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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

3DS Ambassador Program: Step 4 - download games early!

Wow, a bit of a surprise.... Nintendo has made the 10 free NES games available today, one day early!

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...

Thanks Nintendo!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

List of 10 NES games from Ambassador Program

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
  • Yoshi
  • Metroid
  • 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

HP TouchPad 32gb

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. So you load it up with videos & get a bunch of generic video icons with only the length. No title, no date, nothing about it other than the length. That is very annoying especially if you want a lot of vids on it. I think the TouchPad was rushed to market, though things like this could be fixed with a software update if only HP hadn't abandoned it so quickly. UPDATE: I installed WebOS update 3.0.2 68 and now videos show their names! So that's an improvement.

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 windows "cards" which works fairly well. Let's say you're looking at a web page, and you want to open another web page up, it creates another card that stacks up over the previous one, and so on. So you swipe from the bottom of the TouchPad to go back to your stack of cards, and you can tap on whichever in the deck or to close one or all, you flick it up & it throws it away. That's how all the apps operate. Very nice & smooth. I love just flicking things away on this thing.

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.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

3DS Ambassador Program: Step 3 - serial number confirmation

Nintendo finally got around to putting up a site to confirm that you're enrolled in the 3DS Ambassador Program: [click here]

From the site:

Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Eligibility

To verify that you are eligible for the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador program, enter the serial number in the box below. The serial number for a Nintendo 3DS is located on the bottom of the system - just below the barcode - and starts with the letters CW followed by 9 digits. (Be sure to include the last number in the box.)

I checked, and mine seemed to be alright. I got this message:

Serial Number:
"CW000000000" <==== (not my actual serial number, just used as an example)

You are a Nintendo 3DS Ambassador!

Starting Sept. 1, Ambassadors will be able to download 10 NES™ Virtual Console™ games at no charge from the Nintendo eShop. By the end of 2011, Nintendo will also provide Ambassadors with 10 Game Boy™ Advance Virtual Console games. Look for more information soon.

Important: If you have not already done so, connect to the Nintendo eShop today to make sure you are ready to download your free games starting Sept. 1. (How To) Connecting to the Nintendo eShop for the first time after Sept. 1 could delay the availability of the games.

Cool! Actually, I copy + pasted that message from the site, but what got copied was MORE than that. There was another message that doesn't show up on the page, something along the lines of "We can't read your serial number, call Nintendo for support, etc. etc." I should've kept that text, but anyway, I guess it's part of the javascript that Nintendo is using on their site. A worst-case scenario message. But if there was such a situation, I expect that all a 3DS early adopter would have to do is mail Nintendo a copy of their receipt-- as long as it's dated before August 12, 2011, it should be ok.

So now it's just waiting 10 days or so....


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Star Fox 64 3D coming

I really like flying games, after squeezing most of the fun out of Pilot Wings: Resort (I'm replaying it with my Darth Vader Mii), I am eagerly awaiting the Ace Combat 3DS game.

But closer on the horizon is Star Fox 64 3D which is coming September 9, 2011.

The overall gameplay looks cool. But like Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, I've never played Star Fox 64 before. So there's no built-in nostalgia for me with these games.

And I have to say, the look of Star Fox 64 3D.... it just looks so dated. I wish they'd just make a whole new Star Fox game with updated designs. That's also part of my problem with Zelda... let's face it, Link looks stupid with that outfit in 3-D, bump mapping graphics.

I am still excited for Star Fox 64 3D though.... the core gameplay looks fun. Just not too impressed by the look of it.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Streamlined Wii with no GameCube support coming to UK

What the heck is with Sony & Nintendo messing around with their end-of-life consoles, stripping away features & offering a lower MSRP?? First the PSP E-1000 & now this?

Nintendo is apparently offering a "streamlined" version of the Wii in the U.K
., it won't support Gamecube games or controllers. It will have a Wii controller with Motion Plus built in, and looks like it will be bundled with Wii Party & Wii Sports. They say that this Wii will be designed more to sit horizontally rather than upright vertically.... but um, the Wii can ALREADY be set up horizontally, ironically that's how Nintendo suggests it should be set up when Gamecube controllers are connected to it...

I guess this is more significant in Europe, where it seems like consoles cost a lot more than they do in Canada. So any price drop is a good thing.

I don't play Gamecube games on my Wii a lot, but I do appreciate the feature. I hate it when console makers take OUT features in consoles.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New Wi-Fi less PSP - Europe only?

