I’m appalled at the thought, both as a gamer and as a fat guy. Now I don’t mean to stereotype the competitive eaters; many of them, like hot-dog-snarfing legend Kobayashi, are actually very thin. But saying it’s worthy fodder for a videogame—and calling the participants in Major League Eating “elite athletes,” as one PR hack did—is a little more than I can stomach. The game will be fitted like a head-to-head fighting title, but I just can’t imagine what price tag the company could put on this game that would make anybody say, “I’ve gotta have that so I can be the world hot-dog-eating champion, if only on my console.” It’s not going to happen.
I sometimes do wonder what criteria companies use when deciding what will be a good concept for a game. I realize that some of the best games were started on premises that seemed strange at the time. For example, the first person who pitched the idea of a videogame based on carjacking people, beating up hookers and shooting random strangers in cold blood on a virtual street was probably fired. And now Grand Theft Auto IV—due out April 29—is the most highly anticipated new title of the year.
But I think the idea that absolutely anything can become a video game is becoming a black eye for the industry. I mean, Leisure Suit Larry was fun for a couple of hours back in the day, but soon after, I did regret dropping $40 on the piece of crap. The same thing will happen when the world’s first competitive-eating videogame hits the streets. I’d rather see more bad movie-based games that at least have a story line than invest money in a game that, at the end of the day, will likely make you queasier than if you actually did eat 75 Nathan’s hot dogs.
As a gamer, I’ve won the Super Bowl, saved countless princesses, won innumerable wars and killed enough virtual people to give me the night sweats. But be a competitive eater? I think video games finally drew a line I can’t cross.
Condemned 2: Bloodshot
If I had a nickel for every time I assumed the role of a burned-out cop or private investigator in a videogame, I’d actually be able to start buying games instead of renting them and getting hit with massive late fees. But once again, stepping into the role of Ethan Thomas—a raging alcoholic after the events of the first game—is a plunge well worth taking. This action/horror sequel has everything a second installment should have: a good story (although not as interesting as the first), improved game play and new mysteries and surprises to keep the experience somewhat new while still providing enough of the original flavor that it doesn’t feel like you’re playing a completely different superviolent kill-or-be-killed title (take note, Manhunt 2). My favorite part of game play is the enhanced evidence collection/crime-scene investigation. This feature is no point-and-click afterthought. You actually have to examine the evidence and then use your brain to answer a few questions to make the right analysis of the evidence. Overall, Condemned 2 is not as good as the original, but it’s really close, and there are some great twists and surprises that make it worth your time. (Rated M; PS3, Xbox 360; $59.99)
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
It’s not often that you get a legitimate game of the year contender in March, but Super Smash Bros. really is a special title. This game brings a bunch of favorite characters from Nintendo franchises past—Mario and Donkey Kong to name a couple of the 35 combatants, along with, most notably, Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog—and puts them together in a slick, addicting multiplayer, multistage fighting title. The one-player adventure mode is OK, but its shortcomings are overshadowed by all of the positives brought to the table by the multiplayer mode. The bottom line is this is not only a great game but also a fantastic addition to your game library, because you won’t be able to stop playing. (Rated E; Wii; $49.99)