I <3 Doritos, and ADVENTURE

I love Doritos. I stick with the classic nacho cheese flavor, but I dig the cool ranch and even odd ball varieties like BBQ. I dip them in French Onion or Ranch dip. Hell, I eat them with cottage cheese (thus defeating the health purpose of the curdy product).

Well I’ll be damned, it might be Doritos Crash Course for the Xbox 360. This downloadable title from Xbox Live Arcade drops your avatar into a bevy of Ninja Warrior-styled obstacle courses that you dash, jump, and slide through. You bounce off trampolines, fight conveyor belts, and hover over fans to try and get a first place time. There are 5 progressively harder levels in each of 3 locations (USA, Europe, and Japan). Leaderboards put you up against the rest of the world, and it features a nice array of multiplayer options, as well as 200 nice gamer points.

Best part? FREE. Even Doritos cost 2 or 3 bucks (or 160-240 Microsoft points). The game controls are simple and responsive, with tight jumps and slides that you’ll need to not suck at winning. Watching your avatar get stomped into the waters below when you fail can be quite hilarious (although you may reach the boiling point of controller-throwing after it happens 13 times in a row). If you really start sucking you can quickly jump to the start of the race to try to best your time again.

All together, this is a great title that you have no reason to avoid. Its zero dollar price, coupled with 200 gamerpoints and an actual fun experience mean you should download this now. You never know what Microsoft will do with a free title…

So while my avatar busts his ass, I’ll be enjoying a fresh bag of Doritos. USA! USA! USA!

Angry Birds on PS3? Why?

So, Angry Birds is going to be released this week on PS3 and on PSP.

If you didn’t know, Angry Birds is the addictive time-waster game that has taken over the iPhone and Android charts, as well as pop culture and humanity itself. In it, you control and launch birds, whom are angry, at an army of pigs that have co-opted your world and severely pissed you off in the process. The combination of easy accessability, humor, and puzzlely wonders have made it a ginormous hit. It’s hardcore enough for a hardcore player (but gentle enough for a woman, lol).

But really, the news of it’s arrival on Sony products leaves me conflicted. For PSP, it seems like an ideal fit on the surface. This game is meant to be portable and played in short spurts when you want to fill in a dull gap in time. However, missing touch controls are going to make this game difficult to control, right? On the smartphones, Angry Birds’ success is due in large part because of how easy it is to touch the screen and watch shit blow up. A control pad or nub doesn’t sound accurate, although pressing a launch button is an added bonus.

On PS3, the awkwardness is doubled by the fact that you are playing on a console now. You aren’t in line or on a bus killing a few minutes with a nice diversion. You are sitting on your couch (or gaming chair) and launching a title for your PS3. Granted, “it only does everything”, so smartphone games should be included. But I can’t see myself enjoying this for anymore than a few minutes at a time. I can’t even see myself going into several menus to start this up.

It’s the same problem I had with Peggle for the Xbox 360. Some might argue it’s a deeper game, but it’s not. You have different power-ups. You are trying to complete the same goal in each round, whether it’s “beat all pigs” or “beat all pegs”. I played the demo of Peggle on the 360, and that was more than enough for me.

If there were an option to launch this in the middle of another title or when you pause a movie, that might be cool… but there’s already other things PS3 needs to patch up first (cross-game chat, network issues).

Regardless of what I say, this title should blow up the charts as America’s love affair with balls o’ birds hasn’t dried up yet. I’m sure software developers still love money, and it also seems like this developer (Rovio) loves its fans too. They recently let this title go free on Android for a short period of time. That’s quite a gesture for a game that prints money without even trying.

Good luck passive-aggressive avians.

How much will the Nintendo 3DS cost?

There’s been speculation on the US price for the upcoming Nintendo 3DS. It’s OMG-3D capabilities aside, the excitement for the new handheld has blown up due to tech demos of Zelda and Metal Gear titles. Big-N has brought nostalgia back, and you motherfuckers don’t know how to act.

