The Mesopotamians Audition (YouTube) Quasi-mysterious TMBG cartoon featuring audio from an episode of The Monkees, with imagery from their new awesome song, The Mesopotamians.
It's the Tourists... (Mice Age) Insightful article on what DisneyWorld vacationers look for, and how Disney meets - or fails to meet - those needs. Includes a few brilliant points on why FastPass doesn't work.
Zune = anus (Fake Steve Jobs) This graphic so perfect, you'd think it was planned this way.
J.K. Rowling: Good Author, Bad Game Designer (Soren Johnson) Weblog entry/comments discussing what every gamer has thought since Harry Potter Book One: if the damn Snitch is worth 150 points and ends the game (and always seems to appear somewhere in the stratosphere), then what the hell is the rest of the team there for?
Mark Evanier's best weblog day ever In one day, Evanier discusses the Sen. Craig case, laments the impending cancellation of Disney Adventures, and offers some warm fuzzies on Jack Kirby. I love this guy. I really hope that I end up finding a time machine so I can go back in time and become him. (And two days later, he mentions the probable sale of the KTLA soundstage studios! I was there about seven years ago and had NO IDEA I was standing in the very meatspace where Bugs Goddamn Bunny was created. Jesus.)
No NWR Metroid Review Today or Soon (Nintendo World Report) This is why I like these guys (although I wish they'd ditch the obnoxious embedded irrelevant green link advertisements). Nintendo screwed them out of a review copy of Metroid Prime 3, so they did not get the usual lead time to get a review written. But rather than rush through the game just to get anything on their site for the drop window, they're sitting back and playing the game for two weeks or whatever, so they can be thorough about it.
This has got to be killing Metts. Can't wait to hear this covered on the podcast.
You think gaming today has outrageous prices, a confusing abundance of consoles and formats, ridiculous hype, and too many cash-in licenses and Me Too titles?
It ain't "nothin'" compared to 1993.
Witness the EB product catalog, May 1993 edition, fresh from the fourhman.home archives. Let's review. The Super NES vs. Sega Genesis war was over and the Genesis had won... but Sega's crazy CD add-on had been out for a year and already a failure. The Game Gear was only two years old and widely presumed to destroy the five year old Game Boy, even though it wasn't.
The Saturn would arrive one year later. The PlayStation, two years. The N64 wouldn't bare its stupid claw controllers for another three years. So we still had a good long time before the gaming universe's next major rivalry.
I'm going to leaf through this catalog issue with you over several weblog updates... all twelve pages of it, although I didn't bother with the back half of DOS 6.0 games and PC "productivity" titles (but I did snigger at the aptly named pre-Windows accounting software, "Microsoft Profit".) All of these thumbs click out to full-size versions, so feel free to zoom in and make your own jokes at 1993's expense. Just about every text block is hilarious.
PAGE 2: Right away a shocker! $75 for the Genesis version of Street Fighter II! Seriously! I'll never whine about the new $60 price point again. I think we've been getting off like freeloaders for the past ten years of $50 games. And look at that: EGM has already declared Street Fighter II the "Game of the Decade" and we're only three years in. This is the ONLY pre-order game in the whole catalog. Boy, times sure have changed there.
PAGE 3: Now, I didn't get a Genesis until '96 or so, but I somehow managed to find an old Menacer. I think I also have both games that use it, too.
GAME of the DECADE aside, kind of a weird start to the catalog, eh? You got a bankable sports celebrity and the new X-Men game, but Ecco is a year old and nobody ever liked Taz-Mania or the Menacer. You can't even count on some Sonic clip art to help shill the Genesis bundle pack.
Elbo's there, though. And he's boxin'.
PAGE 4: Who in the hell is going to find that Flashback game there among all the sports titles? At least this page features our first "NEW" game, Bulls Versus Blazers and the NBA Playoffs, which I guess means we haven't yet figured out how to cram a full sports season onto a Genesis ROM.
PAGE 5: Wow, Night Trap. There's so much bad mojo around that game that it's hard to believe that at one time you could pick up an EB catalog and see it advertised right between some shitty Batman game and Joe Montana.
Man, is the cost spread crazy or what? The cheapest games on the page are (failed) Sega CD titles at $49.99... but the Genesis stuff ranges up to $64.99, not including Street Fighter II, the GAME OF THE DECADE.
And is there, like, a single good Sega game anywhere to be seen?
I'm about to hit endgame in Okami, so this weekend I put a couple hours in on some mini-missions and item collection. I dug up a sidequest FAQ on GameFAQs and cherry-picked some of the more interesting tasks. For example, I had no idea that you could upgrade certain brush techniques by donating money to those underground springs. Sheesh. Then there's this:
I am so glad that they had the balls to name that move "Golden Fury." Pun(s) intended.
Remember my self-aggrandizing artwork? Sei-an City's resident fashion artist is scribbling it all over town. Naturally, her existence means that there is a complicated sidequest connected to the images you draw on kimonos.
