Saturday, December 31, 2011
This latest build of Swype really is terrible.
It made me update the last time I posted about Swype. I don't know what they did, but it doesn't work with my HTC Legend running Android 2.1 as good as it used to. When I go to reply to a text, whatever I type will disappear right as soon as I type it. I have to exit the messaging program & re-enter it to get it to start working normally.
This bug also affects other text-input programs on my phone as well.
I may just have to dump Swype & go back to the stock keyboard.... why do they have to keep forcing updates on us & breaking the functionality of the keyboard in the process???
I get that Android is "constantly" coming out with updates & Swype wants to take advantage of the "improvements". But they don't have to screw over users with older Android builds... why not just leave the older versions of Swype on our phones & do the updates for newer phones, if there are so many issues with older Android compatibility?
Sigh. Swype can be so frustrating.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Super Mario 3D Land addresses some of my major complaints with the recent direction Nintendo has taken with their Mario games: particularly the "Play Guide" where they would give an option for a developer speedrun to completely take over the game if you let them. How can that possibly be fun? You fail a bunch of times and the only alternative to playing it until you pass is to let a programmer from the dev team play it for you. That really frustrated me because it seemed like Nintendo was going to put it in ALL their Mario games. I'm happy to say they tweaked this idea-- in Super Mario 3D Land if you fail a level 6 times they offer the white tanooki suit which gives the player invincibility except from falling off a level. So the player still gets to play the game. That's what they SHOULD have introduced 2 Mario games back.This feels like a direct response to my rants on their survey questionnaires... believe me, I filled out those text boxes pretty well with my thoughts on this subject.....
But Super Mario 3D Land is not a super hard game like previous... it seems easier to me, compared to the last DS game. The first 8 worlds are relatively easy to get through but there's more content than that.... and the challenge level can ramp up in some of them too.
But the game still plays VERY conservatively; not taking risks and minimizing innovative ideas. The levels are very short, again they seem scared to make them too long because they want short burt gameplay because it's a handheld title. I'd rather they just improve the save system rather than shorten the level design.
As nice as Super Mario 3D Land is at times, I think Nintendo should have made it a Super Mario Galaxy game-- it would have had more interesting level design, and imagine walking all the way around planetoids like in the Wii games... only in 3D.... nice....
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Anyway.. StarFox 64 3D. Like most of the others (except Ace Combat) I got it with a bit of a discount. In some ways it reminds me a lot of the Ace Combat games. There are a relatively small number of missions, but the gameplay comes from replaying missions to open up different paths. But unlike Ace Combat, StarFox 64 3D is more on-rails. True, Ace Combat games are free roaming but limited to within a "sandbox area" and you are almost on rails in what you need to do within the time limit. StarFox 64 3D is mostly on rails with enemies coming at you or from behind you, then sometimes it opens up to a more free-roaming-within-a-sandbox style.
I was a bit wary of the graphics because even though things have been "remastered" the game designs are still really old. But they do hold up well, and it looks cool. I've never played this particular Star Fox game before, so it was all new to me. Basically the story/settings of the game feel like a generic Star Wars ripoff... but I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way. They do it well; I love the little touches like fighting mechs in space... that seems very anime to me.
But the game really requires the player to be spamming the A button like kaa-raaazzy. Man, if any game is going to wear out the A button, it will be this one. It's honestly a bit tiring. Also tiring are some of the boss fights... a few of them go on just way too long.
I like the how the characters are animals... it's weird but at least it isn't a Star Wars ripoff... exactly.... but what is with them shaking their heads up & down really really fast to simulate talking? What is good is that there's full voice acting in the game. Nintendo should do this a lot more in their games.
StarFox 64 3D is a fun on rails space shooter, worth it for a discounted sale price. There's a certain line that is always used--over used-- when talking about this game. So I'll just leave it out. You know what it is anyway.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
I did miss my HP TouchPad while I was in China.... 5-6 weeks away from it-- I did charge it before I left but I thought the battery would be dead by the time I got back. But the charge held, was almost full power when I turned it on again.
But one thing I have noticed since that little hiatus away from it... there are some brightness issues with it. There is a light sensor that can auto-dim the brightness, I used to use it but the case I got for it covers it up so I had to turn off the sensor. But even with the sensor off, for some reason the screen will dim on its own. I loaded the HP TouchPad up with a bunch of my pics from China, and swiping through them, the brightness changes quite a bit and I can't figure out why.
It could be the latest WebOS update (I think 4.0.7) but I'm pretty sure I had this issue before the update. It even affects the videos I watch, and I don't think there was a problem with the screen going bright & dim, fluctuating so much..... I watched lots of video in the same format before I left.
My guess is that the corner of the TouchPad where the sensor is is a bit wonky. I know when I had it turned on, sometimes I'd accidentally cover it and that caused weird problems. Maybe because my case pressed down on that light sensor it's affecting it? I don't know. But now I don't keep my TouchPad fully in the case-- I make sure the corner anchor/straps aren't keeping it in place. the problem with that is I gotta be careful the TouchPad doesn't fall out....
