I can quit anytime I want...

So I bought my first extra Skylander the other day. I guess I could've been happy with the set my wife gave me for Christmas, but it wasn't all of the classes, and while I definitely don't plan on getting a large portion of the figures, I did feel the need to expand my collection, so I picked up an Earth Giant named Crusher, which was pretty much decided on the fact that he was voiced by Hercules himself, Kevin Sorbo. My wife has also gotten into collecting though, as she got a set of 3 herself, which incuded the tech Skylander I needed to have one of each class. Theorectically, we have no reason to get anymore figures, but she would like an all female team herself, and while I'm resisting the urge for now, it's always going to be tempting if I see a cool figure in a Gamestop or Best Buy or something, especially on sale.

In those square things with words on paper news, I do actually read quite a bit, though it tends to come and go in spurts. This year, I really finally got into the Percy Jackson series & breezed through the Artemis Fowl books (though I felt it got pretty weak in the last couple books). But I was really waiting for the latest adventure of Chicago's only professional wizard, Harry Dresden, which I did finally get for Christmas and breezed through it in a few days. It goes a long way to re-establishing Harry back on somewhat familiar ground, but changes a lot too, mostly in good ways, some in potentially bad but really interesting ones. I can't wait for the next one and hope it's not too horribly long. I'm in the middle of reading Dean Koontz Odd Apocalypse, which is from another series I really enjoy, the Odd Thomas books. I'll talk more about it and the series in general when I get through with it.

That's all for today, but I should be back with a post in the new year (possibly on Tuesday). Until next time, here's your BIG BANG OF THE WEEK:


13 games I'm looking forward to in 2013...

2013 is nearly upon us and while it may be the last gasp of this generation, there are still a pretty good amount of titles to look forward to even without knowing if and when there are new consoles coming out and what will be available. I've tried to stick to ones we know for a fact are coming to current consoles (hence no Watch Dogs. Star Wars 1313 or Dragon Age III, all of which are rumored to be next gen titles).

#13: Aliens: Colonial Marines-Granted, I'm not a huge FPS fan, but it's hard not to get excited about Gearbox, the same guys behind the very inventive Borderlands series, taking a crack at the Aliens license. Also of interest is that the Wii U version will have exclusive features like using the gamepad as a motion tracker, which just sounds amazing.

#12. Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time-One genre that's been kind of lacking this gen is 3D platformer titles. I mean sure you had the Mario Galaxies & a couple traditional Ratchet & Clank games, but that was really about it. Sly Cooper has always seemed to fly under the radar, but it's continually had solid gameplay with a very fun and engaging cast of characters. Anyone who is a fan of good 3D platformers should keep this on their radar.

#11. Tomb Raider-Granted, yet another re-invention of Lara Croft seems like grasping for straws initially, but everything shown from this game so far seems like it's taken plenty of good cues from Uncharted without seeming like a cheap imitator and Crystal Dynamics is one of the best developers out there so this is already shaping up to be one of the top adventure games of the coming year.

#10. Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns-The third and final entry in the XIII series. While XIII itself was pretty divisive, XIII-2 was a pretty good return to form including most of the things that were absent from XIII like real exploration and towns(though I am nowhere near finished with it at this point). Lightning returns will hopefully up the ante by providing a little more solid story in what should be a surprisingly satisfying conclusion to a series that did not start off so well.

#9. The Last of Us: Zombie games are getting to be a dime a dozen now, so it takes something special for one to stand out. One being developed by Naughty Dog should be that something special, as The Last of Us doesn't look nearly as light hearted as the Uncharted games, but seems to carry to same degree of compelling action and story-telling. It's also a new IP which this late in a console cycle is a very rare thing.

#8. Pikmin 3-The long overdue sequel probably should've been a launch title, but Nintedo has never been one to rush their core franchises out to market. Will it get delayed again? Quite possibly, but odds are it will still come out in 2013 and looks to be the premier core Nintedo title to hold us over until something along the lines of a new Zelda/Metroid/3D Mario comes out.

#7. Luigi's Mansion 2-I've mentioned before that I feel the original Luigi's Mansion full under a lot of undeserved scrutiny because it was a launch title for the Gamecube and admittedly it wasn't really on par with most games Nintendo throws out at launch. It was still an incredibly solid game that I really enjoyed so I am extremely excited for the sequel which promises to be longer and more varied. Add the ability to play it on the go and you've got another great reason to own a 3DS.