Ok, how odd is this? Sony announced a new PSP model-- *NO* not the Playstation Vita-- a PSP.... that has no Wi-fi capabilities, a slightly tweaked design based off the PSP-3000, & a budget price: €99.00.

The rejigged volume/start/select button area looks rather ugly. Are they a one-piece membrane overlay similar to the 3DS? Or are they capacitive touch buttons?? (yeah right) And it looks like the entire back opens up to access the UMD drive??? Very strange. This PSP E-1000 is going to have the same matte finish as the PS3. I do like the embossed Sony logo at the top right corner.

There aren't any plans to release this model outside of Europe.

[Check out these pics of it at Engadget's PSP E-1000 gallery]

I actually noticed something else about the PSP E-1000, there's only 1 speaker area. So it's only got a mono speaker?? The headphone jack is moved to closer to the bottom center of the unit-- it doesn't look like there's a port for the remote/video out, but it's hard to tell from the pics at this point.... and there is a switch-- if that's not for Wi-Fi, it must be for the UMD door??? I think it may be the power switch. Where's the memory stick door?

It is somewhat intriguing, but why keep tinkering with the PSP? I guess Sony doesn't think it's dead yet.... at least not in Europe. And I think Japan still shows support for the handheld.

But you know what? The PSP *isn't* quite dead here in North America either. I wouldn't go so far as to say that now is the BEST time to buy a PSP, but... well, the other day I was in Future Shop, and I scanned the PSP game racks. Almost all the major PSP UMD games are priced at $9.99. It's possible to get Resistance: Retribution, the Syphon Filter games, Twisted Metal, Wipeout, etc.... most of the best of the PSP library, right now for $9.99 a game. That's pretty amazing when you stop to think about it.

Obviously, there isn't going to be much new software support coming for the PSP. But if someone was interested in a budget handheld gaming system, the PSP is a not bad choice, considering there's about 12+ major titles that are $10.00 & probably still some other good deals if one keeps an eye out.

If someone was debating between a PSP & a PS Vita, of course the choice has to be the Vita. But if someone was simply looking for a good budget game player & not concerned with the latest games, the PSP fits the bill. The only caveat I would attach to that is I'm not sure the PSP is great for little kids. There's Loco Roco, Me & My Katamari, and a few others but I'm not sure the overall library is all that little-kid-friendly. Just my 2 cents.

I guess Sony is seeing the PSP as filling the gap until the "delayed" Vita comes out.


Super Mario 3D Land & Mariokart 7 footage

I just came across these videos of some gameplay action for Super Mario 3D Land & Mario Kart 7.

I have had my ups & downs with the Mario franchise, but I have to admit, it's hard not be excited for these titles.... they look really great.

Super Mario Land 3D is supposed to be coming in early-mid November, and Mario Kart 7 in Dec(?) 2011... very close release dates for major Nintendo franchises. I'm not sure I believe that they'll BOTH be out this year... this is sorta like Sony's "lie" about the PS Vita release date... but then again, Nintendo is clearly desperate for some game support for the fledgling 3DS. If at least one of them comes out this year, I'll be happy.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

3DS Ambassador Program: Step 2 - The Waiting

I logged in to the Nintendo eShop the morning of Aug 11... checked that I still had the You are an Ambassador! message in the NEWS section... looked good...

But I just logged in to the eShop just now (past 11:00pm Pacific time) and the Ambassador message is gone! I was kinda freaked.

So I checked the official Nintendo page about How to tell if you're an Ambassador and the message changed from what was posted there earlier in the day. Now it says:

  • If you are unsure of your Ambassador status, you can check back here later next week for more information on checking your Nintendo 3DS Ambassador status.

So I guess Nintendo will be trickling out some more info about next week? I've been screwed by Sony's Playstation Store too many times, so I hope everything goes smoothly with this Nintendo Ambassador program.

We'll see come September 1, 2011.


Shaw digital TV network upgrade

I'm pretty depressed today.

Got this letter in the mail with big bold letters saying YOUR CABLE SERVICE IS CHANGING TO DIGITAL TV

And it goes on to say how my cable provider, Shaw, is basically taking away my analog TV service. I have no choice but to switch to digital unless I only want "basic cable".

Basically, "DIGITAL TV" is a digital box that Shaw forces people to use. This box plugs the "analog hole", making it impossible to tape TV shows with a VCR..... or in my case, my Neuros Recorder II+.