Several months ago the price was announced for Japan, and it was a doozy. Listed at around $249 (US bucks), it knocked many people on their ass (onto their now-empty wallets). When asked for reasoning by the press, Nintendo said it was due to the positive reaction of fans.

Really. They just said “People really want it, so we’re going to make you pay more than you should”. so they’re the hot chick with ginormous boobs that knows fat nerds will pay for Red Lobster instead of Long John Silver’s just for a chance to rub their Sour Cream and Onion-covered digits all over its mammary goodness.

Did they do anything different from other companies? Apple products demand a premium price and no one complains (much). But they never blatently come out and say “Wow you assholes want this, don’t you? Well how ’bout…say, $600? That’s sounds fair since you have no choice.” Although I haven’t heard Nintendo take the Steve Jobs route and call it magical yet.

What if we as consumers reacted differently? Certainly we wouldn’t have the same price point if we use this logic. As a matter of fact, let’s start the new press storm for the Nintendo 3DS that will hopefully level out the price.

COMING 2011!!!

OK, let’s see if that works.

Kinect – Dashboard Overlord – Plus Other Microsoft Ranting

Microsoft has seriously been fucking up my perception of the words “gamer” and “console” lately. Kinect, while uber-cool and the self-proclaimed next big thing and a bag of Funyons, has taken over the Xbox Live dashboard on nearly every damn panel. They haven’t just overtaken 80% of the Live panels, they’ve also filled it with content that is so overtly sappy and safe that even your corpse of a grandmother is supposed to know how to do the Minority Report wave to watch flicks on Zune.

The Kinect Show <- WTF is this? We're being buttslammed with advertising already, with trailers for shite movies and Wendy's cheeseburgers (yeah gamers need more of those). Now we have to watch a "show" that basically asks "So...why haven't you bought THIS yet?" I know that's what all game trailers basically are, but I sorta feel like I can decide if I want it or not. At least the host is much less annoying than Trixie360. Anyone besides me actually remember her? When I hate something that much it's hard to forget. It's like the bitchy fat girl that was louder than everyone else in high school got a show about something you liked and ruined it. Another question...seriously, where the fuck is "SENTUAMESSAGE“, the best program on XBL or ANY of the 3 consoles? It did 3 things right:



1. It interacted with the community HONESTLY. Questions that might be avoided or skipped about quality issues or delayed release dates were attacked straight on. They treated the audience like many great gaming podcasts would, and for that they (and Microsoft in turn) earned some credibility and respect.

2. It was entertaining. There were genuinely laugh-out-loud (LOLZ) moments when the hosts would parody classic or current games. The live-action Mortal Kombat spoof where one host fumbled through a failed attempt at a fatality was a classic nod to how we all felt when we couldn’t remember the combo.

3. They weren’t loud, fat, unfunny Americans. I’m not saying Americans aren’t funny (90% of my favorite comedians are American). I’m saying Major Nelson, Tina Sumwhatever the Fuck, and new Kinect chick don’t know comedy. The two European hosts of SENTUAMESSAGE were funny, the end.

I speak in past tense about the show, but I hope that doesn’t mean Microsoft has permanently canned them. They need something that welcomes gamers to the Dashboard that doesn’t pander and makes them feel like the Xbox is for people that want the best all-around gaming experience. Please bring these guys back, soon. Kinect Saccharin Sweet Overload is starting to become a cancer (AND I HAVE A KINECT!!!)

OK, all the bitching is done. Now 2 things Microsoft did right this week for gamers:

1. OMG INDIE GAMES MOVED TO “GAMES” SECTION. Here’s the link, but basically Microsoft f’d up big time when they put out the latest Dashboard update last week. They moved the Indie Games panel to the Specialty Shops area, buried with the Avatard Clothes Mall Thing and Rock Band Store. Indie developers were pissed, and rightly so. But, what’s this? Microsoft responded in the best way possible. They moved them over to the GAMES section. This doesn’t often happen in the console space, so color me shocked. Now Indie Developers have a reason to be excited again. Hopefully they’ll respond in kind with less FUCKING MASSAGE/ZOMBIE GAMES.

2. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (the game) 50% off this week! Do you like River City Ransom? You don’t know what that is? Well do you like retro style beat em up’s with mini-RPG elements? Look, never mind. Just buy this game. It’s 5 bucks, probably to celebrate the release of the movie this week. But it’s a welcome change from the weird “18% off Assasin’s Creed Avatar Jock Strap” specials we’ve been seeing lately. PC Marketplaces have been stomping consoles as far as awesome deals go, and the results are all in the dollars. Steam developers, for example, have raved on and on about the bucks they pull in when their games are price-slashed for a weekend. Microsoft needs to pay close attention to this lesson. It’s like the old “Hot Dog Vendor” game I used to play on the old Apples in middle school (or lemonade stand or whatever). You lower your prices, you sell assloads. You don’t make as much per copy, but you sell to all those that NEVER would have bought the game to begin with. You also build relationships with your system owners, letting them know that you’re going to hook them up with quality products at a good price. WTG M$…

Bottom line… don’t forget the gamers (or the games!)

Make a Mario Costume…or Dr. Mario!

I’ve got a simple little Mario costume that gets a few kudos. I was able to pick up all the pieces online or at local stores for very little cash. First a quick shot of Mario:
Alright, time to break down the pieces:

The dark blue denim suspenders: 15 bucks at Rural King. You can find suspenders at clothing stores or Wal-Mart’s, but they are more premium brands that jump up to 30 dollars. Not for this outfit. It’s also possible to find these at the Goodwill or used clothes store of your choice.

Long-sleeved red shirt: I’ve seen a lot of people using short sleeve red shirts, but you gotta find the long sleeve to do it right! I found mine at Old Navy for 8 bucks. If you have no luck there (because it did take a bit of searching to find it), then the internet is your friend.

Plain brown shoes: Wal-Mart, but this could be an easy used find on the cheap as well.

The hat: Came from Amazon. The one I linked looks the most accurate. It’s the “newsboy” style and it fits great. The hat lacked the iconic “M”, but I picked up sheets of red and white sticky back felt at Hobby Lobby, cut out the appropriate shapes, and slapped them on.

Everything else: As for the mustache, I looked at plenty of professional real hair pieces. But honestly, the best and most accurate one I found was a $4 novelty piece at the costume shop. The plunger was an extra accessory picked up at Lowes. The white gloves also came from the costume shop for a few bucks. DONE.

Sorry I seem to be only able to find doofy photos at the moment, but hopefully you get the point.

There’s really no reason anyone should ever go to “Halloween SuperCity” or any other BS store and buy one of the mass producedoutfits. Also no reason to go to Target to buy one, since they’re pretty much assholes who think families working together to make a unique costume are ghetto-poor and failures at life.

So, there are plenty of reasons that this costume is great.

A) Easy – Look at the steps above for proof.
B) Recognizable – The youngest kid to the oldest adult loses their shit over Mario. After all, he is more recognizable than Mickey Mouse.
C) Comfortable – You’re basically dressed in farm hand clothes. The mustache is the only annoying piece. But hey, it’s a costume.

I wanna talk about one other great part of this costume — customization. Mario can be armed with a plunger, a fire flower, a mushroom, or any other accessory… You can slap on ears and a tail and be a Tanooki from Super Mario Brothers 3 (or a goddamned furry)… You can even make a giant boot or go-cart and be fully decked out…
The options are only limited by the number of Marios you can remember, and there are a ton. As I was on the last second Halloween costume train this year, I wanted to throw something together and possibly integrate Mario. The “OMG I’m Almost Out-Of-Time” idea I have?

Dr. Mario!

Dr. Mario!

