Ready to save Hyrule again?

Cause Ocarina of Time, which many gamers will ardently tell you is TEH GREATEST GAME EVERZ!!! Is now available on the virtual console. Of course the downside here is that odds are you owned or currently own it in some form, but if by some miracle you don't it's worth picking up again and if by some miracle you missed out, it's the best $10 you'll ever spend (though I admit playing a 3D Zelda with anything other than the Wii remote seems awkward after spending about 50 hours on Twilight Princess.

And the virtual console is getting even more awesome by the day as both the horror classic Splatterhouse & the nearly as good as Zelda Genesis classic Beyond Oasis are soon in coming.

And speaking of actually worthwhile downloadable content, XBLA may actually have something worthwhile soon. Out this week is Alien Hominid, which is a promising start after a long lull of nothing and/or crap. But more more intriguing is that the Worms page is up and running. Alien Hominid's was up about a week before it's release, so hopefully we can assume Worm warfare is close at hand.

Even more intriguing is the very solid rumor that TMNT: The Arcade Game is coming just in time for the new TMNT movie. Add in the long overdue Castle Crashers sometime soon and I'll be spending pretty much all my free time on Xbox Live...

So, I promised last time that I'd talk more about Sonic, but I'd rather just link you over to the review I wrote up at GrownupGamers cause I don't feel like repeating myself other than saying while it's not a full return to his glory days, it's Sonic's best game in years and a really solid choice for Wii gamers looking for something new.

Finally, it's another good week for Wii gamers as SSX Blur should be in stores on Wednesday. I'm sort of conflicted, as this is the first EA game in years I am truly excited about, but early word is that this is a simply amazing & incredibly fun title, so I can't wait to try it out.

Free Game of the Week: Dreamcatcher


Demos, Demos everywhere!

And all of them were surprisingly entertaining. When I picked up Sonic on Wednesday (I'll have more on it in my next post, but definitely the best 3D Sonic in years if not to date), I put down a pre-order for what is probably the last really big PS2 title, God of War II. Truth be told, I was a tad worried that the first one was so good they would blow the sequel, but the early reviews and the awesome boss fight in the demo have convinced me that this will definitely let the PS2 go out with a giant bang rather than a whimper like it's last-gen brethren.

It's been awhile since I checked in on the fan project King's Quest IX: The Silver Lining. But everything seems to be going along pretty smoothly since they started up again. They even released a demo, and it definitely has that old school King's Quest feel to it, so I'm really looking forward to the full release later this year.

Finally, the most surprising of all was the demo for the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game, based on the upcoming movie. Usually games like this are certifiable crap, especially since the last good TMNT games were way back in the 16-bit days. Though it would be nice to have a solid 4-player fighter that does the old games justice, this one player action-game seems very promising. I'll definitely be willing to check it out when it ships alongside the release of the movie.

After a bit of a break, it is time to start talking movies again, though this weekend's offerings don't seem all that enticing.

Probably your best bet for a feel-good time is the Astronaut Farmer with Billy Bob Thorton. It seems like a crazy idea that won't gel, but so far reviews are saying that's actually why it works, which has me very intrigued, so I'll probably check it out.

When the previews for The Number 23 first surfaced I was very intrigued, cause I liked Jim Carrey and it's a dark thriller, which is new territory for him. But then reality set in when I realized shlockmeister Joel Schumacher was directing and it would most likely be a coherent mess, which the reviews are definitely agreeing with, even the positive ones. I believe Carrey has a good dark role in him, but like every actor he needs the right director to bring it out, and Schumacher is never the right director for anything. Ever.

Finally what may be the best bet for a good laugh is Reno 911: Miami. I like the show enough to give the movie a chance, but I feel it will ultimately be like most great sketch-comedies and stretched extremely thin for a full-length film, much like Super Troopers before it.

STAND-UP OF THE WEEK: Dennis Leary-Coffee


If Michael Bay made a videogame...

And it's funny cause most critics who don't know squat about videogames often liken Bay's rather shallow efforts to them. But that's essentially what Crackdown is. It's flashy, full of giant explosions, and lacking anything resembling real depth. Even the high-scoring reviews agree with this. And to be quite frank, I'm going to need something with more depth if I'm going to plunk down $60, free Halo 3 beta or not (especially since no one really knows when the beta starts, best guess is late Spring right now).