One of the kimono designs leads you to a cute Viewtiful Joe ref. And yeah, they do use the word "viewtiful."
Now for the film: I swear I thought of this before reading on GameFAQs. I got to the last Blockhead jerk, where you are challenged to memorize an eight-dot sequence. It's pretty much impossible. My big idea was to shoot a quick movie of Blockhead Grande's preamble (the dot positions are random, so you can't just bug him enough times so you can catch it all)... and then play back the movie frame by frame on the camera. All of a sudden Mr. Grande's attack wasn't so unbeatable.
And now that this video lives in YouTube, I feel I have lived up to Issun's word.
We had two big events scheduled for this morning... both our local Toys R Us and our favorite comic store (Comic Store West) had Grand Re-Openings today. The TRU recently completed a nice renovation where they gutted the always-lame Kids R Us portion and turned it into a Babies R Us... and the Toys R Us part FINALLY got an R'Zone.
The Comic Store just moved to their fifth location in twenty years. If you're keeping track, I always think of their evolution as The First One, The One Beside The Porn Shop, The One Beside Off-Track Betting, The One On Route 30, and now The New One.
The big draw at Toys R Us was Spider-Man. Clark had been talking about this fateful meeting for days.
Spidey was an hour late, so a line snaked through the store as soon as he showed up. Clark was fairly astonished at the meeting, but he was brave enough to stand by himself for a picture. As soon as we said our thank-yous and moved out of the way, he announced that he wanted to do it again.
TRU also had some less-popular characters roaming the store(s). No lines here. Clifford's innocently affable expression doesn't translate to a costume, does it? He looks sort of sad, like he's been doing this for weeks.
Here's Geoffrey giving Clark the ol' brush-off. Clark thought he was a dinosaur.
The Comic Store arranged to have one of the famed 501st Legion Star Wars troops show up... and they showed up huge. I figured our quaint little sector of the galaxy would get a couple of Stormtroopers and a handshake, but we had a full dozen Imperials at the store today. Sandtroopers, TIE pilots, even one of those jerkball Death Star officers. It was crazy awesome. Every time you turned around, some Imperial would be hustling out into the 100-degree heat to go wave a sign along the road. In addition to looking super sweet, they collect for a toy drive, so I saw boxes of donated Phantom Menace toys on their way to kids.
Clark was fascinated by the guys, but the store's relatively close quarters and high population meant that he wanted to be held in all the photos.
This Thor costume was really slick. Woolen leggings and everything. Dude was in character too, all "verily!" and stuff, which I always appreciate. His Mjolnir was actually unbelievably heavy. Very cool.
Yeah! GL! Get back to the front line, you poozer! Mogo needs backup!
For a month or two, my office Windows XP machine has been trouble, throwing virus-like errors in Explorer. A site would load but than instantly turn into an error page as IE shifted from the genuine URL to this f-ed up local URL: res://C:\WINDOWS\system32\shdoclc.dll/navcancl.htm.
It seemed to be random, because sometimes I could visit a bunch of different websites with no problem, but later I would try the same sites and get the error.
It also felt like the keyboard was slow. I would type at my normal blistering pace and every fourth letter would be dropped. I punched my PC's flatscreen twice for that. Dead on, fist into screen. It took both shots with no ill effect, so I have to give the Dell product top marks for that.
I tried Googling that bizarre res: string, but IE did the same FU trick on the Google results page, effectively blocking me out of teching my own problem. So I did my searching on my iMac... I don't know why I'm even bothering to use my PC's web browser, except when somebody at the office sends me an email with a link in it.
I found a lot of forum posts that warned of some sort of spyware. But nobody seemed to have a solution for the issue, aside from running anti-virus / anti-spyware and firewall stuff (of which my company has plenty. I can't even send out print ad files without gumming up my PC Outlook to hell.)
The laggy typing was making me paranoid that I had a keystroke-catcher on my hands, so I began to use the PC even less than usual. The situation floundered like that for weeks, with me occasionally forgetting that I had a problem, trying to use IE, and then getting frustrated all over again.
Anyway, consider this my effort at stacking the web with another instance of this problem, so somebody in the future might come up with an answer to the "res://C:\WINDOWS\system32\shdoclc.dll/navcancl.htm" issue.
I'll be headed right back to my office iMac, thank you very much.
Jeez, I just keep finding great stuff since the move. I have a pile of old crap sitting by the iMac that is pure website flogging material.
This entry, then, concerns some great OCD Game Boy charts I made in 1991.
That is a printout, done in AppleWorks on an Apple //c on our ImageWriter printer, shows my first thirty Game Boy games. Note the price and the date of purchase. For a moment there, I was impressed with the staggering TEN games purchased in the month of December, but then I remembered that's when Christmas is.
