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 Band 2

Discussion Review – Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Smash Bros Brawl is no doubt the biggest game to hit the Wii yet, and if history indicates anything, it very well could be the best selling Wii game by the time the console retires. Such epic expectations seem daunting, though we know that many fans are already more than pleased with the results. With experience in all three games, videolamer’s Chrises explore the world of Brawl.

Christian: Alright Chris, we’ll get right down to it. As a “love letter to the fans”, how does Brawl stack up? Personally, I am impressed with the sheer amount of content, but am shaky on the execution. The music is abundant, but too many of the tracks are straight out of the game they came from, and the newly arranged tracks are often a little too conservative for my liking. →  Sounds mildly entertaining, I guess.

Review – God of War: Chains of Olympus

Reviewing God of War: Chains of Olympus can be done in either a paragraph or several pages. Actually, describing the game can be done in one hearty breath, though its existence makes for a longer and frustrating commentary on the industry.

Let us get the first part out of the way; Chains of Olympus is developer Ready at Dawn’s attempt to bring the full God of War experience to the PSP. In this goal they have succeeded; the game looks and plays so closely to the PS2 originals that Chains (almost) sits right up there with them in terms of quality. It really is amazing to think that this game is being played on a handheld. Unfortunately, in trying so hard to emulate the PS2, the experience also becomes excessively generic. →  Michigan: Article from Hell

Online play – the kids aren’t alright

Gamasutra recently posted an article about how annoying people in online play may very well be hurting sales. Regardless of whether this is a stretch, any discussion from developers about the problem of griefers is welcome. Like it or not, multiplayer features are becoming critical to the success of a game, so it is important to see those making them look at the issues that surround providing a good online experience. Otherwise all those Gamespot reviews that call for multiplayer everything start to look even sillier.

The more I play Call of Duty 4, the more I notice the trends among idiotic players. Among your older players, the supposed majority of the gaming world, you get your typical racists, wanna be gangsters, and so on. The most annoying of the bunch, the people who frequently teamkill, spam the voice channel, and use foul language and racial slurs until the words lose all meaning, seem to be in the 18 and under crowd. →  Ask not for whom the game plays, it plays for thee.

Better Late Than Never — Tyson Reviews the Xbox 360

I showed up a couple of years late to the party that has been the Xbox 360. Thanks to my cheapness and the joys of region encoding, I held off getting Microsoft’s newest system while I was in Japan, vowing to grab one mere minutes upon my return to the United States. Over the past two years I have had bouts of jealousy, smug satisfaction, and concern as I watched the trials and tribulations of the Xbox 360 owner. From red rings of death to the release of Halo 3, I have quietly observed from the sidelines and bided my time. Well, that time has come. Holding true to my promise, I picked up a 360 Elite two days after landing in the US and since then I have been sampling the many facets of the console. →  You lost me.

2008 Game Predictions part 2

Continued from Part 1.

Christian’s predictions

Devil May Cry 4
I realized when I decided to write about this game that I knew very little about it. What are they doing with DMC4? If you look around the ‘net you will find previews, but fewer than I expected. Leave it to Gamespot to write a classic preview that lays out the entire first five levels of the game, complete with story spoilers for me to read.

As nice as the game looks, I’m getting a bad feeling about the whole project. I have no idea how Devil May Cry stacks up to the competition in terms of sales, but I can’t imagine that its last entry led to numbers comparable to God of War or the numerous Ninja Gaiden revisions. →  Ring of Read

Review – King Of Fighters XI

I am still in a state of shock – SNK actually managed to bring the PS2 port King of Fighters XI to America. For a long time we heard nothing even regarding a possibility of release, and, in typical SNK fashion, it was announced and released so quietly that people only knew it was shipping via automated Amazon emails. I think the Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting compilations from earlier in the year got more press coverage than King Of Fighters XI.

Rest assured dear readers, the game is here; mostly intact from the Japanese release (we lost online play) and sporting its own beautiful cover art. Part of me is, of course, glad to simply have a chance to play it, but a smaller part wishes it would get the attention it deserves. →  A reader is you.

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. →  Fine, but this article then no more.

