Thursday, August 30, 2007

Metroid Month on the Wii Console means yes, Yes, YES!

In honor of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, which comes out… um…a few days ago (How the hell did I let THAT slip me by?) Nintendo has deemed August the Month of Metroid on the Wii Network. And you know what THAT means, right? No? Well, I’ll tell you then. It means that you can pick up both the original Metroid (yawn) and also the seminal sequel Super Metroid (HECK YES!) for moderately low, low prices.

But before I get into just why I don’t care about Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, let me talk about a topic that’s very near and dear to my heart…the game, Super Metroid (You thought I was going to start talking about diabetes, didn’t you?).

Aside from Super Mario World, Super Metroid might just be the best game available to purchase on the Virtual Console, and here’s why. Costing you a measly 800 points, Super Metroid pretty much made everybody who thought they had the whole MetroidVania genre figured out do a double take as its lush graphics, epic quest, and interesting storyline revolutionized the SNES.

This game is around the seventh chronologically (or ninth if you’re counting that Pinball thing, and Gameboy remake of the original, Zero Mission) in the immensely detailed Samus canon (The Prime games actually exist between the original and Super Metroid, even though they came out much later), and also represents a turning point in the Metroid series that…well, why spoil it for you kiddies out there who haven’t played it yet? Your parents have money, go and bug them already.

But now, on to why I couldn’t give two sweet pitoots about Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Quite frankly, as loud as the plaudits were for the original Prime, I just couldn’t get into it. Actually, let me rephrase that, I STILL can’t get into it, even after a second, unbiased run through. And despite many claims that you don’t have to be an FPS fan to like the game, they’re wrong. Dead wrong. The game has the stinky stain of FPS all over it, and it shows as soon as you get to the first boss and have to aim with Halo like precision to nail the jump jiving target.

And personally, I’m sick of this behind the visor crap now anyway and want to see Samus Aran’s beautiful metal figure in glorious 2-D action outside of a Smash Brothers game, thank you very much. Is there anybody else out there with me on this? I mean, even Tony Hawk threw in Bam Margera to spice up the series. So couldn’t Nintendo do the same thing with Metroid?
Oh, and by the way, I mean spice up the series, not throw in Bam Margera. That would just be stupid.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Duck Down Records Signs KRS-One; “He’s On My Label Now,” Says Buckshot

In an exclusive interview with, Black Moon front man, Buckshot, has announced that Duck Down Records has signed the legendary KRS-One. “Yeah, we just signed KRS-One to Duck Down,” Buckshot told “He’s on my label now. We’re going hard, as far as production wise.” Buckshot, who is co-CEO of Duck Down Records with Dru Ha, is also working another album with producer 9th Wonder entitled The Formula. The LP is the follow up to 2005’s Chemistry. “It’s a whole different time,” Buck says in regards to the album’s direction. ‘It’s a different scene. It’s a reflection of what needs to be said and it’s my manifestation. I’m trying to show people that I’m actually greater at what I do then what is perceived when I come up with concepts and stories. The things I do lyrically on this album aren’t easy. That’s the whole point of hip-hop, to do what’s not easy.” The Formula will be released this fall.
Reporting by Rich Knight

Friday, August 24, 2007

I want to (Air) Rock

What leads a person to want to be a rock star? Pfft, please. Who doesn’t want to be a rock star? With the legion of groupies, millions of fans, and excuse to wear sequined spandex on a daily basis, rock star is probably the most wanted occupation right up there with movie star and ninja. But what about an air guitar star? Well, that’s a question I’ve always had ever since I watched the doc The US Air Guitar Championships on August 16th, I now know why.

With the sold out crowd at The Fillmore at Irving Plaza, the fans were bananas, especially for hometown hero William Ocean, who wound up winning the whole shebang. Of course, in theory, the whole idea of air guitaring really isn’t all that amazing, not with the cultural revolution that is Guitar Hero anyway. But there’s just something about being around all those sweaty, potential rock gods in the audience that really fills you with a sense of…unity. Especially when after the show, people storm the stage and start air guitaring like they’re the stars—which they are, really, as everybody’s a star is when they’re air guitaring.

Now, if only they had a competition for air accordion…

Check out a Flickr stream of shots from the Air Guitar Championship.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Why Is The Virtual Console The Only Thing I Play On My Wii?