One thing that I think really stands out: there's absolutely no first-party bias. We just didn't think of things like that back then. Basically, with the gaming press limited to store catalogs, you just bought whatever had cool box art. When was the last time you saw a list of somebody's thirty Nintendo system games and only noted two Mario titles in the bunch?
Yes, I'm as surprised as you to see Heavyweight Championship Boxing in there. It was a Link Cable game, so either I knew somebody else who had it, or I hoped somebody I knew would get it, or - and this is not out of the realm of possibility - I owned two copies of it just in case. I don't specifically recall owning two copies of Boxing, but I did have a pair each of Fortified Zone, Super R/C Pro-Am, Formula F1, Radar Mission, and I think Gauntlet 2. For the multiplayer.
I have a second printout with the next seven games scribbled in pencil: Lock 'N Chase, Mickey's Dangerous Chase, Rescue of Princess Blobbette, The Punisher, Battle Unit Zeoth, Daedalian Opus, and Maru's Mission. I did not scan that in because it has been covered with even more hand-written glyphs and secret codes. That set takes the chart up to October '91; I stopped dutifully recording my Game Boy purchases after that because I got a girlfriend.
It's about to get weirder.
That chart - and by all means click the image for the annotated mega-legible version - illustrates when I bought each game and when I conquered it. In graph form. That is nuts. Just plain crazy.
Some long-dormant thoughts about those games:
I think I did eventually beat Fortress of Fear; that line would have been extended to a second sheet. I distinctly recall hand-crafting tons of maps for that game.
Gremlins 2 sucked, but Ghostbusters II was actually quite good.
I can still hum the music to Revenge of the Gator.
Out of all the long lines on that chart, Bubble Ghost was the most hard-won. Castlevania I put down for months because it was boring, but Bubble Ghost just kicked my ass forever. It was really unforgiving. It would make a neat DS microphone-based game these days.
I seem to look back on Gargoyle's Quest with a lot more fondness than that chart would indicate. It is still one of my favorites, along with Cosmotank and Balloon Kid.
That Dragon's Lair game sucked ass. But back then anything Dragon's Lair was awesome by default, even though the original laser disc game is probably one of the all-time crappiest games ever made.
Penguins were popular Game Boy foils, it seems. Chalk it up to the two-tone screen display.
The tales the lines don't tell: Ninja Turtles was a disappointment because it was so easy to beat. DuckTales, which has a similarly short line, was super-great because it was all I did for a week.
I went on to buy another thirty-odd games, just without the anal AppleWorks database management. As terrible as this is, it kinda bugs me that I didn't keep noting stuff like this. That would be pretty sweet to have a complete list of dates, prices, and which ones I beat.
1982 San Diego Comic Con (flickr collection by Alan Light, via Mark Evanier) A wonderful set of 1980s pics of an astonishing assortment of comics legends, including Jack Kirby, Carl Barks, Sergio Aragones, Marv Wolfman (pre-Crisis), Jim Shooter, and li'l Frank Miller.
Unprinted Afterword by Seanbaby (Seanbaby) Somebody asked him to write an afterword for a book about getting jobs in the video games industry, then the editors chickened out and didn't print it. Seanbaby got paid, though, so it's cool.
Best quote, in reference to editors trying to reign in Seanbaby's writing: "For example, if they take out a sentence for talking about Jean Claude Van Damme punching someone in the vagina, the entire following paragraph about vagina punching makes no sense."
I get these email surveys from Nintendo quite a bit, and I always make a point to fill them out. You don't get anything for it, other than your chance to bake them over bad games. Like Pokemon Battle Revolution. Here's some screens of the survey (I skipped the dull(er) questions, like Are You Male Or Female) along with some additional commentary.
Boom! This assures they will pay attention to me, 'cause I'm a Power Buyer.
Hell yeah, son.
They seem to have forgotten about Pokemon Snap and the Puzzle League series, all of which are fantastic Pokemon tie-in games. I guess they're trying to narrow this survey down to the adventurey games.
The real story here is that Circuit City had the game on an unexpected discount. $40. Knowing what I know about Nintendo's history with console Pokemon games, I was really close to not even bothering with Battle Rev, but saving $10 pushed me over into a grudging "OK." That list gives you an idea how Nintendo would like to focus their advertising efforts. How about "Wii Preview Channel," guys?
Because they did something.
Because they didn't do enough.
The DS game integration was the big draw, and then that turned out to mostly suck. You would have to play Battle Rev for days to generate enough Poke Coupons to buy anything. You can't even buy crappy stuff for cheap; it's all expensive. I just beat the game tonight (first time through) and I have about 4,000 Coupons. The least expensive item on the shop list is King's Rock or Leftovers for around 7,000.
At least they made it nice and easy to sync up your entire DS pokemon collection with Battle Rev... although of course your team gains no experience for it.
"Accuracy of stylus"?
