It's time to set aside Nuts and Bolts

Banjo & Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts is a bit of a strange game to play.  In a lot of ways, it's easily one of the most brilliantly designed games I've ever played.  If game development theory is a topic in any college classes, this should be a prime example of how wonderful the idea of "do it yourself" gaming can be.  However, it doesn't come without a great many flaws, most of which appear to have been lifted straight out of its predecessors (problematic camera angles, some poor platforming elements when on foot), while introducing a few new ones (most notably, combat before you receive any auto-aim weapons).  It's not that Nuts and Bolts is a terrible game - as a matter of fact, if you enjoy games, you should pick this up without hesitation - but it definitely could have used more time to fix what's under the hood.  It's got a wonderful foundation, but the slapdash trailer house set on that foundation is shaky as hell.  
My frustration and admiration of the game have led me to decide to shelve it, for now.  There are still some minor achievements I want, and I've yet to beat Gruntilda (sitting on about seventy-ish Jiggies, maybe closer to eighty), so I'll be picking it up again.  But for now, it's time I move on to different games. 
I've been playing The Sims 3 lately, when it works.  I get some odd crashes that I attribute to my laptop's strain in playing this game.  It makes it frustrating, but if I carefully plan on saving every fifteen to twenty minutes, it's not so bad.  I'm planning on playing Enchanted Arms next on the 360, a game given as a gift to me a while back and one I've sadly yet to crack open.  Now's as good of a time as any, I suppose.  Besides that, I'll be playing a bit of everything on the laptop, including Sam and Max season 2, Max Payne 2, Star Wars: Empire at War, and as much Civ 4 as I can fit into the nooks and crannies.  Whew, that's a lot.  And on the 360 side, I've got some demos I want to try out, as well as more Puzzle Quest 2.  I'm really, really liking that game, though it's a shame they've dropped some of the awesome RPG elements.  Netted the OMGHAX achievement within about four battles, which is one I figured I'd never get.  Nice!   I'm also playing Super Mario Galaxy 2 when I can.  I loaned my Wii to my brother for next few months, so I'm having to play that on my parents' TV which limits the amount of time I get to play it.  It's a superb game, definitely worth all the praise it's received, and so far, it's my game of 2010.
So yeah, that's all for right now.  Hopefully should be able to pick up Monkey Island 2 somewhere down the line, but for now, it's back to writing and finding a job.  And since I watched Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure this morning for the first time in nearly ten years... 
Be excellent to each other!
EDIT: Apparently, no Sims 3 for me.  I don't know why (I suspect my video card), but I get a consistent crash when I switch from Buy to Live modes.  Sucks, but oh well - got tons of other shit to play.

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My favorite moment in Nuts and Bolts

I really like Nuts and Bolts, but several little issues keep it from being a perfect game.  One of those issues is combat, especially of the vehicular manslaughter kind.  Aiming is damn near impossible, especially when moving.  That's why I normally hate combat missions with a passion.  But last night, I was a man on a quest for Jiggies, and I was not to be denied by anything in my way.  Yes, I was probably slightly drunk.  
The Jiggy in question comes from the farm area.  Basically, you have to defend a farm's statue from Gruntilda's bombers.  At first, I tried an aerial attack using my baby, a giant helicopter-looking thing I call Thumper.  Didn't work.  Added a grenade turret to Thumper, and did some plane killin' from there.  Still ultimately failing the mission, I was growing frustrated until I thought of an insane solution.  Why not build something that could protect the statue? 
I proceeded to visit the handy dandy ol' workshop.  I started with a flat top of heavy bricks, adding a few rows of lighter ones around the heavies for extra width.  From there, I added four support columns of light bricks, each about seven bricks high.  With a few light bricks left, I added some horizonatl bars to the mix for added protection from the sides.  On the top, I added propellers and Banjo's seat.  Under the top, I loaded it with engines and fuel.  When I took the bad boy out on the track, sure enough, it flew - maybe not straight as an arrow (OK, it looked like a bumblebee had dipped into grandpa's cough medicine), but the sucker flew! 
I took the flying tower to the mission, and lo and behold, it worked.  It was too slow to nab the TT trophy, but I got the Jiggy, which is damn well good enough for me.

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Companies similar to Dell and Alienware?

