|March 31, 2004... Waiter, There's
Stealth Action in My Metroid
The Vectrex review page... it's alive!
ALIVE!!! Er, uh, sorry. I teamed up with
Brian Pacula, the former editor of The Good, The Bad, and The
Eight-Bit and one of the Vectrex's most devoted fans, to bring
you reviews of two dozen games for this unique console.
If you've never heard of the Vectrex, imagine what would
happen if you fused a classic Macintosh, the original Game
Boy, an X-Box (for extra girth), and the arcade game Asteroids
together. You'll not only get a pretty good mental image
of the system, but you'll understand why I used the
Frankenstein analogy at the beginning of this paragraph.
Well, enough about that. It took some therapy, but
I've worked through the trauma of seeing Tails' butthole in
Sonic Advance 3 and have gone back to playing the Game Boy
Advance. I managed to beat Metroid Zero, but not before
suffering through a brand new scene in the game which forces
Samus to sneak into a ship full of cranky crustaceans, "armed"
with nothing but a wimpy pistol. When fully charged,
this pathetic excuse for a gun freezes the relentless,
razor-armed lobsters in place for about three seconds, making
it only slightly more difficult for them to surround you and
fry you to a crisp with their own, far more deadly
Just when I started to question Nintendo's sanity for
including this incredibly aggravating stealth mission in the
game, I retrieved Samus' space suit, and the tables quickly
turned on the merciless space pirates. I tell you,
there's never been anything more sadistically satisfying in a
Metroid game than exacting revenge on the Chozos by blasting
every last one of the bastards into crab cakes. The only
way it could have gotten better is if the designers had
included a melted butter attachment for Samus' laser beam,
although judging from what I've seen, that seems to be the
only weapon the game DOESN'T have.
|March 29, 2004... Pics in the
I discovered over the weekend that all it takes to keep me
entertained for hours on end is a video capture card and some
cable television access. There's so much you can do with
the snapshots... just look at the bottom of this page!
Anyway. The Vectrex feature is just about finished...
all I need to do is plug in an introduction and it'll be ready
for publication. I'd write it now, but I'm suffering
from a bit of writer's block, which will hopefully pass in the
next few days.
|March 23, 2004... Video Game
Invasion of Privacy|
Sorry I haven't been updating lately, folks. I've
been really busy, filling in for my manager at work while he's
been away. Let's do a little catching up, shall we?
First, the documentary Video Game Invasion recently aired
on GSN, the channel once known as Game Show Network. It
wasn't the embarassment that Spike TV's Video Game Awards was,
featuring important video game designers like Howard Scott
Warshaw and Nolan Bushnell instead of barely dressed dancers
and professional wrestlers (they don't use steroids anymore...
or any less!). However, the fact that it was on a
Sony-owned network became obvious when skateboarding champion
(and shameless corporate schill!) Tony Hawk announced that
"the Playstation left Sega's Saturn in the dust" and
illustrated why with bogus footage. The producers ran
clips of the Playstation game Tomb Raider next to footage of
War Gods, the atrocious fighting game which was never even
released on the Saturn. Aww... that's OK, Sony!
Not every system can be as good as the Saturn, especially
yours, but I'm sure a little self-delusion will help soothe
your savage penis envy. Heck, if you're lucky, you might
even be able to get a few of your dumbest fans to believe your
slander and lies.
Well, enough about that. There's a beta version of
Sonic Advance 3 on the Internet now. I've given it a
test run and I didn't think it was anything special... in
fact, the only thing that stood out in my mind was Tails'
apparent wardrobe malfunction at the beginning of the
Funny how it only takes a single pixel to turn the world's
cutest video game mascot into a perverted orange
flasher. Oh well... at least we know what he uses for
propulsion while he's hanging in mid-air!
|March 19, 2004... All Crimson, No
Well, I've finally played Death Crimson, and I must say
that it really does live up to its reputation as the worst
light gun game- and perhaps the worst game EVER- on the Sega
Saturn. No words (not even swear words!) can describe
how viciously, maliciously bad this game is, but for the sake
of humanity, I'll try. Death Crimson sucks. It
sucks the white from paper, the Corinthian from leather, and
the eleven herbs and spices from a bucket of Kentucky Fried
Chicken. It has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory
animals, the scientists hired to handle them, and their
immediate relatives. Death Crimson will abduct your
eyeballs, drag them to a secluded forest, and sodomize them
until they squeal like pigs. Its symphony of destruction
will haunt both your dreams and every waking moment.
