OK, I admit I didn't know who this Nas fellow was, but he's GOOD, he got 95% on Expert and managed to do some rock-out guitar poses at the same time. However, dude, you got to the end of the song with a full bar of deploy energy? Duuuuuuude! DEPLOY!!
Thursday, July 31, 2008
OK, I admit I didn't know who this Nas fellow was, but he's GOOD, he got 95% on Expert and managed to do some rock-out guitar poses at the same time. However, dude, you got to the end of the song with a full bar of deploy energy? Duuuuuuude! DEPLOY!!
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
"With the release of Americana, Donruss seamlessly taps into the world of Hollywood and pop culture to create a one-of-a-kind release that succinctly captures the flavor of our rich and storied show biz history...."
These aren't your run-of-the-mill bubblegum cards. Some of them have actual autographs, some of them have bits of actual clothing worn by their subjects. Many of the stars are a tad before my time (Edward G. Robinson, for example) but I do know the names, and many are more contemporary (Patrick Stewart, John Cusack, and...yeah, Bigfoot the monster truck, autographed with a tire print). They're actually really interesting and if I had the spare cash lying around (and even though I don't, the temptation is there), I'd probably start collecting these.
The Ebay market for these is quite active. I'm torn between being practical, buying whatever singles I'm interested in, and the element of gambling on unknown packs. It's harder to justify such a gamble at $40/pack, but the mystery is half the fun! I'm afraid I'm going to have to spring for at least one pack, and I guarantee it won't have the ones I want. That's just the way packs work, they know.
PS - Paging Dr. Horrible! There will be a 4th Act to Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, said Whedon at a Comic Con panel discussion. That, and some sort of video blog contest to join the league of evil.
Friday, July 25, 2008
The original series was one of my very favorite shows growing up, and though that can make it more difficult in many ways for a remake, I was entertained, and that's all I'm looking for with Knight Rider.
The new Knight Rider series kicks off on Wednesday, September 24, and you can see more at the official site.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
OK, I am! Yesterday EA released the official word on what the Spore retail box will look like:
Just so you know what to look for on September 7 (i.e., the empty spot on the shelf where that box WAS).
Monday, July 21, 2008
The first one I'd like to discuss is Dominion. This is a card game, it's like the yin to Magic: the Gathering's yang, and I say that because building your deck IS the game here. As with M:tG, you compose your deck with action cards, and resource cards to cast them with (land in M:tG, coin in Dominion).
You start with 10 set cards that are a mixture of coin and victory points. All the available cards are on the table in stacks. You draw 5 cards from your deck, and start to purchase action cards, coin, or victory points with whatever coin you drew. The cards you purchase go into your deck for future draws.
It's a pretty simple game to learn, it's got lots of strategy potential, and most importantly it was fun! It's also less intent on bankrupting you IRL; there will be expansions, sure, but not of a cash cow magnitude. Eric tells me that Dominion will debut this October at the Spiel games convention in Germany, and US residents will be able to buy it shortly after that. People who are long-time M:tG players but a little burned out by now, or maybe tried Magic and found it to be overwhelming for whatever reason, should definitely try this one! You can read more about it here.
Another more casual game we played was called Say Anything, and it's due for release in August. This one was like Apples to Apples in many ways. It's a good party-type game for 3 to 8 players that functions best with higher numbers of participants. You take turns reading a hypothetical (for example, "I think the best super power ever would be...") from a card featuring several, and people write down something fitting that statement. When everyone's answers are submitted, there's a round of betting on which answer the judge will select. You gain points both for having your answer selected and for betting on an answer that was selected. Great party game. This one's due out next month, and more details can be found here.
Lastly, we played a cooperative game called Pandemic, where players team up as scientists and researchers to wipe out several diseases before they explode and overrun the world. The premise is a fun one, and I liked this a lot more than some other cooperative games we've played, though we did fail to stop the pandemics in time.
Pandemic sold out both its first print runs, so unfortunately, this one's not available at the moment either, but a third run is on the way! In the meantime, if apocalyptic disease disasters are your thing, you might check out this free flash-based game, Pandemic II. It's a lot more complicated than the boardgame, though I didn't have time to go through the whole tutorial. You get to choose your type of outbreak and name it in this one, though, which is a nice touch.
