July 2008


The previous Wii-centric post reminded me of something about the Nintendo DS that I’ve wondered since it’s release…can it create a renewed interest and popularity of the point-and-click adventure game?

I grew up on these games.  The Sierra “Quest” series (Police, KIngs, Space, et al), Myst, the games LucasArts made a name for themselves with like Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, Sam & Max.  I loved these games.  Scratch that, I love these games.

And it seems to me that the stylus based dual screen action the Nintendo DS offers is the perfect platform to try and revitalize the genre.

And there have been some notable attempts.  Hotel Dusk.  The Phoenix Wright games.  But nothing quite like the “click here to move there, click that item to examine it, use your inventory to solve puzzles” template that worked so well for years.

If I were LucasArts, I’d actually port some of my classics over to the DS to test the waters.  I’d probably buy a port of any of the Monkey Islands (even the fourth), or Day of the Tentacle, or Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis.  Test the waters, see what the reception is.

Because I really feel that the system lends itself perfectly for a resurgence of these kinds of games.  Instead of a mouse, you have a stylus…it’s really that simple.

But alas, the mentality of most gamers these days is ultra realistic and lets face it, the point and clickers weren’t really all about that.

Is the Wii a gimmick or is it a serious gaming console. Most gamers have come to a conclusion on this subject already and I am no exception. I’ve made my decision, and I’m gonna present it to you. Remember, this isn’t a question of it is a good system or a bad system. That’s a different subject all together and I won’t touch it. I’m sure some people out there may disagree with my points and that’s fine. In fact, I encourage you to let leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

Lets first look at the game situation, an important point for every system. If you head over to GameRankings.com and take a look, of the 126 titles released between the first Wii being sold and the end of 2007 that had at least 10 reviews, three games ranked above 90% and 52 games ranked below 65%. So, for every A student on the system, there were 17 failures, with the majority of games getting below a 75. Developers are pushing out games for the Wii in hopes of people buying them. They don’t have to be good games, just games. And with the sudden influx of casual gamers who didn’t read reviews or talk to other people about upcoming games, developers could get away with this shovelware. So even if the usual game journalists reviewed it and found it severely lacking, Nintendo’s new market wasn’t aware of the reviews. Instead they buy games that have pretty box art or catchy lingo on it or some brand or character that they liked. People will only buy games for a system for so long if the games they buy are terrible.

Lets look at their Internet offerings next. Microsoft has Xbox Live and Sony has the PlayStation Network, but what does Nintendo have? You can read the news, check the weather, browse the Internet and download a few classic games, but not too many of them because you only have about 2 gigs of storage. The games that do come out with Internet capabilities have 25 character long friend codes. So you can only play with people who’s friend codes you have, which can only message to your friend’s across systems if they had your system code as well. Actually, only if you both had each other’s system codes. Yes, a couple games have random matchmaking now, but you can’t talk to these people or send them messages to try and play with them later. Nintendo has since said that all this code business is hampering on-line play and they are looking for a fix. They have fixed the lack of communication though. A mike will being released with the new Animal Crossing game this fall. And the mike works with… well I guess just Animal Crossing.

Now you may say I’m not part of the group Nintendo built this for. That may or may not be true, but these are the two issues that make the Wii look like a gimmick and not a serious system. I think there are three paths for the casual gamer Nintendo has targeted. The first path is that they get tired of playing the same old games over and over or get tired of bad games and just stop playing all together. Path two has them staying happy with the system. Just the right amount of good games come out to match the time they have to play and the Wii fits them perfectly. The final path has them use the Wii as a stepping stone into the deep world of gaming and they end up buying a 360 or PS3 as well. Then slowly, the Wii gets ignored a little more each day, until it just sits there, looking pretty and getting turned on when friends come over. I see paths one and three being tread a lot more than path two. Do I think Nintendo is ever going to look back at this system as a failure? No, I don’t think anyone can. But I do think that this system will see less and less play as time goes on. Remember, Tamagatchis and Beanie Babies sold a lot too, and where are they now? Let me know what you guys think about the Wii, does it really have what it takes, is it just a hook to grab people, or does it just not matter?

