Friday, December 28, 2012

Cartoon Crack

I blame Andy Burns, he's the one who did this. I am addicted to The Simpsons Tapped Out.

Andy is a great guy, a terrific friend, and the editor-in-chief of the coolest pop culture website around, Biff Bam Pop!. Yes, I'm biased, I'm affiliated with the site, and it's a shameless plug, but facts are facts, I only work with the best.

Anyway, Andy and I talk quite a bit across the internet. Friends, family, news, pop culture, anything that's on our minds are the topics of conversation. We don't always agree but I think we know what we each like. Andy has given me some great music recommendations and I've hipped him to some comics I've thought were cool.

Then he suggested I should be playing The Simpsons Tapped Out.

The game is one of a kind I dislike quite a bit. Like those annoying Mafia Wars and FarmVille games that I hate so much on The Facebook, it is a social media engine, not unlike a pyramid scheme, that requires the player to induct others into the game to rise in level.

I didn't want it, but somehow I got sucked in. And I'm loving it. I'm having a lot of fun. The premise that Homer has destroyed Springfield, and now you have to rebuild it piece by piece. Building of course requires money, or donuts. If you don't have enough donuts you may end up using real cash to buy more. That's how this iPhone app makes money, you gotta buy the donuts.

You can't wait until you have enough to build various landmarks and characters from the TV show, and that's part of the charm. I mean, who doesn't love "The Simpsons"? Especially after a quarter century on the air, it would be un-American not to love it.

Now I can't wait to get my Android's Dungeon built, and I need a Bart... Join the addiction. I'm glenn415, please friend me. Andy, this is all your fault.

"One of us... One of us... One of us..."

Friday, December 21, 2012


Until its latest incarnation, syndicated at seven at night with Alex Trebek for the last couple decades, I had never seen "Jeopardy!" which I know is pretty odd, especially for a pop culture guy like me. I was aware of the Art Fleming version, and got all the jokes in "Weird Al" Yankovic's "I Lost on Jeopardy," but had no real frame of reference. The current version, begun in 1984, that continues today, is, of course, a pop culture phenomenon.

It's kind of appropriate that I'm reviewing the Jeopardy! game demo for PS3 here today because Jeopardy! was actually the first computer game I ever saw. When The Bride and I were first dating, she showed the game to me on her amazing four megabyte Apple II computer. At the time, the salesman told her that she would never need a computer with more than four megabytes. Ain't the future great?

That brings us full circle to Jeopardy! on the PS3. The game has some nice features like the ability to create a contestant. The graphics are cartoony, and Alex Trebek is creepy like that, and even creepier without his moustache. The game does use his voice though, which gives the game some authenticity.

There are complaints. You can only answer questions in two categories per round. Not cool. It also makes the games shorter, despite the end credits of the show seeming longer than in real life. The answers are multiple choice, which I suppose makes it easier. And of course, there no worry about putting your answer in the form of a question, but that's okay for me.

Now it should be noted that the multiple choice is only on the easy mode, but still. And just for the record, I encountered the same questions in the easy mode and the hard mode - the difference was in the latter I had to spell out the answers. Seems like a glitch to me. I wanted different questions. Oh well, Jeopardy! was fun while it lasted, and better than a four megabyte game.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Kaiju Combat Kickstarter

Details are here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Lego Pirates

I love Lego. It was a toy I didn't have as a child so I have always had a fascination with as an adult. And now that recently Lego has been putting out Lego versions of superheroes, I love them more. I really groove on having my own Lego versions of the Justice League and the Avengers.

That said, I think having special Batman, Avengers, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, and all the other sets for Lego kinda takes some of the imagination play away from the kids. Especially when a set is supposed to be put together a certain way, rather than letting the kid built what he or she wants, ya know?

Soapbox time over. Lego also seems to be a major force in videogames. Heck, one of the first games I reviewed here was a Lego game. Folks seem to like using Lego-ized characters in videogames. This time we have Disney's Pirate franchise in Lego Pirates of the Caribbean. The animatics in the opening of the game are recreations of many moments from the movies done Lego animation style. The game itself however is something else.

