Wednesday, July 27, 2005

But Wait! There's More!

When watching an infomercial, one needs to resort to a mental tactic that is often applied to the average Hollywood blockbuster - suspension of disbelief. It really is the only way to get past some of the contrivances introduced by corporations that are clearly far more concerned with selling a product than with something as inconsequential as logic. These extended commercials weave a world every bit as outlandish as something out of a Star Wars film, a world where friends stand in the kitchen for hours, discussing the merits of a new range of non-stick pans, all whilst asking each other redundant questions and unleashing disturbingly wholesome smiles. In this alternate universe, overly friendly strangers constantly barge into your home, right before spilling wine on your carpet and then offering to clean it immediately using a wondrous machine of potentially alien design.

I made a brief foray into this very world this afternoon and witnessed an enthusiastic demonstration of a new magical substance that can be applied to your car in order to ensure its safety.

Scene:

Two guys are standing in a suitably deserted locale and are, unsurpisingly, having a fascinating and completely one-sided conversation regarding this amazing product. After rubbing it on your precious vehicle, it is supposed to protect the shiny paintwork from the harshest of conditions and the most extravagant of attacks from key-wielding ex-girlfriends.

At this point, one gentleman expresses disbelief in the other's statements. Oh ye of little faith! With the car (which happens to be the same model as mine) conveniently parked in the background, it seems only obvious that a demonstration is in order. At the snap of a finger, several men equipped with acetelyne blowtorches materialize and apply their tools to the side of the car. I'm not certain how things would play out with any other kind of blowtorch, but the fact that "Acetelyne Blowtorch" flashed prominently on the screen must be of some importance.

Regardless, the black scorching of the super-heated flames is easily wiped away by a mere cloth, revealing a still shiny layer of paint underneath. Truly miraculous! Being regularly attacked on the roads by lunatics with blowtorches, I was obviously intrigued right away and could definitely see my need for such a product. However, I was truly convinced by what transpired next.

"Well? Do you believe me now?"

"Gee...I'm not sure. What if something even WORSE happens to my car?"

"Worse than being beset by intense ACETELYNE flames?"

"Hey, you never know! Ha ha!"

"Ha ha indeed! Let's blow your car up!"

"Okay!"

So, in a moment of unmatched cinematic intensity, a pair of gloved hands slowly opens a box labeled "Explosives" and removes a trio of red cylinders attached to a long fuse. The package is placed beneath the car and set alight.

KERPLOW! (or whatever suitable sound effect you have in mind)

With smoldering debris raining from the sky all around them and a thick plume of smoke enveloping what little remains of the car, the two men waltz towards the closest discernible piece of charred metal.

"Wow, the car was completely obliterated!"

The other guy pauses for a moment, bends down and wipes off an obscure piece of metal wedged into the ground.

"Yes, but just look at the paintjob!"

Naturally, I leapt out of my seat right away, rushed off to the nearest store and purchased this fantastic product. Tonight, I can rest easy with the fact that in the event of my car exploding and being reduced to smithereens, I won't have to worry about the paint getting scratched.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Xbox Living

If you happen to be perusing this blog and the thought "Gee, if only I could play some games with this guy on Xbox Live!" crosses your mind, go ahead and hit me up on Live. Unsurprisingly, my Gamertag is MrGenuchi.

That is all.

Frogging

Though work continues on a secret project, I've managed to set aside some time for this blog, my own little corner of the internet. Doing so wasn't easy, since

A) I really don't have a lot of free time at the moment.

and

B) Everybody knows the internet is a giant, circular hut.

There is somewhat of a sordid and tumultous history between gamers, Peter Molyneaux and his overzealous action-RPG, Fable. A twisted love triangle built upon broken promises and doomed peasant villages, the relationship between Peter, his creation and those that purchased it became even more strained this week, particularly if you were part of the group that anxiously awaited the arrival of Fable ever since it's Project Ego days. By now, everybody knows that the game simply failed to deliver on its life altering ambitions, though that was only the beginning of the saga.


