Friday, June 30, 2006

Can't wait for Wii

I'm probably a bit slow in my timing of reading this Nintendo E3 2006 summary by IGN. Today I've been debating on whether to go Wii or PS3 this year. Wii has been the choice thus far, and it seems that it will stay that way.

As I've been saying, FFXIII would be the only reason thus far to bring me to the PS3. There's a dozen sequels for popular franchises coming for it, yet I lack interest in all but FF. Besides that, I'm looking for new franchises. Resistance and Heavenly Sword have been the only two PS3 exclusives to catch my eye. Unfortunately, that's not enough to get me excited to rush out and drop $500-600 on the console.

Click to continue reading...

There's several factors I've considered, and an important one is that I like to game online via multiplayer and CO-OP. The internet always provides us a fellow gamer to play with. When it comes to Sony's proposed online service, it is much too vague, and I already fear that it will be over-run by modders and hackers. Free multiplayer means exploited multiplayer.

Moving on to the controller they just can't seem to part with, I was very disappointed to see the same thing for a 3rd generation. Ever since I started playing Xbox and Gamecube regularly, I cannot stand the dualshock controller. After getting away from Sony's form-factor, it is easy to feel that the Dualshock is actually an uncomfortable controller. My biggest gripe is that if they don't fix the resistance of the analog sticks then I can guarantee there will be a PS3 controller stuck in my wall from a hard throw.

Another feature that is important to me is retro gaming. This is an area that Sony hasn't mentioned touching. They can tout %100 backwards compatibility all they want, but there are only 2-3 PSOne games I'd even touch again. As for PS2 games, it will be quite a while before I revisit those. Maybe they'll copy the Xbox Live Arcade thing, but it has yet to be seen.

I'll be honest, I am not a fan of the Super Nintendo or the Nintendo 64. Those consoles never hit it off with me; I took the Sega Genesis and Sony Playstation respectively. However, I would still enjoy to go back and play some of those retro games with a good controller. Nintendo is offering the ability to go back and play most of that library, where Microsoft and Sony are not.

Along with many other gamers, I would also like to spice up the gaming experience as well. That's where the Wiimote comes in. Personally, I have no fear of my arms getting tired or the controls being too difficult. Gameplay videos from E3 have shown that wildly gesticulating isn't necessary. Rather, it looks fun and I look forward to the break-in period. *psst* although sequels are sometimes bad, I'm totally a Metroid Prime junkie!

The Wii hits the spot because it will be a new experience, bring a taste of the old experience, and not burn a hole in even deep pockets. My question is: How difficult will it be to secure a Wii this year?

Sorry PS3, you can visit our living room later.

Japanese Development Community Weary of PS3

Japan's magazine Ge-Maga asked Japanese developers their thoughts on the PS3.
  • 56.31% disagree with Sony's choice of going with two hardware models

  • 55.82% feel that the PS3 won't sell with the current lineup of announced titles

  • 32.52% stated that they've become less confident in the platform after E3

  • 90.29% of the surveyed feel the PS3 is too pricey

  • 3.39% said that they were relieved by Sony's announcements at the show

The last two could be a problem. It's more of a kicker than the other percentages. The PS3 is making many uneasy. Change is what drives the market, but will change via forcing Bluray and Cell unnecessary technologies on conusmers AND making them pay dearly for it the right way? Or is Microsoft's idea of "choice" or even Nintendo's idea of "innovation" the way to go? Obviously the Japanese aren't too hot on Microsoft's 360 right now, so can they only turn to the Wii then?

As for the first two, the split is 60/40 with advantage to the negative. That's almost split down the middle, however. Is this a sign of a serious split in developer-supported consoles? One half to the PS3 and the other to the 360 with the Wii somewhere in the middle?

Check IGN for the source article.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

What Microsoft should do this fall

Well, doom-season as-we-know-it is coming. Finally, each of the "Big Three" will have their respective consoles available for purchase. Or available for fanboy early-adopter camping, ebay scammer resellers, and duped consumers willing to buy expensive bundles.

Many have naturally assumed that since the 360 has been out for year, that the next-gen console is due for a price drop. Thus, the rumors start rolling in, and they support the price drop by saying the manufacturing process has improved. Microsoft, as expected, denies such an event to keep the sales up.

I personally think that a price drop isn't necessary. One would think that Sony just handed Microsoft gold by their high-dollar PS3 announcement. However, that doesn't mean Microsoft can remain idle. Since their competition mocks the lighter 360 SKU for not even having a hard drive, then why not simply add a one to make the PS3 even less appealing than it already is. If Microsoft kept the retail prices, but matched the PS3 offerings with a 20GB HDD-equipped Core pack and a 60GB HDD-equipped Premium pack, it would essentially seal the deal since consumers aren't ready to care about Bluray or HD-DVD.

However, such a plan would probably require that they start manufacturing changes now. But who's to say they haven't?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Good Post on how Sony is letting Microsoft Win

Sam Kennedy, a editor, wrote good post that nearly mirrors my opinion of the whole Sony vs Microsoft fiasco thus far. He is fair and unbiased, which may be easy to miss if you do not read the whole post.

I'll warn you now, however, that his post is really long.'s almost as if Sony are completely banking on brand loyalty and Blu-Ray.

Sony needs more "Emotion Engine" -- catchy hyperbole to make us think we're buying something truly revolutionary, no matter how bullshit it really is.

Stop insulting our intelligence, stop pretending you're something that you're not, and start sharing your true vision for the future of gaming and beyond. People are always more than willing to pay extra for cool, even $200 more, but they need to wholeheartedly believe in what they're supporting. Sony, you need to make PlayStation cool again.

Well said.

06/27/2006 Edit: Fixed some html errors.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Quest for Better Online Gaming

Getting tired of playing games online and having it feel like you're in the Matrix? Even though your reticule says otherwise, do your bullets hit "nothing but air"? Does your competition evade your "mad skills" because you're short on bandwidth because of sharing an internet connection in your household?

I'm about tired of "the Matrix" as DemolitionNinja calls it. I've narrowed down the problem, and it appears to be the file downloading that goes on in other parts of the house. Naturally, I adjusted my router's settings accordingly, but it was in vain.

