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Bokista Blog

Tis the Season to Br-dooww!

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I played Santa to myself this year, which means my gifts come earlier. I'm back from school but my mom is out of town taking care of my grandmother, so she didn't have any time to do holiday shopping. Instead, I turned to Amazon to pick out a few things for myself and found a copy of Rock Band in the store the other day. BTOWWWH!

Oh, you mean to say that I don't need to make a crazy noise every time I progress? Rock Band teaches otherwise. As you navigate the menus of the game it makes guitar sound effect. Though Guitar Hero did the same thing, it wasn't quite to the extent of Rock Band. As my friends and I play we just scream "BDTOW!! BRRDOOOWWW! BDTAA!!" It's a little annoying, but it's the price you have to play if you want to rock. Jeff Gerstmann was right when he said that Rock Band is this year's Wii Sports: the game that people come over and can play even if they don't play video games regularly. Well, Wii Sports is really this year's Wii Sports still, but Rock Band is a close second. BPTWAAAOWW!!

Now, you might be saying, "but, Bobby, you said you wouldn't be buying Rock Band." I did. And if you weren't saying that, you're now thinking, "Bobby, why did you just admit that you said that when you just as easily could have fooled us?" Touche. But technically I'm not buying it because it is a Christmas gift... Though, in reality, I've decided that life's just too short. I was playing Rock Band in the video game lab at my school during Finals and really fell for it. It's fun, as those of you who have played it know. So I kicked my convictions to the curb and that's the end of that. One thing that sold me on it is the potential for DLC in the marketplace. I'm hoping a lot of bands hop aboard the Rock Bandwagon (HA!) and start submitting stuff to Harmonix.

I'm also playing that game where Mario goes to space and the New York Times Crossword Puzzle game that one Rich Gallup loves so much. I can understand why, since it's all the fun of crosswords without the inky smudges. In fact, I even got some multiplayer going last night as we were watching the Redskins beat the Vikings. My friends girlfriend, who never touches video games, got really excited about NYT Crosswords and helped me to victory. She was also in an acapella group in college so when she sang in Rock Band our ears didn't bleed. It was a refreshing change of pace.

I wish you all a Happy Christmas and hope that your days are filled with family, friends, cookies, and games.

PS: BRGTDDOWW!!!

"The Ship of Spot" - I'm Sticking Around

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It was easy to jump off the ship when somebody told me it was sinking. Little did I know that somebody just put the captain on a rowboat and sent him off. We just assumed that we needed to be in those rowboats as well. Little did we know that maybe the ship had just sprung a leak. The other crewmates were told that they couldn't talk about the crack in the hull. Needless to say, everybody was in a bad position. Little by little the crewmakes started reassuring passengers and each other that they could take care of the vessel. They still couldn't talk about the damage to the ship, but other news sources came in and the passengers started putting things together.

I'm a passenger that has a theory, which I will elaborate on in a forthcoming telegram. It absolves the captain and the crew, and instead focuses on the shipping line company.

I'm tired of this metaphor, but to let you know, I'm sticking around to see where things go. GameSpot is good people and I have faith.

What I'd Like To See Next

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With all the news blogs out there, I rarely come to GS for news. I don't even read previews all that often. I basically only come here for reviews and user blogs. Oh, and The Hot Spot.

Like everybody else, I'm now concerned about how reviews can be affected by advertising. Unless they tell me otherwise, I don't know how I can trust the GameSpot reviews any more. 99% of them will probably be fine, but I can't take that chance. My dedication to this site has always been based on me trusting specific writers. Now that Jeff is gone, the only reviewer I actually like is Alex. Kevin and Aaron do fine work, but I don't have the connection with them. When Rich left, at least Jeff was still a part of the Hot Spot. When Jeff leaves... well, something is missing. I like Vinny, Ryan, Brad, Alex. But they need a Jeff.

Here's what I'd like to see in the future. I'd like to see Jeff start-up his own thing and hire a bunch of writers. I'd like to see that site be just reviews and a weekly podcast. There are so many other outlets covering everything - news, reviews, previews, catalogues, forums. My vision for Jeff's game site would work on a number of levels. First, it gives Jeff creative license. Second, by scaling down the scope of the site the infrastructure is cheaper to sustain. Because Jeff already has a following he would instantly have readers and the decade-plus experience he has in the industry wouldn't mean he's just some Jack trying to start a new site out of nothing. I'd read it, that's for sure.

As for GameSpot, it was a good run while it lasted and these things always seem to come to abrupt closes. I'm probably going to "retire" from the site, unless some visible changes are made. It will no longer be my source for reviews. It will not be getting my renewal money next time around. I'll come back to read user blogs and to keep up with the staff members I've enjoyed, but most likely I won't be updating mine any more. I do have a couple of other blogs and projects if you want to keep up. Add me to your favorite feed reader. I'll be adding my favorite users' blogs to my Google Reader feeds. Also, if you want to plug other places I can follow you, do so in the comments.

