Books, Comics, Culture, Editorial, Feature, Film & TV, Videos

Aaron’s Old Dragon Ball Z Binder | An Unboxing Video

Here’s a sneak peak at some video content that we produced whenever I went and visited Sam, James, Aaron, and Erica this past weekend! It’s a little long-winded, but we had fun and thought you would too. Next video will be short and sweet and show-off a lot more of what we did the weekend THAT WE FINALLY ALL MET IN PERSON FOR THE FIRST TIME IN FOUR YEARS (Ed. And none of us were murderers)! Enjoy.


Culture, Film & TV, News, Videos

“Ultimate Christian Wrestling” Needs Your Help!

At the New Orleans Film Festival last year I had the great pleasure of seeing a fantastic documentary about a small Christian Wrestling community in Georgia, appropriately titled Ultimate Christian Wrestling. The film was genuine in tone, focused on a very interesting group and their motivations, very funny throughout without belittling the beliefs of those shown, and a very human tale about dreams and how the road to achieve those goals can get so very twisted.

The version of the film that I saw was apparently an incomplete cut, according to director team Jae-Ho Chang and Tara Autovino during the Q&A that followed. Now, there is a Kickstarter campaign that has a week left and is a little over halfway towards its goal. If you’re at all interested in independent film, documentary filmmaking, or having a hand in assisting those that work in those fields, please consider contributing, and even if you can’t contribute sharing the link can help out tremendously.

I’d love to see this film in its final form and you’d really be in for a treat if you gave yourself the opportunity too.

The Kickstarter campaign can be found HERE and the film’s Facebook page can be found HERE.

Culture, Feature, News

The Week in Geek!

Hello readers! Welcome to my new weekly segment! THE WEEK IN GEEK. is, for the most part, known as more of an opinion/editorial blog. We also have a wonderful weekly podcast! We are not necessarily known for our breaking news, but I am here to put a stop to that! Well this may not be breaking news. But it is news that affects you and I will be dropping all of this wonderful information to you once a Saturday!

(Editor’s Note: *cough*)

So let’s get started. These are the geeky things that have happened this week!

New Pokemon TV App available for a tablet or smartphone near you!

Have you ever wanted to watch the Pokemon TV show on your iPhone? No? Well now you can! Our friends at the Pokemon Company have released an official Pokemon TV app that will allow you to watch your favorite episodes! They have the episodes sorted by regions (Johto, Kanto, etc.) and plan to drop weekly episodes and special showings of the movies! Download it now and catch them all!

Aliens Colonial Marines is finally out! And Everyone hates it!

Yes the long awaited Aliens movie sequel turned video game has finally made it to store shelves. What are the critics saying about it? They hate it! Will you? Thats for you to decide and me not to care! Rumor is, Gearbox didn’t even make the game! Can’t be that bad right? You can get the new Aliens game at your local retail for the low price of $59.99 (unless otherwise stated.)

Taco Bell announces Cool Ranch Locos Tacos!

Taco Bell has announced the soon to be released Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos via Twitter this week, Causing all of their followers to throw up a little in their mouths. I know! I can’t wait either!!

Skyrim DLC comes to something other than the XB360!

We have all been waiting for this folks! A working version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on the PS3! Oh wait… what? It’s the DLC that has been out forever on the Xbox? Does that mean I still can’t go in the water without my game freezing? Well crap. Must be why they are offering it half off…I mean, Yay! New DLC!!

Nancy Pelosi compares “game violence” size with Japan

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi inadvertently blames Japan for gun violence in America! Well, not really. But she does compare gaming violence and gun violence, claiming Japan has more violent video games than anywhere else in the world and much less gun violence. I guess that means everyone should move to Japan! Yay!

Nintendo announces many things in this weeks Nintendo Direct

This weeks Nintendo Direct directs people to buy the 3DS handheld game system with a plethora of game announcements. All the while the Wii U sits in the corner and waits it’s turn for a price drop  the spotlight. Nintendo also announces that 2013 is the year of Luigi, with our 2nd  favorite turtle stomping plumber getting the spotlight in more than a few games coming out this year.

