Recent Gaming Opinion Posts



July 5, 2008

Led Zeppelin uncomfortable with making money

I am talking about this Kotaku post of course, where Led Zeppelin is apparently not comfortable letting people like Harmonix and Activision get their dirty hands on the master recordings of their songs in order to make the goodness that is Rock Band or Guitar Hero tracks.

Continue reading "Led Zeppelin uncomfortable with making money" »

January 22, 2008

FOX News on Mass Effect Sex Debate

But oh, what's this? You invited the capable Geoff Keighley on the show to combat the embarrassingly uninformed opinions of one Ms. Cooper Lawrence (loving that book cover, Cooper), a "developmental psychologist" who literally laughs at the mere prospect of playing a video game before flapping her gums about it on national television. Sure, they don't give Geoff enough time to get as many punches in as we'd have liked to see, but that double dose of "that's completely incorrect" is sure to leave a mark in the morning.
Source: Joystiq

I talked about this debacle on last week's Multiplayer Chat radio show (Townhall.com seems to have taken the entire article down, deleted it from their system. but you can read about the "virtual orgasmic rape" because of Google Cache -- the first page anyways).

Well now this video from FOX News just has to be the worst bit of mainstream media I have seen covering video games. Ever. It is just appalling to watch. But just like a train wreck, you cannot look away. Props to Geoff Keighley for trying to set things strait. When Ms. Cooper Lawrence laughed at the question of if she had played the game, I just lost it.

For those who are not in the know, allow me to spell it out for you:

Mass Effect has NO full frontal nudity.

The game is labeled Mature and it is not the governments job (or media) to be the parent and monitor what their kids have access to. Ironically enough. It is the parents job.

You cannot have sex with anyone you wish in Mass Effect.

If you do not develop the relationship, you could play the entire game without the sex scene. Sounds like real life, no?

In the sex scene, you see the side of a boob, blurred, and a small portion of a butt. Again, there is no full frontal nudity in Mass Effect.

I could pick apart line for line what these FOX talking heads had to say, but I will lave you with this: FOX News needs its head examined, not the ESRB. At least Jack Thompson does his research.

January 5, 2008

2001 Isn't Retro

Note to the always intelligent (sarcasm) Major Nelson readers/Xbox Live users. Metal Slug 3 should not be 400 points because it's "retro." The damn thing came out in 2001 and probably has more frames of animation than some 3-D titles. It's not retro because it's 2-D, and it could not have been done on the SNES. The slowdown isn't there because of "frame rate issues" or because the coding is sloppy. It's always been there and makes the freakin' game possible.

Read some of the other whiney, hilariously uneducated thoughts on this 100+ comment piece.

December 21, 2007

Criterion Responds to Burnout Paradise Criticism

I think someone at Criterion Games got a little hot under the collar. Lovingly disguised as a Merry Christmas post, Alex Ward hits on multiple points that gamers have had with the Burnout Paradise demo.

I guess he would not like my take on the game, then. See, I was thinking of a snarky subhead for a Blogcritics review of the game: Burnout: Need For Speed Paradise Unlimited.

Thats not to say I do not like the demo (the jury is still out on that), it is just that Burnout has never been able sandbox game play. And now it is. And it is weird. So Alex, people are going to take issue with that. Deal with it.

I downloaded both the PS3 and the 360 versions of the demo (because I can) and have played them both now. Without seeing the game side by side I do not see a big difference. I do not know what makes the PS3 version look so much better, as I have seen many people say.

November 28, 2007

Rock Band vs. Real Band

A well written column from Slate that you should read: Sleater-Kinney's guitarist tests out the new video game Rock Band.

November 27, 2007

Rock Band Commercials

The Rock Band commercials are pretty funny. But they show zero game footage. That is, in my opinion, pretty dumb considering kids are going to be asking their parents for a $170 game.

Sure, the kids have seen the game and possibly played it at Best Buy or something, but showing some game play so that mom or dad sitting at home could see the game wouldn't hurt.

Or maybe it was a choice not to show game play as four people jumping around a living room playing a video game would just look silly in a TV commercial.

November 7, 2007

Look How Well These Two Go Together

irony.png

This might take some explaining for it to really sink in. I know, it is funny already. The Guitar Hero III Companion Pack CD comes with three songs you can download and play in Guitar Hero III. See, now that is sweet irony.

October 18, 2007

Guitar Hero III will own your soul

The final song? The Devil Went Down To Georgia. Here is the version that will be in Guitar Hero III, as the final encore. Now picture playing that, and cry.

April 20, 2007

The Video Game Violence Myth

This past Monday bore witness to a horrific event, when a Virginia Tech student killed more than 30 other students and professors. Such a massive and sudden loss of life in a setting intended to be one of safety and growth is absolutely worthy of personal reflection and sorrow. Unfortunately, this tragic event, like others in the past, has also been seen as a prime opportunity for politicization.
Source: MediaPost Blog

Good read, I highly recommend it. Actually, I think it should be mandatory for one Jack Thompson.

January 12, 2007

Game console can be porn gateway

Here is another clueless network affiliate out for ratings and attention. And its not even sweeps week! WFAA has an article on porn on the Wii and PS3 web browsers. Don't miss the video either!

There is one very good point in this piece, it is buried, and should be the lede of this piece. This could have even been turned into hard news, had the reporter gotten ahold of Nintendo.

Continue reading "Game console can be porn gateway" »

November 4, 2006

Dennis McCauley Talks Bully

In his "The Political Game" column this week, Dennis talks about Bully. It is a good read, be sure and check it out.

Also be sure and read Jason's full review of Bully.

Yes, I meant to post this when it was written on October 20, but I am just now filtering through stuff.

September 29, 2006

Horse Armor 2.0

Bethesda has been outdone by Volition with this new "Funky Fresh Pack" for Saints Row. Costing 100 MSP, you get:

Clothing
Fake Tuxedo Shirt
Short Sleeve Tropical Shirt
Spiked Leather Jacket
Leopard Skin Underwear
Tiger Stripes Underwear
Leather Chaps
Crazy Bunny Slippers

Accessories
Samurai Helmet
Eye Patch
Skull Ring
Row Medallion
Saints Row Wrist Band

Hair
Full Spikes
Curly Gent Mustache
Ladies Man Mustache
Split Goatee
Sharp Edge Mutton

Tattoos
Panther
Rattlesnake
Biohazard
Ankh
Spider

This is just as bad as the horse armor in Oblivion, and should be free.

September 28, 2006

Sonic Demo Is Craptastic

If Sonic creator, Yuji Naka, knew that this is where SEGA wanted Sonic to go, it's no wonder he left the company. The Sonic demo, if you haven't played it yet, is bad. Really bad. Believe me, I am a Sonic fan. I write for 360 Fanboy it's true, but I am a SEGA fanboy at heart. Thus, it hurts me even more to tell you that the demo is just not very good. It's not unplayable, but parts of it are close.
Source: Xbox 360 Fanboy

Its not just me.

Lets not be kind. The new Sonic demo that came out today is just shit. The camera is horrible, the cheap deaths are at an all time high, did I mention the camera is horrible? It makes the game unplayable, period.

Matt agrees with me, Jason agrees with me, Andy agrees with me (this has to be a first). Rob, on the other had -- the largest SEGA fanatic you will likely meet -- sees no problem with the camera.

My hope is that this is an old demo. The camera should not feel like it has "weight" to it when you try and swing it around. It makes it impossible to see enemies shooting at you. The camera also makes it quite hard to hit a number of the enemies in the demo.

I am not even going to go into the cheap deaths. They are really bad.

Oh, and for some reason, Sonic now skates as much as the players in NBA Live 95, while on grass. When you turn, Sonic skates! He used to slide, and this is normal behavior for a hedgehog, but skating? No.

September 26, 2006

NHL 2K7 Ice

I don't like hockey games, I never have. But I do like to see what realism developers can bring to any game based on life.

I thought the ice in NHL 2K6 looked good. 2K Sports outdid themselves yet again, the ice in NHL 2K7 is even better.

August 19, 2006

Favorite, Worst Game of All Time

Nick Hurm was up from Cincy to help layout the paper last night. After that he and I headed over to the local Waffle House for some well needed nourishment.

He asked me what my favorite game of all time is. While Super Mario Bros. springs to mind, Arkanoid takes top honors in my book. I first played Arkanoid on an Amiga, but mostly played it on an Apple IIGS, then later on the NES, Game Boy, and SNES.

Why is it my favorite? It is simple and addictive. The game has not aged a bit since it was released 20 years ago.

The worst game of all time is obvious, E. T. for the 2600. Why? Because it sucked. It was doomed from the start, and ultimately became the biggest failure in the industry.

So, what is your favorite game of all time? And what do you think is the worst game of all time?

July 31, 2006

E3 2007 Not Canceled, Really?

Today was not the day to write an op-ed about this incident. I started and restarted, edited, and edited, and then had to add more. I *think* all the news of the day is out. You can read my op-ed that is published on Blogcritics.

You may also wish to read Next-Gen's Ten Reasons for E3's Collapse. It has some good points.

I am not sure what to think about the 5,000 people small show in a hotel in LA. I am going to wait for more news from the ESA. Is the "new" E3 a way to salvage a show without the big names (Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, EA) and is Lowenstein spinning this "evolution"? I have no idea. But I want more solid answers first, before I form a hair-brained idea.

August, September Will Be Expensive

The tumble weed-slow months of June and July are behind us today. Sure, there were a trickle of games worth buying in that time, but not enough!

Why doesn't the gaming industry spread these releases out? August, September, and October will see the release of some really hot games. Then the holiday rush starts in November.

The launch of the Wii and the PS3 will not help me at all, as their are titles I want for the 360, PSP, DS, and even the PS2 in that same time frame. This is an expensive time to be a gamer, that is for sure.

Continue reading "August, September Will Be Expensive" »

July 28, 2006

My Gripe with Galaga (XBLA)

The only thing that really bothers me about the game is how slow it is. Not the actual game itself, but trudging through the menus is absolute hell. This was accepted in an arcade cab, but not now that we have a Start button on our controller.

Starting a game takes forever, and restarting a game after you die takes even longer.

You do not see this in Frogger, for example. It is annoying when we are used to instantly loading games on the XBLA, it does not matter if this is an arcade port or not. They have already modified it for the 360, they could have addressed the in-game menus as well.

PSP 2.8, Mercury Meltdown Demo Rock

Today Sony released version 2.8 of its firmware. PSP owners the world over look at upgraded firmware as either a blessing or a curse. I stand firmly in the "blessing" camp.

Adding the ability to subscribe to video podcasts is great. You no longer need to use arcane syntax to name video files either. It also appears that Sony no longer requires the PSP video "wrapper" as videos formatted for the iPod (MPEG-4) work just fine, with no transcoding required.

I am glad to see a sequel to Mercury, and the Mercury Meltdown demo is a lot of fun. The art design is a total shocker, but the real suprise is the additional game play elements introduced this time around. Check out the trailer on YouTube.

July 5, 2006

Is White PSP Ad Racist?

No.

Both Kotaku and Joystiq are reporting on a new ad Sony is running for the new (if you live in North America) white PSP. Of course both of these upstanding social institutions started the FUD off right with well written headlines.

They say "offensive" (Kotaku) and "racially charged" (Joystiq) but I say "bull shit." Of course hundreds of commenters hash out why or why not the ad has racial connotations to it.

The dominance card just doesn't fly, considering the third image. Not to mention that the symbolism that black and white PSP equals black and white human being is so plane and simple -- and quite frankly, brilliant marketing.

