Monday, December 18, 2006

A Wii Pre-Xmas Fable

With one of the NWK's in England for the next 2 weeks, gaming is taking a different turn. Mews and Morbo still have some things to do (like catch up with Rath), but I've also gotten a chance to work on some console gaming.

One big rift though is weither or not to open the copy of GC Zelda I got. I've been sorely tempted by the wily Wii. A few of my friends have gotten it and it's all over the net. I even considered an early Sunday run to get one, but was detered by a new Amazon play-and-pray scheme. I'll be up til midnight tonight to see if I'll be waving a wiimote around this holiday season (odds are 28 to 1 against).

As a diversion, I've started to play Fable:TLC. I didn't realize how tough it would be to get into this game again - not because of the game itself, but because I already know the story. And a damn good one it was too! I know other people were dissapointed by it but I never knew about the hype around it (I didn't pay much attention to gaming mags and websites back then). Even so, trying to ignore some of the upcoming battles and plot twists is an uphill struggle at this point. It might get better after I get out of the training area and start hitting some of the new content.

A quick note about my fighting game loving daughter - she is truly a blood thirstly little gal! I was watching her play Bloody Roar 4 on the PS2 the other day. She was playing this one character and having her do these gory (and I mean blood splatters everywhere!) moves over and over again. She can really kick ass on these games. Something her "old man" never got the hang of since MK on SNES. So, Rain Man was good at math, Rain Girl is l33t at fighting games. ;)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Still-ed Life and other ramblings

This weekend I got back to a game I've played a little bit before, Xbox's Still Life. While I applaud the developers of this game with making a truly adult adventure game (it plays like an R rated movie), the second chapter is proving to be annoying. Why, for example, do I have to talk to my dim witted partner before I can put my camera in the evidence chute? And, why do I have to not only deduce what my access code is but also need to input it into a card reader within a limited amount of time? While the access code was fairly easy to figure out, nowhere was I told about the time limit. I just thought I needed a shorter number! I haven't given up entirely on this one, but it didn't do itself any favors.

My game collection size has hit the demonic level (666) with the inclusion of GBA games and the weekend purchase of used (but excellent condition) copies of Okami and Call of Cthulhu. I have to think that developers and publishers hate Game-World. Not only do they get nothing from the sale of a used game, but they lose a sale to boot. I do feel a little guilty not buying Okami from a place like Fry's since my purchase won't count toward how many they sold. From what I've heard, Okami isn't doing too well in the "units sold" department. Maybe they should have put it out at a lower price?

As this year draws to a close, the one thing gaming related I'll remember from 2006 is the loss of OPM. Of all the gaming mags it was the one I thought had no chance of being shutdown. Why stop a mag that covers a line of consoles that dominates the landscape of video gaming already and is just bringing a new powerhouse to the market? I'll admit that the demo disc was probably obsolete by now with the lack of new PS2 games to showcase and PS3 demos to be available ala Xbox Live. But they could have at least kept the magazine! R.I.P. OPM.

What do I think I'll do gaming wise next year? Well, I'm still planning some sort of play schedule for myself although it keeps going back and forth between a select group of top titles or a random pick of a larger amount. Quality to savor the best or quantity to cover more ground? Still working on that one.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sifting through the ashes of Black Friday

So another Turkey day has come and gone, and with it, Black Friday. Like every other one, I mangaged to score a stack of games to add to my horde. I say "horde" as my wife has likened my game collection to that of a pile of treasure protected by a dragon. Ok, sounds good to me.

Adding to my nearly 600 "treasures" (counting PS2, Xbox, Gamecube, PS1, SNES, N64, and DS) were such titles as Halo 2, NARC, Sudeki, Tekken 5, SOCOM 3, and Super Mario Strikers. Some were new, but most came from a B2G1F sale at Game-World (ie, Gamestop/EB World). Those always suck me in. Oddly enough, none came from Fry's this time. I think they (and other retailers) are dealing with how to manage game sales this year. They don't want to discount all the new titles for the Wii and PS3, but putting games on sale for consoles that are on their last marketable legs is a dubious proposition. There were some pretty good 360 game sales, but I didn't get lucky with Amazon. Oh well.

As the new year approaches and my collection reaches critical mass (can too many PS2 games really cause a black hole to form?) I'm thinking about a resolution to get some of these games played. I first thought about doing a "Classic Games" year where I play a new (to me) Triple A title every month. So like I'd do FFVII in January, RE4 in October, that sort of thing. However, that only gets me going on 12 titles, albeit they are the cream of the crop. Now I'm thinking about a game a week. Mind you, I'm not talking about completing it in a week, just getting it to the point of being able to white dot it. If I have a plan (ie, a list of games to work on ahead of time), it might help. I'd start on Monday and finish by Sunday, with a blog post wrap up that next Monday of what I thought of the game. This would take me through at least 52 games. Not a bad start on doing something with all those little boxes of alternate worlds.