Several months ago, Microsoft revealed that Fable would be ported to the PC, under the new moniker Fable: The Lost Chapters. Now, these chapters weren't so much lost as they were scrapped in order to finish Fable on time. New quests, new weapons, new areas and new hairstyles would be included in this definitive version of Molyneaux's epic, things that Xbox owners would simply have to miss out on. This, despite the fact that they had been the original supporters and had been waiting the longest in the first place.

Fast-forward to this week and you'll be intrigued to note that Microsoft is porting Fable: The Lost Chapters to the Xbox. That's right, the game has gone from Xbox exclusive, to completed PC version and then back to Xbox game. Now, the issues regarding Xbox owners being the last to receive the updated version of Fable (and they have to pay $20 for it, natch) are all worth discussing, but I'd like to point out something that could easily become an alarming trend.

Leap-frog porting.

"Well, it looks like I won't be taking that trip to the exotic island paradise of Guam this year."

"What are you talking about?"

"I've been working for Evil Axis Games for ten years, and this has been the most pathetic bonus I've ever received. I guess Flamin' Racing 2006 didn't sell all that well."

"Unfortunately, there's not much we can do about that. We released on every platform and advertised the hell out of it."

"Yeah, I know. If only...there was a way we could easily double sales. Like...if everybody bought the same game...twice."

"Oh, dream on. Nobody would buy the same game twice. There would have to be some sort of incentive."

"Like an extra car or something. But we couldn't release two versions on the same platform..."

"People would catch on to our mantra of corporate greed if we did that."

"I was going to say it wouldn't be the right thing to do, but that one works too."

"Wait. Wait. I just had this idea."

"How we could sell the same game twice?"

"No, about these singing ice-cream cones. Kids would love them!"

"Uh..."

"Wait! I just had this other idea too! About selling the same game twice?"

"Yes?"

"It's easy. First, we bring out the PS2 version. We wait until people buy that one. Then, we port it over to Xbox, only we include a new track and a new car."

"And custom soundtracks?"

"What are you trying to do, bankrupt us? No, just a new track and a new car. We wait for people to buy that one...uh, we call it the Director's Cut."

"And then what?"

"We port the Director's Cut back to the PS2! It costs us almost nothing and people buy it!"

"And then we add another track and another car and port it back to the Xbox?"

"You mean like...a director's cut of the director's cut?"

"Exactly! CHA-CHING!"

"Why would a director cut his own cut?"

"He could change his mind, you know? We could call it the Director's Other, Even Better Cut."

"Guam, here we come!"

Monday, May 30, 2005

Post-E3 Madness

Okay. So it did happen again. I don't owe you people anything.

I'm right in the middle of exams and have tons of E3 articles to write up - that's why I haven't posted anything new. I'll be updating as soon as time allows. It'll be a funny post about seafood and interesting hats.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Name Is Still Fundamentally Stupid

At last, the veil of silence has been shattered into smithereens and the next-generation Xbox has been revealed.

BUT FIRST!

Shattering the veil of silence? That is an entirely non-sensical statement and clearly needs further elaboration. How does one go about shattering a veil, exactly? Surely, in order to destroy a silky piece of cloth as it gracefully flutters in the breeze, one would have to tear it to shreds or cut it to ribbons - that's certainly not the same as shattering it into smithereens. It's a conundrum, to be sure, though its solution is well within reach when we consider the possibilities that the power of science provides.

By dipping said veil of silence into a vat of liquid nitrogen (a cauldron of liquid nitrogen should be equally effective), we will freeze it and force it into the realm of solids. Having accomplished that, we will traverse to the roof of a formidably high building and send the veil plummeting to its doom. Upon its impact with the concrete floor or the unprotected head of an old lady passing by, it will shatter into an untold number of pieces. Smithereens, if you will. Thus, we will have shattered a veil. Ingenious.

To rephrase: At last, the veil of silence has been dipped in liquid nitrogen and dropped from a great height, possibly injuring an innocent senior citizen in the process, and the next-generation Xbox has been revealed!



