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10:45 AM on 07.25.2010

The Last Line In The Sand

E3 2010 has come and gone and we've all had time to sit and digest all the news that was crammed down our throats at at fast and furious pace. Upon digestion of everything i saw and heard from E3 this year, I got to thinking, what's left? Where do we go from here?

What I mean is this: about six or seven years ago we were all happily playing our PS2s, XBoxs, and Gamecubes at home and it seemed like just about everyone at the time had a Gameboy of one variety or another tucked into their pocket or purse when they were out and about. Everything made sense. When I wanted to play an amazing, sweeping, and intensely immersive game I turned on my tv and sat on my couch to do it. When I wanted something fast-paced, bright, and colorful, and that didn't involve a lot of though or commitment then I got out my Gameboy and all was right with the world.

And then it came and it rocked our world, the DS. Suddenly we weren't just pushing buttons to make things happen on screen, instead we could poke and prod these virtual worlds with our very own fingers and watch as something that doesn't exist react to something that does. The line between our world and the worlds that exist in our games became a little blurred. But it didn't stop there, no sir.

Then comes the PSP and with it the ability to take our console only experiences and stick them in our pockets and take them with us where ever we went. It was sleek and sexy like nothing portable had ever been. It's big wide screen and console like visual begged for you to stop confining yourself to the tv for when you wanted a game that truly engrossed you and sucked you in like no other. Suddenly our virtual worlds that we escape to were everywhere we were. The line between console gaming and portable gaming became a little blurred. But it didn't stop there, it couldn't

Next was the "Next Generation" consoles. First came the Xbox 360, and it seemed like thing would start to go back to the way they used to be, and things would make a little more sense because here came Microsoft to push the status quo. Only a year later though the boat was once again rocked as the PS3 and the Wii came to our homes. We saw the PS3 doing just what Microsoft had done and pushed the status quo with more pixels and cooler polygons and we all thought that with two out of three systems doing the same thing that we knew where things were heading and that everything would be alright. We were wrong, The Wii, we thought, was just for Nintendo nuts and little kids. Little did we know that suddenly everyone would want this strange thing that looked like an inferior piece of hardware, because with it's arrival it suddenly transformed the whole world into gamers. All the sudden you weren't the only gamer in the house. Without warning your mom was kicking your ass at tennis, and your sister earned the right to gloat for the rest of the night to you because she threw a perfect game of bowling. In an instant we, the gamers, were no longer the outcasts and the minority, the rest of the world had become us and that line too was blurred. Would this upheaval of 20 years of preconceived notions about gaming ever stop. Of course not, the avalanche had already begun, it was too late for the pebbles to vote.

Only a few years after the Wii came along and got us to get up off the couch and waggle our asses off though, came Motion Plus. Suddenly we weren't just flailing our arms about but instead our controller became a precision instrument for interacting with the world in out televisions sets. In an instant our on screen personas were reacting to every slight movement we made and we came one step closer to being able to reach out and touch this fictional world. The line between our reality and virtual reality became a little blurred. Just when it seemed as though it would stop there for the simple fact that no one could concieve of how we could come any closer to the fictional worlds that we relished in, they came closer to us.

In the last twelve months or so 3D has begun to find it's way into homes of the early adapters and the financially comfortable. But in that time frame rumors started milling about. talk of 3D without the for glasses. 3D on the go. 3D that would fit in your pocket. Now the worlds that we escaped to and have been reaching into for the last half decade would be reaching out to us for the first time, without the need of any extra eye wear or high priced tv. It is slated to be 3D truly for the masses. To have the characters we control and interact with reach out to me. And thus brings to the most recent occurrence of the line between this world and that world getting blurred just a little more.

Which brings me to my question, just when we thought we understood the difference between gamers and everyone else, between games and reality, and these lines in the sand were washed away by the incoming tide of innovation and imagination, what preconceived notion that we find to be unshakable will come crashing down around us when the next great idea comes to bear? How much longer till we can simply step out of our living room and into the reality of our choosing? Where is the last line in the sand and how long till it too falls victim to the tide?   read


9:54 PM on 07.17.2009

Fanboy Weekly: Bad Buys

Welcome to Fanboy Weekly: Once More With Feeling Edition. For those that haven't checked it out yet I have been writing a new weekly feature for Game Observer. I thought I would repost the older issues so that those that haven't scoped it out yet can enjoy them and that hopefully you will all like it enough to head over to Game Observer to check the newer and current issues of Fanboy Weekly.