#6. Tales of Xilia: Granted, the Tales series doesn't really break he mold of Japanese rpgs everyone is saying are stagnant, but two of my best rpg experiences this generation were Tales of Vesperia and Tales of Graces F, because when it's done that well it's like video game comfort food. Yeah it's familiar but familiar can be very good. I very much look forward to this comfort food in 2013.

#5. South Park: The Stick of Truth-A South Park RPG? By the same guys who brought us Elder Scrolls & Fallout? With heavy involvement from Matt Parker and Trey Stone? I shouldn't even need to explain why this already has best rpg of the year all over it. And so few rpgs have a real sense of humor to them days. Stick of Truth should be viciously funny yet loving of its subject matter like most great South Park episodes.

#4. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch-On the more serious but no less exciting side of rpgs we have this highly anticipated joint effort from great rpg studio Level 5 and legendary Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli. The game looks incredible and should feature the same kind of heartwarming characters and story combined with great rpg gameply we've come to expect from these two and I love that it's coming out in just under a month so it's not even that long a wait.

#3. Bioshock Infinite-The original Bioshock is easily one of the best games of this generation, so the real follow-up (2 wasn't bad, but it was pretty much the same game) taking it to the skies with an all new setting, a protagonist with actual personality and some all new plasmids make this one of the few action games I'm really looking forward to next year.

#2. The Wonderful 101-Platinum games first incredible Wii U effort looks nothing short of amazing. It's a major reason I was sold on the system. Whether or not it will make compelling use of the Wii U's Gamepad is anyone's guess but it still looks incredible and it seems like it's doing Pikmin-style gameplay way better than Pikmin is doing it. It might be number one if I could actually play a demo to confirm it. Which leads me to me #1 most anticipated title:

#1. Rayman Legends: Again, New Super Mario Bros U was great, but having played several levels of the latest Rayman title shows it just doing everything a magnitude better and more creatively. This title is already pretty much guaranteed 2D platforming awesomeness which is incredibly rare this generation aside from a few indie darlings. This is currently my most anticipated game of 2013. no contest.

That's all for today. I do plan to have a post up tomorrow, so hopefully I'll be able to keep to that. Until then, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Super House of Dead Ninjas


The post Christmas post...

Damn, sorry for the sudden two-week hiatus, but there was a real lack of things going on and admittedly I was a little burned out. I do think in order to balance that out more I'll be talking about nerdy things I've been up to in each post. Admittedly merely trying to post about the newest nerdy news has been sort of limiting and I'd like to mix it up a bit more even if it's something I'm late on the bandwagon on. Like the last episode of a show I watched or something new I've discovered gamewise/nerdwise or progress in my backlog of games. I did finally get a decent android phone (the Kyocera Hydro) after years of having cheap crappy phones so I may occasionally talk about stuff on there now as well (finally played Angry Birds, it's fun but I don't get why it's so huge).

Wasn't a big gaming Christmas for me, but I did get two titles I think I will really get a good amount of time invested in, Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed for the Wii U, which I've already talked about a couple times before, it's a great title on any system, and this will be the first title I'll be excited about taking online since Mass Effect 3, especially since the Wii U community doesn't seem to be filled with immature racist assholes (or at least it contains them pretty efficiently).

The second title is what some  have called a cheap cash grab: Skylanders Giants. For those who aren't all that familiar with it, it's probably best described as Pokemon but with action figures you buy and rather than have your characters battle it out, it's more like a Diablo-light style game. It's clearly meant for kids with the collectible action figures and a storyline that would barely past muster as a Saturday Morning cartoon, but the gameplay is fun and addictive and a massive loot fest. And while yes it's clearly meant to be a nearly endless supply of money from crazy-collection kids the game is beatable with the iniital set of figures, just there's a lot of side stuff that isn't accessible without at least one character from each of the 8 different classes. Just think of it as something with more dlc than you can shake a stick at. I don't plan on getting anywhere near all the characters, but making sure I have every class seems like a no-brainer minimal investment. Bottom line: I wouldn't pass this up just because it's a "kids" game, and as long as you know exactly what you are getting, I think it's a worthwhile investment.