Yahoo News has an interesting article on the downfall of Dell.  In a way, their faulty craptacular parts affected me last year, when my video card decided to blow its own brains out.  It has me thinking, though - what companies, if any, offer similar custom PC's you can adjust and buy as a whole?  Or is this a dying trend?  If so, I'm not enthused.  I hate trying to put together parts in PC's due to my vision problems, and I sure as hell don't want to buy some cheap piece of shit from Sam's Club.  It's nice to have a company where you can pick your parts and go with it. 
Any ideas?

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Top franchises I want to see Lego-fied

After playing LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga (which, if you're still out there, GamerGeek360, has some awesomely easy achievements), I've decided to chime in on my top franchises that deserve a LEGO video game.  Yes, I know, property rights will make practically all of these impossible - this blog is merely for fun and speculation.  
EDIT - Thanks to bigandtasty for pointing out that the developer was Traveller's Tales, not Telltale.  Again, my talent for confusing simple names shows itself.  My name's Forrest Gump.  Most people around here call me Forrest Gump.
1.  Pirates of the Caribbean 
It's an action-comedy-drama with a ton of heart, and it should translate well into the LEGO world Traveller's Tales has created.  The only problem might be the lack of characters to draw from for bonuses, but maybe Traveller's Tales could draw upon real-life pirates and people of the pirate era.   
2.  King Arthur 
Continuing with that idea from Lego PotC, let's assume that Traveller's Tales doesn't strictly draw characters from Arthurian legend (though there are many), but also upon Anglo-Saxon, French, and Germanic mythology and legend.  There's a ton of possibilities there story-wise, and who knows?  Maybe we'd even get a Holy Hand Grenade. 
3.  Lord of the Rings 
Now here are some works with plenty of characters, battles, and areas to use.  Of all the ideas I've hemmed and hawed about on this list, this one is probably my favorite, simply because of the potential for silliness and great gameplay.  Throw in the incredible score from the movies, and you'd be set. 
4.  Film Classics 
This one is wide open to interpretation, but I'd love to see a Lego game built around one-off films and classic cinema moments.  Utilizing a movie cinema as the gaming hub, you could jump into any movie poster and reenact that movie with Legos.  Action classics off the top of my head I'd love to see make the cut - King Kong, Magnificent Seven, Saving Private Ryan, and Rambo.  Or you could go non-traditional movies, like sports (Rocky), romance (Casablanca), noir (Maltese Falcon), sci-fi (Blade Runner), or comedy (Young Frankenstein?).  It would make for a nice break from the normal Traveller's Tales Lego set-up to do less-action oriented games, but some deep care and thought would have to be made as to how to do it right without losing both younger and older audiences.
5.  The Simpsons 
This makes a lot of sense, but I'm not too sure as to how a comedy-oriented franchise would translate into the already goofy Lego world.  Done right though, this could be a hilarious way to recreate classic episodes of the Simpsons, or to create an entirely new Simpsons game similar to the last excellent Simpsons action game.   
6.  Ghostbusters 
It would be hard to create a typical Traveller's Tales game around the Ghostbusters franchise, but if they ditched all the notions of their prior games, I think they could come up with some ingenius ways to translate the films to games.  It would have to be less action heavy, and interaction between the team would be have to be done without speech, meaning the movie's biggest draw (the dialogue) is out the window.  Still... it has possibilities.

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E3 Awards

I'm back from vacation, so here are my belated E3 awards, fresh out of the oven and ready for your consumption.  Play on, players! 

Most Disappointing Use of a Franchise Name

It's not so much that XCOM looks like a terrible game (it does).  It's not even so much that it's ripping its style directly from Bioshock (it is).  It's the fact that they've turned a goddamned turn-based strategy game into an abortion of a first-person shooter with only glancing nods towards the venerable series's roots.  Take Fallout 3 - at its core, Fallout 3 is essentially still Fallout, despite its first-person trappings.  The VATS system is still intact, the world still feels the same, and the core gameplay feels rooted and steeped in its predecessors despite the option to play the game as you would a modern first-person shooter.  It's a stellar way to modernize a favorite franchise.  But this abortion of a premise for X-Com (excuse me - XCOM) feels like these guys have simply looked at the bullet points of what made the original great, threw out most of them, and kept only enough to piss off fans who don't want to see yet another franchise raped by bad development decisions. 
This is one where I want to be proven wrong.  I hope this game turns out to be the slam-dunk that Fallout 3 became.  But I really doubt it.  I mean... ink aliens?  Really?
Runner-up: Medal of Honor 

