August 2008

NPD has released the monthly numbers for July 2008. Unlike last month, there aren’t any major market shifts or milestones being broken here, but there is still a lot of information that can be found in the current numbers, so let’s see what we can learn.

The NPD retail month of July is a 4 week month that started on Sunday, July 6th and ended on Saturday, August 2nd. Since July is a 4 week month like most NPD months, but others, including June, are 5 week months, most of the comparisons and trends will be drawn using weekly averages instead of monthly totals. This allows for a more accurate understanding of what’s happening that isn’t broken by different months covering different time spans. We’ll start at the top of the list and work our way down. The first number will be this month’s sales, followed by the weekly average in parentheses, then last month’s sales with the weekly average, and finally July 2007’s sales and weekly average. READ MORE

Matt and Mike Chapman’s Homestar Runner flash cartoons have always felt a little like a point-and-click adventure game. The Brothers Chaps, as they are called, leave little items and words that, when clicked, lead to comments, montages and other easter eggs. So it’s unsurprising that the first foray into commercial games would come from Telltale, the reigning kings of the adventure genre.

Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People, or SBCG4AP, plays a lot like Telltale’s flagship Sam and Max series. It is a modern interpretation of the classic LucasArts formula. Players, as Strong Bad, explore areas of Free Country USA, examining places and acquiring random items that somehow can be used to complete various objectives. Episode 1, Homestar Ruiner, starts with Strong Bad sabotaging Homestar’s chances of winning a race, and takes off from there.

Everything feels just like it should. Strong Bad has his table where he writes Teen Girl Squad comics. Coach Z freestyles at random points. The Poopsmith er…does his thing. Fans of the cartoons will be happy to know that there are many references to specific emails and jokes as well. The Cheat’s rave switch is here, as is Strong Mad’s “Limozeen: But They’re In Space!” lunchbox.

Telltale nailed the visual style. The cel-shaded look makes the game feel two-dimensional without actually being 2D. The system requirements are low to work on WiiWare, so it doesn’t carry the same sort of quality look as Sam and Max, but it works.

The one drawback to the game is its length. Episode 1 comes in at just around three and a half hours, a bit shorter than the average Sam and Max episode, and the genre doesn’t tend to carry any replay value. Once a story’s over, it’s over. There were a few efforts to make the game retain some fun, such as the Snake Boxer 5 minigame and the Teen Girl Squad challenge, but a little more variety would have been nice.

All in all, Homestar Ruiner works well as a short adventure for fans of the site. It won’t win over anyone not already in the loop, but that’s expected with a subject like Homestar Runner.

On Tuesday August 5, 2008 on the Xbox LIVE marketplace and Thursday August 7, 2008 on the Playstation Network, MTV Games and Harmonix will release the latest and greatest in Rock Band downloadable content.  This week’s release will include a CrueFest track pack and two singles from System of a Down.

The CrueFest track pack is priced at $2.99 (240 MS Points) or each track is available individually for $0.99 (80 MS Points) each.  The second wave of CrueFest track packs make available Buckcherry’s “Rescue Me”, Motley Crue’s “Face Down in the Dirt”, and last but certainly not least Sixx AM’s breakthrough single “Life is Beautiful”.  The System of a Down singles include “B.Y.O.B” and “Toxicity” and are priced at $1.99 (160 MS Points). READ MORE

City Life Edition 2008 is not very different from its previous installment, World Edition. Of course, considering our review, that isn’t exactly a bad thing.

Of course, most people never got a chance to check out the previous City Life titles, so let’s start with the basics. City Life is basically a take on the classic SimCity formula, but with a twist: competing social groups. The goal is to make a city that is pleasing to A