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Wednesday, April 29, 2009


GameSpot article: "UMD-less PSP2 due by early November?"

We're starting to hear a timeline for the not-quite-confirmed PSP 2 now... at this point, this is still all just rumour & speculation.

From the article:

The new PSP will apparently, as rumored, be losing its UMD optical drive. Like Apple's wildly popular iPhone, it will reportedly come in two models with 8GB and 16GB of flash memory. It reportedly will not, however, boast the second thumbstick many PSP owners have asked for.

According to 1up's sources, the new PSP will launch in September in Japan with more than 100 "classic and new" digitally distributed titles. Ellis claims that the long-delayed Gran Turismo Mobile "is said to be one of the premier launch titles." Similar launches in Europe and North America will happen in "either late October or early November," according to the report.

Curiously, though, the 1up article went on to say the PSP Go! name was not confirmed, only "likely." It also said the design "could provide an 800x480 pixel touch screen for the system, as well as a camera on the system's backside" like the mylo. (Emphasis added.)

My thoughts on the article:

Third paragraph first: I think those comments in the 3rd paragraph are the most speculative; it reminds me of the touchscreen & camera that was supposed to come with what we now know as the PSP-3000.

Second paragraph: I'm still feeling that the digital PSP library isn't full enough to support a download-only handheld. I can see they're adding to it with all the announcements lately, but still... unless there are a bunch of games to be announced maybe at E3 or something.

And finally, the first paragraph: having built in memory would've been one of the things I'd be most envious of, but 8 & 16Gb don't compare to the 32GB I'm rocking in my PSP right now...I'm so happy to have that much memory. Hell, I'd love 64GB. And no second thumbstick makes me think, "what's the point of having another PSP if you're not going to fix the BIGGEST single problem with the PSP". I've learned to live without a second analogue nub, but seriously.... Sony, just admit it was a FATAL ERROR to not bother to include a second one.... Sony obviously assumed that developers would accept a control change and work extra hard to deliver games that wouldn't need it. And they were so very, very wrong. If anything, we're seeing that devs want all controls to be the same, across all platforms. If the Wii wasn't the insane seller that it is, they'd be happy to ignore it. The only reason they don't is that they can't. Unfortunately, the PSP is not as lucky. Since its sales aren't insanely hot, it CAN be ignored by lazy devs. The only thing that blows a hole in my theory is the DS, which has a different control scheme in the touch & mic... but lots of devs ignore those features I guess, so maybe it fits into my theory alright.... I dunno... to be honest, as much as I like the DS, I really don't know why it sells so well. I personally haven't found that killer-app that makes it such a top seller (though Brain Age 2 is about as close as a DS killer app to me that I have)

Ok, now my thoughts are going off on a tangent. In summery, PSP 2 coming. Maybe.

Dizzy from all the tail chasing......


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Coded Arms

Picked up Coded Arms at Real Canadian Superstore for $9.98. Pretty good deal, apparently it's a Greatest Hits title now too?

I've heard a lot about Coded Arms, and not in a good way. But it's one of the few first person shooters for the PSP, and I've always been curious about it. It looks good... why does it get such a critical drubbing? I soon found out....

The problem with Coded Arms is that it really has a lot of potential to be an awesome game, but there are such problems that hold it back. I think it's that feeling of disappointment where the negativity stems from. Playing it, the game certainly does look good. But the overall design is just a series of plain hallways and rooms. The map is randomly generated, so techincally each play experience is different, but it doesn't hide the fact that the overall map design is really bland. There's a map screen which looks a lot like Metroid Prime 3's map, and just as confusing to move around & read. Switching between weapons is very clunky, and you can only hold a certain amount, so you have to swap out weapons-- it's really cumbersome.

Despite the lack of a 2nd analogue nub, I believe that FPS games can work on the PSP. Coded Arms uses what I think is the best control scheme for a shooter on a PSP (given its limitations): using the face buttons to aim. But the aiming in Coded Arms is pretty bad; it's *sorta* sticky, but not really... which makes for a lot of missed shots just because you're fighting the targeting system. I can't help but imagine if Coded Arms had the sort of aiming from Resistence Retribution or even Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron, it would be such a better game.

The lack of health & ammo in later levels is a problem, as you're basically stuck with what you've got. Overall Coded Arms feels like a lost opportunity to make a really decent FPS for the PSP. If it didn't look so promising, it may not be as disappointing. But it's not a terrible game, and I'm finding it worth my $9.98.


Monday, April 27, 2009

PSP-2000 white battery covers

Last week I ordered (from eBay) another set of white battery covers for my PSP Slim.... they came in the mail this morning. At over $9.00 CAN, that's more than I would like to pay for something like this, but in anticipation of getting that Stamina battery from Budgetgadgets.com, I will be testing it out in both my PSP-1001 and my PSP-2001. Sure, I do have that nice-fitting black extended battery cover, but I always wanted a DECENT one in white.... especially after that last white extended cover turned out to be a bust.

What's with showing a 1200 mAh battery in both those pics on the back? Shouldn't one of them be 1800 mAh or 2200 mAh? Whatever....

