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Monday, March 30, 2009

Resistance, Tomb Raider Anniversary

Picked up a couple more PSP games today. One, I got a really good deal on, the other... meh deal....

Resistance: Retribution is on sale right now at Toys R' Us, $5.00 off-- $34.95... which isn't that much of a discount.... I'll probably kick myself if it goes on sale for $20.00 sometime in the future, but I've really been feeling the need for a new sci-fi shooter game right now. This week has been a stressful one for me, so as soon as I bought it I ripped off the shrinkwrapping & dug into it. I've played about 2 hours of it so far.

Resistance: Retribution is made by the same team that did the Syphon Filter PSP games. Even though I had reservations about Logan's Shadow, they still set the bar pretty high for PSP (or any system's) games. And the gameplay & controls are very familar to those who've played the Syphon Filter games. The gameplay is faster-paced than them though.... in Syphon Filter, you used cover a lot, and basically had to carefully aim your shots for best results. They're an entertaining mix between immediate action and tactical gameplay, whereas Resistance: Retribution is (so far) more heavily-weighted on the action over the tactics. Moving while strafing is handled using a new target area box that locks onto targets within it, taking most of the worry out of precise aiming without the benefit of a 2nd analogue nub. The sci-fi weapons are cool, though I'm finding some like the rocket launcher a bit unwieldy to use. One of my biggest initial gripes is that they haven't really fixed the crappy context-commands that were messed up in Logan's Shadow. You'd think they'd improve that, but it's like they don't even know they're bad: they flash up for about half a second while you stumble around trying to find the exact right place to stand AND face to get them to show up for longer than that.... annoying.

I've never played Resistance or Resistance 2 on PS3... I was expecting a bit of an intro to this world but it assumes that the player has already completed Resistance and just kind of throws us into it, which is disappointing. The story doesn't seem very strong either. But overall the game's been fun.

The other game I got today was Tomb Raider: Anniversary. I stopped in at The Source, wasn't expecting to find much as most of their games have been cleaned out. But Tomb Raider: Anniversary was there for $9.96! Score! At that price, I had to give it a shot. Haven't tried it yet.

So I guess it's still totally worth checking out The Source... also HMV has some killer PSP deals (varies by store)... lately I've been seeing Socom: Fireteam Bravo there for under $10.00! It's worth it if you're into military shooters.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Photofast CR-5400 with PSP memory stick door

So it's been a week or so since using the Photofast CR-5400 in my PSP. I haven't encountered any issues with it other than what I posted in my initial review.

But I have noticed that the memory stick door on my PSP-2001 doesn't close quite as tightly as it does with a regular memory stick:

Keep in mind this is a pretty extreme closeup. And it doesn't seem to affect the PSP or memory stick usage at all as far as I can tell.

It's just that I think the door is usually more flush with the side of the PSP like this:

I don't think there's too much to be concerned about except maybe dust getting in there? But even that seems like a small worry. Just kinda weird, I guess maybe the CR-5400 adapter might be a millimeter or so longer than a regular memory stick pro duo?


Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I've been playing Gunpey (PSP version) again the last few days.

So... a game that's named after the late creator of the Nintendo Game Boy finds its way onto the PSP.... Gunpey has an interesting pedigree.

Gunpey is one of those forgotten gems for the PSP. If you liked the puzzle game stylings of Lumines, Gunpey is somewhat similar to that. It was developed by Q? Entertainment, the same company that did Lumines.

I got Gunpey a couple years back, it was like $8.00 or something "new" at EB Games. I really didn't know what to expect, but for $8.00 it's worth a shot, eh? I was very pleasantly surprised.

The basic gameplay is that you have a grid with "sticks" on it, that's constantly moving up, so the sticks are coming from the bottom. If they get past the top, the game's over. To make the sticks disappear, you need to connect them so they form a line touching both sides of the grid. You have a 2 square cursor that allows you to move sticks up/down 1 square at a time.

The problem with the cursor is you can only move a stick 1 square at a time, so you're constantly moving and repositioning the cursor... I call it "inch-worming" the sticks down, if you know what I mean. It requires a frantic alternate tapping motion between D-pad and X or O button. This somewhat clunky control style makes the game pretty hard when the grid starts moving quickly.

