Wii VC Sales in Decline, But Not by Much

Nintendo of Japan recently held a press conference where they detailed a whole mess of… crap. One of the bigger chunks of news to come out of the conference was the sales figures for the Wii’s Virtual Console service.

In the first two months of the service’s life, 1.5 million games were downloaded. In the last three, only 1.8 million were downloaded. If we extrapolate this info, we can see that the VC’s sales are starting to decline. It’s not by a huge amount, but it is enough to warrant a dissection on the situation.

So why did it start to decline? Well, we have a few reasons why. First, the lucky gamers that had a Wii in the first two months were most likely hardcore gamers, and would gladly pay for a Nintendo game that they had already purchased nine times before, including myself. →  Read or die.

Console logos throughout the ages

This year, 2007, marks the 30th anniversary of the Atari 2600 release, which is what many consider to be the very first commercial video game console. And since then, the gaming populace has been privy to 21 major home consoles. To celebrate this momentous year, I have painstakingly researched and categorized each of the 18 home consoles’ logos. Yes, I have nothing else better to do with my time. So, with that in mind, let’s take a quick stroll through history, shall we?

Atari 2600: Here we have the granddaddy of them all: the Atari 2600. I don’t really understand what this logo stands for, but it must mean something cool, as it can still be seen on t-shirts and stickers everywhere. If you’re trying to convey the fact that you’re a retro gamer, you probably have the Atari logo somewhere in your gaming bordello. →  Show me the reading!

Goat of War

In a shockingly candid interview with videolamer, Phil Harrison has granted us some insight into the often confusing world of Sony PR. The recent goat incident, in which a decapitated goat was refitted with the head of a Bigfoot costume, is just a spark in the upcoming storm of marketing blitz Sony will be unleashing this summer, says Harrison.

“The next God of War installment is coming soon, and we have ads that will make the white PSP advert look tame.”

In addition to unrolling a host of new printed ads, including an image of Kratos circumcising Zeus, Harrison promises Sony events to further get us in the warring mood.

“The standard headless goat stunt we used for God of War 2 simply won’t impress any longer. I can’t give too much away, but I can mention that we have constructed a flesh and bones minotaur. →  You had me at read more.

In the rain or in the snow

The decade old Parappa the Rapper, which heralded the start of the rhythm game genre according to some accounts, will be ported to the PSP this July. This is good news for PSP owners because the beats are fly, the rhymes fresh, and the gameplay ill.

The downside is it’s still just a port, not a sequel. Particularly clever netizens have noticed the trend of publishers porting their old titles to the PSP and reworked the spelling of the handheld — Playstation PORTable. Get it? When you capitalize certain letters and not others, hilarity ensues.

After researching the catalogues of the PSP and the DS I’ve come to the conclusion that the DS has a decent number of ports on it as well (which reminds me, I want Theme Park). →  The Last Readment

Pokemon Sells a Lot. Noooooo, Really?

In the most unsurprising bit of news to come along in some time, Nintendo has announced that their flagship DS titles, Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, have accumulated over 1 million units sold in little less than a week’s time. Seriously, was there ever a doubt that this wouldn’t happen? Pokemon is the crack for gaming: everyone knows it isn’t good for you, but it’s so hard to quit.

Aww jeez, we doin’ this Pokemon thing again?

Not to say the games suck (the original GameBoy one was uber-good), but I’m not sure how many times Nintendo/Game Freak have to make the exact same game over and over before fans finally realize that the series needs a revamp. Personally, I’m still holding out for the console MMO that everyone seems to wish for. →  Zero Escape: Nine Hours, Nine Authors, Nine Articles

ZOMG! Moment – Nintendo Acquires Monolith Soft

In a stunning move, Nintendo has purchased Xenosaga developer, Monolith Soft, from its previous majority shareholders, Namco Bandai. Nintendo, now the majority shareholder, owns 80% of the company’s stock, while Namco Bandai still owns 16% of their previous 96% shareholdings.

