Tag Archive: president

Back in December I had the chance to attend the 2010 SpikeTV VGAs and work the red carpet. Here I got to catch up once again with old friend and Oscar winning director Guillermo del Toro. Instead of talking about vampires this time around, Guillermo, Danny Bilson, and I chatted about THQ’s new game that Guillermo is working on called Insane.

Originally Published: June 28, 2010, on ESPNNewYork.com, PlayerAffinity.com, Original-Gamer.com, Lundberg.me, and Examiner.com.

I had a chance on the second day of E3 to speak with Joseph Olin, the President of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, an organization whose primary purpose is to promote computer and video game entertainment.

Joseph and I talked about everything from the current and possible future states of the gaming industry to the influence sports and casual gaming has nowadays on gaming.

Check out my interview with Joseph Olin, the President of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences below!

Originally Published: May 27, 2010, on TalkXbox.com

I’ve been professionally writing about video games for almost two years now and I’ve never felt the need to incorporate politics into my articles (I did write an editorial back in 2008 on the election, but games never came into it). Two weeks ago though, our president made some comments that really got under my skin.

For those of you who may be unaware, President Obama was giving a commencement speech at Hampton University in Virginia when he began talking about the bombardment of the masses by varying news and information reports from every technological orifice imaginable. Now, this is a valid point and I do personally believe that society does have a problem, at times, when it comes to filtering its news. But he said it in a way that, basically, throws video games under the bus for a lot of our information consumption problems.

His exact words that I am calling into question were: “With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.” Personally, as someone whose life is dedicated to the reporting of and playing of video games, I took serious offense to this statement.

Firstly, the comment makes our president look like a Luddite and that he is out of touch with the constantly evolving technology that our lifestyles now demand. Secondly, as our president has admitted on camera to his BlackBerry addiction, to bash modern technology and those of us who use it, but to also admit to relying on it like a crutch himself, makes him look like a hypocrite.

Now I’m not knocking the President just to do so, the point simply is that most of us can process information effectively in today’s society and still play games. In fact, I’m sure many of the students he was talking to were gamers (maybe even gaming during his boring speech). For many of us, it is called a hobby (and a lucky few, a job). Most of us do not confine ourselves to our mothers’ basements surrounded by empty Red Bull cans and Doritos bags (and those of us who do are usually getting paid to do so)! Many people play video games and have a full social life. I know successful, intelligent people from a female medical doctor that likes to fly with Commander Shepard in Mass Effect 2 (yes, she’s married guys) to hockey players who double as Dark Jedi Masters in their spare time in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed to army specialists who practice maneuvers with zombie hordes in Left 4 Dead 2.

Video games are simply a safe, entertaining way, to pass time by oneself or with friends. I’m sorry that we’ve moved beyond the printing press Mr. President. Maybe you should look into banning movies, reality TV, trashy romance novels, the Internet, or any other of the plethora of things that people do for entertainment. Or maybe you’re just frustrated that Midway Games, who were based out of your hometown of Chicago, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Either way, games are here to stay and are nowhere near the reason why the economy hasn’t rebounded yet, unemployment is through the roof, and Iran is getting their hands on low-grade plutonium. Maybe, Mr. President if you added President Mahmoud Ahmadinjejad (the President of Iran) to your Xbox Live friends list and played him for a few hours in NBA Live (we’ll make Bill Clinton an unlockable like in the old NBA Jam if it’ll help) he’d be more willing to listen to those sanctions you’re always going on about. Until then, choose your words more wisely because as someone who is using his gaming column to criticize your words, I feel pretty damn empowered. Game on! 

Originally Published: November 23, 2009, on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com) and Lundberg.me

New Super Mario Bros. Wii Red Carpet w/ Ray Carsillo
Video by Jared Bodden

He is the most recognizable figure in video games and Nintendo is celebrating his 25th anniversary (23rd in the US) by releasing an old-school side-scroller that pays homage to his decorated lineage. Of course I am talking about Mario and speaking of that lineage, Nintendo threw a party at the Nintendo World Store in Rockefeller Center for Mario’s anniversary and I was lucky enough to attend. Take a look at the video!

The new game is New Super Mario Bros. Wii and it takes elements from the greatest of Mario’s titles from over the years (mostly Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, with hints of the original Super Mario Bros., Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island and Super Mario 64 sprinkled in). Princess Peach has been kidnapped by Bowser for the millionth time and it is up to Mario to traverse eight worlds (inspired by Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World) broken up into 69 different stages.

