Wednesday, June 11, 2008


* Plug & play on TV
* 20 built-in 16-bit SEGA licensed games
* Supports RedKid cartridge
* Plays original Mega Drive & Genesis games
* TV out connection
* TV format: NTSC
* Official product, containing games authorized by SEGA

The Sega Mega Drive Twin Pad Player from Sega's official China distributor AtGames brings back all the memories of Sega's 16bit era. This official product does not only feature twenty hot built-in Mega Drive games, but also plays all original Sega Mega Drive (Japanese) and Sega Genesis (US) games. Further included in the package are two six-button joypads, AV cable and instructions sheet.

List of built-in games:

Alien Storm
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Altered Beast
Arrow Flash
Columns III
Crack Down
Decap Attack
Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine
Ecco Jr.
ESWAT: City Under Siege
Gain Ground
Golden Axe
Jewel Master
Kid Chameleon
Shadow Dancer
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
Sonic and Knuckles
Sonic Spinball

Stay tuned to Video Armageddon for further developments.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Double J Presents: A Study in Hyperbole: GTA IV Reviews


The Grand Theft Auto franchise has been around for years. It's over a decade by this point. I have been somewhat of a franchise fan since it's start. GTA on the PC/PSX were fun little games for their time, as were it's expansion of sequel. Outlandish, funny, and juvenile, the games let you live out your wild fantasies as a thug and criminal. Stealing cars, killing innocents, cops, and gangsters, the game were far from the usual item of the day on the menu. It's biggest downfall the reason the franchise wasn't a success was because of it's fairly sad graphics and it's overall gameplay was pretty much a lame duck. The series seemed to fall under the category of ahead of it's time, destined to be nothing more than a cult classic from an era dominated by fairly massive adventures like MGS, the Final Fantasy titles, Legend of Zelda and others. Something important happened to the franchise though. The PS2 is the best thing to happen to the gaming world in years. It's massive install base and "ahead of it's time" hardware, the PS2 opened many closed doors to developers. GTA was able to go 3D finally. Gone was the craptacular top down view....well, not gone, it was still there, but not the default view. Jesus Christ....I'm really getting off track here. This was supposed to be a look into the reviews for GTA IV, not a history of sandbox open world gaming. I'm sorry. This is embarrassing. Alright. GTA IV was released. That's the point. Well...not the point per se. The real point is about the REVIEWS of GTA IV. There is no denying it. GTA IV is awesome. And an awesome game should get great reviews. But the real question is: Does it deserve THE BEST reviews, or is it a hype machine that so powerful backed up by a brilliant marketing strategy of nothingness? From here on out, I'm going to include some samples of reviews and comment on them. A lot of publications and sites try to hide by saying things like "a perfect score doesn't mean it's perfect" which would be acceptable if this were a 5 point scale, but on a 10 point scale with fractals and a letter grading scale, that's where we get into issues. Fuck you EGM. An A+ means perfect. You can't get a 100% percent with a wrong answer or two, and GTA has it's wrong answers. You even talk about them in your god damn reviews. This isn't so much an attack on the reviewers themselves, as it is at the concept of reviews in general and the apparent need to quantify something with a number or grade, thusly negating having to read anything at all. So, without any further ado, here is where things start getting dirty...

Okay I lied. Not yet. I'm not going after GTAIV. Really I'm going after the constant need we have to quantify everything. Whether it be from movies, music, games and even food, we have to grade it. It's an asinine system we've been accustomed to. People spend hours writing reviews and you just skip right to the end and make your decision from there. A game could get a fairly low score, but could still get talked about glowingly but still share some issues. But you don't know that because it got a six and that's all you read. And there is something else. If you can ramble on about a game for 6 pages and then be able to sum up the ENTIRE review in a single paragraph in a "closing comments" section, you review is useless and void. It's bullshit.

