Thursday, December 27, 2007

year 2007 almost all done!

so of course.. what did 2007 bring, to the world of videogames? Certainly.. wayyy too much for a gent like me to recall. So here, then, is a smattering of what comes readily to mind. Then, as now..

-This marks the First year I've heavily become a NeoGAF-Addict. So help me. I guess I started last year, but the past 12 are where the addiction really took hold. Mind you.. I registered this past April, STILL waiting to get Jr Member status ('til then. I still can not even make a single reply, let alone a post!)

-I interviewed for a few jobs (Technicolor, Kaos, Obsidian) - also completed a 2nd round of an Art Test for Naughty Dog (Uncharted) - which obviously didn't get me in over there, but I still think it came off rather well.

-Started working for Obsidian this past March, "Project Georgia" --> 'nuff said. Still employed there as of this writing.

-Console Acquisitions - I got a Wii (for my girlfriend - another for my parents, as well!). Personally I acquired a 360 Refurbished, and got into Xbox Live of course. I am a week into ownership of a PS3.. also recently acquired an aged Turbografx-16, and I am still hunting down a CD-Rom that WORKS! Also I finally landed a Test PS2 (plays burns, JPN titles)

-Games - picked up a lot of games this year. What was the most memorable? Uhm.. geez.. A lot of good ones came out, but nothing that really blew me away personally (sigh, I probably had the most fun with "new games" that were in Wii Sports... well that and I guess Rock Band, but does that technically count? I just sing Karaoke on it..) Memorable moments were Hulk 2, Skate, Flipnic Ultimate Pinball, Psychonauts.. umm. I will add to the list when I get home and look at the actual shelf, haha.

-Games I actually enjoyed (oldies as usual) - SMS Choplifter, PCE Columns (oh God it was bad for awhile. I mean GOOD bad). Those were emulated on GBA of course.

-Haha, I picked up the Tabletop Coleco Games from Ebay - Pacman, Galaxian, Frogger. Zaxxon also but rerturned it (the guy sold me a busted one!)

-Sony's PS3 suffered. BADLY. No release yet for Home.. no LittleBigPlanet.. No MGS.. No exclusive for GTA VI, lost it for Devil May Cry 4. It's coming along, but it's limping. Ummm.. Kutaragi gets kicked to the curb (he essentially INVENTED Playstation, PS2, PSP also I guess, and yes the PS3 was his freakiest Frankenstein yet) but I guess someone had to "get to retire" for this Top-Heavy Tragedy.

-Sony did get a release for Ratchet and Clank, likewise Uncharted. Also squeezed out Unreal Tournament 3, or so they say (I've yet to see it). I heard the 1st two didn't sell wonderfully though.. dunno about UT3. The games were cool but not system-buy-worthy (like, say.. Mario Galaxy).

-Sony got a little hurt with Heavenly Sword (not bad), bludgeoned with Lair (what.. what happened?), surprised with a good show for Warhawk (whew!) On that note..

-Warhawk becomes 1st Playstation network full-downloadable game (as opposed to a "Jr level game"). Which it still sort-of is, but it sounds like it's pretty much there. Releases in-store as well with a headset. Gets the Walmart's of the world a little pissed off - sign of things to come, for sure. Um.. watch this space! (Shudder)

-God of War II release party, with dead animals. The press goes mad. Wow.

-Sellouts galore! I mean -- Sony buys Evolution (Motorstorm). Activision Buys Bizarre Creations (Project Gotham Racing). EA buys Bioware and Pandemic (for nearly a BILLION $$$). Activision and Vivendi combine to form Devastator. Meanwhile Halo dev bungie slinks away from Microsoft, strangely (but honorably) - immediately after releasing their latest system-seller.

-E3 comes back as a boring Marketing and Business-event only that no one attends. As gaming gets more and more exciting, buzz falls flat into the middle of the netherword. Thousands mourn. E for All rises to take the place of E3 as a "spiritual successor," but of course no one cares as it's not quite-so-special anymore. Besides, you have to pay. Whatever.

-Neversoft inherits Guitar Hero from previous dev Harmonix and churn out installation number Three. Harmonix powers up with EA and spits out the logical evolution, Rock Band. Both are great, all things considered - I will just say I think Rock Band changed the world a little more and Guitar Hero better pull something fancy out of it's next iteration to continue to be relevant. Or at least, do something dirty and downright mean. Sigh - Clash of the Titans, at this point.

-Madden released again. But it sold poorly, considering that this is one of the most profitable institutions in the history of anything, ever..

-Generally, EA is cleaning up it's rep as a horrible place with horrible games, in it's post EA_Spouse model, by being slightly less horrible to work at with decent (I mean, actually GOOD) games releasing. The Simpsons Game, while not wonderful, is good for what it is (all things considered). I was a naysayer of skate and now I complain it absolutely worthy of purchase, talk about loving your game. MySims, or whatever they call it, for Wii - not for most, but for who it is for, they know what they are doing (if you can make heads or tails of that sentance, I commend you!) I still don't like the Evil Empire, but EA is making some overall elegant moves as the business industry fluctuates drastically around them. At least they look a little less sloppy than Activision. In some ways, sigh, it's all so blurry and pointless now isn't it.

