Category Archives: Gaming

The Summer of Mail

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Reddit

Please email Stephen all of your movie, TV, and random entertainment questions: stephenthescoop@hotmail.com


The dog days of summer are officially upon us, and with the heat and humidity making everyone miserable, I would gladly take some of that “Winter is coming” that Jon Snow is always talking about.  This is a very unusual time of year with baseball taking a break for a few days, most of the summer blockbuster movies have come and gone (RIP Indominus Rex), and Comic-Con has completed sending sweaty nerds home with visions of Joker dancing in their head.  There will not be any grand studio movie announcements anytime soon, and we have to wait until the fall for the TV shows we love to come back into our lives.

What I am trying to say is that I am bored, and even though Ant-Man and Trainwreck come out this weekend, there is nothing exciting on the horizon.  So what is a bored writer to do during this dark time when “Winter is coming,” but it won’t be here for quite some time?  He opens up the mailbag and answers some questions from his readers.  There are some terrific questions that I’ve wanted to get to, so let’s dive in and help each other beat the heat with some entertainment talk.


This time of year sucks as far as TV goes, what should I be watching right now?  I miss Sunday nights being the best night for TV, and True Detective isn’t doing anything for me.

Shane – Dallas, Texas

Sunday night is still must watch and I will tell you why: Battlebots!!!  There is NOTHING more metal that robots fighting each other with sparks flying, flames throwing, and nerds getting mad at each other.  If there was a way to gamble on this, then I might like this show more than Game of Thrones.  The smart money is on Tombstone, an intimidating number one seed, who has taken a basic robot design and is using it to make spare parts out of the rest of the field.

ABC
ABC

Sure, there may be other decent shows on that are dramatic and enthralling, but I am with you on not being able to get into True Detective, and I think part of that is that I need a break this time of year.  For years now, Sunday night was all about Breaking Bad or Mad Men or Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, so during the summer I am really enjoying my “drama” in 3-minute fights between two robots that were built by really smart people to destroy each other.  It is exciting and fun for all ages, so why not just enjoy the lull with something like this.  Battlebots is a bracket style tournament; you will quickly find someone to root for and even people to root against, like spoiled MIT kids who act entitled and who I hope meet Tombstone and have to watch their dreams destroyed in a violent manner.  Suck it MIT kids, Tombstone Fo Life!!


Can you give me any recommendations for a video game?

Jessica – Houston, Texas

Does this count? This is the last time I was current on video games.

Giphy
Giphy

I have spent the last month arguing with friends trying to decide who would win in a “John off” and have gone back and forth several times, so I’m sending this to you for help deciding.  Who would win in a fictional fight between Jon Snow and John Cena?

Jeremy – Waco, Texas

I hate to break it to you Jeremy, but both answers are wrong when it comes to who wins the battle of the John’s.  John Wick walks into a room with Cena, Snow, Wayne, or any other John you want, and walks out of that room alone.  Nobody wins a fight against John Wick, and I mean nobody, just ask Theon Greyjoy how it worked out.

Universal
Universal

That is one of the secretly underrated parts of John Wick, while we are on the subject.  If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, then you can watch full-dick mode Theon Greyjoy for the first part of the movie, and then seem him shit his pants and go full Reek as soon as John Wick shows up.  I’m sorry that I couldn’t settle your internal struggle of John; nobody stands a chance in this fight.


Is it me or is July 17th starting to resemble a heavyweight fight between Trainwreck and Ant-Man?  Who do you think wins the opening weekend?

It’s the most underrated movie battle of the year, and on top of those two movies going at it, don’t forget about those pesky Minions who will also be in the mix.  Trainwreck has been promoted so much now that it almost feels like I have seen the movie, so I am hoping there will be some surprises along the way. Amy Schumer is one of the funniest people in the world, and Judd Apatow is widely known and respected, so I have a strong feeling that this movie will be good, but you never know.

Apatow Productions
Apatow Productions

I had that same feeling about Funny People, and it is far from being a good movie.  It has good parts, but for the kind of star power it has, it drastically missed the mark.  Will Trainwreck have that same type of thing happen or will it stand out as the best comedy of the summer?  I honestly don’t have an answer, just the opinion that it will succeed, and even if it doesn’t, it is going to have a strong opening weekend.

Ant-Man, however, is something that I know will be good, but I’m not so sure about how it is going to open.

Marvel
Marvel

I am sure that it will be good because Marvel is a well-oiled machine at this point, and I trust that studio more than any other right now to turn out a quality product.  Guardians of the Galaxy had a solid opening weekend at $94 million with characters that nobody knew about at the time, but the only other movie it was going against was the less than stellar James Brown biopic Get On Up.  With Ant-Man, there is serious competition, and this may be the first Marvel movie that doesn’t open strong, even though it is going to be a strong movie.  I have a feeling that one of these two movies is going to suffer because of the other, and come in third at the box office with Minions coming in second.  I’m calling it now.


Who won Comic-Con this year?  I have watched the Batman v. Superman trailer at least 20 times.  It has to be that right?

Kenneth – Houston, Texas

I absolutely loved the Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer, and it was exactly what I wanted to see from the movie.  Seeing portions of Wonder Woman in-costume fighting is something that is new and exciting, and the only other thing that I wanted was Aquaman footage, but I get why they are waiting at this point.  I actually think Aquaman is going to be a key to part of the plot, so who knows if they will show him in the trailer at all.  All of that being said though, Suicide Squad, and more specifically The Joker, is what I came away from Comic-Con being the most excited about.  The trailer from that movie showed just enough of Leto as The Joker and holy shit does it look and sound amazing!

