I had a rather busy day
on Friday, and hence I did not post. However, I'm back and ready to
vent a little.
First off, to follow up
on something I discussed last week; Judge Ronald Friedman, despite
what Jack Thompson thinks, has decided that
Bully is fine with a T rating. However, if you want a brief
explanation of the term "blowing something out of proportion" you
can see it in Jack's comments following the Judge's approval.
I especially enjoy the
comparison of a video game being rated T and still be legal to be
sold with nuclear weapon inspections in Iran. That one is great!
It's a comparison that could only be made when a mind that is so
"unusual" as Jack's is brought into any matter. Like I said before
Take Two had supplied the court with a copy of Bully, unintentional
comedy would come forth from the matter, no matter how it went.
On other news,
the E3 Media and Business Summit has been given a date. It will
happen in July from the 11th to the 13th. However, before I say
anything else...actually instead of saying anything else, I'll
simply say this; do any of us care anymore? I didn't think so. E3
will forever be a changed entity, and while the gaming business may
enjoy it, it just doesn't mean anything to any of us. E3 is
dead...long will live a new E3...whatever it may eventually be.
To continue my random
subject jumps...I stood in line for a pre-order of a Wii on Friday.
That's part of what kept me so busy last Friday. Well, I arrived
about an hour early, and walked away, after about 45 minutes
standing in line, with a whole lot of nothing. I honestly am not
surprised that many people were wanting Wiis. I'm also not surprised
that the Wii pre-orders would sell out so damned quickly.
The part that left me
surprised is how few Wii pre-order allocations were available per
Gamestop/EB. I believe there was around 16 of them at the store I
went to, as well as any of the stores I initially drove by that
looked like they had too long of lines at 8:30AM (an hour and a half
before the stores opened). Considering many PS3 pre-orders were
limited to 8 or 16, depending on the store, and considering that the
Wii is supposed to have such a larger inventory at launch, I find it
unusual that so few pre-orders would be accepted. I also find it
annoying that the store I went to did not have clerks with enough
courtesy to tell the excessive people to just head home, and instead
waited until after 45 minutes had passed.
Anyway, I don't mind not
getting a pre-order. It just means I'll be faced with getting
another damned bundle of some sort. However, the thing that has me
more annoyed than anything is how many of these pre-order Wiis are
winding up on eBay. However, that's how the times are changing.
Since the 360 was so limited in supply, as well as the PS2, it only
makes sense that some people would take this type of opportunity as
a chance to make some quick money off of desperate parents who are
bent on making a special Christmas for a spoiled child. I don't mind
seeing a system sell out before I can jump in, but I find it wrong,
in my geek's heart, that so many systems are being bought by those
who care for the new consoles in the same way a redneck cares for a
Also, I don't use that
"spoiled" term as an insult because I didn't get my Wii, but rather
as a personal note, since I feel that a parent giving a
multi-hundred dollar Christmas gift is simply spoiling a child. I'm
of the old school mind set that says that a game or two is a good
Christmas gift...a game system is what the little ones must save up
for, possibly with holiday money.
Anyway, as more time
passes, and especially around the launch days for both the Wii and
the PS3, we will most definitely see the prices for the two consoles
reach even more insane of prices. If you think a $1800 PS3 or a $600
Wii is crazy now, just wait until the end of November, and these
prices will seem sane and logical.
I still have good ways
to get a Wii on, or close to, launch. However, I dread to see what
"bonuses" will be forced upon me. I guess it still won't be any
worse than when I had to get Armageddon on DVD with my PS2 launch
bundle. Even if I fail on getting a Wii before December ends, I can
at least stand proud in my convictions...that no game system will
cost me more than it's MSRP just because I "need" it badly enough to
I will say, however,
that I prefer the old way of pre-ordering a system. I like to go in
to a store, shortly after E3 (which won't be the same anymore), and
ask if pre-orders are being taken. I lay down some money, and then
don't have to worry about all of the people dropping in for
pre-orders a month or two prior to the launch. True, some people
walked away with their systems about 6 months a little late, but
these same people should've expected that to happen. I am the
early-bird type, and I would rather just get things taken care of
instead of having to wait for a day that will obviously become some
sort of circus.
