5 reasons the digital age is bad for gamers

Yes the digital age is coming. Hell in some aspects it's already here. PCs and consoles have tons of downloadable content and games you can only get through online channels, and many are awaiting the "glorious" day where everything will be download-only, cutting out middle-man brick & mortar stores, which would hopefully lead to cheaper prices (yeah, right and Superman 64 is the best game ever). But in my opinion, the move anytime soon to a strictly digital service like say Steam, is a terrible, terrible idea, and here's 5 perfectly good reasons why:

5. The waiting/space game: Full retail games are humongous downloads. Odds are most people these days are no more than 15 minutes from somewhere they can pick up the latest videogame. A game the size of your average retail title could take far longer than that to download and install, and though hard drives are getting bigger and bigger, they could eat up your space fairly quickly, especially if you keep more on your hard drive than just games.

4. Rushed or unfinished games: This is already a huge issue. Games ship all the time nowadays with huge bugs or missing content that was promised for launch to be fixed later via a patch. I get why this happens, I mean everyone has to deal with budget and time constraints and sometimes you just have to get a game out the door. But the fact that many companies can now get away with releasing sloppy or unfinished products is probably only going to get worse, I'm sure somebody will try gouging gamers for an episodic game released in parts.

3.  Cutting off your audience: Here's a hard slap in the face: The internet isn't nearly as widespread and influential as most people on the internet think. If that was the case, Firefly & Arrested Development would still be on the and Scott Pilgrim would be the highest-grossing film of all time. A rather large portion of the population owns consoles and has never connected them to the internet. Hell only about 6% actually purchase dlc. Doesn't mean it won't grow and expand, it will, but there's just too huge a market of people who don't have the access or don't want to bother with it. Hell I'm extremely internet savvy and I rarely buy dlc, maybe a couple titles a year. It will be a huge mistake to try and go purely digital anytime soon (see the PSPGO for a prime example of this).

2. Pricing: With taking games away from the traditional brick and mortar settings, we are pretty much subject to whatever the publisher wants to charge for as long as they want. This means no $15-20 giftcards that stores often provide as incentives, arguably far less sales and price drops as DLC now as it stands stays fairly firm on price on long periods of time. Granted, in a purely digital age, the market may adjust accordingly, but seeing as many titles that have been available for years have seen little to no change in price except for the once in a blue moon sale, I seriously doubt it.

1. The disappearance of the second-hand market: Yes yes, everybody hates the evil, evil Gamestop and their pawnshop-esque practices and their hardly-used new games for the incredibly low price of $5 less than brand new. But really the second-hand market helps gamers far more than it hurts. It saves gamers money allowing to to buy more titles than they normally would and also it allows you to get older out of print titles for usually a pretty reasonable price. In a digital age, this goes away. If I always have to pay full price for games, I'm buying a lot less. Also what if a company decides to no longer offer a game for download? What, you have to wait for them to hopefully re-release it? There are some things that should be fixed and developers should certainly get some share especially now that everybody seems to be jumping into used games but the death of the second-hand market will drastically alter the landscape of gaming in general, and in my opinion not in a good way for the most part.

Ok, this will be my last post for a little while, as I am getting married next week and going on my honeymoon, I should be back to posting regularly in late November (probably fairly close to when Epic Mickey finally hits). In the meantime, I leave you with the FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: EPIC COMBO!


Schafer leaves me wanting a whole lot more...

Tim Schafer is a creative genius. Psychonauts, Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island. Even blunders like Brutal Legend had interesting characters and a fun story. So with that in mind we come to Double Fine's first digital release, Costume Quest, a charming funny halloween-themed rpg reminscent of classics like Earthbound that I enjoyed quite a bit. For the roughly FIVE hours it took to beat it. Seriously. And one go-through netted me nearly all the trophies, so the replay value is pretty low. Granted, I wouldn't be so annoyed if it wasn't $15, which qualifies it as an upper-tier downloadable title. And I'm not expecting an epic 20+ hour quest, 10-12 (which is about how long the Penny Arcade RPGS were) would've been perfectly acceptable. Ultimately a few really awesome hours is obviously better than stretched out mediocre ones, but these over-priced bite-sized experiences keep me from venturing into the waters of DLC more than once in a blue moon.

The biggest retail release this week may be the most non-apologetic full-priced expansion ever, Fallout: New Vegas. While many sequels could certainly be qualified as mere expansion packs, offering little new yet still charging full-price, few in recent history seem as blatant as this. Sure, it's a whole new land to explore, but pretty much everything else seems the exact same, it's more like just throwing a Vegas-style paint job over the original wasteland. I have been able to grab a rental copy and if it's a different enough experience, I'll talk about it more in my next post, but given the reviews, I doubt it.

All right, that's really all I have for today, I should be back with a post on Friday. Until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: The Warrior's Way


The state of Nintendo's E3 lineup

E3 for Nintendo fans was almost like Nintendo finally giving some serious effort to appeal to those who bought a Wii system for games that weren't for the more casual set. Metroid: Other M, Kirby's Epic Yarn, Donkey Kong Country Returns and Epic Mickey along with a couple others were leading the charge. Well, Metroid Other: M, to put it bluntly, sucked hard. It might actually be the worst game Nintendo has put their name behind that doesn't have the word "Wii" or "Olympics" in it. To be fair, this was a rare incident of Nintendo having an outside party developing the game, and that rarely turns out well (especially the developers of the extremely shallow Dead Or Alive series).

