MS believes in elitism, Sony believes in animal sacrifice...

Ok, before I get to today's possibly true news, I thought I should post something about the Xbox 360 elite. Rarely have I seen the gaming community so apathetic about a new release. I mean really, it's being produced in extremely limited numbers, so I'm sure they'll sell out and be "the hot new console" according to MS, but the reasoning just isn't there. 95% (and that's probably a very conservative estimate) of 360 owners aren't going to even use up the 13 gigs they get now (unless they start releasing lots of big high quality downloadable content on a regular basis, excuse me while I laugh at that thought...). HDMI? Yeah, that'll be great for the almost non-existent number of games that use it and the almost as small number of people who actually own a TV capable of putting out anything above 480p. And finally, the decision to introduce this as a third option rather than dropping the completely pointless core is moronic. Plus is you want watch HD DVDs, you still have to buy the $200 add-on. Given all this, I'm not even sure it'll sell out tomorrow, actually.

And now onto today's possibly (but upon a little reflection, probably not) news. While I wouldn't put any business executive above animal sacrifice to some dark god in the privacy of their own boardroom, this was apparently a public spectacle. If the article is true, there'll be one hell of a reckoning. But the main source appears to be a rather unreliable British tabloid, so I'll reserve judgement and further comment until this is verified.

Though Ken Kuturagi's ousting from Sony may seem sudden and over what is merely a perceived failure of the PS3, this enlightening article from Gamebiz proves that sadly it's been a long time coming, not a uncommon story in the world of business, and makes me feel a little sad that seemingly nothing short of of the PS3 outdoing even the previous two (which would've been a near impossibility even if everything had gone right for Sony) would've let Kuturagi keep his job. Doesn't make him any less batshit insane, though.

Being a long-time gamer, I am understandably extremely weary of third-party products. Especially those that if they don't work correctly, can cause me to waste even more money than I spent on the shoddy product by damaging the very system I bought it for. But Nintendo's bizarre hesitation to come out with some kind of rechargeable battery pack for their controller has forced me into the third party realm. I ordered Nyko's Wii Charge Station a few days ago, and it arrived today. I was a little worried that no manual came with it. Sure, assembly and basic use needed no explanation, but lacking anything that talks about battery life, time to charge or lacking any warnings about improper use (like is it ok to leave it in the charger overnight or should I take it out as soon as it's fully charged?) gave me pause. I put in the battery packs with the odd-feeling rubberized covers and prayed for the best. So far, it does exactly what it's supposed to do, and pretty well. It's obviously too early to tell how these packs do in the long term, but I'll most certainly update if anything changes. For now, this is a definite recommend.

And finally, I've got a great youtube vid for anyone who grew up playing games, this was made by an editor at the Offiical Nintendo Magaizine (which is a British publication), but most of it should give any long-time gamer warm, memorable fuzzies:


So long you crazy bastard

Some people think the title might have to do with the passing of MPAA head Jack Valenti, but really I could care less about him. Sure, the ratings system is busted and Valenti should've been fired, but He was merely overly conservative, little harsh to be dancing on his grave. No I'm talking about one of Sony's top execs stepping down. Granted, Kuturagi is hardly gone form Sony, and if anybody thinks this will stop the flow of crazy quotes, several top Sony execs (namely Phil Harrison & Kaz Hirai) have proven just as insane. Of course, the first thing teh internet fanboys leap to is that this is a sure sign of Sony's doom (and granted, it does seem eerily reminiscent of Bernie Stolar leaving Sega right after the Dreamcast launch), Kuturagi was pretty much on the way out anyways. Signs that Sony is really going under would be a massive shake-up of the top-level brass, which if they are coming probably won't happen for quite a few years anyways.

Moving onto this weekend's movies... well maybe we;d better not. Let's just say when your best option is a WWE-funded movie starring Steve Austin, you're best off just staying in.

And finally, while Nintendo apparently isn't intent on making their Wii as online friendly as their competition, luckily we have an internet loaded with talented people who are trying to make it a little better, one way is unofficial Wii Tags, check out the site here to make your own. I think these are very cool. Fee free to add mine to your list:


I think Howard Stringer just had a heart attack...

