• Gamestuff: Savage Worlds, Session 1


    Savage Worlds by Shane Lacy HensleyChris, Gus and I got together last night to play Savage Worlds a role-playing game by Shane Lacy Hensley, published by Great White Games. I picked up a copy of the core rulebook at Con on the Cob last year, Chris picked up the Explorer’s Guide1The Explorer’s Guide is essentially the same content, with errata and updates, as the core rulebook at a third of the price. I’m not bitter. At all. at Origins in July, and Gus downloaded the Explorer’s Guide last week.

    Gus volunteered to run the game early this week, specifying that the setting would be New York City sometime in the 1930’s/1940’s and we’d be playing in the pulp/action/horror genre. Chris and I spent an hour or so last night generating our characters and finished up just as Gus arrived.

    Chris is Templeton Dirge, a professor of the occult at New York University. Dirge is everything a professor of the occult should be: arrogant, filthy rich and British. He’s smooth and sophisticated, has a keen eye for detail, and just might be a handy guy to have around when fists and bullets start flying.

    I am Mack Noland,2Mack didn’t have a last name until Gus called him “Mack No-Last-Name”. I grabbed the first letters of each word, and declared that his full name was “Mack Nolan”. That … Continue reading a grizzled ex-cop turned even-more-grizzled private investigator. Mack walks with a limp, looks like he’s been on the wrong end of a baseball bat and a carving knife a couple of times, and doesn’t buy into any of this spooky supernatural horsepuckey. On the other hand, he’s a damn good private dick and he’s packing heat.

    As our story begins, the Professor and the P.I. are complete strangers, but a mysterious postcard from none other than John D. Rockefeller summons both men to the famed industrialist’s stately manor to discuss the acquisition of “a book”.

    Met at the door by a butler, Dirge and Noland are ushered to Rockefeller’s library and informed that the master of the house will join them shortly. While the Professor peruses the impressive collection of literature, the Gumshoe smokes a cigarette and makes himself comfortable in an armchair that likely cost more than the annual rent for his office and apartment combined.

    Moments later, the butler returns, explaining that Mr. Rockefeller has been delayed and offering refreshments. Ever the gentleman, Dirge requests a cup of hot Earl Grey tea, while Noland gruffly demands a glass of whiskey. The beverages arrive in a matter of moments, and an uncomfortable silence occupies the room while both men sip their drinks.

    As the last of the whiskey burns its way down Noland’s throat, there is a disturbance in the front hall. A loud pounding on the manor’s front door precedes an equally-loud demand that the door be opened, on no less authority than that of the New York City Police Department.

    Neither Dirge nor Noland makes a move to open the door—surely that’s the domain of Rockefeller’s manservant—but after it becomes abundantly clear that the butler has no intention of fulfilling his duties and the police make their intent to batter the door down if necessary, the P.I. sets his empty whiskey glass down, exits the library, and opens the door…to find the barrels of five service revolvers and one Lieutenant Bill Dillinger—a familiar face indeed—staring back at him.

    The Occultist and the Gumshoe quickly explain their presence at the Rockefeller manor, turning the mysterious postcards over to Lt. Dillinger, who reports that they’ve received word of a disturbance. Dillinger crosses to Rockefeller’s study and opens the door, then invites Noland to have a look in the room. Instinct tells the P.I. what the Lieutenant already knows: John D. Rockefeller lies dead on the floor, a bullet hole in the center of his forehead. Around the bloody hole, someone—presumably the killer—has drawn a large, black spider. The gruesome sight stirs a dim recollection in Noland’s mind, something about a vigilante killer dispatching criminals in a similar fashion and leaving the eight-legged embellishment as his macabre calling card.

    Dillinger confirms Noland’s suspicions, mentioning a series of killings attributed to an outlaw the police refer to as “The Spider”. “But,” the Lieutenant says, “this guy only kills criminals, and Rockefeller’s clean. No ties to the mob whatsoever.”