I have never seen a version of Joker like this on film, and I could not be more excited about Leto being the one who is bringing it to life.  In the Bats v Supes trailer, there is a brief shot of the Bat Suit with The Joker’s writing on it, so it appears as if this is post Killing Joke where it is taking place, which puts it in some of the most dark and scary Joker times that there have ever been in the comics.  The one thing that DC DEFINITELY does better than the competition is produce villains that are terrifying, and for my money, there is no better villain in the world than The Joker.  That short 20-second look at him in this trailer, and the knowledge that David Ayer is the one in charge, makes me so very excited to see the darkest version of this character.  That, to me, won Comic-Con and was the loudest reaction that I heard from any of the footage.


Stephen Balding is the Entertainment Badass for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenB_41.

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2015 San Diego Comic-Con Preview

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Reddit

Please email Stephen all of your movie, TV, and random entertainment questions: stephenthescoop@hotmail.com


If you walk outside right now, face west, and inhale really deeply, then it is possible that you will catch a whiff of the type of smell that can only happen when 1000s of sweaty nerds in costume converge in one place.  The 2015 San Diego Comic Con is this week, and this year, like every year, Whale’s Vagina becomes mecca for all things movie, TV, and comic book related.  If you are one of the people who says it has just turned into a corporate event and has lost all of its charm, then I’m here to offer you a counter-argument to that.

It would have never became such a large event if it wasn’t for those nerds who grew up reading comics and are now in charge of making those comics come to life.  Would you trade a smaller crowd once a year for no Dark Knight trilogy?  Some things are worth it, and I, for one, welcome those corporate studios because they want to get the crowd excited by huge announcements and fanfare.  The announcement two years ago that Batman was finally going to be on screen with Superman in the same movie made me cry and jizz at the same time, and that kind of movie or announcement wouldn’t be possible without the SDCC.  I mean, just look at the reaction and tell me that this still doesn’t give you the bumps of a goose.

I am very curious to see whose movie or news will dominate all of the talk this year, and have a few thoughts on the topic.  Let’s run through some of the top panels and preview what we hope to hear this year.


Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

DC Entertainment
DC Entertainment

Marvel has dominated the SDCC for the past few years and has established themselves as the top dog when it comes to comic movies, but they will not be there doing a panel this year.  Age of Ultron has already been released, and Ant-Man comes out next week, so all of their movie releases came at points that promotion here isn’t needed.  That gives DC a wide open lane to come in with some good footage and a couple of announcements, and destroy the minds of everyone there.

They have to put on a show because they are miles behind Marvel and need to make up some ground.  There is a trailer that has been released, but I’m expecting some new footage that includes more than Bats and Supes glaring at each other.  I’m hoping for some Wonder Woman footage because she is going to be one of the main characters, and if they don’t show her, then the fears that are present that they made a bad choice in casting are going to show up again.

Reddit
Reddit

On top of wanting some Wonder Woman footage, I would like to see Aquaman and his trident pimping around on the back of a whale.  I have a sneaking suspicion that Aquaman is going to have more to say in the plot than the title would suggest, so there may only be a quick shot, but it still needs to be a shot nonetheless.  This movie has so much more than Batman and Superman, and even though it is a year away, we want and need to see those other elements, and hopefully DC doesn’t let us down the way they did with that piece of shit Green Lantern movie like it has in the past.  Bring it on DC, drop your big movie dick on the table and show us what you’ve got!


The Hateful Eight

Weinstein Company
Weinstein Company

Quentin Tarantino will be making only his second appearance ever at SDCC, and could quite possibly steal the show.  There haven’t been any formal announcements on who will be showing up from the cast with him, but I can’t think of a better way to spend an hour than listening to Samuel L. Jackson say mother fucker while there is some awesome footage of people getting shot in the old west.  A trailer hasn’t been released for the movie yet, so get prepared to see it hit the web in the very near future since it will most likely debut in Hall H.

Now, it is very possible that Quentin doesn’t care about making a splash and is only showing due to a studio obligation, and if so, then it will be boring and he’ll be out the door.  However, if he is there to drink and party and blow people away with possibly the best cast he has ever had, then I am all for him showing everyone that he means business.  You never know which Quentin will show up, but I’m expecting movie fan/heavy-drinking Quentin to show up to crash parties and end up on YouTube doing something ridiculous.


Fear the Walking Dead

AMC Studios
AMC Studios

Say what you will about having The Walking Dead, the highest rated show on television, to anchor Sunday nights, but AMC is getting scared that they are almost out of programming.  Mad Men is gone, Better Call Saul isn’t the hit they thought it would be, and Walter White isn’t walking back through that door……wait, what??  Breaking Bad might have a season 6??  That scares me, and not in a good way.  With Fear the Walking Dead, this is a pure spinoff that the network is hoping will catch on the way its predecessor has and give them another show in their depleted arsenal.

The first season is premiering soon, and will only have 6 episodes, so you know full well that those episodes are going to be intense and action-packed.  They have some things in their favor, the top of those things being Kim Dickens being cast as the lead, and so there is a chance that it catches on, but for it to be successful, the Comic-Con/comic-reading audience needs to be on board.

AMC Studios
AMC Studios

This new show isn’t something adapted from the comics, this is a straight spinoff, so part of that huge audience might not respond to the characters the they did with the original.  At the end of the day, it’s still zombie-killing, and zombie-killing is fun to watch, but without that emotional connection from the story it will be a failure.  I am a huge The Walking Dead fan, so I’m rooting for it to work and for them to eventually meet the Atlanta group, but who knows if that ever happens.

