THE FUTURE IS LOOKING BRIGHT FOR MORTAL KOMBAT. SOME OF THE MOST BIZARRE AND OVER-THE TOP-FATALITIES WILL APPEAR IN TOURNAMENT X, AND GORO’S HILARIOUS SKULL-CRUSHING FATALITY IS ONE OF THE FINEST AND MOST BRUTAL EVER CONCEIVED.
THE LIZARD MASTER CANNOT WAIT TO CRUSH SKULLS WITH THIS HALF-DRAGON, HALF- BEAST MONSTROSITY.
THE HAT TRICK FATALITY WAS ONE OF THE FEW CENSORED FATALITIES IN MKII AS IT WAS BY FAR THE MOST GRAPHIC IN THE ENTIRE GAME. MK9 NOT ONLY BROUGHT BACK THIS FATALITY BUT COMBINED IT WITH THE ODDJOB INSPIRED HAT TOSS FOR THE MOST BRUTAL KUNG LAO FATALITY EVER SEEN.
Editor’s Note: What new horrors will be coming next week from Lord Reptile and the Swindle Bros.? Some of the most violent, controversial, and provocative ever released. Stay tuned and send your video game list suggestions to TheSwindleBros AT yahoo.com or challenge them to battle on Twitter here and here.
NINJA GAIDEN II MAKES CONTRA FOR THE NES LOOK LIKE TIGGER’S HONEY HUNT BY COMPARISON. IT IS THE FINEST NINJA GAME EVER CRAFTED, WITH ITS ANIME CUTSCENES SERVING AS A REWARD FOR EVEN THE MOST GRUELING STAGES.
RYU HAYABUSA CAN COPY HIMSELF AS MANY TIMES AS NEED BE, BUT ONLY A NINJA DEMIGOD WILL MAKE IT PAST ACT 2 WITHOUT A GAME GENIE.
DON’T LET CONQUEST OF THE CRYSTAL PALACE’S CUTESY ANIME LOOKS FOOL YOU. IT TOOK THE REPTILE SEVERAL HOURS TO OVERTAKE THE FIRST MOUNTAIN LEVEL EVEN IN HIS STRONGEST FORM. THIS GAME IS AS HARD AS GHOSTS AND GOBLINS COMBINED WITH CONTRA.
IT IS NOT RECCOMENDED FOR THOSE WHO DISLIKE ENDLESS, REPETITIVE NINJA DEATH.
THE BIRTH OF YOSHI IN THE MARIO SERIES WAS THE GREATEST DAY IN VIDEO GAME HISTORY. THE ORIGINAL GREEN DINOSAUR WHO COULD EAT EVERYTHING IN THE LAND PROVED THAT MARIO WAS NEVER MEANT TO BE RULER OF THE MUSHROOM KINGDOM. SUPER MARIO WORLD’S ONLY FLAW IS THAT MARIO MUST DISMOUNT YOSHI AT EVERY CASTLE, AND THAT’S NO FUN.
2. Super Mario Bros. 3
ALTHOUGH SUPER MARIO BROS IS LEGENDARY IT IS VERY BORING. SUPER MARIO BROS. 3 UPPED THE ABSURDITY BY GIVING MARIO MORE THAN JUST A DIFFERENT COLOR OF OVERALLS. RACCOON MARIO SHALL ALWAYS SIT UPON THE THRONE OF BEST MARIO POWERUP WHILE FROG MARIO WILL ALWAYS BE THE MOST DISAPPOINTING COLD-BLOODED CHARACTER IN A VIDEO GAME.
3. Super Mario Bros
THE GREATEST SELLING GAME OF ALL TIME IS STILL A SERIOUS PLATFORMER IN ITS OWN RIGHT. THE EMPEROR OF ALL PLATFORMING GAMES DESTROYED ALL COMPETITORS FOR YEARS TO COME, DESPITE BEING VERY BORING. ONE MUST RESPECT ITS PLACE AS FORMER HEAVYWEIGHT PLATFORMER CHAMPION.
4. Super Mario Land 2
THE FIRST SUPER MARIO LAND HAD SERIOUS POTENTIAL BUT THEY CHOSE INSTEAD TO TURN MARIO INTO THE SIZE OF AN ANT, AND THAT SUCKS. BEHOLD THE FINEST HANDHELD MARIO GAME AND BE UTTERLY IMPRESSED BY ITS UNIQUE LEVEL DESIGN AND CHALLENGING FINAL BOSS. PLAY IT ON THE SUPER GAMEBOY, JABRONI.
5. Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels
THE REPTILE REFUSES TO RECOGNIZE SUPER MARIO BROS 2 AS A TRUE MARIO TITLE, IT IS A COPY OF DOKI DOKI PANIC ON THE NES. SUPER MARIO BROS. THE LOST LEVELS IS A WORTHY OPPONENT, PREPARE TO BE KILLED BY POISONOUS MUSHROOMS MORTAL SCUM.
From the things-that-make-you-feel-old trivia file, it has been nearly a decade since the final Star Wars prequel, Revenge of the Sith, debuted in theaters. It’s been a full ten years since the last iteration of the Battlefield-inspired shooter Star Wars Battlefront hit PCs and consoles.
In the years since, rumors of a third Battlefront game utilizing modern technology have been persistent. It wasn’t long after Disney acquired Lucasfilm and its subsidiaries, including video game publisher LucasArts, that official news of a modern follow-up was announced.
Now, we know when we’ll get our first real glimpse at the new game. EA Star Wars reveals:
We’re thrilled to share that Star Wars Battlefrontwill be taking part in Star Wars™ Celebrationnext month in Anaheim, CA from April 16-19. We could not think of a better or more appropriate place to debut the game officially for the first time than the premier event that celebrates the Star Wars universe and the legions of fans who have fallen in love with it. For more information on Star Wars Celebration and ways to attend, please visit http://starwarscelebration.com.
