Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lady Evangela Update

Earlier this month, I wrote a post about my new EDH deck based around Lady Evangela. At the time, I didn't really know Lady Evangela's backstory or personality, and the deck was in its initial planning stages. I have officially made a rough draft of the deck. Before I show you the list or talk about the deck itself, I think its important to know her backstory. Warning: This is basically fan fiction.

Lady Evangela was born into nobility in the small Kingdom of Westphal, in the southern regions of Dominaria. As a little girl, Evangela became obsessed with rainbows, and the sight of one would fill her with joy. Her mother saw the peace that rainbows would bring to her, so she taught her how to create her own rainbows using a prism. At that point, Lady Evangela decided that she would dedicate her life to study of rainbows, prisms, and light.

Once she came of age, she was taken under of the study of Lady Gabriella, the Westphal Royal Seer. Under her tutelage, Evangela learned how prisms and crystals could be used to see into the future. She studied under Gabriella for many years but eventually reached a plateau in her abilities. Striving to advance her magic, Evangela sought out the study of a famous witch in the area. The witch taught her terrible magic, and Lady Evangela felt more powerful than she had ever felt before. Not only was she able to see events in the near future, she was able to see distant lands. Unfortunately, she was greeted with dire news once she returned to the castle. Lady Gabriella had died and she was to inherit her position as Royal Seer.

Stricken with grief, Lady Evangela accepted the prestigious position. She acquired a bird familiar and named it after her mentor in her honor. Things went smoothly with her new position at first, but she found herself increasingly overstepping her boundaries. She was no longer trying to see the future to protect her kingdom, she was using her scrying abilities to spy on neighboring kingdoms. Eventually, a rival sorcerer discovered what she was doing and informed the king. Angry that Evangela could have potentially created a diplomatic nightmare for the kingdom, he relieved her of her position. It was then that Evangela realized that the black magic had she learned was corrupting her very soul.

Ashamed of herself, Evangela fled and joined a small church at the edge of the kingdom. She vowed that she would repent for her sins and decided never to use her black magic again. During her time at the church, Lady Evangela learned the sacred arts of healing, and developed a bond with angelic beings. One day, the church was attacked by a group of barbarians from the north. In an attempt to save her friends and colleagues, Evangela tried to summon an angel to stave off the barbarians. However, in her desperation, she accidentally used her black magic in the summoning, creating a powerful Angel of Death. The angel successfully fought off the attackers, but her fellow clerics were horrified of her power. Despite saving everyone's lives, Evangela was excommunicated from the church.

Lost in the world, Evangela roamed aimlessly for a bit, and eventually came to the continent of Sarpadia. As she explored the Kingdom of Icatia (before its fall), she ran into a wandering mage who was searching for a land called the Rainbow Vale. The possibility of a land full of rainbows raised Evangela's spirits once more. She then decided that she will try and find the Rainbow Vale. With that she set off with her Wandering Mage companion and Rainbow Crow on a quest filled with adventure...

Modern day Rainbow Vale

Anyways, that ended up being longer than I expected. Now here is the decklist for your enjoyment. I've played the deck a couple of times now and have come to the following conclusion: It Sucks. It was designed to be this political control deck, which can protect itself really well and lies low while everyone kills each other. The problem is that it has no late game. It doesn't do anything broken or degenerate, and has no recursion or anything like that. I might up the coming into play/blink subtheme it has going, since that is one of my favorite mechanics anyways and it gives the deck a good late game card advantage engine.

By the way, I am only using three off themed cards out of my allowed five in the deck. Those cards are: Identity Crisis, Death Grasp, and Godhead of Awe. I want to eventually put in a Debtors' Knell and Divinity of Pride, since both of those cards are amazing and would up the power level of the deck to respectable levels. The Godhead of Awe sucks and she needs to go immediately. Its interesting that most of my leeway cards are black, although thats probably because Lady Evangela basically has no business being black other than the fact that she was printed before the color pie was cemented.

Overall, the deck is actually quite fun to play, it just needs a little bit of a power boost. If any of you have any suggestions, let me know.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lite News Week

I was too busy this weekend drinking 3 dollar Argentinian wine and playing party games to really be online looking for articles for everyone. As a result today will have less links than usual. So ... sorry about that.

 3DS games will apparently be expensive to develop.

Netflix is now officially offering a Streaming Only Plan.