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Sony's PlayStation Blog posted the North America launch games list:
SCEA Launch Day Titles
Escape Plan (PSN Only)
Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational
Hustle Kings (PSN Only)
ModNation Racers: Road Trip
Super StarDust Delta (PSN only)
UNCHARTED: Golden Abyss
Launch Window Titles
MLB 12 The Show
Third Party Publisher Launch Day Titles
|Army Corps of Hell||Square Enix, Inc.|
|Asphalt Injection||Ubisoft, Inc.|
|BEN10 GALACTIC RACING||D3 Publisher of America|
|Blazblue: Continuum Shift EXTEND||Aksys Games Localization, Inc.|
|Dungeon Hunter Alliance||Ubisoft, Inc.|
|Dynasty Warriors Next||Tecmo Koei America Corporation|
|EA SPORTS FIFA Soccer||Electronic Arts, Inc.|
|Lumines Electronic Symphony||Ubisoft, Inc.|
|Michael Jackson The Experience||Ubisoft, Inc.|
|Plants vs. Zombies (PSN Only)||Sony Online Entertainment LLC|
|Rayman Origins||Ubisoft, Inc.|
|Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen||Namco Bandai Games America Inc.|
|Tales of Space: Mutant Blobs (PSN Only)||Drinkbox Studios|
|Touch My Katamari||Namco Bandai Games America Inc.|
|Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3||Capcom Entertainment, Inc.|
|Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition||Sega of America|
Launch Window Titles
|LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7||Warner Bros. Interactive Ent. Inc.|
|Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention||NIS America, Inc.|
|NINJA GAIDEN ∑ PLUS||Tecmo Koei America Corporation|
|Ridge Racer||Namco Bandai Games America Inc.|
|Silent Hill Book of Memories||Konami Digital Ent. America, Inc.|
|Supremacy MMA: Unrestricted||505 Games|
There are not a lot of titles in that list that I'm super excited about... don't get me wrong, a few of those games I am interested in and will probably pick up at launch. The one I'm most excited for is that Katamari one, I'm getting Little Deviants as part of the PS Vita bundle, and Super Stardust Delta may be worth the nearly-inevitable PSN download hassles I'm almost sure to encounter.
I'm a bit loathe to post those so-called "launch window" games lists, because I think it's another one of those "lies" where some of them MIGHT come out in the next few months after launch, but if it's like the 3DS, I'm thinking, "sheyeah right". So I don't even consider them as even scheduled, personally.
The blog also posted a comprehensive list of accessories pricing... I may spring for the 32GB. Depends on how my initial PSN download attempts go (Super Stardust Delta may be a guinea pig for that)... one of the things that annoys me about the Vita is the cartridge door: It's a flimsy memory stick style door with plastic cords that hold it to the console.
Looks easy to get loose or break. If download pricing is more reasonable it may be better to download titles... I dunno. It is definitely more convenient to have your games on the console instead of dragging around a bunch of carts like I do with the 3DS.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Kotaku posted up a gallery of the PS Vita next to a variety of stuff, notably a PSPgo and a 3DS.
*sigh* but seriously... of all the irreverent junk they took a picture of the Vita next to, it didn't enter their mind AT ALL to take a picture of the Vita beside, say... a PSP??????
Holy crap Kotaku, your site sucks in general because it somehow manages to crash my Firefox browser & suck up all my memory, but man... idiotic oversights like that are simply pathetic.
Anyway. It is still nice to see more of the Vita & get a general idea of its size, so here's the link to the gallery.
Cool. We're about 2 months away from the North American Playstation Vita launch, and Sony has posted the user manual online!
I've been very curious about the media format, particularly video formats-- that the Vita will play. From the looks of it, I think it will play the old PSP-formatted videos.
One annoying aspect of media transfer to Vita is that it appears we need to use software to transfer videos or music, etc. to the handheld. I can understand Sony wanting to lock it down, but one of the key reasons I chose a PSP over an iPod back in 2006 was that the PSP didn't need software to "manage" media on it. 6 years later, and the iPod still needs iTunes, and now Sony will require their own (no doubt inferior version) of "iTunes" to use this device. It even says that one of the first things you need to do with your Vita is register your PSN ID on it, and that you need a wi-fi connection.
I've already pre-ordered a Vita, the "early bundle" that comes with a 4GB card & Little Deviants... and also comes out 1 week before the core console.... I'm not super-excited about the launch, I think it will suffer a games drought like the 3DS did. But 2 months away is a long time, so who knows what will change between now & Feb 2012...
Friday, December 16, 2011
- F-Zero: Maximum Velocity
- Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi’s Island
- Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap
- Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
- Kirby & The Amazing Mirror
- Mario Kart: Super Circuit
- Mario vs. Donkey Kong
- Metroid Fusion
- Wario Land 4
- WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames
Downloading them is a bit of a non-intuitive process to say the least. I had to remember how I did it with the NES titles. You go into the Nintendo eShop, then to Settings/Other, then Your Downloads. Then scroll down-- what screwed me up was that I had to go to the next page to find the 10 GBA games on my list. Once you find the above titles, tap Redownload, then Download, then it gives you a choice to either Download Now or Download Later. If you pick Download Later, then Continue shopping, you can go through all 10 titles, then close the eShop, close the 3DS (put it into sleep mode) and it will download all the titles while it's closed. if you choose Download Now, you'll have to repeat the process for each game.
Also something to note: You can get the original GBA screen resolution using the same method as for DS games-- hold down either the START or SELECT button (you don't need to use both) while loading the game-- make sure to hold down the button until graphics pop up onscreen. Some games just look much better in their native resolution like Yoshi's Island. Though Kirby looks good using the full 3DS screen, I bet GBA games made later in the GBA lifespan look better in general.....
All these free games, man... there's so much to play and so little time....
[UPDATE 1/02/2012] - I've noticed that the designs on the laces are NOT WATERPROOF. So if you're thinking of ordering these, be aware of that important fact.
So I ordered the Super Mario shoelaces from Club Nintendo earlier this week. As usual with Club Nintendo Canada, shipping was fast, I got them today.... I was hoping that they'd come this week, but you never know.
They came with the Thank You card that typically accompanies these coin purchases, but I expected the packaging to be just a simple plastic bag. Instead, there's a little light cardboard design decorated with Mario characters. A somewhat more fancy presentation than past Club Nintendo rewards, in line with the Platinum Reward I got last week. Maybe Club Nintendo is trying to dress up their stuff a bit, maybe they're getting the hang of Club Nintendo better now that they've gone through some growing pains.... on one hand, I like the little touches... I don't want to throw away this stuff... but on the other hand, flourishes like this are not much use to me and only serve to clutter up my space. I'm sure I'll lose it or it'll end up in the recycling bin.