I hope CNET learns something from all of this. The second biggest thing (next to not letting ad dollars affect editorial decisions) is that they need some sort of PR mechanism to handle this. They say they're not allowed to comment on GameSpot employees past or present, which leads the public to believe only what they read. Given the number of former employees who have blogged on the subject, plus Tim's simultaneous departure, we know something's rotten in the state of Denmark. We'll have to see what unfolds in the next few weeks.

Ciao Mr. Gerstmann and Mr. Tracy.

**Note: Let it be known that I do not blame the entity we know as "GameSpot," but rather the suits handing down these dictum from on high. I really feel for all the innocents caught in the crossfire. I hope this is rectified for everybody else. I'll come back if the suits admit they did wrong and changes are made, for all the excellent employees' sakes.

Holding My Tongue

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I wanted to recognize the rumor that is circulating across the Internet right now, because I think it's an important story for us game players to follow. However, I will hold my tongue and reserve (or at least not outwardly express) my judgements until after the dust has settled and we can sift through the rubble.

Needless to say I hope this doesn't prove true because it sets a terrible precedent.

Switchball

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I try out most all games that hit Xbox Live Arcade. Why not? They're free! These demos sell me on games. Occasionally I'll be surprised by one of the original titles -- Assault Heroes, for one. But none of the original content (including Geometry Wars) has been as enjoyable as my recent experiences with Switchball.

Switchball is a action/puzzler (one of my favorite genres) where you play as a marble rolling around solving physics-based puzzles through a variety of methods. Your can transform your marble into different types, such as a metal ball for moving heavy objects, an air ball to ride on fans, or a jumping ball for climbing stairs and boxes. You control the ball with the left stick and the camera with the right stick. You have to use the A button for actions like jumping or dashing, but very rarely. The controls are extremely smooth and the simplicity compliments the beautiful serene environments of the game. Even the bashing metal ball is still relatively peaceful. When I play the game I feel relaxed -- great for the Finals Blues.

Go checkout the Switchball demo on XBLA and let me know what you think.

10 Favorite Games of the Last Generation

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I was thinking about Aaron Thomas's question about which game do you wish you could go back and replay as if it were the first time. I knew the answer was Metroid Prime, though I did think through possible other games. There were a lot of last generation games in contention, which made me wonder which were my favorite from that generation. I posed the question to the forum I run and listed my own. I made sure to say that to keep things simple, you don't have to rank them or explain them - just list the 10 of them. Console games only (PC's too hard to break into eras and handhelds can be for another thread).

Metroid Prime
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Metal Gear Solid 3
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3
Gran Turismo 3
Pikmin
Final Fantasy XII
Katamari Damacy
SSX Tricky

How about you?

No HTML To Be Poorly-Formed!

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Every so often I want to rip the head off of the blog text editor. " Your HTML is not well-formed - the entity you tried to use is not accepted." There is no HTML! I pasted straight text from Notepad into the HTML mode to ensure that there was no markup transferring. *Snaps some WYSIWYG necks*

Instead, you can read what I wanted to say here elsewhere. It's about my experience with the new iPod game from Harmonix "Phase".

Rock Band Impressions

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Today I was in a Best Buy and saw that they had a Rock Band demo setup. "How could pass this up?" I asked myself. I'll tell you how -- putting the Rock Band demo right next to the Guitar Hero demo. The geniuses at Best Buy didn't seem to understand that there could be a conflict there. So I'm trying to drum along to Black Hole Sun and the dude next to me is wailing out some Paradise City on the 360 next to me. Fortunately I wasn't in a rush so I was able to stalk the console until the Guitar Hero dude left.

I chose to play drums beause drums were there to be played. I kicked things off with Say It Ain't So in easy mode to get a feel for it, then stepped it up to Vasoline and Black Hole Sun on medium. There's something extremely satisfying about drumming. I think it's a similar feeling to playing Dance Dance Revolution. There's something even more tangible about drumming than playing the guitar -- you're actually moving your body parts to affect feedback. Unlike the guitar notes that slide under my finger, I smash the drum notes out of existence (much like you stomp the DDR arrows into the ground). It's also similar to Samba De Amigo and the dancing parts of Rayman Raving Rabbits. I've never played a Drumscape machine, but I now understand the appeal.

So, impressions. I wasn't impressed with the Rock Band art direction -- it doesn't have an interesting style like Guitar Hero. However, once you get four people playing at once it will be nice to have a very simple interface so that the screen doesn't get too cluttered. I think the song selection is excellent. I'm still sad that this is out of my price range, but judging from the equipment it seems like a reasonable price (it'd be nice if it came with a cheap mic stand, though). And while I won't be picking it up any time soon I will be more than happy to play it at a friend's house or in the video game lab here at school.

What's that Madden Update?

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I popped Madden 08 into my 360 today for the first time in a few weeks. XBL asked to update the game and I obliged. I wondered what it was or if I would even notice. Well how about it was extremely obvious once my first game got going.

Suddenly advertisements for The Simpsons Game were plastered all over Dallas Cowboy Stadium. I generally haven't minded product placement or advertising that fits into the world, but this was just obnoxious. Now I'm playing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and in the sea of red I can see giant yellow Simpsons signs sticking out like sore thumbs. Very annoying.