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MrCHUP0N Blog

Happy New Year! A podcast approaches; e-mail in.

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Happy 2010, everyone. I hope you've all recovered from your midnight celebrations and made it through the first day of the new year without any serious hangovers (for those who drink) or immense fatigue (for those who stay up all night after the ball drops). Pete, Al and I are celebrating the new year by recording a podcast for you all on Saturday, January 2nd, 2010. For some of you, that's in about 12 hours. For others, 15. Whatever the case may be, you might want to send in some email to the mailbag -- mailbag AT trigames DOT net (or you can use the FORM). After technical difficulties, 157 was posted successfully recently, so hit that up if you haven't yet. 158 will be all about Final Fantasy. The Game segment (the name of which is no longer Game Spiel--you'll have to listen to episode 157 to find out the name) will be about the 32-bit Final Fantasies (specifically VII, VIII and IX; no Tactics or other side stories), which will segue into the main topic of "Why Do We Play Final Fantasy?" as posted by 1up.com's Jeremy Parish. So give us an e-holler by noon, Saturday, January 2nd, 2010, EASTERN STANDARD TIME and we'll read your letter on the "air."

Holiday Quiz Madness: Final Fantasy Fighting Music

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Nobuo Uematsu has long been one of my favorite videogame music composers, ever since I played my first "proper" Final Fantasy game in 1991 (that being Final Fantasy II on the Super NES, more appropriately known nowadays as Final Fantasy IV). Through over ten iterations of Final Fantasy, Uematsu has evolved his style while keeping certain trademarks alive.

Of his works, it's quite likely that the most recognizable tunes Uematsu has composed are the themes that play when players are forced into battle. Well, duh: With a standard battle theme for each game, it's the piece of music most repeated throughout a player's experience. Well, that and whatever standard theme exists for an overworld map.

Seeing as I have recently re-integrated myself into the world of Final Fantasy for the sake of studying VIII's junction system, I thought I'd kick off the upcoming holiday by bringing back the little music quizzes I used to do. This one, as I've telegraphed above, involves the battle themes from the first nine iterations of Final Fantasy. As such, it won't be quite that difficult; after all, these are some of the more recognizable tunes in franchise history. But who wants to break a sweat during a holiday? It's a time for fun and relaxation, so it's probably best not to start off with something maddeningly difficult. (I'll save that for Saturday.)

With that, allons y! Follow the link to the youTube video and keep this window open to leave your answers / guesses in the comments.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lb4HQbl2bos&feature=player_embedded

(Sadly, the Gamespot video uploader doesn't want to cooperate, so I'll have to refer you to the version I uploaded on youTube for the time being. Please bear with it--I'll try to upload another version soon if I can figure out why the one I've been trying to upload keeps failing to encode.)

Revisiting the Nemesis: The Final Fantasy VIII Logs (12-21-2009)

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The Playstation Network re-release of Final Fantasy VIII happened much quicker than I would have imagined. When I came home from the airport late Thursday night, my podcast co-host Al informed me that Sony had just thrown the game online and I immediately booted up the MediaGo software to begin downloading it. $9.99 (plus tax) and five hours of sleep later, I had Final Fantasy VIII on my Playstation Portable--PSP, as acronym-loving humans like to call it. Considering that I had put in a handful of hours before the PSN release, starting it over again on the PSP would mean that those console hours would go to waste. Well, say hello to the wastebasket, hours.

I haven't done much with the PSP release yet since I've been busy with other obligations, so I haven't even reached the point where I stopped on the PSone (that being just after finishing the SeeD exam). I did get a chance to see how the emulation fared on the PSP, and so far it works just fine. Pete, our third podcast member, told me he heard that when Final Fantasy VII was released on PSN, a critic on another podcast mentioned something that implied that the emulation was pretty bad. I hadn't experienced that with FFVII in particular, myself, and in the limited time I've spent with FFVIII, I haven't experienced bad emulation either. I will say that it's slightly irritating to not have that second set of shoulder buttons, since it forces you to map the L2 and R2 commands to either the d-pad or the analog nub. I liked playing FFVIII with the analog stick on the Dual Shock (it's more accurate on the world map), and obviously using the d-pad for menu commands (it's way more precise), so being forced to choose one or the other was a bit saddening. But that's just a small gripe inherent with the PSone-to-PS3 conversion, obviously.

