Tuesday, January 31, 2006

End o’ January mega round up


The first month of the new year is already at a close. Lots to talk about.

I ended up ordering the PSP Media Manager. Five bucks off, no tax, and free shipping were too good to pass up. I played around with it for like 10 minutes. It seems really cool so far. Very nice interface. Can’t wait to convert some videos.

I got my Elektroplankton the other day. Love it. I knew what I was in for though. Very experimental, quirky, and not much of an actual game. This is the type of “experiment” that makes me really appreciate the DS. Even so, I wish it didn’t cost as much as a “normal” game and it desperately needs some sort of built-in save music feature. The instruction manual is super cool too.

Hilary is convinced that certain copies of DOA4 will render 360s useless. Not even removing the hard drive will restore it. Apparently it’s happened to him and two other people in the office. I haven’t heard anything similar out there on the interweb, but who knows. Might be worth looking into.

I was thinking the other day, “What the heck is Ghost in the Shell creator Masamune Shirow up to these days?” There are tons of fan sites out there, but the Masamune Shirow Hyperpage does a great job of tracking all the latest developments in blog format. He looks to have a very busy year. Exciting.

I’ve read some jaw dropping headlines before, but this one is…wow.

I can’t get these songs out of my head. You won’t regret watching it.

Went to the Warriors game this past Saturday. The tix (really good seats too) were part of the Christmas present from my wife and it totally rocks that they won! I was a bit worried since they had dropped their last four, and three of those were crushing 4th quarter collapses. Plus the Trailblazers won the night before. The bright side was the loss to the Lakers the night prior saw the emergence of rookie Monta Ellis, who again got tons of play time against the Blazers. The Warriors “veterans” are a young group as it is, but the next generation is already looking solid. The recent losses have caused some to call for the firing of coach Mike Montogomery, but that would be a mistake. The man knows how to mold young talent.

Some pretty good releases heading our way in the next two months. A self indulgent look at the titles that excite me the most starts….now:

February

PSP
Winning Eleven 9 – World Cup fever hasn’t quite got me yet. I might wait on this till things start heating up.

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Exit – I love the look of this game. Waiting for more info.

DS
Resident Evil: Deadly Silence – I’m not that crazy about playing the same game for like the 50th time, but some of the touch screen stuff looks pretty cool. Hmmmm.

Super Princess Peach – This platformer is looking super hot!

Xbox
King of Fighters Neowave – Love having that feeling of “bringing home the same game as found in the arcade”, but that was true for this series in 1995. Not so much now. May cave though.

King of Fighters 94 Rebout – I have the fondest memories of the 94 version, so this one has a shot at joining my bookshelf.

March

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GBA
Tales of Phantasia – I think I’ll really want to play it eventually and it’s the type of game (RPG on an aging system) that will be hard to get at a reasonable price later.

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PS2
Shadow Hearts: From the New World – I actually finished Shadow Hearts: Covenant last night. Very cool. It was nice finishing a long game. I hear New World is much shorter to the tune of 25-30 hours vs. the 40-60 hours of Covenant. Might jump on it eventually.

DS
Metroid Prime: Hunters – I’m kinda lukewarm on this one. Probably won’t pick this up until I have the other few DS titles on my list first.

PSP
From Russia with Love – The console versions got mediocre reviews, so I don’t expect a whole lot from this one. I do love that it’s portable and Sean Connery is still the man.

Monster Hunter Freedom – Character design and the look of the world is appealing to me. Seems like the sort of hack/slash and stat building that is perfect for a portable system.

Metal Gear Acid 2 – I popped the first one in for like 2 minutes, but I knew the card system and crazy story were right up my alley. Will wait to finish it before jumping into this one.

Xbox 360
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter – I hope this turns out as good as it looks. The online bits should be cool too.

Burnout Revenge – Now all those hours playing Burnout can earn me some achievements. Sweet.

Elder Scolls IV: Oblivion – My enthusiasm goes up and down for this one. Fingers are firmly crossed it’ll be fun. Hopefully this doesn't get delayed again.

