Special edition Pichu to be given away at GameStop

Fellow Pokemaniacs, get your DS's charged and prepare to head down to your local GameStop. For two weeks, starting on January 30th (Happy birthday, me) you can get an exclusive in-game Pikachu-colored Pichu. I'm pretty sure they're the same colors, but hey, WHATEVS! In either case, that Pichu can then be taken to Ilex forest in upcoming Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver (coming March 14 (Happy birthday, someone)) and get a special Pointy-eared Pichu! Huzzah! 
All the details can be found in GameStop's official release here. Also I hear you get a special figurine of some sort for pre-ordering the game, if you're into that. 
Anybody up for a sweet Pichu? I missed my chance on collecting Arceus at the event in November, if somebody has a spare they could let me have, or even just let me borrow it so I can get it on my Pokedex, I would be incredibly happy to make a trade, feel free to PM me. 
I can't wait for SoulSilver...how about you? 
Edit: Also there's this. It's pretty awesome: 


Who wants to tackle Mad Moxi for an S rank? (on 360)

 This image trimmed by Giant Bomb!
 This image trimmed by Giant Bomb!
I'm just throwing this out there, see where it goes. I want to S Rank Borderlands on 360, but that delicious top-hat wearing bitch Moxi stands between me and sweet, sweet victory. I don't trust the PUB for this... I need my fellow Giant bombers. Specifics are negotiable, but right now I've got a 50 hunter I'd probably prefer to use, but there's also a 27 soldier in the mix. 
I'm thinking Wednesday, 6PM Central. if this doesn't work, maybe cook up a later time, i'm totally open to discuss this (I'll try and check this thread as often as possible) 
Feel free to drop me an invite at Panda Convoy. and please don't be hurt if I don't add you, or if at some point I delete you: I'm really weird about my list. 
Also, understand that this is for fun. If you're going to be a dick about this whole thing, or get all pissy if we lose or something, I kind of don't need you applying. Nothing personal, but Mad Moxi is a bitch enough without people adding to it. 
Also, if there's a lot of people interested in this giant bomb meet up thing, feel free to drop your own gamertags (or psn ID's?) and start your own groups. 
And finally, if there's a page for this already, I apologize. I looked, but not very hard. 
Lemon out!

Soundtest! The Music of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom

There has always been something... let's say kitschy about poppy anime music from the 70's. The funky guitars, the slapping drums, and the energy with which they're presented really appeals to me. So while nobody from the Tatsunoko stable of upcoming Tatsunoko vs. Capcom for the Wii looks immediately recognizable (save G-Force), I hoped they would be bringing with them some catchy tunes that would make me all giddy. I am not let down. 
That being said, I would like to start off this segment with the idea that originally sparked it, complete effin' nostalgia. I present to you, with the biggest fanboy hat I can find, from Mega Man Legends.... The Theme of Mega Man Volnutt 

As a frothing fanboy of the Legends series, they picked a damn fine tune. (The original is here for comparison) It seems obvious that they picked a song that was in line with their poppy 70's style anime music, and just to be sure, the remix added all the appropriate little touches to make it solid. There's only one song they could have picked that would have made me happier, and that's "We are the Bonnes!". As a character, the Bonnes definitely have that sentai villain vibe with the way they operate, and their theme hits it home. The fact that the developers used a song form the major battle with the Bonnes makes me believe that  they really wanted to use "Here Come the Bonnes!" but being that Mega Man is the character they chose, they couldn't quite justify it. 
Next up to help round out my own fanboyism, is the theme of Viewtiful Joe. HENSHIN A GO-GO, BABY! 
  Viewtiful Joe fits because he's essentially the based off the G-Forces and the Power Rangers of the 70's, so once again they've very deliberately chosen music to go along with their anime-influenced fighting game. I don't have much else to say about this, other than it was a great choice. 
Ryu's theme seems a bit more off, in terms of the overall structure, but I appreciate the addition of the Taiko drums that I'm pretty sure aren't in the original... At least not in a recognizable way.  
Now that the fanboy in me is sated, let's start exposing you to (perhaps!) some new songs. It's always exciting to hear something new, isn't it? Well let's try and ease you in with something you might be familiar with, the theme to Gatchaman! 
  Never mind that it's called the Theme of Ken (though, for all intents and purposes, that's not incorrect in reference to the game), because it's officially "Gatchaman no Uta" which I believe translates to "The Gatchaman Song," which can be heard here
I couldn't tell you anything about this next fellow, other than I guess his name is Casshan and he's got a sweet robo-wolf. Let's listen! 
  A little low key, but there's something interesting about that. It has a great underlying rhythm that I think is what carries this song, because the melody is a little one trick. Quite whistle-able, though. In any case, I could almost mistake this for Mega Man Legends music... which really is a statement that has no value, other than me again plugging my obsession with Mega Man legends. I don't think you understand, your save-point is a DANCING ROBOT MONKEY! 
 I have only word. "Yes." 
  I keep confusing this fellow for Sunshine from the Muscle/Ultimate Muscle franchises (personal favorite), but I guess he's a giant space robot who transforms into an off-brand Zippo lighter? Whatever, his theme rocks. 
There's obviously more to love, but we only have so much time together. However, I couldn't leave without one little gift that is in little way connected to all of this. Digging through a bunch of sentai-style music, I couldn't help but stumble upon some favorite. Oh sure, everyone knows the power rangers, but do you remember the Big Bad Beetle Borgs? VR Troopers? How about the Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog? Yeah. Yeah. 
So how are you enjoying the music to Tatsunoko vs. Capcom? Are there any selections you wish they would have picked? I'm personally bummed there's no Speed Racer in there, but what are you going to do, eh? Love to hear some comments, feedback, maybe some links to your favorite songs. 
As always, Twitter is a great way to find random links and thoughts, as well as a quick notification to new blogposts.