Most Surprising Announcement

 Valve-PS3 Support 
It wasn't an E3 chock full of surprises, but most of the announcements were pleasant surprises.  It was hard for me to pick between the various Nintendo announcements or this, but ultimately, I think this will probably have the largest effect on the industry as a whole.  I say this not because of the games that'll be hitting the PS3 soon from Valve, but because of the Steam support and slow integration into the PS3.  Will we see it really affect this current generation?  I don't know, but I doubt it'll have any serious impact for at least a year.  That being said, I love Steam, and if it replaces the dismal PSN store, all the better. 
Runner-ups:  Donkey Kong Country Returns, GoldenEye, Kirby, Kid Icarus

Game I'm Ashamed to Admit I Want to Play

 Epic Mickey 
It looks amazing.  Shaddup. 

Top Tech Device

Nintendo's 3DS 
This is maybe the only pick from last week's thoughts that I had any second doubts about.  I reviewed the videos again yesterday of all the games being demonstrated on the Kinect, Move, and the 3DS, and ultimately, I decided that my initial reaction was correct.  Ultimately, it boils down to the lack of awesome games on MS's part (other than that exercise game, nothing drew me in) and a sense of "mii too" from Sony.  That's not to say that the respective companies don't have some amazing technology on their hands - they do.  But in order to succeed, Microsoft and Sony both need to develop games that will attract core lifetime gamers, and right now, I'm just not seeing it.  The 3DS, however, demonstrated a total backing by Nintendo, with one of the most incredible lineups of games I've ever seen.  Kid Icarus, Kingdom Hearts, Resident Evil, Metal Gear, Animal Crossing, and Star Fox, just to name a few?  Oh hell yeah.  See, technology alone is awesome.  Support that technology with drive, determination, 3rd party support on an unrivaled scale, and individuality, and you've got a winner in this category.
Runner-ups: Kinect, Move, Shaun White's hair styling tools

Best Presentation of a Game  

Twisted Metal 
There wasn't a question in my mind about this one.  Twisted Metal's announcement exemplifies what I love about E3.  The big, flashy introduction combined with lots of great gameplay footage had me hooked from the get-go.  Throwing the truck on the stage along with the Sweet Tooth actor was just icing on one freakin' delicious cake.  I think the most important part to me was the confidence shown by demonstrating so much of the gameplay.  It was ballsy to show the game in this early of a stage, especially with some of the rougher visuals, but damn it, that's exactly what I want to see out of developers and publishers.  Don't just give us a trailer - give us a minute of footage, something we can digest and chew on for a good long while until more information can be released.  This is E3 at it's cheesiest best, and I loved every second of the announcement. 
Runner-ups: Call of Duty: Black Ops, NeverDead

Best Gameplay

Call of Duty: Black Ops 
I know I'm not the biggest advocate of the Call of Duty series here on Giant Bomb, but I do have respect for the series, and I think the various demonstrations of Call of Duty: Black Ops exemplify what makes the series so exciting and appealing.   The helicopter level shown is intense, action-packed, and looks like a blast to play.  It doesn't hurt that the graphics are seriously awesome, too.  While I doubt I'll be picking up the game on its release, I think Black Ops is shaping up to be the game where Treyarch finally shows us what they can do. 
Runner-ups: Twisted Metal, Killzone 3, Shaun White Skateboarding

Best Trailer

I don't have a clue what the game is about, but I'll be damned if the trailer didn't charm the hell out of me.  Looking like a cross between Lemmings and Monsters, Inc., they've put out a heck of a cinematic trailer for an almost unknown game.  You've got me curious - now show us the goods! 
Runner-up: Fable 3  

Best Head Shake of Doom 

Jeff Gerstmann 
Seriously.  The dude's head shake on day zero's livecast destroyed my mind.

Best Leaked Game

Mortal Kombat 
I'm a huge fan of the original Mortal Kombat and its sequel, and seeing the game take such a back-to-basics route makes me all warm and fuzzy inside with thoughts of true fatalities and blood galore.  It really doesn't hurt that the gameplay looks smooth and fluid, with a great cast of announced characters.  If the end game is anything like what we've seen, I'm sure Mortal Kombat will turn out to be one hell of a reboot.  
Please note that I don't consider Twisted Metal to have been "leaked," only rumored with strong educated guesses as to its reality.