By now, if you’ve ever read a single one of my articles before, you’d probably think that I hate the Wii. A lot. That’s as in current episodes of Family Guy, a lot. But that actually couldn’t be farther from the truth. I actually love the Wii right now, but not for the reasons many of you fanboys (and girls) out there love it for (And why you love it for now, I can’t even imagine). Currently, the video game market is looking pretty dismal. With a stale 360 line-up (Besides BioShock, which looks aw, aw, aw, awesome), and abysmal PS3 games (Metal Gear notwithstanding), it looks like my once favored pastime has become a chore in itself just to get enthused for what I once used to love so very much.

But there’s hope! Much like every generation runs out of cultural ideas for pretty much everything (In the 90s, it was clothes. That’s why bell-bottom JNCO jeans got so stupidly popular), games look to be on that familiar treadmill effect again that happened in the early 80s. I mean, sure, there are some exceptions to the rule—God of War 2, Dead Rising, and Guitar Hero 2 come to mind—but for the most part, what else is there? Honestly. And please, no more long lists of crummy games to prove me wrong. I usually laugh at those and say, “Man, you are reach-ing.”

But as I said before, there’s hope. While I never really forgot how much fun a game like Kid Chameleon or Wave Race 64 was, it’s nice to be reminded of it every so often, and the Virtual Console does just that. Sure, I wish some of my personal favorites would land on the console (I am REALLY pining for some Battletoads and Double Dragon action right about now), but what’s been put up there on the VC market, for the most part, is really pretty good. Even better than TMNT The Arcade Game, which landed on X-Box Live Arcade not too long ago. And for a shell-shocked shell head like me to say that, that’s saying quite a bit.

So as a retro machine with style, the Wii really isn’t all that bad. But as a serious console, the Wii is pathetic. As is the PS3, and as is the 360 (And no, I don’t work for Microsoft as some have implied. I don’t even own a 360, damnit). Hopefully, this dearth in quality new games is only temporary, though. A man can only get too much of Balloon Fight before he finally gives up and stops playing altogether.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Lair Pushed Back...Because it sucks

Lair, the dragon riding, seemingly awesome PS3 experience, has been pushed back from its August 14th release date to September 4th, putting it in direct contention with Heavenly Sword, which is also set to come out that day. According to, Associate Producer, Ryan Hamlyn posted an update on the Playstation.Blog that the delay is because of “Online features – such as leaderboards and medal systems,” that need to be implemented before the game can be released. But personally, I’m not buying it. In the most recent issue of EGM, the game scored TERRIBLY, with one of the key complaints being that the in-air battle system didn’t make a lick of sense, and also that controlling the dragon’s flight patterns was about as graceful as controlling a Hummer in mid-air, which equates to mobility. So yeah, I’m more than a little suspicious about this delay, and think Factor-5 may be changing a few key gameplay elements to make one of the bigger games for the PS3 into something that’s actually worth playing. And to all those I might have offended before by writing that the PS3 would eventually turn out to be a good system, for that, I’m terribly, terribly sorry. After actually playing the system this weekend at a friend’s house and testing out the Heavenly Sword demo, I must say that I’m HIGHLY disappointed. The gameplay is lackluster, to say the very least, and horrendous to say the very most. Playing like an un-responsive version o God of War, many times, I’d wind up giving strange faces at the television screen when I’d enter commands that worked at one point, but failed to do anything the next. And you know how every brutal hit in GoW just feels like it’s MEANT to happen? Not so in Heavenly Sword, as many times I found myself wondering whether my pressing of the triangle button really meant anything, or if it was just there as ornamentation, as it seemed like my chances of actually hitting anything were about 50/50. The PS3, like the Wii, is another piece of wasted hardware, and as of right now, I’m pretty ashamed to call myself a gamer. As Milhouse would say while crying on his belly, “When are they going to get to the fireworks factory?” When are they going to get to the fireworks factory, indeed.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

eBay's Big, Big Winner

Steve Ratner, the 52-year-old principal of creative service agency, Ivy Creative, is many things to many people—a father, a husband, a commercial producer, a print designer, a brand builder, and more. One other title to add to Ratner’s robust resume: PayPal frequent buyer. Ratner has been purchasing products on eBay since 1998. In fact, Ratner’s collection is so vast that the inside of his entire house is almost completely stocked with products bought from eBay and other consumer-based websites. SMITH talked to the Southborough resident via phone.