Dream Crimson is the scourge of the seven seas, a plague upon
the land, and a threat to the entire galaxy.
The designers (or more likely, designer) of Death Crimson
should be convicted of a gun crime and thrown in prison
forever. In fact, this is the most sinister use of a
firearm since the assassination of Martin Luther King,
Jr. You'd be better off playing Area 51, Mighty Hits, or
even Russian Roulette with a loaded weapon. At least
you'll die happy, knowing that you never, ever had to
experience the indescribable horror of Death Crimson.
|March 17, 2004... Card
I would have finished the Vectrex special by now had it not
been for my latest toy, a video capture device which I've been
using to take pictures of practically everything.
Although it's distracting me from my work on the Blitz now,
this will ultimately be beneficial to the site, because it
will allow me to take pictures of games on systems that are
currently impossible to emulate.
But anyway, back to the Vectrex feature. I should
have it done by Monday at the latest.
|March 15, 2004... No Can Dunk, But
Good news, everyone! We're delivering a package to a
planet of oversized, undersexed Amazon cavewomen. Oh
wait... no, that wasn't it. The Vectrex feature should
be finished in a couple of days now that I've received Brian
Pacula's reviews. Also, Bender's banging some robot who
sounds like Bea Arthur from The Golden Girls.
|March 12, 2004... Rondell Sheridan
of Blood (or, that's so Dracula
Well, I finally got my hands on Dracula X: Rondo of Blood,
the elusive TurboDuo version of Castlevania. I can
understand why people were so excited by the game now that
I've played it... it's arguably the best of the old-school
Castlevania releases, with imaginative bosses and alternate
paths cleverly hidden inside each round. However, I
can't see why anyone would claim that it was better than
Symphony of the Night. Although it's a fantastic game in
its own right, Rondo of Blood just doesn't have the immense
scope or majestic graphics that made Symphony of the Night a
What surprised me most about Rondo of Blood is how much of
the game was reconstituted in other Castlevania
releases. Everything from the characters to the
soundtrack was lifted directly from Rondo and dropped into the
three Castlevania games for the Game Boy Advance. Even
when you play it for the first time, Rondo of Blood will seem
mighty familiar to you.
|March 10, 2004... Super Sicilian
I sure hope nobody comes here for up-to-the-minute video
game news. The only thing I can really report is that a
sequel to The Great Giana Sisters (the Commodore 64 game whose
suspiciously familiar name and gameplay earned it a lawsuit by
Nintendo) was recently released for the Dreamcast. If
you've ever wondered why people get so excited about this
Super Mario Bros. clone... well, I can't figure it out,
either. In comparison to any of the Super Mario games,
even the first, Giana comes up short. It's got the most
aggravating level designs this side of The Lost Levels and a
pointless power up system that leaves you vulnerable to attack
no matter how many items you've collected. I'll give the
designers some credit... Giana's Return is more complete than
most Dreamcast homebrews, and Giana's transformation from a
sweet, conservatively dressed girl to Cyndi Lauper's evil twin
has always been hilarious. However, I can't really
recommend the game unless you were a fan of the original (and
frankly, I can't imagine why you WOULD be).
|March 8, 2004... GSN: The Network
for (Video) Games|
There's lots more stuff on the Blitz today, including the
first Advance Theory update in a long time and a review of the
Saturn game Terra Cresta 3D.
I may have made the wrong call on the upcoming GSN video
game special starring Tony Hawk. The interviews with
Steven Kent, the author of The First Quarter, have got me
thinking that this documentary might actually be legit.
