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Groundhog Day: Rock Cell Radio


It�s kind of hard for me to really pick one game for this. As someone who was raised up squeezing every last minute out of a game because you never knew when you�d get another, I�ve cherished quitw a few games that constantly seem to find their way back into my disc drive. As you�ll read, sometimes it�s not even the game I�m attracted to. There�s some sentimentality or some small detail that I just can�t let go of.

Let�s dive in, shall we?

Music games (Rock Band, basically)

The first time I ever played a music game, like many other lads like myself, it was with PaRappa the Rapper on PS1. I never did buy that full game but I remember sitting in my cousins room in my grandmothers basement and frustratingly retrying that damn demo for hours. The concept had eluded me, the idea of gaming based on rhythm was just something that I couldn�t fathom. It was frustrating as hell and, contrary to how most people get themselves attached to a genre, I ragequit after about a weekend. Everyone picked the game up with ease, in fact that was one of its many praiseworthy qualities (this was before making a game accessible became �casual� and therefore evil), but I just couldn�t do it. It stung a little, and it hung over my head like a decisive vice.

Years would go by without me ever touching a music game again. The final straw that broke the camel�s back came in the form of a Wal-Mart kiosk. On the way home from guitar practice mother decided to stop by this dingy little Wal-Mart on the side of the road and left my little brother and I to fend for ourselves amongst the magnitude of the electronics department. Leaving two little kids in the electronics department of a Wal-Mart is similar to leaving a lonely man in the red light district of Amsterdam. It�s dirty, really colorful, and you want everything you see. While my little brother and I tried to engage ourselves in the glorious and genius delight of a hulking gray Nintendo DS we were constantly distracted by this tall hairy man to our right clicketing away on some red plastic guitar. Once he finally finished butchering Smoke On the Water (a song I�m ashamed to admit I was once not ashamed to admit I liked) curiosity got the better of me and I finally tackled my vice to the tune of I Love Rock N� Roll by my beautiful hero Joan Jett. The rest my dear reader, is history.

Why I keep coming back to music gaming recently became simple. It�s not that I enjoy the illusion of performing music. I�ve been a drummer since I was 12 and easily could learn and replicate the sound and composition of any song on guitar if I really wanted to. It�s not the scene that keeps me coming back, those color coordinating gods and goddesses who use songs like Evile�s Thrasher and Yngwie Malmsteen�s Caprici di Diablo as warm-up tunes. Really, if we�re being honest, it�s not even the gameplay. While I would certainly praise Harmonix� recent Rock Band 3 for creating a videogame experience that crosses the threshold into the real world and creating the perfect party game UI at the end of the day none of that matters because (A) I don�t even play Pro mode and (B) no matter how good the UI is there�s always gonna be that one guy who doesn�t understand not to press any damn buttons before you�ve made the setlist. What keeps me coming back is the music.

I love listening to music but even more than that I love interacting with the music. I love the connection I feel when I feel like I�m investing time solely to the track I love. It isn�t often that I find myself just sitting down and enjoying a song purely for the song. Either I�m driving or cleaning or writing a blog. When I play Rock Band it�s the music and I together as wholly as possible without absolute replication. I love that. I love it because in the same way sitting in my room playing an old Joan Baez vinyl on my turntable can open my ears to all her subtly and rich liveliness so too can a game of Rock Band alone at my plastic drum kit following along to the Pixies� La La Love You.

For myself, Rock Band has become a practice in embracing the music, where for others it seems to be only a practice in color coordination. Which is not to say I criticize them but for myself even if Rock Band ever went the unfortunate route of the Hero franchise, I don�t think I�d ever stop coming back. I�ll keep coming back for the music long after I keep coming back for the game.

Tom Clancy�s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

I love Splinter Cell. Always have, and always will. Ever since the original I�ve never been able to say no to a romp with Sam Fisher and the criminally underrated badass Anna Grimsdottir as they travel the world fucking shit up. Chaos Theory has always been, and probably will always be in my mind, the pinnacle of the Splinter Cell franchise. From the fantastic score to the absolutely ingenious level design everything about Chaos Theory is simply built to keep me coming back.

To this day some of the most fun I�ve ever had in a videogame has to be fooling with the open world structure of Chaos Theory. It�s never let me down, keeping every single theft, assassination, and bug plant fresh. Sometimes when I�m on the huge boat I like to screw with the lights when assassinating Lacerda. Especially the fridge. Oh man, and the bank robbery. It always starts off calm but I love upping the ante, setting the alarms off, and watching everyone turn the place upside down trying to find me.

Chaos Theory keeps me coming back because it is everything I want in a stealth game. It�s about stealth just as much as it is about completing the mission and it leaves the definition of stealth completely up to the player. Stealth doesn�t necessarily mean staying invisible. One alarm and you�re out? BS. In Chaos Theory you are given a sandbox, a pale and a bucket, and how you make the castle is completely up to you. That�s why after 6 years it is still getting constant play from me (just last weekend in fact).

Chaos Theory is also gorgeous. Probably one of the best looking games of its time and one of the few games of the era that actually looked prettier than any of its cinematics. It�s funny, it almost feels silly saying Chaos Theory looked good for its time because it still looks damn good today almost like it came out a year or two ago. And the music? It just ties everything together beautifully. It makes the whole experience feel good.

