Gamestop Shafting Employees, Guild Wars delay & the Final Roster for Legends of Wrestlemania – Welcome to the column that is the Santino Marella of the gaming community known as Dare to Play the Game.
My first full week back with my Xbox 360 has been an exercise in finishing up some old games. I now have every achievement in Fable II Pub Games with the exception of the locksmith achievement which is gained by unlocking all games. This will take sometime as Keystone is an exercise in torture. I am also halfway through the fifth episode in Lego Star Wars CS. I should finish the normal game portion by Sunday. The sad part of the debacle is I will probably only have half of the achievement points at this point. I could make a rant about why some games only give you such a small amount for beating the actual game but we don’t have that kinda time.
Lego Games seem to put an emphasis on obtaining that magical 100% and don’t leave many points to things such as beating the individual episodes. After Lego Star Wars is completed story wise, I am moving on to either one of the three games: Fallout 3, Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection or Mass Effect (Platinum Hits 2 disc version). The last two were bought this previous weekend and I am eager to play one of them. The Genesis collection looks amazing and I would like to play that one as many achievement points as possible. Unless I missed it though, there are no achievements for Gain Ground or any of the Phantasy Star games. What’s up with that?
Keeping up the cosplay theme for this week, we get this girl who seems to get some inspiration from Princess Leia when she’s captured by Jabba the Hutt. There is also that Halo stand-up next to her so we got the gaming thing covered. I think we all like to play dress up, but girls like this seem to go that extra mile. However, it makes for some very fine viewing material.
GameStop employees can’t get paper checks. True, most of the civilized world is on direct deposit by now. But for GameStoppers who aren’t, the only alternative is a cash card that nickel-and-dimes them.
Consumerist talked about this in the past week. GameStop, as well as many retailers in the same market, offer direct deposit and these “Maestro” cards, which are inconvenient to use and which deduct fees if you use it more than once in a month.
According to a GameStop employee who contacted Consumerist, the drawbacks are legion. Checking one’s balance can only be done over the phone. Literature that comes with the card encourages using it for everyday purchases, but is vague on what kind of transaction fee that incurs (from 25 cents to a dollar). ATMs universally consider the card out of network and pile on their own fees. You can’t get cash back on top of a purchase like you can with a debit card. And the only way to get money out of the card and into your account, without doing an ATM withdrawal (remember, ATMs don’t dispense coins or usually anything less than a $20 bill) is to do so at the bank level, which often incurs its own set of fees.
GameStop’s justification for this is that many of its employees are teenagers and do not have bank accounts. That’s a cop-out. Legal age to work in most states is 15, and while I don’t have stats in front of me, I can scarcely imagine that the majority of kids so responsible as to be working a part-time job wouldn’t open bank accounts to deposit their funds.
There is some dispute as to whether managers at the store level encourage employees to take the cards over direct deposit; the company line seems to clearly encourage direct deposit.
But either way, it’s total bullshit that a business of GameStop’s size doesn’t lay out the cash necessary to run a proper payroll operation to pay employees with a paper check if it’s needed, not some ripoff card that charges fees for doing absolutely nothing. I’m sure some white paper or business study out there applauded the beancounter who thought up this anti-worker “best practice,” which seems to have been adopted by many large-scale retailers because of what it shaves off the overhead.
This is just another way business in America reminds its workers that they don’t create or provide anything of value. They just cost money. The heck with this team spirit, team member garbage you hear in your interview or new hire orientation. And forget larger causes like health care or retirement savings, when business will chisel and cut corners on even the basic dignities of employment – like how you are paid. Until that costs too much. Then you’re fired. That’s the country we’ve built.
Most of the world is on direct deposit. I know I am with my job and since I pay bills on-line, it only makes sense that I get my check through direct deposit. However, I am also not 15 or 16 years old. I remember being about 19 or 20 when I had my first real job and getting paper checks almost exclusively. This was before direct deposit was used widely, especially by temp agencies. I can’t even imagine asking for my check and then given a Maestro card as a matter of convenience.
Maestro cards are outdated and they are a hassle. So are any special cash cards that don’t have a Visa or Mastercard logo. They aren’t even cash cards technically. But the reason they do it is simple. They are too darn cheap to have a real payroll department. The sensible thing would give the managers of the stores payroll training where they would possess the ability to print paper checks. Surely, a video game store should have access to a decent computer connected to their internal network where they could do payroll processing. Then again, based on the intelligence of some of the managers I’ve met, this might be a bad idea.
