Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

I mentioned this in my Monday MUpdate, but unfortunately my Monday MUpdate's tend to be long and full of (sometimes) incoherent ranting, so I'm never offended when people admit they don't bother to read it. However, this bit of news is news that I find entirely relevant and worth it's own post in order to announce it, so I will do so:

On July 15th, the Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition will come to XBOX Live! and Steam (on the PC) for only 10 dollars (or 800mp).

With the new Tales Of Monkey Island games coming exclusively to PC and Wii (of which I have formally stated time and time again that I refuse to ever buy), I'll miss out on all the new adventures of Guybrush Threepwood, a pirate who puts Captain Jack Sparrow to shame. It's in that fact that I am ten times more excited to be able to get this game for as little as $10 and be given a new way to enjoy an all time favorite. This game utilizes the exact same script as the first one, but now features full voice casting, a rerecorded soundtrack, and a virtual makeover. I personally am very excited over all of that, but I feel that since I am the resident cynic of BGE, I should note the downsides to all of this. It's great that they are using the original script, and I can see nothing wrong with that, but obviously when re-doing some of the other parts you lose a little bit of the original charm. There will be no more bleeps and bloops but now fully recorded strings by some professional orchestra. Guybrush's 8-bit antics will now be brought more to life, but does that neccesarily make it better? We know for a fact that there is a market for classic games in their original format as we've seen games on Live! such as Doom, Mortal Kombat 3, and even the brand new Mega Man 9 was produced to represent the original style. However, as an advocate for this game, I fully endorse what they've done despite my natural cynical nature. Sure, I may have small complaints about what the character models look like, but on the other hand, the whole point of this remake was to give it a new look, and while obviously not all remakes are worth while (Bionic Commando, anyone?), it's an obvious risk to take when bringing something like this to a new market.

Monkey Island, to me, is the absolute definition of classic gaming. I've played this games so many different times throughout my various stages of youth that the events in this game are somewhat branded in my mind. The three sequels I'll admit to only ever playing once, but the first one was something that I found had endless replayability, especially because after a year or two of not playing it I'd forget how to solve all the puzzles and it would in turn become hard again. Games that make you really sit down and think and take notes are a definitive thing of the past, replaced with glitzy and hi-def animated action games that are very capable with the presentation but lack substance. Monkey Island is not as flashy as modern games, but I feel that the things most missing in modern gaming are adventure games like this. Sure, we have all the games that Tell Tale provides, but those aren't all accessible on consoles. I'll never get the opportunity to play the Bone games because I own a Mac, and that's unfortunate. However, with what little consolation I'm given, I feel that I need to make the best of it.

So while I myself will not be able to purchase Monkey Island the day of (if only due to monetary constraints), I most certainly highly recommend this game to any and all. If you liked Sam And Max Save The World, this game is right up your alley. If you are tired of the humdrum stereotypical run around and shoot things type of game, this is right up your alley. If you're just looking for a great game with LOADS of laughs (we're talking legitimate r.o.t.f.l.y.f.a.o. funny here), then go ahead and grab Monkey Island. What do you have to lose? $10? You can get that back easily. So go on, get it. I'll be here. We can discuss it afterwards, possibly over a nice coffee or something. You can drink the coffee, I'll just sit there. I can't drink coffee. It puts me to sleep. There's something weird in my brain with that. But I love talking, and I love talking about Monkey Island, so you go get the game, I'll go grab you a coffee, and we can sing the theme song in harmony in our local Starbucks for the rest of the evening. Deal? Deal.


Video Games and Advertising: The Doritos Effect

You may or may not know this but I consider myself a fan of advertising and marketing. I want to share that interest with you every so often by letting you in on what goes on in my head when I approach in-game advertising, advergames and just standard advertising fodder on websites and in magazines.

Today I wanted to talk about 'The Doritos Effect'.

If you are a gamer in this day and age chances are you have run into some sort of Doritos advertising in your games, game videos, print ads, etc. The Doritos advertisements have been so numerous as of late that I has had me thinking that the guys and gals over at Frito Lay might be trying to make Doritos the official chip of gamers. Personally I am all for this seeing as I love Doritos but for some it may be possible that these advertisements can be seen as insulting? Can this be seen as a stereotype that all gamers prefer fatty, cheesy snacks or are in fact fat already and that because of these ads they will not be able to restrain themselves and will be coerced into buying just one more bag of Doritos. Okay, so maybe I am taking this a little far but I digress that we are talking about people on the internet here.

