Handheld Addict

PS VitaPSPPSPgoWii3DSDS LiteXboxGame Boy Micromp3 playersMobileGadgetsgeneral

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Google sucks - quit forcing "features" on us!

Awesome, it seems that Google celebrated its 12th birthday by forcing autocomplete upon its users when we try to type in search words.... well, re-forcing upon us, as that's the default that used to be able to be turned off-- which I did as soon as I could.

But the last couple days, the autocomplete turned back on, even though in my settings I have it clearly set to off. It's still set to off, yet it still tries to dump a bunch of useless words on me before I can finish typing the actual word I want. I can't turn off Google's autocomplete.

It's basically this problem, and their "solution" is to use a different URL to access Google. Good going.

Google, you need to smarten up. Why didn't you learn from the wallpaper fiasco which you also forced on us a couple months back where the first thing people searched for was "change Google wallpaper".

[EDIT]: It seems that the autocomplete feature can't be turned off. As quoted from a Google employee in this thread:

" As Autocomplete quality has improved, we felt it was appropriate to have it always on for all of our users."

Always on... for ALL users, regardless of whether we want it or not? Yeah, forcing people to use something... way to be evil, Google....


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

ZAGG 75% OFF sale

I've been fairly quiet recently, but I had to post about this:

ZAGG (makers of the Invisible Shield screen protectors) is having a pretty good sale. Among their other products, it seems they have the Invisible Shield for 75% off for certain devices, like the DSi & PSPgo. There are others on the list, check this link for the deets.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II

I bought Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II (GC) a long time ago, but I kept holding out for a GameCube controller that has rumble (my Wavebird doesn't)... but it's kinda dumb to not use the Wavebird just because it doesn't have rumble, so I've been playing it the last couple of days on my Wii....

Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II is one amazing looking game, especially for a GameCube game... between this & Resident Evil 4, they must be two of the best looking games for the system.

But...... Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II is one of the best looking games-- that is broken beyond hope. The look & feel of the game is so faithful to the Star Wars movies that it's an amazing achievement. Unfortunately, it comes at the expense of playability.

Let me put it plainly: space is really dark. TIE Fighters are really dark. So it's nearly impossible to see the enemies. You have a targeting computer that can highlight them as long as you constantly hold down the button. But the game *severely punishes you* for using the targeting computer at all. (game developer) Factor 5 is probably thinking, "Hey, Luke Skywalker never needed no targeting computer! And he managed to shoot down everything!" You know what? He managed to shoot down everything because it was IN THE F'N SCRIPT YOU DINGBATS! You can't just cripple gameplay to make it look "authentic". A game has to be playable, you know. And then there are obscure mission goals compounded by not being able to make anything out, so it's a lot of guesswork.

The production values of this game are so good that it's a crying shame that it's so ridiculously unfun. Factor 5 is infamous for their botching of the game Lair, while I haven't played that one I can imagine why they were so panned. Lair looks good but apparently plays like crap. I guess Factor 5 should just disappear & not come back. But there's so much talent there with the production values that something should be done with at least some portion of the company talent pool.

Factor 5 made a major mistake that a lot of companies make: it completely eludes them that a game needs to be playable by people who AREN'T part of its developer team, that a game needs to be playable by people who HAVEN'T played the game 8 hours a day for months during its coding & construction.

There are only about 10 missions, so maybe they're trying to extend the gameplay by making it super hard so as not to let players breeze through it too quick.

Such a beautiful looking game. What a waste.


Monday, August 2, 2010

iPad/Macbook Pro

I finally got a hands-on with the iPad at London Drugs about a week ago.... and I have to say, on first inspection it is one impressive piece of kit. I was amazed by how small it is, and light. It also doesn't seem to get too hot-- though I'd wonder whether that's the case during prolonged real use. There is a real smoothness to the interface, it is just like an iPhone in that regard.

So I've been crushing a bit on the iPad.... but lately I've really taken a shine to the Macbook Pro. Yes it's overpriced but the overall package is elegant. Metal body, illuminated keyboard, not too much screen bezel and a huge trackpad...

I still really like my Toshiba NB-205 netbook, but like anything, there are little issues about it. The body looks fairly nice and at least it isn't too much of a fingerprint magnet... but there's still a bit of a cheapness in the materials-- it's got a plastic body, the keyboard area flexes a bit. I've been noticing a bit of a clicking noise when I hit the PgDn (page down) button. The trackpad buttons are nice & big but they click very loudly, a lot of times I tap the pad so as not to make so much noise, but tapping the trackpad isn't as responsive as a physical button.

But my biggest problem isn't hardware, it's the OS. I'm getting pretty tired of the Windows OS being so vulnerable to malware. It would be nice to not have that worry all the time... I'd still run a firewall & anti-virus on a Macbook, but there is just much more peace of mind knowing it's not quite as big a target as Windows.

Man, a Macbook Pro would be nice... but my NB-205 isn't quite a year old yet. There's no GOOD reason to get another computer at this point. But I'm pretty sure that my next computer will be a Macbook. I'm really leaning that way at this point.


Saturday, July 31, 2010

3DS 2nd hands-on

Check out this vid... GameSpot UK got a bit of a hands-on with the Nintendo 3DS in London:

Even though they weren't allowed to film it turned on *_* there's a little bit of action with the analogue nub slide pad which looks pretty cool. They keep saying that it's "better than the PSP" but I'm not sure why people think that... because it's larger, or it feels better? I wonder with its smooth top if the thumb will grip it as well as the PSPs textured one, especially during a marathon session of gaming when the hand gets sweatty....

At this point, about all I got left to say about the vid is.... why, helloooooo Ms. Jane Douglas.....


Wii games to get rid of

Man.... I need to free up some space. I've been going through my games stockpile, and there are a bunch I think I simply need to get rid of. Some of them I've played, enjoyed, but I'm pretty sure I won't play again-- like Deadly Creatures-- others I've played, did not like them nearly as much as I thought I would-- like House of the Dead: Overkill-- and others are games that I just couldn't really get into.... I don't think I'm an RPG fan (Jeanne D'Arc) or an RTS fan (Field Commander)

So here's my pile of games to get rid of... there are more PSP games not pictured.

This is just maybe 1/4 of my game collection? I don't know. All I know is I keep my Wii/Xbox games in a cabinet, and this pile are games that can't fit in there. I need to sell off some games before I can buy more....

There are 2 must-buy games on my list for the rest of this year: Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii) and Ace Combat: Joint Assault (PSP). Hopefully I'll keep my games impulse-buying to a minimum before then....


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Charlie's Angels code?

A follow-up on my previous posting about the PS Store promo where they were giving a free download for Canadian PSN members who visited the PS Store between July 1-14, 2010.

Yeah.... about that code for the Charlie's Angels free download..... I suspect I'm not going to get it.

It's July 28, and still no email from Sony with the code. I've heard other people got their codes. But so far, I've gotten bumpkiss.

I can't explain it, but I feel like I'm on a "no freebies list" for some reason. I've talked about how I signed up and got emails saying I was getting free UMD demos 3 times-- and *none* of them were sent out.

And recently, I got an email from Sony about changes to their TOS or something.... the email was ENTIRELY in french. I've NEVER listed french as my language, nor clicked on any french options with any Playstation site. It wasn't even a bilingual email, with english & french... it was all french.

Sometimes when I get email updates from Playstation, they overcapitalize my name, like as if someone hit the CAPS LOCK key by mistake. What's bizarre is that it happens sometimes, not all the time. Is someone at Sony seriously typing out my name EVERY time they send out an email? This isn't all in their account records?

