Friday, December 29, 2006

Merry Christmas Penguins!

If you haven't seen this, you owe it to yourself...



Merry Christmas & Happy New Years All! Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Incognito!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Game of the Year?

Hey Everyone!

As you all have probably noticed the blog has slowed down some for the holidays, but I want to encourage everyone to keep reading/writing, and so with the new year approaching it seems like a good time to discuss the best games of 2006. So I will open up the floor for all nominations, what do you think is the best game of 2006 and why?

My nomination should come as no surprise (and may be met with disdain from one of our writers), I nominate Final Fantasy XII for game of the year. It has a great storyline, fun gameplay, interesting characters, beautiful visuals, and enough content to keep you busy for a LONG time. It's probably the most enjoyable RPG I have played in some time and one of the best Final Fantasies ever, two thumbs way up.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Which is the better game?

This will probably be the first of many similar posts in the life of this blog, but last night I decided to play Rainbow Six: Vegas and I thought to myself, "man this game is really good," and I also thought, "man this game reminds me a lot of Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter." So I will pose this debate/discussion/question: Which is the better game G.R.A.W. or R.S.: Vegas?

My personal opinion is that R.S.: Vegas because it takes the already successful G.R.A.W. formula, puts it in a far more entertaining locale, improves how cover is implemented, and adds fun room-clearing tactics and equipment into the mix. When you add in the fun "save the hostage(s)" scenarios that crop up pretty regularly, you get an experience that is overall better than its predecessor (recognizing that the games are not actually in the same series). Thoughts?

Re: An Interesting Question

Seriously, Man of the Year: You? Did they stick a little mirror on the front cover of the magazine too? I'm glad that the blog was able to inform me of this little story because I probably would have completely missed it otherwise. Now for more important news what game is most important to me...

As I think both Incongito and Sidious have addressed, this is a very loaded question with a ton of great answers: Final Fantasy VII, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Goldeneye, Chrono Trigger, among many, many others. For me I think the answer would have to be Starcraft. I think that in a lot of ways it changed the way that the industry thought about real-time strategy. It pioneered the concept of multiple different sides with actual appreciable differences in how they played and it also included one of the first RTS storylines that was actually character driven. Zeratul, Tassadar, Kerrigan, the guy who runs the Terran Imperium that I can't remember the name of, these characters still resonate with RTS players to this day and the storyline was engrossing to a point that I don't think any RTS has been able to match. Add to that one of the first expansion packs to actually build on the storyline of its predecessor and you have probably one of the finest real-time strategy experiences ever created.

I mean the thing still randomly pops up as a top seller even today, and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Starcraft should be blushing like a schoolgirl with a crush. Countless attempts have been made to downright copy that formula that made Starcraft such a success, but none have been able to truly recapture the experience that made it so unique, and with Blizzard basically pulling out of the single player market due to the overwhelming success of its WoW franchise, it is unlikely we will see such a sublime RTS experience for some time. Though Relic's Dawn of War is close...very, very close...

Re: An interesting question

Incognito, I would have to say that my vote for most important game is actually a pair (a cop-out I know, but I am appealing to your magnanimity as the newly crowned man of the year) of 3do games which really altered my perceptions of what games could be: Star Control 2 and Shock Wave 2. What these games did that very few, if any, games did before them, was to apply a deep and interesting story to genres that hadn't really utilized story in such a way before.

In Star Control, the basic gameplay consists of rotating your two dimensional space ship around an oppoisng two dimensional space ship until you can blow said other ship up. But what Star Control 2 added was a point. All of a sudden, you were the sole free human being in the universe and it was your job to stop those other two dimensional space ships from enslaving the remainder of humanity. Add the fact that you could finish the game while only discovering roughly half its secrets, and you have what may be my favorite game of all time.

In Shock Wave 2, you pilot a fighter craft against an alien horde seeking to enslave humanity. I know, I know, "Wow what an original story!" But the reason it was so influential to me, is that it, like Star Control 2, raised the notion of applying story to areas where it had not been present before. Both Shock Wave games are essentially mock-up first person flight games in the vain of the old Empire Strikes Back arcade machine. But in Shock Wave 2 there are characters and plot lines that give impact to the missions you play, and for the first time in my memory playing the game was like participating in a science fiction movie come to life.

I am sure that other games have accomplished the integration of game play and story better than these two, at least by now, but for opening my eyes to what video games can be, these two games get my vote as most influential. Good question, Incognito.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

1 in a million

From The Magic Box:

"Capcom announced the single player and multi-player demos of Lost Planet: Extreme Condition have been downloaded more than 1 million times combined; and over 300,000 hours of play time on Xbox Live."

Looks like I'm not the only one that's excited.

An interesting question

Geez, I'm without internet for two days and you Chatty Cathys post like six times.

Anyways, before I get to my original post, I had 3 comments:
1. If you want Master Chief to be robotic in his acting, that screams Keanu.
2. If you had put "Veronica Mars" in parentheses after Kristin Bell's name you could have saved me a google trip.
3. I really didn't expect to be Man of the Year of the year this soon. Now I can work on being 3-time Man of the Year, since at this point 2-time Man of Year goes without saying.

Now on to the real post.

I would like to pose this question to you all: what game is the most important to you. By this, I mean what game either changed your perception on what games of that genre (or games in general) should be, or changed the industry's views on the same.

It would not surprise me in the least if at least 3 of us have the same answer.

For me, the most important game is Final Fantasy VII, for what it did to the industry. What Goldeneye did for console FPSs, FF 7 did for console RPGs. FF 7 put console RPGs on the map. Not only that, but that development team spread out over the entire industry. Nowadays, you're hard pressed to find an RPG development team that doesn't have ties to the FF 7 staff.

Also, FF 7 did something that hasn't been duplicated since: profanity. For me, that was the most eye-opening aspect of FF 7. It was something that you just didn't see in videogames at that time (even though it was all censored, it was still unprecedented), and it's something that you haven't seen in console RPGs before or since. That's what makes me sad, that no one has had the stones to make an RPG character that swears all the time. However, this only adds to the legacy of FF 7. If we never see another Barret or Cid again, it makes them all the more endearing to us knowing that they are on-of-a-kind.

Time keeps on tickin'...

According to Gamespot:
When the New York Times said the PlayStation 3 "just isn't that great" in November, many Sony fans were up in arms. However, those words were relatively kind compared to what Time had to say. In naming its "5 Things That Went From Buzz to Bust" for 2006, the magazine put the PS3 right up there with Snakes on a Plane, O.J. Simpson's If I Did It book proposal, and Bode Miller's goose egg at the Winter Olympics. The piece begins harshly ("The big story in computer games this year was HOW TO BLOW A HUGE LEAD, by Sony." (capitals in original)), continues brutally ("The PS3 is hideously expensive," "the launch titles were lame"), and ends with a schoolyard insult ("You know you're in trouble when you get beat by something called a Wii"). Time's disdain for the PS3 isn't unprecedented. For the console's launch, the magazine also ran an article titled "Sony's PlayStation 3 Is Not Worth the Hype."
Me: While I don't disagree with the premise that the PS3 launch could have been a lot better, comparing it to OJ Simpson's writing a book explaining how he committed murder is a bit of a low blow, don't you think. Of course I guess we should expect no less from a magazine that, when faced with the daunting prospect of choosing a man/woman of the year, laid this particular egg. I dare say that the choice is a bit of a bust itself, but hey at least I can finally put that man of the year plaque up.

Stars and Videogames

Well, Avenger, I don't think that any portion of the Halo movie has been cast, especially since they seem to throw out whatever script their working on every other day. That being said, I'm fairly certain that Samuel L. would be too emotive to be the chief. You would need to cast someone who could be a bit more robotic in their performance.

Edit: Oh and I just thought of this, but does Ms. Bell's description of Assassin's Creed seem to send itself pretty naturally to a certain theme song. "A long time ago, we used to be friends..."

Monday, December 18, 2006

We gotta kill them Covenant motherf@#ers!!!

Denzel's set to play Master Chief in the movie isn't he?

Stars in videogames is kinda cool, but not an altogether new idea. Still it should be interesting to see who else crosses over...

Oh, and your Kristen Bell-lust scares me (I understand that she is, in fact, wicked attractive, but seriously). Just go watch Reefer madness again or that one where the internet is trying to kill people...

Stars and Video Games

While it may be going to far to call Kristen Bell a bone fide star at this point, its not going to far to call her a video game star. According to IGN:
"GN TV: You also have a videogame you worked on for next year, right?

Bell: Yeah, I actually have one coming out for Ubisoft. I don't know what the date is; sometime next year. It's called Assassin's Creed. You can check it out at assassinscreed.com. It's actually really interesting to me. It's sort of based on the research that's sort of happening now, about the fact that your genes might be able to hold memory. And you could argue semantics and say it's instinct, but how does a baby bird know to eat a worm, as opposed to a cockroach, if its parents don't show it? And it's about this science company trying to, Matrix-style, go into people's brains and find out an ancestor who used to be an assassin, and sort of locate who that person is. It's very, very cool, and I've seen all the graphics for it. We just recorded all the dialogue and did all the face scans and body scans, and I'm really excited about it.

IGN TV: So you're not just doing the voice, but you're actually going to be physically in the game?

Bell: Yeah. I think they'll probably have someone much more coordinated do any actions she has to do, but they did scan my face and body."
I don't know about you, but this news officially moves Assassin's Creed way up my list. Especially if Bell solves high school/college related crimes while in the Assassin's Creed world. That being said, the idea that stars can now so easily be incorporated into video games makes me wonder...what other stars would make good video game characters? Kiefer Sutherland teaming up with Sam Fisher? Samuel Jackson as a squad mate in Halo 3? Any thoughts?