The demo I downloaded from the PlayStation Store wouldn't let me free play until I completed the story mode. That was disappointing. And once I hit start, there were more movie recreations in Lego style. There was more TV watching here than actual game playing.

When finally I was allowed to play, there was more disappointment. Without an instruction manual (good luck finding one online, PS seems dead set against supplying instructions), I was at a loss as to what to do. I collected coins Mario style but then found it impossible to leave the room I started in. I suppose I'll have to wait for one of my gaming guru friends to come over. At least I can play with my Lego Avengers until then...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph

This review, in a slightly altered form, has already appeared on my pop culture blog, Welcome to Hell. Since it's videogame topical, I figured I'd share it here too. Enjoy.

First things first, Wreck-It Ralph being a Disney/Pixar flick, we get a Pixar cartoon before the main feature. "Paperman" was a sweet short utilizing different animation than usual for Pixar, and it also had a bit of a Japanese anime vibe to it. I liked it a lot, a big reason to see this movie is to see "Paperman" first.

Wreck-It Ralph, the newest from Disney/Pixar, is loosely at first glance a cross between Toy Story and Tron. Like the first movie we discover that the entities in our videogames actually live, especially when we're not looking, and like the second flick we discover that they live in their own little universe with its own physical and moral laws, all within the confines of one arcade.

Wreck-It Ralph is the bad guy in a game called Fix-It Felix, Jr., essentially close to Donkey Kong in many ways. Ralph, shunned by the other denizens of his game, determines to leave his game and make good. He goes off to Hero's Duty, a hybrid of Halo and Starship Troopers, to win a medal, and recognition. When things go awry, he becomes stranded in Sugar Rush, a mix of Mario Kart and Candyland. There, Ralph must decide if truly is the bad guy, or a hero.

It's a complex plot that is quite dark in places, but for the most part, it's an enjoyable journey through 1980s videogame nostalgia. It has a sharp sense of humor, great characters, and the voice work of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, and especially Jane Lynch is first class. There are also many cameos of classic videogame characters that make the flick a real treat.

An added trivia bonus for old school videogamers is the song that plays over the closing credits, "Wreck It, Wreck-It Ralph" by Jerry Buckner, formerly of Buckner & Garcia of "Pac-Man Fever" fame.

I liked Wreck-It Ralph quite a bit, and while I wonder if this might be over or under the heads of some folks who weren't into, or alive for, 1980s arcade games, I highly recommend it. Great flick.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The New PlayStation Store

Since getting my PS3, and writing this blog, I have been quite dependent on the PlayStation Store. It's where I get all the wonderful free trials and demos I play and write about.

As with all things that we rely on on a daily basis, whether we realize it or not, they are just old and lousy. No matter how good we think they are, and how much we live them - trust me, it's all old and lousy. You know how I know? Because invariably, something 'new and improved' will come along. Like today.

Welcome to the new PlayStation Store. I am, of course, hesitant. Both because I am old, and because I liked the old interface. Just because something can be improved, doesn't mean it should, ya know?

All that said, it does seem like a happier, shinier, and most importantly, easier to navigate interface. It gives a good view of everything the store has to offer - movies, television, applications, and (whodathunkit?) games. Use the left side menu if you want to find specific games, or types of games, however.

Nice, for once, it's a new and improved that is new and improved.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Big Pong Theory

My buddy Ray brought this to my attention on the Facebook. This is how Atari celebrates its 40th anniversary this week...

The full story is here.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Barcade and the Frustration of Getting Old

A few months back The Bride and I attended a birthday party for two friends, at a place in the Philadelphia/Fishtown area called Barcade. Barcade is exactly what it sounds like, a bar/arcade. It has a couple dozen old school arcade games, and an assortment of local and obtuse brews, all for a quarter - the games, not the beers, that is.

I was stunned to how close to an arcade of the good old days this place was, what with the variety of games and their placement around the bar area. They even had high scores posted. They had a bar menu, but no fries. But it's all good, they carded me, the first time that's happened in years, so I was very happy.