Review of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories up.

For anyone that cares, I'm on a temporary "not writing a lot" kick because my computer fried and I've got issues with using other people's PC's. But I felt the need to write something, so here we go. I'll try and write a little more regularly, but not as much as I usually would, not until I get a new computer. Hopefully one that can run Left 4 Dead without chugging like a drunk train through the desert. No, I have no idea what that means, but just go with it. 
Let me know what you think of the review. I'll try and post a more spoiler-happy discussion about the game sometime next week after I get another playthrough under my belt.

Why "Game of the Year" doesn't work.

Trying to brand one game the best game that came out this year is akin to trying to pin down the best fruit. In the end you're arguing apples against oranges, and while it's clear that there are a few rotten fruits, video games are far to broad of a medium for only one to be recognized so prominently.

Of all the video game publications and websites I frequent, only Game Informer has ever figured out how it should be done. Do not try splitting hairs; there are valid arguments to be made on many fronts. Instead, just celebrate all of the games that did something right. A list of the best 30 or 50 games, in no particular order, is the best way to go. It's the only way to ensure that you are celebrating all of the big titles that of course were good, but also a lot of smaller ones that might be otherwise ignored. Indy titles and downloadable titles will likely never see the spotlight outside of their independent categories.

If you're looking at a best music game, of course everyone's going to say Beatles: Rock Band. It's hard to argue against the musical juggernaut, regardless of your opinion of them. (I know because I've tried.) And it's a well crafted game. But that means nobody is going to be acknowledging Rhythm Heaven, a fresh approach to the genre with original tunes and gameplay. It's different, and that will put off a large majority of people, but that doesn't mean it's not clever in it's own right. Only through a grouping of awesome games that came out in the previous year will that work.

Scribblenauts is another example of a game that everyone should at least play and marvel at it's concept, even if the execution was blundered a little. In the end, however, there's a good chance that even the "best of" grouping won't be able to cover every great idea. That's why it's great that more personalized lists exist. Last year's Alone in the Dark was a game that had more than enough problems, but it also had more innovative concepts in a game than I have ever seen. They just didn't have the know-how and backing to finish it off properly (I never got around to the PS3 version which I hear improved a lot of the issues. Any word on that, readers?) You'll never see it on a list, and most people won't even put it on their personal games, but I think it's a game everyone should play and I really wish I could explain that to more people.

The problem with user-ballots, however, is that readers don't have to go through everything, or they just can't. If I only got one game a year, it would be my game of the year by default. While thumbing through IGN's reader submissions, I came across a few more issues. The first of which is not allowing for typed submissions. Sure it's easier to catalog, but how was Borderlands not in the running for Best Artistic Direction or Game of the Year? Already, as a reader, I couldn't make my voice heard: making the voting illegitimate. Secondly, I haven't played Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, but I've made the assumption I'm going to love it when I finally do get to play it. I try not to vote like this, but the simple fact remains that many people will, making things illegitimate from our end. That's two ends of a bridge that are broken, and that means the bridge falls into a river.

But returning to the original premise, Adam Sessler has argued that it's almost impossible to decide which is the better of games like Uncharted 2 and Borderlands, and I think he's right. They provide very different games that do very different things. Uncharted 2 has a great single player, and Borderlands has a spectacular multi-player. But just because Borderlands and New Super Mario Bros. Wii both have 4 player co-op doesn't mean they're both the same game, so trying to put them in a "Best multi-player" category isn't helpful either. They suit very different moods.

