Handheld Addict

PS VitaPSPPSPgoWii3DSDS LiteXboxGame Boy Micromp3 playersMobileGadgetsgeneral

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Boxing Week 2008... slightly better

So maybe I succumed to Boxing Day sales after all.

I did go back to Toys R' Us & picked up Raving Rabbids TV Party for $29.99. On Boxing Day I wasn't sure if it was on for that price as the sign still said $49.99, and the only way to ask a clerk was to get in line. When I got home, I checked the website, and confirmed, I trekked back down there the next day.

I found that lot of Boxing Day/Week sales are unmarked, as if the store clerks were too lazy/didn't know what the sale items were. So you have to know what the sale price is before you go there.

Today I went to Rogers Video Rogers Plus & picked up Super Mario Galaxy for $29.99..... sigh... I don't want to pay that much for games, especially 2, but unlike Microsoft or Sony games, Nintendo is *SUPER STINGY* with their game prices. First-party Nintendo games rarely go on sale, nor do they go down in price very much-- Mario Kart DS, which came out years ago, is still MSRP about $40.00-$45.00.... I think it's dropped a WHOPPING $5.00 since it was first released. Jerks.

Raving Rabbids TV Party is a game that I do think will drop in price, hell in a year it'll probably be $20.00, I find that a lot of UbiSoft games (& EA Games) get big price cuts, both companies are so big & put out so much product I guess they can afford it. I was hesitant to pay $30.00 for it, but I know my nephew is a big fan.... so I shelled out for it.

Also at Rogers Plus were some good Nintendo DS games on 2 for $20.00. I bought Sonic Rush DS and Custom Robo DS. $10.00 a game is not bad, but I hope I don't regret buying another Sonic game.....

And at HMV I bought Counter Force (Wii) for $9.99. This is a shovelware game, and I feel guilty for buying it, but it's a mech game and as bad as it sounds, I think there might be some good dumb fun to be had in it.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Boxing Day 2008 sucked

Wow. How awful was this year's Boxing Day? PRETTY DAMN AWFUL.

There weren't many great deals to begin with. I sort of suspected there wouldn't be... I went out hoping for the "privilege" of buying Raving Rabbids TV Party for "only" $29.99. And WarioLand Shake It! for $34.97. Oh boy.

The only other thing I was somewhat interested in was a 16GB flash drive for $23.00.

All a whole load of meh. And I didn't manage to get ANY of the stuff I was looking for. I got out there in the afternoon... a lot later than I usually go (if I go out to sales on Boxing Day) and it was INSANE. The entire city was in gridlock, mobs of people EVERYWHERE on the street-- I couldn't believe it. I'VE NEVER SEEN THIS TOWN SO CROWDED. Seriously, even when The Queen comes to town, there aren't this many people out. It was stupid. After missing out on *everything* I was looking for, I just gave up & tried to get out of town ASAP.

Shitty deals compared to what I got earlier in the year... hell, a week ago I paid $20.00 for Jeanne D'Arc (PSP) , which isn't an awesome deal, but it's not bad. At the same time I also bought Wipeout Pure (PSP) for $5.00... yes, *$5.00* ( I used that one for a gift) Both from The Source @ Circuit City... I just scoured their clearance lists, and made sure that a local store had any in stock.

Nothing compares to the EB Games Days sale they had, I think it was last Spring... where I got Star Trek: Conquest (Wii), Trauma Center: New Blood (Wii), Metroid Prime 3 (Wii), Chibi Robo: Park Patrol (DS), Socom: Fireteam Bravo (PSP)... all for $10.00 each! Now *THAT* is a sale. And there weren't lineups out the door for it (because nobody knew about it) and it wasn't on Boxing Day.

People lined up for shit that wasn't even on sale.... EB had crap deals, and it was still a mob in there.

This... this was just a whole lot of AWFUL. Add to it the huge mobs of people, which I didn't have to contend with during those other, actual sales, and I may have to swear off of Boxing Day from now on. Sucked so bad.

I've been meaning to cut back on just buying crap, so that's the one good thing about it... I didn't add to my CC bill. I'm hoping that in the spring we'll see another killer EB "Games Days" sale.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

PSP calendar 2009

I was looking at my PSP calendar the other day, when I realized-- I hadn't created one for 2009!

Back in 2006 when I first got a PSP, I came across an FHM PSP calendar.... basically, it was 12 (.jpg) image files of hot girls with each month's calendar stamped on them. It was a handy app, you load it onto your PSP, and you have a nice calendar when you need it.

When the PSP first came out in 2005 (in North America) everybody was excited about it... third parties of all types were looking to get in on the "craze"... not just video game makers, but companies like Maxim & FHM, hence the FHM calendar, with nice PSP-formatted images (480 x 272) .

But Sony rested on its laurels, totally squandering all the momentum it had initially built up during the first 2 years of the PSP launch. By mid-late 2006, seeing Sony's apathy for their own product, third parties gradually jumped *OFF* the PSP bandwagon. Among many other tragedies, this meant that there was no 2007 FHM PSP calendar.

So I had to make my own. It's not quite as nice as having an FHM pre-formatted one, but it still turned out pretty good. Then after the 2007 PSP calendar, I made a 2008 PSP calendar....

And now that the history lesson is done, we're caught up. I searched my archives for some suitable images to make into calendar pages, and came across a nice calendar grid that I could cut & paste via Photoshop into my 2009 PSP calendar. What's weird is that afterward, I noticed the date I started my 2008 one is the EXACT SAME DAY-- 12/23-- that I started my 2009 one! Kinda funny.... guess that's going to be my annual tradition for 12/23?

So far I've got up to August done.

(Jan 2009 model is Tiffany Toth BTW)


Monday, December 22, 2008

Lisa Kudrow on DS

Got this weird Nintendo email recently, advertising one of their latest DS apps, Personal Trainer: Cooking. It's what it sounds like; a cooking guide for the DS. I guess there are recipes, but apparently it also tells you how to prepare the meals, it's largely hands-free (because they'll be busy cooking, 'natch) and it's also voice operated(?) Sounds pretty ambitious.

There's a site with ads for it, and a couple have Lisa Kudrow, one of them is the ad for the "game"(that's her niece with her in the ad) and this one is her talking about her history with Nintendo handhelds, specifically the Nintendo Game Boy. She said she's had one for about "15 years", then asks when they came out, implying that she's had one since around that time.

Kinda strange to hear one of the Friends talking about a DS, and the games for it. I dunno. So that's where she's been since they stopped making Friends... playing her DS.....


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

weird idea

Last night I had the weirdest dream.... I dreamt I was watching a trailer for a video game. You know HAL-9000, from the movie 2001?

And you know the movie Tron?

The trailer was for Hal vs Tron.

I have no idea how this works. I even asked that in my dream, after I watched the trailer. It was more like a teaser trailer than a full-blown trailer. It had something about HAL-9000... then we pan out through the Tron logo. It was like, what is HAL after 2001, or more approriately, the sequel, 2010? At the end of 2010, HAL is part of the spaceship Discovery, and the Discovery was consumed when Jupiter went nova. But I always got the feeling that HAL was saved & somehow fused with the alien intelligence that was behind all that 2001/2010 shennanigans.