To date, I�ve yet to find the stealth game that makes me feel as truly stealthy as Chaos Theory does. Even the spectacular Conviction, which takes place as my second favorite Splinter Cell title, can�t add up. It lacks the openness, the vagueness, and the suaveness of Chaos Theory. Chaos Theory took the signature Tom Clancy style of videogames and made it damn near sensual. It�s that unique vibe and broad take on stealth that constantly brings me back.

Jet Set Radio Future

JET SET RADIO FUTUUUURREE!!! JSRF stands very very high on my list of all-time favorite games. Much like Rock Band it�s one of those games that I keep coming back to less for the gameplay and more for everything else. JSRF has a style and an attitude all its own, one that many can imitate but never replicate.

It all begins, probably against the unwritten Hardcoar Gamers Code, with graphics. So much of JSRF�s style is ingrained in its visuals which until the debut of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was, in my opinion, the unmatched apex of stylized cel-shaded graphics. From the characters designs like the sleek Gum, the iconic Poison Jam, and the intimidating Rokkaku Gouji, to the delightfully asymmetrical environments and stunning graffiti. Everything about the visual style of JSRF just makes it a delight to return to and skate around in in awe at this universe.

Naturally, the music of Jet Set Radio Future is another draw that still receives constant praise. Hideki Naganuma has his finger so intimately on the pulse of the soul of Jet Set Radio Future that the music does more than complement the game, it threads the entire world together. I cannot imagine a Jet Set Radio Future without The Concept of Love, Fly Like A Butterfly, or Shape Da Future constantly playing on loop. Hell, just hearing it in my head right now is causing me to swoon. What Naganuma doesn�t contribute, even it remains a constant reminder of the unique sound and spectacle that developer Smilebit created with Jet Set Radio Future. I don�t know anyone who played JSRF and doesn�t immediately glow when they hear Cibo Matto�s Birthday Cake.

Even the characters, who for the most are silent, are always excuses to come back. The wonderful thing about voiceless characters is the personality you put to them. My little brothers and I have all chipped in to what we think each character is like based on their flourish styles. It�s hard not to. They just pop right at you immediately.

And of course, I owe much of my childhood to JSRF. It was one of the games that just put my little brothers and I in a state of awe and happiness. The bright colors all running together, the unique and bombastic music that we never heard anywhere else. I mean for us these things were exclusive to JSRF, they were contained in that universe and that exclusivity made it all feel that much more alive. It still does. I pop in JSRF for a quick weekend run through the campaign and even though now I blast the remix of Humming the Bassline every other day in my car something about hearing it in the game reminds me why I keep visiting that world. It�s a self-contained preservation of everything that I love in a good fictional setting. Great characters complemented by beautiful worlds that show enough to satisfy the right part of the brain while still letting it run wild.

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About Xzyliacone of us since 1:14 PM on 06.13.2007














Why everyone should at least lurk on the DToid forums.

I Review Them In Stereo:
Joanna Newsom's Have One On Me
Two Door Cinema Club's Tourist History
Tunng's ...And Then We Saw Land

Things people say I like:

I can't fully enjoy the PS3 without an ample supply of hookers and blow. How does that figure into your Reaganomics? - MegaStryker

I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, Sir, because I'm not myself you see. - Alice from Alice in Wonderland; the greatest book ever written

Best thing about those cards are how bad the pun/product writing is. "I only have Snake Eyes for you." "You've Duke'd it out with my heart and now I'm yours to command." "I have a Cobra Commander in my pants." - sheppy

How to read a review without being pissed off:
1. Decide prematurely whether the game is balls, or the second coming of flying spaghetti monster.
2. Go to www.metacritic.com and search for the game.
3. If flying spaghetti monster, click on first link. If balls, scroll to the end and click on the last link.
4. You should now be sitting and staring at a review you agree with.
5. Complement reviewer on such a well thought out and non biased review.

That's because WWI was a pretty low-budget project, it was mostly about the story of soldiers in trenches and lay-low tactics, the sequel WWII, was really the bomb, with millions of dollars invested on it and top notch action sequences. - adrianboy

I think booze is a pretty cool guy. eh keeps me from doing the recaps on time and doesn't afraid of anything. - Pendleton21

Everyone else tolerates it because you're an attractive woman, I find that quite shallow. - Mousse420

*NOTE: I like that quote because at least I know if everyone is going to assume I'm female at least I'm attractive. Call me.

I was able to cause my child to fall into a well of depression after shattering his tailbone by horribly failing the see-saw QTE at the park three times in a row. Then I tried to cheer him up by buying him candy, but picked the one flavor he didn't like. It was like reliving my own childhood.


- SuitcoatAvenger -

Xzyliac: @punisher898 Score! I wonder if Cyndi Lauper and Lady GaGa hang out together. #ponders
punisher898 (aka Occams Electric Toothbrush): @Xzyliac: I bet if they do its like the best Folger's coffee commercial ever.

That's awesome. Hollywood writers are the best! I had one make me an iced latte the other day. It was totally adequate!

Uno just brings out the animals in all of us. It's just too sexy of a game.

Xzyliac, shut up, you\'re not cool.
-Fear No Darkness

*NOTE: I would like to note that later on I explained myself to Fear No Darkness and he totally sent me an apologetic PM. He's a classy fella whom I'd love to share a drink with sometime.

If you've never had promiscuous thoughts about a Dreamcast then you're not a gamer.
Xbox LIVE:Xzyliac
Steam ID:Xzyliac
Mii code:6357-9967-6745-0063


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