When I looked around at the selection of games, at first I had little interest, then as I walked around, and got a closer look my memory kicked in… I realized I had done time, serious time, with all of them at one point or another in my younger years. Among the games at Barcade: OutRun, Gauntlet, Ms. Pac-Man, Mr. Do!, Golden Axe, Track & Field, Frogger, BurgerTime, Centipede, Double Dragon, Punch-Out!!, Tetris, and Robotron 2084, just to name a few. A full list can be found here.

Spy Hunter, Rampage, Tempest, Dig Dug, Paper Boy, Space Invaders, Galaxian, Joust. I knew them all intimately. And yet I was no longer capable of playing them. The muscles and reflexes honed to each particular set of skills for each game had deteriorated over the years of disuse. Man, playing videogames sure wasn't like riding a bike, you can't just get back on. In other words, I was old.

Lead photo by John Donges.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Ghost of Portal

I hate Q. You know, Q from "Star Trek The Next Generation." Or more accurately I hate John de Lancie, who provides the voice that annoys in the game Quantum Conundrum.

More than a year ago, maybe two, when I discovered what a great place for customer service the Marlton Game Stop was (sadly, it's gone now), I asked for a gift recommendation for The Bride, who at the time was well immersed in Portal. I wanted something like Portal for when she finally finished Portal. A game that was not yet out was suggested - Quantum Conundrum.

The game never came out. At least that I know of. I looked and asked and asked and looked, but for the most part no one else had heard of it. Imagine my surprise when it showed up as a download from the PlayStation Store. It was quickly purchased and brought to the attention of The Bride. Happy way late Christmas/Birthday/whatever present. She took to it, like, well, like The Bride to Portal.

In the game John de Lancie voices Professor Fitz Quadwrangle, who much like like GLaDOS in Portal, never shuts up. It's to the point of madness, and it's not even about cake this time. The professor's house has become a maze of alternate dimensions, and you the player, his nephew, have to navigate your way through the house, with the help of his clueless disembodied voice, until the house and the professor are all back in the same right dimension.

Quantum Conundrum is a puzzle game, so it infuriates me almost as much as de Lancie's voice annoys me. I can't play it, but The Bride loves it, so I can't complain.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Secret History of Star Raiders

Back in the stone age days of the Atari 2600, when it was the videogame system, there was one game that stood out away from the rest, and not for any good reasons. That was Star Raiders.

Everyone had Star Raiders, but I don't think anyone liked it, or even played it. Ninety-nine percent of all Atari games used either a joystick or a paddle controller, but not Star Raiders. It had a big number pad controller with a phone cord like cord. As an oddity it stood out, and as I said, I didn't know anyone who played it, maybe because it was a bit difficult to play or to understand how to play. My Atari is long ago stored away, and I'm not digging it up any time soon to check it out - so forget that noise.

But the facts are of course that Star Raiders predates the Atari 2600, and goes back to the Atari 400 and 800, and the Atari 8-bit family of games. Yeah, this is one of the ancestors. Star Raiders may have been crippled by the limiting graphics of the 2600, or at least that's what my computer geek friends tell me. I have also been told that it was the precursor to later games that I have enjoyed like Starmaster and the Star Trek arcade game, and even Wing Commander. The original SR even borrowed itself from Trek, Star Wars, and even Battlestar Galactica in its own designs. Man, I wish I remembered this game better, or at least played it.

Now imagine my surprise when I saw Star Raiders listed as a free download at the PlayStation Store. I downloaded it but only remembering it vaguely from childhood I didn't play right away. After learning more about it, I was eager to play and jumped right to it.

