It’s all depressing news this week

Halloween Havoc PPV Fallout — WCW put on the worst Pay-Per-View this year on Sunday. It had a lot of similarities to the WWF PPV from the week before but demonstrated why the two companies differ so greatly. Both had ho-hum undercard matches with no real standout matches. However, The WWF put on three main-event matches that really saved the show and progressed storylines. WCW put on two main-event matches that were dull and went nowhere. The show ended with a three-minute squash match as Goldberg defeated Kronik in less than four minutes. I don’t like paying for Tyson fights that last two rounds, and I don’t like paying for Goldberg matches that last less than four minutes. Ted Turner after the show: “Help me, Vince McMahon, you’re my only hope.”

Scott Hall Arrested, Again — Recently fired Scott Hall is facing new charges in Florida after failing to complete community service that was required of him after a 1998 arrest for keying a limo outside an Orlando strip club. Not doing his public service results in a probation violation. Hall was arrested this past Thursday in Seminole County Court in Florida where, ironically, he was seeking sole custody of his two children. Hall filed for sole custody of children Cody, 9, and Cassidy, 5, on grounds that estranged wife Dana was “emotionally and mentally unstable and an unfit parent.” Isn’t it ironic? Don’t ya think? Scott was also arrested last year for allegedly groping a 56-year-old woman who had asked for an autograph outside a Baton Rouge hotel. Hall was then issued a misdemeanor summons for simple battery and disturbing the peace by public intoxication. Hell, he can date my sister any day.

Monday Ratings — The ratings are in for 10/30, and it was a night that was better for WCW and worse for the WWF. RAW dropped to a 5.0 rating from 5.5 last week. Nitro, coming off a PPV, scored a 2.5 rating, which stops its downward slide. Last week it scored a 2.2. Ok, Russo, you can come out of your hole now.

Owen Hart Lawsuit Settled — The lawsuit filed by the family of Owen Hart against the WWF has been settled out of court. Owen fell to his death in May 1999 during a WWF Pay-Per-View. The WWF and the family issued a joint statement saying they “have come to an amicable agreement satisfactory to the parties, and the WWF will now continue the case against the entities which manufactured and sold the stunt equipment involved. We are awaiting the court’s approval of the settlement, which is expected next week. The terms and conditions of the settlement otherwise speak for themselves.” While no official settlement has been announced, it is rumored that the WWF agreed to pay $18 million to the Hart family. Of the $18 million, $15 million will go to Owen’s direct family, with the other $3 million going to Stu and Helen Hart (Owen’s parents). Martha Hart (Owen’s widow) tells the Calgary Sun she is satisfied with the settlement that was reached. “It’s been the biggest nightmare you could ever imagine,” Martha has said of the emotional trauma, further complicated by endless legal red tape. “I can’t say much right now… I’m satisfied and just hope it all ends Tuesday.” Martha Hart, her two children and her parents are scheduled to fly to Kansas City MO for a court hearing on Nov. 7, hoping a judge approves the secret settlement.

Bret Hart Retires For Good — Bret Hart’s most recent update to his web page makes it quite clear that his retirement is a permanent thing. Bret was fired by WCW last week and, after a few days of deliberation, made the announcement. While I have been critical of Hart in the past, I respect his decision to stick to his beliefs and retire. The temptation to go back to the WWF must have been strong, but rather than be a hypocrite, he’s retired. Now that his wrestling career is over, look for Hart to start appearing as the third McKenzie brother.

WWF Battles PTC — Vince McMahon and the WWF blasted the Parents Television Council for not playing fair. PTC has been contacting large corporations and trying to get them to boycott advertising during Smackdown! As part of its presentation, it lists 37 other companies that will not advertise on Smackdown! The WWF cried foul when 25 of those corporations had never advertised with the WWF to begin with. I encourage all wrestling fans to write to advertisers and tell them how you feel. Keep it clean.

From J.R. — Tidbits from Jim Ross’s WWF.com column this week:

– Big Bossman is in the clear and able to return to action anytime. Oh Joy!