Things like this make me wary of Sony Computer Entertainment... my experience with them has been clunky, to say the least....

I did get the code for the free demo of ModNation Racers (PSP) and amazingly it worked, so maybe that's why I had my hopes up. And who knows, maybe I will get the Charlie's Angels code soon.... I'll go check my email.... but it's not that I'm dying to watch Charlie's Angels again, it's the principle of the thing.

Sony, just try not to suck so much.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ace Combat Joint Assault demo (Japanese)

Awesome... PS Forum member Gamble_STARS posted a link to a PSP demo (in Japanese) for Ace Combat Joint Assault! (he posted 2 links, but they are just mirrors of the same zip file)

[Check out the post here]

Direct links to the demo:


The demo is 117 MBs big(!)... I'm downloading it as I type. Can't wait to play it-- I've said it before, Ace Combat Joint Assault is my most anticipated game... out of all my consoles even... though I must admit Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii) is also right up there on my drool-meter.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Update 6.30 fixes PSPgo pause game feature?

A followup to my post about the PSPgo's PAUSE GAME feature: I mentioned that every time you use it, it erases any previous save points in VIDEO, MUSIC, etc.

It seems that the latest PSPgo firmware update 6.30 seems to fix that. I noticed that after pausing a game, I could go back to my previously watched video and it would resume where I left off, same with music (very handy when we're talking about hour-long+ podcasts)

I don't think it was mentioned that 6.30 fixes this issue, I guess it's a little hidden bonus. I'm using the PAUSE GAME feature a lot more now!


Monday, July 12, 2010

PSPgo creaky Dpad

I recorded this video because some idjits on the PlayStation forums denying that the PSPgo has a creaky/squeaky Dpad. So this is my PSPgo:

I wouldn't say it's any worse than the PSP-1000 or PSP-2000 squeakiness. And despite the noise, the buttons & Dpad do feel different on the PSPgo than those models... the PSPgo has a much shorter press & a click feel to them than the PSP-K series.

Man, it's embarrassing to be a PSP owner sometimes... I seriously have to wonder how low are the I.Q.s of many PSP owners??? Sometimes I chalk it up to them being 13-year-old boys.... American 13 year old boys....

  • American
  • 13 years old
  • Boy
  • Gamer

=4x the dumbness?? Sorry for being a jerk, but they just piss me off so much sometimes. (and to be fair you can also substitute "Canadian" for "American" in that equation also) The point is that even if YOUR PSP does/doesn't do something, it doesn't mean that EVERY PSP is like that.

Anyway, how bored am I that I have to make a video like that & post it to YouTube. Oh well.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Excitebots:Trick Racing

I bought Excitebots: Trick Racing from Walmart a few days ago for $20.00.... that's the lowest I've seen it, though I heard Rogers Plus has it for $15.00-- I couldn't find any at my local ones.

Excitebots: Trick Racing is an arcade style racer with a very weird theme. You're racing with robots that are based on animals: frogs (see cover), bats, birds, grasshoppers, etc. these robots have wheels, but they can also walk (run) upright when you get a wrench power up. Speaking of power-ups, there are a bunch of neat ones that score you stars (points) while racing... you can knock a big soccer ball into a net, or run over a bunch of bowling pins, and there's a race mode where you race while playing Poker.... like I said, it's kinda weird. And they don't explain WHY you're racing with giant animal-themed robots, you just gotta go with it. Why? Why NOT, eh?? Fair enough...

One thing I really like is that it's not entirely about winning a race. You have to get a certain number of stars to get a good score to unlock the next round of play. You can collect stars by using power-ups, doing tricks and of course winning the race. But you could not win the race and still "win" by having enough stars.

It's a fun game that's fast with cheesy music.... unfortunately there's no custom soundtrack option like there was with the previous game Excite Truck..... probably stupid Nintendo's fault for removing mp3 playback support on the Wii.....

But the game overall feels sort of like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smash-Up; what is here is good, but there's not a lot to it. The race tracks are not bad looking-- there's one in Canada, yay!-- but they are a bit generic, and there's not very many of them. The game really counts on players replaying the same tracks over & over again.

If this game was $10.00, it'd be a great deal. For $20.00, it's a little high priced, compared to the play value I got out of No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle which was the same price.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

PSP deals at Rogers Plus

I've just heard that Rogers Plus stores have some really good deals on PSP consoles right now:

PSPgo (not sure if it's the 3 game bundle) - $124.99

PSP Rockband bundle - $99.99

Other PSP bundles, PSP games & accessories - 50% off

Killer deals! I will be checking it out ASAP though I *won't* buy another PSP console, because I have too many already!


Friday, July 2, 2010

PS Video Store finally comes to Canada

July 1 marked the debut of movies/tv on the Playstation Store for Canada. Right now, there is a promotion where you can get a copy of Charlie's Angels if you visit the PS Store between July 1-14, 2010 (with your account logged in)

I'm not sure if it's a rental version of Charlie's Angels or we can "own" it, and I'm not sure how we get the redemption code, it's supposed to be emailed to us after visiting. I bet it won't happen for a while.

But to access the PS Store, PSPs need to have the latest firmware update, 6.30. It only offers a very minor update to the GAME folders, apparently to seperate Neo-Geo game content from PlayStation content..... but that's not the REAL reason for the update, of course. The *real* reason is to block the Patapon 2 demo exploit that can be used to load homebrew-- even on a PSPgo.

So that's why there's been such a long period of time without any PSP firmware updates, then this one comes along. Sony forgot about the PSP until someone hacked it again. But if you're not interested in this homebrew exploit, then it's probably worth it to update especially if you intend to access the PS Store. As annoying as it is, I will be updating right after I type up this post....

I'm not sure how I feel about buying video from the PS Store. I was looking at the rental section and the prices seem to be around $4.99 (plus tax) I want to see Paranormal Activity, but when I did a search all it came up with was an option to buy it for like $19.99... I don't want to *buy* it, just watch it once. I don't get why there would be some movies that you can only buy & not rent... I dunno.

UPDATE: I was just logged into the PS Store on my PSPgo, and one of the "frames" of the page had a message saying thanks for visiting the Store! Your voucher will be emailed after July 14.... something like that.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

E3 2010 big winner - Nintendo 3DS

Pretty much what I expected, the 3DS looks to deliver the goods, and maybe a few surprises... though also a few too many predicted features that don't look like they're happening.

Basically, it is a DS with 3-D capabilities. But the added analogue nub-- I think they call it "slide control"-- as well as the extra-wide top 3-D screen... give it that bit of added cool that I was looking for. Basically, those features make it look like a PSP was mushed into the DS design a bit.

Honestly, the analogue nub was the feature I was most excited about. I actually like having a joystick control for games, and with that on the 3DS, I'm hoping we'll see a lot more "3D" games (not the visual effect 3-D, but you know, the perspective of looking over the character's back or even first person as opposed to top-down view or side-scrolling)

Keeping with that desire for more 3D action games on the DS, I would actually be very cool with the idea of a future Star Wars Battlefront game being on the 3DS, and keeping the traditional 3D perspective unlike the isometric top-down view in the DS version of Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron. Hopefully we'll stop seeing developers "dumb down" games for the DS if the 3DS can pump out PSP-level processing.

One of the 3DS surprises for me was the 2 cameras on the front. So it can take pictures in 3-D, which is kinda cool... I like it more than the regular camera of the DSi because it's now unique.

