Gamer’s Hangover News Report 11.24.03

Gamer’s Hangover – November 24
By Cory Laflin

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Writing this from my wife’s PDA inside our car either going to or coming back from Oklahoma City. It’s cold as hell and I’m trying to type and account for lateral g-forces at the same time. I may leave all of the typos in from this, just to prove how good of a typer I really am, not that anyone would notice.

QUASI-RANDOM THOUGHTS

My fingers are cold.

Valley Center Chess update: After 2 and a half years of not having anybody finish any better than 4 wins, me and the club sponsor offered a $50 bounty to the first team member to go 5-1 (scholastic chess tournaments typically run six rounds). The very next tournament (last weekend) Trenton, one of my Juniors, got to collect.

I had one of those little victories on Friday night. It was late, and I logged in to Yahoo while I was at my computer, working on my Master’s project. I have the whole personalized Yahoo page ting and part of that is a little box that tracks scores for all of my favorite teams. Well, Friday night was the start of NCAA basketball season, and I have 8 teams that I track there (Wichita State men’s and women’s, Kansas State men’s and women’s, KU men’s, NC State men’s [my brother’s alma mater], College of Charleston men’s [my friend Guy’s alma mater], and Valparaiso men’s [overachieving Lutheran college]). They all played Friday night and I discovered that they all won … except for Wichita State women’s. Ah well.

Zookeeper quote of the week: “Everybody wants to pet the furries, but they’ll take your thumb off.”

Call me a bad fan, but I missed the game completely today. I don’t think I could’ve taken the thrill ride anyway. Thank you Dwayne Rudd “¦ er “¦ Phillip Buchanon. And, thanks to our good friends the Cincinnati Bengals spreading the joy around the AFC West, the Chiefs can clinch the AFC West next week if they win and San Diego and Denver loses to the Raiders. Clinch. In NOVEMBER. Somebody pinch me.

Speaking of pinching, the Shox are 2-0 after beating LaSalle on Friday night and Hampton on Sunday. Their next game is next Saturday night against Northern Arizona. That’s the first home game of the season, so my goal is to get all of this Masters nonsense finished by Friday night so I can A. Attend the game, and B. Finally play my new GameCube.

NEWS

JUST When I Get All Three Systems

More anecdotal proof that I control the ebb and flow of game development. Obviously sensing that they’ve gotten as much money from me as they’re going to with the current systems (…cough….WRONG…cough) the Big Three console manufacturers have all announced new products within the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you anything more about it because my sources “¦ ALL of them “¦ are down right now. I’m serious, they’re ALL down. This sucks. I’m busting my ass, averaging about 4 hours of sleep a night trying to get my Masters done on top of work, my family, this, and everything else, and I can’t even get the news in. Ugh. Pathetic. Okay, let’s see what I can remember. Well, there we all remember Nintendo’s big “new hardware that doesn’t replace existing hardware” announcement. Microsoft has announced Xbox2, and has said that Intel is going to do the processor and sod off backwards compatibility with Xbox1. They’re also talking about showing something at the Game Developers Conference in San Jose next year. Sony has announced that some sort of PS3 prototype will be “at” E3. Whether that means static, playable, or full-up remains to be seen. Still the next year will be very, very interesting for all of us.

That’s it, really. The rest are game announcements and 3rd quarter results. Not that I can get to them anyway. Hmmmmmm. Need column filler”¦”¦

COMMENTARY

I actually had a new ESPN Gamer article to rip to shreds, but it’s at home and I’m on the road, so it’ll have to wait until next week.

Every once in a while, I just get the feeling that every game has already been done. I’m sure you’ve gotten that feeling yourselves from time to time, but when your …. job? … hobby? … whatever it is that I have here requires you to write about games every week it can get pretty difficult to shake those feelings away.

Part of it is the need to categorize (to some degree) every game that you write about. Platformer. Shooter. First-person shooter. RPG. Sports. Racing. Etc. Everything, if you try hard enough, will fit into a genre and when you specialize in a particular genre, you begin to notice the similarities between games more than the differences.

