Gamer’s Hangover News Report 08.11.03

Quasi-random thoughts:

When I saw “Pirates of the Carribean” I was also subjected to the trailer for “Radio,” which my friend Cris said they should just name, “Cry Me An Oscar,” because that’s the ONLY reason for its existence.

How formulaic is the typical Best Picture winner? Consider this: How many comedies have ever won Best Picture? If you count “Shakespeare in Love” the answer is two, it and “Annie Hall.” In 75 years, only two movies that could remotely be called comedies were considered the best picture produced in their respective years. As a student of probability and statistics, my only answer for that is “bullsh*t.” Moreover, the Best Picture winner isn’t just not a comedy, but is often the most depressing piece of celluloid that was produced that year. Because of this, here is a list of Best Picture winners that I don’t plan to see ever:
– The English Patient
– Schindler’s List (Apologies to Williams and Grutman, but you can’t shame me on this. My great-grandparents left Germany during World War ONE. By the time Hitler and his jack-off-boot buddies took control they were peacefully living in Wisconsin.)
– Forrest Gump (which, Veronica tells me, is almost, but not entirely, unlike the book)
– Dances With Wolves (I can think of two Kostner movies that are better offhand, and they both have to do with baseball.)
– Driving Miss Daisy
– Platoon (already saw Full Metal Jacket, and Vietnam vets I know tell me it’s the more realistic of the two.)
– Out of Africa
– Terms of Endearment (Chinatown, The Shining, Batman, all Jack movies I’d watch. Not this.)
– Ordinary People (Their son drowns. Yeah, exactly what I want to watch to relax. I’d end up banishing my son from the swimming pool until he is 21.)
– Kramer vs. Kramer (Divorce, raising a son as a single dad, and custody battles; really, who WANTS to see this movie?)
– Annie Hall (Look, I don’t care if it *is* Woody Allen AND a comedy, it shouldn’t have won. There was another movie released that year that was far, FAR more groundbreaking in terms of moviemaking. Which movie would you rather have been in: Annie Hall, or Star Wars?)
– Midnight Cowboy (If I want to see Texans in New York, I’ll watch that Snickers commercial with the Cowboys fan and Michael Strahan.)

Is it just me or is anyone else creeped out by the site of Junior Seau in a Dolphins jersey?

Wichita, Kansas may not be known for much, but it should be known for its exceptional movie theaters. We had it good before with Northrock’s digital projectors and the Warren East and West. Now we have the Warren Old Town, where you have all the leg room you could possibly want, stadium seating in every theater, and the ability to order food and ALCOHOL FROM YOUR SEAT. I’m not kidding. Plus, it’s closer to my house than any other theater in town, and is across the street from one of my favorite restaurants. I love this town.

I used to think that I was less of a gamer because I can’t hang with some of the other writers when talking about RPG games and imports. Then I realized that I’m probably the only one on the staff who cares about titles like Downhill Domination and Freaky Flyers. I probably won’t even have any trouble snagging the review spot for SSX3. It takes all kinds. I’m better now.

Scott Fujita is well on his way to becoming one of my favorite players of all time. He’s smart, he’s FAST, and his nose seems to be in every Chiefs defensive down. Plus, you can’t beat the visceral feel of screaming his name. FU-JEE-TAAAAAAAAA!!!!

The cat is a white guy, adopted by Japanese-American parents. How cool is that? His last name before was probably Thompson or Smith. Which sounds better to you: “And the quartback is sacked by #51, Scott Smith,” or “And the quarterback is sacked by #51, Scott FOO-JEE-TAAAAAAAHHH!!!” Yeah, I thought so.

NEWS

Because YOU asked for it! The first ever (almost) cut-and-paste-less Gamer’s Hangover News Report! Yes, I am affected by shame.

Force Feedback = Luke Skywalker With A Migrane
Elite Interactive is going with Immersion’s haptic system to provide force feedback for its X-Calibur and Katana controllers (Kitana”¦.WINS. Fatality.). Xbox owners who want the next generation in not-quite-realistic modeling will be able to buy the X-Calibur for $29.99. PS2 owners thinking that the Katana (“¦WINS. Babality.) might actually allow them to play F1 Career Challenge (BAD!! BAD dead horse!! *thwack!*) without a steering wheel will be proved wrong to the tune of $24.99.