It also wears out the X or O buttons. Man... I'm pretty sure I loosened up my square button on my PSP-1001 when I first played this game. And after an intense round of Gunpey the other night, I noticed my O button on my current PSP-2001 feels a bit looser... yikes. Maybe I gotta learn to not pound on the buttons or something.

The game itself is fairly basic, and there aren't that many game modes to it. Even the other modes aren't really all that different.... so there's not much to the game itself other than what I described. But what it has, it does really stylishly. I actually like the music/skins in Gunpey more than the ones in Lumines/Lumines II. And when the game ends, it gives you this sort of report card, with check boxes and hand-scribbled notes if you've made a high score or other notable unlockable. It's just a really nice looking little game.

It's hard and can be frustrating, but I find it pretty addictive. When I play I know I'm going to sink at least 30 minutes into it...... it just melts the time away.

I've seen Gunpey for under $10.00 occasionally, it's a steal of a price. If you can find it for under $20.00, I'd say it's worth it. Totally overlooked PSP gem.

YouTube video of Gunpey gameplay:


Monday, March 16, 2009

Photofast CR 5400 adapter + 32GB MicroSD

Yeah! My CR 5400 adapter finally came today!

Now with the two 16GB Kingston MicroSD cards I got a couple weeks ago, I have 32GB (29GB actual) of memory in my PSP. It's so sweet!

The adapter got loose somehow in the packaging and was sitting crooked. I was a little bit worried at first, but the bubble plastic wasn't sealed so it was easy to get into it. And it seemed fine.

I ordered the adapter from DealExtreme, it took about 2.5 weeks to get it.

The two MicroSD cards slip into the sides of the CR 5400 Adapter.

Care has to be taken when inserting them... you need to hold the adapter by the edges, not the flat part... the adapter is rigid, but it's very thin plastic since it has to hold 2 MicroSD cards in it. (and memory Stick Pro Duos aren't all that big to begin with) It sorta feels like cardboard.

But once in, the MicroSD cards seem to fit very snugly.

You can use either 1 or 2 MicroSD cards in the adapter, but if using 2 they must be formatted together I think.

VERY IMPORTANT: The MicroSD cards inside the adapter MUST be formatted on the PSP. DO NOT FORMAT USING A PC. Once they are formatted, they basically are seen as 1 big memory stick. You also probably don't want to be pulling out the MicroSD cards & switching them back & forth between PSP and other use.... as mentioned, the adapter is very thin, and unless you reformat the MicroSD, you might have problems with non-PSP devices. All data should be transferred to/from the PSP via the USB cable (or wi-fi). Do not use a PC card reader, even one that is memory stick pro duo compatible.

Comparing the adapter with the memory stick pro duo that was in my PSP.

In it goes....

As soon as I turned on my PSP, I got this message. I can't remember if I got that message when I used a new memory stick....

Formatting took about 5 seconds for me.

I formatted it using my 3.71 firmware PSP Slim, because I want the MP_ROOT folder since the VIDEO folder won't play my PSP Video 9 encoded AVC files for some reason. While I use the VIDEO folder, I also need the MP_ROOT folder.

The exact capacity is 29.8GB after formatting. It also says "MagicGate™ Unknown", but I've heard that downloaded content from the PlayStattion Store *can* be read using this MicroSD/Adapter setup. I don't have any PS Store content anymore, so I can't absolutely confirm it.

So far I haven't had any problems playing media content with the adapter. Game saves & game play seem to be fine as well. But there is some slowness when accessing menus on the XMB. Using firmware 5.03, normally it only takes 3-4 seconds to go into the VIDEO icon. But with the adapter, it takes about 6-10 seconds. It's like older firmware like 3.71, that was slow in accessing the VIDEO icon.

Also, when turning on from sleep mode, normally with my Sony 8GB memory stick pro duo it would take 1-2 seconds to show how much memory the stick had. Using the adapter with 32GB memory, it takes 5+ seconds to count up the memory.

Normally when the PSP is hooked up to the PC in USB Mode, after ejecting the device in WindowsXP, and pressing the O button on the PSP, it goes back into "regular" mode almost instantly. But this adapter setup, after pressing O, it takes 5+ seconds for the PSP to get back into the XMB.

