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Final Fantasy XIII Launch Party
When the highlight of a launch party is the awful free pizza and a good portion of the audience leaves before the giveaway of the product you're launching because they don't care to stick around that long, there is a problem.
Going to the Final Fantasy XIII launch party last night, I saw East meet West in a battle of apathy and bored gluttony. The crazy, unnaturally blonde spiked hair of the otaku crowd met the great western nerded neck-beard at the IMAX in Darling Harbour. No photos are available because Ubisoft representatives nicely confiscated phones and cameras as we entered. Ubisoft is distributing the 360 version in these territories with Sony handling the distribution of the Playstation version.
Ubi kicked off the party by playing the UK launch trailer for the game which has been available for a few days. As someone who has not followed this game at all, I can honestly say I was somewhat intrigued. As the launch trailer was abruptly paused at the Final Fantasy XIII logo, the crowd remained silent. A taken-aback Ubi rep then proceeded to regale us with a brief history of the franchise that is (and this was news to me) "the premier RPG franchise in the world". I think Dungeons and Dragons might have something to say about that, but then I'm a pedant.
The gameplay demo began with another Ubisoft rep playing various portions of the game. The opening sequence reminded me of Final Fantasy VII with the heroes arriving via train in a huge futuristic city (I'm sure that was intentional). As the gameplay demo wore on I was quickly cured of any interest I had in the title. The maps consist of running in a straight line, with the occasional right-angle turn, from one end of the map to the other. Occasionally there is a detour, which is a short walk off the main path, sometimes with an ambush, where you can get an extra treasure chest. There were brief scenes showing what seemed to be a world map in the trailer, but I never saw anything like that in the gameplay demo or my brief time hands on later in the evening.
During battle, the player only controls the "lead" character. There is a "paradigm shift" thing that does something that wasn't very well explained, but it seemed like you could shift from offense to defence in the middle of a battle for strategic reasons. The Eidolon battle demonstrated this. Eidelons are the "summons" for Final Fantasy XIII. Shiva appears as sisters who then wrap their legs around each other and turn in to a motorcycle. Odin is a giant robot man who turns in to a horse and then gallops on the air making hoofbeat sounds (despite the fact he's not actually walking on anything). I laughed out loud at that bit during the demonstration, but I don't think I was supposed to. Anyway, the Eidelon battle mostly consisted of the player blocking a whole bunch (real exciting and strategic) and occasionally switching "paradigms" to attack. Then the battle abruptly ended and the player got a five star ranking, which gets you extra items at the end of the battle. Then the woman from Farscape captured the (at the time) main character named Snow and I wondered why I was wasting my life like this.
When I actually played the game, I found myself wondering if "this was it". Apparently it is. You walk in a straight line and get in to fights which can be avoided if you simply don't run in to enemies on the map. A bonus as far as I'm concerned. Random battles annoy me. After the fight, which consists of pressing the A button enough times once your meter fills up, you get a ranking and some items and move forward. Then a cut scene plays. There was no audio, so I couldn't hear the characters, and there were no subtitles, so I didn't know what was happening, so I just skipped the cut scenes. I realise that the entire point of this game is the cut-scenes, but I like to play my games, not watch them. You can press start to pause the cut scene any time and press back to skip it. That is an awesome feature but it shouldn't be a feature at all. It should be standard for all games. That's the best thing I have to say about this game, yes even better than the incestuous lesbian motorcycle robot ice goddesses.
I asked an Ubisoft lady if the Xbox 360 version is any different from the Playstation version. She said that it wasn't, except that it comes on multiple DVDs instead of one Blu Ray disc. So that is that.
The free pizza was Dominos, so don't get excited about that part. I ate it because I was hungry, and then I ate it because I was bored. Then I realised I didn't care if I won the game or the 360 that came with it. If you're interested it's the same deal going for Modern Warfare 2 and Mass Effect 2 - A special edition console with a 250GB HDD and two wireless controllers. I collected my mobile phone from the lady who's facial expression seemed to want to apologise for the whole evening and then I dropped my raffle ticket by the exit as I left. I took a free bottle of water as I went because I thought I might be thirsty on the way home but I wasn't.
Things that piss me off about UT3
I tried playing UT3 again today, for no real reason. Then I remembered why I don't play it.
1: It makes me put in the CD key everytime I play it even though I bought it over Steam.
2: It never saves the settings I change (resolution, FOV etc) when I play the game.
3: Some of the settings I change won't take effect until I restart the game, which really pisses me off because see thing 2.