So how do you split those hairs? Personal preference? If that's the case, how is Final Fantasy 13 ever going to win in the eyes of a bunch of action-preferred gamers? And how is Borderlands ever going to matter to story-heavy fanatics of the Persona series? If you want to know what the best game this year was by score break downs, go look at the scores, and in that case, what's the point of any of this "debate," when it's already been decided?

The only clear answer is to let all of those people have a say and compile them in a list of 20 or 30 (maybe even upwards of 50 if you want to really start letting any game with important merits on). Oh sure, there's still going to be an argument or three over what one person wants on the list over another, but it makes a lot more sense than nominating games that aren't even all that good just because there were only 2 other good fighting games this year.

While I have you on the subject of Game of the Year presentations, can we agree that it's a terrible idea to hold your ceremony before the year is even over? That doesn't count fair for games like Final Fantasy: The Crystal Bearers which comes out on December 26th, and will be primarily ignored on all fronts. I doubt anyone will remember it for next years awards. "Oh no," they might say. "That game came out last year," and the conversation will be over.

What say you, valued reader? Do you prefer a fight to the death between games? Is there really only one game that clearly stood ahead of the others? Or does this sound like a reasonable idea more sites and publications should start looking into? Feel free to comment below, and please look forward to my own selections early next year.

As always, feel free to stalk me on Facebook or Twitter. Also, you can subscribe to my ramblings on The Examiner where I post these articles and more.


The 5 Most Fashionable Lense-Wearing VG Characters

Behind the Lenses

Because I'm still trying to power through some top-notch candidates to uncover my Game of the Year, I've been a bit preoccupied. It's also been a terribly slow couple weeks. I've nothing to rant about! So between my love of video game fashion, and my burning need to post something, I present to you the 5 Most Fashionable Lense-Wearing VG Characters

Number 5: Monty Mole

I have an unnatural fondness for triangular shades. I also think mole's are super adorable. Ergo, out of all of the characters that where triangular shades, I have picked Monty Mole to represent the specific eye-wear, and I doubt it can be argued that he does it well. His tiny, round frame coupled with the sharp edges of the lenses really stand out in contrast against each other. The glasses also do well to reveal his deviant nature; they cover his eyes, they're tinted black, and the sharp edges let the world know that he's dangerous. Which he's really not, but that just makes it all the better.

Number 4: The Medic
Few video game characters are able to rawk the jam-jars, and The Medic makes it look good. Always the professional The Medic has to make sure his bone-saw is clean of blood, his needler is properly maintained, and his glasses aren't crooked. He could have worn any kind of glasses, and in earlier incarnations, he wore a slightly different pair. Clearly, it's about looking like you're the smartest man on the team, and when you look that good, it's not hard.

No Caption Provided
Number 3: Gordon Freeman
Obviously Valve knows how to design a good pair of spectacles. Gordon Freeman isn't the meat-headed super-star we see headlining most of our First Person Shooters. He's a physicist, and maybe not even the best one. (Certainly, if we could see into the mind of Freeman, we might even find out he's not really that good of a person.) But it can be said that the man has style. Even while fighting against the enslavers of humanity, The Freeman can find time to trim a goatee, keep those side-burns in check, and still have time to shine up his specs. Not even Drew Carey could hope to sport military-issue BC glasses that well. Gordon's a trendsetter, but then we all knew that after everybody else copied the Gravity Gun.

Number 2: Kanji
It was hard, but I had to pick just one character out of Persona who best wore their crime-fighting Lenses of Justice. It came down to Kanji and Chie, and as much as I love Her High-Kicking Highness, I just couldn't say no to the frame-less carbon shades. They say "I'm a bad boy, but also I care way too much about what you think of me, so I make sure these look good." You know he's tough because they're tinted, but perhaps they beguile a tormented soul beneath? It's a good look Kanji, but I still have one question: how would they look when combined with his Marilyn Monroe outfit?

Number 1: Bayonetta
Screenshot from Bayonetta TGS 2008 Trailer.
Screenshot from Bayonetta TGS 2008 Trailer.

The titular heroine of Bayonetta makes more bold fashion statements than I've ever seen out of a video game character. I mean a skin-tight dress that's actually your hair that comes apart and turns into a giant dragon to crush your enemies? Wait... Did I really just say that? Bold. And when it comes down to it, the one thing that makes those high-heel pistols seem like a good idea, it's the glasses. Those fancy librarian frames with the butterfly motif are both smart, and unique: just like Bayonetta. It's obvious from the first moment she pushes them back in place with her pistol that this bespectacled beauty is at the top of her game when it comes to optical fashions.

