Gamer’s Hangover News Report 10.27.03

[Scene: 411-Games offices somewhere Midwestern U.S. Monday, October 27, 5-minutes ago Central Standard Time. Cory Laflin sits in his cubicle, polishing a review for SSX3 when Chris Pankonin approaches, looking somewhat agitated.]

Panky: Cory”¦..uh”¦”¦he wants to see you.
Cory: He Ashish or He Widro.
Panky: HE.
Cory: *stops* Oh. He. Right.

[Scene: The inner sanctum of 411-Games’ new Director of Authority: The Eggplant Wizard. He’s sitting at his desk. Cory comes in and he immediately starts in.]

EW: Cory, what the hell is with your column this week?
Cory: *sits down* What do you mean?
EW: Page 2, second paragraph”¦.you wrote a kosher joke.
Cory: *smirks* Now, I’m not sure it is”¦you may want to use citric acid on it to be safe.
EW: Cory, this is serious! Gregg Easterbrook got fired from ESPN for as much.
Cory: Easterbrook made an offensive comment and deserved what he got for being that stupid. I made a little joke about eggplants being kosher”¦.I was following Williams’ joke from Friday for goodness sake!
EW: I know, I know, but you’ve got to be careful about it!
Cory: I know, and I thought I was.
EW: And besides, you need to be extra careful since you’re”¦..you’re”¦..
Cory: I’m what, SIR? *glares*
EW: You know”¦”¦.you’re”¦”¦.*squirms*”¦..Lutheran.
Cory: GERMAN, you mean. Right, sir?
EW: Well”¦”¦you are.
Cory: Yes, my mother’s family is almost completely German. Of course, the fact that they all came over to America during World War ONE makes no difference.
EW: “¦.
Cory: Neither does the fact that I okayed that joke WITH Williams before I ever submitted it, apparently.
EW: “¦.
Cory: But the facts that I have red hair, fair skin, and believe in the principles of the Protestant Reformation make me the prime candidate for performing some sort of hate crime, doesn’t it?!
EW: Cory, you’re blowing this out of proportion.
Cory: No, I don’t think I am! And while I’m sticking my head out here for you to make a vegetable out of, there’s something I’ve always wanted to say to you!
EW: And what’s that? *touches wand menacingly*
Cory: *smirks*

Cory: *singing* Ever since I was a young boy,
I’ve played the NES.
From Contra on to Zelda,
I thought I was the best.
Then I learned my lesson,
When I played Kid Icarus.
That little purple bad guy,
[Williams, Bebito, Baxley, and Platt burst through the door, singing backup.]
All: *singing* Sure made me real-ly pissed.

[Eggplant Wizard sits at his desk, his face in his hands, shoulders shaking slightly. Whether he is laughing or crying is left up to the reader to decide. ]

All: *singing* He’s an Eggplant Wizard
There’s got to be a twist.
That Eggplant Wizard
Rarely ever missed”¦..

Note: I have never had any problems with the 411 staff over any of my jokes. Consider it projecting my personal insecurities into my work. That and I HAD to find a way to incorporate the Eggplant Wizard song. Hyatte can bite me about the music-less “song parody.” If he wants to hear me try to sing a cappella he can call me and I’ll be glad to make his eardrums bleed.

To the one person reading this that got the song: I’m really very sorry.

Quasi-random thoughts:

The Bengals are STREAKING, BABY!!

In a completely unrelated note to what’s written above, Friday is not just All Hallow’s Eve, but it is the anniversary of the day Martin Luther nailed the 95 Thesis onto the door of the Church at Wittenburg, Germany; thereby becoming the biggest pain in the ass of the Christian world since Saul of Tarsus. I encourage you to check them out here if for no other reason than for the fact that these 95 statements are responsible for most if not all Protestant Christian denominations.

I’m kicking around the idea of walking the three blocks over to Blessed Sacrament on Friday and sticking 95 post-it notes on the front door. Not to start any trouble, mind you; just because I think it’d be funny. Nailing a list of the theses to the door would be a bit much, but who can take post-its seriously, especially en masse?

Being a relative newbie to 411, I have to admit to being fascinated by the “real” Alex Lucard, as presented in last week’s Vampire Classifieds. I will never again use the term “Nosferatu” improperly.

