Gaming Steve

August 2005 Archives

August 31, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 20 - 08.31.2005

Xbox 360 Omega SystemThis week is the "extra large news week" edition plus two "reviews" and two "RetroReviews"! Oh yeah, and if you buy the new "super insane crazy Xbox 360 bundle" I'll have you on my show! Enjoy the gaming bounty:

    00:02:30 Game News:
    • Game Boy Micro coming September 19th ... how many more can they make?!
    • Zelda: Twilight Princess delayed, of course.
    • Xbox $399.
    • All hail! Caesar returns to the PC!
    • Madden 2006 tackles sale charts.
    • Star Wars Galaxies causes a great disturbance in the Force.
    • Halo goes Hollywood.
    • China gets serious with online gaming addicts.
    • Come on, buy the Xbox 360 Omega bundle for $2000 ... I dare you!
    • Auto Assault applies the brakes.
    • Asheron's Call 2 goes dark.
    • Nintendo buys itself.
    • We Love Katamari, oh yes we do!
    • Another week, another million people join WOW.
    • Xbox Live 2.0 priced.
  • 00:40:20 GameTalk: What on earth was Microsoft thinking when they priced the Xbox 360?
  • 00:57:30 SporeTalk: No news is good news?
  • 00:59:09 QuickTake: Advance Wars Dual Strike for the Nintendo DS.
  • 01:13:55 QuickTake: Nintendogs for the Nintendo DS.
  • 01:20:33 RetroReview: Military Madness for the TurboGrafx-16.
  • 01:26:49 RetroReview: The Little Computer People Discovery Kit for the PC.
  • 01:32:00 “Name That Game!” contest winner from last week, a new clip, and a new prize!
  • 01:34:32 Show mail!
  • 01:39:10 Plus some very quick random thoughts.
Get the podcast from this page (100 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 20.

You can also subscribe to the weekly podcast.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 11:45 PM | Posted to Podcast | Review | Spore | Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

August 29, 2005

Hot Biscuit Mod for Nintendogs

Hot BiscuitI guess if you play any game long enough you'll find something naughty. It appears that some hackers somehow managed to unlock something "not quite right" in the "E for Everyone" rated Nintendogs! Oh those naughty little doggies!

Okay, before I get a ton of letters about this image here are few things that I know. First, I don't know if this is a real or a hoax, but do keep in mind that real dogs to hump each other on occasion (just like people!). Two, I have never see this sort of behavior with my Nintendogs, but you never know. Three, if someone has seen this sort of behavior in your game I would be interested to hear from you. Fourth, make sure to contact Jack Thompson right away! I would love just to read the press release he comes up on this one and how it is "corrupting the children".

Posted by Gaming Steve at 5:30 PM | Posted to DS |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

August 18, 2005

Xbox 360 ... "Only" $299! (or $399, if You're A "Real Gamer")

Wired Xbox 360 ControllerJust when it looked like Microsoft really had all their ducks in a row for the Xbox 360 launch they totally mess it up with confusing (and a bit sleazy) marketing tactics. After following Microsoft for the last 21 years (I actually bought an 80-column card made by them!) it never amazes me the lengths they go to confuse their users. The duel launch of two Xbox 360 systems is pure brilliance ... from a marketing point of view that is.

Yesterday it was revealed yesterday that when the Xbox is released it will come in to "flavors" -- the "Xbox 360 Core" for $299 and the "Xbox 360" for $399. Notice how Microsoft calls the more expensive option just the "Xbox 360" and not "Xbox 360 Deluxe" or something similar. That is classic Marketing 101 for you, call the more expensive option by the product name and the less expensive option something different. That way when the kiddies ask mommy and daddy for an "Xbox 360" and they go online or to the store they will see that the "Xbox 360" costs $399, while the "Xbox 360 Core" costs $299. So if the parents buy the cheaper "Core" version they, of course, will be buying the "wrong" version because little Johnny asked for the "Xbox 360", which is the $399 option. Pretty brilliant calling the console and the more expensive option by the exact same name. Expect a lot of confused parents this holiday season when they try to buy a $299 "Xbox 360" (which is $399, silly parents!)

Next up -- the hard drive, or should I say, the lack of a hard drive. The Xbox 360 hard drive is only included with the more expensive option, the "Core" system only comes with the console itself, the "Xbox 360 Controller" (the wired version, of course), and the HD-AV cable. Plus Microsoft has already told developers "not to count on having a hard drive available" when developing their games. Since the hard drive is only an option you can now look forward to 99% of all Xbox 360 games not to use the hard drive at all (developers always have to create for the lowest common denominator, which is no hard drive).

So why is Microsoft even releasing the hard drive at all? One key reason -- backwards compatibility with the original Xbox. Without a hard drive you won't be able to play original Xbox games on the Xbox 360. But even this issue isn't that clearcut. You see, the Xbox 360 is using a totally different chipset from the original Xbox, so the only way you will be able to play Xbox games on your Xbox 360 is through an "emulation mode". That's right, the Xbox 360 will have to emulate the Xbox in order to play Halo 2. Nice forward thinking Microsoft.

