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Malik (6/05/06)  

Another new week is upon us. This doesn't necessarily mean too much. There isn't much in the way of new games hitting anytime soon. At least, I should say, there are no important or hyped new games really hitting this week.

However, one thing a new week does mean to us is that if you own a 360, it'll probably be another week of Microsoft failing to bring about the Live update that was due last week. It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for Microsoft hinting/promising this update sometime last week. Also, it wouldn't be so bad if it was just "another" update...instead it's an update that includes many of the features we should have seen with the original Live for the 360.

I have to wonder who didn't think, during the 360's development, that a download queue would be an important thing. It's probably the same people who didn't think that seamless downloads in the background while the gamer uses the system for much better things (gaming) was all that important. This is probably all related, in some sick way, to the same people who decided to offer connectivity for MCE 2005 despite how MCE is only found by some shady OEM sources or from a brand new computer purchase. If one was a conspiracy theory nut, this would be absolute paradise for them (hint: it would go from Microsoft to computer manufacturers to the less respectable sources for OEM MCE 2005...and then some).

Anyway, I am not going to hold my breath on this update. It will come eventually. It's been demoed to several game news sites/magazines, and it is real. The only real question is when Microsoft will release it...and considering Microsoft's track record of delays, it could be any day now...even a year from now. So, it'll come when it comes, and that's all there is to say on that least until it's released and can be evaluated and enjoyed.

Satoru Iwata recently had some interesting things to say about the Wii in a Japanese news interview. It is really refreshing, while we listen to the same stale "who's console is bigger?" crap from Microsoft and Sony, to hear an opinion that isn't about size or abilities. In fact, the more I hear about the Wii, the more I can't help but feel like a kid again.

To me, feeling like a kid means one important thing; fun games. When I was younger (think about the NES/SNES generations), all that ever really mattered in games were how much fun one could have with them. It wasn't about who's visuals looked better, who's HDD was bigger, or who had the greatest CPU/GPU. It was all about having a system, and then getting games for it. Period.

To hear Iwata's thoughts on the Wii, and also some of the logic behind the idea of having the Wiimote (as most are now calling the controller) really makes me feel like this fall will be a great time to be a geek.

While I had some doubts for a long time about the motion sensor technology (considering how it's failed in the past so many times), I think, until I play the actual Wii, that the comparison to the DS's dual screens is a great thing to relax my mind. Afterall, I was one of the more outspoken of people about the stupidity of the dual screens...until I played the DS. I think the same thing will be true about the Wiimote...once I use it, I imagine most of my fears will be laid to rest.

It's also interesting to see that Nintendo is not making a system for technophiles. I say this as a technophile, might I add. The extra speaker in the Wiimote? Not everyone has 5.1, 6.1, 7.1, or whatever else surround sound systems, and this will give a small touch of such technology, but without the price. As for the always connected online hear that it will allow downloads of DS demos without any real hassle or need for a DS download/WiFi station is awesome.

In a nut shell, it sounds a lot like Nintendo is doing all the right things by removing the complications of the high end technology found in the competition. I think it really takes the type of company that Nintendo has become to see that gaming is not supposed to be an elitist's an open invitation party for all who want to join in and have a little fun.

The only part of what Iwata said that annoys me is this crap about how "Nintendo is not working on a next-generation console." Whatever. To say the Wii is not next generation is like how the DS has been called not next-gen for the Gameboy line. It's all about putting lame titles and names on something when there are already existing terminology for it. The Wii is next-gen. The DS is the sequel to the GBA. Most of all, the PS3 is a game system (and not a freakin' "entertainment supercomputer"). Titles means nothing, but denial of them only means the company/party involved is in denial about something.


Malik (6/06/06)  

If you haven't seen so yet...he's back. I won't even go into this too much, except for one quote...

"Nobody shoots anybody in the face unless you're a hit man or a video gamer,"

If you couldn't tell, that would be from the wonderful man who will bring about all of our salvations via his wonderful skills in censorship (/sarcasm). Yes, Jack Thompson.

