>Pre-3

>My expectations for this year’s E3 are muted, I guess. I am underwhelmed by Kinect, at least in terms of the name; but I don’t think it was intended for me. (I already have a Wii, and I only play it while seated, if I play it at all. More on that later.) The big reveal I’m looking forward to is the new 3D DS -which, I might add, is also the only 3D-related gaming thing that I care about. I imagine that most of the big surprises this year will be the 3D-ing of big titles – I’ve already heard about Crysis 2, and it wouldn’t surprise me AT ALL if Gears of War 3D was announced.

Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth, I am 27 stars into Super Mario Galaxy 2. Rather than gushing about how inventive and unique the level designs are, let me offer up my biggest pet peeves:

1. Took me a while to figure this out, and it sucks: it doesn’t matter how many lives and 1-UPs you may have stockpiled; if you save your game and quit, you’re back to 5 the next time you start up. Which is LAME.

2. There have been more than a few times where the controls – which are generally spot-on – get totally wonky and cause a death. There’s one Wacky Comet galaxy in particular where I literally could not figure out which way I was supposed to move the controller, which was compounded by the fact that no matter which way I moved, Mario remained still.

There, I said it. SMG2 is not perfect. Deal with it.

>the post-vacation rundown

>I’m back from vacation and I have a lot to talk about, and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to say it all at this particular moment. So, then, the short versions:

1. Red Dead Redemption was amazing, and among the other superlatives I could throw its way, it has (possibly) the most satisfying ending I’ve ever seen. I’d have to think about it a little just to make sure, but, I mean, GODDAMN.

2. Alan Wake was good, but not quite as good as it could’ve been, and its ending was as WTF as any I’ve seen. Some games take themselves a little too seriously; this game might be near the top of that particular list. Let me also say that for a game that goes out of its way to instill a sense of dread, the beyond-creepy facial animation is a nice (albeit unintentional) touch.

3. Does it mean that I have no soul if I admit that I can’t really get into, or care about, Super Mario Galaxy 2? What if I qualify that by mentioning that I never had a Nintendo system as a kid, thus stripping me of any Mario-related nostalgia? I still probably have no soul, right? Figures.

4. Picross 3D is one of the best DS games ever made, and I”ll be a little bummed out when I finish it (which will probably happen by mid-week).

>What I Played This Weekend: “Oh right, I own a Wii” edition

>I’ve said this before, but in the context of this particular post it bears repeating – there once was a time when my hunger for a Wii was all-consuming. My heart and wallet may have belonged to Microsoft, but I yearned for something more; I ached to waggle. And, most importantly, I wanted to get my wife interested in gaming – or, at least, gaming with me. She was never going to get into Halo or Portal, but at least we could play tennis or bowling for a little while.

The irony, of course, is that once the novelty of the Wii’s control scheme wore off, the crushing disappointment started to sink in. There were no games to look forward to, at least to someone in my demographic; Nintendo saw their revenue streams coming in from non-gamers and you can hardly fault them for trying to make money, especially in this shitty economy. That said, my enthusiasm for the Wii didn’t drop off as much as it entirely evaporated, and I know I’m not the only one – when people came over to my apartment for birthday parties and other such gatherings, we would always pull out Rock Band instead of Wii Sports. It is true that my wife and I had started to use the Wii again in recent months, but only as a goddamned exercise machine. This was not my beautiful game console.

So why the hell did I buy Wii Sports Resort yesterday? Why did I succumb to Nintendo’s charms, again? Why did I enable Nintendo to continue to ignore me?

I can’t really answer that without offering at least one rationalization: I didn’t actually spend any cash in order to get it. I traded in my PSP and all 7 PSP games I owned specifically so that it could be a cashless transaction. Because as disappointed as I’d been in the Wii, I was even more disappointed in the PSP, and there was even less to look forward to on that platform.

Anyway. Wii Sports Resort is what Wii Sports should’ve been. It’s yet another collection of mini-games, in both single- and multi-player configurations, and the big difference in this collection is that the Wii Remote’s new add-on makes the Remote… more sensitive? It’s hard to explain what’s different about the Motion Plus controller add-on thing until you try the frisbee mini-game. Suffice it to say, it is as close to throwing an actual frisbee as one can get. Similarly, the ping-pong mini-game is remarkable, especially in terms of how you can throw different kinds of spin on your returns. I was as big a fan of Rockstar’s Table Tennis as anyone, but I must admit that the ping-pong game in WSR is arguably more engaging.

The rest of the mini-games are pretty hit or miss. Archery is certainly interesting; the sword-fighting game is fun but not particularly deep; bowling feels pretty much identical to the previous iteration, and golf is actually much harder now that the remote is more sensitive to wrist positioning. I suspect that I’ll play this just as long as my wife remains interested, and then that’ll probably be it.

—————————-

As long as the Wii was powered up, though, I figured it would maybe be a good time to get back into Super Mario Galaxy. I had been enjoying it thoroughly at first, but got hung up after getting my 15th star or so; then I tried to go back to the earlier levels to stock up on some easy 1-ups, and found that the game (smartly?) makes that prospect a bit trickier than I’d anticipated. In any event, I got past whatever it was that had gotten me stuck before, and now I guess I’m back in it. I’m up to 21 stars now, and I’m continually impressed with each new world’s mechanics. I suppose it could be argued that if the Wii produced nothing of value except SMG, it would still be worth a purchase. It could also be argued that the first half of the previous sentence is actually, literally true.

