February 2006 Archives

February 2, 2006

I Lost Weight!

It has been (about) a year that I have been on medication for having a low thyroid. I had to go in to the Health Center to get a new prescription and have a check up. I learned that I lost 15 pounds! This is great news. It means the medication is helping a lot. Now if I could just make the time to get off my lazy ass and exercise. Then I might lose even more weight.

Hooray for me!

February 4, 2006

Xbox 360 Review: Need for Speed Most Wanted

Thankfully taking place in broad daylight, Need for Speed Most Wanted takes the series out of the Underground, and result is the best title in the franchise since Hot Pursuit. The variety is incredible, and it's enough to carry the game all the way to the finish. Flaws are noticeable, though by no means severe enough to keep fans of the franchise from a purchase.

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February 5, 2006

I'm OK: The Murder Simulator

This is the game of the year, no questions asked. When Jack Thompson ran his mouth about he would donate $10,000 to charity if a company would make a game to his specifications, someone did. He said it was satire.

Now someone really did make that game, and it's hilarious. Created by "Thompsonsoft," this is the game for anyone who has followed the gaming violence situation with intense frustration. The opening cinema alone is worth the free download, PC only.

February 6, 2006

PS2 Review: .hack//MUTATION

.hack//Mutation is the second game in the of .hack saga, a direct continuation of the events portrayed in .hack//INFECTION and a building block for the future segments. Also included with the game is the second disc of .hack//Liminality, a short anime OVA that parallels the game events of Mutation by depicting a separate real-life saga in the same timeframe.

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Book Review: PSP Hacks

Months after the release of Sony's first handheld, people still found new features built into it they didn't even know were there. Those a little more inclined dug deeper and broke open the world of PSP homebrew. Whether you're playing it safe and using it as intended or breaking it open to find things to play with, PSP Hacks covers everything.

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February 7, 2006

Xbox 360 Review: Dead or Alive 4

Cherishing the hardcore audience the Dead or Alive franchise has been built on, this latest sequel strives to do one thing: alienate every mainstream gamer from ever having a chance at winning. For a lesser fighting game, that's all it takes to destroy the gameplay. For whatever reason, but possibly after countless aggravating hours spent on Ninja Gaiden, Dead or Alive 4 feels like 3-D fighting game perfection.

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February 8, 2006

Xbox 360 Review: Condemned

If Condemned featured any cute pink fluffy bunnies, it would show them with their heads off, intenstines spilled, and furry tails spread liberally across the room. That's the type of rabid violence Condemned feeds on, and it wouldn't be the same experience without it. While countless people speak out against the graphic violence in video games, Condemned is the giant middle finger pointed straight upward in their faces, showing how and why it's necessary.

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Xbox 360 Accessory Review: Mad Catz NFL Faceplate

When I first read about faceplates for the Xbox 360 I thought it was pretty dumb idea. Who would want to spend $20 to customize the Xbox 360? I was wrong about faceplates for mobile phones, and totally off base about UMD movies. So we will see how these Xbox 360 faceplates fare. After a few days, though, I like having my favorite NFL team emblazoned across the front of my 360.

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February 9, 2006

Dead or Alive 4 Progress

I picked up Dead or Alive 4 the day it came out. I was so excited. My first 360 game past launch!

I really dig the DOA games. DOA2 on the Dreamcast was one of my favorites for that system. I have DOA2 on the PS2, DOA3 on the Xbox and DOA Ultimate on the Xbox. Like I said, I dig the series.

My joy quickly turned south after playing DOA4 for the first time. It was not because it was on a crappy 27" SDTV, it was because I suck at DOA4! What the hell did they do to my favorite fighting game? The timing for counters and throws are now paper thin. The window of opportunity to perry your opponent in DOA3 seams like eternity in comparison to DOA4.

That was in late December. It is now February and I have completed all of the Story Modes, finished a little Time Attack, and spent many nights up playing DOA4 on Xbox Live.

I quickly fell from C to D, E, and even F ranking on Xbox Live. Wow that is far. I am now up to a D, and even had a C- for a little bit. I still cannot counter very well but I am getting better at blocking. And yes, I have every zero-point Achievement in the game. But I do have a gold star!

Was it worth the purchase? You bet.

