OPINION

[OPINION] Are We Still Going On About E3 2006?

Yes. Yes we are.

We are still going on about it. It was the first, and last, time that The Game Rag will ever be there. It was an exciting time and we deserve to be going on about it.

I met a lot of fun people there, namely blog writers. How many blog writers have you met? Here’s another question: How many E3s have you been to?

I’m guessing the answer to those questions is none (except for maybe the blog writers one) and so you should shut up about me going on about E3. If you’ve never been to one then you wouldn’t know what it’s like and if you had been to one then you would probably go on about it to.

Now, I know that some of you are probably saying to yourselves: “I’ve never once mentioned Nathan going on about E3. I don’t care if he does as long as it’s funny.” Some of you are probably even saying: “Nathan hasn’t even been going about E3. Why is he bringing this up?” At least one of you is saying: “He didn’t go on about E3 while he was there. Why would I care if he did it now?”

Well, go on saying those things. It’s Thanksgiving, I have writer’s block and I’m eating Jiffy Pop just like the Pilgrims.

I can do what I want.

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[OPINION] Anatomy Of A Console Launch

Naveen Sivakumar, our newest star writer and Chemical Engineering Correspondent, explains, hour by hour, the breakdown of a video game console launch.

6:00 pm: T-minus 12 hours
Oh boy, by this time tomorrow, I’ll have the (console name). I’ve waited so long to get it so I can play (disappointing launch game). It so has game of the year written all over it.

7:00 pm: T-minus 11 hours
WHERE IS MY PREORDER RECEIPT!? MOM!

8:00 pm: T-minus 10 hours
All right, I got my preorder receipt, extra clothing to keep me warm, and (handheld system) to keep me entertained. Time to stand in line at (local retailer)!

9:00 pm: T-minus 9 hours
Mike’s calling. He wants me to come over and play (awesome game on previously released console). Doesn’t he know that the (console name) is launching today? Who wants to play last-gen when you can get a 2% increase in floating point pixel power!

10:00 pm: T-minus 8 hours
I’m getting hungry. Where are those PB&J sandwiches mom made for me? I left them at home? Dammit! I’ll lose my place in line if I leave. Wait, there seems to be some half eaten nachos in that trashcan. Dinner is served!

11:00 pm: T-minus 7 hours
These guys standing with me are all weirdos. They keep staring at my (handheld system) and screaming about how (competing handheld system) is so much better because it (is more powerful/has an innovative touch screen/is not an N-Gage). Plus, they all seem to be wearing Battlestar Galactica shirts.

12:00 am: T-minus 6 hours
This is starting to get boring. Maybe I should have brought more than one game for my (handheld system) to play while in line. No problem, I’ll just fantasize about all the awesome games I’ll be playing and how I’m totally gonna rub it in Mike’s face. This whole thing will be worth it for (upcoming killer app) alone. I can’t wait until it gets released this December (more likely next December).

1:00 am: T-minus 5 hours
I HAVE TO PAY TAX ON VIDEOGAMES?!

2:00 am: T-minus 4 hours
I begged my dad for the extra cash. I told him that this would make up for the pain of the divorce with mom. Sucker. Well, I may be at the back of the line, but I preordered the (console name) 2 years in advance. They have to keep one for me, right?

3:00 am: T-minus 3 hours
I’m really starting to bond with the other guys standing in line. We’ve been talking about all the games we were looking forward to and how the (competing next-gen console) is totally (for kids/too expensive/not powerful enough). We seem to have developed a little brotherhood. Even if I don’t get a (console name), it would have been worth it just to hang out with these guys.

4:00 am: T-minus 2 hours
The manager is coming outside. They only have 5 consoles?! Outta my way losers!

5:00 am: T-minus 1 hours
They just handed out the last claim ticket to the guy in front of me. I told him I’d do anything for a (console name). He told me to close my eyes and open my mouth…

6:00 am: Launch
I got one! I finally have a (console name)! Now to go home and bask in the glow of a 2% increase in floating point pixel power!

7:00 am: Disappointment
All these games suck. I paid (cost of console + tax + dignity) for this? Oh well, I’ll just sell it on eBay at an insane markup. Suckers!

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[OPINION] Source Material

According to esteemed scientist, Dr. Avery Orden of the John Hopkins Institute, the ratio of video game commercial tie-ins to terrorists is 1:1. Taking into account the large amount of video games we find based on movies, books, and even music, it is easy to discern one of two things:

1) The U.S. has lost the war on terror.
2) Terrorists don’t know how to make video games.

