The Top 15 Greatest SNES Games of All Time


Hey guys it’s Sam! Remember back in June when I made a post counting down the top ten greatest Nintendo 64 games in my book? Well, consider this to be a sequel. Instead of going forward in time, I’ve decided to go backward. It’s 1991. Pearl Jam and Nirvana are helping fuel the 1990s grunge scene. The World Wide Web and email have just popped up on the tech horizon. Terminator 2 was the film of the year. We said goodbye to rock legend Freddie Mercury. But most notably, the Sega Genesis was two years old. Eyes were glazing as kids watched the console’s commercials, boasting “turbo processing” that allowed Sonic-speed gameplay. The NES was a thing of the past–the 16-bit era was the thing of the present.

The Genesis had a two-year head start and was already structuring a fanbase. To combat this, Nintendo created the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and had it out in North America by the end of the summer. Thus started the big battle of the fourth generation of video games. Both offered backward compatibility and had an ample number of accessories. Despite the Genesis’ advantage and its lower price, the Super Nintendo outsold it by about 9.10 million units. I’m here to count down the top fifteen best SNES games in my book, and I have proof to back up my decisions thanks to the power of emulators. See if your favorites made the list.

waycool_snes_large

Game Face: Injustice Gods Among Us


Hey guys it’s Sam, and welcome to another episode of Game Face! Now take Street Fighter IV, MK 2011MK vs DCU, and all of the DC Universe characters you can think of, and puree it all in the most pretentious blender you can find at your local supermarket. Pour it in the most posh glass you can find in your house and garnish with a curly straw, and you have Injustice Gods Among Us. This fighting game from the makers of the latest Mortal Kombat game pits the heroes and villains of the DC Universe against one another, but it goes far beyond just over-the-top action.

STORY

The game’s plot is the size of a doorstop, and there’s a lot to be understood to fully grasp the meaning of the game. Heck, the entire thing takes place in a parallel universe! It all starts when Joker dastardly and maliciously deceives Superman into believing his wife Lois Lane is a villain named Doomsday, causing him to kill both her and her unborn son who she was apparently preggers with. Not only that, but Kal-El ends up destroying the rest of Metropolis in a single nuclear boom! (Apparently the nuclear bomb was connected with Lois’ heartbeat. What.) Overcome with guilt and fueled by rage, Superman does the one thing Batman wouldn’t–straight up murder Joker in cold blood!

But the Man of Steel will never forgive himself for what Joker made him do, so he seizes the control of several planets across the globe, establishing a new world order as the High Councilor for the lone goal of world peace. Sounds corny, doesn’t it? But if you aren’t with Superman, you sure as heck are against him. The heroes of the earth, from Aquaman to Wonder Woman, are faced with a choice between Superman’s Regime or Batman’s Insurgency. War ends up breaking out between the forces, one that’ll threaten the survival of all of mankind. 

I’m sorry, I can’t type that with a straight face. mrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreenmrgreen

I mean, seriously, a bomb linked with a human’s heartbeat? Injustice‘s story really starts to cave in on itself just to find reasons why a pair of heroes should be beating the crap out of each other.

GAMEPLAY

The best way to begin playing the game is to check out its tutorial, which shows you pretty much everything you need to know about the game, from special moves to bounce cancels. Now once you put that to use, you’ll see the same fighting style of Mortal Kombat 2011–well, actually, they’re the exact same controls. Heck, there are even some moves straight out of X-Ray Mode! However, what makes the game the most unique from MK 2011 is its interactive fighting style; “the world is your weapon,” says the back of the game case. And indeed it is; for example, in the Batcave someone can send you hurtling into the Bat Computer, or press a nearby button to blast you with rockets. Or in Atlantis, someone can turn a valve and blast you with an unblockable burst of water. However, many of the game’s heavier-built players can destroy these helpful objects almost effortlessly. A stone tablet that Batman can use as a jumping pad, Superman will simply crush. This will definitely be the birth of many Injustice trolls.

Injustice also has “level transitions”, which you can perform on characters by doing a select attack near one of a level’s ends. Your opponent will be painfully sent to the lower level, and if you choose you can painfully send them back to the upper level. However, while the game’s transitions can be over-the-top, the game’s laws of physics are very lenient and unrealistic (but still over-the-top). You can take a good long fall through several building floors, get hurtled into space, be inside a crashing helicopter, and more. And you’ll surely survive through all of it like it’s nothing.

The game is also unique for its Character Powers: whether it’s flight, healing, or just a temporary strength boost, these Powers are exclusive to each character. Another new part of the game is the Clashes: it can immediately interrupt a combo, allowing both players to secretly gamble some or all of their super meter (which can be saved up to perform a Super Move). It is only available when its starter has at least half of their meter full, and is only available once. There are also no rounds in Injustice–just two health bars. If one player has both of their bars emptied, the match automatically ends and the other player is declared the winner. The matches are also timed, and I’m not a fan of timed matches. I like Super Street Fighter IV, where you can set match times to infinite.

But hey, at least Injustice gives you a quick reference of your special moves whenever you pause.

EXTRAS

Winning matches will increase your XP, and enough XP allows you to level up, unlocking content from music to concept art. And if you aren’t fighting, you could take a visit to STAR Labs to do character-specific missions that I have yet to unearth. If that wasn’t enough, you could waste a couple of minutes customizing your “hero card” and your “portrait” that comes with your Injustice in-game account. Besides that there are some half-decent mini games: shoot arrows from Green Arrow’s POV, use your eye lasers to destroy entire cars as Superman, the list goes on. However, I don’t enjoy how Superman is willingly incinerating vehicles with people inside. I mean, whatever happened to defending the world?

Oh, and also, if you consider a spinoff comic series as an extra, I should note the Injustice comic by Tom Taylor and Jheremy Raapack, as well as the Injustice action figure line.

LASTING APPEAL

In the end, Injustice Gods Among Us is a shockingly derivative fighting game that doubles as a big love letter to the fan base of the DC Universe, fueled by enjoyable over-the-top action and a thin story that most people will give no heed. (And it should stay that way.)

FINAL SCORE: ★★★

IF YOU LIKED THAT, CHECK OUT:

(Click on the pictures to be transported to their GameStop articles!)







……………………….

Well, that was fun! Be sure to tune in next Friday for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak! Oh, and have a radical summer!

Stay classy,

~S~ 8-)

Video of the Week: “About Pogo (Nick Bertke)” by Fagottron aka Pogo. You’ve seen some of his amazing videos since they’ve been past Videos of the Week, but learn the story of Pogo in just 9 minutes!

“I love making music. I think it’s the ultimate way to express myself. I can’t imagine how else I would connect with myself and the world around me.” (Poetry.)

The Top 10 Nintendo 64 Games of All Time


Nintendo has revolutionized modern gaming in many ways, and this world would be very different without them. They began in fall 1889, founded by Fusajiro Yamauchi, originally a card company. As time went by, they evolved into a game company that has made a market value of over $85 billion! The American part of the company also owns the Seattle Mariners MLB team (imagine that), but that’s not the point. Nintendo has become gradually better with every new console releases, evolving from giant cartridges to comfortably small discs, and their skills in the industry have made them a three-time gaming generation winner by sales standings. One of their unsuccessful years was the fifth generation, which they lost to the PlayStation. However, the Nintendo 64 was still a 3D trailblazer for tons of series, and I’m here to count down the top ten creamiest creams of the crop.

Pokemonstadiumbox.jpg

#10. Pokemon Stadium (2000)

When Nintendo started the Pokemon saga with Red and Blue in 1998, they became established as heroes in the industry of RPGs. By the time they released Gold and Silver they also experimented with the Nintendo 64′s 3D specialties. The game was intended to be for the Nintendo 64DD, but transferred into cartridge format when the add-on became a commercial letdown. There is no linear plot to the game–you must win Cups and complete the Gym Leader Castle to progress in the game. The game also made good use of the console’s Transfer Pak to transfer Pokemon from past titles.

Conkersbfdbox.jpg

#9. Conker’s Bad Fur Day (2001)

Few gamers remember Conker’s Pocket Tales, which was a Game Boy Color exclusive that starred a lighthearted red squirrel named Conker that would appeal to young audiences. This family-friendly rodent went through one of gaming history’s most shocking transformations into a greedy guzzler. After a night of binge drinking, he is attempting to return home to his girlfriend while avoiding the Panther King, who wants Conker as a replacement for his missing table leg. The game was controversial for its language and inappropriate humor, but eventually gained a cult following despite being a commercial disappointment at the end of the console’s life cycle. But never will I forget hearing that giant pile of crap sing opera.

Black and white images of a man pointing a gun at the viewer, a woman and an antenna are seen at the top of the image, while at the bottom a man runs from an explosion and a helicopter flies. In the foreground is the title "GoldenEye 007", on the bottom left corner the Rare logo, and on the right side game specifications.

#8. GoldenEye 007 (1997)

GoldenEye is known for probably nothing but being the first Pierce Brosnan Bond movie, maybe being a great financial success, getting nominated for a couple BAFTAs. But it was the game made for it that not only made it ten times more popular, but made the Nintendo 64 a real force to be reckoned with. In the game you played as Bond and tried to stop this bad guy from using a satellite weapon against London to cause a worldwide financial meltdown. But no one really cared about the campaign, did they? All that mattered was the multiplayer. The game allowed one to three of your buddies to play with you in different types of deathmatch games, and I can tell you’re already remembering the memories of you mercilessly murdering your friend with the Golden Gun. Let’s face it, nothing beat the Golden Gun.

#7. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (1999)

Tony Hawk is known for many things: he did the first successful 900, he founded the Boom Boom Huck Jam exhibition/tour, he started a foundation to build skate parks in underprivileged areas, but everything really changed when Pro Skater first came out. This showed that Hawk wasn’t really playing around, and it’s still to this day one of the most influential skateboarding games in existence. You could skate and trick like nobody’s business and collect letters to make the word “SKATE” all while in an ambience of punk music. I also loved playing as Kareem Campbell; why, I think it was the hoodie. I was the best at Kareem, and I played no one but Kareem (ok, maybe Reynolds).

StarFox64 N64 Game Box.jpg

#6. Star Fox 64 (1997)

Star Fox began as a Super Nintendo exclusive in 1993, which spawned a sequel (also for the SNES) that could practically taste completion before being left in the dust as Shigeru Miyamoto decided to experiment with the Nintendo 64. The game turned into a 3D rail shooter starring Fox McCloud, leader of the Star Fox team, as he and his crew (Peppy Hare, Falco Lombardi, and Slippy Toad) embark on intergalactic adventures to destroy a disembodied ape head named Andross. The game was famous for popularizing the Rumble Pak, a removable add-on that provided lifelike vibrations to the controller. It also spawned some of gaming history’s most classic phrases, such as “Do a barrel roll!” and “Can’t let you do that, Star Fox!”

Mario Kart 64box.png

#5. Mario Kart 64 (1997)

Mario and his friends first got into racing with Super Mario Kart, which is credited as a pioneer of the kart racing subgenre and helping Mario branch out its gaming styles to establish it as the most bestselling game franchise in history. When new opportunity formed in the shape of the Nintendo 64, Mario Kart went in full-force. Not only was 3D CG graphics one of the big differences (allowing changes in elevation and such), but its multiplayer allowed up to four racers at a time. There were also four different modes to play in: grand prix (compete against the CPU for different cups), time trial (race a track and try to set a record), versus (race against your friend or friends), and battle (kickin’ it old school with balloons). It was the first N64 game I ever played, and it’s still among the best I’ve ever played. Never will I forget traveling down Rainbow Road.

Image of various Nintendo characters fighting: Mario rushing at Pikachu, Fox punching Samus, Link holding his shield and Kirby waving at the player, with a bomb next to him.

#4. Super Smash Bros. (1999)

Take all of your favorite Nintendo heroes and put them together in a take-no-prisoners crossover beat em’ up, and that’s basically Super Smash Bros for you. The game starred Mario, Kirby, Fox, Pikachu, Link, and so many more famous characters. Every aspect of the game was a blast: you could slow down the speed of training, play bonus rounds that were impossible, or you could play a single-player campaign mode to face the Master Glove. You could also play campaign to unlock characters like Luigi and Jigglypuff. I essentially got good at Kirby, but I really started picking up combos for Mario. SSB was also famous for debuting the ever-so-notorious “Falcon Punch”, the unbeatable move. It also branched out into a series that included the GameCube’s most bestselling game, one of the best Wii games ever, and an upcoming something-something for the Wii U and 3DS.

Artwork of a horizontal rectangular box. Depicted is a flying cartoon man in blue overalls, a red shirt, and a red cap with white wings on the sides and the letter "M" on the front. He flies in front of a blue backdrop with clouds and a castle in the distance. The bottom portion reads "Super Mario 64" in red, blue, yellow, and green block letters.

#3. Super Mario 64 (1996)

Yeah, I really roasted this game, didn’t I? You’d expect me to put it at, like, #2. But I guess I didn’t enjoy it as much as many critics and gamers did. Anyway, this game alongside LoZ: Ocarina of Time basically paved the way into the 3D generation, and that’s one of the reasons why it is critically lauded even to this day. The game’s story is simple on the outside, but complex at the core: you play as Mario, and you must recover 120 Power Stars to stop Bowser, free Peach, and get a cake. This game had everything–helpful camera angles, stellar control schemes, and one of our generation’s greatest video game soundtracks.

Diddy Kong Racing

#2. Diddy Kong Racing (1997)

Picture this: it’s Christmas 1997. You find a gift under the yule tree that’s just for you, and you open it with trembling hands. You let out a squeal when you see what’s inside–a brand new copy of Diddy Kong Racing. You are among the hundreds of thousands of people that ordered the game a week or two before Christmas, and you have helped the game to setting a Guinness record for being the fastest-selling game of the time. Now let’s talk turkey: the game did have a story, but no one really paid attention to it. All you did was race levels and beat bosses of different “domains” to race Wizpig, the game’s final boss. There were also side missions such as racing levels while picking up silver coins, and another mode where you could race tracks backwards. If you weren’t up to the challenge, you could play tracks on your own or with up to three buddies. What puts DKR so high up on the list is that its bouncy soundtrack and unique racing environments just form an aura that attracts you to it. At least, that’s how I felt when I played it back in the day.

A sword and a shield - bearing both the three triangles of the Triforce and the bird-like Hyrule crest - stand behind the game's title.

#1. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)

Guys…guys, I’m sorry. I wasted your time and ended up picking the same game as hundreds of other lists to be at the top spot. But this game just gave me a feeling few games ever give me: the feeling of euphoria. The feeling that makes me say, “This game is unlike the rest, this game is a real gem.” At first I was skeptical about the game, seeing all its perfect scores and its Guinness records. But when I visited my friend’s house and plugged it in, I was mesmerized by the environment. Opening chests with that grand jingle or smashing pots to collect rupees was just as amazing as people had described it. Of course, the game was accompanied by a revolutionary soundtrack that made everything all the better, and I have to end on this note: Ocarina of Time is, and will be, arguably the single greatest video game of our generation. I know, that sounded really corny.

…………………………………………………….

HONORABLE MENTIONS 

  • Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2000)
  • Killer Instinct Gold (1996)
  • Donkey Kong 64 (1999)
  • Banjo Kazooie (1998)
  • Perfect Dark (2000)
  • Mario Golf (1999)
  • Mario Tennis (2000)
  • Resident Evil 2 (1999)
  • 1080° Snowboarding (1998)
  • Mortal Kombat 4 (1998)

……………………………………………………..

Well, that’s all for this month folks! Be sure to tune in next Friday for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak!

Stay classy,

~S~ 8-)

Channel of the Week: This week’s honor goes to videogamedunkey, a one-man gaming channel full of hysterical play-throughs and hilarious reviews. The channel has been up since fall 2010 and has over 470,000 subs and 132.8 million hits! Check out some of his best videos and try not to laugh. (Warning: Some strong language throughout)

I GOT 99 PROBLEMS AND MY NAME IS ONE


Hey guys it’s Sam, and this is Press Start, the only gaming blog segment where you get to hear news and reviews about games on the mainstream. Okay, that was a cocky intro, but still. Do you all remember 1st Person from last April? Yeah, this is 1st Person 2.0 with gaming news. You’re welcome. Anyway, let’s get into the action!

This was easily one of the most anticipated games of the year, as it was Naughty Dog’s big break to make a hit as big as (or even bigger than) Uncharted 3, which was one of 2011′s most critically acclaimed titles. The setup was simple: remember that fungal infection from Planet Earth that could turn ants into zombies? Well, what if that infection spread onto humans? That creates the apocalyptic scene of The Last of Us, which takes place twenty years after the fungal outbreak. The survivors of the apocalypse are in quarantined zones under the heel of the military. Within one of these zones is a black marketeer named Joel, who goes through an event that makes him vow to get a young teenager named Ellie to a resistance group called the Fireflies. They begin to trek through the fallen country while also avoiding the spreading disease and scavengers hungry for prey. It doesn’t stop there–the military won’t stop until they find and bring back Ellie.

The game was indeed a major success receiving universal acclaim, winning 25 awards after E3 ’12, a notable margin of them praising the game as the best title of the show and the most anticipated game of the show. It also received various perfect scores of 5 or 10:

  • A British film magazine called Empire gave the game a perfect 5 score, lauding it as “an easy contender for the best game of this console generation”, “gaming’s Citizen Kane moment”, and “a masterpiece that will be looked back upon favorably for decades”.
  • The official PlayStation mag also gave the game a perfect 10 score, calling it “a work of art” and “an emotionally draining, constantly compelling end of days adventure”.
  • IGN also gave the game a solid 10, praising it as “a masterpiece, PlayStation 3′s best exclusive and an absolute must-play.”
  • Destructoid also gave the game a 10 saying, “There is more to The Last of Us than just combat and ‘emotional’ story tropes… The Last of Us had achieved everything it needed to achieve in order to provide me with everything [Jim Sterling] wanted.”
  • It received a perfect five stars from Giant Bomb, Games Radar, and Joystiq.
  • Eurogamer, VideoGamer.com, Edge, and Computer & Video Games gave the game a clean 10.

So, I guess all you post-apocalyptic gamers out there need to play this game! You guys are really missing out!