-Jeff Gertsmann (name probably misspelled, my apologies) fired from gamespot after like 11 years 'cause of Kane and Lynch. Yeah, maybe the nail in the coffin, but still that was weird and ugly. Yeah stuff goes on behind the scenes that none of us know about. Hopefully, if the guy isn't a huge jerk or something, this is actually a huge boost in his career in the end. I know so little about this stuff (other than what everyone else can also see) so I will refrain from hypothosizing - all I know is that sometimes, life is not fair and good people get robbed. Here is hoping that the wide audience of this story is useful more than useless - though it can always go either way, I suppose.

-360's red ringing (that is, fatal error) all across Mother Nature. Come ON. I am tired of putting up with horroriffic technology that people tolerate to such a degree. It's only the beginning (but man, this stuff is EXPENSIVE.)

-the Wii. 2 gamecubes duct-taped together, to be sure. With a waggle-wand to boot. And yet - SO HARD TO ACTUALLY BUY, even one year hence. Nintendo, my friends, you have changed the world so many times I have lost count. Who knows what weirdness you will cook up next. So long as it keeps being weird in a cool way, then I say, have at you.

-delays: Spore (um.. it looks gross now? Well, it's been a few years, but it's Will Wright, so who knows) MGS 4 (that panther has a Hot Ass. Oh my!) Devil May Cry 4 (not really exclusive anymore I guess - PS3 coughs a little). GTA IV gets setback (at least) a season. Also M$ pays megabucks for exclusive GTA IV DLC. Does this matter? Sure, in some ways.. I guess. Too Human also fails to appear, with a bit of weird rambling by Silicon Knights (the game's dev) president Denis Dyack popping around here and there to spout off of love of the game and hate of the games press.. or love of the press but hate of the way the press works.. or.. something. oh it was confusing, but at least it was interesting to follow. Anyway the guy has heart, which is encouraging. Oh yeah, don't forget the delay for Wii Smash Bros Brawl!

-Also Dyack started a big crazy lawsuit against Unreal Editor (this gen's industry-wise answer to Renderware - that is, the Next Gen Engine of Choice by most folks, as it made history with Gears of War last year!) developer Epic MegaGames, who have their hands full with tons of craziness all across the world all the time anyway, for reasons you can expect (mostly). Anyway suits and countersuits followed, some people whined, now it's sitting in a big legal mess somewhere up on a big mountain of money and no one really wants to pay attention to it at the moment. Don't worry, it will come back.

-A Shadowrun update came out, I think it was by FASA (who shortly closed thereafter). Shadowrun - big cyberpunky-sorta PG back in 16bit days, though it was sorta low-profile. Anyway some people loved it, some hated it. I couldn't tell ya.

-Oblivion mega-dev's say that they're making the next Fallout. Some people are pissed, but most folks seem to think it's in good hands. Meanwhile Interplay exists somewhere in between this existence and the next, SOMEHOW, and say that there's a Fallout MMO.. or something.. in development. But not really. But they are employing people, technically. Sort of. It's sketchy, right?

-Meanwhile, WOW continues to own people's souls. Yes - their SOULS, man. I mean, Blizzard finally moves into a new campus and hires more crazy people and announces more craziness (a new Starcraft 2 game, shows it off- apparently, very similar to the already-works formula but in THREE DEE). also another non-WOW MMO is coming (Diablo?) Starcraft Ghost still seems dead, but there's another WOW expansion coming (Lich King I think). But whatever. WOW is amazing for what they've done (it's bigger than ANYTHING - and besides, it owns all those souls!) And I still don't care personally, but hey. You've got to recognize.

-Assassin's Creed. Another victim of good pedigree and hot producer, failing to live up to the hype. is this really anyone's fault? It looked good enough to me, but seemed to be the victim of "too little too late." Gorgeous game and interesting ideas, might've stayed in the oven another 6 months. Maybe the sequel will do better.

-Transformers Movie Game. yeah, who cares, but with one of the best possible licenses around, it could have been sooo good. I know, history proves time and again there'll never actually be a REALLY COOL Transformers game, but man.. what a waste. Damn, let ME make the game. I promise it will be fun.

-Rockstar makes headlines with controversy. What a surprise! How unusual, right? Biggest shocker was the Manhunt 2 debacle "tooo violent, we want to label it adults only!" Bah... they crank it down and some kids crack the code for the PSP version anyway, but it's too muddled to deserve any actual Hot Coffee-style lawsuits/hurtful media at that point. Further salt is poured on the wounds when original dev Rockstar Vienna receives NO CREDIT for their work on the game, though the studio's been closed for some time (supposedly it's "an embarrasment") and Rockstar Toronto (I guess) gets all the credit. Though still kinda who cares/whatever, as the game rates miserably. Just another day in the life, I guess. Um.. geez, these guys are attention whores. At least they still manage to get industry-changing games out in spite of this weird confused drivel.

