Tuesday, September 30, 2008

acdc sells album, game and soul to walmart

MTV's Columbia Records and Wal-Mart have made a deal to release a new AC/DC album and accompanying Rock Band video game exclusively in Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores, conveniently right before Christmas, of course.
Despite the game's designation as a Track Pack, the Wal-Mart Web site indicates that it is a "stand-alone" effort, not requiring ownership of either "Rock Band" or "Rock Band 2" (it requires instruments, of course).
Until now, AC/DC's music has rarely been featured in today's music games, appearing only once in "Rock Band 2" and not at all in "Guitar Hero." AC/DC's "Rock Band" treatment balances the move last summer by Activision that made Aerosmith the first band to get its own version of "Guitar Hero."
I guess all aging rock bands reach a point where they realize it's time to tap into the market of selling yourself out to The Man. That's what the Columbia Records guy says, anyway:
“If you want to be a physical band, you better make an alliance with a strong physical retailer,” said Steve Barnett, chairman of Columbia Records. “It’s a great way to sell the new album, the catalog, the game, merchandise and DVDs.” MTV and Wal-Mart are exploring the idea of setting up temporary shops to sell the game and the album in Manhattan and Los Angeles, where the retailer has no stores.
At the same time, I'm sure the music industry is desperately hoping for new and better ways to attach themselves to the thriving game industry as fewer and fewer people want to purchase music on its own. I would guess that more kids under 15 have heard AC/DC and Aerosmith coming out of their Xboxes and Wiis than from a real album.

AC/DC 'Rock Band' Video Game Coming in November
Wal-Mart Signs a Deal with MTV on 'Rock Band' Video Game

EA signs on '300' director to help make games

Zack Snyder, who also directed Dawn of the Dead, will join Electronic Arts to help them develop new video game titles. I love the collab of video game makers and blockbuster filmmakers. I think it can only help to make cooler, more in-depth games based on movies, and also bring fresh ideas to new games that might make cool movie ideas themselves. I personally love video game movies (Silent Hill!) as long as they're good (as in not House of the Dead) and have pipe dreams of one day working in some related industry... Aaaaanyway, I think this is a smart move on EA's part, but then again just three years ago they did the same with Spielberg, so I guess it's not really a new thing.

Snyder will lead the creative direction of the games and work with the production team at EA Los Angeles, the same studio currently collaborating with Spielberg on the game "Boom Blox" for Nintendo Co Ltd's Wii.

EA will own the intellectual properties, and the game franchises will be developed, published and distributed worldwide by EA. The agreement includes efforts to extend the game franchises into theatrical motion pictures.

Hollywood and the video game industry -- revenues of which rival those of the nation's box offices -- continue to work more and more closely, yielding hit game franchises based on films such as the Lord of the Rings and James Bond series.

EA Signs Video Game Deal With '300' Director

wii fit running is surprisingly fun

Now I generally hate running but I'm starting to come around thanks to being able to run in place in my living room; the Wii Fit actually does a good job of making running fun. It's one of the cutest activities you can do, what with all the Miis running around. You also see some Mii-style dogs, and the cool thing I just recently discovered is that if a dog passes by you, you can speed up and start following it instead of your Mii leader. I've managed to run several different tracks on all the distances and really love all the scenery they show you around the Wii Fit Island (see picture). My favorite so far is running through the waves on the beach, and running through the stone tunnel thing. I also enjoy the big jumps you can take if you follow the white dog on the Island Lap distance. Once again I will give the Wii Fit big props as a fantastic living room exercise activity. Totally worth tracking down, if you've got a Wii.

Monday, September 29, 2008

wiimotes make great pompoms

One of the "girl games" on the horizon this year is We Cheer, which comes out tomorrow. This NAMCO title (which I've seen as both We and Wii Cheer but I'm trusting the non-nintendo branded one) uses the Wii's motion controls to simulate cheerleading. Personally I have zero interest in such a thing and I have to imagine that any young girl who would want to play this might be better off like, trying actual sports or something. It may be misguided but I still have to support games being targeted at girls, even if it will still be awhile before the game companies truly understand their young female market. Also, I love the line from the Gamespot preview: "Swing your arms in circles and try to overlook your questionably-proportioned preteen avatar."

xbox 360 blows up in europe thanks to price cuts

Thanks to dropping its UK console prices, Microsoft has announced that its XBox 360 sales have hit the 6 million mark in Europe:
Microsoft has boasted of ‘strong momentum’ following last week’s UK price cuts – and announced that it has broken the six million sales mark in Europe.

The platform holder brought the entry-level SRP for the Arcade console down to £129.99 on Friday, with the standard 60GB 360 priced at £169.99 - leaving it with two consoles under Wii's bargain £179.99 pricetag.
I always think of the Wii as being the most internationally played console but you really can't discount the pervasiveness of Microsoft. Although I've also read numbers showing that the PS3 is by far the most popular console across the pond.

