Game Freaks


Jack Thompson Gets PWNT

Posted in Blogroll,Game News by lordsaanjun on October 27, 2006

Hey, if you’re reading this blog, you probably hate notorious Miami anti-game “crusader” Jack Thompson as much as we do.  I personally find the man to be abhorrent on a number of levels, not the least of which is his irritating habit of borrowing Christian doctrinal rhetoric to try to convince people that video games are against the will of God.  Did I mention that people copping my religion to advance their political career/cause really hacks me off?

So, anyway, Niero from Destructoid put up this post the other day with a video showing good ol’ JT getting his ass handed to him in a district court, where a judge recused himself from a case where Thompson was the defense attorney.  Pretty much this judge tells Jack off on his tactics, his attitude, and his threatening letters (to a judge, WTF) in front of a courtroom full of people.  What’s the funniest is that Jack pretty much acts like an angsty emo-kid through the entire hearing, leaning back in his chair, staring at the ceiling, and crossing and uncrossing his legs the whole time.  It’s worth a peek.

Long live JT, my constant source of amusement,

Matt #1

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Classic Content: Bible Adventures History and Review

Posted in Blogroll,Classic Content,Game Reviews by gamefreaks on October 25, 2006

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Hello, and welcome to another edition of Game Freaks. This week we’re going to start a process that will be ongoing on the blog with the release of one of our “Classic Content” articles from the Flip Side. These are Game Freaks reviews that were written for our college publication, but have no home on the internet and are only accessible through the print archives of the paper (which means, not to anyone outside of Eau Claire, Wisconsin). The review this week takes the form of an informative article, which was the way that we injected more extensive commentary on gaming in general and classic gaming in particular into the twice-monthly format of the paper. Now that we have the blog itself, we probably won’t do something like this as our weekly content, but rather post a more informative blogpost separate from the review for the week. At any rate, in this Game Freaks, the Matts take the time to tell the story of a crappy little game company called Wisdom Tree and their crappy little “Christian” video games for the Nintendo Entertainment System, as exemplified by the review of Bible Adventures.

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Battletoads in: Battlemaniacs! Review

Posted in Blogroll,Game Reviews by gamefreaks on October 18, 2006

Battlemaniacs Picture

Well, Faithful Readers, if the name “Rare” puts the fear of the video game gods into your heart, this review will be of some interest to you. This week, the Matts undertake to review Battletoads in: Battlemaniacs! for the Super Nintendo. As Zitz, Rash, and Pimple set out to save the Princess blah-blah-blah from the evil witch whatsername (the names in this game are super lame, sorry, I can’t help it), you journey through the Gamescape, a virtually-generated hell designed to smash you into your component parts. This game is typical of Rare games in many ways, not the least of which is its mind-numbing difficulty. On to the review, then.

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Blackthorne Review

Posted in Blogroll,Game Reviews by gamefreaks on October 15, 2006

Greetings, Faithful Readers, and welcome to another edition of Game Freaks. This week (sorry for the super late update), we’re reviewing a game made by well known software giant Blizzard! No, it’s not from the WarCraft series, guess again. No, it’s not either StarCraft game, try again. Oh, wait, you didn’t know Blizzard made any other games?

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We’re reviewing Blackthorne, for the Super Nintendo. Behold, Blizzard before Blizzard was cool.

 

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Hey, Go Check This Out

Posted in Blogroll,Other by lordsaanjun on October 11, 2006

I have been reminded, suddenly, that we have a forum. Go check this link at TRHOnline.com out to see our boards. Also, please muck around on TRHOnline in general. It’s a fun site run by a friend of ours, who’s kind enough to toss us some board space. He’s giving us the forum, you give him some hits. Fair’s fair.

New review will be up later today, unless we both get too damn lazy to actually write. Watch for it — we’re reviewing a very old, obscure game by a very well-known giant of the gaming industry. This’ll blow your mind.

Later, Faithful Readers,

Matt #1

A Boy And His Blob Review

Posted in Blogroll,Game Reviews by gamefreaks on October 4, 2006

Boy and His Blob Logo

After a brief hiatus, Game Freaks triumphantly returns!  Matt #2 was having some problems with his internet access in Austria, but everything is in order now, and
we return with a review of the NES cult classic A Boy and His Blob. This is probably the first and last time the Matts review a game starring a jelly-bean hungry, amorphous blob. Well, excepting that they review the X-Men arcade game: I’m pretty sure The Blob was a boss in that, and he was large enough at to be considered amorphous, I suppose…but wait, did he actually eat a lot? I don’t remember…I mean, his mutant power was being fat, so…whoa! I got way off-topic there. Let’s get to the review.

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Republicans and Democrats United Against Video Games

Posted in Game News by lordsaanjun on October 2, 2006

Well, it finally happened.  Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) has authored a suspicious-smelling piece of legislation that would force the ESRB (the video game ratings board) to play all video games completely before issuing a review.  Brownback claims that any other method of reviewing games is not “meaningful and worthy of a parent’s trust.”  Here’s the thing, Sam: playing a video game “completely,” as you might suggest, still doesn’t catch everything.  It wouldn’t have caught Hot Coffee, the big scandal in GTA: Vice City.  It wouldn’t have prevented the nudie mod that caused the change in Oblivion’s rating… that was a fan-created mod, or modification.  That’s right, people, not everything in a video game is actually put there by the developers and programmers!  Shock and Awe!

Then there’s the whole problem with MMOs and their ilk.  How do you “completely play” World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, or Final Fantasy XI?  You don’t.  The games are huge, complex, largely defined by player interaction, and updated and patched on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis, not to mention expansion packs.  RTSes are a similar problem.  What about fan-created (or even authorized) map packs and additional content?  Is that “The Game” or is it “Something Else?”  And how does the legislation deal with this grey area? 