February 10, 2006

Xbox/PS2 Accessory Review: NubyTech's Street Fighter Anniversary Arcade Stick

What better way to celebrate a 15th anniversary of a fighting game than with a limited edition arcade stick? Of the ludicrous amounts of commercially available arcade sticks, NubyTech's Street Fighter Anniversary Joystick is unmatched. It's a fine piece to show off, and even more spectacular to use.

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DVD Review: All in the Family Season 1

Rarely will you find a TV show that pushed boundaries like All in the Family. It's amazing how well the show holds up; it still feels controversial. Over 30 years later, it's impossible to imagine how it continues to push decency, but without Archie Bunker, the world would be a far less entertaining place.

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UMD Review: Doom

It took $70 million to bring classic game Doom to the screen. Where, why, and how that money was spent never ends up on screen. It looks like a cheap B-movie, hiding the creatures in the darkness even though the suits are spectacular. It also misses countless key details from the game, and as such, it has no reason to be called Doom in the first place.

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February 11, 2006

Taco Bell Hot Sauce Phrase Labeled Offensive

The short story:

Taco Bell held a contest for people to put funny slogans on their hot sauce packets. One of them happened to be "Not a flotation device," or other wording close to it.

Mildly amusing given all the warnings on other products these days, but apparently, this woman decided it was offensive. How? It's an insult to Mexicans who struggle to bring their families to freedom.

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Hidden Xbox 360 Achievement Points

Ken didn't believe me when I told him the Xbox 360 had hidden Achievement Points. Well, they've been found. Oddly, I've experienced them all and have yet to get my points.

February 14, 2006

DS Lite Diet Facts

For a system that looks so good, playing GBA games, quite frankly, doesn't look good. Due to the smaller form factor, all cartridges stick out an extra centimeter or so, so you're not likely to store a GBA game there in case for the off chance you decide to play it.
Source: Aussie-Nintendo via Joystiq

When the photo came out showing the GBA cart not flush with the DS Lite, I wondered if this was the case. This is bad design. It is not as bad as a GBC game in a GBA SP, but the GBA cart is small. Nintendo should have designed the DS Lite for a flush GBA cart.

Metroid Prime Pinball, among other games coming out, use the rumble pak that uses the GBA slot. So it is not just GBA games that Nintendo overlooked. The rumble pak for the DS proves that there are more functions for the GBA slot then just older games.

Dick Cheney Bitch

I haven't heard any good jokes about Cheney's hunting accident yet (though the details are funny enough in themselves, right down to his check for $12), but I randomly came across this posting on the Ann Arbor Craigslist:

Any Liberals want to go Hunting? Reply to: pers-133574441@craigslist.org Date: 2006-02-13, 1:14PM EST


Anyway I chuckled at it.

February 15, 2006

Xbox 360 Review: Quake 4

Back in 1996, Quake 4 would have been an incredible experience. Given that most of its mechanics feel like they did back in Quake 2 (which the story continues from), that's no surprise. This is an all-out frag fest, where more weapons, big explosions, and plenty of gore rule the gameplay. This might have worked on a basic level if the game was technically adept, but it's not.

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Sci-Fi TV Review: House of the Dead 2

Taking two of the writers from the original mess that was House of the Dead, this sequel that no one in their right mind would ever ask for ends up being mildly entertaining. It has one thing going for it this time out: House of the Dead 2 knows it had no chance of succeeding, so the entire movie plays out as hilarious camp. It doesn't always work, and it's still an awful piece of schlock, but at least someone had the idea not to take this seriously.

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PS2/Xbox Accessory Review: Street Fighter Anniversary Control Pad

For those not inclined to purchase an arcade stick nearing the triple digit dollar amount, there's a line of controllers that should suit them nicely. Back in the 16-bit era, Capcom offered up a 6-button controller for the 3DO, Genesis, and SNES. Up until this point, that would remain the most accurate d-pad ever produced. The Street Fighter Anniversary controllers come awfully close to matching them, somewhat gaudy design or not.

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February 16, 2006

Xbox 360 Review: Amped 3

Even if in some fantasy realm you managed to beat Amped 2, Amped 3 is not a game for you. The same goes for fans of the initial game in this series. As such, the radical departure from the realistic snowboarding action portrayed in the entries on the original Xbox has been wiped clean, and what we're left with is a goofy, strange, oddball, wacky, and easy-playing title that wants a bigger portion of the market to experience it.