The last thing I want to highlight are the efforts of Boardgame News to support the SPCA (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) with a games for donations program. In a nutshell:
Rather than post [review copies of] games for sale or give them all away in monthly drawings, I'm offering to ship them for free to anyone who donates to the cause of animal welfare. My wife and I volunteer at the Concord-Merrimack County SPCA in New Hampshire and have been surprised by how impoverished the shelter is. Cats come in with dirty, matted fur, for example, yet they can't be groomed – despite having a volunteer groomer at a local pet store – because the shelter can't afford to give the cats a rabies shot. The cost of this shot? $9.I'm going to donate, and so should you!
PS - Guitar Hero: Aerosmith? I beat it, yes, but if I could track down whoever decided to add mandatory boss battles to Guitar Hero...I'd much rather beat THAT PERSON. Just kidding, but seriously, it was hard, frustrating, and if I didn't have my husband to hand the guitar to and say, "Here, beat this stupid boss battle for me." then I would not have continued to play. In conclusion, I'm officially a Rock Band girl, and will probably not play Guitar Hero again (I'm not sorry to have the Aerosmith guitar, though). I'm clearly not alone in these feelings, either, because Steven Tyler was laid off this month. Sorry, Steve, I hope things work out for the best, and I'll always be a fan.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Also, if you've been hiding under a rock, then I feel it's only fair to inform you that Act 3 of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is live today! GO WATCH IT, it's only available until tomorrow at midnight. Then you'll have to pony up (Bad Horse, that was for you!) for the upcoming DVD. Which, if you're a Joss Whedon fan, you're going to want to do anyway; for it shall be full of extras.
In Spore news, joystiq.com has two, no wait, three interesting tidbits to share. First, the space phase of Spore is to provide 15 to 20 hours of gameplay, and has some sort of twist ending that is under wraps. Second, a producer at Maxis said that there is a strong possibility that Spore creations will be exportable to Maya (a real 3D modeling program). This might be a good time to let you all know that Maya offers a free personal learning edition. So if you've ever wanted to dabble in 3D creation, this is a great opportunity!
Thirdly, this was news to me at least, the same article mentions creating your own music in the game. What? Is there anything Spore doesn't do?
Thursday, July 17, 2008
First, Act 2 of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is live, and the site is, at this time, also live. I have now seen both Acts, and while it started out a bit slow, it's quite entertaining, quirky, and funny, and as I await the final Act, I feel it is already way too short!
Second, today's the day that Steve Wiebe's taking another stab at the Donkey Kong world record, at the Twiistup 4 arcade in San Diego. Good luck, Steve! If he can do it, everything's in place for this one to count for both Twin Galaxies AND Guinness. You can read more about it at the Twin Galaxies website.
Then of course there's that E3 thing going on...oh and The Dark Knight, don't know if you've heard of it, but it opens tonight at midnight. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 92%, and it's totally sold out in my neck of the woods. Might be worth checking out.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Just listening to Wright speak about Spore is fascinating. I love him for his mind, you see, his passion for the sciences, for making them accessible, and for the desire to see his games become more than just entertainment. The Part 2 clip above shows the latest intro to the game, and the end, when the narrator closes with the overarching reality that the creatures of Spore were created and guided through their entire evolutionary existence by "YOU"...that literally gave me goosebumps. THAT is a God Game. The potential and vastness of it all simply takes my breath away.
One of the coolest things mentioned in this presentation was their latest irresistable promotional effort, Sporevote.com - celebrities using Spore! Elijah Wood, Emeril Lagasse, Curt Schilling, Stan Lee...talk about celebrity endorsements. I can't wait to see MC Hammer's Spore creation!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
The alternative, for those who simply can't wait, is to pay a nominal fee to see it on iTunes. That, apparently, is going pretty well too. According to the official fansite, it's rapidly climbing the charts there.
