November 2007

11/29/2007

We Are Family

by Matthew Hawkins

Damn, now it?s been over a week since I last posted. The funny thing is, not too much has been going on, yet I?ve had no time to actually sit down and write about it…

- So last Wednesday night mark yet another return to movie night. Another added bonus to living in the city once again is that I can afford to be more social and stay later, instead of worrying about the shitty state of Brooklyn bound R trains in the later hours, which can be hell on earth (the A train also slows down late at night, but the key difference is, it may take a while, but one will come, whereas you don?t know what the fuck is going on with the R sometimes, and of course, no one else knows either, especially the people who work for the MTA).

Anyway, we didn?t watch any TV shows, thank god; last time was an episode of both Reaper (we saw the series premier last time, and I simply thought it was okay) and Californication (I don?t know where to begin with that one; David Duchovny?s lifeless demeanor only works as the stiff as wood Fox Mulder, and certainly not some lady killer writer, let along some down and out blogger, which is already lulz worthy, absolutely none of the character had any bit of charm or other redeeming value, as well as the actors who portrayed them, plus they all sported a thin film of sweat, making them all the more unappealing, and overall the entire thing felt so low rent, in a wannabe HBO-kind of way). Instead, it was another taste of the good old days, with random bits of Buster Keaton (whom everyone knows? you know, that other physical comic actor from the silent era, the one without the Hitler mustache) and Harold Lloyd (whom most people do not know, another silent daredevil, who at one point lost a part of his right hand, so he wears this flesh-glove to hide this fact, but despite how amazing his feats are, once you know about his half-hand, YOU CANNOT STOP STARING AT IT), plus some classic Merrie Melodies, all of which built towards a theme! A former movie night staple.

The main feature was The Shining in glorious ultra high definition, via Blu-ray. And Christ, did it ever look amazing. Again, all the experts in attendance who had seen it in the theaters back in the day stated how it never looked or sounded as good. Though it was Jack Nicholson who benefited the most; because his facial expressions are now so crystal clear, he comes off even more insane.

Oh, and on the way back to my train, I came across a pedestrian crossing light, which had appeared to had been hit by a car or something. But it still worked, and it looked pretty neat. Hence why I snapped some shots with my cell phone…

- The next day was, of course, Thanksgiving. And as I?ve done for almost ten years now, I went out to Long Island to spend the holiday with Dave Roman and his clan. Actually, this year I believe marked the ten year anniversary’ I?ve been there every single year except for the last one, which I spend with my ex?s family. Here’s a pic of ahuge load of bread that Dave and Raina brought over, shaped like a turkey. I LOLed…

But yeah, as expected, the food was amazing (I even got to take home some cookies and a whole apple pie), though it didn’t feel exactly the same, since there were no Sega systems handy (all that stuff is in Dave?s current digs, naturally).

I was going to go check out some deals the next morning, but quickly realized that it just wasn?t worth dealing with the throngs of dumbfucks, all to save $20. Instead, Jason came over and we played some Wii Sports (apparently, I don?t play bowling correctly, which is my best game, to the point that, according to him, the way that I throw the ball constitutes “cheating”), plus he got the chance to check out Super Mario Galaxy, which I?m still knee deep in.

- On Saturday afternoon, I went out to Long Island once again, this time to meet up with the ICON crew, to talk about the upcoming event. I forget if I?ve mentioned it already, but I?ve been asked this time around to help with the behind the scenes action in addition to my regular guest appearance duties. And I really can?t or shouldn?t go too deep into things, but rest assured, I will do my best to inject my own particular flavor throughout the preceding. One primary goal is redefine the very definition of what an anime dance party is all about it. Stay tuned!

The meeting took place at this store in Ronkonkoma, where pen and paper gamer dweebs gather to wage battle with dice, cards, and pewter figurines. It was certainly a bit different compared to the nerdy scene that I?m more used to; it?s both endearing and creepy to see the glazed, happy as pigs in shit expressions of dorks as they run around, checking out the various games and acting as backseat Orc handler or simply crashing in on conversation that they feel they could contribute towards. More than once I was state an opinion on something, and then of the blue, some huge chubby dork (wearing a trench coat, of course) was thrown in his two cents, and I would ask the others if he was the one guy we had been waiting for, and it never was. Many there knew about ICON, they?ve all gone there, and are eager to know what the next year will promise.

The best part is how it services all their needs: internet access, soda, and Cheetos. The bathroom was no where near as gross as I thought it would be. I also want to add real quick that I?ve been to Long Island many, many times over the ten plus years, and that day marked my first taste of LI?s interpretation of Mexican food. And I swear to God, it marked my last. Hey, time for another semi-crappy cell phone camera shot, this time of the huge Xena, Warrior Princess-esque figure that greets visitors as they enter…

- Later that night was the opening of BITMAP, in Willamsburg. It featured many computer-related, mostly video game-related, and some cases internet-ish pieces. I went primarily to see Dave Mauro?s painting which he had been slaving away on for a while now…

Jeremiah also had a piece, GR_DIUS, which is basically a modified Gradius cart with the ship and its bullets removed so they?re invisible. I actually didn?t do too bad? I managed to get far enough to score an option, though if I had played it twenty years ago, I would have one credited the whole thing (Gradius, not Super Mario Bros, was the main reason why I finally got a NES). Again, excuse the crappy quality…

There were tons of other neat things, including these old Game Boy carts with Gundam body parts…

I totally dug the Google Ads scarf…

And some other random odds and ends…

… That one was just a looping clip of the two people looking quite concerned, with an “8 bit joke” popping up every once in a while. Though my favorite piece would have to be this tray of water that produced animated liquid pixels…

… It?s definitely one of those “you just have to see it in person” kind of things. I actually got a chance to chat with the creator, Mike Beradino. Really cool guy!

