Thank God It’s Thursday News Report 03.20.03

Good day. Welcome to the world’s greatest cure for insomnia, the Thank God It’s Thursday News Report. I’m your host with the least, Bryan Berg, and I’ll be bringing you the news that matters… to me, anyway.

This time of year is the greatest of the year. First of all, every day has a nickname. March 14 is Pi Day (3.14, get it?), March 15 is The Ides of March (Beware the Ides of March), March 16 is Stone Cold Day (3.16), and March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day, one of the most useless days on the calendar. And in the midst of all of this, how could we forget the most important thing – The NCAA Tournament!

Enough of that, though. Now, on with the news!


NBA Live
The soundtrack to EA’s NBA Live 2003 has gone platinum (1 million copies sold). The soundtrack was bolstered by appearance by stars such as Snoop Dogg and Brandy. It is said to be the first video game soundtrack to go platinum.

First, let it be known that if Vice City put all of the good songs on one CD instead of seven different ones, it would have gone platinum a long time ago. It truly irks me that the music that’s played during menu screens can sell a million records. I found out the other day that we’ve sold 190 copies of my band’s CD in 10 months, and I thought that was pretty cool. Until now. I’m pissed. In any event, though, this is proof to EA that its EA Trax system works. We can now expect to be bombarded with even more popular music in our sports games.

Gamecaster
Coming from the minds that brought you BattleBots, Gamecaster will be staging a video game tournament later in 2003 that will take place in Las Vegas. The tournament will be seven days in length, and will be filmed and shown on national television at a later date. Those interested can pre-register here.

This tournament idea COULD work… but will probably have the same effect as that MTV “special” on gamers. The winner of this thing is pretty much guaranteed to be a 30-year old loser who lives with his parents, which will mean that he will represent all gamers on national TV, further demeaning the stereotype of gamers.

Sonic
You’ll be seeing a lot of Sonic this year – Sega is planning to heavily advertise Sonic as a “flagship” character for Sega. In 2003, Sonic will grace television sets as part of an animated series, and toy store shelves in the form of a line of action figures. Of course, Sonic will be coming home as well, as FIVE Sonic games will be released in the US and Europe. To quote the head of Sonic development, Yuji Naka, “We would like to make Sonic as big as Pokemon”.

Sega has made no bones about whom it’s trying to emulate and what niche it’s trying to cater to in the marketplace. The question is, will it work? Pokemon seems to be losing steam (that is, nobody’s gotten killed over Pokemon cards recently) – is there room for another loveable cartoon/game character in the hearts of gamers? It will be very interesting to see if Sega’s plans for Sonic come to fruition. Here’s hoping that everything works out, because if it doesn’t, that spells big trouble for Sega.

Playstation 3
Contrary to rumors of the appearance of Playstation 3 this year, CNN reports that we will not see the next Sony system until 2006. A number of gaming executives agree with the report, stating that there is no reason for Sony to rush out another system when it is already winning the race over Microsoft and Nintendo in the current wave of systems. In other news, Sony is said to be considering lowering the price on the PS2.

While this isn’t exactly confirmation that the PS3 won’t be here for another three years, it’s certainly more rational than the system appearing this year. Five to six years is pretty much the established norm for a system’s life cycle, and if the PS3 were coming out this year, that would leave the PS2 with only three years of life. It’s all speculation at this point, though, and it’s useless to think about the PS3 when the PS2 still has a ways to go until it’s dead.


Plugs
This week’s Gold winner was an easy choice. Alex Lucard’s Retrograding was, in this writer’s opinion, the best column of Alex’s 411 career. It’s a really interesting look at how the different companies handle customer service, and you’ll be surprised at what the results turned out to be.

The Silver goes to Stanley for his consistently excellent Weekend Wipe-Up. I didn’t catch “I’m A Gamer” (I already am one, I don’t need to watch a show about it), but his recap of said show made me wish I’d tuned in. The only part I didn’t like is when he slanders Golden Tee Golf, a truly great game. You need to be a hardcore golfer to appreciate the beauty of Golden Tee. It’s OK if you don’t get it now, but don’t let it happen again.

Bebito scores Bronze for his excellent pilfering of my plugging method. Let it be said now – you want a medal? Either steal my ideas or write good stuff about me. Or both! Anyway, in his column, Bebito proves that McNutt isn’t dead after all. He also says the one thing that really needed to be said – quite a few of us ARE the “I’m A Gamer” nerds. We just don’t want to admit it.

There were some really good ones this week that missed the cut. Ron Yip jinxed himself big-time by claiming he always got a medal. Let it be said now – you want to ruin a streak of medals? Talk about how you always get one. Anyway, his SimColumn features a nice interview with the creator of Wrestling Tycoon, a game that sounds really promising. Also posting this week was The Scotsman with his highly amusing Scott Keith Smackdown Diary. You need to be a religious studier of Keith’s Rants to get some of the humor, but it’s great stuff.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Lee Baxley and his work on the Hump Day Okatu News Report. Now that the name’s explained… well, it still sounds like a porn title. And I mean that in the best way possible. But the column’s really good and you should go read it. By the way, Lee – you did it again.