A "10" is not a score we give out very often. In fact, the last time we gave a 10 to a console game was Soul Calibur in 1999. A 10 doesn't mean a game is perfect -- it means a game is pushing boundaries, expanding a genre, and doing many things to a level so far above and beyond its competitors that they overshadows any flaws. Certainly, GTA IV has some issues, the most noticeable being the occasional flaw in the cover system, but there are many more pieces of GTA IV that are better than anything I've seen from a game in the past decade. We don't give 10s often -- just to games that merit the score.

That there is the IGN review in the closing comments and shows the dangerous trend of "a 10 is not perfect." You have a 10 point scale. Much like a googol in numbers or absolute zero in temperature, they are there as placeholders, theoretical in nature. You can't personally reach them. They can never theoretically be and will never give a game a zero. As long as the game works. You put it in, turn it on, it boots up and the controller controls the game not matter how awful it may be, the game is above zero. Much like 10. A ten, on a scale designed to break down in to fractals that includes .1-.9's, like that would have to be utter perfection. You can start with a 10, but the second you have a complaint about something you have to tick down at least a .1 on the scale. This is what I mean by hyperbole. It's a fantastic game, there is NO doubt there. But it's far from "highest on a rating scale" perfect. Also, if you read, you'll notice a common trend of talking about the story, but seeming devoid of any in depth discussion of the actual missions. Likely because they are the same as they've ever been which can range from entertaining to dreadful. Sure, they cover the exciting ones in their review like the bank robbery, but as to expected in a TEN! review, they fail to point out that the missions for the most part haven't evolved since GTAIII. Take this guy here, race this guy, drive to this point and kill those guys, get that car and put it in that garage. Doesn't mean it can't be fun, but it's pretty much universally accepted that races are bullshit.

I do wish that Rockstar had added checkpoints in the multistage missions to cut down on the grunt work of frustrating retries. GTA4 also suffers from those little things that have always plagued the series, such as sudden pop-in of objects in the environment and the occasional repetition of car models in your immediate vicinity.
1UP(EGM) gave the game an A+. I'm sorry. While in area's an A+ generally refers to a simple phenomenal presentation, it's the best you could can receive. While in actuality it may not MEAN 100% it is more than implied that the work is flawless. There is a more than likely chance you've received a paper before with a letter grade on it, and unless that paper was 100% correct in every facet, you didn't get an A+. An A is nothing to sneeze about. It may sound like I'm being less critical of the letter grade system, when in actuality I'm most critical of the system. It's a pointless, uninformative system that offers little in terms of actual information you can use. It is the most common system it seems to speak in hyperbole for since it's such a small scale (while, in theory it's the largest since it's all based on a 100% number scale), you can over exaggerate to get your point across. If you don't think the game is great, you can give it an F and people will understand and keep away, think it's phenomenal, you give it an A+, even if the title has it's shares of faults and errors. You can read pretty much any review from 1Up, EGM, Game Revolution, anything and realize that in some cases their reviews sound every bit as glowing as a review for GTA IV and only get a B+ or a regular A. There is no rhyme or reason to the actual break down of the scale at times it seems. It's just a fact that a game that's hyped and delivers is more likely to receive a much higher rating than a phenomenal game that isn't on the worlds "must own" list.

I'm not trying to beat down the reviewing community, they're doing their jobs and in several cases they are doing fantastic jobs at it. We have this unhealthy dependence on needing to have everything wrapped up for is in a nice, tight, clean package so that the rest of the actual useful and insightful data is thrown right out the window and we see that graphics get an 8 and sound design gets a 10 and the overall score (which isn't an average by the way, whatever the fuck that's about) is a 7. It's coming up on 2 months since GTA IV, one of the two MOST hyped games for 2008, the game was receiving perfect scores across the board and the honeymoon is over. Reading through any message or listening to any podcast will inform you of these facts. The Perfect 10 GTA isn't so perfect after all, the "next-gen" new game smell has worn off and we're left with a game that is identical, if not less in some cases, as any other non-10 GTA title. This is where the reviewing system has failed us miserably.