There are a lot of conflicting comments on my previous blog, mostly pertaining to how to best play the game, with a few Final Fantasy VIII detractors here and there. This all seems to ultimately speak to Final Fantasy VIII's greatest strength: There are so many ways to play the game, that depending on how you play it, you might love it or hate it equally. I'm not talking about Oblivion / Fallout "ways to play" in terms of your decisions and their impact on the game world around you but rather how you choose to customize your characters' abilities and whether you choose to spam Guardian Forces; use or not use magic; power-up your party by leveling up traditionally, or not leveling and instead relying completely on the Junction system; et cetera. It's actually quite fascinating, really, and it's precisely the reason I chose to give the game a second whirl. I have to re-iterate that no matter how interesting or deep a game is, if it doesn't end up coming together for me--and that's a totally subjective, je ne sais quois type of thing, as it is for everyone--my opinion won't be making that 180-degree shift to the positive. But in fairness, no matter what happens in the end, I'll definitely be glad I gave it a shot.

Send an email and WIN something (maybe) (You got 1 day left!)

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Hey! Remember this from yesterday? No, you don't, because you don't have photosynthetic memory (I know, that makes no sense), so here it is again.

Just so you don't miss out on the opportunity to win something (it could either be crappy, or it could be super awesome--I have no idea yet; YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO WAIT IN SUSPENSE!), don't forget to contribute to our mailbag for this week's podcast. All the details are in this previous blog post.

If you have NO idea what I'm talking about, just click that link above and take a quick read. If you have no idea what the podcast is, click THIS link. And if you have no idea where to email us, then click THIS link. Just remember--the deadline for submitting mail for this week's episode is noon Eastern Standard Time on December 19th, which is this coming Saturday.

By the way, there's this:

[video=ISA7kDb-5bkPujTa]

No, it's NOT yesterday's Dragonball vid. It's more awesomer. Or less. I can't decide.

Hm, it was way back when I was fatter, so I'll say it's less awesomer than the Dragonball vid.

Send an Email and Win Something (You got 2 days left!)

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Just so you don't miss out on the opportunity to win something (it could either be crappy, or it could be super awesome--I have no idea yet; YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO WAIT IN SUSPENSE!), don't forget to contribute to our mailbag for this week's podcast. All the details are in this previous blog post.

If you have NO idea what I'm talking about, just click that link above and take a quick read. If you have no idea what the podcast is, click THIS link. And if you have no idea where to email us, then click THIS link. Just remember--the deadline for submitting mail for this week's episode is noon Eastern Standard Time on December 19th, which is this coming Saturday.

By the way, there's this:

[video=IyYwxWD_5bIJujLd]

Yeah, it's random, but it's an old favorite of mine. (I can't believe my brain still works after having to review that game...)

Revisiting the Nemesis: The Final Fantasy VIII Logs (12-17-09)

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Earlier in the week, I wrote about revisiting Final Fantasy VIII, a game I managed to loathe after my first run with it. Often I look back on things that were deemed quality experiences by others (this extends past videogames--movies, most notably Michael Mann's "Collateral"; music; books) and start to think about the things I missed. With Final Fantasy VIII, I realized that I never really explored the Junction system fully; this was mainly because I didn't "have" to, but I felt that perhaps I ended up missing the point. On the Sunday before I wrote that editorial, I had already initiated a new game, and I've made some cursory progress (thanks to my self-proclaimed, most likely WAY overblown ability to multitask) while battling a juxtaposition of insomnia and narcolepsy. (Neither diagnosis is clinical; in fact, I'm just a nutcase.)