On the replacements, the teeth that hold the covers in place are a little bit smaller than the teeth of the original cover. But they do seem to work ok.

Similar to the previous sets, this one comes in a pair; one is bulgy to accommodate the PSP-1000 battery in the PSP-2000, and the other cover is a regular PSP-2000 cover.

Trying out the regular cover, it seems to fit fine and blends well with the overall white of the PSP. There is a small difference in shade, but honestly, I'd have to be really looking for it to notice. Aside from the cover looking shinier than the rest of my PSP because it's newer, it blends in well with the PSP.

It is kinda odd how there's that space around the battery cover button. I'm not sure it's a big deal though.

The extended cover fits quite well. *Much better* than that other white extended cover I bought.... that piece of garbage, you can't even line up both teeth into place, so one side is always open. But looking at this extended cover, it has a good seal all around.

I did find it tough to get it off... I had to really push the battery button to get it to slide through that latch. Hmmm.

The reason I was holding my PSP upside down is that I haven't put an extended battery in it yet. I'm just trying out the cover for now. So this isn't exactly a complete review, until I can get the stamina battery in there to try out. Still, it does look ok for now. I've noticed that the white cover bulges out more than that black cover.... I can really feel it. Don't know if it's just me or what, it's been a long time since I used that black cover. It's a great cover, if only it came in white it would be perfect.

But this one is alright.


Peggle Dual Shot (DS)

I picked up Peggle Dual Shot from Real Canadian SuperStore for $14.99 a few days ago... gotta love how they use the DS initials in the game title.... err, yeah mebbe not......

Anyway, it's a pretty casual but addicting puzzle game. I've been playing it a lot over the last few days.

I'd never played Peggle before, but I know there are prior iterations for iPhone(?) and PC. The DS version is developed by Q? Entertainment, the makers of Lumines for the PSP (and Xbox Live)... but I suspect that the presentation & feel of the game is very much from the original, PopCap games.

The goal of the game is to shoot a ball down a peg filled screen, and try to get all the orange pegs before you run out of ammo. You can use the buttons, but the preferred controls are completely stylus. Swiping the stylus side to side turns the cannon, and pressing on the center of the cannon fires it. For the most part, the control scheme works well, but there are times when I tap the fire button only to find it suddenly turned the cannon, wrecking my shot.... that's annoying. And it's very hard to predict how a shot will bounce, so there's still a lot of chance & blind luck involved with the game, which can be a frustration.

But most of my issues with the game are small ones. This may seem nit-picky, but the look & presentation is pretty cheesy. I'm sure some of it's intentional-- when you hit the final peg, I'll just say that the game makes a big deal out of it, hehe. It's pretty funny. But the character designs are pretty bad, and their text dialogue is corny. It's also annoying that it drops the text down over the gameplay screen when you just want to get in and play.

The overall gameplay is very simple and there are a few modes, but it's still a very basic game that's worth a budget price.

GameSpot Peggle Dual Shot gameplay video:


Friday, April 24, 2009

Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land

Picking up my DS Lite again got me trying out some GBA games... I'd pulled out my Ewin Rumble Pak out of my DS Lite's GBA slot-- it's a tight fit, so I've been rocking my DS with the slot exposed, no cork...... I thought I'd get some GBA games play time before I cork the slot back up since it's not easy to pull that thing out once it's in.

Been catching up on Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land... bought this awhile back, I think used off of eBay?

Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land is a pretty cool platformer. The Kirby series of games have a reputation of being on the easier side of the platformer scale, but I'm finding Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land to have a few challenging, even frustrating moments. The campaign seems pretty long, I've read reports that it can be done in a few hours, but there seem to be alternate paths & doors to try out, so I think there are a lot of different areas to explore. I really like Kirby's gimmick: he swallows his enemies, and can either spit them out or absorb their powers (if they have any) it's a great gameplay mechanic.

Overall, Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land is pretty fun if you're new to the platformer genre of games.

Yesterday I picked up Kirby Super Star Ultra (DS) and I've played an hour of that... maybe it's early but I'm finding that one to be MUCH EASIER than Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land... I'm wondering if there's much main game to Kirby Super Star Ultra (there are a few minigames) and it seems like Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land has more game to it. So right now I have both DS slots filled with Kirby games, but I'm more compelled by the Kirby GBA game.......


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Feel the Magic XY/XX

I love my DS Lite... but I have to admit, I don't play it that much. It's like one of those friends who blows into town every couple of years, you go out & have a great time with them, but you just don't see them that often.

The last time I played my DS was early January, after getting Custom Robo Arena as part of Roger's 2/$20.00 deal. I've been meaning to review that game, will get to that eventually.

Last week I saw Feel the Magic XY/XX at EB games "new" for $4.99! For $5.00, it's worth a shot. Especially with that cover!

Feel the magic XY/XX is a collection of minigames wrapped up in a "dating sim" type of theme. You're this guy who wants to attract the attention of a girl, and you perform all these minigames as part of trying to get close to her... it's pretty wacky, and very Japanese in its wackiness.

