This is my least
favorite type of moment. It's Monday morning (as I type, not post)
so I'm tired as hell, and there's almost nothing to talk about. If
you try looking for any geekish news, you'll see one simple fact; no
real news has surfaced since Thursday, since Thursday was just too
big of a news day. In case you need a short refresher, you can check
out last week's post from Friday...but
you probably don't need any reminder of all that Nintendo announced.
I am enjoying that this
news was taken so well by so many geeks. I have always had a special
place in my heart for the big N. After all, the first console I
dropped any money on as a kid was the NES. Before that thing moved
into my home, my brother had a Gameboy, which was the first modern
console to grace our home (unless you consider the Commedore 64 or
the Intellivision to be modern). After the 16-bit wars erupted, it
was Nintendo I first turned to (even if a Genesis wasn't too far
behind...along with the Sega CD)...or I should say my brother and
So, to see Nintendo
reclaiming the love of a lot of geeks is a nice turn of events.
After all, we have seen Nintendo's low moments too many times
lately. We started with them f#@$ing around with what would be their
strongest competitor (where do you think the Playstation originated
from? It was Nintendo's child...well, they were the abusive and
neglectful father), then the Vitrual Boy, then the N-64, the N-64
Disk Drive, and then the lackluster attempt they tried at pissing
off the third party world with the Gamecube. If it could've been
handled better, then it was done by Nintendo and it was too small to
be placed in a coat pocket.
However, the Wii is
looking like it may not only correct all of these errors, but it may
also bring about a nice breath of fresh air to the gaming market.
With the concepts that Nintendo has placed up front (new control
ideas, a Zelda at launch, the Virtual Console, teaming with Sega and
NEC for the VC, and a more lighthearted and game centered concept),
it's looking like a good contender for the number one or two spot
this generation. Plus, from the sounds of things, Nintendo will
offer enough consoles at launch to make most of the Sony faithful
feel a bit uncertain of what Sony was thinking with not holding back
the PS3 launch.
So, I'm only left with
one great question on all of this; what are the absolute final
numbers going to be? Also phrased as, "When can I pre-order or is it
just not worth doing so?" I think that's also the question on many
Anyway, with me rambling
like this, it's probably obvious that there just isn't much to talk
about. Well, there is one thing...
I spent a few hours this
weekend playing more of Enchanted Arms. I have to say that despite
the horrible reviews (a lot of 6/10 and below) this game has seen
from many places, I honestly think it's pretty good. There is some
stuff that leaves me wanting more, but then again, that can be said
about most games. Especially RPGs.
As for the nuts and
bolts, this game is pretty solid. The visuals are amazing, the audio
is great (as long as you don't count the typical lack of talent in
RPG voice actors), the plot is definitely different and pretty
original compared to...say...most non-Suikoden RPGs that have come
along in the last 10 years. The only issue I have at all, at this
point in the game, is that battles can be a bit annoying.
For example, if you
finish a battle in one round, or less, you will be fully healed
afterwards, for free. This is pretty nice. However, if you take
damage or more time, then your characters will lose VP (1 per round,
plus up to about 10 for damage). Once you run out of VP, you start
all battles with 1 HP and 1 EP (think of EP as points needed to do
anything at all...including basic attacks). Well, I like this
system, even though it sounds pretty weak and pathetic in text.
The part I do not like
is that your characters have no battle formations. Each battle takes
place on two 3 (deep) by 4 (wide) grids. You have one grid and the
enemies have another. They line up real close to each other, but you
can never cross grids. Well, your attacks are all given pre-set
sizes and ranges, like one would find in a Shining Force game. The
problem is that each battle starts with your party members in
completely random squares in the grid. This means that any close
attacker may me forced to the back corner at the start of combat,
and thus could waste a whole round trying to get to the front
row...where the gun slinger was placed for no apparent reason. If
there was a way to at least tell the game that my tank/short range
fighter should always be up front, and that my healer should always
be in the middle, I'd be far happier.
Besides this one
annoyance, the game is far more solid and original than the usual
set of reviews would lead you to believe. In fact, I'm now about 40%
through the game, and I honestly have no intention of stopping
Well, there's just
nothing else to say...so, I'll just wrap this up right about now.
