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Malik (6/02/08)

Not much to really say today. I spent the weekend playing some Rock Band and playing some real guitar. Since this isn't much to base a post upon, I don't think I'll drag this subject out any longer than saying this little bit.

On a small other note before I wrap up this tiny post, I don't think the Nintendo Wii Fit shortages are quite how analysts are seeing them.

Yes, the Euro is a lot stronger than the American dollar. However, the way this is being said (that North America is getting fewer copies of the game than Europe for just this reason) doesn't hold water all the way. On one hand, Nintendo could overcome losses from the weaker dollar by expecting higher total sales (Americans do buy a larger volume of games than most other regions due to number of gamers and number of people ready to spend economic stimulus checks). On the other hand, the Canadian dollar is pretty strong and Canada is another region that buys in North America.

If there was a definite shift to avoid weak American currency, then we'd see numbers broken down a bit more (like 100,000 of the 500,000 in North America went to the US and the other 400,000 went to Canada). I'm more in favor to believe there's far more than this than meets the analyst's eyes. For example, there could be a distribution snag, or some other hurdle in the US. When you add in the higher import prices and taxes for games in Europe (which is why Rock Band is so expensive in Europe), there isn't really more money to be made just from a stronger Euro.

Plus, when an analyst sees something as true, I have to feel less inclined to believe it just because of the usual track record of analysts. I mean analysts were saying GTA4 would have been delayed beyond the end of April due to various reasons (including that the EA buyout of Take Two was already in place). Analysts may be paid to understand trends in certain sectors, but the ones in the games sector just don't seem to have a grasp of the material they are so determined and expected to know.

Anyway, with hardware involved, 500,000 is still a nice large number of units to push to market. If anything, I'd expect this was more of a testing the waters type of thing. Americans are deemed fat and lazy, and rhythm games (the closest analogue to Wii Fit would be DDR) are not nearly as popular in the US than in Europe or Japan. I'd expect this may have played a far larger role in the shortages than a weak US dollar...I mean I keep thinking of the relatively strong Canadian dollar as a perfect example.


Malik (6/03/08)

Another Guitar Hero game is being focused on a single band. First there was Aerosmith, and now there is Metallica. On one hand, I am a Metallica long as you don't count anything beyond the self titled black album. So, this would interest me if not for one thing...

Metallica is not fun on guitar games. It's just pure insanity and difficulty on a five buttoned virtual guitar to play anything so complex. Especially this holds true when the original songs are not nearly as hard on a 20+ fretted 6 string guitar as on the video game counterpart.

More than that, I really cannot stand the way that Activision is really trying too damned hard to milk the GH name for every last possible cent. Yes, it's their right to take their property to do whatever they want with it, but it seems to tarnish the name that was once so well associated with well planned quality. Plus, it seems like it would be better to just offer this type of material as DLC for an existing game, like how Harmonix wants to do so often with Rock Band.

I've reached the point in which I hope Activision and Neversoft just destroy all credibility for the GH name. They are pumping out games like a sweat shop operation, they add false difficulty, they are stuck in a cash centric ideal (yes, all game developers/publishers want money, but you disguise it like Harmonix does to make it look, and maybe even be, a labor of love), and they seem stuck in a "me too" thought process. The once mighty and proud GH name is now looking like nothing more than a cheap two dollar whore.

On the note of Rock Band, I saw something I really enjoy the idea of at a book store yesterday. There are some people who are inspired to pick up a real instrument from the Harmonix games. There is also an ideal book to help with this, to an extent. Hal Leonard (a well respected guitar instruction and tablature publisher...although I personally hate their style of focusing on music clefs/staffs instead of tabs) has released a book of guitar tabs and sheet music for a variety of Rock Band featured songs.

While this is not nearly enough to get someone to learn the guitar, it's a fun little extra to start applying some skills that one may pick up to some songs that are easy to visually and aurally identify. I would prefer a less short-cut filled book (if you see the book in a book store, just scroll ahead to the music for Should I Stay or Should I Go and you should understand my dissatisfaction), however it's a fun little book to give out the music for easily identified songs.

This book is probably a few months old by now, but since I've just recently picked up my real world axe again, I only now noticed it. It definitely gives some credibility to people who argue against the elitist attitude that rhythm games serve no purpose and are a waste of money. It can be a good push towards learning a real instrument. It's nothing like the game equivalent, but it's still a good motivation.

Not to mention that argument that playing something like RB is worth the money just for the enjoyment and socializing that can follow.


Malik (6/04/08)

I didn't download any of the new Rock Band songs. It's not that I don't want any of them, but I've been busy with sickness and other things. After seeing the youtube videos of expert guitar I could come to two easy conclusions.