A form of Doritos advertising has been sprouting up everywhere in the realm of video games. In a progression from normal to full blown advertising extravaganza these are the particular ones that I have noticed:

  1. Advertising before Inside Xbox videos on Xbox LIVE (the standard for web video, etc.)
  2. Advertising in Ghostbusters: The Video Game (becoming the standard for racing games, etc.)
  3. The advergame Dash of Destruction, available FREE on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace (perhaps a still untapped realm of advertising that most companies do not care to invest in (ie too pricey))
The advertisements before the Inside Xbox videos are accepted as normal and probably would never have phased you if I had never mentioned them. The average web video is synonomous with advertising and the average person who surfs the internet is probably fairly good at tuning the ads out.

The advertising in Ghostbusters was clever but was only placed (that I noticed) in the first two levels. In the hotel level there were 1991 style Doritos vending machines and what I mean by 1991 style is that is how the bags were designed back then. There was also a crashed Doritos truck at the very beginning of the Times Square level (I felt that if I shot it Doritos should come pouring out; Doritos did not in fact pour out).

Lastly you have the Ninja Bee designed Dash of Destruction Doritos advergame that was quite charming in the way that it told you that its reason for existing was to give you easy Gamerscore. I am proud to say that I own all 200 points for that 20 minutes worth of Nacho Cheesy (see what I did there) gameplay.

In the end what I am trying to say is that Doritos have their act together when it comes to advertising and none of it has ruined my gaming experiences. I am always interested in the world of advertising and if I had never been aware of Doritos in my life before (how would that even be possible; what kind of rock would that be?) I would most certainly be aware now.

Dangerously cheesy (whoops, wrong product).

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I Discovered THE GUILD

Last night while browsing some Dr. Horrible interviews I came across one with Felicia Day. She was talking about her web series, The Guild and it was then that I finally decided I was going to sit down and watch it.

I am so very glad that I did because I watched the entire first season in one sitting and I am going back for round two (season 2) today. I am glad I caught this before the third season so that I can watch it with anticipation like the rest of the world internet.

After I started watching I sent Felicia a tweet saying how much I loved the show... and she responded. I geeked out, obviously.

So yeah, go watch The Guild, it is highly recommended.

In addition, the reason it took me so long to watch the show - because I had known about it since the season two partnership with Microsoft - is because I thought it was a cartoon and I did not think that I would enjoy it. I was wrong on many fronts (not a cartoon and I enjoy it) so once again, go watch it.

I know that you are really lazy so here is the first episode of the first season. If that is not enough then you do not deserve to be watching it. Really though, why are you still reading this.

Nice, right?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Game Diary: July 6, 2009: Firecrack This! Edition

For the past week or so I have been addicted to the multiplayer of Ghostbusters. It is the same bustin' action that the main campaign gives you but with friends (and you can play as the main cast). Alas, the levels are only scenarios pulled from the main game, assets and all, but it is still quite delightful in its simplicity. Perhaps this is how more companies need to do things when they develop a multiplayer portion to their game. If you do not know what exactly I am talking about let me enlighten you. Terminal Reality did not develop the multiplayer, Three Wave did. I think by devoting a team to doing multiplayer exclusively they were able to have a lag free multiplayer environment that extends the legs of the game as opposed to a game like The Darkness (random, I know, but it was the first decent game with this problem that came to mind) whose muliplayer ideas worked on paper but since they did not have proper QA (quality assurance) it ended up being unplayable because of the lag.

Other than that, I played some Scene It! BOS (Box Office Smash) with friends that visited over the weekend. Since my wife was not playing I actually won! My wife decimates me when we play and since I am such a bad sport about it she refuses to play with me.

That is about it for what I have been playing although I was on another podcast this past weekend and if you want to hear our thoughts on mail ladies, Project Natal, and what extends the legs of a game you should go listen to that here.

I am also installing Fable II to the hard drive as I finish up this post so be prepared to hear all about that.

Monday MUpdate: Bay freaking windows, man!

Alas, poor XBOX. I knew it, Nathaniel: a console of infinite capabilities, of most excellent fancy: it hath borne me on it's back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at it. Here hung those USB ports that I have plugged into I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of red lights, that were wont to set the internet on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own sitting? quite chap-fallen? Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, let her gain an achievement, to this favour she must come; make her play with that. Prithee, Nathaniel, tell me one thing.


