You are not signed into a user account. Please return to this page once you are signed into your free account for additional options.
Title: Fuck it... ZIPP VERSUS SASHANAN THE ULTIMATE MATCH
Posted: August 03, 2009 (12:03 PM)
You really thought I'd let you have Sashanan all to yourselves? Next round, I'm not fighting anyone on Felix's team. I'm claiming Sashanan as my opponent, as I WANT A PIECE OF HIM!!!!
Sashanan, prepare yourself. You have made one too many slights 'gainst my character and now you shall go down for it.
Title: Zipp's Final Confession
Posted: July 31, 2009 (11:54 PM)
A dramatic title, no?
As those of you who regularly read my reviews (and I thank you for it), you'll have traced some sort of tragedy involving a woman in my past. To be a bit more specific, I was married once for five years between the ages of 19-24. Thankfully, we never signed papers, but we lived as a married couple for that length of time, during which our relationship deteriorated, culminating in a failed threesome and ultimately a break up.
There came a point in my and Shannon's relationship when I realized we weren't salvageable. I couldn't move on with my life while I was with her, there was enough water under our bridge to flood New York, and yet I couldn't leave her. We were stuck together, and we'd be stuck unless our relationship ended quickly, some might say even emotionally violently, like a blow from an emotional baseball bat.
Such was the point at which I wrote a script about a man living alone at the end of the world with a manequinn he believes is his dead wife. The script was titled "The Final Confession of Hugh Mann."
Now, a year and a half later, I'm making it. It is 10 minutes long, has a budget of $5,000, and will be shot later this year, with plans on it making the circuits at Sundance and Cannes. This is a seminal moment in my life, and I wanted to share it with you all.
Title: Team Tournament Week 6: Preview!
Posted: July 31, 2009 (11:41 PM)
Jerec seemed to take great joy in announcing how much I messed up on predicting a loss for Sashanan last week.
I have one thing to say about last week. I was right in all the right places and wrong in all the right places, as well.
May that trend continue.
Match One: Team Emp (3-2) vs Team Felix (2-3)
EmP and Zig
Again I have to hit EmP over the head with the edit-stick. There’s a period missing in the first paragraph, as well as other small errors throughout the review. Aside from this, EmP’s review of Quake III is exactly the kind of review I like but also the kind of review that I’m not sure will perform well in the TT. It’s more of a history, really, than a review, describing a playing experience rather than a game. As such, it feels a little awkward when the weapons and maps are thrown in, especially as they come at the end, like an after thought. This feels like a great article watered down to fit the review format and, historically, that hasn’t done well here.
Zigfried starts off with another thing that has historically done poorly, and that is coloured text. It’s not even a pretty colour, though that comes from someone who’s colour-blind. Resident Evil 5 doesn’t stand out as his best review. There are some things that immediately jump out at me as big no-nos (mentioning the brainwashed buddy may seem harmless, but believe me, most RE fans would eviscerate Zig for that spoiler) and there is a general sense that Zig is giving an overview of the game’s plot rather than telling us how it handles. I like his segment on racism as it very quickly difuses the arguments for such nonsense. Indeed, I like most of his points, but this seems to be a review that waffles around as Zig’s opinion of the game keeps changing from luke warm to pure love, and that makes it feel inconsistent.
EmP may not have written a review in the truest sense of the word, but I think the judges will resonate with its through line, a story of kids returning to their childhood to find it intact. It’s hard to beat that, no matter the review’s faults.
Dark Eternal and Felix
Dark Eternal’s review starts off with a bang. It’s a great introduction, loved the line about just wanting to bash shit with a giant ape. Then he gets a little further in and resorts to listing problems with the game and everything starts to feel a little stale. More confounding is his ending, in which he states that the game isn’t all that bad, nevermind the fact that he’s just spent an entire review bashing it. Thankfully, the whole thing is complimented by a large amount of wit and humour that keeps things flowing.
Felix’s Panzer Dragoon lacks Dark Eternal’s oomph. I remember reading this when it first came out, one of the first reviews I caught here, actually. At the time I thought it was a highly engaging review which captured the imagination and showed a lot of enthusiasm. I still think it is, but reading it alongside DE’s quicker wit and spunkier presentation also lends it a slow feeling that may not serve Felix well in this match up.
I’m really torn on this one. I think technically Felix’s review is the better of the two, but DE’s is a more fun read. It really will depend on the judge’s moods, but as I’m obligated to make a guess, I’m gonna go with DE.
Dragoon of Infinity and Randxian
I have long loved Dragoon’s review of Stalin versus the Martians. I love the fact that he comes at it with a desire for kookiness in one hand and a scepter of reality in the other. Watching him beat this game to a pulp with said scepter is very satisfying, because too many bad games have gotten off clean based on their “kooky” factor. I applaud Dragoon for finally pulling this one out.
And it was a good thing he did, because Randxian delivers a solid review with a lot of enthusiasm and a very clear stance on One Piece: Baseball (though I have to dock him points for the Bull Durham reference). He also does something I love to see in reviews, which is he points out who is going to like this (in this case, fans of simple sports game). By the end of the review you feel like you've played this game. It’s not going to beat Stalin versus the Martians, but randxian should be happy to know he’s improving very quickly.