Spectacular Spider-Man was an excellent show, easily the best Spider-Man show to date and arguably the best Marvel superhero show ever as well (though Avengers: Earth's Mightest Heroes might have equal claim to that title). So when it was cancelled after a mere 2 seasons  with little rhyme or reason in favor of a different Spider-Man show, one that was a little more kid-focused, there was understandable skepticisim and nerd rage. Most probably haven't given it a chance. So this new show, "Ultimate Spider-Man" has it's first season on Netflic, and I decided to give it a shot. I'm most of the way through the first season and no, it's not as good as Spectacular Spider-Man, but it's still fairly entertaining. It's essentially a Marvel version of Teen Titans (or even Young Justice) with Spidey teaming up with a bunch of teen superheroes and a lot of quick jokes a 4th-wall humor. Probably the best part is that it incorporates a lot of the whole marvel universe on a regular basis, so it's not unusual to see The Hulk, Iron Man or Captain America to show up or even much lesser known characters like the Damage Control team. Again, the writing isn't nearly as strong as Spectacular, but it's still plenty fun, so it shouldn't be passed over just because you loved the previous show.

And during my break, I did manage to see the Hobbit. I did basically enjoy it, Martin Freeman makes anything worthwhile and the scenery and action were very entertaining. But though I barely remember the book at this point, it seems like they'll really be padding it to stretch it to 3 films, it's incredibly difficult to keep track of all the dwarves because only a couple have any actually personality. Also it has that tendency of the Lord of the Rings films where it feels like it has an end point only to keep going for 30 more minutes to one ending after another. I did not see it in the controversial 48-fps or 3D, just the good old standard because admittedly I'm not big on paying more than the already ridiculous standard ticket prices. I'm still excited to see the next chapter, but it's admittedly a tad rocky start.

Ok,. that's really it for this post, I should be back sometime this weekend with another one. Until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone


Rayman is better than Mario. And so is Sonic?

Finally, the Wii U shop had some new content this week, namely 2 big demos. One of the launch title Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed and one for the not horribly far off Rayman Legends (due out in February).

I just finished New Super Mario Bros. U the other night, it's a great game, easily the best 2D Mario since the 16-bit days and showed a lot of great level design. Admittedly one thing it did not really do well was make much use of gamepad functionality until the last couple of levels, where you used it for things like guiding a rising platform to keep ahead of a lava surge. It was just a little taste of some potential.

So the Rayman demo comes out and is doing frankly what Mario should have, showing better use of the gamepad in just a couple of levels. Using the gamepad to distract enemies, move platforms, cut ropes and more goes far above and beyond simply placing platforms like you would do in NSMBU. The graphics are gorgeous, arguably the best shown on the Wii U to date, while Mario was a nice shiny HD upgrade, for the most part it hardly blew you away. And while the levels in Mario are great classic design with a little innovation mixed in here and there, every level in the Legends demo showed a huge amount of creativity. If these are the kind of exclusive titles the Wii U gets on a regular basis, I don't think it'll have any issues competing with the next Xbox or PS3.

Now, I talked a little bit about Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed in my post about a week with the Wii U, but no with the demo out, I can expand upon it a little more. The Kart racing genre has been pretty much dominated by Mario Kart since the SNES days. Kart racers rarely are any serious contender and I think it's made the developers of this once seminal racing series a little lazy. You'd be hard-pressed to say both Mario Kart Wii & Mario Kart 7 lived up to the high bar set by previous entries. So along comes Sonic racing, and it really ups the ante. The levels have great design based around classic Sega franchises like Golden Axe and Panzer Dragoon. You gain experience. And on top of that, it features racers from many Sega franchises, not just Sonic. I think one way to revitalize the Mario Kart formula would certainly be to have it more in the mold of Smash Bros where it encompasses many Nintendo franchises, not just Mario. For now, I doubt any fans of fun racing titles would be disappointed with this game.

And finally moving on from video games, the last huge nerd movie of the year, The Hobbit, is in theatres this weekend. I'm sure based on the LOTR trilogy alone it'll be huge, and the reviews are mostly positive even if they tend to bash the frame rate and length. I unfortunately most likely will not have time to see it this weekend but I'll be sure to post a review when I see it which will hopefully be in the coming week sometime.

That is all for today, but I should have another post up tomorrow or Sunday. Until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Oblivion


10 Nerdy Christmas Episodes...

Christmastime is upon us, and that means being overloaded with Christmas specials and episodes, many of them cheesy and terrible and pandering to to the same audiences that make crap like Two and A Half Men the most watched sitcom on TV.
But hey most non-Grinch nerds love Christmas as well, and there's a surprising amount of episodes geared much more towards our tastes for this holiday season if you just do a little research (a handy list of all TV Christmas Episodes can be found here). Here are 10 that should be enjoyable for just about every nerd:

10: Big Bang Theory: The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis-Granted, BBT is a very mainstream show, and plenty of nerds hate it, but plenty of nerds love it also. This may be the high point of the series to date, with Sheldon's theory of appropriate gift breakdowns and of course him having a nervous breakdown over Penny's gift of Leonard Nimoy's autograph (and unwittingly his DNA)  is not only a huge gut0busting scene but a very appropriately nerdy one as well.