Why? Because while Blu-Ray may be kicking HD-DVD's ass at the moment, the world's number one retailer, Wal-Mart is set to dramatically shift the balance, throwing their full support behind HD-DVD, which will apparently come to fruition this Christmas. Assuming this is true, the HD wars are over. Period. No movie company is going to ignore Wal Mart, they can't afford it. So HD-DVD wins. Course in the end this was a stupid war to begin with, I just don't think ether format will catch on big time as it's not the massive change DVD was from VHS and people are definitely not ready to abandon the standard DVD format so soon. In other words, high-def DVDs in any format will probably remain for hardcore movie geeks for quite a few more years before they really break into the mainstream, and there might even be some all new format by then.

I've logged a few hours into Pokemon Pearl, and it's really amazing how little has changed, and I'm honestly not fond of what has. Whose bright idea was it to have trainers run at you and force you to battle them? It's essentially a cheap ambush because it's usually just after you've gotten through an area filled with Pokemon you just fought and they look like anybody else until they literally run at you. It's complete BS. But otherwise, I like what I've played.

It looks like my Summer has suddenly freed up, and not in a good way. it now seems like Mass Effect may not make it this Summer. All that's really confirmed is that there's no release date, but with E3 less than two months away and previous statements suggesting it would be out before E3, this latest news seems to say otherwise. What was once a promising Summer now seems incredibly lean for any console owner. I sure hope they got some great downloadable content planned to keep everyone busy...



Gotta catch 'em all yet again?

You know a game is important when it's release date is a Sunday. The first DS iteration of the Pokemon series, Diamond & Pearl, hits stores tomorrow. And while those like me who have mostly stayed away from the series (I've only played the original "Red" and a couple of pathetic console spin-offs), may think the series has faded as the movies have disappeared and the TV show and merchandise are no longer invading the nation as they once were, the game series is more popular than ever, with Pearl/Diamond already receiving over 500,000 pre-orders. I have nothing against Pokemon in and of itself, but like many series that pump seemingly endless iterations, I wait quite awhile before picking a new one up so the upgrades actually seem major. And this one has some major upgrades. You can play online, it supports voice chat, and when Pokemon Battle Revolution hits, you'll be able to take your battle-hardened Pokemon from your DS to the Wii's online arena, very sweet. I'm not completely sold, but assuming I can find it with little trouble, I may be catching them all over again as soon as tomorrow.

Really the only other thing I have to say today is that I saw Hot Fuzz, and anyone who appreciated the brilliance of Shaun of the Dead will like this just as much. It's an absolutely brilliant send-up of the action genre that still manages to pay great homage to it as well. This was not made by guys who hate cheesy action films, which is why it works so incredibly well. This will easily be one of the most fun times you'll have at the theater this year, go see it.


April Showers bring Phantom Dust

Finally, a backwards compatibility update I care about. You can get the full list here, but one of my favorite online games for the original Xbox was Phantom Dust. I felt cause it was a sort of underground game that it was pretty much done when I traded in my old Xbox, but with today's update, I can start building all new decks of awesomeness. I highly recommend it for anybody looking for online play that doesn't involve sports or shooting guns.

Ah Jack Thompson, like so many times before, you bring your senile ass out of hiding and it gets bitch-slapped. First, here's a video of him being completely humiliated on MSNBC:

And today, he settled (meaning lost) with Take 2, and while he is of course allowed to spew his moronic
and completely unfounded theories on games, he is no longer allowed to attempt to stop the sales of any of Take 2's games or send them those ridiculous letters he's known for. So what is Thompson's next move? To blame Bill Gates for the VT shootings. Even though Gates has literally nothing to do with Counter Strike except that his company makes computers that can play it, so that'd be like suing camera companies for violent movies. Thompson has truly become desperate and a laughingstock and I hope even Fox is smart enough not to give him any more air time.

Ok, moving onto this weekend's movies, I have one I'm very excited about and a bunch I'm fairly lukewarm towards. The one I'm very excited about is Hot Fuzz, it's from the same guys who did the brilliant Shaun of the Dead, this looks to be an absolutely tremendous riff on cheesy overblown action films while also paying loving tribute to them. The lazy idiots who make crap like Epic Movie need some tutoring from these guys on how to correctly mock a genre.

The rest of the offerings seem much less promising. Fracture is just Anthony Hopkins once again channeling Hannibal Lecter, just not in name. I don't think the whole evil murdering genius vs. a young bright agent thing is overdone, except when Anthony Hopkins is doing it yet again.

And finally in another movie that feels like something we've seen MANY times before, we have Vacancy, which is essentially about a normal couple stranded and beset upon by psychopaths in a motel. I can see the lame ass pitch meeting now: "It's like Breakdown meets Joyride, but since we have no budget, we'll just put it in a roadside motel!". Yawn.

