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The 5 Things I think about Playstation 3 after having it a week

5. The SIXAXIS controller if very light, but instantly comfortable and familiar. Not having a battery pack strapped to it is an appreciated feature and the USB charge interface is the same for my Digital camera which means no purchasing of needless accessories.

4. I feel stupid for admitting this, but I do miss Achievements. Then again, achievements have chained me to games that I didn't want to play in the past and for what? a higher Gamerscore? Something happened to me over the past year, Microsoft got me with those damn achievement points! I thought they were stupid when I first got my Xbox...then I liked them...and now I'm just not sure...

3. Not including an HDMI cable (~$50) is really annoying...ok, maybe that would be ok if Sony included another type of HD hookup...nope. I can understand not including an HDMI cable but come on! only a basic video hookup! not even S-video? Really annoying.

2. While PSN is not nearly as robust as Live Marketplace, the caliber of downloadable games is fantastic. Not having a size limit certainly opens things up. Calling All Cars and Everyday Shooter are among the best downloadable games I've played. While the store interface sucks compared to Xbox Live...It's Freaking FREE! and you don't have to buy can just pay for things exactly...Thanks Sony. Did I forget to mention the PS3's built in wireless? Great!

1. The Graphics on PS3 PWN Xbox and Wii. You really don't apprecaite the power of a Playstation 3 until you get your HDMI cable and hook it up on an HD set....WOW! First Party Games make Gears look generic. Bravo Cell Processor

The Atari 7800 Video Game Console

First Released: June 1986 (USA)
Gaming Era: 8-bit
CPU: 1.79Mhz
Cost: $139.99
Sales: 1 Million Units
Controller: Joystick
Death: Jan 1992
Life: 5.5 years
Best Games: Pole Position II, Mario Bros, Asteroids, Donkey Kong

The Atari 7800 was too little too late. By the time it was released, the NES already had a firm grasp on the US market and the Sega Master System had the rest. The Atari 7800 was compatible with all Atari 2600 games (making it a valuable collector's item) but it was plagued by a 2 year delay and a complete lack of titles due to many developers exclusive contracts with Nintendo. It should be noted that Atari made one of the Biggest Video Game Mistakes of all time by turning down Nintendo's offer to manufacture the NES in America in favor of the 7800. One can only imagine what the Atari name would mean today if they had the sense to accept Nintendo's offer.

Happy Holidays!

The Atari 5200 Console

First Released: Nov 1982 (USA)
Gaming Era: Early 8-bit
CPU: 1.79Mhz
Cost: $249.99
Sales: Exact Figure Unknown, but very Poor
Controller: Joystick w/keypad
Death: 1984
Life: 1.5 years
Best Games: Space Invaders, Dig Dug, Q*bert, Robotron 2084

The Atari 5200 was a failure despite it's improved graphics. It's big mistake was that it was not backwards compatible with the successful Atari 2600 (this was later resolved albeit too late). Of course there was another big mistake: the joystick sucked - it broke and wore easily and didn't auto-center making games like pac-man miserable. Atari didn't really support the 5200 either, instead continuing to focus on the 2600. Then the Video Game Crash hit...which pretty much killed the 5200. There were 125 games released for the 5200 and they were of good quality garnering a cult following for the 5200. However the 5200, remains one of the first misteps of many by Atari.

Retro Review: Atari Asteroids

You can play asteroids above for yourself. The above is a pretty spot-on translation of the 80s Arcade classic. It seems even more appropriate to review Asteroids since it was just released to Xbox Live Arcade. Asteroids was surely one of the best games for the Atari 2600. The game gave you more control over your ship (compared to space invaders) and while it was only black and white, it featured smooth animations/rotations for the time. The most important thing was that the gameplay was simple yet extremely challenging. As an arcade game this puppy just ate your quarters up and it is still worthy of a couple minutes here and there. Does Asteroids stand the test of time? Not really. The gameplay is too simplistic compared to even NES or Master System games, and while it still controls/plays well, it is clearly an arcade game with limited appeal. Graphics & Sound are pathetic and poor for even 2d games, so while in its day it was king, Asteroids is a little too retro for its own good. It still offers a decent challenge though and of course has that nostalgic flair.

Indie Showcase: Outpost Kaloki

In honor of Ninjabee and it's recent release of Band of Bugs on PC, we are showcasing one of Ninjabee's best titles: Outpost Kaloki. Outpost Kaloki is a simplified Real Time strategy game that challenges you to build a space station. It's a fantasic game that is also available for Xbox 360. We gave it a no fears BUY IT NOW for only $14.95! At the very least Play the Demo below.

The Atari 2600

First Released: Oct 1977 (USA)
Gaming Era: Early 8-bit

CPU: 1.19 Mhz
Cost: $199.99
Sales: ~40 Million
Controller: Joystick
Death: Jan 1992
Life: 14 years 2 months
Best Games: Pitfall, Adventure, Breakout, & Pong

While there are technically earlier systems...they really were more like computers. Atari is the home console that started it all. Before Nintendo & Japan ruled Gaming, a US company started bringing video games into people's homes. While released in the late 70s, Atari didn't explode until 1980 when it brought in profits over $2 billion dollars. It reigned supreme until the video game crash of 1983. The Atari era gave birth to one of the biggest developers today: Activision. Activision's Pitfall! is considered the best selling game ever for the Atari 2600.

Video Game Systems Evolution and Pictorial History

Get ready for a serendipitous retrospective look into video game history over the course of the next few months. With 2008 approaching, it's time to take a look at gaming past. It's time to remember Neo Geo, 3DO, Atari Jaguar, TurboGrafx 16, and many others. The above picture/chart shows the start of home gaming and the evolution of game systems over the years (click the picture/chart to see it full screen). In the coming months, we'll have video game system profiles, console war sales figures, video game medium evolution and much more. Retro Gaming and Video Game History is coming this Holiday Season and will continue into 2008.

