Friday, November 30, 2007

Article on Wii.


Read it and Wiip: Nintendo Wii still a hard find

By Dan Whisenhunt
Star Staff Writer

The Nintendo Wii demo at the Best Buy in the Oxford Exchange glows with a soft blue light.

But there are no Wiis for sale.

The video game console records players’ movements. But nothing is moving faster than Wiis from the store shelves, retailers say.

They say shipments, when they get them, are small. And the sales figures show why.


Read more here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Wii chase continues

Waaaaaaaaay before Thanksgiving, one of my co-workers named Debbie said she wanted to buy a Wii for her granddaughter. I told her, given the shortages this year, she needed to snap one up ASAP.

She didn't listen- and here's what happened:

Dan, Dan, Dan,


Shopping for a Nintendo Wii game system reminds me of trying to catch butterflies. You see it landing here and there, but as you get close enough to catch the little critter, it flies away. Geeze….. I should have listened to you!

My experience was going to be simple. Just help daughter-in-law find one for my granddaughter. She had been calling and visiting the local stores-Wal-Mart in Oxford & Lenlock, Target, KB Toys and Best Buy. I called Wal-Mart in Jacksonville, then Circuit City and K-Mart. The lady at K-Mart said, “Let me tell you what’s going on with the Wii.

“We’ve been told not to sell them until Thanksgiving, so we’ll put out the 5 we have then.”

She went on to say that they may put them out a day or two earlier than Thanksgiving but I’d have to get there before the doors open.

Oh me… this was getting tense. I hopped on-line to see what was happening on Ebay with this Wii and the prices were all over-the-board. I hesitated, still believing I could find one locally. Daughter-in-law only wanted the basic system advertised in local circulars for about $249.

The next day I decided to call the 1-800 number on the Circuit City circular and the ‘voice’ said “if you are calling about the Wii (and some other thing) press 1”. Did that… and it then said “if you are calling about the Wii, we are out of stock and can’t help you.” WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME THAT IF THE FIRST PLACE? Geeze….again.

The next-next day I hopped back on-line and counted up my money (from daughter-in-law) and went to shopzilla.com. It started with the lowest prices and up, from different vendors.
HUM….. what to do… what to do…..

There it was…. Bundled with Princess Zelda….. $441 (before anything else.) I decided I wanted it in my hands as quickly as possible, so I paid extra for expedited shipping. Wham-bam I placed the order. It came out to be $485.84 and I expected to receive it in about 7 days.

In the meantime, I had friends scouting out different stores for the sucker with sightings her and there. Were they sure it was a Wii?

A week later to the day, it arrived. (Happy days are here again…) Sorry I just had to break out into a song.

Update… daughter-in-law checked the website I used to buy the Wii and told me the “best” price was now at $595.00 for the same EXACT system bundle.

Dan… you warned me several weeks ago if we wanted a Wii, we’d better buy it right then. I should have listened to you.

Merry Christmas!


Debbie

Mr. T "World of Warcraft" ad can do no wrong

I love the advertisements for "World of Warcraft." Making Mr. T. part of your marketing strategy can never be wrong.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Alleged child-killers met playing "World of Warcraft."

The couple accused of doing harm to "Baby Grace," met playing "World of Warcraft.".

Sad.

ArsTechnica questions WiFi-Autism Link Story

Some of you may have picked this up over the holidays. Apparently, tech news service Ars Technica did a write-up on the claims being made that WiFi leads to Autism.


One key point from Ars Technica:

The college behind the journal dates from the 1980s, but currently lists its mailing address as a PO box. It has affiliations with various other integrative and herbal medicine organizations in Australia. Overall, it appears to be an obscure organization that is operating near the fringes of mainstream medical practices. None of this actually impeaches the research itself (I've requested a copy of the paper, but have not yet received it), but results of this significance would be expected to appear in a higher-profile publication if the research were solid.

Other questions are raised by the two authors of the study itself. One of them, Dr. George Carlo, is based at what appears to be a Washington lobbying group. Carlo seems to believe that individuals sensitive to wireless signals exist, despite evidence to the contrary, and claims that there is a well-substantiated mechanism for explaining their existence. I've tracked the literature in this area, and I'm unaware of any such mechanism.