The people who are racist here are the people writing the articles and commenting on them. If you cannot understand symbolism then I am not sure you would understand racism to begin with.

Of course these are the people who say that Loco Roco is racist, because it has black (OMFG!) bad guys in it.

Chill out people. If you go looking for a black eye, you will likely find one.

June 15, 2006

Major Nelson: We Love Ya, Even If Some Don't Show It

Warning: The following is an angry rant. You probably won't like me when I'm angry, but I only rant when I know I'm right.

As such, the following piece would likely come up in a Google search when you're looking for certain types of porn (especially in Njiska's case). It should not be read by children, animals, or sponges. Especially not sponges. Those things are scary.

That disclaimer aside, let the ranting begin!

Continue reading "Major Nelson: We Love Ya, Even If Some Don't Show It" »

June 6, 2006

Backwards Compatibility is a Feature Customers Want, Expect

Editor's Note: This is a Point/Counter Point discussion between Matt Paprocki and Ken Edwards on the backwards compatibility of games on the Xbox 360. You can keep up with the entire discussion at Blogcritics. I encourage you to read the other articles in this series.

Microsoft will provide what their customers want. They will bend over backwards, especially in Japan, to get an Xbox 360 (and a nice Samsung HDTV) into your living room. Granted, they are working against an unknown (the PlayStation 3) but until Sony drops to Number 2 in the market, Microsoft will always need to match, and exceed Sony any way possible.

Continue reading "Backwards Compatibility is a Feature Customers Want, Expect" »

June 5, 2006

Backwards Compatibility is a Wasted, Unneccesary Financial Risk

The Xbox 360 is a different piece of hardware. Backwards compatibility is an issue because of this, and the cost to implement new emulators for games isn't cheap. Ken's right to say that newly released titles for the original Xbox should be ready to go on the 360 when they launch.

Continue reading "Backwards Compatibility is a Wasted, Unneccesary Financial Risk" »

June 4, 2006

Xbox Live Arcade: The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread, Fire

The Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) is, without a doubt, a big selling point for the Xbox 360. Some people might not look at it this way, but it has been one of the best reasons to own the system.

Far be it from Microsoft to turn "hard-core" games into "casual' gamers, but that is exactly what they have done. Xbox Live Arcade appeals to both hard-code and casual crowds, and is also a big reason for its success.

Continue reading "Xbox Live Arcade: The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread, Fire" »

June 3, 2006

Backwards Compatibility and Xbox 360: The Feature That Brings You Back

Microsoft has been in an uphill battle since before Day One of the Xbox. They need to sell consoles. And right now the Xbox 360 is again facing an uphill battle, this time against the PS3. They might have been first out of the gate, they might have the software right now, but Sony is not going to give up their market share without a fight.

Continue reading "Backwards Compatibility and Xbox 360: The Feature That Brings You Back" »

June 2, 2006

Backwards Compatibility and Xbox 360: The Feature You Don't Need

This week, Microsoft's Vice President of their video game division Peter Moore made a statement that sent video game fans, specifically Xbox 360 owners, into a frenzy. He stated the company was done with backwards compatibility for the Xbox 360 as there was no interest in it. While the emulation team designated to develop the software to run Xbox games on the new hardware stated they were still working on this aspect of the system, it's time to step back and realize Peter Moore is right.

Continue reading "Backwards Compatibility and Xbox 360: The Feature You Don't Need" »

May 19, 2006

Louisiana Passes Violent Video Game Law On Lies

How can anything in our political system pass when its reasons for existence are nothing but lies? Louisiana recently passed a bill, thanks to Rep. Roy Burrell, to keep video games out of the hands of minors. Obviously, the debate on whether or not that's our government place is other issue entirely. The problem with this bill is HOW it passed.

Continue reading "Louisiana Passes Violent Video Game Law On Lies" »

May 9, 2006

E3 2006: Nintendo Succeeds in Debuting the Wii, Makes up for Sony Keynote

After last years keynote that barely qualified as a sneak peek, Nintendo brought everything out this year. It was apparent from the start that they were out push the proper inviting mood. Having Shigeru Miyamoto open their session while conducting a virtual orchestra with the Wii controller was a brilliant move, setting up everything that was to come.

Continue reading "E3 2006: Nintendo Succeeds in Debuting the Wii, Makes up for Sony Keynote" »

E3 2006: Sony Manipulates Its Audience During Press Conference

Sony never needs to worry about development costs. They let other companies do their work for them. After last nights E3 press conference, the internet lit up with heavy and harsh criticism for video gamings leading seller, and all of that still isn't enough to give them what they deserve.

Continue reading "E3 2006: Sony Manipulates Its Audience During Press Conference" »

May 7, 2006

Counter-Point: New Video Game IPs Are Crucial

Note: This piece is a direct response to Rob Faraldi's Gaming: A Stagnant Puddle of Mediocrity.

Continue reading "Counter-Point: New Video Game IPs Are Crucial" »

May 4, 2006

Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion Receives "M" Rating: Who's to Blame?

It's one of those stories that causes a cringe from anyone who follows the video game industry. From last years Grand Theft Auto "Hot Coffee," we have a current situation with Bethesda's Elder Scrolls Oblivion," which has been hacked to expose female nudity and will be given a stricter rating. Nudity in games is becoming far too hot of an issue, though this current concern is different. There isn't a single source of blame here, and the reactions from those parties have caused this story to spin in directions it shouldn't be spinning.

Continue reading "Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion Receives "M" Rating: Who's to Blame?" »

April 6, 2006

Elder Scrolls Fans Refuse To Dress Up Horses

It's amazing how finicky the die-hard gaming public is. Actually, it's not amazing at times; it's embarrassing. A recent item for Bethesda's Elder Scrolls title has caused controversy, the type that makes you sit back and shake your head while you reflect on other hobbies you'll be taking up.

The item in question is armor. Horse armor to be specific. To reiterate:

Horse armor. For a horse that doesn't exist. Armor.

Continue reading "Elder Scrolls Fans Refuse To Dress Up Horses" »

March 3, 2006

New Games Galore, With Bonus Commentary

Lately I have a ton of new games to play. Some are new, others are just new to me. During my latest eBay exploits I nabbed Virtua Tennis for PSP, Bust-a-Move DS, and Outlaw Golf 2 for Xbox - all for less than $50.

Continue reading "New Games Galore, With Bonus Commentary" »

March 1, 2006

Marc Ecko On The Defensive Over His New Game

It's hard to say this for a lot of people, and many of them won't admit it, but Marc Ecko is right. The media has latched onto a recent quote from the fashion designer about gamers. The single line is as follows:

"I would say there are gamers that have a predisposition to have a bug up their ass for anything urban."

Continue reading "Marc Ecko On The Defensive Over His New Game" »

January 28, 2006

The Long Week in Video Game Violence

To say the past week has been a wild, insane, and completely absurd for video gamers is an understatement. While no particular story stands out as big as "Hot Coffee" did last year, combined they take a toll. The games may seem like they're most important part of the industry, yet the attacks against them are becoming far more serious.

Continue reading "The Long Week in Video Game Violence" »

January 27, 2006

Xbox 360 Annoyances: Xbox Dashboard

The Xbox 360's Operating System, otherwise known as the Xbox Dashboard, is a vast improvement over what the original Xbox had. The four "Blades" are organized pretty well. There are, however, a few things that should be improved. I don't see why they cannot upgrade Xbox Dashboard like they upgraded the original Xbox. There have already been small updates to the Xbox Dashboard since Nov. 22, 2005 - but I am proposing some major overhauls in terms of usability.

Continue reading "Xbox 360 Annoyances: Xbox Dashboard" »

January 26, 2006

The Anniston Star Links Our Article To Family Media Guide

Note: Although this column may seem a little old - it was originally penned in December 2005 - the subject matter is surprisingly (not really) still relevant today.

It is always nice to get linked to by other sites. Sometimes the usage of said links is a little odd. The Anniston Star linked to the article Matt and I wrote about the Best Games of 2005. They even have a great intro graph for it:

It’s always nice when people who like video games and people who don’t like video games agree, and this year they agree on “Resident Evil 4.” The Family Media Guide said it was the most “ultra-violent” video game of the year, while a loose consortium of blogger-gamers said it also was the best of the year.
Since I am on the subject, lets take a look at The Family Media Guide's Top 10 Ultra-Violent Video Games of 2005.

Continue reading "The Anniston Star Links Our Article To Family Media Guide" »

January 20, 2006

Bring Back the Real Hardcore Gamers

There's something funny about the "hardcore" gaming crowd. It's tough to pinpoint what that is unless you've been around message boards or hang out with a group of them. The specific sector of gamers being discussed here are the ones screaming for originality in an industry that supposedly lost its way. At least, that's what many of them will tell you. That's where the problem lies:

They're horribly, blatantly, and impossibly hypocritical.

Continue reading "Bring Back the Real Hardcore Gamers" »

January 4, 2006

Cross System Comparison/Review: Peter Jackson's King Kong

Rather oddly, the video game version of Peter Jackson’s $200 million dollar remake of King Kong is barely anything like the movie. The only thing it has in common is a giant ape that ends up in New York and climbs a building. Everything in each major hardware change is played out different, and depending on what system you’re playing it on, even the games themselves vary greatly.

Continue reading "Cross System Comparison/Review: Peter Jackson's King Kong" »

December 21, 2005

The Worst in Video Games 2005

Sure, we can call it the best year for gaming ever. That's possibly true. However, no year is perfect, and the industry as a whole provides numerous opportunities to have fun. So, instead of those typical, boring, and cheaply planned out best of lists, let's hand out some awards for the "less fortunate" people, places, and things from the industry we love… some times.

Continue reading "The Worst in Video Games 2005" »

December 11, 2005

If It's In The Game, You're Hallucinating

We all know how bad Madden 360 is by now. But this is the best post I have seen on the subject. NickySantoro360 writes:

After more play time with Madden 06 for XBOX360, I have noticed even more missing features/bugs. This list is sure to continue growing. This is a list of stuff that has either already been in Madden on previous gen systems, or was in the competitions' game LAST YEAR or sooner:
See the entire Madden 06 XBOX360 Missing Features / Glitches list.

Breaking Windows Best Games of 2005

It's pretty much official. This has been the biggest year for video games EVER. Yes even bigger than last year. Not surprisingly, a lot of the big software has hit in the past few months. Even still, we at Blogcritics.org are going to make sense of the software that's hit over the entire year. No, we haven't played every console game this year (though if someone would like to send us a set, that would be nice), but out of what we've played, these are the dozen titles that stick out from the pack.

Continue reading "Breaking Windows Best Games of 2005" »

December 6, 2005

Xbox 360’s Downloadable Demos

One of the great new features of the new and improved Xbox Live on the 360 is a downloadable demo. Not only demos of the fun and addicting arcade games, but demos of full 360 games - the games you will be spending $60 on.

So far you can download a demo of: Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Kameo: Elements of Power, NBA Live 06, and Madden NFL 06. These downloads range from 400 MB in size to almost 900 MB. It takes the better part of an hour usually to get one of these. But when you think about it, this is time well spent.

Continue reading "Xbox 360’s Downloadable Demos" »

Roger Ebert and Video Games: A Sign of the Times

I have a huge amount of respect for Roger Ebert. Many people have a hard time understanding why he has become rich stating his opinion. They don't understand how educated that opinion is. At least, we should expect his opinion to be educated. In a recent response to reader mail (third letter down), he's drawn the eye of many gamers by failing to give due respect to the medium.