Team predition: though I predict a sweep for team EmP, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a close win, either, based on the closeness of some of these reviews. Still, either way, I think EmP will pull out ahead on this one, and Dragoon will be the star of the match.
Team Janus (1-4) vs Team Dagoss (1-4)
Janus and Dagoss
In the midst of a flurry of humorous reviews and bashes, we get a very serious, compelling, look at what sounds like a beautiful game. Janus gives his review just the right feel to compliment A Fading Melody. The pictures are great, giving a sense of the game without telling us about it (which is the writing's job). The one problem is that there’s a lot he wants to say about the game, and by the time you get to his complaints about the gameplay you’re ready for something a bit more spunky. Instead you get “neither-here-nor-there” comments on how the gameplay "is rigid, but not really bad..." "it’s rough around the edges, but engaging..." these kind of comments don’t add anything to the review. Better to see would've been a single paragraph saying the good things about the platforming (the unconventional approach, especially, should get in there) and then a conclusion. Because it sounds like Janus didn’t mind the roughness of the gameplay, but was afraid others might and so gave it a lower score.
Dagoss’ response to Janus isn’t interesting enough to tackle Fading Melody. A large part of this is the game choice. From the start, Ultima sounds like a boring game. Words like “common place” and a lengthy intro on the history of RPGs do little to break the tedium of a review which captures, a little too well, the staleness of the game it covers. It doesn’t have a chance against Janus’ deeper, more emotional, fare.
Disco and Wolfqueen
Disco’s review of Knight's of the Old Republic II is short for a game you could probably go on for quite some time about, and I compliment that. The trick, with this kind of review, is to pick your complaints and compliments wisely, and Disco does that. He doesn’t make the best case for some of his points being included, even writing off a fairly large last one as a “personal dislike.” Still, a very good review. Actually, the only problem I see with it is that it doesn't have anything particularly memorable about it. It makes an informative read for someone trying to figure out whether to buy the game, but the TT often requires something with a bit more flair to grab the win.
I’ve already stated that I like Wolfqueen’s review quite a bit. It met with a somewhat lukewarm response from the site, but I think it captures the insanity of Psychonauts quite well, and its new intro should hopefully appease some of the naysayers. The thing is, it really shows an enthusiasm for the game and continually drives home that enthusiasm with great examples of in-game scenarios. It does wander a bit at times, which might cost it the win.
Now, will WQ beat Disco? That’s the real question, and it’s a very tough one to answer. I’m gonna bank on the fact that Wolf Queen's review is more memorable and predict a win for her.
Radical Dreamer and Turducken
I hate Tom Clancy works with a passion. Not because of their gameplay, but because of their crushing patriotism. I own Splinter Cell, but I’ve only ever played it once because I couldn’t stand the whole “Middle East is evil for no reason” argument the story makes. Today, I don’t remember much of the gameplay. Radical Dreamer’s review makes me wish I did, because he makes it sound pretty fun. That said, Radical reviews are starting to all blend together for me a bit, which is both good and bad. Good, because they’re never weak reviews, and it shows consistency that he can maintain his style. Bad, because they don’t do anything to really grab a reader’s attention and make him remember the review as differentiated from another wrtier.
What is it with the wishy-washy this go around? Nearly everyone (myself included) has submitted a review that at some point says “it doesn’t ruin, however...” or some equivalent line that makes them seem apologetic for the reviews they’ve written. Still, Turducken has nothing to apologize for despite not showing up this round. This is an entertaining, hard hitting, quick, read... much like the Ninja's it describes. However, it does lack Radical’s thouroughness and technical prowress, and in this case I’m gonna lean to the left side of the brain and give the win to Radical.
Team Prediction: Another very close match up. Captain Janus is the star of this one, as he easily sweeps the victory from Dagoss. Radical and Disco are harder to call, though I’ve put my money behind Radical which gives Janus’ team their much-needed win.
Team Will (2-3) vs Team OD (4-1)
Zipp and Overdrive
I went for a looser, more casual, review on this Anniversary despite some fears that Overdrive might sweep me with a work of technical genius. Despite it’s looseness, I actually spent a lot of time crafting it to include more technicalities than it seems. I actually cover quite a lot of information about the game and succinctly deliver what I think makes it not work. I end with its one saving grace (“it’s Tomb Raider"). It’s all very calculated (if I do say so myself). However, it may be too calculated, coming off either too loosely (damn my clever disguises) or too contrived (I did go back and take out some of the more ludicrous fare for just this reason... thank you to True for pointing out some of them).
Overdrive comes at me with Parasite Eve, a review that flows nicely and has some really funny lines (especially if you’ve played the game... the date... ha ha ha). Overdrive doesn’t start off on the best of feet, though. His radio-talk intro is just the kind of thing I tried in my Syberia review, and the judges didn’t like it.
Still, Syberia won that match.
If Overdrive wins, it’s going to be because his review does technically right things, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say my review has a better intro/outro and will ultimately leave a slightly better flavour in a judge’s mouth. It could be the difference between apples and oranges, though.
Sashanan and Jason
Sashanan’s review of Hover Bovver has one of the most memorable intros of any review on the site. From there, it’s off like a firecracker, imbuing this silly, stupid, game with a prodigious amount of fun, making you feel like you’re a little drunk and playing a bad video game... and enjoying it! The line “Jim won’t mind if I borrow his mower,” is one of the classic lines of video game history and now of Honest Gamers... at least to my mind.
