Gamer’s Hangover 07.21.03

Welcome to the Gamer’s Hangover for this, glorious, glorious week. Why is this week so glorious? Such as the festival that is Christmas is preceded by the joyous, anticipatory season of Advent, and the celebration of Easter is preceded by the period of atonement, reflection, and preparation known as Lent, there is another near-religious holiday preceded by a time of preparation, anticipation, and celebration.

NFL training camp opened this weekend.

1.And the Heavens opened. And the glory of the Lord shone down upon his servent, his Priest. 2.The Priest received the Sacrament of the Ball, and rushed forth through a sea of defenders, parted by the Lord’s servants John and Will. 3.He arrived at the Promised Land to the cheers of the faithful. 4.And the Lord spoke, saying,

“This is my Priest, whose hip has been healed.”

5.And it was good.

And whoda thunk it: The Chiefs actually signed their 1st round pick (RB Larry Johnson from Penn State) BEFORE camp started! The Over/Under for his knee pulling a Ki-Jana Carter is 4 games.

Anyway, check out the slightly expanded, less-mailed-in version of the Gamer’s Hangover. I’m sporting a good one myself after consecutive nights up until 4 reviewing RTX — Red Rock and NCAA Football 2004 (reviews out later this week, unless Panky pulls executive privilege).

Quasi-random thoughts:

To the friend of mine that bitched to the other friend of mine about putting his friends into his Madden team: We’re all heading towards 35. The chances of getting”discovered” walking down the street and being offered a starting job with the Chiefs are getting slim. If this keeps people like me and him from going into full-blown mid-life crisis, I can think of a couple of non-gamer wives who would be all for being defensive backs in someone’s little world. We’re all adults here. Get over it.

Arcades, lately, have become depressing as hell to me. It’s not because I’m longing for the abandon of my youth, or that I’m regretting being almost (but not quite) 30, it’s that I can find better games in the electronics section of Wal-Mart. Remember when the arcade games were the gold standard and the home systems seemingly unreachable goal was to achieve their level of sophistication? Well, now you have more buttons on one Xbox controller than you have on an entire 4-player Track-and-Field machine. Other than the occasional sit-down cab with some lame-ass motion base, there’s nothing that arcade games can claim to have exclusively. Arcade game developers need to get off of their collective asses and take it to the next level. I’m talking about holographics, surround video, encounter gloves with decent collision detection, real force-feed back systems; imagine a surround view game where you were enclosed in a mech cockpit and had full surround video, sound, and force feedback. I’d take out mortgages to play that. I don’t need another version of Dance Dance Revolution.

Speaking of revolutions, we’re all going to be pissed off after Matrix: Revolutions. I can feel it.

From the”it’s who you know” department, I have a friend (I-was-a-groomsman-at-his-wedding kind of friend) who is in the promotions department of the local radio station that is running the ads for the upcoming Smackdown house show. He has told me that he’s going to try and score us some backstage passes for the show. If I do, in fact, make it back there, you can be sure that it will be a 411 EXCLUSIVE!!!

Why isn’t there a decent military squad mission game based on G.I. Joe? What 30 year old wouldn’t buy this? I have friends who still have the I.D. cards from their old Joes. The biggest problem is that everybody would want to be Snake-Eyes.

The same thing goes for Transformers. The Atari Transformers title that’s coming is not looking like the multi-player nerd-fest I had hoped. I’ll take what I can get, though. I only hope Atari fleshes this out a bit more. I’d love to play a TF deathmatch game or a team warfare game. How about dropping the robots into the GTA universe. They could move around in disguise and have similar vehicles driving around such that you’d have to really keep an eye on your surroundings to try and find them. I think that would be sweet, and a hell of a lot more fun than the search-and-unload-on tactics of normal FPS games.

Thanks to 411-Games, I am assured to buy at least one new gaming platform each generation until I retire. Me and my son thank you all.

There seems to be an infatuation with goth chicks here at 411-Games. In the pre-marriage days, I actually played one all-night session of live-action Vampire (it was at a convention). Yes, the place was rife with goth chicks. No, absolutely NOTHING remotely interesting happened all night, and not just with me. Imagine the most boring night of RPG you’ve ever played with your friends. Now turn your friends into people you don’t know, and have them argue all night about who is higher up in”The Kindred,” and whether a Gangrel could kick a Nosferatu’s ass; so that the entire game degenerates into something resembling Congressional debate. I’ve had more titillating adventures playing Monopoly.

