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clubkill237 Blog

Welcome iPhone!

I have always been pessimistic about mobile games and their potential. Who wants to play on that tiny screen with those cramped buttons?

I am hoping things will be different on the iPhone. I have played many of them since being a part of the SlideToPlay launch and it has been a real mixed bag. I know that bag sites may not be covering them just yet, but if you are interested, browse over and check out some iPhone Reviews. the editor-in-cheif is ex-GameSpot editor Steve Palley.

Bad in the Worst Way

I came across this fictional letter from the worst-rated player in Madden 07 to John Madden.  Besides being hilarious it does make some valid points about how players are rated in that game. 

Enjoy!


Bad in a bad way

For those of you who have not done a lot of snooping through the back catalog of GameSpot content may have missed some of the video reviews for the worst of the worst games. These games are so bad that is not even funny, but luckily the video reviews are!

Take a peek. You will encounter the likes of:

  1. Andrew Park doing video reviews (yeah, that guy!)
  2. Ryan Davis with blond hair!
  3. The trivia robot!
  4. A meatball sandwich!
And that is just in the first two pages!

Here they are in all their glory. (the video reviews have the film icon on them.)

After Hours!

There are so many things going on here at GameSpot nowadays it can be hard to keep track of it all, even when you work here! This has been especially true recently with all the coverage coming in from the recent trade shows and the new console launches on the horizon. One event that I did not know too much about is After Hours. I finally got brought up to speed this morning at a meeting and it is looking really good.

There are going to be a lot of unreleased games and hardware to play. I can't be too specific about this yet, but there is some stuff that I was really surprised to hear about. Developers are also going to be showing off some exclusive new stuff that is usually reserved for exhibition to industry insiders.

From a technical standpoint there is a lot going on for the online audience. It is quite an achievement and I have the utmost respect for my fellow developers who have put some of it together. There are remote control cameras, and five different feeds to watch along with the usual live chat, questions for editors, and game trivia. There will also be tons of live show to watch. From the meeting this morning it really sounds like a lot of effort is being put in to make the experience online just as amazing as being there in person. I kinda want to bring a laptop so that I can hit up some of the live online stuff as well. For those of you who can't tune in live we will have all the video up to watch at a later time (this is a big one for me as I have to catch a lot of our shows after the fact).

Today was the first time I got to actually hear what was going on and get legitimately excited. There will be a lot of tournaments, shows, music, game demos, and more. Oh, and for those emblem-hunters there will be some fun for you folks too. Anyway I know I sounds like a blatant GameSpot promoter, but after hearing some of the things that will be there I am really looking forward to it.

PC Retrospective - Day 2 - Syndicate

Syndicate (1993)

Why it was great:Cybernetics-enhanced trained operatives with big guns making a mess of things. Violence in 1993, or, Violence? In 1993?

Syndicate tasked you with more or less taking over the whole world in a highly corporate, cyber-punk future. To accomplish this you got to earn money from various missions and upgrade your operatives with new body parts and weapons. The game was great because these upgrades usually corresponded with very appreciable feedback. If you put some new legs on an operative he or she would easily outrun her un-upgraded counterparts. If you added a rocket launcher to your arsenal, it became a lot easier to make things go away. It also let you jack your operatives full of drugs, in effect trading short-term gains for the negative effects of dependency you acquired later.

The style of the game was also very memorable. Hover cars floated around the streets, obeying traffic laws. Video billboards hawked products and the streets would actually be populated by innocents. The game made good use of the isometric perspective, allowing for a three-dimensional feel while still being sprite-based. Pre-rendered cutscenes of the city and situation rooms provided more depth to the atmosphere, and were welcome in a game that weighed in at under 7 megabytes.

As much fun as the system was, it was not without frustrations. The missions would sometimes get a little repetitive. Also, it was sometimes difficult to keep track of your various operatives if they were spread out over the map. Nothing was more frustrating than taking care of a hard mission only to have one of your stragglers be run over by a hover car when you are not paying attention. Overall, the depth and style of Syndicate kept me coming back to it. It was always fun to watch the world map be gradually taken over by your syndicate. It definitely spurred the desire to keep playing and getting more upgrades. They had such a tangible effect on your game that it was hard to not keep playing 'Just one more mission'.


PC Retrospective - Day 1 - The Secret of Monkey Island

Most of the attention nowadays is aimed at the next generation of consoles. It is easy to overlook the platform that has been around since the beginning; the PC. Consoles have come and gone along with a healthy dose of my leisure hours, but it is the PC that played host to some of my longest and strongest game addictions. Ignoring the edutainment I found at school, my first home gaming computer was a Macintosh LC. For those of you unfamiliar with this beauty, it came hot off the line with a 16mhz 020 processor, 2 MB of RAM, and 256k of VRAM. The price tag: $2,500.