Welcome back once again to Fanboy Weekly. This week Iíd like to discuss something that all who partake in the joys of digital distribution have undoubtedly run into at least once: bad buys (thatís bad BUYS, not bad GUYS, as my editor had a hard time with). It happens (the bad BUYS). Something looked better then it really was; you had a bad case of retro goggles, or whatever the case may beÖ it happened. But what If this didnít have to be the case, given that Nintendo so far refuses to provide demos for their digital content? So how can they take the sting out of a bad buy? Let me tell you.

I hate to say it, but they would have to take the GameStop trade-in model, though with a few adjustments of course. See, thereís something to be said about a game not costing you a dime as far as shelf space goes. My thought would be to offer half the trade-in points of the initial value so long as you are willing to relinquish your gameís digital rights. What this does is it makes you feel far less burned when you end up buying a piece of crap game. That in turn will make a customer far more likely to come back and use this service again.

What this also does is no matter what Nintendo will still get paid. In fact they will even still get the full price of their game out the purchase. I say this because the only thing you would get back is points onto your account. The genius here is that even the money that they give you back will still end up in their pockets and you can knock a few bucks off the price of whatever game you do end up settling on.

The end result is that you end up with a game that youíre happy with when itís all said and done and Nintendo ends up banking on everything you do in the process. The beauty of this is that unlike brick and mortar stores the vendor will never run into overstock issues; ideally the trade-in values would only decrease if the sale price decreases.

So there you have it. The digital distribution solution to bad buys. And this one didnít even cost you a dime.

The Fanboy has spoken.   read


9:01 PM on 07.10.2009

Fanboy Weekly: Nintendo Online

Welcome to Fanboy Weekly: Once More With Feeling Edition. For those that haven't checked it out yet I have been writing a new weekly feature for Game Observer. I thought I would repost the older issues so that those that haven't scoped it out yet can enjoy them and that hopefully you will all like it enough to head over to Game Observer to check the newer and current issues of Fanboy Weekly.



Welcome back once again to Fanboy Weekly. Settle in and get comfy, because this week weíre in it for the long haul as weíll be talking a bit of history and some hopes for the future when it comes to online and MMOís in particular. Itís something that both of Nintendoís competitors have jumped into at one point or another. The 360 has been there for a few years already with Final Fantasy XI and Sony has done the same with Final Fantasy XI on the PS2 as well as Monster Hunter and even Home could be considered an MMO to some extent on the PS3.

Laggy online history

But what of Nintendo history in this realm? While there isnít a deep history here, there is a history short as it may be. To my recollection this online history did start with the NES though it had nothing to do with games nor did it ever come to the U.S., but there was a modem for the NES that was actually used for checking and trading stocks. So there you have it. Nintendoís online history started with the stock market.

Now letís fast forward and get a little more relevant. Letís take a look at the Game Cube. For those of us that were curious and flipped their Game Cubeís over you will have noticed that there are a couple of removable covers. One of those was for an expansion port which would eventually be used for the Gameboy Player, which is worth its weight in gold, especially since the DSi doesnít have a Gameboy slot anymore. Then there were those other couple of ports. There was the dial-up modem port and then there was the broadband adapter port. Seeing that got my hopes up on the prospect of online play. However that never quite came to fruition. There was of course Mario Kart Double Dash that for the tech savvy you could jimmy rig online play and then there was Phantasy Star Online.

Phantasy Star Online is a very dangerous subject matter for me. Iíve lost well in excess of 1500 hours to this game. I still occasionally lose a day or two of my life to it from time to time. And on a related note, those that want to lose a day or two at a time in the same manor with me I do still play it online so get in touch with me at [email protected] because I love having people to play online with. Back to the topic at hand however, the Phantasy Star Online games for the Game Cube were the only games that ever utilized an actual online service on the console and let you actually freely converse and play with others on the ďCubeĒ. In an entire life cycle we got two online games for the system and only one of them was really worthwhile. Thatís a little disheartening.

Then along comes the DS, and with it the promise of online gaming on the go. It took a bit for Nintendo to get things going but they did finally get the ball rolling with Mario Kart DS, and to Mario Kartís credit made it very easy to find a game online to play in. What it also did was make playing online with your friends a pain in the ass. Funnily enough, Tony Hawkís American Skateland came out the same day and had a much better online setup. Later on news of Metroid Prime Hunters came up saying that it was even going to have voice chat and I rejoiced at the thought that Nintendo was finally wising up. Sadly, so far that and the Pokemon games for the DS seem to be the pinnacle of online play on the platform.