The vast majority of video games based upon popular franchises are abysmal. If the game is surprisingly well made (GoldenEye, Spider-Man 2) then terrorist involvement was undoubtedly not influential on the project. It is such titles as Friday the 13th (NES), The X-Files: Resist or Serve (PS2), and Superman 64 (N64) that truly spread terror. What is the common reason these titles suffer?

A complete lack of respect for the source material on which it is based.

I don’t remember the last time Jason Voorhees teamed up with a legion of zombies and failed to kill numerous camp counselors, nor do I recall Agent Mulder shooting so many enemies in an episode of the X-Files. And I certainly don’t remember a time in which Superman ever took damage from a bullet.

There are three major reasons terrorists cannot produce quality video game titles:

1) Terrorists don’t know America and, as such, don’t know anything about the rights to the franchises they scored through obscure weapons deals.
2) Terrorists feel that video games are so inferior to other forms of entertainment that they must spice things up with five times the action featuring robotic enemies.
3) They smell.

Terrorists have struck again with the upcoming release, Pillman of Youth, which is based upon the popular Pillsbury Doughboy. This time he’s a rogue pill popper who hides all sorts of drugs in freshly baked bread before smuggling it across intergalactic borders. The developer, Buena Vista, didn’t go so far as to turn the doughboy (now doughman I suppose?) into a gangster ala GTA, but he is comprised of fully prepared bread pieces. The doughboy we know is clearly not yet baked and, what’s more, is a blob of dough, not different pieces of bread put together. The lack of care when handling the Pillsbury Doughboy’s transition into Pillman of Youth is a clear sign that none of the license was on the developer’s mind when the game’s story and gameplay was set in place.

As previously stated, Pillman bakes bread and hides drugs in them to smuggle across borders. However, even this extremely loose connection to the original license has been made completely worthless by the fact that this bit of gameplay is no more than a minigame. That’s right, Pillman of Youth is an open-ended sci-fi adventure with lots of robot enemies between you and the people of Yeast, whom have been oppressed for so long.

This is a simple truth that must be faced if we are to overcome it. Terrorists have been ignoring the source material for all of their endeavors for centuries. The Bible, the Koran, motion pictures . . . it’s all the same to terrorists. Video games based off of popular licenses will continue to fail unless gamers everywhere do something about it. Educate your parents or little siblings who don’t know any better. That Superman game will stab you in the back if you buy it and fear will spread forth anew.

Truly video games based off of popular licenses will continue to fail. Suitable only for casual gamers and foolish parents hoping to gain popularity with their children, these games prove something about this world. It’s not a point that people are stupid, or that terrorists suck at developing video games. No, the point is that casual gamers support terrorists.

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[OPINION] Bottom 10 Buttons

Kyle,

The top 10 controller buttons feature was the stupidest thing I’ve ever read. But some Russian Warez site linked to accidentally so it got like a billion hits in the last 24 hours. We need to milk this for all its worth. Can you follow up with a bottom ten buttons list, or an 11th to 20th best buttons list, or a 46-56th best buttons lsit or SOMETHING. It doesn’t matter, just turn it in by midnight TONIGHT!

-Nathan

(Pasted to remind me of the assignment. Editor: Please remove)

1. L (SNES): I’ve already been through this in some detail in my discussion of the totally awesome R button (See top 10 buttons, No. 5) but, to recap, the L button breaks the natural, perfect balance between one hand (left) for moving the player and one hand (right) for hitting buttons and such. When the SNES’s L button broke this balance, the controller was forever maimed, never again to attain that perfect balance achieved by the NES controller. The L button has tried to make up for this by doing things like firing guns and scrolling the screen to the left, but nothing can make up for this original sin of controller design. NOTHING! Also, you can’t usually reach it on the N64.

2. L2 (PlayStation): As if one L button wasn’t enough. As far as I’m concerned, the entire L button family can go JUMP OFF A CLIFF!

3. Select (old, crappy systems, Sony systems): There has never, EVER been a game that required the select button. EVER! I mean, you can just use the directional pad to navigate any menus, right? Except on those stupid NES games that MAKE YOU reach WAY OVER with your right thumb to hit the select button to navigate the menus. Nintendo long ago realized the futility of this button, and Microsoft has wisely changed it to a slightly more useful “back” button on its consoles, but this useless, vesitigial button – the appendix of buttons, if you will — still lives on in consoles through the Playstation line. This is why I have been taking part in a lonely, blanket boycott on all Sony products for the last 11 years.

