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Posts Tagged ‘Video Games’

Pre-Game of the Year: The Conclusion

There were a lot of awesome games released in 2010.  Five in particular really piqued my interest throughout the year however, and I spent the last month playing the games that came before them.  To review, my favorites of the past year were as follows:  Mass Effect 2, Heavy Rain, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Red Dead Redemption and God of War III.  Now, the time has come for me to nit pick my way to deciding which among them was my favorite of the year.  Hit the jump to join me on this grand journey through last years best.

Mass Effect 2 took an already expansive universe and made it even bigger.  The world that was introduced to us in the original became even more fleshed out as we got to explore new worlds and meet some of the best characters in recent fiction.  Mordin Solus, one of my personal favorites, was a fascinating and fun character.  His part in the genophage makes him especially interesting and flawed and that being said, he is a fast-talking scientist who kicks ass and lights dudes on fire, which only adds to how much fun it was to keep him around.  The decision to streamline the combat and RPG aspects, while controversial for some, really helped to focus attention on the best aspects of the game.  It also helps that the game was just downright fun and I could barely be pried from the TV while playing.

Heavy Rain is one of those rare games that makes you feel like you’re really experiencing something important.  There was and still isn’t anything quite like it.  It was extremely easy to lose myself while playing.  Combine all of that with a dark and moody story that can and will change based on what decisions you make and you’ve got one of the best games of this year.  Having talked to several people who have also played this game, I have not only never found someone who got the exact same ending as me, but I haven’t heard the same one from any of them as well.  It really speaks to how well it was done, that one person looked at me with a perplexed look on his face and, with all seriousness, asked me if there were actually multiple endings.  Move support has since added another reason for me to return to experience it once again.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn might seem like a simple and short romp through a world made of various fabrics.  While, technically, this is not too far from the truth, it was the feeling this game gave me which led me to adding it to this list.  Not in quite a while have I gotten the feeling of pure relaxation from playing a game than with Kirby’s Epic Yarn.  The gameplay is fun, well-designed and the art style makes you forget the system you’re playing is currently hooked up with a composite video cable.  The soundtrack is also brilliantly executed, matching the feeling of and look of each level perfectly.  A product of a lot of well-made decisions, this was the best way Nintendo could have possibly brought our favorite pink puffball back into the limelight with his own game.

Red Dead Redemption was a game that combined the winning formula of the Grand Theft Auto series and the old west.  As it turned out, these two things combined turned out, for me, to be even better than I could have imagined.  I enjoyed every second of this game, from my rides through the desert to my interactions with all of crazy folks that inhabit the world.  In addition, John Marston, in my opinion, is one of the most likable fictional characters ever.  Always down-trodden, he maintains such a positive attitude about everything while still being a ruthless badass.  In most open-world games, GTA included, I feel overwhelmed by all of the stuff that you can do throughout the world.  Red Dead Redemption did an excellent job of spacing out all of the extra stuff so that I was still doing it, but didn’t feel overwhelmed by it at all.  Even with all of the different gameplay mechanics built into the game, nothing feels overused, but if you really love doing any one particular thing, there’s always a way to seek it out.

God of War III certainly did not break the mold, which is a good thing, because that is one awesome freaking mold.  What this series has been about going through, is continuing to ramp it up until you there is no room left to ramp and the third iteration went there and beyond.  The level of scope that the hardware of the Playstation 3 was able to add to the series made it all the more impressive.  Action-packed doesn’t even come close to describing the pulse-pounding pace of the game.  Also, there’s nothing quite like God of War to bring out maniacal in you.  One of the few games that can actually make me giggle as I take down what almost always seems like an unfair opponent.  Don’t piss off Kratos!  You will regret it.

I think the thing I’m trying to convey here is that I love the crap out of all five of these games.  Each of them has been an incredibly fun experience that made my downtime during 2010 all the more enjoyable.  There is one among them however, that just barely squeaked by the others.  While it was an incredibly close race, my personal favorite for this past year was Red Dead Redemption.  There was not one single aspect of the game that put me off.  The story, the characters, the setting, the gameplay, all of it was a profoundly enjoyable experience.  Even my first confusing and terrifying first encounter with a cougar was still awesome.  I’d take John Marston over Niko Bellic any day!