Like any Top X List, you've probably thought of a character I'm a complete idiot for leaving off this list, so go ahead, start throwing them around. I love hearing other ideas.

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A look (listen?) at the music of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

 If there's one video game franchise that doesn't get enough recognition for it's soundtracks, it would have to be Pokemon, and as much as I would like to talk about that, I think I'll wait until Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver is closer to coming out. So instead, we'll talk about a franchise who has one of the best soundtracks period, rhythm games not withstanding: Silent Hill.

We're going to take a look at a few key tracks off the list of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, coming to Wii on Dec. 8. Overall I think this soundtrack, much like the game, is a visit to the roots of Yamaoka's work while applying all that was learned. The music ranges from his earlier works with Silent Hill 2 to his BeatMania days, which lead into his solo album iFuturelist.

The first track is "Always on My Mind" by Akira Yamaoka, featuring recurring vocalist Mary Elizabeth McGlynn. (You'll want to perhaps skip in about 40 seconds to get to the tune proper. It has an ambient opening)

This song is classic Yamaoka. It's a dark, electronic beat with a melancholy vocal laid on top. This song feels more reminiscent of his work on the iFuturelist album than the regular Silent Hill albums, which generally have physical instruments. But it definitely has that Yamaoka vibe. But those lyrics, ringing so familiar in the back of my head. A small piece of me knows exactly what they are...
That's right. Lyrics brought to you by The King, himself, Elvis Presley. Honestly, if you apply them to Harry Mason feeling like he was somewhat neglectful of Cheryl and now he's maybe lost her... well it just works.

Up next is "Blackest Friday." How timely is that?
This track isn't particularly special for any reason other than it represents, to me, that Akira Yamaoka still knows how to make a severely disquieting piece of ambient music. An educated guess would place this song at some sort of enemy encounter or maybe Silent Hill's trademark reality-flip, but I really don't want to be anywhere near the reason they would play a song like this. I'm a-scared to.

"Hell Frozen Rain" is what happens when Hell freezes over, I guess? It's also our next track!
This track is very reminiscent of Yamaoka's work on Silent Hill 4, it brings to mind "Waiting for You." Guitars, a heavy emphasis on the drums, and McGlynn's always sublime vocals tie together this track, and is that a piece of "Theme of Laura" I hear? Of course it is! That only ties this song even closer to "Waiting for You," which also sampled "Theme of Laura." I understand that this might be one of the credit tracks. Supposedly they're keeping the multiple-endings, which makes me hope that we'll see a new UFO ending. It's been far to long. (Did 0rigins have one? I never got around to finishing that...)

Another supposed credit theme, "When You're Gone," definitely brings to memory (shattered memory?) Silent Hill 2's music. This almost feels like if "Love Psalm" had lyrics. Have a listen.
Personally, this song is up there on my list of best Silent Hill songs. It feels strangely triumphant, which might be a bit counter-intuitive to the franchise, but it's still just a good song. Also something about there being the phrase "shattered memories" in the chorus kind of makes this feel like if the game were, instead, a TV series and this were it's opening song. Suck that, Twin Peaks.

The final look we'll take at the Shattered Memories OST is "Acceptance."
This track very clearly remembers "Room of Angel" from Silent Hill 4, but where "Room" was melancholy, this song is more haunting. It purposefully sounds like a music box tune gone awry, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear a music box somewhere in the game tote this song. The background piano also seems to be pushing a "Midnight Sonata" feel, but intentionally off-key for that creepy flavor.

Shattered Memories
seems to be playing a "Best of" with the series' music, sampling flavors from the core series and bringing them back home, where it all began. But with that in mind, there is an element of the original Silent HIll's soundtrack that is missing from Shattered Memories. The original Silent Hill ended with a beautiful piece "Esperandote." It remains a favorite song, even though it doesn't quite fit with the rest of the series' music. Rika Muranaka had a hand in this piece, a melancholy tune in Spanish. As the original Silent Hill left me, I will leave you with "Esperandote," and a little gift after.
  If you're still here, I would love some constructive criticism on this article. Too many videos, not enough? Are my commentaries insightful or should I skip them altogether? Love the feedback.

Fallout 3 Avatar Clothing Now Available

Maybe it has been randomly distributed to your 360's ad-space, maybe not. In either case, here's a quick look at the new Fallout 3 Avatar clothing available for your... uhm... avatars. Yeah.