9. Roswell: A Roswell Christmas Carol-Aliens celebrating Christmas is definitely nerdy, but even moreso because these aliens love Christmas, esepecially Katherine Heigl as Isabel being the Christmas Nazi because most of us know someone who tries to force Christmas spirit onto everybody whether they want it or not.

8. Chuck: Chuck versus Santa Claus-I am not the biggest fan of Chuck admittedly, but this is one of the stronger episodes. An homage to the mother of all Christmas movies (DIE HARD) with Reginald Val Johnson as a cop? Nerd win.

7. Supernatural: A Very Supernatural Christmas-Horror and Christmas are a sort of odd sub-genre that most of the time doesn't work especially well but Supernatural manages to deftly pull it off in this mostly stand-alone episode. An especially nice touch is the overly nice slightly older couple that are actually ancient evil Pagan gods. Not that it hasn't been done before but it's always a treat when done well like it is here.

6. Mystery Science Theater 3000: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians-Watching a guy and two robots stranded on a space station relentlessly mock a hilariously awful Santa Claus movie. Do I even need to expand on how wonderfully nerdy that is?

5. The Robot Chicken Christmas Special-Santa & Goku battle an evil half-snowman, a little drummer boy and a weirdly mutated Mrs. Claus that looks like she was ripped right out of Akira. And that's just one clip.

4.  Batman The Animated Series: Christmas With the Joker-A wonderfully insane episode that perfectly shows off the Joker (and I believe it was hist first appearance so of course it was vital he have a good first episode). Plus watching a Christmas-themed Batman episode that isn't ridiculously cheery or sentimental is a good nerdy holiday time.

3. Doctor Who: Christmas Invasion-Doctor Who is pretty synonymous with Christmas these days, but this is the special that introduced the wonderful David Tennant as the 10th Doctor and he's a favorite of many and deservedly so.

2. Futurama: Xmas Story-Futuristic evil robot Santa that reigns hell on the world? Yup nothing nerdy about that.

1. Community: Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas-This may be my favorite Christmas episode of anything ever, and while nothing in the overall plot (Abed finding the meaning of Christmas) isn't especially nerdy, the claymation style and compeltely random jokes (CHRISTMAS PTERODACTYL!) are completely nerdy and yet it manages to be genuinely heartwarming as well.

Ok that's the list and it should get you off to a good start but be assured there's plenty of nerdy Christmas cheer to have fun with this holiday season. Until next time, here's your BIG BANG OF THE WEEK:


Ni Ko Nuni makes another case against rpg demos...

A big reason I bought the Wii U is that in 2013 I'm not seeing a whole ton of titles I'm really looking forward to. The Xbox 360 doesn't have a single exclusive title I'm excited about. Hell I'm pretty sure it's only exclusive title is Gears.This is admittedly natural when a console is nearing the end of it's lifepsan and everybody is prepping for the next round of consoles which we'll presumably see if not this year next year at latest.

But despite the PS3 also being presumably on its last legs, it has a large number of titles exclusive to its platform coming out that are generating a lot of excitement. One of the most exciting for me personally is Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. A collaboration between the fantastic Studio Ghibli & the amazing Level 5, this rpg has been on my radar for a long time and it's finally within sight as it comes out in just over a month.

A demo was released yesterday which I was very excited to try. It showed of the colorful graphics beautifully, the entire demo looked incredibly stunning. But then we got to the actual battles, where much like the demo for FFXIII-2 I was just pretty much thrown in there (with a time-limit no less!) I was thrown into a rather complex system with no explanation of how it works. What are my familiars? Can I influence my party members in some way? Hell it took a few battles to realize I could freely move around the field. I mean the first part I tried, where you immediately run into a boss with your little familiar who is pretty much useless against him I got creamed within a few short minutes. I was heavily tempted to just throw up my hands and say this system is way too complicated for me to enjoy. Luckily they had another section where you actually fought several normal battles before getting to a boss battle to at least feel things out a little bit. Once I started to get a grasp of how to handle things I performed much better, but still barely made it through the boss battle at the end not because it was particularly difficult but there was just a lot of how the battle system works I didn't know and is hard to really get down in a mere 20 or so minutes like any good complex rpg.

