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Dec. 8th, 2008

Bishop Allen - Piano

drewmg

Goozex Update

Okay, so now that I've gotten a few positive feedback entries on Goozex, the games are really starting to rush in (and out).

Once you get a feedback score of 20+ (each positive game received as expected gets you 20 points) you are able to send out 3 games at a time, and after you get 2 positive feedbacks in a row, you are given points for games you send out as soon as you agree to send, as opposed to when they give you feedback.

So only a week or so ago I was complaining about nothing really happening with the site, waiting for people to give me feedback.

Now suddenly I've shipped out 5 games (Rollercoaster Tycoon 3, Myst, Lego Star Wars, Orange Box, Mario Strikers Charged) in the past week, and gotten points for all but one of them. As a result, I am being shipped the following:

Crackdown (Xbox 360)
Command & Conquer 3 (PC)
NBA Street: Homecourt (Xbox 360)

And also I'm getting from Gamefly:

Animal Crossing: City Folk (Wii)

In addition to the game I already have from Gamefly:

Ninjatown (DS)

I'm hoping to review each of these, even if briefly, in the next few weeks.

Dec. 1st, 2008

Bishop Allen - Piano

drewmg

DrewMG reviews... Goozex.com

About 3 weeks ago now, I stumbled across a website called Goozex.com, which is something of a cross between eBay and Gamefly. It's a game trading site, and here's basically how it works:

Goozex basicsCollapse )

So how's it worked for me so far?

Right away when I signed up, I added about 10 games to the list that I was willing to part with. About half of those were old PC titles worth about 100 points each (Final Fantasy VIII, Deus Ex, Sim City 4) mainly because Gamestop won't take those titles. Almost immediately, I'd received emails saying that my copies of FFIV (PC) and Killer 7 (GC) were requested by another user.

So without really knowing if I'd really get much out of this site, I decided that I liked the business model enough to mail off these games to complete strangers.

I realized that I wouldn't be getting any points for these trades for a few weeks - not until the users received the games, and left me positive feedback, and I had $10 in my paypal account from a recent eBay sale, so I went ahead and dropped in $10 worth of points, which brought me to 300 (the system gives you 100 to start with).

The next day, I noticed that my 300 points, along with one trading "credit" were being held aside due to a pending transaction. Sure enough, another user out there had noticed that I requested S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl and was being asked to send me his copy. Within a few hours, he confirmed that the game was shipped, and I received it a few days later.

So far now, about 3-4 weeks into this period, I've still only received S.T.A.L.K.E.R. but I have another transaction (Mega Man 9 for Wii) on the horizon. Not sure how a digital game is going to work - I can only assume he's going to gift me the game. That user only has 10 more hours to confirm he'll get me the game, otherwise my points come out of holding and move onto the next game on the list.

So far, I've shipped out a total of 5 games (FF VIII, Killer 7, Myst, Orange Box, Rollercoaster Tycoon 3) and I've only received points for two of them. I'm really hoping to get some more games soon. It takes a little too long to get started with this site, especially because they limit you to 2 games at a time for shipping out until you have received positive feedback. It's hard to earn a lot of points up front.

Still, I really like the way this works so far, and I'm hoping the dude comes through with Mega Man 9.

All in all, Goozex gets 2 thumbs up from me. If you're interested in trying it out, let me refer you - I get free points and credits out of the deal!

Oct. 2nd, 2008

Bishop Allen - Piano

drewmg

Nintendoes what Nintendon't

A few thoughts on the Nintendo Fall Media Summitt:


Regarding the Wii Storage Solution:
Nintendo has been stalling with the storage solution for quite a long time. This solution is at least a full year overdue. So does it measure up? For those unaware of the issue, the facts are these: Nintendo's console comes with 512 MB of built in memory, for game saves and Wii Shop downloads (Virtual Console/WiiWare titles). For 70-80 % of consumers, this is enough memory. However, a fairly significant chunk of the Wii's audience will easily fill up the 512 MB of memory with purchased games. The Wii has an SD card slot RIGHT on the console, but as of right now, you cannot play games copied to the SD card - merely store and retrieve them. Nintendo's proposed solution for the storage issue is merely to release a firmware update that let's us play games that are stored on the SD card. Is that enough?