Friday, December 15, 2006

FFXII and Incognito

Yeah, we probably could talk more about FFXII, seeing as it is one of the best Final Fantasies ever, but then you'd probably just pout about it by refusing to post for a month or something so I'll try to curtail our discussion and it will probably happen naturally if we ever beat the blasted thing...

The Mario Party 4 Drinking Game

As promised:

THE MARIO PARTY (4) DRINKING GAME
Blue Space: Drink 1
Red Space : Everyone Drinks 1
Happening Space: Drink 2
Mushroom Space: Everyone else Drink 1
Event Space : Drink 2
Warp Space: Drink 2
Fortune Space: Drink 3
Bowser Space : Waterfall ending with who landed on it
Get Item: Drink 2
Use Item : Drink 3
Roll Again : Next Drink is x2
Minigame Loser(s): Drink 1 for each winner
Minigame Winner(s): Drink 2 for each loser
Battle Game Everyone: Drink # of coins/10 (round up)
Battle GameWinner: Drink 2
Battle Game winner of “That other coin” = 1 Drink
Bowser Game Loser: 3 Drinks
Bowser Game non-losers: 2 Drinks
Star: Finish
Lottery Winner : Drink 3
Win Lucky Ticket: Drink 5
“Last 5 Spinner”: Drink 5
Hidden Block: Drink 10
Bonus Stars: Drink 5 each
Second Place: Finish
WINNER : Finish+1
Other rules can and will be added at owner’s discretion.

The game can handle as many people as needed, just have non-players "sponsor" players, and drink when they drink.

I'm nervous

So, I just read that Squeenix (that's what I've started calling Square Enix. I hope it catches on) is working on 2 titles for the 360. My worst fear is that they will pull a "Soul Caliber" with Kingdom Hearts 3: releasing the game on the PS3 and 360 with 1 or 2 minor differences. This terrifies me, because I know that I will have to play both versions. I don't have the time for that, nor do I will I have the strength to choose just one, knowing that I'm missing out on part of the Kingdom Hearts 3 experience.

God, I hope one of those two titles isn't KH 3. It will break me.

I saw your post first

First, don't call me Incog, it's creepy. It sounds like we're dating.

Second, Gears tonight is a no-go, since tonight is the glorious return of the MARIO PARTY DRINKING GAME!!!!!! I'll post the rules here later (after I give them a test run).

Also, could we discuss FF XII more? I really don't think we bring it up in enough posts. And since sarcasm doesn't come across very well in print, I'll just mention that that last sentence was sarcasm.

On FFXII's Length...

I think that Sidious overestimates the strength of the storyline fights. I just fought a storyline boss last night (after doing hunts for about the last 6-8 hours) and it was complete cakewalk. I mean he basically took away all my MP so he wasn't allowed to be too hard, but the hunt I did right before him was about 5 times harder. In addition, equipment in this game boosts your stats at least on par with leveling and since that is directly tied to your place in the storyline, your characters probably get stronger faster. Still 40 might be pushing it, there's a lot of walking (Lord of the Rings style), but I think you could do it a heck of a lot faster than we are. Still I don't think it's too long because I am constantly seeing new things, getting new stuff, fighting new monsters, and there are still plenty of areas I have encountered that I am nowhere near strong enough to traverse. As I said, as long as there is content and gameplay to back it up, length is a good thing.

Hey Incog, I'll probably call you about this, but if you see this post first, you up for some Gears Multiplayer tonight? Let me know!

I don't think we should add this to IDOG

For those of you who spent any time wacthing the Detroit Tigers go from having 13 consecutive losing seasons to being in the World Series this fall, you probably know about their rookie phenom closer, Joel Zumaya. "Zoom-Zoom Zumaya" was so good this season that when the Tigers needed to shut out the Yankees for the last three innings of only their second playoff game in over a decade, they went to the kid. Of course those of you who followed the Tigers also likely know that after his magnificent performance in that game, he was only sporadically available to the team do to an unknown hand injury. Well now we know what caused that injury. According to this article at Gamespot:
"Zumaya, who tops the 100mph mark on his fastball, was benched in the ALCS against the Oakland Athletics because of forearm inflammation. However, the Tigers training staff was confused because his injury seemed to be caused by the same motion of playing guitar--not from an overhand pitching motion.

The pitcher and trainers quickly realized that Zumaya's problem stemmed from his addiction to RedOctane's Guitar Hero, the PlayStation 2 rhythm game that uses a guitar-shaped controller, according to the Detroit Free Press."

So I guess Jack Thompson was right after all: Video Games Kill...playoff chances.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Re: On a Plethora of Topics

After thinking about Incognito's and Avenger's points. I have the following comments:
"RPG should be finishable (is that a word?) in 40 hours. Period."
Me: I couldn't agree with this point, and I don't think that Avenger would ever. If there is one thing I disagree with, however, is Avenger's notion that FF XII is "finishable" within 40 hours if you skip the side quests. Maybe I'm wrong (and I'm certainly trying to do everything), but since I'm struggling to keep my party alive even with all that extra experience and money, I don't see how anyone can rocket through the game by simply following the main quest. Perhaps the game is using some kind voodoo balancing system to compensate for my now 58 hours of play.
"Does anyone enjoy looking at Akira Toriyama's designs?"
Me: I have to say that I don't share Incognito's utter disdain for these character designs. At the same time, I don't think that they rise to the level of those contained in even DQ 8 much less FF XII.
"On the Lost Planet Online Demo"
Me: This sounds like fun, I like the concept of not having respawning weapons, and of having constantly changing maps. I don't know about the rest of you, but with constant maps it always felt like skill could be overcome through the simple act of memorization. Laser Swords anyone?
"I'd like to see Super Nintendo titles like Soulblazer, Illusion of Gaia, or Actraiser on the Virtual Console..."
Me: Oh yeah...the glory days of of the SNES. Did you see IGN's review of Alien Crush? They think that Nintendo is just "being nice" by holding on to their own juggernaut-type games until their partners get some of their stuff out. I don't know about that, but there is little doubt in my mind that the Virtual Console is going to be something truly special in the very near future.

Finally, as for the numbering debate, I admit that the problem is more psychological than anything else. By the time DQ 10 comes out on the PS3 we will just acknowledge DQ 9 as something like Rocket Slime, but I just don't understand why companies do this.

On a plethora of topics

Plethora. Good word. Aaaaaaanyways.

On game length:
I'll chime in on my self-proclaimed area of expertise: a console RPG should be finishable (is that a word?) in 40 hours. Period. You can add on 500 hours of side-quests if you are so inclined, but I should be able to play the main storyline to completion in 40 hours.

On Blue Dragon:
The word on the street is that Blue Dragon will be displayed in 1080p. Fantastic. Now I can enjoy 1080 vertical lines of progressively scanned god-awful character design. Does anyone enjoy looking at Akira Toriyama's designs? Well, other than the Japanese? It was acceptable when they were on the SNES (see Chrono Trigger), since back then pretty much every artist's designs looked the same in 16-bit. Unfortunately, nowadays when someone designs ugly, uninteresting characters they are all too noticeable. This isn't to say that I don't think Blue Dragon won't be a great game. I have high hopes for it. However, I'm not looking forward to staring at this for hours on end.

On the Lost Planet Online Demo:
I have NEVER been this into the online aspect of the game. This is due to two main reasons:
1. The map is never the same. You won't find the same item in the same spot twice. Also, items don't re-spawn, so no one can camp the plasma rifle, or shotgun, or whatever their weapon of choice is.
2. 12-year-olds with headsets. Not only are they almost-free kills, they are the greatest source of comedy in the known universe. I played a match with not one, but two 12-year-olds with headsets. My friend and I were laughing so hard I almost didn't win. Almost.
January 12th is getting closer by the day.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Responses...

Thank you, Sidious for your numerous posts as of late. Sorry if you've felt like a raving madman sitting out here musing to yourself, while the rest of us have been too busy with work/school to respond. I will take the onus of responding to all your debates though the rest of you can feel free to chime in...

Too Long ?
Perhaps FFXII is too long (moving into hour 70 on my end, still not sure how close I am to the ending), but there's a few things to say in its defense and the defense of long games in general. First, do you tend to involve yourself in the extra stuff (side quests, optional dungeons, ultimate weapons, etc.)? FFXII has these in spades and the hunts alone may be longer than the plot of the actual game itself. If you burn through the story alone without getting distracted by other things (as some gamers do) this one might be only 40-45 hours. Second, a game's length should be somewhat tailored to it's genre. RPGs are always going to be longer to give you that sense of accomplishment when you do something and also to see that gradual progression of your character. FPSs on the other hand should probably not be longer than 20 hours, there's just not that much you can do within a single FPS, and if you try to stretch it out too much if often comes off as feeling repetitive. Another thing to consider is that you add length because of a breadth of content you need/want to display not just so that you can have length to advertise about. There is a certain push from mainstream reviewers that longer=better, but somewhere along the way they forgot why: more content is better because there's more to see and do not just the same industrial hallway with the same bad guys jumping out and shooting at you over and over again. I mean the Matrix could be 10+ hours long but no one wants to see Trinity and Neo driving everywhere they want to see the lobby scene! Finally, I think you have to accept that there are different buying patterns out there. There are gamers that buy lots of different great games because they like having them, even if they know they probably won't get a chance to finish them (Sidious and myself for example). At the same time there are many gamers which buy only a few games a year and play them constantly. For them, they want a lot of time for their money so they can explore every nook and cranny and really get their money's worth out of the game. It really comes down to this: if at any point in a game you just want to finish it because you've put so much time into it, it's too long, and that is going to differ a lot from person to person depending on their spending and playing habits. For me that was Star Ocean: Til the End of Time, way too long and not enough happened, for you maybe it's FFXII or Doom 3...

