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.
#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.
#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.
#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).
#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!”
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
- 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!
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)
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
Stay button-pressing America,
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!
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,
‘Tis the season to be goody,
Santa’s coming, so please be good, or he’ll give you a big lump of coal!
One day a year is this jolly
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,
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. ) 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 Dollar, Weird 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
- 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
- Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
- Mass Effect 2
- 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
- Halo 4
Best Xbox 360 Game Winner: Halo 4
Best PS3 Game Nominees:
- Assassin’s Creed III
- Borderlands 2
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 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
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
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
Best Graphics Winner: Halo 4
Best Indie Game Nominees:
- 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:
- The Walking Dead
- 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:
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,
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…
Last year was probably one of the best Halloweens I’ve ever had on this blog. And another year has passed, and I remember a promise I made to conclude last year’s Halloween special–to come back next year for the third special. And that third special has finally come. Wow, time flies when you’re having fun with all your fans. Releasing at 5pm like my last special, this Halloween’s gonna be a hoot. Prepare to be scared. Your goosebumps are gonna get goosebumps. Stock up on your lightbulbs, grab a bowl of candy, and hope for the best–because this holiday special may be something you’ll never return from.
Halloween, also known as Hallowe’en, or All Hallows’/Saints’ Eve–based off of its original “All Hallows’ Evening” name–is a yearly worldwide-observed holiday that precedes the western Christian feast of All Hallows, allowing the people of the world to trick-or-treat, attend costume parties, bob for apples, carve jack-o-lanterns, light bonfires, watch scary movies, prank, and visit “haunted” attractions all in one night. Most kids consider it the scariest day of the year, while others consider it the most fun. Me? I don’t directly celebrate Halloween, but rather the fall harvest. But it’s no reason not to host this essential 2012 special. Speaking of specials, Halloween has also been the night of the arrival of the Great Pumpkin–or so Linus van Pelt believes. He’s so determined to find the Pumpkin that every Halloween night he sits in a pumpkin patch awaiting the holiday figure’s arrival. When he fails to show himself, Linus only ups his ants for next Halloween. And there are three things that kid’s learned to never discuss in public: religion, politics, and that ole Great Pumpkin. But you can’t blame the kid for trying, can you? And besides–he has a little brother named Rerun!
Anyway, to change the subject, lots of your favorite channels are still going back to their Halloween-y roots like last year. Disney Channel’s bringing back Monstober (kicking it off with their new DCOM Girl vs. Monster), and on demand I saw a deal from the Hub about RL Stine’s Haunting Hour. (Don’t worry, they put up Goosebumps too.) But, like usual, Cartoon Network seems to be at the top of its game this year. While its campaign may not be as tyrannical and direct as last year’s, my scared-silly supplement did leave me feeling something. But I’ve decided to crunch all the episodes worth caring about together and break them down right here, right now.
“Terror Tales of the Park II” from Regular Show - Last year’s Halloween special from the park was a hoot, offering 1.968 million views on its premiere–but surprisingly, the rest of season three’s episodes literally bedraggled this rating. But hey–if a creepy living doll, the ghosts of a heavy metal crash pit, and Rigby being turned into a house wasn’t scary enough, wait until you see what the gang brought this year. The premise of the episode goes like so: everyone is decked in a costume heading towards a Halloween costume party that Margaret had recommended. Benson is a pirate, Mordecai is Frankenstein, Pops is a mummy, Rigby is what seems to be Hulk Hogan, and so on. But they quickly realize that the drive is taking a bit too long–as they are already lost. To kill the time (get it?), the people decide to spin some scary stories. Benson reluctantly allows them to, with one rule: they can’t really scare Pops.
- “Payback” told by Mordecai – This story seems to be a scary, demented, warped version of “Skips Strikes”. Taking place at the same bowling alley, Stardust Lanes, Mordo has just dominated his colleagues in a game. Well, everyone except his uncle Steve, who sits out the round. Despite his colleagues and their bad moods wanting to leave, Mordecai manages to convince them to play another game and gives his uncle a loan of $5. A now ecstatic Mordecai begins to dance around in excitement, but while moonwalking he ends up bumping into uncle Steve. He stumbles over to the ball return, where his light-up tie gets stuck, pulling him in and killing him. (I can’t help but be reminded of Syndrome’s death in The Incredibles.) Later at Steve’s funeral, a guilt-stricken Mordecai has literally changed his name to “Mortified”. And worse yet, his uncle had never paid back his nephew’s $5. But after a bad dream concerning the murder, Mordo wakes up and finds Steve’s ghost staring at him with glowing eyes. After splashing his face with cold water, it happened again. Now concerned whether this is reality or a big mind game, Mordo (and eventually Rigs) continue to be stalked by Uncle Steve’s ghost all the way down to his grave–where it is revealed that he just needed to pay his nephew back.
- “Party Bus” told by Margaret – Mordecai, Rigs, Marge, and her friend Eileen are decked out in costumes and ready to hit the movies. But Benson & Skips are currently in control of the golf cart for late-night patrolling of any TP-ing hooligans. With no sign of transportation now, Eileen–her costume being a businesswoman–manages to call a taxi for them. But another car arrives before the taxi, deeming itself as the Party Bus. The four, greatly persuaded by the atmosphere, decide to call off the taxi and board the bus instead–but they take the bus’s slogan, “This Party’s Killer!”, for granted. While the four are enjoying themselves to dancing and downing, Marge sees that the bus driver has passed the local theater downtown. They eventually realize that once they board the bus, they cannot leave the bus. And every partygoer on the bus isn’t wearing a white wig–they’re actually aging before the gang’s eyes as the bus moves forward! Not only that, but they begin to age as well! Seeing their colleagues turn to dust, Mordecai manages to take out the bus driver and follow his first natural instinct–shifting the bus into reverse. But this only gives everyone a case of Benjamin Button’s disease–they start de-aging! The gang manages to escape through the emergency hatch of the bus as children, and make the final jump off the bus as babies. As the gang celebrates their victory, they only dissolve into dust.
