It's like I was saying
last week; When one of the big boys downsizes,
in this case E3, there will be plenty more to fill the void.
First it was Gen Con and the Austin Game Conference. Now, the
grand-daddy of them all is coming out swinging...yup...the
CEA is looking to expand something from the CES line of
conferences to fill in on the West coast.
In the end, while I can
understand that the ESA wants to get away from it's circus like
environment that the recent E3 shows made famous, it still leaves a
huge void. Namely, there is no show which will have that big time
feel once E3 is downsized. E3 may have gotten out of hand, but maybe
the real solution was to impose some logical rules, as opposed to
imposing the recent illogical moves (like covering up booth babes
and then shrinking the whole thing).
I imagine that the CES-spawned
show from the CEA will fill the void nicely. Even if a good number
of publishers are in favor of the smaller E3, there are just too
many indy developers out there that need all the room and attention
they can get...and a small show will only stifle that. Even if EA
and Ubisoft support a smaller E3, there will be more than enough
additional support from the little guys to make the new CES show a
probable success...and then the big boys will naturally follow. In
fact, if anything the smaller E3 will only result in more money
being spent by publishers to be in all of the shows that this
absence has been overfilled with.
I spent much of my
weekend playing more on FF4 Advance. I really hate to say it, but
this game is complete crap. The dialogue has been improved, the
dummy items have been restored, and the ability to swap out party
members is now here...but in the end the controls are just too
frustrating for anyone but the most die hard of FF4 fans to
tolerate. Considering how controls are the easiest element of an RPG
to master, there is simply no excuse for this. At least I am almost
done, so I'll soon be able to put this train wreck behind me.
I also spent some time
watching a friend play through a good portion of Dead Rising. After
seeing the real game in action, I think my initial impressions of
the demo were confirmed; the game is really repetitive and really
offers little to make up for it. However, like a Will Farrell movie,
I don't have to enjoy it...I can just walk away and let others go
crazy over it.
From the parts I saw of
Dead Rising, the game seems to primarily consist of massive levels
of escort missions with some of the most idiotic AI to ever grace an
escort-based game. I saw the escorted NCP do everything from running
into a pack of zombies to blasting Frank (the hero) in the face with
a shotgun at point blank range because a zombie was on the other
side of said face. When that stuff is coupled with a game timer
(what...are we back in the 80's or 90's?), I am beyond deterred from
playing this game.
The timer of the game
makes me think about Pikmin. I really enjoyed almost everything that
game had to offer. However, the timer ruined the experience for me.
There's enough time, in both Pikmin and DR, to get through the game
with few issues...unless you play like me. If a game has a big world
to explore, I will do so. I love the exploration aspects of these
style of games (those with big and interesting worlds...be it a mall
or a forest) and will waste dozens of hours lost in exploration.
However, there isn't enough room in the timer for all of the
exploring I want. Quite frankly, if I wanted a timer, I'd play Mario
or Sonic...if I want to explore free of this pest, nothing will
change my mind.
I just laugh when people
will say that the worst issue with modern games is the random
battles of RPGs. Whenever a timer remains, I will always take a
random battle and smile with delight...since I usually know it's not
a timed random battle.
Before I bolt for
the day, there's one last bit of interesting news. Microsoft will be
bringing out a
XNA development beta toolset on August 30th. This will be a free
set of tools to develop games for the PC (?) and the 360. Basically,
these tools will serve as a simplified and cheaper alternative to
buying a full Microsoft developmental toolset (for tens of thousands
of dollars). Also, this service will be free to use, but it will
require about $100 in annual license fees if you wish to share your
homebrew games on the Live Marketplace.
On one hand, this
seems unusual. This will no doubt make the job easier for any 360
potential hackers. It will, after all, give them some easy to use
tools that could be a potential door opening device. On the other
hand, this is just what the game industry needs. For those who
remember, great games have come from this type of free thinking in
the past...remember Devil Dice for the Playstation? Yup.
