E3 2013: It’s Not About Being Good; It’s About Being Better Than the Other Guys


We’ve seen the Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo pre-E3 press conferences (well, as close as we’ll get from Nintendo…), and they’ve been kind of all over the place. Let’s get some reactions from ME! (That’s why you’re at my blog, right?) Continue reading

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Deathmatch: Pinball FX2 Vs. Pinball Arcade


Sometimes, people really love sports games. And sometimes, those people are mocked. “Why don’t you just go play the real sport outside?” I’ll tell you why. Because playing football in real life gets your bones broken. And football players are big and scary and occasionally serial killers. Plus, running is hard.

The same stigma exists with music games (even after Rocksmith, which uses a REAL GUITAR). “Why don’t you just learn to play a real instrument?” The “instruments are expensive” excuse hasn’t been valid since the $250 Rock Band Special Edition, but “instruments are hard to learn” and “I’ll never be this famous in real life” are still valid arguments. Most of us will never get the rush of performing in front of an entire room of people there just for you. Most people can’t play the “Freebird” solo, and never will. But having the rock star feeling, and having fun with a bunch of friends in your digital band? People can do that.

My thing right now is pinball video games. You have to remember, a game of pinball costs a whole quarter (sometimes more!), and the nearest machine is waaaaaaayyyyyyy over there. —–> The neat thing about pinball games is that we’ve come a long way since the days of Pinball on the NES. The physics are spot-on now, a new table is just a few bucks, and you can even bring it on the go. But the quality… varies. Continue reading

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E3 2013… The End of an Era?

This is last year's show but whatever.

This will be my third E3 and a terrific reason to reboot this blog I’ve been shirking. (In fairness, I’ve been shirking it because I’m teaching myself C# programming so I can make games of my own.) The first two Electronic Entertainment Expos were work, work, and more work for next to no pay, and they were a blast. In both instances, my love of video games was rekindled at a time in my life where I feared it might be extinguished forever (seeing the big-screen debuts of both Skyrim and BioShock Infinite within two hours will do that to you). This year will be different. The consoles are different. The atmosphere of the industry is different. And the games… well, those are pretty much the same.

And that’s kind of the problem. Continue reading

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Review: LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins (3DS)


The game most comparable to LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins (the 3DS prequel to the Wii U’s LEGO City Undercover) is probably Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories on the PSP. Both offer portable takes on their more fully featured console brother. Both offer open-world experiences that had, up until that point, been unattempted on their respective handhelds. Both offer an approximation of the full experience that check all the boxes. You know, like the Guitar Hero game on the DS. It’s just like playing a fun game.

Technically, on paper, both The Chase Begins and Liberty City Stories should be perfect handheld versions of these huge, expansive, incredible console games. But both fall short, and miss out on the “magic” that made the home versions so memorable. Simply, if you had only played the 3DS version of LEGO City Undercover, I don’t think you’d really “get” what makes the Wii U game one of my favorite games of all time. And even though they’re technically different games (in the most literal sense of the word) and follow undercover cop Chase McCain through an earlier part of his police career, they’re set in the same world and you’ll do many (read: all) of the same things. But it’s just… not quite as fun. And that’s without even mentioning up the pop-in, the fog, or the lack of a turbo button and things to discover on bridges. Continue reading

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A Super Mario World Story


My first Super Mario World experience was in second grade, when I was about seven years old. My family had moved into a small two bedroom apartment in Layton, Utah, while we waited for a space in military housing to open up. It’s weird, the things our minds choose to remember from that age.

I remember playing checkers with the Hispanic mother that lived below us. Her kids were too young to play with me, and other games were too complicated for me to understand. I remember an older guy, Ron, that lived in the next block of apartments over. He worked with my dad and had some medical condition I never noticed or understood. He also had a dartboard and a car so small that I could move it just by leaning on it while it sat in its parking space. I put more than a few holes in his wall. Sorry about your security deposit, Ron. That’s what happens when you let second graders play darts in your apartment. Continue reading


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Arkham City’s Batman Is Too Grumpy

Grrr I'm mad!

Batman: Arkham City is a game that I finally got around to playing and – a few days after starting – beating. I kinda loved it. There was a ton to do even outside the main storyline, the Rogue Gallery was out in full force, and you got to play around with all those funky bat-gadgets. Sure, there were some control niggles and just figuring out how to get out of the sewers took me over half an hour, but overall… would recommend. A-.

There’s one thing I can’t get over, though. Batman, the hero/protagonist/good guy of our tale, is the GRUMPIEST cat this side of Grumpy Cat (who actually appears quite happy when still shots aren’t taken out of context). The one time he tells a joke (after being saved by Catwoman) was something like, “Thanks. I think I broke a nail back there,” and it was delivered with more acid than many of the harshest insults I’ve ever heard. Luckily, Catwoman quickly shuts that down: “Leave the one-liners to me.” So maybe it’s not that Batman doesn’t have a sense of humor, it’s just that his sidekicks won’t let him have a sense of humor…? Continue reading


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LEGO City Undercover – A Review in Three Intros

Wait'll you PLAY it.

While reading a pile of BioShock Infinite reviews so I, in turn, could review them, I realized something: once you get past the intro, so many reviews devolve into saying the same thing about a particular game in a slightly different way. It’s the introductions where the writing shines most clearly, because – underneath it all – aren’t we game writers just trying to hook you, to get you to keep reading, to make you come back and read more again soon? I know I am. I should probably update more than twice a month. That might help.

To make it up to you, here’s something unique: a LEGO City Undercover review in the form of three different review intros, all taking a different approach to telling you that you should go buy this game immediately. Maybe I just couldn’t figure out a middle or an end and just kept coming up with beginnings. You’ll never know. Enjoy. Continue reading

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