(Before I even continue, I should point this out. Final Fantasy VIII is due out on the Playstation Network "soon." Now, I'm playing my dusty old CD of Final Fantasy VIII from September 9, 1999. Having it on my PSP would be so much more convenient, given how little time I actually have to sit down and play a console, and given how wretchedly annoying it is to lug consoles around with me as I travel for my job. This first Final Fantasy VIII Log entry may very well be the last one for quite a while; it all depends on when it appears on the Playstation Store. If its release date is within the next month or so, then I'll stop playing right now and wait for the download. If it doesn't come out until--say--March, then I will press on. Oh yes, I will press on.)

With that, here's my report thus far.

I'm about four hours into the game. I've just finished the SeeD exam portion, where Squall, Zell, Seifer and later Selphie move to stop the Galbadian advance into Dollet. I've spent most of my time drawing in battles, and in fact spent about ten minutes--while on a phone call for work in my hotel room, no less--drawing from this one poor hapless soldier until Squall and Zell had 100 units each of Fire, Blizzard and Thunder. (Screw Seifer--I literally did nothing with him.)

My focus is on taking a deep dive into junctioning and GF abilities. The first thing I aimed for after getting GF Boost for each of mY GFs was learning their refinement skills so that I could set about experimenting with that. Right now, there's not much I can do with regards to junctions since I only have Shiva, Ifrit, Siren and Quezacotl. Squall is the only one with an elemental junction (I've attached the 100 Fires he has to Attack), and across my characters I can really only junction to Attack Power and Spirit. However, I'm definitely anticipating the multitude of things I can do later on in the game when I've more attributes to which I can junction.

However fascinating junctions and GFs are to me, I can't help but be a little unsettled by how similar characters end up being so far. Bear in mind, the following is a generalization, I'm still very early on in the game, and I'm going by my memory of my first run over ten years ago. Yet, when I look at it, how are the characters so vastly different from each other when you take away their limit breaks? Focusing on what really makes them go--Guardian Forces and the resulting junctions--how is Zell all that different from Selphie when you're able to trade magic and GF's between them? I definitely appreciate how your characters are supposed to build affinity with their GF's, and how you're supposed to customize your characters differently to get the most out of the game, but I think this makes each character--from a gameplay perspective--more of a shell with which you play around instead of a wholly unique individual.

Let me clarify. Almost every Final Fantasy up until this point has made each character play some sort of job-based role. Final Fantasy VI started down the precarious path of "everyone can do anything"--with everyone being able to equip Espers and learn every spell--but each character could still be very effective in other ways besides magic (well, unless everyone learned Ultima. That's where the game starts to fall apart a bit, and it pains me to say it). Sabin could still wreck fools with his martial arts techniques; Edgar's tools had certain purposes; Relm had her portraits; Cyan's swordtechs were lethal... you get the point. With Final Fantasy VIII, I feel like instead of developing Squall's inherent abilities and "job" functions, I'm simply customizing Party Member A with junctions and he just happens to have a leather jacket and be named Squall. Is this a problem? I suppose not; I guess I've just been wired to expect that certain JRPG individuals are meant for certain things, and you develop their tree of skills from that unique starting point. And, once again, I'm probably going to be proven quite wrong once I put more hours into it. I'm regurgitating stuff here, but bear in mind that the last time I played it, it was ten years ago, and almost all I did 95% of the time was spam the GF command and hardly had any trouble surviving.

Of course, the ways in which each character is truly special in Final Fantasy VIII is through the story. I get that. I'm not ignoring the story, really; the thing is, I know what happens, and I'm really in this go round just for the gameplay. So, when cutscenes happen and I can't skip them, I start to get agitated, which leads into me remembering just why I had enough of the game by the third disc. (This isn't a good sign for my ability to overlook its flaws for the sake of enjoying its positives, but hopefully I can persevere.) I'm noticing how oddly sophomoric the dialogue is at the beginning. It could simply be a cultural difference, though. I'm talking about things like Zell pantomiming his punches at Seifer before they go up the communication tower, then Seifer saying, "What's this? Swatting flies?" before walking away, and then Zell saying, "Dammit!" and trembling with rage. I mean, who does that? What's that all about? How is what Seifer said such an insult to Zell's integrity to the point where Zell looks like he's about to explode? To me, Seifer's comment was about as witty as the old "Why did the chicken cross the road?" joke. No one older than ten years old would be insulted by that. To be clear, this isn't so much a criticism as much as it is just me being puzzled at some of the writing choices being made. It probably makes perfect sense to a certain audience, perhaps a younger audience, and in the grand scheme of things I realize that it doesn't matter... but it's something I've been noticing for sure.