That's really it for today, but I'll leave you with possibly the coolest fan video to ever be made-HALOID:


Experts in Douchebaggery and nothing else

Leave it to Jack Thompson to take the latest tragedy to give himself some fucking attention. The worst shooting in American history takes place and this asshole somehow gets on TV to bark about his insane crusade. Why, because he's an "expert". How, exactly, is he an expert? Does he have a psychology degree from anywhere specializing in this? has he published any valid studies? No, of course not, he just claims he's a fucking expert, and the ridiculously moronic news media believes him.

"But that's Fox news!", a virtual joke and a fountain of complete misinformation, surely the more legitimate news outlets haven't given this outlandish theory with not even the slightest bit evidence credence, right?

Well here's Thompson on the supposedly more reliable MSNBC spewing the same crap:

And finally, here's a quote from hack TV psychologist Dr. Phil from his appearance on Larry King:

“The problem is we are programming these people as a society. You cannot tell me - common sense tells you - that if these people are playing video games where they’re on a mass killing spree in a video game, it’s glamorized on the big screen, it’s become part of the fiber of our society. You take that and mix it with a psychopath, a sociopath, or someone suffering from mental illness, add in a dose of rage, the suggestability is just too high. And we’re going to have to start dealing with that. We’re going to have to start addressing those issues and recognizing that the mass murderers of tomorrow are the children of today that are being programmed with this massive violence overdose.”

Aside from the overwhelming evidence of the fact that 99.9% of the people who play these so called mass murder games lead perfectly normal lives and never commit harm, it clear that there was something mentally wrong with this whack job, and a fucking video game (which nobody even know if he played those) isn't what made him a killer.

"Super Columbine Massacre" sounds like a horrible game, and in my opinion, it is. I've played it. It's disturbing, tasteless, and although it doesn't really glorify the shooters' actions so much as examine them,it could certainly be interpreted as such. That being said. It's an underground rpg that was made by an individual and is based on old SNES rpgs. It's far from being able to train anyone to do anything. This is not some mainstream game you can go pick up at your local store for any system. Saying people train on games like Doom is beyond ridiculous. Hell nobody even fucking plays Doom anymore. The simple fact is NO videogame trains you to be a killer, it's been repeatedly established (see all the stupid lawsuits Thompson has filed as evidence, the guy has never won a fucking case) that videogames and real life are very different. But in reality, what pisses me off the most is Thompson, Dr. Phil and their ilk passing themselves off as people who have any fucking clue what they are talking about, and news outlets simply taking them at their word. Experts in douchebaggery, all of you.



YES. Punch Out is available on the VC. It'd be nice if we could still get our ass whooped by Mike Tyson like in the old days, but licensing issues (and more likely Tyson's embarrassing life the last decade or so) and actually being able to save over using passwords would be a nice touch, but this is definitely one of the all time classics and any Wii owner MUST BUY IT.

PS3 owners actually have a pretty good week for online as well, as the only Mortal Kombat that is worth a damn, MK II, will be available for the PS3 for only 4.95.

And what do 360 owners get? Updates that brick their systems. There are two games coming to Live, but whether they are worth a damn is anybody's guess (and being that there has been virtually no press on either, the odds are slim that they are in fact worth a damn). Oh, and proof that the 360 can indeed scratch discs. What a fantastic week for 360 owners!

Good news, Guitar Hero III for the Wii will be online (thus refuting previous rumors that 3rd party titles would not be online til next year because of Nintendo), but it will also use the Guitar Hero controller, not be a specialized Wii-only version, which is a good move. I just feel sorry for the 360 owners who just bought GH II since a whole new one is only about 5 months away...



In other words, I got nothin, I didn't even get around to seeing The Hoax (though I'll try sometime this week), so here's some sweet vids and I'll hopefully have something tomorrow:

Too Human preview:

Lair Preview:

Anchorman 300:

And finally, your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: IndestructoTank!


If it ain't broke...

