Rock Band DLC Wednesday: 70’s Rock Week
December 31, 2008, 2:31 pm
Filed under: Rock Band DLC Tuesdays | Tags: , ,

Ok so I missed yesterday, got caught with a few things and I didn’t even get to download the songs till this morning. Look how I’m writing as if I have regular readers for this blog, HAH.

Deep Purple – Space Truckin

Space Truckin to me has an iconic rift to it, or at least it would be if that OTHER Deep Purple song didn’t exist (for those of your who aren’t hip on your classic rock, I’m talking about Smoke on the Water and trust me, YOU DO KNOW THIS SONG, take a listen here.) That said it suffers from the fact that while awesome sounding it is rather simplistic. Guitar wise Space Truckin’ only goes nuts during some key parts, namely it’s solo. The real stars are the rhythm section, with a fairly interesting and an absolutely excellent drum chart that is difficult without being hellacious like Blackened. Normally I post the guitar charts but the drum chart for Space Truckin’ is so good it has to be seen.

Jethro Tull – Hymn 43

Anyone who has played Rock Band with me know Aqualung is one of my fave songs to play and I was absolutely thrilled to find out it was going to be part of Rock Band 2. Hymn 43 can be in some ways be seen as Aqualung lite, with all of the challenges but few of the quirks that made Aqualung so good. It’s still a great pick up as it seem Jethro Tull songs make great “full band experiences.” The vocals are goofily challenging, Guitar gets a nice little boost in difficulty from Aqualung and the rhythm section is really fun on this song. All we need now is a USB Flute for the full Jethro Tull experience. Luckily I found a rare full band video for this song, enjoy!


The Cult of the Game: River City Ransom
December 29, 2008, 1:30 am
Filed under: The Cult of the Game | Tags: , , ,

It seems today you can’t have a game come out and the press release doesn’t try to convince you it’s more than what it really is. Everything is a genre bending mish mash, a 3rd person fighting adventure game with RPG elements. While most of these games and fail at delivering because they stretch too far and end up satisfying none of what they touch you get the odd game that is able to meld genres and derive something that’s totally fascinating in the process.

It maybe the evolution of sophistication of the gamer today but back in the fledgling 8 bit console days such practice would spell the death of a game. This isn’t to say that it was for a lack of trying, but when genres would bleed gamers, weaned off twitch based arcade games would not get the brainier elements of these hybrid games. We’ve touched on how Herzog Zwei was thought to be an “overly complicated” shooter at first. The same would happen to games like System Shock and Blaster Master.

River City Ransom would be hit by the problem even harder mainly due to the fact that beat ‘em ups were an extremely popular genre. Prior to River City Ransom’s release ports of Double Dragon, Double Dragon II and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game were released to great success. While River City Ransom was also a beat ‘em up it’s squished chibi anime inspired graphics and RPG elements turned off potential US publishers. In a strange twist of irony developer Technos would publish and localize the game themselves and put it into direct competition with the Double Dragon series that they also developed but were able to sell to US publisher Tradewest.

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10 Instances of Video Games and Christmas Intersecting
December 25, 2008, 2:03 am
Filed under: Player Inventory | Tags: ,

Santa appears in Secret of Mana

It’s a little weird how very un-christmasy video games are. While books, movies and TV often have their Christmas specials and holiday themed outings, video games tend to try to be neutral in time. It’s hard to justify a creation of a game that will only appeal to a certain time of the year and would usually.

However that doesn’t mean that the two never intersect. Take Secret of Mana, where a mission in the cold north has the players helping Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer find his master. After defeating the Frost Gigas you learn that it was really Santa Claus all this time, changed into a beast because he misused the mana seed in order to make the best Christmas tree ever.

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Rock Band DLC Tuesdays: Foo Fighters
December 23, 2008, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Rock Band DLC Tuesdays | Tags: ,

This week Harmonix gives some festive cheer with the “Holiday Pack” which, even at its bargain basement price I won’t be touching. Holiday packs to me seem like such a waste (both Lips and Singstar have also recently released Holiday songs on their download services) because they’re cool around Christmas but then they pop up on your mystery set list in like June. WEIRD!

However Harmonix happily gave us a nifty Foo Fighters pack (3 songs a week is SO LAST YEAR.) Unfortunately this week I only had enough time to play these on guitar but vocals and drum rankings are looking pretty low so go nuts with that.

Times Like These

All the Foo Fighters songs this week aren’t necessarily exercises in insanity but provide a good challenge. Times Like These mixes things up just enough, with a nice three chord set at intervals cut up but some nice note progression. It’s a little tough on the hands (or maybe I haven’t played guitar a lot in a while) but it’s fun and challenging enough.