Some very mediocre ratings in the key areas. The endless parade of battles just sucks, as much as it did on the N64 games. To make matters worse, the few change-up Colosseums that they added are even more obnoxious. Seriously, randomizing your team? The hell?
Friend Codes for individual Wii games are lame. No voice chat. No trading. The only upside is that Battle Rev allows for random match-ups, which is very nice and isn't even possible in Diamond/Pearl.
What's up with this question? You tap menu choices on your DS. How could they have screwed that up?
To elaborate more on my last point: I can't even describe how disappointed I was when I saw that the entire game runs out of one crappy main menu. So much for the immersion of actually being inside a big awesome Pokemon amusement park. All you get is one boring virtual lobby.
If you're dying to see pokemon battles with cool special effects, here you go. (Gengar's Dark Pulse is especially awesome, by the way.) And coupled with the DS games, you get a couple of middling bonuses.
Other than that, it's a non-event. Again.
Now that I've had my Wii dose of pokemon fighting, I'm going to need some serious evidence before I go this way again.
I can't believe I kept the packaging to this, or maybe I can.
This is the LCD game of the NES game of the Metal Gear sequel that nobody wanted. You can check it out on Wikipedia, but the upshot is that Snake's Revenge is the Kojima-less sequel made specifically for the US. And if Kojima-san had nothing to do with the NES Snake's Revenge, I'm sure he had even less to do with this poor boy LCD version. As the story goes, after hearing what his company had approved in Snake's Revenge, Kojima started work on his true sequel, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake.
After his iron clad plan to rule the world rusted away in Metal Gear, crazed Colonel Vermon Cataffy retired from the terrorist business. But before going on tour, Cataffy gave the secrets for Metal Gear II (an ultra-sheik nuclear attack tank) to the world's premier bad guy - Higharolla Kockamamie. Now, you're ordered on a mission to infiltrate Higharolla Kockamamie's heavily guarded Fortress Fanatic and to destroy Metal Gear II.
"Colonel Cataffy"? "before going on tour"? "ultra-sheik"? "Higharolla Kockamamie"? Uwe Boll, is that you?
Surprisingly, the Kockamamie thing comes directly from the NES original's manual, which, according to Wikipedia, was written with little regard for the game's actual tone. Although Kockamamie is designated as such in print, that name is not mentioned in the NES game. Weird, huh? If you needed more proof that the guys who made LCD versions never actually played the source game, there you are.
Anyway, laying Kockamamie aside, the LCD Snake's Revenge was noteworthy for it's leading-edge use of voice samples during the game... which offers a passable imitation of the classic Metal Gear CODEC. If you owned this, those audio clips are forever etched into your lizard brain. Even though this game is wholly rejected by the Metal Gear world, the constant usage of bizarre audio like "This is Nick... are you okay?" seems to harken the meta-textual weirdness of the franchise as it exists today.
Here's four minutes of edited highlights of me playing the damn thing. It's the audio you'll want to hear, not so much the video.
That comes from a solid half hour of recorded footage, if you must know. I almost beat the final boss, but I ran out of missiles.
The Trainer stands on the sidelines of the stage and is seen actually giving commands. Just like we should have seen in every console Poke-craphat game to date.
Yeah, Sakurai seems to indicate that the Trainer is limited to three types... but I bet that's a ruse. This is a huge change from the usual Smash Bros character, so it seems like a waste to come up with the concept and then only offer one M/F Trainer and three associated pokemon. Plus, those are all G1 characters... you gotta think there's a doppelganger Trainer with a trio from Diamond/Pearl, the most successful Pokemon game in years.
This makes me think that we won't see the return of Pichu and Jigglypuff as playable characters, since those two aren't usually seen to be as independant as Pikachu. I hope we still get Mewtwo, though. He was my Most Played in Melee.
We had some Animal Crossing-loving guests this weekend, so I set up an AC dream room, with GBAs (for Island visits), the eReader and my nearly complete collection of Animal Crossing trading cards.
As you can see, we had two simultaneous games going. Since Animal Crossing loads entirely into the console's RAM, I only needed one copy of the game. I fired it up on the Cube and then loaded it into the Wii.
Unbelievably, our guests had three Gyroids that I needed for my catalog. Now I only need four and I will have the whole set.
Not even Nintendo can stop this chicanery:
That's the Mario Strikers Charged leaderboard. I bet there's a huge Board of Directors meeting in Kyoto right now to discuss taking away the ability to name our online accounts. This is precisely what drove Nintendo into Friend Codes in the first place, so big ups to you guys for proving that online play remains a problem.
Last week's surprise system update underlines the lameness of the Forecast Channel. Here it is one in the afternoon and my Wii is showing a big bright moon on the forecast. Nintendo needs to get that Channel working properly, because a weather forecast that is ten hours old isn't a forecast at all. I could read the newspaper if I wanted out-of-date news.