Jason’s review, by comparison, doesn’t quite cut it. It’s not that Jason’s look at King of Fighters is bad. As I’ve said before of Jason, he’s nothing if not consistent and this review is as proficient as any he’s written for the site. It examines its game thouroughly and with obvious investment by the author. It doesn’t let off the same bang as Sashanan’s, however. After all, there’s no irrate neighbors or angry pooches getting run over by lawn mowers. A weak choice of video game to go up against something as unique and goofy as Hover Bovver.
Will and Belisarios
Will finally writes a new review and it’s cause for us all to get pissed at him... if this is the kind of thing he’s capable of producing these days, then damn he’s been holding out on us this tournament. Will pens an excellent look at Star Trek: Anniversary that is simultaneously campy and informative, parodying the show while celebrating it at the same time (much like the most recent Trek film). This is a quick piece, meant to be enjoyed as a bite-sized snack. As such, it’s fairly light and doesn’t go much into gameplay mechanics. The judges might feel it’s a little too bite-sized, like those oddly named “fun size” candy bars you get at Halloween.
Belisarios answers right back with a killer review of Kendo Rage complete with pictures that do the review a lot of good. This one has as much pizzaz as it does emotion. It’s not a perfect review, though. It deviates in some strange places to talk about sequels, it leaves some things unexplained (like what makes the game feel hardcore... see the SNES paragraph), and there’s some basic spelling and grammatical issues. Without those, I would say it would be an unassailable win for Beli, but as is, his review may have a few too many unforgiveable blemishes.
This is an incredibly difficult prediction to attempt. I’m gonna side with my teammate, quoting as the reason the fact that, though short, it’s much better organized than Beli’s, due to the latter’s numerous issues within the review. It's also spunky and fun, and should bag Will a much awaited win.
Team Prediction: Sashanan turns out to be the star of this match, with a killer review about neighborly relations gone awry. Whether or not the rest of his team can ride on the same victorious boat is a little bit trickier to call, but I think there is a slight advantage in Zipp and Will’s favour that could mark a 3-0 sweep for Team Anniversary.
Team Suskie (4-1) vs Team Boo (3-2)
Suskie and Woodhouse
I think Suskie’s getting a little tired. This review of Invisible War is much less impressive than the other reviews he’s submitted for the tournament. At this point it seems silly to call anyone’s TT reviews less than good. No one in this tournament is submitting crap, and Suskie’s effort is far from it. But it’s long, and it doesn’t keep the interest of the reader in the same way his Shadow of the Collossus or Homeworld reviews did. It’s a very technical review. It gets the job done, but it does so with a monotone voice and without the hint of a smile... except for some excellent paragraphs in the middle involving the original Deus Ex and a brief snipe at Alex D's name.
Woodhouse delivers a much more spunky effort, beginning with a bang: “For a few short days, Officer Bob knew paradise.” Woodhouse picked a quirky game about a lone patrol man versus the world and wrote a fun review to go along with it. Suskie’s review is definitely deeper, but at this point in the tournament, I think the judges aren’t looking to leave shore so much for deeper waters. I think they're looking for the more colourful tide pools. We'll find out.
Aschultz and Espiga
Aschultz’s review of someone's pants is a little weak, The intro is very poorly worded and by the time you make your way through it, you’re a bit turned off. Then we’re given the usual list of things that are good and bad about the game with little flair and very basic transitions. Compared to some of Aschultz’s previous entries, this feels dated, and makes me wonder if it was one of his converted Gamefaqs reviews. By the end, it does seem to hit a stride a bit more, so maybe he just needed to go back and give it a good redraft.
Espiga follows with... well... I should note at this point that I hated Phantasy Star II. Fighting giant bugs for hours in non-descript dungeons was not my idea for fun. Espiga focuses on what most reviewers of this game do: the story and characters. Still, Espiga's trying to sum up an entire story in 800 or so words, and it comes off as awkward. I also dislike that he ends with a link, when he could easily have left it out.
I voted for Espiga last time on a much stronger review and was wrong, so this time I'm gonna go with Aschultz.
True and Blue
As Espiga showed us, reviewing an RPG is difficult. That said, I wish True had started a bit stronger in his review for Lunar. “I have many games from my past” hardly warrants an entire paragraph to itself. Ironically, for such short paragraphs, this review just won’t stop going. It drags on and on about the gameplay, story, and the characters until you begin to wonder if you ever need to play the game. Indeed, writing a review for an RPG IS hard, if only because there’s so much to cover. True falls into the trap of trying to cover it all, though his saving grace is his emotion. It's obvious he loves this game (so did my ex and everyone else I've ever met who played it), and that's always endearing.
On to Blueberry and... Jesus Christ, what the hell were you doing giving away the massive plot twist of Metal Gear Solid 2 without any warning in the first couple of paragraphs? The entire point of the game is to find that out at the end. If the judges have any sense of ethics, they will withhold the win from you for such an assinine slip in review-etiquette. That said, I agree with you 100% on the game’s suckitude and you grab all the right reasons for it being so crappy. But to begin with such praise for its story, fill the middle with such ire, and then end on a “meh” note is very off putting and not near what I’ve come to expect from the rides you’ve given me in previous reviews (last week’s in particular).
