Well, I obviously had no
post on Friday. I actually had something prepared (wow...that sounds
like an excuse that I'd use in high school), but things turned a bit
different than I expected. I went to the concert on Friday that I
counted on, but I was just too tired at the end of the night to do
anything more than collapse in bed. I didn't count on The Aquabats
rocking so damned hard! If there is any one band that can go beyond
the call of duty at a concert, it's The Aquabats.
For the most part,
the stuff I had prepared for Friday wasn't too important in the
grand scheme of things. I had some thoughts on the PS3 controller
(it's not really stealing from Nintendo, since the tilt technology
was in controllers on the PC from Microsoft before the Wii
controller was ever shown...although adding this technology right
now is an obvious indication that they are trying to ride on
Nintendo's efforts as an easy way to get some attention), and a bit
of news that the highly anticipated Frame City Killer is now
the highly canceled Frame City Killer...a shame considering how
hyped that game was.
Also, on new info,
this is really funny. NCSoft is threatening to not only boycott
E3 next year, but they are supposedly thinking of planning a "party"
really close to E3. Why? Because of childish behavior from all...
it's more of Sega sounding like whiney brats, and then NCSoft coming
back by acting the same. Supposedly, Sega personnel were waiting on
their shared border with NCSoft's booth at E3. They were armed to
the teeth with decibel meters. As soon as NCSoft broke the noise
requirements of E3 (done skillfully by having live music...since
Tabula Rasa and Mutaytor go together like...ummmm...how is Mutaytor
tied in with Tabula Rasa? I'm probably not alone in wondering this.
Anyway, the Sega people, according to NCSoft, were waiting for noise
infractions and then ran to ESA (who runs E3) with noise complaints.
So, then NCSoft was fined $5000 for breaking the rules. To which,
Fred Schmidt (one of NCSoft's VPs) responded by threatening to hold
a "party" next year away from E3, because they are just too damned
cool (my words...with plenty of sarcasm) for this group.
IF Sega did have
people waiting for an infraction by using decibel meters, and IF
they ran to ESA with complaints of noises that were really close to
the allowed limits (and would thus be non-discernable from allowable
levels), THEN Sega would be acting pretty pettily. However, this
whole NCSoft behavior smacks of juvenile attention grabbing.
However, the thing I find amusing is that NCSoft simply doesn't have
enough clout in America to take the American game conference and
threaten a boycott. That would be like an employee in the mailroom
of some major corporation threatening to boycott work because he's
not allowed to use his iPod while working. Now, if Sega, Nintendo,
blah, blah, were planning to boycott E3, that may be
newsworthy...instead of sounding like a little kid who's in need of
keeping things short today. I managed to mess up my back yesterday
(the perils of trying to fit a 45,000 BTU grill into the back of a
Corolla...it does work, but not too well...and in several
trips...and a pulled muscle or two...but...yeah...), and it's making
it hard to sit in front of a keyboard.
It's going to be one
hell of a crazy week. My interviews (for finding a better day job)
are keeping me on the verge of insanity. I had one yesterday, and
then tomorrow I get to have my first one that requires getting
cleared by their security prior to entering the building. It's like
getting an interview with some federally controller center...only
it's a standard issue lab in the private sector. Anyway, I'll try to
not let it interfere with my postings, but we never know...
New Super Mario
Bros should be out today in most regions. By that, I mean that the
"date" is today for the game, which means some stores will have it,
and some will be shipping it today. As a word of advice, if you live
near a Fry's, that should be the place to get it (about $10
I don't know if
I'll get the game tonight, since I didn't bother with pre-ordering
the game, and I get off work after many of the soccer moms have
already picked it up for their spoiled little brats...I mean special
and precious children. Either way, I should have some impressions
pretty soon, as in the next couple of days. However, the
shown by Nintendo are nothing short of awe inspiring. On top of
reviews have been looking
really solid so far.
I think this
should be the perfect example of what has been missing from the
gaming world, and what we will probably not see too much of in the
future; 2D side scrolling, old-school fun. In fact, if it wasn't for
the DS and the GBA both having so much of a fan base and just barely
limited technology, we would probably be done with 2D platformers by
now...despite how they are still serving up the most solid gaming
If you look at
many of the most popular and influential games in the platformer/adventure
genres, you'd usually see the games going downhill as 3D is forced
upon them. However, at the same time, the people with big voices
(the publishers and the heads of development studios) tend to be of
a mind set that defies explanation; always push the envelope
technologically rather than pushing the entertainment value of
games. This is why we had one of the best games in history,
Castlevania SotN, as the last great non-portable entry in it's
franchise, despite numerous sequels that followed.
