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Malik (5/8/06)  

Finally, some information has come out in regards to how the Wii (I still might slip to Revolution from time to time...) will handle playing Zelda: Twilight Princess. Damn! This sounds pretty fun. 

While it was previously disclosed that the Wii would handle some bonus features for Twilight Princess (that are not found on the GCN when it's playing TP), it's finally known that it's far more impressive than anything Nintendo offered before with hidden Zelda bonuses. For example, Wind Waker offered possibly the "best" extras, which were the Tingle bonuses when using a GBA on the GCN. While that offered almost nothing useful, unless you really did need the health refills offered by Tingle, it was bonus material. 

On the other hand, TP will use the Revolution's (see? There I did it...) controller to control fishing, swordplay, and aiming a bow. Assuming the final product is as stable as Time correspondent Lev Grossman makes it sound, this could be pretty sweet. I'm just a little afraid still of what spatial mouse technology usually does (at least in the past). 

Another bit of good Wii news...THQ CEO Brian Farrell had some encouraging news about the Wii. While he avoided using actual numbers, the Wii is supposedly a good deal easier to develop games for than the competition. Why is this good news? It might mean that Nintendo's third party titles may avoid that $60 price tag that's hit the 360, and will undoubtedly hit the PS3 in about 6 months. It also might mean that more third party companies will consider sticking with the Wii than they did with the GCN. 

Anyway, tomorrow will be Nintendo's big pre-E3 press conference, and that's when we should finally see the whole story. Also, that's when we should finally get to see the first real examples of real Wii games on the prototype system. 

On a different, but related note, today is when we should start to see a large influx of demos/trailers on the 360 Marketplace.  Should is the key word.  In reality, despite Microsoft's boasts of a flood of demos, we will probably see three; Test Drive (today), Lost Planet (tomorrow), and Moto GP (Thursday).  I just hope this type of fan service improves and then holds true in future E3s for all three systems. 

On a final note before I bolt for the day, I caught MI:3 this weekend. On the good side, it's definitely better than the first two movies. It made a lot more sense than MI:1, and it was a lot less of the "Tom Cruise poses while birds fly by in slow motion" stuff that made up MI:2. Best of all, they finally brought the team aspect back into the MI environment. On the down side, I still don't know if this is really a good movie, but it is probably worth at least seeing once at a matinee price. 

I just have to wonder one thing. This is a slight spoiler, but not really...shouldn't the IMF team be disbanded already? Seriously...the bad guy in each of the MI movies has been an IMF member. It's becoming a little predictable. I also think that's how federal agencies get closed down. Look at the senate's reaction to imagine an agency that has been filled with betrayers who have risked the entire world's population on more than one occasion. 

Anyway, the movie is good enough for a single viewing, at least. Plus, it fills in this dull time for movies nicely while we wait for X3. 


Malik (5/9/06)  

This is the big one.  Today I have some thoughts on the big three pre-E3 press conferences.  I've broken it into simple to see breakdowns of the whole deal per company.  Sadly, while I try to keep it all balanced, there were some clear winners (Nintendo) and some clear losers (Sony) in this stuff.  I hate to go off sounding like a fanboy of anything, but it's hard to do when one company doesn't deliver on promises, and another does so well at going above and beyond the expectations...and then there's Microsoft pulling a few tricks of their own.


I'll try not to sound like a 360 fanboy (which I'm not...the only type of fanboy I can safely call myself is "Xenogears" or " general"), but for all of the PS3/Sony fanboys who went ape shit when the 360 launched...this is for you. 

So, the 360 launched with one version that was worthless, unless you dropped more than the price difference (between the lame and good versions) to upgrade it? That was bad? The 360 was also too pricey for the good version and the $300 price point of the Core was only so Microsoft could claim they were trying to sell at the previous generation's price point? Well....................... 

The real info that has been long awaited on the PS3 is here! However, unlike how the Sony fanboys would like to say that Sony does things nicer than Microsoft, there are some problems. First off, let's just look at the differences between last year's promises and this year's reality... 

2005 had us seeing the PS3 prototype with; 

-6 USB ports 

-3 Ethernet ports

-2 HDMI ports for... 

-Dual screen 1080p display 

2006 has us seeing; 

-4 USB (nothing too major) 

-1 Ethernet port (not too important) 

-1 HDMI port...maybe... 