Best of Microsoft

Fable III 
It wasn't a good year for Microsoft's E3 press conference.  The Kinect came across as little more than a gimmicky Wii variation with few games to seperate it from the horde of mini-games and sports activities out there.  Microsoft, I love ya, but you stank up the room this year in a big way.  That being said, a few quality titles were on display.  Fable III looks to continue the incredible gameplay of the 2nd, with a similar art style and focus.  The E3 trailer was great, but more gameplay would have gone a long ways towards making this my game of the show.  Instead, it'll have to be satisfied with my Best of Microsoft award.  Sadly, this year, that's not saying much. 
 Runner-ups: Gears of War III, announcement of partnership with Crytek

Best of Nintendo


Holy shit, Nintendo brought the pain this year.  It's hard to decide on just one thing from their show that I loved the most, but in the end, I've gotta give it up to the 3DS in general.  Not only is the technology amazing, but the gigantic wall of text listing the games in the 3DS section should explain why any gamer should be excited for its release.  I've already detailed some of the highlihgts above, but go look at that list right now, and tell me you didn't just get a geek boner.   Nintendo knows what its core gamers want, and they're delivering.  It's amazing to see the 3rd party support as well.  But the big part for me is the fact that the 3d is optional.  I really doubt the tech will work with my particular vision problems, so having the 3D slider is a big thing to me.  Also, the support of the original DS's games will go a hell of a long ways towards its initial launch replayability. 
Runner-ups: Kid Icarus, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Goldeneye

Best of Sony

Twisted Metal 

Sony's conference was a bit slow to start, but it picked up a hell of a lot of Steam (heh heh), culminating with the biggest Sony announcement of the year - Twisted Metal.  We can safely say we all saw it coming eventually, but the way the game was revealed, along with the excellent amount of gameplay footage, made this one super special.  It's a return to a series I adore, with smart-looking gameplay, classic characters, and neat gameplay variants.  I'm going to be anticipating this one, that's for damn sure. 
Runners-up: Valve supports PS3, LittleBigPlanet 2 

Best Multiplatform Game

Mortal Kombat 
Not to keep gushing about Mortal Kombat, but seriously, this game looked rockin'.  I'm hoping for good things here, and I doubt I'll be disappointed (unless some bonehead decides to make it PG-13). 
Runner-up: Call of Duty: Black Ops

Best of Show (The Big Three)  

My gut instinct was Nintendo, and a week later, my decision hasn't changed.  Nintendo's great game reveals combined with excellent technology on display definitely took me in.  The 3DS looks incredible, and it has a hell of a lot of good looking games lined up.  Of course, gameplay footage for those games will ultimately be the deciding factor in the long term success of the 3DS, but I think it's safe to say that there will be something for everyone.  GoldenEye looks good, Donkey Kong Country Returns looks amazing, and they even had me secretly wishing I was about ten so I wouldn't feel creepy about buying Epic Mickey and Kirby (thank you, anonymous Amazon deliveries!).  Had Sony come out the door swinging or shown more support for the Move with quality games, they might have been a contender.  But as it is, I think Nintendo swept this category.  

Best Hair

Shaun White 

Best of Show (Individual Game)

Twisted Metal 
This was the most difficult category this year, thanks to two quality games on display.  Mortal Kombat could have easily taken the top spot as well, but I think in the end, Twisted Metal's clever, cheesy reveal won me over, along with the quality gameplay footage and genuine enthusiasm from its developers.  Twisted Metal looks to be returning in fine form, and I'm glad to say that in the end, it wins my Game of E3 2010 award.  Nice! 
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Knee jerk reactions to the Big Three's conferences

While I usually hold off on blogging about E3, I've decided to go ahead and post some quick thoughts on all three major conferences.  Next week, once I've come back from a short vacation to South Dakota, I'll have had time to read through most of the game announcements and details to give out some Sparky-flavored awards.  They'll taste of victory and tears.   Oh, and please bear in mind that I try not to favor any one particular company - I own all three consoles, a DS, and I'm a fan of each of them, as you can glean from prior blogs about games I love on each console.  However, I do hold a certain sort of bias, being an old-school gamer, and that will inevitably become a factor in all three conferences.
I want to get this off my chest first - if you don't bring the "wow" factor to E3, you're not going to impress the core demographic of the conference, that being the gamers who care enough about games to actually read through media sites for news on the show.  For me, that "wow" factor comes from games, but in Microsoft's event, they tried to bring it via technology. 
Don't get me wrong - I'm incredibly impressed with the way the Kinect works.  The innovations and science behind the tech are stunning, and I can't wait to see what it brings as far as games five years down the line.  But yesterday, Microsoft did not show anything that appeals to the gamer in me.  The workout program seemed neat (and believe me, when I get an apartment big enough for one, I'll definitely be picking it up).  But beyond that, the mini-games seem a little stale and nothing really drew me in. 
That being said, the few games on display not aimed at the Kinect audience were great.  Fable 2 is one of my favorite games of all time, so I eat up anything Fable 3 related.  The trailer looked good, but I'd have liked to have seen some gameplay mechanics and footage.  Gears of War has never been my cup of tea due to my vision problems, but the third looks as incredible as the rest of the series.  Halo Reach will inevitably draw me in for 100+ hours, time I should be using to write and do constructive things. 
I think honestly one of the highlights for Microsoft right now is XBLA, and I was sorely disappointed to not see it featured as it has been in the past.  Hydro Thunder looks incredible.  Stoked for a new Tomb Raider and Castlevania, too. 

