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Topics - jasonditz

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General Gaming / Better second console?
« on: October 23, 2007, 04:08:13 AM »
So last week, my well worn 19" Magnavox CRT television finally bit the dust, and I replaced it with a 32" Element FLX-3210. The room its in is too crowded to really put the Wii in, so right now I've got my Playstation2 hooked up through one of the components. Its crystal clear that way, but at the same time the combination of a much bigger screen and a much clearer hookup makes the PS2 look really obsolete. So sometime in the next few weeks, I'm inclined to get one of the newer consoles so I can check it out in HD. Here's my quandry.

I'm considering four bundles:

1. The $400 PS3 40 GB bundle that comes with Spiderman blu-ray. Also get 5 blu-rays by mail, and while I'd probably watch them once or twice just to see the HD, none of them is really my type of movie.

2. The $500 PS3 80 GB bundle that comes with MotorStorm. Not really my type of game, either, but I'd probably play a game more than I'd watch a movie, and the 40 GB difference might come in handy in the long run. Likewise comes with the 5 blu-rays like 1.

3. The $350 Xbox 360 20 GB bundle with Forza2 and Marvel UA

4. The $450 Xbox 360 120 GB elite with Forza2 and Marvel UA.

Here's what I've noticed so far.

1. There is some question whether my TV supports HDCP over the HDMI. The manual doesn't say, nor does the manufacturer's website. This would make option 1 and 2 potentially unusable through HDMI, though since the TV  is 720p/1080i anyhow, the different between this and component may be trivial.

2. Hookups: Options 1 and 2 only come with composite cables, requiring an added purchase. 3 comes with composite and component, and 4 actually comes with the HDMI cable.

3. PS3s come with Blu-Ray... and that's a big plus (though the free ones don't look too great). OTOH, the HD-DVD attachment for the Xbox 360 seems to go on sale fairly often, and might be just as good an option.

and then there's the thing that really matters... games:

My first purchase for either system will be Oblivion GOTY. I've heard it looks better on a PS3. At the same time, that's about the only PS3 game that really interests me right now, whereas the Xbox 360 has several other games I'd love to get (particularly PC games that never came out for the Mac). Also, I'm really interested in Catan off Xbox Live.

So what do you guys think? Which will make a better second console alongside the Wii? Do I go Wii60, or PSWii? Is it stupid that I'm still considering the PS3 even though there's no exclusive content yet I really want?

Just got this in an email today... I haven't posted in awhile so I apologize in advance if its already been discussed.

Pretty nice graphics for a flash app, and the inclusion of Nintendo mascots was a nice touch.  

Nintendo Gaming / - Vying for Wii Pie
« on: February 06, 2007, 06:11:24 AM »

Nintendo Gaming / Holy Sunlight, batman
« on: February 02, 2007, 07:30:05 AM »
I know they mentioned interference from sunlight before (and its in the manual), but it had totally slipped my mind.

It's a pretty bright day out (compounded by the reflected light off all the snow in the back yard), and even with the curtains closed there's a fair amount of sunlight coming into the back room where my Wii is. And for the first time, I see what they mean.

Even less than 5 feet from the TV, the Wiimote is absolutely flakey... I was attempting to play Dragonball Z, but the reticule keeps jerking around all crazy (and for someone with an inherited essential tremor condition, that's saying a lot). When the sun briefly went behind the clouds the Wiimote went back to functioning perfectly. With the sun out a "move closer to your TV" message kept appearing on the screen, so even though DBZ's reticule isn't vital it did make gameplay pretty much impossible. Guess I'll have to wait a couple hours for the sun to go down.

How common is this? It's an unusually bright day, and I played yesterday afternoon with absolutely no ill-effects. Is this just a once-in-a-great-while problem that occurs on crazy bright afternoons, or should I be shopping for some darker curtains?

Nintendo Gaming / NBA Live 07?
« on: December 21, 2006, 10:49:09 AM »
EB lists NBA Live 07 for the Wii as coming out 3/1/07. Yet I've seen no previews or anything of the game.

While I know the Live series has been very forgetable the past few years I'm just fascinated to see how they Wii-ify professional basketball. It's quite a challenge, as I see it, perhaps moreso than Madden (which from what I've seen was done quite well), but if they pull it off they might have a truly amazing title on their hands.