Top 5 Games to Watch for in 2008

5. Devil May Cry 4 (PS3, Xbox 360)
Devil May Cry 4 Jumps the ship from Dante to Nero...which definitely bums me out and makes me sceptical. If they follow the DMC3 formula, here's a winner. If they mess with it too much (DON'T Get Rid of Styles!) then we may have DMC2 on our hands. Perhaps only odd #ed DMC are good.

4. GTA IV: Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3, Xbox 360)

GTA IV returns to Liberty City. The story looks good, dealing with Eastern European Immigrants and them trying to establish some criminal power in Liberty City. Graphics are OK and what else do we really know about GTA IV? If they don't have some kind of online element...been there done that...but still it's GTA so you have to anticipate it.

3. Castle Crashers (Xbox Live Arcade)
Gameplay: Old School Arcade Beat-em-Up + Great Unique HD visuals + 4 Player Co-op = One helluva a Live Arcade Offering. You have got to love the Behemoth (they made Alien Hominid). A great Indie Studio to keep your eye on for sure.

2. Super Smash Brothers Brawl (Wii)
This game has been plagued by delays, but they're for the right reasons...options, options, and more options. You can play this game with every freaking controller imaginable and it offers Halo-esque online features such as movie creation and level creation. Definitely an Online Contender.

1. MGS4: Metal Gears Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)
Sony has held onto this exceptional game. As of this writing and despite all the rumors, MGS4 Remains a Playstation exclusive. With tremendous graphics, an epic story (which will hopefully shed light on MGS2), and the same innovative stealth action with a couple new tricks, MGS4 is looking to be fantastic. It's already a system seller, since I'll be picking up one of those reduced price PS3s specifically for MGS4 and Metal Gear Online come this Spring.

Mass Effect Xbox 360 Review

Mass Effect is a Bioware game, action fans be wary because not that much has changed since Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire. Mass Effect is definitely an RPG, but it gives action fans something to grab a hold of with a pretty dynamic battle system. This game is not for everyone, but is more approachable and enjoyable than Bioware's previous efforts.

Gameplay: 8.5/10
Pros: Much more action focused than Star Wars KOTOR and less button mashing than Jade Empire's real time battles, Dialog system with full speech is awesome and immerses you, engrossing story.
Cons: Enemy AI is suspect...usually just bum rush, Side Missions are repetitive and Ancillary planets are pretty much the same with different terrain skins, Not as Epic as advertised. No real Tutorial.

Graphics: 8/10
Pros: Graphics are gorgeous...just look at a still frame shot of this game in action...
Cons: The problem is that still frame shots don't capture the multiple layers of texture loading visible to the player or the frame rate hiccups and drops.

Sound/Music: 10/10
Pros: Great Orchestral Score, Tons of Dialog all performed (male/female for main character) by great voice actors. Listening to the Dialog instead of reading subtitles draws you so much deeper into the story and experience.

Lasting Appeal: 8.5/10
Pros: Lengthy Core Adventure (~20 hrs) with tons of side missions. Story is definitely worth finishing. Character Backstory, Sex, character class, and Choices greatly affect gameplay and with Achievements warrant replaying the game 2nd, 3rd time.
Cons: On repeated playthroughs, Side Missions will become more and more tedious. Battles can be hard/cheap.

Average: 87.50%
Tilt: +0.50%

Mass Effect is greater than the sum of its part. It is a fantastic Story and literally plays like an interactive movie. It's a shame there are some technical glitches that are readily apparent...and while they do not tremendously affect gameplay...they could've been smoothed out if Bioware was given another month or two. Downloadable Content could greatly expand/improve the game and its side misions if a couple more robust planets/levels were released. If you don't mind a slower paced game or are a RPG fan, then you probably already have Mass Effect. If you're an Action or Multiplayer guy...Mass Effect may offer you enough incentive to buy it, just make sure you play a friend's copy or rent it first.

Verdict: 88%

Indie Showcase: Steam Brigade

Steam Brigade is a fantastic and unique 2D action/Real Time Strategy Game. It has amazing graphics and oozes the style and individuality of the best Independent Games out there. Check out the free demo below or just BUY IT NOW, it's only $9.95.

Parents Don't Make these Mistakes! Top 5 Games to Avoid this Holiday Season

5. The Simpsons Game (Xbox360, PS3, PS2, Wii) - While this game is not a total bust, it is a very short lived experience and hardly worth the $60. Unless the person is a super hardcore Simpsons Fan and collector, pass this one up and get then a blockbuster gift card so they can rent it for the weekend.
4. Blacksite: Area 51 (PC, PS3, Xbox360) - Generic First Person Shooter Please!...that's all you'll get with Blacksite. The game oozes mediocrity, but what makes this such a bad purchase is the fact that you have options such as: Halo 3, The Orange Box, Resistance Fall of Man, etc. open to you.
3. Bleach: Shattered Blade (Wii) - Yes, all the kiddies love this anime show, but even rabid fans will hate this casual and completely botched fighting game. Fans will actually leave liking the anime less than when they first booted up the game.
2. Lair (PS3) - One of the most hyped Sony Gems is one of the biggest flops of the year. While the game is nice to look at, it is a nightmare to play and control. The lesson: just because a game has big cool dragons doesn't make it good.
1. Transformers: The Game (Xbox360, PS3, PS2)- Yes, I know the Movie was great, but the game is utterly pathetic. You'll scrap these tranformers robots faster than you can say "Cybertron."

Whatever Happened to Battletoads?

Talk about a series dying quickly (probably due to the Double Dragon Crossover)! Battletoads was one of the most graphically impressive and extremely difficult games for the NES. It was made by Rare Ltd. which is interesting since they have gone on to make so many hit games. Is it just me, or did this series seem extremely short lived considering its popularity? Oh well...

Nintendo Wii Holiday Buying Guide - Top 5 Games to Gift

5. Super Paper Mario - Perfect for the RPG fan and the more casual gamer alike. This little gaming gem started on Gamecube, but has solid gamepla and a unique "pop-up" book art style. It also lacks many of the "Wii" gameplay gimmicks.

4. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess - Perfect for the Nintendo Loyalist and the Adventure/Action fan. Twilight Princess is another solid entry into the Zelda story and offers a good mix of classic N64 Zelda action with some great Wii Control innovations.

3. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption - Yet another Nintendo franchise carried over to the Wii, Metroid offers is a great mix of adventure, FPS, and puzzle solving gameplay. Plus this guy wraps up the Prime Trilogy.

2. Super Mario Galaxy- Perfect for anyone with a Wii, this game marks the triumphant return of Mario. With an amazing critical reception, this game is the successor of Mario 64.

1. Super Smash Brothers Brawl- While this game is not technically going to be around for Xmas, Peoples should still take the time to preorder this game. This game has been delayed numerous times, but for the right reasons. Every delay comes alongside the announcement of some great new features. Nintendo is making this THE online brawler, giving it many additional community features a la Halo 3 to keep people playing this game for years to come.

Switchball Mini-Review

Switchball is one of the best looking XBLA titles available (I think Undertow beats it, but that's it). In addition, it is also a very entertaining and rewarding game. I guess you would call Switchball a puzzle game, but you certainly need some platforming skills to successfully roll your ball to the exit. The gamplay a revolves around...switchball-ing (sounds dirty)...switching your ball into other forms in order to complete tasks and move onto the exit. There's the standard marble, the heavy metal ball, a bouncy airball, and a slick multifaceted powerball. The art direction in this game is superb. The world is a beautiful looking DaVinci inspired world with odd gyrocopters and perpetuates the idea that you are one marble in a complex machine or gadget. If you like short but sweet games, Switchball is definitely for you.

4 different balls to control with different abilities
Beautiful Graphics and unique, interesting worlds
Easy Controls! (Analog stick and the A button)

Music/Sound is bargain basement and repetitive
There's only about 30 levels
Time Medals are very Strict

All in all, this game is a great buy for an evening/weekend of relaxing gaming fun. It has a slow pace and easy controls so it can be played by a wide range of people. It's too bad that the game gets frustrating when you start attempting to complete levels for even a bronze time medal. The music/sound could have been easily improved too, but it's about par for other games like this one. Give the game a download and try the demo (on Xbox Live or the PC). If it grabs you, give it a purchase and you won't be disappointed.

Gameplay: 8.5/10
Graphics: 10/10
Sound/Music: 7/10
Lasting Appeal: 7/10

Verdict: 83%

Playstation 3 Holiday Buying Guide: Top 5 Games to Gift

5. Assassin's Creed - Perfect for the Adventure enthusiast and Graphics whore, after all PS3 is the more powerful machine.
4. Motorstorm - Perfect for the Racing nut who likes to get down and dirty and enjoys a little more action over finesse in his racing.
3. Rock Band - Perfect for the whole family. Read our review about this MUST BUY game.
2. Rachet & Clank: Future Tools of Destruction- I haven't played this particular Ratchet, but have played all the others. They are solid games that deliver on their gameplay and humor. Always enjoyable for all ages, plus they're great platformers.
1. Uncharted: Drakes Fortune - Made by Naughty Dog, one of the premiere Sony developers since PS1 (Crash Bandicoot, Jak & Daxter) they always seem to create a new trilogy for a new Playstation. This game looks to be a fantastic adventure with spectacular animation and a variety of run/gun and platforming gameplay.

Rock Band Review

Simply put, Rock Band IS the Best Music Game Ever. Here's why: It's Fun!

Gameplay: 10/10
Pros: 3 Unique Experiences in the Drums, Guitar/Bass, and Singing
Band World Tour mode IS phenomenal and a true step in music game "campaign mode"
The Guitar Hero gameplay that Harmonix pioneered works great and is slightly tweaked for the better and across the other instruments.
Very approachable gameplay allows ANYONE to find an instrument and enjoy
Cons: Difficulty of the Drums is extremely steep compared to the other instruments
Band World Tour should allow you to complete the game (play all the challenges) on every difficulty rather than require you to play on Hard or above to unlock certain things...This results in you kicking some of your friends out of the band to beat certain challenges and thus taking away from the whole play with 3 of your friends aspect.

Graphics: 10/10
Pros: Fantastic Animation, Great lip-syncing, tons of venues, great effect filters and different choreography for each song make this the best looking Music game I've ever seen. The create a rocker mode is deep enough to offer tons of variety, but casual enough to create a character in a few minutes. The User Interface is also way better during gameplay, less intrusive and slicker looking. There are no complaints here in the graphics department.

Sound/Music: 9/10
Pros: Nearly all the songs are performed by the artist...and boy is that better than having covers. Tons of tracks span many decades and there's a much better mix of songs. There aren't the slew of "hard metal tracks that suck but are really hard to play" like there were in the final venues of Guitar Hero II. 45 Tracks with 13 Bonus Tracks shipped with the game and there are already a ton of downloadable tracks online that integrate perfectly into every mode.
Cons: The 58 tracks don't compare to the 80ish that are in Guitar Hero III. However, each track does give you more since you can play it for 4 instruments. Some may complain about the downloadable content (why didn't they include it if it was ready on day 1?) but ultimately it's Great to be able to shell out $1.99 for specific songs you really like and the best part is that they seamless integrate into every facet of the game.

Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Pros: The Band World Tour mode can last forever! I've put in over 20 hours probably and still have little "NEW" indicators by a bunch of cities. Then there's still all the more traditional solo careers...only about halfway through medium guitar, 6 songs into Easy Drums, and 20 songs of easy Microphone...The gameplay is great and there's always something new to strive for in Rock Band. All the above work has only netted me 90 achievement points...yikes!
Cons: Band World Tour is currently only Local Play...supposedly there will be a patch which will really cause this game to explode.

Average: 97.5%
Tilt: +0.5%

The fact that I played till 1:30am the first day I got it and then took the following day off to play it some more is a real indication of how great this game is...then over the weekend I had several different sets of friends (some who don' t even like Video Games) come over and enjoy the game is a testament to how good Rock Band is. The "Band" Co-op gameplay is well worth the $170 price tag and blows the competition out of the water (sorry GH3).

