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Friday, November 23, 2012

I bought a Playbook... again

Wow, I almost can't believe I bought a BlackBerry PlayBook again. Last time I thought it was a good deal at $250.00? But since then the 32GB version has come down to $118.98 during sales, and $150.00 regular price. Poor RIM... there's no denying that they are in a bad place in the mobile marketplace but the Playbook is still a good piece of hardware that is undervalued, perhaps even by BlackBerry themselves.

I was humming and hawwing for awhile about rebuying a Playbook, but at the price point, it serves my needs: photos, Internet. Video playback is still atrocious for me, but at least I found a free player that will play the videos made on my Galaxy S Glide phone (the default player stutters and drops frames on these videos like crazy-- awful) So I have limited needs for the PlayBook this time around, mostly just a 7" photo viewer I can put my China trips photos on... I do hope that functionality improves even more in the future... BB10, hope, hope?

I have to say, the onscreen keyboard is one of the better ones I've used. I'm typing this entry on it in portrait mode right now, and the word correction and "thumb span" seem very good. Not to mention that it actually works with Blogger, unlike my Android phone... Hello, clueless Google? If I can upload pictures, it will be near perfect.

UPDATE: I found an issue with the screen, there was something stuck under the glass. Not a dead pixel, but a little dot of something. Also, there was a gap along the edge where the volume/power buttons are. I returned the unit, lucked out that Staples had another. This one has no screen issues or gap, though I'm not sure if the wifi is quite as strong on it.


Friday, September 7, 2012

PS Vita update 1.80

The PS Vita system update 1.80 gave us a few notable tweaks-- we can now use the hardware controls to navigate the menus! Just go into SETTINGS>SYSTEM>and check Control with Buttons on PS Vita System. Both the left analogue stick & D-pad can be used to move around icons and X button selects things. Long pressing the O button even does the peel away effect for closing things, but the PS button is still used to get to that screen in apps.

Also of note is 1.80 allows support of PS One games. I haven't tried it yet myself, I have one PS one game and it isn't available on Vita yet.... waitasec-- I just checked my Downloads list on PSN, and it seems I *can* download my lone PS One game, Nuclear Strike.... so I will try that out & report back later!

For me, the one of the big things of 1.80 is that it seems to fix the video pause sleep feature that was missing since the Vita launched. Specifically, if you paused a video, the Vita never goes into sleep mode. it would leave the screen on forever-- or presumably until the battery died. (But what it if was plugged in?)  That's really bad... but now, it does seem to go into sleep mode, the screen turns off after 5 minutes? A welcome fix, for sure.

The big issue that is NOT advertised is that update 1.80 locks memory cards to a single PSN account. Some people have multiple accounts to access other region games, and this makes it harder to do. [Wired article]

And I'm sure that there are a bunch of piracy and homebrew blocks embedded in 1.80 as well.

Full list of features & info: http://blog.us.playstation.com/2012/08/14/psone-classics-coming-to-ps-vita-via-the-latest-system-software-update-v1-80/


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Got my 3DS XL!

Sunday, August 19, 2012: The North American release date for the 3DS XL. Can be bought at major electronics retailers. Since I pre-ordered ONLY to get a $20.00 e-coupon, I have to wait.

Monday, August 20, 2012 10:11am: Canada Post delivers my red 3DS XL! Yay!

In a nutshell: it's a bigger 3DS. 'Nuff said!

But going more in depth, there;s obviously more to the system than that.

What's bizarre is that the 3DS XL box is smaller than the 3DS box. It is packed really tight. 

I was a bit... apprehensive when I noticed the box had been a bit scrunched. Luckily it was on the side that has only the manuals & paperwork. But that's another reason why I would rather be able to buy my system from a store, rather than be at the mercy of Canada Post.

The design is more simple than the 3DS, it feels more like a throwback to the DS Lite. It reminds me a lot of my red & black DS Lite that came in a Brain Age 2 bundle. There are only 2 tones to it, the outside is a flat red with a slight metallic sheen to it, it actually looks quite nice. But even though it's flat, it still picks up fingerprints & oil pretty badly. Only after a short time of owning it, it's gotten prints on it. Also it is a lot more slippery than it looks-- in fact even though the old 3DS has a more glossy body, the 3DS XL outer panels are MORE slippery than the 3DS!


The inside is a black matte that really reminds me a lot of my DS Lite. It seems more fingerprint resistant than the outside, and the gloss surface of the old 3DS. It also has a very minimalistic look.

The hinge is very reminiscent of  the DS Lite.. so much so, that I'm a bit worried about the hinge crack issue that plagued that model... hope not....

I may be in the minority here, but I really liked the look of the original 3DS, sandwich tones and all. The original 3DS managed to straddle the line between the sophisticated look of a quality electronic gadget for adults and the toy-like colours of a fun game console for kids. While some could choose the black to give it a more adult look, I loved that contrast with the blue. But overall, the 3DS XL skews more towards the cheaper, toy-like feel that Nintendo consoles have traditionally had.

But the  rounded underside makes for a more ergonomic feel than perhaps any previous Nintendo handheld.Unfortunately the bubbly feel of the bottom shell also sorta feels hollowish... like you could put a dent in it if you pressed down hard enough. And the outer red plates aren't seamless, some areas on my 3DS XL they have a very slight gap where it meets the black part, marring the overall build quality and adding to the cheap, toy-like feel of the XL. it doesn't have as solid a feel as the original 3DS.

Where it does improve, are the bottom corners....  they used to jab into my palms on the original 3DS and now they.... jab less on the 3DS XL. Yes, they still do jab into my palms but the corners are so large that it's not as bad. I will have to really put in a lot more gametime to see for sure. I can't feel the holes in the bottom corners for the straps when I hold the XL, even though they look huge in all the closeup pictures, in reality they are not that big.

The analogue nub feels more or less the same, though mine seems to have some excess plastic flashing along the bottom edge, which screams cheap build quality, though it doesn't affect gameplay in any way.

The shoulder buttons, D-pad & face buttons feel exactly the same to me as my DS Lite. I'm HATING how all the reviews and first impressions are saying they are stiffer than the original 3DS..... gee, a new console right out of the box has STIFFER buttons than your 18-month-old console that has gone through hours and hours of gaming sessions... REALLY? DO TELL.Wow, I never would have thought that! Sheesh, what dumbasses.... the only way to properly compare that would take at least a few weeks of using the 3DS XL a lot, if not like 3 months of heavy use.

The SELECT, HOME, START buttons are better.... but not what people might expect. Even though they look like regular physical "push straight down" buttons, I think they are hinged at the top, sorta like piano keys. They work great if you press them at the bottom edge of the button, but if you press in the center or top, they don't work as well. I am really growing to hate the membrane buttons on the original 3DS, so I'm fairly happy with the new ones.

Audio quality definitely took a hit with the 3DS XL. The speaker output is less than the 3DS, and sound is tinnier. The 3DS wasn't exactly known for having loud audio in the first place, and the XL is slightly worse. 