Animal Crossing was released in Japan during spring 2001 as one of the Nintendo 64′s final titles, but eventually was re-released in other countries during fall 2002 for the Nintendo GameCube. The game’s setup was simple: you move into a village full of talking animals, you can interact with them (and other players via memory card), and the console’s internal clock and calendar allowed real-time gameplay complete with changing seasons and holidays. It was more recognizable on the latter console as one of the best financial and critical successes the console ever had, and its fame increased as Wild World became a DS hit, and City Folk became a Wii bestseller despite a mixed critical say. Five years later, Animal Crossing: New Leaf released with tons of new changes. You lived in a tent rather than a house that could be expanded and upgraded, customization now allows pant modification, and you can swim in the lake at the village waterfront. Oh, and you’re also the mayor. Oh, and now there are hamsters and deer.

The game became a critical success and is now the series’ highest-rated game, with a Metacritic score of 88 and a GameRankings score of 86.96%. Critics were pleased with New Leaf‘s visuals as well as proper use of the 3DS’ stereoscopic effects (oh, did I forget to say that it was a 3DS exclusive?). The game’s environment, objects, and content were noted as a major step up from City Folk. The Japanese version of the game got a near-perfect score of 39 from Famitsu magazine, but won their Platinum Award. New Leaf became the first 3DS game to pass two million sold units in under two months (in Japan), and the game has sold nearly four million copies so far, making it a great financial success. So I guess people who have been faithful to the series (or at least have a 3DS) should get this one.

71 years into the future, Paris has become Neo-Paris and the Memorize corporation has made a new brain implant called the Sensation Engine that allows 99% of the population to upload and share their memories on the net. It’s like YouTube, but strictly for memories. They can also remove unhappy or unpleasant memories too, which is pretty awesome. However, what’s not as awesome is the SensEn gives Memorize lots of surveillance-like control over Neo-Paris, and a rebellion is rising. This rebellion comes in the form of “Errorists”, rebels who strive for nothing but to see Memorize destroyed and defeated. The invention of Memorize’s SensEn has created Leapers, people who have absorbed memories like drugs to the point where their SensEn has degraded and they mutate into subhuman beings that live in the sewers! In Remember Me, you play as an Errorist named Nilin who is one of the most crucial components of the rebellion. Why, you don’t know…yet. And neither does she, considering she’s having her memory wiped by Memorize. Nilin must free her fellow Neo-Parisians from tyrannical technology while piecing together her lost past.

Remember Me slipped by with a mixed to positive say from critics. IGN’s Daniel Krupa enjoyed the game’s promise, setting, story, and memory manipulation, but was disappointed by its unappealing combat, feeble platforming, and repetitive gameplay. Tom Bramwell from Eurogamer had almost the same problems with the game but noted a frail script. Kevin VanOrd from GameSpot enjoyed Nilin as a protagonist as well as the Memory Remixes, but noted flaws in the story, world design, and camera. GameTrailer’s Justin Speer praised the game’s general scope, but said it was “underdeveloped and underutilized”. GamesRadar’s Ryan Taljonick also liked the Memory Remixes and customizable combos, but disliked the game’s linearity. Official PlayStation Magazine didn’t have much different to say. So, you may or may not enjoy Remember Me, but it might leave a lasting memory! Get it? Cuz the game’s about mem–man, you guys never appreciate my gaming humor!

Xbox One logo

Xbox One Console and Controller.png

500 gigabytes of storage? 7.1 surround sound? More entertainment oriented? We all have to agree that last month’s revealing of the Xbox One was decently impressive. It seemed like it would expand upon the 360 like the 360 expanded upon the original Xbox. But several weeks later, the console’s abrasive side began to kick in:

  • No backward compatibility (you can’t play any 360 games on it)
  • The new Kinect is downright creepy (always watching, always listening)
  • The new Kinect is a requirement to use the console (it must be on and connected nonstop)
  • The console will use its region-locking skills to lock down games “geographically” (so a person across the globe can’t play some good ole Modern Warfare cuz it’s blocked in their country, kinda like a game filter)
  • The Xbox One won’t allow game-loaning like a normal console (you either need to sign in under your buddy’s account or pay for the game full retail price)
  • You’re gonna need an Internet connection (even to play single-player games offline!)
  • The console seems to focus more on entertainment than actual games (then why does it have the honor of being a console?!)

I bet a year from now when the PS4 wins the eighth generation of video games, Microsoft will be scratching its head asking itself, “Where did we go wrong?” Anyway, the One’s list of upcoming titles seems to be a bit more promising than the One itself, so let’s take a look at some titles:

  • Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag: Play as Connor Kenway’s grandpa Edward and embark on a swashbuckling pirate adventure! (10/29/13)
  • Battlefield 4: Blood will splatter, bullets will fire, and guards will be let down in the gruesome adventures of US Special Forces squad member Recker.  (10/29/13)
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts: Because Modern Warfare 4 wasn’t good enough, this game stars a band of elite soldiers called “Ghosts” that wage a covert war after a global power balance apocalypse. (11/5/13)
  • Destiny: After their big departure from Microsoft in 2010, Bungie teams up with Activision to create a post-apocalyptic world where you (among the final defenders of the human race) must fight aliens to prevent the obliteration of mankind. (Q3 or Q4 2013)
  • Fantasia Music Evolved: In this interactive follow-up to Fantasia and Fantasia 2000, you are the apprentice of sorcerer Yen Sid and you must generate life in desolate levels by moving rhythmically to popular licensed songs from Fun., Bruno Mars, Queen, and more. (2014)
  • FIFA 14: In this year’s FIFA instalment, new features have been added from “real ball physics” to “teammate intelligence” that might improve upon FIFA 13‘s skill games, and there’s a new global scouting network and modifications with career mode. (9/24/13)
  • Need for Speed Rivals: In this gas-burning romp you’re either a racer or a cop, and it has the aesthetics of NFS Underground plus the features of Hot Pursuit and Most Wanted. (11/19/13 for PS3 & X360; PS4 & XOne TBA)
  • Watch Dogs: This Ubisoft action-adventure/stealth game lets you play as an elite hacker that can either get and control info or destroy it wholly. You can hack phones to retrieve bank data, you can even hack traffic lights to cause crashes! (11/19/13 for PC, PS3, Wii U & X360; PS4 & XOne Q4 2013)

…………………………………………………….

Alright, that is it for this week! Make sure to tune in next Friday at 1:00 PM EST for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak!

Stay classy,

~S~ 8-)

Video of the Week: Have you heard of that new Daft Punk song with Pharrell Williams, uh, “Get Lucky”? Pfff, of course you have! Have you heard that old System of a Down song called, uh, “BYOB”? Pfff, of course you have…n’t. Anyway, here’s a brief summary of the band: they’re four Armenian-American guys from Glendale, California who play alternative metal and love to scream and yell a lot. Now, what if you put these two together? Since BYOB stands for “bring your own bombs”, this mashup is called “Bring Your Own Luck”. This was originally done by this guy called DJ Lobsterdust, and the sad part is this video hasn’t even broken 6,000 hits yet! Just listen to it and tell me if it should be viral by now.

Here’s the unofficial music video for the mashup.

Here’s the official music video for “BYOB”.

Here’s an equally eargasmic mashup of “Gangnam Style” and “Cotton Eye Joe”.

Game Face Web: FusionFall Heroes


I’ve been a diehard for Cartoon Network as long as I can remember, ever since it introduced one of the biggest pieces of my brain’s nostalgia center–Tom & Jerry. When I don’t have anything to catch up with, or I do but I’m just kinda procrastinating, I usually spend my time playing their site’s games. You already know that I have some major beef with the Adventure Time games (excluding Jumping Finn, which is actually good), strong faith with the Reg Show games, and keen interests in the Gumball games. Well, take these three shows and a whole lot more, convert them to 3D, and cram them into one game. What do you get? No, not Formula Cartoon. You get this.

Finn, Dexter, and Four-Arms fight the beasts of botany in “the Field”.

FusionFall Heroes is the sequel to the well-renowned FusionFall Universe which Cartoon Network introduced back in 2009. Instead of an open-world experience where you could interact with some of your favorite characters, this is a nonstop action RPG very similar to DOTA. In FFH, you play characters such as Finn and Mordecai, and you get automatically sent into a level. Each level is different–you could be fighting the Tech Queen, while your friend could be fighting the Graveworm. Before you fight the levels’ bosses, you must go through about four waves of smaller enemies. I’ve classified my enemies into two categories:

  • The enemies that die with one hit, also known as the petite enemies
  • The enemies that take a round of hits to die, also known as the buff enemies

Anyway, if you’re not a very skilled fighter and you get major health blows, you’re in luck. At your side are medical chests (marked with red crosses) that have health boosters in the forms of breakfast foods like jellied toast, cereal, and pancakes. Also, at your side are very special chests (marked with the infinity sign) that offer special powers once opened. I call it Infinity Power since I really don’t know what the official name is. Once you consume the IP, a five-bar gauge next to your health fills. Once at least one bar is full, you can right-click to perform a special attack that takes away -266 of the enemy’s damage. If you die, you don’t need to restart your fight–you respawn automatically, which saves me a lot of stress and fury. Furthermore, there are these red barrels that explode a few seconds after being hit, which is an easy way to wipe out a pack of petites.

At the in-game store, you can also buy new characters in the forms of “eggs” using points that you receive after a fight.

Right now I’m kicking butt as Finn, and my gamer alias is “Major Zelda”. So if you see that name anywhere while you’re playing FFH, think of me. Anyway, I got hooked onto the game a few weeks ago, the first time I played it. I was bored out of my mind and probably killed an hour or so playing Heroes. What made me so addicted to the game, kept me going back for more, was that it so easy to master. A simple click of the mouse equals a swing of the sword, and that’s probably all you need to know besides that special attack. I love how something new pops up every time I play, and they always have the greatest and most unique boss fights. Albeit they’re not very hard boss fights (I mowed through two in my first sitting), they always relate to the environment you’re fighting in. For example, if you’re fighting monsters made out of auto parts in a junkyard, you’re gonna get a monster made out of cars. Most specifically, the Truckosaurus Rex. Furthermore, if you’re fighting monsters made of electronic parts in a fancy lab, you’re gonna get a giant electronic monster made of enough energy to run a parking lot of Nissan Leaves. Most specifically, the Tech Queen. I also appreciate the 3D techniques that were transcribed from Formula Cartoon.

However, its tendency to repeat levels is very annoying, and the first time I played I thought it was because I hadn’t saved. Then I realized you couldn’t save. Anyway, if I defeat the Tech Queen once, I’m not interested in defeating her five more times. Also, the game’s excitement does quickly wear off, and you find yourself very bored instead of very thrilled. Also, the game does lag sometime on me, which is no fun for an RPGamer. The game’s solo content does get a bit rusty after awhile, but it does offers a party co-op mode that I haven’t tried yet, since I have no friends to co-op with.

Well, let’s not tell sob stories and get to our chart.

 THE GOOD

  • Immersive gameplay
  • Gorgeous 3D environments ala Formula Cartoon
  • No-brainer controls
  • Medical and Infinity Chests serve as helpful aid kits
  • Ingenious boss fights

THE BAD

  • Gets tedious and boring after a while
  • Cantankerous tendency to repeat fights
  • Annoying lags that slow down battle paces
  • Offers a middling amount of content in solo mode

FINAL CONSENSUSFusionFall Heroes is very addictive and unparalleled for a Cartoon Network title, but for any ordinary browser-based RPG it has very insipid flaws such as fight repeats, lags, and conspicuous tedium. However, the game does offer enough to have you coming back for more, which says something.

FINAL SCORE: 8.3/10 (great)

………………………………………………….

Well, with all that aside, make sure to subscribe if you’re new, and don’t forget–press the like button. Come back next Monday for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak!

Stay classy America,

~S~ 8-)

Video of the Week: Pogo already gave us not one but two Videos of the Week last time (“Living Island” and “Roarcraft“), so it shouldn’t be a surprise I found something really good this week. This video was the third one Pogo ever released, and it was actually put up back in May 2008. It’s not really a remix of anything–it’s Bertke’s first original song. It’s called “SplurgenShitter”, and if you have any questions about the name, don’t ask me because I don’t know. Don’t ask Bertke, because he won’t tell you. Besides, it got paired up with footage of Nick dancing around wearing a Darth Vader mask and it has 1.1 million hits. Quality Internet video!

(You could also find a 4-minute version of the song on Weave and Wish, an EP Bertke released in 2009.)

Our Bonus Video of the Week is a Pogo remix of Lord of the Rings (the Frodo era, not the Bilbo era) that came out in March 2011 and has 1.9 million hits. Someone actually had the nerve to role-play as Frodo, comment on the video, and 3 weeks later it got 187 likes. A true quality Internet video.

The Jolly Good Bookie 2013 Window


Hey guys it’s Sam. Back last year I made a post where the good ole Bookie made a post summing up all of the good books that were coming out that year. Now, I’m here to bring it again, and now you won’t have to wait for most of the novels–they will most likely already be out, and I want to introduce my comrades to some new books. So for now, enjoy this delicious smoothie of chopped, crunched, and blended book-world news of what’s cooking this year.

Mind Games (Mind Games, #1)

I’m a huge fan of fast-paced sci-fi thriller novels like Maximum Ride and Witch & Wizard so I think I’d dig this one. This one came out back in February, so it’s gotten lots of time to sink into the mainstream quicksand. You could call this the novelization of Inception if you wanted to, but the latest novel from young adult author Kiersten White really messes with your mind. Mind Games (or Sister Assassin for non-Americans) is a fast-paced psychological thriller starring Fia, whose first impulse to go with her gut is always correct. Annie, Fia’s sister, is sightless to her surrounding world–she only opens her eyes when her mind whizzes with odd visions of the future. The two sisters are taken into a school that uses superhuman females as weapons of corporate espionage, where they must decide repeatedly to use their strange abilities in horrific ways or to risk their lives and fight the system–no matter what the cost.

Young-adult authors might remember Kiersten White as the author of Paranormalcy, an urban fantasy trilogy that introduced her to the world of books and turned her into a NY Times bestselling author. The final novel, Endlessly (how ironic), concluded the saga last year and White is currently making plans for a Paranormalcy film. MTV Music Video Award-winning director Ray Kay is set to direct the movie.

The book received mixed reviews. High praise was given for its spy-fi elements and well-suited ending, but high criticism was given for pretty much everything else, most notably the plain characterization.

Mila 2.0 (MILA 2.0, #1)

Speaking of sci-fi thriller, that brings us to our next novel which came out back in March. In the writing debut of Debra Driza, Mila 2.0, the titular character lives with her mom in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her harrowing past of being created in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do the humanly impossible. But when Mila discovers her shocking secret, she must flee. Flee from the dangerous operatives who want her dead because she knows too much. Flee from the mysterious group that wants to capture her and unlock her tech. But Mila’s hidden powers will surprise you (and her), and they might just save her life. Her artificially intelligent life.

Mila 2.0 is just the start. Driza plans on making two more books starring Mila to form a Mila 2.0 trilogy. Goodreads described the book as “the first book in a Bourne Identity-style trilogy that combines heart-pounding action with a riveting exploration of what it really means to be human.” They recommended the novel for fans of I Am Number Four, and said that the book’s gripping ending would pave the way for Mila’s second adventure and have readers hungry for more. I guess there really was more to Mila than met my eyes.

The book received generally positive reviews. Its fast-paced action and heart-racing adrenaline rushes were lauded, but its romance overemphasis and lack of emotional connections were noted as something that could’ve been finessed.

Take Timmy Failure, the clueless and confident CEO of the best detective agency in the nation town. Throw in his partner, an imaginary friend in the form of a polar bear named Total. Throw in Timmy’s mom’s Segway the Failuremobile, and what you have is Total Failure Incorporated, a global enterprise designed to make Timmy wealthy enough to prevent his mom from stressing over bills. But of course, his plan does not include the 4′-tall lady who we shall call She Who Must Not Be Named. Nor does it include Rollo Tookus, who cannot carry out a super-easy spy mission due to his obsession with getting into “Stanfurd”. Stephan Pastis makes a stunning and charming departure from Pearls Before Swine with Timmy Failure: Mistakes Are Made, “the kids’ comedy of the year”. Here are a couple notable blurbs that would look great on the back of the book:

“Timmy Failure is a winner!” – Jeff Kinney, author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid

“Seldom has failure been so likable–or funny.” - Wall Street Journal

“…a great story starring an unforgettable protagonist whose unorthodox approach to detective work (and world domination) will have readers in stitches.” – Lincoln Peirce, author of Big Nate

“Readers should be simultaneously amused and touched by this quirky antihero.” - Booklist

“Pastis has assembled an eccentric and funny cast (running gags revolve around Total’s voracious appetite and a librarian who looks like one of the Hell’s Angels), yet there are also touching interactions to be found…” - Publishers Weekly

Timmy Failure received generally positive reviews. Its well-written humor and charm factors were positively recognized by critics, but some flat characterization and peculiar usage of archaic references were also dissected.

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2)

You may recognize Marissa Meyer as the unique author of the sci-fi romance novel Cinder (the start of the Lunar Chronicles), which was one of Indie-Bound’s Kids Next List picks for last winter. But the story of our favorite cyborg heroine is not yet over, as her story continues into Scarlet, the thrilling sequel which came out in February. Now after discovering a shocking secret, Cindy’s trying to break out of the clutches of prison in New Beijing (this was after World War IV), but she’ll be the most-wanted fugitive of the Commonwealth even if she succeeds. Halfway around the Earth, Scarlet Benoit has a missing grandma. It turns out there’s a lot Scarlet doesn’t know about Grandma B, nor of the grim danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet meets a street fighter named Wolf who may or may not have the whereabouts of Scarlet’s grandma, she is reluctant to believe Wolf. However, the two are drawn together in some sort of relationship. After Scarlet and Wolf solve one mystery, they run into another when they come across Cindy herself. Now this misfit trio must stay one step ahead Queen Levana, female ruler of the moon colony Luna. That introduces the book’s side plot, where she is attempting to make Kai (the prince of New Beijing) give into his pressures of marrying Levana or evoking a World War V.

In spite of its slow start, the novel received critical acclaim for its deep and complex story, a shrewd and surprising backstory, and impeccable fairy-tale weaving that made it impossible for most people to put Scarlet down. People are still coming up with ideas of how the brand new characters could play vital roles in the final half of the four-part Lunar Chronicles.

