Is $300 too much for a portable system?

Nintendo has finally announced the first details about the 3DS, namely that'll hit Japan in February and should be out in the US & UK in March. Boo! I think everybody was banking on a late holiday release. But also of note is the pricing. No while no official price has been announced for other territories, in Japan it's going to be $300, and prices between territories don't usually vary much. Seems kind of pricey when I can get a PS3 or 360 for the same amount. Sure, it's portable 3D gaming, but arguably one of the biggest appeals of Nintendo's long line of portables is that they've never been horribly expensive. That goes for the games too. If we start seeing 3DS games in the $40 and up range it may make many budget-minded gamers (and parents) think twice about shelling out the cash. I do like that it will have a virtual console feature, though you should be able to transfer VC games you alread have on the Wii frankly, as you can do that with the PS3 & PSP.

Bottom line, at that price tag they will need one hell of a killer lineup, but it looks like Nintendo has that covered...

Admittedly if all that stuff is out launch day, I maybe scheming and saving to get one right away myself. But odds are I will hold off til the launch hype dies down if not a price cut, I sure as hell wasn't an early DS adopter and honestly it's something I've never played a ton of, portable gaming for the most part just doesn't have the same appeal to me as console gaming. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure I'll get one, just would take a hell of a lot for me to get it launch day,

I managed to watch the latest DCAU movie last night, and man am I glad I rented it instead of buying like I've been doing lately. I dunno whether he just doesn't care anymore of if that magic almost Pixar-like touch is gone, but even though Bruce Timm has a hand in nearly every film, they've been very hit or miss since the end of Justice League: Unlimited. This was a huge miss. I mean, it's awesome to have Kevin Conroy & Tim Daly back again as Batman & Superman, it always seems wrong when they get someone else. But the dialogue is pretty laughable and the animation just plain sucks. Batman & Superman actually look disturbingly feminine. Darkseid has BOOBS! It's just pretty much a disaster. This might actually be the worst DCAU film I've seen, and I think I've seen all of them (though sadly it's still better than a lot of the Marvel animated films). Hopefully, All-Star Superman will make up for it, though looking at the trailer, I'm not too hopeful...

And Square's second go at online officially commences tomorrow with the release of FFXIV for the PC along with its extremely controversial "fatigue" system, where it actually essentially penalizes someone who plays one class to long. Now with the ability to basically switch classes on the fly, this isn't quite the blasphemy some are making it out to be, but it still seems a little ridiculous that Square is almost forcing everyone who plays for long periods of time to have essentially a more jack-of-all trades character then a highly developed specialist. So what if more casual players fall behind? And I say this as someone who works around 45 hours a week and has a significant other. My gaming time is fairly limited, and I don't see the fatigue system as a good thing. Oh well, with any luck it might even be completely gone by the time the PS3 version finally hits (which is supposedly March).

That's pretty much it for today, but I do have a plan for at least one more post Friday or Saturday, so keepan eye out for that. Til then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: True Grit


Vegas= The New WWII?

WWII is the most overused backdrop in all of gaming. Granted, there seems to be a refreshing amount of games not based on it this year, but that just means companies will jump all over some other hot backdrop until we are completely sick of it. That backdrop mayeasily be Vegas. Actually already featured in quite a few titles, though not to the point to be overwhelmingly obvious, the glitz, glamour and anything can happen aura of the city is probably quite the enticing setting for those lacking originality. This week sees a big send-up of it in the highly anticipated Dead Rising 2, where you can try your luck against hordes of mindless zombies. While I enjoyed the original, I kinda got bored after a few hours of mindless zombie-slaying mayhem, so not much appeal for me persoanlly. Also coming soon is Fallout: New Vegas, throwing an apocalyptic coat of paint on the home of the Rat Pack. That already seems like slight overkill to me, especially with many games at least throwing in some nod to vegas whether it be a city or particular level. I doubt it reach the ridiculous overusage of WWII, but if companies don't cut it out, people might start getting so tired of seeing Vegas everywhere they won't even want to go to the actual city.