Insofar as competitive conferencing goes, to me, Nintendo is the clear-cut winner here.  But here's why that's unfair for me to say - most of the sequels announced were for series that I adore.  I still own a Kid Icarus cartridge.  I played the holy hell out of Donkey Kong 64, and adore the Super Nintendo Country games.  GoldenEye was the first console shooter I really enjoyed, and I poured a ton of hours into its multiplayer along with my brother and our friends.  Kirby kinda drew a mixed reaction, as I'm not a huge fan of the series, but I loved what I saw.  Even Epic Mickey (Mickey Epic?) looked superb. 
So yes, judging on the excitement of games featured, Nintendo definitely won me over.  But even on the technological side, Nintendo managed to alleviate my doubts about the 3DS.  I still don't know if the technology will work for my vision, as almost all 3D tech doesn't (stupid depth perception and glasses destroy the illusion for me), but even if it doesn't, I applaud Nintendo for this.  If the tech doesn't work for me, I hope that there will at least be an option to play games in the regular "old-fashioned" way.  If so, I'll definitely think about picking it up - but probably during the inevitable second generation of the product.  Not making that mistake again like I did with the DS.  Damn you, heavy clunky DS! 
I'm going to announce one E3 award today, and that's "The Comeback Kid" Award.  The beginning of Sony' press conference had me in a fit of boredom.  I hold no interest in Killzone (disliked both the predecessors), and the Move stuff practically screams copyright infringement.  With the added bonus of a dearth of excellent looking Move games, and I was throwing obscenities around left and right on the forums during their conference. 

LBP 2's easy, charming presentation started to win me over.  There weren't any real surprises here or throughout most of Sony's conference, but what was shown was damned interesting.  I love the creative options in making new game types, and the game still has that charm from the first.  It's definitely shaping up to be a fantastic game, and it started to really turn things around for Sony's conference. 
Of course, the big shocker of the PS conference was Gabe Newell and Valve's new presence on the PS3.  Great stuff with the interruption, and it brings a lot to Sony's table.  Will we see more support from Valve?  Time will tell, but something tells me that yes, Valve wants a piece of the PS3 pie. 
Twisted Metal and Forz.... uhhh, Gran Turismo 5 are new entries in classic series, so it was great to see them get some lovin'.  I'll believe a Turismo 5 release date when that game is in my hands - until then, consider me doubtful.  Twisted Metal admittedly looked rough, but kudos to Sony for having the balls to show so much gameplay.  Given the right amount of polish and shine, I could easily see this becoming a future addiction. 
Other Stuff 
I'm not expecting a whole lot else.  It's been a good E3 so far, and I'm looking forward to being able to peruse and view videos throughout the next week and a half.  A part of me really wishes we'd see some new JRPG announcements, though that's a pipe dream at pretty much any E3.  If they happen, awesome.  If not, I'll get my fix at the Tokyo show, I'm sure.  But still... Sony, please, a new Suikoden?  Or just release Suikoden 2 on the PSN?  Come on, you know you want to!

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Hi. I'm Sparky_Buzzsaw, and I'm a Giant Bomb Hooligan.

