Remember High Fidelity? It's a movie in which a very memorable trio of record-store employees, portrayed by John Cusack, Todd Louiso, and Jack Black, make up lists of their top five albums that fulfill certain qualities, and they then proceed to argue about whose choices are more snobby and esoteric. The movie may have been exaggerated, but it represents a very real type of conversation that people have regarding all of their favorite pastimes, including video games.
In this inaugural edition of GameSpot's Pick Five feature, we asked several GameSpot editors to meet this criteria: "Pick five games you have in your collection because you think it makes you look cool." Without much guidance (and with our tongues notably implanted in our cheeks), the editors were asked to interpret and answer the question in seclusion, which we now present to you in raw form.
Once you've finished reading their choices, head on over to the Features Forum and assemble your own Pick Five. Are you the Jack Black to our John Cusack? You can make any choice you want, but you can only Pick Five.
Bob Colayco | Editor
Here's the common theme among all these games--they're all sitting on my shelf, still in the shrink wrap. I bought these games either on the strength of an eager, glowing review or word of mouth. Once the package finally arrived or I got home with the box, the euphoria of finally owning such an obscure masterpiece or genre-defining game wore off, and I realized I really didn't care to play the game anymore. In my mind, that's the true definition of owning a game strictly out of vanity--you never even bothered to play the game in question!
Greg Kasavin | Executive Editor
Wait, hold on just a second. No one ever told me anything about games making me look cool. I grew up carefully attempting to hide the fact that I was obsessed with computer and video games, but failing miserably to do so. But at least I had enough time and money to support my addiction, since, to be honest, I wasn't exactly scoring all the hot dates. But hey, that was then and this is now, and today, if you don't have an opinion on what's going to happen to the Master Chief and how awesome Grand Theft Auto is, you're nobody. So does the opposite make you somebody, and more importantly, does it make you cool? Let's find out. Following are the five games in my collection that crystallize my coolness. I list them in alphabetical order below, because of how cool alphabetical order is.
Carrie Gouskos | Features Editor
When I first started playing video games, I was too young to actually think or care about whether people thought I was cool for playing them. Besides, everybody I knew had a Nintendo; it wasn't so much a status symbol as it was equivalent to owning shoes...or LEGOs. Anyway, flash forward 10 years or so, and I guess I fell into the idea that playing video games made me a certain way. And because I played them so much, I had to get superdefensive about it and act like they were cool, even if I had no basis for thinking so.
Over the years, I've bought a lot of video games and video game systems. Most of them were because I had a genuine interest in them, but on occasion it's been out of the need to make my collection better. The sad thing about collector's items is that these games are usually the ones that I've got the least interest in playing. I'm one of those I'll-only-play-this-JRPG-if-it-has-"Final"-and-"Fantasy"-in-the-title people. Yet, because these games were once rumored to be worth more than $50, I've had to purchase them all. And then I can drop in conversation that I own a game that's worth over $100, a game that I have never wanted to nor ever will want to play, but is worth something to someone somewhere, until they rerelease it. I'm like those people who refuse to buy boxes that have the Greatest Games stripe on them.
About five years ago, I purchased Dragon Warrior III for $40, Dragon Warior IV for $50, Suikoden off of someone for a fluke $10 (even though it was supposed to sell for $50), and Suikoden II for $30. A friend of mine gave me a copy of Earthbound. All of those games were estimated quite rare and valuable by various collector's sites and selling on eBay for upward of $100 each. I checked eBay this morning, and I guarantee you that I couldn't get what I paid for those games back, let alone $500 for the lot.
Five games that I couldn't be less interested in playing, which I absolutely had to have, and will never ever sell because they round out my collection. So yeah, I have all the NES Dragon Warrior games. I don't know what that means, but I have them anyway.
Alex Navarro | Associate Editor
Jeff Gerstmann | Senior Editor
Let's face it, nothing says "I'm cool" quite like having a large collection of games. Well, actually, most of the people that see my game collection (or at least the recent stuff, which is the only stuff that's on display in my living room) are somewhat troubled by the disturbing number of games I have. To people that aren't spending significant amounts of time playing games, seeing 1,000 games all in one place can be a little intimidating. But there's an easy way to calm them down. And that's where my list comes in.