Verdict: 98%

Xbox 360 Holiday Buying Guide - The Top 5 Games

5. Assassins Creed - Perfect for the Adventure Fan who loves gorgeous graphics and animations.

4. Call of Duty 4 - Perfect for the Action Nut who wants to solve political problems with bullets rather than words.

3. Mass Effect - Perfect for the SciFi Nut and RPG nerd, but approachable for others. Mass Effect has an incredibly engrossing story and has gameplay that offers some broader appeal than the typical RPG.

2. Rock Band - Perfect for the whole family! Rock Band is an amazing achievement. I have only had it for a week and have found that the game is approachable to everyone from young kids, to gamers, to adults, even to the skeptical female who hates games. With 3 different instruments to master and multiple difficulty levels, everyone can find something they can handle/enjoy in Rock Band.

1. Halo 3 - The perfect gift for anyone with an Xbox 360. Simply put this game is a must have, an instant classic, and insanely fun to play.

Undertow Live Arcade Mini Review

In short, Undertow is a steal at 800 MS points so enjoy and download away!

3 Different Races, 4 different units
Interesting Single Player Campaign/Story
Gorgeous Graphics
16 Player Multiplayer (with bots)
Co-Op Story mode online and split screen
Easy to learn Controls
Deep Strategy
Fantastic Balance and Map Design

Campaign is too short
Can't Play as Alien Race (yet?)
Ranked Matches can be hard to find (Player matches much easier)

Undertow is one of the best looking games to come out on Xbox Live Arcade yet. I'm pretty sure it is the first one with ingame cinematics and voice acting as well. Undertow's gameplay is simple on the surface...think Geometry wars...but offers 4 different classes, 3 upgrades for each class and cleverly designed levels that all bring out the deeper strategies of the submerged, chaotic gameplay. The key strategies in this game revolve around the 4 classes of units, how you upgrade them through the course of a match, and how you dynamically change classes/use them in different situations. I wont' go into all the units, but basically there is a versatile, quick scuba diver, a slower, stronger powersuit, a quick submarine, and a slow lumbering underwater tank. The vehicles are good in the open waters where as the divers and powersuit units are best for the underwater caverns and tunnels. The game is an absolute steal at 800 points and puts a lot of the other Live Arcade titles to shame. It offers a complete package with single player, co-op campaign, and a very addictive multiplayer experience in a beautiful, Unreal (literally) package. Download the Demo and you'll see what I mean.

Gameplay: 9/10
Graphics: 10/10
Sound/Music: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 9/10

Verdict: 90%

Thanksgiving Update

Well, hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving. Here's some news & things coming during the Holiday season...

Rock Band Review - Playing it like is fantastic...but how fantastic?
Undertow Review
Mass Effect Review
Holiday Buying Guides: Top 5 Xbox 360 games, PS3 games, Wii Games, and of course how those fall into the Top 5 purchases overall.

As for Graduate Games news...
Sorry, but I forgot to remind everyone that Storked was available on Game du Jour yesterday. Many people took advantage and bought the game on sale. Storked is also one of the top 10 indie games of November on Perhaps more exciting is that we have 2 games in development. I hope to have 1 released by Spring/Summer 08 but we'll see how progress goes on both of them. Keep a look out for more on these games...

Showcase: Video Game Thanksgiving

Mass Effect, Rock Band, and Undertow all release next week in time for Turkey Day. They join other AAA titles such as Assassin's Creed and Uncharted: Drake's Fortune making for a plethora of great gaming choices over the holidays.

Storked reviewed on OUT OF EIGHT

James Allen released his review of Storked today and it's a pretty positive review. Here are some highlights, the complete review is here:

"The levels in the game are designed to take advantage of the penguins’ attributes and there are definitely some interesting solutions to figure out."

"Having all four of these penguins at your disposal can make for some pleasingly complex puzzles"

"The levels in the game are designed to take advantage of the penguins’ attributes and there are definitely some interesting solutions to figure out."

"While Storked is not the most visually impressive game to come out this year, it is playable and you don’t have to worry about camera angles."

"I suspect puzzle fans will have some fun with the game and its editor "

His Verdict:
"The Good: Varied abilities, straightforward controls, informative tutorial, numerous obstacles and levels, level editor
The Not So Good: Sluggish pace, usually only one solution
What say you? A puzzle game with diverse designs, effortless controls, and tons of objects, but it’s too linear and played at an arduous pace: 5/8"

It's a fair review and his main issue with the game is a fair one: the game does have a very deliberate pace. That pace can be tough/tedious on hardcore gamers used to the Halos, God of Wars, etc. of the world but is relaxing and welcome to a lot of people out there who aren't good at twitch gaming and timing. The key thing we were trying to do with Storked! was make a very easy game to play with simple controls and a lot of diverse things to do. It seems we succeeded at that and while I would argue that many puzzles have more than 1 solution, I can't attest to how difficult figuring the puzzles out can be since I already know all the solutions. Take the time to read the whole review here:

Hilarious Video Game Quote: Bad Dudes (NES)

This pretty much speaks for itself.
It's from Bad Dudes on NES.

Top 5 Best Video Game Systems EVER

5. Xbox 360 – Modern Graphics, Awesome Online, and the current next-gen console with the most and best games.

4. Playstation 2 – While PSone came out of nowhere and took command of the market, PS2 took the Sony to new heights. Nearly every great next-gen franchise (GTA, DMC, RE, MGS, etc) started on Playstation 1 or 2 and since PS2 has backward compatibility and sold a whole lot of consoles (~120 million rivaling Gameboy)…it’s better.

3. Gameboy – One Word: Tetris. If that’s not enough, this puppy is still the most sold game system of all time and it created the handheld market.