I love my Neuros Recorder II+ ever since I got it in Nov. 2007. It records in .MP4 simple profile format which is compatible with my PSP, giving it a lot of functionality for me. Not only do the files play on PSP, but also my Play-Yan Micro (Game Boy Micro, DS Lite) and my current fave handheld, my HTC Legend phone. I tape TV shows all the time for watching on my handhelds when I'm away & bored.

And it looks like that's coming to an end. Shaw sucks. I'm really pissed off about this because there's NO reason for them to remove features from "cable" TV. The truth is that the cable signal I'm getting, the channels are ALREADY broadcasting those in digital. They're just using the mandated switch from analog to digital as a cover to force people into the plans Shaw wants them to have.

Looks like I need to learn up on torrents or something.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

3DS stacked on DS Lite glitch

Last night I came across a weird thing with my 3DS.

I had my 3DS closed, in sleep mode (I was playing Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D 'natch) and I stacked it on top of my completely turned-off DS Lite, similar to this pic (not my hand BTW):

When... while closed, the 3DS came out of sleep mode! I could see the screens lit up & the RE:M3D music was playing! Very weird.

After doing a bit of research, I came across a bunch of Youtube videos showing the same thing. Here's one of them:

Basically, I guess it's the magnets in the DS Lites' speakers that affect the 3DS? Very weird. I flipped the DS Lite over to see if the bottom side would do the same thing & it wouldn't. I also tried putting the magnetic clasp of my DS Lite/3DS case under the 3DS & couldn't replicate it either. I guess the DS Lite speaker magnets happen to be just exactly placed to cause this weird phenomenon. I had no idea that the DS Lite could wake the 3DS out of sleep mode. I don't want to mess with it too much 'cause I don't know how it will affect the long-term health of my 3DS....


Thursday, August 4, 2011

FYI: log in to Nintendo eShop before August 12, 2011

Ok, so we know about Nintendo's Ambassador program where they will reward early adopters "Nintendo Ambassadors" who bought the 3DS at launch (or before August 12 at least) with a bunch of games; 10 games in September 2011, and another 10(?) by the end of 2011(?)..... yeah I'm still a little iffy on the whole thing at this point.

Nintendo says 3DS owners need to use their handheld to log into the eShop before August 12, 2011. But the Notifications message I got from Nintendo on my 3DS says:

These free games are available to Nintendo 3DS owners who connect the the Nintendo eShop at least once before 11:59 p.m. Eastern/8;59 p.m. Pacific time on Aug. 11, 2011.

Now, I may be reading more into it, but it seems like we need to log into the eShop *ON* August 11, not just before then. Like, that specific day. I've been logging in a lot lately, and I haven't gotten any kind of acknowledgment that I've been enrolled in the "Ambassador program". Maybe on August 12, 2011 they will send out a notification.

UPDATE: I just checked the eShop late tonight and what do you know-- a eShop News update that says I'm an Ambassador:

So I guess I'm enrolled now...

But maybe they only count the 3DS's that log on specifically on August 11. That seems stupid, I hope that there isn't too much traffic that day. Also, it's important to note that while the deadline is 11:59pm Eastern time, that's 8:59pm--before 9:00pm-- Pacific time. So I have even less time.

Yeah, you better believe I will NOT forget to log in that day. But I am wary of online registrations; I've been burned pretty badly by Sony in the past... the last time they never sent me the free movie they said they would. We'll see how this Nintendo one works out, but it seems very rushed. I hope they have their bases covered.

And finally, it's a given that this is only available to people who have access to wi-fi. Some places have lots of free wi-fi available to them, but some don't. I myself only got wi-fi in late 2009 (now I wonder how I ever lived without it)... I dunno, I guess wi-fi is easily available enough nowadays, even McDonalds has it.... but I don't think I would trust a set of one-time downloads to McDonald's wi-fi.


Playstation Vita coming in 2012

Ok, now THIS is the Sony I remember. Despite everyone assuming that the PS Vita will be out "here" (North America) in late October 2011, Sony's pushed back their date to 2012. I was skeptical of a release this year from the get-go. I can usually tell when Sony is BSing-- because most of what they say is BS-- and when they kinda mumbled that during E3, I filed that under the "yeah right" category. But I was still hopeful. Oh well.

This is kinda good for people who were on the fence about getting a 3DS. I think the threat of PS Vita's arrival in 2011 caused Nintendo to jump the gun a bit on that massive price drop. Now that Sony's backing away from their overly-aggressive launch window, Nintendo's probably a bit pissed.

