Monthly Archives: February 2010

Top 5 Retro Videogame Pets

I love pets. Hell, the whole world loves pets. Even gamers, one of the angriest group of people in society, love pets, as evident by the sheer amount of pets that exist in games today. Though these days, most of the gaming pets you’ll find are the little critters that follow you around in MMOs, or the cute little animals in Facebook games.

However, if they were to pop out of your computer screen and come to life, they wouldn’t be the most functional pets in the world, would they? They’d be like, extra-cute cats or something.

But once upon a time, videogame pets were awesome and really did add to gameplay functionality. If these pets existed in reality, they’d be way more popular than chinchillas and chihuahuas.

Here’s a list of the Top 5 Pets I’d like to have in real life:

#5 – Talking Pet (Star Control)

The Dnyarri Talking Pet from Star Control

In Star Control, the Dnyarri were a race of psychic frog-aliens who were used as interpreters by the Ur-Quan. By communicating via telepathy, it completely breaks free of any language barriers, and because the Talking Pets have been genetically spliced to be completely subservient and unintelligent, they’re not going to try their mind tricks on you.

Speaking of mind tricks, with a pet like this I could totally figure out what my wife wants all the time, cutting through all the female mind games! No more trying to guess what special day this is or where she really wants to go for dinner!

#4 – Snott (Earthworm Jim 2)

Glide me down, Snotty!

Earthworm Jim is known as one of the most bizarre games out there, and Snott is just one of the many aspects of this crazy game. Snott is a living mucus that lives in Jim’s backpack, and aside from being gross and sticky, it helps Jim get around. It extends and sticks to gooey ceilings to swing him around, and it can also expand into a parachute to slow his falls.

It’s basically an all-purpose gooey thing, and we can always use one of those! It’s like Blu-tac, but more awesome.

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A former Queen Bee plays Bully

My wife denies this, but I’m pretty sure that Jo was a “Queen Bee” back in school because I’ve heard stories of how she used to sit at the top of some stairs, and other kids will have to pay a tithe in candy in order to sit there with her and her friends. Some kid named Sarah was also made to go and try to catch a butterfly with a plastic bag, in order to bring “the fairy that rides on the back of a butterfly” back to earn her place at the stairs. That’s like King Arthur asking Galahad to fetch the Holy Grail!

So when Bully came out on the Xbox, I really wanted to put her at the controls and see what a former Queen Bee would do when she revisits school life. After a full night of Bully, here are my observations from watching Jo control Jimmy Hopkins in Bully.

Jo loves picking fights

#1 – Girls are aggressive
Jo‘s a pretty petite girl and not exactly built for brawling, but the moment you put her into a thuggish boy’s body like Jimmy’s, she goes absolutely ape-shit. Upon entering the game, she figured out the punch button, and immediately went out and beat the crap out of two random boys. No provocation whatsoever; she just went up to the nearest two guys and whacked them.

There was an early cutscene where you talk to the principal and he asks you to stay out of trouble, and when she was done with the cutscene she went out and fought with another boy immediately. This time, she learned how to humiliate someone and then went on to wedgie, wet-willy and do all kinds of crazy shit to the poor kid. And the scary part was Jo‘s reaction to all this: she’s laughing all innocently, as if she’s watching a Carebears cartoon or something.

Like I said, Jo doesn’t get into fist fights much in real life, but when we fight and stuff, I can already see that scary intensity in her eyes. If she ever got buffed up, I think she’d totally flip out like Michelle Rodriguez and kick my teeth into the curb.

Read on for more observations.

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The ultimate buddy cop movie

The other night, Jo and I wanted to watch a movie and since it was the night before the Super Bowl, we wanted to watch something with football in it. Any Given Sunday was too long, so we decided on The Last Boy Scout instead. And then I got reminded of just how great this movie is.

The premise is simple: a down-on-his-luck scumbag detective Joe Hallenback (Bruce Willis) and an also-down-on-his-luck ex-football player Jimmy Dix (Damon Wayons) get stuck together on a case against a corrupt politician and a powerful football team owner. In order to solve the case, they basically (and this is a line from the movie) “shoot everyone and smoke some cigarettes.” While the premise may not sound exciting, the execution is top-notch.

Why does it work? Because the movie has everything you could want from this genre. In fact, it’s pretty much a text-book example of how a buddy cop movie should be made (though technically, neither of them are cops). The two leads have a great chemistry together, and attack each other with witty one-liners throughout. Bruce Willis might be playing pretty much the same guy he played in Die Hard, but here he’s got funnier lines. The action is over the top, with a lot of gunfire nicely inter-spaced with even more one-liners.

Milo: “Just once, I’d like to hear you scream in pain.”
Joe: “Play some rap music.”

But what sets this movie apart from others like it, are the bad guys. In most action movies, you’ve got one particularly nasty bad guy, with a whole army of nameless and forgettable henchmen. In this movie, just about every bad guy has a unique personality and a scene that will really showcase it. I mean, if it this was a videogame, then every bad guy would be a memorable boss character.

There’s the bad guy that loves to use big words (Wayons retorts with a line that goes “we’re getting beat up by the inventor of Scrabble”), the big pimp with the hat that laughs at “your wife” jokes, the “Touch me again, and I’ll kill you” guy, and of course, the main bad guy that thrives on politeness and using everyone’s full name.

And because they’re all so funny and unique in their own way, it makes them all stand out in your mind even if they appear in only one scene before dying. No other movie features such a wonderful gallery of bad guys, which is a real shame.

