Angry Robot

Aw…Gamer Lovin Resistance


You tell me if this hasn’t happened at least once in your life!

Happy Day!

Ugh I’m not much one for this sort of thing…but to you all I say…

right now!

Spore Has a Release Date

I thought I’d mention this because we brought it up in passing on a recent Sounds episode. Spore is Will Wright’s latest god game. “Create and evolve life, establish tribes, build civilizations, sculpt entire worlds and explore a universe created by other gamers.”

It’s coming on september 7th, for PC, Mac, phones and DS(!).

Video Games as Therapy for Soldiers

Now I know why we get beat on Live so often when we play Halo 3 – there are actual soldiers playing that shit. It’s an interesting article, not really because it talks about soldiers playing games, which we know they do, but because it places it in the therapy context. It’s really only one quote: “video games are a way of calibrating and managing the overwhelming pulses of stress that comes with combat zone living.” Normally that sort of statement gets lost in the noise of the videogames-and-violence debate, but that obviously doesn’t apply to soldiers – or maybe if they didn’t play so many violent games, we wouldn’t have war in Iraq? Yeah.

So are games good for regular people? Do we calibrate and manage our stress by playing them? I think so. Shooters like Halo 3 or Call of Duty 4 are indeed stressful situations, requiring situational awareness, lightning-quick perception, and tranquility in the face of multiple stressors, not just motor skills. They’re almost training for multitasking. And then there’s the quick communication and group coordination required to advance in their multiplayer modes.

Advance Wars: Second Day of Ruin

Both the air and sea games are much expanded. On the sea, the carrier can now produce seaplanes which are somewhat overpowered considering their relatively low price compared to other air units. They can do a lot of damage to a battleship, for instance. Given that, the enemy carriers are now much more menacing. Also, I’m finding the sea units – in the usual rock-paper-scissors way – are much more devastating to each other than land units. One hit from a sub will reduce a battleship to 1HP, and a cruiser will do the same to a sub. Whereas on land it seems like units like the medium tank are reduced to 4HP at worst no matter what hits them, giving them a chance to flee and recover.

the fearsome carrier

The battleship can now move and attack in the same turn, making it more powerful, but its vulnerability to sub and seaplane attack makes it feel weaker.

As mentioned, the seaplane joins the air fleet, as does the ‘duster’. These cheap-yet-effective units can both attack ground targets, which in turn makes air defenses way more important than in Dual Strike, when I rarely built a fighter and would swarm the CPU with boatloads of bombers. I barely use my bombers now. In part because the AI has an irrational fondness for the production of anti-aircraft gun units. You wind up facing these surreal armies with 7 AA units and one tank. Huh?

The challenge of air defense is that the fighter is expensive and the ground-based air defense units are relatively slow-moving. The missile unit can only manage a couple of squares. If you don’t want your tanks getting smashed by all the enemy air units, you’ve got to keep them in range of the missiles, which just slows down the game.

Generally on the air side, there seem like too many units now. What does the duster / seaplane add that the helicopters didn’t already do?

Finally, the absence of the dual strike power-up attacks takes away an aspect of the gameplay, but probably in a good way. It took me a while to realize their importance in the last game, possibly because the concept is so alien to strategy games. I also somewhat resented how much time it could take deciding which COs (commanding officers) to use, since each had their special powers.

Wait! I got a little further, and there is indeed a form of CO power attack. It’s introduced something like 15 missions in, and it’s quite simple – once you’ve done a certain amount of damage with your CO unit (more on that in a sec), you can choose to use a special power. For Will, that’s granting direct attack ground units a movement bonus for a turn.

The CO unit. At a base, you can choose to assign your CO to a unit. It costs some cash, but then attack & defense bonuses are conferred on any unit within a certain range of the CO. I like this addition; it fits logically and adds a strategic element. Although I keep forgetting to assign a CO at all!

So in general, although there are problems with the new additions, I think they are more or less good moves. Something both games have is a good, gradual learning curve. The early levels bring you in easy to the whole concept and are almost casual gaming. Later levels are epic in scope and can take hours to complete, especially if you’re a cautious strategist like myself.

