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Archive for July, 2010

Wallet Abuse Wednesday 7-28-10: The Summer of Suck Continues

Posted by nfinit on July 28, 2010

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Arc Rise Fantasia
Publisher:  Ignition Entertainment
Developer:  imageepoch
Platforms:  Nintendo WiiAdmittedly I don’t play them often anymore nor do I pay much attention to the scene, so I may well be talking about my ass, but it feels like at some point over the previous console generation JRPGs got really “poofy”.  What I mean by that is that at some point everyone started dressing like they were going to a goth loli convention or were being designed by the same people responsible for Rozen Maiden

For instance:
Tales of Symphonia

67919image1.jpg picture by bigredcoat
Crystal Chronicles
Final-Fantasy-Crystal-Chronicles--My-Life-as-a-Kin-5.jpg picture by bigredcoat
Luminous Arc
Luminous2_jacket1280.jpg picture by bigredcoat
Arc Rise Fantasia
untitled-51.jpg picture by bigredcoatY’know, poofy.

Which I suppose is about right, as Arc Rise Fantasia is as generic as a generic JRPG can possibly be, and most of it’s hopes pin on the fact that not very many games like it exist for the Wii and this is possibly the last JRPG release of note for the system until The Last Story, which won’t come out until sometime shortly before President Newt Gingrich’s first midterm election.

This would appear to be a risky foundation on which to build your hopes upon– after all, if you’re a JRPG fiend who happens to also only be a Wii-exclusive gamer is about as common as a Gran Tourismo addict who’s Wii-only.  Moreover, the supposed success of ARF leads to troubling questions about our own industry– if ARF can succeed on a recipe of exclusiveness and mediocrity, what does this mean for Kinect?

That said, ARF provides what promises to be Perfectly Acceptable Gaming provided you can ignore it’s “Jill-the-master-of-unlocking” level of voice acting, it’s mid-generation PS2-level graphics, the fact that it relies on the Classic Controller to play properly and oh this:

untitled-53.jpg picture by bigredcoat(on a wholly unrelated note, every time I see this game’s title I can’t help but read “Battle Fantasia”, which saddens me as I’m reminded that Battle Fantasia exists and I spent twelve American dollars on it instead of an equivalent amount of Woolite by which to inject directly into my eyeballs.)

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BlazBlue  Continuum Shift
Publisher:  Aksys Games
Developer:  Arc System Works
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
BlazBlue continues it’s weird parallel-universe Street Fighter 4 track with a $40 pack of balance tweaks and new characters.I’ve never actually played BlazBlue outside of demo units, for the simple reason that it’s difficult for me to stay good at two games of the same genre at the same time– I’m pretty sure if I tried to keep up with BlazBlue I’d just pick the character that looks nearest to Chun Li and try to play her in the same way.  However, for $40 BlazBlue makes a compelling argument simply as a digital artbook of simply stunning 2d sprites, the likes of which we used to only get through Vanillaware games or when SNK updates King of Fighters.

As far as Continuum Shift goes, as near as I can tell you’re only really getting three new characters at launch, with the fourth to be released as DLC later, presumably for free.  I’m not a fan of fighting games releasing new characters as per-character downloads, after all everyone’s going to need these same characters to play against at some point.  That data already exists on your hard drive until you unlock it and I’m not sure that’s a good direction for the gaming industry to go in.  That said, it’s something we’re going to have to get used to, as console versions of Super Street Fighter Four will probably do the same thing with characters introduced in the arcade version.

BlazBlue and it’s like trouble me though, in that as more quality 1v1 arcade fighters are released the easier it becomes to talk myself into spending money on an arcade stick, and down that path only lies madness.  Madness and a growing, inescapable pit of debt to the Sanwa Denshi Corporation.

Clash of the Titans
Publisher:  Namco Bandai
Developer:  Game Republic
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360You remember Clash of the Titans, right?

clash3.jpg picture by bigredcoat
No, not that Clash of the Titans, although it’d probably have made for a better game.  This was the one that came out in April, lost something like 400 million dollars and was soon forgotten because hey, who the fuck asked for a new Clash of the Titans?