2. Genesis – I am going to go on the record and say the 16-bit era of gaming was one of the best eras ever (with some of the greatest controllers ever). Never have the 2 prevailing systems been so close with graphics/sounds and quality of games. The 16-bit era also lasted among the longest (6 years from the release of Genesis to Saturn vs. 4 years from NES to Genesis). The Genesis saw the proliferation of classic franchises such as Madden, Sonic, Mortal Kombat, and Street Fighter II. Some games where features on both Sega and SNES, but which was better was of constant debate. Genesis and SNES created the term “console wars” and saw the closest competition to date (approx 49 million to 29 million)

1. SNES – since this guy was the champion of the 16-bit era, it is king. While some may fuss that NES started it all and is the better system, I say this, go play Metroid and then play Super Metroid, go play SMB and then SMB World, go play ??? then play Mario Kart or Star Fox. SNES stands the test of time. The Graphics are more tolerable than PSone (if you ask me) and the gameplay is better than comparable NES titles. SNES probably has the most games featured on best games of all time lists. Look at many of the games on LIVE Arcade and Nintendo’s Wii channel. Many of the great classics are from the 16-bit era of gaming and have stood the test of time.

Stuntman: Ignition Review

Stuntman for the original PS2 was a favorite of mine, despite its many flaws. The difficulty built in a lot of challenge and longevity into the experience and I kept playing in order to unlock the next movie trailer. The sequel, Stuntman Ignition, is still challenging, but a lot more forgiving (no load times on restarts! THANK YOU!) and adds a very addictive Tony Hawk-esque Combo Scoring System.

Graphics: 9/10
Pros: Fantastic visuals, great animation and action sequences. Gorgeous replays.
Cons: FMV for movie trailers (mixing with ingame graphics) aren't necessary anymore. They should have used the ingame engine to do the movie trailers to make it look less disjointed.

Gameplay: 8.5/10
Pros: The gameplay & scoring system is vastly improved. No load times for restarts, serious driving skills required, and a variety of movies, commercials, stunt shows, and cars to fool around with.
Cons: Levels still require a lot of trial and error to figure out what's going on. No real way to beat a level on your first try. Instead of confusing sketches during the load screens, they should give you a map with all the stunts on it that you can look through prior to your stunt run.

Sound/Music: 8/10
Pros: The voicework for the directors/characters is all really well done. There are definitely a few good impersonations and charicatures of directors currently out there. Sound effects do the job well.
Cons: Standard music and score detract from the epic orchestral scores we hear in the movies

Lasting Appeal: 6/10
Pros: There's online multiplayer with several different modes, stunt shows, commercials, and quite a few movies to shoot through. There's also the challenge of stringing (comboing) every single movie scene to get full stars on each stage and unlock everything for the build your own stunt arena...which offers quite a few thrills itself.
Cons: NO ONE plays online...guess this game didn't sell very well or everyone is just caught up with Halo 3, Gears of War, etc. It is really annoying being forced to replay levels again to get higher stars to unlock the next movie...if you beat all the should unlock the next level. I didnt' have the patience to go back and replay the levels again to unlock the final movie, since I had to play some others over to unlock the movie I had just completed.

Average: 78.75%
Tilt: -0.75%

Stuntman: Ignition lacks some of the charm the original had. I still remember the orginal as having some of the best graphics on PS2...Ignition doesn't leave the same impression as far as graphics go for PS3 or Xbox 360. The movies aren't as diversified either and there isn't the same sense of working your way up from a small indie film to the big budget blockbuster...they all sort of seem like blockbusters...which ups the action but reduces the charm. It's still a good sequel and a pretty engrossing experience though.

Verdict: 78%

this review is bases on the xbox 360 version Launches

Graduate Games is proud to announce the launch of their casual games satellite site: Features a whole bunch of games to download and try. They are all pretty family friendly as well. Give it a look and be sure to take advantage of the 2 free games option.

Top 5 Best Power-Ups of all Time

5. Red Turtle Shell (Mario Kart) – while some may argue that some of the newer power-ups usurp the red turtle shell, nothing beat it back in the original Mario Kart. It was the prized possession in nearly every race and battle. In fact, Battle Mode in the original Mario Kart was little more than a race to get Red Turtle Shells.

4. Rings (Sonic) – How great was Sonic the first time you played it? The only way you could die was to get hit without any rings! Sonic’s Iconic Rings (unlike Marios Coins) gave you more than just an extra life, they provided protection, allowed you to reach Bonus Stages, and ultimately lead to Sonic’s true potential: Super Sonic.

3. Super Pellet (Pac-Man) – Game Changer, that’s how you describe the Pac Man Pellet. Once Pac-Man got a hold of this power-up the game changed from defense to offense. Now the tables had turned and the Ghosts were afraid of YOU!

2. Super Mushroom (Mario Bros.) – For many, this is the very first power-up they ever received in a video game. The super mushroom actually changed your appearance on screen and allowed you to break blocks and kill enemies. You feel defenseless without it in SMB. One of the most iconic power-ups available, this one has to be near the top.
1. The 1-Up – By far the most common power-up, this old guy was found in nearly every game until the 32 bit era when game saves became standard. It still is found in some games to this day. Truly the greatest power-up of all time, 1-ups give you everything from an extra couple minutes on an old coin-op to that extra chance you need in Contra or Ninja Gaiden.

Discuss this list in our forum

The Simpsons Game Review

The Simpson's Game is yet another game starring America's beloved dysfunctional family. It is a licensed game that features all the voice actors (there's over 8,000 original lines for the game or something ridiculously high) and some animated segments/shorts. Basically, it's a really long episode of the Simpsons, as an episode it's a game, it's short.

Gameplay: 6/10
Pros: Each family member has a different skill set, the levels offer a great variety and reference many classic episodes.
Cons: Gameplay is a heavy copycat of 3rd person platformers and even includes a troublesome camera and resulting frustration.

Graphics: 8/10
Pros: Playing this game is like playing the TV show. The game captures Springfield and the look of the show better than any other Simpsons game before it.
Cons: The cartoon / cel-shaded look definitely doesn't push the PS3 or Xbox360 or is all that impressive up to other next gen games.

Sound/Music: 9.5/10
Pros: The Voicework and effort of the actual cast in this game pays off. The story is great and the quips during gameplay to the actual script itself is fantastic and hysterical.