Well now, if I remember correctly, Wednesday should be the day Nintendo finally announces the release date for the 3DS. Now, they promised it'd be out everywhere by March, but I'd put good money on it being out in November here to really capitalize on holiday sales with a hopeful $200 price tag (which recent price drops of the DSi/XL support). Now that being said, it would have to have a fairly impressive lineup for me to buy day one or even really soon after launch. No system has really had a strong launch library frankly (usually one or two awesome games surrounded by garbage) and it usually takes at least a year for quality software to really start coming out at a rate that makes owning the hardware worth it. I mean, look at the DS. Nobody understood how cool the touch screen was and everybody thought it would be pulverized by the PSP. These days the DS is the most popular system on the planet and the PSP is struggling to even be relevant to the point that it's worth wondering if there's even a point to making a PSP2.

Unfortunately that's really all I've got for today but I should have a much meatier post next time with thoughts on the pricing/release date of the 3DS, FFXIV, Superman/Batman Apocalypse and more all in my next post. Til then, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Megatankman


The Top 11 Adorable badasses in gaming

Gaming is pretty much all about being a badass. You slaughter monsters, aliens, evil soldiers, rescue the girl, save the kingdom, planet, universe etc. Most of these games are populated by guys who you would never mistake for anything but a badass. But some games feature some of the cutest characters ever to give anybody an ass-whooping, and here are the top ones you wouldn't want to mess with on your best day:

11. Meracle (Star Ocean: Til The End of Time)

Gaming is filled with tons of sexy catgirls, but Meracle is deceptively amusing and adorable, and never crosses over into annoying, being the source of some of the best comedy moments in the game. She's also a complete maniac in battle, building her up properly with talents so as no guard and stun can make her the deadliest warrior in your group by a long shot.

10. Baby Mario & Baby Luigi (Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, Mario Kart series)

Aside from being pretty decent drivers, any infants who travel through time in order to help their grown-up selves defeat evil aliens are babies who totally kick some ass. And they definitely aren't a hinderance like many younger partners in video games, having often to fight on their own against enemies just as powerful as anything the adult Mario Bros have ever faced.

9. Rocket the Slime(Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime)

Dragon Quest slimes are almost annoyingly adorable, being the official mascot of the DQ series and always grinning as though hiding something as you slaughter them mercilessly. Rocket is a rare breed however who manages to free his fellow slimes from the evil Plob. Plus he owns a giant tank that he can destroy just about everything with.

8. Bomberman (Bomberman series)

One of the most adorable mascots and yet one of the most psychotic. Seriously, the guy bombs the hell out of everything, and I mean everything. He will blow your ass to kingdom come just for looking at him the wrong way. He blows shit up with powerful explosives and looks adorable doing so. Seriously, everyone should be scared out of their wits whenever they see this guy anywhere, you know the little terrorist is just waiting for an excuse...

7. Moogle (Final Fantasy Series, Kingdom Hearts series)

Though mostly relegated to supporting roles as of late, the Moogles have a pretty solid history of badassery, most recently in the Tactics spin-off series, but their shining moment was probably FF VI, where not only was the incredibly powerful Mog a valuable party member, but early on in the game they fend off a fierce squad of soldiers from the evil Empire to defend an unconscious Terra.

6. Vivi (Final Fantasy IX)

He was supposed to be just a soulless weapon of mass destruction, but somehow an actual person emerged and we have one of the most endearing Final Fantasy characters ever. His childlike naivete and almost crushing moments of soul-searching make him someone you just wanna hold like a young child and tell them everything's going to be ok. And lurking under all that is still a weapon of mass destruction that could fry an army in 10 seconds flat if you truly piss him off.


5. Yoshi (Mario Series)
Mario's little green dinosaur sidekick has the toughest tongue (and 2nd strongest stomach) in gaming. The dude can eat just about anything, including spiny's and bomb-ombs, can hang from poles with it. Hell, he can even fly a little. That's pretty cool. To top off his badassness (and possible future descent into villainy), he takes his unborn young and hurls them at foes. That's like Punisher-level badassness right there.