Still don’t remember it?  Right.  Liam Neeson dressed in tin foil and shouting about squids

Clash-of-the-Titans-Zeus-Perseus-Clip-24-3-10-kc.jpg picture by bigredcoat
That’s it!  Clearly you weren’t the only people who forgot about Clash of the Titans as Game Republic has only now remembered they were supposed to ship this flaming turd of a videogame to store shelves– the last time I remember a game being released so late from it’s movie counterpart was Wanted: Weapons of Fate, a game translation so poorly received that the parent company was dissolved, it’s offices burned to the ground and the development staff stripped naked and forced into the Swedish tundra.  Oh yeah.  This one’s bad.
untitled-54.jpg picture by bigredcoatMeanwhile, what the fuck happened to Game Republic?  We’re talking about a studio founded by the guy largely responsible for Street Fighter 2 and their last output has been this godforsaken thing an a PSN port of Settlers of Catan.  It’s possible that Okamoto lost so much money because of Folkore that he now owes the Japanese mafia an endless string of shovelware ports and party games.  We’ll know if this is true or not if it turns out Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom is actually a Team ICO kart racer.


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Wallet abuse Wednesday Really Simple Edition

Posted by nfinit on July 20, 2010

This week’s Wallet Abuse has fallen victim to the game industry’s fervent belief that people would rather be outside during the hellish torment that is Summer in a post Global Warming world instead of sitting in front of a TV set and an air conditioning unit and a steady supply of Mike’s Hard Lemonade.  Which is fine, because I’d rather get back to melting my brain in front of Persona 4.

There are no retail releases this week.  None. The handful of titles I was under the assumption would reach stores this Wednesday– Trackmania 2 for the DS, Samantha Swift and the Hidden Roses of Athena and… well, that’s it– apparently stared the great void in the face and blinked, and were pushed back another week.  I’m not objecting to this, as neither game interested me in the slightest and this gives me at least another week to find wholly inappropriate Samantha Swift art.
I’m often tempted to include digital games in this writeup but Sony makes this difficult in that they don’t actually announce Playstation Network games until later in the week and there’s roughly five billion WiiWare castoffs released every Tuesday.  That just leaves XBLA and while Microsoft’s service produces a steady and reliable stream of digital games that are easy to keep track of week by week, it feels kinda silly to only list one service each week.

That said, this is an outstanding week to only have digital releases, as this week starts Microsoft’s annual “Summer of Arcade”, and while most of it is going to be godawful– I mean, Castlevania Harmony of Dissonance is the videogame equivalent of watching a loved one waste away in a vegetative state while you await the paperwork to arrive from court so you can unplug the feeding tube– it starts off this Wednesday with what might wind up being an all-time classic, Limbo.

Publisher:  Microsoft Game Studios
Developer:  Play Dead Studios
Platforms:  Xbox Live Arcade

…and unlike last year’s Summer of Arcade standout Shadow Complex, you don’t feel like you’re furthering some sort of weird right-wing agenda by buying it.

I can’t tell you too much about Limbo for the specific fact that I’ve been trying to avoid as much information as possible about the game– which yeah, I know that makes me sound kinda silly sitting here trying to convince all of you to buy it instead, but trust me on this.  It’s where 16-bit 2d sidescrolling would have wound up if we hand’t spent the past fifteen years sidetracked by collect-a-thons and space marines and beating up hookers.


HOLY SHIT VIDEOGAMES!  Since my computer would crawl into a closet and assume the fetal position if I tried to install Starcraft II on it, instead I’ll talk about BLAZE BLU CONTINUUM SHIFT’s continued struggle for relevance in a Street Fighter 4 world.  Also ARC RISE FANTASIA is coming out and apparently there’s something hilarious going on with it’s voice acting.  Also presumably SAMANTHA SWIFT AND THE HIDDEN ROSE OF ATHENA will actually be released and I”m far too invested in this game to let go now.

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Posted by nfinit on July 14, 2010

Cats and Dogs:  Revenge of Kitty Galore
Publisher:  505 Games
Developer:  Engine Games
Platforms:  Nintendo DS

Okay so I’ll admit that the industry needs shovelware because shovelware is profitable and somewhere along the way developers need to make money so that they can produce fun, wholly unprofitable stuff like, say, Split/Second.