Don’t tell LiquidCross — another port is on the way
Agetec is resurrecting Space Channel 5 for the PS2 with a release of the not-really-that-anticipated Space Channel 5 Special Edition this fall. If we’re going to reintroduce’ old Dreamcast titles, why not start with Crazy Taxi with the ORIGINAL VOICE TALENT?! I cannot put too fine a point on how B.D. Joe’s voice talent affected the feel of that game. The difference between the Dreamcast (that is to say, the ARCADE) and PS2 voice talent is the difference between Will Smith and the nerdy guy on “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” Those of you who know can back me up on this.

Anyway, Agetec talks about Rhythm Battles, Lyrics Battles, a 2-player co-op mode (so BOTH players can be completely off-time), “100s” of levels, and two discs worth of music. Alex Lucard could not be reached for comment. I’m sure Alex Williams is already drooling on his Dance Dance Revolution home dance pad in anticipation.

EA makes the first step into Apple-esque oblivion.
EA is moving from their modest digs in Bel Air to a new home in Playa Vista, in L.A. proper. The new Player-boy Mansion features, “a palm tree-lined entrance with Hollywood-style gates that open into a creative world, a beach volleyball court, athletic fields, fitness center, game room, large cafeteria, company store and valet parking. The campus also has access to the ocean, and is surrounded by bike and running trails through wildlife preserve.” No word on the availability of scantily-clad blondes, red bathrobes, and pipes. Hugh Hefner was also unavailable for comment.

They’ve got over 1,000 acres in the Playa Vista area where they are planning on building a 250,000 square foot “state-of-the-art” videogame studio. I’m assuming that they mean the aforementioned house of luv they described. L.A. Mayor James K. Hahn was seen creaming himself with the thought of EA being under L.A. taxes instead of Bel Air, “The hundreds of high quality jobs that will come to our city as a result of this will continue to fuel the entrepreneurial spirit that is driving our local economy.”

The L.A. Times reports that the lease (Lease? They’re not just BUYING the bloody land?) and the cost of building this den of iniquity will cost, “$100.0 million over several years.”

I wonder if EA needs any more programmers. I could sure use a backrub right now.

MTV. Music Television? No. MADDEN Television. Run and hide.
Further proof that EA is starting to believe its own press, MTV is airing a special on the creation, development, modeling, polishing, care, and feeding of Madden NFL 2004. The surprise of the announcement is that MTV is actually tying this in with MUSIC by featuring the bands providing the music for the new game: Adema, Blink 182, and Alien Ant Farm — who apparently have found a spare couple of seconds from their 15 minutes under the couch. If you’re one of the 4 people who actually get AND watch MTV2, you saw this already on August 6. For us mere mortals that only have the Original Waste Of Time, we saw it last night at 10:00 p.m., and probably at half-hour intervals for the rest of the year, between re-runs of Doggie Fizzle Televizzle.

Sega finds The Answer, forgets question.
Sega’s ESPN Basketball 2K4 is due out October 14 for the PS2 and the Xbox. Both versions will be playable online, and the big news is that they’ve got Allen Iverson on the cover. Ooooooo!

Okay, so if “The Answer” is Allen Iverson, then what is the Question? My guess: “Which NBA star can’t win a playoff series without the refs help?” That series with the Bucks back in 2001 pretty much killed whatever credibility Stern had tried to build. Of course, he beat the corpse for good measure this year with the Lakers/Kings series.

Shipping news from the only source that matters: www.ebgames.com
According to everyone’s favorite game retailer, here are ship dates for some of the more-anticipated (at least on this site) games of the pre-Christmas ’03 season:

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds — (PS2, XB, GC): 8/26
RAW 2: Ruthless Aggression — (XB): 9/15
SSX3 — (PS2): 10/14
Smackdown!: Here Comes The Pain — (PS2): 10/28
EA March Madness 2004 — (PS2, XB, GC): 11/17
Sega Sports ESPN College Basketball — (PS2, XB, GC): 11/18
Gran Turismo 4 — (PS2): 1/6/04

Current odds of GT4 getting pushed back to before Christmas are 2-1.

Okay another return by popular demand: Cory’s MST3K treatment of the news! (MST3K and Mystery Science Theater 3000 are trademarks of Best Brains, Inc. The author would like to acknowledge this as a show of good will and unadulterated fanboydom to the MST3K franchise for far, FAR too many years. I am *still* circulating the tapes, guys.)

Before I start, just a comment. Just like MST3KTM, I can’t get good commentary on just any news story placed in front of me. To be worthy of this treatment; the news story, first and foremost, must be completely BEGGING to be made fun of. The more arrogant, long-winded, and busting at the seams with hyperbole, the easier my job is. So don’t worry if a few weeks pass between these stories. I’m just insuring quality control for the Gamer’s Hangover.

