Wii are not happy with Japan!

December 1, 2007

With the release of the cheaper PS3, they have finally managed to outsell the Wii in Japan.  Check out this article for the numbers.

Should Wii be worried?  People are still paying wayyy too much on ebay to get their hands on the Wii.  Nintendo won’t be able to catch up to the demand any time soon.  Until PS3 starts selling some games worthy of dropping large amounts of cash I still won’t be running out to buy one.

Congratulations PS3 for your glimmer of hope.  I guess we can’t count you out yet…

Christmas Wishes

November 30, 2007

Every year my mom asks me to make her a list for Christmas so she knows what to get me and what to tell my various relatives to buy me. After ending up with the lamest present ever for a few years, I always make sure to let her know right away what I want so she doesn’t instruct my aunts to “pick out something cute” (which has included a chain belt with cowboy accessories on it, an Inner Circle CD and a lot of holiday themed sweaters). The first few years I kept the list to movies and music, with a few other things mixed in. The last 2 or 3 years I have been including various video games and accessories, which always lead to humorous phone calls.

2 years ago I requested an Xbox 360 and a few games. She immediately called me shocked at how much the 360 cost. I explained that I was just kidding and didn’t expect her to buy me one. She then goes on to explain that she has no idea where video games are in stores and doesn’t really think she’ll be buying any.

Last year I decided to try again. I got the same shocked call when she saw the price of not only the 360, but also of the Wii and PS3. She did end up getting me a few DS games and I was pretty psyched about that.

This year, having gone pretty nuts and bought most of the games I wanted, I asked for Super Mario Galaxy and Dementium, as well as a year of Xbox live and some Xbox points. I get a call from my mom saying she isn’t sure why the HotBox cards cost so much, but she doesn’t think she’ll be buying me any. I realize she is talking about the Xbox cards and decide not to correct her. She then goes on to tell me she is worried about me because I want some violent stuff. Forgetting what was on the list I asked her. She replies “Well a few of the movies seem pretty rough and then theres that I Want to Kill people game you want. Why do you want to kill people?”

So I’m not getting Dementium for Christmas. But I still love my mom for being the sweet lady she is J

Cooking class

November 29, 2007

I just bought Cooking Mama 2: Dinner with Friends so I could take a break from my 360 while Mike finishes Bioshock.  I have the original DS version and the Wii game, and enjoyed playing both.  As with most sequals, I just expect game makers to ruin what I enjoyed from the original game and to leave me disappointed in the end, but I have been impressed with the improvements. 

The recipes are all new and they have included more parts to each one, making them a little more interesting than the original. The game also better uses the DS tough screen, making things more interactive and more sensitive. There are more tasks that involve some consideration and not just tapping the screen. For example, in the original, you were given a knife to cut meat, etc and that was your only option. The new version lets you choose which size knife and rolling pin and the gameplay is changed by this decision. If you choose a larger knife to cut something small it may fly off the cutting board and if you choose a small rolling pin it takes longer to roll out dough. They have also combined many skills together into one task, rather than having a bunch of small things to do over and over.In the original cooking mama for the DS, there was no 2-player option. I really enjoy 2 player DS games because you can sit around and play wherever you happen to be. The new game has a 2-player mode, although it is only with the skill challenges and not the actual recipes. Given that the 2 player recipe challenge mode on the Wii version is split screen, I can understand how this would be a bit of a problem for the DS, which is already having to utilize a really small screen.

They have also added a new part where you have to cook for a member of “Mama’s” family and have your food judged by them. I find this really amusing, as they chew the food while thinking over your score with a panel of judges. It is just a cute addition to the game and gives the player another section to master.

There are customization options, which include changing the appearance of the screen and even Mama, and a photo album, which is a lot like scrap booking. I think it is mildly amusing to change Mama’s outfit and accessories, but got bored with it pretty quickly. The scrap booking section is just really stupid in my opinion. I make fun of people who scrap book photos of their children, I can’t imagine wanting to do it with pictures of virtual meals I have created on a game. The customization was a neat idea, but I would have rather created my own character completely than decorated a picture book and Mama.

They have improved many of the tasks, which I found annoying to complete in the first one. I’m not spending time screaming “There’s no way to fill those dumplings perfectly!!!” like I was with the first version. I would say that overall it is worth getting this game if you enjoyed the first. If you haven’t gotten the first one, I would skip it all together and get this instead.