But stuff like Cats and Dogs can’t possibly make a lot of money, as if it did you wouldn’t see it shunted off to developers like Engine Software, who’s last notable game was the Marvel Super Heroes trading card game, which was itself notable because holy shit someone made a Marvel Super Heroes trading card videogame.

Stuff like this irrationally annoys me as it’s the sort of thing a budding young gamer will find himself stuck with during the car ride to the beach and turned off games forever.  This shit should come with a warning sticker.

But back to Cats and Dogs:  Revenge of Kitty Galore– The promo material insists on calling this an “espionage game”, but when you look at the official trailer (and look at it you shall, as if I have to suffer so will you)

It’s a fairly standard godawful 2d platformer.  So I don’t know if the guy writing this realized “holy fuck this game has nothing to do with domesticated animals who are also secret agents I have to make something up quick” or if the developers took cues from Munch’s Oddysee (And we’re dealing with a development house based in the Netherlands, so who knows what the fuck is going on there) it’s hard to see the espionage connection being made there.

Also this has probably been stated a dozen times already but can we address the part where the title for this movie is a parody of a Bond Girl who’s name basically means “Lots of vagina”?  Because this has been bugging me ever since the posters started coming out.

Also also, I’ve just now realized that the previous Cats and Dogs movie was released back in July 2001.  This franchise predates 9/11!  How in the world is there a second movie?  Was there film shot back in 2002 languishing in some forgotten warehouse that was just recently discovered and edited into a new movie?  What fucking nostalgia can there possibly be for Cats and Dogs 1?  All the kids who were exposed to this movie and don’t harbor long-repressed feelings of resentment toward their parents for that fact are now in high school and all the animals involved are long since dead.

So how desperate does 505 Games and/or Engine Software have to be to pick up this license?  No kid’s going to want to watch this thing in the same Summer that’s giving them Toy Story 3 and Despicable Me, and buying them the videogame of this horrible movie is just reminding your children that you hate them for destroying your life.

Speaking of poorly thought out franchise tie-ins, I want to tell you all about this nightmare I had last night.  In it I was subjected to a world where the guys responsible for bringing Raiden IV and Way of the Samurai 3 to America lost so much money that they were desperate enough to release a videogame based on the Chuck E Cheese lisce– oh god

Chuck E Cheese’s:  Party Game
Publisher:  Reprehensible
Developer:  Detestable
Platform:  Of the Damned


(Also, we’re talking about a videogame based around a restaurant where you let kids lose to play videogames.  Try not to think about this too hard or your mind will turn to a grey sludge and drain into your sinus cavity.)

Dragon Quest 9
Developer:  Level 5/Square Enix
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform:  Nintendo DS

One of the great overlooked storylines of this console generation was how the Enix arm of Squeenix went and gave the entire HD generation a pass and dedicated the biggest videogame franchise in Japan to non-HD hardware.  And no one, not from NeoGAF fanboys to the people in charge of Microsoft or Sony seem to mind this, as they’ve all seemingly contented themselves to receiving the “real” Squeenix franchise in Final Fantasy, despite Final Fantasy 13 taking Square 30 years to produce and probably lost the company more money than if they remade Spirits Within in HD 3D using nothing but a constant stream of disposable Flip cameras.

Oh and FF13 sucked and everyone hated it.  Meanwhile DQ9 received a 40/40 from Famitsu and is seen as the best Dragon Quest since 5.  DQ9 is so good in fact, that Nintendo itself decided to port the game over for an American release and they’re generally terrible at recognizing this sort of thing.

Little league world series baseball 2010
When I first started researching this title I questioned the value in the Little League World Series license, as at some point you’re trying to sell a baseball game to kids who are quite obviously more interested in actually playing baseball.  But it turns out this is a long-running franchise which basically serves to keep alive the same sort of super deformed arcade action baseball found in Neo Geo Baseball All-Stars, which is fine.