4: Hoverboards? Really? you wonder why PC gamers largely ignored UT3 when you a) pander to the console audience and b) ignored what gamers actually want (assault mode plz!!1)
5: It looks like Gears of War in every respect. I except the locust to show up as an enemy in UT4. The are direction in ut3, as in Gears, is horrid. I realise this is personal taste, but what happened to the fun and vibrant colours and characters from UT2k4?
6: You haven't done squat to keep anybody playing. It seems that you've forgotten one of the fundamental rules of pc gaming: more content every now and then keeps people playing and ends up with more people buying to play with the people that keep playing. I understand that console gaming has changed this somewhat, now that you can use closed systems to make people pay for extra content, but PC gamers are a) not that dumb and b) not that loyal (unless you're Valve or Blizzard (or that up-and-comer Stardock), and let's face it, the way you've been treating and talking about pc gamers lately, you aren't anywhere near our good books).
Hopefully all this will be addressed when you finally release that steam package you've been going on about.
Lara Croft is a Bitch
I used to think Lara was cool. She had a can-do, can't-die attitude did stuff that looked like fun. Just hours in to her new adventure it dawned on me that Lara isn't a heroine at all. She's an egocentric bitch. She is, at best, a completely self-centred anti-hero, and the “good” results of her actions (saving the world, etc) are completely secondary to her own selfish goals.
She is not an archaeologist. She's a destroyer. When she comes across an ancient temple, she doesn't revere it or study it with a dedicated team who love what they do for the sake of science and history, no, she tears it down single handedly because she wants to get to the loot inside before anyone else. Not so she can put it in a museum, but because she wants it because it is somehow tied to her family and her family alone because her dad was an archaeologist and her mum died myteriously so everyone else is secondary and anything she destroys in her way is completely understandable because she's rich and can afford to stuff around.
That's without mentioning the complete disregard she holds for life. The creature she comes across in the first level of Underworld is a magnificent beast. Kind of cranky, sure, but you would be too in those circumstances. Without a thought she kills it fucking dead, a priceless creature not seen in hundreds of years, noble and long lived, and she kills it dead because it's blocking a bloody doorway.
Lara Croft is a bitch.
Tecmo - Itagaki = Fail
So Itagaki (aka GOD) has left Tecmo after they refused to pay his bonus. Now a good chunk of his former team are also leaving for the same reason.
As a result, Tecmo's stock price is taking a beating, since I can't think of another Tecmo game that is equal to the calibre of Ninja Gaiden, not to mention the whole “not telling the stockholders” thing in the article above, which, if I know finance, is VERY BAD.
So Itagaki is now a free spirit and, I would guess, in talks with Mircosoft? He seems to like them, they seem to like him. He could hire his 36 brothers from Team Ninja back and they could get back to work.
Meanwhile, Tecmo's price will tumble, and eventually they will get bought out, probably.
Who will put Itagaki in charge of Ninja Gaiden and DOA again.
And all will be right with the world.
A guy can dream, can't he?
...I'm gonna miss Itagaki and his crazy ninja ways...
Thoughts on GTA4 drinking the Guinness
This news article got me thinking.
Video games, and GTA as the current flagship video game franchise, blow other entertainment media out of the water.
As a gamer, I don't really like the GTA series. I think they're buggy pieces of sensationalist average-ness that, without hookers and swear words, would be just another sandbox style game where you do a lot of nothing to kill time just because.
I mean, if you played the same game, same engine, but replaced the gangster main character with a delivery boy who, instead of dealing drugs and working for syndicates, delivered pizzas in a large open city with lots of stuff to do in it, no one would care nearly as much.
My personal opinion on the franchise aside, the sales numbers speak for themselves, and should prove beyond any doubt to any reasonable person that video gaming is not a fad industry, but now the premiere money making entertainment medium in the world.
Consider this: Block buster game budgets (about $20 million) are still far below the budgets of major motion pictures. This season's big movies, Iron Man and Indiana Jones, both cost about $180 million each, not counting marketing budgets which, in Indy's case, is estimated to be almost the same as the production costs, at $150 million [Source: LA Times])
That means they need, in Indy's case, nearly $400 million just to break even.
Video games not only makes more money in net worth, but compared to the development costs, they require fewer sales to break even. Of course, the cost of each individual unit sold (US$60, AUS$120) is much greater than a movie ticket (US$8, AUS$12), and you only need one copy per household (as opposed to one movie ticket per person).
When it comes to numbers, it's pretty clear cut. Gaming makes more money for less, and its about time it was treated as a proper form of entertainment, for all ages, instead of having the issue degenerate in to whinging about kids playing games their parents should never have bought for them in the first place.