I'm also getting pretty excited about the 3DS's announced games list:


* DJ Hero 3D

AQ Interactive

* Cubic ninja


* Shin Megami Tensei
* Shin Megami Tensei: Persona
* Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor


* Resident Evil Revelations
* Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition (name not final)


* EA FIFA Soccer
* Madden NFL
* The Sims 3


* Asphalt DS


* Music Game

Hudson Soft

* Bomberman franchise
* Deca Sports franchise
* Kororinpa franchise


* Baseball franchise
* Contra franchise
* Frogger franchise
* Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D "The Naked Sample"
* Pro Evolution Soccer franchise / Winning Eleven franchise


* Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle (name not final)

Majesco Entertainment

* BloodRayne: The Shroud
* A Boy and His Blob
* Face Racers: Photo Finish
* Lion's Pride: Adventures on the Serengeti
* Martha Stewart
* WonderWorld Amusement Park


* Bokujyoumonogatari (Harvest Moon) 3D (name not final)


* Dragon Ball franchise (name not final)
* Gundam franchise (name not final)
* PAC-MANTM & GALAGATM (name not final)
* Ridge Racer (name not final)
* Super Robot franchise (name not final)


* Animal Crossing Kid Icarus: Uprising
* Mario Kart
* nintendogs + cats
* Paper Mario
* PilotWings Resort
* Star Fox 64 3D
* Steel Diver


* Crash-City GP
* VS-robo


* Sonic (name not final)
* Super Monkey Ball (name not final)

Square Enix

* CODENAME: Chocobo Racing
* 3D Dragon Quest franchise
* Final Fantasy franchise
* Kingdom Hearts franchise

Take-Two Interactive

* Carnival Games franchise

Tecmo Koei

* Dead or Alive 3D (name not final)
* Dynasty Warriors (name not final)
* Ninja Gaiden (name not final)
* Samurai Warriors 3D (name not final)


* Lovely Lisa 3D
* Naruto Shippuden Action


* de Blob 2
* Kung Fu Panda
* Kaboom of Doom
* Marvel Super Hero Squad
* Infinity Gauntlet
* The Penguins of Madagascar
* Puss N Boots
* Saints Row: Drive-By


* Assassin's Creed: Lost Legacy
* Battle of Giants: Dinosaur Strike
* Driver Renegade Hollywood 61 (name not final)
* Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon
* Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory

Warner Bros

* Batman franchise
* LEGO franchise

There are quite a few more "hardcore" games on the list, which really surprises me. Right now I'm psyched for a new Ridge Racer, Resident Evil(!), Kororinpa, BloodRayne, Saints Row...

Like I said with the PSP post, with the action titles & long-standing franchises like Metal Gear Solid, it looks like they're going after the remaining PSP-fanbase, saying, "that ship is going down, just come on over to the DS already... we're going to give you some hardcore gaming that the dead PSP won't supply anymore because all the devs have fled it (and come over to us)..." this kind of thinking really surprises me because "hardcore" games haven't done as well as hoped on the DS... people often cite poor sales of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars as a prime example. I hope that third-party devs & Nintendo are going to give it more tries.

But there are a few disappointments with this initial announcement of the 3DS. Like WHEN and HOW MUCH???? But also, yes it has an analogue nub... but only ONE. *Gulp*... did no one learn anything from the PSP?????? It might be argued that the Wii only has one analogue stick, but given the problems with controlling 3D games on that system, it's not a benefit. Maybe developers will run into the same frustrations that the PSP gave them when trying to create 3D action games.... not having a 2nd analogue nub to control look. though I still contend that using the face buttons for look/camera control is adequate, even if it's not as good as having a 2nd analogue nub. But it's just as adequate for the PSP which a lot of people/devs seem to disagree with...

Also, even though Nintendo hinted at movie playback by saying we can watch 3-D movies on it (another big surprise to me because Nintendo firmly believes in categorizing their systems as "toys" instead of media players like the PSP. Yes, the DSi has a bit of music/picture capabilities, but it's so limited and they really tried to turn those features into "games") so even though there's the promise of video playback on the 3DS, I'm highly doubtful that it will be as good as the PSP, that we'd even be able to load movies onto the 3DS ourselves. I'm betting movie functionality will be limited to downloading purchased vids from the Nintendo network or whatever. That would suck & I wouldn't bother, I'm not interested in DRMed video that I have to pay for.

And... it looks like rumble is not on the system. That was another of the many rumours swirling about, and I knew it was a long shot.

The bottom line is that even though there are a few nice additions, it still seems like a DS, with 3-D added onto it... rather than a fully new system. I'd like to see the top screen a bit bigger too.

Still, Nintendo has hit... not quite a home run yet, but it's sailing long & high right now. I'm excited for the 3DS & I'm pretty sure I've already decided to buy it.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

E3 2010 big loser - PSP

Man... I can't believe what callous neglect everyone is showing the PSP this E3.

The only announcement seems to be:

"that 70 PSP games will be released "between now and December."

That's it. No details on WHAT most of the games will be (besides Patapon 3).... or anything. 70 games *should* sound awesome. But here's where I think that it goes south in a big way:

  • How many of those 70 games are PSP Minis? How many of them are not only PSP Minis, but PORTS of iPhone games or whatnot?

  • How many of those games are movie tie-ins that are put on every console anyway?

  • How many of those games are Japan-exclusive?

What if like 50 of the 70 games are PSP Minis or movie tie-ins? That would be a SUCKY 70 games list, wouldn't it?

Sure, we know that God of War: Ghosts of Sparta is in development, and there may be a few other high profile PSP games as well. But the bulk of that 70? PSP minis, or movie tie-ins... or Japanese exclusives that we'll never see here....

Where's the LIST of those "70 PSP games"? The 3DS has a list of upcoming games at least. Don't just announce "there's 70 PSP games coming kthanxbai".

And not getting any announcement of a PSP2..... that just feels like a REALLY BAD sign. You know the end of the movie Se7en where Morgan Freeman's character is all set to retire, but he can't? That's where I feel like that's where the PSP is right now. A dead horse. But I'm not saying that it's not still a good platform-- I use my PSPgo every day (mostly to watch taped TV shows)-- and there's still some joy in the system playing the best PSP games of the past. Just not anything new.

By not announcing a PSP2, Sony is basically saying that they have no idea how to counter Nintendo's handheld strategy. They have no answer to the 3DS. And looking at some of the upcoming games announced for the 3DS, with titles like Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, and Saint's Row it looks like it's going after the PSP audience, like it's saying, "you few PSPers left out there, we hear you and are ready to absorb you into our fold. We know how abandoned you are, so here are a few morsels of games to bring you over from that dead system to our living one."

I have no idea what a PSP 2 should be like... what should it have that would set it apart from an iPhone or DS? Yes, 2 analogue nubs, great graphics, touchscreen, well-rounded media capabilities. But what would position it to succeed more than the PSP? I don't know.

And it looks like Sony has no idea either.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

E3 2010 coming soon

I've been looking forward to the news to come out of this year's E3 for months.... obviously for me, the big bit of news I'm most looking forward to is more info about Nintendo's 3DS.

At this point, nobody knows how it will work, really. But it's scary how LITTLE gaming websites actually know about 3-D in general. Even scarier when tech sites like Engadget also show little/no knowledge of the tech.

I'm certainly no expert, but I have seen the no-glasses-3-D in action, at the Shanghai airport last year. I've also seen the glasses-required-Samsung 3-D-TV on display at Future Shop. People keep comparing all 3-D to the movie Avatar... but if you've actually seen a few sources of 3-D on a smaller scale, you'd realize how idiotic such comparisons are.

