October 30, 2007
Game Review: Guitar Hero III - Legends of Rock
OOOOH... a new Guitar Hero game! I can't think of any better way to celebrate the end of October.
No. I don't mean "rocktober". Get a haircut, douchebag.
Anyway, the great thing about Guitar Hero is that it's just like playing a real guitar! Well, not exactly. With a real guitar you can play actual music. And you can impress girls. You can't play music with a Guitar Hero game controller. Instead, you hit color coded buttons on a fake guitar, as correspondingly colored dots fly across the screen. So I guess it's not really like playing guitar, after all. But -- just like a real guitarist -- you'll find that you have to practice for HOURS every day if you want to get good at Guitar Hero. Plus, like a real guitarist, you'll get nasty finger calluses. Those always impress the ladies!
So, how does this new version of the game stack up to the previous ones? Well, if you liked previous editions of Guitar Hero (GH I, GH II, GH Rocks the 80s, GH Celebrates the Soft Sounds of the 70s) you're sure to love Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. Because it's the exact same game. I mean, the EXACT same game. The only difference is that they've introduced some new songs. But, looking over the game's song-list, you've got to wonder if they're running out of rock-worthy tunes to include in these games. Sure, Scorpions' "Rock You Like a Hurricane" is undeniably awesome; and who wouldn't want to "play" the guitar solo from Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle" (the first hair metal anthem based on the psychological writings of Carl Gustav Jung-le). But some of these tracks are pretty marginal. I've never heard of the band Priestess, nor the band AFI. And, based on the tracks I've heard on GH III, I've decided to continue not having heard of them. Furthermore, the game features a "special guest appearance" by washed-up Poison vocalist/reality show participant Bret Michaels. With starpower like this, I've gained new appreciation for the nameless studio musicians who recorded all the music for previous versions of the game.
Don't get me wrong. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, is still an entertaining game. It does, in fact, rock. It just doesn't RAWK. For this reason, I can only give the game four Joeys. HARD ROCKING JOEYS.
These Joeys are rocking on the inside
April 25, 2007
Curse of the Madden
Congrats and kudos to Vincent Young, Jr.! This Tennesse TItans quarterback will grace the cover of Madden '08, the next installment of Electronic Arts' popular NFL Football game. Being selected for the cover is a great honor. Too bad it is certain to DESTROY Mr. Young... and everyone he loves.
You see, bad things happen to Madden coverboys. Very bad things. Superstars become third-stringers, once promising careers get relegated to the jock-strap hampers of football history. This phenomenon is known is the Madden Curse -- and it's for real.
I respect your opinion, Vince. Really, I do. But you know what happens to people who "don't believe in curses"? In my experience, they get killed by mummies. Ancient Evil Mummies. If curses weren't real, people wouldn't believe in them (Same logic applies to Sasquatch, Flying Saucers and Norwegians). And, in the particular case of the Madden Curse, there's a long record of evidence backing it up. Still don't believe me? Let's look at who's been featured on past Madden covers, and what horrible fate befell them.
Shaun Alexander (2007): After a record setting 05-06 season, Shaun Alexander won the Madden cover honors for the 07' edition. And then the UNTHINKABLE happened: Alexander suffered an injury. The Seahawks running back broke his foot, missing six starts. What are the chances that an NFL running back would miss playing time due to an injury? Obviously it was the Curse!
Donovan McNabb (2006): After appearing on the Madden cover, McNabb had to play on the same team as Terrell Owens -- for the second year in a row! Therefore, we're not talking about the limited edition *Good Citizen* model T.O. from 2005, but rather the *Psycho Jackass* '06 model. Being forced to deal with the douchebaggery of Terrell Owens -- now THAT'S a curse any way you slice it.
Ray Lewis (2005): The first defensive player ever to land his mug on the Madden cover, Ray Lewis suffered terribly for this groundbreaking appearance. The day after EA released the game, Lewis came down with a wicked hemorrhoid (ouch) that could only be treated by rectal surgery (OUCH!!!). Though it was Lewis's face that made the cover, it was his ass that paid the price.