Minions wanted- all applicants considered

November 23, 2007

After playing Overlord for hours and hours I can’t help but feel that my guidance counselor failed me. Every time I took an aptitude test in school I was told I should be a farmer or a doctor. I think the questions asked were so extremely opposite of what I wanted to do that I always defaulted to the generic career at the end. I mean seriously, at 16 I was told I should commit my life to agriculture or go to school for 7 more years. If there were questions pertaining to what I thought was a fun and exciting career maybe things would have turned out different.Would you like to command minions who are willing to pillage and kill on command and sacrifice their lives with no hesitation for you? Yes

Do you enjoy wearing cool armor and wielding an axe? Yes

Do you want to live in a tower complete with a room full of gold, a bloody practice arena and a throne? Yes

I love that I can raise my arm and a horn sounds, telling my minions to scurry back to my side. I like watching them run to jump into my smelter and become part of my army. I enjoy standing back and watching them scurry around, grabbing gold and treasure to present at my feet.

I’ve heard a few people comment that it isn’t as fun to have the minions fighting for them, that they would rather be in there swinging and kicking. I can understand that. I sometimes get my hands dirty and take a foe or three out, but for me it is like washing dishes. I hardly ever rinse off my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. The whole reason I have a dishwasher is so I don’t have to wash dishes. Sure, sometimes they don’t get clean the first time, but I can just hit a button and give the machine another shot at it. Same with Overlord. If my minions fail me I can just call more of them. If those fail and I get a little annoyed I can just go in and clean up for myself. But why get your hands dirty when you can just sit back and watch?

I have been a little annoyed with how much back and forth there is with the game. I get halfway through a mission and WAIT, you need a new color minion or WAIT, you saved at a different point last time so you need to hike back across town. I guess without some of this the game would just fly by, but it still drives me a little crazy. Now that I am more established with the game there is alot less of this but at the beginning it was incredibly frustrating.

I also really enjoy the sound effects. Like I mentioned before I love the horn sound I can make on command. I like the sound the minions make when they pop out or go back in to their hives. I like the hiss sound the bugs make when they fly up and spew at me. The best is the chatter from the minions when they proclaim “Get him”, “For the Overlord” and all the random screams and squeals during the pillage.

I am playing through Good right now, I think more than anything because I love hearing the peasants tell me how wonderful I am. I like feeling like I am merciful but knowing that I could snap at any moment and they would all be taken out. Don’t get me wrong, if one of them decides to bite the hand that feeds I will have no problem messing some folks up, but I don’t see a reason to rock the boat at this point.

I haven’t played on-line yet because, well, I am the Overlord!  I am not yet bored with the domination I have and don’t really feel like letting anyone else get involved. This is my place to grant mercy or kill and I don’t need someone else doing different. I am just enjoying being the supreme warlord, even if only in a brief segment of my life.

I’m in the money

November 23, 2007

It always makes me laugh when people ask if I am ever going to “outgrow” video games. For me that’s a simple equation. As I grow up I make more money. More money = more games. More games = more interest. Having enough money to buy any game I wanted was something I dreamed of when I was a child. So I am basically living the life I hoped for when I was younger. How many people can actually say that?I have recently changed jobs and taken on a new project that seems to have no end in sight and requires me to work as many hours as I can handle.  Overtime is an interesting thing. It has afforded me enough money to go out and buy all those games I have been thinking about but just wasn’t sure I needed. The “I haven’t finished the games I have so I shouldn’t spend the money on new games” excuse only deters me from purchases when I have no money. After buying all these games I am too tired during the week to get much playing time in and on the weekends when I would usually be playing all day, I am now at work grumbling to myself, picturing Mike sitting on the couch in the clothes he slept in playing Bioshock and laughing at my silly work ethic. 

Shock of the Year

September 29, 2007

Ok, I’m lying.  I recently came across another example of an electronics store being shady.

 http://www.boingboing.net/2007/03/03/best-buy-admits-to-k.html

I just want to go to the store, buy my games and go home!  Why has this become so impossible to do?

Token madness!?!

September 17, 2007

Yesterday I headed out to Chuck E Cheese with Mike, my cousin Jenny, and her 2 kids.  I found some coupons online and was pretty excited to eat some greasy pizza, play skee ball and kill an afternoon.   We got there and the kid’s eyes grew larger and larger as they took in the madness of lights, sounds and people.  After having some pizza and planning our route around the arcade, we started out, with 140 tokens, to play. 