I like it.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Kleptomaniac Robot Boy

For the last few days, I've been playing the Xbox version of Mega Man Anniversary Collection, a perfectly emulated compilation of the Blue Bomber's side-scrolling exploits. It's been an interesting trip down memory lane, most of all in how this particular lane is filled with bottomless pits, floating platforms and ludicrously named robots intent on putting an end to my feeble existence. The gameplay is as enjoyable and challenging as ever, though the many pixel-perfect jumps required can sometimes lead one to think that "frustrating" and "sadistic" would be more appropriate words to use.It's all part of the charm though, as struggling to get past a certain point and finally getting it right is always immensely satisfying. All you need is some perseverance, patience and...third thing starting with "p".



It's amazing how much of this stuff you can remember. I expect this is largely to blame on all the time spent playing these games on the NES, minus the luxury of a save function. You got three lives and you were happy with that. Once they were gone, you'd go right back to the start of the level. The constant repetition of attempting and failing quite clearly represents a form of brainwashing, with useful tactics and boss patterns being engraved into the darkest recesses of the human brain for all eternity.

Apparently, that's an effect similar to what the artists (and I use that word with the utmost trepidation) behind the cover art for the original Mega Man release had in mind. If you value the sanctity of your mind, you will cast your eyes on something more pleasant...like the severed head of a squirrel or a burning train-wreck (or a combination of those).



This is the kind of thing that makes you wonder why certain human beings are allowed to continue their existence and it casts the very future of humanity in a dim, constantly flickering light. I don't even know where to begin. Perhaps I should make the astute observation that the gun-wielding freak pictured above is most certainly not Mega Man. The uncomfortably strange pose and vacant facial expression leads me to believe that this is, in fact, Seizure Man. I could also discuss his ridiculous helmet, frighteningly collossal shoulders and brightly colored codpiece...but I suspect it would be safer not to. This catastrophic illustration is either the result of a tragic misunderstanding or a critical mass of apathy.

"I just received our next assignment! It's from this obscure, Japanese company called Capcom."
"Oh? What is it that they need?"
"Well, they want us to put our considerable artistic skills towards an enticing cover for this new videogame."
"Videogames? I'm not really familiar with that territory."
"Relax, it's for kids. They don't care."
"Well, shouldn't we play the game first? To learn what it's about and draw, you know, inspiration? And stuff?"
"Friend, that attitude will get you nowhere. We have the title. MEGA MAN. That's all we need. We get inspiration from LIFE."
"That doesn't say much at all."
"Sure it does! For one, we know it's about a man."
"That narrows it down."
"Actually, it doesn't, but that's where we get to the next part."
"I was being sarcastic."
"So, he's a man, right? But he's also...MEGA."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means what it means. He's MEGA. He's really, really good."
"Good at what?"
"Being MEGA...MEGA-licious! MEGA-tastic!"
"You are destroying the English language. Stop. Please."
"Are you drawing anything yet?"
"I...fine. He's a Mega Man. What else?"
"He has a gun."
"What? Why does he have a gun?"
"Dude, you're not listening. He's MEGA. Mega Men have guns. It's been like that all through the ages."
"You can't draw conclusions like that!"
"Drawing! That's what you should be doing!"
"This won't end well."

Actually, it went well enough to warrant this additional abomination:



WRONG. I can only feel pity. Pity for the guy in that ridiculous costume, pity for the dragon that mistakenly wandered off its generic fantasy game cover and pity for whoever approved this piece of garbage.

