Thursday, December 25, 2008

come on, microsoft, you can do better than this

Season's greetings from Emdroid! I hope everyone out there is having a wonderful Christmas/holiday season of choice and may it be filled with gaming. And now it's time for a Christmas guest appearance from... *drumroll* ScottBot! It takes some real stupid stuff to get him this riled up so hopefully he'll contribute more often now. Without further ado...

Xbox360 comes with wrong power cord: Merry Christmas! by ScottBot

I bought my little brother a 20gb Xbox360 pro new in the box from a co-worker several weeks ago. When he opened it today we never even got to plug it in. Upon going to do so, we found that the power supply had a curious black nib in the middle of the 6 pin setup which completely blocked the supplied power cord from plugging in.

It appears that the fine folks at Microsoft dropped the ball in a pretty big way as this is a more common problem than we had first thought. Many others seem to have this problem as well...

There are two different versions of the power supply/power cord setup on the Xbox360, the “2-pronged”, and the “3-pronged”. Ours came with the former while needing the latter.

We called Microsoft tech support, and after about 45 min. on the phone we are being shipped the correct power cord for our unit’s power supply. Still… totally lame, Microsoft.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

a strategy guide worth getting

Normally I am content to go online for any walkthrough or item locations I might need to look up, but I do occasionally pick up the official strategy guide for certain games. Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility for the Wii is definitely one of them! Considering the vast amount of recipe ingredient combination options plus all the different produce values, not to mention all the villagers and their various likes and dislikes. I picked up the Bradygames guide to this game the other night and it has been a pretty invaluable resource, especially thanks to the nice full-color lists and concept art throughout. Typically, the guide is full of grammatical travesties but also contains a trove of useful information for this incredibly deep game.

high five for ds puzzle games

The DS has such a great selection of games that appeal to my love of puzzles and brainteasers. Lately I've been loving Crosswords DS, which gives you literally hundreds of puzzles in crossword, wordsearch and "anagram" (more like Text Twist) formats that are of varying degrees of difficulty. The interface is easy to use and works perfectly with the stylus and holding the DS like a book sideways. Next I am going to try out the USA Today Crossword Challenge. Best part about these puzzle games for the DS is they tend to be on the cheap side due to not being Pokemon-related! So, a benefit for gamers with slightly more mature interests.

fable 2 is great

I've logged many hours in Fable II now and am enjoying it quite a lot. I've almost stopped accidentally using my force push attack when I mean to be opening the menu (my fingers still think I'm playing Oblivion) and I even got married! I also have gotten very good at fighting and shooting stuff as well as earning hella gold by bartending, chopping wood and forging blades at the blacksmith. I'm doing my best to not advance through the game too quickly but the main plot is very cool as well so I'm enjoying doing side quests as well as primary ones. My character is very attractive and well-outfitted but unfortunately is all scarred up from her battling so I'm trying to figure out what to do with that. Anyway, Fable II rocks the heezy and definitely gets two thumbs up from me. If you want a fun and beautiful RPG that's a little less numbers-oriented, pick this up today.

prepare to be amazed

Dude. Parrots can play Tom Clancy's EndWar. What this video lacks in newness it makes up for in total awesomeness. Winner gets a back rub!

Monday, December 22, 2008

and that's why you don't rush games to market

I was looking forward to Rise of the Argonauts but now that full reviews are out it seems like it might be a bit disappointing to say the least. While the graphics may look great and the story is compelling, the combat system apparently falls short and anyone looking for an RPG will be disappointed in the lack of number systems available for customization. And apparently the dialogue is too lengthy and serves to take up much of the time spent playing. Also, if the category you score highest in is Sound, you know you didn't put enough time into developing your game.
With a storyline and characters rooted firmly in Greek mythology, there's an element for those who know or admire the Classics to enjoy. The problem is how the game's put together – so much has been stripped from what we traditionally think of as an RPG and an action game that the result feels like an awkward, neutered hybrid bloated by hours and hours of static dialogue sequences. Add a sloppy combat system in which the most basic moves serve you well all game long and some serious framerate issues, and the result is a frustratingly limited product that, even as it weaves an interesting tale of deceit and betrayal, fails to rise above the compromises made for its hybrid design.
IGN: Rise of the Argonauts Review

Thursday, December 18, 2008

a preview of future wii and ds titles

Well, not all of these are technically "future" but some of them still have yet to make their way across the Pacific so I think this list of the top selling games in Japan for last week is pretty telling of what we can expect as hot sellers. Considering the year the Wii had it's a welcome sight to see that the top 10 is entirely made up of DS and Wii titles! Check them out:

1. Taiko no Tatsujin Wii (Wii)
2. Animal Crossing: City Folk (Wii)
3. Hoshi no Kirby: Ultra Super Deluxe (DS)
4. Wagamama Fashion Girls Mode (DS)
5. Penguin no Mondai: Saikyou Penguin Densetsu (DS)
6. Professor Layton and the Last Time Travel (DS)
7. Pokemon Platinum (DS)
8. Rhythm Tengoku Gold (DS)
9. Wii Fit (Wii)
10. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)

Okay, so most of them are DS titles and we know how much the Japanese love their handhelds. And of course Wii Fit is on there. Personally, I'm most intrigued by #6 and will certainly pick that one up if it makes its way over here!