Let it be said that both games, in general, kick ass. I’m sure it’s not easy making an accessible yet complex strategy game, yet both of these are winners, and clearly if you liked Dual Strike you’ll like Days of Ruin.

The Gray Market iPhone

Inside the iPhone Gray Market, from Business Week. One of our writers has a grey market iPhone (do I name names? It’s not illegal). Anyway it strikes me that this article misses the point, wondering as it does why apple tolerates all the unlocked phones. Hell, Apple gets paid no matter how you use it – that’s the beauty of selling hardware. It’s the carriers and the negotiations therewith that prevent the legit iPhone from gracing us with its perfectly legal presence, but the article doesn’t mention that.

I’m thinking about getting one. Thinking pretty hard about it. But it’s the mobile internet that really interests me – I don’t need portable video and I already have an iPod and a phone. I heard about Rogers’ unlimited plan and got all excited until I realized it was a pretend unlimited plan. And I don’t want to jump on an unlocked iPhone and then have it locked out when the legit iPhone shows up.

Again I say, it’s hard up here for a nerd.

Lost Odyssey

I still want to play this game, but I don’t understand how you can go from the above awesome amazingness with such beautiful music (music which I am still addicted to) and then use the below to entice players.

The main character’s English voice just does not match his look.

The Japanese version, in my opinion, is no better. That song half way through? Let’s gag together shall we?

But what I don’t get is why North American audiences are spared the wrath of icky melodramatic love ballads, but are then given 60’s classics to trick them instead? Why are these demos so drastically different?

I mean it’s a sexy trailer and gets you all jazzed to be part of some sort of crazy metaphysical adventure, but what the hell? Can’t a game trailer stand on its own musical merits without having to borrow from other creative realms?

Ah, I know the Gears of War thing. Yeah, I fell for that sweet shit too, but I don’t want to see a habit of game trailers that use musical hits to sell themselves. It feels cheap. Not a sexy cross-pollination.

Okay so the White Rabbit spot aside, back to the bigger uglier picture, why do I hate the offical trailers so much? I know, I know, people want to see gameplay footage and I’m all for that too but there’s seems to be so much going on in the story that to try and vomit it to the audience in two minutes or less does not a good game trailer method make. I’m just saying. I just feel that some one, some where is doing wrong by this game with this ad campaign. I just don’t like it. it just doesn’t feel right.

Anyway, if you’d like to clear your palette here’s the straight tits awesome music again.

Rogers "blue" t-shirt draws fire

Rogers Communications Inc. has rolled out “blue” t-shirts, but critics are saying the company’s shirts are anything but.

Rogers spokeswoman Elizabeth Hamilton said the shirts reflect the changing state of the t-shirt marketplace.

&##8220;We’re in the business of offering high-value services to customers.”

Critics say the shirts are, in fact, red.

“What appears to be a good shirt on the surface comes with some serious caveats,” wrote Marc Lostracco, assistant editor of the Torontoist website. “Customers need to remember that a company calling something ‘blue’ doesn’t actually make it so.”

Hamilton disputed the criticism and said the shirts fit the uses that customers were asking for.

“It’s actually quite good value,” she said.

So yeah, that’s pretty much the gist of it, wouldn’t you say? I thought it was pretty clear what unlimited meant in the context of cellphone data plans, but Rogers sure doesn’t think so. Shit like this keeps us Canucks in the technological ghetto, as Steve notes.

Dark Messiah Might and Magic Elements: The Trailer

Hey dudes, well Ubisoft has released the trailer for their new game (say it with me now it’s oh so long) Dark Messiah Might and Magic Elements.

I just have to say that Ubisoft continually excites me with their facial animations.

I don’t know about the game itself, but that redhead chick?


Waiting for the other shoe to drop…

Monday: Wii gets stolen.

Saturday: Xbox comes down with the red circle of death.