The look is great. The people are silhouettes, similar to the game Exit (PSP/DS) and overall the art direction is very stylish. Yes, the DS is not as powerful as the PSP. But games like this show how to do more with less.

I think Feel the Magic came out with the launch of the original DS, it's ©2004... but it really is innovative; its control scheme makes full use of the DS specific features. The controls are entirely stylus-based or using the built-in DS microphone. And I have to say, it (mostly) uses the controls fairly well. Doesn't seem overly gimmicky. There's one minigame where you have to blow a sailboat close enough to rescue the girl, and I'm really impressed how well it works. But there are some problems with the stylus controls, like lack of precision that makes a few minigames much less fun than they should be.

Like most minigame collections, there are a few clunkers. And it is a pretty short game overall. The replay value comes from re-doing the story mode in HARD, or replaying individual games to collect starts or rabbits to unlock more costumes for the girl.

It's weird that Sonic Team developed this game... to see the "Sonic" logo on a non-Sonic game.... but at least it doesn't suffer from the problems of that franchise. If you have Sonic GBA cartidges in your DS with Feel the Magic, it will unlock some bonus outfits for the girl. I (unfortunately) have Sonic Advance 3, so I was able to get a new hairstyle I think? In any case, take that, DSi! Ironically, having Sonic GBA games doesn't unlock ANYTHING if you have Sonic Rush in your DS. Okay... so this non-Sonic game uses a Sonic game to unlock stuff, while an actual SONIC DS game doesn't....... huh??

The game options have English & Japanese, and if you switch the language to Japanese and go back to the title page (same image as cover except cropped at the title), the girl doesn't have a bikini top... she's still in silhouette so it's not like you see anything...

There are a few little things like that; little bonuses that are kinda cool. On the player's birthday, the girl on the main menu screen will say "Happy birthday". Apparently there are also Xmas & New Years messages too. That's another thing I like about the DS, even the startup music changes a bit on your birthday. Like my PSP would ever acknowledge my birthday, or Xmas, or New Years.....

Feel the Magic is a pretty fun, stylish-looking, but short mingame collection.

Feel the Magic GameSpot review:


Monday, April 20, 2009

Sonic Rush sucks

Man... why do I even bother with the Sonic franchise.... oh yeah-- my 8 year old nephew thinks he likes Sonic. What with the incredible kid-friendly appeal, why does developer Sonic Team make the Sonic games so impenetrable?

I can't speak about the new ones, but the older games with the "good" reputation... basically the 2D Sonic games.... are old-school hard.

I bought Sonic Rush during Boxing Week, as part of a 2 for $20.00 deal at Rogers Video Plus. I still paid too much.

The DS & GameBoy Advance games look great. They move pretty well too. But they are so caught up in having to know in infinitesimal detail about the world and gameplay of Sonic... you probably have to be a Sonic fan from waaay back to be able to play a Sonic game. They cling like maniacs to the outdated gameplay mechanics like set number of lives and time limits. But they also want to pretend they belong in the decade of 2000, so they try to offer diverse paths & hidden treasures. The thing is, the gameplay inherently PUNISHES exploration & trying new directions because there are so many things just off-screen that can kill you. Hell, how are you even supposed to know when you can drop down a level and when it will be an instant kill? Or what's movable & what's not? Or what's a pickup & what's not.....

Bottom line is that the Sonic games SUCK, and I have to try to accept that-- maybe find some way to get rid of the crap ones I stupidly paid $$$ for.... it's just such a shame that such a great-looking franchise is actually so awful.


PSP Update 5.50 coming soon

A new PSP firmware update is coming soon!

From the PS Blog:

Hi everyone, the next system software update (v5.50) for PSP (PlayStation Portable) will be available soon, and I wanted to provide you all with a preview of some of the key features.

The firmware update will introduce an Information Board on the PSP system’s XMB (XrossMediaBar) interface. Those of you who have a PLAYSTATION 3 (PS3) may be familiar with this feature, which displays news and updates from the world of PlayStation in a scrolling ticker in the upper right-hand corner of your TV screen. Now you’ll be able to read up-to-date information about upcoming games, new content available on PlayStation Store, and other news right on your PSP whenever you’re at a wireless Internet hotspot.

In addition, we’ll be adding a few more enhancements with the 5.50 update:

  • Memory Stick improvements – You’ll be able to create and access sub-folders on your Memory Stick PRO Duo for music, videos and photos. Separately, the available space required to download a file from PlayStation Store to your Memory Stick has been reduced significantly.
  • Internet search for games directly from the XMB – You’ll be able to easily search the Internet for information about your PSP games. Select the icon for the game, hit the Triangle button, and then select [Internet Search] from the options menu to get search results based on the game title. This feature was added to PS3 with the recent 2.70 update.
  • Trend Micro trial – PSP’s Internet browser is a great tool for checking out your favorite Web sites on the go, and we’re teaming up with the Internet security experts at Trend Micro to make the Web browsing experience safer and more secure. With the 5.50 update, you’ll have the option to access a free trial of two Trend Micro services:
    1. Trend Micro Web Security uses Web reputation technology to block PSP owners from accidentally visiting a Web site that may contain malicious content designed to steal personal information and confidential data.
      Trend Micro Kids’ Safety uses URL filtering technology to prevent children from accessing Web sites that feature inappropriate content.

