Archive for July, 2012

Remember to come out tomorrow night to the very first New York Videogame Critics Circle Community Event. It’s at Barcade Brooklyn, 388 Union Avenue, on Tuesday, July 31, starting at 7 p.m.

I’ll even bring one of the rare first editions of “All Your Base Are Belong to Us,”  my narrative history of videogames, to give away.

We’ll bid Ryan Kuo, Kill Screen’s insightful editor, a heartfelt adieu as he moves to the wilds of Massachusetts to tussle with MIT.

You might hear Polygon’s Samit Sakar wax on about sports games and Unwinnable’s Chuck Moran talk about punk rock and Lady Gaga. Maybe Kotaku’s Jason Schreier will explain his love for “Call Me Maybe.”

When we’re not talking games – of course.

See you there!

–Harold Goldberg


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I have to admit I was somewhat suspicious about attending an event for Majesco Entertainment’s “NBA Baller Beats.” While Majesco has been a game publisher since 1986, they didn’t know how to market Tim Schafer’s brilliant adventure game, “Psychonauts.” And they didn’t sink enough money into “Advent Rising” or “BloodRayne” for the developers to finish them properly. A few of their kids’ games worked for me, like “A Boy and His Blob” and “Night at the Museum.” And “Jaws Unleashed” surprised by being a cut above. Yet their fitness games have left me unmoved.

This game indeed has money behind it. Otherwise, Majesco couldn’t afford the talents of NBA legend and TV analyst Kenny Smith to work as the game’s spokesperson or WNBA’s eloquent Essence Carson, a member of the New York Liberty (and recording artist) who demoed the music-based rhythm game last Tuesday in New York City. “When they showed it to me, I got the idea immediately,” said Carson. “It definitely raises a sweat, just like Dance, Dance Revolution. I loved that game.”

But the motion sensing game for Kinect has real challenges before it. First, it’s not a full basketball game. Rather, it’s a dribbling and ball handling game. There’s no shooting baskets. And then, there’s the marketing issue: the game comes with a full-sized basketball, making it difficult to places on retail shelves next to other games in traditional packages. Content-wise, the game comes with 30 songs, not nearly as many tunes as “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” included in their heydays.

And imagine the sound of that constant, rhythmic basketball dribbling if you’re living in the apartment below. Plus, most city apartment living rooms won’t have the open room for the kind of behind the back dribbling that you occasionally need to pull off for “NBA Baller Beats.”

Despite these hurdles, at the very core of “NBA Baller Beats” is a good idea, certainly for those folks living in the suburbs who have basement rec rooms or large garages. Supposedly, any kind of ball that’s not black can be used with the game, so it might work with a Nerf ball or a dodge ball. Finally, I liked the initiative of Curtis R. Smith, the man who came up with the idea. “I went to everyone with the concept,” said Smith. After what Smith estimates are 300 emails and that many rejections, Majesco bit. Just the other day, though, the Canadian studio that developed “NBA Baller Beats” shut down. But Smith remains undaunted and admirably enthusiastic. For that reason alone, I’m kind of rooting for “NBA Baller Beats” to succeed.

-Harold Goldberg

Photos of Kenny Smith and Essence Carson by Tara Polen.

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July 31 at 7 p.m., a night that will live in infamy.

Or famy, even.

We hope you will join your favorite videogame writers for all things games at Brooklyn’s Barcade next Tuesday night.

The Barcade is located at 388 Union Avenue.

We’ll be there for our first community event for at least three hours. And we’ll probably give a cool thing or two away as well.

You’ll meet scribes from Unwinnable, MTV, Polygon, G4TV, Joystiq, NPR, Kotaku, Kill Screen and more.  It looks like some game developers will show up as well.

Here’s our Facebook page for a bit more info. Do let us know if you’re coming.

Oh, and if you want to be our intern and you have the chops, find me and talk to me about it.

See you there!

–Harold Goldberg

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