After some research, I found a slew of information on Linksys WRT54G routers, which is the router I happen to have. Wikipedia assisted me in finding 3rd party open-source firmwares for these routers. Said firmwares enhance the feature-set and even fix problems. Some of the added features are those seen in $600 routers, but can be added to this $60 router.

Continue reading...

There are optional ways of doing this via additional hardware, but why add a potential failure point and spend additional money?

First, find out which model of WRT54G router you have here. Note that your serial number should be on a sticker on the bottom of the router.

Then it's time to choose which open-source firmware you will go with:



DD-WRT has the most features of the two, but it may have more features than you will need and is probably for the more "techie" people. HyperWRT retains the look and feel of the Linksys-provided interfaces, and still provides a good set of features. I recommend the latter unless you really need the extra feature-set.

Since we just care about gaming for the sake of this article, I'm going to pick HyperWRT to keep it simple. It allows the traffic control features we want, and the interface is familiar.

Before going any further, I am not responsible for any result of you using this information or following the instructions here or at any of these links. You perform any of these procedures at YOUR OWN RISK.

If you want to be on the safer side, have your PC and your router plugged into a UPS, should the power go out during the process. Be sure to write down any special settings you'll need later, such as port forwarding, blocked websites, etc. Lastly, make sure you have the manual for your router. If not, download it from Linksys.

Per your router's version learned here, download the appropriate .bin file for the HyperWRT upgrade.

Next, we will want to reset the router to the "factory defaults". Note that this is especially important if switching from HyperWRT to DD-WRT or vice versa (in which it would be called "clearing the NVRAM").

Log into your router, click the "Administration" tab, and click on the "Factory Defaults" subsection. Select "Yes" and click "Save Settings". This resets everything, including the password. When finished, you may need to renew your DHCP lease (click "start", "run", type "ipconfig/renew" and click "OK").

To upgrade, go to the Administration page, Firmware Upgrade, then upload the file .bin file. In my case, the file was called Hyperwrt_G_Thibor15c.bin. Use the "Browse..." button to get to it, hold your breath, and click "Upgrade". It is imperative that you let the upgrade finish.

When done, continue and log back into the router. The interface is very similar, so at this point add back in all the settings you wrote down. Here are some of my suggestions:

Setup -> Basic Setup
  • Set time zone

Wireless -> Wireless Security
  • Use WEP and at least 64bit encryption (10 character hexadecimal key)

Wireless -> Advanced Wireless Settings
    You can supposedly "safely" manually set "transmit Power:" to up to 100mW. Only if you need more range though!

Administration -> Management
  • Change the password (32 char max, no spaces, but symbols are okay).

  • Disable "wireless access web" if you don't need it. Always make changes via wired if possible.

  • Disable "allow wireless access" for Telnet Daemon. Again, this should be done through wired unless otherwise necessary.

Applications & Gaming -> QoS (Quality of Service)

Okay, this is what we're interested in. Select "Enabled" for "Internet Access Priority". Leave the Category on "Applications" and select "Xbox Live" in the Applications Drop down. Set the priority to "Highest". This should add XBox Live in the summary below. You can make unnecessary duplicates, so make sure you pay attention. I did the same with EDonkey and Bittorrent, except I set their priorities to "Low".

Note that specific games are available in the options for priority, such as Wow, Diablo 2, and Counterstrike. The port ranges have already been figured; you just select the priority.

Click "Save Settings". That should do it! If not, you can also set priorities with MAC address and/or the router's ethernet ports. I recommend diving into this only if it is necessary.

So far, I had no connection interruptions because of my room mates' downloading habits. If I do, I'll be sure to update this article on setting priorities via MAC address.


Unfortunately, there are external factors to my problems. Apparently, Comcast isn't providing us as much bandwidth as they used to, which really sucks for a household with multiple online gamers.

However, this just means our QoS settings need greater specificity. Since I have a couple of often-downloading PCs, I needed to obtain their MAC addresses. The MAC's can be obtained in the router's web interface under Status -> Local Network. Click the "DHCP Clients Table" button to get a list of network devices that have used an IP address on your network. Hopefully you know the "Client Host Name" of the PCs in question.

As for the MAC addresses of your Xbox, 360, PS2, DS, or PSP, you can use these directions to find them.

Back into QoS, select the "MAC address" category. Enter a name, the MAC address you find, and it's appropriate priority, and then click Add. Repeat for all the MAC addresses. I should point out that you should avoid doing this for EVERY device. Just give XBL and your console's MAC "Highest" priority. Any PCs that download a lot should be set to "Low" along with Bittorrent and EDonkey.

If you still need to go further, then select the "Ethernet Port" category, and set the port that your console is plugged into and set its priority to "High" or "Highest".

Click "Save Settings" to finalize your changes.

This has fixed my problem, hopefully this information can help someone else.

Killzone = Joke

This is nothing new, but I've seen this video before and I don't think I covered it. A room mate wanted to see what Killzone on the PS2 looked like and this video doesn't show all the pre-rendered scenes that are in the game like most videos do. It relies on gameplay (except for the pre-rendered Killzone 2 video).

I don't believe we saw any "proof" on actual Killzone 2 gameplay from E306. I'm surprised how many people refused to believe that Sony used pre-rendered video. That's probably different now after E3, where Sony failed to show the "amazing power" of the PS3. Game Informer, EGM,, and rated Sony's E3 performance poorly this year.

Ebay Really is a Steal!

Remember my excitement on this deal? Of course not, but I'm bringing it back up.

I received this package today, and to my surprise, the contents were better than described.

3 of those 360 wired controllers looked untouched and just open box. The last controller used a rubber band to tie the cord up (as you can see in the picture, upper-right controller). That one had a couple of light black smudges, but the analog sticks were perfect; no plastic dust build-up, just clean.

The headset and memory unit were in great shape, and still essentially new.

Even though only the Monster Optical cable was described, I actually received the whole AV kit as pictured, with the optical adapter.

The System Selector's component cable had a slit in the rubber that exposed a little of the copper inside, but the it still works. That's a very minor problem and is quite negligible since I'll probably end up buying better component cables anyway.