Hybrid Games
Hybrid games can be cool, though I still don't understand your adoration of Final Lap Twin, but to each his own. A puzzle RPG would be cool and I'd like to hear more about it. Personally, (though I don't have a Wii) I'd like to see Super Nintendo titles like Soulblazer, Illusion of Gaia, or Actraiser on the Virtual Console, those games were sweet, though I suppose I could just emulate them...

Disclaimer: The writers of The Den and The Vampire Penguin do not condone or support the behavior of piracy in any way, shape, or form. Except for sky piracy...then it's cool.

Numbering in RPGs
Agreed, handheld games probably shouldn't qualify for numbers, neither should games that depart from the genre of the original. At that point they cease being part of a series and are considered spinoffs to that series: FF Tactics, DQ: Rocket Slime, etc. Does this mean we don't get a DQ IX outside of the DS? That's kind of lame, I mean DQ8 is a masterpiece and say what you will for the DS, it can't match that, it's just impossible to get to that level of polish on a handheld. Well, that bummed me out. Guess I'll have to go play more FFXII.

There that should fill my blog quota for a little while. Keep em comin!

Numbering in RPGs

Ok so according to this article, Dragon Quest IX, the sequel to one of the best games ever made, will be exclusive to, of all things, the Nintendo DS. Now, I don't have a problem with the DS having a Dragon Quest (or any other series) as a general rule, but I do have a problem with it being called "IX." I really think Square-Enix needs to reexamine its policy on game numbering conventions. An RPG on a handheld can no more be the "true sequel" to a world renowned RPG-series than an MMORPG can. And the fact that I have to explain to those around me why I consider FF XII to be the true sequel to FF X, still irks me. FF XI may be a great game, but the eleventh "true" Final Fantasy game it is not.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Hybrids and Puzzles

As many of you may know, Monday is Wii Virtual Console Day in the Sidious household. Each Monday, the nice people at Nintendo release a few more games for their virtual console into the hands of their adoring fans. But the stream isn't quite fast enough. Everyone I know (with a Wii that is) is waiting for a different favorite game: Super Mario Bros., Zelda: Ocarina, Toe Jam and Earl...etc. I myself am hoping for a number of different games, mainly from that old stalwart of video game console-dom: The Turbographix 16. One such game is called Final Lap Twin. It was a racing game much like every other racing game on the planet, with one exception: an RPG. That's right, you needed to race "monsters" and earn upgrades to your car in order to work your way to the world championships, all the while talking to townsfolk and helping them with their problems. I loved this game. Well, I was scanning the web this morning and another interesting hybrid has popped up. They call it "Puzzle Quest" and this is what Gamespot has to say about it:

"The easiest way to imagine Puzzle Quest is as a mix of the challenging Bejeweled-like puzzles mixed with role-playing elements that would fit nicely in an older Final Fantasy game."

A Puzzle RPG...I mean come on, how can that go wrong? Any thoughts?

Monday, December 11, 2006

How Long is too Long?

So, I'm sitting there yesterday working on the 55th or 56th hour of Final Fantasy XII, with no discernable end in sight, and I think to myself: "Is this game officially too long at this point?" Now, don't get me wrong, I can think of few other games which I have enjoyed this immensely, but at this stage of my life (ie working, with a new house, and a soon-to-be new wife) I do want to have some hope of finishing the games that I start, and for games other than those with a "Final" and a "Fantasy" in the title, I know that I will not be able to devote this many hours. What do you all think? Are games too long? And as a corrolarry, do games get knocked too much by mainstream review sites for being "short' (8-15 hours)?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Sequels ftw!

I love sequels! Some of my favorite all-time games are sequels, like Kingdom Hearts II and Shadow Hearts: Covenant. Sequels work when they take what you loved about the last game and make it even better, whether its the combat, or the story, or the characters, etc.

As for what constitutes a sequel, I think that it largely depends on the genre. For me, since the majority of the games that I play are console RPG's, a sequel to me is anything with storyline, or at least time-line carryover. For example, Shadow Hearts: Covenant is a sequel to Shadow Hearts because it starts (more or less) where the first game left off, and Shadow Hearts: From the New World is a sequel to that, even though it has none of the same playable characters, since it takes place in the same world at a different time. Conversely, Final Fantasy VIII is not a sequel to Final Fantasy VII, since it has new characters, a new world, a new story, and no time-based relationship (e.g. the FF VIII world is not the FF VII world 400 years in the future, it is a separate entity). A common name does not a sequel make.

As for other genres, perhaps my compatriots could provide their insight on the matter.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dear Gamers: Question 1

Do you think game sequels work?

Personally I have seen some sequels work very well. As a girl gamer I don't mind the differences or nuances between Spyro 1 and Spyro 2. But what are your thoughts on sequels? And what would you consider a sequel and what is just part of a series?

Sweetness

There's a Lost Planet multiplayer demo? That's awesome! I've been stoked about that game since the E3 demo came out a while ago, but I haven't done much with my 360 lately as my HDTV is in the shop (curse you Best Buy!). I'm glad to see it's good though, I'll have to check it out some time. Have you played any Gears of War online yet? The online gameplay in that is pretty sweet, though again it does rely a lot on WHO you play with. There's more than a few people who convinced me to go find another server after playing with them for approximately 3 seconds. Nevertheless, the multiplayer is tight especially when you get a team together that actually talks and works together. Too bad you can't keep a team together in ranked matches, but I guess achievements aren't everything...

Oh and in your response about the PS3, I think you are totally right about the difference in supply between the Wii and PS3, and considering that the PS3 has one of the worst launches ever (Resistance:FoM and what?) it's no big loss. I figure it will work out just like the 360, as soon as they have an exclusive I'm desperate for (like Oblivion for the 360) it should be on its way to being readily available in stores. In the meantime I'm playing a lot on my PC (Mark of Chaos, Neverwinter Nights 2, BF2142) and the PS2 (FFXII, Okami, Valkyrie Profile 2) so I should be good for a while =).

Friday, November 24, 2006

Lost Planet = Super Awesome

So, I beat Gears of War on casual tonight, and I didn't feel like starting again on hardcore right away, so I hit the marketplace to see what's new. Dark Sector video, huh? Why not. Lost Planet Online Demo, hello! I had seen some videos of the game a while back and was none to impressed, but I downloaded the single player demo a few weeks ago and had a lot of fun with it. And even thought I usually don't care for the multi-player aspects of games very much (call me crazy), I figured I'd give it a shot, and I'll be damned if one elimination match didn't sell me on it.

Maybe it has nothing to do with the game itself, and everything to do with the natures of the other 10 people I was playing with, but no one resorted to cheap tricks just to win. This really impressed me, since the game is littered with weapons that just scream CAMP WITH ME (e.g. the laser cannon)!!!!!!! It also helped that I didn't suck, as is usually the case with me and online shooters. I got second place, and probably could have won if the default controls didn't suck. The three options that I should have been default:

1. I blame Halo as the game that began this horrific trend of not inverting the Y-axis by default. Anyone who had ever played a console shooter before 2002 was raised on the inverted Y-axis! This should be default on every console shooter!
2. The default sensitivity for the cross hairs is at least 2 settings too slow.
3. Why is the options menu the back button? Especially when the start button is not mapped to anything else? It took me about 3 deaths to find the damn options menu.

Also, am I going crazy? Did they switch the "change weapon" and "anchor" button mappings for the online demo? I haven't double-checked, but I swear they did.

Anyways, Lost Planet has jumped way up my "to get" list. As one guy in my match said:
"When does this game come out?"
"Not soon enough."
Too true may friend. January 12th seems so far away.

Monday, November 20, 2006

"Next-gen" is here

Hooray! All of the "next-gen" systems have been released. I'm currently taking all bets on how long until news sites stop referring to it as "next-gen" and start calling it "current-gen." The over-under is Christmas.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Gamecube 1.5"

Of course Nintendo can have 1.4 million units at launch: they're using 3-year old hardware. It wouldn't surprise me if they bought their chip sets from an army surplus store. Using materials that are readily available allows you to make lots and lots of consoles.

You know what materials are not readily available? Blu-ray drives and Cell processors. Sony's manufacturing process for the PS3 is dependent not only on their ability to assemble consoles, but also on other manufacturers ability to create the parts used in the PS3. If Cell manufacturing gets slowed up, Sony's up sh*t creek without a paddle.

Does this mean Sony is not doing something as diabolical as purposely holding back production? No, Sony is a diabolical company. It is well within the realm of plausibility. I'm just tired of everyone riding Sony's ass about production shortages. When you have such a ridiculous amount of demand, it's impossible to satisfy it. Unless you make some ridiculous number of systems, let's say 10 million, which is not a fiscally feasible number, there are lots of people out there who want it and don't get it.

So you didn't get a PS3? Life sucks. Get over it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Consoles != Money

First of all, don't think for a second that Sony cares about you, you might as well pray for one because it's more likely that divine intervention will get you a PS3 than appealing to Sony's sense of decency. Or you can hire a Chinese immigrant, apparently that's working out pretty well for the Japanese, and eBay...

Bitter diatribes aside, I believe the truth of the matter is consoles don't actually equal money for the company, at least not in the short run. Consoles are sold at a loss, but the money is made up on the videogames in which a cut of every $60 goes straight to Sony. With the relatively small launch line-up that the PS3 has (which is mostly composed of ports from other systems), Sony is probably expecting to lose a fair bit of money on the launch, and it is entirely possible they are trying to cut their losses by slowing down the launch schedule.

It is also entirely possible that they have completely screwed up the manufacturing process, and they really can't manage to produce near enough to meet demand. I mean 400,000 down to 200,000? Why is that only being announced now? Did it sneak up on you? Was one of your warehouses raided by PS3 hoarding warlords? Doubtful. The truth is they didn't want to stall out their hype machine with the little fact that on launch day, most of us are going to be disappointed.

