Gamer’s Hangover News Report 01.12.04

Quasi-Random Thoughts

11:34 p.m., Monday, January 5, 2004: The time when the bathroom sink became operational, thus restoring full functionality to the ground floor bathroom at Chez Laflin.

Oh, I still have some tiles to reset, but I’ve convinced Roni to join me on a little trip into denial for a while.

I think I say this every year, but the Royals? Making free agent deals? Am I living in Bizarro world?

In that vein, I want to take this time to officially remove Royals General Manager Allard Baird from my blacklist. Al, you’ve done a hell of a job, and it looks like you’re still at it. I’m sorry that you had to carry the stigma of Herk Robinson (heretofore to be referred to as “The Bastard”) but us Royals fans have grown accustomed to a lobotomized and impotent front office.

Still, you couldn’t keep Ibanez? I know, I know. You picked up Santiago, Gonzalez, and a six-pack of White Sox players for what it would’ve cost to keep Raul around. He was still the breakout star of last year, so in the spirit of Jermaine Dye, Johnny Damon, and David Cone, I gotta say it.

Wow. Gonzalez, Santiago, Sweeney, Randa, Berroa “¦. And the Ape is back! Appier has come home! Let’s say that MacDougal calms down and gets a handle on his control (yeah, he got a bit wild in the second half of last season, but which of YOU people have whiffed Barry Bonds? I didn’t think so.), the new middle relief crew can actually hold a lead til the seventh-inning stretch, and Sweeney stays healthy “¦ combined with the exodus from the White Sox “¦ might be a good summer in K.C.

Then again, these ARE the Royals. I’m a lifelong Royals fan, but I’m not stupid.

Speaking of disappointment”¦

I can’t remember the last time I saw the Chiefs with a bump-and-run defense; a near necessity to make a blitz effective. Of course, I’ve seen many MANY blitzes out of the Chiefs the last three years “¦ usually on the plays that the other team scores.

Before I get to the obvious end to this line of thinking, I need to point out:

– Johnnie Morton should be fined if not fired for his dropped balls.
– Tony Gonzalez did not push off.
– The Colts committed quite a few false starts, none of which were called.

But the point is that the Chiefs scored 31 points “¦ and lost. It was the exact same defense as last year “¦ you know “¦ when they went 8-8. I didn’t see man coverage once. Not once. Eric Warfield continued his long-standing tradition of lining up 10 yards off of the receiver he’s supposed to guard. A quick check of a Chiefs message board after the game yielded the fact that there were already three whole pages of messages under the subject “Fire Greg Robinson.” The offense is exactly where it’s supposed to be. The defense isn’t just terrible, it’s non-existent. A lot of the fans that I’ve read are blaming the players. Bullshit. The players can only do as well as their system. There are a couple of soft starters, but I refuse to believe that all 11 starters are that uniformly terrible. Even if they are, isn’t it the responsibility of the defensive coordinator to try to make things as good as possible with the personnel they have?

Face it. It’s Greg Robinson’s fault. If he’s not fired this offseason, I’ll be very surprised. I’m even toying with the idea of boycotting the Chiefs next season if they don’t fire him. I’m serious. I’m tired of watching the Chiefs score 30 points and lose.

And the Shockers lost in the Valley again. This sucks.

So I’m pretty much ruined for this week. If I get a little obsessive about the Chiefs loss for a bit, please forgive me. It wasn’t that long ago that they were 9-0 and a lock for the Super Bowl. That same team didn’t even make the AFC championship game and it’s all Greg Robinson’s fault. I really can’t put too fine a point on it. No matter how poorly the players are, they’re still NFL-caliber players; given a good system, they’ll succeed, and they haven’t had a good system. I’m sorry, but that’s how I see it.