- “Wallpaper Man” told by Benson – Mordo and Rigs have taken it in to draw a cheesy cartoon in marker on the wall. The cartoon depicts Rigby describing his job as a prison, and Mordecai–pointing to a hole in the wallpaper–having found a way out. Although the two take pleasure in their joke, Benson uncovers it and forces them to re-wallpaper the entire house. If they did a bad job, they’d only re-re-wallpaper the house. After failing to cover up just the cartoon with wallpaper, they find their TV in the hallway promoting Jan the Wallpaper Man. Coincidentally, he’ll do a customer’s first wallpapering job for free! They decide to hire Jan, and lock themselves in their rooms playing video games as Jan takes care of the house. When they decide to take a break, they find the entire house vividly wallpapered in black and red. Unfortunately, when they hear Pops crying for help they find Jan wallpapering him to the wall! When Jan sees his cover has been blown, he hisses at the two and crawls along the walls out of the room. They manage to rescue Pops, but must navigate a constantly-shifting maze of wallpaper to rescue Benson as they hear his cries as well. Due to an optical illusion, the maze gradually gets smaller, causing a claustrophobic Rigs to begin tearing through the walls. They use this method to uncover a cave where the remaining workers–including Benson–have been held hostage by Jan, wrapped in cocoons made of the same wallpaper Jan had used on the house. In one of the most disgusting scenes on Regular Show, Jan transforms into his true giant spider form as he ties Pops to the ceiling. Mordo & Rigs desperately try to fend off Jan with rocks, but only rip the cocoons of their colleagues. While Skips and Pops have heavy landings, Benson has a more smooth landing and even catches a delivery man [sending grenades to Muscle Man. Don’t ask.] who had been trapped. As Spider-Jan impales Muscle Man through the stomach and eats him, Benson carries Skips & Pops away to higher ground, forcing Mordecai and Rigby to fire whom they had hired. Rigby does not take the phrase as metaphorically speaking and actually tries to fire Jan, which only makes the problem worse. They realize that the delivery man had left behind his package of grenades, so Rigs manages to retrieve it as Mordo pelts Spider-Jan with rocks. Moments later, they are in his grasps, and–awkwardly saying different catchphrases simultaneously–they unclip all the grenades and throw the package into the beast’s mouth. Their celebration is shortly lived when they suddenly question the range they must be in to avoid the explosion; the resulting explosion not only destroys the house, but presumably Jan and the two as well.
“Costumes & Courage” from Austin & Ally - Austin’s new record label owner, Jimmy Starr, invites him to perform at his record’s Halloween party, where Ally’s new song will be the centerpiece of a duet with him and Taylor Swift! However, Austin believes that Ally had sold their song to Taylor, and lets out his frustration and anger through a text to Starr, calling him an “evil, gutless rat”. However, when it is accidentally sent, they split up at the party to find Jimmy’s phone and delete the message. Meanwhile, Trish and Dez are off ghost-hunting when their plans go haywire when they accidentally knock Taylor unconscious. Since Ally’s wearing an identical costume to her, she decides to step in as an understudy to keep Austin from being left hanging–singing onstage for the first time.
“Summerween” from Gravity Falls - In Gravity Falls, Halloween is such a favored holiday that it’s not only celebrated on its rightful date, but also in the summer as Summerween! With jack-o’-melons, candy, and fun at bay, Mabel and Dipper are excited to dive in. But when Dipper’s crush/fellow Mystery Shack worker Wendy deems trick-or-treating as a child’s activity, Dipper’s entire outlook on Summerween changes. The night gets more heated when worker/elder Soos tells them about the tale of the Summerween Trickster. Believing it to be unrealistic, Dipper insults it but causes it to come to life; by the end of Summerween, when the final light of the final jack-o’-melon is dimmed, they must collect over five hundred pieces of candy for the Trickster or be eaten. Meanwhile, Mabel and Dipper’s Great Uncle/Grunkle Stan attempts to scare two boys who laugh at the definition of horror, claiming to have watched scary movies since the age of 2.
“Wazombie Warriors” from Kickin’ It - This is like some sort of Resident Evil or Left 4 Dead for the show. When Kim falls asleep whilst watching a Halloween movie, she dreams that all of her friends have turned into zombie-vampire hybrids known as “zompyres”. Kim must battle these zompyres, which is a great physical and emotional struggle, due to it feeling like she is hurting her friends–especially Jack. She must travel to the home of Doctor Krupnick (who is Milton in real life, the only fellow non-zompyre person in the dream) whom holds the only zompyre antidote.
“The Halloween” from Gumball - As the show’s first-ever holiday special, the ghostly Carrie (in her 3rd main role) takes Gumball, Darwin, and Anais to a costume party on Halloween–a party inside a real haunted house! So it’s not a big surprise when it is revealed that every single partygoer is a ghost! And Gumball and Darwin seem to be enjoying themselves–until they turn into ghosts themselves! Will this party get crashed before Gumball & Darwin can even put their skins back on?
Alright now, I think that’s enough crunching for one Halloween. Anyway, like I did last year, I’ll take it in to put up the tips, tricks, and slips to the best Halloween bash ever:
- Make good invites for people. An attention-grabbing invitation will encourage them to come.
- Afterwards, make a guest list. A good party has a capacity of a good twenty people.
- Decide the snacks, party favors, and drinks. It’s a good idea to be willing to include cake.
- Decorate your house, but make it good. Any old papier-mâché ghosts or stuff scrawled on paper simply won’t cut it, and your party will be a total bust. Buy your own decorations that are creepy and cheap…they’re cheapy.
- Make sure your food is prepared before people arrive. If half of your capacity is already attending the party and you only have a bag of pretzels willing to be eaten, the party-goers won’t have much of a strong appetite, and the chances they might hoof it will rise. Make sure you got food, and food that guests would want to eat.
- Try and dress up in a costume yourself. If you host a creepy Halloween party in just a shirt, khakis and a cardigan sweater, you’ll be the center of the audience, yes, but not in an entirely good way. You can leave out this tip if you want, but if you want to blend into your surroundings, try and buy your own costume. Don’t make it too scary, because you might leave a visual scar if half of your attending guests are kids.