Here at 411Games, my genres of assignment are Sports and Racing, and if there were two genres that breed monotony, those are they. Sports because every game released is just an updated version of an earlier game, and racing because they all suck. No, wait, I mistyped. Damn this car ride. Racing because it’s so easy to half-ass and let suck, and there are far more racing games out there that do that than there are ones that get it right. Have you ever a bad racing game? There is nothing as frustrating as a truly bad racing game. My personal favorite is when there’s a complete disconnect between your car’s handling and anything you do with the controls. And this can go both ways. Within the last year I’ve played games where steering is a esoteric concept at best (Hot Wheels) and games where they’ve tried to get the handling so realistic that the realities of the game controller itself become a limitation: a.k.a. Digital Steering (F1 Career Challenge).

Christmas gets especially bad because a lot of new games that should have another few months of development get rushed out the door to sell at $49.99 to suckers like me. This applies mostly to racing games. Sports games, like I said before, are basically the same crap year after year. I own Madden 2003, and I’m sorry but the Owner Mode did not convince me that I should also own Madden 2004. If the Chiefs win it all (knock on wood) then I’ll probably buy Madden 2005 just out of unfettered fandom.

So, within all of this cynicism and crap, I almost lose the desire to play anything. Almost, because every year, SOMEBODY seems to step up to the plate and deliver something fresh and innovative. It’s almost like all of the video game developers get together and say, “Okay, I know everybody here has these awesome ideas, but we can only have one real innovation this year. Who’s turn is it in the rotation?” This year it was Sega Sports, or the artist formerly known as Sega Sports, for ESPN NFL Football. If you need any indication as to how well they did the First Person Football feature, notice that the game won Game of the Month from us for September. This despite the fact that the only real sports gamers on the site are myself, Berg, and Pankonin (although Vinny Mac there may have a little more stroke than me or Trips, fo shizzle). Lucard and Bebito tallied the votes almost as many ways as was possible, stopping just short of “Miami-Dade Seven Card Stud” and ESPN STILL beat out “¦ that “¦ other RPG-y game that they were all ga-ga over. (Just to get a peek as to how my bizarre mind works, I’m going to have the sound of the late, great Freddie Mercury in my head all day now, singing “All we hear is “¦ Dis-ga-ea-ga-ga “¦ Dis-ga-ea-goo-goo “¦ Dis-ga-ea-ga-ga “¦” I am one sick individual.)

A couple of years ago it was Grand Theft Auto 3, and we had (and still have) to weather a shitstorm of bitching from parents groups and other censoring motherf*ckers (no pun intended) for that game. This despite the fact that it, and every game sold in this country today has a ESRB RATING ON THE FRONT OF THE DAMN BOX!! Okay, that game may have spawned a lot of rip-offs, but it also clued people “¦ gamers AND other developers “¦ into what was possible on the NexGen systems, and we are still reaping the benefits.

The point of all of this rambling, when everything starts to look the same, when you get tired of playing the same games over and over, don’t worry. Just look. There is SOMETHING out there that will impress you. Sometimes all you have to do is stop and listen for the buzz. You know the buzz. It’s the one that always precedes a media frenzy, and then a parento-political backlash. Remember: Nothing that’s already been done is controversial. If there’s a big stink about it, it’s certainly new.

Of course, kids, obey your parents. Most of you only have a couple more years until you’re out to college and can buy your own damn games anyway.

MALE

1. Talk about lesbian porn.
2. ???
3. Get Mail!

Oy. I’m talking about the wrong stuff. Maybe I need to talk to Lucard or Baxley about getting some of the better Hentai games so I can actually connect the sex talk back to video games.

First up is Mark, with what are some apparently widely-held beliefs about porn:

I think that’s how the joke goes:

What’s better than one woman?
Two women
What’s better than two women?”¦three women.
What’s better than three woman? – when they inevitably answer four women’ you say; “WRONG, there’s nothing better than 4 women!

I think the reality is that most guys really don’t have the energy to satisfy two or more woman, not that we wouldn’t die trying.