At SDCC, however, the new show will be on the same panel as the old show, so any clips that are seen will have to be taken with a grain of salt.  Fans are going to go crazy, but that doesn’t mean they will watch it.  A good showing here might change that, or it might ruin it before it ever gets out of the gate.  This panel will be one that I watch closely.


Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Lucasfilm
Lucasfilm

Here is your odds-on favorite to show up this weekend (2nd to last show on Saturday) and shut down Comic Con like Eminem rap-battling a toddler.  JJ Abrams could walk into Hall H with a lineup that includes all of the members of nerd Mount Rushmore and make the force awaken in everyone’s pants at the same time, and I wouldn’t put it past him to do exactly that.  Sure, there has been some hype about the movie, but that is mostly from fans, and it is close enough now that the studio is going to start ramping up the excitement themselves.

Reddit
Reddit

What better way to do that then with Han, Luke, and Leia on stage together at the same time on a panel that will melt the faces of every fanboy in attendance?  I’m sure they have appeared together at some point since then, but if they have, I don’t remember it, and it is time for that to happen, even if Harrison Ford will be comatose the entire time and doesn’t give a shit about you.  He is still Han Solo, and his presence alone wins the SDCC; if he is as stoned as he normally is, the look on his face when 84 Chewbaccas are looking at him at the same time wins going away.  Someone please make that happen!  I don’t ask you for much!


Stephen Balding is the Entertainment Badass for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenB_41.

Top 5 Handheld Games

Nintendo GameboyFor me, it all started back in the day with this big grey rectangular device with a green screen. Before the days of being able to play every game ever created on every device imaginable, there was only Snake, and handheld systems like the original Nintendo Gameboy. These were the first steps towards today’s young gamer’s paradise. After the original Gameboy took the world by storm, it was followed by the Gameboy Color, PSP, Nintendo DS, and a host of others. While you try to remember the last time you played an original Gameboy, I give to you my Top 5 Handheld Games of all time.


TWD-game-cover.jpg

#5. THE WALKING DEAD- PS VITA

It was great being able to play this game on the go, as The Walking Dead is by far one of my favorite TV shows to watch. Developed by the same company that made the Sam & Max games, the first rendition of The Walking Dead games was a real hit. Granted, this game could be played on phones and home consoles, but my first playthrough was on the underrated PS Vita. The thing that made this game different from the other iterations was the fact that it came with the excellent 400 Days DLC, and all the episodes were already unlocked, so you didn’t have to wait. The story-telling is great, and you really feel a connection to the characters, considering the fact that you control, interact, and choose pretty much everything in the game. Playing this game was a very entertaining and engaging experience. The best way to describe it is that it is like a “choose your own adventure” game where your decisions/actions actually matter and shape the experience. The voice acting is superb, as is the character development and mood setting.

MegaManXtreme.jpg

#4. MEGA MAN XTREME- GAMEBOY COLOR

Released in 2001, Mega Man (or Rockman to the folks in Japan) has been around for years. Capcom has drastically restructured the design for Xtreme to include the best stages of Mega Man X and Mega Man X2, as well as a few original final boss stages, all wrapped around a completely new storyline that doesn’t completely explain itself until you play through the game in Normal, Hard, and finally Xtreme modes. It was rather surprising how the animation of the characters and enemies stood out so well considering the limits of the Game Boy Color, but the handheld did a great job at keeping the game running smoothly. Zero’s theme song sounded great in every scene, and all the themes pretty much matched the original games. Mega Man Xtreme was one of the best games on Game Boy Color and is still fun to play to this day.


WATCH: Dominic discusses his Top 5 Handheld Games list!


 

Power Stone.jpg

#3. POWER STONE COLLECTION- PSP

When the Power Stone Collection came to the PSP, I was beyond excited. These games were classics in their own right on the Dreamcast, so the fact that they brought them to the PSP was a treat for everybody. Imagine the most outrageous barroom brawl, transpose it to vibrant three-dimensional settings as varied as a medieval dungeon, the deck of a submarine, or a space station, then nitro-boost the pace and steroid-feed the combat until only one of the stylized characters is left standing; that’s Power Stone Collection. Both games in the set looked great on the handhelds, and the multi-player was phenomenal. Considering that Power Stone 2 came out in 2000, it was great to see how well the game held up. Power Stone and Power Stone 2 appear basically as they did on the Dreamcast in Power Stone Collection, though they’ve both been modified to include widescreen support (purists can choose the original 4:3 aspect ratio if they please). The AI was still challenging, and every fight felt different. Fun is the only thing Power Stone Collection cares about; authenticity is flung through the window.

Tetris

#2. TETRIS- GAMEBOY COLOR

The game that started my whole handheld experience, as well as my frustration, was Tetris. I still can’t get the song out of my head. Tetris has a simple premise, but the game has so much variety to it that it’s ridiculous. Trying to fit every piece into the right slot was fun yet challenging at the same, although a lot of batteries died while I was playing this game. There’s really not a lot to be said about this game that people don’t know already; the nostalgic feeling is what will forever be great to me.