As for those who don't
like this system of pre-ordering console because of how they waited
until April for EB/Gamestop to call them in for their
360...well...did you ever check any other stores? I sure as hell
know I saw 360s available online and offline long before the EB/Gamestop
pre-orders were all fulfilled. You can always get a refund on your
Anyway, that's enough
rants about the last few days...but I'm not quite done yet. I just
wanted to say that I hope the Seahawks change their ways soon. The
first 2+ quarters of yesterday's game made me think of the Superbowl
all over again. It was like watching two teams, who knew nothing of
playing, trying to just get lucky enough to find a giant hole in the
other teams defense. At least, no matter how bored I was with the
game, I didn't turn away and miss the last two minutes. There was
more of a game being played in the final two minutes than there was
for the other 58 minutes combined.
I've been a user of eBay
and their sister site Half.com for the better part of a decade. I
have seen the good and the bad. I've especially seen the bad. I have
seen products listed, that I should have been the proud owner of,
that don't fulfill the description. I've "purchased" items that the
seller didn't actually own and was simply posting in the weird hope
that they'd have the item before the item was required to ship. I've
even been hit with bad feedback over people listing incorrect items
(and then when I write a neutral or negative feedback, I'd get hit
with a negative for not being a rube).
I talk about this
because it's a nice introduction to what eBay has finally done that
may help prevent some stupid people from being separated from their
money...and more money than they should ever spend on an item. Yes.
Those $1800 PS3 listings, along with all other
PS3 listings on eBay have been pulled. Apparently eBay is
finally, after a decade of not giving a flying f#@%, stopping
auctions for items that simply aren't in the seller's hands.
On one hand, this
is awesome news since it will prevent an obvious issue of some
sellers having a pre-order receipt for a PS3 but possibly not
getting a PS3 at launch (a pre-order doesn't guarantee anything)
from selling what they don't have. This will avoid some of the
insane prices that have come along in the last week. Furthermore, it
will also create some funny (for me) times when people start to
bitch on gaming message boards about how they actually now have to
find the remaining $500 to buy their PS3...since many paid the $100
deposit and expected eBay money before picking up the system to
cover the rest of the tab.
If you're the type
of person who finds it right to buy a PS3 or Wii or whatever at
launch in the intention of selling it to some rube for an inflated
price...well...I can't say the people who would pay three or more
times the price of the console don't deserve it, but the people who
are not idiots with their money and do want a system as soon as
possible do not deserve limited supplies being further limited by
your actions. While money is an important factor in today's world,
it should not be a driving faction on the consumer end of geeking
I just like to
think of the people who have multiple pre-orders for PS3s and now
will have to foot a huge $2400 total bill, or in some cases it's
even worse, for all of their pre-orders before they can hope to make
a dollar off of their greed.
Of course, there's
always other online classified ads and auction sites...but at least
eBay is showing some level of ethics...
On a different
note, the current rumors put
Lumines Live at a release of this week. Will it happen? Who
knows? I personally hope Microsoft can get the developers to hurry
and put this thing on the Marketplace soon. After all, there are
only a few weeks left before the gates of gaming and money hell both
open at the same time. Yes...I'm talking about the wonderful and
horrible month of November.
Any game that can
be hurried to have a release prior to November will be in a good
position. Since so much money will be expected of gamers in just two
weeks, the best bet for any game right now is to hurry an October
release. If a game actually does make it in time, the competition
will be lower, by default, and this would help to ensure some good
profits for said game. Also, considering that the Arcade has not
seen anything really worth the time to download the trial version
for several months, it would be good news for my 360...which is not
enjoying the dust that has been gently settling on it ever since
Tales of the Abyss came out last week.
On a final
Bitching about the 360 before I wrap up for the day...you may have
EA is now selling cheats on the 360 Marketplace. I just want to
say "F@#% THEM!"...well, it's what I want to and do say. However, to
elaborate a little bit, I feel this is the beginning of some dark
times for us geeks.
Now that cheat
codes are being sold online, it means that almost every facet of
geeking has become microtransactioned. We can now buy games, themes,
gamer pics, additional characters, new levels, cosmetic items (the
damned horse armor from Oblivion that started it all), new levels
and powers...however, it the addition of paying for cheat codes that
have finally pushed microtransactions from greed into a way of life.
At least it will if we don't start speaking with our wallets about
now. Actually, I think the better way to phrase that is to say it's
time we gave the silent treatment via our wallets.