Also got to chat it up with Marcin Ramocki, the curator, as well as the director of 8-Bit (which I reviewed last year, as some might recall). Also a very cool cat, who reminded me how it was at that same gallery a few years back in which Jeremiah was performing when a cop showed up to stop the show. With that, someone yelled out “CHIPTUNES!!!” or something (I believe it was actually “DATA DESTRUCTION!!!”), and I replied with a hearty scream of my own, which was the closer of the documentary, which Marcin was still happy about. Enough to offer me a nice stiff shot of Scotch!

Later on there was some chiptunes, courtesy of x|k

I was curious, as was Dave, why he wasn?t performing at this year?s Blip Festival, but a reason was given, and it was a sensible one (which I will touch upon at a later point). The set, as expected, was awesome, and I got a nice spot right up front; Mike decided to record the performance via his own digital camera, but I believe he was only interested in capturing the audio, or at least I hope, since it was my crotch that was in front of the lens more or less the entire time.

Afterwards I caught wind of an after-party, and despite numerous invitations, I was tired and hungry, and decided to head back into the city to check out a burger joint I had long wanted to give a try (mostly because from the outside it looked like that burger place from the classic SNL sketches… you know, where they only serve cheeseburgers and Pepsi?s?). It?s on 14th between 1rsr Ave and Avenue A called Express Burgers & Gyros. Yeah, it does sound about as generic as it gets, but it was pretty good. And then I went home and spent the rest of the night watching Manhattan cable access and building Ikea furniture. I?ll save my big I heart New York Cable Access report for a later date, though I will mention that my new favorite show is something called Star Crash, which is a sci fi show with a very feminist slant. The CGI is beyond cheesy, though not as bad as the so bad its not even funny bad acting.

- Sunday was a lazy one; was supposed to have dinner with my friend Shep who was back into town for the holidays, but he ended up staying in Connecticut, so I just stayed home and continued to unpack. Though I did head on over to Jeremiah?s, who is now a neighbor of mine, one who lives literally fifty seconds away from me. Him and Olya had some furniture that they were getting rid off, and since he knew I have pretty much nothing of the sort, he was kind enough to pass a coffee table and some end tables along. I also got to finally check out the super sweet Japanese arcade cabinet that he recently acquired…

Now I want one! And considering that I have more than enough room.

Sticking with the subject of furniture, what I really need most is a couch. And it?s been suggested that I appeal to all my friends this holiday season for some assistance. Basically, instead of getting me a DVD or video game, which at this point no one likes to do since most everyone assumes that I have everything already, if everyone simply chipped in $10-$20, I could easily have enough by the end to get a really nice thing to sit on. Though I personally find it weird to email all my friends about it, hence why I guess posting about it on my blog (like I?m doing right now) seems a less direct and a tiny bit more dignified (though begging on the internet is not exactly a smooth move either? but at least I?m not putting up a donation button like it was also suggested, since others have pointed out how bad that could look as well). So if anyone feels like passing along some love… my contact info is available elsewhere on the site!

Besides, those who have been asking for a housewarming/fort90forum party, all I can is, it ain’t happening till I get a couch! Unless no one minds sitting on the floor.

- As for earlier this particular week, just been busy with work, plus reviewing games for the upcoming Independent Games Festival. Speaking off, I?ve also decided not to go home this Xmas. The bottom line is that dealing with the family unit during the holiday season is just not worth the aggravation, plus I was already in Washington earlier this year anyway. So instead, I?m gonna enjoy Christmas in New York City, though I might crash some other holiday function. Hey, I?ll finally get a chance to play Christmas NiGHTS on Christmas!

The plan is this: I still need to go back home to visit the folks, so I?ll do that in February, right before the Game Developers Conference. Now, because of my father?s schedule, and the GDC?s, that means I might have a few days in-between in California. So if anyone out there wants to hang, let me know!

- Oh, and last night, I didn?t make it out to movie night, of course. That?s cuz it was my company?s holiday party. Yesterday was actually the one year anniversary in which my company purchased Zedge, so there were several reason to celebrate, which culminated in a massive feast, me getting tipsy from wine around 4:30 in the afternoon (we were all instructed not to eat all day since there was going to be so much food), a speech from our fearless leader in which he congratulated us on an amazing job, with Slap Shot playing in the background (and right when a scene featuring tits was going on), and me making a speech about why Iron Man is my favorite comic book character (basically, he?s like Batman, but he?s not as dark and depressing since his parents were never murdered, plus he?s a drunk, and fucks hot chicks constantly). After the meal was a hockey game, my very first, and that was fun.

As for tonight? and for the next three nights, it?s the long-awaited return of the Blip Festvial! And this time, I?m gonna be there for every last beep and boop. Plus, I?ll be providing a comprehensive report, though not for this site but GameSetWatch! So I guess it marks my triumphant return to that oh so wonderful site. And I intend to make sure my write-up kicks ass, because I owe it to Simon after so many false re-starts (when I mentioned this to Jeremiah, he went “Yeah, its about time you finished something for the guy!”). Anyhow, the Blip Fest is easily this weekend’s hottest ticket (it’s actually getting a ton of coverage… there was even a Times piece on it a while back), so get your tickets now!