NEWS

What I Should Have Done Sunday Afternoon — Yes, I’m Bitter
credit: Gamedaily.com
Home Video Essentials, a product of Rentrak Corporation, has released a preliminary list of the top renting videogames for the week ending January 4, 2004.
Here are the top 10:
1. Need for Speed: Underground—PS2
– WTF?
2. True Crime: Streets of L.A.—PS2 – Maybe I can bust Sebastian Janikowski.
3. Tony Hawk’s Underground—PS2 – a.k.a. where Johnnie Morton should run to before an angry K.C. mob finds him.
4. Medal of Honor: Rising Sun—PS2 – The ray of hope: All offensive starters return next year.
5. SOCOM II: U.S. Navy Seals—PS2 – Search and Destroy: Chiefs Secondary
6. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2—PS2 – I’m starting to regret buying a Scott Fujita jersey.
7. Manhunt—PS2 – a.k.a. The Search For A Defensive Coordinator.
8. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King—PS2 – Note that if the Pats win again, I’m putting them in the same category as the Cowboys and the Broncos. That is, I will hate them.
9. Madden NFL 2004—PS2 – F***in’ Colts.
10. The Sims: Bustin’ Out—PS2 – Apparently what Peyton Manning is doing. Woo-friggin’-hoo.

Exclusivity Survives After All — or — Nintendo Has Good Lawyers
credit: Spong.com
Well, Capcom’s weighed in on the whole exclusivity issue with the upcoming Resident Evil 4. Apparently they’re sticking by their guns that the game will be GameCube-exclusive. Uh huh. The Over/Under for PS2/Xbox release of the game is Christmas 2004. Place your bets now.

So Which Will Actually Release First: Doom 3, Or Gran Turismo 4?
credit: Spong.com
Looks like Sony isn’t going to make the previously acknowledged target release date of Easter 2004 for GT4. Now they’re looking at summer, July to be specific.

The latest schedule slip now puts Doom 3 in the lead in the “Apocryphal Title That Actually Comes To Fruition” race. Latest Vegas odds are as follows:

Doom 3 releases first: 4-1 (was 6-1)
Gran Turismo 4 releases first: 7-1 (was 5-1)
Neither game ever releases: Even (no change)

This Week’s Nintendo Rumor Mill
credit: Spong.com
Well, the latest idea is that the “new console” that Nintendo is going to announce which “doesn’t compete with current consoles” is a world-wide version of their iQue console which they released in China last year. The iQue, for those who don’t know, is basically a portable N64 and plays N64 games on memory cards. It is believed that this would actually be a good pre-emptive strike on the handheld market as Sony prepares to lay siege to Nintendo’s handheld hegemony (yes, I wrote that so I could use the alliteration. Bite me.) with the PSP.

We should know one way or the other sometime this week. Stay tuned.

A Perfect Example Of The Pot Calling The Kettle Stupid

Before we get started, I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize. I’d like to apologize, sincerely apologize, to Mr. Matt Wong at ESPN Gamer. First of all, my ire at that organization is somewhat unearned, since they didn’t even show up on the game site rankings published last month (we were the #34 ranked game site on the entire web! Woo!). Second, and a bit more importantly, Mr. Wong really likes video games. He may have been blessed with some interview/preview opportunities that me, Berg, and Panky would kill for, and he may be a horrible writer even when he’s pitched such softballs, but at least he really LIKES his material. I can’t totally begrudge anyone who wants to write good things about video games.

I bring this up here because, a week and a half ago, I was introduced to this article from Mr. Christopher Byron of, among other publications, the New York Post. Mr. Byron has written one of the most inflammatory, and at the same time utterly uninformed pieces on video games that I have ever read. If you read through the link I provided last week and have ANY working knowledge of the last two Grand Theft Auto games, you already know that this idiot has never so much as picked up a controller to the game. The funny part about this is that the guy is primarily a financial journalist. I certainly hope he puts more research efforts into his work than was evident here.

So, Mr. Wong, please accept my apologies, and enjoy someone else’s pain for once. Go on. You’re allowed.

GIVE BACK TAKE-TWO

Tom: “Give?” What kind of a financial journalist is this guy?
Crow: *cheerfully* A bad one.

By CHRISTOPHER BYRON

Cory: I wonder if he calls himself “Lord.”
Crow: Probably only in bed.

December 29, 2003 — IN this season of ecumenical brotherhood, here’s a suggestion for how to advance the cause of peace:

Tom: Donate some of your time to a youth recreation center?
Cory: Round up some food and take it to a local homeless shelter?
Crow: Join the United States military?

