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 411mania » Games » Columns

Four Player Co-op 10.10.12: NBA 2K13, Pac Man, PS3/Vita Bundle, More
Posted by Stephen Randle on 10.10.2012

Mathew Sforcina has joined the game.
Todd Vote has joined the game.
Mark Salmela has joined the game.
Dan Watson has joined the game.

Greetings, and welcome to another edition of Four Player Co-op. I am the Quizmaster, and I have a more specific set of skills than Liam Neeson. Essentially, I can ask questions to our players and then assign points while delivering witty banter. Fortunately, that's the perfect qualifications for this job!

Start the game!

QUESTION ONE: Apparently NBA 2K13 includes a very special extra player that you can have lining up on your home court: teen sensation Justin Bieber! Which, apparently, will grab the whole "nonthreatening pop star – NBA video game" crossover market that everyone wants to dominate each year. Has there ever been an unlockable character that makes less sense for being included in a genre? Could you come up with one that would be?

Mathew Sforcina
Yeah, I mean, I can see JB appearing in something that's a little more closer to his target demographic (The Sims: JB Pack would be a slam dunk, surely) or in a game that allows violence (I imagine that the next MK game with Create... Sorry, Kreate A Kharacter will have a popular JB one for the killing thereof), but in NBA? I can only assume he's in because someone misunderstood why wacky characters in NBA Jam are good.

That said, ignoring games with said Create A Character features (I mean, I'm sure you can make, I dunno, a passible human My Little Pony in Saint's Row The Third...) I found Fred Durst appearing in WWE Smackdown: Just Bring It! and Fight Club to be somewhat bizarre. Him in Def Jam: Fight For NY, fine. WWE? The hell?

But to create one? How about... Carrot Top in Dynasty Warriors? He can use his prop jokes to fight. Hell, in a RPG, you can fight through three trials, Carrot Top, Gallagher and then Steve Martin. After all, some guys take an arrow to the knee and quit adventuring. Steve Martin took an arrow to the brain and wrote King Tut!

Todd Vote
Maybe Fred Durst in whatever the hell Smackdown game is was that he was in. But I suppose even that made more sense than this, given that Durst was doing Undertaker's theme music at the time. I was among those who thought that Snake's inclusion in to Smash Bros. was lacking in any sense at all. Oh, how about the Daytona car popping up in Virtua Fighter?

Mark Salmela
What's wrong with putting the Biebs in a basketball game? By the way, I think I've officially accomplished everything on my "to do" list at 411mania. Even though I was hired to write about video games (Sony if you want to be specific), I've now written about every conceivable subject ever. Instead of meaningful discussions on video games I've spent the last 3 years writing about the Biebs, how much I hate Canada, and even pretended that Shaq was a guest star regularly writing (and harassing me) in my old column. Why the hell do I still have a job here? There's nothing left for me.

Anyways, you act like there has never been a ridiculous crossover in a basketball game before. Remember NBA Jam? Being able to play as Bill Clinton was one of the best parts about the game. Didn't Obama get included last year in NBA 2K12? I know I'm really grasping for straws here, but Bieber does play in the yearly NBA Celebrity All-Star game. It's not like they put in Louis C.K. or someone who has absolutely nothing to do with basketball or sports in general. And yes, before you ask, all I can think about now is putting Louis C.K. on the Charlotte Hornets. There's just something about his hopeless personality that seems to fit in there.

Dan Watson
The first that comes to kind was Bill Clinton in NBA Jam. I still don't believe that is worse than Justin Bieber though. I'm sure some fighters like the Master Chief character in DOA could rank up there. Nope, gonna give this to Justin Bieber.

See, at least I'd believe Clinton could play basketball. That man can do anything. Except be President again. And even then, if anyone could find a way…

Anyway, we'll give Todd 542 points for Snake, because he truly did not fit in with the cartoon mascots surrounding him, no matter how "dark" they tried to make the storyline in Brawl. I'm sorry, a genetically enhanced super soldier doesn't belong in the same world as a plumber who shoots fireballs, a hyperspeed blue hedgehog, and a giant pink balloon that eats bad guys and gains their powers.

QUESTION TWO: Shockingly, another marketing gimmick has gone awry, as game developers Reverb got into a little hot water for a press release where they claimed that they would donate $5000 to help homeless kittens if (and only if) their game made it onto Steam Greenlight. They have since clarified that they were joking, and were planning to donate the money regardless. Still, as tasteless as that could have ended up being, it's not the worst marketing gimmick ever made in an attempt to sell video games, right?