To make matters more difficult, Bowser has pulled out all the stops. After their 18-year hiatus, the seven Koopalings (again from Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World) Larry, Morton Jr., Wendy O., Iggy, Lemmy, Ludwig von, and Roy are back along with Bowser Jr. to defend the castles at the end of each world. Bowser Jr. is also traveling in style since Bowser’s old airship has been rebuilt and will continue to pester Mario on his quest. Also brought back into the mix are the many varieties of brothers who used to pester Mario way back in Super Mario Bros. 3. Hammer, Boomerang, Giant Hammer, Fire, and Wrench brothers are back along with the all-new Ice brothers, and always seem to pop up in Mario’s path at the worst possible moments.

To help combat the largest roster of baddies Mario has ever had to face, Mario has been given several brand new powers along with his payload of Invincibility Stars, Fire Flowers, and Super and Mini-Mushrooms.

The first is the Propeller Mushroom that gives Mario limited flight abilities (anyone remember the Tanooki Suit, Raccoon Leaf, or Cape Feather?) as well as increases his spin attack. The next item is the Ice Flower. Similar to the Fire Flower, Mario throws snowballs now that freeze his opponents in huge blocks of ice that he can then use as stepping stones to make it to higher ground or to pick up and throw at other enemies. The final new item, the Penguin Suit, is a multi-purpose tool. It not only allows you to walk on ice with minimal slipping, but you can throw snowballs like with the Ice Flower and swim better as well (memories of the Frog Suit come flooding back to me now). They even brought Yoshi back, but unfortunately, he can only be used on the stages you find him in, he can’t travel with Mario anymore.

This game is the ultimate shot of nostalgia for any gamer who grew up with the Mario Bros. franchise. There may be a few new additions to the franchise like new items and the 4-player co-op gameplay, but aside from that this is just plain old-school Mario Bros. (they even brought back item reserves that you can access from the world map like in Super Mario Bros. 3).

The graphics are crisp, clean, and make this probably the best looking side-scroller I’ve ever seen. Mix that with the classic Mario music, SFX, and Charles Martinet as Mario and the peripherals for this game don’t come much better.

The plot is the same as it is in every other Mario Bros. game, but we wouldn’t have it any other way and with 4-player co-op adding new levels of fun and intensity, this could be the greatest Mario game ever. Along with the 4-player co-op adding tons of replay value and a new level of difficulty to the game, there are also three special star coins on each stage that unlock something special at the end of the game if you collect them all…

The only real knock I have with this game is the single-player difficulty. I beat the entire game with 50-plus lives in just under 6 hours and was left wanting more. With an abundance of items and 1UP chances available, there is no reason why you should die repeatedly on any stage or against any boss (all you need is to jump on all their heads three times, works every time). I think Nintendo was worried about trying to cram in every single obscure reference to previous Mario incarnations that they forgot to add a little more difficulty to some of these levels.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii is available now and looks to stack up as the greatest Mario side-scroller of all-time.

Ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest.

Graphics: 9.0: This is the best looking side-scoller ever in the Mario series simply because this is the most advanced system for a Mario side-scroller to be on. Need I say more? Although tiny Mario (before he eats the Super Mushroom) did look a little weird at times.

Audio: 10.0: Charles Martinet coming back for a Mario’s limited dialogue combined with the classic SFX and music we’ve all come to know and love and the audio is spectacular.

Plot/Plot Development: 10.0: I don’t know how the same thing has worked for the past 25 years, but it has and I’m more than happy with it just being “Peach gets kidnapped by Bowser, Mario chases after Bowser, Mario stomps on Bowser (or throws fireballs), and Mario rescues Peach”. If something is not broken, don’t fix it, and Nintendo knows that better than anyone.

Gameplay: 8.5: For the most part the game handles perfectly and is classic Mario action in every way. I love the new items, I love all the nostalgia, I just wish it was a little more difficult.

Replay Value: 9.0: Like I said, the lack of difficulty might keep you from wanting to come back, but 4-player co-op, tons of collectibles, and classic Mario action should outweigh the difficulty factor.

Overall (not an average): 9.0: This game is a must have for any Mario fan and gamers who grew up with the series will jump for joy with all the old-school elements brought back. The only real knock on the game is that I didn’t think it was as hard as it could’ve been or had been hyped to be. At the end of the day though this is still a great game and most gamers should go crazy for all the nostalgia this conjures up. And hopefully it won’t be another 18 years before we see the Koopalings again.