(The last Tron game I played was Tron 2.0: Killer App for Xbox, I got it a couple xmas ago. I played the first few levels, it was ok, but I put it away for some reason. Been meaning to pick it up again. It seemed like an average FPS style platform game...)

So imagine an alien hybrid HAL, and now imagine somehow going into him, Tron-style. I'm still not sure how this all works. Hey, it was a dream after all.

It also got me thinking about other, more appropriate Tron crossovers. Like what about Tron vs Skynet, from the Terminator franchise? The Tron characters could be trying to stop Skynet from the inside, and it could be a completely different battle than the Terminators vs human stuff we've seen.

It's such a bizarre idea, and I think there are a lot of possibilities. Maybe not for a kickass game, but for a movie? A total fanboy-fanservice movie..... but you can't deny what a DAMN cool idea it is.


Socom: Fireteam Bravo

I've been playing Socom: Fireteam Bravo for PSP over the last week or so, anything to try to wash the bad taste of Patapon out of my gaming mind.... actually I kept trying to go back to Patapon, and just getting frustrated over & over again, so I had to break the cycle I was locked into.

I bought Socom: Fireteam Bravo spring(?) 2008, "new" at EB games for something like $9.69! It was during their killer sales, where I picked up a bunch of Wii & PSP games for under $10.00... for that price, I can afford to take a chance on a game I'm iffy about.

Oddly enough, uploading the boxart for this post is the first time I've really taken a good look at the box cover for this game. I know I've looked at it, but I never really looked at it closely, because I didn't realise what a CHEESY image it was! Wow. What is that?? It's like he's going, "Lookee lookee thassa big missell!! Let's go git it!! YOOOOO JOOOOOOOOE!!!!" Seriously, that is some bad game box art.

But delve into the actual game, I have to say Socom: Fireteam Bravo is not bad. It's alright. I'm not a huge fan of military shooters; I prefer sci-fi shooters rather than just army guys. But if a game is a good game, it's a good game. A really good game can surpass its genre & reach out to me even if I'm not a big fan of that genre. The Syphon Filter games are great examples of that; also military shooters, but they are great games.

Unfortunately, because of the high quality standard set by Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror/Logan's Shadow, Socom: Fireteam Bravo pales in comparison. Like I said, it's not a bad game at all. But there's more to the SF games that are in this similar genre & it's hard to help but compare the 2 game franchises when Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror kinda stomps on it in terms of gameplay and graphics.

Socom: Fireteam Bravo is a 3rd person shooter, you have a AI controlled buddy who "helps" you with missions. The missions usually consist of eliminating terrorist, securing intel, and/or rescuing/escorting hostages. This game came out the first year that the PSP was released (in North America), 2005. There are a few PSP launch titles that still stand the test of time, even today their graphics & gameplay are so good-- like Wipeout Pure & Ridge Racer. Unfortunately, while Socom: Fireteam Bravo must've been impressive back in 2005, is less so today. It doesn't look awful, but it also doesn't look that great. I have a demo for Socom: Fireteam Bravo 2 on my PSP, I loaded that up to play and it looks a LOT better than the first game. If one had a choice between Socom: Fireteam Bravo 1 or Socom: Fireteam Bravo 2, they were the same price, I'd totally recommend getting 2. I haven't played it beyond the demo, but it looks like a vast improvement in the overall polish while staying with the same core gameplay.

Beyond the graphics, it's a fairly standard shooter. Because there's no 2nd analogue nub on the PSP, moving & aiming can be cumbersome. The default control is the same as Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron: analogue nub = move, R button for strafe, L button to lock on target. I prefer putting it into freelook mode where the analogue nub controls the camera, hold down R button to move. But with that you can't really look and move at the same time. So it's a bit clunky.

Socom: Fireteam Bravo "crosstalks" with Socom 3 for the PS2. What this is is you can collect bonus info, like pick up plans for side missions that can be unlocked in Socom 3 when you hook your PSP up to your PS2, and vice-versa. This is one of the rare games that has PSP/PS2 interactivity, and it sounds pretty cool. Obviously I don't own a PS2 or Socom 3, but when you complete this crosstalk stuff, you'll get more info for upcoming missions. I noticed there were missions in Socom: Fireteam Bravo where I didn't have any map intel, and I'm guessing that if I had completed some crosstalk bonuses in Socom 3, I'd have had that extra intel for the PSP game. But it isn't necessary, and it doesn't make you feel like the game is less complete for not having the other game. It seems like a good feature that I wish more game series employed.

But then again, the only way such a feature would be useful to me is if it allowed my PSP to crosstalk with my Wii or Xbox. Like that's ever gonna happen. :::sad:::

Yeah, Socom: Fireteam Bravo is not bad. Totally worth the under $10.00 I paid. Though if I had a choice, I would've gone with Socom: Fireteam Bravo 2. If you're a core or casual military shooter fan with a PSP, it's worth picking up.

Gamespot gameplay video:


Monday, December 8, 2008

Patapon sucks

Looking over games that were sitting on my shelf, I noticed Patapon up there. It had been a long time since I played it, so I thought I would try to get back into it. But now I know why it was sitting on my shelf for so long.

Patapon is a really brilliant looking/sounding game, with an innovative gameplay mechanic-- it's both a rhythm and a real-time-strategy game. All that gets RUINED by the demand of the game for absolute machine-like precision in tapping out the drum beats.

You control these little black eyeball soldiers called Patapons, by beating drum commands in a series of 4 drum beats. To command the army to move, you beat the pata drum, [] button, and the pon drum, o button. So move is [], [], [], o. Attack is o, [], [], o. Unlike most rhythm games, there's no symbols flying down the screen telling you what to press & when to press them; you issue whatever commands you have unlocked, and it's up to you to stay on the beat.

The RTS factor comes in when you're fighting enemies, you have to plan what set of beats you're going to follow up with depending on what they're doing. If they're about to attack, you want to be sure to tap out a defend command to anticipate it. This gametrailers footage shows how your drum beats show up on screen after you tap them:

Where the game falls apart is that it's REALLY, REALLY hard to "stay on the beat", according to the games strict parameters. You could be tapping along, counting time, and suddenly it decides you messed up. You often need to tap a certain number of combos to get a FEVER mode, but it's nearly impossible to keep that up. So what happens is you fail missions over & over, until you can master the machine-like precision needed to have a chance to pass it. But then add to that you need to have planned your battle carefully, attacking & defending at the right places. One missed command can cost the entire mission, and you'll have wasted the last 10 minutes of your life. Those last 10 minutes where you had to get EVERY set of 4 beats right. Sounds like fun, doesn't it.

Patapon should be one of the shining jewels of the PSP library, it's one of the most innovative games to have come out in 2008. Instead, I feel ashamed of it, even though I had nothing to do with its creation. I feel ashamed because it's such a beautiful looking and sounding game, and the core mechanics are sound. But because it's so rigidly anal, it sucks all the fun right out of it. People who are interested in the top games of the PSP library will be told to look at Patapon, but it's so flawed it's an embarrassment. I feel like they're getting suckered if they're told it's a "must buy".