That's it for now. I'll pour some more onto virtual paper as I get further in the game... if I decide to continue playing. That's a decision I'll make after I find out exactly when Final Fantasy VIII will make its U.S. debut on the Playstation Network.

(Note: This first log is going up as an editorial to spark discussion, but I won't be spamming future editions to the Soapbox. If you're interested in further discussion and following my eye-opening journey, I hope you'll keep up with me.)

Rename Game Spiel, win a prize! Dunno what. (Oh, and we're doing God of War.)

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For this week's Game Spiel segment on the Trigames.NET Podcast we're going to discuss God of War, so yeah. Consider that fair warning. You've now two and a half full days to come up with a question or comment or story about your experience with the original God of War.

If you're wondering just what the hell Game Spiel is, it's our "new" segment in which the three of us discuss our experiences with a game we've all played for a significant length of time. This ends up being kind of a more "in-depth" and cooperative "what you've been playing" segment in that we've all played the game, so it's not just one person talking and the others listening, and we're also looking at it in hindsight and talking about what came before it and what's come after it.

Now, about "Game Spiel." I don't like this name. It's, as the French call it, Les Dumbs. If you want to win something--and I don't know exactly what you'd win, but I'll think about it--send in your idea. Here's how we'll handle it:

1) Email us at mailbag AT trigames DOT net or use this form here. (If you use the form, make sure the "mailbag" radio button is checked.)

2) Supply your mailing address for the giveaway. It might be something really dumb, but hey, it'll be free.

3) Contribute to the discussion either by asking a question about the game or recounting a tale of your experience with the game or just giving us a general, insightful comment about the game.

4) Finally, cap off with your idea for a new name for the segment!

5) GET YOUR EMAIL INTO US BY DECEMBER 19th, 2009, NOON EASTERN STANDARD TIME. That's when we'll be recording. Any later and, pfffft!

6) PLEASE NOTE: Just slapping a comment below with a proposed name won't count. You gots ta email us.

Just so you know... we reserve the right to not pick a winner if ALL THE NAMES SUCK, in true Jeremy Parish fashion.

Our main topic is going to be:

THE TERRIBLE TWOs!

Mario 2, Zelda 2, Castlevania 2 and Metroid 2 (sort of) were all significantly different than their forebears in some way. Nowadays, we rarely see that. Discuss. Why do we think that is? What did we think of the radically different games? What game sequel do we think would work today as a "terrible two" ("terrible" simply being part of a catchphrase as opposed to a marker of quality) in the same vein as Mario/Zelda/Castlevania 2?

Again, you should definitely send us your comments or questions on this topic, to the SAME e-mail address / using the same form as above. You can send a comment/question/anecdote about the main topic instead of God of War if you wish, and still be eligible for winning our stupid contest; just remember that you have to do everything else as specified above.

Revisiting The Nemesis

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[Update: I'm logging my progress and thoughts. First edition here.]

Sometimes your initial evaluation of a game comes when you're at a point in your life when you're either not ready for, interested in, or understanding of what it has to offer. You might not be able to grasp its complexities; you might be too impatient; you might miss what lies deep inside the gameplay because of another potential flaw that you just can't ignore. Whatever the case may be, you might look back on it and think to yourself, "Maybe I should give it another shot. Maybe I should 'play it right' this time."

For me, that game is Final Fantasy VIII.