Still, though I think Blue’s should lose on principle, I was able to make it through his review on the first go while I had to keep stopping and restarting True’s because my attention wandered. Blue takes the win.
Team prediction: Ironically, one of the most awaited team matches of the season turns out to be the weakest of the week. Woodhouse stands out as the matche’s star, but it’s a light in a pit of unexpected darkness. Both of these teams came out very strong this year, maybe they are just getting tired? This win could go to either team, really, but I’m guessing it ends up in Boo’s lap.
Some Random Statistics!
Easiest match to call: Dragoon of Infinity vs Randxian
Toughest match to call: Zipp vs Overdrive and Will vs Belisarios
Best team match up: Team Will vs Team OD
MVP of the week: another tie, between Dragoon of Infinity and Sashanan
Favourite review: Sashanan’s Hover Bovver (what the hell does that title mean?)
Least favourite: Dagoss’ Ultima review, though Blueberry’s breach of conduct fills me with the most ire
If my predictions are at all stable, then this will turn out to be a real upset week in the tournament. Teams Overdrive and Suskie both have a very good chance of losing, while teams Will and Janus both look like they’ll come out with a win.
What this boils down to is a closing gap between Team Will and a shot at the finals and a more secure position for Team EmP. If this trend continues, Team OD could find themselves trading spots with Team Will for the finals.
That said, this really is Team Will's last shot. If they do manage to lose this week, then they can pretty much kiss the finals goodbye.
Title: Dead Space Redux
Posted: July 28, 2009 (01:58 PM)
A year after writing the original review and several months after removing it from the site, I give you my reworked version of Dead Space.
Title: Fat Princess this Thursday!
Posted: July 28, 2009 (01:51 PM)
I hope all of my fellow PS3 owners will be there to celebrate.
Title: Ahhhhhhhh! Splat!
Posted: July 27, 2009 (04:48 PM)
Tomb Raider Anniverary
It's my latest review. Enjoy.
Posted: July 25, 2009 (06:57 PM)
Did anyone see this film. I consistently hear it lauded as a "good" Uwe Boll film, which frankly baffles me. Anyone that can comment...?
Title: 3:00am and all is well (Disidia preview in here somewhere)
Posted: July 25, 2009 (04:13 AM)
I'm waiting for the glue to dry on my PSP, which had an unfortunate fall a few weeks ago which resulted in the (thankfully) cosmetic stripping bending in one spot. The system still works fine, but it was bugging me, so I'm attempting a fix.
In other news, it's been a day of gaming for me. Three games, in particular.
Jeanne d'Arc will fulfill my "J" requirement for this year's Alphaphon. It also happens to be one of the most entertaining games I've ever played, doing the impossible and being a fast paced (!) tactical war game.
God of War II will shortly be my "G" for the year, and as such, I'll keep comments here to a minimum except to say that, though it is one of the best action games I've ever played, it suffers massively from "middle child syndrome."
I've also checked out the demo for Final Fantasy Disidia (which fulfills no letter requirement). My thoughts on this one are... not so good. Certainly not as good as I'd hoped. The game plays like a painfully simplistic fighting game, yet lacks the charm of a Smash Brothers. I find the controls to be awkward, the on-screen attacks confusing, the graphics disappointing, and the fights to be simultaneously unpredictable and repetitive (if you can fathom that).
The gameplay uses mostly two buttons, one which raises your attack at the expense of your enemy's attack, and one which uses said attack value to deal damage. Each of these attacks changes based on which direction you're holding the analog stick, a style of move differentiation that I was never too keen on. It worked on the 2-D plane for Smash Brothers, but this is a fully 3-D game, and it feels awkward and clunky. Dodging, too, is a bit of a connundrum. It's easy enough to do, you hold the right trigger and move the analog stick. In fact, it's almost too easy, as you can spam it any time the opponent gets near and almost assuredly avoid damage (they can do the same thing). But it also tends to get messy when you're trying to focus on pulling off various specials by already moving the analog stick around. To then have to also concentrate on moving it for a dodge gets confusing fast.
Hit detection is very difficult to figure out, as many of the attacks have strange patterns (Cecil's got one he uses in mid air which flies all over the fucking place before doing a usually useless downward diagonal strike). Many was the time where I found Terra standing right next to Kefka and both of them using attacks that hit spaces twenty feet behind them. There's very few straight forward strikes and combos are difficult to figure out. Some moves seem to have them almost as an automatic effect. Others you have to be standing in the right spot and do some sort of quick time event.
That said, combos are pretty cool. I actually wish more of the game had been based around them. I think every hit you pull off should activate some sort of fast paced quick time event or button mashing sequence. It'd be a great way to show case cool FF moves without all the confusion of having to jiggle the analog stick while already using it to dodge and run around a 3-D environment. More importantly, it would be fun, the kind of fun we had playing Parappa the Rapper and other such games.
As if, the only thing that truly excites me about the title is seeing some of the older Final Fantasy characters (Cecil and Terra in particular) portrayed so accurately on a 3D scale. It's also cool to see the signature moves make a return. Seeing Kefka use Trine was a moment for me, as was seeing Terra transform into her Esper form.