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Long cold winter for games

I can't deny it, this 2008 holiday season is pretty bad if you own a DS, Wii, and especially PSP. Basically all my systems.

The PSP new games drought is somewhat understandable; honestly the system is dying... there are going to be fewer & fewer new games coming out for it. Blame Sony's mismanagement. But there is at least 1 game that came out in Europe & Japan that I *really* want: Loco Roco 2. There's no word on when/if it'll come to North America. If they could publish it in those regions for the holiday 2008 season, *why* wouldn't they publish it here and, you know, capitalise on Xmas sales??? Logic & Sony are 2 things that just don't go together.

But the PSP situation doesn't explain: why is there almost as much a shortage of DS and Wii games, 2 of the top selling consoles??? Especially Wii! You'd think there'd be some strategically-placed, must-have KILLER APP games scheduled for Xmas. But NO. Nothing.

I'm not sure if Nintendo is just counting on selling more copies of already-released product such as Wii Fit (which they will sell tons of) or what. I have to admit, I already have Wii Fit, I've been meaning to post about it, I'll try to do that sometime....

For the DS, I really want to get Kirby Super Star Ultra, I played that recently & it seemed pretty fun.

In a way, a shortage of new release games is good & bad. Maybe not so much good, exactly, more like I can live with it... I bought a lot of games recently mostly because they were cheap, and I've been meaning to cut back for awhile. I still have a backlog of games I haven't even tried yet. I'm thinking that my Xmas is going to be about diving into some of that stash, hopefully it'll be fun. And I'm really trying to make the majority of my games purchases only at discounted prices. Under $20.00 is a sweet spot. $10.00 is usually a deal-maker for me. So there are lots of titles I'm waiting for, hoping they'll reach the sweet spot. Unfortunately, it means I can't buy a lot of games new. So hoping for new games is a bit of a moot point.

But Xmas is the one time of the year where unabashed materialism reigns-- it's all about the shiny shiny & new-- oh sure, there's all that Peace on Earth, and Good Will towards Men crap, but we all know it's all about the stuff. It's depressing that there aren't any killer-app games around this holiday season to look forward to.


Star Wars Lethal Alliance PSP

I just finished off playing through Star Wars Lethal Alliance, a PSP & DS exclusive game (obviously I played the PSP version)... I had this game for quite awhile. I originally played halfway through, got stuck at the Rancor boss battle, and put the game away forgetting about it until the last few days when I've been playing it on & off.

You play as a new character in the Star Wars universe, Rianna Saren. SHE'S NOT A JEDI. *Ahem* if you can get over that, she has blasters, and a floating-orb droid buddy named Zeeo. He's actually pretty cool-- together they can pull off acrobatic moves; she flips over him & such-- not to mention he slices (hacks) into computer systems while Rianna defends him.

The game is basically a platform/shooter, with some puzzle work, punctuated by a few turret defense missions.

I wouldn't say this game is terrible, but it's not really remarkable either. It uses the Unreal engine, and while there's nothing outright broken about it, overall it's a bit clunky. The targeting is the worst part, you use the shoulder buttons to select/switch between targets, whether those are enemies to shoot, or data ports for Zeeo to slice. The problem with this is that it never seems to target the enemies you NEED it to target, i.e. the closest enemies to you. One of Rianna's weapons is "the Thorn of Ryloth" which is a glowing dagger thing that is NOT A LIGHTSABER. It activates whenever an enemy is in close range, and is good because sometimes it can do 1 shot kills, and it doesn't have limited ammo like the guns do. But because the targeting system never seems to target the closest enemy to you (even though it says it does in the instructions) often you'll have an enemy right beside you, the Thorn of Ryloth is on, but the target is on some faraway enemy that might even be behind some crates or something. So you have to do some fancy retargeting which really becomes a pain.

There are action combos that sometimes don't seem to work even though I know I'm pressing the buttons. So overall there's a sluggishness to the game, while it doesn't make it unplayable, it could have been better.

Star Wars Lethal Alliance is not a terrible game, nor is it a super memorable game. It reminds me of mediocre linear adventure games on PS2 or Xbox. There's no real open world feel to it; you have to perform the platforming exactly as they want you to. I'm a huge Star Wars fan, and I have to admit, Rianna is super sexy, and I love the chemistry between her & Zeeo. The game has many really short levels, which is good and bad-- you go through 1 room and it considers that a level, so it asks you to save. It's good for a portable game because you may not have a lot of time on the go, so you can do a quick level & put it away for when you have another spare 5-10 mins. But it can be annoying always being asked to save that frequently. Overall the game is fairly short, 4, maybe 5 hours....

Just feels like the game was polished just enough to be considered functional, but not nearly enough to make it something special.

Star Wars Lethal Alliance trailer:


Friday, December 5, 2008

Die Videogame industry, Die! Part 2 - Videogame advertising

Part 2 of a 10 part series about why I want the video game industry to implode, causing massive layoffs & putting most devs out of business so that the industry can come back much better than it currently is.

I was going to put the sum of this post into my previous one about the Canada Plays PSP ad, but I thought I should keep each one of these Die Videogame industry, Die! posts separate. But the gist of what I said then, that video game advertising largely SUCKS, still stands. Mostly the tv ads, which must be the most costly ones for them.

Seriously, what is the MATTER with these companies (especially Sony)... Sony has a PS3 ad on tv, and it's awful. The one with the images being projected onto the sides of buildings.... it doesn't even show the PS3. Nothing about it makes me interested in a PS3, nor do I learn anything about PS3 games. It's just supposed to be "cool" imagery in and of itself I suppose....

When was the last time you saw a videogame commercial where the majority of that ad showed ACTUAL GAMEPLAY? Only the stuff that you SPEND 99% of the time seeing when you play said game? Most game ads show junk that has little/nothing to do with the game.

Think of how much money it costs to make and run these ads on tv, and how much of a waste it is. Yes, it's Microsoft/Nintendo/Sony's money, but it was OUR money before we gave it to THEM to waste on this crap rather than them putting it towards creating new IP (intellectual property, new game ideas basically)

That's just another reason why the videogame industry needs to die & be reborn, because if companies suddenly find they don't have all these big bucks to waste on useless ads that don't tell us anything, maybe they will learn to focus on the things that ACTUALLY matter in the videogame industry: making fun, compelling games.


Canada Plays PSP ad

Sony's started a new round of PSP ads, focusing on various U.S. cities; Chicago Plays PSP, L.A. Plays PSP, etc.

I've been seeing a Canadian one for the last week or so, instead of a city, it's the whole country....

In my opinion it stays pretty true to Sony's cluelessness about how to advertise their products. Basically the commercial is nothing more than dots of Canadian cities places on a map. Very generic. And the music... not my thing. To me it sounds vaguely Chinese in that bad, shrill kind-of-way. Being Chinese-Canadian, I can say that without being a racist, hehe.

But there have been a lot of people wondering who does that song & what it's called, so.... it's called Sleepyhead by Passion Pit. Their video is also on YouTube, I came across it while looking for the PSP ad.