Sell your stock in Take-Two Interactive Inc.

Tom: Huh?

In case you can’t quite place the name, New York-based Take-Two Interactive is a Nasdaq-traded company in the video game business.

Crow: Cory, why do I know where this is going?
Cory: Because it’s a well-worn path, Crow.

Over the last couple of years, the company has been one of Wall Street’s hottest stocks, climbing by more than 500 percent to a high of nearly $42 per share earlier this year.

Tom: *cheerfully* Leaving death, disease, and destruction in its wake!
Cory: Did you mean for that to be alliterated?
Tom: *just as cheerfully* Nope, just a happy accident.
Crow: Like cleaning a gun with the safety off and shooting your neighbor’s dog.
Cory: Crow”¦.

But Take-Two has lately gotten knocked around a bit, both in the market and on the regulatory front, as a long-smoldering Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into the company’s accounting looks to be coming to a head.

Cory: Okay. SEC investigations always a good reason to stay away from a stock, but tell me, WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH PEACE?!
Crow: You forgot your sarcasm tags on that line.
Cory: They were implied. Cripes, I can’t spoon-feed EVERYTHING to the reader!

Yet that’s not the only reason to stay away from this stock.

Crow: It’s also not very pretty to look at “¦ and since you’ll have TWICE as much of it when it splits next month “¦.

Some long-overdue questions are also being raised about the nature of Take-Two’s unusual product line, which is coming under attack by local and state legislators around the country.

Tom: “Long-overdue,” in this instance meaning, “hashed and rehashed for the last two years.”
Cory: Feh. They’ve been making that case since *I* was a kid playing stuff like “Robotron””¦.
Crow: “¦about fifty years ago.

SO before turning to Take-Two’s other problems, let’s first pause for some thoughts on the core question of what this company actually does”¦.

Cory: Create a product that lots of people buy?
Tom: Actually add to the Gross Domestic Product of the nation?
Crow: Make original games that are actually worth playing?

“¦which is to produce and market video games of such luxuriously violent and disgusting content as to leave one simply speechless.

Tom: *sigh* This guy obviously hasn’t seen Backyard Wrestling, has he?
Cory: No. Fortunately, neither has anyone else.
Crow: Why don’t I think he’ll be “speechless” enough for our tastes?

The latest installment in the company’s best-selling “Grand Theft Auto” series – “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” – has been on the market for a little over a year now and has already sold more than 5 million copies.

Crow: Translation: “I’m behind the times!”

Lately, the game has been in the news quite a bit – though not for any reason Take-Two would have wanted”¦.

Tom: I dunno. There is no such thing as bad press, after all.
Cory: Keep reading.

“¦ as leaders in the Haitian community and elsewhere have gotten noticeably torqued “¦.

Crow: Just when I thought Ice Cube had hit his cinematic peak with “Friday After Next” “¦.

“¦up about a line of dialogue that consists of the following: “Kill the Haitians.”

Tom: But doesn’t he appreciate the metaphor?
Crow: At least they said “Haitians.” They could’ve said “¦
Cory: “¦CROW!
Crow: Oh, come on!
Tom: He’s got a point, Cory. “Kill the Haitians,” while a bit macabre, is politically correct in that it refers to the ethnic group directly by name. Cripes, I’ve seen worse cultural affronts in the movies. Specifically, the movie “The Untouchables.” THAT’S how silly this whole thing is.
Crow: *Connery* Just like a “¦.
Cory: AHEM!!
Crow: *still Connery* “¦ Brings a knife to a gunfight.

The offending line has brought public rebukes of the company from both Mayor Bloomberg and the Anti-Defamation League, and Take-Two has responded by saying it will remove the words from future editions of the game.

Crow: Complaint. Capitulation. What more do you want? Sackcloth and fasting?
Cory: No on the former, but I could probably use some of the latter.
Tom: Holidays, huh? I’m lucky. You have no idea how much I have to eat just to maintain my figure.
Cory: By the way, the ADL didn’t rebuke Take-Two. They came out AFTER Take-Two agreed to remove the line and applauded the decision.
Crow: Ah, what’s a little falsification among readers. They apparently do it over at the Times all the time.
Tom: Ooooooooo”¦.