Yes and No. For me personally, a 2 GB SD card is more than enough for my Wii Shop downloads and game saves, however that is because I play Rock Band on my 360. What about the Wii Rock Band 2 owners who will be loading their SD cards up with downloadable content? Same with Guitar Hero World Tour. I don't think it's a stretch to say that 2 GB could be filled up awfully quickly when DLC is taken into account.

The other major problem with the proposed solution? It won't be released until Spring 2009. What could possibly be taking this incredibly obvious firmware fix SO long to be developed? I'm tired of waiting, Nintendo.

Grade: B



Regarding the Nintendo DSi:

Nintendo has announced another revision to the Nintendo DS: the DSi. As you can tell from the pictures above, it is very similar in form factor to the DS, while being slightly smaller with slightly larger screens. I was hoping for something a little different looking, just so I could get excited about a new gadget. The biggest advantages of the DSi are as follows:
-Cameras. 2 of them. Why 2? Beats me.
-SD Card support. Brilliant. It's time we started bringing the joy that is the Wii Virtual Console over to the handheld side of things. The one thing the DS has always been missing was internal storage.
-Media Playback. DS, meet iPod. Never a bad thing, curious to how it sounds, though. The DS sound output has never been super impressive.

The price in Japan is approx. $180, and it's coming out there on Nov 1st. They haven't announced details for a US launch yet, other than to say "well into the calendar year" as to not cannibalize DS sales.

Grade: B+


Regarding Club Nintendo:

For a long time now, Nintendo of Japan has had a "loyalty" system where customers could register their Nintendo products on the website, and earned prizes as a result. This program is now coming to the US. Some very cool prizes, such ash as Wii Remotes with television remote control functionality and exclusive accessories such as a Super Famicom style Classic Controller for the Wii. Very happy to see this kind of swag come to the states.

Grade: A-

Regarding the Games:

Cave Story:

Very happy to see Cave Story, what has been a downloadable freeware game for a few years now, get a proper console release on Nintendo's system. It's a MetroidVania style adventure game with RPG elements. Very, very cool.


Punch Out!!:

This is one of my favorite NES games, so I'm interested to see how the Wii version will turn out. I really hope it's better than Wii Sports: Flail, which was my least favorite launch game.


Pikmin/Metroid Prime for Wii:

Nintendo is putting together a lineup of games they're calling "Play on Wii" which consists of a Greatest Hits of the Gamecube era, retrofitted with Wii controls. Is this a good thing? Well, considering that we're talking about some awesome games here (Metroid Prime 1 & 2, Pikmin, DK Jungle Beat), yeah. I'm really excited about it. I'm on record as being one of the few who picks Gamecube as his favorite Nintendo console, so yeah. Bring them on, Nintendo. But, as I've already played through these games quite a few times, budget price would be nice.

Grade: A

Oct. 1st, 2008

Bishop Allen - Piano

drewmg

Commodore and Me

I've been meaning to take a trip back in time and pay a little tribute to some of the Commodore 64 games I played growing up. Thinking back to my kid days, it's easy to remember the NES Classics I grew up on. However, before I had an NES, I had a C64, and I *ROCKED* that C64. Here are a few of the games I played back then:

goin BACK in timeCollapse )
Okay, that's all I remember. What did YOU grow up playing?

Jul. 16th, 2008

Bishop Allen - Piano

drewmg

I just bought Boom Blox...

...and I feel much better about myself, as a person.

Jul. 15th, 2008

Bishop Allen - Piano

drewmg

Say it ain't so...

Earlier in the year, I posted the following in this blog:

Nintendo seems content with delivering less traditional game content, and more non-game content. This is fine to a certain extent, but what happens when the Nintendo sales department compares the sales figures of Wii Sports vs. Metroid Prime 3? What hope is there that Metroid Prime 4 becomes greenlit for development? Many people offer up the holy trilogy of “Mario, Metroid, Zelda” in 2007 as proof that Nintendo has not forgotten the traditional gamer. This is a flawed argument, because these games were far in development long before Nintendo learned what a cash cow “Wii Play” was going to be. The games that ENTER development in 2008 are far better indicators of what Nintendo has planned for the Wii’s future.