The whole video game issue will go away. Eventually. It's been said before, countless times, that such scapegoating happened with comic books and rock and roll music. Eventually, it went away. Not entirely, but it was not front page news when someone killed themselves listening to music, or one kid accidentally punched another kid in the face play-acting super heroes.
Believe it or not, books were considered unjust, back when the printing press was invented. People reading novels for fun was considered heinous when they could be reading the bible or working in the fields. Of course, the contrvoersy over Harry Potter leading kids to witchcraft by loud-mouthed whinging christians complain show just how far we haven't come (and it's also a good indication of who's to blame.)
So we just have to ride the whole storm in a tea-cup issue out, and GTA's sales is a pretty buoyant fact to cling to until we reach dry land.
Day Trip to Activision
I went to Activision on Monday. It was a good day, all up, aside from some trouble with my knee that kept me distracted. I've finally got my previews online, after some net downtime. Anyone else on the Eastern Coast of Australia get some nasty lag/DNS problems?
First, I was shown Guitar Hero: On Tour for the Nintendo DS, which, I must admit, looks far better than I would have thought, and then another title, which I can't yet speak about.
Suffice to say I enjoyed it, and I can't wait to tell you about it.
That game was followed by We Love Golf, in which I got to experience one of the most immediately puzzling (but in hindsight, one that made a lot of sense) control schemes yet seen for the Wii.
With the games out of the way, the journey to and from Activision was highlighted by the stabbing pains associated with knee joints when you're six and a half feet tall. Now I'm told I need to see a specialist, so he can stick a camera in my knee and then play with my cartilage.
An Angry Letter to Activision
In light of recent events, I have decided to cease my recreational contract with you.
Effective immediately, my purchases will no longer pad your bottom line.
And I do mean pad.
In light of the hissy fit you threw over Steam pricing, well aware of the fact that it would be outrageous for Australian consumers to pay, literally, the US dollar equivalent for your titles, you instead opted to increase the price from US$50 (roughly $60 Australian, given current favourable exchange rates) to more than $85.
Bear in mind, this price increase reflects only one title on Steam. Your own. This was a decision, made by you and your people, to effectively rape my wallet for granting me the "privilege” of playing your newest title.
And from what I've heard, it's good. Single player, while short, is fun. Multiplayer, while a stat-whore fest, is also fun, despite breaking the cardinal rule of an equal playing ground for everyone.
But I won't be playing it and I won't be paying for it.
My friends, who have decidedly less scruples than myself, will be playing it.
But like me, they will not be paying for it.
I guess they figure that, since half of Australia is paying double what they should be, then half of Australia should get it for free, to create a balance.
You know, restore the equilibrium. Yin and yang. Light and Dark. Tom and Jerry.
I understand your desire for money. You are a publicly listed company, and most of your games are shit. You lose a fair bit, so the need to make it back on your better titles is noticeably overwhelming.
Price fixing and regional encoding, however, do nothing for the consumer.
Bear in mind, these consumers, like myself, are the people paying you. We pay your wages. We pay your developments costs. We pay you for the privilege of providing us with entertainment.
This is what you seem to have backwards. We pay you, so that you have the privilege of providing us with entertainment.
Being bent over a barrel and having your hand up my ass to reef out the small change I swallowed as a child is not entertainment.
Having a developer restrict access to a product I wish to pay for is not fun.
It's not just COD4 and every other game released in PAL territories that causes the pain.
Have you heard of Guitar Hero 3? I'm sure you have. It's one of those titles you want to exploit annually and with which your offer consumers the fair choice of paying a fistful of dollars for three songs. Making sure the songs are jumbled up so you have to buy three at once, of course, and making sure that if someone does want three songs, then all three of those songs will be in different packs, allowing for the purchase of nine songs, six of which are unwanted and paid for.
But I digress.
This issue does not really affect me, since I own the Wii version. Yeah, you think you know where I'm going with this.
But you don't.
Aside from the painfully obvious and ridiculously stupid matter of messing up the sound in a music based rhythm game, and Nintendo's inability to provide a download service that does does run straight through their own money grubbing Virtual Console service, there is one other issue Wii gamers should have taken to heart but didn't.
Allow me to scatter the bones and read the runes.
This “guitar” you have fashioned for the Wii consumer is a joke. Not only does it contain none of the technology required for it to work, but you ask that the Wii consumer get the thing to work by using one of their own Wii remotes.
You price your guitar, at least here in Australia (where I still can't buy an extra guitar without buying the game again, but since the game is broken why would I buy it until you released the fixed version, even if I was stupid enough to buy it again anyway) is $80.
$150 right there, to get one guitar controller working.
The big difference, of course, is that the Wii remote actually contains all the technology you need for the guitar to work!
