And the gamers will rise up, and save us from the Large Hadron Collider

September 9, 2008

*prays*

Hey god. So, I know I’m not the greatest dude ever. And you know this, also. I’m no biblical Job. If you threw trials and tribulations at me, I’d be very “frakk you, god!” and run the other way. I’m all about the short, narrow road. And I recognize this. I cheat to get ahead, I occasionally lie to make things easier for me, and I never ever look both ways before I cross the street. I really just don’t take good care of myself. I’m not a good influence.

I’m really just not a good role model. I mean, I’m a good person and all that. I donate to charity when I can, I try to help people on the side of the road. One time I even blocked a bunch of traffic in a busy intersection so that a family of ducks could cross the road safely. I’m pretty respectful of the planet. Seriously, I love your work.

But now I have a favor to ask, and I’m hoping you can find room in that galaxy-sized heart of yours to grant me just this one tiny break. I may not deserve it, but it would be really cool of you to spare my life over the next few weeks.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Large Hadron Collider. Heck, I bet you’re part of one of the lawsuits against it (which I’m in complete support of). And I’m here to tell you that this machine will be the death of me.

You know my luck, god. If the planet gets covered in tiny black holes, I’m sure something terrible will happen to me. And I know… there’s only “little theoretical evidence” that the planet will be slowly eaten away from the inside out, but come on! “Little theoretical evidence” scares me. Sure, I’ve spent the majority of my life thus far preparing for an apocalypse… Fallout, Fallout 2, I’ve been studying up on Fallout 3. I’ve got a nuclear fallout covered. Half Life, Half Life 2, Episode 1 and 2, and all the spin-off games from Half Life 1 have taught me time after time what to do if an underground research-facility unleashes a terrible force upon the earth. Gordan Freeman is my hero. But I don’t want to have to be a Gordan Freeman. I don’t want to have to save the world. But if it comes to that… who is going to step up? Gamers, that’s who. We know how this shit hits the fan. We’ve got our crowbars at the ready and our HEV suits all charged up. So when/if it comes down to it, I’ll be your man. I’ll help save mankind, alongside my fellow nerds. We will fight to save this planet from the certain doom that the Hadron Collider will bring to us all.

But please… please save my life first. I can’t spend the rest of my days fighting off headcrabs and killing zombies FTW if the first thing that happens to me is I get sucked into a tiny black hole or struck by lightning or killed by radiation.

*amen*


Geometry Wars may be old, but you know you still play it

January 29, 2008

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After playing Geometry Wars for about an hour tonight, I found my thoughts drifting away from the game to escape the monotony of the first few minutes of play.

Why are these green squares after me? What did I do to them? Does my character have a back story? Actually, what the hell even is my character? Am I in space? Am I in a Geometry teacher’s nightmare?

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If Geometry Wars has you thinking about the souls of the shapes you’re blasting to hell heaven, then you’re probably looking for your next fix of Bizarre’s masterpiece everywhere you go. Have Windows Vista? Buy Geometry Wars from MSN games and play on your PC, or even take your Vista-powered laptop with you on the go.

Looking for a different Geometry Wars experience? Try Grid Wars 2, easily the most popular and arguably the best Geometry Wars clone. It’s fast, it’s pretty, and it’s free. Not close enough to the original for you? Then try Grid Assault, an almost exact recreation of GW. However, you can only play for six minutes because the creator stopped development to relieve legal pressure from Bizarre.

If you want a whole different experience, but something with familiar controls and a simple premise, check out Mono, a strikingly unoriginal game by the developers own admittance. Mono is a blend of Ikaruga’s color-swapping gameplay with GW’s destroy-everything-that-moves gameplay that has you trying to change the color of the entire game arena from white to black, or from black to white.

All three of these games are completely free, and can be played with a duel-analog controller, a la Geometry Wars. Heck, you can even play with a USB 360 controller if you want to. So try them out – give them a download and see if you like any of them better than their inspiration! You may be pleasantly surprised.