How long has it been since there's been a good console Sonic game? Most would say the original Dreamcast Sonic Adventure way back in 98'. But to be honest, we were fairly forgiving of this new-fangled 3D stuff back then, and it really has not aged well. There has yet to be a good 3D Sonic. But suddenly there is hope with the release of Sonic and the Secret Rings. I've been hopeful, but realistic. I expect this to be the first solid Sonic game in a long time, but not anywhere near a full-return to the 16-bit, 2D glory days the blue blur had on the Genesis. And so far reviews seem to support that, which will make me a satisfied customer when I pick it up tomorrow.

Finally for PS3 owners there is something to play besides Resistance. Virtua Fighter 5 is out this week. From all reports it's a near-perfect port of a ridiculously deep and gorgeous fighting game. But it's lacking what many would consider crucial in order to buy it-ONLINE PLAY. I do think there's a valid argument for putting too much emphasis on having online play, but fighting games are a genre that screams for it because of their nature of trying to be the best. Hopefully the 360 version will fix this egregious error.

Before sitcoms were all about working-class slobs or young suburbanites, they were mostly about somewhat down-to-earth families, especially in the mid-80s and early 90s. There was a ton of these, and a lot of them were pretty bland (see most of ABC's TGIF Lineup), but I always thought Family Ties stood out among this sub-genre of sitcoms. The first season is out today, and except for the painfully cheesy theme song, it's still very good comedy, I think. So it's definitely a good classic show for you TV fans out there.



What's this about a drought?

Now that the initial launch "WOW" is over, everybody seems to think there is a problem with the Wii. Something about no new games, or not enough games? or not enough original content? Or not slicing your bread while cleaning your room and satisfying your wife all at once? Christ you people are fucking needy.

The system has only been out a mere 4 months. You see the PS3 owners complaining about a lack of software even though Resistance is still the only worthwhile game on the system (and may remain that way with Virtua Fighter 5 not having online play)? What about the 360 right now? Can you really say that Lost Planet & Crackdown (out Tuesday) are the answer to all your gaming ills? Forgetting that the Virtual Console has provided enough classic content to dissuade any drought all by it's lonesome in the last month, two major titles (Wario Ware & Wii Play) came out just in time for those getting done with Zelda & Rayman. And the next two months look incredibly promising as well. Sonic & The Secret Rings is reportedly the best 3D Sonic since the original Dreamcast game over 8 years ago. SSX Blur, the first Snowboarding game even released in in 2 years, and probably the first one that has the potential to be something really new with the Wii controls. Tiger Woods will be out a mere 2 weeks later, finally delivering a fully-fledged real golf game, which we all know the Wii remote is well-suited for. Cooking Mama comes out a week later, which'll be fun for all aspiring chefs or those looking for some fun minigames, along with an exclusive release of The Godfather for those craving something a little more mature and visceral. And that's just the short list for about the next four weeks.

Finally, if for some reason these releases (or most of the ones I skipped over) end up being either cruddy ports with no real effort or rely too much on cheap gimmicks with the Wii's unique setup up, just remember the DS. When the DS first came out, everyone (me included) thought it was the next virtual boy. The initial launch lineup sucked, the first several months were filled with gimmicky uses of the touch screen and crap kiddy games. Everyone thought the PSP would just come along with it's superior power and multimedia capabilities and slaughter it. Now everyone is deservedly calling the PSP a dog and believing Sony should drop it or drastically alter their game plan in order to at least lessen the humongous gap between the two. What happened? Well shitty software on the PSP, for one. But developers learned not only how to effectively utilize the dual screen and touch screen functions of the DS, but that you don't have to even utilize them all that much to make a truly great game. Worst case scenario, this will be the Wii. But assuming the next couple of months really delivers on the software and they keep it up, that won't even be the problem. Drought? Hardly.

Stand Up of the Week: JIM GAFFIGAN



Nintendo is democratic

A new Wii channel was unveiled today. Titled Everybody Votes, it's apparently your chance to influence certain things by voting on polls. You can even post your own poll. Should be interesting if this actually leads up to anything. I think my first poll will be "Should Mario run over hookers?"....

Finally a truly great game for the PSP has arrived in Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters. Too bad it's too little too late. The PSP is being absolutely slaughtered in the portable console wars by the DS, and the gap has only widened since Xmas. Granted, Sony may continue to promote the system out of sheer stubbornness and may even sell enough to justify keeping it in production, but this part of the console war is long over.