First of all, the Disturbed songs look boring. Maybe it's because it's just not my type of music, or maybe it's the note charts...actually, I think it's both. I just don't enjoy the look of the charts, the solos look very annoying, and the music itself just doesn't interest me in the slightest. So, despite the ease of getting a pre-order code from the new CD, I will not get these tracks at $1 or even two of them for free.

On the other hand, the Jimmy Buffett songs all look like fun. I know I will be getting them, but probably not until later this week. They look like pretty fun of note charts (despite being around tier three), and the songs are good nostalgia. If you grew up around anyone who enjoyed surfer or tropical culture from the 1960's or 70's, then these songs are bound to strike a chord with you. Hell, if you enjoyed Club Dread, these will still be a good pack choice for you.

Anyway, I'm still fighting the lingering effects of being sick. It's like an aftershock after a major earthquake. I always have a little something extra after being sick (usually a sinus problem), and it just doesn't lend towards fun times when you feel like throwing up every time you stand up.


Malik (6/05/08)

You can follow this link for more info, since I don't want to touch this subject too much. However, in short, Jack Thompson is looking at a recommended disbarment for ten years. On one hand, it will stop his ambulance chasing style to video game lawsuits. On the other hand, it will free up his time to look at other pursuits (like trying to push more video game censorship laws and such). Whatever...

Since I've made a tradition out of it, at least in my own mind, I'll make a prediction now for what next week will see for Rock Band DLC.

It's a little trickier than previous weeks with how we had two completely unique packs (in terms of how they relate to each other). So, my guess is going to punk or alternative. I think now would be a perfect time for some 1990's alternative songs, with maybe some Nirvana. Whatever it is, I doubt it will be from the 1980's (or at least the 1980's sound) and it will probably be nothing newer than from 2002. It will also not be overly heavy in sound, due to the Disturbed pack. It will also not be anything overly light in sound, thanks to Jimmy Buffett.

So, I'm putting my guess onto the 1990's, with something in the punk, grunge, or alternative pipelines. Either that, or it could be something even older than the rumored Rolling Stones songs.

Anyway, once again, I have little to talk about today. I still haven't tried the Jimmy Buffett songs, and I haven't even played any video games (beyond the weekly Professor Layton puzzle) since last weekend. So, I'll wrap this up for today by saying I'm glad that the Getaway sequel has been canned. I really think the first Getaway was the single worst GTA clone to enter into the gaming world.


Malik (6/06/08)

First off, Rock Band DLC for next week was announced. I don't even know what to think of this. For one thing, I've never heard of any of these songs or artists. On the other hand, it's called the MTV2 Pack, and I find MTV, MTV2, and all other MTV channels to be as relevant to quality music as FOX News is relevant to the liberal perspective in America. In other words, I will probably be skipping these tracks.

There's also a single track added in, but I see myself skipping it most likely since it's another thing I've never heard of. I will give them all the chance to show their quality on youtube charts Tuesday...but I'm not expecting much here.

At least my prediction from yesterday was 100% wrong. I didn't expect anything so new, but it does still fit in my general feeling of it not being overly heavy or old. The "not new" part, however, escaped me.

Last night I finally got a chance to download and try the Jimmy Buffett song pack on expert guitar. I would have tried drums (medium) and even singing (easy or medium), but that's another story.

The songs are all a lot more fun than I expected, even from the note charts I saw on youtube. They are nicely fast (Volcano is pretty damned fast), and have some very logical charts. They all play well and I cannot think of a better pack for pure enjoyment purposes. Plus, if you're a Buffett fan, then these are probably already in your library of DLC.

So, I didn't get a chance to try anything beyond guitar for a very lame reason; my 360 is dying. I'll probably have to spend some of my economic stimulus check on getting a new 360. I'm not talking about the red rings here...I'm talking about something more lame, in my view.

The system will load to the dashboard, but will usually stop there with some sort of error on the DVD drive. What is causing this is 360 is very quiet. How quiet? Well, the drive will not spin about 19 times out of 20. The only solution is a lot of rebooting and pulling out of the power cord. Eventually the system will work...but it takes so long that I lose a good 10 to 45 minutes each time I want to play the 360.

45 is the longest amount of minutes I've lost in this annoying process. It's also the amount of time I lost last night. This meant that I had only enough time to play the Buffett songs on guitar, along with Cherub Rock and Complete Control (my two favorite tracks for guitar). If the system loaded correctly the first time, I would have easily had time to play some drums and pick up the mic for a few songs. Sadly, it was not meant to be.

So, I think this weekend will see me entering the world of blowing extra money on a new 360. I'll also enter the annoying world of having to log in each time I play on my 360 if I want to play any DLC. Of course, now that I'm in this lame position, I foresee my internet failing on me constantly as I try to play the system.


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