The Collector’s Edition

August 27, 2010

What is it about the shiny tin case, the art books, exclusive DLC items and other trinkets that clutter up our desk and shelves that make us shell out that extra $10 to $100 plus to pick up the collector’s edition of the latest game?  I will be the first to admit that I’m enticed by them and even have a few of them on my own shelf.  I have a Master Chief helmet, Dragon Age cloth map and Mass Effect 2 art book to name a few items from may latest collector’s editions purchases.

What caused me to sit back and evaluate the wisdom in it all is when I picked up the collector’s edition of Starcraft 2.  In the past I’ve only purchased the collector’s edition when it was a franchise I loved to play and I was going to start the game on release date.  In this case I picked it up just because it was “cool”.  I’ve never finished on RTS in my life and as for the original Starcraft I never got past the 6th or 7th mission of the Terran campaign.  I think more than anything collector’s editions awaken the geek collector in most of us who play games and developers know that.  As we progress I think they are going to become more prevalent and outlandish as development studios attempt to soak every last dollar they can out of us.  Night vision goggles or remote controlled camera car anyone?  How about a nice dagger or boomerang to go on that shelf?  I will most likely buy the collector’s edition of the next Mass Effect, Dragon Age and The Old Republic, but I think I will have to say no to Starcraft 2 and the rest of them.  Let me know what your opinion on the matter is.  All I can say is having a Thor pet in WOW would have been cool.

Black Dot on a White Canvas

July 21, 2010

During my junior year in high school my class took a field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art.  While walking through the halls one painting caught my eye.  It was a very large white canvas with a big black dot in the middle.  What made it even better was the name of the painting which you most likely guessed based on the title was “Black Dot on a White Canvas”.  Standing there I honestly couldn’t believe that this was hanging in a museum of art.  Looking at this thing all I could think was that a ten year old with a stencil could have created this painting and these guys were calling it fine art.

I had never thought about video games as art till Roger Ebert made his infamous statement that “Video games can never be art.”.  I honestly don’t know how this statement can be taken seriously when you look at some of the garbage that people consider to be art.  Art is so subjective that trying to classify what is and isn’t art is a pretty futile exercise.  As we have always heard “Art is in the eye of the beholder”, so how can one medium be labeled as art while another is so easily dismissed.  Mass Effect 2 stands as one of the best experiences I have ever had playing a game and was better than any movie I watched or book I read this year.  In my opinion video games stand shoulder to shoulder with books and movies and their popularity is growing everyday.  As it stands now the video game industry is bigger than Roger Ebert’s movie industry.  Overall I feel that as video games become more popular their acceptance by main stream sources will grow as well.  At the rate things are moving I doubt it will be long before video games are accepted as a true art medium.

3DS – 3D Without the glasses!

June 17, 2010

Since the recent re-emergence of 3D in the movie industry I have been very leery of how this would affect our beloved game industry.  With the success of Avatar we knew it was only a matter of time before 3D in gaming would become the new marketing battle cry.  I honestly would rather not have it if the experience mimicked the movies as Sony is looking to do.  The tint in the glasses darkens the screen and I have thought that overall image seems blurry as compared to a non 3D film.  Don’t ge me wrong, Avatar was an amazing visual experience and Monster vs. Aliens is by far my favorite 3D movie but I just don’t feel that experience lends itself well to gaming.  Wearing glasses for 2-3 hours for a movie is one thing.  Wearing them for a 50+ hour play through of Mass Effect 2 is another.  I have said that if they could do 3D without the glasses then I would be interested.

With that being said Nintendo’s showing at E3 has me very excited for a 3D experience.  When I frist heard about the 3DS I was afraid it would be just a gimmick, but based on all the review I have read Nintendo has pulled off 3D without the glasses!  I think this innovation will once again place Nintendo nicely at the top of the handheld industry keeping the iPhone at close second.  I’ve honestly never seen the PSP as a true competitor in this market but that’s for another post.  I’m now looking froward to the 3DS release and will be first in line to place my pre-order.  The inital first party game library looks absolutely amazing and with the 3rd party lineup that Nintendo showed off it looks like the 3DS will have very bright future.

Wii Motion Plus – Round 2?