Thanks for sticking with me and listening to my humble opinion!  Now to kick back and stay glued to my calendar as I wait for Dead Space 2 later this month.  Mmmm, necromorph-licious…

DC Universe Online Beta Ending With Epic Battles

The DC Universe Online beta ends tonight, but participants are getting more than just a “Thanks for testing. See ya in final release.” as well as server and character wipes. Before the release of one of the most anticipated mmorpg’s on January 11, Sony is sending the beta testers off with epic battles galore. Players […]

Blizzard’s Next MMORPG Rumored To Be Titan(-ic)

Rumors have been circulating around the internet about Blizzard’s new project call “Titan”, which is their follow-up to World of Warcraft. “It’s our next gen MMO and we’ve only started talking about it in a limited fashion because we want to leverage the fact that we’re working on something like that for the purpose of […]

It Has The Moves, But "Jam" Lacks The Groove

NBA Jam is one of my fondest memories of childhood. I sunk so many quarters into that machine that I swear I could’ve used that money to buy my own arcade cabinet. Of course when it finally was made for a home console I wasted no time buying it and playing the living hell out of my Sega Genesis. The flaming hoops, Tim Kitzrow shouting “Boomshakalaka!” when you dunk it, Big Head Mode, playing as then-President Clinton, it was — at the time — the best sports video game title at the time. Seventeen years and a few mediocre knockoffs later EA brought NBA Jam back to its glorious roots, revamping everything that made the original a classic; so why doesn’t it impress me as it once did?

NBA Jam features the original 2-on-2 baller with the current NBA Roster, along with hidden legends like Kevin McHale, Scottie Pippen and David Robinson to pass, push and slam through the quarters, with the original Jam commentator Kitzrow spouting his trademark phrases. Along with the classic mode players have the ability to battle it out in Remix Tour mode, where the hoop masters can face off in games of 21, Power-Up mode and (my personal favorite) Smash, where the first team to break their backboard wins. The more Jam Challenges you complete throughout the game the more items you unlock, which can range from special basketballs to secret characters like Dr. J, President Obama and the Democrats and the Beastie Boys.

Players have the option to control the game using the Wiimote, the Wiimote/Nunchuk combo and the Classic Controller. When playing with just the Wiimote or the Classic Controller the original feel of NBA Jam is right at your fingertips, and is still as easy as ever. The Wiimote/Nunchuk combo adds an extra challenge to the Jam experience, where you will have to flick the Wiimote at the precise moment to get the ball in, unlike the Classic Controller mode where you have to simply press a button at the right time. While adding a sort of realism to the game using the Wiimote/Nunchuk combination can be a tad frustrating, with the chances of missing or having the ball snatched away rising up more often than not. Having said that the realistic free throw movement makes the combo peripherals the must-play version of the controls.

The graphics in NBA Jam are far smoother than its original counterpart, thanks to its Flash-like appearance. While lacking in the realism department (which is the point) the graphics showcase the true cartoonish aspects of the game. These aspects showoff best in Power-Up modes, with players grabbing these abilities becoming either super strong, very elastic or quite tiny. Watching the ball and rim catch on fire after three consecutive baskets is also a thrill to watch. They also put in some nice details in the background, including the specific coaches to each team. (Shame we can’t unlock them and have ’em battle it out on the court.) The hip hop soundtrack also adds to the nostalgia of the game, not to mention the commentary from Kitzrow. Granted some of the lines in the game fall flat, but other quotes are very classic. After all it wouldn’t be NBA Jam without a few “It must be the shoes!” or “He’s on fire!” phrases.

The Wii version of NBA Jam is nothing short of completing what it was meant to do: reinvent the classic game for a brand-new generation. Everything that made the original NBA Jam a classic is still intact in this redo, and that, my friends, is one of the big problems of this game. Because of the evolution of games since the first NBA Jam was released the moves and fiery hoops aren’t as impressive as they once were. If they evolved the Jam experience the same way that, say, the world of Madden NFL Football had been we would’ve had a true successor to the NBA Jam name. Unfortunately what we were given was just the original game with updated rosters and a gloss of better graphics, not to mention no online mode for battling it out with people across the country.