Nintendo Gaming / Kind of funny antecdote
« on: November 27, 2006, 03:25:03 PM »
OK, so we're always talking about Sony fanboys or Microsoft fanboys working at retail gaming locations... the guy who tells mom that her son couldn't possibly want a Nintendo system or that Sony's system is the absolute best thing since sliced bread. Or badmouthing the DS and hyping UMD movies on the PSP. Well, I was at Best Buy this evening and met that rare breed: The Nintendo fanboy sales-rep.

I mean, I'm a guy who spends his time posting on Nintendo fan sites, and this guy was a zealot to a level that was almost making me a little uncomfortable. Bad-mouthing the PS3 (and doing his silly "I'm a Sony fanboy, look at my $600 Blu-Ray player with no decent games" dance), and talking about how ungodly great the Wii is, and how it's in fact so great that they dare not even put a demo system out for people to try because they'd steal the Wiimotes. And how great Zelda is, and how great Miyamoto is, and how he's "never let me down yet" etc, etc.

I mean, not to knock the guy, he was very knowledgable about the Wii and everything (fat lot of good that does when they're sold out). I just thought it was funny, because for the last 5 years I've been buying Gamecube (and N64 before that) games and listening to sales reps who ask if I've "ever considered an Xbox", and now there's finally a rep touting the Nintendo system, and I don't even have one, and they're sold out.

General Gaming / God... hand?
« on: October 08, 2006, 04:12:42 PM »
Capcom is quietly releasing a Beat 'Em Up game called God Hand for the PS2 this week. Director of RE4, Producer of Phoenix Wright, same division that brought us Okami... it's certainly an impressive pedigree.

Nintendo Gaming / Marvel: TCG
« on: May 12, 2006, 12:41:52 PM »
Anyone spot any impressions for this game? I know the DS version was supposed to be at E3, but with a hundred or so other titles it seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle.

I've always been more of a DC man myself, but being a sucker for all things TCG, and this being the first Wifi enabled game of its type... I'm definitely interested.

Nintendo Gaming / Rumor: Wii launch price $249, VC details
« on: May 10, 2006, 06:37:31 PM »
4 Color Rebellion has an article about someone who claims to have the next issue of EGM, and that issue reveals some stuff that we didn't hear at the press conference. Sounds a little fishy to me, or at least dubious, but here it is:

$249 launch price
VC games will be "A few dollars for NES, $5 for SNES, $10 for N64"
VC games will support progressive scan, but won't have graphical upgrades.
TG16 VC games will be first party only, at least at launch.

Again, I have to doubt the validity of this source, but the info is perfectly plausible. I suppose we'll know for sure when the next EGM hits. Seems a bit pricey for those VC games... though it's still cheap when compared to Sony's download fees for added content. There are some games I probably would eschew at these prices though.

Nintendo Gaming / Super Smash Bros. Brawl
« on: May 10, 2006, 05:03:28 PM »
Both Kotaku and IGN confirm a secret unveiling of the SSB Wii title.

Oh... and both of them say Solid Snake is in the game. WTF?!

Nintendo Gaming / It's Happening: Phoenix Wright 2!
« on: May 09, 2006, 01:19:14 PM »
This must be what pure joy tastes like.

According to Nintendo's list... the game will be released in October of this year!

General Gaming / A Tale of Two Fight Nights
« on: May 05, 2006, 03:30:01 PM »
I was in need of a game or something to do over the weeked, so I headed to Best Buy. While I was there, I sampled the new Fight Night game from EA, on both the Xbox 360 and the PS2. Interesting that they chose it as the demo game on both systems. I suppose it's better than the popular Gamecube demo "No disc inserted" that they've had for the past 6 months.

It was the first time I'd really spent with a 360... I saw a video running on one before at Target, but how much can you really tell from that? The difference between the two was quite stunning. The PS2 version was visually uninspired. Frankly I think I'd prefer the 2D sprites of a game like Evander Holyfield's "Real Deal" Boxing for the Sega Genesis to the boxy 3D models the PS2 is capable of. The 360 version was very impressive. I mean, the level of detail was just staggering when compared to the PS2.

But... and there is a but... the fight lasted a little over a round. Most of the first round was spent gawking at the visuals, but as it wore on, it was clear it was getting real old real quick.

And the PS2 version didn't "play" any worse. Sure, it looks like sheer hell, but if this was a really compelling game, the graphics wouldn't have really gotten in the way of the game. But there just wasn't that much game there, in my estimation. What a sad state of affairs, that EA is content to bring pedestrian PS2 experiences to the "Next Gen" with evidently nothing more than better graphics. Is "It's a PS2 game, only it doesn't look like hell" really all it takes to sell a $60 game to people?

