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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: Truce in the Trenches
Posted: May 01, 2007 (08:53 AM)
Most gamers don't strike me as neo-hippies in the making. They don't want to imagine all the people getting along in a world of incense and peppermint. They want bloodshed. The console wars are still in full swing, and a happy jaunt through any gaming forum can quickly become an exercise in dodging flaming insults and sidestepping opinionated landmines. Innocent topics about the coolest characters or the best online games are turning into all-out battles with Blu-Ray discs cutting the air, 360s marching over the wounded, and Wiimotes pelting hapless bystanders.

As a veteran with three tours of duty under my belt, I remember the struggles of the past. I was there when Nintendo and Sega duked it out, when Sony dared to stand against the hierarchy, and Microsoft muscled in like a Sherman tank. Once again, gamers are picking sides and declaring their champions of the latest in a long line of console wars. As for me, I say that enough is enough. I will trudge through the trenches, alone if I have to, and raise the white flag for all to see.

Hey, I see you taking aim over there, but hold on a second. There's nothing wrong with a little friendly debate, but when two grown men who haven't seen the inside of a shower this month threaten to throw down Yu-Gi-Oh! style, somebody really needs to step in. Certain people are going out of their way to harass and insult fellow gamers, even spreading online rumors about Wii shipments so they can laugh at those standing in line the next morning. Why do so many gamers need one system to be better than the others? This isn't Highlander. There can be more than one.

It is no secret that competition in business breeds innovation. As gamers, the customers with buying power, we are the ones to benefit. If you want to have some fun, do an internet search for "If Nintendo had their way." If Sega and NEC hadn't given Nintendo a few shoves around the playground, you might still be huddled over an SNES playing the latest iteration of Super Ultimate Street Fighter 2 Twin-Turbo Championship Mix 5. Okay, that's a bit of a stretch. Still, when one company holds a monopoly on an industry, change isn't usually the order of the day.

Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft all survived, but the previous console war had one prominent casualty. Sega will always be remembered as one of the major power-players in gaming history. They strove for innovation like few other companies. They were early adopters of the disc format, analog control, voice-recognition, and online gaming. The implementation of these technologies was questionable, and Sega fizzled due to a lack of must-have titles. Still, one has to wonder if modern-gaming would be the same without Sega's guiding push.

It was not too long ago that some naysayers even forecast the end of Nintendo's place in the console market. The Nintendo brand, once synonymous with gaming, was a joke to all but the most committed fans. Hardcore gamers turned to the PS2 and Xbox, while the GameCube was cast aside as a kid's toy. Imagine if Nintendo had thrown in the towel. Wii would just be a blueprint in the garbage, and what could potentially be the evolution of gaming, just an empty pipedream.

I am not saying that everyone should run out and buy all three systems (good luck with the Wii). After all, I have bills and rent to pay as well. Gamers should not be facing off and insulting their fellow gamers based on a choice of system. If it's meant to fail, it'll happen with or without your help. Instead, we should be glad that we have such choices to make, that we have three diverse console options, and that our pastime will continue to grow. The next time you hassle your friend or sibling for buying a different system, remember, you now get to play two different systems for the price of one.

As for the rest of you, if diversity and advancement aren't enough reasons to keep your mouths shut, I hope your system loses.
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Title: 360 Elite
Posted: April 29, 2007 (11:11 PM)
In case you missed it, the Xbox 360 Elite is officially on the market for $479.99. Not only does the system ditch the fluffy white color in favor of a simple and sleek black, it packs a 120GB hard drive and HDMI compatibility. This means more room for music, downloads, and the sharpest image possible for that new HDTV sitting on your entertainment center. Let's not forget that it simply looks badass.

I like the idea behind the 360 Elite, but I'm sure that a lot of people who bought a regular 360 package a few months ago aren't so happy. Now they have to decide whether or not their system is good enough, or if they should sell and throw down the extra cash for an upgrade. At best, they could purchase the 120GB hard drive for an additional $179.99, but even that's not exactly an optimal situation.