Make no mistake, this list isn't for you. If you're reading this article, chances are you'd be more interested in my Japanese copy of Rez or the creepy, unopened copy of MiniMoni: Shaker and Tambourine! Dapyon! that I have. Or my fine collection of games for the Famicom Disk System. Or even my fine collection of Make Your Own Music Video Sega CD titles. But most of the people I come into contact with, and most of the people that roll through my place, only want the classics. And by "classics" I mean "recent stuff they've heard of, played, and are acceptable from a mainstream gaming perspective." What, you didn't really think I was going to say that Madden was a cool game, did you?
More often than not, the mainstream audience is onto something. I mean, millions of people don't run out and buy Grand Theft Auto games because they're bad games. They buy them because they're actually (well, usually anyway) awesome games. Same deal with Halo 2. Hey, I finished the single-player, sunk some time into multiplayer, and moved on. But chances are there's a legion of dudes with backward baseball caps out there right now, playing matchmade games and calling each other gay while waiting for their soul patch to grow in. Not to overly generalize, of course, but those millions of players aren't wrong.
Guitar Hero might fool your non-game-playing friends into thinking you're some kind of wicked musician. And you look either more or less foolish than you do when you're playing DDR, but it's also a bit tougher to grasp. If there are girls at your house and they are drinking alcohol, DDR is probably a better choice. Hey, flip a coin, I guess.
And then there's The Guy Game, which has boobs in it. And not Team Ninja boobs, either. Real ones. That game's pretty lame, but it can capture a crowd's attention like nobody's business. You know, if I'm going to be honest, people don't really come over to my place to play games very often. They come over to watch The Knife Show. But that's a story for a different time.
And now for your Pick 5...
With 27 games playable at Nintendo's Wii booth at E3 2006, there seem to be a hefty number of exciting games to choose from for the console's launch later this year. But though Nintendo's E3 wasn't short on games, it was short on announcements, as the press conference came and went without mention of the system's price point, launch date, or launch lineup.
All we know about the launch is that it's slated to happen before the holiday season and that we'll know more about it in September. For people who have been speculating and rumoring about the system since its announcement over a year ago, any bit of news is worth discussing until it's finalized, so there has been, understandably, quite a lot of talk surrounding the Wii's release date. The most recent of this came from Sports Illustrated for Kids, which revealed a November 6th release anecdotally in a recent issue. Nintendo is denying this claim, saying that they still intend to ship in the fourth quarter, but have not confirmed specifics.
Dates aside, there's plenty else to rumor about Nintendo, most specifically the launch lineup. When the console was announced, president Satoru Iwata stated that an online version of their fighting franchise Smash Brothers would be available at launch. Since we saw only a glimpse of Super Smash Brothers Brawl at E3 this year, that might not be likely. But of the games we did see, there's plenty enough to make a suitable launch lineup. Nintendo is still staying mum on the issue, but we sure hope at least the Mario or Zelda game is available along with Wario Ware (which seems quite likely) and a few other of the unfranchised Wii titles like Wii Sports and Wii Music. The potential for a really strong launch lineup seems to be there, let's keep our fingers crossed.
PS3 Online Plans
For the PlayStation 2, Sony's online plans were virtually nonexistent. Sure there was online, and it was successful for a number of games, most notably sports titles and the SOCOM franchise. But it wasn't as centralized and easy as Xbox Live. So when Sony began speaking of their online strategy, we could only hope that they lifted it straight from Microsoft's highly competent program.
From the brief glimpse we got at E3, it seems like this is what they could very well be the case, with one added bonus; it's going to be free. Or at least, access to the community aspect of their online service (messaging, player profiles, and friends list) will be free. Since Sony Executive Vice President Kaz Hirai likened the online strategy to that of air conditioning in a car (not an El Camino we hope), it also seems that it will come packaged in with every system.
The only thing we've seen of the program in action is an example of how players can purchase additional content (sound familiar?) using the karaoke game, SingStar, as an example. During the Sony press conference at E3, Sony exec Phil Harrison detailed how people would be able to use their PlayStation Card to purchase licensed songs for the game. All other details, however, including the pricing plan for the additional content, and whether or not Sony is going to attempt to compete with Xbox Live Arcade and Nintendo's Virtual Console are still quite secretive.
What we've seen so far is promising, but we don't reasonably expect to hear much more about it until at least TGS, and even then, it's still possible that Sony will sit on the secret of online for quite some time. Don't keep us waiting.