-Single screen display (and in all honesty, who gives a shit about this loss?) 

However, beyond that, there's the price. Ok. The PS3 is selling for a quite low price for what was expected. It will cost $600. That's not too bad, since it will also have a 60GB HDD. However, Sony is also doing the Microsoft type thing with having a second model for $100 less. Instead of no HDD, this one will include a 20GB HDD...but there's more...oh is there more... 

The Ghetto version (let's call it that name since it fits the slum that this PS3 is compared to the $600 version) will not be able to be upgraded to the $600 version with some extra money. It is an entirely different system with an entire set of lacking features that are hard-wired in. First off, the HDMI (required for true HD playback of Blu-ray movies) is gone. Yes. The Ghetto PS3 will not allow 720 or 1080 resolutions for Blu-ray movies since it will lack the HDCP compliant video output! On top of that, those flash, memory stick, and SD card readers are gone. So, that whole idea of using portable media (maybe for game save transfers...don't know if there were intended with the card ports) is gone! On top of all of that, the WiFi is out on the Ghetto version. 

So, for the Sony fanboys who went ape shit about the 360 coming in a substandard edition, I'm sorry to say it, but Sony is doing this same thing with a lot more disrespect to the poorer side of gamers, since these lost features can never be reinstated with some extra money down the line. In fact, Sony has been touting the PS3 as some uber machine since it will help to propel Blu-ray movies, and since Blu-ray movies will help to propel the PS3...well, the $500 Ghetto PS3 begs to differ. 

On a different note in that say field, the controller has been further detailed to be motion sensitive. I wonder why this wasn't mentioned before...oh wait! I think I know! Why innovate (let's face it, besides Live, neither Sony or Microsoft have done much of that for a good long time...if ever) when you can get Nintendo to do it for you? Also, with the Wii...I mean motion sensitive feature included, vibration is out. I would have, in the past, said vibration is over-rated anyway, but recently with better racing games (in particular) I've come to enjoy feeling the road under my virtual tires. 

Most of all, however, I have to comment on the price. I am glad to see that Sony is not running at a 3D0 price ($700), but I have to feel a bit bad about $600 for the real system. Also, it's not quite the 3D0 price, but...DAMN! That's still a very hefty chunk of change. First off, the $500 Ghetto system is a joke. I don't mean like how Microsoft's Core 360 was a joke. At least the Core could be upgraded with some small investments (and one large $100 investment for the HDD). The Ghetto PS3 is never going to be able to be upgraded, since it's missing actual outputs/inputs. These cannot be reinstalled in the future. So, for any kids out there who want a PS3 for Christmas...I just want to say you need to go f#@% yourself since no kid should get a $600 item for Christmas or any other gift giving holiday. I'm sorry to sound like an old man, but that is just not right. Secondly, however, if you are a spoiled brat who will get one for Christmas, I suggest you are very specific with your parents, since the last thing I want to see in December are a bunch of message boards filled with whining posts about getting the Ghetto PS3. In fact, Sony, you guys need to stop this joke before it goes too far. If the system only lacked some accessories, it would be one thing, but these Ghetto PS3s will be on the market and will end up in homes...with limited features. 

Another note on the price...I hate to see the day when the price of a new console is actually reaching the $600 mark. This is not a good sign. It's also a sign of how the future is going...the prices will keep jumping up as Sony tries to cram more stuff into a game machine (it's not an "Entertainment Super Computer"...It's a game system). The PS4, in about 5 years, will probably go through the same thing, and it will becomes even more expensive and oppressive to the working stiffs who appreciate the importance of the word "budget". In fact, it's really a shame that the prices of the big three consoles are going to be so damned far apart. 

In the end, I really hope that the PS3 suffers a bit from the Ghetto version and the huge price. I don't necessarily want to see it fail, but I do want to see it suffer and become either even with the 360, or maybe even lower in sales. I mainly say this since many kids (and adults) cannot afford a $600 system (that's about $650 in many tax bearing areas), it's not right for a good number of the better exclusive games to be PS3 exclusives. However, many third party developers will not consider a jump to the 360 as long as Sony is the top dog. 

