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pup Name: Brian Rowe
Date of Birth: 9/7/1980
Location: Brew City USA

All-time favorite game: Fallout 2 (PC)
Least favorite game: Friday the 13th (NES)

Title: DS - Better days ahead?
Posted: August 02, 2007 (09:35 PM)
I think my DS is getting lonely. It's been sitting on the shelf, untouched, unplayed, for a few weeks now. It doesn't help that the last game it experienced was Touch the Dead. Poor little guy. It's not that I don't want to play my DS. It's that I don't want to play the majority of recent games.

Can we stop with the puzzle games already. I don't need five different versions of sudoku, or a dozen renditions of Tetris with a unique twist. For that matter, I don't need anymore card games either. Marvel had one, SNK did too, and coming up, one for Fullmetal Alchemist, and three from the Mega Man franchise. Three? For crying out loud.

But wait. There's hope on the horizon. Dementium, Luminous Arc, Drawn to Life, and The Settlers are all coming soon. Could it be that my dry spell is about to end? I certainly hope so. Right now I'm feeling like I bought the system for old folks and little kids.

Oooo... High School The Musical is coming next week!
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Title: So long Best Buy
Posted: July 29, 2007 (02:14 PM)
As some of you know, I was previously working at Best Buy in the media department. I say 'previously', particularly because I haven't physically worked in the store since May 26th, despite being a bona fide employee.

The problem came when I requested a transfer from the Madison store to the Milwaukee store to coincide with moving. I wanted to start around June 1st, and management at both stores were telling me that it "was good to go," and it was "a done deal." As luck would have it, my General Manager from Madison was taking over the same store I wanted to go to, and at the same time as me. Everything seemed in order. I had a my Uhaul, a remodeled apartment, and a job all ready to go.

Then I called for my schedule at the new store. I was told, "We'll see if we have anything available." Uh oh... For the next month, I was given the runaround from so many managers that I couldn't keep their names straight. Desperate, I called back to Madison for help. It turns out that Best Buy dragged their feet right into a hiring freeze, which included my transfer. That's when I decided to call the unemployment office.

The lady who took my claim was friendly and helpful. I explained everything about my transfer and she said that I qualified and she even backlogged my claim to cover the previous three weeks. Not knowing when or if the transfer was going to go through, I began a massive job search. It took a while but I finally got a few job offers. Last Sunday, Best Buy called to say that I was on the schedule for the week - two months after I left Madison. I explained that they had taken too long, I just received a job offer the day before, and was planning to head in and sign a separation notice on Tuesday.

Tuesday came around and I signed the separation notice, only to go back home and get the biggest shock of the year. I am being investigated for unemployment fraud. It's been five days, and I can't tell you how nerve-wracking it's been waiting to hear the result. Since the investigator had clearly made up her mind before talking to me, I am quite sure that I'll need to do an appeal. I just can't believe that this is even happening. Best Buy is now saying that I wasn't being transferred, and like an idiot, I never got any of it writing. In the absolutely worst-case scenario I could have to pay the money back, $300-$1500 in fines, receive a felony on my record, and face up to 270 days in jail. Realistically, I will probably only have to pay it back, but that felony charge scares me. I just landed a new job and I haven't had the background check yet.

As for the new job, I am now an Assistant Manager at Gamestop. I know that it's not the most glorious position, but it will pay the bills, and I just might have some decent opportunities ahead of me. The only reason they gave me the Assistant position was because there were no Store Manager positions available, although 3-4 new stores will be opening in my area. Having a discount again will be nice, and I will even get to borrow certain merchandise to take home. I had wanted to get out of retail, but that dream will just have to wait.
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Title: DDR accomplishment
Posted: July 22, 2007 (12:43 PM)
This morning I broke through my wall. After far too many years of trying, I finally beat DDR's Max 300 on Heavy. It was ugly, my score was abysmal, and the bar won't be walking straight for a month, but I did it.
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Title: Prison Ain't so Bad
Posted: July 21, 2007 (10:47 AM)
Coolest prison in the world. End of story.

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Title: Die already.
Posted: July 21, 2007 (08:48 AM)
Alright everyone. Get ready for the

GAME OF THE CENTURY

. I can hear you quivering with anticipation, but deep down inside, you already know what it is.

That's right! It's Dynasty Warriors meets Gundam! Take two franchises that refuse to die and throw them together to create Dynasty Gundam.

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Title: Backflips
Posted: July 18, 2007 (12:47 PM)
Just a little something to brighten your day.

