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10.02.2008



The CGC has been dormant all summer long, but fear not Chicagoland...we will be back with regular updates starting today. Nintendo today announced a slew of new product, including a redesigned DS and a sequel to the cult favorite Sin & Punishment. However, all of those took a back seat to what will ultimately become the Wii's biggest title of Q1, 2009.

I've recently been playing the original Mike Tyson's Punch Out on my iPhone through a great NES emulator. If you haven't yet modded your iPhone to play NES games fear not since a full tutorial will be arriving on the CGC in the next few weeks. Anyway, playing Punch Out again made me realize how absolutely timeless the gameplay is. In fact, unlike some classic games (I'm looking at you Q-bert) the game doesn't feel antiquated, stale or repetitive. In fact, I would argue the game design was years beyond its original release date.

Super Punch Out! on the Super Nintendo (released in 1994) was a great update to the classic formula. Nintendo seems to understand that yearly updates, like Madden, don't provide the immediate smack in the face reaction that a once in decade sequel does. Three decades, three Punch Out games. Doesn't that just sound like the right way to treat a major franchise? I can't even imagine if Francis Ford Copolla had released a Godfather film in each subsequent year after the original won the Oscar.

We can only hope that the amazing trailer above actually lives up the lofty expectations that have already been set for it. From what they're showing us gameplay wise, combined with the modern remix of the classic Punch Out tune, things couldn't look better. The only problem? This is the only game I truly want on my Wii...and it isn't coming out until 2009.

Also, someone might want to tell King Hippo that his secret has been outta the bag for 20 years now. It's never a good sign when your weak spot shows up in the debut trailer.


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3.07.2008


As you know dear readers, the Chicago Gamers Club is committed to bringing you news, views and opinions on the gaming industry with unique perspectives, a rapier wit and occasional instances of genius-level humor. All of which we deliver to you via the miracle of the Internet on an almost daily basis. Except, that is, for the month of February where we here at the CGC have been bogged down by the everyday pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—i.e., day jobs. Therefore, in my capacity as Editor-in-Chief of the CGC, I did what any red-blooded American would do in this dire situation—I searched for a way to outsource the work.

As such, it is with great (ahem) pleasure that I present to you an introductory interview with the CGC's newest contributor: Blog...the Blog Monster.

D.J. T-WAN: Good evening. I'm glad we have a chance to sit down and introduce you to our readers. You're name is Blog, correct? Am I pronouncing that right?

BLOG: BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: Alright, I'll take that as a yes. And what is it you do?

BLOG: BLOG BLOGS!!! BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: Okay...um. Do you speak English? If not, the resume you emailed to me severely misrepresented your skill set.

BLOG: Silence peon. Blog’s gelatin-based nervous system is capable of oozing snippets of such sparkling wit and intellect that each new post Blog bestows upon you shall shine like a beacon of light across the dark and destitute wasteland of this site. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: We're lucky to have you then. I guess the burning question in my mind and the mind of our readers is: what are you exactly?

BLOG: Vile flesh bag, my origin matters not. However, since you asked, Blog will acquiesce. Blog is a timeless creature of the underworld whose omniscient globular existence serves but one singular purpose...blogging. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: That’s...rather vague.

BLOG: Blargh! Humans! Always needing more information. Very well. Blog is the reprehensible sum of a myriad of midday musings of an individual who shall remain nameless. This pitiable being, in order to combat a creativity stifling day job, invented Blog as a fictitious online persona in a moment of unbridled boredom. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: Nameless individual? Won’t you at least give me a hint?

BLOG: Your insipid thirst for knowledge is positively infuriating. All Blog will say is that this individual currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for this abysmal site. That, however, is all Blog shall reveal. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: Wow, talk about breaking the fourth wall.

BLOG: Yes! In Blog’s unending quest to continually think outside the box, Blog shatters all kinds of wall-like obstructions! BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: Interesting. No offense, but must you scream your name at the end of each statement. It’s very distracting.

BLOG: No, Blog can refrain from doing so if Blog chooses. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: Very well. Back on topic, what fresh perspectives and insightful observations do you hope to bring to the CGC?

BLOG: Well, for starters, Mr. D.J. T-wan, if that's your real name...

D.J T-WAN: Actually, it's not. My real name is Anth...

