Category Games

My Middle Name Is ‘Sucker’.

I will admit it. I bought Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust out of nostalgia for the days when Eric Stacey and I played the original while his parents weren’t home and we had to guess at all of the questions you had to answer to prove you were of age to play. It was a twenty dollar impulse buy. It was a mistake.

I like kitsch. I like bad movies. I occasionally enjoy bad games. I was able to derive genuine enjoyment from Sneak King. I thought, “Why not, Melissa? At the very least, it will be funny.”

No. No, it isn’t. It isn’t funny and it isn’t fun.

The writers clearly felt they were clever dudes, and filled each loading screen with an absolutely HI-larious tip, like “You’ll never be able to convince your girlfriend it’s good for her just because it’s filled with protein” and “Real girls are scary anyway” and “Buy a copy of this game for your grandma on her Birthday[sic]” OH HA HA HA HA HA, gentlemen!

The first time (yes, you read that correctly) I played this game, I put about an hour of time into it trying to even FIND the first mission as the minimap AND the camera both suck, and for my time and efforts, I got stuck in some geometry and had to start over. Instead of ripping the disc out and flinging it across the room, I decided that in order to punish myself for my rash purchase decision, I would play the game through to 100% completion and then destroy the disc.

I spent a not-insignificant number of hours playing this game. Here are my grievances. The game entertains the notion that it’s a sandbox style game; in order to complete missions and collect all of the little fucking golden statuettes scattered across the map, you need to execute parkour-like moves up and across buildings and every surface. Unfortunately, the controls are utter shit–unresponsive and inconsistent, and the geometry is also inconsistently designed. Ledges that you should be able to jump to and things you ought to be able to climb on are blocked off by invisible walls that shimmer when Larry slams into them at full speed at a height that will kill him as you can’t recover from a fall. If Larry runs anywhere near a moving golf cart, he turns into a boneless mass and flops down on to the ground. The AI consistently walks and drives into corners, and gets stuck in geometry until eventually they disappear. Larry looks like a poster child for Axe body spray, meaning I’m fairly sure that any time you’re not watching him onscreen, he’s off raping someone. Everyone else just looks freakish. There are characters roaming all around the world map, but you can only interact with specific people on missions, so the NPCs repeat the same two sentences over and over “Watch the hands, mister” and “Hey! I’m walkin’ here!”. You’d never know they paid well-known actors and actresses as voiceover talent unless they advertised it because the cut scenes are so atrocious that all you can focus on is how terrifying everything looks in-game. The dialogue is terrible. I’ve had funnier looking things come out of my various orifices than anything that happened onscreen.

However, my largest grievance is this: I collected a lot of statuettes in the hours I played. I was working my stats up to several different achievements. I saved my game (and there are not many places you can save your game which is also a hunk of shit) so I could take a dinner break, and when I went back to load my game…something had glitched and all of my progress up to the save was gone. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUCK!?!

I will NOT redo all of that work. I don’t have the time to play through to 100% completion in one sitting, and frankly, that’s a punishment even I don’t feel I deserve. So, I leave to you, dear friends: What do I do?

*edit* I have called Gamestop and they will give me eight whole dollars for the game if that affects your vote one way or another.


Scissors beats paper, paper beats rock, rock beats…baseball bat?

I remember when I used to be awesomely skilled at videogames, or at least didn’t suck quite so much. Tonight, I started playing Fallout 3, got lost in an area consisting of about three rooms, used up all my ammo on giant roaches, gained confidence in my ability to kill and maim with a baseball bat, and then as soon as I figured out how to get out of the facility, some random dude straight-up killed me with a rock. Good old rock…nothing beats rock.

An Open Letter to Funcom

Dear Funcom,

As the developer of the highly-anticipated Age of Conan, I feel that you should take a good look at the below screenshot:

In case you cannot read the text, it goes:

“I am Sancha, mistress of the Bearded Clam – the finest whorehouse in Tortage! Loveliest girls, strongest boys…Or have you come to ask me of the Hall of the Black Ones? I know where it lies on White Sands Isle. I was there once, with no less a personage than King Conan, and the memories still ravage my sleep.”

FIRE YOUR WRITERS NOW. Also, fire whomever had final dialogue approval. “I am Sancha”–oh cute, an Orgazmo reference. “The Bearded Clam”–oh tee hee, how subtle! “The memories still ravage my sleep”–THAT DOESN’T EVEN MAKE SENSE.

The only place you’ll read or hear asstacular dialogue like this is in a video game. Even PORN DIALOGUE is more realistic. No wonder people can’t take games seriously as art–when you write like horny, inexperienced fantasy dorks, it shows.

