The Top 10 Sickest Cross Branded Vehiciles Ever!

If there’s one thing I can’t get enough of, it’s brands! My favorite brands are everywhere, all over my favorite products and experiences. But what if, like a GameFAQs poll, we could combine our favorite brands and make a sort of super branding experience where we wantonly crossed our favorite verticals and knocked that RFP outta the park?? Well dream no longer, cuz these 10 cars managed to cross hella disparate brands together like it wasn’t a big deal at all!

10. Plymouth Voyager Nautica Edition
Natuica Villager Nautica interior
1994 mercury villager nautica int - Copy

9. Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer Edition

2004-ford-explorer-eddie-bauer - Copy

8. Subaru outback L.L. Bean Edition

badgeofownership32 - Copy

7. Fiat 500 Gucci Edition
2012-fiat-500_100341831_l - Copy

Fiat-500-Gucci-Coupe-Image-02 Fiat-500-Gucci-Coupe-Image-i01-1680 - Copy fiat-500-gucci-edition-photo-388752-s-1280x782

6. Ford f-150 Harley Davidsion Edition
2012-ford-f-150-supercrew-harley-davidson-edition-rear-view-in-motion - Copy

harley ford

5. Jeep Wrangler Call of Duty Edition
2011-naias-jeep-wrangler-call-of-duty-black-ops-edition-live-photos_16 - Copy

4. Toyota Echo Roxy Edition
01 echo + 94 olds + LF jeep 014 - Copy
2001-Toyota-Roxy-ECHO - Copy

3. AMC Pacer X Levi’s Edition
amc-gremlin-x-levis-01 - Copy
amc-gremlin-x-levis-09 - Copy


Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Review


Sundowner: “Heh, you’re wrong Raiden, the weak are meant to be prey for the strong! It’s the primal law, Survival of the Fittest! RAHHHHH!”

*Sundowner leaps towards Raiden, drawing his new weapons, dual battleaxes with two heads made of lasers. Everything turns dark as a murder of cybernetic crows appears from behind Sundowner. Raiden waves his sword around killing dozens of robotic crows creating a cloud of gears and feathers. Their weapons clash and the impact is enough to drive Raiden through the core of the Earth and out the other side. They emerge in Australia. Raiden is inexplicably wearing a Crocodile Dundee outfit with a floppy folded leather hat, croc tooth necklace, and leather vest*

Raiden: “No, you’re wrong, I am strong, but it is my job to protect the weak from the bad strongs, which you are one of. A Bad Strong, that is.”

*They charge each other again and as they clash, everything goes into slow motion. The camera pans around them then focuses on a kangaroo throwing a boomerang at a koala bear*

Raiden: “I won’t let you or the patriots exploit the robot children brains any more. I will find them good jobs so they can grow up happy. Maybe they can get good jobs at Wet Seal, I don’t know.”

*Sundowner starts doing cartwheels so fast that a huge tornado happens and Raiden gets caught up in it. They rocket into space*

Sundowner: “Ha! You’ve played right into our trap Raiden, all the board members of Wet Seal are also members of the LaLiLuLeLo!”

Raiden: “No! It can’t be! They have a super cute crop top I really wanted to get for Sunny!”

*Raiden turns into Jack the Ripper*

Jack the Ripper Raiden: “Fuck you man, you fucked up, time to die fucker!”

*Doktor calls on Codec*

Doktor: “Raiden! You’re both in space, you have no way of controlling your bodies there! It looks like you’re doomed to float forever caught in an embarrassingly juvenile conversation about dumb conspiracy theories, reductive politics, and community college philosophy forever with a trite anime villain!”

Jack the Ripper Raiden: “Fuck you fucker!”

*Both Raiden and Sundowner float helplessly through space forever*

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Late-ass 2013 Video Games That I Enjoyed Listicle thing [EXCLUSIVE]

I’ve always felt slight to major irritation at having to crank out year-end lists for two reasons:

1. My backlog is almost always deepest at the end of the year given that 80% of GOTY material is shat out in Nov/Dec, which ensures I’ll find 10 things to add to the list by January.
2. I’m a lazy asshole who likes having lots of excuses.