Wow...just wow. If you
haven't heard of it yet,
Gamestop/EB was testing a new idea in Hawaii. Basically, to
pre-order a Wii or PS3, you'd have to place a $50 deposit on the
system. That's nothing new. However, this deposit cannot be from
cash, check, plastic, voucher, or whatever. It has to be in the last
form of currency they take; used games. This is Gamestop's way to
ensure a healthy amount of money, since pre-owned is big business
This was all to
gauge customer response to a possible nationwide plan of the same
sort. Well, if customer response has been similar to the net
response, I really don't see it happening in the rest of the US.
After all, it sounds like most gamers, myself included, would rather
just sell some shit on eBay and then use that to place a deposit
instead of blowing money on trade-ins (which are a good financial
option for Gamestop, but a bad one for use geeks).
this stupidity, the pre-order Wii situation becomes clear soon.
While no time line is known, some people have stated that a deposit
for a Wii may not be accepted until almost a month from now.
If it matters any,
I've heard from Gamestop (unofficially, of course) that the PS3 will
probably not even be available on a pre-order basis. With 400,000
systems being out there at launch, I was told that the number is
just too hard to break down into pre-orders without entering another
360 nightmare scenario. So, if you are willing to waste that much
money on a new system (I'm still in the mind set that that price tag
is just too much to justify unless your name and "fanboy" go
hand-in-hand), you will also have to waste some cold nights in line
outside of Walmart or Best Buy.
I really wish I
had more to discuss, but it's a slow news day and last night was not
a good night for me to geek by. I was finally given a chance to end
my long and annoying hunt for a new day job. However, I now have the
option of either facing uncertainty a while more, taking a job right
now (not too easy to do), or doing something that's against my
ethics (the option the most people have recommended to me)...fun
about it for today...short and sweet.
There is some slightly
interesting (depending on who you are) news from the pre-TGS
announcements by Microsoft. In particular, the HD-DVD add-on for the
360 will run about $177 on November 22...that would be the, big
surprise, Japanese price and release date, since it is the Tokyo
Game Show. That's not a bad price for a HD-DVD player, considering
what the full stand alone players are costing. However, if you're
like me, then this doesn't mean shit.
After all, the
HD-DVD versus Blu-ray versus holding on to standard DVD debate is
getting stale with no winner. I don't mean "no clear winner". I mean
there is no one side, or even two sides, that will come out ahead
until some improvements are brought about. In particular, we need a
good library of movies in both formats for both new
devices/technology to show any real market saturation.
Of course, you
could go one better and have a magical single disk that plays in
HD-DVD, Blu-ray, and standard DVD formats without any of the hassles
of picking a technology to sit in your living room. While this
sounds like sarcasm, it's nice to see that it may become reality.
Three Warner Brothers employees have actually
patent for such a special disk. In essence, the disk has each of
the three formats on a single disk, in multiple layers, and since
HD-DVD and Blu-ray both read from a different depth of a disk, this
is entirely possible.
The big question
on this approach is what the disks will cost to make and to own. If
they end up going the same route as DVDs, then we may see some
really amazing fights in the next-gen DVD war. More than that, we
may soon have an incentive to buy into one, or both, of the new
formats. However, if the prices more closely imitate the current
HD-DVD/DVD combo disks, which tend to be pricier than either of the
formats in separate disks, then this technology will be all for
nothing. So, the ultimate question will be if this new concept in
media can be applied without hitting a consumer extra hard. If the
price difference can be kept down to something as minor as $5 over
the price of a stand alone HD-DVD or Blu-ray disk, then this new
patent may be something that can help settle this stupid next-gen
battle...once and for all. That's also assuming that the movie
studios would also take part and quit this partisan bullshit.
Microsoft's pre-TGS stuff...Blue Dragon is set for a final release
date in December for about $10 (equivalent...US dollars) less than
Lost Planet, which makes a pretty good price for a game in Japan.
Hopefully this means that localization work can be rushed along some
to get this game to the US before it becomes an after thought...like
Enchanted Arms kind of did.