The headphones jack is moved to the bottom left corner. I thought I would like this, because it's more like the PSP, but I kinda wish it was a bit more like the Vita where it is to the side, but not too close to the corner.

The screen: If there ever was a reason to upgrade to the 3DS XL, it would be the larger screen(s). We all know about the lower pixel density, but the image quality is not bad, it is more or less the same 3DS on a larger screen. The 3-D is also more or less the same.... BUT... there are some issues. People have been complaining of a smaller sweet spot, and also black banding lines. I have encountered the banding lines, to me they are more like vertical shadows of pillars  across the screen, they don't obscure the image but kinda darken it in places.

This is a simulated photo of what they kinda look like:

 They are more like shadows across the screen or refractions of some sort.

I notice them more when I'm not wearing my glasses or contact lenses, but they are definitely more prominent when comparing the 3DS XL to the 3DS side by side. Maybe Nintendo was considering this screen size for the original 3DS but because of the "instability" of the image quality, perhaps that's why they went with such a small screen on the original? If this was what it was like on the original, the first mainstream exposure to glasses-free 3-D, I think I would have chocked it up to the new technology and still been grateful for having a dynamic experience with my first 3D gaming console. But seeing this after the original 3DS screen quality, it is disappointing, and again smacks of cheapness.

So basically, what I'm trying to say is that it isn't yet a dealbreaker for me, I'm going to keep playing my XL for awhile to see if my eyes adjust or if it becomes more tolerable. I almost always play my old 3DS with 3D on full all the time.

But the 3D itself does look really good, it is basically the same as the original 3DS only bigger. I'm playing Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D on it and I am amazed how much easier and smoother it is to play on a larger screen. I can pull off more precisely aimed shots than I can do on my original 3DS. It looks SO GOOD on the bigger screen.

Screen scratch issue-- is there (a new) one? I breathed a sigh of relief when I opened my 3DS XL and found the screens to be scratch-free. Also, when closed, I shone a flashlight through the center to see of there was a visable gap between the panels... yes, it appears so. I have heard of screen scratches-- odd little circle marks-- appearing on the top screen after owning a 3DS XL for awhile, but I can't figure out what would cause that. So only time will tell for sure... I hope it doesn't happen to me.

Unlike the original 3DS which was packed with a foam sheet to protect the screens, the XL didn't come with any sheet or anything protecting the screens, only the foam bag holding the system itself. Nintendo is either supremely confident they have the screen scratch problem fixed or they are super cheap...

There is another click setting for the screen angle, about 100 degrees, making the 3DS XL look like a laptop. At first I thought it might be really handy for watching Nintendo Video, but because of the black lines issue, if you are off the sweet spot they are very visible, and I personally see them when my XL screen is propped at that angle. I think this "feature" is more of an attract mode for stores and advertising to display the 3DS XL in a sexy way. Not very practical in real-world use.

On the bottom screen there is a strange gritty feel to it... I don't like it, but I think that it might be a coating to protect the touchscreen? I think it will wear off over time.


It's really  nice to see my 3DS XL is about "equal" to my PS Vita... at least in physical size. but with both devices turned on, the Vita screen does put the 3DS XL to shame a little bit. But the Vita doesn't do 3D...

All the reviews basically say the same; the 3DS XL is nice, but not an essential replacement for the 3DS. And while I am liking it so far, if I had to stick with my 3DS, I'd be ok with that. The 3DS is not perfect, but it is still a nice portable system that has a quality build, although not as ergonomic as the 3DS XL. At this point, I haven't done a System Transfer of my data to my new XL... I will wait at least a week to check for any major problems. But I'm not sure what I will do with my 3DS if I switch to my XL. the old 3DS is nice and compact, the screen is sharper, and it is lighter.

I'm surprised how much of a difference it makes in game play. It feels easier to pull off moves in Resident Evil: The Mercenaries-- in fact, at first it felt like I was almost cheating(!) ... and Super Mario 3D Land looks and plays better on the larger screen too. Despite the more plasticy toy-like look to the 3DS XL, I think it is more of a focused-on-gaming machine.


Super Mario just plain sucks

I'm sorry, but the Super Mario franchise just plain sucks. I actually *AM* sorry that it does, because there is so much that's appealing about it... it is truly heart-breaking for the gameplay to be so bloody awful.

It's on the even of the release of New Super Mario Bros. 2.... a game that I WOULD NOT OWN if Nintendo PAID ME to own it. Let's put it this way--  I'd rather stomp on the cartridge, smash it to pieces with a hammer and set it on fire than try to finish it. I'm sure that smashing MYSELF with a hammer would be more fun than playing it.

I already know it's complete garbage, because every other Super Mario game blows. The basic construction and gameplay design of them is deeply flawed.

What's really bad is that the look of the game is so nice and cheerful. It fools a lot of people into thinking these are accessible games for children, when in reality they are so hard most children can barely complete 10% of the game. This franchise is largely responsible for driving the casual game market. People try out a Mario game, find out it's way way harder than it looks, give up on games, and come back as an adult when they find a few casual games on their iPhone. Nintendo's insistence on creating the same stingy-hard, with unchanging basic gameplay philosophy is what is killing Nintendo and slowly driving people away-- these games are less inviting, more elitist "hardcore gamer pwns" bullshit.

A game shouldn't require a walkthrough just to finish it. And power-ups-- how stupid is it to give only 2 slots for them? So basically if you don't ever die, you can use them... otherwise the game may as well not have power-ups at all because you die and they're gone just like that... making them almost useless. The Mario games are only good at giving players what they need only when they don't need it-- like being able to save at any time in New Super Mario Bros. *ONLY* after you've finished the game... when it almost doesn't even matter.

Then there's the damn LAG in the game controls... 1-2 seconds of lag before Mario reacts to any command-- jump, run whatever. Plus using the same buttons to do different things... moronic game design 101. Mario can do "special" jumps using the trigger button, but the game misinterprets the commands all the time since they use the same buttons, like trying to pull off a long jump or roll. Why is control lag railed against any time a game suffers from it--except the Mario games get a total free pass? Super Mario 3D Land is so laggy it's almost unplayable.

Just die already, Mario franchise.

All that said... there are times that, while I don't necessarily LOVE the Super Mario games, I do like them. They are fun-- at times. But so frustrating MOST of the time.


Up yours, Future Shop

I finally got my e-coupon from Future Shop for pre-ordering the 3DS XL online. Rather than walking into a store and buying it the day it comes out, I had to wait an extra day because Canada Post doesn't deliver on Sunday. Fine. It's worth it because I get the $20.00 e-coupon... despite the last-minute in-store Future Shop  deal that gave $20.00 off any game in September.

Then I get my 3DS XL in the mail, the box is a little scrunched in the corner. It looks like a "first off the truck" SKU... but so far, my 3DS XL has no problems. But if I had bought in-store, I would have made the salesperson give me a undamaged box... in other words, I could choose. But at least I get the $20.00 e-coupon for pre-ordering, right?