Nintendo Gaming / No summer launch
« on: April 25, 2006, 08:20:25 AM »
NEC has reportedly told Bloomberg that the Rev's 1T-SRAM has been ordered and will be delivered in early autumn. Guess the chances of a summer launch are now next to nil.

Nintendo Gaming / Katamari Developer denounces revolution
« on: April 19, 2006, 01:05:31 PM »
"I'm not really interested in it. I don't think a controller should have that much influence on the enjoyment of games."  

General Gaming / Lucent Lawsuit: Recall all 360's
« on: April 07, 2006, 07:56:16 PM »

Apparently Lucent (formerly Bell Labs) is claiming patent violations in the 360 and asking that it be pulled from the shelves.

Nintendo Gaming / Harvest Moon: DS
« on: March 30, 2006, 04:01:12 PM »
I had no idea this was so far along

I just noticed, EB's got it listed as an early June release, and Natsume's got screenshots up. Seems like a game that would fit really well with the DS.

Nintendo Gaming / On Rears its Ugly Head Again
« on: March 26, 2006, 07:57:03 AM »

An article entitled "Nintendo Revolution to have VR headset"

And it links to a video mockup... care to take a guess what the video is?

Nintendo Gaming / Peace Bomb!
« on: March 24, 2006, 06:25:41 PM »
A weird little concept that came out of GDC


Smith's winning idea, Peace Bomb!, was presented as a Nintendo DS game in which players create flash mobs--"crowds of people who assemble suddenly in a public place to do something notable and then disperse." Peace Bomb!, Smith explained, would be "aimed at engendering constructive projects."

Specifically, Smith envisioned that the game would have a "subversive feeling to it" and promote peaceful insurgency projects

Here's a good chance for Nintendo to follow through with the "you've got the idea, we've got the money" thing.  

Nintendo Gaming / No Worldwide Launch
« on: March 24, 2006, 06:12:51 PM »

Buried at the bottom of an article about the DS shortage in Japan:

Iwata said that unlike Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo doesn't plan to release the Revolution globally at the same time.

"We don't think it's necessary to do the simultaneous worldwide launch simply because others are doing this," he said.


Reader Reviews / Yu-Gi-Oh: Nightmare Troubadour (DS)
« on: March 24, 2006, 11:04:05 AM »
Title: Yu-Gi-Oh: Nightmare Troubadour
Platform: Nintendo DS
Publisher: Konami
Multiplay: Yes, 2 player multi-card only
Basic Summary: A collectible card game and adventure RPG based on one of the more popular anime and CCG franchises on the planet. The first of it's kind for the Nintendo DS.

I've always been a sucker for the CCG-based games. In fact, one of the first things I got when I first bought my Gameboy Player was a used copy of the Gameboy Color classic Pokemon TCG that I found at EB for like $3 or something... it probably got more overall playing time than anything. Later I found a used copy of Dragonball Z: CCG for the GBA, which was another great time killer.

The interesting thing is, I've never actually played any of these card games outside of their video game variants. Its not that I didn't have interest in them, but I was just getting out of school when they started becoming popular. That and my agoraphobic tendancies have kept me from pursuing the games since (even though plenty of people my age seem to play these "kids games" on a competitive level).

Anyhow, I think it's important to review games like this in a different manner. A lot of the mainstream sites penalize these games for not having stunning animation, or for having a shallow plot (or in some cases no plot at all), or for being too complicated. To me, that misses the point of the game. It's like complaining there's too many plays in Madden, or that the teams are too unbalanced in NBA Live. These games are meant to simulate something real, and how well they replicate the "real thing" is to me the most important thing.

In particular, the Yu-Gi-Oh games for the GBA have taken considerable flak for not having any sort of tutorial mode. Since it's a fairly complex card game that has more than anything else kept me from entering the genre until now. I'd heard that there was supposed to be a tutorial mode for the DS game though.

There's not. I don't even remember where I heard this (some magazine maybe), but there is no tutorial mode in this game. What there is, however, is a puzzle mode, and playing through the puzzles, and a few trial and error matches, it is possible to learn how to play the card game. It's maybe not as straightforward a learning experience as it probably should be.

One other thing is that the visuals related to gameplay aren't great. The playing field takes up a whole screen, but it's such a big field that the individual cards are far too small to see clearly. The other screen shows a weird, zoomed in view, and also displays all the card data. 95% of the time this setup works just fine, but in one particular situation, there is a card which forces both players to show their hands, but only during their turn. Since you can't zoom around during the other guy's turn and look at these cards, unless you're familiar with what kind of deck your opponent has, its really hard to tell what he's showing you.

