No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public...

As proven this weekend by Epic Movie's winning 19.2 million opening weekend. Granted, that's not really giant blockbuster status, but the movie couldn't have cost more then 10 million to make and it actually did better than it's horrific predecessor, Date Movie. This virtually guarantees a third film of similar quality next year. Thanks America, you've proven we have a leader worthy of us...

At least Smokin Aces managed to pull in a respectable audience as I saw the film and thought it was very entertaining. It's certainly far from original and throw in a few too many twists just for the sake of twists, but it's slickly edited, with great action and strong performances by just about everybody.

And one other film I was able to catch this weekend was the documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated. It pretty much confirms what every cynical cinephile has suspected-That the MPAA is a complete joke and needs to be reigned in badly. This is extreme censorship plain and simple and they should be held accountable for it.

I forgot to mention that buying Link to the Past earlier this week forced me to break down and buy a Classic Controller in order to play it. I honestly always thought of the classic controllers as unnecessary when GC controllers are supposed to work just as well, but I obviously forgot to take into account Nintendo's generally great design. Aside from having to be attached to your Wii Remote, It works and feels better than most standard controllers. I wish it could work on my GC games as well. And as a reminder for you VC nuts, the legendary classic Mario Kart 64 will be available tomorrow. Buying this means I'll actually own 3 versions of Mario Kart. I plan on adding any more that become available as well.

Is it the apocalypse? No, but it might well be with the launch of Windows Vista on Tuesday. Usually, I couldn't give a crap about new applications, even ones as ginormously important as the long overdue Windows update. But this one has some pretty cool features that gamers will actually care about (assuming it doesn't cripple your computer the minute its installed). Namely, being able to wirelessly access your computer from your 360 so you can save and load files from there along with being able to stream music and movies from your PC wirelessly. It also marks the coming battle between PC & 360 gamers, as they will be able to game together on certain titles (with the new Shadowrun game being the premiere title). It may be the start of a scary new era for the MS faithful...

Looking to own every NES game ever made? This guy is selling all 670 of them. The current bid is over $12,000 and growing. Not that I had nearly that many, but I had quite a few NES games when I finally gave the system away to charity. I feel really fucking stupid for doing that now...

Free Game of the Week: Prince of War


The Big Hit

I'm just not sure what to think of this weekend's biggest opener, Smoking Aces. The trailer and premise seem awesome, with a really well-rounded cast, but the reviews so far aren't very strong. But it seems like easily the best bet out of a incredibly painful-looking weekend...

Starting with the guaranteed crap fest that is Epic Movie. I'm almost tempted to suffer through it just to see if it could actually be worse than Date Movie (which in case you are lacking detective skills equal to that of Inspector Gadget, was made by the same team). But not really...

And finally for the romantic crowd, we have our first of many banal romantic comedies on tap in Catch & Release. It may fool a few guys with it having Kevin Smith's first major role where he actually talks at length in a movie, but the mere fact that in every single add all they do is advertise the name and don't let us actually know a single thing about the movie tells you just how bad it is.

Finally, where the hell is Worms? I and just about every Xbox gamer I know have been waiting for this live arcade title for weeks, and it was virtually guaranteed to be in our hands by the end of this month, but it doesn't look like that's happening. Apparently, blame it on the approval process. I'm all for fine tuning, but according to the very article I linked, this game has been done for at least a couple of months now. It better not suck after all this "adjusting"....

Stand up of the Week: PABLO FRANCISCO

The Virtual Console is finally getting good....

Ok, we all know it had a rather weak start, but with the release of the classic Legend of Zelda: The Link to the Past this week and the confirmed release of the legendary Mario Kart 64 next week, The VC is really starting to hold its own for quality releases. NOW WHERE THE HELL IS KID ICARUS????

I tried the much-anticipated Crackdown demo yesterday and I was far from impressed. The game is essentially like GTA if you removed all the depth. Literally all you do is shoot gangbangers. You get stronger and can do interesting stuff like lift vans with bad guys and throw them off cliffs as well as leap tall buildings in a single bound, but the aiming sucks, you have one hand-to-hand move (a super spin kick of doom!) and that's it. I know a lot of people are willing to put up with a crap game for a surefire entry into the Halo 3 beta, but I'm not wasting my hard-earned $60 on this sub-par crap.