To assist me today I’ve enlisted the help of my FAQ question guy, “Q:”.
Q: Don’t you mean, “Q”?
A: Don’t flatter yourself. “Q” makes some kick ass spy gadgets, and “Q” is omnipotent. You’re neither. You’re simply obnoxious, therefore you are “Q:”.
Q: Okay, but why are you suddenly “A:”?
A: Because.
Q: *grumbles*
A: Let’s begin.

“JUUUKO” ENTERS PRODUCTION – Sponsors Sought for First Nationally Distributed Video Game Series

Q: Yu-Gi-Oh needs sponsors?
A: No.
Q: Pokemon?
A: No.
Q: Reboot?
A: Okay, you watch WAY too much TV.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – SANTA MONICA, CA —

A: Right into the Pacific, where it belongs.
Q: *singing* We can stand beside the ocean . . .

August 05, 2003 — Television producers, Perception Media Group, announced today that “JUUKO”, the first nationally distributed cable television series for the hardcore video game enthusiast, has entered production.

A: Apparently, they gave up a “U” to pay for the press release.

“Juuko” is a whacked-out, entertainment news magazine-style-program about America’s new national pastime, interactive entertainment.

A: Billy was a straight-A seventh-grade student. His parents bought him Grand Theft Auto for Christmas. Now he’s on trial for 143 counts of murder. Is Rockstar Games to blame? Mike Wallace investigates.
Q: I’m Morely Safer.
A: I’m Harry Reasoner
Q: I’m Leslie Stahl.
A: I’m Ed Bradley.
Q: *raspy* I’m Batman.
A: I’m Vicky Vale.
Q: I’m Theresa Strasser
A: I’m Page Davis, and this is “Trading Spaces.”
{editors note: They watch WAY to much The Learning Channel.”}

The series features a borderline-psychotic host whose bold and occasionally incomprehensible style compliments the program’s unique, irreverent format.

Q: So we’re talking about bad acting and completely unfathomable non-sequiturs, right?
A: I doubt they mean demented sermons and random killings, unless they’re actually not kidding about the “borderline psychotic” part.
Q: Hi. I’m Charlie Manson.
A: I’m Timothy McVeigh.
Q: I’m John Gacy.
A: I’m Ted Bundy.
Q: I’m Ted Kazcynski.
A: Oooy’m Ted . . uh . . Kennedy. *gurgle*
Q: *muffled* I’m Ted Williams, and DAMN it’s cold in here!
A: I’m Ray Lewis.
Q: I’m O.J. Simpson, for the law offices of Cochran, Bailey, and Satan.
A: Mitch Holtus here, beside Hall-Of-Fame-Quarterback-Len-Dawson.
Q: This is Hyatte.

Complete with forced “HA-HA” laughter, the series carries the look and feel of a Japanese import.

A: *announcer voice* Brought to you by the Baxley/Lucard TransPacific Goodwill Association! Bringing unpronounceable game titles to American homes for 6 to 9 months.
Q: *bad overdub voice* HA-HA! You are too tall! And your shooting games are weak! Your texture-map style is no match for my cel-shaded style!
A: *other bad overdub voice* Your Godzilla movie was lame! It had no men in rubber suits! HA-HA!

Its loopy English language dubbing holds special appeal to fans of interactive gaming that enjoy wacky foreigners.

Q: Somebody was stoned and watching “MXC” when they thought this up, right?
A: *continued bad overdub voice* HA-HA! Your pathetic TV shows are no match for our twenty year old game shows!

Packed with game previews, hardware and peripheral reviews, tips, tricks, cheats and sneak peeks across all game platforms and portable devices, JUUKO is poised to be first-to-market as the only nationally televised series for gamers starring a guy named Juuko.

A: So it’s named after the “borderline psychotic?” At least it’s unique.
Q: Not really, there are lots of Juuko’s in the United States.
A: Really?
Q: Yeah. Even here in Kansas you’ve got Butler County Juuko, Barton County Juuko, Cloud County Juuko. . . .
A: Brisco County Junior. . .
Q: You just HAD to remind me, didn’t you. Now I’m going to be bummed out all day.
A: Yes, it was a good show.

Recent online surveys of gamers have found that the vast majority said they would prefer to watch programming like Juuko over programming like C-SPAN.

A: *muffled laughter* Uh, not to burst your bubble Rupert Murdoch, but most people would rather watch paint dry than C-SPAN.
Q: Or NWA:TNA.
A: Or “The Anna Nicole Show.”
Q: Or read a Scott Keith column.
A: Or read a Scott Keith book.
Q: Well, except for Prime Minister’s Questions.
A: “¦.Agreed.