If Sony & Nintendo's handhelds last another generation I think we'll see more staggered release dates. I think both companies would love to see new iterations in the middle of each others current handheld lifespans, rather than both starting at the same time.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D

I bought Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D last Sunday.... it was on sale at Future Shop for $29.99, and of course there had to be some SNAFU of some sort, right? It just wouldn't be Future Shop if it was easy. I go in there early, 'cause I had to go out to lunch-- so I didn't have a lot of time-- and see 1 copy on the shelf, no label, grab it & just when I'm about to hand over my payment the cashier says it's like $44-something (with tax) .... wait, what?? I told them I thought it was on sale for $29.99, I saw it online somewhere but I couldn't remember where.... was I mistaken? Was it some other store? Best Buy? Toys 'R Us? Walmart?? The Future Shop people had no clue (shocking, I know) so I canceled my purchase.

Later I get back home & check the Future Shop website. If you see the listing, the Future Shop site only calls it "Resident Evil" but judging by the box art it's clearly Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D. And there are no other Resident Evil games for the 3DS right now. So I go BACK to that damn Future Shop, tell the guy I saw earlier that day about the site listing, he checks it, then he checks the item number--they match-- then, he had to do some sort of "online pricematch" to give it to me for the $29.99 sale price. Sheesh.

Anyway, I've been playing it like crazy the past couple days. In some ways it's sorta like Steel Diver & much of the 3DS launch titles: polished, but light on content. It looks REALLY GOOD. The sound is also great, the production values in general are really impressive. This game shows the power of the 3DS, this is slightly better than what I've seen on the PSP. Aside from a few minor graphical hiccups, it looks really close to Resident Evil 5 on the consoles. It's gorgeous.

Aside from the non-erasable save data debacle the game set off, a lot of reviews complain about the light content & how this is a minigame mode from past Resident Evil games. There are 5 levels each with 3-5 maps to play... but a lot of the maps are reused in different levels. And the game makes use of one of my much-hated gameplay mechanics: time limits. But like one of my fave PSP games, Chili Con Carnage, I think the time limits here are important to this style of arcadey gameplay. Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D reminds me a lot of Chili Con Carnage: they are both "kill as many enemies & rack up as many combos as possible within the time limit" games. But the limitations of these kinds of games is they have fairly shallow game content. Not hours & hours of exploration & something new around every corner. Still, the bottom line is, these games are fun. That's another thing a lot of the reviews also say... despite giving the game negative scores, they almost always say it's FUN.

And hell yeah is Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D fun. I am having a blast with it. It looks super pretty & sounds great. It's a very just load it up & have a few minutes of intense zombie-killing action type of game. Not much more than that.

But I keep coming back to it, even though you're playing for minutes at a time, I can sink a few hours into it.... unfortunately, this game is reminding me of one of the 3DS' biggest weaknesses: the battery life. I'm constantly running out of juice on this thing during marathon playing sessions... hell, I get about the same or less play time than with the PSP. Maybe a bit less.

Having a second screen for the item/weapon inventory is really helpful, and they streamlined it a lot more than what it was for Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition. So it's a much faster-paced game than that one, it takes the classic basic Resident Evil clunky control scheme and makes it faster than it's ever been before. For the most part it works well.

One of the surprising disappointments is the included demo of Resident Evil: Revelations. A lot of people are passing on this game in favour of that one. But honestly, after playing the demo..... I thought it looked terrible. The graphics were really bad, the interface with the huge Y button on the doors was bad & you have to hold down B & use the circle pad just to run?? I know this is just a demo so maybe the final game will look much more polished, but man, aside from a few really nice looking effects like light shining through a broken window, Resident Evil: Revelations looks AWFUL. Take a look at the trailer if you need a point of reference, I think the graphics look the same as that. Even though The Mercenaries takes a lot of its look from Resident Evil 5 (& RE4)

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D may not be worth the full $39.99 MSRP, but for $20.00 I'd say it's worth it. The $29.99 I paid for it is worth it depending on how desperate you are for a fast-paced arcadey shooter on the 3DS, which I was *very* desperate for.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Playstation Vita - do I want?

I've been fairly obsessed with the Nintendo 3DS lately, but the Playstation Vita is in the back of my mind... the PSP is my all-time fave gaming/multimedia handheld after all....

But I have to admit, I'm not super SUPER excited over it the way other bloggers & posters seem to be. Sony did say that it was coming this year, and according to 3rd party leaks it may have a UK release date of October 28, 2011?