But once the nostalgia wears off, I fear there's little here that recommends this title. On the plus side, it means less that I feel obligated to buy this Fall. I'm already on the band wagon for the following:
Uncharted 2 (oct)
Batman: Arkham Asylum (oct)
Title: Team Tournament Preview: Week 5!
Posted: July 24, 2009 (12:08 PM)
This week saw the sudden departure of Drella, our previous Swami of the previews. We wish him well in his troubles and wish for his quick return. Not one to let a grand tradition die, I've stepped up to the plate to take over his divination duties. It might not follow the same format (we all see the future in our own way) but it aspires to the same level of professionalism and random guessing.
Putting this together took me many hours, but it was a huge help to me in my own writing, getting to see a wide variety of reviews and forcing me to figure out why some of them work and why some don't. It's pushed me past my block on my coming review of Mytran Wars, which I should now have posted before the end of the weekend (though I think it's got embargo).
In any case, I definitely need to give a nod to Drella for doing this every week. I'll continue as long as he remains absent and I look forward to it at the same time that I acknowledge just how much work it is. Without Drella starting the trend, I never would've pushed myself to do it.
So you have my thanks.
The Frozen Fields of Creeping Death
Zigfried at Janus
Zigfried submits a review for Mid-Garts, a game I’ve heard tell of in old British gaming circles. The review has the usual Zig flair, but it seems a bit overblown, as have many of Zig’s reviews for this tournament. The transition from “I hate this game” to “this is great” is a difficult one and it effectively makes the review twice as long.
Janus has a chance here to blow Zig away with a short and precise review. Unfortunately, he takes a similarly lengthed approach in his review of Dead Rising. I like his focus on the crazed psychos of the game, but did he have to cover so many of them? By the time we’ve read the first two, we get the point: the guys are creepy in a classic horror way.
I think Zig wins out with a slightly more entertaining dissertation.
Randxian at Dreamer
Randxian’s review is a second draft, and it shows. The review is very polished, and has a nice balance going for it. Just as you’re beginning to feel tired of hearing about one aspect of the game, Randxian switches topics and you’re sated.
Dreamer, on the other hand, continues the tradition of Janus’ verbosity by delivering a lengthy Manhunt review. Actually, Dreamer’s review isn’t all that long, but it feels clunky. It has a very strong beginning and ending, but then it gets bogged down when it starts talking about mechanics. A point about the game forcing players to use stealth seems to take several paragraphs too many to state. This dampens the effect of finding out how bad the stealth controls are. Ultimately, I think this will cost him the win in favour of Randxian.
Felix at Disco
While I’m not a huge fan of Disco’s Mirror’s Edge review, it is short and spunky, and that gets props in any tournament. Overall, I don’t think people this tournament are being careful enough about the length of their reviews. Having been a judge in two tournaments, I can say that there reaches a point where you want to strangle anyone turning in something above a 1000 words and you want to hug anyone who turns in a 500 word review.
Felix’s review of some crazy Michael Jordan game may be longer, but it’s highly entertaining and packed with emotion. However, it’s also disappointingly sloppy. Some lines, especially early on, take multiple readings before they make sense. Like his last few reviews, Felix is doing the “highs and lows” versus “consistency."
This is a hard one to call. Felix's review definitely leaves you with more of an idea of what the game is actually like. Seeing as how this tournament has already had a Mirror's Edge review, I think the judges will be looking for something a bit more in depth from Disco and give the win to Felix.
Team prediction: Janus’ deathly creepers come close to choking the final vestiges of life out of Zigfried and his team, but ultimately the vines are put into deep freeze with a 3-0 loss.
Emp at Dagoss
Emp really needs to start reading his reviews before he submits them. Apparently he’s been failing to do this since at least 2008. This line in particular baffles me: “...that crap on you from the safety to the top of the screen.” Safety to the top of the screen? Aside from this, though, EmP writes some damn good reviews. His approach to the game is refreshing, taking us one at a time through all the levels the game has in order to show us just how little it really has to offer... except in the way of pain.
Dagoss, on the other hand, turns in Never Winter Nights 2, a review that is about as entertaining as the game itself and has about as many bugs (such as a list near the end that does Dagoss no favours). I chuckled a bit at his introduction, once I discovered what he was doing, but then I quickly fell back into apathy as the rest of the review took its sweet time making any points. In the Team Tournament, one thing that has come out quite clearly from the judges is that they like reviews to get around to the point. If the judges are at all consistent, they’ll take one look at this and give a unanimous 3-0 in favour of EmP.
Dark Eternal at Wolfqueen
Again, I don’t think the value of brevity can be stressed enough in a tournament where the judges have to read 24 reviews a week for 11 weeks. That said, there is such a thing as cutting yourself too short, and I think Dark Eternal crosses that line with his Loom review. Just as you’re beginning to get interested in what he’s talking about, the review is over... much like the game he’s describing.
On his heels is Wolf Queen, who annoyingly beat me last week with a particularly cunning review that she was obviously given by the devil himself. Her review this week is much less cunning (though it ironically does have a screenshot involving “Natural Blonde Killer...” perhaps a secret message to EmP?). Compared with last week’s enthusiasm, the Getaway seems tired.