But without further ado here’s a list in no particular order of the shit I dug in 2013.

1. Papers, Please


Lucas Pope has proved once again that graphics don’t mean shit, and gamers won’t spontaneously combust when denied a happy ending. The grimy, greyscale, pixelated hellscape of Arstotzka was one of the most compelling game worlds available in 2013, immediately enveloping you in the life of a border agent stuck in a hopeless totalitarian nightmare. The game captured the sinister nature of bureaucracy perfectly; once you’ve been crushed under the mindless drudgery of day to day existence, committing truly evil acts is all in a day’s work.

2. The Wonderful 101


The Wonderful 101 was one of the strongest offerings in an already extremely strong year for Nintendo. To be fair, I’m a Platinum fanboy, but this game deserved way more praise than it got. The cast of the game and its localization is supremely charming and funny, embracing the inherent cheesiness of the Tokusatsu genre with open arms. The gameplay is classic Platinum, allowing thoughtful button mashers to just barely squeak by, but lavishly rewarding dedicated players willing to sink their teeth into the combat system. The Gamepad touch controls are also nowhere near as inaccurate or frustrating as some reviews made them out to be. Also kudos to whoever decided to release this the Sunday before GTAV.

3. Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies


While the Phoenix Wright games aren’t revolutionary ventures in game design, they’re excellently localized, funny, and manage to stay surprising enough to keep me coming back for more. Dual Destinies adds Athena Cykes and her Mood Matrix device, a new little gameplay feature that helps you pick out emotional inconsistencies in testimony. Athena is an awesome addition to the series and one of my favorite new characters of 2013, a fierce, headstrong go-getter with a slick design. She makes a great counterpoint to the more reserved Apollo and Phoenix.

4. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon


Blood Dragon is such an anomaly in this industry I can’t do anything but love it. It’s stand-alone DLC, it has fun with a serious AAA property, it’s actually funny, it’s fairly priced, the list of things it does right is vast. It’s also one of the most heartfelt love letters to the bygone era of Cannon Films and other over the top 80s Action films (including Over the Top) I’ve ever seen, I mean their credits music is a song from Miami Connection for chrissakes. While it may feel like the world’s most elaborate mod, I’m totally fine with that. Studios should be rewarded for having more fun with their properties, and I love seeing people make less self-serious games with AAA engines.

5. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate / Soul Sacrifice 


I’m including both of these as a single entry since I’ll never finish either, and they both scratch the same itch. After much cajoling from two of my friends (guess which two), I picked up MH3U. Like most of the Western World, I had virtually no interest in this franchise, seeing it as a massive time sink that looked like a semi-offline action MMORPG. None of those assumptions proved inaccurate, but after the rocky honeymoon (this game takes a painfully long time to get you up to speed and actually hunting large monsters), I found myself hooked. Hunting the large monsters is a knock-down, drag- out test of endurance, as you chase and track them from point to point on the map, hoping they go down before you run out of supplies. It’s almost like it’s a hunting game! MH3U game really opens up when you start playing with other people, quite literally. Entire quest lines that would take hours and hours to get to are available when you play with other people, and it greatly accelerates the enjoyment of the game. Add to that the new level of strategy that emerges from each player assuming a role, tank, healer etc. during a big hunt, and it gets even better.


A few months later I got my hands on Soul Sacrifice, a game designed by Kenji Inafune in one of the more blatant games industry fuck-yous I’ve seen in a while. This thing basically plays like a re-skinned Monster Hunter, and as a Vita exclusive, was clearly trying to slice into the hunk of the market desperate for a Monster Hunter game on Vita. This dickwaving is funny because it’s pretty much entirely contained within the Japanese market and grandly exhibits the total disregard for the rest of the planet Japan is famous for. Anyways, I’m an emo/goth at my core and Soul Sacrifice’s absurdly gonzo dark fantasy design really rekindled my Demon’s/Dark Souls fanboy. Get it? Kindled? I found Soul Sacrifice to be a more rewarding game to play solo than MH3U, and I actually enjoyed its comically angsty story and jumbled up narrative.