Next week: DS eats my face? Thumbs lost to flesh eating virus? Mac goes on a killing spree? Your guess is as good as mine!

I Am Legend, Omega, or maybe Second Life

I do read more sites than just the AV Club, although you wouldn’t know it today. Anyway, Book vs. Film examines the many film adaptations of Richard Matheson’s novella I Am Legend, which I found interesting because after many conversations with people about the latest film, I have yet to find anyone who’s actually read the source text – apparently for good reason.

That got me thinking: why didn’t they make an I Am Legend game? Gun-happy last man alive in a zombie/mutant/vampire plagued city seems like a home run when it comes to game plots. Well they did, sort of. They made a “multiplayer first person shooter RPG” in Second Life. Official page here, and IGN writeup here. Sounds interesting, because it seemslike there were no AI characters (you probably can’t do that in Second Life), and also since it had an end goal and when it was found, the whole thing shut down.

Incidentally, my favourite film is hands down Omega Man, although I haven’t seen the Vincent Price one yet. But how can you beat albino mutants with shades and a dodgy new religion? I doubt the cheap knockoff I Am Omega managed to. That’s from The Asylum, the studio known for cheap knockoffs that capitalize on enormous marketing campaigns. Check out their past films: Transmorphers, The Da Vinci Treasure, Pirates of Treasure Island, Snakes on a Train, AVH: Alien vs. Hunter, and my personal favourite Hillside Cannibals.

Kentucky Fried

Well… my Mutha Fuggin’ birthday is coming up soon. Today in fact. It’s number 26 and is hugely stupid. It’s a lousy birthday, not really as good as the 25th but it is just that much closer to the third decade.

This comic was an old one I did for University, but new and improved. So it’s like… Eyeless Max Redux. For those who didn’t know, I actually ran a sub-par comic by the same name from three years during my years at Brock. Don’t look them up, you won’t find them.

I personally love this one, even though it has nothing to do with video games. but you know what… I don’t care… bite my ass.

It is, however, in colour… which I am very happy about. I am also getting a bit better at drawing this shit in photoshop as well. I curse you technology.

Anyway, enjoy!

Billy Mitchell Interview at the AV Club

As a followup to the post about King of Kong, there’s an interview with ‘villain’ Billy Mitchell at the AV Club. I gotta say, I definitely have an impression that he’s a way nicer person than the film makes him out to be. And I totally want to try his hot sauce now.

8-bit Music

I love 8-bit music so much. Music made from old video game sounds and consoles, um yeah, this is me saying I dig that shizat. I was going through some old links I had and found this for 8bitpeoples which is a group of chip music and 8-bit artists.

They even do live gameboy concerts, which is crazy awesome to watch and makes me feel so inept since the most daring thing I ever did with my Gameboy was to pretend it was a super computer when I played Mission Impossible or MacGyver. Yeah…I used to do that. My sister and I had super imagination fueled childhoods, bitches.

Anyway, there’s links to all the individual artists’ sites and each have tons of free songs and videos of performances. I wish there was more of this stuff here locally. Maybe there is but I dunno how to find it. D and I once tried to go to a Robot Music night…It was a terrible, terrible choice…There was good Guinness to drink but pretty much the rest was a lesson in extreme awkwardness. I was with D so that was good, the music was just super bawls.

Sometimes even I can only take so much digital input into my aural nodes…but when I am in the mood this type of music is so essential to my well being.

Right now I’m listening to Randomizer’s Downstairs and you tell me that’s not the sweet tits.

Speaking of Memories!

This is more of a speed run with skipping through most of the text, but that’s okay by me. I know the story, I just never got to finish it because of that damned, damned cartridge…oh the pain…

Another Reason to Adore xkcd

So xkcd is my favourite online comic of all time ever, I love it even more than Penny Arcade. Okay well I love the two in different ways, like one is pumpkin pie and one is raspberry pie and I love both so much but in different ways. Anyway, the creator of xkcd has made this wonderful database of limericks.