SMITH: Why the urge to purchase everything in your house off of eBay?
Steve Ratner: It wasn’t everything. My wife Amy and I purchased many things, but it certainly wasn’t everything. We were building a modern house, and I wanted to have a shot at putting the best quality stuff in it for the first time around. In order to do that, I went on eBay to save as much money as I could, so it was a monetary thing. You can spend $100 on a faucet at Home Depot, or, you can get a really good deal on eBay and put in a $70 faucet instead.

What drew you into the world of eBay?
I’m into modern design, and it was a way of finding items that you couldn’t find anywhere around here in Southborough. And by modern design, I’m talking about chairs, tables, stuff like that. And that’s how I started out.

What do your friends think of all the stuff you buy off eBay?
Oh, they’re fascinated. All my friends say that if they were ever going to be buying a new house, they’d ask for my help. In fact, I have a good friend in New York who’s building a house and asked me for some of the online companies I dealt with when I was building my own house.

So, what would you do if somebody read this article and saw what you did with your house and then decided that they wanted to do the same thing with theirs?
I’d think it’s a great idea. Look, eBay has really made inroads in our society and the way people buy things. I mean, you wouldn’t buy a $50 dresser on eBay and pay 100 bucks to ship it from California. You just wouldn’t do that. But, you would if, say, the item you were buying was something that you couldn’t get anyplace else. I don’t know how familiar you are with modern designers, but there’s a guy named George Nelson who created a bunch of items in the 50s and 60s and these items are the new antiques if you’re into modern design. So, eBay’s a great place to find items like that. You know, very special items.

Would you say you’re obsessed with eBay?
No. It’s just another way of purchasing. There was an incident where my wife and I went shopping for a high-end couch for the house and it was very expensive. There was only one place in Boston that sold this particular couch, and when we went there, the customer service wasn’t great. We didn’t get treated well, and it was just a bad experience. So I went home and knew I would be able to get it someplace else, even if I went to New York. So I went online and found a place in London where I could buy it, and it ended up being one-third cheaper than buying it in Boston. So I bought it in England and had it shipped here. That was a good experience.

Might you know what your next purchase on eBay will be?
You know what’s interesting? I bought some art on eBay—high-end black and white photographs—and it might be something like that. Maybe a black-and-white photograph landscape or something. There are a certain a number of galleries I’ve visited.

What’s your six word memoir?
I don’t need six, all I need is three…less is more.

Find the article on the actual site (and with a much better picture) here:

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A Tale of Two Towns

It’s the best of times, and it’s the worst of times for Jefferson Township, as the mayor’s motto, “one town, one future,” might have an overwhelming crux against it—recreational basketball for the youth.

And that’s because there are actually two sides to this story, one from Lake Hopatcong, and the other from Oak Ridge.

In one corner, you have the Milton Recreation Association (MRA), and on the other side, you have the Jefferson Sports League (JSL) in Lake Hopatcong.

For all intents and purposes, though, with the possibility of unity and a merging of both clubs to form one individual group, some people are for it, while others are not as supportive of the merge.

Mr. Brad Ferguson, the equipment manager for the MRA and girls director of travel, happens to be for it.

“With the kids under one umbrella, it would remove animosity between the two towns,” says Mr. Ferguson,

On the flip side, though is Mr. Bob Rubel from Lake Hopatcong who didn’t want to really speak to the paper about the issue while negotiations were still being handled.

“Let’s get the facts straight,” said Mr. Rubel, “I’m not against the vote. Once all the matters are settled, though, I’ll be happy to speak with the paper.”

But which side is right in their beliefs? This article is not here to pick sides or point fingers but rather to open up a discussion that will hopefully further advance the matter.

Should there be a merge of the Oak Ridge and Lake Hopatcong recreational basketball teams, or should the two remain separate?

It’s a matter that could probably be better decided if more people came to the table, as at the last Jefferson Basketball Association (JBA) meeting, a mere twelve people showed up to vote on the merge. Eight were in favor (All Oak Ridge residents) of it, three abstained (Lake Hopatcong), and one (Mr. Rudel, also from Lake Hopatcong) voted no to merge the two teams together.