But what really frustrates me about this whole thing is the “threat” that accompanies it, which reveals the true motivation.  The bill, which has not yet had its final wording released to the public, threatens to form a federal agency to take over the duties of the already self-regulated ESRB.  When will this happen?  When the ESRB fails to play through every game completely before it reviews it.  Which shouldn’t take long, since you can’t physically accomplish that task.  So it won’t be long before the government itself gets to decide what is and is not acceptable in the realm of electronic entertainment, if this legislation passes.

Of course, Lieberman, Clinton, and other Democrats have tried to push for similar censorship initiatives in the past, so we can’t believe that this is a Republican-only scheme.  No, one of the few things that crosses party lines is radical, poorly-thought-out legislation to “rein in” the ESRB.  Welcome to America, where we can’t agree about anything but censorship.  Good job, kids.

None of this matters, though.  The legislation is as unconstitutional as the day is long.  Once it gets challenged and hits the Supreme Court it’s all over but the shouting.  Not that that’s going to stop Brownback and other pro-censorship legislators from passing this sucker through the Senate.

I find your lack of faith disturbing…

Matt #1

Random Review #1 – Advance Wars 2

Posted in Game Reviews by notasfatasmike on October 2, 2006

(A short note on the format of my Random Reviews – As opposed to using the very formal, mathematics based systems of our full reviews, I will just try to relate generally a couple things about the game, and then assess it through a very simple system:  I will either “Strongly Recommend”, “Recommend”, or “Advise Against” buying a game, and in extreme cases I will say to “Avoid” a game altogether.)

I bought a Nintendo DS earlier this summer.  It was the first time I’ve had a handheld system since the old gray box Game Boy (which, by the way, I still have). I was excited about New Super Mario Bros., of course, but mostly it was about the promise of awesomeness to follow. Nintendo, after disappointing me so strongly with the Nintendo 64, was returning to its roots of innovation, both in terms of games and the style of game play. (I firmly believe the stylus is one of the greatest ideas introduced to handheld gaming, but that’s another post for another day.)

Before I get ahead of myself, let me remind you, our readers, of a simple fact: I am a college student, therefore I am broke. After shelling out $200 for the DS and a game, I realized I didn’t have much other money left. This pretty much ruled out buying any other DS games, as even the used ones still go for a pretty decent chunk of money. Well, the good ones do, anyway – I probably could have afforded one of the Barbie games, but I’m never going back there…no, never again.
But this brings me to the second reason I bought the DS – the joy and wonder that is backwards compatibility. You see, I had never owned a Game Boy Advance. I knew I was missing out on good games, but I just couldn’t bring myself to invest money in a Nintendo system, or a handheld system at all for that matter. But when I bought my DS, I knew I was finally going to be able to go back and play those games that I had missed.

Advance Wars 2 was a game that I always heard great things about. I like games that are tactic-based but let me take my time, and hence Advance Wars 2 was my first non-DS game purchase.  I have played this game nearly to completion (we’ll return to that later), and I can gladly say that it mostly lives up to the hype, but there are problems with the game that I haven’t heard people acknowledge.

The graphics are nothing to write home about. They’re cartoony and fun, which gives the game a fairly light-hearted feel, despite being about war. Although the fact that they felt the need to make the name of each country have a color in it so that they could make the armies corresponding colors is really kind of silly. It seems childish, but that could have been what they were going for.

The plot is woefully sparse for my liking. It seems to depend heavily on one having played Advance Wars first. It’s pretty much just one cutscene at the beginning of the game, where the characters from Red Star go “Oh noes, Black Hole is attacking us again!” Leaving those of us who haven’t played the first game to go: “Who the hell are Black Hole? For that matter, who the hell are YOU?” There’s little other development of the plot: the rest of the cutscenes are pretty much just a description of what’s going on in the mission at hand. I wasn’t expecting some epic story – after all, it’s a game about modern war, not some kind of crazy sci-fi or fantasy story. At the same time though, it would be nice to have an idea of why they were going to war.

Now let’s talk about my biggest complaint: the difficulty. It’s woefully unbalanced.  It honestly seems like they were making two games: A game for children, followed by a game for actual military generals. The first half of the game would probably be easy enough for an 8-year-old to beat without any serious difficulty, other than the difficulty inherent in any task assigned to an 8-year-old that last longer than 10 minutes: that of sitting still.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with that; it’s just that tactics games tend to be targeted at an older audience, who can sit down and play a game for half an hour without being distracted by a car outside or a butterfly. Making the first part of the game so incredibly easy is just going to alienate this audience.
And then comes the second half of the game.

It’s not as abrupt as this review is probably making it sound. There are a good number of missions in the middle of the game that are well-balanced and challenging to the experienced tactics gamer. But eventually you get the feeling that every mission is being so strongly stacked against you that winning is impossible through anything short of sheer luck. By the last couple of missions, you will probably have to redo them 3 to 6 times before you win, and this is problematic, considering that they usually take a couple hours to complete, regardless of whether or not you win or lose.

This is a secondary, small problem: the game was made for a portable system, meaning that it is intended to be played in smaller increments of time. The fact that you can save in the middle of any mission aleviates this problem somewhat, but it can often be disorienting to come back a couple hours later to an advanced board position, making it hard to bring the mission to a successful end.

All that said, I would Recommend Advance Wars 2 to anyone who hasn’t played it.  It’ll seem like a quick game to play through at first, but don’t say it out loud: you’ll wish you hadn’t later.