Greg M: Testimonial:
Wii Virtual Console Games
When Nintendo announced that its then-named Revolution would feature the virtual console, an opportunity to let users download and play games from the company's back catalog, it seemed like the perfect fit. Nintendo's success has built upon decades of extraordinarily popular systems, the dominant NES and SNES notably topping the list. Most video game enthusiasts have built in nostalgia for Nintendo, so the strategy is that if their new console doesn't appeal, perhaps access to their old ones will.
While GDC isn't typically the place for companies to make huge announcements, the biggest buzz at this year's GDC came from Nintendo president Satoru Iwata who announced that aside from Nintendo's own properties, that Sega and Hudson would be making many of their back catalog games available on the virtual console. That includes over 1000 games for the Sega Genesis, and a yet undisclosed amount of games from the TurboGrafx.
Specifics haven't been mentioned yet, but since their strategy is to cherry-pick the best games from each system (not sure how 1000 is cherry-picking, but hey we'll take it), we have some pretty good ideas about what we hope to expect. And all we can say is that if there are no Bonk games, we're going to be pretty upset.
There was a time when the notion of Microsoft making a console seemed like crazytalk. Yet, here we are in 2006, Microsoft has two consoles under its belt, and now there's discussion of a handheld. And it doesn't quite seem so crazy anymore.
Sure, getting into a market that has been dominated by Nintendo for so many years, seems like a risky endeavor, especially since (unlike the console market, which Nintendo had also dominated for years) it doesn't seem like Nintendo is giving up the throne anytime soon. Sony's first handheld, the PSP, has sold well enough, but still seems to be dwarfed by the technologically less impressive DS and GBA.
So why would Microsoft jump into the handheld market? Well, it seems like they're aiming more for the iPod than the GBA, at least that's what the first reports and rumors are circulating, with a system that will "include a device that plays media, a software media player, and an online media service". So is the Microsoft (codename) Argo the next N-Gage or some crazy hybrid between the iPod and the GBA? It could go either way. History hasn't treated multimedia devices that try to do too much, kindly, so we'll be interested to see how Microsoft handles the project. But then again, we were all kind of doubting the Xbox, so we've learned to just shut up and wait to see what happens.
Of course everything is still quite early at this point, but since we've been gossiping about a potential Microsoft handheld since the company announced it was getting into games five years ago, this is the first time said project sounds like a reality. With Microsoft frontman J Allard (J and the Argo, ha ha get it?) behind the project, it looks like we're going to be hearing a lot more about it very soon. We can't wait.
Tim S: Testimonial:
Super Smash Bros. Brawl Character List
Super Smash Bros. for the N64 and Super Smash Bros. Melee for the GameCube stand as two of the most engaging multiplayer games to grace Nintendo consoles in recent history. Given their extraordinary popularity, news of the future of the franchise is never received quietly by fans of those games.
When a next-generation Super Smash Bros. game was first mentioned by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, it was to say that an online version of the game would be available at the system's launch. Later it was revealed that the series creator Masahiro Sakurai was back at Nintendo to work on the project. Everything was looking good for Smash Bros. fans. There was, unfortunately, no sign of the game at this year's E3, making launch availability seem less likely.
All speculation and concern about the franchise was laid to rest at a Nintendo press conference the night after the first full day of E3. The bad news is that the game won't be making its way to the Wii until 2007. The good news is that there are a bunch of new exciting characters in the game. Old favorites like Mario, Kirby, and Pikachu will be joined by the Zero Mission version of Samus, Pit from Kid Icarus, and Kirby-villian the Meta-Knight. The biggest surprise of all, of course, was that Konami protagonist Solid Snake will also be a playable character in the game, and will use a lot of his own tricks, such as the cardboard box he typically uses for stealth in his own games.
At the conference, Sakurai answered that there were indeed many more characters going into the game, but wouldn't indicate who they were at that time. If any of them are as exciting as those announced at E3, it's going to be hard for us to hold out.
The inclusion of Solid Snake in Super Smash Bros. Brawl has me extra-excited about the game. While I wouldn't have normally thought of Snake as a Nintendo character (his two NES games aren't exactly exalted by creator Hideo Kojima, and the GameCube game was an underwhelming port), I'm happy to see this kind of collaboration underway. So to that I say, give me more, Nintendo! Give me Super Joe! Give me a playable Metroid! Give me Leon S. Kennedy! I want it all!