But trust me when I tell you that considering what else goes on in “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City,” that phrase is nothing.

Cory: And considering what goes on in a typical day in New York, that game is nothing.

HERE’S the game’s basic bit: You’re a cocaine dealer, see, “¦.

Tom: No, but we’ll let it slide for now.

“¦and you get ripped off in a drug deal that goes bad. So your mission is to get your drugs and your money back – by committing as many violent, homicidal crimes as you can possibly think up.

Cory: Now, that’s not totally fair. It’s not like this game is based on a Clancy book or anything.
Tom: Trade-show virus!
Crow: Super Bowl nuke!
Tom: TRADE-SHOW VIRUS!
Crow: SUPER BOWL NUKE!

You can pursue your goal by killing Haitians, of course, but you can also kill anyone (or everyone) else.

Tom: *singing* “I recall Central Park in fall “¦”

You can machine-gun them, beat them with baseball bats, chop them up with machetes or run them over with stolen cars.

Tom: *singing* “How you tore your dress”¦.”

And when you do, everything will look incredibly and shockingly real, with blood spewing everywhere.

Tom: *singing* “What a mess”¦.”

You can kill a cop, steal his gun, and then use it to shoot someone else.

Tom: *singing* “”¦I confess “¦ that’s not alllllll”¦.”

Or you can pick up a prostitute and have sex with her in the back of your stolen car, then beat her to death – or shoot her, bludgeon her, whatever you want.

ALL: *singing* “”¦Danke schon, darling, danke schon “¦.”

In fact, “whatever you want” is what the game is all about.

Cory: That may be the singly most crass thing we’ve ever done.
*pause*
ALL: Woo-hoo!! *Cory high-fives Crow. Tom dances a little Tom-jig.*
Crow: Pushing back the frontiers of the tasteless once again.

Thanks to its artful and complex programming and its incredibly realistic graphics, the game creates the impression of being inside a totally unscripted, live-action drama in which you can manufacture your mayhem as you go along.

Cory: Well, hell, when you put it like that “¦ where can *I* buy a copy?

People, this is insane.

Crow: *Byron* This whole column is a year or two too late, I’m just giving more publicity to a game company I don’t like, and I just made the product I’m trying to warn people about sound like the stroke of gaming genius that it really is! That’s it, I’m outta here.

This is 10,000 times worse than the worst thing anybody thinks Michael Jackson ever did to a little boy”¦.

ALL: *pause, mouths agape*
Tom: He “¦ he didn’t just say that. TELL me he didn’t just say that.
Crow: Yeah “¦ yeah, I think he did.

“¦or than any lie the feds think Martha Stewart ever told them,”¦.

Cory: I don’t think it’s so much a “think” thing at this point. Tom?
Tom: I’m sorry “¦ I’m still in shock.

“¦or any line in any song that Bruce Springsteen ever sang that rankled a cop in the Meadowlands.

Cory: Springsteen?
*pause*
Cory: Oh, come on, Crow! That’s a softball! Insert “Black Flag” or “Body Count” comment here!
Crow: Sorry, boss. I’m with Tom “¦ I’m still trying to get my Pentium around this guy’s sheer stupidity. Give me a minute.

And trust me when I tell you, Mr. Mayor, what Take-Two Interactive is blowing into your face every day is a whole lot worse than second-hand cigarette smoke.

Cory: “Mr. Mayor” is a billionaire, so I’m sure he can afford to have anything blown that he wants.”
*pause*
Cory: Crow? You okay, honey?
Crow: Almost there “¦ yeah “¦ okay. Whew. Now, where was I “¦ oh yeah “¦ *ahem* “¦ like his “cigar.”
Cory: Welcome back, Crow.

Out of that company is spewing the glorification of mass murder and the celebration of death.