BLOG: BLOG!!! Silence! You, Mr. D.J. T-wan, absolutely adore every game you review. Look at that mind spew you passed off as an in-depth analysis of Super Mario Galaxy. Awful! Not to mention your preview of Contra 4. Terrible! Don’t even get Blog started on that sappy love letter you wrote professing your undying and moderately disturbing lust for Dragon Quest Slimes! Blog could compose better prose if Blog had no discernable appendages. In short, Blog shall bring a discerning eye and omnipotent intellect to the CGC, which it is currently lacking. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: But, you don’t have any discernable appendages. You’re just a pile of angry goop.

BLOG: Precisely. Next Question. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: Before we move on let me just say that, in my own defense, my opinion is just as valid as yours—although I’ll readily agree that the CGC can only benefit from varied perspectives. Perhaps you’d like to offer up some game reviews of your own in the near future. Maybe you could do a full review of Contra 4 and point out the perceived flaws that I overlooked?

BLOG: Silence! Your compliment-cloaked condescension angers Blog. Spare Blog your noxious babbling or Blog will ingest you, assimilating your consciousness into Blog’s being and thereby assuming the position of Editor-In-Chief of the CGC. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: You can do that?

BLOG: Yes! Next question. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: Clearly we here at the CGC have a lot to learn about you. So give us some insight into the mind of Blog. Who would you say your idols are? You know, people and/or creatures that you look up to and would like to emulate?

BLOG: Blog is against all forms of emulation! Regardless, Blog has three idols which Blog constantly strives to not only imitate, but surpass in notoriety. First and foremost: Flan. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: The grimacing gelatinous blob from the Final Fantasy series? That's...actually...not surprising...or original.

BLOG: Silence! Second: Slimes. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: The grimacing gelatinous blobs from the Dragon Quest series? I'm familiar; they're actually one of my favorite characters in all of gaming, from one of my favorite franchises. I actually wrote an article on...

BLOG: Spare me your shameless self-promotion you babbling twit! This is the Blog show! Finally, Blog's third idol who Blog shall never try to imitate, and merely serves as a cautionary tale is: Jared. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: Jared?

BLOG: Yes, Jared. The formerly gelatinous blob from the Subway commercials. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: And Jared is a cautionary tale because...?

BLOG: Argh!!! Must Blog spell everything out for you? Because he neglected his sloth-like ways, Jared degenerated into an emaciated and horribly un-blob-like non-gelatinous mammal. Blog shall never suffer such a fate. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: Okay. For reasons I'll keep to myself, I'll ignore that last statement and move on. Why don’t you expound briefly on your gaming credentials?

BLOG: Blog has been gaming since the dawn of time. When the first simple vertebrate crawled from the prehistoric sea and took that fateful first step onto dry land...Blog was there...playing Pong. Blog has lived through every eon and gamed in each of them. Blog has experienced every game throughout the history of video games and conquered them all. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: You’re claiming that you’ve been playing video games since the beginning of time, in effect, before video games were even invented? And beaten them all? How is that possible?

BLOG: You puny humans know nothing of the true history of gaming. Before there were video games there were games. Before there were games, there was Blog. Next question. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: I see. If you’ve really been around since the dawn of time answer me this, which theory is correct? Evolution or intelligent design?

BLOG: Don’t toy with me vertebrate-boy. Who cares? Blog was busy playing video games. Regardless, Blog is both intelligently designed and the very pinnacle of the blogging evolutionary tree. Next question. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: Very well, moving onto relevant information, how often do you plan on posting to the CGC’s site?

BLOG: Blog blogs everyday! 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, 366-days a year. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: 366? There’s only 365 days in a year.

BLOG: This is a leap-year you ignorant mammal. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: So, if I figure this correctly, you’re promising 24 interesting, well-written, video game-related posts everyday? That’s 168 posts a week and approximately 8,760 posts a year. 8,784 posts this year since, as you pointed out, it’s a leap-year. That’s great!

BLOG: Err...Blog may have slightly embellished Blog's blogging prowess. Blog shall blog when Blog feels like blogging. Next question. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: Fine. Let’s wrap things up shall we. When can we expect to see your first post and what hot topics do you plan on tackling?

BLOG: Blog shall blog whenever Blog blogs! However, at the moment, for Blog’s first pontification, Blog is contemplating an in-depth discussion of the disturbing decline in the quality of villains in video games. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: That’s actually interesting. Do you plan on including a top ten list of whom, in your opinion, are the worst video game villains of all time?

