Numbers are fun – November ‘Nihilation

There has been a lot of good sales news for the industry over the past month. Enough numbers have been released that PR people from all three console manufacturers are able to claim some victory. We have all grown accustomed to hearing that Nintendo’s grandparent-friendly hardware is setting the world ablaze, but recent information has shown that its competitors may be gearing up to offer a viable challenge. The biggest headline probably has to be the fact that Nintendo DS sales set the record for most systems ever purchased in a single week with 653,000. This, combined with 350,000 Wiis sold during the same period adds up to…a lot of stuff sold by Nintendo during Thanksgiving week. The Wii is still supply constrained so it’s tough to say how many units Nintendo could be moving, but the Wii reached five million units in the US sold faster than any other system in history, doing so in a mere 12 months. →  There is only one really serious philosophical problem, and that is games.

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 11.30.07

Gamespot editor allegedly fired for giving a bad review
Jeff Gerstmann was supposedly let go because he gave Kane and Lynch a mediocre review (recent updates indicate the firing was a culmination of multiple reviews that angered sponsors). The story goes, Eidos was paying CNET a ton of cash to promote the title and threatened to pull future ads because of the review. It’s true that when this story broke yesterday, the Gamespot site was covered head to toe in stupid K&L ads. The people who say the firing happened because of the review range from Penny Arcade (who confirm the comic isn’t simply a joke in their forum), to a freelance Gamespot writer (who gave Shenmue a bad review…breath in…), to mods in the Gamespot forum who said things like – if we tell you what happened we will be fired, and don’t blame us, it’s all CNETs fault. →  But the future refused to change.

Quick Thought of the Day: Out with the old….

I’m starting to notice a trend while playing games on my Xbox 360. It’s a weird trend, one that some may not even care about. It has to deal with what games people are playing on the 360. It seems that every time I go on Xbox Live, and view my Friends List (for stats sake, i have around 30 Friends), never do I see any of them playing a game that didn’t come out in the last week or so. Right now my list is filled with RockBand and Mass Effect. Before that it was Assassin’s Creed. And before that it was Halo 3, with some BioShock thrown in there for good measure. This has happened ever since I first got my 360, almost a year ago. It seems like no one ever plays their old games. →  Read, I am your father!

Destructoid – Johhny Rotten isn’t a GH3 fan

Johnny Rotten hates Guitar Hero 3!!!! It’s all right here in this article!

Except he doesn’t say he hates it, he says he loves it. Then he says it doesn’t teach you how to be a rockstar and thats a GOOD thing because pursuing fame and fortune is stupid. Punk rock is not exactly about the bling.

So why does Destructoid have the story entirely wrong? Because they, like many other internet journalists, get their news stories from internet forums, namely NeoGAF. The problem with this is two fold. First there is the standard who is the source, how reliable are they, blah blah blah stuff. Then there is the equally important reading comprehension, and required will power to read the second post of a thread you are using as a news source. →  A delayed article is eventually good, a rushed article is all we post.

Review – Crysis

Taking First Person Shooters to a New Level of Suck

After a long day of working, it’s nice to come home, jump on my computer, and blow the living daylights out of people, monsters, hookers, you name it. For me, playing an FPS after a day of work is akin to getting an Oreo Cookie Blizzard on a hot day; it just feels right. I don’t have to think, I don’t have to care about hurting people, I just shoot and all of my stress melts away. As blood sprays across the digital walls and bodies drop, mangled and lifeless to the floor, I grin and become new again. When I heard the news that Crysis was in development, I was happy. FarCry, while not a perfect game, was an ok shooter so I figured Crysis would follow suit. →  Gotta get down on Friday.

Retrospectives – Halo Single-Player Campaigns part 3

In this continuation of the Halo single player retrospective I will look at…

Story/Presentation

Again, the most enjoyable Halo in regards to story and presentation is Halo: Combat Evolved. In 2001, we didn’t know what a “Halo” was or meant. With the first game, we were introduced to the Forerunners, the Covenant, and the Flood for the very first time, and it feverishly sparked our imaginations, with the player trying to figure out what kind of universe Master Chief was living in. This happens a lot with games in general. The first game is far more potent in terms of story than the sequels, as you’ve already experienced the same style of storytelling in the first game. From our perspective, the most innovative is the first one. All the rest are just walking down the road that the first one paved. →  Ask not what this post can do for you - ask what you can do for this post.

It’s the end of Civilization as we know it, and I feel fine (I think)

There has been a recent hullabaloo about the pending Civilization Revolutions game. Having realized that the hardcore 4X PC gamer market is not as lucrative as say, every other platform, Firaxis has set about developing a new “made for console” version of Civilization.

Because a move like this smacks of “selling out” and “destroying the game concept,” and it coincides with what can only be described as criminal negligence of the Beyond the Sword expansion, the community has been at best, suspicious, and at worst, behaving like forum trolls at a n00b feeding frenzy. And they have every right to have this attitude.