Elder Scrolls V will be a direct sequel to Oblivion. Maybe once I actually get my new computer I'll finally be able to play through Oblivion and appreciate this.

Wikileaks has released a huge bunch of US embassy documents.

Countries remove sexual orientation from a list of groups it would be discriminatory to execute. Yay!

I'm sure everyone knows about this already: North Korea has opened fire on South Korea. News talks about it for a day ... before it gets overshadowed by Brisol Palin losing Dancing with the Stars.

Also in the everyone already knows this already category: Fox News donates 40 million in airtime to potential GOP candidates.

U.S is ready to being human stem cell research.

Large Hadron Collider has revealed that the early universe was a liquid.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Today is that blessed and hallowed day where the entire planet unites to celebrate the invasion of Earth by the enlightened beings from planet LV-426. Families across the nation will gather around their old wood-burning stoves, feast on fresh pterodactly meat, drink Monster energy drinks, and watch that time-honored holiday classic, Thankskilling.

The Internet Movie Database describes it as feel-good romantic comedy wherein, "A homicidal turkey axes off college kids during Thanksgiving break." So grab a loved one, pass the LV-426-patented Intergalactic viewing goggles, and enjoy the full-length trailer for the universally beloved, Thankskilling.

In summation, happy Thankskilling from mine, yours, and this gay Pilgrim and Indian couple.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! Anyone in the area is welcome to stop by here later on tonight. Just give me a call.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Video Game Characters and Gender

I was making my usual video game news rounds this morning, when I found an interesting article over at Kotaku regarding Mass Effect 2. The article can be found here, and it detailed play statistics about character building. Apparently in Mass Effect 2, 82% played as a male main character and 18% as a female main character and 83% of people chose to make their main character look like themselves. This reminded me of a conversation I had with Aimee in Pittsburgh about this same thing, but in regards to her Dragon Age character. While making characters for RPGs, she always plays as a female the first time around and she always tries to make her character look like her (although she usually fails). I guess this is pretty typical and goes with the statistics detailed in the Mass Effect 2 report. But the whole thing got me thinking about what pattens I use when making characters in video games and how my gender and sexuality play into how I choose characters.

First, I started thinking about my own character history. Was there a pattern to how I create characters in RPGs like Dragon Age or Oblivion? Yes it turns out there is: I always create a guy ... and the guy is always hot. It doesn't matter if he looks like me or not, but he has to attractive and kinda gay looking. Sort of like this:

Both of these Dragon Age characters are extremely gay.

I think when creating a character, most people will just pick their own gender. I think playing your own gender in games like these, really help immerse you into these worlds. It makes you feel as if you are actually running around slaying dragons and whatnot. At least for the first playthrough. I know that I'll usually mess around with characters on subsequent playthroughs because those playthroughs tend to be less serious for me.

But what about characters you don't make, but you choose? At least for me, when there are pre-built characters to choose from, I choose the female like 90% of the time. Lets take a look at fighting games for example: Here are characters who've I've mained in fighting games: Chun Li (3rd Strike), Cammy (SF2, SF4, CVS2), Jigglypuff (Smash Melee), Roll (Tatsunoko vs. Capcom), Athena (CVS2), Dizzy (Guilty Gear), and Marth (Smash Brawl). Wow ... the only guy on that list is Marth, and he is usually mistaken for female...

Easily my main in any Street Fighter she is available in.
Okay, outside of fighting games, who else do I play as? I play as Birdo, Daisy, or Peach in any Mario Kart or Mario sports game. I also find that my team is usually female in JRPGs. My first team in Final Fantasy VIII was Rinoa and Selphie. My first team in Final Fantasy X was Lulu and Rikku. My first team in Chrono Trigger was Ayla and Lucca. You get the picture by now. I can't help but feel that I attach myself to female video game characters the same way most gay guys attach themselves to divas like Lady Gaga and Britney Spears.

Maybe I play as Daisy all the time because she is so hot.

Well what about pen and paper RPGs? In our last DnD campaign, not a single player played as the opposite gender. Interestingly enough, the only gay player in the group (besides me) was playing a gay character. In regards to my DnD history, I tend to alternate between male and female, however my most iconic character and the character in which I have played the most, was female (yayay Anri!). In fact, most of the us back in the Gord era had at least one iconic pen and paper RPG character which we played a lot. All of them were male ... except mine and Jason's. Coincidence?