Holy snap. Wii gets itself some RPG pron.

For Nintendo fans, this is a moment for much rejoicing. Previous Nintendo consoles (N64-era and up) have had very little RPG support, with many RPG fans jumping ship to Nintendo’s rival, the Playstation. By bringing on-board one of the premier Japanese RPG developers, Nintendo is poised to take back the RPG crown that it lost after the SNES days. Monolith Soft is currently working on Disaster: Day of Crisis for the Wii, but one has to think (and hope) that they will revisit their RPG-powerhouses, the Xenosaga or Baten Kaitos series at some point. →  Show me the reading!

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 4.27.07

Ken Kuraragi finally falls on his sword
I have called for Ken’s resignation many times, but like a president bombarded by calls to fire a cronie, end a war, step down, or learn to read Kutaragi has ignored me entirely. That is until yesterday. Ken has finally listened to my sharp criticism and based a life altering decision on it…or has he?

“And God said unto me, ‘Make thy console large, make it powerful, but above all else hold unto this truth: Make thy console expensive.'”

The Japanese, unlike Americans, have a thing they like to call sushi. This raw fish (California rolls don’t count, hippy) is symbolic of another concept we Americans lack – honor. For you see, in ancient Japan the sushi roller guy was thought to be the embodiment of the fisherman’s god, Zeus. →  Xenosaga 2: Jenseits von Gut und Pöst

Numbers are fun: But charts are amazing

Market capitalization is a measure of what investors think a company is worth, so it basically represents size. In order to get a little perspective on the relative size of some of the companies with which we, as gamers, are most familiar, I have thrown together the below chart.

As with all thrown together financial charts it has its shortcomings. Private companies, such as Bioware, SNK Playmore and Treasure cannot be included since they are not required to reveal their size and there is no market to determine it. Also, (and this may come as a shock to some of you) several of these companies are Japanese. This means that in addition to their market cap changing day to day based on price changes, when expressed in US Dollars, they change with foreign exchange rates as well. →  An article approaches.
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Looking forward to a good Brawl

Nintendo still hasn’t announced anything solid on Brawl, and the closest thing we have to release date is still “Later this year”. Regardless of the release date being pushed back, however, I’m still eagerly anticipating it.

Super Smash Bros Melee certainly isn’t my favorite game single-player, but in multi-player it is an experience to be reckoned with. It’s not perfectly balanced, but the game’s major hallmarks are being easy to pick up but difficult to master. Advanced techniques such as L-canceling and some engine side-effects such as wave-dashing lend the game more depth than most other fighting games, which is why SSBM is the only fighting game I still enjoy years after playing it for the first time.

If only narcolepsy were really this powerful.

Three years ago, there was a Gamecube in my college dorm’s lobby. →  Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing memory cards.

No KOF from SNK on the VC ASAP – WTF?

As you can probably guess, I’m damn psyched to see some Neo Geo games on the Virtual Console. What I’m not so excited about is news like thisthat tells me that some of the premier Neo Geo games won’t be the first ones released. The reasoning is that you can find most of the King of Fighters games easily enough, and they’ve just released the Metal Slug Anthology on two consoles. Normally I would understand the logic, especially if it means the first games to hit the VC is stuff like World Heroes or Baseball Stars. Yet the more I thought about it, the less it makes sense. Here’s why.

– Technically it is possible to own of the KoF’s from 98-2003 via the PS2 and Dreamcast. But all of them are “enhanced ports” with the 2d backgrounds changed to ugly 3d, and lord knows what kind of changes to the original arcade balance. →  Sounds mildly entertaining, I guess.

Halo Prime 3

No link for this blog post, but let’s just say that there are some videos of Halo 3 beta lurking around the internet, and a certain writer has seen the clips. This isn’t a discussion of my impressions, but instead a remark on one noticeable change I observed. The HUD has been changed to resemble Halo’s biggest “competitor” that’s not really its competitor: Metroid Prime.

Chief is running away from Samus.

