What's up? I'm D-Sane. I like to play video games. When I'm not gaming, I like to watch terrible movies and laugh at them, usually while drinking. I also like to spend a weekend or two watching the entire series of TV shows that I like. I work as a tech assistant to a real estate agent in Austin, TX.
This is a cross post from my gaming/movie/tv/music/politics/culture blog that I started with a friend in the middle of last year call TearsOfTime.com.
Not to be outdone by Microsoft's rumors about the next XBox, Nintendo has been churning out all kinds of rumors about its own next console. Some developers are saying that it will be capable of indescribable features (as in, words, pictures, and video cannot do them justice). Others are saying that the horrible name "Wii U" will be dropped in favor of something that sounds less like baby speak. And on top of all of this, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has confirmed that their next console will be out this calendar year (though he leaves the possibility open for them to not finish by year's end because he's a pussy).
Despite all this, I'm predicting doom for the next Nintendo console. Looking back to less than a year ago, the 3DS had a launch that can only be described as "The Challenger" compared to the amount of hype surrounding the system. Nintendo managed to recover by rushing development of some of their key franchises, but I don't think they can afford to make the same mistake a second time. Last minute renaming of the device doesn't really speak well of their former confidence in the Wii brand. And with the "Wii U's" guts being only slightly better than a current XBox 360 in terms of technical muscle, I don't really see many of the sought after "hardcore gamers" returning to Nintendo after having jumped ship back in the Gamecube days.
Looking back on Nintendo's history, they've pretty much always been right on the cusp of going under. They were a card game maker before the NES, and after the video game crash of the 80s, they looked poised to go down with the ship. They happened to strike gold with their Nintendo Entertainment System however, by branding it as a toy (hence the inclusion of a robot that "played the game with you" on some of the early models). Sticking to the Nintendo brand, they released the Super Nintendo to continue to cash in on the name recognition (as in: "What's better than a Nintendo? A SUPER Nintendo!"). But everyone knew that if you wanted to play Mortal Kombat the real way, you needed to play it on the Sega Genesis because Nintendo didn't allow the blood code. Following this, we had the lackluster Nintendo 64. Even though it had a handful of the better games from that generation, being stuck in the past by using cartridges when everyone else was on to cheaper CD technology limited development of new titles for the system and ultimately it wasn't the breakaway hit of either the NES or SNES.
Of course the next system (Game Cube) was an utter flop compared to the PS2, but it managed to sell a few units because it was cheap. Around this time was when Nintendo really started to harbor the environment of "the only games worth owning on one of our consoles is a game we develop in-house." Then came the Wii. Had it not been for a rag tag group of tech demos, the thing would have never sold. Launching without HD capability or a realistic amount of storage space a full year after the 360 and within a 24 hour period of the PS3, the only saving grace for the little piece of shit system was it's price point and the fact that old people liked playing Wii Sports. And of course the Wii;s staying power was bolstered by its 1st party titles (2 Zelda games, 3 Mario games, 2 Kirby games, 2 Metroid games, and re-releases of some Gamecube games like Pikmin with new motion control interaction).
But now we are seeing more of the same thing from Nintendo. They are unsure of their place in the market by trying to cater to a lost "hardcore gamer" audience. They are only going to alienate the casual demographics they have been cultivating for the last 5 years by releasing a system that can output HD graphics, but at a high cost to the consumer. The Wii sold well amongst new gamers because of its cheap entry point, it's gimmicky motion controls, and it's games designed around a party setting. It also sold well amongst fans of Nintendo's original IPs who enjoy them enough to look past their glaringly SD exteriors. So-called "hardcore gamers" don't give a shit about the Wii.
So it makes me glad to know that they are considering re-branding their new system to distance themselves from the Wii. And frankly, releasing a system that is nearly identical in name and external appearance is only going to confuse the parents out there who just don't get it. A child will say "get me a Wii U! It's small and white and made by Nintendo," and his parent return from the store with a Wii because it was the cheaper and/or not-sold-out option. The child in this scenario will then cry until he gets his way because he is a spoiled brat.
Despite the possible name change, I think that they are still not going to do well with this console. It will be behind the times (technically speaking) and with the next Xbox right around the corner (2013 possible release date) seeking to dethrone Nintendo with its own integrated motion controls (Kinect 2), I think we will be seeing a very poor console life-cycle for Nintendo in the next generation. Maybe I'll pick up Nintendo's post-Wii U system (because we all know that one will be backwards compatible with Wii U games) and just save myself the trouble of owning another Nintendo system for a few years. If the next Nintendo is only just slightly better under the hood than PS3 and 360 games, it stands to reason that no developer will be making any games that maximize the system's potential (other than Nintendo's own development teams) because it would just be too expensive of an undertaking to develop that way.