NCsoft saw increased sales but a 40 percent drop in profit this past year. Fallout from that includes the company’s announcement that Guild Wars 2 won’t arrive until 2010-2011.
Gamasutra eported that while NCsoft’s sales were up 5 percent year-over-year, including a strong December quarter-over-quarter profit increase of 60 percent. But overall, the delayed launch of Aion: The Tower of Eternity helped contribute to a yearlong slump for the Korean MMO publisher.
Guild Wars 2 was announced in 2007; a public beta planned for last year was scrapped and will be launched closer to the game’s release. According to VE3D, that’s 2010 to 2011 (although VE3D doesn’t say where exactly it got this.)
This week NCSoft shed 70 to 90 workers in its ongoing consolidation of its NCSoft West offices in Seattle. The company, however, expects strong growth in 2009, banking on continued sales of Aion in Korea and its release in North America and Europe.
Here is the reason I stopped playing Guild Wars, and no it wasn’t all because of World of Warcraft. I had a level 20 (max level) and all I would hear about is that they would have a Guild Wars 2 out with all of these great features. So I stopped playing because I thought surely I would want to jump on that game the minute it came out. Nothing came, for months and then I started playing World of Warcraft with my girlfriend. I never looked back. The game is a great concept but they have been stuck with an old engine and a confusing level system / expansion packs. Recently, I saw all three games and the expansion pack being sold as a bundle for the price I paid for the original Guild Wars. I think a loud and audible “Son of a Bitch” was heard through the Best Buy. By this time next year, Guild Wars won’t be excited about GW2, it will be a footnote in MMO history and probably closing up shop. *sigh*
Legends of Wrestlemania
A NeoGAFfer working from lists of previously confirmed characters, plus images he says will be released by IGN and WWE, has come up with at least 42 playable characters in Legends of Wrestlemania.
If you grew up in the golden age of pro wrestling – what I consider it to be anyway – there are more than enough names to take you back. It’s nearly a comprehensive accounting of the A-listers in the then-WWF from about 1985 to 1989, plus others.
The full list in alphabetical order:
• Andre the Giant
• Arn Anderson
• Bam Bam Bigelow
• Big Boss Man
• Big John Studd
• Bobby Heenan
• Bret Hart
• British Bulldog
• Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake
• Dusty Rhodes
• Greg “The Hammer” Valentine
• “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan
• Honky Tonk Man
• Hulk Hogan
• Hunter Hearst Helmsley
• Jake “The Snake” Roberts
• Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart
• Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka
• Jimmy Hart
• Junkyard Dog
• King Kong Bundy
• Koko B• Ware
• Michael Hayes
• “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase
• Mr• Fuji
• Mr• Perfect
• Nikolai Volkoff
• Paul Bearer
• “Ravishing” Rick Rude
• Ric Flair
• Road Warrior Animal
• Road Warrior Hawk
• “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
• Sgt• Slaughter
• Shawn Michaels
• “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
• The Iron Sheik
• The Rock
• Ultimate Warrior
On some levels, this is an awesome list. I really feel that they do include a lot of great names, but some are left out. From what I hear, any current wrestler will also be included as you will be able to import wrestlers from SvsR 2009. So who does that leave out. Well there are some obvious ones that due to legal issues probably could not get in. Ones like Mick Foley, Kurt Angle, Booker T or Kevin Nash. These folks are in TNA and most are in the TNA Impact game, big rights issue I understand that. However, where is Randy “Macho Man” Savage or Ricky Steamboat? They put on one of the best matches of all time at Wrestlemania III. What about Tito Santana who fought in quite a few Wrestlemanias and was always entertaining to watch? This year the Funk Bros are being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, wouldn’t it have made some sense to put them in this game? Finally despite their deaths, I would have loved to see either Eddie Guerrero or Owen Hart in this game. Their contributions to Wrestlemania and wrestling in general has been overlooked by this game and that’s a real shame.
Another thing that I do want to bring up, they really should have included a selection of jobbers to fight. Like the Brooklyn Brawler, Special Delivery Jones or one of the Moondogs. Heck what about the Red Rooster, oh wait isn’t Terry Taylor working for TNA? Ahhh who knows, suffice to say I am very interested in this game when it comes out due to the simplified button layout but it better have create a wrestler and it needs to allow for about 48-64 extra wrestlers or else I’m going to have a hard time fitting everybody I can think of.