God of War Chains of Olympus NA version front cover.jpg

#1. GOD OF WAR CHAINS OF OLYMPUS- PSP

I loved this game so much I bought the custom God of War PSP. Since God of War is a Playstation exclusive, it was only a matter of time before Kratos took his violence on the go. Ready at Dawn was already successful with their game (Daxter), so there was no worry that this game was going to be great. This game was epic. Story wise, it was actually a prequel to the original God of War game, so you got even more of Kratos’ back story. It actually is a little more “emotional” than the other games because you see Kratos more as a man than an angry, killing machine. I will say my main gripe with this game was the lack of a second controller analog stick, which played a vital role in the PS2 adaptations, but that’s only a small complaint. Other than that, the controller scheme is pretty much the same as its PS2 counter-part, which adds a sense of familiarity to the game. It looked like they pushed the handheld to its graphical limits because this game looked FANTASTIC. For such a big game on a smaller system I was impressed by the lack of loading screens while playing the game. It was one of the best hand-held games ever played and was a PSP-seller.

Honorable Mention

  • Road Rash – Game Boy Color
  • Duke Nukem Advance – Game Boy Advance
  • Metal Slug Advance – Game Boy Advance

What If Sports Games Had More Competition?

How would sports games be different if EA hadn’t bought the NFL license and stopped making baseball games? Would things be better? Would things be the same? It’s kind of a tough question to answer, but one that I know a lot of people have been wondering. Let’s see if we can find out by playing psychic (not Ms. Cleo).

Box art for ESPN NFL 2K5

Let’s start with football games, shall we?

For us to do that, we have to go back to before EA bought out the NFL license (end of 2004). The amount of variety for NFL games was already limited, because by then many franchises like NFL Blitz, NFL Fever, and NFL Gameday were pretty much either on their way out, or already gone at this point. The only real competition that EA’s Madden had was ESPN 2K5 (best game ever); 2K5‘s gameplay better than Madden, and the $19.99 price tag caused EA to panic and slash their usual $49.99 game to $29.99.

ESPN 2K5 came out a couple weeks before Madden, which gave gamers a chance to play it before the competition. There were a lot of people who still bought Madden (me included – I had both), and it was obvious to many who had the better product. Gamers, magazines, and websites alike were pretty much saying that ESPN 2K5 was the superior football experience, and EA was starting to feel the competition.

Fast forward to December 2004 when EA bought the NFL license, which granted EA the sole rights to the NFL’s teams, stadiums, and players. But what if they didn’t do that, and any company was allowed to make an NFL game? Now, I’m not going to sit here and say anything foolish like, “Madden games would’ve been cancelled,” but I do think that with the evolution of the NFL 2K franchise, it would’ve created competition, which meant better games from all parties involved. Madden has just recently started implementing the level of presentation that NFL 2K did back in ’04, most likely because they felt no pressure to do it sooner. With all the technological advances and the number of video game studios out there, we could’ve had a plethora (sorry, Stephen A. Smith) of games to choose from without having the choice made for us. As funny as it is to say this, we have to blame Visual Concepts for making such an amazing game.

Major League Baseball 2K6 Coverart.pngMLB 06: The Show

Let’s move on to baseball.

EA isn’t the king of every sport. In 2007, they had to stop making MVP Baseball because Take Two interactive struck a deal until 2012. In between that time, we got the MLB 2K series, and the greatness that is MLB The Show (made by SCE San Diego). Let’s just say that after 2012, EA decided to jump back into the fold and started to release either more MVP Baseball games, or just more MLB games period. EA did a phenomenal job with the MVP franchise, and I don’t think that they would have been top dog (that’ll still belong to MLB The Show), but I do think it would’ve been a close second considering how bad the MLB 2K franchise got to be.

CH2K8 front.jpg

Last but not least, I HAVE to touch on the lack of college basketball games (meaning, none).

After a 14-year run publishing NCAA March Madness, EA Sports discontinued its college basketball title in 2009. Its only competition, 2K Sports’ NCAA series, stopped publishing new college hoops titles in 2008. (Online servers stayed up until 2012, but even those are gone now.) 2K didn’t want to go after the college license for another year, which meant that EA had no competition. The lack of competition really showed, as they released the truly awful NCAA Basketball 09 and NCAA Basketball 10 (formerly known as March Madness). Take out the lawsuits and 2K not wanting to make college basketball games anymore, and just think for a second about how things could’ve turned out differently. College Hoops 2K8 was one of the best college basketball games I’ve ever played (except for Coach K College Basketball on Sega Genesis). It just embodied the whole college basketball experience from gameplay all the way down to presentation. If both companies did decide to keep making college basketball games, then I could really see this going the same the way their NBA counterparts, with the 2K College Hoops series really dominating this field based on how good the 2K basketball games are. That’s not to say an up-and-coming studio couldn’t have made a great college basketball game, but considering that there was hardly anyone making them at the time, we will never know. College basketball games are pretty much an untapped market, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens next.

I do feel like that if we had more competition then developers would put more effort into their video games. With so many companies folding (989 Studios, Midway) and taking their games with them, who’s to say that the choices we have wouldn’t be as limited as they are today? There was a time when we had many different options, but still ended up playing the same franchises. However, just knowing that the options were out there gave us the choice instead of having it made for us. It really comes down to this question: Would you rather have a variety of under-developed games like NBA 06-NBA 10, or just have 2 to 3 high quality games out there?

I’d personally take the latter, but all we can do is ask ourselves is, “What if?”


 

The Top 10 Lists: The Top 10 Sega Dreamcast Games

It’s such a shame that a system with so many great games didn’t have much success. The Dreamcast was coming in with so much hope and hype, and it seemed as if we had the next great game system.

The graphics that were displayed in these games were phenomenal, and Dreamcast was going to attempt to implement the online aspect even more than previous systems. Now, we can get into the failure of the system later, but let’s get into what’s important and begin the greatness that is The Top 10 Sega Dreamcast Games.