To recap:

4 x $39.99 controllers
1 x $24.99 Pelican HD Selector
1 x $39.99 360 64MB Memory Unit
1 x $19.99 360 Headset
1 x $29.99 Monster 360 Optical Cable
1 x $59.99 Monster 360 AV Gamelink kit

Total Retail Value: $334.91

My final cost shipped: $101.16

Savings: $233.75

I hope your ebay ventures go as well as mine!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Cheap Gaming PC?

Brian Crecente at Kotaku just had his PC die and was asking for suggestions. He was thinking about this rig which rings up under $720.

I've actually been considering upgrading my PC, but not necessarily for gaming. For a Computer Science Major and computer enthusiast for over 2 decades, you'd think I'd have a decent computer. It's decent, but it sure as hell is not current. My monsterous Athlon 2000+, 768MB RAM, and NVidia Dualhead card are every bit short of impressive. As I've said before though, I don't like to use the PC any more than I have to. But multitasking power is important.

With this component list, I'd definitely have to make some modifications. Out with the water cooling, video card, and case...I don't need those. That puts me under $500.

Tempting, indeed.

It's important to note that their 4Ghz is achieved by over-clocking. That's just something I wont do. If a processor is spec'ed at a certain level, then that's what it was meant for (which is why the water-cooling was necessary). Still, a dual core running at 2.66Ghz each should do great.

There is a great introduction that talks about how your typical PC vendors use cheap parts to stay ahead. I never thought of it that way, but the point is valid. For me, if it has a name brand on it, then it is likely to be bloated with useless software and have proprietary hardware. Custom built machines can be maintained by the owner, which is a plus. Even though companies such as IBM, Gateway, or Dell will mail you replacement parts, you do end up over-paying for the intial investment, and sometimes upgrades must be purchased from the respective vendor.

If you need a new computer, this DIY setup is worth looking into.

Xbox 360's Oblivion...Not for me.

This critically acclaimed game has been in my possession for some time now. I've have actually had no desire to continue playing it.

I should have known better, because I absolutely despise the medieval times. Knights trudging around on horses with ridiculously heavy armor and over-sized swords just doesn't suit my fancy. The associated accent, attire, and overall climate of the times seriously bugs me. Only a few great movies have been able to get past this hatred of mine, and even so, they are not personal favorites.

This is one of the reasons I absolutely despised FFIX. Once a princess, a knight, and an outsider with intent of capturing the heart of the princess came about...I had to force myself to continue. The cumbersome mating of the FFVII and FFVIII stories, the forgettable characters, and the %100 predictable ending didn't help make that any less painful either.

Back to Oblivion, there are other problems for me. The "open world" is actually a bad thing for me in this case. I've been playing games for over two decades, and most of those games have had the comfort of a finite feel to them. FFVII was a good example, because beating a a boss or getting to the next disc just reaffirmed that you were making progress. There was an empty feeling in my gut after wandering around for a couple of hours in Oblivion and accomplishing nothing. The feeling intensified when I had too many possible missions to choose from.

I'm also very aware that I bring up replay value quite often. But games like Oblivion just have too many options, and it's doubtful that going through all of them would be worth the time and effort if I already don't like the setting. However, I know that many actually enjoy the medieval times, which is why the game is so popular.

I can't wait for a differently-themed RPG. Maybe Enchanted Arms will do it for me. At least we've got FFXII and a few others on the way.

Conclusively, MMO's are probably not in my future. The principle is the same, and I decidedly just don't like it. I'll end up giving it a chance, when the subject matter is a bit more to my liking. Maybe Huxley, Forerunner, Burnout, Phantasy Star, or a non-sucky Star Wars could do it for me.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bluray/HD-DVD Revisited

It's an Engadget evening, since not much caught my interest elsewhere today.

There's been some interesting posts on Bluray and HD-DVD.

Check out the Toshiba RD-A1 recorder. It comes with a 1TB hard drive and has Ethernet connection for the purpose of media sharing. Sounds like a Windows Media Center almost, doesn't it?

I'm not really interested in owning this sort of device, but it is notable that we've not really seen anything similar for Bluray (unless Sony actually provides the media functions in the PS3 they've promised).

However, in this article, Amazon is listing Bluray movies for a low $19.99. That's cheaper than a UMD version, and likely to bode well with consumers (if either format catches on).

Some important comments on that article:

I was at Best buy(the one in Kildeer, IL) last night and they had the Samsung player set up with a Samsung 40" LCD TV and it was playing fith element. It really didn't look that good, everything still looked very grainy.


From what I've seen playing (XXX) Its not too great of a difference. Atleast not on the 56in samsund DLP (A Great TV).


For those who insist that these new formats are even needed, but can't decide which route to go, Samsung will be coming to the rescue. A dual-format player was previously said to never happen. This was because of the nazi-attitude of the companies behind each disc-type. In reality, a dual-player could actually help both formats.

Interesting comment from the last link:

Now, physically all of our media is coming in the same basic physical package, which means there is this possiblity for supporting several standards in each piece of hardware.

In any case, putting support for two standards in the box is always going to be more expensive than putting one in the box. So in the end, what I see happening here is that neither group of standard pushers win and the customers, us, lose.


And one more from that article:

Honestly, after seeing both players running, there was no visual difference between the HDDVD and Blu-Ray discs. Plus, the Toshiba does a better job of upconverting. How many drugs would you have to take to see both players and decide"...ahhhhh..ah...I gotta have the $1000 Blu-Ray!" ?

-Sgt. Bilbo

It all sounds interesting...until I read comments such as the above. Beyond the DRM and hardware scams, if the improvement is negligible, then the formats will fail. If consumers that visit Engadget aren't that impressed with the difference then the average consumer will most likely not be impressed with HD movies either.

In my opinion, I think they just want to be impressed. Just like gamers did with the PS3 and Xbox 360.

Sony is Super-innovative...

Not that I would accuse gamers of ACTUALLY thinking that the PS3 controller is super-revolutionary. I mean, it looks exactly the same as the PS1's Dualshock controller.

Somewhat relevant question: Isn't Sony the first console-maker to essentially use the exact same form-factor for their controllers for multiple generations?

Most people scream foul that Sony stole Nintendo's idea. But this simple type of motion control has been around for years. Microsoft had a motion controller before we even knew about the Revolution Wii controller or the "new" PS3 controller. It can be agreed however, that Sony suddenly having a motion-sensing controller is a bit too convenient.

