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Nintendo DS Claims 100% Market Share in Vital Market

After a long time yapping about picking up a Nintendo DS I finally did so.

Politics


When the latest gen handhelds were announced I have to admit that I wasn’t sure what to think about either system. Initially I was leaning toward buying the PSP.


I felt that Nintendo just wasn’t doing enough to whip up games for the GameCube and that amidst those issues a new system might suffer from the same issues. Even then I thought it was unlikely that I’d pickup either system at all as I was (and still am) overwhelmed by all the other great games out there.

The months followed after every nearly press conference and game announcement and reviews I must have waffled on what system I preferred two dozen times.


All about the Dollars and the Games

Despite my PSP preference the DS did have a couple advantages for me. The first was immediate, it was the price. I just find it hard to lay down the price of a new home console on a portable system (PSP). I can see a situation where someone would want to do so but not me. This is especially true when there is an alternative system for cheaper with the next advantage.

The second advantage was unexpected and came as I sat out the releases, it was the games. I honestly didn’t expect Nintendo to throw down a game lineup like they have. Yeah a lot of the high scoring games are first party games, but in hindsight it seems clear to me now that really don’t need that many great tittles to make a portable system worthwhile, or at least not when the system is sold at a reasonable price.


The System

So I picked the system up today at Target. Their game selection is never that great and what do you know there was no Advance Wars: DS nor did they have Meteos (then again nobody seems to). So I picked up Mario Kart DS with the system and picked up Advance Wars: DS at Best Buy. I also picked up a carrying case (more about that later).

The system its self is overall quite nice, but there are a few gripes I’d toss in. The first gripe that the whole system just doesn’t feel all that solid. It seems sturdy enough but at times the plastic case feels a little fragile. Fortunately, the fragility factor is sort of offset by the handy little thumb strap, even if I would have preferred a wrist strap.

The second gripe is that the buttons seem unnecessarily small. It doesn’t have to be the xbox launch controller. Just a little bigger and I’d be quite happy.

As I noted I also picked up a case for my DS and games. I swear that 90% of gaming cases are a rip off. $20 or more for a little case that doesn’t even hold what I need? No way. Fortunately, there always seem to be one or two good cases out there. I managed to find one for less than $10 that works great. Sure it says Gameboy Advance SP on the case but it works great for my DS.


The Fun


Granted I’ve only had the system for a today but darn it is a fun system. Mario Kart can fill short or long time periods. Advance Wars longer times and even road trips. I expect Meteos will be great fun. I look at the other DS games out there the fun seems endless and notably greater than the fun I’ve had on my GBA.

No doubt my DS and I will be spending plenty of time in the car, on the plane, at home, and even occasionally hiding in the abandoned fourth floor bathroom at work.

w00t for the DS!

Bits of Bytes (Go Gophers)


Cosplay Vids  

Some of those Gamespot TGS recap videos had a cosplay scene or two that were border line work safe. *grumble*


TGS Aftermath

The TGS Aftermath page is cool. Too often sites just list a big table of videos and stories, and that’s nice and all if you’re looking for a particular video or news bit, but it is impractical if you’re looking for some highlights or just a good idea of what happened there (other than skimpy cosplay).



MGS4

You know I think this Metal Gear Solid 4 game is going to be popular…

For various reasons (other games mostly) I just never played any of the MGS games. I saw the TGS footage and it looked cool. Not having played the games meant I do not quite understand what all the drool on the floor is about. That’s not to say I don’t think it is deserved, I’ve no idea, all the freaking is just confusing and maybe a bit off putting / intimidating. It’s one of those franchises that I’ve always meant to give a try, but I’m not sure if I’d enjoy it and I wonder sometimes if all the hype and excitement is maybe has less to do with the gameplay and more to do with the franchise’s history.


Nintendo Revolution Controller

There seem to be a lot of cool possibilities for games that would utilize that controller and yet there seem to be as many catches as well. If that is the standard controller what does that mean for third party support? Yet it’s hard to see how developers can cover the PS3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo’s crazy controller without major adjustments on the Nintendo side. Of course, there is the idea that you could use other controllers (like a GameCube controller) on the Revolution, but unless they come standard with the system you then have a third place console, with an even smaller % of the audience who have gone out of their way to go buy a GC controller. That’s a tiny audience and with many developers already skipping the GameCube I can’t help but wonder what if any third party support there will be?

Yet maybe that’s what Nintendo is shooting for? Perhaps Nintendo decided that they’re going to be that /different/ console alternative whose advantage is their unusual controller and often unique and outstanding first party games. If they could keep there console price low they certainly could have chance at solidifying Nintendo as everybody’s favorite second console.

Either way it all seems very Nintendoish and I think that I’d be disappointed if it was any different.