If we as gamers
actually start to pay for this shit, then the microtransaction fans
(the publishers) will have truly won. Once we started to pay for
horse armor (that did nothing useful in the game and also looked
pretty ugly in practice), we opened the gates of hell. While ome of
us have been careful in not buying every piece of virtual shit that
passes for downloadable content, there are others of us who are
pissing in this giant swimming pool. The water is turning yellow,
and some of us gamers started it.
Not to sound like
I'm overly pessimistic, but things are definitely going to get
worse. There's talk of making it where we "can" spend real money on
consumable items (potions, etc.) in games. There's talk of racing
games which contain almost nothing and we personally pick and choose
which cars and tracks to buy. There is talk of games that come with
only a level or two and we have to pay to proceed. These are not
simply rumors...they are being considered in all earnest by
developers and publishers as simple ways to increase the income
generated by a game.
While many of us
will be a little too loose with their wallets, I can tell you my
position and what I aim to do. I aim to spend nothing for content
unless the price is justified. If a racing game costs $25 and comes
with three cars and a track, while the previous version cost $50 and
came with 300 cars and 35 tracks...well, I will not buy that new
game. If downloadable cars cost $0.75 each, and the original game
included 300 in the original price of $50 (which, in a worst case
scenario meant the tracks and engine were free and the cars cost
$0.17 each), then I'm not wasting my money. I want a whole game, out
of the box, with nothing held back for a future non-free
downloadable pack. Horse armor? It was at one time mentioned as
included with the game and it instead cost us $2.50 more (the cost
of 4.2% of Oblivion...and that horse armor didn't justify 4.2% of
the game's cost). Additional clothes for Saint's Row being planned,
for a premium price, before the game was released? F$#@ THQ!
You are all free
to do what you want with your money, but I can assure you all of two
things; I will always use some logic when I drop some green. If a
download is going to cost me, I will always make sure it's worth the
price of admission. Secondly, I will only buy whole games. If a game
is incomplete with the intention of premium (priced) downloads
allowing access to the remainder of the game, then I will always
pick the competitor's game, if it's good enough to merit my money.
I may be too late
to put all of the evil back into this Pandora's Box...but it's not
too late to do some damage control. It may not sound like a lot of
money when these downloads may only cost $2.50 each...but they do
add up in a hurry (buy one each day, and you'll have gone through
more than the price of an entire game in less than 4 weeks).
Well, it looks like I
was wrong in thinking Lumines Live would not be released for a while
still. In fact, it should be
on the Marketplace as I type this.
While I have never
tried Lumines...basically, the PSP disappointed me far too early for
me to have considered a puzzle game for my library (I always
consider a puzzle game a rip-off if it costs more than $30), so I
never gave it a shot. However, with the free demos that are a staple
of Live, I will have no problem trying this one out now that the
price is right...well, the trial price. I still don't know if I'd
want to drop $15 for this game, but a free trial always sounds
pretty good to me. Also, the rumors are true...$15 is not for
the FULL game.
I do have to say
that it's nice to see a NEW game on the Arcade. I think my single
largest complaint about the entire Marketplace selection of Arcade
titles has been the ports and rehashed titles. I honestly think if a
game was old 15 years ago, then I don't plan to drop an extra $5 or
more to play it again. This applies to Time Pilot, Galaga, Scramble
(still think Scrabble would've been a better choice), Pac-Man, or
any of those rehashed 1980's co-op classics. Their are fun games, in
their own right, but not fun enough to spend $5 on when I could get
most of them on those Jaks Pacific controller systems for a cheaper
price per game.
I just hope we'll
soon see Castlevania: SotN on the Arcade. I know it's probably still
a ways off, but that's the one and only ported title I can honestly
get excited about...and that's only because the ease of finding a
working PSX memory card is not as easy as it once was. I think these
cards have a shelf life that no one bothered to stamp on the
Another rumor (and
I think the answer to this one is more of a given for me) is now
GTA IV will have episodic content on the PS3 as well as on the
360. Now the answer to this should be obvious.
the 360 and PS3 versions of the game will be the same, and
considering that all three next-gen consoles have active Internet
capabilities, it seems like there shouldn't even be a single doubt
that the PS3 version will have downloads. The only way for this not
to happen would be if Microsoft gets Rockstar to sign some unusual
exclusive contract stating that episodic content can only be
delivered via the 360 Marketplace. However, for that to happen would
require a lot of stupidity and confusing tactics. Plus, since the
game is already announced for both consoles and only about a year
away, this is pretty doubtful.