So I just got my e-coupon, 2 days after my 3DS XL arrived, and... it's not vaild UNTIL September 7. I have to wait 2 1/2 weeks to be able to use it. Probably the same as if I had just gone into the store and bought it ON launch day, being able to pick an UNDAMAGED box, and could have been playing it right away like everyone else.

What's galling is that restriction was NOT listed in the original pre-order deal, and believe me, I read all the fine print they made available to me at the time. It was NOT there. Had I known, maybe I wouldn't have pre-ordered.

Future Shop, you are such colossal douchebags...


Monday, August 13, 2012

Pathetic 3DS games list for 2012

I am so angry, I want to smash something. The list of upcoming 3DS games is simply awful.

So much of this crap is shovelware that is based on crappy licensed properties like toys or movies. Being based on a toy or movie doesn't AUTOMATICALLY make a game crap. But you can tell that most of these are going to be half-hearted efforts where whoever is making them doesn't give a shit about making an actual good game.

There looks to be a few RPG titles there maybe, but I am not an RPG fan.

Why is Capcom nowhere to be found on the list? The only game I'm sort of interested in is the upcoming Castlevania game, and it's not even announced a release date yet?

Activision Publishing, Inc. - Angry Birds Trilogy - October
Activision Publishing, Inc. - Bratz: Fashion Boutique - October
Activision Publishing, Inc. - Lalaloopsy: Carnival of Friends - October
Activision Publishing, Inc. - Moshi Monsters Moshlings Theme Park - October
Activision Publishing, Inc. - Skylanders Giants - Oct. 21
Activision Publishing, Inc. - TRANSFORMERS PRIME - Oct. 30
Activision Publishing, Inc. - The Trash Pack - October
Activision Publishing, Inc. - Wipeout 3 - October
Activision Publishing, Inc. - Wreck It Ralph - October

Aksys Games Localization, Inc. - Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward - Oct. 23
ATLUS (Index Digital Media, Inc.) - Code of Princess - Oct. 9
D3Publisher - Rise of the Guardians: The Video Game - Nov. 20
D3Publisher - Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?! - Fall
D3Publisher - Ben 10: Omniverse - Fall
Disney Interactive - Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion - Nov. 18
Disney Interactive - Disney·Pixar Finding Nemo - September
Disney Interactive - Disney Princess: My Fairytale Adventure - September
Electronic Arts - FIFA 13 - September
GameMill Entertainment - Hotel Transylvania - Sept. 18
Majesco Entertainment - Hello Kitty Picnic - October
Maximum Games - 50 Classic Games - October
Maximum Games - American Mensa Academy - October
Maximum Games - Junior Classic Games - October
Maximum Games - Jett Tailfin - November
Natsume Inc. - Harvest Moon: A New Beginning - Q4
Nintendo - New Super Mario Bros. 2 - Aug. 19
Nintendo - Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone! - Oct. 1
Nintendo - Crosswords Plus - Oct. 1
Nintendo - Style Savvy: Trendsetters - Oct. 22
Nintendo - Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask - Oct. 28
Nintendo - Freakyforms Deluxe: Your Creations, Alive! - Nov. 5
Nintendo - Paper Mario: Sticker Star - Nov. 11
SEGA - Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed - Nov. 20
Storm City Entertainment - Chevrolet Camaro Wild Ride - August
Storm City Entertainment - Old Skool Classics - September
Storm City Entertainment - Word Wizard 3D - September
Telegames, Inc. - Classic Games Overload: Card and Puzzle Edition - November
Ubisoft - Rayman Origins - Q3 (probably meant to be Rayman Legends, not Origins... got this list from NintendoLife)
Ubisoft - Imagine Babyz - Oct. 23
Ubisoft - Imagine Fashion Life - Oct. 23
Ubisoft - Petz Countryside - Nov. 6
Ubisoft - Rabbids Rumble - Holiday
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment - LEGO The Lord of the Rings - Fall
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment - Spy Hunter - Fall
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment - Scribblenauts Unlimited - Holiday
XSEED Games - Unchained Blades - Summer

About the only games that show any hint of being good are:

Spy Hunter
Scribblenauts Unlimited
Rayman Legends

And of those 3, only Spy Hunter sounds vaguely like something I really want to play. I've played Super Scribblenauts (DS) and Rayman Origins (Wii) and both were... meh.

So out of this entire crappy list... ONE game that MIGHT show promise. It could just as easily turn out to be another Driver Renegade 3DS disaster. At this point, who knows?

"Awesome"... from right now, August, to December 2012-- I have about ONE game to look forward to... if only they announced that EX troopers game for North America, at least that would give me some hope.

How can the 3DS not be in trouble with a shitty game list like this?


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Preordered the 3DS XL

Lord help me, I just put in a preorder for a red 3DS XL.... I've been reading some of the comments from early adopters who got the 3DS LL in other regions already. There are some issues of note:

-Speakers are not as good as the 3DS, and may have crackling at high volume.

-Screens are yellow-tinged.

-There may be a NEW screen scratch issue(!)

-The 3D sweet spot may actually be SMALLER rather than larger than the original 3DS.

Despite these issues, I still preordered from Future Shop online, they offer a $20.00 E-coupon with purchase if preordering.

The bottom line is I'm just a handheld nut. I'm really hoping a lot of the issues only affect a small minority of owners or have been corrected for the North America release of the console.

What I really like is that the 3DS XL looks... equal to the PS Vita. When I have my Vita laying next to my 3DS, even though these are both current gen consoles, the 3DS does not look right.... y'know? And especially after playing my Vita tons, going back to the small 3DS screens is difficult. Even though the resolution is still lower, having the 3DS XL screen being almost the same size as the Vita will look more proper to me. And I am so looking forward to the more rounded edges, despite my liking the overall look of the 3DS, the current 3DS corners stab into my hands, making for very uncomfortable extended gameplay sessions.

A bit over 7 days before the 3DS XL comes out.... I absolutely cannot wait to play Resident Evil The Mercenaries 3D on it... and a reminder-- my online handle is HndhldAdct....


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Resident Evil The Mercenaries 3D online

My online 3DS handle on  Resident Evil The Mercenaries 3D is HndhldAdct . Look for me if you wanna play co-op.

This is the only game I'm playing on 3DS.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

3DS in Olympics Opening Ceremony

A few cameos from the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony that had me stoked: A shot of the Pink Floyd pig strung between the smokestacks of London's old power station-- a nice nod to their Animals album cover and the whole pig balloon floats away incident-- as well as using the Pink Floyd song Eclipse at the end of the show... nice.

But one cameo that really caught my eye: A kid playing a Nintendo 3DS during one of the videos:

There was also a sequence where a bunch of people flashed what looked like white Samsung Galaxy Notes, but I think Samsung is an official Olympic sponsor... after all they show Samsung Galaxy S III commercials every freakin' break.... but is Nintendo a sponsor?