After all, The First Quarter is only THE best book ever
written about the history of video games!
|March 5, 2004... River City
The Gameroom Blitz has received its first donation,
courtesy of a friend of mine who's been a loyal reader of the
site for over a year now. Thanks, man! I hope you
enjoy the bonus articles in Full Spectrum.
Anyway, I thought I should mention that after an
agonizingly long wait, the Game Boy Advance title River City
Ransom EX (or its Japanese counterpart, Downtown Nekketsu
Special EX) has finally been released. It's a pretty
good conversion of the NES game, and as the name suggests, the
designers have thrown in some new features, including a
(slightly) improved ending and more abilities for Alex and
Ryan... or should I say Kunio and Riki? The only problem
is that the game's one fatal flaw has actually been made worse
now that you can buy even more powerful martial arts
moves. In the NES game, once you built your character up
to a certain point, you were practically unstoppable. On
the Game Boy Advance, the new attacks really DO make you
invincible... there's an enhanced version of the Acro Circus
where Kunio rolls along the ground, bowling over everyone in
sight and often killing them with a single blow. This
attack is impossible to counter, so you can steamroll through
the entire game without any trouble. Bad move,
Aside from that, River City Ransom EX is a lot of fun, and
you'll really appreciate some of the extras the designers have
added. Just wait until you see what the last boss,
Simon, has learned since you last saw him!
|March 3, 2004... Webb of
I have to give Tech TV's Morgan Webb-b-b-b credit... she
works very hard to make me hate her. In last
night's episode of X-Play, she reviewed a mediocre
side-scrolling shooter for the Playstation 2, using it as an
opportunity to crucify the entire genre and to remind us how
much better things are now that games have moved to the third
dimension. Funny how all the proponents of 3D
games conveniently forget how frustrating it is to fall in a
pit because you couldn't accurately judge the distance between
platforms, or because you were handicapped by a lousy camera
Luckily, there are still some sites out there that fight
the good fight, like Kobun Heat, which was brave enough to
reveal the truth about Sony's overhyped Jet Li: Rise to Honor
("It's not just repetitive... it's fucking repetitive!"), and
Toastyfrog, which recently put the hammer down on Rockstar
Games for strongarming the staff of 1UP into giving their
games glowing ratings. It's comforting to know that
there are sensible people on the web, balancing out the
unfathomable stupidity of the Webb.
|March 2, 2004... Begging for
Let's count all the donations I received for The Gameroom
Blitz last month. OK, just carry the three and... ah,
there we go! I received a total of ZERO dollars for the
site. I think I'll go out and spend that money on a
breath of fresh air. Maybe I'll splurge and get myself a
tall, cool glass of water to go with it. Oh yeah,
nothing goes down as smooth as the taste of bitter
Full Spectrum was such an overwhelming success that I think
I'll do it all over again! You know the deal, folks...
send in a donation (five dollars is a good place to start, but
more would be even better) and I'll send you a password for
the site's exclusive content. Last month was a review of
the film Joysticks. This month, we've got a brand new
feature. The only way you'll find out what we've got in
store for you is to send in those donations.
I just want to mention a couple of other things before I
go. I've set up a PayPal account for those of you
who find using it more convenient than sending in money
orders. Also, regular contributors to the site will get
free access to Full Spectrum, but you've got to ask me for
|February 27, 2004... Flying
The ColecoVision collector's guide, she has been
updated! (arrogant French laughter follows) I've
added Opcode's recent conversion of the MSX computer game Sky
Jaguar to the list. If you're a fan of classic game
systems, you really ought to pick this one up... there were
never any good Xevious clones on the ColecoVision, and Sky
Jaguar nicely fills that void.
|February 25, 2004... The Gameroom
Hey, do you remember that one site... you know, The
Gameroom something or other? Whatever happened to that,
|February 18, 2004... Beggin' for
Tony Bueno's back with another game review. This
time, he breaks out the pepper and jumps into the world of
Super Burgertime. Is it really as super as the title
suggests? Click here and find out.