Xbox 360

I decided this gen that I wouldn’t be an early adopter and Microsoft has been nice enough to make sure I stick to my plan. We’re all of two months away from a new console release and while there are some games beyond this holiday season that I’m interested on the 360, every time I hear about the release date I keep wondering if I missed something because I don’t know why I should want to throw down some serious clams for 360 at this point. That’s only reinforced with plenty of good games coming out this holiday season for the other consoles and my PC. I’m not entirely surprised by this situation as many developers had been saying that they planned to develop for the current generation well into next gen.


Civ IV Talk!

Civ IV talk in the forums! More preview action! Oh my!


Battlefield 2

I’m still playing this game. At this point I’ve put a ridiculous amount of time into it and I’m still having tons of fun and there seems to be no end in sight. Highly addictive was defiantly the right blurb to select for my review. I’ve gone back and played online FPSs that I’ve enjoyed in the past but it seems the whole CPs, ticket system, squad system, and even online stats have ruined me. I just don’t enjoy the other online FPSs as much as I enjoy BF2. The base capturing system and maps like Strike at Karkand make for what seems like endless variety, or at least enough variety that I keep playing.


Burnt Out


I’m burnt out. Too much work, not enough sleep / exercise. Too much everything. Fortunately, I’ve got a few weeks off coming up after this weekend. This will represent the longest period of not working I’ve had since my freshman year of High School (over 10 years a go). I need it. I need to get excited about …. well just about anything again. Not sure what I’m going to do with it all. I’ll likely spend time cleaning the house. Rearranging the kitchen things. Maybe putting up shelves in the garage (could be dangerous, I’m not handy). Learning to cook some new things. Possibly shopping for a proper dining room table (not a card table). Certainly some time with photography. Mmmm time off *drool*


Electricity


Due to a couple storms rumbling through my area I lost electricity at my house a few times in the past week for a period of hours. I learned that I can only play Muppet Uno for so long before owning everyone just isn't fun anymore.

*duxup plays the Mayhem card*


Gophers


I attended the (Unranked) Minnesota vs. (#11/12) Purdue football game this weekend. It is a good example of what is great about the college game. With a running back like Laurence Maroney and a downright ridiculously active center like Greg Eslinger MN managed to pound Purdue’s “best run defence in the nation” into smithereens. Normally I attend these games with my Grandfather but he was unable to attend and I was with my S.O. The Gophers looked to be in control for much of the game but as I reminded my S.O. “this is the college game, momentum will shift”.

With MN up 20 to 14 and 6:39 left in the game Purdue rallied to score twice (the second being an interception for a TD) putting them up 20 to 28 with 5:45 left. The Gophers aren’t exactly a football power house and often have lost many a Big 10 game late, often due to their own mistakes. Oddly only a few people left and before a roaring crowd MN drove for a TD, then tied it with a two point conversion on a QB run around the end . . .OT ensued.

College Football >>> NFL OT. You get to play both halves of your team and I think that is how it should be. The first OT resulted in a TD for Perdue and then MN with 4th down eked out their own TD. Second OT started with MN running (of course) in a TD and MN finally stopping Purdue on a 4th and short pass.

M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A

Minnesota!

Minnesota!

Yay GOPHERS!




Jason Ocampo Saves The Day!

So no sooner do I post this journal entry than Jason Ocampo shows up with a great front-page preview of Civ IV.

I remember when I first recognized Jason Ocampo as one of the guys who reviews a fair amount of the PC stuff. I was a bit taken a back and as a PC gamer I was thinking This new guy better be good . . . I don’t want PC Gaming to get short changed in the world of Gamespot personalities… and that was the first and last time I worried about that. So obviously I’ve no complaints.

In the above linked preview Jason had the advantage of playing the actual game in relatively late development stages for a while, but even so I think it is a good example of a great preview provided by someone with in depth knowledge of the past games. Often I read previews at some sites and I feel like I’m reading a press release, or I’ll read an interview or preview and just based on the questions or content I can tell the interviewer doesn’t have much experience with past games. It makes me appreciate good previews when I see them.

Meanwhile I’m now about as excited as I can get for a game around five weeks away from release and that’s a lot more excited than I thought I’d be at this point. Halo 2?, a new Final Fantasy game?, a new Mario game?, great seats for the Gophers homecoming game vs. Boilermakers on Saturday? Ok well maybe I’m really excited for the football game also, but my excitement about the release of Civ IV is topping just about every other release I’ve waited for at this point.

*duxup froths at the mouth*

Sometimes it is lonely being a strategy gamer

I’ll enjoy just about any genera of game, but I have to admit that the recent announcement that the Civilization IV release date has been moved up a couple weeks was one of the most exciting pieces of news I’ve seen this year. How often do you see that? Toss in a preorder incentive that looks like it is better than the much maligned Civ III Collectors Edition and I’m ecstatic.