- Hey, real quick, an update on what the else the rest of THE TRIFECTA has been up to. First off, Katie?s Nurse Nurse #2 is coming along quite beautifully!

I know I shouldn’t mention this, but Katie has admitted that she tries to put in as many ass shots as possible, just for me!

Meanwhile, Hilary has is whipping up some awesome prints for the upcoming animu fest happening in NYC next weekend!

- Still haven’t been able to go back to the schedule in which I used to have when it came to updating this site. But least I still have the forums to pass along video game chit-chat, plus “other stuff”! It was actually pretty dead late last week, due to the holiday season, but things have really picked up over the past couple of days…

… Check out this one girl’s totally bad-ass Metroid cosplay:

… So the original NiGHTS is coming out for the PS2. Yay?

… Some dude finds out his wife was cheating on him via her lover’s Mii.

… The fighting game that the whole world needs:

… We’re FINALLY getting a lightsaber game for the Wii, though it would just be nice if we just got what we wanted and not be forced to also buy another bloated, boring Star Wars action title.

… By far, the AWESOMEST website/screen saver in the world. A must download, I shit you all not.

… Again, a pretty cool top ten list for fictional weapons, though the Subtle Knife is still sorely missing.

… Katie discovered how truly fucking awesome Fatal Farm really are:

… Time yet another sample from the random pictures thread:

… To be honest, if I had known what was going to happen later in the week, I would have stuck around in Willamsburg Saturday night.

… There is now a better way to YouTube!

… And not just one, but two awesome job related threads.

4 comments

11/19/2007

To Win The Game, You Need A Nice, Juicy Ass

by Matthew Hawkins

Another week, another update!

The Haunted Samurai

Last Wednesday, Hilary and I caught the North American premier of the Haunted Samurai, a comedy that takes place during the very end of the Edo period during Japan?s history.

The tale centers on a lowly, hard-luck samurai, Hikoshiro, who isn?t doing much of anything. At one point he was part of a regal household via marriage, but got kicked out, which also separated him from his wife and child. It also meant he had to move in with his poor mother, plus his somewhat good for nothing lazy brother and his wife. Early on in the film, he runs into an old colleague of his that?s doing very well and hears that he found good fortune by praying to gods at a particular shrine. Then, after a night of boozing it up, Hikoshiro stumbles across a shrine which he believes to be the one that his buddy got his good luck from and attempts to see if any will rub off him. Unfortunately, it wasn?t, and instead brings on three nasty gods, of poverty, pestilence, and death. So we then follow Hikoshiro?s attempts to outwit the unwanted gods; poverty is a friendly, kinda wimpy god just trying to do his thing, pestilence is a burly sumo wrestler type that is all business and who also picks his nose, while death is… a surprise I guess, so I?ll just leave it at that. Best part is how pestilence makes a dude cough up blood. Lots of it. It was awesome. And aside from the ghosts, we also follow Hikoshiro?s attempts to deal with the chaotic times he lives in, as well as reconcile with not only his estranged family but his family name, the only thing of any value, and which he discovers the unfortunate truth.

It was quite excellent, and despite it being very Japanese (enough for there to be a primer on Japanese history and folklore beforehand), it was still quite accessible. And after seeing so many WACKY JAPPY films in recent months, it was nice to see a nice, laid-back, sweet, and bittersweet comedy. Plus it did an excellent job interweaving all the historical aspects, even though certain things did seem to just get lost in the shuffle. Also, the ending was kinda weird, but overall, two thumbs up (Hilary liked it as well).

A Table Has Been Reserved

The following Friday was filled with odds and ends…

- I finally put the money down for a table at MoCCA. It will be myself, Katie, and Hilary, aka THE TRIFECTA! Actually, we’re somewhat looking for a better name, but even though it’s kinda generic, I still like it by simple virtue of sounding like a Marvel super hero stable. Anyhow, we’re going to be on the seventh floor… which is both neat, and lame, I know. Hey, I’m just happy we got a table, period. The space was nice last time, but no one really knew about it. Hopefully, the folks at MoCCA will do a better job of letting attendees know about it at the next art fest.

- Also got a haircut that afternoon, an the only reason I mention this is because the woman who cuts my hair, whom I’ve been to for years, told me how her ex-coworker, at the old place which she used to work, used to sell pot in the back. The dude always seemed like a weirdo to me… that creepy uncle type in sleepy suburban neighborhoods, the ones that dress like Mister Rogers and gives out the best candy during Halloween, and is actually, you know, a child rapist. Anyhow, now I kinda wish I chatting with the guy more when I had the chance. Still glad I never let him touch my hair…

- Found from a friend that this girl I know, who is a total psycho, and the reason why I?m no longer close friends with her boyfriend, has had a total of eight abortions. Yeah… holy fucking shit. I?m pro-choice all the way, but seriously, that?s fucking insane.

-Scott Pilgrim #4 came out last week and I got my copy. And immediately afterwards, I realized that I still haven?t read my copy of #3, which is buried in cardboard box #27 in my living room. Every time Jason comes over, he is still amazed that I was able to pack so much shit into one tiny Brooklyn bedroom for so long

Also discovered that the trip to my place in Washington Heights to Rocketship in Carol Gardens is not that bad at all, thanks once again to the wonderful A train (at least in comparison to the suck ass R train, which I don?t miss one fucking bit).