Someone recently asked me if I was serious when I asked for
donations earlier this month. In case anyone else was
wondering, yes, I'm quite serious about it. I'm also
quite broke, so if you guys want to see more coverage for
modern game systems like the Playstation 2, you'll need to
send in donations.
|February 16, 2004... White
I'm still pluggin' away at the Saturn section of the
site. This time, I've reviewed Rabbit, a Japanese
fighting game that was all but ignored by players preoccupied
with X-Men vs. Street Fighter. I've given Rabbit a
slightly higher rating than I did when it was the site's
featured game, because it does have some positive qualities,
even if it's well below the standards of the best tournament
fighters the Saturn has to offer.
Getting past that, is anyone else a little miffed at Tech
TV for their biased reporting? I find myself grinding my
teeth whenever the smarmy numbskulls on X-Play review Game Boy
Advance games. They always seem to pick the worst games
for the system, and their comments are always dripping with
smug condescencion, as if they're too good to review games for
a lowly handheld system. I swear, if I hear Morgan
Webb-b-b-b refer to another Game Boy Advance title as "cute",
I'm going to shove her beloved Playstation 2 up her ass.
Sideways. With the drive door open. And everything
still attached. Including the widescreen television.
|February 12, 2004... Don't
Laugh! Those Pink Kittens Are
Just a friendly reminder... we're running on a tight budget
here at JessCREATIONS* Studios, and we could really use some
outside income to keep the site going. If you enjoy the
hundreds of reviews on The Gameroom Blitz (I've counted...
there are nearly three hundred reviews on this site!), you
ought to show your appreciation by pledging a donation to this
E-mail address. I assure you that it's money well
Speaking of money, there's talk that The Disney Corporation
will be purchased by cable television provider Comcast.
Frankly, I didn't think there was enough money in the world to
buy a company as large as Disney, but it seems that Comcast is
determined to prove me wrong. Guess all those cable rate
hikes really came in handy for them...
Moving on from Mickey to another famous mouse, Tony Bueno
has supplied us with a review of Hopping Mappy. It's
comforting to know the little runt's still out there keeping
the peace and protecting the public from, uh, tiny pink
|February 9, 2004... Genesis
I'm feeling just a little less crabby and moody than usual,
so I'll take advantage of my unusually cheerful mood and let
you know about a great series of games you might have
missed. Remember Bonanza Bros. for the Genesis? It
was a goofy action title similar to Keystone Kapers, and full
of wacky cartoon antics. That game went largely
unnoticed in the United States, but it DID inspire a great
Japanese series called Puzzle and Action. As the title
suggests, the games in the Puzzle and Action series are full
of fast-paced challenges that test both your mind and
reflexes. If this reminds you of Wario Ware, you're not
too far off the mark.
Anyway, there are a handful of games in the series, and
they're all available for Sega game systems. Tanto-R is
the first, released for both the Japanese Genesis and Game
Gear. Ichidant-R is the sequel, with new
challenges. Finally, Sando-R is the Saturn extension of
the series, with polygonal graphics and a fantastic selection
of fun and intuitive mini-games. They're so easy to pick
up and play that you won't mind they're all in Japanese.
You can play all three of these games with MAME, and some
of them even have variations in English. If you liked
Wario Ware or Namco's Point Blank series, you owe it to
yourself to give Puzzle and Action a spin.
|February 8, 2004... Miscellaneous
I've got a suggestion for everyone who's complained that
The Gameroom Blitz is too negative... suck on this for a
I'm sorry... that was a little surly, wasn't it?
Well, I've got good news, and it has nothing to do with cheap
car insurance. Everyone who contributes articles to The
Gameroom Blitz this month will be granted access to the site's
Full Spectrum content. What the heck, it's the least I
can do for my writers. Just E-mail me and I'll send the
password your way.