I honestly feel like my sexuality has dictated somewhat the characters I play in games. This is just me though, I don't want to make generalizations for games of either orientation as a whole. I am curious as to what characters you guys play. Have you noticed any patterns in the characters you choose in games?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Kirby's Epic Yarn Review

Supreme Court Justices Alito and Sotomayor are back along with Princess Peach to bring you another game review! This time, the three of them sat down and played through the amazingly cute Kirby's Epic Yarn.

Kirby's Epic Yarn
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Genre: Platformer
Developer: Good-Feel
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: 10/17/2010
Metacritic Score: 89

Princess Peach: I just wanted to point out before we begin, that our viewpoints on this game are based around co-op multi-player only. We felt like that was the intended way to play the game.

Justice Sotomayor: Yeah the three of us took turns playing it together. It just took us awhile since Alito and I were swamped with recent cases.

Justice Alito: Yeah like that violent video game case ... that prosecutor was a nutjob. After playing a game like Kirby, it is really hard to justify regulating video games based on violence.

Justices Alito and Sotomayor play some Kirby during court recess.

Princess Peach: Well I just wanted to say that ... THIS GAME IS SO CUTE <3!!! I was squealing so much when I first started playing it that the whole castle thought I was getting kidnapped by Bowser!

Justice Alito: Well I just wanted to say that ... this game is easily one of the gayest games I've ever played.

Justice Sotomayor: WHAT?!

Justice Alito: Okay first off, this game is about knitting. Secondly, Kirby and Prince Fluff get to share a house together. Thirdly, the only motivation for actually trying to do well in this game, is that you can get objects to decorate your house with. Seriously, your only motivation is interior decorating! How is that not gay?

At least you get cool things to decorate with.

Justice Sotomayor: I am going to ignore your blatant stereotyping and generalizations for a second and ask you this: How do you know Kirby is even male, or any of the characters for that matter? I don't think sex or sexual orientation even exist in this world.

Justice Alito: Um ... two of the characters are named: PRINCE Fluff and KING Dedede. They are using gendered titles so clearly gender does in fact exist in this world. In addition, I think past installments in the series heavily imply that both Kirby and Meta-Knight are male. Hence, Kirby and Prince Fluff are gay for each other.

Princess Peach: Awwwww! They would be so cute together!

Justice Sotomayor: You know, now that I think about it, there isn't a single female character in the whole game. Assuming there is gender in this world like you say, why aren't there any female characters?

Justice Alito: I already told you: Its because this game is super gay! But seriously, if you actually played the game fully, you'll realize that there are some female characters. They move in next to Kirby and offer mini-game challenges. Don't you remember Beadtrix?

Princess Peach: I think we're getting a little bit side...

Justice Sotomayor: Whatever ... regardless there are no female MAIN characters. And now that I think about it, this game is a little bit racist too. That sleazy landlord in Patch Land is clearly Italian! I think Nintendo needs to be a little more race and gender sensitive.

The Landlord is clearly Italian.

Princess Peach: Okay can we please get back on track here! What did you two like about the game? Please only mention actual game play.

Justice Alito: Well I'm going to be a bit honest here: I'm not very good at most video games. This game is pretty easy and you can take it at a very leisurely pace. As I mentioned before, your only real motivation is interior decorating, so unless you are actually trying to find the furniture in each level, the game is a breeze.

Justice Sotomayor: I liked that as well. It was a refreshing change of pace from even most platformers. If you went for all of the secrets in the game, then the game can actually be quite challenging. Some of the regular levels towards the end are hard too, but you can't die in this game, so I never really felt any pressure.

Justice Alito: Some of the mini-game challenges in this game are almost impossible. I just stopped doing them after a while.

Princess Peach: I really appreciated how innovative some of the levels were, especially the ones in which Kirby transformers into objects! For instance, I thought all of the UFO levels were very well done and super cute to boot!

Justice Alito: Urgghh. That just reminded me of that fucking train ...

Princess Peach: Please watch your language, there are ladies present!

Justice Sotomayor: No hes right for once, that train was a bitch.

Princess Peach: My heavens!

Worst power up ever.

Justice Alito: It was impossible to control and it took me forever to even figure out how to get it off the ground and onto the tracks. It was incredibly awkward and I'm glad it was only present on a couple of levels.

Justice Sotomayor: I didn't really like the power ups in which one person had all of the control ... like the Dune Buggy for instance. The other player always felt left out. I imagine those levels were different in single player, but I would like to think there was a better way they could've handled them in multi-player.

