E3 Conference Round-Up

Nintendo finally nailed it this year after a string of disappointing E3s. The 3DS would be exciting even without the 3D stuff, they're making possibly the cutest Kirby game yet (with elements of a favorite franchise of mine, Paper Mario) and although it's not really them making it, that Epic Mickey looks sweet. 
 
Sony's show was perhaps a bit longer than needed. They have a habit of padding everything out with huge speeches when I'd rather just see the damn games being played. They had some cool announcements, Portal 2 is a pretty good get, Twisted Metal was genuinely surprising (or rather, Jaffe's involvement was) and Kevin Butler was excellent. 
 
Microsoft had a rather hit-or-miss show. The big Xbox Slim announcement was totally expected but they made it exciting anyway by pulling a Saturn and an Oprah. Kinect did not show well - where the hell was Child of Eden? The new Dash stuff looks cool (Zune Pass!) and the Rising trailer was brilliantly violent. 
 
EA has a structure for their shows at this point and it works well. They go through games one by one and demo them, they have the Sports bit with Peter Moore and then the Sims bit, finishing up with the Partners bit. It's not a showy, MTV presentation, they just show people what they're their to see, and I love that. 
 
Ubisoft. Oh man. Child of Eden was cool. So was Rayman Origins and maniaPlanet. The rest was utterly surreal, but even that was challenged by... 
 
Konami: Exteeeeeeme.

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Analysing Nintendo's News

So Nintendo had themselves a little party this week. You may have seen something about it. Unfortunately, people weren't entirely positive about the whole thing, especially the new DSi console. Here's my opinions on what went down:

Nintendo DSi
Man, I have no idea what to think of this. Let's look at the pros and the cons. The pros: noticably bigger screens, slimmer design, improved audio quality, longer stylus, built-in cameras, much nicer menu, downloadable games and apps, and both internal and external storage. The cons: no GBA slot, a few hours knocked off the battery life, slightly bigger footprint.
I'm not too bothered by the loss of the GBA slot. I was surprised they kept it in the Lite. I guess that if you're a huge Guitar Hero: On Tour fan then this will be a problem for you, but I'm fine with it. Now, it's no secret that I love the DS. In recent times the library has dwindled somewhat (but see the next section about that), but I nonetheless love it. I could go for bigger screens and downloadable games.
One thing that has me a little worried is that this all looks a little bit like the Game Boy lifecycle. There was the big, clunky Game Boy (the DS phat), the slimmer and all-round better GB Pocket (DS Lite) and then the GB Color, which was very similar to the Pocket but with, well, color. It played all the old GB games, and had a small library of Color-only titles. In the end, the GB Color was more like a stepping stone to the real next-gen Game boy, the GBA. It's entirely possible that that could happen here. The DSi will have a few games that will leverage the cameras, extra memory, and better Wi-Fi, while also playing the whole DS library (except Guitar Hero and Mag Kid). Then two years or so down the line, the DS2 will finally arrive.
I'm not rushing out to import just yet (I'll at least wait for hands-on impressions), but it seems like an okay update.

New Software Lineups
If you've spoken to me about Nintendo in the past few months, you'll know that I've been growing increasingly more annoyed with Nintendo, in particular their software lineup, or lack thereof. I mean, let's look at their holiday titles for this year: on the Wii we have Wii Music (not a game), and Animal Crossing (more of the same). On DS, we have Kirby (a remake) and Pokémon Ranger 2. Things aren't looking good.
Well, I'm much more entusiastic today. The stuff they've announced for next year looks really good. They've got Punch-Out!!, Sin & Punishment 2, Another Code for Wii, Mario & Luigi 3, a new WarioWare, the Fire Emblem 1 remake, and Rhythm Heaven. Things are looking better. Admittedly they could be crap, but at least they're making real games, and not just Mario and Zelda again either. And this isn't really Nintendo's doing, but the GTA on DS looks awesome.

Gamecube Wiimakes
I think this is awesome news. They're rereleasing older Gamecube games for the Wii, but they're updating them with widescreen and prog scan support, and Wii Remote and Nunchuk controls. But I don't think this is going to work in all cases. For example Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat, one of the first to get "Wii-made," is just going to get a standard platformer control scheme, stripping out the bongo controls, which is what really made the game unique. On the other hand, both Metroid Primes are being given the MP3 control scheme, which is brilliant news. Hopefully these releases will benefit from the massive Wii audience and people who missed out the first time around will get to play some of these fantastic titles, like Chibi-Robo.
What else deserves a second chance on Wii? F-Zero GX? Paper Mario 2? Luigi's Mansion?