USB keyboard support was a nice upgrade, though. Makes typing letters a whole lot easier. I hope this means we can use a keyboard for the next Animal Crossing game. I would prefer a Bluetooth keyboard usable on both Wii and PS3, so I am never satisfied.
And I'll tell you what, I am not that excited for Metroid Prime 3. The trailers just show more of what I never finished back in Metroid Prime 2. Blah blah. I'm interested in the new Wii Remote control scheme, but I'm going to need a lot more info on the game before I bother playing it.
I will say that doing a special Metroid Prime 3 Preview Channel was incredible and that Nintendo should have been doing this since launch day. Every major release should have a preview channel of some kind, even if it's just one Channel where Nintendo rotates through movies of upcoming releases. The truth is, however, that Metroid Prime 2 did not sell all that well and Nintendo is scared to death of a repeat of that for 3. (Bets are hedged, it appears... note that the 3 trailer says "go behind the visor, one last time"). So this particular Preview Channel is more of a marketing necessity than anything else. I'll be surprised as hell if Nintendo does this for Mario Galaxy or Smash Bros; those games simply don't need the promotion.
Here's a good idea for the next update: system-level screenshots. When you hit the Home button, you should have the option to save a screenshot of whatever is paused in the background, which the Wii would save to your Message Board.
Devon's Kinda True Cully Hamner Story (Seven Hells) I totally thought Cully Hamner was black too! I remember reading an interview or something with him where he mentioned an art school teacher who chastised his work by saying "Are you afraid to draw big lips on your black figures?"
What's truly sad about all of this is that joints like PC Mag - and the readers the prostrate there - have spent decades lampooning and belittling Macs and now they suddenly come around just because of the market success of the iPod / iMac / iPhone. What, just now you fuckheads realize that they're easy to use?
It's exactly like how the gaming press treated Nintendo in the N64 / GameCube days, actually.
Never Enough (Absorbascon) Superb runthrough of Martian Manhunter's lesser-known powers, such as creating ice cream out of thin air. Viva la Silver Age!
I know I'm getting close to tackling the Elite Four, but my team isn't ready. Out of the eight or so that I'm considering placing on the team, half of them are only in the high 40s, which just will not do. So lately I've been doing some training, mostly up in the snowy region where it's an easy 600-1200 XP no matter what stupid critter jumps you.
I also focused on catching those three legendary floating alien cat things, which cost me a lot of money and a lot of time.
I needed 30+ balls to capture Uxie, mostly wasted Ultra Balls although it was a Dusk Ball that did the job. Same story with Azelf.
Those two idiots at least have the decency to stay where you find them. The third one, Mesprit, vanishes as soon as you activate him, and you have to track him down using one of the Poketch's map screens. It's awful. You can see his current location, but if you Fly there, he moves. If you take too long to walk there, he moves. If you cross into a city, he moves. I headquartered myself in Jubilife and walked in and out of town until he flitted within a short walk. (I did like how the background music changed when you start a battle with Mesprit.)
You need to have somebody with a blocking move in your party, or else he escapes from the battle as soon as you find him (I used Gengar and his Mean Look move.) The only boon you get during this whole mess is that any damage done to him is permanent, so you can whittle his butt down to nothing and then concentrate solely on catching him.
Again, I went in armed with tons of heals, Ultra Balls and Dusk Balls... but I restarted after each unsuccessful battle that ended with either the Mesprit dead or my entire team dead. Read the following three screens a hundred times in a row, and you'll see what it was like.
Then I gave up for a week. When I tried it again, I was considering recording it for YouTube, as an example of how obnoxious it was to catch this freak.
And then I nabbed him on the first Dusk Ball thrown.
I really wish I had recorded that, because it would have been hilarious. And NSFW.
In other news, I finished off the Iron Island sidequest, using that trek to bring Gengar up to level 50. Already hatched the Riolu egg and evolved up to Lucario. CHECK CHECK.
Turned off battle animations. I'll turn them back on once I go after the League Championship.
Did some more breeding... three more male Chimchars for trading fodder, and currently working on mating a female Piplup and a male Glameow.
Tried out the honey-baiting technique and instantly added it to my Most Hated Ways To Catch Pokemon. You have to spread honey on one of a dozen special trees, then come back in twelve hours. And MAYBE the honey will have attracted a rarish pokemon. The first five times I tried it, I got NOTHING. Then I got a Wurmple. F.
Got a Munchlax, a Heracross, a Mantyke, a Skorupi, a Feebas and a Goldeen on the GTS.
Traded types back and forth with my sister. We're both working on filling out the Sinnoh 150 'dex, although she has already beaten her Elite and has already gathered plenty of National 'dex types. She is also breeding Eevees so we can try for all the crazy Eevee evolutions.
Also bought the first volume of that Prima strategy guide I mentioned last time. It's been worth it.
I found something called Twonkyvision, downloaded it, installed it, and after not too much time, my PS3 saw my iMac.