What I’m most looking forward to in the upcoming TV season is the first scene on Angel featuring both Spike and Lorne. Also, they’re reportedly bringing Harmony back as a regular cast member. Harmony. And Spike. Somebody pinch me.

Games I’m looking forward to this fall, in order of increasing plotzing: RAW 2, Sonic Heroes, Smackdown!:HCTP, Buffy: Chaos Bleeds.

Am I the only person who wants an updated version of Mutant League Football?

Robert Edwards got screwed out of the”Comeback Player” ESPY. Tommy Maddox’s only achievement was being a better quarterback than Kordell Stewart, something most of the Games staff could accomplish. Did you SEE Tommy up there? He looked like Al Gore’s little, and more wooden, brother.

And no offense to Jamie Foxx and his beautiful and hilarious ode to Serena Williams, but if I were posed the question of Serena or Venus, I’d take Venus in a heartbeat. I’d even take Venus over Anna”sloppy seconds” Kournakova, and not just because I couldn’t stand to have Sergei smirking at me for the rest of my life. And can you imagine Enrique Iglesias calling at 2 in the morning, drunk and singing off-key into the phone? Ugh. No thank you.

NEWS

Until further notice, these stories are from our friends at GameDaily.com.

Much Ado About Mucha Lucha!
The Warner Bros. Animation series Mucha Lucha!, which currently airs on the Kids’ WB! network, is being prepared for excursions into the film, home video, comic book, interactive entertainment and consumer product markets, as well as for other online and interactive”experiences.”
The all-Flash-developed animated series stars a trio of”mascaritas,” who”study and live” the”Code of Masked Wrestling,” which entails”honor, family, tradition and donuts.”
The Time-Warner conglomerate is throwing all of its weight behind the Mucha Lucha!, with planned involvement from Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Home Video, DC Comics, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Warner Bros. Online as well as AOL, Warner Music Group and Cartoon Network.
Warner Bros. Consumer Products Interactive Entertainment plans to release a Mucha Lucha! Game Boy Advance game this winter and a PlayStation 2 title in 2004.

Check out the Mucha Lucha Website. There’s a create-a-wrestler section, which is surprisingly deep for a simple little web toy. Apparently, they’re awarding the”best” created wrestlers with cameos on the show. I have to admit, that’s a damn cool PR device. I created a wrestler (“Kid Quark”) but I’m not up enough on my Internet Explorer-Fu to be able to pull it off and show you. Go and check it out yourselves. I watched the two sample clips from the show, and I gotta admit, I’m going to have to give it a couple of shows. A . . . to see . . . if the BOY likes it! Yeah! That’s it!

Jaleco Unleashes Goblin Commander Site
Jaleco Entertainment has opened the dedicated website for its upcoming action-strategy game, Goblin Commander: Unleash the Horde.
The website features a concept art gallery, a series of screenshots and a developer diary from producer Chris Millar. Each month the site will focus on one of the game’s five goblin clans—beginning this month with the Stonekrusher clan.
Goblin Commander is due out in mid-November for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube consoles.

*cough”¦coughWarCraftripoffcough”¦hack* Really now,”Unleash the Horde”? Why not just call the game”Tides of Darkness”?

Looking at the site, it appears to be a first person adventurey kind of thing, and not a top-down strategy thing like Warcraft. And the screenshots look pretty sweet.. . . .still, the art, the”Horde,” and absolutely no mention of Blizzard anywhere . . . . yep. I feel more coughs coming on.