Dark Eternal’s review may have felt cut short, but it had a lot of emotion behind it, and in such a pairing I think that will nab him his first win of the season.
Dragoon of Infinity at Golden Vortex
Dragoon’s come out fairly strong this year, and he continues that trend with a review of Bubble Bobble that is as endearing and cute as the game itself. While it could have used a good once-over for grammatical consistency and maybe a “read-out-loud” to fix some tough sentences, it’s a fun review to read, and it does two things the TT judges like: it’s got emotion and it’s got style.
Golden Vortex, on the other hand, does two things the judges hate: it’s long and it takes forever to get to the point. By now I’ve discovered, in my own writing, that lengthy introductions never do a review any favours. It’s much better to leap head first into criticism or praise or to at least talk about something from the actual game. Beginning with a history lesson is cliché and, more importantly, fairly uninteresting. I think the judges will agree.
Team prediction: It turns out that wolves, whirlpools, and dudes named Dave, while all individually cool, don’t do much for each other when thrown into the same room with a bunch of natural born killers. EmP’s regularly-born assassins go home with a jar of water, a pelt, and a dude named Dave’s scalp for a 3-0 win.
Team Verbose Eloquence slaughters Boo. Next.
The Enigmatic Vagina
Belisarios at Suskie
Belisarios’ beastly review isn’t BAD, per se, but it feels unpolished. The conversational tone would be nice except that it doesn’t really contribute anything of import to our knowledge of the game, making this feel more like “an evening with Belisarios.” Not an evening poorly spent, but not what we paid for, either.
Suskie is the golden child of Honest Gamers, it seems. I have to admit to being a little peeved at not even getting off a single hit against him in our last bout. He’s certainly found his stride lately. Homeworld is a review that captures the feel of the game without needing to go into boring technicalities like controls. Usually such a review would leave one feeling like they know nothing about how the game plays, but that isn’t the case here. Indeed, if I had to pick a metaphor for this review, it would be the quiet infinity of space, punctuated by the occasional laser shot and exploding ship. There’s a certain peaceful quality to this review that is countered by a sharing of Suskie’s pain when he describes losing a ship and his nervousness when he describes a claustrophobic space fight.
No, Suskie isn’t losing his crown this week, no matter Bel's enthusiasm to fight him.
Overdrive at True
Another thing that can’t be over valued in this tournament: new material. it’s the wave Suskie’s team has ridden to success, and Overdrive is coming at them with the same strategy. His review of Challenge of the Dragon is entertaining and well written and takes an interesting approach as it focuses on a gaming system as its overall through-line.
True answers OD with a new review of his own, an absolutely fabulous review of some terrible viking game. Those words should never be allowed to go together (“terrible” and “viking game,” not “True” and “Fabulous”) and True is on that point like a whore on... well, nevermind that. This is an engaging, funny, review that nicely counters OD’s excellent effort. If I had to pick one between OD and True, I’d have to say True’s is a little funnier, a little flashier, and packs a little more oomph into its 1000n or so words.
Venter at Schultz
If one word describes Venter, it’s consistency. His reviews are never quite on the level of a Suskie or a Zigfried at their best, yet he never fails to deliver a solid review with no mistakes and no fooling around. And he’s got 500 of them. He easily earns his title as the creator of Honest Gamers. I would actually label him an under-acknowledged dark knight of this tournament, as he’s come out strong and stayed so, defeating his opponents, for the most part, with ease. As for this review? It's consistent with what I've just said. What else did you expect?
The only way to take down a Venter review is to do something unexpected. Schultz’s review of Decathlon chooses an unexpected title, at least, and it has some cool approaches to the game, really creating the atmosphere of child hood. He’s also gone in and changed the review quite a bit since my earlier critique of it, which is always nice to see. Other than this, it’s as proficient as Venter’s but not as long.
I’m not sure how that’s going to translate for the judges. Seeing as how Venter’s been doing so well, it would be a weak bet for me to go against another win for him, so I tip the hat to Aschultz for effort and give Venter the predicted win.
Team Prediction: Despite a strong effort, it is once again proved that nothing can stand against the power of vagina. 2-1 in favour of Suskie.
The Verbose Ascendent
“Yeah, but really,” you say. And I acquiesce.
Will at Blueberry
I’m not really sure what to think of this randomly chosen Will review. It doesn’t really cover much about the game. I understand it’s a review of an expansion, and I’m thankful Will didn’t go over all the myriad mechanics of Supreme Commander AGAIN (because honestly... who is going to read this except people who own the main game?) but ultimately he says little that you couldn’t get from reading the back of the box. So the game has a bunch of new scenarios... are they any fun?
Blueberry’s Gun Valkyrie gives us what Will’s review lacks... examples. From the start, Blueberry describes not the game from a macro level, but rather individual experiences from a micro level. This is almost always a no-fail approach in reviewing. He takes it a step further by playing with our expectations, turning a review of a bad game into a review of an excellent game and taking us along smoothly for both parts of the ride. I really enjoyed this review and I think the judges will, too.