My PS3 has a Clark picture as its background pattern, but you can kinda see how the PS3 XrossMediaBar thingy works here. It sees the iMac under all three server categories, Music, Photos and Movies.
And you XMB your way through directories of files just as you would expect. The PS3 isn't entirely familiar with the Mac's method of directory distribution, so their is some weirdness... but I suspect the PS3 would act the same if it was browsing from a Windows machine. In this regard, the PS3 is clearly delivering a no-frills experience.
Naturally, it doesn't play every track, skipping over any that I bought through the iTunes Music Store with DRM. When you play a song, you get to watch the PS3's funky visualizer in action.
Browsing our photo collection works the same way. You can click through a slideshow of the entire iPhoto library with no trouble.
And here's me watching a downloaded bootleg of the banned TaleSpin episode "Flying Dupes." The PS3 doesn't play every single movie format, but it does play stuff we recorded on our digital camera, the video podcasts I've grabbed in iTunes, and most of the video game trailer type junk that I've downloaded over the years.
The thing is: I have no idea how this works. Twonkyvision is not running an app. After the initial install setup, it disappeared. The Twonky folder has nothing but an html link to my media server's setup page, which works like my router's setup page. I don't know enough after server creation to figure out what's going on, but it works, and the PS3 streams music tracks from a local IP far smoother than the Wii did.
Once Sony releases the add-on that turns PS3s into Tivos, I expect this sort of functionality will get a lot better.
I always get jealous when see those photo essays from guys in Dublin who grout tile sculptures of the Space Invaders sprites onto buildings. So I've been scouting for any sort of local random video game art.
I swear this Pac-Man sticker has been on this sign since the mid-'80s. The sticker is from those cool Pac-Man bubble gum card sets, the ones with the scratch-off maze cards. This is about a mile up from my parents' house. No, I did not place the sticker. I didn't go outside much, and certainly not a mile from home.
This is fairly ingenious. Somebody cut the character art off of a Donkey Kong cabinet. (More likely, off a reproduction sticker that they sell for those looking to restore said cabinets. Although those are pricy.) So DK and Jumpman Mario add to the ride's vague circus theme. This quarter-eater is at a local mini-golf and zoo tourist trap ice cream stand.
And that's all I got.
Click the images for super-sized desktop background versions.
You can see the following days' strips in the original CBR article. Keep Mickey's hilarious suicide antics in mind whenever anybody tries to feed you bullshit about today's entertainment media being out of control and destroying the minds of kids. This just solidifies the cultural connection between the Depression/WWII generation and the modern generations... it's those damn nerdy whitebread Boomers in the middle that got all uptight and wrecked things. "Care Bears", spare me!
I'm hovering around the Wii games, considering picking up Mario Strikers Charged...
Clerk: Can I help you with anything, sir?
Me: No, just looking.
Clerk: Do you already have a wii?
Me: Yeah. Short pause while I considering starting a conversation. Are you still getting them in stock?
Clerk: Actually, we just got some in yesterday. Always at the beginning of the month so I have to decide Wii or rent, ha ha.
Me: Oh yeah, how many did you get?
Clerk: Twelve, we get a certain amount based on how many accessories and games we sell. They figure it out based on that.
Me: You still have people waiting in line outside the store?
Clerk: Not yesterday, because it wasn't an advertised thing, but we have calls every morning as soon as we open asking if we have any, and when word gets out they're gone right away. I heard that the Wii is outselling the PS3 four to one. The PS3 has been a compete bust.
I circle around to the PS3 section, hoping to see something good on discount by now. Only two games interest me: Marvel Ultimate Alliance is $50 but I'm sure that sucks, Blazing Angels is $50 but the sequel drops in a month.
Coffee Prince Trailer (YouTube) A quick trailer for Coffee Prince, a new show airing on Korean TV. The series began running last month, so they're only up to episode ten at the moment. We've started watching subtitled dubs of the series on Veoh using the PS3's web browser. (The Wii browser just isn't fast enough to run a huge stream without sputtering.)
I'll explain... the girl on the bike, Eun Chan, is often mistakenly thought to be a guy (eg: scene in female bathhouse where she takes off her helmet)... she meets a young rich layabout (Han Kyul) twice, during an altercation in the street with a purse-snatcher and when she delivers food to him when he is naked. He also thinks her to be male. Since she stopped the thief from stealing Han Kyul's brother's ex-girlfriend's purse, Eun Chan calls him to ask for some money as compensation since she lost her job when the bike got dinged up in the street fight and her family is having money troubles. (Immediately after the phone call scene, the trailer switches to Han Kyul's brother who is still feuding with the ex.) Eventually, Han Kyul hires Eun Chan to act as his gay lover, so he can get his nagging, match-making mother off his back. And, of course, they probably fall in love somewhere around episode four, but Han Kyul still thinks she's a guy, so now he thinks he might be gay.