- Had dinner with Mike, Liz, and Joe (Salina). Everyone was beat tired, so even though no booze was involved, most of felt loopy, as if we were boozed up. Also, Mike, who knows a lot about toilets, gave me a crash coarse on how they operate, since the one I have at home is always running. Oh, and he was nice enough to pass along his Airport Extreme base station, which was giving him nothing but trouble. Thus far, it?s been smooth sailing, but I’m somewhat expecting it to crap out at any second…

Girls On Wheels

Saturday morning was a trip to Ikea to get much needed furniture. I really shouldn?t have spent the money I did, but I?m just getting really tired of living out of a suitcase and going through one box after another to find stuff. But after hauling heavy boxes up four flights of stairs, I just didn?t have the energy to put them together (they?re still all untouched).

And later that evening was the Gotham Girls Roller Derby Champonship match, which I caught with Hilary and Joe (Simko)

It was between the Queens of Pain and the Bronx Gridlock. This was the Bronx’s inaugural season, and completely undefeated one as well. Meanwhile, the Queens team is headed by Suzy Hotrod, whom I?m kinda friends with, so of course, I had to root for them (as did Joe, plus Hilary, who actually lives in Queens).

Gotta say… lots of hot chicks there that night, though the one I was totally smitten by was the sole female referee, Lady Refstrike. There were also loads of parents there. It was funny to think that all these sexy, hardcore chicks on wheels brought out all their rather square moms and dads for the night, but most were very supportive. In some cases too supportive; with so much momentum behind them, it was somewhat of a Bronx crowd, and we sat behind a large cluster of them, which was fine when it was just old people, but then these two jack-ass jock types showed up and got in our faces to say, “Just so you know, we’re going to be VERY obnoxious.” Hey, at least they gave us a head?s up. When I asked him to clarify, he explained on the level of Philly Eagles fans, as if I knew shit about sports (I guess they’re annoying, right?). But that was enough for us to slide down a bunch of seats and create some distance. And obnoxious they were; the thing was, all the folks rooting for Bronx? sure as hell didn?t look as if they lived in the Bronx. More like Paramus, NJ. Which was yet another reason why I was hoping for a Queens victory.

The match itself was pretty fucking intense. Almost immediately the Bronx team showed why they were undefeated by flexing their rock-soild defense; whereas pretty much every single girl is some skinny white punk rock chick, Bronx had a thick black chick by the name Beyonslay, who was hard to get around, and who also knocked girls out of the way as if they were rag dolls have the time. Queens took a very early lead, but that lasted for about five minutes, then Bronx took a massive ten point plus lead in just on “jam” and their lead just became bigger, and bigger, and bigger. By the time they were forty plus ahead, it felt pretty much hopeless, which was totally depressing. It should be noted that Saturday night’s game was the first live sporting event I ever went to in which I actually really cared about who won or lost!

But Queens didn’t give up and tried their best to keep up. Though it was in great part due to Suzy’s exemplarily skills as lead jammer that kept them in the hunt. As for why Bronx was able to dominate, the reason was simple, at least according to Hilary: “The Queens girls have no asses!” Which was true; the Bronx girls had plumper posteriors, which they were able to use for defensive tactics. But then again, even though it was difficult to see Queens struggle, it was still fun watching a bunch of hot chicks skate around… especially when they were in battle. Plus, there was also that hot ref girl in the middle of the action, keeping score. Though not helping Queens was some really questionable calls. It took me a while to get the gist of the game, and I guess I understand how everything works, but I’m still confused my some of the calls that were made, all of which set the Queens girls behind time, and time again.

The half-time show was not the Manhattan Mayhem’s recreation of the Filipino prisons doing Thriller, since their outfits is the orange prison jumpsuits, as rumored, but sadly, that the case. Instead we got the Hungry March Band, who were pretty decent. Though I was mostly mesmerized by the cymbal player, who had hers attached via string; she would lay one on the ground, face up, and throw the other at it, and then it would come right back at right. Hilary mentioned that she had seen something similar, but it was a first for me. It reminded me of Rygar.

Going into the second half, the spread was either thirty points, and every-time Queens got some momentum, something happened, and the Bronx maintained their lead. But in the last couple of minutes, Suzy scored like, seriously, forty points in a single jam. It was fucking INSANE, as she gracefully darted and weaved and glided around the track, scoring point after point after point after point. The folks in the crowd who were there for Queens, and who had very little to get excited about, was all of a sudden hit with a bolt of energy. All a sudden, the game was ON. There was about a minute left in the game, and all of a sudden, the Queens of Pain were back in the contest, and only down by three! But… it was not meant to be, as the Bronx took the lead jammer position and cemented their place as the champion for this year. But at least it was an AWESOME game.

Near the end, there was so much shit going on, I simply couldn’t keep track of things, but I did in the corner of my eye notice how at one point, the hot lady ref bent over and lifted up her skirt, and showed her ass. Fuck! Plus she also had the cutest pair of socks (they were stripped, black & white, of course)… which I wanted to get for Katie, so after the end of game, as folks were exiting, and other hung out to chit chat, I approached Lady Refstrike to ask where she got them. American Apparel was the answer. Then I mentioned how I thought I had seen her show her underwear, and how I thought it had matched the socks but couldn’t be sure since I had only caught a glance at it. So with that, she stepped a few paces back, bent over, and lifted up her skirt to show me her ass. And they matched all right!