You may remember me.  I'm the guy that kept promising orgasmically entertaining weekly blogs with the ever-clever title of Sparky's Updates.  Well, I think we can all agree my idea of a semi-formal weekly blog is deader than Jim Morrison.  And folks, lemme tell you, that duder is one rotting corpse.  So long, Sparky's Update, and thanks for all the fish. 
Now then... I'll be hitting you all up with occasional blogs of no particular format, reason, or rhyme.  I think this'll work out better for everybody.  I'll still try to feature community blogs and other under-the-radar happenings, but no promises.  Again, if you ever have any recommendations for blogs, user reviews, or criminally underviewed threads, hit me up and I'll try to make sure they get a little more lovin' here on Giant Bomb. 
Quick thoughts on what I've been doing and gaming: 
Forza 3 and Tiger Woods 10 have been my crack of choice these last few weeks.  Even though I have to spank the piss out of my 360 every time I need to load a disk, I'm still using it and the laptop to get my gamin' freak on.  Yeah, that's right, I just dropped a little Missy Elliot in this here blog.  Booyah, bitches.  I've downloaded a couple of the car packs for Forza 3, and I've gotta admit, I'm pleased with the number, variety, and quality of the vehicles included in 'em.  And at 400 MS points, they fit a niche of being just priced low enough for car enthusiasts like myself.  And that Morgan?  Fuckin' sweeeeet!  That bad boy growls when you mash the pedal down. 
Still not great at Tiger Woods 10.  The challenges are almost impossible for me beyond the initial few, and that's with a golfer with near-max stats.  Oh, by the way, I've mentioned this in status updates, but I'm damn glad TW 11 went back to an XP system for its stats.  I hated that Tiger coach doling and taking that shit from me at every turn.  Won't be picking up TW 11 more than likely, but it's still a purdy game to look at. 
And speaking of purdy games to look at, Final Fantasy XIII has that going for it... and not much more.  Son of a bitch, Square, you screwed the pooch on this one.  Everything that should feel awesome doesn't.  The Crystallanari... Crystalariu.... the leveling system should be awesome, but instead of the freedom of customization I've come to enjoy from Square's last few offerings in the series, I'm stuck with singular paths and rigid, stunted branches (that's what she said).  Sadly, that same thing can be said of much of the game - its exploration feels too linear and dumbed down for no good reason, the story progresses without any of the usual fun Final Fantasy diversions, and there's no real reason to go back through a second time.  The characters and overarching story are fine, but not outstanding.  Truth be told, it's one of the most bland RPG's I've played in a long time. 
That's why I'm pretty stoked to see them announce the new Final Fantasy game for the DS.  It seems like a smart choice and a tentative feeler for the response of gamers worldwide.  If it sells, I'm sure Square will be rethinking their stance on the whole "let's action-ize our RPG's!" shtick.  God, I hope so, because another game like FF 13, and I won't be picking them up until they're at a very discounted price. 
Awesome to see Mortal Kombat return to its roots.  That game looks solid and awesome.  Rock Band 3 might be the ticket to get me into the music game thing (I need SOMETHING for parties, anyways).  Telltale should do an interesting job with Back to the Future and Jurassic Park.  Looking forward to writing up more thoughts on E3 soon.  This is my favorite time of the year to be a gamer!
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My Quick and Dirty E3 Wishlist

Come on.  You know you like it quick and dirty.  On to the list. 
--New console based Suikodens and Wild ARMs: Two of my favorite RPG's from the PS1 and PS2 era have practically disappeared.  I wouldn't mind seeing new handheld versions of each, but please, if another Suikoden is brought to the handhelds, give us some interesting characters and castle-based mini-games and activities.  I really missed that in the latest iteration.  As far as Wild ARMs, I wouldn't mind seeing a reboot or a variation of the series featuring the classic gameplay, but I'd prefer a turn-based RPG in its classic vein. 
--New Tales of Monkey Island.  Come on, Telltale... you know you want to.  I'd also love to see them revisit Full Throttle and Grim Fandango, but I think that's just wishful thinking. 
--More info on Final Fantasy 13 Agito and Versus.  Pretty simpel stuff there. 
--New Final Fantasy Tactics.  Again, I'd prefer console, but hell, I'd take it on any system. 
--Sequel to inFamous. 
--New Nintendo games.  I never know what the hell team N is up to, but I'm always up for it (except for Wii Music - ugh).  Wouldn't mind seeing a new F-Zero. 
--More details, videos, and information on Diablo 3.  Hell,  I'll take any Diablo 3 tidbits I can get. 

--Fable 3 gameplay.  You know it's going to happen, but I'm still hotly anticipating it. 
What are yours?

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Sparky's Update is tired of being sick, and sick of being poor.

OK, if you get that title reference, I want you to go out and get yourself a cookie.  But not just any cookie - the biggest damned cookie in the universe.