Best of all, live
videos of in game demonstrations of Lost Odyssey is finally coming
along. Considering all of the hype this game has had, despite just
being a minor concept with no concrete evidence of it's coolness,
it's about time we finally get to see it in action. While it's nice
to get excited about all that Mistwalker may bring to the 360, it's
another thing to finally be given some reasoning behind this hype.
In other words, it's nice to have something tangible.
One last bit about
360 camera has been released. I wish I could say something good,
but I see too much potential for how bad this could be. In all
honesty, why the f#@^ would I want to see the people I'm playing
against? I can just imagine playing something Live Vision enabled
and seeing one fat kid bouncing off the walls while overly enjoying
flipping off the camera, some random redneck dude in a beer stained
wife-beater (or maybe even shirtless) balancing a beer in one hand
while playing a game of Uno, and...well, let's just say that people
playing games are usually either way too wound up or relaxed for me
to ever want to see them.
Well, I need to
wrap it up for today. Too much to do and...well, I think I'll just
blow it all off and play some Enchanted Arms.
read...Nintendo has started to work with TakeTwo in making
some sort of working relationship that will almost definitely
see some baseball action on the Wii from TakeTwo. However, the
rumors started over at Gamespot does a little bit of speculating and
gives us an interesting scenario; can the Wii maybe see a little of
the no-longer-Playstation-exclusive GTA?
While this would
have seemed very weird and twisted in the pre-360 generation, it now
makes some sense. With games like Red Steel set to make M-rated
impacts on the Wii, a GTA game doesn't seem so far out of bounds. In
fact, when you consider that the 360 and PS3 will both get GTA4 on
the exact same day, a Wii version seems pretty possible. Is it
likely? Probably not. But it is possible.
Also, since the
Wii has the technological abilities of a XBox, give or take, this
type of game would be quite at home on such a system. After all,
while many like to think that next-gen is all about HD visuals, it's
more about the gaming world, as a whole. I wouldn't bet on Nintendo
getting any hardcore GTA games, but it still is a possibility, and
that's good news since the main battle lines of the next-gen is what
games are exclusive.
Speaking of next-gen...this
is what I think of when I think of that dreaded phrase; changing the
conventions of gaming to encompass some new techniques and features.
I think of next-gen fitting more with how technology is used and
less about how pretty the package is. So, on that note, I found
this link via
Now this is what I like to see!
Basically, for the
next Tony Hawk (Project 8...or whatever they're calling it), the
game will feature a newly designed trick control system. Board flips
will be controlled via the analogue sticks, with each one
controlling a single foot of the skated while in an ollie. In other
words, you now have full control of your tricks and it will be more
important to be on the ball than to simply know what combination of
button presses you can execute with a certain amount of air.
I also have to say
that I can see the potential here for either something very cool or
for something unbearably awful. Just think of how this game will
play out, and you can probably see how it can turn out. On one hand,
the controls are greatly refined (which is something THPS helped to
pioneer for extreme sports games...awe inspiring controls). On the
other hand, the controls are only friendly and fun for the same type
of people who obsessively play Street Fighter on Live everyday. I
think it'll be more of a case of awesome controls...but the
potential for a nightmare scenario is there. At least this could be
the first TH game to come out since THPS4 that I've actually wanted
to buy on it's launch day.
On a different bit
of news about looking into the future a little bit, Activision has
announced that Guitar Hero games will grace
"every significant new format". In other words, Guitar Hero will
probably be finding it's way, in the next 6-12 months, onto the Wii,
the PS3, and the 360. While the 360 bit is nothing new, and the PS3
stuff was pretty obvious, the Wii concept is sounding pretty cool.
Considering how the spatial technology of the Wii is already in
place, it might become a fair bit simpler to always execute a
perfect launch of the star power gauge (one of my biggest beefs
about Guitar Hero would be how the sensors in the controller can be
a little...bitchy...at times).