Wow, the visuals are something else, but man, the controller directions are among the most complicated I have seen so far for the PS3. Steering was insane, but the format was eerily similar to favorite games like those mentioned above, Starmaster and Star Trek. It was very cool. I will have to learn more. I'm sure it will be worth it. And I actually feel a little bad I didn't put more time in with the 2600 version.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Deluxe Is Not Always Better

I used to play the original Elevator Action all the time. The concept had the player controlling secret agent Otto in a 2D vertical scroller as he went from the roof of a building dozens of floors down to escape from the basement in a cool car. Along the way you used elevators and escalators to descend while finding secret plans behind doors, jumping and shooting enemy spies. It was fairly simple but I loved it, and I was good at it. I could play for hours on just a few quarters, and always got through more than a few buildings.

I think there's an NES version of this but I recall it was just not the same. There just certain tricks to the arcade game that just didn't carry over. This seems to be by far the case with the PS3 version, called Elevator Action Deluxe. The deluxe in the title refers to better I guess, or at least it seems that's what the creators want you to think. I think not. If PS3 made the old arcade game, just the way it was, I would be happy as a cat in a tuna factory, but that wasn't the case.

In this case, the deluxe meant 3D rather than 2D, giving the game a whole new, and not necessarily better look. They also added in bombs and bigger guns, but when you can't ride on top of the elevators and do other such tricks, what's the point? This version is still fun to play, easy to beat, but if I'm being honest, I'd rather play the original. Anyone know where they still have an arcade machine of this one?

Monday, August 6, 2012

That's Really Trippin', Man

Thinking outside the box. That's where some of the cooler videogames of our age are coming from I think. Not so much fighting or blowing stuff up, or even trying to do puzzles, but more like dig the visuals, man. Much like coming down off a alcohol or drug-induced party high and watching "Teletubbies" on PBS at four in the morning, that's what some of these games are like.

One such game is called Flower, created by Thatgamecompany, not as a game per se, but more as a work of art. It shows. You are a flower petal floating in the wind, controlled by the movement of the game controller. Set to beautiful calming music, the petal floats across gorgeous landscapes through your direction. This is a fantastically visual game, what little game there is to it. I could watch for hours, as it is relaxing.

And then there's Eufloria from Valve Corporation, also known as Steam, the folks that brought you Portal. They call it a 'real-time strategy videogame,' whatever that means. With backing music that sounds like it was lifted from WXPN's "Star's End," you are a space seed in the future, and you have to make your way to another asteroid to grow into a tree, from which more seeds will come, just like nature, ya know? It's even more frustrating than Flower.

My days of post-party diversion are long over, so I guess these are not the games for me. But they sure are pretty, or at least Flower is, but I'm sure will put most folks to sleep…

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Demo, Not the Movie II

Continuing my quest to play videogames based on movies and not get disappointed, I decided to give Back to the Future - Episode 1: It's About Time a shot. Firstly I was put off by the ugly cartoony graphics and even moreso by the punny title, but let's put that aside.

I did like the music from the movies, and the voicework, all originals I think, in the opening cinematic. Or is it just the opening cinematic? This is actually a whole lot like watching a movie with choose-your-own-adventure capability. It gets old pretty quick - especially when you don't know the right answers or choices. It's a lot like being an actor in a movie where you didn’t get the script, and nobody else is prompting you.

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I only have the demo so I didn't get to play much, but I don't see it changing later on. Good mystery, good plot, I like the music and voicework quite a bit, but all in all, a bust.

Finally, Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime gets the prize for being the loudest and most annoying game of all, and that's even before one hits the start button. As I scroll through all my downloaded games, bits of music and backgrounds from the games come up as I pass the titles. Every time I pass by this one, the refrain to Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters" screams out of the television, making anyone not prepared or warned jump out of their seats. This game almost made it onto The Rejected list just for this several times.

Thankfully the music in the actual game is of a lower volume. The Ghostbusters portrayed in the game are not the ones we know from the movie or the cartoon series, although they are outfitted in the same way. The opening depicts these new anime-like Ghostbusters in a comic booky intro before actual gameplay begins. Gameplay is pretty lame however in my opinion. The characters are small and distant, similar to Voltron reviewed earlier, or the first versions of X-Men and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES. Not good.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pac-Man from Hell

Now I know Pac-Man. Heck, we all know Pac-Man. This thing, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, that I downloaded from the PlayStation Store is not Pac-Man. I don't know what the hell it is, but it scares me, it scares my heart, my poor poor pacemakered heart.

