Friday, December 22, 2006

Ikea Speaker Stands and Virtual Quandary


I’ve preached the importance of making sure your speakers are at the right height, but couldn’t follow-up in my own set up due to a combination of having to use existing furniture, the high cost of speaker stands, and the trouble of mounting on an apartment wall without damaging anything.

I stumbled on these Gaje speaker stands at Ikea the other day and they have made an immense impact in my audio enjoyment. It feels like I have new speakers actually. They are only $25 a pair and have these sticky holders if there are no proper screws on the bottom of your speakers. I really can’t recommend them enough if your speakers aren’t too large to fit on them.

Virtua Fighter 5 Xbox 360
Wow. I saw the news yesterday morning. The funny thing is, the day before that I was talking with someone about how VF5 and Ninja Gaiden Sigma would be enough to justify a PS3 purchase. Now that it’s down to Sigma, I’m not so sure.

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On one hand, I do believe VF5 on the PS3 will hold at least a slight graphical edge over the 360 version (call it the HDMI difference for those that can see it). On the other hand, I already have a nice arcade stick for the 360 and getting achievement points for the months I will spend playing this game would be nice. Plus, it sounds like there will be no domestic PS3 arcade stick released, forcing me to import the nice, but pricey Japanese Virtua Stick.

$500-600 for a PS3 plus $100+ for an arcade stick, or wait 5-6 months for the 360 version. Practicality versus impatient love for VF5 are on a collision course!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dragon Quest IX to sells zillions


That the next official installment of DQ is moving from a home console to a portable is an extremely significant event. I don’t think it’s ever happened to a series of this stature, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time, for me that is. There is no way I will ever have time to play DQ VIII on PS2, but DQ IX on the DS is another matter. It’s relatively easy to squeeze in time with the quick booting DS, plus the graphic look established in VIII can be achieved to an acceptable degree on the portable system.

There is plenty of differing opinions on this, mostly by the vocal community of RPG fans who would rather have seen the series move to the PS3 or even continue on the PS2. I’m as big of a graphics whore as anyone out there, but there are some experiences I must have on the couch and HDTV, and others that are more accessible on a portable. Take Blue Dragon as an example. It looks pretty sweet from what I’ve seen, but will I ever play it on my 360? Highly, highly doubtful.

I know what you’re about to say, “How come you had time to sink 40 hours into Okami and potentially 70+ into Twilight Princess?” That depends on the way a game keeps my attention. I did wish Okami was a little shorter at times, but I loved playing it and the ending was a great. It was a well-thought out journey that never bored me. I expect Twilight Princess to be the same.

In any case, the installed base of the DS, especially in Japan, is going to send DQ sales through the roof. I bet they charge a lot for the game too. Can you say "the first $60 DS game"?

Yakuza
Lately, I’ve been getting the craving to pick up Yakuza. It was high on my list for most of the year, but videos containing the US voices really turned me off. I think that disappointment has died down for the most part and I’m ready to accept it and enjoy the game. There’s also a part of me that wants to import the Japanese game and its sequel for the purer experience. The problem is my import PS2 is on the fritz and my alternate plan of picking up a Japanese PS3 (as a means to play imported PS2, PS3, Region 2 DVD and Blu-ray) is at least two years away.

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Plus, even if it’s late, I want to support Sega for bringing out the game here. I really believe the game had the potential to be a big hit in the US, but it seems the game didn’t have the marketing budget to lure in the general audience. I mean, why go through the trouble of hiring Hollywood voice actors if you aren’t going to court the masses?

I would have loved to see how a web-sales only, limited edition featuring the original Japanese VO with English subtitles would have sold. I would have even paid a premium $59.99 for that version. Oh well.

Maybe they’ll do that for part two if they decide to take a chance on that release. Here’s a free idea Sega, set up a pre-order page for Yakuza 2 Special Edition featuring Japanese voice and English subtitles. Also included is Yakuza 1 with Japanese voice and English subtitles for $79.99. That would be one killer set, especially since the first game will see price drops to the $30/20 level soon, if it already hasn’t happened.