Unfortunately, Nintendo seems to not be following this dictum. And while breaking from the norm and going in a radical new direction has obviously been a huge success for them, their insistence on "Wii-ifying" every single game that actually comes out for the Wii is a colossal mistake. Making great games for the Wii doesn't necessarily revolve around making the Wii's motion-based controls central to the gameplay. The Wii revamped versions of games like Prince of Persia and Resident Evil 4 might come to mind as examples, but really I'm talking about games that already have unique controls, those based around their own unique peripheral. I mean really, these are games based around a very unique setup already, yet the designers (possibly under pressure from Nintendo) of certain games of this sort seem to be making special editions that add Wii Remote use. The upcoming DDR game, Hottest Party, will feature unique Wii remote controls in addition to DDR's seminal dancepad setup. Apparently they decided we geeks aren't rhythmically challenged enough. But the best (well, worst) example is today's announcement of DK Bongo Blast for the Wii, only without the bongos. Instead, you'll be using the Wii remote and nunchuck. Why is this bad? Anyone who played the original GC game will tell you that the fun was PLAYING THE BONGOS. It's fum to rhythmically drum, plain and simple, and if you are going to release a game with BONGOS anywhere in the title, it should be a law that it has a FUCKING BONGO CONTROLLER! I really hope they are smart enough to not do anything with Guitar Hero III when it hits this fall. Hopefully this is just a case of history repeating itself, as the same thing happened with the DS for about the first year, but you really think not only Nintendo, but developers would've learned from that specific example seeing how recent it was.

Ok, that's pretty much my rant for today. But I'll give a quick summation of this weekend's movies: They suck. I plan on seeing The Hoax, which has been out in at least limited release for a few weeks now, that's most likely anybody's best bet this weekend.


Video Day-The I'm too busy playing Super Paper Mario to really post anything edition

Seriously, beyond these new vids I'm posting, not a whole lot has happened since I last posted, and Super Paper Mario is serious fun so far (though much like Zelda, way too easy), so I'll post these vids, and maybe give some more in-depth analysis tomorrow.

First off, a vid giving a good overview of Xbox Live's big Spring update coming May 7th:

Secondly, a new MP video of Halo 3 that shows of some cool things like the Shield Grenade and the "man cannon" (hopefully they'll have a better name for that by the release date):

And finally, a short documentary on the history of advertising in movies. It's been around for much longer than most people think, especially with people seeming to really just notice how bad it's gotten the last couple of years:


Full Control?

Well I'm back. I saw one great movie (Blades of Glory, seriously, this is now my favorite Will Ferrell film, it was absolute genius) and two fairly terrible ones (Meet the Robinsons & The Namesake) while I was away, but it seems I picked a good week as nothing truly earth-shattering came about.

But on to today's topic, which is something that sort of came about right when I left. It seems that the new trend in online journalism is bringing the Wii's controls into question, citing big hits that missed (Red Steel) shit ports (Splinter Cell, Far Cry, Call of Duty) and games that should've made an easy transition, but end up being overly complicated or not responsive enough according to some (Tiger Woods, SSX, Cooking Mama). And there's also evidence of these issues in future releases, with Super Smash Bros not even using the Wii controller and the new Metroid being delayed until Nintendo feels it's "absolutely perfect". But are these the fault of a shoddy control scheme for the system? Or just lazy developers trying to shovel everything they can onto the hot new thing? If you read several reviews of any of the games sighted as evidence of the problems, opinions are all over the board. Some hate the control setup, some love it (especially with SSX Blur, people seem to either really dig the admittedly challenging controls or think the game sucks because of them). Shigeru Miyamoto has taken developers to task for assigning what he calls "4th string" development teams, which he may be right on the money about.

The fact is the Wii caught everybody by surprise with its massive sales numbers, causing just about every major publisher who had previously thought of the Wii as another Gamecube to suddenly rush anything they could onto it. The "new" Prince of Persia and Resident Evil 4 games pretty much confirm this. I can buy Gamecube versions of both of these titles for about $20. Explain to me why I'm paying $50 for some newfangled controls, even if they add something to the experience? And arguably some of the strongest games were admittedly ports that were adapted well to the Wii (Zelda & Super Paper Mario), but not built from the ground up for the Wii, which leads to inherent issues.

So, bottom line, are the Wii controls really just a novel but failed experiment? The real answer is that it's too soon to tell. Much like everybody jumping on the "drought" bandwagon and wildly claiming that this would be another Nintendo system with little 3rd party support just because of a somewhat light 2007 so far, nobody really knows. There may in fact be nothing wrong with the controls, and developers are still getting a handle on them, which we should see the results of when the second generation games start showing up near the end of this year. I'm willing to bet most critics will be silenced by then, but if these issues haven't mostly been addressed by the big fall releases, I'm more than willing to crucify Nintendo cause then they'll truly deserve it.