None of this has affected how video, music, or pictures have been displayed, there's been no lag as far as I can tell with any of that. It might be the Kingston cards I'm using, they are Class 2 speed. Or it might be the whole "they aren't memory sticks" thing. Or it might be that the PSP firmware isn't exactly made to handle 32GB of storage. I'm not sure.

I've only had less than a day to play around with it, so this is a pretty early review. It's pretty darn sweet to load a ton of stuff onto this stick and it's like a drop in a bucket. I loaded what I thought was over 800MB of content onto the thing, and the 29GB displayed didn't seem to budge. I thought that maybe there was some malfunction, but no, it's just a frikkin huge amount of space. I am down to 25GB left right now, as I loaded some more movies onto it.

EDIT: I have noticed that the memory stick door on my PSP-2001 doesn't close quite as tightly as it does with a regular memory stick (SEE POST for more info)

UPDATE: Came across this Photofast site that has a page on how to spot fake adapters.

If the page is down, the same info can be found here.

I learned most of what I know about this adapter from BoneOfWorld's Playstation Forum thread where he reviewed it. It's a great resource for anyone looking into trying this out.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

It's 2009: Where's the PSP GPS?

I have this video interview of Sony suit John Koller on my PSP, from January 2008. He's talking about what was coming for the PSP in 2008. Among the games like God of War: Chains of Olympus & Final Fantasy: Crisis Core.... back then he was talking up the PSP media capabilities, like Skype. All that has come to pass: it has come out.

But about 3:37 into the video, he says "the GPS will launch in North America this year".... assuming "this year" being 2008... it's now March 2009, over a year later.

Where the hell is the PSP GPS for North America????

In Koller's latest interviews, he doesn't mention the GPS or any PSP peripherals at all. I *get* that after all the lack of game news & the bad press that's come with that, Sony wants to focus on PSP gametalk. That's understandable. But it's also clear that Sony seems to have done a 360° [EDIT: it's 180° you dope] turnaround and they've all but confirmed that they've dropped bringing the GPS to North America.

Even if we'd gotten just a small mention, like "it's coming, it's been delayed but it's coming...." but NO MENTION OF IT AT ALL is a bad a sign.

I hope I'm wrong about this.... maybe Sony will just launch it suddenly on us. Who knows with them.... but right now it looks like the idea of GPS for PSP is dead.

CES Jan 2008 Koller PSP interview:


Friday, March 13, 2009

LocoRoco 2 and the Screenshot folder

So LocoRoco 2 has the ability to save screenshots to memory stick on the PSP. Actually, LocoRoco 1 can also do that as well as a handful of other games.

The difference is those other games usually saved screenshot images in the PSP>PHOTO folder.

LocoRoco 2 saves it in PSP>SCREENSHOT folder. I didn't have that folder before, I'm pretty sure the game made it.

So what's the difference? When you look at your saved screenshots in the Photo menu on the PSP XMB, the little white square icon is bigger, retangular, and also has a background effect similar to ones in games when you hover over the UMD section of the XMB with a game in it.

I experimented making a folder inside the SCREENSHOT folder, put some pics in it & checked on the XMB to see if it would show up. It did, with the oversized white icon, except no thumbnail image, nor was there any background effects.

I noticed that the LocoRoco 2 screenshots folder has some sort of .DAT file in it, and I assume that has the thumbnail and background effects info. I don't know much about homebrew, but I think it's possible to make a file that could do those things....I remember back when PSP game demos were plentiful, people would make title screens for them that played animations/background effects.... I wonder if this is the same sort of thing.

Other than those 2 things, the SCREENSHOT folder seems to function pretty much identically to the PHOTO or PICTURES folder. I doubt that the latest PSP firmwares even put in the old PHOTO folder inside the PSP folder, because there's the PICTURE folder right at the root.

Not an earth-shattering revelation, but it is curious.



So my 8 year old nephew got a Wii game: Blastworks. And he was kind enough to loan it to me.

I'd heard lotsa good things about the game; check out some reviews and they give Blastworks glowing marks.

But I have to say, I'm just not digging it.

Blastworks is a side-scrolling shoot-em-up, or shmup as they say... the big difference between this game and any other shmup is that you can stick the enemies you kill to your ship, making this big junk-pile mess of a ship. It's a really novel and neat idea.

