Thank God It’s Thursday News Report 07.31.03

Hey all. You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for the latest video game news. I’m Bryan Berg, and I think Nabisco made a huge mistake by changing the Chewy Chips Ahoy Stay-Fresh mechanism from the trusty bar-that-usually-breaks-off contraption to the ridiculous long-piece-of-tape device. Thank God It’s Thursday!

This week, I’ve received a number of e-mails calling me out on my stance that I took last week on Nintendo. Particularly, my statement that Nintendo “sucks”. Now, I didn’t want to give anybody the impression that I actually believe that Nintendo sucks. The comment was meant to refer to the example I made light of, not Nintendo. In fact, I think Nintendo is a great company. That’s why I wrote the piece in the first place.

The e-mails I received all pointed out that the GameCube is indeed worth more than I gave it credit for, which is absolutely true. But the point of the commentary was simply to show not only that the GameCube isn’t able to sell on its own, but also how desperate Nintendo is getting and how bad Nintendo is making itself look. If Nintendo has to include the Game Boy Player to make a sale of the GameCube, isn’t that a really bad sign? It makes you wonder what’s really selling the system.

On the other hand, you have the Game Boy Advance that comes with NOTHING, yet you might have a hard time finding an SP in stock. What does this tell us? Hardware sells itself – not games, not even other hardware. In the end, it’s the system that keeps bringing us back, not the freebies you get up front.

And to close, here’s one thing that all the e-mailers agreed with me on – if Super Mario Sunshine was available at the time of the GameCube’s launch, the topic of the GC’s demise wouldn’t even be fathomable.

Oh, and by the way, sorry half of last week’s column was in italics. I missed an HTML tag. I’m a moron. Sorry about that.

It’s been kind of a light news week, but there’s still much to talk about. So let’s dig in!


Maxx Payne
You’ve most likely heard this story by now, either through 411’s newsboard, Lee’s report, or some other means. But this is a microcosm of one of society’s greatest problems.

Do you remember Maxx Payne, the wrestler? I didn’t think so. Well, he’s suing Rockstar games over their game, Max Payne. There’s so much wrong with this lawsuit, so let’s go through each point.

First of all, it’s a name. I’m sure there are people out there named Max Payne. It happens. If some company decided to put a character named Bryan Berg into a game, I think I’d be pretty okay with that. Maxx Payne, the wrestler, is upset because he feels that Rockstar stole his creation. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. Does it really matter? No, because nobody remembers Maxx Payne from WCW.

Secondly, you can always tell a frivolous lawsuit by the amount of time that passes between the offense and the lawsuit. Max Payne is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a new game. Yet, the suit is just being filed now. Doesn’t this seem a little odd? If he was so upset about this, why didn’t he act immediately?

Let’s compare this to the current lawsuit topic du jour, the Kobe Bryant case. While the accuser is having her character attacked in the form of overdoses and suicide attempts being made public, she does have one thing going for her – the promptness of the charges. This happened about a month ago, and it’s already public knowledge. The lack of waiting time says something about her case. Now, look at Maxx Payne, the former WCW wrestler. He makes his claims when the game has been out for a very long time. Who are you going to believe more – the person who is wronged and speaks out immediately, or the person who’s wronged and waits 20 months?

This suit will go the way of many other similar cases – Maxx Payne will get a decent sum of money from Rockstar to shut up, despite not really deserving a dime. Payne calls this “the biggest fight of my life”. If a frivolous lawsuit like this over a game that’s been out for almost two years is Maxx Payne’s biggest fight, he’s had one heck of a great life.

Madden 2004
Years from now, you’ll be sitting at the bar with your buddies, discussing sports trivia, and you’ll be asked the following question:

What was the first video game to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

The answer – John Madden Football 2004. This Sunday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, will be unveiling Madden 2004, along with a display commemorating the entire Madden series. This means that visitors to the Hall in the next week or two will not only be the first to see this display, but they’ll also get to play Madden 2004 before anybody else.

It’s hard to say who’s done more for the NFL in the past ten years – John Madden Football or the NFL. Nonetheless, the two have worked together to make each other the top dog in their respective categories. Madden’s football series is probably the most recognized video game franchise in America, while the NFL is inching closer to taking away the “America’s pastime” moniker away from baseball.

Did anybody think this was possible? A video game that’s so important that it’s immortalized in a legitimate Hall of Fame? It’s a testament to the consistent quality of the Madden series (and the NFL) that this honor is being bestowed on the franchise. John Madden Football is a pop culture icon, and is very much deserving of this. How many people out there have systems just so they can play their sports games every year? Quite a few, I’d wager. Madden Football is responsible for this. Give EA and Madden credit for increasing the profile of the NFL, John Madden, and video games in general – they’ve done more than anybody realizes.

NHL 2K4
Tradition is about to be broken in this week’s TGIT. Get out your calendars, people, and mark this down – I’m about to say something good about Sega/ESPN.

The game that will be released as ESPN NHL Hockey already has one advantage over EA’s NHL 2004 – the very extensive announcing talents of Gary Thorne. Now, they’ve added another new feature that hockey fans have been clamoring for since EA’s heyday on the Genesis.