May 24, 2010

I have to admit I was late to the game when it comes to Wii Motion plus.  It looked interesting enough and I’m always up for some Mii inspired mini-games but with early support for only Wii Sports Resort and Tiger Woods 10 it didn’t seem worth the money.  I recently purchased a new Wii for my daughter and it came packed in with Wii Sports Resort and the Wii motion plus attachment.  The attachment does make the controller much more responsive and Wii Sports Resort is a lot of fun but is that it?  Looking at the list of games that currently support the Motion Plus the only other notable game on the list is Red Steel 2.  With more than 16 million units sold adoption has been high so I doubt developers are worried about users not having the device to support a game.  Now that we see Nintendo providing the attachment bundled with the console along with retailers creating bundles and discounts for the attachment one has to wonder if there are more supported games on the way.  After using the device I really hope that Nintendo and third-parties begin to use the attachment.  With Natal and Move about to launch Nintendo needs to get on the ball with a second round of promoting this new technology.  Wii Motion Plus is great tech but if developers fail to leverage it soon I fear the Wii may find itself playing catch-up.

PAC-MAN turns 30

May 21, 2010

There are few games that I played more in the arcade and on the Atari than PAC-MAN.  PAC-MAN is also one of the few games where the main man reached iconic status rivaled only by Mario.  The game play was simple yet addictive and was one of the few early games that was fun to play for hours.  Google is honoring PAC-MAN today with one of the best logos I think they have done to date.  Check out the link below and enjoy the old school goodness that is PAC-MAN.

Google PAC-MAN logo

A better way to trade

May 17, 2010

What do you do when you complete a game?  I usually hold on to the  really good games or games that have a high replay value.  For the rest I either sell\trade to a friend or hold my nose and list them on Ebay or trade them in at GameStop.  Recently I came across another option that I think gives you the most bang for the buck.

Goozex is an online trading service that matches you up with others looking for the game you have.  When a trade is completed you get a point value deposited into your account.  For newer games you will usually get full credit which is usually 1000 points which is $50.00 to use to trade for games that you have in your queue.  So far I have completed several trades and the process is very smooth.  You also have the option of purchasing points but I don’t recommend this as you can get better deals elsewhere, but if you are trading an actual game you get a better value for it than you would anywhere else.

The fee for the service is only one dollar per transaction and if you are trading your game you pay the shipping to the customer but that is it which isn’t bad at all.  In a day where GameStop give you nothing and Ebay’s fees keep climbing higher and higher this service is definitely worth looking into.  Overall I have been very satisfied with the process.  Check out the link the below for more info on the service.

 Goozex site

Where do Wii go from here?

May 12, 2010

The past 25 years have been a true rollercoaster ride for Nintendo.  They dominated the industry with the NES and SNES and then slid into second and third with the N64 and Game Cube.  Now they find themselves once again comfortably back on top with the Wii which at times seems like a money printing machine.  Nintendo has always impressed me in that it is what I consider to be the only true video game company.  Unlike Microsoft and Sony Nintendo relies solely on the success of its consoles and games to succeed.  It has no fortune 5o0 company piggy bank backing it up and has survived effectively in the cut throat world of the console wars.

Nintendo has also consistently revolutionized the industry by giving us the first D-pad with the NES, expanding our world into multiple dimensions with Mario 64 and the current revolution that is motion control.  It is comical at times to see the same people who bashed motion control now promoting variations of it on their own consoles.

The one major complaint that I have always had with Nintendo is the lack of top-tier third-party titles.  Since the release of the N64 Nintendo hasn’t come close to the competition with third-party support.  Nintendo’s salvation comes from its innovation and its iconic first party franchises which make up some of the best games in video game history.  As we speak games like Mari Kart Wii, Wii Fit and Super Mario Bros. Wii continue to top the sales charts for months on end.  Nintendo does needs to invest in better hardware as well as increase their support of third-party titles.  It also wouldn’t hurt them to do a complete overhaul of their online strategy.  Super Mario Bros Wii is a great game but it would be that much better if the co-op\multiplayer could be done easily online.

Nintendo has rarely ceased to impress and does so at times going completely against conventional wisdom.  I have thought for a long time that the Wii has been test run for what is to come much in the same way the DS Phat was for the handheld market.  I think at minimum some form of the Wii HD is on the horizon if not something that will kick off the next revolution in gaming.  I can’t wait to see what Nintendo has to offer next.  I’m sure it will be amazing.  I just hope that the next time around they will work on some of the issues that have been plaguing them as well as work on bringing in more external developers along for the ride.