Hmmm, have I written a post about a PSP update yet? I don't think so... I did update 2 of my PSPs to firmware 5.03, because I knew I was going to buy/play Loco Roco 2. But 5.03's been out for awhile.... there hasn't been a new update for a long time.

I know that this whole updating firmware thing got started as Sony's attempt to curb homebrew & piracy on the PSP. But I *really hate* that Sony FORCES US to update our PSP in order to play a LEGALLY BOUGHT & OWNED game. I don't use Homebrew or pirate games, but I also don't want to have to update my PSP every month or whatever just to play the latest game that I buy.

Even if I do everything right, I update on a full battery, with the AC adapter plugged in, etc... there's ALWAYS a chance that the update will brick my PSP. Yes, it may be a slim chance, but there's always that chance. And Sony expects us to update all the time??? That's like having to re-install Windows every month. If Microsoft forced that, it wouldn't be long before the mobs waving torches showed up at their door.

There are firmware updates on Wii games as well, and they seem to be as plentiful as the early PSP updates. but at least they give you an option NOT to update if you don't want to. You don't have to update just to play the game on the disc.

Okay, that's my little rant about firmware updates out of the way....

After all that, maybe this makes me sound like a hypocrite, but I am mildly excited about this new 5.50 PSP update. Well, there's one feature that sounds really good: You’ll be able to create and access sub-folders on your Memory Stick PRO Duo for music, videos and photos.

That's a feature we've wanted for a LONG time..... people wanted it especially for music; to be able to group folders by artist/band, then put individual albums in... could be cool.

And it will be nice for people who download PS Store games onto their PSP, that they don't have to have double the space needed for the game.

Every firmware I desperately pray that they don't BREAK features that were already there. Music playback coming out of sleep mode was adversly affected with 2.80. Luckily it seemed to be fixed by 3.00. But I'm worried that any tweaking of the video functions in new firmware will wreck the playback of my current videos. That's why I'm reluctant to update.

Ever since I learned my lesson with 2.80, I usually don't update right away. I'll wait & see if any problems are reported.....

EDIT: fixed "5.05" to "5.50". 5.50?? yikes, quite a jump.


Sunday, April 19, 2009


I was recently contacted by someone working for this gadget wholesaler site, called BudgetGadgets.com.... they asked if I would review a couple of their PSP accessories & post my results, which I agreed to do so.

So hopefully in a few weeks I'll have the 2 items in hand, and will try them out. My reviews will be honest & 100% my opinions, like all my other reviews.

The site looks similar to something like DealExtreme; based in China, generic brands, low prices and free shipping (that's always good!) It's worth checking out if you're looking for accessories for your favourite gaming consoles (they have more than PSP stuff) or gadgets.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Reviews on the Run

Man... I'm not sure what's happening with one of my favourite video game shows, EP Daily (Electric Playground)... the local CityTV station seems to have taken it off the air last week..... I only noticed when I went to transfer last weeks worth of eps to my PSP, and to my shock I found I had about 1.2 GB of Judge Joe Brown instead... *shudder*

But now I've noticed that they've posted new eps of the other video game show, Reviews on the Run. They've even got a website, www.reviewsontherun.com (handy tip: they usually have handheld game reviews at the end of the first segment, and beginning of the second segment)

So I'll be catching up on some eps of that show at least (which I actually prefer to Electric Playground)... still, I wonder when/if these will air on a local TV station sometime....


Friday, April 17, 2009


I just finished playing through MadWorld.... Wow.

I've had mixed feelings about this game:

At first I loved it.

Then I hated it.

And now that I've finished it, I can say that I really like it. There are some frustrating elements to it, the controls + camera are not as tight as they should be.... but overall the look & style of the game is so impressive & unique (to me) that I can't help but love looking at this game.

Oddly enough, the Wii has a lot in common with the PSP: Aside from this (unfortunate?) trend developing where games are being created specifically to be ported from one system to the other... they both have only 1 analogue stick. Because of this, the camera is usually either automatic, or can be reset behind the character by using a button-- as is the case for MadWorld. You can hold the camera button to lock onto an enemy, useful for boss fights, but not really usable in normal situations.

MadWorld's controls are a bit sluggish. Luckily most of the enemies are also sluggish so it makes it a fairly even playing field... until they amp up the speed of the enemies. But it's also a little too picky about targeting an enemy. There are lots of times where I'll be standing in front of an enemy & missing them (with whatever) just because I was a little bit off from being directly in front of them or something. There should've been much more leeway about this since we don't have a 2nd analogue stick to line up our sights-- it shouldn't be so anal-retentive and exacting.

The onscreen text is INSANELY TINY.... grrrr. Clearly no one developing MadWorld thought to try the game on anything other than a large LCD tv. It reminds me of Star Wars Battlefront II, which has the same problem. Seriously, none of you guys could've thought to see how it'd look on a standard definition TV? It's nearly unreadable on my 27" 4:3 TV.