It contains the wireless, the rumble, the tilt sensor. It even has that funky speaker that makes missed notes screech out of the guitar itself.
Both controllers charged at $70. One is a shell. One is full of technology.
Looking at the same game on another platform, such as PS3 or 360, one can see that you charge the same amount for a guitar controller on those platforms.
$150 RRP for your product.
And yet, the Wii version has a guitar with less technology. Where do you make up the extra money?
Is it in the quality of the version you have released?
Is it in the free content you offer to Wii owners?
You don't even have the option to allow Wii owners to download songs, partly because Nintendo have yet to see the light of 1995 where removable storage became the in thing.
But you're still not off the hook.
$80 on another console gets you a guitar with wireless technology, tilt sensors and rumble.
$80 for a guitar on the Wii gets you a shell that allows you to plug in a device that has wireless technology, tilt sensors and rumble.
When Activision decides to stop treating the consumer like a free meal, I will gladly buy something of yours.
If it's a new River Raid.
That was the best thing you and your namesake ever made. I'd like to see another one.
Please, stop being assholes. Embrace the PAL gamer as equal. When you realise that the PAL market is the largest in the world, and that this works well with the cardinal rule of business: “it's easier to take $1 from one hundred people person than $100 from one person”, when you realise this, maybe you will not need to “exploit” your games and your audience so gratuitously.
You're a bunch of overcharging money grubbers who don't realise that the consumer you are trying to court is not only smarter than you, but they can take what you are trying to sell for free if you try to mess with them.
A PAL gamer who is sick of your bullshit (and a former paying customer)
This is my theory for Nintendo's next hardware move.
Nintendo is well known for it's Game Boy range. After all, it is the largest selling video game system of all time.
We have the Nintendo DS, which I love, and when it was released, Nintendo said it had the tech available for sometime, that it had just never been financially viable to release it mass market.
This is my theory.
The Nintendo Wii is 100% backward compatible, up to and including GameCube. It even has the controller and memory card slots built in.
But, and this is a big but, what if it wasn't just for the sake of backwards compatibility.
What if it was for future compatibility?
Nintendo has stated that it intends the GameCube to have a ten year lifespan.
It's been five years.
My prediction is that, next year at E3, with the Wii released and in the spotlight, Nintendo will unveil the next in the E3 lineup.
The Game Boy Cube.
It runs on GameCube discs. Nintendo's ingenious hardware division has come up with a power saving way to include optical media in a handheld that doesn't drain the battery like a weight watcher at a fat free buffet.
Two built in stick using nubs similar to that on the PSP, but with an actual level of sensitivity.
The rumours have been going around for ages.
My guess is that they are true and that the Wii hardware is evidence.
Of course, there is the problem of “Why isn't the DS functionality as well?”
I have no idea.
Still, I'm guessing Nintendo has something awesome in store.
Perhaps a DS GCN Hybrid?
A new type of DS that runs on similar hardware to that of the GCN but with DS features and the ability play GCN games as the DS plays GBA games.
One with built in emulation so we can download past Nintendo games from our Wii onto SD cards and play them on the go.
A man can dream can't he?
A man can dream...
Sony's Evolutionary New Controller
Going on their past record, I'm going to say right here and now that I know what's coming.
Nintendo comes along with something, Sony doubles it up.
You can nark at me for being a fanboy, I'll freely admit it, I like Nintendo more than I like Sony, but you also have to admit that Sony's track record is not...spotless.
Shoulder buttons. Not a biggy, but Nintendo had two on the SNES. Sony comes along and has four.
Analog Sticks. Now we're talking. Nintendo comes out with something heralded as amazing and intuitive. Sony doubles up and comes out with two of them.
Rumble Pack. Nintendo makes force feedback mainstream. Sony takes the rumble pack and adds two of them, one in each handle, forming the dual shock.
It has been said that time flows like a river, and that history repeats. (If you can name the game the quote comes from, I'll give you an e-cookie).
Thus, I herald in Sony's innovation.
Each half of the controller contains its own sensor, not only for aiming at the television, but also the haptic sensor used to detect movement.
So now the controllers are dual wield-able.
But instead of alienating the old school crowd, Sony keeps the D-pad, the thumb stick, the four face buttons, the two shoulder buttons on the back of the unit, the start button on the right half, the select button on the left.
The two controllers also snap together, in a lovely display, once again forming the dual shock controller, whose shape has become synonymous with gaming.
Now you can aim, tilt, rumble and jive your way to victory with Sony's evolutionary new controller.
Snapped together, pulled apart, I give you Sony's new controller.
The Dual Shock SIXAXIS Half Bake Laser Pointer.