BLOG: Absolutely not! Blog blogs. Blog does not write clich├ęd numbered lists. Such insipid formats are purely for the benefit of brainless Internet denizens with the attention span of a gnat and the intellectual capacity of a thimble. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: Glad to see you're striving to class things up around here. We here at the CGC certainly look forward to a long and fruitful relationship.

BLOG: No fruit! The human emotion you are struggling to convey is not mutual but, for the time being, acceptable. Now, where is Blog's office? BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: Office? Well...you see...the CGC "headquarters" is currently being...remodeled. Everyone currently works out of their own home.

BLOG: Unacceptable! Where is Blog's temporary writing sanctum? BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: Actually, I was hoping that you'd be content with this bucket here.

BLOG: Nice. BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: Well, that's all the time we have here today. Be sure to check back for Blog the Blog Monster's semi...hourly / daily / weekly / monthly...column: View From the Blog. Any final thoughts you would like to add Blog?

BLOG: How many assistants does Blog get? BLOG!!!

D.J. T-WAN: Gotta' go.


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3.06.2008



This is easily the best music video tribute to a classic video game that I've ever seen.

Directed by John Mazyck, this retro filled bit of modern hip hop actually manages to replicate the same scenes, colors, characters and even type faces of the original NES cartridge Mike Tyson's Punch Out. I wasn't personally familiar with MURS & 9th Wonder before this video, but I'll be keeping my eye out from here forth.

We get enough video game garbage thrown out there (*cough* Hitman with Timothy Olyphant *cough*) that's it's understandably difficult for the general public to see games as potential sources of inspiration for artists. In reality, hip hop and modern art have been delving into gaming's past for years to spark new ideas for paintings, beats and videos like you see above. This one just happens to be a standout.

The good news? I've heard rumors that MTV still plays music videos around 3am in parts of China, so there's still hope for this one to catch on with the kiddies.



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2.12.2008


Yup, I just hit my three year anniversary in January. I'm definitely happy, but my wife isn't a gamer and it has become increasingly obvious that my gaming time has dwindled. Our time together during the week after work is important, and I don't want to hog the 50" HDTV and rudely shove her in the bedroom just to play games. I guess I'm just thoughtful like that.

Yet, this wasn't exactly unexpected -- I've kicked my beer drinking up a notch from Bud Light to Sam Adams. I've got a real job, with real responsibilities. I've got chores, and family expectations. And, I've got a LOT less free time. So, it was interesting to find that the vast majority of other adult gamers have adopted the same nightly ritual I have without ever discussing their solution with other gamers.

As gamers get older and wiser, we're going to inevitably create unique solutions to solve our gaming problems -- just like this one. I've spent the last week doing some market research on this exact topic. Click here to get lost in the five page NeoGAF thread I started on this very topic. Or, you can cut to the chase and keep reading for the summation of the discussion.

If I still have energy after work, I'll game from 10 to midnight.

This is it. Prime Time. This is the Married Gamer's last bastion of interactive entertainment solidarity...assuming I decide to stay up.

Between work and normal responsibilities, it's become harder to stay awake past 10. Four cups of coffee a day and eating healthy can't even keep me up most nights these days. I've gotten more responsibility at the office - which is welcomed - but it's sucking my brain's energy like a vacuum in a leaf factory. I can dream about Mario Galaxy all day at work, and then continue to dream when my head slams the pillow that night...

Only to get up and start dreaming all over again without ever actually playing. Things sure are different when you get close to approaching 30. And I don't even have any kids yet.

Interestingly enough, the vast majority of adult gamers (including those with children) have taken a similar approach to an identical problem. Out of 200+ posts on the related NeoGAF thread, over 95 claim to game after their wife or girlfriend goes to sleep. It's become a generally accepted practice in most modern gaming households. The guy gets his man-time, the woman gets her alone time (books, television, etc.) and everyone's happy until the alarm goes off the next morning.

According to oneHeero, "I dont get to play till 9pm due to the exact same reasons, tack on the fact that I have a child, it's even more difficult. So I try to play from 9pm-11pm tops. Or when I have a gamebattle, I let her know in advance and it's ok."

Member Davidion sums up his situation: "Between spending time with her, the job, professional development, trying to read, keeping in touch with friends, going partying, dining, researching music, family matters, personal philosophical pursuits, other hobbies/studies and trying to go to school, time is becoming an increasingly rare commodity...(and) it doesn't help that gaming is rather time intensive."