This isn’t going to be the rant of a Nintendo fanboy complaining that Bungie ripped Retro Studios off. Quite frankly the best parts of both Halos came from previous games. What bothers me about it is that the HUD actually looks worse than before. It’s far too cluttered; what used to occupy three corners of the screen now fills up four corners and the top center. →  Go ahead, read my day.

Hotel rooms have an inordinate number of games

I’m currently on a business trip selling whatever it is I sell. Last night, after billing every available adult film to my company, I found myself browsing the video game selection of the hotel TV system. Check out their GameCube collection:

Mario Kart
SM Strikers
Mario Tennis
Mario Party 7
Backyard Baseball 07
Rogue Squadron 3
1080 Avalanche
Twilight Princess
Battalion Wars
Super Mario Sunshine
Tomb Raider
Mario Golf
Kirby Air Ride
Pokemon XD
Animal Crossing
Rogue Squadron 2
Pokemon Colosseum
Mario Party 6
Ocarina of Time
Mario Party 5
Wave Racer
Luigi’s Mansion
Paper Mario 2
Metroid Prime 2
Pokemon Channel
Wario World
Custom Robo
Wario Ware Inc
Wind Waker
Starfox Assault

The first thing that struck me was how their collection is better than mine. →  [send private information]

PS3 Gets Boatload of PS1 Titles…in Japan

Through their newest 1.70 firmware update for the PS3, Sony has bestowed upon the Japanese buying public a cornucopia (25 to be exact) of PS1 titles for purchase through the Playstation Store. This will also mark the very first time that PS1 titles are playable on the PS3. Before today, they were only playable on the PSP, which makes absolutely no sense.

Blocky characters in 1080p: totally worth $600.

And sadly, not all of the titles that are being released tomorrow are playable on the PS3. You can check out the complete list at PSPFanboy.

Now, although this is only for Japan, it does seem that Sony is at least somewhat trying to do what Nintendo has been doing with their Virtual Console Mondays. Nintendo has been on the ball ever since the service started a week after the Wii’s launch, and after seeing how much profit they stand to gain from doing nothing releasing their old wares, Sony has decided it’s their turn to milk their customers of their hard-earned money. →  Tony Hawk's Pro Reader 3

Mindlessness in games

I read a good article recently on the heavy use of the word “gameplay” in games journalism. Agree with it or not, the author makes a good point; there is no equivalent word in any other industry jargon. Most sentences that use the word gameplay can be rewritten in some form to create something more descriptive and authoritative. It got me thinking about another mainstay of the lingo that has been bothering me as of late – “mindless”.

The word is used all too often, so much so that I can’t even generalize about whether it is usually in a pejorative or positive sense. According to my scouring of IGN, reviewers and gamers find the following games to be “mindless”:

Tomb Raider Legend
Rainbow Six Vegas
Sonic Riders
Resident Evil 4
Trigger Man
Ninety Nine Nights
Both Half Lifes
Call of Duty 3
Tekken Tag Tournament

For the sake of discussion, let’s just say this (very partial) list is a mix of terrible, average, and a few Game of the Year winners. →  You lost me.

Square Enix announces FF remakes for PSP

Recently, Square Enix (hereafter referred to as Squeenix) announced and released (in Japan) remade versions of Final Fantasy 1 and 2 for PSP. Unlike their previous remakes of the two games for PSX and GBA, these games would be sold separately at $35 apiece, but with still more features and extras. Although it remains yet to be seen whether they will fix the atrocious leveling system in Final Fantasy 2 that carried over to the “Origins” remake, I have some doubts as to whether these remakes will be good enough on their own to merit buying the same game for the third (fourth?) time, even for the hardcore fan.