Plenty of good models for Nintendo out there

Now onto the Wii. Unfortunately things seemed to have regressed when it comes to Nintendoís approach to online when you get to the Wii. The most advanced online offering for the Wii is actually Animal Crossing Wild World, as itís the only game for the system that allows voice chat between players. A few things that give me hope are developers like High Voltage Software who are currently working on The Conduit, which by the way if itís not on your radar it freaking should be. HVS gives me hope because they seem to be attempting to push all aspects of the system, including the fact that they even had a system link mode up and running when they were working on the multiplayer, though Nintendo actually made them drop it. However they will offer voice chat and with any luck it will be with anyone that youíre playing with and not just people on your friends list.

Now that we have that bit of history out of the way, letís get back to talking about MMOs. As I said before, itís been touched on by a Nintendo system with Phantasy Star Online and hopefully that kind of online setup will be included in the upcoming Phantasy Star Zero for the DS. What saddens me is that we havenít seen any attempts at a full blown MMO for either the DS or the Wii. Whatís worse is that there a couple of prime candidates that seem like they would fit quite well on a Nintendo system. Maple Story in particular comes to mind. Worse still is that itís been proven very workable on the DS since there is a single player version of the game overseas. All that itís missing to be in business is an online structure.

However I would much rather see a game like Maple Story on my TV on Wii. Iíve played quite a bit of Maple Story on my PC and I can tell you that what you need to run the game itself isnít that big since most of the assets are stored online on the servers and you are essentially just running a piece of software that lets you access those servers. With that fact in mind, I wouldnít mind paying five or ten bucks to download the game to my Wii, even though itís free on the PC, and be able to boot it up and play on a server or set of servers that are just people playing Maple Story on the Wii. And I can tell you full well that the Wii can handle playing a game like Maple Story considering itís a pretty simple-looking, sprite-based MMO.

Whatís more is that I wouldnít even be heartbroken about a lack of voice chat considering that the Wii has a USB port that I can plug in a keyboard to. Iíve often thought to myself while playing it on my pc that I would much rather play the majority of the game with a controller like the classic joystick or even something as simple as the Wiimote turned sideways and to be able to use the pointer functionality of the Wiimote in place of a mouse. What really makes me think that a game like Maple Story is well suited to the Wii more than anything, is the tone of the game. Maple Story is a very family friendly styled game and its success has seemingly recently spawned countless other free online MMOs that use this very child friendly approach. Frankly I think Nintendo is missing a huge opportunity by not picking up on games like this and putting them onto their systems. Who knows, maybe one day yet Nintendo will wise up and even put out their very own MMO, and no, Animal Crossing doesnít count.

The Fanboy has spoken.   read


10:16 PM on 07.04.2009

Fanboy Weekly: Virtual Console Arcade

Welcome to Fanboy Weekly: Once More With Feeling Edition. For those that haven't checked it out yet I have been writing a new weekly feature for Game Observer. I thought I would repost the older issues so that those that haven't scoped it out yet can enjoy them and that hopefully you will all like it enough to head over to Game Observer to check the newer and current issues of Fanboy Weekly.



Welcome back once again to Fanboy Weekly. This week I want to take a look at the introduction of arcade games to the Virtual console. With the induction of arcade games to the virtual console Nintendo has jumped into the brave new world of digital distribution. The question is what are its limitations and where will this take us?

Letís start with the obvious. This gives us a unique chance to look back at the begins of a video games giant. To get the arcade originals instead of some of the terrible home console ports would be absolutely fantastic. There is of course the flip side of that argument that says there are also some home console games that were terrible in the arcades. Given the current track record of the virtual console we are bound to get some of each.

The first and most likely problem that weíre going to come upon is the likelihood of duplicate games. Letís face it, we already have way too many duplicate games on Virtual Console already. Donít believe me? Go look up how many different versions of R-Type of Ghosts and Goblins you can download. The other issue is what games do you allow never ending credits on and what games do you allow only three credits, or even only a single credit? Thatís a major issue when you are emulating arcade games. Another is pricing. The problem here is that flat pricing can either kill Nintendoís retro digital distribution or make it. That means their safe bet is to get away from flat pricing. The issue with it, though, is a lack of systems that can be used as bench marks for pricing.

Arcade game werenít restricted to what you had at home. Makers could define what could or could not be done. Arcade developers could create hardware that was custom made to their needs. That meant that arcade games could grow and evolve a lot faster than their console brethren, which is why a lot of console versions of arcade games were terrible compared to the arcade originals.

The upshot to finally having arcade games on Virtual Console though is the monster selection of games that were in fact arcade only. There are a lot of hidden gems that never made it out of the arcade for one reason or another and to finally have these games at home is fantastic. Now with all these new titles to choose from it would be great if we could go back to more then one Virtual Console game a week and we would be all set.

The Fanboy has spoken.   read


12:40 PM on 06.26.2009

Fanboy Weekly: Have we been forgotten?

