My guest this week is Justin Huntington. Justin is editor of literary 'zine Don't Tell Grandma, and has found every gap in Tony Hawks 2 and 3.



TALKING POINT: This week, in an announcement they called "video game history," Microsoft announced Pac-Man Championship Edition. Upgrades include gameplay tweaks, HD graphics, and the first new Pac-Man mazes in 26 years. Is this video game history?

Jeff: The game's already available for download over Xbox Live Arcade. The 360 may cost $400, but it's worth it. Finally, a console with the horsepower to run new Pac-Man mazes.

Justin: This is a smart move. Microsoft finally has an answer for the one universal criticism of the original Pac-Man–it wasn't in HD.

Jeff: The graphics in this new one are so sharp, you can see Pac-Man's tiny legs.

Justin: I bet the ghosts are actually translucent.

Jeff: This version has advanced AI. Instead of wandering around at random, Blinky will now patrol the perimeter.

Justin: And the fruit power-ups are just different flavors of Powerade. Actually, I bet playing Pac-Man with rumble would be pretty awesome.

Jeff: I like the idea of online leader boards. Someone out there is the best in the world at Pac-Man, and we should find out who he is so we can make him king.

Justin: I wonder what the 30-odd unused buttons on the 360 controller will do.

Jeff: One thing they were not able to develop for this version was multiple warp tunnels. The designers tried adding an extra set, but the first tester who went in never came out. He is presumed eaten by ghosts.

Justin: They should let you watch other players over Xbox live, so you can learn their strategies.

Jeff: That's a great idea. If someone has the Xbox 360 camera for some reason, you could watch an inset video of them playing the game. There would be hundred of weird dudes playing Pac-Man naked. Now that's video game history.

TALKING POINT: What banner-ad game is the most fun?

Jeff: I prefer games of skill (like "Stop the ninjas!") over tests of knowledge (like "Which of these actors starred in A Night at the Museum?"). It's a more level playing field.

Justin: For me, the name of game is immersion. I want to feel like I've been transferred into an alternate world that's totally realistic, yet new and different. So I obviously favor those three-hole miniature golf challenges for Orbitz.com.

Jeff: Do you really want to be distracted with something trivial like Mini Gold while you're trying to get something accomplished on MySpace?

Justin: Another nice thing about that Orbitz ad is that successfully finishing the three holes doesn't just whisk you away to the company's website–you can replay the same three holes as many times as you like, to try out different strategies.

Jeff: If only it had multiplayer.

Justin: Have you seen the new Comcast banners, where an ear with sneakers on chases around a cellphone that follows your mouse?

Jeff: Seen it? I still have nightmares that I'm that ear, and the cell phone is coming for me.

Justin: What I like about that one is there's no endgame. Sure, you can knock down the ear if you whack it hard enough with the phone, but get ready, because the ear isn't giving up that easily. It's hardly even an ad at all–it's as if Comcast realized that as long as I'm online, they're making money, so they don't even care if I visit their site. Their next banner is just going to be a pocket watch swinging back and forth.

Jeff: It's good to see a multi-million dollar corporation like Comcast and a mom-and-pop operation like Free iPods, Inc. think the same way.

Justin: I don't do the quiz-based games. I mean, come on. ANYONE can win those. What do they think, I'm stupid?

Jeff: I'm not stupid, I just want something for free from the Internet.

Justin: Like I always say, if you don't have to lasso a bull to win it, it isn't worth having.

TALKING POINT: What is the most racist game?

Justin: That depends. Do you consider the word "goomba" a slur? If so, I know of a very racist game.

Jeff: It's OK for mushroom monsters, but now when you're talking about Italian plumbers.

Justin: In that case, I'm going with Custer's Revenge.

Jeff: Custer's Revenge treated the subject of General Custer revenge-raping Native American women about as well as any Atari 2600 game could be expected to. That said, I think General Custer's penis is probably a pixel too long.

Justin: I think that may just be generally offensive, more than specifically racist. It's certainly more sexist than racist.

Jeff: What about games that have you recreate the Revolutionary War, and let you play as the South? Aren't those inherently racist. The NES's North vs. South is nothing more than hate speech with poor controls.

Justin: Well, on one hand N vs. S is pretty diplomatic about the Civil War. Slavery doesn't factor into the game at all, but then they go and put that stereotypical dozing Mexican character on the main map. Also, I think North vs. South is about the Civil War, Jeff. Yeah, I just checked Wikipedia.

Jeff: Whatever. Any game is racist when you think about it. Dance Dance Revolution is all about how white people can't dance. Pokemon is about Asian people being crazy.