Welcome to the first installment of Geeking Out—okay, it's not really the first installment (earlier chapters can be found in my MySpace blog), but it's the first here at GameCritics. Basically, it's just a weekly entry of what I'm nerdgasming over at the moment—generally revolving around Games, Books, and Movies as well as the occasional glimpse into my incredibly exciting life here at Casa de Bracken. I hope you enjoy it—and I also hope you'll stop by and check out later installments.
And now, on with the show…
It's been a rough week here at Casa de Bracken—I came down with a wicked case of Captain Trips over the weekend (a reference to Stephen King's The Stand for those of you who aren't total trivia nerds) and spent most of the past few days waiting to die from choking to death on a large wad of snot. Apparently, there's some truth to the old adage that only the good die young, because I'm still here. Of course, being sick means I accomplished next to nothing this week (no progress on THE BOOK—which is what we call it around here, it's taken on a life of its own and now demands to be spoken of only in all caps. I'm sure if it could talk it would only refer to itself in the third person, sort of like half the guys in the NBA) or the new website. I am considering a return to fiction writing (editors, ready your red pens now!) and have a few cool ideas I'm currently considering completely (look at that alliteration!) fucking up with my total inability to write anything longer than a film review. Exciting times, man…exciting times.
Anyway, just because I was near death doesn't mean I sat on my ass all week. Here's the stuff that had my geekometer redlining.
The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess: Yes, I finally got a Wii. Laura, darling that she is, went out into the cold hard world Sunday morning and braved the veritable hordes of unwashed gamer nerds to score me a Wii. Meanwhile, I sat at home with my sinuses expanding so badly that I felt like my head was a rotten pumpkin about to split apart into three or four big pieces. This did not stop me from spending the next seven hours geeking out over Wii Sports (who's the king of bowling here at Casa de Bracken? That's right—I am) and the newest Zelda. If you're not a gamer, you probably don't understand the whole Zelda thing. In gaming, there are a few franchises that are so special, so magical, that any time a new game comes out, we all have to stop, get it, and play it as much as possible until we beat it. Zelda is sort of the king of those franchises. Of course, it helps that every game in the series is a bonafide classic (amend that—every game in the series that wasn't on the Philips CD-I is a bonafide classic. We shall pretend those other games never existed), and Twilight Princess is no exception. Filled with tons of puzzles, nine challenging dungeons, an engaging storyline, and enough old school nostalgia to bring a tear to my eye, this is probably my vote getter for game of the year for 2006. If you own a Wii, this is a must own game. 'Nuff said.
World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade: I got my copy of the WoW expansion before I got sick, so I managed to get a few days of playtime in (bringing my world-destroying warlock Suspiria up to level 63). The expansion is cool—the new races are interesting (the Dranei look cool, the Blood Elves have the coolest starting areas in the entire game), the quests are manageable solo, and the rewards are pretty astronomical (which is sort of my one pet peeve—I spent 6 months in Molten Core putting together the pieces of my tier 1 dungeon set armor only to have it be made obsolete by common quest rewards in the expansion). Aside from that, it's pretty much perfect. If you left WoW because you felt you'd done everything you could, or you were looking for a good time to give the game a test drive, this is your chance to get into the action.
Red Room: It wasn't all gaming here at the house this week—I did manage to fit in some film viewing as well. The cream of the crop is Daisuke Yamanouchi's Red Room. I first saw Red Room a few years ago for possible inclusion in THE BOOK. This Japanese obscurity was available to me only as a multigenerational bootleg with no English subs, but I jumped at the chance to see it anyway. It lived up to all the hype. Now, finally, the guys at Unearthed Films (my DVD company of choice for weird gore flicks) have brought Red Room to American audiences—with subs, a great picture, and more. So, what's the film about? I'll let Stephen (the grand pooba of Unearthed himself) explain:
"So, what would you do for a million dollars? Are you desperate enough to enter the RED ROOM? In this latest and most vicious game show to emerge from the Japanese underground, four contestants (two men and two women—are locked in the Red Room to draw cards in the "King Game". Whichever player draws the King card gets to select one of the other contestants to enter a cage where one performs the most outrageous acts upon his unlucky victim.
The Game is played to the death! Survivor takes all, and the losers go home in body bags."
If you thought all Japanese horror cinema had degenerated into a seemingly neverending series of shitty girl ghost stories, Red Room will prove you were mistaken. This is a film that harkens back to the days of Guinea Pig and Shogun's Sadism—a flick that doesn't push the envelope so much as it takes the envelope, rips it to shreds, burns the pieces, then pisses all over the ashes. Hopefully Unearthed has plans to release Red Room 2 and Yamanouchi's other underground classic, Muzan E.
Unfortunately, I didn't get much reading done this week, so there's no book entry. I will say that I'm eagerly awaiting next week's official release of Brian Keene's newest, Ghoul. I'm telling you, Brian's the real deal—get on the bandwagon now before he becomes mega-famous.
Until next time…
A film critic by trade, specializing in Euro-horror, cult exploitation, and Asian action cinema, Mike has written reviews for a diverse group of print and online publications. He covers horror news, movies, books, and games at TheHorrorGeek.com and Horrorsquad.com and spent two seasons as The Horror Geek on Comedy Central's pop-culture game show, Beat the Geeks.
Mike's childhood was spent playing videogames any time he got a chance. His parents had a Pong console and his grandmother had an Atari 2600, where Mike cultivated his skills by playing hour upon hour of games like Space Invaders, Berserk, and Asteroids. From those early experiences Mike learned one thing: he loved games.
In 1999, Mike became a staff reviewer at Cinescape Magazine's website where he spent a year learning the craft of game criticism. After internal changes led to Mike leaving Cinescape in late 2000, he joined up with RPGFan in 2001 and spent several years writing reviews for them. Happy, but looking for an opportunity to expound on a wider variety of titles, Mike joined GameCritics.com and hopes to help Chi, Dale, and the rest of the GC staff bring a higher level of respect to the field of game criticism.