Gamer’s Hangover News Report — 03.22.04

Quasi-Random Thoughts

Okay, my respect for A-Will’s skills just went up a couple orders of magnitude. I finally got Veronica into the arcade to see/play DDR Extreme this week. More on the playing part in a minute. Anyway, as we were waiting to play, there was a small Asian man playing (I think it was the same one who was hanging about when I played the very first time, but I digress) and he was ripping up what I could only assume to be a “hard” song. Oy. At the end, I checked out his grade. He got a C. About half a second later, I realized that A-Will has probably done the same song and gotten a AAA. Alex, videotape yourself playing and send a copy to Bruce Arena and you won’t have to be a Norwegian athlete, you’ll be starting midfielder for the US Soccer team.

They seriously need to set one of those hard levels to some nice Celtic, “Lord of the Dance”-ish music. I’m not just saying that because St. Patty’s day was this week. Okay, maybe I am.

Little known fact outside of my industry: Saint Patrick is the Patron Saint ┞¢ of engineers. So every year all of the engineers in town get together on March 17th, tie one or two on, then set to building our doomsday machine, which everybody gets too drunk to finish anyway and ends up being the winning creative entry in the Wichita River Festival’s raft race.

And yes, there’s such a thing as the Wichita River Festival.

Sitting at work, listening to my mix CD’s, I come across that classic puzzle of heavy metal: How the hell could that kid commit suicide after listening to Judas Priest? Seriously, did they LISTEN to Judas Priest during that trial? Why didn’t the judge just throw it out right then? This is the band that brought you such heart-wrenching music as “Living After Midnight” and “Turbolover.” It’s the closest thing metal has to Broadway show tunes, and given what we know about Rob Halford now, that’s not so surprising. In fact, I think Andrew Lloyd Webber has probably caused more deaths than Judas Priest, and that’s including morons wrapping their Camaros around light poles after listening to “Turbolover.” I say this from experience: don’t worry about the kid that listens to metal. Worry about the kid that listens to show tunes 24/7. They’re the ones most likely to call for the check early. I’ve known a couple that almost succeeded, and one that did.

Man, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for that last paragraph to end on such a bum note “¦ wait a sec “¦ ahhhh “¦ there’s no bummed mood that a shot of Van Halen’s “Panama” can’t fix. Cripes, I’m old.

I’ve been trying not to talk about the games I review here before the reviews come out, but now that I think about it, I’m not hurting anything if I do. It’s not like I’m going to bullshit anybody on whether a game is worth it or not. I might end up changing my opinion on a game between the time I write about it here and the time the full-up review comes out, but you know there’ll be a damn good reason if I do. And since I’ve vowed to include more game content in my news reports; until Panky gives me the ol’ cease and desist, here goes:

I’m really having trouble getting into MX Unleashed right now. I have sparse enough gaming time already and I find myself being drawn to playing other games than having to pop this one back in. It’s not that it’s terrible; it’s not. It’s just “¦ well “¦ blah. I need to give myself a little more time on the learning curve, maybe, but it’s not sucking me in with the oodles of fun that other “Xtreme” sports games have done. I’m feeling much the same way about 1080 Avalanche, and I haven’t even officially called that for a review. It’s a beautiful game, and the more I play it, the more I recall the glory days of playing the original 1080 on the N64, but that’s not all good memories. There’s also the damn near Parkinson’s-esque trembling of the hands after trying to do a trick event and STILL not having a decent score. Does it make me a bad person for wanting to throw SSX:Tricky back in after playing these games?

I need to knock those reviews out so I can get back to playing some PGR2. I miss getting my ass kicked at that. Good times. Same with Links 2004. It’s really amazing how much abuse I can take when I can just talk with the people that are whupping up on me. It’s that anonymous silence of playing online with the PS2 that gets to me. That’s why I’m such a big fan of Xbox Live. It’s the first online environment I’ve played in where I don’t end up feeling like I want to kill someone when the game’s over.

The Boy is sixteen months old, and he has figured out doorknobs. Can advanced encryption techniques or my credit card number be far behind?

