September 2005 Archives
September 29, 2005
I don't know how many people out there are buying their video games from eBay (I buy my used games at EB) but a new site just launched dedicated to just buying and selling new and used computer and video games. Sort of like eBay for gaming, GameSwapZone.com launched a few weeks ago and it seems like a pretty interesting idea.
The site seems to contain your "standard" online auction capabilities such as rating systems and buyer feedback, an optional "Buy It Now" feature, and the ability for people to create their own online store. Plus, anyone can create listings, or even post "want ads" for specific games. It should also be noted that the site is owned by the same company that owns Computer Games Magazine and Now Playing Magazine for what it's worth.
So far their selection seems a bit limited but that's sure to grow over time, definitely an interesting idea for finding those rare and hard to find titles.
Does anybody remember back in the mid 1990s when CD-ROMs were brand new and a whole bunch of "CD-ROM Magazines" came out? Who could forget the ever so popular Blender, Launch, and Digizine CD-ROM 'Zines? Basically they were magazines designed specifically for a CD-ROM, and they lasted about a year before people realized that buying CD-ROM Magazines was a stupid idea (of course, I bought them then all).
Well welcome to the next generation as dozens of download-'n'-read-on-your-PSP magazines have been released in the past few months. Joining the PSP 'Zine scene is LOAD Magazine just released its first issue, and this one looks pretty good. So what's in it? They review Burnout Legends, Winning Eleven 9 (Pro Evolution Soccer), and Virtua Tennis, "Dr. PSP" (wow, I didn't know you could become a PSP doctor) has compiled a guide for those who want to watch some of their DVD titles on their PSP and there is also a review of the classic Metal Slug.
Actually this sounds pretty since there is such a void of quality PSP software out right now. I mean, how many times can you watch Hitch on your PSP?
September 27, 2005
I was wondering what was taking Microsoft so long from shoving the Halo brand down everyone's throat and in every medium possibly imagined. Sure we have Halo action figures and the upcoming Halo movie but where is the other pointless Halo crap? Where are the Halo Colorforms Playsets, the Halo Coloring Books, and the Halo Crunch Cereal? I mean if in this day and age we can have a Mr. Potato Head Darth Tater why can't we have a Master Chief Magic 8 Ball?
Well, at least we're one step closer as mobile phone game publisher In-Fusio has announced a three-year licensing deal with Microsoft to release new mobile phone "applications" based on Bungie's Halo first person shooter game. According to the press release the first Halo products will be available later this year and will include mobile games and other mobile products such as ringtones.
In-Fusio is no stranger to creating mobile phone "applications" based upon existing game licenses as they have created Age of Empires II, Zoo Tycoon 2, and Tomb Raider: Elixir of Life for mobile phones. I can only imagine how much fun a quick-paced FPS will be to play on my cell phone!
September 20, 2005
From what I have been reading about this game on other board game web sites it sounds pretty amazing. Fantasy Flight is no stranger into converting computer games into board games they came out with the very successful Doom board game last year. And from what I've been reading & hearing so far it appears that Fantasy Flight might have actually done the near impossible -- successfully translate one of the world's most popular MMORPG's into a board game while keeping all the essential gaming elements intact.
Let's see what's in the game ... all the races? Check. All the classes and their assorted special talents? Check. The ability to go on quests which are different for the Horde and the Alliance? Check. The ability to perform raid-style quests? Check. The chance to kill boss monsters? Check. The ability to level-up your character and gain skills? Check. The ability to ... well, you get the point. Pretty much everything which makes WOW so unique is in this game, and I can't wait!
The only downside I have heard about this game so far (besides the $79.99 price tag, ouch!) is that it takes several hours to play a single game. Somewhere from 4-6 hours for a single game, depending upon the number of players. Hum, I guess they really did get everything from WOW into the board game!
September 16, 2005
Hey did you hear that Nintendo revealed their new Revolution controller? Okay in all seriousness I wanted to think about this controller from a business standpoint rather than just a "gamer" point of view before I posted anything. And after reading about the controller and listening to Nintendo Keynote speech from by Nintendo President Satoru Iwata I have to say that I think Nintendo is simply brilliant. I will take a look at the reasons as to why the Nintendo controller was created and its goals as opposed to how it works (which you can find plenty of information about).
First I would strongly recommend that you watch Nintendo's Keynote speech, which was completely translated into English earlier today. I have seen a lot of keynotes in my life and this one is easily one of the best. Mr. Iwata explains in great detail Nintendo's marketing goals as well as their approach the gaming market in the future. Extremely interesting stuff.