The question now is whether Squeenix is stepping over a line in remaking the same two games for the third time in two console generations. →  Ys: The Article of Napishtim

Xbox 360 loses a few exclusives / PS3 gains Chopin

Namco’s Chopin themed RPG Trusty Bell and SCi’s almost biblical Kain & Lynch, both once 360 exclusives, are now coming to the PS3 as well. Sony naysayers (me) are now faced with acknowledging neither console is safe from losing exclusive titles. Third party publishers seem unsatisfied with their platform choices. The 360 failed to dominate the market during its year lead and is currently being outsold by the GBA in Japan and the PS3 is catching on slower than most anticipated, likely due to it being positioned as a meal at a fine restaurant in the back of a Mercedes that is for everyone. Publishers could go to Nintendo, but then their triple A games look like shit and are stuck on one platform, whereas a game developed on either of the other two could be easily ported. →  Speak softly and carry a big post.

One Thing Right, One Thing Wrong: Sony Edition

In our final edition, we get to talk about everyone’s current whipping boy, Sony and it’s uber-beast of a console, the PS3. Oh boy, how the might have fallen. In one fell swoop, the Playstation brand went from the de facto system for anything “video gaming” to some machine that costs way too much. But, it’s not all bad.

Ummm. Hmmmm.

Yeah, let’s start with the bad things first.

Well, one thing that I can’t understand for the life of me is what you have to do when updating the PS3’s firmware. You have to connect your wireless SIXAXIS controller into the system with a USB cord. Can someone please tell me why? What the hell does the controller have to do with a firmware update?

And why can’t the system just connect with the controller through the Bluetooth? →  Videolamer does what IGNotDoes.

Virtual Console offers more obscure titles

Today, a few low profile games were released on Nintendo’s Virtual Console (Gradius III, Wonder Boy in Monster World, Battle Lode Runner). Many gamers’ reaction was, “This sucks, when is Nintendo giving us Super Metroid and Super Mario RPG?” or the other side of that coin, “Ha ha, enjoy your crappy VC games losers. I’m glad I don’t have a Wii.” It’s an alarming situation but provides insight into the minds of many gamers.

Square Enix recently announced it would be remaking every game they’ve ever thought about making. Many of us wondered why consumers will no doubt validate this developer’s decision to not develop games. This desire to play and replay the same game isn’t limited to Squeenix fans, though. Every angry Wii owner who is waiting to beat Zelda 2 again is the same species as the guy waiting to defeat Sephiroth an eighth time, but this time with more polygons (I hear in the PS3 remake you can make out his vagina). →  They’re reading her… and then they’re going to read me!

Review – Trace Memory

I’m not usually a big fan of the point-and-click adventure genre. Myst never managed to keep my attention, despite the rave reviews it got way back when, and the one Kyrandia game I played only managed to entertain because of the constant humor. I haven’t even gotten more than half an hour into The Longest Journey in the two years I’ve had it.

Oh well, looks like the game’s over.

Trace Memory, though, managed to keep me engaged through to the end. Even when Puzzle Quest failed to interest me, I continued to play Trace Memory. It could be that the medium keeps the idea of the game interesting. This was my only DS with a particularly compelling or deep story I hadn’t beaten, and I think that was a big part of what kept me motivated. →  Romance of the Three Articles IV: Post of Fire

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 4.20.07

Sony’s Q2 release schedule
Between the PS3 and Wii’s upcoming releases, I wish I had a 360. Though some (Matt) would disagree, it looks like adopting a next gen system early is a bad move. After Paper Mario there’s nothing I want to play on the Wii, at least nothing at the current going rates of titles. Maybe I’d pick up Metal Slug for $30, Excite Truck for $25 and only ask to be paid $20 to take Wii Play.

At least my stupid investment only cost $250 and there are plenty of good Virtual Console games to play. If you’re one of the few rich people with a PS3, look on the bright side — you’ll be able to download Joust soon.

New Wii/DS studio CEO speaks
I like what co-founder of Jet Black Games has to say:

“With game team sizes at the time already easily exceeding 100 or even 200 people, it seemed like this might be the last opportunity to work in a smaller, more creative environment… given our company’s values and goals, it was natural that we align ourselves with Nintendo.” →  The Adventures of Cookie and Read