Gaming Zen 12-28-05

Greetings all. I’m Tom Pandich, and while I’m probably not bigger then Jesus, I most likely could take him in a fist fight. Seriously, pacifists aren’t the best people to bet on in any type of fight. Unless that fight is against hunger. Or the British. The British never really could handle a pacifist, could they?

So there’s some good news and bad news. The good news is that I did get a column out this week. The bad news is that this column got delayed by a few days so my streak of consecutive columns ends at one. That’s more then ok though. I have a legitimate reason why this column is late. The thing is that I was sitting around with my brother on Christmas Day. We were hanging out, having a good time spreading holiday cheer. Typically I procrastinate until the last minute to write a column. So there I sat watching Boondocks just about ready to write up a wonderful year end column that would move you to tears when I hear a crash. As it turns out, some asshole rammed his car through the neighbors mailbox, into our mailbox, and into our cars parked in the driveway. My car is completely f*cked and is going to need serious body work for my left front tire to turn without grating on metal. My parent’s van has the entire left side crushed. The Chrysler we own has a sizable dent in the back. Needless to say, no column.

That’s ok though. I’ve got a column for you right now closer to the new year. Let’s start out with a top ten list and move into whatever else I can think up while I’m writing.

The Top Ten

As you may have noticed, Inside Pulse Games is going through some serious changes. Almost all of the familiar faces from 411 are gone (and in Bebito’s case, forgotten). Alex Lucard won’t be writing reviews as often as he’s off tasting wine and baking cookies or whatever it is he does in Culture. LC and Williams are on hiatus. All that leaves from the old guard is Lee, and let’s face it, I’d rather take ten shots to the testicles then have to deal with Lee all the time. I mean I love the guy, but I can’t stand him.

Enough jerkassery. The new Kliq has got to set up some goals for the new year. I’m going to list out ten things that I’d like to see the Neo-Kliq if you will accomplish in 2006. As a preamble, I mean no disrespect to the other zones of Inside Pulse by anything I say. You guys have put together some great work over the last year and are really fantastic at covering all aspects of entertainment. This is just some personal musings that I’m putting in public.

1. More Retro Features: Lucard’s RPG countdown brought me to 411 Games in the first place. The Dreamcast feature won my heart. I’m a relatively retro gamer. I like compilations. I measure my gaming prowess by how many dots I can eat or barrels I can jump over, not by how many 50-50 grinds I can do on a single hooker. IP Games needs more of a retro looks at this and that.

2. Mark Needs a Column: Mark B. The newest member to the Kliq. He’s a fabulous writer who makes me feel sexy when I read him. That’s besides the point though. Mark is probably my favorite staff member because he has a love of awful games. I know, I know. Didn’t I write something a while ago how you should avoid playing shitty games back when Hot Coffee was something you could download on the Internet? Why yes I did, but B’s knowledge of terrible games dazzles my mind. Here’s what he should do. One game. Once a week. Even if he just posted one sentence about a crap game like Revolution X, my day would be made in the shade.

3. Personal Responsibility: I’m a slacker. I also have issues. I need to personally put those things behind me to give you, the people, a review of the newest Animaniacs game. On that note:

4. Fun Reviews: Let’s face it. Most games suck in some way or another. In being one of the two truly independent game sites on the web, (the other being Lee’s shrine to Sephiroth of Final Fantasy VII fame entitled “Dreams into Eternity: Love Across Realities”), we’ll tell you what games suck and where they suck. While I think painting a fair and balanced picture of these games is certainly a good thing, if the game flat out sucks, we should have fun with the review. Take Lucard’s Wrestlemania XXI review where he got the Macho Man Randy Savage to help him put it to paper. For 2006, if a game sucks, I want you, the reader, to get more enjoyment out of the review then you would out of playing the game. Which leads me to the next point:

5. Publishing Hate Mail: There are some games that while the majority of the game world likes, the majority of the IP staff hates. I think that if a review generates enough flame mail, we should feature all of the flames, unedited, with the author of the review responding to them. Think of it as a chance to get your voice heard beyond a 1 on 1 e-mail if it’s a logical and well thought out e-mail or a chance to give the readership a good laugh if it says “U 5UXXX0RRR555!!!!111”.

6. A Full Staff: Currently IP Games consists of five people who provide a regular amount of content not including yours truly. Of those five people, all of them have lives. Tom N, O’Reily, and Mark have full time jobs. McCullar also writes for every other section of Inside Pulse. Lee has his model train competitions. We’re all busy people. In the next couple of months, we should realistically pick up another six members just to handle reviews. Either that or we need to tear Lee away from his trains which would be sad for everyone.