However, like I
felt when the 360 became a viable target for GH action, I like the
fact that all three new systems are based on the idea of being able
to download content/games. This opens up a great chance for all
three new systems to have GH games with downloadable libraries of
new music. I know that right now there would be nothing greater to
fulfill me until GH2 comes out than a downloadable pack of a dozen
new songs to keep me interested and in good guitar shape.
I just hope that
this same ability is not used for evil. In other words, I hope
Activision doesn't decide to milk people via micro-transactions like
some game companies have done before. In other words, I don't want
to see music limited on the actual game, and new music packs being
introduced before the game has even hit the market. To tell the
truth, this is not all that far fetched of a fear...it has been done
before, and it very well will happen with some games in the future.
Well, I am still
sinking in all that that new Tony Hawk video entails. I am awed by
it's amazing potential. So, while I go off to watch that video a few
more times, I shall call it a day for my post.
It's always an
interesting time for all when Ken Kutaragi opens his mouth. 99% of
the time, he's just pouring some form of corporate PR friendly bull
shit down our throats. However, there are a few times when he speaks
and tells the honest and brutal truth...these are about as often as
a solar eclipse and usually carry the same level of amazement and
disbelief that must have followed eclipse in the ancient world. In
other words, if he speaks and it's actually not just him saying that
"Sony is teh 1337-zor" then it's worth noting.
In this case, he's
announced that the 20GB equipped
PS3 will actually have an HDMI output. On top of that, the
Japanese price has been dropped to about the equivalent of $430
instead of over $500. Interesting. Now, if he could pull off the
same feat for the other regions, such as North America, then it
would be truly noteworthy. In fact, if he did this same feat in the
US, most of the talk of how the system is over-priced and that the
low end model is a rip-off would cease.
Will this happen
for the US? I seriously doubt it. This is Sony's desperate bid to
reclaim their home turf before things get too out of hand (which
happens in December). Americans, on the other hand, are expected to
be more indulgent and thus we are expected to buy the system no
matter what happens. It would be very likely that we'll get the HDMI
outputs on all models, but that price is not going to shake any time
In the end, I'd
also expect the very obvious to happen. When the PS3 is launched in
the US, I'd expect to find about 80% or more of them to be the $600
model. Why? It'll make a little more money for Sony...plus, like I
said, we Americans are expected to be better target audiences for
Sony (read: we are impulse buyers). So, if you like the thought of
the $500, and if you expect the HDMI to come it's way in the US, you
still will have one major hurdle to overcome...not finding any in
stock. It'll be hard enough to find the $600.
On the other side
of major console makers f$#@ing around...Microsoft is now making a
special deal; all 360s made before January can be repaired,
free of charge. Considering I was one of the 360 launch crowd, I
cannot help but feel a little uneasy about this news. After all, my
360 is still working great, with no issues...but now I just feel a
little less certain. I also can't help but wonder some more
specifics on the finer details.
For example, will
this deal last for a certain time line? If my 360 dies a year from
now, will this free repair still be with me, since it's a launch
360, or will it have been too late by then? If there is no time line
to this repair/refund deal, then I'd feel a little more confident.
After all, that would mean I have a bullet proof 360, and I can
happily play for the remainder of this generation and never worry
those silly little lights. Flash all you want, lights! I can
However, if there
is any imposed deadline on this repair offer, then it's like staring
at a car wreck. Did the people survive? It looked bad! Is there
still life to be found? You never know until it's too late, and my
360 is a car wreck from the looks of it...assuming there's a set end
date to this offer.
No matter how you
look at it, between this Microsoft news and the whole fiasco that
will be the PS3 launch, I have but one thing to say; Nintendo,
please release a lot of Wii, and let us gamers have one bit of
hassle-free enjoyment this year! If I'm looking at over priced
techno-crap on one hand, and a potential autopsy on the other...I
just want to have that third option and be happy.
Speaking of which,
my job hunt now has me facing another option...doing what I don't
want to do, but taking a huuuuuuuuuge bonus in the process (let's
just say it would cover over 2 months of what my current salary is).
I like options...especially when they all involve me getting money!
On that note, I'm
out for the weekend. I'll be seeing Jackass 2 tonight and then
sitting through a wedding tomorrow. You win some, you lose some.
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