The second author is Tamara Jo Mariea, who has an undergraduate degree in biochemistry and several professional certificates in clinical nutrition. Neither appears to be associated with any academic medical facility, an appearance furthered by the fact that the contacts on the press release have AOL and Verizon e-mail addresses




Hat tip to, Joystiq.com for the link.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Games over the holidays

Went to Katrina's house for a day trip Thursday, since she had to work the holiday. One of the big downsides to the Wii, in my opinion, is its hard to transport. Once you transport it, you have to hook up the sensor bar, resynchronize the controls....etc.

Just a big pain. I would've brought the PS3, but I decided instead to rely on my old standby, the Nintendo DS. I made some pass-through stabs at "Final Fantasy III." It's a good game, in theory, but I made some big mistakes when I started playing it the last time around. Suffice it to say that you can't undo anything when you've screwed yourself over that early in the game. So I'm taking a slow, methodical approach to job-building. But, of course, I can't really invest the time required to best a game like "FFIII" or "World of Warcraft." Other games demand my attention.

I got a copy of "The Simpson's" game for DS and its as I suspected: a competent, irreverent romp through one of my favorite TV realities. I am still hankering for "Assassin's Creed" and may break down and buy the thing before its all said and done.

"Mario Galaxy" owns my soul. I may have given it a not-perfect rating, but the reasoning seems intact. The Wii, given its low-availability and high expectations, deserves a harsher standard of criticism. We, frankly, expect much more from the innovation of Nintendo than we do from the water-treading of Sony or Microsoft. Just the curse of the blessing of success.

I beat one of the hardest Bowser levels I've ever played in my life today. It was just amazing.

Of course, when things get stale, there's always my old "Mario Kart DS" standby- until "Mario Kart Wii" comes out.

This year I was finally able to get my brother something he wanted for Christmas. When I brought my PS3 home last time around, my bro (who played college ball) played "MLB 2007 The Show" and developed a massive craving. When he found out he could play the thing online for free, there was very little to stop him from getting one. So my parents, being the kind-hearted souls they are, bought the PS3 and he's rented the MLB game ever since. Normally, Christmas shopping for my brother who has everything is the equivalent to pouring money down a drain. But I finally got my chance to get him a present I know he'll actually appreciate and use. And, oddly enough, its a way better feeling than getting something I so dearly want. (I actually can't think of a thing I dearly want, to be honest. Got a wonderful fiance, a good job, a Wii, DS and PS3. And until Alabama can beat Auburn, that pretty much covers it.)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Column for Nov. 24

‘Galaxy’ a great game, not perfect

The early reviews for “Super Mario Galaxy” are beyond good. They’re off the charts.

Gamerankings.com has it listed as its highest-rated game, besting the classic “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.” Nintendo has spent a good amount of press saying “Super Mario Gal-axy” is the spiritual successor to “Super Mario 64.”

They aren’t far off.

The biggest strength of “Galaxy,” just as it was in “Mario 64,” is the innovation. “Galaxy” really makes you think and adjust for the gravity of each of the planets you visit. Taking the adventure into space with a whole new set of physics to get used to was a masterstroke for Nintendo.

The story sounds familiar. Bowser, an evil fire-breathing lizard, captures Princess Peach. Mario must traverse the cosmos, collecting power stars and finding a path to Bowser’s doorstep.

The plot for “Mario 64” was truly non-linear. The worlds were easy to explore and there were multiple missions. The linear storyline of “Galaxy” makes the game all too easy at times. One of the best things about “Mario 64” was trying to decipher what you needed to do to get the star from the often-cryptic descriptor. Here, a quick cut scene at the beginning of each mission often shows the path or final destination.

The camera angles are not as functional as we’d like from a game with such an immersive 3D world. It doesn’t offer any decent two-player options that we can see, but we’re still playing.

“Galaxy” offers up an experience for the Wii not available until this point. It’s an immersive experience, where it’s easy to save your progress and pick things up where you left off.

Like any good game, playing for a few hours provides a sense of satisfaction and accomplish-ment. Some levels are genuinely fun to explore while others drive us insane. In other words, it’s a “Mario” game, one that will have to keep on giving for awhile. “Super Smash Brothers Brawl” isn’t due out for another few months.

But cheer up, button pushers. After all, there’s always an extra life waiting for you in the box by the space ship when you start up “Galaxy.”

“Galaxy” gets four and one half buttons. It’s not perfect but it’s a great game to have if you own a Wii.

Co-written by John Dietrich.

‘John Woo Presents Stranglehold’

You know what makes a great game? When your character can slow down time. Bullets, while normally pretty cool by themselves, look even sweeter when they’re whizzing by you in slow motion.