>What I Played This Weekend: "Oh right, I own a Wii" edition

>I’ve said this before, but in the context of this particular post it bears repeating – there once was a time when my hunger for a Wii was all-consuming. My heart and wallet may have belonged to Microsoft, but I yearned for something more; I ached to waggle. And, most importantly, I wanted to get my wife interested in gaming – or, at least, gaming with me. She was never going to get into Halo or Portal, but at least we could play tennis or bowling for a little while.

The irony, of course, is that once the novelty of the Wii’s control scheme wore off, the crushing disappointment started to sink in. There were no games to look forward to, at least to someone in my demographic; Nintendo saw their revenue streams coming in from non-gamers and you can hardly fault them for trying to make money, especially in this shitty economy. That said, my enthusiasm for the Wii didn’t drop off as much as it entirely evaporated, and I know I’m not the only one – when people came over to my apartment for birthday parties and other such gatherings, we would always pull out Rock Band instead of Wii Sports. It is true that my wife and I had started to use the Wii again in recent months, but only as a goddamned exercise machine. This was not my beautiful game console.

So why the hell did I buy Wii Sports Resort yesterday? Why did I succumb to Nintendo’s charms, again? Why did I enable Nintendo to continue to ignore me?

I can’t really answer that without offering at least one rationalization: I didn’t actually spend any cash in order to get it. I traded in my PSP and all 7 PSP games I owned specifically so that it could be a cashless transaction. Because as disappointed as I’d been in the Wii, I was even more disappointed in the PSP, and there was even less to look forward to on that platform.

Anyway. Wii Sports Resort is what Wii Sports should’ve been. It’s yet another collection of mini-games, in both single- and multi-player configurations, and the big difference in this collection is that the Wii Remote’s new add-on makes the Remote… more sensitive? It’s hard to explain what’s different about the Motion Plus controller add-on thing until you try the frisbee mini-game. Suffice it to say, it is as close to throwing an actual frisbee as one can get. Similarly, the ping-pong mini-game is remarkable, especially in terms of how you can throw different kinds of spin on your returns. I was as big a fan of Rockstar’s Table Tennis as anyone, but I must admit that the ping-pong game in WSR is arguably more engaging.

The rest of the mini-games are pretty hit or miss. Archery is certainly interesting; the sword-fighting game is fun but not particularly deep; bowling feels pretty much identical to the previous iteration, and golf is actually much harder now that the remote is more sensitive to wrist positioning. I suspect that I’ll play this just as long as my wife remains interested, and then that’ll probably be it.

—————————-

As long as the Wii was powered up, though, I figured it would maybe be a good time to get back into Super Mario Galaxy. I had been enjoying it thoroughly at first, but got hung up after getting my 15th star or so; then I tried to go back to the earlier levels to stock up on some easy 1-ups, and found that the game (smartly?) makes that prospect a bit trickier than I’d anticipated. In any event, I got past whatever it was that had gotten me stuck before, and now I guess I’m back in it. I’m up to 21 stars now, and I’m continually impressed with each new world’s mechanics. I suppose it could be argued that if the Wii produced nothing of value except SMG, it would still be worth a purchase. It could also be argued that the first half of the previous sentence is actually, literally true.

>More Wii: telling you what you already know

>My Wii code, should you want it, is: 3993 4497 6732 5460. There are lots of things to like about the Wii, but the integration of online functionality is not one of them. I’d had my Wii for 2 or 3 days before I accidentally stumbled across my Wii code, and then couldn’t remember how I found it. I’ve added a bunch of people to my address book, but I have no way of letting them know that I’ve done so. And, more to the point, I’m not really using my Wii for online gaming anyway; Mario Kart will be a rental, eventually, once I’m done with GTA4.

Oh, GTA4. To be honest, I’m kinda looking forward to the day when I’m able to complete a blog post without talking about GTA4. That said, I’m more looking forward to tomorrow, when I can finally start playing it. Haven’t quite decided whether to wait in line tonight or to just show up when the store opens at 10. BLAH BLAH BLAH

Anyway. I’m talking about the Wii, here, now.

It’s a shame that I’m only now getting into Mario Galaxy, since I’m about to put it back down for an indefinite period of time; it’s awesome. I’m about 12 or 13 stars into it; I played last night for a few hours or so and was kicking all sorts of ass, until I decided to check out the Sweet Sweet galaxy; I very promptly lost about 5 or 6 lives, right at the end. It was my fault for doing so – the level design was tough but fair, and my deaths were absolutely my responsibility, which I can accept – I’d rather it be my fault than a shitty camera or some sort of glitch. The level design continues to impress and astound, and the controls are freakishly intuitive, considering my unfamiliarity with the controllers.

Oh well. Niko > Mario. I can’t wait to jump on the hyperbole train; and anyway, that’s my train, I own it.