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Malik (3/26/07)  

It's been one hell of a busy week for me. From 3:30 on Thursday (when I finally closed on my house) until now...and even until this has been nothing short of chaotic to be Malik. Between cleaning out an apartment and moving into a new house, and then there's the maintenance and repairs, it has been a week of no fun and no peace. However, at least the hard work will pay off in the end.

I'm already preparing to make things more geek friendly in the new house. There will be one room dedicated to all old-school geek things. Between Velveeta's action figures (and...sigh...dolls...) and my old game machines, the room will be a museum to all things that paved the way to what we geeks enjoy now. NES, SNES, Virtualboy, N-64, Genesis, Saturn, Dreamcast, Playstation, 3DO, Jaguar, Odyssey 2, and many more consoles all sharing their own living space, side-by-side. It is already turning into a sight that makes my knees weak as I stare at the brave entities that gave me such joy as a child.

Then there's the theater.'s more of a big renovated basement. However, it's the right shape and scope to handle the real entertaining. The big screen, the modern game machines, and all the best comforts. It's turning into what should be one hell of a nice place to plant my lazy ass after a hard day of work.

Once everything is finalized and the big items are moved, I may finally be able to find my first taste of peace since the whole house buying experience began...way back in December. However, until that day comes and passes, I can only promise one thing; chaos. I will make an effort to post each day (except Friday...the day when Internet service is transferred and I will not have the net available to my FrontPage running machine), but that cannot even be promised. This week will be a weird journey, but I should end up back where I started, and in better spirits soon enough. Until then, hopefully I'll get a few minutes so I can slay another boss on Crackdown...


Malik (3/27/07)  

Another day of moving, another short post. I hate to keep things brief, but sometimes, like when moving into a new home, it's hard to do what you want. It's hard enough to even do what you need.

I was determined to leave my 360 as the final part of my move. Crackdown was keeping me nicely entertained, so I couldn't pack up my one source of rare comfort. However, last night I downloaded the Puzzle Quest demo for the PC (find a link yourself...just google "puzzle quest PC demo" and you'll find it). I now have a new game to keep me happy. The demo is way too short, but if things go my way, I'll find the DS version today during my lunch break.

It would not be a amiss to say that Puzzle Quest is basically Bejeweled: The RPG. That's how it feels and how it plays. You have a character that gains levels, which unlocks new stat bonuses and spells. As you remove pieces from the Bejeweled-like board, which you take turns against a computer to do, you can either gain money, experience, mana (from colored pieces), or cause direct damage to your foe. It's not what anyone could consider a deep RPG experience...however, it's a great time killer and stress reliever for any puzzle game or casual game fan. Which is just what I'm looking for during the chaos of moving.

I should find the DS version today, assuming not all stores are like Fry's. I tried to find it at Fry's last night (which is located right in the middle of my old apartment and my new house), and remembered a very important lesson; for some f#@$ed up reason, Fry's will not carry any game within two weeks of it's release if it's not the "must have" game for the week. It makes no sense, but it's this type of stupidity that forced me to walk away from Fry's many times and into Best Buy or Gamestop to buy games like Castlevaia: PoR, DBZ (Wii), and Wario Ware (Wii).

Anyway, I'm very busy and stressed, so once again I am keeping it short.


Malik (3/28/07)  

...and the stupidity ensues. I don't mean with my personal station in life (moving at work and moving at home...which is annoying, but not stupid...ok, the work part is). I mean some of the following;

The new 360 Elite comes out next month. This is the rumored 360 upgrade that will basically enrage a lot of gamers for various reasons. For many, it's just the fact that you need this thing to have HDMI output from the 360, and for other people it will be how there's a black 360 (which many people seemed to care about...of course, I care more of what the console looks like on the TV than in my entertainment center). No matter how you look at it, this 120 GB HDD enabled 360 with HDMI will only confuse and annoy. It will also give Sony some extra firepower since it's bringing the 360 price tage within $20 of the PS3.

Personally, I'd rather just delete as needed than even buy the $179 120GB HDD. Afterall, Live remembers what you've bought, so unless it's a video rental, you can always download it again later for no cost. The idea of spending that much on a 120GB HDD just makes my PC-knowledgeable self rather unhappy.

On another side of things, the COO of Gamestop believes that the Wii was intentionally limited in supply by Nintendo. I don't buy this for a second for one very key reason; the casual gamers. While the hardcore geeks will stand in a long line for a Wii, if that's needed, the casual gamer will not. However, it's these casual types that are making the Wii into the blockbuster that it is. There is currently less to keep a hardcore geek interested than there is for casual types, and thus it's these casual types who are bringing in the big sales.