I took a handful of tokens and started playing a game here and there, playing the driving simulators and video games, winning a ticket here and there.  Mike immediately took off with a cup full of tokens, running from machine to machine, occasionally bringing a stack of tickets for me to hold.  Jenny walked around with the kids, playing some games when she got a chance, taking pictures and laughing.  We all met up at one game and started to play.  Tokens are flipped from a lower entry that you aim to shoot over 2 tiers of tokens.  The tokens drop down and are pushed to the edge, making other tokens on the edge fall off the bottom shelf.  For each token that falls you get a few tickets.   See the same type of game here.

Maybe it is just my completely unaddictive personality, but I really can’t understand the draw to this sort of game.  They kept screaming “Theres a bunch on the edge, they’re gonna fall!!”, but in reality, the ledge was sloped up so it always looked like they were just about to fall.  I counted and they threw in 39 coins in the few minutes we were there. Had this been Vegas, we would have lost quite a bit in those few minutes, but they had fun so I guess it doesn’t really matter. 

I just never get into the “big ticket” games,  preferring to stay with the fun games that give a ticket here and there.  Whoever designs Chuck E Cheese’s really knows their stuff.  There are games like skee ball and basketball that have lines of adults waiting to play, games with flashing lights where you put in a coin and hit a button at the right moment to win, and a few games which actually take some skill or effort which seem too hard for most kids to ever get good at. 

 The most ingenious “game” I saw there was the Chuck E Cheese telephone.  You dropped in a coin and dialed a number and some random character talked to you for 30 seconds through a phone, with a screen depicting what was going on as they spoke.  Jenny’s daughter, who is close to 3, LOVES phones, as do most children her age.  There was a steady stream of kids pumping in tokens over and over, laughing with delight.

 At the end of the day we went through about 360 tokens (1 game per token) and ended up with 2 stuffed hammers, 2 bouncy balls, and a plastic spider.  The kids were really psyched so it was more than worth it. 


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Serious problem

September 14, 2007

I have a serious problem for which no other person can give me an answer.  I don’t have a gaming alias.  Yes, I admit, I have even resorted to using my own name on occasion when I can’t think of anything else.  Every time I think I have something that defines me and really sounds awesome I get a reality check.  Someone else will be using the name. Or, I will enter the name and someone will laugh, as if I was trying to make a joke, and I pretend to be kidding and delete the name.  Does this inferiority make me less of a person?  Am I doomed to be cast down into a lower class of humans for all time?

 When I was a child, the other kids would always think of something to call themselves when putting in a high score.  It was usually something unique and cool and I always felt like less of a person using my initials.  Sometimes I would even mask this inadequacy by trying to make a dirty word fit instead, which usually distracted people and got a few laughs.  As I got older this was harder and harder to do, always wishing I didn’t have to enter a name or thinking if I mixed up my initials and used some numbers, people would think this was some cool secret name they just didn’t get.  I was daring someone to ask me what it meant so I could laugh and say, “Oh, you really don’t know?  Sorry, can’t let you in on the secret.”. 

 The internet made this personal failure even harder to forget.  In every chat room, for every game and on each website, I am expected to have some cool screen name that defines me.  I use so many random things that sometimes I forget what I used where and this just ends in embarassment.  I have a mass of sticky notes in my desk, each with a new name and site, so I don’t have to worry about remembering.

 The root of this problem is that I have really never had a nickname.  When I was little, my family would refer to me as ‘noisy’ but I think that was more of description of my current state than a nickname.  My name comes without a shortened version, so I have never really had that either.  While friends would always make names for eachother as a result of somthing someone would do or stay, I generally lurked in the background and people kind of forgot I was there, which was how I preferred it.

 I hope by sharing this problem others will come forward and let me know that I am not alone.  Maybe we could start a support group where we could infd quizzes and activities aimed at bringing out an inner identitiy that will blossom into a name.  I could get a yearlong subscription to Seventeen magazine and take the quizzes in the back, like “what kind of flirt are you” or “what is your party style”, until I stumble across something fitting. 

Until the day comes that I can boldly declare myself (blank), I fear I am doomed to be gripped by cold sweats every time I start a new game or reach a high score.