Hollywood Entertainment Q2 Results
Hollywood Entertainment Corp. has released financial details form the second quarter of its current fiscal year.
In the quarter ending June 30, 2003, the rental firm reported total revenue of $389.4 million, a gain of 13 percent over the $345.3 million in revenue it earned in the same quarter of its previous fiscal year. Net income in the quarter was $19.2 million ($0.30 per diluted share), compared to $41.5 million ($0.64 per diluted share) in last year’s second quarter.
Quarterly sales were driven by an 11 percent increase in comparable store sales, which in turn was boosted by a four percent increase in rental product revenue and an”increase in merchandise sales primarily resulting from the company’s Game Crazy remerchandising initiative.” As of June 30, the company operated 1,846 Hollywood Video stores, of which 483 had a Game Crazy section.
Hollywood Entertainment also announced that is would prepay the $20.0 million full-year 2004 amortization related to its senior credit facility, due to”stronger than anticipated cash flow.”

Sometimes, good things happen to good companies.

Afghan City Shutters Videogame Stores
According to an AP report, authorities in the Afghanistan city of Jalalabad closed”hundreds” of videogame and movie stores in the city on Tuesday, claiming that such outlets were”corrupting the morals” of children.
A Jalalabad policeman noted that over 300 shops in total were closed, as law enforcement officials acted on orders from Mohammed Asif Qazizada, deputy governor of Nangarhar province. Asif Qazizada claimed to be acting in reaction to complaints from parents, who said children were visiting the haunts instead of going to school.
The reports said that many of the shops were located in the basement of a newly built shopping center in the area, where merchants charged a fee to watch DVDs or play games.
The shops will also shut in December of last year, but were allowed to reopen after owners pledged to keep out children less than 16 years of age.

It’s official. Video games are the next enemy of Allah. It was rock’n’roll for the Southern Baptists, so with Islam going through the same sort of clashing-with-pop-culture phase, it’s gonna be video games. Expect an Afghani version of Footloose’ in about ten years. Perhaps it will be in stunning Afghanistanimation.

NPD Top-Selling PC Games
NPD Techworld has released a list of the top-selling PC games for the week of June 29 through July 5.
The top 10 were:
1. Warcraft III: Frozen Throne Expansion Pack
2. Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided
3. The Sims: Superstar Expansion Pack
4. Neverwinter Nights: Shadows Of Undrentide Expansion Pack
5. Warcraft III: Reign Of Chaos
6. The Sims Deluxe
7. Rise Of Nations
8. Diablo 2
9. The Sims: Unleashed Expansion Pack
10. Tomb Raider Angel Of Darkness

That’s THREE Sims expansions, TWO Warcraft 3 games, and Diablo 2 in a pear tree. Cripes, Diablo 2 is TWO years old, isn’t it? After these six, what’s left is the Tomb Raider game that has already been pronounced SUCK, a Microsoft rip-off of Civilizations 1 through 3 (with better graphics and the added frustration of real-time elements), an expansion of NWN, and the ONLY game on the list that isn’t an expansion, rip-off, or sequel: Star Wars Galaxies. And THAT could be called a NWN rip-off, if you really wanted to.

For those that care, ebgames.com is saying that WWE Smackdown!: Here Comes The Pain will ship on 10/26. This seems really early compared to the”Winter 2003″ estimate for it’s release not that many weeks ago. Here’s your grain of salt. Water?

From the folks at IGN, this is a list of the (supposed) new features that will be in Smackdown!: Here Comes The Pain.

As a special feature to you, my loyal reader, I will comment on this story as it is in progress, Mystery Science Theater 3000 style. Ahem.

The New Game Features include:
New Grappling-Based System

[insert obligatory WWE Style’ comment here]
“¢ Four different types of grappling with corresponding move sets tailored to that specific grapple (power move set, submission move set, quick move set and signature move set)

Or, alternatively, Slow move set, Rest move set, Blown move set, and Renamed-Old-Move move set.
“¢ Four available moves out of each grapple based on superstar’s real life move sets

I want Frankie Kazarian’s real life moveset.
“¢ New two-button countering system

Thereby insuring that Cory will never counter another move again EVER.
“¢ Ability to drag superstars around the mat before putting a move on them.

If only Brock Lesnar had thought of that, he might still have a neck.
“¢ Deeper gameplay experience, more move sets and more strategy

Now including the NEW Scott Steiner moveset with 304 varieties of belly-to-belly suplex!

Differentiated Superstar Abilities
Or: WRST 101 – Why Lame Finishers Work: The Big Boot, The Superkick, and The Leg Drop.
“¢ Who you pick really matters…superstars will each have unique strengths and weaknesses based on speed, power, strength and technical abilities.

