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Tuesday, 1/28/03, 5:24 PM
Best. Games. EVAR.

I've now uploaded my picks for the Top 25 Video Games of All Time to my site. Be kind.

Oh, and I fixed the broken link to the articles page. Happy?


Thursday, 1/23/03, 4:24 PM

Well, today I took my last final exam. Ever.

Having had to take one more class during the winter session to get the credits needed to graduate, I came into today's test with the knowledge that now, after going to school for nineteen straight years, I will finally have a piece of paper worth having: A Bachelor of Arts degree in Cinema and Television Arts degree at Cal State Northridge.

In other words...


Now I just need to find a job.


Thursday, 1/16/03, 3:53 PM
Loogaroo Looks Over Dance Dance Revolution Extreme

While we were celebrating Christmas here in the U.S. (and the rest of the world), Japan was celebrating something else: the release of the latest installment of Konami's Dance Dance Revolution series. DDR Extreme is labeled the "8rd" version of the game (although counting Solo 2000 and the two Plus versions, it's more like the 11th) and it started hitting stateside earlier this month. Lazerstar in Camarillo got the new mix in last week, and I stopped by on the way home from school to try it out.

First off, the game looks very much like MAX2, the last release. Same announcer, same song select mechanism, same energy meter and arrows. Oni courses are back (and the new courses are a lot harder - just about every one I inspected has 8's and 9's sprinkled within) and the Nonstop format has been brought back.

The songlist has yet again expanded, so much so that now if you want to see the full list, you have to break it up into genres; otherwise, all you get is samples from each genre. The new songs (at least, of the ones I tried) are quite good; among the sight-reads I had today were Miracle Moon, I Do I Do I Do, and Moba Moga. I didn't see the Maxx Brothers there (300 and Unlimited), but there is a new 10-footer called "Paranoia Survivor." No, I didn't try it.

As far as the Oni and Nonstop games are concerned, they're brought back faithfully here. Nonstop consists of four songs played one after another but nothing else that's really special; Onis are courses of 5 to 8 songs where more than 3 combo-breaking steps or lost freezes in a song equals failure. There's a new judgement - "Marvelous!" - which you get for steps that are even better than "Perfect!" Their need escapes logic for the time being.

One more thing - they've brought back "Beginner" mode, which basically reduces every song to 1-foot level for the n00bs out there. So now you people have no excuse to not try this game.

Locally, this has given me new reason to go to Lazerstar again. Four songs is $1 (and that's the same for their MAX2 - one more song than before), although the arrows are still awful slippery. (I tried Spin the Disc on MAX2, and got an A with 35 greats. I haven't gotten over 10 Greats in about 3 weeks, and I haven't gotten less than an AA in months. Yeah, I was a little rusty since I hadn't played for a couple weeks, but I'd warmed up on Extreme already.)

I don't think it's quite as good as MAX2 (that mix really caught lightning in a bottle), but it's still definitely worth a try.

Loogaroo Looks Over Celebrity Mole: Hawaii

As long as I'm on this critiquing binge, I might as well talk about the third installment of the two-time Rommy winner. This time around, seven celebrities play the game of sabotage in Hawaii (bet you couldn't figure that out on your own, could ya?) One of them will win $250,000 fir their charities (although given the "fame" of these people, I wouldn't be surprised if they wanted to pocket the cash themselves). It's a decent way to sate viewers until the real thing this summer, but I have a few gripes:

  • It almost feels as if they started the competition without us and have brought us in halfway, considering how there are only 7 players (as opposed to 10 the first time around and 14 in the second season). That translates to five rounds, minus one (since the Mole would have to be an idiot to tip his hand at the start), and that's not really enough time to get into the details of the game.
  • The games themselves don't seem to be as captivating as the last two series. Back in '01, the University trap game and the test to find the hotel in Spain they were staying in were fantastic games that were both mentally challenging and involving a lot of movement. In the second version, the "Buy low/sell high" game and Think or Sink were interesting to watch. Now it's just charades, blackjack, and videotaped stunt predictions.
  • Finally, regarding Ahmad Rashad. He's doing... OK. At the very least, he understands the nature of the game, so he's toned down his personality a bit, but I still get the sense that he lacks that firmness that Anderson Cooper had. (Which reminds me - anyone catch that "A. Cooper" headstone during the underwater charades game?


