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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


6:53 AM on 05.22.2009

Fanboy Weekly: Forgotten Franchises

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.



Something is missing. In fact, there are several things missing. And you know what? Most of us have forgotten that something is missing. Whatís missing? Our second string series on the Wii. Where the hell is my Star Fox? Where is my Pikmin? And most importantly, where on Godís green Earth is my f***ing F-Zero?

Why have all these series that either debuted or released their best iteration to date fallen by the wayside and have been forgotten about while we continue to bitch about not having another Zelda title or demanding why we havenít heard anything about another Mario game? Pikmin for example has premiered on the GameCube and in the life cycle of a single system became a beloved member of the Nintendo family of series. Not only that but as if to rub it in our face we get the New Play Control Pikmin and Pikmin 2 yet we stopped demanding to know where is our Pikmin 3?

What happened to Star Fox? Here is a series that both bottomed out and pinnacled on the same console with its appearances on the GameCube. I would be willing to suffer a terrible Star Fox game like Star Fox Adventure again if it means that Nintendo uses that game as an opportunity to figure out what elements to strip out and put into a great Star Fox game like Star Fox Assault.

Most importantly, why has F-Zero seemingly been abandoned? We got F-Zero GX almost six years ago, which to me is the definition of the F-Zero series, but I still want to see an attempt to push it even harder than GX, whether or not I rationally believe it can be done. But at the very least we would get new tracks, characters and machines. Not to mention the fact that I have a hard time believing that Nintendo would put out a new F-Zero without any online multiplayer, which that series deserves far more than the likes of a ridiculously random game like Mario Kart.

Last but not least I would like to visit a Nintendo property that has been dormant since the Game Boy: Kid Icarus. This is a series that I am considerably more optimistic about. Nintendo at the very least admitted that they have, or at least had, it in the works and were sad that it wasnít ready to show at E3 last year. So this year Iím holding out some hope that we will finally get to see what theyíve been cooking up for Nintendoís little winged boy wonder.

With any luck Nintendo will even be kind enough to throw us another bone or two in addition to Kid Icarus come E3, whether it be one or two new IPs like what Project H.A.M.M.E.R. once was before it was canned, or maybe even something like a successor to Eternal Darkness that with the right dev crew could truly milk the Wii for all itís worth. Iíll catch you all next week.

The Fanboy has spoken.   read


4:18 PM on 05.17.2009

My week in gaming 05/10/09 - 05/16/09

It's that time again and I've been hella busy this week so let's get to it.



I finally got back to playing this infuriating platforming masterpiece. While it constantly reminds me that I should be better at platforming it still has enough give that I am making slow progress. The new snippets of story that I have gotten to continue to drive me to further embrace my masochistic tendencies and muscle onward. I still have this image in my head of what I want out of the ending but I'm still pretty confident that I won't get it.



This weekend yielded a rather urgent desire to play something from way the fuck out of left field and so I dug out the bongos and popped in my copy of Donkey Kong Jungle Beat and remebered why I think that porting this to the Wii is a horrible idea. There is something so inherently special about playing a precision platformer with something as odd as a set of bongos and having it work so well that I can only imagine how much of the magic slips away when it's all said and done that it breaks my heart. But back to my time spent with this little golden nugget. I adore this game. There is in fact something so satisfying when you string together that perfect combo and everything just works and you just go flying from a flower stem to bouncing off a wall to swinging from a chain of monkeys to nailing the landing right in front of the final banana bunch and seeing six or seven hundred beats go flying into your barrel.



Yes I booted it up only because I couldn't think of anything more mind numbing at the time.



I've discovered that survival mode is sickeningly addictive and have thus rekindled an old habit that may be hard to break. I find survival mode more enjoyable because when I'm trying to simply shut my brain off it's easier to do when I don't have to work the bombs of of my screen.



I will beat this thing before the new one comes out damnit.



I found myself very restless yesterday and so in an effort to calm myself I popped in Zero Mission and ripped halfway through a new game. I still rock just as hard at Metroid games and it got me to unwind. Metroid always hits the spot.



Not only did I rock out a fair bit of Castle Crashers this week, I even went back and did an update on my Castle Crasher Stats Also for those interested I think that the TVGP community is looking at setting up a Castle Crashers night to go along with Left 4 Dead night. Also, I've almost gotten the King his skull icon.



Next on the epic to do list is Mass Effect. I played it for an hour thinking there has got to be some redeeming factor to this game, after all I enjoyed the TVGP Plays over the last few weeks on it so I though that I would give it a crack and after an hour in not even the fact that Jennifer Hale is in it compelled me to keep playing. The story just didn't hook me. Now granted I was in a bit of a weird mood when I decided to try playing it but at an hour in the story just failed to hook me. Playing Mass Effect though did put me in the mood to play this.