Welcome to Fanboy Weekly: Once More With Feeling Edition. For those that haven't checked it out yet I have been writing a new weekly feature for Game Observer. I thought I would repost the older issues so that those that haven't scoped it out yet can enjoy them and that hopefully you will all like it enough to head over to Game Observer to check the newer and current issues of Fanboy Weekly.



Welcome back to Fanboy Weekly. This week weíll be delving into a question that seems to pop up every other month or so and always just after E3: does Nintendo even care about its hardcore fans anymore? If you were to ask this six to seven months after the launch of the Wii I would have said likely not. Though the farther and farther we get into the lifespan of the Wii Iím more and more inclined to say that they do still care very much. The only difference is that they have picked up on something we havenít even thought about. Theyíve simply changed their marketing and advertising strategies to accommodate us and weíve all been too thick to see it.

Madness, you say? Not so, I must reply. I say this because if there is news that matters to us, weíll sniff it out one way or the other. It simply looks to me like Nintendo has picked up on that and realized they donít have to pump insane amounts of money into advertising for a game that were going to find out about and buy anyways. So it only makes sense that they would take the money that theyíre saving and use it to draw in a crowd that wonít actively seek out new games but will buy them if marketed to correctly. But I digress, we are not forgotten.

As I said a moment ago, if you had asked me six or seven months after launch I would have said yes, we have been forgotten. Looking at the library at that point in time, there just wasnít that much for us diehard fans. There were some promising games on the horizon however. But as time went on some of those games were either cancelled, like Project H.A.M.M.E.R., while others simply faded further and further into obscurity, such as Sadness. Those that survived and hit shelves began to form a rather respectable library. We eventually ended up with an assortment of core titles like Okami, SSX Blur, Zack and Wiki, Metroid Prime 3, Geometry Wars Galaxies, Super Mario Galaxy, No More Heroes, Madworld and more.

In short, we were not at all forgotten. We were simply trusted to learn about these games on our own, and when we stopped getting an IV drip of information about the games we were interested in and stopped having loads of advertising thrown in our faces we assumed we had been abandoned, and instead of picking up the slack ourselves we just started to moan about it and cry that we had been forgotten. We chose not to look at the fact that Nintendo continues to work on at least one if not two new Zelda titles at present. We have chosen to forget that there is a new Mario game in the works. We ignore the fact that Retro Studios is less than likely to be sitting around on their hands instead of working on a new title. And let us not forget that Nintendo only chose not to show Kid Icarus at E3 last year because they said they were not yet satisfied with it.

We have not been forgotten. Instead we have been trusted to fend for ourselves and we opted not to. We opted to whine and complain. The fact that Nintendo chose to change the way they handle marketing and the distribution of information without really telling anyone was not the best idea. The fact that they trusted us to sniff out hardcore games, and we didnít, doesnít exactly say great things on our behalf either. Now armed with this knowledge, we must be vigilant, do our part and be proactive while Nintendo helps those that arenít as savvy as we are. Nintendo is doing their part; we must do ours.

The Fanboy has spoken.   read


8:38 PM on 06.21.2009

My week in gaming 06/14/09 - 06/20/09

Welcome back once again to My week in gaming. It's been a short week as I'm still readjusting to having to get my ass up at 5 in the morning to be to work during the summer. Let's get to it.



First up is Guitar Hero II. It's been an ideal choice this week as I can play it in small, easily digestible chunks and still feel like I'm making progress. And over the last week I polished off the end of the main game and will likely knock off the rest of the bonus tracks this week. All in all, still a good time.



Next up on the chopping block is Clubhouse games. Again, this week has called for small chunks of gaming. There is something simultaneously relaxing and infuriating about playing solitaire. But if nothing else, it's a great way to pass the time on the can.



Last but not least stumbled across a copy of The Legend Of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure for dirt cheap and recalled that I never did finish it and thought I'd grab it up and add it to my pile of shame. I did pop it in though for a bit and played through the first section or two and am falling back in love again very quickly.   read


8:06 PM on 06.19.2009

Fanboy Weekly: Thank You Nintendo

Welcome to Fanboy Weekly: Once More With Feeling Edition. For those that haven't checked it out yet I have been writing a new weekly feature for Game Observer. I thought I would repost the older issues so that those that haven't scoped it out yet can enjoy them and that hopefully you will all like it enough to head over to Game Observer to check the newer and current issues of Fanboy Weekly.



Welcome back to Fanboy Weekly. This week I would like to stop and say thank you to my favorite company, Nintendo. Thank you for what, you might ask. Pricing. In a generation of gaming that has seen a marked rise in cost, and therefore prices, Nintendo has managed to stay reasonable and I feel I should stop and thank them for the courtesy, and so should you.