Oh, quick FFXI update. We are at 62, have done our 65 level cap quest and are having a ton of fun doing Besieged. Also, on games, I've been playing a bit of RLH over the weekend. Sticky controls but the game is not bad. Great cast of actors that got to do voices. Classic Xbox still rocks! Stamp mania continues on the DS!

Monday, October 16, 2006

"Whatcha been playin?"

I've actually gotten some new game play in this week. What a shocker!

In my previous post, I talked about the new Star Trek Encounters game I was going to try. At $14.99 I can't say I was too optimistic but the screenshots made it look really good. Plus who wouldn't want to pilot around a Star Trek spaceship blasting at Borg, Klingons, etc. I wrote up a quicky review on Gamespot (which I will add to this blog at some point) and I'll summarize the experience here. Basically I was impressed with this little title. It had the feel of a budget game but unlike many budget games it didn't suck. It was ambitious of them to configure a 3D space combat game on the PS2 controller and they used every button available. You "fly" with the left stick, aim your weapons with the right, balance your power reserves with the D pad, switch weapons with the symbol buttons, fire with the right shoulder buttons, and move up and down in space with the left shoulder buttons. The result is awkward at first, but I got used to it (slowly). Graphics look very cool and the ships are right out of the TV series (including one called Star Trek: Sentinel?). Audio is nice - good effects sounds and even some narration by William Shatner (odd they didn't hype him on the cover art). On the downside, the game forces you to play through each episode sequentially, unlocking the next only if you succeed. And you can't save part way through a mission. The missions are broken down into short objectives, but with 7 or so per mission (felt like more) it would be nice to be able to save without getting to the end. At least if you die you only have to restart from the objective. I have a feeling that I'll have some problems getting very far in this one, but I'll try.

One game I'm quickly feeling will be a major time-sink is Club House Games for the DS. Just your basic card/board/pub games but you can play wireless with other players. Being a very old PC internet gamer, this shouldn't be any great shakes to me, but the fact of having a system in the palm of my hand that is playing backgammon with someone in Germany still amazes me. And the games themselves are really good. I've played bowling (yes, bowling) on it as well as mahjong and I think I would have been happy with this collection even without the WiFi.

I've just started playing a little bit of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team (whew!). From the reviews I've seen, this is a fairly old game model that was used and then the Pokemon franchise was dropped on top of it. The good news is it is new to me. :) Cute so far, but haven't done much more than the introduction. (My DS is getting alot of use these days.)

Also been keeping up the FFXI-ing. Our merry band of misfits has gotten up to level 59 in our main jobs thanks to some VT bats in King R's Tomb. We also scored 2 more Astral rings (yes!) in some very close BCNM 20 battles. One is getting sold and the other is Morbo's. He's so happy he'd cry if he wasn't such a tough Galka-boy.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Unbiased review coming and pre-order goodies

In a sure to be interesting experiment, I'm going to try a game tonight that I haven't read a review for - and it could be a real turkey (oh well, so much for unbiased lol).

The game in question is "Star Trek Encounters". All I've seen so far (and from what I can tell pretty much all of what everyone else has seen) is some rather good looking (dare I say stunning) screenshots of various Star Trek ships in (gorgeous) space. This is billed as a ship to ship shooter using vessels from the whole lineage of Trek. Not something that's really been tried before, but something that all of us who grew up with models of the ships have dreamed about. (I actually had a paper minatures game calle Starfleet Battles that this reminds me of.) Most of the other ST games have been adventure or academy/ship sims that seemed to put more emphasis on getting series stars than having good gameplay. The only shooter aspect of a Star Trek game I can remember was the ridiculous dogfight type portion of the very early 25th anniversary game. I'm hoping it won't be like that.

Now, I haven't seen any reviews for STE and I bought it today at Best Buy for the low (low, low) price of $14.99. And that's only $5 off it's MSRP. So, how can a game that has such wonderful visuals be so cheap? Most cheap games tend to be really crap. But, as I haven't been tainted by any of the game site reviews out there, I can approach my experience without any preconceptions...except that cheap games are usually crappy lol. Seriously, I'm all for this game being a winner and a bargain.