- Tidy up the house. I don’t mean to sound like I’m quoting something your dad would probably say inside your room, but a good party has a clean atmosphere. If your guests are noticing junk like empty bags of Doritos behind the couches, or colonies of dust bunnies, you, and your party, will probably look like a slob.
- Decide where, when, and directions. This is the most important part of a Halloween party. Don’t tell your guests unsure sentences like, “Uh…I honestly don’t know”, because this is the biggest chance that they’ll bail out. Maybe hand out flyers of your party, and have every necessary detail on them, location, date, and address. This makes sure that they’ll know where to come, why they’re coming, and the time they’re expected.
- Is the party going to be outdoors or indoors? Another important tip. Make sure if your party is going to be out or in. And make sure everybody gets the same information, because people will be arguing if they get different info. If you plan to have an outdoor party, set up tables and chairs. If indoors, set up stuff like food and décor.
GOOD INVITATION FORMAT
You’re Invited – The simple phrase that makes an invitation an invitation. This phrase sets the tone and lets people know, instead of jumping out and slapping them across the face with other detail. “You’re invited” is merely what an invitation cannot lack.
Where, When, and Why – Another essential invitation detail. Attending guests need to know where they’re going, why they’re headed there, and when they’re expected. Without these details, your invited guest will be more baffled than a half-brained kid taking a MEAP test. Also, be on the safe side and put your number on your ads if guests don’t have invitations, because they gotta reach the host/hostess somehow.
(optional) RSVP – Translated from the classic French phrase repondéz s’il vous plaît, RSVP means “reply please” or “please respond”. This is so that guests can respond to you with “Yes, I can come” or “No, I cannot come” as a response.
Let’s wish such a happy Halloween birthday to these celebrities that it’s scary…
- Vanessa Marano - Notorious for her performances on Gilmore Girls, Without a Trace, Switched at Birth, and–most ideal to today’s theme–Ghost Whisperer, Vanessa may not be as well-known to kids than her little sister Laura, whom plays Ally on Austin & Ally! Vanessa started her run as a starlet from the age of two, working at Stage Door Theater productions since. Her role on Without a Trace is one of her most famous ones to date–and coincidentally, she and Laura were sisters on the show. Anyway, while she currently works as Switched at Birth‘s Bay Kennish, Vanessa will be celebrating her big jump into her twenties on Halloween! And because she’s fluent in Italian: “Buon compleanno, Vanessa!”
- Piper Perabo - She’s been in the industry from Coyote Ugly to her Golden Globe-nominated performance on USA’s Covert Affairs–including both Cheaper by the Dozen movies and then some. Born of a physical therapist and a college poetry professor, Piper is of the descent of Norway and Portugal, named after actress Piper Laurie, and the
victimsibling of two brothers. She is an Ohio University graduate, with a degree in theater, and will be turning 36 on Halloween! Happy birthday, Piper!
- Larry Mullen, Jr. - While he’s worked on many solo projects in his career, Larry is best known as the drummer for one of Ireland’s greatest rock bands, U2. An overabundance of praise and honor engulfed Larry as a result of his work with the band, including over twenty received Grammys. Mullen started all this drumming worker at the age of nine, as the only child of Maureen Mullen and Larry Mullen, Sr. For decades he has lived with girlfriend, fathering several children in the process, but to this day has never tied a knot with someone. And although I don’t know if he’ll be giving out candy or little Lucky Charms boxes on All Hallows’ Eve night, we can only infer that Larry Mullen, Jr fiú a breithlá sona. That’s Irish for “Larry Mullen, Jr. deserves a happy birthday.” :D
- Adam K. Horowitz, also known as the Beastie Boy, King Ad-Rock or just Ad-Rock. This some-of-everything man (music, acting, producing, guitar-playing, and rapping) came from New Jersey from a mom named Doris and a play-writing father named Israel. Beginning his musical passion in the punk rock band, The Young and the Useless, he became the Beastie Boys’ replacement guitarist in 1982, when the original one quit. He has been a piece of the pie since, although he has an epilepsy diagnosis and a 5-year marriage with riot grrrl artist Kathleen Hanna. He is celebrating his 45th birthday today. Happy birthday, King!
- Robert M. Van Winkle, also known as Vanilla Ice. This extreme athletic rapping home improvement TV personality pioneered Billboard chart-topping songs with his timeless summer 1990 single, “Ice Ice Baby”. Currently signed to Psychopathic Records (do mass murderers rap there?), he began hosting The Vanilla Ice Project since October 2010 (that’s his home improvement show), and has even survived his own suicidal attempt, as well as surviving a major 3-year fame fall. Today he is turning 44. Happy birthday, Ice!
- Willow C.R. Smith is turning 11 today. Better known as Willow Smith, or mononymously as Willow, she encouraged the music junkies of pre-Halloween 2010 to whip their hair like 21st-century girls. The song was only number eleven on the Billboard chart, but it’s been part of meme lore ever since. She’s also dipped her hand into the jar of acting, starring as Robert Neville (played by her own father)’s daughter in I Am Legend and also as the hobo jungle resident Countee in Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. Happy birthday, Willow! And make sure to whip that hair real good!
- Sir Peter R. Jackson, known for directing all 3 Lord of the Rings movies, alongside the 2005 revival of King Kong, is turning 50 today. To me, 50 is a big number of age, but the 50-60 area is recently the most prone death area. No offense, Sir Jackson (I’m not a fortune teller), but just be aware. This New Zealander scored global attention by churning out “splatstick” horror comedies such as Bad Taste and Braindead. I’ve seen a little of one of his movies, and all I have to say is: Awesome directing, Pete. Although sometimes he did slip under the line, such as with The Lovely Bones. No offense, but happy birthday, Sir!
Pretty good special so far, huh? Well, it’s not over yet–check out some of the def new games coming out this season!
