Tuesday, June 26, 2007

More HD-DVD and Blu-ray time wasting

More mini-victories are being heralded in the does-this-really-matter format war of late. The whole debacle seems to only have steam because it relates to gaming consoles...does the average consumer even care? The latest news says gamers are more interested in my opinion. just seems like a fight over who is the lesser loser.

HD-DVD and Blu-ray via 360 and PS3 respectively outsold stand-alone players last April. In HD-DVD's case, the 360 attachment sold 55% more than the stand-alone players, which are now in the $300 range from Toshiba. Blu-ray players are getting to PS3 pricing, but it hardly matters since PS3's are the most sold Blu-ray player.

Interestingly, Blu-ray players seems to be doing worse than HD-DVD players, but Blu-ray movies seem to be selling more. HD-DVD isn't obliterated yet, but many have low-hopes. If they can keep rushing with a plethora of titles every month, interest will wane at a lesser rate, or not at all.

A loss for the consumer and a win for the movie makers; BD+ for Blu-ray has been finalized. BD+ is MORE copy-protection for some one or some group to hack passed in the future. However, this "extra protective" condom seems to have won Fox and Disney over, and Blu-ray will probably see more releases because of this.

Blu-ray supporters are doing happy dances everywhere, but it still seems to me that the general consumer still doesn't care. DVD sales are down by around 8% at this point, and some would like to be it's because Blu-ray/HD-DVD. Either way, it almost seems that it would be better if someone would just give in so we could move on.

Mish-mash Vol. 5, Mostly Microsoft Good and Bad

Keeping up with the news lately has been impossible lately. I've had some old friends come back into my life lately, and I've not had much time to sit down and get involved. I've been home mostly to just sleep. And SqueakyNinja has been needing help as well. Crazy times.

Let's talk 360:

Supposedly, the upcoming HDMI converter will now support 1080p in non-Elite 360's. The idea is to translate the 360's output to digital before it goes to the TV, thus cutting out the need for the TV to do the conversion. Again, I witness 1080i and 1080p all the time between the 360 and the PS3. There really isn't much for a discernable difference. But some people are crazy I guess.

The faulty 360 problem seems to have become quite an issue lately. The media is all over it, especially since the word is that MS is receiving 2500 broken consoles a day in UK. It's really disappointing that these problems are occuring. Let's see if they can nip this one in the butt before it becomes like Sony's DRE problem. It's really close to getting there.

To add to that...there is apparently some video problems creeping up as well. The colors fade or there is no video output. This isn't looking good. I haven't noticed any problems with my 360 since I got my original replaced last December. Knock on wood.

Lucky for Microsoft, they've got some solid titles this summer. Bioshock, Blacksite, Blue Dragon, and The Darkness should give us plenty to do. Hopefully these games meet or surpass the hype, because Microsoft needs more heavy hitters in it's corners. All of these titles are new, which is even better.

Friday, June 22, 2007

"You've got another thing coming..." -Judas Priest

I'm starting to think that I'm subscribed to too many blogs. I can't really keep up. Anyhow, I wanted to quickly cover some things on the way that have my interest.

Falling Leaf Studios is all about making Halo 2 Vista....XP-i-tized. That's good, because I'm avoiding Vista as long as possible, but want to try H2PC.

It looks like my dream of playing old Tomb Raider will be realized. It will be downloadable to Legends, but I'll just wait for the retail release.

The PS3 will be getting "more AV features". I've not had a chance to see what they are, but anything to that console will help.

Wiiside, it looks like a non-Nyko vendor has come up with a decent battery pack/charging solution for Wii Remotes. The price is right, too. I've not wanted to drop $60 on two charging stations, so I may go this route.

My second favorite RPG, Xenosaga, is getting it's own animated DVD set. The story was phenomenal compared to many other RPG's although I think Xenogears had it the best. I'll probably buy this set on sheer principle.