Continue reading "Roger Ebert and Video Games: A Sign of the Times" »

November 30, 2005

The Farce of the "Video Game Report Card"

For 10 years now, video gamers have been subjected to the mainstream media reporting on the National Institute on Media and the Family's video game report card. This biased, ridiculous, manipulating, and sometimes even funny document needs to be dissected just to view it in the proper light. That's what will happen here.

Continue reading "The Farce of the "Video Game Report Card"" »

November 29, 2005

The Myth About Defective Launch Day Consoles

Reports are everywhere, as they always seem to be, about problems with launch day Xbox 360s. Overheating, melted hard drives, games crashing, graphical glitches, and Xbox Live problems are all being reported on message boards. There's only one question I have: Who are these people?

Continue reading "The Myth About Defective Launch Day Consoles" »

November 22, 2005

Xbox 360 First Impressions

Like a 12 year old waking up at 4:30 in the morning of Christmas to open his presents, I bolted down to my local video game retailer today. And when I say bolted, I mean it. I did not just walk on the sidewalk, I ran. Yes, I am a grown man. This is what a new video game console can do to a person.

The Xbox 360 (360) has more pizzazz behind it this time around because it is the first to market in the “next-gen” crowd. Sony and Nintendo have no tangible wares to show us. Even at this year’s E3, Microsoft had the competition beat with many more playable games.

Continue reading "Xbox 360 First Impressions" »

The Great Xbox 360 Shortage of 2005

November 22nd is here at last and most of the Xbox 360s shipped to the US have been put on sale at midnight.

As it turns out, the rumors of a Xbox 360 (360) shortage were true. We all thought it was going to be a problem come launch, we just wanted to remain oblivious to the situation.

Crunch time hit and Microsoft cut its original shipments by half, or worse. The store I purchased my 360 from was originally receiving 20 units. They now have only five to sell. Many stores, including Electronics Boutique, GameStop, Sam Goody, and the like have an unusually height number of pre-orders and not nearly enough 360s to go around. Someone screwed up and who are you going to blame? Microsoft.

Continue reading "The Great Xbox 360 Shortage of 2005" »

November 10, 2005

The Xbox 360 Moving Towards an Ugly Launch

As far as history is concerned, what's about to happen to the video game industry can only be described as broken. Of course, I'm referring to the Xbox 360 launch, which at this point is nothing short of disastrous, and it's not even out yet. The majority of the problems lie with Microsoft.

Continue reading "The Xbox 360 Moving Towards an Ugly Launch" »

October 20, 2005

'My Xbox' might make you think twice

IGN has an article on the new Xbox 360 integration of Xbox Live and Xbox.com. You can also drink the official Kool-Aid from Xbox.com itself.

Sure you can turn it off (I think) but in the next generation, everyone is going to know what games you play, how well (or poor) you do, and what parts of games you have unlocked.

Continue reading "'My Xbox' might make you think twice" »

October 18, 2005

Jack Thompson brings self-destruction on himself

It's about time someone on the "other" side jumped in to discredit insane Miami Lawyer Jack Thompson. With this letter, sent from the Nation Institute of Media and the Family, Thompson seems to be slowly destructing inside his little ring of lies. Dr. David Walsh finally figured out it's not helping his organization if Jack is on their side, demanded the link to their website be removed from Thompson's, and things would only spiral downward from there.

Continue reading "Jack Thompson brings self-destruction on himself" »

September 27, 2005

What is wrong with gaming forums?

Why do people have to be utter ass holes on forums? This happens most commonly on gaming related forums, but it surely does not stop there. You could account this to a large amount of teenage boys, but it is simply not the case. There is a very large contingent of gamers over the age of 18. These people ruin the point of having a forum.

Everyone is out to "serve" everyone else. They need to make you look bad so they can look good. Pathetic.

Rant over.

September 18, 2005

Holy Toledo Batman: New PSP Games

It has been almost six months before we had a wave of PSP titles to talk about. It was barely a trickle between March and September. But the middle of September is finally here, and now starts the second wave of games for Sony's portable Playstation.

Continue reading "Holy Toledo Batman: New PSP Games" »

September 9, 2005

Today's anniversary: Sega Dreamcast

You were there. You rushed into the store and snapped up the subtle box. You knew what you held in your hands was "thinking." You knew Sega finally pulled through with a winner.

Continue reading "Today's anniversary: Sega Dreamcast" »

September 8, 2005

Why I'm losing my interest in becoming a game journalist

Why have video game magazines become painful to read? It's because my peers write things like this (from this months Official Xbox Magazine):

From the Delta Force: Black Hawk Down Review:

"The Somalian rebels are so indistinguished and repetitious that gameplay can become reminiscent of bad SNES platformers like Double Dragon"

Continue reading "Why I'm losing my interest in becoming a game journalist" »

September 4, 2005

Still playing Wipeout Pure

How many video games can you say you have played consistently for a full six months - and still intend to play for many more months to come.

That is the best compliment you can give a game. Not a Game of the Year award. Not a review with high praise. No, the best thing you can say is that you are still playing the game months after the shine has worn off.

Continue reading "Still playing Wipeout Pure" »

August 26, 2005

Video games aren't violent enough

Video games aren't violent enough. I want intestines spewing all over the place, legs ripped off, eyes popped out, and people torn limb from limb. That's right, more violence.

Continue reading "Video games aren't violent enough" »

August 24, 2005

Screw EB Games

Um no. No, no, no, no. You want me to pay $700 for a $400 Xbox 360 and I don't even get to choose the games!?!? No, just no. This is ridiculous, and there's no way in hell I'm paying that much. I don't care if it's online only or not. Your business practices suck. Time to find a Gamestop in the area.

August 21, 2005

Video game journalism needs an overhaul

A month ago, longtime gaming journalist Dave Halverson wrote an editorial in Play about what the video game industry needs to do in order to become "accepted." It was an excellent piece (unfortunately not available online), and brought up the similarities between gaming and Hollywood. There's one that needs repeating, and one that needs to be added.

Continue reading "Video game journalism needs an overhaul" »

August 20, 2005

So where the hell is it?

"The PSP Firmware 2.0 Upgrade for the North American market will be available during the week of August 15th, instead of on August 12, as previously reported."
Source: IGN PSP

Hey Sony: Do you want a black eye? It seems you do. It is now Saturday, August 20th. Tell me, what do you consider "during the week of August 15th" because I would consider that between Monday and Friday. If I don't see it by Sunday at midnight I am going to turn into a rather irritated customer and start calling as many Sony numbers as I can, starting with that one from inside that PSP box.

So screw you Sony. I can count the games released for the PSP in the last three months on one hand, which the DS has seen a number of (quality) games in that same time period. There is no reason to alienate your (somewhat) loyal fans who payed a lot of money for a next generation portable gaming/media device. Our investment in your PSP doesn't seem to look as good right about now. Your UMD movie smoke screen might work on other people. It doesn't work on me.

Screw you Sony.

UPDATED (from my Blogcritics post):
The ONLY reason I bring this up is because Sony promised twice, and broke that promise twice. First they said we would have it August 12. Then they said the week of August 15. If Sony had come out with a press release saying it needed to be delayed because of, say testing, I would have no problems at all.

Besides, I am running 2.00 on my PSP, the Japanese install file works just fine on US units.

Most people won't go to the trouble of going to a Japanese site to download the update though.

Sony is not being up front with their customers.

August 17, 2005

APA wants violent games toned down

They seem to be missing two key points:

Kids shouldn't be playing the games to begin with.

Other research shows they have no ill effects.

I particularly love this quote:

"Showing violent acts without consequences teaches youth that violence is an effective means of resolving conflict. Whereas, seeing pain and suffering as a consequence can inhibit aggressive behavior,"

So, shooting someone and watching them grab whatever body part was just shot doesn't show pain? Watching their head blow off doesn't show they die? But again, none of this matters. "Youth" shouldn't have them, period. Research wasted... again.

August 7, 2005

The week in video game violence starring Jack Thompson

One of the major networks should start a new reality show on video games. They only need to look at one small portion of the industry, which would make the budget small, because that's the only one most of the nation knows about. So, in the past few weeks, Bully, Sims 2, and Killer 7 along with a few flash games have made the news.

Continue reading "The week in video game violence starring Jack Thompson" »

August 6, 2005

Orignal video games and sales numbers

If you're a member of any video game message board, you've certainly seen your fair share of gamers complaining about the lack of originality in today's games. There's a reason for it. Here's a stat from the latest Electronic Gaming Monthly:

Continue reading "Orignal video games and sales numbers" »

July 29, 2005

UMD movies are hot. Why?

I'm the type of person who will completely admit when he's wrong. So, I was wrong. Way wrong. So wrong that it's not even possible to be more wrong. UMD movies have taken off. They're so hot, retailers are scrambling to find space for all of the new product. Don't believe they're selling? Movie studios are pumping out product so fast, we'll already see Thumbtanic on UMD by the end of the year.

Continue reading "UMD movies are hot. Why?" »

July 22, 2005

Just to illustrate a point

So I was playing Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes for the first time the other day and as I was looking closely at how the characters were redesigned, an impression struck me:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

On the left: Late Night talk show host Conan O'Brien; on the right: Solid Snake, as redesigned for the GameCube. Seperated at birth?

July 16, 2005

The ESRB and Grand Theft Auto: Round 50... or something around there

What does the ESRB do right? Everything. Unfortunately, there are those people out there who would like to think other wise, and the controversy over the recent Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Hot Coffee sex sequence is about far more than sex in a single video game. It's a deep look at what the ESRB does, and who they are.

Continue reading "The ESRB and Grand Theft Auto: Round 50... or something around there" »

July 15, 2005

A completely untapped market

I've not been watching La Tour de France or anything but I keep hearing about Lance Armstrong and it's made me realize: Bicycle racing is a completely untapped market in video games. I mean just imagine, the guy's won the race like a gazillion times in a row and no endorsement deal for "Lance 'Lefty' Armstrong's X-treme Tour de la France" on X-Box?

Continue reading "A completely untapped market" »

July 9, 2005

Grand Theft Auto: Sex, lies, and modified code

It seems every week, the biggest news to come from the video game industry involves Grand Theft Auto. It's annoying for the gamer to deal with it when there are far better things to be discussing, but politicians and so-called "watchdog" groups never seem to have enough. So, here we go again, another backlash, this time about the hidden content in the latest entry in the series, San Andreas.

Continue reading "Grand Theft Auto: Sex, lies, and modified code" »

June 22, 2005

Nancy Grace on video game violence

It's amazing that some people have jobs. Not just normal jobs, high profile jobs that can impact this country in a negative manner, and they have all the power in the world to do so, regardless of whether or not they're honest about it. Nancy Grace is one of those people.

Continue reading "Nancy Grace on video game violence" »

June 16, 2005

Nintendo needs HDTV; they just don't know it

Of the few details leaked about the Nintendo Revolution, one of them seems to drawing harsh, strong, and brutal criticism: The lack of Hi-definition TV support. Some of you are thinking it doesn't matter. It does, and more so than you would think.

Continue reading "Nintendo needs HDTV; they just don't know it" »

May 28, 2005

Why do game developers let us die?

It's not just the gaming market that's changed. The games themselves have become epics, lasting days, if not months. However, one thing hasn't changed: Death. In almost game you play, you die, likely multiple times. This was relevant 10 years ago. Now, it just seems like an annoyance.

Continue reading "Why do game developers let us die?" »

May 25, 2005

Beating MAVAV at their own game

MAVAV is an organization of people, supposedly concerned mothers, who provide information to concerned parents on the subject of violent and addictive video games. Their website states "facts" on the subject. What they're doing is not a public service. They have nothing to back-up their facts, and almost everything on their site is either an outright lie or sweeping generalization.