Cool things like that rarely happen though, and having been a lifelong Sega fanboy, I’m used to being let down by them time after time.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Namco recently announced they will release an arcade port of Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection for download on PS3. I love this idea for three reasons:

1) The Tekken 6 PS3 gameplay snippet from E3 earlier this year was underwhelming to say the least. Especially compared to how incredible Virtua Fighter 5 looked. Releasing DR buys Namco more time to keep working on Tekken 6.

2) I really wanted to buy DR for the PSP. Tekken 5 for PS2 is my second favorite Tekken ever (part 2 still holds the top spot for sentimental reasons), so I was very tempted even though the additions didn’t add up to much. I think the hit in graphics and the clunkiness of playing a fighting game on the PSP held me back. Now DR will look as good as it can and on a system I can hook an arcade stick to.

3) DR for download potentially opens the door for 1080p Soul Calibur 3. That rumored 360 version didn’t materialize (or was that an April Fool’s joke?), so having that game achieve it’s full potential visually would be nice. Having spent so much time with SC II on the Xbox, I was deeply disappointed by the visuals for 3 on PS2. The broken gameplay didn’t help either, but I could have stuck with it longer if it looked better. Yes, such are the whims of a graphics whore.

Aside from that, just trying to finish Gears on hardcore and play some Rainbow Six online (it’s not as popular among my friends as I had thought). I’ll be able to borrow a PS3 here and there, so maybe I’ll finish Resistance before Xmas. During the holidays is when I’ll embark on my Twilight Princess campaign. I’ve been waiting until I can concentrate fully on that game before starting, and that time is nearing.

I’ve seen the comparison between the 360 and PS3 versions of Ridge Racer that make it look about the same, if not better on the 360. On my TV, the game looks much better on the PS3. Maybe it’s the 1080p that’s making it look ultra sharp? Whenever I eventually buy my own PS3 (probably next Xmas), I’ll grab Ridge Racer 7 for my library.

NBA 07 looks and plays much better than I would have imagined, but it’s really no match for NBA 2K7.

I applied the 1080 update to my 360, but it’s not like I will see any real difference until games that support it get released. I definitely decided the HD-DVD add-on was not for me. The selection of HD-DVD titles is what sealed it for me. There is maybe one movie out of the currently available bunch worth buying. Even on Blu-ray there aren’t more than a handful I want, mainly because these are first run editions. Hardly any special features and over-priced. Plus, many sport mastering that is drawing mediocre reviews from the home theater crowd. Better HD authoring and “real” special editions are still one to two years away most likely.

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Instead, I opted for the Oppo DV-981HD upconverting player. It was just released this week and already drawing rave reviews. The previous models were big hits, but I’m excited about this new one since it now upconverts to 1080p (perhaps I should change the name of the blog to 1080p Ninja).

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Turkey Weekend

Despite having a Wii, my 360 is getting the most love. I’ve been switching between Gears of War, DOAX2, and Rainbow Six Vegas. It’s also because I’m saving Twilight Princess until I have a good chunk of time to devote solely to it.

Wii Sports is a ton of fun. It’s definitely best in short bursts, but I would love a variety of titles like Wii Sports that I could select from depending on my mood. Other than that, I’m not too tempted by the other Wii titles out right now. Wario Ware is probably my next purchase and perhaps Wii Play if it comes out here soon.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Nintendo Wii Component Cables!


I jumped as soon as I could when I heard that the Nintendo online store had a few thousand Nintendo Wii component cables for sale earlier this week. I resisted paying the extra $10 for overnight shipping, content with 2-day even if it meant I would get the cables a day after I got my Wii.

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Thankfully, I still got the cables this morning. I saw some pics of the component cable boxes online, but my order came in a plain plastic bag.

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Kind of dissapointing at first, but I would have chucked the box later anyway.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

OPM memories


The sad news came out yesterday that the January 2007 issue of the Official US PlayStation magazine will be its last. It’s very sad when something you had a part in goes away and even sadder knowing people personally who were directly effected.

This should have been a much happier time for the mag having celebrated its 100th issue earlier this year and the launch of the PS3 this Friday.

