Gamer’s Hangover News Report 02.02.04

Quasi-random thoughts:

Okay, the house is clean, the bathroom (for all intents and purposes) is finished, the Masters is in the bag, we’ve settled into a good cooking routine for the diet, and I’m getting used to being Internet-less at work. Let’s see if I can get this column in on time this week, shall we?

(That would be a “no.” — C.L.)

Bitch all you want about it, I LIKE how the Jericho/Stratus story arc is going. Slow burn, guys. Slow burn. And I had my mark-out moment of the week when he said, “RAW IS JERICHO!!” All of you who think Jericho should stay a heel, bite me. Benoit’s headlining Wrestlemania. You got your wish, let me have mine.

Diet Thoughts:

Yes, the diet has made me a little cranky. I’ve been without caffeine and sugar for almost three weeks now. If I hadn’t already dropped 20 pounds, I’d be eviscerating random passersby.

I just took my blood pressure with one of those machines you see at the store, and for the first time in recorded history, my Systolic was below 130. Now if I can just find unsalted, low-carb tortilla chips”¦.

Diet Rite cola isn’t bad. I’m not kidding. It’s better than any other diet pop I’ve ever had, hands down. It’s probably because it’s the only one (so far) that uses Splenda instead of Aspartame. I have the feeling that my head would explode if I took a drink of Mountain Dew at this point.

One of the things about this diet is that you’re supposed to minimize the amount of sodium/salt you take in. The point being that by having excessive sodium, your body wants to retain water, and if it retains water, it will also tend to retain bodyfat. This is why the first week of any diet always goes so well. It’s also the reason I’m scared as hell to even look at french fries right now. I can fit into 34-waist jeans. I’m afraid that one errant potato chip will send me hurtling back towards 38.

So, naturally, what’s Roni’s main problem with the diet? “I’d be happy if I could just put SALT into things!”

I’m being the Nazi about this diet, not because I think Roni is weak, but because I know *I* am. She just wants to cook with a little salt and butter. I’m the one who wants to take my paycheck over to Spangles, make a stop at Dairy Queen after that, then go home and top it all off with about three dozen of my own chocolate chip cookies and a gallon of Rum and Cokes. That pathetic guy from the Subway Atkins wraps commercial; I’m about a thimbleful of self-control away from being him.

So, as you read this, I am officially halfway through the proscribed schedule of 6 weeks. The over/under for the rest of it is currently at 1 ½ more weeks. Place your bets now.

“So am I on my way to becoming that creepy old guy playing the video games at Best Buy?” — Me.
“Yep. But if you take your son with you, you go from being a creepy old guy to being a super-cool Dad.” — Roni
“Whew.” — Me.

Being a parent has its ups and downs. More ups than downs at this point, but one thing I don’t want to have to experience again for a while is the sight of him throwing up. He spit up as a baby all the time. Wednesday he did the full-on stomach flu Technicolor yawn right in front of me. I don’t know why that was so disturbing, but it was.

My pre-Super Bowl thoughts:

– I really don’t think Tom Brady is that exceptional of a quarterback. I always get the feeling he’s one blown confidence game away from Warner-ville.

– If the Patriots win, they officially enter the pantheon of teams that “everybody else” hates, for winning two Super Bowls in three years. See also: Dallas, Denver.

– On the other hand, the only real reason I would want the Panthers to win is for Rod “He Hate Me” Smart.

– Rush Limbaugh wasn’t right about Donovan McNabb. He’s a good quarterback regardless. So’s Peyton Manning. They’re both watching this game from home, though.

– If the Chiefs had hired Gunther a month ago, they might’ve been in this game.

– Every time I’ve seen Bill Belicheck on TV over the last month, his ego has gotten visibly bigger. It’s nowhere near that of a Billick or a Martz yet, but it’s getting there. Maybe if you in the press corps call him “genius” a few thousand more times that’ll do the trick. They can see Billick’s ego from the ISS.

– John Fox looks like that divorced dad of one of your friends. You know, the one who let you do anything you wanted at his house, even raiding the porn stash, but who you just got the feeling you should stay at least 6 feet away from at all times. Reading the story in USA Today about his surfing hobby doesn’t help that image either.

– We need to cull the football sportscaster herd. You know this to be true. First to die: Dan Dierdorf. THEN we’ll get to Madden. And will somebody please ship Armen Ketayen off to CNN Money where he belongs?

– Kevin Harlan was a better football play-by-play guy when he was doing radio. There, I said it.

– Six more months until I hear that official start of the Chiefs season: the first time Mitch Holtus invokes the name Hall-of-Fame-Quarterback-Len Dawson.

– Randy Cross is a miscreant.

– Tom Jackson needs to have a restraining order preventing him from commenting on any AFC West teams.