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Title: Ask Genj
Posted: July 15, 2007 (09:48 AM)
Dear Genj,

I recently got back in touch with some old friends from high school. Despite not talking for nearly 8 years, I was amazed to find out that our hobbies and interests are nearly identical! We like the same music, comics, and video games, but there was one glaring difference.

They LARP.

I know that you're somewhat of an expert in this field, so please tell me what I should do? Can I really approach them on the subject? I don't want to lose them again. Actually, it might be kind of scary, because they play in a big group. That's a lot of foam swords and magic missiles. I don't know, maybe I could leave it be. After all, they did look pretty happy in their pictures.

Yours truly,

Losing Against Real People
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Title: Nothing like a zombie apocalypse
Posted: July 14, 2007 (12:18 PM)
What is it about the zombie that is so utterly captivating? There's certainly no shortage of movies. In fact, it's about time stores had a zombie genre. No more lumping them in with the likes of Jeepers Creepers or Saw. Zombies are far too classy for that trash.

Parties are even being thrown in their honor - revelers dripping with equal parts fake blood and fake skin, and biting one another in celebration. How about a zombie bar crawl? Alcohol certainly makes for realistic stumbles and moans.

So why the near-worship level of admiration for this simple-minded creature?

Theory #1: Zombies are the physical manifestations representing our fears of losing our unique, individual identities.

Theory #2: Zombies are an apt analogy to showcase our rabid consumerist tendencies in an age dominated by materialism.

Hmmm... I'm going with Occam on this one.

Theory #3: Humans want fellow humans to get their limbs torn amidst arterial sprays, eyes crushed in their sockets, and instestines strung through the trees.

Face it. We hate each other. It's the way your uncle farts where he pleases, the guy at the checkout who won't get off the phone, the little girl begging in the toy aisle, or that stupid beret your friend insists on wearing.

Remember the neighbor with the barking dog? Well now you can let the zombies get revenge for all your sleepless nights. That roommate who still owes you $50? Jam the doors shut in the name of survival and watch through the peephole as he scrambles for dear life.

Ahhh, guilt-free murder justice, and it's only round one.

Now that your ex-friend/boss/lover/coworker/8th grade teacher is a zombie, he or she is a menace to society. You'll have to do the right thing and put it down. Put on a pained expression and maybe even hesitate a second. At least that's what they do in the movies.

It's tradition to honor the dead, and the undead like to die again in unique fashion. Forget the usual shotgun or axe and get creative. How about a corkscrew? That could be interesting. I hear lawnmowers make good weapons too.

Face it, no one likes a genocidal maniac. But if we lose a few bad eggs in a zombie apocalypse, well, that simply can't be helped.
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Title: Team Tourney
Posted: July 10, 2007 (09:05 PM)
I noticed that we had a number of newcomers and rare visitors who did not get drafted for the Team Tournament. I just wanted to get all sentimental for a moment and tell you not to take it too hard. The limits on teams are there for a reason. We don't want to wear out the judges too badly after all. That's a lot of reviews to plow through.
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Title: Overhauling the MMO: Part 1
Posted: July 09, 2007 (05:13 PM)





Everyone seems to be split when considering the future of MMOs. On one side of the debate, the cash and time investments required of gamers mean that only a handful of high-profile games can succeed. On the other side, MMOs are still getting their bearings and we have only begun to see their potential. I fall into the latter camp, but don’t call me an optimist just yet. If there is one thing that can kill the genre, it’s a lack of variety.

Small, independent MMOs can be surprisingly diverse, but looking back at the larger titles that rose above flavor-of-the-month status, they don’t seem all that unique. I have played numerous MMOs, including Ultima Online, Everquest I and II, Final Fantasy XI, and World of Warcraft to name a few. Frankly, I am getting sick of swinging swords, killing kobolds, grinding for experience, and pizza delivery questing. Every addition to the scene inevitably touts something like revolutionary combat or an innovative leveling system, but in the end, it always feels like the same old song with a few tweaks thrown in for good measure.

It’s time to throw out the conventions and overhaul the MMO.

Setting

It’s not hard to see why the realm of medieval fantasy has captured the imaginations of people around the world. It’s a place where heroes don’t drop bombs from behind a computer. They gloriously sweep through the battlefields with finely-honed skills. The adventurous can pack their bags, forget about rent and mortgages, and survive on wit and ingenuity. Mysteries abound and myth becomes reality. It’s a great escape from the 9-5 drudgery of adding numbers, folding shirts, or waiting tables. Medieval fantasy is a wonderful setting with amazing possibilities, but it’s only one of countless worlds to be explored.