6. DMC


As with all Capcom products these days, the online conversation surrounding it was immediately put into a headlock by grognards who hate Capcom but still purchase and play everything they release. Fortunately DMC turned out to be a quality effort and one of the rare Capcom collaborations with the West that didn’t shit the bed. Ninja Theory’s visual reboot for the series is excellent, and several of the level designs, specifically the club and the News Broadcast portion, are extremely creative and fun. While the gameplay may be technically less complicated than previous games, that’s not always a bad thing; it still controls wonderfully and allows enough creativity to easily justify 2-3 playthroughs. That may be less than the 10-15 playthroughs previous games offered, but if you’re the kind of person that played through DMC3 15 times, you certainly already hate me for liking this game and have already closed the tab.

7. Rogue Legacy


I don’t remember why I bought this, I think it was a Steam sale? But I got it shortly after it came out when the hype was sort of low. I think my main reason for purchasing it was the character’s jaunty as fuck running animation and the gimmick that my character could have IBS. Anyway, I chose wisely, as Yoda once said, cause this game was awesome. The pitch is that you’re trying to avenge your Mom/Dad who died before you trying to avenge their Mom/Dad, so it’s basically an endless cycle of revenge where, when you die, you play as your son/daughter, who has a randomized set of traits. Some are totally cosmetic, like the aforementioned IBS, but others can subtly change how you play, like giagantism, increased hitboxes all around, or colorblindness, which can make it hard to detect projectiles. It’s essentially a 2-D action game with RPG elements tacked on, but the controls are just wonderful, and everything feels right.

8. Gone Home


Smarter people than me have written better pieces than I could about why Gone Home is important and essential, but all that aside, I really enjoyed the experience and it stuck with me. If you’ve ever spent an afternoon rifling through your attic looking at the old drawings and crafts projects you made as a kid, just remembering, Gone Home will provide a similar unique feeling.

9. The Swapper


Another last minute Steam Winter Sale purchase, The Swapper was a big surprise for me. A 2-D, sci-fi puzzle/platformer game, The Swapper puts you in the space boots of a guy investigating a derelict space station who quickly encounters a special gun that allows him to make copies of himself. If you ever played the 2-D demake of Portal, it’s not entirely unlike that, though the game’s mood, music, and themes are much, much darker, as you’re basically continuously transferring your soul/consciousness between an endless number of clones who frequently sacrifice themselves for the sake of whatever puzzle you happen to be noodling out. The sickening crunch of one of your clones breaking its legs/neck after falling down a shaft never gets not creepy. The game also features an almost perfect difficulty curve, with each puzzle being just good enough to stump you for the right amount of time before the “A-Ha!” moment happens.

10. Divekick


Easily the best fighting game of the year, Divekick basically boils down everything that makes a fighting game fun into a super condensed stock and seasons it with a liberal dose of FGC in-jokes. Created by SRK guru Adam ‘Keits’ Heart, Divekick is a two button, one hit kill fighting game where players are incapable of any horizontal movement without jumping. This may sound crazy, but it’s incredibly intuitive once you play it. In fact, this game drew in people from all over my office to play because the barrier of entry was so low. Don’t read that as the game being dumb though, there’s a bunch of tactics to be plumbed from the various characters, each with their own moveset and special abilities. It’s tense, it’s smart, it’s fun, it’s silly, and it should be mandatory for anyone interested in fighting game design.

11. Kentucky Route Zero


Answer the following question:

Do you appreciate that poetry is a thing? Yes/No

No: Don’t play this game

Yes: Play this game

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Dota 2’s Dipshit Diretide Debacle

Once again, the gaming community has risen to the task of confirming everyone’s prejudices against them. While the term, much like sports fan, or bread enthusiast, doesn’t necessarily imply a certain age demographic, everyone assumes tween and teen when they hear it. While this is statistically inaccurate (in 2013 the average age of the game consumer was 30), their opinion is based on how they see the community at large representing itself. And in that regard, it makes sense why everyone assumes gamers are exclusively petulant 13 year old Anonymous wannabes who throw fits at every turn, eat junk food, and subscribe to the 4Chan school of humor (Post something Nazi related for instant lulz! Such offensive, so random, wow.)