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February 17, 2006

Xbox 360 Arcade Review: Geometry Wars

Every console needs a showcase title, and rather oddly, for the Xbox 360, that could be the $5 Geometry Wars. While photo-realism is a wonderful thing, rainbow colored particle effects can be just as impressive. This dual analog shooter shows why the majority of your time spent with the Xbox 360 could be in the Live Arcade.

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Hysterically Funny Christian Game Video

Good 'ol Jack Thompson posted this over at Gamepolitics.com. After seeing it, maybe it all makes sense why he's insane. He actually believes this crap. You have to love it when they turn Smash Bros. into something so brutal, never show any clips of the kids talking about any other non-violent games, and then end up spinning the whole thing into a tragedy about how the kids don't own Christian video games. Also note the total lack of mention of the other side of the research.

February 18, 2006

DVD Review: Emergency - Season 2

Setting up countless medical shows to follow, Emergency offers up a little of everything, and that's why it manages to hold up a few decades later. It's gripping, funny, and it always gives the viewer something new. It's a TV classic that doesn't get shown enough in syndication anymore, hence the necessity of TV DVD.

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February 20, 2006

PSP Review: Virtua Tennis

As long as it’s polygonal, you can’t screw up Virtua Tennis. The sprite-based mess that was on the Game Boy Advance and the PSP version prove that. Opponents of Sony’s portable hardware can argue for as long as they want about the number of ports being shoveled onto the system. They’re the ones missing out on one of the best sports games ever created, and this time out, you’re not stuck at home with it.

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Xbox Live Arcade Review: Bankshot Billiards 2

As the most expensive (currently) Xbox Live Arcade game, Bankshot Billiards 2 has to offer something to prove its worth. That it does, with wildly fun multi-player and numerous single player games that have brutally difficult Achievements to unlock. Sadly, the game is a technological disaster waiting to happen, with countless bugs, online issues, and various other annoyances that show you why this is free when you buy the Xbox Live Starter kit.

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PS2 Review: MVP 06 NCAA Baseball

Not one to let any game engine go unused, leave it to EA Sports to give NCAA Baseball a go after losing the third-party Major League Baseball license to 2K Games. Given the relative obscurity of the game when compared to college basketball and football, it's nice to see a niche audience serviced. It's a double bonus that the game is a near classic even though it's been given a new dressing.

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Xbox Review: Arena Football

Letting no football license escape their grasp, EA Sports gives us only the second Arena Football video game, leaving little memory of the Kurt Warner fiasco on the PS One from Midway. This is an oddball game of football, one that doesn't seem to know what it's trying to be, while missing numerous standard features we're accustomed too. It's rushed, sloppy, and limiting, but as an alternative, it's fun.

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February 22, 2006

Xbox 360 Review: Gun

Aside from dabbling in a few action titles, Neversoft's developmental history is filled with one name: Tony Hawk. If they need to continue on with the tiring franchise to create another game like Gun, every new version of Tony Hawk is small price to pay. Gun isn't particularly brilliant or original, but it eliminates basic annoyances and features a fantastic story that's worth experiencing.

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Xbox Review: Outlaw Golf 2

There's one thing you need to be aware of when picking up a copy of Outlaw Golf 2: This is one of the best golf games ever created. Yes, better than Hot Shots, better than Tiger Woods, and better than any other low level contender you can purchase for the Xbox or PS2. It's unthinkable that an offensive, abrasive, and M rated game of golf could be this successful, but it is.

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My, how sweet...

Project Maple Syrup is all I really have to say. Oh boy, only in Canada...

Though come to think of it during my two years here I haven't tried any yet. They got this maple beer stuff, too, and the idea intrigues me...

Call of Duty Ads Called Misleading

According to the complaining parties, Activision's advertising was misleading because "the graphics used in the [advertisement] were superior to that of the game itself."
Source: IGN

Now there is a revelation! You mean video game commercials show footage that looks better than actual game play? No shit sherlock!

Get ready for jaggies in your commercials folks. Especially if groups like the Advertising Standards Authority starts to scare publishers the world over.

February 23, 2006

Gamecube Review: Mega Man X Collection

If Capcom ever manages to enter an encyclopedia, the definition will be brief:

Classic video game company with a notorious reputation for milking franchises. Also see "Mega Man."

