Well, it looks like my blog hosting just auto-renewed for another year. Better do something with this space, right?
Just some updates. Everything is still awesome in the world of yours truly. I just don’t seem to blog much anymore. No one does, really. TL;DR and all that.
But I still do things. If I have something to say, I usually say it on Twitter. If you’re not following me there, you really should. It’s where I’m at my most awesome-est. When I need to say something longer than 140 characters, our two podcasts are still rocking right along. Bad movie fans should check out BMFcast.com and video game players should listen to NoQuarters.net. Both are awesome, and should be enjoyed even if you don’t like video games or bad movies.
We’ve also added live streaming to our shows. When we stream live we usually let everyone know via Twitter (either @BMFcast or @NoQuartersNet). Currently this is done via Google Hangouts and then archived to YouTube, so check out the dedicated YouTube pages for both Bad Movie Fiends and No Quarters.
I’m still making the videos as well. 31 Horror Movies in 31 Days continues, against my better judgment. I may or may not be doing Sci-Fi Spring Break again too. And Worst Movie Scenes of All Time has recently been rebranded and relaunched as Watch This Scene, mainly to update the graphics and theme music WHICH WILL ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANE. We’re also making video game related videos over on the No Quarters channel.
And if I’ve needed to say something about a movie I’ve been doing so on Letterboxd, which if they get their shit together could end up being a great social network site for movie lovers.
So, there’s an update. Hosting fee justified. Not really.
This is an ongoing post where I’ll keep track of all the games I finish (or abandon in anger) in 2012. (Note: I am not a girl.)
Finished in November
- Medal of Honor: Warfighter (360) | Grade: B- | There are some really great driving sequences in this. Unfortunately the game is not called Wardriver. Everything about it is just mostly okay. The story makes little sense and focuses on the wrong things.
- Forza Horizon (360) | Grade: A | Challenging yet relaxing, colorful, fun racing title with atmosphere galore. Really solid game.
- WWE ’13 (360) | Grade: B+ | Best story mode in a wrestling game ever, one I hope continues and thrives as the standard for WWE games.
- Need for Speed Most Wanted (360) | Grade: B+ | The 2012 version of Most Wanted is Burnout Paradise with cops. Needed more personality and character in the single player mode.
- Call of Duty Black Ops II (360) | Grade: B+ | Not as engaging as the original BLOPS and takes some weird turns as far as who you play as in certain segments. The last 3rd of the game is amazing though before it kinda all falls apart at the very end.
- The Walking Dead: Episode 5 (XBLA) | Grade: A+ | Game of the Year. No question. Maybe even my favorite of this entire generation of games.
- Asura’s Wrath (360) | Grade: A- | Interactive anime quick time event beat ’em up weirdness. Loved it, despite the bullshit ending.
Finished in October
- The Walking Dead: Episode 4 (XBLA) | Grade: A | Holy. Crap. Again.
- Quantum of Solace (360) | Grade: B+ | Treyarch’s James Bond game takes some interesting liberties with the first two Daniel Craig movies, still manages to be a lot of fun.
Finished in August
- The Walking Dead: Episode 3 (XBLA) | Grade: A | Holy. Crap.
Finished in July
- NCAA Football 08 (360) | Achievement point whoring! 1000/1000
- NCAA Football 07 (360) | Achievement point whoring! 1000/1000
- NHL 2K6 (360) | Achievement point whoring! 1000/1000
- Front Mission Evolved (360) | Grade: B- | Don’t ask me what this game is about other than giant mechs and space elevators. You get to shoot stuff. Someone in the game might be your Dad, and he might be a good guy or a bad guy.
Finished in June
- EA Sports MMA (360) | Grade: C+ | Completed the story mode twice and got all the offline achievements (online play is no longer possible). Technically sound, but still long loads times and a sport I don’t care about.
- Madden 06 (360) | Achievement point whoring! Completed 1000/1000 Gamerscore while watching E3 coverage.
- Major League Baseball 2K6 (360) | Achievement point whoring! Completed 1000/1000 Gamerscore while watching E3 coverage.