  • Tuesday, 1/14/03, 5:01 PM
    I'm still not crazy about it, but I keep writing about it

    I've rewritten my Chrono Trigger review. I dunno, I just looked at in on Saturday night thought it could be better done. (And to the person who said that my CT review was the best one I'd done, sorry.)


    Thursday, 1/9/03, 2:32 PM
    2003 Game Show Tournament Page added

    The 2003 Game Show Tournament has now started, and I've updated the GST page to reflect that. Please note that if you wish to participate, you need to join the Yahoo GST group.


    Monday, 1/6/03, 9:19 PM
    Loogaroo Looks Over Taboo

    I've been maintaining this site, or some incarnation of it, for approximately 8 years. And for all but 2 months of those 8 years, I've professed an intense love - nay, passion - for the genre of game shows. My first cognitive memory is of Jim Perry hosting Card Sharks. So one may say that I've been intrinsically fixated on them. And since I had once proposed to make the board game Taboo into a television-friendly format, one may even say I'm worthy to comment on the new show on TNN that similarly bases itself off the board game.

    But far be it for me to tell these people how to make their game shows. I mean, these are people with years if not decades of experience in the industry; surely they know what makes a good game show and a bad game show. I'm just a 24-year-old college student who's looking (not very hard, I may add) for a job in said industry, watching dozens upon dozens of game shows and seeing them flourish or flounder. I've never produced a game show in my life; these people have. So surely they must know what they're doing, right?

    I will say this much: the board game Taboo is a lively and uproarious game, with captivating gameplay and great strategy.

    The game show Taboo is a lively and uproarious game, with captivating gameplay and great strategy... flushed down a toilet along with the dirty work of a woman with Irritable Bowel Syndrome who's just polished off a bag of Ruffles WOW! potato chips with extra Olestra.

    Well, honestly, it's not that bad - I am giving the show 3 points out of 10 - but there are plenty of other mediocre shows that have done better. Nick Arcade scored a 4 out of 10, and that's with Phil Moore hosting. Blankety Blanks scored 5 points, and you need a megadose of amphetamines to make it through an episode of that. Hell, Shop 'Til You Drop, one of the most maligned game shows to ever air, scored a 5 on my scale. So to get a 3, you must really, really suck.

    Oh, I'm sorry... you actually want me to tell you what the show is about? Well, I guess I'll do that, but be warned: everything below this sentence isn't as bad as I say it is - it's worse.

    The premiere started off with some nondescript announcer (as if there were any other kind) introducing the host, Chris Wylde. To give you some background on this man's prior TV experience, he once hosted a late-night talk show. On Comedy Central. On Sunday nights. Which got cancelled after about 4 weeks. Commercials advertising (read: "oh-vurr-hy-peeng") this show revolved around Wylde as a pizza delivery man who mistakenly stumbled into the host auditions for Taboo, and gets the job by barking like a dog and having a vague understand of the game's concept. Methinks this was based on a true story.

    Anyway, Wylde walks - I'm sorry, dashes - on to the set; a set that looks like someone just had a shopping spree at the Win Ben Stein's Money Cancellation Yard Sale. Oh, look, a model of a brain. That must mean this show is intelligent.

    Wylde mumbles some stupid chatter, then beckons the contestants to COME ON DOWN!! Notice how they've yet to mention the title of the show up to this point. But then again, you'd be reticent to give a title to a show like this if you knew what the next 20 minutes were gonna be like.

    He then goes over to one of the teams (two teams of three, for those scoring at home) and says that the first person to shout out the subject word he's giving clues to becomes "team captain". He crowns some fat chick as the captain of the left team, then crowns some opera diva the captain of the right team.

    Now we hear the rules of the game. The captain chooses a clue giver, who has 45 seconds to describe up to 8 subjects, while avoiding the five Taboo words and not using phonetic clues. So basically, it's just like Pyramid. Did I mention that here in Southern California, (The kinda $100,000) Pyramid airs on channel 9 at 7:00, which happens to be the same time Taboo airs on TNN? So if you live in LA, you can choose to watch Pyramid or Taboo. It's like giving someone a choice to watch an episode of Animaniacs or an episode of Animaniacs dubbed in Farsi while an autistic nine-year-old plays billiards with your kidneys.

    If you do say a Taboo word, you not only lose the word, but you also have to hear the Taboo sound. Put simply the Taboo sound is someone shouting "Taboo!" at different pitches roughly 30 billion times.