And we already knew that Immersion can do rumble and motion sensing in the same controller. The video brings the valid point of, "Why remove rumble?" Immersion lawsuit? Probably.

A comment I made on the loss of rumble:
The current PS3 controller design requires more input but provides less feedback. How does that sound more immersive or innovative?

I just keep thinking of playing Shadow of the Colossus without removes the earth-shattering Colossi experience...


The consumer gets smarter every year. And those who sported the first Playstation are now older and wiser. Yet Sony insists on continually insulting it's followers with lies, far-fetched claims, and unwarranted high prices.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Hideo Kojima Admits Japanese Developer Defeat

I am officially appalled. Read for yourself:

Game Informer, July 2006, Issue #159

Note: At the time of this writing, this magazine is not yet available on the website, even for GI subscribers. However, if you are not a subscriber, I'm sure any Gamestop with this issue would let you check it out.

From page 36:

GI: We've seen Japanese companies like Konami and Square Enix promising major support for the PS3, while western developers like BioWare and Lionhead are working mainly with 360. In addition to being about hardware, does the upcoming console war have an element of eastern games versus western ones?

Kojima: Well, I don't think that is true. But as a fact, the Xbox 360 is not succeeding in Japan. So, it is difficult for a Japanese developer or publisher to select 360 in the first place. Therefore, they are setting their hopes high for the PS3. On the other hand, for the foreign publishers, since Microsoft is based in the U.S. and succeeding there, it's more likely they could put more effort on the 360. This is just a fact based on the market situation. If you talk about the war between Japanese developers and those oversees, I acknowledge that we have already lost. The Japanese creators have lost to the European and American creators. Therefore, I always say to my staff, "Don't look at the Japanese creators. Look toward the Europeans and Americans when looking at development or technical things."

Kojima goes further to suggest that Japanese games could become a niche market much like Japanese films. This is merely speculation of course, but it's not to say his concern is not valid. According to Hideo, Hollywood movies currently do better in Japan than native films.

Such is odd to hear from a Japanese icon. He makes it sound as though defeat has already occurred and has been accepted. My question is, since he is actually part of the industry, is his perception skewed or is it reinforced? Difficult to say.

Personally, I think Japanese developers are still going on strong, but they may not have the impact they once had several years ago. The gaming industry is one to change drastically at any time, and maybe this is just intelligent foresight from a man with tenure.

The Wii to outsell the Gamecube

Iwata says merely outselling the Gamecube would be a failure.

From some of the gameplay videos, I would say he's has little to worry about.

I'm particularly looking forward to the next Metroid Prime. How the controller is used to open doors (unlock a door with a remote turn-and-pull motion) or move obstacles out of the way (shoot with the nunchuck attachment and pull it away) is really clever. And I want all skeptics to note how LITTLE the player is moving the remote to navigate the level. I'd hardly call that psychotic gesticulating.

Looks to me like the "lazies" will have nothing to worry about with the Wii.

Joystiq's "Hidden Gems"

In short:

  1. Psychonauts (Xbox/PS2)

  2. Beyond Good and Evil (all)

  3. Disgaea: Hour of Darkness (PS2)

  4. ICO (PS2)

  5. Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (Gamecube)

  6. Ikaruga (Gamecube)

  7. Alien Hominid (all)

  8. Killer 7 (Gamecube/PS2)

  9. Rez (PS2)

  10. Indigo Prophecy (Xbox/PS2)

I've already been through #2, and it was fantastic. I played it through in 2-3 days, and it was worth the $20 I paid. I'll probably hit up #10 and #4 next.

ICO is a must since I've been through Shadow of the Colossus. Anyone have something strong to say about the other titles listed here?

Sony's Difficult Road Ahead...

Ken Kutaragi and Phil Harrison's blasphemy is essentially being called out. Remember that the PS2 and PS3's are computers? The UK Court of Appeals says otherwise.

I am not protesting about [the Sony appeal's] inordinate length, nor about its discursive quality, nor about its frequent and unnecessary resort to hyperbole, although all those unappealing features are present...

This means that Sony isn't getting a refund for mislabeling their products as a personal computer rather than an entertainment device in Europe. Several years ago, this mislabeling would have benefitted Sony, although today the situation is different:

Although games consoles are no longer subject to EU import charges, they were between 2001 and 2004 - while computers have always been exempt.

However, this is just another piece of negative news chalked up for Sony. They are already perceived as a company in decline. This isn't helped by consumers viewing the Sony brand as less of a premium brand as opposed to several years ago. Then there's the bungling presentations, cocky interviews, and bad practices to add to that.

If the 360 sees a price drop this Holiday season, then Sony is in for even more problems. I wouldn't dare suggest that the PS3 won't sell out initially (because it will), but cheaper gaming options are going to speak to the general gamer a lot more than $500-600 for a PS3 that will be difficult to obtain. The general gamer is what is important, as proved by the PS2. It seems fairly apparent that the average gaming consumer is going to see what little more the PS3 is going to offer for %25-33 more money than the Premium Xbox 360. Let's not forget about the Wii that is expected to already be a hit or most gamers as well.

How Sony handles themselves in the near future could make or break them. With all the required upfront costs of continuing to game via Playstation, they are making it hard for fans to continue to continue to follow them. Not all gamers have it in them, Sony.

Edit: I misunderstood the situation with the failed Sony appeal. Made changes accordingly.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Xbox 360 BC with Popular Live Titles

Let's take a look at Major Nelson's top 10 Live games for the original Xbox:

Original Xbox Top Live Games
  1. Halo 2

  2. Battlefield 2: MC

  3. Counter-Strike

  4. Splinter Cell Chaos

  5. Rainbow Six 3 BA

  6. Star Wars: Battlfrnt 2

  7. Pro Evolution Soccer 5

  8. Madden NFL 2006

  9. Forza Motorsport

  10. Ghost Recon 2: SS

Non-backwards-compatible titles in this list:
  • Battlefield 2: MC

  • Counterstrike

  • Madden NFL 2006

I was actually expecting less of these to be BC. 7 for 10 is better than I originally thought (4-5 for 10). However, one has to wonder how many of these BC titles are being played on 360's? My impression must come from the ruckus over Psychonauts (which I still have to purchase by the way). I noticed that Beyond Good and Evil wasn't on there either. That's another great game I bet a lot of people missed out on.