- Madden 09 (360) | Achievement point whoring! Completed 1000/1000 Gamerscore while watching E3 coverage.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (360) | Grade: B- | Super condensed version of the movie. Play the scenes that could easily be a video game, watch the rest. Spell casting is fun.
- Homefront (360) | Grade: C- | So it’s Red Dawn, from the writer of Red Dawn, done so damn poorly. The story is more epic than anything you end up doing, and you never feel like you’re part of the bigger picture. Disappointing.
- Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters (360) | Grade: B+ | Surprisingly not bad, and actually better than the feature film. Action/beat ’em up with Ryan Reynolds actually providing the voice for his character.
- Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood (360) | Grade: B+ | Prequel to the first game and superior in every way. Worth a playthrough, even worth two playthroughs (one as each main character).
- Madden 08 (360) | Achievement point whoring! 1000/1000
- Fight Night Champion (360) | Story Mode Grade: A- / Overall Grade: C+ | Easily the greatest story mode ever in a sports game. The overall game has some serious technical flaws though.
- Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut (360) | Grade: A | Why couldn’t you have done this the first time around, Bioware? Game still has some jank but the ending is much improved.
- The Walking Dead: Episode 2 (XBLA) | Grade: A- | Still some of the best storytelling of this generation with some amazingly difficult moral choices, but technically this episode needed a little longer to cook.
Finished in May
- Pac-Man: Championship Edition (XBLA) | Grade: A | Just needed one more achievement to reach 200/200, finally got it. Great update to the original Pac-Man.
- Pac-Man Championship Edition DX (XBLA) | Grade: A- | Same situation as Pac-Man: CE. Only knock against this game is that the previous one was just a little better.
- Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock (360) | Grade: C+ | Strip away all the stupid bullshit about Rock being an ancient force and a giant Gene Simmons battling a robot, and there’s a surprisingly deep rhythm game with tons more features than Rock Band 3. Only 40% of the soundtrack is any good though. Thanks for killing the genre guys.
Finished in April
- F.E.A.R. Files (360) | Grade: B+ | Two non-canon expansion packs. The first is better than the original game, the second is sadly more of a shooter than a creepfest. Still, great stuff.
- The Walking Dead: Episode 1 (XBLA) | Grade: A | Impressive as hell, great look and atmosphere, nicely done all around. I hope the next 4 chapters can live up to this.
Finished in March
- Mass Effect 2 (360) | Grade: A+ | Second playthrough, this time with all the DLC. Still one of my favorite games this generation.
- Mass Effect 3 (360) | Grade: A- | Technical bugs and a totally disappointing final scene hurt what is otherwise still a terrific game. Look for a No Quarters spoilercast soon with lots of in-depth talk on this one…
- F.E.A.R. (360) | Grade: B+ | Holds up surprisingly well for a launch era port, with some great atmosphere and some legitimate creepy moments. Story is nonsense though.
Finished in February
- Syndicate (360) | Grade: B | Solid first person shooter, short on story. Guns feel great, and you feel right at home playing through it. Not as robust as Deus Ex though.
- Red Faction Guerrilla (360) | Grade: B- | I could only play this in hour long chunks. Not much story, which makes most of the game feel repetitive and lackluster. Still, I love smashing buildings and watching them fall onto EDF troops.
Finished in January
- Dragon Age: Origins (360) | Grade: A+ | Simply amazing storytelling. I wish I’d played this one sooner. Now to go through all the DLC…
- Call of Duty: Black Ops (360) | Grade: A- | Surprisingly unique single-player mode… for a CoD game. Amazing presentation and impressive graphics too. More of this please.
- Dragon Age Origins: Awakening (360) | Grade: A- | Not as polished as the main game, but still a solid 20 hour expansion pack.
- Call of Juarez (360) | The gameplay is woefully outdated, which is a shame because playing as both sides of the same story seemed interesting.
- Operation Darkness (360) | A Japanese turn-based, grid-based RPG about World War II with Final Fantasy-esque characters fighting Nazis, and then eventually vampires. Not as fun as that sounds.