Oh, yeah, that's right, hotpants McGee, I'm back and I've got a lot to talk about.  Sorry for the absence (like you really care, right?).  I had all sorts of personal issues to work out over the last two weeks, including a fun bout with the noro virus (spelling?).  Let me tell you what, that's just a fantastic little sickness there.  I'm glad I'm still young.  Well, young-ish.  That shit can apparently kill you - literally. 
This week, I'm talking about my admiration for Tales of Vesperia and how end-game material should be done correctly.  I'll also be doing a quick rundown on some gaming events and news in a new section I'm giong to call Tidbits.  Original, I know. 
Waiter, There Are Tales in My Vesperia

The title "Tales of Vesperia" is apt.  The main quest itself is ridiculously long, almost negatively so at times.  It's pretty standard anime-RPG fare with the same cliched JRPG stereotypes you've come to know and expect.  But this isn't meant to be a review of the game - this is praise for what the game does right.  There is a metric shit-ton of side-quests, mini-scenes, optional character development, collectibles, optional bosses, and an insane amount of monster hunting to be found here.  It's not all just limited to the end, either.  This is all spread out through the various chapters of the game, so if you're like me, you've missed at least three-quarters of the good stuff on the first playthrough. 
I recently took a look at a FAQ designed for Vesperia's side quests.  Holy shit, was I blown away.  Nothing in its own right is spectacular or entirely original, but all of it combines to add a hell of a lot of meat to an otherwise bland game.  And that's not even dipping into the New Game+ material, which allows you to spend your hard-earned alternate currency "grade" on things like bonus experience, carrying over abilities, and all the items or costumes you've obtained so far. 

  • If the makers of this game can learn to create some original characters and a good-to-great story, they'll have one of the best RPG systems I've seen to date.  It's stunning how much there is to see and do in this game, and I really applaud them for spending so much time on what would otherwise be considered trivialities.   Which brings me to my point.  If your game doesn't have some sort of great replay value naturally built into the product (i.e. multiplayer), then you'd damn well better make sure you spend some development time adding some in.  It's the difference between the GTA IV's and the Saint's Row 2's of the world.  GTA IV might have a great story and is polished, but it's Saint's Row 2 that compels me to keep playing, thanks to its awesome extra content and wide range of fun mini-games.
    And mini-games aren't even necessarily the answer.  Sometimes, it's just adding in a little extra character development on the side.  Or maybe it's some evolving and interesting sub-plots and stories, as in Lost Odyssey or any number of adventure games.  Straight-up story-telling is fine, and can make for an awesome single runthrough.  But if you're looking to keep your gamers hooked and avoid a used game craze, make damn sure you've got some great bonus content.  Bones it, Tales of Vesperia creators.  You've done it right.  Booyah.
  • *The goddamn ordered and unordered lists are still not working properly in GB.  Any thoughts or ideas on how to get them to work properly?  It doesn't even create the list as I ask.  It just ends up on a blank line.
  • --Picked up both Deus Ex games through the Steam sale this week.  Hoping to pick up Final Fantasy XIII Monday.  We'll see what happens.

--I managed to get my 360 up and running by banging the hell out of the case when it loads disks.  Not happy with the solution, but for now, it works. 
--Marvel vs. Capcom 3?  Hell yeah!  Hoping to build my dream team of Venom, Captain America, and Deadpool.  I'd love to see Thanatos, Quasar, and Wonder Man make appearances, but that's pretty damn doubtful.   Oh, and more Psylocke in skimpy outfits, please.  Yep, she's a comic and digital.  Yep, she's still hot.  Piss off.
--Some good deals on games right now - Direct2Drive is holding some weekly sales on quite a few of their games.  Steam has Trine for $5, and Left 4 Dead 2 for $20.  Hell yeah. continues to impress me with their offerings.  Can't wait to pick up a lot of those old adventure games.  Gabriel Knight, baby.  Gabriel Knight. 

What You Should Be Reading Right Now 

It's been hard for me t sit down and read a lot of the blogs these last few weeks, and I'm really sorry about that.  I had hoped to be able to highlight blogs from each week, but unfortunately I've only been able to catch up with more recent ones.  Here you go. 
The winner of this week's I'm-Not-Worthy goes to ProfessorEss, for his astoundingly good blog on the used games industry.  Check it, fools.  It's a hell of a good read, it's short, and it needs more comments and readers!