Maybe Microsoft isn't doing so bad with BC. This info implies that the games that people are playing online seem to be mostly supported. But this info is tainted because Halo 2, the behemoth other-game-killer, dwarfs them all:

As noted last week, if you combine the lists, then Halo 2 would be number 1..followed by all Xbox 360 games.

That's a lot of Halo 2. I'll admit that I am one of the many that play Halo 2 often on my 360. That's mainly because I completed Burnout (all golds!). Oblivion is on the list...but I still haven't been inclined to play that game for a while.

Below are the Xbox games I have that are not 360 BC, in order of preference:
  • Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks

  • The Suffering: The Ties that Bind

  • Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones

  • Tenchu: Return from Darkness

  • Panzer Dragoon Orta

  • Counterstrike

Of the games I have, I'd really like to play through "The Suffering" with a 360 controller. Counterstrike would be nice, but it isn't essential.

8/14 or %57 of my games are backwards compatible. However, I'm only interested in 2 of the above 6 games to get backwards compatible. I still have 2 Xboxes, so not being able to play these games via 360 isn't crucial.

Since I've not seen anyone else mention crucial BC titles for the Playstations, I'll list the PSOne games that backwards compatibility was nice for in the PS2:

  • Final Fantasy VII

  • Final Fantasy VIII

  • Intelligent Cube

  • Einhander

  • Alien Trilogy

The BC isn't perfect for FFVIII, and I can't get Intelligent Cube and Einhander to work all the time on my PS2. So I play them on my PSOne, which plays them flawlessly. I'm not sure why Sony's BC is so praised. It's not %100 either. There's a few PS2 games that don't work on the silver slim PS2, you know.

Here's a list of non-BC PS1 games for the PS2.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Impending Video Game Crash

David Wong has an article on his grim prediction of the video game industry.

The gist of the article is that gaming is in a rut. There's nothing new coming to the novelty of gaming. Graphics improve, but the core video game goes essentially unchanged. It's not enough to bring new gamers in hordes. To make matters worse, the aging gamer is losing time and money to spend on their beloved hobby.

Overall, I find his opinion is definitely valid. Below are some good excerpts:
...most people are only playing games for the novelty of it.

Which brings us to today. We've now advanced from realistic 3D to slightly prettier 3D and... even slightlier prettier 3D with slightly better reflection effects and slightly better animated water ripples and - oh, look! This game has the most realistic fog yet!

The current generation was novel because it introduced the world to adult games. The Grand Theft Auto series carried the PS2, with the ability to abuse prostitutes in ways that Mario only did off-camera.

The problem is Nintendo is still so neglectful of older gamers that it borders on hostility.

There's just too many good parts. I'd like to quote it all! Brilliant article, read it now.

CSS Problem in Topics

I'm having some trouble getting my "Topics" section to look right in Firefox and IE at the same time.

When I'm editing the template on blogspot, the Topics look fine. However, once they are published, Firefox shows "Bluray" and "DS" doing the horizontal mambo. In IE, the lists don't line up, but IE is IE, so I'm not too concerned about it.

If anyone has suggestions, please hit me up.

Edit 06/23/2006: I had mispelled the word "style" on one of my div atrributes. That changed everything. IE looks fine now, but in Firefox, instead of Bluray being pushed down into DS, DS is being pushed up into Bluray! Weird. Again, the "preview" from Blogger looks fine, just not the actual result.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Ebay's a steal

Sometimes you just have to love Ebay.

For $100 I obtained:

  • 4 x Xbox 360 wired controllers (normally $39.99 each - new)

  • Pelican HD Selector (normally $25 new)

  • Xbox 360 64MB memory card (normally $39.99 new)

  • Xbox 360 headset (normally $19.99 new)

  • Monster Cable Gamelink cable (normally $29.99 for the optical cable, and $59.99 for the AV set)

Unfortunately, I'm unsure with the Monster Cable. The description describes only the Optical Cable, but the picture shows the AV set. Maybe I'll be lucky and get the latter. Maybe I'll get both. But I'm not counting on it.

Even in the worst case scenario, this is still a $275 value. Sure, all of this stuff is used, but even at half of the retail value I'm still ahead.

Now the real question: Do I need 4 wired controllers? It would be cool for emulator gaming although I already have a 2 port PS2 to USB adapter. Emulation is the one time I would take a PS2 controller over an Xbox/360 controller.

Maybe I can trade-in/sell two or three of those controllers and get another wireless. Hmmmm.

Edit 06/17/06: Floating the picture didn't work out well. Also fixed a spelling error. Always feel free to correct me on typos/grammar/spelling errors.

PSP Focus Group...nothing on games

A Kotaku reader fresh out of a PSP focus group details a possible coming of PSP-druggie-fix.

His information makes this "fix" sound like the old Playstation Underground discs that I always lost and/or forgot about. Additional software was discussed, such as PDA functions, GPS maps, and surprise, surprise, iTunes-ish features.

Talk of software emulation--PS1, Homebrew-- was heavy among the group but the consultant Sony had hired played dumb.

That's great and all, but as the commentors have already mentioned, enough with sorry media/computing functions and more with the games.

Made the Kotaku Multi-Tap list again

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Escapism vs Realism

Now that the Next Generation of consoles is upon us (or according to Sony, hasn't happened without their console), much ado on "realistic graphics" has come about by many in the gamer community. Sony and Microsoft fanboys alike have frothed over the idea of High Definition content which brings the smaller details in life to the gamescreen.

In contrast, the Wii-supporters insist that graphics aren't enough. Nintendo has put power in the backseat with their extremely popular Nintendo DS and the soon to come Wii console. Their focus has shifted to new experiences via a change in control schemes. The tantalizing idea of changing gameplay as we know it is grabbing the attention of all gamers; even the fanboys of the competition. Skeptics are everywhere, but the general feel in the community is positive.

One point the skeptics bring to the table is that the Wii will lack realism without HD graphics and a powerful processor. The high amount of detail that PC owners have and 360 owners are coming to enjoy is just not going to happen with the Wii's proposed specs. The skeptics insist that a new control scheme will gimmick itself out and the Wii will be left in the dust. The general retort is that motion control adds realism in itself because it requires more response from the player.

