Currents Top Ten I Some Xbox 360 Units Defective I Victory in the Land of Lincoln I Korean Soldier/Gamer Receives Death Sentence I Senators Announce Federal Gaming Legislation I Movie Stars Lobby Nintendo for U.N. Game I Stock Ticker
Issue #31 Between Billys December 3, 2005

Front Page

Well, I just spent a good twenty minutes typing out a huge ranting intro piece about this controversial play being shown at my school, but I just deleted it and started all over. The rant had nothing to do with Currents, RPGamer, or even video games. So instead, I'll be posting it in my LiveJournal shortly after I get this column published. It'll be an entry called "Corpus Christi" so have yourself a look if you're interested.

In lieu of an angry rant, I'm going talk about how awesome Mario Kart DS is. I got it last week while I was on vacation in Virginia, and have barely been able to stop playing it. If anyone thinks they have what it takes to take me down, here's my friend code: 365132-162546, my nickname is Carlisle. Send me yours and we'll have ourselves some duels. We'll laugh, we'll cry, it'll be a grand old time. A bit of a short intro, but I think that's all I have to say.

Now that I've managed to strangle Billy and get my column back from his cold, dead fingers, things will be Mwahahahahaha! back to normal again for this issue. Unfortunately, I'm not going to be around for the column next week due to being bogged down from finals week. I should be back to my normal, action-packed self by the week after next, though. So you may get Billy back again next week assuming he can be resuscitated, or someone else if he can't make it. Either way, I named this issue with the assumption that he'll be able to do me a favor that I haven't even asked from him yet. Now, without further ado, here's a kick-ass stepping stone between Billys.

 Currents Top Ten

The first thing I want to point out about this week's Top Ten is that there are, in fact, no Xbox games on the list. All of the games you see below that are accompanied by an Xbox logo are, in fact, Xbox 360 games. RPGamer is just a tad behind since there aren't really any 360 RPGs coming out any time soon. That being said, enjoy the list.

All of the games from last week's list, except for WWE Smackdown, Need for Speed, and Bulletproof, have been dropped off this week and replaced mostly by Xbox 360 titles, which have cleary ganged up on the Top Ten in the shower and made it their girlfriend. Seriously, way to come back from the recent trend of Sony-dominated lists, Microsoft. It only took jumping into the next generation, but you did it. Among the games removed from the list were the two RPGs from last week, Dragon Quest VIII, and Magna Carta. Let's have a moment of silence for those two games before we move on to the meat and potatoes of the column. Thanks.

Position Title Publisher Platform
1 Call of Duty 2 Activision
2 Perfect Dark Zero: Limited Edition Microsoft Game Studios
3 50 Cent: Bulletproof VU Games
4 WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2006 THQ
5 Madden NFL 06 EA Sports
6 Perfect Dark Zero Microsoft Game Studios
7 Project Gotham Racing 3 Microsoft Game Studios
8 Quake 4 Activision
9 Need for Speed Most Wanted Electronic Arts
10 Need for Speed Most Wanted Electronic Arts

Source: GameSpot

 Some Xbox 360 Units Defective

Xbox 360

It looks like Microsoft is just as prone to defective launch units as Sony. Within hours of the official Xbox 360 launch, Microsoft began receiving reports from unhappy consumers who claimed that their brand new consoles weren't working right. Specifically, complaints claimed that the some systems had crashed during both regular and online gameplay via the Xbox Live service. Most users got everything from screens simply going black and refusing to return to the game to various error messages.

In a telephone interview, Microsoft spokeswoman Molly O'Donnell told Reuters that these complaints represented a "very, very small fraction" of total systems sold. She said that the number of complaints they received was not unexpected. "With any launch of this magnitude, you're bound to see something happening," she continued.

O'Donnel also added that the best way to address any problems you may face with your Xbox is to call 1-800-4MY-XBOX. If the tech support on the other end of the line can't fix your problem, Microsoft will replace the product for free (unlike Sony... at first, anyway).

Source: CNN

 Victory in the Land of Lincoln

You may remember a story from two weeks ago mentioning that a federal judge was taking into consideration a plea from representatives of the video game industry to strike down the recently-signed Safe Game Illinois Act. Well, Friday was a day of victory for the game industry when U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kennelly ruled against the bill.

State government officials "have come nowhere near" proving that this act complies with the rights granted to US citizens by the constitution, said U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kennelly. The supporters of the bill, including Governor Rod Blagojevich who began the campaign for the bill, argued that violent and sexually explicit video games were harming minors. The bill's opponents countered that rhetoric, stating that the bill was a violation of the first amendment, and they made sure to point out that similar laws in other states had been ruled unconstitutional in the past.

"It's unfortunate that the state of Illinois spent taxpayer money defending this statute. This is precisely what we told them would happen," David Vite, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said in response to the ruling. The office of Governor Blagojevich (no, his name does not get easier to spell with time) has not released any statements since the judge's decision was handed down.

In his ruling, Judge Kennelly wrote that "In this country, the state lacks the authority to ban protected speech on the ground that it affects the listener's or observer's thoughts and attitudes."