UPDATE: 7/18/2008. I finally saw Acts 1 and 2 last night, and I have to say that at first it wasn't grabbing me. But stick with it, it gets better, and there are a couple places where the dialog is just explosively funny. I'm really looking forward to Act 3!
I've also been watching the E3 coverage on G4tv, which has been pretty good. Heard that Portal: Still Alive (which is apparently NOT Portal 2) is going to be an exclusive on Xbox Live Arcade. Sah-weeeet. If they're going to make it as easy as a download for me to play it, I'm IN. OK, even if they hadn't, I'm not missing it this time around. I wonder if Jonathan Coulton will do another end credits song for it? I mean, how could he not, but at the same time, how could he match Still Alive?
Also caught the Microsoft press conference, and had one of those awkward moments as I realized none other than Peter Molyneux, my previous flame before this new Spore thing with Will Wright, was taking the stage...
Oh god, it's Molyneux. What should I do? Pretend I don't see him, or be proactive and go over there? Damn, why did HE have to show up here, things have been going just great with me and Wright, I don't NEED this right now...ehhhmmm, hi Peter. How've you been? How's Lionhead doing? Hope things are going well.
What's that? Fable 2? Oh, man, don't start with me on that again, yes, I've heard of it, but I told you, we're THROUGH. I'm not getting involved again, I just can't go through getting my hopes up on the next big thing, and you painting your wild fairytale stories of gaming nirvana...you always reel me in with that stuff, and then the reality is invariably less than what you promised. No, Peter, Will and I are happy now, we're really building something meaningful with this Spore thing. He cares about my social networking needs, he makes it EASY for me to make gorgeous 3D animals, and then upload videos to Youtube. I never knew it could be like this.
Alright, listen, I'll hear you out, and see your preview, just because I still do care, deep down...I really do wish you the best, but I'm telling you, I'm not interested.
(oh cripes, he's employing a little chickadee-type bird, my kryptonite. We've been together since Bullfrog and Dungeon Keeper, he knows me all too well.) Oh wow, look at that medieval town in all it's quintessentially medieval goodness...what, you have a ridiculously smart pet dog in Fable 2? You can play as a girl? You walk across the world and see little globes of light that represent your friends in THEIR games, and you can go invite them into YOUR adventure, right then and there? Holy cow.../swoon
No, dammit, nooooo! I've seen this one before, and I know how it ends! I gotta go, Peter, it was nice seeing you, good luck with Fable 2 and Dimitri and all that.
Wow, how awkward was that?! Well...maybe I will keep an eye on Fable 2's progress. You know, mostly just to avoid showing up at the same social gatherings...
Monday, July 14, 2008
After 14 years since Guns N’ Roses last official music release, Axl Rose selects Rock Band 2 to debut official new track “Shackler's Revenge” from the highly-anticipated album Chinese Democracy.Keep in mind they are no doubt including all the existing RB1 downloads in that figure. Still, impressive!
That Guy tells me there's a big Metallica download release being planned to coincide with Metallica's new album, too.
With ongoing weekly DLC releases including individual tracks, track packs and full albums, the Rock Band music library will feature more than 500 songs by year’s end!
Carry on...my wayward son.
If you haven't heard of this yet, it's a supervillain musical, and you're not too late! This 3-part internet mini-series debuts July 15, 17, and 19. Please take note that part 3 debuts on a Saturday, and then the whole thing will be GONE that Sunday night at midnight (at least, in its free incarnation), so don't miss it!
If you want to see just how deep the rabbit hole goes, school yourself on the Master Plan:
A LETTER FROM JOSS WHEDON
At last the time has come to reveal to you our Master Plan. BEWARE! Those with weak hearts should log off lest they be terrified by the twisted genius of our schemes! Also pregnant women and the elderly should consider reading only certain sentences. Do not mix with other blogs....
The Spiderwick Chronicles is another fantasy film involving kids, and since I was disappointed by Bridge to Terabithia, I tempered my expectations going into it. The initial stilted dialog of the mom and her three kids did not bode well. But not too long after that, the movie turns into a smart, cute, and pretty mature film that, be warned, may scare younger viewers. The evil warlock/troll antagonist is balanced skillfully by the well-done comic relief of the adorable Hogsqueal and Thumbletack.