I’ve seen this video a million times but didn’t really pay attention to the words until last week. The end of the video doesn’t jive with the lyrics. Which lead to this exchange with my ex-girlfriend.

G: they broke up, he boned some chick, wanted her back, saw her out with another guy…wanted her back more
G: she bitched and complained, then took him back
G: why does that make no sense?
Fernando: it doesnt fit the song
Fernando: the song is about him leaving her 2 go bone other chicks
G: which he did
Fernando: yea, but he doesnt come to the realize that he wants her back at the end
Fernando: he’s still in sorry but i gotta do this mode
G: to the common hip-hop head, the song ends there
G: but, there’s an “i’m sorry, baby” at the end, where it kind of throws things off
G: then a song on his next album is “where you are (is where I want to be)’
G: and the point is that basically that he was wrong
G: and “where i wanna be” was just his stupidity
F: yes, but i dont think the im sorry is in the original song
G: yeah it is
G: at the end
G: it’s just that radio versions don’t always play it
F: and i know about where u are, and its a perfect companion to that song, and if it had a video, theres where u should b banging on a window ruining her date with karl kani
G: lol
F: and im sorry, could just b him saying sorry 2 the chick, not necessarily saying he wants her back
G: this is tru
G: but i think that’s y he made the video in that way
G: to take the song in that direction
F: to me, it doesnt jive, i love that he’s not happy go lucky all the time
F: the whole video has this sadness 2 it, even after the empty sex
F: but asking for her back at the end is too much
G: lol interesting
F: its not what the song is about
G: i guess it’s all about interpretation
F: i should just save this and make it the blog entry
G: lol
G: i guess (as with all other art forms) it really just comes down to where your mental is at when you encounter it
F: true
G: do you see the irony in us having this conversation?
F: i wouldnt call it irony, but yes
G: ok
F: its one of those “what are they really talking about” moments lol
G: yeeeeah
F: but yea, i dont think ill ever like the end of that video
F: rest of the video: fabulous
F: end, not so much
F: plus what woman would leave karl kani
G: oh well, somehow, i think donnell jones will make it
G: not me
F: KARL KANI
G: not with all those sweaters he makes

You be the judge.

I freakin love watching movie trailers, I think that some trailer are way better than their subsequent movies. I am one of those guys that will wait an extra two hours at the theater if I happened to arrive late and were about to miss the trailers.

Since I’ve started with HP6, I might as well put the ones that I’ve recently seen and fell in love with during my screening of The Dark Knight, not that I only liked two of them, because I actually liked them all.

I absolutely cannot wait for these movies to come out.

WATCHMEN

The Spirit

Ran into this earlier tonight and just couldn’t wait to share it with everyone. It looks really good and I can’t wait to see it. The young Voldemort, played by Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, Ralph Fiennes nephew, creeps me out.

***MAJOR SPOILERS as usual…nothing about the actual movie i’m reviewing, per say, but Fernando gets mad at me for not slapping a disclaimer on my references to other movies and TV shows. so if you don’t want to read anything about…say…”Lost,” turn back now.***

in this excellent sequel to 2004’s “Man on Fire,” Creasy manages to evade the Mexican mob, get stitched up, and find his way back into the loving arms of Pita. the two move to Baltimore and Creasy joins the BPD’s Major Crimes Unit. the whirlwind love affair, however, ends in tragedy; Creasy is arrested for faking serial killings and is sent to jail. inside, he gets too talky and, in a twist of irony, he is set on fire.