Anyway, I don't
have too much to really say today. I spent last night at a Microsoft
focus group for something involving one of those damned
confidentiality agreements. So, most of my thought process is
focused on some of the things I saw and heard last night and how
I've [lost/gained] faith in both gamers and Microsoft.
At least on the
bright side, those types of things are always good for a few laughs,
no matter how smoothly and logically they go down. Plus, when
Microsoft gives me some free "gratuity" software, who am I to
complain. So, in the end, I feel a little happier (from the
unintentional comedy) and I can save about $80 on getting Windows
XP...or make about $100 selling Windows XP. Either way...can't
complain much about that.
Bully is being investigated on the other side of the pond, as
those wacky British like to say. Basically, Keith Vaz, Member of
Parliament for Leicester East, has brought this game to the
attention of Tony Blair on grounds that this game, rated 15 (meaning
you need to be 15 or older to purchase the game in the UK), for how
it's such an evil product.
First off all, Vaz
is a lot like the English equivalent of Jack Thompson...or at least
that's how he is usually related when news of him comes to the US.
After all, we have a complete censorship freak and it's always
easier to compare the unknown to what we all know so damned well.
Anyway, the simple
truth is probably the reality behind this...Vaz, like Jack, probably
has never heard or seen of this game in any way beyond knowing it's
a game about a child in a school who beats up other children. That's
obviously a great reason to ban a game...since school children never
inflict harm, either emotional or physical, on each other but this
game could change all of that </sarcasm).
A very simple
reality to this situation is that, on one hand, this game went
through the same crap in the US thanks to Jack bringing legal action
against the game until a judge (who later OKed the game) would
review the entire game being played through in his presence (along
with Jack being there). It is probably a lot like how this story
will unfold in the UK.
The other simple
truth behind this is that the material will not cause children to
become bullies or to retaliate against bullies. That will exist
after Bully comes out in the UK, for the same reason it existed
before Bully came out in the US. Bullies exist, they have been
around for a long time, and they will never go away. That is what
causes bullies to exist...the circular logic that they have always
To stop a game
from being released to the public simply because the material may be
a little violent is completely illogical. Violence has existed for a
long time (as in for the entirety of human history) and it will
never be done away with. Human nature, at it's very core, is what
brings about the possibilities of bullies and violence, and having
billions of humans in one small space (Earth) will only continue to
bring about more bullies and more violence.
Maybe Vaz and Jack
will both see this fact. It's a long shot, since games are such an
easy target. Games, on their own, are easy to villainize and to turn
public opinion against, and also games are typically made by
companies that are easy to turn into "faceless entities of
corruption". Of course, if Jack or Vaz ever see that it's human
nature that causes violence, I would be truly afraid to see how they
would cleverly word their arguments on why all people must be
isolated or "removed" from the problem (probably through death).
seriousness, I hope Jack continues to do like he's done recently. It
only hurt his credibility by bringing legal action that resulted in
Bully not only being approved by the ESRB, but also by US federal
court. How can you make a game seem any safer to the blind masses
than to have the government (who many assume know everything that is
right or wrong) actually give it a big thumbs up? I can't think of a
better way...not even getting it approved by the church.
I'm still in the
midst of playing Tales of the Abyss. The more I play this title, the
more I realize a few things. The game does get better with each
playing. It's probably because of how there's actual character
development (Square Enix may want to take note). You start with a
whiney and asinine protagonist, and he does change from an
intolerably ass into something far more enjoyable to play as.
Also, the game as
a whole is an impressive RPG to help wrap up the PS2's life span.
While FFXII may be on the horizon, this is the RPG player's RPG to
end things on. A solid plot, great development aspects to both
personality and to how you can customize your characters fighting
abilities. The action based combat (very similar to an upgraded ToS
battle system) is very tight, and the aesthetics are brilliant. In
fact, there is only one issue that I can currently find with this
I'm sure that
Namco could've done a better job with programming the load times. I
know this since many games have had the same amount of data, or
more, to load at the same places (before a battle, entering a new
screen of the map, etc) and have not required 10 second load times
for battles that can end in 2-3 seconds. If you haven't played TotA,
I will say right here that I'm not exaggerating on these times.
issue. This is more with how Tales games are localized for the US
versus how they are done in Japan. There are periodic "skits". These
are optional dialogues that are shared between various members of
your party. Think of them as how you learn the most of each
character's background story and see the results of character
development. Well, in Japan these are fully voiced. In the US, the
text moves at a set pace, as if the characters were speaking, but we
never get any of the voice acting to accompany it. Also, since you
cannot manually advance the dialogue and you simply have to wait for
the mute voices to finish speaking, it's a lot like watching a
dialogue heavy movie on closed captioning and muted. It's like
reading a short book that you have set time periods to read each
page. It's like...well, it's like the localization team are a bunch
of lazy bastards who just didn't want to spend the extra money to
pay the voice actors to stick around for another few days of work.
If you've been following
(or getting a cheap laugh) from the rants of Zelda fanboys, then
you've probably heard about how the Japanese GCN version of Twilight
Princess is only going to be available from Nintendo's online store.
It was also
being rumored that this would happen in North America as well.
Well, if this rumor needed and grounding in reality, then it would
probably come from Gamestop and EB both (both?) removing the GCN
listing from their online store(s).
If you're one of
the few people out there who did not become enchanted with the Wii,
but are still a Nintendo fanatic, then there is some good news. At
the end of the day, when all has been said and done, Nintendo has
confirmed that Twilight Princess will indeed come to retail outlets
for the GCN on the 13th of December. That's it. Case closed.
the Wii, despite what Nintendo wants us all to believe, is not
really all that cheap ($250 is still a sizable chunk of
change...just smaller than the competition) and will probably still
be a bitch for most people to find before New Years. So, with this
in mind, keeping the GCN Zelda is a brilliant move if Nintendo wants
to avoid alienating part of it's target audience (the Zelda fans)
simply by removing the easiest source for new Zelda action (the GCN
On the other end
of things, it's looking like
Microsoft is considering making a 100GB 360 HDD. However,
Microsoft is not speaking, but considering the fact that 20GB is
small, demos are sometimes large (1+GB), and the PS3 will have (in
the deluxe model) a 60GB drive, Microsoft is almost assured to make
a bigger HDD. The one question I have will be if it will be so
damned over priced like the $100 20GB model.
When the 20GB was
announced, a year back, as being a $100 accessory, it sounded weak.
Back then, you could score a 20GB HDD for a PC for a fraction of
that. Hell, even the more expensive-per-byte laptop HDDs were
costing far less than the 360 HDD. Now, a year later, it's no longer
ridiculous...it's just sad.
If Microsoft wants
to wow some customers, and still not be losing money on a device
that is far cheaper in it's unit price than the 360 version is
letting on, then all they would need to do is offer a good price for
the 100GB model. However, since the 20GB costs $100, I would be
surprised for Microsoft to charge about $150, and then phase out
production of the 20GB drive. After about a year, they will try to
look like they care by making a sudden price drop (once the 20GB
model is no longer in stores) to $100 and calling it the bargain of
the year. Now, I may be off some on this, but I would considering
this a definite betting scenario. However, the one simple fact will
remain in the final price; they cannot make it too attractive as to
have a surplus of 20GB drives. Also they cannot drop the 20GB drive
price as they release the 100GB, or else the memory cards will look
At the very least,
I hope when Microsoft over charges for the next HDD, they should
include an adapter (like a transfer kit) that would throw a USB case
on the 20GB model and allow it to transfer via the 360 USB
ports...but then that would allow a 20GB to be used by a PC, which
would then be like inviting all of the homebrew and hacker types
into the 360 party with a VIP invitation. Still, it would be a nice
scenario to at least help most of us with 20GB HDDs not feel ripped
off when Microsoft starts allowing some larger demos and Arcade
titles to justify the 100GB drive.
On a random final
note, Tony Hawk Project 8 is out in demo form on the 360
Marketplace. I haven't had the time to free myself from Tales of the
Abyss (too much fun), but this may be enough to influence me. If any
of the videos released last month about pulling off tricks were an
indication, this will be one hell of an sweet game. In fact, while I
refuse to hold my breath over it, this could be the rebirth of the
Tony Hawk games (which have been pretty crap-tacular for the last
few years). I just hope that the new trick system doesn't become an
obstacle to enjoying the game.
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