  • Classic Jam modes, cool unlockables
  • Remix Tour has some fun moments
  • Kitzrow’s commentary is as refreshing as ever


  • Doesn’t add anything stellar to the franchise
  • 21 mode can be a bit frustrating
  • Online mode would’ve been nice


The new NBA Jam restores everything that made the classic game good again, but unfortunately leaves little for surprises. The game still is as fun as I can remember, but it’s not as fantastic as it once was. It’s definitely a great title to play with friends, but as a solo game it doesn’t leave a whole lot to jump for joy for. In short: NBA Jam is one “ka” short of a true “Boomshakalaka!”

FINAL GRADE: 7.2 (out of ten)

Episode 228: I’m Not…That…Dirty

Tuesday, it’s not Monday, but it’s almost as good… especially when there is a new episode of the ESH podcast! In this one, the ladies share what Santa brought them for Christmas and what they wish they had gotten, but didn’t.

Was Santa a bro or a ho?

You’ll have to listen to the episode and find out, but beware… there be tangents here! Check out ESH Podcast Episode 228: I’m Not…That…Dirty!

"Frobot" Gets Down With His Bad Self!

One of the highlights of this past year’s PAX East was trying out the still-in development Frobot from Fugazo (a company more known for its online titles). Its blend of Wii Tanks and classic Zelda (two titles that the game’s creators took heavy inspiration from) made it one downloadable title that Wii owners should’ve put on their must-own list. At the time there were still a couple kinks noticeable in Frobot (not reading the Wiimote in some places, aiming a bit difficult), but after playing the full version of the game it’s easy to say that they not just fixed the kinks but also made Frobot one of the year’s best WiiWare titles.

With a premise right out of a blaxploitation film the game follows the smack-talking title character as he rescues his robotic girlfriends (or “ho-bots,” as I called them) and take down the evil Botblocker Corporation, using any means necessary to “choke a bot.” Players also use Frobot’s special moves to solve puzzles, shoot up evil robots and maneuver through the levels to safety. Some puzzles will be fairly easy, whereas others will require some Black Dynamite-inspired sleuthing. You can even have the afro-sporting android do a little dance just for the hell of it, which proves to be entertaining thanks to the proper disco funk music playing in the background.

In the beginning you start out with all your weapons, ranging from a simple blaster to exploding disco balls, but once your girls get kidnapped you lose everything except the energy blast and remote mine. At first it would seem that you’ll be walking on a difficult path to begin with, but fortunately the levels are catered to what you currently have on your person (or robot, if you wanted to get technical). What’s also good is that while there are many challenges to take into in each level, the tasks never reach the feeling of frustration; in fact once you take the time to defeat all the evil bots on the screen it gives your brain the proper focus needed to solve the puzzles quicker. Each level ends when you charge up the warp pad, which could use between one and three power-ups to initiate it.

Frobot is split into four worlds with five levels each, all of them ending with a boss battle. I had issue with the boss battles as I found them to be too easy. While there’s a slice of challenge in them once you figure out secret behind how to defeat the vile jive turkey it no longer showcases a true test of brains and hand-eye coordination. Of course the final final boss battle is a worthy challenge, and might take a while to figure out how to fully beat the game.

Controlling Frobot throughout the levels is fairly easy, and once you regain the Robo Hustle (a quick speed boost) you’ll be able to roll past enemies with little worry. Aiming and shooting your weapons is also simple to figure out, although there may be times where you’ll accidentally press the A-button and accidentally blow yourself up with a rocket when you really wanted to use a regular energy blast to deal some pain on your villains. Switching weapons, too, is easy as 1-2-3, as you use the D-pad to choose whether you want to use your Dynomine or the disco-balled Jive Stalker.

For a first-time title for Fugazo Frobot looks pretty good. Granted it’s not the sexiest-looking WiiWare title to date, but for the most part its cartoonish yet groovy graphics fit well with the world of this boogie bot. Props also must be given to its story writers, which featured some of the funniest lines you’ll read all year. (Shame there’s no voice acting, as I could easily picture Michael Jai White playing the title character.) The funky music also works, but at times can be a little repetitive.

The regular story mode may take you about four hours to defeat, but its multiplayer mode will add a few more hours of fun gameplay with friends; where you will battle it out with up to three others to see who is the last bot standing. If you don’t have many Wii loving friends then you might feel shafted by the short story mode, but if you do then you’ll feel the gaming love that is coming off of this game. There’s also fun in going back to the past levels and trying to beat your previous times, as well as looking for hidden items and afro power picks. In short: Frobot brings a good funk to the Wii console.