Much more pleasant was the Rogue Galaxy demo I was able to try out today by pre-ordering. This is from the geniuses at Level-5 who also made the tremendous Dark Cloud 2 & Dragon Quest VIII. It has a great look and I really like the flow of the real-time combat. This will probably be the last great rpg on the PS2, so everybody should pick it up.

Games radar has published a list of the top 7 game franchises that have been run into the ground. I'm honestly a little disappointed because it's an obvious and safe list that no one in their right mind would argue with. I mean c'mon, Tomb Raider & Dynasty Warriors weren't even good to begin with...

For you Firefox game nerds, a new Mario 3 theme is available, I'm using it now, and it's beyond awesome.

And finally for a bit of nerdy fanboy awesomeness: RYU vs. SCORPION-WHO YA GOT?!?


5 TV musicals that don't suck

Ah, the dreaded musical episode. Many-long running shows have tried it, and with a few exceptions, they've failed quite miserably. Take last Thursday's musical Scrubs episode, aside from a couple of key songs (namely Dr. Cox's Musical Rant & Guy Love), I felt it fell way short of the usual high quality you see in a Scrubs episode. But not every musical episode needs to be a disaster, as here's 5 that actually work (with clips!):

Oz: Variety

Arguably the hardest setting to pull of an even halfway decent musical epsiode. Oz was pretty much known for being a serious, violent & harsh show. So this is the last place you'd expect a musical. I'd honestly expect one sooner out of 24 or Deadwood than Oz. Which makes the fact that it's actually good all the more surprising.

Chicago Hope: Brain Salad

Screw ER. Chicago hope was a much better show day in & day out. And a lot of that has to do with Mandy Patinkin (you can tell cause the show was almost cancelled when he left briefly). This has all the basic elements of a strong musical episode. It has strong character development, good acting, and good singing (even if the songs included weren't originals written for the episode).

Xena: Bitter Suite

Before Xena became a ridiculously campy show with ridiculously unsubtle lesbian overtones, it was a ridiculously campy show with slightly unsubtle lesbian undertones. Nevertheless, it's rather goofy format make it perfect for a musical, as this was the first of two actually pretty good episodes. It manages to be weird, play with the audiences expectations, satisfying finish off a long arc, and balance comedy & drama pretty well (and the effort didn't go unnoticed with 2 emmy nominations). Looking back it was fairly obvious the show could only go downhill after this, and boy did it ever...

Xena: Lyre, Lyre

But even in a downhill slope an occasional gem shows up in this much lighter 100th episode. This breaks a lot of the rules I have about really good musicals as the plot& characters don't develop, and it's essentially a completely stand alone episode apart from any storylines. And if you are going to do that, you'd better be extremely entertaining, which luckily Lyre Lyre happens to be.

Buffy: Once More with Feeling (all the songs!)

Easily the penultimate musical. It develops characters & storylines. Has fantastic singing by the actual cast members & great original songs, and manages to deftly blend comedy & drama masterfully. It should've been nominated for an emmy. Oh wait, it actually was supposed to be...

All right that's the list. I'll be back tomorrow with thoughts on the Crackdown demo and several other things. After all this musical stuff, I feel the need to do something a little more manly, like chainsaw someone in Gears of War....


I got lots of nothing....

Ok, not entirely true, But this was a rather dull week, most of which I was sick of, so hence the extreme lack of posting. There's not even anything to really talk about today, but I got a few noteworthy links to check out(I'll be back Tuesday with thoughts on several things like the long awaited Crackdown demo):

Mass Effect Interview-God I cannot wait for this game. Hopefully, they really deliver on a deeper experience than Jade Empire, which was good, but really just KOTOR in Japan.

What is the Wii missing (ok aside from online multi-player)? PORTABILITY. I present to you, THE Wii LAPTOP:

And finally, to prep you for Monday's pure awesomeness of 24, THE 100 BEST MOMENTS OF 24

Stand Up of the Week: Dane Cook

Free Game of the Week: Islander Boys


Burning Crusade? Don't they make a cream for that?