Lasting Appeal: 3/10
Pros: You'll absolutely want to play through the story and enjoy the script/writing and humor. If you really care about collecting things...there's PLENTY of that.
Cons: I beat the main game in about 3 days and 8 hours (Great rental - terrible buy). Now that I've seen the story, the gameplay, collectibles, achievements, etc. will not bring me back to the game. I don't care about collecting Homer's bottle caps, Bart's posters, etc. (though the Video game cliche's are pretty funnY). I'm done and it was fun while it lasted...just not $60 of fun.

Average: 66.25%
Tilt: -1.25%

As a game, the Simpson's Game isn't very good. It is an amazing Simpsons Episode with a phenomenal script, excellent voicework and decent gameplay to get you through it all. It's a great licensed game, but unfortunately if this game wasn't the Simpson's and didn't have the money and quality voice work and humor, it would probably drop an additional 10 pts or so. If your a fan of the Simpsons, you gotta rent it. If you're only a gamer, forget it.

Verdict: 65%

Showcase: Undertow is given a Release Date

Undertow is one of the more high profile Xbox Live Arcade Titles out there. I am defintely anticipating it and have been yearning for a release date. Well, a new trailer has surfaced announcing a release date of Nov 21st, 2007. While it's great that a Live release actually gets a release date before say the Monday the week of, It sort of sucks that Mass Effect, Rock Band AND Undertow all come out the same week. Hopefully with the holiday, I'll be able to get to them all.

Happy Halloween!

In honor of Halloween here are a few lame Halloween Jokes:

What is a vampire's favorite holiday?

What do you call someone who puts poison in a person's corn flakes?
A cereal killer...

Do zombies eat popcorn with their fingers?
No, they eat the fingers separately...

Videogame wise there will be 27 hours of a spooky Halo 3 Infection playlist. Enjoy!

Top 5 Spooky Games to Play on Halloween

5. Eternal Darkness

4. Doom 3

3. Silent Hill

2. Resident Evil 4

1. Resident Evil: Code Veronica

EXIT Xbox Live Arcade Mini Reveiw

Exit follows Mr. Esc as he attempts to help adults, children, and injured people find an escape to natural disaster situations. There are over 220 levels and of course the standard 200 achievement points.

The game is a worthy and interesting platformer / puzzler. It's graphics and artistic style are great and the sound/music offering is above average from an xbox live title. There are plenty of levels and lasting appeal, but Exit does suffer from its flaws. The biggest flaw is in its gameplay. Mr. Esc moves very slowly and methodically...this is all well and good, except it is extremely frustrating when you have to restart a level (and then methodically and slowly move to exactly where you were prior to your mistake) while this makes the game more challenging it also makes it frustrating and exceedingly tedious. There is a major need for an undo/rewind button in this game! On the other hand, each different scenario does a really good job offering something new: new items, new people to rescue, electricity hazards, etc. which keeps the gameplay fresh.

Category Breakdown:

Gameplay: 8
Graphics: 10
Sound: 8
Lasting Appeal: 7

Average: 82.50 %

Ultimately, Exit definitely gives you your money's worth for a unique live arcade puzzling game. Furthermore, since it originated on PSP it has great pick up and play gameplay where you can sort of pick away at the 220 levels. In long play sessions, the frustration of restarting levels and the slow moving Mr. Esc may weigh on you, but ultimately the game is worth a try and if you like the demo, it's worthy of a purchase.

Verdict: 82%

Showcase: Rock Band Xbox 360 / PS3

After playing the Guitar Hero III demo this week, let me assure everyone out there that Rock Band will be a FAR superior experience. While Guitar Hero III looks great, plays great, etc. it is ultimately Guitar Hero II with a facelift and some new tracks. If that warrants your $60-100 so be it. Rock Band stands to offer the same great Harmonix Guitar Action that they invented back in Guitar Hero I, plus expand it with new experiences such as drumming and singing. Plus who doesn't want to make their own Rock God with the customizable character features?

The Orange Box XBOX360 Review

Let's sum this review up:
5 Games in 1! Ok 3 are very similar. 3 UNIQUE Games in 1!
Half Life 2 is a classic at this point and won tons of awards. Even if you've beaten it like I have, there's still new content with the new episodes and even incentive to experience the main quest again to unlock achievements. Portal is one of the most unique game experiences I've had recently and Team Fortress 2 is a very balanced and fun multiplayer experience.

Gameplay: 10/10
Pros: With 5 games there has to be one that you find yourself drawn to the most. For me, that's Portal and Team Fortress 2, but you may be a more story driven Half-Life 2 person. The controls are solid (and pretty similar) across all the games and the gameplay is extraordinary. In fact, my only complaint with the whole package is that there's plenty of Half-Life 2 action and not nearly enough Portal and Team Fortress. Portal is over way too fast and Team Fortress could use some more maps, but is wanting more really a fault?

Graphics: 9/10
Pros: Team Fortress 2 looks so sick! I love the cell-shaded/cartoon/looney tunes look. The animation is also absolutely top-notch. Team Fortress really steals the show in the graphics dept. Portal is truly an impressive technical feat and I still can't entirely fathom how it all works...incredible. The Half Life 2 series still has fantastic facial animations.
Cons: Half Life 2 is showing its age somewhat but it is a 3 year old game.

Sound/Music: 8/10
Pros: Fantastic voicework throughout all the games with good sound effects and the classic Half Life mood music.
Cons: There is not nearly enough music and much of the time it feels vacant. While this is probably on purpose, it accentuates sound effects which can be annoying and loud.

Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Pros: 99 Achievements, 5 different games, 9 classes in multiplayer to master and hours upon hours of gameplay.
Cons: People may get bored with the Half-Life story/gameplay before finishing out everything. Only 6 maps in multiplayer.

Average: 92.50%
Tilt: +0.50%

Ultimately, you can't really NOT recommend this game. It is after all only $60 for 5 games. So maybe all 5 games aren't full fledged $60 titles, but they are all pretty substantial and Half-Life 2 for Xbox was $50 only a few years ago. It's a phenomenal deal and as long as you don't hate games from the First Person Perspective, you'll find something to love in the Orange Box. The Orange Box is certainly one of the best game compilations ever.