Sony has some of the worst ads of any entertainment/video game company I've ever seen. But *ALL* 3 companies have TERRIBLE ads.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Odd PSP startup glitch

The weirdest glitch happened this morning when I started up my PSP Slim. Normally, when you turn it on, it does the music with the Sony logo, then goes right to the XMB with the wave background... I have mine set so as not to auto-start the UMD if there's one in there.

The music tone with the Sony logo came on, but then it went to a blank screen with only the wave background, no XMB icons! And the little corner circle that shows when it's loading something was running, but the UMD wasn't going, I could hear that it wasn't spinning. It just stayed like that, so eventually I held up the power switch for a long time, and the PSP did a "hard" turn off. I restarted it and it started up normally again.

In the 2+ years I've had PSPs, I don't think I've ever had that kind of error happen before. It's really strange.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Die Videogame industry, Die! Part 1 - MarioKart Wii

Part 1 of a 10 part series about why I want the video game industry to implode, causing massive layoffs & putting most devs out of business so that the industry can come back much better than it currently is.

I've been playing Mario Kart Wii for awhile, and I have to say.... it's one of the most overrated games ever. There are things to like about the game, but there are so many things about it that makes it crap.

It's so incredibly cheap. How fun is it to randomly be knocked from 1st to 12th right at the end of a race, when there is nothing you can do about it? It takes the choice away from the player & leaves it up to just dumb luck.

The number of races is obscenely small. There's supposedly "32 stages". What it REALLY is is there are 8 Grand Prix races, each consisting of 4 races. Same diff, right? Wrong. Those 4 races can only be raced in a Grand Prix, so once you pick one, not only do you have to race all 4, but in that order. So in reality it feels more like only 8 actual races are available to choose from. 8 races? In any other racing game, who'd think that was enough variety?

Checking out the reviews for it, overall it gets glowing ratings. But if you actually read most of the reviews, they basically go like this: "Mario Kart Wii is one of the best racing games ever because... because I've loved the Mario Kart franchise since [insert whatever old Nintendo system here] that's why!!" What does any past Mario Kart game have to do with THIS one, that's no way to judge this game, it should be evaluated on its own merits alone.

This comes to the crux of why the video game industry, as it is, needs to basically die off: There's so many mediocre/crap games where the developers/publishers rely on past franchise success, and they sleepwalk their way through each iteration of the franchise. Mario Kart Wii is such a conservative game. It's the first Mario Kart game I've played, but has it changed/added ANYTHING of note since past versions? I doubt it-- it doesn't take the slightest bit of risk with the formula.

There are some advantages to that; the core gameplay is what people enjoy, so why mess with it.... except sequel games should improve on past versions. And the Wii wheel control seems fairly well tweaked, they must've spent a lot of time working on making it a smooth experience.

Mario Kart Wii should be an experience that a new gamer can come into, without having to rely on nostalgia for past versions, and enjoy the current game as is, on its own. But the price they charge for it compared to the content makes it a rip-off. Nintendo first party games hardly ever drop in price, even years after they first come out. Add to that the idiot reviewers & so-called "hardcore gamers" that allow companies to coast their way through latest versions of franchise games because they're too busy tripping over themselves remembering their nostalgic childhood/adolescence experience to do their jobs.


PSP - Matthew Good Live at Massey Hall

So I picked up Matthew Good Live at Massey Hall today at Wal-Mart. I was surprised it was there, and that it was a lot cheaper than what I thought was the cheapest price at Future Shop-- $15.00 for the 2 CD set. Comparted to $17.00 at HMV. But at Wal-Mart it was less than $13.00! Nice! If Future Shop hadn't been out of stock, I'd have missed out on some (admittedly, small) savings. Still, savings is savings, y'know?

As soon as I had a chance, I finally got home & ripped the 2 CDs into mp3 format to put on my PSP and Sandisk Sansa E280 8GB mp3 player. What I really like about listening to music on my PSP is that it's nearly gapless playback, which is usually important for live albums, and usually VERY important for Pink Floyd albums. There is a SLIGHT gap, but normally it's so small as to be unnoticible by me unless I'm looking for it. My E280, while it's a more dedicated music player, put a lot more of a gap between songs. It actually wrecks listening to Floyd songs, which is a real downer.

As I was transferring the files to my PSP, I was thinking, the last few CDs I bought (I don't buy very much music because there are few albums I consider worth it) I actually haven't listened to them as CDs... that is, popped the CD in a CD player & listened to them that way. It's weird, but it's just so convenient to listen to them as mp3 files. So why do I buy CDs at all? Because I know that my CDs won't just stop working one day out of the blue for no reason at all. DRM files that have no physical copies only work at the whim of the "license holder", like Sony DRM games I paid REAL money for that one day decided to stop working on my PSP. Buying non-physical download-only content from incompetent sellers like Sony or iTunes is just like burning your money in the fireplace. It's only a matter of time, but you WILL be burned by them screwing up & not working.

PSP volume is one of the biggest drawbacks for it as a music player, like many Sony players, it's not very loud. The sound quality is pretty good though. There are other problems with PSP music features, like lack of on-the-go playlist. And it's big & bulky. Honestly I use my E280 a lot more when I'm out. But add the other media functions to the picture, and the PSP is still a great all-in-one device.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Atari Classics Evolved

I haven't been playing too many games lately, but the other day I picked up my old copy of Atari Classics Evolved & popped that into my PSP for some quick pick up & play sessions.

It is a compilation of some of the Atari arcade games: Missile Command, Asteroids, Asteroids Deluxe, Centipede, Millipede, Pong, Super Breakout, Lunar Lander, Tempest, Warlords. There are unlockable Atari 2600 games too.


+The classic games are well reproduced, some games like Centipede/Millipede & Tempest play with the PSP tilted sideways to take advantage of the wide screen.

+The Evolved versions are really nice modernizations of the Classics.

+Unlockable Atari 2600 games (50?!)


-All the games are STUPID STUPID HARD. (Evolved versions are a little easier.)

-Pong, Super Breakout are just plain broken.

-You have to unlock *ALL* the awards to be able to unlock the Atari 2600 games. It's nearly impossible to unlock them all. It should've been a series of unlockables.

-Load times are 15 seconds, which is longer than it should be for what this is.

As said, this is a great pick up & play collection. Each game is so freakin' hard, though, that it's usually a series of play, die in 3 mins, restart, repeat.... but if you can live with that, and don't want to play a campaign that takes hours to accomplish to a point where you can take a break, then this game is for you. The loading times are a bit long though, if you're switching from game to game. If you replay the same game, it starts up quickly enough.

The Classic games are still in the squarish 4:3 tv screen format, so there is "empty space" filled up by some design junk at the sides of the PSP screen. This is unfortunate because it's a small playing field as it is-- remember, these games were originally played on huge arcade cabinets-- so it would've been nice if they could've used the screen real estate more efficiently... but I guess it's better than stretching it....

The Evolved versions of the games are generally really good. They mostly use the widescreen format of the PSP screen, which is great.