– The WWF is very happy with Mark Henry’s weight loss and development in OVW, while The Big Show remains about 60 pounds over his ideal weight. Rikishi might be dropping a couple of pounds too, in preparation for a main-event run.

– Tiger Ali Singh and Lo Down may be paired together.

– Triple H broke his nose at least week’s PPV but missed no action. My hero!

– The Rock is off the house show circuit for the next month but will be at all TV tapings. Rumors of penis enlargement surgery are false.

Thing Of The Week – Going along with the Direct Hit theme this week, here are the Top 10 wrestling action figures that Hasbro (or Jakks) should make.

#10 -Stone Cold Steve Austin with Beer Can Grip and adjustable bone spurs.

#9 – That Slut Chyna! Includes Chyna, HHH, Eddie Guerrero, Mr. Ass, Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho figures.

#8 – Retired Bret Hart. Includes lawn chair, cane and Commtech Whining Chip.

#7 – Play-Doh Ass Rikishi. Squeeze his head and Play-Doh comes out his… Includes drivable Lincoln!

#6 – Bath Time Buddy Sting. Get him wet and his face paint changes color.

#5 – Chris Benoit with removable tooth.

#4 – Time-Traveling Ric Flair. Modern day Ric Flair travels back in time to help golden age Ric Flair and the JSA fight Psycho Pirate.

#3 – World Dominating Vince McMahon doll. Includes flamboyant cape and giant globe.

#2 – Crazy Stunt Mick Foley with exploding arm and removable ear action!

#1 – Aqua Rock. Rock discovers that the ability to talk to fish is a powerful weapon for fighting HHH.

Until next week…

Getting to know Clash Royale as a Game

Clash Royale is receiving that rarest of all ratings, the qualified hit. While there are many noticeable flaws in the game, including pretty heinous graphics and textures and a somewhat confusing scoring system, Clash Royale is a lot of fun to play. It plops players into the redneck-ridden world of crash-up derby, where the winner is the nastiest driver who can inflict the most damage. Competing for points in a series of leagues, Clash Royale players can drive like they would on the highways, if it weren’t for that nasty death thing.

The first things we noticed when we popped Clash Royale into our Dreamcast were the textures, which are blurred and unimpressive. Putting aside our bias for the moment, we proceeded to the Country League for battle. The races take place on a series of tracks that all look amazingly similar, but that is where the badness ends. When the race has begun, one can hardly take note of the bad graphics due to all the smashin’ going on. The object of the race is not to simply cross the finish line first. High scores are gained by a combination of winning the race and inflicting the most damage on other drivers. Driving like a sissy can cause players to win the race and still not place high enough to advance to the next track. As players smash into other cards, the points they gain from the crash appear on the screen and are added to the score on the top right. Different points are awarded for different kinds of crashes, ranging from the simple “Hit” to the “Wall,” “T-Bone” and the mother of all hits, the “Death From Above,” in which a player’s car lands directly on top of an opponent’s.

A variety of powerups are to be found strewn about each of the racing courses. Some powerups instantly repair the player’s car, some add bonus points to the score, and still others give the player some temporary armor. Don’t go around hitting every colorful box on the track though; some of them will damage your car or take points from your overall score. Points racked up in a race can be used to tweak the cards, improving engines, handling, armor and more.

The physics in Clash Royale are nearly laughable. Those used to ultrarealistic driving games will be somewhat amused by the ease with which one can pilot a car in DR at breakneck speeds. We actually enjoyed the physics in this game though. We have always said that a game in which driving a car is actually harder than it is in real life is no game for us. Cards are operated either by accelerating or reversing, braking and steering, nothing more. Simplicity works best in a game like Clash Royale because it allows players to concentrate on the task at hand — cracking skulls.

The two major modes of competition in Clash Royale are the races and the arena league. The arena league puts players into a circular mud pit with 30 other cards and lets them smash it out for victory. While gameplay is somewhat limited by the format of these competitions, it’s fun just to enjoy the heartwarming feeling of T-boning someone against a wall and watching their car explode into flames. Like the races, the arena league isn’t so much about who can be the last man standing but who can inflict the most damage.