“We have assembled the executive production team responsible for one of the longest running technology series on cable.

Q: We can rebuild it. We have the technology.
A: Imagine if the 6 Million Dollar man had been assembled by Microsoft.
Q: He might have been stronger, but he sure as hell wouldn’t have been faster.
A: “Uh, sir? Mr. Austin has collapsed in a puddle of his own fluids.”
Q: “DAMMIT!! I told you NOT to upgrade to XP yet! Grab those RAM chips and get his skull open!”

We’re confident about our audience niche and our team”¦we’re all gamers ourselves. For example, I personally am about to have a brain hemorrhage in anticipation of the release of HALO 2,” said Executive Producer Ike McFadden.

A: *laughing* Uh, I question the truth of his first statement.
Q: *also laughing* Oooh! What a GAMER! I’ll bet he has a t-shirt that says, “I see fragged people.”
A: He’d better get life insurance before he tries to rent it, since”¦.
Q: You STILL don’t believe HALO exists?
A: Show me something, then we’ll talk. You can’t play with a box.
Q: Speak for yourself, o married one.

“Now, all we need are a few more sponsors,” adds McFadden. “It’s a great marketing opportunity that has real potential to be a hit among gamers.”

Q: ” Xbox Live: Use It And Nobody Gets Hurt.”
A: “PlayStation2: At Least We’re Not Microsoft.”
Q: “GameCube: Buy us. Please?”
A: “Phantom: Look for us under Vaporware’ in the Yellow Pages.

Six shows are currently slated for production, covering air-time during the lead-in to the holiday shopping season. Brand integration and product placement opportunities are currently available.

A: “Welcome to the Kazaa-Lite-I-ain’t-paying-fifty-dollars-for-this PC game review!”
Q: “Boy, randomly killing audience members would be a lot harder without these Ginsu knives!”
A: Uh, can we keep from getting sued, please?
Q: It’s your nickel, not mine.

Employees of recognized interactive entertainment companies may access more information about “JUUKO”, by calling 866-258-1084 or by sending an email to mark@mediahitman.com. Please be sure to include your contact information in your email. A username and password are required to access the site.

A: Spam-blockers up!
Q: *George Takai voice* Aye, captain. Shall I ready Flamers?”¦.Captain! They’ve fired pop-ups!
A: Set Flamers to KILL, Mr. Sulu.

About Perception Media Group
The principals of Perception Media Group collectively comprise more than 50 years of experience in the entertainment industry. With a diverse portfolio of Fortune 500 clients and a track record of award-winning television and film productions that have generated multimillion-dollar profits, the team is now preparing to launch the next generation of television programming.

Q: Coming soon to ESPN2:
BOTH: MAJOR LEAGUE GAMING!!

NON-GAME NEWS

I know what you’re asking yourselves, “So, what does Cory think about the California Gubernatorial race?” Well, I don’t want to be long-winded about it, and you’ll be getting details about the cast of thousands ad nauseum for the next couple weeks, so I’ll keep it short and just give the playahs, my odds of their winning, and a very brief explanation.

Gray Davis: 10-1. Folks, when enough signatures show up to force a recall election, your ass is already in serious trouble. But being the only real DemocratTM amid a field of high-profile candidates, he may pull enough to retain.

Arnie: 3-1. He’s got a surprising amount of centrist appeal, being married into the Kennedy clan. That and he’s already using the tried-and-true Jesse Venture “I don’t need your money” campaign. Smart.

The Beautiful But Evil Arianna Huffington: 20-1. Possibly the smartest of the candidates, but also the most patently RepublicanTM. Only has a shot if Arnie gets deported.

Bill Simon: 7-1. Came THIS CLOSE to showing Davis the door last November. If the Arnie hype goes away and people vote with their brains, he should be in clean. But when did THAT ever happen?

Gary Coleman: 1000-1. Not going to campaign. Is only in as part of someone’s weird protest of the recall process. Doesn’t he realize that politicians get the girls?

Larry Flynt: 50-1. Makes sense in some sort of Californian logic, but no. Might win in a one-on-one with Coleman, but would probably pay him off with hookers anyway.

Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamente: 30-1. Bustamente is against the recall, but is perfectly willing to benefit from it by forcibly taking his boss’ job. All the Latinos better vote for him because everyone else, (especially his own party) thinks he’s a backstabbing scumbag.

Kobe Update
Kobe’s not back in court until October, we have no idea what actually happened, and everyone is going to beat this subject to death in the next few months even as NOTHING HAPPENS, so I’m officially retiring the Kobe Update. You could get far more comprehensive and annoying information elsewhere anyway.