Editor’s Note: We’re beginning a new series of discussions and debates to determine the greatest titles by genre in video games, music, movies, TV, and everything else of consequence in culture. The infamous Lord Reptile will preside as fight master and referee to ensure both fairness and maximum bloodshed. He was originally asked to start the series by providing his list of best “desert island video games” — the titles one would most want while trapped forever if one had to play the same games over and over again. Being a snarky, overly clever, cold-blooded creature, he then realized that some of the greatest games of all time actually take place on islands and that one could assemble a literal “Desert Island Video Game” list. And so you now have it. A more traditional, “greatest video games of all time” list will be coming later in the tournament. For now, this will more than suffice…
WELCOME TO REPTILE’S ISLAND, HUMAN SCUM. DURING THIS COMING ONSLAUGHT OF VIDEO GAME LISTS, YOU WILL DISCOVER THE MOST DEADLY GAMES THAT OUTWORLD HAS TO OFFER. FROM THIS DAY FORWARD, MY ISLAND SHALL BECOME YOUR BATTLEGROUND. SEND YOUR KOMBATANTS TO THE COMMENT SECTION TO MEET CERTAIN DEATH BY LORD REPTILE HIMSELF. HOW WILL EARTHREALM HANDLE THE MOST LITERAL OF ISLAND VIDEO GAME LISTS?
1. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (Wii U)
How could you not want to play The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker if you were trapped on a desert island for eternity? If you can’t sail away and feel the wind of the gods upon your face as you explore the vast open seas, then you might as well just sit there and do just that in a Zelda game. It beats potentially drowning.
THE REPTILE CAN’T SWIM. BETTER SIT INSIDE AND PLAY VIDEO GAMES INSTEAD.
Many people (DUMMIES FOR LACK OF A BETTER WORD) were upset by Wind Waker’s ridiculously fresh and gorgeous cel-shaded visual style. It was quickly labeled a baby’s game by morons who compared it to the darker, more mature looks of Ocarina of Time.
THESE AMATEURS OBVIOUSLY DID NOT MAKE IT FAR ENOUGH INTO THE GAME TO WITNESS THE TOTAL DARKNESS THAT WAS THE EARTH TEMPLE. WHAT A FUN ROMP THROUGH THE CATACOMBS.
If you’ve got a Wii U, then you’re out of excuses: get this game and get lost in the ocean forever.
2. Super Mario Sunshine (Gamecube)
Some fools may argue that Super Mario Galaxy had the edge over Super Mario Sunshine, but they’re wrong.
THE REPTILE WILL NOT HEAR SUCH TALK. KOTAKU SHOULD STICK TO REVIEWING GUNDAM DONUTS AND COLOSSAL TITAN BURGERS.
Super Mario Sunshine is vastly superior to every 3D Mario game, period. It took the already fun and intuitive controls of Super Mario 64, fine-tuned them so they felt perfect, and then gave Mario a sick water jetpack that transforms the foundation of the game into an even more ridiculously fun platformer. But the most obvious strong point is in the graphics and fresh level design. Every stage has its own unique flow and bosses, and you’ll soon unlock all of the levels and have way too many shine sprites to collect. WHAT A FEAST.
The main levels aren’t even half of what this game has to offer. Around the islands there are dozens of challenging mini levels that will put your platforming chops to the test.
Playing this game feels like a vacation from the merciless vacuum of dreary adventure and shooter games saturating the market.
ALL OF THOSE BORING GAMES WITH THEIR BLAH GRAPHICS CRAMP THE REPTILE’S STYLE. SUPER MARIO SUNSHINE LOOKS GREAT AND WILL MAKE YOU FEEL HAPPY.
3. Donkey Kong Country (SNES)
Everyone knows that during the ’90s Mario and Sonic competed directly with one another for the title of heavyweight platforming world champion, but in 1994 a new challenger for the belt emerged from the depths and descended upon them like a gorilla with the strength of a thousand lesser apes: DONKEY KONG COUNTRY. NO ONE HAD EVER SEEN A GAME THAT LOOKED SO GOOD AND HAD SUCH A SWEET SOUNDTRACK. THE REPTILE STILL GETS GOOSEBUMPS ON HIS SCALEY HIDE EVERY TIME HE FIRES UP THIS GROUNDBREAKING GAME.
If you ever watched the Donkey Kong Country promotional VHS tape you had a small inkling of how this title was going to revolutionize platform gaming, but it wasn’t until you were swinging through Jungle Hijinx and smashing through kremlins with Rambi the Rhino that you realized this was a Mario killer. With the combined abilities of DK and his side chimp Diddy Kong, the duo was far cooler than Sonic and Tails. DKC can be beaten easily in a matter of hours if you’re a platforming genius, but very few players will find all the secret areas.
THE KREMLINS MAY BE JEALOUS OF THIS DONKEY KONG’S BANANA HOARD BUT THE REPTILE IS NOT ONE OF THEM. THE REPTILE ONLY EATS MEAT. HE HAS NO USE FOR BANANAS.
4. Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (Gamecube)
HEY LOOK EVERYONE, IT’S SNAKE PLISSKEN AND HE’S HERE TO SAVE THE WORLD FROM A GIANT ROBOT AGAIN.
Whoa, wait, that’s not what happened in Escape From New York. Perhaps the Reptile shouldn’t have been feasting on Hamm’s when he wrote that review.
Solid Snake is Kurt Russell’s name in this story, and this time he’s going to Shadow Moses Island in Alaska to embark on a tactical stealth espionage conquest.