Letís start with the obvious: retail games. In a market where sixty bucks a pop is the norm Nintendo has kept their games to a max of fifty smackers. Now every once in a while I wouldnít mind paying an extra ten dollars for a special edition, but that occasion hasnít come up yet. It means a lot to me when a company respects the restrictions of my wallet. It also impresses me that Nintendo has even managed to encourage the release of retail games at budget prices as well. Seeing new games hitting shelves for forty or even thirty dollars thrills me to death.

Whatís become a little less obvious is the fact that Nintendo also respects our digital dollar as well. Look at the Virtual Console; while I still think that five dollars is a little too much for NES games, on the whole there is still a lot of value to be had. I even think that there are enough fantastic deals and finds on the Virtual console that Iím willing to pay what they ask. That is both the downside and the upshot to a flat pricing system.

More importantly though, Nintendo doesnít seem to overly-abuse their right to set prices on WiiWare like Microsoft has been doing in the last year or so. In fact I watched it happen on the 360 with great sadness. Whatís worse is that I can pinpoint what made Microsoft think it was ok to start hiking prices on XBLA. It was Castle Crashers and Braid that did 360 owners in. Microsoft was just getting to the point where they thought, ďLetís see how far we can push our luck with pricing,Ē and it sadly coincided with those two releases. Castle Crashers and Braid were actually worth the extra cash, which resulted in being misread by Microsoft as willingness to suck it up for any and every game, so they made ten bucks a pop the standard.

Back to my point though, it thrills me to see major releases coming out on WiiWare and not using the ten dollar mark as a base line and keep getting more expensive from there. To see ďmust haveĒ WiiWare releases like Bit.Trip Beat and the Art Style games popping out at only six dollars a piece is the best incentive anyone could give me to buy a download-only game. I have an easier time justifying paying the cash for these then I do ten-to-fifteen dollar games on XBLA, whether or not they are worth the money or not.

In conclusion, my wallet would like to take a minute to say ďthank youĒ to Nintendo for showing it some respect, and would like to encourage all of your wallets to crawl out of your back pockets and say ďthank youĒ to Nintendo as well. Until next week.

The Fanboy has spoken.   read


3:28 PM on 06.14.2009

My week in gaming 05/17/09 - 06/13/09 I've been busy edition

Welcome back to My week in gaming. I'm aware that I've been M..A. for about a month but I've been busy and shit happens. But in the mean time I have gotten in a little gaming here and there. So let's get to it.



Let's kick this off with A Fading Melody. I finally finished it and I was right. It wasn't what I wanted out of the ending but it was good, just not what it absolutely good have been. I won't spoil anything for anybody but suffice it to say that it's well worth the 200 points.



Next up is Castle Crashers. I took some time to work on getting my King leveled up. I still love the hell out of it and I've finally got a few other people into it and hopefully soon will have a good group of four to play with.



Now on to Rez. Yet another game that I finally finished off. I loved the game from start to just before finish. And at the encouragement of Zex I finally finished it and wished that I hadn't because the end of that game is absolute bullshit. I still loved playing it but the way it ended was in fact complete crap.



Now onto my next fixation. I've been working on Dead Space and it's fantastic. I'm flat out impressed. I like the fact fact that story spans multiple mediums. I love the sound design. I haven't felt compelled to actually set up my surround sound system since Metroid Prime 3 came out but this game has compelled me. I love the lighting too. I have great respect for a survival horror game that ops for good lighting as opposed to shit lighting where you can't see your own hand in front of your face. Respectable lighting doesn't just mean being able to see someone running up on you but it also means that the developers have to put real care and detail into your surroundings because the player will actually see it and you must be able to maintain the illusion and EA has done a fantastic job of putting this world together in such a manor that you feel like you are absolutely trapped and alone in this completely fucked mining station.



And there's Hexic. It always come back to Hexic. It makes for a great game to play when I can't be fucked to hold a controller with both hands. It's that game that I can come home from work and play it until I fall asleep and when I wake up I don't wake up looking at it feeling like it's been waiting impatiently for me to get back to it. I like that.



I've been suffering way too much downtime at work due to my boss' inability to procure the stuff my coworker and I need to do our job so I've been killing way too much time with Clubhouse games. It's a whole lot of game in one neat little package. I can dig it!



Yay Big Bang Mini! The score attack mode is about the most addictive thing on the planet. Plus I'm almost done with the campaign mode as well and it's still pretty spiffy.



Also making the list of stuff I've been playing is Metroid Prime. I couldn't tell you why but I just had a hankering to play some good old Prime. There is no substitute for some things. Metroid Prime is one of those things.