-Huge historic releases across the board, all things considered. Current-gen consoles begin swinging with their first-wave of post-launch titles, in the case of Wii and PS3. Xbox 360 gets it's second-wave of releases (it's got a year on the other two systems). Wii counts sort of half-way between the two, as it is honestly older-hardware coupled with newer design philosophy (motion control, accessibility to nongamers). Generalizing, we have;
Wii: Super Mario Galaxy - huge setup for what many expected to possibly fall flat (following the not-stellar Super Mario Sunshine of Gamecube). Apparently the most-loved-game by everyone in recent memory. Though I have not played it, everywhere it's name is spoken you hear LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. For some reasons, this MIGHT be GOTY, all across the board. Like in a Scorcese kind of way.
Metroid 3 - Motion controlled, I hear lots good about it, expect it to fade with the rest but sounds like "if you liked before, you will still like now" - they keep their franchises well-stocked, what can I say.
Wii Play - I think that released 2007. Not sure! A huge seller, since it packs in a 2nd Wiimote (no nunchuk though). By itself kinda meh, but definitely worth it for obvious reasons and still stupid-fun enough to warrant being mentioned here. I mean, anyway, EVERYONE owns it at this point..
Mario Party 8 - why do I mention this here? Actually it's probably BS, but something about a game with the moniker "Mario Party" showing up within the fist year of the Wii's existence just seems telling. I haven't touched it yet, but I am glad it's there (and what I have seen of it, looked noteworthy). Probably useless if you played the other, um SEVEN MP's, but if you're a Wii newcomer (as many are) this is probably deserving of a spot on your shelf.
Super Mario RPG - I mean.. Super Paper Mario - Uh, hell this game looked cool, and it had a good gimmick, and everyone was clamoring for it. So why did it fall apart? The shots and lead-in still look right-on. Too bad they blew it. Worth a mention as a disappointment, in a big way. Maybe not a bad game, but certainly a waste of a golden opportunity from a place you might not expect. Then again..
XBox 360: Halo - release of the year, whether or not you care (I don't). Years in the making, and it sounds like they fulfilled expectations. Built to last for fun, though I am sure at this point "the party is over."
Bioshock - Destined to become Sleeper of the year, it surprised everyone by being a good time with a cool aesthetic, rating REALLY well, and selling wonderfully to boot. Possibly a bit overrated (I think it won't last, for some reasons) but it did a great job of making a standout name for itself during a ridiculously crowded year, sounds like it was substantial enough to boot. Though, ultimately forgettable, alongside everything else - what can be considered classic, these days? Time (and use/abuse of a franchise) will tell.
Crackdown - low expectations, seemed like a cheesy cop-out "buy this to get Halo 3 beta!"and it actually had some staying power as a fun game, to boot! I expect more good things from these devs. Of course, by the end of the year, it is pretty forgotten as well.
The Darkness - Starbreeze made a huge splash last gen with Xbox Riddick - apparently they suffered the usual sophomore syndrome with this title, then. Not bad, but again, so what? We can't help but expect games like these at this stage, good-but-ultimately-filler.. it's hard to say they are BAD, per se, since they are not, but in the company of the other releases of the days (and with such a powerful pedigree) one would hope for something stronger. We'll see what follows, eh.
Orange Box - yeah, the name, the name. Who cares, sometimes weird stuff works, so dig it! Anyway, no matter how you look at it, if you are a gamer this is the deal of the year for several reasons! Just another excuse to cement valve as one of the most important devs of the day, and with expectations through the roof for their future. Well.. probably. Meanwhile, I am anxious to play Portal at some point.
Mass Effect - Oh. you know. Bioware. Go, Doctors!
Pac-Man Championship Edition: The joke release that had the last laugh on everyone, in reverse (meaning.. it was actually really a good game!) Downloadable of the year, I'd say so.
PS3: Lair - Should have been good. What a mess. The game reviewers guide. julian Egglebrecht, or whatever his name is, with horrible damage control. What should have been at least competent ended up being "a big waste of everyone's time." I haven't played it, strangely I am tempted to rent it - except I know I'd regret it in like 15 seconds after booting. How do people let those things happen in this day and age of multi-million dollar game project investments?
Uncharted and Ratchet and Clank - mentioned above by loved veteran Sony dev's, "it's up to them to save the day!" Well, consider this your next iteration. But so what - it's just another brick in the wall. These games are good, but are they really half a bill good, even together? I won't knock them 'cause they are capable, reviewed well, and people say they are fun and good-looking. But still game like UR MR GAY (super mario galaxy) and UR MR GAY HALO will sweep them, at the end of the day. I am being unfairly harsh, but come on, it's Playstation THREE, it's the Second Coming of the Second Coming. If anything, they can be considered good harbingers of what is to come, but a solid note that things must be stepped up. We will see in 08 if there's the needed follow-up, eh?
God of War II - another amazing game into this kinda late-debuting franchise, but wait - this is a PS2 title, wrong list huh? Okay, well, it's forgotten this late in the year, and bitched about by some, but the fact stands that Sony can blast an unforgettable and powerful franchise out of literally nowhere, just by blasting enough time/money/capable manpower when it wants to. If this released on PS3 this Xmas, with appropriate visuals, no doubt it would have swept Game of the Year for the system and got a lot more resoect for all parties considering. Instead it makes Sony look kind of headstrong and stubborn, while sort of noble in trying to support their gazillion install base. But - blah to nobility, at least this way. We want our next gen sequel - it will come, and it will come properly!
Warhawk - mentioned earlier, for obvious reasons.
Nintendo DS: Okay, it's not Next-gen per se, but it's next-gen handheld (close enough) and honestly the best system if you're a gamer these days so definitely belongs here with it's bretheren. What have we got for the old boy?
Pokemon DS - a summer 2007 release, already completely forgotten by EVERYONE. But it came out at a time when there was nothing to play anywhere, and it was a freakin' Pokemon Baby-game, and all the RPGheads who gave it the time of day made much love to it. And apparently it deserved it. Nintendo could poop these out with relative frequency at this point, and in some ways it does - but they do it in a way that's to their credit, and they make incredible money off it respectfully. Pokemon = not for me, but could have been beyond-shriveled up by now, it's served it's purpose - and still they build it with quality.
Puzzle Quest - I think it started on DS. this particular craze. I am all good for promoting decent Puzzle games in this day and age, it may well be my favorite genre. This sounds like a strange mix of ideas, but kudos for being relevant. Maybe a little sloppy, but all things considered, it's heartening to hear things like this.
Drawn to Life - another "weird" game, definitely a "baby game," like they say, but still honest and interesting in concept. As long as they keep making weird-idea DS games coming that aren't just shoveled out completely, it retains it's pertinence - make the games really good with follow-through, and then it becomes valuable. This might lack in that department, but for noob studios to do stuff like this, they get credit these days, from me.
Contra 4 - Okay, Ping Pals made this. It's CONTRA. Too many frames of animation for me, but this was made by contra lovers FOR contra lovers (esp. after too many years of franchise defecation). Cheers to see that they still have people who care enough to do the RIGHT thing. If it was more eight-bitty then I might go out and actually buy a DS for this, as it is I still kinda should.
Planet Puzzle League - which I think is the name - Tetris Attack remains one of the best, BEST BEST BEST, most-fun games I have ever played in all my years of living, and sad to see I discovered it way too much later than the rest of the world. that they can get a game like this out makes me retardedly happy, even if I am still playing the fossilized version. Hell I logged in too many hours of the B/W Gameboy version recently. This game deserves acclaim - DO it.
Zelda:Phantom Hourglass - they did not need to release another quality Zelda title this year, and time will likely not be too kind to it, (or.. will it?) But that's fine, because no matter what - if you like good games, then it is at your service.
PSP - might as well, right?
Crush - The coolest game no one played. It's a lot of people's fault, and it's a shame.
Ultimate Ghosts and Goblins - not sure but I think was actually a 2006 release. Still I will throw it in 'cause The franchise needs some notice, it used to be alongside Mario for crying out loud. I don't think I heard this game was even too great, but still I want it to be remembered. But man.. fix the name!
Dracula X: Rondo of Blood.. err. Chronicles.. um. I don't know the official name of this game, and I don't care I guess. I would have picked it up had I owned a PSP. I still don't own (or want) a PSP for a variety of reasons. This game is very noteworthy as it's an (admittedly ugly) remake of one of the hardest-to-locate games in the history of popular franchises, somewhere up there with the JPN Super Mario 2 (though in a completely different way). This game gets bonus points for value, with a (gross-looking) 3D remake of the original game, plus the original 2D version in there with the first Metroidvania thrown in for good measure. You can't argue with that logic.
that's my list for now (of noteworthy titles of 2007). Likely to add to it in the future. Anyway I think I have typed enough for one session, pardon the notable absences..

