You can touch it, down there....

Ok first, sorry for not posting for over a week but I decided to take an impromptu vacation from the internet in general while I was visiting my family aside from checking my email, and in general entertainment news slowed to a crawl. Moving on today's header refers to what was easily my favorite present from Santa: The Nintendo DS. And more specifically referring to this very amusing VG Cats comic:

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I don't have Wifi, but I was able to try it out at a friends house with Mario Kart and its pretty cool and suprisingly fun when you don't have to worry about some jackass using racial slurs or whining since you can't talk to them. You can order a part from Nintendo that's far cheaper than a wireless adapater that you just hook into a usb port on your computer (assuming you have DSL of course) but I may wait and see if I get more games that take advantage of wifi play before I justify buying it. Mario & Luigi: Partners in time is also an instant classic for anyone looking for a good rpg with a solid challenge. But so far I do not have any games that make extensive use of the stylus, but I'll look for something as soon as I get down to my local gamestore.

I also got Guild Wars for the PC, the main attraction of this MMORPG is that unlike every other one out there it's completely free. My experience so far is limited, but it just seems not all that different from WOW although it's entirely possible that I may just have played to much of that game and need an MMO break in general. Which leads to my next topic-for the time being, I believe I am done with the World of Warcraft. Going on endless high levle runs into dungeons is just about the only thing you can do at my level in the game and not only is it extremely tedious to get a good solid group together, it's just starting to seem like a chore. I still have about two weeks before I get billed again, so I may give it another shot before I finally decide to cancel, but odds are I'll be taking a nice long break if not a permanent one.

I did manage to catch several movies in my brief time off. First up-King Kong: I thought it was a brilliant hollywood epic that even at three hours doesn't feel stretched with brilliant performances by almost everyone. Unfortunatley Jack Black shows no adeptness at playing it straight and comes off as a cartoon villain with shifty eyes for pratically the whole film. But I highly reccomend it.

Then there was The Ringer: Possibly the biggest suprise on my end because I was expecting this movie with Johnny Knoxville to be horribly tasteless, gross and unfunny to boot. After all, it is about a guy who pretends to be retarded in order to win the Special Olympics and get a big payday. It manages to skip all three of those, never treating disabled people with disrespect and still managing to be fairly entertaining. The plot is fairly predictable, but it's probably one of the better comedic bets right now.

That leads into the other comedy I saw-Fun With Dick & Jane: It's a perfectly alright comedy with a moderate amount of laughs, but they just played it a little too safe for my tastes when they could've really used this opportunity to either completely rip on big buisness or make a really biting comedy about desperate people with seemingly few options. Not bad, but probably could've been much better.

And finally Munich: This is a movie everybody should probably see. It's shocking, powerful, and extremely well done. But be warned that it is a very heavy movie and really starts to drag the last 25 minutes or so. But this would seem to be an easy oscar favorite for all the important categories.

That's really it for today, but I promise to update tommorow or Sunday. Until then, do yourself a favor and GO BUY THE SERENITY DVD.


Return of the King

Although I will cover King Kong in this post, today's header is about the return of another king-King Graham. The legendary King's Quest series is making a comeback, and it's all thanks to the fans. The new game is completely fan made, which makes it thankfully completely free. I will be anxiously awaiting the release of this one.

Played Halo 1 & 2 until your eyes bled out and still need even more? Fans come to the rescue again-Halo: Zero, a free 2D prequel made for Halo fans, by Halo fans. Obviously not nearly as sophisticated as it's big budget counterparts, but an impressive and fun little game nonetheless.

Working Designs is officially dead. While they were merely a publishing company, they were responsible for bringing a lot of great games over here with wonderfully done translations (i.e. the Lunar series). But the persident, Victor Ireland said he did want to pursue options on the 360 after his bad experiences with Sony, so this may turn into a positive if seeing more Japanese-developed titles on the 360.

And finally, King Kong is out tommorow. All signs point to this being one of the few remakes that not only does not suck, but even outdoes the original, pretty much cementing Peter Jackson as a true genius rather than some guy who just got lucky. I will most likely be seeing it Sunday, and fully expect it to rock. But Jackson's big hits have all been based on well-known previous material so far, I'd like to see him tackle some original material.


Greatest. Game. Ever.