Afterwards, Hilary went back to her place to continue doing work, while Joe and I went to the after-party at Manitoba’s. No explanation was given as to why it was moved from its original location, the Ding Dong Lounge, which would have made far more sense since its so close to the venue (which was at the City College on the Upper West Side, not too far from where I live, actually. After a brief stop at San Locos for some tacos, we made it to the bar as it was in full swing. And I’ve noticed that many of my friends are claustrophobic whenever I go to some crowded bar with them, and I’m the one who normally doesn’t mind, but it was too crowded, even for me. There was zero breathing room, let alone elbow space, which made mingling impossible. Though there was only one person I wanted to talk to: Joey Hardcore, from the Queens of Pain. I actually knew Joey (that’s a she btw) back in the day, during my flirting with girls on MakeOutClub days. I wanted to see if she remembered who I was and the some of the exchanges we had. But alas, there was no chance…

We ended up heading to another bar, near Houston, where we heard some folks had made a break for, but we were so drunk and tired, we didn’t stay long. Though they had those NYC condoms that some places give up, and I helped myself to a few… they’re really good! Crazy, I know. And them because we were too busy chit-chatting, and again, didn’t have our heads on straight due to beer, totally went around in circle via the mixed up during the weekends subway routes. The night ended with us holding back the laughter of this disgruntled Chinese handyman who, aside from having literally five hundred keys on one tiny key ring, and which was causing his pants to seriously drop, was munch away on one of those street vendor shish-ka-bobs, the ones that cost like $5 a piece. He had like five of them, and he also had BBQ sauce in his mustache. Yummy!

The First Step Into The Wild Frontier I

But when I got home, I didn’t immediately go to bed. I couldn’t, because I had gotten a message earlier in the evening. Which was the reason why I made a b-line straight to my computer once I stepped inside. And after firing up my Mail client, I saw this (slightly NSFW).

It’s I guess a test pic, to see if she could properly depict girls covered in slime. And as you can all see, Katie more than has the skillz! God, I cannot wait for the first issue of HARVEST!

Perhaps I should also mention that there’s a possibility that Hilary might be coming on board as well! Katie would do issue one, and Hilary issue two. More to come as it develops…

The First Step Into The Wild Frontier II

As for Sunday, I finally hooked up my Wii. Yes, I know, about goddamn time. I’ve had mine still in its box for many months now; I was so excited when Nintendo sent one to me as a thank you gift for my write up of the Wii launch for GameSetWatch. But then, it just sat there, mainly because my bedroom in Park Slope was just too small to provide a comfortable game-playing environment. Originally, when I finally got my new place, one of the first things I was going to do was finally rip that box open, but I’ve just been too busy… but once I received Super Mario Galaxy earlier in the week, I knew it was finally time.

Hey, I just realized, today is the one-year anniversary of the system’s launch! So it took me one day short of a year to finally get in on the action! Oh, and for the record, as everyone knows, I’ve been playing Wii games pretty regularly for the past year, so I’m not a total noob. But then again, since I haven’t had a chance to finess my Wii-mote skills at home, I’ve always lagged behind at press events or friends’ places. Hopefully that will soon change.

But before popping Galaxy in, I gave Wii Sports a spin. Jason actually got his earlier in the week and has been totally addicted. Though before that, I made a Mii, of course. I’m still trying to come to grips with the whole online functionality of the system, which is rather confusing, but I’ve heard others state the same thing. I also did some shopping for Virtual Console games, of course (I also received a gift card for points). What did I get? Super Metroid and Sin and Punishment. And of course, since I don’t have the Virtual Console controller, I really couldn’t play them! Well, I did mess around with Super Metroid for a tiny bit, but with the wonky button layout via the GameCube controller, it wasn’t for long. As for Sin & Punishment, I only got it because it was translated, since I have the original import N64 cart (I was going to sell my N64 since pretty much all the titles I have either already is available on the VC, or should be, with the exception of Rakuga Kids, unless I’m really, REALLY lucky, but I’ve come to discover that I wouldn’t get much, plus the emulation is not totally perfect). I almost got Super Mario Bros 1, just because, and I’m glad I fought off the temptation. I might get SMB 3, if only because I was never a fan of the All-Stars graphical make-over.

Sorry to ramble, but the number one complaint I get is that I never talk about games. Well, I’m talking about games!

I also decided to check out what’s going on in the world of Manhattan cable access, with the highlight being Star Crash 2007 – Rotis Colony 3, a bizarro women’s sci-fi show that deals with feminism, and dudes with blue skin. It’s absolutely amazing… God, its so great to be living in Manhattan once again!

As for today, other than work, it was more messing around with the Wii and cable access. For some reason, I exchanged friends code with Heather, but neither of us has popped up on the other person’s buddy list, or address book, or whatever its called. Maybe I’m doing something wrong… then again, even though I am a total retard, the whole set-up is rather confusing. Though I especially feel silly for trying to figure out something that everyone else has, about a year now! Maybe its the Airport Express giving me troubles?

Once Again, What Have We Learned Thus Far?

Time once again to head on over to the fort90forums! It was an eventful week:

- Hey, did you know Mega Man’s 20th anniversary also just happened?

- Once again, I absolutely need that controller.

- So the talk about the upcoming Ghostbuster games quickly turns into talk about… Big Touble in Little China and Quick Change?

- A touching tale of a sick mother and Animal Crossing.

- Hey, I guess everyone hates Ubi Soft!

- Speaking of, a quick note: Katie has been prepping reviews for a Ubi Soft games aimed at girls, which will go live once I get screenshots from them… which for some reason, is talking longer than expected.