The WOW community is preparing for what will arguably be the biggest PC release this year: Warcraft: The Burning Crusade. It's almost sort of a good thing I still have a long list of games to plow through or this would be an extremely tempting way to fill my gaming void. But while a whole new land and things like flying mounts are pretty cool, it still doesn't solve a lot of lingering issues as to why I quit in the first place (the near impossibility of getting a group together for a long raid, the worst travel system in gaming, etc.). Oh well, there's always the next 50 expansions....

Of course those looking to actually socialize with their games will definitely want to pick up Wario Ware: Smooth Moves for the Wii. It's what I like to call a great equalizer, because no matter who you are, everyone looks ridiculous playing this game, and that really is part of the fun. I played it at the Nintendo Fusion Tour back in October and it's a complete blast for anyone who isn't afraid of looking a little foolish. The only thing I think it could obviously use is an online mode, but maybe that will be on the way once Nintendo finally gets online gaming going.

Finally, aspiring lawyers who don't want to deal with all that fancy legal knowledge can just go pick up Phoenix Wright: Justice For All, the sequel to the sleeper hit on the DS. I missed out on the first Phoenix Wright game, but I admit I might wait til the inevitable Wii version before getting into this as it just seems a little on the short side and hopefully a full blown console version would feature a lot more cases (possibly with additional downloadable ones in the future).


The Jack Bower Power Hour

So after finishing my blog update Thursday, I finally finished off Twilight Princess. It's a grand 50-hour epic that no gamer should miss out on. You'd think that I might have nothing left to play, but thanks to my buying frenzy over the last several months and my rather lethargic progress I still have a large backlog and plenty of titles that I want to pick up as soon as they are out not far in the future (namely Rogue Galaxy), so back into the grindstone I go.

Of course aside from several weekend playoff games (GO CHARGERS), there's plenty to distract, namely the long awaited premiere of 24. Now, if you are the least bit internet savvy, odds are you at least had the opportunity to download and watch the 4-hour 2 part premiere already like I have, and I can say that it's easily 4 of the best hours of TV I have seen in my lifetime. This also at least seems to be a more straightforward terrorist plot than last year's rather muddled conspiracy storyline, so that should help keep the action moving. It's amazing how the writers usually manage to top every opening, let's hope this time they can keep up the pace all season long. Of course the real challenge will be people choosing between 24 and the new smash Heroes, which returns the following Monday.

That's really all I got for today, but several big games are coming out next week, so I'll be sure to address those tommorow. Until then, to prepare for the premiere, THE BEST MOMENTS OF 24:


JT goes ghetto

That's right people, though not his first acting role by a long shot, Justin Timberlake's big screen debut where he plays a flunkie for a drug dealer, Alpha Dog opens this weekend. Suprisingly, most reviews of Timberlake's perfomance are solid, but it's with the agreement that it's a strong performance in a bad movie. So hopefully maybe he'll be able to shine in a much better movie.

As that's the only big movie worth talking about this weekend, I thought I'd move on to one of the first big releases of the year-Lost Planet for the 360. Problem is, it's still in the shadow of the runaway success of Gears of War. It's also got a somewhat similar theme, as you are mere humans going up against giant insect-like monsters, albeit on another world. I played the multi-player demo and it was underwhelming. Good thing I have plenty of backup games to work on until Mass Effect surfaces...



No such thing as a free lunch...

Luckily the same thing doesn't apply to downloads, as in a rare showing of generosity, Gears of War owners get two free maps tomorrow to download for nothing. Named Raven Down & Old Bones, hopefully they will extend the life of the multi-player, at least til the Halo 3 beta is in full swing and us 360 owners are playing nothing else.

Sony is caught lying once again. In a press release, they claim that their "innovative" Sixaxis controller for the PS3 has won an emmy. Certianly seemed odd that Sony of all people would win an emmy for innovation. Turns out they are, but not for the Sixaxis, it's for the dual analog controller for the PS2, which shares the emmy with Nintnedo's original controller for it's influential D-pad design. Nice try Sony, but you might want to account for the fact that nobody takes anything you say at face value anymore before you keep trying to lie. Well at least they are smart enough to just not comment on the fact that they missed their worldwide sales goals by over half a million...