Still, I don’t know what his problem is with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” He’s told me that he believes the show was disrespectful of vampire folklore. For someone whose only experiences with vampire lore involved Goths speaking in the “Byron-esque prose” he laments in his column, I found “Buffy” to be a fresh take on the mythos.

In fact, the folklore aspect of “Buffy” that intrigues me the most is something that isn’t talked about a whole lot within vampire fiction (that I’ve seen): What happens to a person when they become a vampire. According to the Joss-verse, when a human is turned into a vampire, his-or-her soul departs and the consciousness is replaced by that of a demon. The demon retains all of the thoughts and memories of the human (as well as certain personality traits) but is fundamentally different.

This little twist to vampire folklore enabled him to create Angel, and even Alex has to appreciate the nastiness of the curse that gave him to us. The vampire’s evil derives from it’s lack of conscience, so what better a way to hurt such a creature than to thrust a conscience upon it after it’s had 100-or-so years of gleeful killing under it’s belt.

Okay, so outside of the vampire issues, things probably strayed from the book a bit. I cite as example the loan-shark demon from the “Tabula Rosa” episode (Season 6). Some of the tertiary characters often had a Power Rangers Bad Guy vibe to them, but the Big Bad every season was always something truly scary. If Alex were to decide to give “Buffy” a taste, I’d suggest seasons 1 and 2, which are the most vampire-centric.

Tainted mythology or not, the show was excellent. It walked the line between scary and funny like few other shows have done. It was considered in certain circles the best ensemble show on T.V.

I just saw the ad for PS2’s Eye Toy. Two words: Power Glove.

The Magic Number for the Chiefs is 7, thank you Baltimore.

NEWS
Any news you read this week or have read from last week I got from GameDaily.com.

Beta Testing Lore -or- The Most Frustrating Work Dr. Noonian Sung Ever Did
Max Gaming Technologies has announced the commencing of open beta testing for its upcoming PC game Dark Horizons: Lore. They’re looking for a thousand testers to, “engage a broad player audience in testing the game,” and to satisfy other buzzword-filled mission statements. It’s a mech action game, so you Battletech fans wanting to nip it in the bud should visit their website to sign up.

A Cel-Shaded Racer? Where Is Speed Racer When You Need Him?
Capcom has decided that the Xbox really ISN’T a waste of their time, and will release a version of their game Auto Modellista, which is already available for the other NexGen systems, for it in January ’04. Also, the game will support up to eight players racing on Xbox live, and will allow gamers to trade customized cars, insuring that somebody will have a hacked car online the first day and beat absolutely everybody, killing all of the online fun in the process. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

Shockwave Goes Wal-Mart. Draw Your Own Conclusions
Shockwave.com will start selling subscription cards for its GameBlast Service at Wal-Mart stores nationwide (like Wal-Marts get any location-specific items anyway). The cards will be backed by AT&T PrePaid Web Cents and will cost $14.95 for two months or $29.95 for six months. The GameBlast service itself contains over 60 “premium” games. Looking at the website, those among those premium games are titles such as “Puny Plumber” and “Jigsaw Challenge” so draw your own conclusions.

A Mini-MST: More Mechs Make Merry
Encore, a subsidiary of Navarre Corp., has shipped its PC game Battle Engine Aquila to retail outlets around the country. – Not that anyone’s noticed.
The mech combat will put players in the role of Hawk Winter, – Blast Hardcheese, Crunch Rockgroin, Max Payne who enters the battle on the planet Allium, where rising seas have depleted useable land and caused friction between a pair of the planet’s major inhabitants. – “You put your leaves on my continent!” Gamers will pilot their mech in both ground and air battles through more than 40 missions, while armed with a host of weapons and backed by numerous allies. – Most of which will have the A.I. of your average chia-pet. A host of multiplayer modes, including Cooperative, are included, which are played split-screen on one computer monitor. – Which will ensure nobody can see anything they’re doing.
The Lost Toys-developed title will sell for approximately $30.00.

Mailing this one in because it’s late, plus it looks like it’s only PC games. As if.
Shouldn’t A Cyber X Games Tournament Feature A Tony Hawk Title?
The first annual Cyber X Games Championships, sponsored by ATI Technologies and AMD, will take place along side The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next January.
The finals will offer up a whopping $600,000 in prizes, including a $100,000 purse for first prize in the Counter-Strike bracket.
Regional qualifiers are currently under way in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, in games such as Unreal Tournament 2003, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, America’s Army, Warcraft III and the aforementioned CS.
“Forget every gaming event that has come before,” Joe Hill, president, Cyber X Gaming, said. “ATI/AMD Cyber X Games will have the best competitors, the biggest attendance and the largest prizes ever seen.”
The finals will also hold a female-only Quake III tournament.
More info is available on the organization’s website.