Hearing about this game, I was wondering, how does this work? How do you know that you've killed an enemy and you can stick it to your ship... there must be some really obvious tell-tale sign so that you're not just kamikazi-ing into them and they shoot you point blank if you're wrong? Well, yes & no..... there is a little health meter for whichever enemy you're targeting in the bottom corner of the screen. But with the frantic amount of bullets and falling enemies, it's really hard to look at the corner of the screen.

That's the other way to tell if an enemy can be scooped up and made part of your ship: they sort of do this downward curve falling motion. But it's not easy to tell if they're dead or simply flying downward. It can be a costly mistake to be wrong.

So far I've only played 10 minutes of it. That's not really a fair amount of time to make a final judgement on a game. I like shmups, but in Blastworks I can't tell what's an alive enemy, what's a dead enemy, what I can add to my ship and what's a bullet that'll kill me.... it's just a big mess. After 10 minutes I felt done with it.

I will definetely give it another try, but I'd advise giving this a rent first unless you can get it really cheap. I get the feeling this is the type of game people will either love or hate.


Loco Roco 2

I've been playing Loco Roco 2 since it came out.... I sorta transitioned into it from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed... but the last few weeks LocoRoco 2 has been living in my PSP's UMD slot....

For those who played the first one, and are hoping for a really different experience... LocoRoco 2 doesn't reinvent the game-- though it does offer some nice additions... but if you didn't like the first one, you probably won't like this one either. Then again, does anyone ever think game sequels will REALLY be different from the previous ones? It's amazing how many people seem to expect that, and are shocked to find that they don't.... like seriously.....

LocoRoco 2 is just infectious fun. That's about the best way I can sum it up. It's just so fun & "feel-good", it's like this bizarre cheery game that puts a smile on my face.

LocoRoco 2 is a platform game, where you tilt the world to roll, bounce & jump blobs called LocoRoco around to collect stuff. the LocoRocos can split up into their seperate smaller versions, or merge to form one big one.

I haven't finished everything, but I've gotten to the point where I'm wishing I had more meaty stuff to do; I know that the majority of the game is basically over... and I'm wanting more-- in a good way. It's great games that you don't want to end. Great games are also designed so that you can finish them but the game isn't "over", you can go back & replay levels.. which looks to be the case with LocoRoco 2.

Dude, that can't be right.

One of my main complaints might be that the gameplay while fun, is repetitive. You're doing the same thing over & over again. This is a game best played in short bursts, which it is designed for-- making a nice contrast to the PSP port of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed which is paced totally for a home console: you have to play for 45 minutes to make any progress. LocoRoco 2's levels are about 15-30 minutes each. It is breezy but once you unlock abilities you go back to the levels over again to collect things you couldn't get the first time. vbecause of the replayability I'd say you can get about 10 hours of gameplay outta LocoRoco 2 compared to about 5 hours for the first LocoRoco game.

Another problem can be the controls. As innovative and simple as they are, they are inherently imprecise. There were times I spent close to 20 minutes just trying to properly bounce my LocoRocos into wherever they needed to be.... that got pretty tiresome.

A minor quibble might be the music: it's the same or similar to the music from the first game, but they decided to start the level with only a few instruments playing a song, as you collect more Locos, the music becomes fuller and when you've got most of them, the song is more complete.... it's an interesting idea to help tie the music into the gameplay, but I miss not hearing the full tunes for most of the levels.

I have to admit, I'm not fond of the music minigame either. It's just that the whole "tap this button when the cursor/music note/whatever is over a certain point" kind of gameplay is just being way overused. I suppose just as the Grand Theft Auto franchise exposed video games to open world maps with "radar" in the corner which got so overused, so now in the Guitar Hero/Rock Band era of music games, we're seeing everything trying to ape that trend too. It's annoying.

But overall LocoRoco 2 has to be one of my favourite games. Really enjoyed it.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Daylight Savings

Just a reminder for those of us in North America... hope you set your clocks ahead by 1 hour as we "Spring" into Daylight Savings today.

On the PSP, there is a setting specifically for Daylight Savings in the Date & Time setting. Just switch it from Standard to Daylight Savings and it flips the time ahead by 1 hour. Is it really any easier than setting the hour ahead manually? Probably not. I found that my time would flip ahead an hour of what it's supposed to be, because I didn't realize that's all the setting did, so I'd end up not using it. Now that I know, I have my time synced to it as long as I remember.