I played videogames very sparingly this weekend due to, of course, an excess amount of other things to do. To my chagrin, I still have not beaten Sam and Max, although I am at the very end of the game. I just need to pick an hour or two to dedicate to the destruction of the moon (I think). It's hard to play that game's episodes over several nights because sometimes you lose track of the puzzles you need to solve. It's always best to just start from the top and go until you finish. Keeps your mind fresh and focused on the goal at hand. I popped in Bioshock for a spell because I'd been reading about the sequel and all the cool things the press are getting (that we aren't... ahem). The opening of that game still serves as one of the coolest openings of a next-gen game. I played up to the first point of death on Hard and then put it back, though. Finally, I popped in Fallout 3 and got my 100 ingots. I had been at about 60something and I searched for about two hours before finally getting those last damn two. Believe me, they are in obscure locations that without being ridiculously clever with your jumping, you'd never think to go to. I wish the achievement for it was worth more, but now I can finally finish the Pitt and go on to Broken Steel and Point Lookout. Of course, as soon as I got that last ingot and the achievement, I turned the system off, but that's beside the point. Much to Nate's inevitable disappointment in me, however, I did not put Mass Effect on once.

In other good news, while out and about I finally stopped by Game Stop and reserved my copy of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2. This and Assassin's Creed 2 look to be the last two games I will buy this year, despite all of the games I want to play due to monetary restrictions. I'm considering opening up a Game Fly account though, so we'll see. I also tried to rent Ghostbusters due to Nate's constant ranting and raving about it and my rewatching of Ghostbusters I during chores on Saturday morning, but Blockbuster was all out so I continue to be out of the loop on that one. I don't feel as if I'm missing all that much on it, but then again I'm the resident skeptic who tends to look towards the more obvious flaws sometimes (as I've been noted on doing with the Batman game). I'll give it a spin eventually, though... probably some rainy day when no one is home but me and my cats and the apartment is filled with the sound of lonely.

I also played the Wii for a good amount of time this weekend. I went to my friend Brandon's house on July 4th and, instead of doing anything related to the holiday considering how devoid of meaning it is to us (not that we're un-American or anything, we just don't care) we played videogames. Originally we pulled out the XBOX 360, but as we learned, his XBOX has a terrible condition called "I don't know that your 360 disc is a 360 disc and not a DVD"-itis. Since the cure for this condition required more work then we were willing to give it, I suggested we just play Wii Sports to pass the time. Now, I'm a very adamant Wii antagonizer and I will fully admit right off the bat that I think it's a stupid system, a waste of money, and I would never degrade myself so much as to actually purchase one. Ever. With that said, I did have some sort of fun. It could be the ridiculousness of me and my friends jumping up and down, or the fact that my avatar was the recently deceased Billy Mays, but it was enjoyable. We bowled, we played golf (the most evil thing in the world), and I took two people on at the same time in tennis. It was fun to get up and jump around like idiots, hit our hands on the ceiling and trip over each other like a bunch of drunk buffoons, even though the heaviest drink any of us was drinking at the time was pure water. I still hold to the fact that I think the Wii is a dumb console, but I can't deny that I didn't have fun. However, I think that it's not really the Wii's fault for that. Getting together in a group of friends where you're all hopping up and down and shouting is fun in any situation. Hell, we could've been playing EXTREEEEEEME Trivial Pursuit on a bootlegged and modded Atari. It's more the excuse to get around with your friends and behave idiotically (as opposed to...) that creates the fun. The Wii is simply a facilitator to this. Besides, the Wii makes horrible jokes way too soon.

So all in all, I'd say the weekend ended up with more videogames than I initially expected. More videogames than usual, that's for certain. And quite genre-defying for myself, if I do say so.

I also picked up two quick bits of videogame news relevant to myself, but also anyone with as impeccable taste as me:

Number The First: Marvel vs Capcom 2, which was "supposed" to be out by now, is due out at the end of July. If we're lucky, it'll be out around July 21st, and then I can play it off as my gift to the huddled masses (considering July 21st is one of the few holidays I actually celebrate). Most likely, though, we're looking at July 28th for a release date. On the plus side, everything comes pre-unlocked in it, so all you have to do is pay your $15-20 and go play.

Number The Second: While the new Tales of Monkey Island is not coming to the XBOX 360 anytime soon (damn you, Telltale Games!), a remastered "special edition" of The Secret of Monkey Island is! I didn't even know they were remaking the game! Boy howdy. The Secret Of Monkey Island is an absolute classic in adventure gaming and one of the firs games I ever played, although definitely not the first game I was ever able to beat (that didn't happen until two years ago, for shame). It's a highly recommended pirate romp filled with hilarity, insult sword fighting, and ghost pirates. If you have the money to spare and you've never played the game, I'd highly suggest you get this game when it comes out. Lord knows we need more like it.

That's about it for me. The only things I can really recommend at this point are breadbowls, bruschetta, and bay windows - the perfect combination for any day.