Translation: Triple H wins every match, The Rock only shows up for PPVs, and Chris Benoit never gets a title shot.
“¢ Weight detection…no more picking up Big Show with Spike Dudley!

So now he really has NO reason to live.

New Submission System Including Location Specific Damage
There need to be some sort of groin’ submission move. Just an observation.
“¢ Work your opponent’s body parts to make him less powerful, more fatigued and in the end…make him submit.

Resistance is futile.
“¢ New tug-of-war battling system interface. See your opponent desperately try to get to the ropes as you apply even more pressure.

Thank God they’re finally fixing this. Nothing was more frustrating than hitting a finisher submission move, waiting 3 seconds, and then just giving up, apparently. It was like Jericho had ADHD or something.

Animation Overhaul
Sounds like a groovy title for a new Warner Bros. cartoon.
“¢ Feel the pain of each move. A new reaction system so your superstars really sell to the moves put on them.

Unless their name happens to end with”Hogan.”
“¢ See all the new moves available to your disposal to inflict pain on your opponent.

New stiff worker’ option lets you LEGITIMATELY injure superstars! Watch Kevin Nash’s quad explode! Make the booking go to sh*t!

Graphics so real you can touch them
Nope, still feels like a cathode-ray tube to me.
A complete overhaul of the graphics engine. Each superstar will now look exactly like their real life counterpart.

*muffled laugh* And if you believe that, I have this bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
“¢ 3D crowd.

Bout bloody time.
“¢ Blood.

Would you like the Tommy Dreamer cup, or would you like to upgrade to our Ric Flair size bucket?

Season Mode
Add oregano, basil, cumin, Deca, and simmer for 30 minutes.
“¢ Build your superstar’s attributes with five core strengths.

Speed, Power, Technical, Brawling, and Backstage Conniving.
“¢ New original storyline.

Oh, I don’t know.
“¢ New money earning system with a whole new shop zone filled with compelling unlockables.

Well, I know the market value for Torrie Wilson is over 25k right now . . . .
“¢ Previously mentioned key problems with season mode addressed.

Translation: Double X chromosomes now allowed.

Overall Presentation Refinements
This year, higher hemlines are in.
“¢ Redesign of sound, camera angles and special effects will put you right in the action with cinematic experience.

Translation: We were getting our butt kicked by RAW on this one.
“¢ Superstar Voiceover.

Really? I thought it was going to be Cole and Tazz. Is Al Snow doing commentary?

New Game Modes and Match Types
New this season: Dusty Finish matches! Whoever loses, wins!
“¢ Bra and Panty Match…a whole new experience.

Not for me, but I’m married now, so I don’t have to do that as often anyway.
“¢ The elimination chamber has arrived.

. . . and she’s ordered the lobster.
“¢ First Blood Match.

[insert obligatory Sly Stallone comment here]
“¢ New fully interactive backstage environments take the action outside the ring to unparalleled situations.

This just isn’t the same since Mick Foley retired, admit it.

Updated Roster
New omissions to bitch about!
“¢ More than 60 superstars including all the top talent.

So who would YOU rather have in the 60 slot: A-Train, or Jackie Gayda?
“¢ For the first time ever in a WWE videogame…LEGENDS.

Jimmy Snuka had better be in this or I’m killing somebody.

Okay, I got this one from CNN.com. Believe me, it’s worth it.

I’ve also done this one up MST3K-style. Enjoy.

Man sets new Donkey Kong record
REDMOND, Washington (AP) — Steve Wiebe now rules as the Donkey Kong king after setting a new world record with more than 900,000 points in the classic video game.

The victory was a solitary one.

NO!! I NEVER would have guessed that.

A few times a week, after his two young kids had gone to bed and his wife, Nicole, was busy working, the 34-year-old would head to the garage and turn on the video camera that would prove his score.
He diligently set to work maneuvering Mario to dodge objects thrown by an angry ape.

“Since I’d been trying so long, it wasn’t like I jumped out of my chair or anything (when I got that score),” he said.

All the time the man ADMITS to putting into yanking on his joystick, and he claims to have a wife and kids? Come on.