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GamerDad Interview Ignored In ABC News Debacle

Following on from our news last Friday about the ABC News debacle surrounding the supposed dangers of DS Pictochat to children, its come to our attention that ABC News were informed beforehand of the facts, but chose to ignore them and publish a misleading report clearly aimed at frightening parents and causing a moral panic.
Source: Spong

If you missed this ABC News (Channel 6) story spreading FUD you should read it. It makes the Spong article even better. This is just bad journalism folks. I take it fact-checking is not what it used to be.

February 24, 2006

Windows XP on the Intel-based Macintosh

We now have Windows XP running on the Intel-based Macintosh — as a guest operating system under the Linux version of VMware." "To anybody who has used Windows XP under Virtual PC on the PowerPC version of Mac OS X: you will simply be blown away by how fast Windows XP runs under VMware on the new hardware.
Source: Mac OS X Internals

This is great news. But I don't really want to jump through hoops like that. Hopefully running Vista on an Intel Mac will be a bit easier.

February 25, 2006

Talk about your oddball gaming stories

Those crazy Koreans are at it again. A war (really) has broken out in Lineage between Chinese "mining" companies and Korean players of the game. It's so bad, they're patrolling their borders in the game! Gamepolitics covered it if you want the whole story, but this is bizzare.

Sci-Fi TV Review: Disaster Zone - Volcano in New York

There's a crucial mistake to avoid when making a disaster flick. Don't use stock footage. Ever. It's a bigger crime than totally unbelievable special effects, which at the very least show a little concern and effort towards the cause of entertaining the audience. The cheaply titled Disaster Zone: Volcano in New York falls into both traps, though even without the cheapness, its unbelievable premise and aggravating directorial "style" kill it in the first few minutes.

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Nintendo DS Review: Age of Empires

While consoles are usually passed by for strategy titles (the number of releases compared to those on the PC must be incalculable by this point), the DS has a chance to make them work. Age of Empires is one of the first to give the genre a real shot thanks to the touch screen, though the compromises may be too much for those familiar with franchise's roots.

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Xbox 360 Review: Full Auto

Back when the Nintendo 64 and Playstation were butting heads, Activision's marketing team released an ad campaign for Vigilante 8. The tagline was simple: "Blow sh*t up." What a shame that line was wasted on a game where the only thing exploding were the cars instead of holding it back for Full Auto. That singular line describes this superbly crafted action title, its hook, and the appeal.

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February 26, 2006

PS2 Review: Outlaw Tennis

Even if the gameplay in one of the Outlaw titles doesn't hold up, the sheer variety and innovative nature of its gameplay modes will hold it all together. That's the only reason to deal with aggravations of Outlaw Tennis, a weakly strung together sports title with superb multi-player. That's the only aspect worth recommending.

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PSP Review: Midway Arcade Treasures - Extended Play

It's a depressing day for the industry when a group of homebrew hackers kick out better work than professionals. One of the PSP's best selling points outside of what the marketing materials say is the ability to run emulators and ROMs. For the most part, those games in their various incarnations run smoother, play better, and are more accurate than most of what's been inserted into this latest Midway Arcade Treasures release.

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February 27, 2006

Xbox Review: 25 to Life

Controversy sucks. That said, so does 25 to Life. This abysmal, cheap, generic, ugly, and flat out disgusting 3rd person shooter exists solely because Eidos knew it would cause the mainstream media to jump on it. That translates to sales, and the more people that play this one, the fewer gamers we have in the world. They won't stick around after this.

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PS2 Review: Marc Ecko's Getting Up

The great games are rarely the unexpected ones anymore. In an industry of hype, commercialism, and sequels, no one would expect a game slapped with Marc Ecko's name on it to be a success. In fact, no one did, including the mainstream gaming media, the mayor of New York (who wanted it banned), or the gamers themselves. Welcome to Getting Up, a game that has a single purpose: to slap everyone one of its detractor's in the face.

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February 28, 2006

DVD Review: *batteries not included

*batteries not included is one of those movies that’s fondly remembered by those who have seen it. It’s a movie that does little wrong, providing wonderful entertainment, a colorful cast of characters, and a family-friendly tone that’s hard to find anymore. It’s hard not to like this one.

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