Rotten Tomatoes computes an average review score of 79%, which I think is undeservedly low, especially given that Bridge to Terabithia comes in at 85%. If I were calling the shots, it'd be the other way around. I for one really enjoyed Spiderwick, and recommend it as a smart, beautiful, and touching film. The creatures are charming, and I admit, the ending had me choking up, even though I saw it coming a mile away.
Friday, July 11, 2008
The Cake is a Lie, but Portal 2 is Not
Looks like this is a 2009 thing. A sequel has been official since like February, but I figured this recent update was a good opportunity to post A Day in the Life of a Turret (note, some profanity, but it's hysterical):
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
G4 just released some official details about new RB2 features, and there's some great stuff in there! For one, not having to have a band leader is a big improvement, and the fact that your characters will be able to play whatever instrument they want. The mini campaigns that can focus on a single artist, genre, or instrument are interesting, and imply lots of downloadable song packs in our future I'd say.
In answer to Guitar Hero 4's wireless drum set, Rock Band 2 will have a wireless drum set as well. That doesn't interest me as much as the fact that RB2 will have a drum trainer mode, which I will be willing to try. The online band battles feature sounds extremely entertaining, though not something I would do, as my measley medium guitar skills would probably be eaten alive by the "real" rockers out there.
Another piece of really great news I mentioned yesterday is that Rock Band 2 will automatically import all your RB1 downloaded content.
Two versions of a leaked 60-song content list are making the rounds this week. Since claiming I wasn't going to look, I've been doing a lot of peeking, and am jazzed about what I have seen. I did notice that Crowded House is not on that leaked list. However, last night for RB1 we downloaded a couple Rush songs, and they were actually performed by Rush and not a cover band! Not to be too spoilery, but that is a good sign given that Rush is on the alleged 60-track list.
Also, Rock Band 2 is now available for pre-order.
So far, lots of information, and all of it good! Promises abound that next week's E3 will play host to even more exciting updates. Next week is going to be a flurry of stuff here, because it's also the week that Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog debuts! OH YEAH!
UPDATE: 7/13. A premium drum set, wireless with cymbals and more responsive drums, has been announced for $300. I'm out. Oh, and here's a world premier "trailer" featuring the Foo Fighters' Everlong which doesn't show much, but is still fun to watch.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
This boardgame sub-culture is pretty far-removed from the games you see lining the shelves of Target and Wal-mart for the most part. No, the ones that give you geek status are what Boardgame News.com refers to as designer games, "games more targeted towards families and adults than children." We're not talking stuff as hard-core as Risk, though, necessarily. My husband discovered one of these playgroups in our area, playfully calling themselves the "6AM Gamers" (an accurate moniker), and became an instant fan of the hobby. I admittedly don't have the level of dedication to it that he does, but I have enjoyed a lot of really cool boardgames since then. We've also met some really nice people through this group, including our friends Eric and Linda, who run Boardgame News. Eric is a master at explaining boardgame rules. I wish I had that kind of brain capacity even just trying to remember things at the grocery store! It's a real asset, because designer boardgames tend to have more complicated rules than the mainstream fare.
Another great resource for this stuff is boardgamegeek.com, where the community reviews, rates, and trades in this upper echelon of boardgames. If you're not sure where to begin, they have a list of greatest boardgame hits. Here are a few of my favorites, though there are a great many more I've enjoyed playing.
This game's about bluffing your friends, and really should be called Bluffer's Dice, because sometimes the best way to bluff is to tell the truth. Everyone's got a bunch of dice they roll and conceal under a cup, and you take turns making calculatedly wild claims about how many of a certain dice roll are "out there" including yours. Each turn the player must declare an increasingly high number of dice ("I say there are 6 fives!" Oh yeah? I say there are 8 fives!"), until you think it's just not possible, and you call it. Everyone reveals, and if you were right, the person who made the last claim loses some of their dice (and thus, loses some of their predicting power as to what could be rolled the next round). It's a fun quick game with easy mechanics. It's also a very social game that seems to make you goofy, or at least it had the guys doing imitations of JP from Grandma's Boy at every challenge, and I'm convinced it would have been funny... even without the alcohol.