Also, the launch date for this new and still frail technology (I say that since it means supplies will be limited) will be November 17th in the US. That's not bad...oh wait! The Japanese date is November 11th, and Europe and Australia are both also getting it on the 17th. If anyone thought the supply of the PS2 or even the 360 was limited at launch, you ain't seen nothing yet! These will not be a PS3 to be seen, except to the first batch of pre-orders, for a good 6-8 months. Get ready to do some waiting, if you feel inclined to spend $600 of a game system. 

On a final note of PS3 bashing (and I'm sorry, but all of this news is pretty damned weak and encourages bashing), I feel sorry for Europe. 599 Euros may not sound to many of us on the US side of the big pond, but that is some major money. That, as of right now, is more than $760 (American/US dollars). Holy shit! Also, if you were wondering, Japan is not getting a break on things either, with the Ghetto version running about $536 (in US dollars). 

Not as someone who wants to bash Sony (even if they make faulty pieces of shit that cost too much for how they always break right after the warrantee ends), but I can tell you which console(s) I'm getting in November...and it has the retarded name of Wii. 

To end on the only really good note I could find in all of this...the batarang controller is finally gone.  The final controller, in all of it's Nintendo stealing glory, will be like a traditional PSX/PS2 controller in it's layout.


I'll probably have more to post on this tomorrow, but the Nintendo press conference sounded tight. For one thing, the final secret of the Revol...Wii controller was revealed at long last. It will be a speaker in the controller. While this seems a bit...ummm...strange, the actual use of it sounds pretty tight. It will give an extra bit of surround sound. For example, in Zelda, when you fire the bow, you will be able to hear the bow shoot right next to your head. This is bound to be an interesting surprise in the long run for Wii games. 

Another interesting development in Nintendo's strategies include launching two versions of Twilight Princess, simultaneously. One version, for the GCN, will be just what we've come to expect. The other version will be fore the Wii and will probably offer nearly identical game play and visuals, but will offer more of the Wii game play mechanics (motion). Best of all, for the first time, Zelda is going to be a launch title. 

Speaking of which, Nintendo is still going the more traditional of routes with the Wii release. In other words, there's no word of the exact launch date (quarter 4 is all we get...for now) or price. However, I think it's safe to say that we'll see the Wii right before the major day after Thanksgiving holiday (like how the DS and the GCN both name a couple systems), and I'd bet good money on a $250 price tag...maybe lower, but nothing higher. 

As for online stuff, the Wii will include "Wii Connect" which will keep the system online 24 hours a day. This should offer a constant supply of updates, without causing interruptions to normal game play. In other words, while you are sleeping, etc, you can expect the system to constantly be in contact with Nintendo. Also, for what it's worth, the Wii will use Opera as a browser. 

Beyond this stuff, the news was good, but typical. There will be almost 30 games for the Wii that are playable on the E3 floor. There will be a sports game on the Wii that will include tennis, baseball, and golf that will be a launch title. In other words, this all just sounds pretty sweet. 

You may be wondering why I bashed Sony so much and left Nintendo unharmed...well, if you think it's from fanboyism, you couldn't be more wrong. This all comes down to Nintendo delivering what they promised, and then giving some more. Meanwhile, Sony removed promised features and content, raised the bar for console prices (at least from mainstream console makers), and are offering a stripped down console to try to sound less expensive, that can't even be complimented to full functionality in the end. In other words, while Nintendo delivers a good vision of future gaming, Sony is offering an expensive world of...debt. Also, might I add that the PS3 will be bigger than the original XBox... 


Once more into the breach...this time it's Microsoft's turn

First off, this is what made me the happiest of all of the gaming news today; GTA IV will not be PS3 exclusive. It will launch simultaneously on both the PS3 and the 360. This means for those of us who don't want to spend over $600 for a new system, that the $400 option will exist with the 360. It will also mean that we will no longer have the old style of a GTA coming to a non-Sony system only after a year or so has passed in the Sony release. On top of that, there are rumors of potential episodic content being released via Live for Rockstar games (including, hopefully, GTA IV). For a GTA fan like myself, this is some of the best news I've heard all day. 

Also, there's a bit of info about Gears of War. Let's just say that this game sounds tight. I am not a FPS fan, but even I can't help but droll over the descriptions blogged about on Gamespot. Between the scope of the game, and the small details (like heat vapors causing optical effects after a gun fires)! 

