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Ssshould I purrrrrchase Tigerrrr Woodssss Aught-Nine
Aug 29th, 2008 by Thysss Thyrrthynn

It iss difficult to know wherrre to beginn. Tigerrr hath sssssuch mixed reviews lassssst yearrr. And yet, the finalized product wassss clearly unplayable. Sssss. I would enjoy, hurm, a golfing experrrrience that did not fracturrrr time so readily, and was not otherrrrrwise crippled and unfun.

Clearly, there isss room in the marrrketplace for another golf game, one that is more competently produuuced. And yet, with Tigerrrr ssssuch a draw (and an exclussssive one at thhhh-at!) the competition would ssssurely be trounced, like so much foooolish Elowann space craft. Fortunately, I had my own minions, lassst year, purrrrchase the warre and play it before I wasssted my own valuable time and ccccccycles upon that…. annoyance. It wasss clearly a cruel and horrrrible gesssture laid upon those of usssss that enjoy… the gentleman’s game of golf.

In fact, one of the thingssss I enjoyed most were the Arrrrrthian announcersss. Both gone! Thhth! Although, perhaps the new onessss won’t react as if I had picked up the ball and thhhhhrrown it into a neighboring highway if I misssss a putt by just inches. That would be greatly… appreciated.

But I feel I am within the cold, desperate grip of the game reviewers now. Now, with thissss EA product, ssspecccifically. Many of my other, ah, “correspondents” here on thissss group blog have experienced it before: the hockey series routinely got worse in the Aughts, and ditto for Arrrrrthian football. And now, my golf. Why do you annoy usssssss?

It beggarrrrs thy imagination.

Everrry… near every review begins the same way!! ‘Electronic Arts has really attacked the issues that so plagued last year’s version. This year promises to be the best version yet!’ SssSSSssSSssth! But yet, they DID NOT mention these issues last year! Corrrrporate whorrresssssSSSssSs! All of them! Thhhhhhth!

(head bobs violently)

And yet, I grrrrieve.

Forrrr my only otherrr optionsss are a bar that doesss not allow my fellow Thrynn. For at thissss bar is one ‘Golden Tee.’ ‘Golden.’ ‘Tee.’

(head bobs even more violently)

Pssssath! I loathe myself for this decision. Thissss is my world now. Bring me thisssss Tigerrrrr Woods, 09.

Arkanoid
Aug 28th, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Today’s update is just me pointing to the new Arkanoid page.

jrok’s Williams FPGA… in development!
Aug 27th, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

If you are like me, you acquire arcade games. Let’s just stop with that. You are probably not like me, going forward from here, but we’ll try to keep things interesting and geeky from here.

If you are like me, and acquire arcade games, you do so while praying to a deity that the circuit boards won’t die. In my own case, I have ensured that this IS the case because I only recently learned how to check voltages. (+5 getting to the game’s printed circuit board fixed my issues with Mr. Do!, Arkanoid and Zoo Keeper – that’s a 30% fix in my arcade right there.)

The circuit boards are the real treasure in an arcade game, because almost everything else can be — or is! — getting reproductions. Scratch up the side art on a game? Stencils or giant “stickers” exist. Mess up the monitor? You can put a brand-new one in, most likely. But yeah, if the circuit board develops problems the average collector is at the mercy of others.

So that’s why FPGA boards like what jrok is developing are so cool – he’s putting Defender, Stargate, Joust, Robotron, Bubbles, Splat, Sinistar and Blaster onto a single board. It uses real hardware, so nothing is emulated (more on that in a sec). This is going to give people the chance to avoid circuit board issues and still have a great multi-game kit. It’s also going to have a JAMMA interface, which will be really convienent for, er, people like me who have a JAMMA cab.

I don’t even know if Williams (the manufacturer of all those games) are particularly troublesome to live with – for all I know, they could be rock-solid. But it would definitely cost me a lot more in space and, er, cost a lot in money to get access to those games. And I am completely out of space. jrok also has the things saving high scores, so at $150 for the board, this will be perfect.

(OK, a note about emulation: it’s fine, it’s cool, and I have emulated games on my 48-in-1, which I love. But yeah, emulation through MAME can get you close, but something genuinely running the game is always going to be ideal. That being said, I’d like to get a Robotron cab, and having the controls for Robotron (two joysticks) on the same panel as Stargate (a two-way joystick and like six buttons) always looks like a mess, so I am not sure how I am going to personally work this.)

jrok is sending the board out to testers soon, and I’ll report back when I purchase one.