In 1937, an Englishman named John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, known more widely as J.R.R. Tolkien, released a novel that spawned what would be one of the most epic book series of our time. And before Harry Potter, before Children of the Red King, before Series of Unfortunate Events–there was Lord of the Rings. And Lego’s been able to get their hands on some of the most popular series to kingdom come. Batman, Indiana Jones, SpongeBob, and the like. And now in Lego The Lord of the Rings, Frodo and Gandalf and the rest of middle-Earth are next. This game follows the storyline of–quite surprisingly–the movies instead of the books, taking players through epic moments with sprinkles of the variety and humor Lego does best. The game’s developer Traveler’s Tales (the Lego godfather since 2005) have claimed that they will dramatically tone down the slapstick laughs used in other Lego titles. But like in Lego Star Wars, for example, some scenes have been edited to be family-friendly or just to be a comic relief. Complementing the new Lego LOTR toy collection, the game can obviously be played with company in a drop-in-drop-out style. Due to a growing inventory the player owns, this game is most definitely a Lego RPG. Which is saying something. And if you want it special-edition, you’ll get an extra mini-figure of Elrond! Well, the game’s not coming out until the 30th for the PC, PS3, Xbox, Wii, PS Vita, 3DS, and regular DS, and if you miss out on any of it–you shall not pass! But you can pass to this def game below…
Adventure Time. A show I love with a burning passion. Its online games? Not so much. Sound Castle was too choppy, Righteous Quest was too sloppy, Jake’s Tough Break was too croppy, and I know what you’re thinking–is it possible for me to have a favorite game? Well, I do have a heart, so yes–Flambo’s Hot Mess was pretty good. But this May, the people behind this TV sensation announced something that literally vaporized all we knew about Adventure Time. It’s even got shining light in Nintendo Power. Some of the people involved in this insane project are WayForward (the makers of SpongeBob SquigglePants, Shantae, etc.) and–of course–Cartoon Network Interactive. As Adventure Time‘s first-ever primetime video game, this is Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?! I’m not pulling on your chains, that’s the real name of the game. But to prevent any stress let’s call it Adventure Time: The Game. The game’s plot revolves around Ice King building his own Garbage Princess and ends up lying around Finn and Jake. He’s made off with Ooo’s entire garbage supply, so it’s up to Finn and Jake to set things straight. The perspective of the game depends on where you are; when exploring the land of Ooo, you are in a top-down perspective like Legend of Zelda, but when you enter a dungeon or some sort of level the game turns into a 2D sidescroller like Zelda II. But earlier this year in July, it was told that the game would have a collector’s edition on both platforms it’s set out for–the DS and 3DS. It includes a steel case cover of the Enchiridion, a booklet with show creator Pen Ward’s artwork, a poster of Ooo itself, and a stylus stylized around Finn’s own sword! Adventure Time fans with the power of Nintendo on their side, get ready to have the most mathematical adventure of your life! Adventure Time: The Game won’t be hitting stores until November 13th, so that gives you plenty of time to save up. But I do have one question–why on Earth is Ice King being penalized for stealing garbage?! I THOUGHT THAT WAS A GOOD THING!!!
I know what you’re thinking by now: Sam, I appreciate you including the Wii U, but it’s not necessarily a game. And to you I say that there are so many games coming out next month for the Wii U that I might as well include this. Anyway, this is our first peek at the eighth generation of gaming as we know it as Nintendo’s fighter, and hopefully it brings the fire that the Wii brought. And that’s assuredly how the Wii U’s “big brother” financially won the seventh generation of gaming. Will the streak be brought down another generation, or will all the potential be for naught? Well, it has many big perks on the Wii: at 2 gigs it has more than 20x the Wii memory, it features its own embedded-touchscreen GamePad, it will be “backward compatible” with the Wii, it supports Wii attachments like the Remote Plus and Nunchuk, and so on. It’ll be a hefty fine if you want to get it no matter where you come from, since it costs 300 American dollars, 300 euros, 250 British pounds, and nearly 30,000 yen. If you want it premium, it’s 350 dollars, 300 pounds, 350 euros, and just over 30,000 yen. But enough talk, let’s get to the games you should be antsy for:
- Ubisoft’s first publication was in 1986, an arcade adventure with the roots of Dawn of the Dead known simply as Zombi. 26 years have passed, and Ubisoft has decided to give the homage and honor to the game that kicked it off in the first place. Formerly known as Killer Freaks from Outer Space, ZombiU will be one of Ubisoft’s first original and exclusive entries into the Wii U. 4 centuries ago, Welsh astronomer John Dee creates the Black Prophecy, an apocalyptic prophecy which will be brought into full swing in 2012. By November, a zombie apocalypse has surfaced and run amok in London, and you will use the GamePad to not only navigate, but also do things like aiming select weapons and unlocking weapons. You also have a “Bug-Out Bag” which stores your other goods, but do note you are vulnerable while handling it. Upon a player’s death, they are permanently removed from the game and a new survivor takes their place. Kill the dead survivor–which should be a zombie by now–and try and get back any goods from their Bag. And you have plenty of goods to save up if you want to buy this game on November 18th.
- Remember in 2006, how Wii Sports was released to demonstrate the true powers of the Wii? And look where it is now–carved into many Wii owners’ hearts, and having stolen the throne from Super Mario Bros as history’s most bestselling game. Well, Wii U’s got its own contender as well–Nintendo Land. Set in a carnival/theme park atmosphere, this game will feature twelve differing minigames based on numerous Nintendo franchises–some of which support a maximum of five, with four equipping the Remote and Nunchuk, and the remaining one equipping the GamePad. Some of the minigames take pages from series like Zelda, Metroid, Mario, Donkey Kong, Pikmin, Luigi’s Mansion, Animal Crossing, and Yoshi. Nintendo Land will be a launch game for the regular version of the Wii U on the 18th, but will be a pack-in for the premium edition.