Nintendo platforms ace Japan top ten

WoW players not so in demand

Hah! I knew there was a good reason not to play World of Warcraft. Apparently there are some job recruiters out there who worry that WoW players don't make good employees because they are focused elsewhere and have terrible sleeping habits. Hah again, and, true.
There is a counter-theory that playing WOW - specifically, leading an active guild, which can involve some tricky management of people and time - makes for great employment experience, but the recruiter was having none of it.

"I mentioned that some people have written about MMOG leadership experience as a career positive or a way to learn project management skills, and he shook his head. He has been specifically asked to avoid WOW players," the poster said.
Employers Screening World of Warcraft Players?

rock band 2 out today

Today sees the launch for Wii and PS2 of Rock Band 2, the highly anticipated sequel that managed to be released before the end of the holiday season this year. It's a Christmas miracle! IGN loves the game and especially highlights it as a triumph for the Wii, on which it is no different than the other consoles as far as gameplay features and with only slightly lower resolution. Kinda sounds like you might be better off buying World Tour for its instruments though - everything I've heard indicates higher quality on the Guitar Hero side.
Rock Band 2 for Wii fixes every problem the original game had on the system and even adds pleasant new features. Aside from a little less detail in the visuals, this is identical to what Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 players have been playing since September. It's a more user-friendly experience, simultaneously more challenging for the hardcore and more accessible for casuals.
IGN: Rock Band 2 Special Edition for Wii

movin' on up to hard!

We've been rocking out a lot lately (also known as playing Guitar Hero) and have just started transitioning from Medium to Hard. Some of those songs are, to use scientific terminology, redonkulously hard. Some day I will conquer Carry On Wayward Son but until then I've been doing okay. Like many others before me I even made a video of myself doing Possum Kingdom. Of course I had to pick one of the 5+ minute songs and I'm still far from competent but I am doing much better in Hard than I would have guessed. Expert is still far, far off in the distance, for now anyway.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

the top 7 games you don't want for christmas

To anyone who needs another site to waste time on reading about games, don't forget Gamesradar.com. I've gotten really into their funny lists and articles lately, and here's a great one: The Top 7... Games you don't want for Christmas. Here's their entry for Jumper: Griffin's Story:
Games based on movies are almost always awful. But because of its ridiculously short length, clumsy combat system and fugly graphics, Jumper: Griffin’s Story wins our award for the worst movie-based game of the year. It’s so terrible, that we can almost admire how Jumper manages to succeed at sucking so hard. Almost.

IGN's best DS games of 08

IGN has begun to announce their Best of 08 awards and the DS category is one of the first to appear on the site. At the top of the category is The World Ends With You, a Square Enix action RPG which took home IGN's DS Game of the Year. Check out the rest of the DS category awards here: IGN Top DS Games of 08.

Monday, December 15, 2008

age of empires: mythologies

My boyfriend's lovely mother already bought me Personal Trainer: Cooking for my birthday and insisted on getting me another game for Christmas so I decided to go with Age of Empires: Mythologies for the Nintendo DS. I have always loved the PC game Age of Mythology and I have a feeling I'm going to get quickly addicted to this DS title. It gets a pretty awesome 8.6 on IGN; check out the full review and scoring here. The main difference between the PC and DS versions apparently is a turn-based system of actions but I think I can be okay with that as long as the campaigns are fun and the game's controls are good. More review to follow once I've actually played more than just tutorials.

fable 2 seems promising

I'm always a little behind the times on newer games and Fable 2 was no exception but I finally got around to starting a character this weekend. Sidenote: GameStop's buy 2 get 1 free on used games this weekend combined with a bonus employee discount was a dangerous, dangerous thing! But actually in addition to scoring another new DS game and some presents for others we picked up Fable 2, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and a few other titles for ourselves. Anyhoo, Fable is enjoyable so far and I'm liking some of the differences between it and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. I also loooove the dog companion, of course. I've been told that to truly enjoy this game you have to take time to smell the roses so to speak and really experience every available activity in addition to working through the main quest. That's pretty much my thing in games anyway (there's a reason why I've put 50+ hours into Oblivion and haven't advanced all that far in the main quest) so I think I will enjoy this game.

Friday, December 12, 2008

looking for a ds for the special woman in your life?

Daughter, wife, girlfriend, sister, mother, aunt, friend, whoever! If you have an awesome chick in your life who wants a Nintendo DS this holiday season, consider the Limited Edition Pink Ribbon DS Lite. Same price as the normal Lite but $5 from each unit sold gets donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. I know it's not October anymore but breast cancer does exist year-round and it's a great cause to support with video game dollars!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

rise of the argonauts

Slated for release next Tuesday, Rise of the Argonauts looks to be pretty badass. I love the incorporation of gods as moral drivers to shape your character in what will hopefully be a solid RPG on par with the many big releases of 2008. Check out the cool depiction of Pan to the left. Also if you're a fan of epics, the soundtrack is apparently done by the same guy who did the music for 300.
An epic scale action-RPG, Rise of the Argonauts immerses gamers in a gladiatorial adventure set in wondrously imagined vision of ancient Greece. With deep exploration and epic quests, players live a life of brutal combat as they lead a team of iconic warriors -- including Jason, Hercules and Atalanta-- through a world ruled by mythological gods.

just a few more months til sims 3!