 #10. Sonic Adventure 2

For some fans, the first Sonic Adventure game will be their favorite because of the scene where your’re running away trying not to get eaten by a whale, but for me, Sonic Adventure 2 was better because of the variety of people you played with. Sonic Adventure 2 introduced the world to Shadow the Hedgehog, who wasn’t as bad as we thought in the beginning. You can play either “Hero” (Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles) or “Dark” (Shadow, Eggman, or Rouge the Bat) as you’re on a quest to collect the 7 chaos emeralds. The Knuckles and Rouge parts were forgettable, but the Sonic/Shadow sections made you feel like you were playing the original Sonic the Hedgehog games on Sega Genesis. Besides the story mode, you could raise your Chao in the Chao Garden, and also play the typical competitive racing stages. The voice acting on this game was horrible, but who plays Sonic games for the voice acting, right? It still suffered from the same camera issues as the first Sonic Adventure game, but other than that this game was great to play on the Dreamcast.

 #9. Ready to Rumble 2

LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! Who can forget the feeling of picking Afro Thunder for the first time? Now, the first Ready to Rumble game showed how great the graphics could be, as with my #10 entry, but the sequel really took things to another level. The different training regimens you could do in Championship mode were beyond fun, and the benefits for completing them were also a treat. As for gameplay, there were minor tweaks like the ability to parry attacks, but the most noticeable one was the new and improved rumble system, which if you got to level three, you could deliver a knockout punch and send your opponent out of the ring. The graphics are sharp, and how can you not appreciate a game that allows you to box with Michael Jackson, Shaquille O’ Neal, and Bill and Hillary Clinton? Special shout-out to G.C. Thunder with the Soul Glo hairstyle.

#8. Shenmue

For some people, this game would’ve at least been in the top 3, but as much as I enjoyed this game, there were 7 that I enjoyed more. When I say that this game is time consuming, I mean that this game is TIME CONSUMING. That’s not a bad thing considering everything that this game lets you do, whether it’s catching the bus to work, going on a date, or learning new fighting moves, it offered plenty of variety. This game was made by Yu Suzuki (he created the Virtua Fighter series) and to say that he delivered with this game would be an understatement. The game was by far one the best looking games on Dreamcast, and the storytelling was phenomenal. The level of detail in this game was great, and for a game that came out in 2000 it was very realistic. Although God of War gets the most credit for implementing Quick Time Events, it was Shenmue that rightfully started the trend. The dialogue and music on this game were great, and considering it’s technically a Japanese port, it really worked out well in the U.S.. This could very well be one of the BEST GAMES EVER, and how could it not be when your character owns a SEGA Saturn? It is a shame that we won’t get to see the end of this game, but considering that it came out 14 years ago it still looks great.


 

WATCH Dominic share his thoughts on this week’s Top 10 List:


 #7. Zombie Revenge

“Shotgun. Bullets. Antidote.” This game didn’t get a lot of looks but it was a very entertaining game to play. Zombie Revenge was sort of a side quest from the House of the Dead games; its third-person focus was a nice change of pace and was a beat-em-up shooter. You can select from three different characters:Stick Brightling (the blonde pretty boy), Linda Rotta (the sassy, yet tough, obligatory Jill Valentine wanna-be), and my personal favorite Busujima Rikiya (the funky half-zombie soul brother). You could obviously shoot the zombies, but the thing I liked the most was the ability to use hand-to-hand combat to preserve bullets. The game did run at a smooth 60fps, but it doesn’t really hold up all that well today. Besides that, it was a good arcade port, and for all you Youtube people out there, look up “Zombie Revenge Flamethrower and Drill.”

#6 NBA 2K-2K2

Yes I know I know I’m cheating, but what do I care? It’s my list. November 10, 1999, is the day that basketball games changed FOREVER. With the cover athlete being Allen Iverson, you just knew that 2K was going to be great. It implemented a more realistic counterpart to NBA Live 2000 and just felt more authentic. They did simple things, like on-the-court trash talk, and players looked more like their real life counterparts game after game. NBA 2K1 featured online multiplayer, and implemented real life street courts. These were the perfect NBA games to play at the time, and they were the beginning of the greatness of the 2K franchise.

#5. Dynamite Cop

Now I know what y’all are thinking, “Why is Dynamite Cop #5?” Well, plain and simple, this game was just flat out fun to me. Now, if you’ve played the Die Hard arcade game (and you should have), then this game would be right up your alley. The game took place on a cruise ship (the Titanic would be proud), and you can play as 1 of 3 characters, Jean, Eddie, or Bruno. The missions were pretty much the same, although they did give you different ways of going about them, which added a little variety to it. This was one game where the in-game action actually looked better than the cut-scenes, and the level of variety between the enemies and the main characters was fantastic. When you took enough damage, you’d end up in just your shorts (which I found amusing), and the gun sound effects were a nice touch. You could pretty much use ANYTHING as a weapon on this game, even a urinal or a vacuum. The one thing that I didn’t like a was that it was extremely short, and I mean shorter than Milli Vanilli’s music career.

#4. Capcom vs SNK 2

Capcom vs SNK 2 was one of the best fighting games I’ve ever played. For one, it features 2 of the premier gaming companies in Capcom (famous for Street Fighter) and SNK (famous for King of Fighters), going head-to-head in a very good fighting game. This one was for the hardcore fighting game enthusiast, considering that people really didn’t play King of Fighters in numbers anywhere close to Street Fighter. All the characters looked great, and having Ken & Ryu go up against Iori & Kyo, or Geese & Rugal go up against Bison & Akuma never got old. Graphically, this game looked great, and the gigantic roster was phenomenal. I did like the fact that you could choose if you wanted to play with “Capcom groove” or SNK Groove” (which I preferred) to cater to every gamer’s playing style. As great as this game was, there was another fighting game that I spent even more time on…

#3. Marvel vs Capcom 2

Just plain and simple….THIS…GAME…IS…AWESOME.