Like I said, I wouldn't normally try to touch this, but I have to wonder about the flat out stereotyping and generalizing he is doing about that whole comment. Seriously, are the hitmen of the world going to stand for that (/sarcasm).

In all reality, this is the real reason he should no be listened to by the general populace; the flat out closed-minded attitude he has about a group of normal and average people (gamers). Also, if a suspect for a crime is in the teenage range, I can say without a 90% certainty that the teen will have video games in his/her home...and since many of the most popular and more entertaining games are rated M, they will most likely be M rated.

To completely shift gears, I guess what I complained a bit about yesterday may not be worth complaining about anymore. Microsoft is now saying that the 360 update, with a shit-ton of new features, will be out in typical Microsoft fashion, it's out today.

All of the features in the update are sounding pretty solid, but I still have an important question; why was this stuff not included about 8 months ago when the 360 launched? Some of the things would take time to locate and analyze to find that they needed improving, but other features (download manager, fast forward in trailers, etc) really should have been out from day one.

My big question, however, is if the download menus are smoother. I don't just mean reorganized to be easier to find things, but better short descriptions to know which trailer is 720 versus 480, for example. I personally hate looking at multiple trailer listings to just find the one I should've known already to download it. If this doesn't make sense, then you don't have a 360, or you don't use Live. However, in a nut shell, the descriptions of downloadable content is usually fine until it's something with a large name, and then the important parts (display resolution, etc) are cut off until you manually inspect each possible downloadable item.

I guess the real knowledge of this stuff will be determined today...however, I shall not be posting some thoughts on it tomorrow...a day, which I might add, will also include no post of any sort from me (I'll be a The Street's concert and won't be home until who knows how late).

On a final note before I wrap things up, I saw "Metal: A Headbanger's Journey" this last weekend. While not all of you may be metal fanatics, I am willing to bet you probably know at least one metalhead in your life. If you do, you owe it to yourself (and to your metalhead friends/family members) to see this movie. On top of that, even if you don't know any metalheads, this is a great inside look into a lifestyle that (much like gaming) has gotten a lot of bad press without any real reason (not counting Norwegian Black Metal). Most importantly, this movie has unintentional comedy just dripping from every pore.

Well, I'm out until Thursday.


Malik (6/07/06)  

Despite my previous plans, it looks like I'm posting today (as if I need to say that when the post is right in front of your eyes). Turns out the concert starts a little bit later than I thought.

I had a little time to tinker around with the Live update for the 360. I didn't have enough time to witness a fraction of the 150+ improvements, or whatever they are saying. Of course, most improvements are things that happen behind the screen, so you wouldn't really notice something like better synching of audio and video after extended pausing on DVD playback unless you're in the habit of letting your 360 play DVDs and having it paused for extended periods of time.

As for the two most obvious and talked about upgrades (the download manager and the reorganization of the downloadable content menus)...well, they are a damned bit nicer than the old methods. The download manager, in particular, is nice. However, I wish you had the option to delay a download at the top of your active downloads list so you can quickly download a small item (such as gamer pics, themes, blah, blah) before downloading that 1GB demo that's slowing down the whole process and is limiting your list of 6 downloads. However, that's probably something Microsoft will give us in a future update, after they ensure that the download manager is working up to par.

The menus in the Marketplace are definitely better than before...however, I still feel like I'm working a little too hard to find the content I want. It's like going from DOS to Windows 3.1. It's a bit easier for most to navigate the Win 3.1 menus, but it still is not as simply as the methods used in Win XP. I feel like the Marketplace is still in it's 3.1 development cycle.

On further 360 news, the Oblivion patch that has been long awaited is coming tomorrow. Hopefully this is not an auto-update. While some of the fixes are probably damned good (like all of the quest ending glitches...Umbra's sword, I'm looking at you), the item dupe fix is probably not going to go over too well. Well, for some it won't matter, but for those who love making videos of cascading water (melon) falls, this is not a welcome thing. I just hope the many quest glitches will have been fixed, along with how the orc who sells a house in Skingrad often dies during the course of everyday events (I wish I could see him die and know who he angered)...I do want that house.