While at BB, I also did my second pre-order in as many days. Why, you ask? Have I lost my budget conscious mind? No, I just want the extras. For Destroy All Humans 2, I got the demo disk, and today I got the Gutair Hero II t-shirt for $5.00. No big deal if I don't get the game - I'll take a game shirt for 5 bucks. As for DAH2, I'll just get my deposit back after the game comes out.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Guitar Hero

I own Guitar Hero, but admit I haven't really gotten into it yet (well, it's still in the original box, for almost a year old now). But I do need to get something off my chest.

I've tried it a couple of times in the store demos (Fry's has it setup in a cable tie shut PS2) and to be honest I feel a little silly playing it. Now, I'll probably get fried for this by some sector of the readers out there, but here it is:

To all the people out there who think Guitar Hero is dumb, just remember - any video game consists of you holding a controller and pressing buttons in response to some graphics on a TV screen. Does GH teach you to play a guitar? No, but Call of Duty 2 doesn't teach you how to fight a house to house battle with a submachine gun either.

One thing is certain - GH is a very big deal in the gaming world. And by big deal, I mean a game that is as unique and enviable as major games like Tetris, Pokemon, and Doom. We all know what happens to games like this...they get the shit copied out of them. How did I come to this conclusion? Well, it's pretty obvious by all the press it's getting, but the clincher was one day when I saw a line of people waiting to play the game at Fry's. I can't remember the last time I saw any game that half a dozen teenagers waited to play (and in a neat orderly line too!)

Friday, September 29, 2006

Happy 10th, N64!

Ten years ago today, the Nintendo 64 debuted in the US. In some ways it's hard to believe it's only been 10 years - a decade is a short time to go from birth to near obscurity.

I think my first time seeing a N64 was in Toys R Us around Xmas '96 shopping for presents. There were a lot of kids around the display/demo cases. I remember seeing Mario 64 and being pretty impressed. But, I knew that a big expense like a new game system was out of the question. Just the system and a game would have been nearly $300.

So I waited until the price came down. My opportunity came when the Jungle Green model was released with DK64. I vaguely remember it being around $150 and that came with a coupon for a banana colored controller by mail. I also thought it was too cool being made of clear green plastic - it and all other consoles were usually black or grey.

I never minded that the N64 only used cartridges. Being a longtime user of the SNES, I was more at home with a cartridge based system. You never had to worry about load times or scratched discs. And the controller worked great for FPS games - something the Playstation was never able to really support either in hardware or by controller. Unfortunately, the rest of the industry wasn't as open minded. The N64 faded too soon and took with it much of Nintendo's glory. A few weeks before this writing, I was in a Gamestop store and I heard a child ask her mother what those things were in a display basket. She replied that they were what old video game systems used. The basket held N64 cartridges.

Some of my favorite N64 memories:

Mario Kart 64 - my choice for Best Mario Kart game because of the really large courses
Zelda: Orcarina of Time - an amazing adventure that I really wanted to finish, but the "review all your enemies" battles at the end wore me out
Turok 2 - a great dinosaur FPS that was only hampered by a silly system by which level checkpoints really didn't do shit
Duke Nukem Zero Hour - a time traveling Duke Nukem game that was so addictive I finally had to sell it so I would stop playing it
Space Station Silicon Valley - a game as bizzare as it title sounded
DK64 - great platformer that I wish I had had the time to explore more of
Goldeneye - great (but by current standards, dated) FPS that I played until it started to repeat levels
Beetle Adventure Racing - I had a ton of fun racing this one!
Pokemon Snap - I don't think I'll ever play another game as unique as this one was
Shadowman - the first game I ever heard swearing in and it came with the best round lens sunglasses I've ever owned

Over the years I've thinned my collection a little and picked up some ones I either missed or wish I hadn't sold (like Majora's Mask). I was also able to get a backup system with controller at one point for about the price of a new controller, and got the Pikachu edition too. While our daughter is the only one in the family who still plays it regularly, I still like popping in a cart every once in awhile. Not having to wait for a game to load from disc is still nice. I suspect that I'll do some N64 gaming tonight myself and remember back to a time when consoles weren't sold to push a new media format or online service. Back then, it was only about the games.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Thursday update....because I missed it on Monday

General nits and bits:

"Finished" Hamtaro for the 3rd time last weekend. After getting all the Ham-chat words, I got an extended credits ending (more like the real credits). I've never seen a game with so many sequential endings!

Gave Polarium another chance after talking with my friend from work and it's not too bad. Sort of a cross between Othello and Tetris.