Unremembered (Unremembered, #1)

Jessica Brody began writing and “publishing” novels at the age of seven, using materials like cardboard and electrical tape to turn her into an amateur bookbinder. She is no stranger to the world of young adult books–she’s written three already–but this story is her most stellar and unorthodox departure yet. In Unremembered, the beginning of Brody’s new sci-fi saga, a flight courtesy of Freedom Airlines ends horribly and unexpectedly with a crash over the Pacific. No one ever suspected to find survivors among the wreck, and that’s why the sole survivor of the crash has made global headlines. That survivor was 16-year old Seraphina. However, her body shows no signs of the crash, but here’s the kicker–she doesn’t remember boarding the plane. In fact, she doesn’t remember anything before the crash, let alone at all. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest, nor can anyone locate her DNA or fingerprints in a single database on Earth. As this astray amnesiac attempts to piece together her empty past, befuddled by a world she doesn’t know and an ominous threat she can’t remember, she discovers an odd boy who claims to have known her before the crash. A boy who claims they were in a relationship. Sera must decide whether or not this boy can be trusted, and if he can protect her from those who have been making her forget.

It turns out you really can’t judge a book by the cover, as Unremembered turned out with very mixed reception. People praised it for having the elements of a sci-fi gem, but criticized it for being an orthodox story that brought nothing unique to the action-thriller genre,  and how its intellectual properties (planning and thoughts) were in over their heads. Oh, and it came out in March.

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin

If you’re like me, you’re very familiar with the fantasy subgenre of “fractured fairy tale”. These kinds of books put twists on classic fairy tales and mend interesting and unexpected worlds around them, taking the original stories to whole ‘nother levels. Examples include Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted, and Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark and Grimm/In A Glass Grimmly. Coincidentally, this story was made for fans of those books. Now rising fantasy star Liesl Shurtliff has given a twist on a classic Grimm story: Rump. This came out just a couple of weeks ago, so it’s probably ankle-deep in the mainstream quicksand. Now, Rump isn’t just short for Rumpelstiltskin–in a magic kingdom where names are destinies, he literally is the rump of everyone’s jokes. But his luck changes when he finds an archaic spinning wheel–he discovers he can spin straw into gold. His best friend whom we’ll call Red (hint hint) warns him of the magic’s darkest dangers, and she’s right. With each spun thread, Rump obliviously weaves himself deeper and deeper into a curse. To break the curse, he must go on a dangerous quest and fight off pixies, trolls, poisonous apples, and a maliciously foolish queen.

Rump got positive reception for having the fun side that most stories fail to have, full of delightful adventures and hidden messages such as greed and friendship.

Pulse (Pulse, #1)

From the look of this cover, you may already tell this has something to do with sci-fi. Well, if you guessed that, you’re right. This is indeed a sci-fi story called Pulse from the author of Skeleton Creek, which came out in February. 38 years from now, the world is still recognizable. No world wars, no apocalypse, no Republics or Capitols–I’m assuming. Well, the country has been split into two “super States” (what.), and protagonist Faith Daniels attends what is little more than a teenage daycare. In the future, select teens have “pulses” which grant them with the power to move things with their minds. In other words, they’re telekinetic. Faith discovers that she has a pulse with the help of a mysterious classmate named Dylan. Faith uses her powers against telekinetic masters so powerful they could pancake their enemies using uprooted street lights and shifted boulders. But even with a pulse, the mind can be hard to control. So can the heart. If Faith and Dylan want to combine forces and save the world of the future, she must harness both and discover that real power comes from within.

Reception for Pulse was mixed to negative. Its unexplained future was heavily panned alongside its conspicuous lack of action-packed adventure, plus its underwhelming characters and relationships and a greatly deceiving synopsis. In fact, here’s how one Goodreads user put it: “…almost non-existent adventure (unless you consider moving cups with your mind adventure), poor and mostly unlikable and under-developed characters and extremely unhealthy relationships.” Wow, is a story about telekinesis and saving the world that bad?

Also, the finale for Laurie Halse Anderson’s award-winning Seeds of America trilogy (started by Chains and continued by Forge) is forthcoming. It’s going to be called Ashes, and the plot is as of now unknown. The book may be releasing this year as opposed to 2014, but I guess we need to stay tuned for those news.

Ah, finally. We’ve saved the best for last. People who mowed through the Hunger Games trilogy and were starving for more turned Veronica Roth’s Divergent into an award-winning NY Times bestseller. When the book’s sequel Insurgent came out, people turned that into yet another award-winning bestseller. The two books became so successful that Roth is currently planning for a Divergent movie! (Check her Twotter feed to stay tuned. Yeah, I did that on purpose.) But now, after months of theories and guesses, Roth’s epic finale to her trilogy is coming this October–Allegiant. Yeah, Roth sarcastically gave the book the name of Detergent, but some people thought it was called Convergent, and that’s how this came up:

Anyway, check out Amazon’s and Goodreads’ summary to the explosive end to Roth’s smashing saga. (Oh, like my amazing alliteration?)

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

Stay tuned and stay hungry for Allegiant when it hits stores October 22. But for now, here’s a link to Roth’s Twotter:

https://twitter.com/VeronicaRoth

………………………………………………….

That was fun! If you plan on reading any of my recommended books, post it in the comments below. Make sure to subscribe if you’re new, and don’t forget–press the like button. Now just stay tuned until next time to get more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak!

Stay classy America,

~S~ 8-)

Video of the Week: If you’ve stuck with me long enough, you probably know who Nick Bertke is. He’s the greatest mixer of all time, that’s who he is. He goes under the stage name Pogo (his channel’s called “Fagottron”), and although he has less than 250,000 subs, his videos have gotten millions of hits and millions of fans for his unique remixes of movies and TV shows. His best works include remixes of Harry PotterMary PoppinsAlice in Wonderland (1951), and Snow White & the 7 Dwarfs. Today’s video of the week is a Pogo remix from two years ago with nearly 750,000 hits. It’s a remix of HR Pufnstuf. If you don’t know what that is, sit back and enjoy this lesson.

Back in the 60s, there were these people named Sid & Marty Krofft. They made a show called HR Pufnstuf, which ran in 1969 on NBC. Yes, I said NBC. However, the show was so successful it stayed on the Saturday morning schedule until 1972. The show’s about a boy named Jimmy who takes his magic flute named Freddy and rides a boat to Living Island, where everything from clocks to houses are anthropomorphic. The island’s mayor is a dragon whom is the title character of the show, who takes Jimmy in to protect him from the show’s antagonist Witchiepoo. In a nutshell, it’s basically a psychedelic Sesame Street.

Because I love you guys so much, here’s the Bonus Video of the Week. It’s another Pogo remix, but you should be able to tell what got remixed from the name of the video.

Sam out.

Game Face: Street Fighter X Tekken


Get Ur Game Face On was kinda cheesy, so I decided to make it Game Face instead. Anyway, last month was my birthday (insert applause) and my good friend ND gave me a video game for a present for the 2nd year in a row. Last year he gave me De Blob 2 (which I made a review for), and this year he gave me something that totally outshines that game. Something I’ve been interested in ever since it was announced. Something so epic, it changed my entire concept of how I look at fighting games. Actually, it wasn’t that epic, but it was pretty awesome. Anyway, this game is a true pioneer for its genre in terms of content, providing a unique gaming experience that kept my brother and I playing for hours. To awkwardly change the subject, Capcom is no stranger to crossovers. They’ve buddied up with Namco, SNK, and Marvel over the past few years, and now they’re going where no series has gone before.

Vega battles with Raven at the Jurassic Era Research Facility. Behind Vega and Raven’s lifebars are those of their teammates, Balrog and Yoshimitsu (respectively).

The second partnership between Namco and Capcom, Street Fighter X Tekken (aka SFXTK) made its public debut in 2010 as an upcoming Darkstalkers game, but was woven into a crossover between two of the fighting genre’s biggest progenitors. Street Fighter made huge waves in the industry for Capcom and Nintendo in 1991 when Street Fighter II became one of the Super Nintendo’s biggest hits. 3 years later, Tekken made its debut for the arcade and original PlayStation, becoming Namco’s biggest streak of fame since Pac-Man. The game’s playing field is very similar to Street Fighter IV with some several notable modifications made, the biggest being that the game allows players to pick teams of two for a tag team match with a tag-in-tag-out style. As a result of this, the game also incorporates a Cross Gauge which works similarly to the EX Gauge of SFIV and allows teams to do “Cross Arts”, basically the game’s Ultra Combos.  For the first time since Street Fighter III, Super Arts appear in the game as the replacement for both Super and Ultra Combos, requiring two Cross Gauge bars to pull off (or you can Super Charge certain moves). Speaking of pulling things off, this game has a staggeringly deep storyline that even I wouldn’t have expected.

One of the biggest motifs within SFXTK is Pandora. Pandora is a celestial, cubical object that fell from space into Antarctica like the Russian meteor. The object is an object of no known origin and has left even the wisest of researchers baffled over its purpose. The only thing Pandora is capable of is releasing energy whenever two people come into conflict over the object, giving them more power. Due to the object’s tendencies to evoke human conflict, it was named “Pandora”. But the story doesn’t stop there. Two organizations, one from each series, wants to get their hands on Pandora and its powers: Street Fighter‘s Shadaloo and Tekken‘s Mishima Zaibatsu. In fact, each character gets impacted by Pandora one way or another, especially after beating arcade mode where the game proceeds to tell the ending stories of your characters, obviously influenced by Pandora. This sparked a special mode in the game known as “Pandora Mode” (enabled with down+down+B&Y for Xbox users), where you can sacrifice the combatant you are currently using and give your sidelined fighter a mega power boost! However, albeit Pandora Mode is great to turn the tables, if you misuse it you will be dead in a matter of seconds. Since you have to kill off one of your fighters, that fighter’s vitality constantly decreases by the second as a time limit, and the game will call “time over” if you fail to defeat your opponent in time. You will automatically lose. 

Another new thing in SFXTK is the Gem Unit. Gem Units are kind of like player cards in UMvC3, as you must do something like escape a throw or block a certain amount of times to use them. When you receive a gem, your body glows a certain color depending on which gem you have. Attack gems are red and increase the user’s power. Defense gems are yellow and increase the user’s defense, or decrease the damage of attacks. Speed gems are green and increase the user’s speed. Cross gauge gems are blue and increase the rate of a cross gauge’s filling, or decrease the rate that it’s consumed. Vitality gems are orange and can bring back players’ vitality either gradually or instantly. Assist gems are purple and do stuff like make special attacks easier to pull off or have your character auto-block.

……………………………………………

Street Fighter’s Balrog and Vega exchange menacing glares with Tekken’s Paul and Law at the versus screen.

PRESENTATION: The game has an eyebrow-raising number of deep story feats that make plot lines more conspicuous and help string the crossover together. How we see every character interact with Pandora in their own special way makes it seem like everyone’s still in the same universe. I have to admit, when I first found out about SFXTK‘s storyline a few months before the game hit stores, I was rather skeptical. It made no sense to me at the time and looked like something I would make up for a story idea. However, when I play the game and see all these connections, it makes more sense to me. (9.5/10)

VISUALS: The game’s graphics are drop-dead gorgeous, with detailed character models, bright and vivid stage scenery, eye-popping moves, and humorous bundles of personality. In some levels like the Mishima Estate or the Jurassic Era Research Facl., characters even jump down to the next level below them to continue the fight, which bumps up the game’s intrigue and fluidity. However, I don’t find it cool that this game has to jump on the gratuitous jiggling bandwagon that so many fighting games have paved. Also, I believe the cameraman is slightly perverse, as shots of female characters’ butts and lady parts are abundant, especially with characters like Cammy and Poison. (10/10)

SOUND: Besides the game’s dynamic voice acting, X Tekken has some of the best music I’ve heard in a fighting game, considering it’s from Capcom’s legendary composer Hideyuki Fukasawa. Fukasawa’s composed and arranged stellar music for other Capcom fighting games like MvC3 and Street Fighter IV (including the updates of the games), and this game hits the summit of his talent. Different stages have different tunes to set different moods, and all of these work together to make an enhanced environment. Antarctica has a catchy, fast-paced sound that makes you feel tense and excited–considering there’s a gigantic mammoth chasing you in the background. Stages like Mishima Estate and Pit Stop 109 have different tunes for different rounds, which keep things fresh and conserved. In the end, Fukasawa has composed yet another winning soundtrack that’s gonna be burrowed into my brain for I don’t know how long. However, in terms of dialogue, the game has some sprinkled profanity at the proportions of MvC3(10/10)

GAMEPLAY: When I first played this game, I found myself immersed into a world with lots of content to offer. The game had an even mix between Street Fighter characters and Tekken characters, unraveling great connections between certain combatants (via dialogue) and a steady learning curve about each character’s backdrop in the arcade mode. The fighting of the game is fast like Tekken, but fluid like Street Fighter, enabling players to switch fighters out in the middle of a hot combo and keep on juggling without skipping a beat. Like Tekken Tag Tournament and unlike UMvC3, the round is put to an end when only one of your fighters is KO’ed, which makes fighting a bit more smooth. However, the game makes no good use of button mashing like Street Fighter would, as the key to fluid combos is a bit of planning in advance. Also, my brother has spotted various bugs within the game, such as how a character would jump forward when he tried to block. In fact, the entire SFXTK gamer community has gotten upset over these bugs. Furthermore, the game’s AI when playing on medium or medium-hard is frustratingly rusty, from jab spams to unblockable hits. (9/10)

EXTRAS: When you don’t feel like fighting, there’s tons of things you can do in X Tekken. You can customize the colors of your characters’ custom outfits, edit gem units for select fighters, check out your player data, do missions, or edit your battle profile–that’s basically the title and comment you had in Street Fighter IV. And with Xbox Live, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. (10/10)

DLCX Tekken (oh, that sounds a lot better) has offered a handful of Street Fighter and Tekken characters that must be downloaded to be playable. All downloadable Street Fighter characters are Sakura, Blanka, Guy, Cody, Dudley, and Elena. (She’s a Kenyan character from Street Fighter III, in case you don’t know her.) All downloadable Tekken characters are Lars, Alisa, Bryan, Jack-X, Christie, and Lei. (Sorry folks, no Eddy here. sad emoticon) On the PS3 version of the game, there are many more exclusive characters you can play as: Sony’s Japanese mascots Toro and Kuro, alongside Infamous‘ Cole and 80s arcade heroes Mega Man and Pac Man. (It’s funny because Mega Man’s from Capcom and Pac Man’s from Namco.) The game sparked a controversy when fans realized that on-disc characters can only be used by paying more, at which Capcom replied that they had done this to save hard drive space. Another center of criticism was that online tag-team matches were unavailable for the Xbox, and Capcom said that they refused to make a patch for this. Well, that sucks beans. (8/10)

FINAL VERDICTStreet Fighter X Tekken is a great game that stands out among tons of other fighting games, with unique elements, a deep story, and the like. However, problems in the game from bugs to controversies to online issues pull the game away from its potential, but still don’t do enough damage to make it anything less or more than a general doozy of a fighter. Hopefully the upcoming Tekken X Street Fighter will fix these problems.

FINAL SCOREStreet Fighter X Tekken gets a 56.5/60 score, which equals a 93% score aka an A.

……………………………………

So, d’ya like my new Game Face layout? Do you have any games you want me to opinionate? Contact me in the comments below or at my G+ (“Sam Mwak”), and you could be responsible for the next review! Anyway, until next time, stay tuned for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak!

Stay classy America,

~S~ 8-)

Video of the Week: If there’s one issue I’ve had in the past, it’s my allergies. Being allergic to eggs, shrimp, and nuts rules out cookies, cake, and the like. However, there are many people out there who question allergies’ existence, and ponder about why our bodies must react that way to eating or even being in contact with foods like nuts and pollen. However, our ole pal Tobuscus is here to deliver his fifth rant on that very topic: “Why do allergies exist?” If you’ve had allergy problems in the past, tell me your story in the comments below. But otherwise, enjoy the video!

Get Ur Game Face On (and Xbox Pro-Tips!): Ultimate MvC3


WARNING: This game review is made for the best use and comprehension of all Xbox owners, as that is the version I had played of this game. If you own the PS3 or PS Vita port of this game, you will likely not find much pro-tips in this. 

Hey guys it’s Sam, and y’all know what this is–the first Sammwak post of the 2013 season! Let’s start things off right and make this a post that we’ll never forget, eh?

Define the term “crossover“; according to my Google Dictionary, it is “a point or place of crossing from one side to the other”. A notorious type of crossover is the intercompany crossover, where comic characters published from one company meet characters published by another. This has been done frequently by companies like Marvel and DC Universe, but this is the true epitome of those crossovers: a crossover game series. The Marvel vs. Capcom saga first debuted in 1996-’98 (it was first released for arcades in ’96, then the Sega Saturn in ’97, and finally the PlayStation in ’98) with X-Men vs. Street Fighter, and the rest is core history. But don’t you remember how Super Street Fighter IV amazingly rebalanced Street Fighter IV–after having already blown the fighting genre out of the water? Well, MvC‘s decided to follow in its footsteps–but is it for better or for worse?

File:UMvC3 Cover.jpg

Nova unleashes his Super Nova attack, his most effective and devastating attack on the move list. But poor Phoenix…didn’t even have a jury to help him!

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a crossover brawler released just 3/4 of the year after the original MvC 3, and is its standalone update. I say “standalone” because all this was actually planned to be MvC 3 DLC, but after the events of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake-tsunami, scheduling was disrupted and it eventually turned out as its own game. It rebalances the title much like SSF4 did for its original: it gave off new characters, new stages, and a bit of tweaking. The game works largely similar to the original: you fight against an opponent (CPU or human) surrounded with goofy comic book effects upon every painful impact. You may actually see sound effects printed onto the screen, like “THWOKK!!” and “SLAM”. When the face of death rears its ugly head, you can always jump out and be replaced by another “assist” fighter–y’see, you fight in teams of three. When a fighter is killed, they are deemed “down” and the first assist on the list is sent out. When a second fighter is down, the last man standing is sent on a long haul–this is where your X Factor really comes in handy. The Factor is a technique that increases speed and damage, which gains more power if one or both of your assists are down. This is respectively known as a Level 2 or 3 X Factor. There is also a power bar that your character has; this is your Hyper Combo bar. Successfully landed hits fill the bar, and eventually you will fill the bar entirely and level up. This keeps going until you hit the “maximum” at level 5. Once you reach Level 1-3, you can perform those levels’ Hyper Combos. They are named after the amount of bars it takes to perform the move, with Level 3 Combos being the biggest and baddest of the bunch. They’re basically like the Ultra Combos of U MvC 3

There are also specific in-game modes that you can indulge in:

  • Arcade Mode - The game’s story mode, to say the least. You fight against five CPU trios until you get to the final boss: Galactus. The thing about Galactus is–he makes you look like a fly.