Good luck to everyone there. I totally know what you’re going through right now, and my heart goes out to you.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Twilight Princess = 70+ Hours


I thought Okami was a long game at 35 hours, but the new Zelda is reportedly a whopping 70+ hours. Sounds like I won’t need to add anymore Wii games to my shopping list till next year. Considering how sidetracked I get with any game that features a fishing mini-game, my hour total might be closer to 100 hours. Thank goodness the holidays are going to allow me some quality game time.

Downloaded the Rainbow Six Vegas demo the other night and it’s pretty much everything I was hoping for. It looks great and has the feeling of Rainbow Six 3 on the Xbox, but with just enough new GRAW-like tweaks to make it all nice.

I was thinking I would play Vegas mostly until DOAX2 came out, but it looks like that will ship on time, arriving the on the same day as R6. Team Ninja games usually suffer a delay or two, but the news that DOAX2 has gone gold is awesome.

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There’s lots of excitement about Guitar Hero II coming out this week. It’s almost enough to make me crack and get the PS2 version instead of holding out for the 360 release (no clue when that’ll come out). Luckily, Elite Beat Agents will be the only music-related game I need for a while. I’m so psyched to play it. I sampled it a little here in the office, but I want to wait to play through my own copy.

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Speaking of releases this week, the other game I’ll check out is Gears of War. The reviews are just bananas. I mean, it’s getting 9s and 10s all over the place.

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I was thinking of sneaking in another new game this past weekend, but decided to try and finish off Killer 7. I’m maybe 1 or 2 hours away from that goal. I have absolutely no clue how it’ll end and that’s the way I like it. I might have to play through it again in one sitting at a later date to better absorb the deliciously bizarre story.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Holiday 2006 Final List


My earlier “Buy” list has been greatly paired down. From the titles that have already been released, I picked up NBA 2K7, Okami, and Cooking Mama. All are awesome in their own way.

From the remaining upcoming games, the following are in the “for sure” column:

Nov
Elite Beat Agents - DS
Rainbow Six Vegas – Xbox 360
Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 – Xbox 360
Wii console w/ Wii Sports
Twilight Princess – Wii
Metal Slug Anthology – Wii

Dec
Metal Gear Portable Ops – PSP (pre-ordered to get the cool case)
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Bubble Games
These three are probably getting purchased, but are on the bubble:

Gears of War – I’m still very much on the fence on this. I will be looking at reviews closely as well as checking it out in the office.

Splinter Cell Double Agent – After devoting so much time to Okami, I kind of need a slight breather, so I haven’t picked this up yet. Then I find out the Xbox version has a ton more content and story than the 360 version. WTF?! Now I don’t know what to do. I kind of want to play through Okami again actually.

Super Monkeyball Banana Blitz – I’m actually fairly certain I’ll pick this up.
Out of all the other Wii launch games, this one speaks to me the most, but I’ve been known to change my mind quite a bit so it’s in this section for now.
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Long Shots
Like the title says, these will be hard to squeeze in.

Final Fantasy XII – This is oh so very tempting. I could certainly go for an epic story, but 60+ hours is going to be hard to squeeze in before Wii launch week.

Bully – I was not that interested in this game, but the word-of-mouth post release has got me excited.

Xmas Presents or 2007
I’m in no hurry to get the following, so I’ll wait to see if I get any of them for Christmas or whenever I’m in the mood for them.

Every Extend Extra - PSP
Gunpey – PSP/DS
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Loco Roco - PSP
Capcom Classics Reloaded - PSP
Gitaroo Man Lives - PSP
Castlevania Portrait of Ruin - DS
Final Fantasy III - DS
Yakuza – PS2
Rule of Rose – PS2
Oblivion – 360 or PS3

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Okami baby


I had no idea Okami would take like 30-40 hours. I’m getting close to the 15 hour mark, but probably not that close to being halfway. It’s hard to know for sure without spoiling things by looking at a guide. I keep getting distracted by exploration, fishing, you name it. It’s just such a gorgeous world that I want to really enjoy it and not rush so much.

I finished Shadow of the Colossus right before this, so you could say I’m scratching my arty game itch. It’s also nice to get so much mileage out of the current generation. These last two years has been amazing in terms of software for the PS2. It’s really too bad the games are getting overshadowed by the next gen hype.