This was (and still is) one of my favorite NES puzzle games. I picked up the new version on Wii which is even better. The music, the gameplay, and the competition against friends, all make this a game that many people remember and still love. Mario was really an afterthought once you got into the gameplay. He tossed pills in the bottle, but that’s about it…

So, to make this costume, I’m going to throw nearly every piece of the costume aside except the mustache. I’m borrowing a stethoscope (great to have nurse friends!). How about a doctor’s coat? Well, I actually went to HalloweenTown (after saying not to go there!) and saw terrible pun names burned onto doc coats (Dr. “Feltersnatch” anyone?) The best answer was to drag my ass to a scrub shop where they sell the actual coats. It looks great and has an assload of pockets for Halloween night traveling. As for the head piece, I bought a yard of elastic and trimmed and sewed it up to fit on my head. For the silver part I cut out a circle of sintra (PVC sheets basically) and used silver Rub-N-Buff to make it shiny (letting it dry a day). Then the sintra was glued on the band.

Now to the accessories to make this recognizable. In the game there are usually only 2 things people remember…the pills and viruses. First the viruses. I drew several from an image I found on net onto sintra. I carefully cut them out, sanded the edges, and painted them their appropriate blue, red, and yellow colors. It was a bit of a rush job and if I did it again I’d take a little more care. For the pill, I’ve seen a couple people make a two-dimensional pill carried around or taped on an arm. I really wanted an actual giant pill. For this I purchased a cheapo wood cylinder at Hobby Lobby, along with a clear plastic sphere that split into two pieces. Conveniently, each half of the sphere fit closely on the cylinder. They were a little big, but I had an idea to fix that problem. Getting them home, I hot-glued one half sphere to each side of the cylinder. Then I wrapped and hot-glued a cut piece of foam around the cylinder to fill in the gap. After that, I painted the pill, first with Guesso as a primer, then with a couple of layers of red and blue paint. Considering the rush, I was happy with the pill. Check the image below:

Click to Enlarge

It’s a good trio with liquor and the mysterious beaker.
Also, here’s the final outfit, with the viruses velcroed to my doctor’s coat:
Dr. Mario

Click To Enlarge

So that’s about it. Simple, easy, and fun. Sometimes it’s good to get a costume out of the way so you can get on with the good times. The pill was certainly the most popular accessory of the night. Warning, most people treat it like a suppository. Yeah.

GMX 2010 – Geek Media Expo Roundup!

GMX Pool PartyThe 2010 Geek Media Expo (GMX) wrapped up in Nashville this weekend and was a great time. It was the second year for this con, held at the Nashville Opryland Radisson. Billed as “48 Hours Of Cool”, GMX tries to cram as many interests as possible into a smaller, friendlier convention (check out their site here for examples of their events and panels). They had Steampunk ghostbusters, an 80’s dance party, comics, a pin-up contest, and a huge party each night in a special suite upstairs. This and more, all contained within a few hundred square yards. There was a good variety in panels as well, with your standards (Star Wars/Trek etc.), instructional sessions (learning ’bout leatherwork), and just plain good time panels (beer brewing, geek speed dating, Tauntaun race anyone?) At a con this size, you get a great chance to run into celeb guests as well. Chris Judge, Garrett Wang, and Dominic Keating were all very chill and mostly hung out the whole time.

The always accessible video game room gave you something to blow some free time on. Let me put it this way…my girl and I wandered out of a party for a brief break, 2 rounds of DDR, and then right back upstairs for more partying. Pretty damn awesome. Bored? Play a round of Halo Reach, STFU, and then get your ass back out there.

Also, I’d like to mention the hotel. Basically no matter where you were in the Radisson, you could get to your room in about 90 seconds. There are only 3 floors and the stairs are right in the middle of the main atrium, so you can always see your room. I don’t think I remembered my room number the entire weekend. I just pointed at the door and said “I’m in THAT one over there!” The pool and hot tub were cool as well — see the pics of the impromptu superhero bikini pool party if you don’t believe me. Even though there are a couple of ghetto elements, like the odd musty grandma smell and funky sleep number beds, the hotel fit well with the size of this con. Oh, and you better learn to love Applebee’s. Because you’ll be eating there a lot…unless you dress in anything that scares the manager. In that case you’ll be kicked out (true story: friend was asked to leave due to apparel being too “skimpy”. We just assumed the manager was fat and ugly ;-p)

Supergirl can't save dinner...