Hilariously, although this series has been a Wii/DS stalwart, if you wanted to get in on a new game of Little League World Series Baseball on the Wii, Activision and Now Productions would like to say fuck you, because all you’re getting this year is Little League World Series Double Play, which is World Series 08 and 09 in one box for thirty bucks.  Little League fans haven’t been betrayed this badly since Danny Almonte grew a full beard during the semifinals of the 2001 World Series

NCAA Football 2011
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer:  Tiburon Games
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

A few years back the Atlantic Coast Conference decided it wanted to be known as a major player in NCAA football despite primarily being known as a basketball conference and the general apathy residents of the Carolinas/Georgia/Virginia region felt for college football.  So instead of promoting thier own in-conference football programs, the ACC braintrust went and expanded the conference into Florida and New England, the immediate result of which was that the Miami, Florida State and Boston College football programs all came off the rails and the basketball rivalries that everyone cared about were watered down and weakened as all of the sudden each program had to accommodate travelling the length of the entire Eastern Seaboard.

So that’s why I hate NCAA football–  well that and the league’s utter refusal to adopt a playoff system in the name of protecting the student’s schedules despite willingly opening up the NCCA basketball tournament to an equal number of weeks that would be necessary to complete a rudimentary football tournament.  I may have something other that utter revulsion for the entire system if Chapel Hill had anything resembling a competent football program, but it’s a basketball school and I don’t really care about anything else.  Also while watching college football I can’t shake the feeling that I’m watching a really bad version of regular NFL football and once I start thinking about that I realize that none of these kids are interested in tackling and that this is the reason no one really tackles in the NFL anymore.

Also this sport is directly responsible for making Tim Tebow a millionaire.  Again, I loathe NCAA football.

As far as NCAA Football 2011 goes,  if you’re into this sort of thing you already own it.  It’s like trying to recommend Heart Gold to a Pokemon fan.

Paws and Claws Regal Resort
Publisher:  THQ
Developer:   Independent Arts Software GmbH
Platforms:  Nintendo DS

I wonder what it’s like to work for a THQ developer and have your kickass game idea shot down by the guys at corporate and realize that some asshole in Germany got this greenlit.

I’m done talking about Regal Resort.  Instead I want to talk about this incredible thing which came to light today, where Sean Murray of Hello Games gave a partial list of reasons why publishers turned down his (apparently excellent) Playstation Network title Joe Danger.  Below I have blatantly copy and pasted this list, along with my own attempts to match some of the quotes with likely  publishers:

“Name me one popular game with motorbikes?”
Clearly Codemasters, as they’ve proven quite capable of producing unpopular motorbike games.

”Collecting giant coins feels unrealistic to me”
Sega, showing their habitual aversion for making profit.

”I can see this working as a Facebook app”

Konami, who later in that same day would decide to release Castlevania: Harmony of Despair on Xbox Live Arcade instead of Nintendo DS, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker on Playstation Portable instead of Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network, and Ninety Nine Nights 2 on 360 instead of a gasoline fire.

”We want games that are less about fun right now”

Bobby Kotick of Activision, who then proceeded immediately to gouge the eyes out of a nearby Treyarch employee’s skull.

”Can Joe be a monkey? We like Monkeys”

Going to go with Valve Software here, as they’re the world’s smartest publishing company and it’s one of the few improvements one could conceivably make.

Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Publisher:  Disney Interactive
Developer:  Disney Interactive
Platforms:  Nintendo DS

The entire Sorcerer’s Apprentice project just oozes with slimy cynicism, as it’s quite obviously a reaction to both the Harry Potter phenomenon and Disney’s own prior success with Pirates of the Caribbean.  That said, I can’t be too mad at anything that gives Monica Bellucci work, especially when this

Is the final result.

If you want to actually know anything about the game, I can’t begin to tell you as no credible information exists and the only screenshots provided is inscrutable shit like this:

Something something six wizards something Manhattan something.  That’s not my review, that’s the original design doc.


TRACKMANIA TURBO exists; gives me reason to talk about Hard Driving for the Genesis instead

SAMANTHA SWIFT: THE HIDDEN ROSES OF ATHENA is here to lobotomize the entire adventure game genre!


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Wallet Abuse Wednesday 6-07-10. Crackdown, Too.