Despite how 2D
games don't fill whole CDs (not to mention DVDs), and they are
usually quicker to program, they still hold some valuable lessons to
learn from. While not all 3D transitions are completely bad (Mario
Sunshine and Mario 64 were both good fun), they just don't live up
to the 2D games of the past. I know if I had one Mario, it would not
be a 3D one, one Castlevania would not be 3D, one Sonic would not be
3D, or one of any other game that forced the transition.
In fact, this
sorta ties in to what I'm loving about the Wii...Nintendo is not
pushing technology or visuals, but rather they are trying to push
pure enjoyment. That is what we need right now more than anything,
as the market gets clouded with imitators, poor excuses for tech
demos, and other half-assed attempts to make a quick buck (EA and
Ubi...looking right at you when I say that), it might be time for
more companies to reevaluate their roots and see if they can
pinpoint the moment when games when from being fun to being pretty.
Anyway, I think I
jumped subjects a few too many times right there. Long story short,
to finish on another random subject shift, if you have a flat tire,
Les Schwab is a great place to get it fixed since they will do it
Random thoughts to start
things off. First of all, I'm glad to see that with the TV
commercial for New Super Mario Bros, that Nintendo is being smart
enough to mainly show game play. While the Smash Melee
commercial was awesome (the one with Yoshi, Mario, etc, all holding
hands and skipping in a park when they start to brawl), the modern
trend in game commercials is getting pretty weak. Either you
have completely irrelevant imagery for a good deal of the game (like
many DS commercials) and then a second of actual game play, or you
have what I like to call "the CoD process". This would be when
some cut scenes, or even CGI visuals not from the actual game, are
shown for the entire commercial. Hell, Activision even got
sued in Europe over the CoD commercials.
So, when NSMB has
ads that arre nothing more than series of video from the actual game
being played, I am glad. It makes me remember the glory days,
when all video game commercials would show more of the game and less
of the fluff (except certain
George Plimton randomness...scroll down a ways...). What a
time to have been alive for...sigh...
Anyway, to get
more focused, I did get NSMB yesterday. And I did play a shit
ton of the game between last night and up until this is posted (my
game is on pause as I type). It is, to be succinct about it,
great. It's not the best Mario ever (I personally hold World
and Bros 3 as the best of the series/franchise). It still is
definitely one of the better Mario games, which is saying it's
freakin' sweet as opposed to just being good fun.
However, I am a
little sad at some of the problems with the game...yes, there are
problems. The biggest problem I have is the timer. While
timers are nothing new in Mario games, I think it should be done
away with. However, failing that, let's at least make them
reasonable. I had never honestly ran out of time on a Mario
stage in any game, ever. That was until last night...I have
now lost about 10 lives from the timer running out. While I
may be a little slow on some levels (there are hidden exits and
items, like in World), some of them just don't give you any room to
Another issue I
have is that the worlds are pretty linear. Unlike World, in
which many hidden areas existed, most of the hidden places in NSMB
are just toadstool houses (to get items from, like in Mario 3).
There are only around one or two hidden bonus stages per world in
this one. Also, to make things a bit more frustrating, you
have no indication of which stage holds the secret exits to find the
hidden areas from. It's nothing too serious, but it is a minor
annoyance in this game.
that, the game is quite solid. The physics (once you get used
to them), the visuals, and the audio are all top notch, and the
levels are great fun. Overall, the game is a great addition to
the franchise, and the new elements (like the three new powerups)
Well, I am posting
early, and being more abrupt today since I have too much to do.
PS3 launch info is making it into the pipeline, now that E3 is
over. While most of it is weak and obvious information, some of it
can paint a rather vivid picture of what the holiday season will
look like for the PS3.
In fact, from how
it sounds, the PS3 will have a pretty bland holiday season. It's not
that surprising since the first few months (or even the first year)
of a console's life is usually weak and unimpressive. It was true
for the XBox, the PSX, the PS2, the 360, blah, blah. There is rarely
any launch that carries any real blockbusters (notice the "s" on the
end of "blockbusters"). We may occasionally have a Halo, or
a...actually it's pretty rare for even a single blockbuster to
appear at launch.
Anyway, the PS3 is
expecting "up to 15" launch titles...which, in time, will turn into
something like 10-12...and then it may even be reduced to a single
digit count. This is just common sense. Games get delayed, games get
canceled, and life moves forward.
However, the most
important bit of info I found was how the development kits are not
in the hands of many developers, yet. This means that instead of
these companies trying to force a poorly developed launch title on
the market (for the initial install time frame), they will either be
delayed or will be just flat out horrible in quality. For example,
look at a lot of 360 launch titles...most of them were nothing short
of half-assed attempts to make previous generation games on a next
generation platform (like with Madden, Gun, THAW, PDZ, etc).