Rumble Roses XX – If this actually ships in the US in March, there will be no happier person in Alameda. Currently slated for “Spring 2006”. Make it happen Konami!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Copyright infringement tastes like cheap chocolate


While waiting to get my haircut, I was browsing the candy section of a next door Asian market. All of a sudden, I saw semi-familiar faces. Is that the Master Chief? Hey, that’s the Norrath girl and Taki from Soul Calibur! Well, badly photoshopped versions of them anyway.

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I looked at the back and the Choco Fighters are a product of the Philipines. Since it was only a dollar, I had to buy this piece of delicious (at least I hoped so) copyright infringement

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Along with the characters I mentioned above, we also get Spawn, one of the girls from Final Fantasy XII, Ryu Hayabusa, a dude who I think is from Contra, and a bunch of Dynasty Warriors/Samurai Warriors characters.

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Oh and there are stickers! Yay!

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On the back of the sticker sheet is the logo of Choco Fighters. Look familiar?

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How do they taste you ask? Well…the ingredient list says chocolate, milk, sugar, and peanuts. My taste buds say, chalky something that has chocolate/peanut residue. I couldn’t finish a whole one. Aki gave it a valiant effort, but didn’t finish either.

Monday, January 23, 2006

It’s a small industry after all


Future publishing moved down the street from my office a few weeks back, so a little impromptu gathering of former GamePro employees was in order. Aki and I represented the IGN contingent, while Dan, Paul, Kat, Sean, Gabe, Ryan, Eng, and Joe made up the Future presence. Eng had to leave early, but I took his photo and promised to add him to the group shot. Sean remarked there should have been thought bubbles connecting Gabe with Eng. Another former GamePro/current IGNer, Jon Robinson, stopped to say hey too.

It was pretty surreal, so many of us eating together again. All that was missing was the usual board/card games at the lunch table.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I want a scene with a bus, a rollercoaster, and an elephant. Make my video!


I thought Sony’s PSP Media Manager was out already, but it’s still listed as a pre-order. While it doesn't let you create crazy videos like the Sega CD games this post is named for, it apparently is the balls when it comes to converting what you've got to PSP format. With the big drops in the price of 2GB pro duo cards, it's becoming more attractive for me to bother. There are also those 4GB mini hard drives available through importers (and soon domestically), but it's not really an attractive alternative for me. I don’t like that it adds a lot of bulk to the unit, the slower read/write/access times of a mini drive, and have heard horror stories of lost data/broken drives when the unit is handled roughly.

The PSP Media Manager is $30 ($25 if you pre-order it now directly from Sony), which is a lot for something the PSP should have shipped with for free. Hmmm...on the fence.

RTS heart 360
It was announced a little while ago that Battle for Middle Earth II will be available for the Xbox 360 in addition to the existing PC version. RTS games moving to 360 is something I was hoping for since it’s my favorite genre on the PC. My desktop is starting to show it’s age and I really, really don’t want to buy a totally new gaming PC or invest in a massive upgrade (I’ve done all the small additions I could already). I really hope they nail the way it’ll all control.

You're back!
I have two characters in my Animal Crossing town I’m particularly fond of. On a routine visit to their houses, I noticed one of them, Rosie, had her stuff packed into boxes. It was quite depressing for some reason. I told her she shouldn’t leave, but accepted the fact it wouldn’t matter. BUT the next day, she was still there and all her stuff was put laid back out in the house. Neat! I didn’t know they could be talked out of moving. It sounds even dumber to me as I’m typing this out, but it really made my day. I guess it’s things like this that keep me playing AC.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Dead or Alive Ultimate vs. Dead or Alive 4


I finally popped in Dead or Alive 2 Ultimate (Xbox) for a quick A to B comparison to Dead or Alive 4 (Xbox 360). This first photo is from DOAU. The display is a 34” Wega CRT and the camera is 5.1MP resolution. I would prefer to take some actual screen grabs, but I barely had time to do even this.

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Now here are the same characters, comparable background, and similar costumes. The difference is more pronounced than I previously thought.

The upgrade in lighting, character models, and fine details is quite hefty. Because the general appearance of the characters weren’t revamped, it’s easy to think there was very little improvement at all.

I mentioned before that playing DOA 3 on the 360 yields a pleasing upconverted picture. I totally forgot to pop that sucker in for a quick pic comparison though. Next time.