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Touring Home beta

So, I just finished my first tour of Sony's new Home app, and... there's not really much to say.

I got an e-mail out of the blue this afternoon inviting me to download the Home Beta and "join in a celebration" between 6pm-8pm, Pacific. After being less than impressed with the New Xbox Experience, I was ready to get an up-close look at what Sony has to counter with, so I did just that.

I hate movie-licensed video games

Prince Caspian

I'm gonna go ahead and admit straight out that I have an almost unshakable dislike towards movie-licensed games. In the same way that certain people are (often unfairly) judged by the legal system as guilty until proven innocent, I look at movie-based games as bad until proven good. I don't know exactly how this notion got cemented in my brain, but there's no denying it. I've tried to trace it back to some specific experience, but I just can't come up with anything. All I know is that I have a universally negative knee jerk reaction to movie-licensed video games.

I haven't played very many of them (mostly because I assume they'll be a complete waste of my time), so my stance isn't based on much experience. Let's see how many movie-based games I can think of right now. Aladdin for the Sega Genesis. I really enjoyed that game at the time. Back to the Future for the NES. Fantastic Four on the GameCube. Batman Begins. The Da Vinci Code. Played it, hated it. That's all I can think of. So far this doesn't really account for my position, because in the case of the last three games mentioned, I actually recall carrying a pretty strong anti-movie-based-game bias going in. As for the really old stuff for the 8- and 16-bit systems, I was much younger, and those were different times.

The "Raving Rabbids" and mental illness

(Via Disability Studies, Temple U):

Penny L. Richards, scholar with UCLA's Center for the Study of Women and historian of disability and special education (among other things) asks about the game Raving Rabbids: TV Party (emphasis and bold in the original):

Crazy, wacky, raving, and rabid too... which all apparently mean screaming with wide open mouths and unfocused eyes, causing havoc, chaos, destruction? "Get ready for you and all your friends to go insane." Lovely.

In or out of the gaming closet on a first date?

As part of a new Gaming with Spouses series for the GameCritics.com podcast, I thought it would be interesting to pose the following question to to several of my women friends: "If on a first date, a guy reveals that he's a "gamer" (meaning he plays a lot of video games), is this a good or bad thing?" Here are some of the responses that I got back.

Animal Crossing: City Folk, a new subtitle, same basic game

Deja vu?!

Animal Crossing: City Folk is the new Wii version of the hit game Animal Crossing. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the US-original Gamecube (GCN) version of Animal Crossing, and in fact, I just checked in on my town a couple of months ago. (Sadly, one of my original residents decided to move out, after several years of residence. I was surprised to say the least!)

The new City Folk appears to be a refinement of the series. It looks like a smoother version of Animal Crossing (GCN) modified with some features from Wild World (the DS iteration). Notably, terrain is on a curved surface instead of being flat, Copper runs the gate to the outside world tucked into a northern cave, the sky has constellations and I believe accessories are available.

A trilogy of gaming-disability news

Since they're all so cool I couldn't decide between them, here are three neat things I found:

1. Max Shooter, an XBox 360 adapter

2. "Strikes for Strokes donations aid in rehab," from Mt. Vernon Register-News

3. SpecialEffect.org.uk

Virtual reality project lets kids with Down Syndrome communicate with each other

"Collaborative networked framework for the rehabilitation of children with Down's Syndrome" (PDF) is an old paper from the University of Averio in Portugal, but the project described is really interesting. Presented at the third International Conference on Disability, Virtual Reality and Associated Technology in Alghero, Italy in 2000, the authors propose "a multi-user virtual communication platform that enables rehabilitation and social integration of Down's Syndrome children."

PETA spoofs Cooking Mama for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is trying to get the word out about the conditions turkeys are born into, raised and slaughtered in just so they can become that delicious dining table center piece on the last Thursday of November.

In typical PETA fashion, it has co-opted something that mainstream society can relate to (Majesco's Cooking Mama) and made sure its version hemorrhages buckets of blood (blood pours from broken eggs!). And it also makes sure to throw as much chilling information and videos into the mix as "bonuses" to further shock you into vegetarianism.

Whether this will persuade meat eaters to change their ways is debatable—I, for one, kept playing trying to better my score—but whatever your view, Cooking Mama: Mama Kills Animals Unauthorized PETA Edition is an entertaining diversion.

Cooking Mama: Mama Kills Animals Unauthorized PETA Edition

Heidi Klum Guitar Hero commercial on The O'Reilly Factor

Bill O'Reilly must have had an intern scouring the Internet for news because the Internet-only version of the Heidi Klum Guitar Hero World Tour commercial was the subject of discussion on last week's The O'Reilly Factor.

The twist is that O'Reilly thinks like most red-blooded American (male) gamers, that Heidi Klum in nothing but a T-Shirt and underwear is very appealing.

But in an effort to not come off as sexist or offend his conservative viewers who might have a problem with the video—and his approval of said video—he asks two pundits to chime in. And in another twist, the conservative female pundits see nothing wrong with the commercial for the most part. 

Heidi Klum Guitar Hero World Tour Commercial on O'Reilly Factor

GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 3

It's the thrilling third episode of the GameCritics.com Podcast!
This week's topics include:

  • Impressions of Art Style: ROTOHEX, Gears of War 2, Castlevania: Order of Ecclasia, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts demo and Tomb Raider: Underworld demo
  • The Annual Holiday Gaming Glut: Its impact on gamers and the industry.

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