    Noland sneers at this. “You and I both know, Bill, when we’re talking about as much money as Johnny’s got, there’s always something stinking up the cellar.”

    Dillinger places both men under arrest and Noland turns his Smith & Wesson .44 over to the boys in blue, noting that the chamber is fully loaded and the gun clearly hasn’t been recently fired. Dirge is unarmed, and while he is being frisked his keen eye spots something out of sorts on the desk: a rectangular area, roughly the size of a book, conspicuously absent of dust.

    “Looks like the butler hasn’t been doing is job,” Noland comments gruffly.

    “That’s just it,” Dillinger replies, “the butler was let go weeks ago.” Rockefeller, it seems, has yet to hire a replacement.

    “Are you going to come along quietly” asks Dillinger, “or do I need to have the boys cuff you?”

    Noland and Dirge agree to cooperate and Dillinger forgoes the handcuffs.

    As the police escort their suspects out of the manor, a shot rings out in the darkness and one of the Lieutenant’s men collapses. A second shot fells another flatfoot and Dillinger barks at his men to retreat. Noland and Dirge duck behind the tall pillars outside the double doors leading into the house as a third shot catches another of the officers in the shoulder.

    “Hey, Mack,” Lt. Dillinger yells, perhaps coming to the realization that his suspects are telling the truth. “You want your gun back?”

    Noland responds in the affirmative and a second later his trusty .44 is soaring through the air in a graceful arc. The Detective snatches the revolver out of the air, then follows Dirge back into the house.

    The Professor, unarmed and recognizing that he has nothing to add to this particular fracas, ducks into the study to get a better look at the crime scene. Meanwhile, Noland races to the library, returning a moment later with a lit kerosene lantern. Running out onto the front steps of the manor, the P.I. lobs the lantern into the darkness, hoping to shed a little light on the scene and perhaps reveal their attacker. Alas, Noland isn’t a young man anymore, and the limp he sports as a result of a gunshot wound suffered in his days on the force slows him down; the lantern doesn’t fly as far as he’d hoped, and when it lands, the kerosene lights the hedge lining the driveway ablaze.

    After a few tense moments it appears that the gunman (or woman) has fled, so Dillinger’s men assist their wounded comrade to their patrol car and the Lieutenant returns to the manor. The attacker has been playing possum, however, and the next bullet catches Dillinger in the shoulder. Returning from the study, Dirge hauls the Lieutenant into the safety of the house while Noland closes the door behind them. A moment later the sound of two explosions comes from outside, muffled by the manor’s thick walls, and Noland surmises that the police cars parked in the driveway have been obliterated, along with their unfortunate occupants.

    Dirge and Noland drag the wounded Dillinger into the library, where the Professor attempts to staunch the bleeding while Noland’s attempts to ring the police are stymied by a decidedly dead phone line. Satisfied that the unconscious policeman won’t bleed to death before help arrives, Dirge suggests that finding another way out of the house may be in order. Noland agrees, but before leaving the library he retrieves the postcards from Dillinger’s jacket pocket and Dirge avails himself of the incapacitated lawman’s service revolver.

    The two men conduct a quick search of the ground floor and find what appears to be a servant’s entrance near the kitchen. Gun drawn, Noland kicks open the door only to find a beautiful, frightened woman hiding behind it. Sensing that the situation requires far more finesse (and, quite frankly, charm) than the P.I. is capable of, Dirge intercedes and attempts to calm the blonde, berobed damsel. “Put the gun away,” the Occultist advises, “and fetch the young lady a drink, won’t you?”

    “Oh, I’m the butler, now?” Noland grumbles, but holsters his revolver and returns to the study, where he breaks into Rockefeller’s well-stocked liquor cabinet and pours a generous glass of brandy.

    The booze seems to have a calming effect on the distressed dame, and as she starts to sip her second glass of brandy, she finally speaks. Her name, as coincidence would have it, is Brandy, and she knows something about a book; specifically the Book of the Dead.