Cory: Somebody check, is Bill O’Reilly using a pseudonym for the Post now?
*pause*
Cory: Okay, guys. Are we ready to come back to the land of the acerbic?
Tom: I “¦ I guess “¦ yes. Yes, we are. Okay, our little song was crass “¦.
Crow: “¦tasteless”¦.
Cory: “¦insensitive”¦
Crow: “¦slightly misogynistic”¦
Tom: “¦but it was meant in jest. Fun. Not trying to offend anybody “¦ really. If anything else, trying to illustrate the fact that these things he talks about happen in real life, let alone on a typical night in New York City. The game ISN’T meant for children, certainly not children without proper PARENTAL SUPERVISION, but to say that a Grand Theft Auto game, no matter how antiheroic the premise is, is ten thousand times worse than an actual act of child molestation is “¦ is “¦
Crow: “¦is a load of bullsh”¦.
Tom: “¦is perhaps the single most INSENSITIVE thing I’ve ever heard! Maybe sitting down in front of a GTA game isn’t the most constructive thing for a youth’s social conscience, but it sure as hell isn’t the level of psychologically damaging that a single act of molestation or sexual assault is! Do Grand Theft Auto players need years of intensive therapy? Do they have intimacy issues that may NEVER get resolved? If I were the victim “¦ or actually, if I were the PARENT of a victim of molestation and had read this, I’d be going down to the Post with the expressed intent of getting Mr. Byron FIRED.
Crow: How this guy still has a job is beyond me. GTA. Ten THOUSAND times worse than sexual assault. Right. This guy probably writes a scathing column any time the corner deli is out of pastrami.
Tom: *Byron* “The 9th Street Deli’s blatant disregard of its inventory is a MILLION times worse than any famine they “say” is going on in Africa.
Crow: *Byron* Fox’s Thursday night lineup is a hundred BILLION times worse than any genocide they “say” was committed by the Hussein regime.
Tom: *Byron* The gas mileage of my car is a THOUSAND MILLION BILLION times worse than any nuclear proliferation they “say” is going on in Asia.
Cory: Okay. Good. Glad to have you guys back.

And the fact that the game supposedly can’t be sold to anyone under 17 years of age is completely irrelevant and changes nothing.

Crow: Uh, when did the ESRB ratings become mandatory to enforce?
Cory: They haven’t. He’s just an idiot.

FOR one thing, the age cutoff is totally unenforceable, and everyone knows it.

Tom: Not the point, dickweed.
Crow: But true, since there IS NO LAW PROHIBITING GAME SALES ANYWAY.

And cases surface constantly in which “Grand Theft Auto” has been linked to violence and killing.

Crow: And those cases would be “¦.what? YOU’RE the one with the burden of proof here.

In Tennessee last summer a motorist was killed and his passenger wounded when two boys – aged 14 and 16 – played “Grand Theft Auto” and then decided to go out and take sniper shots at cars, just like in the game.

Tom: And if this game is so influential, why don’t we hear about kids stealing police cars and ramming into criminal’s cars?
Crow: Or kids stealing fire trucks and trying to put out fires?
Cory: Or kids loading up RC cars with explosives and blowing up cars on the street?
Bots: *look at Cory*
Cory: Well, forgive me if *my* antisocial tendencies are a bit more technically challenging.

Besides: By what preposterous reasoning can one argue that once someone turns 17 years of age it magically becomes OK to glorify mass murder?

Crow: Well, by 18 you can vote “¦ you need a little lead time there “¦.
Cory: Hey, wait. ONE case? I want some more of these “constantly surfacing” cases of GTA-inspired mayhem.

Are we saying that it would have been OK for that Beltway Sniper guy – who was apparently in his 40s – to have been allowed to play “Grand Theft Auto” before going on his killing spree, but it wouldn’t have been OK for that young teenager who went along with him to have done the same?

Cory: No, it would’ve “¦ if his parents had been involved “¦ which they obviously weren’t.

This whole age-cutoff thing is simply garbage – just like “Grand Theft Auto” itself”¦

Tom: He obviously hasn’t played anything by 989 Sports.

“¦and sooner or later, I would imagine, we’ll come to our senses and ban these games from public commerce, just like we ban child pornography and entertainment spectacles such as cock fighting and dwarf throwing.

Crow: Dammit, it’s dwarf TOSSING, and when it’s done right it’s perfectly safe and PURELY CONSENTUAL!!!
Tom: *Byron* End zone celebrations are a google and a half times worse than any personal foul committed by Bill Romanowski!
Cory: Ol’ Chris *could* work for the NFL disciplinary department, couldn’t he?