Yet with any strategy gaming news it always seems to be tempered by the fact that I feel somewhat alone in my excitement. The Gamespot Community is relatively silent about the news, and in a larger sense strategy gaming in general is just not given much attention. Some gaming award shows just ignore the entire strategy genera. Even E3 strategy coverage sometimes feels like an afterthought with some of the press heralding a highly anticipated game, and them preceding to conduct an interview with the same excitement that you’d expect from someone consuming their own pants. Let alone the fact that many of those interviews seem to be conducted by poorly informed interviewers …

Perhaps strategy gaming just does not carry the sexy and easily marketed graphics that other games have? Perhaps the industry sees strategy game players as a less desirable demographic? Perhaps the industry sees the genera as less profitable as a whole? It would be interesting to see some statistics that would apply to those questions.

Of course, there is a subset of the world of strategy that does get more attention, the Real Time Strategy games. It might not be the most complex type of strategy game and admittedly the RTS world is full of adaquatulence with a few notable games that carry some unique features and innovation such as Rome: Total War.

So despite feeling a like my favorite franchise and/or gaming genera is a bit neglected I’m pumped about the recent news, and no doubt I’ll be preordering and waiting at my local gaming store on delivery day.

The Xbox 360 Price Evaluated, or Not

So the Xbox 360 price has been released, and yet I’ve no idea what to think.

I find it difficult to evaluate this situation as we’ve no idea what Sony is going to do (although I’d guess something similar). The high-end price is fairly steep but really that’s all relative to the competition and we don't know what Sony has in store.

It might not sound all that interesting but I think much of the significance here will be determined later when we hear from Sony, or if we hear about dramatic sales or lack of sales. Until then it is hard to know what to think.

A Short GTA:SA Controversy Jorunal

So much has been said about the GTA:SA controversy that I fear that no matter what I say I’ll just be adding to the noise. So I feel that there are only three things that I need to say about the recent GTA:SA controversy and the ongoing madness, and they’re not even original thoughts:

1. Rockstar should have known better than to tell half truths. Someone in charge at that company should have known better than to think that they could get away with their initial statements after handing out the same code they were commenting on to millions of people.

2. The ESRB needs to work on their rating system if only because it seems weird to have a 17+ rating and then an 18+ rating right next to it that results in a game's near banishment from the face of the earth. Working with retailers might not be a bad idea as if they were involved I think the lure of sales would bring them on board providing the ESRB more clout. Then they need to promote the heck out of their rating system in order to educate the public.

3. Pac Man is next (warning, one text based curse word behind that link).


The Battlefield 2 Blood Bath Continues

I was a little concerned that after writing my Battlefield 2 review that I might find the game had more flaws than I’d accounted for. With a multiplayer game it is always possible that players will find a horrendous exploit, unbalancing strategies, and / or bugs that are not apparent early on and shaft what seemed like a great game. Fortunately, that does not seem to be the case with Battlefield 2 and I’m still having tons of fun with it. A large part of that is due to its easy pickup and play gameplay.

Battlefield 1942 was one of those games that I played a great deal more than I had anticipated. It was not without its flaws, but when coming home after a long day at work I could think of few games as appealing as the quick action / instant gratification that it provided. Now with Battlefield 2 it is much the same. I’ll head home and while I might be a bit weary from a long day I figure firing up Gamecenter, visiting Mashtuur City, Sharqi Peninsula, or Strike at Karkand and busting a cap in some opponents for a little while wouldn’t be so bad. All of a sudden it is two hours later and I realize that I forgot to make dinner and even then I want to keep playing.

What seems to be so enthralling about the game is that with even less effort than your standard single player FPS (since dying isn’t as punishing in BF2 as a single player FPS) you get an incredibly immersive battlefield experience.

Just tonight I was a part of a couple great battles in Mashtuur City. I was assigned to the MEC team and I quickly found my team was outmatched. The opposing team was well organized and quick to take bases leaving my team without a spawn point and giving them a quick victory in the first game. In the second game I joined the Alpha squad at random hoping to help out even more. Throughout the game my team was down to at least two spawn points with lots of pressure from the Marines. With so few bases the enemy artillery gave them a serious advantage and I chose to make a run a near the outskirts of town where the enemy radar base and artillery is located. I grabbed a van and a couple guys jumped in. We took the base quickly and without any calling for help my squad leader and the rest of the squad showed up on scene to help blow up the enemy radar and artillery. Then we dug in.