I mean, the guy’s hard to beat, but it’s not impossible. A few quick one-twos, proper methods and strategy, and a whole lot of hope are the three keys that will unlock Galactus’ ultimate defeat. But there’s a lot of pressure on your shoulders; in the Olympics, you’d fight for your country. In this, you’d fight for your world. Yep–if you fail your mission you will be “world KO’ed” and you get to witness Galactus smash the Earth like a swatter against a housefly. (Awkwardly, after that point the game asks whether or not you want to continue.) But luckily, you can actually see how it’s like to be the final boss in the arcade’s Galactus Mode! (For Xbox owners, when selecting Arcade, press LB + Back + A all at the same time to unlock G Mode.) Once you defeat those five trios, you will destroy the world (which is ironically a good thing in this case) and unlock Galactus’ ending if you did this for the first time. Here are all the Xbox controls for this mode (I dubbed some of the moves myself, so at least try to imagine how painful they’d feel):

  • X = Hand Dust
  • Y = Palm Smash
  • A or RT = One Finger Snap Back
  • B = Mini Planet Destroyer
  • Down + Any Attack = Fist Smash
  • Forward + Any Attack = Sweeper Punch
  • Up + Any Attack = Finger Laser
  • Back + Any Attack = Eye Lasers
  • Roll Back + Any Attack = Grab
  • LT or Roll Forward + RT = Multi Finger Laser
  • Roll Back + RT = Full Screen Finger/Eye Lasers
  • Roll Forward + A = Ultimate Planet Destroyer (this will automatically KO the active opponent, although it takes several seconds to charge up)
  • Heroes & Heralds - The first thing you need to worry about in H&H is whether or not you’re going to be a hero or a herald. If you’re a hero, you will fight to save the Earth. If you’re a herald, you will fight to attack the Earth. Y’see, all heralds are official property of Galactus. Now it all makes sense, doesn’t it? Anyway, you will fight across a number of stages starting at 0%. Beat someone, and the percentage goes up. Get to 100%, unlock a bonus level. Beat the bonus level, win a valuable ability card. Ability cards show off abilities that prove to be very useful, and these include: turning invisible while dashing, getting health back upon landing a 30-hit combo, stuff like that. But if you get beat, you actually lose percentage. So make sure you end up on the winner’s side. Oh, and I almost forgot–heralds get to be completely chrome! No, not Google Chrome. They have, like, silver bodies.
  • Missions - The game also has a training mode that allows you to hone your skills in several missions with every single character. Obviously, the fighters are divided into their respective sides of Marvel or Capcom. With each fighter, you will likely see a row of faded icons. Those are missions you have yet to complete; completed missions will bring the icon to full resolution. Stumped on one mission? You can always skip to the next. Tongue-tied over controls? You can always check the mission objective. What happens if you complete all the missions?–then don’t consider visiting me for a match!
  • Training Mode - Like with any game, UMvC3 comes with a training mode that allows you to fight against a “training dummy” of your choice in a surrounding of your choice. But the biggest diversity of this mode is that you can actually tinker with the settings. Change the placing of the lifebars. Give yourself infinite X Factor. Even take out health regeneration to make this into a “real fight”. Whatever floats your boat or tickles your peach, bro.

Considering that Deadpool and Spider-Man may be Marvel’s only heroes with red and black on ‘em, they might as well bond.

Now, Ultimate MvC3 has the fast-paced action, the cutting-edge visuals, the razor-sharp controls, the unlimited opportunities, and some sprinkles of laughs that most fighting games need. Like with titles including Street Fighter, you can alter the language settings to make every word a character utters in Japanese. This is just an example of the lack of limits the game thrives in–unfortunately, as comical as it is, it does take its powers a bit too far. There’s not much differentiation between game modes, and–like with the original–replays are still non-included. Missions are honestly kind of lackluster in the key tools that will make or break the talent of a player, and will likely just lead to some frustration with missions. Maybe some hair-pulling, but mostly frustration. It’s also not your most squeaky-clean fighting game–like in literally any fighter, females are decked up in skimpy outfits, with the exception of one character that is literally butt-naked on screen. Some unexpected swearing levels occur, and all the game’s bangs and pows can lead to action that can cover the entire screen, which is both a blessing and a curse. The missions also seem well-nigh impossible in later stages, jumping difficulties way faster than we can comprehend them. Much like in gameplay like, what, Diddy Kong Racing, the premises of the game can get quickly old. It’s really the humor, characters, and styling that forms the soft, gooey center of the game. Everything else–well, I hope you haven’t broken your sweet teeth.

 0 out of 5 – Educational value – The game is meant to entertain, not educate.

 0 out of 5 – Positive messages – Not much positive messaging–unless you believe violence actually is the answer.

1 out of 5 – Positive role models – Some of the femme fatales talk about maintaining “strong womanhood” and refusing to let male characters discount them due to their gender–but then again, have you seen what these people are wearing?

 2 out of 5 – Ease of play – The controls are easy to grasp–if they just made the learning curve a bit less steep. In Street Fighter, you were treated to easy controls like “roll-forward/back” motions, or “Z” or “circle” motions. In this world, they break literally everything down. You might be taught how to do a Hadoken by it saying (down, down-at-a-right-angle, forward), but you realize you’re just rolling forward when you do the move! And how about those people who have literally way too many moves? Moves branching from other moves that themselves branched from other moves, it’s all just a big mind game. Sometimes, specific combos must be performed through an arduous series of button-pressing.

3 out of 5 – Violence – As this is a fighting game, yes it does carry a lot of pows and ows. But this game specializes in weaponry-of-choice like guns, blades, explosives, and fireballs, but not a single drop of blood is spilled. And it might be a bit worse considering these battles are 3-on-3. Even worse than “a bit worse”, all three fighters on a team can combine for one “Crossover Combination” on this one unlucky victim. As I’ve said, the action can get so out of hand that you can even lose track of the characters. But it doesn’t really leave as much marks as series like Mortal Kombat did–instead, defeated players are deemed “down”, not dead. Even more violence is depicted, shown, and foreshadowed in characters’ endings.

 3 3/4 out of 5 – Inappropriate Content – Females wear some of the skimpiest in-game clothing you’ll find around, and you might see a lot of cleavage. But there’s one character known as Felicia (from Darkstalkers) that is practically the reason behind the game’s “partial nudity” label. If you were to see her, you would see that she was literally in the buff–except for some white skintight material that keeps only her most sensitive parts covered. But despite this most of her “junk in the trunk” is visible. And get this–she’s forty years old in human years! Also, a female character named Morrigan is shown pole-dancing for Wolverine in his ending.

2 3/4 out of 5 - Language – Definitely more crass than your typical fighter. “Damn”, “hell”, “b*tch”, and “a*s” are the four most commonly uttered words you’ll find in the “trash talking” that occurs before the fight. Some characters continue to utter these words in situations like a missed throw.

4 out of 5 – Product Placement – This game is a Marvel-Capcom crossover with tons of characters, some you may not have even known existed. If you were to learn about them in their bios, you’d actually be able to see their origins of comics or games.

0 out of 5 – Drinking, Drugs, and/or Smoking – This aspect is not featured in-game.

………………………

Play-Again Ratio: A (4 points)

Smarts: C+ (2.5 points)

Fun: A- (4 points)

Style: B (3 points)

Humor: A (4 points)

Entertainment: A (4 points)

FINAL SCORE: 21.5 out of 30 (Well Done), 3.5 stars out of 5, 79% out of 100%

CONSENSUS: Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has the roster, the action, the controls, and the excitement that any standard fighter would, but the biggest problems with the game is that it plays dirty and it plays hooky with the typical rulebook–which differentiates it from the rest both for better and for worse.

………………………………………………

Well, I guess that’s for the kickoff of season ’13 here on Sammwak. Comment me any games that got you putting your game face on, and you could be responsible for our next review! If you prefer putting in more nostalgic and old-school games, I suggest you hop on over to 2S2M for that–we already just kicked off our new old-school game reviewing series, Insert Coin! Check out our series premiere here where I review one of history’s most timeless games–Ocarina of Time!

http://2sam2mwak.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/insert-coin-ocarina-of-time/

Stay button-pressing America,

~S~ 8-)

Video of the Week: I don’t know if any of you have heard about this, but there’s a new show on Cartoon Network that’s gonna be hitting the primetime in exactly three weeks. It’s called Nick Cannon’s Incredible Crew, or just Incredible Crew for short. If you missed the one-hour series preview back on the 31st –aka “Incredible Crew Year’s Eve”–you’re not out of luck. I got a special treat for you that wasn’t in the preview at all, and it’s directly from the official cartoonnetwork channel. It stars Crew member Jeremy Shada–who’s also done work on the Network as the voice of Adventure Time‘s Finn–in a sweet 2-minute music video about his after-school trip with his mom to run errands at the bank, salon, and to pick up his little sister at ballet. All this is interpreted in a sweet rap that is catchy, innovative, and vibrant. And you ain’t seen nothing yet from Incredible Crew, so check out the series premiere on January 24th at 8/7c–only on Cartoon Network!

3RD ANNUAL SAMMWAK CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR SPECIAL


Hey guys it’s Sam from the future, and I just want to apologize once again for the whole malware alert fiasco on Google Chrome. I made edits on most of the gaming sections of the post and it is now 100% officially available for all to see. I know this may have come up a bit late, and I can’t wish you a merry Christmas now, but definitely have a happy new year! See you in a few, America!

~S~ 8-) (Sent from the future on 12/29/12)

……………………………………………….

Hey guys it’s Sam, and welcome to our third annual Sammwak Christmas/New Year special! But let’s start out with the Christmas half. There’s that one month of the year where the snow falls and temperature drops, but cheer rises. Yep, it’s the month of December, which means the month of Christmas. Most people believe the 24th and 25th are the two days where you hope Santa Claus will come and make your entire year worthwhile, but that’s not even the true meaning of it. It’s actually just a big birthday party for Jesus Christ, as the holiday is actually the “season finale” for Advent, as well as the beginning of the 12 days of Christmastide. (Yeah, I spelled it right, it’s not “Christmastime”.) But anyway, let’s get our party pumping with a nice spin on our trademark Christmas carol…”(Sammwak Wants You To) Deck the Halls 2012″!

Deck the halls with seas of presents,

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.

‘Tis the season to be goody,

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.

Santa’s coming, so please be good, or he’ll give you a big lump of coal!

One day a year is this jolly

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-LA!

Oh, I also planned to have some SpongeBob in there, so here ya go.

Oh, and here’s a cool song my English Plus class listened to the other day. Here’s the lyrics if you want to partake in a Minecraft Christmas Sing-Along! And since it’ll take too long to go through every word in the entire song, let’s do just the 12th day and work our way down the list of items.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my Steve gave to me,

twelve iron shovels,

eleven tasty cookies,

ten dancing zombies,

nine little saplings,

eight shiny diamonds,

seven golden apples,

six Ender chests,

FIVE GOLDEN PANTS!

four tasty cakes,

three anvils,

two diamond picks,

and a Creeper hissing at me!

Now for some tips to throw a great Christmas party!

  • Book a date. As December moves, people get busier by the second, so it’s good to have a date ready.
  • Send out invitations in late November or early December. This way you can drain out how many people to expect, and remember that this is RSVP only.
  • Plan your eateries in advance. Are you gonna host a relaxed buffet, or a more sit-down meal? Scrawl down your ideas on the shopping list and stick to them. Prepare as much as possible the day before the party, and make things easy and simple—-the last thing you’d want to do is be slaving your own self in the kitchen while guests are having a good time. Some good recommendations to fulfill hungers are cookies, cookies, and more cookies.
  • Welcome guests upon arrival. Be sure to make your guests feel good, and greet them at the door. Take their coats and escort them to the party area. Make introductions if guests aren’t acquainted with one another and strike the conversation. Arrange drinks to hand out to your guests, and the real icebreaker comes for shy guests.
  • Play music. The perfect formula to setting moods fast. Be sure to cook up a few CDs beforehand, but play it at a sustainable volume, since people will want to chat.
  • Host games (optional decision). The most classic party games in the book, like charades, are perfect for Christmas parties. More sophisticated get-togethers can host adult games, but just in case, have plenty of writing utensils, papers, and balloons.
  • Have fun! Don’t feel uncomfortable at the party. Your guests will be looking at you to set the mood, you being the host/hostess. If you lead the way of a fun time, all will follow.
  • Give the kids something to enjoy! Especially if you have children at your party, let them have friends invited. Give the kids something to do that will keep them entertained for a sustainable duration, so keep them busy.

………………………………………

If you prefer some “picks for popcorn” to satisfy your yuletide needs, check out some of my most favored holiday flick picks!

Golden Tomato Award winner for Best-Reviewed Animated Film of 2011

“…a clever and earnest holiday film with surprising emotional strength” – Rotten Tomatoes

“Fabulous, funny holiday movie about the Christmas spirit” – Common Sense Media

In her film directing debut, Sarah Smith gives us arguably one of the best–if not the best–Christmas film released to theaters in years. The story revolves around Santa Claus’s titular yet maladroit son Arthur Christmas as he gets caught in the middle of yet another gift-giving spree on Christmas Eve. However, not even Santa’s high-tech ship has delivered every present that needed to be delivered, as Arthur realizes that one girl’s present has been left behind. In one of the wildest, riskiest, and craziest journeys yet, Arthur and his comrades must race against the clock to deliver the lone present and save Christmas. The film ended up grossing almost $150 million–$50 million more than the film’s actual budget. But hey, don’t be nervous because it didn’t win commercially. Grab your family and friends and check out how it can  really bring the “tide” back into “yuletide”…

2010 Kids Choice Award winner for Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie (Jim Carrey)

2010 Kids Choice Award nominee for Favorite Animated Movie

36th Saturn Award nominee for Best Animated Feature

Common Sense Media Editor’s Pick

“…dazzling special effects…an array of fine performances from Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman” – Rotten Tomatoes

“an exhilarating visual experience” – The Chicago Sun-Times

“a marvelous and touching yuletide toy of a movie” – Entertainment Weekly

From the director from some of history’s most groundbreaking films–Forrest Gump,the Back to the Future trilogy, and The Polar Express–comes one of the most unique animated holiday films of all time. Presented completely in motion-capture animation, Robert Zemeckis’ take on A Christmas Carolstars, as always, the cold and gluttonous Ebenezer Scrooge. In 1843, Scrooge shows true hatred for everything related to Christmas or even happiness itself, refusing to attend his nephew’s Christmas party and forcing his employee Bob Cratchit to beg to take the day off. That night, Scrooge gets an unexpected visit by the spirit of his former partner-in-business Jacob Marley whom had passed a week prior on Xmas Eve, now having to carry heavy chains forged from his greed throughout his afterlife. Marley gives off a premonition that Scrooge will be haunted by three spirits that will guide him to finally repent and prevent an even worse fate than himself. Indeed, Scrooge is haunted by the three ghosts Marley had foretold–the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come. Through the spirits Scrooge witnesses visions of how he became the man he is now, the ways he will corrupt others, and–if he really doesn’t cooperate–even his own fate…

1995 Kids Choice Award nominee for Favorite Movie Actor (Tim Allen)

“…firmly rooted in the sort of good old-fashioned holiday spirit missing from too many modern yuletide films” – Rotten Tomatoes

“Heartwarming family tale for both kids and adults” – Common Sense Media

Imagine this: one night you cause Santa Claus to fall from your rooftop to his demise and you and your son must finish St. Nick’s gift deliveries, then you travel to the North Pole where you realize–much to your surprise–that you must actually become the real Santa Claus himself and, under the power of the Santa Clause, convince his loved ones that he truly is Father Christmas himself. But you’re not impersonating Santa, you’re slowly becoming him–you’re growing white hairs, you’re adding weight, etc. Well, that’s basically the entire concept of The Santa Clause. In director John Pasquin’s first collab with Allen since his days on TV with Home Improvement, this fictitious fantasia hosts Allen’s first real primetime trip to the big screen after working a minor role in 1989′s Tropical Snow and is sure to be a family hit for both the hilarity and the heart-warming it has to offer. And if you don’t think so, then ho ho ho boy, you’ve got some work to do! (Bonus: If you want to, consider the movie’s two sequels Santa Clause 2 and Santa Clause 3.)

Title-holder of history’s highest-grossing comedy film as of 2009

1990 Oscar nominee for Best Original Score (composed by John Williams) and Best Original Song (“Somewhere In My Memory”)

1991 Kids Choice Award winner for Favorite Movie

“a good-natured, albeit unrealistic, family film that both kids and adults will enjoy” – Common Sense Media

This is easily the most classic yuletide comedy in the book, the one movie that skyrocketed star Macaulay Culkin’s film career, and one that will always live in my heart. In this hilarious hijink, the McCallister family is preparing to spend their Christmas in Paris, but forget one tiny detail: Kevin, whom is one of the two sons. Now home alone, Kevin finds himself to experience true freedom by pigging out and watching mature films, but after an unexpected visit by the Chicago Police Department Kevin gets an even worse scenario where his house is under the besiege of two dangerous thieves…dangerously dull, that is. Once Kevin realizes he has to defend his home if he wants to emerge as the victor of the fight, he begins organizing an increasingly clever series of booby traps that the burglars mindlessly continue to fall victim to. That’s pretty much the entire film, but that premise alone–and how the film’s director, also responsible for Gremlins and Mrs. Doubtfire, pulled it off–grossed the movie an overall revenue of almost $500 million! No wonder it’s the highest-grossing comedy of all time!