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Whoa, whoa. So much info to dump, so little time. The truth is, between work and life, I have not found time to blog much - and so again we have an apologetically-beginning blog. Such is life, friends. Anyway, there's much to say, and I don't want to spend to much time beating around the bush, so I will try to be clear and concise when possible. Here goes!

Things are alright at work - it's wound pretty far down, as one would imagine, given the time of year. I have been out since last Thursday night (it's Tuesday now) and another week to go until I return, I suppose... Anyway, things over there are moving along at an appreciable pace. It will be interesting to see what is the lay of the land once we get back to business as usual - but in the meantime, it's nice to be out of that element for a breather.

So the fine bosses over at the Big O hooked us up with our choice on next-gen (new-gen? current gen.. um.. y'know) at work for the holiday. Um.. excluding El Senor Wii for obvious reasons. Anyway as I've recently acquired a 360 by my own hand, I signed on for a PS3 - it arrived last Thursday. I got the 80GB system, extra controller (no rumble yet), and a Media Remote - um - whatever you wanna call it. It also comes with Motorstorm (motocross racing game) and of course the free online service. I brought the sucker home and squeezed it into my Uber-Massively Overbloated Media Congolomeration Entertainment Extravaganza Super-Deluxx Especiale System Grapevine Cheeseburger with Extra Cheese and Pickles. For those curious, here's how my home theater debacle looks at the moment (with Pickles):

Test PS2 (plays Japan/Burned games)
Sega Dreamcast
Sega Saturn
Modded Xbox (mame)
Xbox 360
Turbografx-16 (with busted CD-Rom - cards work though)
and my girlfriend's Wii is hooked up there as well. "What no NES?" I am pretty satisfied how the DC handles NES actually. Also I have a Sega Genesis boxed up in the closet as well, I suppose it will come out at some point. Not that there's really any room left for it.. So, yeah, it's a pretty crowded, potential firehazard I have set up there. What else is new.