Xbox 360 hits 6m in Europe

new raving rabbids uses wii fit board!

Since getting my Wii Fit I've been hoping that some cool games will come out that use the balance board. So of course I am pretty psyched about the new Raving Rabbids game coming out that apparently will have activities that use the balance board. I had the first Rabbids Wii title for awhile and that is one super fun game. If the fit board is used in interesting ways, this new one could be even cooler. I hope it integrates the music playing from the first - my favorite was always "Bunnies Just Wanna Have Fun" or whatever. Here's a cute trailer for the new Rabbids game:

Friday, September 26, 2008

yay old games on emulators

Many gamers are enthralled with the latest and greatest graphics, speed, seamless gameplay and other high-tech advances in video games. Personally, I can appreciate those things, but I love me some old games! I've mentioned the Gabriel Knight trilogy for PC, 1993 to 1999, as pretty much my favorite games ever. It can be a challenge getting old games to run well on newer machines, and dang near impossible to get an old NES or Genesis to boot up, which is why emulators are awesome. Sure, the Wii can now play old games but it's nice to get them on the PC. I finally got Parappa the Rapper for Playstation (p.s. - super cute website there!) working with a great PSX emulator called ePSXe. It's so fun hearing all the crazy songs again but daaaaamn is it wicked hard using the keyboard keys instead of the far more intuitive Playstation square, circle, x and triangle buttons. Still, good fun, and really it is pretty much the original ancestor of today's ridiculously popular Guitar Hero and Rock Band type games. Playstation had some great games and it's nice to be able to go back and play them without needing a PS3.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

a ton of 12 to 17 year olds are gamers

Not the most shocking statistic, although the numbers are still pretty high: 97% of boys and 94% of girls in that age range play video games, according to a new study. Seems like certain games can also be beneficial to a teen's learning potential:
Turns out that teens who play games with some element of civic engagement also get involved in their real-life communities. Pew defined various types of "civic gaming experiences," including helping other players, forming online guilds and making decisions about how a country should be run. The survey found that teens who played such games (like "World of Warcraft" or "Civilization") are more interested in current events and more likely to participate in civic activities, like volunteer work or charity fundraising.
I have always thought that city building games could only be good for a young person's view of how the world works. Also I still love that 94% of girls 12 to 17... sounds high but still good!

Game News: Big Numbers for Teens and Games

Monday, September 22, 2008

kirby flogos floaty, very cute

Here is a cool video from some Kirby promotional event at one of four U.S. cities with landmarks that share the pink floater's name. How could would it be to see such a thing floating around your town? Reminds me of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force promos stuck all over Boston that people thought were a terrorist attack.

spore patch released

As with all their games, EA has come out with a patch shortly after its September release of SPORE that improves the game and fixes crashes and glitches here and there. I always love reading the Sims patch notes so I was glad to see that the SPORE patch notes were available on EA's site. You can get the patch and read the notes here: Spore Patch. Love the tweaks in difficulty and regularity of planet attacks in Space!

wii motionplus everything the wiimote was supposed to be

With all the criticism of Wii games and the poor use of motion controls, it's no wonder people are getting psyched about the Wii MotionPlus remote add-on that will be released for 2009 games. This article from E3 2008 on IGN goes into interesting detail about the technology behind the motion sensor capabilities of the original Wii controller and how the MotionPlus thing will revolutionize it and, hopefully, make the Wii's motion controls into the truly awesome game innovation that they should have been when they came out originally. I find it funny the way the Wii seems to be beta testing its products on its consumers and perhaps will not really reach its true potential until Wii 3.0 or so! Also, sucks that pretty much every game from now on will need these things so in addition to the one that comes with the Wii Sports Resort, most fans will probably need to pick up at least one more. Boo-urns to that, but I'll still probably do it.
A battle between the Wiimote's response in Wii Sports Baseball and a MotionPlus Wiimote in Wii Sports Resort makes the case easy to decide, as while the original Wii Sports Baseball did its best to judge the angle of one's baseball bat before a scripted swing animation, thanks to the MotionPlus, Wii Sports Resort can capture the user's full input motion in eccentric detail. Suffice to say, supporting games will know exactly how you're holding the Wiimote and the exact direction in which you're swinging it, not just left-right and up-down, but in-and-out as well. We know the standard Wiimote has an extremely tough time judging in-out motions, yet with the MotionPlus, forward sword thrusts are easily discerned by the hardware, and in our tests, rarely confused as a different motion.
IGN E3 2008: Wii MotionPlus Hands On

Thursday, September 18, 2008

wii gets worse reviews than other consoles

As much as I love my Wii, I have to admit that I understand why games released for it often get lower review scores than their PS3 or XBox counterparts. The latest example of this phenomenon is Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, which was came out this week. Gamespot.com gave the Wii version just a 6.0 while the PS3 release got a more favorable 7.5. Seems like this usually comes down to the motion controls, and the fact that focusing on those often means holding back on amazing graphics and smooth gameplay.