A great example is how so many retirement home types and retirees are getting addicted to the game systems they have always dismissed as a waste of time and/or money. I saw it happen to my parents and I've seen it happen in other cases. However, if a casual type sees a console and then introduces it to another retiree or whoever (casual gamer potential), they will want to buy one, in theory. If the supply is intentionally limited, then this will destroy such a great money making and customer base building opportunity.

The way I see it, Nintendo is fueling three or more regions (sorry Australia...but the game world sees you as more of a less than whole region) with the quickest selling console. It is not easy to meet supply this easily when you have such demand and so many places to hit. Also, while the link evades me, why is it that Nintendo is building a new factory to pump out more Wiis when they are intentionally holding back the hardware? That makes absolutely no sense. The real reason behind the limited Wiis on the market are simple; many regions, demand that surprised even Nintendo, and the fact that (while Dan DeMatteo (that COO of Gamestop) may not want to believe it) the US is not the most important region to Nintendo (instead, all regions weigh in similarly).

As for people who give these claims any credence, I just want to ask one question; since when can you trust a damned thing out of the mouth of a Gamestop employee?

On another Wii-ish note, it's amusing to see what Brian Hastings (COO of Insomniac...a third party that could not get any closer to being Sony's personal whore unless Sony finally seals the deal by buying them) says about the Wii and PS3. Especially since the PS3 is becoming more equal with the larger installed 360 every day as exclusives move on and more gamers get tired of seeing consoles that lack games. Once the major games come along for the PS3, and it will be interesting to see how many are still exclusives, Sony will have to deal with the larger install base of the 360.

Also, it should be noted that Resistance: Fall of Man was the first supposed must buy for the PS3. It was also an Insomniac game. My point in this info is simple; can we take the opinion of a pseudo-Sony mouth piece, especially when he claims the Wii will soon gather dust but he doesn't mention anything about how his "killer app" is not gathering dust?

However, I find it amusing that Hastings said that the Wii will gather dust as the casual crowd gets tired of it. Did this happen with the DS? No. The DS is a major casual gamer device, and it's still going strong with the Touch Generation games (Nintendogs, Brain Age, etc). The Wii may slow in casual gamer sales eventually (I doubt this will be major) if they are ignored, which Nintendo won't allow. However, as the hardcore gamer games come along, like Smash, Paper Mario (next month), Mario Galaxy, Metroid, Fire Emblem, and Treasure Island Z, the system will only continue to build on the dedicated gamer base. It's a win-win for Nintendo, and the only way you could dismiss the powerhouse that Nintendo has become would be if you're nothing more than a Sony puppet or how Insomniac is...hmmmm...

This economics lesson was brought to you by one very tired and worn out geek.


Malik (3/29/07)  

Another day, another chance to wish that this week would end already. Between moving my lab at work and moving my home, I just cannot find a chance for much to do to relax and unwind...besides Puzzle Quest. Big props to my mom for not only finding this elusive game, but for driving it out to me late last night so I can feel the small slim bit of fun that this game can provide while resting between moving experiences.

Once I'm done with the move, I look forward to resuming some of my lengthier fun activities, like Civ4. Which is my little transition into both mentioning that I'm going insane from the stress and to mention Firaxis's new expansion for Civ4.

Beyond the Sword should be coming in June, but my excitement is in what it includes. Yes, it has a few (five) new wonders. I really find that less than exciting of a number. It also includes a dozen new scenarios...but some were fan made, which lowers the value in my eyes (not because fans make bad content, but rather that it's not something that was as expensive for Firaxis to make).

However, I am excited about 10 new factions (civilizations) and 16 new leaders. My favorite part of a good game of Civ is when I encounter someone beyond the usual (like Ceasar, Cyrus, and Alexander) and meet someone who normally is not a common occurrence. When you have 16 new leaders and 10 new factions, this makes a more likely experience for fresh and unique games each time.

The one bit of content I could go for, but I don't see being implemented in an expansion (so it would have to wait for a Civ5) would be a more expanded technology tree. While the start of the game offers a lot of variety and unique setups for different civilizations, the end of the game is too vanilla. Everyone, no matter how they play, will always end up with the same set of technologies at the end of the game. It's not because everyone will want the same setup for their people, but rather that the game's technology tree narrows around end game despite how modern technology is far more diverse (in real life) than ancient technologies. Plus, too many things are grouped together in some unusual ways (just look at what all Plastics does in Civ4) under one technology.

Anyway, there's a great chance that I'll buy Beyond the Sword when it arrives. However, I wish there was more variety and uniqueness going into this expansion. I guess I can just keep hoping for the rumored Civ5, and keep enjoying Civ4...once my moving experiences are done.

On a final note for the week, tomorrow I lose Internet (for the move) until Saturday.  So, this is it for the week.


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