I had to set my 3 PSPs, my Sandisk Sansa E280, my watch... but my DS Lite, oddly enough already had the right time. I wonder if it's automatic or if I just hadn't set it back before. Can't remember....


Saturday, March 7, 2009

EP Daily - podcast

This isn't technically a podcast per se... but it's a tv show that I tape & watch on my PSP like a podcast...

I started watching Electric Playground & its companion show Reviews on the Run back in 2005-2006... but they've been around for a lot longer than that. Basically Electric Playground was a weekly video games news show that had lots of info on upcoming games, and often used cheesy hilarious special FX skits mixed in the interviews... man I miss those fun shows...

The latest incarnation is EP Daily, a weekday show that's dropped the cheesy special FX (aww...too bad) but expanded the news to cover video games, movies, music, comics, toys.... cool stuff that I certainly want to know about!

The website, www.elecplay.com has episodes for viewing online... if only they offered them as PSP-friendly podcasts to download.... but at least they're there.

Check it out at www.elecplay.com


Thursday, March 5, 2009

PSP Glare Shield review

Ok this might be considered one of the sillier PSP accessories out there. It's definitely the laughing stock of many PSP owners who come across pics of it.

Today I was watching some video on my PSP, but it was one of those really bright overcast days. Anyone who knows the PSP knows that the screen is really not viewable under normal outside lighting conditions.... it gets washed out by even indirect light. My Sandisk E280 has a way brighter screen. My DS Lite has a way brighter screen. I'm wondering if the iPod Touch has a brighter screen. As great as the PSP screen is in terms of showing off visual quality, it's just not bright enough to use in normal daylight.

I came across this GameDR brand Glare Shield for my PSP-1001, got it on clearance from EB games awhile back. I hardly ever use it, but I decided to try it out on my PSP-2001.

It screws on the top side of the PSP. The screws are big, with really big screw "threads" so you can use a coin or even a fingernail to screw the Glare Shield on.

The USB port is visible, but unless you have an amazingly thin plug on your USB cable, you can't use the USB port with the Glare Shield attached.

When folded up, it sits fairly compactly over the PSP, and has space for the face buttons & D-pad. Though this was made before the PSP Slim came out, but it still seems to fit alright.

They try to emulate the back of the PSP with the circle logo. Seems alright.

Attaching the Glare Shield to the PSP is a bit tricky, because it's spring-loaded, everything's meant to "flip out". You have to keep things pressed in while you're screwing it on.

When you want to use it, you lift up the cover-- as I said, it just goes *whup* and flips open.

It's very light, doesn't add any real weight to the PSP. If you're not using a clear screen protector you might be concerned about the screen maybe getting scratched by those "wings" that sit on the sides.

It vaguely reminds me of those old Coleco mini arcade games:

More info about them can be found here. And man, was it ever HARD to look those up on Google.....

And when I think of those things I start thinking about that PSP cardboard arcade thing:

So this Glare Shield really brings up some weird associations with me.

Does it look silly to have this big tent-thing sitting on your PSP? Maybe. But does it work? Yeah, it does work fairly well. As long as the light is facing ahead of you, the shield blocks it well. because it goes up so high, it does block some of the reflected light too.

As weird as it looks in pictures, in real life it doesn't seem that big. I included pics with a UMD box to get a sense of scale, it's about 3/4 the size of a UMD box, which isn't all that big.

  • lightweight.
  • offers a small amount of screen protection.
  • does what it says.

  • Looks silly.
  • Shouldn't be used as a primary screen protector.
  • Can't use the USB port with it on.

I probably posted way too many pictures of this thing, but a video of it in action:


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

PSP in 2009/2010?

::::Just some concept art I found online::::

I dunno. I posted some thoughts about it already, but the rumourangs about a "PSP 2" just aren't going away.

It's a bit sad, because with the announcements of new UMD games and the lilac "Hannah Montana" PSP... which I have to admit I'm liking (the colour) more every day... this good news should have fans feeling the PSP is on a major comeback. But because of these "PSP 2 with no UMD drive" rumours, I can't help but feel like why would I want another PSP if a major redesign is just around the corner... just behind all the Sony suits hiding something behind their backs going, "nothing to see here...."