– Shannon Sharpe needs to have a restraining order preventing him from talking. Ever. (Does anybody else get sick knowing that, as soon as he’s done playing he’s going to be doing color for somebody? Can we bring Sterling out of retirement just to shut him up, please?)

– Who else wants to see a booth of Bonnie Bernstein and Suzy Kolber?

– If Gary Anderson stays retired this time, I’ll be surprised.

– A few years later, I can finally see the point, and even the beauty in Barry Sanders’ retirement. Okay, so he gave up on passing Sweetness (and Emmitt Smith should be sending him Bentley’s for that, because if that record had been a priority for Barry, Emmitt wouldn’t have had a chance in hell.) but damn, who would want to play for the Lions to do it?

– Quick, name the starting running back for New England. I couldn’t either.

– One more good thing if the Panthers win: It would piss off the Bucs something FIERCE.

– Oh, God “¦ I just had a glimpse of the future “¦ a broadcast booth with Shannon Sharpe AND Warren Sapp. I can only hope the rapture occurs before that hell is unleashed on Earth.

– Norv Turner coaching the Raiders. Has anybody told him that he’s basically working for the AFC’s version of Dan Snyder? Seriously, I say this every year, but I hope Al Davis lives until he’s 150, and that he keeps dicking with the Raiders organization until the second he shuffles off this mortal coil.

My post-Super Bowl thoughts:

– I really f*cking hate the Patriots now. First, watching the game, I became a fan of Jake Delhomme just in time to see me get enough of an emotional stake to be legitimately pissed off when the game was over. Second, I think Tom Brady is the NFL’s version of a Backstreet Boy. He’s surrounded by good receivers and coaches who have it in their best interest to make him look as good as possible, just like any “respectable” boy band. Third, I made the mistake of reading The Sports Guy’s post SB blog. He talked about the relief he felt with the win, because if they lost all he’d hear about is the Tuck Rule and all that bullshit. How f*cking dare he. Ooooo. The TUCK RULE!! Boy, that would sure take away their 2 SUPER BOWL APPEARANCES IN THREE YEARS, wouldn’t it?! The Chiefs haven’t been to the f*cking game at ALL since they won it in 1970, FOUR AND A HALF YEARS BEFORE I WAS BORN, but it would’ve just been UNBEARABLE to have to listen about the TUCK RULE for another year. What an asshole. Congratulations, Simmons. You’ve just ascended to the status of every loud-mouthed fan of the Texas Penal System, or everybody who rooted on The Whiner as he FINALLY won a couple of Super Bowls (after blowing three previous) and now can’t shut up to take another draw out of the oat bag. Jerk. Poseur. Punk.

Valley Center Chess Update: Let’s just say that a LOT of my anger this morning stems from my experiences running V.C.’s second annual tournament on Saturday, and having to deal with shitty weather, boorish coaches trying to run my shit, and f*cking moronic coaches holding up the entire tournament (AGAIN) because he can’t decide whether to pussy out or not. The team themselves did well, and they deserve that 2nd place trophy. Fuck, they deserve the FIRST place trophy since they were better sports than the team that won, but I’ll play within the rules for now.

NEWS

Finally, A Microsoft Leak That’s Not Of The Data Variety
credit: Spong.com
Computer geeks, get your spec analysis on, because it appears that the particulars of the upcoming Xbox 2 have been leaked.

Ahem.

GPU: probably based on Ati’s R500, with full compatibility with DirectX 9 and 10. They’re also saying that it will feature embedded DRAM as a dedicated frame buffer, which would likely make fully anti-aliased high-def TV possible for the first time in a video game system.

RAM: Growing from 256 MB to 512 MB, on a 256-bit bus.

CPU: THREE IBM 64-bit processors, the same or close to the same as used in Apple’s G5 PowerMac (see also: irony). Probably giving the Xbox 2 more raw computing power than most current PC’s.

Backwards compatibility: They’re still saying that true BWC won’t be possible due to the different GPU/CPU of the Xbox 2, but they’re still kicking around the idea of full software emulation of Xbox 1.

Now, if I could just find a way to run MATLAB on it.

THERE IS NO HALO 2, UNTIL THE CHIEFS ARE PLAYING AGAIN.
credit: Gamedaily.com and Spong.com

The quote from Bungie says it all: “So remember last year when we told you we don’t announce release dates until we’re confident we’ll meet our deadling? Well now we’re confident. Halo 2 will ship in Fall, 2004. Please make a note of it.”

“There will be a fair number of new details and announcements to follow over the next few months, and of course there’s always E3.”

Consider yourself warned. By the way, the first multiplayer screenshot has been released. You can check it out on the Spong site here.