Anyway, back to PS3. Since I am a relative n00b to the whole online console experience, and having recently got my feet wet with Xbox Live, it's very interesting to see what they've cooked up over at the PS3 camp - and granted it's a year in for them as well, so I know it must be hugely improved over the likely-lacking experience that must have previously been the case. Anyway, all tings considered, Playstation Network looks and runs fairly well. It's going for a more straightforward, adult look (that is, neutral colors, less "friendly") than Live. Also a litle less "user friendly," as Live will always prompt you to "go there" when you need to go to a different area to install something, run a completed download, perform a test, etc. It's a little niggling, but certainly things like that are the grease that makes the whole thing less of a pain to navigate. You can hop online fairly easily, and though it's a little clunky (for a moment), the browser-on-TV actually does work fairly well. I am sure you can plug a standard issue keyboard/mouse into the USB ports of the system and go right to town with it - I don't think I will get much use of it in the long run (why would I, when a PC is right beside it?) but it's nice to have.. also if you are gonna watch something on Youtube or whatever, I suppose.

As for online content, it looks fairly similar to how Live is setup, what with the demos and downloadable games and all of that. Live still kills it all over the place in this regard, between how it's setup, navigability, and just overall legibility.. but it's usable, and it is getting there. Just very sloppy still. You can tell they want to ripoff Live without being terribly direct about it, anyway. It's nice to think that they have downloadable PS1 titles on there (not that I have yet perused, really) and it's worth mentioning that I have not seen any "movie download service" akin to Live's, yet. Whichever of the two consoles figures that out, for REAL, will be a big contender for me. Also worth mentioning, is the Playstation "Wallet" system - you link up your credit card, etc. to deal with downloading non-demo titles at the store. I like this over anyting else (N or M$) in that instead of the Points BS, you're dealing with everything as actual for-real US Dollars, up front. No confusion or "perceived value.." that certainly endears me to them quite a bit. For whatever that is worth.

What have I downloaded? As usual, I try to load up my HD with demos of anything remotely interesting. DLing on my DSL account is slow as hell (???) but I set it up to go all night, then head out for the evening, so no matter (hey I have got other stuff to do, alright!) Here's a quick rundown, just to cover the bases:


Uncharted:Drake's Fortune (demo) - big xmas Naughty Dog exclusive for the system, and one of the most anticipated. I was trying to get a position working on this, actually - Anyway, we got the disc in at the office a few weeks ago, watching them play the early parts left me kind of uninterested. Regardless I DL'd the demo (I knew it was showing off a different section of the game) and liked it much, much better (to the point where I'd like to bring it home and give it a few spins). Very lush, very gorgeous - fun to tool around with, and the shooting action (for what it is worth) was enjoyable enough. Raised my interest quite a bit. Beautiful graphics - shows of PS3's power!

Insomniac's Ratchet and Clank Future : Tools of Destruction (demo). I've never been an RC player (I do have the 1st one, of which I have played maybe 10 minutes' worth) but I can appreciate what they have done with this title. It's looking GOOOOood. They are really pushing some geo and textures here, and it all flows smoothly, perfectly - it's not quite a real "living city" for real quite yet, but you get the feeling that there's always a lot of hectic excitement going on all over the place - it feels pretty intense. Play-wise, this thing is stuck in the dark ages, though. I don't need to jump and hack pointlessly anymore. Platformers can be fun, but this play style does not suit me, it feels so tired and done-over-and-over that I don't care HOW good it looks, it I doesn't inspire me to invest time or money. But I know this is a very successful franchise, it would be sort of risky to change all of that just for my sake. Well, maybe I will take home the office copy if I get bored.

Heavenly Sword (demo) - another anticipated title, I am not too terribly sure how well it was received - lukewarm perhaps, certainly not bad. I was expecting God of War smoothness, not that I am too adept with that game, this one just felt a little clunkier. It gave you some very satisfying action-killing-closeups, maybe if there was a little less constant-bombardment from the same enemies coming from everywhere to vary things up a bit, it would be more enticing. Just a demo of course - as usual, lush/perfect graphics, though a little chuttery on the framerate (and a little of the nonsense Quicktime events which I strongly detest). This game looks nice, the hero and action "feel right," and I am inclined to investigate more - could be some satisfying hack-n-slash. Nothing I would investigate if there was more on the shelf though.

Everyday Shooter - the first thing I loaded up on my PS3, before ANYTHING else (including the pack-in). I have been rather interested in this title, after hearing a bit about it's genesis. Yeah, a stylish (in a way) one-man-show, and for all intents and purposes it's just a freakin' Flash game, but it is fun and I like that they are promoting stuff like this. This is where gaming needs to go, in my opinion. I love REZ, and I want to see more like-minded stuff (ripoffs not so much, but inspired-by is certainly the way to go). For crying out loud, tis makes me want to buy Fantavision, there I said it...! Anyway I had to straight-up buy this thing right away.

Ridge Racer (yawn!), Formula One something-or-other (yuck.. yuck!), a couple of other games that I don't recall. I haven't played them all yet. The Rub-a-Dub game (Flicky crossed with controller gimmick) felt thin at first but has grown on me, I might throw 10 bones at it. Toy Home is a Toy-Story feeling racer, it's got motion-controlled steering. VERY Japanese-kiddy, my girlfriend likes it so we scooped it up. I was unhappy to learn that there's not a straight "race battle" mode in there, but for what it is, it's not bad for $10. Pixeljunk racers sounded cool, but felt uckkk awful (this is a game.. really?)

