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Red Dead Redemption Ripoff

Rockstar has ushered in a new low in the era of pre-order bonuses (one-use keycodes which unlock in-game goodies for the original customer, but cannot be transferred to a new owner's account). Pre-order bonuses have become a standard, and while it sucks knowing you'll never get the cool fire sword or skullgun if you buy used--that's the whole point. People who pay more at Gamestop instead of the secondhand market are rewarded.

Until now, that is. Gamestop customers who pre-order Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar's new "Wild West GTA" game, receive one of three outfits: The Savvy Merchant, The Deadly Assassin, or The Expert Hunter; each with its own special ability.

This is a great idea. Gamestop waves three potential rewards under my nose and then only has give me one of them. I'm thrilled, because it's hard for me to truly enjoy a game unless I'm overwhelmed by a crippling feeling of incompleteness.

Even better, customers don't get to pick which bonus costume they receive. There's a poll to determine that.

In what nightmare Twilight Zone scenario is it okay for strangers to vote on your clothes? This isn't a reality show, I haven't signed away my rights to a leering Brit with moobs, a tight t-shirt and bad haircut. No, this is how Rockstar "rewards" loyal customers who plunk down $60 (even when they know it's going to hit $40 on Amazon in a couple of days).

Now, I know what you're saying. "Please stop yelling at me about cowboys." And you're right. You'd also be right if you thought: "Big deal, the Deadly Assassin is going to win, and he's the coolest, right?"

Of course Deadly Assassin's going to win, how couldn't he? He's got an eyepatch and trench coat, he's dressed all in black. The only thing missing is a double-scar down the side of his --

Aw crap. This isn't democracy, it's equivocation--your classic Magician's Choice. "Power to the Players"? They loaded this guy so full of Dudebro, the only way they could make it more obvious that they want him to win is if they accidentally let it slip that "Deadly Assassin" is ready to go, poll results be damned.

Sure, I thought Deadly Assassin was cool. I can't not think he's cool. But I decided on the Hunter instead. Lame as his coonskin cap may be, the ability is far more unique ("Receives double the amount of skins and hides from hunting," as opposed to "Regenerates Dead Eye targeting twice as fast."), and in his wallpaper, he's fighting a grizzly bear with a Bowie knife. That is the manliest activity known to man. It'd even put hair on Matt Lucas' chest. Alas, The Expert Hunter doesn't stand a snowball's chance in Death Valley.

Adding insult to injury, the poll is open to everyone, not just customers who pre-order, but anyone with an internet connection and a little free time.

Who could possibly benefit from this? Customers have an obvious choice between $60 pre-orders for one of three costumes and $20 used none of three costumes. I doubt it's saving the Rockstar developers any work; the art team obviously rendered all three costumes, as evidenced by the promo shots, wallpapers, and sixty second trailer.

If this is all some misguided attempt to generate even more pre-orders, all I can say is this: there's no way in hell I'm not buying this thing used.

As much as corporations love making money by selling video games, they hate the public's legal right to sell their video games used. They would much rather we be stuck with our Superman 64's and Jackass: The Game's, bound to them forever as if we had had the misfortune to lift a cursed sword from a blackened swamp.

Anyone ever notice how close corporate law are to the every whim of a mad warlock? Take small print: "We can do bad things to you because you didn't read the text that was small to read." Or the time I opened Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and saw a piece of paper informing me I had 'agreed' not to resell it on eBay: "You gave up your rights when you opened the box, just like it says on the inside of the box."

I give it ten months before Wallmart claims droit de seigneur.




Yo, Dudebro, it's Fallout Extreme!

Ausir has information on an unreleased Interplay game called Fallout Extreme.
Fallout Extreme was a canceled squad-based first- and third-person tactical game for the Xbox, using the Unreal Engine and developed by Interplay's 14 Degrees East division (co-developers of Fallout Tactics). It was in development for a several months in 2000, but didn't really have a concrete development team and never made it out of concept. After it was canceled, Interplay's next attempt at making a console version of Fallout was Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, this time for both the Xbox and PS2.
He may know the secret history, but this is the only place you'll find this exclusive Fallout Extreme image below:

Now we know what the vent on the top of his head is for.




The Ballad of Billy Lee: Double Dragon NES vs. SMS

When I was 8 or 9, I really wanted an NES (just like everyone else), but instead of getting one, we got a Sega Master System. We grumbled a little, but it did come with three free games. The first two were combined in one cart: Hang On, a motorcycle racing game that was pretty neat, and Astro Warrior, a vertical shump with music that, to this day, brings back memories of clamping my mitts around a SMS pad and playing as best I could despite freezing mountain town temperatures.

The third game was a mail-in special, which you got as a reward for buying Sega: Double Dragon.

Double Dragon was the first arcade game I ever saw that had a line of people waiting to play it. I'll never forget the day I walked into Scandia and saw four or five people actually waiting to play an arcade game. Not just one or two guys popping quarters on the machine to hold their place--a right British queue.

"Why the heck are they waiting?" I wondered. "This arcade is huge, there's tons of games, go play them!"

Then I got a taste of Double Dragon and I knew it was worth standing in line for. Just like it was worth getting a Sega instead of a Nintendo.