Here's how I think the 3-D will look like with the 3DS: imagine the screen being a box, about 1 inch deep. Now imagine the objects in the box-- let's say Mario in a Super Mario Bros. game-- look like paper cutouts, placed at different depths within that 1 inch box. Nothing comes OUT of the screen, just like actors don't leap out of the stage onto your lap while performing a play.

I suspect the 3DS will just make it look like the screen has a bit of depth behind it. It won't be revolutionary, but maybe that will be kind of cool depending on if the developers have enough imagination to make use of it.

I have to admit I can't remember exactly what the images on the "no glasses" 3-D TVs at the Shanghai airport looked like, whether they popped out of the screen or what (I think they did, a bit) but I do distinctly remember that the glasses-required Samsung 3-D TV only had a "inside a box" effect when playing Monsters vs. Aliens.

The other big news *might* be the announcement of PSP2. But it's so iffy that Sony will drop the announcement at E3, it's hard to have my hopes up. I'd like to see it, I think it's PAST time they released a truly next generation version of the PSP, with **TWO ANALOGUE NUBS ALREADY**.....ahem. Sorry, but come on. We all know it should have them. That's the single biggest mistake Sony made with the PSP, and considering all the mistakes they have made, that's saying a lot.

Because of those 2 news items, this E3 is my most anticipated in years. I sure hope they don't disappoint.


Monday, June 7, 2010

lots of malware going around lately

So I spent most of last week trying to clean my PC from some nasty malware infections. I'm not sure where exactly it came from, but I think it was Megaupload-- I suspect that they sold banner ad space to someone using it to distribute malware. So right now I'd highly advise DO NOT go to Megaupload.

Man, do I ever hate malware. I try to keep everything updated, I always have Windows Update set to automatic, I even try to pay attention to the 2nd Tuesday of every month-- that's the usual schedule for Microsoft updates. I use Firefox. I have an anti-virus & firewall.

But banner ads delivering spyware still manage to get by... it's pretty damn aggravating. I was very stressed out most of last week.

I think I'm ok now, but I am very wary of being online.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Firefox 3.6 sucks

Ever since I updated to the latest version of Firefox (3.6.3) when I double-click on it, most of the time it doesn't even open. I see the hard drive moving so it's loading it, but then it doesn't actually open until I open another program or window.

Maybe it's because I'm using Windows XP, and/or that my hard drive needs defragmenting (it's really full)... but it does take a long time for it to open on my netbook using Windows 7 as well. I'm pretty sure it's longer than previous versions.

Why does Firefox have to be so sucky now??? Why can't it be good like it used to be???


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is simply not as good as Super Mario Galaxy. It isn't-- and anyone declaring the opposite is LYING.

Well, everyone's entitled to their opinion. But I can tell you why Super Mario Galaxy 2 is not as good as the first game:

  • Too much pseudo 2-D: the best suit from Super Mario Galaxy is the Bee Costume, which makes a welcome return in SMG2. But, they confine the use to levels with 2-D platforming. HOW can THAT be an IMPROVEMENT over the past game which had levels that let you fly around in 3-D environments??? Verdict: Worse than Super Mario Galaxy.

  • They made a crappy mini-game even worse: SMG1 had the riding-the-manta race levels, which were jittery & a chore to get through. But in Super Mario Galaxy 2, it gets even WORSE with the riding-a-bird levels... you can only use the wiimote, twist it left/right to turn (fine) but tilt down to speed up AND go down, and tilt up to slow down-- but NOT GO UP. Yes, you can NOT fly upwards in this level, ONLY down. It's a completely moronic control scheme where the speed up/down controls could've been mapped to buttons. Verdict: Worse than Super Mario Galaxy.

  • The camera is worse. How do you wreck a camera? By having it too close to Mario we can't see as much of the level... and being able to see a level is KIND OF important in a platforming game. Verdict: Worse than Super Mario Galaxy.

So these factors alone should rate it lower than the original Super Mario Galaxy, yet it's getting higher scores-- perfect scores--- despite having glaring problems. This is like when the final Lord of the Rings movie got all the Oscars, obviously it isn't the "best"-- each movie in the trilogy is just a piece of the story-- but they didn't want to give all 3 of them a bunch of Oscars, so they saved it till the last. Maybe reviewers are trying to make up for not scoring the first Super Mario Galaxy as high as they should've/would like to, and so they're overdoing it now... at the expense of people new to the franchise who don't know about shitty game politics like this.

I'm almost at the final world, and I decided to pop in the first Super Mario Galaxy and play that a bit, to see if things were actually better for the first game. And I'm sad to say that yeah, they were. The music is much better, it feels epic & fun, as well as the level design & even the handling of Mario seems smoother. One of my big gripes about Super Mario Galaxy 2 is that Mario is so damn sluggish. He takes about 3-4 seconds to recover from a hit! So most of the time during his recovery animation he gets knocked off of a platform and dies. Stupid.

All the pseudo 2-D shoe-horned into the game, the galaxy (level) select is made to look just like older Super Mario games like New Super Mario Bros.... how does it make sense to have a linear select path in space??? But much worse is that there's too much 2-D in the levels themselves. All this feels like they're trying to make Super Mario Galaxy 2 more like the older Mario games, which is stupid and a waste of not only 3-D movement capabilities but the uniqueness of the Super Mario Galaxy franchise. Why would it need to "feel" like the previous 2-D Super Mario games???

New costumes like the rock & cloud suit are ok, but Yoshi isn't nearly as fun to play with as he should be. Yoshi levels often require you to aim, eat jump and shoot pretty much simultaneously. All those are mapped to the Wiimote and it feels like too much. Plus the level design for the dash peppers-- whoever came up with those levels needs to be kicked in the head.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is not all bad. At it's best, it is like Super Mario Galaxy. There's now checkpoints so you don't have to start all the way at the beginning. The graphics may be a little bit better, but I don't think the design is as good so I wouldn't say so. And it is more of Super Mario Galaxy, so for those who need more of it, this is about the only option. The developers were honest when they admitted that Super Mario Galaxy 2 started off as a "1.5" expansion pack, because this is essentially what Super Mario Galaxy 2 is. Not the worst game ever, but it doesn't live up to the very high standards that were set with the first game.

The Crap in Super Mario Galaxy 2

Super Mario Galaxy 2 initial thoughts


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Google Pac-Man permanent!

Awesome! That great playable Google Pac-Man logo is still around, Google has made a permanent link for it:




Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Crap in Super Mario Galaxy 2

To all you reviewers who gave Super Mario Galaxy 2 perfect 10's: SHUT THE HELL UP.

Seriously, it is not better than the first game. It is simply more of the same, with minor additions that are NOT improvements. They add new features to the gameplay but they don't IMPROVE the gameplay. The cloud & rock suits are cumbersome & not all that fun. Even Yoshi is not all that fun-- the speed peppers levels are awful. And the Bee Suit, which was the best suit from the first game, is back but it's penned in to a 2-D level design. In fact there's way more pseudo 2-D in this game and how can THAT be an improvement???

I'm starting to realize a fundamental flaw in platform gaming that has rarely been addressed in all the decades that the genre has been around: the "all or nothing" principle. Either you do it 100% or you can't do it at all. It may've been understandable to have games with that constrained of mission structure when the genre was invented in the '80's. But come ON already-- games have to evolve.