So please, get with the firing.



Music and games. Two great tastes that taste better together.

I have been thinking about and playing a lot of games lately, moreso than I really should be considering my plate is full to begin with. But, as we all know, the best work is that which is done at the last minute, so thus far I feel quite free to continue procrastinating. Also, after the sadistic auctioneer taught kickboxing class last night, all I could bring myself to do afterward was lie on the coach, play games, and moan.

The other day in the interview, I surprised even myself by saying that I liked Amplitude better than Guitar Hero–really? The precursor to one of the most popular and best-selling games of all time? WHY?

It’s not that I dislike Guitar Hero; I think it’s a lot of fun. I think that its very accessibility is a huge boon to the game industry as a whole as it has attracted many new players, and being able to posture with the guitar clearly taps into very primal centers. However, as a self-proclaimed snotty know-it-all about the rhythm-action genre, it’s a step back. How so? Here’s a run-down of the most widely-recognized, groundbreaking R-A games:

Parappa the Rapper (PS1, 1996) is, essentially, the first widely-recognized rhythm-action game, and its gameplay is akin to Simon Says: a series of button-actions are shown onscreen, and you mimic them. Its spin-off UmJammer Lammy (PS1, 1999), was much the same, though it included one of the first guitar-shaped peripherals. Parappa the Rapper 2 (PS2, 2002) is clearly in the same style. (As Guitar Freaks was/is primarily an arcade game, I will disregard it here. Dance Dance Revolution will be similarly disregarded.)

Released around the same time as UmJammer Lammy was Space Channel 5 (DC, 2000) and gameplay was nearly identical, though the stylization of Space Channel 5 made it wildly more successful.

Changing things up was Samba De Amigo (DC, 1999), which, like UmJammer, also included peripherals–a floor mat and two maracas; the sombrero and fringed jacket were your own responsibility. Gameplay, however, was concurrent with what appeared onscreen, instead of the call-and-response of PaRappa, UmJammer, and Space Channel. This concurrency has been a mainstay of rhythm-action games since that point, speeding up gameplay significantly.

Gitaroo Man (PS2, 2001), though a cult hit and never a commercial success, improved on Samba’s concurrency with the addition of the analog stick, which aided immersion, as it involved the player in more aspects of the song than a singular beat.

Also in 2001, Harmonix released FreQuency, which split songs up into drum, bass, guitar, keys, and vocals onto separate ‘tracks’–when you played through two full bars, that track would auto-play for a time, and you could move onto the next track, the goal being to get the entire song playing concurrently for as long as possible. FreQuency’s musical focus was primarily electronica; its sequel, Amplitude, was released in 2003, and included a much broader range of songs; gameplay remained very similar.

Harmonix is also responsible for the first two iterations of the Guitar Hero series, which I imagine most game-players on my list are familiar with. The game is played using a guitar-shaped peripheral, the left hand controlling neck buttons, and the right in charge of the strum bar and whammy; gameplay is straightforward and concurrent.

What makes Guitar Hero a step back? Its very straightforwardness. In FreQuency and especially in Amplitude, the path you chose to move through the song determined your score, determined your completion percentage, determined what powerups (if any) you’d get, and ultimately determined whether you’d make it through the song or not. There was always a way through that led to maximum points/completion, but it wasn’t obvious. It required a greater level of dedication, and the flexibility to approach the same level many, many different ways. In Guitar Hero, for the same song, you press the same buttons in the same pattern every single time. Thus, after a couple of play-throughs, I was done with it. Amplitude has tapped into my domination-seeking lizard brain, and consequently, I’ve played each level one hundred times or more in order to truly master the game.

And that’s why I think Amplitude is, like, the greatest rhythm-action game ever. The only thing that would make it better is a ship shaped like a pony that shoots lasers from its eyes.


Mellzah, age 8.

P.S. I want to love Elite Beat Agents, but the songs make me hate it. So. Much.

i, Dirty Robot

With the veritable apocalypse of weather we were having the other day (snow plus thunder and lighting…it was like a Lewis Black bit outside!), I felt I would be remiss if I did play Sneak King at least once (available at your finer Burger Kings nationwide) which may be one of the funniest-in-an-awful-way games of all time. The premise? You are playing as the King (who is already vaguely creepy to begin with) and you sneak around surprising people with Burger King food. There are various places the King can hide his royal behind in and subsequently leap out, presenting coffee, sandwiches, and sides with various flourishes. However, whenever the King hides in a location where you as the player can still see him (inside a box, inside a garbage can, under a truck), it seems that a more accurate title for the game would be ‘Serial Rapist King’ or ‘Molest King’ or ‘Pervert Neighbor King’. While you are playing the game, it seems thoroughly plausible that the King will leap out, and instead of presenting hot food to a hungry NPC, he will, in the terminology of one Trudy Weigel, “toss aside his whipped ices and rape the shit out of them”. ‘Fuck King’?