I'm so psyched. IGN has some awesome Sims 3 trailers up that show the versatility of the new game and its open environment. I love the Sims so much, just wanted to reiterate that, and the team behind Sims 3 seems to be really putting care and effort into this title. Anyway check out these vids:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

hilarious celebrity xbox avatars

The good folks at GamesRadar.com have too much time on their hands and have created a wealth of wonderful celebrity and game-character Xbox Live avatars. Check out the first collection here and then view the even more amazing second collection here. There are tons of awesome ones with some pretty spot-on detail included (Niko from GTA IV, Travis from No More Heroes and Gordon from Half-Life are especially good) but one of my faves is Chuck Norris pictured at left, complete with Canadian tuxedo.

japan's top 5 ps3 sellers

It's no secret that despite slumping numbers in the US the Playstation 3 and PSP dominate the Asian video game market. Here's the top 5 best-selling PS3 games in Japan:

1. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (sold 671,706 units)
2. Minna no Golf 5 [Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds] (408,175)
3. Shin Sangoku Musou 5 [Dynasty Warriors 6] (371,443)
And now you know what to buy your Japanese PS3-loving friends for Christmas, assuming they don't already have every title on the list. I couldn't find any pictures of Japanese people dressed up as PS3 controllers so here's one of a dude dressed like a Wiimote.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

oh my god this shiz looks awesome

I may have to break habit and actually play Resident Evil 5 myself just because it looks sooo cool. Who am I kidding, I will probably just watch my boyfriend play. Still, it looks totally amazing. The Africa setting looks to provide a unique and new backdrop for zombie strife and the zombification looks scary as hell. Check out this E3 trailer and also the links below for some awesome IGN HD preview vids from the Japanese PS3 demo of the game:

halo wars release date announced

After preliminary date announcements this month Microsoft has confirmed a date for its next huge cash-cow release, Halo Wars. The new title in the ridiculously popular franchise will hit stores in America on March 3rd, 2009. Apparently this falls just short of the originally predicted date of February 2009. Asian, African and European countries will see the game drop a few days earlier. Microsoft also took the opportunity to remind everyone that the Special Edition for $79.99 will come with all sorts of awesome bonus goodies, as special editions usually do. I can only imagine that the North American launch of this game will see epic numbers of attendees, even if some of them will have already somehow managed to play imported versions of the game, as per some reader comments. Also, 1-Up has a fairly in-depth preview section of the game for anyone looking to learn more.

Halo Wars Arrives on March 3rd 09: News from 1-Up.com

50 worst video game titles ever

I love lists. There was a great one in this month's Game Informer of the top 10 worst game character names ever (The list included such witty classics as Miles "Tails" Prower and Shoot Gunner). Here's another enjoyable one: The 50 Worst Video Game Names Ever. The list includes hilarious contenders such as Nuts & Milk, Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja and If It Moves, Shoot It. My favorite? Awesome Possum Kicks Dr. Machino's Butt!:
Fun fact: This is one of the first games to actually use digitized voice. Not so fun fact: Here's a dialogue snippet:
Awesome Possum
: "I'm awesome!"
Dr. Machino: "You’re not so awesome!"

You got that right.

Monday, December 8, 2008

fine decor in our apartment

Click picture at left for full size view of my newest wall decoration, a life-size Fallout 3 Vault Dweller. I think it really adds a woman's touch, don't you think?

two thumbs up for personal trainer: cooking

We've all seen the Lisa Kudrow commercial many times by now but I am glad that I took an interest in Personal Trainer: Cooking for the DS because I received it as a gift for my birthday. It seems totally awesome so far - I haven't actually cooked anything yet because I am not home very often at mealtimes but I have big plans! There are 245 recipes in total from a wide variety of countries and a range of ingredients to suit any taste. The interface is easy to use and I love the shopping list function that lets you check off ingredients you need for certain recipes as you go shopping. Seems like a pretty comprehensive cooking tool that I hope will allow me to widen my culinary horizons and make some crazy French dish or something.

mystery case files: million heir

I just picked up Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir and have been enjoying it so far. I've been really happy with all the DS games I've tried and this one is no exception. It's very challenging and has a fun I-Spy feel to it. The number of random objects crowded into each scene seems to indicate a high level of replayability and the music is enjoyable, as are the artful graphics. If you're not into puzzle games you'd probably hate it but I love puzzle games, so there you go.

Friday, December 5, 2008

introducing paranoid emdroid recommends

I mention a lot of products here so I figured I might as well add them to an Amazon.com a-store and cash in. Lots of stuff that guy and girl gamers alike will enjoy. From now on you'll see featured games and other products related to stuff I've been talking about in a box on the right. So if you have a minute check out all of my awesome recommendations (not just games but books and movies as well!) and buy them as gifts for your loved ones. Or for yourself.

nazi zombies!