Meantime, Take-Two is milking this product for all it is worth:

Tom: Gee, we have this controversial title that’s selling like hotcakes “¦ but the press hates it “¦ but the press keeps writing about it “¦ dammit, I’ll hate myself for doing this, but order another million copies printed.
Cory: My God have mercy on my Bentley.

Next year the company will even be introducing a Gameboy version of the thing, so that kids can carry it around with them wherever they go.

Crow: Carry it to Mass. Maybe it’ll keep some of those priests in line.
Cory: Crow “¦.

This way they’ll be able to get re-stimulated, whenever necessary, with some of the most menacing messages known to civilized man.

Tom: You know, not that I like to think about such things, but I’d like to think that the images of the Nazi concentration camps or the war crimes committed in Vietnam would rank somewhat higher on the “menacing” scale than a year-old video game.
Cory: And obviously this guy hasn’t seen Manhunt yet. Cripes, he’ll probably have an aneurysm when he does.
Crow: Gotcha. It’ll ship this afternoon. Heh heh heh.

WHAT would be left of an outfit like Take- Two Interactive if its bizarre version of digital snuff porn were outlawed?

ALL: *laugh heartily*
Crow: “Digital snuff porn?” What? Is he bucking for a show on Fox News?
Cory: I think he’s adequately demonstrated that he knows f*ck all about the game itself. I wonder if he’s ever actually SEEN it.
Tom: Let alone PLAY it.
Cory: And this guy is a financial expert? I’d love to see how he researches stocks.
Crow: Probably has to do with a morning paper, his dog, and some quality time.

Frankly, not much. The company’s latest three-month and nine-month financial results, covering the period through July 31, show “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” and an earlier version of the same ghastly program (“Grand Theft Auto III”) to have accounted for just under half the company’s sales.

Cory: But “Vice City” is the real culprit, even though the gameplay is EXACTLY THE SAME.
Crow: But the motorcycle riding is the root of all of the pervesion and sin.
Tom: This guy should do research for the Religious Right.

Take-Two was founded in 1993 by a young fellow named Ryan Brant, who was apparently raised in a family steeped in its own Vice City values.

Crow: *Robbie the Robot* Danger! Danger! Class warfare imminent!

Ryan’s daddy, Peter, a polo-playing fop from Greenwich, Conn., did time in federal prison for tax fraud after trying to write off $1.5 million worth of massages, jewelry, scalp rubs and what-not as business expenses.

Cory: Interesting. It says here that Mr. Byron graduated from the Columbia University School of Law, and has admitted in past writings that he goes to the same health club as Martha Stewart.
Tom: Really.
Cory: Really. He apparently kissed her ass pretty literally for a while, and then he wrote that trash rag about her that they based the TV movie on.
Tom: The Cybill Shepard one?
Cory: Yep.
Tom: Tasteless.
Crow: Hmmmm. Says here that he’s also a contributing editor and financial columnist for “¦ what’s that? Playboy?
Tom: So what you’re saying is that Mr. Byron is wealthy “¦
Crow: “¦ is a completely unscrupulous media whore “¦
Cory: “¦ and feels free to pass self-righteous judgment on what he sees fit while pulling in major coin writing for the ORIGINAL pornographic magazine.
Tom: God, what a dickweed.
Crow: Jack-off.
Cory: Two-Faced Slut Bitch.

Last spring, Dad was hit with more tax woes when federal prosecutors filed a suit against him and his partner – art dealer Larry Gagosian – alleging that they owe $26 million in taxes on fine art sales dating back to 1990.

Cory: And what exactly does this have to do with the price of Take-Two Interactive again?
Crow: He called him Dad? Oh! I get it. Chris here is a long-lost older brother and he’s envious of the support that Dad gave his younger brother.
Tom: Kind of like the Parable of the Prodigal Son “¦ except without a point”¦.

Dad was an original investor in Master Ryan’s excellent adventure, and currently collects $474,000 per year from the company in return for leasing it some of the New York real estate he owns. That lease is set to expire in the new year.