- The works of Shintaro Kago, part eight, part nine. and part ten (all of them are NSFW, but that last one is honestly one of the most disgusting things you will ever see… proceed with caution).

- Fatal Farm seriously, had done it again

- Microsoft is gay, LOL.

- Once more, the random videos thread is worth stopping by, for the real-deal Warriors from back in the day, the entire line up of bad guys from the upcoming low budget, direct to DVD Metal Gear Solid movie knock-off, a pretty freaky (and LOL-worthy) PSA from the Great White North, and a series of absolutely amazing looking Japanese CGI shorts featuring bunnies in lock-down.

- Yet another reason why A) most people on bikes in the city need to be shot on the spot, and B) why I am so glad I don’t live anywhere near Park Slope anymore.

- Yeah, NYU still sucks.

- The L train + Full House = ART!

- But also, naked women + dead pig = ART ALSO!

- That animated gif thread is alive and kicking.

- Finally, an actually funny webcomic!

- Hey ladies, its fall again, and the devil is back in fashion.

- And lastly, I’ve updated my list of make believe women I’d love to bang to now include comic book chicks. Feel free to compare and contrast!

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11/12/2007

An Alliance Is Formed…

by Matthew Hawkins

Once again, lots of stuff going on!

Which Race Is This?

Haven?t had much of a chance to settle into my new digs, since this time around, I?ve been busy with folks from out of town, such as Nintendo and EA, who both held events to pimp their upcoming holiday and post holiday wares. Unfortunately, I really can?t talk about the really good stuff, since you know, DNAs and the such. But there?s still some stuff to share?

Wednesday night was Nintendo?s holiday press gathering (yes, I know, I?m pretty late to the party with my report? again, been busy!). Got to check out a couple of Wii-related wares, including the all-new Zapper, which was rather nice (though I still like the Blaster a bit more). Gave the new Trauma Center a spin, which everyone else avoided like it was the plague, simply because it?s so damn difficult. And it was no cakewalk for me either, given that my hands shake like crazy; I?m simply not cut to be a surgeon, even a virtual one. They had a WWE game which looked kinda bad, but then again, I can?t recall a single American wrestling game in which the characters didn?t looks creepy, masculine puppets. But it features a ton of older, ?classic? wrestlers on the roaster (ATTN: Jason, I believe I saw Brutus the Barber Beefcake), and I wanted to give it a spin, but these two loud and obnoxious drunk chicks kept hogged the game the entire time (their loud and forced “OMG, I?m a girl, so why am I playing a video game?! LOL!!!” shtick, which is always grating, was particularly grating in this instance). Oh, and they had Super Mario Galaxy, and it was kinda tricky explaining to some how I was so familiar with the game, despite not playing it before hand at trade events?

On the DS side of things, the one standout was Master of Illusion. Basically, it teaches folks how to perform tricks and even comes with a deck of playing cards; some game modes have the player following instructions by simply playing along with said deck, like pulling out a few cards, and by following the instructions, the game ?reads your mind? to figure out what you chose. It?s pretty neat! Though there was this other mode in which you are presented a bunch of dates, and you choose one, then the game once again tries to figure out what it is. This part relies on the player to do stuff like rub the top screen, even though its not touch sensitive, the game “knows” this, by constantly reminding you. But I ended up screwing up, but not enough to effect my answer, but it apparently did; it asks you to rub the screen in a very specific manner? and it matters cuz its magic! And when I explained this to the demo person, he offered an explanation of how it works, and that resulted in him explaining that they have scientifically deduced that everyone would choose such-and-such date, which is pretty b.s., especially since I didn?t! Still a neat little thing, though.

Thursday night was EA?s post holiday-thing, and the highlight that evening was most definitely Burnout Paradise. Now here?s the thing, and I believe I?ve explained how I conduct myself at press events in the past before, but once again: nothing gets me more than jerky game journalists who have to show off how “smart” and “witty” they are by needlessly giving PR people a hard time. Guess what, they more than likely already know whatever the hell they are showing off sucks; they?re not idiots, they?re just doing their jobs, and that needs to be understood. I naturally don?t like everything I see, but I try to keep a positive attitude, and stick to the task at hand, which is to learn as much as I can about whatever game. Granted, sometimes said PR person might try a bit too hard, by severely stretching the truth, though once again, that person is only trying to do their job, which I can respect. It?s only when something is said that is either an outright lie, or totally insult?s one?s intelligence, or anything else that is as severe will I feel the need to go all Ed Bradley.

Let?s get the positives out of the way first and foremost: the game looks BEAUTIFUL. Still shots does not do the game justice, but they?re still very pretty on the eyes:

It?s the first real-deal racing game for the PS3 and Xbox 360 to run 60 fps, and EA was very proud of this fact; the PR guy that walked me through the game claimed it was the first 60 fps next-gen racing game, period, but there is Gran Turismo HD, as well as the Burnout 4 remake, but since both of those were last gen titles with graphical face-lifts, they don?t really count, hence the use of the term “real-deal”.

Though most importantly, the art direction looks to be back on track. Specifically, the cars, when roughed up, still look pleasing to the eyes, unlike those in the 360 remake, where they went for something… and thoroughly failed. So yeah, Paradise is hella sexy pretty. And… that?s where the positives end, I?m afraid. Got bad news for you Dave: this ain?t Burnout 3, that?s for damn sure. Where to begin?