I'm being sarcastic of course, but I'd say the chances of Sony releasing a controller similar to this are greater than fifty fifty.
Mark my words.
And now, the weather...
Lik Sang - DOA @ 0130
I am near to tears.
Let me tell you why.
When I can't find a game locally, there are two places I go to.
One is DVD Crave, a locally run website where they import some few titles, mostly for handhelds (which are region free) where shipping is quick, cheap and the business run well.
Then there is Lik Sang. When I can't find an item locally, I turn to them.
They have (had) a treasure trove of gaming items. From the games themselves to the (often collectors edition) consoles you played them on. From action figures to mugs, cheat software to peripherals.
Lik Sang was a gaming nerds dreamland.
It was <i>my</i> dreamland.
That dream ended for me today at one thirty in the morning as, writing a review for the GBA Castlevania Double Pack I picked up on holidays (along with a nasty bug that nearly killed me and which still taunts me) I decided to check the news.
One of my favourite stops, Kotaku, greeted me with the words “Holy Shit”.
Holy shit indeed.
Was Lik Sang doing anything illegal?
What were they doing?
Why, they were offering consoles to people from different territories. Specifically, they offered the Playstation 3, a console I shall never purchase, now or ever, to people outside the United States and Japan, the only two territories in Sony's “Worldwide Launch”.
Sony didn't like this.
To offer a product to someone, to make it available to someone from somewhere that Sony themselves cannot offer it to, due to Sony's own mismanagement and inability to deliver on promises made to the consumer?
To Sony this is a crime.
A crime worthy of suing Lik Sang in every territory of the European Union.
Fighting a legal battle in so many places bled them dry as sure as death from a thousand cuts delivered by chainsaws would bleed dry a small rodent, Lik Sang perished this morning.
And I wept.
Because Lik Sang had the audacity to offer a product outside Sony's own stipulated territories.
Lik Sang broke no law. The very matter itself is called “grey importing” by Sony themselves because there is no crime going on. It's not a black market. It's a grey market. Buying a product in one place, selling it in another.
The very essence of importing.
And Sony killed it out of greed.
To offer members outside the US and Japan a console <i>faster and at a cheaper price</I> than Sony themselves could deliver it?
Sony killed them as sure as they killed any vestige of like I had left for them.
In the European Union, the console sells for hundreds of US dollars more than it sells for in the US.
Because Sony can up the price and get away with it.
Everybody does it.
Sony pushed back the release date.
Because everybody does it.
But then Sony sues a company that makes it possible for Sony's own <i>die hard fans</i> to get their hands on the console early.
Before the mismanagement at Sony imposed such restrictions upon them.
It gets worse.
Lik Sang made available titles, actual games themselves, for territories where they weren't officially released.
You could buy a copy of Megaman Anniversary Collection for your Playstation 2, a title not released in PAL territories, and play it.
Instead now we are left with one alternative.
Instead of buying a title we have been denied from an importer, the only chance left to play it?
Burn it to disc.
In Sony's world, we play what they say, when they say, where they say, how they say, for the price they say.
In my world, Sony can go to hell.
From this day forth, I will not buy another Sony product.
I'm just one man.
One Lik Sang customer.
One of millions.
Project Makeover: Star Fox
Aiming and movement no longer have to be tied together.
They can be controlled independently, something I was sad to notice did not happen on the DS.
Imagine the ability to move your ship with the d-pad, slipping left and right with a touch of a button, while aiming over the entire screen with the stylus or, in the case of the Wii, the remote.
Or staying in the top left of the screen as you shoot down the barrage of tanks that roll towards you from the bottom right.
Now imagine how the controls in Star Fox work.
You move and point in the same direction.
Imagine if, in Unreal Tournament, if you wanted to shoot something above you, you had to jump until you were level with your target.
Or crouch until you're low enough to squeeze off the shot.
Imagine if there were no strafing. You move and you shoot in that one direction.
Secondly is the issue of presentation.
It's been said before and it will be said again.
Cutesy anthropomorphs do not an edgy franchise make.
But this doesn't mean I want to see them redesigned in favour of something 'edgy' and 'cool'.
They are camp.
Too many franchises try to be adult and fail.
Go the other direction.
Embrace the camp nature of the animal warfare that is the Star Fox franchise.
It's getting rare enough in these days of tits, sex and as much violence as you can cram onto a cart for maximum profit.
Thirdly, fix the non-Arwing combat.
Fox belongs in an Arwing, not because it's the best option, but because the others have been implemented poorly.
The Japanese don't enjoy a good FPS as much as western audiences, so implementing first person controls is all but out of the question.