This latest tirade stems from the “Give Diretide” debacle that recently took place. Summary: DOTA 2 players were mad that Valve didn’t release new content for Halloween as they have done in years past, so irate players took to the internet spamming copypasta at Volvo (it sort of sounds like Valve! lulz!) and President Obama’s FB page (he’s the president! lulz!) in addition to directly harassing Dota 2 community manager Matthew Bailey once his phone number was publicly posted.

You see, it’s this kind of shit that make me so paranoid about posting shit anywhere on the net. I’m just as wary of the NSA as I am of some maladjusted 13 year old with too much time on his hands digging up my personal info. To be honest, because I work close to the games industry, I’m far more convinced I’m likely to be attacked by some nerdraged dipshit than ever be bothered by the NSA.

Unfortunately, Valve caved to their collective temper tantrum, announcing that they’d launch the Diretide update a good 2 weeks after Halloween to appease these frothing at the mouth idiots. Valve explained why they didn’t announce that the Halloween event wasn’t happening by saying: “You were already mad and disappointed in the lack of Diretide. Telling you that you weren’t getting it at all wouldn’t have really helped much.” Even Valve knows they’re dealing with entitled children who can’t be expected to act like adults when presented with bad news.

Ultimately, the update was delayed because the team was busy working on another major update that they had decided to prioritize. So the crux of the issue? DOTA 2 players pitch a fit for not getting free content because the team was busy working on other free content for them. While you can make the argument that the whole F2P thing undermines the idea of “free content”, it’s still work from the Dota 2 team that players get for free that they’re not obligated to pay for. I’d also let you argue that the whole thing stemmed from a lack of communication on Valve’s part, but none of that undermines the fact that, once again, the gaming community has adopted the tactics of a 4 year old in a supermarket whose parents wouldn’t get him candy; by lying down on the floor and kicking and screaming until they caved. And as anyone knows, good parents shouldn’t respond to such infantile tactics.

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Faster Than Light

Likely 2012’s most beloved indie PC joint, and for very good reason. Essentially a hard sci-fi version of the Oregon Trail, FTL taps into the player identifying with the faceless, named crew members and hoping they make it to the end of the journey. For this to work there has to be a fairly strong chance that they’ll die on the way there. No worries there. Like XCOM, Dark Souls, and most Roguelikes, FTL taps into the side of gaming that eschews corridors and Rambo fantasies for a seemingly endless procession of seemingly insurmountable challenges. The randomly generated elements are strictly the domain of the roguelike though, and they occasionally make the game damn near impossible to beat.

Going in I had no idea how difficult FTL would be. I spent nearly 30 hours playing it until I finally beat it. On easy. A lot of that hinges around the game’s random nature, but it also hinges around the game’s main problem; that it demands a fairly rigid playstyle for you to have any chance of actually beating it. Overcoming the last boss mandates an almost exclusively combat based ship, which is something of a bummer as it reduces the exploration and negotiations to rote mathematical calculations. “I need X scrap, this weapon, an upgraded teleporter, and a Defense Drone 2 to win.” As always, this type of Min/Max thinking does the game a disservice, trivializing its other elements in service of completing the game.

Repeat playthroughs also reveal the game is somewhat light on actual content, especially in regards to random encounters on planets. This also hurts the exploration aspect, as knowing what the correct response to each situation is ahead of time removes the thrill and the risk. It’s completely fine for $10, but I’d gladly pay another $10 for additional scenarios and a few additional pieces of gear.

The game’s world isn’t the most unique sci-fi universe ever created, but it establishes everything quickly and lets the details sink in through repeat playthroughs. The charming graphics and music also make it easy to love. Its faults only emerge after repeat playthroughs though, and by that point you’ll have certainly already fallen in love with its excellent space combat system and tiny pixelized crew members.