Gaming with energy, when you want something healthy

January 28, 2008

 

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It’s after midnight, but you just started the raid. You’re tired, but you know if you drink one more Red Bull, you’re going to crash and burn in an hour or so, much to the dismay of your fellow guild members. Sound familiar? Maybe you’re at a LAN party, dawn is breaking and you’re hungry again, but can’t stomach the idea of one more piece of pizza. As ridiculous as it may sound, there are better ways for gamers to get energy than eating greasy foods that play hell with controllers and keyboards, and drinking energy drinks that give us terrible caffeine headaches!

Here’s three great foods that aren’t nearly as bad for you as pizza and coke, but will work a hell of a lot better at giving you the energy you need, long after the sun’s gone down.

Fruit and Nuts

Oranges, apples, cherries, berries, kiwis and raisins – fruit has a lot of vitamin B and C. Nuts and even some fruits have a lot of fiber, and when your body is getting vitamins and fiber, your blood sugar levels stay stable and you’re able to produce energy more efficiently. Never had dried limes before? They’re delicious.

Beef Jerky

Fact: beef and chicken contain a lot of protein. This protein contains something called tyrosine, which is an amino acid that helps your brain produce all sorts of things to enhance mental function. Jerky is easy to pick up at 24-hour gas stations or supermarkets, unlike pizza. Also, mental function is commonly considered a good thing, and will keep you on top of your game. If you’re feeling particularly healthy, pick up some USDA organic jerky.

Seaweed

Ok, so it’s not the easiest snack to find, and it’s not exactly traditional here in America, but you can’t ignore the health benefits, let alone the energy boost you’ll get after snacking on some. Seaweed has a broad range of vitamins and minerals, and containts two of the B-vitamins your body uses to make energy. My favorite are these seaweed-wrapped rice crackers – crispy and delicious! And if you’re not keen on buying snacks off of the internet, try a local Asian market, they’re sure to have several varieties.


Spotlight: Passage, “A Journey Through Time”

December 14, 2007

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Whether you’re an avid gamer who spends 20 hours a week on Xbox Live or the Playstation Network, or a casual gamer who gets plenty of excitement out a good game of Bookworm, you need to play Passage.

The latest game from Jason Rohrer, Passage was designed for the Kokoromi “Gamma 256″ contest which challenges independent game developers to create small, artistic games that defy video game normalcies and stand on their own as individual artistic achievements.

In all of these ways, Passage succeeds. Lasting only 5 minutes from start to finish and being constrained to a pixel-limit of 256×256, the game can definitely make an impact on the player the first time through. However, just as it may take several trips to the art museum to finally understand the message behind a sculpture, Passage may take several trips through the game for its meaning to hit home.

The artist, Jason Rohrer, is just as interesting and inspiring as his game. He has committed much of life to living vegan and with as small of an ecological footprint as possible, all while developing several freely distributed games, fascinating essays and other writings. He lives in Potsdam, New York with his spouse and child. Please check out his full list of works here.

If you enjoy Passage, you’ll probably enjoy at least a couple of the other entries in the Gamma 256 contest, which can all be found here.


Gamefly launches music service… kind of

December 6, 2007

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Yesterday Gamefly launched its new music service creatively named “Gamefly Tunes”. Gamefly subscribers now have access to an overwhelming selection of five pre-selected, DRM-free tracks to legally download each month for no extra fees other than their normal monthly bill. Non-subscribers aren’t left out completely, being able to download one of the songs for free. The first “track of the month” is the song “Get It” by RJD2, and the Gamefly Tunes VIP members lounge currently offers the remaining four tracks by OK Go, Little Brother, Shadows Fall, and Thievery Corporation.

While it’s nice to see Gamefly offering some added value to their paying customer’s subscriptions, I can’t help but think they could be putting the effort into working on current problems with the whole game-renting service. It never fails to aggravate me when I have a game in my game queue for a week or so, only to be shipped the third game on the list once they receive the title I sent in last.

With so many fantastic titles released over the last couple of months, Gamefly is the perfect service to be able to play all of the games I didn’t have time or money to spend on when they came out. However, with my queue so jammed with “low availability” and “medium availability” notices, it’s getting harder and harder to stomach the $22.99 per month.