My favorite buzzword these days. Nazi zombies! Actually though it is totally awesome how zombies are errrvrywhere when it comes to video games these days. Call of Duty: World at War of course features the infamous Nazi zombies while other titles like Dead Space, Dead Rising and Left 4 Dead (more creatively titled games to follow in 2009) have brought the drooling and infectious monsters to the spotlight this year. Survival horror is a truly wonderful shooter genre and has given rise to some amazing games over the years so I'm glad that it remains a strong driver of new games for developers. Also, Hollywood? Make these games into awesome movies, srsly.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

this is ridiculously cute

I love cute games but I think this one might send even me into fits of cute-abetic shock with its sweet adorableness. The Tale of Despereaux is apparently a new animated movie featuring a brave little mouse that doesn't know fear and wants to be a hero... I guess? Sounds as likely as a rat that wants to prepare delicious fine cuisine but then again that one was actually pretty awesome. Anyway, of course the Tale of Despereaux is already a video game for pretty much every system (DS, Wii, PS2, PC and Xbox 360, so actually, everything except PS3 and PSP). I may have to try this one just for the cute factor as the little mouse's ears really remind me a lot of my baby ferret Oscar, who has huge floppy ears himself.

one guy's top ten best games of 2008 list

I don't necessarily agree with all of this dude's choices for the top 10 games of this year but I do appreciate his nod to Fallout 3 and also his description of Little Big Planet, which just makes me even sadder that this game is a PS3 exclusive. Damn you, Sony!! *fist shake*:
From the brilliant opening-credits sequence to the physics-centric game engine to the clever puzzles and cooperative gameplay, LittleBigPlanet shows what happens when you mix carefully devised original game design with a commitment to fun. The most significant aspect of the game is that players can create their own levels to share with the world. While it’s not the first game to offer this feature, LittleBigPlanet makes the process so simple, provides so many options and threads the process into the single-player game so seamlessly that it opens up game design to anyone with a little imagination and a lot of time.
The Best Video Games of 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

xbox 360 pwned the ps3 this black friday

Microsoft is having a great time rolling around on top of its piles and piles of money after announcing surprisingly successful Black Friday sales performances. The 360 outsold the PlayStation 3 at a 3-to-1 ratio and increased its overall sales 25% over last year's numbers. Also the 360 maintains the highest "game attach rate" of any console at 8:1, meaning each system gets an average of 8 games purchased for it. Best-selling titles included Gears of War 2, Fable II and Lips.
“We entered into the Black Friday sales period with cautious optimism, knowing that dollar for dollar, Xbox 360 offers more social entertainment value than any other console on the market,” said Don Mattrick, senior vice president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “Record Black Friday sales in the U.S., coupled with our existing global install base of 25 million and an online community of more than 14 million Xbox LIVE members, have laid the groundwork for continued global sales momentum in 2009.”
Xbox 360's biggest black friday sales ever

professor layton & the curious village

I'm seriously loving my DS so far and am on the lookout for great games to try, the first of which has been Professor Layton and the Curious Village. Billed as a 'point-and-click adventure', the point is to solve a series of brainteaser puzzles that advance you through the plotline. Games like this are totally up my alley and the 2-D point-and-click nature of it really reminds me of old favorites like Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within. Professor Layton is also a great game just to look at as it incorporates a simple anime-type style of characters into a landscape with beautiful muted coloring and artful scenery. The music has been enjoyable as well and of course the best part are the puzzles. I am a lifelong puzzle enthusiast and can boast proudly of my Scrabble champion father and crossword-puzzle-writing (including for the New York Times) grandfather. I've felt sufficiently challenged by many of them so far and the way it lets you answer after having submitted incorrect answers for a reduced point prize is an infuriating motivator to check your answers and think through each puzzle completely. This is a great game to try if you see the DS as an opportunity for brain exercise rather than just pure gaming (or to feed your Pokemon addiction).

Monday, December 1, 2008

ign's 15 weirdest ds games

IGN has a great feature on wack-ass games for the Nintendo DS including a trippy Wizard of Oz adventure, "witch-touching" and many more. Oh, also, Touch DIC. The top weird game in their eyes though is Wine no Hajimekata, or Wine Tasting DS:
The company best known for its role-playing games came out with its own take on Sommelier, publishing Wine no Hajimekata DS later in 2007 -- and it shipped with an actual bottle of wine. Really, actual alcohol was sold bundled with a Nintendo game. If you try to tell me there's a more bizarre idea than that out there, you're crazy. The wine-included bundle was limited to the first 1,000 copies sold, and included a bottle of the French red, Dourthe No. 1. But Square Enix later followed up with an additional promotion for the game, offering a bonus bottle of Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon (Devil's Wine) to registered Square Enix community members. Insane.

another excuse to get more games

I got a Nintendo DS lite! And not just any DS but in fact the Brain Age limited edition ice blue DS lite! It actually comes with the game plus a sweet protective case and an extra matching stylus. This post could also be titled "best boyfriend ever" as the DS was an early birthday present from him and he rocks. So now I've got Mario Kart and of course Brain Age, which is really fun and turns out to basically be Wii Fit for your brain. It even seems to have the same feature of harassing you if you don't get on it every day. So far I love the low-to-high test and also the number crunching. My brain could use a kick into high gear so I think this will be a nice complement to the Fit.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

the retail life

I mentioned below the in-store consoles that are a regular part of my work environment and I get to "enjoy" the various demos and previews that loop, let's call it, every 10 to 25 minutes. On five different monitors/TVs within about 100 square feet. So today I shall share some of them with you all so you can envision the excitement of my life working in the video game industry.