So let's call a spade a spade shall we? The Xbox 360 costs $399, period. Sure there will be a "version" of the Xbox 360 which only costs $299 and has a wired controller, no hard drive, and no backwards capability. So now Microsoft will say in all their ads and PR "The Xbox 360 ... Only $299!" which I guess is technically true, but which version are all the kiddies and "real gamers" going to buy? Ah Microsoft, you are so evil, that is why I love you!

Posted by Gaming Steve at 10:00 AM | Posted to Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

August 17, 2005

Mother Pwns Son

They're Laughing At YouI have seen a lot of funny posts in my lifetime, but this one is perhaps the best I have seen in a long time... Brion is a level 57 level Night Elf Hunter in World of Warcraft, but his mother is a level 59 Human Priest and Brion should know never to mess with someone two levels higher than him!

It seems that Brion tried to sneak in a little post to the WOW forums a little past bedtime and was caught ... big time:

((OOC))

Pardon me for hijacking the thread, here..

But, Brion - if you don't want your mother to know you were up and on the computer at 3:29 in the morning - DON'T post on a forum that she reads.

Busted.
Grounded.

Getting caught was bad enough, but then having the entire WOW community rag on you as well has to just add major insult to injury! If you keep scrolling through the posts you'll see that a suitable punishment was dished out:

Yeah, you won’t be seeing Brion at Alterac Valley tonight…

I’m going to make him watch a movie with me instead. I’m thinking a real chick flick - Steel Magnolias or Moulin Rouge. :)

Damn, I can not think of a worse public embarrassment for a teenager, getting totally pwned in public, by your mom!

Posted by Gaming Steve at 9:30 AM | Posted to Culture | MMORPG |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

August 14, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 19 - 08.14.2005

Dungeon Siege IIAfter a semi-slow summer the big games are starting to appear. First up is Chris Taylor's new Dungeon Siege II for the PC ... find out if it's a winner or a stinker. Oh yeah, I also cover these stories as well:

    00:01:26 Game News:
    • No more Hot Coffee for you!
    • "Video games made me do it" fails in court.
    • Parents ignore game age ratings.
    • GameTap set for October launch.
    • Madden 2006, the only game in town.
    • Blizzard shuts down their Northern operation.
    • Microsoft wants money from everyone.
    • How many Xbox 360 different bundles will Microsoft release?
    • Sony may release PS3 in 2007.
    • Quake 3 source code to be released.
    • Dirk the Daring return to the Dragon's Lair!
  • 00:37:58 GameTalk: What happens when you try to buy gold for World of Warcraft?
  • 00:58:22 SporeTalk: The calm before the storm.
  • 01:01:03 Game Review: Dungeon Siege II for the PC.
  • 01:24:04 RetroReview: NetHack/Rogue for Unix/PC/everything.
  • 01:29:24 “Name That Game!” contest winner from last week, a new clip, and a new prize!
  • 01:32:46 Plus some more random thoughts on the gaming calm before the storm.
Get the podcast from this page (98 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 19.

You can also subscribe to the weekly podcast.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 7:30 PM | Posted to Podcast | Review | Spore |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

August 10, 2005

Man Plays Video Games ... And Dies

Game OverOkay, this may be a bit old but still newsworthy ... a 28-year-old man in South Korea died of heart failure after playing computer games almost non-stop for 50 hours. The man, identified only by his family name Lee, had planted himself in front of a computer to play on-line games on August 3rd. Over the next three days he only left his computer to go to the toilet and to take brief naps. "We presume the cause of death was heart failure stemming from exhaustion," a Taegu provincial police official said by telephone.

To tell you the truth I am very surprised by this story. No, I'm not surprised that this guy died, I'm surprised that this guy died after playing for such a short amount of time. I mean, 50 hours straight? Sure that's a long time, but I know lots of people who have come close to gaming that long and have lived to tell about it. Heck, I myself have had several marathon Civilization gaming sessions where I played video games non-stop for more than 24-hours straight (okay, I have never played near 50-hours straight, but still).

And what about those dance marathons in years past? People used to dance for days, weeks, even months straight with little to no sleep (the record being 22 weeks, 3 1/2 days!). Of course, I'm sure that people used to die during those dance marathons, but still. Playing video games for 50 hours compared to dancing for five-and-a-half months ... this guy must have been in just horrible shape if he keels over after sitting down for 50 hours. Now if he died after playing video games and dancing for 50 hours, that would be impressive (and sad, of course).

Posted by Gaming Steve at 11:00 AM | Posted to Culture | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

August 8, 2005

Violent Video Games Make the World Safer

The Hard FactsOne of good things to come out of "Rockstargate" (I guess that what it's going to be called) is that reputable people are starting to really take a hard look at video games and see if what "they" say is actually true. "They" say people who play violent video games become more violent. "They" say that video games have caused an increase in violent crimes and causing harm to our children. Oh yeah, and that video games are being played by children and children alone.