Lastly, I'm surprised that Rock Band will be mostly affordable. I'm a little pissed that the Xbox 360 wireless guitars will cost more than the PS version. It probably has to do with MS's licensing or something....unless they had to make their own wireless setup. We'll see I guess.'s too early for Christmas...but damn there's some big holes due for my wallet.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

8-bit ending nostalgia

Wiifanboy brings our attention to the 8-bit days of game-ending scenery, curtesy of While most of the games didn't hit my retro-heart, Ninja Gaiden and Megaman always will.

As a kid, I always remember finding it funny that the NES Ninja Gaidens always had a sunset/rise at that end. No matter, I beat the first two multiple times and had a personal rule to watch all the cutscenes every single time unless I was going for an unofficial speed run.

Megaman really didn't do cutscenes in its 8-bit days...until the end of the game. The game and the endings were always the same (or similar) until "the blue bomber" upgraded. Yet somehow the little man running home was some how just enough award...even without achievement points. ;)

Nowadays, Final Fantasy has raised our standards. An artistic 8-bit scene and some words used to we expect actual emotion to be invoked and some impressive CG prerenders. Not that there's room to complain, but simplicity seems to disappear as the years go on. It sure gives meaning to the cliche, "The good ol' days."

30% Failure Rate in 360s (in the beginning, not now)

Smarthouse brings the report.

Wow. No wonder Microsoft skirts the failure issue so much. Even I've been through a couple of repair instances with my 360 and a room mate's. I had no complaints with my repair procedure, but my friend was given hell because his was back when the 360's only had 90 day warranties. MS fixed it when they extended the warranty for everyone. I guess "at least it didn't take them a lawsuit to get in line" like it did with Sony and PS2 DRE. In either case, both companies really should have fixed the issues sooner.

For the record, mine failed at about 12 months right after an update, and his failed at about 6 months right after that same update. Ironically, they paid for his shipping, and not mine. The $8 didn't hurt me, but the principle seems a bit out of whack. I remember Sony trying to charge me $40 to fix a PS2 that was IN I have a difficult time stoning MS for it. As I always say, Nintendo waxes them both by paying for everything and being prompt with no hassles.

One thing to clarify about this article is that the 30% figure is from an EB games employee in reference to the time after launch. The headlines going around blogs are making it sound like this is a confirmed failure rate across the board even up to today. Most likely, this is not the case, since they also say it's slowed down since then.

According to Microsoft there is no problem with the Xbox 360 despite Smarthouse receiving over 100 emails of complaint.

One problem with this is one website receiving "over 100 emails" doesn't mean anything with 11 million consoles on the market. What we want to know is how many returns they have done. Maybe someone can investigate with Fedex/UPS and see how many return boxes have come out of Microsoft? Then we'd have some solid info.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Blu-ray and HD-DVD...just another war

Life is hectic and full of wars. So who needs another.'s Robert Smith thinks this may be another stalemate war resulting in a loss all around. The cliche comparison is agains aDVD and SACD, which he doesn't mention, but it is just too appropriate.

The author suggests that consumers that don't fall into the niche category are merely hanging out...waiting for a decided winner. The fact that HD titles are plentiful on cable and satellite is one reason he mentions. I'd even say DVD does the job well enough for most, leaving the desire to drop bucks on a non-unified format small.

Continue reading...

Of course, Mr. Smith finishes off the article by talking about digital distribution. Personally...for movies...I don't think this is viable quite yet. Download speeds aren't fast enough, and DRM is too annoying. But he does have a point about HD-DVD/Blu-ray seeming like failed experiments with extending the lifespan of the packaged media concept.

I just keep thinking that the biggest problem with HD-DVD and Blu-ray is there isn't enough change from DVD to justify the hassle of re-buying a movie library. On one many times do we really watch the movies we purchase? HD-DVD and Blu-ray present problems that videophiles don't think of:

Most consumers aren't really clamoring for HD. A clear picture is nice...but was anyone really complaining about SD? DVD had improvements anyone could understand: no rewinding, smaller size, better A/V. Any VHS user could easily understand how DVD was more convenient. Tell a DVD users that HD-DVD/Blu-ray "has a better picture, but requires a new HDTV, supports such and such resolution, and has more special features." The first response is, "But what is wrong with DVD's picture?" I know many people who don't know what HD-DVD/Blu-ray is, and are perfectly content with their DVD and Cable/Satellite. I'm betting that's your average consumer of today.

