Category Archives: Humor
I love all types of games. Video games will always be close to my heart, but that doesn’t mean I have any less respect for board games, card games, sports, reality competitions, or game shows. And hey, on the note of those last two, Ru Paul’s Drag Race has finally kicked off season 7 this week! As the nation’s biggest competition for drag performers, the show has aired annually since 2009 and has become a staple of the Logo TV network. It’s been such a success that it even managed to find its way onto an episode of Jeopardy.
Although each episode contains its own brand of humor, creativity, and unpredictability as the queens duke it out in a test of showmanship, one particular task keeps fans talking every year, even before it airs. It is perhaps the hardest challenge in the game, and is definitely one of the greatest tests of skill and focus.
Is there anything I should know before writing this article?
When it comes to gaming, few genres face more scorn than educational games. “Edutainment,” as it was often called in the 90’s, typically stuck to the style of a third grade textbook with a few bells and whistles (or a licensed character) attached — and as a result, most of them were either awkwardly hilarious or mind-numbingly boring. Part of the problem was the belief that young kids will be entertained by just about anything, which led to a lack of attention to quality.
And then, of course, there’s Captain Novolin.
Released in 1992 by Raya Systems, Captain Novolin is a side-scrolling platformer with the relentless intention of teaching diabetic children to cope with their condition. It is, in my opinion, one of the purest incarnations of an educational game one could ask for. It’s wall-to-wall diabetes information at every turn, but also shows at least some interest in making the gameplay enjoyable by (poorly) mimicking other popular games of the time. In their quest to reach out to children facing a long future of needles and rigid diets, they managed to make one of the most spectacularly ill-conceived video games I’ve ever seen.
If you’ve never heard of this game before now, then it’s your lucky day. I recently decided to re-watch Diabetus’ infamous Let’s Play for the first time in years — and this time around, I tripped over something I’d never noticed before. If you can believe it, the diabetic man in spandex fighting giant alien snacks and divulging personal information to perfect strangers isn’t the weirdest element of this medical adventure.
Attention, Steam users: Today might be the day you stop making fun of Origin and grab an account. For the next five days, EA is offering the game Dragon Age: Origins for free. Not a demo, not a free trial; it’s simply ‘On the House’ — and once it’s added to your user library, it’s yours forever. If you didn’t already have it but were always interested in giving it a shot, today might just be your day.
The free download does not include any of the game’s DLC, but after not spending $20 for it, at least the extras will be more affordable.
If medieval RPGs aren’t your thing… Well, Bejeweled 3 is also On the House at the moment, and that’s about as far away from Dragon Age as you can get. Then again there is that whole thing about dragons hoarding treasure, so maybe they’re not as disparate as they appear.
Obligatory Legal Crap
I am not affiliated with EA or Origin in any way, but I’ll elbow an old granny out of the way to take credit for the graphic I made for this news post. What can I say, I love a bad pun, and this is a bad visual pun.
While July 1st typically conjures thoughts of impending fireworks and barbecues for the average American, there is a certain breed of nerd for whom it’s New Years Day.
Club Nintendo, aka one of the sneakiest vehicles for market research on the planet, is a free membership program offered by Nintendo to its consumers. By registering the PIN codes included with specific game titles, gamers can earn coins that can then be used to for reward items in exchange for answering a short survey. If a user manages to accumulate 300 coins within one calendar year, that user achieves Gold status; those that earn twice that amount achieve Platinum. For whatever reason, Club Nintendo’s calendar begins its year on the first of July. This is significant because it also resets the counter tracking new coins. The previously earned coins are still there, and can still be spent on rewards, but each member’s progress toward achieving Gold or Platinum status is returned to zero after June 30th.
Well, last night was Club Nintendo’s new year’s eve, and I realized that I was still 70 coins shy of achieving Gold for the year. If it was purely a pat-on-the-back sort of ranking, I wouldn’t care if I reached it or not, but Club Nintendo offers a special free gift for its Gold and Platinum members each year. So far I’d managed to reach at least Gold for the last six years, and I wasn’t about to let 230 coins go to waste. Looking over my game shelf, I noticed that I still hadn’t opened New Super Mario Bros. U, which came bundled with my WiiU. I figured that it’d at least get me a big chunk of the way toward my goal (especially since it also contained the Luigi expansion), so I shredded the plastic wrap and cracked open the case — only to find it absent of a PIN code.
Figuring the PIN was simply missing, I decided to call up Club Nintendo to have it manually added to my account. I scoured the website and tracked down the toll free number, and after wading through the menu system, I found myself on hold to speak with a representative.
And that’s when I discovered that Nintendo is brilliant.
Many of you will recognize this as the daytime theme to Hyrule Field in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. As it turns out, it’s also the hold music on Nintendo’s hotline.
This is nothing short of genius on their part. Ocarina of Time is not only one of Nintendo’s most wildly successful titles, but it’s considered by many to be one of the greatest games of all time. There’s a very good chance that the people calling them up will be at least mildly familiar with the song, and upon realizing that it’s a tune from such a beloved title, they’ll probably be in a better mood. This is exactly what happened to me when I was on the phone last night; I can’t even tell you how long I was on hold, because I was so giddy over the fact that a Zelda song was being used as the hold music that I spent my time jamming along in my seat instead of getting impatient or annoyed.
Furthermore, my attitude once I got to talk to a representative was significantly better than it probably would’ve been otherwise. I ultimately received bad news from the gent helping me; apparently bundled games aren’t eligible for Club Nintendo points, but I was in such high spirits, the news really didn’t bother me that much. Instead I thanked the guy for his help and told him that the hold music was a very pleasant surprise. He chuckled and said that they get that a lot.
In light of what I learned last night, I’m kinda tempted to start calling up other game developers just to see if they too have done anything fun with their hold music. It really is something that more companies need to adopt; if someone’s calling customer service, they obviously have a problem, and given that some waits can be upwards of an hour or more, having good music can probably go a VERY long way toward making customers feel better about their outcomes, even if they didn’t get what they wanted.
Obligatory Legal Crap
I am in no way affiliated with Nintendo, Club Nintendo, or Legend of Zelda. I’m just a geek that found myself wanting to hook up my N64 after I got off the phone with customer service.
For a series with as much lore as Star Wars, it always amazes me when certain details are left undefined. Don’t get me wrong, I do see the appeal in leaving bits of data blank; the imagination of writers often pales in comparison to the variety and scale of the fan theories that will arise in its absence. However, Star Wars is rarely the type of franchise that leaves stones unturned. There are entire encyclopedias of information about the Star Wars universe that never makes it into the movies, games, or other official media. The ridiculous extent to which the story takes its world building is part of what rocketed George Lucas into film and sci-fi history — and why it seems so odd to me that no official name for Yoda’s species has ever been established.
Until now, that is.
As this is an equal opportunity gaming blog, today we’re going to step away from video games to have a look at one of our country’s most demanding and unforgiving competitions: Survivor. Inspired by the 1997 Swedish survival show Expedition Robinson, Survivor premiered in the United States in 2000, and quickly took the country by storm. Now, 14 years and 28 seasons later, the series continues to run strong by innovating new rules, formats, and play styles.
Each time a new season is announced, millions of diehard fans flock to auditions in hopes of earning their chance to outwit, outplay, and outlast their peers for that sweet, sweet $1,000,000 — and I am NOT one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I want to play the games and prove my strength and possibly win enough money to set my family for life, but unless they’re giving me free birth control pills for 39 days, I have no intention of dealing with my period when the nearest Aleve can only be reached by helicopter.
But even if it’s a game I never intend to play, that doesn’t mean I can’t still break it.