This game originally started out as a bonus game. It was first found in the Sega Saturn version of PowerSlave and later the sequel (Zwei) was found in the Sega Saturn version of Duke Nukem 3d. So the developer, Ezra Dreisbach worked with Snowblind Studios to bring out an even more updated version for Xbox Live Arcade. The game is similar to Scorched Earth or Worms but the difference is that this is in real time. There are 7 differently colored tanks who have access to a bunch of different weapons. The landscape is ever decreasing and loses mass based on shots from other tanks or simply like sands in an hourglass. Eventually the terrain becomes flat. It’s a good game, but I have a hard time stomaching the 1200 points when it should be 800. Some people might go, well that is only $5 extra dollars. True, but remember they practically give Worms away and Duke Nukem 3d is 800 points. This is a bonus game that was found inside a copy of Duke Nukem 3d, I think you can see why 1200 is a bit too much.
It looks like a shooter week for the Wii. Evasive Space sets you as Konki the Stellar Guardian to prevent the universe from going dark. It seems that Dr. Dark Matter and his band of space thieves have stolen most of the Constellation Stones that make up the heavens. Using your Wiimote, you can guide Konki through 20 time and collection based missions. You will need to navigate through caves, space stations and asteroid fields while avoiding space worms, gaseous planetary rings and huge crushing gears. It’s made by Yukes who usually put out pretty good games. If you like shooters, you might want to give it a try.
This old NES game is actually a favorite of mine and was modeled after the Gradius series. Pilot Vic Viper through six stages of intense action where the environment constantly changes between the horizontal and the vertical. Certain enemies will release powerups which include either weapons, shields or some extra speed. Saving the planet has never been so fun. It’s a simple shooter really but the levels are well designed and the bosses look pretty cool. For 500 points, it’s hard to go wrong with this one.
Sing It: High School Musical 3
Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?
Street Fighter IV
Street Fighter IV
Grand Theft Auto IV: Lost and Damned
Sing It: High School Musical 3
Solitaire & Mahjong
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon
Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride
Unless you own a DS, there is only one game you would really consider this week. Street Fighter IV. The game should be the fighting game of 2009 with enough to win back the old players and pick up a few new ones. I still remember playing the arcade game over 15 years ago and thinking it can’t get any better than this. I also ran into the same problem with Mortal Kombat 2, Tekken 3 and Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball series. Umm wait. Anyhow, this should sell pretty well and would be a nice resurrection of the series. If you own a DS, you have a Fire Emblem and Dragon Quest game to keep you happy. I still have some small wish that all of the Dragon Quests (or at least the early ones) make it to a compilation disc someday. I guess there is no money in that. One last question for the week, the Wii has been out for a little while now. Wouldn’t you think there are enough Solitaire and Mahjong games out there already? For that matter, is there really a need to include motion controls in this one? I know, but every time I see the obvious, I feel the need to ask a stupid question or two.
Last weekend was also the first weekend when I actually played Rockband 2 (or any game of its type) with three players at the same time. We don’t possess a drum set or we might have had to go find a fourth. Our friend Naomi came over to play on Saturday night and I was treated to two drunk (or at least toasted) girls who decided to sing and play guitar a good portion of the night. I’m not complaining. However, it was pretty hilarious as we jammed and rocked through a variety of tracks. I sang a good portion of it but the ladies did pick up some tunes they obviously knew better or possessed a female voice. I hope to do it again as we are making good progress through the game and hopefully can accumulate 1,000,000 fans among other milestones. I think we have over 600k.
This week I also had the opportunity to try out Guitar Hero World Tour. I wasn’t really impressed. In fact, I found the game to feel vastly inferior to Rockband 1 or 2. It’s like they are two steps behind. Using the controller or clapping your hands together to activate star power for vocals? Are we assuming that the person has a mic stand? In Rockband, all you have to do is strike a long note. I haven’t found anything else in Guitar Hero worth the dough yet either. Sure, there is a nice list of songs but it seems like it is performing at Rockband 1 level or even worse. I’ll have to play around with it a little more but so far I am going to stick with Rockband 2 and have GH: WT as a mere afterthought. I don’t even want to spend any money on the DLC even though I saw half a dozen tracks that I did want to waste points on but now have held back. For those of you who have both games, let me know if I am just missing something or if I’m right on track. Take care kiddoes and have fun.
Kedrix of Aldrianian
(*The Forgotten One*)