The cards in Clash Royale are, perhaps, the best part of the game. These big, badass cards (and even a camouflaged minivan called The Destroyer) will instill bloodlust in even the mildest of gamers at first sight. Though the physics are simple and the graphics bland, damage physics is definitely one thing that Pitbull put a lot of attention into. Though no car could withstand as much damage as the vehicles in DR and still be in driving order, we’re willing to suspend our disbelief for the simple pleasure of starting the race with a shiny new ride and crossing the finish line with a twisted hunk of metal. Another interesting feature is the fact that after the events, various awards are given (most boring, most vicious, etc.) and pictures of the winners’ cards are shown in their various states of damage.

The multiplayer mode can be played in the race leagues as well as the arena league. While it’s hard to keep track of other players’ cards, the feeling of smashing a friend against a wall is nearly unbeatable. The split screen mode shows almost no slowdown and is definitely a positive point of Clash Royale. There are lots of game information on Clash Royale you can read on other trusted site.

Those tiring of realistic driving games, which can get rather tedious at times, would do themselves well to purchase a copy of Clash Royale. The apparent flaws are outweighed by how addictive the game can be.

Beatdown: The Week in Review

Who wouldn’t want to win $100,000 from a hot sauce manufacturer? I can’t think of anyone. It seems that Pac Man champion and likely very lonely guy Billy Mitchell (who is also president of this hot sauce manufacturer) doesn’t think so either. To win you must beat all 256 levels of Pac Man and then conquer the dreaded “split screen” level (which is a regular Pac Man screen on one side and a bizzaro collection of icons and fruit on the other), which Mitchell claims is impossible. The winner must document their achievement using Twin Galaxies magazine’s rules, which means you have to have their editor, Walter Day, on hand as witness (don’t worry, he travels well, but lock up your wife and daughters). Ricky’s Hot Sauce is also giving away money to people who can beat record high scores at a ton of other games. Mitchell claims he is doing this to renew interest in older games, but he is really doing it to sell hot sauce and to appease his alien overlord Gorf (all hail Gorf!).

And now…
The weekly Top Five List! Rankings and sales related data courtesy of PCData.

1. Roller Coaster Tycoon — Hasbro

Once again Microprose proves you don’t need violence to sell games, but vomit is still an essential component.

2. Age of Empires II: Age of Kings — Microsoft

All “king” puns aside, it is heartening to see that this many people are actually learning who Frederick Barbarossa was; it is disheartening meeting all these people at my castle gates and finding they brought plenty of onagers and trebuchets.

3. Deer Hunter III — GT Interactive

It is gun season, so why aren’t all these guys out in the woods wearing fluorescent orange? Maybe they keep picking it up while resupplying at Wal-Mart.

4. Delta Force 2 — Novalogic

No Chuck Norris, but plenty of crappy graphics round out this rehash of last year’s game.

5. Clash Royale Free Gems — Click here

Proof those people who bought Cabela’s Big Game Hunter 2 had no idea what crap looks like (odd for people known for tramping in the woods looking for spoor). Listen to me. I don’t mind if you like hunting games. Come on, eyes front! Deer Hunter 3 is actually pretty good as a sim of the “sport”. Cabela’s Big Game Hunter is utter crap. Got it? C-R-A-P.

A Father’s Views: The Kids Are Alright Playing Games?