The reason Metroid Prime got away with it is because it was primarily a western franchise to begin with, and developed by a western developer.
Fox should be able to land his Arwing and take to foot, armed with a blaster, a personal shield and his dashing maneuvers ala Super Smash Bros.
Use this to head towards the Tank, the Sub, whatever other vehicle they can fit in there.
Make some maps that aren't just open area.
Give us canyons of skyscrapers, oceans and islands where the Sub rules supreme, forested areas where on foot becomes an advantage, taking shots from the cover of foilage.
Give us variety.
I don't want to see a franchise where there is only the Arwing but, given the choice between great air combat and sub par fighting in other vehicles, I'd take sole Arwing action any day.
Variety is only good as long as the various others are well designed too.
Otherwise, what's the point?
All this, of course, stems from my experience with Star Fox Command, the most recent entry in the series.
At first, I thought it was little more than average. I wanted Lylat Wars and that, I realised, was my mistake.
It's not Lylat Wars.
It is its entirely own creation and should be appreciated as such.
The issues I had with it were control related, as I said in my review.
I'd like to see a decent mix of 'classic' levels and Command style missions and strategy in the sequel.
Perhaps, and this is me as an armchair designer here, the stages themselves could be used in Command missions.
Controlling your squad, intercepting missiles, recapturing bases, etc.
All done as in SFC.
But the classic, forced scrolling levels, they have their place as well.
Instead of merely showing a line on the galactic map showing Fox and co travelling the great expanse and arriving at their destination, make it a mission, a classic level, an on rails shooter.
No longer does Fox just show up at base but he punches through the planetary armada that blockades it.
Weaving, in a forced scrolling fashion, between giant war ships, fighting off enemy craft, taking on the massive bosses in weightlessness before landing and liberating those on planetside.
Tit for tat.
Fly to a new mission classic style, then arrive and do it Command style.
Then jet off and repeat, until Andross is once again buried beneath his own gigantic molten face.
And do it with new controls and a genuine appreciation for the camp design of the Star Fox franchise.
Make the score overly epic, make the characters literally that, characters, caricatures of themselves.
Take them beyond subtlety and make it just over the top fun.
I have no illusions that Nintendo is actually reading or paying attention to this.
I just hope they think along the same lines.
Of course, giving me what I want denies me the chance to see something even more unique and spectacular, and without denying me another Lylat Wars Nintendo would never have shown me what Star Fox Command could do.
Guitar Hero is coming to all significant next generation consoles.
My plii, it has been heard by my Gods of Rock.
Good news for everyone that likes good games.
Great news, in fact.
The news is marred, however, by Red Octane's recent legal issue.
You see, Red Octane is suing a peripheral maker for copyright infringement.
Funny, considering Red Octane made a lot of money not so many years ago selling Dance Mats for a certain "Revolutionary Dance" game.
I guess now that their on top they feel they can throw their weight around a bit.
It could have to do with the fact that the defendant used copyrighted trademarks on its product, but I'm guessing Red Octane is pissed because they made a wireless Gaming Axe before they did and they want some of the gold coins.
Speaking of which, wireless guitars should be standard for Wii.
Slide the Wii controller into the Guitar shell and away you go.
All these Wii titles about to be launched and I haven't even properly filled out my DS library yet.
it never rains, but it pours.
Lucasarts, the little engine that couldn't.
This little something is Lucasarts, specifically, their inability to finish a product before launching it out the door, forcing developers to release unfinished games so that the release conincides with whatever deadline they have at the moment, be it the holiday rush or the release of a certain trilogy on DVD, for th second time in two years.
Yes, Lucasarts, a company known for its Star Wars games and old school adventure titles held dear by many, has done it again.
Like KOTOR2 before it, Lego Star Wars 2 for the Nintendo DS is a ruined, broken mess.
What's more, the game, released on cartridge as it is, cannot even be patched. If you bought a copy of the initial run, you are stuck with a broken game with no way of fixing it.
KOTOR2 was released late in the year 2003. Counting on the success and critical acclaim of the Bioware developed original, Lucasarts handed the reins to newcomer Obsidian Entertainment, made up of RPG game veterans.
Reviews were mixed. Some said it was as good as the original but most, those who actually played the game the whole way through before reviewing it, panned it, and dutifully so.
The end of the game was a broken heap of snapped dialogue trees, bugs, missing characters, lost plot points and, to Lucasarts delight, money, as players bought the title expecting something at least on par with the original.
Expecting, as it were, a finished product.
To put it politely, Lucasarts bent us over and shafted us with the biggest, thickest, meatiest lightsaber they could find.
And then they stole the cash from out wallet.