A good example is Marble Saga Kororinpa. It gets mediocre review scores, and one of the main complaints is the difficulty traversing the levels. I disagree, but the real point is that Marble Saga Kororinpa does one thing that helps alleviate the difficulty & improves gameplay immensely-- in each stage you're trying to collect crystals, parts & bonus items. Say you get 75% through a stage, collecting a few crystals & die. You'll either restart at a checkpoint or the beginning.... but those crystals you've collected STAY in your collection, you don't have to get them again. This is a major thing because it's so annoying & endlessly frustrating to do nearly a perfect run, stick your neck out to collect that rare object tucked somewhere very hard to get at, but you do get it-- just to make one mistake & die.... then you have to somehow do that perfect run AGAIN. By taking that out of the equation, there's still challenge in Marble Saga Kororinpa because you still have to make it to the end of the stage. It just cuts down on the huge annoyance factor of games that demand perfect platforming every time.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is automatically a lesser game because it stubbornly sticks to a less advanced platforming philosophy of "all or nothing", and if you mess up 95% of the way through, you have to get all the 1-95% of what you collected back again. The only concession the devs make to sort of combat the all-or-nothing is to have a Cosmic Guide that plays the game for you. But again, that's an "all or nothing" philosophy: they're saying "Either you play it or we play it. Those are the only options." The clueless developers didn't actually fix the core problem. How about not having infinite respawning enemies every time you die? How about NOT including broken flying controls or stupidly impossible chasing bunnies levels? They weren't fun the first time, why would they be fun again??

Mario is so sluggish, when he gets hit he takes about 4 seconds to get up! Why even bother having it knock off 1 health when it takes him so freaking long to get back up that he gets knocked off walkways & cliffs anyway??

Super Mario Galaxy 2 should really be called Super Mario Leftovers because that's all the game is really.... levels that didn't make the cut the first tine around are dusted off & repackaged as a sequel. The game is not as polished as the first; once you accept some challenge modes it will restart the challenge infinite times until you either pass or run out of men, or pause the game & exit. Obviously programmers screwed up & forgot to offer a retry Y/N screen like in the first game. Just so many little missing things like this that make the game less than the previous.

I feel awful to have exorbitantly overpaid for this game. In a perfect world, video game developers who rest on mediocrity & "tradition" should be punished with plummeting game sales, but the video game industry is far from a perfect world.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Super Mario Galaxy 2 - initial thoughts

So I picked up Super Mario Galaxy 2 - day 1 purchase. I couldn't find any deals, so paid full price for it.... $59.99 + GST + PST... came out to like $67.00-something..... ouch. At least I had a gift card, so I only paid about $3.00-something of my own $$$... but still, I almost paid more for Super Mario Galaxy 2 than about the *last 4 Wii games* I bought...... hmmm....

Tornado Outbreak (ugh.. sucked) - $10.00
Marble Saga Kororinpa (awesome!) - $10.00
No More Heroes 2 (pretty good) - $20.00
House of the Dead: Overkill (disappointing, but may get better with repeated plays) - $15.00

But I really loved the first SMG, so it's probably worth it. UPDATE: it wasn't.

However... I do have to say..... the reviews for Super Mario Galaxy 2 are WAY TOO HIGH.

They keep saying how this is NOT more of the same, that it's better than the original Super Mario Galaxy, etc.

I've only just started playing about an hour or so into it, so maybe I'm not far enough in? And while yes, it is cool & fun as the first game, and there are new suits like the Cloud Suit... reviewers are flat-out LYING when they say it's not more of the same. IT IS MORE OF THE SAME. I'm not saying there aren't a few new twists like Yoshi. There are, and they're nice.

But there are a lot of little things that are not as cool & "Wow!" as the first Super Mario Galaxy. They streamlined the galaxy select menu to make it a path just like the other Mario games like New Super Mario Bros (Wii & DS). Also, space seems less... space, and more like sky. As seen in the screenshot at the top corner of this posting, that is Starship Mario (cool idea) and it's supposed to be floating in "space", but it looks like sky, right? I really miss the cosmic feel of the original game, it felt big & epic. These changes kinda restrain the game feel even though they may make it easier to select levels to play.

Also the music. I was really blown away by some of the music of the first Super Mario Galaxy, but so far, in Super Mario Galaxy 2, not so much. It's not bad, mind you, but again, not an epic, cosmic feel.

The camera is NOT improved, it is exactly the same as before, with all the flaws of the old fixed camera system. Reviews that say otherwise are lying.

Most of these issues may seem like nit-picking-- maybe they are. The actual gameplay is pretty much what it was in the first game, and while that was great, if you have the same as the previous entry, but some of the minor issues are LESS good than the previous, that means that the second game is NOT as good as the first, right? How can it be if at best it equals the first game, but other parts aren't as good?

Both IGN & Gamespot, I think they gave Super Mario Galaxy 2 a perfect 10 out of 10. That just seems too high if it is slightly not as good as the first game.

And while you don't have to have played the first game to enjoy the second, you really should play the first before playing Super Mario Galaxy 2. It does show you the basic moves but the game right from the outset assumes you have played & know the moves & have fought the previous bosses.

It isn't a bad game at all, but please don't swallow all the hype blindly. I don't know what's gotten into these reviewers.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

House of the Dead: Overkill

I bought The House of the Dead: Overkill a couple days ago from Best Buy for $14.99. I've been wanting this game for a long time, and that's a pretty good price. But so far I'm fairly disappointed in certain aspects of the game.

The House of the Dead: Overkill is an on-rails light gun style shooter where you shoot zombies... err, "mutants"-- for some reason the game insists on not calling them zombies, I think it's a running joke from the previous HotD games, but they never actually explain it here. The presentation is another tongue-in-cheek humourous style-- this time wholly inspired by Grindhouse style '60's-'70's movies. The overall idea and especially the music are pretty nicely done. But the humour almost tries too hard to effectively elicit big laughs from me.

My biggest problem with the gameplay is that the images are waaaaay too dark on the screen. You can't see ANYTHING. It's a black background with black stuff that you wave your target reticle over and you know it's a zombie mutant because your reticle turns red. I get that it's supposed to be action-horror, but it's just not enjoyable not being able to see *anything*... even the cutscenes are like this. It's impossible to play this game unless the room is completely dark, and even then you can't see much on the screen. And the only adjustments you can make are to the audio-- no contrast/brightness adjustments at all??? Moronic oversight.

If you look up screenshots of the gameplay, you'll notice that they usually have a greenish tinge... that's because someone tweaked the contrast up... there's no greenish tinge here & thus, it's not possible to see much in the actual game. Drives me nuts.

I'm going to play this a bit more, hope I'll warm up to it.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Playable Pac-Man Google logo

Cool.... in honour of Pac-Man's 30th anniversary, Google made a celebratory logo, which isn't unusual, they do it a lot.

But this one is actually playable! Nice one, Google.

Speaking of Pac-Man, Namco-Bandai is one of those game companies that doesn't get a lot of respect, but they've published a lot of games for PSP. A few of my favourites like Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception, Ridge Racer & Me & My Katamari, but there are many more.

So congrats Pac-Man, and let's hope Namco-Bandai gives the next PSP iteration a shot.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wii Intec Retro Controller

The Source is blowing these out for $4.96! I normally don't buy Intec or Madcatz junk, but this is a great price.

I bought 2; one from each store, 1 for me & 1 for my nephew's Wii. At one store, the employee actually knew it was on sale & had a sign up. But at the other, the guy had no clue until he was ringing it up... and while he was he kept saying something like, "Wow, what a price..." but the way he kept repeating it-- it sort of sounded like, "wish I'd *known* this was that cheap...."

So I have another truism in the gamer world, or at least the bargain hunter gamers world: it can be a good thing that The Source employees are clueless because it helps preserve some of the gaming deals for us regular customers. It's like a natural balance of the gaming wilderness or something.....

