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Jeff Blog

Hello there! For reasons that are probably obvious to most of you, I'm not going to continue posting to this blog. If you'd like to keep up with me, I can be found at the following address:

If you are after things like "what Jeff thinks about games or music or movies or gas prices" or "points-related video," it will appear on this new personal site for now.


So, yeah, wow. Rock Band. While I've certainly seen it before and had a handful of chances to play it, there's nothing quite like getting it home and being able to put it through its paces without the watchful eyes of your peers or game company representatives making sure you aren't sucking at it.

As planned, I've been sticking to the drums, starting on easy, and working my way through. Don't forget to calibrate your set. While I play Guitar Hero with no offset on my LCD screen, Rock Band seems to think I'm about 30 milliseconds ahead or behind, I can't really tell which. Either way, after calibrating, my 90% finishes started going up to 96 or 98%.

It's tough to play drums because I'm used to using the drums to keep time. But now I'm keeping time, and that's weird. While I've thumped out beats on a drum machine before, sticks anda foot pedal are way, way different. I think I understand why so many drummers can't seem to get through a song without speeding up significantly over the course of a song. It's that feeling of knowing what you're supposed to hit next, but you have to restrain yourself and hit it at the right time. It's easy to get ahead of yourself, I guess. And everyone else in the band is playing to your time-keeping, so if you speed up, they speed up with you and the whole song sounds sloppy.

Rock Band doesn't do that, obviously, but it'd be pretty cool if it did. Maybe have the players speed up and slow down to your tempo, then judge how well you stayed in time, as well as how accurately you hit the right pads or something? That's probably asking a bit much, I guess.

After two hours of drumming, I now have twoblisters on my left pinky. Nintendo's always been super wary of anything that causes blisters (remember that Mario Party glove?), but Rock Band doesn't seem to care. Actually, maybe there's something deep in the manual about it, but there's no big goofy health screen or flyer in the box that says "WEAR GLOVES WHILE PLAYING, DON'T BE A FOOL." Maybe they realize that drumming in gloves is for punks.

A few more scattered things;

- The cover of Jukebox Hero is pretty good.

- The standard Xbox Live Marketplace menus are an awful way to buy downloadable tracks. They need to patch in some sort of in-game store, pronto. There are already too many things available to download for the stanard presentation to handle, and with more stuff coming every week, it's going to become impossible to deal with.

- My hardware works, though I can feel the bass pedal bend a bit when I hit it. As I get better at the game and start using the pedal more and more forcefully, I'm worried that it'll snap. But not so worried that I'll spend any time trying to strap any metal pieces to it or anything like that.

- While I like Guitar Hero III, I'm having a hard time seeing myself going back to it, partially because I like the Rock Band guitar so much. Maybe Activision will eventually cave in and patch in support for the Rock Band guitar.

- I need to start reading up on software that converts USB gamepad button presses into MIDI signals so I can wire up the drum kit to my PC and use it as a cheap set of V-Drums.

-I think I'm probably going to spend most of my Thanksgiving break behind a set of fake drums.

- Playing bass is also awesome.

- This game needs an online version of Band World Tour. I feel like I'm missing out on the game's most dynamic mode just because outside of the people I work with, none of my friends will ever be any good at any aspect of this game.


I was in a Best Buy the other night and they had knocked $20 off of the Legendary Edition version of Halo 3 and $10 off the Limited Edition. They had stacks and rows of helmets on sale.

Needless to say, I sort of feel like a sucker every time I look at my helmet now. Mine's still on a shelf in my bedroom, watching me sleep and silently cursing my name as I play other, non-Halo shooters.

So if you bought one, where's your helmet now? How do you feel about owning it these days?

The game business is weird...

...and this sentence sums up why.

"Developed by acclaimed developer, Gearbox Software, Samba De Amigo will be exclusively available for the Wii in spring 2008."

This is not me doubting that Gearbox can make a good Samba de Amigo game. This is me thinking it's really out of left-field that the developer that brought you Brothers in Arms, the Halo port for PC, and the announcement that they may, someday, if they get around to it, make a Heat game is working on an update of a maracas-shaking rhythm game originally made by Sonic Team for the Dreamcast. Starring a monkey.

Totally natural fit for the Wii, so I'm pretty excited. Samba's one of the reasons why I still occasionally hook up my Dreamcast.

Best Week Ever: Wii Virtual Console Edition

This week's games are Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels and Sin & Punishment. The first game eventually found its way to the US as part of that Super Mario All-Stars collection that came out on the SNES, but it's the game that the Japanese know as Super Mario Bros. 2. It's pretty tough. Sin & Punishment is a late-model N64 shooter that has things in common with games like Space Harrier and Panzer Dragoon. I have fond memories of it due to getting the import, but it never received a US release. It's totally awesome that we're finally seeing games that didn't come out in this country and I hope we see more of it.

Actually, now that S&P is out, I'm hoping that we'll start seeing games that were never actually released at all. At the last SpaceWorld convention, Nintendo showed an underwater tank game for the N64 called Echo Delta. I didn't get to spend much time with it, but it certainly seemed rad. It was scheduled to be released and the game looked mostly complete... but it got canned. It'd be super rad if Nintendo dug up the game, did whatever it needed to be fully finished, and released it.

Horrible Grinding Noise, Extreme Confusion, Stunned Silence

The office's Xbox 360 Elite just died today. Pretty crazy, and not at all a red ring error. Was loading upa game, and all of a sudden a sound starting coming out of the system that made it sound like it was grinding the disc into a million pieces, or at least putting a deep gouge into the bottom of the disc. I freaked out and popped the drive, the disc was still spinning in the tray. After putting it back it, it started to grind again, then a quiet whirring noise, then silence.

The drive's totally dead. Now it just whirs and makes a bit of a beeping noise and lists any disc I put in it as "unplayable." I went ahead and filed a regular support claim with Microsoft, mostly because I'm curious to see how long it takes to fix. Some people are reporting as much as a two-month turnaround on busted consoles these days, which is totally nuts.