#2. NFL 2K-NFL 2K2

Oops, I did it again (sorry, Britney Spears). Yes instead of choosing just one game, I picked all 3 that were on the Sega Dreamcast. Now, first things first, this was the only NFL franchise on the Dreamcast that was worth playing, and it was the best thing smoking. The level of presentation on these games games and the commentary were fantastic; way better than Madden in my opinion. NFL 2K and NFL 2k1 were exclusive to the Dreamcast, and it was no loss. Just like its cover athlete Randy Moss, NFL 2K delivered fast, hard-hitting action, and if EA didn’t buy the NFL license, it could’ve given Madden a run for its money.

#1. Power Stone 2

Why can’t fighting games implement multiplayer like this awesome game did? The story of Power Stone 2 places the crew of fighters (enhanced by the addition of four new characters, and two hidden characters) in a castle from which they’re trying to escape. The only way out is through several wild fighting levels, including two boss fights. There shouldn’t have been any doubt that this game would be great, seeing as it was made by Capcom; it took everything great about the first game and took it to the next level. Gameplay was simple yet deep, and you actually had to have some kind of strategy going in considering you could come across healing items at any moment. The stages changed with the more damage you took, and fighting while falling off a sky ship never got old. The highlight of the game was what happens when you gained all 3 Power Stones: your character turns into a super-powered alter ego (my favorite was Falcon). I remember countless sleepless nights staying up and playing this game with 3 other friends as we battled it out time and time again without the game getting repetitive. Come to think of it, I let a friend borrow it for one night and didn’t get it back until 3 weeks later. That just showed how awesome it is.

They tried but failed to make the countdown:

  • House of The Dead 2
  • Blue Stinger
  • Hydro Thunder
  • San Francisco Rush 2049
  • Soul Caliber

NBA 2K vs NBA Live: Will EA Ever Reclaim The Throne?

Last week was a big week for fans of NBA video games (I’m still waiting on a Barkley Shut Up and Jam remake), as we saw the “Yakkem” trailer from NBA 2K15. From what I can see, they have implemented Ernie Johnson and Shaquille O’ Neal from Inside the NBA into the game. The trailer looked great and fans everywhere were excited.

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On the flipside of that, NBA Live announced that Damian Lillard will be the cover athlete for their upcoming game. Now, considering how bad the last NBA Live game was, I’m shocked that they got an all-star to even agree to be on the cover. I don’t know if it was a coincidence that they decided to announce their cover athlete on the same day, but if their plan was to try to steal some of 2K’s thunder, they failed worse than that Damon Wayans movie Marci X.
This move really showed me how far NBA Live has fallen, considering it used to be the go-to franchise for NBA games, that the announcement of a cover athlete was overshadowed by a trailer for a video game.
For you to understand that last sentence I’ll have to take you back to the beginning. NBA Live 95 was released in 1994, and was the mainstay when it came to basketball games. Many, and I do mean MANY different games (NBA Shootout, NBA Action, NBA In The Zone), were released before NBA 2K, and all of them pretty much paled in comparison to NBA Live at that time.
Fast forward to November 10, 1999, and the landscape for NBA basketball games was changed forever. Visual Concepts and Sega Sports released NBA 2K for the Dreamcast, and almost instantly made people forget about NBA Live 2000. NBA Live 2000‘s major selling point was that Michael Jordan was making his return to videogames, not to mention the fact that you could play each other one-on-one outdoors. It also featured seemingly simple things like referring to players by nicknames and trash talk on the court, and the game looked significantly better than NBA Live. Since then, Live has not been able to recover.
In 2010, NBA 2K11 was released, which included “Jordan Challenge” mode, allowing you to play 10 of Jordan’s best career moments. (That game is still fun to play even now.) To contrast to that, we got a demo of NBA Elite 11, which was god-awful and filled with glitches. It was criticized by not only fans, but NBA Players as well, most notably Andrew Bynum. The game was eventually canned and an EA went on a much needed hiatus.
The break wasn’t a successful one.  Three years later, NBA Live 14 was released, and it was atrocious. Meanwhile, 2K is sitting on top of the mountain, and not only was their first attempt on Next Gen Consoles (Xbox One & PS4) a generally successful one, but they are at the point now where athletes are picking the soundtracks for games.
Comparing the latest installments in the previous NBA franchises would be unfair, but lets just say that it was a miracle that NBA Live 14 was even sold in stores. NBA Live had the Bouncetek technology, which was okay, but the hop step move was so easy to abuse that it’s a wonder that this game wasn’t a downloadable game only. The players’ faces and movements were stiff, and looked worse than anything you could see on The Hills Have Eyes. Comparing 2k14 and Live 14 is like Michael Jordan playing a pickup game against Hot Sauce from AND 1; it just isn’t fair.
When you are good for so long, you are due for a down period. It’s hard to tell if EA will ever be able to reclaim the throne that they once owned. 2k has been consistently pushing out quality games since the Dreamcast, and hasn’t showed any signs of slowing. Unless EA does the same thing that they did with the NFL and buy an exclusive deal for players’ likenesses, then I just can’t see NBA Live sitting on top of the NBA throne again.

 

The Top 10 Lists: Top 10 Underrated Games

The word underrated could mean different things for different people. For me, I think a game is underrated when it is very fun to play and does everything right, but either sold poorly or got negative reviews, like an Oran Juice Jones album.