SHADOW MOSES ISLAND. YOU WILL NEVER FIND A MORE WRETCHED HIVE OF CRUMMY FOOT SOLDIERS AND BADASS SUPERVILLAINS. Most of the enemies in this game are just a bunch of generic goofuses, but they have strength in numbers. The members of Fox Hound are the ones who really steal the show with their over-the-top combat abilities and supernatural powers. Every character has their own unique personality that makes for a well-rounded cast that’s often missing from the plot in an average action game.
Stealth games had been around long before Metal Gear Solid, but none of them could match the sheer intensity and brilliant story that the first MGS had to offer. Playing this game is like living an American action movie that’s heavily influenced by anime.
If the playstation version of the game hurts your eyes, there’s a solid remake for the GameCube that uses a visual style similar to the sequel and even boasts the same first-person shooting mode.
5. Resident Evil: Code Veronica (Dreamcast)
Don’t let recent installments to the Resident Evil series fool you. Resident Evil used to be an extremely unique game with a killer atmosphere. It didn’t rely on using overly long and flashy cut scenes throughout the game to tell a story. No, the classic Resident Evil game would have one cheesy opener, and then it would throw the gamer into a survival situation where you had to be just as good at conserving health and ammo as you were at killing enemies. Resident Evil: Code Veronica X was arguably the last classic game of the series before Capcom opted for a behind-the-shoulder action style in Resident Evil 4 on the GameCube.
You start the game as Claire Redfield on a military prison island filled with zombies, zombie dogs, and several new monsters as you try to find a way off the island. They also bring back classic favorites like the Tyrant, who comes after you like a Terminator robot as you try to escape the island. The game is filled with jump scares and hilariously cheesy voice acting throughout, and tons of great gore.
Code Veronica combines everything that made the previous games so compelling and makes the controls much more manageable.
Much to the Reptile’s dismay, the survival horror genre has been buried under action titles posing as horror games.
LEFT 4 DEAD IS NOT SURVIVAL HORROR. IT IS AN ACTION GAME. DEAD RISING IS AN ACTION GAME ABOUT ZOMBIES IN A MALL. ZOMBIE U IS A GAME ABOUT BEATING UP ZOMBIES IN LONDON WITH A CRICKET BAT. THIS IS ALSO NOT SURVIVAL HORROR. STOP MAKING ACTION GAMES ABOUT ZOMBIES. THEY WERE NEVER THAT COOL.
THAT’S ALL FOR NOW, HUMANS, MAYBE NEXT TIME THE REPTILE WILL BESTOW HIS KNOWLEDGE OF SOME CLASSIC GAMES YOU AND YOUR LOSER FRIENDS CAN ALL PLAY.
INDEED, TRUE KOMBAT ONLY OCCURS IN THE MULTIPLAYER REALM. STAY HYPED FOR THE SEQUEL MULTIPLAYER ISLAND: RETURN OF THE DESERT LIZARD.
And check out some of Lord Reptile’s previous lists:
Do you disagree with the selections? Would you like to start a new debate of your own about the best in a particular category? Contact the Swindle Bros and their loyal colleague/assassin Lord Reptile with your ideas and challenges: TheSwindleBros @ Yahoo.com. Image illustration via Geek Improvement.
Long ago, before “MMORPGS” and first-person shooters dominated the competitive gaming scene, there was only one way to settle who was the most powerful nerd in all the land: 2-D fighting games.
THESE ARE THE GAMES THAT WHICH LORD REPTILE HOLDS MOST SACRED IN THE FIGHTING GAME REALM. IN ORDER TO QUALIFY AS A 2-D FIGHTER, THE GAME MUST INCLUDE 2-D CHARACTER SPRITES WHICH FIGHT ON A TWO-DIMENSIONAL PLANE. EVERYTHING ELSE IS NOT WORTHY OF BEING ON THE REPTILE’S LIST.
2-D FIGHTING STILL THRIVES TODAY IN THE FORM OF ANIME FIGHTERS. BUT BEFORE YOU CAN UNDERSTAND THE TRUE ART OF 2-D FIGHTING, YOU MUST LOOK BACK AND STUDY THE RICH HERITAGE OF THE ORIGINAL FIGHTERS.
YOU ARE NOT A WARRIOR. YOU ARE A BEGINNER. FIGHT OR DIE.
1. Karate Champ
BACK IN 1984, THERE WERE NO TOURNAMENT FIGHTERS. THE TENTH MORTAL KOMBAT TOURNAMENT HAD NOT YET HAPPENED ON EARTHREALM. INSTEAD, RYU AND KEN WERE THE SAME PERSON JUST WEARING DIFFERENT COLORED GIS IN A GAME CALLED KARATE CHAMP.
Karate Champ is a game that rewards your ability to press buttons. If you hit an opponent once, the fight stops and you’re awarded points.
Karate Champ is evidence that games don’t always have to be great to be influential. It’s definitely not a very fun game but millions of idiots lined up to play it because it was the only head-to-head fighting game available. The Reptile acknowledges Karate Champ for its influence, not for being a fun game.
2. Street Fighter
The original Street Fighter may seem laughable when compared to its far more popular sequel, but in 1987 it may have been the most advanced fighting game ever created. With its enormous cabinet and iconic characters, Street Fighter quickly made itself known in Japanese arcades. Unlike Karate Champ, points are not awarded for executing moves on an opponent.
INSTEAD THE PLAYER IS REWARDED BY BEATING THE OPPONENT UNTIL THEY CAN NO LONGER STAND. SUCH IS THE TRUE NATURE OF STREET COMBAT.