"The bean game!" This is a card game about collecting sets of a beans and "planting" them in your bean fields. As is the case with Settlers of Catan, there's a competitive trading component to win/lose friends and influence people. The art on the cards is also very cute. It's a bit harder to get the hang of than a game like Catan or Liar's Dice, but not much. And the game includes coffee beans. I mean, come on, you've gotta love that.
This card game is sort of the light version of Puerto Rico. The goal is to build different buildings and goods-producing factories for points. The hardest concept to get used to here is that the cards serve as both the buildings and the currency to build them (i.e., discard 3 cards to "build" the 4th one you're holding). This game's fun because you can just sort of do your own thing, you're competing against other players, but not as directly as you are with some games. There's also a downloadable PC version of San Juan you can try out.
Munchkin is a fun and goofy card game with Dungeons and Dragons-style character elements of armor, equipment, and leveling up. The game has very few rules, and it's more about competitive and cooperative interactions, and humor. Take the fact that by default you start as a "level 1 human with no class." The content is all parody, and you might find yourself wearing a chicken on your head and wielding a swiss army polearm against an itsy bitsy spider. There are several versions of the game with popular themes including Cthulhu, outer space, super heroes, and ninjas that can be mixed and matched if you want to (I probably wouldn't). So far, my experiences with the base game + all its expansions have been the best, but I haven't tried the Cthulhu version yet.
At first I didn't really like this game, because the mechanics take some getting used to. It's a cooperative game set in the Lovecraft universe, and it's all about sealing gateways to dimensions of unspeakable horror. It works a little like a choose your own adventure, where small environmental descriptions set the stage for random monster encounters as you move around the board. I've grown to like it now, and we'll be playing it during Halloween festivities this year for sure. Maybe we'll do a whole Lovecraft theme with Munchkin Cthulhu and Arkham Horror...and calmari...and a good Lovecraft movie...if there were such a thing.
This one's a card game of tricks and card combinations played in teams of two (6 people total works well). The object is for you and your partner to discard your hands before other teams do so, and you don't get to know exactly what's in your team-mate's hand. You can take a gamble after looking at most of your initial cards and declare "tichu" or "grand tichu" for massive bonus points if you're the first to get rid of your whole hand...but it's a gamble, because if you aren't, then you LOSE that many points. It's a bit tricky to explain, but much easier in practice.
Ticket to Ride
This is definitely one of my very favorites! It's very competitive, both directly and indirectly, but it's also quite intuitive and fun. The object of the game is to connect your own secret intra-city routes without being blocked out by other players (either intentionally, if they figure out what you're doing, or unintentionally through construction of their own routes). It's got a sort of Candy Land aspect to it as well, as you try to collect cards of the right color to finish off legs of your routes. The Ticket to Ride: Europe edition has some game dynamics not included in the United States version that makes it quite interesting, once you're comfortable with the basic Ticket to Ride. Everyone we've played this with seems to like it, even my mother and father in-law.
This is the only 2-player-only game of the ones I've mentioned here, and my husband and I often play this one solo after the kids are off to bed. Now, he might tell you different, but I'm the total Lost Cities champion around here. It's another card game with numbered cards. You go on "expeditions" by committing to collect and lay down as many cards of a chosen color as you can (you choose colors based on the cards in your hand, and perhaps the colors your opponent has chosen). You can only lay down cards in numerical order, and your total collection in any one color has to be 20 points or more, or else you start losing points.
