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FEATURED VOXPOP oblivion437     In all the talk of graphical downgrades no one seems much preoccupied with 'why?'.  Why build something and then proceed to tear it down, piece by piece, in the hope that ever more diminished expectations about the final product won't be severe enough to...

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At a Loss
Posted on Tuesday, July 28 2009 @ 13:10:42 Eastern

I have no right to complain about life, since I have lead a decent one compared to most, but I am just at such a loss as to what I even want to do with myself right now.

Ive been attempting for a year to get into teaching full time, and so far it's been met with nothing but dissapointment because New York State, thanks to the "esteemed" Mayor Bloomburg, that ****ing ****, decided to impose a state wide freeze for hiring teachers. What's funny is that I can't apply for my own licence, even though I have certification, because of this freeze, meaning I can not even apply for a job anywhere in New York.

So I am stuck being a substitute para-professional for the city, meaning I get called at 6 AM unannounced to work for kids who are emotionally disturbed, abuse you on a daily basis physically and mentally, grow tired with each passing day in working with the kids, and grow more and more fustrated because no matter how much I try to build a relationship with them, they will never respect me enough just because I am an adult and a substitute.

It's sad, really. The whole reason I got into teaching is because I wanted to help kids. Now, they don't want the help back when I try to.

Couple that with a bullshit job at Gamestop that I really don't like, graduate school burning money left and right just to get myself into better position to be a college teacher, and lack of caring of my subject of interest because of the fact that it's killing any semblence of what teaching and objectivity really is, (namely, the professors in grad school, here at the illustrius College of Staten Island, are so full of themselves I want to smack them in the face to knock off the pompus bullshit act they preform all the ****ing time.) I don't even feel motivated to finish a 15 page research paper on Ethnic issues in the Congo anymore, despite reading ten books in a month and pretty much sacrificing my entire summer to do so.

What is the point of continuing if i am going nowhere still? I keep going on as long as I can because I am hopeful something will happen in the long run, something good will come up and I get a permanent job somewhere. I am hopeful that these graduate classes will get better, and that, despite how easy it is to cram and write out 7 pages a day on a subject, doing it slowly is how to get an A over a B in these type of classes. But with so much **** going on in the background, it's difficult to focus.

Of course this is all temporary in the end. Like I said, I have no right to complaign how shitty my own life is, because these problems are pretty banal when compared to others I know. But that is life for you. Struggles are a part of it, and i'll be damned if I can't vent every now or then. Id just go crazy if I couldn't.

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Facing Changes, Choosing None
Posted on Tuesday, July 21 2009 @ 15:28:24 Eastern

They say that you are often harsher on the ones you love. When a family member did something stupid, or a girlfriend said something nasty, people push back because they have a deep affection for them, and eventually work out their problems through various means. True love and passion comes from solving differences, and accepting changes and compromises from others.

But, sometimes it is very hard to accept change. Hell, it is natural almost to reject it after you become comfortable in your routines. And it is also hard to compromise and stay true to those compromises, something many have attempted to and failed to do over the years, from politicians to athletes, entertainers to editors.

Why all of this sentimental stuff? As a long time gamer, one company has often stood out over the rest due to their innovation and their quality of work, and that company was Nintendo. The Japanese giant not only saved video games, but is arguably the pioneers of commercial video game playing today, thanks in part of the Nintendo Entertainment System, or the Famicon in Japan. With the help of visionaries such as Shigeru Miyamoto and Gunpei Ioki, Nintendo created some the most memorable franchises in video game history, from the Legendary Zelda series to the iconic Mario Bros. series. It goes without question that Nintendo is the most celebrated and adored video game publisher in the world.

But that was then. For all of Nintendo’s achievements, therein lies one, fundamental problem, and that is Nintendo’s adversary to change. Nintendo as a company has been a leader in video game consoles since 1984, but it was during the past decade, in the onset of the 3-D era, that the golden age of video game makers began to falter, leading to both positive and negative innovations in today’s video game market.

Nintendo’s problem is that with each new generation of consoles, there is a major adherence to do things their own way. While commendable, negative aspects often emerge and prove somewhat fatal to the consoles created. The 64 bit era brought Nintendo’s final cartridge console, the Nintendo 64. While the console was powerful, small, and very efficient, the limitations of cartridges were showing, thanks to poor musical qualities, use of static pictures, and graphical slowdown (until the expansion pack came out, which became required for some high-end games like Perfect Dark and Donkey Kong 64.) plagued many games on the system. While most of these are aesthetic problems, the hardware unable to match the larger capacity for disc and DVD games being put forth by the Playstation and Playstation 2, created by Sony.

It is worth mentioning that Nintendo had a deal with Sony to create a system that would have been produced by the company, but the deal fell flat in 1995. This lead to Sony going solo, creating the Playstation one system and the rest is basically history. While it is still unclear why Nintendo refused to use discs, the overall impact of that decision changed the landscape of video games forever.