    “Sumerian or Egyptian?” Dirge asks, surprising the woman with his knowledge of the subject.

    As the Occultist and the Damsel discuss the nuances of necronomica, the trio adjourns to the study, where Noland notices that Brandy—if her confused glances at the empty spot on Rockefeller’s desk are any indication—had expected to find a (if not the) book.

    Brandy is caught off-guard when the Gumshoe confronts her, but nothing could have prepared either of them for the next words to come out of Templeton Dirge’s mouth.

    “Brandy, my dear,” the Professor says, smirking slightly, “your hair seems to be somewhat askance.”

    Instantly, Brandy’s demeanor changes. Before either man can react, the young woman peels back a blonde wig to reveal a head of short, brunette hair. In the same motion, she shrugs out of her all-concealing robe and draws a pistol from the shoulder holster on the form-fitting flight suit she wears beneath it.

    Dirge persuades Brandy to lower her weapon and offers his postcard as evidence that—whatever her business with Rockefeller and the Book of the Dead may be—he and Noland are not involved and neither man means her any harm.

    Brandy tells Dirge that the book missing from Rockefeller’s desk is a diary believed to contain the location of the original Egyptian Book of the Dead.

    The trio moves their conversation into the library and the Professor is in the process of checking the dressing on Dillinger’s wound when Brandy draws her revolver again, aiming the weapon at the incapacitated officer. Dirge positions himself in the line of fire and Noland levels his .44 at Brandy.

    “You don’t understand,” she protests. “He’s here for the book, too!”

    This time it is Noland who persuades Brandy to lower her gun. The lieutenant clearly isn’t a threat in his current condition, and it’s a bit much to ask the Detective to take the dame’s word against an old colleague’s. Brandy holsters her pistol once more, then cocks her head to one side. “Listen,” she says. “Do you hear that?”

    The sound of approaching sirens would normally be a welcome one, but Brandy insists that they must all flee before additional law enforcement personnel descend upon the manor. Against his better judgment, Noland agrees to accompany Brandy, but not before leaving a hastily scrawled note for the unconscious Lt. Dillinger: Bill. We didn’t do it. Really. Mack.

    Any compunctions Templeton Dirge might have about fleeing the scene of a crime are overwhelmed by the idea that he might actually be on the trail of the original Egyptian Book of the Dead. He, too, agrees to go with Brandy, and soon the trio is roaring away from the Rockefeller estate in the raven-haired beauty’s sporty roadster.

    To be continued…

    1 The Explorer’s Guide is essentially the same content, with errata and updates, as the core rulebook at a third of the price. I’m not bitter. At all.
    2 Mack didn’t have a last name until Gus called him “Mack No-Last-Name”. I grabbed the first letters of each word, and declared that his full name was “Mack Nolan”. That was a bit to close to Mack “The Executioner” Bolan for my liking, so I tacked a “d” on the end.
  • Gamestuff: Free RPG Day


    Free RPG Day - 23 June 2007Today was the first annual Free RPG Day, during which nearly 300 hobby gaming stores across the United States gave away free role playing game quickstart rules and adventures modules to their customers. A handful of stores in the Cleveland area participated, including I’m Game, an excellent gaming store in the Great Northern Mall (about 45 minutes from the International House of Johnson).
    I’m Game StoreI met J.J. “Working Man” Lanza and Victor “Tangent” Cantu (Fist Full of Comics and Games) at I’m Game to check out the free swag. There were a dozen or so different sets of quick-start rules and adventures up for grabs, including:

    • Quick-start rules for White Wolf‘s upcoming release, Changeling: The Lost.
    • A preview of the science-fiction RPG “Septimus”, from West End Games.
    • “Dungeonbattle Brooklyn”, an adventure for the Xcrawl campaign setting from Goodman Games.
    • “Goblin Lake” a solitaire adventure for Tunnels & Trolls from Flying Buffalo.
    • “The Pig, The Witch and Her Lover”, a Warhammer roleplaying adventure from Black Industries.