This Is A Call

I’ve always loved the Foo Fighters debut album, it’s raw but it’s powerful. To me the sheen of aiming for massive stadium rock hits has sort of taken away the Foo’s appeal to me. Anywho This Is A Call was never a single as far as I know but it has become as ubiquitous of a song as any from the Foo’s early days. I remember getting the Guitar Hero 3 version and it was absolutely punishing. The Rock Band version is WAY toned down but also more interesting. The GH3 version was full of lines of three not chords while the Rock Band version uses more two note chords set up in unique patterns. Overall my fave song and my fave chart this week, it’s an absolute blast.


I bombed out on DOA my first run through. I don’t know this song terribly well and admittedly I suck when it comes to tricky three note progressions. The chart is a little repetitive but it’s got a lot of nice little suprises like the G to B+O notes. Out of all the songs to me this is probably the most challenging and apt for the killer shredders out there.

Also quick note: due to the holidays we get early DLC annoucements this week. Definitely look forward for reviews of Deep Purple’s Space Truckin and Jethro Tull’s Hymn 43!

The Cult of the Game – Okami
December 22, 2008, 6:59 am
Filed under: The Cult of the Game | Tags: , , ,

What makes a game successful in terms of the financial “people buy it” sense. It’s an equation that’s tough to gauge and would almost be impractical to decide. To me the world of game design from a business stand point is a game of darts, throw an idea art the wall and hope that it sticks.

However there must be some criteria that the majority of big number games must share right? A lot of these games are created in thriving genres; this is true in examples like the renaissance of RPGs for Oblivion. Most of these games often have outstanding graphics, some would ground breaking in the case of some like Gears of War. Excellent reviews can push an otherwise obscure or lesser known game into the stratosphere in the case of Bioshock. Having big name developers or publishers backing a game can bring it success such as the case with Dead Rising. Then we have good ol’ fashion hype, something that a Halo 3 or a Mario Galaxy can thrive on. Of course a game has to be solid gamplay wise which all of the aforementioned titles are arguably.

So how can a game that had these elements end up selling only 270,000 units on one of the biggest system of all time? It’s proof that even with all the good ideas you can have in the world you can never determine the often baffling fickleness of the gaming public. The title being mentioned here is Clover Studio’s Okami published by Capcom. An amazing action adventure game hyped by the media and given great rating it has since become a story of how even a great game can flop. Despite all the heart that seems to have went into creating his modern masterpiece and being released on the PS2 and the Wii the game has failed to find a strong audience on both sides of the Pacific ocean.

This is in all honesty a shame because few games seem to have captured its very world and essence as strongly as Okami. A virtual work of moving art Okami’s design is strong from the game play to the story to the stunning art design. It’s both familiar and original; surprisingly old school yet feels like a next gen title. Its action packed and yet full of exploration and in my opinion a must play game experience for anyone.


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The Big Grid of Video Game Butts: Can you guess them all?
December 19, 2008, 12:05 am
Filed under: Random | Tags: , ,


Thanks to modern gaming being focused on either being 1st person or 3rd person we spend roughly 85% of the time either staring at our characters butt or staring at another chracters butt.  Therefore to test your butt knowledge I present to you the Big Grid of Video Game Butts. See how many you can guess.

11 Female Video Game Characters You Can Take Home to Mom
December 18, 2008, 12:17 am
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Alyx Vance

Ah the holidays, a time for consumption of food, gifting and of course time with the family. For those in “serious relationships” that means bringing the significant other back home to meet your parents, siblings and a cavalcade of extended family members which poses a problem sometimes when the one you love is a pierced up cyber goth.

I find parents more forgiving these days but looking at females in video games now it’s become apparent that “fantasy” and “what the family is going to accept” is pretty far apart. Half clothed, breast implanted unrealistic harlots prancing about in stilettos isn’t going to bring enthusiasm from the ‘rents.

Not all game developers are as tits crazed and bleach blonde loving as some though. Valve in particular has had a cast of “normal” but interesting females. Zoey from Left 4 Dead and Chelle from Portal come to mind but none of them have the depth (and more than likely because of the game they’re in) of character like Alyx Vance does. More than a mere side kick she’s Gordon Freeman’s ally, friend and ball of sexual tension all rolled up into one. And while she’s designed to look a little plane Jane the dialog and interaction coupled with her intelligence make more than a few gamers grow a fondness for her.


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