"Okay, we're doing the cover for a game called Mega Man 2. Is anybody familiar with that?"
"Yes! I played the first game. Man, Iceman's stage was tough, what with all those flying platforms. Good thing I had the Magnetic Beam though, it was really -"
"I need you to stop being a geek now. Tell me what it's about."
"Sure. It's about this boy robot that -"
"Wait a second...boy robot?"
"Yes."
"I thought it would be about a man...a mega man."
"No, Mega Man is a boy robot."
"That doesn't make sense. I don't believe you."
"It's the truth. See, he has to fight evil robots, like Cut Man, Spark Man or -"
"So...he's fighting other men?"
"No, other robots."
"Then why isn't it Cut Robot or Spark Robot?"
"Anyway, he has to steal their powers from them."
"Steal? Is this something we want children exposed to? Rampant klemptomania?"
"Well, that's just how Mega Man is."
"But he's not Mega Man...he's Kleptomaniac Robot Boy!"
"I don't think you're following."
"Damn right! What are these Japanese companies pushing off on our fine American children? We're putting a goddamn MAN on the cover. And a dragon for good measure."

And with that, I'm off to fight Clown Man and Search Man. Yeah, Capcom pretty much ran out of good names after Mega Man 4.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Mmm...Pie.

Geez, has it been that long? This won't happen again.

I sometimes wonder if I've got my finger jabbed into one too many pies. In fact, I firmly believe that I'm currently poking, prodding and generally violating just about every pastry in the goddamn bakery. There's the cake of education, which is hard and bitter on the outside but sweet and creamy on the inside. There's my commitment to Digital Entertainment News, which comes in the form of multiple cookies on a weekly basis, each varying wildly in terms of size and quality. I'm trying to get a webcomic off the ground, maintaining relations with my friends and attempting to get enough sleep. I can't really work those three into my baking analogy. It was stupid to begin with, anyway.

This is also one of my projects, and I apologize for my delayed return. Updates will continue at a regular pace from now on*.



* Note: This statement becomes invalid upon my death**.

** Note: This may also imply a loss of internet connection, electricity or fingers.

Monday, March 07, 2005

You Are In a Non-Descript Room

A good friend of mine - and by good friend I mean demented sociopath that won't leave me alone - recently linked me to Habeus Dorkus, an amusing online text adventure starring Harvey Birdman. Using the old Infocom text adventures as a foundation and an eclectic mixture of mind-altering substances as inspiration, the game challenges you to explore a world entirely described by text. It's an amusing diversion and as far as I'm concerned, any game that enables you to capture miniature prostitutes (hint: use the shrink gun) is completely worthy of mention. Now, playing a game that assaults the player with reams of text may sound archaic and unpleasant to some, but there was a time when that passed as legitimate entertainment. All you needed was a good story and a healthy dose of...



Of course, there is an inherent danger involved with text adventures. The ones that had slightly lower aspirations often recreated the feeling of being trapped in a foreign country without a means of translation. Communicating even the most basic concept became an impossibility, resulting in a flurry of waving arms and strained vocal chords - a situation that applies both to the metaphor and poor text adventures. Indeed, the latter construction can destroy a man's soul if left unchecked.

You are in a non-descript room.
>> look room
You are in a non-descript room.
>> examine room
There is a table.
>> look table
The table resembles a small table, with several table-like qualities.
>> examine table
There is a button.
>> look button
The button practically begs to be pressed.
>> press button
Invalid command
>> push button
Invalid command
>> use button
Invalid command
>> stomp button
Invalid command
>> lovingly caress button
Invalid command
>> savagely slam button
Invalid command
>> punch button
Invalid command
>> vehemently abuse button
Invalid command
>> obliterate button with mighty fists of rage
You successfully activate the...no wait, Invalid command.
>> examine button
There is no button.
>> yes there is
No, there isn't.
>> it was just there a moment ago
You are delusional.
>> fine look under table
You see a swirling vortex of interdimensional translucence looking upon a world torn between untouched beauty and industrial terror.
>> enter vortex
Invalid command
>> jump through vortex
Invalid command
>> crawl towards vortex
Invalid command
>> is there a vortex
No.
>> examine room
There is a computer, connected to a monitor and keyboard. It is switched on.
>> examine computer
You read the following text on the screen. "You are in a non-descript room."
>> type look room

And that would be the point where you type "commit suicide" in the command prompt of life.