Nintendo is really stepping it up with the VC releases, as Kid Icarus, Ice Climbers & Kirby's Adventure all were released on Monday. I downloaded Kid Icarus immediately. My one complaint? Still using passwords is lame. There's no reason I shouldn't be able to just save my progress. Nintendo literally went to the trouble of making up all new passwords, so don't tell me they couldn't have gone a step further and just allow us to save the damn thing.

What is Xbox Live countering with this week? Paperboy. Now granted, this is a certifiable arcade classic, but like most arcade classics, you take away the quater-gobbling (and possibly being drunk) and it has aged pretty badly and is good for no more than a quick nostalgia trip at best.

For those desperately searching for spare Wii controllers, your wish has been granted. Sort of. Wii Play is out this week. It's basically a bunch of mini-games like Wii Sports, with a remote thrown in for 50 bones. Normally not a bad combination, but unlike Wii Sports the general consensus is that these minigames royally suck and the fact that they didn't throw a nunchuck controller into the deal just makes it all the more auspicious a purchase. Really, I'd skip it entirely unless you are completely desperate for extra Wii Remotes.

Finally, stalking someone special for V-Day? What better way to cement that restraining order than with an extremely creepy Nintendo-Themed Valentine!


Everybody at Sony is nuts

I apologize for no Thursday post, but I needed a little break from continually talking about how much weekend releases suck
Just in case you thought Kaz Hirai was alone in his bipolar insanity at Sony, Jack Tretton, SCEA President, has said in a new interview that he would pay $1200 to anyone who can find a PS3 on store shelves. Well of course Tycho and Gabe over at Penny Arcade took him right up on this offer:

Now granted, he's probably as serious about this as Jack Thompson was about donating money to charity, but it's just another in a long line of statements that continue to make Sony as a company look like giant jackasses who deserve utter failure.

But surely, all execs are this overconfident and boastful, right? WRONG! In fact, Nintendo, who should be laughing about how they now pwn our souls for all eternity is surprisingly conservative, emphasizing the need for consistently good software in order to drive sales and how they strive to reach a broader base beyond just the hardcore gamers.

And finally, thank you EA for killing your last truly enjoyable franchise. As ridiculous as the concept is, the Def Jam series has been surprisingly excellent in its first two iterations (I still have Fight for New York for the GC and its great). So while the initial videos did not impress I still anxiously awaited the demo for ICON. I did download it this past Thursday and it sucked worse than Kanye West trying to be humble. What was an edgy out of the box street fight was now a slow (and slow-loading) affair more reminiscent of a derivative Tekken knock-off, but lacking even half the depth of that rather mediocre series. I guess getting my jollies out of beating the crap out of rappers will have to stay last gen forever.

STAND-UP OF THE WEEK: Eddie Murphy: The Ice Cream Man


Hyperbole is ghey

So, just what was Konami's major announcement? That they already announced this "earth-shattering" news on Friday, that being that a DDR game is being made for the Wii and a Catlevania game is being made for PSP. I know PR departments are specifically paid to over-hype shit, but this is beyond ridiculous. This is almost up there with when we found out that Nintendo was basically naming their brand new system after a commonly used nickname for your penis. We expect this kind of bullshit from companies like EA, Sony or Microsoft, but Konami is usually known as one of the better companies that doesn't hype when hype isn't warranted. Hang your head in shame Konami...

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Thankfully if you wanted to perk up your day and you were a Wii owner, you're in luck, as Super Mario World (along with 3 other games no one cares about) was released on the Virtual Console today. Any serious fan of old school gaming needs to pick this up (that is if you don't have any of the fifty or so versions for other Nintendo systems that have been released).

Speaking of the umpteenth version of something, Final Fantasy VI for GBA is easily the biggest release this week. This literally marks at least its 3rd console release, but being able to play this rpg classic on the go might make it worth your while. I'm certainly heavily considering it (after I get through several of my console rpgs first, though).

N-Gage 2.0 is coming! Wait, did anyone even own a N-Gage? If they make it more of a phone that plays mobile games this time, I can see some viability, but this just seems like something that is doomed from the start, especially if it tries to compete in the portable market or even in the MP3 player market which it seems a little more geared towards.

So is Sony planning to do anything to counter Halo 3? Yeah, actually. Supposedly, the controversial Killzone 2 is near completion and at least should have a meaty demo ready slightly before the Halo 3 beta launches. Odds it'll be anything near enough to counter the Halo juggernaut? That'd be slim to none. Even if the game looks remotely close to CGI vid shown over two years ago, the original Killzone wasn't even that good a game, I really don't expect the sequel, regardless of how it looks, to match the superb level of gameplay the Halo series has achieved.