These rumours aren't just some vague rants or individuals looking for their 15 minutes of fame. Before the PSP-3000 was announced, NOBODY would have thought there'd be another PSP iteration so soon after PSP-2000 came out. It wasn't even a year. Sony themselves should get a big part of the blame for the persistence of these rumours.

I think that "PSP 2" will come out soon, and PSP (2000/3000) will still be in stock, they will share shelf space like what Nintendo plans with the DS/DSi: they said the DS will still be available, and it's $130.00, while the DSi will be $170.00. This is a little more honest than Sony just ignoring that the PSP-2000 is still on the shelves at all, which it is.

I can see Sony spinning this as "if you want to play the UMD PSP library, you can buy a PSP-3000, if you want to all download, buy our PSP 2"... of course you can download games onto a PSP too.

The main thing is that I don't think Sony is ready to release the PSP 2 because it sounds very dependent on having a robust library of downloadable games. Maybe the PS Store in Japan can do it, but I don't think any of the other PS Stores have enough games to properly support a new handheld console. They'd have to have a killer app of some sort, at least one must-have game that would be PSP 2 exclusive.

I've been keeping track of Sony's mp3 player development, and their latest, the Sony X-1000 is supposed to be their answer to the iPod Touch. It has a touch screen, but also tactile buttons.

Traditionally Sony's mp3 players & the PSP have some overlap but never really meet, they stay pretty separate. So it might not be an accurate indication of what's to come for the PSP 2 but maybe...

I'm not exactly sure why people need touch so badly in a PSP. Is it just a sheep mentality: "Ooh, the DS and iPhone use touch and they're really popular, so that's what will save us!"? I don't mind the feature maybe... but why not add accelerometer motion controls while you're at it? Loco Roco with tilt controls?? How awesome would that be?

If Sony does keep the tactile buttons, they'd better add a second analogue nub. That's the top of my list. If the PSP had 2 analogue nubs back in 2005, things would be very different today. Yes there would be more ports, probably a lot more FPS ports. But that momentum would possibly have allowed some more creative games to also be developed for the system.

A big point is storage... I'd like to see some built in flash memory as well as being expandable. It would have to have at least 32GB, which Sony's mp3 players are currently maxing out at, but I think if they wanted to be serious it should have 64GB, if not more. Another indicator of Sony's abandonment of PSP is the lack of a 32GB memory stick being announced. Every February they've been announcing a new memory stick that doubles the capacity of the previous maximum stick. last February we got 16GB, but this Feb... nothing so far.... this could be due to Sony's fear of people using the big sticks for piracy, but it could also be if a PSP 2 is coming, especially a 32GB one, they want that to be a selling point and not compete with it with a regular memory stick. That's a sketchy theory I admit-- hell, a 32GB memory stick could come out in a few weeks for all I know.

Bottom line is I can't shake the feeling that a "PSP 2" or a "download-only PSP" is coming soon. It won't necessarily replace the current PSP right away but it's meant to, eventually. Unless Sony can assure us that things are not going to change, 2009-2010 is looking murky for PSPs future......

But even if that does happen, the PSP will still have a few big-name games lined up for it. Plus there are lots of games in its back-catalogue that are really forgotten treasures. I know I have at least 5 PSP games in my pile that I have to dig into, including God of War: Chains of Olympus. I'm going to try to keep in mind the positive news, that new games are coming for PSP, and that even if a PSP 2 comes out, our PSPs aren't going to just stop working. What I love about the PSP right now will still be there a year from now...


Battle Damaged Darth Vader

Monday was an awesome day to be sitting by my mail-box, because not only did I get my 2 kingston 16GB microSD cards... the Force Unleashed battle-damaged Darth Vader action figure I ordered also came in!

This fig is what really started my action figure frenzy I have going on right now. After playing Force Unleashed again, getting to the end where you fight Darth Vader & you beat him up so bad his helmet's partially torn off & half his armour is gone.... that is so awesome. (don't worry I haven't spoiled anything)

This figure is based on that scene, and when I looked it up, I just fell in love with it. The helmet, arm covering and chest & shin armour is removable, exposing his cybernetics & burned skin. This fig is the pride of my recent acquisitions, with Darth Talon being a close second.

The only thing I wish his cape was more tattered, I may punch some more holes in it...