Verdict: The Dark Souls of semi-Roguelike emergent ludonarratively harmonious indie PC exclusive space experiences

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Hotline Miami

Every year I can feel the internet slowly destroying my attention span and ruining my memory. I watch and hear and read so many things in any given day, that even against my best efforts, I’m forced to skim most everything I take in. Like just now, I watched an episode of SNL while browsing Twitter on my phone and thumbing through a magazine. It eventually results in a blown fuse feeling that causes your eyes to glaze over and your brain to shut down all nonessential functions. Interestingly, this unwanted feeling (and attempting to capture the negative space between multiple screens) is the crux of the Wii U’s design philosophy, a concept so pretentious even a Parisian hipster Philosophy major would find it high-flown.


But I digress, giving something my full attention these days is rare indeed. And I mean the kind of attention where I’m 100% there, not worrying about my Twitter replies, rent check, atrophying mortal coil, or any of the other little things contributing to my impending nervous breakdown. But Hotline Miami was one of those thing

It’s a weird sort of absorption that happens the same way Super Meat Boy did; a series of thousands of frenetic, seconds long, gore ballets that reset every few seconds until you finally achieve perfection. It’s very different from say, reading a book, where you focus on the story being told, possibly stopping to consider a passage or make a note. The book is a calm, measured, straight line, where HM is a stampede of twitch repetition that demands mechanical perfection. Strangely, both create the same hypnotic effect of total focus despite the fact they’re stimulating entirely different parts of my brain.


A sensation of droning hypnosis is probably not what one would expect from an ultra violent twitch puzzle game, but it’s certainly the feeling it creates. The soundtrack helps a lot in that respect, a fantastic collection of lo-fi tape fuzz rock and bass heavy synth tracks that work perfectly in bringing the game’s druggy retro 80s Miami world to life. Keyword, druggy. The music also helps your brain transition into the locked groove necessary to beat each level.


The story is an intentionally vague cipher that sort of offhandedly criticizes the gamer for being a brainless gore-hungry monster; you blithely butcher hundreds of people because a mystery person calls and asks you to. The creepy, scuzzy feel is where the game really works though. Tearing through drug dens and violently murdering coked out goons becomes your job, to the point where the game sends you on errands to pick up a pizza or rent a VHS on your way home. Just another day at the factory, letting your mind sink into a pattern, doing the same thing over and over. And once you reach the end, “So what?”. Lambasting the mindlessness of the careerist lifestyle and the blood soaked gamer isn’t anything new, but Hotline Miami blends its concept with fun mechanics, great visual style, and a fantastic soundtrack that unifies all the parts into a cohesive experience that stuck with me long after it ended.

Verdict: Meat Boy: Vice City

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Animal Crossing New Leaf has been hamstringing my mornings, forcing me to stay in the house an hour longer than I prefer to in order to do the following list of things:

-Check the T&T mart for the new available furniture
-Check the current going rate of tunips at Re-Tail
-Harvest fruit
-Pull weeds
-Dig up the daily fossils and gyroids
-Check the town plaza for any special visitors
-Check Nook’s store for any exceptional home remodeling items
-Rearrange house with newly received items that I ordered yesterday
-Visit the island and catch bugs and fish to earn bells

This, all told, has added nearly an hour to my morning ritual. I have not adjusted my ritual in anyway to compensate for this, so it’s making me late. ACNL has replaced my morning Twitter feed check in the bathroom, meaning that I let the shower run while I sit idly on the toilet 5x longer than usual. More time, more water, and my reputation as a punctual employee are being consumed by the smiling faces of the adorable animal people of Bortburg. They will crush me with their never ending optimism and willingness to live a casual, carefree lifestyle unburdened by the pressures of real life.

None of my neighbors seem to have any great ambition in their lives, a problem exacerbated by the game’s lack of things to do outside of ruthlessly generating bells and redesigning your house. ACNL’s main gameplay is the constant drive for a bigger and better home, with more, better stuff, and more civic works projects for your cheapskate neighbors. The neighbors’ motivations are mostly to just exist. It seems like one of my jock neighbors loves working out, but I see nowhere for him to pump iron, or a way for him to do it. It’s as if their lives are a never-ending cycle of collecting unemployment checks, all the time in the world, but no resources with which to do anything.