Fun At The Tokyo Patent Office
credit: Spong.com
Check out the names that have just been registered by some of our favorite video game companies:

Square Enix: “Curse of Promathia”, “Photocard Paradise”

Namco: “Tales of Rebirth”, “Tales of Justice”, “Tales of Honesty”, “Tales of Tactics”, “Quiz de Quest”, “Medal no Tatsujin”, “The Medal Game Master”

Sony: “Vib Ripple”

Nintendo: “Golfing Legends”, “Kirby: Mirror Labryinth”

Konami: “Frogger: The Mystery of the Ancient Civilization”, “Buster Scorpion”, “Diet Channel”, “Invasion of Chaos”

Sega: “Teddy Boy Blues”

Rare: “Banjo Pilot”

Microsoft: “Phantom Dust”

Somebody get these people some marketing pros, pronto. Berg! Sic em!

Neo Geo: The Game System That JUST WON’T DIE
credit: Spong.com
SNK Playmore has announced a revised version of Samurai Spirits Zero. This version would bolster the character roster and tweak the gameplay balance in response to critics. Five new playable characters were announced, two final bosses from previous Samurai Spirits games and 3 level bosses from the first Samurai Spirits Zero version.

Arcade version should be out in May. PS2 version should be out in Japan in March and the rest of the world later in the year.

True Crime On Your PC, And We’re Not Talking About The RIAA
credit: Gamedaily.com
Activision has announced True Crime: Streets of L.A. will be coming to the PC sometime this spring. The new version will add multiplayer modes, including Dojo Master, Battle Master, The Beat (seeing how many criminals you can capture), The Chase , and Street Racing. There’ll also be new weapons and unlockable characters.

So I don’t want to hear any bitching from P.C. gamers anymore.

Since When Did Tony Hawk Become Emissary For The Entire Video Game Industry?
credit: Gamedaily.com
GSN, formerly the more straightforwardly named Game Show Network, will air it’s SECOND expose of the video game industry on March 21.

From Gamedaily, because I just can’t do this justice:
Video Game Invasion: The History of a Global Obsession will examine the “creation and evolution” of videogames and will be narrated by Tony Hawk. Executive produced by David Carr and David Comtois of Beantown Productions, the show will feature interviews with Nolan Bushnell, Al Acorn, Seamus Blackley and John Romero among others.

Yep sounds like a winner. Especially considering that I don’t recall ever hearing about their FIRST video game research piece.

NON-RANDOM THOUGHTS

Those of you that are a bit savvy about the videogame world probably already know the term vaporware, but for those that don’t here’s the down-lo: Vaporware is any piece of software (in practice usually a game) that keeps getting promised to the buying public, but never actually comes out.

Now, this is a fine definition by itself, but I have examined the nature of vaporware and have been able to deduce some important characteristics of this computer industry anomaly.

– A piece of vaporware is usually meant as a sequel to an earlier, HUGELY successful piece of software.
– Vaporware differs from mere rumor by official or quasi-official “news” about the game’s development. This could exist as repeated leaks from insiders all the way up to screenshots, movies, or even demos. There must be a tangible reason to believe that the vaporware will eventually show up as actual software to make something vaporware.
– Vaporware can, sometimes, finally manifest itself as production software, at which point it ceases being vaporware. However, many pieces of software created in this way were more prized and revered when they were vaporware than they were as actual software.

The single best example of vaporware that I can think of is the venerable Doom 3; which, SUPPOSEDLY, is due out this year. Mind you that Doom 2 came out when I was an undergrad “¦ TEN YEARS AGO. When I was interning at Raytheon in ’94, people were playing Doom 2 on the CAD stations.

This program already contains two of the three properties listed above; it’s a sequel, and we’ve been led by the nose about it for the better part of these ten years. With that much build-up, I can’t imagine anything but it being destined to meet the third property as well.

Think about it, how many FPS’s are out there already? Unreal, Half-Life, Halo, Doom 3 is going to have to be something REALLY special simply to break out of the overdone FPS genre. Yeah, the original helped jump-start the popularity of the genre, but that doesn’t mean it gets the lion’s share of the sales now.

I’m predicting that by the end of the year, we’re all going to think that maybe Doom 3 was better when it was Vaporware.

PIMP-LICIOUS

Just a note: I’m linking to the subdirectories this week instead of the articles themselves for two reasons. One, Internet Fascists at work (and lack of foresight on my part). Second, you all need to read more anyway.

Misha Sumra gets the Pimp Coat this week for the debut of the new Tuesday news column.
L.C. ascendant! Maybe it’s because I’m finally in his mindset this morning, but I really liked his column last week.
Williams, because I need a mutual admiration society right now.
This Week’s Ho Train:
Yeager is our newest reviewer, and gives a good rookie effort on “Mario Party 5.”
Baxley had issue with my filler-vs.-news ratio. Just consider yourself lucky that I’m not drowning you all in baby stories about my son.
Freddie may get a make-up Pimp award — I really liked his column this week.
Berg won’t get another Pimp award until he stands up and accepts my challenge online. This I vow. Read him anyway, because he rules.

Next week, hell if I know, but there’ll be news.

Until then, get some sleep.

-Cory