"The Metal" by Tenacious D at the VGAs (my personal fave):


Lego Indiana Jones
demo:


Sweet Touch of Love axe commercial:


That's just three of the many, many 5 minute segments I get to enjoy over and over again. Now you can too!

i'm such a hypocrite

All right, I have railed like crazy against the rhythm-music games out there but am now eating my words in a tasty, tasty breakfast of rocking out with Guitar Hero II. I picked up the game used plus two of the white wired guitars released with that title and amazingly was able to use credit from four trade-ins (plus various discounts) to completely cover the purchase. I admit it, it's way more fun that I thought it would be and I need to remember that the lame kid playing at Best Buy with the sound off is not necessarily showing the product in its true glory. I started out using Pandora but think I'm gonna switch to Casey Lynch permanently (see pic for her hotness) and want to mention that I love all the awesome girl characters. Smart not to make them all anime-style bodacious hotties. I've gotten pretty awesome at easy in the last few days and plan on switching up to medium although I've sucked hard at the ones I've tried so far. Thankfully I have unlocked Carry On Wayward Son, the song that pretty much made me want to try the game out. Sadly I don't get to play Livin' on a Prayer (which I get to listen to customers playing all. damn. day on the in-store consoles) but am looking forward to rocking harder as the level goes up.

Monday, November 24, 2008

mass effect is very cinematic

I really love the blending of movies and video games as well as the coming together of the two industries, which is why I especially love games with awesome plots and great cinematic scenes. That's why I've been enjoying watching my boyfriend playing Mass Effect, an rpg from Bioware, the company behind hits such as Neverwinter Nights, Baldur's Gate and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. The battle elements are extremely strategic and take a lot of Marine-like tactical thinking, while the plotline is engaging and freaky with vivid and dynamic characters who are also amazing to look at in HD. Sometimes it feels a bit like Star Wars just from the amazingly detailed alien race characters and the ships flying around. It's the first released title of a trilogy apparently (view inevitable internet debate here) so I'm sure the story goes even deeper than we know yet. I'm not sure this is the kind of game I love playing but I'm definitely enjoying the movie-like aspects of it as a spectator anyway.

xbox on the pc monitor!

We've taken our co-gaming to a whole new level thanks to the Xbox 360 VGA HD/AV cable we just picked up. With the Xbox and the Wii both plugged in to our TV, what are we to do now that the boy is done with Fallout 3 on the PC and deep into Mass Effect and I have many Wii games I'm fixing to try out? Stream the Xbox to the 22" flatscreen HD monitor of course! This actually improved the graphics despite a small decrease in size, and we're lucky to already be working with a small enough space that the wireless 360 controller works fine and the cords all reach. We can now play 360 and Wii games simultaneously and since we're big dorks we've got many options on both. Technology these days! At right: Xbox 360 PC tower case complete with red ring of death (sort of).

harvest moon just as awesome as ever

I was always a fan of Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life on the Nintendo GameCube, so I am happy to have gotten to play quite a bit of the newest title in the series this weekend. Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility for the Wii is just as good as I remember the GC game being: pastoral, tranquil and very cute. I love that you can choose to be a girl character in this one as I don't remember that being an option before. The shipping system is very cool and easy to use and the farming is as painstaking yet rewarding as ever. I just bought my first two animals, a calf (Moobie) and a lamb (Fuzzy) and my farm's vegetables thrive with the awesome power of the 3x3 watering can charge which is definitely a welcome innovation. The graphics are nice to look at but the game gets slow during rain and I would say about 15 to 20% of my gameplay time has been watching loading screens which seems like it could have been avoided. Nevertheless this is a very fun game with much to see and do and lots of interesting directions in which to go.

Friday, November 21, 2008

will wright is cool

NYTimes.com has a fun feature on Will Wright, co-founder of Maxis and brain behind SimCity, Spore and all the Sims franchises (full article link below). I'm a big fan of pretty much everything he does so I enjoyed this article and look forward to any future projects he's working on.
Fantasy career: It would involve large construction equipment or being a helicopter pilot.

Favorite game he didn’t design: It’s a call between Civilization and Grand Theft Auto. One makes you think of history in a different way. The other is a playground where you can wreak havoc and don’t have to clean up afterward.

Unique gift giver: I buy these pins that were designed to help you keep track of your radiation exposure. They kept them in bomb shelters during the cold war. They make great gifts.

shaun white for the wii

I spent some time playing Shaun White: Road Trip this morning and it is in fact pretty fun! I used the Wii Fit balance board which definitely adds an element of difficulty not found in just controlling your guy with the remote. The levels are cool and fun to look at with plenty of opportunities for sick jumps, flips and grabs off of "kickers" as well as rails and stuff to grind on and speed trials as well. The interface is a little too kid-friendly for me in its cartoony-ness but it also has its funny moments in the form of goofy spam emails and totally stoned-sounding phone calls from Shaun himself. I think that the better I get at controlling with the balance board the more fun this game will be. I also am determined to try out the Xbox 360 Shaun White Snowboarding as the commercials look really good and the graphics look a few steps up from the Wii version, plus it appears to be a much deeper game with more customization and more goofy stuff to do with your characters like snowball fights. Of course in the Wii version you have moose running amok all over your courses which is pretty cool too.

sims 3 vip!