2 sets of laces: 2x white, 2x yellow. Ok, I'm really stupid-- until I looked at this picture, I had no idea that each set of laces has DIFFERENT characters on them. The yellow has "bad guys" while the white ones have "good things" (power ups)... I thought both sets of laces had the same characters on them.
I went for the yellow ones right away because I figure they go better with my shoes. But now that I'm aware that the white ones have different characters... in fact, probably more recognizable Super Mario characters to the general public.... maybe I will try the white ones out next week.
The yellow laces on my shoes. Not sure how good this actually looks... I don't wear anything yellow though I do wear a purple hoodie so maybe they do complement that....
These last 2 weeks have been pretty darn awesome for Club Nintendo and 3DS Ambassador early adopters. Having those games be bought using coins, the 10 free GBA games, and even these laces rewards, now is a good time to be a Nintendo fan. Thanks Nintendo!
I'd like to save up for the T-shirt, but right now all my coins are going towards the downloadable games.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
It may seem trivial at first, but the menu & loading. Geez, what is with how long it takes to load the game?? The white screen stays up way too long. And the menu system itself is the exact same one from the previous Mario Karts, still clunky as hell where it kicks you out to the title page rather than makes it easier to navigate & re-enter races. It becomes a real pain to play this game over & over when the interface is so crap.
And for some unknown reason, it takes at least TWICE as long to actually close the game & exit out to the 3DS menu as it does every other 3DS game. What the hell... it's like this is a shoddy port, even though it's a 3DS exclusive game! How lazy/rushed were the developers that they couldn't make any of this smoother?
The game itself is the exact same format as the Mario Kart DS & Wii: same cups, 32 tracks, etc. Most courses are re-hashed from previous games, with a few new ones. Apparently Retro Studios was called in to create a couple of courses.
Maybe that's what this franchise needs: to be taken away from Nintendo's in-house studio & given to a 2nd or 3rd party to inject some new ideas & more important: improve gameplay. The same old shit still happens: blue shells trump anything, you can do everything humanely possible, stay in first place and still finish in 7th or 8th no matter what you do. This game is the very definition of cheap.
Mario Kart 7 does look really good. There are some interesting additions that on the surface look great but in reality somehow don't affect gameplay at all. You can tweak your kart; changing out wheels, body, etc. but it doesn't make any difference. If anything, the "enhancements" make it harder rather than gives an advantage.
Nintendo is so incredibly timid & afraid to step up their franchises in a major way. Years ago, they created a hit formula with the Mario Kart franchise. At the time it was an attractive blend of multiplayer gameplay mechanics & challenge. But they haven't done anything since to improve or evolve the experience, leaving in all the same bugs that have always been there.
Nintendo should be ashamed.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Cool... my Club Nintendo Elite Status Reward came in the mail yesterday.
Doesn't seem as good as the previous years Elite reward, that Mario statue, which I didn't get-- however I *DID* see it for sale at a night market in Hong Kong... though I'm pretty sure it was fake. It was somewhat cool-looking, but not worth the effort of trying to drag it home with me so I didn't buy it.
So back to the 2011 reward... these are a series of pins. Hanh??? Pins? Doesn't seem all that "elite" to me. But this reward is all in the presentation.
As you can see, the packaging is very prim and a lot of care went into the design.
On one side there's even a classic Mario image.
Opening it up, the pins are fitted on top of the thin cardboard packaging.
The pins themselves are thick & bubbly... somewhat resembling, dare I say... a mushroom top??
The overall package has a minimalist elegant design, and the pins are nice. But I can't really see myself wearing them. I'm not sure what to do with it. This whole package feels like it was meant to be unopened & kept on a shelf to be admired from afar. But when I think about it, had I gotten a statue, that's pretty much what I'd be doing with THAT as well. And can't beat the price (free)
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
But yeah, I missed my 3DS. So when I got back I bought up a bunch of games for it:
Super Mario 3D Land
Mario Kart 7
Starfox 64 3D
Street Fighter 3D
Kirby Mass Attack (DS)
Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy
And now, Asphalt 3D. EB Games is selling it new for $9.99. At that price, I think it's worth it. It's cheesy, clunky but fun. There's this hyperspeed mode where the screen goes all Tron-like... it doesn't look as good as the Youtube videos make it look, but it still is cool. And it throws in a bit of Burnout: Takedown with being able to knock other racers off the road. Of course Asphalt 3D is a very derivative racer that takes from other racing games. And the graphics are not great... especially if you've seen the Asphalt games on iPhone/Android.
Asphalt 3D won't go down in history as one of the best 3DS games to ever come out, but it probably won't be listed as the absolute worst, either. It is fun for what it is. The PSP had a glut of racing games, and maybe the 3DS is heading that way too, especially with Mario Kart 7 out for it. Ridge Racer 3D looks much better than Asphalt 3D, Mario Kart 7 looks better & plays more smoothly, but it is a very different kind of racing game even though both are arcadey.
If you want a fun cheap racer for the 3DS, paying $10.00 for Asphalt 3D isn't too bad a deal. The first 3DS game I know of to drop to that price.
Monday, December 5, 2011
So a couple months or so, I downloaded Swype for my HTC Legend. Swype is an onscreen keyboard where you slide your thumb around the screen to connect letters to form words. Check out the videos on Youtube to see how it works... it looks awkward, but after using it these past 2 months.... I have to say I'm officially converted. The Swype method is AWESOME. My stock keyboard on my HTC Legend is pretty poor. What makes Swype so incredible is its word prediction, I don't know how it does it-- it has a very good sense of the word I'm looking for; even if sliding my thumb around the keyboard is sloppy, it seems to get it most of the time. The big problem with this method is that my thumb covers up the letters, so sometimes I have to stop & move my phone screen around to see where the next letter I need is. The good thing about this method is it's possible to type with one hand-- one thumb, really.