7. A Return of Previews: PK, the big editor of the Nexus, said back in September that he was going to start assigning previews. At that point, we all turned and laughed at him considering there were about 50 games released that month. Now that we’re passed that though, a return of previews is a good idea. It’s a nice way to provide some content and context for a reviewer’s initial thoughts. Plus previews are a lot easier and shorter to write then full reviews.

8. More Public Personality: One of the things I’ve personally felt pretty bad in not doing is introducing you to what type of a gamer I am. Back in the old days, you knew where we stood on most games. Liquidcross had a hard on for short blue robots and whips and vampires. Williams loved looking like a fruit with his dancing. Lucard liked nothing (unless it was cute). I think that I need to make a better effort in establishing that I like puzzle games, can’t stand most RPGs, and would rather give up a testicle then play another game with rap music. Lee’s done a good job at it, but he’s been around forever. The staff needs to show readers what they stand for beyond simply not selling out.

9. Less Tolerance of Bullshit: The past few months have been kind of sucky for the game staff. We’ve been dealing with a decent amount of problems ranging recently from are Game of the Year feature to earlier where we gave into the demands of corporate entities. There used to be a time where the games section really felt independent of game companies, other game sites, and heck, even the rest of Inside Pulse. I feel that independence attracted me here as a writer and is what makes me want to keep writing here despite the personal problems I’ve been dealing with. I’d like to see the games site earn back the respect and dignity that it once used to have. When I got here, I felt like the games site was truly the pinnacle of all things Inside Pulse. Since then, I feel like the rest of the site has caught up and in many ways surpassed us. It’s time that we step our game up a notch or three so we don’t have to bend to management or the interests of other companies. Our independence from bullshit is linked strictly to how good of a section we are. Boss Widro shouldn’t mind fighting for something that draws in a large section of the readership.

10. A Return to Glory: Ultimately, I’d like to see 2006 be a true return to glory for IP Games. We have a staff of talented writers and there are many more willing to take up the cause. There was a time when games was without a doubt the reason other then wrestling to come to 411 and Inside Pulse. By the end of 2006, I personally plan on making that the case again.

Holiday Game-over

Good god I’ve picked up a shitload of games to play over the holiday season. Between gift cards to Best Buy, the massive sale at Toys R Us, and just finally getting a chance to put in some time with things I’ve acquired over the year, it’s been just a near nauseating experience. I’ll hit a few of the titles I’ve been putting some time in with briefly, but this is no where near a complete list.

Final Fantasy III/VI: Ok, I haven’t been playing this one. My brother has, but it’s pretty much all he’s been playing for the past three days. It’s been a while since the old Super Nintendo got such a work out. Final Fantasy VI is easily the strongest Final Fantasy game in the series. It’s story is compelling, funny, and tragic. Kefka is the best villain Squaresoft has ever come up with and the score is probably the best I can remember from the 16 bit era.

Mr. Driller DS: Who ever thought digging could be this much fun? Well maybe Dig Dug but forget about Taizo for a moment. Mr. Driller: Drilling Spirits is a great incarnation of Mr. Driller. It has tons of unlockables and what every great Mr. Driller game needs, *ahem* depth. Sure, Mr. Driller may get the tiniest bit repetitive after a while, but what doesn’t? If you have a chance to pick this up at Toys R Us for ten bucks, it’s well worth every penny.

Resident Evil 4: Speaking of ten dollar games, it’s Resident Evil 4. I Gameflyed this game a while ago and picked it up at the TRU sale. Here’s my revised thoughts on RE 4. I’m still not in love with the perspective. While it is an improvement over previous Resident Evil games, I still feel like the camera doesn’t have nearly enough freedom. Having said that, there are few games this year that made me feel as frantic as Resident Evil 4.

Guitar Hero: Sure, there aren’t really enough tracks and for every one song you like on the game, you can think of two more that should have been a part of Guitar Hero. This is still a bad ass game, pure and simple.

Pokemon Channel: I finally picked up Pokemon Channel and can positively say that half of the staff must have been smoking some serious PCPs to have enjoyed it so much. Pikachu is a little dick who won’t ever get off of his ass to go outside. All he ever wants to do is watch Meowth interview other Pokemon about being outside. Pokemon Channel is an incredibly boring and slow moving game that has sucked the joy out of my very existence. I don’t think I’ve ever disliked a game more that almost the entire staff enjoys.

Outro

In closing, I’d like to say a special thank you to Alex Williams. Alex is officially taking an extend hiatus to find a job and get married. I just would like to thank him for giving me a chance to write for Inside Pulse and being a big part of why I was hired in the first place. Thanks Alex. Both Norway and I will miss you.

Next week will be more of a return to normalcy. I’ll start to cover some news, talk about more games, and I might even do a plugs section. Probably not though. I have a streak of missing columns to keep!