Hmmm. It's a very slow summer for handheld news.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Telus sucks

Dear Telus: You really suck.

I just got a door to door solicitation from a couple of Telus employees, a woman & a slimy looking guy. They want to know if I use Telus for my phone or internet--- I don't... anymore. Then they want to know how much I pay for my services.

Mistake one: DON'T go to peoples homes and ask them for personal information. That's Grade-A Slimeball.

I should've asked the skeevy guy what HE pays for his service. How is it any of their business?

Then they tell me that they have "upgraded" their service in my area, and will offer me some "good deal".

So then I ask for their rates on paper... and the girl says, "Well, I have to crunch some numbers..."

To which I said, "Ok, goodbye" and promptly slammed the door on their faces.

Mistake Two: DON'T try to play some kind of shell game with customers. Either you have good rates or you don't, it ISN'T about whispering in a hush-hush "Just tell me what you pay, I can undercut the other guy by a little bit"... that's FLEA MARKET bullshit-- it shouldn't be used to try to sell internet/phone service.

That's why, Telus YOU SUCK. Learn to be a professional company, and act properly giving good competitive service & rates. Until then, you deserve to lose business. It's obvious you don't even care that much because of the mountains of $$$ you make from the OTHER skeevy mess that is the mobile phone service business. Don't even get me started on that cesspool that is in DIRE need of some regulation.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What's missing from all the 3DS XL reviews

Some points that keep getting overlooked from all the 3DS XL reviews out there:

-What does the inside panel feel like? It looks matte?

-They say the corners are more rounded so they don't jam into your palms the way the 3DS does (I find it very painful myself) but what about those holes for the lanyard strap? Since they are on the corners, will they push into our hands during marathon gaming sessions?

-Does the circle pad feel too high up on the body?

-A big one: What about the screen scratch issue? This has NEVER been addressed, even though it's a major problem almost as bad as the notorious dead pixel issue that plagued the first generation PSP. A site called ONM even has a noticeably scratched 3DS in its review video (skip to 1:15 to see it) yet they fail to acknowledge it. I took some screenshots:

The 3DS XL has 2 round pads above the top screen, what looks good is that they seem to line up so they lay against the raised part of the bottom screen-- on paper, that should mean that it's impossible for that raised part to mark the top screen like it does on the 3DS-- in theory, anyway....

-How much space does the new battery take up? Any reviewers thought of taking a screw driver to the back? Have any reviews even MENTIONED if the battery is user replaceable?

At least Engadget posted a size comparison to the Vita (finally...)

It's not that big when you see it in scale with the PS Vita. The Vita doesn't feel too large (at least not after me using it almost daily) and I think that tablets have accustomed us to the larger form factor-- compared to a 10" tablet, the Vita & I imagine the 3DS XL wouldn't feel that big.

-How does DS  & older software look on it? How do touchscreen based games play on it? I'm really curious about Steel Diver, one of my favourite 3DS games-- I think it may be more difficult to play on a larger screen because the controls are farther apart, and Kirby Mass Attack which may be easier to play because there's more space to control the Kirbys.

Some points that have been forgotten or ignored by tech reviewers so far. If and when I get a 3DS XL, I will try to cover some of them.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Kirby Mass Attack

I'm currently playing Kirby Mass Attack on my DS, I bought this awhile back, something to help tide me through this barren lack of any new games this year....

Holy CRAP I never thought I'd use the word "brutal" and "Kirby game" in the same sentence. What is developer  HAL Laboratory thinking here? It's *WAY* harder than most other Kirby games before it. I did play Kirby Canvas Curse, which is similar in that it uses all stylus to control Kirby, the control is actually more frustrating in that game... but it's also problematic here at times.

Kirby Mass Attack feels like it wants to be a Mario game in the challenge level. It ramps up the difficulty right away... I'm barely 10% in, and I've lost most of my 10 Kirbys-- which locks me out of being able to enter most of the levels. It even has the same big coins, except there are more per level. These coins are needed to unlock mini-games.

This is a game where you have to be brutally fast-- attack with savagery-- how bizarre is that, in a Kirby game?? But if you hesitate, the enemies will do their attack moves and you'll just get killed.  This is freakin' Kirby, HAL-- Kirby! The games are supposed to skew on the easier side.....

It is nice to have some challenge, but Mario hard is not called for here, nor is it appropriate. Is Kirby for younger gamers, or hardcores who grew up in the SNES generation? I'm not sure if this would be a good game for a young child.

It's not entirely the controls that frustrate, the big problem here is the lack of checkpoints. At least there is no time limit, and not too many regenerating enemies. But when you get the maximum 10 Kirbys, it is really hard to make them fit through areas that they NEED to fit through in order to, um, NOT DIE. I think there is a real lack of polish when it comes to the awkward stylus-only control.

Kirby Mass Attack even penalizes you for going between world levels-- if you do, you lose all your extra Kirbys! What is with the Mario-style punishment here?

Kirby Mass Attack has some really cute presentation & visual style... but the same can be said for the Mario games. It isn't unplayable, but it is annoying at times. I can only imagine the final boss will be stupid hard.

At least it's great to be playing my DS Lite again... when my 3DS needs to be charged-- since its battery dies SO fast-- I can use my DS Lite...


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summer of Handheld Gaming Discontent

Wow. No doubt about it now-- we are in the handheld gaming dark ages.

I ranted about a handheld gaming drought of early 2012 back in April... better revise that to drought of mid 2012 now.

The 3DS has been out for a year and a half now, and even though I have a bunch of games, I only play ONE  game on it regularly, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries.

The Playstation Vita has only been out since February, and I have a few games for it, only ONE of which I play on it regularly, Unit 13.

One game for each system is not enough, as much as I played the hell out of them, they are starting to wear out their welcome.

What's worse, there's practically nothing coming for these systems in the future. I haven't heard about ANY upcoming titles for PS Vita, and 3DS only has a VERY FEW games of note. The most anticipated title, hell I think it may be my most anticipated title of this year, Heroes of Ruin will finally drop in North America in mid-July. Other than that there's Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, and maybe the Castlevania game. That's all I see on the horizon at this point. Don't get me started on New Super Mario Bro 2. At this point, I've given up on Mario. I'm done with that franchise.

The PS Vita looks completely abandoned. Did Sony or anybody announce *ANY* new Vita games at E3 2012?

This does feel like the dying days of dedicated handheld gaming consoles. If I was being optimistic, I might equate the dedicated handheld gaming market to the blockbuster movie: big established studios pour a lot of $$$ and resources into making a few big-budget event movies, while smaller independent studios use little money & resources to put out much smaller movies. It's not a great analogy, but it's about as close a comparison as I can get to Sony & Nintendo handheld games that cost $40.00+, compared to a slew of iOS & Android games that cost 1/10th that price.