Mathew Sforcina
Of course not. Acclaim has the prize in eternity. Giving money out to parents who name their kid Turok (or at least giving the kid a savings bond, which I guess isn't a bad thing), offering to pay for speeding tickets and wanting to buy ad space on tombstones... Offending homeless kittens is small fries to pissing off an entire religion.

Todd Vote
I'm rather fond of the old "John Romero will make you his bitch" tagline from that horrible ass game... What was it. Daikatana? Yeah, that was a pretty shitty marketing campaign all things considering. Also, while it wasn't really a marketing campaign, the original logo for Dead Island was a pretty bone-headed move. Oh wait.. remember when EA staged that phony protest for Dante's Inferno? Yeah, that was classic.

Mark Salmela
No, but it's close. I'd put it right up there with Agent 47 killing a bunch of sexy nuns to sell Hitman. You want to know the worst marketing gimmick used to sell anything? Nothing even comes remotely close to the old "This is Living" line of advertisements out of Sony. Back around 2007 Sony Europe put out a huge advertising campaign that featured a commercial where a naked ass man was masturbating into a sock while watching soccer on TV. This was advertising the PS3. Oh, and just because the commercial was that absurd, I do feel the need to clarify that I'm 100% serious. This was an actual commercial meant to sell PS3's.

Dan Watson
It is close but I'd say either Homefront or Dante's Inferno holds the mark for worst marketing. Dante's Inferno pissed off the Catholic Church while Homefront released enough balloons to piss off a country.

So you, like me, probably thought "Come on, Salms, there's no way Sony actually put out a PS3 commercial showing a guy masturbating. I'll bet you 2328 points that you are entirely making that up".


It should go without saying, but the video below is fairly NSFW, contains nudity, adult situations, and yes, a man masturbating to soccer. Oh, and also, it's nearly six minutes long and only mentions the PS3 at the very end.

QUESTION THREE: Namco Bandai has a survey running to ask people to pick from one of four new art styles that would presumably be used for a new Pac-Man game. Tell me what you think of these:

Mathew Sforcina
Why they gotta make the pink one the girl?

Sorry, force of habit. Uh... Can we mix and match here? Like get the Pacman's color scheme from B, but in the style of C, and the Ghosts from A but in C's art style? I mean, as is, it's B-C-A-D, but still. Pacman shouldn't be 'realistic' like A, nor... Whatever the hell D is. A mix of B and C is good. OK?

Todd Vote
WTF is that shit? Are those our only options? Can we pick E. None of the above? Holy crap those all look terrible. Absolutely terrible, there are no redeeming qualities about any of those art styles. Namco should feel ashamed that they would even consider offering this craptastic... well, crap. If they are so bent on this new art style, why not just copy what was done for that old Pac-Man cartoon?

Mark Salmela
Am I the only one who thinks the art styles aren't that different from each other minus one of them? I think they're all fine, but I don't see how the art style necessarily reflects quality when we're talking about Pac-Man. Pac-Man never has and never will be about the graphics. In order for Pac-Man to be relevant again Namco needs to keep finding new ways to change up the Pac-Man formula. Pac-Man Championship Edition was a great way to bring Pac-Man back into relevancy. If anything I'm surprised we got one sequel out of Pac-Man CE and then nothing but a bunch of ports. I still think the idea has legs and they could easily squeal out another sequel or 2 with minor variations on the formula. Having good graphics and a good art direction is nice, but I'm never going to buy a Pac-Man game because I think it looks pretty.

Dan Watson
I'll pick option 1. I guess the 3D character models look best but I dislike all of them. Could they just use the normal models and stop trying to ruin simple good things.

Frankly, if you're trying to chance the art style of Pac Man, maybe Pac Man isn't the game you're actually trying to make here. What you're actually making is a totally different game with Pac Man characters. Not that I have an issue with that, but I don't think they're changing the art just to re-make the arcade version. Anyway, they all look terrible regardless, so Todd and I have aligning beliefs a second time, for 4326 points.

QUESTION FOUR: On the heels of our "Vita as Wii U" question last week, at least one Sony representative seemed to be willing to take our idle speculation and run with it, suggesting that they would not be against the idea of some kind of PS3-Vita bundle package, especially given their new focus on Cross-Play titles. While the idea probably has merit, I can think of a few issues, starting with a likely insane price point and…well, that's what you guys are for. Good idea/bad idea?