Record stood for 20 years

Mostly because people stopped caring after 1985.

Finally last week, the Redmond resident broke an 879,200-point record set last year by a New York man, which edged past one set nearly 20 years ago by Billy Mitchell, a Florida man generally consider [sic] the Don of the Arcade Game. Mitchell’s mark was 874,300.

If either of these people have ever even HEARD of the PlayStation, I’ll be surprised.

Wiebe scored 947,200 points in the 22 levels of the game. He sent a videotape documenting his feat to Twin Galaxies, the definitive scorekeeping organization for gamers.

The record was big enough news to video-game enthusiasts that they crashed the organization’s Web site, said Robert Mruczek, chief referee at Twin Galaxies.

Of course, being on dial-up, that wasn’t hard to do. (Note, after writing this I thought I had been too mean and tried to get to the site for a fair evaluation. I couldn’t. It kept bogging down. The line stands.)

“If you beat a gamer with the caliber of Billy Mitchell, that’s a feather in your cap,” he said. “They’re the cream of the crop when it comes to video gaming.”

Why do I get the feeling they consider”video gaming” to be limited to games featured on the Pac-Man Fever album?

Hooked on Kong

Replace K with B, and maybe you have something there.

Despite all the points, Donkey Kong is not a game players can win. It ends with what’s known as a kill screen, a final level that’s impossible to beat. Even if a character could run headlong through the course with no obstacles, it never could make it in the time allotted.

BASTARDS!!

Wiebe has been hooked on the game since college.

Okay, he’s 34. That means he probably started college in 1986 or ’87. He should have been rotting in his dorm room playing the NES by that time. Jeez, he was behind the times 17 years ago!

Mitchell, 37, says he only counts his scores if they’re played in a public venue, and he won’t say if (he) can best his cross-country competitor. He’ll only say that he’s planning something big and unprecedented in response to Wiebe’s win.

I’ve made fun of this guy Wiebe, but it looks like Mitchell here is the one who really deserves it. “Only counts his scores if they’re played in a public forum”? “Something big and unprecedented”? Like what, masturbating to a picture of Bo Derek instead of himself? Oh, I’m sorry, I’m sure that is neither big, nor unprecedented.

Nintendo smiles
The competition is just fine by Nintendo, which created Donkey Kong.

It makes them believe that they’re still relevant, and forget that Sony has been handing their ass to them for the last, what, 7 years? And it was Sega before that. I own an SNES. I earned the right to say that.

“We always smile when we hear about these kinds of things,” company spokeswoman Perrin Kaplan said. “Donkey Kong means ‘stubborn monkey’ (in one rough translation from Japanese), and the fact that (Wiebe) was able to achieve this many points against a stubborn monkey says something.”

Stubborn monkey versus stubborn ape. Go figure.

Wiebe said he’ll keep striving for the million-point mark, then retire.

And then he’ll have to find some other distraction from the hell that is apparently his home life. Sinistar, perhaps?

The former Boeing engineer and computer-software tester plans to head back to school to become a high-school math and science teacher.

Where they’ll make endless Koopa references around him, snickering at his puzzled expression.

NOTE: The picture that accompanied this, showed him in front of a Donkey Kong JUNIOR machine. The caption, too, references his victory in Donkey Kong Junior. I later found another version of this story that clarified that Mr. Wiebe has, indeed, set a new record in Donkey Kong; and that last year he had set a new record in Donkey Kong Jr. At any rate, CNN dropped the barrel. . . er. . . ball again.

NON-GAME NEWS

I’m not going to quote any news for this because time is short, and you’ve all heard the facts anyway. My take: Kobe is an idiot. It doesn’t surprise me. I never held him in that high of esteem anyway. I can honestly say I’d have been more surprised if it had been Shaq.

I’m only hoping LeBron James is paying attention.