Overall, this is a minigame collection that appeals to people (like me) who are nostalgic for these old Atari "quarter-eaters". It's not an essential addition to the average gamer's library, but if you're into it, and see it at a good price (MSRP was $20.00, so even that's a pretty good price.) it's worth picking up.

Atari Classics Evolved Gamespot trailer:


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Firefox 3 update

So the other day, my Firefox 3 updated.... added a bunch of security improvements... probably a couple weeks too late as I was infected with more viruses recently. My comp looks clean, but......

One thing I noticed with this latest update is after it's done, they load up a page talking about how Firefox is really reliable security-wise... I can't remember the URL, but it also displayed a graph showing in 2006 that Firefox had much less vulnerabilites than IE.

Yeah. That's great. I wouldn't be surprised if that was true.... IN 2006. But Firefox 3 just seems really flawed. They made so many changes to it, that I wonder if they didn't leave HUGE holes in it, otherwise, why this new page trying to reassure us that it's "all good"? there could be the threat of Google's browser, Chrome, but I think that's still in Beta form. I've been trying to find out if Firefox 3 is really flawed, but I haven't found much other than news reports from back in June, probably when it was first released. I wonder if many others have found their infection rate skyrocketing....


Thursday, October 30, 2008

IGN: Sony PSP-3000 Review

I read this the other day, but it promptly got buried in the IGN site, so it's nearly impossible to find it now... gotta love how sites like IGN are so focused on crashing your browser with overloaded flash ads that they forget about the actual CONTENT that people come to their site for...

Anyway, IGN did a review of the PSP-3000.... it's pretty much in line with the many other complaints about the interlacing issue with the new screen. There are some nice pics there-- and no, they don't show the problem... well, maybe THIS ONE does-- but they do bring up an issue with "yellowing" of white details on the new screen compared to the PSP-2000.

I'm surprised (well, not really, this is IGN after all) that they didn't mention the iPod Touch screen, as that also had more "yellowing" than previous models (iPhone). Even the black & red "Brain Age 2" version of the Nintendo DS Lite apparently had more yellowing than previous DS lite screens. this bugged a lot of people... it's the model I have, but maybe because it's my first DS, I don't have too many problems with it. I can't really compare it to previous models though.

IGN: Sony PSP-3000 Review


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron

Ok, Star Wars Battlefront I & II are my ALL-TIME FAVOURITE GAMES. So I'm pretty biased when it comes to the Star Wars Battlefront franchise. When I heard that LucasArts was making a Star Wars Battlefront game specifically for the PSP, my favourite console... needless to say, I was ecstatic.

Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron is a PSP-exclusive game developed by Rebellion Studios, not Pandemic Studios who developed SWBF I & II. This made me pretty nervous. But after playing the game, my fears were put to rest. Renegade Squadron is a worthy & faithful addition to the Star Wars Battlefront franchise, even if it doesn't offer too much different in way of core gameplay (All 3 games have fairly minor differences/improvements between them)


+Core Star Wars Battlefront gameplay is preserved.

+Game was made from the ground up for the PSP system and plays great on it.
Improvement on PSP port of Star Wars Battlefront II.

+Tweaked the character class aspect of the franchise, making it more customizable.

+Single player campaign, Galactic Conquest, & Instant Action modes... plus Ad-Hoc *AND* infrastructure play.


-Doesn't advance or change the overall Star Wars Battlefront gameplay very much.

-Graphics have never been a strong suit for the franchise.

-AI is a bit easy.

If you've never played a Star Wars Battlefront game, it's a 3rd person shooter set in the Star Wars universe. Some may be frustrated by the amount of dying you do, but you have to look at it this way: It's not like a traditional FPS or linear game where you are trying not to die at all.... it's more like you're playing as an entire army, one soldier at a time. You gotta go through a few to get the job done.

The game has 2 sides fighting on a map, with command posts for each side. You need to stand close to an enemy's command post for a certain amount of time to take it over, then it becomes your sides command post. These CPs are where soldiers spawn from, so it can be tough sometimes to take one over if enemies are spawning from it. As more CPs are taken over by one side, the opposing force loses reinforcements; they have less troops they can spawn... and the battle's over if one side has no troops or CPs left.

Traditionally Star Wars Battlefront has had about 4-5 soldier classes you can choose from. Each has their own strengths & weaknesses... let's say there's a soldier that has a jetpack. They might have a weak weapon to balance the game out. You choose one and get on out there. When you die, you can choose the same one, or a different class. Repeat.

What Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron does to tweak that feature is instead of having set soldier classes, they changed it to a set amount of (100) points. All weapons & upgrades cost certain amounts. As long as your total is 100 points, you can get whatever you want. So say you wanted a jet pack, you might have options to get a better weapon than in previous games. Or you could make your soldier really fast/strong with a lesser weapon. The expanded options are a bit daunting at first, but once you get into it it gets more comfortable to understand.

I was afraid this new system would really unbalance the game, but for the most part it's handled fairly well.

Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron improves on the PSP port of Star Wars Battlefront II by making everything a little smoother. Loading times are shorter, space combat is better, and you can go inside ships (not just the hanger like in the PSP port of Star Wars Battlefront II...)

There are 2 different control schemes, the default can lock targeting on an enemy, moving the camera on them:

and the alternate (in my opinion the best FPS controls for the PSP short of a 2nd analogue nub): analogue nub = move, face buttons = look. As long as you like these modes, the game controls very well.

What I really love about Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron (and all the SWBFs) is that they are pick up & play; if you want to just fight out 1 battlefront, you can do that. If you want to fight a bunch, you can do that too. It can last as long as you want. That's why they are my most played games, even a year after getting it.

Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron IGN gameplay footage:



So I got a notice that MSN was closing its Groups section... big surprise, yeah right..... and it was pawning off its Groups members to some other site called Multiply. Multiply seems to be some sort of Facebook-wannabe "Social Networking site"... I dunno.

What's really annoying is I re-joined the former MSN Groups that have migrated to Multiply, and I *specifically* set my email preferences to *not* get email from EVERY SINGLE LITTLE MESSAGE posted in these Groups. So of course GUESS what's happening.

Not only am I get EVERY BLOODY MESSAGE sent to my email, it's sending the SAME message MANY MANY times. So whoever's posting is probably not even posting that much, but when I get that same bloody message 10-15 times... gah, it's annoying.

I've checked my settings over a few times, I thought maybe it takes a day for them to kick in... but I'm still getting this crap... and none of that explains why there's so many repeats of the same email message anyway. Multiply seems like a PURE CRAP site. Seriously, how hard is it to make an email mailing list that doesn't go crazy & spam its members? I can understand these things happening once in a while, but this has been going on for a few days, and Multiply seems to think this is normal & acceptable behaviour.

I'm going to give it a few more days, and see if Multiply can stop SUCKING so much. I doubt it can. Avoid Multiply, they seem like a shitty site.

I may just import this post onto my Multiply site... but if this is how they are normally, I don't want to support them in any way, not even if it's slagging them.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Useless crap that I have a crush on - Sony Rolly

I saw something that reminded me of the Sony® Rolly I read about last year, when I was heavily researching mp3 players.