no, no…

see, my original title for this review was derivative of “Not Penny’s Boat,” the poignant words Charlie uses in his dying moments to warn Desmond that a rescue boat isn’t what it seems. on “Lost,” a sign with a straightforward statement like that manages to have a couple meanings: once one realizes it’s not Penny’s (Desmond’s old flame) boat, then whose is it? and what danger does that signify? or is Charlie just a ponce with a hand cramp who forgot to include “…it’s the Coast Guard” in his last words? of course, fans know now what that message meant….anyway, where was i? see, i wanted to title this review “Not Denzel’s Movie” because of the similarity and my sophomoric amusement with the title. but, it would have required an explanation. wait…

fuck it, moving on…

Man on Wire

(2008, Dir. James Marsh)

“Man on Wire” refers to the brief note scribbled by an NYPD officer on the arrest papers of Philippe Petit on August 7, 1974, after the Frenchman walked a high wire strung between the north and south towers of the recently completed World Trade Center. Petit, an accomplished bohemian circus performer, had made news by doing similar stunts between the steeples of Notre Dame and the trusses of Sydney Harbor Bridge, but the WTC adventure gained him fame and admiration, as well as notoriety with New York law enforcement.

the fact is that the playful acrobat, Petit, committed major felonies to fulfill his dreams of walking a wire atop the highest building on earth at the time. breaking in, entering restricted areas, hiding from security, tying on over a thousand dollars worth of wires and anchors, and, of course, engaging in an act most would label “suicide” are just a few of his crimes. suicide, after all, is illegal. but when one considers how far they’d go to fulfill their dreams, Petit’s stunt is rather, well, beautiful. he wasn’t directly causing any danger to the structure or other people, making his crime endearing as an example of “when you want something, nothing is impossible.”

the documentary is the most engaging and fun experience i’ve had since “The King of Kong” and “The Aristocrats.” like those two docs, “Man on Wire” does not have a social or political agenda to absorb. it is simple entertainment. you observe the subject, follow a story, and come away feeling happy. the footage and pictures of Petit laying precariously a quarter mile above earth is at once scary and utterly amazing to behold. if you think it’s impossible to be awed by a movie these days, i present you with the unfiltered and unsafe reality captured in “Man on Wire.”

if that wasn’t enough, the documentary’s impact hits another level post-September 11th. unlike depictions of the horrors that occurred at and to the World Trade Center since 1993, this whimsical event gives a glory and magic to the buildings as the backdrop to human endeavor. this was a sign that supported the WTC’s goal of being a positive symbol for change the world over. the beautiful sentiment boils below the surface of the movie, even though you might not pick up on it while you delve into childlike glee.

Petit’s personality only helps matters, as he acts like a crazy man between witty remarks and broken English. this is the black sheep of the family. this is the odd cousin. this is one of Santa’s little helpers all grown up. and the friends and family interviewed fill out a picture of a determined and unstable individual you just want to follow to see what he does next.

the inspiring and fun story has some bittersweet aspects that make you appreciate it for maybe being the first fantasy documentary, a perfect blend of realistic underpinnings and dreams come true.

Grade: A

I thought for a long and hard 10 seconds about what to write about in my first “real” post.  (that other post was imaginary…like my best friend Kiko the Wonder Monster)   I thought about dragging out Gregor in to a streetfight about Keaton vs. Bale.  I thought about talking about how as a Towson graduate it makes me quite conflicted to think of a UDel QB as the Ravens future.  I considered pointing out how, right now, I’d probably be a good option at shortstop for the Baltimore Orioles.  I mulled over talking about how I’m cautiously optimistic for Metallica’s upcoming album Death Magnetic.  Yes, I think about a lot in 10 seconds.  Stephen Hawking ain’t got shit on me!

But in the end I’ve decided that I want to talk about my favorite TV show right now.  Well, being shown right now.  I still pine for Dexter but the new season is still a little while away.  No, I speak of Burn Notice.  Because let’s face it, a show that can take the best qualities of the A-Team, MacGyver, Magnum PI, The Equalizer, etc, and make it fresh is aces in my book.