Physical size is another big issue. The packaging is smaller, but the media is the same size. This one problem alone hardly makes it seem newer and higher tech. The product itself doesn't seem like much of an improvement visually. Storing movie collections takes up a ridiculous amount of physical space after a while. The limited supply and the similar media size doesn't visually confirm "more convenience" at all, but rather "more price with little return". Sure...the content may offer more, but explaining that in a simply was isn't passer-by friendly.

Blu-ray may seem in high spirits with their Blockbuster deal and outselling HD-DVD for the time being, but overall both format's sales combined is sales still a joke.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

60 reasons to own a PSP? I can only think of 1.

Games, demos, and homebrew about sum up the reasons to get a PSP.

Personally, FFVII: Crisis Core needs to come out already. My PSP hit early retirement long agon from being too bulky (too long, and games are huge). With $40's hard to not just spend another $10-20 and get a Xbox 360, PS3, or Wii title. The experience isn't really different enough to justify playing on the tiny 4" screen. The DS is a much better portable gaming device IMO.

Just give me the one game so I can justify the waste of money known as PSP.

KillWhat? Guerrila still thinks we care about Killzone 2

After the seedy showing of a professionally pre-rendered CG movie a couple years back, Guerrila games claims it will shut critics up with more show than tell. I don't know of anyone who is confident in their abilities though.

It sounds like they are going to do a Halo-3-esque beta, and have some type of mini-E3 showing this year. It's hard to care, especially after all the blatant lies around that outsourced CG trailer.

Talking about Price Drops is stupid.

If you ask me, I'm tired of reading about PS3 and 360 price drops. Sure, Microsoft knows that $199 is the sweet spot. Sony knows they need to go cheaper to get more customers. Even if they were planning on price-drops, what motivation would they have to share that information with consumers? They will do anything in their power to keep sales at least steady, as opposed to being cut off while consumers anticipate a known price drop date.

Isn't anyone else tired of the "Rumor: Price drop coming" and then the next day, "X denies price drop"? I know I am. Of course they will deny it.

The only interesting price-drop news is that Bank of America has little faith that a $400 PS3 will help Sony's losing situation.

Finally, news on the new ALIENS game

*Note, I will always capitalize ALIENS in reference to the movie. There so many stupid references to the standard black-eyed, thin-body, huge-headed aliens that I find it important to stress that these are the real Giger deal.

Well...a bit to my chagrin, it appears that the new ALIENS FPS game will have the player portraying a Colonial Marine. While this guarantees some hot Pulse Rifle, Flame-thrower, and Smart Gun action, I still prefer to play as the ALIENS themselves.

At least they are working with those who are making the ALIENS RPG. I had the inkling to make an ALIENS RPG when I was a kid, but I didn't have the time, patience, or coding-skill back then to make what I had envisioned (a Dragon Warrior meets Bart's Tale type RPG). Let alone the art skill to come up with my own ALIENS design.

While AVP: Extinction is the only RTS game I've ever enjoyed, it still wasn't much to save the franchise from it's descending past. AVP was horrible on the SNES, and those ALIEN 3 games were rather disappointing. Viva la AVP3...please...please...

Blu-ray vs HD-DVD...not looking good

It's already starting to happen. Blu-ray is becoming the winner in a potentially losing battle. In either case, HD-DVD may not be able to meet Blu-ray at the finish line, whether there are bystanders waiting or not.

We can pretend that HD-DVD is still fighting the fight with news that most UK retailers prefer it as the HD format. Toshiba is even dropping prices on their players in what seems like the right direction. Some critics understandably use old news to give HD-DVD a recommend.