The hollowness that sets in and has traditionally pushed me out of Animal Crossing games is somewhat alleviated by the game’s online connectivity and the sense of community and currentness you get from seeing large swathes of people updating their Tumblrs with pictures and stories from their worlds. Nintendo’s inclusion of a relatively easy to use (by Nintendo standards of course) photo uploader for in-game screenshots is a very forward-thinking touch.

It’s this weird blend of a real life and in-game digital community that makes the game something more than a glorified Farmville. Seeing certain neighbors eventually warm up to you over time is a great little touch that even the most character driven games fail to capture. Games like Mass Effect reward friendship, but the motivation is generally for a gauche sex scene or optimal ending. Something like the Last of Us successfully details a relationship building over time between characters, but it’s not optional, and your actions have virtually no bearing on the narrative. Animal Crossing instead makes it about friendship for its own sake, to become a confidant, to become trusted and granted access to the thoughts and whims of your neighbors.

The ritual nature of the game also plays into these friendships. There’s no replacement for time, and as in life, there’s no shortcut to earning someone’s trust. The fact that befriending someone, like Sable for example, is both completely optional and not obvious adds a certain appeal to it. She’s not interested in reaching out to befriend you, the ball is in your court. The fact that these reserved, shy, and in Sable’s case, tragic, characters are in a game ostensibly about exceedingly happy neighbors in the countryside adds a welcome realism. Even an idyllic countryside town is going to have some standoffish people in it.

The constant drive to be harvesting goods to sell for new items or cleaning up your town is the most game-y part of the experience, and it feels like more than a coincidence that getting caught up in this process overshadows the more pleasant social and aesthetic elements of the game; talking to your neighbors, writing letters, visiting your friends’ homes in the showcase, and just taking everything in. The urge to socialize is dimmed somewhat by the characters’ limited dialogue options, especially the vendors, who for the most part have nothing to say at all. Ironically, Blathers has been reduced to a self-stymying mute who no longer says much of anything. While writing in-depth personal stories for all of the games’ dozens of villagers is unrealistic, it can be difficult to bond with them when they all eventually offer the same kind of response (generally based on their personality type).

So why am I playing this so much? That’s the question I set out to answer when I started writing this, and I can’t say I’ve succeeded. As usual I’m probably reading too deeply into the game itself, but that’s one of its beauties, it is sort of what you make of it. I see:

-The collision between the obligations of work and developing friendships, which is its own kind of work.
-These in-game collisions having weird impacts on my real life work and social obligations.
-The dread of knowing all this effort I’m putting into something that operates, at least a little, on my emotional attachment to it will be eventually pushed aside and forgotten, left to devolve into a ghost town full of weeds and abandoned friends.

Verdict: Rituals are comforting

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Random Dark Souls PC Screens

Review: Need for Speed The Run

A coast to coast “genitalia to the bulwark” race on open roads is, on paper, the ultimate premise for a racing game. Movies like Cannonball Run and the real life hoonery of the Gumball 3000 cause any self respecting car nut to feel desperate pangs of jealousy then an urge to quit their job, cash in their savings account, buy the fastest thing they can find, and head out to the furthest ocean. Given the slam dunk idea, it’s a shame that The Run squanders it on a partially baked game that clearly could have used another 100 degrees and 20 minutes.


Two totally compelling characters with super interesting dramatic arcs that redefine how video games are truly art.

You play some boring non-entity wanted by the Mob because we’re fitting a story into this game come hell or high-water, Goddamn it. The game deals with the obvious issue that no one on Earth wants to drive across Nebraska in its entirety by breaking the race into individual stages and tracks, greatly truncating most of the plains states. Sorry Akron. Metropolitan areas are loyally recreated, but it’s the big, sweeping nature areas that are the most impressive. Long stretches of semi-straight two lane highways surrounded by smokey mountains, golden fields, or overcast snowy skies are a blast to rip through at 200 mph.