Sony® Rolly:

It's stupid, useless.... but I really like it. ...

[EDIT]:Just looked to see if it was available in Canada, and came across the Sony store listing it for $400.00....$400.00?!? GO FUCK YOURSELF SONY. I think I'm over it now.....


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Monkeys and the Atom Bomb

This is a rant about Sony.

I've developed a phrase to describe what happens when good technology gets ruined by incapable owners of that hardware. Not consumers, but the very companies that the tech may've spawned from. I call this situation Monkey and the Atom Bomb.

The basic idea is, what if mankind destroys itself, but leaves behind some of its greatest tech creations, one of them being the atomic bomb. Left behind are monkeys, who have no idea what it is or how to use it. They poke & prod at it until *boom!* So what does this have to do with Sony? I'm getting there.

We've seen Monkey and the Atom Bomb throughout history. 2000 years ago, the Roman Empire was stationed in what we now know as England. They built buildings that had furnaces and indoor plumbing. Eventually the Roman Empire left, leaving those buildings behind. But the Britons at the time were basically mud-eating peasants who had NO understanding of furnaces or indoor plumbing. They took apart the stone bricks of the buildings to make shacks & lean-tos! There's only a few remnants of the Roman technology in historical sites, but it's also a bit of a reminder how DUMB the ancient Brits were. Oh well. Monkey and the Atom Bomb.

Fast forward to the ancient times of 1998. Yahoo! dedicates a part of its site to online message forums, called Yahoo! Clubs. It works pretty well for the most part, until Yahoo! lays off a bunch of its programmers. Then in 2001 or so, it buys an emailing list service called eGroups, and eventually tries to merge it with Yahoo! Clubs. But the people who made the Yahoo! Clubs have either been fired or downsized, and whoever is left has NO IDEA how Yahoo! Clubs worked, so they end up breaking a lot of it to cram eGroups into it, making it the mess that is Yahoo! Groups. Yahoo! couldn't understand what they created, and broke it trying to figure out what it was. Monkey and the Atom Bomb.

So this is where Sony comes in. Go back to that long forgotten year of 2005, and Sony unleashes the PlayStation Portable, the PSP. This device is fairly cutting edge; on the surface it is a portable games machine more powerful than any portable console before it. But it's also a fairly robust media player, handling music & video playback, as well as photo viewing. It's a really advanced piece of kit, and lives up to the standards of the best Sony products, like the Walkman, their CD players, etc.

Firmware updates add functionality to the PSP; web browser, limited flash suport. But they also inadvertantly *ROB* the PSP of key functionality. Firmware 2.80 made music playback after sleep mode garbled, I had that problem back in 2006. It was eventually fixed by firmware 3.00.

Now there are huge problems with the new & "improved" screen-- interlacing issues with the PSP-3000. Owners of the new PSP 3000 are reporting that the screen quality is so bad that it's interfering with gameplay & video:

Firmware 5.00 again seems to wreck functionality that the PSP needs, the sleep timer has been added to music playback, but it doesn't allow the PSP to go to sleep mode when the music is paused for a certain amount of time.
Completely ridiculous that as a way to combat homebrew & piracy, Sony forces users to update to the latest firmware; to play a game you must have at least the level of firmware on the game disc or it won't run.

What happened to the original PSP design team, Sony? Are they all gone/shuffled to different wings of your empire? Whoever's in charge of it now clearly doesn't know what they're doing, they don't *GET* the PSP. And they're breaking things in their ignorance. Not only are they coming out with new PSP hardware revisions every year, but each one is a cheaper build quality than the previous. A classic, and sad case of Monkey and the Atom Bomb.

Sony created this miracle device called the PSP, but they don't even understand it anymore. That's part of the reason why I hate them... but I still love the PSP.


Need For Speed Carbon Wii, Metroid Prime Hunters

Bought a couple of discount games from The Source(@Circuit City).... Need for Speed Carbon (Wii) and Metroid Prime Hunters (DS)... each $15.00.

Pretty good deal, they were clearance priced, I found them by hunting through their website & looking up to see if any stores in my town had the games I wanted in stock. I'd been somewhat interested in Need For Speed Carbon as it's one of the few car games on Wii. But I was a bit iffy on the controls, I expected it wouldn't control great.

Been playing it tonight.... I *really* want to like this game, and nope, not thrilled with the controls. Steering is done by flipping the Wiimote sideways, which is how I think driving games should work on the Wii. But the handling is very loose & sloppy; it works ok for normal turns, but terrible for sharper ones. I've been trying it with the Wii wheel I got from MarioKart Wii, but it handles better without it, which is a real shame. Even without the wheel, the handling still really sucks. I've been trying the same races over & over thinking I'll eventually get the feel for the controls, but I haven't gotten any closer to getting it. I'm just bouncing back & forth from wall to wall; once you bounce off a wall, it's near-impossible to recover & get back on course again. I get the feeling that EA budgeted a set amount of time to tweak the controls; once that time was up the game was out the door no matter what. That's what it feels like to me, and it's a very frustrating thought.

I haven't tried Metroid Prime Hunters yet. After a lot of playing Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (I only paid $10.00 for it "new" at EB games!) I found the Metroid Prime FPS experience to be interesting, but tiresome. The thing about Metroid Prime is that it's not a FPS exactly, it just looks like one on the surface. Beyond the basic "shoot at the enemies down the corridors & rooms" there's a lot of backtracking, scanning & puzzle work. Every boss is a series of puzzles to be figured out; the only way to defeat them. What bothers me the most about Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is how it takes a billion shots to defeat EVERY enemy, even if they are a lowly minion or basic grunt type. It's a very tedious experience. It gives me the feeling like my weapons are always underpowered... there's constant power ups, and instead of making me feel like I've achieved greater power when I find them, I feel like I'm always a step behind the next level of power I need.

So why did I buy Metroid Prime Hunters? It was cheap. And I expect high production values, judging by MP3:C. I'm hoping that my mind will be changed with Hunters... I dunno....


Saturday, October 18, 2008

cost of games per hour

Lately I've been thinking about the cost of games..... specifically, how much they cost versus how many hours of gameplay they give. I was thinking about breaking down how much the games cost me per hour... how much gameplay should one reasonably expect to get from a videogame?

Games in arcades used to cost 25¢. Which would probably last a few minutes. But they are different from home console games.... the structure of arcade "quarter eaters" is meant to seduce you & take your money quickly. There aren't very long cut scenes & the gameplay is immediate. I never played arcade games that much, but I had friends who'd shell out about $20.00 per 2 hours spent in an arcade. How does that compare to videogames nowadays, that you pay $50.00+ for & take home & play?

I've been thinking a lot about my videogame spending, and I've tried to keep it to a pattern of buying mostly games that are sale-priced, heavily discounted, and a few that are full price. Most of my purchases over 2008 have been heavy-discount sales; thanks to that one EB Games sale this last spring that had a bunch of Wii/PSP games for about $10.00. I bought a lot of stuff that I was interested in, but not necessarily something I just *had* to have (a few were though) So this formula has been a bit skewed because of the low prices of these lucky sales grabs.

