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!)

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.

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…

The Accents of Halo: Reach

My family has a lot of Engrish bouncing around. That is to say, English is not the first language of many relatives on my mother’s side. I grew up in a home with a lots of broken sentences, wrong pronounciations, and heavy accents. I felt that I was pretty good at understanding accents of people “not from around here”. Add to that the fact that I grew up in the south with its “ya’ll’s” and “I ain’t gunna’s” and I deemed myself a master of dialects.

This was until I played Halo: Reach. Bungie has put together a relatively diverse team for Noble Six (I say “relatively” in comparison to games featuring teams of 3 linebacker caucasian guys). This multinational convention of badasses feature a Russian-sounding guy, an Eastern European girl, a large Zangief-looking dude, some guy out da’ ghetto, your character, and an All-American Johnny Quarterback pulled straight off the box of Mass Effect 2 to make sure you don’t get too scared with all the minorities surrounding you.

So, basically Noble Six is comprised of the Planeteers, with your character representing Captain Planet. Or at least that’s how I play it. I suggest you also try playing as Captain Planet–throw a sticky grenade on a Covenant vehicle and scream “LOOKS LIKE YOU WON’T NEED TO DRIVE THAT BANSHEE WHEN YOU’RE ABOUT TO BECOME A GHOST HUR HUR HURRR!”. If you are playing co-op with someone in the room stare at them and scream “THE POWER IS YOURS!” any time they respawn.

What I’m embarassed about is the fact that I can’t understand what anyone on my team is saying during the game. I feel like I’m listening to Russian AM radio anytime Kat is talking. She’s barking out orders with her heavy accent and all I can do is say “that’s nice dear”. With all the assplosions and gunfire and aircraft blasting my ears I just can’t pick up what my worldly team is saying. Thank God they actually display your next objective in bold font on the center of the screen.

Maybe it’s not my fault. Is the static on the radio so realistic that only a E-9 in the Army could decipher the transmissions coming across (I’m not sure if an E-9 is a rank or a gun, it just sounds like something an army dude would say while talking about his 6 months in Korea).

I really thought I was good at this, but apparently I’m just another white guy wishing tech support wasn’t moved to India.

That’s not to say I want my team to look and sound like 5 benchwarmers from Iowa State’s basketball team. I’m grateful that my team is at least as diverse as a Multicultural Club at the community college. Granted, they don’t have a guy in an electric wheelchair (WITH MISSLES AND LASERS OMG) or a hermaphrodite with a heart of gold (I guess Jamie Lee Curtis was too busy with Activia commercials). But honestly I love Noble Six. Considering it’s a game about space marines and aliens they each seem to have unique personalities. Rolling into a new area and hearing people say “Whoa Spartans?!” is a great feeling too. They’re like a Voltron for today except they don’t link together to form a mega-Spartan. I smell spinoff!

They should inspire plenty of new Halo armor (yay!), and probably even some fan fiction (ugh). Master Chief doesn’t have to carry all the weight anymore. Good for him.

1 Vs. 100 Now None Vs. No One

Sadness, as the official nail in the coffin has been hammered for Xbox Live’s “1 Vs. 100”. A quiz game show you play with 1,000’s of other XBL members, 1 Vs. 100 was an interesting experiment that proved to be quite popular. Signed into your Xbox Live dashboard, you jumped into an arena with up to 100 other players and answer multiple choice questions on everything from films and entertainment to sports.

I was in on the beta of this, and from the first time I played it I thought that Microsoft had finally designed original content that didn’t make the user roll their eyes. This really felt like having one of those bar quiz games at home, except I could get hammered at home and not smell like Marlboro’s and desperation the next morning. Besides the constant annoying Sprint logo (though not nearly as annoying as Hulu ads), there was little that I didn’t like about it. Celebrity guests (Felicia Day is pretty much as cool on XBL as she is in person)? Prizes? (RELEVANT prizes too like Xbox Live Points) No additional fee? Yes please…

So either nothing awesome lasts forever, or maybe they no makey no money. Maybe Microsoft did their typical mismanagement of everything ever. But I’ll miss it. Supposedly the tech they developed here will move on to later greater things. We’ll see…
Check out their final blog here.

Blazblue: Continuum Shift on July 20th

It’s not the title of a pompous adult folk-rock album. Blazblue: Continuum Shift is a follow-up to the cult-ish fighting game from the makers of the Guilty Gear series. The first game had just the right amount of insane attacks, character designs, and things spelled incorrectly to grab the attention of a few of the hardcore/core/nerdrage gamers. It didn’t hurt that the game wasn’t just fancy petticoats with shit fighting either. Blazblue: Calamity Trigger (the original game released last year) was a quality game that was so “oh shi fuk da mainstreem dis is fo reelz” that the first batches were sent out with a DVD of how-to’s and such (although if it were really hardkore it should have come with a Usenet link to a .mkv file but I digress).

Instead of trying to explain the tripping-balls colors, characters, and music (which is a big part of why you should check it out), I’ll just copy/paste a few images and vids real quick from the webs:

and a vid…

So the fact that a lot of screenshots look like 12 layers of bitmaps on top of each other should be enough to convince you that there’s a shit ton of things going on in this game.

Continuum Shift improves on Calamity Trigger by adding more stages, 4 new characters, and a $40 price tag. You’ll notice that it seems to be following Street Fighter IV hand-in-hand by releasing an upgraded version a year later. This game definitely needs more love though because Street Fighter is always going to be hashing out more titles (unless they try 3-D again) while there’s no guarantee of more Blazblue in America. Ask yourself if a niche game like this could have come out 15 years ago… Now ask yourself if what amounts to an upgraded version would come out a year later… exactly. This isn’t a charity case though, because the upgrades involved make this a must-buy for fight-a-holics. Plus I’m sure there’s a greasy army of 250-pounders that have been working on new Blazblue cosplay for the past year. You’ll need to play this game to know why there’s a butter goblin dressed as a gothic vampire with some pink ass thing flying with her.

Only sad note is the ALREADY ANNOUNCED DLC to unlock a character or two. Total bullshit and arguably a bad decision to convince an already small audience to invest additional funds. Thus is the state of nickel and dime gaming. Not reason enough to ignore this game when it is released on July 20th in the US.