4. Mickey Mouse (Kingdom Hearts, Epic Mickey)
Granted, his last 60 or so years of being someone Ned Flanders would think of as too bland doesn't hold well in his favor. But Mickey's early 8 & 16-bit games had him going on huge adventures and defeating villains with rather cool costume powers among others. And his recent role as mysterious Yoda-esque warrior in the Kingdom Hearts games have upped his badass credibility considerably. Add in the upcoming Epic Micky where he can kick your ass with a paintbrush and you have one cuddly ass-kicker.

3. Young Link (Zelda series)

Ganon is arguably one of the most badass villains in gaming. His plan is almost always to rule the world, and he always makes a very serious attempt (unlike say Bowser who has failed in his plans so many times it's a running joke now). And who usually stops him all by himself? More than a few times it's been a child named Link who takes on Ganon and his evil minions all by his lonesome, or with help from completely helpless sources (Tingle, Midna, Zelda, etc.). Mario might save the princess, but Link saves the world and usually the girl in the process, time and time again.

2. Mew (Pokemon series)

So adorable, and yet he could make Professor X's head explode with barely any effort. Arguably the most powerful psychic creature in all of fiction. This little pink dude can  probably rearrange the Universe if he really wanted to. He'd pretty much make any other badass run in complete terror, adorable or otherwise. Only one other adorable badass would probably have a chance of stopping him, and that's...

1. Kirby

Sure Mew is a powerful psychic, but a nearly indestructible pink ball of fluff that can swallow ANYTHING and copy its powers? That's the badass of all adorable badasses. Probably of regular badasses too. His upcoming Epic Yarn may be the cutest game of this generation and yet he does things like transform into a freaking giant tank! Kirby is the ultimate adorable badass, and if you tell him otherwise, he'll just swallow you up and spit you out like so many before...

That's the list. I plan to update again this week, hopefully Thursday or Friday. Until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: The Dilemma


Sony's biggest mistake with Move...

Well first things first. I have gotten a few hours in with Halo: Reach. Arguably the biggest improvement is that while previous games were mostly corridor shooters with a few open levels, Reach is mostly open and has a tad more variety to it. The much touted space combat isn't anything special, though and it's a pretty brief affair.The A.I., at leaston normal (I'm honestly barely good enough to play on Normal, no way I'm playing Heroic or Legendary) is vastly improved, with teammates actually being helpful and enemies actually employing tactics (though I think enemy A.I. being able to use armor lock is pretty goddamned cheap). It is an overall improvement, but if you are still playing Halo 3 (and a lot of people are) it's hard to imagine paying full price for this game (although with all the special offers going on this week with most places offering some kind of $20-25 gift card/coupon, that may be enough incentive for anybody on the fence). Ultimately, Reach lives or dies by its multi-player, and while that may be the huge incentive for some, I'm pretty much in the same boat as Penny Arcade guys:

And frankly since match-setting like that don't really exist, that doesn't really do it for me. However, I did just renew my Xbox live gold membership since they had it on sale for only $30 this week, so I may have something down the line to really take advanatage of that. Hell, it may even be Reach if there's a good sale on it.

Would you buy a movie made up entirely of game cut scenes? CEO of Activision and Gordon Gecko wannabe Bobby Kotick certainly believes so. And granted, this isn't actually a new idea, but usually it's something released as a bonus feature or something you can get for about $10 rather than the $20-30 Kotick is looking to charge. I don't think it's an evil thing, as seems to be the kneejerk reaction from the internet, but Kotick seems to be forgetting that pretty much 99% of story and acting in gaming still makes Michael Bay films look like oscar-worthy material. Until that changes, I seriously doubt many would pay to watch these kinds of films.

Finally, yes Move is out. And the reviews kind of speak to what I've already been talking about. It's impressive enough tech, but not really any compelling software. Sports Champions is a weak Wii Sports wannabe, and not one of the launch titles is impressive. Arguably most important, to really get the full use out of Move is pretty costly. At minimum (assuming you already have a PS3) you are spending a minimum of a $170 (for the bundle and 1 extra set of controllers). If you don't have a PS3, that bumps it up to a whopping $470. That a lot of money for HD waggle. Granted, if Sony actually really sticks with Move, we may see some amazing stuff come out, but that's probably going to be next year at the earliest, and most companies (and gamers) probably won't wait that long.