The result is the question, "Is realism or escapism is more important?" It could be said that realism can aid escapism to some extent. However, escapism is certainly not dependent upon realism. This is a good thing, and it propels imagination and creativity.

Escapism is a large reason to play video games. Just about all video games allow the player to experience a ficticious world that is separate from their own via first or third person perspective. The popularity of RPGs, first-person shooters, and MMO's can attest to this. Final Fantasy, Halo 2, and World of Warcraft are examples of these respectively. All of these games pit players in worlds and situations that are far from realistic.

Even puzzle games could be considered escapism. In games like Tetris or Lumines, the player can forget about the real world and just submerge themselves in creating lines or squares. Why the blocks are falling is inconsequential. The player is given a non-real-world task to complete, and part of the challenge is to concentrate solely on that meaningless task.

Good graphics or not, all of these games provide entertainment through providing surreal atmospheres for gamers to get lost in. The entertainment experience is similar to watching sci-fi movies, except the medium requires user interaction. In movies, the viewer experiences a world created by the studios, and escape to it for a couple of hours. Games do the same except for longer periods of time. One point to take from movies is that even older films without CG, high definition, or up-to-date effects can still be enjoyable.

With this information in mind, it is easy to say that escapism takes precendent to realism. Whether or not that basketball player has sweat cascading down his skin isn't an ultimate deciding factor to whether the escapism is fullfilling or not. It may help a bit, but unless the development team is able to capture the full attention of the gamer, then the escapism is likely to be short-lived rendering the realism meaningless.

Tetris DS vs Lumines

Ever since I obtained my PSP, I've been playing a game of Lumines before I went to bed.

The game is addicting, and it is about the only thing I play on the PSP at the moment. Yes, I have other games and other games on the way.

Ever since I've had my 360, my DS has been essentially ignored unless someone else was using the TV (which doesn't happen very often). I bought Metroid Prime Hunters, but decided to wait until I get a DS Lite to further my gameplay (hand cramps).

I haven't been into a DS puzzler since Meteos. So I decided to give Tetris DS a go several days ago. Good glory, no blurry loading screens. Simple and effective menus with a handful of game choices.

Aside from the "catch" mode, I like every other mode. "Push" is probably my favorite. That's a whole hell of a lot of Tetris though. The prevalent Nintendo themes were a nice touch as well. Online multiplayer kicks ass, too.

Lumines has officially been replaced for me.

Lumines 1up review
Tetris DS 1up review

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Team Ninja "pwned" Sega (Ninja Gaiden vs Shinobi)

I was looking up some Ninja Gaiden Black photos to accent this page a little bit; looks like I'll need to do some editing to get what I want.

Anyway, I came across this old forum discussion. The topic is Shinobi vs Ninja Gaiden. The posters lean toward Shinobi. I wonder what the hell videos they saw, because the difference was night and day when both games were released. However, keeping in mind that this was 4 years ago helps their opinions become less surprising.

Shinobi on PS2 most likely disappointed the above-mentioned gamers. It was succeeded by a better-playing quasi-sequel called Nightshade. Both games, however, really never held a candle to Ninja Gaiden on Xbox. Ninja Gaiden is still an Xbox flagship title, whereas Shinobi and NightShade were easily forgotten.

One doesn't have to delve far into Shinobi and NightShade to find that they are extremely repetitive. Both have boring combos, moves that are mockingly absurd, unmemorable weapons, and the controls leave much to be desired. The levels are more like "stages" and have a straight-forward path. Within those levels, it's difficult to judge distances, leaving the difficulty to be labeled as "annoying" rather than "hard" or "easy".

On the contrary, Ninja Gaiden offers multiple weapons, each with dozens of combos that can be chained together. The battle system takes a bit of time to adjust to, but once the player can effectively pull off even a simple combo, he/she feels like a badass. The animations/moves are excuted very well, and seem almost natural when exploring the "open" levels. The game can be extremely difficult, although Ninja Gaiden Black lightened the load with "Ninja Dog Mode" (aka easy). gives Ninja Gaiden Black a 10, Shinobi a 7.2, and NightShade a 6.0.

Personally, I think the 7.2 for Shinobi was extremely generous, and should have switched with NightShade's rating. But Shinobi did come out first. Check out the links to the 1up reviews for more info if you've never played these games before.

If anybody actually thought Shinobi or NightShade was superior to Ninja Gaiden (or Ninja Gaiden Black), I'd love to hear your comments. Personally, I think Ninja Gaiden is better compared to Devil May Cry or God of War.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

More PS3 = Game Machine ????

So I don't have to repeat myself:

"from what iv heard you can infact hook your ps3 up to a printer...
from what iv heard you can upgrade your ps3 for non gaming uses...
from what iv heard you can put any data editing program you can get to run on linux, on ps3... including word editors!"

You could do this with the PS2 as well. And it sucked. Using PS2 Linux would be the equivalent to sawing off your hand slowly with a butter knife.

If you want to hook up a printer and use postscript drivers, be my guest. If you are used to using Microsoft Office (which is bad enough), OpenOffice is going to drive you insane. Get even more frustrated and try StarOffice. That's assuming someone even make builds that are compatible with the cell. It will probably be a bit before any non-Sony-provided cell-compiled programs show up.

I can't wait for the "Sony package installer". I'm guessing the command line will be:

#SonyOwnsYourMonkey /a /ss /rootkit=yes [name of software]

=) Sorry, had to do it.

Upgrade your PS3? Do you really think Sony wants you messing with anything inside of that box other than the hard drive? Even then, you'll probably need a proprietary HDD just like the 360. The "upgraded" PS3's, should they ever come to fruition per Ken's psychotic fantasies, would be completely separate PS3's that you'd have to buy.

Headline to Sony:

"Gamers Want the PS3 to be Like a Games Machine"

How about some info on some fresh franchises? We've already established that gamers have relinquished Sony's right to speak.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Xbox 360 + Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop 3.0

Blogger was having some troubles when I originally wanted to share this information. All is well, so here you go!

