Bright Colors, Glam Rockers Sell Big on Rock Band & I’m going to Vegas babie! – Welcome to the column that is so proud it made a hundred postings that it just might consider blowing the paycheck on Morgan Webb and blow known as Dare to Play the Game.
Welcome to another edition of Dare to Play the Game. Believe it or not, I’m not starting with World of Warcraft in this column (that’s the second paragraph). No sir, the column has reached a milestone, 100 posts. Almost two years, I have worked my nails to the bone to provide refreshing points of view and talented humor. Or perhaps a whole mess of sarcasm. I do however have some people to thank for their efforts. Cause without them, I might not have had that chance. First, (why all of the sudden do I feel like I should thank the academy?), I would like to thank Jeremy for giving me the chance to actually write a game column on a dvd website. Whether he regrets it now or is raking in the cash, who is to say. Second, I would like to thank the dozens who actually read the column (or is it a dozen?). Without you, well without you, I probably would have found something else to do by now like review gay mini-series on the Here! Network & Wrestling DVD’s. Crap, I already do that? Sheeeeeet, nevermind. Lastly, I would like to thank my girlfriend Sarah, my love and my biggest supporter. She’s read my work, promoted it and even gave me tips from time to time on how to improve it. I’m not sure how she puts up with me, but she does it with a smile and seems to appreciate everything I do.
World of Warcraft time; 45/22/10. Yeap, I did it. I started a third character. See this is what happens when you get an extended 4 day weekend. I made a Blood Elf Hunter named Leifrick on Killrogg. I will probably go the Marksman route for the talent tree with Skinning and Enchanting for the professions. My weapon of choice currently? Two-Handed Swords. My first pet, I have no beeping clue. I’m leaning towards a Dragonhawk though since they run around Silvermoon a lot and have fire-breath. Unless I am able to find a bear or possibly a wolf somewhere in my area (Eversong Woods / Ghostlands). In other characters, Lantanador (Troll Rogue) is 6500 away from Exalted in Undercity and is finishing up questing in Stranglethorn before going primarily to Hinterlands. Talloween (Dwarf Priest) is being played despite not leveling. What am I doing with him? Professions. From Tailoring to Enchanting to First Aid to even Fishing, all are quite healthy for the level. So healthy, I will probably hit the max (225) for each of them before I hit the level min (35 for most of them) for artisan. I will level him, but I get caught up in what new piece of cloth I can tailor with or what I can enchant my items on.
I’ve changed format on this column several times, however one of the things that has remained constant is Morgan Webb. 100 pictures, many many different shots of Morgan. Even though it has become increasingly hard to come up with new pictures of her, I struggle on regardless. What started off as a harmless crush and homage has turned into a warm place in my…heart for that video game vixen. So I salute oh miss princess of X-Play, may you find your way into many picture spreads to come.
Rockband > ITunes
Motley Crue’s latest single has sold more over Rock Band than iTunes, according to recent figures released by the band’s management.
‘Saints of Los Angeles’, the first single from the glam rocker’s ninth studio album, was released over Xbox Live Marketplace and the PlayStation Store as downloadable content for Electronic Art’s Rock Band on April 15. A Reuters report revealed the song managed to secure 47,000 downloads on the Xbox 360 alone, whilst in the same period the song only mustered 10,000 downloads on services such as iTunes and Amazon.
It’s not the first time that a band has released a single over a game, with Def Leppard recently offering their new song ‘Nine Lives’ over Activision’s Guitar Hero III, and Metallica are rumored to be debuting tracks from their new album over Rock Band.
This makes me happy. I am one of those 47,000. Give me a track I can play and sing to for a $1, and chances are if I like it, I will jump for it. I’ve never seen the point to ITunes and usually would rather buy the CD on sale or used and rip the mp3s I need. However, this makes the song interactive, and I am interested in the physical CD once it becomes available. Basically, I’m the perfect sales model (in Rockband terms) and I’m not the only one. Because of this great news, more bands should follow suit and in quick order. However, hopefully they will pay attention to the pricing structure and try to stick new “untested” songs around the 80 points threshold. I wonder if Motley Crue realizes how many downloads they could get if they would just release the whole Dr. Feelgood album already. Well, they would get one for sure. I really want to sing “Sticky Sweet” and “She Goes Down” at the top of my lungs and I’m not sure why.