Last but not least, there's Chrono Trigger. I want to like this God damn game but it keeps making it real hard to do so. I put it down for some time hoping I would be able to go back to it with a fresh face and get through that damn fight with the golem sisters but it was not to be. So in frustration and fury, I handed my DS to Zex and said, "here, you do it." So he plowed through i since he's done it before and now I can finally continue to enjoy my game.   read


3:50 PM on 06.12.2009

Fanboy Weekly: E3 Expectations

Welcome to Fanboy Weekly: Once More With Feeling Edition. For those that haven't checked it out yet I have been writing a new weekly feature for Game Observer. I thought I would repost the older issues so that those that haven't scoped it out yet can enjoy them and that hopefully you will all like it enough to head over to Game Observer to check the newer and current issues of Fanboy Weekly.



Welcome back once again to Fanboy Weekly. This week I would like to draw your attention to the upcoming E3 event. First and foremost, E3 the last two years have sucked big floppy donkey dick. Now that weíve gotten the obvious out of the way letís take a look at the question at hand. Given the last two years worth of conferences from Nintendo, should we even keep paying any attention to Nintendo at E3? The short answer is, yes.

Nintendo needs ďDigital PowerĒ

The long answer is yes, but, if they keep going the way theyíve been over the last few years, not much attention. Thatís not to say that Nintendo canít turn it around, because they can. There are a lot of things that they could do. Even if itís just one or two things from the whole to-do list, it would still be enough to merit our attention. Some of these things would include an easy way to watch the conference this year. Between the release of the Nintendo Channel and the fact that it would not be that hard to set up a channel that taps into a live feed of the conference, I would be far more inclined to watch it intently if I could watch it on my Wii.

The next thing that would get me to take heed of Nintendo at E3 this year would be the announcement that Nintendo Power will be going into digital distribution. Given that in the past year or so Nintendo Power has become very bare bones in its presentation since U.S. Publishing took it over, I really donít get that excited to see it in the mail anymore. In fact Iím not even planning on renewing my subscription since I can just as easily go out to the book store on an evening excursion and thumb through it and get everything I want out of it. Digital distribution would be fantastic, though. To pay ten or fifteen dollars worth of points and be given access to a channel that is updated with Nintendo news weekly or even daily would be well worth it to me.

The next thing that would go a long ways towards once again garnering the attention of the core Nintendo audience would be to lay out release dates for the rest of New Play Control games so that we know whatís coming when and can plan appropriately for the games that we want, because letís face it, everyone wants at least one of those games in their hands sooner rather then later.

Again, revive the great franchises

Next would be to unveil some new entries into some of the assorted series I discussed a few weeks back. At least tell me that thereís more F-Zero and star Fox on the way. Show me some Pikmin 3. Or God forbid they even go so far as to tell us some thing about some new upcoming A list series like Zelda on the Wii, or to even drop me a hint or two about whatís in store for Samus would thrill me to death.

Lastly, I would love to see them do what most of us would consider it to be rather obvious: tell me how the Wii Motion Plus is going to be implemented in new Nintendo games. At least tell me that the New Zelda game will use it to control one-on-one sword fighting, or that they will be using it in the new Kid Icarus games, which they might then finally announce or even show since itís been all but confirmed for over a year now.

Or they could top all of that by saying that they understand that their E3 presentations arenít bringing us the news we want and that in order to alleviate this issue they will announce the return of Space World and will be bringing us their truly megaton announcements then. I do not hesitate to say that I would cream myself at the unveiling of the return of Space World and that it would be kept a show for gamers like you and me. Well, now that Iíve laid out my hopes and dreams for E3 this year so that they can be likely crushed or possibly fulfilled, Iíll catch you all next week.

The Fanboy has spoken.   read


10:11 PM on 06.05.2009

Fanboy Weekly: The Retrovival

Welcome to Fanboy Weekly: Once More With Feeling Edition. For those that haven't checked it out yet I have been writing a new weekly feature for Game Observer. I thought I would repost the older issues so that those that haven't scoped it out yet can enjoy them and that hopefully you will all like it enough to head over to Game Observer to check the newer and current issues of Fanboy Weekly.



Welcome back once again to Fanboy Weekly. This week I would like to take a look at a movement that has been working its way into the games industry and in the last year or so really hit its stride: the ďretrovivalĒ. You all may be asking why I am talking about the retrovival here on Fanboy Weekly. Simple, because looking back Iím pretty comfortable attributing this movement to Nintendo.

