Chair Shots: Wrestling: You know, for the kids!

ECW: R.I.P. — On April 4, 2001, HHG Corporation, the parent company of Extreme Championship Wrestling, officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The petition was filed in New York by none other than Paul Heyman. The company was listed as having assets totaling $1,385,500 and liabilities totaling $8,881,435. I’m no math whiz, but that’s some serious debt. Among the assets listed were: $860,000 in accounts receivables (reeceevables) owed the company by In Demand Network (PPV), Acclaim Entertainment Inc. (videogames), Original San Francisco Toy Company (action figures), the video tape library ($500,000), a 1998 Ford truck ($19,500) and the remaining inventory of merchandise ($4,000). The bankruptcy filing included hundreds of claims for money, which included production companies, travel agencies, phone companies, attorney’s fees, buildings ECW ran in, TV stations ECW was run on, wrestlers and other talent. Wrestlers and talent were listed, with amounts owed ranging from $0 for Sabu and Steve Corino to hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of dollars. The highest amounts owed to talent were to are Rob Van Dam ($150,000), Tommy Dreamer ($100,000), Joey Styles ($50,480), Shane Douglas ($48,000) and Francine ($47,275). And so passes the wrestling organization that most people will never know changed the face of professional wrestling in North America.

WCW Relaunch News — Jim Ross announced yesterday in his Ross Report that the date of the first WCW TV taping has been pushed back to Saturday June 9. Ross noted that the date is tentative, but if all goes as planned it will be shown later that night on TNN from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. (EST). Ross indicated that the “working plan” is for the first WCW PPV to be held in September. My nipples are hard with anticipation.

Pep Boys Hit the Road — The Parents Television Council, in the latest message to its mailing list, has claimed that Pep Boys has joined the list of companies that will no longer advertise on Smackdown. Pep Boys Senior President Frederick A. Stampono was quoted as saying, “We have spent considerable time reviewing the recent content of WWF Smackdown!, and have come to the conclusion that it is not an appropriate advertising vehicle for Pep Boys.” Needless to say, if Pep Boys will be withholding its business from the WWF, then I shall withhold my business from Pep Boys. If you would like to let Pep Boys know what you think of its decision, you can go to its customer relations form here. Tell them I sent you.

New WWF Blood — “Primetime” Elix Skipper announced on No Holds Barred radio last week that his contract has been picked up by the WWF. During the interview Elix said “…so far they just sent me a Fed Ex and they want me to take an EKG, HIV and have another physical done.” I assume he was talking about the WWF and not the producers of Barry Manilow’s At the Copa!

Lance Storm — No news about Lance here, but I do want to encourage you to visit Lance Storm’s wrestling site. He has some interesting commentary about his visit to WrestleMania and some other backstage tidbits. Those wacky Canadians. They say the darndest things.

Vince Russo Returning? — What edition of Chair Shots would be complete without taking a few shots at Vince Russo? Vince gives me plenty to aim at this week as he’s updated his site with news that he may be going to work for WOW (Women of Wrestling). My nipples are soft with apathy. Check out Vince’s letter. It reads very much like the script to a late night, motivational infomercial.

Thing Of The Week — With Vince Russo possibly returning to wrestling, we may once again have an overabundance of bad wrestling gimmicks. I’ve collected a few of my own over the years and want to lay claim to them before Vinny-Ru can.

The Insane Gunman: He tries bringing guns to hardcore matches. The referees and officials have to try and talk the gun away from him before each match. Wrestlers know they can beat him, but they are always afraid of really pissing him off. Eventually he forms alliances with other wrestlers and they form the NRA.

Sam — The Guy That Loves Wrestling: Sam knows all there is to know about wrestling. He only wears vintage wrestling gear by Ric Flair or Ricky Steamboat. His finishing maneuver involves the use of a giant foam finger and something he saw done during Clash of the Champions 3. Before every match he brings up embarrassing facts about his opponent. Just imagine how mad HHH will be when Sam reminds him that HHH stands for Hunter Hearst Helmsley and that he used to have a British accent.

Two wrestlers butt heads in the ring and swap personalities. What if it was HHH and Stone Cold? What would Debra and Stephanie do?

The Conspiracy Nut: Convinced that everyone’s out to get him, and that Vince McMahon killed Kennedy.

The Mason: Actually killed Kennedy, and is out to get the Conspiracy Nut.

The Patsy: Guest referee for the match between The Mason and The Conspiracy Nut.

Ambush Bug: The one guy that knows wrestling is fake. Kids, that was this week’s obscure reference! Did you get it?