4. 4 (Jaguar): While the entire number pad on the Jaguar seems ill thought-out and uncomfortable, The 4 button is particularly annoying. Why? I’m not sure really, but this is No. 4 on the list, so I thought it’d be cute to put a “4” button here, so it gets singled out. And now I’ve officially written enough to move on the the next entry. Oh wait, not quite. All right… there.

5. Power (PS2): So let me get this straight… if I want to turn off my PS2, I have to reach around to the BACK of the system and flip a hard to find little switch? If I wanted to rearrange my entertainment system every time I wanted to turn something on or off, I would… um… I would do that. But I don’t want to do that. I know you can hold down the reset button on the front of the system for a few seconds to put the system into standby mode, but who has time? I’m a busy man, with cheeseburgers waiting to be eaten! I don’t want to have to bend over for THREE SECONDS just to turn off my freaking PS2.

6. Z (GameCube): Oh how the mighty have fallen. The Z trigger was the proud king of the N64 controller, representing the experience of firing a gun like no button since the trigger on the NES Zapper (see Top Ten Buttons., No. 3). But in one short generation, the button has gone from a proud, central position to a malformed little nubbin completed dwarfed by the humungous R button behind it. It won’t be long before the Z button is out of work, selling pushes for two bucks a pop just to get by.

7. II (Turbo Grafx 16): Roman numerals? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? NEXT!

8. Block (Virtua Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Crappy Arcade Fighters): YOU STUPID GAME I WAS BACKING AWAY YOU FREAKING KNEW I WANTED TO BLOCK DON’T GIVE ME THIS DUMB CRAP ABOUT HAVING TO HIT A WHOLE ‘NOTHER BUTTON JUST TO FREAKIN’ BLOCK YOU FREAKIN’ KNEW WHAT I WAS TRYING TO DO ARGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!

9. L3 (PlayStation 2): Stupid controller designer: Here’s an idea! Let’s put a button on the controller that gets activated when people push in the analog pad! And lets not label it so that EVERY FREAKING GAME has to say “(push in the left analog stick)” every time they say “L3.” And lets make it really easy to accidentally push so you change your target or somethig stupid right in the middle of a big battle. R3 is ok.

10. Triangle (PlayStation) First off, any button that thinks it’s too good for letters and numbers is already on my shit list. But triangle has the audacity to not only be a shape, but also to be incredibly annoying to use when writing out cheat codes (unlike fellow PlayStation buttons X, O and []). Just look at this excerpt from an actual code (http://www.cheatcc.com/psx2/sppsb.html):

Hold R2 + Right and press Triangle, Square, Triangle, Circle, Triangle.

Just think how much disk space (or printers ink, if you enjoy killing trees) we could save if we just called the Triangle button something simple like A. This code alone has 21 wasted characters writing out “triangle” instead of a one-letter button name. That might not seem like much, but it adds up. Those are 21 bytes that are clogging up the internet, helping to slow down your porn downloads. Think about it!

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[OPINION] Top 10 Buttons

Oh crap, it’s summer and there are like no games coming out. But we have to write something or else people will stop visiting our site and go surfing for porn or, worse, IGN. Crap! We need a really easy feature story that we can crank out like RIGHT NOW. Kyle, can you write up some sort of top ten list or something to fill out our features for the month? Something like “top ten controller buttons” but not so stupid. Just make up some stuff… it doesn’t matter what you pick, as long as it fits our word minimum.

I need a drink.

-Nathan

(Pasted here to remind me of the assignment. Editor: cut out the above)

1. Start (NES): Where would we be without the start button? Probably still watching the attract mode in Super Mario Bros., that’s where! Sure, hitting A or X or, um, any other button will often function just as well to start a game, but there’s something about following that “Press Start” instruction to the letter that makes beginning your gameplay experience that much richer. As if that wasn’t enough, the start button lets you pause your game so you can go get a cheeseburger (except in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! where trying to pause makes you do an uppercut when you were JUST ABOUT THE FINALLY BEAT SODA POPINSKI BUT NOW YOU WASTED YOUR STAR AND DAMNIT! GET UP! GET UP DAMNIT! CRAP!)

2. A (NES): Pop quiz: What button has allowed players to jump, fire weapons, um… hit things… um… talk to people… OK, the answer is A. I was going to write about how multifunctional this button is, but man, most of the time it does like one of three or four things. And the one on the GameCube is so big it might as well be the whole controller. GOD! Well, I’ve already written this whole thing out, so I guess I’ll leave it at No. 2.