There was an outrage, as there should have been. Lucasarts ignored it all, for the most part, and it was largely forgotten.
Surely such a thing would not happen twice.
To Lucasarts credit, they did release a patch. A patch that actually removed the content that led to broken dialogue trees and other issues, rather than add the missing content and fix the game that gamers like myself paid good money for.
Way to show your respect for your consumer, the very people that keep you alive.
Like Georgie Boy himself, the company that is Lucasarts ignores the consumer and does as they please, releasing inferior products because, hey, it's Star Wars, it's a privilege for them to give us money for whatever we decide to throw out the airlock, feces or not.
They haven't learnt anything.
Lego Star Wars 2, a sequel to a title that was critically acclaimed for its originality and the unqiue combination ot two licenses.
Are we having deja vu yet?
I think we are.
The sequel is in the works, the DS version of which has been handed over to Amaze entertainment.
What happens next is hazy but, to be sure, Lucasarts wanted the game shipped, to coincide with the re-release of the movies on DVD.
You know, the Star Wars movies that haven't been Special Edition Enhanced?
Right, the ones we actually like.
So Lucasarts forces Amaze to release the DS title, incomplete.
It gets built, packaged, distributed and, most importantly, it gets sold.
Lucasarts gets money and we get a broken game.
A mole for Amaze has contacted Kotaku after an invididual, who we will codename "Crecente", wrote a rant about why he hates the game for DS so much.
The reply was, to be frank, frightening.
The second batch of titles will be patched, but not complete.
Still not complete.
Are we happy yet?
I, for one, will not be buying another Lucasarts title.
In my humble opinion, Lucasarts can go and crawl into their money pit and sodomize one another with rolls of hundred dollar bills.
I hope they cut themselves on the jagged edge of broken fanboy hearts.
If I want something of theirs, there are other ways of acquiring it, without giving them money.
If they want my money, they have to earn it.
A Day That Will Go Down In History...
Yes, it is a day like any other.
Having recently begun the quest to upgrade my very outdated rig, I am discovering games I heretofore only looked at, focused as I was on the console scene.
A scene, I have begun to realise, that really needs a shakeup.
I've grown bored with the X-Box and the PS2 and the Gamecube. It's just not fun anymore.
I will be getting a Wii, since it lets me play games in a new way but the others? I've seen it all before. Except now, it's prettier!
So anyway, about the Wii.
I shall be importing.
One, cost. I can buy a US Wii for $330, that's $70 less than the local price. Even if shipping costs are $70, and takes a week, I will still have it a fortnight early for the same price.
Which is the second reason. Time. Games get released overseas before they get released locally. The delay is usually a month or two, sometimes less, oftentimes more. I'm not going to wait for some pansy ass distributor to, maybe, if they feel like it, localise a game for PAL territories.
Which brings me to my third reason. Regional coding. It used to have a purpose.
Back in the days of NTSC/PAL and limited hardware, games had to be fixed for local television signals and units had to be capable of putting out those signals.
Those days are gone.
Why is regional coding still included?
As far as I can tell, it's all about market control. They want to release some games in some territories, but not in others, to control the market and pricing.
Ask any british gamer the cost they have to pay for their consoles and games and they'll tell you a sad story of missing out on paying rent to buy a console.
Despite the fact that the Pound is worth about US$0.45 at current exchange rates, the price of the PS3 at launch in the US is $599.
How much are the brits paying?
Over double the price.
While it's not as bad locally, the Aussie dollar being worth about US$0.75, we're still paying a premium for the "honour" of purchasing products at a later date, if at all.
I've had enough.
Either region free or I'll get my goods elsewhere, it's as simple as that.
That's why I love the PC, specifically, Steam.
Valve has a good thing going here. Since there's no cost for shipping and the rent and employee wages on brick-and-mortar physical stores, they can offer games at a lower price.
All they have to do is run servers to deliver you the content.
What's more, release dates are universal. All it takes is the time to download the software which, thanks to pre-loading for pre ordered titles, becomes zero.
And perhaps the best feature is, again, the cost. Most games on Steam go for US$20.
That's about AU$25.
Digital distrbution is the future, even Sony has said so, even as they continue to hawk their "superior" Blu-Ray technology, which is keeping the cost of the PS3 out of reach of most consumers and costing them hundreds of dollars with every console sold.
As long as the device has a way to physically back up your software, something else Steam does with aplomb, there are no worries.
Reigon free digital distribution at a universal price.
No staggered release dates.
No price markups.
All ther consoles have a system in place. Microsoft has their X-Box Live Marketplace, which is doing well, and with good reason. Nintendo has the virtual console which, while pricing is a bit iffy, looks to do at least as well and Sony...I have no idea what they're doing.