With three different 360 packages sitting on store shelves, Microsoft likes to claim that it's all in the name of providing gamers with options. I'm more inclined to believe that "options" is just a spin-doctored way of saying, "We're indecisive." Just about every gamer out there realized what a joke the Core was. Then the complaints flew around regarding the small hard drive and lack of HDMI outputs. Microsoft responded.

Console games are supposed to be the simple solution to PC gaming. You don't need to worry about compatibility or upgrades. Just plug and play. I don't think anyone wants to see a rerun of the Turbo Grafx-16. The system had some great games, but the add-ons were out of control. Figuring out how to get a complete system literally requires a guide.

I don't forsee the Xbox 360 getting to that point, but still, offering three different packages seems excessive. As a gamer, I feel that everyone should be able to walk into a store, pick up a box, and go home feeling confident in the fact that they have a full-fledged gaming system. We have enough choices to make when it comes to determining which brand to buy. Do we really need to add "which version" to the list of considerations, or are we actually getting just what we wanted?

Title: Toss me some ideas.
Posted: April 12, 2007 (09:40 AM)

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Versus Mode will be coming back shortly with some definite improvements. I'll be out of town for a wedding for a few days, but throw out some game suggestions while I'm gone. This time, everything is fair game.

On the gaming front, here's something to get excited about for fans of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance on Xbox 360. 4 new heroes and 4 playable villains. If you haven't tried it yet, at least give it a rent. It's one of the best beat em ups in years.

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Title: For the end
Posted: April 11, 2007 (10:13 AM)
First off, it's snowing outside, and I don't mean a few flurries. It's a snowstorm that's supposed to drop 9 inches worth of slushy snow on the ground. Unbelievable... Again, this is what I get for living in Wisconsin.

Speaking of inhospitable climates, I've been running through the episodes of Man vs Wild. Bear Grylls just might be my new hero. With The Crocodile Hunter's unfortunate death, Grylls stepped in at the perfect time. After all, someone has to teach us city kids how to escape quicksand and squeeze water from elephant turds. Those are useful skills to have. In reality, I am jealous. I like to think that if the apocalypse came (with zombies of course) I'd be one of the few to survive. In truth, I'd probably end up drinking some tainted water, get dysentery, and die from dehydration. All that's gonna change with Bear Grylls as my wise, and slightly crazy guide.
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Title: Decisions decisions
Posted: April 10, 2007 (06:53 PM)
Do I keep my Gamefly account or cancel it? On one hand, they carry handheld games and old games that are nearly impossible to find. On the other hand, they have a two week turnaround time on deliveries (two games a month).
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Title: PC building blues
Posted: April 05, 2007 (09:29 PM)
I think I fried my brain shopping for a motherboard. I need an ATX board with an IEEE 1394 port and full compatibility with ATI video cards. That leaves me with the ultra-finnicky 965 Intel boards that require very specific RAM. I searched for RAM on Newegg.com and found a measly five choices. At least it takes the guesswork out of RAM shopping.
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Posted: April 04, 2007 (08:57 AM)
Just a little something for your viewing pleasure.

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Title: Scraping bottom
Posted: March 26, 2007 (10:31 AM)
A new shipment of Hamsterz for the DS came into work a few days ago. As usual I shook my head and sighed in disgust at the little hamster holding knitting needles, but something new caught my eye. It was a little pink bubble with a message, "98%, Family Friendly Gaming."

You guys have got to check out the website. The reviews are terrible, but that's just half the fun. I would love to meet the writers behind the site. It sounds like you could cuss and make them faint. Check out this section from a Motorstorm review, "In my foray into the online world, I could not find one fellow racer who was versed in driving clean, or turning the other cheek." Now that is just taking things too far.

Video games are in the realm of imagination, and still the reviewers can't let their hair down. What do they do when they have a violent fantasy? Chop off a finger or two as punishment? I know I know. Different people have different standards and morals, yada yada yada. I can understand if you don't want to play the Rockstar games because of questionable content, but Final Fantasy X? That's just screwed up.

Link to Family Friendly Gaming
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Posted: March 18, 2007 (10:05 AM)
Incredible manliness.

Something entirely different...