Here’s hoping the next email Gamefly sends out to its subscribers is to inform them of a new shipment center for faster turnaround times, or a significant boost in the number of copies of new releases they have available for rent.

 


Fall Dashboard Update impressions

December 4, 2007

2007 Fall Dashboard Update

Today Microsoft’s anticipated 2007 Fall Dashboard Update was sent out to appreciative gamers all over the world. Here’s a quick rundown of the key features:

Xbox Originals

Easily the most publicized feature and announced back on November 13th, now Xbox Live users can buy and download full Xbox games to store on their hard drive for the not-so-low price of $15 (1200 MS Points). The games are direct ports and do not have any enhancements whatsoever, but some users will appreciate the convenience of not having to switch discs, and it also provides an easy way for budding and relatively new gamers to experience some classics from the previous generation of gaming. Stateside launch titles are Halo, Fuzion Frenzy, Psychonauts, Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex, Fable, and Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge.

Enhanced Parental Controls

Parents are now able to control exactly how much time household members are logging on the 360. Controllable in 15-minute increments, the amount of time allotted can be on a daily or weekly basis.

Social Networking

Xbox Live members are now able to expand their personal profile by entering bio information, which can be visible to only registered friends or all of Xbox Live. Also, new “Friends of Friends” features lets you look at the friends (you guessed it) of your friends. This can be disabled under system settings or on Xbox.com.

While these are all great new addictions to the system’s already robust feature-set, it’s two of the lesser-known features that are going to be the ones people will be appreciating the most as the hype dies down. First up, there’s the long-awaited option to change the Windows Live ID that your account is associated with. There aren’t really any consequences to changing your ID – your Microsoft Points follow you to your new ID! This is an extremely welcome update for anyone who uses the messenger functionality, or for anyone who had to drag out their five-year-old email address while setting up Xbox Live for the first time, and has since created a new Live ID for chatting. It should be noted, though, that this option should have been supported from the start.

Lastly, the 360 now has expanded video codec support including Divx and Xvid. While this comes off as gibberish for some, it’s probably the best news torrent junkies have heard in months. AVI files can now be played directly from an external memory supply, or streamed from a compatible networked PC.

A few other notable additions to the dashboard include the “Inside Xbox” RSS feed which although is not as annoying as the PS3’s ticker, is so far equally useless. Xbox Live Arcade now has Arcade “Hits” not unlike retail games’ Platinum Hits – five of Live Arcade’s best sellers are reduced in price by around $5.

While the Xbox Originals will appeal to a select few, most will probably either already own the games or recognize that you can find them in a local bargain bin or online for significantly cheaper than buying them over Live. Bring in the fact that almost all of the titles have known issues and can cause your entire console to crash and have to be restarted, I think you’re better off buying these classics in disc format for the time being. Besides, why pay $15 for Crimson Skies when less than 10 buys you the disk, case, and all original artwork?

All things considered, Microsoft didn’t leave much out. It’s a jam-packed update that doesn’t leave much to be desired; virtual-console-like game downloads, actually useful video playback capabilities, and extended capabilities of the already user-friendly Live networking. It makes you wonder – what will be in demand for next year’s Fall Update?


First post FTW!

December 1, 2007

Welcome to itsnotanaddiction.com! In the near future, this website will be home to many rants, raves and reviews of anything related closely enough to video games to be worth posting. Some of it will be timely, but I imagine the most regular postings will be thoughts on video games, video game consoles and their accessories that have been buried in most people’s closets or garages by now. That’s not necessarily because of a lack of other things to write about, but it also does not make this a nostalgic or old-school haven for strictly classics. I just personally feel that websites like joystiq.com already cover the news so very, very, very well that I don’t need to be copying their every move.

With this site, I’d like to bring something new to the world of video game journalism. I’d like to provide a dependable page with regular updates that can show readers a new side of a story, or a second opinion on that bargain-bin game they’ve passed over the last couple of times they were at GameStop because of that one bad review they read on it. I also want to point you in the direction of some older gems that you can still find on Ebay or Amazon for just a few bucks that are still well worth your time.

Check back regularly for updates, and if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send them to me in an email at dustin@itsnotanaddiction.com – they may end up on the site.