Microsoft Announces Custom Spyware”¦Er”¦.Content For Midtown Madness 3
Microsoft Game Studios, in yet another bid to intrude on your private life, is offering “new downloadable content” for it’s Midtown Madness 3 owners who also subscribe to Xbox Live. Well, at least they’re targeting people who’ve already given up on their privacy. Car Pack #1 is out now, with another Car Pack and two Track Packs due out in the near future. The first Track Pack will feature 20 new tracks for Washington D.C., and the second will do the same for Paris. Yawn.

More Mega Man Than God Should Allow
Capcom is planning to continue the glut with yet another Mega Man title, this one for the GBA, due out in January 2004. Mega Man Battle Chip Challenge purports to “add a new dimension to one-on-one virtual trading card games by allowing fans of the franchise to program’ select offensive and defensive moves to execute against opponents during a worldwide Battle Chip tournament.” Boy, it’s a sad day when Mega Man has to rip off Pokemon, isn’t it? The game will have three modes of play — Battle Chip GP, Free Battle, and Tournament. Players will be able to link up with a friends GBA to pretend they’re cooler than other trading card game fans.

Game Rentals, My Comments, And The Women Who Love Them
The Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA), on behalf of Home Video Essentials and Rentrak Corp., has announced a preliminary list of the top renting games for the week ending October 19, 2003. Here are the top 10:
1. Madden NFL 2004—PS2

2. NCAA Football 2004—PS2 – Now for Virginia Tech. Heh heh heh “¦.
3. Enter the Matrix—PS2 – “Crap! If I don’t finish the game, I won’t understand what Revolutions’ is all about!”
4. Freedom Fighters—PS2 – WTF?
5. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004—PS2 – I almost broke 50 once. I’m putting out an open call. Anyone reading register better than a 50 on any round?
6. Midnight Club II—PS2 – Damn if it doesn’t have a fanbase.
7. Soul Calibur II—PS2 – Feh.
8. Backyard Wrestling: Don’t Try This at Home—PS2 – DEAR SWEET LORD NO!!!! RUN AWAY!! RUN AWAY!! YOU HAVE NO IDEA THE SUCKNESS YOU TOY WITH!!!
9. ESPN NFL Football 2K4—PS2 – So is Cyber-Danny Kanell as bad as Real-Danny Kanell?
10. Simpsons: Hit & Run—PS2 – Mmmm. Hors doovers.

NON-GAME NEWS

Okay. It’s now the end of Week 8 and I don’t know how to feel. I’ve been on Cloud 9 since Week 4. I’ve been telling everybody since then that I wouldn’t care if the Chiefs lost next week, because it would still be the best start they’ve ever had. Now they’ve just set a franchise record for the longest winning streak they’ve ever had. Tony Gonzales is now the leading receiver in Chiefs history. Priest Holmes is 4 rushing TDs away from breaking the franchise record held by Marcus Allen. Dante Hall is excelling not just as a kick returner, but as a receiver. The Chiefs are assured of a .500 season, and they’ve only played .500 of the season.

Now, I’ve already had several people tell me, “That’s all right. They’ll just lose in the playoffs, anyway.” I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was afraid of that, but I’ll also admit that I’m haunted by the ghost of Marty Schottenheimer. I keep telling myself that this is Dick Vermeil. There is nothing that could stop Dick Vermeil from reaching the Super Bowl. He could even take the Rams to the Super Bowl. If he took over the Cardinals, I’d stop betting against them”¦.well”¦.in year three, at least.

It’s been five years since the Chiefs made the playoffs at all; and now, halfway through the season, they’re on the cusp of assuring themselves a place in it. You don’t understand, I belong in a fanbase that has been treated to 14 years of being just”¦not”¦quite”¦good enough. Even with arguably the greatest quarterback/running back tandem of all time wasn’t enough to get them to the Super Bowl, because of a piss-poor kicker. We’ve been through mass defections to hated rivals, playoff heartbreaks, having said hated rivals win back-to-back Super Bowls, drug arrests, and the accidental death of the defense’s leader. For the success the Chiefs had in the late 80’s-early 90’s, we (the fans) have had a rough 14 years. Never mind that we had to deal with quarterbacks like Steve Bono and Elvis Grbac. Brrrrr.