Up next is either Final Fantasy XII for PS2 or Splinter Cell Double Agent for 360. I’m really going back and forth on whether to try to fit in a RPG. Whatever happens, I need to be done before the week of November 14th. From that week on, I figure to be playing a mixture of Rainbow Six Vegas, Dead or Alive Xtreme 2, and various Wii games well into the New Year.

Actually, Metal Gear Portable Ops for the PSP comes out early December. Snake Eater is my favorite Metal Gear of all time, so this sequel to that storyline has got me jazzed. My PSP will finally get some extended play time! If you haven’t gotten around to playing Snake Eater, get to it. Once you get a groove for how the stealth system works in the jungle, it gets so damn good. I know, I know, it can be annoying at first, but please stick with it. One of the most rewarding game experiences and memorable characters of recent memory hands down.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Wiixperience



10/12/06
Thur morning - I get an email from EB/Gamestop that Wii pre-orders happen tomorrow. First come, first served, same as PS3. Quantities extremely limited. Message boards are already buzzing over how many each store will get. Some stores as little as 8 units, others as much as 32.

Thur afternoon – I momentarily forget about things since work is very busy right now. I have to get a lot done if I’m going to be late to work tomorrow.

Thur night – I finally get around to calling the three closest EBs near my house. Since the system gets released Sun, these are way closer than the ones near my office. The first two stores were getting 32. The third didn’t want to give exact numbers. Jerk.

10/13/06
Fri morning 7:45AM – I decide I can’t bring myself to line up longer than an hour before 10AM, which is when the stores open. I do a quick scan of some boards and see that most places had lots of people lined up already. I get a little nervous. I quickly decide that I can wait 1 hour and a half then. Even if I rush out the door I couldn’t get out any earlier.

Fri 8:50AM – I reach Gamestop and there are at least 25 people in line. This location has 32. If any of these dudes are saving places for their buddies, I’m screwed. Without getting out of the car, I decide to go to the nearest EB.

Fri 8:55AM – Ahhhh sweet, sweet success! Only five people in line. This store has at least 30, so it’s all good. Over the next 15 minutes, four more people arrive and we’re all chatting and having a good time. Everyone is here to buy the system for themselves, no eBayers.

Fri 9:15AM – Tons more people start arriving so we form a proper line.

Fri 9:45AM - There has to be over 20 people. I can’t really tell from where I am.

Fri 9:55AM – The doors are open just a tad early. As the first couple people are waiting near the register, the excitement is really making everyone giddy. The amount of jokes increases. Mind you the jokes aren't very good, they are made funnier only because everyone is in a good mood. Material like "thank god Happy Feet is a launch title!" or "where is Sudoku Master for Wii?!". You get the picture.

A warm glow surrounds people. I can see other people staring in from the outside. The farthest I can see from inside the store I guess is customer #25. He looks a little nervous. It's almost a desperate look. I wonder if he knows there are at least 30 available (minus 2 each store is allowed to set aside for employees).


Fri 10:10AM – My Wii is pre-ordered! I got an extra Wii remote, nunchuck, classic controller, and Zelda. I was really debating with myself whether to get the classic controller since I can just use my Gamecube controllers, but it’s only $20 and one of the launch games I want is Metal Slug.

At this point, I’m pretty sure I’ll get Metal Slug Anthology, Super Monkeyball, and Excite Truck. Still on the fence about Red Steel and Rayman. I should probably space out the game purchases anyway. It’s not like I can play ten games at once. Especially since there are 360, DS, PS2, and PSP games I want around the same time.

There are supposed to be 1 million Wiis available at launch and 3 million more by Christmas. I’m sure it won’t be extremely hard to get, but you never know. 4 million is more than enough for the initial batch of early gamer adopters. Then again, if the general public catch the Wii fever in the same manner they’ve fallen YET AGAIN for Tickle Me Elmo Super duper version this holiday, well, 4 million isn’t even close to enough.

This is the one console I’ve been wanting super bad, so I feel very at ease now that one is reserved.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Resisting PlayStation 3


As soon as the PS3 price was announced back in May, I knew there was no way I would get one at launch. $600 was just too much. More importantly, the launch games didn’t do anything for me. Would I like to play Ridge Racer 7 and Resistance? Yeah…eventually.

