Tag Archives: Wii

Video Mart, Grants Pass, OR

OK, since we’re on the subject of great, old-school video stores, I gotta tell ya about one more of them. Video Mart is located literally on the wrong side of the tracks in my wife’s hometown of Grants Pass, Oregon, but, don’t let that stop you, because this store seriously rocks!

Although it’s been in Grants Pass for years, I just discovered Video Mart this past July with my nephews. They were drawn in by the store’s amazing Sunday deal on video games — all games are a dollar and you get them for five days! — but what really thrilled me was the store’s vast selection of truly unique movies.

Sure, they have all the top-40 shit up front and yes, they rent Blu-Ray too, which is awesome, but, the thing that kept us coming back was their rocking selection of older titles. The pricing didn’t hurt either, every older title is available to rent for $1.00 for three nights. And if you rent more than five, you get to keep them for five glorious nights! Awesome!

Needless to say, I got myself a membership (yep, they let me get one even though I live out of state!) and we got down to some serious movie renting. All totaled, I think we rented somewhere between 10-15 movies during our visit and at least 4 video games. Best. Vacation. Ever!

And kudos to the fine folks at Video Mart for knowing their shit too. The dudes at Odd Obsession would probably still take the gold in a movie trivia head-to-head, but, trust me, there are some truly knowledgeable film and game geeks working here too.

So, next time you’re in Southern Oregon, grab yourself some Abby’s Legendary Pizza, a six pack of Weed Pale Ale, a movie from Video Mart, and call it a night…

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“Star Wars: The Force Unleashed”

Breaking my long-standing rule about getting up early, I was second in line at Target on Tuesday morning to purchase the rocking new video game from LucasArts, “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed”.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: “Yikes..he’s blogging about “Star Wars” video games now? This dude gets nerdier by the minute…” And yes, I totally do. But that’s beside the point.

I’ve been looking forward to this game since my brother and I first saw, and were blown away by, some of the concept art at the Stars Wars Celebration IV last year. Yes, we went to that too and it rocked! The thing that we loved most about the concept of this game is that it acts as a bridge between the plotlines of the actual movies. Cool, huh?

Set during the time period between “Revenge of the Sith” and “A New Hope”, the game’s central playable character is Darth Vader’s Secret Apprentice who is recruited to the dark side to hunt down and kill any and all remaining Jedi Knights in the galaxy. Wow! It’s like Lucas and company have finally come up with a game that is just as dark and twisted as the movie’s coolest character, Lord Vader himself. Awesome!

And though I was, as I said above, second in line to purchase the game on Tuesday, I am probably the last in line to figure out how to play the damn thing. For though it looks and plays as cool, if not cooler than, some of the movies, this game is f-ing hard, man!

Chapter One begins with you playing Darth Vader — which, if you ask me, is not a bad way to start — and has you charging around Chewbacca’s crazy-cool homeworld of Kashyyyk in search of a rogue Jedi Knight. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, not really.

See, killing the wookies is easy and the force unleashed powers are pretty spectacularly rendered, but once you meet up with that crafty rogue Jedi — who I’m assuming is also the Secret Apprentice you will play as for the rest of the game — things get real hard real fast!

I should say here that I am not a pro gamer by anyone’s standard, and since Christine was off baking cookies while I played, it was just me and my Wii remote flailing and cussing up a storm in the living room. I was getting better by the end, but man, getting that damn Jedi to surrender to the dark side was way harder than it looks on the box, amigos.

So, for now, I’m gonna bone up a bit on the game — who knows, I might actually read the instructions this time! — and try playing again this weekend with a group. Between the four of us eggheads — Ryan, Laura, Christine and myself — we should be able to at least advance to the next level…I hope.

In the meantime, check out the rocking trailer for the game here and if you pick up a copy of “The Force Unleashed” for yourself, please call me and tell me how to play the damn thing! Seriously, I’m dying here…

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“American Mall” song on Rock Band!

Heard the other day — from my non-gaming friend Ginger, of all people! — that the video game Rock Band is releasing some new downloadable songs to the Xbox 360 this week. And while the bands involved are both very cool — Duran Duran and Devo! — the biggest news in this household is that the other downloadable song is going to be “Get Your Rock On” from “The American Mall” soundtrack! Cool, huh?

Of course, I don’t own Rock Band (yet!) and we have a Wii, not an Xbox, so even if we did have Rock Band, we’d still have to wait a while to play the song. But how totally cool that MTV is releasing the song on Rock Band at all…yay!

I’m assuming Ginger heard about this latest development through one of her many visits to Duran Duran fansites and not from a sudden interest in hard-core gaming, but either way, thanks for the heads up, amiga! You rock!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go buy an Xbox and sneak it into the house before Christine gets home from work…

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Wii Fit Jams: Music to sweat by…

OK, let me start by saying that the one and only complaint I have about our beloved Wii Fit so far is that several of the workout “games” don’t have any musical accompaniment. Sure, the hula hoop workout has some music and the yoga has some dreamy sounds floating by in the background, but the jogging is totally devoid of music.