Justice Alito: I thought you socialist types liked working together for a common cause?

Justice Sotomayor: Excus...

Princess Peach: Okay! Lets just give everyone our final score!

Justice Sotomayor: FINE! I give this game a 90/100.

Justice Alito: I also give this game a 90 ... but only because my children would kill me if I gave it anything less.

Princess Peach: I think the game is a 90 out of 100 too! Isn't it nice to all be in agreement with each other! :)

Justice Sotomayor: NO!

Kirby's Epic Yarn Gets a 90 out of 100!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Links To Pass the Time

This is for Scott mostly: First/Last look at Mercs 3.
Mercs 2 was a nightmare, so I can't imagine what Mercs 3 would have been like.

Some cool Goldeneye cheats have been revealed.

New study fails to link video games to negative behavior.

Blizzard has been posting job ads for Diablo 3 console developers.

Interesting blog post about someone reminiscing over FF6.

This picture has nothing to do with anything.

The 9th circuit has scheduled the hearings for the Prop 8 case for the first week of December.

Supreme Court continues to consider corporations as people.

Hilarious robocall in Maryland during the mid-term elections is now drawing some criticism.

Archaeological find is threatened by China's desire to build a huge copper mine in Afghanistan.

Scientist are proposing one way trips to Mars to save money on research costs. I would do that in a second.

Scientists at CERN have finally captured anti-matter.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The PTQ Grind

In the Magic: the Gathering world, a pro player is a player who regularly plays on the Pro Tour, which are invitation only tournaments held 3-4 times a year around the world. Being a pro player has a ton of perks: the Pro Tour tournaments have a decent cash payout, you get to travel the world, and if you do well in enough tournaments, the company will start giving you money for just showing up to events. But first to even get invited to your first Pro Tour, you need to get 1st place in a Pro Tour Qualifier (this is simplifying things a bit as there are other ways to also qualify but this is the easiest). A majority of competitive magic players are simply PTQ Grinders, trying to play in as many PTQs as possible with the hopes of living the dream. I am (sorta) a PTQ Grinder.

Last weekend, I drove all the way to Costa Mesa to play in a PTQ. Winning this tournament meant that I would get invited to Pro Tour Paris, along with a paid plane ticket and hotel room. The format was Sealed Deck, which means that I had to build a deck on the spot using 90 random Scars of Mirrodin cards. This is the deck I ended up with and I was super excited about. I actually texted Zach immediately after building it telling me how amazing I thought my deck was. I figured that I had a good shot at doing well in this tournament, but I wouldn't be sad if I lost because at least I got a Masticore and Sword, which together are worth enough to make up my entry fee. 

Alas, I ended up doing terribly at the tournament: 1-3 drop. I probably should've dropped after my second loss, but it was going to take Luke a long time to pick me up so I had to keep myself occupied. 

My deck just losses to this guy.

Round 1: I got mana flooded hard game one, so I took out one of my lands in between games only to get mana screwed game two. LOSS

Round 2: Tel-Jilad Fallen and Wall of Tanglecord absolutely destroyed my deck both games. LOSS

Round 3: My deck actually worked the way it was supposed to! I got a good draw and destroyed their poison deck before they even did anything. WIN

Round 4: I got mana flooded again and got killed by a Carnifex Demon. Game two was almost an exact repeat of game one. LOSS

So what was the problem with my deck? First off, I should only have been running 16 lands. I got scared that first round, when I sided a land out and got mana screwed, but I realize in retrospect that was pure bad luck. My deck had a really low curve and a Palladium Myr, so I could've gotten away with 16 lands easy and not be mana screwed. In addition I should have splashed red into my deck. I think I got a little carried away once I realized I could play mono-white. At the very least I could've added in Galvanic Blast and Turn to Slag. Now that I think about it I was stupid not to run both of those. It also would have given me two more outs to that asshole with protection from artifacts. Oh well...

For the record, I don't think I'll ever win a PTQ. The chances of winning one is very low, and there are tons of players out there who are just better than me in a lot of ways. Most PTQ Grinders go to every single PTQ they could possibly go to. I once had friends in college who drove to Portland from Santa Cruz just for a PTQ. Quite frankly, I don't have that much dedication. I go to the ones around me because they are fun and I usually have a good shot at taking home some prizes. Plus who knows ... I may get lucky one day! While I don't really have aspirations to 'live the dream' anymore, its a good bet you'll see me at the next Los Angeles PTQ on Dec 18th. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Spike Video Game Award Nominations!