2004 ASCAP Award winner for Top Box Office Films

2004 Golden Trailer winner for Best Comedy

2004 Blimp Award nominee for Favorite Movie

2004 MTV Movie Award nominee for Best Comedic Performance (Will Ferrell)

2004 PFCS Award nominee for Best Live Action Family Film and Best Use of Previously Published or Recorded Music

2004 Teen Choice Award nominee for Choice Movie Actor (Will Ferrell) and Choice Movie – Comedy

2005 Golden Satellite Award nominee for Best Youth DVD

Common Sense Media Editor’s Pick

“A movie full of Yuletide cheer…a spirited, good-natured family comedy…benefits greatly from Will Ferrell’s funny and charming performance as one of Santa’s biggest helpers” – Rotten Tomatoes

“Peppy holiday favorite for both kids and parents” – Common Sense Media

In Will Ferrell’s first primetime starring role for a family film, he portrays Buddy, a man raised among Santa’s elves whom discovers that in actuality he is the son of a father named Walter who likes in NYC and is on Santa’s naughty list. Ditching the North Pole to find his dad, Buddy only incorporates what he’s learned among the elves and elflike, which makes Buddy a snowflake decoration master and gives him expectations to the best from everyone. Which, in case you’re wondering, aren’t really crucial skills in the Big Apple. Buddy’s dad, who’s in the publishing industry, is slipping on thin ice because he needs to find a successful children’s book by Christmas Eve. Despite being skeptical that Buddy is his son, after a DNA test Walter finally accepts Buddy and brings him home to meet Walter’s wife and second son. However at Gimbel’s, Buddy stumbles across a pretty lass named Jovie. On his way to saving the holidays and creating happy endings for all from the North Pole to NYC, Buddy gets lots of opportunities to do idiotically fun activities as he experiences what the Big Apple has to offer, as well as getting more in touch with Jovie and her family.

…………………………

That’s enough movies for one special! Now, in reference to this year’s Halloween special, let’s tune in some of your favorite TV show’s efforts in making their viewers’ Christmases a very merry and holly jolly one! But before I tell you that, I need to tell you about the campaigning some of my fave channels have been doing. Cartoon Network has definitely got in the habit, changing their trademark jingle to fit the yuletide mood and even hosting the Naughty Or Nice Christmas event:

And Disney XD has also gotten in a yuletide mood, introducing their new “Shiver-Vision” campaign to support them kinda like how Disney Channel’s “Monstober” campaign kicks in for Halloween.

Now, let’s get to that TV!

Oh, Christmas Nuts!” from Kickin’ It - Yep, even the Wasabi Warriors celebrate Christmas. But Jack, Milton, and Jerry are more interested in getting presents from Santa than unlocking the true yuletide spirit, so Rudy makes the trio volunteer at “Santa’s village” for activities like gift-wrapping and the snowball toss. However, their intentions backfire when they are framed for stealing a bag of gifts from the village and become “the kids who stole Christmas”, becoming banned from the mall and the dojo. The three desperately attempt to show their innocence, targeting an elf named Tinsel, when they discover a shocking secret about the village’s wrapping paper that might just prove they’re not guilty. In the meantime, Eddie and Kim participate in the ultimate “fight before Christmas” by showing off their window displays in a contest full of envy and competition.

The Christmas Special” by Regular Show - For this simplistically titled half-hour holiday special, you might be wondering, “What’s the park doing to celebrate Christmastime?” Well, of course throwing a huge Christmas party! Unfortunately, at the same time Santa himself is getting himself in a lot of trouble. One of his own elves, Quillgin, has betrayed him and now they are fighting to what seems to be the death over a gift box. The clash ends suddenly when Quillgin fires three bullets into Santa and causes him to fall out of his sleigh, taking the box with him. He ends up making a crash landing in Skips’ garage, where Mordo and Rigs discover him while going out to get more drinks for the party. After being skeptical Santa proves to them he is not a scam by reciting the two’s Christmas wishes about invisibility cloaks, and he informs them about his purpose and why the gift box is so important. When opened, the box grants its bearers with what they want most–and it accepts anything, even the worst of occurrences. Worse yet, the gift can only be destroyed when thrown into a pit of lava, which means nothing like a chainsaw or a hammer can even dent it. The pair, now having gotten the rest of their comrades into believing their story, travel with Santa to East Pines to drop off the box in an abandoned mineshaft. However, when Rigby commits an act of vandalism by playing with the park’s snowman, they are held as captors by none other than their worst enemy–Gene. Initially Gene does not believe them, stating that they’re trying to pull a yuletide prank because Benson was mad about the quality of his sweater, but after discovering the box’s true powers he gives in. Gene manages to give the gang a ride to the mineshaft on snowmobiles, and warns the gang about a series of booby traps before heading away. It turns out that before they can get to the pit, they must go through three trials that are not as treacherous as the last…

Christmas” from The Amazing World of Gumball - As the series’ first episode to have a name without “the” in it, Elmore’s Christmas special is obviously a very special one. In what seems to be a reference to The Santa Clause, the Wattersons accidentally hit a filthy bum whom apparently looked strikingly like Santa. When they rush the stranger to the hospital, Richard worries that he will be on the naughty list and decides to do a few impromptu deeds that only manage to wreck the hospital. After Richard’s hospital havoc, the doctor finally gives the family the diagnosis of the situation: the stranger has no ID, no memory, clearly no chances of being Santa, but he does have one thing–he must be cared for by those who caused pain to him in the first place. The family definitely goes overboard with their planning, as Richard surrenders everything he owns to “Santa”, Nicole goes out of her way to ensure that everything “Santa”‘s  filthy fingers touch will be put in their place, and the family even takes “Santa” to the mall and replaces him with the mall Santa…

It’s A SpongeBob Christmas!” from SpongeBob – Remember back in 2000, during SpongeBob‘s second season, when “Christmas Who?” came out and literally redefined Nick’s ways to make a Christmas special? Well twelve years have passed since that, and seemingly to celebrate the success of the original SpongeBob Christmas special, Nick came back with something even bigger. And by big, we mean they took Bikini Bottom, turned it into stop motion inspired by the timeless Rankin/Bass specials, and added several songs to the mix. Yep, that’s a true SpongeBob Christmas. And this Christmastime definitely differs from the rest, as Plankton has his biggest scheme yet to both ruin the happiest day of the year for Bikini Bottom and all its Bikini Bottomites, as well as make himself look good for Santa to put on his nice list and deliver to him what he desires most–the secret Krabby Patty formula. And how does such an evil mastermind do that? Well, after thirteen years of failure Plankton has definitely taken notes, as his new plan is creating…fruitcakes? But these aren’t just any fruitcakes, these are fruitcakes laced with jerktonium, an element “fresh from the periodic table” as “Jt” that can make any consumer become the meanest and nastiest jerk of all. Pretty soon, Plankton spreads his baked horrors across the city and slowly turns everyone Bikini Bottomite around into a jerk. Every single one except SpongeBob. Apparently, his yuletide love is so strong not even jerktonium can reach his heart, so thanks to this Plankton has created a Plan B that will take SpongeBob’s Christmas cheer and crush it–a metallic Sponge-Bot that will impersonate the real being. With SpongeBob curious as to how the city’s gone mad–literally–he visits a cranky Sandy where he finally discovers the secret to the fruitcake’s power…

Note: This episode contains one major error–when in Sandy’s treedome SpongeBob does not wear his water helmet and is perfectly fine in air for some reason–the stop motion likely made it tough to create a helmet for his head, let alone having it stay on.

A Fairly Odd Christmas” from The Fairly OddParents - Now, this isn’t exactly what you’d call a TV episode, but rather a TV movie. But I still consider this a Christmas special, and it still technically is in the show’s canon. In this riveting holiday Odd Movie sequel to Grow Up, Timmy Turner, Timmy is traveling round the world with his girlfriend Tootie and his fairies. While on this magical trek the foursome are granting wishes for the people they meet, but Santa discovers that with these granted wishes Timmy’s customers automatically get removed from Santa’s nice list. After confrontation with a pair of elves, Santa directly explains to Timmy the true meaning behind “with great power comes great responsibility”. But at that very moment an elf informs Santa that the gift wrapping machine has broken, and when Timmy unwittingly decides to grant Santa’s wish, his fairy magic malfunctions and turns into a blast that sends Santa sailing into the machine. Worse yet, he suffered a blow to the head on the way in, and he has suffered brain damage. Luckily, Timmy’s beefcake companion Jorgen arrives and tells him–once again foreshadowing The Santa Clause–that he must become Santa since all godchildren must take the place of a holiday icon they have been damaged to the point where they can’t do their job. Unfortunately, Timmy can’t become Santa due to being on his naughty list, and Timmy’s fairy friends can’t do squat about it since the planet’s magnetic polarity at the North Pole invalidates this type of magic…

Note: This is Drake Bell’s second starring role to a Nick show’s Christmas special in the form of a TV movie. The first was Merry Christmas, Drake & Josh.

Mr. Claus” and “Mr. Elf” from Mr. Young - If you couldn’t already infer, this is indeed another reference to The Santa Clause. After Derby’s planned prank goes wrong, Santa ends up falling from his sleigh on Christmas Eve and his hard landing knocks out his memory! So now Adam, Derby, Ivy, Echo, and Slab must deliver the rest of Santa’s gifts to the entire world in just one sleigh! Unfortunately, upon coming back they discover something shocking about Santa that changes the entire Christmas for them. As for “Mr. Elf”, Santa is also a centric character in this episode as Adam takes a reindeer to the North and convinces Santa to automate the work, but now must care for all the unemployed elves. I know it doesn’t make any sense, but then again this episode has only aired in Canada…

Silent Punch, Deadly Punch” from Randy Cunningham - Norrisville’s favorite ninja is back to kick some yuletide butt, and he is looking for the Skunk Pine so his smoke bombs can be restocked. When Randy does find the Pine, it is stolen by Hannibal McFist to use as a Christmas tree for a party at McFist Industries. After discovering that Howard is also at Hannibal’s party when his company was bought by his industries, Randy disguises as a ninja Santa to infiltrate the party and restock his bombs. Even if it means fighting robo-elves and a robo-snowman…

Generic Holiday Special” and “Orange Carol” from Annoying Orange - Yep, Nerville and his flock of fruits have definitely got their hands full of yuletide spirit. But they have so much of it, they couldn’t cram it all into one episode–they had to knife chop it into two! Their first episode was the show’s first “generic holiday special”, highlighting things like how the Easter Bunny makes his eggs (ewww), Passion Fruit’s plan to outdo Orange’s “new friend”, as well as some celebrity appearances. And not celebrity appearances as big as the Rock Candy Monster (although he does nonetheless appear), these are actual celebrities–people like “Weird Al” Yankovic, Bret Michaels, and Alice Cooper, to be exact! Oh, there’s also famous vegetable guitarist Squash in there. But as for “Orange Carol”, it sounds pretty much 100% as it seems–Orange’s levels of annoyance have slowly begun to upset his fruity friends as they go Christmas caroling, and even Nerville has been infuriated to the point where he bans Orange from the group of carolers. But as he naps, he is visited by three spirits who will one way or another show him the errors of his ways. The first spirit is the Ghost of Annoyances Past (aka Midget Apple), who shows him how annoying he’s been for the past few Christmases. The second spirit is the Ghost of Annoyances Present (aka Pear), who shows him how his friends are doing without him around. And the third and final spirit is the Ghost of Annoyances Future (aka Marshmallow), who shows him how corrupted his future will be if he continues to be so annoying…

…………………………………………..

But of course, I’d be a cold-blooded and cold-hearted blogger if I didn’t talk about the tragedy that occurred exactly a week ago. All was well on the 14th of December for Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT. Almost 500 kids had enrolled in the school between kindergarten and fourth grade, and it seemed to be a pretty basic day…or so everyone thought. At exactly 9:35 in the morning, 20-year old Adam P. Lanza had just committed matricide and was driving his mom’s car to Sandy Hook, where he broke through a glass door at the front of the school. Sporting apparel fresh out of Battlefield, Lanza spent the 14 minutes he was inside the school shooting every child and teacher in sight. Lanza ended up robbing the lives of twenty children and six adults at Sandy Hook before committing suicide with a headshot as soon as police authorities arrived. Add all that up with Lanza’s mother, and a total of 28 people lost their lives0 in the shooting. Despite the number the Sandy Hook shooting ranks as the second-deadliest shooting in America (behind the Virginia Tech massacre of 2007) as well as the second-deadliest mass murder at an elementary school in the US (behind the 1927 Bath School bombings). Enough gruesome details, let’s just dive into “moment of silence mode” to honor and remember those who were put to rest last Friday. Yes, from bystanders to heroes.

  • Charlotte Bacon (6)
  • Daniel Barden (7)
  • Olivia Engel (6)
  • Josephine Gay (7)
  • Dylan Hockley (6)
  • Madeleine Hsu (6)
  • Catherine Hubbard (6)
  • Chase Kowalski (7)
  • Jesse Lewis (6)
  • Ana Marquez-Greene (6)
  • James Mattioli (6)
  • Grace McDonnell (6)
  • Emilie Parker (6)
  • Jack Pinto (6)
  • Noah Pozner (6)
  • Caroline Previdi (6)
  • Jessica Rekos (6)
  • Avielle Richman (6)
  • Benjamin Wheeler (6)
  • Allison Wyatt (6)
  • Rachel D’Avino (29, teacher’s aid)
  • Dawn Hochsprung (47, principal)
  • Anne Marie Murphy (52, teacher’s aid)
  • Lauren Rousseau (30, teacher)
  • Mary Sherlach (56, school psychologist)
  • Victoria Leigh Soto (27, teacher)
  • Nancy Lanza (52, Lanza’s mother/killed at home)

“We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”

- Barack Obama in one of his many speeches addressing the Sandy Hook shooting

As you can see in my little blockquote, the shooting has triggered swarms of shock, surprise, and most of all grief across the country and even most of the world. It has gotten tons of reactions from people who took the gratitude to remember those who were put to the big nap in this tragedy. Smosh didn’t even release their usual Friday video one week because of the shooting! Luckily, I think all this was satisfied when practically all the artists and coaches on The Voice banded together to sing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” with an array of lit candles organized to set the mood. Each artist and coach held a card which bore the name of a young victim in the shooting and their age. Here, it makes a lot more sense if you see it for yourself. (By the way this has over 4.4 million hits, so consider it viral.)

……………………………….

And since you know how much of a Jolly Good Bookie I am–that’s right, I am the Bookie–let’s count down this year’s best and worst books of the year!

As I said before, and will say again, I’d be daft if I didn’t mention the first three Sisters Grimm books as some of my books of the year. I don’t know how Michael Buckley pulls it off, whether or not he has some sort of “magic touch” when it comes to writing. He has the humor, adventure, action, surprises, excitement, charm, awesomeness, character, fantasy incorporation, and about a million other things that made the original Sisters Grimm trilogy nothing less than a flawless hit. (Wow, I think someone would ought to say this about Ocarina of Time.) When I first read Fairy-Tale Detectives, all I recognized Buckley for was his NERDS series, which I had eventually gotten quite fond of. But as I read the book, it slowly changed my perspective of the fantasy genre itself, and when I put the book down I was almost itching to get the sequel. A few weeks or months later (remember people, this is an entire school grade ago, so I can’t recall much detail) I eventually got the second installment via “on-hold” and read that through like I’d read the first one. In a rather dimwitted act, I got so antsy for that book that I checked out both the third and fourth installments to try and hold me off. Unfortunately, I didn’t read a chapter of either books since I knew it wouldn’t make any sense, and simply refused to treat a series like this. Luckily when I read the third book, it blew its previous installments out of the water. And to this day, although I’m still waiting for my time with the fourth installment to come–I keep having dreams about it–let’s just honor the original trilogy in the meantime. Especially with our Fantasy Books of the Year honor.

Now, I bet you’re wondering, “Oh, of course Sam would put City of Ember as one of the top books.” Well, actually, I’ve got a pattern going on. I list a good book, and then I list a bad book. And as I already listed Sisters Grimm as a good book, then City of Ember inevitably has to be the bad book. Now I bet you’re shocked, flabbergasted, thinking I’m all hypocritical. But actually, City of Ember only messes up on the small problems that predictably grow bigger throughout the story. Speaking of story, the book’s storyline isn’t half bad: in a post-apocalyptic world, the city of Ember has reached its 240th year of existence and seems to be in more eroding condition each year. The lightbulbs that serve as the city’s only light source are beginning to die out, resulting in blackouts that terrify the entire city, but two kids will get to the bottom of it. Doon Harrow and Lina Mayfleet, to be exact. On Assignment Day–it’s sort of like a holiday where each young Emberite (I know it’s not a word, but it sounds right) receives a job requiring work around the city–Lina is given the dreaded job of Pipeworks laborer. Doon, however, gets the best job of all–the messenger–and shockingly turns it down. Eventually Doon convinces Lina to swap jobs with him, as Doon is interested in the Pipeworks due to them bearing Ember’s generator. Seems cool, huh? Not when awkward storyline and clunky perspective and dialogue get in the way. These are basically what makes City of Ember that much farther away from its true goal, and this is kind of sad to say. Ember had a great storyline and plenty of potential, but its problems in general prose is what corrupted the book. And it got turned into one of the most mediocre movies of 2008, as well as one of the year’s biggest box office failures. That’s corruption itself. Let’s give this book a Sci-Fi Miss of the Year honor just to accentuate the book’s imperfections.

You’ve probably never heard of this book. And that’s what makes it that much better. Paul Feig’s groundbreaking children’s literature debut, Ignatius MacFarland: Frequenaut!, practically takes modern science fiction and gives it his own unique twist. And as he was the true main man behind the notorious Nickelodeon show Freaks and Geeks, it wasn’t a surprise Feig didn’t back down in humor. In fact, all of Feig’s charm, adventure, action, and prose skills were conglomerated in this one novel, and it had an equally impressive storyline to go with it. You see–well, let’s just use the description I had in our last INSANE.