Guitar Hero 2 Track List
Guitar Hero, last year's breakout guitar-peripheral rhythm game from Red Octane, was surprisingly well put together. It made good use of the controller, it had a very well thought out learning curve, and it was nothing if it wasn't fun to play. But it wouldn't have been anything at all without the soundtrack, and the only thing that can be said poorly of the soundtrack is that it made us just want more.
The list of songs used in Guitar Hero spanned decades of rock music, and used classics from legendary guitarists in perfect harmony with a number of newer catchy hits. So when we found out that the recently-purchased Red Octane and developer Harmonix were at it again for a sequel, the first thing out of our mouths was "What's the song list?" Well, perhaps the first thing out of our mouths was "Is there going to be Van Halen?" but then shortly after we were asking about the rest of the song list.
Shortly before E3 we got a taste of the first seven songs in the game, which were playable on the show floor. Though the epically long War Pigs and bass-guitar masterpiece YYZ are a good start, we still want to what the rest of the list is going to entail. Specifically, will Iron Maiden's mini-opera Rime of the Ancient Mariner be the next Bark at the Moon? Will there be an actual Van Halen song instead of a Van Halen cover of the Kinks? And maybe most importantly, please please please put Guns 'n' Roses in the game, we implore you.
Though Red Octane is sure to tease us until the game's release later this year, we're holding our breaths. Rhythm games are only as good as their songlists, and we have every inclination that they're going to do us right, again. Please don't let us be wrong.
Halo 3 Release Date
It shouldn't surprise anyone that Microsoft's ace in the hole, yet again, is the upcoming game in its Halo series. The cult hit, and the game that may have been the very reason behind the Xbox's success, is one of the most highly anticipated games every time another version comes out. It doesn't matter if it's a sequel, an expansion, or a new novel in the Halo book series, people eat it right up.
We know it's slated for 2007 sometime, but we're still uncertain about far too many specific details. And like the rest of the universe, we're finding it hard not to be curious about what's going to happen to the iconic Master Chief this time around, especially since the last Halo left us with little-to-no ending to tide us over.
While there hasn't been too much information released just yet, the information we have gotten has been stretched out and teased just enough to make us go mad. When a company starts releasing the "making of" their E3 trailer, it's a sure sign that they know people are going to bite at anything they're offering.
Perhaps more interestingly is the question of whether or not new information about Halo 3 will be released via the traditional viral marketing, such as the website ilovebees.com which was used to promote Halo 2. We're certain that news will come, but we fear it will be in the form of tiny leaks that leave us still more speculative than certain about anything. But we love that pain just the same.
It all started with a remark that Bill Gates made to Time magazine last year. Gates predicted that the next chapter in the flagship Xbox franchise would be available for the Xbox 360 in time to blunt the launch of the PlayStation 3. Well, it turns out that Gates was speaking a bit rhetorically there. Halo 3 won't be out until next year, but the big question now is when? Will we have to wait until the 2007 holiday season? Is the game still going to be tied into the upcoming, Peter Jackson-produced Halo movie? (Speaking of which, what happened to that?) The whole Xbox world wonders.
You don't drag Bill Gates to his first E3 ever unless he's going to make a big announcement. At this year's Microsoft press conference, he did exactly that. Bill Gates after talking a bit about the future of Microsoft, a future that he has now relinquished to other people, announced their upcoming Live Anywhere program.
Part of Windows Vista, Live Anywhere will have one type of interface, one marketplace, and one friends list, the exact same one available on the Xbox 360 but embedded in Windows. People will be able to use Live Anywhere to share information between PC games, 360 games, and mobile phone games.
The one example they showed of Live Anywhere was with their forthcoming first-person shooter, Shadowrun. Director of platform strategy Scot Henson, led the demonstration which highlighted being able to show which system players on friends lists were on, whether it was 360, PC, or mobile phone. The insinuation is that you'll be able to share all sorts of information across the platforms, including achievement points, and quite possibly to carry games over from one system to the other. The potential for this is really quite huge.
As pointsaholics (most of us), we couldn't be more excited to find out how we will be able to achieve more of those happy little points. Live Anywhere could potentially damage the way the system works, but it could also be revitalize the whole thing. We're hoping for the latter, of course.
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