Thursday, February 28, 2008

iPhones + Old DS = BAND

Monday, February 25, 2008

Lost Odyssey: the JRPG we've been waiting for

I see many mentions in reviews of how Lost Odyssey doesn't offer anything new to RPG gameplay. For the most part, this is true, but I wasn't ware that JRPG fans were desperate for change anytime soon.

I will say that so far, the battle system on FFXII was far more interesting. But the stories involved in LO put the sleep-inducing FFXII storyline to shame. While the dream sequences may turn players off due to being text-only, I find it the most appropriate fit for what they are trying to convey. For the impatient, none of these sequences are required. But the short stories are well put together for the most part, and had me reacting the same as I would do a beautiful cut-scene.

The opening scene is worth watching a few times. Mistwalker did a stupendous job with it.

I'm strolling through the game right now, and I'm quite happy with it. It easily makes up for the drudgery that was Enchanted Arms and Blue Dragon. Hopefully LO will get a decent fanbase enabling Mistwalker to polish up their next adventure and expand into unfamiliar territory. In the meantime, I'll happily plug along at this latest offering.

I will do an official review once I complete the game.

Labels: ,

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Rented my first XBL movie

I'm going to admit right now, unless it's ALIENS or ALIENS related, I'm not really a movie fan. But that doesn't stop me from watching the occasional flick.

To date, I've refused to wait for the download and to pay money for a movie rental that's a mere 24 hours once activated. For the money, I'd think 72 hours would be a bit more fair, matching rental stores. On the other hand, my friend tells me that pay-per-view is similar in price but offers only half the time. Interesting.

I figure Batman Begins would be a good trial run, since I wanted to see it, but had little faith in a non-Keaton version. Clooney and Kilmer were awful in my opinion, and even Batman Returns was a bit lame. But Batman has always been a favorite of mine since the comic book "Batman vs Predator".

For Batman Begins, it was $3 for SD and $4.50 for HD. Since Blu-ray isn't exactly the most amazing thing to me, I figured I'd save download time and money and just stick with SD. I started the download, and went out for some errands.

I have no idea how long the download took, but I was ready to go after I got home a couple hours later.

For being compressed and the "lowly" 480p, the movie looked great. It was better quality than a lot of downloaded films I've seen, and the 1.5GB size was impressive. The movie itself was better than expected, although it misses the magic of the original movie. For a film that I expected to be a one-viewing deal for me, the whole experience was near-perfect.

My suggestion for these films in the future: the price is right, but extend the duration of the rental. 14 days means nothing if only 24 hours of it is usable. Keep the 14 day time frame for use but extend the viewing period to 72 hours. Then I won't feel like my lack-of-trip to the video store is in vain.

Labels: , ,

Not time to buy Blu-ray yet says it may not be time to buy Blu-ray yet.

In short:

Prices are still too high
Prices will go down in time
Featuresets haven't propagated throughout hardware yet
Most users are happy with DVD (and upscaled DVD)

For those who want to watch HD movies:

Try Blockbuster or Netflix.

That sounds about right to me. However, I disagree that Blu-ray is always "night and day" when compared to DVD. I'll happily compare DVD and Blu-ray on my 1080p television. There is a difference, but it's only really noticeable in scenes with little movement. During action...the High Def matters little, or if you are further than 20 feet away from the TV.

No rush, but if you want HD movies now, grab a PS3. It's your best bet.

Labels: , ,

Lessons learned from HD-DVD death

RoughlyDrafted Magazine has a severely biased article against Microsoft that does what most anti-MS types do: blame MS for everything wrong in the industry. The article has valid points, but is annoying repetitive with some claims.

Anyway, a semi-counter point was made by me in's coverage of the story:

Open-office is a usable product, unless you want workhorse with multiple sheets and functions along with VBA/scripting support. Macs are nice and Apple makes some great servers, but the software library is limited and end-user hardware prices are outrageous. Linux is a great open source product, but there are so many distributions of it that it can get convoluted; not to mention it is far from user-friendly. Oracle on Unix is definitely a performer, but the maintenance/administration is extremely high; SQL is just as capable nowadays and I see more and more 3rd party vendors moving to it. Why? Because it's a hell of a lot more functional to administer than Oracle. And I'm an Oracle guy!

It's easy to say, "Microsoft is bad, such and such is viable replacement," but they aren't going to understand the core of business.

Sure, Java is usable and open source. Linux is open source. But they come at the cost of training and productivity. Using the alternatives take more time and add a plethora of administrative headache. .NET blows Java out of the water as far as productivity goes. Microsoft knows IT. They know developers. They are extremely innovative in that arena.