Swype is currently a free beta. Free is also awesome. But... there has to be a bad side somewhere, right? Where Swype really falls down is the "license expiring"... when it decides to, you have to uninstall the Swype installer, and re-install it, because the keyboard stops working, basically.
So I encountered this dark side of Swype the other day (luckily I was back from China, I actually was worried that it would expire while I was still there) and it was a total pain for me to reinstall. I had to try it a few times before it actually worked, as well as delete a large app (Pac-Man Championship Edition demo) to free up space... and I freely concede that that's an issue with my phone not having much internal space. But I think that each update of Swype gets re-jigged, and like all updates, some are good while some are not. There are some small issues with my latest version of Swype not playing well with my contacts editing. I don't know why that is other than they tweaked stuff.
Even with all this hassle, Swype is really good. I am envious of Samsung phones that have Swype included with it. Swype impressed me so much that I'm actually rethinking my main want in a new phone: that it has a physical keyboard. If I can get an onscreen keyboard comparable to Swype in usefulness, then a physical keyboard might not be needed. The key word being "might".
Oh Swype, why do you put me through such hell?
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
The overall handheld scene isn't as vibrant as it was when I was there 2 years ago. I chalk it up to the general sad state we're in as far as handhelds, more than anything else. 2 years ago, the PSP was still fairly vibrant especially with hacking-- which was naturally big in China-- and it was very easy to get an R4 card for a DS Lite.
I did see "R4 for 3DS" in Beijing, but I was very suspicious about the actual quality of them. The problem is that the 3DS is region-locked, so even if there was an R4 for it, they would probably be Asia-3DS specific? I dunno. All I can say is, I saw these and had LITTLE confidence that they would work in my 3DS. And seeing how Super Mario 3D Land forces a firmware update on us (PSP-style) I wonder if they're already blocking these things.
Not that it was all about hacking & piracy. Last time, I was searching for a 16GB memory stick micro (M2) which I was happy to find for my PSPgo. This time around I had no major goal like that.
But last time, I had very little knowledge of mobile phones, and this time around, I have just enough knowledge to be dangerous (to myself)... I was *very* tempted to buy a phone in Hong Kong. They are about the same price/more expensive than Canadian prices, but the main key is that they're unlocked. Yes you pay $600.00-$700.00 (Cdn) for them, but there is no demand for a 3 year contract or other BS. Even if you go into a Canadian store with $700.00 cash, plunk it down & say, "I want to buy a phone, right now", the chances are that even then, they will NOT sell you a phone outright. You will STILL need to commit to at least 1 months service, which means you'll need to go through a credit check. You'll probably have to pay for an "activation fee" and other BS fees. All this even if they say the no-contract price for the phone is $599.99 or whatever. That STILL isn't the actual price you pay. How screwed up is the Canadian mobile phone market anyway? There should be laws.
Considering all this, you can see how it would be so tempting to walk into a reputable Hong Kong store, plunk down the $$$, and walk out then & there with a shiny new phone. But still, $600-$700 for a phone, I just couldn't do that. My little HTC Legend still does its job, and being unlocked I could actually use it with a cheap HK sim card.
But man, was I ever EVER tempted to pick up an HTC Evo 3D or Samsung Galaxy S2.
So, the other handheld issue of my trip is what handhelds did I actually take with me? I took a lot less than last time. Believe it or not, NO PSP, not even my PSPgo! I actually haven't taken that with me on trips at all this year (2011) which is the first time since getting a PSP in 2006 that I haven't brought one with me on a trip.
All I took with me was my netbook, and my HTC Legend phone. No PSPgo. No 3DS. The problem with the PSP (& PSPgo) is that the battery life is very short. My phone can play the same video content, has games (though not as robust as PSP ones), has my entire music collection, AND the battery life lasts like 9 hours. And it's smaller. And a phone. So my HTC Legend has become my go-to handheld because of size & versatility.
One annoying thing about the 3DS is the AC adapter is NOT universal. At least the PSP AC adapter can accept voltage from 120-240V. Pretty sure the 3DS AC adapter can't. And I wanted to pack light; I didn't want to bring my voltage converter--which doesn't even work that well-- so the only hope I had would be if I could buy a 3DS AC adapter in China/Hong Kong. Seemed like too much bother so the 3DS had to stay at home.
I did miss my 3DS a lot during those 4 1/2 weeks I was in China. I saw a guy playing a flame-red 3DS on a bus in Hong Kong, and I thought about how much I missed banging out a few (ok a lot of) sessions of Resident Evil: The Mercenaries.
So not long after coming back home, I bought a bunch of 3DS games. Super Mario 3D Land, Star Fox 64 3D, Street Fighter 3D... couldn't resist because Toys 'R Us had a sale where you buy 3 games & get 25% off. I also bought Kirby Mass Attack, and yesterday I picked up Asphalt 3D from EB Games for $10.00 new. And I still haven't picked up Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy which is my most anticipated 3DS game....
I also seemed to miss out the Hong Kong announcements of the PS Vita, not that I would have been allowed in or anything, it was probably just for press. I also wish my timing was closer to the PS Vita japan/Asia launch, I'm pretty sure I would've snagged one early there if I could have. Oh well, I just put my preorder in for one, the $300.00 bundle. Yeah I'm still nutty for handhelds.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
I've been playing Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D more than any other 3DS game. It's scary how many hours I've logged on it. One of the things I like about the 3DS and Wii is how they track what games you play & how long. The only problem I find with their system is that if you pause a game & come back to it hours later, it counts all that time as "gameplay"... so it's not totally accurate, but my 3DS says I've logged over 70 hours on RE:M3D. I should be better at it...
I've also been playing online quite a bit. I'm usually on around 6:00pm-9:00pm Pacific time. Also in the mornings from 10:00am-11:00am (Pacific)
My handle is 1_blue_pxl. Find me if you want to do some co-op.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
So, all this recent news about the 3DS Slide Pad accessory, and the PS Vita.... I think I'm starting to see where the second front/phase of the Handheld War is going.