Verdict: 93%

Showcase: Street Fighter II HD Remix & Street Fighter IV

Capcom has done it! I'm actually excited for not 1 new street fighter game, but 2. When was the last time I anticipated a Street Fighter game? Probably back when I was 10ish and waiting for SFII Championship Edition on Genesis. Kudos to Capcom for getting me excited for SF IV and SFII HD Remix. I hope the stylized visuals of SF IV make it into the final game, but I KNOW that HD Remix will be the SFII I've been waiting for. Check out these gorgeous makeovers:

Storked Reviewed and Recommended on Casual Games Galore

Got a review for Storked the other day from Casual Games Galore. Bottom line- they recommend it! Only real complaint was about the font and level select interface:

Lows: The writing on the interface is a bit hard to read (it's a fun font though). Also I had a bit of a hard time at first when choosing the level to play, I played the first one twice as I expected it to move to the next one by itself. :) After I realized the idea behind the menu I no longer had any problems.

My favorite quote from the review is:
"Relaxation at its best."

but enough of me pasting praise here. You can read the review here.

Metal Gears Solid 2 - Story Explanation

No, I am not going to delve into every aspect of the Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty Story, but I will attempt to defend this highly criticized story. The big deal with MGS2 is two-fold: 1- You play the majority of the game as Raiden and not Snake and 2- The ending/VR thing with Raiden at the end makes little sense. The reason for the confusion and ambiguity - PostModernism. Postmodernism is blatantly present throughout Metal Gear Solid 2. Largely influenced by the disillusionment induced by the WW2, postmodernism tends to refer to a cultural, intellectual, or artistic state lacking a clear central hierarchy or organizing principle and embodying extreme complexity, contradiction, ambiguity, diversity, and interconnectedness or interreferentiality. Now having a nonsensical plot is not an argument for PostModernism, but take for instance the ambiguity of Raiden himself. Raiden is a character in MGS2, but we also learn that he has played through VR missions and Shadow Moses (or MGS1) as Snake. In fact, his codename is changed from Snake to Raiden at the start of his mission. The parallels between Raiden's experience and the players is certainly there. Raiden not only represents the videogame player, he could very well be the video game player/you. This type of contradiction and ambiguity is present in nearly all postmodern works. Another huge aspect of the MGS2 story is Deconstruction which is a central theme in many postmodern works. I will let wikipedia explain:

"In its original use, a "deconstruction" is an important textual "occurrence" described and analyzed by many postmodern authors and philosophers. They argue that aspects in the text itself would undermine its own authority or assumptions and that internal contradictions would erase boundaries or categories which the work relied on or asserted. Poststructuralists beginning with Jacques Derrida, who coined the term, argued that the existence of deconstructions implied that there was no intrinsic essence to a text, merely the contrast of difference. This is analogous to the scientific idea that only the variations are real, that there is no established norm to a genetic population, or the idea that the difference in perception between black and white is the context. A deconstruction is created when the "deeper" substance of text opposes the text's more "superficial" form."

The ending of Metal Gear Solid certainly toys with the reality of the universe and makes you aware that your character was involved in a VR game and that you are indeed playing a game based on a false reality. Sons of Liberty undermines its own authority and plays with both the player and character of Raiden in order to erase the boundary of game/reality even while making these contradiction all the more obvious. I think the quote above: "This is analogous to the scientific idea that only the variations are real, that there is no established norm to a genetic population" is a pretty good one sentence description of the theme (at least one of them) in Metal Gear Solid 2. Just something to consider.

Video Game Wisdom - Girlfriend vs. VG

A great man once said, “Video Games are better than my girlfriend because when I want to play a game, it NEVER has a headache.”

Top 5 Worst Video Game Sequels of All Time

All the included games in this list are Strict Sequels. All of them are the 2nd game in the series. The only exception is one...which IS the direct sequel to the prominent/defining game of the series.

5. Super Mario Bros 2 (NES)-

SMB2 while not a terrible game had absolutely nothing in common with the original Mario Bros. In fact, Mario and friends were just super imposed over the characters in the Japanese game: Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic (Dream Factory: Heart-Pounding Panic). The enemies are totally unfamiliar and many of the bosses such as Mouser and Wart have been completely dropped from subsequent Mario games, while Shyguy and Birdo have been added and originated in the good game, but off the wall sequel from Nintendo.

4. Toe Jam and Earl in Panic on Funkatron (Genesis)- This game didn't change from Japan to the US, but did completely depart with the original's style of gameplay and turned Toe Jam and Earl into a side-scrolling action game. The Graphics for this game actually look pretty good even to this day, but the gameplay and spirit just did not live up to the original.

3. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES)-
Another Game that screwed with the Original's formula, Zelda II took the classic Zelda gameplay found in the original, Link to the Past, Oracle of Ages/Seasons, Minish Cap, Phantom Hourglass, etc. and messed with it. The overhead view was used solely for traversing the land, while nearly all the action happened in a 2d action/platformer setting. This change is terrible and you completely lose the pleasure of solving puzzles, finidng hidden areas and traversing dungeons. It honestly doesn't even feel like a Zelda game.

2. Devil May Cry 2 (PS2) -
This is the most modern example on the list and with good reason (it was neck and neck with 1) as it was an absolute disappointment. On paper, DMC2 seemed to be the better game...2 characters to control, new abilities (running on walls, shooting behind your back...sick!), and improved graphics. What we got was a Diesel Jeans sponsored Dante, Simplistic gameplay, crappy weapons, larger plainer environments, easy difficulty and bosses, and an additional character with a 2nd disc that just rehashed the first. As a huge DMC fan, DMC2 is just an absolute letdown especially compared to the original and then excellent prequel DMC3.

