Monday, April 25, 2005

Now, I Buy All My Games at Cinnabon

This is 31 different flavors of disturbing to me.

Not necessarily because I'm against corporate mergery or anything (I'm not for it, mind, but I can certainly understand why, from a business perspective, it's good business), but because now I'm limited in the choices for game-purchasing.

Certainly, there still exists Best Buy, Circuit City, Target, Sams Club, Taco Bell, even...ugh...K-Mart, but if I want to find an obscure PS2 game, or an old PC game, or a used game on the cheap, my choices were pretty much limited to Gamestop, EB, or the Internet, and more often than not, the Internet is a dicey proposition for game retail. Not that I don't trust the major sites for the most part, but used game buying no matter where you go is kind of a shady, back alley dealing, where what you're buying is of questionable quality, but it's cheaper than new, which makes it easier to get your fix. However, at least in the case of EB or Gamestop, there was someone actually there to yell at if something went wrong.

Not that any of that will change. EB just moved into a bigger store here, so they're probably just going to move the Gamestop inventory over there, but it'd be nice if the threat still loomed that I could take my business elsewhere. Now, if I want to get a copy of Katamari Damacy for $14.99 there's only one place to go, and that's really too bad. Rare is the day when I would wish some other major retail chain would come swooping in to scarf up some of the "Pre-Played" game market (Game Crazy is trying very hard, but their selection is awful), but here we are.

Buuuuut, then again, maybe I'm just pissed because I liked the old ElBo dog. Dammit, that was one of my favorite cartoon video-game store mascots. Gamestop can suck it!

Err...on second thought, it's probably not a good idea to piss off the one shop left in town.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

You Can't Spell DVD Sales without Adam Sessler and Mooooorgan Webb!

Is it just me, or should the next wave in television be DVD On Demand?

Bear with me a moment please while I lay this out:

People LOVE buying TV Shows on DVD. Love it. I have ever season of Buffy and Angel ever on DVD. Now I hardly actually have to watch TV anymore, except when something I actually want to watch comes on. People also love Tivo, so that they can watch progams that they want to watch whenever they want, not whenever they come on. So what happens when you mesh the two ideas?

Not every show I ever want to watch will be released on DVD. I'm a big fan of G4TV's (formerly of G4TechTV and before that just Tech TV) X-Play, and while I wouldn't probably care about the reviews of some game from 2003, I'd love to have a handful of episodes of the show on DVD, for the fun of watching the show's lame/funny sketches or for fun on a lazy afternoon (oh, ok, for the lovely Miss Webb, too). The same goes for former TechTV program The Screen Savers. In fact, I can think of a million TV shows out there which will probably never see the light of DVD, that I'd loooove to see get put out just because I want to see them (I'd love, for example to have a DVD set of classic Letterman, or Conan, or Daily Show, which I realize is getting a limited release, but still).

I'm of the opinion that, if companies are going to save storehouses full of this material, they might as well digitize it and sell it to whoever wants it. Not for commercial use, mind, but just like any other TV show on DVD. Charge a nominal fee (say $19.99, the same as any other DVD movie) and let you pick and choose 8 gigs worth of material from a series of lists (Pick a Show, then Pick a Year, then an Episode). Then, some lackey or computer processing drone burns the DVD and ships it off. It makes customers happy because they get to see their favorite episode of something as many times as they want, and the companies make money off of crap that's just sitting in a warehouse collecting dust right now.

I understand there's tons of legal issues involved, and that the process would need to be streamlined as all hell to make sure that the right things were getting burned and that the process was automated as possible to ensure that everybody got their stuff and quickly, but really, I think this could be a wave of the future, and it's something that I'm sure I'm not the only one who would like to see this.


Sunday, April 17, 2005

Oh, and by the way:

Lord of the Rings Volume 3 should be out this week, barring any farm accidents, or Jeb's computer exploding again.

Tekken 5

Just got done playing Tekken 5 for the first time. My thoughts?

-I think the graphics are top notch, best of any fighting game on the PS2. The physics aren't great, but it's not really that kind of game. I would have liked to have seen "destructable environments that were actually destructable though. If you're going to take the time to animate parts of the floor shattering, why not keep it shattered? As it is now, only one spot of the floor can be broken at any given time.

-Sound is what it is. The cycling music and soundclips can grate a little bit, but it's not so bad that I turned it off or anything. Voice acting for the characters is bad, but somehow that fits in perfectly with the storylines presented in the game.

-Arcade ports for 1, 2, AND 3 is beyond awesome. WAY better than the extra features from Mortal Kombat: Deception.

-As for the gameplay...Tekken always has been kinda the most button mashy fighter out there. It's fun, and there IS strategy in there if you care to try to find it, but you don't need to to win. The first time I played through, I played as Law (my best character) and breased through it. I was almost ready to complain that the game was too easy, but then I played again.