I've been kind of skeptical that the PS Vita would be out in 2011, but maybe it could happen... so that's got me perked up, that it's within reach this year.

Another thing I can't understand the excitement over is that everyone assumes that it will be super powerful & do everything. These were the EXACT SAME assumptions fans made before the PSP came out, but 2005 was so 100 years ago (give or take 94) Nobody who was around back when the PSP launched is even ALIVE nowadays, right??

Ok, there will be a PS Vita SKU with 3G connectivity. I think they all have wireless B/G/N(?) and there's a capacitive touch screen-- good that it's capacitive-- and touch panel on the back, motion sensors (like the 3DS) and GPS(?)

But we don't know the media playback formats, nor do we know anything about what kind of "apps" there will be. This thing isn't running Android where you can mod it like crazy, nor is it an Apple iOS device with a huge selection already.

So why are people just assuming that it's going to be this multimedia monster when there's no solid official indication to back it up yet?

Then there's the game: well, everyone's excited for an Uncharted game, then there's that Little Deviants where you pinch the front/back touchpads & such, and a few other portable versions of third-party franchises vaguely announced (title only)

So why the excitement? Sure, if you're an Uncharted fan then I guess this is your portable year. But it's like Nintendo pinning all their hopes on Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D for the 3DS. It's ONE game, what ELSE is there?

I've made it no secret that I haven't been happy with Sony over the years. Sorry to come off as a hater... like I said, I *love* the PSP, and I'm really looking forward to its successor. I don't know, maybe it will blow away the 3DS. I can tell you I used my PSP(s) way more than my DS Lite (though I do love my DS Lite) because I value multimedia as much as portable gaming, and the PSP fit that niche very well. Maybe the PS Vita will.... but it's whole different ballgame now. This is the era of the Smartphones. They are for different customers but there's clearly a lot of overlap between the user base.

In 2005 the market was shocked to see Sony enter the handheld gaming field with a big splash. In 2011, we have 2 dinosaurs of the videogame industry pumping out slight iterations of past innovations, expecting to charge $40.00+ per cartridge game in a world where pocketable phones with huge processing power can load games on their internal storage that might cost from $0.00 to say, $8.00 or so per game. Aside from the quality and physical buttons argument, the portable gaming industry has changed.

Even though the PS Vita feels like a last kick at the can, I'm still anxious to learn more about it. I'm sure I can see it in my collection, but right now I can't see it being my go-to device the way the PSP was.


Monday, August 1, 2011

3DS screen scratches avoidence fix

I posted before about the 3DS screen scratch problem. It's starting to bug me a bit. I recently returned from a trip where I had my 3DS in a backpack so I guess stuff might have been slightly pressing the 2 clamshell sides together, because I noticed that line when I pulled it out.

So I saw this vid about how to raise the 3DS top screen enough so that it doesn't come into contact with the bottom one. There are only 2 little rubber bumpers that prevent that when the 3DS is closed, and they aren't high enough in a lot of 3DS's (including mine)

This guy pulled the rubber bumpers out, put double-sided foam tape that's for the Wii sensor bar under them then put them back in, raising the bumper profile enough.

[The 3DS Line Fix - YouTube vid]

This fix doesn't really do much if you've already got scratches but it can prevent them from getting worse.

I just did this mod and it seems to work. Ironically, after having it hang around taking up space for like 3 years, I put my Wii box in the recycling bin last year... so I didn't have my Wii sensor double-sided tape. Luckily, a friend still had their Wii box-- with the unused/un-needed tape inside-- so I was able to do it.

The 3DS seems to go into sleep mode ok when it's closed. Only problem is that I think I created some scratches around the left bumper while removing/reinserting it. Man, even when I'm trying to avoid scratches, I create scratches.... can I ever get a break?? At least they aren't on the screen but still....

I had a chance to see a recently bought 3DS, and I noticed that its rubber bumpers were visably higher than mine, so I guess Nintendo fixed the issue... which is such a stupid & simple oversight that NEVER should've made it to the public units in the first place.

UPDATE: Below are the bumpers from a recently bought 3DS:

They are definitely 1-2 mm higher than my original ones. Mine were more flush with the edge of the top panel, barely extending over it at all.

I could've sent my unit to Nintendo, but I know first-hand from my warranty replaced PSP-2001 that what these companies do is send you someone else's fixed unit that was previously sent in for repairs. So it's a gamble whether you're trading in one problem for another.


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