For those that are lucky enough to have a man-cave in a basement, consider yourself blessed. For those of us that can't enjoy that luxury, it's also become a trend that online-gaming is often a weeknight no-no. Since screaming "GODDAMNIT" and "NEWB" into a headset at very high volumes would likely bother your spouse, most gamers have nullified that option. Rather, most stick to comfy headphones and crank the volume to something that's single player. I'd estimate that's how I'm now personally gaming between 4-6 hours a week.

I've been enjoying my nightly two hour gaming ritual since we moved in together during the summer of 2002. For those of you that aren't aware yet, living together changes just a few things...or rather, everything. Whereas my memories of a three day Metal Gear Solid 2 marathon were still fresh when we first moved in together, I honestly can't recall a similar experience in the last few years. And, that's not a bad thing.

Well, upon second thought, there was that one week with Resident Evil 4. And that one week with God of War. And those few months I played World of Warcraft. In fact, now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure I haven't sacrificed much of anything gaming wise. In fact, I've got a really balanced life right now. My wife is phenomenally accepting (Happy Valentine's Day!) and I've got more games than I have time to play -- even with my nightly ritual.

And, if you're really lucky, you might get your non-gaming wife to occasionally play with you, as I just watched my wife complete Beyond Good & Evil.

So how did I do it? What's the big secret for the married gamer you ask?

Back rubs. Lots and lots of back rubs. Or, if all else fails, use the matrix below.




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2.06.2008


If there was any lingering doubt as to the status of video games as a viable art medium, Passage lays that argument to rest. I’m not saying Passage is the first inventive concept ever, nor am I denying the artistic merits of video games up to this point. However, Passage is undeniably one of the most original ideas in gaming today and, more importantly, it is executed with a minimalist perfection that you simply must experience for yourself. Oh, and did I mention it’s a free download?

So, video games are a legitimate art form? Of course, the debate is over (and has been for some time from my perspective). However, for all the skeptics, Passage is the final nail in the coffin; the fat lady singing Queen’s We Are The Champions right as she delivers a knockout punch…on Judgment Day (in the biblical sense, not Terminator). My metaphor mangling prose aside, Passage is without a doubt the most artful and imaginative gaming concept I have seen in twenty-two years of playing and it accomplishes this feat without harnessing the graphical horsepower of cell processors or utilizing a production budget that puts most third-world countries to shame. The question is, how?

Let’s face it; video games lack something these days. I won’t go so far as to say that I don’t enjoy the current state of gaming; it’s just not quite what I imagined it would be when I picked up my first NES controller over two decades ago. It’s certainly not as disappointing as the automobile industry—those bastards promised flying cars in the year 2000 and, eight years into the new millennium already, I’m still driving a landlocked Nissan Versa hatchback. So comparatively, the gaming industry isn’t a complete disappointment. Back on point; let me also assure you that I’m not just another crusty old dinosaur shaking my cane with contempt at each new generation of technology insisting incessantly that the video game industry peaked with Ms. Pac Man and everything since is crap. Besides, everyone knows that Dig Dug was far superior.

While I love the classics, there is no denying that high definition graphics, realistic physics engines and increasingly complex A.I. routines are incredible. The mere sight of a game like God of War or Assassin's Creed would surely have caused the six-year old me to wet himself with unbridled delight (I’m over that now). Nevertheless, somewhere in the transition from sprites to polygons, during the evolution from CRT to 1080p, some infinitesimal yet essential ingredient was lost. Why is it that a minimalist game like Passage sparked something inside me that I’ve never felt while playing a game before? As odd as it sounds, the answer lies in the story.

At this point, you’re probably scratching your head and saying story, what story? The game is five minutes long and resembles a bathroom tile mosaic designed by a blind monkey. You wander through an empty world whose only other inhabitant is a woman willing to marry you at first sight because you’re her only option. Whether or not you choose to accept her indifferent proposal, you live a sexless, homeless, nomadic existence where the most exciting occurrence is opening treasure chests which, in turn, serve no purpose other than to increase your score, which is completely arbitrary and has no effect on the game's outcome…which is always death. Mmmm, that is good narrative. No need to review the other Pulitzer nominees, this one is a lock.

