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The Rumble Pack Posts

Return to Brahms: A Year Away from Animal Crossing

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The type of snow falling now is the kind you see rarely in life but often in movies – large round flakes falling slowly in uniform patterns and sticking perfectly to the grass and pavement alike, perfect for leaving footprints in or making snowmen with. At this time of the night the shops are all closed, darkened storefronts displaying careful arrangements of aesthetically pleasing items. It’s a few days before Christmas, and the night is given a dream-like glow by the reflections of multicolored lights hanging from the roofs of houses in the snow. The only sound comes from the snow crunching under my feet and the occasional acoustic guitar strum in the background…there isn’t much to do at this hour, but there’s a certain romance I feel wandering this sleeping town on a winter night.

Back in the real world, it’s hopelessly green outside for December 24th. Some stubborn, dirty snow piles cling to the corners of parking lots, and it’s entirely too windy and cold to lure me outside for any reason. It certainly doesn’t feel much like the type of atmosphere promised by all of the seasonal films they’re showing on TV this week.

Perhaps this is what prompted my return to the digital town of Brahms, a place I used to come to at least once a day for a good amount of time roughly a year ago. Returning to it now after so long yields a strange feeling of familiarity and foreignness – I’ve been here before, but it’s not quite the same as it used to be. Everything is where it used to be, but the occupants of the houses are all different. My own home is filled with cockroaches and weeds and clover patches punctuate the snow-covered ground over every square inch of the town… doesn’t anyone know how to pull weeds in this place? (Clearly this is not the same pastiche of cleanly modern living seen in Nintendogs: your home and surroundings grow dirty and unkempt with neglect in this universe.) Yet there’s something about the music that takes me back…

Episode 25: Part 1

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The five players are back to talk about what they’ve been playing in this, the first part of a de facto two part episode. This half of the episode contains the tray section, including a penultimate discussion of the merits of Assassin’s Creed. Listen in and get ready for the Christmas Special Part 2.

Christmas Special Delay

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Due to technical difficulties only half of Episode 25 will appear, and should be up by the end of Thursday. The second half should hit around Christmas, like all good things should.

Don’t fret, half of Episode 25 is about an hour. As it turns out, recording for two and a half hours is taxing on a computer. Who knew?

Big things are coming…

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Both people, and content-wise.


First of all, a big welcome to the King himself, the Master of Might and Sultan of Salami, Mr. Tony “Gorbo” Divito.


Oh God, what have we unleashed…?

He’s the newest kid to join the cast, and probably the last regular we’ll have for the main show.

There are more people that know this man than don’t – I suggest you become acquainted.

And we love this guy so much, he’s already got his own blog! What a lucky feller! Check him out at

He’s already brought a lot of energy our way, so you just wait until you see what he’s got up his sleeves.

You won’t be able to dodge…I assure you.

And now…

NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams Review

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There was a time when Sonic Team was synonymous with stellar art direction, inventive play mechanics, and bold ideas. They created Sega’s answer to Mario, they experimented with plastic maraca peripherals years before Guitar Hero caught on in the States, and they were the ones to introduce online RPGs to the console owning masses. But somewhere along the way, this hardcore darling lost its way. I don’t know if it was because of the departure of guys like Naoto Ohshima (now at Artoon) and Yuji Naka, or if it had to do with Sega’s internal restructuring of its development departments after the collapse of the Dreamcast. Hell, maybe Sonic Team just doesn’t know how to meet modern gaming expectations. All I can tell you is that the little blue hedgehog’s head is no longer a seal of quality, and that this apparently compromised team had no business trying to create a worthy successor to NiGHTS: Into Dreams.

Title Screen

Don’t get your hopes up yet…

We’ve been waiting eleven years since that dorky purple jester first took to the pastel colored skies of Nightopia, so I think it is fair to say that fans have been very weary of the Wii sequel NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams. Though the motion controls seemed well suited to a flight game (on paper), the aforementioned decline of its developer only inspired dread. Well, even if the signs were there, I still believed because I figured that such a special property would get the treatment it deserved. Sonic and his crew gave up their integrity in exchange for guns and human lovin’, but NiGHTS just had to be different. Foolish, foolish Justin. While Journey of Dreams is far from a turd, the developers have chosen to bury the core game in broken platforming levels and endless cut-scenes that only take away from the overall experience. Quite a nightmare after all of my anticipation.

Episode 24: Grabbed by the Goonies

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Nick, Tom, Kaz and Justin unite to talk about the past year and what they’ve been slapping in their trays. Justin has been revisiting PSP titles from this year. Tom blazed a trail through Silent Hill: Origins and downloaded some PSP Store merch. Nick conquered Ninja Gaiden Sigma, hot ninjas and all. Kaz got absorbed into Call of Duty 4, real bad.

In the second segment, friend of the show Tony Divito joins as a special guest to help compile a list potential games of the year, insult Spike’s VGA list and talk about the Street Fighter IV screens. This is followed by the news and an especially dry On the Horizon section. The best of the year is behind us.

The Orange Box: Half Life 2 Review

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Welcome to America: Land of the free and home of the First-Person Shooter. Let’s face it – if you’re an American gamer, you’ve probably played an FPS in your life. You know the deal, grab the gun, go for the headshot, lob the grenade, “Terrorists Win!” At a rudimentary level, the genre seems crude, overly-violent, and twitch-heavy. These are “gun games” made for “gun fans.” Is it really a surprise that we see so many shooters like this, especially living in a country where you can buy a gun at Walmart?

As someone who doesn’t play a lot of FPS (I’m pretty awful at Halo, and haven’t owned one since Goldeneye), I’m kind of sick of seeing one mindless shooter after another being crapped out of western game studios. The angsty inner teenager within me’s“why should I care?” attitude was quickly taking over my thought process. Then a little game called The Orange Box (you might have heard of it by now) came out, and for the first time ever I stepped into City 17.

Episode 23: The Dual Shockers

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Pop a squat on a street corner, it’s time for The Rumble Pack. Justin brings us another sordid tale from China and talk of some unique games. Nick is back from his big test and is overjoyed to bring us news of Pain? Kaz has too many games to play, but managed to put more time into Mass Effect anyways. Tom delves into the scary depths of Silent Hill: Origins. Then the conversation turns to Gerstmann-gate, and a discussion of games reviewing from a greater scope. Followed by some interesting announcements, including a short discussion of Roger Ebert’s praise of a bad movie to down video games. What does this guy have against us?

Episode 22: Feast

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Justin, Tom and Kaz join forces to tell a sordid tale of promises and woe. Justin delves into the remaining games he has left in China before the next shipment comes, Justin also proves he’s smarter than Nick and Tom by beating Zack and Wiki in half the time. Tom brings in-depth analysis of Call of Duty 4 and Assassin’s Creed. Kaz and Tom talk a little bit about Rock Band, which turns into a huge conversation. Then Kaz pours out his heart over Mass Effect. After the break the group has a discussion about game preservation and talk about what needs to happen to better preserve our hobby. Then the gang talks about all the happenings of a short news week.