  • Challenging, frustration-free puzzles
  • Simple control scheme
  • Funny dialogue, clever writing


  • Story mode is kinda short
  • Boss battles are too easy
  • Music gets old quickly


With the world of WiiWare suffering something of a dry spell it’s good to finally see a game like Frobot make its way to the console. It’s fun, easy and filled with plenty of good laughs, and while it may be a bit too short for its own good Frobot has proven itself worthy of being considered this year’s best downloadable title on the Wii. So what are you waiting for? Shake your mammer-jammer and groove out with the baddest robot since the Kwanzaa-bot made his debut on Futurama.

FINAL GRADE: 8.4 (out of 10)

Pre-Game of the Year: Part 5

Most games share quite a bit in common with the one that came before it and we’ve seen quite a bit of that with all the other titles in the Pre-Game of the Year line.  Oddly, with Red Dead Revolver, it and Red Dead Redemption actually have very little in common, aside from the obvious similarity in setting.  So, where did one of my personal favorite games of this year come from and why is it so wacky?

Red Dead Revolver, a wild-west-based action title by the fine folks over at Rockstar San Diego, was originally being developed by Capcom.  When Rockstar got their hands on it, they decided to redirect it in a more spaghetti-western style.  If you’ve ever seen any of the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns, then you’ll understand the tone they wanted.  A little cheesy, with a silent and deadly hero that just happens to be good with a sidearm and out for revenge.  They even got lots of the music from said movies to play during the various gun battles that occur.  All that being said, they absolutely nailed the tone they were going for in this game.  The characters are absolutely nuts and they even apply a nice film grain to ensure it looking like you’re watching Clint Eastwood gunning some guys down.

There are some gameplay features that got carried over from this game into Red Dead Redemption.  The dead-eye and dueling modes are quite similar in this game.  What sets this game back, is the lack of variety in what you can do.  The entire game consists of going around and shooting people.  They also tend to soak up quite a few bullets by the end of the game.  It’s just a little weird when I blast someone in the face with a repeater rifle at point blank and it makes their health bar decrease by a millimeter.  Levels typically progress as follows: walk down a short road, kill a bunch of bad guys, big bad guy emerges and kill big bad guy.  While you spend the majority of the game as protagonist Red, they do offer several instances where you can branch out and play with a different character.

There is also a multiplayer mode called showdown mode, where people can shoot at each other in various locations from the game.  With the way the game works, this really just comes down to who pulled the trigger first.  The level of polish on the character models is quite good as each character has their own distinctive look.

When it comes down to it, this game is not nearly as good as Red Dead Redemption, but it’s not half bad on its own merit.  If you like spaghetti westerns, then it might be worth giving this title a look.  Just don’t expect to be playing anything close to my final pick for game of the year.  So, which one of these games is going to be my favorite for the year?  Check back and find out before the end of the year!

Episode LXXVI: Christmas With The Bastards

King Baby Duck & Anvil bring you the least holiday-filled holiday program ever!

This week two of the main B3 members chat about Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and share their thoughts on the new inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Anvil gives his weekly sports report, and the duo review the demos for Quake Arena Arcade, X-Men Arcade and Lilt Line. Finally Anvil reviews the films Across The Line and American Pie: The Book of Live, and end with a tribute to the late Blake Edwards.

Episode 227: All I Want For Christmas Is A ClipShow!

Hey, hey ESH faithful, you know what today is? That’s right, 5 days til’ NinJa gets gifts!!! Oh, yeah! It’s Monday as well, which means a new ESH podcast episode…

…knew there was something I was forgetting!

In this episode, Evermore grabs together some of the less-lady-like and just drop-dead-funny exchanges between the sistahs that have yet to make it to the light of day. There are even a few blasts from our past with appearances by MagicMystic, Xenocore (from Ultimate Quest) and even Derrick H from Dead Pixel Live makes an appearance.

I could tell you more about it, or I could just let you grab that warm cup of what-ever-the-hell-it-is-people-drink-these-days and enjoy ESH Podcast Episode 227: All I Want For Christmas I a ClipShow!

Jimmy Fallon Goes Into Uncharted Territory

I really have to start watching more television. It’s seems I missed the debut on of  Uncharted 3 on the Jimmy Fallon show last week. OK. So I’ve watched Fallon’s late night show maybe twice, but if I’d know about the Uncharted 3 gameplay showing, I would have watched again. So if you missed it […]