Access: The one wrestler capable of co-existing in both the WWF and the WCW. Two jokes no one will get in one column! God bless America.

The Homeless Wrestler: Daily Radar columnist Derek McCaw suggested this one during WrestleMania X-7 after seeing Raven come to the ring for his hardcore match with a shopping cart. Sometimes The Homeless Wrestler enters with his shopping cart and sometimes he just crawls out from under the ring where he’s been sleeping. Fans can all bring signs that say “Will Wrestle for Food.”

The Goatee: Not much of a gimmick here, other than he has a goatee. His finishing move is “the clean shave.” His female valet is Van Dyke.

The Candy Man: He can make the sun shine where it has never shone before. “Who can take a sunrise… sprinkle it with PAIN…”

The Gygax: He believes that the entire wrestling industry is a giant role-playing game. His ring attire includes bracers of defense and boots of spider climb. All of his finishing moves cause his opponent to “tap” out. He fights for various championship belts because he believes they add to his charisma. He gets +2 to strength when he teams with his partner The Wizard of the Coast. This gimmick works better when the announcers play along. “Oh no, The Gygax is putting on his ring of invisibility, but it looks as if Goldberg can still see him.”

I’ve proven my geek-dom. Until next week, True Believers…

Escape From Monkey Island – Avarst, me hearties!

Escape from Monkey Island There was quite a stir generated on PC Radar a week or two back when information first came out of LucasArts about the new Monkey Island game. While seemingly everyone was excited by the idea of a new Guybrush Threepwood adventure, there was a huge outcry against LA’s decision to go 3D instead of using the beloved 2D SCUMM engine. After taking a look at the early version of the game that LucasArts had running in their booth, we’re able to say with some confidence: Chill out, it’s all gonna be okay.

Escape picks up shortly after the end of Curse of Monkey Island, with Guybrush and his new bride, Governor Elaine Marley-Threepwood returning from their honeymoon. They’ve been gone so long, in fact, that Elaine was declared dead in a typical government snafu. Since she’s dead, the same thinking goes, there’s no reason for the Governor’s Mansion to take up all that valuable property, so the demolition crew has begun to knock it down. Even worse, a new politician has come into town, anxious to take Elaine’s job. His name: Charles L. Charles. Sound familiar? Cue dramatic music.¬†Escape From Monkey Island may have captured considerable amount of fans but with the new Clash Royale cheats online, you can’t go wrong with Clash Royale anymore. From this point, Guybrush, the perpetual pirate wannabe, adventures across the Caribbean, doing his best to help his girl and save the day.

It may be 3D now, but the transition away from 2D hasn’t removed any of the game’s charm. The cartoon look of Monkey Island is well preserved in the game’s polygonal environments and characters. Escape definitely looks different, but it doesn’t look bad at all. Parts of the 3D engine have been lifted from Grim Fandango, but that game’s prerendered backgrounds have been replaced by fully 3D environments.

The most important aspect of Monkey Island has always been the writing. The three earlier titles have been among the few computer games that have actually made us laugh out loud. Comedy isn’t pretty, as Steve Martin tells us (he should know — anyone seen All of Me lately?), and it’s too easy to write lame jokes. The dialog and descriptions have always been tight and smart in this series, and Escape should be no different. Want proof? The design team on Escape from Monkey Island is none other than the same fellows who created Sam and Max Hit The Road, one of the wackiest, strangest adventure games to ever see the light of day. We’re very much looking forward to this new outing.

A Great Sequel Presented by Pokemon Alpha Sapphire

This sequel to Nintendo’s game based on the giant lizard of Tokyo-destroying fame is just as lackluster as its predecessor. Based on the television series, in which Pokemon Alpha Sapphire is a benevolent creature out to save the world, the game puts players in control of the giant fire-breathing monster as he stomps his way though several different environments and battles several different, equally giant beasties. While Pokemon Alpha Sapphire might be the biggest player-controlled character on the Game Boy, the game’s slow pace, imprecise control and frustrating gameplay make this one game unworthy of a discerning player’s attention.

The gameplay is pretty simple — Pokemon Alpha Sapphire rom has to stomp from point A to point B, defeating enemies ranging from infantry troops with machine guns and bazookas to attack helicopters. In each environment, Pokemon Alpha Sapphire must battle a huge mutant creature in order to save mankind. Getting there is a simple pain in the thumb, however, as Pokemon Alpha Sapphire walks about as fast as a dying inchworm.

