Archive for June, 2005

Holding Court

A handheld lawyer game sounds like about as much fun as eating bricks, but with the Nintendo DS’s new (for games, that is) combination of input techniques you never know. After all, in fall the DS will give us Trauma Center, where players use the stylus to cut open patients while cheering them on via mic to increase their morale.

Plus, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney has flair to spare. From the hilarious “OBJECTION!” that opens the E3 trailer to the engaging cartoon style to your sidekick Maya “the medium” Fey, it looks like their claim “the law has never been this fun” might actually prove true.

The art looks quite good overall but some of it is a tad disturbing. For instance, the above promotional piece features all the major characters: Phoenix (accusatory), Maya (mid-spasm), opposing council Miles (smug), Mia (busty), the stoic judge… And then there’s the naked guy bent over in a jail cell. Presenting the grim realities of prison life with cell-shaded panache, are we? Chalk up another first for DS.

For more, watch the over-the-top trailer

image grabbed from gamespot

Double Agent


Is it me or does the scumbag Klansman on the left look pretty much identical to the spastic Six Flags guy? Straight down to the suit and glasses. Is it the same person? Disturbing. Somehow those Mr. Six spots don’t quite set my heart aflutter like they used to.

images grabbed from cnn and sixflags

Four Reasons to Love ScaryGirl

From the first moment of your first encounter with Dr. Maybee you know you’ve seen something special — the wide head, sinister scowl, goatee, the tiny bowed legs, scarf and microscopic hat — he’s an enigmatic original character. An enigmatic character with a robosuit, I might add. Unfortunately, for a long time that came at a price: 120 US dollars to be exact.

That all changed recently, though, with the introduction of ScaryGirl Mini. Yeah, the’re a bit smaller but they have the same out there appeal and for an order of magnitude less cash. Series B (pictured above) features surrogate parent Blister, Dr. Maybee, the doctor’s overworld contact Chihoohoo, and the ever-present Egg. So, now the tip-of-your tongue, “what show is that from?” appeal of ScaryGirl is available to the rest of us, albeit in limited quantities. At last check, j1toy still had a few mini sets in stock at the NYC store.

Beware, though. Once you start, you can become arbitrarily obsessed. For more, visit the girl herself.

photo by jellis with props to creator Nathan Jurevicius


After an evening of great food at the upscale yet reasonable Cafe Gray, it only makes sense to check out the other dining options at Time Warner. And that’s when you stumble into Masa. Just one glance at the reservation policy is enough to bring up lunch. In short:

  • Credit card required to make a reservation
  • $100 charge per person if you cancel less than 2 days out
  • $100 charge per person who can’t make it
  • 50% deposit if you have more than 3 friends

They can’t seriously think a reservation policy that evokes the legal meat grinder you go through trying to buy a home will win them fans, can they? There’s hip and then there’s dumb.

Oh, and the dress code reminds us to be “casual and comfortable,” which begs the question: just how comfortable are you likely to be after a trip to the proctologist?

Tragic Kingdom

Madagascar animals shocked as their integrity evaporates

In a recent Wired interview, Jeff Katzenberg (head of Dreamworks Animation) speaks with impressive candor:

My origins in this business are not as an artist or a storyteller. I grew up in the executive ranks. I’m an entrepreneur, and I have gone about the business of animation, which I love, from the place that I know.

The article summarizes his position this way: “Dreamworks isn’t trying to be Pixar. The two companies approach animation from opposite ends: art and finance. Or, it must be said: quality and quantity.”

While I certainly didn’t expect Katzenberg to be quite so frank, it’s hard not to see what he’s said as a reflection of fact. In its eight year history, Dreamworks Animation has churned out some of the worst big budget animation in recent memory. Recall the instant classics Road to El Dorado and Sinbad? Anyone who does is hard at work trying to forget them. Regardless of quality, though, Dreamworks’ animated films have turned an impressive profit through volume.

And those that return the most impressive profits come from the once promising Pacific Data Images. Acquired in 2000, PDI had already shipped the quite good Antz and brought with them a portfolio of fantastic effects and advertising work. They followed Antz with the fun Shrek, the passable Shrek 2, followed by the the atrotious Shark Tale and the nearly-as-groanworthy Madagascar. See a trend? Yep, that’s the Katzenberg magic at work.

It says something that Katzenberg wears as a badge of honor that he green lighted the worst of Pixar’s films (Bug’s Life) when he worked for Disney. Then again, he’s also proud to play The Monkees to Pixar’s Beatles. As long as the money’s rolling in, Dreamwrorks Animation doesn’t appear to care what kind of condescending tripe they generate or, worse, what that tripe does to the animation industry. Jeff has clearly forgotten Disney’s unceremonious slide into animation oblivion. Business over storytelling indeed — at least he’s honest.

For more, read the rest of the Wired article and visit the smoking crater once known as PDI. They’ve got a new movie in the works called Flushed Away. Oh, the irony.

image grabbed from

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