Advent Rising is an under appreciated master work that deserved the polish that it's PC counter part received as well as deserving to be finished as a series. There's something special about a game that let's you hold an enemy in the air while filling him full of rounds from an automatic rifle and then dropping him when the clip empties and then jumping on his back and snapping his neck.



I put ICO into my PS2 for the first time last Sunday and played it a bit before I got pissed of at it and turned it off but I know full well looking back on that day that I was simply not in the right head space to be playing a game like ICO and enjoy it so I will be going back to it at some point.



I also spent an evening with some good old Ridge Racer 6 working through the career mode and made a decent bit of progress



No I didn't play 8-Bit FM but I have found myself enjoying it quite a bit for while I'm gaming though I wish they mixed in more game remixes and chiptunes and eased up on the nerdcore a bit. Check them out at 8-Bit FM.



One final side note I had quite the geekgasm when talking with my editor in chief for Game Observer and he said he was working on setting up an interview with Eskil Steenberg, founder of Quel Solaar and creator of Love, for me for the site. Here is man whose brain I can't wait for an opportunity to pick.   read


2:25 AM on 05.16.2009

Gamers For Gaming



Ladies and gentlemen, our industry has evolved. That's leaves us with a rather large problem. Our ratings system has not evolved with our industry. The simple fact of the matter is that our ratings board has gone from useful to irrelevant to flat out over stepping their bounds by bullying companies and websites that it has no authority over and no right to make demands of. Ladies and gentlemen, we have out grown the ESRB and it is time to leave it behind.

If we are to leave behind the ESRB who or what will fill it's void and how do we get the general game buying population on board with a new organization? First and foremost is who could be trusted to create a new an effective ratings system. The simple answer is that it should be us in charge of ratings.

The not so simple answer is that we as gamers should be electing gamers, people like us who understand and appreciate the medium in an intelligent, thoughtful and responsible way should be nominated and elected to a new ratings board every two years. From there it would be up to these fellow gamers to begin to self regulate our own industry in a responsible manner. To show that we can have the interest of the parents and children that want to enjoy gaming as we do.

One thing that must change however is the encouragement of the education and accountability of parents when it comes to purchasing age appropriate games. The ESRB had released several public service announcements and released them to major gaming retail chains. But that's where the attempt ended, and that's not enough. A new ratings board would need to find a way to further educate parents and encourage the accountability of the parents of young and impressionable gamers.

We are at a point in the gaming industry where we can no longer afford to be the constant target of politicians and lawyers. We need to encourage developers to not be afraid of censorship.What we need is a ratings organization that will stand up and defend our medium against grandstanding lawyers and politicians that want to use the games industry as an easy target to make it look like they are defending our countries morals when all they are doing is stomping on the creative and artistic freedoms and rights of game makers. The creative minds in gaming development deserve to be free to express their vision as best as they can and to be judged by the consumer and not by a ratings board that struggles to stay relevant as year after year goes by. We should be sophisticated enough to decide for ourselves what we can and cannot play. We should not have to put up with muted and toned down versions of a developers concept just so that a game isn't forced into retail murder by receiving the dreaded and frankly worthless AO rating.



I would like to think that this could be an evolved version of what Jim Sterling once suggested when he proposed Gamers For Gaming. It's time for us gamers to take charge of our own industry and stop being the victim of a faceless, overbearing, and irrelevant organization. It's time for a new order in gaming. It's our time to stand up and take the reigns and determine the fate of the gaming industry for ourselves. Gamers, we must stand tall, unite for the cause and defend our right to choose for ourselves, what we play.

  read


5:55 AM on 05.15.2009

Fanboy Weekly: Is the DSi worth it?

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 to Fanboy Weekly. This week I would like to step away from the Wii and take a look at the DS and the fresh out-of-the-box DSi. Whatís the big deal? Is it worth the cash? Do you care?

Starting with the obvious, it costs more. So does that mean youíre getting more? Well youíre getting a few extra features. Youíve got a pair of cameras to play with. Granted the camera on your phone is likely more impressive but your phone isnít attached to your DS now is it? And what can we do with these cameras since they are attached to your DS? I donít know, and apparently neither does Nintendo yet. Sure thereís Warioware Snapped, but much like Warioware Smooth Moves itís really just there to say, ďLook what I can do with my new toy!Ē While it took some time, Nintendo and others finally put the Wiimote to good use, but in the meantime weíre stuck with developers that donít know what to do with this new toy.

Now letís take a look at what else the Big N has given us. Whatís this? Hey, itís an SD slot! Now what are we going to do with it? We could listen to music, or we could look at pictures that we took with the camera, or we could store on it our copy of Warioware Snapped we got because we wanted an excuse to use the camera. Or, we could look at another option that Nintendo doesnít want us to talk about.

Homebrew

Thatís right, homebrew. The SD slot has opened a world of possibilities for the homebrew community. The real bummer is that, like Sony, Nintendo is likely to try and squelch every attempt to make the DSi workable for homebrew software. Thankfully the flip side is that there are lots of dedicated individuals out there with too much time and not enough to do that will make sure we can enjoy all the best in homebrew entertainment on the go.