End-users will not see past the 360 and the Zune, which Microsoft doesn't have the background in like they do with IT. They are treading carefully, but know they have to be appealing. What's benefiting Microsoft in 360-land is that they provide their top-tier development tools to developers, increasing their productivity. Nintendo and Sony can't hold a candle to those tools, regardless of what a few specialized developers out there say.

Yes, RROD was bad. But so was DRE on the PS2. None of these companies are innocent. If Apple took over, they would just be the new Microsoft; their business practice isn't any better. Same with the companies that are behind Blu-ray. Microsoft just shows what happens when a business gets too large. But any of these companies would love the opportunity to steal Microsoft's shoes.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Why Blu-ray's victory doesn't matter to the consumer

A cnet blogger recently insisted that Microsoft has no choice but to release a Blu-ray attachment for the 360. Another commenter pointed out the "non-war" status, and that this whole media hubbub about this HD format war is ridiculous in the long run. I'm not convinced of digital downloads myself, but I agree that the HD disc war isn't as important as the media would have us believe.

Here is my comment:

What people are missing is that electronics history doesn't repeat itself in the same way as everything else. Sure, there was another format war, but the meaning of this war doesn't have the impact of the VHS/Betamax war. The rate of technology change is accelerating, not keeping at a steady speed.

The Mass Consumer already has a video player in the house. The Mass Consumer doesn't have an HDTV, and has been plenty happy with cheap regular DVD. Neither Blu-ray or HD-DVD offers a major convenience to the consumer. VHS offered the convenience of cheap home recording (replaced with DVRs), and DVD offered a crisp picture with no rewinding in a smaller form factor.

These HD discs are the same physical size. They add no convenience whatsoever, yet they cost 2-4 times as much as a DVD, which can be upscaled with decent results. They may offer more "features", but most consumers just want to watch the movie. Only fans of individual flicks will want to delve into commentaries and the likes.

Even with this "victory", the gains will be nowhere near the gains of the past. The demand isn't there yet, and it may take too long for Blu-ray to gain ground before a format with more convenience shows up.

Convenience is key. Above I mentioned why VHS and DVD were successful. Why were MP3 players/iPods successful? Smaller, less parts, held more. Why are the poor-resolution videos on youtube so popular? Lots of content in a single place. Once again, neither HD-DVD or Blu-ray offers obvious convenience.

Looking back, maybe both companies attacked this whole thing wrong. Since Blu-ray could hold so much more data, maybe they should have spared us the unnecessary content but reduced the physical size. HD-DVD could have stood for "High Density" DVD at first, with the ability to hold 5+ DVD movies on a single disc. They could have eased the consumer to High Definition if their players became successful. While either may sound preposterous, at least they show how convenience could have been added to these formats.

For now, we have the "decided" technology available and it's time to see if it can catch the mainstream. The next few years will tell if us media regurgitators were entranced by possibly a meaningless war.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Wireless is a bad choice of connectivity

I've said this before, but new information validates my opinion.

Wireless runs a form of half-duplex. What this means is that it can send or receive data, but not both at the same time. In the case of wireless however, both can be done at the same time, if your peak bandwidth is reduced.

Example: Using 802.11b, you can get 11Mbps. To get "full duplex" you'd have to send at 5.5Mbps and receive at 5.5Mps.

Other problems involve varying connection speeds (not a problem for wired), and shared connections that hurt performance more than wired. This means that the more users connect to your wireless network the more it hurts performance. Some tweaks can be done to your wireless router to help these issues, but the duplex problem will still be present.

Remember that your connection via wired can be up to 100Mbps on the 360 and 1000Mbps on the PS3 (if your router supports this speed). Both are in Full Duplex. The best you can get with wireless is currently 54Mpbs with the possibility of pseudo-full-duplex. Don't forget wireless is more likely to be susceptible to interference problems. Not to mention it is less secure since home users don't know how to set it up. Turn on your laptop and see how many networks you can connect to in your neighborhood. It's disturbing.

Your connection to your ISP will still matter, but don't forget that the hardware in your home is part of your connection. Imagine if you were to get host in an online game, and you're using wireless.

So do yourself and others a favor; keep your wireless gaming to handhelds.

Source: "802.11 Wireless Networking Resource Guide"

Halo SHOULD have more blood. And Explicit Language. =)

ALIENS: Colonial Marines to be covered by GI

I caught wind that an ALIENS was coming, but we've not heard much about it.