Egypt Bans youtube from its people

In a strange turn of events, all of the people in Egypt cannot watch YouTube due to a ban because a documentary that most likely had way too many cats in it. Egypt’s government apparently wanting to troll its whole country said it “Was for the LoLz.” Ok… maybe I made that last part up.

Meteor explodes over small town in Russia

The Earth had a near miss this week as meteor exploded over a small town in russia. While there were injuries most likely due to the explosions sonic boom knocking everyone on their butts, there were no casualties. And while everyone in the small town of Russia were probably scared $—less everyone on the internet watching talked about how cool it looked. All the while Russians asked where Bruce Willis was to save them from impending doom. Americans found him on the big screen with the release of A Good Day to Die Hard.

Thats all the news I have for today! Thanks for tuning in. And check back next week while I read my local news paper!

Culture, Feature, Video Games

Turning Fear Into Fun

For those who know me, I’m not really a fan of “scary” things. I’m terrible with movies. I’m terrible with games. I’m terrible with my jerk face friends hiding in our shadowy laundry room just waiting for me to walk by. That’s why it’s so odd for me to play horror games. The odd part of this being that I play a lot of horror games. Some people like them. Some people like “feeling the fear” or whatever other crap they might say in regards to their love of the genre. Me? I hate it, which really brings my sanity into question given the number of them I’ve played.

The point, you ask? The point is that a simple little addition to the formula is what gives me fond memories of horror games instead of terrible ones. It’s friendship. That sounds like the corniest line of cheese this side of an inspirational Saturday morning cartoon, but I mean it sincerely. If you have a good group of friends, you can get through anything.

To backtrack slightly, the thing that spurred this along was the fact that I had pre-ordered Dead Space 3. I pre-ordered, I paid it off, and I was in. I was very pleased about this purchase decision because I really like the first Dead Space. It didn’t hit me until about a week ago that I still haven’t beaten Dead Space 2. The furthest I had ever gotten, it appeared, was midway through Chapter 4. The last

One of Dead Space 2’s chilling “OH GOD WHY!?” moments. An insane mother holds a mutated baby that then blows her to bits seconds later. Fun.

time I played it before this week was, funnily enough, February 5th 2012. With the impending release of a new game I didn’t want to have to backlog immediately, I took to my console and began playing. As expected, I slowed my pace by about Chapter 3, and eventually stopped. It took the prodding of one of my roommates to finally bring my PS3 out to the living room and play with the lights off…and my friends watching. It was because of this that I finally conquered Dead Space 2 almost two years later.

The experience was fun, as to be expected. The idea that your friends were watching you play a scary game and trying to make you even more scared sounds terrible on paper, but it really is a lot of fun. The whole time, comments about the game were being thrown around and occasional noises and motions added a bit to my adrenaline, but I was able to laugh at the situation after my friends pointed out how crazy I was being. I was actively associating fun times with this game, thus giving me good memories of the game.

Now that you understand the formula (y/x + ooga booga + friendship x π or something like that), it was around the time my roommate Dave made me fall over after scaring me after a Dead Space bathroom break when I understood it too. Friends offer unique insight into anything you do. Being mean like Dave is one of the ways that happens, I guess. It started me thinking about other games I’ve played in the past and how my friends made an otherwise negative experience better. I recall being in a basement with one of my friends for the entirety of Dead Space, as an example. A game that is, arguably, much scarier than its sequel, Dead Space would’ve taken a lot out of me if I would have played it by myself.

Even as far back as the original Resident Evil, way before I had any justifiable reason for playing/being witness to Resident Evil. I spent several nights with my cousin playing Directors Cut and having so much fun because I had another victim with me. I remember a sweat drenched, heart pounding weekend where a friend and I played through as much as we could of the first three Fatal Frame games. I distinctly recall yelling loud enough to wake my friend’s mother, which nearly resulted in a one-way trip home.

Hey! I said no means no!
Hey! I said no means no!