Burn Notice

And if that weren’t enough…Bruce Campbell.  BRUCE.  CAMPBELL.  If you aren’t watching this show, or going to USA’s website to catch up already, what the hell is wrong with you?  Were you born without the gene that tells you when something rules?

For those of you who didn’t manage to catch the first season, or the blitz of re-running the first season right before the second season started 3 weeks ago, Burn Notice is about Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan), spy.  Sorry, ex-spy.  See, he was burned.  Hence the name of the show.  Let’s try and keep up.  He’s got no clue why, but he’s cut off, and stuck in Miami…which happens to be his hometown.  I doubt that’s coincidence but we’ll never know until the plot fully plays out.  Since he’s cut off, and desperate to find out why the hell he was burned and to clear his name, he does “odd jobs” to make money.  And since he’s a pretty smart and resourceful fellow, he manages to make due with what is handed to him…of course, it seems that’s exactly what the people who burned him wanted…but that’s getting ahead of the game.

Along the way to help him are his ex-girlfriend (who was also an IRA agent who loves guns and destruction) Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar), who needs to eat a FREAKING SANDWICH GIRL!), and ex-Navy Seal turned washout alcoholic Sam (the aforementioned Bruce Campbell, who looks like he should stop eating sandwiches…maybe give them to Gabrielle).  During the first season, his annoying brother Nate was also around for the ride sometimes…but it looks like he’s going to be absent for the second season.  Which is good, because the character was kind of annoying.  He also has has to deal with his hypochondriac chain smoking mother (Sharon Gless), which gives the show a weird Everybody Loves Raymond vibe sometimes.

But hey, spies have mommies, too.  And as the series progresses, we get to see why a guy like Michael would want to become a spy, and stay the heck out of contact with his family.

One of the things I love about the show is something I would normally bitch and moan about on any other show…voiceovers.  Mainly because on other shows, they’re cutesy, trite, and annoying.  With Burn Notice, they’re a great glimpse in to the mind of our protagonist…I really like the ones where the action stops or slows while he explains his thought processes in that split second.  MacGyver did this early on and abandoned it.  Of course, MacGyver abandoned a lot of things…like the fact that he was a spy that worked for some sort of shadowgov front called the Phoenix Foundation…because halfway through the show he just sort of turned in to a jack of all trades that worked for this random charitable foundation called…the Phoenix Foundation.

But I digress…the voiceovers work mainly because Donovan makes them work, exactly like he makes Michael work.  That wry wit, calm demeonar that belies the very dangerous man that lurks right beneath the surface, this guy is a diamond in the rough.  I remember seeing him on other shows, ultimately ill-fated, but it seems like he’s now found his role, and hopefully he’ll stick around.

I also, for some reason, love the “character introductions.”  Whenever a new person or show specific character is shown for the first time, a little blurb pops up, usually saying who they are.  Sometimes they’re straight forward, like the first time you meet Fiona, it simply says Fiona: The Ex-Girlfriend.  Sometimes they’re funny, like when Michael is being talked in to a job, and is told someone has a problem, and the blurb says ” ‘The character’s’ Problem.”  Why I find that so amusing, I don’t know.  Oh look, a yellow hat!

The show has style, the show has grace, Rita Hayworth gave good face (and I hear Princess Vespa gives great helmet).  Michael is a bad ass, but he’s also not infallible…he’s gotten his ass handed to him on occasion.  I particularly like the time someone twice his size is trying to get info out of him, but is choking him.  This exchange is classic Michael Westen.  Getting asked questions, he chokes out “I..can’t tell you…if you keep…choking me!”

It’s also chock full of running gags.  Like yogurt.  Or when Sam and Fi introduced themselves as Cagney and Lacey (Gless of course being on that show).  It’s enough to keep a pop culture junkie like me giggling.

So, I submit unto thee Burn Notice.  If you’re watching it, good for you, you’ve got good taste.  If you’re waiting, stop.  Watch.  Love.

I bid you adieu to you, and you, and you.

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