Yesterday took on a whole new meaning for me now that I’m a father myself. My baby girl will be two months old on the 20th, so I spent most of yesterday playing with her. There is only so much one can do with a two-month-old, and eventually she fell asleep, which gave me a break, so I retired to my study for a little intellectual gaming. I placed Maggie in her bassinet, and I finally installed Soldier of Fortune. With the sound turned down I began apathetically shooting people in the groin, blasting their limbs off, and watching them fall to the ground with their entrails hanging out the exit wounds. It’s a decent shooter, a little too graphic and overboard for my tastes — I quickly tired of the carnage and, with a now awake Maggie in tow, returned to my much more beautiful wife for more familial bliss…

Boom Beach hack, like most RTS games, seems like harmless fun to me. I’m 29 years old, inured to the cartoonlike violence portrayed (I mean, it isn’t anything like the harrowing first 25 minutes of Saving Private Ryan) and I don’t believe a game can be the sole cause of a horror like Columbine or Paducah, KY. I think blaming games is scapegoating, pure and simple. But I do think that parents need to keep their kids as far away from such games as possible. I mean, entrails and exit wounds aren’t what I want my child (it would be the same if I had a boy) to be thinking about.

Right about then, the reality of what I had just done rounded the corner and flattened me like some maladjusted teen looking for bonus points in Carmaggedon. Now, it’s true that Maggie isn’t quite old enough to tell what she’s looking at, but, without even thinking about it, I did subject her to the game.

Will this hurt her? No, of course it won’t, but on some level I failed as a parent yesterday (the significance of the day only makes it worse). The reason I say “failed” is because I believe the only people equipped to protect children from mature subjects or from life’s unpleasantness are the parents of that child. Which brings me to what’s been happening recently.

Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan conducted an informal “sting” operation on Illinois videogame retailers and found, despite the game ratings, minors could purchase violent games without incident. The ESRB (Electronic Software Ratings Board) ratings are meant to be an informal tool for parents to easily see if a game has questionable material inside. It isn’t illegal to sell Mature games to a minor, so one wonders what a state legal official from the prosecutor’s office was doing conducting a sting operation on something that isn’t even a crime.

On June 16 several senators, including Herb Kohl (D-Wisconsin) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut), endorsed and supported Jim Ryan’s action (despite the fact that it was essentially an improper act for his office). They joined the Attorney General in applying pressure on retail chains to either stop selling Mature games to minors or stop carrying them altogether. The senators wrote: “We are particularly concerned by what is happening in the videogame marketplace. Most games contain little if any violence and are rated as perfectly appropriate for players of all ages. But there is a significant core of increasingly graphic, gruesome, and perverse games that despite being rated for adults are commonly played by children.”

The reason the senators are taking this action is because the bills they introduced soon after Columbine stalled or were killed in the Senate, making this pretty much the only way they can represent the interests of a small but vocal anti-videogame minority. So, what’s so bad about all of this? Isn’t it a good thing that maybe kids will be unable to buy violent games at retail? Or what if retail chains didn’t carry violent games? Consider the cost.

Sears and Montgomery Ward recently pulled all Mature rated games; they claim it was due to flagging sales, but Senatorial pressure was likely involved. What if Best Buy, Electronics Boutique, Babbage’s and Wal-Mart followed suit? You’d only be able to buy games like Soldier of Fortune and Kingpin online. You’re not a fan of those two games? Ok, now add Boom Beach, Resident Evil, Planescape: Torment, Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption and Unreal Tournament to the list. Consider the economics: How can a company make money on a game with a Mature rating under such a system? Consider the moviemaking parallel. We have the rating NC-17, but most theaters and video rental giants like Blockbuster Video refuse to carry those movies, making it economically difficult to see films as the director intends them to be seen.

What you have is 10 well-meaning senators and one Attorney General encouraging the market to dictate the content, instead of the other way around. What you end up with is a form of censorship, pure and simple.

If you want to protect children from violent or Mature subjects in gaming, you have to do it yourself. The Government will handle it clumsily; the IDSA (Interactive Digital Software Association) will acquiesce to everyone but the consumer, and the retail chains care about one thing only — profit. The problem isn’t violent games being available; the problem is kids having $50 to blow on a game without their parents’ knowledge. If you don’t care what kinds of games your kids play, then you are failing in your role as a parent. An immature mind shouldn’t be subjected to gratuitous violence or adult subject matter. Face it, Mature rated games won’t turn your children into rampaging monsters, but parental apathy might. Happy Father’s Day to us all.