Street Fighter invented the life bar in one on one fighting games, and also special moves. The original Street Fighter was essentially the very first actual tournament fighting game. Despite its clumsiness and the high degree of difficulty that goes into performing special moves, Street Fighter served as a prototype for every fighting game that came after.
3. Street Fighter II
Street Fighter had so much left to prove after its first installment. Street Fighter II will live on in the consciousness of every ’90s arcadegoer as the very first competitive fighting game. It brought in combos by sheer mistake, but players quickly began to capitalize on Capcom’s mishap and used it to punish their opponents. Ryu, Ken, Chun Li and Guile quickly became household names as a movie was made in the mid-’90s hoping to capitalize on the hype. It wasn’t very good.
Street Fighter: the Movie may have sucked, but Street Fighter II saw at least five different updates in arcades and on consoles. Street Fighter II on the SNES was the first first 16-bit cartridge in console gaming, and its successors kept pushing the envelope in fighting games for years.
ALL OTHER FIGHTERS WERE INFERIOR TO STREET FIGHTER II FOR YEARS TO COME. IT IS MOST IMPRESSIVE THAT THE SEQUEL SURPASSED THE ORIGINAL STREET FIGHTER WITH ITS SHEER INTENSITY AND COMPETITIVE GAMEPLAY.
Street Fighter signaled the end of the dark age of arcade fighting games with the creation of the CPS cabinet, Capcom’s first of three cabinets deisgned to house their arcade games.
4. Samurai Shodown
AFTER I FINISH MEDITATING I WILL DESTROY YOU.
The Reptile did not play Samurai Shodown until very recently but it is obviously one of the finest weapons-based fighters ever made. SNK may not have gotten as much attention as Capcom when it came to fighting games but Samurai Shodown rivals Street Fighter II in terms of gameplay and presentation. Even the music makes you feel like a samurai.
Whenever you lose and push start, remember that you’re not doing it to beat the game: you’re continuing for revenge against the deadliest of foes. Your sole objective is to strike down your enemy with your sword of justice.
The staggering variety of fighters and special moves makes this one a daunting challenge even for fighting veterans.
5. Mortal Kombat
IF YOU WISH TO FIND THE REPTILE, PERFECTION IS THE KEY.
The first Mortal Kombat introduced excessive blood and revolutionary graphics provided by digitized actors. It was this element of realism combined with ridiculous finishing moves that turned heads in arcades for years. If one were to pick a movie that inspired the grisly fatalies of Mortal Kombat, it would most likely be Rikki-Oh. The sheer satisfaction of finishing off a beaten opponent by eating their head is what has kept The Reptile coming back to the MK franchise for every new installment.
IF YOU WISH TO FIND THE REPTILE, THEN FATALITY IS THE KEY.
Athough Mortal Kombat may not have introduced as many new fighting mechanics as its main competitor Street Fighter II, it was far more notorious for being the most violent video game of its time. Check out these blowhards on the news shaking their fingers at MK’s mature content. SUCH WEAK, PATHETIC FOOLS. THE REPTILE LAUGHS AT THEIR DISCOMFORT. I WILL CRUSH THEM IN ONE BLOW.
6. King of Fighters
SNK put out more fighting games than any other company and almost all of them were impressive but the most well known series is King of Fighters. Stemming from the Fatal Fury series, the creator of Fatal Fury was one of the original creators of Street Fighter. King of Fighters introduced the 3 vs 3 head to head mode which unleashed a plethora of possibilities for team combat. King of Fighters has changed quite a bit over the years but it has always boasted superior fighting mechanics. Recently it crossed over to the 3-D realm but SNK probably knew this wasn’t the best idea and returned as an impressive looking anime fighter for its 2013 installment.
Darkstalkers was the first true Anime fighter ever made so Reptile considers that to be a very important advancement made by Capcom. The characters broke boundaries of fanservice that no other game would go through. Plus you could play as a Sasquatch, a zombie, Frankenstein and pretty much every other universal monster you can think of plus extras.
DARKSTALKERS IS ESSENTIALLY STREET FIGHTER FOR MALL-DWELLING GOTHIC TEENAGERS. THROW ON SOME NINE INCH NAILS AND BODY YOUR OPPONENTS WHILE WEARING YOUR BEST CORPSEPAINT.
Morrigan, the succubus and main character of the franchise brought in the gothic anime hybrid that the genre had been missing the entire time.
Darkstalkers plays like a Street Fighter clone but there’s just something about it that makes it so incredibly endearing that the Reptile most certainly prefers it over Street Fighter II.
8. Guilty Gear
If Darkstalkers left fighting game fans doubting the competitive potential of anime fighters, Guilty Gear proved that they were fools for doubting the genre. This weapons-based fighter has been a mainstay at Evolution fighting tournaments ever since Guilty Gear X2. It boasts some of the most ridiculous characters to ever appear in a fighting game. The Reptile mains the pirate girl May, who fights with an enormous anchor that she lifts and swings around with ease. But she’s probably the most normal character in the entire roster, Guilty Gear is as strange as it is competitive.
GUILTY GEAR ALSO HAS A MOST IMPRESSIVE HEAVY METAL SOUNDTRACK. THAT HEAVY RIFFAGE WILL MAKE YOU CRUSH YOUR OPPONENTS INTO A PULP.
9. Marvel Vs. Capcom 2: Golden Age of Heroes
MvC2 is the most HYPE fighting game to ever exist. Although the crossover tag team fighting genre was started by X-men vs. Street Fighter years prior to MvC2, it wasn’t until the second installment of Marvel vs. Capcom when maximum hype was achieved. An insanely disorienting and chaotic fighter, you swap out fighters and use assists to overwhelm your enemy. Where else can you see Megaman, Sentinel and Chun Li team up and take out Thanos? No fighting game can top MvC2’s absurdity or blistering competitive tag team gameplay. MvC2 is arguably the only fighting game you will ever need, and that’s coming from a diehard Mortal Kombat fanboy.