R.I.P: Kobe Update — 7/21/03 — 8/11/03

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

Just a quickie”¦.

The 2003 University of Texas football media guide checks in at 591 pages, weighing 5 lbs. I’m guessing at least 3 pounds of that is the apology for Chris Simms.

Oh, and the other two? For Major Applewhite. (Feeling a little surly today. Let’s move on.)

PLUGS, PIMPS, AND THANKS

Rob Schuman thinks I know way more about football than I do:

Cory- I read your review on 411, and agreed with everything you had to say. I’ve been playing this franchise since 97, and this is by far the best version of the game. The biggest improvement I’ve noticed on offensive gameplay is that screen passes actually work… the linemen actually go downfield and BLOCK, and if you are good with the directional controls, you can break them for big gains, just like in real football. I coach high school football, so I really enjoy that part of the game. The computer plays lots of man to man coverage, so sending receivers and TE’s in motion can result in some favorable matchups for the offense. I also suggest finding a fast player and putting him at QB in a formation where you primarily run the option, because even if he is not a QB, speed will result in the ability to break some long runs. They are more likely to fumble or make a bad pitch than a regular QB, though. It sounds like you know something about football, especially from your comment about sitting back in a cover 3 after getting a lead. I was impressed to see that someone writing a review actually knew what a cover 3 is, since most people who review sports games, in my experience, are not too knowledgeable about sports. Anyway, good job!

In the immortal words of Kozmo Kramer: “I’m out!!!”

Rob

Actually Rob, you can thank the Football 101 feature from Madden 2003 for filling me in on some of the intricacies of play selection. Although, like most sports fans, I don’t think I’m a slouch. I can intelligibly discuss draw plays, play-action, screens, end-arounds vs. reverses, the benefits and drawback of the 4-3 vs. the 3-4, and why Eric Warfield and William Bartee should be dragged out into the street and shot.

I usually just pump up the QB speed, acceleration, and agility stats of the team I want to play anyway, unless I’m wanting a challenge that particular day.

In the interest of not getting stale, I’m replacing the quasi-chronological order I usually give my plugs in to an order based on who is the best FOOD EATING BATTLE MONKEY.

Bryan Berg is a Fruit-Eating Howler Monkey — Battle Rating: 8.7
He shows up with an interesting business plan for Nintendo, assuming they could set the wayback machine to June. Anybody in need of a Director of Marketing, read this column, then make the man an offer!

Lucard is a Purple People-Eating Cave Monkey — Battle Rating: 6.9
He educates us on more of the history of Shining Force, answers some mail, and outlines what could be a new mission for the staff of 411 Games. Vive le Lucard.

Platt is a Fish-Eating Killer Monkey — Battle Rating: 6.8
“Video game soundtracks to score to.” I love it. Speaking of; Chuck loves his Pole. Position.

Baxley is a Garlic-Eating Web Monkey — Battle Rating: 6.2
Some news, some retractions of earlier rants, some affirmations of other earlier rants, and a survey about Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles. I think it will rule, Lee. Now ask me if I’ve ever played a FF game.

Bebito is a Plastic-Eating Giant Monkey — Battle Rating: 5.6
Answers the days-old question, “No Mercy or Smackdown” and has a rather touching tribute to He-Who-Hands-Out-The-Free-Games, Chris “Hanky” Pankonin.

Williams is a Plankton-Eating Spider Monkey — Battle Rating: 4.4
He helps us cheat, therefore he is an enabler. He is also a genius, and he is the only one of us brave enough to stand up to LiquidCross (I didn’t even have the heart to see what kind of Monkey he’d be. I was afraid his avatar would reach through the screen and throttle me). Condolences can be sent to”¦.

Pankonin is a Custard-Eating Rhesus Monkey — Battle Rating: 3.9
Defends his ship, like a good captain, on 411Wrestling. This sort of behavior is why we haven’t mutinied yet.

Watson is a Tofu-Eating Capuchin Monkey — Battle Rating: 3.5
He discusses the most influential games of all time. Jeff, in my humble opinion, you should replace Super Mario Bros. with Donkey Kong as that was the ORIGINAL platform game.

Also, for those who care:
Rumor is a Brain-Eating Capuchin Monkey — Battle Rating: 7.3

And, just so you know:
Cory is a Fire-Eating Disco Monkey — Battle Rating: 8.2

Tomorrow, I’m in charge of the News board; next week, more of the same.

Until then, get some sleep.

-Cory