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Microsoft shuts down original Xbox support

From GameSpot:

"In early 2006, several months after it launched the Xbox 360, Microsoft ceased manufacturing the original Xbox. Today, the company pulled the plug on its first console entirely. The company has officially ended out-of-warranty support for the original Xbox, some eight and a half years after Bill Gates handed out the first device."

"On March 2, 2009, service repairs for Original Xbox video game systems for which the Warranty has expired will no longer be available," reads Microsoft's official support site. "Any other technical support, documents, and content, however, will continue to be available to all our customers.

Man.... that really sucks. Luckily my Xbox has had no problems ***knock on wood*** but it just cheezes me off how shitty Microsoft treated the original Xbox. As badly as Sony acts, they haven't done what Microsoft did; completely & utterly abandoning a console only 4.5 years after its introduction. I know there are reasons that they dropped original Xbox like a hot rock; apparently all the components were licensed, so they didn't really "own" it & lost money on every unit.... I dunno.... their attitude was (and is) nothing short of a big F.U. to everyone who ever bought an original Xbox. They're like, "Xbox??? THERE WAS NO XBOX BEFORE 360." Trying to erase its existence.

I love the system, it was powerful, reliable, had a decent-sized hard drive that didn't go away (*ahem* PS2 Slim?) and it's still my main DVD player thanks to the remote & IR dongle. I could save music files to it... unfortunately in .WAV format so they took up a lot of space... but at least I could use my own music in games that supported it.

Xbox is just a great little system that had a big hurdle to overcome, being the first console from a company new to that particular field. There's a lot of similarity between original Xbox and PSP: They are both the first of their kinds from publishers who'd never done that before (Microsoft- make a gaming console/ Sony - make a handheld console) and they are both a little too powerful for their own good. I'm scared that PSP will end up sharing the same fate as original Xbox.....

There are still a few original Xbox games I'd like to get... for real cheap.... Just Cause... Doom 3.... The Suffering 2..... Stubbs the Zombie..... unfortunately EB games has basically whittled down their Xbox games library too.....

I hope my Xbox keeps working for years to come.

*GameSpot article: Microsoft pulls plug on original Xbox support*


Monday, March 2, 2009

Kingston 16GB MicroSD

Sa-wheeeeeet!!! On Friday I ordered two Kingston 16GB Micro SD cards from Expansys... and just a few minutes ago there was a knock on the door-- they showed up already! Ordered on Friday, showed up on Monday! That's phenomenal delivery time for Canada!

They cost around $53.00 each, but with tax and shipping it works out to a bit less than $70.00 each for them... it was something like $138.00 in total...

The reason I bought 2 is that I'm going to use a PhotoFast CR-5400 microSD to Memory Stick Pro Duo adapter:

I also just ordered it, but it's coming from overseas so I expect it'll take a bit longer to arrive. Once it shows up, I pop the two 16GB MicroSD cards into the adapter, and the adapter into my PSP.... and VoilĂ ! 32 GB of storage in my PSP! Actually, after formatting, probably 29 GB.

Still... that will be damn impressive. I have to say, couldn't come at a better time. Right now I'm rocking an 8Gb Sony memory stick pro duo on my main PSP, and it's pretty full what with all the tv shows I've been taping from my Neuros Recorder II+... I'm taping them faster than I can watch & erase them... and seeing as how 1 hour = 400MB or so, it can really fill the space.

I would've liked to have gotten the Sandisk 16GB MicroSD cards, but they are still just too expensive in Canada.... when I happened upon that price for the Kingston, I had to give it a try.

I learned about this from Playstation Underground member Bone of World's thread about it. I'll post my experiences when I've got my hands on the adapter.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

EB Games = what comic stores used to be

The trends that are happening in the video game industry... I've seen a lot of this stuff happen before-- in the comic book industry.

And on this line of thought, I've come to the conclusion that EB Games are basically what comic stores used to be.

  • They're disorganized.
  • they smell bad.... what is with that anyway??
  • They're staffed with annoying, smarmy, know-it-alls.
  • Completely non-girl-friendly.
  • They're like dungeons.

EB Games employee personality equivalent.

We all know the cliché comic book store experience, complete with the "Comic Book Guy" made so famous by The Simpsons. It got so bad that around 2000-2001, Diamond, the main distributor of comic books, launched a campaign to try to "clean up" this image through educating comic store owners that basically, as "nerdy" as comics, toys, sci-fi etc. is, at the heart of it, it's a business. Whatever it is you're selling, whether it's groceries or comic books, you have to treat your customers in a professional manner. You find out what they want, and you do your best to sell it to them. That's how retail works.