On a third random note, if you're a Sony hater, Microsoft fanboy, or a Nintendo fanboy, here you go. Basically, a "news" item by The Inquirer is starting a bunch of anti-hype for the PS3. Basically, it goes on to say that the PS3 is slow, not performing up to specifications, blah, blah. Right about now, unless it deals with something cool with the Wii (like where I can finally pre-order), I just want to sleep...wake me when the new generation is here.

Last note before I leave to see The Streets (this is going be so f#@%ing sweet!)...I've been a bit slow on posting anything to the forums. I do check them...well, I used to. Lately, I've been so engrossed in trying to prune obvious soon-to-be spammers (if your email address involves words like "casino" or "Rolexes" or "cheap" I think it's sorta obvious...), that I have completely ignored legitimate posts. So, I'll do better on this front now on...

Sorry, Mariru256...


Malik (6/09/06)  

I was out yesterday, recovering. I saw The Streets performing on Wednesday, and I still cannot believe how cool the overall experience was.

On one hand, I'm glad to have finally been to something that's 21 and over. Most concerts I see have too much of the "my older sibling got me into them" "fan" base. Less Than Jake, Flogging Molly, The Aquabats, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones...they have too much general appeal to be 21+. Well, The Streets is a different matter. It's not that his music is not going to be popular among people under 21, but rather the way the concert is done.

For example, during a couple of songs, a bottle of brandy was held, ready to give shots from a spout into the waiting mouths of those who pushed their way up to the front. Alcohol was everywhere, and literally free flowing from the stage.

I don't think there's any way to properly describe the event...well, except to say that I have never heard anything that offended my ears (not as in content...but rather the voice itself) as Lady Sovereign (the opening act). I just hope, in all of my concert going days, I never have to see her open for anyone...ever again.

On a completely different note, I found this funny. Ken Kutaragi (of Sony fame) is now saying that the goal of the PS3 is to become as proliferated in daily life as the iPod. I just have one thing to say to that...price. If the price is going to be as insanely steep as $600, then don't expect that Apple experience. Apple is smart enough to offer iPod versions in almost all possible price ranges, from the Shuffle to the iPod Video. The PS3, on the other hand, is just expensive.

I also find his comment of making the PS3 a platform "which top programmers can realize their full potential." Bullshit. It's already being said by developers that the hardware became a bit more complex than they feel they can fully utilize. To simplify this, let's just say that by the time the development community feels ready to fully utilize the system to their "full potential", the PS3 will be in it's decline and about to be replaced by the PS4.

I'm not saying that good games will not come the way of the PS3...rather, I'm saying that the full potential will simply not be found. The PS3 was designed to be too good, if that makes sense. The complexity required for it's high end technology makes it expensive and complex to utilize. In other words, it's a great system for Sony to show off, but it's not friendly to the two most important parties; developers and gamers.

To change topics again, I finally tracked down Suikoden V the other day. It's amazing how a game like Suikoden III could be found in every store for the long has it been, because I still find new copies at Gamestop? However, Suikoden IV was so fundamentally flawed (I liked it, but it failed as a Suikoden game) that S5 is nearly impossible to find only a couple of months after it was released. I'm just glad for online auctions and secondhand stores.

I haven't started playing yet, since I'm still enthralled in my 10th or so play through of Xenogears. However, even if I take a while to play (and review) Suikoden 5, with how rare it's become, most people will still not had played it. For once I can be lazy in a review and not worry about it.

Well, I'm out of here for the weekend. For those who are anticipating it, don't forget the World Cup is beginning. Even if you're not into soccer/football, try giving it a shot for the next few weeks. This is a great time to experience seeing the best of the best, and not just a random game being rebroadcast on some European sports channel in the dregs of digital cable.


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