Also, I've made some minor updates to the profiles
page. Russ Beleski now has his own portrait... you can
check it out here if you don't feel like wading through the
profiles to find it. If anyone else on the staff doesn't
have their own portrait, send me your picture and I'll take
care of it.
|February 6, 2004... Ugh, Was That
A Skynyrd Reference?|
It's going to be a simple kind of update today. I
spent so much time redesigning the navigation bar that I don't
have much time for anything else!
|February 3, 2004... Phat
Now I've seen it all. Someone's whipped up a
side-scrolling fighting game in the vein of Final Fight and
Guardian Heroes, using sprites from the King of Fighters
series. And if that's not enough, they've ported it to a
variety of systems, including the Playstation 2, X-Box, and of
course the Dreamcast.
It's called Beats of Rage, and I must admit that I'm really
impressed with the Dreamcast version I downloaded. A lot
of people have complained that it's repetitive, and, well, it
is, but it also happens to be 99 times better than the other
homebrew Dreamcast games I've tried. The sprites are
huge and beautifully animated, and the gameplay goes down
smoother than a light, refreshing wine cooler. It could
use more moves- try to vault over an opponent in your grasp
and you'll only knock him away with a lame backhand- and
roughing up dozens of clones of Ralf and Shermie to the tune
of Streets of Rage themes is to say the least surreal.
Nevertheless, the designers have done a fantastic job with the
game, and I look forward to the updates that are planned in
You can get your own copy of Beats of Rage from this
|February 3, 2004... Grab That Cash
with Both Hands and Make a
As promised earlier, The Gameroom Blitz now has premium
content. This month, we're offering all the miniature
reviews from last September and an exclusive feature that's
never been published on the site (or for that matter, anywhere
If you want to get in on the action, here's what you'll
need to do. Send me an E-mail at email@example.com and
pledge a donation to the site. When I get your donation,
you'll be sent a secret code which grants you access to the
site's Full Spectrum content.
If you like what I'm doing with the site, here's your
chance to prove it by offering your support!
|January 29, 2004... No Zoo
Another Saturn review is comin' right at 'ya! This
time it's Shienryu, a vertically scrolling shooter which most
gamers will know as the budget Playstation release Geki-Oh:
If you're wondering what happened to the comic that was
once regularly published on The Gameroom Blitz, well, I'm
thinking about pulling the plug on it entirely. I used
to love drawing comics when I was younger, but recently, it's
become a frustrating and time-consuming process. I
personally think that time is much better spent writing
reviews and other content for the site. I'm not saying
that I'll quit drawing entirely, but if you're expecting new
installments of Zoo Logic, you'll be waiting an extra, extra,
extra long time for them. I apologize to any fans of the
comic, but my heart just isn't in it.
|January 26, 2004... How Do
You "Groove On"
I've been meaning to redesign the Sega Saturn page for
years, but so far, only one review has adopted the new
layout. Well, now that total's been bumped up to
three. I hope you'll enjoy these brand new reviews of
Groove On Fight and Mighty Hits.
Speaking of the Saturn, I hope you'll forgive the picture
at the top of the page. After playing Final Fight
Revenge for the first time in years, I just couldn't resist
posting it on the site. I think Higher Voltage said it
best... when it comes to Poison, ignorance really is
|January 23, 2004... Dual
Screens Means Double the
Everyone's talking about the latest Nintendo game system...
but most of what they've been saying hasn't been very
flattering. There have already been multiple comparisons
to Nintendo's last daring but ultimately foolish attempt to
change the face of portable gaming, the Virtual Boy.
I honestly DO think that the creator of the Virtual Boy had
some posthumous influence on Nintendo's upcoming dual-screen
portable. However, it's more likely that the inspiration
for the Nintendo DS was taken from an older Gumpei Yokoi
invention, the multi-screen Game+Watch. These dedicated
handhelds really did offer an enhanced gaming experience, with
more rounds and complexity than their single screen
However, the Game+Watches cost only fifty dollars a pop,
and it was understood that each one could only play a single
game. The Nintendo DS will cost significantly more...
and people are going to expect a lot more entertainment for
their money. Nintendo's going to have to bust their
butts to keep the system adequately supported, because third
parties are going to be very hesitant to approach it.