Square Enix’s 2007 financial statement indicates that the company is going through a rough patch. How bad are things? Apparently, there has been an internal shakedown going on. According to several company insiders, things are getting heated. Word has it that a fierce meeting was held over a month ago where the Square Enix honcho threatened to start axing employees if they didn’t (and we’re paraphrasing) “stop making games that only they wanted to play.” Wada is supposedly worried that the company’s games have become more and more insular, alienating itself from the mainstream. Granted, this is purely a rumor, but there does seem to be a huge dichotomy within the company’s products. You’ve got very, very casual Japan-only DS titles on one hand, then largely an endless stream of Final Fantasy spin-offs and remakes. Not exactly a balanced portfolio! Sure, Dragon Quest IX and Final Fantasy XIII are going to be huge, but neither game has a firm release date. Putting all your eggs in one basket, no? That, or painting oneself in a corner.
Yeah, let’s just say Square hasn’t had a great go the last couple of quarters. But what sector contributed to the dismal performance of Square? Well that would be the North American sector. In a basic sense, Square Enix has fell out of touch with the Western world. The public simply isn’t buying the farm when it comes to the Crystal Chronicles mess or jumping on board with anything stamped Dragon Quest on it. Personally, I think Square has pretty much alienated its American userbase ever since the PS2 days and that Final Fantasy X, X-2, XII bullcrap (and don’t even mention the online MMO nonsense). Dragon Quest VIII was nice, but it never caught on. What does Square need to do? I hate to say it, kill the Final Fantasy spin-offs and possibly the whole franchise. RPG’s are awesome, there is no denying that, but the Final Fantasy name is more stale than the bread on Walmart’s clearance cart. Something fresh is in order and it needs to look at games like Oblivion and Fable for true inspiration. Bring the fun back, bring back something us Yankees want to play. Oh and include Cloud, yeah it’s cliche but us western people seem to love him.
Color, Bright Beautiful Color
I don’t know what the hell is going on with modern game design and aesthetics. Remember those days when you’d turn on a video game, and it truly felt like you were being transported to another world? I remember having feelings of happiness playing games like Duke Nukem 3D or Mario64. Even with their simplistic gameplay and storyline elements, I honestly think I had more fun playing those games than playing any of the more modern and “immersive” games of today.
So why is that? I started to analyze this question and I narrowed it down to a few answers. For one, the storylines of today tend to be dark and depressing. Between being trapped with crazies (like in Bioshock or Condemned), or trying to save the world with a chainsaw and some bullets (Gears of War), it’s no wonder I find today’s games to be stressful and not stress relieving. But then again when I look back, these themes are nothing new. Wolfenstein 3-D had you trapped with Nazis, and Doom had you fighting in Hell with a chainsaw – yet I didn’t get depressed playing those games. So what is it about today’s games that is so damn depressing? Well, it finally dawned on me. It’s the damned color and lighting.
Game developers are always pushing the envelope in regards to the hardware wizardry that is available to them, and today’s consoles have some fantastic features when it comes to the lighting and rendering of realistic images. With self-reflection, bump mapping, pixel shading, high dynamic range, and every other buzzword at their disposal, developers would be foolish not to utilize these newfangled features, no?
Well to be honest, I disagree. Personally, I think developers need to get smarter about when to use some of these features, and when to opt for less realism. The main reason is because games that shouldn’t be depressing, are…
The excellent article goes on to provide many examples of this realistic grey area we live in these days. I happen to agree. The best example I can actually think of baseball games. Back in the Nintendo/Super Nintendo days, I played a ton of baseball games. From the RBI series to Baseball Simulator to Baseball Stars to even the first Baseball on the NES. The problem is once PS1 came along and we had these ultra realistic baseball simulators, I stopped wanting to play. Sure the fields looked realistic but I wanted the lush colors and simplicity of games past. Case in point, I was playing Baseball Stars 2 off of SNK Arcade Classics Volume 1 (Playstation 2) this weekend. I was having a ball of a time. (even if the music does get on my nerves) Is the game realistic? Heck no. Then what does the game have? Lots and lots of bright and fun color. The game is anything but depressing and has stimulating primarily colors all over the place. The article’s point about lighting is also well taken. If I see one more level where I have to spend 45 minutes with nothing but a flashlight fumbling around in the darkness looking for a stupid door, I’m going to scream. It’s not innovative level design, it’s being blind and lazy. If I want to play a level in the dark, I’ll look at naked pictures of Oprah Winfrey. Or worse yet, Dr. Phil, cause then I’ll wish I was blind and would never want to see ever again.