 

 

 

 

 

Where I Stopped Playing The Game
Aug 26th, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

ZORK: GRAND INQUISITOR: When Michael McKean said that the upcoming puzzle will test my “ability to click.”

ULTIMA 9: ASCENTION: When I left the original area and traveled down the street and saw how laggy and unplayable the game was.

KNIGHT ORC: Right before the encounter with the troll. I am “saving” this one.

X-COM II: TERROR FROM THE DEEP: After the second mission I went on. Seriously, fuck that.

TRIPLE PLAY ’97: After 14 games. I realized there were no triples or doubles.

HALF-LIFE II: When I had to move around a big train compartment with an electromagnet, yet I couldn’t.

PREY: When the aliens or whatnot attacked and put everyone in chains. I know that makes it like the 2nd level. Still kind of hurting from that one.

RESIDENT EVIL 4: When my brother decided to practically complete the game in front of me before he left Colorado. I have to wait until I forget what he did so it’s all fresh to me.

DEATHROW: It’s going to be after one game unless there is a way to bump up the cursing. I thought this was supposed to be the most foul and filthy game of all time? There was more curses per hour in Transformers: the Movie!

BLOODMASTERS: I have never, ever seen someone on-line playing this on-line only game. What’s going on here? Is this some kind of sick prank? I’m not saying that the game looks like it’s … whatever you all consider to be a great game, Super Huey II according to this thread, but as far as top-down (free) shooters go it looks like a lot of fun. The only thing I can think of is that the developers are all from the United Kingdom and everyone goes to sleep right as I decide I want to Bloodmaster it.

JINXTER: Originally quit it because I couldn’t understand a single word. 20 years later the whole SUPABOOZA LEN GOES LIKE A DRAIN bit in the fake newspaper is positively pant-crapping.

CIVILIZATION IV: When my computer reacted like it had been on a fourteen hour bender and was coming to grips with the fact that the sun was up and they had to be at work in 45 minutes every goddamn time I played it. Possibly there is now a patch for this game that fixes the rampant memory leaks.

Positive Trends in Drunkenness
Aug 25th, 2008 by Pinback

I would like to alert you all to what I feel is a very positive trend, at least as positive as something can be in the sinful, destructive realm of alcohol and alcoholic beverages.

The topic of today’s report is: VODKA.

Some (your author included) consider vodka the purest and most “noble” of the ignoble playground of the demon alcohol. Going through the simplest distillation process, introducing no flavoring or adjuncts, vodka still today represents distilled spirits at their most elegant. With all of the thousands of offerings at your local liquor store, all the flavors out there, all the wacky concoctions you could ever ask for, to me there is still nothing so sublime as a shot of chilled vodka.

Now, used to be there were two general types of vodka: Cheap-ass shit, and decent shit. Vodka by its very nature doesn’t have a ton of room for quality differential — at its best it’s nearly imperceptible. The good stuff, maybe in the $20 range, would be generally smoother and cleaner than the cheap crap.

Then (I am making up history here, but this is just how it seemed to happen) Grey Goose came along with a pretty bottle, slapped a $40 pricetag on it, and proclaimed with lots of flowery descriptions from “respected critics” that this was “ultra premium”, blowing away even the high end stuff with it’s — what, 8-times filtering through charcoal and baby’s hair.

Much like bottled water, nobody in their right mind thought it would take off. And much like bottled water, Americans with too much money and too fragile an ego just gobbled it up.

Then it was on. The race to come up with the fanciest bottle, the best marketing campaign, and the highest price tag was officially afoot. It worked, it continues to work, and everyone is making a ton of money off it. Off vodka, the least process- and resource-intensive of any liquor.

It appeared there would be no bucking the trend, and it started to look like you’d eventually end up having to choose between a plastic bottle filled with turpentine, or a fifty dollar bottle with a bird and a fancy font on it.