I've always wanted to try this "naturally curved" keyboard since I really hate the broken-in-the-middle ergonomic keyboards of the past. Howevever, the idea of dealing with wireless and batteries was really a turn off, so I didn't pay much mind.

However, after seeing how much easier XBL messaging with a keyboard is, I decided it was time to get one of these keyboards to see if it would work. If it didn't, I could still use it with the laptop I use for gaming on the TV.

To my surprise, it worked on 360 without hassle! And an added bonus: I could connect the PS/2 wire to my laptop's docking station and the USB wire to the 360...AT THE SAME TIME! This mean that I didn't have to swap wires whenever I wanted to switch between the laptop and the 360.

Note: This is NOT the Bluetooth version of the Optical desktop

Not all was glorious, however. The range on this keyboard/mouse combo is only about 5 feet. The couch was just out of range. So I purchased some cheap PS/2 and USB extension cables off ebay. But since the laptop was on one side of the TV, and the 360 was on the other, I needed these anyway. I just ran the wireless receiver behind the couch (out of sight) and all most was well.

The last problem was the mouse. I don't currently have a 360 game that supports a mouse, so I can't test this out. I'd be suprised if it didn't work though. Unfortunately, since the USB cable was plugged into the 360, that meant I lost mouse support for the laptop. I'll have to try a USB splitter to see if I can get the mouse to work with it. Then I won't have to mess with cables for that either.

Adding a wireless keyboard ot the 360 is great. Conveniently convenient if you will!

Edit 06/14/06: There's a temporary solution to my last problem. Assuming a PS/2 to USB adapter will work, I could plug the adapted end into the 360 and the stock USB end into the laptop. This will work out fine until a 360 feature/game has mouse support. At that point, I'll need a KVM switch, separate wireless mouse, or an automatic switching USB splitter.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Red vs Blue / Halo 3 Video screen saver

Bungie says do it. Now.

This is a cool idea. My PC goes to screen saver all the time (at home), so setting my screen saver to the Red vs Blue episodes instead of the blank screen saver seems novel.

Or you could do a mixture of various console trailers including Gears of War, Halo 3, and Final Fantasy XIII. That GoW trailer makes me giggle a litle inside for some reason. Throw in the DOAX and Rumble Roses trailers for maximum...uh...variety!

Xbox 360 - Clear the cache with the new update

Y, X, X, LB, RB, X, X

Or is it "up up down down left right left right B A Start"?

If you refuse to click links, go the System Blade and the Memory section. Highlight the Hard Drive or Memory Unit, and do the above code (not the Konami one, silly!).

Warning: Deletes all game updates. I'm not responsible for any result of using the above information.

That's actually somewhat of a fun way to access a maintenance feature. It really solidifies the gaming-console feel. I'm not having any problems, so I don't need to try it out, but if you are having problems, the option is there.

Sony Blasphemy...Yet Again...

It's a BlurayStation, it's a LinuxStation, it's a ComputerStation...where's the Playstation?

All I know is that before rumble, the only feedback gamers received was via Audio and Video. Rumble added feel/touch feedback to the experience. That really completed it, because if we have to start tasting and smelling games, I'd be concerned. - SuicideNinja

"Different Configurations"? If Sony mangles our beloved console concept into the PC concept, then as far as I'm concerned it's over. This is one time where there NEEDS to be a separation. The enjoyment of the consoles involve not having to deal with an operating system, long load times, conflicting software, outdated hardware, or anything related to PC gaming. Consoles are great because they are plug and play.

Microsoft already thought of putting a full customized Windows on the 360. The gamer-centric employees (aka J. Allard) knew this wouldn't be a good idea, as it would erase the console to PC disparity.
Note: Look up "Project Helium" for more info, I can't find the original article I read.

"Speaking about the PS3, we never said we will release a game console," he said. "It is radically different from the previous PlayStation. It is clearly a computer."

Sony suggests that consoles are a thing of the past. No wonder the gaming industry is in a slump. Sony, we need consoles. They give developers and gamers a common ground: equal hardware. If it runs on one, it will run on all.

Reading Kutaragi's insanity is so taxing...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

HD-DVD vs Bluray release lists



This is what sucks about format wars. There are good movies on both sides of the fence. The question is, are people ready to abandon DVD in favor of these new formats? Consumers still need to upgrade to HDTVs first, and hopefully they get one with an HDCP supporting HDMI/DVI port.

Let's not forget that the players will continue to be 'spensive for a while. Before someone interjects, yes they could buy a PS3 for Bluray. Although not all movie buffs are gamers, would they still purchase a PS3 for movie playback? Which brings a good point: Is the Trojan Horse 2-way? Can it get non-gamers gaming I wonder?

And on another note, do any of these releases have the DVD version embedded (I've only found one)? Hybrid discs allow consumers to start collecting up now, and still be able to watch before they even get an HD-DVD player.

It still seems to be a rocky road for consumers. I'm still crossing my fingers for both formats to fail for movies, but these things are hardly predictable.

A Developers Article on Getting Scammed by the Man

Games that suck aren't always the developers fault...

I sympathize. From working in Information Technology, I've found that the "suits" often demand request unreasonable completion dates, ridiculous procedures, money-consuming "cheaper" upgrades, programs that move in the wrong direction, and other smooth-operation inhibitors.

One recent event in my department was the hiring of a contracted programmer without IT consent. Come to find that this contractor doesn't know how to program in the language that we hold as a standard. The contractor also claimed the project he was assigned would take 40 hours (it would have been more like 80+), and he could learn the new language effeciently and throw it together in that time frame.

The reason behind the surprise contractor? The manager was trying to complete a project faster than normal because he wanted to get a certificate faster. Our programmers are currently busy on more important projects. It's understandable to go with outside help, but without consulting the resident programmers and their standards, it's just setting us up for failure. Our programmers would have to support a program that an outsider wrote that didn't follow our standard coding practices. Bug fixes would waste a ridiculous amount of man/woman hours (we have a female programmer) since they'd have to decipher potentially jumbled code.

I'm sure this garbage happens all the time in the video game development industry as well. Thankfully for us, our manager stuck a wrench in that fiasco, and our programmers will get to that project when they are able. But I'm sure others are not always so lucky.


Wireless USB (aka WUSB) to save the day.