NOT-SO-DAMN-SERIOUS-NON-GAME NEWS

Kansas State women’s basketball trio to play for Team USA
By David Skretta Kansas State Collegian
MANHATTAN, Kan. — Basketball is a year-round sport for Nicole Ohlde, Laurie Koehn and Kendra Wecker.
Kansas State senior Ohlde and juniors Koehn and Wecker will represent the United States as part of two different Team USA basketball squads later this summer.
Ohlde and Wecker joined some of the top women’s college basketball players in the nation July 7 to begin training as part of the 2003 USA Basketball World Championships Team.
The team will practice until July 24 in Colorado Springs, Colo., New York and Boston before traveling to Sibenik, Croatia, July 25-Aug. 3 for the inaugural FIBA World Championships for Young Women.
This is Ohlde’s second Team USA appearance, having teamed with Koehn last summer to capture gold at the FIBA qualifier in Brazil. However, this marks the first time Wecker will compete in international play.
“It’ll be different,” Wecker said. “I’m a little nervous, not knowing how the international style is played. I think playing with Nicole, she’s been there before and has that experience, will be good for my comfort level.”
Ohlde, last year’s Big 12 Player of the Year, and Wecker, a finalist for the Wade Trophy, give Harvard University coach and Team USA assistant Kathy Delany-Smith reason to be excited.
After all, the last time she saw the duo was during a 79-69 loss in Manhattan during the first round of the NCAA tournament March 23.
“I’m thrilled to death to be on the same side this time,” Smith said. “These are two of the finest players in the country. I think Nicole is one of the most talented, versatile centers in the nation. I went up to her at trials and said, ‘Thank goodness I don’t have to try to find a way to stop you.'”
Koehn, meanwhile, will make her third appearance on Team USA as part of this year’s Pan American Games Team.
In addition to teaming with Ohlde last summer, Koehn was a part of the 2000 Women’s Junior World Qualifying Team, which also earned her a gold medal.
Koehn will join the team in Boston for a series of exhibition games July 17, including a series with the USA World Championships Team before traveling to Sancti Spiritus, Cuba, for a three-game series with the Cuban Pan American team.
They then will return to the University of South Florida to train July 26-29 before traveling Aug. 2 to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, for the Pan American Games.
“I’m really excited,” Koehn said. “It gets you excited when you realize what a special opportunity it is. I can’t wait to get going and can’t wait to get playing.”
That is, at least, until she meets her Wildcat teammates face-to-face for the first time in Boston.
“I’ve never played against Laurie,” Wecker said, “but competing will be a lot of fun. Our team against their team. Hopefully, we can just make each other better.”
While neither Wecker nor Koehn would predict an outcome, they agreed with Smith that three K-State players running the court in Boston is a testament to the success of the Wildcat program.
“What a tribute to Kansas State that they have all been chosen,” Smith said. “What a great job Deb Patterson has done out there.”
It also gives the trio a head start on the 2003-04 season, which tips off Nov. 16. Wecker said the stiff competition, both for and against their respective teams, will help the Wildcats next season.
“It’s only going to make us better. Playing with the top players in the country and just being able to be around their work ethic and their intensity and dedication, it’s going to make us all better, Wecker said.”

Nicole and I are both from Clay Center. We went to the same church there. Kendra is from Marysville. Knowing that two of the best women’s basketball players in the country came out of the North Central Kansas League is too weird for words.

Just so you know, the exploits of the NCKL Connection will make regular appearances here for at least the rest of this, Nicole’s Senior, season.

PLUGS, PIMPS, AND THANKS

Five in a row! W00t!

Hey man.

Great review. I wasnt planning on playing this game, and now I can see why.

Have you, as an avid PS2 player, noticed the trend with EA that started back in 2001?

It seems now, that all of their efforts are channeled into the EABIG line, and less and less on their sport titles, more specifically hockey, football and baseball.

I took NHL2003 back to the store no more than an hour after purchase. MVP Baseball 2003 is unplayable when the computer runs your bases for you, and more often then not, runs 2 baserunners to the same base. Im not even a huge baseball fan, but I know that you cant have to BRs on the same base. Not only that, but no matter which teams I picked for the computer and myself, I always got stomped, beaten down and destroyed by an obscene score.

Anyways, get back and let me know what you think about EA and their Sport & BIG titles.

Keep up the good review.
PS – Evil Dead rocks!!! Its f*cking hard as hell, but its awesome anyways!