You have to make sure your store is a place people want to go into-- NEW customers, not just the regulars that would shop there no matter what the place looked like.

As a retailer, use your knowledge to best serve the customer, but don't ever, EVER belittle a customer's opinion about a product, especially one you carry-- since you want to sell that product-- otherwise, you shouldn't carry it.

I can't keep track of how many times I've read stories about EB games or GameStop clerks forcing their opinions on customers... 'cause obviously they know better than the people who want to throw down cold hard cash on something. Not everybody likes the same things.

Keep the store tidy & organized-- why is it that EB Games stores seem to all smell bad??? My game collection doesn't smell like that..... so why does EB Games???? I try not to really breathe until I get out of the place.

I know that some comic stores are STILL dungeons that reek of unfriendly nerdom & "keep out of our clubhouse"-ness. But in general, I find they're getting better.

On the other hand, EB Games are like a trip back to the comic stores of 15 years ago. Why the video game industry hasn't learned any lessons from the comic book industry is beyond me. I think it's because there's still tons of money in the video game industry, so they don't have any incentive to shape up. Unfortunately, EB Games are still incredibly popular, being the biggest used game dealer I know of. During Boxing Day & Christmas, lines were out the door.

And sure, some EB Games might be great (I've never found one) with employees that are really helpful. The point is that there's no STANDARD, so it's a fluke if you come across one like that.

It will take some kind of wake up call, like maybe the current recession, before they raise their level of professionalism. Once it really starts to cost them money, then they'd change. Until then.... welcome to the dungeon.....


Iwata Asks: Nintendo DSi

Much like the Wii interview, Nintendo's Global President Satoru Iwata sits down and interviews his minions the DSi design team to get their thoughts on this 3rd interation of the DS.

Despite being interviewed by their boss, there's some candid comments... like how constraining it was to have to try to make a "new" system that wasn't a "new" system:


One thing that was difficult was developing the project while keeping in mind how to sell it. What I mean is, it wasn't a completely new piece of hardware, so we couldn't plan on there being several big titles to be simultaneously released with it.


Because it's not an entirely new platform. It's the third console in the Nintendo DS line.


Exactly. So, to put it simply, we have to be able to sell the console on its own. It also has to be able to meld into the already-existing DS market.

That's right.


That was the source of some frustration for me. I couldn't move forward at full blast, but if I didn't move forward, it wouldn't feel new. It was quite a dilemma.


In other words, you would have felt freer if you could have ignored the technological precedents and the existing market for the DS, but since you had to restrict yourself to the DS platform, figuring out how to be innovative within that framework was a big challenge.

*[this is the part where Iwata goes, "O RLY"... pulls out Kuwahara's employee review file, and Kuwahara recants everything he just said... hehe just kidding.]*

One weird idea: originally the DSi was going to have 2 DS cartridge slots! I'm not sure why they really pushed for this, but when they passed the prototype around, the team really didn't like it... apparently it added a lot of bulk to the system. So they had to do a last minute change to make it the slimmer DSi we (will) know.

Another weird thing: SD card support was not a popular idea, and had to be pushed on them by Shigeru Miyamoto:


Early during planning, software developers in favor of SD cards weren't in the majority. If you use SD cards, the size increases, and at that stage it was difficult to visualize clearly what SD cards would bring to the system and what it would lack without them. But Miyamoto-san wanted to use them. When asked if he was certain, he said yes and promised that he would make the use of it. (laughs)

*The full interview is here, in 2 parts.*

I'm not a big fan of incremental hardware updates and passing them off as "new systems"... unfortunately Apple taught Nintendo & Sony how to scam people that this works.... but the DSi is still an interesting console. If was buying a DS for the first time, I'd probably go with the DSi despite the higher price.... well, I guess it depends on if I had Game Boy Advance cartridges, and a Game Boy Micro (yes on both).... otherwise it is a bit annoying to lose that backwards compatibility.

But for people just entering the handheld market, GBA carts are hard to find anyway so they'd probably just be looking for DS games.... the DSi is likely the best bet for the future....


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