Zipp at Woodhouse
Last week I tried out one of my new reviews, Steambot, and it met with less-than-desirable results from the judges. After reviewing their comments and my wins earlier in the tournament, I’ve come to the conclusion that I write my best reviews when I’m focused on getting across the general experience of a game with a few key examples rather than trying to cover every aspect of it. On looking over this week’s review of Sacred 2, I can see a couple paragraphs I would probably take out now (the horse paragraph, for example), but while the review might not be as concise as I’d like it, I think Vulcity’s boring journey through the world of Ancaria makes an ironically entertaining read.
Woodhouse seeks to up this journey with a recounting of his experiences with some strange Japanese game. I think what will lose Woodhouse this week’s match is that he doesn’t delve very deeply into his game. He gives a good overview of what the game’s about, but never do we get that feeling that we’re actually playing it, nor do we come away with the feeling that this game is as enthralling as he insists it is.
Sashanan at Espiga
Sashanan comes at Espiga with a particularly engaging review of Mean Beanz. Sashanan picks a good approach for this review, from the start asserting that this is a game which is hard to put down no matter its flaws. This leads to a wonderfully funny ending for each paragraph, where we’re still playing Mighty Beanz. If there’s one problem with this review, it’s the blockiness of the paragraphs, with most of them reading with a fairly formulaic pacing that rarely gets broken up.
Espiga’s look at Two Worlds is much more free form, though it doesn’t explore it’s game in near as much depth... strange, because it’s not much smaller than Sashanan’s review. Still, it’s got great style and a compelling flow. This is gonna be a tough one to call. I’m gonna guess that Sportsman likes Sashanan’s review, but that Lewis and Jerec give the win to Espiga.
Team Prediction: Though still eloquent, Will’s team is a little too verbose and loses out to the much less attractive Blueberry. I can only hope I’m wrong.
Some random statistics!
Easiest match to call: Will vs Blueberry
Toughest match to call: Overdrive vs True
Personal Favourite review: Blueberry’s Gun Valkyrie
Least Favourite review: Dagoss’ Neverwinter Nights 2
Overall prediction for the play-offs:
At this point it all really depends on Team EmP’s performance. We know Suskie, Blueberry, and Overdrive are all going to the playoffs. There are a lot of teams at the 1-3 level this year, and for any of them to have a shot at the playoffs, EmP has to lose this match.
However, as I’ve predicted a straight ticket win for them, I don’t think we’re gonna see any change in the finals line up. There could be an interesting battle in the lower ranks, though, to see who gets the 5th position on the charts. Anyone want to lay bets?
Title: TT Preview Coming
Posted: July 23, 2009 (12:47 PM)
In Drella's absence, I shall be taking it upon myself to write this week's TT preview. Expect it to be up sometime today or tomorrow.
Title: Lewis and ROTW?
Posted: July 22, 2009 (05:31 PM)
Did you want one of us (OD, myself, Janus) to take on your ROTW for this last month, Lewis? I couldn't help but notice you never got around to it...
... understandably, of course! After all, you're one of the star judges of the TT! Just say the word, and I'll take the ROTW and do a double feature this week!
Title: Jeanne D'Arc
Posted: July 22, 2009 (11:12 AM)
Oh my god this is such a sweet game. Great cutscenes, fun combat, good graphical style... I can't praise it enough.
It's a lot like Final Fantasy Tactics, though with a more cohesive story and a simpler leveling system. Skills are done through equipment, so you can really customize your characters for different roles.
Title: aoh my gawd
Posted: July 20, 2009 (12:16 AM)
Sometimes, youtube is genius
Title: Sky Riders
Posted: July 17, 2009 (01:25 AM)
Saw Sky Riders tonight. I'm a big fan of Oishii, for his bizarre (yet ironically formulaic) pacing and his focus on depressed characters and whether or not they ultimately find salvation (usually some degree of yes, in his early days, while definitely no in his later career).
Sky Riders is one of the slowest paced movies I've ever seen, and yet that's what makes it so beautiful. By the end of this extremely monotone film, you feel as dead inside as the characters do. If any emotional emerges at the end, it is a disgusting form of pity... a pity accompanied by happiness that you aren't the characters.
And yet, as usual, Oishii's film raises the question: how different from them are we really?
Title: Little Big Planet, quick reviews
Posted: July 08, 2009 (03:52 PM)
A few quick reviews of some stages I played last night. It's all part of my plan to start reviewing every LBP level I play.
Real Coaster (Theme Park)
This French-made level captures all the corniness of a low budget carnival. You’ve got your roller coaster, your haunted elevator, your target range, and some sort of bouncing ball ride that made me motion sick just watching it. I’m not sure whether this is praise or not... the level emulates the real life sickening experience of being at a sketchy carnival well enough to show a good amount of effort put into the design. And hey, it gave me a chance to practice my French.
Sasuke: The Ultimate Obstacle Course (Ninja Warrior) V2.6
Based on some random Japanese show of the same name, this level tries to emulate a series of obstacles, such as the rope climb or the pole vault. It fails, but still, this is a great level to play with a friend. You’ll have fun laughing at how many times you die or at how poorly designed some of the obstacles are or at how often you have to start over because the design is broken... oh wait... this is a terrible level.
Wow. Just... wow. From the start, this level exudes polish. From the darkened cell (replete with cushy mattress) which marks your starting point to the underwater sequence to the marble maze that ends the level, everything shines brighter than... well, something very bright. Perhaps most impressive is the ending sequence, complete with fade ins and outs and a scrolling preview of the next level poms has got planned. I only hope that the next effort incorporates some awesome platforming alongside the presentation. As it is, this stands like a walk in the park... but a very beautiful park I’d keep going back to.