Really, I’ve conquered so many scary games because I’ve had my friends with me. I’ve defeated Silent Hill, Clock Tower, Resident Evil, Dead Space, Condemned (well and truly, eff bears…forever), Siren, Penumbra, The Suffering, and several other relatively unimportant ones (read: I don’t even remember anymore). That’s a lot of games for a genre I claim to hate so much. It’s just all about assigning good experiences to bad ones. It’s a mental game, really. You’re using outside forces to tweak your memories and opinions of something

What am I even doing to myself anymore?

that otherwise would have no outside force. I love tricking my brain like that. It makes me feel like I have more power than I actually do.

Perhaps I’m perverting the general system of horror games by doing this. As a rule, these things are typically lonely and very solitary personal experiences. I fully believe that most developers intend for the user to play the game in a lonely and solitary position…lights off…volume up…darkness settings down…no company. If I’m wrong for doing it this way, don’t tell me. This “way of life” (if you will) has saved dozens of games from being half played. It’s probably saved dozens more from being sixteenth played.

And now, I’m (apparently) going to be tackling Amnesia: The Dark Descent. As nightmarish as I expect that to be, I also expect it to be fun because I’ll have a friend suffering with me. And we all know we get by with a little help from our friends.


Culture, Feature, Gaming

Card Wars: Star Wars CCG

A customizable card game is often a game of strategy and role-playing, much like Dungeons and Dragons or a video-game RPG.  However, instead of pen and paper or a controller, players use cards to interact with each other and with the game world.  These cards often represent characters or equipment in specific universe (such as Star Wars or Pokemon), events that take place in said universes, or spells and attacks that have an effect on the game world or players within it.  Players attempt to be the first to complete an objective set forth by the rules of the game.

These games were fun and addicting to your average nerd.  It set off our love of role-playing and our near obsessive need to collect and horde the items of our interest.  It makes for a savagely beautiful thing.  You will never find a more desperate bunch than the hardcore customizable card game addicts.  I was one, and still am when nobody is around to check on me.

Everybody knows Magic the Gathering and Pokemon, but I’m not here to talk about those. I may get to them eventually, but if you really want to know about those and what that’s like just go to your local comic book store one Friday night.  People still play those games, they’re still in print.  What I am after is the long gone, the forgotten, the ones that sank back into the deep dark and never came back.  I am looking on Ebay, ordering cards from Europe at 4 AM on a Thursday morning.  I haven’t slept in a while and don’t plan to.  Not yet.

The Boom and the Bust

The first game I am going to look at in this series was one that I held dear for quite a while.  The ill-fated Star Wars CCG.  Released by Decipher in December of 1995, the game hoped to capitalize on both the massive boom in interest of CCG games thanks to Magic the Gathering, and the inherent lust for all things Star Wars that many of the CCG demographic were so prone to succumbing to.  It would go on to be the second most successful card game of the period, second only to the top dog that was Magic. Star Wars the Customizable Card Game was in print from it’s release until Lucasfilm (which was recently sold to Disney which may have to be  the subject of a future article) denied Decipher their  request to renew their license that would allow them to continue printing the game in the final quarter of 2001.

This game was complex.  I cannot stress this fact enough.  This game was mind-numbingly complex, to the point that it had nearly driven away its entire player base before the game finally went out of print.  I am looking at the final copy of the rule set, it’s 158 pages.  It is half the size of a Harry Potter book, and makes even less sense.  The rules were updated drastically and new gameplay mechanics were added with nearly every expansion set that came out for the game.  There was so much errata to the game that if you started playing on launch and quit for about three years and came back, you would hardly know how to play anymore (memory loss aside and assuming you actually learned the already complex rules from the launch version of the game).

The complexity of the game was only one facet of the decline of this game.  Probably even more pressing was the lack of play testing when new mechanics were introduced in the waning years of the game.  The most outlandish incident was the inclusion of so called “operative” cards.  These cards came in the Special Edition set of the game, released in response to the Special Editions of the Star Wars films. The set came out not long before the 1998 Star Wars CCG World Championship.  The set was hardly play tested, as it had been shifted from a 180 card set, to a full 324 card set seemingly on a whim.  Needless to say, many players attending the championship that year had no idea what these “operatives” were or that they would be game breaking.