See, the NES version of Double Dragon is compromised. There's no two player simultaneous mode--the fighting minigame really isn't worth mentioning--which means one of the best two-player co-op games at the time was whittled down to alternating multiplayer. This had a huge impact on the game, because not only did it mean waiting to take turns with my brother, it ruined my favorite end-game twist of all time.

Anyone remember beating Double Dragon at the arcade for the first time? Me and my brother did it. My little brother, really, because by the time the credits rolled, I was already dead. See, D.D. is your standard blue jeans 80s revenge movie boiled down into a simple quest to save the girl, but after punching your way through cities and forests and finally getting to the Shadow Warrior's lair, the game suddenly pits both players against each other in a fight to the death. This is insane, because whoever loses is basically branded the surprise twist villain, and the other guy saves the girl and gets the happy ending.

I didn't get the girl. My little brother did. I fell off a friggin' pit at the bottom of the screen and lost my last life.

Of course, the NES Double Dragon lacks all of this. There's no, "No way!" moment where you suddenly have to box your friend over a pit of death. You just fight yet more baddies until the end of the game.

The Sega Double Dragon was different. It was the first really good arcade port I ever played. (Atari 2600 Pac-Man... was not great.) I played the hell out of D.D., and sometimes my brother won, and sometimes I did, but either way, on the way to the Shadow Warrior's lair, it was fun as hell.

We eventually did get an NES, rented the hell out of Batman and Super Mario Bros. 2. We loved it, having known all along that SMS was second fiddle to NES. We even rented Double Dragon a lot, just out of morbid curiosity. But it just wasn't the same, and in the end, we always went back to Sega's Double Dragon.

The movie is pretty cool, too. But that's a story for another time.

Images from MobyGames.




The 10 Most Shameful RPG Dice

Here's a funny article written by Rob Bricken of Topless Robot: The 10 Most Shameful RPG Dice.

There's quite a few dice I haven't heard of, including an oddball little D5 from the maker of the Zocchihedron, a 100-sided dice of dubious randomness (also featured).

There are dice made of gold and dinosaur bones, but the highlight has to be the utter insanity of the D34.

What are we doing? We have descended into madness as human beings.

I love that line. Read it--and others--by clicking here.




Angry Man In Burger King Gets Instant Karma!


He was angry about the lack of non-slip floor mats.




Prequel to John Carpenter's "The Thing"

Zooks! There's a prequel to John Carpenter's "The Thing" in the works, reportedly set in the Norwegian camp were everyone's favorite polymorphing practical effect hung out before getting all up in Kurt Russel's area.

The Thing prequel is being directed by an unknown commercial director (which is standard these days, just like the Friday and Chainsaw reboots), and the first draft of the screenplay was penned by Battlestar Galactica's Ronald D. Moore.

People are outraged.

It cracks me up when someone hears about a project like this and rants about remakes. I even came across one gentleman who said he wished that instead of prequels, remakes, sequels and reboots, Hollywood would make original movies.

Dude, John Carpenter's "The Thing" *was* a remake. If he got his wish, one of the greatest horror movies of all time would never have been made.

This is why they have to hide genies in lamps.

Granted, it's probably going to suck. Something tells me "Tremors 4: The Legend Begins" is going to wind up being the better movie. But why take a stand against remakes using The Thing as your poster child? The Thing is a remake of Howard Hawks' "The Thing From Another World" (1951), which in turn was adapted from the John W. Campbell Jr. novella, "Who Goes There?" Needless to say, this is one of the worst movies I can think of to get all miffed about not having an original idea.

It's impossible for me to mention The Thing without linking to my good buddy Ridley's hilarious sketch, seen below.

Right click and save as to download.




Weekend Update

Heya guys. Wooo! Dig that new year smell. I know I haven't been around lately, but I've been pretty busy with, you know, stuff.

I bought Torchlight during the recent hope-you-didn't-just-buy-this-for-$20 sale on Steam. $5 falls just under the price of a rental, which is exactly what I consider games on Steam--a nice, long rental.

So far, I really like it. Torchlight is a great little Diablo II clone.The graphics are clean and cartoony. It can run on old hardware, and the developers are keen enough to release low-texture packs and include a Netbook option in the graphics. I just may do a 5 Reasons I Bought Torchlight in the future, so I won't go on and on about how great it is. Instead, I'll complain: From the looks of things, this game is going to take place entirely underground, in various (nicely decorated) parts of the same dungeon, give or take. That means it clones everything about Diablo II except my favorite expansive outdoor locations--no rainy forests, sprawling deserts or treacherous jungles. Having always preferred wilderness exploration to crawling around in a dungeon, I find that more than a little disappointing. Still, $5 ain't bad, and while the game lacks a multiplayer component, at least they aren't talking about selling character skills as DRM, like the Diablo III team.

It even inspired me to go back and finish an old story I was wrote back in 2004 or 2005, based on Action/RPGs like Diablo.

Speaking of stories, The Dream Quest (my first short story collection) is due back from the printers any day now! Woo!

Aaaaand it just hit 2am, so I'm calling it a night.




Ho ho ho!




Read My New Book For Free!

For the next 23 hours and 20 minutes, you can read a full preview of my upcoming book, The Dream Quest: Dark Fantasy and Horror. This copy hasn't been proofread yet--or that is to say, I've proofread it, and a lot of good that'll do--so expect a typo or two, but don't let that stop you from getting through it. The upcoming softcover edition will be checked for typos and ready for the holidays.


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