- The Kinect had loads of games upon release; titles like Dance Central and Kinect Sports were actually somewhat good. And one of the games that didn’t make the par was Game Party: In Motion, which maintained a post-poor review incognito status since its kickoff in November 2010. But for the first time, Warner Bros.’s Game Party saga will be company-hopping! Instead of being a Kinect-exclusive, the latest Game Party–Game Party Champions–will make a beeline for the Wii U. Not much is known about the game except the release date, November 18th, the cover, and the fact that–obviously–it’s a party game.
- Like Super Mario 64 represented the Nintendo 64, the red rivet will be coming back to represent the Wii U in New Super Mario Bros. U! Rendering the Mushroom Kingdom now in glorious HD, the game shows that after 27 years of failure Bowser has actually learned something. Bringing the Koopalings with him once more, he ambushes Peach’s castle–but also brings a mechanical arm to chuck Mario, Luigi, and the two Toads to a distance that literally vaporizes them from his worries. So the four must venture back across the land and win back Peach from the king of the Koopa Troopa, and that’s easier said than done. Anyway, the game’s play takes a lot of pages from New Super Mario Bros Wii–up to four can play at the same time, reach the goal flag at the end of each level, etc. As it is the Wii U, either the Remotes or GamePad can be used in-game, the latter of which being able to continue a game off the TV screen. NSMB U also introduces new power-ups, most notably the flying squirrel suit. It is good for long-distance gliding, slow descents down up-down paths, or clinging onto wall sides. Individual players can also carry baby Yoshis. And I’ll have you know that this started as New Super Mario Bros. Mii, but don’t fret–select game modes will allow Miis to be included. And on the 18th, Mario will be making his biggest jump, glide, and stomp yet.
- After Ryu Hayabusa had his image bedraggled in the default version of Ninja Gaiden 3, Team Ninja and Tecmo Koei have decided to make a few tweaks to the most controversial problems. So they released the game’s most recent update, Razor’s Edge. Currently a Wii U-exclusive, the game allows the GamePad to choose differing weapons, perform “Ninpo”, view extra game info, etc. The series’ bloody glory will be rejuvenated, and assets like the Karma Counter will be returning. AI has improved as much as the upgrade menu, and the Lunar Staff and Duel Katanas are some of the new exclusive weapons being shown. The game also introduces a playable female ninja, Ayane, whom will bear her own move set similar to her incarnation in Sigma 2. Cutscenes will be sprinkled to explain her role in the game. An early version of the game was already acclaimed by IGN, but you’ll have to wait–like everybody and everything else–until the 18th to sharpen your blades.
Now, if you’ve been tagging along to Sammwak, you’ve heard about news of there possibly being an Epic Mickey sequel. A few months later, I clarified that with a hunk of news about both the sequel and its sequel! But now, there’s been enough news out for the sequel’s sequel to get some shining light. Epic Mickey: The Power of Illusion, Mickey’s upcoming and notably nostalgic adventure, holds it own as a tribute to Mickey’s Illusion games (1990-’95) courtesy of Sega, especially Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse. Anyway, this game takes place some time after the events of the original game, and Yen Sid has accidentally transported the evil Mizrabel and her Castle of Illusion to the Wasteland. Mickey’s new partner Oswald the Lucky Rabbit contacts Mickey to tell him about the castle’s appearance–and how Minnie’s been seen inside. Mickey then goes off to save not only Minnie, but all the “Illusions” trapped inside the castle. Some of these Illusions are Ariel, Ursula, and Sebastian, Scrooge McDuck, Peter Pan, Rapunzel (in her Tangled iteration), Jafar, the Queen of Hearts, and Gopher. Several Illusion locations have also been announced: King Triton’s underwater kingdom, the Aladdin-themed Agrabah, and Rapunzel’s tower. The game mixes Castle of Illusion‘s side-scrolling with Epic Mickey‘s paint-and-thinner mechanics. Using the touchscreen of its available console–the 3DS–the player will be able to bring scattered items in each stage into existence. How well the player draws these items will affect their quality in the incarnation; a perfectly-traced cannon will surely damage only enemies, but a badly-traced cannon will damage everyone in the area–even Mickey! The game’s nostalgic 16-bit visuals come from hand-drawn sprites, and there will also be scrolling parallax backgrounds according to Disney developer Warren Spector. Like all the Wii U games, it’ll be coming out on the 18th. And as promotion, Power of Illusion underwent a ballot on Epic Mickey‘s official Facebook page. Fans were asked to vote for their preferred game cover, and this was its winner:
Pretty cool, huh? Comment #wiiu and tell me if you’re excited for Nintendo’s 8th-gen fighter! Anyway, let’s keep the show going with some Halloween-y jokes! I know this may be a bit usual for a Halloween special, but it beats stalling around. Heh, that’s a funny word. Stalling…staaaaaalliing….staaaaaaaaaaaallliiiiiiiiiing…stalling?…stalling!….stalling!…stalling!…stalling.
Why wasn’t there any food left at the monster party? Because everyone was a goblin!
What is a skeleton’s favorite instrument? The trombone!
Why doesn’t Dracula have any friends? Cuz he’s always a pain in the neck!
What did one casket say to the other casket? “Is that you coffin?”
What’s the problem with two twin witches? You never know which witch is which!
What do you call a witch who likes the beach but is scared of the water? A chicken sand witch!
Who won the zombie war? Nobody, it was dead even!
Why did Dracula go to the library? He wanted a good book to sink his teeth into!
Why is it hard for a ghost to tell a lie? Because you can see right through him!
Why did the skeleton go scuba diving? Because he wanted to get some muscles!
Why don’t skeletons play music in church? Because they have no organs!
What do you get when you cross a ghost, a dog, and a rooster?…A cockatoo!
To conclude this special–as heartbreaking as it sounds–I’m going to present an index of some of my favorite YouTube videos! And I don’t mean “favorite”, like “I like it, tee hee”, but “This is one of the best videos I’ve seen of its criteria!” I say “some of” since–as you can infer from my Videos of the Week–my actual collection of fave vids would take way too long to present. I know, not typical for a Halloween special, but it’s a darn good blowout. If you like what you see, go ahead and subscribe to their rightful owners, but for now here comes the awesomeness!