    We also interviewed Wendy Kerschner, co-owner of I’m Game, and “Jeff Venture”, an employee and RPG-enthusiast who — after our interview — ran a demo of “Temple of Blood”, another freebie adventure from Goodman Games. The interview will be up on the Fist Full of Comics and Games website in the next few days, and will probably make an appearance in one of The Harping Monkey feeds, too.

  • Geekstuff: The Birthday Rundown


    Well, I’ve been thirty-four years old for a week now and I’ve gotta say I’m liking it so far. There are times when being an adult is all about socks and shirts and ties, oil changes and mortgage payments, but I’m happy to say that my family and friends know that I’m still all about the books, comics, toys and games. Apart from a very nice polo shirt from my mother-in-law, most of my birthday bounty would have been eagerly received by seventeen-year-old me.

    • LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy for the Xbox, from my young apprentice. Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.
    • The Making of Star Wars by J.W. Rinzler, from Laura.
    • A Boba Fett t-shirt, also from Laura.
    • The Ultimate Fantastic Four trade paperbacks volumes 1-5, from Miscellaneous G™.
    • Three Hellboy comics signed by Mike Mignola, from Chris.
    • A green FlyTech Dragonfly, from my sister-in-law and her family. A remote-controlled ornithopter! How cool is that?
    • A musical Batman card from my elder, bigger little sister.
    • Filthy lucre from my parents, mother-in-law and grandparents-in-law, which I used to buy:
      • 18 by Moby (CD)
      • Play by Moby (CD)
      • Hellboy: Sword of Storms (DVD)
      • Dune: Extended Edition (DVD)
      • Blade Runner: Director’s Cut (DVD)
      • Pan’s Labyrinth (DVD)
    • Last but not least, pumpkin pie from my grandparents-in-law. Yes, it’s more of a fall pie. I don’t care. I will eat it now and then, I will eat it anywhen!

    [EDIT: I forgot a couple of things!]

    • Police Squad! The Complete Series on DVD, from the Wiitalas. Police Squad! didn’t succeed as a television series (a shame, because it’s hilarious), but it eventually evolved into three Naked Gun movies.
    • Spamalot Original Cast Recording, also from the Wiitalas. Laura and I saw Spamalot last year, and it was fantastic. My favorite song is probably “The Song That Goes Like This”, but they’re all good.
    • The first season of Arrested Development on DVD, from my sister and her boyfriend. Despite several people telling me I should have been watching this show when it was originally on the air, I’ve never seen it. I’m probably directly responsible for its cancellation.
    • The Omnivore’s Dilemma, also from my sister and her boyfriend. I’m not sure, but I think this book has something to do with that “fourth meal” I’ve been hearing about at Taco Bell.

    Are my friends and family not awesome? Yes. Yes they are. They made me a very happy birthday boy.

  • WebChess Returns



    That’s right, WebChess has returned! Click the link in the Features section or just click here to register for an account.

    Please note that WebChess stores passwords in plaintext, so don’t go using any of your favorite, hyper-secure passwords. I’ll see if I can’t fix this in the near future.

  • Game Review: LEGO Star Wars (Xbox)


    LEGO Star Wars (Xbox)

    LEGO Star Wars (Xbox)

    I was on the fence about picking up LEGO Star Wars because it covers Episodes I – III of the movie trilogy, and I’m not a big fan of the prequels. However, I’d heard some pretty good things about the game and I was curious to give it a shot. Then two things happened: the game moved to the “Platinum” series—which essentially means a new box, a twenty dollar price tag and (I believe) compatibility with the Xbox 360—and I found out that the game features cooperative multiplayer capability, which is almost enough to get me to buy any Xbox game.