Scott

Scott and I had a little discussion about the apparent change in attitude over at EA, and I’m happy to know that I’m not the only one genetically incapable of playing video game baseball. Thanks, Scott.

However, Scott isn’t the star of this show. Oh, no no no! Take it away, Mr. Dwayne:

Sorry rarely write to columns, however being an F1 fan and owning all
the F1 games so far, why are you wasting your time doing on a column on
racing games if you can’t stand them. At lest for a true F1 fan, I know
how to control the cars, I’ve done fine with F1 Career Challenge
the controller, and it deserves a much better rating, but alas, you
obviously don’t know much or watch much of the racing to understand the
sport. Please stick to games you can handle. And leave the real games
for the adults.

Dwayne.

Yes! I’m relevant! I’m striking a chord! I’m getting hate mail!!

Now, I’ve already written Dwayne back, and I’ll have you know I was very nice to him in my response. I let him know that I was evaluating it from the perspective of the”average” gamer, and that, of course, he would be more fanatical about the game because he is an admitted F1 fan. I’d love to”at lest” make fun of his spelling and grammar, but it seems even my hate mail is succinct and fairly well-spoken, at least until the last two sentences.

“Real games?” “For the adults?”

I can think of lots and lots of games that are more”real” than F1 Career Challenge. Slugbug for example. That involves the real world, real observational skills, and (when played properly) very real pain.

And games aren’t for adults. The only”adult” games I can think of are more for the freshly post-pubescent than the purely adult. “Real” games span age, time, culture, and even sometimes distance. If he wants a real game, I’d be happy to give him one:

1. e4

In the words of another famous Dwayne, just bring it. (And if you do accept the challenge, keep your paws off of Chessmaster, Fritz, or any other computer”study aid.” Be an adult, or at least as honorable as the 16-year old geniuses I watch every other weekend during the school year as I coach.)

Yes. I coach chess. I’ve already said that I’m a five-tool geek. I’m a candidate for the geek triple-crown.

By the way, what would be THE Geek Triple Crown? Send me your thoughts on this.

I’ve purposely been avoiding putting letters from other 411 writers in my letters section. Not that I’m ashamed of the praise I’ve received from my peers, just the opposite; I’m very appreciative of the warm welcome I’ve received and the constant stream of goodwill flowing from these guys. I haven’t put any of their e-mails to me in here because I don’t want 411 to sound like some sort of huge Mutual Admiration Society. The writers here deserve more than that.

However, there was a bit of tension last week after some comments from a writer at 411-Wrestling who won’t remain nameless. I briefly considered continuing the tete-a-tete here, but cooler minds (and the panicked e-mails of Chris Pankonin) prevailed, and I instead wrote the writer directly. I made my points and braced for the backlash.

>Now, I can only speak from my experience, but it’s my
>knowledge that we don’t get a lot of freebies as is.
>Also (as I’m sure you’re aware) we (at least I) don’t
>get paid for this, so the most cost effective way to
>keep fresh content up on the site is to rent console
>games for $5 a shot. If we were to regularly review
>PC games, and have any hope of beating other gaming
>sites to the punch, we’d have to dish $50 each out of
>our own pockets, for games we may or may not like.
>(Of course, we could try filesharing, but that’s a
>hit-and-miss prospect at best when looking for brand
>new games, and it’s starting to get a bit risky,
>legally.)

Games aren’t that risky. You don’t have anyone like the RIAA, MPAA, or
BSA who concentrates on them. I think that games are the safest thing
to pirate these days. That’s how I get most of
mine. Of course, there are games I will go commercial on in order to
support the company or project. For instance, I’m probably going to end
up buying a commercial copy of Shadows of
Undrentide because I enjoy Bioware’s work. I’m just pissed off at them
right now about the lack of KOTOR for the PC. Good Star Wars games are
few and far between (the last being Jedi Knight
II).

When I was reviewing games on a regular basis for Oracles War Room, my
column was called “A Pirate Looking At 40”. I told the audience
DIRECTLY that I wasn’t buying most of this stuff, and it
became part of my gaming review persona. If I said to go commercial on
something, it really meant that the game was great.