Continue reading "Beating MAVAV at their own game" »

May 24, 2005

Gaming becomes the new crack

For every advancement video games make, they're attacked. First, it was with first person shooters. They were branded murder simulators. When the new consoles are released, the upgraded graphics aren't a technical achievement; they make kids into violent criminals. Now it's online gaming. What's the problem here?

They're digital crack.

Continue reading "Gaming becomes the new crack" »

May 20, 2005

E3 2005: Microsoft on the edge

Whereas Nintendo flat out dumfounded most of the gaming community, Microsoft is taking the biggest risk. Though financially they can afford to, trying to ignore the die-hard gamer while putting the focus on the mainstream, non-gaming consumer is gutsy. They've made an insane claim that they plan their console to reach one billion (yes, billion) people.

Continue reading "E3 2005: Microsoft on the edge" »

Uniformed Illinois politicians pass video game bill

It's funny when politicians show their true ignorance. They rant, they rave, yet when it comes to video game violence, they don't have a clue. Illinois passed a bill to restrict the sale of violent video games to minors. That, in and of itself, is nothing new. What is new is the exposure of one politician's pure stupidity and ignorance showing through with one simple quote in this Yahoo article:

Continue reading "Uniformed Illinois politicians pass video game bill" »

May 18, 2005

E3 2005: PS3 to be under $500

After the amazing technical demonstration Sony showed at their pre-show press conference, it makes people wonder just what this hardware is going to cost. Rumors floating around the net (including Gamespot) indicate a sub-$500 price point.

There's no way a game company can release a console at anything above $399 and expect it to sell well, or at least be competitive. The chances are even lower if it's released during the dry spring season. It doesn't matter how good the games look. $450-$500is simply too much. The 3DO proved it. It was the height of technology for its time and it backfired. Many retailers are only selling consoles in package deals, and that will take the price well over $500. Add in a game you want, an extra controller or two, and possibly some other must-have accessory, and you're over the price of the Neo Geo.

No amount of hype will sell a system well above the halfway mark to a four-digit figure.

E3 2005: How NOT to make a press conference, Nintendo

You only get one chance a year, and Nintendo blew it. Their pre-E3 press conference was nothing short of a debacle, as the company seems stubborn to reveal any concrete details on what exactly it is they have planned. Whereas Sony is showcasing some of the most graphically impressive demos we've ever seen, Nintendo lets us know that on their new hardware, we can play the 20-year old Super Mario Bros.

Continue reading "E3 2005: How NOT to make a press conference, Nintendo" »

May 16, 2005

E3 2005: A look at the Playstation 3

Now that everything has calmed down, it's time to look at what the industry leader plans on doing for the next generation. They're not bringing in anything completely unexpected (except the new controller), but looking at these one by one may allow this to sink in.

Continue reading "E3 2005: A look at the Playstation 3" »

May 14, 2005

Inside the Xbox 360

The Xbox 360 features 512MB GDDR3 RAM, eight times as much as its predecessor... Looking further into the guts of the box, the Xbox 360 features a 500MHz graphics chip developed by ATI, the same company that makes graphics hardware for leading PC manufacturers including Apple... Another startling similarity with Apple’s Macintosh systems: At the core of the Xbox 360 is a set of three symmetrical IBM PowerPC processor cores, each running at 3.2GHz.
Source: MacCentral

I know, why is this coming from Macworld? Why are they working with the thin string that Microsoft is using an IBM PowerPC processor?

Well, that might not be a string after all. The Xbox 360 uses three such PowerPC chips. You can't call them G5 chips because this is not an Apple computer. But what the hell, lets just call it a G5. That would be a 3.2 Ghz G5. Now Apple just released a Dual 2.7 Ghz G5.

Interesting, very interesting.

Until I see games that look good on the system (as in not Perfect Dark Zero) I am not going to get excited about this system. The specs look great. The system looks great, although a blatant rip-off of the PS2. I am just not wowed by how the games look, either in video footage or screen shots.

I also expect Sony to trump these specs with the PS3.

May 13, 2005

Xbox 360 Unveiling Disaster

It's bad enough gamers are subjected to a Spike TV video game award show every year. However, for all of the nonsense going on at those shows, they at least have a point. Microsoft's Xbox 360 unveiling did not.

Continue reading "Xbox 360 Unveiling Disaster" »

April 30, 2005

Into the Game Online Game Rentals

After a rough, harsh experience with Gamefly, it was time to switch. I stumbled upon a small outfit named "Into the Game." They seem to be quite new, but already their selection is excellent, delivery time well within expectations, and pricing superb.

Continue reading "Into the Game Online Game Rentals" »

Sony's new handheld enters games arena with much hype, mixed sales

"Cool" -- it's Sony's hottest commodity.

From its range of television sets, portable CD players and video game consoles, Sony excels at making consumers want what they sell.

Source: BG News

Dan got some good quotes for this article. The reason I am posting it is because those are my hands wrapped around that PSP (click the link, you will see a photo-ill where the beginning of the article was inside the PSP screen). So you can't say I don't have my hands in The BG News anymore :P

April 20, 2005

Everquest II becomes pointless

Sony has announced a new website which will allow players of multi-player online games to purchase in-game goods. It will start with "Everquest II," a serious moneymaker for the company. This has been a problem for online game makers who obviously now see the opportunity to cash in on this (at least Sony, but surely others will take note). In fact, they banned players for selling these non-existent items on auction sites like eBay. Now they're actually allowing it.

Continue reading "Everquest II becomes pointless" »

April 15, 2005

A Plea to the Video Game Industry: Wait!

It's a shame that this generation of consoles won't be remembered for games like "Resident Evil 4" or "Metal Gear Solid 3." Sure, they'll go down as classics. In the coming years we'll look back only to realize how wasted this gen was. On May 12th, Microsoft will unveil the next Xbox console less than four years after the current one was released. This new system will be on store shelves by Christmas.

Continue reading "A Plea to the Video Game Industry: Wait!" »

April 14, 2005

PSP movies expected to take off

Movies on the PSP are going to take off; at least that's what Home Media Retailing thinks. I think a majority of owners just doesn't see this happening. There are too many factors against this format.

Continue reading "PSP movies expected to take off" »

April 12, 2005

PSP vs. DS: Tiger Woods

Well, I had half an editorial written on the comparison, but then I seen this and it sums it up. Now, it's not that the PSP is better because the cross-platoform games (Ridge Racer included) are better, this is just a good example of how the PSP can trounce the DS in multiple areas. Everyone needs to remember that the PSP will never have something like Feel the Magic which is where the DS excels. Unfortunately, not many developers seem to be figuring that out.

March 27, 2005

The PSP does more than you would think

Reports of sales may be rough, but that hasn't stopped people from making it do more then intended. Now, would someone please get some emulators going on this thing? Please?

March 6, 2005

Developers To Be Held Accountable for Gamer's Actions?

Not content with allowing legal jackals like Jack Thompson to attempt to sue the freedom of expression out of gaming companies, lawmakers in Washington State want to hold the makers and sellers of violent video games liable for the actions of idiot teenagers.

House Bill 2178 would make game developers and publishers responsible for the actions of any one under 17 who commits a crime, due in any part to playing a game. Just how a person would go about proving that the law breaking was due to a game is beyond me.

Source: Komo News, Via: Kotaku.com

This opinion piece has a point. What if you apply this same wacked idea to music and movies. But lets not stop there, what about books?

What the hell is wrong with our society that people can no longer be held responsible for their own actions?
What the hell is wrong with our government that they can no longer hold parents responsible for their own children's actions.

February 24, 2005

Xbox 2 set to feature removable hard drive?

Microsoft's next-generation Xbox console is set to feature a removable hard drive bay, according to online reports today, which will allow users to upgrade their entry-level systems to include mass storage capabilities.

Citing a "reliable source", technology news site Engadget revealed details of the removable hard drive, claiming that the unit attaches to the top of the console "in a really slick way, almost like the hood scoop on a muscle car."

Source: gamesindustry.biz

Well if his is true, it will be easier to make the Xbox 360 into the ultimate multimedia server. Even more games, music, and movies! I am more interesting the wireless controllers. While the controller cord on the Xbox is nice and long compared with the PS2 and GC, I still love wireless. Nintendo's WaveBird is wonderful. While I am on the subject, why in the word can't someone (Sony?) make a good wireless controller for the PS2? I cannot find a good review to save my life.

Why You Shouldn't Trust All Reviews 2

(Guest column by Michael Siebenaler, who will hopefully be contributing more here in the near future.)

Game reviewing, and any type of media review, has to be fully experienced for accurate evaluation. Overall, reviewers make up bigger entities like the journalistic media which usually reflects society’s resulting reviews on media. Sales are also an obvious measurement as well, but don’t really touch the personal experience of the media. For now I’ll just stick with the personal journey of a media reviewer.

Continue reading "Why You Shouldn't Trust All Reviews 2" »

February 20, 2005

Why You Shouldn't Trust All Reviews

I will never make the claim that I'm a great movie/video game reviewer. What I do I do for fun and enjoyment, most of the time because I'm completely bored out of my mind. I'm not paid, though I certainly wouldn't argue if I were. What's baffling to me are those people out there who really get paid to do this. Reading through some so-called "professional" gaming magazines can be downright disgusting at times.

Continue reading "Why You Shouldn't Trust All Reviews" »

February 16, 2005

Violent Video Games Targeted Again

These new bills are always entertaining. California already had one violent video game bill fail to pass based on free speech. Now Leland Yee has resubmitted it with unspecified changes in an attempt to garner support. Anyway it's changed, it's hypocritical and a joke.

Continue reading "Violent Video Games Targeted Again" »

February 7, 2005

Reviewing the Reviewers: Video Game Magazines

The internet isn't the only place to get gaming info. Plenty of magazines line the racks in the grocery stores. Which ones are worthy of your cash, or better yet, a subscription? In no particular order, here you go:

Continue reading "Reviewing the Reviewers: Video Game Magazines" »

February 5, 2005

Since When is a 10-Hour Video Game "Short?"

Ask anyone back in the mid-80's about the length of their video games and you would probably get a strange look. It was never an issue, one that was hardly even thought of. Now, people complain if they don't get 10 hours of gameplay. What happened?

Continue reading "Since When is a 10-Hour Video Game "Short?"" »

Madden Really Does Have Some Competition This Year

Since Electronic Arts decided to be cowards and rob football fans of another year (five, actually) of video game football competition, gamers need to start exploring other options. Enter Tecmo Bowl. No, not just the classic version on cartridge. We're talking the hacked ones available on the internet with fully updated stats, rosters, schedules, and logos. Life is good.

Continue reading "Madden Really Does Have Some Competition This Year" »

January 8, 2005

Electronic Art's new... console?

In a matter of time, it would hardly be surprising to see Electronic Arts next move on the game industry: A fully fledged game console. The evidence is staggering. Look at this list of companies they have bought (and attempted to buy) over the past few months:

Criterion
NFL
DICE
Studio 33
Part of Ubi Soft
And then this week, an initial attempt at the NBA (and they'll likely try again)

Now, think about how scary this is. EA gets themselves some of the top developers/games. EA creates a new game console. EA keeps all of their major franchises on their own console. Instant winner in the console wars.

Don't think so? Think about a game system that plays Madden exclusively. On that title alone, the console will sell because the masses seem to have some sort of obsession with the title. Add in the fact that it's the only pro football game in town, and you have an instant success. If they can a make a competitive game console, get a profit, and have a slew of recognizable games (regardless of quality) made exclusive for it, which of the three console makers will be next to go?