Well, first off, the structure is vastly differently. Instead of choosing races and other game modes from a menu like in previous Burnouts, you start off driving around in a city, looking for race opportunities. Okay… that sounds great on paper, but as proven in Need For Speed Underground 2 (I think it was 2; I kinda lost track after a while), it can quickly become extremely boring and confusing. Though to be fair, unlike Underground 2, in which you?re supposed to look for opponents, which sometimes resulted in long stretches of nothing happening because no one else is around, and then you have to go through the hassle of stopping them, here you just come to a stoplight, any one, and by just hitting the L2 and R2 buttons, bam, you?re instantly in an event.

The thing is, Paradise?s attempt at creating some dynamic world where all this stuff is happening all at once is neat and all, but that?s really not what Burnout is all about. It?s about driving with reckless abandon and getting in stupid crashes. But more specifically, its about just getting in on the action as fast as possible, in a heartbeat. And now I have to go about slowly, looking for stuff. Eh… So instead of having a rather handy menu that tells you what races modes are available and which lets you make selections, you know have to memorize what stoplights and intersections are associated with whatever event. There?s a map that gives info as well, but still, it all just seems like a big, massive distraction.

Anyway, once you get yourself into a race, you race! But get this: at any time, if you get bored or whatever, you can just not do anything for five seconds, and you?re instantly out of the race and back to just riding around town. I guess that?s convenient, but makes the whole act of playing a bit too non-committal. Dare I say too “casual”?

Some of the mode from past Burnouts have made it over, such as Road Rage. Others, have not, like Crash events. In fact, Impact Time, Aftertouches, and Crashbreakers are completely absent. Yes, I know. Lame as fuck. In its place is something somewhat different, and kinda neat: after a crash, you can roll your car around, and even make it flip flop all over the place like a fish out of water with the X button. A meter goes down, which can be filled up and maintained if contact is made with other vehicles. There?s one mode in which you are presented with a road packed with cars, with the goal being to crash into one car and then continue hitting car after car after car. I ended up continuously “hopping” from one car to another, as if it was some platform game. Pretty neat.

But as great all the new stuff was, it just didn?t feel like Burnout, especially with all the stuff that everyone knows, and loves, long gone. Again, it?s nice that they?re trying to make the world all expansive and alive, but Burnout fans could give two shits. It?s all about the racing and crashing, again and again, one after another and another and another, so the second you make that even a tiny bit of hassle, you?re fucking with the player. Period.

It?s been said by many that the series peaked with part 3 and that everything since has been second (or third) best because it didn?t offer exactly what people wanted. The designers did try to offer something new and fresh afterwards, but none of that was necessary. And to be honest, the new additions and changes actually messed up what worked (like many of the added mechanics in part 4, or all the absolutely confusing and unnecessarily bullshit of part 5). In fact, I brought this all up, about how if EA was to simply port 3 and be done with, people would be happy. But the response was that the designers wanted to do something new and different. Which is great and all, but again, at the expensive at continually frustrating the fans? The response to this was basically ?Listen, EA gets plenty of flack for pumping out Madden after Madden.? Which is a super excellent point. But it?s not necessarily applicable here. With Madden, or so I hear, since I don?t play it, EA has made the game 95% perfect, and people keep buying it year after year for a 100% perfect version, because there has never been one. But with Burnout, we already have a 100% perfect version, and ever since, it?s been 90%, 70% (actually, the last one for the PS2 exclusively, Dominator, sucked, so I?m giving it a 50%).

It was about this point when the PR guy went into full bullshit mode, but stating how this latest Burnout was the fastest one yet, which was so not true; the sense of speed was there, don?t get me wrong, but Burnout 3 and 4 felt WAY faster. He even stated that Paradise was the very first attempt at creating a dynamic world in any racing game, with the looking for races by stumbling across them, which was when I had to go “Wait a minute dude… It?s already been done! In Underground 2!” It?s one thing to claim to be first to do such and such, when someone else clearly already has, but when that someone else is your own company? Ridiculous. This person also claimed, to save face about how bad Dominator was, that Criterion didn?t make it, but I?m pretty they were involved, at least in some capacity… EDIT:I was right.

The PR guy pressed on by showing me the online component. So two players can engage in a challenge mode in which you both have to do the same stunts together, often resulting in crashing into each other in some fashion. The set piece I was shown had my guy driving across a gap, with the idea of crashing head on with the other player who was doing the same, but on the opposite side. It was cool when it actually happened, but it took a great deal of fussing about. Again, not fast, not brainless, not Burnout. There?s also a thing where whoever pulls whatever off the best, or fucks up, I forget how, gets their picture taken with USB camera. I guess it?s a take off the snapshots one gets when a stunt is pulled off in the game (often out of the blue, so it?s a pleasant surprise), but in real life. Gay. Who really cares about this stuff?

By the end, I kept going, “This is neat and all, but it?s just not Burnout!” Which prompted the PR guys (the other who was the second player during the online challenge overheard me grilling the first dude and decided to lend a hand) to end things by basically stating “Okay dude, if you want Burnout 3, then go play Burnout 3, cuz this ain?t it. Got it?” And I guess that?s all that needs to be said then! Again, kudos for trying something new, but in this case, it was so not necessary. There?s a reason why Gran Turismo continues to sell boatloads of copies, year after year, sequel after sequel; it found what works and stuck with it, and have simply made it prettier. For once, EA should consciously use the Madden formula on another series.