Kotaku reveals the titles of the upcoming game and that GI will have the coverage in its next issue. Sure, Red Faction 3 and GoW: Chains of Olympus will be in there as well, but I certainly don't care.

With my nerd-hat officially on, I can say that ALIENS: Colonial Marines was a 10 issue comic book series (cut down from 12). Unfortunately, I haven't pulled my comic books out in almost a decade so I don't recall the story. According to that link, this is a revival of a canned game from 2001.

And with no regret, I will say that I'm dropping all other games as soon as this game is released. The ALIENS world has yet to be capitalized on properly since the wonder-FPS AVP2.

Lost Odyssey isn't traditional for Xbox gamers

Joystiq's metareviews are great for peeking into multiple opinions within a short blogpost. One thing I've seen be to the distaste of reviewers is that Lost Odyssey seems "traditional" or fashioned amongst "old-school". While I don't agree with the SNES-era mechanics (try more PS1), it's easy to see how LO came about through prior Final Fantasy creators.

One thing these reviewers forget is that not all Xbox gamers are seasoned RPG gamers. In that sense, traditional means nothing. Xbox gamers had Fable, Phantasy Star Online, and Knights of the Old Republic. None of those are hardly standard. LO is a welcome addition to the Xbox line, and it is a starting point of better RPGs to come.

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 15, 2008

Mitsubishi quickly replaces HDTV Lamp

I admit, I was disappointed that the lamp died in my DLP in just short of a year. Luckily for me, I keep receipts to everything with the user manuals.

As instructed, I went to their website and processed their online warranty form. I scanned my receipt and sent it in. The confirmation had me believing it would be next week before I would have use of my main television again.

However, after 3 days it arrived and my television is back up and running. All I have to do is return the original bulb with the prepaid label and everything's clear. Hopefully I get a couple years out of this bulb.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ninja Gaiden DS looks....good!

Impressive...looks better than about every single DS game I've played.

Drumshhh Rock Band Pads Reviewed

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lost Odyssey: Better than they'd have you believe

Unfortunately, I'm overloaded with projects right now, but I had to make a few quick comments.

My room mate is playing Lost Odyssey right now. The negative aspects that websites have been pointing out don't seem to exist so far. One place (can't remember) was complaining of 20 second loading sequences per battle. More like 3-5, which we've become acustomed to from FF. The music? The victory song doesn't sound anything like the FF one. The graphics? We're stuck on 1080i right now (the bulb burned out on my DLP), but that's not a biggie. It looks solid.

The gameplay is a bit more classic, but I wouldn't compare it to SNES-era. PS1/PS2 era FF seems a bit more accurate. Yes, it seems standard fare, but not standard fare from a decade and a half ago.

The game is progressing quite well, so I'm beginning to think the reviewers were desperate to pick the game apart. It blows Blue Dragon away, that's for sure. We'll see if my opinion stays taut as he moves through the game.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Halo Music Video Hell

New to me....and so sickly amusing...

Found the HD-DVD Superbowl Commercial

I, like others, was wondering where the hell the HD-DVD "comeback commercial" was during the superbowl. Honestly, I couldn't possibly care less about American Football; give me some Ultimate Fighting.

But nothing. I checked the myspace superbowl commerical page. Still nothing. Did they give up early?

Apparently not...but the run-of-the-mill commercial was not broadcast nationally it seems. Here it is, in all its disappointing anti-glory:

Although the characters in this clip were poorly picked, it makes its point. I'd think of Sony as more Nazi-ish than Toshiba. By a long shot. But the damage is done. RIP HD-DVD.

Monday, February 11, 2008

PS3: Lost Planet Demo buggy; removed from PSN

That's a great pic. Well, it looks like the PS3 demo of Lost Planet has been pulled from PSN due to bugs. No, not the heat-having creatures in the game, but rather enjoyment-hampering programatic ones. Playstation, strikes again!

I don't know...I kind of wanted to try it out on the PS3 to compare it with the 360 version...but Lost Planet is so...last year. :)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

PS3 versions still cause delays

Joystiq's recent article on Turok's devs blaming delays on the PS3 has me being reflective. Let's take a look at PS3 games that are or were delayed or caused a delay in other versions:

Turok: 3 Month Delay (uses Unreal 3)
GTA4: Several months
Stranglehold: 3 week (uses Unreal 3)
Blacksite Area 51: ? (uses Unreal 3)
Frontlines: Fuel of War - unknown
Medal of Honor Airborne: 3 months
Half Life - Orange Box: 1 month?
Alone in the Dark: Unknown
Tom Clancy Rainbow 6 Vegas: 1.5 months

That was a rough list...I'm sure there are others. The PS3 just seems to be a thorn in the side of development it seems.