Review – Halo 3 multiplayer

Don’s review of the Halo campaign mode made a lot of points about the difference between PC and console FPS. Namely, one is for those who are strong like the Ukraine, while the other is for metrosexuals and males who have yet to have their balls drop. Such strong words despite a fair review. With the task of reviewing Halo 3 multiplayer upon me, I looked at it as a challenge. You see, I was once part of that cult as well; the masochistic, PC hardware and shooter junkies were once the tribe I called my own. But I left them a long time ago, and Halo 3 multiplayer is the best proof yet as to why I did.

Let us begin with a story. Once upon a time, I was addicted to Unreal Tournament 2004. →  I'm so excited, my braces are tingling!

Review – Halo 2 Vista

Is Halo 2 for Windows Vista Worth Your Hard Earned Cash?

If you’re reading this (which you clearly are) I assume that you fall into one of two categories:

1. You are thinking of re-buying your favorite XBOX game for the PC and are wondering if $50 for a three year old game that you already have might be worth it.

2. You want to get a well detailed laugh at the people in category #1.

So, sure, I’ll save you some precious expending of your literacy skill and humor you with the summary of this review: Of course not.

But you already knew that. Unless you suffer from chronic short term memory, and frequent Books-A-Million every ten minutes to pick up your copy of Teen People, you don’t need me to tell you not to buy things that you already bought. →  Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Bore me and I sleep.

Requiem for a Dreamcast

I used to think I was pretty clever when I told folks that “Nintendo made me a gamer. Ocarina of Time made me hardcore”. I kept thinking this for quite some time, but eventually realized that pre-OOT, I wasn’t really a “gamer”, just a kid whose game experience consisted of little more than a string of Nintendo consoles, a few hours on the Genesis, and a dusty old 486 PC. This was a time when fresh games came to my house twice a year if I was lucky.

After Zelda I truly became a “gamer”, though now I think it had less to with that game in particular and more to do with the fact that around that time I was introduced to a modern day computer, Next Generation Magazine, and a Sony Playstation. →  Rule of Read

What happened to competition? From arcades to gamerscores

Remember high scores. You don’t see them around very much, though they still pop up in some of my favorite new games. But why exactly did they begin to disappear? We generally hear explanations involving the rise of story based games and other such nonsense, but when three of the most popular games of the decade are Halo, Madden and World of Warcraft, it is tough to accept this as an era of Single Player. There must be another reason.

Before we look for that reason, we should start from the beginning and look at the nature of the high score. There were surely hacks and exploits available in some classic games (as any Street Fighter fan will know), but I would like to think they weren’t commonplace, and that more often than not the list of high scores in an arcade cabinet was the honest work of skilled players. →  You do not simply walk into reading more.

What makes a game mature?

In the March issue of PSM is a reader-written letter complaining that nearly all PS3 games are violent (meaning they had gun violence or graphic gore). He asked where the Psychonauts, Wario Wares and other games he could enjoy with his kids were. The editor’s reply was, “The truth is that the PS3 isn’t intended for kids this early in its life cycle. For now, it’s an expensive, hardcore machine targeted almost exclusively at the older gaming audience.” The game industry as a whole has a strange notion of what mature is and is not.

Kids understand violence just fine.

At the core of this issue lies a conflict on the definition of mature. In my world, mature doesn’t mean blood and nipples. Mature ideas, concepts and media are things children wouldn’t understand. →  READ3R

What is Nintendo waiting for?

Nintendo has a chance to regain some market share this generation. The Wii is still hard to find five months after launch and there are reports that Nintendo’s stated mission of expanding the market is succeeding. But for every smart move they make, a dumb one — like keeping the friend code system intact — is soon to follow. I have compiled a short list of things Nintendo really should do sooner rather than later.

The most grievous sin Nintendo has committed is their neglect of online play. What were they doing while Xbox Live took off? It’s as if they only started thinking about the structure of Wii online after the system launched, instead of seven years ago when SegaNet showed us how cool online gaming could be. Personally, I think the lack of online capability (for gaming right now) is what makes the Wii feel a little old, not the weaker comparative processing power. →  Readbot Chronicles

The current state of fighting games

At the time of this writing, Dead or Alive and Virtua Fighter have released new entries on next generation consoles. Tekken 6 was just announced, and I’m sure it is only a matter of time before we hear something about Soul Calibur 4. It seems that fighting games are doing A-okay on the next gen systems. And yet I still get a sinking feeling about one of my favorite genres. I’m not going to go and make an assertion about fighters being doomed to become as niche as the schmup, but I still can’t shake a feeling of worry. Let’s break it down by companies and see why:

Namco/Sega: These two are responsible for the three (Tekken, VF, and Soul Calibur) most popular and powerful 3d fighting franchises. All three have dedicated fanbases that will ensure they do well enough in terms of sales. →  Hell is other gamers.