2004: Sony jumps into the handheld gaming market, expectations are high & they deliver a pretty powerful machine in the PSP. Nintendo's DS is no slouch either, and through the DS Lite becomes the most successful gaming handheld.
So between 2004-2006/2007 or so, the main gaming handheld battle was between Sony & Nintendo. But in that time Apple jumps in with the iPod Touch, and in the last few years the Apple App & Android App market have exploded (mostly Apple)... Smartphone gaming is a significant share of handheld gaming-- and it's only growing bigger.
With the upcoming release of the 3DS Slidepad accessory, looking at it... how it's kind of "core audience" in that it looks built for gamers (duh).... I think Nintendo is saying, "we have physical controls". That's completely what the accessory is about isn't it?
And that's the key fundamental difference in gaming on a smartphone or iPod Touch, than gaming on a 3DS/PS Vita.
The same strategy was used by Sony when they announced the Xperia Play: they based a whole ad campaign, creepy as it was, on that what sets the Xperia Play apart from other phones is that it has physical game controls. (Of course Sony being Sony, they had to find a way to screw it up-- making the analogue touch pads, rather than actual nubs.)
It's a big contentious point that touchscreen controls can't substitute for actual analogue sticks & buttons.
This seems to be where the next phase of the handheld war is going. Do you want actual physical controls on a dedicated gaming device, or do you want a one-size-tries-to fit-all touchscreen controls on a more versatile, pocketable device which is not necessarily optimized for gaming?
Nintendo seems to have solidified that philosophy with the Wii U controller, how it harkens back to dual analogue controls & buttons yet still keeps the touchpad for fleixibility. But they either shipped the 3DS too early, or just didn't get the memo with that console, because it's really far too much like a DS than it should be in terms of buttons, controls, shape, etc. Way too conservative a step for a next-gen console.
So now they're trying to backtrack a bit & get a bit more "hardcore" with it?
The physical controls feature & deeper gameplay are the 2 biggest assets Nintendo/Sony have with their handhelds. The problem with the deeper gameplay argument is that the nature of handheld gaming itself kinda plays against the idea of games that need to be played for hours & hours to make progress. I personally *DO* play my handhelds for hours & hours but a lot of people argue that if they wanted to do that they'd just play a full-sized home game console, especially if it's between the same franchise of game (God of War PS3 vs PSP for example)
So that basically just leaves physical controls as the biggest draw for the 3DS/PS Vita. The key to all this is... now what are the software developers going to DO with those physical controls... if we get some amazing killer apps to come out for the 3DS/PS Vita-- games that people will buy the systems just to play-- the war will shift in their favour. They kind of need an Angry Birds sort of success. (Yes, Angry Birds is available on their handhelds, but it's way more ideal on the iOS/smartphone platform.)
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
The Playstation Vita will be released in Japan on December 17, 2011. There will be 2 prepaid 3G plans available for it (in Japan of course) 980 yen ($13) for 20 hours, and 4,980 yen ($65) for 100 hours.
Also, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom will be a launch title.
Possibly big news regarding PSP UMD legacy support: according to Gamespot's Liveblog, they posted:
Says there will be as many as 600 PSP titles that will be available to play on the Vita.He says the Vita has no UMD slot on the Vita but as long as users have the software for the UMD version...Sony is going to announce some official plans surrounding this in the near future.
The last point Kawano is going to talk about is PSP title support on the Vita.
Wow! some sort of transfer program to put UMD games onto our Vitas? That could be huge. Of course, we HAVE heard this kind of thing before, with the PSPgo debacle. Sony just plain lied about that. And even if there is some sort of UMD transfer deal... that might ONLY be in Japan. I dunno. This is one of those things that I'm going, "Yeah right, Sony. I'll believe it when I see it."
There are a few titles that piqued my interest: Ridge Racer, Wipeout... Katamari??? Oh yeah, NOW I'm paying attention. A few more like that and I'm fully onboard this hype train.
I'm starting to get excited about Vita.....
4gamer.net posted some new pics of the 3DS Slide Pad accessory. I have to say, the more I see of it, the better it looks. While I wouldn't say it's exactly stylish, it's not as bad as the first picture made it look.
I'm surprised after seeing these angle shots how curved & ergonomic it is. It's shaped like a console controller. Actually, it kind of reminds me of the accessories for the DS/PSP that tried to replicate the console controller feel-- like the PSP one I reviewed awhile back.
It also looks like it takes slight cues from the Wii U controller. But it's cool that it's curved & meant to fit in the hands at least a little, unlike the rectangular DS Lite design, which is more about looks than practicality.
And the shoulder buttons look robust! The bottom L + R buttons are big.
If anything, now that I've seen the controller from a couple angles, I'm less convinced that a 3DS redesign would come from it. This looks like an accessory-- not a direction that the actual handheld would take in design. I can't imagine Nintendo releasing a 3DS followup that would look like a console controller. Still, what do I know? Anything could happen, I guess...
I really hope that this accessory makes it out of Japan. For $19.99, and Resident Evil: Revelations, Monster Hunter 3G, Ace Combat: Cross Rumble supporting it (which I also hope makes it in the localized versions of the games)... and of course I'm hoping that a Star Wars Battlefront game gets announced someday, and other games support it too.... if these things come to pass, I'll honestly be first in line for this thing. I hope it comes in blue.
What's disturbing is that Nintendo didn't seem to even mention the accessory during their entire conference. Remember how Nintendo said that it was the enthusiastic positive initial response by gaming news journalists/bloggers when they revealed the 3DS which helped set the "premium" price for it? Maybe Nintendo pays more attention to the interwebz than we think.... so the huge negative backlash that initially came from that one picture of the accessory might have scared Nintendo. I hope it doesn't cause them to change course rashly--again....