Now, before hoards of Final Fantasy fanboys jump in my face and attempt to deliver a spontaneous lecture on the essential elements of a good story, let's establish what, in fact, comprises a good story. Good story telling (regardless of whether we’re talking literature, film or video games) is nothing more than an artist providing a narrative framework which vividly expresses their idea so the audience can share it. It is important to note, however, the creator’s vision should allow enough leeway for their audience to project their own perspectives into the narrative. A truly great story will take its audience on a journey and, although it guides them all along the same path, each individual experiences it in a completely different way. This is where Passage edges out the competition; by presenting a focused yet deceptively mercurial tale that forces the player to realize the journey itself is the reward because all endings are the same regardless of how you play it. More importantly, although Passage certainly presents the Cliffs Notes version of a human life, it remains open-ended enough to affect every player differently.

For example, what struck me the first time I played through Passage was that the available in-game spouse has red hair and green eyes, just like my wife. It’s a coincidental occurrence, but it immediately gave me a connection to the character. Several minutes later when my aged spousal avatar spontaneously transformed into a tombstone, I’ll admit, I experienced a twinge of sadness; not because I had any profound connection to this prude pixel vixen, but simply because it made me consider the sudden loss of my wife—an unfortunate but realistic possibility as we age. So what's my point? Although I am undeniably a towering tribute to masculinity (my corneas have five o'clock shadow), I'm not embarrassed to admit that the occasional novel/film has made my gruff, testosterone-soaked pupils turn slightly misty. Up until this point, however, no video game has ever had that effect on me. And yes, that includes Aeris' death in Final Fantasy VII. World saving flower girls are a dime a dozen in my book. Besides, I've always been a Yuffie man myself.

During my second playthrough, I again chose to link up with my virtual spouse, but took a more exploratory approach to the game, often back tracking to see where certain paths led. On my third jaunt, I chose to ignore the idea of marriage altogether, embrace the swinging bachelor life (very difficult in a universe offering just one woman) and explore the map as fully as possible. I played a few more times after that and, although I tried to play each session differently, none of my subsequent playthroughs affected me as profoundly as the first. This phenomenon is a stark contrast to just about every other game I’ve played before. With other games, repeated playthroughs serve to enrich the experience as opposed to numbing it—so why was Passage different?

Passage is a brief depiction of a human life from inception to conclusion, stripped down to its most basic levels (regrettably, sans reproduction, but that’s fodder for another article) and, like life, you only get one shot. Make of it what you will—enjoy it, hate it, it’s yours to do what you wish—but know that once you reach the finale that’s it. The end. Fin. To be continued…except not. Repeated playthroughs of Passage, for me at least, only served to dilute the experience because in life, you get one shot. Period. No continues, no resets, no extra lives. Mistakes would be meaningless if you could simply restart and correct them. Conversely, accomplishments would be empty if failure was consequence free because you could reattempt any endeavor ad infinitum. What makes Passage so special, is that it accurately portrays the unstoppable progression of time and lays bare the fleeting nature of humanity.

Still not convinced? Consider this. Passage conveys a simple yet insightful message in less than five minutes of gameplay, managing to touch on a concept universal to the human condition. I've rambled on in excess of 1,300 words and (admittedly) haven't expressed this message half as eloquently as just playing the game.

Maybe that’s indicative of my lackluster writing skills or, maybe, just maybe…Passage is truly a work of art.

D.J. T-wan (a.k.a. Anthony) is also a contributor to Videolamer


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1.29.2008


Lately, due to both work-related time constraints and the general busyness of life I've found that, despite my best efforts, I've become what I've always feared…a slightly less than hardcore gamer. It's not that I'm losing interest in gaming, but rather, I'm running short of time in which to play games. As such, here are five quality games that even the busiest gamer can find time to play. Why five and not ten? I only had enough time to list five.

5 - Chat Noir: There are two types of people in this world: cat people and non-cat people. I own a cat and, as such, am qualified to say with 100% certainty that I am not a cat person. Why own a cat when you could just get a condescending and lazy roommate who likes to stab you every now and then? Turn the tables on your favorite feline and trap the cat--it's just as fun as annoying a real cat, but without the inconvenient lacerations. A hint: it’s more difficult than it looks, although after a few losses, effective strategies will emerge.

4 - Filler: Similar in concept to Qix and just as addicting.

3 - Boomshine: Not really a puzzle game, not quite a strategy game, yet undeniably entertaining—especially once you reach the higher levels. Also, surprisingly enough, the music is excellent.

2 - Building Houses: I’ve always enjoyed logic puzzles and optical illusions. Put those two together and you get Building Houses. Not so much a game as a spatial geometry exam. Yet, for some reason, it's fun.