Now the real
questions still remain;
How easy will
these tools be to use? I know Microsoft has said that some basic
programming aptitude will be needed, but of what basic level do we
speak? Is this basic like needed to use RPG Maker or is this level
more like basic use of C++? I know this could mean a lot of
difference to people like me (who kick ass at basic programming in
many languages, but could never grasp Java or C++).
Is Microsoft doing
this because their expected level of Marketplace games is
practically nil? If so, this is just Microsoft taking an easy way
out, but in all the right ways. I just hope this doesn't mean
Microsoft will use this as an excuse to cut production of Live
Last of all, when
will we start seeing some games that will blow us away? True, this
question will remain unanswered until the service is fully up and
running, but this is something to get excited about. We once saw
simple games like Devil Dice come out from such services, but could
we see things go further? Will we see more than just simple puzzle
and adventure titles? Could the tools be enough to allow a person to
make an SNES quality (or higher) RPG? If that last one is a yes, and
if the programming system is less intrusive and annoying than
Java/C++ or RPG Maker, I can guarantee that I will be all over this
...just a couple
of weeks until all becomes clear...hehehe...
Last night I didn't post
for a couple of reasons. On one hand, I got denied for another job
I'm applying to (my favorite of the jobs I've applied for...but the
same company just contacted me about another...you win some, you
lose some). On the other hand, and more importantly, I had CPR
classes. Considering that I work on the emergency response team at
my current job, and considering it's better safe than sorry, this
type of thing far outweighs, for a day, posting.
Well, there are
interesting rumors with the 360. Namely, the old rumor mill is
saying that we'll soon see a price of about $200 for the HD-DVD
add-on, a new FPS designed controller, support (via a new cable) for
1080p, and a "media jukebox".
As for the $200
price of the HD-DVD add-on drive; this is probably about right. It's
been stated by many people that a $100-$200 price tag for this would
make the most sense. It also would still fit Microsoft's claims that
the 360 will be the cheapest HD-DVD player on the market...but only
barely if the drive is $200. However, the real question, in the end,
is why we should give a f#@$. In reality, the next-gen DVD wars are
going to be silly, futile, and annoying to get into until a couple
years from now. We will see them rise, and we will see them either
both fall, both stagnate, or one fall with authority.
The support for
1080p is only natural considering how 1080p has become the latest
buzz word/term in entertainment. If you don't have 1080p, you
apparently are pathetic. Well, I don't have 1080p, and I don't plan
to replace my 7 month old 52" anytime soon. I, despite what many
people (who mostly don't own 1080i devices) seem to think, actually
enjoy 1080i. Maybe 1080p will look better (yes it will), but how
much better? Enough to justify a $3000 investment? For me the answer
is a clear and precise no.
However, the rumor
that has me the most intrigued is the media jukebox. I really want
to know more. Since most references deal with how it's borrowed
technology from Windows MCE, I would not know. I don't buy PCs...I
build PCs from bought components, so MCE has never been in my life.
I really want to know if this means videos have to be stored on the
360, or if this will finally allow streaming of video from a non-MCE
version of Windows. In fact, the only thing I really want from the
360 right now is the ability to stream videos from my PC, since my
make-shift way to play PC videos on my big screen involves not
getting the best sound quality possible. I have one surround system
for the TV (with speakers aligned for proper listening while
watching TV), and another for the PC (with a 2.1 setup for best PC
sound). However, when I watch a video from the PC on the TV, I want
the correct sound setup...and streaming to the 360 is the most
likely solution in my land of cable jungles.
To shift gears, I
was in an unusual mood last night and played something that has been
neglected a bit too much in the last 3 years; the Virtual Boy! Yes,
I own one. Yes, I play it from time to time. Yes, the world looks
funny after I play for more than a minute or two at a time. Most
importantly, however; yes, there are good games. Well, not awesome
games, but they are fun none-the-less.