Not that I would be very interested in this game to begin with (although my boyfriend has insane Star Wars knowledge and will probably pick this up for his XBox) but it saddens me that more games aren't really made with the motion controls of the Wii in mind. It makes sense that the controls seem tacked on after the fact on many games, because for the most part they were! I've also heard the Wii called "a GameCube that makes you run around the room waving your arms like a fool", in regards to its poor graphics. Personally, I heart the Wii and like the controls for things like Wii Sports and Zelda; I recognize, however, that many Wii games are really better off being rented than purchased. *cough* Spyro *cough-cough* Sounds like SW: TFU falls in that category.

some other company challenges nintendo's patents

Apparently some other company has some kind of motion technology allowing users to select stuff on a screen with a handheld device.
The International Trade Commission has agreed to look into allegations made by Hillcrest Laboratories that the Nintendo Company infringed on patents in making its Wii video game console, the commission said. Hillcrest has accused Nintendo of infringing on four patents. The commission has the power to ban products from the United States if they are made with infringed technology.
Hmm, this Hillcrest company doesn't appear to be doing anything super fun or cute with its motion sensing controllers, so I think I'll have to side with Nintendo here :D How much would it suck if Wiis had to be pulled from shelves because of some kind of patent infringement? Yikes.

Japan: Nintendo's Patents Challenged

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

nintendo needs some market research

OK so this is a little old but I just found it and thought it was hilarious. Check out the cover of Nintendo's UK promotional magazine "Girl Gamer". Wow, that chick is awesome. I want her to teach me how to do my hair and makeup. Also, I can't wait to try playing Imagine: Babyz and Cooking Mama 2! Those sound right up my alley. *Barf* is right!

One Word for Girl Gamer Magazine: Barf

squeezing in one more SP before sims 3

Wow, I had really figured by this point that the Sims 2 would be laid to rest in preparation for the Sims 3 being released in February. Not so much! TheSims2.com is now promoting what will hopefully be the final Stuff Pack: Mansion & Garden Stuff! I hate to admit it but of course I will have to buy this when it comes out and clog up my Sims 2 game even worse than it already is. I may have to ponder a RAM upgrade in the future to handle all the Sims craziness in the upcoming year. This pack looks cool although I'm a little unclear on what exactly will be in it - I guess some building tools and some objects, but it makes me wonder how much it will have to change in the game, or whether it will still be generally the same but just with additional furniture, etc. New garden stuff would be nice; most of what's in the game now is a little hokey/cheesy for anyone but the most country grandma.

more wii sports, sweet!

One of the cuter games debuted at this year's E3 this summer was the bigger, more badass sequel to the Wii Sports that came with the console: Wii Sports Resort! Similar to Wii Play being packaged with a remote, this new title will come with the Wii MotionPlus accessory, an add-on for the remote that I guess makes the motion sensitivity even more sensitive. Anyway, I heart Wii Sports and love to bust it out when company is over. It will be great to have another game with similar light and fun activities. Plus the jetskiing looks totally cool.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

black holes are fun

I've logged quite a lot of time into SPORE by now and despite some less than favorable response to the game, I still think it is amazing! Here's a video I made of traveling through a black hole, an important mode of covering distance in the ridiculously huge galaxy.

electronic arts lets go of take two

After 8 months of talk, Electronic Arts has withdrawn its $2 billion hostile takeover bid for Take-Two Interactive. EA says they ended the bid when it became clear that it was going nowhere fast in time for the upcoming holiday season.

Take-Two has said that the $2 billion price undervalued its shares and long-term potential.

“What was presented to shareholders was not acceptable,” Strauss Zelnick, chairman of Take-Two, said Sunday.

The deal would have combined one of the industry’s largest companies, Electronic Arts, with arguably the biggest game franchise, Grand Theft Auto, which is published by Take-Two.

Electronic Arts Ends Bid for Take-Two Interactive

how scary is the joker in arkham asylum?