Now we’ve got an undersized halfback with a chip on his shoulder, who was never drafted but has become the best all-around back in the NFL (sorry, Marshall). We’ve got a quarterback with a chip on his shoulder, a cannon of an arm, and the toughness to lay out a Pro-Bowl linebacker to block for his running back. We’ve got a defense with a chip on their collective shoulder, determined to channel the glory days of giveaway/takeaway ratio. We’ve got a kick returner with a chip on his shoulder, trying to prove that he can be the best ever at his job. And we’ve got a kicker with a chip on his shoulder, because his main rival KEEPS COMING OUT OF RETIREMENT, DAMMIT!!

Do you realize that Morten Andersen is ten games”¦.TEN GAMES away from tying George Blanda’s record for NFL games played? The problem is that Gary Anderson is also ten games away and got picked up by Tennessee when their kicker blew out his ACL. Bastard.

All of that pain, all of the cheering and the crying and the dancing in the halls when I found out Joe Montana was going to be a Chief, all of that is worth it for right now: an eight-game win streak and the feeling that it wasn’t all in vain. It’s the same feeling I had in October 1985. It may end, it may change, and disappointment may return, but then again it might end like 1985, with a championship, and the validation of years of fandom. I don’t know what will happen in the end, but this is a ride I don’t mind taking.

This isn’t a bragging thing, although with the years of hearing Cowboy fans talk ad nauseum I think I’m entitled. What it is, is a message of hope to all of those languishing in small-market hell, or any sort of fruitless prolonged fandom. Keep the faith. Keep the faith because if you don’t, the bandwagon jumpers and the marketers and the free-agent prostitutes win for good. Keep the faith because you are the greatest fans in the world, whoever you root for.

Keep the faith, and if need be, I’ll swear you all in as Temporary Fans.

PIMP-LICIOUS

I’m not reprinting any e-mails this week, but I do have some responses to give.

First, a shout-out to Scott from Calgary, who’s been the one and only Ballbuster employee to step up to the plate and defend his evil empire.

Next, Michael in the U.K. and Betle have made comment about my affinity for the Smackdown line of games. Now, I’m not saying that the SD line is the best line of wrestling games EVER, but the best line of games out right now. No Mercy was a much better game, but there’s nothing out right now that’s better than Smackdown. The CAW mode is incredibly deep, and they hit a home run last year with the career mode. With an improved submissions engine and few other fixes, the game could really begin distinguishing itself from its competitors; although since all of them are distributed by THQ, I doubt any single one will get much better than the others. Actually, THE best wrestling game out right now is EA Big’s Def Jam Vendetta. Now if they’ll only tackle NWA:TNA”¦..*drool*.

Pimp Coat: Williams, for double duty this week.
So when comparing the two launch weeks, the GBA outsold the N-Gage by 108 times the amount. 108 TIMES!!! Excuse me for a second while I clean the laughter drool from my keyboard.

Pimp Stick: Berg, for his hard-hitting analysis of the N-Gage’s problems.
Nobody had any reason to want an N-Gage. Nobody HAS any reason to want an N-Gage. It’s not that the public won’t support a second handheld device; the PSP is pretty hotly anticipated and will do very well next year. The N-Gage just got it all wrong.

Pimp Boots: Lee
The total sales were less than 5000 units, which is very poor, especially when considering the fact that Atari’s Jaguar sold more units in New York alone in its first week. Hell, they only sold 500 in the UK!

This Week’s Ho Train:
Fred has an interesting take on the gaming world and nostalgia. “Grampa, did you ever play Pong?”

Chuck speaks very highly of reissues. Personally, I’m waiting for the Zelda compilation disc before I buy my GameCube.

Misha is a MAN, baby!

LiquidCross talks monkeys in what’s probably his least angry column yet. He still gets in a monkey poo joke in, so no worries, folks.

Lucard, who brings the Vampire goodness for your pre-Halloween preparations.

Next week, maybe getting this in on time, owing to the Chiefs’ bye week.

Until then, get some sleep.

-Cory