Weekly News We Care About Wrap Up – 2.9.07

Jack Tretton wants to give you $1200
In the March issue of EGM, Sony’s Jack Tretton declared, “If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that’s been on shelves for more than five minutes, I’ll give you 1,200 bucks for it.” This interview has been reported on before, but the quote is too funny not to highlight.

To make matters worse for Tretton, EGM responds to his offer by explaining that they called 18 random retailers and half of them had PS3s sitting on shelves. Tretton replied with, “I am not sitting in the store to know when they got put on the shelves or if a salesperson is giving you accurate information, but if only nine of the 18 stores you contacted had supplies, that seems to be a clear indication that sales continue to be outstanding.” →  Up to 6 billion readers.

Let Us Cling Together: The joy of playing games cooperatively

Imagine you’re delving into a dark labyrinth. You’re exploring the endless hallways, looking for a path leading deeper into the ruin when you’re ambushed by a dozen demons both ahead and behind. You’re certain this is the end… but then you realize your partner was trailing a ways behind you, and by now she should blasting her way through the enemies attacking from the rear. Thus assured, you unsheath your sword and charge on ahead… This is the magic of cooperative gaming.

I find it hard to get into any competitive game (with the exception of Smash Bros). The idea of playing against other people just isn’t as fun as playing alongside them. I tend to find cooperative games much more enjoyable, but it’s a much under-appreciated genre. Before the release of Half-Life, Valve promised cooperative play in the game but never delivered, instead creating only an online deathmatch mode. →  Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatarticle

Eulogy for the GameCube

What can I say, GameCube? You had a good run these last five years, but your last exclusive release was Baten Kaitos Origins, back in September. Not even Nintendo themselves stuck it out until the end, moving Super Paper Mario onto the Wii. I’m sorry GameCube, but it’s time to say goodbye.

But let’s not look at your failures too much. Let us remember you as you were: a console that was home to some truly great games. You deserve it. And don’t worry about all those haters on the Internet, calling you a failure. In time, they’ll begin to understand.

You were released on Nov. 18th 2001 to a somewhat muted launch. In a surprise attack, Microsoft’s Xbox and their Halo stole much of your spotlight. I remember watching the video review of Halo on GameSpot, where the reviewer couldn’t sleep at night because he was playing Halo too much. →  Did I do that?

Review – Street Fighter Alpha Anthology

Yeah, the menus are that simple.

The last few years have been tough for Street Fighter fans. As 2d gaming continues to wane, Capcom is far too wary to release anything new, for fear that even something as big as Street Fighter 4 would not sell enough to warrant the cost of development. Instead, they’ve decided to take the conservative route with their 2d offerings, either by cobbling together something quick and dirty like Capcom Fighting Jam, or by releasing compilations of their older stuff. Many people frown at the concept, since Capcom rarely give fans what they want (even though they’re the target audience) and because the games exist solely for the company to milk its prize franchises as much as possible

Of course this is all true, but I don’t really mind the idea of compilations. →  18 Wheeler American Pro Reader

E3 sheds light on consoles shortcomings

E3 not only showed us what to crap our pants in excitement and anticipation over, but also the things that will surely disappoint. After hearing about each of the new generation of systems I have compiled a list of one or two major complaints about each.

Sony’s Ken Kutaragi has said that people who buy the PS3 will have HDTVs. He has also called the system the Cadillac of game systems. He may have missed the fact that the Play Station line has been so successful because it was marketed and sold to the casual gamer. I have no cute anecdote for the PS2, but the PS1 sold better than the Saturn in Japan despite the fact that Saturn software outsold PS software. This is because serious gamers bought the Saturn and then a shitload of games while casual gamers bought a Play Station and Toshinden. →  Sounds amazing, I must read it now!