Blog, Monkey, BLOG!

Well, there’s not much else going on with my life right now, so I might as well.

The job search continues. Much as I’d like to say I’m looking for work 24/7, that’s just not possible, or maybe even sane. I’m starting to get “You have already applied for this position” messages, not to mention entrepreneurial spam in my inbox.

Not having to get up at the crack of dawn has some benefits. I’ve returned to my movie-before-bedtime habit of yore. This does not, alas, mean I’ve watched anything new or exciting. No, it means I’ve revisited some time-consuming stuff I’ve been meaning to for ages. Just finished up the extended versions of the Peter Jackson-directed Lord of the Rings last night. My lord, but Return of the King is a loooong movie. Still loved it.

Viewing them in the course of three days was enlightening. I picked up on a lot of stuff I could not have in a theater, each a year apart, or on DVD, released on pretty much the same schedule. Awesome stuff. Sadly, it also reminds me of how much I wanted to love Jackson’s version of King Kong, but could not. Maybe it’s time to revisit that, as well. But not tonight. Tonight… well, it’s been too damn long since I last watched The Seven Samurai.

In other time-wasting news: Back when I thought everything was hunky-dory, I bought myself a used Nintendo DS. Used, for the price, and not refurbished, because only the DS Lite was available refurbished (and at a price only $20 lower than a new DS Lite, at that). I prefer the size and heft of the original unit.

I had gotten to play a bit on a DS back when I bought one for my son for his birthday, back during the original launch. He’s been through two to date. He keeps losing/getting them stolen, so he and his hoodlum friends are coming nowhere near this one.

The purchase was spurred by one game, which got a mention in the Penny Arcade blog, called Etrian Odyssey II. First person dungeon crawl on the top screen, and virtual graph paper on the bottom screen so you can draw your own fucking map. One forum post said, “Looks okay if you like old school.” Well, it’s absolutely perfect if you are old school.

Turn-based combat, which I prefer. Another complains that you don’t get to see your party. Again old school. Given that your party portraits are mainly anime-style urchins, I find this a blessing.

Since it’s going to be a while before I can afford the DS port of Final Fantasy IV, this is a fine substitute, and I’m really enjoying it.

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Now playing: 20 – The Little Boy Blues – Mr Tripp wouldn’t listen
via FoxyTunes

Ladies and Gentlemen…

To get your gaming geek teh awsum on, you can do far, far worse than checking out Monty Oum’s new animation over at Game Trailers.

Thanks to Penny Arcade for pointing this one out, since it is, as I mentioned, teh awsum.

W00t Redux

DING! Level 50!

Now gimme my damn squid.

W00t.

Ah, it has been a rare 24 hours. Firstly, before hitting the sack last night, my main character in City of Heroes hit level 49. That means nothing to most of you (i.e., the sane people), but the level cap in the game is 50 – once you hit fifty, you can go no further, but you do gain the ability to create a new character – a human/alien fusion with special powers. Gee, it only took me a year – and twenty-five characters – to reach this point.

Then I wake up this morning to find that Tom DeLay has retired from politics. My word! It seems I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to vote him out of office, and now he is scampering quietly into the night. Man. Now who will I be pissed off about?

I’m sure I’ll find something

Digital Sweatshops Again

Wage Slaves is an expose from 1UP.com that almost reads like an article from The Onion, but is all too true.

Fast Sunday Notes

Okay. I play City of Heroes a lot. The first Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game to appeal to me (I’m a terrific wizard, but those days are long behind me). You get to be a superhero, for crying out loud, and I still get a tremendous rush out of beating the hell out of a purse snatcher even when I don’t get any experience points out of it. Take that, scumbag!

But there’s not a whole lot of memorable music in the game. I finally turned the in-game music off and left my Live 365 player running in the background on a favorite station. Sometimes the music was awesomely appropriate; other times, of course, it was not. So I switched to Winamp, playing my very own preselected playlist. Much better, except that when I said cryptic things like “Music says KILL!” in game chat, nobody could know what I was talking about. I had spread te gospel of Winamp to others, but of course there was no way to sync up everyone’s playlists. We’re still experimenting with Shoutcast, but that’s a little tricky – running a Shoutcast off one of the player’s computers has some side-effects (not to mention whiney comments from other players about “Winamp crashed my computer” and “I can’t get it to work!” Never mind that I’ve been using Winamp for years and never had a lick of trouble from it – some people feel they’re not contributing if they’re not complaining). One such side effect is the Shoutcaster has to consciously turn on the cast, and when he shuts down for the evening, goodbye Shoutcast.

What is all this leading up to? Proving life is a circle, I went back to Live 365 and started my own station, CoH Overdrive. Still converting and populating the playlist, but if you ever wanted to know what kind of music I listen to, here’s a fair indicator.

Speaking of superheroes, the review for Elektra is up. Have a good rest of the weekend.

Even More Rumble Roses in the News

The Brits may not get Rumble Roses for PS2 until next year, but they do get models doing cosplay, at least according to The Sun Newspaper Online – UK’s biggest selling newspaper. This may not be safe for work, considering one picture of a model wearing a costume that’s little more than body paint.

That photo of the model dressed as Miss Spencer, the kneepad-wearing shoolteacher, though – that one I want as wallpaper.

MediaFamily.org: The 2004 Video Game Report Card

The National Institute on Media and the Family have released their 9th Annual Video and Computer Game Report Card, and it is a fairly even-handed piece of work, although some alarms get raised by hand-wringing over Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas early on. The major points made include a call to retailers to actually enforce the ESRB’s ratings, and for parents to – and here’s a radical concept – pay attention.