On a side note, how much money can this company possibly have to throw around? The NFL deal alone would be enough to break most publishers, but now they tossed out an offer to the NBA? Never mind the Lord of the Rings and James Bond. Could this be a company soon to be bigger than Microsoft?

The ICCR: Clueless, Ignorant, and Uninformed

I'm going to do something a little bit different with this op-ed piece. Since the ICCR is a group of completely uniformed individuals who feel it is the responsibility of major corporations to do a parents work, I'm going to play a game with them. I'm going to spot them 5 "credibility" points. Then, if I find something that they say is either ridiculous or untrue, they lose a point. If they say something that has merit, they gain a point. Simple? Good.

Continue reading "The ICCR: Clueless, Ignorant, and Uninformed" »

January 7, 2005

Breaking Windows first annual best games of 2004

It's pretty much official. This has been the biggest year for video games EVER. Not surprisingly, most of the big software has hit in the past few months. Even still, we at Breaking Windows are going to make sense of the software that's hit over the entire year. No, we haven't played every console game this year (though if someone would like to send us a set, that would be nice), but out of what we've played, these are the dozen titles that stick out from the pack.

Matt and I have each come up with our top 6 titles in this, Breaking Windows first annual "Best Of" 2004.

Continue reading "Breaking Windows first annual best games of 2004" »

December 14, 2004

Nuclear Holocaust Video Game Style: EA Buys NFL

There were rumors abound earlier in the year that Electronic Arts was buying out the NFL for exclusive video game rights. In all of its absurdity, it was a very real and scary situation. Like some bad dreams, it all just came true.

Continue reading "Nuclear Holocaust Video Game Style: EA Buys NFL" »

November 21, 2004

The Internet Drops Our Society Down a Level

I'm not an advocate of hunting. We've been around long enough that we should have evolved past the point of killing defenseless animals, especially since we hardly need to anymore. However, it is legal, and you are perfectly in your right to do so if you wish. But this is something entirely different (live-shot.com), see also CNN article.

Continue reading "The Internet Drops Our Society Down a Level" »

Holiday Game Shopping and Idiots

Another year, another holiday. Another year, more stupidity. Yes, it has already begun. People have begun their insane holiday shopping on Ebay and other Internet shopping sites. What exactly is wrong with you people?

Continue reading "Holiday Game Shopping and Idiots" »

November 4, 2004

Video Games and Your Local Library: Why Not?

Your local library is a wonderful tool. If you haven't been there lately, maybe you should make the trip sometime this week. While you're there, take a copy of this editorial and ask the librarian "Why are there no video games here?" I'm not talking about just the educational software either. Sure, it sounds a little odd at first, but lets go through the reasons.

Continue reading "Video Games and Your Local Library: Why Not?" »

October 28, 2004

Why $50 Is Too Much

Video games are overpriced. $50 is a ridiculous amount of money for a form of entertainment. Back in the days of cartridges, it almost made sense, but now the standard media is so cheap, there's no reason for it. There's a simple way to fix this: advertising.

Continue reading "Why $50 Is Too Much" »

A Game Gear Obituary

Game Gear serial #S39023621 led a long and happy life. He was born on a manufacturing line sometime in 1990, or so revealed his autopsy. Discarded by his real parents, S39023621 was rescued at garage sale for $6. His new family was a kind and caring one, but not even they could fix his battle scars, which covered his screen due to a family of kids who found his torture amusing. For years he stayed in seclusion, scared to face a world that rejected him due to his lack of processing power. He would occasionally make an appearance for a quick game of "Earthworm Jim," but then it was back to his shelf underneath the large TV stand.

Continue reading "A Game Gear Obituary" »

September 14, 2004

It's not the graphics, It's all about the limitations

I consider myself a classic gamer. I wasn't really old enough when the first big boom hit back in the early 80's, but once the NES was available, it was over for me. Now, even today, I'm still playing the consoles of that era. Whenever people ask the simple question of "Why?" the answer is simple: Limitations.

Let us use the example of my all-time favorite game for this experiment, "Samurai Shodown II" on the Neo Geo. For those who don't know, this is a one-on-one fighting game much like Capcom's famous "Street Fighter" series. The difference? It's actually more limited.

Unlike the combo system of "Street Fighter," this is a game that restricts what the player can do, but it's all for the sake of a better game. Landing a hit on a skilled opponent, particularly the slower and hence more powerful ones, is a true accomplishment. You feel it. The game actually slows down for a brief second so a player knows his accomplishment. In "Street Fighter," you can land a hit and then follow it with many more in rapid fashion. "Samurai Shodown II" doesn't allow this, with each player battling for that one move that can end the bout, significantly enhancing the skill involved.

Continue reading "It's not the graphics, It's all about the limitations" »

August 30, 2004

The Moron and the Advertisement

Dear Collette Clairmont, You madam, are an idiot. Not just a normal idiot of course. No, you're a special kind of idiot: The type of idiot who shelters their children from everything in the world, causing them to have nightmares about the Pillsbury Doughboy at age 33. You're the type of idiot who seeks national exposure to get into the spotlight through absurd circumstances. Of course, you choose video games since you don't have the smarts to find another way to do it. Let's make this perfectly clear from the start. You have done the brave task of protecting your young child from a piece of plastic on the side of a bus. Real brave act. Someone, please give this women a medal! Instead of the taking the proper action a real parent would have and quickly teach your children early on about the differences between reality and fantasy, you made your ridiculous stand. You have managed to stretch the truth and indicated a form of the advertisement shows the character holding a gun (which of course he doesn't). Either you are horribly confused, or just used this to falsely enhance your claim. You have stated that this is sending the wrong message to kids; you won't allow them to have a butter knife. Good for you! It's about time you did something right. However, I highly doubt a 4-year old will get the idea to carry a machete around his neighborhood during playtime from the side of a bus. No, ideas like that come from years of bad parenting, kind of like yours actually. Let me ask you this: If your child comes to you one day and said he's scared of using the potty because "there are monsters in there," will you let him use diapers the rest of his life? No normal parent would. I'm beginning to believe you are the polar opposite. Last time I checked, kids who are treated like this end up stuffing dead people in their freezers. That's how THEY make the news....just like mommy! See, you wonder why kids end up in jail these days. It's not because of an advertisement on the side of a bus. It's because of you. They grow up watching Looney Tunes and one day decide to throw their friend Johnny over a cliff, thinking he'll spring back like that coyote they seen on TV. Hey, you failed miserably; never telling them it wasn't real. Why would he think otherwise? You madam, are the perfect example of why this society is slowly crumbling, not the ad. Thank you, Matt Paprocki

August 2, 2004

Video Games and Rapid Sequels

Any form of entertainment will have sequels. They have become a marketing tool for numerous companies. Video games are of course, no exception. Lately however, the game industry has specifically been bombarded with a ridiculous number of sequels. Could this be the end of an industry? Unless sales pick up on original titles, the days of interacting with your TV could be over. This obviously is not a new problem. Any fan of Capcom or EA can surely relate to the issue of sequels. Mega Man had 8 sequels, Street Fighter II had five follow-ups, and EA releases it's sports franchises annually. It's a lot to take in and more than any average consumer can fork out in a year. The problem with the current generation of consoles is not the number of sequels (it could be argued it's roughly the same as it has been for previous consoles), but the insane rate that these games come out. How many trilogies have we had (and soon to have) this generation? Here is my count: 1. Grand Theft Auto 2. Ratchet and Clank 3. Onimusha 4. Splinter Cell 5. Rainbow Six 6. Jak and Daxter 7. Tony Hawk 8. Metal Gear 9. Burnout 10. Medal of Honor 11. NBA Street 12. Advance Wars 13. Devil May Cry 14. Mega Man Zero/Battle Network 15. Zelda (GBA) 16. Guilty Gear 17. WWF Smackdown 18. Tekken 19. Crazy Taxi 20. Final Fantasy 21. Midnight Club 22. TimeSplitters Looking at the list, it's hard to argue about the quality of these games. Most of these franchises are simply superb, but how long before people get tired of playing the same games? The shooter died a slow death right along side the 2-D fighter. People simply stopped playing them and headed for new experiences. Now, these new experiences are not so new. Games that were so fresh in 2001 when the PS2 officially started the generation have become repetitive. Most of these sequels hit less than a year after the previous game, using the same engines that ran the first (or second, or third). Not much can be done to a game in less than a year with the work required on games today. Some companies play it smart. They take their time and make sure their sequel does justice to the original. Id has Doom 3, Sony is working on Gran Turismo 4, Bungie has Halo 2, Konami has Suikoden IV, and Valve is killing themselves trying to get Half-Life 2 out for the holiday season. The problem seems to be that everyone is working in the same genre. Three of the games I mentioned are first-person shooters. There is a simple answer to all of this: Try something new next time you head over to your local gaming store. You might be surprised at what you pick up. Give a new game a shot. Rent something different for a weekend. You might discover you fully enjoy a different genre you didn't even know existed. There are plenty of promising new titles coming this holiday and early next year. Check out the innovative Red Star, the wacky Destroy All Humans, David Jaffe's God of War, or Capcom's impossible to describe Under the Skin. Not only will it do you some good, but the industry as well.

July 12, 2004

Screw You Sony

Screw you Sony. Why you ever entered into the video game market in the first place becomes more baffling by the day. You have no idea what your audience is comprised of. According to this http://news.spong.com/detail/news.asp?prid=7095 (towards the bottom), you are preventing anything even remotely 2-D in nature from appearing on your console. Screw you Sony. Maybe you don't realize that there is a very dedicated group of gamers out there who are sick of dealing with crappy cameras, 16-buttons, and analog controls. Maybe you don't realize that there is a dedicated group of gamers out there who still yearn for games that require pure skill, 3 lives, and no save points. Screw you Sony. Look, it's common sense that these games won't sell as many copies as Madden 2000 whatever. That's fine. But, I should have the right to walk into a store and buy a 2-D fighter if I want. I should be able to buy a horizontal shooter if I want. Dammit, I should have the right to own the Metal Slug collection if a company chooses to put it out. Guess that may not happen now. Screw you Sony. It's almost comical that you'll let absolute 3-D crap like the Army Men series, Driven, and Lowrider on store shelves, yet won't let us have a few nice flashbacks to a bygone era. 90% (if not more) of the 2-D games that have hit your systems are superb games and highly sought after. Why in the hell wouldn't you a want a cult following like that? Is there any logical reasoning for all of this? You make your money off of Jak XVII and Ratchet & Clank 8. Let us have something that we want so depserately instead of letting more junk enter the market. Then again, I guess you really don't care. Screw you Sony. Of course, this isn't the first time Sony has given game companies grief. Capcom had problems getting a Mega Man game released on the PS One. MEGA MAN of all games! Would you reject a 2-D Mario Bros. game if you had the chance? You know, you probably would because your higher ups don't have a damn clue about this section of the industry. Screw you Sony. Companies like SNK Playmore and Capcom struggle to keep this niche of gaming culture alive, but you just keep shooting them right down. You can bet your ass that if you don't let King of Fighters, Capcom Fighting Jam, and Metal Slug into the market, you've lost a potential Playstation 3 owner. Screw you Sony.