Mathew Sforcina
I think it's an idea with merit, but I would draw the line at making it a proper bundle in the sense of it all comes in one big box. Many consumers are, frankly, stupid, and if you're gonna get them over the hump in terms of price, you shouldn't make it seem that slick. Don't make the bundle as such, but tell the sellers to market the bundle as a special offer, a PS3 + Vita + These Games + Bonus stuff, normally you'd be paying $(A Crapload) but you'll save $(Less than a Crapload) by paying $(A Smaller Crapload).

If you sell it as a Sony bundle, people get suspicious. But a discount the store has 'made up'? That'll sell...

Todd Vote
Potentially good idea, but as our esteemed Quizmaster pointed out, the price point could be very scary for this. I don't think Sony is so much running with this for the "Vita as Wii U" thing, but more, again as you pointed out, to promote the cross play deal they got going on. Facing facts, I am never going to be much of a portable gamer, just never been my scene. Usually when I travel, I am the one driving, that is just a recipe for disaster. But I am curious to see what they come up with to make this bundle worth it.

Mark Salmela
I'm surprised Sony hasn't already done this. I was expecting a PS3/PS Vita bundle back in the summer. It's clear the only reason the Vita isn't a complete failure is because of the loyal Sony fanboys who picked one up on the promise of good games. I don't know anyone who picked up a Vita who wasn't already a fan of Sony and the PS3. Cross-Play is the only thing Sony has to keep the Vita afloat right now, because there are hardly any games in development for the thing. Yes, a PS3/PS Vita bundle would probably cost about $500, but if Sony could market the potential of selling you 2 different consoles and throw in something like a year of PS Plus with the promise of all the free games PS Plus members get over a year, I could see the bundle being surprisingly successful. All inclusive bundles do work. It's the reason the Wii U Deluxe model is drastically outselling the preorders of the Wii U regular model. People will buy things based on perceived value, and Sony could definitely market a PS3/PS Vita bundle on that premise.

Dan Watson
Good Idea. Sure it may be pricey but so is the iPhone and iPad and how many of those are selling? Price isn't always a concern if the product is worth it. Sony has enough exclusives and the idea of a free copy of the game when you buy the other system's version is appealing in its own. I'll buy into this.

Everyone seems more or less okay with this, but I can't help but feel that we're looking at a 400-plus dollar price point and there isn't enough worth getting for the Vita that would entice me to get it solo, let alone as part of a bundle. Although Persona 4: Golden is due out in November…hmmm…

In the meantime, Sforcina gets 6428 points for calling consumers "stupid". They are, but you really shouldn't point it out like that.

BONUS QUESTION: With the Jays' season over, the NHL in another lockout, and the NFL only on Sundays (because I only like watching football if I have the option to switch between games when they bore me), what the hell sports am I supposed to watch to fill those hours not used for working and sleeping? Any ideas?

Mathew Sforcina
You could watch wrestling. That kinda is your job on the other page, after all. {QM NOTE: Don't remind me.] Or watch Beach Volleyball. Or don't. Don't do anything just because I tell you to. Live your own damn life.

Todd Vote
My Vikings are 4-1, so football has been good to me thus far this season. Between games, I like to watch people punch each other in the face, and try to rip one another's arms off. That's right my friend, a hearty dose of MMA has never hurt anybody, except for Tito Ortiz, that guy is always hurt. At least he retired now. Anyways, back to MMA. The sport is now set to offer potentially one of the biggest "Rocky" stories of all time. Can you imagine if Stephan Bonnar is able to beat Anderson Silva? Nobody thinks it will happen, myself included, but can you imagine the shockwaves that would send through the UFC?

Mark Salmela
Handball! I started watching Handball during the Olympics and that shit is bananas. It's like basketball mixed in with hockey, or even better yet it's like water polo, minus the water. Yeah, it's way more fun to watch during the Olympics, but if you can't get your fix from the big 4, I sure as hell am not going to recommend shit like the WNBA or the CFL (lol). So either nut up and learn to like soccer, or check out some crazy shit like Handball. Whatever you do, don't start watching professional bowling. I'd rather watch a bunch of Koreans attempting to throw a game of badminton on repeat than watch bowling.

Dan Watson
I'd say football but its only televised 3 days a week. How about bikini basketball or the LFL? Ladies wearing nothing or close to it are always fun to watch.

Please wait…Host is calculating scores…



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