Michael Vick (2004): Michael Vick is the only athlete who has lent his likeness to the Madden cover and avoided any unfortunate consequences. HOWEVER, Vick's alter-ego, Ron Mexico wasn't so lucky. During the '04 season, Mr. Mexico sought treatment for Herpes, Gonorrhea, Syphilis and a particularly nasty case of Tijuana Crotch-Rot. Sure, some might say that Vick's predilection for promiscuous sex with questionable women might have had something to do with these medical issues. But if every NFL player who behaved like Vick had the same kinda luck vis a vis social diseases... well, let's just say that Penicillin-ade would have replaced Gatorade as the official drink of the league long ago.
Daunte Culpepper (2002): For Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper, the Madden Curse took effect the moment he agreed to put himself on the Madden '02 box. Madden 2002 was crap. CRAP! It was the same game as Madden 2001, with slightly better graphics. Total ripoff. Culpepper's reputation will forever be tarnished by his association with this piece of worthless shovelware.
Eddie George (2001): After Electronic Arts honored George with the Madden 2001 cover, the Tennessee Titans RB accidentally decapitated himself with a pair of rusty garden shears.
Athletes who ignore the ancient and terrifying power of the Madden Curse do so AT THEIR PERIL. In the long history of the franchise, only two individuals have truly avoided this curse. Barry Saunders cheated his fate by spontaneously retiring from football in 2000, shortly after the game was released. Other than Saunders, the only other person to beat the curse was John Madden himself (who appeared on the cover of every edition of the game before 1998). The fact that the dark magic of the curse could never affect Madden is yet more proof of what I've been saying for years: that John Madden is, in fact, the Anti-christ.
February 01, 2007
Review: Microsoft Vista
Microsoft, the company that brought us Windows, the XBox and (from what I've read) the Holocaust, has a brand new release: Vista! Since no one else seems to be reviewing it, I figured I'd give it a test drive and see what all the fuss is about.
Selecting a Vista
I've backed up all my data, cleared my schedule for the next two weeks and put a local suicide hotline on speed-dial. I'm ready to GET MY VISTA ON! But first I must select which version of the software I'm going to buy. You see, Vista comes in several different flavors or "editions.". No matter who you are, there's a version of Vista that's right for you! The deluxe version is called Windows Vista ULTIMATE and it costs $400. For that kind of money Bill Gates better come to my house, install the software himself, then cook me a nice dinner. And after that, he better put out. There are, however, more economical options. The cheapest is a budget version called "Windows Vista Home Basic", which is almost entirely functional. For the purposes of this review, I selected the "Urban Bling Edition". It comes with a big ass gold chain with the Windows logo presented in diamonds and rubies! PIMPTASTIC.
The installation process for Vista is pretty straightforward. Just pop the disc in, enter your name, address, email, home phone, cell phone, fax number, registration code, confirmation code, social security number, image scans of 3 photo IDs, ATM pin number, your mother's maiden name, the name of your first pet, date of birth, date of conception, place of conception, and your favorite pizza topping. That's all it takes to begin the process of initiating the Vista installation sequence. After your personal data is verified (48-72 hours, tops), the installation is complete!
Now begins the process of ACTIVATION.
To activate Vista, you must undergo retinal and thumbprint scanning -- a standard security measure. Well, it's standard if you work for the CIA. Somewhat less common is the additional requirement that you supply tissue, blood and stool samples. Admittedly, this an annoyance, though Microsoft does provide the necessary swabs, pipettes and sterile collection trays necessary for the task.
The Vista Experience
Finally, time to fire up Vista and see if it lives up to the hype! Though, to be perfectly honest, I didn't read much of the pre-release press on this software. I'm not even sure what Vista is FOR.
After messing with it for a few hours, I get the feeling that Vista is one of those Massively Multiplayer Online Timesuck Games. Initially, the user is cast in the role of some hapless office drone. The game simulates a suite of office software with staggering realism. The spreadsheet and word processor "levels" are so convincing... well, let's just say you won't be needing a boss key when you play Vista at work!