Going Back to Halo 2

After last night, I have an understanding of the elitist Halo 1 players. I dug back through the site to find "Reasons that Halo can't possibly be better than Halo 2".

It really is a matter of comfort level. Demo and I were discussing how Halo 3 seems to play so much slower than Halo 2. After popping H2 in and waiting an eternity to download all the maps again, we found that it was true. MC moves much faster in Halo 2...and every movement seems critical. Halo 3 has lost some intensity, although the game itself is much more fair in the battlefield than its predecessor. Any lag can be crippling, and even slightly missing one shot is the end of your life.

Overall, I can honestly say that H3 is the better game. But to get the heart pumping again...I gotta get that H2 fix once in a while. :)

More 360s on the carpet...

I'm surprised she's still hanging around with you and that ghetto wired 360 controller.
(from CollegeHumor)

Here we have yet another example...where the point had nothing to do with overheating Xbox 360s. Sure, you could gawk at this girl, but I'm here to *ahem* point out that the 360 is suffocating on the carpet.

DMC4 Demo: "Noobified" Ninja Gaiden/God of War

Yup...a jackass demon hunter guy with bad puns and a bad attitude. Devil May Cry is back. The gameplay is rather simple; two triggers and one bumper aren't utilized.

Sword Attack/Gun Attack/Jump/Demon Power/Lock on. That almost says everything necessary about the gameplay: boring. This is somewhat made up for with some great-looking cut-scenes and beautiful environments.

After experiencing Ninja Gaiden and God of War, DMC's desperate antics aren't much to get excited about. Unless of course those games were too difficult; then DMC is your game. Although worth mentioning is the resident DMC player in the house isn't interested in this one based off the demo.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Child-men should put down the controllers?

A look at the past isn't always a mirror-look at the future.

This seems to disturb Kay Hymowitz over at With much disdain, she tries to sorely point out that twenty-somethings aren't rushing into marriage and life.

A less irritating and more reasonable article on the concept is over at

Today's post-teens are not like the post-teens of yesteryear. Social pressure on marriage is down. Lifespans are longer. We have an overbearing information source known as the Internet. The combination of these things leave a different level of perception on everything in daily life.

If someone is interested in something such as marriage...they can easily read thousands of articles about in on the internet (and catch the negative statistics). If they want to see about how to invest, or buy a house...they can gather information quickly.

Worth quoting from the above link:

So if you are a reasonably well-educated person with a decent income, come from an intact family and are religious, and marry after age twentyfive without having a baby first, your chances of divorce are very low indeed.

Parents and their past mid-life crises should only be thankful. What Hymowitz is missing is that this "delay" is reducing regret later in life. Mid-life crises are heaps of regret from not experiencing enough freedom and making life-long decisions too early. We've seen divorces and what it does to everyone involved.

I personally see the "delay" as a positive way to evolve, under the premise that pre-middle-aged aren't really frothing video game zombies that don't leave the house. That is the picture that Hymowitz painted, and it is far from accurate. There's more life and more information available in today's world, and I see it as humans learning to take advantage of it. The middle-aged person will ready themselves as needed as opposed to conforming to the previous socially pressured and uneducated life-schedule.

1UP done with numbers scores; going letters

Apparently 1UP is going to revamp their scoring system. Even old reviews will be updated to reflect the new scores of A+ through F. We've seen this scoring system when it came to console performance, but I'm surprised we haven't seen it much for games themselves.

Not to toot my own horn, but I still like having no sponsor ties. Then I can rank according to what people really value: Money.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Cleanup: Resistance 2 screenshots

Curiosity got me here. It looks like the graphical fidelity has been stepped up for the sequel to the PS3's supposed top game.

Honestly, I was severely disappointed by Resistance. I started caring around the time when I began to figure that all the PS3's features would probably be awesome. Well, I was wrong about everything for that time. Resistance was a great shooter compared to things that have been in Playstation's past, but it hardly competed with other games.

Hopefully this time around the multiplayer won't be so drab and cemetery-like. And I'd honestly like the game to be a bit shorter; it just dragged on too long the first time.

"Just a game?" Why 360's overheat

Be a bad person, and laugh at this video.

The point of this post, is people wonder why their 360's overheat. Look at where the 360 is placed in this video...directly on the carpet.