Monday, September 12, 2011
Here's what it says courtesy Google translate:
Nintendo 3DS special enhanced slide pads
Suggested retail price 1,500円（税込） 1,500 yen (tax included) Release Date 2011/12/10 December 10, 2011
When installed in the Nintendo 3DS, a wider range of playing styles slide pad and buttons have been added.
AAA alkaline batteries ※ (operation status) with 1.
※ extended slide pad alone will not work.
Slide the pad can be used only with compatible software extension
※. The corresponding software has an icon on the right in the package:
List of planned listing of supported software
December 10, 2011
Monster Hunter 3 (tri) G
2012 Early 2012
METAL GEAR SOLID SNAKE EATER 3D
ACECOMBAT 3D CROSS RUMBLE
Dynasty Warriors VS
Tecmo Koei Games
KINGDOM HEARTS 3D [Dream Drop Distance]
Six major games slated to support the accessory, though only Monster Hunter Tri 3G has a solid release date.
And the slide pad expansion takes 1? AAA battery? It's going to cost 1500 yen, which is $19.32 Canadian dollars. So if that's any indication for a Canadian price, maybe $19.99? Not that there's even any indication at this point that it'll be released outside of Japan. I remember having to buy the Play-Yan Micro imported because there was no worldwide release for that.
Ace Combat is one of my fave game franchises. Having it on the initial 3DS games list when the handheld was first announced, that game alone pretty much cemented my decision to buy a 3DS.
And honestly, the one game I want the most on 3DS is a *NEW* Star Wars: Battlefront game.... like Renegade Squadron & Elite Squadron that were on PSP. That's kinda the reason I'm so hyped for a 2nd analogue nub, I'm secretly hoping for a new Star Wars Battlefront game that would be cross-released on 3DS & Playstation Vita. A PS Vita version would use both analogue sticks so the 3DS needs the 2nd nub.
But the new Ace Combat game, I would get the slide pad expansion for that alone, though I'd also use it for Monster Hunter 4 & Resident Evil Revelations...
Oddly enough, I don't know why I'd need a 2nd nub for Ace Combat, it controls just fine on the PSP with only 1 nub.
Also a bit ironic: The slide pad accessory is meant for Monster Hunter 3G. Pretty clear that this accessory makes using any 3DS extended battery add-ons impossible. And if there are ANY games that *NEED* a lot of battery power to play, it's the Monster Hunter series.
Some highlights of the Nintendo Conference Sept. 2011:
New Mario Tennis, Fire Emblem, TheaterthymFinal Fantasy, Dynasty Warriors-ish game, Kingdom Hearts 3D, Monster Hunter (Tri) 3G... but NO mention of the "boat" 2nd analogue nub add-on(?!)
Pink 3DS coming to Japan Oct. 20...
But the biggest announcement seems to be: Monster Hunter 4(!!) for 3DS!
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Nintendo will be holding a pre-TGS press conference focused on the 3DS. IGN will be streaming it starting 8:00PM (PST) on Sept. 12.
I'm really curious as to what will be announced. Top of my list I want more info on the "slide pad expansion" accessory. A lot more info. But I kinda doubt there will be much more than what's been leaked already except maybe more about Monster Hunter 3G. I kinda expect that the bulk of announcements will be for upcoming software.... though it would be wild if they used this press conference to announce a 3DS redesign. I'm sure a redesign is coming, but not likely this early. Still, with the sluggish sales & Nintendo making drastic moves lately, who knows....
Can't wait for 8:00PM Sept. 12.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
So... Nintendo has tersely confirmed that the Slide Pad Expansion i.e. 2nd analogue nub, is a real accessory coming to the 3DS. From the sounds of it, there is only 1 game scheduled so far that will use it: Monster Hunter 3G.
Nintendo has stumbled into the same controversy that dogged Sony's PSP for the life of that handheld. Will making a 2nd analogue nub split the console userbase between those who have it & those who don't? That's the reason Sony always gave to not put a 2nd nub on the PSP, they didn't want some games to only be playable with a 2nd nub making them unplayable to those who have older PSPs. By making the 3DS one an add-on, it's possible for all generations of 3DS's to play games that may require it. I suspect that Nintendo will revise the 3DS to incorporate the 2nd nub. Maybe that $80.00 price drop is starting to make more sense now, hey?
But... one of the main questions has to be, how many games are actually going to use this 2nd nub? I've already talked about the many add-on peripherals for the Wii. I own the Balance Board, Wii Motion Plus dongle (x2), Wii Zapper, Wii Wheel, & the Classic Controller (a third party one anyway)
And most if not all of them only have a few games that support them.
Closer to home, look at the peripherals released for the DS:
The most famous one might be the Guitar Hero button controller. But as far as I know, only the game it came packed with supports it.
It did have the unfortunate luck of coming out just as Nintendo released the DSi which eliminated the GBA slot it needs to plug in to. Activision must've been pissed about that.
Here's one I was sorta interested in, the paddle controller. It seems like it would be really cool to play Space Invaders Extreme with it.... but again, as far as I know, only 2 games support it (Arkanoid being the other)
Here's one that I actually own! This was such an oddball peripheral, when I saw it + the game on sale at Play-Asia a while ago, I bought it for a cheap price. It lets you slide the DS across a flat surface like a mouse to interact with the game. I actually haven't tried it yet.... it's all in Japanese, but when I have time....
So again, with all these peripherals for Nintendo consoles, all of them have one common factor: very few games support them. Perhaps the widest accepted one is Motion Plus which is now incorporated into all Wii remotes. But personally, I only have like maybe 2 games that need it.
Judging by this history, how will this "Slide Pad Expansion" be any different? Obviously, Monster Hunter 3G will support for sure. Right now it isn't even confirmed that game is coming to North America (I hope it does) but what else? If any third party developer wants to support the 2nd nub add-on, they'll also have to provide alternate controls for those 3DS owners who don't have/don't want/can't get the 2nd nub add-on. I bet even Monster Hunter 3G will have alternate controls to allow this.