Really there's no excuse for it, I mean look at Nintendo. 1.4 million Wii's worldwide at launch and another 4 million by Christmas. It is unclear whether they will hit these goals, but they seem pretty confident about it. The Wii is probably the last system I want to buy (yeah I'm kind of a graphics whore, sue me), but you gotta respect that at the very least they are trying to meet demand. Sony on the other hand, I think takes sick delight in the fact people are camping out as early as Monday in order to get their hands on a PS3.

Do I want a PS3? You bet. Did I actually take a day off to try and wait in line? Yep. Is it worth all this trouble? That remains to be seen...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I'm Still Waiting....the PS3

While I have a PS3 on hold, in theory, I have not heard whether or not I will actually get one. I find that horribly unfair. I curse you video game makers and your need to create "fake" demand or whatever lame excuse you would like to use about why you will not be selling more of these machines sooner. Machines sold = money. You do like money, don't you??? All I know is that between tense football games and waiting for the PS3, not to mention a little trouble getting a Wii my fiance just might implode. I really can't handle his video game stress. So come on Sony....help a girl out....

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Re: Feel My Fury EB/Gamestop

While we all probably *hope* someone gets fired over thousands of Gears of War sitting on a dock somewhere, I doubt it will happen...if it did these companies would have improved their service a long time ago, unless there is just a long line of incompetence they must purge before they can hire smart people (or monkeys). yeah...I think that must be it...lots of incompetence.

WESTWARD!

A while back I wrote a preview for a Sandlot game called Westward! I highly recommend this game (based on the preview) and have it on good authority (from someone on the inside) that everything I took issue with in my preeview has been updated and revised for the launch on Tuesday, November 14th!! I hope that you will consider checking out this great game.

Read my preview here!

PS: While you wait for that...go pick up Viva Pinata (XBOX 360), one of the best games I've played in a while...and guys...this is a great one for girlfriends!!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I won't say I told you so

But I told you so. Please reference my previous post "I hate Gamestop."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Feel My Fury EB/Gamestop!!!

"Due to an unforeseen shipping error, you're order of ... Gears of War ... will be arriving in stores tomorrow afternoon, we apologize for the inconvenience..."

Way to go EB/Gamestop! What it probably should say is "we're sorry you decided to order your game from a storefront that is completely devoid of any customer service or even basic intelligence. We don't really care that we completely f*#%ed you. Now please bend over." I mean seriously, a think of bunch of monkeys high on ecstasy could run a more organized operation.

Anyone who had this happen, sound off on our comments, and berate EB/Gamestop while your at it. I've said it before and I'll say it again, EB & Gamestop suck, and the market is screaming for a game store that isn't terrible and actually tries to service their customers.

You can bet someone's getting fired over this. There's probably hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost revenue, because apparently all the Gears of War are sitting on some dock. Sweet.

Gears of War > Final Fantasy XII ?

Sorry to hear about your technical problems Incognito. I've been hearing the same things from some other people trying to get NWN2 to play properly, mostly that the game's graphics don't warrant the high system reqs. That's Obsidian for you, they can weave a great story but I don't think their programming is quite as good as BioWare's. I mean, have you seen the videos of Mass Effect? I can't wait for that game, though nobody has any idea when it's coming out.

Anyway, the purpose of this post was for me to state my general disbelief that Gears of War could be a better game than Final Fantasy XII, but that seems to be what the reviews are saying. 9.4 from IGN, 9.6 from Gamespot, 5 out of 5 from Gamespy?! I've played a solid 40 hours of FFXII in just over a week, I can't even imagine a game that could grab my attention more than that. Well I've got the collector's edition preordered at the local EB, so after I pick it up on my way home tonight we'll see how these two titans stack up to one another.

P.S. FFXII has officially moved to my #2 spot (out of Final Fantasies), as long as the story keeps going as strong as it has, it should be able to claim that spot from FFVI.

Why does NWN 2 run like crap?

From what I can see, NWN 2 uses pretty much the same engine as Kotor 2, and Kotor 2 ran fine on my old machine. My new computer is faster in pretty much every department, but for some reason NWN 2 runs like crap. I haven't played a game this choppy since the PC port of Halo, but at least Bungie had an excuse: they didn't make a bad PC game, only a terrible PC port of an Xbox game.

I can't afford to upgrade my computer now, but why should I have to? For the life of me, I can't figure out why I (and some others from what I'm hearing) can't run this game at any respectable quality on machines that should be able to run it smoothly

10 DAYS TO GO!!!!!!

ONLY 10 DAYS UNTIL PS3!!! I am so excited, even though I will probably not do much other than brag about having one....I'm just the girl along for the ride. :)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

35:30:06

That's how long I have played FFXII in the last 6 days...

Minding that I haven't yet finished it, this may be one of the finest FF's of all time. Definitely top five, maybe even top three.

Now I must sleep...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Lecture Topic: The Console Wars

At the end of Jimmy's post, he said "But that gets us back to a console war." For us to be able to go back to a console war, the console war would've needed to have left at some point in the past.

The console wars have always been with us, even though they currently don't resemble the console wars of the past. The days of magazine adds blatantly stating that you're a wuss if you play this console, or you need steel balls to be able to handle that console are over.

What we have now is more of a console cold war, if you will. A developer arms race instead of a nuclear one. Sony and Microsoft (mostly Microsoft) have been quietly swallowing up game development companies for years now, in an attempt to lock up as many A-list franchises as possible for their console.

However, I thinks things are about to change. The near-imminent resurgence of Nintendo as a major factor in the console market has a chance to really shake things up. The potential of the Wii will drive the development of 3rd party content exclusive to a Nintendo system, something that hasn't happened regularly in this century. All of a sudden, it won't be as easy for Microsoft and Sony (mainly Microsoft) to dominate the smaller (i.e. not EA, Sega, etc) publishers. And when that happens, don't be surprised when Sony and Microsoft resort to mud-slinging (especially Sony, since I'm pretty sure Kaz Hirai is crazy).

I can't wait.

Also, I'm happy I got to use the phrase "if you will" in this post. High-five!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Re: Hoot, Hoot the Owl

Jimmy, I totally agree with your complaints about video game commercials. One thing that always annoys me when a new video game commercial is released is how little they tend to show of actual gameplay. Take the new Marvel: Ultimate Alliance commercial for example. The entire thing consists of clips taken from the intro movie which, while cool, only serve to act as a "proof-of-concept" of the game. While such commercials might clue me in to the games existence, I'm generally gonna need a little more then the rendered intro video to decide if I'm willing to shell out 50 or 60 bucks. Maybe its just a pet peeve of mine, but its a big one.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hoot Hoot, the owl

Does everybody remember that owl from the tootsie pop commercials? You know, one, two, THREE! Well, those were the days of good commercials. Nowadays, commercials have become my favorite cliche: either really good or really bad. Election commercials are generally terrible. Maryland's Michael Steele actually has a pretty good campaign, though he's going to lose. But he does love puppies.

Game commercials consistently violate my cliche, which sounds quite lewd, but really isn't. Game commercials don't blow me away. They sometimes succeed in making me more interested in the game, but not regularly. I think that they should be more like movie commercials. Show off some of the best stuff and make the story sounds cool, even if it isn't (see Saw III). Often the commercials uses one of three systems: you've played the prequel (or a similar game) and they compare the new one to that, Maxim likes the game, it looks cool. Sure, there are other systems, but they aren't standbys.

Why don't I see more broad-based advertising. Thats a way to pull people in. It seems like most game commercials exist to sell the console because they all focus on that at the end. and consoles are advertised all over the place. According to the current norms, gamers mostly watch Adult Swim. Okay, that's entirely true, but from my experience, gamers do an exceptional job of playing while watching TV. Why not better advertising? Why not election-like smear campaigns between Gears of War and Halo and Red Steel. But that gets us back to a console war. Whatever.

Neverwinter Nights 2

Man, I completely forgot that game was coming out this week too, but I am totally tapped on money right now, and I think I have my RPG needs met for the next 40-60 hours. In Gamestop's defense I think there are two points that should be made: 1) more often than not the "order status" doesn't update fast enough, there are plenty of times I've received a game before they said they'd even shipped it, which isn't a good thing but better than it actually shipping late and 2) it is possible that the problem actually lies with Obsidian, given the number of delays for this game and their general lack of reliability, I wouldn't put it past them to have shipped it to EB/Gamestop late.

That being said, I don't particularly like EB/Gamestop, and outside of exclusives (FFXII Collector's Edition for example) or hard to acquire items I am more likely to go to Best Buy than I am to one of those stores, and frankly that is a really sad state of affairs. There was a time when EB/Gamestop had a lot of credit with gamers, and I think they've gone a long way to destroy that while Best Buy is gaining ground. I do, however, mirror Sidious' opinion that they are one of the more reliable online VG retailers, and I think that is actually where they are trying to focus. Which makes sense, it's often more convenient for the customer and it is cheaper for EB/Gamestop which means higher profits. I stand by my opinion that there is room online or in the brick and mortar market for a good videogame retailer, if you are interested in starting that up give me a ring and we'll put something together.

P.S. FFXII really is that good, it feels like it's been forever since the last "real" Final Fantasy, it's good to be back.

Re: I hate Gamestop

Incog, while I certainly share your pain at the inability of both Gamestop and EB to make good on their promises, I must say that I think things are moving in the right direction (at least online). I certainly don't know their business plan better than anyone else, but it seems to me that they are really starting to emphasize their online storefront over their brick and mortar stores (Anyone here have any luck finding a hot game at one of the actual stores on the day of its release? Not me.). Online, however, they have been really responsive to any complaints I have had against them (going so far as to discount shipping and a portion of the sales price), and for better or worse they are the most reliable online video game retailer out there. Still I know what it means to not get a AAA title the day you think you were going to. So in the words of Clinton, "I feel your pain."