It's a short game too. My save file says 5 hours, but I know I've played more than that from dying & retrying levels. But by most standards, it is definitely shorter than average gameplay.

MadWorld has some elements that are a throwback to old-skool video games: points & lives. You start off with 3 lives each level, and you can find more in some of them. You need to rack up certain numbers of points to progress through the level. But what I find unessasary is that each level has a 30 minute time limit. What's the point of that? Time limits are one of the gameplay elements I really hate in general; I find it's an archaic & outdated gameplay mechanic. And it serves no purpose in MadWorld. 30 minutes may seem like a long time, but why even have a time limit on a game that's short by design?

The great parts of MadWorld is the look and feel of the game. I have to say, this is one of the best looking Wii games I've ever seen, and maybe one of the best looking games of ANY type I've ever played. The Sin City-influenced look is so distinctive from any other game I've played, and I'm a huge comics fan, so the comic book elements like the panels popping in for the cut scenes, and the words sound FX splashed across the screen... it's pure eye candy.

Hopefully most people interested in MadWorld know about it's over-the-top, ultra-violent gameplay, which is a lot of fun if you have a good sense of humour about it. There's tons of swearing too. But there's also a story going on, it's trying to be a bit deeper than just a simple blood-fest. I won't spoil anything, but sorta like the controls, it's a bit too ambitious for what it is. Still, because of the stylish look, it's great to take in all the visuals of the game so the cutscenes and story are still enjoyable.

Ultimately, MadWorld is a beat-em-up game, and like most (if not all) of the genre, it is repetitive. What sets MadWorld apart from other games is the unique look & style, and that it's on a platform that doesn't have any other game like this on it-- the Nintendo Wii. Because of that, I do want it to be successful & pave the way to expanding the Wii library beyond the mindset that "the Wii is only for kid games". But I also have to take issue with the faults of the game that keep it from truly shining as bright as it could. I've noticed the price dropping pretty quickly, and because it's so short, it probably is best as a budget-priced title. I think it's worth getting.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

ZAGG tax relief sale

Got this email about a sale at ZAGG, the maker of Invisible Shield, is having a 30% off sitewide sale.

Use discount code: TAXRELIEF upon checkout.

The sale ends Tuesday, April 21, 2009.

Might be good for those thinking about picking up an Invisible Shield screen protector for their PSP or other gadget.



Wednesday, April 15, 2009

MadWorld Sucks?

I spoke too soon about MadWorld "deserving to be a top seller".... the big problem I have with this game is that like too many Wii games, it's really clunky. Your character, Jack, controls like a lumbering tank--which is what he and most of the characters look like; they're very bulky. They're built to be kinda slow but pack a wallop. Fine enough.... but because of this, the control scheme seems a bit too ambitious to be playable in such a setting as this game.

I've talked about how I wasn't really getting a handle on the controls during the first part of the game. See, I was making lots of kills, but it really felt kinda random... a lot of the time it was like a "Oh, I did? Okay.... I guess..." type of feeling. The game weighted it so much in the players favour that you kinda get through it no matter what. Hmmm.

Now I'm into the second half of the game, and the lack of precise controls is proving to be the games downfall. For some reason the quick-time gestures aren't registering. And now there are enemies that can kill you in ONE STROKE if you fail the quick-time gestures... yeah, those ones that suddenly stopped working for some reason. The devs want to up the difficulty, but they broke the gameplay in doing so.

I suspect there's something that most developers for Wii games have completely overlooked-- that there can be MASSIVE VARIATION in the sensitivity of EVERY individual Wii control (both Wiimotes & nunchuks)... they just aren't as consistent as a regular console controller. Pretty much every Xbox controller works the same, whenever I used my friends Xbox controllers, or played using controllers other than my own, they all worked reasonably consistently like one another. But with Wii controls, I guess because of the cheapness of the motion sensors, there's tons of deviation between other controllers and my own. What may work with mine doesn't work with a friends. What works with a friends Wii controllers doesn't work with the random store display Wii controllers. All developers of Wii games should have at least a dozen if not more Wii controllers (both types) and use EVERY one of them to test their controls. I bet most/probably all of them use only one or two sets of controllers, because they assume they all work exactly the same.

Maybe that's where MadWorld has gone wrong... I don't know. All I know is I hate having the control of a game taken out of my hands. That's completely against what a game should be-- the player needs to have control of their actions. If I die because I made the wrong move, that's fine. But dying because of outside forces literally beyond my control is NOT fine, nor fun.

I'm going to keep trying MadWorld, but I can't see it getting any better from here on out. It's such a massive shame, because the look and tone of the game is so excellent. I really love it, but if I can't PLAY it, then what good is it....


Sunday, April 12, 2009

PSP paperclip stand

Hmmm.... I'm finding myself on guard duty, trying to keep a nasty Northern Flicker (woodpecker) from enlarging a hole in the side of my house that it's currently obsessed with. Luckily, I have my PSP loaded with tv shows I haven't watched, like last week's ep of 24.