Conversely, the visuals outside of gameplay related to the "story" are superb. The characters are straight out of the anime and look every bit as good as they do on TV. One wishes they'd found a way to get as much detail off the cards, for instance, where it would've really helped the gameplay... but give credit where it is due, the NPCs all look fabulous.

And there is a story here... although it's not at all clear at first. Starting with what seems like a very generic story (you buy some cards and enter a tournament) I played a couple hours a day for three solid nights before I stumbled across the first cutscene of the storyline. The story finds you, but it appears to take its own sweet time sometimes, leaving you never sure if you're going to sit down to a night of card games, or a night of boss battles.

The card game is quite fun though. A whole level of complexity above Pokemon or DBZ's card games, it really involves a lot of planning and strategy. Luck is a factor (though interestingly enough you can design some decks which will turn the game into almost pure luck). Sometimes the battles only last a few minutes, and other times they can go on easily for a half hour.

Each character has his own distinct style of deck, and as I understand it they reflect the style of deck the character has in the anime. One minor gripe here: you don't generally choose your oppoents, you stumble across them while wandering around the city (you've got opponent radar, but it doesn't say who you've found until you confront them). This makes it hard to design your deck around your opponent. On the other hand, it does encourage you to make the most balanced deck you can (or at least the deck most like to survive an attack by one of the boss characters, should they pop up). I suppose with the ease of acquiring more cards, this was probably a necessary evil, since if you knew who you're fighting and what's in their deck it's fairly simple to build a deck to beat them.

And I think the number of cards is a nice touch. While I got hung up a few places in DBZ seemingly without the ability to make a deck capable of beating the next opponent, in Yu-Gi-Oh you still get a few KPs (damn few) even if you lose, so after 10-15 straight losses you can afford to buy a booster pack and maybe reclaim some of your dignity. Be careful though: your opponents don't sit on their hands either. As your collection grows and your skills improve, you may outgrow some of your opponents, but they continue to add to their collections as well, and you may well find that girl with the "Cute Sister" deck that you beat the tar out of the last week has some new cards herself, and that beating her this time will be a much more daunting affair.

The replay value in this game is really immense, if you enjoy this sort of thing. There are literally billions of possible decks to try out, and always new challenges to meet. The story is a bit disjointed, but that's not the real reason to play this game for most people, the card battles are.

The Good: Excellent use of touch screen control. Huge replayability, impressive levels of complexity and a great deal of strategic planning are required to get really good. Somewhat easy to learn, but very hard to master.

The Decent: NPCs aren't really animated, but they're drawn really well.

The Not-so-Good: Storyline is a bit fragmented and seems to move along at its own pace. Lack of a true tutorial mode makes getting into the game initially a little frustrating.

The Downright Ugly: No matter how hard you try, a whole play board doesn't fit well on a single screen.

The Unintentionally Funny: The translations are by and large spot-on. Every once in awhile though the player character will say something that's so poorly translated that it's laughable. Engrish phrases like "Lets already return" and "I will stop going out because slowness today" don't really detract from the gameplay, but they will have you doing a double-take every so often.

Conclusion: I give the game a B+. The replayability and the impressive depth more than make up for some of the games failings. There is an occasional lack of polish that makes you wonder what might have been. A game like this is tailor made for Wifi... hopefully Konami will figure that out and implement some sort of online multiplay in a future version.  

Nintendo Gaming / The Third Pillar
« on: March 18, 2006, 12:09:41 PM »
I've been playing video games since I was 3. Ever since my parents brought home an Atari 2600 with Combat and Circus Atari, video games have eaten up the lion's share of my leisure time. Mostly, it's been a very orderly progression from one system to the next for me: Atari 2600, NES, Sega Genesis, Sega CD, Sega Saturn, N64, Dreamcast, Gamecube, etc.

The portables never particularly interested me. Oh sure, I've owned a few, usually at the tail end of their lifespans, or as second hand retreads years down the road. They usually struck me as, and usually were, just trimmed down portable versions of consoles. It's all well and good if you're commuting long distances, but frankly, that's just not me. I work at home, I don't leave the house unless it's for some important reason, and rarely is such a trip going to leave me with a lot of time to kill. If I want to play console games, I play console games. On a console, on a TV... there was just never any need to settle for second best in the name of portability.