I hate Gamestop

If I'm going to pre-order something online, I have one simple expectation: when the game is released, it will be shipped to me. Well, Neverwinter Nights 2 was supposed to ship October 31st, and it is now officially November 1st. Guess what? My copy of Neverwinter Nights 2 has yet to be shipped. What do they want from me? I pre-ordered this MORE THAN A MONTH AGO! I am so sick of the way Gamestop does business. You know what? I'm done with them. From this moment forward, Gamestop will not get any more of my money. I'll go to Best Buy, or Target, or Walmart, or wherever. No more pre-order crap, no more employees giving me attitude about buying the EA hockey game instead of the Sega one, and no more demo kiosks that are always turned off (what's the deal with that?).

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Hype reaching Critical Mass

Ok, ok, I know that I've already said my peace this morning, but while surfing this morning I came upon a line related to FFXII that officially pushes me over the edge. From the Gamespy review:

"The strange and colorful world of Ivalice might also be an acquired taste, and there's also what feels like a rather strong Star Wars influence (both trilogies) that could add to the worlds richness or just seem a little weird, depending on your personal take." [Emphasis my own]

Oh come on, a game that I was already looking forward to now apparently has a strong Star Wars influence...you had me at "Star Wars." See you in Ivalice.

Happy Halloween!

Well everybody, its Halloween, and I thought I would just take a moment to wish everyone well on this holiest of holidays. I mean who can't get behind a holiday devoted to costumes and candy. I'm still waiting for some hype-based stories from my compatriots here (I'm talking to you Avenger), but in the mean time, I thought I would ask the Den how they feel about the upcoming Gears of War. Obviously there is no question that the game has been at the center of a massive Microsoft marketing campaign for some time, but even though I'm excited about its release, I'm just not sure what to expect. Very little has been made about the plot, the gameplay, the music, or anything else. If anything the marketing for Gears has been based solely on how cool the visuals look. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I'm curious if anyone else in the Den shares my reservations.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Hype Machine is Rollin'

So the month of November is upon us and, as has been the case in recent years, the bulk of the AAA video game related items are being released in this 11th month of the year. This list includes, among many others: FFXII, Zelda, Gears of War, Resistance, the PS3, and the Wii. I thought as a celebration of reaching this pinnacle of video-gaming we here at the Den could celebrate by regaling each other (and our dear readers) with tales of hype both justified and not-so-much. I will get the ball rollin'.

It was the summer of 1997, I was knee high to an elephant's eye, and thoroughly excited about two things: my senior year in high school, and a little game by the name of FFVII. I was to excited for this later item, as a matter of fact, that I carried around my pre-order slip for the game in my wallet throughout the summer. By the time I handed that tiny slip of paper to the cashier in September, it had been torn, taped together, thrown into a pool, and blow-dried. Needless to say, that preorder slip and me saw a lot. Fortunately, it turned out to be well worth it, and the game went on to be known as one of the best RPGs of all time. Still, that was more luck than anything else. I have also been burned by the untamed beast that is the hype machine.

Anyone else in the Den have any stories like mine?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Best RPG of 2006?

Final Fantasy XII comes out this week, and I think the IGN review says it all: fantastic battle system, great story, and wonderfully deep characters. See you all in December, I'll be in Ivalice for the next month or so!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Work Harder, Soldier!

Teamkilling in Battlefield 2142 doesn't make any sense. First of all, even if you are forgiven for the teamkill (meaning the other person identifies it as a mistake or even their own fault) you lose 2 points. Then if you are punished that number moves to 6 points, but perhaps that is understandable. If you got punished, you are probably being a jerk, and you deserve it.

The reason this system infuriates me however, is because of the new Titan mode. In Titan mode your team is (eventually) tasked with blowing up 4 reactor consoles and finally the reactor aboard the enemy titan. The best way to do this is for the recon class to put explosives on the console and then remote detonate them. The problem is your teammates have a tendency to stand next to the consoles and try to blow them up with their pistols/rifles/machine guns. This leaves the recon with the unenviable choice of blowing it up and taking a massive point penalty, or waiting for his teammates to move so he can detonate the explosives (which often takes a VERY long time). Even if all the people realize their mistake and forgive you, you are likely to lose 2-10 points at each console, and the problem escalates as your team surrounds the reactor.

To the devs: lower the point penalties on teamkills that are forgiven. They really shouldn't have any effect and it doesn't make any sense to me why they do.

To other players: If you see a teammate sticking things to a console or reactor, get the F$#K out of the way!

On a last note, it has recently come to my attention that teams have started defending their titan hallways by positioning themselves near an ammo crate and just tossing frag grenades down the hallway continuously. I'm not sure what the counter to this is (if someone knows please tell me), but this tactic is exceedingly lame and it makes titan assualts boring and aggravating. I don't know what needs to be done (by the players or the devs), but this tactic has shifted the titan assaults from being exciting hallway shootouts to a significantly less enjoyable charges into almost certain death. Something needs to be done to shift the gameplay back where it was intended.

Hellz yeah

*bump*

Saint's Row is super tight, and the reticle makes the action much more fun. You hear that Rockstar?! People don't like locking on, and GTA's lock-on system is one of the worst. If that's what you have in store for GTA IV you better rethink it.

Now I think I'm gonna go get me a fun-bag from Freckle Bitch's...

A Simple Math Exercise

I have had my XBOX 360 for exactly two weeks. That's 336 hours. For 44 of those hours, I have been playing Saint's Row. That's 13% of my time, almost 20% of my waking hours. It's over 3 hours per day. Looking at these numbers now, even I think I have no life. It's very strange that I have become so attached to Saint's Row, since it is the most obvious GTA clone ever, and normally I would be repulsed by that fact. Even so, after I played the first couple missions, I was hooked. Here are the main reasons that Saint's Row has consumed me so:

1. The main character (almost) never speaks. This was my favorite thing about GTA 3, and the reason why I could never get into Vice City or San Andreas. In a game like this, it's much easier for me to become immersed when the main character doesn't speak for himself, so I can sort of develop my own dialogue in my head. If that makes me crazy, so be it. It also make these games crazy awesome.

2. This may be the funniest game I've ever played. The four lines your character has in the game are all hilarious. The things pedestrians say when you hit them are hilarious. The ragdoll animations as people fly ever your hood are hilarious. But most of all, the radio commercials are hilarious. Freckle Bitch's has officially replaced Wendy's in my vocabulary.

3. Customization. The isn't a car in may garage that doesn't have iridescent paint, or hydraulics, or a huge-ass spoiler, or SPINNERS!!! I can have a mustache and a soul patch, or mutton chops, or ALL THREE! I can dress in an all black suit with a fedora, or in my purple pimp's clothes. I can have a mullet, or corn rows, or any one of dozens of absolutely ridiculous hairstyles.

4. The reticle makes it a much better action game that GTA ever was. You will never lock-on to the wrong guy, because there is no lock-on. It plays like a typical third-person shooter, and this makes the on-foot missions a lot more fun to play the the GTA on-foot mission ever were.

I don't want to say that Saint's Row is better than GTA, but I will say that it is very close. Closer than I ever expected.

Ubisoft Owns Me

So I bought Splinter Cell and Dark Messiah (yeah I know I said only one, sue me) and I couldn't be happier with either purchase. I think they are both great games (admittedly I haven't gotten very far in either one, but that's what the weekend's for!). I didn't look particularly closely at the Gamespot review of Dark Messiah but I think it was way off base and I think that shows in how different it's score is from the average.

I do know that many people have been encountering technical problems and I could understand frustration in that department, but since I haven't witnessed it myself, I can't really comment on it. All I can say is the core action is really fun, and it feels like a new take on the first person shooter genre. By the way, keep in mind it is a first person shooter with RPG elements, not the other way around. I think if you go into the game expecting something like Oblivion you will be disappointed, if you go in expecting something like Half-Life with swords and sorcery, I think you will be very pleased.

Splinter Cell on the other hand is really polished, I really only have one gripe. Why on earth would you penalize the player for incapacitating guards?! Most of the fun of Splinter Cell comes from getting the drop on your enemies like some kind of techno ninja. I understand encouraging the player not to kill anyone, but just knocking them out? Even Solid Snake is allowed to do that without repercussions. I intend to play the game the way it is meant to be played, not just sneaking around trying to avoid everyone, my stealth score be damned! As a note to the devs: we like taking out guards, don't punish us for that, it's what makes the game fun.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Decisions, Decisions

If you all were gonna buy one game this week what would it be? I have a list of about 5 that are coming out this week or came out last week and I just can't decide. My nominees are...