The Run starts off strong, and the first third is generally fun, keeping the dumb elements to a minimum and the sense of urgency high. Unfortunately the bad parts quickly start multiplying faster than the good elements can cope with them. The ability to change cars is limited to mythic gas stations that appear only during lunar eclipses, civilian drivers that either swerve into, or are placed directly into your path, shortcuts that are only occasionally actually shortcuts, and inconsistent crash physics cause you to restart sporadically.

Press for the game made a big stink about how it uses the Frostbite 2 engine, but the level physics/damage effects are minimal, and the less said about the hit or miss driving physics the better. This being a review though, I must say more about them. Where Hot Pursuit’s arcade physics were a total success, The Run is hamstrung by its dodgy physics and absolutely atrocious rubberbanding AI. The Run is heavily scripted in order to build some sort of tension to keep you going, but in doing so, it actively punishes good driving.

nfs the run shoes

Officially licensed NFS The Run sneakers. Smell the corporate synergy.

Racing against a rival (Who happened to be a Mexican gangbanger from a barrio in LA driving an El Camino. How tasteful.) in a Porsche GT2 uphill in the snow on a mountain, I found myself being passed by a 1970 El Camino SS at roughly 225 MPH because I had passed him before the game intended me too. This kind of thing happens constantly, and there’s no indicator that you’re supposed to do something a specific way until you’ve died five or six times. Nowhere is this more apparent than the painfully frustrating final race, which is guaranteed to leave a sour taste in your mouth. The game’s insistence on trial and error is akin to a director giving his actors no scripts, then beating them every time their improv wasn’t exactly what he wanted. If you were wondering, what he wanted was a hard sci-fi rom-com set in Canada.

In theory, The Run’s online has solid ideas, but servers full of peanut butter and ghosts ensure that actively playing with anyone is a rancid gamble. Challenge mode pads out the roughly four hour main story. That may seem short, but by the time you’ve reached the end I personally guarantee you’ll have had more than enough. Challenge mode sends you through sections of each course in a specific tier of vehicle, trying to beat times. The challenges sadly feature the same irritatingly placed civilian cars with a preternatural ability to manifest themselves directly in your driving line, or IPCCPAMTDYDLs as I call them.


This rad RWB Porsche is actually in the game. (Pic from Speedhunters)

Despite the fact that the rubberbanding AI generally renders the type of car you’re driving totally meaningless, I was happy to see a solid selection of old-school and new-school vehicles here, from old 70s and 80s JDM customs, to the obligatory Porsches and Koenigseggs (I almost spelled that right on my first try!) Of course The Run manages to drop the ball on this front as well, as only a tiny portion of the total vehicles are available from the beginning, and the rest must be individually unlocked via myriad Multiplayer and Autolog challenges designed to force you to grind away online. The option to just pay IRL cash money to unlock what you want is there too; as long as you’re a mouth-breathing cretin with infinitely too much disposable income who’s comfortable helping ruin this industry.

The Run is an overager marathon runner, starting too confidently and burning its early energy before realising its crucial mistake too late. By the end it’s an exhausted shambles, barely capable of flopping its spent form across the finish line.

Rating: Suzkui X-90

Review: Muppet Adventures: Chaos at the Carnival

I had the fortune to happen upon a stack of boxed Nintendo games at a used record store in Roseville the other day, and picked up a bunch of them so that they can contribute to eating up every last square inch of space in my room and get me onto an episode of Hoarders. I decided to keep some notes as I played to see how well they’ve all held up over the years. First in the pile: Muppet Adventures: Chaos at the Carnival.

Is my time really this worthless? Am I really going to spend hours of my life playing and then writing about some old unremarkable turd of game published exclusively to ruthlessly claw dollars from parents’ wallets?

