Non-Flash Links At Bottom Of Page

Malik (10/16/06)  

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 scratch ticket.

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 use eBay.

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 pre-order deposit.

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.


Malik (10/17/06)  

I've been a user of eBay and their sister site 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 out.

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 may have heard that 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).


Malik (10/18/06)  

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 original package...

Another rumor (and I think the answer to this one is more of a given for me) is now saying that GTA IV will have episodic content on the PS3 as well as on the 360. Now the answer to this should be obvious.

Considering how 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.


Malik (10/19/06)  

So, now 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 existed.

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).

In all 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 game...

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. other 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.


Malik (10/20/06)  

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.

Considering how 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 version).

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'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 worthless.

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.


For Those Who Don't Have Flash Plug-Ins...

Rested XP    News    Reviews    Videos    Features    Forums    Archives    Search This Site    Links    Contact Us    Disclaimer

Non-Flash Links At Bottom Of Page