So I am happy to announce that it seems that in the last year or two, there is a new trend taking place within this maelstrom of absurdity. Seems Grey Goose placed so low in enough blind taste tests that some people actually started to wake up to two important facts:

1. The “ultra premium” brands are no better, and often worse, than “lower” brands costing a fraction of the cost.

2. There is no reason good vodka cannot be cheap.

So now we are seeing the very welcome backlash of low-priced, high quality vodka, and all you’re giving up is the fancy bottle and whatever sick sense of “style points” you thought you were getting by ordering overpriced garbage.

My current two favorites in the under-$20 set are Tito’s, made in Texas from corn, costing about $17 for a 750ml bottle, and my current King of the Hill, Sobieski, made in Poland from rye, winning all sorts of blind tests, incredibly clean, and coming in at the seemingly ridiculous price of $11 a bottle, less than Smirnoff. But this is how much it should cost. Everything above this is marketing.

If this post does nothing more, I just hope anyone reading this who ever has occasion to buy vodka or a cocktail with vodka in it, skip the Grey Goose, the Trump, the Hangar One, the Van Gogh — basically anything they put in the “locked case” at your local booze shop. DON’T BELIEVE HIS LIES!

Defcon Nite Results
Aug 22nd, 2008 by Pinback

Well, the maiden voyage of Defcon Nite is over. There were some ups and downs, but taken all together, for a first time attempt, I’d say that even though there were a few glitches here and there, still at the end, it was a complete and utter failure in every respect.

Now let’s do one of those time-worn, time-weathered, time-honored, dumbass traditions of listing the Winners & Losers!

WINNER

Me, in the two games any collection of the contestants were able to complete. This is of no importance though, since the point was just to have fun.

LOSER

WORM. He did his usual “three days of bitching about GAME NITE before GAME NITE occurs”, then finally decided to HONOR us with his presence at the last minute, and then COULDN’T EVEN FUCKING CONNECT TO THE SERVER, when everyone else in the universe could. Once again, Worm did his best to ruin GAME NITE, and it’s easy to make a strong case that he succeeded.

WINNER

Hygraed, for having the stones and integrity to show up and give it his best shot, even though he had no idea what the hell he was doing.

LOSER 

ICJ’s internet connection. He got booted off five minutes into the first game, and continued to get booted off every five minutes thereafter during the entire evening. Only by having HIM host a game was any semblance of continuity established.

WINNER

ICJ, for never giving up, sticking with it, actually managing to have a good time, and even bought the game afterward, which bodes well for further DEFCON NITES.

FUCKING LOSERS

The unbelievable fucking man-child DICKNUTS over at the Defcon forum. Look at this thread. This is all you have to know.

WINNER 

ICJ, for his post in the above thread, which hopefully will not have been deleted by the time you read this.

LOSER

WORM.

WINNER

DEFCON itself. Putting aside both its nearly unrivaled elegance and atmosphere, as well, as my own personal bias toward the game — being EXACTLY the game that I have wanted since I was 13 years old, with that desire never wavering, even after the cold war ended and I grew up and got three dogs, each disabled in their own special way — the deeper I delve into it, the more the genius of it shines through. Not as the deepest, most complex strategy game ever, but as a perfect mix of strategy, simplicity, fun, lack of micromanagement, and being able to complete an entire game in under 45 minutes, which is about all that people with 3 dogs (or 5 cats) have time for. It’s a joy to play, it’s a joy to watch, it’s a joy to just experience, and it’s the least frustrating strategy game to lose that I’ve ever played.

Retrospect: the 2004 New Orleans Saints
Aug 21st, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

The 2004 New Orleans Saints are the only team that I have seen pack it in during the second game of the NFL season.

It’s quite true. Years from now history will forget, but I won’t — the 2004 San Francisco 49ers were putting street free agents on their defensive line due to injury. For game two they started guys who weren’t in camp with them… or anyone. Ken Dorsey was the quarterback, playing in his first game for Christ’s sake! If you get beat by a quarterback starting his first game, ever, it’s actually indicative of a mess of failures within your organization and Dorsey, to his credit, almost did it.

The 49ers would have won the game if backup running back Jamal Robertson didn’t fumble and give the Saints one more crack with the ball, and even Yahoo didn’t mention it in the recap. The Saints had given up on the season, but an unforced miscue gave them a second chance.