Here’s one of those weird things that just go through my head from time to time. If Freddie Mercury were still alive, I would’ve LOVED it if he had done a show with KISS. Can you imagine The Greatest Front Man In Rock And Roll History singing “Lick It Up” and “Doctor Love”? I’m don’t even want to think about him covering “Beth.” That would make me tear up.

Thursday: Crap. One guy “¦ ONE GUY saved Florida State’s ass last night from getting bounced out of the NIT. WSU up by 3 with 12 seconds left in regulation. This guy comes up court and shoots this INSANE off-balance 3-pointer from close to NBA range and hits nothing but net.

I considered summing up the game by typing “f*ck” a thousand times, but that’s been done.

But we gave them hell, BY GAWD. FSU’s coach said that the atmosphere was “as good as I’ve ever been in. I’ve never seen a crowd so energetic and with so much enthusiasm and passion in support of their team.” My ears are STILL ringing from that place last night. My voice is fried. I’ve been to WSU games before, and the only thing that came close to that intensity was the win over Creighton (when Creighton was ranked) earlier this year. Awesome.

Now, I could talk about how the fans are starting to believe in the team or how Turgeon needs to stay for a good number of years more and put the entire onus on the players and the coaches, but I feel like the real responsibility is elsewhere.

Students and Alumni of Wichita State, and interested people of Wichita: Your role has just been defined, crystal clear. Now, I’ve been around this college for many, many years; almost 20 all told from when my older brother started here to now as I prepare to receive my second degree. I’ve heard all the arguments: “We don’t have football.” “It’s a commuter’s school, not a traditional’ University.” “KU and K-State are bigger.” “We don’t have a real section of town for the University.” Irrelevant, all of it. It’s all ramblings from a segment of the University fan base that doesn’t want to get off its duff and fork over a measly 15 bucks for a game. Or worse, it’s ramblings from people who buy the tickets and then sit there like logs, or just don’t go to half the games.

What begets success? Good players? A good coach? I don’t know this, but I do know that a large number of the University’s “supporters” believe that fanaticism is only begotten by success. Folks, this is just the opinion of a group of people that want to have success brought to their doorstep, but don’t want to become emotionally involved in it. If that were the case, then fanaticism is just the logical end of being a fair-weather fan, something that I, and most real sports fans, abhor. No, fanaticism comes from elsewhere. It comes from that part of you that’s proud of your accomplishments. It comes from slogging through the hard times and coming away with a degree “¦ or two “¦ or three. It comes from papers and finals and weeks where you can count the hours of sleep on one hand. It comes from someplace other than just the sycophantic chase of success. To be sure, success helps people be less shy about showing their allegiances. Kansas State football is the perfect example of this. But fanaticism isn’t something that a team should have to purchase with an unreasonable degree of success. I was at several games at KSU Stadium the year they went to their first bowl of the Snyder era. The fact that they hadn’t done it yet was immaterial; the place was still electric. They could feel the potential. They suddenly had pride in their “backwater” school. That was over ten years ago, and they just finally won their conference this last year.

WSU basketball fans, let’s not wait for a Valley championship or an NCAA berth to get on the bandwagon. Last night showed what we, as Wichita State fans, are capable of when we get our hearts into the cause. My brother, who got one of his degrees from N.C. State, always would tell me “there’s nothing like ACC basketball.” Last night, we made that statement false. We rocked the Roundhouse as hard or harder than any ACC crowd could do, and we kept it up for two overtimes, almost three straight hours of noise. True, we lost; but we lost to a team out of the ACC with a winning record, and only because #22 had the night of his life. That 3-pointer doesn’t fall, and Florida State crawls back to Tallahassee knowing that they got beat by a “mid-major,” and one who’s fans can make the Cameron Crazies look like a bridge club. All that happened to us last night is that we got a scar, but it’s a battle scar, a scar to be proud of. And I’ll be proud to show off that scar to my children and my grandchildren someday.

