Thank God It’s Thursday News Report 05.01.03

Happy May Day! Thanks for stopping by to check out the Thank God It’s Thursday News Report.

I’m reporting here from my room in Hicksville, NY, where Term Paper Week is indeed in full swing. Today (Wednesday as I write this) I had a Marketing paper due. Tomorrow, Management is due and I have a Finance test. Friday, International Business is due. Next Tuesday, Finance and another Marketing is due. And when all of this is done… Finals. Hooray for me.

In any event, let’s check out the news.

So maybe it’s not a joke after all…

Infinium Labs has updated its site to contain new information on the Phantom, the previously announced and scoffed at game system. Infinium Labs boasts that the system will come with a number of games, and that the Phantom will have its own online service, More information will be revealed at the upcoming E3.

One can’t help but be intrigued by the concept of the Phantom. This system has been talked about a lot, but with no real evidence of its existence to back it up, how excited can the gaming world really get?

Give credit to Infinium Labs, though. This is great marketing they’re doing – already, a buzz has been created about the Phantom before people even know what it looks like. It should be an interesting E3, where hopefully Pankonin and Stanley will get an up-close look at the Phantom.

Rumor has it (courtesy of Gamespot) that Factor 5 (Rogue Squadron, Rogue Leader) is working on a GameCube edition of Pilotwings. Again, look to E3 for more news on this one.

This would be great for Nintendo, as it needs all the first-party hits it can get. Pilotwings isn’t as big as, say, Mario Kart, but loyal Nintendo fans will gladly pick it up. Let’s hope the rumor is true.

In a story that really doesn’t matter much, but is pretty ridiculous, the singer of Deee-Lite is suing Sega. Evidently, a character in Sega’s Space Channel 5 game looks like the Deee-Lite person. The character’s clothing styles are similar, and the same can be said for – get this – their BACKPACKS.

As each of you ask “Who is Deee-Lite?”, they were this group who had one hit that I can remember and haven’t been heard from in the past ten years. The reason why you didn’t recognize the similarity in the game is because nobody cares about Deee-Lite anymore, and probably never did in the first place. She should be up for a Stella Award.

Harry Potter
EA Sports has announced the creation of a new sports franchise. Only it’s not a real sport. EA and Harry Potter have come together to create “Quidditch World Cup”.

I’m not kidding.

The game is evidently going to try to be a legitimate sports game. It has real positions and even national Quidditch teams who will compete for the World Cup. EA’s UK Studio (the same folks behind the great EA Sports Rugby) hopes to have the game out (on all platforms, by the way) by the holiday season so that every 10-and-under kid can put it on the top of his or her wish list.

I don’t really care about Harry Potter, to be honest. But this is really interesting news. We’re seeing EA go beyond its traditional sports realm to provide alternatives. The highly favorable reaction Def Jam: Vendetta got probably made this a much easier decision for EA to make. And just about everything EA does is great, so this one should be no different.

Grand Theft Auto
The word on the street is that Rockstar, once it is freed from its Sony exclusivity contract at the end of 2004, plans on releasing Grand Theft Auto 3 and Vice City for X-Box and GameCube. There’s no confirmation on either side, but you never know in the gaming world.

If this turns out to be true, it would be a pretty big blow to Sony. A huge number of people went out and bought PS2s just so they could get in on GTA. Obviously, people wouldn’t have to do this if the games were available on systems they already had. This is a year and a half away, remember, so anything can happen.

Slow week for plugs this week. But this week’s Goldie is Jeremy Peeples’ review of the Sonic Mega Collection. I liked the review, and I own the game, so that’s a plus. Not that I can play it with a broken GameCube, though. But read his review, get the game, and relive your childhood all over again.

Next up is the Silver, which goes to Kyle Jutte for his review of Phantasy Star Online, Episodes 1 and 2 for X-Box. I hate that you need X-Box Live just to play the thing, but I guess when you buy a game with “Online” in the title, that comes with a certain expectation. It’s a good review, and the game sounds pretty cool. My brother and I used to own the original Phantasy Star for Sega Master System, so it’s cool to see how the series has evolved. Kinda like in the way you look on for your old friends to see what they’re up to, but you never bother to contact them.

Now that the 411 Reviewers have gotten their much-deserved kudos (keep pumping them out!), we move onto the Bronze, which goes to Joseph Stanley for his… er… The Wipe-Up. Another solid job by Stanley, who’s psyched to be going to E3. But he’s really stressed out from work right now, so won’t you drop him a line with some words of encouragement?

Do the same for Lee Baxley, who scores the rarest of all medals (in my mind anyway), the Copper Medal. Lee’s the only one who’s ever gotten the Copper, this being his second time with the prestigious honor of having actually posted SOMETHING in another slow 411 week. His stuff is really good, though, but the reviewers deserved credit for stepping up to the plate. Read Lee’s Hump Day Otaku News Report, or else he’ll kill you.

Non-411 Link of the Week
IGN is currently running its Top 100 Games of All-Time. They’re doing 10 a day for 10 days. They’ll be on Day 4 as you read this, so head over there (after you’re done with me, of course) and get on the bandwagon early.

CD of the Week
Winner: Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon. If you haven’t heard this album yet, you need to. It’s just been reissued for its 30th anniversary, and it sounds great. A truly remarkable album where the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts.