But I want to eat too. I can't hold both the PSP and my plate & fork. So my PSP is wedged as best I can to watch it, while I juggle between stuffing my face & trying to get the best viewing angle.... not an ideal situation.

If only the PSP-2000 had some decent stands. There must be a few out there, but there are far less accessories for the PSP-2000 than there are for the original PSP-1000.

It got me remembering this link I came across where someone made an iPhone stand out of a paperclip. I totally stole used the idea to try to make a PSP stand:

I'm a bit surprised that it works.... I wouldn't want to bump it or move it too much, but it does seem to be fairly stable.

The tutorial for the iPhone paperclip stand is pretty good, much better than my pics. Worth checking out to get a good idea of how to do something like this.

Now if I could only figure out what to do about that damn bird.....


MadWorld first impressions

So I picked up MadWorld earlier this evening.

Future Shop is currently having an online Easter sale until Monday April 13, 10:00AM (EST), so it was 10% off, plus it recently had a price drop to $39.99 (the sticker underneath had it at $54.99).... making it $35.99 before tax. I chose the pick up in-store option... and was surprised that Future Shop was still open, so I just went down & got it right away. It was nice to use up that credit I got from trading in Ultimate Block Party that was burning a hole in my wallet too.

I've only been playing it a couple hours... it's ok. The thing is, there's been so much press about the game; it's ultra-violence, it's black & white style... that there aren't really any surprises.

Yes, the moves are pretty cool-- there are a bunch of gruesomely entertaining ways to kill your cannon-fodder enemies, and you pile on the moves-- it's very satisfying that way. Right now I just feel like I'm not really getting a real grip on the controls.

It doesn't help that the text is REALLY TINY... especially when you need to read how to do all the moves at the beginning of the game. Like Resident Evil 4, MadWorld is presented in widescreen, so on my 27" 4:3 CRT tv there are bars along the top & bottom of my screen. Coupled with the tiny text, it makes reading it all and navigating the map harder than it should be.

The art style is really distinctive, innovative and stylish as hell. I love the black & white look, with occasional splashes of red for blood & yellow for sound effects. The layout is like a comic book, with panels popping in during cut-scenes. I was a bit concerned at first with the monotone look that everything would blend together too much. There is a bit of that, but they were wise to *not* make the white PURE white; it's more like a dingy off-white which is easier on the eyes.

Most reviewers will probably compare the look of Madworld to Sin City, either the movie or the original comics art by Frank Miller:

But I think the look is more akin to the Deathblow comic art by Jim Lee:

Which admittedly was directly inspired by Miller's Sin City work. In any case, MadWorld's look is really great for the game.... I don't know if it's the monochrome or what, but things look very sharp and I'd say this is one of the better-looking Wii games out there.

This is a bit of a catch-22 situation here: on one hand, this is EXACTLY the type of game the Wii needs, and it should be promoted like crazy. Madworld & games like it deserve to be top-sellers. But on the other hand, I think I would've been more surprised by the over-the-top violence & feel of the game if I hadn't known so much about it beforehand. If I was only told this was an M-rated brawler beat-em-up, and popped it into my Wii... I would've been laughing my ass off at all the gory finishing moves that happen as I played it. It's still fun, but right now it's a bit clunky and I'm still feeling my way around the game.

MadWorld has a very basic menu system: there's the campaign and a multiplayer mode. Aside from audio/video options, that's basically it. The boss battles are integrated into the levels... so if you die at a boss, you're re-doing the entire level again.

The game sort of reminds me of a melee version of one of my fave PSP games, Chili Con Carnage. Both are stylish, mindless action fests that don't take themselves very seriously. My early impression of Madworld is that it's ok. Certainly fun. I hope when I learn all the moves better that things will be more fun.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

movie games

Just came across this article from Yahoo!™ Finance, about video games based on movies....

Summer movie video games seek to terminate stigma

The article is very mainstream-targeted, so you'd expect it only to cover the most basic facts of the subject. This quote stands out:

"Movie games have a bad history," said Jeff Poffenbarger, senior producer at "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" game developer Raven Software. "There is a stigma to movie games, for a thousand different reasons. They come out and they don't live up to the hype people create."

That pretty much sums up the "movie game" genre for me, and probably most of us who've played more than a few games based om movie licenses. But it's not just some vague, "a thousand different reasons" that movie games suck.

Let's be honest here.... they suck probably for some specific reasons. Like the general mentality of movie-franchise video game developers. They get a licensed property, and they pull out one of their generic game engines & try to mold it to fit the property; basically, put the movie look & characters skin over this generic gameplay engine. I've talked about all this before.

From the article:

Revenues for movie games vary, according to market researcher NPD Group. Box office popularity typically translates to game sales. For example, "Iron Man," last year's second-highest grossing film, was 2008's top-selling game based on a movie, selling a respectable 1.4 million. (A game based on "The Dark Knight," last year's No. 1 movie, wasn't released.)