I’ll be honest, I knew this game was going to be bad, I bought it mostly as a gift for a friend who’s a huge Muppets fan. All the bad game red flags are here:

1. It’s based on a hoary old licensed property.

2. It’s an NES game based on a licensed property and it’s not made by Capcom.

3. It’s developed by an American company who made mostly licensed games for kids.

4. It’s a collection of mini-games.

5. It’s a port of a Commodore 64/AppleII/DOS game.

After booting it up, the doo-doo brown title screen did little to assuage my fears:

Come on Mike, stop being negative. You need some sort of content for this blog, you can’t keep waking up at noon and half-heartedly checking Craigslist for work. You need to keep writing, make some sort of personal portfolio thing. Anyway the kids love this retro shit, and you need a reason to justify wasting your unemployment money on a bunch of old NES games you impulse purchased.

As is the hallmark of cheap-o games, there’s no real main menu or intro, you just get a screen with 4 levels and a note that Miss Piggy has been captured. You can tackle the levels in any order, but you share your lives across all the games, so die too may times in one and you’ll be severely handicapped. You grab a Key at the end of each level so you can go save Piggy from the subtly named “Dr. Grump”

One key away from eternal freedom

River Ride

This level was simple enough, you’re Kermit, in an innertube, going down a river/waterfall. Why a frog would need an innertube to navigate a river is beyond me, but you avoid rocks/whirlpools/assorted crap by dodging left and right. I think you can slightly speed up and slow down your descent, though it’s barely noticeable. You take damage from running into stuff, though there’s some sort of thing that can kill you in one hit, I think it’s supposed to be a Muppet but I couldn’t tell. Let’s just assume it’s Waldorf and Statler, killing you with scathing bon mots. This game is the easiest of the three, and also the shortest, it’s definitely no Toobin’ but it’s the least noxious of the bunch.

Worst case scenario we can somehow write these off as a business expense on the tax return to offset the crushing cost of collecting freelance checks. Don’t forget your insurance bill is due.

Car Course

This one has you playing Animal in a bumper car with tank style controls. Avoid oil slicks and bombs, pick up flags for points. If you just point him North East and hold gas you’ll avoid like 90% of the obstacles. Boring.

Space Ride

By far the hardest of the bunch, you’re Gonzo in a space ship with Asteroids style controls, getting pummeled to death by rocks, enemies and assorted crap. I couldn’t actually even tell who I was supposed to be in this level, as Gonzo is pretty much a blue pixelated splorch in the middle of the ship, not that it matters. Gonzo controls like ass here, and you’re constantly floating in a direction no matter what your inputs are. Worst of all, the traditional moment of recoil where you’re invulnerable for a brief second isn’t implemented, meaning you’re guaranteed to get dog-piled harder than a Black Friday trampling victim. Expect many cheap deaths, or better off, don’t bother playing this game in the first place. Annoyingly, you can also destroy power-ups by shooting them.

I wonder what the lady running this cafe thinks I’m doing here every other day. Studying with all the other med students probably, doing something useful/productive at least.  Christ, a med student. What the fuck am I doing sitting here writing about this shit when that girl over there is studying molecular cell biology. She’s probably curing some diseases while I’m over here complaining about how Gonzo isn’t rendered clearly in a video game released fucking decades ago. Jesus Christ.

Waka Waka Flame

Amazing Maze

Fozzy’s level is comprised of boring mazes made out of giant sundaes. Okay. You walk around and pick up 3 items, a box, something, and finally his bow tie, as some sort of indeterminate enemy languidly “chases” you. Fozzy’s game isn’t very difficult, but it goes on foreverrrr. You can pick up hearts and some sort of stick that Fozzy can throw, but aiming them is annoying and they just stun the enemy.

How long have I spend editing this? Seriously, it’s a joke, stop going back and tightening up sentences about Fozzy’s hitbox you clown. If I do my laundry today that’ll count as being productive. I need to leave the house at least once, even if it’s just to walk around.

Muppet Adventures was almost certainly developed initially as a cheap “carnival games” game, before having the Muppets stapled to it to increase sales. It’s dreadfully simple, the characters only barely resemble the Muppets, the music is mediocre, and its unfun. That said, it’s got cool boxart, so it will look great sitting on Chris’s mandchild nostalgia shelf.

Classic, ROM, or Garbage: Garbage

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