July 10, 2004

Graphics Will NEVER Make the Game

I'm amazed. Well, not too amazed I guess, but probably a little bit shocked. Through a little message board searching and a comment posted to another one of my editorials, I have come to find out that a rather large portion of the gamers in todays society STILL think that graphics are the most integral portion of a video game. I'm not sure how many times it has been written, but they are not and never will be. The argument has been around for ages of course. The old "I can play this game because the graphics are dumb" quote has been uttered a few millions times and more. It is shocking to me. Are we that spoiled by flashy polygons being thrown at us from every angle that we can no longer appreciate the simplicity of Centipede? What about the nifty vector graphics of Asteroids? Will Pac-Man never be played again simply because the game doesn't look like the games of today? Simply, no. There is a reason for the countless retro-gaming societies and conventions. These games play great. Maybe a bit simple, even archaic, but the gameplay these games provide is timeless. The graphics have nothing to do with entertainment value. It's not that games don't play well these days, but we need to get over this misnomer quickly. Anyone around the age of 20 will certainly remember the era of full-motion video games. Games like Tomcat Alley, Prize Fighter, Rebel Assault, or Loadstar will certainly remember having their jaws hit the floor when they seen one. There seemed to be one problem with them: They played terrible. They were not fun at all. They all featured real video throughout the entire play time, but are hardly classics (Dragons Lair and Space Ace excused of course) even though they feature graphics unlike anything gamers had ever seen. Countless other games have tried radical approaches to grab the gamers dollar by throwing flashy graphics at them in magazine and TV ads. Rise of the Robots was a commercial success mostly due to the new rendering process it used to animate the characters, but many gamers found out $50 later that the game was practically unplayable. Jim Power in the 3rd Dimension was a fairly popular release with a gimmicky 3-D effect. Shame most gamers could not beat the second stage due the unfair difficulty levels. Lastly, who could ever forget the goofy Holloseum by Sega, a laserdisc arcade game so unplayable, most gamers gave up even though it had "revolutionary" holographic, uh, graphics. No matter how big video games become or how great they look, the gameplay will always be the key to a games success. Great graphics can certainly enhance the gaming experience, but they will never (nor have they ever been) be the key to enjoying a game. I'm not sure if this is an idea that will ever be completely eliminated from video gaming, but at least I can live myself knowing I tried.

Video Game Music Takes a Turn for the Worse

Video game music gets very little respect here in the states. In Japan, it is extremely popular and has been for some time. Game soundtracks sit right next to the hottest pop albums in music stores. Die-hard fans have been willing to import soundtracks for years, but now it is useless. The art of making a real video game soundtrack has been destroyed, making way for pop-artists to litter soundtracks. Ask anyone who has had the pleasure of listening to game music composed by Yuzo Koshiro (Streets of Rage, Actraiser), Uematsu Nobuo (Final Fantasy), or Tommy Tallarico (Earthworm Jim) about real game music. This is the type of music you just don't see anymore. It is an indescribable rush when a great track kicks in at a major point of game, keeping the player glued to the screen until they accomplish their task. Sure, some games feature superbly orchestrated tracks, but this is the type of music limited to RPG's. A recent example of a flawless game soundtrack is Rockstar's Red Dead Revolver. The cheesy spaghetti western themes were captured flawlessly, all composed by a person with experience in the genre. It not only heightened the games immersiveness, but made the game more enjoyable overall. This is not an integral part of the game of course, but just like the graphics, easily add to the overall feel of the product and make it an even more enjoyable experience all the way until the credits roll. Licensed soundtracks can work of course. A personal favorite is the classic Rock & Roll Racing for the SNES, Genesis, and recently the Game Boy Advance. Blazing around the tracks listening to "Born to be Wild" was a blast back then and it still is today. More recently, Grand Theft Auto Vice City flawlessly integrated various 1980's music into the game via radio stations and was, arguably, one of the game's highlights. But, how long is it until Mega Man starts blasting bosses to the music of Jay-Z? As games continue to grow, more and more popular music will be tossed onto the game discs, abandoning the day of real video game music artists. This is a style of music that needs to be preserved no matter how large and complicated games may get in the future. Should it not, we will always have fond memories of walking into an arcade and getting pumped up by the music in Ken's stage in Street Fighter II.

July 1, 2004

Video Game Sports and Ignorance

The topic of video game violence has been beaten to death. The public is sick of it, gamers are sick of it, and I'm sick of it. However, the accusers are not. Running out of ammo from games like Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt, parental groups have turned their eyes elsewhere: sports games. As seen here, Midway's "MLB Slugfest" and "NBA Ballers" have come under fire for not showing kids true sportsmanship and turning women into objects. This is a truly low blow. The story that ran on ABC failed to make many points, most of which is that Slugfest is not the only baseball game on the market nor is Ballers the only basketball game. The other games are not only played by millions of gamers around the world, but by the players themselves. The uncanny realism this generation of consoles has brought to the table is most likely what sent the industry spiraling upward and brought forth billions of dollars in revenue for the companies. Slugfest and Ballers are what is considered, in the industry, "fantasy sports games." These are not the only games the genre has seen and it goes all the way back to Midway's arcade game called Arch Rivals. Since then, they have released games like NHL 2-on-2 Open Ice Challenge, NBA Hangtime, NFL Blitz, NHL Hitz, and the classic NBA Jam. All of these games are completely over the top with viscous checks, no fouls, and penalties are an after-thought. Funny how no one managed to figure all of this out almost 15 years ago. The story has multiple quotes that are so off base and ridiculous, it's a wonder how anyone can keep a straight face while reading/watching it. The best quote is: "Now that I've seen what's in MLB Slugfest, I'm shocked," she says. "I haven't watched the game before and it really is a slugfest." Hmm...You couldn't figure out it was a "slugfest" from the title? Maybe if you were a decent parent and paid more attention to what your child is playing, you wouldn't have needed a nationally televised news program to tell you. Yes, the game is rated "E" for everyone, but the back of the case clearly states that the game contains violence. I'm sure your 9 year old bought the game in your presence. Maybe you should have asked questions before buying it (or even do some research), but that would mean you were you doing your job as a parent. Her next comment seals her fate: Amy Safar is "concerned that he might mimic the behavior that he sees." Maybe if you established some morals in your child and taught him the difference between right and wrong, this wouldn't be something you would NEED to worry about. Even asking your child if he knows that what is happening in the game is wrong would settle this issue. But, as I've said, that would make you a good parent. Next we have Kimberly Thompson, a Harvard graduate: "I think the message that kids take away from NBA Ballers is, it's all about money," Thompson argues. "Women are objects in this game. They are like the other things that you can acquire a house, a car, a woman." Not only is she completely misled (women, just like men, are added to your "posse," and in no way do you OWN the women nor do you do anything else with them), but what aspiring NBA star isn't thinking about the money? Why did Lebron James jump from high school to the NBA? The money. This is how sports operate now. Yes, it's a sad state of affairs, but this is the real world and it will not take long for any kid to figure this out, video games or not. Finally, we have Phil Mushnick. Though not in the story I have linked to, Mushnick appeared on the ESPN show "Behind the Lines" last night and argued this very same issue against the editor of Game Informer magazine. This is a man who has been in gamers lives since 1993 when he first blasted Sega, EA Sports, and Nintendo saying they "can go straight to hell." Don't believe me? Check out the January 13th, 1993 issue of the New York Post. He also claimed that they "peddled nothing but violence" to children in their hockey games and feature "none of the beauty and skill of hockey" even though the games were praised by every major gaming outlet as being the most realistic sports games ever created (at the time of course). The article was reprinted in the April 1993 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly as well. Most people thought it was one of the magazines infamous April Fools jokes. Now he's back, bashing video games without a clue. At one point on the show, Mushnick had to fall back on the 1991 release of Mario Lemieux Hockey since he had no other arguments. I'd hate to say this, but hockey is a brutal game. Instead of bashing the game companies who work day and night to make their games as realistic as possible, how about trying to censor the sports themselves? Maybe having the NHL replace sticks with pillows or something would make you happy? If there is anything left to say, it's this: I've grown up with games like Arch Rivals, NBA Jam, and will certainly indulge in games of Slugfest when I have the chance. I played basketball for years and I can say that never once did I ever step over the line and toss a player to the ground like I saw in the game. Why? Because I had parents. Parents who had the common sense to teach their child the difference between reality and fantasy, not to mention right from wrong. We've been looking in the wrong place for far too long. The parents of America have become stupid, lazy, ignorant, and unwilling to take a minute out of their day to read the back of a video game box (or even watch their children play). The average age of the gamer today is somewhere around 18-20 years old. If your going to let your younger child play video games in today's society, learn to get off the couch and ask questions before ABC Nightly News knocks on your door. The again, maybe that is too much to ask. You are ONLY a parent after all.

June 27, 2004

The Playstation 3 and Junk

The next generation of consoles will soon be upon gamers across the country. The Playstation 3, X-Box Next, and the obvious Nintendo console will soon be playing all the latest games to happy children everywhere. This new set of systems also brings with it something new: Junk. As seen here, there are rumors floating that the PS3 will cost $500, if not more, at launch. Why? Junk. Now, gaming systems have always had extra accessories. In fact, consoles have tried to be computers and computers have tried to be consoles (did anyone actually use their Commodore 64 for anything except games?). Most of the early consoles either announced accessories like keyboards or released them to the market. Even the NES had a rumored keyboard attachment in the works. I'm not sure about everyone else, but when I buy a game system, I want it to play (gasp!) games. Yes, video games. I know, it's an absurd assumption, but I feel it had to made. *end sarcasm* If I want a Tivo system, I'll buy one. It is an absurd notion that gamers have no choice but to plunk down an insane amount of money simply because Sony thinks it's what gamers want. I have no problem if they choose to make the attachment a $200 extra, but I have no use for this item right out of the box. It's even begun invading the portable market. The PSP will have (although optional) a GPS attachment. Yeah, GPS on a glorified Game Boy. I just figured out what GPS was about 3 weeks ago. Granted, it is optional, but I'd be willing to bet that there is something extra inside the console that is costing me money to make that attachment work. Now consoles are moving into a new generation. These accessories will not be an optional attachment, but forced onto the consumer. Some of these ideas will be good (the hard drive on the X-Box is a godsend) but unless they have some purpose to enhance the gaming experience, there is no use for them. Now, where is my PS2 horizontal stand?

June 13, 2004

Ode to the Cartridge

The end of an era is upon us. Within the next few months, the final cartridge based home video game will find its way into dedicated gamers homes. Samurai Shodown V Special will be released on the Neo Geo home console to the most die-hard group of gamers left. The cart's cost is astronomical, but considering its place in history, it all seems worthwhile. It all started with the Fairchild Channel F, the first ever cartridge-based console to hit the market (The Odyssey had carts a few years prior, but each one was, technically, its own hardware). It was revolutionary for the time but failed miserably when the Atari 2600 began one of the most dominant reigns in the history of the industry. Well, that and the fact that the games were just plain awful. All of us who grew up fighting with are large toaster NES consoles (as they are called amongst the classic gaming community) will surely have "fond" memories of blowing into the carts, slamming them, inserting them ever so carefully, or cleaning them constantly just to get a chance to play the latest Mario Bros. game. It was an unforgettable part of video game life back then. Kids today have no idea what they missed out on. Carts had no load times. The game was instantaneous as soon as the start button was pressed. They have withstood years of punishment and you'll find very few that are completely dead. Their battery back-up and flash memory eliminated the need for memory cards. They were completely different from everything on the market. Now, CD's and DVD's are indistinguishable from any video game. Every system had a different style of cart, each of them equally as recognizable as the systems own. We had some classic designs and gimmicks, whether it is the well known gold Zelda cart or the various colored carts of the 16-bit era (also continuing onto the N64 with games like Doom). Scanning a shelf of cart just screams "video game collector." A stack of CD's just doesn't seem like a true video game collection. Die-hard collectors spend hours organizing their carts to maximize shelf space. Now all gamers have to do is head over to an electronic store and buy a rack specially made for whatever may be thrown at it. What's the fun in that? In ten years, where will all of the current generation games be? Most likely in a dumpster, but not because of quality. After working at a video store for four years, trust me when I say it only takes a matter of time before that game comes back defective due to scratches. Sometimes it can only take one rental period before the disc is useless. Carts are special. Even if you little brother Huey drooled on it, rest assured it would work the next day. This is really the end for most collectors. Many have vowed never to collect for CD based systems. Though I'm not one of them, their point is well made. CD's/DVD's just don't seem like a real video game. Many more believe that the CD-ROM format marked the turning point in the industry towards the mainstream. Sure we have the Game Boy Advance, but the days of plugging a cart into that console connected to the TV are all over after this. Let us all bow our heads in respect for this classic format.