By my own recollections, Final Fantasy VIII was the most divisive entry in the Final Fantasy series at the height of its popularity. There was an even split within the small group of my personal friends who had played it: three of us sang its praises, and three of us lambasted it. (This continued with acquaintances I made online on the GameFAQs forums, though I can't quite recall if it was anywhere near an even split.) The positives were typical for a Final Fantasy game: ambitious story; well-directed and pretty cutscenes; an innovative new gameplay system; and tons of nooks and crannies to explore.

I countered with the typical "get up and make a sandwich" arguments: call up a Guardian Force mid-battle (this game's version of summons and/or espers), and you'd probably have enough time to set down the controller and make yourself a quick ham-and-cheese. I had a problem with the tedium of the Draw system, which had you siphoning magic spells from enemies or from specific points in world and area maps. I further took issue with the way this turned magic into a commodity--stocking 99 instances of Cure took something away from the spirit of a magic spell, making it seem less like something earned by, owned by, or inherent within a character and more like a six-pack you'd pick up at the market. The Junctioning system would have paid off for it--had I not cast it aside due to being frustrated by the former issues. I can recall summoning Guardian Forces through 97% of my gameplay experience--which spanned across the first three discs before I decided enough was enough--and doing just fine.

Over the years since I stopped playing Final Fantasy VIII (since 2000), I started to wonder where it all went wrong for me. I was in college and I (supposedly) had more time to muck around, which I theorize to mean that there was more time for my faux-A.D.D. to kick in and demand that I spend less time waiting for a Guardian Force animation to finish. No, instead I should actually be "playing" my games--failing at Bushido Blade, slicing up fools in Soul Calibur, dunking and shotblocking in NBA 2K1, learning abilities and throwing out Eidolons in the leaner, simpler Final Fantasy IX and busting out sick moves in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3. Yet, every so often I'd look back at the Junction system, rich with possibilities for tailoring even the smallest aspects of your characters to make them more effective in battle. Sure, I didn't exactly need to use it in my playtime, which was what ultimately led me to give up on the entire game. But what if I decided to give it another shot and play it "correctly"?

The desire to revisit the game reached another level when, on our podcast (The Trigames.NET Podcast), I was discussing something I heard on Gameslaves Radio--a (sadly) now defunct independent gaming podcast featuring Pete (a.k.a. Ryvvn, who is now a cast member on our show)--about God of War not being entirely enjoyable due to its button-mash nature. Any of us who's played and enjoyed God of War know that there are benefits to be had by actually executing hard-hitting, lengthy combos to maximize the amount of red orbs you get from enemies, thereby increasing your potential to learn special moves. Pete's contention, however, was the same as mine with Final Fantasy VIII: He didn't have to do anything other than mash and dodge to succeed at the game, so he just mashed and dodged. "Play it with technique in mind," I countered, "and you'll see how it benefits you and enhances your experience." Hmm--maybe I should try following my own advice.

The tipping point came when I started playing Titan Quest. Known affectionately as the best Diablo clone out there by I imagine quite a few people, Titan Quest was a game that I enjoyed enough to keep playing for some length of time without getting sick of it. I got sick of Diablo and Diablo II back when they were released, what with the incessant clicking, so what was different this time? I was in a different mindset: I was chasing after items so that I could apply runes to them, upgrade them, and see what I could come up with. I was enjoying the less brutally obvious aspects of the game, specifically its customization opportunities. I finally looked past the annoying mechanics of a PC-based, click-and-slash action-RPG. There's no reason I couldn't try the same with Final Fantasy VIII.

My cohost on the podcast, Al, beat me to the punch and started playing it again. Hearing him talk about Junctioning, refinement and Guardian Force abilities finally sealed the deal, and I started replaying Final Fantasy VIII on Sunday night. I'm eager to find out if I'll be able to overlook my previous issues with the game and explore the depths of its gameplay systems. Past Final Fantasy VIII, I think the bigger picture here is finding out whether or not I can go back and enjoy--from renewed perspectives--games with which I previously became disillusioned. Luigi's Mansion (GCN), F-Zero: Maximum Velocity (GBA), Shadow of the Colossus (PS2) and the aforementioned Diablo and Diablo II--if I'm able to come away from Final Fantasy VIII unscathed, these are all titles that I hope to revisit some day.