The good news is I'm still excited about this game. The battle system looks fun and unique and I'm absolutely in love with the art style (in fact I'd love to see them make another Dark Cloud or Rogue Galaxy). But it's pretty much in spite of the demo, which comes of more confusing than anything because you are just given so little time to understand a system that like most good rpgs will take an hour or two to really get the hang of.

That's it for today, I will most likely have another post up tomorrow on the Nintendo Direct that is later today if nothing else. Until then, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: The Prince Edward


10 Wii games that deserve a Wii U follow up...

Well the Wii U is out now and many have gotten a chance to at least see the potential of the gamepad, which offers a lot of new gaming possibilities. Obviously one way to really show this off would be to make sequels to Wii titles that could show off ways to improve them with gamepad and Wii U functionality. Here are 10 I think would make prime examples:

#10 Xenoblade Chronicles: Admittedly, I'd love to see a follow up to Xenoblade Chronicles period. I easily sunk about a hundred hours into it and it's one of the best rpgs of this generation. Howoever it wasn;t without it's flaws namely a fairly horrid quest management system. It's been repeatedly shown that the Wii U may be the most ideal console for rpgs to date, and quest & inventory management along with auto-mapping would be a snap on the pad along with having techniques and attacks right there on the pad to queue up since it does work a lot like an MMO. Also admittedly the game was beautiful in some aspects but downright ugly in others. Seeing that world in full HD would be a treat.

#9. The Last Story: This would be that other great rpg of this generation on the Wii. Aside from it's rather short length, it was a fairly impeccable product. Combat could get a bit messy and confusing, with a gamepad it would be much easier to manage your party and dole out commands. And much like Xenoblade Chronicles, while it was gorgeous, it clearly was taxing the system and suffered from massive slowdown at times. The significantly more powerful Wii U could do it justice.

#8: Boom Blox: Moreso because this is an extremely underrated party series that a lot of people didn't play, but I really think the possibilities of 5-player mayhem alone would add a lot of value to this, plus it could probably use the gamepad itself in some inventive ways.

#7: Red Steel: The first Red Steel was an unmitigated disaster to the point where it's become synonymous with a title that was supposed to show of the potential of a system and failed utterly. But Red Steel 2 managed to gloriously deliver on most of the promise the original failed to live up to, with great combined sword and gun action. It didn't sell nearly as well as it should have, probably mainly due to the bad memories of the first. Whether it used the gamepad much or just was another great example of motion plus, I think it deserves at least one more shot at being a great AAA franchise.

#6: No More Heroes: No More Heroes was easily the best third-party series on the Wii. Suda 51 has expressed a lot of interest in making a third entry on the Wii U, saying he's really excited about the gameplay possibilities the gamepad provides. Do I need to say much more? SOMEONE MAKE THIS HAPPEN.

#5: A Boy and His Blob: The cult NES title received a revival on the Wii with charming graphics and clever puzzles. The combination of platforming and puzzle-solving could really benefit from the touchpad and the dual screen capabilities of the Wii U and could also have some interesting co-op possibilities as well.

#4: Little King's Story: Granted, we've already got both Pikmin 3 and Worderful 101 on the horizon, which will offer similar gameplay, but they might lack the pure charm and certainly the kingdom-building aspects of Little King's Story that make it such a great title. The Gamepad would obviously  make managing your little army of followers a snap and like many titles on this list it was criminally ignored so I'd love to see it given another chance at being discovered.

#3: Zack & Wiki: One of the most brilliant and fun puzzle games of this generation, Zak & Wiki also featured many creative uses of the Wii remote integrated into it's puzzle solving. I'm sure a well-deserved sequel on the Wii U would make very creative use of the Gamepad with really clever puzzles, so let's hope that happens.

#2: Lost Winds: One of the earliest WiiWare titles remains one of the best, being an incredible platformer that made fantastic use of the Wii remote. Hell a good idea for a pretty basic follow-up is already there in Nintendoland with the minigame Ballon Trip Breeze, but that's just the most basic idea off the top of my head, I'm sure there a lot of exciting possiblities for this series with the Wii U and the gamepad and I'd love to see them.

#1. Trauma Team: This is pretty obvious. You can use the stylus like a scalpel. You can use the gamepad like a medical scanner. Hell you might even be able to implement co-op play. This is a series that has fir Nintendo systems in general very well. It was one of the best Wii titles and could easily be a great Wii U title so hepfully we'll see this really obvious and awesome idea on the Wii U before long.

Ok that's the list. Until next time, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK:  Admission