Although this is the one peripheral I might say I want-- or feel that we as gamers have a need for-- the most, the track record for peripheral support isn't very good. It will be interesting to see if this one has more success than all the past ones.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Ok, Nintendo 3DS Blog first mentioned this a week or 2 ago, and now IGN actually mentioned it too... there's rumours that Nintendo are working on a 2nd analogue nub peripheral that will somehow attach to current 3DS systems, and that future 3DS's will have the nub built-in.
It sounds a bit crazy... but Nintendo can be crazy sometimes, can't they? My question is, how will a 2nd analogue nub attach to the 3DS? The 3DS doesn't have a data/USB port... so how would such an attachment communicate with the system? I've heard some talk that it could cover the XYAB (face) buttons.... the PSP has a few great shooters that use the face buttons for camera control: Resistance: Retribution, the Syphon Filter games & my faves, the Star Wars:Battlefront games. Closer to Nintendo, the DS game MechAssault: Phantom War also uses this control scheme.
But would we really need a nub to cover those buttons? I'm personally ok with just pressing the face buttons themselves.
Now that I think about it, a peripheral could possibly cover the touchscreen, and sort of jut out to the bottom right side for the analogue nub placement? It sounds nutty but.... I dunno. I can't see any other form of interface other than those 2 methods.
I photoshopped that image above a while ago, I was planning on doing a rant about the lack of a 2nd analogue nub on the 3DS. It was the single biggest mistake Sony made with the PSP, and Nintendo did it again with the 3DS. Sure it's a different company, but how could they miss all the hostility toward the PSP for not having a 2nd nub??
But now... while I do think that having a 2nd nub is better than not having it... it is not simply a matter of "if you build it, they will come". Third party game developers are incredibly lazy-- they do NOT want any deviation from the status quo. Any add-on peripheral, whether it's Motion Plus, the Wii Balance Board, or Wii Zapper/Wii Wheel... third parties do NOT want to develop for them because there's no guarantee that the majority of console owners will have these peripherals.
So while a 2nd nub would enhance some games, just because Nintendo decides to retro-fit one in to the 3DS, will that spur third party devs to create games that cater to it???
We'll see... if these rumours are true......
UPDATE: IGN has posted this pic of the peripheral:
Honestly, it kinda looks like an April Fool's joke. I still don't really get how it interfaces with the 3DS. Very odd.
It could possibly use an IR blaster????? There is an IR port on the 3DS....
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Log on to the eShop, once in the eShop main menu, scroll all the way left to Settings/Other, then go down to Your Downloads & the games will be there! Just have to tap on the Redownload button (I know I know, this is the first time we're downloading them.... just go with it)
And then.... enjoy!
The process is a bit cumbersome, after downloading each game you need to go back from the main menu, scroll down & "redownload" the next one. But they all seem to be very quick downloads. And don't forget the Ambassador Update video, click on Notifications if you want to receive any future Ambassador Program news updates through it.
So... after all that.... enjoy!
I still have to try them all out..... can't wait for the 10 GBA games...
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
nintendo3dsblog.com has posted the list revealed by Nintendo Japan of the 10 free NES games for those 3DS owners in the Ambassador Program!
- Super Mario Bros.
- Donkey Kong Jr.
- Balloon Fight
- Ice Climber
- The Legend of Zelda
- Wrecking Crew
- NES Open Tournament Golf
- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
Keep in mind that there is a chance the game lineup might be different for the North America release. I'm going to have to Google some of these games... NES golf... Wrecking Crew.... I've heard of Balloon Fight & Ice Climber but I've never played them.
ooohh.. I'm psyched to play Donkey Kong Jr. again!
Sunday, August 21, 2011
So Friday/Saturday was a tech frenzy the likes of which I have never seen... the great & terrible HP TouchPad hunt.
I heard about the HP TouchPad being discontinued, so I kept a bit of an eye on it, then I heard about the massive price slashing by The Source & Future Shop on Friday afternoon-- I rushed down to FS to grab one, they only had a 32gb left for $149.99 which I snatched up as quick as I could (this being Future Shop it took about 20 mins. waiting for a stupid manager to enter a password into a till)... what kinda irks me is that all the FS employees bought up most of the stock before the general public could get a chance-- they were crowing about it quite proudly, as were The Source employees when I went there looking for one. I didn't know a whole lot about it when I bought it, and had I known it has such a smooth UI & user experience I would've bought another for my dad. I *really* wish I could get another one for him. That's my big regret of this whole debacle.
What a score though... this has to be the best tech deal of the year for me. It's a sweet gadget that is not as good as it should be, but for my needs, it fits the bill quite well.
So basically, the TouchPad is one of the many tablets that have been released this year; in fact I think it only came out something like 50 days ago? Bizarre that HP would just drop it like they did & slash the price by 75%. It's a dead product but I'm still seeing those annoying HP Touchpad ads with Lea Michelle, or that boxer/politician on my TV in heavy rotation... guess HP paid up at least through the weekend. I can't imagine how much money they're losing by this decision to just scrap it.
There are good things & bad things about the HP TouchPad. For multimedia, pictures, music, video, it's as good as a phone/PSP, but with a bigger screen. HP's WebOS is different than what I'm used to, but surfing the web is a mostly smooth endeavor on it-- though there are a few quirks. Not a huge deal, but the web browser can't be set to launch on a homepage. You tap to open it & then you gotta input a URL or side swipe to open the Bookmarks list. Just little things like that which make it less dynamic than it should be. But compare it to my phone browser (Android 2.1) which is OK, but is clunkier than the TouchPad browser. Then we go down further on the handheld browser list, to the Nintendo 3DS (very clunky) browser and the PSP browser. So for a portable/handheld, the TouchPad scores very well. But... compare the TouchPad to my Toshiba NB205 netbook, and it's a different ballgame.