CROSSOVER FIGHTERS ARE AMONG THE MOST HYPED FIGHTING GAMES CREATED. THE TAG TEAM FIGHTING GENRE WOULD HAVE BEEN QUICKLY BURIED UNDER THE COUNTLESS WRESTLING GAMES OF THE NINETIES IF IT WERE NOT FOR SUPERIOR TITLES SUCH AS MARVEL VS CAPCOM.
10. Street Fighter III: Third Strike
I FEEL THE POWER LEVEL OF THESE TWO NERDS IS VERY STRONG. THEY LOOK TOUGH. WHO ARE THEY?
The final 2-D fighting game on this list is one that The Reptile considers the last classic of the genre. Third Strike was the final version of Street Fighter III, and the only one to really get it right. Featuring both classic characters such as Ryu and Akuma and newcomers like Dudley the boxing dandy, Street Fighter III is an extremely advanced yet traditional fighting game. It introduced the counter system, which as you can see in the above video can turn the tables in even the most seemingly hopeless matches. As if this wasn’t enough, the popularity of Third Strike at Evo proved that the spirit of 2-D fighting games is alive and well in the fighting game community.
I was in LA last month and stopped by the PJTV studios to do a roundtable discussion on Millennial men and marriage:
Dr. Helen Smith, author of Men on Strike discusses the state of the young American male with PJTV’s Andrew Klavan, Bill Whittle and Matt Orr. Are men shunning marriage because of the economy, or do they have alternatives to marriage, like porn and easy sex? Could it be that women simply giving-up on the hopes of having a relationship with the current pool of men in America? Hear the answers.
Or maybe American men have given up hope on the current pool of women in America: as one of the panelists notes, “Dating is a pain in the ass.” Here is our discussion:
Back in 1989, Americans marveled at what the year 2015 might look like in the popular film Back to the Future II. The second installment in the time-traveling trilogy focused heavily on Marty McFly and his girlfriend being taken by their pal Doc Brown 30 years into the future and seeing what life was going to be like.
Well, 2015 has arrived. What predictions did the filmmakers get right? What did they get wrong? Here are 15 things Back to the Future II predicted would happen by 2015. You’ll find some predictions were eerily accurate while many others were way off.
Being a grown adult, married with young children and many assumed responsibilities, I don’t get to play video games as much as I used to. There was a time, just a few short years ago, when I kept up on all the latest releases and played them through voraciously. But that’s just not an option anymore, which is probably a good thing.
The last Call of Duty game I purchased and played was Modern Warfare, the first in the franchise to move the action from the historical battlefields of World War II to the present day. Many sequels have come and gone since then, none of which I have felt particularly compelled to sample. The latest entry, however, piqued my interest.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare makes the next chronological leap in the series from the present day to an imagined near-future where high-technology reshapes both the warrior and his battlefield. Add to that the acting talent of Kevin Spacey, fully digitized in a key role, and developer Sledgehammer Games presents a package worth taking a look at.
Having received the game as a birthday present recently, I’ve had the opportunity to kick its tires and have to say – it’s impressive. Especially coming from the perspective of having been away from the franchise for several years, the game feels remarkably evolved from what I remember. It’s easy to pick up and get the hang of, despite presenting a deeper than average experience for a game of its genre. It manages to be both more complex than its predecessors, and still simple to play.
The single-player campaign feels as cinematic and immersive as any big-budget Hollywood action film. You’ll find yourself marveling at the action even as you are the one controlling it. The “that’s cool” moments hit one right after the other.
If you’re like me, and haven’t yet made the switch to the next generation of consoles, you’ll want to take advantage of an offer available through March 15th to get both the current and next gen versions of the game for the price of one. You have to buy the downloadable version, and you’ll be committing to stick with your current console brand. If you buy the Xbox 360 version, you get the Xbox One as well, and the same with Sony’s Playstation.
The wonderfully amusing thing about progressivist thought is how old and played-out it is. The #GamerGate controversy is a perfect example. On one side are the #GamerGate folks, video game enthusiasts like me. We basically just want to be left alone in our basements to blow up computerized helicopters. On the other side are militant feminists like Anita Sarkeesian. They think video games brainwash little boys into becoming the violent sociopaths that, according to “rape culture” theory, they already are anyway. Essentially, progressives want to sanitize stories about unsavory behavior for the good of society. That idea goes back at least 2300 years, to ancient Greece, where it was also a failure. For a movement that defines itself as the wave of the future, that’s a pretty hackneyed approach.
I’m talking here about #GamerGate in the broadest terms. I’m not talking about Chelsea Van Valkenburg, the mentally unstable pseudo-designer whose dysfunctional relationship somehow started this whole mess. I’m not talking about internecine squabbles over gaming journalism. I’m talking about the bigger fight, between gamers and the radicals who want to sterilize games.
The Quality of Life (QOL) Sensor sits by a user’s bedside and monitors body movements, heart rate and breathing via radio waves. The non-contact unit then sends the data it gathers to cloud-based servers for analysis. Users can then access results that show their sleep and fatigue levels.
The system will also automatically make recommendations such as getting more exercise or changing one’s diet. The information would be made available on “smart devices,” Nintendo said, without elaborating whether that would include smartphones. However, dedicated video game systems could also be used to improve users’ quality of life, it said.