- Castlevania: SOTN (XBLA) | Just not my kind of game anymore. Didn’t feel like playing more than 10 minutes of it.
- Star Trek: Legacy (360) | It took 5 years, but finally I’m ready to say it. F*ck this f*cking game.
- Thor: God of Thunder (360) | Conceptually interesting, lackluster graphics, poor level design. Gave up during the finale, which is so badly realized that you can end up playing it completely wrong and prevent completion of the game.
- Madden 12 (360) | The NFL isn’t doing it for me much anymore, and so I got the easy achievements (about 570/1000 in only a couple of games) and got out.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (360) | Played for about 30 hours, hadn’t played it in over a month, no desire to return. Got what I needed to get from it.
- Burnout Revenge (360) | Since the online servers were shutting down, we thought we’d play some multiplayer and get those achievements. Sometimes you can’t go back. And I can’t go forward in this game anymore. Hit the wall.
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (360) | With this game I realized just how “over” the Star Wars universe I am. Force powers are fun, but the blind jumping, poor checkpoints and insanely radical shifts in tone were just too damn annoying.
- Trials HD (XBLA) | Time to give this game two middle fingers and call it a day.
- Pac-Man (XBLA) | Yes, the classic arcade version. There’s one achievement I’ll never get, so that’s that really.
- Game Room (XBLA) | You can still go there. Games are still $3. And to get any more achievements, I’d have to purchase more games. Not gonna happen. Great idea, horrible execution. Way to fuck up something potentially awesome, Microsoft.
- Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection (360) | One achievement left to go (950/1000) but it’s one I’ll probably never get. Nice compilation though, and a disc I’ll be keeping in my collection.
- BCFX: Black College Football The Xperience (360) | Achievement point whoring! Completed 690/1000 Gamerscore while watching E3 coverage. (Would have gotten the entire 1000, but the game really, REALLY sucks.)
- Madden NFL 07 (360) | Achievement point whoring! Completed 945/1000 before declaring the rest of the achievements unattainable.
- Beijing 2008 (360) | Olympic games should be better than this by now. Deleted from my profile entirely.
- NCAA March Madness 07 (360) | Achievement point whoring! Completed 700/1000 before declaring the rest of the achievements unattainable.
- MLB Front Office Manager (360) | Started playing this for points, then the “What the hell am I doing?!” realization hit me.
- Eragon (360) | Started out as a mildly decent licensed game, grew extremely tedious as it went along.
- Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed (360) | Well done Mario Cart clone that’s better suited for multiplayer matches. Was a fun rental.
- Street Fighter IV (360) | Took me about 7 minutes to realize that I do not like Street Fighter games. At all.
- Super Street Fighter IV (360) | And adding Super to the title doesn’t help.
As predicted, I’ve gone and lost my mind.
Despite my lifelong gaming career, I’ve never owned any kind of arcade machine. Never even been close to owning one. For the most part, classic games I’d want to play have been recreated on PC and other gaming platforms, so if I ever got the itch to play Dragon’s Lair there’s always an easy solution.
Then pinball came along.
The Xbox 360 releases of Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection, Pinball FX and Pinball Arcade have reintroduced me to the world of pinball. Now I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar mind you. Growing up in arcades as I did, pinball machines were always available. The local pizza parlor had a 1980 Gottlieb machine called Star Race that I put many of my parents’ quarters into. But as video games progressed, pinball seemed to die out, and I never really gave it a second thought. After playing these recent recreations though, I slipped into old man mode and started wishing for “how things used to be”.
See, you can recreate classic video games, most of them perfectly. But while you can make a digital version of a classic pinball machine, it is not the same nor will it ever be. And this became the appeal. I can download a billion ROMs and play every video game I never got the chance to, but pinball machines… once they break down and die, that’s it. They’re gone. And so I wanted to play them.