I think to see where this movement first started we need to look to the DS. Here is a system that when it came out it promised to push the limits of handheld gaming. And for a little while it did. Then came along the PSP which was sporting considerably more powerful hardware. So whatís a DS to do? Find a niche. And find a niche it did. It started with games like Nintendogs and Warioware Touch. When we started buying up games like New Super Mario Bros. and Tetris DS developers started to look to the other extreme. They realized that they didnít need to be on the bleeding edge of graphics to sell.

And so came Lo-Fi gaming, and hardcore players rejoiced. It took time but what happened at first glance might be considered a devolution or regression of gaming, but those would be inappropriate terms as they tend to carry a rather negative connotation. Instead, consider it a simplification of what has become an extremely complex medium. It was exemplified by the release of games like Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Sonic Rush, and even Kirby Canvas Curse.

Then came along the Wii, and with it, the Virtual Console. What the Virtual Console did was continue to remind us why we love our old games and simultaneously put a template to making good 80ís and early 90ís styled games in front of developers. Then the news came and floored everyone. Capcom was developing Mega Man 9 as a NES Mega Man for the Wii. While, yes, when it released it released for all platforms, but most consider the Wii the catalyst for the creation of Mega Man 9. In fact, consider this, if you heard word that Capcom was making a new 8-bit Mega Man and was only going to release it on the Playstation 3 or on the Xbox 360 you would have been skeptical at best. But to hear that it would only be made for the Wii would simply invoked joy and happiness and you wouldnít even begin to question the news; you would just get excited and piss your pants with joy. It just made sense.

Now the retrovival has truly hit its stride. In fact the retrovival has simply exploded on the Wii and the DS. With the DS we now have games like Retro Game Challenge which just exemplifies 80ís gaming culture, and thrills me to death every time I turn it on. On the flip side of that coin we have games like Big Bang Mini, that while they couldnít be done on old school hardware because of the nature of the gameplay, managed to retain the simplistic gameplay sensibilities and mechanics that you expect from your favorite old school ďshmupsĒ.

Then thereís the Wii which has brought us retro gems like the Art Style games and Bit.Trip Beat that when I play I feel like Iíve just jumped back to the early 90ís and I just want it to be midnight on some summer night so I can turn off all the lights, open the window and just listen to the insects outside and catch glimpses of fireflies on the window out of the corner of my eye while I bask in the glow of the TV as I sit on the floor cross-legged and wish that summer vacation would last forever.

The Fanboy has spoken.   read


9:47 PM on 06.04.2009

Metroid: Other M Trailer Breakdown



Ladies and gentlemen, E3 has come and gone and there were more then a few news bombs dropped. The biggest for me personally was the last one I would have expected, a new Metroid game. I saw the trailer for Other M and my mind was reeling from the sheer awesomeness but after the elation subsided which took countless hours I started re watching the trailer and began to pick up on details which has for the most part only led to more questions then answers.

The first of these many questions is where in the time line does this sit? For anyone that knows their Metroid the immediate response would be that it takes placed before the original Metroid. This detail could bee gleaned from the fact fact that Adam Malcovich is shown as alive and giving orders to Samus. This would imply that Other M takes place while Samus was in fact still enlisted with the Galactic Federation. This premise is laden with potential to provide answers to an entire array of questions in regards to Samus' history including why she enlisted and why she left as well as what happened to Adam. Other M looks as though it may even delve into the relationship between Samus and Adam. In fact I would go so far as to say that I can guarantee the events leading up and including Adam's death will be revealed being that the trailer shows Samus standing over what appears to be a dead Adam.



The thought the Other M will be strictly a prequel falls apart as soon as the gameplay footage starts though because upon further inspection one will see a gorgeous rendition of the death of the metroid hatchling at the hands of Mother Brain from Super Metroid. Not only that but for the truly investigative such as myself you'll also notice the scene with several of, what appears to be Federation troopers, being targeted by the huntress herself as though she is being hunted which would imply that that scene is post Fusion being that the end of Fusion saw Samus being a fugitive from the Federation. Not only that but there is an additional scene that sees Samus seemingly snooping in a Galactic Federation lab and accessing a screen that says, "Living Body Arms Development," which would imply organic weaponry. Now if you'll recall that was a major story crux in Fusion that the Galactic Federation was in fact working on a program to mass produce and rapidly grow metroids for weapons use. That screen also reads, "Attestation Success," from which one could also infer that whatever the Federation has been working on has in fact been fruitful and if it is a metroid rapid growth program then what we saw could in fact be Samus trying to bring this program down from the inside.