Normally I don't pay any attention to Spike TV's video game awards. In the past people have mentioned it in passing to me, but I just never cared. Today, Spike TV released their list of nominations and it has been making the rounds on video game blogs. I was bored today so I decided to actually take a look at their list of nominations ... and my mind was blown. I knew their list was going to be bad, but there were so many things wrong with the list that I had to postpone what I was originally going to write about today to do some ranting about it.

Here is the list of nominees. I am linking to Kotaku's list since the Spike TV website is a bit of an eyesore and harder to navigate through the list.

Well lets start with the Game of the Year Nominees:

Call of Duty: Black Ops
Red Dead Redemption
God of War 3
Mass Effect 2
Halo: Reach

There are two games that I think are left off this list: Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Starcraft 2. I am not advocating Galaxy 2 as some kind of Nintendo fan boy. The game is just really amazing, and probably one of the best platformers I've ever played in my life. More importantly though, Spike TV clearly didn't pay attention to Metacritic. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is currently the highest rated game of the year on metacritic, meaning it has received more universal acclaim than any other game on that list. It was probably too gay for Spike TV. I haven't played Star Craft 2 yet, but I know the impact the game has had. It is a world wide cultural phenomenon and will be one of the most played games in the competitive video game scene. It has a higher metacritic score than Halo, Call of Duty, and God of War. I assume it was too nerdy ... or too Korean.

I think the biggest problem I have with the Game of the Year list is how bro-y it is. Almost every single game in that list revolves around shooting people dead. God of War's Kratos doesn't use guns, but he gets to have an in game threesome with two hot chicks so it doesn't matter. I understand that they have to cater to their audience (it is the network for Men after all), but this is ridiculous. In all seriousness though, the US Army is a huge corporate sponsor of these awards and it shows. BTW, Call of Duty: Black Ops doesn't even break into the 90s on Metacritic. 


Now, go here is their Best Soundtrack nomination:

Notice anything weird about these nominees? NONE OF THESE GAMES HAVE AN ACTUAL SOUNDTRACK! This would make sense if the category was like: 'Best Licensed Music in Game' or something. Regardless, I would think that this just overlaps with Best Music Game, and wouldn't the song list have a big impact on how good/bad one of those games was in the first place? I guess the real soundtrack nominees are over in 'Best Original Score.' This is just a weird classification to me and I wish they would just replace it with a category that actually matters, such as Best Fighting Game. Speaking of which, Super Street Fighter IV wasn't nominated for anything, partially because it doesn't really fit into most of the categories there are awards for. 

Know what else wasn't mentioned at all in these awards? Minecraft. This is probably one of the most innovative games I have ever seen and has become a bit of an internet phenomenon. It should have at least been nominated for Best Indy Game. 

I will concede that not everything on this list is ridiculous. For example, I am glad that Kirby's Epic Yarn got nominated for Best Graphics. I vastly prefer original and interesting graphics like the ones in Kirby over anything that tries too hard to be realistic. I was actually pleasantly surprised that Spike TV even nominated it in the graphics section. I don't really have much of a problem with the rest of the categories really, although I have heard that some of the Best Performance nominees are bogus, but I can't attest to those.

Out of the games listed for Game of the Year, my bet is on either Mass Effect 2 or Red Dead Redemption. I guess I'll be keeping up with the VGAs for the first time ever this year, even if mostly for da lulz. The Spike TV Video Game Awards 2010 air on December 11th. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday News Timez

Before I start doling out links today, I just wanted to apologize for how content lite last week was. I was preparing for a tournament and spent most of the afternoons playing magic with Zach. Also, I was lazy.

Create is a Boom Bloxesque EA game which might be worth looking into.

A new amazing Donkey Kong Country Returns trailer has been released. The game comes out November 21st, just in time for Thanksgiving weekend.

Some classic Capcom arcade titles are coming to the Wii's Virtual console.

IGN has released a Top 25 Wii Games of All Time list. Unfortunately its a slideshow.

The upcoming Mario Sports Mix will also feature Final Fantasy Characters. Now you can play beach volleyall as a moogle! Lulz.

Very interesting article on the way Fallout: New Vegas handled homosexual characters in game.