Marvel Ultimate Alliance
Splinter Cell: Double Agent
Phantasy Star Universe
Dark Messiah of Might and Magic
Star Wars Empire at War: Forces of Corruption

I will more than likely buy one of these, but I can really only afford to buy one, and insights/comments/criticisms?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Diner Dash 3

Yes, you read that right...there is yet ANOTHER Diner Dash. And why not? This game is fun, addicting, cute, and keeps taking all my money because I want the full version. And, thankfully, I have not seen Playfirst try to pass off its game in video game stores and actually worth buying in a box. Does that bother anyone else? Seriously. Shockwave games shouldn't be sold on a shelf. Aside from that, I just played the firsrt 5 seconds of Diner Dash and realized that the WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW that there is a new diner dash. So, I am posting it here. And if the one person who reads this blog would tell someone else eventually the word would know....you know, that whole 6 degrees thing. Find Diner Dash at: http://www.playfirst.com/game/dinerdashfloonthego

Thursday, October 19, 2006

TORIBASH

Okay, so I've spent a little time with this bizarre and remarkably captivating "game". I love it. If you've ever used a program such a Interactive Physics and made ridiculous things happen, this is for you. Toribash lets me do a few things, like contract or extent my glute (yes, the butt muscle). I choose to extend and nail the other fighter. Making the other guy lose an appendage is very fulfilling. There is a problem that I can't seem to stay standing, so I've got idiots rolling around on the ground flailing, but I enjoy some good flailing. I'd like to see some who knows what they're doing make sweet things happen. Its a great boredom stopper without you needing to get to invested. It's be a great portable game. There could be a sweet GUI and you could sit on the subway or even in Subway and design a fighter. It's wonderful. Of course it could be 100 times better, but that doesn't mean it isn't superb already.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Ah, yes

I will look if I have time. I hope the demo has cool capabilitites cause I'm not paying money for that. But I'm pretty stoked you found that. That's the kind of game that I'd like to make. Okay, maybe not that game exactly, but something that unique and out there. The world needs more ridiculous people making such games because those are the games that make me want to keep playing. Remember The Incredible Machine? That was a sweet game. And out there. Imagine a truly updated version of that...

It's a start

Jimmy, I'd like to introduce to to Toribash. I found it last week whilst surfing the interweb. Let me know if it's awesome.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Death by Dancing

Dance, Dance, why isn't there a dancing fighting game.
Fighting games are excellent. And there are a few good ones out there. But there are a few things I'd like out of next-gen fighting games. First, I want to create moves. Totally sweet moves. Maybe I should be able to create a fighter. And not the "WWE" create-a-fighter. I mean really create a bizarre, Voldo like fighter. That would be amazing. And it would take hours. And it would be great.
Second, I want there to be balance. That's a common request, but what I mean is that there should be a better feeling of being the fighter and reactions. Maybe you don't need the greatest move to counter, you just have to counter in the perfect place. I just want more vulnerability and more skill. That would lead itself to better balance. Not just a fight between who knows the moves the best.
And I'd like there to be a dance off. I'm not kidding. There's going to be a ballroom dancing game. Why not put it in as a bizarre dancing mini-game?

NO, there is NOTHING I would like to preorder!

When did preordering become some sort of requirement? I know the game stores have been pushing them for some time now because it helps them decide on ordering numbers and it all but guarantees them a sale. I know they are useful for determining who should get an item when the supply is extremely limited. But when did they become mandatory?

I am tired of going to EB and Gamestop looking for a game, having them ask me if I preordered it, then when I say no, looking it me like I am some sort of crazy person. The last time I checked, these stores do in fact exist in order to sell videogames right? I mean this is like a grocery clerk asking if you faxed in your grocery list a few days ahead of schedule so they could be sure to buy eggs. It's just ridiculous.

These stores exist so you can walk in and buy games, not as some sort of pickup point. I mean, if I know I am going to want a game before it ships I'll buy it online and then they can ship it right to me (and back when you could avoid taxes it was a sweet deal too). I know that the stores are just trying to cut costs but I think that as a business decision this is a bad one. I know plenty of gamers that just stop by a store on their way home from work looking for something they know came out and with the EB/Gamestop stocking less and Best Buy stocking more I think its clear where the gamers are tending to go (and if they go to Best Buy they can also pick up the newest season of Scrubs or an HDTV or something).

If EB/Gamestop continues along this route of barely stocking more than their preorders it's not long until they do away with the stores entirely and just sell directly from the internet. And I'm not saying that's a bad idea, get rid of the overhead from stores and avoid taxes for your customers, then pass them some of the savings in sweet deals on shipping and you might make a killing, it worked for Egghead! Anyway, preorders suck and getting hassled about them sucks double, if I'm gonna preorder something I don't need you to ask me everytime I call, visit the website, enter the store, etc.

Monday, October 16, 2006

In response to Incognito

Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha
HA-HA-HA-HA-HA

Now that that's done with...Saint's Row and Dead Rising are really good, I don't think you'll be disappointed there (I feel that Dead Rising especially up your alley), and it sounds like you got a great deal. I think several of us own 360's so you'll have to let us know your Gamertag so we can battle it out online.

In other news: They closed Clover studios?! Okami is one of the best games this year! It supremely combines the fun and adventure of the Zelda games in an innovative, new IP. Notice to the execs at the big game companies: pick these guys up, they know what they're doing!

Speaking of companies that know what they are doing, anyone who has a PS2 and at least a passing interest in Star Trek should give a shot to Star Trek: Encounters. It's retails for $15 and it is actually really fun. The ships move around a little too fast (more Starfleet Academy than Starfleet Command), but the core gameplay is solid and it has missions covering all the different Star Trek eras. It's easily a 7.5 or an 8.0 for only $15, that's a great deal!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Of Gnomes and other things

I like to play lots of what the industry calls "casual games." You can download them, play them, and you don't have to worry about finding a save point. At the moment I recommend two great games for casual gamers....

Hammerhead which you can find at www.shockwave.com. It's basically whack-a-mole, except with gnomes (that's right...gnomes) and it's intoxicatingly fun. Is it complex and involved? No. Is it perfect for playing between work and dinner? Yes.

Luck Charm Deluxe, which is also at www.shockwave.com. It's a great twist on the "connect three" puzzle games. Instead of connecting three you can connect as many as possible of the same kind of shape. It's a great puzzle game. I find it more mentally challenging than Bejewelled. So ditch Bejewelled and go try out Luck Charm Deluxe.

Enjoy!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Literally 2 seconds later

So, also on Evil Avatar I read that Capcom has closed Clover Studios, the guys who made Okami. Damn you, Capcom. DAMN YOOOOOOUUUUU!!! Hopefully these guys will form another company and keep making awesome games, like, I dunno, Okami 2. Good luck guys.

Why do I feel so dirty?

So, it happened. I bought a 360. Once Avenger stops laughing maniacally I'll continue...

Any time now...

OK. So, I missed that awesome Fry's deal last week with the 360, Saints Row, Dead Rising, and Test Drive: Unlimited for something like $360, which is approximately a $200 discount. However, what do I find today as I'm cruising Evil Avatar between classes? I find that Fry's is now offering the same bundle for $450. Not quite as awesome, but $100+ discount is nothing to sneeze at. So I bought it, unfortunately with tax (damn you Fry's for having a store in Ohio!). Still, a premium 360 with 3 games (pretty good games from what I hear) for under $500 including shipping is fantastic.

For some reason, though, I feel really dirty.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Evolution vs. Revolution

With Battlefield 2142 soon to arrive on store shelves it seems to have brought up the common debate of evolution vs. revolution in game development, and the ultimate question of whether a game is different enough from its predecessor to warrant a purchase. It's unclear what the answer is for Battlefield 2142 and so you can be sure you'll find gamers arguing for both sides on just about every BF2142 message board. I personally think that DiCE and EA know exactly what it is they are trying to achieve.

If you are familiar with the Total War series (Shogun: Total War, Medieval: Total War, Rome: Total War, and soon Medieval II) then you probably know that they are wildly successful and critically acclaimed by more than just strategy gamers. The Creative Assembly (the makers of the Total War games) attributes a lot of their success to their cycle of evolution, revolution. Shogun was a revolution as it was the first entry in the series and really a unique experience. Medieval was an evolution that improved that gameplay, but kept most of the core engine and mechanics the same. Rome was another revolution that completely redesigned the engine and the mechanics of how the overall game functioned.

This kind of cycle allows the developer to come up with innovative new ideas while at the same time refining previous innovations to be more functional, more balanced, and above all more fun. It is my opinion that this is what EA is trying to achieve with the BF series. BF1942 wasn't the first game of its type, but it took innovative ideas from a number of other games and managed to meld them together into something that was truly unique. BF: Vietnam evolved the gameplay somewhat (mostly with vehicles) but remained mostly the same. BF2 was a clear reinvention of the franchise, and BF2142 is the natural evolution of that game.

Does that mean BF2142 is worth your hard earned $49.99? Well that depends on your own feelings, most of all do you like BF2 (which I do) and do you like the new semi-futuristic setting (which I do)? Additional changes which may be important include: a more fully-featured squad mechanism, a new gameplay mode (Titan mode), and supposedly a much better frontend network (if you've played BF2 you know what a pain it can be to connect to a game sometimes). As for me, my inclination is to believe I will buy BF2142 and enjoy BF2142 (I love BF2 and I love mechs), but you can be sure I will be downloading the demo to be sure of myself.

What I Learned When I Preorderd a PS3

Yesterday morning I found myself in line with 5 other people at 9 a.m. waiting outside an E.B. to preorder the PS3. I think it’s because I have the word “SUCKER” written on my forehead. I was awakened by a request from my fiancĂ© to please go preorder this for him because he had to go to work. When I got there I found 5 people already in line, some who arrived at an undisclosed time to be sure they were first in line. They were all paying in cash so there were no credit card problems with their preorder!

Why I did it:

Some people would say I’m crazy. In fact, the first guy in line said, “Please tell me your boyfriend didn’t send you over here to preorder this for him.” They couldn’t believe that I would do such a thing (and by 10 a.m. when my toes were very cold, I couldn’t either).

I did it not because I swapped my line standing for 3 days of shopping or because I needed to make up for missing a birthday. I did it only a little to prevent standing in line in front of a Best Buy for 12 hours on November 17th. I really did it because I understand the nature of hobbies. They can be obsessive, time-consuming, and therapeutic. I don’t question his and he doesn’t question mine.

I’m glad I did because I learned a lot in that 45 minutes where we bonded over video games and the dedicated, hard core gamers swapped stories, information, and the anticipation they felt for the coming PS3.

