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Malik (4/4/11)

I'm having flash backs of why I gave up on Amazon for buying games for several years. Way back when Smash Brothers Melee came out, I pre-ordered from Amazon. Well, a couple weeks after my friends had started to master the game, it arrived in my hands. It wasn't due to slow shipping, but rather from a huge delay between the game being released and Amazon shipping my copy.

A few years later, the same exact thing happened with Picross DS. I had pre-ordered the game well in advance, and Amazon shipping well after the release date. Even this year, my copy of Dragon Quest VI (DS) shipped almost a week after the release date.

Judging from the message boards I tend to kill time on, this is not a case of Amazon not having the supply on hand to meet the demand of pre-orders as often as it's just Amazon being really slow on some shipments. For some reason, I seem to be (un)lucky enough to be a repeat customer of this school of shipping. It hasn't just been limited to Picross DS, DQVI, and Smash Brothers Melee...they are just two games I can recall the best due to having friends already telling me how awesome the games are well after release (up to a week or more later) and I being left wondering why my game isn't shipping already.

It's not that I'm impatient. It's more that I like to think of Amazon as a good alternative to a brick-and-mortar store. You buy the games on Amazon, and beyond the time for the actual shipment to go from an Amazon warehouse to your door, you get the games nice and quick. However, when the time between buying a game and getting it comes down to other factors, like Amazon themselves, it makes the idea of online commerce for a physical item seem futile and backwards...unless the price difference is large enough to justify the delay in gratification (enjoying your purchase).

I'm thinking about this right now since I purchased Bust-A-Move Universe and a carrying case for my 3DS about one week ago from Amazon (last Tuesday to be precise). Both of these are common enough, and in low enough of demand, to not be expected to be on backorder, and they were never listed as on backorder. I only really bought these from Amazon since they included a $25 credit towards a 3DS title and a free 3DS accessory (from a limited list) when I purchased my 3DS through them. Being cheap and lazy, I decided to go for the free Super Saver Shipping (slow as hell shipping), thinking I'd have my stuff in a week or so for the shipment to arrive.

Well, after almost a week, I'm now wanting my stuff after it finally entered being shipped this afternoon. I would try to change the shipping speed (and pay up a little for a quicker method) if it would speed up getting a 3DS game (I want to see how the games feel with 3D and currently have nothing beyond the built in games for the 3DS). However, since the weekend, my order has been in the status of "preparing shipment". This means I cannot cancel, change the shipping method, or anything else. I'm stuck waiting for some weird multiple day hurdle to clear to get this stuff beyond Amazon and on its way to my home.

This would be annoying on it's own, but one day earlier, I ordered a car stereo on Amazon, also using Super Saver Shipping. The same damned thing happened in this case, with the stereo entering "preparing shipment" a few days ago, only to finally be shipped out today. Now I would start to feel a bit annoyed in this situation, but then comes the weirdest part; I ordered Pokemon White on Saturday, with Super Saver Shipping, only to see it ship out within 24 hours. It makes no sense (and I don't just mean why I ordered a Pokemon game...I'm not sure I can explain that, but the geek's heart wants what the geek's heart wants). There is no rule or reason to this.

Anyway, in some cases I can forget about this frustration. I needed a car stereo for my second (late model back-up) car, and Amazon had such discounted prices (up to 75% less than competitor stores) that some inconvenience is easily forgiven. However, I could get my games, usually, for the same price from any other outlet (Best Buy, Gamestop, or any other typically overpriced outlets). It's this frustration, usually without extra benefit, that just doesn't make any sense to me.


Malik (4/6/11)

Today should be a good day for me. I should be getting my car back after it being in the shop for a week, and I should hopefully be getting Pokemon White in the mail this afternoon. All in all, it's a good day to get some things to either keep me happy or to restore my sanity...driving my secondary car, with a tape deck and four FM presets is not what I'd call a fun experience when Seattle has too many unreliable radio stations.

I'm also trying out a test of sorts today on my 3DS. I tried out Street Pass for the first time on Sunday when I visited my parents for dinner. My mother has a 3DS and we wanted to see how well it would work. It does work quite well, but also it works rather unwell.