I can’t fully explain how little they wanted to win that game. My brother said once that the team seemed like they were more interested in hitting up the strip clubs and giving each other a hotfoot than actually playing football on Sunday. I saw them play with a lead in the third quarter once in 2004. They acted like a team that was shocked at what time the game started each week. As if they were a disorganized flag football team. Whoa, playing at one o’clock?!! What the-? Is it early this week? Sure coach, I’ll get right to the game, don’t take the coin flip till I get there! Where’s my helmet?

I blamed the coach at the time — Jim Haslett — and his co-ordinators (Mike McCarthy on the offense and Rick Venturi on the defense) and I guess I still do, a little. For years the Saints played like they didn’t get any sleep the night before. It’s funny, seeing Mike McCarthy coach the Packers these days. It’s not as funny seeing our coach in 2008, Sean Payton, abandon the run just as easily as McCarthy did.

Two teams made it in 2004 at 8-8 and it really burns me that my mediocre team wasn’t good enough to be one of them, especially since they beat one of them outright (the Rams). Although! As bad as things were in New Orleans, I’d have hated to have to wish that my Super Bowl draught would end with Mike Fucking Tice at the helm (as Vikings fans would have, in 2004). There is a reason he never got another head coaching job in the league. When I grew up, the Buffalo Bills had a few like that before Marv Levy took over. It really does say it all.

In the end, the 2004 Saints were eliminated in the various tie-breakers because their former kicker — Doug Brien — missed like a 90 yarder that the Jets (who had nothing to play for) had him try against the Rams.  The way that Haslett cut him, I wouldn’t have blamed him if, rather than kick the ball, he simply took off his pants, revealed “FUCK” on his left cheek,  “HASLETT” on the right and hiked the ball himself into his own end zone.

And I will never forget the image of Johnathan Sullivan, the worst player in New Orleans Saints history, watching the game completely stone-faced. I am not going to make a fat guy joke here. Back in 2004 we still had hope.

I have a little bit of hope today, in August of 2008. Not much. Six times the Saints have made the playoffs and once, back in the 90s while I was in high school, I had to work a shift at the Hilton Big M during one of the games. They just don’t go often. It’s also a little funny to see Bobby Hebert win that stupid ESPN poll for “Best Saint of All-Time” considering his selfish contract demands, and subsequent refusal to play in 1990 wasted one of the prime years of the Dome Patrol defense, putting up 6 points in the playoffs against a Bears team that got creamed the next week against the Giants. (We could have been the team that got creamed in the second round that year!!) Hebert wasn’t great, but he would have done a better job than Walsh.

But if the team does do well, it’s important – for me – to remember how much terrible football I watched to get there. 2004 was one of those seasons.

Michael Phelps 8 gold medals YAWN
Aug 20th, 2008 by Knuckles the Clown

The Summer Olympics, where we drag out sports nobody gives a fuck about every 4 years.

The last time I watched a swim meet was Back to School with Rodney Dangerfield, and that was actually diving and pretty goddman entertaining since the villian from Karate Kid played the villian here as well.

So Michael Phelps, I want to see what the buzz is. You got mastercard doing one of there wretched ads suggesting this Phelps character has groupies. ESPN is documenting his quest for 8 medals like its a Red Sox-Yankees world series.

So basically the guy is the fastest swimmer. Great. He is the fastest backwards, forwards and when the have him do the other goofy swim strokes well. And then they throw in relays. Essentially he is doing the same fucking thing over and over, so 8 medals is unreal right? Not exactly.

If someone is essentially doing the same event over and over again and getting a medal everytime that would tell me there are too many redundant medal events. Take basketball, you play 7-8 games, win one medal. They dont then have a left handed only basketball medal round or backwards running basketball round.

If Phelps swam up and down the pool, won one medal and then jumped into a fencing outfit or climbed in the boxing ring and won a medal, I say Athlete, great Athlete and his medal count is given credability. Since he is just swimming and they hand out way more medals for it, YAWN, he swims fast, great.

I dont really have a point other than his 8 medals is vastly overated. He is the best at what he does and you can keep coming up with slight variations of it and he will win. What does that prove that winning one race doesnt?

Save Everywhere
Aug 19th, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

When it comes to computer and console games, there is one sure-fire way to make me despise the game, the developers, its publisher and all the testers (I started off my career as a printer driver tester, so that hate is just a lingering, autobiographical hate): a lack of Save Anywhere!