ESPN NHL Hockey will feature a skills competition, similar to the competition seen the night before the All-Star game. ESPN’s version will feature puck control, hardest shot, accuracy, and one category called “Relay”, and I can’t remember what the relay consists of. I’m pretty sure it’s the one where one team has a breakaway, then the other team immediately after, and that repeats for five or so shooters.

In any event, this is exactly what Sega needed – adding something we’ve always wanted to a game that was hands-down the winner of last year’s competition with NHL 2003. Now, Sega just needs to make sure that ESPN NHL Hockey comes out around the time of NHL 2004. By then, people will realize that the ESPN series is the old Sega 2K series with a different name, so that hurdle will be cleared. And if that happens, it should be very interesting to see the sales figures for this year’s hockey games, especially if EA mails it again like they did last year.

Another thing about Sega – they’re evidently putting the “2K4” on the bottom right corner of the front covers of the ESPN series games. That’s a good idea to ease in gamers who don’t know about the name change.


Plugs
Gold
Bebito Jackson – 411 Games Rumor Down-Lo. Evidently, Bebito is a household name!
I was beginning to think that EVERYONE on the planet agreed with everything I had to say. Even though they should, but a differing viewpoint was refreshing.

Silver
Chuck Platt – A Thumb To The Eye. It’s so great to see someone write about GOOD things involving gaming.
Seriously, there are so many reasons to be happy about the state of gaming, I’m having a hard time being prissy about anything.

Bronze
Alex Lucard – Retrograding Weekend News/Retrograding Mailbag. Alex Lucard has the most interesting personal life of anybody I’ve ever known.
As great as I think the GBA is, don’t ever buy one, or any system. Or any game for that matter if you DON’T HAVE THE FUNDS! Food, clothes, rent, and necessities all come before some cheap electronic entertainment.

Best of the Rest
Lee Baxley – Hump Day Otaku News Report. He got the name right this week!
Now if only Nintendo wouldn’t give them bullshit like Mario Golf and Mario Tennis, then maybe they can make some good games! Preferably for the GameCube.

Rest of the Best
Cory Laflin – Gamer’s Hangover. Cory will like my NFL picks, I think…
The first rule in ANY animal’s mind is self-preservation. If it’s me or the cow, f*** the cow.

Jeff Watson – Friday’s Slice O’ News. Happy belated birthday to Jeff! Read his column!
Just because you license someone to “star” in a game, doesn’t mean you can make a good game. Wake up!

Polecat – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. People like Star Wars a lot. I don’t.
All in all, despite it’s flaws, this is one game no RPG enthusiast should be without, and no Star Wars fan should be without.

James Renick – Charlie’s Angels. Another summer movie-to-game transition. Sounds like it didn’t suck too badly.
It’s a great rental that I will definitely pick up once it hits the “$9.99 Previously Played bin” at Blockbuster.

Alex Lucard – Space Channel 5. Alex should be thankful that his freebie WAS ACTUALLY IN THE PACKAGE.
I’m so scared from this port that I’d rather contract Chlamydia than do this review.

Alex Williams – Wario World. Wario, evil laugh intact, hits the Cube.
Overall, this is a game that I would like to see a sequel to, but one with an improved length, and maybe starting at a cheaper price.

Alex Williams – Wario Ware, Inc.: Mega Microgame$. This game RULES.
There’s so much variety here, and so much this cart blatantly rips off, that you will feel nostalgic at some point.

Michael O’Reilly – Naval Ops: Warship Gunner. Wow, there was a movie called “The Final Countdown”? Was the Europe song in the movie?
The game is, however, a blast to play when you are in the mood to blow stuff up.

Non-411 Games Link of the Week
If you’re a baseball fan in New York, you’ve been privy to the great announcing of Ralph Kiner for many years. With Bob Murphy announcing his retirement as Mets broadcaster this week, one can only imagine that Ralph’s not too far behind. As a service to those who haven’t gotten the opportunity to hear Mr. Kiner at his finest (and those who have), I would like you all to read this compilation of his best quotes. And yes, he really did say these things.

And I just received this link from Ian X, who encouraged me to check out FireLayden.com. This site is great! Check out the Picture of the Day from Wednesday for further proof of this. Definitely a must-visit!

CD of the Week
OK, I think I’ve exhausted a good portion of my CD collection (or at least the part I actually listen to) doing this segment. Today, I’d like to try something new – The Top 19.

Instead of choosing just one CD, I’ll pick 19 essential tracks by a given artist that encompass said artist’s career as well as provide a good starting point for those who aren’t familiar with the music. Why 19? It’s my hockey number, my lucky number, my everything number! So it deserves mention somewhere in TGIT.

Without further adieu, the first subject of The Top 19… Bad Religion.
– We’re Only Gonna Die
– Along the Way
– You Are The Government
– Do What You Want
– Automatic Man
– I Want to Conquer the World
– You
– Anesthesia
– God Song
– 21st Century Digital Boy
– Walk Away
– Generator
– The Answer
– Atomic Garden
– American Jesus
– Stranger Than Fiction
– Infected
– Cease
– The Defense

The next Top 19 will be paying tribute to The Beatles. That could be a tough one.