Now, the visuals on the island jog are gorgeous and the sound effects are awesome, but I like me some music when I jog…so rather than dash off an angry letter to Nintendo, I made an iPod playlist especially for my Wii Fit workout!

These aren’t the best songs on my iPod — and lord knows they aren’t the worst! — but if they get me moving and get the old blood pumping, then, good, bad or totally cheesy, they made the list. That said, I’m warning you ahead of time that this is definitely not the kind of music I recommend blasting from your car stereo as you cruise Hollywood Blvd. with your homies.

But if you’re working out in the comfort of your own home in the middle of the night, then have at it, amigos. This Wii Fit playlist is for you!

Before I list the songs, I should also add that this list is by no means permanent. I dumped about 5.5 hours worth of Wii Fit worthy music into the playlist and really only use the first 42-45 minutes worth of tunes, so, needless to say, I change the list up a lot. But as of right now…this is my list…

Since I usually start with about ten minutes of hard core hula hoop-ing — don’t laugh, that shit is harder than it looks and man, does it make you sweat! — I begin my workout with Van McCoy’s roller rink classic “The Hustle” (3:47). I know what you’re thinking, but trust me, disco and hula hoops are kind of like peas and carrots…they just work.

Next up is another glittery, disco-era jam, Sister Sledge’s “He’s the Greatest Dancer” (3:25). I know it’s lame, but when I’m mid hula, it’s fun to imagine that the Sister’s Sledge are singing about me. That’s right, for a little over three minutes…I am the greatest dancer! Or, you know, hula hooper…

From here, I transition to classic, mid-60’s Elvis Presley for 2.07 minutes of “Bossa Nova Baby”. Dying for the hula hooping to end, I finish up the session with 2.38 minutes of Neil Diamond’s jangly, and, dare I say, “cracklin” good, “Cracklin’ Rosie”.

This next song was tricky as I needed something to bridge the hula hoop workout and the jogging program…music to put your jogging shoes on to. So, what better transitional tune than The Doors’ “Break on Through” (2:27). It doesn’t really take me that long to tie my shoes, but since pressing all the buttons and stuff does burn up some time, I figured, why not have some music to do it by? Right?

Now, the first song in the jogging program is the one I have changed the most. It’s hard to get the right balance of a great song and one that offers a nice, slow-build to the workout. So, as of right now, that song is Barbra Streisand’s “This is One of Those Moments” (4:04) from “Yentl”. I know it’s a pretty gay-ass jam, but hey, it does build up momentum and that’s all I was looking for.

Following “Yentl” is Mama Cass’ rocking “Make Your Own Kind of Music”. I have had that song on CD for years but only started really enjoying it since it was used on “Lost” a couple seasons back. If you haven’t heard this song yet, you’re missing out, amigos. Mama Cass rocked as a solo artist! Too bad they didn’t have Wii Fit in her day…know what I’m saying?

Next up, I am loathe to admit, is another embarrassing song: Alanis Morissette’s “Front Row” (4:13). Yes, it’s true…deep down I am a sulky twenty-year-old Liberal Arts chick with a Lilith Fair fixation. But seriously, despite the cold, disapproving glares from my wife and friends over the years, I have always dug Alanis. So…suck it, haters.

By this time, my heart is pumping and it’s time to turn up the volume, and since nobody does that better than Courtney Love, the next song on the playlist is Hole’s “Violet” (3:23). This song is like smelling salts to me…seriously, I could be out cold, hear those opening chords and be totally revived in seconds. It’s that good! And speaking of good, next up is Ben Fold’s equally-jamming “Zac and Sara” (3:10). What can I say? Nothing keeps fatty jogging more than some sweet, smoking, Southern piano! Go, Ben!

The next spot on the playlist is another one that has been changed several times. I think I started out with some Nick Cave and Avril Lavigne but have somehow ended up with Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell’s one solo hit “Look at Me” (2:44). I know, cheese-tastic. But I’ll tell you what, that zippy, UK trash-pop ditty keeps me moving, baby. So, rock on, “girl power”!

By this point, my little Mii has already made several laps around the Wii Fit island and is desperately in need of some inspiration to carry him to the 30 minute mark. This time, that inspiration comes from The Killers’ lush, almost insanely beautiful “Read My Mind” (4:06). Wow…this song shimmers almost as much as that virtual surf in the distance of Wii Fit island…amazing!

With the Wii FIt finish line in site, I segue back to The King for Elvis Presley’s kick-ass cover of Chuck Berry’s jaunty “Memphis Tennessee” (2:10). Wow…nothing like an ice cool song to counteract the sweat rolling down my shiny forehead! Yee-haw!

And then, as the clock ticks down the minutes in the upper right hand side of the screen, Neil Diamond returns to play me on home with “America” (4:17). When I have timed everything just right, I actually sweep across the finish line just as Neil belts out that “My country tis of thee…TODAY!” action. Man…what better way to end a workout? Thanks, Neil.