Stay spooky, America,
p.s. Check out WikiHow’s lesson on how to make a jack-o’-lantern out of an empty toilet roll!
p.p.s. Also check out WikiHow’s lesson on how to carve a pumpkin!
p.p.s.s. Finally check out WikiHow’s lesson on how to use your old jack-o’-lantern! I suppose the topic will be quite smashing. :D
Video of the Week: Just to make sure the Halloween feeling’s spreading, check out this video from the “Re-Micks” series on Disney Channel’s Have a Laugh! branch of goodness. (Another HAL! series is the stunt-filled Blam!) Now, the people who make these Re-Micks get Mickey and company to play and/or sing today’s hit songs, like Andy Grammer’s “Keep Your Head Up”, Hannah Montana’s “He Could Be the One”, Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust”, and even Jessie J and B.o.B.’s “Price Tag”. But I guess this Re-Mick was made to set the Halloween mood. This follows Mickey Mouse’s spine-tingling and perfectly unrealistic Halloween adventure–to the tune of “Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff” by deadmau5! This is basically the official version released by Disney itself, with 6,000 views since its release a few weeks ago.
I was ecstatic when I first saw a trailer for the Xbox Kinect. This only proved that technology has finally reached a caliber high enough to put up works at this level. Needless to say, the next birthday bash I had I got a Kinect as a present. And I’ve cherished that thing like the rarest Pokemon card in history ever since. First game I ever played on it was Kinect Adventures, but the first standalone was Dance Central. Think I got Kinect Sports for my next birthday. And then I did some pretty hard chores and got Kinect Sports Season Two for that. Either way, I’ve had a long history with the Kinect. And if you were to sift through all gaming generations and pick out its strongest enemy, you’d likely pick the Wii. Who wouldn’t? They both specialize in motion control, voice recognition, and vice versa. But the Wii and Kinect really built an enmity for one another over two of their most famous series: Dance Central, obviously, and Just Dance. Although Just Dance had a head start, they both seem equally up to par. Well, maybe their latest upcoming titles can break the tie.
Let’s do Dance Central first because, to me, DC > JD. (Don’t wanna start a controversy or anything.) First announced at this year’s E3 Microsoft press conference, Dance Central 3 seems to be this year’s new adaptation to the Kinect’s top-dog dance series. As with its predecessors, players must dance to imitate the motions of onscreen characters, with their score multiplying and increasing depending on how well the player performs. Instead of having simply the three core categories (easy-medium-hard), it now introduces the new beginner and expert categories. Some new modes include the “Crew Throwdown”, which is basically a more advanced and hardcore version of the Dance Battle; in this mode, two teams of four fight tooth-and-nail for dance supremacy in a series of performances, battles, and even mini games. More modes include “Keep the Beat”, a rhythm-tracking mode, and “Make Your Move”, which finally interprets the create-your-own-dance mechanics that we’ve been praying for. (Guess who got to it first, though? :-x) There is also a standalone beginner mode for complete dance game newbies, and there is Party Mode. Party Mode plays random tracks and mini games as people play, bumping the difficulty higher or lower depending on the dancer’s performance.
Now, one of the biggest changes in DC3 compared to its previous games is mostly the “dancing through the decades” mode. Each crew in the game is now assigned with a different decade to represent, so I guess they’ll be looking like those actors on those old-time field trips you always took with classmates.
- Lu$h Crew, composed of classics Angel (pronounced “awn-hell”) and Miss Aubrey, will be representing the 70s. Well, save for Hi-Def’s electric boogie.
- Hi-Def, composed of classic Mo and newbie Glitch, will be representing the 80s.
- Flash4wrd, composed of classic Taye and newbie Lil’ T, will be representing the 90s.
- Riptide, composed of classic Emilia and newbie Bodie, will be representing the 2000s.
- DCI, the brand-new crew composed of Rasa and Lima, will be representing the 2010s/present day.
But don’t get me wrong, that’s not every crew in the game. There’s still M.O.C. (classic Oblio + DC2 antagonist Dr. Tan) and DeCoy (classics Dare & MacCoy) that will be appearing in the game, so be ready for a nostalgic throwback-filled trip down memory lane. Each crew will also have their own venue: the DCI will have the DCI HQ, Lu$h with the Roller Disco, Hi-Def with Street Side, Flash4wrd with House Party, Riptide with Dance Central Live, M.O.C. with (according to the intro) Tan’s Castle, and DeCoy with a venue that has yet to be determined and announced. There will be over 100 songs to jam to, plus bonus tracks only available from pre-ordering them at select retailers (I’ll give you the heads-ups when you need it). These are some of the songs to expect:
- “1, 2 Step” by Ciara ft. Missy Elliott, from Goodies (2004)
- “Around the World” by Daft Punk, from Homework (1997)
- “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, from Love Tracks (1978)
- “In Da Club” by 50 Cent, from Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2003)
- “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” by the Backstreet Boys, from Backstreet’s Back (1997)
- “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera, from Hands All Over (2010)
- “Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO, from Sorry for Party Rocking (2011)
- “OMG” by Usher ft. will.i.am, from Raymond v. Raymond (2010)
- “Teach Me How to Dougie” by Cali Swag District, from The Kickback (2011)
- “YMCA” by the Village People, from Cruisin’ (1978)
- “I Am the Best (Original Version)” by 2NE1, from 2NE1 (2011)
- “Now That We Found Love” by Heavy D & the Boyz ft. Aaron Hall, from ??? (???)