For starters, Firaxis is cultivating as much ill will as humanly possible with the Beyond the Sword expansion. The launch version (like all PC games these days) was bug ridden, requiring a patch. →  Read or Alive 2: Hardcore

Thanksiving Post – Game Movies

For family reasons I am not having my Thanksgiving until Friday, so tonight is just business as usual for me. I’m taking my small bit of self-alloted time on the computer to write a blog post.

Games Radar has written a classic fluff piece designed exclusively for diggs. It has to do with game game movies, and I find it completely wrong, so here is my fluff piece meant exclusively for diggs.

Let’s look at it point by point. Their first is

“Respect the source material

You bought the IP for a reason and it’s successful for a reason. Your audience is there, so take it seriously and they’ll come. ”

This is a narrow view that assumes that all gamers think like the ones who post on gaming websites. →  Sonic the Readhog

Retrospectives – Halo Single-Player Campaigns part 2

In this continuation of the Halo single player retrospective I will look at…

Level Design

Halo has never been one to “wow” a player with its level design. One of the core examples of why Metroid Prime was cited as being better than Halo was its superior level design, which, in retrospect, is not a huge accomplishment. Levels like The Library seem to be a test for the level designers to see how many times they could use the Copy-Paste function in their level editors.

To be truthful though, Bungie makes really good outdoor environments. This seems to be because it is usually devoid of any Forerunner architecture. When Master Chief travels through a Forerunner structure, there is very little in the way of detail. It’s an artistic choice, but it doesn’t lend itself to variety. →  I’ll read you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!

Are you ready to rock? … well you can’t.

Way to go EA / MTV. Way to f up the launch of what should have been your biggest title this Christmas season. Rock Band launched today, or so gamers were told. In reality it seems like there were only a handful of units shipped to retailers with little or no warning about the shortage. The only press release I’ve seen even hinting at production shortages was unearthed yesterday, in which the EA spokesman said that there might be a little supply crunch … until MARCH OF 2008!

Best Buy held midnight launch parties at about two dozen locations across the US and reports are coming in that a large majority of those stores got shipped a paltry number (one store in Kentucky received two PS3 bundles, and that’s it) or no games at all. →  All I want for Christmas is my PSP.

Assassin’s Creed: the greatest flawed masterpiece in history

Let me get this out right now: I fucking love Assassin’s Creed. This is the game I’ve been waiting for ever since those crazy marketing execs started screaming “Next-gen gameplay found here!” I cannot get enough of this game, and I mean physically. I went to bed last night in a state of withdrawal. I almost fell off the wagon (or is it on?) last night around 3 AM, but thankfully I held back the urge. For a little while, anyway.

Suffice to say, I totally want to make Assassin’s Creed babies:)

But sadly, as the title of this blog suggests, it is not perfect. For every eight aspects that expertly immerses you into the world of assassins, there is one that takes you out of it. There are a few examples I could give you that show how Assassin’s Creed is flawed, in both design and technical execution, but it really doesn’t matter. →  Is that an article in your pants, or are you just happy to read me?

Retrospectives – Halo Single-Player Campaigns part 1

When people think of the Halo series, they’re quickly reminded of the college dorm-room deathmatch. Halo is the quintessential multiplayer experience on consoles, but it wasn’t always like that. Before 2001, Halo meant nothing to people. It was just another FPS game that Microsoft was using to launch their first console, the Xbox.

To really get players talking (and ultimately spending their hard-earned money), Bungie had to create a compelling single-player campaign. If the core game was bad or run-of-the-mill, no one would care about multiplayer. And a launch game’s success is usually dependent on word of mouth. Look at Wii Sports. The more people that enjoy it, the more they talk, and the better it sells (which basically means more people to play multiplayer with).

Contrary to popular belief, Halo was originally all about the single-player, story-based campaign, which is the complete opposite of what it is now. →  [post launches in virtual reality]

Videolamer Votes aka Should Tyson Sell His PSP?

The amount of handheld consoles I have had over the years is nutty. I’ve laid the smack down on Tetris, old school style with the original Gameboy. As I suspect color television enthralled people in the 1950s, I popped a gamer boner when the Gameboy Color rainbowed its way on to the scene in the early 90s. And no, rainbow should never be used as a verb unless I O.K it… and I just did. Come to think of it, the only Gameboy iteration I have never owned is the Gameboy Pocket. I also own a GP2X and a PSP. I like my handhelds.

Despite my undying love for pocket-sized gaming machines, I have never fully accepted the PSP into the fold. I had money to blow in Akihabara one fine Spring day last year and there was nothing else I was dying to have, so a white PSP found its way into my backpack. →  Sounds amazing, I must read it now!