Anyway, I've been playing No More Heroes 2 with the Intec Classic Retro Controller. I wouldn't say it's better than the traditional Wiimote + Nunchuk combo, there are some advantages & disadvantages.

As for the controller in general, it feels not bad. The 2 analogue sticks are identical to the stick on the Nunchuk, which is kinda cool. The buttons have a fairly good feel. I haven't used an official Nintendo Classic Controller, but as far as I can tell the button placement is identical to it. The controller is very light because there's no vibration feedback within it (I don't think the regular Classic Controller has it either)

My biggest problem with the Intec Retro Controller is that there are seams where the plastic meets the blue rubber, and it's at these seams that the plastic sticks out a bit, it isn't perfectly flush... so it feels sharp against the hands when your fingers curl around the controller.

Indicative of cheap build quality, I may try to slice off/file down these rough edges.

Now I have to dig through my Wii games & see which ones are Classic Controller compatible...

UPDATE: A quick check of the back of the boxes reveals I have 5 Wii games I can use this thing with (including NMH2):

  • Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition - The Wiimote + Nunchuk is about the most perfect control setup for this game I can imagine. So why would I use a Classic Controller?
  • Mercury Meltdown Revolution - The tilt control of the Wiimote is about the most perfect control setup for this game I can imagine. So why would I use a Classic Controller?
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smash-Up - Also supports GameCube controller (I have a wireless WaveBird) so why would I use a Classic Controller?
  • Mario Kart Wii - see TMNT answer.
  • No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle - Admittedly there are things that can be done with the Classic Controller that can't be done with the Wiimote + Nunchuk: I didn't even know Travis could punch before using the Intec Retro Controller. Also, switching between swords is *much* easier because it's mapped to the D-pad. But there's a little more satisfaction doing gesture finishes with the Wiimote as opposed to just using the analog sticks on the Retro Controller.

Ooooohh, 5 whole games that support the Classic controller! Oh well, maybe I'll buy a Virtual Console game someday....

One funny thing I noticed when checking the controller icons on the back of my Wii games, Godzilla Unleashed doesn't have ANY controller shown! Man, that's freaky that they rushed through the production of this game & couldn't even remember to put the controller icon support on the back like every other Wii game does. And on a further tangent... when I check out my most played games on the Nintendo Channel, Godzilla Unleashed doesn't even show up even though I know I put a lot of hours into it. When I do a search through the channel it can't even find it. Scary.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

podcast - IGN Girlfight

I've just listened to the 5 episodes of Girlfight from IGN.... basically, this podcast show is made up of 4 females who work there, including Jessica Chobot, talking about videogames.

The episodes are about 60 minutes long, and are fairly random comments on games, what they're playing, any "big videogame news" , and response to listener mail. I dunno, I actually quite like it. It's refreshing to hear female perspectives on gaming. I know there are a lot of female gamers out there.... but I hardly ever see them represented online in blogs or wherever.

Another thing I like is that even though they don't really cover the games/platforms I own, their interests run the gamut.... they can get just as excited about "hardcore" shooters as they do for "casual cute" games.... which is something I can relate to. Their latest show at this time of writing is a debate on EA's "pay to play" or whatever it's called where they charge a $10.00 fee to access online multiplayer for used copies of their sports games.

I hope they can continue to produce this show regularly.

Download them from here.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle

I bought No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle yesterday from Walmart for $20.00. Pretty good price, considering I was thinking of buying it from there last week when it was listed at $29.99. Seems like quite a fast price drop, but just another example of my "rules" about EA Games & Ubisoft.... oh wait, did I actually post my rules about EA Games & Ubisoft here? I'm looking over my recent posts & I don't think so.....

So basically, I believe that EA & Ubisoft games almost always drop in price; whether it's 6 months or a year after the game comes out, games from those 2 pubs usually end up at $20.00 (or less). I think it's because of their market penetration, you can buy EA & Ubi games practically anywhere right? So they end up in bargain bins all over the place.

Yes, you could say that *every* game drops in price eventually, but that's not always the case. Take first-party Nintendo games for instance: Mario games that came out years ago have dropped maybe $5.00-$10.00 from their release MSRP. But with EA & Ubi games, most of those drop like stones eventually.

Anyway, that's my "rule" or belief or whatever. So NMH2:DS coming from Ubisoft, I decided to wait rather than giving in to the $54.99 release day MSRP...

Man, I've gotten this far & I haven't even talked about the game yet. It gets good reviews which seem a bit high, though I do think it's a fun game. It's basically a 3D brawler, with stylish art direction & a good sense of humour. In some ways it reminds me of Madworld. I'd say it's faster paced because there are less moves, which makes it a bit less clunky, but it still is rough around the edges as far as gameplay. It's mostly melee sword combat, unlike Madworld which relies on gestures a lot more, here you basically button mash the A button; tilting the Wii remote up or down to do high/low attacks. Then there might be a finishing move where you swipe the Wii remote a direction given onscreen to do a kill.

The premise is like Afro Samurai: the main character Travis Touchdown is fighting his way through ranked players with the ultimate goal of becoming #1. He uses a lightsaber "beam katana", and can purchase other weapons as he goes. Along with the fighting part of the game, there are side jobs which earn him cash-- these side jobs are 8-bit style arcade mini-games, and there are also revenge missions which are much like the "beating up the lackeys on the way to the boss" part of the main missions, except they are time limited. And in between all this are slick & sexy cutscenes of the woman doling out Travis' missions, Silvia Christel.

I really like the artstyle & humourous tone of No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, it's goofy & weird that the save mode is Travis pulling down his pants & sitting on the toilet. Luckily strategically placed bands (of toilet paper?) spare us from seeing too much. There's a section of the game where you play as a female character Shinobu Jacobs, and her save mode is her taking a shower...... nice. But again, all the naughty bits are hidden by paper. Still, with the sexiness & coarse language this is not a game to be played with kids around.

Speaking of Shinobu, this is where the game gets clunky: she should be a really cool character to play-- she's very hot looking & well animated, her moves are faster than Travis' & she jumps. But the problem is that they make her have to do a fair amount of platforming & the game is not nearly polished enough for that. Shinobu has to jump up on crates, and her levels are way too frustrating when they should be fun. There's a lot of clunkiness in the actual gameplay... the game relies on its reputation as being "hardcore" but there's a difference between hardcore or challenging and broken. There's no excuse for gameplay that doesn't function properly. Most of the game is fun, but it takes getting used to the rhythm of it.

I haven't played the first No More Heroes, the reason I picked this one up over the original is because I heard it was a bit more refined, but really... I saw a giant robot battle in it and that was what won me over. A bit disappointing, though... the robot fight is more like a mini-game mode inside one of the boss fights, it was actually cool but brief.

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is very linear, even the revenge missions are only shown one at a time. There isn't a way to replay past bosses. It's straightforward & probably a fairly short game, but I'm having fun with it. With a name like that-- "Desperate Struggle"-- it sounds like it was meant for the DS??? Kinda odd. I wonder if they were thinking that at first, when they started developing it? It might be kinda interesting to have a DS version of No More Heroes.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

games wishlist 2010

This is kinda late, but it just occurred to me that I haven't posted a games want list for a long time.

I guess because I just haven't seen too much to get excited for this year.... but still, there are a few titles that are really exciting and others that are intriguing.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 - I have to say that the first game was a complete surprise for me, I loved it! As much as I loved Super Mario Galaxy.. I do feel that this will be more of the same, which is both good and bad. There will be small changes & updates which will probably be very cool, but I know what I'm getting. Maybe it's the classic "video game sequel syndrome". Still, I'm getting really psyched up for it, it's coming so soon!