” As the titular star of the book, Ignatius “Iggy” MacFarland, achieves both. The premise of the story revolves around Iggy being the center of lots of teases and laughs from the meaner kids at his school (an example being “Piggy MacFartland”), and when he reaches the last straw he decides to do something that even Neil Armstrong considers bizarre. (Or should I say, considered, due to Neil’s passing earlier this year in August. Long live the man who showed us that it was possible to literally moonwalk. :cry: ) Iggy actually builds a rocket ship that he plans to launch to send him (and his friends Gary and Ivan) into outer space to another planet. Iggy has the metaphor that hopefully the extraterrestrials will be more nice to him, but when something horrible happens with his ship–with him inside–he is somehow blasted to…well, not outer space, but a parallel reality or “frequency” known as Lesterville. (And here’s where the science fiction comes in…)

At this twisted dystopian version of the real world, Iggy discovers a strange race of humans and their even stranger language (made up of the mere “puh” and “pah”), and discovers that the entire frequency is ruled by a man known as Chester Arthur–Iggy’s English teacher! He has now become the frequency’s dictator/president, and literally every brand in sight has been affected with Arthur’s name. Arthur Potter by J.K. Arthling, Artbucks, Art Wars: The Artpire Strikes Back, Art of the Rings, The Artfather Parts I and II, even Spider-Art, for Art’s sake! (Oh great, now they got me doing it.) In this frequency, Iggy meets Karen (another Earthling) who becomes his companion in solving the mystery of Lesterville and defeating this version of Mr. Arthur–and hopefully they can return home with their skins. Oh, there’s also a flying fairy-like girl in the story named Foo, which you could consider his second companion.”

I finished it a while ago, and it turned out to be one of the greatest sci-fi novels I’ve read since War of the Worlds. So with all this smashed together, it’s not a big mystery why I should give this my Sci-Fi Book of the Year honor.

Now, Dan Gutman’s always had a special place in the book section of my heart. From his Million DollarWeird School, and Homework Machine sagas to some of his standalones like Getting Air and Get Rich Quick Club, he’s always nourished his abilities with humor to fuel his prose. But this–I think he was still experimenting his writing skills with this one. I’m not saying that to insult the book, this is actually his second sci-fi book (after They Came from Centerfield, which is actually Gutman’s fiction debut) and arguably his most creative and unique one yet. It basically revolves around a boy named Lucas “Yip” Turner, named after George Lucas and nicknamed after Yip Harburg (responsible for the music from Wizard of Oz). Yip’s family is engulfed in film special effects–his father is a modern VFX expert while his grandpa is a more old-school junkie in horror film effects. One day, Mr. Turner introduces brand-new software that can create virtual actors to take the places of stunt doubles (known as “vactors”), so Yip and his sister create a vactor of their own. This vactor goes by the name of “Victor” (get it?), and he is pretty much intellectually, physically, mentally, and emotionally perfect. To sum all this up, Victor fulfills the book’s title of being “virtually perfect”. However, Yip makes a deal with Vic–if Yip could let Vic break the barriers of cyberspace and enter the real world, Vic could let Yip break the barriers of the real world and enter cyberspace. However, Yip realizes that the software–and Vic–have bugs, and soon Vic turns against his owner. Which is actually one of the most humdrum plots I’ve seen this year.

This is basically the exact same plot as the DCOM Pixel Perfect (see the similarities already?), except it’s put in a book. “Unfortunately, there were lots of bumps in the book, from prose to premises. And not even its endless consumerism mentioning can stop VIRTUALLY PERFECT from several death-defying imperfections.” That was my Google Books review, by the way. And I think you can tell that this is our Sci-Fi Flop of the Year already.

Historical Fiction Book of the Year. Nuff said.

Take the Boxcar Children‘s humor and character and smash it together with X-Men‘s heroism and action, and and what do you get? Booklist‘s formula for the kickoff to James Patterson’s Maximum Ride, The Angel Experiment. If you paid attention during my Middle School, Worst  Years of My Life review a few Fridays ago, you would know that James Patterson writes much more fantastical series. Witch & Wizard focuses mostly on fantasy, while Maximum Ride is Patterson’s taste of science fiction. Anyway, the book revolves around the flock. Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman, and Angel to be exact. Anyway, these six kids all share an amazing yet at the same time dark secret–as babies they were the test subjects of genetic experimentation, and because of that they became 98% human and 2% bird/avian! And with that 2% avian came their own pair of wings which actually allow them to fly! Unfortunately, the novel doesn’t spend the entire 400 pages with these kids frolicking and partaking in aerial mischief–they’re actually the prey of a fierce manhunt formed by the Erasers, a wolflike species which loves eating up winged kids like the flock for dinner. In fact, the Erasers had abducted the former youngest flock member, Ari, and turned him against his own relatives! The actual plot of the book mainly consists of the Eraser-flock battle, from the Erasers kidnapping Angel to a final subway fight with Ari to serve as the finale of the novel. And in case you didn’t know, that’s what makes the novel so exciting to read and picture [using Dav Pilkey's imagination theory]. Here’s what I had to say about the book in my Google Books review:

“James Patterson proves that his history of action and mystery writing from the 1990s is still intact with this engrossing read. THE ANGEL EXPERIMENT impeccably mixes Patterson’s trademark charm, humor, and action to make for one of the best sci-fi adventures in the past decade. Definitely a recommendation for people who love unique science fiction or don’t like science fiction at all, and for those who are skeptical about the series they can start off with the manga books.”

You don’t even have to read the book for the first hundred pages to see why it’s my Book of the Year.

…………………………………………..

We’ve been through movies, we’ve been through TV, we’ve even been through the Sandy Hook sho–oh, what’s that? You want me to talk about video games now? If you say so! Here’s a highlight retrospective of what’s been happening through the fourth and final quarter of the gaming season!

……………………………………

One of the most anticipated games of the year, Assassin’s Creed III, became Ubisoft’s biggest launching success yet. Its pre-order numbers alone drove both Brotherhood and Revelations‘ ratings into the ground, becoming the company’s most pre-ordered game ever. In its opening week the game topped the UK charts as the bestselling game of the week, boasting the best sales the series has ever seen to date. In fact, AC3 was actually the UK’s second biggest launch of the year only behind FIFA 13, doubling the launching week sales of AC2 and beating Revelations by over 100,000 copies! 3.5 million copies of the game were sold in the game’s first week of release! At the night of this year’s Spike VGAs, it received six award nominations: Game of the Year, Best Xbox 360 Game, Best PS3 Game, Best Action-Adventure Game, Best Graphics, and Character of the Year for Connor Kenway. It also was the centerpiece of plenty of critical acclaim from some of the biggest reviewers out there:

“A resonant story, compelling exploration, and tense oceanic battles make Assassin’s Creed III a rousing success” – GameSpot

“…delivers everything the series has promised, and throws in a little more for good measure” – Game Informer magazine

“…newly refined gameplay and incredibly rich setting are captivating stuff…” – Official Xbox Magazine

“…an impressive adventure that succeeds in most of what it attempts.” – IGN

……………………………………………………………..

Of course, one of the year’s biggest anticipations finally unraveled itself last month, as Nintendo’s entry into the eighth generation of gaming and the first 8th-gen console to date. It already has the pride of its big brothers, the Wii, SNES, and NES, and I believe that it builds much more upon that. It indeed was the Wii U, formerly codenamed as “Project Café”, that I’m talking about. Just a few weeks ago this console finally hit the primetime, boasting jaw-dropping prices of over $300. Surprisingly, the console has already sold over 400,000 units as of December 1! I don’t know whether it’s the console’s backward compatibility with the Wii, or its new services like the Nintendo Network, or even the console-controller design that makes the Wii U so popular. In fact, maybe it’s merely just the games it has to offer! In fact, the Wii U showed both its upsides and downsides with select games that it had on its launch list, and I’m just about to tell you what those games were…

  • New Super Mario Bros. U, the first Mario game for the Wii U or in HD, was  arguably the console’s biggest hit. It was the center of lots of critical acclaim, getting compliments like it being “a great excuse for families to gather round the TV”, “an enticing glimpse of Mario’s HD future”, and that it was “an impressive step in the right direction.” To add to that, it even got luck at this year’s Spike VGAs when it was awarded with the Best Wii/Wii U Game award! And who else to accept the award like the big boss of Nintendo himself, Shigeru Miyamoto? Currently, the game has sold more than 200,000 units with an attachment rate of approximately 60%.
  • On the other hand, the console’s pioneering survival horror ZombiU didn’t do as good. And I could easily tell why–its London zombie apocalypse premise seemed pretty generic and cheesy to me. And to believe this game was supposed to bring back honor and homage to Zombi, Ubisoft’s first-ever game for consoles like the Commodore 64. The game only proceeded to get a mixed share of reviews overall. Reviewers like Eurogamer praised the game for displaying “the success or otherwise of ZombiU could be defining for the Wii U”. Reviewers like Game Informer and IGN strongly criticized the game for having “a clunky control scheme and annoying melee combat” as well as being “sloppy and poorly executed”. Now, if I were to be the tiebreaker of this skirmish, I’d say that the game isn’t an Operation Raccoon City kind of game, nor is it a Left 4 Dead or Walking Dead kind of game.
  • The Wii U’s pack-in game, Nintendo Land, managed to be a hit with most of the game critics out there. Nintendo Land, intended to create a carnival or theme park atmosphere, consisted of twelve minigames/”attractions” that each had roots of an old Nintendo game. Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Animal Crossing, Luigi’s Mansion, and Pikmin were just some of the games that were rooted into the attractions. The game was created mainly to display the quality and functionality of the Wii U and its GamePad, just like how Wii Sports displayed the abilities of the Wii. And look where that game is now–it’s the most bestselling game in history! Now, since Nintendo Land likely couldn’t achieve a prestigious honor like that, it got its run to glory started with plenty of positive reviews. GameSpot gave the game an 8/10 score and said the game had “plenty of family-friendly fun and [made] great use of the Wii U’s capabilities.” IGN was even more positive about the game, giving it an 8.7/10 score–making the game an Editor’s Choice pick–calling the title “the cream of the mini-game crop” and praising its variety and content. GamesMaster gave the game 86% and said it was “an essential purchase for party lovers that whets the Nintendo appetite.” To me, it looks like Wii Sports has met its match. No, seriously, that’s straight from IGN.
  • The Wii U’s first primetime enhanced game, Batman: Arkham City – Armored Edition, made the game look even better than it already is. It’s already won many prestigious titles, awards, honors, and accolades–in fact, so many that it had to release a Game of the Year edition! So how else to praise a good game by enhancing it exclusively on one console to make it even better? And that’s what Armored Edition‘s sole purpose was to do. One of GameSpot’s editors, Carolyn Petit, praised the game from its atmospheric open world to its amazing senses of combat, but only had two problems with the game–BAT mode, as well as the Wii U-specific settings and properties that put “a few chinks in the Caped Crusader’s costume”. IGN, once again, praised the game for the same fields that GameSpot did, and also criticized the game in the same fields that GameSpot did, but this time the game got off the hook with a 9.5/10 score! In fact, Armored Edition is one of the most praised Wii U games out there right now, so it’s definitely worth a glance or two.

…………………………………………………..

This month, Spike hosted its 10th-anniversary Video Game Awards. They got so in the mood that they actually renamed the award show VGA 10 for any purpose involving the anniversary. For his fourth time yet Samuel L. Jackson returned as the show’s host, the show had a first for presenting awards via Xbox Live, and also users could “play” the show while it aired. Audience members and users with Xbox Smartglass got an incomparable 2nd-screen experience that had real-time updates along with the show. And to add to that, Entertainment Weekly and the Spike VGAs banded together to make the show’s first “Entertainment Weekly and Spike VGA Best Game of the Decade” award. That is, in case you’re curious, a very prestigious honor. Many games that won’t be hitting retail until 2013 were debuted at the show in their exclusive world premieres, including South Park: The Stick of Truth, BioShock Infinite, Tomb Raider, and Assassin’s Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington (the game’s first DLC pack). Wolfgang Gartner, Tenacious D, Linkin Park, and the Oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla. For those who want the results of the show and couldn’t see them live, here they are now:

Game of the Year Nominees:

  • Assassin’s Creed III
  • Dishonored
  • Journey
  • Mass Effect 3
  • The Walking Dead

Game of the Year Winner: The Walking Dead

Studio of the Year Nominees:

  • 343 Industries for Halo 4
  • Arkane Studios for Dishonored
  • Gearbox Software for Borderlands 2
  • Telltale Games for The Walking Dead

Studio of the Year Winner: Telltale Games

Character of the Year Nominees:

  • Connor Kenway for Assassin’s Creed III
  • Commander Shepard for Mass Effect 3
  • Master Chief for Halo 4
  • Raul Menendez for Call of Duty: Black Ops II
  • Claptrap for Borderlands 2

Character of the Year Winner: Claptrap

Entertainment Weekly and Spike VGA Best Game of the Decade Nominees:

  • Batman: Arkham City
  • BioShock
  • Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
  • Mass Effect 2
  • Portal
  • Red Dead Redemption
  • Shadow of the Colossus
  • Half-Life 2
  • Wii Sports
  • World of Warcraft

Best Game of the Decade Winner: Half-Life 2

Best Xbox 360 Game Nominees:

  • Assassin’s Creed III
  • Borderlands 2
  • Dishonored
  • Halo 4

Best Xbox 360 Game Winner: Halo 4

Best PS3 Game Nominees:

  • Assassin’s Creed III
  • Journey
  • Borderlands 2
  • Dishonored

Best PS3 Game Winner; Journey

Best Wii/Wii U Game Nominees:

  • The Last Story (Wii)
  • Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)
  • New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U)
  • ZombiU (Wii U)

Best Wii/Wii U Game Winner: New Super Mario Bros. U(by a landslide, I believe neutral)

Best PC Game Nominees:

  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  • Diablo III
  • Guild Wars 2
  • Torchlight II

Best PC Game Winner: XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Best Shooter Nominees:

  • Borderlands 2
  • Max Payne 3
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II
  • Halo 4

Best Shooter Winner: Borderlands 2

Best Action-Adventure Game Nominees:

  • Sleeping Dogs
  • Darksiders II
  • Assassin’s Creed III
  • Dishonored

Best Action-Adventure Game Winner: Dishonored

Best RPG Nominees:

  • Diablo III
  • Torchlight II
  • Mass Effect 3
  • Xenoblade Chronicles

Best RPG Winner: Mass Effect 3

Best Multiplayer Game Nominees:

  • Borderlands 2
  • Guild Wars 2
  • Halo 4
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Best Multiplayer Game Winner: Borderlands 2

Best Individual Sports Game Nominees:

  • Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13
  • WWE ’13
  • SSX

Best Individual Sports Game Winner: SSX

Best Team Sports Game Nominees:

  • Madden NFL 13
  • NHL 13
  • NBA 2K13
  • FIFA 13

Best Team Sports Game Winner: NBA 2K13

Best Driving Game Nominees:

  • DiRT: Showdown
  • F1 2012
  • Forza Horizon
  • Need for Speed: Most Wanted

Best Driving Game Winner: Need for Speed: Most Wanted

Best Song in a Game Nominees:

  • “Castle of Glass” by Linkin Park for Medal of Honor: Warfighter
  • “I Didn’t Ask for This” by Austin Wintory for Journey
  • “Tears” by Health for Max Payne 3
  • “Cities” by Beck for Sound Shapes

Best Song in a Game Winner: “Cities” by Beck

Best Original Score Nominees:

  • Journey by Austin Wintory
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II by Jack Wall
  • Halo 4 by Neil Davidge
  • Max Payne 3 by Health

Best Original Score Winner: Journey by Austin Wintory

Best Graphics Nominees:

  • Halo 4
  • Assassin’s Creed III
  • Dishonored
  • Journey

Best Graphics Winner: Halo 4

Best Indie Game Nominees:

  • Fez
  • Journey
  • Mark of the Ninja
  • Dust: An Elysian Trail

Best Indie Game Winner: Journey

Best Fighting Game Nominees:

  • Dead or Alive 5
  • Persona 4 Arena
  • Street Fighter X Tekken
  • Tekken Tag Tournament 2

Best Fighting Game Winner: Persona 4 Arena

Best Handheld/Mobile Game Nominees:

  • Gravity Rush (handheld)
  • Sound Shapes (handheld)
  • LittleBigPlanet PS Vita (handheld)
  • New Super Mario Bros. 2 (handheld)

Best Handheld/Mobile Game Winner: Sound Shapes

Best Performance by a Human Female Nominees:

  • Jen Taylor as Cortana in Halo 4
  • Emma Stone as Amanda Cartwright for Sleeping Dogs
  • Jennifer Hale as Commander Shepard (female) for Mass Effect 3
  • Melissa Hutchison as Clementine for The Walking Dead

Best Performance by a Human Female Winner: Melissa Hutchison as Clementine

Best Performance by a Human Male Nominees:

  • Dameon Clarke as Handsome Jack for Borderlands 2
  • Dave Fennoy as Lee for The Walking Dead
  • James McCaffrey as Max Payne for Max Payne 3
  • Nolan North as Captain Martin Walker for Spec Ops: The Line

Best Performance by a Human Male Winner: Dameon Clarke as Handsome Jack

Best Adapted Video Game Nominees:

  • The Walking Dead
  • Disney Epic Mickey 2
  • Lego Batman 2
  • Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

Best Adapted Video Game Winner: The Walking Dead

Best DLC Nominees:

  • Mass Effect 3: Leviathan
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Dawnguard
  • Portal 2 – Perpetual Testing Initiative
  • Borderlands 2: Mechromancer Pack

Best DLC Winner: Skyrim – Dawnguard

Best Downloadable Game Nominees:

  • Fez
  • The Walking Dead
  • Journey
  • Sound Shapes

Best Downloadable Game Winner: The Walking Dead

Best Social Game Nominees:

  • Draw Something
  • You Don’t Know Jack
  • SimCity Social
  • Marvel: Avengers Alliance

Best Social Game Winner: You Don’t Know Jack

Most Anticipated Game Nominees:

  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Tomb Raider
  • BioShock Infinite
  • The Last of Us
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth

Most Anticipated Game Winner: Grand Theft Auto V

………………………………………………..

Pretty cool, huh? Unfortunately, this time of year isn’t all for fun and yuletide cheer. I think I’ve made it quite clear on both my blogs that I was a fan of two magazines. One was Game Informer. The other introduced me to reading game magazines themselves (the first actual mag I read was Nick Mag) and did it in such a unique and creative way. Sure, it was centric around just one company, but still. And, of course, that magazine was Nintendo Power. Since summer 1988 it’s been the one, only, and official Nintendo magazine for all Nintendo diehards’ gaming needs. Unfortunately, this August Nintendo revealed heartbreaking news–since they couldn’t renew their licensing agreement with Future Publishing, the magazine would not be making it to 2013.