What about you? Are there any games you cast aside back in the day, only to return years later to restart it from the beginning with a renewed mindset? What were the results?

You've got until noon EST, 12/12/2009...

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...to send in a mailbag question before we record the podcast. Just sayin'. We're talking about our experience with New Super Mario Brothers, Tony Hawk going to bat for his latest and much-maligned game (Tony Hawk Ride), and if we have time, discuss a hot topic on fellow Gamespot user bacchus2's blog right over here. Please send in questions and comments on any of the above, or any gaming related shnizzle.

"Where do I send mail?"

Well duh! mailbag AT trigames DOT! net, or click here and select the "Mailbag" radio button.

Holiday Wishlust--er, list.

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My videogame backlog is huge, as many of you following me or our podcast already know. I'm still trying to unlock world 7 in New Super Mario Bros. (after just having unlocked world 4 less than a week ago), since I took the rushed, short path to world 8 and put it away for awhile. I'm still trying to work through Final Fantasy III on DS and Final Fantasy V Advance on GBA. Let's forget about my Xbox 360 and Wii games; I'm still only 6 hours into Final Fantasy X on Playstation 2, and I haven't played it in a year. And how can I even think about playing Dragon Age when I've yet to play Baldur's Gate? Yes folks--that's how far back my backlog goes. And yet I do stupid things like go out and buy Scribblenauts, even when I've heard so many bad things about it, only to find out that all of those bad things have been said for a reason. (In other words... who wants to buy my copy?)

So let's forget about the games on this wishlist. Including non-gaming items, here are some of the things I'm frothing at the mouth for...

Windows 7

I totally skipped out on Windows Vista for my personal use. I had my first real taste of it on my new work laptop, which I received in July, and while there were things I had to get used to, there were also things I liked about it. Aside from the odd application which didn't work (Gamebridge recording? Sorry, no go...), I'm satisfied with Vista--at least for my work machine. With that--and the fact that Windows 7 is supposed to be "the good version" of Vista, I'm totally on board with it. Of course, I will definitely dual-boot at home for any games and other apps that don't work with it (which is the same thing I did with 98 and XP back in the day), but I'm intrigued by all its new interface tricks and its sheer lean-ness compared to Vista. I'm ready for the facelift.

DSi

No, I don't want a DSi XL. I saw the LL, its Japanese forebear, in the flesh and that thing is monstrous. I do, however, want the DSi for the potential that its online store holds. Right now the only things I'm really interested in are the Art Sty|e games, and I'm honestly just content with my DS lite--so yeah, it seems like a bit of a tough sell. But I still really want to experience the few good things that the DSi Shop has to offer and, hey, this is a gift wishlist, meaning that I'm not the one who has to pay for it. This segues quite nicely into...

PSP go

I'd say that I want this thing far more than I do a DSi. Now, this thing has been villified more than I expected it to be, and it's mainly because of its price point. The more I think about it, though, the more I feel like it would be perfect for me. I have a problem staying focused on one game or a small set of games (hence my enormous backlog). I like to jump around a lot. So when I bought Prinny, Final Fantasy VII, Wild ARMs and Mana Khemia from the Playstation Store and found that I really had to restrain myself from amassing a huge invoice, I realized that something like the PSP go was for me. This is odd because I really, really like having physical copies of games, and I wish there were a solution that let you buy UMDs and port their contents into a PSP go, but due to the nature of my job and my faux-A.D.D. brain, toting around a machine with ten-plus full-length games sitting in storage--at my finger tips--just seems ideal for me. (Note the "full-length" part. Otherwise I'd have replaced this entry with "iPod Touch".)