Ace Combat Joint Assault - Another sequel to one of my favourite games, Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception for the PSP. This may actually be my most anticipated game of the year so far.

Metroid: Other M - I was not all that fond of Metroid Prime 3 or the DS Metroid Prime: Hunters, but the different take that developer Team Ninja will spin on the franchise might be cool. I'm really intrgued by how it'll play. Maybe I'll replay those games & see if I can get into them.

Hmmmmmmm............ I'm trying to think of some other games I'm really psyched up for, but I got nada at this time. Again, 2010 seems like a bit of a dry year for video games if you only have a Wii, DS or PSP. I find myself buying last year's games, it's a little scary how I've snagged just about everything on my old want list....


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Source employees suck so bad

Looking over my post about Future Shop employees, it seems a bit harsh. But I have to say, it sums up about 80% of my Future Shop shopping experiences. The other 20% comes from when I get in, buy what I need & get out as quick as possible... not giving them a chance to talk to me.

Still, compared to shopping at The Source..... that experience makes the Future Shop people look brilliant in comparison. At least the Future Shop people want to help.. or look like they are... or maybe want their commission... whatever. At The Source, they need the customer to not only tell them the price of their product, but to ring it in & bag it for them too. Oh and to find where the bags are.

Last week I bought a couple things: one was a pair of Sony MD- XD200 headphones. I need some big cans, and I thought I'd take a chance on them. So far they're kinda meh.... but that's another topic.

The girl behind the register was a living, breathing cliche of retail clerk half-assery. She even had the sniffles to fully accessorize the lackadaisical attitude. I see the headphones on the rack, grab one take it to the cash.... and I'm waiting... for about 15 minutes-- while the girl is dealing with someone who brought back some defective earbuds & needs a replacement. Fair enough.... I get that you've gotta deal with customers in order. But there were other people working in this store, some were busy talking to people in the aisles or whatever, but I'm not sure if most of them were just floating around or what. Yes the cashier girl was a tool-- but maybe her co-workers could help her out, y'think? Sheesh.

While I'm waiting for her (or anybody) to ring up my headphones, I spot some Wii nunchuks on a rack behind the counter, and there's a price that looks like $14.99. I ask her if that's the price of those, and she looks at the tag & says yes. So I ask her to throw one of those into my order too. But when she gives me the receipt to sign, the nunchuks come out at $24.99.

So that's when a couple other Source tools employees & manager(?) jump in, all of them trying to figure out what's going on. I don't know if it was a misprint or what... the "manager" muttered something about the sale price ending that day. I don't know. It's not like I tried switching the pricetags or something-- I specifically asked HER if that was the price, and she said yes. She then rang it in, and didn't even notice it was $10.00 more than what she saw 1 minute before. But whether it's the right price or what, I think they have to give it to me at that price. I only endured all that 'cause my sister needed another nunchuk for their Wii.... but honestly, after standing there waiting 10-15 minutes I should've just put the headphones back & walked out the door. I wanted to get back in time to watch the Habs game-- I had AN HOUR before it started to get these headphones & get home, and I *still* missed about the first period. What douches.

Fuck 'em, eh.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Marble Saga Kororinpa

So the other game I bought from my recent jaunt over to Vancouver... Marble Saga Kororinpa. I started playing it last night, and so far it's not bad. It gets mediocre reviews because of the control scheme. With the "marble rolling genre" of games, control is key. I read someone refer to these games as a genre, and I guess they are when you think about it.

I can understand why some may complain about the control. But it's not as bad as you would think from the reviews. Yes-- you WILL need to turn the Wii remote upside-down at times; so that the A button side is facing the floor. The key to playing this game is to hold the Wii remote with the tips of your fingers & not let it rest in your palm at all. You've gotta think about the Wii remote as a gyroscope or something. And it helps not to use the Wii remote strap.

There are times when I'm thinking, "did the devs actually PLAY this level themselves?" things almost seem broken. Then I went into the level design editor where you can make your own levels, and decided to create one myself. I think that the number of tools I have available are dependent on unlocking them from progressing through the main game, so my tools may be limited, but... I created this level that was UTTERLY BROKEN. It was so funny-- had me in stitches when I test-played it because I thought, "OK, let's play this to see how it works" and it was SO bad.... hehehehe. So maybe this game/level design stuff is harder than it looks....

Another weird thing I noticed is that there's this ant character, and his "vocals" sound EXACTLY like the characters in Animal Crossing.... you know, that fast chirping like sound they make as you read their text dialogue? I actually checked my GameCube copy of Animal Crossing to see if it was made by Hudson, but it seems to be a first-party Nintendo game. Maybe the same company developed both games? I dunno.

It's still early but I'd say Marble Saga Kororinpa is worth the $9.98 Real Canadian Superstore sells it for.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dear Future Shop/Best Buy worker

Dear Future Shop/Best Buy worker:

I walk into a Future Shop or Best Buy, or any other store of that type. I start checking out whatever product, maybe I'm interested in something specifically, when you walk up, asking if I need any assistance. How nice.

I then ask about whatever product I've been looking at for the last few minutes, some specific features I need to know whether it can/can't do. You can't answer my question because you don't know.

I then ask more general questions about the product. You don't really know the answer, but you spew out some obvious bullshit that neither you nor I believe.

We then stand there awkwardly silent, because it's painfully obvious you know NOTHING about whatever product in question I am looking at. You probably haven't even SEEN the product before now.

Now I *get* that you can't know EVERY product in the store. If someone asks you what the difference is between the MX-3002 and the MX-2002, chances are slim that you're gonna know. It's somewhat understandable; this is a job, it's not your life.

But I also get the feeling that it could be almost ANY product in the store that happens to be your "blind spot". I want to ask, "What product DO you know about???"

It's really embarrassing (for you) when we're just standing there and it's obvious I know much more about the product than YOU do. At that point, you should just admit ignorance and leave me be, don't you think?

The problem is, you're not likely to find this open letter because it's on some sort of techy thing called the "internet"..... like who knows what that is. Have you ever touched a computer?

Maybe you should just go back to your coworkers who're more interested in huddling together gabbing like a bunch of highschoolers at recess.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Wii Fit Plus cover model

So I keep seeing those WestJet ads where employees come on saying, "I'm a WestJet owner & this is my CAREantee..."

Is it just me, or is that first girl the SAME person as on the box art cover for Wii Fit Plus???

From screenshots from the commercial recorded on my Neuros II+:

Yeah I dunno. It's just bugging me... 'cause that's all I can think of when I keep seeing the WestJet ad..... and this is about the only place I can geek out about it that anyone could possibly get the reference between a Canadian TV ad & Wii Fit Plus....

I just bought Wii Fit Plus from Future Shop's 17 hour online sale. It's on for like $9.99, so may as well. With in store pickup, should be getting it soon.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Outdated gameplay mechanics that must DIE DIE DIE

There are 3 videogame mechanics that are completely outdated & cheap... it's astounding that they're still put into games nowadays because they represent the limitation of imagination and programming of videogames of the past.

Infinite respawning enemies - I can see how this mechanic was created, it's like basic programing: line 10 enemy spawns. Line 20 go to Line 10.... back when games were like a few kilobytes big it maybe makes sense to always have the same enemies come back once you went offscreen and back on. But once games got into the 3D level like Doom-- WHY does there need to be infinite enemies?? Sure there are a few exceptions where something is needed from an enemy so it has to always come back in case you messed up & killed it or didn't get it the first time. But for the vast majority of infinite enemies in games this is *not* the case. Games made today still have this cheap & unnecesary game mechanic.