    Miscellaneous G™ and I played LEGO Star Wars for about five hours one evening, completing both Episode I and Episode II. A week or so later, it only took us a couple of hours to finish Episode III after which we started running through the game in “Free Play” mode, playing whichever characters we liked (G avoids playing Jar-Jar Binks, for some reason) and trying to find all of the hidden mini-kit parts. Successfully collecting these parts doesn’t affect gameplay, but the parts are assembled into various vehicles from the Star Wars universe that can be viewed outside of Dexter’s cantina (the LEGO Star Wars equivalent to Cheers).

    LEGO Star Wars is geared toward the younger gamer, but has proven to be quite enjoyable for the more “mature” player as well. The total absence of clumsy dialog and wooden performances (can little plastic people emote?) made the prequel trilogy a bit more enjoyable for me, and “accidentally” killing Anakin Skywalker from time to time is quite cathartic.

    Most of the story focuses on tromping through various familiar settings armed with a lightsaber or blaster, but each episode throws one vehicle-based mission into the mix (e.g., the Episode I podrace). The Episode II vehicle mission, which takes place on the surface of the planet Geonosis, reminded both Miscellaneous G™ and I of the classic arcade space-shooter, Zaxxon.

    Whether traipsing through the Kashyyyk forest as Chewbacca or fighting a space battle as Obi-Wan Kenobi, points are scored by collecting LEGO “studs” of varying colors. Studs are used as currency at Dexter’s cantina to purchase game cheats and hints or unlock new characters. Characters are also unlocked in the course of regular gameplay, and there are more than thirty playable characters in all, good and bad guys alike.

    Levels are designed in such a way that it is impossible to collect all the secret mini-kits during “Story Mode,” thus requiring that the level be replayed in “Free Mode” with different characters. This isn’t as annoying as one might expect, as there are a lot of characters to choose from, each with his or her own interesting ability. Blaster-wielding characters, for example, have the ability to rappel at certain points, while Jedi and Sith characters can use the Force on various objects. Young Anakin can slip into spaces larger characters cannot access, droids can open doors, and Jar-Jar Binks can jump higher than almost anyone else. Then there’s Yoda, who hobbles along at a snail’s pace until the Jump button is pressed, at which point he zips along on his personal repulsor craft. Once the aged Jedi Master activates his lightsaber he is a barely-contained, highly dangerous Super Bounce Ball. With the lightsaber in hand, Yodo jumps everywhere. It makes him a formidable opponent, but it also makes him rather difficult to control.

    The biggest problem with LEGO Star Wars is the camera. All too often in multiplayer mode a misstep by one character can lead to a chain of unstoppable deaths for one or both players. If one player moves toward the edge of the screen, he may drag the other player along with him, often resulting in the other character falling to his or her death. As some of the levels are very platform-heavy (with bottomless chasms abound), this can become a major problem. If the character is not dragged to his death he may disappear, only to reappear in a very inconvenient location that will ultimately lead to his death anyway.

    Despite the poorly-implemented camera and drag mechanic, LEGO Star Wars remains a light-hearted, enjoyable and often challenging (in a good way) game, and thanks to the wide array of playable characters, replayability is high. I give LEGO Star Wars three dismembered limbs out of four.

  • Xbox: Fable


    Oops. Turns out the disc for the Spider-Man 2 game was—to use a technical term—scratched to shit. It wouldn’t play in my Xbox at all, so I brought it back to Blockbuster and exchanged it for:

    Fable: The Lost Chapters (Xbox)Fable

    Fable is the brainchild of game designer Peter Molyneaux (Populous, Black & White 1Black & White is an interesting game. The player is essentially a god, affecting his or her will upon the people of a small island. The first time I played Black & White, I nearly jumped out … Continue reading, The Movies). Molyneaux promised that the RPG would be more open-ended and dynamic than any game in history. The final product fell far short of its creator’s hype, and Molyneaux eventually apologized for Fable‘s shortcomings. Earlier this year, a remake titled Fable: The Lost Chapters was released. The remake expands upon the original, as well as adding a few of the features that were missing. Naturally, I picked up the original game instead of the remake. 2It’s called “keeping it real.”