Well, the 2008 Nintendo E3 press conference just ended, and what did we get?

Animal Crossing: City Folk (Thumbs Up)
GTA DS (Thumbs Up)
Wii Sports Resort (Thumbs in the Middle)
Wii Music (Thumbs in the middle, leaning down based on what I've read)

No Metroid, Mario, Zelda, Pikmin, Kid Icarus, Starfox, Smash Bros, Fire Emblem, Hardware...

Basically, no core titles. Nothing on that list, except GTA DS (a 3rd party title) and to SOME extent Animal Crossing, is a core gamer title.

Sorry guys. I hate it when I'm right, but... what exactly do *I* have to look forward to in 2008 as a fan of Gamecube & SNES era Nintendo? Animal Crossing will be fun, but it's not going to be as fun as the first one was for me, because the first one was largely about the community I was in at the time (the dorms), not the game itself.

I'll give Wii Music a shot, but from what I read, it sounds kind of abysmal. And Wii Sports Resort is probably going to be pretty cool, but not exactly what I was hoping for. I am getting tired of tech demos being released as stand alone products.

Jul. 14th, 2008

Bishop Allen - Piano

drewmg

Nintendo Announces Wii MotionPlus



Wii MotionPlus is a new accessory for the Wii Remote that Nintendo says will “more quickly and accurately reflect motions in a 3D space” and provide “a true 1:1 response” of controller movements during gameplay. The Wii MotionPlus plugs into the accessory port of the Wii Remote and uses the accelerometer and the sensor bar to make the tracking possible.


The Wii Remote normally uses its internal accelerometer sensors and Wii sensor bar to locate itself in space, so what the Wii MotionPlus will do any differently or how it will work better than the existing Wii Remote technology is a mystery.


Nintendo will provide more details of the Wii MotionPlus, as well as the rest of their E3 announcements, during the Nintendo Press Conference tomorrow morning in Hollywood. Nintendo World Report will be there to provide you with the latest updates.


Veeeeeeery interesting. This is basically Nintendo openly admitting what I've been saying for awhile - their flavor of motion sensing isn't GOOD enough for the type of gameplay experience they've been trying to sell to Wii customers.

If this actually improves the performance of the Wiimote, I am all for it - but I really just wish they had released a new version of the Wiimote that is backwards compatible for older Wii games, but includes the new technology.

So how will they market this device if games start using it? Will it always be 100% optional, or will certain games require it? Will it come with games?

If it can provide a true 1:1 response, then I am down with this.

Apr. 29th, 2008

Bishop Allen - Piano

drewmg

(no subject)

last night, kelly and i were sitting around doing pretty much nothing (after a very good episode of "how i met your mother") when she decided to trek to k-mart. she needed a few supplies to aid her in her recovery from the surgery (saline solution, that kind of thing) and while we were there, i thought i'd see if they had the new mario kart game on display. as we walked toward that corner of the store, i joked that she should buy it for me (because i didn't get paid until today, and i was flat broke).

well, she did.

i <3 that girl.

so yeah, we went back home last night and played for about two hours. i gotta say, at first i was a bit unimpressed because i thought they had removed drifting from the game. then i realized that you have to pick "manual" when you choose your cart (over "automatic") which, if you've ever played a racing game before, you'll know usually refers to transmission, not "ability to drift."

i should have realized that they weren't REALLY going to put a manual transmission into mario kart, but i guess that part of my brain was shut off.

once i realized how to drift, the game became awesome. nothing against doubledash, but i always thought that the whole doubledash mechanic (two riders per kart) was pretty contrived and just there to make the game feel different. it had it's moments where it was fun, but i never fell in love with the co-op mode, so the whole thing just seemed a little unneeded.

well, in that regard, mario kart wii is a good return to form, and pretty much takes everything that was great about doubledash and mario kart DS and mashes it into one game. lots of new tracks, lots of retro tracks, and *FANTASTIC* online play! color me surprised, nintendo figured out online! lack of voice chat still is inexcusable, but i'll give them a pass on this for now because they managed a (from my experience) nearly lag free online game. kelly and i played 4 or so online matches (it was very easy for us to both hop on and play random matches together) and each time a few players would drop and a few would join. it took maybe 30 seconds to vote for a course and have the game choose which one was the winner, and then we played. very smooth, very seamless, and i am impressed. where was this in smash bros? seriously.