There are 50+ public machines in my local metropolitan area available to play, most of which are in lousy locations and/or don’t work properly. So I investigated further, and found there are at least three pinball festivals a year in the state. After attending my first, that was it, I had to have one of my very own. Sure I knew practically nothing about maintaining one, but why let some pesky detail like that get in the way? Must own pinball machine.
I wish I’d come to this realization 10 years or so ago, since the market for pinball was quite different back then. Everyone is aware of the scarcity of pinball these days, and so unfortunately tables come at a premium. But luckily, after a couple weeks of searching, I found one on Craigslist for a very reasonable price. So reasonable that even if I ended up breaking it trying to repair it, other components could still be sold off to make up for the loss.
And so I now own a Williams table from 1964, called San Francisco.
It has some minor issues. The first player score reel won’t reset properly at the start of the game, some bulbs need replacing, and someone did a terrible job of painting over the original cabinet art which must be corrected immediately. Other than that, plays fine, just needs some minor cleaning. The playfield though for the most part is pretty great.
I’d totally consider owning a Dragon’s Lair machine now by the way.
After the break are some videos related specifically to the maintenance and display of this machine. They’re there mostly for my sake, but if you’re curious by all means check them out.
This weekend the No Quarters crew will be appearing at the Game Warp show in Orlando, Florida. It’s a classic gaming and pinball expo with all kinds of old school arcade and pinball machines, free to play with admission into the show. You can check out more details about the show at Gamewarp.org, and listen to Episode 38 and Episode 39 of No Quarters to hear us interview the show organizer as well as all our enthusiasm for the event. There will be tournaments and trash talking and probably some beers. Come say hi!
Quick list of a bunch of new to Netflix Instant titles that, if you’re not a total douchebag, you should find something to entertain yourself with for your measly $8 monthly fee.
Amazing Stories: Seasons 1-2
Beneath the Darkness
The Best of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
Broadway Danny Rose
Crossing Jordan Seasons 1-6
Death Race 2000
Futurama Volume 6
Ghidorah: The Three Headed Monster
Ghost Hunters: International
Half Past Dead
Humanoids From The Deep
King of California
Knight Rider Seasons 1-4
The Lonely Guy
Project X (1987)
Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
Top Gear: Series 16
Witness For The Prosecution
Here’s a bunch of legal movies you can watch this weekend on Netflix Instant.
With everything going on this week involving copyright infringement, government legislation, criminal indictments and retaliatory hacking, I felt the need to provide a voice of reason… because some of you people are out of your goddamned minds.
The questionable pieces of governmental legislation, SOPA and PIPA, are dangerous. They’re dangerous not because they’re designed to remove pirated materials from the internet, but because they are so poorly worded and barely even understood by those in charge of passing said legislation that the protests against them are absolutely necessary. The power in those bills is so broad that just about anything could be removed from the internet at any time without any due process whatsoever. They need to be stopped.
Opposing these bills does not mean you are pro-piracy though. That’s important to point out. Because there are actually three factions in this fight: the government rushing to pass the poorly defined bills, the rational people who want them to slow the hell down and realize that what they’re doing will do more harm than good, and then the people who would be so totes angers if they can’t steal their My Little Pony episodes anymore and will have no choice but to hax0rs the world because they think everything should be free.
You do not have the inalienable right to steal movies, music, games, books, or TV shows. You do not have ANY right to steal movies, music, games, books or TV shows. There is nothing in the constitution protecting your right to be entertained. If you steal these items, you have no right to get angry at those upholding copyright laws. You can feel disappointed, sure, that your gravy train of free entertainment is over. But mad at “the man”? No sir.
Many pro-piracy arguments revolve around the assumption that “the studios” charge “outrageous sums of money” for “mediocre products”. This may be true. In fact, it pretty much is. Content holders think their products are worth WAY more than they actually are. Doesn’t mean you get to just take it because you don’t think it’s worth paying for. Argue the semantics of stealing a physical object vs. a digital object all you want. You’re still stealing it, and you have no right to do so.