With the potentially new DnD campaign starting up (the Eldrazi campaign exploded as soon as Mitch left), I thought it would be appropriate to link to this simple interview process to help flesh out your character.

Someone created a bot that goes around owning anti-science people on Twitter.

Details on Pentagon's DADT study shows minimal risk to military from lifting the ban.

Interesting and controversial study was done by an anthropology professor at Berkeley regarding why black kids are failing in schools.

The Large Hadron Collider is doing awesome stuff again.

Debunking the myth that Coke Zero is bad for you.

Stone Age etchings found in the Amazon river basic hint at an ancient civilization in the region.

New Girl Talk Album is out today! As with the rest of his stuff, you can download the album for free. EDIT: Here is an alternate download site as the main site is super sluggish at the moment.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Goldeneye Initial Impressions

The Goldeneye remake was one of the most anticipated Wii games of 2010, and there was a lot of hype leading up to its release last week. I haven't had a chance to pick it up yet, but luckily for me Johnny got it day 1. Last weekend, we had the opportunity to play some drunken split-screen multi-player at Cooper and Johnny's, and I'm glad to say that the game is pretty fun. I haven't played it enough to really confirm if it had lived up to the hype, but I was pleased with it overall.

Before I begin, I have to confess that I only played the original N64 Goldeneye a couple of times, so I don't fully get all of the nostalgia effect while playing the remake, and as such I won't have any nostalgia clouding my judgment as it usually does.

If this guy weren't directly in front of the screen, I would not be able to see him.
1) This might just have been the TV we were playing on, but the game is really dark and on some levels its impossible to see anything that's not directly in front of you. In addition, there is no in game brightness settings to help remedy this. Text size is super small and the radar is small and hard to read. If I weren't sitting directly in front of the TV it would have been very difficult for me to play this game.

2) The game is slow paced, which is something that I personally really enjoy. The worst part about a game like Halo for me, is spawning and then getting shot at immediately. Some people enjoy the fast paced action like that, but I like to take my time. This also might be because we weren't playing online so there was only 4 people on a large map, but whatever I still found this aspect enjoyable and it allowed me plenty of time to get used to the controls and the flow of the game in general.

3) I played with the Gamecube controller, and it wasn't bad. The button to melee was difficult to figure out and awkward to execute and the pointer sensitivity could have been a little bit higher, but these are easy things to fix with custom controls. Johnny seemed to be having some problems using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, so as with most Wii games, I recommend against that control scheme. The game comes bundled with a golden Classic Controller (which is awesome), so I would imagine the Classic Controller would have the best control scheme. I didn't get a chance to play with it though.

Split Screen is where its at
4) The special options you can put on multi-player games are what made this game such a blast to play. There is an option called 'Singularity' in which any player explodes if they come in physical contact with another player. Being able to dash into someone to kill both of you is pretty hilarious, and this was easily Luke's favorite thing to do (suffice to say, he didn't win many games). Melee only was also amazing, especially on smaller levels. Some of the modes hadn't been unlocked yet, so I can only imagine that they get crazier and crazier.

5) The Golden Gun mode is pretty unspectacular. This has everything to do with how terrible the Golden Gun is. While it still kills in one hit like the original, it fires so slowly that unless you sneak up on someone, it is impossible to kill anyone with it before they kill you. After a while, the mode devolves into going around hunting anyone who is stupid enough to actually pick up the dropped Golden Gun. Disappointing.

Overall, despite its flaws I had a really good time playing split-screen multi-player. I really want to try out the online multi-player component as I think that could have some potential. Will I pick up this game? Probably, I want to make sure the online component is good first. At the moment this game is firmly in my 'I'll pick this up but not until it drops in price' list.

It has an 81 Metacritic score.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Most Influencial Games

Both Luke and Zach's recent articles about their foray into the video game world caused me to reflect a little bit on my own history with video games. Most of the people who meet me recently assume that I have always been a Nintendo fanboy, but my love of Nintendo and the Wii didn't start until after I started working at EA. I don't want to give you a narrative of my video gaming history, as that would span several posts and Luke is already did his in that style. Instead, I'm just going to talk a little bit about several games which have had a profound impact on my life. These are games which have influenced me the most, not necessarily my favorite games of all time (granted there is some overlap).