    Fable takes place in a medieval fantasy setting and follows the adventures of a young boy whose entire family is killed by bandits. Bandits who were — as it turns out — seeking the boy himself. The boy (who doesn’t seem to have a name) is rescued by a wizard named Maze and whisked off to the Hero’s Guild, where he is trained in the ways of combat (melee and ranged) and magic (referred to as Will). The training takes place over several years, and by the time he is ready to venture out into the world again, the boy has become a young adult. In the course of the game, the main character will eventually become a man 3In the biblical sense. and will learn why the bandits sought him.

    As is often the case with recent RPGs, the main character is presented with opportunities to make choices that will incline his character toward either “good” or “evil.” As is always the case, I am playing him as a friggin’ Boy Scout. I always tell myself that I’ll go back and play the game as a right bastard when I complete the “good” campaign, but my track record of actually completing games is dismal. 4I did complete Deus Ex, the finale of which depended upon the main character’s actions, but the ultimate outcome really came down to a single decision made at the very end of the game. Great … Continue reading

    I played Fable for about an hour last night before bed. 5My Sleep Number is 55. It’s a very pretty game, with lush, detailed landscapes, decent voice-acting, and a fairly intuitive interface. With or without all the dynamism Molyneaux promised, it seems to have a lot of promise. I’ve heard that it is far too short, but that probably translates to “finishable” in KJToo parlance. We shall see.

    1 Black & White is an interesting game. The player is essentially a god, affecting his or her will upon the people of a small island. The first time I played Black & White, I nearly jumped out of my chair when one of the island folk died and a little voice whispered “death” in my left ear.
    2 It’s called “keeping it real.”
    3 In the biblical sense.
    4 I did complete Deus Ex, the finale of which depended upon the main character’s actions, but the ultimate outcome really came down to a single decision made at the very end of the game. Great game, though.
    5 My Sleep Number is 55.
  • Finished: XIII (Xbox)


    XIII (Xbox)XIII

    I think I picked up XIII when the local Blockbuster was closing up shop and selling their used console games for half price. I hadn’t played it too much until this past weekend, when I randomly pulled it off the shelf and guided the amnesiac hero through the twisted conspiracy until he learned the identities of all twenty members of the mysterious Cult of XX.

    David Duchovny provides the voice of the hero, while Adam “Batman” West is General Carrington and sometime hip-hop artist, sometime actress Eve is the sassy and deadly Major Jones. Adam West and Eve both deliver solid performances, but Duchovny sounds almost bored throughout the entire game. Hey, Ubisoft, if you make a sequel (XIV?), consider somebody like Bruce Davidson (Nowhere Man) instead of double-D. Just a suggestion.

    Speaking of sequels, the developers of XIII seemed fairly certain there would be one, if the way the game ends is any indication. Though I haven’t heard anything about that sequel being in the works, I’d definitely like to play it, because despite Duchovny’s lackluster performance XIII turned out to be a very enjoyable game. It’s mostly a stealth shooter (a la the excellent Splinter Cell series), but at times it turns into a balls-to-the-wall, kill-everything-that-moves FPS.

    The graphics are all cell-shaded, which perfectly matches the comic book styling throughout. Each mission opens with a mosaic of panels and one or more narrative boxes outlining the mission objectives. Every time XIII stealth kills an enemy, three panels flash in the upper left to show the villain’s demise. Likewise, as the ultra-sneaky XIII detects guards patrolling, floating panels pops up to show their movement. When hiding around a corner or in another room, XIII can hear people walking nearby, and this shows up as “TAP TAP TAP” on the screen, the size and position of the text indicating just where the perambulator is located and in which direction he or she is moving.