-Ray Carsillo


Originally Published: November 5, 2008, on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com)

DISCLAIMER: The views portrayed in the following article are solely those of the author.

Normally I steer away from the heavy stuff like politics, religion, and other societal issues, but the event that happened last evening was too tremendous an occasion not to at least comment on.

First off, congratulations to President-Elect Obama and kudos to Senator McCain for a hard fought campaign and for conceding the election in one of the most heartfelt speeches I have ever heard. His grace in the face of defeat was nothing short of miraculous and speaks to the man’s character in ways we can barely comprehend.

I, for one, look forward to the radical changes that the President-Elect will bring to a nation crying out for something different. If anything, last night’s results showed how sick and tired of the Bush Administration this nation is and, almost as a whole, rose up to support the farthest thing from that, Barack Obama.

There were several things from last night that made me very hopeful for the future for the first time in a good while concerning our government and my generation’s impact on this nation. There were also a few things that make me worry for the status of our pop culture, which is not nearly as important, but since my job revolves around it, I want to talk about it.
In terms of our government, I do not need to pretend I’m some pundit or someone who remotely knows what they are talking about to know that the change coming in the next couple of years is necessary and am happy to see that, for the most part, the nation is united for the first time in eight years behind one man.

In terms of history, we have finally completely eroded a wall that had been there, but never talked about, about the limits of a man based on the color of his skin. There will always be hate all over the world, but this was a major step in the direction of quelling that hate and kicking it to the shadows permanently. This is monumental for the minority population, those with more impoverished backgrounds, and those without hope. This election was a symbol of progress for our great nation in a spectacular direction towards healing the wounds we’ve inflicted upon ourselves in the past eight years.

There were several minor things about last night though that really bothered me.

First: Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi all voted for McCain even after they had two hurricanes dropped on their heads that almost turned that part of the south into our country’s next great water park and got NOTHING from the current administration until it was too late. This happened to be the same administration that McCain voted with 90% of the time. This is why people from these states are considered some of the stupidest in the nation by those of us above the Mason-Dixon Line since logic would dictate that when bad stuff happens, and the people who are supposed to help in your time of need don’t, you should no longer trust them to help you next time.

Second: The Daily Show/Colbert Report one hour live special was the first station to break Virginia going to Obama. That’s right. Comedy Central broke one of the biggest political stories of the night to that point. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were also the second to announce Obama as the President-Elect after CNN. Then older folks wonder why my generation turns to Comedy Central for our news before anywhere else. We get our news faster and with a funny twist without having to listen to the same whining from these pundits on the other networks. Kudos to Comedy Central.

Third: Sticking with the Daily Show/Colbert Report, what are these shows going to make fun of now? They have their work cut out for them. I’m sure something will happen though that will keep feeding the fodder for comedy writers everywhere. There’s always professional sports. Not just comedians though will be affected in the media, but all the right wingers with radio and TV shows. Will they be muzzled now that the democrats have control over the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House? I’m relatively sure much of the brass in the larger networks has connections to Washington. I wonder if Sean Hannity can say “Would you like fries with that?”

Fourth: The election was summed up in a handful of television shots during McCain’s concession speech and Obama’s victory speech. When showing the disappointed McCain supporters, you saw nothing but old, white people in the crowd. There was not a single person of color or under the age of 40 there. When you saw the celebrating Obama supporters, you saw the potential of this great land of ours. People of all ages, colors, and creeds dancing and celebrating and jumping up and down with each other. Those few shots summarized the past two years of campaigning in about two minutes and explained the results more eloquently than any speech could.

Fifth: Did anyone else notice before Barack Obama came out to give his victory speech, they were playing Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher”? They were in Chicago and Bill Murray is from Chicago. Bill Murray was also in Ghostbusters 2, which any true geek will remember as that same song being the song that allowed the Ghostbusters to bring the Statue of Liberty to life to give them entry to Vigo’s Slime Fortress (previously the Metropolitan Museum of Art). Did Bill Murray help Obama at all in Chicago? Or maybe Obama is just a Ghostbusters fan? No wonder why people love this guy!

Then again I could just be having a geek moment and it will pass.

In conclusion, be optimistic America. Things are going to start turning around.

I hope.

-Ray Carsillo