Posted by nfinit on July 6, 2010

2 for 1 Power Pack:  Winter Games/Summer Sports 2
Publisher:  Destineer Games
Developer:  Destineer Games
Platform:  Nintendo Wii

Any time you see the number of discs prominently displayed on a game’s box– especially in 2010 and developers have over eight and a half gigs to store Wii textures onto– is a pretty good indication that what lay inside is utter crap.  2 for 1 Power Pack ups the ante by also touting that 21 “games” lay within it’s twin discs, an example of cynical false advertising not seen since the Magnavox Odyssey promised over a dozen games, all variations of Pong

magnavox-odyssey.jpg picture by bigredcoat

But at least then you got a bunch of neat overlays

I hate to see stuff like this sold in stores.  It’s bad enough to sell to  moms and dads searching for some Wii activity shit for when it’s too hot outside to let the kids wander about for fear of heat stroke.  That sort of thing is to be expected on the Wii at this point and you can hardly blame Destineer for following in the footsteps of 95% of the Wii’s third party library.  But it’s another thing to see a game blatantly advertise it’s own dubious value as being two games in one.  This is the sort of thing that tricks kids into blowing their hard-earned summer job money on and being turned against gaming forever and wind up huffing paint instead, or playing soccer.

Big Beach Sports 2
Publisher: THQ
Developer:  Jet  Black Games
Platform:  Nintendo Wii

I like it when Summer comes along and developers try  to sell kids on the idea of playing videogames about being outside playing other games.  That’s some meta shit, and I don’t know exactly how this logic is supposed to sell videogames.  In the case of Big Beach Sports 2, one of the three following scenarios seems far more plausible:

Scenario 1:  The kid has a pool.  The kid boots up Big Beach Sports 2, plays fifteen minutes, realizes “hey wait, my house has a fucking pool” and wanders outside.  In this case I suppose the business plan  works out in that the game gets sold anyway and what the fuck does Jet Black Games care what you do with it, but it’s hard to imagine why a kid who has easy access to a pool bought a Wii game based on playing games around a pool.

Scenario 2:  The kid has no pool; can beg for ride to pool:  The kid boots up Big Beach Sports 2, plays fifteen minutes, wishes they were at a pool instead, and begs parent and/or legal guardian to drive said child to a pool.  In this scenario  the parent sees this coming a mile away and refuses to buy Big Beach Sports 2 and instead patiently explains the cost and/or insurance requirements inherent in pool installation and buys the kid another game instead.  (note:  Intelligent and/or devious children will recognize this behavior and parlay feigned disappointment into another, more expensive game of their choosing)

3:  Kid has no pool; is for some reason cannot find access to a pool:  In this case the child actively resents the presence of Big Beach Blast 2.  In this case ownership of the game itself is almost always the result of a careless albeit well-meaning grandparent or the child lives with fucking evil adults.

The only market I can imagine that exists for Big Beach Blast 2 stems from children who for medical or religious reasons cannot access a pool, yet still yearn for the pool game experience.  Which apparently is a larger market than I assumed, as at some point there existed a Big Beach Sports 1.

Big Beach Sport 2’s developer, Jet Black Games, previously worked on Popeye Boxing for the Wii.  Somehow Popeye Boxing exists and I was not previously aware of this.

Crackdown 2
Publisher:  Microsoft Game Studios
Developer:  Ruffian Games
Platforms:  Xbox 360

Reviews are tricking in, and good news: if you loved the first Crackdown, you’re going to love Crackdown 2.  Bad news:  that’s entirely due to the fact that Crackdown 2 is Crackdown 1, with four-player co-op and fewer gangs.  It seems Ruffian took the Crackdown 1 map, fucked the geometry on some of the buildings, redistributed the collectables  and called it a day.  That’s provided you can really tell if anything’s been “redistributed” when there’s over a thousand things to collect in an overworld as small as Crackdown.

Crackdown 1 was an insanely playable, fun-despite-itself game that fed into two of mankind’s greatest past-times– collecting crap and blowing things up.  But that was three years ago, and the action-oriented-GTA-with-superpowers niche that Crackdown 1 occupied has since become it’s own budding genre with the release of Prototype and Infamous, and to a lesser extent Mercenaries 2 and Just Cause 2.

