Celebs who can’t stand Howard Stern



In March 2017, a photo of actor Russell Crowe began making the rounds. It featured him kicking around a rugby ball, enjoying a spot of warm weather in Australia. The photo made it look like Crowe, who was dressed in a baggy tank top and shorts, had packed on a few pounds since 1992’s Romper Stomper. The tabloids subsequently had a field day, with Page Six nicknaming the Gladiator star “Maximus drink-imus.” Multiple outlets reported that Howard Stern called out Crowe’s weight on his show, emphasizing that, while he put in the required effort “to stay thin and in shape,” Crowe had simply become a “big fatso.”

Once this was brought to Crowe’s attention by a concerned fan on Twitter, the actor shot down Stern’s taunting commentary with a tweet of his own, writing, “I can bench press young Howard … he cannot say the same.” Since so many people made a fuss about Stern’s coarse comments, the radio host felt inclined to set the record straight in a subsequent April broadcast, crowing, “I didn’t body-shame Russell Crowe!” 

For the record, Stern’s original commentary included such observations as, “I’ve met [Crowe] personally — very nice guy. But he’s big and fat.”





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What you may not know about Anthony Bourdain



When he wasn’t traveling more than 200 days per year for his CNN hosting duties, Bourdain would spend quality time with his daughter, Ariane, from his second marriage to ex-wife, Ottavia Busia (pictured). Bourdain even co-wrote a cookbook in 2016 titled Appetites: A Cookbook, which featured all of the meals he enjoyed preparing for Ariane.

During an interview with The Takeout, Bourdain said his daughter was a “very harsh critic,” despite how much he loved whipping up her favorite dishes. “You know, I put a tiny tiny little bit of nutmeg in my macaroni and cheese and she did not enjoy that. She called me on it right away,” he said. According to Bourdain, Ariane has a “very acute palate” and could immediately tell if he happened to “over-salt something.”

“If there’s any variance between a dish that she liked last time and how it’s done today she’ll be like, ‘Nah, not eating it, there’s too much pepper in that,'” Bourdain said. 



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The most extreme gun violence in video games



Resident Evil 7 makes an appearance in this roundup even though guns aren’t as prevalent as they are in, say, GTA. Like the RE games of yore, ammunition is extremely hard to come by in this installment, which means you’re only pulling out your firearm when you desperately need to neutralize a threat. And since a threat could lurk right up around the next corner, or could burst through the door when you’re least expecting it, RE7 leaves you feeling constantly on edge.

It’s this feeling, along with the eeriness of the setting and the weapons you have at your disposal, that makes Resident Evil such a violent game. Whether you’re using a pistol, a shotgun, or a flamethrower, you’re often firing away in a panicked state after being happened upon by an enemy. And once you’ve shot your way through your target or burned them into a still-smoldering heap, you’re left alone with a corpse, the quiet, and an opportunity to absorb what just occurred.

Gun violence in games doesn’t always come in the form of a large-scale shootout. Sometimes it happens before you realize what you’ve done.



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Game trailers that lied to your face



Hideo Kojima makes trailers featuring flaming sky-whales swallowing helicopters, plasters on quotes from Roman philosophers, and brands them with fake game studio logos. He’s certainly known for his out-there ideas, and he absolutely loves to keep his fans guessing.

Never was this more notable than when, in May 2000 at a small press gathering at Universal Studios, Kojima unveiled the nine-minute trailer for Metal Gear Solid 2, the sequel to Konami’s most successful game ever.

It displayed absurdly impressive graphics, sound, and enemy AI, and the attendees could scarcely believe that this was gameplay from a PlayStation 2. But Kojima insisted it was, and he was absolutely telling the truth. The actual misleading part of the trailer? Snake being the main character.

The beloved, grizzled hero from the first game had quickly become an espionage icon, and fans couldn’t wait to play as him again, with Kojima happy to let them believe that that’s exactly what they would be doing. In actual fact, however, once players had made it through the intro shown in the trailer, they ended up taking the reigns of unknown pretty-boy Raiden: the antithesis of Snake in almost every way. Gamers couldn’t believe what Kojima had pulled.

The gamble paid off though, with initial sales exceeding expectations, and critics hailing it as a masterpiece.



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Games you didn’t realize were part of a series



When game critics talk about the greatest RPGs ever made, the original PlayStation’s Xenogears often shows up as part of the conversation. It was brought into the world by Square in 1998, and it had the distinct honor of starting out first as the original premise for Final Fantasy VII and, later, the sequel to SNES classic Chrono Trigger. Eventually, though, it was allowed to become its own game, and in time, it achieved a devoted following that it still enjoys to this day.

But did you know that Xenogears was not the only game in the series? It may seem that way due to the first game’s immense popularity. But there are other games that take place in that same world, and some of them have been released more recently than you may think.

All of the Xenosaga games, which include three mainline entries and a mobile title, are also part of the Xeno universe at large. And the Xenoblade Chronicles titles, which got their start on the Wii and appeared most recently on the Nintendo Switch, are also part of Xeno canon.

Simply put: if you see Xeno in the title of a game, there’s a good chance it’s a descendant of Xenogears.



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Video game characters who are still missing today



It’s safe to say that Rare was on its game in the ’90s and early 2000s. In addition to the already-mentioned GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark games, Rare also had a string of hits that included all of the Donkey Kong Country titles, the Banjo Kazooie games, and one game in particular that was an absolute shock to find on a Nintendo console: Conker’s Bad Fur Day.