While the Nintendo 64 was still a successful system, it was the lack of conformity that doomed the next project, the Nintendo Gamecube. A system again, was at best mediocre in graphics but had some astonishing gameplay advances, put forth some great products. The problems again were the formats of the discs, which Nintendo embraced, in a mini format. These discs lead to a lack of DVD usage again, and more importantly online support and connectivity, which was experimented on in the Playstation 2 and fully implemented on the Microsoft X-Box, the new competitor in the market. Once again, Nintendo offered connectivity between their hand-held games and the Gamecube only, using game link cables as the connector to consoles. While Nintendo-published games essentially pimped this idea, 3rd party support, already waning, was almost non-existent on the console.

With the advent of the 7th generation, Nintendo’s trump card was the Nintendo Wii, a console which uses the motion control scheme to play games. While innovative, charming, and capable of taking games to new territory, once again Nintendo drops the ball on many aspects that would solidify their position today. For one, online connectivity is available, but through the use of friend codes, instead of a service that connects all such as X-box Live or the Playstation Network. These cumbersome codes make friend making on the system very difficult and at best offer short, quick online matches for specific games only.

Nintendo, in an attempt to focus on their new control scheme with the Nintendo Wii, decided to change their market strategy, one that has proved to be successful if only initially. Casual gaming is a mainstream industry, thanks to cheap flash games like Peggle and Bejeweled, “casual” gamers have drifted towards the console for quick fixes and simple minded fun. Also thanks to this market, however, are rampant shovelware titles that are created for quick cash in’s, flooding the Wii’s market with game after game filled with poor control implementation, mini-games and cheap gameplay value. This also leaves good games in Nintendo’s library, such as Capcom’s “Zack and Wiki”, or THQ’s “De Blob”, with low sales despite utilizing the controls of the system to their benefit.

 The problems with shovelware aside, the technical capabilities of the Nintendo Wii are blown out of the water by the two major competitors’, this time the X-Box 360 and the Playstation 3. Both boost a stronger game library, more third party support options that do not fit a “casual” market only, and arguably better first party game experiences. Nintendo, in an attempt to focus on the non-gamers, has alienated the gamers themselves, and what’s more, Microsoft and Sony are now attempting to cash into the “casual” crowd their motion controller schemes and emerging casual gaming markets.

So where does this leave Nintendo? Many fanboys would let the big N go on these missed opportunities out of support for their great franchises, despite great titles by Mario and Zelda every now and then, it seems that Nintendo is quick to embrace nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake. Their primary first party games, while often the best games created, as many would attest to, are based off of their previous achievements. The only new franchises that can be considered a success for gamers is the Pikmin series, developed for the Nintendo Gamecube, while other series such as Nintendogs, and the Wii series, are viewed as by-products of the “casual” push by many hardcore gamers. Even major series, such as Mario and Metroid, have suffered a bit due to the lack of innovation put forth from previous efforts by Nintendo, and sometimes rightfully so.

But this is just the tip of the iceburg for the company. With the eventual onset of digital downloads, where can Nintendo go from here? The world of video games is changing again after almost twelve years of using discs and 3-D graphics. Nintendo has shown it is ardent to follow its own path, but the choices made along the way have been at best questionable, and at worst disastrous. While the Nintendo Wii is the top selling console right now, many believe that it has reached it’s peak in sales, and will suffer a major decline in the coming two years. The casual market is becoming stagnant and now it’s competitors plan to one-up what Nintendo has essentially pioneered, and chances are they will create a better overall experience for the video game population.

It is hard to be a fan of a company like Nintendo and notice the faults that have held it back for years, but only a true fan would acknowledge these faults in the end. Nintendo is facing a questionable future by not letting go of its past, by blazing a new trail that, for every positive aspect that is brought out from it, several negatives one easily counter. The future of games will change again, and for Nintendo to survive it must not choose to do nothing.



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Digital Download Saga: Why it Will Initially Fail
Posted on Monday, May 4 2009 @ 10:22:43 Eastern

In the month of May, the game Patapon 2 will be released for the Sonly PSP. This is a game that will be very critical in shaping the future of gaming, even if it doesn’t know it. It’s not due to some innovative gameplay mechanic or a new game design either. It is actually due to its distribution, which will in turn be a forerunner for the probable future of video games. That is digital distribution.

Digital distribution is the selling of full games through downloads, similar to add-ons and arcade games on X-box live, the Wii virtual console, and the PSN, for example. The difference is that they are fully fledged games, such as a full version of Halo or Bioshock, a complete series of Elder Scrolls and Final Fantasy, or even a fully updated roster for Madden and NHL. Digital downloads will give access to full, current-gen games to be downloaded for a fee at your own home. No longer will hard copies be the norm of attaining video games, when everything is downloadable, sales and distribution will be all done on the net, and it will happen.

This is the future of gaming, no doubt about it. And it is a natural progression as well. You have the current trend of game add-ons and full, retro games online already available, as well as custom new games that have been created by small, independent companies. Hell, the upcoming version of the PSP will feature only digital downloadable games, eliminating the use of Hard USB disks for the future.