Back to Nintendo, last night was the big midnight launch event for Super Mario Galaxy at the Nintendo World Store, which I was supposed to cover, but I was just too drained from the past weekend to make it. So didn?t yuck it up with fellow Mario-diehards in the freezing cold till 1 in the morning, nor grabbed a copy before anyone else, I?m afraid. Though thankfully, Nintendo is sending me a copy, cuz we?re cool like that. As for why I was so exhausted…

BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE

In addition to EA and Nintendo, Katie also came to town, for a series of interviews for Amity Teachers; she?s looking into working abroad, to teach Japanese school kids English. So Katie was my very first guest in my brand new digs. But since most of my stuff is still in boxes, that meant no DVD watching (it?s kind of a tradition of ours to watch MST3K or Evil Video whenever she comes to NYC) or much video game playing (though Katie did bring her DS and was able to check out Ubi Soft?s new line of Imagine games for girls that I recently received, which she?s still in the midst of playing actually, and she?ll be providing reviews of all of the games very soon!). So instead we bummed around the city, doing all sorts of stuff.

Friday afternoon consisted of lunch at Chipshop (deep fat fried Mars bar and a really bad Hermione painting for the win), hanging oout at Rocketship for a bit (I picked up some Iron Man books and dropped off some of my own), a stop at the American Apparel nearby (which wasn?t as swarthy an experience as I expected it to be), and stumbling across a discount candy store in the Lower East Side, where I was able to get a ton of primo Brit candy for the cheap. And later that evening, Hilary joined us for dinner at that primo ramen shop she introduced me previously, though I had the curry this time. Top topic of conversation? The clone comic that Katie will be illustrating of course!

Later on, the three of us went karaoke-ing, and as expected, it was a total blast. I kicked things off with a very angry rendition of Burning Down the House, by Talking Heads of course, and Shout, by Tears for Fears. I also did a couple of duets; Ace of Base’s classic, The Sign, with Hilary and View To A Kill with Katie (who I, swear to God, I listen to at least once a week, not because I?m some diehard Duran Duran fan but because I?m a diehard James Bond fan). We kinda tore the house down with that last one, if I don?t mind saying so myself.

The evening was not devoid of a cast of colorful characters. Whether it be the weird drunk guy who sang some rock song that none of us could recognize and who didn?t even really so much sing but growled most of it, but the dude had soul (who later got on Hilary?s case for opting to sit and not stand while singing Against All Odds by Phil Collins), or the Asian girl that chose one insufferably shitty show tunes after another and who looked JUST like internet urban legend Bryan Peppers, or Hilary?s new boyfriend, this dude that was there all by himself, to fulfill his dream of being Neal Diamond; Hilary said one nice thing to the guy, and next thing you know, he?s winking at her and she?s had to do her damn best to avoid eye contact with him the rest of the night.

The whole night was awesome, even afterwards when, while standing on St. Marks, some taxi cab passed by and hit us with a tidal wave of street water from a huge puddle formed from rain earlier that evening (as Katie coined “surprise bukkake”). The fucker did that one purpose, I bet. Anyhow, we all got drenched, with Hilary getting the absolute worst of it; she was covered with it, head to toe. So was Katie, but at least she wasn?t wearing a wool outfit like Hilary, who had plans to do stuff later that night, but instead had to go home and change. I myself only had half of my body hit, but I ended up swallowing a good deal of it; I have no idea why I didn?t start vomiting right there on the spot. And no, I did not develop any super powers as a result. Sadly.

The next night, Saturday, Katie and I made friends with some drunk black guy on the train that seemed particularly impressed with my new shoes, then had dinner at a very fancy Mexican restaurant that served the god damn strongest drinks ever, and the waiter was ultra cool, if a bit Borat-ish. Later it was dessert and cocktails at Kenka; our drinks had little paper umbrellas that Katie decided to collected, and when our Japanese waitress noticed this, the following thrilling conversation ensued:

“Do you like umbrerras?”

“Yes, I like umbrellas!”

End of conversation.

So What Did We Learn Last Week? (time for another forum wrap-up)

Time for yet another weekly round of stuff that’s been posted over at the forums. Actually, it’s been a bit of a slow week; I myself haven’t been able to spend that much time there, plus I know everyone’s been busy. Though there’s a few interesting bits and pieces to check out. Such as…

- Via the general hacking/bootleg thread comes word that the dream of a all in one PS2 mod chip on a memory card is all but dead, though there is a USB variant, but it’s pretty expensive. Also, thanks to the Wii, we’re just all that closer to Minority Report.

- And via the stupid video game news story thread comes word that some little shit hired a hitman to off his parents for confiscating his PlayStation.

- The theme to Super Mario Bros, as performed via a tesla coil.

- It’s a fact: they eat dogs in Korea.

- Another fact: people who work at Gamestops are retards.

- Air traffic as art.

- The random pictures thread keeps getting better and better:

- And the random videos thread is how chock filled with exorcisms, vagina puppets, and furniture for those with bad credit.

- Is it true love or viral marketing? You be the judge. I still say the latter.

- Then again, why try to find love via the internet when one can do it at… a Jedi training center?

And two highlights from the Chamber of Secrets:

- Seriously, the best r&b song ever (NSFW).

- And here’s something that will have to stay hidden; before there was Bottle Fruit, and now we also have… Canned Peaches.

… BTW, for those who want to join, simply signing up will sadly not work, since anyone’s registration will simply get lost in the sea of spam bots. So to not get lost in the shuffle, after registering, also be sure to drop me a line with your username. Thanks!

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