Also, some more games have been announced as official. This includes Forza 2, Fable 2 (which has a web site), and mother f#@&in' Shadowrun! Plus a total of around 160 games should be out on the 360 before the end of 2006. If this holds up to be true, the fears of many 360 owners can be put to rest (the main fear being how there are not many games officially in the release schedule for 2006). 

On other small bits of news, the HD-DVD player add-on will be ready for the 360, supposedly, around the holiday season. Also, there will be a lot more Arcade games coming soon, including support from Sega (Sonic) and some random old school arcade games (Contra, Ultra Mortal Kombat 3, etc), which will probably undergo some enhancement (probably visual, more than anything else). Plus, Blue Dragon will be in Japan this year, and hopefully we can see it in the US not too long afterwards. Oh...and Halo 3 is official. 

It doesn't sound like there was anything ground breaking in terms of new hardware, but the overall software picture is looking good for Microsoft. Plus, with the new support of Rockstar, and the episodic content thing (holy shit!), the 360 is looking like a far better competitor in the console battles than the XBox was. 


Malik (5/10/06)  

Once again, Sega is preparing an old classic franchise for the new generation of hardware. This time, it will be Golden Axe that will horribly mutilated beyond recognition. 

If Sega wants to be taken seriously, they really need to f#@% off with taking a classic franchise, with a classic style of game play, and turning it into something entirely new. They did it with Sonic (let's face it, are the 3D Sonics ever going to be on par with something as grand as Sonic 3 & Knuckles? No!), Shining Force (action RPG my ass...more of a horrible mutilation than a revamp of a classic), and now Golden Axe will become an action-RPG. Wow. I know the original definitely called out to me to be changed into something different (/sarcasm). 

If Sega wants to bring back these old games, the first solution is to treat them the same as the classics that did so well. For example, why don't we have a new Shining Force that is a tactical RPG? There's no reason for Shining Force to have become a horrible Zelda clone. Sonic? Give me 2D (like the new DS Sonic) any day of the week. Phantasy Star? If any game could be brought in as serious competition against the behemoth Square Enix RPGs, this is the franchise. In fact, I demand a new PS game that follows the old ways! Golden Axe? Actually, this series is a special piece of nostalgia for many, but the franchise is ready to sleep. 

On a different note, I wish I could give some impressions of the new content on the XBox Live Marketplace. I really wish I could. However...well, let me start at the beginning. So, yesterday, I started to download some trailers and the Lost Planet demo at around 3:30. I should be able to download a dozen trailers and a single less than 400MB demo with no problems. My Internet connection is solid, my PC was not using any of the bandwidth (at least not until the new Bleach episode was ready), and I kept a careful eye on things so that a new demo/trailer would be downloading as soon as the previous one finished. Well, I got most of them by the time I went to sleep around 11. I even left the system on for half the night while the final item I queued up was downloading. In the end, I'm still a couple short. 

The point of that story is this; Microsoft has shown, even with being in the online content business for several years, that they are not fully ready. The downloads were slow, a 100MB trailer would require up to an hour. This is not how an online service should be ran. Microsoft should have seen this bottleneck coming (since they announced massive E3 downloads in advance), and they should have prepared. I just hate to think of how the PS3 online service will look, with how Sony has no preparedness. Anyway, I'll try to finish yesterday's downloads when I am ready to post this, but then I'll probably have a fresh set of new downloads to slow things to a halt. 

Also, if you are interested, Gamespot has some info on Halo 3. I honestly don't care all that much. I enjoyed Halo, but Halo 2 just took me out of the action. I really could care less when there are so many more innovative and exciting of titles. If I gave in to FPS enjoyment more, I know I'd be going ape shit over Gears of War before Halo 3. Plus, with trailers like MGS4, how can anyone still give more than a passing glance to Halo 3? 

More than anything, I think the info on the Wii lineup is what is grabbing my attention the most. For one thing, these games encompass all genres, from the start. These are just the first batch of announced titles, and they even include one of those RPGs that the N64 and GCN were so afraid of! There's Bomberman, family games, serious hardcore action (Red Steel), Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy (yeah...I's still Crystal Chronicles...), Monkey Ball, Trauma Center, a simulation game, Call of Duty overload of awesome games/genres/franchises. I think it's safe to say that the Wii's future is definitely looking a hell of a lot brighter than the GCN or N64, and it's looking like Nintendo is ready to return to the mainstream. Booyah! 

