Game Cover Showdown: Motorstorm

Videogame Cover Art One-on-One

The MotorStorm team at Evolution Studios just posted their cover art for the new MotorStorm Apocalypse. They’ve got two covers, one for the EU and one for the U.S. Same game, two covers.

Why do marketing teams do this? Well, for one, there are different requirements for the labeling and legalese. But also it’s well-known that certain approaches do better in different regions. Sadly, in my opinion, the demographic studies seem to indicate that, when selling an over-the-top racing game in the U.S., your goal should be to look like a generic traffic jam with a generous dollop of asphalt crumbles, flames, and (especially) motion blur. The EU version is more cohesive, dramatic, and most importantly, sharp.

Here’s the art – take a look and decide for yourself. EU on top.

game cover-eu

game cover-us

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The Stupidest Names in Videogames

by the Game Writer Guy

Honoring the Stupid

Writers and readers, let’s face it. The grimy menage a trois of videogames, science fiction, and comic books has spawned some really stupid character names.

Of course, I love all that stuff, and a lot of the writers and directors in the field have sired visionary work that will still be giving geeks chills in the distant future, long after 2001 has come and gone… oh, wait. You know what I mean.

Anyhow, without further mastication, here’s this humble game writer’s list of…

The Stupidest Names in Videogames

#6: The Wii.

We can now say it without sniggering, which is a testament to how well the actual product served its function, even if it’s going to be the Xbox 1 of the current generation. I.e., the first to leave the table and go to the bargain basement. Both Microsoft and Sony are now pimping their motion controllers. Nice ideas, guys.

But as far as pure naming goes, the Wii was different, but hardly genius.

#5. Sodom from Final Fight/Street Fighter Alpha. Enough said. You can see an image of this zombie samurai/hockey goalie to the right.

#4. Lord British.

We don’t want to ding Richard Garriott for a name he came up with when he still had peach fuzz on his face, but still. What gets us about Lord British? Is it the pomposity? The slavish Anglophilia?

Steve Wilson, one of the editors of the sci-fi/humor ‘zine Space Squid, says, “It almost seems redundant: You hear Lord, you think British automatically anyway, so why bother?”

Lord British, please pick up line 2. Czar Russian is holding on line 2.

#3: Max Payne.

This one has gotten more euphonious over time, but if you’re like me, it hit you like a ton of pun when it first crashed on your ears. Max pain?!?

Max Payne is the name of Duke Nukem’s less civil second cousin. Fortunately the game itself didn’t turn out to be quite as blunt and tone-deaf as the name. Thanks, Max. You brought us bullet time. Now go back to the markdown aisle.

#2: Darth Maul.

When George Lucas came up with this one, maybe he was thinking of where Star Wars action figures and videogames might be sold in ridiculous quantities rather than the enduring legacy of the Star Wars universe.

Darth Mall would be a fun place, though. Instead of muzak, the soothing sound of heavy mechanized breathing would lull shoppers and seniors out for a climate-controlled stroll. Customer service, however, would be a little frosty, and the penalty for shoplifting would be… wait for it… to have your hand chopped off at the wrist with a light saber, of course!

Honestly, the Star Wars universe is littered with laughable names, Jar Jar Binks and Count Dooku being two prime examples. George, we know you want the kids to know you think Dooku is a poopy-head, but let’s try not to be so freaking literal.

#1. Big Boss.

You know, Metal Gear Solid is just ripe with ridiculous names. Hideo Kojima must like the devil weed. Liquid Ocelot, Big Mama, Para-Medic, Raging Raven… these are all chuckle-headed even if they’re code names. Big Boss is notable because he’s not only the imposing sire of the games’ primary hero, but he’s also the star of MGS3, the president of Zanzibar Land, and the protege of the double-agent named The Boss.

Confused yet? You’re getting the idea.

Big Boss has three genetic sons, named Liquid Snake, Solid Snake, and… Solidus Snake? Pick your favorite quip here:

  1. Must have been tricky sorting out the mail.
  2. Solidus was always the Pope’s favorite.
  3. I guess the neighbors already had a kid named “Gaseous Snake.”

Still, I give Kojima props for including self-parody content like this MGS3 unlockable in which the director of the CIA journeys to Russia for a reconciliation and flower-meadow dance with Snake.

Dishonorable Mentions:

Alan Wake

Game designer Keith Meyer suggests Alan Wake. Wake is, of course, a writer of thrillers who suffers from blackouts and visions of characters from his new book coming to life. And he doesn’t remember writing the book. It’s almost like he’s been… uh… sleepwalking?

Keith says, “It just feels weak.”

Joe Hayabusa

The father of Ninja Gaiden’s Ryu, Joe is the leader of the Hayabusa Ninja Clan in medieval Japan, and also apparently the descendant of nomadic Japanese who traveled to ancient Israel where they appropriated his name. Also the star of the sidescroller Viewtiful Joe (kidding).

Snake Plissken

I can’t write a post about horrible names without mentioning the hero of Escape from New York. (I’d love to make him #1, but he’s really a cinematic character, more so than Darth Maul. By the way, the credited writers on the 1981 movie are John Carpenter and Nick Castle.)

Sure, it’s a comic book kind of name, but there are limits to what even DC and Marvel are willing to slap on a hero. What, was Viper Urineflesh shot down in audience testing?

As an added bonus, in the first Metal Gear Solid game I think, Solid Snake disguises himself as a Navy SEAL named Iroquois Pliskin. Clearly, like inspires like.

Feel free to submit your suggestions in the comments or via the contact form.

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Xbox LIVE Gold: Free for a Weekend

Free Xbox LIVE Gold Status for a Limited Time

Xbox LIVE users, get on the stick. Microsoft’s announced that the premium status Xbox LIVE Gold status is being extended to all Xbox LIVE users on the weekend of January 28th to the 31st, 2011. It’s kind of a “you didn’t spend enough on Christmas, so try Gold and maybe you’ll loosen up” promotion.

Thanks, Uncle Bill (Gates)!

The free Xbox LIVE Gold announcement at Microsoft’s majornelson.com

game-writer-sam&maxAnd Since You Evidently Like Free Gaming

You might also be interested in downloading Sam and Max Episode 104 from Telltale Games. These guys are reviving that classic Lucasarts manic adventure gaming feel, and this game writer says they’re doing a pretty darned good job of it.

Episode 104 is solid – I’m 90% through and have actually LOLed a few times. Yes, it happens. You know it’s good times when you’re tasked with killing a giant berserk Abe Lincoln. You also get to rig furry psychopath Max up to win the emergency presidential election that is required after you accidentally, uh, incapacitate the previous president.

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