After seeing the controller and listening to Mr. Iwata's speech it becomes quite clear that Nintendo is trying to blaze its own path. All summer we have been reading tech specs on the Xbox 360 and PS3, who will have the better graphics and who will have the "faster" hardware. In essence these two companies are fighting for the same consumer dollar and endlessly fighting each other.
Nintendo, on the other hand, is heading down a completely different path and I think their approach is extremely interesting. Sony and Microsoft are focusing their efforts on attracting the hardcore gamers and the "kids" of today (MTV launch anyone?). This would seem like the correct "standard" strategy, focus on your core consumers and continue to grow your brand around your core demographic. The only problem with this strategy is that both Sony and Microsoft are going after the same demographic, which has caused the endless "my hardware is better than yours" fighting we all got the pleasure to witness these past few years.
Nintendo, on the other hand, is focusing on attracting everyone else, and I mean everyone. Kids, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, you name the market segment and Nintendo is targeting them. And the key to attracting these "non-gamers" is the game controller. By creating a controller which is easy to use, non-traditional, and replicates actions people are already familiar they expect to attract a larger audience of gamers. Hence the reason behind the touchscreen technology for the Nintendo DS. By placing an easy to use touchscreen they allow the DS to be easily accessible to gamers and non-gamers alike. And from the huge sales of Nintendogs as well as other similar games in Japan this approach seems to be working extremely well.
And from that line of thinking came the odd-looking Revolution controller. It was designed to specially be used with just one hand and to look like a simple remote control. They expect non-gamers would be more likely to pick up and play with a controller which isn't as threatening as a "two-button, two-handed" controller. Plus, by placing numerous sensors within the controller itself you can just wave the controller around to play games on the Revolution instead of using the standard buttons. Again, non-gamers will be able to play games using motions they are already familiar with -- i.e. for a fishing game you can motion the controller to cast your line and reel in a fish. By going after both the "standard" gamer as well as the "casual" gamer Nintendo is trying to completely redefine the market. And they are starting by redesigning the ways in which people play and interact with games.
Plus, by making it expandable they can appease the "hardcore" gaming crowd. This is already being seen in the sales of the Nintendo DS. Not only are "hardcore" gamers buying the system (such as yours truly) but casual and "non-gamers" are buying the system because of the touchscreen and stylus. By expanding this thinking into the realm of the Revolution controller they hope to attract a whole new market to the gaming market.
Again, simply genius.
I have to say that I was originally put off by the controller and even the Nintendo DS, but after listening to the keynote and better understanding their marketing plan I have to say that I believe Nintendo is trying to create nothing more than gaming Revolution. And I think they just might succeed.
As a bonus I have included all the slides from the Revolution Keynote (one warning, it is a bit long). Simple click on the "continue" link below to view all 66 slides.
September 15, 2005
It appears that the immensely popular Sam & Max adventure series, which has been threatening to make a comeback more times than John Travolta's career, is finally returning to the gaming world. Steve Purcell (the original creator of Sam & Max) announced at the end of his keynote speech at "The Future of Digital Entertainment" conference that Telltale Games has received the go-ahead to develop another Sam & Max game.
The new game will be completely original and will have nothing whatsoever to do with the canceled Lucasarts Sam & Max: Freelance Police title. So why after all this time have Sam & Max finally returned? It appears that Lucasarts lost the rights to the series and creator Purcell, who was familiar with Telltale from their days together in Lucasarts, went to Telltale to answer the legion of fans who have been begging for another Sam & Max game.
Not much is known about the game right now, but what is known is that Telltale Games will release the game in episodic format, much like their upcoming Bone series whose first episode is due for release later this fall (update: you can now download the demo/trail for Bone from Telltale).
This is the third attempt to make a follow up to 1993's Sam & Max Hit the Road, the first one being an Xbox-bound action/adventure title from now-defunct game studio Infinite Machine, and the second of course being LucasArts' ill-fated attempt at a sequel, Sam & Max Freelance Police. Both of those died before having a chance to live, but here's hoping third time's the charm!
September 14, 2005
As great as the Grand Theft Auto games are on their own, the "fake" web sites that Rockstar creates to support their games are nearly as much fun as the GTA games themselves, and the newly launched GTA: Liberty City Stories is no exception. And this time Rockstar might have outdone themselves by creating a very loose parody of your favoriate "anti-game activist" Jack Thompson within the site.