Ironically enough, that very notion came into play while doing a Marketing project. It dealt with incentive plans of eight different companies, and each one was on a separate, unfilled page. I mean, how much can you say about Sun Microsystems tripling commission? I’d been listening to Dark Side a lot, so I got the idea to make it look really nice, add an introduction, and organize it in a really logical manner so that when you looked at the finished product, it was something more than 8 bad half-pages. And I think it worked. Funny how things can inspire you.

Honorary Mention: Tom Petty – Full Moon Fever. This album runs like a Greatest Hits collection. You’ve probably heard half the album already just from the radio, and the other half is better than you might expect. It’s a total summertime car album, and it’s only $10 at Best Buy, so pick it up.

Honorary Mention: 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of The Four Tops. Another CD where you know every song before putting it in. But while the CD’s main performers are the Four Tops, the real stars of the show (and every Motown hit, for that matter) are the Funk Brothers.

Who are the Funk Brothers? The DVD Standing in the Shadows of Motown will answer that. These guys played on every Motown hit record, and they sound great. You can’t help but appreciate the bass work James Jamerson does on the Four Tops CD, and the same goes for the rest of the band. Truly amazing.

Commentary of the Week
Nobody e-mailed me about the game sequel bit, probably because everyone was so preoccupied with that other thing. Next week, guys?

I want to save all that sequel stuff for next week – it’s going to be really good, with reference to movie sequels, music sequels (as dumb as that sounds), and who knows what else. So don’t forget to come back for that.

In the absence of any game-related matter to discuss, I give you the return of Random Thoughts. Enjoy!
– In 10 years, people will look back to this year’s Dallas-Anaheim series as the launching point for two great goaltending careers – Marty Turco and Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Very similar to the Allen Iverson-Vince Carter battle from a few years ago in the NBA Playoffs.
– Speaking of Anaheim and Dallas, did anyone else watch last Thursday’s 5 OT game and were sad when it ended? I was. That game could have gone on forever. The guys were still skating hard in the fourth overtime! That’s the difference between hockey and any other sport.
– The NBA’s decision to change the first round from 5 to 7 games is completely ridiculous. It’s taken away from the upset potential of the first round, and for what? So the Lakers can play longer? Please! You know, this is the third straight year there’s been very shady dealings on the NBA’s part. There was the whole Bucks-Sixers thing from the 2001 East Finals, then last year’s Kings-Lakers debacle. Now this. And people wonder why nobody watches basketball anymore.
– An underrated aspect of sports, especially in a playoff series, is the gamesmanship and use of the media. This almost always becomes a big factor. You’ll always hear a coach saying “We’re the underdogs” even if they’re the #1 team in the league. You’ll also hear people complaining heavily about a supposed ref bias, and that team always gets the calls in the next game.
– The Pavel Kubina slapshot that hit Scott Stevens was NOT intentional. How could it be?
– 50 Cent. I didn’t know it was “street” to sell your life story to MTV. It’s like that line from Rocky – “He don’t know it’s a damn show, he thinks it’s a damn fight”. Like 50 Cent actually thinks it’s his talent that’s “getting him over” as opposed to the aggressive marketing schemes that are really responsible for his success.
– That goes for about half the rappers who are successful today, who don’t tour, who spend their time making clothes instead of getting better, and who can’t cut an album without 20 guest rappers taking up space.
– Metalllica’s upcoming album, St. Anger, is bound to disappoint. Everything that’s been said about it so far HAS to be a lie. I refuse to believe that they’ve gone back to thrash, long song structures, and heavy double-bass-pedal metal (basically, everything that made them popular in the underground to begin with). If they’re right, though, this is going to be one hell of an album.
– I said it earlier on, but I’ll say it again – The Funk Brothers MADE Motown. And do you know how they got fired? Berry Gordy left a note on the door of Studio A (aka his basement) that said “Motown has moved to Los Angeles”. That’d be like Vince McMahon firing The Rock via FedEx.
– This was just a really funny line my girlfriend said while watching Dawson’s Creek last week (don’t ask). Joey’s boyfriend, or whatever he is, asked her to go to Europe. She was worried about the costs and having to go back to school in September with no money. My girlfriend yelled at the TV, “Who cares? The show’s getting cancelled anyway, it doesn’t matter what happens in September, so spend all your money!” This from a person who won’t watch the Jets with me because I “get too into it”. You had to be there.
– Incase anyone was wondering, the Internal Rate of Return is the discount rate that forces the present value of a project’s expected cash flows to equal its initial cost. That’s from my Finance 110 review sheet, printed in size 5 font so that it can pass as a one-page Formula Sheet. Heh.

I really hope you liked this column. Hopefully, you’ll join me next week as I stress over finals (6 of ’em… ouch) and talk more about games, including the piece on sequels.

I’ve got some good ideas for columns that I’d like to do once school ends, and hopefully they’ll get done. One is going to be an article about what I’d like to see in this year’s NFL games, and another will be for the Music section. It will discuss the Dark Side of the Moon-Wizard of Oz synchronicity, as well as a description of how well it works (better than you could ever imagine). Will these columns ever reach fruition, or will they go by the wayside a la Ron Yip’s piece about games that need to be remade? We shall see.

In any event, have a great week. College people, good luck on your exams and getting your papers done. High school nerds, good luck on the AP Exams. Those are a real bitch – I failed 4 of them. See you next week.