One thing leaning in the merge’s favor though is that basketball is the only sport in Jefferson that has yet to bring Lakeside and Oak Ridge together into one group, as every other sport in the township has already done so.

But there are other reasons that Mr. Ferguson feels that the merge should occur, too.

“[With two separate sides], there’s a lack of coordination. And when there’s snow involved, some kids might lose six or seven practices because they don’t know which gym to go to,” says Mr. Ferguson.

Separation or not, though, Mr. Ferguson just wants to see more butts in the seats when they have meetings about certain issues.

“It seems like the MRA is really cramming this down people’s throats, but a lot of people want it to happen. And if they don’t, they should come down and vote,” says Mr. Ferguson.

The phrase “one town, one future,” all depends on how you look at it. But we here at AIM think it’s a far, far better thing that we do by staying as objective on this matter as possible.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Twelve Games To Play Before You Die

Buying the farm, pushing up daisies, the big sleep, whatever you call it, death represents that great big unknown that theologians and atheists have been wrestling with for centuries. (Theologians, “There is a God!” Atheists, “Yeah, and it’s Michael Jordan.”)

But whatever side you believe in, real or fake, afterlife or anti-after life (Is that even a phrase?) here are twelve great games you need to play before you die. And if you disagree, all I have to say to the theologians is go to hell, and to the Atheists, go to Cleveland.

*Note: Some legendary games like Super Mario 64, A Link to the Past, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 are not on this list because if you haven’t played them already, then you’re not a gamer. Sorry, but it’s true.

12. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: Nintendo Wii
With a launch day release akin to Halo, being released day one for the Xbox; the Wii had a killer app right out the gate. The quest was huge, the gameplay exciting, and the story was arguably Link’s greatest. Most importantly, though, is that this is the kind of game that’s really going to look good growing old with you. And believe it or not, some people even say that they like the Gamecube version better. But those people are idiots and can’t handle the power of the mote. It’s true. Trust me, I know.

11. Panzer Dragoon Saga: Sega Saturn
The problem with a list like this is that many of these games, for whatever reason (probably because you didn’t buy them when they originally came out) are near impossible to find now, which is a shame, because Panzer Dragoon Saga really is an excellent RPG. Spanning four disks, this epic quest took everything you liked about the first two Dragoon games—the grandeur, the graphics, the majesty—and gave it a story that was sweeping enough to make it a classic. And the village sections weren’t even boring, either. You’d think an on-rails shooter about flying dragons would actually want you to stay on your winged pet, but many times, you would get off and talk to villagers to advance the storyline. Now that’s an RPG, baby.

10. Streets of Rage 3: Sega Genesis
People need to lighten up. Sure, deep down, Streets of Rage 3 is just like any other beat-em-up—you walk around, punch some fool named X Axis in the face, eat chicken off the ground, and repeat. But there’s just something about SoR3 that makes it the king of all beat-em-ups, making it even better than its predecessor, SoR2, which some still rank as the best in the trilogy. Whatever. SoR3 had better music, more balanced characters, and a kangaroo. How can you get any better than that? Well, maybe it could be better if it had an extremely homosexual miniboss named Ash that is so stereotypical and over the top that even a very liberal guy like myself gets offended. Wait a minute, that’s actually in the Japanese version. Okay, I stand corrected, SoR3 can’t get any better.

9. Zombies Ate My Neighbors: Super Nintendo
Okay, so ZATM is not the deepest game in the world (Find victims, save them, go through magic door, next level!). But when it comes to broad one or two player fun with a whole lot of character, you can’t get any better than ZAMN. With great music, cooky levels that never get repetitive, and an arsenal of weapons that you would piss your pants with if that’s all you had against a chainsaw wielding maniac in a hedge maze, ZAMN is definitely the game I want to be playing on my deathbed before the heart monitor goes, “Eeeeeeee.”