Bubble Bobble (NES): When you think of Alex Ruiz, I can guarantee you that dinosaurs would be one of the first things to come to mind. This game is what caused my love for dinosaurs. I mean look at it! It is super cute and breathes bubbles! Anyways, some of my earliest memories of video gaming come from playing this game, and it remained a favorite of mine for a very long time.  It was cute, challenging, and boasts one of the best video game soundtracks of all time (and when I say soundtrack I mean song, since there was only one song played the entire time. Still it was amazing).

Shining Force (GEN): When I was little, a Magic the Gathering craze hit my neighborhood, and basically every kid on the block was flinging spells at one another. It left pretty fast though, and within like a year everyone had basically stopped playing except for my brother and I, who were arguably the biggest nerds on the block anyways. I'm not sure that I would've kept playing Magic had it not been for Shining Force. Shining Force turned me on the entire genre of strategy, and strategy games basically rule my life now. Its also telling that during the times I am taking a break from Magic, I am playing through a game like Shining Force or Fire Emblem. At this point in my life, I need to be engaging is some form of in depth strategy at all times.

Final Fantasy VI (SNES): I've already written several blog posts on this game already, so everyone here should know by now how obsessed I am with it. This game basically turned me onto the entire RPG genre. Sure, I had played couple before this like Dragon Quest 1 and Shining Force, but this game is the main reason I love RPGs. After playing through it, I immediately played through Chrono Trigger, Super Mario RPG, all of the Phantasy Stars, Zelda, Secret of Mana, etc. To this day I still love the genre, although since JRPGs have been in decline they are now more of like a guilty pleasure for me. I realize that games like Arc Rise Fantasia and Tales of Symphonia are bad, but I don't care. I love them and I'm not sorry.

Heroes of Might and Magic 3 (PC): I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't have gotten into college if it weren't for this game. Gord and I used to play it a lot in high school while studying and doing our homework since individual turns take so long one of us could actually get a fair amount of work done during the other player's turn. It fulfilled our need to hang out and play video games after school while still being productive. It was also the first PC game I ever got into, and paved the way for PC being my console of choice for most of high school and college.

Diablo 2 (PC): I almost didn't get into college because of this game. This game was one of the games which bound the Gord Clan together and united us under one goal: Kill tons of monsters and loot everything you can find. Before this game, my only multi-player experience had been either LAN or split screen. Diablo 2 gave me my first real taste of online multi-player. I wasted a lot of my life playing this game and I'm not sorry. Diablo 2 was one of the games which defined my entire high school experience.

Super Smash Bros. Melee (GCN): This game influenced me a number of ways. First off, I managed to establish a decent friends circle at EA through playing this game every day during lunch. Before Smash I basically didn't talk to anyone at EA because I didn't care about sports and I didn't play WoW. Jaime and Law started the Smash craze at work, and once I started playing with them I started actually making friends there. You could argue that Melee and Brawl are what created Canfield Manor, or at least what made it explode in population. Much like Diablo 2, Smash was a game that defined an entire era in my life. Lastly, trying to get good at Smash inspired me to try other fighting games. It wasn't until we started playing Smash that I had Zach attempt to teach me Third Strike and CVS 2. It basically opened up an entire genre for me, and taught me that other games besides Magic could fulfill my competitive urges.

Honorable Mentions:  Mario Kart Wii (Wii), Aerobiz Super Sonic (SNES), Super Mario World (SNES), Mega Man 3 (NES), Fatal Labyrinth (GEN), Counterstrike (PC)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Some Links To Make Your Monday Go Faster

Lets start off a little bit retro: Here is a review of Planescape Torment.

This is probably one of the best pre-order bonuses I have ever seen.

Video Game network G4 is being dropped. They only had like 3 original shows anyways and even those were painful to watch.

Kinect is out! Here is a bunch of information on it for those who care.

Steven Spielberg originally planned to do two games with EA: LMNO and PQRS. PQRS ended up being called Boom Blox, and LMNO is never saw the light of day. Fortunately, EA released some footage recently as to what LMNO could have been.

7 Things Progressives need to keep in mind about last week's so called GOP wave.

Obviously, more old people vote Republican and they tend to vote more often than young people (Aimee you are the reason Joe Sestak lost).

Luke and I are planning a trip to Uganda soon. Anyone else down?

9th Circuit grants stay of DADT ruling. With a Republican controlled House now, we'll be seeing DADT stick around for a bit longer.

Adbusters gets banned from a Canadian Pharmacy chain for displaying back to back photos of Gaza and Warsaw ghettos. Lulz.