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Posted: March 17, 2007 (06:34 PM)
I want to tear out someone's eyes with a spork.

I'm at work.
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Title: Warhammer 40K
Posted: March 12, 2007 (10:06 PM)
Any Warhammer 40K players here? I'm trying to get rid of some Imperial Guard pieces, all still in the package.

Ratling Snipers D47-D42 (5 in blister)
Stormtroopers D47-D41 (3 in blister)
Stormtroopers 8032H (2 in blister)
Steel Legion Lieutenant 8034P (1 in blister)
Stormtrooper Sergeant 8033J (2 in blister)
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Title: Ebay shenanigans
Posted: March 12, 2007 (12:37 PM)
Nothing but losses on Ebay today.

JVC X-eye - It's a Genesis and Sega CD in one. I've been wanting one of these for a year now. The shipping cost was pretty outrageous, so I had to cut myself off with a losing bid of $45.

Lords of Thunder (Sega CD) - Would have been cool to have, but I wouldn't have anything to play it on anyway.
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Title: Versus Mode
Posted: March 09, 2007 (02:28 PM)
Versus Mode: Round 4 is open, and if you don't like the game, there is something seriously wrong with you. From the incomparable Kenta Cho, here is Torus Trooper.

Link to Versus Mode: Round 4

Even if you haven't been playing for the previous rounds, you're more than welcome to join. In fact, I demand it. Quit wussing out or I'll remove your manhood with my rockets.
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Posted: March 07, 2007 (11:06 AM)
With the RIAA trying to crack down on music piracy, I get to hear 50+ year old men calling in to radio talk shows, and chatting about "this generation" in the aisles at Best Buy. Yesterday, one guy was looking for a Patty Griffin CD, but it was missing from the shelf. His friend chimed in with something to the effect of, "It's not like this kid even knows who she is. He probably doesn't even pay for his music." I looked at him, thinking, I just want to punch you in the neck. Just because I'm not past my prime doesn't mean that I don't know jack about music. I can probably name more artists than there are miles on your 25-mph-driving Cadillac. Can you spell Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's name off the top of your head. I can. Can you name even one song from Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Outkast, or Coldplay? Maybe you should get to know me and my generation before incriminating us.

Then there was the radio caller who said that "this generation" (there it is again), is morally bankrupt and thinks nothing of stealing from artists. This generation? Let's talk about your generation for a second. Have you ever copied a record or cassette tape onto another cassette? That, my good man, is piracy. How about using a VCR to tape a movie from the TV, or to make a copy of a rental? Again, piracy. What about the numerous middle-aged men who keep asking me how to get their Itunes videos on DVD. Could it be? You guessed it. Piracy.

Personally, I don't approve of media-piracy. I saw how it nearly destroyed the Hong Kong film industry, and it's scary (in a famous example, by the time the Young and Dangerous 4 premiere was over, you could purchase bootlegs across the street). At the same time, I have to admit to using Limewire, and Napster before it went subscription. I never felt bad about it though, because I was using them as a way to try before buying. The irony of my ethical grandstanding is that nearly all my music, movies, and some games, were bought second-hand. How do I justify it? I like getting cheap stuff.

Computers and the internet have changed the world to drastic degrees. Torrents of information flow through every crack. From cassette tapes to P2P servers, piracy will happen. Give me ten minutes and I can build a simplistic website for you to illegally download a few albums. Or maybe I should just email them to you. Perhaps trying to stop piracy with lawsuits is not the answer. The way consumers view the media industry and its products have shifted, yet the industry expects the methods of distribution to stay relatively intact. I don't have all the solutions, but perhaps it is time to rethink the way media is paid for and distributed.

Title: Goodbye Azeroth
Posted: March 04, 2007 (12:12 PM)
I pulled the plug on World of Warcraft this morning. I sold my gear, sent the money to some friends, cancelled my subscription, and even deleted my characters so there is no chance for me to go back again.

WOW is a very good game, but I was not having fun anymore. I could play for hours and hours without excitement. It felt more like routine than anything else. I've been getting more enjoyment out of going for high scores on free games, or popping in Guitar Hero for a few songs.
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