I'm not sure it's fair to compare a tablet like the HP TouchPad to a netbook/laptop, but with the MSRPs of tablets being firmly in the $400.00-$500.00 range, it's gotta be a consideration. Let me put it this way-- I'm typing up this post using my netbook. Hell yeah did I consider doing it on the TouchPad, but the onscreen keyboard is pretty finicky. I'm used to the Android keyboard on my little HTC Legend being cumbersome... yes the TouchPad is bigger, but it takes more than double the time to type things than it does with my netbook keyboard. Using the TouchPad to do general websurfing is great. Flash loads up fine, and I haven't had any problem viewing embedded video. I can post the odd comment on message boards, but any sort of content creation, whether it's blogs or whatever, is kinda hard. I will try to post an entry using the TouchPad sometime.
The body is very black, rounded & smooth. It's also a huge fingerprint magnet. It's heavier than I thought it would be, and with the rounded body shape & weight I can't find a decent stand for it yet.
There are 2 speakers along the length of the side/bottom of it, which sound better than most handhelds (including my crap netbook speaker)but they are recessed into the smooth body & the speaker holes feel bit sharp when you hold the tablet soemtimes. the HP TouchPad also has bluetooth, I synced it with my Creative D100 bluetooth speakers and it sounds great.
The TouchPad has a front-facing camera, but no rear one. And the camera can only be used with one app, Skype. Reminds me of my PSPgo mic that has never been used because I don't Skype.
I bought the HP TouchPad with the hopes of it being a good photo viewer, music player & most important: video player.
USB - The TouchPad is seen as a USB drive, which means drag & drop. I love that! I hate having to use software to load media onto a device... it's one of the main reasons I haven't gotten an idevice yet. It has a micro USB port at the bottom of it, again no proprietary cable, I can use the same cables that I use for my phone. The USB cable it comes with also plugs into a dongle that is a power adapter wall plug. I don't think that a USB drive or memory stick can be plugged directly into the TouchPad, it does not look like there's a USB Hosting feature. The only quirk I discovered with the TouchPad is that it has to be ejected by right-clicking EJECT on the device icon in Windows. If you use the Eject USB Device command in Windows, it doesn't unmount it properly, and you'll get this "Ouch!" message on the TouchPad.
Music - The HP TouchPad supports .mp3, AAC, non-protected files (non-DRM) I haven't put much music on it yet, it's not high on my list as I'm really happy with my HTC Legend phone as my main music player. The HP TouchPad music player interface is basic, there are 2 views, list and side-scrolling album view. Playlist creation is fairly easy, tap+hold a song, then drag it to a playlist along a side panel to add it. Songs can be repeat one/all/shuffle & the usual album/artist/genre categories.
Video - Much like Android, videos are in the Photos section, all mixed in. There's 2 settings for video: fullscreen or original aspect ratio. It only plays .MP4 files, .MP4 simple profile, H.263/H.264. Which is very limited. But-- it actually plays my PSP Video 9 encoded PSP videos!!! I am *so* happy about that because I've rarely come across ANYTHING that can play those. And it plays them well, usually the best I can get is a buggy playback from any handheld that's not a PSP. So for me specifically, this is an awesome video player. More codec support would be nice. What's bad about the video playback is that it doesn't show the name of the video file, nor a thumbnail image.
The video controls are very basic, it's similar to the Android/iOS with the length bar, but the bar is ridiculously small for the size of the screen. So moving the playback cursor is really tricky & strangely not nearly as good as on the tiny screen of my HTC Legend, which itself is not nearly as good as the precise video playback controls of the PSP. For a screen the size of the TouchPad, it's stupid to have such a small playback bar. Again, could be fixed with an update, but...
Photos - Supports .JPG. Photos do show thumbnails, and the basic functions are here, there's a slideshow option of course. The slideshow transitions, well.. there's only one that I know of, and it's not very good. It works, but it ain't fancy. Even my Aluratek has better slideshow transition options.
Multitasking apps - The HP TouchPad can do multitasking quite well. I can play music while web browsing, open up vids/pics, pause that to do some web browsing, and come back to it. The interface uses
I think the TouchPad was rushed to market too early, and I also think that all the tablets are overpriced. Last year I was lusting a bit for an iPad, and I've always been interested in the tablet market. I was hoping that these tablet wars would offer some good deals as the competition heats up. I did not expect a firesale like this. It's kinda sad, actually, even though I don't think the HP TouchPad is worth $400-$500, it shouldn't be discontinued, especially so early in its lifespan. HP has some weird things going on, and with the rumblings that they might be leaving the PC market altogether, that's not good for consumers at all. I think we may see computer prices rise sharply if there's one less major company making entry-priced PCs. If the TouchPad or other tablets were priced starting at $350.00 or $250.00, then they'd be more enticing for people to buy. I don't know if it's the iPad(1/2) effect or what, but it just seems like the pricing is too steep for what they actually offer to the user. Just go to Staples, seeing their display of tablets, there are so many out there that I wonder if we'll see some more tablet firesales as competitors fall by the wayside. Motorola Xoom, BlacBerry Playbook-- I'm looking at you!
Before buying the HP TouchPad I wasn't familiar with WebOS, so now I'm trying to discover as much as I can about it. It's essentially a phone OS with a UI tweaked for tablets. But basically the same can be said for all the tablet OS's, right? Tablets are just bigger versions of smartphones. In some ways that's a good thing, but they need to be priced more reasonably. Smartphones themselves are also frustratingly overpriced, but the market demand for them unfortunately has made it profitable for all the companies (manufacturers & service providers) to overcharge.
It's too bad that there will be no support for WebOS, while I don't like it overall as much as Android, it's a smooth interface that could be improved and could have been a contender. That's the same that could be said about the HP TouchPad itself. We hardly knew ya.... there may be no future for this gadget, but in the meantime I'm having fun with it, for the price it was a great buy & now I'm looking harder at other tablets. if I could find one that's better than this, I'd gladly pay more for it.
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