The board is horizontal, rather than vertical, much like the Atari 2600 Pac-Man game. Unlike that version, this does look like Pac-Man, and the graphics are very precise and very vibrant. Psychedelic acid trip vibrant, and the music is pulse-pounding house techno that seems to get faster and the game gets more frantic. I could feel my heart beating in time to it with the pressure of the game.

There are advantages. You get bombs to blow up the ghosts, but it doesn't really seem to help as they recover quickly, and there are ghosts everywhere, sleeping until you pass near. They just keep coming. It's almost as if someone decided Pac-Man wasn't hard enough, it needed to give you a nervous condition as well.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Taking Inventory

With the addition of the PlayStation 2, I felt it was time to take inventory of exactly how far down the rabbit hole The Non-Gamer has fallen since this started. The first problems were that Ray also gave me PS2 games with the PS2, then I bought a few myself. Damn you, GameStop, for liquidating your PS2 games at buy-two-get-one-free.

Of course I started this blog after the purchase of a PS3. So far we haven't purchased many PS3 games actually. I got one of the Ultimate Alliances because I really wanted to play it. I bought DC Universe Online as soon as I learned it was going to be free to play. The Bride bought Disney Universe and Sing It, and then there are all those games Ray lent us. There have been a few other games, but for the most part we have been downloading them.

The PlayStation Network provides an amazing, ever-changing selection of demos and trial versions of games. At last count, we had over eighty games in our system, including at least a dozen we have purchased. Pain is one of my favorites to this day. Whenever I open the PlayStation Network, I will end up playing it for at least a little while, good for a bit of stress relief.

Now even though I call myself The Non-Gamer, and this blog started with the purchase of the PlayStation 3, I do own other game systems. As I've mentioned I bought an Atari 2600 back in the 1980s. We have almost two of the old Atari game shelves full of the little cartridges

Once we got married, one of the big deal buys we made was an old Nintendo Entertainment System along with all the bells and whistles, not to mention about thirty different games. While I love stuff like the Mario games, there is always the problem of "turn waiting."

We also have a Super Nintendo as well, but only two games for that, Justice League Task Force and Super Godzilla. Yeah, it was a Christmas gift, and was feeding two of my peculiar obsessions. It did not get much play as no instructions came with the game system, or either of the two games.

I haven't even thought of the dozens of games on iPhone if they count.

Wow, I guess I'm not much of a Non-Gamer after all. Now, can someone please tell me how to turn off the PlayStation 2?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Justice League Heroes Revisited

When I got the PlayStation 2, my first order of business was playing Justice League Heroes. As I mentioned, I really enjoyed playing this game a few New Year's Eves ago and wanted to play again.

I jumped right in, and after a half-hour or so of button-mashing I finally figured out what buttons to push and what combinations did what. Of course I was only on the first level so it was just Superman and Batman and I was only fighting Brainiac's minions and rescuing citizens. Fun, but slow going. I did find a nice tactic in having Superman carry around a car to beat the baddies with. But that's as far as I got. I played a few more times but couldn't get any farther than the confrontation with Brainiac (another of his minions actually). I needed help, as I am, after all, The Non-Gamer. I needed Jeff.

Jeff, as I've mentioned before, has some sort of supernatural gaming skill, mad mad skilz when it comes to videogames, so I waited 'til the next time he was over and urged him to play.

With Jeff's help we got quickly through the Superman/Batman phase and into the Martian Manhunter phase against the Queen Bee, and even into the Flash/Green Lantern phase taking on The Key. And that's when I realized what I liked about the game so much. Unlike DCU Online where you deal with more new player characters than anything else, here you are established characters fighting real villains in a semi-accurate DC Comics continuity.