“John Woo Presents Stranglehold” for the PlayStation 3 is pretty uninspired stuff, like a Grade C action flick. The main character’s name is Inspector Tequila, a rogue cop who plays by his own rules. The game goes downhill from there.

There’s a lot of broken glass and things blowing up. Oh, and he slides over table surfaces with his butt when he bumps up against them. Because, you know, sliding over things is cool.

And did I mention he could slow down time?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Arcade gaming finds ‘redemption’: Owners say business is still profitable


Nothing gets by Dale Togni.

The manager of the Time Out Arcade at Quintard Mall in Oxford watches the neon-lit playground, making sure it’s a family-friendly place.

Business depends on it.

“It’s one of the few safe places to bring your family in Calhoun County,” Togni said. “I don’t let the hoodlums hang out.”

Parents looking for fun diversions for their kids out of school this holiday season are in luck — the arcade gaming business in Calhoun County is alive and well.

Read the rest here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

"Super Mario Galaxy"



Me and Dietrich cracked open "Super Mario Galaxy" for the Wii- been playing it since 9 p.m. Worth the wait? Definitely. This is the best Mario game I've seen and a worthy successor to "Mario 64." (Now that I think about it, releasing a version of "64" on the DS makes a lot more sense.)

Cool graphics, decent story and a lot of fun. A good reason to own a Wii.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cool California band half-time show.



In other news, I'm playing "Mario 64:DS" for- you guessed it- the DS Lite. Overall, its a good game with workable controls. And it looks mighty spiffy. A worthy addition to the DS library. More in next week's column.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy Birthday, Ever Quest II

Got the following from Sony Online Entertainment this morning:

EverQuest II celebrates its 3rd birthday Friday, November 9th, 2007!
As a birthday present to all of our faithful EQII players who have been subscribed continuously since day one, and who own all the expansions, the EQII team is unleashing 4-year Veteran Rewards today!

Check out www.EQ2Players.com for more information on Vet Rewards and SOEpress.com for some candid photos proving that the EQII dev team takes the cake…birthday cake that is!

To further continue the celebration, we have also created a one-of-a-kind EQII Montage Video that puts some nostalgic retrospect on the last 3+ years of EQII development. Several veteran EQII developers share their memories and favorite moments while working on EQII from pre-launch all the way through the upcoming launch of Kunark. Some even get a little teary eyed, so grab some tissues before you watch. Please feel free to share this video with your communities; directions for download are below:

FTP: sdftp1.station.sony.com

Username: exclpress

Password: vu3pesw6

ftp://exclpress@sdftp1.station.sony.com

Folder: /EverQuest II/EQII 3rd BDay Video

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Column For Sat. Nov. 10

‘Ratchet’ blows away video realm
Ever wonder what it would be like if outer space were populated by talking animals and robots?

Then you should see “Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction.”

This game certifies the Sony PlayStation 3’s status as a big, bad machine. It’s about as close as you can get to being inside a Pixar movie.

“Ratchet and Clank” is the latest adventure for Ratchet, an inter-galactic hero who looks like a cross between a fox and a cat, and Clank, his robotic sidekick. The villain, Emperor Tachyon, wants Ratchet dead.

As the name would suggest, the game is set in the future and features a variety of cool weapons. As Ratchet and Clank hop from planet to planet, they complete different missions and collect new gadgets.

“Ratchet” blows the competition away with its jaw-dropping three-dimensional worlds. Everywhere you tilt the camera, there’s something going on. No one ever said Nintendo has the market cornered on family fare. With deft characterization and oddball humor, “Ratchet” is a real charmer.

The familiar control scheme was easy to learn. I dove right into this and didn’t come up for air until the game was almost overdue at Hollywood Video. “Tools of Destruction” stands up and demands a rating of five buttons out of five. Good show.

Like ‘Guitar Hero’?
No. “Guitar Hero,” “Rock Band” and any similar game coming down the chute can bite me. Did you see the new episode of South Park on Wednesday? That pretty much sums up my attitude.

All the time people spend pretending they’re in a rock band could be better spent, oh, I don’t know –– learning to play an actual instrument.

Are games like these bad? No. They are simply an asinine substitute for hard work and creativity, things easily traded for a game with a few cool gadgets piping out half-remembered songs.

Rock on, “Guitar Hero” worshippers. The appeal is lost on me.