There are games scheduled for next year that I will desperately want like Virtua Fighter 5, Ninja Gaiden Sigma, MGS 4, Final Fantasy, and White Knight Story. I figured next holiday is probably the right time.

You know what though? The PS3 will not be much cheaper by then. Even if it’s $100 less, I’m still not sure it’s worth it. I can’t believe it, but I may actually wait till 2008 for PS3.

Let me tell you, this is a big deal for me. Ever since the release of the NES, I’ve purchased game consoles within 3 months of launch, usually launch day. There are some exceptions. I waited a year and a half before getting an Atari 2600 (that was out of my control though since I was very young), I waited until Mario Kart was released before buying a SNES (that was because I used to be a staunch Sega fanboy), and I didn’t get a Turbografx until it was near the end of its life (I bought the TurboDuo model because I needed to play Dracula X). Others, I never remotely wanted like the Jaguar or 3DO.

Even as I type this, news that PS3 pre-orders might happen soon have started to make me sweat. Should I try to get one anyway? I would never buy one to re-sell (I think it creates bad game karma), so this would be for my personal gaming enjoyment. Hmmm, let’s see. Looks like Oblivion is a launch title now. I never got around to buying the 360 version and this one is supposedly a little nicer. NBA 2K7 also sports some upgrades. Um…what else. Oh, by the time Virtua Fighter 5 and Ninja Gaiden come out in the spring, the PS3 still might be impossible to find, so there’s some logic in picking one up if one has the chance now.

Ummm…naw. I can’t do it. I’ll tell you one thing I’ll purchase right away, a Virtua Fighter 5 arcade stick. I’m so glad I bought the Dead or Alive 4 stick when it first came out, because it is impossible to find now at a decent price. It goes for nearly $100 at auctions these days.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Fuji-Q and Games


Getting caught back up after returning from a trip to Japan.

I finally got to check out Fuji-Q Highland, which is sort of like Great America or Six Flags. It is home to three world famous roller coasters and sits at the foot of Mount Fuji. There are plenty of other attractions too like a Hamtaro themed area and other rides. It’s not huge though, but big enough to keep you busy.

These chicken katsu nuggets in the shape of Mount Fuji were intensely delicious.
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This is the archway to the Thomas the Tank Engine area of the park. It gave me this creepy, Silent Hill vibe so I had to take this photo.
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One of the places I got to stay was a traditional hot springs bath hotel. Check out this snazzy tatami room adjacent to the regular living room area where dinner was later served.
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Games
I started Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones for the GameBoy on the plane ride to Japan and got about halfway by the time I got back to American soil. I still need to replay the previous game due to an error in leveling up the main characters. Yup, they just can’t survive the last stage. I didn’t make that mistake with Sacred Stones though. My core characters are ridiculous and my secondary people aren’t too shabby either thanks to the many side area level up opportunities.

After I complete both games, I’ll be ready to tackle the GameCube Path of Radiance. Seeing the footage of the next Fire Emblem game for the Wii has got me motivated. Still, I would rather see more of the installment continue on the DS. Snazzier sprite graphics ala the upgrade Advance Wars saw in its journey from GBA to DS would be lovely.

While we’re sort of talking GameCube, there are several other games on the shelf I want to get back to soon. I made it halfway through Killer 7 and RE: Code Veronica. Wouldn’t take much to polish those off. I picked up some Pikmin merchandise in Japan, which got me itching to play Pikmin 2. During the Toys R Us closures, I snagged a Baten Kaitos for $2. I don’t think I’ll ever have time to play such a lengthy RPG, but at least I don’t feel guilty for letting $2 sit on the shelf. The sequel, or actually prequel, comes out in another month or so I think.

I bought Cooking Mama last week although watching the footage of the upcoming Wii version made me consider waiting for the console version. Ah well, you can never have enough Cooking Mama. I did end up passing on Mario Hoops. I figured out the game I really want is Mario Strikers and transferred that desire to Hoops. Why? Because Strikers is still $50 and Hoops is $30. You’d think with a follow up for the Wii announced, the price on the older one would drop a little.

The 2006 Tokyo Game Show doesn’t officially begin until later tonight, but so far there are plenty of interesting info nuggets. I’m really hoping some encouraging PS3 news emerges because the outlook seems to get bleaker by the week.