The final couple of unanswered questions raised from this trailer include a federation trooper who asks Samus if she remembers him. Now a few things can be gleaned from this one snippet. The first is that this man is someone that she served with while enlisted in the Federation. Second, the question, "remember me," says that it's been some time since she has seen him which leads me to believe that this scene takes place post Fusion. This depiction also suggests that he may in fact be her inside contact that gets her into the Federations lab in order to shut down their bio weapons program. The other unanswered question is who is the woman in the lab coat seen throughout the entire trailer that Samus introduces herself to. She was seen both in the beginning of the trailer while Adam was alive and watches Samus as she stands over Adam's dead body which implies that she at the very least knew Adam or may have even been involved with Adam romantically. Seeing her catch Samus snooping in the Living Body Arms Development lab also suggests that she is also working on the rapid growth program as well or may have been responsible for the upload of Adam's consciousness after he passed away.



Last but most certainly not least is the gameplay. Everything I saw told me several things. First off, terrain traversal appears to happen on a 2d plane with some very dramatic camera angles. What I mean by this is that even though there are shots of Samus running either into or away from the camera she doesn't seem to shift left to right which tells me that the focus for terrain traversal remains about classic platforming. Where this appears to break from the norm in regards to Metroid style gameplay is in the combat. While there was what appeared to be some classic shooting things out of the sky gameplay there looks to be much more melee style combat. Case in point being the scene where Samus takes down a creature by the neck, keeps it in a headlock on the ground, and shoots it in the head point blank. This is where you can truly see Team Ninja's influence on the series bleeding in and somehow it doesn't seem wrong and that's a pretty tough feat to pull off. Retro Studios pulled it off and I still think that's only because a first person game always seems to make sense because everyone at least once has wanted to get behind the visor of the huntress at least once. This in fact appears to remain in Metroid Other M at least in a few instances.



In the end, as I stated at the beginning of this analysis, this trailer has simply provided more questions then answers. The upside to all of this is that we have until the game drops in 2010 to speculate all we want but at the end of it all we will finally have a Metroid game that delves into the untold history of the first lady of gaming.

[Update]

It has been brought to light via an interview with the director that Metroid Other M is set in the time line between Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion. This however does not shatter the theory that the Living Body Arms Development program is the Federations metroid rapid growth research. This may in fact be Samus getting a glimpse at what the Federation is working on and not knowing all the details. There is also the possibility that it is the Federation trying to duplicate Samus' power suit.   read


6:23 AM on 06.03.2009

Staying Power

While listening to an old episode of Podtoid, something was mentioned that made me really stop and think. Anthony Burch mentioned that after a game has been out for three weeks most people don't tend to even care about it any more. That really took me aback for a minute until I really thought about it and realized he's right. The question that this brought to light for me is why is this given that this didn't used to be the case. It used to be that when a big game came out or that when we as gamers got a new game we fixated on it for quite some time.



What changed though? When did the consumer electronics mentality of throw away technology begin to apply to gaming and what caused this mindset shift to occur? To find the beginning of the answer we have no further to look then the gaming press. With the press constantly demanding we focus our attention on the next big thing their constant need for new things to put up on their front pages that need for the newest, biggest, baddest thing has started to bleed into our own brains. That in and of itself is not bad because we as consumers should constantly demand a better product.



But the press is not the only group on which blame can be laid. We must also look to the publishing companies that whore their products out to no end. Publishing companies have gotten so bad about pushing and promoting their new game that not only are they getting gamers to forget about whatever any other publisher put out but they are even stepping on their own toes. EA for example, managed to do this to themselves as an example when they were pushing Dead Space, which had a brilliant cross media campaign that I greatly respect, so hard that they managed to over shadow Mirror's Edge and in the end both games suffered, some of that financial failure can also be attributed to bad timing as well.



The third culprit in the case of the disappearing attention span is major chain second hand stores such as Game Stop and Game Crazy. These chains have one goal in mind, make money. Now speaking from experience as having both worked in and run a Game Crazy I can tell you that they will push you so hard to trade in your new release games as fast as humanly possible. For them, used games is where the money is, and new releases are easy money for them. They give you half back on your sixty dollar game, give or take, and sell it for fifty or fifty-five bucks is great for them and the best part is because it's new they know some body will come looking to buy it and will have no hesitations buying it since it's a few dollars cheaper.



But in the end the biggest factor in all this is both the games and the gamers. Games on the whole in the last decade with a few very blatant exceptions simply don't have the replay value that gives them the staying power required to convince us to keep them for more then a week after we've finished it. And then there's us, the gamers. Our attention span has dwindled on the whole as we've gotten older. We have become fickle as we've aged and are constantly looking to be playing the next big thing so that we can remain relevant in our online gaming circles and not end up months behind the gaming trend and must always have the latest and greatest that everyone else is playing.

All in all it comes back to the need to stay part of the herd. And while I have an appreciation for that need there is also something to be said for sticking with a game for more then a week and really getting you money out of it.   read


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