- “On the Floor” by Jennifer Lopez ft. Pitbull, from Love? (2011)
- “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” by the New Kids On the Block, from Hangin’ Tough (1988)
- “Boom Boom Pow” by the Black Eyed Peas, from The E.N.D. (2009)
- “Boyfriend” by Justin Bieber, from Believe (2012)
- “Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)” by Los Del Rio, from A mí me gusta (1994) and Fiesta Macarena (1996)
And all the special pre-order-only tracks:
- “Alejandro” by Lady Gaga, from The Fame Monster (2009) (Amazon-only)
- “Paparazzi” by Lady Gaga, from The Fame (2008) (Amazon-only)
- “Sorry for Party Rocking” by LMFAO, Sorry for Party Rocking (2011) (Walmart-only)
- “Euphoria” by Usher ft. Swedish House Mafia, from Looking 4 Myself (2012) (Best Buy-only)
- “Whip It” by Nicki Minaj, from Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012) (Walmart-only)
- “Twisted” by Usher ft. Pharrell, from Looking 4 Myself (2012) (Best Buy-only)
And that’s not even all! Believe it or not, each song will have their own choreographer! (But I refuse to say goodbye to that talking boombox.) Some of these ‘graphers include Usher, Marcos Aguirre, Frenchy Hernandez, and Chanel Thompson. I guess you know all about this game, so you’ll be ready when it releases this Tuesday! Now onto–the other one. :roll:
The latest in Ubisoft’s so-called hit series, Just Dance 4 was also announced at this year’s E3, but to make it more pizzazz-y they had Flo Rida and Aisha Tyler announce it! Not only that, but it’s gonna be for the PS3 (PS Move), Xbox (Kinect), Wii, and Wii U!!! Gameplay remains similar to previous titles, but now new modes will be introduced (one of them being the dance battle mode), unlockable bonus routines will be hidden, and there will also be a Wii U-exclusive “Puppetmaster” mode as well, using the controller to “Master” and manipulate the dance and visuals. Another mode will be the Just Sweat mode, which actually splits into five workouts, 3 females and 2 males: Aerobics in Space, Electro Body Combat, Sweat Around the World, Cheerleaders Boot Camp, and Swinging 60s Workout. Additional modes, like Simon Says Mode and the 8-player feat, will be removed in this game. There are also “dance quests” that come in six for each song, which build up your “mojo” as you complete them. You can also make your own “dancer cards” which showcase stats like your fave songs, best scores, challenges, etc. Every version except the Wii’s (sorry, folks :() also allows online leaderboards. Now this game only has fifty tracks, and like before I’ll only show some of them.
- “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” by Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes, from Dirty Dancing (1987)
- “Ain’t No Other Man” by Christina Aguilera, from Back to Basics (2006)
- “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen, from Curiosity (2012)
- “Maneater” by Nelly Furtado, from Loose (2006)
- “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley, from Whenever You Need Somebody (1987)
- “Love You Like a Love Song” by Selena Gomez & the Scene, from When the Sun Goes Down (2011)
- “Beauty and a Beat” by Justin Bieber ft. Nicki Minaj, from Believe (2012)
- “Rock N’ Roll (Will Take You To the Mountain)” by Skrillex, from Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites (2010)
- “Domino” by Jessie J, from Who You Are (2011)
- “Istanbul” by They Might Be Giants, from Flood (1990)
- “Good Feeling (Alice Version)” by Flo Rida, from Wild Ones (2012)
- “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder, from Talking Book (1972)
- “The Final Countdown” by Europe, from The Final Countdown (1986)
- “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj, from Pink Friday (2010)
- “Wild Wild West” by Will Smith ft. Dru Hill and Kool Moe Dee, from Wild Wild West (1999) and Willennium (1999)
- “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction, from Up All Night (2011)
- “Umbrella” by Rihanna ft. Jay-Z, from Good Girl Gone Bad (2007)
- “Oops!… I Did It Again” by Britney Spears, from Oops!… I Did It Again (2000)
- “So What” by P!nk, from Funhouse (2008)
So now that you know all you need to about this game, you’ll be ready for it to start the war–since it’s actually out right now. Well, the Wii U version’s not coming out until next month, but I guess you can already start “just dancing” right now.
Oh, that reminds me! Some of my sister’s high school friends made this video in an effort to make a new raving dance. They were successful. It’s become a school trend, and its video has over 1,000 hits and fifteen likes already! And they put this up two weeks ago! Anyway, prepare to have a newly-planted earworm in your head. Because Off Brand, JH UpintheStudio, ButterScott, Broseph Chillingston, Sneaky Nick, and Big Ash (pretty thoughtful gamertags, guys :D) are now Shugga Street Dynasty. This is no normal Cupid shuffle, or electric slide, or cha-cha slide, or wobble. This–is “Do the Shugga“. (Put #shugga in your comment to get this thing trending!)
Vote wisely. And do wisely–by subscribing, commenting, liking, sharing, re-blogging, Pressing This, checking out my G+, and coming back next time for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak!
Video of the Week: This was kind of a last-minute entry, but it was so funny I decided to include it anyway. In this episode, Sneaky Nick & Broseph Chillingston from the Shugga Street Dynasty are back! But it’s not a new song they’re debuting. They’ve done this fake little commercial for the slingshot of generations to come. It’s got speed, it’s got durability, it’s got accuracy–or so they advertise! It’s the Slingshot 2000! (Came out last Sunday, so it’s only at 100+ hits and only a single like. Can’t blame it, can ya?) And put up #shuggastreetdynasty or #ssd in your comment if you want more sweet-as-shugga hits!
WARNING: One case of coarse language, and lots of blades and sharp, pointy things.
Hey guys it’s Sam, and welcome to the second episode of our game reviewing segment, Get Ur Game Face On. Anyway, there are a lot of unknown companies that one day have their names known by 5% of people, and the next day having their names known as the people that gave us the amazing game [please insert amazing game title]. And that’s what happened with lots of companies we now know. Take Bethesda, for example. With the dwindling of games like Brink and RAGE, it was almost certified that Bethesda would begin crippling from the game world, and taking all of their series with them. That is, until they introduced the worldwide phenomenon known as Skyrim. See what I mean? THQ (short for Toy Headquarters. Now you know.) already got a start, giving us pretty much the entire anthology of SpongeBob games. But maybe our porous pal needed a break. So they gave us the first De Blob in ’08. And this is its ’11 sequel.