On the review front, not too much this week. Widro has his review of Kung Fu Chaos for X-Box, and the kind folks at The Next Level provided a review for Cubivore. Obviously, it’s on the GameCube. And, as usual, there are tons of previews for you to peruse in the Previews section. Lastly, the Flash games section has grown with the addition of Tetris. It’s sort of like Dr. Mario in that once you finish the task at hand (get 10 lines), you get a new board with more crap in the way. Give it a try.

Non-411 Link of the Week
You get two this week. The first you might get, the second one you’ll love no matter what.
First, I present you with 98 Signs that You Are A Long Islander, though #16 doesn’t really apply anymore.
Secondly, you get A Guy’s Response To 50 Things Girls Wish Guys Knew. This is a hilarious list and you need to read it.


Commentary of the Week
You’ll think I’m copying Bebito, but I’m not. In truth, the idea for the whole week has been to do a sort of Random Thoughts/Quick Hits type of Commentary because writing about just one thing gets boring. Of course, Bebito is awesome so he had the same idea just two days prior. I’m still gonna do it, and we’re now even.

– I can now totally see why everyone else in the world hates America. Who but America would go into some other country and tell the people, “We know what’s right for you. We’ll overthrow your dictator and show you the way!”. Ugh. It’s so White American. Now, look at it from the other side. If the Iraqi people wanted to be liberated so bad, wouldn’t they take the initiative and do something about it?
– Speaking of the war, they’d better not interrupt the NCAA Tournament for this crap. We need all the diversions we can get, and the NCAA Tourney is the perfect distraction. Besides, this is the most pure basketball you’ll ever see.
– On the topic of basketball – I love the NBA, but in no other league will you EVER see somebody shoot AT THE WRONG BASKET in an attempt to get a rebound so they’ll have a triple-double. You do that in hockey and you’d better keep your head up, or else you’ll lose your teeth. What a disgrace to the game of basketball.
– If the Knicks had won all of the games they either blew in the 4th quarter or lost on the last shot, they’d be fighting for the 7 seed instead of praying to get in.
– If I knew in June 1999 what I know now, I never would have gotten my Driver’s License. There’s probably a lesser chance of being killed fighting in Iraq than there is driving in New York.
– Women have no business driving SUV’s and Minivans when they can’t even drive compact cars without trouble.
– Is it too much to ask that if you’ve got to bullshit on your cell phone, could you at least pull over and not drive right into me?
– Sometimes, I wish murder were legal.
– Elton John’s “Funeral For a Friend” is one of the best instrumentals ever written. Its only true competition would have to be “Orion”.
– If Eminem were black, nobody would care about him.
– If 50 Cent were white, nobody would care about him.
– John Lennon is the greatest songwriter that has ever lived and will ever live.
– AFI didn’t sell out.
– On the subject of AFI, it’s incredibly cool when a band you’ve loved for the past six years, since no one knew who the hell they were, gets to #5 on the Billboard charts. Truly amazing. I’m happier for them right now than I’d be if I had the #1 record in America.
– TSOL is one band that you should be listening to. They are perhaps the most unappreciated band in the history of punk.
– Ash is the best band in the world today, but nobody cares about them in America. That needs to change.
– Chris Rock needs to do another HBO stand-up special.
– So does Eddie Murphy.
– If you’re not watching Chappelle’s show every Wednesday night, you should be.
– Last night’s episode was the best one so far. It’s on again Friday night at 12:30 EST. Watch it.
– They really need to make a new Happy Gilmore DVD where “Interactive Menus” aren’t the highlight.
– Target is highly superior to Wal-Mart.
– Instead of capital punishment, the proper way to torture convicted felons would be to give them cashiering jobs at ShopRite.
– If you ask me if I’m mad at you, and I say no, odds are good that I’m mad at you.
– It really bothers me when people don’t say “Bye”.
– I have a lot of strong feelings about a lot of things, but refuse to take action on most of them.
– I understand that high school can be pretty rough for some people. The truth is, though, that high school students know nothing about life.
– Neither do college students.
– The demands placed on young people are completely unreasonable. And people wonder why these kids are so f*cked up.
– It requires WAY too much effort to get an A.
– Reality is, by far, the most terrifying thing in the world.

Farewell
Another news report in the books. I hope it was as enjoyable for you to read as it was for me to complain about everything. Today is my girlfriend Cory’s 21st birthday. That means next week’s report will be coming to you live from my cardboard box, as it’s all I’ll have left once I’m done paying for her gifts.

We don’t get to hear from Pankonin tomorrow because he’s out in Arizona (lucky bum), so Stanley’s report will be twice as good as usual. See you guys next week.