A couple generally popular boardgames I'm not crazy about are Mystery of the Abbey and Shadows over Camelot. Mystery of the Abbey should be right up my alley, it's like Clue on crack. But for some reason, I can't understand the logic (you check off what you think people have as far as tall monks/skinny monks/hooded monks, etc., but THEN people pass cards to other people, and how the HECK do you keep track THEN??), and so I'm just not good at it. Shadows over Camelot is a cooperative style game that is just too damned unforgiving, it's difficult to the point of frustration, especially if you use the optional game mechanic of having one of the players secretly plotting against you as the "traitor." I want to love both of those, I really do, and maybe I'll get there eventually on Abbey. Shadows, though, my friend Mindy and I now riot every time the guys even suggest bringing that one out. Oh CRIPES, now that I brought it up, my husband's over here geeking out about the upcoming Shadows Over Camelot: Merlin's Company. No, honey...NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The realms of boardgame and video game often do blend together on the edges (like a fine grilled cheese sandwich). As a child, I did have the Donkey Kong boardgame, and while it's low-rated on gameplay, I sure wish I still had it given my obsession with The King of Kong. From the modern gaming scene, there's a World of Warcraft boardgame that's a LOT of fun. It's basically the boardgame equivalent of choosing a class, leveling up your character (gaining new skills and items as you do so) and ultimately facing an instance-style boss battle, even with the potential for some PvP thrown in along the way. There are boardgame versions of Starcraft, Railroad Tycoon, and Age of Empires, too, though I haven't played any of those.
Microsoft also seems to be acknowledging this niche - you can (and should) play Settlers of Catan on Xbox Live. Catan is known as a "gateway game," just a taste of some simple mechanics and easy-to-learn rules that draw you into the world of designer boardgames (of which Germany is a primary producer, by the way). If you like it, try San Juan next, or maybe Ticket to Ride (which is also now available on Xbox Live). Then gradually make your way to Puerto Rico and Goa, and before you know it, you may have shelves full of precious old boxes, and proudly consider yourself a boardgame geek too.
Our favorite online retailer for these games is Thought Hammer. The prices are GREAT, and the service is too. We've used them a lot. If you wanted to get into this genre of boardgames, your first order of gateway games might include Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Blokus (it has cool tetris-shaped pieces), San Juan, and Lost Cities... and maybe Coloretto.
PS - I WANT THIS! It plays 99 NES games!
If that's not possible, though, I'll settle for a pair of these:
PPS - If you haven't heard, the buzz this week is that Rock Band 2 will automatically import all your downloads from Rock Band 1. Way to go, guys, that's great news! And...spoiler alert! There are rumors flying about 60 songs leaked from the Rock Band 2 set. If true, that represents about 75% of the game's content. I'm not reading the full list, but there it is if you want to.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Steve Wiebe, the protagonist in The King of Kong, is making an appearance as a guest of honor at Twiistup 4, a classic video game competition this July 17 at the Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica, California sponsored by GirlGamer.
hmm, as a girl gamer myself, I'm not sure I support dividing the demographic like that, but guys, I bet it's a great place to pick up chicks! Just kidding, I will support my fellow girl gamers, if for no other reason than recognition of the fact that it USED to be tough being one. However, as former president and founder of the Magic: the Gathering club at Boston University and all-around gaming nerd, I can attest that the environment has changed a lot in 10 years. Girl power!
Anyway, thoughts on the Wiebe appearance (and by that I don't mean how he's Nathan Fillion's twin brother). I wouldn't expect a record-breaking score out of this, as he will doubtless be hounded and distracted by a plethora of groupies. If I were in the area, you can bet I'd be there, too, schooling with the groupies! This will do wild things to the Twiistup attendance, though (ya think? They're sold out already - you'll have to join the waitlist). An interesting thing I've noticed is that news sites and blogs are STILL posting new reviews and mentions of this movie, so people are still discovering it, about 7 months after it's DVD release. That's some pretty good legs.
So if you are one of those people, let me reiterate: don't miss the DVD extras, and do take the plot with a grain of salt. Though it is a fantastically enjoyable film, you will find, if you dig into it, that it is, like all film, edited in a certain manner, to tell a certain story. Some scenes which I found booooo/hisss-worthy on first viewing were really not quite the way things happened, so don't go grabbing torches and pitchforks, just enjoy the story. That being said, good luck, Steve!
And if you're new to this scene, you may be interested to know that New Line's planning a comedy remake of the film. And by that, I do not mean this: