folks... it's quality that counts.

One thing I should probably mention before I go, in case you missed it from my Twitter feed... the script for the final video review is finished, and it's a beaut.  It might actually get me kicked off YouTube, but what a way to go!

July 7, 2010... Coming Home to Roost

Remember when I said I was dropping the Kotaku thing?  I lied.

What happened to me and a handful of other posters a couple of weeks ago was only the beginning.  A poster named Kanji08 describes a reader revolt at Kotaku that broke out after one of its most popular members, DeanB, was banned from the site.  His account of the incident is so sugarcoated you could serve it in a bowl of milk as part of your nutritious breakfast (and his generosity toward the Kotaku editoral staff seems to have earned him a star, imagine that!) but it nevertheless illustrates the trouble the blog is having maintaining its ecosystem of self-indulgent writers and the obsequious viewers who love them.  Formerly loyal readers, incensed at DeanB's dismissal, have been pasting Brian Crecente's face on Adolf Hitler (I think my own Bat-cente Photoshop is a more accurate depiction of the man, frankly...), and the editors have responded by banning members en masse.  Members who will be getting their news from Kotaku's competitors from now on, I suspect.

There's talk on sister site io9 that there could be a major editorial shake-up at Kotaku in the near future.  I believe the pruning of staff is long overdue, and hope that it will result in improved journalistic standards (in other words, no more of the shit parodied by Bob Mackey on Something Awful) and a renewed respect for the blog's readers.  Kotaku has tried to control user participation with a stringent membership process and the fastest banhammer in the west, but this incident should make it clear to parent company Gawker Media that the readers haven't been the site's problem. 

July 5, 2010... Singin' the BlazBlues

You know, I used to think the BlazBlue character designs were pretty cool.  A gelatinous grim reaper?  A psychotic cat girl with a pair of red eyes gleaming behind a cloak?  Yeah, I can get behind that.  However, Arc System Works has started to lose me with the planned characters for the upcoming sequel... spin-off... thing.  It's bad enough that they're forcing players to pay for an upgrade, then expecting them to cough up even more change for additional characters.  It's even worse when they start reaching for the 1990s anime cliches.  Seriously, what the hell is going on with Sailor Moon here?

Yes, that's what this prepubescent girl needs... more cowbell.  I won't even show you what's going on below the waist... apparently, crotchless schoolgirl dresses are the in fashion for fighting game characters these days.  Guess Sakura missed the memo!

July 4, 2010... More Bang for Your Buck

It's the fourth of July, and there's no better way to celebrate than with a new review on Fighter's Misery... the first in years!  Well, there are probably lots of better ways to celebrate, but that's what you're getting from the Blitz.  Happy Independence Day, folks.

July 3, 2010... Third Eye Blind

Hey, anyone interested in an update to the Dan Hibiki page?  I know I am!

In non-Dan news, Joystiq reports that Sony will be blinding The Eye of Judgment to the internet after September.  I was really excited about Eye and its augmented reality technology back in 2006, when the game was first shown at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.  I was absolutely convinced that it would be a huge hit for Sony, but for whatever reason, it just didn't catch on with gamers.  Was it the prohibitive price of the Playstation 3, the difficulty in finding a table that wasn't already cluttered with junk, or just a decline in the popularity of collectible card games?  It's anyone's guess, but I'm nevertheless disappointed that this innovative concept never found an audience.  After all, when gamers won't support new ideas, that's when companies retreat back to the old and tired ones.

Also, I haven't forgotten about the final YouTube review.  I'm just stalling, because I'm lazy like that.  I've got some ideas for it... once I put them down on paper, that should get the ball rolling on the grand finale.

July 1, 2010... Summer Slowdown

Dig that new banner, inspired by (and with 98% of the artwork lifted from) The Last Blade and its sequel.  I couldn't get into this series at first, but playing the absolutely miserable Samurai Shodown Sen has given me a whole new appreciation for The Last Blade's beautiful artwork and accessible gameplay.  Just look at those rivulets of water streaming down that rock formation!  I'll take that over any of the drab scenery in SNK's latest Xbox 360 disaster.

So summer's officially arrived, and with it comes a software drought of epic proportions.  This in turn makes it more difficult to find topics of discussion for the site.  Well, topics that don't sound like they've come from the mind of a self-absorbed teenager, anyway.  There is news from a number of sources that Sega, already drunk on nostalgia with its recent Dreamcast revivals, is looking even further back, planning to resurrect key titles from the Saturn library.  Realistically, there isn't much Sega can do to restore its reputation after the mess it made of the Yakuza 3 launch, and what it did to Sonic the Hedgehog in his 2006 comeback, and the premature abandonment of all the consoles it's currently embracing, but I'm willing to forget about all that (temporarily) if it means an Xbox 360 port of Radiant Silvergun.

On the Nintendo side of things, Shigeru Miyamoto has admitted that the company's cast of characters has gotten a little crusty and that it's time to bring in some fresh blood.  I'm not sure if he was just whispering sweet nothings in the ears of Nintendo's shareholders, or if he's already working on a new character and a franchise to go along with it.  If it's the latter, I would humbly suggest making this new star a girl.  There are an overabundance of distressed, dimwitted damsels in Nintendo games, and the company- nay, the entire video game industry- is overdue for a female hero who's bright, capable, and fully clothed.  After all, it's been nearly a quarter of a century since the last one.