True, we’ve got eight months to forget the legendary hysteria we caused and go back to our humdrum way of supporting the basketball team. But I have a proposal to make: Let’s not do that. Instead, let’s go to some baseball games, and not just the big ones. Let’s go buy some WSU apparel. Let’s start the speculation on how well Adam Liberty will run the point. Let’s start getting our season tickets for next year. Let’s start thinking up fresh ways to torment our opponents when they dare set foot in Koch Arena. Let’s plan on making every home game next season; whether it be against Kansas State, Florida State, Southern Illinois, or Drake; louder than last night’s game. We defined our own role last night: To treat every home game like it was our last.

Cripes, I need to get out more.

I have gotten official approval from Roni to acquire Shocker men’s basketball season tickets. Stand in amazement of the awesomeness of my wife. Remember that this is the same woman that BOUGHT my PS2 and Xbox for me and who played DDR with me this weekend.

I also got word that the guy we purchased the Chiefs tickets from last year is ready to make this a standing thing; every year we buy off his tickets for a game. You know, maybe being around about 30 and professional ain’t such a bad thing after all. You’re still young enough to enjoy all the stuff you like to do, and you’re well-off enough to actually do it. Cool.

So me and Veronica went and played DDR Extreme yesterday. “¦. You know, I’m going to save that story for next time, since I’m running behind this week (that, and Veronica wants to write her own account of the event for y’all). Suffice it to say that I now own a dance pad and DDR Ultramix for the Xbox.

News

Because We’re Cheap
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 March 14, 2004.
Here are the top 10:
1. Ninja Gaiden—Xbox
– “¦ and all was right with the world.
2. Mafia—PS2 – Probably all the people pissed off that they couldn’t rent Ninja Gaiden.
3. James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing—PS2 – Haven’t seen it actually in yet. We may have a Halo situation here. Stay tuned.
4. Need for Speed: Underground—PS2 – Ditto, or maybe I just need to hit different video stores.
5. NFL Street—PS2 – The Son of GLS.
6. True Crime: Streets of L.A.—PS2 – In the secret level, you get to beat up on the members of Black Flag.
7. James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing—Xbox – Raise your hand if you’ve had cybersex through Xbox Live.
8. Tony Hawk’s Underground—PS2 – Iron Man needed some love anyway.
9. Medal of Honor: Rising Sun—PS2 – “¦ and THIS is for Karaoke Revolution! *baddabaddabadda”¦.*
10. Manhunt—PS2 – What I REALLY feel like playing this morning.

The Northern Toehold Solidifies
credit: Gamedaily.com

EA’s invasion of our peaceful neighbors to the north officially began in earnest last week, as they launched their Montreal, Canada-based studio. There are currently 40 full-time employees and EA has an eye on 70 by summer time. They are also reportedly hard at work on three new strategy games, and if you know anything about EA’s strategy games, means that they’ve managed to export the suckiness.

“We have found a home in the heart of Montreal that we expect will be the source of great game content for many years to come,” said Alain Tascan, EA Montreal’s head monkey.

Maybe Not Best Left Forgotton After All
credit: Gamedaily.com

Atari and Stormfront Studios are working on a new D&D-based title for the PS2: Forgotton Realms: Demon Stone. It’s due out this fall and will run on an “enhanced” version of the Stormfront game engine. In the game, players will control a part of three characters — a fighter, sorcerer, and rogue — with the ability to switch between characters on the fly.

Gotta say, I’m a little down on any D&D game where they TELL you what you’re going to be. Some of us were just meant to be smart-ass half-elven thieves.

Anyway the plot centers around our heroes and how they completely messed things up by unleashing WARRING ARMIES OF DEMONS on their world, and now they have to find some way to put them back. Apparently, Buffy isn’t available in this game.

Free Speech, Be Prepared To Take It Up The Ass Some More
credit: Gamedaily.com

Just read.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has set up system designed to accept and track feedback from consumers who wish to register complaints about media violence.
Complaints can run the gamut from advertising and marketing practices to the “sale of violent movies, electronic games (including video games) and music.”
Those interested can lodge complaints using an online form, or by dialing 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). Complaints about television content are handled separately by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and can be submitted using this online form.

It’s things like this that make we want to go out and rent John Waters films.