Here are some examples of the creative brilliance and staggeringly wonderful minds of the collective out there in the big, wide world. These are pulled directly from the site:

#259 + (396) – [X]
There once was a [person] from [place]
Whose [body part] was [special case].
When [event] would occur,
It would cause [him or her]
To violate [law of time/space].

#286 + (340) – [X]
There once was a buggy AI
Who decided her subject should die.
When the plot was uncovered,
The subjected discovered
That sadly the cake was a lie.

For so much wit and fun, check it out! As my one of my fav Farscape lines says it’s like “electromagnetic candy” for nerds!

Here's Some Cool Shit

First off, speaking of Sid Meier, Sid Meier’s Pirates will be released as a download in the Xbox Originals category next week, along with Black and Ninja Gaiden Black. I’ve been meaning to play that bastard for some time, but have been unable to track down a copy, so I’ll give it a whirl upon release.

In other sort-of Xbox news, Xbox Media Center has been ported to Intel Macs. I say sort of because you don’t actually need an Xbox to run the software. It’s free, open source media center software developed for the original Xbox, but has been ported to Linux and now Mac OS X. Why would you run that and not Front Row or the AppleTV? This interview with lead programmer Elan Feingold gives some reasons:

So there ya go.

Pixel Junk Monsters!

Okay I am so not one for strategy games, I tend to stay away from them. Real-time, turn-based, whatever I just don’t believe in my mental prowess at keeping the forces of evil at bay with strategic placements from my mind. It’s not low self confidence, it’s just a fact that I’m impulsive and I don’t have the patience to handle long, drawn out battles.

Moving on, Pixel Junk Monsters is on the Playstation Network for the PS3 and even though it is a fairly simple game the graphics are startingly beautiful and unique. They are a mix of bizzare cuteness. Take this Turtle Dude Thing Man for instance.

So the game is simple: defend your home and babies by placing different kinds of towers along a set path that is constantly attacked with waves of monsters. The monsters range from quick moving, low to the ground attackers, slow air raiding monsters, and huge hulking monsters that take lots of firepower to bring down. There’s a wide variety of towers to choose from, which can be upgraded by using gems stones from fallen enemies or standing near the towers and dancing (cute) til they upgrade. Upgrades mean faster rounds with more power. If you save your gems you can buy and research new towers. The more advanced the enemies the more specific your towers need to be.

The thing that got me about this game was that I was totally drawn in even though it was strategy. In fact, when I failed a few of the medium maps I was driven by this crazy need to continue. It was like “okay that didn’t work let’s try this way” over and over again. I had played it for over an hour before I realized how much time had passed. It was crazy! I wasn’t frustrated by my lack of advancement, I was intrigued.

Every so often I get this twinge in my gut to play chess, but I think I suck at chess so I hardly ever indulge. I fire up the ‘ol digital representation and play on normal against the computer. Most times I get murdered by my impulsive short-sighted nature. Yet, every now and then I actually win. The feeling I get from winning chess is unlike any other. Chess for me means I’ve achieved this special sort of higher brain function. Maybe it comes from always losing to my dad and my sister when I was younger. I see a chess board as a battefield, even though it’s not like that at all really. I mean it is, but there are more effective games for emulating battle.

Chess is something else, it is a slow and deliberate attempt by two people to disarm and destroy the most important part of the other’s kingdom: The King. Playing Pixel Junk Monsters had me defending, desperately at times, a whole nest full of kings. Some enemies got through, and some of my kings died, by as long as one was left there was still hope of success. When I finished a map and mastered the way a certain pathway should be defended, I felt that same higher brain function fulfillment. I felt like I was a good soldier, that I was supposed to protect and I did so efficiently.

Very cerebral for a simply strategy game I know. Maybe that’s why I like it so much. This simple game made me feel so good, so intrigued, and I pushed myself to get better and better at it.

That’s what makes a good game. Pixel Junk Monsters is a game type that has been done before, but for me this version swayed and conquered me. Now that’s something to be excited about as a gamer. When a game surprises you with both its simplicity and how much pleasure you derive from playing it.