Also, they're going to have to put some powerful hardware in
the Nintendo DS for it to handle two screens at once.
The IQue player they released in China might be just the
ticket... it's cheap, fast, and compatible with the Nintendo
64, which already has a strong software library. It also
handles polygons well, making it easy to create the multiple
camera angles necessary to take full advantage of the system's
dual screen design.
I can't imagine the Nintendo DS being a financial success,
but if they play their cards right, Nintendo could win over a
lot of skeptical players with this system. Heck, it's
happened before... just look at Sega's Dreamcast. Who
thought THAT was going to be a fan favorite six months before
it was released?
|January 21, 2004... Peter
Pepper Picked A Pint of Praline
In this update, Tony Bueno serves up two scoops of cynicism
in his review of the Burgertime sequel Peter Pepper's Ice
Cream Factory. I'm sure Tony would have been a lot
happier with that other Burgertime sequel Diner... I've
reviewed that on the bottom of this page.
I hate to do it, but I'm tempted to introduce (gulp!)
premium content to the site. I've been broke lately and
the misfortunes just keep on coming, whether I can actually
afford them or not. Donations from readers would help me
tackle these expenses, and even give me a budget for game
rentals, resulting in more frequent reviews.
|January 19, 2004... A Little
Something of WHAT?!|
The Vectrex special won't be finished for a couple of
weeks, so here's a little something to tide you over until
then. I've got a long way to go before it's done, but I
think it's off to a good start. Give it a peek and let
me know what you think of it.
|January 16, 2004... Faulty
With this update we conclude John Roche's series of
strategic RPG reviews for the Game Boy Advance. In this
final installment John looks at Onimusha Tactics, the
surprisingly subpar portable extension of the Onimusha series.
|January 14, 2004... Celebrity
Instead of a tiny game review on the bottom of this page,
how about we try something a little different today?
Something like... oh, I don't know... an update of Fighter's
I looked at some preview pictures of Konami's upcoming
Silent Hill 4 and was shocked by the main character's striking
resemblence to Jodie Foster. Prior to that, Capcom had
introduced characters to its own Resident Evil series who
looked remarkably like Tom Cruise and Leonardo DiCaprio.
I can't help but wonder how long game companies will be able
to get away with this before these stars strike back with a
lawsuit. After all, their likenesses are a big part of
what makes them marketable, perhaps even more so than their
acting talent. Companies like Konami and Capcom are
using those likenesses without the consent of their respective
actors, and they're not getting a dime from the sales of games
like Silent Hill and Resident Evil. I predict that there
will eventually be a Hollywood backlash, similar to what
happened when Metallica took a stand against Napster at the
turn of the century. These days, video games are
bringing in even more money than movies, and the actors who
wind up in these games without even realizing it are going to
want a piece of that pie.
|January 12, 2004...
ApeXTreme: Who Knew It'd Be
You'll notice I dropped a link to On-File on the end of the
navigation bar. It's a little project of mine that I've
resurrected years after it dropped off the face of the
Internet (you can thank Xoom and NBCi for that). In case
you've never heard of it, On-File is a video game fanzine
archive, which currently features the work of over a dozen
talented writers. It's on Geocities right now, but it'll
be moving to the greener pastures of FEFEA in a week (you can
thank The Lost Levels' Frank Cifaldi for that).
So what's the deal with Apex's new game console?
Right off the bat, it earns a strike for its ridiculous,
unimaginative name. Really, with a name like ApeXtreme,
you half expect one of the launch titles to be Donkey Kong
Wakeboarding. If that weren't bad enough, the ApeXtreme
is the first game system that not only uses PC hardware, but
is specifically compatible with PC games. I've said this
about the XBox in the past, and it's even more true in the
case of the ApeXtreme... why buy a system that's a watered
down computer when you could just, you know, BUY a
computer? I'm sorry, but a game console with limited
applications and absolutely no exclusive software is a hard
sell in my opinion, and I know I can't be the only one who
feels this way.
|January 10, 2004... In and
Out (no burger, though)|
I've made a couple of changes to the links page.
