Tales From Behind The Counter – A Time of Loathing

When working in retail there is one time of year you dread above all others: the holidays. It means angry customers with no time and no money, pissed off that they have to brave ice covered roads and bumper car parking lots instead of being gleeful and warm in the comfort of their own homes. In video game retail land, there is one other time that I have come to regard in the same way I would a diagnosis of colon cancer: EA Sports Game Release season. Also called, the Unholidays, with a long e sound on that i.

During this time, Electronic Arts decides to rain shit from the sky in the form of a new NCAA everything, new Madden, new baseball whatever, and [shudder] Nascar 09. I would rather play most of these sports over having to deal with the people who come in to buy these games and that, my friends, should tell you something. →  I'd rather die than not read this article!

The next gen consoles then and now

Folks, it has been some time since the “next gen” was actually the next. I think it is about time to call it the current gen, and on that note, I think it is time to re-evaluate the three major players in the race. Much has changed, and my opinion of each console has changed wildly. Note that this is not an attempt to analyze who is going to “win” the console war. I think that it is quite clear that so long as there are games like Wii Fit and Wii Sports released at the right times, Nintendo is going to be unchallenged in total sales numbers. Meanwhile Sony and Microsoft will claim the Wii is not a true competitor, and then spin the numbers to make it look like they were the true winners. →  Read Read Revolution: Disney Channel Edition

A survey of 2007s role playing games

Last year was a fairly interesting one for RPG fans. Some of the biggest names in the genre finished their PS2 swan songs long ago, and went off in search of new platforms. This left 2007 as a year for new ideas and lesser known series to take root and grab the hearts and money of fans. 2007 may not have had a big new Final Fantasy, but perhaps that is a good thing, as it allowed these other games to stand out, rough edges and all. While it comes a bit late, the following is an assessment of some of 2007’s biggest RPGs from both Chris (vl’s resident RPG expert) and Christian (who continues to look for the genre’s masterpiece). We also included FF12 in the mix. It may be a bit old to us modern folk living in 2008, but it is such a major departure from Square’s usual offerings that it deserves a bit more discussion on the site. →  You’re tearing me apart lamers!

Tales From Behind the Counter – Santa Claus Cometh

Last night, I walked into a video game store that was swamped with trade-ins. I could barely make out my manager and another co-worker behind the counter for the stacks of NES games that were piled before them; it was like Christmas…of 1989. Classics like Ice Breakers, Ducktales, RC Pro-Am, and countless others littered the counter top as my geeky colleagues waded through processing all of the games in order to give our Santa Claus his grand total of trade-in credit that the store was bestowing upon him for his generous endowment.

In Germanic folklore, Santa was this skinny guy that dressed in green clothing and gave out gifts to good children while beating the bad ones. Kind of like a strung out father who would smack his kids around while waiting in line at the methadone clinic. →  A reader is you.

Review – Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn

Sequels suck. Prequels putrefy. And spin-offs spin out of control. And yet, so often when a story we enjoy ends, whether in the terra-forming of Arrakis or bodily ascension to heaven, we are reluctant to let go. We refuse to accept that resurrecting something so that it can go on eternally is usually a bad idea (I’m looking at you evangelicals.) The exceptions, (and there are a few: Godfather II, Red Dragon, The Simpsons, The Bible Goes West) prove the rule. So, when one of these quality exceptions of a continuing storyline comes onto the scene, especially in our medium, I think it’s time to take a holiday from derision and give the credit where it’s due. Such is the case with Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. So, sit back and let me tell you about the shining dawn of a radiant path in brilliant storytelling and those who have strayed from the light. →  Professor Layton and the Diabolical Post

Hidden costs of next gen gaming or how HD killed the video star

So, here is what happened: I got an Xbox 360 as a gift for Christmas. I had requested it as a gift because I knew that to purchase it on my own would mean a few months of saving; something I’m not good at. I’ve got student loans to pay and blow to snort; there’s just no room for savings in my life. I appreciated the gift and received it with the grace of Ernest Borgnine; but, in the back of my head I braced myself for the added expense of having to buy at least one new game a month. (I don’t rent; renting is un-American; I like to own my media.) Now, if Christmas came every month, or if I lived below the Mason-Dixon line, (which comes to the same thing) I’d be set. →  I'll get a job later, for now I'm going to read this

Heavenly Suck

I cannot call this a review of Heavenly Sword simply because I have not beaten the game, but then again the reason for writing this is not merely to trash HS but to make the following point: people should be embarrassed more easily.