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Not to say these games didn’t have their flaws, but if a game sells under the amount that the company anticipated, then it won’t push the game in the way they initially did in the beginning. With that being said…. let’s get down on it (Please don’t sue me, Kool and the Gang).

 #10. URBAN REIGN (PS2)

Urban Reign is a fighting game on the PS2 that was made by Namco, the creators of Tekken and the horrible spin-off Death by Degrees. The game has 100 levels in single-player, and is the typical beat-up-street-thugs-until-you-get-to-the-head-honcho game, a la Bruce Lee in Game of Death. You play as Brad Hawk and are called upon to help clean up China Town, however, this game is better known for its combat. Multiplayer is where this game really shines, as it supports 4-player multiplayer. So if you were lucky enough to own a multiplayer at the time of release, you received maximum enjoyment out of this game. You have plenty of characters to choose from, and as a treat it even has Paul and Marshall Law from the Tekken games as playable characters. The game received mostly mixed reviews but it is a great multiplayer game for you and your buddies to play

#9. DARK SECTOR (XBOX 360)

This game was originally announced back in 2000, but was scrapped and redone. It reemerged in 2004, but was eventually released in 2008, and has been compared to Resident Evil and Gears of War, which is never a bad thing. Boy did it deliver; good thing it did considering it took 8 years to make. The feeling I got when I cut somebody’s head off for the first time after receiving my Glaive (which is like an over-sized ninja star)… The story is generic, but the action and gratuitous violence made me feel like I was in a Quentin Tarantino movie. Plenty of games implemented slow-motion, but the “Aftertouch” feature of this game is very satisfying. Considering that this didn’t sell as initially anticipated, this game was looked over. However, since it’s only 5 bucks, I don’t see why anybody wouldn’t play this game now.


WATCH: Dominic and Trey Mitchell from 1310 The Ticket Radio as they discuss this installment of our Top 10 Lists!

Dominic & Trey discuss this week’s Top 10 List


#8. MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE (SEGA GENESIS VERSION)

This was a game of many versions, as it was released on the SNES, Sega Genesis, Game Boy, and Game Gear. For me, the Genesis version was the best, because not only was it a decent Final Fight clone but it let you play with Zords as well. Now, it doesn’t really follow the movie all that much, but it is still a pretty good beat ’em up game. You could play with any of the 6 rangers, and the graphics look pretty good for a game that came out back in ’96. The soundtrack is phenomenal, and the simple controls make this game work. With all that being said, it was called nothing more than a Streets of Rage-type clone, and the game is noticeably short, but I will say this is one of the first movie-based games that I played that was actually well done.

#7. PSI-OPS (PS2 & XBOX)

Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy iss by far one of my favorite PS2 games of all time. As far as early third-person shooters go, this game executes things pretty well; especially its rag doll-like Havok psychics engine. You play as Nick Scryer, whose mind has been wiped out to infiltrate a terrorist organization, but he has been captured and has to escape. The thing that makes this game great iss the arsenal of psychic powers you gain as you progress through the game: Fire, Remote Viewing, Telekinesis, Mind Drain, Mind Control, and Aura View. My favorite is Mind Drain, only because not only does it absorb an enemy’s mental energy, but after you’re done, THEIR HEADS EXPLODE (awesome, I know). Even if had no idea where to go, it was fun to just find enemies and throw them around with telekinesis, or set them on fire and watch them run around until they eventually died. At a time where bullet time was the norm for games, PSI-OPS rejected it, and it was for the best, as just knowing that you can mind control somebody to jump off a building and land on some gas tanks and blow up is all that you need. The game is short, and after it’s all said and done, you get a “To Be Continued” (a la The Lord of The Rings). The reason that this game isn’t higher on the list is because although this game received nothing but positive reviews, it never was good enough for Midway to make a sequel. Considering that Midway is closed down, we may NEVER see a sequel.

#6. DEADPOOL (PS3 & XBOX 360)

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I will be the first to admit that this pick may be a little biased, because I am the biggest Deadpool fan out there. But, hey, it’s not in my top 3, so I should get credit for that, right? Deadpool is a Mature-rated game (rightfully so), and that did limit the audience that could play the game. This game captures Deadpool’s essence perfectly by constantly breaking the fourth-wall (meaning, to interact or acknowledge the players while playing). This is a very HILARIOUS game, and proves that even a lesser known comic book character can have a very entertaining game when portrayed correctly. With that being said, the problem with the game is that although Deadpool and the many cameos from other comic book heroes/villains are great, the gameplay is repetitive, and the enemy types don’t vary as much. Another issue (well, sort of) with this game is that not a lot of people know who Deadpool is, so although fans like myself were excited for the game, it seemed like the developers were trying to capitalize on the recent comic book phase, and just assumed that people would buy it. Admittedly, this game sticks to the source material perfectly, and is a very challenging hack-and-slash game; if only they would’ve implemented a few more enemy types, this game could have been a classic.

#5. INDIGO PROPHECY (PS2 & XBOX)

Indigo Prophecy was forgotten as one of the best interactive video games ever. The sequel to this game, Heavy Rain, was made on the PS3, and was a gold mine. But it was the original game that came out in 2005 that set the tone. First things first: EVERY choice you make in this game impacts not only your character, but the fate of other characters, and the whole story, as well. You actually care about what happens to the characters, which was a welcome change of pace considering the massive number of shooting games that were out at the time. The opening sequence lets you know what type of game it is going to be, as Lucas Kane stabs a man to death in the bathroom and you have to either try to clean it up, or escape out the bathroom window. The different conversation options you can choose from are also refreshing, and you actually have to think about it before you choose your options, because saying the wrong thing can lead to people thinking you are suspicious, and they might try to report you to the police or worse. You control 3 characters at different points, and every story has multiple paths that can be taken, which adds a lot of replay value to the game. Once again, although receiving positive reviews, I personally believed this game came out at the wrong time only because people were more about first-person shooters at the time; it’s kind of a forgotten gem. It’s ok, Quantic Dream, I will still help you find the Indigo Child.