3. Z (N64): While other buttons have their merits, the Z button beats them all in one key area… resembling a gun trigger (EDIT: The trigger on the zapper actually resembles a trigger better, but who the hell cares? Thanks, Killstopher007!) The Z trigger inspired an entire generation of kids to point their controller at each other and yell “BANG!” and then throw the controller at their siblings like a batarang when they realized pretend violence is much less effective than real violence when you want your sister to just give you a bite of her freaking cheeseburger.

4. R (SNES): Back when I was in elementary school, some friends and I had a club called the “Hyper Nintendo Fan Club” (“HNFC”) (later renamed as the “Hyper Nintendo Fan Club That Hates Matt (Because He’s Dumb)” (“HNFCTHM(BHD)”)). We had lots of fun gathering behind the backstop at lunch discussing the finer points of Zelda strategy and throwing bags of dirt at girls (and Matt, because he’s dumb). We also discussed what would be on our dream controller. The number one feature of our dream controller was a dispenser that spit out cheeseburgers, but number 2 or 3 was “something to do with my right index finger.” I’m convinced that there was a spy working for Nintendo in our group, because the R button was introduced in the SNES and, as your probably know, the cheeseburger dispenser is being planned for the upcoming Wii console.

5. R (Dreamcast): You might be wondering why there are no L buttons on this list, while the R button is thrice represented. Just the fact that you’re asking this question shows your ignorance. There is a natural order to the design of a controller. The left hand is used to move your character (with a directional pad or analog stick), while the right hand is used to hit buttons. It worked for the NES. It worked for the Atari 2600 (if you held it the right way). Things were good. Then the L button came along on the SNES and broke the natural, god-given balance of the controller. Suddenly, players had to used their left hand to hit buttons AND move the player. Controllers were forever changed for the worse. And while the concept of left-handed buttons has brought us benefits like the Z trigger, (see No. 3) the downsides painfully outweigh the upsides of this introduction. Anyway, the Dreamcast R button is on here beause it’s analog.

6. Black (Xbox): Darker-colored buttons have suffered a lot in the past, relegated mainly to the ghetto of the shoulder buttons or the rarely used “select” and “start” just to fit in with their brighter colored neighbors like “A” and “X”. The Xbox’s black button was tired of it! Though it still is relegated to an out-of-the-way corner of the smaller Xbox controller, it isn’t afraid to say “I’m here, I’m black, and I’m PROUD!” While black’s brave example has yet to be taken up by other controller buttons, this button will no doubt be remembered by future generations as the button that broke the controller color barrier for other colored buttons like Chartreuse and Plaid.

7. R2 (PlayStation): Some consider R2 to be a pale shadow of R (or R1), but I feel R2 shines in its own unique way. The “2” in its name, for instance. Plus it fast-forwards on PlayStation 2 DVDs, so you can get through those stupid FBI warnings while R1 skips you all the way to the second scene. (EDIT: I’ve been told you can use the R1 button to skip to the next scene, getting through the FBI warning even faster! Thanks Killstopher007!)

8. Button (Atari 2600): This button is so important it doesn’t even have a name. While future controllers would insist that more than one button was necessary for doing more than one function, the Atari 2600 button knew that any game with more than one function was utter crap! This single, vibrant red button was completely at peace with it’s singular nature, in perfect harmony with its system and its controller. The button is truth. The button is love. The button is the button!

9. Eject (SNES): This button gets a bad rap from people who say it’s easier and quicker to just pull the cartdirge out of an SNES without hitting the eject button. What they don’t know is that the Eject button actually discharges all the built-up electricity that has gathered on the cartridge while you were playing the game, making it safe to remove. Want proof? Read this letter for Electronic Gaming Monthly issue #46 (the one with Street Fighter 2 on the cover. No, the other one. No… the other one. Yeah, that one.)

Like, this one time, my friend Tim, right? He tried to yank out Super Mario Kart without hitting eject, right? Because he wanted to play Final Fight, right? But I told him that if he didn’t hit the eject button he could get hurt and mess up the game and himself (and that Final Fight was stupid and so was he), right? And then he TOTALLY got zapped with, like, a ZILLION volts of electricity ‘cuz we had been playing Mario Kart for 54 hours straight, right? Anyway, just thought you should know.

Moral: use the eject button.

10. Eject (Steel Battalion): Name me another button that has its own protective plastic shield? I rest my case!

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