    XIII has a variety of weapons at his disposal, my personal favorites being those designed for stealth kills: throwing knives and a scoped crossbow. In addition to these, there are grenades, several pistols, shotguns, machine guns and (of course) a bazooka. XIII can also grab an enemy in a headlock, drag him or her to a secluded location and administer a non-lethal (I think) chokehold.

    There are also a few items in XIII’s inventory not designed for dealing death: medkits, a lockpick, a “shotgun” microphone and a grappling hook (which can be a lot of fun). Throughout the game, XIII picks up “important documents,” which don’t appear in his inventory, but can be accessed through the main menu. Sometimes, these documents add new skills (dual-wielding weapons, improved sniping); other times, they provide insight into a cult member’s identity or other information on the conspiracy.

    The conspiracy involves the assassination of President William Sheridan. More specifically, the aftermath of the assassination. All evidence points to the game’s protagonist, XIII, as the assassin. Unfortunately, XIII has a whopping case of amnesia and can’t remember anything about the whole mess. In trying to put the pieces of his life back together, XIII meets some old acquaintances, discovers that the Cult of XX would really like him dead, and begins to uncover a far-reaching conspiracy. It’s a fairly satisfying plot, though a major problem is left unresolved, setting the stage for a sequel that may never be made.

  • Miscellaneous G™’s obsession with the SEGA DreamcastTomorrow (9 September 2005) marks the sixth anniversary of the DreamCast’s release. is…well, a little unsettling. The number of Dreamcast consoles he has owned (and given away) over the years is certainly unusual, but fails to provide a true picture of the depth of his unhealthy fascination. Such insight can only be gained by examining the various games and peripherals he has acquired for the consoleThis isn’t limited to the Dreamcast, by any means. He also owns the PlayStation 2 EyeToy and Taiko drum controllers. One might go so far as to suggest he has a game console peripheral fetish..

    Exhibit A: The Typing of The Dead
    Required peripheral: Dreamcast keyboard. Nothing terribly special here, just your average computer keyboard, except this one plugs into the Dreamcast… and is used to kill zombies. That’s right, between snippets of the worst voiceacting ever, the players are assaulted by legions of the undead, who can only be defeated by quickly typing words, phrases and sentences that hover near their rancid, decaying, shambling bodiesFor the first time in recorded history, Laura actually joined in the videogaming last night. She kicked some serious zombie ass with her mad touch-typing skillz.. The game is a port of The House of the Dead 2, an arcade shooter that’s been converted for use with the keyboard. On the screen, the heroes each have a Dreamcast (powered by a giant battery) strapped to their back and a keyboard hanging from a harness around their necks. They type and zombies die. Again.

    Exhibit B: Samba de Amigo
    Recommended peripheral: Dreamcast maracas. I’m not kidding. It’s a pair of maracas that plugs into the console. A sensor on the floor detects the height and lateral position of each maraca. As a song plays, visual cues show the player when and where to shake their maracas while a cube-headed monkey and his butterfly girlfriend shake their tailfeathers in the background. The animated characters cheer if your timing and positioning are accurate and jeer if they are not. Unfortunately, the sensor was a bit flaky last night, which led to a good deal of frustration.

    Exhibit C: Samba de Amigo 2 (Electric Boogaloo)
    Recommended peripheral: Dreamcast maracas, of course. The sequel wasn’t even released in the United States. Miscellaneous G™ has the Japanese version. See what I mean? Unhealthy.

  • P is for Plastic People.


    Busy, busy weekend.

    On Friday we had a “team event” at work. My team consists of five peons and one overlord, and we decided a month or so ago that we’d all like to see the Bodyworlds 2 exhibit at the Great Lakes Science Center. Most of us 1All but one, who opted to drive his motorcycle and wound up having to leave before dinner. piled into the MVoD at noon and within moment escaped the gravitational well of the office. We had lunch at ¿Que Tal? and then it was off to the Science Center.