>Also, one nice thing about reviewing console games is
>that you don’t have to worry about hardware
>limitations of specific users. Every Xbox has the
>exact same hardware and runs at the exact same speed
>(in theory, at least) as every other Xbox; so if you
>rent a game and the framerate bogs down to glacial
>speed, you’re pretty sure that it will behave that way
>for every user out there. Whereas for PC one has to
>make an effort to keep their machine within a certain
>point in the technology curve, or at the very least
>acknowledge their machine’s continual descent down
>that curve (and or your own ineptitude at setting your
>hardware up correctly).

That’s why I always listed my hardware specs in each review, and I
minimized performance issue-related comments unless they were game killers
(see Ultima IX and Tomb Raider: Angel of
Darkness). Personally, I don’t care what’s in a user’s rig when I
write a review. If it runs on mine, it’s spiffy-neato. I think it’s the
only attitude to take when you write a PC game review.

>I agree that there should be some sort of PC games
>section, but the reason there’s not isn’t prejudice by
>any stretch of the imagination, it’s just pragmatism.
>If Pankonin wants to send me PC games to review, I
>will be all too happy to review them.

Believe it or not, Pankonin said that if I wanted to write some, he’d
be happy to do it. What I’d love to do is when a major cross-platformer
comes out, have specialists in each write reviews to see
how one particular game is treated on one set of hardware in comparison
to another. Madden 2004 would be the perfect program for that.

>Until then, I’m stuck going to Hollywood Video every week for my
>reviews. (And a review for HL2 would be a no-brainer
>anyway. All you’d have to do is write, “Can’t talk.
>Playing.”)

That, I think, will end up being my entire column for about a month
after it comes out.

>I *still* can’t understand why they would even want to
>put The Sims on a console (other than the obvious $$$,
>of course).

It’s a well-established fact that the brains of everyone at EA
Corporate have been removed and replaced with margarine.

>Anyway, there’s the two cents from one
>Over-20-and-Damn-Near-30 member of the 411-Games
>staff. No hard feelings.

None taken. I know the logistics of it, but the PC is my gaming
platform. I haven’t owned a console since the Atari 2600, and don’t plan to
buy one. I’d like to see our Games section pay attention
to my choice of gaming platform for once.
“¦.
>Keep up the good work.

You too. Despite the comments, I do like what you guys are doing over
there. Keep it up.

Eric

So, I guess I’m not a Moron. Chris, you can breathe again, now.

Mr. Eric Szulczewski’s (if I’m not mistaken, pronounced zul-ZEV-ski) columns are some of the most lucid wrestling/political/golf writing on the Net, and I’m not a Moron, so I shall plug him again.

Panky wants me to bring it online with NCAA 2004. His Longhorn style is no match for my Wildcat style.

Bebito wants to lick the toes of the girl in Beyond Good & Evil. It’s nice to see he’s moved past Lara Croft.

Baxley writes a review of the Animatrix that is informative, opinionated, and succinct, unlike most of the etymological circle-jerks going on the web right now over that topic. For my part, Lee, I watched Yu-Gi-Oh with my son Saturday morning. It’s a start.

Berg has shown solidarity with the Royals. He’s also a Mets fan, which is far less obnoxious than being a Yankees fan. He also brings up a possible revamp of Narc, possibly the most politically incorrect game of all time (yes, even more than GTA3 or 4. Neither of those had characters that would throw DRUG NEEDLES at you).

Watson reminds us all that Red Warrior is about to die. I spent entirely too many quarters on Gauntlet growing up, and any reference I run into leads to a cascade of adolescent jokes that we used to (er . . . right . . . USED to) make about the game. (e.g. “Red Warrior is about to Buy The Farm,” “Green Wizard is F***ing Useless.” “Blue Valkyrie Needs Bigger . . .” you get the idea.) And the idea of playing Smash TV on my PS2 or Xbox? I’d buy THAT for a dollar. Maybe even two.

Lucard has had one hell of a week. After nearly simultaneously breaking up with his fiancée and inking his third book deal; hopefully, he’s got his own hangover going on right now. Poor guy deserves some down time. Read how Triple H won’t even job in an online reader’s contest. Oh, it’s true.

Look for my reviews later this week (I promise Bebito, I’ll get them to you . . . soon!)

Until next time, get some sleep.

-Cory