Run Sackboy... Run!
Okay, so it’s not the most innovative level of all time, and there’s some questionably thin platforming and object dodging, but it all makes up for it with this one section that launches you at supersonic speeds into the sky and onto a cloud while rain falls in the foreground. I like cool stuff like that. It makes me smile. And a smile is worth a few stars.
Hey, that’s the World Tree from Norse mythology! Don’t I feel special knowing that? Alright, so every video game player’s been a Norse buff ever since Odin showed up in Final Fantasy IV. I’ve never been to Yggdrasil, so I can’t tell you how accurate this level is. But based on this, I’d say the world tree is filled with deadly spikes, a need for well-timed jumps, and an awesome tree ship. It also looks really pretty.
Title: Distant Worlds: Final Fantasy Concert in Seattle... Nobuo Uematsu in attendance...
Posted: July 08, 2009 (01:30 PM)
... and Zipp in attendance as well.
Title: Anyone else remember Lone Wolf by Joe Dever?
Posted: July 07, 2009 (07:00 PM)
I've been part of the restoration group for those books for nigh on six years now. Our original glorious site has gone the way of the dodo, sadly, but we're still a strong community on proboards.
Actually, there's only about 15 of the original 100 left, and those left have pretty much talked the topic to death. Still, we role play in Magnamund all the time and for those of you who enjoyed the books as children, you should know that we helped get them republished (with all new rewrites by Dever himself!) through Mongoose publishing.
Anyways, seeing that bit on Fighting Fantasy brought it to mind.
Title: Creepy fucking picture
Posted: July 07, 2009 (12:14 AM)
There's a lot of creepy artwork on the internet. A lot of it is momentarily shocking. And then there's some that stick with you for a while.
Believe it or not, I found this while looking for images of Steambot Chronicles
Title: Latest Review
Posted: July 06, 2009 (06:05 PM)
I'll never forget playing Steambot Chronicles. Too bad it wasn't a little bit tighter.
Title: New Trophy: Friendly Fire On
Posted: July 02, 2009 (10:36 AM)
Willthegreat has fallen to my ever-growing hit count. Sorry, team mate.
Title: What? ANOTHER Bioshock review?!
Posted: June 30, 2009 (06:33 PM)
First off, this review is dedicated to Suskie, who has to endure seeing his un-editable and positive review of Bioshock sit on the site for the rest of eternity while he gnashes his teeth and pulls his hair in frustration that he didn't deliver the full breadth of his dislike of the game.
It's okay. I've been there, too.
Now, I know that writing a Bioshock review is like hiring the village whore... it's not all that far fetched. The fact that it's a bash only turns the whoring into fisting or something.
I've taken that metaphor about as far as it will go.
Suffice it to say, I know there are those of you who would rather have their eyes put out than have to read another word about Bioshock. I still urge you to give my review at least a glance over, I did spend three bloody weeks crafting it and figuring out exactly what I wanted to say.
But, just in case that goes against your religion or something, I've also provided an alternate review for you to read.
Just remember, if during the course of reading said review, you feel something wet splatter your chest, don't worry... that's just sarcasm.
Title: Kid gives the Walkman a second chance
Posted: June 30, 2009 (03:41 PM)
British Kid reviews the Walkman!
I love British news. This is a really interesting article that makes me feel ancient and also bizarrely points out that the old days weren't always better. Although I do wonder about today's youth.
Title: I've got to stop giving guys the wrong impression
Posted: June 29, 2009 (11:23 AM)
I'm bi. I occasionally like to sleep with men. But it causes me lots of trouble, because invariably they want to get into a relationship with me, and invariably I don't realize this until I've already encouraged them a bit. This often leads to hard feelings and phone calls that I have to ignore. Also, me barricading myself in my house and pretending I don't exist for a month or two, and sometimes a relocation to another state.
I'm not against the occasional male fling. But ultimately, I prefer women sexually (even if emotionally and mentally they can drive me nuts), and a male relationship would never work out long term because of this.
Anyways, I've gotten into this situation with a very sweet man at my place of work, and now my gut is in a twist as I try to come up with a way of backtracking from my encouragement to tell him I'm not interested.
From now on, I may just keep my bi-sexuality to myself. Though gay guys can smell it on me, I swear.
Title: Two quick pre-reviews
Posted: June 28, 2009 (11:16 AM)
Switching my focus today from Mytran wars, which I'm about half way through, back to Steam Bot, which I'd like to finish this week.
Mytran is a terrible game riddled with design flaws, though it's concept is cool enough to almost save it.
Steam Bot, on the other hand, is a really well made game with a feel-good quality about it that reminds me of when Pokemon was first released.
Title: The next ROTW
Posted: June 27, 2009 (12:05 PM)
Tonight, at midnight, the next ROTW gets released by yours truly. Who will win it this time? Will it be the latecomer to the week, Randxian? Will it be Sashanan and his bevy of dungeon reviews? Will there be a twist ending, with the win going to Drella and his ironically controversial bash of Square Enix?
Cast your votes and aspersions now!