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Malik (3/19/07)  

I've been hearing rumors of Katamari not being dead. In fact, I've seen rumors of a 360 Katamari game, a Wii Katamari game, and talk of even a PS3 Katamari game. My only real thought in this is the sad fact that the master of Katamari, who's name escapes me, is done with making Katamari games. So, the big question is; how will a final "Beautiful Katamari Damacy" weight in against the earlier versions, that had a genius mind behind them? I wish I could answer this...I really do.

In it's core, Katamari is not a complex concept to run with, only a hard one to start. So, if this news is true, then some cool things may be in the works. However, that's assuming that Namco Bandai is smart enough to leave further innovation at the door. This is a game franchise that was once novel, and now it should be only novel when compared to the other games of the world. If it's left along, and if the game is true to the original two/three (never played the PSP version), then good things are coming...I hope.

Well, be prepared for a lot of quicker posts this week and next. This is what I will officially dub "hell week", even though it's more of a hell week followed by a very bad week. To just give a hint, I need to give my boss a lot of bad news (just as he returns from vacation), have a walk through of the house I get on Thursday, do a full work day in about three and a half hours, get my eyes dilated, and then do my taxes. That's just today. It only gets worse from here, until Friday ends with a nicer, but it's still a frustrating experience, of graduation for my bro-in-law while making constant trips to my new home to drop off boxes of crap.

At least I had a good time at my friend's geek inspired b-day on Saturday (dLee, thanks for throwing a great party!), and I was able to get Velveeta to try her first real game of Civ with me before some D&D on Sunday. I guess it's the small victories that matter, and these triumphs were great.


Malik (3/20/07)  

If you haven't seen yet, Beyond Oasis is on the Virtual Console!!! This is a great example of the Zelda style of game play taken from both a different company (giving a different take on the genre) as well as with a nicely under-used setting (historical Arabian fantasy). This is a game that brought me many moments of happiness on my Genesis, and it may just be the first VC game I go ahead and download. Afterall, this is a game finally worthy of my Wii Points without being overly proliferated on recent consoles.

Also, on the note of games going to consoles, Devil May Cry 4 is now crossing platforms. DMC4 will be on the 360, as well as the original previously exclusive PS3. This is on top of the game also going to the PC. Normally I would not even bother to mention this type of news, since I'm about the dead opposite of a DCM fan, but it goes to show what will be happening more and more in the geek world.

Games are going to start a nice shift, more and more, from console exclusives to the state of hitting either all of the big powerhouse three (360, PC, and PS3) or the little box that could (Wii). The old days of numerous exclusives is soon going to fade into the sands of time as we watch and see major titles, assuming their not published by Sony or Microsoft, become sleazy and slutty as they sleep with every box with a major graphics processor.

The only real exception to this rule is for Wii games. Afterall, Wii doesn't exactly follow the same rules as the other consoles. The controller is too important to the game, and the visuals of a Wii game will always look silly if ported to anything else (except maybe a downgrade to DS).

I wouldn't be surprised, despite past rumors and boasts, to see MGS4 getting the same treatment between now and when it finally goes gold. Afterall, DMC4, Assassin's Creed (kinda), Guitar Hero, possible Katamari, and a nice long list of other franchises have all started to make the jump to multiplatform. It's the way for publishers and developers to reach the largest possible audience, which means it's the way to make the best money. This holds especially true now that the 360 and PS3 contain many similarities (despite what any fanboy would want to argue) and the only real difference is the price tag and the current attach rates. I imagine, assuming the PS3 gets some exclusives published by Sony that are worthy of more than being a rental), that the state of consoles will soon (like in a year or so) see the 360 and PS3 standing in very similar positions.

Anyway, once again, I'm keeping things brief. I feel like I'm trapped in my own personal hell this week as I get no time to play games and no time to think or plant my lazy ass in a chair. Luckily, in about two weeks the dust should settle...but until then, I'll be in and out of this post like a tumble weed.


Malik (3/21/07)  

Katamari Damacy; looks like complete crap from a quick glance. The Wii; looks like Nintendo has smoked a bit too much of ye olde crack pipe before giving it a test drive. Wario Ware; looks like the single worst idea for a game franchise in gaming history. Beyond Good and Evil; how good can a game be when you're a photo-journalist with a pig-man for your companion? Indigo Prophecy; why play a chose your own adventure video game? Crackdown; the game is short, devoid of plot, and is about as ridiculous as humanly possible.

Moral; Don't judge a book, or a game in this case...or a console, by it's outward experience. I bring this up for a few reasons. One is that each game or console above is required gaming for any geek. Secondly, I mention all of this because I am guilty of being short sighted.

I watched a friend of mine play some Crackdown a few weeks ago and I was left thinking just what I thought after seeing the trailer on Live; that the game was garbage. I mean the whole concept of a super cop who only exists to pick up giant vehicles, fire many weapons, and kill crime lords without any plot has to be one of the worst gaming ideas I've seen. However, when I last did a Microsoft game test, or at least when I was rejected (due to too many people showing up) but still was present to receive a free "gratuity" item (game or productivity application), I decided to get Crackdown since there was nothing else worthy of my attention. Afterall, Microsoft doesn't exactly have all the hottest and latest games on their list.

Last night I felt like I needed a break from the slow pace of my two current games, Civ 4 and FF6 Advance. So, I finally opened Crackdown and loaded it up. I started playing with very low expectations. I thought I would play for about an hour and then run off to Gamestop to trade the game in and buy something for the GBA or DS to replace this chunk of garbage with something more worthy.