The rest of the game was a bitter fight to hold onto that base. There were numerous waves of attack from what seemed like at least one other well organized squad and a handful of lone attackers that came along with them for the ride. During one wave we’d try to hold the base by defending from the rooftops, another we’d head for the hills and ambush them from there, another we’d attack them on the roads leading to the base. The opponents did the same arriving in a convoy of transports, the next time in a helicopter, the next arriving on foot through the hills. Sometimes we lost the base for a while but we always managed to retake it as our squad leader did a good job of fighting but not getting himself killed so that we could respawn nearby. At one point everyone but a few solders fighting for that base somehow ended up on the roofs of the two buildings that dominate that base. One roof with MEC troops, the other with Marines and a rooftop battle ensued that had to be one of the most exhilarating and unlikely battles I have ever seen, and it all occurred without anyone using Battlefield 2's Voice over IP system and very few commands given. People just knew their job, worked together, and I think had a great time. In fact with all the GGs issued near the end of the round I get the feeling that both sides fighting it out for that base had a blast.

Meanwhile my stats have been improving. Those stats are only gathered from games on registered servers so a lot of my gameplay is not included on there, especially my early gameplay where I actually dominated far more than I do now. Fortunately, Gamecenter’s servers are now registered servers and there are a ton of new registered servers showing up every day so I’ve been getting a lot more time on them and the persistent identity aspect of Battlefield 2 is proving to be lots of fun, even if you’re just in it for the stats. I also like to think that my actual performance is much better than my stats show as I’ve been working hard lately to get some more badges and running around with a pistol to get the appropriate kills for a medal certainly cuts back on your effectiveness. How some people manage to get some of those badges is beyond me (cheaters ; ) ).

So the fun continues with Battlefield 2. For a game that I was seriously skeptical about after Battlefield Vietnam, Battlefield 2 has been a big surprise. The pickup and play nature and great reward you get for relatively little gaming investment is really paying off and even taking me away from other games that I would otherwise be playing. Killer 7 will likely continue to sit atop my Gamecube lonely as can be while I cover my squad’s medic as he desperately dodges bullets trying to reach a pair of downed soldiers.

Wary of What I Want

I recently started posting community game reviews on Gamespot and in response I’ve gotten some writing offers in my PM inbox to write for a couple startup sites. I’ve absolutely no idea how valid these offers are nor what the details of such arrangements would be, but my cautious nature makes me tempted to simply ignore such offers despite the fact that writing about gaming on the side would be something I would very much like to do.

My first reaction is to wonder if some of these offers are simply some scam. That might sound silly as even I admit that my writings don’t represent much in terms of monetary value, but I suppose it is possible that someone could try to generate enough traffic for a site after rounding up reviewers working for peanuts to make a couple bucks, perhaps even throwing in some tainted reviews paid for by some unscrupulous publishers. Yes that is a fairly elaborate concern but considering I avoided posting my reviews on Gamespot for a while as I wasn’t fond of a few lines that once were in the CNET Terms of Use you probably now understand the depths of my para . . . imagination.

In addition to the question what would be done with my writing, some of this wariness stems from a concern about what type of organization that I would be lending my name to. There are good sites, there are mediocre sites, and there are bad sites out there. Exactly how much a site’s quality and professionalism reflects on the writer beyond their own work is a question I don’t have the answer to. Getting involved with a site that might turn out to be downright astastic in terms of quality or even involved in some under the table score boosting for cash would be a nightmare.

It’s a paradox, and one that I admit might be entirely of my own making. While it might keep me out of a mess, it may also cause me to miss some legitimate opportunities.

So in the meantime I’m sitting on my hands. After an insane work schedule the last couple weeks I like to think I’ll get enough gaming in to where I could work on another review in the next week or so, possibly one for Killer 7.


Community Reviews - Trusted User Tracking

As noted in my other journals and my sig I’ve posted some community reviews recently. I’m certainly a Johnny-come-lately when it comes to the Community Reviews here at Gamespot. I wasn’t involved when all those issues about top reviewer badges was flying around and I was happy to see that system scraped as it seemed to be much more trouble than it was worth. Still I think the Community Reviews needs a bit more improvement, in particular in terms of making the reviews more reader friendly. I'd like to see a notification system so that I would know when users that I trust posted a new review. Currently there isn't an easy way to find such info. So I posted this thread in Site Enhancements.

Any support would be appreciated. I think such a system would be very useful.

Personal Note: Crappy Lasers

I’m in training at my workplace this week learning about optical fibre and related technology. It’s not the first time I’ve worked on this stuff but never at this level of detail (an engineer is teaching the class).

Anyway I’m absolutely baffled by some of this equipment. I understand the technology’s intended purpose but the fact that the lasers on these things are A.) Not mounted on sharks B.) Not capable of destroying cities of any size, is totally disappointing. At best I can blow out a couple receiving I/Os.

Why the heck would anyone make a laser that can’t be mounted on a shark or destroy a city?

I think I need to submit a one of those company suggestion forms regarding the imagination of our engineers.