Most importantly though, what makes my little heart flutter with happiness is the possibility that Nintendo may finally fill in the blank on the Virtual Consoleís homework assignment: Game Boy games. How wonderful would it be if we could have several dozen Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance games in our pockets along with that copy of Cooking Mama that youíre embarrassed to admit you just canít stop playing?

So whatís the final verdict? Unfortunately this is a case-by-case basis as to whether or not you should invest in a DSi. If you donít have a DS yet, go for it. If youíre sitting on a DS Lite I just canít see enough of a reason to shell out the dough for a system thatís not going to let you play the Game Boy Advance games that you bought to play on your DS Lite. However, as soon as The Big N makes what I can only imagine is the inevitable announcement that they are unleashing Virtual Game Boy onto the DSi, Iíll have no problems coughing up the cash for a DSi and you shouldnít have problem with it either. Until then Iím perfectly happy not leaving the house without my sexy DS Lite that has served me well.

The Fanboy has spoken.   read


12:10 AM on 05.13.2009

Persistent Worlds

For the last few weeks I've been rolling around the thought of persistent worlds. I was actually telling someone that I had been thinking on writing this article and he said, "you mean like in MMO's?" To which I replied no. And that left me thinking how one concept can manifest itself in two very different worlds. The fact that a persistent world exist in MMO's is almost a given being that there are always people there taking part in that world.

More interesting though is the concept of persistent worlds in single player experiences. A world that continues to exist after you turn the game off but only in your mind. It got me thinking what is it in these games that makes these worlds live on in one's mind long after the experience on the disc is over. My first inclination was that it was an extreme amount of detail that shapes this world so extensively that it continues to live on in your mind. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it's really the exact opposite that does it.



It is in fact a lack of concrete details and inferences that create this world that's bigger then what you will ever see during your visit to the world that the developer has invited you into. Examples might include games like The Neverhood for one. To start out with no recollection and no knowledge of a world and to be dropped into the middle of it and then asked to gain an understanding of what happened to it. That means that you will likely see far more then you will be given an explanation for. That leaves your imagination to do the rest. And that's the beauty of it. A good developer is aware that your imagination can do an infinitely better job of crafting a world that will resonate with a player then any amount of back story. The real trick is not make the game betray the facts that your imagination has already crafted.



Another example is the Oddworld series. The way that the player was shown tiny glimpses of a larger world would eventually allow the developers to completely change the setting of their game without removing it from the already established world without breaking the the illusion of the world they spent several games crafting by making certain that what they showed you didn't conflict with what your imagination had already conjured up. That takes a great amount of talent and anyone that can successfully do this has my respect and should also have yours.

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2:25 PM on 05.10.2009

My week in gaming 05/03/09 - 05/09/09

Welcome back to My week in gaming. Let's do it.



These week saw me cracking out a little bit of Onslaught because I had a need to shoot things with minimal mental stimulation and I hadn't played Onslaught for a while so I thought I would boot it up for a bit and played through a few missions and it absolutely hit the spot. It reminded me that I really should go back and finish it at some point.



I was siting at home a few nights ago while a buddy of mine was using my computer and I wanted to play something and nothing was really sounding good. So I started looking through my racks and saw Echoes and thought it would be fun to rip up the last few bosses. I was right.



I've been getting back to Moon and am slowly working my way through. Usually no more then one stage at a time. I'm still having a good time with it but I can't seem to play it in long stretches at once.



I am once again working through the campaign mode that I have beaten once before. The only difference this time is that I'm playing it on my 360 instead of my PS2. And as much as I have issues with replaying campaigns in games like this I don't mind playing through this one again. I have a feeling that opinion will change once I get to the last section of songs though because I still remember those songs being a bitch to finish.



Also this week I jumped into some Castle Crashers with the Almighty Tooth and played for a bit before I finally sacked out for the night. I had a great time.



I finally got around to playing Homecourt online a few days ago and lust like when I play the computer I got my ass kicked. That doesn't mean though that the game entertains me any less however. Who knows, maybe one of these days I'll work through the man game and get better a it.



This week same as every week it seems involved some Bit.Trip Beat. I did finally make some progress this week though. I finally made it through the second song and onto third. The only problem was that I couldn't post a high score by the time I needed to turn of my system. So now I have to do it again. On a related high note though, first gameplay was revealed of Bit.Trip Core which looks fucking awesome. Even better is that it was announced that it will be out some time this summer which is even cooler.



Last weekend due to a lack of an ability to decide what to play I decided to get out my NES and play some Tetris. Even though I have Tetris DS there i still something to be said for playing the original. There is something magical about it.

And last but not least I thought it would be a good idea to take another stab at getting my ass handed to me by Mega Man 9. It worked. I booted it up and was promptly shot down time and time again. It was fun. I had almost enough fun to make this happen.

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