The Day I Threw My XBOX from the 7th Story Balcony

I already made a comic regarding my hatred of this cartoon character, but I don’t think I fully expressed how angry I actually was.

This is how the incident occurred:

I started to play Naruto. Many people have enjoyed the game, so I felt that if perhaps I gave it chance I might enjoy it. Problems immediately began in the introduction when the Hero, which the game has been named after, started to speak. His voice grated at my brain like someone ramming a wad of steel wool through my ear canal. I don’t know what it is about Anime and this generation of children that has caused us to accept high pitched screeching as a viable form of voice acting, but something has to be done.

But, like a trooper I marched through it.

After that I learned the “Sexy Jitsu” in which you turn into a woman to seduce men. Did I take this as a warning sign to stop?… Evidently not.

In short order I met my traveling companions in the game. One of them was a girl with an equally irritating voice and your typical brooding Emo-Kid who we assume has a dark past that we don’t really give a rat’s ass about.

But even after that I pressed forward.

I got through a few banal missions and onto the REAL story when my frustration finally got the best of me.

I should state at this point that I suck at fighting games… really badly. Give me a shooter and I can reasonably blast my way through them without too much trouble. Give me and RPG and I happily work my way through many a side-quest. Give me a real-time strategy game and I will most likely have fun despite having my ass handed to me on a platter. But Fighters just bring out the beast in me…

I finally hit this particular fight that I just couldn’t get through. I tried it a number of times, but he just kept destroying me over and over… I had to listen to the badly scripted Anime taunting over and over while I did my best to button-mash with some semblance of order.

Finally I defeated my enemy… and then the game made me fight him again.

That’s around the point I whipped my controller into my couch as hard as I could and nearly broke my hand punching my bedroom door.

And the worse part is, I wasn’t mad because I lost. I was mad because the A.D.D., screaming, irritating world of Naruto had disturbed my happy little world of peace and English Breakfast Tea so severely.

Is this seriously what we are peddling to kids as entertainment? What kind of shallow, retarded shit is this? Are we really so desperate for the next toy line that we are ready to ram any old import down the throats of the public?

I blame Shonen Jump.

Another Oldie…Still Good!

Why are people so adorable….

Starts off a wee bit meh (it is flute after all…) and then gets crazy awesome!

If we lived in a crazy drum world.

Again with the Mariio fans being the most adorable ever. It’s an OCARINA!

Metal Slug 3: You. Have. To. Play. It.

The first second I played it two things struck me:

1) The revamped animation instantly made me feel like I was playing in an Anime film from 1985. Seriously, the animation style is the tits, so fun and detailed and retro sharp cool.

2) The music is so A.D.H.D-Coked-Out-Insane it is perfect for a hyper freak out like me. It was done by a company called Noise Factory. I can’t read Japanese and maybe you can or can’t so here is the Wiki as well.

This is a run and gun that moves fast and frenzied. The game was developed by SNK, makers of one of my favourite games of all time and my first real experience with falling in love with a game: Crystalis. You are part of a team that’s trying to stop these bad rebel dudes led by an evil General, but soon you find that evil aliens are invading so you have to team up with the rebels to stop them! The alien design is so good and rips straight from the pages of Heavy Metal in some cases. At least it felt that way to me, with a certain 80’s action adventure sci-fi feeling to it. What does that even mean? It means a movie with Grace Jones in spandex and a big laser gun with spiked gaunlets. Bitches.

The weapons are great and upgrades come often as you save dudes that rip their pants off to give you stuff. Awesome. Weapons range from classics like machine guns, shotguns, and rocket launchers to lasers and flame throwers. Live Arcade lets you set it up with any difficulty you want and you can have as many lives as you want too for extra challenges. Like try beating the first five levels with one life. I can’t do that at all. I play with infinity! And I don’t care because not having to worry about death lets me play the game all the way through in one sitting and that, my friends, sincerely wracks your brain with pixel madness.