Before the iPhone, handheld gamers could only expect maybe 6-12 big game titles a year. Even though the vast majority of iOS games are derivative rip-offs of not only bigger console games but mostly each other(!), most handheld gaming is done on smart phones. So are we seeing the death of even the 6-12 blockbuster titles per year? I am really pissed about this. It feels like third-party studios and even Sony itself has abandoned the PS Vita, not even 6 months after its release! Why did Sony even release the Vita? It feels like they don't care much about handheld gaming other than to say, "hey, we do it". Like it looks good on their resume or something.

As nice as a larger 3D screen would be with the 3DS XL, why buy one if there are no games to play on it? What would be the point?

Maybe I'm expecting too much, handheld games should only come out once every few months? But it has been 6 months since I bought any newly released games, and there isn't much left in the 3DS & Vita back catalogue to pick up.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

PS Vita video pause function broken

The PS Vita firmware is unfinished. It shipped incomplete, and hopefully Sony has been patching improvements in each new version.

But the HUGE BLIND SPOT in the PS Vita firmware is the video pause function. In every other use of the PS Vita, if you don't touch anything for a certain amount of time, the screen brightness fades, then turns off.

Except for if a video is paused on screen. if you leave it, it stays on. FOREVER. (at least until the battery dies I assume)

I've tested this by leaving a video paused on my PS Vita for like, 5 minutes.... but I was never sure it would stay on forever until, to my dismay, now.

This morning, I must've turned on my Vita & paused a video, then fallen back asleep. I awoke to my horror to find Cop Out still paused on my Vita... it could have been there for an hour? Maybe longer?

The Vita has been out for months now, has gone through a few firmware updates, yet no one at Sony has actually noticed that the screen doesn't shut off when a video is paused on it. It shows how Sony regards the PS Vita that no one who works on the firmware has actually paused a video on it.

Dear Sony Computer Entertainment:
Please update the PS Vita firmware so that when a video is paused on screen, after a certain amount of time the PS Vita turns off.  This is a staple feature of almost every portable media player, including the PS Vita predecessor, the PSP.
From Don, a PS Vita owner.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Blogger sucks now

Wow does Blogger ever suck or what? What is Google's problem? Why do they have to BREAK Blogger?

The new posting page is AWFUL. As can be seen by my Driver Renegade sucks post, it arbitrarily adds bizarre page elements that can't be removed, like that final paragraph being highlighted or whatever the hell that glitch is. I had another similar problem with a previous post also.

And don't even get me started on trying to use a mobile browser to compose posts. I try to use the default Android browser-- HELLO, Android is made by Google. Blogger is OWNED and made by Google-- and you can't make these two products that YOU, GOOGLE develop and own, POSSIBLY COMPATIBLE? I bet the old Blogger posting page was, but this current HTML5 trainwreck certainly isn't. I'm currently trying Firefox mobile, and have tried Overskreen, all equally unable to make it work properly.

Why must you constantly break your own products, Google? How is that not being evil?


Driver Renegade sucks

Ohh man... I knew I would wring the fun out of Driver Renegade sooner rather than later, and like whatever car I use in the game, I've basically slammed into a brick wall of frustration.

I just can't get over how badly the cars handle and the game plays. I am SO ANGRY at the developers, I personally want to go up to whoever programmed this game and KICK THEM IN THE NUTS. It's *that bad*.

Everyone involved in the gameplay of this title should NEVER be allowed to work in the video game industry ever again. This was made from pure apathy and cutting corners. It's a complete travesty & an embarrassment.

There is no sense of speed. You have this turbo boost-- apparently it is a Rage Meter-- that's supposed to give you a nitro-like burst of speed. It does NOTHING. I've literally been neck & neck with the last place AI car and holding down the nitro doesn't vault me forward one bit. It makes no difference.

If you clip something, you WILL spin out. There's no way not to, no matter what you do. Because players LOVE having NO CONTROL over their gameplay. That alone should have had everyone involved with this game fired and their work scrapped well before it hit the shelf.

I remember when I finished Driver '76, I wanted to thank the developers for the game. It was published by Ubisoft but developed by Sumo Digital. Sure it was a blatant rip-off of Grand Theft Auto, but it was still fun despite its' flaws. But the developers of Driver Renegade should be fired, and whatever ins-house studio disbanded. As far as I can tell Driver Renegade was developed in-house by Ubisoft. Does Ubisoft have NO pride, they just skate by on the bare minimum when they develop games themselves? They've published some awesome handheld games, Lumines for PSP being a notable example. But I think that most, if not all,  of the best ones were developed by outside companies.

I hate you whoever programmed Driver Renegade, put together this shit game. I hate myself for buying it and supporting this kind of shovelware.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

3DS XL coming August 19

Nintendo has announced the 3DS XL will launch in the U.S. on August 19, 2012, with a MSRP of $199.99.

Some brief specs:

top screen - 4.88 inches
bottom screen - 4.18 inches

battery life:

3DS XL - 3.5 to 6 hours

3DS - 3 to 5 hours

3DS XL will come with a 4GB SD card.

Hmmm. We can't say too that a 3DS "refresh" comes as too much of a surprise, can we? This is pretty much in line with Nintendo's business practice with the DS, and Gameboy handheld consoles. But it is a bit, I dunno, disappointing that they didn't add a 2nd analogue nub? This is the exact same rabbit hole/slippery slope that Sony fell into with the PSP. Maybe they are as stubbornly going to stick to their course with the 3DS as Sony did with the PSP, refusing to add a 2nd nub. And unless Nintendo makes a Circle Pad Pro XL, so much for using that accessory with it....

I know that there are very few games that are even Circle Pad Pro compatible. But if Nintendo had built a 2nd analogue nub into this 3DS "hardware refresh", they would be telling developers to port or make new 3DS games that are truly 2nd analogue stick compatible. If you wanted to play those games on an old 3DS, get the Circle Pad Pro. It's not an ideal solution but it's better than this: doing NOTHING.

At this point, I'm most concerned about the top screen line scratch issue. There appear to be only 2 *small* bumps at the top of the top panel that are supposed to keep the top screen from touching the bottom screen border. Small being the key word. I *pray* that Nintendo actually REAL WORLD TESTED the bump height to confirm that it's enough to keep the screens from touching. I don't have that much faith in Nintendo's designers.

I'm surprised the analogue nub & buttons placement looks exactly the same distance from the middle hinge as the smaller 3DS. I'm worried that reaching the analogue nub might be harder with the larger size of the console. The bottom left corner of my regular 3DS jams into my palm while I hold it, but with a larger size console, I don't know how my reach would be, or if during real-world use, it will be an issue at all. It just seems like they should have moved the nub, D pad & face buttons down a little bit, since there is all that extra space there.

Looks like the headphone jack has been moved to the bottom left corner, like the original PSP placement.

The 3 bottom screen buttons look better, we'll have to see.