Movies
I don’t normally watch horror movies, but Silent Hill is in a different category for me. It was just “ok”. Maybe folks who aren’t as familiar with the creatures from the series would be more freaked out. The creature effects are really great though, and the music by Akira Yamaoka is outstanding.

I was in the mood for some Star Wars, so I finally took out Episode III from its packaging. There were plenty of stuff that bothered me about it in the theater, but the good outweighed the bad and entertainment was had. This DVD viewing was another matter. I outright hate the movie now. Without a doubt the only cool moment from the newer trilogy is the fight with Darth Maul. Even that was tainted by his demise. Agh. I’m just done. Done I say.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The all non-gaming post


Let’s cleanse our gaming palette a bit and look at other items on the menu today:

MANGA
Dark Horse just released another series from Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, the legendary duo behind the Lone Wolf and Cub manga. Path of the Assasin follows the story of Hattori Hanzo, a young ninja who serves an equally young lord Tokugawa Ieyasu. It’s quite different from Lone Wolf and Samurai Exectioner, but still great in it’s own way. Of course you need to start with the Lone Wolf series if you haven’t read any of the above though.

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The Samurai Exectioner series ended recently with volume 10. It came before Lone Wolf and it shows in both good and bad ways. It’s more visceral at times (good), but also meanders more (bad). They really dialed it in once they started Lone Wolf though.

Eagerly awaiting book 11 of Negima. They stretch out the story sooooo much, but I’m already hooked. Volume 1 of the anime just got released here. Not interested in it at this time.
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I’m a big frank Cho fan, but waited on getting his Shanna the She-Devil series until it got collected into one book. The hard cover is out now (which I finally picked up) and the soft cover comes out in November. The man is just a fantastic artist although the series feels overly censored at times. Still worth grabbing.
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Another of my all-time favorites is Tsukasa Bullet. He just released his new doujinshi of sketches of random personal comics at the recent Summer Comiket 2006 in Japan.
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I had no idea they were releasing domestic translated versions of ROBOT. It’s basically a high-end collection of short comics by the top manga artists around. I’ve only read the first two, but it’s fantastic stuff. There are five in Japan so far, three total released here.

BOOKS
Finally got around to reading Moneyball. It’s interesting how much controversy the book has sparked, but it’s absolutely essential reading if you remotely enjoy the game of baseball. You will never view a game the same again.
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A little bit before that, I finished In Cold Blood. I saw the movie starring Philip Seymour Hoffman first. Fantastic movie, fantastic book. Both different since the flick focuses a little more on the author.
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With all that “reality” reading, I think the next book will be in the fantasy realm. Sean gave me the first volumes from The Wheel of Time series (10 books and counting) and A Song of Fire and Ice series (Game of Thrones, four books currently, maybe o 7 and 8). I usually like to read a series once it has finished since it’s so easy to forget what happened last. I do have a few completed sci-fi series, but not sure I want a futuristic tale right now.

TV
Once again, ESPN’s coverage of the World Series of Poker is first rate entertainment. It’s interesting the way they are presenting it this year, leading off with a ton more circuit events and straight into the main event. I haven’t checked the schedule, so not sure if they are going to play any of the other matches, like the one where Phil Hellmuth won his 10th bracelet. One of the earlier circuit events had my man Scotty Nguyen at the final table. I really wanted him to win, but at least he got some dough for his troubles. The event where Daniel Negraneu won officially made me a fan of this guy. I didn’t like him that much before, but ESPN wisely spread out their coverage to let viewers witness the nuances of his chatty game.

I’m glad Project Runway is getting the media attention it deserves. By far the best “reality” show out there.

Still watching Big Brother All-Stars. I hate this show, but also can’t stop watching and talking about it.