What I learned in line (all purely anecdotal):

Not everyone buys every system. In my house we own one of everything. It’s a hobby, so I understand the need to have the newest, best, coolest, systems ever. So hearing from these guys that they only wanted one system was a little surprising. Only one of the 5 planned on purchasing the Wii.

The Wii is met with skepticism. Most of the guys were interested in the Wii’s new controller technology, but didn’t know enough to trust it yet. After it comes out and they’ll be able to play it they might get one, but don’t count on it. They simply aren’t sure and haven’t heard enough good things about the system to make it worth their while.

People do actually trade in games. Like I said, we have one of everything at my house. I’m pretty sure there’s still a dreamcast and N64 floating around. “Trade In” is a no no at my house. I thought for sure that these hard core gamers who stood in the cold just to preorder a system would never part with games or systems. Apparently it’s more popular than I thought. The 5 guys in line in front of me were more than willing to give up games and even whole systems for the latest greatest technology. They all said they have traded in and will trade in games.

The most popular preorder games in our little group were Resistance and Rainbow Six: Vegas.

Show up early! Do I really need to tell you this? Showing up at 10am for a store that opens at 10am to preorder a system at 10am is not smart planning. It was too bad for the 3 people in line after me. And more importantly, too bad for the person who came at 9:15 and then left because he didn't think he would get one...but he would have.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The End

I'll end this FF XII talk in the traditional internet fashion: by being a douchebag.

I have no need for a game that can play itself, and I have no desire to argue with idiots. Good day to you, sir.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

RPGs: Story vs. Gameplay

First of all, let us establish it is j00 not joo, those are zeroes (though it is admitedly hard to tell with this font).

Secondly, I think that Storyline and Gameplay are factors that can both affect the game equally. For example, Skies of Arcadia, that game has a sweet story, but probably one of the most boring battle systems known to man (though the ship-to-ship fighting is kinda of fun). That battle system is slow, clumsy, and ugly, but it didn't detract too much from what ended up being a pretty good game because the story was solid. Now, on the other hand look at the Grandia series. Those stories suck...all of them. However, that battle system is sweet, and can often carry the game to its usually anticlimactic conclusion because your characters and their enemies keep getting new abilities that make the battles fun and dynamic and usually pretty fun to watch.

I think this rule ends up being true for pretty much all genres and it's the rare game that gets them both right that is truly memorable: Star Control II, Chrono Trigger, Starcraft, etc. At the end of the day I think most RPGs are carried by their stories, but they don't have to be and there are plenty of examples to prove it.

Re: FFXII pwns joo

Other than wanting to outlaw "leet" speek from this blog for eternity, the FFXII posts bring up an interesting question: Is it the battles or the stories which truly make or break an RPG? I think that we know already where my allegiances lie, but I am curious about this. I don't think there has ever been an RPG I have bought specifically for the battle system. Instead, like a novel, I usually buy RPGs based on their premise alone. Of course if the battle system is truly bad (I'm thinking something like .Hack) then I will tolerate it if the story is interesting. On the other hand I do think it is the case that the story in such a game has to be all that more compelling to keep my interest. So maybe the battle systems influence me more than I know. Does anyone else in The Den have any thoughts on this?

No Implants Please!

While the idea of controlling a game with my mind IS exciting, I don't think I want anyone putting crap in my brain, least of all the videogame companies. Well, actually least of all the government, but then the videogame companies. I mean what happens if your brain chip gets a virus?

Short Answer? You'd probably die.

Do you play games when you're sick?

I am at home sick today. So sick that I want to curl up under the covers and not move. It is moments like these that make me wish I could control games with my mind. I could be comfy and warm under fuzzy blankets, but still be having fun.

Which begs the question...if you could control games with your mind by letting game companies put an implant in your brain, would you let them???

And, while I'm musing....how come Sims get tired, hungry, and depressed, but not sick? Interesting. That would be a great new game. Sims 911!!!

I'm going to stop taking benadryl before my posts get any weirder.

FF XII pwns j00

Considering I'm pretty sure that Incognito has played almost every Final Fantasy that has been released I can't decide if he's trying to bait me or if that's his real opinion. Either way I plan to run headlong into this particular war because I love the direction of the new battle system, and even if it may not be completely innovative (though I think it mostly is) it is probably one of the largest departures for the FF franchise, and that's probably what disappoints Incognito (a true ATB purist) the most.

Most importantly, let's talk about the gambit system, which the .hack and Star Ocean series can't make any claim to. The gambit system allows you to specifically tailor the AI scripts for your characters, so you can make them do exactly what you want, and they can be changed on the fly to fit the situation. There's no more complaining about the bad AI and limited scripts available in games like .hack, Star Ocean, or even the blessed Kingdom Hearts. You write the scripts yourself and can constantly adjust them to suit your needs. Combine that with the newly designed license system for leveling up and tailoring characters to your party and you have perhaps the most customizable characters ever to appear in a Final Fantasy game. These two innovations in and of themselves should be enough to warrant a favorable comparison to the other games previously mentioned.

Add in the fact that this could also be one of the best Final Fantasy storylines ever written (by the same guy who wrote Final Fantasy Tactics), and I don't think I'm exaggerating to say I couldn't be more excited about FF XII's imminent release.

EA and Reviews

Now, I don't want to start the conspiracy theorists whispering, but did anyone notice that despite the fact that NBA 2k7 and NBA Live were released on the same (or very near the same) day last week, NBA Live was not reviewed until Monday while 2k7 was reviewed the day it came out. What makes this even more interesting is that (going by the reviews) NBA 2k7 is a much better game (8 range). Why would the major sites refuse to review Live until a week after it had released? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they were planing to give the games 6s. Is there something there or am I just crazy?

Re: In a Word No

Alright Incog, let's keep it clean now. Whether or not the FF XII battle system is good or not (and I happen to share some of your reservations about the same), every word from reviewers and previewers suggests that the story is the best since FF VII. If that is true, then the case for FFXII has already been made. After all, no one really plays RPGs for the battle system, they play them for the story. But you can feel free to disagree if you like.

In a word...no

There are so many things that were just said that sicken me. What more could I ask for? For starters, I could ask for a game that doesn't suck. Everyone who writes about the battle system keeps telling me how groundbreaking it is, which would be true if the .hack and Star Ocean games didn't exist. Pardon my French, but I wouldn't go Midnight Madness if they were giving out handjobs. However, I will restrain myself from ranting right now, since it is late and I am tired. LET THE FLAME WAR BEGIN!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

FF XII: Midnight Madness

Anyone else planning on going to the Midnight release of Final Fantasy XII? I guess it's supposed to be on Halloween which is guaranteed to be interesting and I don't think I've been this excited for a Final Fantasy since VII. Don't get me wrong, they're all quite good, but I love the writer, I love the setting, and I really like the battle system (from what I played on the DQ8 demo disk). Not to mention, SKY PIRATES! I mean, comon, what more could you ask for?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Incognito...I am your father...

That's right...give in to the dark side...Halo 3...Gears of War...Mistwalker...

Friday, September 29, 2006

My Worst Fear Is...

Falling. However, that's not the point of this post. The point is that the fates have conspired against me, and I will end up spending large amounts of my hard-earned dollars buying all three next-gen consoles, and as usual, it's all Microsoft's fault.

I mean, how badly to you have to fail in Japan to give up on the region. Apparently, you have to fail really, really badly, since Microsoft just won't let it go. They're are actually trying to release games that Japanese gamers want to buy, particularly RPGs. Eternal Sonata (or Trusty Bell: Chopin's Dream if you're Japanese) and Lost Odyssey are the first of what I'm sure will be many RPGs on their way to the console. Add to that the fact that SquareEnix recently announced that they plan to spread the love around to all the next-gen consoles, eventually Microsoft will have enough must-own titles for me (and maybe some Japanese people,too) that I'll have to swallow my pride and actually buy a 360.

So, when Lost Odyssey comes out I will most likely buy a 360, since it has ties to the Shadow Hearts team. Simply because of that, if it is any good at all, and I mean if it is even playable, I will almost certainly buy it.

Just to round this post out and cover all the bases:
PS3: Kingdom Hearts 3 is an inevitability for this system. Please don't tell Square that I would be willing to buy a $500+ system to play this game alone.
Wii: Super Mario Galaxy. If this is half as good as Super Mario 64 (which it will be), it's worth $250 by itself.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Even I want to play hockey

Let me say that Incognito's post about NHL2007 makes ME want to play it and since my last attempt at video game hockey was in the fall of 1999, that's saying a lot. I tried to play NHL 98 and found that I had to continually chanted the controls to myself, outloud, I might add, so that I could try to remember which button shoots and which button fakes. I looked like an idiot.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The blinding love of LEGO

You know, I am one of those guys that has fully embraced the so-called "micro transactions" regularly put on offer in the Xbox Live Marketplace, but despite any number of great purchases, I do occassionaly get burned. The latest such occurence would seem to be the direct result of my blinding love of Lego Star Wars. To cut a long story short...don't buy this theme. The main pictures are bad, they are low-res, and the pattern that is applied to the sub-menu makes the options there darn near unreadable. Its a pity that something as great as little plastic people acting out a 30 year old space opera can't get a little more respect.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Bringing it Home: Sadness

I realize this is old news, but are there any gamers out there that are as bummed out by the end of E3 as I am? I was downloading the "Bringing It Home" promotional materials for TGS on Xbox Live, and while I am glad to see that there are preview materials available for the games coming out this season, it is clear that TGS isn't near the wonderful spectacle that E3 was.