I'll be quick to point out that I am inexperienced with most of the other fighters in the game, but the boss characters are just complete and utter crap. Devil Jin is, at least, defeatable, though a lot of his combos go foreeeever and his eye laser is a waste. I've beat the crap out of him only to lose to an eye laser, which pissed me off to no end. Junpachi Mushima, however, is the cheapest boss character I've ever fought. He has teleportation, cheap combos, juggles, ground combos, AND an unblockable fireball that takes approximately 40% of your heath when it hits. The only reliable way I've found of beating him is to be cheaper than the computer (using the old "Goro method" of finding one move that seems to work, and just repeating that move until he dies), which isn't "challenging" as I'm sure Namco thought it would be, but annoying.

The ending cutscenes range from "interesting" to "funny", and come in all manner of types. Some advance key Tekkenverse plots, while some just seem to be thrown in as an admission that "This character needs an ending." Law's for example is funny, but not particularily interesting. Also, it's interesting to note that a few characters have different endings. Most characters have full CGI cutscenes that give their story, but some just get a little blurb or even anime. It's weird that they wouldn't just give everybody the same treatment (I wouldn't mind an anime short for each character now that I think about it), but you can't please all of the people all of the time.

I haven't really fooled around with much of the extra stuff (especially the action adventure game "The Devil Within"), but it's still a solid arcade fighter if that's your thing. Just keep plenty of Advil nearby for the Jupachi related headaches.

I'll give it a 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Blah Blah Blah

I'm really in love with SONY's marketing prowess. Really, I am. They've taken what has been a pretty "eh" debut for their system, slapped as much glitz and glamor and celebrity commercials as they could on it, and made me feel less a man for not having the $500 it would cost for me to own a servicable copy of their handheld system ($250 for the system, $150 for the memory sticks, $50 for Metal Gear, $50 for some other game to play that isn't Metal Gear). I mean, it's just plain unfathomable to believe that I should pay that much just for a gaming rig like that. That's roughly half of what I spent on my PC, which can do about a thousand other different things other than "run out of batteries in the middle of my game".

Now before you get started, understand that I do believe there is a future for the PSP. I think SONY is on to something here with the multi-functionality, the pretty screen, the marketing, but not at twice what one would be expected to pay for a home console (any one of which has dozens more and better games than are currently available for the PSP). Part of what chaps my proverbial hide, I think, is the fact that SONY despirately desires to throw what a technical marvel the PSP is into Nintendo's face. Nintendo, however, despite having a similar software shortage, is selling just as many of its "one note" systems with the DS, not to mention the mind boggling catalog that people have for the GBA (which comes in at less that a third of the price of the PSP, with worse graphics to be sure, but with a much better library.

I don't know. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

On the Wisconsin Film Festival:

I had a blast...I think? I don't know. Here's a rundown of what I saw:

-The "Craig Stadler Project was a very interesting collection of old videos done pre-MTV by a Minnesota local. Lots of kind of weird and eclectic acts in there. Devo, Elvis Costello, Tiny Tim, a guy rocking a saw, and a video done by some guys from Devo, done about what Devo would have been like when they were kids. Apparently a flying midget would have been involved. I'm sad that we missed that period.
-Chris Gore of and was a very interesting lecture. He obviously knows the inside outs of the Indie Film Scene, but he manages to be one of the few people I've met there that didn't come off as pompous and/or rude. In fact, his talk, which went for a couple hours at least, was both informative and *gasp* entertaining. I had a chance to talk with him and take a few pictures afterwards. Very nice guy.
-I...uh...don't remember much about the "Shynola Retrospective." I do remember some kittens playing instruments and some monkeys and a guy getting eaten by a squirrel. I was told that I had a good time.
-The people on the Film Festival scene need to tone down the snobbery. It's that attitude that often gets them the Indie rap they so desire, though, I guess. I had fun playing the part walking through to some of the events. Really though, your film about three guys sitting in a room talking about how much America sucks isn't making money for a reason.
-I really wish I could have caught the documentary on Madison-Area legend "Piccolo Guy". This is a guy who dresses up in a blaze orange hunting suit, and almost every day for my entire college career, sat on Library Mall and played a really weird variety of songs. On a piccolo. I guess the Library Mall vendors hate him, and he's built up a lot of enemies.
-I saw a really funky MIDI technology that tunes in to the speed, intensity and tone of the notes of various orchestra instruments (the demonstration was only for piano, but could be applied elsewhere). The demo only showed it being able to move and display simple still images, but the possibilities are pretty much endless. One could, for example, choreographic an entire animated fight scene, using just the various sections of the orchestra to determine the intensity, momentum, and just the general ebb and flow of the fight. The future is awesome!

Being in Madison made me remember how badly I need a job and a girlfriend. And how much I'd love to move back into town. But, such is life, I guess.

That's it for now, I think. I'll write again later. Lord of the Rings stuff coming up next week. I'm very excited.

As Inauspicious Beginning as Possible

This is the first post on this blog. Please, have a seat and your waiter will be with you shortly.