Started playing GTA:SA in little pieces. The game is everything you'd want from a truly "M" rated game. But as it has all the violence and language of a R rated movie, I think you should be able to have just as much sex and nudity that you can have in a R rated movie too. Stupid ESRB! I do wonder when a game like this gets made on the next (or even next) generation console, if the level of realism would get to a point that the comedic aspects of the violence (face it, everyone looks like cartoon characters and the blood is just red puddles) would be lost. This is a dark, serious game and the comic-relief of the unintended "accidents" is one of the only things keeping it from just being another gangsta shoot-em up movie.

Now that Ham-Ham is out of my GBA, I've started FFIV. Only problem with these FF ports is that the games were designed for a full TV screen while running on the PS. Pretty small sprites.

Oh, and I found out why gamers don't miss cartridge games...dirty contacts! I've gotten a few old N64 games off eBay and without my old SNES cleaning kit I'd be sending several back.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Ham-Ham Wrap Party

I stayed up late last night to fulfill my goal of the week - to finish Hamtaro's Ham-Ham Heartbreak! And with the exception of a couple of minor items I did.

I'm not sure what drove me to finish this game. Part was the really cute hamsters, part was the little ham-chat moves they did, but mostly it was a fun story to follow that never got so hard as to be frustrating. I knew that if I just kept coming back that I'd be able to complete it and that isn't something that I feel about most games.

(*** SPOILER ALERT! ***)

I did think it was odd that the game "ended" (in the sense that the credits rolled) before the game was really done. While I had beaten Spat (who turned into a Harmony look-alike lol), not all the Ham-hams were happy. One was still in the Spat Tower locked room! When I did get the final couple together (tip: have 2 glass beads by the end), I was treated to a quick glimpse of each of the couples I had helped. That little wrap-up summary and Harmony's "blessing" on the last couple (Hamtaro and Bijou)...well, let's just say that sad things aren't the only reason for tears. Kudos to the design team! And how do they come up with such sweet music for game endings?!?!

Thank you, Hamtaro, for a truly memorable experience! I'm looking forward to the next one (coming sometime late this year?) and I think I'll have to revisit the original GBC game.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Monday update...since I was out on Friday

Actually got through a few games this week.

FFXI and DSII continue. We got the Tele-Yoaht and Tele-Dem scrolls this week as well as a bit of leveling. While fairly easy, DSII is proving to be a very enjoyable game. There's more strategy involved during battles than DS - you can't all just bunch up and whack stuff till it dies. If you don't retreat when necessary, your party members lie in a pile and are killed again as soon as they stand up. Only downside is that our levels are under what all the special rooms require. Shows us what our levels would be if we were playing single player (but it wouldn't be much fun).

Hamster madness continues.

Played 3 Xbox racing games over the weekend. Two of them are going up on eBay this week - Forza Motorsports and Toca Race Driving 2. They should just put "Steering Wheel Required" on the boxes. I wasn't able to stay on the track for half a lap with these using the standard controller. I've played HOURS of Burnout games on this same controller on the Xbox and haven't had anywhere near the kind of problems I had with these. However, I was very pleasantly suprized to see how good NFS:HP2 is. Either they copied Burnout or vice-versa. Only difference is NFS isn't about crashing, it's about getting away from the cops. One thing I don't understand is why they didn't use the Xbox controller's triggers. Must have been a direct PS2 port.

Got to play a couple of hours of Stubbs the Zombie. I really enjoyed eating the brains of hapless civilians and police, turning them into my army of the dead, but I couldn't help feeling like the game wasn't quite finished. There were a few points where scenes changed a little too abruptly, making me think they were planning some kind of boss battle or something and didn't have the time or money to do it. But I'm not complaining - it was alot of fun!

Tried Polarium on DS and it's joining the racing games in looking for a new home. Why would someone make a game for a system with 2 color screens that only uses black and white tiles? And this is the first game that I've played that I couldn't understand what the tutorial was trying to teach me! (Update: After talking to a friend at work who has played it, I'm going to give it another try. Might as well - isn't work spit on eBay. :P )

Lastly, I just made (barely), my goal of getting F.E.A.R. installed and tried out this week. Great game - and it looks really good on my new flat screen. ;) Only drawback of games like this is that since I played the demo, I'll have to replay those same areas during the first part of the game. Oh, well.

Next weeks goal: Finish Ham-Ham Heartbreak!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Another Friday update....1 month plus later

I didn't mean for these posts to be so far apart, but shortly after the last post I had a fairly life-changing event happen and am just now getting back to a new kind of normal. I'll write about that in my other blog after I add the keyword "diabetes" to my profile. :P

As for what I played this week, one thing hasn't changed...still playing that damn hamster game! I got badly stuck this week and had to resort to an FAQ. Who knew you needed to ram other hamsters to get important info? I must be getting close to done. There's only one area I haven't opened up and my meter is nearly full. Then I think I'll start a shorter Pokemon!