Then something funny happened. I got sick of my Gamecube and its comparative lack of new titles that were really my kind of games. So I did what I usually do when that happens, I got another system... a PS2. Inferior graphics, but lots of games I hadn't played, and lots of them were in discount bins. It probably would've been good enough to get me through to the next generation... but it didn't have to be.

The DS caught my eye. I got one shortly after launch as a Christmas present, but it stayed mostly unplayed on my shelf. Portable... it played GBA games on a better screen, sure, but if I really wanted to do that, I'd do that with my Gameboy Player. Then Pac Pix came out.

Since then, my library of PS2 games stagnated, much as my Cube had... I bought one or two games for each over the course of the next year and really enjoyed them... but that was about it. The DS hadn't just replaced my GBA as my scarcely played handheld, it had actually replaced my PS2 as well.

Then I finally figured out why, and what Nintendo meant by "third pillar". The DS isn't just a portable console like the GBA, or the GBC, or the PSP... it's a unique system that offers unique play experiences that just can't be replicated on a console. To that end it probably owes more of its design to the Virtual Boy.

There's probably still a market for portable consoles... I can't say for sure, being as I was never too interested in them in the first place. That people are buying the PSP inspite of its vapid collection of PS2 knockoffs hints at that though. That the GBA still sells comparatively well despite being positively ancient hints at it as well.

So maybe there's still a reason for Nintendo to make another Gameboy. I know most people see the DS as the next Gameboy, but if Nintendo's really determined to have a handheld that attempts to replicate the experience of playing a console, they can probably do a much better job.

The DS just isn't as good as the PSP at being a portable imitation of a console experience. The touch screen doesn't do a great job of replicating an analog stick... the second screen feels oddly out of place, and usually winds up getting barely used in console knock-offs. Play Madden on a PSP... it plays like a poor imitation of the PS2 version.

If this market still exists, it's silly for Nintendo to cede it to Sony. The GB line has taken on powerful competitors before and always emerged victorious. Maybe the timing just isn't right. Maybe they're just trying to space their releases out so the three pillars can coexist. But I'd be surprised if Nintendo isn't at least investigating the possibility of releasing another "portable console" style handheld in the next couple of years.

General Chat / Does It Ever Work
« on: March 16, 2006, 02:24:57 PM »
OK, my Toys R Us games just arrived today, so I went to register them on the last time I went there to register a game was when I got Mario Kart DS... and it took three visits to accomplish it, first two times they were down.

So I go there: guess what, down again. Seems like lately the site is at best a 50-50 prospect.

I don't know who's responsible for NOA's server, but they're really doing a miserable job. What SHOULD be a focal point for Nintendo's online marketing efforts is unresponsive, and that's only when you're lucky... usually it's just flat out down.

A site like that's getting lots of traffic, I'm sure... and I think the past year has shown us that whatever that backend software they're using is, it's not up to the job. I'd suggest they lure their web programmers onto a leaky boat and aim it towards the setting sun... I'm sick of having registering my games become a nightmare chore.

General Gaming / PS3 Backwards compatibility: Worst of both worlds
« on: March 14, 2006, 10:17:03 AM »
Rumors are floating around all the Sony sites right now that Sony's original promise of backward compatibility for the PS3 may in fact be misleading, and that rather than reading the old PS1 and PS2 discs, Sony might take a page out of Nintendo's book and offer them as downloads *Instead*

Looking forward to rebuying that multi-DVD PS2 game you have and sitting through a several gigabyte download? I know I'm not.

General Gaming / "PSP Lite"
« on: March 12, 2006, 06:46:59 PM »
The Source

Sounds dubious to me... most people are inclined to believe any rumor that involves Sony being a shameless copycat.

Adding "4 Gigs" (which I'm guessing means 512 MB) of storage and a camera. So now besides being an overpriced, subpar portable media player it'll be an overpriced, subpar digital camera.

I guess this was the more logical path for Sony than, say, having some worthwhile games developed for it.

Nintendo Gaming / Forbes Article: Executive Toybox
« on: March 12, 2006, 10:43:44 AM »
Forbes is doing a series on what gadgets the executives of some up-and-coming companies really like... Six Apart (the Live Journal and Moveable Type people)'s VP names the Nintendo DS.

Here's one of the key quotes:

The dirty little secret is that the DS is a great networking tool. All the people who I play online with are alpha-bloggers and key geeks at tech companies. People say that bicycle-riding or World of Warcraft is the new golf course. That’s not true--it is clearly Nintendo DS. It is the social lubricant that leads to everything else.

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