Four hours later, I had to stop playing to pick up Velveeta from the bus stop. The next two hours were tortured as I kept trying to think of ways to get Velveeta to occupy her attentions away from the TV. Maybe a book, a bath, a walk around the neighborhood. I didn't know and I didn't care...I just needed more Crackdown. The game was haunting me.

In reality, Crackdown is about one of the single most hollow gaming experiences I've ever encountered. There is no substance, and the only thing that keeps you playing is the need to grind. It's an online or offline, but not MMO, grinding addiction like you'd get from any MMORPG. You level your abilities and you just need to keep playing. You need to get a little stronger so you can lift more vehicles (not just tuner cars). You need to find more agility orbs so you can jump and run better than anything in the world could dream of. You need to blow up one more villain with a grenade so you can cause larger explosions. You just need to play more.

Also, the game is really nice on the eyes. While the visuals are not the best for a game, they have a nicely almost cel-shaded effect that is completely different than any of the other cel-shaded games on the market. It almost makes the idea of the game feel more plausible. Afterall, you're playing the equivalent of a video game comic, and the art style only reinforces the comic comparison. In fact, the game makes me think of Spiderman 2 (the game) being combined with the Punisher concept, but with more accountability (since your avatar is a full fledged cop).

To shift gears a little, it's funny to head that people are not expecting a price drop on the PS3, just as the 360 is expected to have a model edge within $20 of the cheaper PS3 model. If both of these events happen this year, then the game climate could go through an unusual shift. Microsoft may be forcing more people away from their console (afterall, why buy the cheaper consoles, like the Core, when you'd want the best...hence the Core and the $500 PS3 have all done worse...not to mention how the cheaper ones just don't offer the value when it's all added up) while Sony brings people to theirs.

My big question is this; if the new 360 comes along, how is Microsoft going to convince the tech geeks to stick with a $480 360 with a standard DVD drive while Sony will offer a Blu-ray console for $20 more and may eventually offer the better of their Blu-ray consoles for only $20 more? This just will not float well for Microsoft. It is time for them to rethink their position in comparison to the competition.

I also have to wonder how much does it really cost to modify a standard issues 120GB (or the 20GB) hard drive to the silly shape of the 360 HDD. Afterall, we pay $99.99 for the 20GB 360 HDD while I can get a SATA 400GB for the same price on sale or a 300GB for that price all the time. This is not necessarily a simple question with a simple answer, since the modification may require some special magical procedure that is actually expensive...but it's the type of question and 360 owner with a PC is constantly asking themselves. It's also the type of question that can haunt them as Sony grabs some of the console pie back from Microsoft.

I guess this power shift only makes sense since now Sony is imitating least in Europe. I'm talking about the slow trickle of backwards compatible PS2 game titles (for Europe) that will be updated with time. Just like the 360 backwards compatible list of XBox titles. At least, while the big "grown up" console makers act silly and like they don't know how to run a business, I can always rely on Nintendo to just bring me happiness and pleasure in a way that only Nintendo can do.

...or I can just continue my addition to Crackdown. It's so addictive, maybe they should call it Crack-Down...wait...I see...very clever... (yes, that was really lame).


Malik (3/23/07)  

Another game may be moving away from PS3 exclusivity. I don't know if this means FF13 will not be exclusive or if the 360 may receive some FF13 spin-off titles (like how there's been a flood of FF7 spin off crap in the last year, mainly in Japan). However, if FF13 comes to the 360, then two things are evident...

First off, it means that we are truly entering a brave new world of exclusives being a rare and possibly unimportant event. DMC, Assassin's Creed, Oblivion...the list just keeps growing of games both going from PS3 to 360 and the other way around. The only real exclusives we may be seeing in a year from now may just be those games published or developed by Microsoft and Sony. I, personally, have no issues with this since it would reaffirm my decision to skip the PS3 (at least until the price and library of games warrant a purchase).

It also means, assuming I remain determined to not buy a PS3 (see above), that I can say I skipped buying FF13 because it is crap (guess based off of the recent Square Enix track record) and not because I can't play it. I have no problem with saying that since I also can say I skipped FF12 for the same reason...and FFX-2....and...well, Square Enix used to be the makers of all must buy games for me and now they just make me a little more nostalgic and sad with each passing year.

I also like to see further non-confirmation (closest thing we can count on that this point) about Katamari returning, and to the Wii even. If any game was to come back from the possible dead, I would want more Katamari. In fact, I still can't get enough of the first two PS2 games, and I think the use of either the Wiimote or the 360 analogue sticks would be the perfect home for this style of action. Here's to good thought of a good future!

I spent about 8 hours playing Crackdown yesterday, while waiting for the official word that my house was mine. I have to say that while I really do enjoy Crackdown, I think once I finish the game I'll be done. There's too little incentive to keep playing after it's done...from what I see.

Once you max out a given stat, there's very little keeping me interested. Half the fun of Crackdown is pushing your character to new limits, but once I hit 4 stars (the max rank) on all of the stats, except driving, I have really felt a bit less interested. I think once the final four bosses are laid to rest, I will really have nothing to keep me going on this. Maybe I'll trey to find a few more orbs (since they are fun to locate and obtain), but even that seems empty since I don't gain any bonuses from them anymore (they raise stats...but mine are maxed out).

Well, it's time for me to call it a week and to get a move on with a car load of boxes towards my new home. I can't even begin to say how nice it is to0 finally be moving onto bigger and better things, home-wise. I just hope my job hunt goes this same way soon enough.


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