None of this should come as a surprise.  Ruffian Games was founded a scant eight months ago by Microsoft for the sole purpose of producing Crackdown 2, after for some insane reason scorning Realtime Worlds.  Of course Crackdown 2 is a texture mod of Crackdown 1, that’s all Ruffian had time to deliver– and the few hasty changes  that Ruffian had time to implement all sound like bad ideas, what with the main story now consisting of the same mission repeated 9 times and collectible agility orbs (the main gameplay thrust of the first game) that actively try to escape from the player.

Crackdown 2 comes off as a blatantly cynical cash grab by Microsoft Game Studios– instead of giving the game back to it’s original developers with the time and budget necessary to deliver a truly intriguing and evolved gaming experience, they fastracked a re-skin of the first game with tacked-on Xbox Live Gold support.  This is what passes for hardcore games development in a post-Kinect world.

Despicable Me
Publisher:  D3 Games
Developer: Vicious Cycle Games
Publisher:  Nintendo Wii

Despicable Me revolves around the idea of an evil genius who has at this disposal an undending supply of disposable, infinitely loyal minions, and there’s a lot of directions you can go with that.  For instance, you could do a riff on Pikmin full of gallows humor, or revisit Evil Genius.

untitled-49.jpg picture by bigredcoat
Instead, this is Tokobot.

Did you know these are the same guys who developed Matt Hazard?  It’s true!  Also this is going to be terrible.

Also, this exists:

But it’s by WayForward, the guys who gave us Shantae and A Boy and His Blob and Contra 4.  Which doesn’t mean you should necessarily  get your hopes up for Despicable Me DS, as there’s no track record of quality in the stuff WayForward produces to pay the bills.

Also Also, this exists:

Which means there are more PS2 games released so far this month than PS3.

Persona 3 Portable
Publisher:  Atlus USA
Developer:  Atlus
Platforms:  PlayStation Portable

Okay so Atlus really needs to stop re-releasing Persona 3.  I didn’t mind Persona 3 FES so much because I hadn’t foolishly dropped a hundred bucks picking up the original Persona 3 and was more than happy to pay twenty dollars for the “good version”.  But now Persona 3 Portable exists, and while it’s missing the navigable overworld of Persona 3 (which is fine, menus just make things quicker anyway) and the FES part of Persona 3 FES (no The Answer story until the inevitable Persona 3 Portable FES) it lets you play as a female character.  Which we can only assume has huge ramifications on the plot, as large chunks of P3’s story involved the main character talking his way into the panties of every available female in  Gekkoukan High.

In addition, P3P has incorporated the battle system from Persona 4, where you get full control over each party member– So basically this is Persona 4, with Mitsuru , which makes this the best possible Persona and is a strong contender for the best possible JRPG ever.

And as much as I want to buy this game– you know, insomuch that anyone “buys” PSP games– I’m sort of afraid to in that I just know I’m going to down a hundred hours into this version of Persona 3 and then Persona 3 FES Portable will be released.  And then at some point Atlus will realize they need to make some actual profit and release Persona 3 Portable 3DS.

Tournament of Legends
Publisher:  Sega
Developer:  High Voltage Games
Platforms:  Nintendo Wii

So this is a fighting game where you employ the power of waggle to control your weapons.  And while a wiimote-infused Soul Calibur sounds like a good idea on paper, one should take care to notice that this is being developed by High Voltage Games and not Sega itself– and when western devs work on a weapon based fighter you wind up with stuff like–

Mace.jpg picture by bigredcoat

That said, the idea is fundamentally good, and the developer is confident in a sequel and a Move/Kinect port at some point in the future. But when the first thing the lead designer wants to talk about is that the game is being sold cheap, you start to worry. Also these are the same guys who worked on The Conduit for the Wii.  For some of you that’ll be a selling point in that High Voltage Games has a track record of getting tried-and-true gaming genres to work using Waggle.  Personally I hated The Conduit and felt that it controlled like floaty ass.


DRAGON QUEST NINE is here to destroy HD gaming forever!
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill doesn’t care about NCAA FOOTBALL 2011 and neither do I!
CHUCK E CHEESE PARTY GAMES will allow us to play a videogame about a place where you play videogames, thus creating a rift in space-time that threatens to swallow up the known universe

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