The Wii Storage Solution

Satoru Iwata said at the Japanese press conference that Nintendo have finally worked out a solution of sorts for the Wii's storage problem, and it's an idea that I've been ranting about since the system was released: using the SD slot. From next Spring, we'll be able to download from the Shop Channel directly onto the SD card. And they say they'll make the process of moving games on the card to the system much easier. I sure hope so, because I'm out of space, and transferring to the card takes way too long to be practical (and that's only a one-way transfer.) I think it's taken them far too long to put together this "solution" that should have been there on day one, but whatever. It's not like I'm going crazy over the downloadable offerings at the moment anyway.

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Two Weeks of Awesome

In a few hours I'll be jetting away to the west coast of America. The first stop is Las Vegas, where I will not be gambling on account of my age. Still, from there I fly to Los Angeles, specifically Disneyland. I'll also be visiting Universal Hollywood and meeting up with a former tutor from college. Plus, I'll be visiting the I Am 8-bit exhibition for the first time, and I'm looking forward to that. After that I'll be moving up the coast, stopping at Yosemite and San Fransisco. But the real highlight of the trip will be the last few days, as I'll be attending PAX at long last. My only concern is that I might explode from excitedness before I get there. Naturally, there will be pics, videos and blog posts during and after the show.

And then, when I get back, the holiday games start to arrive. First though, I'll be grabbing a copy of Tiger Woods 09 on PS3. I haven't played a PGA Tour game since the Mega Drive days, and the 09 demo reminded me just how much I love them.

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What I'm Playing - 4/8/08

Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 - The first week of the "Summer of Arcade" is a real doozy. Geo Wars 2 takes the first game and adds 5 new modes (plus an updated version of the original game) and multiplayer. My favorite new mode is probably Pacifism at the moment, but all the modes are so damn good. The achievements are fun to get too. What I really love about Geo Wars 2 is how tightly the leaderboards are tied to the game. Seeing my friends' scores* right there brings back memories of arcade machines.

Rhythm Tengoku Gold - I only just got this today, so this is more of a first impression than a review. Fans of Rhythm Tengoku will know exactly what to expect here. It retains the feel of the first game, but adds a load more games and unlockable toys. My one concern with the game right now is a relatively minor one: some of these games might work better with buttons rather than the touch screen. I'll post more next week.

Densetsu no Stafi 3 - Again, I just got it today. Seems like a neat little platformer, but I want to play some more before I cast any judgement.

and last but not least, I'm replaying Uncharted to get some more trophies for my PSN account.

*Actually, that should be singular, since DuckofDoom is the only guy I know with the game. Damn you and your high score Duck, taunting me from the top right!
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Loom

So, I played through Loom yesterday. That right there is a prime example of why you shouldn't set up your game as the first in a trilogy without making sure you'll be able to finish it. The game was short, easy (there's no items to pick up, so everything involves playing music with your stick-thing) and had an ending that didn't exactly resolve everything. It felt like the developers were relying too much on there being a sequel, and this game feels lacking as a result. I didn't hate the game, but it's disappointing for a LucasArts adventure.

I'm gonna spend time today moving some of my game collection from Google Docs to my Collection List here.

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Obligatory Third Day Post

Yes, third day. I'm going against the flow here. Arriving fashionably late you could say. Or I just couldn't think of anything worth writing on Monday or Tuesday.

So, Giant Bomb. Awesome. I've spent a bit of time editing the WarioWare and Rhythm Tengoku pages, being some of my favourite franchises and all. I might go in and edit the Ouendan and Wario Land pages too.

I decided to play Loom in ScummVM. Seems okay, but I dunno, it's missing something. It's a little too serious for my liking. Then again, The Dig was pretty serious and I love the hell out of that game. I'll stick with it for a bit. The rest of the time I'm either playing WarioWare or watching The West Wing. I have a lot of free time now that I'm out of college.

Let's see if I can keep this blogging thing up.
 - Steve

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