Making its debut is Kid Fenris, a cleverly written pop culture
site featuring one of the best articles I've seen on the
Internet in a long time. In it, the editor puts the
hammer down on terrible video game box artwork, ranging from
overly beefy depiction of Strider in the Genesis translation
of Capcom's sleek side-scroller to the air brushed blunder on
the front of the Guardian Heroes instruction manual.
On its way out is Sector: NGP. It's not a bad site,
really, but it hasn't been updated in over a year. Worse
yet, it's home to the most rude and arrogant message board
this side of Yerf. I've taken more than enough abuse
from dispicable, self-worshipping bastards like Chad
"SignOfZeta" Gombosi, and the last thing I want to do is
subject my readers to that kind of treatment. Trust me,
folks, you'd be a lot happier visiting a forum with some
semblence of civility, like the Retrogaming Roundtable at
|January 9, 2004... Mario
Bros., Hold the Super|
Exciting news for NES fans... there's a European
translation of the original Mario Bros. that's a good sight
better than the one released in America. The enemies are
larger and more detailed, there's less flicker, and the
control is more flexible... this time, you can shift direction
while you're jumping. The arcade version of Mario Bros.
is still best, but it was nevertheless gracious of Nintendo to
fix all the mistakes they made with their first NES
translation of Mario Bros. If only they'd given their
conversions of Donkey Kong and Popeye the same treatment!
|January 7, 2004... Metal
I don't have much to contribute to the site today...
fortunately, John Roche has come to the rescue with another
game review. Kudos to you, John!
I recently played Metal Slug 5, and while it's more
exciting than the latest Samurai Shodown game, it's still
pretty obvious that the series is running low on
inspiration. It starts out strong, with rockin' heavy
metal music and a fun journey through an ancient, trap-laden
temple, but Metal Slug 5 starts to peter out as you
progress. The worst part is at the end of the game
(spoiler alert!), where you fight a boss who seems horribly
out of place. The designers never bother to explain what
he's doing in the Metal Slug universe, or why he's fighting
you. When you defeat him, he doesn't die in a satisfying
explosion... he just flies away, presumably to battle you
later in Metal Slug 6. You can't help but feel cheated
by this cop-out ending, which offers no sense of
accomplishment, no closure... just disappointment. After
the credits stopped rolling, I wondered why I even bothered to
pick up the controller in the first place.
|January 5, 2004... Tech Meets
Well, that wraps up the holidays. Darn, I'm gonna
I heard recently that TechTV and G4 were planning to merge
in the hopes of drawing in more (or in G4's case, any)
readers. I've been giving this some thought, and have
come up with a winning game plan for the combined network:
* Cartoon Network is bringing in fantastic ratings
with its Adult Swim programming block. TechTV's
replacement needs to fight tooth and nail for this hip late
night audience. The network has already made steps in
the right direction, but there just isn't enough video game
coverage (thirty minutes? Come on...), and TechTV's
selection of anime' is lackluster at best. The video
game review shows need to be expanded to an hour, perhaps even
two, and TechTV should kick lame Japanese cartoons like Soul
Taker to the curb and replace them with more compelling
animated series. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is an
exceptional show that's long overdue for an introduction to
the United States. TechTV's programming executives
should take a chance on this series... I think they'll be
pleased with the results.
* TechTV shouldn't completely divorce itself from
shows like Call for Help and Fresh Gear, which provide viewers
with useful information about the latest technology.
Even though they can be a little dry, they do serve an
important purpose. However, there's a lot of shows on
the network that aren't of much use to anybody.
Thunderbirds are Go! is an outdated relic that's horribly out
of place on the network. Robot Wars is a better fit, but
it's hard to get as excited about the show as its host, Craig
Charles, seems to be. It's time to dump those chumps and
replace them with the best programming G4 has to offer.