Obama holds the White House's first science fair

Studies like this come out every few years and always say the exact same thing. The media picks up on it, hypes it a little bit, and then nothing is done about it.

On a related note: Smart people apparently do more psychoactive drugs.

10 Strange (and awesome) things about the universe.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Spinning Around (With Hurricane Kicks)

Only on a "Gaymer" blog can I truly not be ashamed of my love for Kylie.

While Kylie is the be-all and end-all of my life (after Mele, of course!), video games predate her in my autobiography. I'd like to take a cue from Luke and give a little background for my strange relationship with electronic gaming, because, after all, it's played a rather large role in my life considering I wasn't allowed to play any as a child. (Spending a couple years as a video game tester is just a tad ironic.)

Growing up, I did play video games on occasion, and I have good memories of playing Millipede on my next-door neighbor's cabinet, or watching David play Mario 64. As a culture, however, gaming didn't enter the picture until Josh moved in across the street during middle school. Josh, who owned video games galore, was such a VG-geek that his skill level in any game on any console was astronomically better than mine. We played often, I lost every time, and I never improved. It was an interesting dynamic for me, who, at that age, had consistently qualified at the upper echelons in academics and athletics.

I don't want to suggest that I'm the most humble person in the world in my adulthood, but I believe that playing against Josh in numerous video games taught me some humility. I believe it introduced me to the culture of losing, how to deal with it, and how to become comfortable with people talking smack. I feel like this is a positive impact on my life.

You'd think I'd play Cammy.

While I was getting my name in newspapers for my achievements on the baseball diamond, the most monumental of accomplishments, in my mind, was that one-of-a-hundredth time that I'd defeat Josh in a game of Street Fighter Alpha 2 or King of Fighters 98. Looking back on it, maybe Dan wasn't my best choice in character, and I know that in my button-mashing days, those small victories were simple probability, not a learning process. Sooner or later, I'd mash Roundhouse at all the right times. Hell, in those days, I was unable to make Ryu do a hadouken. Down-Forward Punch was outside of my talent level.

(I think Kylie would have made a good King in a KOF movie.)

When the Sega worked, we played Street Fighter 2 instead. The problem with (and the greatest part about) SF2 was that shitty turbo Sega controller with the awful D-Pad. Eventually, if the Sega lasted long enough, we'd give up on trying to play with that shitty controller, turn the Turbo on, press START, and multiply the experience by a factor of funfinity. In essence, a turbo-pressed START button is slow motion with an irritation sound effect, and there is nothing harder on the nerves or more laugh-out-loud funny than slow motion Street Fighter.

That, plus Pilot Wings, Aerobiz Supersonic and Warcraft/Diablo II, pretty much sums up video games in the first 18 years of my life.

Kylie would not make a good Makoto.

In college I started playing Street Fighter 3: Third Strike. The reasons for this hover somewhere between "That's what my friends did", "I miss playing competitive sports" and "I'm a huge geek already anyways". Endless drunken conversations over Skype with Josh have covered the topic of Why Sports Are Good For You And Why The Same Goes For Street Fighter, and in the end I can sum that conversation up with saying, "Uh, kinda," but I think it's fair to say Street Fighter, in some small way, did replace baseball in my life, at least in regards to casual competition.

I was still awful at Street Fighter 3S, but this time I improved, and even though I never became competitive with the BEARcade's regulars, mostly because my execution of special moves continued to resemble button-mashing, I really wasn't that bad. I even went so far as practicing my finger-eye coordination, something I had found so ridiculous when I first watched my roommate train himself to do combos against a motionless AI dummy.

It's telling that, when I graduated, I started playing baseball again, because nobody in LA at the time played video games. It's telling that, once Ian and Alex moved in and Smash Bros became a regular activity, I no longer felt like I needed to play baseball anymore. It's telling that, when I moved to San Diego and pretty much stopped playing video games whatsoever, I joined an indoor soccer league, and it's telling that, in San Francisco, now that I no longer feel physically up to playing sports, I've begun to play Street Fighter 4.

Kylie as Rose? Hmm...

After a couple years of video game testing, and of getting my ass kicked by Alex in Smash, I think I'm actually capable of becoming better at Street Fighter 4 than I ever was in Third Strike, assuming I put in the time. We'll see. If I do, I hope to write a review of the game here in the near future.