And just like that, it’s time to tally up my 42 Wii Fit fitness points — you get one point for every minute you work out — and hit the showers. Like I said, my playlist is a strange and ever-evolving beast right now, so if you have any cool tunes to add or, more likely, subtract, please, feel free to leave me a comment…

In the meantime, que viva los Wii Fit jams!

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Wii Fit Weekend in Burbank!

Hooray, the agonizing wait is over! After pre-ordering our Wii Fit more than a month ago on Amazon, Christine and I were overjoyed today to finally receive it in the mail. I swear to God, I was so excited to get it that I practically jumped the UPS guy in the driveway when he pulled up.

Man, I thought we loved our Wii console before…but now, with the addition of a Wii Fit balance board (pictured above) and dozens of fun workout options in four key categories — yoga, aerobics, strength training, and balance games — we are never gonna leave the house again!

Included in every Wii Fit box is the shiny, super cool white balance board and the game. Simply plug it in and play. And while the exercise options utilizing the board all sound very fun, the one I’m most looking forward to using to lose weight is the jogging “game”.

Using only the Wii remote, the jogging program takes your Mii avatars — cool little Wii people you create from scads of templates at Wii Central — on a jog through a candy-hued Wii park, city, or other background of your chosing. All you do is tuck the Wii remote into your pocket and set off!

Another rocking feature of the Wii Fit is the fact that it tracks your daily progress. Using easy to read and understand charts and graphs, the Wii Fit allows you to keep tabs on your body mass index (BMI) and weight loss over time and even allows you to compare charts with other members of your household. Whoo-hoo! Game on, Farmer’s Daughter Bean!

Speaking of, Christine is much more excited about the yoga program, which uses the Wii Fit balance board to make sure you are posing correctly and staying perfectly balanced while you work out. This looks pretty cool too, but from what I’ve seen the graphics here aren’t nearly as eye-catching as the jogging program.

And since I think the idea of “playing” a jogging game will make the fact that I’m exercising much more bearable, I’m gonna need all the digital bells and whistles I can get! Know what I’m saying?

Anyway, will report further once we’ve had a chance to use this thing some more, but in the meantime, here’s to Nintendo for making exercise fun for the video game geeks of the world! Rock on, Wii Fit!

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Wii will rock you!

Four words: best birthday present ever! OK, technically, it’s the best birthday present I totally obsessed over, helped find (after a massive, three-state search!) and wait in line for, but hey, it still counts. So, thank you, Christine, you seriously rock!

Wii grrrls gone wild! (March 2008)

We have been desperately craving a Nintendo Wii gaming system since our nephews brought theirs down from Oregon over Christmas. And as luck would have it, we found one a couple of weeks back at the dirty old Target in NoHo! Actually, that Target isn’t really that dirty anymore, but we still call it that, because, compared to the shiny new Target uptown, it’s a bit…rustic.

Anyway, cleanliness aside, dirty Target is where we found our beloved Wii. And while we had to line up with the other Wii nerds at 7:30AM (on a Sunday!) it was totally worth it as we finally scored a system of our very own.

“Sitting Tim” gets all singer-songwriter! (March 2008)

But better still was the first game we bought…the epically cool, “Guitar Hero III”. I’m not sure who was happier about this purchase, us, or my brother Ryan and sister-in-law Laura, who have been at our place literally EVERY weekend since we bought the game. They actually came over and played one night while Christine and I were at a party…can you say, addicted?? Wow…

But once you’ve played this crazy-amazing game, you’ll be hooked too. It’s kind of insanely cool and even though I totally suck at it, the graphics and songs are so awesome that watching other people play the game is almost as fun as playing it yourself. Hands down, one of the best video games ever!

Me and Amy “rapping awful” (March 2008)

And then, just when I though “Guitar Hero” couldn’t get any cooler, I received a second Gibson guitar Wii controller for my birthday from Ryan, Laura, and our bad-ass friends James and Tim. Yep, we got two guitars now, baby! And just like that, the game doubled its fun factor.

Seriously, now two players can jam at the same time, one on bass and one on guitar, and since the bass playing seems mildly easier…I can almost keep up with the other guitar Gods in the living room! Hooray!

James & Christine thoughtfully strumming… (March 2008)

So, after celebrating a combo birthday party on Sunday night for James (whose birthday was on March 4th) and me (whose birthday is, no fooling…today) we rocked out with our first official Wii party! Unfortunately, space being what it is in our place (players needs room to jam, yo!) we limited the party to James, Tim, Ryan, Laura and our friend Amy. And even that was pushing it as Christine apparently needs a zone of silence around her when she plays.

But that’s cool, I mean, everybody’s got their own style…Laura rocks the whammy bar like nobody’s business, James has some serious tongue action going when he plays and Tim is probably the boldest of all…going all singer-songwriter by actually sitting while he plays! Amazing!

Laura Romero, Guitar Hero! (March 2008)

Anyway, as you can see from the pics, we had a blast. And lest anyone out there feel left out, fear not, for I predict many more “Guitar Hero III” Wii parties in our future…so, get ready to rock!

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