Vista features sandbox-style gameplay. Very open-ended... almost to a fault. What the hell am I supposed DO in this game? Even after hours of play, I hadn't made any progress toward my mission objectives. Nor had I determined what those mission objectives WERE. According to the text on the Vista box, your mission has something to do with "productivity". HELLO, IF I WANTED TO BE *PRODUCTIVE* I WOULDN'T BE FUCKING AROUND WITH WINDOWS! I did locate a rather entertaining mini-game which involved clearing a virtual minefield... but even that got old pretty quick.
Ultimately, Microsoft Windows Vista is a disappointment. After all the hype, I expected more: explosions, virtual reality goggles, sexy dancing girls, a cock-fighting simulation. All I got was this pointless game that simulates the work-life of some dull middle-management suit-drone.
Honestly... if I wanted to spend my days pretending to work, I'd go out and get myself a JOB.
January 04, 2007
Game Review: ComeOutPoker.com
As I've mentioned before, I like to play poker on the internet. It's fun, and if you play it at the high-roller stakes I'm accustomed to, you can win the sort of money you'd pull down working the deep fryer at a 2nd tier chain restaurant. Like Bennigans or T. J. McGristles.
The site I currently play is OK, I guess... but it's a little drab. I look at the virtual poker tables and wonder: Where's the flair? Where's the fabulousness? Where's the GAY?
Well, it's right here: ComeOutPoker.com. As the name suggests, this is the first online poker room for gays, lesbians, and the transgendered. Some might wonder if there's really a market for Gay Poker on the Internet! I think there is. Gays already have their own bars, their own gyms and the entirety of American musical theater. Why NOT a gay-friendly online card room?
I'm not gay myself, but I must admit... I am a little gay-poker curious. I'm particularly intrigued by the special rules this sites uses in their poker games. They have introduced a unique varient of Texas Hold'em called ComeOut Hold'em. The main difference between this game and regular poker: in this gay version, STRAIGHTS NEVER WIN! Hahahahaha! Get it? NO STRAIGHTS. ROFLOLZ!!! This is clearly the gayest version of poker ever invented. It occurs to me, though... it could be GAYER.
Getting rid of the straights was an excellent first step in gaying up poker. But let's take it a step further. As most of you know, Texas Hold'em is a game in which each player is given two cards. The most powerful starting hand a player can be dealt is a pair of aces (also known as "bullets" or "pocket rockets"). Sounds a little too hetero to me. In a truly gay poker variant, the best starting hand should be a pair of queens. OBVIOUSLY. So queens should be ranked above both aces and kings. For that matter, jacks should also be ranked higher -- unlike the manly Kings, the sexuality of Jacks has always been a little ambiguous.
With straights out of the game, straight flushes must also be eliminated -- that's the strongest hand you have when playing the hetero version. Therefore, the best hand you can get in a gay-poker game will be 4 of a Kind. From now, we'll refer to this hand as a "Turkish Bathhouse". Three of a Kind will be called a "threesome" and Full Houses will be known as a "prison shower". Flushes can be renamed as... I don't know, "Barbra Streisand" or perhaps some cute euphemism for sodomy (both popular amongst gays, if Will and Grace taught me anything).
Poker is one of the world's great games... and gay poker is certain to be one of the world's great GAY games, right along with Cricket and Wrestling (both professional and amateur). I certainly wish ComeOutPoker great success. If they can make gay poker work, there's countless other games or sports that could benefit from a process of gayification. Imagine gay gymnastics, gay figure skating, gay women's professional basketball. No doubt, the future of sports can only get gayer!
I give ComeOutPoker the highest rating any gay poker site can receive: 5 Pink Texas Hold'em Playing Joeys (in a Cowboy Hat).
September 13, 2006
Fun and Games on the iPod
I like to play games. I'm a gamer. And, since I don't really enjoy the company of "other people", I prefer games that I can play alone. Back in high school, many of my classmates commented on how much I like to play with myself. What can I say... guilty as charged!