MOVIES
Haven’t been to the theater much lately, but I will be first in line for Nightmare Before Christmas 3D. How awesome is the poster? Way awesome.
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HD/DVD
I’m starting to think maybe I won’t get a Blu-ray or HD-DVD player this fall. Why not sit out the initial growing pains and jump in when things are settled (and cheaper)? I got hipped to this sweet upconverting Oppo DVD player. Similar players have been around for a long time, but most have been buggy and the quality has been less than satisfying. This one seems different. There is just no way I am re-buying most of the DVDs I own, so a top flight upconverting option is a must.
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Sure, HD-DVD and Blu-ray players on the market now and in the future have this feature built-in, but how good is it? At $200, the Oppo player costs the same as the rumored price point for the HD-DVD attachment for the 360. If I were a betting man, I would say the attachment will have poor to average upconversion. Not that I’m in some terrible hurry to blow $200. I may wait out all DVD options until next year at this rate.

District B13
It was impossible to find this in theaters during its brief domestic run, but it’s out on DVD in a week or two. Select clips are everywhere if you’re curious. I’m psyched.
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EVENTS
Last, but not least, I took in a company sponsored Giants game. It was the afternoon game against the Diamondbacks with Schmidt on the mound. Really great game with a clutch hit by my man Alfonso. I went to last year’s company game and the Giants won then too. Rad.
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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Why so many games?


In the midst of whipping up a list of games to look for during an upcoming Japan trip, it occurred to me to do some soul searching on whether I need them at all. I have less time to game these days, so I have to be more selective of game purchases. The choices will be tough just amongst the abundant domestic holiday offerings without complicating things with import software. That lead to listing out exactly what is on the radar.

The first list was way massive. After pairing it down to titles most likely to get purchased, it was still way too large. The sick part is that Wii stuff isn’t even in the mix yet. Thank goodness I’m not tempted by the PS3…yet. I don’t even want to think about all the games that are already out that I still want.

The funny thing is I thought I was becoming more of a casual gamer over the years. I do devote more time to read a ton of books, playing sports, etc. I guess the urge for gaming in my life is still pretty deep rooted. What has changed is my tolerance for certain games have become much lower. I no longer have to beat a game no matter what. When the challenge outstripped the fun in recent titles like Perfect Dark Zero, GRAW, and Prey, I just stopped playing them.

Perhaps if I talk it out, some sort of further weeding out can get done. I’ll start with the import titles:

IMPORT

PS2
King of Fighters XI – The consensus among gamers who still enjoy the sprite-based series is a big thumbs up. A huge cast, good fighting system, and upgraded Atomiswave board graphics. A domestic release is highly unlikely. As a long time fan that loves sprites, I’m very tempted.
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Samurai Spirits Tenkaichi – Not as universally loved as KOF XI, but mostly the same MO except the graphics aren’t as spruced up. If it can be had for a good price I might do it, but it otherwise I can pass.

GBA
Rhythm Tengoku (Heaven) – Music game from some of the Warioware folks. I’m going to check it out in the office before committing though.
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Bit Generations series – These simple games have super snazzy packaging, a budget price (although still kinda high for what they are), and are mostly addictive goodness. Again, I’ll have to try them out before getting excited.

US RELEASES

Xbox 360
NBA 2K7 – 9/25 – I liked last year’s version and this year is way better. My play time with the E3 version was lovely. Have to keep this on the list.

Splinter Cell: Double Agent – 10/16 – Chaos Theory finally made me a fan of the Splinter Cell games, so I’m really looking forward to this one. The question is whether the online bits will warrant this title as a long term must own, or just a week long thrill ride. Leaning towards the latter.

Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 – 11/1 – This is a no brainer. I spent over 80 hours on the last one and I’m just retarded for the franchise in general. It’s ridiculous.

Gears of War - 11/7 – The multi-player has me more intrigued than the single player, but the jury is still sort of out. I might be able to skip this one till post holidays because…

Rainbow Six Vegas – 11/7 - …as much as I’m excited for the potential that is Gears of War, I am a rabid fan of Rainbow Six. The offline campaigns are always fun and multi-player rocks ultra hard. Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Star Trek Legacy – 11/7 – Yes, I’m a fan of Trek and totally psyched that all the previous Captains will be voicing their characters for the game. Guess I can wait on this till I know more.

PS2
Yakuza – 9/1 – Gah, I’m not crazy about the US voice dubbing, but I’m glad it’s coming out here. I may just buy the import. Hmmm…

King of Fighters 2006 – 9/4 – I was entertained by the previous 3D version and this one has a ton more to offer. Fighting system seems like it’s still broken though. $39.99 price sure makes this tempting.