Of course I'm a Sims 3 VIP. So anyway, here's a little sampling of the ultra-exclusive (actually not really, you just had to put your email in) benefits of being a Sims 3 VIP. Cool screenshot from the game at right. Grant, a Sims 3 producer, also shares some of the daily life and trait info of his self-Sim Grant Duders:
I almost always create a character based loosely on myself, perhaps because I can empathize with him, or maybe I just have a fascination with seeing how my life could turn out differently. Grant Duders is typically a Workaholic who Loves the Outdoors, is a Green-Thumb and Bookworm. Why these Traits? For starters, Grant works extra hard to make ends meet while trying to make it as a professional writer. Writing is difficult though, and writer’s block a common foe, so he frequently spends his time outdoors gardening in the sun. It’s a great stress reliever!

Every writer needs a muse and Grant is no exception. The town is full of attractive singles and few locations are better for mixing and mingling than the gym. It’s the perfect plan – the Sims there are in shape, outgoing, and exactly where Grant is! Unfortunately, the conversations don’t go so well after Grant’s charming introduction. Grant frequently talks about work (yawn), relies too heavily on the fact that he’s an aspiring writer (who isn’t?), and frequently stinks (from working out).

Being single is hard!

Find out more about the Sims 3 here

Thursday, November 20, 2008

sims 2 mansion & garden stuff

Electronic Arts released the 9th and (what can only be assumed to be) final Stuff Pack for the Sims 2 this week with Mansion & Garden Stuff. This add-on features mostly new and improved garden plants, flowerbeds and decorations as well as some new building options. Piggy-backing on the addition of building embellishments from Apartment Life is a whole new Build Mode section for Architecture, which includes the new vent systems and other structural decorations. The new pack also comes with three new building themes: Moroccan, Second Empire and Art Deco. I haven’t built much yet with these new themes but I do love the new garden stuff and also that kids can now slide down stair banisters! Cute. Still, perhaps a little tacked on and maybe overflow of leftover AL additions, but if you’re like me you want the whole collection so you’ll get it anyway. I will always prefer EA made content to custom so honestly if they came out with another TS2 pack before the Sims 3 comes out, I’d probably buy it.

wii fit = the tickle-me-elmo of 2008

If you’ve been searching fruitlessly for a Wii Fit this holiday season, rest assured that it’s not just you that can’t find one. The Fit is definitely this year’s hot Wii item to score and, like the Wii itself last year, it’s getting harder and harder to find stocked in stores as we approach the holidays. My tip for those of you looking is to check in stores early afternoon as shipments come in around noon. If you’re sick of prowling the mall however, my real recommendation would be to use the Wii Fit tracker, which is how I got mine. Act quickly and you might find that it’s easier than you thought to score a Wii Fit before your gifting holiday of choice. Good luck, it’s totally worth it!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

trying to find dogmeat?

Okay, I've been enjoying the steady traffic I'm getting from the keyword "fallout 3 companions" so I figured I'd post something actually useful to those of you trying to figure out how to accrue a posse in Fallout 3. You can find several useful characters who will fight for you and follow you around as you fight super mutants and blow stuff up. The Vault, an excellent Fallout 3 wiki, has a section featuring each of the available companions and how to find them and use them to your advantage. Enjoy!

Unlike previous Fallout games, the followers don't level up independently, but they are scaled to the level of the player character. The PC will receive full experience points for enemies killed by the companions provided they cause some damage.

It is possible to have more than one follower.

The Vault: Fallout 3 Companions

october's top ten games

Sales-tracking research group NPD released its list of the top ten best-selling console game titles for October last week. Nintendo continues to dominate, proving that games with accessories sell amazingly well especially before the holidays with Mario Kart, Wii Fit and Wii Play making strong appearances. The Wii also sold 803,000 consoles in October, compared to 371,000 Xbox 360 and 190,000 Ps3 systems, proving that people really love cheap options and also that the casual gamer demographic continues to expand. Here's the rest of the top ten best-selling console game titles for October 2008:
  1. Fable II (Lionhead, Xbox 360) - 790,000 units
  2. Wii Fit (Nintendo, Wii) - 487,000 units
  3. Fallout 3 (Bethesda, Xbox 360) - 375,000 units
  4. Mario Kart Wii (Nintendo, Wii) - 290,000 units
  5. Wii Play (Nintendo, Wii) - 282,000 units
  6. Saints Row 2 (Volition, Xbox 360) - 270,000 units
  7. SOCOM Confrontation (Slant Six, PS3) - 231,000 units
  8. LittleBigPlanet (Media Molecule, PS3) - 215,000 units
  9. NBA 2K9 (Visual Concepts, Xbox 360) - 202,000 units
  10. Dead Space (EA Redwood Shores, Xbox 360) - 193,000 units
A Closer Look at October's Strong Game Sales
October Console Game Sales: Fable II Tops The Charts

the unicorn is free again

I ended things with the unicorn in my Oblivion game when I finally got around to downloading some expansions for it from Xbox Live and came to the sad, sad realization that I couldn't outfit the unicorn with armor from the Horse Armor Pack. He was just a little too at risk of being killed at all times and I just couldn't have that on my conscience, so I set him free to return to his grove. And no, I will never do Hircine's quest, which involves killing the unicorn for its horn. So now I am back to the super fast Cheydinhal black horse and it has lovely gilded Elven armor to protect it, so now I'm on a quest to find a full set of Elven armor for myself. Gotta match the steed, for sure.