Now while we saved the game at the point where we stopped, I think I still may need Jeff's help to move forward. Either way, I definitely give Justice League Heroes higher marks than DCU Online. I can't wait to get back to playing. Thanks, Jeff!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Flash Friendly Blob

Tales from Space: About a Blob, another one of my free downloads from the PlayStation Store is cartoony fun that doesn’t require much thinking or much imagination. In other words, it is just The Non-Gamer's speed. And sometimes, after trying to play DCU Online, or heavens forbid, BioShock, that is exactly the kind of game you want.

The game borrows quite liberally from Monsters Vs. Aliens' B.O.B., more than it does from the original movie The Blob with Steve McQueen or any of its sequels and/or remakes. And that's kind of cool, as I said, this is more cartoon than anything else.

You're a blob, small b, and you absorb things, and you're on the move in a laboratory (or a farm if you're daring and want to try the 'hard' level). Honestly, I don't know if there's much more to it. Don't get burned, and keep moving. Simple. Just like life.

About a Blob has a nice flash animation intro in the spirit of keep-it-simple-stupid, ya know. It's easy to learn, lots of tips, all the stuff that for The Non-Gamer makes for a near perfect demo. Just my speed, I like it. The longer I played, the better I got. I had a good time. What more is there to say? Thumbs up.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Other Side

It had been a while since I cracked open the PS3. That's actually a good thing as I've been getting some writing done. Life also sometimes gets in the way. I played the prerequisite hour or so of Pain, and then went looking for something else to play.

As our current tabletop DC Comics role-playing game has been stalled by folks' busy schedule I was jonesing for superhero action so I turned to DCU Online. As I said, it had been a while, so it took forever and a day for it to download updates. Does this happen to everyone, or is it just me because I haven't turned on the machine in a bit?

When it was done I flew around Metropolis as The Red Sun trying to figure out what's what when I got a brainstorm. You have options in the game to have more than one character so I thought, just for kicks and giggles, I'd make a super-villain, and see what different. Walking through the steps of creation was easier this time. I think I had a young woman with zombie skin, inspired by Live Wire and the Joker with electrical powers. As last time, the hardest part was the naming. After several misses, I hit on the name Deadshock, although I think it's spelled 'dedshok.'

Much like my problems as a hero, I had a hard time getting out of Brainiac's spaceship, which is apparently the default starting point. Being a villain, at least I didn't have to fight my way out like before. But I did still have to find a way out.

Once out I ended up in Metropolis, and instead going to the police station I went to the villain equivalent. Same steps, same rules, same old same old, just cooler powers this time. I did take quite a delight in blasting everything in sight. I have to go to a certain place for a mission, yet I can't find it. I guess I need to buy a GPS.

Is there some sort of guide as to how to play this game? Color me confused, as I'm a DC Comics fan who really wants to play and experience this world - and I'm hopefully just limited by my non-experience with games.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Partially Fatal Inertia

Now I downloaded a lot of free demos for the PS3. Some because I knew the game, some because I thought they looked cool, and some because I thought I could write about them here in the blog. Fatal Inertia EX falls squarely in both the second and third categories. And apparently it's not even really a PS3 game, as it is only available as a download. I'm not sure what that even really means bottom line, but it is an interesting point.

Stripped down to the basics, Fatal Inertia is just space motocross, so yeah, just a race game basically, but wow, what a race game. The graphics are startling and fun just to watch, as long as you're not playing. The problem, at least for me, was, as usual, the controller. I needed lots of practice steering before I could master anything else like the racing part. It's fun though, and I can see how this would be a blast for someone who had mastered the controls.

Once you know what you’re doing as far as the racing part goes, you can worry about other stuff like smashing into stuff, running out of gas, brakes overheating, or, say, even winning the races. It was very frustrating at first, but the more I played, the more excited I was about it. That said, I still can't play, but I want to.

At higher levels it becomes a bit like the old "Speed Racer" cartoons where you can fight with the other racers as you race. Nice. It adds a whole new dimension to what I thought was just a race game. I just need one of my game gurus to come over and show me how to do this.