Ok, I'm going to call out the BIG LIE right here and now: Nintendo has said that the 3DS XL will have "slightly better" battery life. People are going to run with this throwaway statement and assume the battery life will be significantly better. I'm going to just call that out as a LIE. I'm betting the difference will be either minimal or NONE. This is one of those gaming industry lies that are so obvious even the company saying it doesn't really believe it, yet it gets passed along as truth. There, I said it.

When Nintendo announced the DSiXL, I was pretty much baffled. hell, at first I literally thought it was a joke. But I have changed my tune somewhat since then... I can understand why people would want it-- not just really old people either, as I originally surmised, hehe-- but gamers who want a bigger console to grip as well as the larger screens. Some people are huge fans of the DSiXL size.

And one of my issues with the 3DS is the screen size, it should have been larger. It looks so small compared to even my PSPgo screen which is larger! It doesn't help that the 3DS black bezel is so huge around the screen. So the 3DS XL is a big improvement on that front.

I don't love the rounded top panel, but it's not a dealbreaker. Another thing people get wrong is assuming these white background pictures are how the console looks like in real life. These are NOT actual photos.... they are so touched-up that they're more like illustration than an actual real life picture. That includes colour tints, the actual colours will look quite different than what's seen on these illustrations.

So the screen size is the biggest draw for me, I will have to see it on display before I can make up my mind about it. Even with the original resolution, that screen could be gorgeous.

At this point, I kinda want one, but I think I'll wait for a price drop?


Friday, June 22, 2012

Grand Theft Auto III

I bought Grand Theft Auto III on Android during their sale a few days ago.... it sounded familiar, I thought, "Don't I have this for my (original) Xbox?"... checking my collection, indeed-- I did buy it years ago, as part of the Grand Theft Auto III/Grand Theft Auto:Vice City Xbox 2-pack. But I don't think I ever even played it! It still looked pristine when I popped it into my Xbox.

Playing the Android version, at first it's really fun, the touchscreen controls seem fairly smooth... until you actually have to do anything at all that requires the slightest bit of finesse.

But the Xbox version, well that uses a physical dual stick controller, so that HAS to be better, right? Nope. The Xbox version is pretty much UNPLAYABLE. I have NO IDEA how Rockstar Games messed this game up. I assume it's a port from a PS2 version, but  this version should never have been pressed to disc, let alone sold to the public. It just looks so muddy and blurry. But the worst, the absolute worst thing is there's no right analogue stick control. The right stick is only used for this crappy first-person camera look around that only works when the player is standing completely still. It's utter unusable garbage. It's bizarre that the Android touchscreen-only version has better camera control than a version on a dual stick console.... not that the Android version has great camera either. It's also unplayable when having to do anything on-foot, like combat.

Why was Rockstar so clueless about 2nd analogue stick camera control? I thnk this game was released in 2002, so Xbox & PS 2 were out for a little while before the game was released.... but I'm wondering if it wasn't developed for the previous generation of consoles? I don't know... either that or developers like Rockstar Games were truly clueless as to how to make games during that time.

Also adding to the brokenness of the GTA III Xbox version is that there's NO fullscreen map. Why in their right mind did they not assign a button to display a fullscreen map? Especially considering how big the play area is. Thankfully the Android version has a fullscreen map.

Another great little thing about the Android version is that some of the controls work with my SGH-i927r Samsung Galaxy S Glide's slide-out hardware keyboard! I didn't expect there to be support for it, and it's only really directional controls wasd & the direction keys on the right. Still not sure if it's better than the onscreen touch controls, but it's nice to have the options.

I paid 0.99¢ for Grand Theft Auto III: 10th Anniversary mobile Android version and I'm sure I paid waaaay more than that for the Xbox bundle back in 2004-2005? Hopefully not 50 times more..... but I can't remember, so.... oh well.

I was griping about how Driver Renegade isn't enough like Driver '76, but instead of playing a GTA knock-off like Driver '76, I guess I'm going to the source material with GTA III on my phone, so I'm getting that fix I was denied with the 3DS version of Driver.


Club Nintendo coin values changes

Oh man... I just finished registering a bunch of Wii & DS Lite games on Club Nintendo because I read that starting July 1, 2012, most of the coin values for those games are going down. Qualifying (first party) Wii games are worth 50 coins right now, but starting July 1, they seem to drop to between 40/30 & 20 coins! What a rip. And many DS games are dropping from 30 to 20.

But here is the weird part... some first-party games coin values are going UP-- the Pokemon series all seem to be increasing as are the main Mario games-- excluding Super Mario Galaxy (1), the Selects version that is MSRP $19.99 is worth less coins that the original Super Mario Galaxy 1 sold at full price. But don't be fooled, there are far fewer games going up compared to the number going down.

Also incredibly annoying, many of the download games like classic Gameboy titles get cut from 10 coins to 5.

I was squirreling away a bunch of Nintendo game codes from games I'd bought awhile back.... but Nintendo has forced me to register them now if I want the full coin values. I'm now at Platinum status for the second year in a row, but I've almost spent my wad..... I'm holding onto a couple of Mario codes that will inexplicably go UP in coin value after July 1.....

I think it's really douchey of Nintendo to decrease coin values like this. Bad enough they have expiry dates-- some countries have made such practices ILLEGAL as in gift cards, and points slip through the cracks on the technicality that they aren't real money... but still. Expiry dates for gift points is an immoral practice.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Driver Renegade 3DS

I was waiting for Driver Renegade to hit my price-point sweet spot of $10.00, and I picked it up yesterday from Futureshop for $9.99.

I was pleasantly surprised by Driver '76 on PSP, and I've been anxiously awaiting a Driver game since the 3DS was launched. But when the game finally launched and the reviews trickled in... they were pretty bad. Driver games haven't really gotten great reviews except the latest console one, and like I said, I found  Driver '76 to be better than the reviews give it credit for-- it's not a great game but it is fun. So I tended to take the reviews with a grain of salt. But the reviews for Driver Renegade are *really* bad. And they are not wrong.

At first I was very disappointed playing this game... I'm actually kind of angry. It feels completely obligatory; an afterthought tacked on to the multi-console release of Driver: San Francisco. I haven't played that game but from what I gather, Driver Renegade is not a port, it's a handheld game unto its own. But it feels like such a phoned-in effort went into making it. The cars look terrible, the sound is very lame and repetitive. The graphics are so basic they look like off-the-shelf models... and the cars handle like crap.

The game is broken up into 2 sections, the Story Mode which is a very short campaign (can probably be beaten in one sitting) and a Career Mode that has most of the game challenges. There are 7 modes, each with 12 levels. But some of the modes repeat themselves, like "Rampage" and "Afterburner" are pretty much the exact same game play: destroy the other cars. But I have to say, this is the most fun game mode, and once I started playing this I felt less jypped of my 10 bones + HST. There is a shunting action in the game using the shoulder buttons you can slam into other cars, it's pretty cool. I really like just blowing up the enemies, the best part of the game by far.