Reality seems to be kicking in, however. With a preference begrudgingly to Blu-ray, The Digital Bits says either Blu wins or no one does. In this article, they make the affirmation that HD-DVD WILL NOT WIN. This put some smile on PS3fanboy faces.

Said article is written so well that it's hard to argue. I agree with them. While it's not impossible for HD-DVD to make a miraculous come-back, it's unlikely. Universal is more likely to give in than the other studios joining them. With heads lowered, let's accept a potential future of too much copy protection, probable cut off of DVD backwards compatibility, and Sony misusing their power of standard format.


Square-Enix gets attention lately.

Looks like our favorite RPG maker has a mixture of news.

It looks like the remake-money train isn't stopping for them. They are even hitting up the DS since the power-consoles are supposedly over-engineered.

That said, it looks like the 360 isn't getting any FF love (old or new). Not to mention the much-desired FF7-remake isn't being touched, even on the PS3.

Both of the above piece of information suck. A lot. FF would be a great addition to the 360 library, especially given some interesting achievements and community features that most likely would fall flat on PSN. But SE is the if FF gets to avoid the 360 for a while, then so be it.

As far as FF7, I don't see what the problem is. Obviously people would buy it, and since the game is already would mainly need just a graphical overhall. In fact...the 360 would be the best place to put it. Hey, if the PS3 gets Ninja Gaiden Sigma and doesn't have to share, then why not give the 360 the same opportunity?

Catching up part 3: Nintendos Turn

Well, my google reader is back to normal. I tried some stand-alone RSS readers...and they just didn't work out. So I'm happy.

Well, I've ranted about the PS3 and the 360. It's Nintendo's turn for a wrap up of the last couple of weeks.

First up, while obvious, is Reggie mocking the competition for not attacking the right market. Nintendo's competition is really the things people do everyday: watching TV, or out-of-home activities such as bowling. If the Wii can pull users away from those things, then they've got something special on their hands. MS and Sony were too busy going after the audience they already have, and missed the boat.

Continue reading...

Reggie's claims are easily backed up with news on console production. Wii product is up, and PS3 production is down. Obviously, this is due to sales. The Wii beating the PS3 5-to-1 in Japan probably didn't leave room for Sony celebration.

The 360 isn't safe either, as an online survey shows Wii owners are less likely to purchase 360's. Not surprising. Those going straight for the Wii are probably the non-hardcore crowd and enjoy the cheaper entry fee (leaving an "over-engineered" $400+ console purchase out of the question).

A very confident Nintendo is already assuming a solid win.

Of course, the Wii is showing some negative possibilities now as well. Wii success could be an indirect attack on hardcore gaming. If the casuals take over...will the hardcore be left in the dust? the Wii's success leaving shortages even more problematic? Right now, it may seem okay...because there really isn't any solid Wii titles other than Wii Sports. I'm impatiently waiting for Metroid 3, but if I remember right it comes out around the same time as Halo it gets to wait. What if consumers get tired of not being able to procure the Wii and they end up going for the other two consoles which will have a plethora of solid games this Christmas?

For those who do have Wii' seems that the problem of not having any memory left is coming soon. Delete or move to SD is the option, but is that really desirable? Maybe the under-engineered Wii will need a hard drive one of these days.

In any case, Nintendo is sitting pretty yet again. But one has to wonder if they will do a history regurgitation with the N64 era? If Nintendo gets over-confident again...they'll lose the 3rd party support to the competition. But that will be a future generation. For now...those DS's and Wii's just keep printing money.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Catching up...This time, it's 360 and Halo 3 etc.

I bought Crackdown with the Halo 3 Beta not long after the Beta was available. A few days later...I had to go to Virginia. When I returned, work was hectic and I just wasn't home much. So I only had a half-dozen occasions to play H3.