In 2008, the original De Blob met favorably received success, or (as THQ president & CEO Brian Farrell calls it) “broad, critical acclaim.” But the demands rose too high, and they were too big to maintain. So THQ could most likely do nothing but bring out the only weapon in a wave of fiscal demands: a sequel. Instantly the wave died down and THQ could breath a bit easier. That sequel, as I said and will say again, was De Blob 2, also known previously as De Blob: The Underground. Instead of being a Wii exclusive, it (like the forthcoming Epic Mickey sequel) was also available for the Xbox and PS3 as well, alongside the Nintendo DS and 3DS. It was developed by the now inactive Blue Tongue Entertainment, or by Halfbrick Studios (the same buddies that gave us the Fruit Ninja saga) for the DS version, and published by THQ and Syfy Kids (yes, I hasten to add this, but that actually does exist!).
In this game, you basically pick up where the original adventure left off: giving color and happiness with a vengeance (as the antagonistic INKT Corp. has outlawed all the fun and color) to the monochromatic Manhattan parody Chroma City, as a Blob. But not just any Blob. The Caesar of color, the superhero of the spectrum, the rivet of the rainbow, the—oh, you know what I mean. But not alone, with his trusty robo-sidekick Pinky. You can turn into different colors by jumping into different pools of colored paint, or by slamming into different-colored Paintbots, allowing you to make the world literally your canvas & easel. But there are some obstacles in your way, such as surfaces that automatically strip you of your wet, colorful goodness, as well as ink that acts as deadly poison to our hippie of a hero.
Definitely one of the most feel-good games of the year, De Blob 2‘s infectious vibe is only cramped up by one thing: frustration, and frustration under more than one circumstance. You sometimes have no clue what to do, and how to do it, leaving you helplessly struggling for a solution. Repetitive level design occurs repeatedly for a great level of annoyance, and you honestly don’t want to fail root & branch. That’s usually something you always hear in games, but this is a special emphasis; failure results in having to replay long sections or entire levels, putting a chockful of work into the toilet. The targeting system of the game can be a pro various times in the game, but other times when you’re brawling against diverse enemy armies, it’s definitely a con trying to decipher. You should never trust De Blob 2‘s saving system, and even I have examples. Sometimes when I exit a session of De Blob-ing, and come back to that session, I have to redo entire—oh, wait, I already told you about this. But on the bright side, painting the city is more fun that it looks like, and great visuals and tunes make a joyous atmosphere to roam in. Cutscenes are smart and amusingly entertaining, and there is simple fun in the game’s combat. And, of course, there are plenty of cheesily great win quotes in the game like, “Blobberific!” Y’know what, let’s roll the chart.
2 3/4 out of 5 – Educational value – There are puzzle aspects to many of the levels, requiring a great amount of logic and thinking, but the intention of the game is definitely entertainment over education.
3 1/2 out of 5 – Positive messages – Blob is a compassionate hero, determined to bring color (and freedom, and peace, and justice, and—) back to a world ruled by a monochromatic black-and-white tyrant and its corporation. Certain story moments, though, pose moral questions to players, asking them to choose between going after an escaping villain or rescuing innocents.
3 out of 5 – Positive role models – Blob and Pinky are self-sacrificing heroes who value the freedom of their people. Players could choose to make Blob a bit more callous in his pursuit of the baddies if they opt to follow the villains rather than save the innocents at certain points of the game.
4 out of 5 – Ease of play – Controls work very smoothly. If the camera seems problematic at first, know that you can adjust the inversion of the camera functionality; it’s very likely you can find a setting that will be comfortable for your personal style of play, where you prefer going down to go up, or prefer going down to go down. The game offers only two levels of difficulty that sound equally simple: easy and normal.
2 1/2 out of 5 – Violence – Blob fights enemy robots at times with a jump-and-smash ability (or Pinky can zap them with paint). Defeated enemies disappear in a burst of ink. Obviously enough, ink is very poisonous to Blob, and you can surely die if you stay in too long or do not meet a body of water soon enough. Blob can use his jump-and-smash combo to smash into things with violent slams. Overall, the violence is cartoonishly executed, made more for quirks.
Play-Again Ratio: B- (3 points)
Smarts: B+ (3.5 points)
Fun: B (3 points)
Style: A (4 points)
Humor: A (4 points)
Entertainment: A (4 points)
FINAL SCORE: 21.5 out of 30 (well, that was unexpected), 3 stars out of 5, 69% out of 100%
CONSENSUS: De Blob 2 is a funky-fresh sequel with the same infectious vibe as its predecessor, but monotony and other frustrations get the upper hand of the game and ruin its jam to the point where the game is only fun to play for about ten minutes, if not longer.
PRICE: Have it your way, but here’s the pricing for the game. On the Xbox 360, the game costs $16, but new copies are $9, and used ones are $6. Own a Nintendo DS? You can buy the game for only $9, with new copies being $5, and used ones being $3. Fan of the PS3? It costs yet again $16, but new copies are $9, and used ones are $7. Wii junkie? The game costs $13, with $7 for a new copy, and $2 for a used. At GameStop, the game costs $20 new, and $18 pre-owned on the Xbox. On the Wii, the game costs $20, but pre-owned versions are only $15. The same thing applies for the PS3 and DS versions as well.
Subscribe, like, rate, comment, reblog, share, please check out that adorable SpongeBob gif at the top of the sidebar, and stay tuned for a brand new post next Monday! Oh, and please consider the following: Wii Play Games could be back on the radar, it’s already at about 20 hits about now and it’s possible that it could be back in the hypes to raise the bar! If you want to revive WPG, go to wiiplaygames.wordpress.com and subscribe, enough subscriptions will make me considering a new post! Now, go go go!
– Sam :D
p.s. Would You Rather o’ the Week: Would you rather…wear only Gap clothing for the rest of your life, or wear only New Balance shoes for the rest of your life?
p.p.s. Random Video o’ the Week: I’m too exhausted to say more, so check out this hot jam. It’s Basement Jaxx and Robyn. C’mon, you know you want to. It’s got really good reception.