We’re gonna need a bigger boat.

I’ll admit to being out of the loop when it comes to new games being released. Since I quit working at gamestop, I haven’t been keeping up with what is coming out, and when.

Imagine my surprise and delight to discover they are releasing a ‘Jaws’ game. Oh wait, they already DID release a Jaws game. For the NES. But now they’re doing it AGAIN. Only better! Just check out these stats!

* Players take control of Jaws the Great White Shark with themes and locations from the original JAWS universe.

Jaws has its own universe now? Also, to be nitpicky, I don’t believe the shark itself is named ‘Jaws’.

* More than 10 meticulously detailed, destructible environments, each with unique themes and intense action.

OMG 10? That might be too much INTENSE action for me, especially if there’s a wet & wild room. (and you know there will be.)

* Unleash real-time damage on intelligent enemies, vehicles and structures.

Since when are vehicles and structures considered to be intelligent?

* Perform a variety of stunning underwater, surface and air attacks via a user friendly combat system.

Ah, yes. I must be forgetting the part of the movie where Bruce the Shark learned to FLY.

* Dismemberment engine provides 25+ points of disconnection allowing for game characters and objects to be torn apart piece by piece.

I have no snarky remark for this. Oh, wait, I do! It must be based on the Jeffrey Dahmer Engine!

* Follow story based missions or choose to freely roam the island and its surroundings causing havoc.

‘So dig this, you guys. It’s like….it’s like GTA only you’re a SHARK, man.’

* Encounter multiple side missions/challenges including timed destruction, stealth, chase and others.

What sort of reward system would someone use for a shark?

* Face fearsome arena bosses including killer whales, powerful boats and more.

Apparently you will be facing these fearsome killer whales in a pool outside of a Hyatt somewhere. Tourists will watch in horror until your FLYING SHARK ATTACK starts dismembering them, as well!

orca eating

* See your victims before they know you’re coming and target lock on enemies from afar with Shark Vision.

Why oh why didn’t I ask for Shark Vision for my birthday? :sob:

This game is either going to be terrible or terribly awesome. I vote for multiplayer where you can tag-team giant orcas and or battle each other to the death. THAT would be awesome.

Wherein I leap from topic to topic like a 3 year old with ADD

I’m having a bit of difficulty kicking this cold..I’ve had it for a week now and it shows no signs of getting better–rather, I’ve had to take yesterday and today off of work because I felt like such utter ass. When I go into work tomorrow, I am going to force GC to let me sign up for insurance, because I think I need to go to a doctor. My cough is starting to sound like a death rattle, which is some exciting stuff!

I picked up a copy of ‘Sprung’ for the DS on the cheap, and played through it in one evening. Holy CRAP that game is terrible. Aside from one liners such as, “You keep flapping your gums and you’re gonna make the yeast in my anger loaf rise,” the game looks and plays exactly like an episode of Elimidate. Everybody hooks up with everybody else, the guys give each other high-fives about it, and the girls call each other fat whores. However, if this has ANY application in real life, apparently it’s not all that hard to get into girls’ pants. I don’t know what any of you guys are complaining about. It’s just a little ‘hey baby’, plus some ‘can I buy you a drink’, with a dash of ‘you look amazing’ for good measure. BOOM. You’re in for some hottub handjob action.

The grammar is pretty stellar, too.


My mom called me this morning and said she was looking at activities and things for us to do while I’m in Vegas, and I asked her if she could find out if Penn and Teller would be doing any shows while we were there. As luck would have it, they were (something like the 2nd day of my vacation is their last show for a month..). So I’m going to be seeing Penn & Teller at the Rio ($75 tickets nonwithstanding. Thanks, mom!) I’m getting excited about going to Vegas–even though I lived so close before, I still have never been there. I’m not a gambler, the only money I’m intending on putting in slots is the money that’ll get me my free drinks. Carrie and I also plan on going into Cheetah’s–apparently they don’t allow unaccompanied ladies inside the building. But how could we not go see the place where one of the most craptacular films of all time, ‘Showgirls’, was shot? Also, the quote I found absolutely slays me: “If you can’t find one you like here, you’re obviously not serious about topless entertainment. On most weekends Cheetah’s features 500 girls in a 24-hour period.”