8. Rocket Knight Adventures: Sega Genesis
Most people who had a Genesis had Sonic. Or Vectorman. Or Dynamite Heady. Or all of them! But very few can claim they’ve had Sparkster in their life, a blue armor wearing opossum that’s part marsupial, part rocketeer. The game play is pretty simple, with your sword being able to slash pigs until they fly out of their armor and run away. But the fun factor is way up their and similar to the amount of fun you’d probably get out of any of the early Mario games. Like excitement? Like flying? Like humor? Then you’ll LOVE Rocket Knight Adventures.

7. Super Ghouls and Ghosts: Super Nintendo
Honestly, if you’re not already dying, then this game might actually kill you! Also, if you just put up a new roof on your house, then look out, because the difficulty factor will go right through it, as this is one of the toughest games known to man. Still, along with its difficulty is a grand quest where every double jump is a held breath followed by a triumphant exhalation once you make your landing. I actually got this game when it originally came out and I’m still trying to master the final level. That takes a lot of guts, kid.

6. Chrono Cross: Playstation One
People will lament that I didn’t put Chrono Trigger on this list, but so what? If you’ve only played one RPG outside of the Final Fantasy canon, chances are it was Chrono Trigger. But not everybody picked up this dimension leaping sequel, and that’s a real shame, since I actually consider it to be better than the original. Following loosely on the story of Trigger, the story is, in my opinion, much deeper and more exciting, as are all the characters you can amass and use on your travails. Not only that, but the combat system, seemingly simplistic with its color swapping battle ground, is actually remarkably deep when used strategically. Curse you Square Enix for putting Chrono Break on indefinite hold!

5. Marvel Vs. Capcom 2: Sega Dreamcast
Fighting games are a hard market to push in that once you beat one, there’s usually no reason to keep on playing it, but MvC2 is different. VERY different. If anything, MvC2 is a fighting game that can be played until the end of time with its huge roster, massive combo possibilities, and overall good time. The only thing actually hindering this masterpiece is the God awful music (“I want to take you for a riiiiide!”). With a soundtrack that’s so horrendously bad that it makes dying cats sounds more soothing, MvC2 is quite possibly the worst music I’ve ever heard. And that’s saying a lot. I listen to Wesley Willis.

4. Nights: Into Dreams: Sega Saturn
Don’t believe what everybody says, Nights is still an excellent game and might actually be better than you remember it. Weaving in and out of the background as if you really were flying through some lucid dream, the game made up for its limited gameplay with exciting levels and a feeling of absolute freedom that wouldn’t be met again until GTA3. Honestly, can the Wii sequel get here any sooner?

3. Shadow of the Colossus: Playstation 2
There is no other experience like SotC. None. A game full of nothing but bosses? A land entirely desolate besides the distant stomping of some epic (and innocent) giant? A story so heart rending that you actually feel bad for the protagonist, even though he might have doomed all humanity forever? All these and more are part of the unbelievable experience that is SotC. And if my beliefs are correct, years from now, gamers will look back on it like people look at a Picasso painting. They’ll see it as more than just a game—they’ll see it as pure art.

2. Eternal Darkness: Gamecube
Survival horror is a very difficult genre to put a finger on. On one hand, it can immerse you in a game more than any other with its chills that practically glue you to the seat. But on the other hand, with terrible voice acting, ridiculous storylines, and implausible occurrences, it can also make you feel stranded entirely away from your television—Silent Hill 1 through whatever number they’re on now is a prime example. But Eternal Darkness is different. And I feel very sorry for you if you call yourself a fan of the genre and haven’t played this game yet. Yes, there is a gimmick, and it’s hallucinating, which occurs when you start to see too many monsters. But there’s also a killer storyline, too that totally immerses you in the lives of characters who have been wrestling with evil since almost the beginning of time. I don’t care what anybody says, I’d STILL choose this game over RE4 any day.

1. God of War 2: Playstation 2
Surprised? Then you haven’t played this game then. While some people consider the first God of War to be the better title, I assume those people are on David Jaffe’s payroll or in his immediate family, because GoW2 is a superior game in every way. The boss battles SCREAM epic, as does the quest, the mythology, and especially the character, Kratos. Making you feel every bit as bad ass as a god killing Spartan as possible, Kratos is the kind of anti-hero that you not only root for, but also wish you could be, too. Deathbed repentance is important, but I think GoW2 might be a little bit more so. It IS the number one game to play before you die, after all.