That's all for today. I leave you with the FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: My First Quantum Translocator


The "I'm not talking about Reach" post

Not that I don't plan to, but seeing as it's on the way from gamefly, I'll wait til it actually gets here before talking about it anymore (which will hopefully be tomorrow).

But hey other games came out this week, arguably most notably yet another attempt to cash-in on Lord of the Rings, Aragorn's Quest. While I am certianly not against the idea of LOTR games out when there's no movie to promote, these should be games that really further explore the Middle Earth universe, not unoriginal cash grabs no one cares about. Arguably the only interesting note about this game is that it is compatible with the Playstation Move, though I seriously doubt such a lazy attempt will make good use of it.

More importantly, the best sitcom on network TV, Big Bang Theory, had its third season released today. If you haven't seen the fantastic episodes (including 2 awesomely evil appearances by the fantastic Wil Wheaton) this is a great opportunity to catch up.

And also a couple of big anniversaries happened recently. Firstly, the Playstation, the unbelievable juggernaut borne of a hapless rift between Sony and then completely dominant Nintendo, came out 15 years ago. To celebrate, Sony is having sales on PSone classics every week, so keep an eye out. Last week it was the rpg classic Suikoden, at a sweet price of $2.99. Hopefully they will put actual classics on sale each week, as the PS one library is filled with many titles no one would consider classic. I'm personally hoping for a nice sale on FFIX, as that would be a good excuse for me to own it digital form in addition to physical.

A much bigger anniversary is Mario's 25th. It's crazy to think the icon who essentially rebooted the whole gaming business is still around, as good as ever. You can certainly question other Nintendo properties, and possibly even his foray into other arenas, but the main Mario titles have rarely had a misstep, even extending to the surprisingly excellent series of role-playing games extending all the way back into the Super NES era. It's hard to imagine another 25 years of consistent quality, but if anyone can get it done, it's Nintendo.

ok, that's really all for today. I leave you with the TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Hereafter


Bungie's finest hour...

Halo: Reach. Most fans of the series and especially anybody who read the surprisingly excellent Fall of Reach know that it's a story about the fall of humanity's second home from a massive Covenant invasion. It's also Bungie's last Halo game possibly ever (they've said it's their last, but you never know), as they have moved on to try their hand at a new multi-platform franchise.And admittedly, the formula may be feeling a bit tired at this point. My personal interest isn't that high, even though I've watched most of the promotional vids and been reading the glowing reviews. And that sort of apathy seems like the common opinion among non-frat boy gamers, with more realistic games like Modern Warfare 2 still dominating their Deathmatch time. That being said, there are a lot of really great offers to entice people to buy it and I will certainly at least be renting it and hopefully give me opinion Wednesday or Thursday.

And yes, I have gotten in some time with Birth By Sleep. I've been playing through Aqu's (the female keyblade wielder) story. That admittedly may not have been the best option to start, as she comes at a point in each world where a lot hasalready happened, making the narrative downright confusing. But the battles are still just as engaging, its one of the most gorgeous psp games to date, and its still fun to see all the Disney characters, especially since this is mostly completely new territory you are exploring. They ditched the biggest glaring flaw of KH I & II-there is no gummi ship! Though the camera still has issues that actually become more problematic with this being mainly a solo adventure as compared to the main games in the series where you usually have at least 2 partners. But unlike the slightly underwhelming 358/2 days and the mostly terrible Chain of Memories, this is a true Kingdom Hearts title. The fact that it doesn't feature the continuing adventures of Sora & co. should be nothing more than a minor quibble, making this one of the few really good reasons to own a PSP.

Ok that's really it for today as I'm incredibly tired from working virtually the whole day and most of the weekend. I should be back Wednesday with thoughts on Reach, Move and a couple other things. Til then, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Vertical Drop Heroes



Ok, this post is later than I expected, but I spent most of last night and this morning finally finishing off Star Ocean 4, which I've been working through off and on since late last year. I did pick up Birth By Sleep on Tuesday, but to be honest, I've only played  few minutes, which isn't really enough for any kind of proper impression or full review. I will hopefully have one next time I post, which should be tomorrow or Friday.