Time limits - Yes I hate time limits. And yes there probably are some cases where time limits are needed for certain sections of a game. But it's used way too often to try to add "challenge" or "prolong gameplay" through forcing the player to repeat game sections over & over. Weak & lazy.

Protect the helpless [whatever] missions - I'd really like to track down whoever came up with this game mechanic & give them a good swift kick in the head. We've all played this; whether it's that helpless furry zurtogg or unarmed steamer ship... whatever it is, it has the same traits: it's completely useless, has little health, and does its' absolute damndest to get itself killed, despite your best efforts to fight off its attackers. What I want to know is, when was the last time you had FUN playing such missions? Ever??? So what does it matter that it made a game 1 hour longer if players *hated* playing through that extra hour?

What makes these mechanics broken is that at the core, they take the control of the game out of the players hands. In protect missions, you fail because of something else's health or whatever. Not because you didn't dodge the bullets but because something programmed to suck didn't.

It's obvious that game developers pull these hackneyed formulas off the shelf & plug them into a game to save time/effort, like maybe for movie tie-in games. It's way past time that they start to think of something new.


Tornado Outbreak

So I've been playing Tornado Outbreak a little bit...

Wow. This game just totally bites.

What a *SHIT* game! What the hell, Reviews on the Run???

Yes this game has a great core mechanic of playing as a tornado that gets bigger the more it sucks up. But the constraints coupled with the indecipherable story RUIN any momentum or fun that could be had with that awesome idea.

[pauses writing to watch the Canucks game]

So the game is basically this: you start as a small tornado, you have to collect a certain number of yellow fire-guys, then this device-thingy activates, and you have to jump into it, all before time runs out.

The story & characters... well I can't make heads or tails of it. Which usually isn't that important; look at Katamari-- but here, elements of the story play an important part of the gameplay. There are these little yellow fire-guys, and I can't tell if they're friends or enemies, but you need to bust things they hide in then hold down B which causes them to swirl around you-- you're still sucking them in but slower than normal-- you need to get as many little fire-guys swirling around you as possible before they are inevitably sucked in. If you have enough, you'll get a time bonus. The problem is, you get like a +7 second time bonus. Oh yay, 7 seconds! And you start with 3 minutes to finish the level. To find like 50 fire-guys & get into the device-thingy.

I hate time limits, they are one of worst outdated and cheap game mechanics in the history of video games. but I'm going to write a separate post about that. I can see the use of time limits in Tornado Outbreak to give it some challenge, but the time is so short that it wrecks the game; it doesn't matter how big the map is or how cool it is to grow larger and suck up buildings & whatnot, because you don't have the time to go very far away from the whatever-device that you have to jump into once you've got enough fire-guys.

Did I mention once you hold down the B and the fire-guys are swirling around you you slow right down? But as soon as you get a fire-guy you get a small speed boost, like a sprint for a second. So you have to get lucky enough to chain a bunch of fire-guy grabs together so that enough are swirling around you before they get sucked in. All to get your extra 7 seconds....

This crap game mechanic makes it so it barely even matters how large you grow because it doesn't make much difference how big you are-- all that matters is the number of fire-guys swirling around you. It's really stupid.

Maybe I just suck at this game, I've been trying to figure out how many fire-guys are needed to gain a significant time boost. I know 4 doesn't give you jack-squat. 10 will give you a bit, but how the hell does one string 10 together unless they are exactly beside each other??

Tornado Outbreak..... how the hell can anyone give this game a good rating? I will try it a little more & see if I can't make it work for me... I dunno.

Victor Lucas, what were you thinking???


Thursday, April 22, 2010

ModNation Racers demo

So like many others I'm sure, I got the code for the ModNation Racers demo. I am not a fan of making demos "exclusive"... I've posted about the 3 previous times Sony said I'd get an "exclusive UMD demo" for a game and never came through. Hell, I don't even like how they're making the demos only through the PSN. I loved the good ol' days when PSP demos could be downloaded freely & loaded on our memory sticks ourselves, not having to be registered or any of that crap. That's kinda the POINT of a demo, to gain as wide an audience as possible for the game. How come Sony can't get that???

Anyway, the latest, this ModNation Racers demo requires a code to get it. I'm assuming that the demo will eventually become available to anyone with a PSN account later on...

My problem is that I *know* Sony will find a way to screw me over with this.

Reading the instructions, it basically says to download it directly using the PSP. But my problems with that have already been outlined.

So I'm guessing this is how it will work out:

me: "Damn... I'm so excited for this demo!!!"

I log in to the PS Store using my PSP, enter the code exactly, jump through all of Sony's stupid hoops... then the connection times out, I get A Connection Error Has Occurred(0x8004810b) message & I lose whatever had been downloaded and I can't retry it again 'cause it's a stupid one-use-only code. I cry. Sony shrugs.

Well UP YOURS Sony, like I'm going to get my hopes up for this freebie-that-isn't-a-freebie only for you to screw me.

Still..... I guess I may as well try it. Maybe it will end up in my download list and I could try again through Media Go or something. I dunno.


important features for a netbook

So I've owned the Toshiba NB 205 netbook for about 6 months now... and I've learned a few things about what's important in a netbook/laptop. Some of the things I knew already, and was part of my buying decision:

Good keyboard/track pad - You've really gotta make sure that these are going to be good for you. I think the trackpad is even more important than the keyboard, because people use the mouse for surfing the web the vast majority of the time. Keep that in mind. Make sure the trackpad is large enough, feels good, has good buttons & responsive.

Battery life - High on my list was having a netbook with an extended battery life, and man, that has to be one of the best decisions I made in choosing a netbook. Trust me, unless you are dead-set on purchasing a particular model of netbook that only has a 3-cell battery, DO NOT settle for an average 3-cell battery that will only give you 2-3 hours of life. That may sound ok when you think, "well, that's good enough for some evening work. It's not like I'm going to live on this thing..." but in the real-world experience, I find it ESSENTIAL to have at least 6 hours of battery life if not more. The more the better. Sometimes I am nerding it up all day on this thing, but usually it's a case of simply needing the battery power and not having the chance to recharge it. When I went to Vancouver for a few days, I didn't even bring my NB205 AC charger, because I figured the battery would last me a few days of light netbook use. I have to admit I was debating whether I should bring it or not (I wanted to pack light) but I wrote a few blog posts & did other things like check bus times, etc. in that time, so I had ample power for that limited use. I did bring my PSPgo AC charger 'cause let's face it, the PSPgo has a pathetic battery life-- just like a regular PSP without the extended battery, it has to be charged every night....

Now some important things that I learned only after owning a netbook:

If possible, don't settle for integrated graphics! Ok, I never expected any basic netbook to be a graphics powerhouse. But until my recent debacle trying to play games on my NB205 I hadn't realized how important it is to have some sort of half-decent GPU, like ION or something. I am currently in lust over the Dell Alienware m11x netbook, because of it's graphics capabilities.

Glow-in-the-dark or lit keyboard - Again, the Alienware m11x has this, and I never realized how important this feature is for someone like me, who uses my netbook at night in low-light situations. I really wish my keyboard lit up, that would be awesome.

There are other important factors to consider when buying a netbook, like size/weight, screen resolution (I would prefer at least 768 than the 600 I got in the NB205), screen gloss, USB ports, monitor output, etc... but these are just a few important observations from someone who's used one for awhile.


Blog Archive