Free Game of the Week: Papa Louie


Biggest announcement EVERZ!!!!!

Well Konami is sure making it sound like one with the teaser they have going on. They are promising several major announcements, and nearly everybody is figuring the big one is going to be the official announcement of Metal Gear Solid 4 for the 360, which would be an enormous blow to Sony as it's one of the games they've showcased as a system exclusive for over a year. While this'll certainly Sony fanboys have heart attacks and MS fanboys jumping for joy, personally, I'm really interested in what the remaining announcements will be. A Castlevania game for the Wii? A whole new IP for next-gen? That they've hired someone to kill Uwe Boll? Anything's possible, so hopefully the announcements will come in the early morning hours as I've got work for a good majority of tomorrow.

Is Jack Thompson finally going down? It's not looking good for our favorite whacked-out crazy lawyer man, as he's facing disciplinary action which may lead ultimately to his disbarment. Much as I'd like to say this is the end of this stupid crusade, Jack is merely a moronic foot soldier in this campaign which has become a ridiculous hot button issue with many high-profile politicians (most notably Hilary Clinton). Isn't there more important shit to worry about? Like oh I dunno, A FUCKING WAR?!?

Moving on, I'm a little over 10 hours into Rogue Galaxy and really enjoying it so far. The combat is fierce and actually challenging and the characters are really well-rounded put so far, with plenty of depth to go around. I highly recommend it for anybody looking for a great action-rpg (even though the whole idea of sky pirates is getting a little tired by now).

That's it for today, but I'll most certainly be back tomorrow with thoughts on whatever Konami announced, whatever the new VC games are, and whetever else pops into my head.

Free Game of the week: Wasteland 2154

The Top 10 actors you don't know

Oh, it's THAT guy. That guy you've probably seen a million shows and maybe even movies, but you can never remember his name. Sure, there are great everyman actors who just melt into their roles like Michael Caine or William H. Macy, but we all know these guys. The guys in this list seem to do such a great job we never even care to know their names. They might be known for a certain character on a long-running show, or being a certain type of character in many shows, but they always do a great job, yet we never remember their names. Well, here's a list of what I think are the cream of the crop of this of great actors and some of their best roles (in no particular order).

Sam Elliot

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Despite having a 30-year career in the industry, Elliott's never really had a breakout role, but he's usually pretty good even when he's in absolute trash (see The Hulk for evidence). Mainly plays cop or cowboy roles, but is starting to show some real range in his later years with a great turn in Thank You for Smoking as a Marlboro Man-type who is suffering from lung cancer. Sadly, his next film, the sure to be laughable Ghost Rider starring Nicholas Cage probably won't raise his stock any, but he'll probably be the only person in the film not embarrassing himself, and that's saying something.

Alan Rickman

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Need an evil/smarmy foreigner? Alan Rickman is your guy, whether he's a German terrorist, a corrupt sheriff in jolly old Sherwood, or a slightly annoyed British actor who thinks he's above some silly role on a failed sci-fi show from many years ago. Granted, Rickman may finally get to be a known by name actor with his on-going role as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films, but he's been doing great work in just about everything for years before being locked up into this blockbuster franchise. He also Of course, still his most famous role to date is as evil bank robber Hans Gruber way back in the original Die Hard. But he's had some phenomenal work since as well in movies like Dogma & Galaxy Quest where he showed a great comedic knack.

Ron Perlman

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Probably the best reason he isn't that recognizable is that in his best known roles, you never see Perlman's face. His first major role was in the very weird short-lived 80s series Beauty & the Beast. Then he was a mainstay of many WB animated shows, namely as Clayface or Slade, which only major hardcore fans of those shows would probably even know. And finally in his biggest role to date, he is Hellboy. No wonder with roles like this it's hard to remember him as a seperate human being. But hey, if you need a guy who is used to spending most of his day in the makeup chair, Ron is definitely your guy.

Andre Braugher

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Sadly, Braugher's lot in life lately seems to be unrealized potential. He's had a good run, to be sure (most notably in Homicide), but he's also been in 4 failed series in the last 7 years (most recently, Thief, which seemed to have a lot of potential). He seems to be just on the cusp of real breakout stardom. It really is just a matter of luck and patience, so I really hope he has both.