Two games I did manage to play before I got into my lengthy Star Ocean session were two big superhero releases that came out this week: Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions & Batman : The Brave and the Bold. Ever since Arkham Asylum came out last year and showed everyone exactly how to do a superhero game, everyone was hoping other studios would take note. For its part, Shattered Dimensions starts with tons of promise. The looks of the different dimensions and the face that they all have different play styles seems to promise the best Spidey game since Spider-Man 2. But it all falls apart due to extremely loose and shoddy controls. For instance, in the Noir universe, which is completely based around stealth, I can't even do a from above take down with an enemy right below me half the time. In more action-packed universes where precise web-slinging is pretty essential, it constantly doesn't respond in a timely manner or I web jump when I should be just swinging. Even wall-crawling is problematic. Though arguably this could be worked through if the camera was competent. It's complete and absolute garbage. I can't even see where I am going most of the time. It's too bad because the presentation and ideas are great, a decent camera could've saved it.

Now Brave and the Bold starts off much like Spider-Man. The presentation is right in line with the look and the surprising humor of the brilliant but short-lived cartoon. The game itself is presented as an old-school brawler along the lines of Streets of Rage and Scott Pilgrim, and while its a fairly simple premise, its fun and it works. But it's hard to reccomend at $40 to all but the biggest B & B fans because it's a so simple. A $15-20 downloadable title seems much morethe proper price. Still, way better than Spider-Man.

Hopefully someone will actually take the lessons of Arkham Asylum and incorporate without just trying to copy them. Until then, we just have to wait for Arkham City.

Ok, that's pretty much it for today. Have to actually get some time in with Birth By Sleep so I can give some impressions next time. In the meantime, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Due Date


You just can't keep a shitty franchise down...

Yup. Duke Nukem lives again. I really don't get the continuing appeal of this franchise. It hasn't even been good since it's heyday of 2D sharware, much less it's unexplainable explosion of popularity by going to 3D and ripping off everything from Doom to Evil Dead. Nevertheless, it just won't seem to die. Of course, I dunno what anyone's expecting at this point, the game has been in the works in some form or another for like 15 years. The final product, assuming it ever actually comes out, will probably be extremely dissapointing, we've seen it before with games that take multiple generations of consoles to be made such as Kameo & Too Human. Granted, 2K games is no slouch, but we already are overloaded with ridiculous macho heroes in games, I don't see this making much of a dent.

Ok so rather than outright buying, I ended up renting both Metroid: Other M and Disney's Guilty Party. Metroid: Other M's flaws are fairly apparent right from the get go, but easily the biggest flaw is the godawful story and acting. Nintendo's never reallytried to put together a deep story for any of their flagship characters, and this is a prime example that they probably shouldn't. And there's better acting in porn. The saving grace is probably the combat. Sure, first person is clunky, but it's handled well enough that it's not an issue and moves she as jumping on an enemy and shooting it in the head never get old. I'll probably pick it up somewhere down the line, but honestly I've got several lengthy rpgs in my backlog I'd rather work on first.

Guilty Party on the other hand is a surpring delight (aside from the incredibly annoying theme song). The  characters you can play are varied and interesting. The minigames are admittedly mediocre, but the game's Clue-esque mystery solving is it's biggest draw. This isa pretty prime exmple that casual isn't a dirty word and can be fun and done extremely well if actual effort is put into it.

Finally, a bit further thought on the whole Xbox live price hike. Last time I commented that it seems like a lot just to play Halo. But as Tycho has rightfully pointed out, I am one of those who doesn't really play online much(the last game I seriously got into online was Halo 3), so the value of easy matchmaking and cross-game chat along with various other subtle but important differences easily make the soon to be $5 are month a worthwhile investment for most. However, seeing as my primary uses are things I would get equal performance of on other consoles (netflix streaming)  or would get for free anyways (updates, most demos, etc.), it's still not a worthile investment for me personally.

Ok, that's pretty much all for today but I should most definitely be back by Tueday with thoughts on Birth By Sleep and Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions along with anything else that goes down. Til then, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: KA-BLOOM