Well, The Economist and Game Revolution has taken a long look at this topic and the results are surprising to say the least. Let's just say that the next time some trash-clown tries to tell you how video games are making teenagers violent you can point them to these two articles and watch their heads explode.

You should definitely read both articles but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. So here are few very interesting pictures.

Economist Graph

This graph was taken directly from the article in The Economist and it seems that as video game sales have increased the total number of violent crimes have decreased. What? According to everyone else this can't be correct? Let's take a look at another chart, shall we?

Violence Graph

This graph is from the excellent piece by Duke Ferris of Gamer Revolution. Again, you can see as the popularity of video games have increased violent crimes have steadily decreased ... to the lowest levels ever recorded.

Again, make sure to check out both articles as they have a lot interesting evidence completely debunking the whole "video games increase real world violence" theory.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 3:30 PM | Posted to Culture |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

August 4, 2005

I Demand You Listen To My Demands!

BullyHigh on his orgy of non-stop media coverage, Miami attorney and self-described "anti-game crusader" Jack Thompson has decided to attack Take-Two Interactive once again. Yesterday Jack and a Washington D.C. community group named "Peaceoholics" (you know, because they're addicted to Peaceohol) staged a protest outside Take-Two's Manhattan offices to protest Rockstar's yet-to-be-released game Bully. Bully is, of course, Rockstar's upcoming, highly controversial video game set in a private school for boys.

Yesterday the Peaceoholics, led by activist Ronald Moten, carried signs that said among other things, "Prosecute Rockstar Games. They are felons," and "Stop Bully Now!" Today Peaceoholics released their list of demands for Take-Two Interactive, parent company of Rockstar. These included:

  • Not to release Bully under any circumstances.
  • Volunteer to sell its violent and sexually explicit games in adult video stores only.
  • Let parents return Grand Theft Auto for a full refund until they do a national awareness campaign to educate parents of content and possible effects.
  • Create a fund for victims of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and car-jackings, etc.
  • Make a national apology for misleading and lying to children, parents, and legislators about their intentions and causing insurance premiums to sky rocket.
  • Give a written response within five business days of receipt of these demands.

Well, those seem reasonable to me. But it appears that they left out the demands where Take-Two gives everyone in the world a million dollars, free back massages for life, and a brand new car. I mean, how could they forget those?

Posted by Gaming Steve at 1:00 PM | Posted to Culture | PlayStation 2 | Xbox |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

August 1, 2005

So ... Where Are the Graphics?

Zork IBack in the very earliest days of computing (AKA when I was a kid) some of the most popular PC computer games were "adventure" games. Easily one of the most popular gaming genres of its time, adventure games basically consisted of you "walking" around a world, picking up items, combining items, solving puzzles, fighting monsters, and so on until you won game. The graphics for many of these games were rudimentary to say the least, usually consisting of nothing more than simple line drawings, the sound-effects were beeps of various lengths, and the controls were usually along the lines of "drop", "inventory", and "look". In many ways these adventure games were nothing more than interactive stories since the graphics/sound/controls were so limiting. But yet these games were so popular because the stories were often quite good and you could save your progress throughout the game (a rarity of the time).

And of all the adventure games on the market the most popular ones consisted of no graphics, no sounds, and barely adequate controls. This strange hybrid of gaming was called the "text-based adventure game" which is pretty much what it sounds like. You had to play the entire game using nothing more than a text-based interface. That's it. Just text. Nothing else. Oh yeah, and these games were, by far, some of the very best games ever made. No really, I'm not kidding (stop laughing please).

Nearly all of these text-based games were made by a company called Infocom and they were the Bioware/EA of their day. Every couple of months they would release a new game, each featuring a deep, rich story, a fascinating universe, and some of the very best writing I have seen in gaming to this day. Seriously, don't just a game by its graphics. These games might not look like much to those of you waiting for the Xbox 360 to come out, but these games have deeper stories and more involved gameplay than most of cookie-cutter junk coming out for consoles today (Tomb Raider VII, I can't wait!)

I only bring this topic up because everyone who loves the video games should know its history, as well as the fact that I discovered a little gem on the web. It appears that you can actually play the entire game of Zork within a web browser. Zork is the granddaddy of text-gaming and if you are going to start anywhere you might as well start at the beginning. Of course Zork might not look like much now, but this game was "The Sims" of its time and managed to top sales charts throughout a good part of 1980s. You can also download all three original Zork games if you want to give them a whrill. And if you're interested in any of the other Infocom games out there you can pretty much find every single one if you look hard enough (not that I support those illegal activities, not at all). But if you are interested in giving some a try may I recommend Enchanter (as well as the other two games in the series), The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (yeah, this game rocks), Planetfall (one of the funniest games ever made), Stationfall (the sequel), The Lurking Horror, and the Leather Goddesses of Phobos.

And for those of you who never played a text-based adventure game make sure to give Zork a try. It might look incredibly primitive, but the writing is fantastic and some of my very best gaming memories are from these games (I have played nearly all of them). You might just be surprised...

Posted by Gaming Steve at 2:30 PM | Posted to Classic | PC |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!