Tom: Gasp! Lease agreements! Six figures for real estate in New York!? Robbery!
Crow: I’ll call President Coolidge! He’ll put a stop to this chicanery!

THE Securities and Exchange Commission got interested in Take-Two last year after the company restated its financial results for most of the previous two years. The restatement followed reports that the company had been claiming revenues from fictitious sales.

Cory: Now, I’ll admit that I don’t know the facts of that case, but given that you couldn’t find GTA in a rental store for about six months after its release I really question whether Take Two had any reason for overstating its sales.
Tom: Trying to keep ahead of the Joneses, perhaps.
Cory: All of the “Joneses” were peddling pencils since the bottom fell out in 2000. Unless they were puffing their chests to do battle with EA, I don’t see the point.

Now the SEC seems ready to act. Earlier this month it issued the company something known as a Wells Notice, which amounts to a “your time is up” letter; its purpose is to inform the target of an SEC investigation that fraud charges are about to be filed against it.

Tom: Okay, now he’s just trying to make them look bad. This is all standard SEC procedural stuff that financial people know by heart anyway.

Ryan Brant received an additional Wells Notice himself, as did two former officials who the company did not name – meaning that the SEC plans to include all three as defendants in its complaint.

ALL: GASP!!

Bottom line: Stay away from this stock – far, far away – and you’ll be doing both your wallet and your fellow man a favor.

Tom: Be sure to pick it up early 2nd quarter though, before they announce the next Grand Theft Auto sequel. Grand Theft Auto: Sin City.
Crow: “¦er”¦.San Andreas.
Cory: Then flog yourself in shame “¦ with your diamond-tipped cat-o-nine tails.
Crow: Kinky!

Happy New Year.

Cory: Mr. Byron, if this is your idea of business journalism, I’d like to serve you with this restraining order, forcing you to stay at least a hundred feet away from my 401(k).
Crow: *Byron* Free the King of Pop.

* Please send e-mail to:
cbyron@nypost.com

Tom: *whispering* Psst! Tell him to buy Nokia!

Pimp-Licious

L.C. gets the Pimp Coat this week. Partly because he’s due, partly because I’m in a terrible mood myself, for obvious reasons.
The system specs look tight, but Sony dropped the ball on their recent PSX system by dropping key features to get it launched in time. If that happens with the PSP, people will go apeshit.

Misha gets the Pimp Stick, just because I really liked the close of his column:
Innovation. It’s hard to do, and often risky, but majestic when it works. Respect is duly due to all those programmers pushing the envelope in whatever ways they do so; and of course (by definition) it’s the way forward.

Bryan “The Brain” Berg gets the Pimp Boots this week, for TWO news reports and a featured review “¦ and for generally kicking ass.
This all COULD happen as early as February, which is when those two big exclusive titles will be released, but count on these cuts coming later, as the odds of Sony admitting they have no strategy are as great as the odds of the Beatles reforming today.

This week’s Ho Train:
Fred gets rather L.C.-like this week, but not without reason. I once lost two week’s worth of work on a WRESTLING game (unlockables and such) thanks to a save glitch. Death’s too good for them.
Alex Williams reviews Magic and does the news and does it all with the skill and panache not normally seen from a writer of his experience”¦even though Magic jumped the shark almost ten years ago. It’s not his fault.
Baxley talks about loving what you do. Can you tell he’s finally doing what he loves to do? I can.
Lucard doesn’t like platformers”¦.doesn’t like sports games”¦.doesn’t like Square Enix”¦.doesn’t like Barry Manilow”¦doesn’t like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer””¦.Alex, what DO you like”¦other than Black No. 1 and goth chicks”¦and Ikaruga?
Bebito reviews Top Spin. Bebito. A sports game. Truly, these are the end times. What’s worse, he actually likes it. Likes. Excuse me”¦I have to lie down.

Hey, next week, we’ll have my 2003 in retrospective feature using (finally) quotes from the cult comedy movie “Super Troopers.” I mean it this time. The lines have been selected, the events are being sorted. Later this week you all should see my review of Project Gotham Racing 2, which I lifted off of Bebito. What? I couldn’t bear to see him have to review a sports game AND a racing game back-to-back.

Until then, get some sleep.

-Cory