What's Next: September 04' Edition
The skinny on TNL's current obsessions.
Article by TNL Staff (Email)
September 1st 2004, 05:00AM
Let's face it. As much as The Next Level endeavors to bring you the latest reviews, previews and features -- we all have other interests outside of the digital entertainment medium. Last month, we offered you a glimpse into some of our interests and personal recommendations. To our surprise, the modest presentation was well received and we were encouraged to bring it back. So we did.
Each month, you can look look forward to our personal picks of recommended games, books, literature, films/DVD entertainment. It's our guide to what you could be doing next. And who knows, they just might end up becoming your personal favorites. Care to tune in? Then read on...
Chris Scantleberry | Editor-in-Chief | e-mail
Street Racing Syndicate (Xbox, PlayStation 2, GameCube) by Namco
If you've read my impressions, then you're aware that my only quibble so far is the game's inexplicable lack of speed. Street Racing Syndicate is an exceptionally entertaining game that Namco hopes will establish its own niche among the street racing games available. One of the biggest draws to the game of course is the extensive degree of customization, online multiplayer modes and of course, unlocking a bevy of videos allowing you to enjoy hot babes like Francine Dee and Tila Nguyen. I am not suggesting you should get the game just to see them alone, especially since there's a plethora of places throughout the net where you can see them (and then some) for free. Either way, SRS qualifies for being a weekly rental or for anyone that's looking for an alternative selection beyond what's currently available.
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
The first time I glimpsed the trailer for this film, I couldn't help but think of Crimson Skies, or at least (despite a few obvious differences) what I'd envision the game to be like if it were ever crossed over to the motion picture realm. The movie takes place in an alternate reality of the 1930's. Famous scientists are mysteriously disappearing, prompting an investigation by Chronicle reporter Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) assisted by the ace of the skies, Sky Captain (Jude Law). The fearless duo travel throughout the world in a daunting effort to stop Dr. Toteenkopf, the evil mastermind behind the sinister plot to destroy the world.
Has Sky Captain met his match? Will he be able to defeat Franky Cook (Angelina Jolie) and her all-female amphibious squadron? Tune in to your local theatres on September 17 and find out.
Street Fighter: The Anniversary Collection OSG by Brady Games
While it doesn't offer any gurantees to make you the next Alex Valle or a parry master as countlessly demonstrated by Japanese player, Daigo, this 200+ comprehensive strategy guide is the definitive resource for newcomers and old-school players alike. Inside you'll find a plethora of information featuring detailed strategies composed by several major and familiar talents within the Street Fighter community including Alex Valle, John Choi, Mike Creque, Mike Watson and many others. You'll also find detailed analysis of every character, matchups, frame data, and other advanced techniques and tips to help you hone your skills for the PlayStation 2 version (now available) and for the forthcoming release on Xbox, just a few months away. Finally, fans can enjoy a variety of artwork developed from over the years and yes, yet another cool bonus -- an official Street Fighter 3: Third Strike Soundtrack is included too. What else can I say? I haven't seen such a well-designed book since the Street Fighter Alpha 2 book was published by Versus Books. Every avid Street Fighter fan owes it to themself to run, not walk, and pick up a personal copy of this book immediately.
I must admit that I don't regularly buy music. I spend much of my time juggling between listening to my extensive game music collection and the few music CDs in my girlfriend's personal batch. She's been trying to get me to listen to the Backstreet Boys, which well, will never happen. I did end up discovering an old album by 98 Degrees and John Mayer. I am planning to make a visit to Borders or Target and look into finding more music by Sevendust, which quite simply is one of my favorite groups this year.
Andrew Alfonso | Senior Editor | e-mail
Virtua Fighter 4: Final Tuned (Arcade) by Sega
Okay, so it'll probably be impossible for most people to find the game in an arcade if you aren't in Japan, but if you're one of the few that lives in an area with a thriving arcade scene, you should give this game a couple of whirls just to say that you did. New and refined moves for each character further balances out the character roster of the game, and adds a ton of freshness to a game that was released nearly 4 years ago!