Over the next few weeks I am going to looks back at some of the great PC games (and hardware?) that robbed me of my free time and left their mark on the future of gaming. This will no way be a comprehensive list, but more a retrospective of the some of the classics that may be lost but should not be forgotten. I hope to update the list often as time permits.

The Secret of Monkey Island (1990)

Why it was great: A top-flight adventure game from the days when story and style mattered more than the numbers of shaders a game uses; lots of pirates.

The late eighties and early nineties were the halcyon days for the point-and-click adventure games. The SCUMM engine was king, being the force behind many of the classics like Day of the Tentacle, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Maniac Mansion to name a few. These games showed us that you can interact with anything via a short list of commands (Push, Pull, Open, Close, Take, Talk, etc.). You could say that these games were the evolution of the text-based adventure; sharing the same gameplay structure but with some graphics slapped on and no typing. Though everybody probably has their favorite adventure games, Monkey Island is the one that sticks out in my head.

The atmosphere of the game was great. The music was catchy and fit the images very well. The art was great and really allowed you to get immersed in the world. It always seemed to be nighttime, and the doors and windows would spew an inviting orange light out into the street inviting you to keep playing and poking around. The main character Guybrush Threepwood was different from most other video game protagonists in that he was part klutz, part idiot, part hopeless romantic, but completely sympathetic at the same time. It definitely preyed on my nine-year-old’s desire to be a pirate. All the characters were memorable and still seem more human the one of the drones walking around the streets in Oblivion, for example.

The game was not without its frustrations. Like many of its contemporaries, it was very easy to get stuck in the game. These games would not hold your hand and would contain some painfully unobvious puzzle solutions. This would sometimes drive me to call up my buddies who had beaten the game or one of the ubiquitous tip lines that existed in the day. It was always satisfying when you did figure something out though, and then you could be the expert that your friends hit up for solutions.

In summary, the game struck a great balance of interaction and story and had very few weak points. It somehow managed to be serious enough to be immersive and yet comical enough to be one of the funniest games ever made. Sword fighting was done by leveling insults at you opponents, ghost pirates were stopped by root beer, and Q-Tips opened magical doors. The game even featured meta-humor, often poking fun at other LucasArts titles or even its own game mechanics. It did not take itself too seriously and was better for it. It is a fine example of the art of making video games.

Runners Up: Indiana Jones, Day of the Tentacle, Space Quest, King’s Quest

The Fountain

I am a big fan of Darren Aronofsky. His last two offerings, Pi and Requiem for a Dream have been amazing. Though the latter reached higher acclaim and was more accessible to a broad audience, Pi was also an amazing work that managed to engage me despite sporting a smaller budget and more gritty film school aesthetic.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the soundtracks for the two movies, which contributed heavily to their success in my opinion. Clint Mansell contributed to both, being a part of a compilation of amazing electronic musicians for Pi and working with the Kronos Quartet for a "knock you on your ass" powerful score. The Requiem for a Dream soundtrack had tracks that conveyed total isolation and loneliness and also had tracks with the gravity to appear on one of the LOTR movie trailers.

This made it very exciting to see that he was coming out with a new movie. It is called The Fountain, and appears to be based on fountain of youth lore. Obviously someone felt that Aronofsky deserved a budget because of the degree of special effects and solid cast. The trailer looks interesting. It promises an epic story that spans 1000 years. For some reason it made me think of the amazing sci fi book Canticle for Leibowitz which everybody should read if you are a fan of the genre.

Anyway, I hope that the movie is great and does not get mired in special effects and trying to hard to be everything to everybody which often happens when there is a significant investment in a movie. For some reason watching the trailer also made The Cell pop into my mind. Please no.....

The trailer is here, let me know what your impressions are.

WWOWKD? My first force powers!

Last week I was hanging out with world renowned mobile games consultant Steve Palley at my local jazz haunt.  We were enjoying some tunes over a tall Boom Boom Ale when a woman broke away from her gaggle to talk to us.  This would not have been such a problem if she had something to say more interesting that the music.  After a few minutes of well-placed nodding on my part she remarked how her and her friends were moving on to another venue.  She seemed to have gotten the impression that we might be interested in joining her.

At this point I dug deep into my psyche for a solution for this problem.  I raised a beer-emboldened hand, waved it in front of my face and spoke in a calm voice, "These are not the droids you are looking for".  To my surprise and delight she walked away!  I have yet to be able to move anything with my mind or detect when Ryan Davis is approaching, but my initial success has been encouraging.  It has also brought legitimacy to my new mantra and source of strength: What Would Obi Wan Kenobi Do?
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