You wouldn’t know it by looking at the top MMOs though. Games like World of Warcraft, Lineage, and The Lord of the Rings Online have their distinctive attractions, but they share very common roots. When did medieval fantasy become the be-all to end-all setting? Why not a space station, an exotic alien world, a wild-west frontier, or even an urban setting? Some have argued that sales figures prove that medieval fantasy is what people want. More likely, it’s because few developers are willing to leave the path and venture into territories of uncharted profitability.

A few have tried, but most of the resulting games were too broken or poorly designed to stand a chance. Auto Assault, with its post-apocalyptic world and car combat, is a poster child for experimentation, but it is also a prime example of broken gameplay. Anarchy Online went the sci-fi route, but it was only a cosmetic change. You can call a swirling blue light “nanotechnology,” but it’s still magic in my book. The Matrix Online and City of Heroes used modern, urban landscapes, and while City of Heroes was entertaining, neither used the city for much more than a backdrop. Where do all of those citizens sleep at night?

Altering the appearance of a setting is not enough. Players must be able to interact with it in a way that makes sense. If there is a bus shelter, there should be a bus driving by. Even better, let players ride that bus. If there is a door, let players open, close, lock, or even barricade it. Just imagine the new strategies for PVP that such a simple interaction would create. When developers step back and examine potential interactions, as opposed to transposing old gameplay mechanics, it opens the gate for experiences we had only imagined.

EVE Online is an excellent example of an MMO that employs its setting in a unique way, even though that setting is technically nothing. EVE Online could have been a generic space-shooter filled with a galaxy of dogfighters. Instead, developer CCP asked how a pilot might actually make a living in space. You can still try to live out your Cowboy Bebop fantasies, but the real money lies in trading, transporting goods, and mining. It might sound boring on paper, but the constant betrayals, shifting alliances, and get-rich-quick schemes created by players have made EVE Online a veritable underdog of the genre.

If nothing else, the continuing success of EVE Online and City of Heroes proves that not everyone wants to drink mead and run around in a loincloth. Many gamers crave something new, with the attention to quality and detail afforded other high-profile games. World of Warcraft blew the charts away with 8 million+ subscribers and now everyone wants a piece of the action, but mimicry is not the way to get noticed. Instead of trying to tackle the giant or walk in its footsteps, developers should be taking the next turn to see what is waiting in the distance.
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Title: Jack Thompson nickname
Posted: June 24, 2007 (03:43 PM)
In case you haven't figured it out by now, Jack Thompson is a media-hound. The man doesn't care about things like credibility or responsibility, so long as his pompous face keeps appearing on TV. The man obviously wants to be famous. The problem, is that every time he shows up, forums everywhere light up with "Jack Thompson this, Jack Thompson that," giving the man even more recognition. What gamers really need is good nickname to call this prick from now on. Something suitably demeaning of course. Any suggestions?
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Title: Resident Evil 4 continued...
Posted: June 11, 2007 (06:23 PM)
My previous post got buried so I made a new one to respond to the questions.

I am in the castle, and just ran into the room with the giant bug hive.

As for bullets, problems have been few and far between because I've been smashing everything in sight and picking enemies off with the pistol whenever possible. My point was that someone who isn't as careful will definitely run into a problem. Then again, I suppose that's their fault. I still wish the arms dealer would sell ammo though. I purchased the magnum early on, only to find that there is almost no ammo available.

I would still say that it's my favorite RE game thus far, but I wish the game had stuck with the open areas seen early on.

Title: Quick impressions
Posted: June 09, 2007 (12:00 PM)
I plan on writing full reviews over the next week, but I felt like offering some brief opinions on the games that I'm currently playing.

Resident Evil 4 - Absolute, nerve-splitting intensity. The first two hours contain some of the most frantic moments of desperation I've ever experienced in a game. From there, it's a downhill slide into the same old Resident Evil formula - claustrophobic hallways lined with zombies, nonsensical puzzles, and ammo conservation.

God Hand - Forget the snobbish high-strung reviewers who couldn't see God Hand for what it is - pure, gaming enjoyment. Who cares if the story is negligible, or the level designs are bland? God Hand is a throwback to the good ol' days when all that mattered was beating the baddies into oblivion. For those that take the time, it also features a combat system to rival some of the best fighters out there.