"Some have done very well. Some have done OK," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier of the overall performance of licensed movie games. "I'd say the younger the target audience, the more important the license itself is in making the game successful. The older the target audience, the gameplay quality comes more to the forefront."

So basically this NPD analyst is saying that quality is secondary for movie games, especially if they're targeted at younger audiences. Nice. And as she says, they can be a major cash-cow. So of course game devs & publishers are going to try to get in on that $$$$...

It's not entirely the fault of greedy/lazy game studios trying to maximize their profits while minimzing their creative expenditures. If people avoided bad games, they'd become less & less profitable, so logically they should happen less often.

Still, it's not always easy to steer clear of temptation. I can get as starry-eyed as any gamer when games of my favourite movie franchises hit the shelves.... [movie franchise X] game comes out & I *want* it to be good, 'cause the movie was so good... y'know?

Crappy movie-based games is a major problem, and I don't know what can be done about it. Right now, I'm just waiting for the "genre" to eventually implode-- if they can't make back the money they put in to make the game-- and hopefully the movie licenses will be given out much more selectively, to studios that have A GREAT IDEA of how to use them.

But I know this is just a dream world right now.


Friday, April 10, 2009

AAXA P1 Pico Projector

This is a neat device... a portable projector that has a PSP-2000/3000 cable (sold seperately)

At first I was really interested in it for the PSP connectivity, but the projector on its own sounds pretty cool: it has 1GB of internal storage, a MicroSD card slot, and it plays a variety of video/audio formats.

The cons are the battery life is really short-- 45-60 mins, and it apparently isn't super bright (PSP owners are used to that....) plus it is kinda expensive... right now it's on sale for $240.00 U.S.

AAXA P1 PICO PROJECTOR official product page

SlashGear article about AAXA P1 PICO PROJECTOR

interesting review of AAXA P1 PICO PROJECTOR

I'm thinking that video projection is going to be the next step for portable video players. I've been very interested in seeing where portable video is going since 2006, when small mp3 players like the Sandisk e200 series started featuring video playback. It would be awesome if the next PSP had a projector in it that could blast the game/video/photo images onto a wall....


Thursday, April 9, 2009

sold Ultimate Block Party

I sold my first game.... Ultimate Block Party (PSP). I have a huge stack of games, especially PSP games, and I'd like to thin out my games library. I'm definitely a packrat who likes to keep what I buy. But I just didn't enjoy the game all that much, and I couldn't see myself playing it.

Traded it in to Future Shop-- the trade-in value was $13.20. Future Shop gives store credit. I got the value from this handy website: www.tivs.ca it's great because it lists Canadian prices, and the major Canadian stores.

Sad that most of my other games I want to get rid of have little/no trade-in value.....


Sunday, April 5, 2009

EB Game Days 2009

Last year's EB Game Days sale was one of the best... I picked up a few Wii, PSP & maybe even DS games for $10.00 each. I still haven't even opened up a copy of Monster Hunter Freedom that I got for $15.00.... yikes....

Game Days has started this year, but the deals don't seem nearly as hot.


The real score will be the unadvertised daily deals. Last year, almost every day they'd put a game out for each major system (in my case, Wii) that was $9.89.

So far, it hasn't been impressive. Things don't look like they're going to get better. Not to mention that a lot of the Wii games I'd like to get are recent releases, which I doubt will go on sale. We'll see.


Resistance: Retribution

I finished the single-player campaign of Resistance: Retribution a few days ago... I guess that seems kinda fast as I got it less than a week ago? I was pretty engrossed into it though.

Resistance: Retribution is a third-person shooter that's an odd cross between a World War II shooter and a sci-fi shooter. I have to admit, I'm just not interested in WWII games... there are so many, so I suppose there's quite an audience for them since they keep making them. I'm also not big on first-person shooters, I prefer games that have a third-person POV. I just like seeing my "guy" even if it's just the back of him (preferrably her, hehe) But I was really in the mood to get into a sci-fi shooter, and I'm happy that Resistance: Retribution is done in third-person view.

Overall my complaints about Resistance: Retribution are small ones... I think the game is pretty good for what it is. I was disappointed that it just assumed I'd already played and completed Resistance: Fall of Man on the PS3, and dropped me into the world with little to no explanation of who the Chimera are and what they're even doing here. I'm going to have to wiki that or something.

The gameplay itself is very straightforward; if you've played developer Studio Bend's previous Syphon Filter PSP games, then you'll probably feel at home with Resistance: Retribution. I'd almost call it a Syphon Filter game with a Resistance skin overlaid onto it. At one point I was going down a ladder, and without thinking I instinctively pressed ↓ (down) on the D-pad and I quickly slid down the ladder... I don't think it was mentioned in the Resistance: Retribution instruction manual to do that, but I knew that you can do it in the Syphon Filter games, and it worked here too. Stuff like zooming in on enemies is pretty much transferred from those games to this one.

Instead of having to press a button to take cover like in the Syphon Filter games, in Resistance: Retribution your character takes cover "automatically" as soon as you go up to something you can hide behind and there are enemies in range. It generally does a good job of knowing when to take cover, but it can be annoying sometimes when you're trying to go past some cover and it automatically ducks you down into it and slows you down... especially frustrating if you're trying to be fast and running to somewhere. So there are trade-offs to this new system.