left 4 dead out today

Survival horror first-person shooter Left 4 Dead is available in stores today for the Xbox 360 and on PC-DVD. It sounds pretty awesome and got a 9.0 on IGN; full review linked below. Check out the E3 trailer as well, which shows some of the environments as well as the extremely fast-moving Infected! Love the cornfield scenes, and the fatty zombies. Sounds like the real important features in what makes this a cool game are the cooperative gameplay mode which allows up to four players to control the team of Survivors, and the interesting cinematic style given to the levels requiring completion:
Each scenario is presented like a movie, which is a nice touch. At the beginning there's a movie poster showing the cast. If you survive, the "credits" display the statistics for the game, like who killed the most zombies, who inflicted the most headshots, who delivered the most friendly fire, and the like. The final credit shows how many zombies were killed in the making of the film, and a nice touch I really like is that if only some of the survivors make it to safety, the film is dedicated to the memory of those who didn't.



IGN: Left 4 Dead Review

Monday, November 17, 2008

neopets for the ds

Many years ago I totally joined a small startup online community game based on buying cool alien-like pets and doing fun stuff with them. I played it for awhile and enjoyed it but eventually all of the "games" morphed into basically clicking on ads for sponsors so I dropped out. Well, I probably should have invested in it or something because Neopets has become crazy huge with toys and other products as well as an upcoming DS game, Neopets Puzzle Adventure. This game will be out December 9th and looks like it might actually be a pretty fun puzzle game that, while aimed at kids, is still enjoyable for anyone. Definitely my kind of game! I also found a good preview-review of it on a site I just discovered called gay-gamer.net. Very cool site with a lot of good info and seems to mostly be populated by adorable gay boys so if that's your thing, check it out.

animal crossing: city folk

One of this week's big releases is the Wii premiere of the newest in the classic GameCube and DS series Animal Crossing. Animal Crossing: City Folk looks like it will be a great game for anyone who hasn't played AC before but might seem a bit.. familiar to those who are long-time fans. Though the Wii title doesn't claim to necessarily be a sequel to the DS hit Wild World, it does have a new name and a few new cool features. Like the DS version you can visit online friends but in the new one, any custom textures you creature for people to wear or catchphrases to say can be virally spread to other towns, which is pretty nifty. IGN's review says it is a pretty fair blending of the GC and DS games with some cool new Wii specific features, and for anyone who is coming into the series new it will be a lot of fun. I think I might give this one a shot although I definitely have played the GC version and never really got into it. Full review linked below.

Friday, November 14, 2008

omg so awesome, 50 cent blood on the sand

So if you're 50 Cent and you have tons of bank to spend, and you already made a shooter video game that made you more bank but was pretty crappy, what's a dude to do? Make a sequel of course, but if you're as much of a 50 fan as I am (srsly) you know that he loves to be flashy and go over the top. That's why I can only be excited for 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand (not much info there unfortunately). It has a great name to begin with but it turns out that the name reveals more about the plot - it's set in the Middle East! Read on:
Set in the Middle East, Fiddy is on the hunt for a bejeweled skull that's owed to him as payment for a concert. "Where's my skull?!" Mr. Cent demands in what is certain to be a classic voice over performance. Because his skull has been stolen, Fiddy and crew (Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo, and DJ Whoo Kid) do the reasonable thing -- they brandish guns and blow the $#^@ out of the Middle East.
OMG. So. Awesome. Sounds like someone went and saw the new Indy movie a few too many times. I want this game, like, today. Apparently it's actually pretty fun and thought to perhaps be "2009's guilty pleasure", according to IGN. I love the mention of what shall be a classic voiceover by Mr. Cent. Loves it!

fallout 3 companion site

Whether you've played Fallout 3 yet or not, check out this awesome companion site to Bethesda's newest game title, Prepare For The Future. You can view preview videos of game aspects and in-game items and tools in awesome grainy 50's style. Also, turns out Fallout for the PC shares a cool feature with the Sims - you can customize the radio stations with your own songs. Personally I actually think the Fallout radio songs are pretty awesome, so here's the extended trailer with my favorite one:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

left 4 dead looks cool

Scheduled for release on November 18, Left 4 Dead is a survival horror cooperative first-person shooter made by Valve Corporation and distributed by EA. Looks like if you're a fan of Resident Evil this game could be a lot of fun while introducing cool new aspects like 4-player co-op where you actually have to work together to get through difficult situations. The plot pits the four Survivors (either player controlled or AI bots) against the Infected, humans afflicted with (of course) a mysterious virus that makes them act zombie-like. There's also an alternate playing mode where you can control up to four Infected Bosses to work together against the Survivors! That's cool. The preview on the L4D page is pretty awesome, so check it out. Left 4 Dead will be released for the PC and for the Xbox 360 and makes a great Christmas present for your young children. Psych!