    The exhibit was fascinating. That Gunther Gebel-Williams von Hagen is either a straight-up old school mad scientist or a stone-cold serial killer. Either way, he put together an impressive array of human cadavers that provides unprecedented insight into human anatomy. I came away amazed that the world doesn’t break us into tiny pieces on a daily basis.

    After the exhibit 2We also saw Mystery of the Nile at the OMNIMAX theater. It’s the story of the first expedition to ever successfully navigate the Nile from its source to the Mediterranean Sea. It was … Continue reading we proceeded to the New York Spaghetti House for dinner. We all split the mozzarella marinara appetizer and I enjoyed a raspberry martini, house salad (excellent dressing), lasagna and tiramisu. It was all excellent.

    HALO 2
    Saturday morning I was supposed to go cycling with Bob, but it rained, 3Well, it threatened to rain. We argued that the precipitation factor was simply too unpredictable to chance. We’ve both got caliper brakes on our bicycles, and they don’t work all that … Continue reading so we opted to forgo the cycling in favor of breakfast at IHOP. To make up for not doing 10+ miles on the bike, I practiced my power-eating on four pancake-wrapped sausage links and a large orange juice. I’m pretty sure that qualifies as aerobic exercise.

    Project Gotham Racing 2
    After breakfast, the Xbox LAN party commenced. 4While I was getting my game on, Laura and her mother spent the day shopping for porn corn. I’m told that they actually bought some sweet, juicy porn corn, too, but I won’t get to … Continue reading There was much playing of HALO 2 and Project Gotham Racing 2, which lasted until at least one wee hour of the morning. I got home at about a quarter of two on Sunday morning and was just as surprised as Laura to find me still in bed when she got home from church at one in the afternoon.

    Laura and I had lunch at Red Robin, did a little shopping, then went home so I could get the printer connected to her newly-moved PC. I played a little Tetris Worlds while Laura napped, then I mowed the lawn. It was just the sort of hectic, fast-paced, action-packed day that separates our thrill-a-minute lifestyle from the mundane, humdrum existence of “normal” folks.

    Apart from learning that Laura is eighteen weeks pregnant, that pretty much sums up our weekend.

    1 All but one, who opted to drive his motorcycle and wound up having to leave before dinner.
    2 We also saw Mystery of the Nile at the OMNIMAX theater. It’s the story of the first expedition to ever successfully navigate the Nile from its source to the Mediterranean Sea. It was breath-takingly beautiful and the music was excellent. I’m hoping there’s a soundtrack CD available online.
    3 Well, it threatened to rain. We argued that the precipitation factor was simply too unpredictable to chance. We’ve both got caliper brakes on our bicycles, and they don’t work all that well when wet.
    4 While I was getting my game on, Laura and her mother spent the day shopping for porn corn. I’m told that they actually bought some sweet, juicy porn corn, too, but I won’t get to experience it until this evening.
  • Destroy a representative sample of humans…


    Destroy All Humans (Xbox)Well, it’s time to return Destroy All Humans to Blockbuster. I’ve apparently completed 22% of the game, which is interesting. Why? Well, because I’ve visited three towns in various parts of the United States of America. Nothing even approaching a major metropolitan area, and I haven’t actually destroyed all the humans in any of those towns (yet).

    Last I heard, the United States was populated by right around 270 million people, give or take. Suppose that there are 6 billion humans on the planet Earth (that’s probably low-balling it a bit, but I don’t have time to do a full count right now). Even if we inflate the U.S. population to 300 million, wiping out every last human between Canada and Mexico (plus a handful in Alaska and Hawaii and, hell, throw in Puerto Rico, too), that’s still only 5% of the entire planetary populace.

    So how can I be 22% of the way through Destroy All Humans? Something doesn’t add up here. Am I meant to destroy every last humanThose pesky Kulku only needed to “process” eight million humans to fulfill their quota. Amateurs. or not?

    Y’know what? I bet the answer has to do with exponents. I’ll just bet.