oh, and the wii wheel - gotta say that it's not worthless. i've been a big believer in the whole "waggle where unneeded is a detriment" mindset, but when i played with the wheel, i actually really enjoyed it. i wasn't nearly as GOOD (that was also before i learned how to drift) but i enjoyed it quite a bit. it was a great idea for them to include the wheel, because it's a great way to get people interested in the game who probably would not otherwise play.

great job on this one, nintendo. you made me, who really has never been super gung ho about ANY mario kart game, give you an A for effort. keep it up.

Mar. 25th, 2008

Bishop Allen - Piano

drewmg

I Want To Rock And Roll Alone And Only With Existing Content All Night

I've spent the past day or so reading responses to the details that have emerged regarding Rock Band for Wii. The two primary complaints that have been that there is no Online Play and no Downloadable Content, which basically is rooted in the fact that the game is nothing more than a port of the PS2 version, which is pretty stripped down. Most of the comments I'm referring to were found on infendo.com and joystiq.com.

Before I begin, let me come out and say that the brunt of the responsibility for making a cutting edge product does, indeed, lay on the developer of the game. In this case, that developer is Harmonix. With that said, I find it interesting how much of the blame for this lack of functionality is being placed elsewhere: EA primarily. Most of the comments I've read about this decision have been aimed at either Harmonix or EA, but primarily EA. With as popular as the Guitar Hero and Rock Band series have been, it's pretty uncommon to bash Harmonix, and bashing EA has been a popular past-time for quite a few years now.

But what I'm not seeing is any blame at all for the party who is certainly not guilt-free when it comes to this issue: Nintendo.

Let's establish a few facts here: Nintendo set out from the beginning to make a "different" type of system. They saw themselves losing the arms race with Sony and Microsoft - they had just put out a system that was virtually identical to it's competitors and it got them nowhere. So with the Wii, they shook it up. Reggie Fils-Amie has gone on record before saying that they intentionally built a system that was not cutting edge in terms of horsepower, but in terms of interface and efficiency. The obvious and well-discussed issue this creates is that Wii is far less powerful than it's main competitors, the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3. The less discussed issue here is how similar Wii is to it's secondary competitor, the Playstation 2. Nintendo has intentionally placed itself in a position to share development resources with the single most popular video game console of our time. With this in mind, who can blame developers for taking the PS2 version of Rock Band as a base when porting to Wii? It is a problem bourne out of the environment that Nintendo created when they made their decision to make the Wii a slightly souped up Gamecube. If Nintendo wants to continue into the future on a graphics processor that is rooted in 2001, then it is going to share development resources with other currently relevant machines that are rooted in 2001. When the PS2 goes extinct, Nintendo really needs to worry because then we won't be seeing any PS2 ports on Wii - and that's a bad thing. If you think that there would be Rock Band on Wii had there not already been Rock Band on PS2, you're kidding yourself.

But why, you ask?

Because a core element of the Rock Band experience relies on something that Nintendo's system is incapable of providing: Downloadable Content. Nintendo released a system with very little internal storage - enough for game saves and maybe 1-2 dozen VC games (most of which are pretty tiny) and that's really about it. The reason Rock Band hit PS2 so early was because the PS2 has an ungodly install base. The install base for PS2 was enough to put out a bare bones PS2 version of Rock Band. The reason it took the Wii version so long is because Harmonix wanted to wait and see if the Wii's online structure would make it possible for the game to even remotely resemble the next-gen versions of the games. It never happened, and so we have our PS2 port.

I already know what you're saying:

1) What about the SD card slot?
2) If Guitar Hero III can do it, why can't Rock Band?