Otherwise, I played with Motorstorm a little bit. After working on a similar-styled game some years back, I can appreciate the fun in such a game. It's not drawing me back too terribly, but as it's the only on-disc PS3 title I have got currently, I want to spend a few minutes with it. It DOES LOOK nice, I will say, and the prospect of eventually running a big rig through the bud sounds fun. I was a fan of the early ATV PS2 games back in the day (long on looks, but they sufficed - and the handling was so perfectly satisfying!) Honestly if they made a proper, arcadey-follow up to those games, I'd sign right up. I investigated MTX vs ATV on 360 (recent demo) and though it had some relation (also, it looked pretty nice), that spot-on feeling was just ripped away. You've lost that lovin' feelin'.

I guess that nearly wraps up my original PS3 impressions. The interface is not too bad, just keep ripping off Live and it'll be better I say. The system runs relatively quiet as HELL, which I love. I have yet to investigate Blu-ray (don't really care, and as I have a CRT, does it matter so much?) Someday perhaps I will upgrade to HDTV but that's a ways off, and not something that's a priority for me. I have yet to try the backwards compatibility, but I would happily remove my PS2 from my game shelf in order to clear up some clutter/danger. I will check that out later (in my mind I will still say PS2 is the most comprehensive system to beat, out there.. for the time being). So in essence - PS3 - nice to have, future games will be interesting, glad I got it as a gift. Would not buy, for now or for a lonnng time.

Over in Other-video-game-system land, I have been neglecting my recently-re-acquired 360 what with the new gadgets to play with. I intend to get through Bioshock however, and I would like to pick up Orange Box (I wanna play Portal). And just generally mess around with demos as I see fit. As for games I would actually buy, skate seems fun (I will wait till it goes down in price!) and maybe Amped 3 if I can find it cheap. As mentioned earlier, I DL'd the Frontlines demo (THQ/Kaos) and did manage to play through it. It is getting some scratchy reception on the message boards, I must say it's a nice experience though. Looks and plays well - I hope it does well for them! I can see why people complain, they want it to be exactly like the other games they love - which it isn't. There's a lot of love in there, I hope they fleshed it out properly. We'll see soon enough. Otherwise, Rock Band dominates - still! You can't touch this game, man. I know it sounds cheesy and cliche, but these guys really rule the world. It's the perfect mesh of man, music, and game, party game at that. I hope to see them take it further and make it more fun - hell! I wanna play this game at bars with strangers, I know it would just be a blast! Even my non-gamer girlfriend is getting into it. Who would have thunk - someone out there can make games with the priority of just causing people to feel good, and have a good time. I have half a mind to pick it up myself, but geez - I think I have spent enough $$$ this season.

In Wii-ville, it's business as usual. Pretty much all that gets played around here is Wii Play and Wii Sports - and they are still fun! We've had it set up nearly a month, mind you - and not all the game hold up - but tennis, bowling -- great for unwinding. I got into boxing as well. It's just fun with a bunch of people, again "great for nongamers" of course. The ultimate test will be in a couple of days, to see if my parents can actually get into it (I got them one for the holidays, I may have mentioned it in here - they haven't played any games since, oh, pacman and centipede...haha). I got some games for my girlfriend for the holidays as well, Wario Ware Smooth Moves and Cooking Mama Cookoff (you would not believe how difficult it was to find a game called Cooking Mama!) We only checked out the former so far, but I must say it's done as well as I could have hoped - those guys are nuts! Intelligent Systems has to be one of the better devs out there, for real - I love wacky, weird, abstract stuff that makes you scratch your head and say "wha?" If the game doesn't fall short then I will say it's worth the money. Check back with that in a few days - anyway it's nice to see someone take the Wiimote at face value and make stupid simple little minigames out of it. I hope the multiplayer translates properly, it could be another rocking party game.

Whew! So there's what has got to be one of my longer entries, in a while - I had a lot of lost time to make up for, so slobby pseudo-journalism is what will result. I haven't really even touched on politics this time, or end-of-year wrap-up stuff.. maybe later.

Monday, December 17, 2007

party on, wayne!

So, last Thursday evening was the Pandemic Holiday party at the Natural History Museum in LA. Like so many other hangers-on in the gaming industry, I crashed it once again (actually I legitamitely got my name on the guest list this time, which was not too hard to do as they'd opened the party up to the industry at large.. to a point, anyway). Exhausted from an already wild night the preceding Tuesday, I wentured out into the chill of the evening and dragged myself out to enjoy some free drinks and catch up with my ol' pals. I have to say, the night started off kind of rough but a few drinks in (and a few hours to dilute the crowd, some) and my mood lightened considerably - it was a fun time! Not quite the "blast" their last party (that I'd attended anyway, in 2005) was - still it was very satisfying and I was sad it wrapped up so quickly. Here's some random bald guy dancing while I am merrily stomping away in the background:

(too bad I didn't get more appropriate pictures - what'd'ya want)

Our own Xmas party looms this Wednesday night, I suspect it will not be quite so ridiculous.. but that's fine (I have partied a bit lately, I can take a breather).