Puzzle Quest - A fun game, if you like Bejeweled-style puzzles, and a lot of them. The story is paper-thin, the party system sucks, and the graphics are purely functional, but the character management system is to die for. Your repertoire of spells, stats, and items are all your own. And no losing battles because of random "misses."

Touch the Dead - Because it has zombies, this game defaulted to my "must buy" list. Sadly, my beloved undead didn't receive the attention they so deserve. It's an enjoyable game in spurts, but the levels drag on and on and on. Then, when you die, you get to do almost all of it over again.
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Title: Halo 2, Windows Live, and the Future of PC Gaming
Posted: May 21, 2007 (07:26 PM)
Every online PC gamer has to answer the same question. Do you pay to play, or do you play for free? It’s a powerful question that literally determines the games you play, but sooner or later, it may not be your decision to make. Subscription-based MMOs are some of the hottest tickets in town, and success always brings in the copycats. This is especially true in gaming, where the smallest ripple can quickly become a tidal wave.

If you play Battlefield, Command & Conquer, Guild Wars, or any number of other free, online games, you might be wondering what subscription-based MMOs have to do with you. Just take a look at World of Warcraft. With low-ball figures of 8 million subscribers each paying $13, Blizzard is pulling in over $104,000,000 every month. That is a lot of zeroes, and they have not gone unnoticed. If nothing else, World of Warcraft has almost single-handedly proven just how lucrative the online PC market can be.

On May 22, 2007, Halo 2 will drop for the PC, along with the debut of Microsoft’s new online gaming venue, Windows Live. While online play will still be free through the Silver Membership, the full-featured Gold Membership for $49.99/year will offer multiplayer achievements, TrueSkill matchmaking, and cross-platform play with the Xbox 360 (beginning with Shadowrun, May 29, 2007). You will still have the choice to pay or not, but for how long? Microsoft isn’t exactly known for missing an opportunity for profit. After all, this is the company that won’t let you play Halo 2 without first upgrading to Windows Vista – perhaps the most gamer-unfriendly operating system this side of Unix.

Windows Live may remain free in the years to come, or it may be step one of a larger plan. I simply do not know. One thing that I am certain of is the precedent being set. Online PC gaming is like a vast desert with a tremendous oil reserve lurking beneath the surface. After that first hole is drilled, it shouldn’t be long before others start staking their claims. It is fully possible that we will even see individual games charging monthly fees. The initial cries of “foul” would be deafening, but I know a number of people who would pay $5, $7, or even $10 a month just to play Battlefield 2.

It may be hard to imagine that game developers and publishers would simply roll over on their loyal fans and start charging for online play. As gamers though, we often forget that our hobby is also a business. Xbox Live and MMOs have shown that there are millions of people willing to play for online gaming, so it almost seems unfair to criticize any companies that decide to pursue a pay-to-play system in the future. Perhaps we should simply be thankful for the free online play that many game companies have offered thus far. Just because they’ve been picking up the tab all these years does not mean that we’re entitled to the same treatment forever.

On one hand, a pay-to-play system can offer gamers numerous benefits such as matchmaking, heavier restrictions on cheating, and stable servers. On the other hand, most gamers don’t have the good fortune of an unlimited budget. Additional charges mean that gamers will have fewer funds to take chances on new titles, making it more difficult for lesser-known developers to stake their claim. As for Windows Live in particular, who will determine which games make the cut and how downloadable content will be handled? We can’t decide the route that game companies will take in the future, but regardless of which side you stand on, it will be your dollars that determine the outcome.

Back to HonestGamers.com
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Title: Evil Information
Posted: May 13, 2007 (11:24 AM)
You may have noticed a particular someone recently touting the supposed superiority of the Sega Genesis. The latest "proof" in this fiasco arrived in the form of sales figures, but did this someone provide sources for these figures? Absolutely not, giving him free reign to write any number that will give the desired effect.

To counter, I will provide sales figures that I have run across recently. If you're interested in obtaining the exact figures for yourself, I encourage you to visit PCVS Console and Wikipedia as starting points for your research.

Commonly Held Sales Totals 2005:
118.69 GB
101.73 PS
81.39 PS2
65.74 GBA
61.78 NES
49.02 SNES
32.93 N64
30.75 Genesis
19.90 XBox
18.02 GC
10.60 DC
9.26 Saturn
8.65 Game Gear
2.84 DS
0.51 PSP

Notice the position of the SNES?
Someone out there is just a few seconds from flaming me and these sales figures. Just remember, I never said they were perfectly valid - just commonly held.
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