Oh, come on Peach, don’t be sad. There are plenty of other Nintendo magazines out there!…I think. But then again, this is pretty much the only Nintendo magazine worth caring about. I can’t believe that this mag has to celebrate its 25th anniversary releasing its final issue! Most game series’ 25th anniversaries are times of celebration, but–sorry, I got a bit emotional there. Let’s not waste time trying to force me to give the saddest yuletide speech and let’s take a look at NP‘s final issue’s cover, and how it so gracefully reflects that of the first:

issue

Let’s all “get the power, Nintendo Power” one last time as this great big ship sails into the sunset…or at least, that’s how the magazine described it. :cry:

………………………………….

Now, in the same fashion as last year, let’s get more into the “new year” spirit by introducing something that I’ve never really done before–our Channels of the Year. Not just videos of the week, but in my opinion are the channels that have brought the biggest and best stuff to their home pages for the entire year of 2012. And in addition to that, this might get you anticipated for those of 2013! Now, without further ado, here are the best channels of 2012!

You probably should’ve seen this coming, but indeed Tobuscus ranks among the best channels I’ve seen this year. As the fifteenth highest-subscribed YouTube channel of all time, Tobuscus just keeps getting better and better every year, even if it’s his vlogs we’re talking about! Toby already made a smash at VidCon 2012 (the audience actually sang “Dramatic Song” with him! :D) and got a smash for real in his infamous iPhone 5 breaking. His Minecraft song “I Can Swing My Sword!”, after two thirds of the year, became Toby’s second most-viewed video in history with over 20 million hits! (His literal Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood trailer still leads by five million hits.) Not even that, but I also got in touch with Toby more personally at his official Google+! I know for a fact that under all those pictures he takes of him and his fans, he will always be a humble YouTuber. After all, he does have over 500 million video views. So let’s give him the Veteran of the Year Award.

This is definitely one of the newer channels that I’ve been attracted to: Jacksfilms. Much like Toby, his highest video is at over 20 million hits, but he definitely doesn’t have as much subscribers. In fact, he’s only the 378th highest-subscribed channel. That makes me believes that Jacksfilms definitely wins the Underdog of the Year Award in my book. Jack Douglass, the man behind Jacksfilms, does lots of things from his notorious Your Grammar Sucks series to lots of multi million viewed sketch compilations and parodies. He is one third of the “Sideburns Crew” alongside Toby and fellow YouTuber Sean Klitzner, who collaborate in a number of videos. The most-viewed video involving one of these collabs was “TOBJACKSCUS” which got just over 1 million hits since its launch in May 2011. Some of Jack’s parodies also consist of him merely voicing over other commercials like the ShamWow and Snuggie commercials–ironically and coincidentally, these parodies are his top 2 most viewed videos of all time. Sure, Jack doesn’t impress me with every video he releases, but with the videos he does release with impression comes lots of interest. And it’s pretty cool if you’re friends with almost 20,000 people on YouTube.

The fan art Pewdie.
The real Pewdie.

This is probably one of the most famous YouTube channels out there, let alone within the top-10 most subscribed range, and one of those rare channels that manage to bring something great to the table every single dinner. That was a metaphorical statement, but you know what I mean. Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, better known by his YouTube alias PewDiePie or Pewdie, is a 23-year old YouTuber from Sweden who partakes in playing various video games and uploading his reactions to the web for all to see. Some of these games include Cry of Fear, Happy Wheels, PaRappa the Rapper, Shadow of the Colossus, Just Dance, and–easily his most famous one–Amnesia: The Dark Descent. He is the tenth-most subscribed YouTuber of all time, with over 3 million subscribers for his channel, making his channel one of the few fastest-growing ones on YouTube itself. Because of this, Felix definitely deserves a Man of the House Award. He also calls his subscribers “bros” or “the bro army”, which is accentuated by his tendency to perform a viewer-interactive “brofist” at the end of each video. I mainly take pleasure in watching most of the gaming montages he makes, as well as his Happy Wheels and Amnesia videos as standalones. I love PewDiePie so much because he portrays a very humorous but down-to-earth character that is fueled by curiosity and exaggerated human emotions like fear or sorrow. His real-life persona compared to the kind of persona that he portrays in fan art is very intriguing to witness. Speaking of character, sometimes in the games he plays he gives names and life to certain inanimate objects, and here are some of them:

  • Stephano - Arguably Felix’s primary companion while playing Amnesia. Stephano is a golden statue that Felix has speak in a French accent, and he also carries lots of leadership in his attitude and occasionally yells at Felix for being scared or not noticing a blindsighted clue. Stephano was apparently “born” and his birthday is on August 17, 2011, but I can likely infer that day was the first day he starred in a PewDiePie video. Felix usually sets Stephano down every now and then, but then promptly comes back to get him again. Some of Stephano’s trademark phrases are “Allos Pewdie!”, “You found meh!”, “This way, Pewdes”, or “Follow me, Pewd.” He can also hoarsely whisper whenever he is dropped by surprise or when Felix gets startled.
  • Gonzalez - The evil twin of Stephano, except he is bronze instead of gold which makes him easy to differentiate from Stephano. He often tries to trick Felix into believing he is Stephano, gives him good counsel, and is possibly related to Gonzales from the game Facade (another PewDiePie-played title).
  • Piggeh - Likely Felix’s secondary companion in Amnesia, Piggeh is a dead pig that has a birthday two days after Stephano’s, which somehow makes him older than Piggeh. Piggeh’s usual catchphrase is “I’m pumped!” and his humor is very creepy and satirical with a very wide topic range. He has very fluid movement whenever he is carried by Felix, and often says “You thought I’m a pig? No, I’m a snake.” because of this.
  • Jennifer - A rock that Felix sometimes comes across in Amnesia, and is often criticized for her weight due to being large when discovered. Jennifer actually loves Felix but is almost always rejected by him when he says “You’re too fat, Jennifer” or “I know, you’ve told me 1,000 times already”. Jennifer is one of PewDiePie fangirls’ most sympathized characters as her striving to finally win Felix’s heart seems to be very realistic–for a rock. Currently she does not appear in many videos except when Felix gets a rock thrown at him or is being chased by a rock.
  • Barrels - In Amnesia, barrels are Felix’s mortal enemy. When encountering a barrel or a number of barrels, he usually shouts “Barrels!!!” and proceeds to throw them around. Sometimes he yells at barrels in Swedish (most notably in Cry of Fear) and often comments about its look or what it says on it. One of Felix’s lesser-used companions, Mayo, actually works for the said barrels and Gonzalez often foreshadows that he is in league with the barrels.
  • Vespa - Also known as the Segway in Happy Wheels. When playing as the “Segway Guy” character in the game, he will usually refer to the Segway or any used vehicle as “Vespa”. Through Felix, Segway Guy seems to have emotional attachments or attractions to Vespa sometimes wanting to kiss it or cuddle with it. When he plays as the “Moped Couple” characters the moped is also considered “Vespa”.
  • Farsa/Farsha - What reads of all train destinations in Cry of Fear, and is mainly the moniker he gives to the in-game train(s). Farsa barely shows up but unfortunately committed suicide near the game’s end by driving off a cliff.

Sure, they’re only the 135th most subscribed channel of all time, but they’ve been among the prime YouTube channels to successfully make the Internet-to-TV transition that so many channels have failed to make properly. They are the comedy, filmmaking, music, and advertising duo of Rhett J. McLaughlin and Charles L. “Link” Neal, better known by their combined YouTube alias RhettAndLink. Ever since 2006, a year after YouTube was first born, these two have been working their butts off to make videos for our amusement and pleasure. But they’ve actually been pals since the first grade. On the first day of school in the said grade, the pair were forced to stay inside during recess as a punishment from writing bad words on the desks. When they were assigned to silently color pictures of unicorns, their companionship really sparked. They wrote their first screenplay, Gutless Wonders, at age 14. Coincidentally, they were Wolfpack roomies at the NCSU, where they studied engineering. Some filmmaking lessons and low-budget DIY productions later, they became Rhett and Link itself. But in the first year Rhett and Link became YouTubers (or, as they call themselves, “Internetainers”) they never got a single multi-million hit video. The highest they ever got was 100,000 with their song about velcro. The next year, however, their drive-thru rap video became their first video to exceed a million hits with 3.2 million views. Through 2007 lots of ups and downs went through the channel, with their BBQ song becoming their next multi-million hit and then their “worst commercial ever” becoming the next. You can clearly see that Rhett and Link have not always had it as easy as other more famous YouTubers like Nigahiga or Smosh. But today, they’ve gotten much more innovation, effort, and creativity woven into their videos, their success had led to a clothing line that accompanies their videos, and they have been sponsored by and working with a lot more YouTubers like Orabrush, Tobuscus, MysteryGuitarMan, etc. Because of all this, they definitely deserve an Innovation Constipation of the Year Award and a Diamond Award for being so unique. Some of their most famous videos include:

  • 2 Guys 600 Pillows” or “My Favorite Pillow” – Write a heartwarming song about one’s long-lived affection and feelings for one another. Take six hundred pillows, do crazy things with them, put in lots of backwards video editing and lots of backwards speaking, and even throw in a sponsor from SleepBetter.org, and you have Rhett and Link’s 2011 Webby Award-winning hit of 2010. To add to that, Rhett and Link were nice enough to throw in a bonus video highlighting most of the original video’s secrets as well as throwing in some extra goodies as well.
  • Epic Rap Battle” – The same year “2 Guys 600 Pillows” came out, the pair had also made a rap song made trying to get a restaurant waitress’ attention and affection. Like most of the channel’s songs, the rap contained lots of bizarre things about Rhett and Link that wouldn’t really occur in real life. Here are some examples right here. On the way to work, Rhett carpools a group of third graders and teaches them multiplication tables. Link can apparently speak sentences like “The square root of raspberry should be legalized” in Morse code. Rhett has his own yoga meditation DVD called Mind Reps. Link successfully performed the Heimlich on a horse choking on beef jerky, and it eventually went on to win the Kentucky Derby. Well, you see what I’m trying to say here? And coincidentally, back in September the two released what seems to be a sequel to the video, now centric to their masculinity and manliness, which was entitled “Epic Rap Battle of Manliness“. (And for those of you who are curious and/or skeptical, Rhett and Link were indeed in an Epic Rap Battle of History in case you mistook this one for it. They played the Wright brothers going up against the Mario brothers.)
  • 5-Word Songs” – Occasionally, the two might run out of song ideas and ask their fans what they think they should make a song out of. But here’s the rule–it can not be any more or any less than five words long. Currently there are two ideas that have been found and successfully made into songs: “rub some bacon on it”, and “Nilla Wafer top hat time”. Combined the two have over 3.1 million hits.
  • Good Mythical Morning” – Well, I have two things to say about this that differentiate it from the rest of their videos. 1. This is actually on Rhett and Link’s second channel, RhettAndLink2. And 2. This is not one video, it’s actually an entire show. As the title suggests, Good Mythical Morning (often abbreviated as GMM) is a show that runs every morning on every weekday, from Monday to Friday. Some of the topics discussed on the show include the greatest movie quotes of all time, the strangest name a human can receive, stuff you didn’t know about The Avengers, tips on bear attack and quicksand survival, what makes fire ants special, and if Furbies can really learn anything. It is one of Rhett and Link’s most famous series and their only regularly-airing show to date.
  • Dope Zebra” – What do you do if you take a zebra costume, put two people inside that know how to dance, and make that zebra do the most dope moves around? That’s pretty much the story behind Dope Zebra. Since its release a while ago it has 5.1 million hits, making for one of the channel’s biggest hits. But in a full background story on the video and its conception on an episode of Good Mythical Morning, it was told that the Dope Zebra had arguably become the two’s most famous video character yet. Not only did it get both Dope Zebra and Rhett & Link in the music video for LMFAO’s “Sorry for Party Rocking”, they also appeared on America’s Got Talent! Needless to say, the threesome were buzzed with the dreaded triple X before the Dope Zebra could even lift his hind legs off the ground, but luckily Rhett and Link did not expect to pass to the Vegas round, nor did they actually want to. How modest of them.

……………………………………

Now let’s accentuate our new year celebration by nutshelling all the games you might want to check out!

  • After the first leg of Rayman’s rebirth plan (Rayman Origins) became a success, our limbless lad can continue his new console experimentation with the upcoming Wii U-exclusive Rayman Legends
  • After Lara Croft, one of gaming’s most famous heroines, disappeared from the limelight following 2010′s Guardian of Light, the Crystal Dynamics-Square Enix team reunites once more to bring us Lara’s first series reboot, Tomb Raider
  • After stellar success with the Sims 3 saga, Maxis has finally decided to revive the true genesis of the Sim world in the PC & Mac exclusive SimCity
  • One of the most popular FPS series in history, BioShock, gets a complete makeover from characters to setting in the 20th century-era BioShock Infinite
  • Isaac Clarke’s necromorph-filled bad day continues into a new installment, but now Sgt. John Carver gets to share the pain with him to stop the scourge permanently in Dead Space 3
  • In the city of Los Santos within San Andreas, three equally troubled men’s stories will intertwine in the pursuit of the “almighty dollar” in Grand Theft Auto V
  • Kratos still hasn’t made ends meet for Ares, the god of war, and now he’s on an ancient-Greek quest to defeat the Fury threesome to sever all ties in God of War: Ascension
  • Picking up where the first installment left off, the Palanai island in the Banoi archipelago has become the source of a zombie outbreak, and now after an unsuccessful escape our four survivors must relive their undead nightmare in Dead Island: Riptide
  • 20 years after millions within the human population have ceased from a cordyceps-type fungus, a black-marketeer named Joel and a young girl named Ellie make a dangerous and Infected-filled trek across post-apocalyptic America in The Last of Us
  • Epic Games reveals their newest in the Unreal Engine series, Unreal Engine 4, in an open world survival-of-the-fittest monster adventure known as Fortnite
  • Nintendo’s famous rural village full of personified animals has taken the big jump to the 3DS, and while Japan has already gotten their share us Americans and Europeans will have to wait a bit longer for Animal Crossing: New Leaf
  • Marvel’s ever-so-famous “merc with a mouth” is smashing through the 4th wall from Marvel vs. Capcom and into his own game known merely as Deadpool
  • After Skyrim and its DLC Dawnguard changed the perspective of the RPG genre forever, Bethesda plans to make the breakthrough accessible for PCs and Macs everywhere in Elder Scrolls Online
  • Luigi made a smash hit on the GameCube as the fourth Ghostbuster, and now he’s been sent on another spine-tingling mission from Professor Gadd to punish all the spirit scamps out there in the newly-named Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
  • After Mortal Kombat and the DC Universe collided in the greatly disappointing Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe, NetherRealm and Warner Bros have teamed up once more in the 100% superhero-centric Injustice: Gods Among Us
  • One of TV’s most raunchy and beloved shows takes LARPing to an all-time extreme for not just consoles, not just computers, but clouds as well in the hopeful and hilarious RPG, South Park: The Stick of Truth

(Now let’s talk about movies…well, it won’t be much of a time saver to explain every single movie, let’s just nutshell a few that’ll be coming in 2013.)

  • The director of the original Spider-Man trilogy brings us a story about the Land of Oz older than the groundbreaking 1939 film or even the 1900 book, portraying James Franco as the new Wizard of Oz in Oz: The Great and Powerful
  • The director of Space Chimps teams up with the co-director of How To Train Your Dragon to create a story about a family of cavemen and cavewomen as a disaster leads to them journeying to find new shelter in The Croods
  • After the weight of An Unexpected Journey was finally lifted off Peter Jackson’s shoulders, he only had to enhance the LOTR world in preparation for the second installment in the Hobbit trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug
  • One of Disney-Pixar’s most notorious films, Monsters, Inc, gets its well-deserved backdrop explaining everything from their first meet in college (even monsters have to go to school) to putting their bitter rivalry behind them in the prequel Monsters University
  • Gru, the three orphans, and his ever-so-lovable minions will be returning through a storyline that will seemingly be incorporating aliens into the plot lines in Despicable Me 2
  • The second “true blue” film of the trilogy chronicles Gargamel as he creates evil Smurf-like creatures called Naughties, and furthermore kidnaps Smurfette and takes her to Paris where he will use the Eiffel tower as an energy-generating antenna powered by Smurf essence, so the remaining gang must travel back to the human world and regain help from Pat and Grace in The Smurfs 2
  • Having shaken off the food storm that almost ate the world, Flint and friends are forced to flee from town where Flint accepts an offer from his idol Chester V to join the Live Corp Company in cleaning up the island, but he realizes that his FLDSMDFR is still alive and is now creating mutated food beasts in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2(formerly subtitled Revenge of the Leftovers)…
  • After starring in one of Martin Scorsese’s most successful movies, Hugo, Asa Butterfield has decided to reload and star in another film from the director of X-Men Origins: Wolverine which takes on yet another classic book but of way bigger proportions, Ender’s Game
  • When Anna is cursed by her sister, the Snow Queen Elsa, she must reverse the curse by surviving a trek across an icy landscape, but luckily she is joined by outdoorsman Kristoff as well as his one-antlered reindeer and a snowman, which may give her hope to finally melt Elsa’s heart in Frozen
  • After Katniss and Peeta manage to survive the 74th annual Hunger Games, they try to forget their time in the battlefield but are only reminded by it when rebellion is simmering across the districts, and while she and Peeta embark on the Victors Tour of all twelve districts President Snow is only crafting a 75th Hunger Games will be a much bigger and bolder affair in Catching Fire

……………………………………………….