And this is a great time to be a solitary gamer. Why? Because games are everywhere! I can play solitaire on my computer, my cell phone, my toaster and on several pairs of boxer shorts that I own. Yet... there is one device I own that has remained frustratingly gameless. My iPod. When I finally purchased my first iPod last month, I was SHOCKED to discover that it did nothing but play music. I couldn't score touchdowns on it, couldn't kill aliens or simulate ancient military campaigns. I couldn't even collect gold coins! I very nearly threw my iPod down the garbage disposal. Good thing I didn't! Yesterday, the iTunes Music Store started offering games. Games... FOR MY iPOD!!! Finally, I can stop listening to all this stupid music and start playing some stupid games!
However, looking through the available games, I'm a bit underwhelmed. Tetris and Pac-Man are classics, I guess, but I've already played those a MILLION times. Mahjong is boring and Texas Hold'em is only fun if you're drunk and playing for real money. Then there's the price. Each game costs $5. WTF! For $5 dollars I could buy a six pack of beer... or two six packs of really crappy beer! Can these iPod games really provide more entertainment than good old fashioned alcohol? I doubt it.
Though I can't bring myself to pay for these iPod games, I still feel I'm entitled to a quality gaming experience on my personal music player. Therefore, I have invented some SUPER FUN games that anyone can play on their iPod... and they are totally free! If you're a cheap bastard who loves games (like me!), I'm certain these games will provide you with hours of marginal entertainment:
iPod Karaoke: On my iPod, I keep a special playlist of songs I like to sing in the shower. There's lots of Journey, REO Speedwagon, Hilary Duff. I've discovered that the only thing more fun than singing these songs in the shower is singing them as loud as I can when I'm out with my iPod. I generally play this game when I'm shopping at Wal-Mart, and I score points every time someone shoots me a dirty look. I score LOTS of points.
John Mayer Russian Roulette: In order to play, you must upload one John Mayer song onto your iPod. To start the game, you will put your player into random "shuffle" mode. Then, you will hit play and press the Track Forward button 10 times. If the John Mayer track is randomly selected, you are required to destroy your iPod immediately with a sledgehammer. Either that or be forced to listen to it.
Dance! Dance! iPod-lution: This is the perfect game for those who listen to their iPod in public places. Again, you'll need to set your pod to Shuffle. This time you are going to load a few dozen RUMP SHAKIN' BOOTY ANTHEMS into your library. Personally, the best collection I've found is on a CD called Booty Jams.
If you wish to double up on the Booty, you might also enjoy Monster Booty, featuring Baby Got Back, Rump Shaker, and (one of my favorites): Wiggle It. The game is very simple: every time one of these special booty tracks comes up in the shuffle, you are required to SHAKE WHAT YO MAMA GAVE YOU! Doesn't matter where you are: at work, on the bus, enjoying a romantic meal at the Olive Garden -- you must jump up and shake that ass until the song is over or until you are asked to leave the Olive Garden (as I often am). If you don't know how to dance, you can pick up some Phat Moves from this classic video by Freak Nasty.
You don't need to pay $5 to enjoy games on your iPod. All you need is a little imagination and a total lack of dignity and self-control. Have fun!
May 12, 2006
E3 Video Game Report
Last time I counted, there were precisely 1,348,662 web sites that cover the exciting world of video games. And in the time it took me to type that last sentence, it's likely that another 25-50 sites popped up. According to my projections, by the year 2011, every single electron in the universe will be used for internet video game coverage. Sadly, this will leave no spare electrons for video games. Or, for that matter, sentient life forms who might want to play video games.
In an effort to hasten this, the inevitable heat death of the universe, I've decided to join the ranks of the video game pundit-ocracy. Of course, some of you may question my qualifications -- and you'd be right to do so. I must admit, I don't actually play video games. I've always felt my time could be better spent reading books. SHUT UP I'M NOT JUST PRETENDING I READ BOOKS SO PEOPLE WILL THINK I'M SMART. Though my video game knowledge may be inadequate, I do have the ability to be extremely critical of things I know virtually nothing about. From what I've read of "video game journalism", I should do just fine.
