So:  what usually happens when I decide to start writing here is that I’ll have a few free minutes, I’ll start gathering my thoughts and start typing, and then BLAM – huge project arrives in my inbox.  (Or, as another example:  as I typed this last sentence, my boss showed up.)  Last week, I got …

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MUSIC:  Not other people’s, but my own!  Yes, I’ve finally gotten my recording studio set up again – I disassembled everything when my kid was born in order to make extra room (and also to make sure he couldn’t knock anything over), but that’s just a convenient excuse for me saying “I’m too exhausted to be creative …

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1.  The big news story on Friday was Nintendo’s horrible, no-good, very bad earnings report, and the subsequent discussion, hair-pulling and gnashing of teeth on the big sites and Twitter was more or less focused on how Nintendo can turn things around.  I sometimes feel like I’m the wrong person to comment about anything Nintendo …

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E3 2013: Nintendo and the morning after

June 11, 2013


As per usual, I missed most of the Nintendo briefing due to the day job.  The little I saw, though, didn’t interest me all that much – which shouldn’t come as a surprise, as I am not, nor have I ever been, a Nintendo fanboy.  I suppose I was hoping to see some new, exciting stuff for the 3DS, but from my vantage point Nintendo isn’t all that worried about the 3DS – it’s the WiiU that needs all the TLC it can get, and that’s what was mostly talked about this morning.  But, again, since I don’t particularly care about first-party Nintendo titles, and since I can realistically only afford one of the new consoles, I would’ve needed something tremendous and undeniably exciting in order to turn my head away from Sony.

Speaking of which.

The question for every E3, for the last however many years, has always ultimately boiled down to this:  “Who won?”  And for the most part, every console’s fans could make reasonable sounding arguments that their console won that particular year, and flame wars and impolite discourse would ensue, as per usual.  So it strikes me as highly unusual to see a clear, unambiguous, unanimously decided winner crowned even before E3 officially starts.  

What Sony managed to pull off last night was unprecedented.  They fired their shots with grace, tact and humility – and they did not miss.  And as much as I get confused by cheering audiences during what are supposed to be press-only events, the excitement in the room seemed genuine and sincere.  It’s not just that Sony delivered good news; it’s that they delivered the right news, at the right time, and completely owned the moment.  Twitter was exploding once those announcements started rolling out.   We all gasped as the former champion-turned-underdog delivered one knock-out punch after another.  And then, when they announced the $399 price, pretty much everybody wrote “Game Over” in their notebooks.

I did, in fact, go to sleep last night without pre-ordering a PS4, though I must admit I was dangerously close to doing so.  (I  even got as far as putting it in my Amazon cart and trying to figure out where I wanted it shipped.)   There’s still a lot (well, all) of E3 left, and I’d like to think there are some surprises left as far as console-exclusives are concerned.  So even if Sony has “won”, I’ve still not seen any games that I need to put on my must-play list.

And, again – even if Sony has won, I still can’t see myself committing to a purchase until I see how the multi-console development shakes out for third-party developers.   The biggest reason why Microsoft won this last generation, in my opinion, is because, by and large, 360 versions of multi-platform games looked and played better than their PS3 counterparts.  This is why Sony’s announcement of their new partnership with Bethesda took me utterly by surprise – PS3 owners got shafted with a piss-poor port of Skyrim, and I seem to recall Fallout 3 being somewhat inferior as well, and wasn’t there a lengthy delay between the 360 version of Oblivion and the PS3?  I probably spent over 250 hours in those 3 games alone on the 360.  So for the PS4 to be getting a console version of the Elder Scrolls MMO – as well as a console exclusive beta – well, that’s huge.  That’s Sony saying to Bethesda that they’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that PS4 owners get the experience they’re pay for and expect to receive.

Now, on the other hand, it will be very interesting indeed to see how Microsoft answers, if at all.  Their messaging ever since the console reveal has been inconsistent, wishy-washy, and wildly tone-deaf to the consumer; the only thing that has been clear is that they are aiming to please publishers.  Nobody wants Kinect; even people who have Kinect (like me) don’t want it or use it.  The Xbox One will continue to be the primary home for multiplayer FPS games, and, so, good for those people.  They are a large audience, they will eat that shit up.  But there’s so much more that games are capable of, and Sony seemed hell-bent on letting us know that they are intent on courting developers of all sizes in an effort to make their library as diverse as possible.

Very much looking forward to the rest of the show – my RSS feed is exploding and I must get caught up!

random ramblings

September 13, 2012


1.  As mentioned a few posts back, I’m in something of a spending freeze for the foreseeable future.  That being said, I must admit that I’ve started to notice a subtle but stubborn itch in my brain that’s making me want to maybe get a Nintendo 3DS.  There are a couple reasons for this.  For one thing, the software library isn’t totally terrible anymore, and there are a few games coming up that I really want to play (Paper Mario, Professor Layton, etc.).  For another, I’m finding that I’m having a hard time staying engrossed in my iOS games.  I’ve bought a few RPGs for my iPhone but I almost never play them, and I find that if a game doesn’t let me listen to my own music (or podcasts or Spotify or whatever), I tend to ignore them, too.  Whereas back when my DS was in regular rotation, I’d absolutely plug in my headphones and allow myself to be fully engaged in the whole experience.  (Obviously, puzzle games like Picross don’t really need sound, but you get my point.)  Of course, yesterday’s announcement of the iPhone 5, coupled with my eligibility for a free upgrade in December, means that given my budgetary restraints, I can only choose one, and I am MOST DEFINITELY getting that new iPhone.  (And I’m still not ever getting a Vita.)

1a.  As I was writing the paragraph you just read, Lifehacker came out with a relevant article titled “How To Get Off The Upgrade Treadmill.”  So, there’s that.  (Still getting an iPhone 5, though, so there.)

2.  Speaking of Nintendo (and upgrading technology), I do not give a FUCK about the WiiU.

3.  My wife goes out of town next weekend, and I think I’m going to take that opportunity to move my PC tower into the living room, hook it up to my 40″ HDTV, and give Steam’s Big Picture Mode a workout.  I’m kind of afraid that I’m going to love the shit out of it, because there’s no way I can keep my PC in the living room without making my wife and my dogs very unhappy.

4.  Mark of the Ninja continues to impress.  Last night I figured out whatever the hell it was I was doing wrong and got past the figurative wall I’d run up against, getting a new ability in the process that will MOST DEFINITELY come in handy when I go back and try to ace the previous levels.  Goddamn, that game is great.

5.  Speaking of stealth games, I have a question:  do people actually enjoy the cutscenes in Metal Gear games, or do they enjoy them ironically, like they would with, say, The Room?  I bring this up because the Giant Bomb crew talked about the upcoming Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes on last week’s Bombcast and they all seemed to acknowledge that the franchise as a whole is fucking insane, but enjoyably so, but the key phrase is still:  “fucking insane.”  Which it is.  (Feel free to read my posts about MGS4 which break down that game’s specific insanity in much greater detail.)   And yet I’ve come across plenty of people – fans, journalists, etc. – who take that franchise very seriously, and who get very, very defensive when people point out how ridiculous it is.   Ultimately, I found myself enjoying the gameplay of MGS 4 quite a lot, and was genuinely awed at the graphics and presentation, but I was also in utter disbelief that anybody could take that game’s narrative even remotely seriously.  Kojima is an enigma to me – I have no idea if he has any self-awareness, which is why I don’t know if I’m supposed to enjoy his stories as the camp that they clearly are, or if he’s actually sincere about this craziness.

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