Surprisingly, Austin & Ally and Jessie even had their own plans set out for the new year! Actually, they did their first collab over it! And that created the one-hour crossover special “Austin & Jessie & Ally All-Star New Year’s Eve“/”Big Dreams and Big Apples“! I can’t believe they actually went through all the trouble to make this special, so say kudos to them as I explain the crossover’s plot:

To wrap up 2012 with a bang, Austin has got himself a gig in Times Square to play on New Year’s Eve in front of billions of people! Unfortunately, Sheri, Trish’s phone AI–think of “her” as a less-intelligent Siri–has mixed up Times Square with Tim’s Square Pizza! (But hey, it’s the best square pizza in Miami.) Luckily, the dilemma is erased when Sheri manages to book Austin, Ally, Trish, and Dez for the next flight to Times Square! Unfortunately, Sheri mixes the 1:00 pm flight with the 1:00 am flight, and now they’re really stuck. On the other side of the east coast, Emma is ecstatic to find out that Austin will be playing in Times Square, as she is an eccentric fangirl, and begs Jessie to take her. Despite initial rejection, she eventually gets convinced when she realizes that Ryan Seacrest would be there. (Ugh, media these days.) Austin, Ally, Trish, and Dez manage to get a taxi there, but cannot afford the ride and must hoof it to the Square. When they get there, they realize that full capacity has been reached and no other person can be let in, but Jessie uses her riches to hitch a helicopter to ride them. Unfortunately, Bertram has allowed Luke and Ravi to attend the concert as well, and worse yet they’ve abandoned Zuri! And I think you may already know by now that Zuri loves shiny things, and–well–the Times Square ball is pretty shiny…(and that’s only part one…)

…………………………………

I think that’s a pretty good way to wrap up the year, so I’m Sammwak saying “ho ho ho” right before you go. :D

See you in 2013, America,

~S~ 8-)

And here’s for our super-special honor-filled and totally clean Videos of the Year! (Luckily, I managed to narrow down my choices so I didn’t have a list that went on for infinity. Enjoy! :D)

(Believe it or not, “TNT” is actually the fourth most-viewed gaming video of all time according to the YouTube charts. As the top three above it are all Angry Birds-related/themed, consider this the most bestselling gaming video of all time that isn’t Angry Birds-related. Shockingly, “TNT” actually beat out the official Minecraft trailer itself!)

If you want a more general video, here’s one that takes the most viral videos and stars 2012′s YouTube season had to offer and conglomerates them all into one amazing “Gangnam Style”-themed medley song/video. Can you name all the YouTubers in this video? If you think you can, comment me in the section below and get a secret prize…

Super Awesome News Update #1 – May the Odds Be Whatsoever In Your Favor


I decided to make SANU since with school and everything I’ve really had trouble making posts, trying to figure out what category to put up. So I decided that, since I’ve been handling a lot of things that classify as “on hold”, I’ve decided to make a news update for these things every once in a while known as SANU, or my Super Awesome News Updates. At first, I called it my Incredibly Noble Super Awesome News Expo, but although it does spell INSANE, it really doesn’t make much sense. So until further notice, SANU it is! Me, myself, I, and my stonewashed jeans!

…………………………………………………….

Well, my first bit of news revolves around something I’ve really been digging–Wonderstruck.

No, no, no, not that Wonderstruck! And besides, I haven’t heard from Swift since “We Are Never Ever Getting Back T”–you know what it’s called. I’m talking about this Wonderstruck.

As you should know if you’ve been tagging along with my two main blogs, I’ve read The Invention of Hugo CabretAnd it’s insane good.  And one of the things I’ll never forget about first stepping into my English classroom for the first time of this school year was seeing all these books lined up against the whiteboard. Those were the books that my English teacher had read during the summer. And it wasn’t just one to five books. They literally took up a half of the board! There was a Mike Lupica book called HeroGregor the Overlander, all three Max Cassidy books, sporty ones like The Ball and The Dream Team–but one I really noticed was this one. I studied the cover up close and realized it was a Selznick book. And I was able to infer (like every good reader should) that this was similar to Hugo Cabret. After all, it did mention that Selznick was the “creator of the Caldecott Medal winner The Invention of Hugo Cabret“. And after researching the book on Amazon and seeing the little “inside look”, I was positive that this was similar to Hugo. And for the next few weeks, I kept using that book as a highball for my eyeballs, seeming to want to read the book more and more. I even emailed my teacher about it! And one simple question, an armful of steps, and the “beep” of a barcode scan later, I have the book. And I’ve barely left the first chapter, and know that this is gonna be good. And I’ve got a lot of reading to do–it’s 640 pages long! That’s ten pages shy of the first two Potter books combined! More notably, over 100 pages longer than Hugo!

So anyway, expect some sort of Jolly Good Bookie: Wonderstruck to magically appear on the homepage sometime soon! :D Can’t wait and want to know more? Click here to check out the main and official Wonderstruck website. Want to hear how great this book is from Brian Selznick himself? Check this  video out! (Visit the site if you want all of his spoken words in text via transcript.)

………………………………………….

These are just some of the new Cartoon Network games I played. They’re all surprisingly good each in their own fields of impression, and I’ve already beaten nearly everyone of them. (And besides–you really can’t win in Karate Master, since it records scores via distance.) And I’ve got one thing to say about the new badge mechanics: they’re messed up. I can beat the entire Toxic Targets game, collecting every single Chris Totem along the way, and still not get the badge for an unacceptably long while. (Don’t worry, I have all 6 now. :D) I’m still waiting for Flambo’s Hot Mess to accept that I beat the game, and won every single Golden Jelly Bean along the way. But hey–to each his, her, or their own. I also went through a major change from Amusing Chip Shuriken to Major Zelda Shinobi since my password just didn’t get a very comfy margin of the memory section of my brain. Needless to say, I’ve currently got over forty of the site’s badges, and currently have one friend. (Now’s your chance, America.) But anyway, to drive back on topic, I decided to tell you about each game that I played and enjoyed.

  • Regular Show‘s Escape from Ninja Dojo - So, Rigby just had to buy a bootleg copy of Ninja Dojo. Despite Mordecai’s warnings, he starts up the game anyway. And through some sort of magical and bizarre curse that’s actually pretty normal for Regular Show, Rigby gets sucked into the game. Mordo is now forced to fulfill the role of the “old wise mentor” stereotype and help Rigby through the game, since he is freed after he beats it. Now, what made me hooked to this game was intricate controls, non-pressuring difficulty, and–well–Mordecai’s lessons are pretty straightforward. But poor level design and rather grating music did pull me away a bit. But you’ll likely be having so much fun using the mechanics to explore your worlds that you likely won’t notice.
  • Adventure Time‘s Flambo’s Hot Mess - Now when it comes to princess relationships, Finn’s got his hands full. He’s come point-blank with literally every damsel in Ooo itself, but he shares the biggest relationships with two particular princesses: Princess Bonnibel Bubblegum, and his real current girlfriend the Flame Princess. Now, the Flame Kingdom really holds its own in both the gratitude of episodes and the story of Ooo through the show, and you’ll actually meet a lot of Flame People. One of these People is Flambo, a flambit who usually shows to be on Finn and Jake’s side. But in Hot Mess, he’s clumsily spilled PB’s entire collection of royal jelly beans. So you must navigate through 33 levels and collect each jelly bean along the way–at least, if you want all the Golden Jelly Beans. But there is a slight problem–since Flambo is made out of fire, every wooden block he comes in contact with will instantly set on fire. And then those blocks will spread their fire to other blocks or vines. And then those blocks and vines could spread to Critters, which could spread the blaze even more quickly. So it takes a real upper hand in logical strategy to navigate through all the levels and get through. Now, that’s what made this game fun–it was innovative, charming, clever, sharp, and challenging. Challenging to the point where–yes, I admit it–I may have used a walkthrough or two.
  • Total Drama: Revenge of the Island‘s Toxic Targets - This year’s season of Total Drama was a crazy one. Toxic waste mutating the animals of the woodland, an entirely new roster of campers, and the new Hurl of Shame elimination catapult. Anyway, this game has every camper you see in the game nimbly holding or balancing a mutated rabbit. You play show head Chris McLain’s trusty straight-outta-mess-hall partner Chef Hatchet, whom must unbalance these campers. So Chris decides to let him use his toxic meatballs in a fashion strikingly similar to Angry Birds. No seriously–these guys built strongholds outta wood and ice and everything! And here’s what makes these meatballs toxic–whomever gets hit by them gets electrically shocked. Or at least, it’s depicted like that. And if you have only one camper standing, you automatically complete the level. Take out that last camper, you get a Chris Totem. If you can get all forty Chris Totems, then you are an official “meatball marksman”. No, seriously, that’s the title of the badge you get. Anyway, I liked this game because it was also very walkthrough-level challenging, and also quite funny and interesting to play out. The feeling of using Shrinky Meatballs to have entire strongholds vanish in thin air, or shocking campers from beneath the ground with Explosive Meatballs just enticed me so much more to play this game. And I bet after this you’ll be checking your next plate of spaghetti-and-meatballs to make sure your meat’s completely nontoxic.
  • Gumball‘s Suburban Karate Master - I didn’t know it was humanly possible for Cartoon Network to still go back to those nostalgic 8-bit aesthetics. But in this game, they did it. So, you play a gi-sporting Gumball and merely run down the street while jumping over obstacles like fire hydrants, collecting soda cans for energy (how ironic :D), and obviously beating down the baddies. Get enough power and Darwin will join you in an ultimate power blast that will dash you down the street–the thing is it feeds off most of your health. So make sure you’re near some soda cans when you cool down. Although I could barely last thirty seconds in that game without falling flat on my face, what made me keep going back down the block and starting over was that it was funny, innovative, interesting, unique, and–you guessed it–nostalgic. Now if only they were using badges…
  • Teen Titans Go!‘s Tower Lockdown - Remember how you always used to watch Teen Titans as a kid–at least, if you were a 2000s kid? Then get ready, because your favorite teen superheroes are returning in the most comedic take on the saga yet–Teen Titans Go! Airing on Cartoon Network’s DC Nation block alongside Young Justice, Green Lantern, and the upcoming Beware Batman, expect this show to be saving a life near you next year. But for now, the creators of the show gave us this game. In it, you control Robin, who is trying to find the keys through several levels to unlock doors. But here’s the thing: you are granted the ability to flip gravity whenever necessary. But don’t think of this as some sort of Gravity Guy–space is rather limited, and eventually that pesky key grows some smarts. In one level, you must actually chase the key! But luckily, you can also airwalk from time to time to perform things like bridging gaps and making inaccessible parts within reach. I liked Tower Lockdown because of this: it had smooth controls, clever level designing, and mood-setting tunes. However, when I reached a level that assigned me to turn on a TV and use all the highlighted obstacles to keep me aware in real life (you have to do the most airwalking, I believe), the game went completely mad. It didn’t automatically close the tab I was playing, but it froze for seconds at a time, causing me to die every time for no sane reason. So I believe you should put that on notice if you’re playing on a PC with Google Chrome 22.
  • Riders of Berk‘s Dragons: Wild Skies - Now this game literally froze on me, so I’m just gonna put that under “on the fence”.
  • Chowder‘s Bookin’ Cook - Or should I say, Diner Dash: Chowder Edition. Now, to explain this game is a pretty straightforward toil. You’re likely to pick up this game very quickly if you’ve played Diner Dash or any deriving series similar to it. Now the version you played really doesn’t matter; I don’t care if you played the original, or the sequel, or the third, or the fourth, or the fifth, or the SpongeBob version. Anyway, in this game you control Chowder, but are also helped by your pals Schnitzel and Mung Daal. You must manage an increasing number of customers who will either ask for an apple, a piece of cheese, a head of cabbage, or this blue thingy. (I’m sorry, Chowder fans, I’ve left your little gang for a while now. :() You pick the fruit you want via the “no-fruit”, which will randomly change from fruit to fruit faster than the naked eye can manage, before Schnitzel whacks it with a bat and lands on your fruit. If they wanted sauce with that fruit, you can go to either of three saucing machines (yellow, blue, and pink) and toss it in there for a few seconds. You can toss it in again if you want a second layer, or toss it in another machine to do some mixing-and-matching. If they wanted extra eyes, just throw it into the eye machine (warning: it will take a long while). Mess something up? Just trash it–but it’ll come back to haunt you later. Make sure to keep your customers patient and happy, because their patience level is represented by a bar above their head. If it fully depletes, the customer will now very furiously storm out, and guilt obviously follows. Serve a customer while they’re still jolly, and they’ll leave with their pay of dollops. (Y’see, Chowder runs on their own currency; instead of dollars and cents, they have dollops and sments. Yeah, show fans, I still got it in me. :D) One of those customers, matter of fact, is your hotheaded hot mama Truffles, and her patience bar depletes the fastest in the entire game. So when she wants something, you better give it to her. Luckily, I’ve been manageable enough to never see what happened if Truffles lost her patience. Anyway, Mung’s mortal enemy’s daughter/your “girlfriend” Panini will occasionally show up running her mouth like a typewriter. Luckily, if you click on her you can send her away with your signature “I’m not your boyfriend!” And get rid of her fast, because she’s a lethal weapon in taking out patience bars. And rightfully so, in my perspective. I don’t think I really need to explain that I really enjoy this game.

So check out all these games I recommended just for the heck of it, and tell me in the comment section what you thought of them! Give me a rating on a 0-10 scale and explain why–hopefully you’ve been paying attention in English class. But just to set the record, lemme explain each level.

0 - Why did you recommend this to me?!?!

1 – No. No. No, no, no, no, just NO!

2 – I could type up a better game with my feet.

3 – Son, I am disappoint.

4 – …Yeesh.

5 – I’m on the fence about this one.

6 – It’s okay, I guess.

7 – I guess it’s pretty darn good.

8 – Not bad, Sammwak.

9 – Wow, okay, this game is really, really good.

10 - This is true gaming nirvana!!!

…………………………………………………………..

Cover of the novel, showing the title in white text on a black and grey background, above a depiction of a gold pin featuring a bird in flight, its wings spread and an arrow clasped in its beak.

If you’re like me, you’ve heard about this. You’ve greatly heard about this. You may have seen kids flaunting their copies around school and in class, talking about how great the movie was, wondering how its sequel would unfold. This is none other than the Hunger Games, from the lady that brought us the equally engrossing Gregor series. Now, the Hunger Games trilogy premise is simple: it all takes place in Panem, a post-apocalyptic nation split into twelve districts on land where North America once stood. An advanced metropolis known as the Capitol politically rules over the nation, as well as being surrounded by these districts. Now, a boy and girl aged from twelve to eighteen years old (known as a “tribute”) is chosen annually from each district to compete in a televised fight-to-the-death known as the Hunger Games. Now, seeing as these kids seem to be representing their districts, this whole thing must be some sort of bloodier and gorier Olympics. And I believe it’s even more shocking that innocent kids must ruthlessly murder one another just to gain the title of the Games victor. Any more violent, and I’d be putting up a notice for child abuse. Anyway, this year the Capitol has chosen Primrose Everdeen as District 12′s female tribute. Realizing she’s one of the youngest contestants, her older sister Katniss bravely steps up and says four words I don’t think I’ll ever forget: “I volunteer as tribute!” So Primrose is ultimately replaced by her sister in the Games, and it really wouldn’t have been any more dangerous if Katniss hadn’t done diddly squat.

Now, although I had the book as a Google Play sample, I finally got to touch and read the book! And let me tell you, I can’t believe the feeling I had when I read that book. First chapter isn’t actually half bad; darn suspenseful ending. Like Goosebumps. I like like Goosebumps. So the moral of this story is just expect some sort of Jolly Good Bookie: Hunger Games trilogy coming your way at a future date. And y’know how I said that people are talking about the movie’s sequel? Well, they have right to do so, because Catching Fire will actually be turning into a movie coming out next year! After returning from the Games with her skins, Katniss has now embarked on a victor’s tour of the districts, but along the way Katniss’s “suspense senses” begin to tingle. Turns out the Capitol has never lost its grip on the districts, especially with the next upcoming Hunger Games that could change the nation forever…

……………………………………..

TheEndBook.jpg

Lemon. That word makes me think of Lemony. And that word makes me think of Lemony Snicket. And that word makes me think of his 13-book series that have been giving me a chill since about the fourth grade. It is none other than A Series of Unfortunate Events, and today I just read its final volume. I never knew it would come to an end this–this dramatically. In the series’ “book the thirteenth” (known as the pretty straightforward The End), the three Baudelaire orphans and their lifelong enemy Count Olaf have just escaped Hotel Denouement after its horrifying fire. How did it happen? Well, then I’d be spoiling the twelfth book, wouldn’t I? After surviving a gnarly storm, they wash up on a coastal shelf of an island inhabited by a strange people. While Olaf tries to get the castaways to know him as “king of Olafland”–which obviously fails to work–the orphans come across several islanders, among them being the island’s facilitator Ishmael. Call him Ish if you want to. The Baudelaires also come across recurring series character Kit Snicket (still as pregnant as ever), but at the same time Olaf has decided to disguise himself as Kit. What does he use as his “baby”? A diving helmet containing spores of Medusoid Mycelium, a fungus that had nearly killed Sunny (the youngest orphan) in the eleventh book.

Aye, I’ve said too much! Just be sure to check out Jolly Good Bookie: The End when it comes out at a later date. Who knows, I may even be working on it right now. Will the Baudelaire orphans’ story conclude happily…or unfortunately? You know what Lemony’s said: “Like an off-key violin concert, the Roman Empire, or food poisoning, all things must come to an end.”

……………………………………………………………

I guess that’s all the news I have to give you this fine week! Make sure to shoot your arrow straight through that like button, and be sure to comment, subscribe, reblog, share, Press This, check me out at G+, and stay tuned for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak!

Stay classy America,

~S~ 8-)

Videos of the Week: I remember seeing  a real-life Ezio from Assassin’s Creed in a Corridor Digital video. But this takes that to a whole ‘nother level. Nearly 200,000 people have liked this video, and it’s gotten 9.3 million hits since last month! After watching this, I only thought of two things: “Geez, this is freaking awesome!”, and “…Wow, my head hurts.”  Comment me if you have the same effect!

Now this one may be one that’s more widely recognized. In August 1960, a U.S. Air Force Colonel known as Joe Kittinger fell from the Excelsior III, setting records for the highest balloon ascent, parachute jump, and the longest drogue-fall at 4 minutes and 36 seconds, the fastest a human’s ever gone through the atmosphere. Just this year, most of those records were broken by an Austrian skydiver/daredevil/BASE jumper. That Austrian was “Fearless Felix” Baumgartner. As part of the Red Bull Stratos project, Felix fell a world-record descent of just over 39 kilometers, setting the “highest manned balloon flight”, “fastest freefall speed”, and “first human to break the sound barrier outside of a vehicle” records. The only thing that Joe still claimed as his was the time he spent freefalling, as 17 seconds separated him and Felix. But it’s already been a web-wide sensation (you may have seen it as the #livejump), and I’ve got this as full-fledged & in-the-flesh proof. It’s got 3.2 million hits with over 10,000 likes–this is Felix Baumgartner’s freefall from the brink of space itself. Literally redefining Red Bull’s famous slogan “It gives you wings.”

And click here for some full-fledged & in-the-flesh extras from the official  channel itself!

p.s. Press This and comment if you want to wish my big sis a happy eighteenth birthday tomorrow! :D :D :D