But sadly, I feel it will fail now, at first, at least. It is not because I love hard copies of games, which I do because owning a hard copy of a game is so ingrained in my psyche it’s almost impossible to not enjoy these hard copies. But I feel like we may be jumping the gun in making Patapon 2 the first ever digital download title for the PSP, for a couple of reasons.

First and foremost, Patapon 2 is a very niche game. Not to detract from the game at all, but it’s not a blockbuster like Final Fantasy or Madden. It’s a great title for a limited audience, namely the hardcore gamer crowd and those who know a good game from a bad one. But for the average consumer, Patapon 2 will be a very hard sale for what is not familiar, especially since its quirky design and very unorthodox gameplay mechanics make it look exotic.

Another aspect that might lead to this failure is the fact that this is being done with little fanfare. Retailers like Gamestop and GameCrazy are promoting the game for the PSP, but the fact that it is a downloadable game is not being mentioned, nor is part of the official press kit for retailers. Granted, some employers will be mentioning the game to the interested parties, but learning that the game is fully downloadable might detract from that.

This is actually similar to Grand Theft Auto, The Lost and the Damned for the 360. When it came out, both as a digital download and a hard copy, there was some confusion by consumers who thought it was a stand-alone game in retail stores, and squandered $20.00 without having a copy of GTA IV. It was a good experiment by Microsoft, but without letting people know of the digital download or that you needed the GTA IV game to play Lost and the Damned probably made the hard copy of the disk less desirable in stores, and maybe detracted from sales overall of the add-on.

One final piece that makes a digital copy of Patapon 2 a bad idea in terms of sales and profitability is the fact that it’s on the Sony PSP. The system has a turbulent history, with three incarnations and a fourth one ready to be released. The sales of the system though are not as solid, paling in comparison of the Nintendo DS. Over $50 million PSP systems have been sold worldwide, compared to $96 million DS systems, a margin of nearly 2-1. Respectable sales for a handheld to be sure, but the switch to digital downloads only might again confuse many consumers who are not kept abreast to the changes in the video game market, and again this might deter people from purchasing a PSP and other PSP games.

For digital downloads to work, retailers and game companies need to work together to actually educate people in the downloadable features of games. Many parents and gamers don’t know about Microsoft Point cards, for example. Telling them what the cards do will probably alleviate the confusion somewhat, and may even grant parents and casual gamers the curiosity to look at digital downloads in a new way, and research it themselves. Hardcore gamers know this is coming, and perhaps preparation is in order for us, but we also need to prepare everyone in the process.

So Patapon 2 will be a great experiment, but it will not speed up the process of digital downloadable games. But it will also not deter the ongoing change from hard copies to digital downloads. While I personally feel that a mixture of both hard and digital copies is what will ultimately be successful (and I’ll save that for another article.) the future of gaming is coming hard and fast, and we are able to see the bits and pieces of it manifesting today.



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A Gay Old Time
Posted on Thursday, March 26 2009 @ 11:25:43 Eastern

As a gamer, you sometimes forget about the differences that people may have from each other. The stereotypes of gamer geeks and manchildren are somewhat eradicated now, because of am emerging casual market, and a lot of different gro...   read more...

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Winter and the Wii, Low Risks and No Rewards
Posted on Thursday, January 22 2009 @ 17:27:05 Eastern

Recently, IGN just did a little piece on this Survival Horror game called Winter, that was made exclusively for the Nintendo Wii by developer n-Space. The game is essentially a Survival Horror game more akin to Silent Hill than t...   read more...

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On hold
Posted on Monday, January 12 2009 @ 12:31:18 Eastern

I have to put the Retro-Review series I have been doing on hold, mainly because I don't have time anymore to write a review every week (which is sad, because since October I feel like I have been pumping out some of my best stuff in terms of reviews....   read more...

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Thank you, Duke.
Posted on Monday, December 22 2008 @ 13:17:53 Eastern

Thank you, Duke.

Thank you so much for mentioning obscure games like “Personal Trainer Cooking” on the podcast. Yeah, it does seem kind of weird that the editor in chief of Game Revolution is...   read more...

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A Chance at Something More
Posted on Monday, November 24 2008 @ 15:37:07 Eastern

Well, after deliberating for over a week, asking the advice of people I know and respect, and who have read and even critiqued my own ramblings on paper, I decided to do it. Gaygamer.net has put a call in for contributing writers...   read more...

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Red Rings of Death
Posted on Monday, November 17 2008 @ 13:52:51 Eastern

While playing Fallout 3, my X-Box 360 froze one me. Normally I think this is something wrong with the game, and I have one minor scratch on my Fallout 3 disc, but after attempting to restart my system, it froze again, this time on the first boot up s...   read more...

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Confessions of a Pokemaniac
Posted on Friday, November 7 2008 @ 11:28:11 Eastern

Today on Serebii.net I was browsing through they’re in-depth pokedex and I suddenly realized something, something that has not crossed my mind in years. Pokemon is pretty damn old now. Maybe not as ancient as most game fran...   read more...

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