There aren't many games that I connect with on a deep and emotional level. Sure, I'll play Mario games cause they're fun and I'll play Metal Gear Solid cause the story is badass. But afterward, I'm pretty much still the same person and I won't even think very much about the experience. Minecraft is different. For the first time in, let's say forever, I am feeling very real emotions in response to a video game. One that doesn't even have a set story other than whatever I decide to do to the world. It's a kind of crazy experience. And today there was a fire...
Like many of you reading this, I have been playing Minecraft a lot lately. At first I dismissed it, thinking it was a craze that would fade, but I finally caved and bought the game about 2 weeks ago. Playing it with the Minecraft Wiki open in another window constantly, I've learned a thing or two about the game -- it seems like I learn something new every day.
So today, I happened upon a large amount of obsidian for the first time and I decided that I would build portals and investigate the Nether (also for the first time). The Nether creeped me out as I'm sure was the intended purpose, but I snagged several Lightstones to play around with for when I returned to the main world. I noticed while I was in the Nether that it was pretty dark unless you were next to fire or a Lightstone and the Minecraft Wiki suggested just burning any of the Netherstones around me to help see as they would burn indefinitely. I stored that little factoid in my brain and kept playing.
After a time, I went back to the main world so that I could experiment with portal placement for fast traveling. It was night time in the main world so it was obviously pretty dark in the forest I was exploring. Then the factoid about burning some Netherstone came back to me. Without considering the consequences, I placed a Netherstone and set it on fire. For about a second, it reminded me of the burning barrels that homeless people stand next to in big cities to keep warm in the winter, just producing lots of light and heat very effectively in a self contained area. I thought "this will be a great alternative to torches." Then I noticed the low hanging tree limb nearby.
It caught fire.
I didn't know what to do. I had never played with fire in the game before and I wasn't sure how it would act. I immediately panicked and started hitting the burning tree with my shovel, just like Smokey the Bear had taught me. But as I did that, the grass nearby caught fire too. It was spreading quickly. Before I knew it, several trees were on fire. There was no way I could put them all out. I thought to myself "This is just a game, there's no way I started a forest fire. It will burn out soon enough." I couldn't have been more wrong...
At this point, there's absolutely nothing that I can think of to do. It might have been manageable early on, but now it's completely beyond my control. I'm either going to have to start up a new game (not a problem, I'm on my 5th start over at the moment) or just move all my gear and items to an island separate of the ever-burning fire.
One thing though that really struck me as interesting is how bad I felt after I realized the fire was uncontrollable. Despite this being a game with very stylized, simplistic graphics and no real consequences for messing things up, I felt total remorse for what I had done to the world. The pigs, cows, birds, and sheep were running around on fire. They were dying because of me. I went around collecting some of their byproducts at first, but there were so many that I didn't even bother any more. And now I'm powerless to prevent future deaths from this fire unless I erase the animal's world.
That kind of has me thinking about the nature of existence. If you think about actors playing characters in a movie and the movie causes you to have a real emotion (you laugh, you cry, etc) then in that way, these fake characters and scenarios of the movie are triggering a real emotion from you. You could say that makes them take on qualities of a real person or event, despite the fact that you know they're fake. A thing which is not real is interacting with a thing which is real. I know the animals in Minecraft aren't real and the game world isn't real (the artwork in the game is a testament to that), but to a person playing a game, they are real enough in that same way, and it goes even deeper than film because the player has direct control over that fake world, giving the whole situation an extra layer of realism. This game can trigger pure terror in me with its moody and sparse musical cues. I can cause complete and utter destruction upon the animals of the world, even if by complete accident. And the animals' deaths can trigger sadness in me.
All of this has got me wondering -- do the animals care if I delete the game world that they live in? Do they cry pixilated tears right before their existence is obliterated? Obviously not. It is after all just a game. But just the fact that I'm wondering that question at all is a perfect example of why Minecraft is one of the best games I've ever played.
Also, I might have a slight addiction to Minecraft because when I close my eyes, I picture the real world in terms of blocks and I consider punching walls and the floor to reconfigure everything to my liking.
June 7th, 1985 - The Goonies film is released. I didn't care too much about that other than it inspired this whole chain of events.