Monday, June 4, 2012

An Ayn Rand Nightmare

I have talked about the concept of games before as simple entertainments. I wanted to play things like Grand Theft Auto and/or The Incredible Hulk because I wanted to blow off some steam and smash stuff. The game should be a simple fun getaway from everyday life. Fantasy.

Sometimes, some of these games take fantasy a bit too far, and a bit too seriously. In books, comics, television, and film, there are such things, so why not in videogames too? BioShock is one of those games. You will become immersed in a completely new world of wonder and horror that honestly I'm not sure why you would want to go there. It's frightening, it's disturbing, and worse than that, it lectures you.

The story of this game is that you are a plane crash survivor trapped in the underwater city of Rapture in an alternate 1960s world and you're hunted by mutants and steampunk robots. Yeah, absorb all that. Turn out the lights and add even more horror to the mix, along with lots of questions and morality issues, and you've got BioShock, the love child of Ayn Rand and Clive Barker.

BioShock is a first person shooter, where inexplicably you don't even start with anything to shoot with. You begin in the water, probably having just survived the plane crash, and you are surrounded by fire. It's very pretty. Amazing special effect, but good luck moving on from there unless you know what you're doing. .

Now I know there's more to this game, as I've seen Crystal play it, but I can't get past the fire myself. It's dark and it's scary, and so full of moral ambiguity as you explore this city built on the principles of the Objectivist movement. Oh yeah, and there's enough child endangerment to make Batman look like a good father.

I wish I understood how to play, and that said, I wish I understood why people want to play. Low marks from me, at least so far, for BioShock.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Injustice: Gods Among Us Announced

The new DC Comics game from NetherRealm Studios. Looks dark and creepy, a la the Batman Arkham games, and it appears that the good guys might not be the good guys in this one. NR Studios previously produced the DC Universe Vs. Mortal Kombat game.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Incident at the Atco Multiplex

One of my recent downloads from the PlayStation Store has been X-Men, not a PS3 or PS2 dealie, but the real classic arcade side scroller. Old folks like me may remember this bad boy from the early 1990s when arcade games still existed where everyone could get to them as opposed to antique stores and othersuch places.

The X-Men arcade game was by Konami, and was as I said, a side scrolling fight game. You could play, with other players, anywhere from one to six different X-Men characters. The choices available were Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, or Dazzler, and you fought your way through multiple levels of Sentinels of varying power levels past bosses who were all major and minor X-villains all under the control of Magneto. Simple game, but for the time, this was a major thing.

I was thrilled to find it on the PS3. Ray was unimpressed when I told him, I was full of the excitement of a kid on Christmas morning. "This is why you like it," he said, "It's moron simple, you just hit stuff." That may be, and it may be simple, as I said, but it was cool. Now in the age of an Avengers movie that makes over a billion dollars at the box office, but for the time, it was awesome, and it takes me back in time. Then nobody knew who the X-Men were, and comic recognition was low, so for those in the know, an X-Men arcade game was a special thing.

I remember distinctly the X-Men arcade being at the Atco Multiplex movie theater. The Multiplex was built on top of the old Atco Drive-In, a place of many childhood memories for me. I remember climbing to the top of the screen one afternoon with a friend when we were kids. I also remember seeing probably my very first movies, either Jungle Book or Doctor Doolittle there, when I was much much younger. And of course I took dates there when I was much much older. Eventually it was demolished, paved over and replaced by the Multiplex. The Multiplex itself is now long gone, a deserted church the last time I checked.

The Multiplex had a gigantic lobby, with videogames on either wall, and at the height of its popularity, the crowds were always around the X-Men machine. I still remember the Friday night I saw the end of the game. I kept my date waiting, and we were late for the flick we were there to see, but I saw three players - Wolverine, Storm, and Colossus - I still remember finish the game. This was a huge thing. How rare it was to see someone win a videogame, and I saw it that night. I remember the crowd, probably two dozen people at the end, cheered.

And that was the golden age of videogames. Say what you like, Ray, I'm going to enjoy playing my new hitting stuff game, and when I win it, which I hope I can, it will be a crowd from a dead movie theatre from over two decades ago I hear cheering.