Well, to answer the first point - you're right... to an extent. Yes, having a 2 GB SD card would allow for a fair amount of Downloadable Content, but there's still no structure in place to sell such content over the Wii Store, and no existing model to compare to on Wii. Is it technically possible? Yes. But Rock Band would be the first such game to use this functionality on the Wii, and perhaps they weren't ready to blaze that trail. History shows that the console developer usually leads the way with new features of a console, and Nintendo hasn't shown any interest in DLC. Perhaps the record labels, always a sound source of logic, were leery selling their songs on a system that had no previously existing example of security. There's a half dozen reasons why Rock Band doesn't support downloading onto an SD card - pick one and go with it.

As to the comparisons between Guitar Hero III and Rock Band on Wii when it comes to online battle, I would simply point back to my earlier comparison between the PS2 and Wii: Nintendo has created an environment where it's far easier to port from similar technology than develop anew for the system. That's not a great answer, but it's the only answer we have.

The point is that Harmonix is not the only party to blame here: Nintendo made the choice to design the Wii with limited online capabilities. Nintendo alone is responsible for Friend Codes and limited storage. Nintendo alone is responsible for putting themselves in a position where it is far easier to port from PS2 than develop a new build. So while, yes, the brunt of this unfortunate issue lies directly at Harmonix's feet, don't act as if Nintendo is the innocent bystander - they are far from blameless.

Feb. 7th, 2008

Bishop Allen - Piano

drewmg

NES Reproductions

I was scanning the MTV Multiplayer Blog (run by Stephen Totiillo) today and came across an interview with Leon Kiriliuk, owner of NES Reproductions, a service that takes NES Roms of never-released or homebrew NES titles and puts them onto an actual NES cart for you for only $25. After looking around his site for a few minutes, I started to get very excited about the possibility of playing some of these homebrew titles on an actual NES - specifically Zelda: Outlands, and Castlevania: Chorus of Mystery. Also available are the original NES versions of Final Fantasy 2 and Earthbound, both translated by fans for the American audience.

The deal is this: each game you want requires a donor cartridge. Only certain cartridges work with certain games, due to differences in the circuit boards. So he lists on his site the games that will work as donor cartridges for each title he offers. Once you mail the donor cartridges to Leon, he pulls the game apart, replaces the ROM chip of the original game with a re-writable EEPROM chip that has the new game, strips the label from the front of the cart, replaces it with his own label that matches the game you're requesting, and ships it back to you for $25 (plus an extra $7 if a new battery is required for game saves).

So over lunch today, I went to Gamers and dropped $4 on Super Glove Ball and NES Open Golf, and once my tax return comes in, I'm going to ship them off to him, along with my semi-functional copy of SMB2, and get Earthbound, and the Zelda and Castlevania games. I'm really stoked about this.

Here's a complete list of the games he offers:
North American games that were never released before (prototype versions):
California Raisins: The Grape Escape
Drac's Night Out
Earthbound
Final Fantasy 2
Hero's Quest
Hit the Ice
Robocop vs Terminator
Secret Ties
Squashed
Star Trek V *** NEW ***
Sunman
Time Diver: Eon Man


Released in Japan / Fan Translated to English
Adventure Island 4
Badminton
Chronicles of the Radia War
Cocoron
Downtown Nekketu Cross-Country
Dragons of Flame
Earthworm Jim
Egypt
Final Fantasy 3j
Galaxian
The Glory of Heracles II - Titan's Downfall
The Goonies
Hotman
Ice Ice Hockey Challenge
Just Breed
Kart Fighter
Kunio-kun no Jidaigeki dayo Zenin Shuugou: Downtown Special
Labyrinth
Mini Putt
Moai Kun
Moon Crystal
Nekketsu! Street Basket: Ganbare Dunk Heroes
Over Horizon
Recca: Summer Carnival 92
Riki Kunio
Sugoro Quest
Super Contra 7
Super Marios Bros 2j
Sweet Home


Custom Game Hacks / Homebrew Game

Bomb Sweeper
Castlevania - Chorus of Mysteries
Challenging Lolo
RBI Baseball - Arcade Roster
Rockman Exile
Tecmo Super Bowl: 2005-2006 roster
Tecmo Super Bowl: 2006-2007 roster
Tecmo Super Bowl: 2007-2008 roster (32 team edition) *** NEW ***
Zelda: Outlands

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