Okami – 9/5 – Instant buy. Seriously. This is the type of game I want to see more of.
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Rule of Rose – 9/12 – I hate scary movies, but love scary games. Go figure. Rose looks very creepy although I’ve heard it has its share of control problems. Seems like another rental candidate although I’d like to support the decision to release the game here with a purchase.
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Final Fantasy XII – 10/31 – I like the character designs, the battle system looks cool, and I feel like I can squeeze one RPG in this year. I can always track this down next year I guess. Ha, next year. That means never I think.

Guitar Hero II - 11/1 – I skipped the first one, but that’s because I had access to borrow it whenever I wanted. I think I need to own this next one. It’ll depend on the tracks though.

DS
Mario Hoops 3-on-3 – 9/11 – Played around with the import version and loved it. Must get.

Cooking Mama – 9/12 – How can you not buy a game called Cooking Mama? Plus it’s only $20.
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Contact – 9/19 – I actually don’t know much other than it looks quirky and it’s some sort of graphic adventure or something. Sounds exactly like the type of game I like in my DS library.

Mario vs Donkey Kong 2 – 9/25 – The original was super dope and was the perfect puzzler to pop in at any given time. Must get.

SNK vs Capcom Card Fighters – 10/2 – I liked the Neo Geo pocket version, but so far the screens I’ve seen show little of the personality of that title. Keeping on eye on this one just in case.

Touch Detective – 10/10 – Same reasons as Contact, and “detective” gaming gets a plus one with me. The character designs look nutty too.
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Final Fantasy III – 11/1 – 3D remake of a classic FF game? I’m 70% in for sure. The reviews will decide it for me.

Elite Beat Agents – 11/6 – YES, YES, YES. Easily my most anticipated game of this holiday outside of Wii launch titles. Great music game that has new content that differs from Ouendan. The two “stories” I played at E3 were damn good. Funny, and at times, a little emotional. I’m so glad US audiences will have a chance to enjoy it.
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Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin – 11/21 – There’s no rush for me to immediately play it, but it would be wise to snatch it up judging by the frequent “sold out” status of the Dawn of Sorrow.

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 – 12/1 – Same genre as Touch Detective, but much grittier looking. Maybe someone can revive JB Harold Murder Club too?
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PSP
Loco Roco – 9/5 – Has some blobby things, is sort of a puzzler, and is loved by lovers of interesting games. In.

Capcom Classics Reloaded – 10/24 – The first classics collection for PSP is beyond great. I will gladly take more.

Metal Slug Anthology – 11/1 – I’m undecided if I want this collection for PSP or Wii. I think I would play it more on the go though.
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Every Extend Extra – 11/7 – Looks like Missile Command on acid set to groovy tunes. I’m pretty sure I’ll get it.

Sega Genesis Collection – 11/7 –Shinobi III is the height of the series, I’d really like to play Shadow Dancer again, and it’s just mind blowing to have access to Phantasy Star II, III, and IV on one disc. Where is Streets of Rage and Revenge of Shinobi? Probably in Collection 2.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Inside Man


Inside Man came out on DVD yesterday. I really, really enjoyed it in theaters and want to watch it again. Special features include a commentary by Spike Lee, a featurette, and lots of deleted scenes. Hmmm, not sure if I actually want to buy it now. Oh the slippery slope of waiting for the HD version.

If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. One of the best heist movies in recent memory.

Friday, August 04, 2006

360 Action


Ended up installing Winter Assault on my PC the other night. I had to run it in the low settings to get rid of the choppiness. Not good. Now I’m not so sure Company of Heroes will get purchased. Sorta on the bright side, FEAR for the 360 is said to run as good as a super high end PC. I held out on playing it since it just ran ok on my rig.

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I downloaded Street Fighter II last night and have 14 wins and 14 losses. Maybe two matches had slight lag, but overall it played great.

On a technical level, I was impressed by the Saint’s Row demo, but just couldn’t get into it. I can wait till GTA4 comes out. The Ninety-Nine Nights demo on the other hand confirmed what I already knew – I must have this game. The Dead Rising demo is out today, so I’ll have to check that out too. Hurray for marketplace!