‘Duck Amuck’

“Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck” for Nintendo’s DS is a fairly-well executed concept. It’s a spin-off of the old Warner Brothers cartoon where Daffy Duck is poked and prodded by an omniscient animator. (In the cartoon’s case, it was Bugs Bunny.)

Stab Daffy with your stylus. Close the DS on him. Shut him up, push him around. The madder he gets, the better your score.

Most of this game consists of mini-games. I’m not wild about mini-games in general, but here it kind of works. “Amuck” creates a nice diversion.

The game’s developers could provide a little more direction. The game is stylus-driven but learning game play was mostly trial-and-error. Since the game doesn’t really add up to anything important, learning wasn’t as frustrating as it sounds.

“Amuck” is nothing but a simple story about one man, his stylus and one tormented duck. I think I saw a “Far Side” cartoon like that once. “Amuck” gets 3Z\x buttons out of five.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Hackers go over the head of ratings board in "Manhunt"

Once again, the futility of product limitations makes someone get creative. Necessity is the mother of invention, so I hear.

By Associated Press

BLOODY MESS: The initial version of "Manhunt 2" was gory enough to earn an "adults only" warning from the panel that rates video games. So publisher Rockstar Games blurred out enough of the nasty bits to get the rating lowered to "mature," which is how the game ended up on store shelves last week.

But it only took hackers about 24 hours to un-blur the footage, leading to more headaches for the rating board and more headlines for Rockstar. The hack only works on the PlayStation Portable version of the game, and only on PSPs that have been illegally modified.

Read more here.

Monday, November 5, 2007

"Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction"


I've been playing"Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction" for the PS3 and all I can say is, "wow."

The PS3 is a big bad machine and "Ratchet" does it right- everywhere you look in this expansive 3d world, something is happening. It's about as close as you'll come to being inside a Pixar movie. The writing is just hilarious.

So I'm in. Love this game. It's a must-have, if you own a PS3.

More in this week's column.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Pushing Buttons, for Saturday- Nov. 3

‘MySims’ — When cute won’t cut it

“MySims” is a game for Nintendo’s Wii. And that’s about all I can say for it, really. My friend called it “frustration in a box.” I’d say “MySims” is a monumental pile.

For those not familiar with the Sims series, there’s not much to it. You create characters, build homes and decorate them according to your tastes. “MySims” is just a cuter, dolled-up version of the same concept. But unlike the others, “MySims” feels like it rode to the Wii on the short bus.

Another thing I wanted to say about the game is … wait, loading, this may take a few moments …

The load times. Are you kidding me? The way this game drags it’s like the developers at Electronic Arts didn’t play it before they shipped it. Inane conversations require two-minute waits to complete. The story — such as it is — lurches forward like a junk car.

Who wrote this stuff anyway? “MySims” billed itself the way a lot of Wii games bill themselves — it’s a cuddly, family friendly bowl of syrup. But sometimes cute doesn’t cut it. I appreciate games that appeal to a wider-audience of traditional non-gamers. But I don’t know if people who have lobotomies are a good market for Nintendo.

The tasks in this game are tedious and pointless. There was also no obvious way for me to save the game. Every time I picked up the game it was a waste of my time.

If there is one redeeming quality, it (may) be the character-creation system. It’s fun to use, though I wish you could use your player-created Mii avatars in the game. The characters look like they could be Miis from a distance.

But being able to upload Mii avatars would’ve made the game fun and interesting. And that’s obviously the opposite of what EA was going for.

I give this “MySims” one-half button out of five, which basically means the game exists. It will make a fine addition to the bottom of Circuit City’s bargain basement bin, someday.

‘Brawl’ delayed

I fully expected to play “Super Smash Brothers Brawl” this Christmas while unwrapping all of my other fun gizmos and gadgets. But Nintendo has pushed back the release date again. This time, it’s February 2008.

This game is one of the major reasons I bought the Wii. For reasons I don’t understand, game developers do this sort of thing a lot. They tease us with beautiful previews and get our hopes up, only to pull the rug out from under us.

Developers should just pick a date and stick to it; these moving targets suck.

Satellite for sure

I recently bought an XM radio and I have to say, satellite is the best deal out there. As mainstream commercial radio deteriorates into a vapid wasteland of car commercials, derivative disc jockeys and annoying sound effects, satellite radio provides a tantalizing oasis.

Sure it’ll cost ya — about $13 a month for one receiver. But there are very few commercials, a plethora of options. There is a larger world out there, musically speaking.