Nintendo really blew it with the Wii U — so badly that it looks to me like it might be the company’s last living room console. So it makes sense that Nintendo would branch out into new markets. But until they reveal more about how QOL works and exactly what it does, and if they can beat a whole host of similar Android and iOS devices to market, it’s impossible to know if they have anything unique or timely to offer.
Thursday, September 25th, 2014 - by Liberty Island
Editor’s Note: Since March, PJ Lifestyle has been highlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island, featuring interviews and story excerpts. Click here to see our collection of 27 so far. To learn more check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” Also see COO David S. Bernstein’s recent essay here in which he defines Liberty Island as, “an imaginative playground where brilliant and creative people can test their ideas without being harassed or threatened by the new breed of ‘community activists’ who police thought and speech in the media.” Also see Bellow’s cover story at National Review: “Let Your Right Brain Run Free.”
Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?
I always find it difficult to come up with a list of my favorite anything because I am very much a man of “feasts and seasons.” One day I will find myself raving about a certain book or movie, and the next day I am off in a completely different direction. I don’t know what that precisely says about me, but there you go. However, having said that, there are certain constants in my entertainment life. For movies, I would have to say the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings trilogy is definitely near the top. Frankly, this surprises me because I never was much of a fan of the fantasy genre (until I saw this movie franchise, anyway!), and I certainly wasn’t a “ringer”. However, after watching the first movie, The Fellowship of the Ring, I completely fell in love with Tolkien’s vision as had so many others before me. It is just a wonderful tale about faith, friendship, and the importance of perseverance during difficult times. So that is definitely near that top. Second, I guess would be the masterful war movie, Gettysburg. In many ways, Gettysburg truly delivered on the idea that the American Civil War was “America’s Illiad.” It is a suitably larger than life, sweeping, and almost mythical account of the most pivotal battle in that conflict, with the key historical figures wonderfully realized by their respective actors (most notably Tom Berenger, Jeff Daniels, and Martin Sheen). It also helped that my family and I just happened to visit the actual battlefield a mere week or two after shooting for the film had wrapped up!
Lastly, I would have to say I always enjoy the dark science fiction of Ridley Scott, particularly his two masterpieces: Alien and Blade Runner. In this day and age of theaters being filled with farcical science fiction, both movies are reminders that the genre can provide a mature, sober experience as well.
As for books – wow, that would be a long list. I don’t really stick with any one writer anymore; the world of e-publishing has so opened the literary world that there isn’t time to just stick with one author or series when so many others are out there deserving of equal attention (Liberty Island is proof of that!). Having said that, I do have ever increasing respect for the great works of mankind, be it the Bible (I prefer the Douay-Rheims translation), or the great philosophical and theological works like Plato’s The Republic, or Augustine’s City of God (currently slugging my way through the latter!). Of course, I am always on the hunt for some good science fiction. I particularly like some of the sci-fi novelizations and anthologies that have grown up around popular games, such as the Warhammer 40K or Shadowrun universes. Such settings can be really refreshing because of their “getting back to basics” style of just plain fun storytelling in refreshingly dark and gritty settings.
As for intellectual influences, well, certainly my parents. Our many kitchen table discussions about the issues of the day was what really awakened an intellectual curiosity in me. I was also fortunate to have some very good political science professors who emphasized the classics, such as the aforementioned titles, as well as Hume, Locke, Aquinas, et cetera, and always reminded me that there was “nothing new under the sun” when it came to politics, advice that has served me well over the years. And, of course, talk radio has served as a type of continuing education. In many ways Mark Levin sounds just like some of my professors – his Ameritopia might as well be a Poli Sci 101 textbook!
How do you describe yourself ideologically?
Lifelong conservative. Even before I really knew what that meant I instinctively knew it was my political philosophy. I am old enough to have experienced the transition from the Carter years to the Reagan years, and even as a young man I could see the profound difference in the governing philosophy, and the resultant outcomes, of the two men. As soon as I heard Reagan describe himself as a conservative, I knew that I was that too – despite the scorn of my high school teachers.
Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?
Certainly William F. Buckley, especially via his National Review. Remember that television ad he used to run where you could sample an issue for free, and if you didn’t like it you could “burn it” (that ad always made me laugh!)? Well, my parents got me the free issue after I expressed interest in that funny commercial. I opened it one day and started reading it, really just out of curiosity. Well, it was one of those moments where the heavens opened and a choir of angels started singing. I was just so instantly impressed with the quality of NR! Not just because of how it was addressing a side of the news that I had never encountered before – that was my wake-up call concerning the bias of the media – but also because the quality of the writing was so superlative. It was that magazine that helped me understand that good writing was truly a form of art, and I have been attempting to measure up to that standard ever since…usually unsuccessfully.
In addition to Buckley, certainly the great talk radio commentators like Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and Laura Ingraham have been a continual influence.
What are your writing goals?
To always be a contrarian writer. I instinctively dislike trends or market-tested “group think”. I want my writing to always be its own thing, if you will. Those books, those articles that have always stuck in my mind are the ones that got me to see something in a very different light, or to experience something new, or to visit a familiar setting but in a completely different fashion. I never want to write something that is “by the numbers,” or that could serve as the next script for a Michael Bay film, if you will pardon my sarcasm. That will always be my personal goal as a writer.
Where can people find/follow you online?
My primary online presence in the somewhat irregularly kept blog I have on video game news and views called Burke’s Joystick. Sadly, as of late there is a leftward push in the video game journalism world, so my blog tries to cover video games from a conservative angle, as well as serving as a way to expose new people to the hobby, especially those who wrongly dismiss video games as mere “kid stuff.” You can visit it here: http://burkesjoystick.blogspot.com/
What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?