Also played the opening bit to the original SiN (that still sounds wierd). I remember (and still have) the game when it came out. I think I stopped playing it because a) it ran like crap on my computer, and b) I kept killing the civy's.

Just got my second DS today - the first one was returned due to a stuck pixel on the top screen. This one will get checked this evening for any problems. Got it with a TMNT game which I didn't particularly care about, but it was only $10.

Haven't updated my "games purchased" page for weeks (same reason as above) but I don't think I really need it anymore. Basically I wanted to see what my buying habits were and it pretty much boils down to 3-4 games a week. Some weeks I go nuts and others I don't get any. Instead I've been working on a master list of all my games. I've come really close (and sometimes beyond close) to getting games I already have. This way I have something to check. I've even added stuff like on Xbox games if they are compatible with the 360. Kinda cool.

Project for next week: Get F.E.A.R. installed and play some.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Friday Update aka What I played this week

To keep this blog going, I'm going to make Friday's my "What did I play this week" entry.

FFXI - Worked on getting the SAM up to 30 so we can do a BCNM 30.

Hamtaro's Hamham Heartbreak - I'm really stuck on this game...and in a good way. It doesn't get repitious or too hard and the animations are sooooo cute. (Can't believe I just said that :P )

SiN Episode #1 - Not overly thrilled with this one. I hate that it's part of Steam (very slow to start up if there is an update). I'm still having a bitch of a time doing WASD keyboarding. I got lost in a few places trying to figure out what to do (like trying to open a chainlink fence door that just moved back and forth). And it has some really annoying load times. Frankly, I think I got it because it was on sale for only $14.99 and it included the original SiN game which I remember trying to play back in the early 3D days. Since it's supposed to be short, I might end up finishing it, but so far it's just another shooter with fairly pretty graphics.

Monday, May 22, 2006

I will buy a Xbox 360 when....(Update #1)

1. It has gone through at least 1 price cut.

2. There are at least 12 titles with an MSRP of $20.

3. I have white spotted (ie, played) at least half of the Xbox, PS2, and Gamecube games in my collection (not counting ones that were bought just for Sarah or duplicates). (Update #1: Did a rough count of my games and this number is around 90. Sheesh! Why is it so easy to get so many games so quickly!)

Friday, May 19, 2006

E3 2006 Wrap up

I know I didn't actually go to E3, but I've been following the podcasts and web sites and here are a few of my end of E3 observations (from the sidelines, anyway):

  • Sony was probably the biggest loser of the show. The PS3 is too expensive to create enough of a market base to support big game development. The controller is a dissapointment due to the lack of rumble and the tacked on motion control. Most of their games aren't going to make launch and Blue-Ray isn't enough of a reason for people to get this system. And why the hell did they have two different versions if everyone thought that Microsoft shouldn't have done it? True they had some pretty good looking exclusive games, but none of them were worth $700+ to play.
  • Nintendo is still waiting for the ship to stop rocking. While the controller wasn't a disaster, it wasn't universally accepted as a good thing. Add to that the so-so graphics and unless it makes it on price point alone, Ninny might still just as well stay in the handheld market. I have a feeling that once the Wiivolution gets into peoples homes, lots of problems are going to crop up with that sensor strip and the controller.
  • Microsoft is, I'm surprized to say, the show's big winner IMHO. They gained the advantage of having their system price look cheaper (compared to the PS3) and they have more high quality games in the pipeline since the hardware has been out there for awhile already. Before E3 I had no intention of getting a 360. Now, I have to say that I will get one either this Xmas or beginning of next year depending on price cuts and system changes (the cooler CPU). Certainly the 360 controller has always been a desireable feature and the Xbox Live is getting better (ie, offline downloads of demos). With the inevitable death of in-magazine CD/DVD's, this will be the way to get them.
  • Prediction: E3 '07 will be a veritable ORGY of games! Noone will be talking hardware as it will already be released and it will be way too soon to be looking at a new platform. That just leaves lots and lots of next gen games to make our eyeballs bleed with pleasure! (Oh, and I also expect that MGS4 will still not be released.)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

E3 Inspired Blog - #3

Well, the systems are out and now they are talking games. I have to admit the Wii games are looking more and more attractive because of what the controller can do (well, when it works correctly). Seeing games like Fable 2 and other 360 titles makes me think that either I will need a 360 at some point, or an upgraded computer (if they also put them on PC - which I think we will see alot more of until these systems build up a large user base). The DS line-up is also enforcing my decision to get a DS Lite in June. More Pokemon titles! Looks like there will be some more good Cube games - nice to see it isn't dead yet. As for PSP titles, I can only hope they follow in the footsteps of GTA:LCS and bring them out on PS2. With a 100 million unit base, you'd think it would be a no brainer, but Sony may have some real trouble keeping the PSP going. UMD's are going the way of Beta and at $200 it's still a very pricy unit.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

E3 Inspired Blog - #2

After the latest news, I think I'll start writing their name $ony.