This brings me to today's topic, camraderie in the games industry. I suspect I have written about it before here, if not certainly elsewhere - yes, though there is (of course) much competition between companies in the game industry, and I guess between job applicants, it's generally a very friendly place. Especially on my end (artists and designers), we typically seem to get along quite well with one another, and respect one another's positions. Sure, there's times when you might wanna wring a particular co-worker's neck (we're only human, right?) but generally I get the sense that in many studios there's a strong notion of team and togetherness, overall - we are working together on this production, and the majority of us strive to put our best efforts (and sometimes, our latest nights) to task in order to make one another proud - to keep up our ends and match the work of those toiling alongside us.

Likewise, when we pick up a competing studio's game, we look at it as something deserving of respect (when that is the case) - as opposed to just "we must crush them, all comers, for all that they are worth.. we will hear the lamentations of their women," and so forth. Generally, game developers are honestly the biggest game-fan geeks you're likely to meet, I would say. And I would say this is the case even in the situation of a competing title in the same genre, usually. The bosses may not be so likely to second that, but as far as we grunts go --grunt--. At any rate we can pick up a title and appreciate it from a particular point of view, as far as what kind of work has gone into it, the little bells and whistles, etc.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Frontlines Demo is out

So yesterday Frontlines (demo) was released on Xbox live. Eager to see this as I nearly took a job working for these guys, last March (decided to stay in LA instead). It' s been downloading all evening to my machine (yup, I got my Xbox replaced - FINALLY!) but I guess I'll have to wait until tomorow to finally check it out, it's going s-l-o-w. Also in the queue is Burnout Paradise, which will be interesting to see..

Tonight will be the Pandemic company Xmas party in Los Angeles, this should be a night of madness to be (somewhat) remembered. I went two years ago to their house of blues party, which was rather crazy - this one should top it, easily! The Crystal Method will be performing, and I suspect the booze will be free once again - Supposedly they are anticipating over 2000 guests - I have an RSVP, but geez...

I received Donkey Kong:Jungle Beat in the mail the other day, cool game! This is the one you operate with bongos - man, my hands HURT after playing that thing! Cool idea though! I need ot get a memory card, and then I will play thru it some more. Wario Ware twisted also arrived, I put it in for a moment - weird as ever, but that's good. Also, I am sad, the TurboGrafx CD Player I bought seems irrepairably busted - what a waste! Time to scour eBay some more, then (probably better to wait after Xmas, though). I plugged the unit into my TV and at least got the HuCards to run, it looked GOOD to see that running on the big screen once again - properly - after all these years!

Monday, December 10, 2007

wii did it

Yup, so last weekend was my girlfriend's birthday, she was asking me endlessly for Wii "I want wii, i want wii!!" -- of course, I broke down and succumbed, sigh. I got her the system with an extra controller (with wii play) and the extra nunchuk controller as well (as most know, it comes with a single remote and nunchuk - but this system is designed to be enjoyed by two, at least). I must admit i have not previously played wii at all, except for perhaps an evening about year ago at a friend's place. Not too terribly impressed with it at the time, but i could appreciate what it was good for either way. Anyway, we opened it up last night and played thru the two game collections - I have to say, it is definitely impressive! Long on looks, but satisfying enough for what they are trying to do, this is definitely a system that is friendly to non-gamers. My girlfriend has little to no interest in games, but she definitely has been getting addicted to the wii ones. She begrudgingly picked up golf and couldn't put it down, for a couple of hours! She and her friends were yelling and screaming as they were competing with one another - I guess it was a good idea, eh? I guess i will pick up a party game like Mario Party or Smooth Moves or something for her, next..

Weirder, I bought the same setup for my PARENTS for te holiday. My parents who've not played any kind of video games since the early 80s, they would play pac-man and centipede with me when I was a little kid. They have NO interest in videogames, whatsoever (well, my dad will try to pick up Pac-man now and again, my mother bought him a little TV Plug-in unit a year ago). So this will be the ultimate test to see if all the wii marketing is for real! Actually, I wouldn't have laid out the money if i thought it would be a waste of time, i do think they'd get a kick out of it (at least the bowling and stuff like that). I'll have to twist their arms to get started with it - we'll see how it goes.

Not much game news on my end, I guess. Another week of working hard, and waiting for my 360 to get replaced. The store I bought it from has a replacement policy, but at this rate I should probably send it to M$ and deal with them. Sigh.. pain in the ass!! At the end of the week, I may be the owner of a PS3, if not the week afterwards.. Otherwise, not playing much - just Gameboy B/W version of Tetris Attack, the puzzle mode. Thinking man's game.. "clear the level in 2 or 3 moves," sounds boring but it's well-put together and endlessly captivating. I have stared at it for a long time.. it makes me feel really stupid though. If I don't get on too late with writing this blog, I will likely refresh my Micro with some new games (at last!) It's been like 2 years since I have done that, and I still don't "need" to.. I stand by what I have said before, if all my other systems had to go, so long as I could hold onto my Micro then it would not be awful (I will be sad the day the special battery dies, though!!!)