Well, I am pretty sedate by nature, and not much of a lover of the outside world, so you aren’t going to get me to confess to anything truly crazy like cliff diving, or some other extreme sport. For me, a thrilling evening is a good book and a glass of fine port! So, I guess my “craziest” hobby would be games, any and all types, but in particular video games because the computer does all the work! As with my experience with National Review, the clouds also opened for me when I received one of the original Atari 2600s as a gift. Even as a child I could see the possibility for this new medium of entertainment. While it has had its ups and downs, the video game industry has been more than a little successful in delivering on that promise. A good video game sparks my imagination in the same fashion as a good book. In fact, I would go so far as to say that video games have delivered far more original and entertaining stories and settings than anything I have seen come out of Hollywood in a long time. Even more interestingly, I have seen more than a few video games expose some fantastic if obscure science fiction and fantasy books to a larger audience.
For example, the Strugatsky brothers’ Roadside Picnic wasadapted into the popular Stalker series of video games, and Andrzej Sapkowski’s dark fantasy The Last Wish became the beloved Witcher video game franchise. In many ways, the video game industry has been far more adventurous in finding fresh material for their medium than Hollywood or television has been, which is why I continue to find it such a rewarding hobby. And, of course, you have had the reverse where a popular game has spawned a popular book series of its own, such as the aforementioned Warhammer 40K – some of its novelizations have already graced the New York Times bestsellers list. Gaming is long past the days of Pac-Man and Space Invaders!
I am a gray pixel. That is, I am a middle aged video gamer who has been playing games for quite a few decades now, really, all the way back to the early days of the Atari 2600. And I have seen a lot of gaming trends over those years. A lot. But there is one aspect of the video game culture that has remained constant, a guiding “North Star” of the hobby if you will, that has always intrigued me. Simply, it would be the burning love exhibited by the gaming community for space games. And not just any type of space game–I am not talking Space Invaders here–but for games where the player is permitted to enjoy the limitless freedom that outer space provides, particularly economic freedom. Really, when it comes to video games, space simulations have proven to be the hobby’s monument to Milton Friedman.
Huh? What is that? You thought video games were decidedly anti-conservative, like the rest of the pop culture? Actually, no. As someone who has not only been a long-time gamer but has also done my fair share of gaming journalism, I can assure you that a lot of the themes in the world of gaming are actually conservative in temperament. So conservative, in fact, that as of late a number of progressive developers have been attempting to pull the industry leftward. For example, Red Redemption released Fate of the World in which the player is made global dictator and charged with “protecting the Earth’s resources and climate versus the needs of an ever-growing world population.” Molleindustria, a publisher that calls for the “radicalization of popular culture,” offers Phone Story, a mobile game that “attempts to provoke a critical reflection on its own technological platform” by making the player “symbolically complicit in coltan extraction in Congo, outsourced labor in China, e-waste in Pakistan and gadget consumerism in the West.” Video games have now entered the realm of political propaganda.
Despite such progressive forays into gaming, most video games remain rather conservative in their outlook. And none more so than open world, colloquially known as “sandbox” space games in which the player is challenged to make a living by trading and mission-running out on what Gene Roddenberry so appropriately termed “the final frontier”. This idea of a game built around the roguish space trader preceded even such iconic space smugglers as Star Wars‘ Han Solo or Firefly‘s Malcolm Reynolds. And David Kaufman coded Space Trader back in 1974. But it wouldn’t be until 1984 when David Braben releasedElite on the BBC Micro that the a space trading game genre would really hit the big time. That game is often considered to be the one of the greatest ever made. Its success was followed by other popular titles, such as Christopher Roberts’ Freelancer, a 2003 mega-hit in the world of would-be space entrepreneurs. The genre had definitely found an audience.
Regardless of the specific title, the theme always remained the same when it came to such economically oriented space sims. Rarely did the player need to acquire a spaceship just to pick up his government cheese at the nearest space welfare office. Rather, gameplay always revolved around the player setting out on a daring new life, free from the nanny state hassles of Hillary Clinton’s “It Takes a Village” manifesto, where the player could pursue fame and fortune as he saw fit. This theme continues to be a mainstay of the genre, as evidenced by the latter-day offspring of Braben’s and Roberts’ classic titles. For example, read this official description of EVE Online, one of the more popular contemporary “sandbox” space games:
“Economic power and industrial might are as crucial to the capsuleers of EVE as to any other society that has sought to impose its will on history. The space-industrial economy of New Eden is increasingly controlled by the capsuleers, who produce and use a large proportion of its vast output. Capsuleers mine asteroid belts and moons for vital resources. They exploit planets through their colonies and build starbases and outposts, in order to refine minerals and create exotic new materials. These pilots research their own creations and construct them in nanoforges controlled by sophisticated blueprints. The capsuleer market sees trillions of ISK in transactions every day, with goods ranging from ore to battleships changing hands in vast quanities. This economy is the engine that drives EVE’s never-ending cycle of creation and destruction.”
EVE Online, like many space games, is built upon the notion of a free market–albeit, a sometimes violent, brass knuckles-enforced free market–that serves as the driving engine of a future civilization. The community wouldn’t have had it any other way. Indeed, international gamers, which number somewhere well over 400,000, have so embraced this laissez-faire environment over the game’s eleven year existence that the developer, CCP, needed to hire Dr. Eyjolfur Gudmundsson, an economist, to help keep the game’s economy under control. Dr. Gudmundsson, a newcomer to the world of video gaming, was stunned by the game’s complex economic model. He would write:
“EVE Online is emerging to become a true economic system which is self-sufficient in providing the goods and services required for its own universe, which has several categories of pilots and thousands
of items. The fact that EVE Online is a single universe in which all pilots can trade and share items directly with each other makes it one of the most complex virtual economic systems today.”