    The captain of the left team chooses herself as the first clue-giver, and is given the following word: COME. And here are the five Taboo words: Arrive, Home, Here, Lately, and Verb. The clue-giver asks, "Can I go dirty?" When Chris tells her to go, she immediately gives an incomplete sentence regarding another word for when a man reaches the exciting part of a play.

    Of course, I'm not going to blast the people in charge for allowing such pornographic language to be put on the air. This is cable, you know. But it does prove one thing, if you are producing this show, and you have to orchestrate the Taboo words so that the clue-giver HAS to give that sort of clue (and if you think another clue is possible, tell me what it is. Hurry, the clock's ticking.), and you're forced to play this trump card on the FIRST WORD of the FIRST SHOW, you need to take a good, long look in the mirror and ask yourself these questions: "Why didn't I hire a writer older than 22? Why do I keep thinking that I need potty humor to get anyone to watch my show? Is it too late to leave the country and adopt a new identity?"

    Both sides play twice. I should mention that on the right team, there's a black dude named Renard, which is French for Fox. Which means that I have to now root for this team (granted, the left team hardly gave me any incentive to root for them) because being a fur, I immediately latch onto any name that contains or translates to an animal, particularly one of the Canidae family. Which means that, invariably, the right team is going to lose.

    The second round is the "Danger" Round, where the teams have to describe celebrities, and if they say a Taboo word, they not only get "Tabtaooboottaabotoabbooototaaboboottabaobotooabtooabtooaboo!!!" screamed at them, but Wylde pops them in the face with a Nerf gun a point-blank range. I guess it's to distract them during their clue-giving (not that they're really doing a bang-up job to begin with). But wouldn't it make sense to distract them while they're giving clues and not after they screw up?

    In the third round, in a shocking twist of events, the point values are doubled! Ooooh!! However, now they have to contend with six Tatababobooo words instead of five. Predictably, the right team loses by about 4 points, because despite Renard's decent clues (he is, you know, sly as a fox), his teammates were doing their impression of Will Ferrell doing his impression of George W. Bush when he's asked a question he doesn't quite grasp. But then again, I can hardly blame them: I'm sure my mind would turn into corned beef hash if I realized that I'm going to lose on a game show that nobody will ever watch, and would hide in shame from anyone who did. The losers get copies of the Taboo "home game" (because Lord knows they were probably abducted off the street to be on this show and have never even heard of the game before).

    And now it's time for the bonus round. But first, the left team gets to choose what they'll play for. They can either take a trip to a Monster Truck Rally in Vegas, a Paintball expedition in Orlando, or a dirt bike adventure in... Las Vegas. Poor Chris, he's trying to fool us into thinking they're in three different cities by leaving the Las off the first one.

    The team picks the paintball trip to Orlando. Now that should be grounds for instant disqualification right there: the producers gave you two chances to go to Vegas, guys, and you decided you'd prefer to get sweaty and dirty and covered in quarter-sized welts in Orlando instead (and no, Orlando does not equal Disney World. There is an actual city.)

    Not like it mattered though; the team had to get 6 subjects right in 60 seconds, switch clue-giving duties after each word, and the most these people had ever gotten in one round was four. So instead they get such fantastic prizes as a watch, a cordless phone, a DVD player, and a copy of the board game. Retail value: $250.

    Chris Wylde says goodbye (and I say good riddance), and we're cast off with theme music from Alan Ett, founder and CEO of BMBOMI (Bland Music Bereft Of Melody, Inc.) His motto: who needs an actual theme song when you can loop eight measures together?

    All in all, a 1 in gameplay. A 1 in host - admittedly, he does look and act like he's rooting for the contestants, even if he does combine the obnoxiousness of Phil Moore, the hyper-hyperness of Patrick Wayne and the incompetency of Blake Emmons into one horrifying set of chromosomes. The presentation gets a 1 and the execution gets a big fat nada. Grand total of 3 points.

    And no, I'm not doing this because I'm bitter about having to go back to CSUN for a winter class that'll give me the 3 units I have left to graudate after I found out that one of the classes I took in Fall '01 didn't count for Upper Division General Ed, and now I have to wake up at 7 in the morning again and drive an hour and a half in the middle of rush hour to sit at a desk for four hours and listen to some stupid liberal professor spew out blather about "Communication and the Sexes". Whatever gave you that idea?


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