Commentary of the Week
I would like to open this week’s Commentary with a little piece about my comrades in the 411 Kliq (yes, it really does exist). It took me less time to pound down my #2 plain, Supersized with a Coke from McDonalds than it took to read the 26 e-mails from the other guys waiting for me in my Inbox when I got home after work (and I left early, too). You guys rule so much.

So Bob Hope died this week – that sucks. But watch how he’s been honored and will be honored. If you read the TGIT where I talked about Katharine Hepburn dying, and you saw where I was coming from, you can see the differences in the two. Bob Hope was already honored recently when he turned 100, whereas Hepburn never had that opportunity. Watch how this whole scenario unfolds, and I think you’ll see that Hepburn received more posthumous accolades.

Anyway. I may as well do my NFL Preview right now, with nothing else really to say about anything else. When you look back at this in December, realize that these picks are being made before the holdouts signed, before the star players went down in training camp, and before the surprises were uncovered. The beautiful thing about the NFL is that every year, a team that has been good does bad, and a team that has been bad becomes really good. Who will these teams be this year? Let’s find out.

AFC East
1)Miami (11-5) – They’ve got something to prove following last year’s December swoon.
2)Jets (10-6) – The Jets need to avoid their perennial slow start. If they do, they’ll be playing in January.
3)Buffalo (8-8) – They’re ALMOST there… but not quite.
4)New England (8-8) – Tom Brady’s return to form is the key to the Pats’ season. And it might not happen.

AFC Central
1)Cleveland (10-6) – The sooner they pick a starting QB, the better off Cleveland is.
2)Pittsburgh (10-6) – How on Earth is Tommy Maddox making less money than his backup?
3)Cincinnati (7-9) – These guys could do a LOT of damage with their last-place schedule, new coach, and new QB.
4)Baltimore (5-11) – They were in the Super Bowl how long ago?

AFC South
1)Tennessee (12-4) – If Air McNair stays healthy, watch out.
2)Indianapolis (9-7) – Just in case you didn’t know – the Colts will never win anything with Peyton Manning at QB.
3)Jacksonville (6-10) – They have decent enough players, but they can’t put it together. That, and there’s a bad omen already with 2 linemen going down during camp.
4)Houston (6-10) – Sooner or later, David Carr is going to be very seriously hurt.

AFC West
1)Denver (11-5) – Now, we get to see what the Broncos can do with a real quarterback.
2)Kansas City (10-6) – Priest Holmes will be okay, but what about their defense?
3)Oakland (9-7) – They couldn’t get it done last year. They definitely won’t this year.
4)San Diego (8-8) – Even though they won’t go anywhere, look for Drew Brees to have a breakout year.

AFC Wild Cards: New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs

NFC East
1)Philadelphia (13-3) – Can anybody stop McNabb when he’s healthy?
2)Giants (11-5) – These guys just get it done every year, and this year will be no different.
3)Washington (9-7) – The Redskins have tried raiding other teams’ talent in the past. It didn’t work then, either.
4)Dallas (8-8) – The Tuna gives the team three wins, the rest of the guys will have trouble getting the other 5.

NFC Central
1)Green Bay (12-4) – No reason why they shouldn’t dominate again.
2)Chicago (9-7) – Remember, they played 16 road games last year. Look for Da Bears to make a huge improvement.
3)Minnesota (6-10) – With Michael Bennett out for a significant time period, Minnesota’s chances are very small.
4)Detroit (5-11) – They can’t be worse than last year, can they?

NFC South
1)Tampa Bay (11-5) – Their defensive prowess gives the offense time to get itself together, which is a good thing for the defending Champs.
2)Atlanta (11-5) – Imagine how good Vick will be with someone to throw to.
3)New Orleans (10-6) – This may be the year that New Orleans doesn’t blow it in December. But probably not.
4)Carolina (8-8) – If Carolina can get an offense to go with their stellar D, they might contend this year.

NFC West
1)San Francisco (11-5) – Losing Mariucci will hurt, but they’ll still win the division.
2)St. Louis (9-7) – Mark my words – Marc Bulger will be the starter at the end of the year.
3)Seattle (9-7) – Seattle looks like it’s just about ready to reach the next level. Next year.
4)Arizona (4-12) – Even with Emmitt, they still suck.

NFC Wild Cards: New York Football Giants, Atlanta Falcons

It doesn’t need to be said, but these picks are made without the pro-Jets/anti-Miami/anti-Washington bias that I’d love to incorporate. Will the predictions be accurate? Probably not, but you never know. When I made my preseason picks before the 1996 season, I picked Green Bay to beat New England in the Super Bowl by 14 points. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly what happened. On Super Bowl Sunday, I found out that my Dad picked the EXACT SAME THING before the season as well. As for this year, we’ll cover the playoffs and Super Bowl a little later, when they’ve actually played a preseason game (and a regular season game, and a playoff game, too).


Bye
Well, that wraps up this week’s edition. Hope it was an enjoyable read for all of you. Have a great week, enjoy the other guys, and I’ll see you next week. Thanks for reading.