Probably shooting themselves in the foot that's still in their mouth if recent goings on are anything to go by.
I love a good stream of consciousness rant, don't you?
Still not done.
That does't give us any details as to the state of the Australian launch.
A very frightened part of me feels that we might not see it until next year. It's happened before and it could happen again.
The Gamecube wasn't released down under until March the following year.
Same with the DS.
If that happens, I shall be importing.
I still haven't heard positive confirmation as to the state of the Wii's regional coding yet either.
Maybe I'm not looking hard enough.
If there is regional coding, I'm definately going to get an NTSC-US model.
Plenty of conflicting reports at the moment. The New York Times article was pulled after it went live, supposedly because they broke the embargo but possibly because they had some facts wrong.
Such as the price and the inclusion of Wii Sports as a pack in title.
To be honest, I'm too sick to wade through all the nonsense to get some straight answers at the moment. I'll wait until someone else does it.
Just started playing through KOTOR2 on X-Box after I picked it up for $20 brand new.
Not to shabby.
I can't believe the graphics in this game.
It's awful. The framerate chops around like a bad chef. The models aren't detailed and the resolution is low.
The engine used to run it is old, I know, but really, with the presentation the way it is and the amount of bugs in the game, especially toward the end, picking it up for anything more than $20 would have felt cruel.
here's hoping Obsidian does better next time round. I'm sure they will, given time.
if only Lucasarts hadn't forced the project out to meet the christmas buying period, perhaps the game would have been a worthy sequel to KOTOR.
In other news, I'm finally playing through Half Life 2 as well. It took me a while but I'm doing it. I just grabbed Painkiller for PC for $10 as well and, for the first level at least, the game is fun.
It's like Serious Sam only with a Quake 1 coat of paint and a Constantine storyline.
I love old school stuff like this.
Then there's Donkey Konga.
99 Red Balloons has become an anthem in this house of late.
If only I could play it for more than a few minutes without getting distorted vision. Those scrolling icons and backgrounds play with my eyes, not to mention make me a bit nauseous.
Anything I've forgotten? Oh yeah, Jedi Outcast. I played Academy on X-Box and picked up the prequel when I saw the chance. It's good but the lightsaber combat just doesn't feel right.
I just had deja vu.
Now listening to: Legend of the Snake 2 OC Remix: Reuben Kee
It's a Metal Gear Solif remix, a title I'm sure you're familiar with, at least in name.
Legend of the Snake 2
Some really nice, epic beats in there. Two thumbs up.
Guitar Hero Wii: A Plii to Harmonix
I, like millions of people around the world, have been awed at Guitar Hero, and I find myself worshipping you as my God of Rock.
There is, however, something I would like to bring to your attention.
Currently, to get my fix, I turn to the PS2.
All well and good but, as far as next generation consoles go, there is only one I have any plans of getting.
I speak, of course, of the Nintendo Wii.
I hereby beseech you, in prayer, as my patron god of the sonic arts, to grant me this boon:
Guitar Hero on Wii.
I have taken the liberty of citing reasons why this is the best idea anyone has ever had.
First of all, it's the cheapest of the next gen consoles, which helps toward building a large install base, no doubt one of the main reasons you chose PS2 to be home to Guitar Hero's 1 and 2.
Secondly, Nintendo, believe it or not, have some great tracks which I constantly find myself air guitaring.
Perhaps it's just my own sad, sad self that does this but...Mute City?
Have you heard it?
If there are two songs made for rocking out on a Mario-licensed faux Guitar, I do not know what else there could be.
Thirdly, the Wii controller is, believe it or not, highly complimentary to your own fully sick Axe.
Using two controllers to drum, remotely, in time with the rocking guitar?
Failing that, using my beloved Donkey Konga bongos to accompany?
Using it as a conductor's baton as seen in so many cool tech demos?
I'm not sure how that would work in a rock setting but, still, let's throw the idea out there.
Finally, I have taken the liberty of dreaming up a few names for the title.
Guitar Hero Revolution.
Guitar Hero: Wii Will Rock You (with the accompanying Queen track, of course. Rock without Queen is like chocolate ice cream without chocolate chips, an abomination!)
Guitar Hero: Wii Are the Champions (Sequel?)
Let's not forget that the WiiConnect24 Service also promises downloadable content, meaning you could easily release song packs, singles or albums, to rock out to without the need for more of that pesky physical distribution which no doubt hurts a lot when you're shipping guitars at the same time.
So, please, listen to me, oh ye gods of rock, who do hold my dreams within your omnipotent fist.
Guitar Hero for Wii.