To a smaller degree Dragonquest IX & NBA Jam were supposed to supposed to help draw in gamers but frankly while they were perfectly decent releases, they didn't really set the world ablaze with their somewhat ancient gameplay mechanics. And their much touted multi-player features weren't quite up to snuff.

So with that in mind we come to Kirby's big return to a home console in Kirby's Epic Yarn. While Kirby is not one of Nintendo's big three (Mario, Link, Samus) he has been a long-running character popular with the gaming crowd, mostly on Nintendo's portable systems. The reviews are rolling in already, and while they all agree that it's a gorgeous and fun game, the average play-through of about 6 hours doesn't exactly make this more than a strong rental reccomendation imho. Not exactly the great lineup we were promised, and frankly, Goldeneye isn't looking so great. Us Wii owners will have to hope Donkey Kong & Epic Mickey deliver because Nintendo's lineup isn't living up to it's high promises so far.

Ok I should be back next weekend with another post (earlier if I can manage), in the meantime, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Road of the Dead


The Force Actually feels unleashed now

I wasn't a huge fan of the original Force Unleashed. I loved the concept mind you, and the story was arguably the best effort since the Knights of the Old Republic titles. But for a game that was supposed to make you feel like one of the most badass Jedis this side of Coruscant, you were kind of limited in your variety of powers. Sure there were a couple of nice cinematics and set pieces, but the actual action got kind of repetitive after awhile. The demo for the sequel that dropped this week however, holds a lot more promise. Your force lightning can shock scores of enemies, force push can blow away tons of foes, and you can do things like throw tie fighters into a goddamn tower! Now that seems like it's delivering a lot more of the power really promised in the original. Hopefully when it hits on the 26th, we'll get a true feeling of a really powerful Jedi.

Another title that promised huge things, but failed to deliver was the original Scribblenauts. The concept of writing virtually anything and having it appear in order to solve puzzles was a fantastic concept. The execution was terrible however, with horrid collision detection and controls. Super Scribblenauts thankfully not only fixes those issues but ads the oh so important adjectives. If you want a rabid zombie bunny, you get a rabid zombie bunny.

Finally, Sonic's long-awaited return to 2D on consoles came out on all three platforms this week with Sonic 4: Episode 1. Sure it's a return to form, but at $15 for just a few levels, it's a giant rip-off when you can pick up the far more magnificent Sonic's Ultimate Collection for only $5 more. For shame, Sega. Even when you finally do a Sonic game right you do something else wrong with it. Hopefully at some point they'll offer the whole collection for a nice cheap bundle of around $20, then it will be worthy of picking up.

That's really it for today but I should have another post up tomorrow with thoughts on Epic Kirby among other things. Til then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Drive Angry


Video Day: I got nothin'

Yeah aside from trying out demos for Comic Jumper (extremely funny, but just halfway decent gameplay) and Lords of Shadow (generic yes but better than I expected and having Patrick Stewart narrate is always a plus), I don't have much to talk about so hopefully I'll have something more concrete next time. Today is video day with random cool geeky videos from the interwebs:

8-Bit Glee

The Killing Joke, Lego style

Undercover Video Game Boss

Jersey Shore-The RPG

Total Inception

And of course your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Hemp Tycoon



That's right kiddies, one of the most awesome franchises ever makes it's return on the Wii today with the release of NBA Jam, and thankfully according to reviews, it finally brings the franchise back to form rather than bein some last desperate cash grab. It is an extremely tempting package, seein as I played it like mad during the 16-bit days, though the $50 price tag seems high for something I could've sworn was supposed to be like a $15 downloadable title. I'm sure the sheer amount of content justifies the price alone, but I dunno if I'll be picking this up right away. Hell I barely know half the guys who plaqy basketball anymore, though that was never the real appeal of this title.

Also out this week is Enslaved, an action title from the same team that gave us the underwhelming Heavenly Sword. All I can really say about it is that I played the demo and it seemed like another decent copycat action title. Not necessarily a bad title mind you, but more something to probably kill time between whatever big title you just finished and the next big one you plan on picking up.

And speaking of generic copycats, we have the "re-launching" of Castlevania with Lords of Shadow. Which in this case has gone from being a series that is pretty much the same as Metroid (i.e. focused on exploration and puzzles) to a more God of War-esque style. And again, while there's nothing really wrong with that, it sure as hell won't be what Castlevania fans are expecting, and why play a God of War clone when you can just play God of War (or Dante's Inferno on the 360, it's close enough)?

 In movie news, they've picked a director to try and bring back Superman for the umpteenth time and it's Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen). This seems like a great opportunity and I love Snyder's work, but we all thought Bryan Singer was a safe bet as well. I guess it depends on how they tackle it. It probably shouldn't be an origin story, that's one of the few things Superman Returns did correctly, but starting mostly fresh would probably be a better idea than having the baggage of any of the previous films to deal with. I do have faith that a team composed of Nolan, Goyer and Snyder probably have a better chance of making this work than anybody.

That's it for now but I should be back Friday with another post. Til then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: I am Number Four