The whole concept of “slugs” are vehicles that are loaded with power but move more slowly than when you’re on foot. Not all of the original slugs are included in this release, but there are plenty to keep you entralled. My personal fav was the laser shooting camel. Yeah. And then there are helicopters and walking mech like ones too. All have heavy firepower and you can only stay in them for so long before they explode from too much damage (cept the camels…) unless you keep getting gas cans to keep their live up. There are ground levels, air levels, water levels with subs, and finally space levels. See why this is my perfect game?

The narrator voice is great too with funny lines like when you eat too much food for health you can get super fat and then he’ll say like “Whoa! Big!” It’s just wee touches like that I appreciate. I also appreciate it when I finish a level and he tells me “You’re Great!” in a weird aggressive voice.

The point here peeps is that words cannnot express this one, there’s far too much. Like in the zombie level (oh yeah there’s a zombie level) if you get hit you turn into a zombie and fight all creepy like until you die again and then respawn. Love it.

The boss battles are immensely satisfying with the classic “just hit it there, REPEATEDLY!” action that doesn’t make you think, just lets you enjoy the visual chaos.

This is fun, plain and simple and satisfying. Get on Live Arcade, get the demo if you must but please just get the full game. It’s a great deal for hours and hours and hours of messed fun.

Devil May Weep…Er Cry

Okay so I don’t know jack all about the Devil May Cry series, and right now I’ve been estranged from my PS3 (it’s temporary but already I feel this horrible ache to have her back, it’s horrible really) and I’m not going to be playing it on the 360. Anyway, these dudes at PS3 Fanboy made a retrospective of the series and if you are like me and want to play the next installment but have no idea what it’s about, then enjoy.

An Oldie But a Goodie

So in honour of Video Games Live which is coming to Toronto this weekend I thought I’d remind us all of some good game music times…with a twist. This is the first, you might have heard it before…

King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

You know that feeling when you’re watching a documentary and you just can’t believe what’s going on? When real-life events seem so unbelievably dramatic, they must be made up?

Well, maybe they are. Or, maybe not. Who knows?

King of Kong is about the battle for the title of World Champion, Donkey Kong. It follows nice family guy Steve Wiebe as he challenges sleazy hot sauce magnate Billy Mitchell’s 1982 high score, wrestling with the corruption of the officiating body Twin Galaxies, which is in league with Mitchell and refuses to honour Wiebe’s scores. It’s a fast-moving, entertaining film full of larger-than-life characters such as Wiebe and Mitchell and the guys who run Twin Galaxies. It would be a great documentary. If it were true. Unfortunately, it stands accused of innacuracies that dwarf anything Michael Moore has ever done. Read this and then this and Walter Day’s other criticisms.

Now, I don’t know which side is right, and I think it’s totally worth watching regardless, as long as you keep in mind this controversy. If, as Twin Galaxies states, Wiebe had the world record for three years, the film is brutally misleading – it presents his score as being quickly disqualified and the title reverting to Mitchell. Twin Galaxies states that what happened is that Steve’s million-plus score was indeed disqualified, but then the title reverted to Steve himself since his 947,000 score had not been invalidated. Confused yet? Since you can’t trust any of Walter Hill’s statements at face value, we would need more sources and details to know what actually happened with regards to Twin Galaxies’ scorekeeping or any of this shit.

UPDATE: As it turns out, MTV’s Stephen Tolito has turned in quite a number of articles about the controversy: one two three four. They don’t necessarily get beyond ‘he said / she said’ disputes, but they at least present both sides and contain this headscratcher of a quote, from Mitchell’s best friend, Steve Sanders:

“Is the movie accurate?” Sanders asked. “I would say yes. Is the movie fair? I would say no.”

In-Browser Dinosaur Hunting

Sounds good, don’t it? Well, you can do it: Offroad Velociraptor Safari. It runs in full 3D in your browser window, which I didn’t even know was possible (but I don’t get out much). You ride around in a bouncy jeep pulling stunts and catching raptors. Go play it, it’s kickass.


It’s by Flashbang Studios, “a deliberately small independent video game developer.” (via Rock Paper Shotgun)