Most of the time when a movie (especially a blockbuster) has a companion video game, it seems like the game is pretty much just the movie except broken into actions and decisions to make. Sometimes they can be great - I enjoyed the Harry Potter game for the Wii, though I had the good sense to just rent it - but often they are rushed to market, shallow, and boring. That's why I think it's super cool that following the huge success of The Dark Knight, we're going to see a game that references back to the original comic stories in Batman: Arkham Asylum. The new movie was a fun and scary shift from the Batman films of the 90's and this game looks like a similar appreciation of the dark original storylines. I love the idea of the Joker on a Lecter-style hand guerney at the asylum. I'm sure we'll end up buying this game when it comes out.

we're a 2 system household now

My boyfriend was in a slump yesterday and finally broke out of it by deciding to treat himself to the XBox360 he's been sweating for awhile! He picked up Mass Effect and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and traded in his Wii Madden NFL 09, which he finally declared himself sick of. I still can't believe how huge the 360 is... I guess I have just gotten used to the very petite Wii, and the XBox totally dwarfs the Wii. The wireless controllers are very cool though... I would have loved to try out such a thing on the ol' GameCube but am really more inclined now towards wasting more money on Wii games.

Maybe I will have to try out Braid sometime now that I've got the option right at home.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

sims 3 videos online

One of the best resources out there for Sims stuff, Snooty Sims, has compiled all the current Sims 3 preview movies onto one page, including a foreign one that doesn't seem to have been widely released yet. Check them out: Sims 3 preview movies. A lot of Sims sites out there have a good range of custom content, cheat codes, and discussion; Snooty tops them all for a wealth of Sims information probably more expansive than anything EA or the Prima Guides have ever offered. Above left: Sims 3 will revolutionize body type, a great improvement on the current Fit-Fat-Pregnant spectrum available.

cool game commercial

I'm not big into fighting/shooting/blowing-stuff-up types of games - for example, I generally preferred to peek out from under a blanket cowering in fear when watching my boyfriend play through Resident Evil 4. Still, every time I see this commercial for Mercenaries 2: World in Flames featuring its insanely catchy theme song, it almost is enough to make me want to try the game :D Almost.

studies show: cheap is a good thing

I feel a little like a snobby gamer when I brag that the Wii was a mere $250 and the games are typically $40 and under, $50 for a brand-new release. Really though, all I am is low on expendable income. Seems like more game companies are targeting those like me out there with limited bank and (less like me) limited time to engage in button-mashing and eyes-glazed-over gaming. The New York Times features a small piece on the latest installment of the Ratchet & Clank series for PlayStation 3, "Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty". This title is different because it is exclusively downloadable for the PS3, and it only costs $15. What makes R&CF:QfB stand out from most cheap downloadable console games? This one utilizes the engine already designed for the full-size physically purchasable games so that this downloadable title, which only takes 3 or 4 hours to complete, looks, sounds and plays very similarly to its extremely popular already existing titles.

"Booty succeeds because its developer, Insomniac Games, has been able to employ the artistic and technical resources it built to support its major retail releases to cook up the piquant, juicy little nugget of gaming that is Booty. As Ratchet, our furry wrench-wielding hero, battles goofy interstellar pirates in search of his lost robot friend, Clank, the lagoons and caverns he traverses look, if anything, better than the environments in Tools of Destruction.

And you’ll still be able to afford a decent dinner."

Download the Game, Then Keep the Change

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

SPORE video

Well my last post was about SPORE and since then I have played quite a lot of it (and so has my boyfriend, we have never been such computer nerds before, I swear!). It is truly a great game and it seems like the years of development that went into it paid off. It's very complete, intuitive yet challenging, and really cute and fun. I made an herbivorous creature that ended up sort of centaur-like, that proceeded to convert everyone else to its religion before blasting off to space. I made a video (my first non-Sims movie) from some clips I took of the creature's "spirit" in the Civilization level converting towns on the continent through religious persuasion.

My boyfriend's game looks very different - his creature from the beginning was pure evil, running around slaughtering all the other innocent tribes and developing into a horrifying fly monster looking thing. Now that he is in the later stages his goals are all about the military, rather than religious like mine has become because I don't like to kill other creatures. You can also end up with an economic focused game I think if you start out omnivorous. I plan on starting a new world fairly soon and making more craaaazy creatures!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

nytimes puts the spotlight on SPORE

This game is gonna be yooge... very interesting article in the NY times:

“You’re just attacking them?” he asks as Dr. Near tries to eat a fat purple worm that looks too dangerous to bother.

“If you kill them, you unlock their parts,” Dr. Near explains. But then the purple worm sticks its syringelike mouth into Dr. Near’s beast and begins to drain its innards. “Uh-oh, I’m about to die,” he says. The screen fades to black.

The next time, Dr. Near’s luck changes. He gains enough points to move to the next level of the game. His creature grows a brain. “Oh man, it’s like I graduated college,” he says. Dr. Near can now alter his creature. He stretches the body to give it a neck. He adds a pair of kangaroolike legs.

His creature — or, rather, a swarm of his creatures — charge out of the ocean and onto land. Dr. Near pushes back the laptop as his creatures find a place to make their nest and lay eggs. “So that’s pretty cool,” he says with a grin not often seen on a professor.

New Computer Game Spore Takes Cues from Evolutionary Biology