Orion Slave Girl Auction: Brave ladies and men dress up as sexy slaves, steampunk heroes, and just “odd things” and put themselves up for auction. Highest bidders are allowed photo ops, dances, dinners, or whatever the slave’s conditions are. Best part — they raised a huge chunk of cash for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. People were dropping over $100 for some participants. Wait, the best part was the auctioneer, Garrett Wang (Star Trek Voyager). Obviously still fresh from his gig running the Trek Track at DragonCon, Garrett riled up the crowd and kept the auction hilarious the entire time, even when the person up for bid looked a little creepy or smelly… He even took a few opportunities to snap his own photos. This guy is friggin’ awesome.

501st Star Wars Party (don’t remember the real name): This party was going long after I left around 3AM. Bar2D2 doled out shots, women (and men!) wrapped themselves around the stripper pole, and con celebs stopped by to party as well. Bumping music, bubbles, fog, and free drinks all in one little suite? Yes please!

Villians and Heroes Get Along at GMX!

Race of the Tauntauns: Get a line of geeks together and have them hop around the atrium, all the while leaping over Jar Jar obstacles and shooting a Fett or two while the crowd hoots and hollers. Gotta say it one more time, Garrett Wang stepped up for this event too. Each participant was required to stop at Wang’s table and get a “photo op”. All ages were allowed to look a little ridiculous while trying not to fall on their ass.

So is GMX a good time? Absolutely. It’s impressive that so many different events can get thrown into one 2-day event in a tiny hotel. For twenty bucks (pre-reg) I got my money’s worth. Kudos to the staff for keeping it together and keeping so laid back and cool. I will certainly be back next year as I’m positive that the event this year was a huge success. There were more people compared to last year, but I was never stressed by a “con-crowd” the entire time. Hell, I think I only walked by ONE smelly con-goer! What are the odds?

Check out ALL the photos my girlfriend and I took at our flickr site (link)

P.S. Hope to have a video up of a few highlights soon as well. Come back soon or follow me on Twitter to get the update.

Oprah kinects the dots

Oprah’s super saiyan power was collected and unleashed upon her studio audience, as well as the entire viewing audience, when she praised the new Microsoft Kinect. Despite her inability to pronounce it right (what the hell’s a Keee-nect?) she still gave it a glowing review and gave awkward aunts a reason to run to the store next month.

After a shout-out to her homies at Microsoft, she did the Oprah thing and gave everyone in her audience a Kinect and a 360. Officially, the audience was given permission to lose their shit at that point. Check the vid here:

Wow. You’d think Hugh Jackman was offering these butter trolls a backrub with that Kinect. They’re a tad excited don’t you think?

So this means two things. One, that Microsoft has began the mega-million marketing blitz that they promised a few days ago. Two, Kinect is gonna blow up like the Godfather. I’m gonna call it here. Once kids see Skittles the Cat on TV parents will be having a Death Race (2000) to get to their nearest Best Buy. Sorry Sony Move, I think you’ve got your work cut out for you.

New Anime on Netflix!

Awesome surprise showing up on Netflix a couple days ago… Looks like they have added a ton of new anime, much of it actually worth watching! Let’s take a look:

Full Metal Alchemist (the original)
Darker Than Black Vol 1
Soul Eater
Queen’s Blade
D-Gray Man
Black Blood Brothers
Ouran High School Host Club
etc. etc.

Netflix anime

New anime choices on Netflix!

I’ve already watched a couple of these, but the appeal of HD quality plus the added advantage of no Hulu-style advertising make me wanna go back and view them again. For example, after finishing FMA: Brotherhood I’d like to go back and compare how the original aged. Now I just need the time to watch them again…

A month or two ago Netflix had added Gurren Lagaan, which looked like a good sign that more quality anime was on the way. Sure enough they hooked us up. I guess they realized that all the PS3’s, Wii’s, and Xbox’s out there have tons of younger viewers with a typically more open mind.