So, PS3 is going to be $600 (I don't even count the cheap one - it's the same bad idea that Microsoft had). That's twice the original price of the PS2 and a huge investment for a gamer. I balked at the thought of the 360 being $400. How long is it going to be before the PS3 drops down to something reasonable? 2 or 3 years? And how are they going to get enough of a customer base to justify games being made for it? (Not enough boxes in homes means not enough units of games sold in the stores.) And they wimped out on the controller. Motion sensitive but no rumble and it looks just like the old PS2/PS1 controller?

But there are suckers all over the place. I was at Gamestop today and three people (2 in the store and one on the phone) asked if they were taking pre-orders yet! More money than brains, I guess.

Monday, May 08, 2006

E3 Inspired Blog - #1

With the net humming with E3 news in every shape and form (yeah, podcasts!), I've gotten the bug to blog again. During this week I'll try to post once a day even though I'm not actually at E3 myself. (I'm actually within driving distance of the event, but am not one of the chosen ones who get to attend.)

As for next gen consoles, I have no love for the 360. I think Microsoft rushed it out the door and cut the legs of the original Xbox too soon. On top of that, most of the good games are on PC as well, so why drop $400+ to get one? (Ok, it might be different if you have a sweet HD-TV setup, but I is not one of them.) But I am losing something because of the 360...mainly advertising for sale games. Every 360 game ad, is one less for the PS2, Cube, GBA, and Xbox. Very unfair.

I am looking forward to the PS3 even though I doubt I'll be able to get one at launch. Price and availability (and my own cheapness) will more than likely make it a canidate for Birthday Present 2007 (or maybe even Xmas 2007 - yikes!).

As for the Wii.... /sigh .... I love Nintendo. I really do. But WTF were they thinking? Was no one in the board room of the Western persuasion when the decision to call it Wii was made? I guess if it's cheap (in comparison to 360 and PS3) it will get enough of a user base to survive its silly name. Favorite jab: "The Nintendo Wii. Urine in the game now!"

Trend I want to see die: Downloadable games. First they screw us out of maps and game aids. Then they take away paper manuals. Now we won't even get our own copies of a game? BS meter is pegged, folks.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Rez High

I've never spent more than about $15 on a used game before (why pay alot if it's not new?), but the other day I dropped nearly $40 to get a game I never thought I'd see at Gamestop - Rez. This cult classic has been in very short supply until recently. I have no idea why there are so many on eBay now unless a whole batch was dug up in the desert next to the ET landfill.

I've always been curious about this game, but the screen captures always made me feel the game was rather primitive in its graphics. I figured I could always return it under their 7 day policy, making this more of a rent than a purchase. After playing it once I couldn't even imagine returning it! It's an amazing experience of light, music, and rythm that I wish every PS2 owner could have. (Oddly enough, OPM just put the demo on their DVD this month.) It actually made me think of Case's runs in cyberspace from Neuromancer. After my first run, I just sat and stared at the screen.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

DS vs PSP vs ? (Update #1)

I've been trying to decide if I need another handheld gaming system. My choices are either a PSP (which just dropped in price) or a DS Lite (which isn't for sale yet). This is what I'm weighing:

Pro: It's not another Nintendo; UMD movies; Some good games; Wireless net browsing; Putting stuff on Memory Sticks; Larger screen
Con: Will I really watch a UMD movie? (It would help if they had director commentaries); Not very many good games; Small screen wireless browsing doesn't work very well (or at least not on my PDA); GTA:LCS will be out on PS2 soon

DS Lite
Pro: Some good games out there; Cheaper than PSP; Plays GBA games; Is brighter even then new GBA; Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon games
Con: Touch screen; Nin still hasn't really figured out if it's in the game or not in regards to videos; Sort of feels like just another Gameboy

Well, the debate goes on. I'll have to get serious when the DS Lite is actually released over here.

