Monday, January 22, 2007

Sticks and Axes

EB/Gamestop had a special this past week where you could trade-in your PS2 for $100 credit towards the purchase of a PS3. Having the older, larger PS2 sitting around (I only use the slim PS2 these days) it was a deal I couldn’t pass up. The only catch was the store had to have it in stock, but that was no problem at the three places I called.

It’s kind of odd buying a system and not getting any games. I’m definitely getting Virtua Fighter 5 and a stick later in Feb. I’ll probably end up borrowing Resistance and Ridge Racer whenever I finally beat Zelda. Until then, the various downloadable demos have been enough for now. It would be nice if they officially released Tekken DR in the US since I’m not sure I want to try the Hong Kong work-around.

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I’ve been wrestling with which arcade stick to get and it came down to availability and economics. The official Sega stick looks killer, but it costs $88 before shipping and you have to wait for it to get sent from Japan to the retailer who then sends it to you. The real deal breaker is that it comes out a week AFTER the game ships.

Thankfully, Hori is releasing their version of the stick in the US Feb 1st, a full 2 ½ weeks before the game comes out. It’s not quite as cool looking, but Hori sticks are quality gear.

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As if adding yet another arcade stick wasn’t enough to clutter up the area, I have to find some place to keep the Guitar Hero controller for the 360. It doesn’t come out till March, so there’s some time to plan perhaps. I’m so happy I waited for this version.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

iPhone = OSX Trojan Horse

I have to say, the iPhone unveiling was one of the most exciting keynote presentations ever. This is coming from a person who has attended all (well except for one) of Nintendo’s legendary E3 presentations.

The fact that Cingular is involved and the steep price was a bit of a buzz kill, but I think I’m over that now. It’s ultimately going to depend on available finances in June, but I really, really want one. The reasonable voice inside me insists I should wait a year for the obligatory upgraded version with more storage, lower price, and perhaps a few new features. If I were really patient, I could wait a little longer for the completely redesigned model that would appear after that.

Obviously the market potential for the iPhone is huge as is the ramifications for companies like Palm, but there is another plus for Apple that I’m sure is no accident. Millions of new users will be interfacing with OSX. Millions who will become VERY comfortable with it and come to love using it. Millions who would be much more interested in buying a desktop or laptop running OSX. Several years from now, that could translate to an impossible dream becoming a reality – Macs outselling PCs.

That brings us to the product all technology lovers want, a computer interface like the one in Minority Report. The iPhone UI is the closest we’ve seen and it’s not a stretch to see them carry that over to their desktops.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Games of 2006

I somehow managed to play a good amount of games last year. Still, there are a number of games I couldn’t find time for one reason or another. For what it’s worth, my humble list ranked in no particular order (although I will say Elite Beat Agents is my game of the year followed closely by Okami).

2006 favorites
Elite Beat Agents (DS)
New Super Mario Bros (DS)
Okami (PS2)
Dead Rising (Xbox 360)
Brain Age (DS)
Gears of War (Xbox 360)
Rainbow Six Vegas (Xbox 360)
NBA 2K7 (Xbox 360)
LotR: Battle for Middle Earth II (Xbox 360)

Games I finished in 2006, but released at other times
Killer 7 (GC)
Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)
Metroid Zero Mission (GBA)
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Games that may have made my tops list if I had played them, but have a chance at making next year’s list
Elder Scrolls IV (Xbox 360)
Yakuza (PS2)
Final Fantasy XII (PS2)
Metal Gear Portable Ops (PSP)
Castlevania Portrait of Ruin (DS)
Zelda Twilight Princess (Wii)

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The most pleasant surprise of the year was easily Dead Rising. It certainly had its flaws, but man did I enjoy every minute I played. It looked great, had a ton of replay value, featured some decent voice acting to go along with the zany story, and had some inventive achievement points that were fun to do. From what I’ve heard, it sold pretty well, so I’m psyched to see what they do for a follow-up.

January 2007 outlook
I shouldn’t be paying attention to January releases with the backlog of titles that cry for attention, but it’s hard. Leading off things is Lost Planet, which keeps looking better and better each time I see new footage. Wario Ware Smooth Moves is a must though. Although I will spend a lot of time with it, it’s spread out in little chunks so it’s okay to grab now. Hotel Dusk for the DS will eventually get purchased, but no rush at all on that one. Winning Eleven 2007 for 360 is intriguing, although this version still doesn’t feel like it takes advantage of the advanced hardware it’s on. I’ve been keeping an eye on Rogue Galaxy as well, but I would squeeze in FF XII before this though.
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My craving for Twilight Princess, which I’ve managed to suppress for the past month and a half only because I’ve been insanely busy, has been raging out of control lately. If I don’t start by this weekend, I may explode.