1985 - Cyndi Lauper releases a song called "The Goonies R Good Enough" to coincide with the release of the movie. A 12 minute "epic" video about gasoline, gold, and goonies is shot featuring the cast from the movie, several professional wrestlers, Rosanne Barr, and The Bangles. Cyndi Lauper herself hated the song and video, despite it being, in my opinion, a very accurate representation of the 80s as a whole in terms of music, cinematic style, and geo-political trends (oh, and don't forget wrestling....the 80s is all about wrestling).
November Xth, 1987 - The Goonies 2 (a sequel to the Japan exclusive Goonies video game on the MSX home video game console based on the film called The Goonies) is released featuring an 8-bit style version of "Goonies R Good Enough."
April 2nd, 2004 - NES music cover band The Minibosses record a live performance of several different theme songs to video games. Track 1 on the live album is "Goonies 2." This is a rock cover of the 8-bit version of "Goonies R Good Enough" (interestingly enough, the terrible audio quality of this video almost makes it sound like the 8bit version of the song).
April 6th, 2004 - Four days later, NES music cover band The Advantage release an album of rock stlye covers of music heard in NES games. Track 3 is "Goonies 2." I'm not sure if these bands knew about each other, however to my research, I have found that The Minibosses only play Goonies 2 live, whereas The Advantage released the song on their album "Self-Titled".
Sometime around 2004-2005 - 8bit People's artist Mesu Kasumai releases an 8bit style cover album of 80s music. Track 10 is titled "Good Enough (For Fodder)" which is of course an 8bit cover of Cyndi Lauper's original "The Goonies R Good Enough." As far as I know, the artist may have no idea that the song was already redone for the video game from the time period which he's drawing musical and sonic inspiration. (Sorry, no YouTube link this time)
So I come home from work today and my front door was unlocked. Weird. My room mates weren’t home. I open my door to see my living room a wreck. My 42 inch HDTV is missing from it’s TV stand. My room mate’s Xbox 360 is missing. I immediately go into a blind rage.
I live in a bad part of Austin, TX and I should have known it would happen. We’re a group of 3 post-college aged people living in a very poor neighborhood. All of our money goes towards video games, electronics, and computers so we have a lot of stuff in our house that is easily spotted as a high-ticket item by thieves.
I call my room mate as soon as I can think about anything other than shooting some one in the face (no, I don’t own a gun just because I live in Texas, but I might get one now). He’s in utter shock and he asks about how the thieves got in. I can’t see any visible entry points and I check all the rooms in the house. In his bedroom, one of the windows is completely opened up and broken.
His HDTV in there is missing along with his girlfriend’s laptop. (We later found out that his fighting game arcade stick was also missing). It seems that the thieves entered through his bedroom, stole the TV and laptop from that room and then on their way out the front door, they spotted my TV, my room mate’s 360 and his arcade stick, and decided to take those too.
Thankfully my PS3 and Wii weren't taken. None of the games for any system were taken either.
When I could finally collect myself enough to talk calmly, I called the police who just basically wrote down a list of all the things that were missing and said they’d send out a cop to dust for fingerprints. Four hours later, the cop finally shows up and basically says that we’re screwed unless we can find the TV ourselves at a pawnshop.
We have renter’s insurance so hopefully we’ll get everything back. But we’re going to try to move out of this neighborhood as soon as possible. I recommend that anyone reading this evaluate their security set up. I thought I’d be fine just because we’re quiet and keep to ourselves but apparently thieves will strike anywhere they think it’s a weak target. Have you ever been robbed? And did you find your stuff or get insurance to cover it?
So my room mate owns a 360, I own a PS3 and a Wii. He's thinking about upgrading to a 360 Elite and I've expressed interest in taking his 360 Pro off his hands to help him get to an Elite more easily. But I'm still on the fence because I'm not sure just how many games I'd want to play on it. As of right now, the best thing the 360 has in my mind is the XBLA titles. The ones I'm most interested in are:
Braid (coming to PSN eventually)
Castle Crashers (coming to PSN eventually)
Peggle (probably coming to PSN since it's on every other platform)
So my question to you, the Dtoid community, is this: Is it worth it? He's said I can have his used system plus a 2nd controller for $189. Then I'd need to buy all of those games over again after he transfers them to his new system, which is another $65, I think. My other question is this: are there any other really awesome exclusive games? Keep in mind that I'm not much of a fan of Fighters, FPSs, MMOs, or RTSs. I am a big fan of platformers and puzzle solving games. Oh, and Metal Gear Solid.