Allow me to explain… I do not own a PS3. I do not own a PS3 because while deciding weather to purchase a PS3 or a 360 I discovered, with basic research and some help from Jay of videolamer, that there is much more variety and quality to be found in the games for 360 than the PS3. However, the one regret that I had about passing on the PS3 was that I would not get to play Heavenly Sword. I had seen a commercial advertising the game, I had visited the official website and my interest was piqued. →  Oreshika: Tainted Postlines

A Christmas Story

Gather around children and let me tell you a story of a Christmas long since passed. The year was 1991 and I was eleven years old. It was that magical white time of year when all a kid my age could think of was snowball fights, playing video games, and Christmas morning. You see children, 1991 was not just any other goofy year. Oh no, 1991 was the year the Super Nintendo came out and I was sure that come December 25th, my chubby butt would be glued to a television playing that sleek, grey piece of gaming heaven.

crying.jpgI’m sorry kid, Nintendo is hoarding all of the Wii’s this year. How about a Playstation 3 instead?

 

As the countdown to Christmas began, the yearly rituals were gone though. →  Lamers so loved the world that they gave their only article, so that everyone who believes in reading won’t perish but will have eternal lives.

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. →  I am become game, destroyer of words.

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. →  Games are the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions.

The State of Japanese Gaming Plus A Couple of Signs That the End Times Are Upon Us

As I type this, I am covetously inspecting my growing stockpile of canned goods and rice. Earlier I cleaned and loaded my Colt .45 Airsoft pistol with silencer and under barrel flashlight (think Metal Gear Solid 3). Within the next couple of hours I will be ready for what I am guessing is either going to be the zombocalypse, the Second Coming, WWIII, or possibly the release of a Vanilla Ice Greatest Hits album. One way or the other something bad is going to happen and I am going to be ready.

The Japanese are doing curious things that have tipped me off to our fast approaching doom, let me explain.

First, as I was browsing through the video game section of one of my local electronics stores I spotted a Japanese man loading up his shopping cart with: A) Halo 1,2, and 3 B) An Xbox Live membership card and C) one or two other 360 games that I couldn’t make out. →  A reader is you.

Finishing the Fight

Sorry folks, but I need to put videolamer’s bold blend of criticism and cynicism on the back burner and brew a fresh pot of Game Fuel. That’s right – we need to talk about Halo 3.

Rest assured, we will be featuring a review of the game in some form or another, despite the fact that it is rather useless to review the biggest-game-of-the-decade-until-GTA4-comes-out. Though perhaps I am wrong about that – if vl’s readership is anything like its staff, there may be some of you who are unsure about this franchise, in which case we’ll have lots to talk about. But before a proper review is done, we have to play the damn thing. And before even that happens, there are a few things we should get out of the way. →  I can has post?

Sony’s Jamie Macdonald lies to Spong

Digg led me to a hilariously bad review of Bioshock today. The site the review is on is called Sony Defense Force and, luckily, the entire site is hilarious. It may be a parody but it’s hard to tell, especially after the All I Want For Christmas is a PSP debacle.

Browsing the SDF page, I came across this gem of a story: PS2 still outselling Wii in all Major Markets. The bloggers own comments are excellent – “Looks like Wii won’t even be able to catch PS2. Get ready for another Sony dominated generation.” More importantly, the quote from Jamie Macdonald is an obvious lie:

“Jamie Macdonald: Could I just point something out – that PlayStation 2 is still outselling Wii in all the major markets.

Unless he delivered this interview from last year, he is wrong. →  Secread of Evermore

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 5.4.07

Sony markets to teens
Sony decided this was a smart business move after analyzing the figures:
Selling games to 10 year olds = totally lame (Nintendo sux LOL)
Selling games to 14 year olds = awesome to the max (we rulz)

The All I want for Christmas is a PSP, Sony’s first attempt to market to teens, went over slightly better than September 11th. Most failed ads don’t bring in more customers, this failed ad led to current customers donating their PSPs to their walls at 15 MPH.