Update #1

Out of all my posts, this one has actually resulted in responses (one I accepted, the other I didn't). As for who "won", I will be getting a DS Lite in June. It has better games (I think) and, while I will admit the PSP is a good unit, some of it's lesser features (load times, battery life, etc) make me less interested.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Journey into Oblivion

This is my first attempt at a running account of a single game experience. (It's also my second attempt at making a blog entry today - don't ask. :P) I've been looking forward to TES4:Oblivion for a couple of years now and yesterday was finally able to get my hands on it thanks to a Fry's special price of $37.99. For me that's a lot to spend on a game - I'm normally a cheap bastard who waits for the games to drop in price. But patience be damned!

Picking the box up in the store I was a little disappointed that it came in only a standard box - the type you just empty and toss. I much prefer the plastic case type box some of the other companies are using. I couldn't help but think that the release push had mandated these flimsy boxes as the only choice the marketing department had. Oh well. At least they only tried selling a PC-DVD version.

Opening the box at home produced another small wave of disappointment. While the manual and map looked ok (maybe a little too small and shiny for an RPG game), the disc came in nothing more remarkable than a paper sleeve. There was an insert advertising the mobile edition of the game which, bearing in mind the steep system reqs the game has, made me laugh. Yep, your desktop system might not be able to run Oblivion, but you can run it on your mobile phone! What I didn't see surprised me even more - no CD key! Very strange in these days of anti-piracy paranoia. I had expected something even if it wasn't as restrictive as HL2's online reg system.

As time was a little short, I was mainly interested in just getting the game installed. Game installs these days can take hours so I knew this was no small task. When I put the disc in, I was first greeted with an ATI install screen. WTF? A couple of retries showed that it wasn't an error. Apparently, this game first checks your graphics driver environment and if you have ATI Catalyst Control Center it will replace it with ATI Control Panel. This is before ANYTHING about Oblivion comes up on your screen. I checked the disc's root directory for a README that might explain this but didn't find one. As aborting the uninstall/install of the ATI software caused the whole install to stop, I didn't have much choice but let it have it's way with my system.

After the ATI stuff, the game install started and I have to say looked pretty cool (menus looked like parchment and were very simple). It took about 45 minutes (I think) to do the whole install. At the end, it asked if I wanted to put an icon on my desktop and....if I wanted to read the README file. Oh well. What I saw in the README, btw, was lots of stuff about how to turn off various graphics features to speed up your game. Given my borderline system, this might not bode well.

Tonight - I actually will try to run the game! Stay tuned!

** Update #1 **
Well, it runs without crashing (so far, anyway) which is more than I can say for most of the people on the Oblivion forums. It didn't think much of my P4 2.3ghz and Radeon 9800Pro, starting me off with a 640x480 resolution and most of the graphics features turned off. First thing I did was to defiantly bump it up to 800x600. Take that!

Opening sequence had beautiful music...and Patrick Stewart!

I created a character using the character creator program which makes some of the homeliest humans outside of a Neanderthal tribe. It also lets you choose from a whole host of species which I find a little odd. If you are fated to be in this adventure, how can you not be a specific character? It's one thing if you are entering a world like FFXI as just another citizen, but here you have a role to play. Probably just picking nits. Anyway, the humans or Imperials are still ugly - especially the women. My first character is named Harry, but I'll probably make a new one with a better name.

My next problem was one of control. Basically, I had none. The game won't recognize the right thumb stick on my gamepad and trying to use the keyboard blows. Left shift for run?? Yes I can change these, but I'd rather use a game controller. So, today I bought a Xbox 360 controller and a device from Fry's that let's you put an Xbox controller on your PC. If I can get one of these to work, I'm in business and I'll show those rats that I know how to wield a dead captain's katana.

** Update #2 **
Ok, nothing's working now. The Xbox controller adapter was a disaster (the hub was recognized but not the controller) and the 360 controller didn't work any better than the Logitech (ie, not right thumbstick). Worse, the drivers for the 360 unit basically locked up after I ran the configuration utility. BTW, what the heck is a Z-axis on a gamepad?

The forums are going nuts with people having all kinds of problems, mostly video related but I saw a couple of people who had the same problem as me. I really think my best bet is to hold off trying to play this anymore until Bethesda releases a patch. Lots of other stuff I can do in the meantime.

** Update #3 **
Not being able to just ignore the game, I decided to keep trying to get the controller working over the weekend. And after finding a post on the forums, actually did get the controller to work like it was supposed to (turned out it was a change to the joystick sensitivity parameters in the .INI file - who knew?). HOWEVER, all is not perfect yet. Since the game still requires you to use the mouse on menus, you have to keep switching between the gamepad and mouse. This is leaving me to think I will go back to the old numeric keypad I have and see if that works better. At least I figured out a good name for my character - Bryne.