To try and sell Driver Renegade for full price has to be close to committing fraud, seriously. It feels like the developers did the least possible effort to make it functional and shipped it. One of the few exceptions is the artwork, the story is told through still comic book style drawings which look really good. They remind me a lot of the cut scenes from Twisted Metal: Head On (PSP).

Unlike Driver '76, instead of having a free-roaming map, Driver Renegade is very linear, it's mostly just  race or "destroy" events. You can't wander around. You can't get out of the car. I was disappointed that the gameplay seems so different from that title. But at least I have Driver '76 on my PS Vita.

Maybe I bought Driver Renegade so you don't have to. Unless you're a hardcore fan of the franchise, this game is probably not worth your $$$. I admit there are some fun moments, sometimes fun can be had within the brokenness of the game. But I wonder how long the fun will ultimately last... not long I reckon.


Monday, June 4, 2012

I dropped my phone!

A four word action a Handheld Addict *NEVER* wants to have happen.

Grrrrrr...... I was walking down the street today and I pulled my phone out of my pocket to use the camera, when suddenly it just flung out of my hand & I tried to catch it, I must've clipped it when I tried-- which of course made it fling away even faster-- and it hit the hard sidewalk and bounced.

Caused a few scratches on the corner, luckily it didn't break... but still.

I know it's a minor thing but it's really upsetting to drop a device. I've had this phone for about a month, and I'm not totally in love with it even though it is very good with video playback. The problem with Samsung is their materials feel very cheap compared to my HTC Legend, which has a aluminum unibody and glass screen.

But in the 1.5 years that I've owned my HTC Legend, I don't think I've ever dropped it... at least not on pavement. Which is a bit surprising because the anodized aluminum unibody is actually very slippery. I think maybe the smaller form factor makes it easier to hold than this, my current phone the Samsung Galaxy S Glide SGH-i927r. The Galaxy S Glide has a textured back which looks like it should be great for grip... but in reality, the texture is so fine that it doesn't help much, as I just learned to my great regret.

I wanted to keep my Galaxy S Glide in pristine condition; I didn't even remove the plastic over the screen yet.... so much for that idea. I'd like to get a new phone but I can't find any that are truly BETTER than this... the latest don't offer any REAL improvement. I was actually very happy with my HTC Legend, but it's low memory was giving me major problems during day-to-day use-- I simply needed something more powerful.

I've been thinking about the handhelds I've dropped... I think I've dropped my PSP-1001 & 2001 a couple times on carpet. I don't recall dropping my DS Lite or 3DS, nor my PS Vita.

I suppose I should use a case for my phone. I don't like cases in general because the phone is already big for my pocket.

I just can't believe I actually dropped my phone. I am usually so careful about these things.

It's such a minor thing but it's very upsetting. If you're into gadgets, you know what I'm talking about.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Unit 13 & Resident Evil: The Mercenaries

During this wicked handheld gaming drought, Unit 13 & Resident Evil: The Mercenaries are the games I'm playing the most-- by far. I've been playing both of them every day for the last several weeks.

 Resident Evil: Mercenaries online co-op play-- while limited-- is still incredibly fun. I wish it was more robust, and that players could say more than the pre-programmed "Wait!", "Come on", "Thanks" & taunt. It's scary how many hours I've put into this game, by far my favourite for the 3DS thus far.

 Unit 13 is flawed, there are a lot of broken elements to the gameplay... but I must admit I find myself diving back into it on a daily basis. It's frustrating at times; I can chain together a series of perfect stealth kills or whatever only to die and have to start it all over again. Kinda like a house of cards, one slip-up, and... But it's really pretty looking, and so far in the PS Vita's short lifespan, the only half-decent shooter on the handheld.

One thing that's funny is the collision detection, sometimes enemy guns get thrown into walls and boxes, it's hilarious...

Both of these games are probably considered commercial failures, so maybe my tastes don't represent what is considered hot in gaming... but these are simply my most-played games on each system.

There are some gameplay balance issues in both games, and I'd love to see sequels for both of them. I think of the two, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries might have a better chance of seeing a sequel but considering the un-erasable game save uproar and the overall tepid reviews, it seems like a slim chance that they will make another one for the 3DS. Man, what a shame. I'd LOVE to have more maps & a few more characters....


Friday, May 11, 2012

Canada Post you suck

I hate you Canada Post so much. I'm unavailable for like one 15 minute period between 8:00am and 6:00pm. And no matter when that 15 minute period is, you will pick that EXACT TIME to ring my doorbell so I can't answer and you leave me the note to pick up my package the next business day after 1:00pm.

I could decide to take a crap at 8:00 am... and that will be the time. I could take a crap at 4:59pm. It's like you know and you'll swoop in and make sure I can't answer. No matter what fucking time, you will *know*.

Fuck I hate you guys so much. Hopefully the pickup place will be open on Saturday "after 1:00pm" and maybe I'll be able to pick up my Samsung Galaxy S Glide phone.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kingston SD cards are thick

I've bought a few of them, and I've noticed that for some reason Kingston cards are insanely thick.They're really hard to put in & pull out of my card readers and gadgets. I originally bought an Kingston 8GB SDHC card for my 3DS, but since the only way to load & pull media off of it is to transfer the card between the 3DS & my PC, I'm worried that they will stretch out the slots on my various devices. So I haven't even used it yet.

 I am currently using them on my Aluratek Cinepal media player (which is not so great BTW, which is why I haven't yet done a proper review of it) but again, I have to use a card reader to transfer media onto it. I hope they don't wreck the SD slot on my reader for other SD cards.

Why the heck are they so much thicker than other SD cards? It's bizarre and annoying. There should be a standard spec for SD cards that all brands should adhere to.

Maybe that's why Kingston cards go on sale so often...


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Swype getting dumber?

I was a pretty big fan of Swype when I first started using it. It is an awesome concept; typing by simply dragging my thumb around the screen was almost magical in its usefulness. Before I installed Swype on my HTC Legend, using the stock HTC keyboard on its 3.2" screen was ok for 1 or 2 sentences but much more than that was, to say the least, trying at times.

What makes Swype really effective is its predictive text capabilities. I found it was really good at knowing what I wanted to type-- it would usually pick the right word for what I wanted, even if I wasn't dragging my thumb exactly over each letter.

But lately, in the last few months, the word prediction seems to have gone out the window. Now it picks just plain weird or STUPID words and I'm finding I have to correct a lot of words in every sentence I type. It's not that I accidentally saved a bunch of typos in my personal dictionary, either. I checked... and I am DOWNRIGHT VIGILANT about keeping mis-types out of my personal dictionary. I can't remove some of the weird words out of the Swype dictionary.

Whenever I type "is", it almost always puts in "OS". How often would I ever use the term "OS"? There are many other more bizarre examples... some of the "words" Swype tries to insert don't even sound like actual words to me. I also unchecked other languages in case that was the problem.