Source: CNN

 Korean Soldier/Gamer Receives Death Sentence

Sometimes, the most entertaining things you can do while playing a game with your buddies involve friendly fire, accidental or not. Unfortunately, friendly fire is much, much, much less funny in real life. This was the lesson learned by South Korean soldier Kim Dong-min who thought it would be a neat idea to throw a live grenade into a barracks, which housed several of Kim's sleeping colleagues. As if that wasn't bad enough, the 22-year-old soldier then proceeded to open fire into the barracks at random. Kim had made complaints earlier about bullying by some of his fellow soldiers.

Reports about the incident indicated that Kim was obsessed with computer war games. His obsessions had blurred the thick line between fantasy and reality. Still, the court declared the the soldier would serve a death sentence.

The 3rd Army's disctrict court ruled: "We can't help separating the accused from society permanently, though we take into account his lack of a previous criminal record, his youth and unease at being in a closed place.

"The victims, bereaved families and surviving soldiers have suffered deep despair and unforgettable damage," said the court. The defense plans to appeal the decision to a higher court.

Apparently, Kim's attack on his fellow soldiers was so violent that many witnesses thought that they were being invaded by North Korea. The barracks that Kim attacked was stationed near South Korea's northern border.

Source: BBC

 Senators Announce Federal Gaming Legislation

Senators Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman have announced a new sort of mature games bill. Called The Family Entertainment Protection Act, the legislation is aimed at protecting minors from exposure to violent or sexually explicit video games. The two senators will introduce the bill to the United States Congress when it reconvenes in two weeks.

"I have developed legislation that will empower parents by making sure their kids can't walk into a store and buy a video game that has graphic, violent and pornographic content," said Clinton. She also says that she recognizes that video games can be fun when they are played by their respective, appropriate age groups. She does not support limitations of sales to adults.

A press release issued by Clinton's office mentioned that she decided to become involved in gaming legislation after the Grand Theft Auto Hot Coffee topic.

So pixellated cartoon boobies need to be blocked from children by the federal government, but live action boobies don't? And am I the only person who would much rather have his kid see a cartoon booby than have him see heads getting blown off? I mean seriously, if there's any truth to people's claims about kids replicating what they see on TV, what would be more harmful to society? Yet, it was the nudity and not the violence that got these senators in such an uproar. Someone's got their priorities mixed up.

Entertainment Software Association president Doug Lowenstein wasted no time in replying to the announced legislation. He said in a statement: "We share Senator Clinton's commitment to effective enforcement of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings by retailers, and we appreciate the fact that she has sought to draft a more thoughtful proposal in this area than most others. However, we strongly oppose the bill. We believe the combination of trustworthy ESRB ratings, parental education, voluntary retail enforcement of ESRB ratings, and, most recently, the major announcement that all next generation video game consoles will include parental control systems, makes Senator Clinton's bill unnecessary... "

Source: Game Politics

 Movie Stars Lobby Nintendo for U.N. Game


Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt recently met with Nintendo executives to look into the making of a new game to promote the United Nations. Apparently, Jolie has proposed that proceeds from the game be used to help feed impoverished countries.

As of now, the U.N. already offers a game called Food Force which is a free download and runs on PCs. The game is used to teach people about peaceful ways to fight world hunger.

I can't tell if this is a terrible idea or a mediocre idea, but at least Ms. Jolie's heart is in the right place. Although, if anyone can make it work it's Nintendo. It'll be interesting to see what, if anything, comes of this in the future.

Source: Game Politics

 Stock Ticker

In the essence of time, which I'm beginning to run out of pretty quickly here, I'm just going to give you the highlights and lowlights of the this week's stock ticker. I promise a more thought-out analysis when I return, and I'm sorry for short-changing you this week. All will be better after finals.

The biggest increase of the day goes to Midway, for $0.40. The biggest decrease of the day goes to Ubi Soft, for $1.18.

Parentheses denote negative numbers. Prices as of market closing 12.02.2005

Symbol Company Market Standing Change
SNE Sony NYSE 37.61 0.11
MSFT Microsoft Nasdaq 28.01 0.12
NTDOY Nintendo PNK 13.60 (0.20)
ERTS Electronic Arts Nasdaq 56.83 (0.57)
SQNXF Square Enix PNK 27.83 0.27
KNM Konami NYSE 19.72 0.05
ATVI Activision Nasdaq 13.37 0.15
MWY Midway NYSE 22.35 0.40
SGAMY Sega PNK 8.33 0.18
UBSFF Ubi Soft PNK 44.07 (1.18)

Source: CNN Money

 Back Page

That'll be it for now. Don't forget to send me your friend codes if you want some hot Mario Kart action. Needless to say, my attention has been diverted from Castlevania, but I'm still trudging along through Julius Mode. Either way, my DS is the system that seems to be getting the most attention from me. I love you Nintendo. And I love all of you too, so don't get jealous. It's a wild world of freaky gaming love whenever I'm around.

Elliot "You see that dust trail way in front of you? Yeah, that's me owning you in Mario Kart" Guisinger

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