Mario Galaxy and gaming mindshare

Super Mario Galaxy is officially out. With any luck, I’ll be the first person on Videolamer to discuss it, though I am probably the only one who doesn’t yet have it (though you are all welcome to buy it for me during my almost ended state of unemployment). That’s okay however, because I’m not really here to discuss the game proper, but the buzz surrounding it. Simply put, this is being called a return to form for Mario, a game that is the rightful successor to Mario 64. This sounds eerily similar to the remarks made about Twilight Princess, which fits the mold created by Ocarina of Time better than any other Zelda to succeed it, even Majora’s Mask. For most people’s money, these are the top two games on the Wii, Metroid Prime notwithstanding. →  I got served!

Review – Etrian Odyssey

There is nothing more depressing than wasted potential, and, somewhat ironically, nothing more pleasurable than wasting potential. As I lay on my couch playing Etrian Odyssey instead of washing the dishes, helping the homeless or learning to read, my mind struggled to cope with conflicting emotions. I was enjoying that I was wasting my time, but not enjoying the time wasted. Is it hypocritical to be upset that Atlus squandered this game’s potential?

F.O.E.s are rendered in stunningly accurate orange blobs.

Etrian Odyssey starts off nice and difficult. I died on the first level and there’s a good chance you will, too. This high difficulty forces the player to engage in some old school level grinding, but I’ve always welcomed work in my time wasting, as long as society doesn’t benefit in any way. →  Videolamer does what IGNotDoes.

Review – Sam & Max Season 2, Episode 1: Ice Station Santa

One thing I have noticed since I was young is that every new season of television shows creates a new trend or two. In the last 15 years it seems we have seen everything, from a flood of cartoons, themed sitcoms, non-themed sitcoms (thanks, Seinfeld), sci-fi shows, crime dramas, and more. There are two common patterns; either a network hits gold and cranks out dozens of similar shows to cash in (see how The Learning Channel nearly destroyed itself thanks to Trading Spaces), or two networks create almost identical pieces of shit in hopes that theirs will stick.

Perhaps not so coincidentally, we have seen both of these trends as the games industry has tried to tackle episodic gaming. On one hand, we had Telltale Games working on episodes for Bone and Sam and Max, while Valve and Ritual made their own serialized installments of Half Life and Sin via Steam and the Source engine. →  50 Cent: Readproof

Destiny of a Fan

Everyone has a couple of games they particularly like, regardless of how good they are, because of the memories they have of them. Unless, of course, they don’t like video games, in which case they must be card-carrying communists. For me, one of those games is Capcom’s greatest RPG: Destiny of an Emperor for NES.

I have to avoid making this into a Best Game Ever, but I still want to summarize: The game runs very quickly, with fast text speed and auto-battling. You can recruit many enemy generals after defeating them, over 100 in total. The tactic system is somewhat more fleshed out than many other RPGs magic systems, although it can also be more restrictive. The game’s backdrop of China’s Three Kingdoms period makes the world a bit more solid than many other games of the time. →  Katamari Damaread

Time to Give to a Good Cause

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We all know Gary Coleman. How could you not love a 4′ 8″ guy that appeared in one of the 80s most iconic shows, Diff’rent Strokes? Back in the day, he was a veritable one-liner machine, churning out gimmicky quips in the blink of an eye. Lately though, it seems that Gary has fallen on hard times and is forced to part with his Gamecube. Hard times for Mr. Coleman means an Ebay auction for us and an autographed Cube for the winning bid, which is currently just over $500.

Just looking at that pitiful mug makes me want to bid a few bucks just to help the guy out. I mean you know he is in trouble when the very table he is signing away his Gamecube on is littered with a bottle of pills, an empty beer bottle, what could either be another beer or cough syrup, and a US passport. →  You may say I’m a gamer, but I’m not the only one

What happens when you mix idiots and review scores? Gamenumbers.com

While trying to get paid (and at the very same time, laid), my buddy and I got into a conversation about whether or not review scores are of any worth. It basically started when my “friend” asked me if I would still get Assassin’s Creed if it got an average score of 7.0. Of course, my answer was short and sweet:

“Fuck yeah.”

Numbers mean nothing to me, especially when it’s based on the 100-point scale that the majority of gaming publications tend to use. My sole reasoning for taking this stance on the issue is because most gamers will gloss over anything that’s rated 8 or below. It’s disheartening as a game designer to see games like Pac-Pix and Drawn to Life passed over all because they weren’t the greatest games ever made. →  Castle Readigami 2

Mario doesn’t matter

I’ve been avoiding screens and videos of Mario Galaxy because I want to experience it all for the first time when I am actually playing, not drunkenly browsing the web. Still, I can’t help but read as much as possible about the game and cross my fingers I don’t see too many spoilers (though I did see a huge one – whoever it was who first mentioned that thing with the guy and the thing, you know what I’m talking about, please leave the internet).

Many conversations on the game and Nintendo design in general have gravitated towards arguments over the foolishness of bleeding an IP dry. Hold on, let me get into my Nintendo Defense Force Costume…

Miyamoto has said time and again that he only creates new characters when old ones would not fit with his new gameplay ideas. →  If you die in the article, you die in real life.