The ratings are a powerful tool that go unused far too often, though I can recall a couple of times when I was trolling a Blockbuster for pre-viewed DVDs that I witnessed a clerk glance at a child, perhaps 12, next to an adult who was renting a GTA game, and quiz the parent over who would be playing the game. When it turned out the kid had prevailed on his father to rent it for him, the clerk pointed out to the father that the game was rated M, and what that meant.

In retrospect, I should have gotten the clerk’s name, and written Corporate a letter praising her.

The truly astonishing thing, looking back over the history of the home video game consoles, is how long it has taken games to come up – or down, depending on your point of view – to this level. Oh, there were anomalies like the infamous Custer’s Revenge, but it wasn’t until Mortal Kombat and a lamentable exercise called Technocop that some mature content – by which I mean blood and gore – started making inroads into the home consoles.

The Report Card is also good for checking out the 10 video games that the Institute feels should be kept away from children – and rightly so, for each and every one is rated M. Rumble Roses made #10.

I often wonder if game detractors thought that enacting a rating system would somehow contain the industry, the way most movie producers will do anything to avoid an NC-17 rating. There are, of course, two important points that counter this – the aging of the gaming population, and an entertainment industry that is not dependent on more standard, conservative advertising venues like newspapers to trumpet their wares. Gaming magazines are by and large made up of slick ads, often stretched over two pages, and the stories themselves in such magazines often double as advance hype.

That, and they also forgot that slapping ratings on broadcast TV allowed us such marvels as seeing Dennis Franz’ naked ass on NYPD Blue and the astounding amount of gore on display in the CSI series, stuff that would have made 80’s horror filmmakers pee themselves with glee. Utilizing the ratings actually allows more extreme fare to be created and shown.

The Institute also points the finger at video games as a contributor in the current “obesity epidemic”, but that’s only because a) they’ve never seen my son playing Dynasty Warriors 4 – he gets quite a workout; and b) everybody needs to be playing Dance Dance Revolution.

To their credit, though, the Institute does outline the positive aspects of gaming, and continuously hits the note that parents must be involved with their children’s choice of entertainment. If you’re a gamer, you should take a few minutes to read this article, because it is almost certain that portions of it will be used out of context by idiots in the coming months.

Civilization Crumbles A Little More

First of all, We actually closed yesterday. So now, instead of only having 27 years left to paying off my house, I now have 30. Somehow I’m supposed to be relieved about that. What I’m relieved about is the absence of random phone calls demanding to know how much I spent on Mars bars in the year 1992 or that I immediately fax over notarized measurements of my dick.

In celebration of this new indentured status, I took my family to dinner at a slightly expensive restaurant (well, really, I had to, since the closing took an hour and a half thanks to some clerical errors the lender had made); then I bought my wife a CD she needed for a school function, and myself a new PS2 game.

The game’s name is Rumble Roses, and it is Exhibit A that the complete and utter collapse of civilization is underway, but at least this is a harbinger I can get behind. Here’s a screencap from gamespy.com to give you an idea of what this is about:

Yes, it’s a leather-clad dominatrix wrestling in a physics-defying bra design. Posted by Hello

Rumble Roses is theoretically a wrestling game, but it will come to be known in the future as “The Cat Fight Simulator”. All the playable characters are nubile (and given the Japanese origin of the game, sometimes disturbingly young) women, who seem to lead double lives as wrestlers and exotic dancers. The characters run the gamut of fetish types, including Catholic schoolgirl, cowgirl, naughty schoolteacher, nurse, and a masked wrestler in a red leather devil suit, seen above.

I’ve never played a wrestling game before, so I can’t really judge how it stacks up as an actual game in the genre; it is possible to target your opponents’ arms, legs, body or head in “Submission Holds”, causing damage and wearing them down. The instructions, though, are maddingly obtuse about how to achieve those holds. I’ve managed it by accident several times, but attempts to replicate them fail.

A lot of the moves are contextual; if you’re near a turnbuckle and press circle, you’ll climb it. Mostly though, you’ll be landing punches or kicks, building up a “Lethal Move Counter” that will either let you unleash your character’s signature “Lethal Move” or “Killer Move”.

Here, though, is where it gets perverse: Successful submission holds and some of the fancier flips and signature moves fill up a heart on the receiving character’s life bar. Once this heart is full, she’s wide open, so to speak, for a “Humiliation Finish”. The opponent then has one minute to build up her Lethal Move Counter to at least 1 so she can perform the humiliation move. You fanboys can put your cash back in your wallets, there is no nudity involved in these “Humiliation KOs”, but they do put the finishing touch to a game that seems like an interactive version of the “apartment wrestling” videotapes found in the back of lower-rent salacious magazines.

That’s still not the full package. The story mode is predictably stupid, but that’s not what is going to sell this game: The matches are not confined to the ring – there is also an option for mud wrestling. And it is possible to tell your Playstation to play both sides of a match, making it a cat fight generator. These two, alone, should cause the game to fly off the shelves and into the hands of Spike TV fans.


Posted by Hello

Yes, it’s a stupid game, and the very fact that I own it probably demeans me. Strangely, I don’t seem to care about that too much.

Rez Re-release?

There’s a rumor that’s passed around OPM magazine a couple of times and recently picked up by GMR (both 1up.com affiliated, hmmm) that Sega is considering re-releasing the psychedelic music game/shooter Rez, possibly as soon as November. This is good news for those of us who missed the game on what must have been a very limited initial release in the states; a used copy can rarely be found for less than fifty bucks. And all indications point toward the re-release at a price point of about twenty dollars. Nailing down hard info on this is maddeningly difficult, however.

Sadly, I don’t think Sega will be releasing the Trance Vibrator peripheral along with it, as reported in game girl advance: Sex in Games: Rez Vibrator back in 2002. This article is pretty harmless but might not be considered safe for work.

Hey, there’s one of these up for sale on eBay. There’s a thought for Valentine’s Day…