1. Bond 007: Tomorrow Never Dies (PS1) -

Honestly, every game since Goldeneye 007 in the Bond Franchise has been a letdown, but this one takes the cake. It's a shining example of the business side of the game industry ruining a game (it isn't the last either). EA used it's money and power to take control of the Bond license and produced a mediocre game in hopes of selling copies on the license and popularity of Goldeneye/Bond alone. While it was smart of them to not attempt to replicate Rare's success and FPS formula (because the game would have been even more heavily slammed), the game still stands as the worst sequel of all time. Not only did the company change the gameplay in a detrimental way, but the graphics are worse, there's no multiplayer whatsoever, and is a shameless movie/license tie-in game. Awful.

Retro Review: Burning Rangers

The number of people who have played this game are few I'm sure, but as a Saturn owner this was one of the few titles that I look back foundly on. Burning Rangers had really good graphics for the time and amazing graphics for a Saturn game. More importantly, it was (still is) a unique gaming experience. The premise of the game is that you take control of a Burning Ranger who must rescue civilians from fiery deaths. You go around blasting fire with your water gun and collecting crystals in order to be able to send them to safety. But enough about the premise, just watch the video and you'll get the idea:

Gameplay: 8.5/10
Pros: Very fun to play, different and unique. Really exceptional controls for the time allowed you to perform jetpack acrobatics with ease. Great Boss Battles.
Cons: Horrible "flying mission" at the end of the game where you are basically playing a shootemup...a really bad shootemup- just frustrating. What makes that even worse is the fact that there are only 4 missions and this is how they expend some of that time.

Graphics: 9/10
Pros: Based on a modified version of the Nights engine, Burning Rangers is one of the best looking Saturn games ever to be released. Only Panzer Dragoon Saga & Guardian Heroes can compete, and only the Saga was 3D. Burning Rangers is one of the only 3D Saturn games to use Transparencies. The game focused on fire and the fire looked damn good.
Cons: In retrospect, the characters, levels, fire all still look fantastic, but the crystals and watersphere effect have to go.

Sound/Music: 9/10
Pros: Good Voiceacting and fantastic in game voice notifications. The Whoosh sound effect that symbolized a backdraft or fire hazard was exhilirating. Solid Soundtrack.
Cons: Corny theme song: "Burning Rangers Go!...etc." Over the top menu music.

Lasting Appeal: 6/10
Pros: Randomly generated civilians and civilian locations, backdrafts, etc. gave the game immediate replayability. Additional Rangers to Unlock. Great Gameplay.
Cons: ONLY 4 Missions! This game was way too short and worse was that the final Level sucked and was mostly flying around in the burning rangers stupid ship. While, the randomly generated stuff did squeeze a lot more out of the 4 missions, Burning Rangers leaves A LOT left to be desired. I could only imagine what a sequel could hold.

Average: 81.25%
Tilt: -1.25%

In this day and age, the length of this game is even more glaring. The sad thing is that the length of the game probably had a lot to due with the dying Saturn System and the need to squeeze as much revenue out of each game. I think Burning Rangers gameplay was a perfect fusion of classic platforming gameplay with new twists and 3D. Sonic Team actually did better with Burning Rangers than any 3D Sonic title I've played. Hopefully, the Nights Sequel will spur some sort of Burning Rangers sequel as well. One that's more than 4 missions long.

Verdict: 80%

Showcase: Storked!

It's only appropriate that this weeks showcase feature Storked, which was just released earlier in the week. Go ahead and try out the gamepage for all the info on the game and features. Or you could simply download the demo and just play it. There's more screenshots etc in both columns of the blog. Enjoy and more developing with Storked over the next couple weeks.

The Halo Trilogy - A Deeper Look

Part 2: Who is Master Chief Exactly?

Master Chief or John 117 is a genetically & technologically enhanced super soldier or Spartan II. We know that Dr. Catherine Hasley picked him and all the other kids out when they were young, replaced them with flash clones and then bred them to be Warriors. The Covenant calls him Demon and Monitors such as Guilty Spark call him Reclaimer. Those are the facts, but we can only guess as to what John’s face may look like, because I will divulge this spoiler…Halo 3 does not reveal John’s face or head sans Helmet…the closest you ever get to seeing him is the end of Halo 1.

I am actually very happy that Master Chief’s face is never revealed, because ultimately Master Chief is a symbol and Bungie let that symbol be all inclusive and up to the imagination. Wise choice if you ask me. It’s actually sort of a shame that they imply his race at the end of Halo 1 when his helmet is removed. It’s still very hard to say, but I recall that his head was somewhat fair in complexion. Master Chief since the very first Halo, has symbolized the Hope of Humanity against an overpowering foe. For the Covenant’s religion that meant he was labeled as a demon, but perhaps the more interesting name Master Chief has had since the very first game is “Reclaimer.”

Let’s look at the definition for reclaim:
1. to bring (uncultivated areas or wasteland) into a condition for cultivation or other use.
2. to recover (substances) in a pure or usable form from refuse, discarded articles, etc.
3. to bring back to a preferable manner of living, sound principles, ideas, etc.
4. to tame.

Of all Master Chief’s names, Reclaimer certainly ends up fitting him the best. In fact, Reclaimer was really his only purpose. As a symbol and character, Master Chief had to die (and should have died...if only the promise of money and sequels didn't matter). I knew this going into Halo 3 and certainly felt that as a literary device, Master Chief’s purpose was to save humanity. After this purpose is complete, John 117 really had nothing else to live for, so it would have been appropriate that he sacrifice himself for his purpose. Spartan 117 brings back a preferable manner of living, sound principles, and ideas. The Covenant’s religious principles are dead, the parasitic flood is eradicated, and earth/humanity are saved. I wish he had died and that his death were a conscious and sacrificial choice. My hope was to have a scene like the “Believe” ads. Oh well.

Master Chief is truly a symbol of all the players who enjoy Halo. He is a hero and symbol of hope despite his face, identity, name (John Doe perhaps), race, or even gender. Bungie deliberately leaves John 117 as anonymous as possible and that’s a good thing.

Gaming Life Lessons: Pac-Man

Video Games have taught me a lot over the years.

Pac-Man taught me that round things must be eaten...and that they protect you from ghosts.

I have yet to be attacked by a ghost.