In particular, I
started to think that maybe Nintendo should consider making a new
Mario Clash. While many VB games did indeed suck, this one has
some potential for a return...especially with the Wii. It doesn't
have to be a full $50 game. In reality, it should be a great
mini-game within a larger game. For example, it could be a new Mario
mini-game in the same way that there are mini-games on Super Mario
64 DS and New Super Mario Bros.
The game may look
simply and pointless...like a second failed coming of Mario Bros.
However, those who've played the game know it's so much more. It's a
game of skill and dexterity...just suffering from being in a
color-blind world of "all red, all the time".
In fact, with the
new online services planned for the Wii, I would like to think that
Nintendo would consider porting some VB titles to it. Mario Clash,
Jack Bros., and maybe the sports titles (which were pretty
bad...but entertaining because of how much they sucked). Since we'll
be seeing Bonk and Sonic, why not fill out all ends (including the
VB end) of the Nintendo catalogue? Just a thought.
Anyway, I'm in an
old-school kick right now. So, I'm off to either try out Chrono
Trigger (SNES...I'm a purist) on my 52" with surround sound, or to
play some Wario Land on the VB. Either way, it's nostalgia time!
Well, I was out
yesterday with my eyes being dilated to an anime inspired size.
There's nothing like the feeling of seeing the world in about 5
times the visual "volume" that one should be used to. However, what
kept me from posting was that I couldn't focus on anything less than
three feet from my face, so I was completely blind when it came to
using a computer. Wow...that was fun (/sarcasm).
Worst of all, the
visual problems kept me from continuing my newfound appreciation for
the cheese that is the Virtualboy. I don't care what may have been
said in the past, this is a fun (although useless) little toy. I
mean it's good that this technology died, but it still is a blast to
play from time to time...as long as you don't mind a headache or
two. Especially, Wario Land and Mario Clash are two games that were
at their peak on this little system that couldn't.
Well, some details
have come out about what games will be in the new
Genesis Collection from Sega. In particular, if you follow that
link, you'll see how many of the games are some of Sega's worst. Who
needs Sonic 3 or Sonics and Knuckles (or the holy combination of the
two) when you can have Vectorman and Vectorman 2...? The only parts
of this that would really make the bundle worth the price of
admission are the Phantasy Star games (2-4), which you probably
already have on the GBA if you really wanted them so badly. Most of
all, when so many classic series are being touched upon, where the
f#@& is Revenge of Shinobi?
Also, there are
rumors of a potential four new Guitar Hero games in the works.
Who knows if this is true (Activision/Red Octane...they know), but
it sounds quite plausible. After all, what's more American than
finding a hit and then cranking out new titles to make some quick
I just hope this
means the games will keep coming in a somewhat quick succession.
After all, there is nothing like having such a potentially large
library of music to thrash to than what a total of five Guitar Hero
games will offer us. Imagine being able to rock out for a weekend
and never having to play the same song twice, and still not having
to touch any songs you may not enjoy. Now that's a nice visual image
Lastly for this
week, Mad Catz is releasing some sort of retro influenced
arcade stick for the 360. I just have to wonder a great big "WTF".
This thing, from the small picture Gamespot has (also, the link they
have on their site for this doesn't work as I currently write
this...so, I can't really trace the source to well), looks like it
was designed by some brain-dead monkeys. Between the hassles of
using it, and the simply layout that prompts one to wonder how to
even hold it, I think this is the wrong approach to a simple
That problem would
be how to enjoy a game like Street Fighter II or some of the other
Arcade titles that need either a good stick or a good d-pad. The
real answer would be for a retro SNES inspired controller for these
hard to handle games. Hell, the SNES controller was probably the
best 2D fighter gamepad ever designed. If you want to go retro and
find something that works, why not
look at what
really did work instead of just making some random as hell Atari
2600 rip-off with almost no usability? It boggles the mind...
Well, I'm out of
here. Between typing this and posting it, I went through an
interview, so that's why this is short and being posted later than
usual. Anyway, I'm off to see Snakes on a (mother-f#@*ing) Plane and
to get some good food and cheap beer! Viva America!
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