#4. RESIDENT EVIL 6 (PS3 & XBOX 360)

RE6 was hated by pretty much everybody that played, it mostly due to the action approach that it steered the franchise into. Now, I can absolutely understand people’s outrage, but at the same time, after the monstrosity that was Resident Evil 5, RE6 was actually pretty good. The survival horror that made this game is gone, but people should’ve realized that once Resident Evil 4 changed the whole dynamic of the Resident Evil series, so for me it wasn’t a surprise at all. I actually like the 4 different scenarios that you can choose from, and seeing the stories from different perspectives all come together at the end. You play as Resident Evil’s mainstays Leon and Chris, newcomer Jake (who, SPOILER ALERT, is Albert Wesker’s son), and when unlocked, Ada Wong. The co-op is still there, which can hinder your progress considering how dumb the AI can be at times, but it did improve over RE5. My favorite character to play with is Jake, because he’s pretty much an overpowered douche, and I love every minute of it (don’t judge me). The original Resident Evil came out in 1996, so sooner or later, the game was going to go through some change, so stop treating this game like Matilda and throwing it in the closet.

#3. DMC: DEVIL MAY CRY (PS3 AND XBOX 360)

I will not sit here and say that I wasn’t a little skeptical about the design approach of Dante when this game was first announced. As a series follower, I have played every single Devil May Cry game, and I wondered what direction they could go in story-wise, considering they made the origin story with Devil May Cry 3; to see a black-haired, emo-looking Dante was a shocker. After playing the game all my skepticism went out the window, as I realized that this is a perfect “reboot” of Devil May Cry because it dives more into the relationship between Dante and his brother Virgil. The main change to the story is the fact that Dante is no longer half human/half demon, but now half demon/half angel. Everything that people loved about Devil May Cry is still present: he still owns rebellion, and ebony and ivory (his guns); and he is still young, snarky and full of sarcasm. So, for me, this game was a great addition to the franchise. Considering how much success Ninja Theory had after Heavenly Sword, Capcom obviously made the right decision by handing the franchise off to them. This has always been a stylish, fast-paced game, and this iteration of the game emphasized that to the max. Considering you’re in LIMBO (the game world) the whole time, the stage is constantly shifting and changing, so you’re never going to see the stage the same way twice. Unfortunately, no matter how great this game was, it sold less than 2 million copies, even less than Devil May Cry 4, which is baffling considering how awesome this game is.

#2. THE WARRIORS (PS2 & XBOX)

The Warriors game came out 25 years after the movie came out, and was one of the best movie-licensed games ever; that is still a baffling feeling. The game follows the story of the movie without giving away too much, as The Warriors are trying to get back to Coney Island after being framed for murdering Cyrus at the gang meet up. It is a beat-em-up-style game, but there are so many other different things you can do, such as stealing car radios, breaking into stores, tagging, and mugging civilians without ever breaking the flow of the game. They enlisted most of the original actors from the movie to reprise their roles, and it just added to the nostalgia of an already great game. It’s hard to be surprised at how good the game is, considering that Rockstar made it, but in light of the string of bad movie-based games at the time, it was a breath of fresh air. The co-op in this game is phenomenal, as you and a friend can enjoy the whole story line together, or can drop in and out of the game whenever you choose. On top of that, you and your partner never have to be together (even though you should if you want to survive) the whole game, as the screen splits apart whenever y’all separate. This game received mixed reviews, and actually sold decently, but when movie-based games come up, this game is never mentioned for some reason. This game still holds up pretty well even after all these years, and is still fun to pick up and play……WARRIORS COME OUT AND PLAY.

#1. ALPHA PROTOCOL (PS3 & XBOX 360)

No, your eyes are not deceiving you; Alpha Protocol is my number one underrated game. Alpha Protocol is an Action, Stealth, RPG game that takes place over a variety of different locations. Story-wise, it’s a typical Splinter Cell/James Bond espionage-type thriller, but what makes this one different are the choices that you are forced to make in a split second that affect the way the story plays out. Do you execute a terrorist mastermind, or make a deal with him? Do you want to be a professional, or just be jerk to everybody? The character development is what sets this game apart for me. You can make your character to have a mixed bag of abilities, or you can have him focus on just hacking, stealth, fighting, shooting, etc. This game is not without its flaws; the game is buggy, and the boss fights feel a little cheap at times. Even with that, the acting and dialogue in this game are great, and seeing how your choices affect the story is what made this game fantastic. This game could’ve been looked at differently if it didn’t come out after Mass Effect 1 & 2, which pretty much had all the character customization options and took it to another level. All in all, Alpha Protocol was a very underrated game, and in my opinion should at least be given a play-through, because once you start you wouldn’t be able to put this game down.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

  • GOD HAND (PS2)
  • SPIDER-MAN AND VENOM: SEPERATION ANXIETY (SEGA GENESIS)
  • VECTORMAN (SEGA GENESIS)
  • ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN (PS2 & XBOX)
  • DEVIL MAY CRY 4 (XBOX 360 & PS3)