Two bad dudes

I’m not sure why Die Hard made such a huge splash and got all those sequels while this movie is stuck in DVD bargain bins. It was the most expensive script during its time (Shane Black was the first writer to sell a script for $1 million), and damnit it deserved every cent of if. It’s an awesome script, and as a writer it makes me wish I’d have written that.

Pimp with a hat: “Oh, you’re real cool for somebody who’s about to take a bullet.”
Joe: “After fucking your wife, I’ll take two.”

But if any of you Hollywood directors or would-be directors out there are reading this, take a look at this movie before you go about shooting your next action blockbuster, ya? And if any action fans have missed out on this gem, do go and fish it out of a bargain bin somewhere and get your friends around to watch this cinematic masterpiece.

In the meantime, click here to check out the awesome quotes from this movie in IMDb.

Why I love Sonic and the Vikings

Yesterday, our dog Sonic put up a post about his namesake’s new game. Between then and this morning, he did wet poopies about three times. I know this because I woke up at 7am on a Saturday morning to clean his shit up. Literally. Anyway, is this a bad omen? I’m not superstitious or anything, but it can’t be a good omen either, right? Either way, there’s a nagging feeling in my heart that the game is doomed to be a disappointment… but I don’t care.

Sonic the Hedgehog and Brett Favre

Sonic and Vikings QB Brett Favre - Underhog and Underdog

Maybe you don’t know this about me, but I’m both a Sonic the Hedgehog fan and a Minnesota Vikings fan. And while these two aspects of my life seem unrelated, they’re actually quite the same. Being a Vikings fan means going through the preseason with high hopes that are raised even higher by sports analysts repeatedly stressing how this upcoming season is the season that the Vikings have assembled an awesome team and are going to totally kick ass. What happens? They start off the season strong, but somewhere along the lines, things start to fall apart and by the end of the regular season, the now-underdog Vikings would be lucky to make it into the Playoffs. And somewhere during the Playoffs, the Vikings will inevitably lose and their Cinderella season will be crushed. During the off-season, they’ll make a whole bunch of promising changes, and the vicious cycle begins again.

Even Sonic himself can't help but feel disappointed

Is this any different from being a Sonic fan? New game is announced, and excitement goes up. Initial teasers and screenshots promise the return of the classic speedy gameplay, and excitement goes up further. Previews then start showing new “gameplay elements” like a Werehog (seriously… wtf?), and suddenly those doubts start reappearing again. When the game finally ships, you’ll find out that it’s nothing more than a colossal disappointment. Sega goes back to the drawing board and announces another game, and the vicious cycle begins again.

A lot of people like to jump ship at the first sign of disappointment, so they end up supporting teams like the Colts, buying games like Crash-freakin’-Bandicoot, and having a lot of forgettable one-night-stands with people of dubious gender instead of trying to maintain a steady relationship. But no, not me! I’m sticking with Sonic and the Vikings. I don’t care if it means an endless cycle of crushed hopes and disappointment, I’m going stand by the underdogs because once upon a time they brought immense joy to my life.

Sonic might not have had a good game since the 16-bit era (though I really liked Sonic Adventure 1 on the Dreamcast), but those 16-bit games were awesome and my childhood would’ve been infinitely poorer without them. The Vikings might never be Superbowl champions, but damnit I feel exhilarated whenever they surprise the fans by beating a heavily-favored team like the Cowboys or their arch-rivals the Packers.

To quote a Star Trek theme song: “I’ve got faith of the heart,” and that’s why I’ll always be a fan of Sonic and the Vikings.

There's always another season

Random fact: The Minnesota Vikings hold the record for most trips to the Superbowl WITHOUT EVER WINNING.

5 reasons why The Shining sucks

My wifey had this major desire to watch a spooky movie last night, so I had no choice but to watch The Shining with her. Now I’ve never really liked The Shining much (I think Stanley Kubrick is an incredibly overrated director), mainly because those two spooky twins scare the crap out of me.

But last night, I realized that there were even more annoying things than the creepy little girls.

1. Jack Torrance’s Mace Windu-like character growth

“You’re referring to the prophecy of the one who will bring balance to the Overlook Hotel. You believe it’s this boy?”

I’ve never read the book or anything, but I know that in the book, Jack was a regular guy with some issues, who gradually descends into madness at the hotel. Kinda sympathetic like that, really.

But noooooooo, you can’t have a sympathetic character in a Stanley Kubrick movie. That’s not how Kubrick rolls! In the movie, Jack was a crazy psycho who eventually becomes… more psychotic. Wow, what a great and unsuspected character arc!

Jack Torrance has about as much growth or development as Mace Windu, so that you half-expect him to try to kill his family with a purple lightsaber at the end of the movie. I’m not saying that you need some kinda M Night Shylamananlam plot twist at the end, but seriously, try not to reveal the rest of the movie in the first five minutes!

2. The soundtrack

Since it’s a movie that the wifey and I have both watched a few times before, we were actually Photoshopping while it was playing in the background. As such, the soundtrack hit me in a way I’ve never noticed before. It was loud, irritating, and just kinda stupid (kinda like Internet forum trolls).

You know that ringing sound that you hear when someone smacks the side of your head with a skateboard? Well, the soundtrack of this movie is like having someone repeatedly swing their skateboard into your ear for 2 hours. It’s just endless high-pitched ringing and sudden gongs and shit.

Scatman explaining the shining to Danny? Ringing sound. Walking around the hotel? Ringing sound. Always with the ringing sound!

And it’s not just the “creepy” parts either. That entire opening sequence where they drive up to the hotel? Loud irritating random sounds all the way. For this part, it’s like if Trent Reznor got incredibly doped up and went into convulsions on top of his synthesizer.

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