For those who aren't paying attention to homebrew, Dark Alex's DAX ZISO loader for the PSP now has USB support. This does NOT mean you can use a USB thumbdrive or non-USB-hosting USB hard drive to load to the PSP from. However, this does mean that you can load ISOs from your PC over USB.

Using ISOs is pirating right? Not necessarily if you own (not borrowed) a license (aka physical copy) of the game. Games load faster over USB or the memory card than it does from the actual UMD, so there is legal intent behind this.

Anyway, if you haven't done the math yet, wireless USB would enable this functionality without being tethered to your computer. Imagine how sweet that would be. Apparently WUSB is just as fast over wireless as it is wired now, so the possibilities are endless, and the storage limits of the PSP would be negated.

Now if they would just release a WUSB product already...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Why does the racing genre suck?

The other day I was reflecting on how boring racing games have become. Although the cars look fantastic in the likes of Gran Turismo, Ridge Racer, Forza, and Need for Speed, is that all it takes? What is the premise of a racing game?

The sad part is, that racing is generally limited to driving around in circles repetitively. No matter how great the cars look or how awesome the surround sound can never capture the rush of actually being at the wheel with your right foot planted. Even with a steering wheel controller, the experience very much lacks the rush of going 100+ mph.

So I asked myself, "Why did you like Gran Turismo 2 so much?" After wincing at the memory of completing the license tests, it become obvious. Gran Turismo 2 had a model of one of my favorite cars: the Ford Taurus SHO (3rd gen).

However, GT2 did not let the player add forced-induction to that car, which is crap; you can add FI to about anything. With my naturally aspirated underdog, I was able to complete over half the races in first place. At that point, the NA SHO just didn't have enough nuts to keep up with the higher horsepower vehicles without some serious ramming and cutting off (which I already had to fight hard to beat some of those races). I think that's when I stopped playing the game. It was no longer interesting to win races if I had to change cars.

The thought process cascaded, taking me even further back to the first NASCAR game I had on PC. Did I actually race in that game? Nope. I flipped a 180, and drove straight into the other cars to see how much destruction I could cause. Crashing was the best I could get out of the game, since straight up racing against AI left a lot to be desired {hopefully online play will fix this in the future).

The problem with both games is that once I had to follow the "correct" path, I was just back to racing in circles.

Games like Mario Kart, Burnout, and Full Auto bring a breath of fresh air to the idea of video game racing. Instead of relying purely on the monotonous circle driving, they added weapons, aggressive bashing/wrecking, and insane amounts of speed. Each of these livens the experience and ups the competition. We need livened experiences for all genres, but racing is probably in the top 5 of "needs help drastically".

I hope more creative additions are a trend we'll see more of in the future with the genre. Until virtual reality is available that will emulate the 5 senses, I think straight up racing will continue to be mostly uneventful.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Xbox 360: Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion

SqueakyNinja (aka the girlfriend) bought this game for me yesterday. I had been holding out to take a break from buying games. I also wasn't sure if I'd like it because I'm not into medieval times at all.

My initial game lasted a few hours. Time just flew by. The thing is...I don't really feel like I accomplished anything. I mean, I temporarily got to use a katana (I'm so mad the Blade stole it), and got to create my own "ninja" class. I even did a few quests.

The ES4O world is immense. Without the quick travel option, I wonder how long it would take you to go all the way across the map on foot. Too long most likely. It provides a feeling of endless places to travel, and hours upon hours of exploration. It actually seemed to be...too much. However, thanks to the quests, non-wanderers such as myself are given purpose.

An annoying thing that I'm running into is the healing and armor/weapon repair. During one quest, I was in the middle of a battle and my sword just broke. What the hell. I had to run far, far away in order to repair it. Even when there were no enemies in sight, it wouldn't let me repair my weapon. *shakes head*

This game seems more suited to the MMO-player type. It reminds me of someone playing one; running around, sometimes aimlessly, and fighting various battles and gathering goods.

Do I like it? I'm not sure, but I'm going to keep playing. For those annoyed by tedium, or who hate medieval times, I would recommend staying away from this game. If you are open minded, enjoy open worlds, and/or like the medieval thing, then this game could be for you.

For me...I'll see how it goes.

Microsoft and Sony lose points today

The BlurayStation is now a PC-killer...

Moore says, "we underpromised and overdelivered [with BC]."

Wow. Let's start with the PC-Killer.

Can the PS3:

  • Run Internet Explorer (many sites are optimized for this browser)?

  • Run ActiveX controls?

  • Burn CDs and DVDs?

  • Support multiple monitors?

  • Run Microsoft Office?

  • Support multiple hard drives?

  • Sync with PDAs?

  • Be portable?

  • Be upgraded?

  • PRINT?

The answer to all of the above: No.

Edit: Further review shows that the blogger probably miscontrued what Phil Harrison meant with his bold words. It's possible he's taking a stab at the Xbox 360's Media Center Extender capabilities. Maybe he's suggesting that the Xbox couldn't do any of these things without a PC? That's silly. In any case, the PC is a better device than ANY gaming console for media functions.

It is still ridiculous to think that the PS3 would be a decent music, video, linux, or web browsing box. Like the PSP, being a jack of all trades and a master of none won't help them in this war.


Ok, Peter. You cannot back out of the BC thing now. First, you'll fuel the fire for the BS3 Cultists. More importantly, ALL of the Xbox supporters EXPECT to have BC now. Some may have even wanted to buy Xbox games because they didn't have an Xbox in the first place. Not to mention that this just looks like bad to say MS is shooting for %100 BC and then saying this a couple months later.

Personally, BC isn't that important to me since I have an Xbox. Same with the PS2; I have a PS1. But I'm sure others traded in their Xboxes to buy the 360. Peter's responses are just disappointing.

Note to Sony Cultists: Sony is using software emulation for BC instead of using the actual hardware onboard. 100% BC is unlikely.

Edit: After thinking over and re-reading the original article, I think Peter's approach was a bit blown out of porportion as well. I believe he's suggesting that BC is only important for a limited amount of time. Then it's time to move on. There is a lot of truth in this. How long do the outdated games need to hold out in their original form? Very few games stand the tides of time. There's only about a handful of titles per console that can hold up.