Just what will be the greatest game ever? BRADY BUNCH KUNG FU. I know it's mobile, but the sheer audacity and orignality of this idea totally rocks. Can we do the same thing with the Cosby show?

So I may actually start liking EA again. Although they haven't really supported Nintendo in the past, according to the big N they are very excited about the Revolution and it's wacky new controller. I'll wait and see if this actually translates into something cool, but if you can get the biggest game company in America in your corner, that's a good starting point. I have also heard the Revolution will easily be the least powerful of the next gen consoles, but if that equals a relatively cheap system (I'm guessing $250) and keeping games in the $50, I'll be happy to throw most of my money their way.

Pretty much the only major release this weekend is the long-awaited debut of Chronicles of Narnia. I'm excited but also a little hesitant, as Disney's history with live-action films is not pretty, and the ads do make it seem like it's more of a LOTR wannabe than its own film.

I did see Aeon Flux last Friday and surprisingly it did not suck. I'm not saying run to your nearest theater and grab a ticket, but it's not a bad option if you've seen just about every really good movie and are just looking for a decent way to kill some time.

All right, that's all for today, but I'll try and be back this weekend.


Bring me the head of Roger Ebert!

Seriously, how this lazy fatass became America's premiere critic is beyond me, but he should at least be smart enough to not blast a medium he knows little to nothing about. Yet this does not stop him, as seen by this recent exchange:

Q. I was saddened to read that you consider video games an inherently inferior medium to film and literature, despite your admitted lack of familiarity with the great works of the medium. This strikes me as especially perplexing, given how receptive you have been in the past to other oft-maligned media such as comic books and animation. Was not film itself once a new field of art? Did it not also take decades for its academic respectability to be recognized?

There are already countless serious studies on game theory and criticism available, including Mark S. Meadows' Pause & Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative, Nick Montfort's Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction, Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Pat Harrigan's First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game, and Mark J.P. Wolf's The Medium of the Video Game, to name a few.

I hold out hope that you will take the time to broaden your experience with games beyond the trashy, artless "adaptations" that pollute our movie theaters, and let you discover the true wonder of this emerging medium, just as you have so passionately helped me to appreciate the greatness of many wonderful films.

Andrew Davis, St. Cloud, Minn.

A. Yours is the most civil of countless messages I have received after writing that I did indeed consider video games inherently inferior to film and literature. There is a structural reason for that: Video games by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control.

I am prepared to believe that video games can be elegant, subtle, sophisticated, challenging and visually wonderful. But I believe the nature of the medium prevents it from moving beyond craftsmanship to the stature of art. To my knowledge, no one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers. That a game can aspire to artistic importance as a visual experience, I accept. But for most gamers, video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilized and empathetic.

Unlike the lost hours on such brilliant films you gave thumbs up to like "The Honeymooners"? I love when some out of touch old guy rants about something he knows nothing about. As far as being a waste of time? You sit on your ever enlarging ass at the theatre for hours on end evaluating exactly what would be a good waste of our time. Award-winning composers like Danny Elfman have done videogame music, genius. As far as making us as a society more cultured, civilized and empathetic, video games actually have a better chance of doing that in terms of potential than a movie or book. As you yourself said, movies & books take authorial control, meaning that they take a specific viewpoint and train of thought. Games are getting to be less and less like this, where you have much more direct control over your character's actions and how that affects the world around your character (just look at all the games where you have the choice of being good or evil). Unlike movies or books, they do not tell you what to think, they increasingly let you decide for yourself. There are fluff videogames and there are serious videogames, just like with books and movies. You have strictly based your opinions on the admittedly numerous bad films that have come out of Hollywood based on the medium, but if someone would actually take a game with a solid story and adapt with a crew that was seriously committed to the project (which is hard for ANY film to accomplish these days), you would see a different result.

Moving on, the only film opening in wide release this weekend is Aeon Flux. What are my early thoughts? I have a free pass to this movie and I'm still not sure I want to waste the time to see it. The TV series was an incoherent mess with rather gross sexual undertones, the fact that it wasn't screened for crtics doesn't bode well either.

My Xbox 360 is officially sold, but I do plan on getting another eventually, and a big determiner of exactly when might be when these awesome skins become available:

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Ok, that's all for today, I'll probably post again before the week's end however.