Obviously, there could be no better time to start covering Interactive Entertainment than right now, during the 2006 Electronic Entertainment Expo. All the video game companies have gathered in Los Angeles to hype their upcoming products - and there's nothing gamers enjoy more than a video game that hasn't been released yet. You see, we video game journalists are a FORWARD thinking people. Our favorite games are the ones that exist only in our brainspace -- a magical realm constructed from leaked screenshots, vague press releases and good old fashioned speculation. Just as video games are more fun than "real life", speculation is more fun than reporting "real facts".
Anyway, I've browsed through the offerings at E3 and found a few "next-gen" games that are truly innovative. I believe these games will revolutionize (or should I say "Wii-ize"?) the way pasty friendless youths fill time between atomic wedgies and Star Trek: The Next Generation reruns. Check them out!
Title: Firefighter 360
Platform: XBOX 360
It took a national catastrophe -- magnitude 9/11 -- to draw our attention to the sacrifices made by our nation's firefighters. Yet, even after the twin towers fell, firemen and firewomen remain conspicuously absent from interactive media. Think about it: how many video games have allowed players to control a police officer, secret agent, soldier or Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve? Too many to count. And how many have allowed you to control a firefighter? None. Until now! Microsoft's Firefighter 360 is the first game that provides a thrilling virtual firefighter experience. Everything is in this game, from forest fires to office fires to adorable kitty cats stuck in trees (that is, adorable kitty cats that have been set on fire). And if you like
hoes hose, this game has plenty of them it! Though there is a stunning depth of gameplay, I am most excited about the special "360 Mode", in which you drive around a suburban neighborhood, putting out houses that have caught fire due to faulty XBOX 360 power supply units. The graphics in this mode are so realistic, you can almost FEEL THE HEAT from the virtual flames. Just make sure that the flames are on your TV and not in the area surrounding your actual XBOX power supply. Those things do get a little warm.
Title: Grand Theft Auto 4: Grand Theft Console
Platform: Playstation 3
Gaming fans were shocked (SHOCKED!) to discover that Sony Playstation 3 would cost $500 for the entry level unit. Very pricey! In fact, the console is so expensive, many gamers may not be able to afford it. This situation is actually quite ironic, because one of the launch titles for the PS3 could teach less affluent gamers how to acquire the console without actually getting "a job".
In Grand Theft Auto 4: Grand Theft Console, you play a delinquent teenager who steals cars, runs over cops, and beats prostitutes to death with a baseball bat, just so he can afford to buy a new video game console. Of course, the game doesn't end once he gets the console. He still needs money for games, for Blu-Ray DVDs, for surround sound audio and a sweet Plasma HDTV. As the bodycount elevates, your character's home entertainment system expands. Will this teenage thug be able to kill enough people to afford next-gen entertainment? Find out when the PS3 launches this November!
Title: Wii TV
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Though Nintendo's next-gen console, the "Wii", may lack some of the graphics processing power of the 360 and the PS3, it makes up for it with an innovative control interface. The Wii boasts an advanced motion-controller that looks very much like a remote control.
Though most of the Wii launch titles will utilize the unique design of this controller, no game makes better use of it than Wii TV. This game is the very first next-gen Television Watching Simulator. When you start the game, you design a character and a sofa for that character to sit on. When the game starts, you use your Wii controller to control the remote control that controls the screen watched by the Virtual TV Watcher you are watching watch TV on your screen. Think of this game as a grown-up version of Pokemon Channel for the Game Cube. And if you're over the age of 12 and have actually played Pokemon Channel, think of getting, as they say, a life.
If E3 2006 is any indication, next-gen video games will bring countless hours of blissful joy to everyone. Well... at least to everyone with lots of disposable income, plenty of free time and no real social life.
March 02, 2006
Game Review: Sudoku
Six months ago, if you had asked me what "Sudoku" was, I would have guessed that it's something you might order at a sushi restaurant; or perhaps some form of ritualized suicide. Maybe it refers to a series of comic books in which saucer eyed schoolgirls get brutally raped by demonic tentacle creatures. (Did I miss any crass Japanese stereotypes there? No... I think that pretty much covers it.)