* The one thing TechTV most lacks is comedy, which
would help keep the viewers glued to their seats after
watching several straight hours of dry educational
television. Believe it or not, nerds have a sense of
humor too. Unscrewed with Martin Sargent, a late-night
talk show that's best described as a geekier, less gross Tom
Green Show, is the only series on TechTV that aims for its
viewers' funny bone, rather than their frontal lobe. The
network should consider more comedic programming... one
promising idea is a series showcasing the best Flash cartoons
|January 2, 2004... Samurai
Shodown and Seasonal Swag|
Dah-dah dah-dah dah-DAH... today's my birthday!
Dah-dah dah-dah dah-DAH... I'm gonna have a good time!
And you'd better believe I will, thanks to all the great stuff
I got between Christmas and New Year's. Over the holiday
season I picked up my first MP3 player, a tiny, shiny Yepp
loaded with songs from the band Weezer. Sure, it's not
an iPod, but who needs twenty gigs worth of music, let alone
three hundred less dollars in their pocket? I also
picked up a USB joypad with a countless number of buttons (the
perfect backup controller!) and received a handful of gifts
from my friends. These included the first Saturn
emulator that actually worked with my computer and some
miscellaneous items from Digital Press, including two packs of
Topps cards featuring popular Nintendo characters like Mario
and Donkey Kong.
Mario from the Donkey Kong cards doesn't look much
like the pleasantly plump plumber we've all grown to love,
more closely resembling an extra from a Popeye cartoon.
The only difference is that the big hairy brute who's got his
girlfriend is a gorilla, rather than Bluto, who is...
hmm. Well, I guess there really isn't that much of a
difference after all, is there?
Well, it's time again for some commentary on a freshly
released video game. This time, it's the long overdue
return of the Samurai Shodown series, brought to us by
SNK/Playmore and their accomplices at Yuki Enterprises ("Do I
detect a little hostility there?" Yes you do, and
there's more coming). I guess I should be thankful that
Playmore is bringing SNK back to its roots after two
disasterous years of Aruze ownership. However, gratitude
is the last thing on my mind when I play a game like Samurai
It's more accurate to describe this game as a
regurgitation, rather than a sequel. The vast majority
of the characters and backgrounds in Sam Sho V were pulled
straight from the previous games, and the new fighters are
nothing special... the designers have thrown in evil versions
of series favorites Haohmaru and Nakoruru, as well as a few
more freakishly coiffed samurai (I swear, their hair looks
more pointy and dangerous than their weapons). The worst
part is that the bosses have become ludicrously cheap, even by
SNK standards. There's a guy who frequently stops in the
middle of the match to have a snack, refilling half his life
bar in the process. He's teamed up with three goons who
do everything from tripping you up to grabbing you from
behind, freezing you in place. Most dumbfounding of all
is that this dude isn't the game's last boss, but the fucking
Another great big annoyance is that the death blows have
been removed entirely. There are no character-specific
fatalities, no sword-splitting final blows, not even the
couriers running offscreen with a straw coffin containing your
expired opponent. Even the blood is milky white.
In the place of these Samurai Shodown trademarks is a new
"enlightenment" mode which is anything but. Achieving a
higher state of mind in Samurai Shodown V is even more
difficult than it is in real life... notice that tiny
discoloration on the far edge of your life bar? You've
got to continually sacrifice your rage meter and leave
yourself open to attack to (slowly) increase its size.
Then, when you're on the verge of death, you've got to destroy
your rage gauge entirely and enter a joystick motion the
computer never recognizes to earn three seconds of slow
motion. Bright move, Yuki. I'm sure Samurai
Shodown fans were willing to give up everything they loved
about the series for a cheap special effect blatantly stolen
from The Matrix.
I'm amazed that Playmore has the audacity to charge three
hundred dollars for games on an obsolete system, that could
have been designed in a freeware utility like MUGEN. If
the president of the company's balls were any bigger, he'd
have to consult Dr. Luke Skywalker for a