Not that this trailer shows it, but the show has that old Twin Peaks style of doing something really serious followed by something really goofy, and I always fall for that.
Incidentally, did you know that America and East Asia share the same blu-ray region coding? So you can order a blu-ray movie direct from Japan and play it in your PS3 without any kind of stupid hotwired region mod. Good freaking christ that sounds cool. I went searching for a blu-ray copy of the recent Animal Crossing animated movie, until I realized that it is probably unlikely that Nintendo would release a film on Sony's blu-ray format.
A Formal Analysis of Metal Gear Solid 2 (Deltahead Translation Group via GameSetWatch) A very nice comparison of the plot elements of MGS1 and MGS2, so all you doddering lunkheads out there can see what really went on in Sons of Liberty. Maybe if you read this, you'll see why MGS2 played the way it did... the game was fucking with you, son. FACT: MGS2 remains incredibly incredible.
Like I said before, the RE5 trailer makes me itchy.
At least twiceon Kotaku this week, the racial implications have caused a commenting explosion, instigated chiefly by an African-American weblogger voicing her concerns about the game.
Here's the full trailer, the one I downloaded on my PS3...
I don't think Capcom, a Japanese developer, intended to make a political statement, but here in America, it seems impossible not to see it as such when taken, and I'll italicize this, taken out of context of the actual game. Racism is alive and well in America (as it is everywhere, including Japan), and although we hope that black and white relations have greatly improved, there is still quite a ways to go. In my hometown, I can't drive far without seeing a Confederate flag of some sort. But I also see a growing number of biracial couples, which tells me that the younger generations have happily shattered that taboo.
Resident Evil is a game series about killing zombies. End of synopsis. There is no reason why STARS's crusade against Umbrella and its various zombie-making parasites shouldn't travel to Africa (or Haiti, given the historic zombie/voodoo connection that Kotaku points out). We spent so much time stuck in the predominantly white Raccoon City, working out light puzzles just to get into the damn shopping mall, and now editions 4 and 5 seem to be taking gamers on a world tour of zombie hotspots.
As a gamer, I look at that video and think "I hope we get to toast the bastards that corrupted this town," just as I did in RE4. Early in RE4, when you first meet a Ganados and Leon begins by asking the guy if he has seen the girl in the photograph, I was one of those players who hesitated to see what would happen. Maybe this villager is fine? No, I got bit. And the game made it clear that there was no way to save the people from the monsters within. So from then on, these Spanish-speaking villagers were the New Zombie Standard. I'm sure something similar will happen in RE5.
But if you walk into that trailer cold, holy shit, it looks like Dick Cheney's dream Katrina evac footage. The first problem is that the villagers are not especially zombie-like. The attacking throng is clearly demented and hungry to kill, but the people lack the usual bloody threadbare arms, gaping midsections of entrails, dangling eyeballs or flip-top skulls. Plus, they move really fast. So you don't really get a B-movie zombie feel from the trailer, you see mobs of Africans acting murderously aggressive against one white guy. And then they get killed.
Despite what you may know about the RE franchise, the depiction of black people as ignorant, mumbling savages and getting slaughtered by a white cop is a complete pile of cultural ickiness. And that's what this poor woman is seeing when she views that trailer. I don't think we should ignore that, we should be discussing that. Instead, her lack of context about video games is met with the dull roar of a thousand angry keyboards, some attempting reason but most resorting to slurs, half-baked justifications, and pathetic cries of "no, you're the racist!"
Here's the most common retorts:
"It takes place in Africa, so of course there's zombie Africans!"
Misses the point entirely. It's not about the game's setting at all, it's about the shared history of black oppression. Nobody is suggesting that Capcom should set the game in Kenya and then fill the streets with white zombies. Without the grounding of the series' fight against zombies (which the trailer does a poor job of explaining), it becomes a KKK porn film. Watch the trailer again and pretend that you never heard of Resident Evil. There is NOTHING in there to suggest zombies... particularly if all you know about zombies comes from old movies. It is outright racist when viewed from that angle.
"You can just not play it if you don't like it!"
Absolutely. And if somebody starts up the Let's Kill Kittens show on basic cable, I can also just flip right past it. Or, I can complain loudly about how I don't think people should kill kittens and I definitely don't think it should be on television. But if I watch an episode of LKK and find out that it's just a sitcom with a stupid Adult Swim style non-sequitur name, then I will have learned the context and will likely stop complaining about it.
Our African-American weblogger needs to learn the context of RE5 (and I can't blame her for not being aware of it), but that doesn't mean she shouldn't stand up against footage that, to her view, shows black people being grotesquely stereotyped and viciously slaughtered by a heroic white male action movie star.
"Spanish people didn't complain about Resident Evil 4!"