EA noticing Wii and DS appeal to kids, plans bad mini-game game to cash in
EA Playground appeals to “the kid in everyone.” How exactly did EA deduce this? There are the obvious things that appeal to kids but not adults, like finding the opposite sex disgusting and eating chalk. →  Katamari Damaread

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. →  Postsona 3 FES

Review – Sam and Max Episode 2 – Situation: Comedy

Is episodic gaming on the ropes already? That seems to be what some people are saying. It’s kind of hard to believe this when the idea still hasn’t gotten off the ground, but these claims have some merit. Sin Episodes is in limbo, and everyone has come to agree that Valve is really making Half Life 2 expansion packs, regardless of what they want to call them. That leaves Telltale Games as the only major developer that has followed through with their promise of timely episodic content. First they did it with Bone, and now Sam and Max looks to be moving along right on schedule. The second episode, Situation: Comedy, was released just before Christmas, and I’ve finally gotten around to finishing it. At first glance there doesn’t seem to be enough to say about Ep. →  Prince of Postia: Article Within

Merry Christmas NiGHTS

NiGHTS into Dreams for the Saturn brings to mind the topic of games as art. Not only because the game has artistic value, though. Fans of the title have been calling for a sequel from the second the original was released. Yuji Naka, the leader of the project, contemplated giving fans what they want but then decided NiGHTS should stand alone.

So what does this have to do with art? Gamers’ have the attitude that games are made for them and developers should value the input of their fans. This works nicely as long as we assume games are merely consumer products. But what if we hold that games are art? Doesn’t that make developers artists? It’s one thing to hope your favorite band makes more music you enjoy, but to demand they output exactly what you want to hear and to feel entitled to this is bizarre. →  Read like G did.

Actual Use for an SD Card: Excite Truck

Early last week, my girlfriend noticed that she had a surprise under our Christmas tree. Not one to bow down to that kind of challenge, she soon met my present with one of her own. Hesitating for only a second, we both agreed to exchange them early. She was now the happy recipient of an iHome, while I got to bask in the glory that is Excite Truck.

The game is definitely a fun experience. It’s like Motorstorm, only without the whole over-promise, under-deliver thing. I can also see a lot of Burnout 3 in it. In the very little time I’ve had with the game, I have to say it was a great present. Hopefully I’ll have a review of it soon, barring any unforeseen writer’s block.

But the real gem in this game is the fact that you can import music from an SD card and listen to them while playing. →  Drakenread 2

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 12.22.06

Resident Evil 5 not coming in ‘07
1up has reported that the next proper sequel in the Resident Evil franchise will be coming in 2008, if not later. I don’t know where I’ll be living or working in six months and I’m supposed to care about a game that may not be out for three years? Human life probably won’t even exist by that point, and if it does, we will surely have evolved gills and other radical changes that will make gaming obsolete. Capcom might as well just say that Resident Evil 5 is never coming out.

Good games coming to the Virtual Console this Christmas
Some people have bitched about the low quality of Virtual Console titles. For every Zelda, Nintendo gives us a Solomon’s Key, Altered Beast and Tennis. →  Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the article?

Videolamer’s Holiday Shopping Guide

Knowing what game to buy for whom is a job all in itself, especially for out of touch parents. If reading review after review of technical mumbo jumbo sounds like too much work, the videolamer Holiday Shopping Guide is for you. Simply identify which grouping best fits the lucky recipient of your gifts then follow every word of advice to the letter and Christmas/ Chanukah/ Kwanza / Ramadan/ Festivus/ Dhanvantari Trayodashi will be saved.

The Indiscriminate Eye

Who they are: We all have that friend or relative who seems to have had their taste assigned to them by pop radio, Howard Stern and MTV. While it would seem these people should be easy to shop for, they actually react quite violently to anything that is unpopular. These people are the “mass” in “mass appeal.” →  Read, you fools!