With a couple of buddies on my friends list...we played to the bitter end. We discussed how Crackdown would be the most returned/traded game of all time, and how 3+ months was a damn long time to wait until playing again. Bungie was kind enough to allow our last game to finish, and then our connection was terminated.

It made me think back that I've had the Wii and the PS3 for half a year now...and I still never touch them, even when I do have time. They are starting to remind me of my PS2...was glad to get it...but it just didn't drive me to be a gamer. I highly doubt the experience of hanging out with buddies until the game-supply shuts out the lights will ever happen with the Wii or the PS3. Xbox players have a specific bond that I think is highly unavailable on the other systems. I've played online with the PS2, PS3, and DS...and there's just no sense of attachment or community there. Sure, Playstation Home *might* change that...but we'll have to wait and see.

On to recent Xbox news:

Continue reading...

It looks like some good things have come before the Xbox. It's controller, yet again, gets called "The best of the best." That damn d-pad holds them from perfection.

Halo 3 is expected to even up MS losses in their gaming venture. With how solid and entertaining the Halo 3 beta was (those replay videos will be a hot topic of community interaction), I wouldn't say they are far off. It's hotter than Gears of War according to Game Daily.

Another good point was the handful of underhyped games. Shadowrun and Stranglehold are on that list.

MS also acknowledges that $199 is the sweet spot for pricing. Unfortunately, that also means they will deny price drops for as long as possible.

Due do the different cycles, the 360 is also putting the smack down on the PS3. It has a much bigger 8+/10 rated number of exclusives. While this may not claim victory, this does show that MS isn't going anywhere. R.I.P. Dreamcast comparisons.

On the negative side of things:

Ninja Gaiden Sigma is sticking with the PS3. This is disappointing to me...but it does give me a game to use on my cold and lonely PS3. At least the series is sticking with the 360.

It's MS's turn for being accused of arrogance. I think a big concern is that they aren't handling their position very well at the moment. All we can do is sit and watch...because Microsoft isn't going to listen to our business suggestions, that's for sure.

It also looks that Microsoft's anti-modding movement has been temporarily thrwarted yet again. From what I gather in the community, gamers care more about eliminating cheaters than eliminating piracy. But that's a what-I-get-out-of-it bias for sure.

And lastly, back to the Halo 3 beta. Some are concerned that expectations will be so high that the pressure on Bungie might we overwhelming. Personally, I have faith. I have one request, and that is they make sniping even harder. It still seems too easy. Two words, "Breathing Movement." I'm sure between all players, the myriad of requests is ridiculous. We'll see how many expectations they can meet and/or compromise with.

In any case, those of us addicted just can't put the 360 controller down. Although the Wii is selling like hotcakes, I can't say that regular gamers are enjoying it in the long term. After several dozen rounds of bowling...the system's allure seems to taper off. It the end, gamers still benefit, and this console war is fiercer than ever. Viva la gaming, eh?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Square-Enix insists on sucking some Sony Deeyack

According to Kotaku, Square-Enix STILL has no plans on playing connect-the-dots with the 360 and Final Fantasy.

Sony is either real good at blackmail, or they are hung. There really isn't a good reason NOT to capitalize on the 360 fanbase. Japan is just a small country...have they forgotten about the rest of the world?

Monday, June 04, 2007

*sigh* Too busy, yet again

The first problem is that my google reader isn't working (at work). So I'm going to have to find another option since I'm betting that they are blocking it for whatever reason. Even so, I've not had time to figure it out.

It's been complete havoc at work since I returned; the help requests are getting a bit ridiculous. The result is little if any time to even worry about posting here.

I have managed to purchase a PS2 Guitar and a white DS Lite in the last few days. I've been trying to use them, and play the Halo 3 Beta...but things just keep coming up.

In any case, if you are looking for a DS that's homebrew ready (or a homebrew devkit), I'm selling my old DS on ebay. It's been flashed with flashme8, and comes with a GBAMP.

Yet again, it's time for the yearly hiatus. Hopefully it will only be a couple of weeks. I hope to get back on track soon!