May 20, 2004

EA Sports Almost gets Bigger

Electronic Arts recently stirred up the game industry with an attempt to buy out the NFL Players Association. The rumored deal had EA putting up $1 billion (yes, one BILLION dollars) to have exclusive rights to the the NFLPA in all of their video games for 4 years. I honestly don't think gamers realize how close we came to the end of football video games as we know them today. Every year we are bombarded with football games. EA Sports has always some competition, though this era has proved EA is really the dominant force. None of the other franchises has come close to matching the Madden NFL series, not even Sega who's radically improved ESPN series has been beaten solidly on every console. EA obviously didn't think this was enough and tried for the monopoly. What does the NFLPA liscense mean? Well, play a college football video game and you'll quickly get the idea. No player names, likenesses, or pictures. The NFL logos and team names would not have been included in the deal, but you'd be stuck with a field of players with only numbers on their back. "QB #7" would lead the league. Does EA think that their not big enough? They finally came to a mega-deal with Microsoft to put their games on the X-Box Live service, though many believe this is only because MS decided to scrap their sports lineup for the year. They have destroyed Sega's excellent sports franchise, arguably more innovative than any of EA's recent products. They threw Sega from the Gamecube due to the abysmal sales, Nintendo won't even try to counter, and Sony has canned their franchises as well (though this was admittedly a quality issue). What more could they possibly need? Beyond the fact that it's scary to think a game company actually can afford ONE BILLION DOLLARS, they still want more. They want every single gamer to have a copy of Madden in their house. Good buisness? In theory, sure. Good for the industry? Hell no. I don't like Madden. EA has hardly evolved their franchise this entire generation while Sega is fighting tooth and nail yet no one cares. EA's grip is just that big. Had this deal had gone through, what choice would gamers have had? Like playing games like NFL Blitz, ESPN Football, NFL Fever, or NFL Gameday with the real NFL players? EA didn't care. At this point, two of those fanchises won't even exist this year, mostly due to EA Sports. Don't think it would make a difference to the majority? Think again. EA actually felt the brunt of their own tactics a few years back with the first N64 release of Madden. They failed to secure the NFL liscense (not the NFLPA, but the NFL itself: again, no logos, team names, etc.) while Acclaim and their lackluster Quarterback Club franchise did. Sales were nearly 2 to 1 in favor of Acclaim. Let us all be thankful the NFL was smart enough to see it in the proper light. The monopoly attempt has been crushed and gamers WILL have a choice this year. The choices are few since 2 of the first party titles will not be produced, but the battle lines will be drawn while EA and Sega battle it out practically one-on-one. This will be a superb sales battle, though the pressure is still obviously in Segas court.

Grand Theft Auto San Andreas: How does it play?

Good ol' Grand Theft Auto. If there's one thing you do right, it's tick people off. Whether it be ignorant government types or Haitians, rest assured you'll manage to set somebody off. Well glorious video game, soon you will grace us with yet another sequel, the 5th in the series. E3 brought us a swirling array of stories on this latest sequel, each one making me feel even worse for humanity and the gaming industry in general. The big part of this sequel was where it took place. For the record, it's San Andreas California. Is this really such a big deal? Does it really matter WHERE you kill people? My question is, how does it play? New "innovations" let you join gangs for some team based play (real innovative unless you haven't played one of the 50 other squad based games on the market), rob houses (different from robbing the gun store in the third iteration how?), and the new AI gives all the people in the game's world a supposed "brain." This is what EA Sports shoved down our throats in the 16-bit era with all their sports games and I never noticed a difference. My question is, how does it play? The new graphics engine has new lighting effects, new character models, and cars taken from the early 90's, the era the game is set in. Looking at screen shots (granted their early), I see no difference. The same blocky polygonal models that filled the first two 3-D entries are back. They are simply are wearing different clothes. My question is, how does it play? See, no one seems to care how it plays. Why? Because most people who play video games today are stupid. Yeah, I said stupid. Read the line again if you want. They walk into a video/gaming store, scan the shelves, look for a "M" rating, and walk out satisfied. $50 later, their having a blast blowing peoples heads off, capping grandma with a sniper rifle, and beating down a hooker for cash. Millions of people will pre-order for no apparent reason. What, do you think their will be a shortage or something? No, Rockstar knows the title alone will make you plunk down the cash the same way you bought an X-Box to the play the same exact games you already have on your PS2. Does the violence bother me? No, not at all. I love blood in my games, but only when they play decently. Does GTA have some decent gameplay? Sure. Does it get old and infuriating thanks to a horrific targeting system? Definitely. Does anyone seem to care if the targeting system has been worked on? Guess not. Does anyone care to know if the controls for the vehicles have been improved? Guess not. Does it need to be? Definitely. See, the art of making a video game play well has been completely lost. Ok, actually, it's still alive and well, but no one buys these types of games. Did you buy Beyond Good and Evil last year? Will you give a second look to Metal Slug 3 when it hits the X-Box in a month or so? Of course not. Why? Probably either: A: You've never heard of it or.... B: You've seen the graphics and "they'z l00kz l1k3 At@R1...WTF?" Why is it? Metal Slug is the epitome of great gameplay. Developed over the course of many years, Metal Slug 3 is arguably the best of the long running series. It has killing, blood, and non-stop action. Do you care? Yeah? Really? Oh, by the way, it's 2-D which means no polygons. What? Now you don't care? These games are only for the hardcore gamers now. The group who knows exactly what it takes to make a game enjoyable and fun. The rest of you are idiots, plunking down cash for various games with the names Madden and Grand Theft Auto. Am I telling you what you should like? No, oh god no. Everyone has their tastes and that's completely understandable. My argument is that you no longer look past the big budget ads, hype, and graphics. Maybe, just maybe, if someone sat your mainstream butt down for 5 minutes with a multi-player game of Metal Slug, you'd change your mind. Of course, your too busy cappin' yo' hoes to be bothered with things like this.

January 23, 2004

OOOH! The Nintendo DS

It's the same ol' Nintendo. Recently, Nintendo stated they would be bringing out a "revolutionary product" that would be "unlike anything else on the market." They also claimed it would not be a "game system." Liars. Now, within a day of the announcement, thousands of people screamed "Virtual Boy." Now, regardless of your thoughts on Nintendo's one major gaming console flub (one which I personally still find enjoyable), at least the VB had some positive press before it was unveiled. This "DS" thingy has had none. In an interview exclusive to IGN (which I can't find now), one of Nintendo's higher up's said the screens will be vertical in alignment. Huh? If the screens were side-by-side, I can almost see them being used for more than just gimmick games. Anyone who's gotten their hands on an N-Gage will tell you that while the screen pumps out a gorgeous picture, it's vertical alignment is a mess. Think about classic arcade games like X-Men or Ninja Warriors that used multiple screens, all together horizontally. They could even be used for a "widescreen" style effect. Think about a football game where you could actually see your wide receievers before the play starts! Nope, instead we'll be able to "zoom in on a specific player." Wow. Of course, with 2 processors (one for each screen!) and 2 large screens, how portable can this thing possibly be? Even with a rechargeable battery like the current GBA, I can't imagine something like this lasting more than a hour or two. In an even dumber move, the console won't be backwards compatible with any of Nintendo's other software. It will be completely on it's own. Almost everyone knows the Game Boy has been continually succesful mostly because of it's compatibility with previous editions. Note that this is NOT a replacement for the current Game Boy or the Gamecube, but a 3rd system tossed into the mix when we don't need one. Yes, I will most likely buy one when it's finally released at the end of the year (and that's if they stick to their release date which is a rare occurence). I'm a gamer, it's what I do. Does that mean that I have to be estatic about it? Not at all. I'm really not even that eager to see this thing when it's announced at E3. This one has gimmick written all over it.

January 14, 2004

Gaming crash 2005

The end is near people. The end of it all. Well, at least for mainstream America. Apex, makers of those super-cheap DVD players is officially entering themselves into the realm of videgames with their very own console. Now, beyond the horrific name (reads like Ape-extreme to me), it's quite obvious that this is a direct replay of the first major gaming crash back in 1983. Companie have all seen how much money can be made and everyone wants a piece of it. Look at the current market: PS2, X-Box, Gamecube, Game Boy Advance (2 versions!), N-Gage, Tapwave, and the PS One (yes, it's still going). No, not all of these are major contenders, but when the next generatin of consoles comes around things are going to get real ugly. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are certainly going to be back. Apex is there, and the Phantom is good to go as it was shown at the recent CES. Don't forget the GBA which will likely get the usual upgrade withing a year or two. The only question that remains is how many of these the market can support at once. If history tells us anything.....not many. Starting with the 8-bit era, Nintendo and Sega battled for a while until Nintendo's marketing won people over. Sega, NEC, and Nintendo fought it out in the 16-bit era with NEC's Turbografx fading into obscurity, even though they were first with some new technology (CD-ROM adapter). The 32-bit era dawned with 4 competitors: The Jaguar, 3DO, Saturn, and Playstation. Guess what system dominated? Whats even worse is that mainstream America completely ignored the Saturn, arguably the console with the bext games of the era. The hardcore crowd was left in the dark and the majority of the outstanding games for Sega's short lived console stayed in Japan due to lagging sales of the console. Same thing happened to Sega again a few years later with the hardcore gamers preffered "Next-gen" console, the Dreamcast. Everyone waited for the PS2. No one seemed to care that the Dreamcast had some of the most outstanding games of this generation. Now mainstream America has another chance, possibly within the next year. There will be a ton of systems, countless games, and alot of money that will be waiting to be spent. It won't happen. Whenever something becomes too mainstream in this country, people seem to quickly tire of it. Case in point: The release of the outstanding "Beyond Good and Evil." Easily a candidate for the game of the year, it's price was recently slashed by Circuit City to $9.99, other storesaround $19.99. During the same time period, the GTA Double Pack sold (at minimum) a million copies on the X-Box. Yes, a shoddily coded port with minor upgrades and the same pathetic targeting system outsold BGE 10 to 1 (at least). How long will it take people to simply become bored? No one buys anything original anymore (I can also refrence Viewtiful Joe and Eternal Darkness) and rehashes and tired sequels can't cut it forever. The time is slowly approaching when the true fans of video games will be able to have their hobby back without interference from the outside. Simply put, I can't wait. I don't think any crash will be able to completely descimate this section of our culture, but a nice hard blow to everyone out there who decided to buy GTA III, Madden, and GTA again leaving outstanding titles on the shelves would be a welcome sight.