That's really all I have news-wise for today, but I also have a brand new feature to talk about. I was wanting to do some kind of weekly clip deal to replace the weekly Scrubs clips I was doing, and I came up with the idea of stand up comedy. Some will be short bits and some will be full-length depending on what I can get my hands on, but we'll start off with one of my personal favorites: STEPHEN LYNCH


Microsoft's secret weapon

Odds are MS may have to come up with something big to retain their lead in the console wars. Halo 3 and big titles like it (along with a heavily rumored new 360 with some new bells and whistles) will certainly help, but potentially, they already have their biggest weapon if marketed properly, and all because Nintendo and Sony have chosen to ignore this rather lucrative idea for some insane reason. What am I referring to? Look at my gamercard. See that little number that has been ever so slowly going up since I got my 360? For those not in the know, that's referred to as a "gamerscore". Every 360 title has "achievements" which are worth varying amounts of points. Some are fairly easy, such as completing a level of a game on any difficulty, and others are truly hardcore, like getting 10,000 kills online in Gears of War. What are these points good towards, you ask? Absolutely nothing relevant. But then why do they matter? Simply put, they are gamer cred. Despite the different approaches by the three companies, each seems to agree that gaming is becoming more and more of a community thing, and what better way to let other players know exactly what type of gamer you are than a number that represents your level of achievement.

The more casual may scoff at this, after all, it's just a game, but the real gamer crowd relishes this kind of stuff and as someone who is definitely a little more laid back about this than your average hardcore nerd, it's incredibly addicting and infectious. I don't beat hidden bosses, I don't spend 50 extra hours to get the "best" ending, but I feel one hell of a buzz when I see that "achievement unlocked" symbol flash across my screen, and I miss it not ever showing up when I'm playing my other systems. It makes me want to if not get as many achievements in one game as possible, at least rent every possible game in order to rack that score up.

The thing is, this is not something Microsoft has actually made that big of a deal out of, and I think that's a huge mistake. This is one thing they can truly claim as their own, something at this point only an owner of the 360 can proudly proclaim, and aside from babble from internet geeks, you don't really hear anything about it. If Microsoft really stepped up and made gamerscore and achievements a major part of their marketing, that could easily be the edge they need to stay on top. I mean after all, people usually brag about how good they are at certain games, what better way to prove it than simply point at your gamerscore?



The new year's resolutions for the big 3

Ok, I realize it's a tad late to be doing a post about resolutions, but what the hey, we're only a few days into the new year here, so let's look at what the big 3 in gaming should resolve to accomplish in order to improve their situation, good or bad.


1.Get the hang of that wacky online deal. Seriously, you offer internet browsing, downloadable games, and up to date weather, but I can't play any multi-player anything against my friends? That's seriously lame, fix it and fix it soon. If Super Smash Melee has no online, look for people to start abandoning the Wii in droves.

2. Fixing the Virtual console-There are three major problems with the VC-First, the selection is mostly crap. I understand you don't want to release all the good stuff at once, but one truly classic title a week would be a great idea (hint, Urban Champion & Baseball, both released this past Monday, DO NOT QUALIFY). Second, leaving all these games "untouched" is just stupid. Virtually every single game can be enhanced to include simple things like leaderboards on online multi-player. Leave those classic graphics alone, sure, but there's no reason no to upgrade the games a bit. Finally, there is also no reason Nintendo shouldn't offer a quick playable demo of every VC game, much like MS does for all their Live Arcade titles. Just a couple of quick levels so we can see if we'll like these games.

3. Unleash the real power of the Wii. It's a well established fact that the Wii is maybe about as powerful as an Xbox, so I'm not expecting anything on the level of Gears of War, but most of these games could easily be pulled off on a Dreamcast, let alone maxing out the graphical power of the Wii. I'd be very happy with games that looked as stunning as Resident Evil 4 or Halo 2, but I'm not seeing anything close to that level in this line-up or in the near future. The PS2 was easily the least powerful console last time around, but it's still pulling out stunning titles now like Okami & FFXII. The fact that the Wii should be able to pull out something better-looking and hasn't just screams laziness on the developers part.