On another note,
a take by DFC Intelligence (one of those analyst groups...as if
there's not enough being said by analysts) on the price issue of the
PS3. I seriously don't see their prediction (of the industry being
hurt by the higher system price) as carrying much merit. If you look
at the 360, you may have seen some people buy it for $400 (or $300),
but not that many did when you look at the bigger picture and how
much people were willing to be gouged.
eBay carried 360s
for well over $1000, Gamestop had bundles going for over $1000, and
some stores were even going well above the MSRP. Why? Because we
(not as in you specifically, or myself...but consumers as a whole)
would be willing to put a dent on our credit cards for a new system.
The same will happen with the PS3. We will buy it (once again, not
me...but consumers will), and we will go crazy for it.
In fact, we live
in a credit friendly society. We also live in a society that looks
at a new piece of technology as more than the sum of it's parts, but
also as a status symbol, an "investment" (that always cracks me
up...like a PS3 is some collectors coin or plate or some lame shit),
and as a necessity. The system will sell, and it will sell out.
While some may just want it for the Blu-ray movie player, not many
will fall into that group. Most will buy the "game" system and these
people will buy games.
To say the $600
price tag will hurt the industry is a nice thought (since it would
limit support from developers for future $500+ consoles), but it's
not the reality of the situation. On top of that, no matter how
expensive, faulty, or frustrating that Sony electronics become, they
are (for some unknown reason) a trusted brand with a lot of loyalty
in their customer base. Sony may take a small hit, but it won't be
seen until the final numbers are counted in 5+ years, and the
industry won't even had known anything was amiss.
Personally, I'm happy
with Windows XP. It's the first Windows OS that has not failed me on
more occasions than it helped me. It's the most logical of
Microsoft's OSes, and it's the most user friendly. In fact, I've
actually taken a new appreciation of Microsoft from XP. On the other
hand, Vista is around the corner (well, right now it's more of
"around the corner, down the block, and the first driveway on the
left" with it's 2007 release date).
I really am
skeptical about Vista. For one thing, I don't know much of the
details, but I do know that the "3D Desktop" concept seems like some
nerdy attempt to bring Star Trek to our PCs. I really don't see what
type of benefits I'd get from Vista. In fact, from the limited
information available, I think the only really important changes
Vista will offer are to 360 owners (with the "Live Anywhere" thing
to play multiplayer 360 games with PC users if they have the same
game...with the PC version) and those who wanted the Media Connect
(mainly 360 owners) but never had Windows XP MCE 2005.
I mention this
whole thing because Microsoft has released some of
the requirements for Vista. I'm not too happy about this, to
tell the truth. If this is supposed to be a OS, and not just an
attempt to make a gaming platform, I seriously wonder about
requiring a 64+MB GPU. I know of a good deal of people who are not
gamers, but like using XP on their PCs. I also know that any attempt
to tell these people that they should upgrade their video cards is
usually met with strong resistance, and the best these people ever
have even considered is a 32MB card. So, if 64MB video cards will be
the minimum, I know that Microsoft is going to make a few unhappy
In fact, beyond
everything, I know of a lot of institutions (like my current
employer, the college I graduated from, etc) that are firm believers
in running the oldest and most decrepit computers possible. The
computer I use at work makes my home computer look awesome...I don't
mean my current PC (which would smoke my work machine), but the PC I
had about 8 years ago, when my work PC was new. I also know that
these same groups have a strong love of running the latest OS
What this means
for Microsoft is that these groups are cash-cows. However, they will
all return Vista so fast that it would make Microsoft's head spin
when they see they have to upgrade their video cards (which would
amount to turning their PCs, in their eyes, into gaming machines).
In a nut shell, this type of requirement is going to alienate a lot
of potential Vista purchasers. In fact, I will be more hesitant to
upgrade, just because higher requirements usually mean more room for
problems and incompatibility issues.
Anyway, that's my
hung-over rant about Vista. I really don't get the direction that
Microsoft is trying to head in. I think they are making some weird
choices and that these could alienate some of their customer base.
Last night I
finished New Super Mario Bros. I wish I could be more excited, but
this game has almost no replay value. True, a lot of Mario games had
the same issue, but this one is ridiculous in how little I feel
compelled to play anymore. On one hand, the 2 player versus mode is
not my cup o' tea. I like co-op, and I really don't like the idea of
Mario being always violent towards Luigi, if you catch my meaning.
Why can't the brothers get along. Secondly, I had Mario 64 DS (ok, I
still do have it). I have those mini-games, and I actually enjoyed
them for a long time...for several months...but then again, I got
tired of them about a year or so before NSMB was released. They are
old, and if Nintendo wanted to do things right, they would have had
some new mini-games and tried some originality.
I'll try to write
up a review (I mean it this time) for NSMB in the coming week. I did
enjoy the game, but I feel like some elements of the game have been
overlooked in the average reviews.
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