So let's talk about the do's and dont's of avatar clothing design. For the most part, these are some of the better outfits. The full Vault Boy head and body is awesome and looks appropriately disturbing. The Vault Dweller one-piece is quite cool, and for authenticity sake, looks great with the fingerless gloves your avatar has available for free.
Oh look. The generic logo-shirts. Let's make those stop. They're not that classy, and it's especially odd that you put your studio logo with the games. Does that mean all Bethesda games will have that T-shirt available? If you want to advertise your studio, that's awesome, but do it on your own Game Styles like Penny Arcade did. The Vault Boy shirt isn't much better with it's generic logo placement, but at least it's a Fallout icon and not an obscure studio icon. Finally we have the 101 T-Shirt which ain't half bad. It says "I dig Fallout, but I'm not insane. That's the guy on the other end of the line. He will kill you."
Here's the list or prices for you if you're interested.
Do these avatar outfits do it for you? Are you of the mind that a couple bucks can be better spent? Is this feature a waste of my time or is it worthwhile to discuss the designs of the avatar clothing for those who are kind of into it? Love the feedback, always!

Big Daddy costume awesome, for sale on ebay

No Caption Provided

I'm always interested by cos-play. It's always cool to see people dressed as their favorite video game characters, especially if they can slide their own special something to the look to make it their own. It's an interesting creative outlet for nerds like me. But I think it's fair to say this trumps them all.

The Mother of All Big Daddy's

A handmade replica outfit of the Big Daddy from 2007's acclaimed title Bioshock. Inside are 4 working fans, the drill arm really turns, and the eyes light up to really terrify youths. This is what I'm talking about, people. This is cos-play at it's best. To paraphrase The Monarch, this isn't cos-play this is cos-business.

Which, of course, would explain why the suit is on sale at eBay. Honestly, I thought it was going to be for more.

What do you think, readers? Isn't that thing impressive? Do you have any awesome cos-play moments you would like to share, maybe even plug your own? Love to see something down below!

The Music of Left 4 Dead 2

Left 4 Dead's gameplay lends itself to spending more time running and gunning in order to escape hordes of zombies than it does allowing players to sit back and enjoy some of the finer details Valve has put into the game. One feature that might be overlooked more often than not is just how incredibly unique the games score is. Presented below are a few choice highlights from the soundtrack of Left 4 Dead 2 for you audio pleasure, and there's an added bonus. If you already own the game on Steam, or at least the demo, there are ways of obtaining these tracks by simply following these instructions:
Go into your computer directory and look up the following: The drive you put it on > program files > Steam > Steamapps > Common > Left 4 Dead 2 (or the Demo, which you can download for free and find the files there, too) > sound. And there you are, access to all the pieces. Now some of them are just small incidental bits... the stray violin pull or the exclamation of being grabbed by a smoker. But with the videos below it should be a little easier to find some of the better, more full tracks you're looking for.  
Overall the music is very familiar to anyone who played the first Left 4 Dead. The familiar tunes and themes are back, including The Monsters Within, but all with a decidedly southern coat of paint. The music is packed with more banjos and brass than the previous, making you feel like you're in a grind-house flick... which would be appropriate given the amount of gore that splatters with each kill and the film grain. The game also has a decidedly heavier rock guitar influence compared to it's predecessors reliance on electronic bass and haunting overtures.

  Dead Easy - When you start up The Parish, you might notice this little ditty playing in the background as you head for your first wave of zombies. What you're treated too is a swanky down-south style rendition of the typical Left 4 Dead theme, 
  Skin on Our Teeth - A great little guitar bit.
  Midnight Tank - This track shows well the southern rock influences on Left 4 Dead 2's soundtrack. Very B Zombie flick.
The Monsters Within - You can clearly hear the original victory music laid underneath this guitar and drum heavy piece that almost starts off like something you'd hear at a football game. It then turns into the melancholy theme that underlies a lot of Left 4 Dead's sounds.
There are plenty more songs to find, of course. This was just meant to sample some of the better ones. What really intrigues me about both Left 4 Dead's soundtracks is how their are recurring themes and motifs that keep weaving between the songs, all of which let you know that this is in fact a Left 4 Dead game. Even as it branches out into a second title, those themes and motifs continue, something that a lot of popular franchises have learned well (Mario games and Zelda games being heavily obvious with recurring pieces.)
Oh and next time you're running along The Parish and you stumble upon a Juke box, do me a favor and give it a couple of whacks. What for? I'd be GLaD to show you why:
  I think that's worth calling attention to yourself, don't you? Remember, the zombies might be dead, but you're still alive, and that's what's important.