4. Quality & Quantity. Gamecube had some great games. Too bad they were nearly all from Nintendo and only amounted to a few select titles every year. I'd like to say the outlook is more rosy for the Wii, but the next 6 months are looking incredibly slim in terms of enticing titles. Nintendo & their 3rd party support need to deliver plenty of games and make sure most of them don't suck (i.e. do not just port over something without adjusting it for the Wii's controls or you get crap like Splinter Cell, which is great on every system but the Wii).


1. Broaden our horizons. You want to play shooters or sports games? 360 is the place to be. You want anything else? Try another console. I know there are a couple of unique gems like Viva Pinata & Oblivion (which won't be all that unique when the PS3 version is out anyways), but the 360 is severely lacking in variety. And they wonder why they fell short of the 10 million they swore they'd reach by the end of this year. I'm not saying they need to appeal to the broadest audience like Nintendo is trying to do, but more than two rpgs in a year (especially when one is the rather mediocre Enchanted Arms) would be nice, and you can't have Live Arcade delivering most of your original content, that'll really make people wonder why they paid $400 for a machine where most of the original stuff is made by two guys in a garage and can be pulled off on a 16-bit system.

2. Quality Control of Arcade. Maybe I'm just picky, but I've demo'd just about every single live arcade title and I don't think a single one is worth purchasing so far. There are a couple I'm extremely excited about (like Worms & Castle Crashers), but the fact that the current offering is so underwhelming is troubling. I have trouble justifying paying for arcade classics I can usually find on flash websites for free these days. And the original offerings aren't too inspiring to say the least. I mean, most of the free games I post at this website are far superior to anything offered on live arcade. Not only that, but the 360 has been out over a year, and Nintendo's Virtual Console has already surpassed them in sheer number of titles in just a couple of months, which is fairly embarrassing, quite frankly. Though it wouldn't be if some of the titles were actually good.


1. Truthiness. Bottom line, either get better at lying or stop bullshitting us. We've had more than enough of your racist ads, fake blogs, and blatant lies about what your console is actually capable of. The big three all lie, Sony just seems to be the worst by a long shot and also the worst at covering it up. Bottom line, you promised gamers the world and basically delivered on nothing, and it's biting you in the ass big time. Man up, admit your mistakes and try to move on before it kills you completely.

2. A price gamers are willing to pay. Surprisingly, I'm not talking about lowering the cost of the console, I don't think that's even that much of an issue if handled correctly, and the way to do that is to really show what this supposed uber-powerhouse can do. We've seen glimpses of it in upcoming games like Lair & White Knight Story but we need to see something concrete, and soon, or Sony will never regain any ground here. Stop focusing so much on Blu-ray. The whole format war is confusing and off-putting to most consumers, so don't bring it up and focus on the games and other features. People will pay pretty much whatever you want if they think it's worth the asking price, so make the PS3 worth our while.

3. Get the hang of that wacky online deal. It's amazing to me that Microsoft seems to be the only one with a solid online plan here. But at least we know Nintendo is trying this time around. We don't even really know what Sony's plan is for online. Sure, they have online play for a few games and have released some downloadable games, but how are they going to differentiate themselves here? Nobody seems to know, and everybody seems to more or less be flying blind on this one, which is exactly what happened with PS2 online and why it never caught on. Sony needs to come up with some sort of universal system for this. If they offer free yet incredibly messy internet play, nobody's going to go for it. And if all they are offering is just a weak copy of what everyone else is offering, no one will go for that either. Sony badly needs to establish a unique online plan if they really want to stand a chance against 360's massively slick Live.

And that's what the new year's resolutions of the big 3 should be. Since there isn't anything even remotely noteworthy opening up this weekend, I probably won't post tomorrow, but almost certainly sometime this weekend, until then, enjoy the BEST FANVID EVER: COLLEGE SAGA!!!!