WoWers rejoice

Because World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King is now available in stores! Although the true fans out there totally got it at a midnight release and have been playing for 8 1/2 hours already, so hats off to you guys, and don't forget to shower at some point today. Of course, any WoWer worth their mined gold or whatever picked up the Collector's Edition, which includes:

  • World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King on DVD-ROM
  • The Art of World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, a 208-page art book
  • An exclusive in-game pet. It's a baby frost wyrm called Frosty.
  • Over an hour of developer interviews, the WotLK intro cinematic with director's commentary, and more on a DVD
  • An official soundtrack CD with 21 tracks from the game as well as bonus tracks
  • A mouse pad with a map featuring a map of Northrend
  • Two World of Warcraft Trading Card Game March of the Legion starter decks, as well as two exclusive cards only in the collector's edition
Okay, a baby frost wyrm named Frosty does sound kind of adorable. So to all the WoWers calling in sick today to dive headfirst into Wrath of the Lich King, enjoy your day in front of your monitor's warm glowing warming glow. I envy your new game enjoyment!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

5 reasons to buy a wii fit

If there's one product I push more than any other to people looking for more stuff to buy for their Wii this holiday season, it's the Wii Fit. To put it into holiday context, if Nintendo is god and the Wii is little baby Jesus then the Fit is, like, the gift of dying for all of our sins that Jesus gave us thirty years later. Or something. Anyway, here's a bunch of reasons that make it totally worth buying a Wii Fit:

1) Posture and balance. You can indeed lose weight using the Fit but easier than that is getting a better feel for your own posture and way of carrying yourself. The Fit's center of gravity tracker is super cool and very revealing. If you're reading this blog you probably like video games enough to sit in a poor-posture-inducing gamer position so it's even more important to pay attention to the Fit's balance measurements.

2) Discipline. There's nothing more frustrating than having a perfect excuse for not having worked out when you meant to yesterday and having no ears for your excuse to fall on but instead the perky little balance board guy is all, "Too busy to work out yesterday, eh, Emdroid?" Bastard! ...But totally motivating.

3) Fun/Stress Relief. It's getting colder and crappier out and everyone's bound to move around a little less and carry a little more stress around. The Fit's balance games are fun enough but even just doing yoga or strength and challenging yourself to do better than last time can release a lot of tension and make you feel refreshed and more relaxed. The higher-intensity stuff is fun too - I spent much of my first days on the Fit hula-hooping my butt off and still enjoy the cute island runs surrounded by Mii friends.

4) New games. This is my main selling point to customers, because it turns out that the balance board is really more of a Wii accessory than a Fit accessory. Shaun White Snowboarding, Wii Music and Raving Rabbids: TV Party are only a few of the titles incorporating the balance board into their control systems, not to mention the various exercise game offshoots, and I think we will see more and more coming out in the future.

5) Health and weight. I touched on these briefly and ultimately, a gym is as good or better, but if a product is encouraging gamers to get healthier, I say do it. Gamers should be cool and enviable, especially awesome gamer chicks, so lets all work together to not be the South Park boys after they got addicted to WoW.

So, not sure why you're still reading this when you could be out finding a Fit! Go!

call of duty 5: world at war out today

The latest installment of the Call of Duty series hits shelves today for PS3 and Xbox 360 (a PS2 version will be released later this month) and will definitely be a hot seller this holiday season. My store actually got to sell our copies early yesterday as soon as they arrived so I saw firsthand the steady traffic of pickups and an equally large group of walkins hoping to get a non-reserved copy. Anyway, this is the first Call of Duty title to include a co-op play mode and also is the first CoD to enter the as-of-yet unexplored realm of the Pacific theater of WWII (one of my expert subjects in school, yeah history major!) as well as the Soviet struggle against the Nazis in the later years of the war. As usual, IGN has an excellent profile of this game up already and hopefully will have some detailed reviews live before long.
Call of Duty: World at War throws out the rulebook of war to transform WWII combat through a new enemy, new tactics and an uncensored experience of the climatic battles that gripped a generation. As U.S. Marines and Russian soldiers, players will employ new features like cooperative gameplay, and weapons such as the flamethrower in the most chaotic and cinematically intense experience to date.
IGN: Call of Duty: World at War

Monday, November 10, 2008

ea seeks to hook kids early

Like so many Joe Camel ads before them, Electronic Arts understands that its main market lies with the 18 to 36 year olds but knows that the real money is in that elusive non-credit-card-holding child demographic of future brand addicts. That's why they've been teaming up with Hasbro to bring the most popular toys and board games that kids are enjoying onto the small screen in the form of interactive video games like Monopoly, Nerf and Littlest Pet Shop. I can tell you first-hand that kids love these games and parents seem less afraid to buy games with titles they recognize from crap they've already spent money on at Toys 'R' Us, so I think EA's master plan may be working.

How EA Markets Video Games to Kids