I can't figure out why Swype seems to be getting DUMBER. My phone is really underpowered, I've run out of internal phone memory, so that must play a part. I have an annoying bug where I'll swype some words but they won't show up in the text box. I have to exit the program then go back in. But I don't understand why the word prediction is getting worse rather than just staying the same?

Another part of it might be the user: as in, me. Maybe I've gotten so complacent that Swype will predict my words that I'm being sloppy in my dragging over the letters. Technically, software can't grow more stupid but a person certainly can....

It just seems so strange that Swype is not as good as it used to be for me, I haven't updated or changed it for the last few months. Maybe it's just me?


Monday, April 23, 2012

Android sucks for games?

Trying to understand the mobile phone gaming landscape, I've come across a disturbing trend: that when it comes to games, the Android platform *SUCKS*.

Obviously Android doesn't have nearly as many apps as the iTune App Store. So the selection is always going to be smaller. And because iTunes App Store is such a juggernaut, the best Android games are going to be ported from the iPhone.

But there's an even worse problem that never gets mentioned.... the hardware fragmentation of Android devices makes it very, VERY difficult to get a coherent, easy-to-buy-and-download list of top games.

There are so many processors out there that many of them aren't supported. A prime example being Grand Theft Auto 3. This should be a very big game on a mobile device. I'm currently looking at buying an HTC Evo 3D, it came out spring/summer 2011, it has a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor.... and it's "not supported" to play the game. If you try to legally buy it from the Google Play store, it won't let you do so on an Evo 3D. The game does seem to work on the Evo 3D, but you have to pirate it to side-load it onto the phone. Because Google and the publisher won't let you download it legally.

I suspect a big part of why it doesn't have official compatibility with the HTC Evo 3D is because the phone's screen is 16x9, and the game seems formatted for something closer to 4:3. From what I've seen it playing on an Evo 3D, it's stretched out horizontally.

Ok, that's one game, a big title but still only one example. But you only need to look at Gameloft games for more examples. Gameloft has garnered a reputation of ripping-off big console titles and making phone versions of them. Some of these "ports" are more successful than others, but there are some definite good titles.

Try buying a Gameloft android title. You need to provide them with a mobile phone service provider to do so. That means you need a mobile phone plan, with data. In Canada, for us that means a 3 year contract with data. Which is about $2000.00 over 3 years.

So you need to pay $2000.00 over 3 years, at least $60.00 a month (plus tax) before you can buy a game from Gameloft.

So what's the alternative? iPhone? The iTunes App store is a monolithic closed eco-system, so I assume Gameloft games are in there like everything else. There shouldn't be any hassles like having to have a mobile service provider or whatever other malarkey.

Aside from the fact that the iPhone is basically one device, you can't get an iPhone with a bigger screen or 3D camera or qwerty keyboard... there's only one iPhone basically and you better like it... aside from that fact, an unlocked 16GB iPhone 4s price starts at $650.00, bought from Apple. The phones I'm looking at are about half that price used.

I am starting to believe that iOS is the only decent platform for mobile gaming.... but I can't even be sure of that because of the walled-garden mentality of the iTunes App Store. I hate, hate HATE stores with closed eco-systems like iOS and Playstation Store, where you can't even LOOK at what content is available unless you've already bought the consoles.

I just want to be able to BUY some decent mobile games. I don't want the hassles that can come from workarounds and pirating. Why is it so damn difficult just to make a consistent experience?


Saturday, April 21, 2012

quandary over phones

The last couple weeks have me pondering over what I want to be my next phone. As much as I love my HTC Legend, it is really showing its age on the inside. The outside still looks amazing, I take good care of it; I don't put it in a pocket with keys, etc. But I do just shove it into my pocket as I'm running out the door, mostly with no case (I only got a case last time I was in Shenzhen, it was given to me) It's amazing even the screen has no scratches, it's a great little phone. The small form factor makes it so pocketable and real-life portable.

But the 600 MHz processor and small amount of ram... even worse, the small amount of space for apps.... I don't have that many apps on it and I've constantly got a "low space" warning on there because I have less than 20 MB free-- about 11MB free last time I checked.

So I think I need to upgrade to a more spacious & powerful phone. I've got my eye on quite a few contenders:

HTC One X - I'd prefer the One S for its size & form factor, but only the One X international version has "32GB" of storage... I think it's 22GB of actual usable storage.... which is enough for me. It has a great camera and Ice Cream Sandwich Android 4.0 OS... but it's a big phone. 4.7" screen... I definitely think there should be 4.7" screens but for me, I think that may be too big. 4.3" seems about as big as I can comfortably fit in my pocket. And it's around $700.00 for an import version, super expensive.

Samsung Galaxy S2 - This is the top smartphone of 2011. It shows to be consistently the fastest with browser and apps (from video reviews & tests) the screen is huge and looks really good. But there are some issues I'm worried about. It's super thin but there are reports of it getting really hot around the camera area after extended browsing & use. Plus the overall look of it is nice but there's something... I dunno, kinda cheap-looking about Samsung phones, just the materials maybe? And I've heard the screen scratches easily, part of the build quality issues.

White Samsung Galaxy s2 - Anyone who's read my past entries about my white Star Wars PSP-2000 knows I love white gadgets. I can't decide whether I like white even more than black. So a white Samsung Galaxy S2 should look awesome. But one thing I really don't like about it is that chrome bezel around the phone. I've held it my hand and it just doesn't look as good as in the pics and videos. But it's still white... and it looks so nice in the pics......

HTC Evo 3D - This one is really high on my list. As much as I complain about the faults of the 3D on the 3DS, I really love the idea of mobile 3D gaming. I'd love a better 3D camera, and the Evo 3D is about the only place for that. But it is chunky, and though it would give me the closest experience to my HTC Legend, on the other hand, there are also no surprises... I know what I'd be getting in a Sense UI. I've held the phone in my hands in Hong Kong, and the feel is good. But there are build quality issues with this one too. The power button is super sensitive. Volume buttons are mushy.

Samsung Galaxy S Slide (Captivate Glide in the U.S.) - This is currently at the top of my list. I'd *really* like a qwerty keyboard on a decent phone. The spces are right up there, but the keyboard is very flat. And there's no FM radio, another feature I really appreciate on my HTC Legend. The 4" screen should be nice but I wish it was 4.3" like the SGS2. Also it's a pentile screen.

Gaahhhh..... so much choice... I just don't know which one would fit my needs the best. I *really* want a slider keyboard, but I also want FM radio. And a decent keyboard, it's bizarre that Samsung messed up the Glide when they've done qwerty keyboard sliders before. I may be able to get by with wi-fi streaming of my most-listened to radio stations like CBC. So right now the odds-on favourite is the Glide..... but I really like the Evo 3D too.... I dunno......

I might wait until the Samsung Galaxy S 3 is revealed on May 1. But I'm reasonably sure it will only be a minor upgrade ala iPhone 4S, so it probably won't be something I'm super interested in.


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