Ebay-wise, I ordered Donkey Kong:Jungle beat for Gamecube (play it on the wii), it is a platformer that you control with bongos (!). I guess it was made by the same team that made Super Mario Galaxy (though, a couple of years earlier). It's got a lot of praise, and with the bongos it was pretty cheap - I look forward to firing up this particularly weird sounding game! I also ordered a copy of Wario Ware twsited for GBA (the one you have to twist the GBA around with - obviously). I enjoyed the very first Wario Ware GBA game, and this one is supposed to be the "best" one. Note that I borrowed the same from a friend, about a year ago - I had it for maybe six months, never even touched it even one time! But hey. I love weird, off-the-path games like that, and I was able to find it for about 10 bones.. why not.

I have Space Raiders and Mega Man:Network Transmission sitting in my cabinet, I was hoping to finally get some mileage out of them on the wii - no such luck, i need a non-wii-remote to play them apparently! I will have to dig one up, somewhere.. No hurry.

Recently I mentioned that I have acquired a TG-16, I brought it home but as it's lacking a proper controller, it sits waitin in abox. I found a direct-sales company that will let some new controllers go relatively cheap (cheaper than used versions on ebay!) so i will get one shortly. I have a CD unit with it as well, which I still have to check to see if it works !! I have been leeching old PCE ISOs off the net in anticipation, and found a guy who is selling a system upgrade card (to play Dracula X). Yeah, so nerdy, but it's cool - I always wanted one of these! I will be sort of surprised if it all loads, of course.

Work-wise, not much I can say (as usual). Lots of interesting times going on over at Obsidian, our Xmas party is a week away. Late this week will be the Pandemic party, which I'll likely show up at (along with abut a trillion other drunken marauding folks). Yeah, good to schmooze, esp. since no E3 this year, boo! I went to a Pandemic party 2 years ago, it was a wild mess - I expect this one will be along those lines, we will see. A bunch of late nights behind me from last week, hopefully the load will be a little easier in this coming one. Technical times too, might I add.

Alright! It is late. i wanna mess with GBA before passing out. Until next time..

Sunday, December 2, 2007

for crying out loud

yeah, well, isn't htis technically one of the Four Signs of the Apocalypse? Wait, I forgot.. the world actually ended sometime in the mid-eighties. I think when Knight Rider got signed for a fourth season or something. Most would say it was the seventies, but in all honesty I do believe it coasting on fumes for a good several years. Good for them!

No, but really, this is madness. Well, not really. This is just.. self-fulfillment of prophecies, really. The entire industry is slowly turning into a High School Statistics class equation, from here on out. Put all the big (and mid-) leaguers into an array and squish them through the sausage machine. If P then Q, if not P then not Q. If A and B buy C then D will merge with E while F gets extremely white-trash rich. And that, my friends, is why I work in the videogame industry, as well. Usually when I wanna write a reactionary post to something as bamboozling as this, I get all rambly and postulate-y. But at this point I am getting tired, as the fantastic becomes normal - I will wait and read about it on the forums along with everybody else.

Though I must admit, it does hit rather close to home in some ways. Consider this - I used to work at Swingin' Ape, when it was a tiny dev (@15 people?) which was down-the-road acquired by Blizzard and turned into Blizzard Console (Starcraft Ghost, version 2.0.. roughly). After my departure from SA (a brief tenure, mind-you) I got an art test from Tha Blizz while WOW was in production - they sent me a Tree to make ("oh whee, here's a tree"). I had just departed from OC, having sworn never to set foot on it's wretched soil again, and as I'd just settled on trying for work with either Treyarch or Left Field, the Blizzard tree was left out.. in the cold (you see what I did there?) A couple years down the road, I had left Left (working for Activision, Actually) and another year later I was makin' skatey games at Neversoft. Gun was wrapping up, and Tony Hawk 7 was in full swing - Neversoft's glory days as "Activision's Golden Dev" were pretty done, but they were still pretty popular as those things go. A couple of years at NS and then outta there too, and six months hence - guess what? I am working at Obsidian in OC, just a couple miles up the street from Nobody Beats the Blizz (clearly.) In fact my girlfriend, last year, lived on the same camps in which they were stationed (I heard they just moved this weekend). Point being, I work in OC, which is videogame-wise steeped in Blizzard's shadow. Everybody here plays that game. Dudes here have worked there, some have left this place for that one. Why haven't I tried to get back there? Oh. I have my reasons. More than ever, I resist the great conglomeration, but I know that my days, too, are numbered, the way things are going. Not necessarily working at the newly-crowned AB, but at some place which'll get snapped up again by some big-ass megacorporation. Anyway, best not to think about how much money my alternate-universe doppelganger is belly-flopping into, because it's no all about the money anyway (though stability and respect, those are other issues altogether). I guess many people are excited about these things, well.. so many are nervous and anxious about what it all means. Me, I get a chilly feeling "it is all too soon, it goes too fast.." I try to keep tabs on as much as I can, in my tiny speck-like state in this all - as ever, I wonder where I will end up and if when the time comes (if I've not fallen overboard) whether I will be happy or unhappy to get sucked up by whatever overbloated monolith. Yeah don't forget, I have had checks signed by Activision before. Hell even Vivendi, a couple of times.. right now, technically, it's Sega.. but it's always a different degree, what is all means.