1 - Passage: If you’ve never heard of this game, download and play it to completion immediately (don’t worry, it’s very short…almost too short). Artful and imaginative, Passage proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that simplicity and perfection often run parallel. If you’re interested in the creator Jason Rohrer’s take, read his statement about the game.

Will playing these games make up for the fact that, after purchasing Dragon Warrior VII at launch, I still haven’t completed it, or the fact that Metal Gear Solid 3 sits on my shelf as of yet unplayed? Of course not, but these five games are fun distractions that fit comfortably into those brief moments during the day when I have a spare moment and serve to remind me why I started playing video games in the first place.

Fun.


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1.27.2008


The pictures you're about to see are not of a vintage 80's arcade. Rather, they're of Peter Hirschberg's recently completed "Luna City Arcade" -- his home game room. Prepare yourself, for this has to be seen to be believed.

Being a child of the 80's, I have a personal affection for arcades. Dreams of smoke filled rooms illuminated by fluorescent lights echoing with the beautiful hum of pings and blings have become nothing but a distant memory with super powerful consoles now the norm.

But, Peter has refused to let the vintage arcade die, building a living testament to the classic age of gaming.

This arcade has every bell and whistle that every amazing vintage hot spot once had. From elevated floors to conceal cabling to black light carpeting, no expense was spared. Peter has even included a vintage coin machine, a pay phone, a snack bar and full surround sound. I'm only begining to touch on the insane amount of detail included. So, how did he fit this all in his house?

Easy. He just built a separate structure that sits next his home. No joke.

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If you're curious to see the entire list of games in the collection, click here. I'm slightly disappointed at the lack of 90's fighters and beat-em-ups, but who am I to complain? This is someone's dream realized, and I'm seething with jealousy.


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1.25.2008


I just watched Casino Royale again (in Blu-ray, of course). And, I have to tell you guys, Daniel Craig is one damn good Bond. If you have a chance to pick up one of the James Bond Omnibus sets, I highly recommend it. You'll get the original character pieces that built Bond from the ground up and absolutely justify every choice made for the last film. Casino Royale, in both movie and book, consistently remind you that 007 is a spy. It's in his every decision, his every action. And it reminded me...

Video game professions are much cooler than real life, aren't they?

7. Pro Athlete

I've never been the super athletic type. Oh, you could tell? Hmm, I guess the video game blog is a dead giveaway. Most people tend to dislike the superstar athletes during their heyday -- like Tom Brady. He's got the money, the looks, the championships and the girls. That's one killer combo.

Without much doubt, the jealousy factor runs high. But, I'm not like that...for there are still six other professions I'd rather have and just can't get.

6. Intergalactic Space Captain

No, don't think Zap Brannigan.

Call me crazy, but I'm a firm believer in alien life somewhere. This floating ball can't be the only place in the entire galaxy. And, if recent pictures prove accurate, aliens might just be on Mars. Regardless, I'd love to be the rocket man burning out his fuse up there alone. Well, maybe not all alone -- I'd like a large crew behind me for sure.

Just the concept of exploring the galaxy fascinates me. Having an interplanetary map on a personal space cruiser essentially made Mass Effect and would no doubt turn me into the coolest Captain in the fleet.

5. Demon Slayer

I'm not a huge fan of the concept of hell. But, if there were demons out there I'd be more than happy to slay them for humanity. I'm guess I'm just cool like that.

Devil May Cry has defined what this gaming profession is about, and again proves it's coolness through main characters driving motorcyles and wearing black leather. I don't currently own a bike, since I drive a Honda Civic. However, I'll be at the Harley shop the second lava erupts from street.

Whew, no lava there. Good thing too, since the other professions get girls while demon slayers mope around waiting for the world to end. I want something more cheerful, like...

4. Wet T-Shirt Contest Judge

No, this really doesn't have any place on this list at all. But, I'd still like this job and it's something I know I'm totally not getting. Just go ask my wife.

3. Superhero

Everyone knows there are truckloads of superhero video games out there. And, for good reason. Superheros don't have lots of rules and weaknesses, making them perfect gaming fodder. There are literally millions of superhero flavors, and all come with fame, glory and saving the world.

I think being famous would be fun for a little while at least. And, since I'd be able to fly, the paparazzi wouldn't be an issue. If I was saving people's lives, a la Superman, I'd even feel good about being famous. I'm pretty sure there aren't a lot of celebs who think they're doing much good by just existing. Maybe that's why they all start foundations? You've gotta have something to motivate you.