But there are a few games I paid full or almost full price for recently, notably The Force Unleashed for Wii. $50.00 for that, plus tax, making it about $57.00.... and how many hours did I get out of that? I'd say about 6-8 hours for the first run-through of the campaign. That does seem short, but you need to go through the game 2x to get the second ending (well, you don't really HAVE to, I saved just before the final level so I could actually just load & play that one level & choose the 2nd ending if I wanted) so there is some replay value in the game, though I have to admit, it's a fairly repetitive brawler so playing it again is not as exciting as the first run.

Based on one play-through of campaign - I paid $ 7.13 per hour of game. It's going down, because I am replaying it again in short bursts.

Compared to one of the sale games I got, Star Trek: Conquest for Wii, I paid $10.00 for that, and played at least 10 hours of it. So I paid about $1.00 per hour of game, probably less, maybe even 50¢ per hour. Pretty good value.

There are a few games I've put LOTS of hours into (not proud of that...) like Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron for PSP. I got it bundled with my PSP, but it was priced seperately at the time for $40.00. I would have paid it, no question. I don't know exactly how many hours I've played it, but easily 40 hours. $1.00 per hour, and dropping.... Star Wars Battlefront I, II & now Renegade Squadron are my all-time fave games. I just love to pick up & play them.

I would say in general, my target value is something like $5.00 per hour. I think that if a game reaches that, it's probably worth it.


Monday, October 6, 2008


Awhile ago I picked up Crush from EB Games "new" for $9.89... I couldn't believe the killer deal when I saw it; I'd been waiting for it to drop from the $40.00 MSRP it was first listed as.

What an awesome puzzle game this is, it's really one of the most innovative games out there.


+Very original take on going from 3D gameplay to 2D & back again.

+Puzzles are well-designed; challenging but not cheap.

+Nice art for cutscenes, there's a story which is unusual for puzzle games.

+Controls work well for the most part.


-Sometimes the camera zooms out way too far.

-40 levels isn't really a lot.

-Little replay value.

Crush was a game I'd followed during the early stages of its development, hoping it would live up to its hype, and it pretty much has. Basically, you have to make your way out of a level, getting to the exit point. You do this by moving the camera around, and "crushing" the world from 3D into 2D... say a ledge is really far away. You angle the camera so that it "looks" like it's touching your side of the ledge, and then you crush the world so it goes 2D & you can cross to the other side!

This Crush trailer shows a sample of the gameplay mechanic:

A big problem with puzzle platform games is often that the camera/controls interfere with the gameplay, having to fight the controls just to play properly is no fun. I think that Crush's controls are pretty nicely tweaked along with the platforming, there is still a few frustrating platforming moments, but overall it's very nicely balanced. The puzzles learning curve starts off low & ramps up steadily, as it introduces new elements like dealing with giant bugs, tripping pressure switches & other obstacles. What's really nice is that there's no hard & fast time limit, except for certain clock traps that set off timers. Overall it's really about figuring out the puzzles.

40 levels may seem like a lot, but the gameplay is so good, it does leave you wanting more. And they do have modes where you can go back & best your previous time, but there isn't much replay value once you've figured out all the levels.

There's a storyline to the game, which is unusual for puzzle games. Your character is going to a therapist to deal with his anxieties, and each level-- the puzzle-- is a part of the character's mind, and he's collecting marbles to unlock the exit & gather up his memories. The cutscenes are shown in static comic book style drawings that are really nice & stylish, there's full voice work, though the voice acting of the main character isn't so hot.

I'd say Crush is one of the best PSP games available, especially if you're into puzzle games.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Toys R' Us sale - Red Steel, Wii Zapper

I heard about a Toys R' Us sale so yesterday I went down there & picked up a couple Wii things:

Red Steel - $9.97
Wii Zapper (w./Link's Crossbow Training) - $9.97

Ok, I also bought this little toy Wiimote thing that apparently flings out candies... I chucked the candy out, and the toy will hopefully serve as a DECOY for my 2-year-old niece. When she's over she'll play around with my real Wiimotes and drain the batteries-- not to mention get them all grimy & stuff. I haven't been able to find a broken Wiimote for sale cheap (or at all, strangely enough...) so I hope that this toy will suffice... it's a longshot, but worth a try....

The Wii Zapper is my 2nd one, for $10.00 it's worth having another one I figure... and I may just try to play both player 1 & 2 on Ghost Squad so I can have DUAL WIELDING.... that could be kinda cool. Or it could be totally stupid. We'll see.

But now I have a 2nd copy of Link's Crossbow Training, it's a really fun little mini-game shooter collection.... it's not what I would call a full game, but it's a terrific pack-in with the Zapper, to give people something to jump into right away. I don't need 2 copies of the game, I'll have to find a way to unload it, I guess....

Red Steel is a game I've been curious about since before buying my Wii last year. I've read a lot of bad/mediocre reviews, so I wasn't expecting much. I haven't gotten to the really frustrating parts yet, I think I'm just on the verge of one, but so far it's been fairly ok, even fun... for what it is. The devs tried to be too precise with the Wii motion controls, they should've allowed for much more forgivness. There's no map and it's really hard to make out the enemies from the background, I pretty much can't see them unless they're shooting, and I end up relying on seeing the muzzle flashes of their guns. Still, it is a fun, goofy game that so far is totally worth $10.00.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Nintendo DSi - R.I.P. GBA slot

This is the DS Lite model I have, the Crimson/Black DS Lite that came packaged with Brain Age 2. I got mine on the release day in August 2007 from Future Shop which also included a bonus case (it looks nice but doesn't protect the sides so I don't use it anymore) and a bonus game, umm... Monster Trucks or something? It's fun, but I wouldn't buy it on its own.

I'm really liking my DS Lite, the killer app that got me to buy it was Brain Age 2. It's still one of my most played DS games.

So sort of lost in the big announcement of the upcoming release of the DS Lite redesign, the DSi, is that the slot for Game Boy Advance cartridges is now gone. Historically, Nintendo has been very consistent with maintaining backwards compatibility with its systems, up to a point. Sure, with the GameCube switching over to disc-based media, it cut itself off from the previous Nintendo cardridge-based media consoles. And the Game Boy Micro can only play GBA carts, not original Game Boy or Game Boy Color carts.

DSi makes a big step in severing ties to the vast Game Boy Advance cartridge library. A lot of people might think, what's the big deal? New GBA games aren't being released anymore. And with their focus on downloadable content, it looks like Nintendo is going to make GBA games available to download & save on a DSi SD card. So what does it matter? Well..... aside from Nintendo making GBA fans rebuy the games they already own on carts..... there are still reasons why the GBA slot is important, even to the DS.

Even though I own 2 Game Boy Micros, the GBA slot on my DS Lite is still important to me.

The big draw of the DSi for me is the media functions. But really, I *ALREADY* have those media functions like music playback because I have a Play-Yan Micro. I got the Play-Yan Micro for my Game Boy Micro, but it works just fine in my DS Lite (like all GBA carts, it does stick out... in fact it sticks out even in the GBA Micro, so it sticks out EVEN MORE in the DS Lite) It's a pretty good music & video player, plays back content from an SD card. That's all it does, it's very basic but it's nice. There's a good review of the Play-Yan Micro here.