The runner-up this week goes to Dalai, with his insightful blog on the so-called end of the consoles.  Again, a great read by Dalai, and well worth your time.

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PSnarky's Update - Ballet is A-OK, and my Top 11 Ever list.

Snarky here with your weekly dosage of coma-inducing funtasms, bringing it to you raw and dirty!  This week I tell like it is, fool, with my look at the latest game to storm the nation - Let's Ballet, as well as my 11 Favorites of Everything Super-Omega Grand Poobah List. 
I'll Ballet You Into the Grave, Mofo! 
I'll be the first to admit, I hate ballet except when it's performed by hookers and porn stars.  Seriously, you have not seen Swan Lake until you've seen Jenna Jameson and Tera Patrick up there shaking their money-makers.  It's divine.  So that's why I approached Newvie Soft's latest effort "Let's Ballet" with a great deal of skepticism and quite a bit of Jack Daniels. 
Let me get this out of the way right now - this game will undo your belt, unzip your trousers, drop your boxers, and give you the greatest virtual blowjob you've had since Zork.  It's that good.  You will want to stick your dick in this game.  I'm getting wood just thinking about it. 
Let's Ballet is a classic example of virtual poetry.  The graphics are easily on par with anything we've seen this generation (good luck getting it to run on your Amiga - these are SVGA graphics for realz).  The fact that it requires the Wii balance board, the 360's controller, and the PS3's Blu-Ray remote all duct-taped together into one perfect gangbang of controllers might intimidate you, but don't worry.  There are step-by-step instructions written on scraps of paper inside along with a free roll of duct tape to help you along.  I highly recommend adding the optional Virtual Boy support.  It just makes the game that much more in your face, which is what we all want as gamers.  Well, that, and Olivia Munn dipped in caramel hopping up and down on a trampoline with a Popsicle in each hand, but that's just a given. 
The game plays like a cross between Pitfall and Battlefield Bad Company 2, except with obvious ballet influences.  You'll swoon to the music selections, too.  Tchaikovsky (or as I like to call him, Tchai T) never sounded so amazing as when it's being performed with nothing but cowbells and Britney Spears doing vocals.  I thought the addition of the snare drum to the proceedings was a bit risque, but like I said earlier, I'm not a professed fan of the ballet in general. 
If I were to give Let's Ballet a rating, it would be "fucking awesome" out of 10 stars.  You won't regret dropping the $2000 bones on this game.  Look for it on store shelves anywhere malt liquor and pork grinds are sold. 
Top Eleven EVER! 
11.  Vienna Sausages - You can add this shit to anything and make it delicious.  I mixed them with motor oil, a deck of cards, some grass clippings from '02, and some Mad Dog, and boy howdy, was it delicious! 
10.  Cheap hookers - I love you, ladies, but I'm paying you to leave. 

9.  The taste of pennies - Oh, man, I could lick pennies all day.  And sometimes I do! 
8.  People who make little commentaries at every possible moment during commericals, shows, and movies - I really respect your every opinion on every little thing you see.  Seriously, I wish you'd talk every time some little thought pops in your head because it's pure gold every time. 
7.  The number 7 - It's a wacky, fun-living number.  Definitely my favorite, and a hell of a lot better than that sneaky bastard 82. 
8.  Steroids - The magic little pills that could!  I love to take them before I hit McDonald's so I can feel pumped up and energized when I'm slamming down six Big Macs. 
7.  Using "frak" in real conversations - Nothing nerdy or incredibly stupid about it! 
6.  Granny panties - I don't know why more porno doesn't feature these delectable underwear of choice.  Ladies, don't just wear these when you're feeling lazy or at the point in a relationship when you no longer give a damn what your man thinks!  Wear 'em all the time, says I! 

5.  99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall - Best. Song. Ever.   That's my joint right there!
4.  Parents screaming at screaming children - Music to my ears! 
3.  Glittery vampire movies and novels - Because what the world needs right now is more blatantly homoerotic vampires.  Death to masculinity! 
2.  Me - I'm awesome. 
1.  My schlong - Even more awesome than me?  Little me! 
What You Should Be Reading Instead of This 
I hear there's a name circulating amongst the Biant Gomb faithful, someone loved and admired by all who converse with him.   His words flow with grace and rhythm practically unheard of in this day of OMG's, WTF's, and "holy shit, did that guy's head just explode?" witticisms.  His name?  You know it.  You love it.  Sparky
Happy April Fool's, bitches!

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