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Choose your own violence

September 12, 2007

Last night I was watching 28 Days Later, and after the first few seconds, which include many graphically violent images, I remarked to Mike- “This is ok, but I still can’t get Manhunt 2?”.

Why is it that incredibly violent movies and tv shows, depicting real people with real blood and real weapons, are pretty easy to get into the public realm, but a game like Manhunt 2, which doesn’t even have actual human beings in it, gets blocked and banned and is forced to change before we can ever get our hands on it? This isn’t a new argument.

There is a new theory on the effect of video game violence every day, and while I can make the assumption that is isn’t affecting me, I can’t pretend to be an expert on how it affects others.

I did have a new thought this morning while gathering up my things and walking out the door. I saw a stack of Choose Your Own Adventure books sitting on the coffee table, and it made me think about how much fun Mike and I had when we found them at the bookstore and spent the night choosing our fate. On their own, these stories wouldn’t hold my attention if read straight through. While the writing was actually more complex than I remembered it, endings like “You were never heard from again” leave alot to be desired. Obviously the fun is in the choosing- being able to put the decision in your own hands and choose what to risk and when to play it safe.

I think this is the same danger many people see in video game violence. If I watch a movie and someone gets killed, I personally don’t have anything invested in that killing. I can watch it, even squirm a bit in my seat, but the next scene comes on and I quickly forget the image. But if I am playing a game, I have the choice to pull the trigger. I can decide how many times I shoot someone, whether I want to sneak up and choke someone, or if I want to kill them at all. I have something invested in the violence. If I don’t kill them first they could kill me. Survival instincts are human nature and most of the time these instincts will kick in.

Does this cross over into my every day life? Not that I can see. I would have a pretty tough time really punching someone, and I am not the best shot with a gun. I watched Mike pick up a bug this morning and let it loose outside instead of squashing it, yet he will kill my character over and over in a game and laugh the whole time.

There are violent crimes every day, and only occasionally does the person turn out to be a hard core gamer. I could probably find a correlation between people who commit violent crimes and chewing bubble gum or wearing black shoes. Data and statistics are wonderful tools while trying to prove a point. Given the right data, I could prove that people who read this are more likely to drink a glass of water every 3rd Tuesday of the month while standing up than those who don’t. I think alot of fear about violent games comes from the choose your own violence nature of them. For those who don’t play, watching someone aim a sniper rifle at someone and shoot while laughing about how easy it was is probably an unsettling sight. For me, I would be laughing along and offering a high five.

Do I think kids should play these games? Personally no, but thats why they have parents. I have watched parents buy games with M ratings in stores and then hand them to their 8 yr old while walking out. Aren’t these the ratings parents screamed for to protect their children? In the same way, I am often in a R movie filled with kids accompanied by their parents/uncles/brothers who have no problem buying the tickets.

Do I think these games can cause violence? No more than watching the news every night. I am more horrified at the actual violence happening on my tv at 6 o’clock than any game I have ever seen.

Giving games M ratings only work if parents show some responsibility. Stores refusing to sell games only fuel the desire to buy them.  If we are going to find a way to reduce violence in video games or prevent kids from playing them we should take a good look at what is actually effective instead of narrowing our focus. I don’t think anything more needs to be done but if you’re going to try, at least do it sensibly.

I can’t get behind censorship and think we spend too much time and money trying to fix the wrong part of the “problem”.  I am just trying to understand why people choose to target the game and make it the cause, instead of looking at the person. I can’t explain why people kill, and in some cases noone really knows.

Not every person who plays violent games is violent in life. If video games are behind masses of violence in the world I’d really love to get my hands on that game Hitler was playing. I bet it was messed up.


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Wii Zapper coming soon

September 11, 2007

wii_zapper_110971.jpg

As promised at E3, Nintendo will release the Wii Zapper on November 19th, complete with a game called Link’s Crossbow Training.  The game will be set in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, but Link will be equipped with a crossbow.  Players will have to move through different challenges, progressively getting harder, and hopefully master the device in the process.

There will be some third party support for the new device, officially Ghost Squad, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles,  and Medal of Honor Heroes 2.  Some developers may be waiting to see if this catches on before implementing it.

At $19.99, I am interested to see how functional this device will be or whether it is just gimmicky, like the Wiimote extensions.  But for that price, if it doesn’t end up being a wonderful gaming device, I can always use it while running around the house screaming zap with wild abandon.


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