I flipped open my 3DS after being at their house for about thirty minutes and found a new notification and a green dot on my Mii Plaza icon. I had obtained my mother's Mii and she was waiting to greet my Mii. However, when my mother fetched her 3DS, there was no Malik on her system...and no notification of a new Mii waiting for her. We tried to play with her Mii Plaza and 3DS settings for about thirty minutes with no success. We just couldn't get the communication to go both ways.

After I went home for the night, I then got a call from my mother thirty minutes later. Somehow, my Mii got trapped in the ether and had to do a bit of swimming. Malik showed up on her 3DS, but well after I had gone home. I don't understand this delay since the range for Street Pass would definitely not cover the half dozen miles between my home and her home. At least it worked out. That was the last I touched my 3DS until last night...and then the weirdness continued.

I had a new green blip waiting for me on Mii Plaza. I checked it out (I was going to play Find Mii anyway) and found my mother's Mii waiting for me...and she proceeded to greet me. I had met her twice now...? On the bright side, it made her more powerful for Find Mii (each new hit of an old Mii adds a level of experience to a Mii), but that didn't help when I was in the dark room of Find Mii and couldn't proceed until I brought someone with a white shirt in to light the room. I still don't know how good a Mii is in Find Mii versus a hired adventurer. I also don't understand how I could meet my mother's Mii a second time when we have not been within a half dozen miles of each other since Sunday night. Oh well...

So, today I'm giving the 3DS another test on Street Pass. I decided it would follow me to work in downtown Seattle. I am still trying to nail down realistic ranges for Street Pass connections, and how likely it is to work in an average environment. This should be a good test of the system, since downtown Seattle seems like a prime place to hit upon other Miis. It doesn't hurt that I also like to take some long walks for my lunch break and pass a Gamestop and a couple malls on my usual walks. It will be interesting to try this out and see if Street Pass is viable yet...

By that, I mean the 3DS is new. It's also coming around during a bad economy. If you add those two facts together, you soon see that the odds of hitting another person on Street Pass is pretty slim right now. If I cannot find some hits in downtown Seattle, then I think I'd see this as just not a likely occurrence for now. Maybe in a less than normal situation (going to a large mall on a weekend afternoon) will work fine right now, but the common average occurrence is what I'm more intrigued about the 3DS. If Nintendo wants to get people using the pedometer and the Street Pass features regularly, then this is a good measure of how well that idea will work with a new system before it has a common market share.

After returning home from this endeavor...I came upon a single Street Pass hit.  I must say, that's a bit better than I expected, even if one is a mighty lonely number.


Malik (4/8/11)

After waiting longer than one would think is reasonable, my copy of Bust A Move Universe (3DS) arrived yesterday. Of all the possible 3DS launch games, this is probably one of the worst for being a launch title. It's also not worth the value, and this is coming from a Bust A Move fan from well beyond a decade ago.

If you know Bust A Move, then you will be able to expect what you'll get in the game, to a point. You get the same standard idea as past Bust A Move titles...almost. You do now have some power-ups/special attacks and a few special bubbles to burst for extra effects. However, you also get fewer levels than I would expect from a new incarnation of the game. It's not like a ton of programming is required to make a Bust A Move level. So, when you have (from what I can see) around seven worlds with 10 puzzles each, it's really a short game. I'm nearly done with the normal game, and all that's left after that is an endless or a timed mode.

The main thing you also get that's new (at least for someone like me who has stuck only with the original one or two Bust A Move titles) is boss battles each ten stages. Like with Zuma 2, the boss battles are not something that adds to the game, and instead only adds a level of frustration as you go from trying to think out your moves to now having to just mash the fire button as quick as possible to just kill a small enemy in a moving bubble. You add three bombs of the same color and the boss takes damage. You then have a timer on these fights, so it's just button mashing pointlessness.

Anyway, I'm glad I only paid $5 for the game thanks to buying my 3DS on Amazon. If I had paid anything beyond $20 (MSRP is $30), I would feel like quite the fool right now. In fact, I don't think I could even consider this game worth beyond $15. It's just too light on content to make it worth the price of admission. It would be like paying the price of a movie ticket to see a single trailer.

At least getting Bust A Move Universe knocks out one of my slow-to-ship Amazon orders. I'm still waiting on one more, which I did order a day later, but also shipped half a day sooner. After that, I think I'll put the brakes on more Amazon ordering unless it's something I cannot get elsewhere or on something with a release date delivery guarantee on it.


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