A lot of my friends have had similar discussions with their prospective partners on the whole porn fascination/obsession. The way I explained it to my girlfriend is this (excuse my broad sweeping gender generalisations):

Women have the biological impetus to nest, bear children and fantasize about elaborate wedding ceremonies. A mans biological imperative is to impregnate as many females as possible with his seed thus ensuring the perpetuation of the species. Not all men are cheating bastards, but you can’t deny a few million years of evolution. Porn is a means of vicariously satisfying this urge without actually committing acts of adultery.

I think this is the nicest way of implying that you can either be left to your porn vices or deny them and risk the urges manifesting themselves as regrettable infidelity on the photocopier at the next work Christmas party.

Admittedly, my girlfriend wasn’t too comforted by this explanation, but I haven’t done anything wrong and I’ll be damned if I’m giving up my porn to alleviate her insecurities.

I have to say my porn watching has been reduced to dangerously low levels since I got Tiger woods PGA 2004 on my xbox. I think the last time I was this addicted to a game is a toss up between Halo and The original Tony Hawk. I’ve never even played golf…but am currently thinking about purchasing a set of clubs — That’s cross consumerism!

So far this year from my top 5 purchases, three of which are EA sports titles; Tiger Woods, Madden 2004 and FIFA 2004. (I am yet try NHL 2004).

Why is it that (apart from a few callous acts of commercialism) that EA puts forth such consistent quality, yet tried and true formulas fail so miserably elsewhere”¦Raw2 and Amped2 I’m looking in your direction.

The Xbox info is a little thin on the ground at 411, is there no demand or do you just not have anyone to review this stuff?

Sorry about the long winded response, I always enjoy your column, keep up the good work.

Cheers,

Strangely enough, that’s what I was doing instead of watching the Chiefs game. Playing TW2004, I mean. Found out my wife’s uncle is a gamer, and fairly hardcore one for 53. I still whipped his ass all over St. Andrews and Bethpage Black, and I was using a brand new, un-pumped created character.

For the love of God Himself do NOT buy golf clubs just because you are good at TW2004. I’m tellin’ ya as a man that’s made the mistakes. If you really want to try golf, go to a good driving range, get a few rental clubs and remove some of that rose-coloring from your eyes with the brutal realities of how well you strike a golf ball. It’s a hell of a lot less embarrassing and cheaper than paying $300 for what becomes a land-to-sea projectile by the 7th hole.

As for the porn theory, I agree with that general idea, although the proper use of porn is like the proper use of anything else, you have to know how to control it. I’ve seen some people get pretty f*cked up on porn and start having WAY too “¦ uh “¦ “high?” of expectations of their lovers. Just like booze and ganja, a proper mindset is essential for the effective, innocuous use of porn. Porn is NOT reality. If porn was reality, you wouldn’t have to read porn.

Mr. Toofanian, I am filled with shame yet again. Do I need to start fact checking my MST3K quotes? I don’t even fact check my NEWS, let alone my pop culture references. Who do I look like, Dennis Miller?

PIMP-LICIOUS

Cripes, everybody’s messed up around here this week. Of course, most of us are college students (one way or another) so go fig.

Pimp Coat: Berg. Because he’s the shizzle.

Pimp Stick: Szulczewski. Because he pimped me last week, and he kicks ass (Eric, you know I’m conservative and even DEAN is starting to look good to me. And who would be surprised if Dick Cheney started appearing in public in the Darth Sidious robe?).

Pimp Boots: A-Will, twice. Lee. Misha. L.C.. . We ALL in the Nite Ridah this week, mad phat props to H-Dogg.

Oh, and check out Matt Nute and his absolutely fascinating column devoted to wrestling finishing moves, The Finish Line. He’ll probably have a new one up by the time this gets up, but I’m linking to last week’s anyway. Know your role.

Next week, either I’ll be done with my Masters project and you’ll get a kick ass column, or I won’t be and you’ll still get a kick-ass column (there’s some ESPN Gamer goodness I’m letting simmer for Thanksgiving dinner. And if I can get Cris over here, maybe I’ll do that “Super Troopers”-themed column I’ve been yammering about. Or maybe I’ll go retro. I haven’t watched “Big Trouble in Little China” for a while.

Until then, get your term papers done, then play Mario Kart till your eyeballs bleed.

THEN get some sleep.

-Cory