A Sudoku game? *cradles head and moans for the pain to go away* This version of the popular math puzzle was actually on the pc all the way back in 2006. It offers several variations including 4×4, 6×6 up to 16×16 grids of all difficulty levels. You can even create your own with background and tile themes. The 360 version will also have competitive and co-op online play. Co-op? Is this a Wife/Husband scenario in the making? “Put the 3 there dumbass” “Your the dumbass, you put 5 in the top right and 7 in the middle left.” Before you know it, chairs start flying and furniture bruises are the norm. Hey, I wonder if we can get the XBLA game banned if we show how it leads to violence in the domestic household. Unless you love Sudoku, stay far far away from this one. Just ask any marriage counselor.
Alright, way back in time machine release coming up. I love retro classics, but honestly I hope for games from the mid 80’s to the early 90’s. This 1980 classic featured 2 to 4 players (depending on upright or cocktail presentation) where you had forts or grids that were brick walls. These brick walls were broken down by a flaming ball. Eventually the wall would be broken enough where they could hit the character’s icon inside. The Xbox 360 version will add HD graphics and Xbox Live Camera support. However, when I hear Warlords, I still think of Warlords II Deluxe, a great little turn based strategy game on the PC. Anyway, this might be a fun party game diversion especially at the $5 pricetag.
Drugs are cool okay? Well not really, but Dr. Mario can make us think for a few minutes of gametime it is. Naturally, we are still moving pills in an effort to destroy “viruses” at the bottom of the screen. The title will support on-line play and you will be able to use your Mii characters instead of Dr. Mario if desired. There is a Virus Buster mode as well which uses the pointer function of the Wii Remote to move pills with up to four players can participate cooperatively. This is similar to the mode we saw in Brain Age 2 on the DS. Then we have a table tennis game, it’s cheap, it’s cute. If you need something to pass time and want to play the game the Chinese call “peeeeng pong”, then here you go. I could spend another paragraph on it, but you know what you are getting with this title.
Metal Slug, the original fast paced run n gun makes it to VC. I’m not sure exactly how I feel about this when the Metal Slug collection exists on the Wii (and the PS2). Is it fun? Sure, but I much rather have all of the games in the collection (including 3, hello fire breathing zombies!) than just one title. The other title is the NES version of City Connection. This game had you drive through a series of cities and paint every town white. Literally. Ummm, that’s called vandalism. The police were after you too, but you could jump and use barrels of oil to cause the police to spin out of control. The game was ahead of its time (1985) with music changes and different backgrounds for the little 8 bit title.
Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure
World Championship Cards
The Monkey King: The Legend Begins
Super Dodgeball Brawlers
Fab 5 Soccer
Meh?! Yeah, nothing to really see here. The Wii has a couple of disposable titles that one could possibly find enjoyment in but that is about it. The only possibly true gem this week is one Super Dodgeball Brawlers. Dodgeball on the NES was one of the most unintentional cult classics of the 8-bit system. To see it re-appear on the DS is cause for cheers even if they happen to be hesitant ones. But hesitant cheers on a rather bland week are the most we can hope for. Better yet, one might want to wait until next week when Lego Indiana Jones gets released. I mean really, what can be better than Indiana Jones mixed in with the zany Lego humor we saw in the Star Wars games? Not much friends, not much.
I played the heck out of SNK Arcade Classics Volume 1 this weekend. I amassed near 30 medals and the review will be in short order sometime this week. Anybody who had even a passing interest in any NeoGeo games from that era should pick this one up on Amazon (most stores are not carrying it which is a huge shame). I also played World Heroes Anthology and am afraid to say this is for World Heroes diehards only. I do love the series, certainly more than the Fatal Furies and Art of Fightings. But time has not served the series well and I’m not sure what to rate it at this point. A quick note for fans of the column. Next week, I hope to bring you the column from Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s not a joke, my real job is sending me there for a business conference. It will naturally depend on the internet connection there and how much time I can devote to writing the column. My girlfriend will be in tow, most likely off to various hotels and restaurants taking as many pictures as she can. One last note to all of you folks before I end this 100th column, thank you for reading. No jokes, no wit and sarcasm about something that happened 20 years ago, just thank you. I hope I can bring you 100 columns more and then some. Next week, we might even have a special announcement once I can secure the details. Stay tuned kiddoes and have a good one.
Kedrix of Aldrianian
(*The Forgotten One*)