December 5, 2003

Spike TV Video Game Awards

There are times in my life when I really begin to question the minds of some people. One of those times is right now. The first annual Spike TV Video Game Awards (from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas) is currently premiering while I'm writing this. An hour in, I'm beginning to question my sanity. I cannot fathom what the network execs over at Spike think video game players are like, but I'm quite sure at this point that their market research team should be fired, burned at the stake and then be shot simply because. What type of awards show opens with the biggest award being given away in the first 2 minutes? Yes, Madden 2004 walked away with the award for "Game of the Year," as highly undeserving as it was (Note: it wins Game of the Year, yet not Sports Game of the Year). Granted, it plays a great game of football, but I can think of at least 15 other games more worthy. There are no nominees you see, they simply toss out an award with no apparent buildup (even though they just went through the nominees for "Most Anticipated Game"). The awards are announced by host David Spade and then shown on a massive circular screen surrounded by the LA Raiders cheerleaders. The crowd must be filled with thousands of pre-pubescent teens screaming at the top of their lungs whenever Grand Theft Auto is mentioned. You can't hear anything. The designers get 3 seconds of screen time (with no names mentioned) and can be seen shaking their heads, obviously embarrassed to be part of the proceedings. God forbid the guys who created these games should get any type of credit. It gets worse. The voting was done online by the public (for those not aware). The general public is the last group of people who should be allowed to vote for video games. Musical performances are constant, annoying, and have absolutely nothing to do with video games. Advertisements claim that this isn't an ordinary awards show, but that's hardly the case. It's a really bad one filled with the cheapest stars they could find, one terribly unfunny host, and bands who can't be heard over the crowd. David Spade opened the show with the same joke that had been part of the advertising campaign for the past 3 weeks. Think it gets worse? Commercial breaks are brought about with segments entitled "The secret life of video games." The jokes/dubbing are lude, crude, and downright offensive. The humor level of this show is obviously set for the 5-year old crowd since they are the only ones who will find any of this amusing. Video game footage hardly ever features anything less than a player trying to find the most sexually explicit position to put the polygonal characters in. The Tomb Raider "strategy guide" was enough to change the station. But yet, it gets worse. The categories are senseless. How about a "best gameplay" category? Nope. The horror if we honor someone because their game actually plays well. Maybe a nice "best control" award? Nope. Instead, we get a "most anticipated game" category. How can anyone give a game an award before it's even out, let alone even played it? Most of the games nominated (and winning) have hardly been out for a month, barely enough time for any gamer to really delve deep into it. Yes, yes, it does get worse. Funkmaster Flex is the DJ for this glorious excuse for an awards show. He honestly gets more screen time than Spade. His microphone is seemingly inside his mouth as he spouts off unintelligible words, announcing various bands and stars. Even the theme music for this show is grating, not even fitting into a single music category. Also, may I ask: What is the Tony Hawk Boom Bam Chuck Huck Jam thing and what the hell does it have to do with video games? There really are no kind words for this sad attempt at an awards show. It was hardly even about video games. It was a horrific attempt to get a few bands onto a stage, help David Spade make some money post-Chris Farley, and take advantage of a peak market. No, I'm not one to sit and watch the Grammy's, Oscar's, or Acadamey Awards. They bore me to tears. However, at least they have some class and decency. This was disgusting, sickening, and downright disturbing at times. If this is going to be an annual thing, then Spike TV can't become bankrupt soon enough.

November 20, 2003

The Farce That is the Global Gaming League

There's a new up-and-coming sports league soon to be making it's mark on the world. It's not the XFL, but it's video game equivalent. This is single handedly one of the most poorly executed ideas in the history of the industry. In it's simplest form, the "Global Gaming League" is a great idea. Gamers of all ages (well, those over 13 at least) compete in online games for prizes ranging from cash to brand new PC's. This brings us to the first major issue with this "league." Their website contains numerous references to "fame and fortune" and sponsors. Not only is the entire idea of becoming famous by playing Unreal Tournament a ludicrous assumption, but just imagine Nike deciding to sponsor someone and paying them to wear a pair of shoes. Then again, maybe they'll make an entire line of gaming accessories and competitors will be right up there with Allen Iverson on the next Super Bowl spot.....or not. Their dedication to their athletes (as they call them, more on that later) really goes far too. You not only have to supply your own copy of the game, but servers as well. Does the NBA require players to purchase basketballs and jersey's on their own? Now, I'm well aware this is an open upstart league and just about anyone may join, but not even the top players receive benefits. How can you not provide servers to monitor in-game action? This leaves the entire league wide open to rampant cheating. If you feel that you have been cheated upon, you can submit proof within 48 hours of the incident. Yeah, it will be really easy to prove that invincibility code was in effect. Anyone who's been online will tell you cheating is a problem becoming more rampant so I'm not sure what makes these guys think they can defeat it with an honor system. Screenshots or shots taken with a camera are recommended for record keeping which means that this league doesn't even have a pictorial record of their games. Can you imagine the watching Monday Night Football without reference footage of games long past? More issues involve game selection. As for right now, this entire league is for PC gamers only, easily the most expensive way to game right now. Unless I win one of those Alienware's their planning on giving away, I'm out. The majority of the games are first-person shooter or team based games. Sports games are slowly being leaked, but no information on them was available. It would be great to see some classic games added to the roster. True skill comes from taking on thousands of aliens in Space Invaders, not just knowing the maps in Quake. The most abominable thing this league is doing is calling it's participants "athletes." Look, if sitting in my basement playing a game of Halo is athletic, I wouldn't weigh 230 pounds. Yeah, I'm sure lugging a PC around isn't easy, but it's sure as hell not athletic competition. Pro wrestlers have fought for years to gain the status of athlete (and ask anyone who's ever done it..it's NOT easy) and now a kid who sits in a chair flicking a mouse button is considered an athlete? Something is seriously wrong with this world. In all honesty, there are SOME things these guys have gotten right. The initial idea was in the right place and having the younger gamers have their parents sign a waiver stating they'll let them play ESRB "M" rated games is a nice touch. Yeah, it's probably there simply to protect them from any responsibility, but you have to give them credit for doing something to make parents take responsibility. These guys have their heart in the right place, but their execution is seriously lacking. NBC has decided to carry these guys briefly during the Gravity Games in small segments, but this is probably as far as they'll ever get. I really hope no one signs on to participate and actually expect to become some huge superstar. Their dreams would be shattered pretty quickly. Unless they get some more money involved, there's no chance for this to succeed and it all starts with dedicated servers. Once this happens (if it ever does of course) I'll take another look. Until then, good luck.

November 13, 2003

Online Console Games

Online gaming is slowly creeping it's way into the mainstream console gaming arena. Services such as Microsoft's X-Box Live service offers up a ton of nifty features to keep games occupied and connect with freinds. The question that immediately arises from the hardcore gamers is whether or not this is the future of video games. Simply put, this NOT the future, and it could very well destroy game design as we know it. Aimed squarely at the video games target audience, the 18-24 demographic, the online console game experience is certainly garnering a following. This is the group of people who grew up playing games on the NES, Genesis, SNES, and more. Games such as Bomberman with it's 4-player support were quite unique and encouraged socilization between gamers. Gathering 4 freinds over for a marathon session was undeniably a blast, but online gaming completely misses the point. Oh sure, your chatting along with other people looking to complete a common goal, but the interaction simply isn't the same. You'll most likely never see the person your playing with/against neither will even know their name (in most cases). Worse yet, what will happen to the captivating one-player experiences that this entire medium was practically founded upon? Final Fantasy will be going online soon (included with the PS2's hard drive when it finall arrives), but I simply can't understand the appeal here. The series is soon to be on it's 11th entry and it's been fine for the entire time, why take away the experience from those gamers who enjoy playing the game for it's captivating story? While I have no doubt that the storyline will be just as good, but you'll have thousands (millions?) of gamers out there and it only takes one to ruin the entire game. Want another reason? What happens in 10 years when I want to relive the experience of Final Fantasy 12? Oh wait, I won't be able to. By then, the servers will be offline and that game disc will be entirely worthless. This has already happened to those Dreamcast fans who enjoyed playing Phantasy Star Online, Speed Devils Online, Ooga Booga, and Sega's entire line of outstanding sports titles. Yes, these people could've upgraded to a newer console and enjoy the newest sports games, but this brings us to cost. Taking X-Box Live for the example, it costs $50+ a year to subscribe, $50 for a new game, $40 for a cable/DSL connection, and possibly more depending on your service (routers, cables, etc.). That's not even including the $179 for the console itself! The PS2 service requires the adapter ($40) and games such as Everquest charge per month. Costs like this alienate the younger set (the second largest group of gamers) and is even prohibitive to the 18-24 group. I have no problem adding in an extra online multi-player mode to some games , but games that are based entriely online and ignore the single player experience all together are seriously irratating. Growing up on games like Contra and blasting away alien beings with a freind next to me is an experience that simply can't be duplicated with an online game. Developers need to take a step back and realize what it was that brought us to this point. It sure as hell wasn't playing a game with someone I can't see 5,000 miles away.

May 26, 2003

Is Nintendo becoming the next SEGA?

We all know that the Game Boy Advance is the market leader in handheld gaming. The Game Boy has always been that. But the Game Cube is starting to look a little long in the tooth and software developers are starting to think twice about publishing for the Cube. Even SEGA has decided not to put out the SEGA Sports line for the Cube anymore, and SEGA is finally seeing black ink as a software developer. The Game Cube has always been 3rd man out in the NIntendo, Sony, M$ battle for console top dog. Sales of the Cube are down. Is this because in recent years the gaming demographic has grown up? There are less young kids playing games and more adults? This is my opinion on the matter. I have always thought that the Cube needed more adult games. The last game I bought for the Cube was Resident Evil Zero. Eternal Darkness was pretty good too. But that's all folks. Other notable non kiddie games do not come to mind right now for the Cube. Nintendo used to be the market leader but Sony is the M$ of the console game world, even with M$ in the mix.

May 5, 2003

MMO Video Games

For those not initiated yet MMORPG stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. Their are other MMO games, some with and some without a persistent world. People who know me would think I would be jumping on this band wagon and getting an EverQuest or Ultima account. There is one thing I do not agree with though. The pricing model of these MMO games is insane! The other reason I have not gotten EverQuest is I am afraid i will just be sucked into playing it all the time, and I do not want that to happen. For many reasons. it costs the same to buy EverQuest as it does to buy non online game. Then you need to pay $10-$15 a month. Why not sell the game for say $25? I don't know the stats on how many months an average user stays with a MMO game. But I am guessing that is it is more then enough to recoup the cost of producing and packaging the game to put in on store shelves. But we have come to expect the next big PC game to cost $50, no matter what features it boasts. I would also be more inclined to spend somewhere between $5-$8 a month on a MMO game. For one I would be able to afford more than one of those games a month. Also If I am going to spend the $10-$15 a month on a game I sure am going to want to put my time into it or it would just be a waste of my money. I don't have time to spend hours and hours a day to play a game online (or off line for that matter). So there is no way I am going to invest $10-$15 a month for a MMO game. Not even FFXI - about the only MMORPG I think I would really enjoy. If Marrowind was online I might think twice about paying a monthly fee for it. But those are the only 2 games I think I would enjoy online. Marrowind because I have played it to death on my XBOX and PC and just love the game play, and FFXI because, well because it is Final Fantasy (even though it really isnt, it is just a nice looking MMORPG put together by square with the FF name and some FF like story/charector elements). I understand there are costs to keep the infrastructure and server farms running to allow people to play MMO games but do the costs need to be so high? The customer is always going to want lower prices but at what point is the video game industry gouging customers?



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