First of all, some may have. But more importantly, the Ganados are pretty much white in appearance. I actually thought they looked more Eastern European and was surprised to hear them speaking garbled monster-Spanish. Additionally, although white America certainly has racist attitudes towards Spanish-speaking peoples (just put up a bi-lingual sign anywhere in the midwest and wait), the history of white America and black America is far more dogeared.
Here's the thing about race relations: the majority race does NOT get to decide what shouldn't offend the minority race(s). That is just crazy talk.
One of my most regretted lunchtime conversations at work revolved around the use of an American Indian for a college mascot. The proponent in the argument, an alum, hated the idea that the Native American movement was making colleges change their mascots... and I, trying to get out of the conversation, lamely agreed, stating that "as long as the word is treated with respect, why shouldn't they use it" (IE, not attached to ghoulish "red man" caricatures, not associated with insulting stereotypical "ugh" language, etc).
No. What I should have said was "Look, you white folks don't get to decide what shouldn't offend Native Americans. That is their word. That is their image. That is their tribe name. They get to decide who uses it. Go call yourselves the bulldogs or something." I didn't, and I feel like I aided and abetted a hate crime.
"White people didn't complain about any other Resident Evil game!"
My smartass answer is, because white people don't think about other races, so white zombies in a white city are fine because everybody's white.
But the problem here is that this claim thinks that "white (majority) cop killing white (majority) zombies" is somehow equivalent to "white (majority) cop killing black (minority) zombies." Since white people didn't complain, black people shouldn't! Things are quite a bit more complex than that simple role reversal. RE5 futzes it up further by making the zombies (to our view) poverty-stricken. So now it's "well-dressed white (majority) cop killing poor black (minority) zombies that don't look like zombies." Taken out of context, that is wholly indefensible.
I wonder if there would have been any argument at all if Capcom had introduced a black character as the heroic lead in this trailer. Or if the villager zombies looked like gory, pus-filled Fangoria zombies. I'll bet not.
"It's just a game."
Jesus, on one hand we're all pissed that Roger Ebert says video games can't be art and now we want an activist viewpoint to cool off because "it's just a game"?! We are not having this both ways.
It's likely that the unspoken explanation behind "it's just a game" is "and I can tell fantasy from reality, and in this fantasy I am killing zombies, not people." Again, yes, it's fine because you know the story of Resident Evil, but anybody who doesn't should rightfully twitch at the visuals in that trailer.
Those who know the game know the storyline, and they are outraged that somebody should be outraged about killing zombies (the Manhunt 2 ban is still too close to our hearts). To those who don't know Resident Evil, it is most certainly not "just a game," it's not even "just a movie," it's playing off of fears and hates that still need generations to work out. And it's coming out clearly in favor of the white guy.
I think the key point is that the our African-American weblogger probably had no idea that Resident Evil 4 had Spanish-speaking "zombies," or that the game will ultimately be about liberating the villagers from Umbrella or whoever is controlling them. Her phrase "the Black people are supposed to be zombies" indicates to me that she sees the zombie concept as being loosely applied, perhaps to hide the game's motive of letting white gamers blow through villages of poor black people. She doesn't know that the game will eventually reveal sick little alien mindslugs inside those villagers, and that they are no longer human. (If RE5 follows the path of RE4, that is.)
I also think that, as the gaming media swooped down on this story, everybody neglected to realize that it's just this woman's weblog entry. She saw a disturbing game trailer (mentioned in rather thoughtful Village Voice article) and commented on it. She's not calling her Congressman, she's not campaigning to shut down all video games.
Although, as the little-reported follow-up entry suggests, the terrible behavior found in most of the comments has led this particular website to think just that: "given the response from gamers� I think we should all be very afraid. Many of these folks seem like the type who would try to reenact scenes from Resident Evil 5. Can you say Columbine?"
Oh great. Nice work, dumbasses.
It's a shame, because it's a sweet trailer. The harsh lighting adds a slick style to the realistic figures. One of the series' original characters returns. The over-the-shoulder shooting style of RE4 looks intact. There's tons of character models. The environments looks amazing. But nobody is paying attention to any of that.
I wonder if Capcom Japan feels totally blindsided by this. I hope that they issue an official company statement soon. Maybe explain a little more about the game's setting, assert that they had no racist intentions, and hope that everyone shows up for the full story when the game is released. This situation reads to me like a classic cultural misunderstanding on the Japanese' part. Team RE travelled to Africa, shot lots of source photography, then went back and made an awesome game without fully realizing how the imagery might be perceived by a country only fifteen years past its last full-on race riot.
I missed a far better quote earlier in the conversation, where Issun chatters about melons.
And here's what Issun and Amaterasu are looking at.
I love these guys. They bar passage until you find the nearby key, and when you approach them with the key, they freak out like this. Then you stab them in the eye with the key and they die, opening the gate.
Issun's opinion of women with their back turned to him.
Seriously. You spend one level inside a dude, looking at his uvula.