But it's not like Resistance: Retribution is simply a clone of the Syphon Filter games, it isn't. The big change is the aiming box in Resistance: Retribution. There's a large area of the screen, a box where if an enemy's within it, the target locks onto that enemy... and you can switch between enemies by tapping one of the face buttons (whichever is in the direction of the enemy you want to target).... at first I was a bit skeptical of this system-- though switching targets isn't as smooth as I'd have liked-- it works pretty well. A little *too* well; in the early parts of the campaign it feels like this is going to be a complete cakewalk. But then the difficulty goes up, and I wouldn't call this an easy game exactly. It can get pretty challenging at times, though I wasn't ever outright frustrated by any broken design or straight-up difficulty curve. There are 3 levels of difficulty, which is a nice option.

At first I was a bit taken aback by the lack of a map. But it's generally pretty intuitive as to where to go... though a map would be nice, especially when you're hunting around for some hidden intel....

There are 2 levels where you drive a mech, which I love. I love mech games like MechAssault on the Xbox... I just wish there was a bit more mech levels in Resistance: Retribution What we got felt like a reward for passing some hard bits; you've been on the recieving side of a mech-stomping, now you get to be on the GIVING side, hehe.....

Because of the new targeting system, Resistance: Retribution is a faster-paced game than the Syphon Filter ones. The SF games had a stealth component to them that isn't here. It's really all about shooting up some cannon-fodder Chimera, and shooting them some more. But like the Syphon Filter games, the cover-system is really important-- you *have* to be able to take cover, and plan your attacks accordingly. It's not as focused on that tactic as the Syphon Filter games, but it's still a major part of it.

If you were playing a drinking game based on how often I mention Syphon Filter, you'd probably be on your way to being sloshed right now. I can't help it-- as cool as Resistance: Retribution is, I can't help but compare it to Studio Bends Syphon Filter games. That said, I don't feel that Resistance: Retribution's James Grayson is as interesting a character as Syphon Filter's Gabe Logan was. Gabe just seemed cooler, and he had a little bit more that he could do. And while none of these games have great storylines, I also wasn't impressed by the story for Resistance: Retribution. It just didn't grab me. Though the blend between WWII and sci-fi is a unique one. All these games are great, but a bit repetitive; as fun as they are, you're doing the same things over & over.

So Resistance: Retribution definitely lives up to Studio Bends standard of high-quality PSP games. Honestly though, if I had to choose between another Resistance game or another Syphon Filter, I'd probably prefer seeing another Syphon Filter... though I wouldn't be unhappy to see another Resistance PSP game from them either. It's just the world/story isn't all that compelling while the gameplay is.

While I wouldn't call Resistance: Retribution the perfect game, I'm feeling a bit of what's next now... I'm left wanting more, but in a good way. I didn't want it to end... but there is some replayability in the form of finding hidden evidence-- err, I mean Intel (yup guess where they got that from-- I'm not going to type Syphon Filter again-- d'oh!!) and skill points when you do some special task like kill the first hybrid in a level, etc. This unlocks additional weapons & game development info.

This is the second time I've wanted to actually contact a game studio to thank them for making a great game... the first time being Krome's Star Wars: Force Unleashed games..... I never did find an easy contact for Krome, maybe I'll look to see if Studio Bend can be contacted. I bitch so much about broken/half-assed created games, that I really want to thank studios that make GREAT games.....


Thursday, April 2, 2009


I really like the Darth Vader face on the back of my PSP(s).... but imagine if we could put whatever artwork *WE*-- PSP owners-- wanted on the back of our PSPs?

I heard about this site from an episode of EP Daily... Coveroo is some sort of laser-etching service that puts custom artwork onto cellphones and other gadgets.

It looks like they can etch onto metal and plastic. The news story says Coveroo etches onto faceplates and mails those to the customers, rather than having to send in the whole device... though from the pics, it looks like etches can be done directly onto the back, like with the iPods & iPhones.

I'm going to email them & see if they will do PSPs, since the battery cover for the PSP-2000/3000 is easy to pick up seperately and smooth enough put an image on (obviously)... I do have that spare plain white battery cover... though I suspect that a darker colour like black or even silver might be better to etch on....

It's just a really intriguing idea if I could get whatever picture I wanted on the back of my beloved PSP.... I don't even know what I'd want....


[EDIT:] They sure got back to me fast!

Sent: Thursday, April 02, 2009 12:00 PM
To: Customer Service
Subject: Sony PSP coveroos?


Would it be possible to have a Coveroo on the back of my Sony PSP-2001, if I mailed the battery cover in? Do you have PSP-2001 battery covers available to place Coveroo images on?



Sent: Thu 4/02/09 12:12 PM
To: Don

Hi Don!

You bet! You can purchase here, mail it to the address below and send us the art you want via e mail. Let me know if you have any questions!


Coveroo Inc
333 Bryant St Suite LL120
San Francisco, CA 94107



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