When you toss in the impressions that the Gamespot people had of the Wii controller, it all sounds too good. The one thing I have to wonder about is how will Nintendo handle power. While AA batteries sound nice and simple, the added speaker, motion sensors, etc, leave me wondering if the charge will last nearly as long as the battery life of the Wavebird controller. Also, will they consider some sort of recharge option, like how the DS, SP, or ever Microsoft offers with their charge kits (for the 360 wireless controller)? Since Nintendo was one of the pioneers of rechargeable batteries in games (SP), I hope they consider going this route. I know I'd rather plug the controller into the wall, or the Wii, rather than go through batteries like candy. Plus, with how addictive and easy to get into the Wii sounds, I know I will burn through charged controllers like they were nothing. 

Anyway, the concept of the button designs and the inclusion of the Opera browser in the Wii software leave me with another thought; is Nintendo planning on offering a web based online service that has some more intelligence to it than the horrible layout of the Live Marketplace? I seriously hope so. I also hope Microsoft wakes up and reorganizes the Marketplace soon...since with all the additional material coming out this week, that place is becoming a labyrinth of epic proportions. 

Anyway, I personally enjoy this time of year for one simple reason; it offers me a chance to think about how the consoles makers (and game developers) may pull things off. It lets me feel really warm and fuzzy for a short bit before reality sets in. For example, how the Wii controller will be great...and then I will face reality in November when the batteries die every few days. It's how I like to do things in my mind. I'm just that anal and bitchy. 


Malik (5/11/06)  

F#@% YEAH!!! Now this is what I've been waiting for. If you're too lazy to click, that's a link to the Super Smash Bros. Brawl trailer. Holy shit, this game will rock. On top of the fact that a new Smash is always damned good, there's some news (in the trailer) of some of the new characters. Pit, Metaknight, Wario (meh), a new Samus (meh), and Solid Snake! Hot damn! Considering that Nintendo will usually have a good few hidden characters, there should be plenty more to find once the game comes out! This will be tight! 

According to Gamespot, the game will be coming in 2007. I just really hope this means the game will be here in the very first days of 2007, because I know of too many people (including myself) who NEED this game as soon as f#@%ing possible. 

Also, the Gamespot link told of some possible future revelations for Wii games. Namely, if games will include better resolutions for features like Widescreen. It sounds like widescreen will definitely be possible, and it will be up to the game developers, not Nintendo, on if that feature is implemented. Plus, while I'm talking of Wii features, a light gun was shown off. So far, I think the Wii is making more than a lasting impression with E3. I hope this type of good news keeps coming. 

On the other side of things, I finally checked out some of the new 360 trailers last night. I'm still trying to download them all, but the Live connection is so damned slow right now. Like I said before, Microsoft didn't plan the bandwidth side of things nearly enough for this week. I haven't had a chance to play online on Live for a while, and I think, with these bandwidth issues, that my lack of Live usage is for the best. 

Anyway, from the trailers I've watched, there's not much to really say. Most of the titles look pretty weak. There are a couple that should be interesting, but only the Shadowrun trailer really grabbed my attention. Sorry to say it, but I can't help but feel bored by constant input of FPS and sports. I've had enough with Halo, Gears of War, Forza, Moto GP, and the like. I want some new and fun games. I think that's why the Wii is looking so damned good right about now. 

However, I can say, while the game is not one I'd get, Smackdown vs. RAW (or is that RAW vs. Smackdown? Meh...) looks really nice in the visual department. Of course that's going off of a cinematic and not in game visuals... 

Speaking of which, while the PS3 is showing off some impressive looking things, they really need to give some in game demos. I have seen the MGS4 trailer enough times to know it by memory (not by choice...rather because it's been forced down my throat a little too much), and the 8 Days trailer looks interesting...but where are some in game visuals? Where is the in game visuals for anything? The amount of cut scene/cinematic visuals (which will always look good) we've seen compared to in game visuals is ridiculous. I can't really get too excited about a $600 (before tax, games, extra controllers, blah, blah) system when I still have not seen what it will let me DO (as opposed to what I can watch). 

Anyway, to shift topics again, the Moto GP demo hits Live today. I still haven't tried the Lost Planet demo (since the 360 really needs the ability to download trailers/demos in the background, rather than locking up system use...hint, hint, Microsoft). I'll try to get to it soon. However, for the time being, my 360 is locked down by slow as shit downloads. 


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