Conker wasn’t the type of video game character you’d expect to find on the Nintendo 64, not with mascots like Mario and Yoshi setting the tone. But there he was in 2001, drinking up a storm, using foul language, and wandering into enough adult-themed situations that the game earned an M rating from the ESRB. After Rare’s sale to Microsoft in 2002, the game got an upgraded port in the form of 2005’s Conker: Live and Reloaded for the Xbox. But since then? Very little.

Conker hasn’t showed up in a game of his own since that 2005 title. He did make a guest appearance in Microsoft’s Project Spark, a game creation tool that launched on the Xbox One platform. But Microsoft ended up canning that idea after its leadership reboot in 2014, leaving Conker effectively homeless.

As we already mentioned, Rare is plenty busy, so the chances of a new Conker game don’t seem good right now.



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The real reasons battle royale games are dominating



Though the series got its start all the way back in 2003 (when World War II was still raging), Call of Duty conquered the industry in 2007 with its fourth iteration, Modern Warfare. Aside from bringing the action into a contemporary setting, Modern Warfare also introduced a number of RPG-style elements into its multiplayer: earned experience points, loot, and perks. Combined with the game’s frenetic pace, this concoction blew gamers away and propelled CoD into the leading shooter series in the world.

Other games challenged CoD, most notably DICE’s Battlefield series, but the basic outlines of these other games came to closely mirror CoD. How could they not? The sales numbers were there. Everybody wanted in on the action. And for ten long years, that has more or less been the state of the shooter scene.

But a decade is a long time to hold the throne, and gamers were ready for a new style. For one thing, a whole generation was coming up that had never known anything else, and was ready for the next spin on the genre. For another, audiences get bored when they see too much of the same thing. Like, say, World War II shooters back in the early 2000s. Call of Duty was the franchise that saw the WWII exhaustion coming, and changed course. But this time around, Call of Duty is the course that the market wanted to turn from.

Battle royale came at just the right time. It was the new direction everyone had been looking for.



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Things in The Elder Scrolls you only notice as an adult



As featured in The Elder Scrolls Online, The Ebony Flask is a tavern located in the Stonefalls region of Morrowind in the Dunmer city of Ebonheart. Here, players can take advantage of standard tavern amenities with regular vendor NPCs like an Innkeeper, a Brewer, and a Chef. To the astute observer, however, there are a few less-explicit services available to patrons of the Ebony Flask (services that do not, it needs mentioning, have any associated gameplay mechanics). While the bustle of standard tavern business carries on upstairs, the shaded corners of the Flask, it seems, are havens for dangerous liaisons and sultry coincidences.

Several of the employees of the Ebony Flask are, in fact, prostitutes. Amil the Deft, Bameli the Pure, Milva Githalvel, and Goveled Herendas are all working night shifts. If you stop to listen, snippets of conversation include offers to “make your stay more pleasant” and reminders that “you’ll have to wait your turn.” Meanwhile, the kinkiest action is going on downstairs in a makeshift bedroom setting surrounded by shaded panels. Here, you’ll meet the shirtless Dunmer Renam Thervayn, who is tied up at the behest of his patron (read: dominatrix) Rena. Resting on the side table you’ll find a pair of tongs, a knife, a feather, and a candle. But — as Rena and Thervayn will quickly let you know — this is a 50 Shades of Grey-inspired sex dungeon built for two.



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Superheroes who deserve their own video games



Unsurprisingly, Rogue has had her greatest video game success as a member of an ensemble cast in games like X-Men Legends and Marvel vs. Capcom, but like most X-characters whose names aren’t “Wolverine,” she’s never broken out into a solo role. That’s a shame, too, since her set of powers makes her a great fit for a very specific type of adventure.

Games like Prototype proved that building a game around absorbing the abilities of other characters could be a blast even without the name recognition of a fan-favorite Marvel character. Applying that same idea to Rogue, giving players objectives that they can accomplish a variety of ways depending on which enemies they choose to take out and absorb, could lead to plenty of fun and a lot of replay value depending on, for example, whether you wanted to smash your way through a barrier, sneak past it, or soar over it. There’s even a logical way to build in level progression by increasing the number of powers that Rogue can maintain at one time and adjusting the duration.

Beyond mechanics, Rogue has a mysterious past and a complicated history that’s seen her as a villain, a hero, an X-Man, an Avenger, and more. For a comic, that can be a little tough to navigate around, but for a game, that just means that you can bring in whatever parts of the Marvel Universe that you want for an exciting story, whether the X-Men are involved or not.



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Strange things about Mario and Peach’s relationship



For most of his career, fans have largely assumed Mario’s a human, albeit a cartoonish one. But then Super Mario Odyssey came out, which featured a world full of anatomically correct humans who didn’t look a thing like the plumber. That’s because the plumber isn’t fully human after all, and neither is his girlfriend.

The question about Mario’s species was actually answered years ago in an official Nintendo guide to the characters. The guide unveils Mario’s species name, but it’s not homo sapien as you might expect. Rather, he’s a homo nintendonus, a branch of humanity so obscure archaeologists have yet to uncover any fossilized records. Simply put, Mario is more humanoid than human.

Then there’s Peach. She looks fully human, but looks can be deceiving. As we learn in Super Mario RPG, Peach’s grandmother is 100% Toad. We’ve never seen Peach’s mom, but it’s safe to assume she too was a Toad. Meanwhile, the few glimpses we’ve gotten of the Mushroom King, Peach’s father, show he’s a human. This means that, despite scientific impossibility, a male human and a female toad spent the night together and produced a Peach, one whose Toad genes are clearly recessive.

It’s certainly possible for an inter-species romance to work, but you have to assume they take a lot more effort than a traditional relationship. Let’s hope, for Mario and Peach’s sake, they’re more Roger and Jessica Rabbit, and less the bastion of toxicity that is Kermit and Miss Piggy.



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