Because We’re Spendthrifty
credit: Gamedaily.com

NPD Funworld has released the latest monthly videogame sales charts for the U.S.
The data covers the month of February, 2004, spotlighting top sellers by both platform and genre. Please visit the main TRSTS index page and select the appropriate pull-down menu in order to view individual charts.

Listed below are the top five selling videogame titles overall for February 2004:

1. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles—GC—NOA
2. NFL Street—PS2—EA
3. Metroid Zero Mission—GBA—NOA
4. Need for Speed: Underground—PS2—EA
5. James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing—PS2—EA

I wanted to make fun of these, but the only words to enter my head are, “how depressing.”

Some Gaming News That’s NOT Necessarily Depressing
credit: Spong.com

Knights of The Old Republic 2 is reported to be in the works, with some verification of its existence in the trade mags slated for this month. Rampant speculation (albeit educated speculation) is that there will be a prominent showing of this game at E3.

The only possible downside of this is that BioWare passed the production tasks off to “favoured partner” Obsidian. Of course, after KOTOR 1, If BioWare told me that these cats could walk on water, I’d be willing to believe them “¦ until their ankles got wet at least.

No, Really. There IS A Gran Turismo 4 Coming. No, We’re Not Kidding. Stop Laughing.
credit: Spong.com

The GT4 demo that’s been released in Japan for “¦ oh “¦ about eighty years now is planning to be released in Europe to try and convince people not to give up and buy an Xbox and Project Gotham Racing 2.

Still no U.S. release? Come on, we bring more bills to the champaign room than anybody. If you’re going to tease the rest of the known world, at least give us a rub too.

And It Wasn’t Even Colin McCrae 3
credit: Spong.com

Apparently, Codemasters went and got a game banned by the Chinese government. (Yay for Codemasters!) It was announced that the Chinese banned the Codemasters title Project IGI 2: Covert Strike (a game I’ve never heard of) because the game apparently, “damages national dignity and interests.”

They’re just pissed because they’re the bad guys in the game.

Sega: Alive And Kicking
credit: Spong.com

Sega isn’t ready to roll over and make Pachinko machines yet. The announcement being that the next generation of coin-op machines are well on the way, powered by Sega’s PowerVR.

In a press release on the issue, Sega’s recently-appointed head of arcade strategies Hiroshi Yagi said, “The inherent benefits of PowerVR, which are well known to Sega, will be utilised to deliver interactive experiences that will amaze gamers worldwide and continue Sega’s legacy of innovation and excellence.” He continued, “Sega’s new arcade platform, which will be at the forefront of Sega’s current board strategy across all video game genres, will deliver cutting edge gaming, exceeding any other videogame system in the world.”

Doubletalk, maybe; but they’re backing it up for the time being. That alone is good news.

Pimplicious

By the way, and I just feel like telling you this today, the term “pimplicious” was taken from a story told by my friend Ken Wells when he was working at the Kansas State University newspaper, the Collegian. One of his coworkers, who will remain nameless here for the sake of her anonymity, came in with a brand new coat one night. When asked about her coat she replied, “This coat is pimplicious. All I need are some boots and a bitch.” So there you go.

Misha, damn, I want to see this Knightmare you speak of.

AWill did double duty last week, and I got some hardware out of the ordeal. Look, we all know that I got the first ever Bronze Award just because I came out about my DDR experiences. If I could link to that award right now I would. (Worry not Alex and my gentle readers, I’m sure I’ll absolutely flood your screen with that award over and over in the coming weeks. I’m just the dork who waits till the last minute to do things so I can’t link to it this week.)

Even when Bryan is being a conspiracy theorist, he’s damn good at it. (I WANT to believe, Bryan.)

Chuck: Bubby Brister? I always thought I was Steve DeBerg. Huh.

Lucard reviews a Pokemon game. In other news, the sky is blue. (But if you want to know the real poop on how good the game is, check out his review. He will pull no punches, guaranteed.)

L.C., I have beaten Mike Tyson precisely twice in my life, once by decision, and once by knockout, and both times when I was a jacked up teenager that mainlined caffeine. I probably couldn’t even finish one round with him now.

Next week, stuff.

Until then, get some sleep.

-Cory