Operative cards basically stack up together and wreck your day.  There were no limits to how many of a single card you could have in your deck in Star Wars CCG, as such many of the players who realized quickly that operative cards were much more powerful than one might assume at first glance had up to a third or even as much as half of their total deck consist of these cards.  The first day of the tournament, a few players roll in with operative decks and clean house.  Players begin confronting the developers of the game, who were in attendance.  They ask them what they were planning on doing to stop this menace.  The blood pressure rises.

The stirrings in the hotel that weekend became chaotic, frantic…desperate.  There were people running up and down the halls of the hotel deep into the second night of the tournament, searching, hustling. People were begging for cards, pleading for operatives. It became a mad rush to obtain the precious resource, the life’s blood of the tournament deck.   Anybody who wasn’t in the know as of yet certainly began to catch on at this point.  They realized that the only way to win against these cards was to play these cards.

This mad rush for the game winning card is part of what drives the CCG player.  The hunt for the competitive edge, the secret tech play that will be so resoundingly unbeatable that the game will no longer be left to chance.  Victory assured before the first card is drawn, that’s the real goal of many CCG players.  It is something not entirely unique to the game type, but it seems more possible.  There tend to be so many more interactions in card games than in video games and even in some of the pen and paper table top games out there.  The search for that winning combination or strange game breaking card interaction is an addiction even among the already addicted.

Trust Me : It was Pretty Decent

Despite the hell-scape nightmare that this game could be, it had it’s moments.  I remember it being one of my favorite CCGs of all time honestly.  The game is massive in scope compared to its contemporaries.  Instead of being confined to an imagined battleground, isolated from the rest of the universe, locked in a one on one battle with your opponent, Star Wars allowed for a much more mobile experience.  The battles took place over the many iconic locations of the Star Wars universe.  The game  centered around the battle for control of these locations and the resources and abilities these locations provided.  The combat was more diverse than many games, as there were weapons and space craft added on to the normal ground based character skirmishes.  Characters could equip blasters and lightsabers, or pilot starships to take the fight into space.

The game was rich in the lore of the Star Wars universe.  It goes without saying that a large part of the early success of the game was based on the franchise that it was tied in with.  The Star Wars universe gave a rich backdrop to this complex game, and grounded it in something many people were already well versed in.

Decipher had some pretty innovative ideas in the game that have not been popularly paralleled to my knowledge. First was the concept of having cards be faction oriented, the only other game I am even aware of that has such a feature is the World of Warcraft CCG. Cards were affiliated with the light side (the Jedi and the Rebels) or the dark side (the Sith and Empire).  Your deck had to contain cards from only one faction to be play legal.  This was interesting since both sides played rather differently, with the Empire being able to bring out swarms of cheap low powered units like Tie-Fighters and Stormtroopers, where the Rebels tended to rely more on higher costing but more powerful units like X-Wing fighters and the hero unit Obi-Wan Kenobi.  This would lead players to have to develop multiple decks, as you would have to alternate between the light side and the dark side in official tournament play.  This made for many more possible interactions in the tournament environment (when an interaction such as the aforementioned operative scenario were absent from the tournament landscape).

The Star Wars game did what a lot of other CCGs couldn’t do for people.  It brought them into their favorite universe and gave them the chance to role-play some of their favorite parts of the game.  Sure the game eventually became a convoluted dumpster fire of hundred page rule books and broken card combinations, but it took longer than most games and is probably the least offensive of some of the other mid-nineties card games in terms of its eventual tail spin into destruction.  People still remember this game, I bet if you go to your local comic book store and ask some dude that looks like he’s 30 and may have some Darth Vader action figures what he was doing on a random Saturday in 1996 other than smoking weed and listening to TLC, he would probably at least know what this game was, and chances are he probably played it.