2. Ninja

I think every kid at some point dresses up as a ninja for Halloween. I'm sure I did this at least twice myself. Yet still, the fantasy of flipping around a super secret fortress guarded by angry monks that throw sharp knives still sounds strangely appealing to this day. I guess it's the hours of my life I've thrown away in the Ninja Gaiden games. From the NES, to the Xbox I've had my ass handed to me time and time again.

I'm still proud to say I've finished each of the modern Ninja Gaiden titles, but am still consistently whooped by their NES older brothers. I also think if I go as a ninja this coming Halloween, I'll' dress in all black. Dressing in all black is always cool -- but I'll definitely avoid carrying nunchucks. I'll want something bigger and more sinister. Like....double katana blades.

You don't usually see the ninja getting the girl. But, he does always have the coolest variety of sharp objects at his beck and call. Optionally choosing to not carry a gun also propels ninjas higher up this list.

1. Spy

Back to Mr. Bond. Yes, there is the video game originator - Solid Snake from Metal Gear. But still, 007 is the embodiment of the quintessential spy. He's sharp, manipulative, stealthy and a genuine bad ass.

His car is always amazing.
The places he visits are always gorgeous.
The women he meets are beyond my comprehension.
Oh, and did I forget to mention he's saving the world in a tux?

Now that's a job.


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Why am I so excited that Square-Enix finally rolled out the North American website for Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors? As difficult as it is for me to admit, the time has come to be honest. Hello, my name is Anthony (a.k.a. D.J. T-wan), I'm 28-years old and I am addicted to killing Slimes.

Is Dragon Quest Swords going to win Game of the Year for 2008? No. Is it going to reshape the face of gaming as we know it? I'm leaning toward no. Is it the next evolution of motion-controlled gameplay? Not even close. It will, however, serve as a brief distraction until the release of Dragon Quest IX and, for fans of the series like myself, provide a whimsical alternative to actual exercise. Besides, what could be more fun than a hybrid rail shooter/RPG where you commit large-scale genocide against a race of perpetually joyous sentient ooze droplets? It's the next best thing to punting kittens (if you're into that sort of thing). At the very least, when I bring the game home on or about February 26th, my wife should have a good chuckle watching me dodge, parry and thrust my way to nostalgic glory (double entendre intended).

So what is it about these iconic grinning globules of gelatinous evil that, despite being the single weakest enemy in the series, intrigues me? Basically, it takes some prodigious cojones to voluntarily (and consistently) enlist as minions for a variety of evil overlords while fully cognizant of the fact that your evil mission will end the first time you have the misfortune to engage some yahoo with a makeshift weapon. This is a fictitious creature that either (a) has a severe Napoleonic complex or, at the very least, (b) possesses a delusional narcissism of suicidal proportions.

I was first introduced to the Dragon Quest series (originally released as Dragon Warrior in the United States to avoid infringing on the trademark of the pen and paper role-playing game, DragonQuest), in 1990 when, in the single greatest marketing promotion in the history of gaming, new subscribers to Nintendo Power received the game FOR FREE. Being an entrepreneurial 11-year old and, coincidentally, lacking the fiduciary means to facilitate my burgeoning video game addiction, I went straight to my parents. Following a brilliant and insightful economic presentation wherein I explained the numerous benefits to monetary sponsorship of said subscription in light of the free game being offered (a $50 value!), my parents agreed. 6-8 weeks later, my copy of Dragon Warrior arrived in the mail and my long and torrid love affair (ewww...) with the unofficial series mascot began:



17 years later and, in spite of the fact that I consider myself an intelligent adult (this article aside), I still smile at the prospect of swatting fictitious invertebrates into oblivion. Who needs deep gameplay and riveting narrative if the experience is just plain old fun?

Maybe it's nostalgia.

Maybe I bumped my head really hard this morning and I have no business writing anything for the site today.

Or, maybe Slimes are a metaphor for the unrelenting optimism inherent in the human psyche; a caricature of that burning desire to be a hero, the underdog who comes out on top against overwhelming odds. Perhaps Slimes are The Little Engine That Could of the video game generation, pressing ever forward toward a seemingly unattainable goal, their only solace coming from the singular thought, "I think I can. I think I can. I think I can."

It's also possible that I simply enjoy being the one to say, "No, you can't."


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