This title is not just capitalistic in gameplay, either. More than a few players have declared (in the game’s active forum community) that, having been exposed to EVE Online‘s thrilling free market environment, they chose to pursue real world entrepreneurial undertakings, or even a degree in business as a result. The game is what once might have been referred to as free market “edu-tainment”.
Yet another space game that exemplifies this laissez-faire attitude is the forthcoming title, Elite: Dangerous, the official sequel to Braben’s Elite from 1984 (a BBC Micro is no longer required, fortunately). Here is its description:
“You can trade for profit between systems, ruthlessly pillage and pilfer at any given opportunity, take part in alliances to bring down planetary economies, tipping the balance of power, or simply explore the open world wonders of the galaxy, together or alone….Your first trade is much more than merely padding your bank account – it puts you in the driving seat of your own story. Your choices can make you wealthy, can make you powerful, and can make you knowledgeable, but can also make you the target of every Elite-wannabe from here to the edge of the galaxy.”
Again, is this not the essence of a free market economy in game form? Although Elite: Dangerous may never attain the lofty economic heights of Eve Online as the game is still under development (but eager space traders can buy into the beta program now), it is again heartening to see such free market principles at the core of the experience. Indeed, this game owes its very existence to capitalism, as Elite: Dangerous was the beneficiary of a crowd-sourced funding effort that reached the sizable sum of 1.7 million pounds (around $2.8 million dollars). That’s gamers using capitalism to finance a game about space capitalism. How appropriate.
Killer Instinct is a 2D Fighting game with rendered 3D sprites with a heavy focus on combos.
What’s so great about it?
At the time Killer Instinct came out, there was nothing like it in most respects. It used pre-rendered graphics, instead of the photo-rendered graphics made popular by Mortal Kombat, giving it a unique look. Combos were a relatively new gameplay feature, but Killer Instinct put them to the forefront, making for fast-paced gameplay. Combined with a varied cast of interesting characters and a strong rock soundtrack, it’s a game that endures to this day– so much so that it was recently revived for the Xbox One consoles as Killer Instinct Classic in its original arcade form.
How can I play it?
Only with a copy of the original cartridge or emulation, but there’s always Killer Instinct Classic on Xbox One.
There are bad games, alright games, good games, and great games. Great games are the ones where everything is firing on all cylinders — gameplay, story, music and graphics are all top notch. The following 10 are the best games the NES has to offer.
10. Rad Racer
What is it?
Rad Racer is an on-rails racing game where you dodge cars to reach the goal.
What’s so great about it?
This game has pretty much everything going for it, considering it was among the earlier waves of NES games released for the system. The graphics took advantage of a parallax scrolling technique which simulated a horizon as players drove through the various stages and their terrains. The in-game music, which was composed by Final Fantasy veteran Nobuo Uematsu, was catchy on its own, but there was the option for silence if someone wanted to use their own tunes while they played.
The gameplay is especially intense because the NPC cars seemed to appear out of nowhere, meaning that if you were going too fast you’d crash and waste precious time trying to roll back over. Too many mistakes like this and you won’t make it to the checkpoints in time, leading to a game over. Most of the fun comes from seeing just how far you can get.
How can I play it?
Unfortunately, Rad Racer can only be played legally with a physical copy of the game and an NES console.
Millions of people around the world owe significant chunks of their childhood memories to the Nintendo Entertainment System. Countless hours of time were spent playing video games on the NES, and when asked most people would recall playing entries in classic franchises such as Mario, Mega Man, Castlevania, and the like. Among these long-running and beloved games are others that don’t get quite as much attention, and the following five are some that deserve it the most.
What kind of game is it?
StarTropics is an Action-Adventure game in the vein of Legend of Zelda. The story is about Mike, a young man who traveled to C-Island to visit his uncle and locally renowned scientist Dr. Steve Jones, AKA “Dr. J.” Upon arriving, Mike discovers that his uncle has gone missing, and sets forth on an adventure to find him across various islands with the help of Dr. J’s assistant Baboo and… a yo-yo?
Pop culture has become as much of a religious powerhouse as Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism or any other faith. Don’t believe me? Sit in a college classroom. Better yet, attend a fan convention or simply rent the film Trekkies. Films, shows, bands, comic books and their like have become, for some, sources of spiritual nourishment. Do you feel the power?
12. What was once DVR-able is now weekly appointment television.
“Appointment TV” doesn’t begin to describe your weekly ritual. All pressing engagements are pushed aside, phones are silenced, and ritual food is laid out on the coffee table to be partaken in as the ceremony commences. You still DVR the show for good measure, being sure to re-watch at least once, if not multiple times in deep study so that you may discuss the meanings of both text and subtext with fellow fans.
The devil and hell setting reminds me of this early entry in the Silly Symphonyseries, “Hell’s Bells,” animated by Ub Iwerks:
I think where the deepest lasting imprint of the hellfire stuff remains in the Disney cultural consciousness is as the notorious ending of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at DisneyLand, a perpetual mystery to all children who pass through it:
At the end of the ride when you get to hell the room noticeably heats up. I bet it’s just a matter of time before home video games get to the point where they’re shifting the physical environments the players are in to match with the on-screen action…
Sunday, June 15th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture Debates!
In partnership with the new fiction publishing platform Liberty Island, PJ Lifestyle is going to begin promoting and co-hosting a series of debates and discussions about popular culture. The goal is to figure out what works and what doesn’t so that in the future we can promote and create better fiction and culture of our own. These are public brainstorming sessions for writers and culture advocates interested in developing a more vibrant popular culture. You’re invited to submit your answers to any of these questions — or a related one of your own! — that interests you: