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Malik (8/15/05)  

For those of us who own PSPs...well, there have been no good games released this summer (well, nothing too exciting, at least), so we all probably have been either letting our systems collect dust or have been playing some homebrew games. I know that's what I've been doing. Well, if it was the web browser that you've been waiting for, you are no doubt aware that it was delayed until (supposedly, since I haven't checked yet, and probably won't) today. Well, with this update, you may get a web browser, but I personally don't think that'd be enough for me to stop using homebrew titles (especially since a web browser is nice, but no new games far outweighs the browsing of 2.0). Anyway, I'm still going to wait until I have to update, which will be in October, when GTA:LCS comes to the stores, since there's no doubt that this game will require a firmware update since Sony is trying to make it so for all big and new titles. 

Anyway, news, like with PSP games, is pretty rare and infrequent right now. I'm hoping this rumor of the XBox 360 finally being announced this week is going to hold true. It's not really news, and it's mostly going to be a bunch of stuff we already know (like the 360 will have a November release date, Kameo and Perfect Dark will be launch titles, it will include the HDD, and it will cost around $300-$350), but it will be nice to know what the price of the games will finally be. After all, when the system is fully announced, that's when the rumors of $60 games will be fully revealed to be true or not. More than that, I personally could do with knowing what the peripherals/accessories will run for. I mean a second (up to a fourth) control is obviously needed, what video cables will be included and available and what price, blah, blah. 

The most important part of this to me would be knowing exactly how much Microsoft is pushing their system as HDTV complaint. In other words, are they going to force HD component cables out of the box (and thus force those who can't afford HDTV to waste extra money on standard composite cables) or will they force HDTV owners to buy HD cables while claiming that their system is intended for HD sets? It's pretty much a surefire way for MS to look like a bunch of asses. Either those who probably have less money (let's face it...if you're getting a 360 at launch and don't have HDTV, you are probably on some sort of budget) are forced to buy extra cables (probably for about $25), or MS sounds like a bunch of hypocrites by calling their console the first of the HD era and not including the most important part to round out this ability. Of course they could try to keep their image extra "cool" looking by including two sets of cables, but that would be more from their profit margins... 

Anyway, I'm just tired of thinking about getting component cables since I've blown far too much money on video cables in the last week. I miss the days when AV stuff was only important for the more secluded and underground of America; us geeks. Back then, when Monster Cable quality cables were nothing but a twinkle in a geek's eye, you could get cables for cheap. However, with the trendiness and mass marketing of quality AV equipment as something beyond just something for the rich or the geeky, cables are just way too pricey (after all, if the masses want quality, then "quality" is all that will be found...for a "quality price"). Blah, I'm just broke and annoyed. 

Anyway, I haven't been up to much more than some good old Heroes of Might and Magic 3 with Velveeta (still, quite possibly, one of the best co-op games of all time). There's no new games to hold my attention, and I just feel too jaded on my old games. So, with not a damned thing extra to talk about today, I'm out. 


Malik (8/16/05)  

After more than a couple years worth of delays, Geist has finally come out for the Gamecube. More than that, it came out at the end of summer. I think anyone who understands what summer means to gamers should know what this usually means; the game is mediocre and should have had more time spent on delaying the release to make it a game worthy of all the delays. 

Gamespot has a review of Geist that makes it sound just like one would expect from a summer release at the end of a console's generational life. Yeah. From how Gamespot makes the game sound, it's not really that bad, as much as it has some pretty weak visuals (which, while I usually don't care too much about, are pretty important for a game dealing with both FPS and haunting themes) and is short as hell. It's not as much that the single player should take about 10 hours to beat as it's the fact that this game just sounds like it would be too bothersome to play through more than once. The possessing idea is pretty interesting on paper, but I can see the annoyance one would begin to feel after their hundredth time of possessing a blender to scare a dude and then possessing the dude. It's cool sounding, but it will probably only be fun for the first two or three times. 

Also, there's some slight news today. It seems that Gamestop is posting a listing for the M rated GTA:SA. Going off of how badly Gamespot and EB are with online release dates, I would normally say this is just not going to happen, but I think Rockstar is a little too motivated this time around for this news to be false (or too false...). After all, they have a lot of money on the line, and they have the awesome fact that the game is still fresh in peoples' minds from the free advertising that Hot Coffee created. Even more than that, this is a great way for Rockstar to sell the game a second time to some select people who threw out their AO rated games in disgust (idiots...). 

Also, for those who like the thought of wasting their money, a few new movies are in store for the PSP in the next two months. While I can say easily that Ong-Bak and Batman are some of the best movies I've ever had the pleasure to see, I still have to wonder about the UMD movie game. It's nice to have portable movies on a simple and elegant portable device (the PSP). However, what makes anyone think spending $30 (or more if your local government likes to make you feel some pain via a sales tax) for a movie that can only be watched on the PSP (and in a lower resolution and with weaker sound quality) a good idea? Meanwhile, for $30, you could have both Ong-Bak and Batman (if you want the DVD, and you spend over $7 before tax, you got ripped off) on DVD with enough money left to grab some food at McDonalds to go with your movies, and you can not only share this with some friends, but you can also watch it without getting a cramp in your wrist. 

Honestly, UMD movies have to be one of the biggest rip-offs I've ever seen. They cost more than DVDs, they hold less quality, lower resolution, and less additional content, and they are limited in what can play them. Meanwhile, if you buy 10 UMD movies, you could have probably bought all of the movies on DVD and got a portable DVD player to watch them on, for the same price (or cheaper). I'm a fan of the concepts behind the PSP, but ripping people off with limited-use substandard movies is not one of those concepts I admire. 

Also, for those keeping score in the console wars, Nintendo, it is safe to say, will continue with all it's efforts to let Microsoft and Sony battle over the top spot this holiday season while they stagnate at the bottom. If you didn't hear, the only thing that could have helped Nintendo this holiday season is Zelda. Well, Twilight Princess is now being pushed back to sometime after the end of March. That's great. I keep saying how I still support and love Nintendo, but even a more dedicated Nintendo fanboy than myself could easily see that Nintendo needs something this November. Unless they can pull off some stealth-attack, in the form of a new and awesome GCN game, they are going to feel a lot of pain. What better time to release a game that will sell consoles than right before the Christmas rush? I guess Nintendo thinks sometime after March is just as good...and Nintendo fanboys wonder why Nintendo isn't on top of the big three... 


Malik (8/17/05)  

It's almost funny that Nintendo seems to be trying to fight off the potential losses this holiday season from the deal of Zelda. At least it would be funny if it wasn't so very sad. It's one thing if they tried to mass market another game out of no where, but it's another thing altogether when their attempts to save themselves amount to this. 

First off, Nintendo announced yesterday, the same day they told us all how Zelda would be delayed, that the DS is getting a $20 price drop. In a way, this is a pretty good move, if Nintendo can afford it. After all, this means the DS will be more affordable for the release of Nintendogs. It also means that Nintendo will be able to put up a stronger fight in the handheld market. Too bad that Nintendo seems to have forgotten that they already have a good thing going in the portable business. After all, the DS is showing it's strength against the PSP and the GBA is still selling like a cheap toy (which is what it's almost become...wait for it...). It's just too bad that this, from my perspective, looks like a rather poorly planned attempt at both recapping losses for Zelda and as a way to help push Nintendogs. 

The main part of that is the Nintendogs part. For those who haven't tried a demo (or an import), this game will probably not be for you. It looks fun, and it looks like the type of game a guy would want in their DS in case they want to appear sensitive to a woman. However, in the end, the game looks like it will pack all of the lasting power of a Tomogatchi (the "amazing" toy that you could find on the ground in parking lots about a month after they were released, simply because no one cared about them anymore). Nintendogs is a great concept, but in the end, it is not the type of cart that should be considered the major release for it's system for that time of year. It's a fun toy...nothing more...of course there's also Advance Wars, but no one would dare to mention this game (which will probably be pretty damned awesome) in anything more than a passing breath when Nintendogs is coming on the same day. 

Speaking of toys (not "fun" toys...just toys...), the GBA Micro has been, in a way, revealed to be ready for the American market on September 19th. This is why I said to wait for it with the "cheap toy" comment. I could be wrong about this, since I've yet to try one out, but the Micro seems like one of the single worst ideas to come out of Nintendo's often confusing brain. Nintendo is always fighting a dual-personality type of battle, and this system helps to show why their can never appear to be anything more than confused. 

Nintendo has long said that they don't have a kiddy image as much as they want to make things that are fun for everyone. That's an awesome idea. After all, I may be in my 20's, but I like Zelda as much now as I did when I was a 8 year old getting my first NES. However, this type of identity crisis is only going to further exasperated by the fact that Nintendo is making a "designer" style game device (it's been called a "fashion piece" by a few too many people already), which means it's obviously aimed at the "tech savvy" people in their 20's-30's. The same people who the iPod is aimed the most towards. However, unlike the iPod, which is easy to use, I see some potential issues when the Micro is so damned tiny and the GBA-SP is already too small for my hands (and I like to think of myself as having quite average sized hands). The Micro is so many times smaller, and yet my hands remain the same size. I think, when I finally get a chance to try this thing out, I'm going to be left, once again, wondering who Nintendo is marketing their ideas to; the general gaming market, or just children. I already know that my hands will easily block the screen, get cramped from trying to hold such a damned tiny object, and I will probably be left thinking, "if Nintendo is pushing the DS so hard, and it can play GBA games while looking somewhat professional, then why the f#%$ did they make this piece of shit". 

Anyway, I just think that Nintendo needs to come to it's senses quite soon. While they have some good strengths in the handheld market, they need to keep fighting to keep their position at the top. Sony is in a prime position to take them down with the current generation, yet Nintendo seems to forget what brought them to this wasn't innovative titles like Nintendogs. They got to the top with good old games; action, RPG, strategy, adventure, puzzle, blah, blah. Also, with the console market, they pretty much have to wake up now if they want the Revolution to hold any chance of being a power in the next generation. After all, the Dreamcast was an awesome console, but it failed due to Sega's pissing off of their customers with the previous two generations (Sega CD, 32-X, Saturn...ring a bell, Nintendo? Sounds a lot like Virtual Boy, N-64, and 64-DD to me). Nintendo is in the perfect position to feel the burn that Sega learned so well. 

Well, I was ready to log off for the day when the Microsoft announcement came along. I have to say it's amazing to see two different companies doing the same exact shit at the same exact time. At least Nintendo is just ignorant of their job and the Zelda delay could prove to be beneficial in the end. As for Microsoft...all I can say is that over-used abbreviation...WTF?! 

So, unlike what I would've bet on (because my thoughts were that Microsoft would take a minor beating financially for now in order to make Sony and Nintendo look bad and thus win over some additional fans in the long run), Microsoft is going to pull the classic blunder of over pricing. The 360 will come, for better or WORSE (sorry, but I had to impose my opinion on this one), in two flavors. There will be the properly priced stripped down crap-tacular edition, and the over-priced standard edition. Yeah, I'm being cryptic and pissed about this. 

To explain, there will be a properly priced $300 360. This will have the amazing ability to have no HDD ( something that's almost required is not included...excellent...?!) and not play any XBox games. So, for those keeping track of things, the promise that the 360 being backwards compatible with all top selling games is not looking like a half load of bull shit. Thanks, Microsoft, for lying about this one. If you say it's backwards compatible in any way, don't turn around and say it's only if you are willing to shell out $100 dollars. After all, that's the price of what we can expect a used XBox to be around November. 

I said half load of bull shit for a reason; for $400 (which is asking too much when you have the potential to go from second place to first...way to think this through Microsoft...f@#%-tards...), you will get the almost required HDD and the ability to play XBox games. Which games? Halo 2 for sure. As for others, no one knows but the f#%&-tards at Microsoft. At least you get a wireless controller this way. Normally, the wireless controller will run for $50 (I won't even get started...not gonna touch this today...). The $300 360 will come with a wired controller. 

"Microsoft hopes to break that mold. The Redmond company is trying to end the financial losses in its console business and put itself in a position to top Sony's dominant PlayStation console franchise in market share." 

You can't have it both ways...either you can dominate and take a minor loss (minor is the key word, since MS makes up for this loss and then some with their other divisions), or you can take no loss (or less of a loss) and not take dominance in this situation. It like the old saying goes...bigger risks equal the potential for bigger rewards. I guess, for once, Microsoft is too scared to come out and take the risk...even when their asses can easily cover any potential losses. Hell, their new licensing program that third party peripheral makers have to abide by (which includes paying MS for each accessory you make) would cover a good deal of it. 

I guess this explains why Sony is not looking afraid for their competition; neither Nintendo nor Microsoft know what the hell they are doing. I was looking forward to a change in dominance (since that's when some really interesting developments had happened in the past), like when Sony took the lead from Nintendo in the 1990's. Blah. 

If you want a better perspective on the prices, Gamespot has a good breakdown of the peripherals and their prices. Also, they have some industry analysts giving their opinions...which basically melt down to one thing; 

Michael Pachter, of Wedbush Morgan Securities, wasn't as cheerful. He sees the $299 model as a "publicity stunt." "They're doing it to say they are launching at $299. The hardcore guys will absolutely not buy the $299 model...Only a complete idiot would buy the $299 model." 

Sounds about right to me. Especially since the HD cables are included only with the $400 version, along with the headset, the media control, the wireless controller, blah, blah. It's like Microsoft is using the publicity, but they are not looking at the fact that we geeks actually will take time to compare things when two "identical" items sell for a $100 difference. Also, this price difference doesn't include the fact that all games will have save features, which means the core unit will actually cost $340 (with the $40 memory unit), unless you actually don't plan to ever save your game. I think it's safe to say that the only $300 360s that will sell are to the "idiots" and to those parents who are desperate for a 360 as a Christmas gift, but are willing to piss their children off with the substandard console rather than no 360 at all. 

Well, as I write this, I've been up since before 3AM and I have no idea if I'm coherent or not, so I'm going to go... 


Malik (8/18/05)  

I was among the first people to have a DS. I pre-ordered, I picked it up right away, and I killed way too many hours playing Mario 64 DS, despite having beaten that game years before on the N64. I am, or at least I should be, a strong DS fan (not a fanboy, however). So, I have to say one thing; enough is enough. 

Does this look familiar to anyone besides me? It's another game from long ago being remade for the DS. This time it's Dig Dug (which was a good game in it's own right...but what was once worth a nice hefty amount of money when I got it for my Commodore 64 is not worth more than a couple bucks in this age. So, why are we being subjected to another remake that will sell for the price of a full new game? At least with Mario 64 we had a good game even in today's standards, and could easily keep you entertained for a couple dozen hours. Dig Dug is a nice diversion if one finds it on a compilation pack, but it's not a full on game anymore. 

I'm getting sick of seeing this lame trend between the two main handhelds. While Sony's people are putting up a battle with either full games, or remakes of modern hits, Nintendo's developers just seem to miss the concept that we should be getting something new...especially when the system has such innovative abilities. So far, DS games have ranged from almost exact copies or toned down versions of previous games (even Wario Ware Touched was lacking compared to the original for the GBA) to a non-stop series of puzzle games. 

With a great battery life, Wi-Fi capabilities, and two screens, the DS is capable of so much more. I can understand a few games being along these lines, but so far it's been all but one game; Kirby. I'll even give Bomberman some credit, since it's a fun game, but it sure isn't original or unique. Maybe when Mario Kart and Animal Crossing come along we will see something fun that can take advantage of the DS, but so far the DS is about the worst case I've seen of an awesome system with no good games...or at least no games worth paying $30 for. Especially, when you can get most of these game (or near copies) for free on the Internet (Zoo Keeper started as an Internet game, like the game it's a clone of; Bejeweled) or in compilations (Dig Dug), or for about $5 at the bargain bin on one of the older consoles. 

Anyway, I just felt like I had to complain about that issue. I've had it with the major game companies showing us that they have no f#@%ing clue as to what they are doing. Microsoft won a short term deal with the two prices for the 360, but they lost a good potential long term chance at evening things out with Sony. Sony is making a system that they describe as "expensive" that has the ability to hook up to side-by-side HD displays (who the hell is going to take advantage of this in their own living room?). Nintendo, being worst of all, has nothing planned for the holiday season, has delayed Zelda for at least 4 months, won't reveal shit on their next-gen console, and has a handheld coming out that is too small for anyone to use it except for the youngest of children (when it's designed as more of a "fashionable" game device). Blah. 


Malik (8/19/05)  

Yesterday I spoke of how Nintendo is going nowhere when it's most "newsworthy" plans come down to releasing a fashionable GBA. Well, normally it's cool to see an innovator setting trends for the game market. This is less than true when the innovator is making fashion pieces. I mean Sony's big plan to counter this horribly designed system is to release a "ceramic white" PSP. 

I don't know...maybe I'm a little more interested in the games I'm playing than the system itself, but I just feel like saying that this type of marketing is bullshit. As one of my friends was telling me a week ago, to paraphrase, it doesn't matter if a console or handheld looks like a pile of shit, it's what's on the display and how well the controller fits your hand that matters. Sadly, while the GBA Micro will have a nice bright and clear display, it will not fit my hands at all. In fact, if you're one of the many people who had discomfort from using a SP, then you'll only feel more cramps and pain from the Micro. 

As for making a white I supposed to give a shit? I seriously want to know. I can understand with a smaller and more kiddie system, like the GBA, that color may matter. After all, the GBA is cheap enough that many may exist, commonly, in a single household. So, having different colors will allow parents to keep easy track of who's GBA belongs to who. However, the PSP is not kiddie friendly (just trying to set up an Internet connection can be a bitch if you don't know what you're doing), and it sure as hell is not cheap. I don't expect all that many households to have multiple PSPs, and even if there was a place, the PSP allows enough customization with the main menu (like user names) that keeping them straight is an easy task. 

I know that this type of trend, with making portables fashionable, is probably a good money making scheme. I mean a lot of stupid people would be more than happy to shell out an extra $250 for a second PSP that has a new color scheme, however these stupid people really annoy the shit out of me. I would rather see Sony and Nintendo take the small amount of time that went into making fashionable systems and use it for something constructive. If all the market research and planning and development costs for making different color and shaped (I won't count the SP as lame here, since Nintendo made it more functional than the original GBA by having a shell to protect the screen and front lighting to make things visible), imagine what wonders could have been released. 

Also, for those wondering, to completely change topics, the 360 operating without a HDD should not be an issue for game play. Elder Scrolls 4, which should be about the most intensive (hardware-wise) of the launch titles, will not require the HDD So, if this game, which will obviously push the limits of the 360 more than any other launch title, doesn't require the HDD, then I doubt any would force a person to have it. Of course, to go without the HDD means you have to get a $40 memory card with a fraction of the space, and you'll be out the ability to play XBox games, and you'll be without the media control, and you'll be without the headset, and you'll...well, it's pretty obvious that you'll have wasted your money on the crapier version of the console. 

Anyway, there's no real news, no new games worth mentioning (maybe Death Jr., but I don't have the money after getting my HDTV), and nothing exciting going on. It is the Summer, after all. True, before we know it, the Summer will be at an end and news and games shall flow forth like water from a hose, but for now... 

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