Motorola Droid...or a second-gen version of it

I'm not one to early-adopt a phone. Videogame consoles? Sure. But never a phone--not before, at least. Which is why I'm trying to patiently wait for a second iteration of the Motorola Droid--or a similar device--to be released. They say that the physical keyboard is "meh," that while performance is fast some small bits of functionality is unchacteristically choppy, that its got stupid issues like no physical "Talk" button (you have to access the dialer through a widget)... and I want to get the better version. But you know what? I'm also an impatient cretin. My Blackberry Curve 8330 is grinding to a halt and I absolutely hate the web browser that RIM puts out. (Bolt Browser and Opera Beta 5 are great for Blackberry devices, but let's face it: They're NO match for webkit-powered mobile browsers like Chrome and Safari.) So why not an iPhone? I'm on Verizon and plan to stay on it. Then why not a Droid Eris? I absolutely need a physical keyboard--not because I'm inept with a touch keyboard, but because I detest touch keyboards (which is also a reason against the iPhone).

Playstation 3 Slim

There's absolutely no reason for me to have one, but I just want one. My 20GB has the backwards compatibility I need and there's no significant space savings that the Slim could afford with the way my TV entertainment center / console is built. But again: I just want one. Maybe it's the fact that it has built-in Wi-Fi, or a 120GB hard drive, or a sleeker look, but I just want one. Now, for totally different reasons, I want a....

Modern Warfare 2 Edition Xbox 360

My Xbox 360 was purchased in June of 2006, when I believe the units were still prone to red-ringing. Now, I haven't gotten any red rings yet--knock on wood--but the drive is misbehaving. It'll be standing vertically, and when I press Eject, the lid won't open. I'll stand it horizontally, and the same thing will happen until I hit it lightly from the top. Then I'll put in a disc, but the lid will spit it right back out. So then the solution is to put the disc on the tray, stand the thing vertically while keeping the disc in the tray, and close the lid. It's a big mess, and I'm scared that at some point it's just going to fry. Plus, with the MW2 Edition being the only way to get a 250GB hard drive for the foreseeable future, I'm really wishing that I just didn't own an Xbox 360 already and that this would be a justified splurge/gift. (And if I get it, whoever wants my copy of Modern Warfare 2 can have it... as a contest prize. I'll get the PC version kthxbye.)

Wireless N router

Just so I can be future-"proof" (note the quotation marks). I'm still on 802.11b, nevermind g. 'Nuff said. And to go with my Wireless N router...

A good powerful netbook

I don't know anything about installing TVersity or other things onto my PS3, and frankly, I don't want to. Not when I can, with the aid of a simple VGA cable and audio jack-in, plug my laptop into my TV and watch Hulu on it. But you know what? I don't like lugging out my work laptop. It would be nice to have a netbook that just sits in the living room and does casual duty, and I can keep my work laptop in my room where it belongs (too much temptation to watch TV while working... not a good thing). Plus, if it's powerful enough, I could edit the podcast in the living room while eating lunch/dinner from a comfortable sitting/lying position. Or maybe the answer to that latter one is getting a nice cushy office chair in my room.

Hell, why not?

A nice cushy office chair

Duh.

A good, 19" LCD TV--like the Samsung LN19B361

In my bedroom, my gaming consoles are hooked up to an LCD computer monitor, and the sound is routed to computer speakers (2 front, 2 rear). It's not ideal, there are wires floating everywhere, and I have to deal with a dual VGA box + connection switcher solution which was awesome back in the day but is now just a burden. Now there are issues with the Wii and PS2 going between 480i and 480p: One VGA box doesn't play nice with 480i, and the other one doesn't play nice with 480p so I have to switch back and forth depending on what game I'm playing. Not ideal. It's time to grow up and get a television in my bedroom. *Nod*

Zune HD

Here comes the early adopter dilemma again. There are rumblings about how it won't update your Zune Social profile properly with what you've been listening to, and 32GB of space is just too small for me... but dammit, I want it for the interface. I hate that I get sucked into all the slickness of the newest Zune software on my PC, but my Zune 120 doesn't do any of that. (Which isn't to say that the Zune 80/120 firmware is crap--it's really nice to use, but the newest version is just that much better.)