The really unfortunate part of this whole thing, is that the reason E3 was even ended was because big companies were spending ridiculous amounts of money on insane promotions (e.g. Navy Seals rappelling in from the roof) for their games, but littler companies were getting more attention because their games were better, and the big companies didn't like that one bit. To be clear, I am all for sticking up for the "little guy," but don't confuse me with some kind of anti-corporation anarchist, some of my favorite games were and are produced by the industry's larger corporations. What irritates me is that E3 was a utopia of gaming meritocracy, and even though some companies might try to confuse the audience with flashing lights or "booth babes" the gamers knew that it was all about the games, that's what people were there to see, and in that way E3 represented the industry: "it's all about the games."

It isn't about who you have working for you (prolific names like Shigeru Miyamoto, Hironobu Sakaguchi, and Hideo Kojima aside), it isn't about how much money you have, it isn't about where you are located, it's all about the games. Gaming is one of the fastest growing industries because it has some of the fewest barriers to entry, all you really need is a good idea and some programming knowhow and you can make a game. The hardest thing is trying to get your game noticed and E3 was THE way to do that, because if you're game was good or exciting or innovative, people would start talking and with basically every member of the gaming press at the event you could be guaranteed to get some positive publicity and maybe even a chance at continuing coverage.

So what message does closing the doors to E3 send? It's basically a slap in the face to everything the gaming industry was once based on, by companies that only got where they are because the barriers to entry that they themselves create didn't exist when they first started. I mean what was EA's first piece of software? A pinball construction set? Nintendo was originally a playing card manufacturer for god's sake!

At this point, I realize I am no longer sad about the end of E3, I am angry. Heck, part of the reason this website even exists was to try and get press passes to E3, because it was like a Mecca for gamers. Going there would have been like a pilgrimage for gamers, and for those among us with aspirations to actually make games it would have been THE opportunity to learn, to network, and to succeed. Sadly, that opportunity no longer exists, but who knows, maybe someone else will be brave enough to pick up the mantle of E3, and if they do I can promise you, I'll be the first in line to sign up. Until then, I guess TGS and the other pale shadows of E3 will have to do.

Re: Great Moments in Video Game Hockey History

nice...

I've been spending most of my time lately playing Okami and Saint's Row but I don't think I have any awesome play-by-plays for them. I'll try to think of something...

Great Moments in Video Game Hockey History

I just experienced one of my finest video game hockey moments ever, and I'd like to share it with you via a play-by-play:

"Time winding down here in overtime with the Kings and Canucks tied at 2. The Kings only have time for one more push. Visnovsky digs it out of the corner and sends it up to Avery. Avery sends it along to Cammalleri. Cammalleri brings it across the blue line, tries the one timer to Avery! He missed high and wide. The puck is off the glass, and Cammalleri is fighting for it in the corner. He's got control of it! Only 5 seconds left! He has no angle! Wait, he finds Rob Blake wide open at the point! 2 seconds left! Blake winds up! He shoots! HE SCOOOOOOOOORRRRRRESSS!!!!!! WITH NO TIME ON THE CLOCK! HE BEAT LUONGO TO THE STICK SIDE! I DON'T BELIEVE IT! THE KINGS WIN! THE KINGS WIN! Welcome back Rob Blake!"

There is no way I can top that, so I think I'm done for tonight. Whew!

Friday, September 15, 2006

omg hockey iz h3r3!!!!!!!111

I apologize in advance for the length of this post.

First, on the topic of ninjas: Tenchu RPG. How awesome would that be? I don't want an action RPG, that's too obvious. I want a strategy RPG where your movements happen at the same time as the guards/targets/etc. (much like Vandal Hearts 2). That way you always need to be one step ahead of everyone.

Anyways, I just wrapped up by first game of NHL '07. (Aside #1: The clerk at Gamestop gave me some serious attitude when I asked for this. I said, "can I get NHL 2007 for PS2?" So he says "do you want 2k7, or the other one?" "The EA one." "The EA one sucks. I don't like how they changed the shooting." It never ceases to amaze me the level of people that Gamestop will employ.) My first impression, the manual is nine pages. Nine! That includes all the credits and legal stuff. For a game that features almost entirely new play mechanics, that's pretty weak.

I'll give the good things first:
1. I'm glad we finally have a hockey game that utilizes both joysticks. It's about time.
2. When you are in the offensive zone, you deke with the left stick. No other buttons are involved. It's marvelous in its simplicity.
3. Passing with the right stick is super smooth.
4. It feels like hockey. It's hard to describe, but this game has a much better flow than the recent Sega games.
5. It's only $30 for the PS2 version.

And now the bad:
1. The best way to describe the player switching on defense is "drunk."
2. The control scheme is strange. Several times I went to change players and I did a spin deke instead, since they are both on the X button. Also I kept hitting R2 for speed burst, only to wind up to shoot. Would a tutorial have killed them?
3. The defensive learning curve is crazy steep. Even on "easy" I gave up 2 goals within minutes.
4. I lost 4-3 in a shootout. (Aside #2: This game really hates the Flyers. Even with Keith Primeau they are ranked an overall 84. As a point of reference, the Capitals are an 82.) At least I got to play a shootout.
5. Passing with the right stick does not allow you to make "precise passes easier than ever before," as the manual states. If fact, it's the same as passing in any other game, only you don't have to press a button. The puck usually goes the the player in the general direction you pressed.

Well, that's enough for now. Maybe I'll write a real review after I get some more games and the dynasty mode under my belt.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Wheeeee!

I don't think Sony is going to die. No way. But I still think that Nintendo has done quite a good job in this round of consoles.

As any marketing or business development book will tell you, once a product type reaches a certain level, the products converge to fit the desires of the users. Other than a few games, the Gamecube was not what it needed to be. Without Nintendo's extreme level of customer loyalty there may have never been a Wii, but they built an amazing fan base.

Now they've done the one thing that consumer's base decisions on at this product stage - differentiation. They have truly differentiated themselves.

The next round of consoles, either 4 years down the line of 10 years down the line, depending on whether we believe Microsoft or Sony more, will likely see more differences. The other consoles with adopt Nintendo's strategy and pick up the motion sensing abilities (oh wait - it'll be there within this round. Can you say peripherals and firmware updates?).

$250 is a pretty sweet price too.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Jade Empire... HA!

Jade Empire is in no more a "ninja rpg" than Oregon Trail is an fps. The main character of JE, totally not a ninja. Just cause you do martial arts does not make you a ninja (see samurai). Nor does being Asian make you a ninja (see Hideki Matsui, casue Ichiro is a ninja). Racist.

I want real ninjas!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Games that should be Movies

As the resident girl-gamer I don't necessarily keep up with all the great new games that are coming out next...

I do, however, search through gamers' DVD piles to find interesting things to watch and let me tell you...it is NOT FUN to find what looks like a great movie with an interesting title that ends up BEING A GAME INSTEAD!

So, here are 3 games I would like to see as movies, based solely on their titles:

Crimson Skies: Starring Tom Cruise and Sean Connery. Top Gun meets Crimson Tide in this action thriller with skidoos and super jets. No Goose to speak of, but maybe George Clooney could play sidekick nicknamed duck.

Killer 7: A movie starring Johnny Depp where seven murders take place involving 7 clues, and 7 detectives head out to find the 7th killer. Is Depp the murderer or the detective? You decide.

Project Eden: Starring Ewan McGregor. Some sort of government conspiracy about genetics embroils our hero in non-stop action (oh yeah, and there's some sort of secret plot and love interest too).

This is a warning to all you women out there...keep the games and DVDs separate or you will be very disappointed.

PS: Do penguins really live in dens? Don't they just huddle in groups? I've seen March of the Penguins...I know what happens out there....or do Vampire Penguins live in dens?

Re: Ninjas!

Didn't Bioware make a Ninja RPG? I think it was called Jade Empire.

Oh, and Mass Effect is going to be awesome. I wholly trust Bioware and Pandemic individually so working together they should be even better, right? Wait, where I have I heard this arguement before? Oh right...the Square Enix merger that managed to substantially reduce the output of both companies (with all due respect to Dragon Quest 8 and Kingdom Hearts 2).

Anyway, I'm pretty sure Final Fantasy XII is going to be sweet (I mean who doesn't love sky pirates) and Mass Effect will be similar in sweetness, it is just a question of how long it takes to actually come out.

Oh, and I forgot about Final Fantasy XII in my previous post. Man, this really is going to be a great year for games!

The Best Season Yet?

I love the fall for one reason and one reason only. No it's not the weather or the way colors of the leaves change. It's the time for new videogames and in the case of this fall, new systems. In the next three months (hell, the next three weeks) there is so much to be excited for if you are a gamer. The PS3 and the Wii will be launching this season, in addition to triple-A second generation 360 titles (mmmmm....Gears of War). In addition the, PC will soon be seeing some sweet titles such as Company of Heroes next week and Neverwinter Nights 2 in early October. I'm sure there are plenty of titles I'm not thinking about (right now I am kind of obsessed with Company of Heroes since I love Relic and I love RTS's) but suffice it to say it looks like a great year to be a gamer.

In addition, I want to say that this was one of the better summers I can remember, at least if you owned an Xbox 360. Dead Rising, Prey, Saint's Row, Enchanted Arms, and Chromehounds all have offered fun and varied experiences on Microsoft's new console. While this list isn't particularly long, in the summer it's amazing to get even one or two great games, so getting five on a relatively new console seems unprecedented. I remember when the summer was a true dead zone for games (much like TV) and you'd be lucky to find an 8.0 in the bunch. It's good to see some publishers promoting summer releases. That being said, I think there's a lot of money to be made by a company that decides to move its releases to the summer, and take advantage of the low level of competition and high number of gamers thirsty for a new game during the summer drought. It just doesn't make sense to me why someone, maybe even a smaller company wouldn't want to fill that void. Anyway, it's something we won't have to worry about for quite some time, so for now we can just look forward to the panoply of games that are the fall season.