** Update #4 **
Last night I started playing Oblivion for real. Turns out the keyboard and mouse method works pretty well. I still need to work out a few details (like how to swap between ranged and melee weapons), but I think Bryne is on his way.

** Update #5 **
Played some more last night. Just exploring more of the underground area you start in, but I did kill my first zombie! Using magic on rats is fun, but after our recent home issues, fighting rats makes me a little jumpy. The weapon swapping thing works well, but I wish I could sell some of this extra stuff and lighten my load.

Friday, March 03, 2006


I almost never get a game when it is only a day old, but Black was an exception (Oblivion will probably be too, but that's later in the month lol). Made by the same crash-happy folks of Burnout lore, Black is as advertised - gun porn! The manual could be a single page describing what the buttons on the controller do and even that you can figure out fairly quickly. It is a game devoid (I'm happy to say) of subtlety. The room you start the first mission in has a closed door. I must have spent 5 minutes trying to figure out how to open the door. Aside from getting familiar with the controls, I wasn't able to budge it - so I shot it with the shotgun. Oh, that's how you do it! Well, duh! Black is for folks whose favorite movie scenes are the lobby scene from Matrix, the camp attack in Predator, and all the stuff in Navy SEALS that doesn't involve Michael Bein's love interest. I particularlly like the fact that cover can be shot away, although the grenades could have been done a bit better - I can't figure out how to throw them any distance. I managed to get through the first level on Easy on my first try, but it was touch and go a few times. This is just as it should be. I recently tried a demo of something called Ubersoldier, but the game didn't let me get out of the first room without dying. That pretty much killed any interest I had in it. I want to do max damage in a FPS and see plenty of carnage - but not of my character! I'm glad I didn't wait for this one to go any farther on sale.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

By the Numbers (previously Updates)

Not so much here on the blog as on my Video Game Purchases web page. For some reason I felt the need to add totals for games by platform, total number of games purchased since I started it and a weekly tally of purchases - in case this might shed some light on by buying habits, I suppose. I even have an average number of games purchased per week (which for me is always Monday to Sunday). In a possible validation of the theory that any examination of a phenomenon will affect the characteristics of the phenomenon itself, I just happened to go to Gamestop today not completely ignorant of the fact that this week's total of purchased games was still zero and bought 4 more PS2 games.

Friday, January 06, 2006

I love it when I'm right :)

I read today that GTA:LCS is coming to the PS2....just like I predicted it would. Following the corporate plan that exclusivity has an expiration date, I knew that Sony would want more mileage out of the development costs incurred making LCS. It does surprise me a little that they announced so soon, but I guess the Xmas bubble has burst and whatever business the title could create for PSP sales is mostly over. Either way, it will make a fun game to play without having to get one of those pricey toys.

Traded some sleep last night for time on RE:2 for the cube. I have to agree with the critics who blasted Ninny for releasing it without the kind of update treatment #1 got. The graphics really suck for a cube game. But I have to say it handles better and runs quicker than it's PS1 parent.

Idea for next blog: Finishing games.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

What lies ahead....

Well, my Retirement 11 day demo ran out so it's back to work time. (Excellent program, btw. Can't wait for the full version!)

Much FFXI gaming over the break, but only a little console time. I did play some of Obscure (aka Resident Evil 90210) and it was both entertaining and dissapointing. Good graphics and decent control scheme, but there were a couple of times where not being able to move the camera made finding things almost impossible - like the gate out of the first area! I liked the partner style of gameplay, but to say this is a co-op play game is a ripoff. All they did was allow another player to drive around a slave character. No fun at all. However, as a single player game it worked out quite well. I also liked that when a character died, he (or she) stayed dead. You never know who's going to make it through. And the other characters would mourn at the places where their friends fell in battle. Sort of like Sims grief.

This is going to be an interesting year, videogame-wise. The old guard will be replaced with new systems. Microsoft has already stopped production of any MS games for the Xbox, and one has to wonder about the Cube. With the release of the Revolution, will Nin keep making games for a platform that is already struggling? I don't expect PS2 games to go away anytime soon - too many consoles out there to cater to. And eventually stores have to cut back on one platform or another or run out of display space. Target's have expanded their game area, but it's still only a couple of aisles. Walmart will have to make the most changes and as they are #1 in retail sales, that means alot.

And what will I end up buying? At this point, I have no interest in a 360 (too buggy, not any games I can't play on the PC, no interest in the online features, etc). The Revolution will probably be fairly cheap and if they have good backwards support that will be a plus. I am looking forward to a PS3 as I think it will be the powerhouse of the three. I have a feeling that in the end MS will regret having gone first in the console wars.

Time will tell and 2006 has begun.