WWE fans will appreciate the fact that Wolf combines Triple H, Brock Lesnar, Goldberg and Steve Austin all into one mean package, Brad players will love his new additions, and... well, I could go on and on about this, but it'll just be better to play the game!
Sloan :: Action Pact
Decidedly Canadian in sound and attitude, Sloan's 2003 release is one of those feel-good albums that's speaks volumes of the band's patriotism to the "Great White North" ("One thing I know about the rest of my life, I'll be spending it in Canada!").
A little light-hearted in nature, Sloan has created an album that's perfect for those long drives while on vacation, something that even Americans can appreciate!
Ken Dryden :: The Game by Ken Dryden
Part philosophy, part ESPN, The Game is an old, old title that I recently received as a gift from a friend. Written by Ken Dryden (one of the best goalies of his era), The Game takes a unique look inside the locker room of a hockey team while waxing philosphy at the same time. Dryden is not content with just talking about hockey though. The nearly 300 page book touches upon all aspects of life, and it's such an exciting read that you'll forget that you're actually reading about hockey. This book is a must read for any sports fan, especially those who love their hockey!
Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
Tasteless and full of vulgarity perfectly sums up this comedy flick starring two bit players from American Pie and Van Wilder, who go on a 'wild and wacky' adventure on their way to the local White Castle. While the movie may be a little low-brow for those who weren't completely turned onto Dude Where's My Car and Road Trip, there are some truly hilarious moments in the movie, especially with the bits featuring Neil Patrick Harris (aka Doogie Howser), who plays himself in the movie. Sure, it's stupid humour, but everyone needs that once in a while.
Midway Arcade Treasures (Xbox, PlayStation 2, GameCube)
There's some worthile games on here - Paperboy, Root Beer Tapper, Sinistar, Smash TV - but the standout of any collection that would have it is always going to be Robotron 2084. It's the epitome of 80s gaming: frenetic, point-driven craziness, with loud explosions and laser sounds. Top stuff.
Garden State By Zach Braff
Visual gags, sharp realistic dialogue that rarely becomes snarky or ironic, and a different kind of flawed main character (Zach Braff's piercing slacker stare does wonders to suggest his character's furtive inner workings). The constantly moving story takes on a virtual tour of New Jersey, and it goes a long way to show New Jersey as an actual liveable state. It's really a stunning little masterpiece.
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman
Chuck Klosterman explores every spectrum of pop culture in his collection of hilarious ramblings. Most of his observations won't be mindblowing to any level-headed citizen, but he writes with an incredible wit and tenacious humor, such as how he goes on for nearly a dozen pages about The Real World without sounding riduclous (the opposite: its quite brilliant) and making it accessible to someone who's seen more SNL spoofs of TRW than the show itself. And his opinions and thoughts on Woody Allen and his social impact exactly mirror mine, which confirms it: we're both genuises.
Romantica by Luna
I remember for a high school project that I made a posterboard of Bob Dylan and a family tree of inspiration (bands that he's influenced and bands influenced by Bob Dylan-influenced bands). It was a lazy project and I read that Luna was influenced by a Bob Dylan-influenced band (probably The Velvet Underground) and stuck their picture on the posterboard. At last, though, I finally found a copy of their CD at a library. I magically transformed their songs into mp3s and am listening to them at this very moment, and though I haven't heard their songs in order, the first song is "Lovedust" and I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't be sucked into the CD with such a great introducer.
Jesse Jenson | Contributing Editor | e-mail
Wario Ware Inc.: Mega Party Game$ (GameCube)
You have friends, right? You have a GameCube, right? Then you must own Wario Ware Inc.: Mega Party Game$. With the ability to wreak havoc on your friends’ game playing even after your loss, Wario Ware adds another dimension to multiplayer gaming and forces you to make loose alliances with your friends (that you’ll break as soon as conditions are favorable).
Aqua Teen Hunger Force
This is, without a doubt, the best cartoon ever. The amount of stupidity packed into every episode of Aqua Team Hunger Force will leave you either confused or spellbound. Much like Monty Python, ATHF is something you either get - or don’t. The second volume in the series demonstrates how comfortable the Williams Street gang had become with the characters, and because of this allows for much more intricate comedic situations.