Freddy Rodriguez

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Though easily best known as Federico Diaz in Six Feet Under, my personal fovarite role of his (which I hope we see at least one more time) is as Carla's brother Marco on Scrubs, where he really showed off some great comedic talent. Unofrtunately ever since Six Feet Under ended, he seems to be getting roles in fairly crappy films. Maybe that'll change depending on how big his role in Grindhouse is later this year.

David Morse

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I have a kind of weird six degrees connection to Morse, as my Dad was the post-production accountant on Morse's first movie role, Inside Moves.
But moving on, it's real simple: you need a guy who is a giant asshole, but a genuine threat, you call David Morse. I mean seriously, probably the closest thing Morse has played to a good guy in his long career was as a terrorist who wasn't cold-hearted enough to release nerve gas into San Francisco in The Rock. Getting a lot of recognition for a long-running guest spot on House that sadly seems to have to an end (although to be fair, I don't know where else they could go with his character at this point). So hopefully this may be the role that springs him into something where can can become a household name.

Stephen Root

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Though he is recognized today for his pathetic loser/pyromaniac roles in films like Office Space & Dodgeball, for me his best role by a long shot was as nutty billionaire Jimmy James in Newsradio. I could go into long, boring detail, but these clips speak for themselves:

Peter Macnicol

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It's sort of hard to believe that someone could go from a wacky art museum owner to a weird obsessive-compulsive but brilliant lawyer to a dangerous power-hungry adviser to the president, but Peter Macnicol has done all this, and quite flawlessly, I might add. He's able to be wacky, funny, endearing, and a dangerous zealot without missing a beat. He seems to be one of the few villains with actual intelligence on 24, so I hope he doesn't get put down anytime real soon.

Enrico Colantoni

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Probably the one guy on the list with a resume as varied as Macnicol. Colantoni has been a sleazy photographer on Just Shoot Me, a timid alien captain in Galaxy Quest, and of course, most recently, Veronica Mars father. Whether it's comedy or drama, Colantoni seems a natural at whatever role he's in. So much so, that you usually forget what he used to be in. I personally never recognized he did those previous roles I mentioned until I looked as his resume.

Adam Baldwin

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Just for clarification, he has no relation to those other Baldwins, but the fact that there is a whole clan of guys named Baldwin makes it all the harder for Adam to stand out. Whedonverse fans are very familiar with his great work as Hamilton on Angel and most notably as Jayne on Firefly. Like many on this list, Baldwin has a staple he's known for (gruff but cunning soldier/mercernary), but has shown plenty of considerable range an depth in his roles when given the chance. Much like Braugher, he seems to suffer from short-lived shows, like Firefly & Day Break. Hopefully like Braugher he'll have the luck and patience to finally get that big breakout role he deserves.

And that's the list. Hopefully these are all actors you'll start paying more attention to if their names pop up. I'll be back with a regular post after the Superbowl.


Microsoft is making me angry

Mainly because they are seriously slacking off on their Xbox live service recently. Two weeks have passed without a new Xbox live arcade game. Sure, we got a couple of sweet demos like Battlestations: Midway and the brand new Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 demo that was released this week, but live is looking pretty shoddy when Wii gamers get classics like Link to the Past, Contra III, Comix Zone and Mario Kart 64 just in the past two weeks, and MS has countered with virtually nothing. Live Arcade was initially a big reason I was interested in the 360. But so far the original content is pretty uninspired and the classic games are all horribly butchered ports that reek of laziness and incompetence.

So what's coming and when? Well MS has released a list of 10 coming soon titles, but no indication of when they are out, or in what order. This seems like a giant fuck you to 360 owners (especially ones like me who have been drooling over Worms for the past month and are wondering what the FUCK is the holdup for a game that could be done on a SNES) who have been patiently waiting for something truly worthwhile to spend their Microsoft points on (which reminds me, where the hell is Castle Crashers?).

As much as we've bagged on Nintendo for their somewhat flaky release schedule, I own 3 very worthwhile VC games (and it would be a few more if I didn't still have my Genesis and a few classic games) and the console has only been out two months, so that's a pretty solid average. I own no Xbox live arcade titles and am only interested in one that is supposedly coming out sometime in the next two & a half months. That's well over a year of offering this service, so that's pretty appalling that I can't find one truly appealing game out of the current crop.

Finally I did pick up Rogue Galaxy, but I honestly may not get too much into it until I lighten my load a little bit (namely by finishing off FFXII, which I probably still have a good 40 hours to go on. But I'll certainly get a few hours in and give you some impressions in my next post.

Stand up of the week: George Carlin-The 10 Commandments