Are the studios to blame for many of their own problems? You can certainly argue that. Charging outrageous sums of money to companies like Netflix just because they’ve stumbled upon a streaming model that people actually want is egregious. If you give people reasonable options to access your content, most people will use those options. I pay for HBO, however my satellite provider will not allow me to watch HBOGO on my TV because it conflicts with their agreements regarding their On Demand selection. HBOGO has content that is not available On Demand. I would like to watch this content on my TV, like other people with similar technology and television service, but I’m not allowed. This is the kind of nonsense I’m talking about that drives consumers mad.
Do I download from torrent sites? Yes I do. Come at me bro. But I would welcome my day in court to defend anything I’ve ever downloaded. Is all piracy wrong? In the eyes of the law, yes. And I can accept the consequences if it ever comes to that. However, these are my rules:
1. If the movie in question is out of print, not available on any streaming service or has never been released on a current video format, then that’s something I have no problem with downloading. If I cannot give the original creators or current copyright holders any money, then it should make no difference how I obtain the product in question. Last year the wife and I watched The Legend of Billie Jean. It was not available on any streaming platform, and had only made it as far as VHS as far as home video is concerned. I could have bought a used VHS copy on Ebay or Amazon for $50+, but what good does that do? Give some yahoo who found the tape at a flea market some scratch? No. Instead I found a high-def capture from a television broadcast of the film a year or two earlier. So we watched that, and it was glorious. Had it been on DVD at the time, we would have just bought it. Didn’t have that option.
To be clear, I’m not talking about downloading a Blu-ray rip of The Expendables because it’s late at night and you don’t want to drive to one of your 47 local Redboxes or pay the $8 a month charge for Netflix. Downloading anything so readily available from dozens of legit sources is piracy.
2. If my DVR flips out or there’s a service outage of some kind, I will download a television show that was missed if I have no other option. Am I going to pay iTunes or Amazon $2-$3 because my $180 satellite TV service went to shit one night? Hell no. I pay my satellite bill and I wasn’t going to watch any commercials in that particular program anyway. And Hulu’s new restrictions about new episodes of a series not being available until 8 days after originally airing? Do you know how retarded that is? By that logic, you can never watch a show live again. You can never get caught up with a weekly show, forever one episode behind until that series ends its run.
3. Is there any modern way to play my classic video games? Say, the Atari 5200? No? Most TVs don’t even have the right connections anymore? Well I can download the library and emulate it on a device of my choice. That’s perfectly acceptable to me. Again, there’s no way to give the original creators or current copyright holders one single penny for that kind of stuff, which I would happily do if there was the option.
Am I “in the wrong” in all three of these instances? Technically yes. But if my source for out of print movies suddenly got shut down, I’d be disappointed but not filled with furious anger against the US Government. The government does a metric ton of shady shenanigans, but going after Megaupload via criminal indictments isn’t one of them. If they don’t have a case, they won’t get convicted.
If you don’t like the policies and practices of the studios, then don’t support them. Use your money on something else, like a vacation or a sporting event. That’s how you change things. Stealing something you don’t think is worth paying for still attaches a value to that item. The studios tally up illegal downloads and assign a dollar value, concluding that they just lost X amount of dollars and then employing more and more efforts to get people to stop stealing their product. If you remove that number from the equation, THEN you’ll start to see some real changes in the way content holders value their product. If there was no piracy and studio profits continued to spiral downwards, they’d change their business model.
The point I’m trying to make here is simple: pay for your entertainment. And if you support Anonymous and their retribution against those involved in the recent Megaupload indictment, kindly go fuck yourself.
Hey, do you like Asylum movies? Well good, because this weekend you can watch a bunch of ’em.
Some interesting titles are now available for your streaming delight on Netflix.
Bond is back, again, on Netflix Instant. You can stream Diamonds Are Forever, Dr. No, For Your Eyes Only, Goldeneye, Goldfinger, License to Kill, Live and Let Die, The Living Daylights, The Man With the Golden Gun, Moonraker, Never Say Never Again, Octopussy, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, The Spy Who Loved Me, Thunderball, A View to a Kill, The World is Not Enough and You Only Live Twice. Hurry though… as per usual the Bond films will expire in a month or so.