Once you enter the GTA:LCS web site there are several fictional e-mails on the top of the screen. One of them is from "JT@citizensunitednegatingtechnology.org" ... I wonder what that "JT" could possibly stand for? Anyhow if you click on the fake e-mail from "JT" (the Liberty City anti-violent video game crusader) you will find that "JT" likes to surf the Internet for pictures depicting deviant sex acts by teenage girls. Additionally, on the site you can listen to an audio ad recording featuring a man, whose name is "Jack", who is found naked by a mother in her son's room. Finally, you can view JT's anti-Internet web site http://www.citizensunitednegatingtechnology.org/ (do check it out because, you know, the Internet is evil!)
September 13, 2005
It seems fitting that on Mario's 20th birthday (wow, he still can't drink in the States) that we all show the original "Jumpman" some love today. For those of you who can't find a Donkey Kong arcade machine near their home (remember when arcades could be found in any shopping mall in America? But that's another topic...) head on over to this great Arcade Games Emulation web site where you can find Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Donkey Kong 3, Mario Bros., as well as several other non-Mario classics.
Also make sure to check out a salute to Super Mario Bros. Villians, watch the Super Mario Brothers Super Show (and view the Bros. in drag!), play the Donkey Kong board game, or eat some Super Mario Ice Cream.
But whatever you do today do not -- repeat -- do not rent the absolutely horrible Super Mario Bros. The Movie. Let's just all try to forget that this ever happened shall we? Happy Birthday Mario -- I'll buy you a drink next year!
September 9, 2005
Just when you think you have seen everything in MMORPGs something new (and disturbing) comes along. It appears that some clever person is willing to sell an "E-Date with a hawt Night Elf." That's right, call girls have finally appeared in the World of Warcraft.
It is hard to do this news justice, so let's just post her eBay advertisement shall we?
I have now seen everything ... until next time that is.
Didn't I just mention in my last podcast that due to the success of Nintendogs that Sega should release Seaman for the Nintendo DS or develop Seaman 2? Well I guess that some people at Sega listen to my podcast (or it was just an amazing coincidence) because it was announced today that Seaman 2 for the PS2 is under development.
For those of you have never seen or played Seaman, well, it's nearly impossible to fully explain. Basically it was a tamagotchi-type game, only instead of raising a cute little puppy you get to raise a half man/half fish hybrid which would insult you on a regular basis. The game also came with a microphone so you could talk to your Seaman during its development (just like Nintendogs) and he would respond to your commands or more often just insult you (not just like Nintendogs). Oh yeah, and the game was narrated by Leonard Nemoy. As I said, this game is beyond strange.
However of all my gaming experiences I can say that Seaman was perhaps one, if not the, most memorable in my life. I would say this was due to fact that not only was the game just so strange but it forced you to care and interact with your Seaman for a month of "real time". So every day for a month I would get a chance to interact with my Seaman and see something new and slightly mind blowing.
Plus the ability to talk and interact with your Seaman was an excellent way to break that "fourth wall" of video games. Some of my favorite conversations with Seaman:
Seaman: What do you do with the Internet?
If you want to experience an unique gaming experience I'm sure you can find a used Dreamcast and a cheap copy of Seaman floating around. Otherwise we can wait until Seaman 2 comes out. I can only imagine how much rudder he'll be with a PS2 processor!
September 8, 2005
Every week I make sure to check out the weekly game releases. What's really amazing is even though I read about 50 gaming web sites a day, subscribe to every gaming magazine imaginable, and even watch G4 (ouch, it hurts!) every week there are a couple of games released that I've never heard of before. Carl the Caveman? Danny Phantom: The Ultimate Enemy? NHL 2K6? Okay, I think I've heard of that last one before...
But one game which is being released total and took me for surprise was Rebelstar: Tactical Command for the Game Boy Advance. This little hidden gem was developed Codo Technologies, the very same people who developed X-Com and Laser Squad Nemesis for the PC! How on earth did a portable version of X-Com go hidden for so long? It's like waking and find out that it's Christmas in the middle of July!
Now I know nothing about how this game plays, and I can't find a single posted review, but from what I've been reading on the Rebelstar forums sounds pretty promising. It sounds like, well, the lovechild of X-Com and Laser Squad Nemesis born onto the Game Boy Advance ... and that sounds pretty good to me! And the best part is that it retails for only $19.99, what a deal!
Excuse me while I run down to my local EB and get a copy right away. Expect a full review on my next podcast and if anyone else gets a copy please feel free to post your thoughts of the game play here or on the forums. It's Christmas in September!