Let’s define both Save Anywhere and the arguments of those that oppose it. “Save Anywhere” in a video games means … (meant?) … that you can click on the “Escape” button, and save the game. Instantly, the game state is saved to the drive, and you can pick it up from exactly that moment. This is how things should be.

A lot of games use the “checkpoint” system. Let’s say you’re killing Nazis in a video game. You are a little low on health and maybe distracted by a hot, gorgeous, leather-claden female Nazi. At some point in our lives, it’s happened to all of us. Sometimes its in Cosplay, sometimes it was at the camps, and sometimes its in the murder simulator.

Because you’re distracted, the female Nazi shoots you and kills you. You couldn’t save, in this example, because there is no Save Anywhere. Instead, you get to re-start your game from the last “checkpoint.” Or, the last place the designer bothered to LET you save.

This is horrible, this is nonsense, this is for children with wide-open summer vacations. Save Anywhere is critical! Designers don’t always design a game without Save Anywhere because many of them are incompetent and weak and won’t fight for it: as a result, they are constantly putting long, unskippable cut-scenes before the the checkpoint, they are constantly “stacking” missions before the checkpoints, they are, quite simply, ruining their video game.

There are very few people I hate on the Internet, but I really do hope that the people who argue against Save Anywhere die. Just to stop you all from posting, you see: if you could shut the fuck up with your horrible take on this issue, adding to a chorus of SHIT, we’d all be cool. But you people won’t. You say that Save Anywhere is bad. My Save Anywhere. Your words are retarded, and they hurt. You like to say that you can’t stop yourself from saving every two seconds and ruining the tension. Oh, yes, tension – that is a good one. If you want tension in your home, get a pet snake. But it’s alllllll about tension with you people. I hope, when your lives are all snuffed out by the dark hangman of gaming, that he has plenty of slack in the rope, you worthless, miserable fuckers. I hope you all die, but I hope you have that split-second of thinking that the rope will extend to the ground and that maybe you’ll survive after all, but then you don’t.

So on this note, I would like to announce the first couple instances of Save Everywhere that I can recall. They are within the games Space Giraffe and Braid, on the Xbox 360.

When you complete a level in Space Giraffe with three or more lives… the game simply saves. That’s it, you’re done, you’re good, it’s automatic. I don’t have to do anything. Likewise, Braid: you complete a screen, and the goddamn thing quietly saves your progress.

Computer Space was the first game I care about, as it was the first arcade game. According to the Killer List of Video Games, it was released in 1971… which, unfortunately with how inaccurate KLOV is, means that it was released at some point between 1942 and 212 (we reset what year it is in three hundred years, just trying to future-proof this article). From 1971 to 2008! It took forever, but game developers and designers are finally figuring out how to let people seamlessly save their 1) goddamn games 2) time.

 

Warlords for the 360 Live Arcade
Aug 18th, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

I have an article I have been meaning to write for months now, about the game Castle Crisis. It is an arcade-perfect translation of Warlords for the Atari 800. If you had a 2600 (and any taste!) you probably played Warlords for the 2600, as it was quite common. The paddle controllers are in perfect form for the game, and it remains an excellent party game.

I picked up Warlords for the 360 (install size: ~35MB, cost: 400 points or $5) and after a long ummmmmmm I come right back to the problem I have trying to do spinner games without a spinner: you need a spinner!

So I don’t know. Is it even worth debating this one? hygraed, in the BBS, told me that there IS a spinner controller for the Xbox, and if I am going to keep doing this thing (get games that require a spinner – next up, Discs of Tron) then maybe it would be a good second controller for my system.

Let’s debate it anyway. Warlords for the 360 comes in two styles: classic and evolved. Amazingly, like real-life evolution, the latter is worse for all the human tinkering. Graphically — and please keep in mind I am on a 19″ screen until I finish my next text game — it’s a cramped mess, with some kind of weird mechanized robotroid post-modern thing going on. (Put it this way: the presentation sort of reminds me of what Sentinel Returns did on the PC years ago.) Because we’re all used to the crisp and clear graphics of regular Warlords, anything else that gums up the works is not necessary. In the (physical) arcade version of Warlords, it pretty much takes one hit to destroy one block. Not so with the evolved 360 version! No idea why!

So, Warlords is an amazing game that suffers from control issues on the 360 with the standard controller. My opinion of this game is INCOMPLETE until such time as I find a spinner, or some humans to play against on-line.

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