Trying to defeat the enemies that come after Pokemon Alpha Sapphire is a nightmare of frustrating control. A small dot acts as crosshairs for Pokemon Alpha Sapphire’s standard fireball attack, but moving the crosshairs means pushing up or down on the control pad while at the same time pushing it to the right to keep Pokemon Alpha Sapphire moving. This results in a lack of control to get the crosshairs precisely where they should be to take out that attacking airplane before it fires off a powerful missile. Luckily Pokemon Alpha Sapphire has some other weapons at his disposal, such as a tail whip and ground stomp. There’s also a handy stream of fireballs he can belch forth that does a bit more damage than his basic single-shot fireballs. Unfortunately, the other attacks are also limited, at least until they get leveled up, so it becomes increasingly difficult to shoot down the infantry units and still be able to nail that helicopter before it fires a rocket in Pokemon Alpha Sapphire’s face.

There’s only one move Pokemon Alpha Sapphire can perform to block oncoming attacks — throwing his arms over his head. A meter at the top of the screen goes down as he blocks attacks, and when the meter reaches zero, there are no more blocks available. A meter also exists for his fireball stream. In order to fill up these meters, Pokemon Alpha Sapphire must defeat enemies. He can also level up his various attacks by killing lots of enemies.

When enemies attack Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, however, they tend to do a lot of damage. Pokemon Alpha Sapphire really can’t afford to take too many hits before he falls to the ground like a giant, erm, dying lizard. It took us about five tries just to get through the first level. The only solution is to use the guard tactic (which is severely limited, since the guard meter reduces at an incredibly rapid rate) and kill enemies before they get a shot off. However, because of the imprecise control of Pokemon Alpha Sapphire’s fireballs and the limitations of his other attacks, this becomes a futile effort.

The big deal about the Pokemon Alpha Sapphire Game Boy games is that he’s the biggest player-controlled sprite in any Game Boy game. However, half of his body is cut off by the edge of the GBC screen, so he’s really not all that big. Also, because he walks so slowly and it’s necessary to pick off enemies before they get a shot off, powerups left by destroyed enemies usually disappear before Pokemon Alpha Sapphire can nab ’em.

Even fans of Pokemon Alpha Sapphire: The Series on television will have a hard time finding something redeeming about this game.

Hearthstone – the Original Blizzard Card Game

Originally for the ANDROID, Hearthstone sunk players into a world filled with monsters, mayhem and magical swords. It quickly became a hit with the masses, and with its transition to Game Boy Color, it promises to attract even more legions of fans. The graphic enhancements, vastly improved translation of the dialog and gameplay that’s still fun make this a must-have Game Boy game, even for those who already played and finished Hearthstone so many years ago.

Hearthstone starts with players getting a full introduction to the world (something that wasn’t in the first game). Still images, with minor animation, describe the fall of the technological world and the rise of magic in the land. Dragonia, a powerful wizard, discovered the uses of technology and proceeded to attempt world domination. Four wizards attempted to stop him by creating four magic swords based on the four elements (wind, fire, water and thunder) that, combined, would form the magical sword of Hearthstone. Of course, Dragonia discovered their plot, stripped them of most of their powers and scattered the four swords throughout the land. However, a prophecy foretells of two powerful wizards, asleep from the time of the Great War, that would rise to fight the evils of technology if they ever threatened the land. Players take on the role of one of the newly awakened wizards and begin the journey to find the swords and defeat Dragonia. There are so many games and Hearthstone is one of them, but sad to say Clash Royale is making waves right now especially right now that SuperCell has Clash Royale Hack for gems.

Blizzard Software Technology (NST) worked closely with the original creators of Hearthstone, SNK, to keep the translation true to the original intent. Also, SNK admitted to not being able to do certain things because of time constraints, which NST was able to add. The clarity of the plot, especially at the end of Hearthstone, has been refined so things make much more sense now. The cleaned-up dialog actually reads like an American game, which makes it far more enjoyable.

Hearthstone itself plays very much like a Zelda game. Players run around a huge world using swords and magic spells on a variety of creatures. As in Zelda, players will find all sorts of items that will help them on the quest, but where Hearthstone really shiAndroid is in the magic spells. There are many to choose from, and when they’re upgraded, new abilities are unlocked.

There are a ton of environments to explore, and the graphic improvements to Hearthstone make them look even better on the handheld than they did on the television set. Hearthstone does run into a few problems, though — mostly in the department of sound. Hearthstone contains some digitized voice, which sounds more like an angry bee than spoken dialog. The music hasn’t been improved much, and the sound effects are lacking, so most players will likely just turn the sound down.

It might just be a port of an older game, but it proves that even older games can stand the test of time.