Anyway, Sudoku has come a long way in the last few months. It's EVERYWHERE now! You can't open a newspaper or even walk through the Wal-Mart checkout line without seeing a Sudoku puzzle. In case you are still unaware, Sudoku is a puzzle game in which players must fill numerals into a 9x9 grid according to certain esoteric rules. And what could be more fun than filling numbers into a grid? Wait... I think I know the answer to that question:
QUITE LITERALLY ANYTHING.
Let me ax you something: What part of NUMBER or GRID sounds like fun to you? When I think of an activity involving numbers and grids, this is what comes to mind:
Here's some math that any Sudoku player should appreciate: Numbers + Grids = Spreadsheets = Accounting = NOT FUN.
Really, if I was the sort of person who likes to "relax" with math puzzles, I would have elected to grow up in a country where children actually learn math. And that country sure as hell isn't America. In reality, we American gamers are very easy to please. Give us a simulated army of space nazis and some virtual machine guns to slaughter them with - and we're happy!
Honestly, if I wanted intellectual stimulation I'd go watch television. I give the game of Sudoku zero Joeys.
(this is where the Joeys would be if I had awarded this game any Joeys - which I didn't)
November 22, 2005
Game Review: 50 Cent - Bulletproof
Getting shot nine times was just the beginning.
I remember when rappers were all about killing other rappers. And police officers! But that was before the emergence of 50 Cent. "Fitty" showed us that anyone can go around shooting people - but it takes a real man to get shot - over and over again.
Think about it: Tupac got shot. So did Biggie. And don't forget Jam Master Jay. But can you name any rappers that actually shot someone else? The first one that comes to mind is an MC called "Shyne". Never heard of him? He's the one who took the fall when Sean "P Diddy (or whatever the fuck he's calling himself this week)" Combs decided to shoot up an NYC nightclub. Basically, Shyne was Diddy's bitch - and his album flopped. Old school rapper Slick Rick also shot some people, and it didn't do much for his career either. Right now he's just trying to avoid getting deported. So listen up kids: if you want to be a famous rapper when you grow up, don't go around shooting people. Instead, try to get yourself shot... or at least stabbed.
50 Cent has been shot, stabbed - I heard he was even decapitated a couple of times. As a result, not only is the man a famous rapper, but he's got his very own video game. The game is called 50 Cent: Bulletproof... and boy is it awesome! Rappers have put out video games before, but never like this. 50 Cent's game is truly innovative. In most action games, players run around an urban environment, merrily shooting everyone in their path. However, Bulletproof is the first game where the object is for players to get themselves shot - AS MANY TIMES AS POSSIBLE. As you wander through each level, you must seek out drug dealers, petty thieves, disgruntled high school students and antagonize them until they pull out their firearms and put a few caps into your ass. As you successfully collect bullet wounds, you will see your Street Cred Meter (located on the lower left corner of the screen) rise. For each level, you must reach a specific Street Cred target in order to advance in the game.
In early levels, this is pretty easy. Wandering around Queens and various bad areas of New Jersey, pretty much everyone wants to blast a few rounds at you - especially if you activate "Rappin' Mode", by tapping the X button (this must be used sparingly, though - 50's Street Cred Meter decreases rapidly every time he tries to rap). However, as the game progresses, you find yourself in suburban and rural areas where citizens are far less liberal with their gatt usage. When you do manage to get some hot lead shot in your direction, you will find that the shooters have poor marksmanship compared to gun-wielders from early levels. This is when players must send 50 Cent into a slow-motion "Bullet-time" mode... which allows Fitty to dive into the path of any stray ballistics.
Also included on the game disc are a bunch of music videos as well as "4 CDs worth of 50 Cent and G-Unit music". I'm not sure what the purpose of this is - I think it might be used as a sort of punishment for players who fail to get 50 shot enough times in a given level - "ATTENTION PLAYA: if you don't get yo' ass shot in the next 30 seconds, you'll have to sit through an excruciating remix of Magic Stick feat. Lil Kim".
Anyway, this game is pretty hot. I'll give it nine Joey's... one for each time 50 got shot. (although, in reality, he only got shot 3 times... alas, there's no street cred for suckas who only get shot 3 times)