Although, right now my DS Lite's GBA slot is filled with an Ewin Rumble Pack I got from DealXtreme for like $4.20 or so... and shipping was free! It was so cheap, I just had to get it.

I only have 1 DS game that supports rumble, Star Trek: Tactical Assault. The list of rumble supported games seems pretty small. There is at least one other rumble DS game I want, Custom Robo Arena, I've heard reports of it being like $10.00 at Wal-Mart in the U.S.... here in Canada, I can only find it at EB Games for like $40.00! Waaaaay too much. I'm hoping I'll spot it in Wal-Mart or Zellers, places like that for really cheap.

In Japan, they released a paddle controller that plugs into the GBA slot, I heard it's great for games like Space Invaders Extreme & Arkanoid. And even though it doesn't interest me personally, Guitar Hero: On Tour, the DS game relies on a fret-button peripheral that plugs into the GBA slot. That game only came out a few months ago, I think they're even planning a sequel. How do you think Activision feels about the DSi? They're probably biting through wood right now....

Not to mention that playing GBA games on a DS is still pretty fun.


Nintendo announces the DSi

Wow! For the last.... while... us Nintendo fanboys have been anticipating/dreading/speculating that a new version of the DS was coming. There were even timelines stating how according to Nintendo's schedule, it was "about due"...

I guess they were right: Nintendo (in Japan) has announced a new DS: The DSi!

From DSfanboy:

  • Overall size has been reduced -- DSi is 12% or 2.6 millimeters slimmer than the Lite.

  • Comes with an external 0.3 Megapixel camera (for 640 x 480 pixel pictures) and a VGA camera located on the hinge, directed towards the user. You'll be able to edit pictures using the touchscreen.

  • Full music playback functionality, including adjustable pitch and playback speed.

  • Both screens have been expanded to 3.25 inches.

  • SD memory card slot is included, and there'll be on-board memory also.

  • Will ship with an built-in Nintendo DS web browser.

  • DSi will allow users to download games from DSWare, a new service that operates with Wii Points -- or, as they are now known, Nintendo Points.

  • Logging onto DSWare for the first time will grant users 1,000 free Nintendo Points.

  • DSWare comes in four pricing categories: free (!), 200 Nintendo Points, 500 Nintendo Points, and 800 Nintendo Points.

  • Will come in lovely matte white and matte black. Begone, foul fingerprints that have taunted us so!

  • And finally, it launches on November 1st in Japan, and will cost ¥18,900, or roughly $179.

[EDIT: Yikes, I just found this article from PC World about the DSi's stats. The most worrisome: NO MORE GBA SLOT! I didn't even notice that in the pics, since the slot is normally on the bottom of the DS Lite.]

2 cameras! 1 inside & 1 outside. Weird! Obviously the outside one is for taking pics and the inside one is for games or internet communication. There are *a few* DS games that use a camera, but they include a camera module that hooks into the DS Lite's GBA cartridge slot. I can't see all that many developers making camera-dependent games for this DSi, because that would alienate the DS Lite base, unless they included a camera attachment for the DS Lite (or if Nintendo made a seprate add on for sale)

And Nintendo has been overly paranoid about internet connectivity, so I wonder how robust any video/camera feature would be as far as webchat goes.

The screens are slightly bigger than the DS Lite:

Not a huge difference, but an improvement. Nice.

I think it's kind of freaky that the DSi speaker holes have changed to look EXACTLY like the PSPs:

[EDIT: More from the PC World article]:

Screen: The DSi screen is 3.25 inches diagonal width. That's bigger than the 3-inch panels on the DS Lite. Both are color TFT (thin-film transistor) LCDs (liquid crystal displays) with 260,000 pixels resolution.

Size: The DSi measures 137 millimeters by 74.9mm by 18.9mm making it a little longer, deeper and thinner than the DS Lite, which measures 133mm by 73.9mm by 21.5mm.

Weight: The DSi weighs in at 214 grams. That's a touch lighter than the 218-gram DS Lite but close enough that you're unlikely to notice.

Battery life: Depending on the screen brightness gamers can expect anywhere between 3 hours and 14 hours on the DSi versus 5 hours to 19 hours on the DS Lite.

Battery recharge time: Good news for gamers is that the DSi takes 2 hours and 30 minutes to recharge -- 30 minutes faster than the DS Lite.

Compatibility: The DSi can play software developed for the DS and DSi but lacks the compatibility for GameBoy Advance software that's present on the DS Lite. Any DSi-specific software won't play on the DS Lite.

Inputs: The DSi features a DS and SD Card slot. On the DS Lite you can find a DS Card slot and GameBoy Advance cartridge slot but no SD Card compatibility. Both have connectors for power and a stereo headphone and microphone.

This is just initial details, can't wait to find out more... but much like the PSP-3000 announcement, this doesn't look like a huge upgrade from the current DS Lite. The 2 units look nearly identical, aside from very small changes.

As someone who uses the media functions on my PSP as much--sometimes more-- than the games, I am really intrigued by the DSi's SD card slot and (not known at this time how much) onboard memory. They mentioned that the DSi will play back music files. I'v experienced Nintendo's music playback functions through my Play-Yan Micro, and the Wii's mp3 playback. It's flexible in that you can pretty much load mp3s in any folder you want, and the device will see it. But overall, it's basic; not as flexible as the PSP, and even THAT device isn't all that flexible an mp3 player compared to the more robust dedicated ones out there.

$180.00 price point... that seems pretty high, it's about equal/maybe a little higher than the price for the PSP. Especially considering the current DS Lite retails for $130.00 right now, but that could've been a planned clearance price to screw over new buyers get rid of old stock.

We'll really have to see how Nintendo handles all this added functionality. Honestly, I'm not expecting a lot... they have a "let's just throw it out there & see what sticks" type of mentality, as opposed to really thinking things through. I'm still in shock, not nearly as much as the PSP-3000, I was sort of expecting this... these upgrades seem nice, but right now, I'm not kicking myself for "only" having a DS Lite.

[EDIT: DSfanboy has posted an article with Nintendo America head Reggie Fils-Aime saying that "The DS Lite is on track to sell 22% more units than it did last year, says Reggie. Because of the incredible demand, we won't get the DSi until "well into calendar year 2009" ]


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Game Boy Micro: just checking

Today I fired up the ol' Game Boy Micro, just to make sure the battery hadn't completely died. I should play with it for a bit & charge it up (same with my DS Lite) since I haven't played them for a long time.....

Game Boy Micro has to be the most portable handheld console available. It's flexible in that it plays all GBA cartridges, as opposed to the "10 games in 1" type of consoles that are found in places like Wal-Mart that have no expandability with game selection. The screen is tiny, but so bright that it can be played outdoors (unlike the PSP... we'll have to see if the screen improvements for the PSP-3000 will really make it viewable outside during the day)

I really like the Game Boy Micro, it's so tiny & cute. The only thing I don't like about it is after playing it for awhile, it makes my PSP & DS Lite feel HUGE. And that is just so wrong.


Blog Archive