Category Archives: Features

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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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.

The Return of the High Score

Back when videogames first hit the mainstream in the 70’s, games were relatively simple affairs when you compare them to today’s standards. Level designs were simple, and gameplay was pretty repetitive. Take games like Space Invaders, Galaxian and Pac-Man, for example. You control your avatar and either shoot down waves and waves of bad guys, or chomp on endless levels of dots. So how do you know if you’re better than the guy next to you? That’s where the high score comes in. By destroying enemies or lasting to the next level, you increase your score, and obviously the highest score would denote the player with the largest e-penis, right?

Space Invaders

Nothing more important than that number at the top left corner

During the so-called “Golden Age of Gaming”, gaming took place predominantly in video arcades, so gamers pretty much share their favorite arcade cabinet with thousands of other players. And just as dogs like to mark their territory by peeing on trees, gamers like to do the same by leaving their initials next to their high scores. There’s nothing quite like walking away from a video arcade with your initials next to the highest score in the machine, and then coming back a week later to find that nobody has been able to dethrone you. All hail the champ!

The practice of the high score continued onto the console market, and console games, whether they were dumbed-down versions of arcade games or originals, would all allow a player to punch in their initials next to their high scores. This was a bit of a silly addition in hindsight, because the high scores would reset the moment you switched your console off, due to the memory limitations of home consoles at the time. What’s the point of putting up a high score if nobody else was going to see it, right? For the first time, gamers started questioning the necessity of the high score.

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Why do gaming consoles have to die?

In the span of two days, both my Xbox 360 and Jo’s tamagotchi died. Hers died because she left it home one day and those little critters throw a hissy fit and die if you don’t feed them by pressing some buttons every few hours. Mine died because… well… I’m not sure why mine died. I think it’s cos it was old. I dunno… is three years old for a gaming console? I guess my Sega consoles lasted only about three years too. But they “died” in the sense that they became obsolete and people stopped making games for them. My Xbox on the other hand, died in the “ack, I can’t breathe!” way.

Dead xbox and tamagotchi

My dead Xbox and Jo's dead Tamagotchis

This recent dead Xbox is a refurbished set that I got to replace another one that had a graphics glitch about a year after I bought it. So basically, in four years, I’ve only gone through two Xboxes. My friends tell me that I’ve been pretty luckily, as they’ve got horror stories about making bi-monthly trips to the Xbox service centre and so forth. At any rate, it’s past the warranty date so I guess I’ll be picking up a replacement Xbox 360 soon.

Similarly, I also had to replace my first generation Xbox. It didn’t really die, but the laser couldn’t read games anymore (making it nothing more than a really expensive CD/DVD player). So I’ve now got two of those sitting in my home (which bugs Jo a lot; she wants me to toss them out), and a new dead Xbox 360 to complete the collection. Then of course, I’ve got my Segas still lying around.

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