Only downside–almost all of these series are dubbed only, meaning people that prefer the original Japanese voices will be out of luck. I typically am one of those people, but I think I can deal with it. With how easy it is to flip on the Xbox and start streaming the episode of my choice, the exchange is worth it.

Thanks Netflix! This brings me one step closer to saying to hell with cable TV…

Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 – I want to go there.

I’m still a Naruto fan, despite the filler episodes and the 5 hour fights with 3 hours of back story. Then again I used to watch Dragon Ball Z on Toonami back in the day so I guess I’m just a patient man. Along with Naruto, the series, comes several Naruto games. They have ALMOST been beat to death, but somehow they have managed to stay fresh or at least relevant to the show.

I played all the way through the 2 Namco Bandai titles for Xbox 360 (Naruto: Rise of a Ninja and Naruto: The Broken Bond) and found them to be fun. They followed the series while adding a ton of side quests. The thing I liked the most is that they did more than just fighting. There was a good amount of searching for coins, trying to race other characters, and trying to complete side missions. The fighting itself was good, not amazing, and honestly I get tired of “fighting only” games.

With Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2, Xbox 360 also gets the sequel to the original UNS that was a PS3 exclusive. The original was hailed for its amazing graphics that rivaled the drawing and animation of the show. However, it was bogged down with an overly simple fighting layout and a lack of characters (compared to titles on the Wii and Xbox). The details and announcements surrounding UNS2 make it seem that this one is gonna be a winner. Early reviews (e.g. IGN) are looking good, and it sounds like the story mode is more fleshed out. The number of characters have been boosted up to 40+, including one from Tekken exclusively designed for this title. They added online play if you care. Most of all, it still looks gorgeous like the last Ninja Storm.

So, this one comes out Tuesday, October 19th. I’ll be picking it up and hopefully will not be disappointed. Final note: if you want to try before you buy there’s a demo on Xbox Live and PSN right now. It gives you a battle against Kakashi (you play the team of Naruto and Sakura).

Can’t wait for the Kinect rhythm game, Dance… Masters?

I’m excited about Microsoft Kinect for the Xbox 360. I’ve got the pre-order, and I’m ready to either be sucked in or just a sucker. One reason I (and more so my girlfried) am excited is due to the hype surrounding “Dance Central“. It’s quickly turning into the must-have title for the new peripheral and has a ton of positive buzz surrounding it. I have also pre-ordered this fine title. Harmonix has a pretty good record for quality games. We’ll see, huh?

So to my surprise and confusion I get an e-mail from Amazon suggesting I pre-order “Dance Masters” with the Kinect and get a $20 bonus. Err…Dance Masters? Did I order the wrong game?

It turns out this is the “other” dance game made by Konami, featuring hit dance songs that you move to while the Kinect reads and scans away. Remember Konami? They made Dance Dance Revolution (another old favorite of mine) and of course infamously helped to create the music game craze and fail to make any American money off it. Konami has been an innovator in the music game biz, but has recently seemed to miss out. Well, since I’ve never heard of this game and Kinect comes out in just a few weeks, I have a bad feeling that history is about to repeat itself. Even the description from Amazon tells a tale:

Being the pioneer of the franchise that started the dance game craze Konami introduces a brand new way to experience music and rhythm. The next generation in full body dancing is finally here! DanceMasters utilizes Microsoft Natal to give gamers the ultimate dance club right in their living rooms, with no peripherals required!

“Hey remember us? Don’t let those fuckers at Harmonix fool you into getting the game that everyone is talking about! Try our game with an eerily similar name! Also, we’re still calling the new device the Natal, not the Kinect. But don’t let that worry you! Remember ‘Boom Boom Dollar’? We’ll still got it…let’s do the funky grampa!”

Poor, poor, Konami… I’ll be enjoying my Dance Central over here you guys…